Grab listing in the US a loss to M’sia, depicts failure of our economic policies

FOLLOWING e-hailing service Grab’s massive US$40 bil listing in the US recently, several MPs have urged the Government to revise its economic policy, especially its Bumiputra-centric approach.

“We understand that Malaysia is a small market. Singapore and Hong Kong are also small markets but businesses like to go there.

“I think a lot of our businesses have issues with our Government’s approach on equity ownership, with its Malay-centric policy,” Klang MP Charles Santiago told FocusM.

On April 13, Grab announced that it would go public in the US, in partnership with Altimeter Growth Corp. The plan is valued at US$40 bil or RM160 bil, nearly 70% more than the market value of Malaysia’s largest listed company, Malayan Banking Bhd.

“It gives us immense pride to represent Southeast Asia in the global public markets.

“This is a milestone in our journey to open up access for everyone to benefit from the digital economy. This is even more critical as our region recovers from COVID-19,” Grab group CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan was reported as saying.

It is to note that Tan is a Malaysian; grandson of Tan Chong Motors’ founder Tan Yuet Foh. While Grab may have started in Malaysia, its business is headquartered in Singapore for reasons undisclosed.

Calling it a major loss for Malaysia, Santiago said that the Malaysian Government should have encouraged Grab to stay and expand in the homeland.

“Perhaps Tan listed Grab in the US due to better profitability but I guess it’s not really that easy to list in Malaysia due to certain conditions,” the DAP leader opined.

Outdated policies a hindrance to new ventures

Santiago added that Grab’s venture in the US may demoralise startups and others in the local gig economy, giving an impression that Malaysia may not be suitable to “house” their ventures.

“It looks like the private sector don’t have much confidence in how things are being run in the country for now,” he stated.

Echoing Santiago’s sentiments, Parliamentary Select Committee for International Relations and Trade chairman Wong Chen told FocusM that the Government should adopt a “colour blind” approach in its policies, especially in the technological sector where innovation and speed are vital.

“Social economic policies such as Bumiputera empowerment should be exempted from tech startup companies.

“Plus, there is also a need to strengthen governance so that we have predictable enforcement and rule of law, all essential ingredients to nurture tech start up.

“Lastly, we need to develop the capital market capacity to better enable tech startups to find funding and angel investors,” the Subang MP remarked. – April 17, 2021.

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