Anwar: Azmin’s casual attitude trivialises worrying trend of MNCs opting out of Malaysia

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Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has taken a swipe at his former ally Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, accusing the latter of being disconnected from reality following his casual response to tech giant IBM’s departure from Malaysia.

The PKR president also pointed out that other multinationals and foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities are opting away from Malaysia over the last few months, a trend that he accused the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government of trivialising.

“The IBM announcement comes after similar announcements from companies moving out of Malaysia, including Hyundai and Panasonic, as well as reports that other Asean countries are scoring big investments from the global Fortune 500, including top technology brands.

“The PN government’s response to this trend seems to be that it doesn’t matter. The senior minister overseeing foreign investment said that Malaysia has the luxury of being selective and is seeking high-value investors while turning away the low-value ones.

Hari Anggara

“We find the minister’s casual attitude to reflect the PN government’s disconnect from the reality Malaysia is facing,” Anwar said in a statement shared on his Facebook account.

This after Azmin, the senior minister of international trade and industry, denied that Malaysia was losing out on foreign investments from multinationals to neighbouring countries.

Azmin had said that Putrajaya was instead employing a more selective investment plan, in its aim towards reducing its dependence on foreign labour while gunning for more quality investments.

He had made the comments a day after IBM announced that it would be shutting down its Global Delivery Centre, in Cyberjaya on May 31, after seven years.

Among the recent developments Anwar pointed out to Azmin include how the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) had in their January report stated that FDI into Malaysia dropped more than two-thirds to US$2.5 billion (RM10.33 billion) in 2020, which also made it the worst-performing economy in South-east Asia.

The Port Dickson MP also reminded the senior minister that the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry had voiced its concerns regarding Malaysia as a viable investment destination, and how Malaysia was downgraded to a BBB+ by credit raters Fitch.

Anwar said such performance markers coming from PN’s first year in power only underscored its failure as a government, one he said was also without a legislative mandate.

“The declaration of a state of emergency and prorogation of Parliament was interpreted by the private sector as a desperate attempt to cling to power.

“The Emergency has eroded confidence in the PN coalition, its policy framework and its commitment to good governance and the rule of law.

“Decisions made by the PN government show its preference for closed-door, backroom deal-making — which are antithetical to attracting investment and building confidence in our economy,” Anwar wrote.

Anwar added that his allegations of the government preferring to undertake projects not completely by the book were only proven through its plans to roll out the 5G spectrum through a government-owned Special Purpose Vehicle.

“Arguably a lynchpin in PN’s national digital strategy, the RM15 billion project has been subject to zero scrutiny, zero industry consultation and represents one of the only countries in the world to adopt such an approach.

“With no clarity offered on the terms of the 5G deal, we wonder how many more investors will be looking elsewhere for safer shores,” Anwar said. – MMO