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PM's Speech at the Official Opening of 1MDB Corporate Office
YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud,Chief Minister of Sarawak
Normally, it is polite to start my speech by thanking the organisers for inviting me to their functions. But today, I am happen to be the host in my capacity as Chairman of the Board of Advisors of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”). So I’ll have to take on a different stance.
On behalf of 1MDB, I welcome you to our corporate head office. And like many of you, this is also my first time here, physically. As Chairman of the Board of Advisors, I have a small office here, much smaller compared with my office in Putrajaya. But small though it may be, it is big in significance, in that it reflects our seriousness in making 1MDB a success, and my personal determination to see it grow and prosper for the benefit of all Malaysians. A physical office for the Chairman of the Board of Advisors, who happens to be the Prime Minister of the day, symbolises the important role 1MDB plays in driving strategic initiatives to spur new growths and further enhance Malaysia’s attractiveness as the place to do business. Indeed, these stated objectives are a tall order for any corporation, but I am sure that 1MDB can deliver on their goals with the full assistance, cooperation and support of the Government.
I am happy to note there exists a clear understanding from all government agencies that ultimately, a successful 1MDB will reflect positively on the government, which is the sole shareholder, and contribute towards the well being of all Malaysians.
I see this in the admirable zeal of government officers in relevant agencies, especially the Ministry of Finance, in their efforts to effect the transformation of 1MDB as a strategic development company wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia. I wish to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and thanks to the Secretary-General of Treasury of Malaysia, YBhg Tan Sri Dr. Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah, and his team of senior officers for their crucial role in firmly establishing 1MDB within a short period. I trust they will continue to extend their guidance, wisdom and cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is also a pioneer team of professionals at the board level who had worked very hard to build a strong foundation upon which this strategic development company will spearhead new growths for the national economy. These are professionals with heavy responsibilities as CEOs of government corporations. I had tapped them for their expertise and experience to value add in the early formation of 1MDB. And they agreed to serve with an understanding that they can always resume full focus on their respective companies, albeit progressively, later. I must say I am impressed with their efforts, their contributions and their sacrifices. Allow me to, therefore, express my gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to YBhg Tan Sri Dato' Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, YBhg Tan Sri Datuk Azlan Zainol, YBhg Dato’ Mohd Bakke Salleh and YBhg Datuk Ismee Ismail.
In particular, I would like to thank Tan Sri Datuk Azlan and Dato’ Mohd Bakke for their services rendered as they now return to their core roles in running the Employees Provident Fund and Felda Holdings Berhad respectively. I welcome on board two new members to the Board of Directors of 1MDB. They are Dato’ Ong Gim Huat and Mr. Ashvin Valiram. Dato’ Ong brings with him a passion for long term investments in human capital of the country, having served on the boards of many educational institutions. Mr Ashvin’s entrepreneurial zeal while expanding the Valiram group will fit perfectly the goals and aspirations of 1MDB.
1MDB is extremely fortunate to have an immense wealth of international experience to tap. We have on the Board of Advisors, renowned corporate leaders like His Excellency Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company, and Mr Bernard Arnault, Chairman & CEO, LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Group. I am confident the guidance they provide and the expertise they are willing to share with Malaysia will go a long way to benefit our people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For 1MDB to achieve its goals, the team needs to be innovative and they need to constantly think outside the box. But thinking outside the box is never enough as there has to be execution to translate creativity and innovation into action. It is, therefore, imperative for the team to be able find new ways outside the box to ensure that their executable action will produce results to make good our promise – People First, Performance Now. The norms will not do. As I have often said, these are times of “businesss NOT as usual”. To the 1MDB team, my advice to you is that you must be bold and daring to be innovative, to break new ground and to do things differently. I have no doubts that all this, together with your passion for efficiency and speed, will help ensure a full delivery of your promises and intent.
This in the essence is what the new economic model is all about – innovation, creativity and high value towards further enhancing national competitiveness. I am touched by the support we receive from all quarters, in particular their open mindedness, as we push 1MDB into the frontline of the new economic model to propel the principles of equality, merit and innovation.
Indeed, the crux of the new economic model, which I will unveil soon, is our ability to change our mindset. We need to learn to do things differently to prepare ourselves for the new dynamics shaping global demands for ideas, talent and high value creation. If we don’t, I fear Malaysia will be left behind in this rapidly changing world.
