Trusan Sugut: A pint-sized playground for wildlife

Posted on : 22-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

Unlike most people, Markus Salutan’s backyard is not home to domestic animals. Instead, it is a playground for primates such as Bornean orangutans and other unique wild creatures, some of which can only be found in Sabah.

As Sugut’s Sustainable Forest Management Field Manager, Markus’s home is Trusan Sugut Forest Reserve (Trusan Sugut FR) in the north-eastern part of Sabah. The former forest ranger has been working in Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) since 1993, with the last four years served as a field manager in Sugut.

“Naturally, I feel quite invested in Trusan Sugut, especially because it is also a treasured home for our highly diverse wildlife,” he remarked.

Diverse wildlife and forest types
Trusan Sugut FR is pint-sized but packs quite a punch. Although the Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve only covers 8,690 hectares, it is home to 365 butterfly species, 57 amphibian species, 103 reptile species, 335 bird species and 168 mammal species, including 40 species of medium-sized and large mammals. Iconic wildlife such as proboscis monkey, banteng, Bornean orangutan and Sundaland clouded leopard are just some of the mammals that reside in this wildlife haven.

In terms of habitat, Trusan Sugut FR also boasts various forest types including endangered ones such as lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, a variant of which is the kapur (limestone) forest, lowland kerangas (heath) forest, lowland peat swamp forest, and lowland freshwater swamp forest.

The amazing variety of wildlife and forest types that this tiny haven possesses is very impressive considering that it was heavily logged for decades in its previous lifetime as the southern part of Sugut Forest Reserve (Sugut FR), previously a Class II (Production) Forest Reserve. First logged in 1960s, the timber extraction activities came to a stop in 1996; however illegal logging persisted along the riverside of Sugut until 1998. Currently the forest reserve is bordered by oil palm plantations and human settlements, which puts it at risk for agricultural and domestic waste pollution, encroachment, poaching, illegal harvesting of forest trees, and many more.

A Forest Management Plan with a strong wildlife emphasis
In 2013, WWF-Malaysia approached SFD to explore the possibility of re-classifying Trusan Sugut FR, then known as Lower Sugut, as a protection forest. The department was receptive of the idea and asked for assistance in conducting biodiversity surveys. WWF-Malaysia was also asked to come up with a Forest Management Plan (FMP) from the standpoint of a protection forest reserve (Class I or Class VII) for the area.

“WWF-Malaysia hopes that the conservation-focused FMP will serve as a model for other Class I forest reserves in Sabah,” said Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, WWF-Malaysia’s Executive Director / CEO. He added, “Our team of experts in protected areas, wildlife, Geographic Information System (GIS), and forest certification did the necessary research such as setting up camera traps to study wildlife before coming up for recommendations for the FMP.”

WWF-Malaysia’s Senior Officer in Protected Areas, Tan Hao Jin, led the efforts to prepare a High Conservation Value (HCV) assessment report for Trusan Sugut FR, which documented wildlife presence and abundance. An HCV assessment also looks at endangered habitats and ecosystem services, along with basic and cultural needs identified of local communities. Results indicated that Trusan Sugut FR is one of the few places in Sabah where naturally occurring unique plants and animals, forest types and ecosystems can be found within a small protected reserve. Parts of the FR also provide shelter and habitat for aquatic life especially fish, a staple protein source for nearby local communities.

“The lowland freshwater swamp forest, lowland seasonal freshwater swamp forest, and the lowland dipterocarp forest have become increasingly scarce in Sabah over the past few decades, and are now considered endangered,” said Hao Jin. “You can say that Trusan FR is one of the last refuges for these forest types and their inhabitants.”

While WWF-Malaysia and other collaborators were in the midst of preparing the FMP, SFD decided to duly recognize this nature powerhouse in 2014 by carving it out of Class II Sugut FR and reclassifying the area as a Class I Protection Forest Reserve. This essential legal move protects the forest reserve’s ecosystem functions, and also prohibits all major forms of destructive human activities, such as commercial logging.

Internationally recognized as a well-managed forest
The gazettement is just the beginning of its journey towards reversing the impacts of its extractive past. In order to strengthen its position as a protection forest, SFD decided to apply for a well-managed forest certification by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC is an international not for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

According to SFD’s Chief Conservator of Forests, Datuk Sam Mannan, having a globally-recognized certification for Sustainable Forest Management such as FSC’s will give forest reserves credibility and inspires confidence amongst stakeholders, such as policymakers and conservation donors. He also believes that it improves governance as the certified forest reserve needs to pass the strict yearly audit surveillance or risk losing the certification.

