By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblymen for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Wednesday, 24.9.1986:
Dr. Mahathir should not just concentrate on attracting foreign investment, but even more important, on attracting domestic investment as well.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamed, indicated yesterday that the Government will introduce “radical changes” to attract foreign investment to the country and provide a boost to the sluggish economy.
The Prime Minister will announce the new guidelines for foreign investors at a meeting with American businessmen in New York at the end of the month.
Dr. Mahathir should bear in mind the following two points if the Government is to improve the investment climate in Malaysia.
Firstly, a favorable economic and investment condition is not just a matter of relaxing rules and regulations, but gaining the confidence of investors in the government and system. Although the Prime Minister and other top government leaders seem top be very concerned about attracting foreign investors to Malaysia, they should realize that the greatest obstacle to attract foreign investors would be the spate of extremist speeches and statements that were made during last week’s UMNO and UMNO Youth Assemblies;
Secondly, Dr. Mahathir should not just concentrate on attracting foreign investors, but even more important, should attract domestic investors as well. If the Malaysian economic climate cannot convince Malaysians to invest locally, how could they expect foreign investors to come to Malaysia to put in their investments?
I hope Dr. Mahathir is aware that the spate of extremist and chauvinist speeches and statements by UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders’ last week has further damaged the investment climate of Malaysia, to the extent that many Malaysians are thinking seriously about pulling out their capital and to divest these investments abroad.
Whatever good Dr. Mahathir may achieve in his New York address to American business men to paint an attractive investment climate in Malaysia may not be enough to remedy the harm done to investor confidence by the spate of extremist UMNO and UMNO Youth speeches last week.
If the government is to come out with a package which could regain confidence and attract foreign as well as local investors, the Government should be prepared to announce that the New Economic Policy will not be extended after 1990, and that the Industrial Co-ordination Act which has suffocated investment in the country would be abolished.