KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 16): The Look East Policy, mooted in 1982 by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, could help Malaysia progress to the next level and attract more Japanese investments in industries such as the halal sector, says former president of the Alumni Look East Policy Society (ALEPS) Datuk Zulkifli Abdul Malek.
He said Japanese companies were welcomed to set up factories in Malaysia and leverage on the country’s status in the global halal market.
“The investors that are coming will be different this time, as previously they were mainly from the manufacturing industry.
“These (new) investors will be industry players for different types of products,” he said after being bestowed “The Order of The Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette”.
The award was presented to Zulkifli for his outstanding contribution in promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and Malaysia by the Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa.
Zulkifli served as President of the ALEPS for eight years from 1994 to 2002.
He played a crucial part in developing a network between ALEPS, comprising former graduates of Japanese universities and technical colleges, with Japanese-related organisations and companies.
Zulkifli said benefits could also be derived from the training of human capital that has enabled more Malaysians to understand the Japanese language, business ethics, as well as, technology acquired.
“The Japanese are loyal investors and they will not go away just because of policy changes. However, they will not come in a big wave just because we are looking into the Look East Policy again,” he said.
Zulkifli said Japanese are matured investors who would study first before investing in any country.
“The companies will not come just to leverage on cheap costs as Malaysia has graduated from being a labour intensive country to more high-end industries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Miyagawa said Zulkifli keenly promoted various efforts to put into practice the outcome of the Look East policy, such as alumni association activities for Malaysian students who returned from Japan and in being instrumental in inviting Japanese companies to Malaysia.
“If you call Dr Mahathir the Father of Look East Policy, then Zulkifli is a devoted son of Look East Policy,” Miyagawa said.
Zulkifli was selected as one of the first batch Look East Policy students in 1981, joining the preparatory education for going to Japan in 1982 and studied economics and commerce in Hitotsubashi University.