Business players tell Anwar they need stability, foreign investments

Alfian Z.M. Tahir

Business industry players want Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to tackle the weakening ringgit as Malaysia is losing workers to Singapore. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 26, 2022.

BUSINESS owners and traders want Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to fix the economy as soon as possible to revive businesses and ensure that they get back on their feet again. 

They said to do that, Anwar must first stabilise the sector and regain the confidence of foreign investors. 

The new government must also pump in extra resources for entrepreneurs, they added. 

“We know Anwar has the potential. He is also a known figure and that is why we hope we can build stability in this country, which is the most important ingredient,” said Teh Kee Sin, who once headed a small and medium enterprises (SMEs) association. 

“Without a stable government, we will not attract foreign direct investment. People won’t come to invest if we keep changing the government every year. The SMEs are very concerned about stability and hope this can put everything to rest. 

“Moreover, we are at the stage of recovering. After two years of lockdown, businesses are trying to gain momentum again. We are hoping that the new cabinet can help us with extra resources,” said Teh. 

Teh added that another obstacle that Anwar has to deal with is the weakening of ringgit. 

He said it would be hard for SMEs to compete with foreign businesses if the ringgit continues to fall. 

“At the moment many of our own people are going to Singapore to look for jobs because they can get more (income) when they return home. It’s not good for us here because we cannot compete, we lost in this competition. 

“Anwar has to try and fix the ringgit. This is another challenge for him as he must look for ways to strengthen our ringgit,” said Teh. 

SME leaders say Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim needs to amicably resolve disputes regarding foreign labour forces to overcome the shortage of workers in the country. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 26, 2022.

Anwar, 75, was sworn in on Thursday before Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, ending the impasse after Saturday’s election failed to produce a clear winner. 

Avoiding uncertainty 

The business community had previously expressed anxiety over the delay in forming the new government. 

It said the delay would set back the recovery of the country’s pandemic-ravaged economy as uncertainties made businessmen jittery. 

No businessman, domestic or international, likes uncertainties, Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Voon Chin Leong told The Malaysian Insight. 

“Who would dare to come in (to invest) when everyone is uncertain of what’s going to happen next?” he said. 

“After Saturday’s general election, the business community now wants an environment to do business,” he added. 

SME Association of Malaysia president Ding Hong Sing agreed with Voon, saying the business community is now looking forward to what Anwar and his government do. 

He said the absence of a government and the potential for political volatility could trigger a foreign capital outflow. 

Teh meanwhile also advised Anwar to look at the labour shortage issue closely and try to settle the dispute amicably. 

“We have seen three governments in the last two years and every time it changes, the policies change, too. In this case, the issue of labour shortage was never solved. 

“When the matter was almost solved, another government came in and we had to start things again. This is not good for businesses because without enough labour, businesses can’t function at their optimum level. 

“Anwar must address this issue once and for all,” he said, 

In his first press conference upon his appointment, Anwar stressed that his administration would focus on the economy and safeguard the wellbeing of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region. – November 26, 2022.

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