It’s a matter of quality versus quantity
KL

How time flies — our fasting month has own by and the Hari Raya celebration with numerous open houses is over. It has been really enjoyable meeting so many family, friends and business associates at these gatherings.

I was often asked at the various open houses about the progress of investments into Greater Kuala Lumpur (KL), our competitiveness and ultimately, whether we are attracting the right quality investment. I sensed a level of scepticism when I responded that investments remain steady, our city livability has improved tremendously and we are very competitive vis-a-vis our regional peers.

So, let’s do a quick analysis of where we stand at mid year.

Livability

From a livability standpoint, Malaysia is now ranked 11th among 138 nations in the Global Competitive Index 2016-2017 in transport infrastructure development.

This month marked the launch of the game-changing, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line. I was lucky to be a part of the launch and the train ride to Kajang, and I must say the service is high quality and world class. It is no doubt a huge blessing to urbanites who commute frequently between the two townships. The good news is, we can expect more MRT users or, in fact, users of public transport increasing with the completion of this line.

I am certain that having a sound, quality public transportation system such as the integrated MRT system will help improve KL’s charm when it comes to attracting foreign direct investments.

The River of Life project is slowly taking shape, while the taxi and bus issues are being tackled and the legislation of the ride-sharing is due soon.

Other transportation infrastructure projects within KL such as the high-speed rail and the upcoming MRT2 are also on-track. Hence, good progress and more to look forward to.

Competitiveness

Of late, questions of Malaysia’s competitiveness and even the news of closures of major global factories in Malaysia (of various industries) have made its rounds in the social media.

Unfortunately, many people get excited over rumours and apparent bad news, whereas the good deeds and positive news within the country — whether it is the launch of a new multinational company in the country or a new investment win, may not attract so much positive attention and ravings.

Perhaps, it is only human nature. Despite the global economic challenges, investments into the country and Greater KL continues to be steady. Recently, we have seen great announcements from a number of multinational corporations (MNCs) such as Air Liquide SA, Linde AG, China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) and HSBC Holdings plc for example, all of whom are expanding their regional business from here. While InvestKL has a mandate to attract 100 MNCs by 2020, we have always focused on getting high quality investments, not so much on quantity.

We signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Air Liquide to create a talent pipeline and support technical collaboration with startup companies in Malaysia. We were also excited to have exchanged an MoU with CCB at its grand opening, witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak. The MoU will allow both parties to cooperate and exchange information towards promoting investment opportunities and activities between Greater KL and China.

We also witnessed Linde Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s launch of their first automated gas filling plant in Banting, which is also the first in Asean. Furthermore, in the past two years alone, Linde has invested over RM1 billion to strengthen its position and leadership in the industrial gas industry and to support its customers in their growth plans, while delivering sustainable and profitable growth for its shareholders in Asia. According to Linde, the Banting plant serves as a Centre of Excellence for the industrial gases industry in Malaysia. If you want to see Industry 4.0 in action, just visit Linde.

HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd has committed to develop Malaysia as a financial hub in the Asean region, with a RM1.06 billion (US$250 million) investment announced to construct HSBC’s future headquarter office in the Tun Razak Exchange site.

I am confident that with more high quality foreign direct investments from MNCs in Greater KL, job opportunities will grow and with the rapid development of the city landscape and connectivity, our rakyat will continue to benefit.

In the high technology and information exchange era, it is crucial that we continue looking forward to improvement and advancements for the betterment of our cities and the quality of life for everyone who continues to call KL home. I’m looking forward to more high quality activities in the second-half of 2017.

  • Datuk Zainal Amanshah, InvestKL CEO since 2011, brings with him 20 years of private sector experience in senior positions at MNCs, Malaysian companies and startups. You can follow Zainal on Twitter: @Zainalamanshah.