RM7.34b for SMEs this year

Posted on : 23-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA― The government is committed to develop the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with an allocation of RM7.34 billion to implement 152 SME programmes this year.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the government was also committed to ensure that the implementation of High-Impact Programme under the SME Masterplan 2012-2020 would be implemented smoothly.

“This is one of the government’s efforts to ensure that the SMEs contribute between five and 5.5 per cent to the gross domestic product this year,” he said when launching Portal MalaysiaBiz here today.

Earlier, Najib chaired the 20th National SME Development Council meeting.

Also present were International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Chief Executive Officer of SME Corp, Datuk Hafsah Hashim.

The portal provides information on the registration and licences/permits required by the SMEs covering all economic sectors in Peninsular Malaysia.

It is also an effort to improve the ease of doing business under the SME Masterplan.

Najib said the private sector also provided various financing channels, like new equity crowd funding and investment account platform, offering alternative financing channels for SMEs.

He said a survey in the first quarter of this year by SME Corp showed that the SME businesses were still resilient, helped by the demand from the private sector and the tourism activities.

In addition, he said, the use of information and communications technology (ICT) by SMEs has also increased to about 90 per cent compared with 27 per cent in 2010.

Meanwhile, Najib outlined two approaches, increase labour productivity and inclusivity, to improve the position of SMEs in particular and the country in general.

“First, to increase the country’s labour productivity under the 11th Malaysia Plan of 3.7 per cent, SMEs needed to be more innovative in their businessess,” he said.

As an example, he said, an SME that has production plant must focused on using machines that were efficient, have skilled manpower and used ICT.

Secondly, he said, government’s inclusive policies would have spill-over on the target groups such as the Bottom 40, through increasing their income levels.

Najib also urged SMEs to come forward to work with the government to ensure the success of the national SME development agenda.

He said in efforts to achieve high-income states, he wanted to see a more significant contribution from SMEs to the development of the national economy.

“In this way, the government can better identify the forms of assistance that can be given to the SMEs in addition to the current ones like grants, incentives, workshops and others,” he said.


Naza to unveil two new models in Q3

Posted on : 23-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

GURUN: Naza plans to introduce two new models by the third quarter of this year, said Naza Automotive Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (NAM) chief operating officer Roslan Abd Ghani.

“I can’t disclose under what brand these new models would be, but one will be a sedan while the other is probably a people mover,” he told Bernama after presenting NAM’s and Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin Foundation’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) contributions in Gurun on Thursday.

Roslan said Naza had introduced three new models so far this year with two models under the Kia brand (Sorento and Sportage) and other under Peugeot (Peugeot 408 e-THP).

“So far, we have produced 250 units of Kia Sorento, 50 units of Kia Sportage and 96 units of Peugeot 408 e-THP,” he said.
Roslan said despite the challenging eonomic climate, NAM would stick to its production target of 5,290 units of Kia, Citroen and Peugeot cars this year.

“Last year, we produced 4,500 units, while for this year until April, we have produced 1,394 units of various models,” he said.

Earlier, Roslan presented RM30,000 in donation to the Malaysian Islamic Welfare Organisation’s (Perkim) Kuala Muda branch and NAM’s adopted school — Sekolah Kebangsaan Paya Mengkuang — as well as to 30 underprivileged recipients who live near NAM’s premises.

He also presented a Peugeot car to Perlis Marathon 2016’s lucky draw winner, Mazliza Omar.


Cabinet wants Malaysians to adopt healthy lifestyle

Posted on : 23-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet Committee on Healthy Environment, at its inaugural meeting today, discussed the high-impact approach to creating a healthier living environment and ensuring the preservation of a healthy lifestyle among Malaysians.

The meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pix), came up with high-impact resolutions as part of the government’s policy of curbing non-communicable diseases in the country.

In a statement, Ahmad Zahid said the Cabinet Committee, which had the Health Ministry as the secretariat, carried the role to determine policies to establish an environment that supported the change in human behaviour pertaining to healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

He said studies had found that the lifestyle profile of Malaysians showed high risk of non-communicable diseases because 22.8% of the population (five million people) were smokers and 17.7% (3.3 million) were obese.

“Health care is the responsibility of every individual whether in terms of physical, mental, emotional or spiritual aspects. The state of health of an individual is closely related to dietary patterns, environmental hygiene and the individual’s daily activity,” he said.

“What is expected after this is a more effective response from the people and for them to be more responsible for their own health by adopting a healthier lifestyle, in addition to going for regular health screening,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said that if the main risk factors of non-communicable diseases could be eliminated, about 75% of heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the country could be averted and 40% of cancers could be prevented.

He said the results of the National Health and Morbility Survey 2015 presented by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam on June 6 found a rise in non-communicable diseases in all age groups.

