Malaysian PM Mahathir meets Alibaba founder Jack Ma in Putrajaya

Alibaba founder and chief executive officer Jack Ma (right) with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at his office in Putrajaya, on June 18, 2018.
Alibaba founder and chief executive officer Jack Ma (right) with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at his office in Putrajaya, on June 18, 2018.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad greeted Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of online retail giant Alibaba, at his office in Putrajaya on Monday (June 18).

National news agency Bernama released a short video clip of their meeting on Monday morning, which took place behind closed doors.

Mr Ma, who had advised the previous Barisan Nasional government led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the digital economy, was likely to have discussed the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) project in Sepang, Selangor, during his meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir.

The DFTZ, which was launched under the previous administration, is a regional logistics hub set up by the Alibaba Group and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation. The project is expected to double the goods exported by small and medium-sized enterprises, create 60,000 jobs locally and facilitate US$65 billion (S$88 billion) worth of traded goods by 2025.

"We had a good exchange of ideas on a wide range of subjects ," said Dr Mahathir  on Twitter, after the meeting.

The meeting comes as the government has pledged to review several big-ticket Beijing-backed projects initiated by Mr Najib as it seeks to tackle its RM1 trillion (S$338 billion) national debt. Dr Mahathir, however, has said the DFTZ project would continue.

“I am surprised by his knowledge about technology,” Mr Ma told Bernama, after the meeting .

He said that during the one-hour meeting,  they shared a lot of ideas and discussed how to lift more Malaysians out of poverty and support more young people and small businesses.

“It was a very good meeting,” said the Chinese tycoon whose net worth is estimated at US$43.1 billion (S$58.1 billion).

 

He is in Kuala Lumpur to launch Alibaba's office in Bangsar South later today.

According to The Star, Mr Ma was believed to have met Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng over an informal dinner on Sunday. Both Mr Lim and and Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo are expected to attend the launch event.