KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia continues to be most favoured investment haven for investors, particularly as a gateway to expand not only into the Asean region but also Asia in general, according to leading businessmen.
Despite China, India and other Asean countries posing challenges, Malaysia has been blessed with calibre leaders and administrators to cushion the impact of the financial meltdown, hence, the country was able to recover quickly from the recession.
Being an open economy, the government, under the premiership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, always welcomed constructive criticisms, ideas and views from various quarters to ensure Malaysia's continued economic fundamentals through pro-active measures.
As the country strives towards achieving developed nation status by 2020, the government has underlined the right policies including unveiling the 10th Malaysia Plan (RMK10), New Economic Model (NEM), Government Transformation Plan (GTP) and 1Malaysia.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EBM Asia Sdn Bhd Bernhard Schutte regarded Malaysia as "the diamond in the rough."
"There are so many opportunities in Malaysia. The people are so friendly; it was difficult to understand that in the beginning.
"The world can really learn from Malaysians when it comes to friendliness. Malaysians are humble and have more wealth than they are willing to tell you," he told Bernama in an interview.
EBM Asia Sdn Bhd specialises in creating partnerships between companies in Europe, Asia and the United States.
As a full service consultancy, with service sectors including Business Development, Technical Development, Public Relations.
Schutte said he chose to settle down and do business in Malaysia because it was a bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many others ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony.
"In addition, government and politics function very well, the business climate is good and Malaysia is a safe place with a low crime rate.
"I have invested mostly in the service industry and am very pleased with the outcome and future potential, especially with the Prime Minister (Najib) who is very active and pro-business," said Schutte, who has been investing and living here for almost five years.
He also pointed that the laws in Malaysia are very pro-business.
"For foreigners, Malaysia is open to do business and you can even buy property under your own name, which is not possible in most South East Asian countries," he said.
After coming to Malaysia, Schutte said he was very impressed with the assistance rendered by the Malaysian Investment Development Authortiy (MIDA).
"MIDA provides you with many answers to your research for free. MIDA also does have a one-stop centre to assist investors wanting to set up shop in Malaysia.
"Once your company is set up, there is another government department called the Malaysian External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) which provides marketing expertise for your products and services worldwide," he said, adding that both Matrade and MIDA were very efficient and helpful.
Saying that there are many destinations in the Asean region, Schutte said every country has its advantages and disadvantages.
"Investors have to understand and study every aspect of their business and the potential country for their investment. You have to look at everything. It took me at least two years to study the region before I made my decision.
"Malaysia also has very good relations with all countries worldwide. Malaysia has no war or bad situation with any of its neighbours. This is very unusual and is due to the good diplomacy of the Malaysian government," Schutte said hoping his experiences in Malaysia would be an eye opener to those who are planning to invest in the region.
TNT Express Worldwide (M) Sdn Bhd, a unit of Netherlands-based logistics group TNT NV, is upbeat about its operations in Malaysia and has said that it will continue to invest in its infrastructure.
Based on the country's good fundamentals, its Managing Director Gerry Power was reported to have said that despite the economic downturn last year, TNT Malaysia's revenue grew 19 per cent and may surpass that figure this year with its enhanced services and expansion plans.
On the capital market, four Chinese firms have already listed on Bursa Malaysia Securities following investors confidence in the Malaysian economy.
The four are Multi Sports Holdings Ltd, Xingquan International Sports Holdings Ltd, XiDeLang Holdings Ltd and K-Star Sports Ltd. Multi Sports, Xingquan and XiDeLang were listed in the second-half of last year while K-Star was listed in June.
Another two are expected to be listed on the exchange before year-end and this shows the level of confidence investors have in the Malaysian economy. - Bernama