“Besides Trusan Sugut, we are also aiming for other forest reserves such as Sungai Pinangah, Sook Lake, and Sungai Lumaku Forest Reserves to be certified by FSC within the next three years,” said Mannan. “Ultimately, we would like to see improvements in terms of management efficiency in all forest reserves across Sabah, not just those certified by FSC.”

Having a sound forest management plan also contributes to Trusan Sugut FR’s success in passing the stringent FSC audit process and getting certified on 16 May 2017. Markus was instrumental in coordinating and supporting the field surveys and also in providing input on the FMP which was completed in September 2016.

“To be honest, my team and I would not be able to complete this FMP without the help of our supportive collaborators,” said Markus humbly. “With the FMP in hand, we can better manage Trusan Sugut, especially in the aspects of wildlife conservation.”

Threats to the tiny haven
One of the parties involved is WWF-Malaysia’s Anti-Poaching Manager Sharon Koh, who prepared the Minimum Enforcement Standards assessment and the patrolling zone prescriptions for the FMP. Her team was responsible in setting up the camera traps to study the presence and types of wildlife found in the area.

As WWF-Malaysia’s anti-poaching expert, Sharon has trained many rangers in Sabah to improve their skills, particularly in detecting poachers in forest reserves. According to her, “The management plan has a strong enforcement component for protection against encroachment and also illegal hunting, which unfortunately are some of the main threats for all forest reserves in Sabah.”

“Poachers need to be deterred from entering Trusan Sugut, not only because they trap or shoot wildlife, but also because they may start forest fires simply from littering their cigarette butts or leaving a camp fire unattended,” Sharon added.

Restoring the health of the haven
Some parts of Trusan Sugut FR occupied by Bornean orangutans have become severely degraded due to past logging activities and fires, therefore WWF-Malaysia is keen to assist the department in restoring the landscape with native and fast-growing tree species.

“The Bornean orangutan is a tree-dependent species that use trees for food and shelter. They also travel by swinging from the treetops,” said Donna Simon, WWF-Malaysia’s Senior Programme Officer for Orangutan Conservation.

“The Trusan Sugut population is small and isolated. Therefore, connecting the peat swamp forest to the west of Sugut River will serve as the last lowland area hosting a significant population of orangutans in the northern half of Sabah,” she further commented.

In October 2016, a restoration proposal by WWF-Malaysia was approved by SFD, and the non-profit organization is currently finding donors to fund the restoration. About RM1.8 million is needed to restore 150 ha for five to eight years of maintenance, depending on the type of planting method for the compartments involved.

“Natural regeneration takes a long time and more often than not the forest will regenerate to a different condition, which may not be ideal for orangutans and other wildlife,” said Dato’ Dr Sharma.

“We intend to lend nature a helping hand, and we hope that the public will support our fundraising efforts for Sabah’s wildlife haven. Together, anything is possible,” he concluded.

To donate to WWF-Malaysia’s restoration efforts in Trusan Sugut FR, please visit


Mustapa wants more for tech startups, scale-ups

Posted on : 22-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed has urged government linked companies (GLCs) and private venture capitalists to allocate more funds for local technology start ups and scale ups.

He said Malaysia had a lot of capable and innovative start ups and scale ups that badly needed funds, but the lack of promotion and marketing activities, curbed their potential for growth.

“We have quite a number of unpolished gems.So, the value proposition is to match them with venture capitalists, so that they are aware of opportunities (for funds).

“What we need to do is bring together people with the money and people who need it,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Pitching Session For Local Technology Start-Ups and Scale-Ups yesterday.

Mustapa hoped the pitching platform would encourage more GLCs and venture capitalists to participate in an environment that is now dominated by government entities such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd and others.

He said although there were many sovereign funds in the country, some were prevented from investing in start ups and scale ups such as the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) and Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT).

“We want to encourage the digital economy and e-commerce. (Therefore) we need to change the balance (between government fund and private fund), now at 70:30 (government fund:private fund).

Our aspiration is to reverse this,” he added.

