Which steps has the capital of Malaysia taken in order to provide a good environment for businesses?  

Kuala Lumpur is a good environment for businesses because of the ease at which businesses can operate here. We have the right infrastructure for logistics, communications, technology, transportation as well as a large pool of highly talented individuals. These factors, including the fact that Malaysia currently ranks 23rd in the world under the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, makes us competitive. In terms of larger corporations, Kuala Lumpur offers competitive tax relief incentives. For example, companies with a pioneer status have 70% of their income exempted for five years from the date of start of production. Under the Economic Transformation Programme, the government has set out plans to liberalize the economy, which would have added even better reasons for investors and businesses to be optimistic. However, recent trends where government actually holds a large share of the economy are not healthy signs. If the government can reverse this trend, and truly allow the competitive flourishing of the private sector, especially small and medium enterprises (which form the bulk of the economy), then this would be an additional element to remain positive about the business environment in Kuala Lumpur.

Is there anything Kuala Lumpur can offer that other cities can’t?  

Kuala Lumpur is strategically located in Southeast Asia and is a gateway for businesses to ASEAN. There is also a clear commitment to engage with business, where the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, for example, has several offices to guide businesses on how to set up a business, the rules and regulations on conformity to the foreign market, certification requirements including Certificate of Origin issuance. They also provide contacts of Malaysian companies, business matching with potential partners and introductions to business associations and chambers of commerce. We also have a very competitive exchange rate at the moment. There is an understanding that the city must stay at tip-top efficiency conditions if it wants to seriously compete with the other neighboring regional cities. Finally, it is the people of Kuala Lumpur that really offer a great advantage to businesses - we are a young, vibrant, highly adaptable and cosmopolitan population, many of whom are multilingual and can bridge language gaps to countries in the region, as well as China and India. Because we are ourselves multicultural and multiethnic and have lived under conditions requiring us to adapt rapidly and quickly all our lives, the people of Kuala Lumpur are naturally adept at working for multinational corporations that require these skills.

Let’s imagine a little. How would Kuala Lumpur look like without the influence of globalization?  

From the very beginning, Kuala Lumpur began as a port for tin mining. From the backstreets of China Town markets to the Petronas Twin Towers that overlook the city, the Kuala Lumpur as we know it today would not have existed without globalization, trade, and openness. It literally would still be a tropical jungle. Its economy would be restricted to resources and goods available only within Malaysia, with no access to any of the rich variety of food and products we currently enjoy in our supermarkets and shopping malls. Without globalization, we wouldn't be exposed to ideas, travel, the healthy exchange of cultures that we have absorbed and kept the best of. In fact, it is important to understand that without globalization, we wouldn't be the kind of population that we are today - incoming migration since as early as the 13th century brought with it the people groups who currently live in Malaysia today, who have contributed collectively to the country and city's economy, society, culture, growth and development. This exchange of ideas and culture continues today, which Kuala Lumpur reaps the benefits of.

Meribel Sinikalda

Published: March 2017

Image: DHL