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
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.
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
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.