Currently, there are over 400 start ups and scale ups, most of which are primarily grouped as Digital Economy components.


iPay88 wins top Awards

Posted on : 21-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

Kuala Lumpur– iPay88 Sdn Bhd (‘iPay88’) – Malaysia’s leading online payment gateway provider in Asia, today announced that it has won two (2) prestigious awards: –

  1. The Global Responsible Business Leadership Awards 2017 for “ICT Business Strategy Excellence”;
  2. The MyClear Malaysian e-Payments Excellence Awards for “Top FPX Acquirer (non-Bank)”.

iPay88 prides itself on consistently delivering world class competitive edge services, innovation and excellence in all its products and services, for its customers. The local Malaysia company has clinched a total of 12 awards, of which 5 were obtained in 2016.

Founder and Executive Director of iPay88 – KL Chan, shares that winning the Global Responsible Business Leadership Awards 2017 puts Malaysia on the world map because the award represents the most prestigious form of recognition for companies globally in Leadership, Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Sustainability.

Receiving the Global Responsible Business Leadership Awards 2017 awards proves that iPay88 is not only responsible and yet still achieve the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit in the increasing competitive market place.” Chan says

For the Global Responsible Business Leadership Awards 2017 the organizers Global Compact Network Malaysia and Asia Pacific CSR Council, as well as the industry, nominated and selected its 36 international winners based on their commitment towards demonstrating excellence in business sustainability and leadership in the increasing competitive market place.

The nomination and winning criteria are aligned to the ten (10) principles of the United Nations Global Compact, covering the areas of Environment, Human Rights, Labor Standards and Anti-Corruption. Winners are organizations that achieved triple bottom line success in relation to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In light of the UN Millennium Development Goals, it is high time for large corporations and SMEs to be recognized for their effort in achieving corporate sustainability and social responsibility. It differentiates iPay88 as a socially responsible company.”  Chan adds

Best practices in serving eCommerce merchants

iPay88 also wins the Malaysian e-Payments Excellence Awards for Top FPX Acquirer (Non-Bank) awarded by MyClear, for 6th consecutive years.

The Malaysian e-Payments Excellence Awards is an annual and national award by MyClear (Malaysian Electronic Clearing Corporation), a Bank Negara subsidiary.

This award recognizes the outstanding achievements of banks, businesses and government agencies that have contributed significantly towards excellence, innovation and growth in e-Payments.

As the appointed Third Party Acquirer since 2012, iPay88 is entrusted to sign up good and verified merchants on behalf of local banks, after performing the necessary credit and risk assessments.

Winning this Bank Negara MyClear award is strong validation of our strength and expertise created over the years – as a single contact point for banks and financial institutions. Our hard work is recognized nationwide and by the local FSI industry as it proves iPay88’s crucial role as a Third Party Acquirer entrusted by the banks.” Chan says

Since its inception, iPay88 has continued to focus on putting their customers as their no. 1 priority, including individuals, merchants and banks, by demonstrating state-of-the-art payment platform and infrastructure for businesses across categories to process online payments quickly and securely, while ensuring seamless and hassle-free transactions.

Winning these awards represent the breadth of iPay88’s product portfolio, including auto debit, mobile point-of-sale, email payment recurring online instalment, mobile app, direct link, virtual terminal and virtual link,” adds Chan.

He is confident that iPay88 will continue to play a significant role in digitalising the Malaysian economy by converting more SMEs to expand their business online while growing the digital SME community in Malaysia.

It is important as businesses that fail to get digitally connected will soon become excluded from the global market,” says Chan.

iPay88 will also continue its leading role in the country’s eCommerce goals under the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap – which is to double the eCommerce growth of the country to 20.8 percent to touch a GDP of RM170 Billion by Year 2020.


The elegance of wooden baju Melayu buttons

Posted on : 21-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KAJANG– It was in one Ramadan three years ago that Shahmin Razali and his wife Sharifah Nursabrina Syed Hassan scoured dozens of stores and Aidilfitri bazaars all over Ampang, Shah Alam and Bangi in search of the perfect ‘butang’ (button studs) for his baju Melayu.

However, their search proved to be an exercise in futility.

“I am someone who likes to distinguish myself on Hari Raya. So that year I wanted to wear my ‘baju Melayu cekak musang’ (a stiff-collared baju Melayu with plackets) with wooden butang so that my outfit would stand out and look more traditional. I already have the usual kinds of studs that are made of gem, silver or brass.