Some 17.5% (3.5 million) of adults in the country had been diagnosed with diabetes, 30.3% (6.1 million) had hypertension and 47.7% (9.6 million) had high blood cholesterol levels, he said.

He also said that people in the 18 to 30 age group with non-communicable diseases made up seven per cent of the population.


5,276 applications for MyDeposit

Posted on : 23-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 5,276 applications were received for the First House Deposit Financing Scheme (MyDeposit) between April 7 and June 14, this year.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the applications were for 3,090 new houses and 2,186 subsale units.

“The three states with the highest number of MyDeposit applications were Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang,” he told reporters after handing out MyDeposit offer letters to the first 40 of the scheme recipients involving an allocation of RM1.09 million, at the ministry, here, today.

Abdul Rahman said that until June 5, 1,311 applications had been processed and out of this number, 425 were found to be eligible for the scheme.

The MyDeposit scheme, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak when tabling the 2016 Budget last Oct 23, was created with a fund of RM200 million from the government to assist first-time house buyers with the deposit payment.

The deposit payment is limited to 10% of the house price or a maximum of RM30,000, whichever is lower, for the purchase price of RM500,000 and below.

Abdul Rahman said 6,600 to 10,000 first-time house buyers would receive the benefit through the MyDeposit scheme, based on the estimated deposit financing by the government of RM20,000 to RM30,000 for each applicant.

“Hopefully, the total allocation of RM200 million for the MyDeposit scheme could be chanelled to the eligible applicants by the year-end.”

Abdul Rahman also said that the government targeted building one million affordable houses until the end of 2017.

From this number, the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Project (PR1MA) will build 500,000 units and the other 500,000 by other agencies like the National Housing Department, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad (SPNB), the state governments and private housing developers.


Export to OIC countries to grow 5% this year

Posted on : 23-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s export to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries is expected to increase by five per cent this year, from US$19.99 billion (RM80.7 billion) recorded last year, said International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

In the first quarter of this year, total exports to OIC countries stood at RM19.21 billion, up 12.9 per cent, compared with the same period a year ago.

Ahmad said the growth projection was based on the promising economic prospects for OIC countries, as well as, the fact that Malaysia offered  opportunities not only in trade and investment in halal goods and services but also in the oil and gas industry.

“Exports to OIC countries can be expanded further to include other halal-based products like cosmetics, medicine and services.

“Malaysia and other OIC countries are Muslim countries and this makes it easier to trade with each other compared with non Muslim countries,” he told  reporters after breaking fast with ambassadors from Islamic countries, organised by MITI and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) yesterday night.

Ahmad Maslan said ambassadors from Afghanistan and Pakistan showed their interest to work together with Malaysia especially in services related to the oil and gas infrastructure.

Earlier, in his speech, Ahmad said Malaysia and OIC countries should build a broader and stronger cooperation, as well as, create more opportunity for  mutual benefits of related parties and their people in the years to come.

He said focus should be centred on raising trade volume, creating awareness about Malaysia-OIC products and industries’ capabilities while exploring new markets together.

Nevertheless, market access problems such as tariff and non-tariff barriers, lack of mutual recognition of standards, the existence of licences, quotas and export ban, lack of information on markets and business opportunities and complexity of administrative procedures related to foreign trade at customs level, banking and port, should be addressed.

The volume of intra-OIC trade is growing and last year, it expanded by 9.4 per cent to reach US$878 billion.


SCC (Sabah Credit Corporation) pays RM16.2mln dividend to Sabah govt

Posted on : 23-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Credit Corporation (SCC) paid RM16.2 million dividend to the state government and RM1 million for payment of interest and loan to the state.

SCC will also be contributing zakat amounting to RM107,000 to the Sabah Tithe Centre for the financial year ended 2015.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman yesterday witnessed the dividend payment when he received a courtesy call from the SCC board members led by its chairman, Datuk Linda Tsen at his official residence, Sri Gaya.

SCC chief executive officer Datuk Vincent Pung handed over the mock cheque to Finance Ministry permanent secretary Datuk Pengiran Hassanel Datuk Pg Haji Mohd Tahir.

Since 2002, when the state government started injecting capital into SCC, the corporation has already paid out a total gross dividend payment of over RM239 Million.

Quite an achievement for an organisation that started off in 1955 with a launching grant of RM1 million.

SCC is thankful to the state government for continuously and concretely supporting SCC, especially when it began to break itself free from its civil service foundation to become a more commercial entity.

The constant affirmations from the Chief Minister made it so much easier for the board and management to venture beyond its comfort zone and undertake more business ventures.

The board and management will continue to uphold the trust given to it by the government and its investors. Despite the very challenging business environment that SCC is operating in, SCC is confident that it is now well positioned to support the state government in developing the state.

