Back in 1981, I was part of a team evaluating the setting up of an offshore manufacturing facility to support our then UK parent company with a low-cost manufacturing base for automotive electrical and electronic products. Lucas, at that time, chose Malaysia due to its stable political and financial reputation, coupled with the government's liberal foreign equity policies and tax incentives, and a well-educated workforce that was willing to learn. Another very important factor was the well-serviced sea and air links to enable just-in-time delivery to our European customers.
The decision made, our first building was completed in 26 weeks and within budget. The supporting infrastructure back in 1982, especially in precision plastic mouldings and metal stampings, was such that we had to pursue aggressive supplier development programmes to help local SMIs achieve international expectations in quality, cost and delivery. Investors today enjoy the efforts of pioneer companies like Lucas who have helped develop the local supply chain to world-class manufacturing standards.
The conducive business environment has continued to improve year on year since those early days, with Lucas investing and expanding in new buildings again in 1988 and cumulating in our local R&D facilities being constructed late 1998. This will enable us to be more self-sufficient in terms of research, design, development and testing of new products into the next millennium.
On a personal note, having spent 20 years in this country, I can thoroughly attest to the excellent quality of life in Malaysia.