Read HERE FULL TEXT of EC Ambassador, Thierry Rommel's Speech (.doc file)
Fact Sheet on EU's Relations with Malaysia: Read here for more
Excerpts: Read here for more
The EU ranks among the main trading partners of Malaysia. In 2004, it absorbed 15.5% of Malaysia’s merchandise exports and provided 12% of its imports.
The EU is Malaysia’s third largest export market after ASEAN and the US. It is Malaysia’s fifth biggest source of imports after ASEAN, Japan, the US and China.
Merchandise trade flows between Malaysia and the EU have remained stable overall in the past five years.
Malaysian exports to the EU amounted to roughly €15.9 billion and Malaysian imports from the EU to 9.2 in 2005. Machinery and transport equipment are the main merchandise in Malaysia’s trade with the EU, in import as well as in export.
Over 70% of Malaysia’s exports to the EU enter tariff-free. There are no bilateral preferential trade arrangements between Malaysia and the EU.
Malaysia benefits from the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides tariff preferences to developing countries in general.
Concerning foreign direct investment, the EU has been the biggest foreign investor in the Malaysian manufacturing sector for the past five years.
With a value of RM23.8 billion, it has accounted for 30% of the total value of approved projects with foreign participation.
In 2004, the value of approved FDI projects with EU capital amounted to RM5.4 billion. The bulk of this investment was in the electrical and electronics sector.
Malaysia needs to re-look its pro-Bumiputera policies if it is to attract European investors or make headway into the European Single Market, said European Commission (EC) ambassador Thierry Rommel.
He said the “moment of truth” is all the more compelling because the National Economic Policy (NEP)...causes many of the inefficiencies that dissuade foreign investors from the country.
Rommel said among the reasons for Malaysia’s poor standing as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the lack of a level playing field for foreign companies “even when they are in a partnership with Bumis.”
The public education system also has NOT served the need for skilled human capital, which Rommel said is “the single biggest challenge yet and one that brings us right back to the Bumiputera policy.”
While the public service delivery system lacks efficiency, responsiveness, transparency and accountability, corruption as well as the questionable and unchecked practices of Malay preferential treatment also plague the business environment and economy of the country, he added.
Aside from all these reasons, Rommel said, a re-look at the NEP is all the more timely now as Malaysia is at a crossroads in its economic future and relations with the EU as several international agreements and negotiations command Malaysia’s attention.
.... negotiations with other Asean countries (except Burma) are in the final stages of signing their respective Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) which would ink the framework and content of political dialogue and cooperation with the EU.
Only Malaysia has NOT made any indications of its commitment to begin negotiations on a PCA with the EU.
Rommel said there are short-term political risks to the government in opening up an honest and public debate on the NEP. He also said the 2006 Approved Permit saga showed that such a debate on the NEP was possible and had proved to have positive results.
“If we all were to continually submit to internal pressure groups and vested economic interests, who indeed are often the same, we, as policy-makers in a democracy, would fail our nation.
Political leaders are elected to act responsibly and be far-sighted for the benefit of the nation they have been elected to lead, even if this implies taking political risks with regard to a part of the electorate which can, in any case, be managed by transparency, dialogue and education.”
"... like it or not, the NEP has come under even greater international scrutiny for elements that are deemed to be obstructive to free trade and detrimental to the open market. Besides the EU, the Bush administration in the United States is also believed to be “very unhappy” with the Malaysian government which has slowed down the US-Malaysia FTA negotiations considerably because of the latter’s concern for the FTA’s implications or repercussions on the continuation of the NEP within Malaysia.
So, it is quite clear now that the NEP is not only opposed by an increasingly large number of Malaysians within the country on the grounds of racial discrimination, intra-Malay class bias and inefficient allocation of public resources, but it has also come under more and more critical scrutiny from the US and EU, two largest economies of the world, for its protectionism and close market. In short, the NEP and its supporters are truly besieged by a new configuration of internal and external forces for change and reform.
Not many took note when I first blogged February 16 about Thierry Rommel'sperspectives about Malaysia.
