PETALING JAYA: The never-ending court cases involving politicians accused of corruption make it extremely difficult for the country to attract foreign investors, says a former minister.
Rafidah Aziz said no matter how efficient the civil service is, investors would “still look at court cases”.
These court cases give the investors the wrong impression of Malaysia, she added.
“But what to do? It’s the perception,” she said when discussing the challenges the current government had to deal with when it came to foreign direct investment on the latest episode of the “Keluar Sekejap” podcast.
Several high-profile corruption cases have hogged the limelight in the country.
Former prime minister Najib Razak is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence after he was convicted for abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) over SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.
Muhyiddin Yassin, who was the country’s eighth prime minister, is facing money laundering charges involving about RM200 million in funds linked to the Jana Wibawa programme.
Rafidah also told the government to start working on initiatives before announcing them.
“I am nauseated by the government’s announcements. There is no need to announce, just take action. In the past, we used to say if someone talks a lot, are you Nato? No action, talk only?”
Rafidah headed what was the ministry of international trade and industry from 1987 until 2008, spanning three prime ministers – Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak.
She remains the longest-serving female MP, serving two different constituencies Selayang and Kuala Kangsar from 1978 until 2008.
In preventing the government’s industrial master plan from being “short-circuited”, she believed that coherent instructions should be provided from the ministerial level to local governments.
She said, from her experience, investments would not materialise due to the lack of efficiency and coherency in implementation at the lower level.
“Sometimes the masterplan is good, but getting land approval is difficult because the executive committee (exco) doesn’t pass it, so it takes too long. As a result, people lose trust in us.
“During my tenure, the Cabinet directive was two weeks, but it took close to two months at the lower level (to be implemented). This goes against our efforts, and that’s why the implementation got short-circuited. This is still happening even now,” Rafidah said.
In September, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim launched the New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP) 2030 outlining the government’s objectives to transform Malaysia into a high-tech industrialised nation.
Unlike the previous industrial transformations and three industrial master plans since 1986, Anwar said the NIMP 2030 adopts a mission-based approach.
In NIMP 2030, the industries have been encouraged to innovate and produce more sophisticated products; embracing technology and digital transformation; pushing for net-zero emissions and safeguarding economic security; and inclusivity.
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