KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Foreign investors weighing opportunities in Malaysia have moved on from the 1Malaysia Development (1MDB) corruption scandal that had weighed heavily on the country’s credibility, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said.
The investment, trade, and industry minister told CNBC in an interview that the topic has not cropped up in meetings with capital market and private investors over the last year, suggesting that the issue is no longer a factor that can influence foreign direct investments.
“This issue is a major issue for Malaysia and for the last 10 years. But you know, the prime minister and myself, we have been going around the last one year to market Malaysia, and this issue has not cropped up,” he said.
“Other issues have cropped up… you know, competition is getting stiffer, but no, not much issue was raised by both capital market investors as well as private investors.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has gone on overdrive to shore up foreign investments since taking office, leveraging on international conferences to squeeze in meetings with top executives from some of the biggest multinational firms as he sought to consolidate his leadership with promises of “inclusive economic growth”.
Anwar said raising living standards will be a top priority and one of his administration’s key performance indicators. He vowed to create more high-paying jobs by bringing in “high-value” investments that would push Malaysia out of its middle-income rut, and become the world’s top 30 largest economies.
Malaysia attracted RM225 billion in approved investments in the first nine months of 2023 to exceed its full-year target, the government’s investment promotion agency said in December.
However, a documentary on the scandal released on popular streaming service Netflix last week appeared to have revived public interest in the scandal.
The trials of then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, accused of being a key figure in the scheme that saw billions of ringgit stolen from the investment firm, is still ongoing.
The former Umno president is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence after being convicted on all counts in the first of his 1MDB-related trials and exhausting all avenues for appeal.