Onus on Tengku Zafrul to ensure China’s RM170b committed investments flow into Malaysia

Letter to editor

PRIME Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had a very successful four-day visit to China last week, meeting with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang. Their discussions ranged from trade, strategic, cooperation, and exchange of respective views of the region.

Anwar’s visit confirmed Malaysia’s tilt towards China with expectations the Chinese-Malaysian relationship will be a warm one during Anwar’s tenure as PM.

This reflects China as Malaysia’s largest trading partner with RM487.13 bil trade in 2022, up 15.6% from 2021.

We cannot count the RM170 bil investment as sure until it actually happens. It’s not yet time to celebrate the announcement that ‘China has agreed to invest RM170 bil in Malaysia’. The hard work has yet to be done.

The 19 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) signed during Anwar’s trip to China, are just that – raw MOUs.

MOUs are not legally binding – they are just an affirmation that both parties will hold discussions to see if what is in the MOU is viable. Hopefully these will lead to a future agreement, but we must be very cautious as the success rate of MOUs turning into firm contracts of agreement is very low as most people are aware.

There is very little doubt the DRB-Hicom Bhd and Zhejiang Geely Holding Company Group Co Ltd agreement to develop the Automotive High-Tech Valley in Tanjung Malim is highly likely to go ahead.

However, we don’t know what the two companies may ask of the Malaysian government, and what the unity government will do.

Plans often take a long-time to come to fruition. Very often, the real negotiation takes place in China after the agreements have been inked. Many Malaysian business people can attest to that.

The pressure is now on International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz to ensure all these MOUs progress into real investments. This is the hard work that has to be done.

(Editor’s Note: The International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) claimed on Saturday (April 2) that its trade and investment mission to China has generated RM2.44 bil worth of potential exports to the republic on top of the RM170 bil of potential foreign direct investment (FDI) from China. It also mentioned in a statement that Tengku Zafrul had also met with five Chinese potential investors in Beijing, among others).

However, it’s all positive in that this is a step in the right direction. Chinese investors are interested in Malaysia. – April 3, 2023


Australia-born Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 40 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic and researcher. He was previously an associate professor at the Universiti Malaya Perlis.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Pics credit: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Facebook

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