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Malay investors

To the Editor,

I have read Michael Hayes' "The Malaysian business

connection" in the Phnom Penh Post (Jan 27 - Feb 9, 1995) with as much interest

as concern.

The article highlights some misgivings on recent business

deals that Malaysian companies have secured, particularly in relation to

privatization of state assets and foreign private sector


Foreign investment is crucial for Cambodia's economic

reconstruction and development given the Kingdom's severe physical,

administrative, human and financial constraints.

Bilateral and

multilateral aid, the new Investment law and the formation of CDC in themselves

will not be able to create jobs, increase income and reactivate growth and


Foreign investment is needed - and urgently. Investors must,

therefore, be treated with due respect and their endeavors should not be

politicized. By their economic activities in Cambodia, these investors will be

creating urgently needed jobs, developing technical, financial and marketing

skills, transferring technology and, more importantly, contributing to building

human capital that constitutes the basis of reactivating economic growth and

social development.

I rejoice in the fact that Malaysian companies have

recently won a number of projects or awarded contracts on the basis of bids and

in competition with others on ground rules established by the Royal


They are listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) and

have a track record of sound commercial performance and corporate citizenship.

They are subject to the very stringent provisions of the Malaysian Companies Act

(1965), the uncompromising standards of the Securities Commission of Malaysia,

the rules and regulations of the KLSE, and the ever watchful eye of Bank Negara,

the Malaysian central bank, not to mention our Anti-Corruption


These companies are, therefore, accountable to the investing

public at home and abroad and must of necessity be transparent and open in all

their dealings. (And, those who have misgivings or concerns, supported by

well-documented evidence, are well advised to submit them to those authorities

in my country.)

It is now up to the Royal Government and the CDC to

establish clear ground rules for them and others to operate here and demonstrate

once and for all that it expects investors to function as transparent and

publicly accountable institutions in the context of the rule of


Privatization has a pivotal role in the Royal Government's efforts

to create a market-base economy and provide much needed jobs and develop the


Questions raised about the constitutionality of its various

deals with the private sector should be cleared as soon as possible. In this

way, the more conservative and well established companies will find Cambodia an

attractive place to invest: they will all like to operate on a level playing


Having said all these, I must say that Rome was not built in a

day. What the Royal Government has done since Oct 1993 are no mean


The critics, I understand, in this instance are coalition

members and should as such not be washing dirty linen in public; instead they

should engage in constructive dialogue with their coalition partners if they

have the national interest at heart.

Their actions to-date unfortunately

seem to demonstrate their willingness to subordinate the wider interests of

Cambodia and damage the existing good relations with its neighbors in pursuit of

their own agenda.

It is much easier to be on the sidelines and criticize.

What Cambodia needs instead is for everyone to put their shoulders to the wheel

and move national reconciliation and development forward.

- Din Merican, Phnom Penh.



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