“However, none of the stores we visited then carried butang baju Melayu that are made of wood. In fact, many seemed surprised that we would even ask for it,” the 29-year-old told Bernama.
ENTERPRISING…Kayan is the brainchild of Shahmin Razali, 29, (left) and his wife Sharifah Nursabrina Syed Hassan, The fine craftsmanship of Kayan products is the reason that it is selling like hot cakes since it first hit the market. Photo courtesy of Kraftangan Malaysia.
Who would have thought that the chain of events would result in the birth of the Kayan brand, which manufactures baju Melayu button studs made from premium wood and steel. It was the first of its kind in the country.


When met at their woodworking shop Jalan Reko, Kajang, Shahmin said his adamance to own the wooden version of the baju Melayu accessory eventually inspired him to make one himself.
Shahmin Razali demonstrates the making of a wooden butang, Photo courtesy of Kraftangan Malaysia.
“I made the first set to wear on Aidilfitri in 2015. However, I did not expect it to be such a hit among friends.

“They said it was beautiful and unique and asked me to trademark it as at the time, there was nothing of the kind in the market,” he said.

Shahmin clearly had a passion for all things wood. While demonstrating the making of a wooden butang, this writer could not help but notice that even his watch was made from wood.

This was because he believed that things made of wood had a quality of timeless elegance. It was that unique element and the belief that the product had high market value that drove Shahmin and his wife to follow through with their dream of becoming the first to invent wooden button studs for baju Melayu.


At the beginning of their business, they turned the dining room of Shahmin’s mother’s house in Kajang into a makeshift workshop as they could not own one yet due to financial constraints.

“For two years we operated from my mother’s dining room. We would only clean up when my mother is hosting a function or when Hari Raya draws near.

“Thankfully, after three years in the business we were able to own three workshops with dedicated carving machines, polisher and a laser cutter to ease the process of crafting premium wooden butang baju Melayu” he said.

Seeing how at ease he was with woodworking tools, one might that he had prior experience before venturing into the business or knowledge passed down by skilled family members.

That, however, was not the case. Neither Shahmin nor his wife had even basic knowledge of woodworking prior to the venture, much less in crafting accessories for baju Melayu. Even their academic qualifications had nothing to do with their business.

Shahmin graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the New South Wales University in Australia while his wife had a degree in Accounting and Finance from the same university.

“We had no teacher or mentor who taught us how to make the accessory. We mostly learned from YouTube videos or sourced information from the internet.

“However, we did gain some knowledge from friends with background in design. For six months we experimented to come up with a final product that is lasting and of high quality,” said Shahmin.


Crafting a butang baju Melayu requires a high degree of patience and attention to detail due to its miniature size.

The tinier a product is, the harder it is to make it, said Sharifah Nursabrina, 28.

It starts with the selection of suitable wood, followed by employing the right wood cutting technique. Then there is the search for a strong and lasting adhesive and the drying and polishing process, all of which would contribute to the high quality of a Kayan product.

“Not all types of wood are suitable to be made into butang baju Melayu. Some wood becomes splintered when you cut it into tiny sizes and that makes it unsuitable for the purpose. For example, the kemuning wood has a beautiful orangey yellow hue but it easily fragments when cut too small,” she explained.

The more suitable wood types include those grown locally and overseas but Shahmin had to travel quite a bit to find a local supplier.

“My husband had to go as far as to Kedah and Terengganu to source for the right kind of wood. Among our favourites are maple, walnut, rosewood, oak, jati, kembang semangkuk and nyireh batu.

“We also had difficulty finding the right kind of adhesive. Many available baju Melayu button studs are made almost entirely out of steel and so crafters use the soldering process to join pieces together. However, ours is a wooden product that has to be adhered to steel, so we cannot use that process. Instead, we have to find the right kind of glue strong enough to hold the two elements together for a long time,” he said.

She added that the polishing process was also an intricate procedure so as to ensure that each Kayan product was uniform in size, without even the slightest of variation.


The fine craftsmanship of Kayan products is the reason that it is selling like hot cakes since it first hit the market. It started with only four designs and today boasts 21 exclusive designs.

Kayan is registered with Kraftangan Malaysia and is now also involved in the production of brooches and cufflinks.