SCC is very much focused in continuing its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme that was officially started in 2005. To date it has committed a total sum of RM21 million for its CSR activities.

The priority focus of CSR programs are on children, women and the handicapped. To date SCC has built 31 school hostels amounting to RM7.9 million, nine orphanages for the children amounting to RM1.8 million and five rehabilitation centers for those with special needs for RM1 million.

Recently, SCC contributed RM1 million towards the library of the new St Francis Convent Secondary School at Bukit Padang.

SCC is also working closely with the Sabah State Medical Department to build a Patient Support Hostel at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This hostel intends to provide decent accommodation for the rural poor who are required to accompany patients seeking medical treatment available only in Kota Kinabalu.

One of the biggest CSR programs so far by SCC is the contribution of the complex and management of the Urban Transformation Center (UTC) Sabah on behalf of the state government.


Tap into Belt and Road Initiative – MCCC (Malaysia China Chamber of Commerce)

Posted on : 20-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local Business

The growing business and trade opportunities of China’s ‘belt-road’ have had many groups scrambling to get noticed.

CHINA’S well-promoted “One-belt, One-road” (belt-road) regional economic initiative that promises abundant business and trade opportunities has brought about unintended chaos and tension among local groups linked to China trade.

Over the past several months, at least four new local organisations were set up with objectives to do business with China and to tap into belt-road opportunities.

Malaysia-China Belt-Road Chamber of Commerce, set up three months ago and headed by former MCA president Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat, is one such non-governmental organisation. The other is Asean-China Chamber, which was set up last September by Hua Zong’s former president Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong.

The overlapping functions and objectives of these new NGOs and existing Chinese chambers in Malaysia are reportedly causing confusion to officials and businessmen from China as they are unsure which organisations are authentic, reliable and representative.

Each is now battling for attention from the republic.

Meeting of minds: Bong (seated, right) receiving a high-level business delegation headed by Yeoh Kian How (seated, left) from the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park, a project mooted by the governments of China and Malaysia in 2011.

Previously, Chinese guilds and chambers had complained of having to entertain too many delegations from China. But they are too happy to embrace them now, with China actively implementing its belt-road programmes.

The belt-road initiative, first announced in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, will see China’s corporations and their foreign partners building roads, railway lines, ports and power grids badly needed in many parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It will also facilitate its own industries to invest and broaden its market in these countries, and vice versa.

The belt-road economic strategy covers 65 countries populated by 4.4 billion people. It is projected that infrastructure development alone will bring in investment of US$160bil (RM624bil) and China’s annual trade volume with belt-road countries, among which is Malaysia, will exceed US$2.5 trillion (RM9.75 trillion) in a decade or so.

Among the local existing organisations that are battling keenly for attention from China are the influential Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) and smaller Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC).

Both are established business NGOs in the Chinese community. While ACCCIM represents all Chinese state chambers in Malaysia, MCCC groups traders and investors who do business with China.

These two NGOs have overlapping membership and their leaders used to work closely, but not anymore.

This is mainly because MCCC has refused to bow to pressure to alter its Chinese abbreviated name, which sounded quite similar to ACCCIM’s short-form in Chinese.

ACCCIM, which is raising its profile as the leading apex Chinese business NGO in Malaysia, argues that China’s important agencies have often mistaken MCCC for ACCCIM due to the adoption of abbreviated names.

It is learnt that leaders of both groups had recently held lunch talks to resolve this “name” issue but there was no outcome. Meanwhile, they have gone to the press to present their arguments.

Good read: Bong reading an issue of the Malaysia-China Business Magazine which has a circulation of 10,000 and is given free to members and authorities in China.

Datuk Bong Hon Liong, president of MCCC, says in an agitated tone: “Do you change your name if others tell you to do so? MCCC’s name was endorsed by our members. We started using our abbreviated name earlier than ACCCIM’s. Can I then agree to change our name just to please ACCCIM, just because they are a bigger group?”

“We are a specialist body with many members dealing with China trade since the 1960s. We have played a very important role in promoting bilateral trade and investments. All major government agencies in China know us. And in recognition of our contributions, I was invited to be Malaysia’s sole observer at China’s two most political meetings last year,” Bong tells Sunday Star.

This year, China’s government invited Datuk Ter Liong Yap, the president of ACCCIM, to its two meetings that deliberated and endorsed major policy decisions for the Middle Kingdom.

Bong believes that beneath the current squabble over a “trivial” issue is the battle for quanxi (relationships) with influential Chinese officials, as well as vast business and investment opportunities seen in belt-road economic programmes.

There have been cases that leaders and active members of Chinese guilds were awarded lucrative projects in the past. The most recent example is a one billion yuan (RM604mil) desert-greening project awarded to a company jointly owned by MCCC vice-presidents Datuk Lim Heng Ee and Ngan Teng Ye.

