The Edge Daily, Kuala Lumpur, 8 July 2005
Malaysia should improve IPR protection, says US
By Tamimi Omar
The protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) has been identified as being one of the main concerns for US investors to come into Malaysia, said the United States ambassador to Malaysia, Christopher J LaFleur.
He said a survey conducted last year of senior executives of global 1,000 firms found that 28% considered IPR protection an important factor in considering where to make new investments.
“That’s 28% of potential investors who probably will think twice before putting money in Malaysia or seeking new business partnerships here,” LaFleur said in his speech at the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) seminar in Kuala Lumpur on July 7 on “enhancing US-Malaysia business”.
He said if Malaysia wanted to convince potential partners that it was in control of commercial crime, it had to put a stop to the very visible problem of IPR piracy.
“If your employees are out buying pirated DVDs on their lunch hour, can you trust them with confidential business information when they return to work?” LaFleur asked.
He said there was new determination on the part of the Malaysian government to protect the intellectual property as it recognised that a country could build a knowledge-based economy if it could not protect valuable knowledge.
LaFleur said it was in the United State’s own interest to help the Malaysian government address this problem.
“To get the ball rolling, I have discussed with the US government officials and private sector representatives - and proposed to senior Malaysian officials - the concept of the IPR roundtable,” he said.
He said another way that Malaysia could attract investments was to correct government regulations and practices that create uncertainty or increase the cost of doing business in Malaysia.
“One example of this is the proliferation of hologram stickers on an increasing range of products. Holograms have not stopped optical disc piracy, but new regulations will require legitimate firms to apply them to other retail products.
“Moreover, the contracts to produce the hologram have been awarded without public tender to a sole source provider. This cannot help but raise eyebrows,” he said.
He said correcting this situation, instituting transparent rules and implementation, would help both Malaysia’s domestic economic efficiency and its international competitiveness.
LaFleur said: “Public service delivery is a real challenge in Malaysia, even though there are government agencies that are proactive and open to regular dialogue with their clients, including their foreign clients but I hear that some other agencies are not as responsive.”
He said that it was significant that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had made improving public service one of his priorities and if he were successful in his efforts, it would have a transforming effect on Malaysia’s economy, including its ability to attract and retain foreign trade and investment.
On bilateral trade between Malaysia and the US, LaFleur said the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in May last year was in a deeper dialogue between the two countries.
Both parties would meet again in October this year, to further discuss issues concerning both countries, however, negotiations had yet to begin, he said.