PETALING JAYA: A former MP and an economist have called for greater transparency over the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed between Malaysian companies and their Chinese counterparts during Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s recent visit there.
Former Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong maintained that Malaysia needed concrete investments to spur economic growth.
The government must insist that only Malaysian companies with a solid track record are allowed to participate, he said.
The former PKR man expressed concern at the lack of information publicly available about the Malaysian companies involved in the venture and urged the government to be more forthcoming.
“We need details. We need transparency from the government. Why are we being so secretive? To me, this implies something is amiss. If you’re talking about investments, lay everything on the table.
“When you want to sign MoUs or bring Malaysian companies to do business with foreign companies, the Malaysian firms must have solid track records. They represent our country, so they must be of good standing,” he told FMT.
Wee, previously a DAP member and the Bukit Bintang MP, warned Putrajaya not to lead Malaysians down the garden path on the matter as the country’s image was at stake.
Carmelo Ferlito of the Center for Market Education applauded the investment, trade and industry ministry (Miti) for publicising the list of MoUs signed and the companies involved, but also pointed out that there was a lack of details about most of the deals.
“While it can be understood that there’s a need to protect the businesses, a higher degree of transparency would be welcome, at least to shed light on the nature of the businesses which the signing firms would like to promote.
“A higher degree of transparency on the nature of the projects involved would ensure better understanding of the potential positive spillover on the Malaysian economy,” he said.
Ferlito hopes the MoUs will not remain mere “declarations of intent”. They must translate into actual business to spur investments and create job opportunities here, he said.
On Monday, former second finance minister Johari Ghani urged Putrajaya to explain the screening process for firms selected, saying some of these companies did not have a proper track record.
In a video posted on Twitter two days later, Miti minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz said the government had conducted a thorough screening process to ensure that the deals made bring significant economic benefits to Malaysia, he said.
Johari maintained that the prime minister ought not to have been present to witness MoUs signed by companies without a proven track record, as this came at the cost of the country’s image.
In an interview with TV3 on Thursday, the Titiwangsa MP said the prime minister should only be present to witness major MoU signings, such as the one struck between Geely Holding Group and DRB-Hicom Berhad.