Malaysia has what it takes to attract MNC investments: GE Malaysia CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has all the key ingredients to attract multinational companies (MNCs) to invest here but more could be done in terms of providing skilled labour, said General Electric (GE) Malaysia CEO Datuk Mark Rozario (pix).

“Talent, particularly new graduates, that’s probably one area that could improve but that’s not unique to Malaysia. If you think about university education, what’s lacking are things like critical thinking. The kind of skills that are required by industries are normally never fulfilled by just doing a university course.

“But the government is doing a lot in that area as well, they’ve got things like TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), vocational training, internships; so continue doing that. The other thing that probably needs to be done is for the country to move away from the reliance of cheap labour, which the government is also doing,” he told SunBiz in an interview.

Rozario was one of the speakers at the recent 2018 APCAC Business Summit, which was hosted by the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce. Themed “Charting a Bold Future: US Businesses in the Asian Century”, the event shed light on US investments in Malaysia and the region.

For GE, which has been here since 1975, the environment in Malaysia is very conducive and all its key businesses, namely, aviation, power, oil and gas and healthcare, are present here today.

“We have invested in things like iCentre (monitoring and diagnostics centre) that we described just now, which is the only one in Asia Pacific for GE; one for the oil and gas industry and the other for power. The one for oil and gas is a global centre and is one of three centres, with the other two in Florence, Italy, and Houston, US. The centres operate in eight-hour shifts,” said Rozario.

He said the reason iCentre is sited in Malaysia is because of the infrastructure that is available here, such as broadband with good coverage and skilled labour, while cost of talent is competitive compared with the rest of the region.

“When you talk about Industry 4.0, one of the first jobs that would go are those semi-skilled jobs. Here in GE, we don’t have any requirement for unskilled labour. All our employees here have to be quite highly skilled.”

According to him, GE’s aircraft engine workshop in Subang employs 300 staff, all of whom are Malaysians. He said the facility, which is a global business servicing more than 40 airlines, used to have expatriate staff but with the transfer of technology and skills over the years, it now has 100% Malaysian staff.

The facility overhauls jet engines and is the only facility outside the US with the capability for GE’s latest LEAP jet engines, which is for the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX.

“Again, why is it sited here? Because we have the infrastructure, the logistics ability for the engines to be sent here by cargo. The engines are taken off the aircraft and flown over to the workshop. We have the logistics, we have the availability of talent. I think the environment here is very conducive for multinationals to have their operations here,” he added.

GE’s main businesses in Malaysia are aviation, power, oil and gas, and healthcare.