It is towards this new mindset that 1MDB embodies the 1Malaysia principles of acceptance, equality and sharing in our efforts to include and unlock the potential of our young people who will be the next generation of leaders, businesspeople, engineers, scientists, teachers and doctors. As I have promised when I took office, we must give them wings to fly. To achieve this, we must reshape our mindset to draw on talented people across our nation, regardless of their position or background, to re-energise our passion to make a difference for Malaysia. In this regard, I am delighted to see many young Malaysians returning from abroad to serve the country through 1MDB.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In today’s highly competitive global economy every nation is striving to stay ahead or at least stay in the competition. The race to offer the best of incentives and everything else needed to attract investors is endless as nations rapidly try to outdo one another. I would say that the sum of all physical incentives such as tax cuts, good location, logistics support, suitable manpower and political stability will not be enough to produce the added advantage. In these days, trust and integrity is paramount. And trust is earned when individuals working together develop a clear understanding of each other’s role, confident that everyone will deliver as promised without any hidden agenda. I believe 1MDB has built enough trust among its global networking to give it the added advantage in forging strong partnerships that can bring home foreign investment.
It is in this spirit that we are on a journey together to aggressively attract investors from the Middle East and Asia, especially China. Following my recent trip to the Middle East, a company from Saudi Arabia has entered into a USD2.5 billion partnership with 1MDB.
When I visited China in June last year to renew our commitments to friendship and economic ties between China and Malaysia, there was an expression of interest by the Chinese in possible ventures in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (“SCORE”). This interest was crystalised when the Chinese President, His Excellency Hu Jintao, visited Malaysia in November last year. Within a very short period, 1MDB and China’s state-owned State Grid Corporation of China (“SGCC”), which is China’s leading power transmission and distribution company, will be collaborating to identify, plan and execute a number of multi billion ringgit joint projects in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy. I understand that these projects will have a total potential value of USD 11 billion. I will be witnessing the signing of a Cooperation Framework Agreement between the two companies. Indeed, I am impressed with the speed at which 1MDB and the State Grid Corporation of China reached the agreement.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
In today’s highly competitive global economy, we cannot ignore the importance of expediency as a decisive factor. It is imperative that these proposed projects are attended to with the utmost sense of urgency by our relevant agencies. I see in this cooperation the beginning of a win-win partnership towards the development of catalytic projects in SCORE that will benefit the two companies as well as stimulate long-term economic growth in Sarawak and Malaysia. The entry of SGCC and its significant investment in SCORE will be an added boost to economic ties between China and Malaysia. It will pave the way for more substantial investments from China and globally into Malaysia. I believe SGCC’s confidence in Sarawak will inspire even more confidence in Malaysia as the preferred investment destination among global investors.
I understand SGCC is ranked 15th in the 2009 Fortune’s Global 500, with sales revenue in excess of US$160 billion. It has 1.5 million employees and 145 million customers, serving over 1 billion people. That in itself speaks volumes for this future partnership.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, for his efforts in making this partnership between Malaysia and China possible. SCORE represents the new economic model for Sarawak to transform its economy into an economy of a high-value and high-income, which is in line with the national development agenda. The Federal Government is committed to work with the Sarawak State Government towards the success of SCORE. We want every state in Malaysia to develop and progress in tandem as we pursue the new economic model to push the nation towards developed status.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am mindful that corporations should not neglect their social responsibility in their quest for growth and profits. Today, I am proud to announce the establishment of Yayasan 1MDB to manage a RM100 million CSR fund to begin with. As the chairman of the foundation’s Board of Trustees, I am pleased to inform that Yayasan 1MDB will soon launch several key initiatives in bridging socio-economic gaps towards fulfilling the Aspirational Values of 1Malaysia. These key initiatives will, among others, promote equal opportunity to education and quality of life for all Malaysians and hopefully over time, they will contribute significantly to the strengthening of Malaysia’s rich tapestry of social cohesion.
Ladies and Gentlemen. Before I end my speech, I would like to share with you my personal hope, which is the hope that this momentous occasion does not merely mark the official opening of the new corporate head office of 1MDB but far more than that, I hope that it could also signify the opening of minds to new ideas, and approaches based on performance, creativity and innovation that we must embrace, in order to successfully confront the many challenges that lie before us as a nation. With this new outlook, and together with determination, fortitude and courage, I truly believe that we can take Malaysia to far greater heights than we ever thought possible.
On that note, Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure now to declare the corporate head office of 1Malaysia Development Berhad officially open. Thank you.