INVESTORS are unimpressed by the Malaysian government’s ‘clueless’ performance in economic matters,, said former finance minister Daim Zainuddin.
In an interview with FMT, he said falling foreign direct investment rates indicated investors were not confident that the government knew what it was doing.
“The government does not seem to have a plan. It is as simple as that. No investor will enter a country where they feel incompetence is so glaring.
“If we want to regain our status as a good investment destination, the leaders need to be better and, at the moment, investors do not see that happening.
FDIs in Malaysia had seen a larger decline compared to its neighbours Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said recently.
Daim said this showed that Malaysia’s competitiveness in the investment landscape has fallen and the country’s leaders need to step up before Malaysia slides behind even further.
He said the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency did not help matters.
“To mitigate the negativity surrounding the declaration, the government has to act in a transparent manner so as not to further undermine investors’ sentiment and confidence.
“It should be lifted when it has fulfilled its stated purpose and must not be prolonged. I hope that the new special independent emergency committee will not be a paper tiger,” he said.
For Malaysia to overcome its economic problems, Daim said a compelling future growth narrative with clear focus, strategy and investment-friendly policy was needed.
He suggested that the government took specific measures such as accelerating domestic direct investments (DDI), linking DDI-FDI’s with SME’s, expedite regulatory reforms, tackling shortage of skills and underemployment, and started implementing credible economic and industrial plans to instill public confidence in Malaysia’s economy and capital market.
2 diners per table rule does little for business, say restaurateurs
“This is a good sign, but there are still people who are concerned about the pandemic, so there aren’t that many dine-ins and most customers still prefer takeaways,” Ho told The Malaysian Insight.
“The dine-in for two to a table does not help much with business volume but we understand we can’t make too many demands as people are still fearful of the virus.”
Ho said despite allowing dine-ins, some eateries still operated for takeaways and deliveries only, as they did not want to face any possibility of having a Covid-19- infected customer.
“They will then need to disinfect their premises and face other consequences like suspending operations, which is just too much to deal with.”
He hoped the dine-in rule will be adjusted soon to allow more people – up to four to a table at least – with physical distancing in place.
Eateries in Sarawak, meanwhile, where dine-ins are allowed, still saw a very low volume of patrons, said Bintulu Coffeeshop Merchants and Restaurants Association president Hung Yii.
“Eateries were almost deserted during Chinese New Year even without such Covid-19 restrictions; people just didn’t want to go out.
“Although Sarawak’s caseload of confirmed infections is not so high, and there are only three to five cases in some areas, people are still afraid to go out.”
Malaysian F&B Operators Alliance spokesman Joshua Liew said the relaxed standard operating procedure (SOP) on dine-ins helped improve business over Chinese New Year by only a little, as the two-to-a-table rule meant families could not eat together.
“Business did increase during the new year but not by much, because of the two-people rule.”
Liew urged the authorities to study the facts and whether there was any significant number of Covid-19 cases that were contracted from dining out at restaurants.
“We hope the MCO will not be extended and that more people will be allowed to dine in, with SOP.”
Liew added that many restaurant owners worry that the government would ban dining in again.
Ho, meanwhile, urged Putrajaya to emulate Japan and Hong Kong in mandating assistance to the food and beverage industry.
Ho said in these countries, this was in the form of rental discounts for up to six months.
“A memorandum has been submitted to request similar assistance to reduce rental rates so that coffee shops and restaurants can continue to operate,” he said, adding that Indian and Muslim restaurants had joined forces with his association in appealing to the government.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT