4:04pm 17/07/2023
As politics heats up, let’s not forget the economy
By:Sin Chew Daily

In the midst of intense politicking at this juncture, perhaps local politicians should talk less politics and focus more on the economy instead, so that Malaysians can look forward to better days ahead.

The country’s political temperature is rising, as the six state elections are drawing nigh. Political parties are readying themselves for the ultimate showdown.

As a matter of fact, the political battle has quietly begun, as we read about all sorts of politicians’ assaults waged against their opponents.

Although the upcoming elections will not entail the federal administration, their impact could be much more than just the state administrations involved.

As a consequence, parties on opposite sides of the divide are bracing themselves for an intense fight that is poised to further exacerbate the country’s political tension.

In the midst of the fired up political climate, kindly be reminded that while it is of paramount importance for political camps to wrestle power from their arch-rivals, we have a much bigger mission to undertake: to revitalize the country’s economy.

Fortunately, in the taut political environment, there have been some encouraging news in the economic domain that breathe a refreshing relief on the backdrop of plummeting ringgit and skyrocketing goods prices.

Let’s momentarily toss the political hubbub aside and focus on the country’s economic development.

Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had a video conference with Tesla CEO Elon Musk on the latter’s investment in Malaysia.

Anwar said tens of thousands of technology job opportunities would be created following Musk’s agreement to invest heavily in this country.

According to the PM, Musk also agreed to cooperate with the Malaysian government to bring SpaceX’s Starlink internet services to the country, which is great news to the lethargic Malaysian economy.

Indeed, the country is encountering tremendous challenges in her post-pandemic recovery. The massive influx of foreign investments should help expedite the otherwise sluggish economy and bring back the long lost market prosperity.

Tesla has planned to set up a head office in Malaysia as well as experience and service centers, and superchargers.

Although Tesla has yet to announce whether to set up a gigafactory in Malaysia, local analysts are generally upbeat about Tesla’s arrival here, as it will speed up the development of the country’s EV ecosystem.

Malaysia needs more quality investments to catapult the country into high-end industrial development, as we cannot be perpetually contented with low-end downstream manufacturing.

Currently lacking high-end industrial investments, Malaysia has been traditionally dependent on cheap labor as a recipe to woo investments, but such a modus operandi will sap the country’s global competitiveness.

A transition from labor-intensive low-end industries towards tech-heavy high-end sectors should be viewed as one of the directions of the country’s meaningful economic transformation.

BlueChip VC, a semiconductor industry venture capital fund set up by a Penang industrial veteran and other industrial elites here and abroad, serves as shining example of such transition.

The VC fund will propel the country’s development in home-grown integrated circuit (IC) design, diverting the local semiconductor sector from back-end manufacturing to front-end IC design, which should be the direction the government and local businesses work towards.

The government should put in more effort and minimize red tape in a bid to to bring in more quality foreign investments, besides providing substantial facilities and perks.

The PM has revealed that the government will issue Strategic Investor Pass (SIP) for investors to enter the country on a multiple-entry basis.

Through this facilitation, strategic investors identified by MIDA will be able to stay in the country for a minimum of five years with a view of being extended for another five years.

The government has indeed made a very positive move to woo foreign investments.

In the meantime, the ACCCIM has submitted a 36-page short to medium-term proposal for the 2024 Budget to PM Anwar, which includes among others allowing senior foreign management personnel to extend their stay here for five years. Such a pro-investment proposal should be seriously considered by the authorities.

In addition, the Johor-Singapore special economic zone unveiled last week will also help catalyze the country’s economic development.

The two countries will set up a special task force to look into the details of the proposal, with the findings briefed to the leaders of both countries during their unofficial summit this October.

Win-win collaboration is set to be the mainstay of the new era. Both Malaysia and Singapore, separated by only a narrow body of water, have been enjoying close-knit relationship for decades. The latest venture will maximize the synergistic effect to tackle the tremendous challenges encountered by the two countries.

As mentioned earlier, while politics is important, economic development is also of paramount importance.

In the midst of intense politicking at this juncture, perhaps local politicians should talk less politics and focus more on the economy instead, so that Malaysians can look forward to better days ahead.


Anwar Ibrahim
Elon Musk
state elections


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