“In addition to selling on our website and Instagram page, our products can also be found on Zalora, Fashion Valet and at Mood Republic. There is also a demand for our products in Brunei and Singapore.

“Due to the huge demand for Kayan products, we decided to quit our jobs so that we could focus entirely on developing Kayan products.

“Before that, we had dedicated our nights and weekends to working on our products,” said the mother of one who previously worked in the banking sector while her husband, in logistics.

This Aidilfitri, Kayan is featuring four new and exclusive designs namely Legend, Ombre, Duo and Maple, sold at between RM70 and RM149 a set.


Govt to focus on services sector exports: Mustapa

Posted on : 20-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR― The government is increasing its focus on the services sector exports in an effort to diversify Malaysia’s trade portfolio.

International Trade and Industry (Miti) Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said the ministry would be more aggressive in encouraging the growth of the services sector, especially in the creative industry.

He said the Malaysian creative industry boasted of highly-skilled artists who had produced internationally-recognised products, such as Upin and Ipin and Ejen Ali.

“We have to look at exports in the services sector from a wider context.

“Although the creative media are quite small, we have products such as Upin and Ipin which are known in Indonesia and several other countries,” he told reporters after launching Miti’s 2016 Annual Report here today.

Also present was Second Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

Aside from the creative industry, Mustapa said, several other industries in the services sector also had great growth potential, such as legal services and construction services.

“We are still importing legal services, we can source some of it from outside the country, but if there is a huge imbalance between imports and exports of legal services, this means that we have to strengthen our legal services capabilities to be at par with those in other countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mustapa said, the trade growth target would be at five per cent this year on the back of geopolitical challenges and volatility in oil prices.

“Given all these uncertainties, we are maintaining the forecast of five per cent growth in trade.

“Although it has been more than 20 per cent in the first four months, this is no guarantee this will be sustained,” he said.


Wealthy Chinese rise to 1.6mln in past decade, up nearly 9 times – survey

Posted on : 20-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

The number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in China has risen nearly 9 times since a decade ago, a private survey released on Tuesday showed, as strong growth in the world’s second-largest economy has spurred wealth creation.

Chinese with at least 10 million yuan ($1.47 million) of investable assets hit 1.6 million in 2016, up from 180,000 in 2006, according to the 2017 China Private Wealth Report by Bain Consulting and China Merchants Bank. The overall value of the private wealth market increased to 165 trillion yuan in 2016, growing at 21 percent annually in 2014-2016.

But the growth rate of China’s private wealth market is expected to decline to 14 percent in 2017 to a total size of 188 trillion yuan.

Around 120,000 HNWIs had at least 100 million yuan worth of investable assets, up from less than 10,000 people in 2006.

The percentage of HNWIs with overseas investment increased to 56 percent in 2017, up from 19 percent in 2011, but the overall percentage of assets invested overseas has stabilized since 2013.

The top five destinations for overseas investment were Hong Kong, the United States, Australia and Canada although Hong Kong’s popularity fell 18 percent and the United States dropped 3 percent from 2015 to 2017.

Respondents said their top three reasons for investing overseas were to diversify investment risks, to capture market opportunities of overseas investments and to migrate.

Sixty-three percent of rich Chinese rely on financial service providers to manage their domestic financial assets and among them, around half use private banking services provided by commercial banks.

China’s wealthy are concentrated in major cities and coastal areas, the survey found, but now 22 Chinese provinces have at least 20,000 HNWIs. Most respondents said their top priorities. were “wealth preservation” and “wealth inheritance”, in contrast to 2009 when nearly half of HNWIs surveyed said “wealth creation” or “quality of life” were their main goals.

($1 = 6.8166 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong and Shu Zhang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)


Malaysia-Japan bilateral relations offer huge potential

Posted on : 20-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: The strengthening of bilateral economic relations between Malaysia and Japan offers huge potential for both countries, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“Malaysia, with its diversified, robust and open economy is the perfect gateway to Asean for Japanese firms,” he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) yesterday.

Najib said the government would work closely with the Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyagawa, to facilitate the entry of more investors and tourists from the country.

In 2016, Japan ranked Malaysia as its fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade at RM120 billion.

The Prime Minister said the strong trade and investment relations between both nations were underpinned by the Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

Malaysia and Japan will mark the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this year.