“China is huge and opportunities offered by the belt-road are aplenty. We are no threat to anybody. Each organisation can do what it wants,” states Bong at the MCCC office in Fraser Business Park, Kuala Lumpur.

However, MCCC is also in the limelight now due to its coming tri-annual election on June 26. It is widely known that the authorities from China and Malaysia hope the new leader will be a non-controversial person with a clean background.

For this, MCCC is facing a dilemma. While it does not want outsiders to interfere in its election, the views of the authorities cannot be ignored.

At issue is that one of the potential candidates for the MCCC presidency is a businessman who had spoken up against China on the massacre of pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, and those opposing him have kept reminding members of his background.

Bong, who has led MCCC for two terms totalling six years, has to step down after the June polls due to a restriction in the constitution.

The election is expected to be a heated affair. Most potential candidates had voiced their desire to contest as early as last June. To boost support, many new members have been brought in. As a result, the MCCC membership has shot up by 600 to about 2,000 now, from 1,400 last June.

“It is a good thing that people are watching us and showing concern for our coming election. This shows that MCCC is important and we must have done a lot of good work for the community and two countries,” quips Bong.

Indeed, MCCC’s most visible contribution to bilateral trade is its yearly painstaking organisation of business delegations to attend Canton trade fairs in Spring and Autumn. This is where many start-ups in China trade make their “first barrel of gold”.

During the tenure of Bong, who has textile and garment factories and property developments in China since the 1980s, MCCC opened up its membership and saw influx of Malay and Indian entrepreneurs keen to do business with China. There are now 200 of them in MCCC.

In a two-hour interview, the 68-year-old business management graduate of the now-defunct Ngee Ann College of Singapore also talked about issues linked to bilateral trade with China and the South China Sea dispute:

> What have been your notable achievements during these six years as a leader of MCCC?

In my first year, I revived the investment seminars started by the late Tan Sri Ngan Ching Wen when he was president. Instead of a one-off event, I made this into an annual affair. The sixth Malaysia-China Economic Conference this year, to be attended by 2,000 people, will be held in Chengdu in November. Participation from Asean nations is expected.

We have also successfully attracted the non-Chinese to be our members. Currently, there are 200 of them. We are aiming to get more so that they will form 30% of our total membership. MCCC wants to be a truly multi-racial organisation.

Two years ago, we began to actively mobilise Malay and Indian small and medium enterprises to join us to attend Canton trade fairs and other expositions.

Every year, we organise about 50 trade and investment delegations to China. Every month, we receive 20 delegations from the Chinese government and private sector.

We have also started working closely with MCA to organise 100 belt-road roadshows to help people understand the opportunities available. Up till now, we have conducted over 60 roadshows.

We have published various books on belt-road. We have also published a major commemorative coffee table book and held a series of seminars to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Malaysia-China ties.

Our well-known quarterly Malaysia-China Business Magazine, which carries topical issues on Malaysia and China, has a circulation of 10,000 and is given free to members and authorities in China.

Due to the close attention paid to policy decisions and developments, issues linked to China are at our finger-tips and many of us are China experts.

Last year, I was invited to be Malaysia’s sole representative at China’s “two meetings”. I was also one of the speakers at the function.

> What can we expect your successor to be like?

The new leader should love Malaysia and embrace China. He must have genuine sentiment towards these two countries. He must also be well-versed with issues and policies of these two countries so that he can play his leadership role well.

For the past six years, I have put aside my business to focus on MCCC work but this type of devotion is not easy to match. However, people who are not prepared to devote time and energy to make contributions to the chamber should take a break from this coming chamber election.

At the moment, I am staying neutral in the election. I am aware of the talk that I was supporting one candidate, but this is not true. I am leaving the decision to the wisdom of our members.

(Tan Yew Sin, who controls INTI Universal Holdings Bhd, is one of the potential candidates. The other two vice-presidents vying for the top post are Datuk Lim Heng Ye of Global Green Synergy and Liew Choon Kong of Kong Wooi Fong Tea Merchants Sdn Bhd.)

> Do you see MCCC as facing challenges in terms of selecting the right leader?

Yes, indeed. All pioneers of China trade and founders of the chamber have either retired or are gone. We harbour special sentiment towards China as this country had helped us prosper. I go to China 40 to 50 times a year on business or chamber work.

However, the old giving way to the young is a natural progression. In Chinese, we say new tides in Yangtze River will push away old tides. As an out-going leader, I have to accept this reality.

If the new leader is weak and not capable, there will be adverse impact on the chamber. And if a leader is not devoted, it can also spell trouble. It means that in time to come, other organisations with similar objectives will shine and rise above us; and we stand still, MCCC may lose its current status and fall into oblivion.

