He says Malaysia will need economic powerhouses like China to boost productivity
By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
“Do come to Malaysia not only as tourists, but as investors as well.”
This was the powerful message sent by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during a dialogue with some 400 prominent businessmen from China yesterday.
He said Malaysia is open for business with Chinese firms, as it will provide mutual benefits to both countries.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia, as a developing nation, will need economic powerhouses like China to boost productivity and vibrancy of the domes- tic economy.
“With China prospering, we can have a share of the prosperity by improving our bilateral trade and investment ties with China.
“Currently, the bilateral trade is in deficit for Malaysia. We feel the deficit can be mitigated by investments from Chinese companies…so, we welcome investments from China,” Dr Mahathir said, and the audience responded with thunderous applause.
He was speaking in a dialogue organised by China Entrepreneur Club, chaired by billionaire and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd chairman Jack Ma. Ma also moderated the dialogue session.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia would like to be a manufacturing heaven, just like China.
“We are not like China, as we don’t have the technology like you have here. China has become the factory of the world and we also want to become like China where we not only buy products, but produce them domestically.
“Malaysia would like to learn on the ways to be a global manufacturer as good as China,” Dr Mahathir said.
He also elevated concerns expressed by Chinese investors on the new government’s direction on China post the 14th General Election.
He said some investments committed by the previous government were merely borrowings from China without any benefit to Malaysia and Malaysians.
“We have to redefine what are foreign direct investments (FDIs). Borrowing money is not FDI, but it is borrowing,” he explained.
Dr Mahathir also said Chinese businesses are invited to view Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as potential joint-venture (JV) partners.
He said this will enable a win-win result by providing market access to Chinese firms, as well as a capital boost for the local firms.
“Our SMEs are not big in numbers, but big in potential. The potential is because there is a lot of opportunities that are available for them to expand their businesses.
“We welcome foreign participation in SMEs for better company positioning and product quality, especially in the automotive sector,” Dr Mahathir added.