Emergency proclamation will not scare away investors, says Tengku Zafrul
Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz speaks to the media during a courtesy call to Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar at Wisma Darul Iman, September 6, 2020. — Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 19 — The claim that the proclamation of a nationwide state of emergency would frighten away investors is incorrect, according to Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

The finance minister said Malaysia was one of 80 countries, or almost half of the world, that made such a move to battle Covid-19.

“As I’ve said, public health is key to economic recovery. I would like to clarify that whatever decision made during this period needs to have the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or someone appointed by His Majesty,” he said during a special briefing on the RM15 billion Malaysian Economic and Rakyat’s Protection Assistance Package (PERMAI) here today.

The aid package, which was announced yesterday by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, comprises 22 initiatives to combat Covid-19, safeguard the people’s welfare and ensure the continuity of businesses.

On January 12, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, consented to the proclamation of the nationwide state of emergency, which would be in force until August 1 as a proactive measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia.

Tengku Zafrul said the government was even ensuring checks and balances through the formation of a special independent taskforce consisting of representatives from the government and the opposition as well as experts who could advise His Majesty if the emergency period could be ended.

The government had proven that it was constantly in discussions with the private sector, the minister said, adding that this was the time for both sides to be united and cooperate with each other to get the country back on track for a sustainable economic recovery.

“Now is a good time for better public-private partnership. We could see that following the emergency declaration, our capital markets have been stable.

“In early January, we had a net foreign inflow in the stock market. Before that, December (2020) marked the eighth consecutive month of bond market foreign inflow. The ringgit is still at a multi-year high against the US dollar,” he noted.

Tengku Zafrul said he believed the investor confidence was still there. “I assure that we will do the right thing—which is to provide a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods,” he said.

He also pointed out that there had been various incentives announced by the government under the National Economic Recovery Plan and Budget 2021 to attract investments, including a RM15 billion allocation for major infrastructure projects and an additional RM2.7 billion allocation for rural infrastructure projects.

“Ultimately, our economic recovery path hinges on the curbing of Covid-19. We are taking the necessary steps with strict standard operating procedures. The vaccine roll-out this quarter will support this case,” he added. — Bernama