'Tok Pa' Tireless In Promoting Malaysia

By Massita Ahmad

Bernama’s correspondent in Singapore, Massita Ahmad, shared her experiences of life in the Republic.

This is her observations during the two-day working visit by the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed to Singapore.

SINGAPORE (Bernama) — Fifteen years as an Economic Desk reporter at Bernama gave me a number of opportunities to cover the Trade and Investment Mission organised by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) overseas.

During that period, I was able to provide news coverage for the missions led by two formidable ministers, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

I personally believe that both ministers has worked hard at promoting Malaysia in the bid to attract foreign investments.

Not only did they have every investor-friendly policy at their fingertips, they also had knowledge of the offers investors get from competing countries.


I have found that both ministers used a similar approach in the matter: they did not put down competing countries. Instead, they provided room for investors to use Malaysia as an entryway into those countries.

I was recently accorded the chance to cover Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed’s two-day working visit to Singapore, starting March 15.

He was accompanied by the CEO of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority Datuk Azman Mahmud, the ASEAN Economic Cooperation Division Senior Director P. Ravindran and the MATRADE Strategic Planning Division Senior Director Wan Latiff Wan Musa.

The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) is a promotion agency under MITI.

Singapore is Malaysia’s second largest trade partner after China and it is also Malaysia’s main export market.

Previous experiences taught me to be physically and mentally prepared for the coming days because I knew it was going to be long.

I still remember a past experience with this tireless minister while on a trade and investment mission to Europe in 2009.

“The government gave us the funding so that we could promote the country, not go on a holiday,” Mustapa had reminded delegates on the 10-day mission to the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany.


He had a tight schedule, as usual. Soon after arriving at the Changi International Airport at around 5pm on March 15, he headed for a meeting with Malaysian bank representatives in the republic.

After the meeting concluded, he quickly made his way to the Malaysian High Commission Complex at Jervois Road. There, delegates from 30 Malaysian companies were already waiting for him. They would be joining him on his work visit.

The meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, saw him discussing the latest economic developments in Malaysia and globally. He also opened himself up to questions afterwards.

It was a casual session without protocols. Mustapa did not confine himself to behind rostrum but walked around to interact with guests.


The session ended at around 11pm and I was driven to the nearest MRT session using MATRADE’s vehicle.

From a conversation with two MATRADE officers in the vehicle with me, I gathered that Mustapa would be starting the following day as early as 7.30am.

Many meetings had been arranged for the 67-year-old minister, fondly known as ‘Tok Pa’.

The first meeting was with the management of Fuji Oil Asia Pte Ltd and the Volkswagen Group before meeting up with the Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, Lim Hng Kiang.

Mustapa also held separate dialogue sessions with five international business groups in Singapore.

They are the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Singapore, the Singapore Business Federation Council Members, the Trade Association and Chambers in Singapore, the EU-ASEAN Business Council and European Chamber of Commerce Singapore, US-ASEAN Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce Singapore.

I was given an interview slot with him and was asked to be ready by 6.00 pm.

I waited outside a room where he was having a roundtable discussion with a Singaporean think tank. It was nearly 6.45pm before the he emerged from the room, marking the end of his last session.

“Where is Bernama?,” I heard him call out.

“How long have you been here (in Singapore)?” he asked.

I told him it was my third month here.

“Good,” he said, before proceeding with a summary of his entire visit.

He then excused himself as he needed to perform his Maghrib prayers before heading off to the airport for his 9.15pm flight.


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