In giving an example of Malaysia-Japan collaboration, Najib quoted the BBCC project which has managed to attract the leading real estate group in the land of the rising sun, Mitsui Fudisan Co Ltd, to invest in what will be the mega project’s RM1.6 billion retail mall.

Located on a 7.85 hectare site on what was the old Pudu Jail, the BBCC is worth RM8.7 billion in gross development value.

It comprises a retail mall, an entertainment hub, a four-star hotel, two blocks of strata offices, and five blocks of serviced apartments, and a 80-storey three-in-one signature tower housing corporate offices, which has a five-star hotel and luxury residences.

Phase one, involving 50 per cent of the project,  is scheduled for completion by December 2020.

Najib said BBCC together with Mitsui Mall is yet another model of how Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme is bearing fruit in terms of attracting foreign investments.

He pointed out that the Japanese were already among the top foreign buyers for the residential units in the BBCC project.

“Malaysia remains the top retirement destination for Japanese, thanks to our stable economic and political environment, temperate climate and affordable living standards,” he said.

As an open and diversified country, Najib said Malaysia continued to be an attractive investment destination.

“We welcome foreign direct investments, irrespective of whether from Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, the United States or Singapore.

“If you add value to the Malaysian economy, provide more jobs, bring in new technologies and add to the export value, among others, you are certainly very welcome to invest in the country,” he added.


Japanese workerslimber up with monkey bars, radio drills

Posted on : 20-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Uncategorized

At the stroke of 1 p.m,, a group of Tokyo IT workers spring from their desks for a few minutes of rigorous bending, stretching and thrusting in repetition as a booming voice on the radio counts: “ichi, ni, san…”

The suited staff are taking part in a regular calisthenics drill implemented by Adoc International, while over at electrical equipment firm Fujikura, the staff can be seen dangling from multicolored monkey bars.

A growing number of firm are encouraging exercise breaks, to keep employees limber — and productive — as the nation contends with a shrinking labor pool and one of the world’s fastest aging populations.

“Japan’s population is quickly getting older and there are fewer and fewer kids — this is a very big risk for companies,” said Kenichiro Asano, who works in Fujikura’s health care strategy group.

With this issue in mind, companies are looking to keep staff healthy in the hope they’ll work past the usual retirement age.

“Keeping workers in shape is an important corporate strategy,” said Asano, adding, “Good health means a sound society and a sound company.”

Adoc International’s staff practice rajio taiso, a stretching routine often learned in schools and that dates back to the 1920s.

“We chose rajio taiso because it was the simplest exercise to put in place,” said Clifton Lay, who works in Adoc International’s human resources department.

“Most Japanese and people who grew up here already know it,” he added.

Instructions for the three-minute exercise are also played daily on NHK, with different routines tailored for the elderly and disabled.

Automaker Toyota has its own in-house version, while Sony employees are supposed to join in a group stretch at 3 p.m. daily, although it’s not mandatory.

At e-commerce giant Rakuten, some 12,000 moveable desks were installed when it moved its head office. Workers can switch between standing and sitting throughout the day.

“I get tired easily when I’m sitting too long so it’s nice to be able to stand up from time to time,” said 35-year-old Rakuten engineer Liu Xiaolu.

More companies need to adopt a health-focused mindset, said Koichiro Oka, a professor of health behavior science at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“If you think it is all right not to move much on weekdays because you’re exercising on weekends, you’d be wrong,” he said.

“A lack of exercise during the week can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other health problems,” he explained.

Rajio taiso is considered by many as Japanese tradition, although the idea was borrowed from a program at a U.S. insurance firm.

It spread quickly throughout Japan, as offices and schools got into the routine.

The daily radio broadcast was temporarily banned following Japan’s defeat in World War II because it was seen as being too militaristic. But it was reintroduced in 1951.

Today, as many as 28 million Japanese are believed to take part daily.

“Doing these exercises in the morning when you arrive at work or just after lunch — when your head is not completely into working — lets you get ready and say ‘OK let’s do the job,’” said Adoc’s Lay.


Malaysian economic fundamentals strong

Posted on : 20-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s economic fundamentals remain strong and the country is well on the way towards achieving the developed nation status.

According to report published by the Statistics Department every five years, the number of companies operating in Malaysia had grown by 6.8 per cent to 920,624 in 2015, compared with 663,010 in 2010.

