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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        28  March 2011

Malaysia needs more flexibility

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Malaysia needs to have more flexible labor and business rules to attract talent into the country. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Michael Bear said Malaysia had great infrastructure, the best buildings and fantastic transport plans.

“By 2017, it will be amazing to travel around Kuala Lumpur but more work needs to be done in the area of liberalisation and transparency.

Citing Malaysia's 24th rank out of 134 countries for global competitiveness in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, Bear said Malaysia “needed to get to 12 or 13” in order to “really excel.”

Singapore was number three after Switzerland and the United States in the same poll. “What you need to do here is to have policies that stimulate the free flow of business and have practitioners to make sure all regulations are followed, cut out the red tape, then the sky will be the limit,” he said.

“For instance, if you want to grow your legal profession, you need to attract the best companies here. But if you have restrictions for that, people may want to work somewhere else.”

Bear said for a country to be fully competitive, it needed to have individuals from all disciplines. “In order to be a world leader in the financial sector, for example, you need to have a full breadth of experts, therein lies the comparative advantage of London,” he said. According to Bear, there are basically a few elements that make London attractive.

“First is the availability of skills in a business friendly environment. Second, stability and transparency.

“London, also has clusters within the city which refer to experts located within easy reach of each other. These elements ease the flow of business,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bear said, as part of Britain's efforts to strengthen the relationship with Malaysia, the two main stock exchanges of the countries were discussing ways to collaborate.

“We currently have 17 of your companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.

“We are building the relationship, that's what stock exchanges are all about,” he said. “Malaysia is very important to us and we can learn from each other. For example, with you being experts in Islamic finance, we hope to learn from you in that aspect.”

Bear took office as the 683rd Lord Mayor of the City of London on Nov. 12, 2010 and this was his first trip to Malaysia in that capacity.

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