(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz has lined up 11 trade missions this year which will take her to six continents in efforts to attract new foreign investments and create new markets.
The first trade mission to start on Feb 7 would take Rafidah to North America where she would be attending investment seminars in Los Angeles and Tucson in the US and Vancouver, Canada to meet with potential investors.
She would return to Canada and the United States from Sept 24 to Oct 2 for investment seminars in Philadelphia, Toronto and St Louis.
She would visit Europe from May 24 to June 2 attend investment seminars in Frankfurt, Germany; Paris, France; Milan, Italy and London, England and head for Australia for two weeks beginning Aug 5 for investment seminars in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Her other trade missions will cover China, Japan, South America, the Middle East and South Africa.
However, Rafidah will probably do the country more good to stay home to convince the government to halt the recrudescence of communal politics and embark on serious political and economic reforms to win back investor confidence instead of globe-trotting to six continents in 11 trade missions this year.
What is the use of Rafidah going round the world to try to attract foreign investors when investor confidence suffers relentless and unceasing bouts of attacks whether from the corporate shenanigans reeking with cronyism, bad corporate governance and the sacrifice of the interests of minority shareholders like the restructuring of Renong-UEM, the governmentís outrageous "bailout" buying of Tajudin Ramliís 29.09% MAS equity at RM 8 per share while the market value is RM 3.68 and the RM 6 billion government bail out of two Light Rail Transit companies, PUTRA and STAR or the irresponsible recrudescence of communal politics as in the proposed 10,000-People "Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia" Gathering in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday?
Rafidah and the government should take serious note of the hard-hitting speech of the head of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, Nicholas Zeffreys, at the Malaysia 2001 Strategic Outlook Conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that Malaysia must cut corruption and excessive government intervention in business if it wants to win the regional contest for foreign investment.
Zeffreys made the following pertinent points:
The speech by the Finance Ministry adviser Datuk Mustapa Mohamed at the opening of the conference that corporate restructuring would take longer than expected although there will be no let-up in the exercise is not a plus to win investor confidence in view of the widespread perception that the Malaysian government has reversed economic restructuring reforms as evidenced by the several high-profile crony bailouts.
Mustapa does not gain any bonus points for credibility when he later told a press conference that the government has not yet decided whether to revise the official 7.0 percent forecast for gross domestic product growth this year, when the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research has lowered its earlier 2001 forecast to 5.0 percent from 6.3 because of the slowdown in the United States economy.
Before Rafidah embarks on her eleven trade missions to six continents this year to attract new foreign investments, she should first convince the Cabinet and government to remove the roadblocks to investor confidence and in particular the widespread perception that the government has not learnt any lessons from the 1997 currency crisis.