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Oleh / By :DATO' SRI MOHD NAJIB TUN ABD RAZAK
Tempat / Venue :KUALA LUMPUR CONVENTION CENTER
Tarikh / Date. :21-03-2007
Tajuk / Title :GALA DINNER TO COMMEMORATE THE 21ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE PRIVATISATION OF NORTHPORT


Bismillahirrahmanirrahim

YB. Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy,
Menteri Pengangkutan

YB Timbalan-Timbalan Menteri

YBhg. Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji bin Abdul Hamid
Pengerusi, NCB Holdings Bhd iaitu syarikat induk bagi Northport,

Ketua-ketua Jabatan dan agensi Kerajaan

Ketua-ketua organisasi perniagaan

Anggota dan bekas anggota perkhidmatan awam

Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan yang dihormati sekalian.

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh dan selamat sejahtera.

1. Terlebih dahulu Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk merakamkan penghargaan saya kepada YBhg. Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji serta anggota Lembaga Pengarah NCB Holdings kerana telah mengundang saya untuk hadir ke majlis pada malam ini. Saya berbesar hati kerana diberi kesempatan menyertai acara yang mempunyai kaitan langsung dengan kejayaan satu dasar negara yang amat penting iaitu dasar penswastaan dalam sektor pelabuhan.

2. Pada kesempatan ini saya ingin mengucapkan syabas dan tahniah kepada Kumpulan NCB Holdings Bhd, serta pemilik utamanya PNB, sempena 21 tahun kejayaan anak syarikat mereka iaitu Northport (Malaysia) Bhd, mempelopori serta melaksanakan dengan jayanya proses transformasi daripada sebuah badan milik kerajaan kepada organisasi pembekal perkhidmatan yang bersifat komersial melalui dasar penswastaan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

3. I am most delighted to be here with all of you this evening. This gathering today, as I’ve been made to understand, is indeed momentous in that it coincides with the completion of the first period of lease of the container terminal facilities in Port Klang that was granted to Klang Container Terminal Bhd in March of 1986. The event is significant as it also symbolizes the successful achievement of the objectives of the Government’s first-ever privatization programme in the port sector. I believe Northport (Malaysia) Bhd (which is the new name for Klang Container Terminal), and all parties that began shouldering this role of trust 21 years ago richly deserve to be congratulated for their landmark success.

4. It is a fact that the entire Malaysian port system has today been fully privatized. However, Northport got on to this path of change at a time when privatization was extremely new in the country and in the region. It was an experimental step that has been successfully followed through and I believe the entire nation readily recognizes this achievement in history. We have come a long way since those early days and to Northport I say “Syabas” and to every one who had a hand in making this success possible, I congratulate all of you, for indeed you have made the country proud.

Ladies and gentlemen,

5. After independence, it was naturally the imperative of the government to spearhead efforts to drive economic growth and put in place the necessary institutions that would bring in revenue that is much needed by a new-born nation. As the years went by however, it was necessary and pragmatic for the government to scale back its involvement in business and concentrate on what governments do best, which is to govern and maintain law and order. Malaysia moved towards privatization in the early eighties because it was the best course to take, to remove the financial burden on the government, to create a better business environment and to make Malaysia generally more competitive.

6. I believe tonight is a good occasion for us to reflect on the 2 key pillars of the Government’s privatization policy. The first, relates to the intrinsic characteristics of Malaysia’s national economy and the constant emphasis on international trade and investment. It was clear right from the beginning that Malaysia had the capacity to support an economy that is directly linked to global markets, along with the capability of attracting investors to engage in hi-tech and high quality manufacturing.

7. In other words we had an advantageous position that could attract investments because of the presence of numerous factors including natural resources, raw materials, low-cost and high-skilled labour, designated economic zones, conducive tax structures and business friendly regulatory policies, to name a few. These factors and the governments’ strong push to industrialize at the right time, gave Malaysia the head start in the race for development. To make the most of these intrinsic virtues of Malaysia’s economy, a new approach had to be taken, so that investors would not be put off by the manifest drawbacks of dealing with nationalized corporations, then infamous for they’re endless bureaucracy and inefficiency.