In the blog entry, I quoted Rommel, as saying that Malaysia had a very frank and bold presentation at Parti Gerakan's White Coffee Talk series where he had several members of the government among his live audience.
I also said intelligence officers should feedback to their bosses how a certain political party -- I don't have to name it -- has been seen as being racist from the global view.
The centre-piece of the discourse was on the never ending policy of NEP, a product of the late Razak Hussein that identified poverty and wealth by race.
None of the mainstream media in Malaysia had carried this.
Today, the same shebang of mainstream media in Malaysia make Rommel an easy punchbag after DPM Najib opened his mouth to react to a piece of news that, again, they didn't print.
The piece of Rommel opinion about Malaysia, which the DPM claimed to have interfered Malaysia's domestic affairs, was originally dispatched by Associated Press correspondent Eileen Ng, datelined Kuala Lumpur, June 21.
It was a story that journo-blogger Rocky's Bru said even Bernama did not carry.
According to the AP story titled EU Envoy Blasts Malaysia's NEP, Rommel urged the government to roll back its affirmative action policy for majority Malays, saying it is discriminatory and amounts to protectionism against foreign companies.
I wonder the goons have read the original AP story, but one after another have jumped on the Rommel-bashing bandwagon to drown the core issue that the EU raised -- the menace of the NEP from the global perspective.
So far, the foreign affairs minister and the education minister have mechanically uttered their displeasure.
".... The NEP is discriminatory (if Rommel won’t say it, I will, as I have many times before) to many Malaysians.
And I will say this again: If we could have the NEP and at the same time provide the so-called “level playing field” the EU seeks, Rommel would probably not have raised it at all.
Yes, the NEP will set us back in the global economy. I know that, you know that. We don’t need anyone to tell us that. We’ve known it for fucking years.
But why has nothing changed much?
Because unlike Rommel, we are guilty of dereliction of duty. It is our duty as citizens to make this country better.
Too many of us seem to think that if we bitch and moan about it, things will change. In case you haven’t noticed, they have not. And they will not. Bitching and moaning will not get us far.
Too many of us seem to be unwilling to go one step further, that is to punish, at the ballot box, the people who resist our demands.
But if you don’t do that, things will pretty much stay the same. Do we wait until this country is totally fucked and the economy goes down the drain before we act?
Stop looking at others to “save” us, because only we can save ourselves.
So do your duty to your country, to your fellow Malaysians, to your families, and to yourself. Just motherfucking do it. "
"...... After Najib's rebuke, we've now got Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar speaking in Rome that Wisma Putra will summon Thierry Rommel over the EU envoy's NEP slur.
Our ambassador to Brussels Kamal Yan Yahya will meet EU officials to convey Malaysia's stance and after that, Syed Hamid said, Malaysia will then study the possibility of sending a protest note [here].
In KL, Hishamuddin Hussein, the Education Minister, called Rommel arrogant and excessive. He said Rommel overstepped his authority and a protest note should be sent to the EU [here].
The newspapers will now write their columns and editorials lambasting Rommel. Or will they wait for the PM to say something first? Will the MCA and Gerakan leaders also wait?
Rommel criticized the NEP, most of the major dailies and tv stations failed to report it. Was it self-censorship, did they all miss it, or were they told to ignore Rommel?
But when the Deputy Prime Minister reacted to Rommel by telling him not to interfere in Malaysia's domestic policies, they all went to town with it. Was it because it's politically correct or were they told to front-page Najib?
How does such editorial conduct affect Civil Society?
This may be one of the hot issues that will be discussed at the Siri Pemikiran Kritis on "Re-thinking Malaysia" this Wednesday, 27th June 2007, at 8pm.
It's being organised by the Bar Council and the Youth for Change, and the venue is the Bar Council auditorium in Leboh Pasar Besar, KL.Two of the panelists are from All-Blogs: Ms Elizabeth Wong, who is also member of Suaram, and Jeff Ooi the Screenshots blogger.
They'll sandwich the third panelist Paul Low, the secretary general of Transparency International Malaysia.
