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2010-01-11

China pump a massive US$11 billion (RM37.4 billion) into Sarawak.

Government officials told The Malaysian Insider that the foreign direct investment by the State Grid Corporation of China will be spread over a few years and will involve developing the energy and manufacturing sectors in the Sarawak economic corridor.

The investment is likely to be announced at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between SGCC and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) today.

The signing ceremony will be witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud.

It is unclear if details of the FDI will be unveiled today. But earlier news reports suggested that the SGCC will provide technical expertise and capital, while 1MDB will be responsible for dealing with the regulatory procedures to facilitate the investment.

The Sarawak economic corridor was one of the growth corridors launched by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Like the Northern Corridor Economic Region and the Sabah Development Corridor, the Sarawak corridor has not progressed much due to lack of government funds and foreign investments.

The Najib administration has targeted cash-rich China as a source of much needed FDI for Malaysia.

During Hu Jin Tao’s visit to Kuala Lumpur in November last year, Najib. communicated the government’s desire for more involvement from China to develop infrastructure in Malaysia.

This courting of Beijing has been made necessary by two facts: Malaysia’s growing budget deficit impairs the government’s ability to fund development projects and the inability of Malaysia to compete with the likes of India, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Singapore for foreign investments.

This investment by SGCC will be the single largest inflow of funds into the country in recent years and will give an administration which has been clobbered with numbing news of missing jet engines and unprecedented arson attacks on churches an opportunity for some positive headlines.

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