Tourism to boom, absent racialism

  • News
  • Monday, 09 Nov 2015

Ter and Ong at the KLSCCCI’s 111th annual dinner.

The Chinese chamber of commerce says it’s vital to stop racial provocations if the country is serious about bringing in investment and tourists; proposes free trade agreement with China. HO WAH FOON has the story.

IF the Government can stop racial slurs and provocative incidents, Malaysia could attract 50 million tourists next year — 66.6% or 20 million more than the official 2016 target, says the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (KLSCCCI).

“We hope the Government will take firm and stern measures against those who instigate racial incidents,” says Datuk Ter Leong Yap, president of KLSCCCI.

“If the Government deals sternly with those who provoke trouble, our target to attract 30 million or even 50 million tourists is possible,” Ter stresses.

He says recent incidents, such as the Red Shirt Rally, have caused racial tension and alarmed foreigners. This, in turn, has made them hesitate about investing and visiting Malaysia.

Ter points out that during his recent visit to Xiamen, China, he was frequently asked whether anti-Chinese riots were about to take place in Malaysia.

“I told my Chinese friends that there were some irresponsible politicians wanting to provoke racial conflicts to gain political mileage, but such tricks would no longer work,” he explains.

Due to the current negative perception of the country, Ter says all parties must bear in mind that any public rally fanning racial hatred would have dire consequences on the nation’s security, and negatively impact the economy and the business environment.

And since tourism is an industry that has the biggest potential to boost Malaysia’s economic growth, the Government should welcome more tourists by implementing a visa-free policy for visitors from China and India.

Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Second Minister of International Trade and Industry Malaysia, says he has reminded some UMNO leaders of the consequences of supporting “racial quarrels”.

“Our economy is backed by fundamentals, and built up by all the races over the decades. In fact many countries are envious of us. If the Chinese leave the country, these fundamentals will be shaken. And investors will not come,” says Ong.

“In fact, the Chinese have contributed a lot to Malaysia. Our ancestors opened up forests, our politicians have initiated efforts to bring about national harmony, our entrepreneurs have built up industries. We, the Chinese, don’t sit around eating free food and taking free things in this country which we have helped built along with the Malays and Indian,” he adds.

Ong notes the importance of China as Malaysia’s largest trade partner.

He says China’s “one belt one road” initiative and the full implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) would augur well for the future growth of Malaysia-China trade and economic relations.

The China-Malaysia bilateral trade exceeded US$100bil (RM430bil) in 2014, with the trade balance tilting in favour of Malaysia, according to China’s statistics, which included imports of Malaysian goods via Hong Kong and Singapore. Both nations target to expand bilateral trade to US$160bil (RM688bil) by 2017.

Ter is proposing that the Government establish direct free trade agreement with China, given that China is excluded from the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

He says Malaysia could become a bridge between China and the TPPA market, and set up economic and trade cooperation to create “unlimited” business opportunities.

“In view of this, the ACCCIM (Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia) has proposed that Malaysia actively explore the possibility of signing and implementing a bilateral free trade treaty with China as soon as possible,” urges Ter, who is also the president of ACCCIM.

According to Ter, the 64 countries and 4.4 billion people covered in the “one belt one road” strategy of China’s regional development would spur more enterprises from China to venture overseas. And this could be a source of investments for Malaysia.

To KLSCCCI members, Ter says there is huge business potential in global e-commerce. Citing eMarketer, he says global e-commerce was projected to expand to US$2tril next year from US$1.8tril this year.

In South-East Asia, e-commerce exceeded US$7bil in 2013.

To take advantage of the vast opportunities offered by e-commerce, the Government should strengthen its planning, provide training on conducting e-commerce and educate manufacturers on this aspect of development, Ter proposes.

To encourage his members to seize opportunities in e-commerce, Ter borrows a quote from Jack Ma of Alibaba who said the following in response to frequent questions on why he was so successful:

“My answer is very simple. While I am doing, you are just looking. The world is changing all the time, and nobody is waiting for someone who stands still. If you don’t take the initiative to change, you will be changed by the world.”

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