> Are you aware that officials outside are following developments in MCCC election?

Via unofficial channels, we have been informed of their wishes to have a non-controversial leader. But it is all up to our members to decide.

It is a good sign that people have high expectations of us. It means we must have played our role very well and we must have done a lot of good work to deserve such high level attention.

If nobody pays attention to an organisation, it means that it is insignificant. It is an achievement on our part if others are showering attention to us.

> What are the prospects of Malaysia-China bilateral trade and investments?

Bright, as long as Malaysia maintains a close relationship with China and welcomes Chinese investments in its bid to improve its economy.

China will continue to march forward in expanding trade with Malaysia and other nations, and pouring investments into countries along the belt-road route. In Malaysia, they are making good their promise to buy our government bonds and implement their planned investments this year.

But due to the current economic slowdown in Malaysia and China, the shared goal to achieve total bilateral trade of US$160bil (RM624bil) by 2017 may have to be pushed back to 2020. (In 2015, total bilateral trade was slightly under US$100bil (RM390bil).

The impact of Chinese investments in Bandar Malaysia, Malacca, Kuantan and East Malaysia could only be felt later. Both the governments and people will have to work hard to achieve this goal.

> What is your view on current China?

China’s administration is carrying out four strategies: pushing for economic transformation and targeting an average annual income of US$10,000 (RM39,000) per person; improving its legal system to emphasise the rule of law; eradicating poverty; and wiping out corruption.

The catch here is that China dares to tackle poverty and corruption. Jack Ma (of Alibaba Group) has said that there is future in China because its leaders are bold enough to implement policy decisions on these two thorny issues that many other countries shun away.

My view is: once more Chinese nationals get richer, domestic demand will soar and China will have to import more goods and services to cater for their needs. This will benefit all its trade partners, including Malaysia. Indeed, there are many Malaysians setting up legal and accounting firms in China now.

> Do you think the current tension in the South China Sea will explode into a full-scale war?

I don’t think so. It seems to me all super powers do not wish to go to war.

History has shown that China is a peace-loving nation. It has always kept to its long-cherished principles of peaceful co-existence.

China has stated it will not fire the first shot. And I believe in its stand. But if others do so to the extent of undermining China’s sovereignty, China will have to react to defend itself.

However, the chances of an outbreak of war are slim, unless the United States and Japan play tough in this region.

Now that China is a stronger nation in defence and has become the world’s second largest economy, it will not stand idle to allow other countries to bully it like what had happened in the past.

It is understandable that it wants to exert its influence via economic expansion and penetration now.


Sanichi teams up with Petrowangsa to tender Petronas’ oil storage tank terminal contract

Posted on : 20-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Sanichi Technology Bhd is tying up with Petrowangsa Sdn Bhd to tender for Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) oil storage tank terminal contracts in Malaysia and around the region.

The automotive mould maker-cum-property developer estimated the value of the oil storage terminal projects to be more than RM1bil.

The company said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that Petrowangsa had the licences from Petronas to commission floating roof, fixed roof and cryrogenic storage tanks, as well as to provide mechanical engineering and maintenance of those oil storage tanks.

“Based on our market intelligence which was conducted with our business partners, Petrowangsa, the value of the oil storage terminal projects under our radar in Malaysia and around the region is estimated to be above RM1bil, and that makes us very excited,” said Sanichi managing director Datuk Seri Dr Jacky Pang,
It was reported that Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) was eyeing a 5% stake in Sanichi.

Should that materialise, LTAT would become the second-largest shareholder after Pelaburan MARA Bhd, which owns 8.56%. Negotiations were still ongoing.

Sanichi shares closed unchabged at 14 sen on Monday, with 13.93 million shares changing hands.


