Push Chinese investors to set aside 40% of work for Malaysians, urges FMM

FMM president Soh Thian Lai.

GEORGE TOWN: The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) today called on the government to ensure at least 40% of the jobs for infrastructure works carried out by China-based companies be given to Malaysians.

FMM president Soh Thian Lai said this was to ensure there was equitable profits for Malaysians in the long run.

Furthermore, he said there are plenty of Malaysian companies ready to take part in mega projects.

“Before this, the Chinese brought their own workforce and materials. Their earnings were then repatriated to China.

“That is unfair to us locals as we give you the projects, but you take back your profits.

“By having Malaysians involved, you are sharing your wealth by creating jobs and creating equitable wealth for all locals.

“We would like to urge Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to push for more Malaysian participation in Chinese infrastructure projects,” he said after opening Penang FMM’s 50th-anniversary dinner at a hotel here Thursday night.

Currently, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and the Penang undersea tunnel and three-roads project involve Chinese companies, although the tunnel and roads project have slightly more local involvement.

Last year, it was reported that the Chinese company involved in the RM44 billion ECRL is not obliged to hire Malaysian companies in carrying out works here.

This was because there was no provision to do so in the contract signed with the project’s main contractor, China’s state-owned China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC).

The previous government had said it would not force the Chinese company to hire local employees or raw materials as it was against World Trade Organisation provisions.

However, it was also reported that there was an understanding between the CCCC and the government that at least 30% to 40% of the ECRL contracts would be given out to Malaysians, but this was not set in stone.

Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook had said the ECRL project, under a new agreement, would give more scope for local companies.

The new agreement also saw the price tag for the rail line cut from RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion, with the route cut shorter by 40km, reducing its total length to 648km instead of 688km.

It will run from Kota Bahru, through Mentakab, Jelebu, Kuala Kelawang, Bangi/Kajang and Putrajaya, and end in Port Klang.