Jack Ma flying in to keep dream project alive 

Jack Ma's Alibaba controls Lazada, Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform. – EPA pic, June 8, 2018.

BILLIONAIRE and Alibaba founder Jack Ma will be flying in to Kuala Lumpur later this month to meet Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a bid to save his flagship project, the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).

Sources told The Malaysian Insight that Ma wanted to meet Dr Mahathir two weeks ago but the prime minister was busy with housekeeping following Pakatan Harapan’s 14th general election win. 

The meeting is now likely to take place after Dr Mahathir’s visit to Japan for the Nikkei conference from June 10 to 12.

A local businessman has been helping to arrange the meeting at Ma’s request.

The DFTZ, the first outside China, is supposed to position Malaysia as an e-commerce hub in Southeast Asia.

Ma officiated its launch in Kuala Lumpur last November.

Heavily promoted by the former Najib Razak administration, it aims to create 60,000 jobs and facilitate US$65 billion (RM258 billion) worth of trade by 2025.

It also targets to double small and medium enterprises’ export growth to US$38 billion (RM151 billion) by 2025.

The PH government is reviewing all China-Malaysia projects, including the East Coast Rail Link, Bandar Malaysia and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park. 

There has also been increasing chatter about inflated contracts and lopsided payment schemes. 

‎No red flags have been raised about the DFTZ yet and Ma wants to keep it that way. 

Alibaba owns popular Chinese online shopping site Taobao and Lazada, Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform. – June 8, 2018.

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