In the second part of this three-part interview on the country's economic woes, analyst Tony Pua shares his views on China's growing dominance and Malaysia's ambivalent policies towards the economic giant.
The 34-year-old Oxford University graduate, who runs an IT company in Cyberjaya, also speaks on the need for Malaysia to find it's next competitive niche, in addition to ICT (Information and Communications Technology).
Malaysiakini: What do you think of Malaysia's policies on China?
Pua: I think there has been quite a few references on China all around, in the budget and economic reports. It was mentioned all over. The government does recognise the impact of China on the region, whether as a threat or as an opportunity in manufacturing and investment and so on. But do we have enough of a specific policy to deal with China?
Tourism statistics since the lady's case (the nude squad incident, first believed to involve a Chinese national but later confirmed as a Malaysian) has not been good. One of my investors, from China, said to me 'What are you Malaysians trying to do to us Chinese?' [laughs].
It showed that the news (of the nude squat and other similar incidents) were quite widely reported there (China). The statistics (on Chinese tourists) clearly showed that form just above half a million or 550,000 in 2004, it became 352,000 in 2005, which is a 36 percent drop. It has increased a bit this year compared to last year, but in the first five months it's still 33 percent below the 2004 figures.
Even the numbers two years ago are low, a special report by CLSA (Asia-Pacific brokerage firm) and WTO (World Trade Organisation) indicated that China would be the second largest travel and tourism spenders by 2015.
Yeah, we are getting a lot of Middle East tourists and that's a good thing. But relative to the top 10 country spenders, China is number two. And there's no other Asian country on this list. And China is so close to us. It's only a three-hour flight from the southern tip of China. Why shouldn't we try to get more of these people?