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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Southeast Asian labyrinth : restrictive foreign investment regulatory policies of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore from 1970 to 1980 Yee, Ernest


This thesis examines the levels of restrictive foreign investment regulatory policies of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore from 1970 to 1980. The study seeks to explain why their policies varied. It presents a descriptive comparison of each country's policies restricting foreign investment. This discussion deals with general quantitative limits on foreign ownership, restrictions on certain economic sectors, restrictions on the operations of foreign-owned corporations, and the use of government-owned corporations as instruments of control over foreign investment. Based on the comparison, the study concludes that Malaysia placed greater restrictions on foreign investment than Thailand or Singapore. It is argued that differences in the domestic political and economic settings of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore explain Malaysia's greater restrictiveness. The thesis examines each state's past experience with a colonial power, economic strategies of the political elites, domestic political pressures, and the presence of ethnic minorities. It also looks at such contributing factors as the size of the natural resource sector, the prevalence of industries with old technology, and the level of foreign ownership of industry in each country. This thesis concludes that Malaysia placed more restrictions than Thailand or Singapore because it had a very different domestic setting: an economically-dominant ethnic minority, domestic pressure for restrictions, and a nationalistic and interventionist economic strategy. Taken together, these differences explain Malaysia's greater restrictions on foreign investment. Of the explanatory variables, ethnic factors are the most important.

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