KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — Former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today claimed that billions of taxpayer’s money have been “looted” from the country.
The outspoken politician also criticised the “political class” and its refusal to address the issue.
“Without a doubt, Malaysia is slipping. Billions have been looted from this country, and billions more are being siphoned out as our entire political structure crumbles.
“Yet we are gathered here in comfort, in a country that still seems to ‘work.’ Most of the time. This is due less to good management than to the extraordinary wealth of this country,” the Gua Musang MP said during the 4th Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit here.
The Kelantan prince, popularly known as Ku Li, said that public must not be deceived with the mismanagement and corruption of the economy.
“You were born into a country of immense resources both natural and cultural and social. We have been wearing down this advantage with mismanagement and corruption. With lies, tall tales and theft.
“We have a political class unwilling or unable to address the central issue of the day because they have grown fat and comfortable with a system built on lies and theft,” he said.
Ku Li stressed that the recent World Foreign Investment Report (WIR) which showed a drop in the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) was not a statistical blip.
“Today, according to the latest World Investment Report, FDI into Malaysia is at about a twenty year low. We are entering the peer group of Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines as an investment destination. Thailand, despite a month-long siege of the capital, attracted more FDI than we did last year. Indonesia and Vietnam far out perform us, not as a statistical blip but consistently. Soon we shall have difficulty keeping up with the Philippines,” he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come under fire from opposition parties for Malaysia’s lacklustre FDI rates, which have fallen faster than regional counterparts such as Singapore and China even while capital outflows dampened private domestic investment.
The WIR 2010 released by the United Nations showed that FDI in Malaysia plunged 81 per cent last year, trailing behind countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.
The report revealed that Malaysia suffered a large 81.1 per cent drop in FDIs compared to far healthier figures in Thailand (30.4 per cent), Vietnam (44.1 per cent) and Indonesia (44.7 per cent).
In May, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed announced that investments in the country for Q1 2010 amounted to RM5.2 billion.
FDIs made up RM3.2 billion of this total, with Singapore, Taiwan and Japan being the biggest contributors.
Mustapa said the investment amount was still relatively low against the total amount of RM32.6 billion in investments received last year.
Najib has been trying to lift Malaysia’s profile as a destination for foreign investment to help the country achieve an average GDP growth of at least 6 per cent per annum over the next five years.
However, his administration has insisted that the GDP growth target is still achievable despite warning that the economy may slow down in the second half of the year due to external factors.
“This, I believe, is called relegation. If we take into account FDI outflow, the picture is even more interesting. Last year we received US$1.38 billion (RM4.07 billion) in investments but US$ 8.04 billion flowed out. We are the only country in Southeast Asia which has suffered nett FDI outflow.
“I am not against outward investment. It can be a good thing for the country. But an imbalance on this scale indicates capital flight, not mere investment overseas,” said Tengku Razaleigh.