- Excellency, you have served honourably as Malaysian High Commissioner to India since March 2017. How would you characterize and describe your experience in India so far?
Time surely flies when you are in India. It has been one and a half years since I arrived in New Delhi. I have had the opportunity to travel to many different states, but have yet to cover the whole country. “Incredible India” is a land of a thousand contradictions, with its fascinating nature and colourful culture and traditions, but some old-aged customs not in-sync with modernisation are still present. I also noticed that many modern urban centres in India are developing very fast, yet in other places, even basic amenities are not available.
I came at a time when our bilateral relations were being revitalised and enhanced. Former PM Najib Razak had visited India twice within a span of one year (April 2017, and January 2018). Few days after our new Government was formed in May 2018 following the General Election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the initiative to meet with newly elected Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 30 May 2018 in Putrajaya. We really appreciated the friendly gesture.
- Malaysia is the 25th largest investor in India with FDI inflows of over $859 million in 2017. With India jumping 30 places in the Ease of Doing Business Index, how do you see the future of Malaysian businesses in India as and how would you gauge their participation in Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative?
The improvements in India’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking have certainly lifted investors’ confidence to expand their footprint in India. In his address at the WEF, Prime Minister Modi had also welcomed investors to India promising a red carpet treatment instead of red tape. We hope that the Indian authorities will continue supporting Malaysians to do business here.
India is a big market for Malaysia. As long as it brings mutual benefits, these companies will continue their presence here. The High Commission will continue to monitor the business environment and provide appropriate advice to Malaysian investors.
Aggressive investment promotions by various Indian states, have also created a lot of interest among Malaysian companies.
- Excellency, presently there are over 150 Indian companies operating in Malaysia, including giants of the Indian industry such as Tech Mahindra, Larsen & Tourbo, Adani ports and Manipal Global Education Group. What would be your message to other Indian companies looking for business opportunities in Malaysia?
Come to Malaysia and witness how easy it is to do business there. Abundant of opportunities are wide open for Indian companies to explore in Malaysia. The sectors that we think Indian companies are good at and should explore to invest in Malaysia are pharmaceutical, chemicals, biotechnology, engineering, ICT, medical devices and food ingredients. We also welcome Indian MNCs to establish regional hub in Malaysia.
Indian investors involved in manufacturing, services and primary industry activities can avail themselves to a wide variety of incentives in the form of tax exemption/relief, grants as well as soft loans. Not to mention, we have high technology and modern facilities to assist your business needs. Our infrastructure is booming and our roads are well-connected to airports and seaports. Our strategic location in ASEAN is a bonus point where you can make Malaysia as your hub to enter the ASEAN market.
Above all, my office is always open for potential investors. Feel free to approach us.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first world leaders to personally greet newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad when he visited Kuala Lumpur in May 2018. In light of this being his third visit to your country since he was elected, how would you assess PM Modi’s role in advancing India-Malaysia relations?
Prime Minister Modi’s proactive policies has certainly improved India’s engagements with the Asian region. The re-orientation of the “Look East” to “Act East” policy can be clearly felt.
Bilateral relations between Malaysia and India has also taken an upward swing. From the economic point of view, our bilateral trade have strengthened to USD14.3 Billion in the year 2017. However, much more could be done as our economic potentials have not been utilised to its full potential.
Malaysia is India’s best gateway into ASEAN. It is centrally located and offers the best air connectivity from India. Many major Indian businesses are already well-established in Malaysia. Many are expanding and diversify their operations. Our similar background and conducive environment for doing business makes it easy for Indian business community.
- As the 4th largest economy in South East Asia and one of the foremost parliamentary democracies in the region, how do you assess Malaysia’s role in today’s multipolar world order?
Malaysia has always been independent and pragmatic in its foreign policy. We will continue to remain neutral and friendly to all countries. Our approach towards resolving any issues will be through peaceful dialogue and negotiations.
Under the new Government, emphasis has been given towards human rights. Besides playing a more effective role in promoting human rights, Malaysia also aims to support proactive measures towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2030.
- What is your message for the readers of Diplomacy & Beyond (D&B) Plus magazine?
Malaysia and India have always enjoyed close and friendly bilateral relations. As time passes, the relations between the two countries have flourished beyond traditional trade linkages and have encapsulated at all levels – official Government-to-Government, business-to-business and people-to-people contact. The ancestral links between both countries also contributed to the close nature of our relations. The family-like bonds will grow even stronger, for the benefit of both our countries and peoples.
I strongly believe that Malaysia-India special relations will propel to greater heights in the future.