Chief Statistician, Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, said the companies had generated value-added of RM983 billion in 2015, with the services sector accounting for 88.9 per cent of the amount.

“Among the industries which had generated the highest amount in added-value is the petroleum and natural gas extraction industry, with RM92.3 billion,” he told reporters during the 2016 Economic Census press conference here today.

Mohd Uzir said this was in line with the country’s rapid economic growth between 2010-2015.

Currently, he said, the services sector remained as the main contributor to the nation’s economic structure at 52.6 per cent, up from 51.6 per cent in 2010, followed by the manufacturing sector which contributed 26.3 per cent, compared to 25.6 per cent previously.

“The government is also actively working towards strengthening the services sector which it sees as being the main driver of the country’s growth, especially with the formulation of the Small and Medium Enterprises Masterplan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector recorded the highest output for the first time of RM1.1 trillion with value added of RM259.2 billion and involved 2.1 million workers.

Mohd Uzir said Malaysia has a competitive advantage when it involved the manufacturing sector, as many local manufacturing companies were also active in the international markets, in addition to having the latest technology at their behest.

“We believe that Malaysia will be able to achieve a high-income status nation despite the global economic challenges,” he said.


First flying car set for take off in 2018

Posted on : 19-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

KUCHING: CIMB Bank Bhd (CIMB Bank) and Lazada Malaysia have entered into a strategic partnership to introduce an exciting Mastercard prepaid card which can be approved online, making it the fastest and most convenient prepaid card for the digitally savvy shopper.

The card offers great cash rebates as well as merchant discounts to reward customers when they shop at Lazada, the number one online retailer in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

The card is available online on CIMB Clicks and the Lazada website. Upon the issuance of the virtual 16-digit card number, customers can start shopping almost right away. Subsequently, they will be issued with a physical CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard for offline spending and banking facilities in Malaysia, including ATM cash withdrawals and internet/mobile banking.

Chief executive officer, Group Consumer Banking, CIMB Group Samir Gupta said, “We are proud to partner with Lazada and Mastercard on this fully digital co-brand card, to bring unique benefits and great convenience to our customers.

“The online shopping segment in Malaysia and Southeast Asia is expanding rapidly and we are excited to contribute to this growth story. This fits into our overall digital strategy to lead in the e-commerce payment ecosystem, as we go the extra mile to enhance our customers’ experience by making it easier, more efficient and more secure for them to shop online.”

With this card, customers will enjoy a one per cent cash rebate, capped at RM25 per month for online Lazada purchases at Other non-Lazada purchases are eligible for a 0.50 per cent cash rebate up to RM25 per month.

In addition, from now until December 5, 2017, customers can enjoy the first-year annual fee waiver and an additional 15 per cent bonus cash rebate, capped at RM25 per month for purchases from Lazada.

“We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with CIMB Bank in launching this virtual co brand Mastercard. This collaboration ties in with Lazada’s commitment to continuously improve consumers’ shopping experience online through exceptional customer service, a wider variety of products and a range of payment solutions.

“With Lazada’s Riang Ria Raya campaign happening from now until 30 June, this card would enable consumers to shop for their Raya needs while enjoying a secure and hassle free experience on our platform,” said Hans-Peter Ressel, CEO of Lazada Malaysia.

“The Mastercard Online Shopping Study 2017 showed that eight in 10 consumers across Asia Pacific intend to make at least one online purchase in the first half of this year.

“The continued interest and optimistic online shopping attitude showcases the potential innovative e-payments have to support the burgeoning growth of the e-commerce industry.

“The CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard has a strong and relevant customer proposition, combining the convenience, safety and efficiency that consumers value with a range of unique benefits that match their lifestyle demands,” added Perry Ong, country manager, Malaysia and Brunei, Mastercard.

The CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard is exclusively available to all existing CIMB customers. CIMB customers who have yet to have access to CIMB Clicks can simply logon to to register for CIMB Clicks first prior to applying online for the CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard.


SME Corp disburses RM5.63 bln for SMEs

Posted on : 19-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KOTA BHARU— SME Corp has disbursed RM5.63 billion in grants and loans to 43,094 small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) nationwide as of May 31 this year, said Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

He said the amount was disbursed via various programmes such as the Bumiputera Enterprise Enhancement Programme, Bumiputera Export Promotion Programme and Bumiputera Youth Entrepreneurial Programme.

