Harping on Chinese FDIs in Malaysia


January 16, 2017

Harping on Chinese FDIs in Malaysia

by Josh Hong @www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for China's Malaysian Investments

A leopard never changes its spots, does it? Having failed to offer a set of alternative policies and convince the general public of their ‘reformist’ credentials, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Zainuddin Maidin and Muhyiddin Yassin are now all back to bashing Najib Abdul Razak along the not-so-subtle racial lines.

Yes, China has been investing aggressively in Malaysia, but the Chinese are not the first ones who came, saw and conquered our market in recent years.

Before that, the Americans, Japanese and Arabs, too, had pursued very proactive business strategies in South-East Asia. With its relatively well-developed infrastructure and affordable land, Malaysia stood to benefit tremendously from their investments for more than three decades.

Since the 2000s, the Arabs, too, have been investing heavily in strategic industries in Malaysia, especially the petrochemical sector and real estate development, with the United Arab Emirates emerging as one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners and among the most vigorous investors in Malaysia’s oil and gas industries.

Mubadala Petroleum is currently setting its sights on Sarawak, while the International Petroleum Investment Company remains a key investor in Malaysia despite the 1MDB debacle. Both Putrajaya and Abu Dhabi maintain bilateral and trade relations are rock solid.

Meanwhile, the Qatar Investment Authority is a big player in Malaysia’s strategic real estate, commodities and energy sector. In 2013, it had plans to develop the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex in southern Johor that was worth US$5 billion, aimed at making the country a petrochemical regional hub, not too dissimilar from China seeking to help turn Malaysia into a ‘transportation hub’ via Bandar Malaysia and the proposed high-speed rail terminal.

Even less well-known was that an agreement was signed in 2012 to make Qatar Holding a cornerstone investor in Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad, no doubt a highly important and vitally strategic global agricultural and agri-commodities company, while the Kuwait Investment Authority invested US$150 million in Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare.

At one time, the Qataris and the Najib government even agreed to build a ‘seven-star’ Harrods Hotel in the Bukit Bintang area in Kuala Lumpur, right next to the upmarket Pavilion shopping mall. The business venture somehow went awry and subsequently called off.

This aside, Saudi Arabia several years ago ranked fifth among Malaysia’s leading sources of investment, just behind Japan, South Korea, the US and Singapore. China was nowhere to be seen then.

Image result for Mahathir on Chinese Investments in Malaysia

Mind you, PetroSaudi International was deeply involved in the scandal-ridden 1MDB and the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubei even confirmed in April last year that money was wired into Najib’s personal account and it was a “genuine donation with nothing expected in return”.

Now, one may derive from the s statement that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was complicit in corruption on a global scale but did any Malay or Muslim leader in UMNO or outside of it accuse the Saudi government of seeking to undermine Malaysia’s sovereignty or taking over the country? Is Saudi Arabia beyond reproach simply because it is where Mecca, Islam’s holy city is located?

The Arabs have been coming but no-one, certainly not UMNO, Mahathir or his minions in Bersatu, has said a word against investors from the Gulf region.

Nobody is talking about Najib turning the country into an Arab colony except for Marina Mahathir who lashed out at ‘Arab colonialism’ because traditional baju Melayu for women are now more difficult to find than in the old days as compared to the increasingly popular Arab attire. But her father has yet to cast aspersions on Najib selling Malaysia out to the Arabs through all the strategic investments.

Instead, Mahathir has been harping on Chinese nationals buying up lands and properties and blaming it on Najib, hoping that this would heighten the siege mentality of the Malays which would in turn alienate them further from UMNO.

Image result for Mahathir on Chinese Investments in Malaysia

But Mahathir’s subterfuge can escape anyone but me. After all, it was his alleged racist rhetoric that kept him in power for over two decades, and Malaysia’s complex racial dynamics have created a fertile ground for a cunning strategist like him.

Crafted with the Malay constituency in mind

The messages by Mahathir, Zainuddin and Muhyiddin are not a coincidence, for they are all carefully crafted with the Malay constituency in mind.

They cannot openly demonise the Chinese Malaysian community because they need to ensure the opposition parties including DAP win enough Chinese votes, but at the same time, they are in dire need of denying Najib critical Malay support. So the best way to achieve this is to play up China as a bogeyman.

Mahathir and Bersatu may appear to be concerned over the influx of mainland Chinese capital and money, but their articulation is nothing but a veiled warning to the Malays that continued support for Najib would mean a greater Chinese presence in Malaysia, to the detriment of the ‘indigenous population’, of course.

