The efforts by the Sarawak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCC) to promote foreign investments must be applauded. However, precautions must be taken to ensure that only Quality Investments are allowed into the state.
What are Quality Investments? Quality Investments are those that meet the long-term socio-economic aspirations of the state in terms of providing continued economic value i.e. revenue for the state, continuous growth in employment opportunities, the sustainability of businesses through safe environment-friendly standard operating practices. In other words, bringing ‘Real Value’ to the people on the ground to enhance their quality of life.
It is no more about investors profiteering from ventures or how much the state can make out of such investments. Socio-economic aspects must be included in all investors’ plans.
The chief minister and his trade delegation to China recently signed RM20billion worth of Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with Chinese companies. But what MOUs are these? What are the terms of reference? The entire episode lacks transparency!
Are the Chinese investors dictating terms for the investment? That would only bring chaos to the already escalating jobless rate in Sabah.
Please don’t bring investors akin to that of the ECRL projects or the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline project which upset many over alleged unethical practices by the foreign investors and contractors. You can blame this on the previous administration but do remember, if it can be condoned by others, it can be repeated by the current administration! We should outright reject such unscrupulous practices.
Under the more structured business development concept, the Sabah government should institute stringent investment project protocols.
Priority must be given to local and capable investors the opportunity to invest in the state for a number of reasons.
Local or Malaysian investors are far more likely to understand the local cultural and socio-economic context. Local investors would also be better suited to fulfil employment needs, in terms of improved remuneration and benefits for families compared to foreign investors, whose priority would often be to maximise profits without taking into consideration the welfare of its employees.
The SCCC must ensure that its discussions with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China to bring Chinese investors into the state must fulfil conditions in the interests of the people and state. It is not just about addressing the needs and concerns of the Chinese investors in areas of labour, financing and migration.
In fact, the following considerations must be taken into account for all new investments in efforts to create a more conducive business environment for the state:
1. SCCC must undertake a comprehensive study in areas of business enterprise and sustainability, including the socio-economic needs of the state. Work with the state government to determine the priority sectors of economic growth in the medium and long term. Discuss these findings with the Consulate General of People’s Republic of China on the deliverables.
2. Set-up an internal committee to continuously coordinate with the Chinese consulate on the planned investments. Do not compromise your position. It is not just the Chinese investing millions or billions, but make sure they are quality investments.
3. All businesses must be eco-friendly and conform to international standards in helping reduce green-house emissions and carbon footprint. Investments for projects that exploit the resources for quick profits and that are repatriated to the country of origin must be immediately dropped! There is no room for this type of business in this present day and age.
4. High employment of professional, semi-professional, technical and operational workforce must be a prerequisite for all foreign investments in the state – in efforts to address the high unemployment rate in Sabah. According to data, there are about 27,000 unemployed graduates in Sabah. This is not healthy and sadly the state government has done little to alleviate the situation.
The state government must play its part by facilitating projects that are sustainable, environmentally friendly and that bring socio-economic value to the people of Sabah.