PM moots one-stop investment centre to cut red tape, boost trade

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah attend a welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife in Beijing April 26, 2019. — Reuters pic
Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah attend a welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife in Beijing April 26, 2019. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — Investors both domestic and foreign will have an easier time to open shop in Malaysia if Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s idea for a one-stop centre is approved.

The prime minister, who is currently in Beijing for the Belt and Road (BRI) summit, said the Chinese investors he spoke to have repeatedly requested for a one-stop investment centre where their business plans and proposals need the approval of a sole authority.

“They asked us many times to establish a one-stop centre because they find our administrative [process] to be complex. They have to visit a few offices which are located far apart and they must obtain multiple permissions.

“These all take time. If we have a one-stop centre, managed by a person who is authorised to make a decision, this will be more effective because if we send a junior officer there, he will say he needs his boss’ permission. And things will take time to get done,” Dr Mahathir told a news conference that was also broadcast “live” back home on the internet.

“But the mandate will only be on business and investments. The officer cannot decide to sell the country,” joked Dr Mahathir.

He then voiced his confidence that a one-stop centre capable of making decisions will trigger a flood of investments as it makes business set up in the country a lot simpler.

He also expects more investment to come into Malaysia after his meeting with the Chinese investors.

Dr Mahathir also said he is supportive of BRI and assured Malaysians that the plan is not one of Chinese domination, as everyone who participated in the meeting had an equal say to China, even if they are a representative of a smaller, less developed nation.

“Less developed nations with small populations had the opportunity to sit and speak with China as equals regarding the BRI. Many have stated their need to develop infrastructure, roads, railways, airports and other things.

“So we discussed and stated our stand and opinion on this project which is not dominated or proposed by China. Other nations had their perspective taken into account in the joint statement. We don’t feel it’s a plan to dominate by China,” said Dr Mahathir.

When asked regarding the debt trap accusation laid out against China by Western nations, the 93-year-old pointed to countries that took hefty loans and could not repay their debtors, and so had their projects seized.

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