Taiwanese firm sees Malaysia as pioneer in solar panel industry

Posted on : 20-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

NEW YORK: A Taiwanese solar panel company recognises Malaysia’s pioneering work in the solar panel sector and has expressed an interest to enter into cooperation with a reliable Malaysian partner. Motech Industries Inc, which is located in Tainan City, started in 1981 as a testing and measurement instruments designer and manufacturer but evolved into a full-service global solar company. The company has its own research and development operations as well as manufacturing facilities for solar products and services, ranging from photovoltaic (PV), silicon wafers, PV cells and PV modules to PV power systems. The company, which had an annual revenue of US$756 million in 2015 and claims to be the largest merchant PV cells manufacturer in the world with a 3.3 Gigawatt (GW) production capacity, has maintained commercial ties with Malaysian producers of solar panels even though Malaysians do not make solar cells needed for the solar panel end product. “Malaysia is a strong and emerging site for international companies dealing in solar panels, produces some of the components in solar panels, and also has a small production facility for solar cells. “Malaysia imports solar cells from Taiwan and China which are the largest producers of solar cells. Demand for solar panels is much higher. Aluminium frames and glass are also needed, some of which can be sourced in Malaysia itself. “In Malaysia, solar panels are mostly assembled though the country is also gradually moving towards manufacturing the full product. “But Malaysia, thanks to its early involvement in the solar panel business, has become an important partner in the solar supply and value chain,” Peng Heng Chang, Motech’s chairman and CEO, said in an interview with Bernama on Friday in New York. Chang said his company’s major markets are the United States, China, Japan, Europe, India and Southeast Asia. “Southeast Asian markets, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia, are promising for us. The regional demand is increasing. We have no collaboration yet with a Malaysian partner, but we are open to looking into any form of cooperation with a local (Malaysian) company. “We already have a collaboration with an Indonesian partner, and would also consider collaboration with a Malaysian partner. There are two other big Taiwanese companies that have formed joint ventures in Malaysia with Malaysian partners. “Yes, we would also be interested in collaborating with a Malaysian company, but we are keen to find a good and reliable partner,” Chang said. Chang said global supply of solar panels amounts to 90GW with demand at about 70GW. “However, many of the solar panel plants are old and need to be upgraded and modernised, and will have to be replaced, thus generating further demand,” Chang said. He said Western suppliers have their strengths in supplying equipment needed for the manufacture of these products while Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, has a better qualified and cost-effective labour force. “I see demand in Malaysia and Indonesia for solar cells is growing. Solar panels have become attractive, particularly for the smaller islands in Malaysia and Indonesia. “Solar panels are suitable for the islands because of their detached location from each other,” he noted. The solar panel industry in Malaysia, Chang said, is characterised by the pioneering prowess displayed by Malaysian companies which work closely with the country’s research institutions. “In particular, the innovation and technological level in Malaysia is high, even though Malaysia’s focus so far has been on assembly. However, this is changing and Malaysia is making its own solar cells for the panels. “The synergies emerging from cooperation between Taiwanese and Malaysian companies can be very beneficial to both sides, given Malaysia’s strong base in electronics and semi-conductors, and Taiwan’s abundant availability of qualified industry experts. “This combination can build up a strong base for partnership in the solar panel business,” Chang said. Chang is part of a visiting Taiwan business and trade delegation led by Kuo-Hsin Liang, the chairman of Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the island republic’s trade promotion agency. The delegation, which is also visiting Washington, DC to participate in the Investment Summit being organised by the US Commerce Department, includes heavyweight corporate players such as AAEON Technology, Aerospace Industrial Development Corp, Fair Friend Group, Formosa Plastics Group, Formostar Garment Co, KENDA Rubber Industrial Co, Kinpo Electronics Inc and TEX-RAY Industrial Co. The delegation also includes high-ranking officials representing the Bureau of Foreign Trade in Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.


World’s fastest supercomputer entirely made in China – Survey

Posted on : 20-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

BEIJING: China has built the world’s fastest supercomputer using locally made microchips, a survey said Monday, the first time the country has taken the top spot without using US technology.

The Sunway TaihuLight machine is twice as fast as the previous number one, which was built in China with chips from US firm Intel, the Top500 survey of supercomputers said on its website www.top500.org.

China also has more top-ranked supercomputers than the US for the first time since the survey began, with 167 compared to 165.

Located at China’s national supercomputer centre in the eastern city of Wuxi, the Sunway TaihuLight will be used for climate modelling and life science research.

Its performance ends “speculation that China would have to rely on Western technology to compete effectively in the upper echelons of supercomputing,” the survey’s website said.

The supercomputers on the Top500 list, which is produced twice a year, are rated based on speed in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US.

Of the top ten fastest computers, two are in China, with four in the US, the ranking said. Others are in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

China has poured money into big-ticket science and technology projects as it seeks to become a high-tech leader.

It plans to open the world’s largest radio telescope in southeastern China this year, state-media reported.

But despite some gains the country’s scientific output still lags behind, and its universities generally fare poorly in global rankings.


Foreign tourists enjoy food at Ramadan bazaars

Posted on : 16-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Foreign tourists appear to enjoy the wide variety of food and beverages offered at the Ramadan bazaars in the city.

Kyle Randall, 28, from the United States, said he returned to the bazaar at Lintasan Deasoka for the fifth time yesterday to grab some matcha (green tea) beverage.

Apart from the matcha drink, Kyle has also tried the fried rice and fried chicken sold at the bazaar, while his Canadian friend, Daniel Ruberto, 19, bought a few curry puffs.

“I like it a lot (the food). The food is a mix of Chinese, Indian and almost Filipino style, all into one. I find it an opportunity to get a variety of local cuisines and what people choose to make, perhaps food they make for their families,” he said when met at the bazaar.

