Anwar keen on more S’pore investments in Malaysia

SINGAPOREAN investments in Malaysia have been growing, and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is keen on generating the kind of environment which will see this trend continue.

He told about 30 top Singapore corporate leaders at a tea reception at the Raffles City Convention Centre yesterday that he was involved personally in identifying and promoting areas in which Singapore’s private sector could get involved in Malaysia.

“I would like to see this continue. This is primarily my interest,” said Datuk Seri Anwar, who is also Malaysia’s Finance Minister.

He arrived here in the afternoon for a two-day visit at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who greeted him at Changi airport.

Two hours later, at the tea reception organised by the Asean Institute, a non-profit organisation which aims to promote closer ties among businessmen in Asean countries, Datuk Seri Anwar stressed: “I am very pleased at the level of cooperation, not only government to government, but even more, between the private sectors of both countries.”

He was interested in any suggestions the businessmen had on how his government could finetune its procedures to attract more private sector investment in Malaysia.

“Our interest is to be supportive and listen to you,” he told them.

Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz had started a dialogue with the private sector here when she visited Singapore last week, he said.

Datuk Seri Rafidah, who came here during an Asean tour to promote investment in Malaysia, had told businessmen of the advantages of establishing operations across the Causeway, and sought their feedback.

Last year, Singapore investment commitments in Malaysia rose 16.3 per cent to M$514.6 million (S$299 million).

This made the Republic the fourth largest foreign investor in Malaysia last year. Singapore was ninth in 1992.

Shortly after arriving, Datuk Seri Anwar, who is here on his first official visit as Deputy Prime Minister, met Foreign Affairs and Law Minister Professor S. Jayakumar. He also called on Brigadier-General (NS) Lee in the evening shortly before being hosted to dinner at Raffles Hotel by his Singapore counterpart.

Today, Datuk Seri Anwar will call on Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and meet Trade and Industry Minister Yeo Cheow Tong and Finance Minister Richard Hu.

His programme includes a visit to the National Science and Technology Board at the Science Park.

In the evening, Mr and Mrs Goh will host a barbecue dinner for him at the Istana poolside.

A senior Malaysian official told The Straits Times that Datuk Seri Anwar’s talks with Singapore’s leaders would focus on strengthening bilateral relations further.

He described ties between the two countries’ political leaders as “warm and comfortable”.

“Relations between the two countries are excellent. But we are looking to strengthen ties beyond government-to-government level,” he said.

This included forging links between the countries’ private sectors and also “expanding and developing” links between the People’s Action Party and Umno.

Accompanying the Deputy Prime Minister on this visit are his wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah, and senior Malaysian officials.

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