KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — Malaysia’s success today is largely due to the contributions of the business community, particularly those from its ethnic Chinese community, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
The prime minister paid homage to the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industries of Malaysia (ACCCIM) at its 72nd annual general meeting here, saying they were the driving force behind generating wealth in the country.
“Our country is what it is today because of the contribution from the business community, especially the Chinese community because they are dynamic in many ways.
“It is the business community which creates wealth in any society, in any country, and there is no doubt that ACCCIM along with the Chinese community as well as other communities have contributed much to the development of the country,” he said in his speech.
Dr Mahathir noted that it was the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu who had helped bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country when the latter was Penang chief minister.
He said Dr Lim had visited European nations to encourage businesses there to invest in Malaysia, and helped turn Penang into the country’s electronics and electrical manufacturing hub.
Dr Lim had served from 1969 to 1990 and had been dubbed the “architect of Penang”.
“Foreign direct investment is important as they can help bring in new skills, new technological know-how that can help the country,” Dr Mahathir said.
The 93-year-old prime minister then said there were opportunities for small nations that presented themselves when bigger countries engaged in trade wars.
“Even trade wars between big nations may provide new opportunities,” he said, alluding to the current fight between the US and Asian superpower China.
“As they cancel each. other out, it may lead to new places, new partners with whom to trade or built new relevant facilities to produce or manufacture goods,” he added.
In his closing remarks, Dr Mahathir urged the business community to help close the income disparity, reminding them that social-economic strife would be detrimental to their businesses.
“Huge wealth disparity between the rich and the poor could lead to tension and instability, which is not good for business.
“Everyone must have a share of the wealth of the country,” he said.
He added that collaborative effort in needed to lessen the income disparity and for everyone to share in prosperity.