Why pick on the Chinese when your Muslim brethren from the Middle East are no less commercially greedy and strategically ambitious?

It is not very different from the days when Mahathir ‘cari pasal’ (find fault) with Singapore in order to consolidate the Malay base. Stigmatising Chinese Malaysians comes at too huge a political cost, hence the sudden ‘realisation’ of mainland Chinese investments being a threat.

It is nothing more than a repackaged argument that, in favouring the (mainland) Chinese, Najib would only end up marginalising the Malays, just like the British.

If Mahathir and his cohorts have an issue with excessive foreign investments, they must not just single out China but the Gulf countries also. Mahathir may even question his own national car policy which only resulted in Malaysia becoming almost totally dependent on Japan for spare parts and technology, while failing to make Proton a car giant as he would have dreamed!

I have a problem with Islamic conservatism, but I have no problems with the Muslims; I am sceptical about American expansionism but I am fine with the American people; I am opposed to Israeli policies on Palestine but I don’t hate the Jews; I disagree with Shinzo Abe’s historical revisionism but I appreciate Japan as a wonderful country, and I look askance at communist ideology yet I enjoy the friendship of my mainland Chinese friends.

And I remain very much a leftist and a liberal who considers neo-liberalism a major source of the global chaos today. But unlike Mahathir, I vow not to use race or religion as my weapon even if I am wary of the destructive power of capitalism, because I have always been acutely aware of the hard fact that capital and money have no motherland.

Go on supporting Mahathir and Bersatu if you want, and I won’t shed a tear for you even if one day you find yourself trapped in the quicksand of racial politics and unable to be free.


JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

4 thoughts on “Harping on Chinese FDIs in Malaysia

  1. If Najib can make DAP the bogeyman in the next GE, what is hell is wrong with Mahathir making bogeyman out ofChinese investments?

    Also, what is not consistent about Mahathir calling BR1M corruption and yet will not remove it because the people are hopelessly corrupted?

    Those who attack the opposition so called same hypocrisy or inconsitencies when in reality its UMNO-PAS who started third rail politics that forces the opposition on the backfoot and cornered is still being apologist for those who started it.

  2. The issue is not Who invests, but Why, When and What they invest in.
    Comprendo Joshy boy?

    Right now, Malusia is pokai; the business ‘perception’ is absolutely abysmal and there’s a Trust deficit the size of Hades. Those Westerners that do invest here ask for Pioneer tax free status almost in perpetuity, something my great grandpa would have marveled at. As for O&G exploration, don’t kid yourself about those camel-toes – cuz all the tech stuff is done by Gwailo and local subcontractors.

    Tech transfer? Go kiss your own butt. They need cheap labor, not smart asses. We can’t seem to grow our own.. Perhaps it’s all due to Artistic Bias of the Torrid Tropics.

    Any dealings with PRC SOEs’ are fraught with Opaque Practices. Like Direct Negotiations without Tender. Best practices to them include hi-falutin’ kickbacks, wholesale labor and materials imported from the home-country (including wives and mistresses); and most of all – future strategic value. Like Ports (both maritime and inland logistic hubs), Power Stations, Mines and Dams. Does that sound hi tech? No. But they can sure bust our cojones, as and when needed.

    And the FDIs’ from PRC are also heavily partial to underground caverns or else high brow sky-kingdoms, i.e real estate. Not that moi (pardon my French), minds – except that, when compared to Gwailo Dingbat Westerners and others, they behave like Barbarians and uncouth Neanderthals. Spit here, shit there sorta thing.

    Not in manufacturing, which they have plenty of at home, where the labor is infinitely much more hardworking and loyal. Maluians especially of a certain ethnicity are looked down upon as ‘long mouth’ macaques.

    Malas nak cakap dah.. Bodoh sekali.

  3. This is clearly to give his new party a good start before their first GE at all cost.

    With decades of narrow, divisive and damaging politics of race and religion to brainwash the Malay/Muslim under his rule, the Malay/Muslim politicians know how to exploit the unfounded fear and insecurity of ordinary Malay/Muslim.

    Politicians like him, abused their position and power and bent the system to their self interest, vested interest groups and their parties to create the mess today with no end in sight.

    There was no interest to improve the system to ensure fairness to all its hardworking and decent ordinary people.

    Decades of bad leadership, rampant corruption and gross mismanagement had destroyed the country.

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