8. The second pillar is the common interest and shared responsibility between the public and private sectors of the country to push for sustained economic growth. Public-private sector partnership was a critical success factor for Malaysia and such partnerships characteristically flourish in an environment where there is a high degree of mutual trust; a potent combination of administrative and regulatory guidance and enforcement by the government and bold new ventures by businesses and entrepreneurs.
9. This climate of willing collaboration, in my view, set the stage for an increased role for private enterprise to drive Malaysia’s growth and competitiveness. This was also the environment that led private enterprise to contribute more in terms of the delivery of crucial services that had traditionally been the domain of state agencies and institutions.

10. In the beginning, resistance came from unions and workers who were uncertain and fearful of being released from the security of government employment. Many of those who opposed the privatization policy, did so because of a lack of understanding of the overall positive effect that successful privatization would bring. In the long run however, our move to privatize brought about numerous direct and indirect benefits to corporations and ultimately to the employees.

11. The end result is that we were able to transform many of the lumbering, inefficient nationalized entities with low productivity and poor performance to become strong and resilient corporations that are able to compete in a borderless environment and withstand the vagaries of the global economy. Employees benefit from such companies by way of better remuneration and perquisites and the government benefits largely from increased tax revenues.

12. Looking back, it can now be said that privatization was an inevitability given the way the world evolved. Malaysia was fortuitous to have moved in that direction very early on and indeed our decision to privatize is an integral part of Malaysia’s economic success story. Having said that however, it is important to remember, that while the government’s move to privatize meant relinquishing direct control over formerly nationalized entities, the government still maintained and continues to maintain its responsibility not only to facilitate business for those corporations by creating suitable policies and engendering the most conducive business environment possible, but also to prioritize the protection of national interests.

13. This has been our way, and I believe it will continue to be our way as we move forward in building this nation. At any rate, we have achieved significant success in the way we have embraced privatization over the years and Northport is a case in point. 21 years after privatization, Northport is a sterling example of the benefits of the governments move to privatize.

14. Today, as I understand it, it is the nation’s largest operator of a multi-purpose port, handling over 60% of the nation’s trade in the form of 2.6 million TEUs and 8000 ship calls in a year. An additional RM 500 million expansion is also being planned to further expand and improve its container handling facility. All of these achievements make it abundantly clear that we made the right decision to privatize more than two decades ago and today we are reaping the fruits of that astuteness and good judgment. One sometimes cannot help but wonder if such achievements would have been possible if privatization had not taken place.

Ladies and gentlemen,

15. It is not my intention to discuss at length the merits and demerits of privatization here, as this dinner is more of a celebration than anything else. But as with any anniversary, it is a good time to reflect on the past and on the journey we have taken so far. I believe we’ve done well, and there is definitely a cause for celebration. But the road ahead is still long and winding. The challenges of competition; of an uncertain global economy and of possible conflicts around the world loom large ahead of us and we must be prepared to face them.

16. I believe the management of Northport is well aware of these challenges and are ever vigilant of developments around the world that may impact us directly or indirectly. I hope every measure will be taken to strengthen Northport both as a company and a primary gateway of Malaysia’s trade. I am confident that given all that Northport has achieved so far, it would be a matter of course to continue with this success streak for many years to come.

Ladies and gentlemen,

17. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate every single member of the Northport family for playing their respective roles in making Northport the leading port in the country and a success story for others to emulate. To those long-serving employees in particular, I commend you on your loyalty and commitment to your organization and I hope that you will continue to serve to the best of your abilities.

18. The greatest reward for today’s success is the certainty that you’ve laid the foundation for greater success tomorrow. All of you, from the top management to the junior employee, have accomplished this by contributing to the excellence of Northport in your own way. I congratulate you once again and. I wish you all the very best.

Thank you.