Dr Mahathir’s return restores investors’ faith

by BERNAMA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to the premiership after last month’s 14th General Election has restored the faith of Japanese industries in the Malaysian market, said a high ranking Japanese official.

The Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyagawa (picture) said the Japanese industries hesitated in making investments in Malaysia over the past three years due to risks in the country’s political and economic circumstances.

“Media reports for the past few years did not give us a good prospect for the future of Malaysia, particularly in its strategic engagement, industrial policy, and economic strategy.

“With the come back of Dr Mahathir, I’m sure our industries will be very delighted to think positively of their engagement with Malaysia and its industries,” he told Bernama at the news agency’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Japan is Malaysia’s largest foreign direct investment (FDI) contributor. Last year, its FDI stock to Malaysia was approximately US$13 billion (RM51.61 billion).

Miyagawa said new policies announced by the new Malaysian government shows the country is ready to keep “its house in order” by cleaning up its debts, and Japan is keen to engage with Malaysia’s new administration.

He said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking forward to meeting Dr Mahathir when the latter visits Tokyo for the 24th International Conference on the Future of Asia from June 11-12.

Both sides are currently preparing for what would be Dr Mahathir’s first visit since being sworn in as the country’s seventh prime minister last month.

During Dr Mahathir first stint as the country’s fourth prime minister from 1981-2003, he introduced the Look East Policy, which created a benchmark for Malaysia-Japan bilateral relations.

Reciprocating Dr Mahathir’s desire to revive the Look East Policy, Miyagawa said Abe and the Japanese government look forward to reinvigorating relations between the two countries, including in trade and investments.

“We would like to evaluate the effectiveness, meanings of the policy and we would be very happy to expand and broaden the policy,” he said, adding that with the current positive outlook, Japan hopes its cooperation with Malaysia would help expand employment and improve Malaysia’s technology level.

On Dr Mahathir’s administration decision to scrap the Kuala LumpurSingapore high-speed rail project, on which Japan is a keen bidder, Miyagawa said he understands and respects the decision.

The envoy said Japan is willing to wait and will be there once Malaysia is ready to reconsider the project in the future.

“With an accumulated debt being so huge, I think Malaysia’s priority would be placed in keeping the house in order and when Malaysia is ready, we will be more than happy to engage with Malaysia once again,” he said.

Miyagawa assures that whenever that time comes, Japan’s proposal would certainly consider human resource development, technology transfer and beneficial engagement with the Malaysia and Singapore industries.