"....Maybe we shouldn't have interfered with South Africa's apartheid policy then? The same goes for Aung San Suu Kyi and the plight of the Burmese people. Let’s not talk about Zimbabwe, given that Robert Mugabe being such a ‘close friend’ of the Malaysian people.
I used to believe in the racial quota policy while I was in school, probably because the bumiputera kids in my area were not very well-off, just like everyone else in town.
However, there is nothing ‘affirmative’ about handing out multi-million ringgit contracts to multi-millionaire bumi individuals who have close connections to the ruling elite, and who then goes on to deliver a sub-standard product by selling the contract to someone who has to work with tighter margins.
Thierry Rommel, please continue speaking and let the world know of the institutionalised racism and corruption that is being practiced in Malaysia..."
"....I feel really sorry for European Commission ambassador Thierry Rommel and certainly not because he has done anything foul or against international law.
... he spoke honestly and intelligently based on facts, figures and knowledge of countless cases the world over but in a country where politicians cannot accept criticism and are politically fragile when it comes to debating an issue on a level playing field.
He can even be expected to be called all kinds of names and alleged to be an operative of the Zionists and racists, or worse still part of a clandestine group out to topple the Malaysian leadership!
It has sad that our leadership is quick to criticise others and call for radical changes in world bodies but cannot tolerate criticism when we are on the receiving end.
As far as international trade talks are concerned, Rommel was on cue when he advised Malaysia to re-look its pro- bumiputera policies if it is to attract European investors or make headway into the European single market.
.... Rommel was kind enough to offer us frank advice and honestly, it is now left to those who are in positions of power to act responsibly for the benefit of the nation.
The truth is that Europe has nothing to lose but Malaysia has..."
"....The European Commission ambassador Thierry Rommel must have hit some raw nerves when he suggested that the NEP be reviewed as it is discriminatory against the minorities in this country.
... this policy created a society which has depended on ‘crutches’ in getting business and other opportunities from the government.
And who can forget the AP fiasco where it was revealed that a lot of politically-connected Malay individuals - due to their close connections with the International Trade and Industry minister - became car-import kings who could afford to have their personal helicopters take them to their golf game?
Rather than bark at the EU ambassador for his forthright comments on the NEP, it would do the government good if it can admit its mistakes in the implementation of the NEP particularly with concerns to the majority of poor Malays have not benefitted much from this affirmative action policy. ..."
"... I am sure Malaysians will welcome a detailed a point-by-point rebuttal by our leaders of the speech by ambassador Thierry Rommel.
The issues raised by him are serious and warrant an open and objective discussion by all Malaysians, especially by our country’s business leaders and policy-makers whom, I hope, will not be mute on this issue.
But they are certainly not factually disputable as the deputy prime minister and the foreign minister have described them; neither are these concerns new, irrelevant, tangential or irresponsible.
They are the same issues that are being raised by concerned Malaysians all the time over the freer web media and in closed-door business meetings.
To continue to be in a state of denial over these issues will only compound the pain and dislocation when these concerns are finally addressed.
It is noticeable that it is Umno leaders who have spoken out so far. Other Barisan Nasional leaders need to find their voices on this important issue which is not going to go away any times soon.
Finally, Rommel deserves a vote of thanks from Malaysians for his warning on how Malaysia is marginalising itself though archaic racial protectionist policies and the consequences on our competitive edge..."
"....For too long has our government been getting away practically unnoticed, unremarked and unchastised for relentlessly pursuing a course of ruthless apartheid, in the form of the NEP.
By right, Malaysia should have long ago been classified as a pariah nation joining the ranks of other evildoers of the 20th century.
But our government was lucky. Small inconsequential countries like ours usually escape the oversight of powerful nations.
As long as we kept our peace, regularly took part in international conferences and our leaders paid friendly visits to western capitals, no one was really too concerned or cared about what was going on in this developing 'Muslim' country.
Then suddenly out of the blue appeared this one-man Panzer-Division packing the wallop of an Arsenal striker, who momentarily sent our pemimpin2 into a state of dazed disbelief.
