COMMENT | During the launching of an e-commerce micro-financing fund on Sunday, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak claimed that once Pakatan Harapan comes into power, many of the contracts signed with China will be cancelled. This will harm cooperations between Malaysia and China, at the same time affecting the Malaysian economy.
Najib also lambasted the opposition for playing politics to fulfil their personal agenda, disregarding the interests of the people, stating in the election manifesto that they will review or cancel the contracts awarded by the BN to foreigners, including the contracts signed with China, which is very irresponsible.
Yesterday Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed said in the Parliament that if Malaysia has conflicts with China due to the cancelling of the projects, the Felda settlers would be suffering, as China has been the major importer of oil palm and rubber commodities from Malaysia, through the ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’.
Pakatan Harapan manifesto being twisted
Think tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) is in the opinion that the intention of Pakatan Harapan to review the contracts signed by BN is not to harm cooperation with China, or any other country, but to protect the interest of the people by ensuring that foreign investment projects will benefit our economic development and growth, and the outcome will benefit everyone.
It is clearly stated in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto that after the reviews, as long as it is ensured that the contracts signed by the BN government with foreign countries do not involve elements of frauds and corruption, Pakatan Harapan will continue to encourage foreign investments from China and other Asian countries into Malaysia, continuously.
As for reviewing Chinese investments, it is to ensure that all investments from China are of good quality, and will bear fruits that will be enjoyed by all the people, instead of fattening a small number of cronies and even irresponsibly causing skyrocketing national debts.
However, Najib has been repeatedly making a fuss that the opposition will cancel Chinese investments after winning power, therefore twisting the intentions of the opposition. This is not only threatening the people that they should not change the government, but is also an attempt to distract attention and cover up his own political interest with untrue statements.
Najib’s personal interest comes first
It is commonly known that in line with the booming of China's economy, it is an important opportunity for economic development for Chinese investments to enter Malaysia. But it is questionable on whether Najib is prioritising his personal interest or the people’s interest in the foreign investment projects.
Currently, the cooperation projects between Malaysia and China are controversial because the government-to-government projects are mainly funded by loans that are transacted through non-affiliated companies, while China is providing the technological needs.
According to analyses by scholars, the data of these transactions are not included into the traditional foreign direct investment (FDI) data, because they do not meet the standard definition of FDI. Instead, these transactions are registered as “Other investments” in Malaysia’s Balance of Payments data, which is not published by the country.
Amounts of loan financing unknown
Therefore the FDI data underestimates the scale of Chinese investments in Malaysia, and the amounts of loan financing for these projects are unknown.
Other than that, as for the higher economic risk mega foreign projects, the BN government has never submitted a cost-benefit analysis to the Parliament, thus the assessment of the value of the foreign investment projects cannot be done. It is also known whether the people’s interests have been taken into consideration. And what we see is that Najib has been making use of foreign investments to produce a political situation being favourable for himself.
The BN government not only failed to ensure that foreign investments suit the people’s interests, but also places Najib’s personal political interests above the people’s interests!
We agree that once Pakatan Harapan comes into power, they need to review all foreign investment contracts signed by the BN government, in order to ensure foreign investment projects are not affected by Najib’s personal political interests, and also to ensure that public interests are safeguarded.
After all, we believe that Pakatan Harapan will definitely have the Felda settlers’ interests in mind, ensuring that they will continue to reap benefits through commodity exports, therefore there would not be the issue of Malaysia having conflicts that invite China’s retaliation. Pakatan Harapan should know well that Malaysia cannot afford a trade war against any other country, just as the ongoing one between China and the United States.
We believe that Pakatan Harapan does not oppose Chinese investments or other foreign investments from entering Malaysia, but that it welcomes foreign investors to carry out good quality investment projects in Malaysia. It is just that while accepting foreign investments, we also need to carefully choose foreign investment projects in order to truly achieve a win-win situation, and be investments beneficial to the country and the people.
OOI HENG is the executive director of think tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.