MALAYSIA recorded a 12 per cent jump in approved investments in the manufacturing sector in the first quarter of this year compared with the corresponding period last year.
Malaysian Investment Development Authority said for the period January to March this year, the country attracted RM15.1 billion in approved investments in the manufacturing sector, compared with RM13.5 billion for the same period last year.
Of the total, domestic investment formed the bulk with RM9.2 billion.
Japan topped the list of foreign investors with RM1.2 billion investments, followed by France (RM693 million) and Singapore (RM665.5 million).
Chemical and chemical products industry received the lion's share of the investments with RM6.5 billion followed by a distant second from transport equipment (RM2.8 billion) and electrical and electronic (E&E) products (RM1.2 billion).
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said despite recent street demonstrations, there has been no letting up of foreign investments in Malaysia.
However, should such scenes persist, they could impact investor confidence, he warned.
"The business community (now) says that the investment climate is conducive for them," Mustapa said at a media briefing after chairing a dialogue session with national associations and chambers of commerce here yesterday.
The dialogue was held to discuss and gather feedback on the impact of the recent Bersih 3.0 rally on Malaysia's investment climate and business environment.
The business community, he said, is pushing for improvements to the employment landscape - including addressing the retirement age and productivity issues.
Education, especially the enhanced use of Englishthat is necessary in the efforts to improve human capital quality, was their clarion call, Mustapa added.
"We live in a challenging environment and in the last three years we have been opening up - being more transparent, having more debates and space and more democracy. Naturally we will face more challenges.
"The government has dealt with some of these issues very well but we recognise the need to continue to make improvements ... transformation is a journey and is yet to be completed."
The government, he added, is on the right track and will continue to work hard to ensure the country remains attractive for investment which will ensure growth and quality jobs.
On the rally which took place on April 28, Mustapa said a study by the SME Corporation showed the tourism industry was mostly affected
The study also indicated that transport operators lost RM5.4 million during that day while traders in the area lost between 10 and 60 per cent in sales.
"The business community has proposed that the government designate upfront certain parts of Kuala Lumpur for demonstrations and the consensus is that the central business district is not suitable."
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon explained that with the designated places, there would be less disruptions in the country.
The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Charles Ireland said street demonstrations are not an issue as they occur around the world.
"In Malaysia, it was a small demonstration that caused disruption for a short period, but the international business community wants to move on.
"The government is doing a great job in its transformation efforts and we are supportive of the work being done and hope it will continue,"he added.
National Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia secretary- general Datuk Syed Hussein Al Habshee hopes that the government would continue to pursue dialogue sessions with the business community.