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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sheriff: Not right to criticise China investments for politics, but...



Former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim has expressed disagreement with those who criticised investment from China for political purposes.
In an email response to Malaysiakini, he said all foreign investments, especially foreign direct investments, are beneficial to Malaysia.
However, Mohd Sheriff cautioned Malaysia on the risks of not having a thorough and transparent study on the investments.
"We must ensure any investment that comes into Malaysia brings clear benefits to the people and the economy.
"This requires proper analysis of the financial, social, political and environmental implications so that the future generations will not have to bear the burden of the hasty decisions made today.
"Foreign investments that come in with political and financial backing of their governments must be transparently evaluated as there could be strings attached to make them costly to Malaysians in the long run," Mohd Sheriff added.
Local businesses and the oppositon have raised concern over the influx of investments from China, with certain quarters warning it could lead to Malaysia being at the beck and call of the world superpower in its chess game of global politics and hegemony over the South China Sea.
Prominent socio-economic activist Azlan Awang had warned Malaysia of the risks of putting the country in the same trouble that Sri Lanka was over its indebtedness to China.
Strong political leadership needed
Meanwhile, Mohd Sheriff, who is part of the eminent Malays G25 group, believes that the ringgit would perform better if not for the unresolved issues surrounding 1MDB and the controversies arising from it.
"The public concerns over (the amendment of) the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or Act 355 have further added to the political uncertainties, which are not good for the ringgit and the economy.
"What is most important now is strong political leadership to bring back confidence on the governance of the country, especially regarding the financial management and the economy," he said.
He called for the government to deal with the root causes of the perception problem.
"Perception is important. Whatever the root cause of the perception, the government has to act fast to bring back confidence in the future direction of the country as a constitutional democracy," he said, without elaborating.
Current treasurer-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (photo) has said that the country's economy was strong under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's leadership, but was affected by negative perception.
On another matter, Mohd Sheriff defended the divesting phenomenon in government-linked companies (GLCs) but emphasised that the transactions must be made public.
"They have an obligation, being trustees of government funds, to explain to the public the reason for selling off their companies or assets or acquiring new ones.
"The GLCs must make their decisions based on the highest standards of corporate governance, with proper approval process to uphold the integrity of the board and management and save the government from scandals," he said.
In his email, Mohd Sheriff once again urged the government to abandon its effort to amend Act 355 to raise penalty limits meted out by the syariah court in the coming Parliament session.
"We hope the government will just forget it, as there are more important matters that it should attend to.
"Act 355 is not important for Muslims and the country as there are more important problems for us to worry about," he added.
Mohd Sheriff also believes that most Malaysians are moderates, despite the voice of religious conservatives growing louder.

"Our society has matured and the middle class is becoming vocal on reforms. They do not like to see race and religion being politicised for electoral votes.
"Most Malaysians are more concerned about the economy. We all want a better life, quality education, health facilities and housing, as well as better jobs for our children.
"The government should concentrate on providing these basic needs for the poor and solving the urgent problems of rising cost of living as these are more important to the man on the street than Act 355 or hudud," he added.- Mkini

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