KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Sarawak is losing out on investment opportunities due to the government's lack of urgency, says the head of one of the state's largest public-listed companies.
Datuk Richard Curtis, group managing director at Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad (CMS), said he was "embarrassed" and "depressed" over the state of affairs, although he later added that the government had made significant progress and it just needed to "fill in the gaps".
"In Sarawak, the government is too slow," he said at a forum on the Economic Transformation Programme here organised by global accounting and advisory firm Ernst & Young. "We need to drive this home."
He pointed out the lack of supporting infrastructure such as roads, ports and townships for the Samalaju Industrial Park as an example.
"The government's catalytic role still has not happened," he said. "There is still no decision on a port. You can't have smelters without a port."
He also said that part of the problem was due to federal and state interactions.
"I am embarrassed, we should be embarrassed," he said.
He also said that the government should not call for tenders unless it was serious and had the budget for it.
"If you don't have the money, don't get us to waste our time," he said to much applause from the floor. "It's deeply depressing."
He also said that more flexible labour laws were needed as well as faster processing of land matters.
"We're not asking for privileges," he said. "Do it for everyone."
Curtis also touched on the Malaysian work ethic, saying that it needed to be changed for better productivity.
"We need people who want to work and need to create that culture in the education system," he said.