KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — DAP’s Lim Guan Eng has again questioned the government’s requirement for local freight forwarding companies to have 51 per cent Bumiputera equity, claiming such policies were contradictory to their promises of being inclusive.
The former finance minister said applying an already repealed requirement retrospectively against existing logistics companies would not only hurt local stakeholders but was also unconstitutional.
Lim explained the current ruling went against a circular issued by the Royal Customs Department back in 2018, which nullified the 51 per cent equity rule for local logistics companies established before 1990.
He then said how a reversal of that circular, which he claimed was unlawful, was even affirmed by current Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz in Parliament when the latter said the decision requiring the 51 per cent Bumiputera equity was made recently by the current government.
“The Customs Department letter on October 24, 2018 had clarified the issue that there was no need to comply with this requirement. Any attempt by the government to overturn the decision on October 24, 2018 can be challenged to court and I am willing to come forward as a witness to confirm this.
“The government should not take this divisive step of protecting foreign-owned International Integrated Logistic Services (IILS) by stripping away control of non-Bumi Malaysian-owned IILS, which had operated for decades merely to further their political objectives to be champions of the Bumi agenda.
“How many poor Bumis will benefit?” Lim questioned.
The Bagan MP pointed out how it would be especially unfair to apply such requirements to these companies and to even withhold their licence renewals if they fell short of the quota, despite already operating locally for several decades.
Lim also questioned the reasoning behind the ruling that only applies to local IILS and not foreign players, saying the double standard goes against the government’s repeated claims of inclusivity.
“Where then is the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept of Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, when foreigners are better taken care of than Malaysians?
“Giving special privileges to foreigners at the expenses of locals is clearly contrary to the Federal Constitution,” Lim wrote in a statement today.
Zafrul had recently announced an extension to an exemption period for freight forwarders to meet the requirement of 51 per cent Bumiputera equity participation until December 2022.
This is a second extension for freight forwarding companies from the initial December 31, 2021 deadline which was announced at the end of last year.
Recently, a report by the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) ranked Malaysia as 41 out of 160 countries for comparisons done in 2018.
Malaysia dropped 15 places lower as compared to being ranked 24 in 2014, and 32 in 2016 in the LPI when it was the second-best performing Asean nation after Singapore.
The LPI’s latest numbers has Singapore is ranked seventh, followed by Thailand at 32 and Vietnam at 39.