PUTRAJAYA: False negative perceptions on Malaysia almost cost the country a RM31 billion investment from Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today disclosed that Saudi Arabia was initially reluctant to invest in Malaysia due to the false perception that the country is deemed a high political risk.
"Some unpatriotic people had spread claims that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) was almost bankrupt and that the government was unable to pay the salaries of its civil servants.
"The Saudi Arabian government had received this wrong information about our country and thus, were quite doubtful about investing in Malaysia.
"We had to meet them and correct the facts that Malaysia is among the best countries in the world (to invest in). When they were convinced, they finally agreed to invest with us," Najib said at the Ekspresi Negaraku launch at Dataran Putrajaya, here today.
The Ekspresi Negaraku event serves as the first platform to mobilise the Negaraku initiative nationwide to spur Malaysians to show their spirit of patriotism and love for the country.
Meanwhile, speaking on the Saudi investment, Najib said it would open more job opportunities for the younger generation.
He said Malaysia almost lost out on the investment due to the acts of certain unscrupulous individuals.
"These individuals are heartless people who were politically motivated to topple Malaysia. In the end, it is the rakyat who end up as the victims," he said.
Najib also related this to a statement by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had claimed that Malaysia is one of the 10 most corrupted countries in the world.
"The corruption index showed that Malaysia is at 55th place out of 160 countries. We are not as bad as what some have claimed.
"We can accept criticism but not attempts to topple the government. We believe there is still room for improvement for Malaysia," he said.
Saudi Aramco recently agreed to invest RM31 billion for a 50 per cent stake in Petroliam Nasional Bhd's Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project.
Under the agreement, Saudi Aramco will be supplying up to 70 per cent of the crude feedstock requirements of the refinery. Petronas, on the other hand, will supply natural gas, power and other utilities.
Both parties will hold equal ownership in selected ventures and assets of the Rapid project within Pengerang Integrated Complex.
The share purchase agreement was signed on Feb 28 during a state visit by Saudi ruler King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud.