YOURSAY | ‘Even if Ma’s tall tale about MSC can’t be believed, M’sia has nothing to lose.’
Vent: You have to give it to savvy Alibaba chief Jack Ma. He sure does know how to apple-polish his hosts and milk his audience to the hilt by saying the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) was the inspiration behind his e-commerce giant Alibaba.
But I would caution us from getting too pally-wally with Ma. The look on the face of the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, at the launch of Alibaba Group’s Southeast Asian office is a stark and sour reminder that our dealings with China haven't been hunky dory in.
Lepak: There have been some murmurings about Chinese activities under then premier Najib Razak, but it seems the relationship Chinese interests have with Malaysia is deepening and broadening.
Whether it is private initiatives or government-to-government projects, Beijing senses a good opportunity in the ‘new Malaysia’. And that can only be good for us.
China is now the world's new economic powerhouse and given a choice between Looking West or East in the era of Donald Trump, I'd take the latter.
BuatApa?: You'd have to be blind and unbelievably ignorant to not see what Ma is doing here with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Ma sees Malaysia as China's newest ‘frontier economy’ that he can tilt and exhaust. And Mahathir is going to great lengths to ensure the world's biggest investors will see Malaysia in the same way.
And the implications will be huge. Forget 2020. Like Look East, 2020 was always big pie-in-the-sky garbage. Sorry, old man: you can't get Malaysia across the line from a middle-income economy trap if what I read of your economic strategy is true.
What you'll see happen in Malaysia is what you'll find in much of China's hinterland. And Malaysians looking for professional, white-collar, better-paid jobs: I wouldn't bank on it. Not for a long, long while.
Anti Conmen: Indeed, how can an unviable and failed project like the MSC inspire Ma?
MSC had even so many high-profile international advisors like Bill Gates, but failed miserably, and wasted billions of ringgit to prop it up.
Gulengtu: Why didn't Ma say what he said about MSC the last time he came here when Najib was the prime minister?
Joe Lee: I can imagine when Ma meets with Chinese premier Xi Jinping, he would say something like: "Alibaba was my way of showing the righteousness of our communist socialist revolution with Chinese characteristics. The Communist Party of China is forever close to my heart!"
Doc: Hmm. I wonder if the Communist Party of China sent Ma to suck up to Mahathir, to make sure he plays ball with the country’s One Belt One Road initiative – that the prime minister doesn’t derail the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Railway (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL), nor their grand plans for enslaving Malaysia through debt.
Hplooi: The ‘level playing field’ is a much-touted characteristic of the free market. But in truth, ‘level’ in its absolute sense is a myth.
To understand the degree of market-neutrality, you need to go back to Markets 101. Barriers to market entry include capital, expertise/technology, regulations, and geo-economics.
Where geo-economics is concerned, some sectors are susceptible to natural monopolies, e.g., high start-up costs in erecting infrastructure for data connectivity, which ensure that telecommunications companies that own the cable network have a natural advantage over independent service providers.
In the case of the Ma’s mooted digital free trade zone (DFTZ), since it is set up by Alibaba, companies associated with them will have a natural advantage. Legislation is therefore needed to force equal access to network access.
Kawanlu: Well, well, well. Mahathir rode in on a social media and populist wave to win against all odds, used some anti-China rhetoric, led his supporters to believe in the return of mythical halcyon days (‘make Malaysia great again’), turned ‘blue’ (BN) states ‘red’ (Bersatu), promised reviews of purportedly unfair contracts and undid some deals upon entering office.
Then he is praised by his supporters as a messiah and seen to be able to do no wrong. Sounds like a certain world leader we all know. A leader who also cosied up to China once the dust of the election had settled.
Anonymous_2af68a92: Ma may be lying through his teeth, but so what? Malaysia has nothing to lose here.
Legit: Malaysia has always maintained a policy of welcoming foreign investments. However, the investments have to be real, meaning funds invested in land, building and people and the project help to grow our GDP and preferably exports.
Those so-called investments by way of loans that Malaysia has to pay big interest rates on and with kickbacks to the those in power are not what the country needs.
Abd Karim: As long as it is not ‘One Malaysia One Bribe’ to go with One Belt One Road, Malaysians have nothing to complain about with this investment.
Hplooi: Thank you, Bai Tian. Who knows, now that China Communications Construction Company is free of some ‘extra-obligations,’ the capex (capital expenditure) for the ECRL can come down significantly?
Ex-Wfw: Any proposal to make rail connectivity affordable should be pursued, as in the next two decades, our trade within the Euro-Asian land mass will be growing if we play our hand right.
Within this land mass, rail is the only option, and with shorter distance (as compared to shipping) and also greater speed, our trading connectivity can improve.
In fact, the double track to Singapore should be realised so that trucks from Thailand via our roads can be reduced and also make it cheaper for the Asean trading partners.
The Return of the Tiger: An excellent proposal. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that with capital cost a fraction of the HSR, the proposed speedy train project can attract more users by offering reduced fares as well.
A travel time of just over two hours is pretty good and most importantly, the train can be in service much, much sooner than the HSR could.
New Horizon: All constructive proposals should be given serious consideration. Remember, at the end of the day, it would be taxpayers’ money.
If the construction cost is lowered, presumably the cost for the train users will be lower too, and thus make the project more economically viable.
On the Other Hand: The biggest saving is, of course, no 40 thieves being there to pocket their share of the loot.
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