Dr M calls for high-tech investments from UK

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre). (Bernama pic)

LONDON: Malaysia seeks investments in high technology, in line with the country’s goals of providing a high income for its people, said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad here today.

“This is our need today … our people are now better trained and many are graduates from universities. We cannot expect them to do manual work like assembling things like we used to do before.

“We need them to be engineers who will be working with new equipment, new machinery, to be familiar with the need to maintain and repair the machines that do the work,” he said when opening a roundtable meeting with the British business community.

The meeting was part of Mahathir’s three-day working visit to the UK.

The prime minister pointed out that Malaysia was already a business-friendly nation and ever ready to fine tune its policies to accommodate investors as business creates jobs and wealth for the country.

“We are already receiving FDI (foreign direct investment) and we have acquired lots of foreign technologies and today of course we are into IT (information technology) and want to exploit the new business and methods so as to grow our country as fast as possible.

“Of course, when we were small, we were growing at a rate of 11 or 12%. But now with a bigger economy, growth of the same volume will be reflected by a smaller percentage.

“So we are still growing at a rate of more than 4% and we hope we can do better this year with 4.4 or 4.6%,” he said.

Mahathir also pointed out at the outset of the roundtable that Malaysia’s policies were not far from the original ones and the country still needed investments to grow. Domestic investments were far too small to bring in enough technologies to upgrade the earnings of the people.

Mahathir said Malaysia was very comfortable with UK investors as English was also spoken in Malaysia and this could help facilitate business.

Today’s meeting was organised by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation and was attended by representatives of 50 organisations including leading companies such as Thales, Jardine Matheson, HSBC Holdings, BAE Systems, Shell, Standard Chartered, and Prudential. Representatives from leading British universities were also present.

Dr Mahathir’s message on high-tech investment was echoed in CYBERJAYA today by communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo.

He said Malaysia remained committed to high-end manufacturing and industrialisation and would identify strategic partners who could help make the country a preferred destination for the high-tech companies.

Malaysia must step up its efforts to attract research and development companies to the country.

Incentives would be offered to entice global information technology companies while encouraging local small and medium enterprises to invest in R&D and automation.

The responsibility to grow and nurture the technology industry should be shouldered by all relevant parties working together to create a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem, not just by one ministry, he said.