Protect local firms doing business overseas, ex-deputy foreign minister tells Putrajaya after Maldives snub

Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican has urged Putrajaya today to take a proactive stance and protect local companies from being ‘bullied’ from overseas. — Picture by KE Ooi
Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican has urged Putrajaya today to take a proactive stance and protect local companies from being ‘bullied’ from overseas. — Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Former deputy foreign affairs minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican has urged Putrajaya today to take a proactive stance and protect local companies from being “bullied” from overseas.

Reezal said the federal government should take a more active role to protect local firms that conduct business abroad and ensure all parties adhere to international trade standards, following a case affecting a local developer in the Maldives.

“As such, I believe that the government of Malaysia must play a more active role to ensure that Malaysian companies would be duly protected while venturing business dealings overseas. In this case, especially, the government of Maldives and its government-linked companies are in breach of contract,” he said in a statement.

“If our government is not supportive towards our local companies in international deals, who else do we expect to step in to protect them in such dealing which was awarded in accordance with international tendering process? And for the company to be bullied like that is definitely unacceptable.

“Therefore, I urge strongly for government of Malaysia to step in aggressively and do the necessary for the sake of not just local companies but to protect the integrity of Malaysian government,’’ he added.

Last week, Malay Mail reported that a Malaysian property developer has filed for arbitration against the Republic of Maldives over an alleged breach of contract, amounting to nearly US$30 million (RM124 million) of arrears for a project in the Hulhumalé reclaimed island there.

Reezal said such proactive measures is all the more important as Maldives and Malaysia share a very cordial and warm relationship, and have benefited from such good ties.

“Especially in the case of Republic of Maldives, its people are enjoying numerous privileges in Malaysia to the extent that Malaysia has in 2016 granted 90 days Visa on Arrival.

“Since then scores of Maldivians have been enjoying the said facilities including students, expatriates and participants under MM2H programme,” he said, referring to the Malaysia My Second Home programme.

In 2016, local firm WZR Property Sdn Bhd was awarded the contract to develop a 25-storey office complex by Maldives’ Ministry of Finance and Treasury, but has not received a single sen of the payment despite the fact that it has already completed 20 per cent of the total work.

Its group chairman Datuk Sazmi Miah claimed the about-turn was the result of a change of government, after incumbent president Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives was defeated during its presidential election in September last year.

Sazmi now claims that the new Maldives administration is trying to buy time by behaving in a non-committal manner, ignoring his numerous letters to the president, its Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, and Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulla Shahid.

He said the only high-profile meeting that was afforded to his team was with one of its two deputy finance ministers, Mohamed Firzul Hussain Firaz, and its High Commissioner to Malaysia Visam Ali.

When contacted by Malay Mail, Visam refused to comment and said that her government “has been in consultation and negotiation with the company”.

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