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Foreign investors concerned about M’sian crime wave

KUALA LUMPUR — A spike in drive-by shootings and gangland killings in Malaysia has got foreign investors worried about the security situation in the country.

KUALA LUMPUR — A spike in drive-by shootings and gangland killings in Malaysia has got foreign investors worried about the security situation in the country.

There have been at least 35 reported shootings nationwide since May, which have left 22 people dead.

Last month’s high-profile killing of banker Ahmad Hussain Najadi in broad daylight in Kuala Lumpur appears to have sent a signal to the business community that all is not well in terms of safety.

Mr Roger Poulin, President of the Canadian Business Council of Malaysia, said the rise in violent crimes was a concern to investors. “We hope the government has a handle on it,” he told The Malaysian Insider this week.

Mr Nicholas Zefferys, a former President of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), said its members were concerned but were not yet considering pulling out their investments from Malaysia. “As long as there are continuous measures to fight crime, I think the investors will be assuaged. Things are bad but it has not boiled over,” he said.

The British, German, Japanese and Korean chambers of commerce declined to comment on the matter. Businessmen from all four countries have sizable investments in Malaysia.

One of the executive directors of these chambers said she did not want to comment on the issue as her job was to promote investment in Malaysia and the hike in crime could make investors anxious.

Malaysia attracted RM34.8 billion (S$13.5 billion) in foreign direct investment last year but if foreign investors perceive that the violence is getting out of hand, they may reconsider investing in the country, said a local fund manager.

“The long-term reputation of Malaysia as a safe haven for investors is at stake and the perception that things are not in control could result in investors re-considering Malaysia as an investment destination. The authorities must move fast to quell the rise in violent crimes,” said the fund manager.

Mr Zefferys said the government must do more to overcome perceptions that nothing is being done to curb crime.

“The investigations pertaining to crime should include government agencies to preclude the possibility of collusion,” he added.

The police and government lawmakers have attributed the surge in violence in part to the abolition of the Emergency Ordinance in 2011, which led to 2,600 hardcore criminals and gang members being released from detention.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had repealed the colonial-era security law, which allowed suspects to be detained for as long as two years without trial, in a bid to boost civil liberties. He has urgently called for the authorities to restore public confidence amid the recent spike in violent crime.

The Home Ministry is considering bringing back preventive laws that allow for detention without trial.

The Kuala Lumpur city police have again tried to allay the public’s concerns. Senior Assistant Commissioner Ku Chin Wah of the Criminal Investigation Department said: “Rest assured that there is no random shooting of innocent bystanders. If you are targeted to be murdered, you can be killed anywhere, you don’t have to come to KL to be killed.” AGENCIES

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