Monday, April 14, 2008

Call on Finance Minister to announce details of investments committed for Iskandar Malaysia

The Prime Minister who is also holding the portfolio of Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had on 11th March announced the change of name of the "Iskandar Development Region (IDR)" to "Iskandar Malaysia".

It is worth noting that this is the 2nd time the name of the project has been changed since it was launched in early 2007, which was initially named "Southern Johor Development Corridor". The frequency at which the name of the project has been changed reflects badly on our government and administrators for it serves to embed confusion amongst investors. In addition, it also reflects a leadership which is unable to make up its mind and stick with a decision, at least for a meaningful period, once it has been made. This reflection certainly does not bode well in breeding investor confidence for our projects.

At the same time, the Finance Minister has declared that Iskandar Malaysia is on target to reach its investment target of RM47 billion within the next 2 years as the project has already "secured" 70% of its investment target, or almost RM33 billion. If the figure announced reflects reality, then certainly, it is an impressive feat achieved by the Government.

Hence it is of utmost importance for the Finance Minister to announce the details of investments which have been committed to date for Iskandar Malaysia to establish the credibility of the Government. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must declare:

(1) Of the [RM14 billion] of investments "secured", what is the breakdown between contractually-bound investment agreements, e.g., those with penalty clauses for termination; and those which are based on "memorandums of understanding (MOUs)" not bound by contract?

(2) Of the "secured" investments, what is the breakdown between the Government of Malaysia, local Malaysian private investors and foreign direct investors?

(3) Of the "secured" investments, how much of the committed funds have been invested, in Iskandar Malaysia?

The people of Malaysia wishes Iskandar Malaysia to be an unqualified success, particularly in attracting renewed value-added foreign direct investment to the country. However, to do so, the Finance Minister must provide the necessary information for us to evaluate the status of the project and to come up with the necessary plans to ensure its success.

It is hoped that in the light of the results of the 12th General Elections, the Government will adopt a new culture of transparency to allow for greater contribution by parliamentarians and Malaysians in general.

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