Good Afternoon, Selamat Sejahtera and Salam 1Malaysia,
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri William Cheng;
President of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM),
Members of Board of Trustees of ACCCIM SERC Trust,
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Yeoh Tiong Lay,
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Lee Shin Cheng,
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Lee Oi Hian,
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Chua Ma Yu,
Yang Berhormat Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri-Tan Sri, Datuk-Datuk,
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.
1. I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak with all of you today – and let me first thank the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia for inviting me to officiate at the launch of their new Socio-Economic Research Centre.
2. The initiative shown by the Chamber of Commerce is setting up this important centre is highly commendable. Conducting in-depth studies and systematic research into the socio-economic issues of our nation is not only a positive step in itself, it will also complement the Government’s efforts to accelerate Malaysia’s economic growth over the coming decade.
3. During colonial times and since independence, members of the Chinese business community have consistently performed to the highest standards. Thanks to their persistence, determination and sheer hard work, entrepreneurs like Lim Goh Tong and Jimmy Choo became hugely successful on a local, national and global scale. And the contribution of the Chinese community to our economy is absolutely crucial to the country as a whole – the jobs that you create, the money that you spend and the taxes that you pay. As Prime Minister, I value this greatly.
4. Just as Chinese businessmen and women have excelled in the past and continue to excel in the present, I hold out great hope that your success will continue into the future. There is a Chinese proverb that says “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.”
5. By passing on your work ethic and your entrepreneurial spirit to your children, and by equipping them with the skills they need to join, develop and in time take over and manage the family business, you can ensure that the next generation carries on your business legacy.
6. That is why, as a government, we continue to invest in our future by investing in education. But initiatives like the New Economic Model, Government Transformation Programme and Economic Transformation Program are also intended for our children. They need to be equipped with the right skills as early as possible, because they will be the future businessmen and women who – as you have done – will help lift Malaysia’s economy to even greater heights.
7. As a nation we are blessed with plentiful supplies of oil, gas and rubber, but our most precious resource is undoubtedly our people. And although we are a country of many people, races and religions we are all 1Malaysia – so let us make the most of all of our talents by pulling together to build even more successful businesses and to strengthen our economy.
8. By combining the work ethic, dedication and persistence of the Chinese business community with the hospitable, polite and considerate attitudes of Malays and the ambition, openness and respect for family values of the Indian community, we can create synergies that will drive economic growth for all and bring even greater prosperity to Malaysia.
9. And when I say that “we” can create these synergies, I really mean we – because this isn’t something government can do on its own. The days of government knows best are long behind us. The public sector cannot achieve success without a thriving private sector. We cannot enhance Malaysia’s national economy without the owners of small and medium businesses – the kinds of companies run by so many members of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce – being given the freedom and support they need to grow. Quite simply, the public sector must work with the private sector to drive innovation, not work in opposition to it by erecting roadblocks and obstacles to growth.
10. This new attitude is already paying dividends. Thanks to collaboration between the private and public sectors, Malaysia improved its ranking in the World Bank Doing Business report, from 23rd to 21st position for 2010. Our ranking also improved significantly from 18th position to 10th in the Institute of Management Development’s 2010 World Competitiveness Yearbook. These rankings and comparison may not drive us, but they will help us keep focused and help us keep score, and I certainly look forward to seeing further improvements in the year ahead.
11. Each one of you here today has a crucial role to play in helping Malaysia to become an even better place to do business, introducing new and innovative elements to your products and services to increase productivity and differentiate your brand from its competitors. Even more importantly, innovation can also help you to reduce cost of doing business – and this new Centre, which will work to benefit more than 28,000 Chinese businessmen and trade associations in Malaysia, is a significant step forward.
12. So once again, I would like to thank Tan Sri William Cheng and ACCCIM for making this occasion a successful one. I wish all of you every success in this endeavour, and I have great pleasure in officially declaring the ACCCIM Socio-Economic Research Centre open.