Jactim 30th Anniversary Celebration

By September 14, 2013 Speeches
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Bismillahirrahmanirrahim

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh, Good Afternoon and Salam Satu Malaysia.

Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad;

His Excellency Shigeru Nakamura; Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia,

Mr. Masato Nakamura; President of JACTIM,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry Malaysia.

For three decades, JACTIM has helped Japanese businesses invest in Malaysia: investments that have brought prosperity, know-how and development in the country.

For three decades, JACTIM has supported and represented Japanese companies based here, helping us to create a more business friendly environment, as well as learn from cutting edge techniques and practices.

For three decades, JACTIM has helped Malaysia build one of its most important bilateral relationships, a relationship that has been crucial to the industrial success of this country, and that is helping to propel Malaysia towards developed nation status.

On behalf of all Malaysians, I would like to say to JACTIM: ‘thank you’.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Malaysia, we have always prioritised our relationship with Japan.

When Tun Dr Mahathir conceived the ‘Look East’ policy 30 years ago, he understood that for Malaysia’s potential to be realised, we had to learn from advanced economies that had made huge gains in a relatively short period of time.

What followed was a tremendous amount of exchange between Malaysia and Japan – an exchange of capital, goods and services, yes, but most importantly, an exchange of ideas and experience, knowledge, know-how and the much admired are the work culture of the Japanese.

Over the past 30 years, hundreds of young Malaysians have travelled to Japan to attend university, enrol in professional training courses and begin placements with Japanese companies.

To be précised, between 1982 to 2013, 13,600 Malaysian students benefitted from the programs and currently there are more than 500 Malaysian students in Japan.

And these same students returned home, equipped with the expertise and understanding that helped Malaysia transform from a predominantly agrarian country into a modern, industrial powerhouse.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Not only did the Look East policy help Malaysia understand the secret of Japanese success. The policy also highlighted what Malaysia can offer to Japan.

In particular, it drew attention to how attractive Malaysia is as an investment destination.
Last year, Japanese investments in our manufacturing sector reached a staggering US$ 3.2 billion, the highest level of investment since 1980.

And Japanese corporations such as Panasonic, Ibiden and Toyota have recently made Malaysia their home, producing cutting edge products such as solar modules, advanced computer equipment and automobiles.

Over this entire period, JACTIM has played a crucial role, facilitating, supporting, representing and nurturing Japanese businesses in Malaysia.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It was fascinating to witness the opening of the time capsule or the ‘time box’. It made me reflect on how far the country has come in the past decade. But it also made me wonder how Malaysia will change over the next ten years.

When the capsule was sealed a decade ago, South East Asian nations were picking themselves up after a bruising financial crisis.

Many financial commentators were writing Asia off, while foreign institutions were proscribing painful and often unnecessary medicines.

Fast forward to today and Asia looks a very different place. China is now the world’s second largest economy, Japan’s economy is set to rebound while ASEAN countries represent some of the brightest prospects for global growth.

There are, of course, concerns over some Asian countries’ budget deficits, and recent falls in Asian currencies.

Here in Malaysia, we are introducing policies such as subsidy rationalisation, to bring Malaysia’s budget deficit down to sustainable levels.

But I believe that the Asia of today is essentially and fundamentally different from that of the late 1990s. The economic fundamentals are much stronger and our economy is definitely more resilient. And we are better able to respond and adapt to potential problems before they turn into crises.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Here in Malaysia, we are confident we can maintain robust growth and high employment while also reducing the budget deficit.

Malaysia’s over-riding goal is to achieve developed-nation status by 2020, and we look set to achieve that goal, perhaps even ahead of time.

And as we chart our course over the next few years, JACTIM continues to provide useful advice, expertise and suggestions.

I share JACTIM’s view that for Malaysia to enter into our next phase of its development, it needs to create a balanced, it needs to create advanced economy.

High-tech, knowledge-based industries will play a crucial part in our transformation and future growth. But at the same time, we mustn’t overlook the small and medium size businesses that are the workshops of our economy.

I also agree with JACTIM that we must take advantage of new and fast-growing industries.

Malaysia has capitalised on the booming market in sukuk, and now has the largest sukuk market in the world. We are expanding into new areas of growth, such as the halal market, while the new Tun Razak Exchange will help transform Kuala Lumpur into a regional financial centre.

We must also continue to invest in important infrastructure projects, to ensure we lay the foundations for future growth.

Perhaps most important of all, Malaysia must continue down its development path, maintaining an attractive business environment and stable economic conditions, so new business and investments keep flowing here.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope that Japan continues to play a vital role in our economy. I want more Japanese companies to open shop here, which means more manufacturing, new plants, back office, data centres, R&D and new high quality restaurants. And I look forward to the exchange of ideas and knowledge that comes with greater co-operation, trade and investment.

As we celebrate JACTIM’s anniversary, and reflect on the relationship between our countries, I hope that JACTIM and Japan continue to play a leading role in Malaysia’s development, over the next thirty years and beyond.

Thank you.

Wabillahitaufik Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.