Vice-President Dato' Simon Lim Seng Chai on the Government's Decision Concerning the Forest City Project
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
The Federal government should be cautious when issuing policy statements, especially involving massive projects to ensure continued investors' confidence in the country. Of late, there has been an unsettling pattern in the way major government decisions are announced, the latest being the foreign ownership in the Forest City project in Johor.

The earlier announcement to ban foreigners from owning property there even caught the Johor government by surprise. A day later, the Prime Minister’s Office clarified that foreigners are allowed to own property, subject to conditions. Such communication gaps can cause jitters among investors. It also raises questions about the Federal government's perceived encroachment into land matters, which rightfully should come under the state's jurisdiction.

Prior to this, the Federal government was seen to be flip-flopping on the High Speed Rail (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) projects. Initially, the government had announced that they would be shelved, only to clarify later that they were delayed or being reviewed. These do not augur well for investors' confidence. 

Because these multi-billion ringgit projects involve foreign governments and investors, any major developments would attract international media scrutiny. With a new government in Putrajaya, the country needs to allay investors' concerns, not add on to the uncertainty, especially when we need more FDIs in an increasingly competitive economic landscape.

We reiterate and fully support the new government in reviewing or cancelling any lopsided deals that are detrimental to the country. But in doing so, the government needs to be mindful of international investors' sentiments and the long-term economic well-being of the country.

Any announcements on major policy decisions ought to have gone through due processes, including seeking views from various stakeholders. This is part of good governance which we advocate. This will also go a long way in enhancing investors' confidence and make Malaysia a magnet for foreign capital.


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