While Kyle enjoyed the wide array of food at the bazaar, he did point out the lack of fresh vegetables and fruits.

“Maybe fresh fruits can be served in bags … like fresh mangoes and watermelons. You can see coconut juice and coconut puddings here, but there is no actual fresh mango. It is something that I noticed isn’t here,”he said.

Nonetheless, Kyle said the Ramadan bazaar was successful and popular, considering the crowd it drew.

“Each time I am out here, there are lots of people. Maybe it brings more people here because it only lasts for a month,”he said.

Meanwhile, Zhang Bo, 26, found the fried mee, barbecue chicken wings and lamb satay delicious.

Zhang and her husband, Peng Zhuo, 25, both from Hunan, China, were spotted checking out the food at the Ramadan bazaar.

In fact, Zhang said the food at the bazaar seemed to be cheap and fresh as she detected no ‘frozen taste’ in the meat she consumed.

“The meat I ate seems to be very fresh, like it was not stored in the freezer for a long time,”she described.

During the interview, she also voiced her curiosity as to why people were carrying their food instead of eating it. Upon explanation, Zhang finally understood that the Muslim community were fasting during the Ramadan month.

Meanwhile, Peng said bazaars like the one at Lintasan Deasoka allowed people and tourists to sample all the local cuisines at one stop.

Meanwhile, Zheng Xiaohua from Guangdong, China enjoyed strolling through the food bazaar as well, even though she was not used to the taste of local spicy food.


Pay better, Sabah employers told

Posted on : 16-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Employers in Sabah should pay their workers higher to help them cope with the increasingly high cost of living in the state, said Deputy Chief Minister and Industrial Development Minister Datuk Seri Raymond Tan Shu Kiah.

He said Sabah needed more trained and skilled workers to support its rapid industrialization, especially in new and growing sectors such as the oil and gas.

Apart from equipping and training workers with suitable skills, he said efforts must also be taken towards attracting and keeping them in the local industry by offering competitive salary.

“I often tell them (companies) not to just give low pay. Pay them better. Our graduates do not only need jobs but jobs that pay well in order to survive the very high cost of living in Sabah,” he said, noting that a single individual needs at least RM2,500 a month to survive in Kota Kinabalu.

He said this when officiating at the closing of Kota Kinabalu Polytechnic (KKP) Orientation Week here yesterday.

Tan said the government had been working hard to attract foreign companies to bring their operation here as well to invest in various projects in Sabah, all which will create better paying jobs for local workers.

He added that Sabah could not afford to continue exporting its raw materials to be used or developed overseas but must emphasise on sustainably utilizing its resources to develop its own industry.

“The government must not think only about selling the resources but also how to use them to develop the state’s industry for the locals, now and in the future. We must build our resources and maintain sustainability so that our younger generations can benefit from them, so that you (students) can better utilize them when you are ready.

“This is what the government is doing. This is the game plan. All that we ask from you (students) is to make full use of the training and skill development programmes that have been made available to you so that you can help in this effort to transform our industry and economy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tan commended KKP for the remarkable employment rate of its graduates, saying not all training institutes could achieve such a high marketability for their students.

Earlier, KKP director Roslee Yahya informed in his welcoming speech that 85 per cent of the graduates from the institute last year had managed to secure jobs related to their studies within the first six months after graduating.

He said the figure exceeded the target of 80 per cent set by the Higher Education Ministry for tertiary education institutes.

Encouraged by the achievement, he said KKP had set a target of further improving the employment rate to 90 per cent this year.

A total of 662 new students enrolled for various programmes at KKP this year, with 23 per cent of them from outside Sabah.


Semporna Marine spatial plan wins prestigious award

Posted on : 16-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: The Semporna Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) received the Commendation Award for International Planning Excellence from The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) at their prestigious Awards for Planning Excellence 2016 ceremony held in London on May 5, this year.

The award recognises that Semporna is at the forefront of marine spatial planning internationally.

The International Planning category attracted over 60 project submissions worldwide. The SMSP was shortlisted in early February this year to compete with the seven other finalists from USA, India, China, Philippines, Seychelles, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Judges for the award were drawn from a wide field of prominent planning professionals.

The SMSP is collaboration between the Sabah Town and Regional Planning Department, Semporna District Office and World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (Marine Programme). It is supported by Borneo Spatial Planning Sdn Bhd, the consultancy firm responsible for developing and coordinating the programme.

SMSP works in partnership with a range of stakeholders which includes Department of Fisheries, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom), Malaysia Marine Enforcement Agency, Sabah Parks, Departments of Education and Health, NGOs, tourism sector and local communities to address the social, environmental and economic impact on the marine environment and its resources.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman congratulated the Town and Regional Planning Department Sabah and collaborating partners WWF-Malaysia and Semporna District Office for achieving this prestigious award.

