22nd June 2016 at 11 am at The Zenith Hotel, Kuantan, Pahang
Ladies and gentlemen,
We thank you for attending the 70th Annual General Meeting of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).
The ACCCIM was founded in 1921 and was formerly known as The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce of British Malaya. The first conference of the ACCCIM was held on 2nd July 1921 at the Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Kuala Lumpur.
During these 95 years, our members have made profound contributions to society and nation-building, and they include some famous names: Tun Tan Cheng Lock, the founder of the Malaysia Chinese Association (MCA), and Tun H.S. Lee, the first Finance Minister of Malaysia; they were also the Past Presidents of the Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce and ACCCIM respectively.
The ACCCIM believes that the development and international standing achieved by Malaysia today is the result of the combined effort of all ethnic groups in the country. Therefore, we are greatly encouraged by the 1Malaysia concept advocated by our Prime Minister, which emphasizes racial unity and national integration.
Since taking over as President of the ACCCIM in 2015, my colleagues and I have developed a three-year strategy consisting of Nine Action Plans. Two of these Action Plans are aimed at Promoting National Unity and Creating a Caring Society, which are in line with national goals of achieving transformation and development through national unity, solidarity, fraternity and harmony.
These are challenging and uncertain times for the global economy. Tomorrow, the UK will hold a referendum on whether to leave the European Union (EU); if Brexit does happen, there will almost certainly be immediate negative economic repercussions for the EU and the wider world. The US Presidential Elections in November will also have significant impact on geopolitical events, particularly if the next US President adopts very different policies from the incumbent.
On the domestic front, the weakening Ringgit, declining market confidence, increasing cost of doing business, lowering corporate competitiveness, suspension on recruiting foreign workers, and difficulties in hiring suitable employees have resulted in many businesses are stagnating.
In this respect, we are pleased to have been able to meet and discuss some of these issues with our Prime Minister. The Prime Minister showed great concern, and we are confident that the economic growth and social matters will always be priorities for the government.
But there are reasons to be optimistic. Malaysia has strong fundamentals and there are already several important investment projects ongoing.
a. The Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) will strengthen ties between the cities of Kuantan and Qingzhou, particularly in tourism, industrial development and halal food production. This RM10.5 billion industrial park will further strengthen the RM38 billion investments in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER), and will make Pahang a true industrial powerhouse.
b. China’s RM43 billion investment into the Malacca Gateway project will spur the growth of seaports. With a proposed deep-sea port and an Ocean Park planned, Malacca Gateway will be an important part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) network, enabling Malaysia to be one of the top transportation hubs in the region.
c. The Malaysia Vision Valley in Negeri Sembilan is a public-private partnership that will focus on extensive connectivity such as high-speed railway, ports and road facilities. It covers a 260,000-acre region around Seremban, Nilai and Port Dickson and is expected to generate over RM400 billion in investments by 2045.
While ACCCIM is extremely supportive of efforts to encourage foreign direct investments (FDI), we hope that the Government will also work closely with local businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly our enthusiastic members here in ACCCIM, on capitalising on these opportunities.
Despite the challenging economic environment, China has further intensified investments into Malaysia. Bilateral trade in 2015 has increased by 11% to RM230 billion and 19% of our exports go to China. The Chinese Governement’s acquisition of Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) may eventually rise to RM30 billion, equivalent to 8.5% of all outstanding MGS. Investments in manufacturing, construction, infrastructure and property are now at significant levels.
Since the MOU was signed in October 2012, it has taken less than four years to establish the Xiamen University Malaysia, the first overseas campus of a Chinese university. This 150-acre campus worth RM1.3 billion officially opened earlier in February 2016. Enrolment is expected to be more than 1,000 students this year, eventually rising to 10,000 students upon full completion of Phase 2. The speed and magnitude of this project is a testament of how well our two countries have worked together to leave a positive legacy for future generations.
The excellent bilateral ties between Malaysia and China would not be possible without the hard work from all sides. In particular, we would like to pay tribute to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and Ambassador Dr. Huang Huikang for their dedication in strengthening co-operation and fostering closer collaboration among public and private sectors in both countries.
Since the previous AGM in July last year, the National Council and the respective Working Committees of the ACCCIM have been actively carrying out the tasks entrusted by the general meeting.The ACCCIM has organised or co-organised a number of activities to assist the business community in accessing the latest information, knowledge and opportunities available. These include the SERC Global Economic Conference 2016, the Malaysia-China High Level Economic Forum, Talk on Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (RQFII), China (Guangdong) – Malaysia Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference, “One Belt One Road” Malaysia-China Economic Conference, and Seminar on Family Business Succession.
On the international front, the ACCCIM has expanded and enhanced its In addition, it has organised a number of delegations overseas to interact and explore new business opportunities. In return, we have also received nearly 50 groups of foreign delegates in less than a year, which amounts to almost one visit per week.
On 29th May 2016, in conjunction with our 95th Anniversary, the ACCCIM hosted the 5th Meeting of the World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention Advisory Committee, receiving delegations from Chinese Chambers of Commerce in 11 countries and regions, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Myanmar. By enhancing cooperation with these partner-organisations, ACCCIM can provide more extensive networks and opportunities for collaboration with Malaysian businessmen.
The ACCCIM also worked actively with MATRADE on the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) in Xiamen, and the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) in Guangzhou, where we had set up the ACCCIM Pavilion. Participation in these international fairs have provided Malaysian companies with a more extensive platform to showcase their products and services; it also helps the Government attract foreign investors to Malaysia.
As always, the ACCCIM will continue to assist local SMEs spread their wings beyond Malaysian shores by encouraging and helping them explore overseas markets.
But members of ACCCIM must also be self-reliant and proactive. In this digital age, business models are constantly changing and changing very fundamentally. From crowd-sourcing platforms to financial technologies (or fintech), self-driving cars to 3D printing, the technological advancement and product innovation have revolutionised conventional business models by redefining business norms. In this brave new world, business people must be proactive and forward-thinking.
Furthermore, by understanding the opportunities and challenges of major regional trade developments such as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiatives, we can better equip ourselves to capitalise on the opportunities and to develop new markets.
Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the National Council, Working Committees and Secretariat of the ACCCIM for their excellent effort and dedication in discharging their duties over the past year.Our appreciation goes to Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Lim Sing and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Pahang for the arrangement and warm hospitality in making this AGM and the ACCCIM Young Entrepreneurs Conference a success.