Thierry Rommel had arrived. And hopefully here to stay.
The white Messiah, with balls as big as Mercedes hubcaps, grabbed the racist bull by the horns, stripped it of its layers of legal protection (sedition) and laid it bare for the whole world to see and cringe in horror.
For right there in the backyard of democratic nations, was this tiny anomaly called Malaysia where abominable racist practices and abuses of human rights, were even now taking place with glee, pride and a measure of gay abandon.
I say honour this man's courage.
In fact our foreign minister has threatened to summon him over his 'irresponsible' remarks on the NEP.
Of course that is just another government sandiwara for local consumption, as they fully well know that there is precious little they can do to him or make him retract his perfectly accurate findings.
Not to be left behind was the notorious keris-waving Umno youth chief, Hishamuddin who accused Rommel of arrogance and attempted to justify the continuation of the NEP with the same old lame, tame, untenable excuse - "our historical and development background."
The British should give this chap an honorary knighthood or two. Her Majesty can rest assured that no other country or people will protest the award.
No Arab or other Islamic nation will come out against the honour, for they too, like the rest of the civilized world, have a great aversion for mistreating and discriminating fellow human beings.
"...Najib the DPM should realise that Malaysia with its Malay hegemony should stop hoodwinking the world and must now dismantle its racist policies against the non-Malays which has been in existence for the last 37 years.
Calling for a level playing field is restoration of human rights for the non-Malays. When Tun Dr Mahathir, the ex-premier, attended a Commonwealth conference, he referred to South Africa as a 'pariah state' for the apartheid policy practised against the blacks in that country.
Now who is the pariah state?
Isn't it obvious that Malaysia discriminates in all fields against the citizens of the country who are non-Malays.
Najib, shame on you for getting that sensitive when the truth is spoken by the EC ambassador to Malaysia. .."
"....Your Excellency, Ambassador of the European Commission,
As an ex-Malaysian, may I extend our thanks to you for plainly telling the facts to the Malaysian government. The NEP is the greatest impediment to progress in the country- the quicker it gets reviewed, the better it is for 99 percent of Malaysians.
By helping to reform the NEP, Your Excellency will also enhance the human rights of all Malaysians including the Orang Asli of Peninisular Malaysia, as well as the Ibans, Kadazans, Penans, etc of East Malaysia.
Ideally, you will be able to help make your approach an EU official policy that will remind the world constantly of the real nature of the Malaysian government..."
"... The world at large appears to have been oblivious to the ills brought about by the ruthless manner in which the NEP has been implemented all these years to the detriment of not only non-Malays but also a large number of Malays in the lower segment of Malaysian society.
The European Commission has SUDDENLY seen the ‘EVIL’ of the NEP, and ambassador Thierry Rommel criticised the NEP.
Where has the EC been ALL these years?
Were they blind, deaf or illiterate and hence could not see, hear or read about the NEP all these years?
The sudden awareness is perhaps due to the fact that the NEP is thwarting EC's commercial interests in Malaysia, as revealed in the ambassador's statement: ‘In a dominant part of the domestic economy, there is no level playing field for foreign companies.’
As in the case of VW's bid for Proton, the NEP is an obstacle in EC corporations' strategic plans to exploit Malaysia, hence the criticism against the NEP.
Let us NOT be deceived that the recent European objection to the NEP is borne out civic consciousness and concerns about human rights, democracy and ethics in Malaysia."
The AP writer was Eileen Ng a Chinese with an axe to grind against the Malays. Thus it is not strsnge that she added her own views wchich were later denied by Herr Rommel. Surprised? Only this time it has backfired. The Malays are tired watching Robert Kuok with his sugar monopoly getting richer and richer. Ananda Krishanan with his Astro monopoly and celluar tripoly getting richer while they are expected to share 30 % among 70% of them. Fuck the NEP! It is time to take off the gloves and call a stop to this injustice. While the Government hounded poor families to pay their measly PTPTN loans for their children education Robert and Kuok become obscenely richer!It is not surprising the Malays have nothing to lose despite the country tremendous growth..such is the wealth in balance.
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