“This award shows strong partnership between the state government and non-governmental organisation can produce excellent results that warrant global recognition. This is a commendable achievement for the state in terms of the town planning profession. I am proud that they are the chosen recipient for the award and I hope it would serve as incentive for all stakeholders to work harder on smart planning practices towards sustainable development,” he said.

Director of Town and Regional Planning Department, Haji Mursidi Haji Sapie, said the International Planning Excellence Award is the best achievement of the department and state government at global level in town planning profession by achieving recognition from global professional body, RTPI United Kingdom.

He said the department is always focusing on innovation and exploring new perspective of town and regional planning to produce excellent planning practice that can be accepted and recognise globally.

“This partnership working with WWF-Malaysia and Semporna District Office is indeed a ground breaking approach that uses innovative measures to address shared issues on development pressure in respect of the fragile marine environment, tourism growth, safety and security for Semporna, assimilation of communities and the protection of the marine ecosystem,” he said.

Mursidi added the State Planning Department in its forward planning capacity had pioneered this planning work as the first in Malaysia to develop a marine spatial plan.

“This integrated planning approach is the way forward for future planning and we can no longer work in silos. Every development, regardless of size or type, generates an impact upon the environment and that includes habitat, ecosystem and people like you and me. We must plan properly and responsibly,” he said.

Semporna district officer Dr Chacho Haji Bullah said the international planning excellence award is a global recognition for the collaboration between Town and Regional Planning Department of Sabah, WWF-Malaysia and District Office of Semporna.

“The smart partnership also consists of other government departments and various NGOs under the Semporna MSP project. It is a global acknowledgement for sustainable marine and resources that is significant to the whole natural environment, contributing to the growth of socio-economic sector for Semporna,” he said.

Janet Goh, the Chartered Town Planner from Borneo Spatial Planning Sdn Bhd, said: “In guiding the development of the SMSP, we have seen that it is possible to create an integrated approach to resolving complex planning issues whereby all stakeholders work together for the benefit of the environment and to achieve sustainable economic development for Sabah and its people.”

Monique Sumampouw, People and Marine Biodiversity Manager, WWF-Malaysia said: “WWF-Malaysia believes that the MSP process is important in bringing stakeholders together to address conflicting use of space towards a common sustainable development goal and believe that this is an important tool to use in ensuring a balance between conservation and sustainable coastal development. WWF-Malaysia is immensely proud of this achievement and look forward to further developments of the MSP process.”

For the Semporna team, Monique said winning this prestigious International Award would help to press home the importance of Semporna’s marine resources and the need to protect, conserve and develop this responsibly and sustainably.

“This Semporna Marine Spatial Plan will provide an overarching marine planning policy framework to guide development in Semporna waters and to create an efficient, inclusive and sustainable environment for growth,” she said.


Fintech, higher saving rates help boost Asia’s economy

Posted on : 14-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

PETALING JAYA: RAM Ratings is of the view that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has an underlying ability to gradually change business environments and firms operating in related member markets in the lead-up to its implementation.

“We believe that these changes, which are relatively harder to quantify empirically at this juncture, will be more significant than the actual impact on trade,” the rating agency said in a report entitled “TPPA: Liberalisation Benefits Outweigh Trade Flow Effects” yesterday.

RAM Ratings said that although the TPPA may be a free trade agreement (FTA) at face value, further scrutiny reveals that it encompasses all facets of doing business, from the explicit rules and regulations on how trade and industrial activities are conducted to the intrinsic effects on labour and investment dynamics.

“As the governments of the individual member countries move towards ratification, the principal outcome will be the alignment of the corresponding changes in business operations with more efficient and competitive processes and activities, to fully reap the benefits of being part of this group,” it added.


RAM Ratings believes TPPA can change business environments

Posted on : 14-06-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

PETALING JAYA: RAM Ratings is of the view that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has an underlying ability to gradually change business environments and firms operating in related member markets in the lead-up to its implementation.

“We believe that these changes, which are relatively harder to quantify empirically at this juncture, will be more significant than the actual impact on trade,” the rating agency said in a report entitled “TPPA: Liberalisation Benefits Outweigh Trade Flow Effects” yesterday.

RAM Ratings said that although the TPPA may be a free trade agreement (FTA) at face value, further scrutiny reveals that it encompasses all facets of doing business, from the explicit rules and regulations on how trade and industrial activities are conducted to the intrinsic effects on labour and investment dynamics.

“As the governments of the individual member countries move towards ratification, the principal outcome will be the alignment of the corresponding changes in business operations with more efficient and competitive processes and activities, to fully reap the benefits of being part of this group,” it added.