Wisma Putra says ready to help local developer facing snub from Maldives

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah addresses a media briefing at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya October 3, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah addresses a media briefing at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya October 3, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 3 — Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said today that the government is ready to assist any local companies facing trouble overseas, following a local developer firm’s dispute with the Republic of Maldives.

He said it is common for such issues to arise in foreign countries when a change of government takes place.

“In most cases, we will study the situation and if we are convinced it is bona fide, it is our responsibility to facilitate and assist Malaysian companies who are doing good business there,” Saifuddin said during a media engagement session at the ministry’s complex here.

Saifuddin was responding to issues surrounding WZR Property Sdn Bhd, which filed for arbitration against 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.

The minister added that assistance is usually rendered via Malaysia’s diplomatic channels, and within acceptable bounds in the diplomatic spheres.

“However depending on the situation, sometimes it is best handled between business-to-business, such as through business councils or commerce chambers.

“Nonetheless we will be more than ready to assist if it is requested, for all cases including this one,” Saifuddin said.

Last week, Malay Mail reported that WZR was awarded the contract to develop a 25-storey office complex by Maldives’ Ministry of Finance and Treasury, but has not received a single cent 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.

When contacted by Malay Mail, the republic’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Visam Ali refused to comment and said that her government “has been in consultation and negotiation with the company”.

In response, former deputy foreign affairs minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican had on Tuesday urged Putrajaya to take a proactive stance and protect local companies from being “bullied” from overseas.

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.

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