DEPUTY Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has urged Japanese businessmen to continue investing in Malaysia where there's still plenty of money to be made.
He said many appeared to be still shy to expand their businesses despite having been in Malaysia for a long time.
Speaking to about 200 Japanese and 150 Malaysian corporate leaders at a business forum in Tokyo, Abdullah said Malaysia and other Asean countries had always looked towards Japan for economic leadership.
You can be an effective catalyst for the region's growth by playing the prosper-thy-neighbour role. We have always been with you, so come and invest in Malaysia, he said.
Abdullah was responding to a question on what measures Malaysia was taking to attract Japanese businessmen with China emerging as a cheaper alternative.
He said that Malaysia was taking steps to produce more skilled manpower and improve productivity and efficiency which were key ingredients for attracting foreign investment.
The cost of doing business in Malaysia is not high. The rentals, phone charges and cost of living are relatively low. We have a good environment and a literate workforce besides excellent infrastructure, he said.
If labour is too expensive, we will go for mechanised labour. We also have the laws to protect intellectual property, something which the Japanese are very particular about, he added.
Abdullah advised the Japanese not to put all your eggs in one basket, and urged them to have faith in Malaysia's political stability.
On China, he told the forum participants that Malaysia viewed the republic's economic emergence both as a threat and an opportunity.
We admit that China is an emerging economic giant and is becoming stronger. It will have a major impact on the world order.
Malaysia looks at it as an opportunity, politically and economically. It's good to compete because we have to improve our efficiency, productivity and political stability to continue attracting and keeping investors,
At the same time, we can attract Chinese investors, he said.
On the Asian Monetary Fund proposal, Abdullah said the idea, when first mooted by Japan, was strongly supported by Malaysia and other Asian countries.
However, when the United States made some noise, Japan retracted the proposal. We still back the proposal, he said.