Thursday, August 15, 2013

Malaysia’s crime wave clouding investors’ perception

BY RANJIT SINGH
AUGUST 15, 2013
LATEST UPDATE: AUGUST 15, 2013 09:27 AM
A spike in drive-by shootings and gangland killings in Malaysia has got foreign investors worried about the state of security in the nation in recent months.
There have been at least 35 reported shootings nationwide since May which left 22 people dead. The high profile daylight killing of banker Ahmad Hussain Najadi last month attracted attention and sent a signal to the business community that all is not well in terms of safety.
Canadian Business Council of Malaysia president Roger Poulin said the rise in violent crimes was a concern to investors.
American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) past president Datuk Nicholas Zefferys (pic) said members were concerned but not to the extent of considering to pull out their investments from Malaysia yet.
"We hope the government has a handle on it," Poulin told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur this week.
"As long as there are continuous measures to fight crime, I think the investors will be assuaged.
"Things are bad but it has not boiled over," Zefferys told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur this week.
The British, German, Japanese and Korean Chambers of Commerce declined to comment on the matter. Businessmen from all four countries have a sizable investment and presence in Malaysia.
One of the executive directors of these chambers of commerce said that she did not want to comment as her job was to promote investments into Malaysia and the hike in crime would ruffle the feathers of investors.
Investors regard the rule of law as one of the most important requirements of deciding on the destination of their investments and Malaysia has been a favourite spot since the 1970s.
Malaysia attracted RM34.8 billion in foreign direct investments (FDI) last year but if foreign investors perceive that violence was getting out of hand, they may reconsider investing in the country, said a fund manager.
"The long-term reputation of Malaysia as a safe haven for investors is at stake and the perception that things are not in control could result in investors re-considering Malaysia as an investment destination.
"The authorities must move fast to quell the rise in violent crimes," said the local fund manager.
Zefferys said the government must do more to overcome perception that nothing was being done to cap the crime wave.
"The investigations pertaining to crime should include government agencies to preclude the possibility of collusion," he added.
Police and government lawmakers have attributed the surge in violence in part due to the abolition of the Emergency Ordinance in 2011, which led to 2,600 hardcore criminals and gang members being released from detention.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had repealed the colonial-era security law, which allowed suspects to be detained for as long as two years without trial, in a bid to boost civil liberties.
Voters had cited crime and social problems as their biggest concern after the economy in a survey of 1,018 people conducted last December by pollsters Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. - August 15, 2013.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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