“This is part of SME Corp’s ongoing effort to achieve the nation’s target set for entrepreneurs,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad said this to reporters after attending the Kelantan Entrepreneurs Casual Chat Programme here today.

He said there were 645,136 SME entrepreneurs nationwide, adding that efforts were being made to increase the number of Bumiputera entrepreneurs as they only owned 37 per cent of SME companies in the country.

“Right now there are 38,064 SMEs in Kelantan, 92 per cent of which are micro-businesses with less than five workers, and less than RM300,000 in sales per annum,” he said, adding that he hoped the micro-businesses in Kelantan would be able to upgrade themselves to achieve the small entrepreneurs status.

Ahmad said the ministry would also help the state’s entrepreneurs affected by issues such as financing, marketing, lack of fresh water supply, increase in operational costs and the monsoon floods.

“I hope SME entrepreneurs would take advantage of the assistance provided through various government agencies,” he said.


ASEAN and China beckon for Proton with Geely

Posted on : 19-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR – The Asean countries and China are now within reach for Proton to market its cars following its recent strategic partnership deal with China’s Geely Holding Group Co Ltd, said geo-strategist, Dr Azmi Hassan.

“One thing is clear from the start, Geely is aiming for the global market as this has been its business model all along. To begin with, Malaysia is well on its way to becoming the gateway to the Asean market” he told Bernama today.

In Geely, which among other things fully owns Volvo, the Malaysian national carmaker could not have asked for a better partner, he added.

He agreed with views that going into partnership with Geely in facing the highly competitive world car market was the best thing to have happened to Proton Holdings Bhd in its entire history.

DRB-Hicom Bhd Group Managing Director, Datuk Seri Faisal Albar, said recently that Geely had proved to be a committed partner in all its ventures, helping each of the companies that it acquired a stake in to turn around with appropriate levels of financial investments plus a heavy dose of injection in technology and innovation.

Dr Azmi said in the car manufacturing business, it did not make any sense for a player to go it alone and this was particularly so for Proton which had all along been struggling to make ends meet by selling cars mainly to the domestic market.

“To let Proton to continue selling only for the domestic market will only lead to its demise. It’s critical that it is able to capture the Asean market especially now that tariff barriers within the region have been removed. I can see that Geely is aiming for Malaysia via Proton to establish its footprints in Asean,”‘ he said.

He described Asean, with some 600 million people, as a fast-growing car market and with Geely, which made one million cars annually globally, Proton would also be able to better produce quality cars at lower prices, thanks to economies of scale.

“As a Malaysian, I, too, consider myself as having a stake in Proton and I see Geely’s business model as very fitting for Malaysians who regard Proton as our national icon,” he said.


M’sia’s economy to continue steady growth momentum

Posted on : 18-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s economy will continue its steady first quarter (1Q) growth momentum into the subsequent quarters, in line with that of most advanced economies, according to an economist.

Sunway University Business School’s Economics Professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng, said the latest Purchasing Managers Index readings of most advanced and large emerging economies, such as China and India, remained in positive territory, thus will have spillover effect on other countries, including Malaysia.

“We expect the global tailwinds will sustain Malaysia’s growth momentum and importantly, we anticipate positive spillovers from higher exports to domestic private investment and consumption activities at least in the second and third quarter,” he told Bernama.

The key channels of transmission, he said, would be through income increases, improved investor sentiment and firmer consumer confidence, all which were buoyed by the better employment and wage prospects (as both export and domestic-oriented industries were lifted by higher spending).

The World Bank had revised upwards Malaysia’s 2017 economic growth to 4.9 per cent from the 4.4 per cent forecast in April, driven by strong private consumption following improving labour market conditions.

Its country director for Southeast Asia, Ulrich Zachau, said the revision, which echoed Malaysia’s economic growth of 5.6 per cent in Q1 this year, included increasing private investments and major government-led infrastructure projects as contributing factors.

It also revised the forecast growth for 2018 and 2019 to 4.9 per cent and five per cent respectively. The forecast for 2017 is an increase from the previous forecast, and slightly above the government’s projection range of 4.3 per cent to 4.8 per cent… and this is in line with consensus estimates, which expect a faster expansion in the economy.

Responding to this, Yeah said, a stronger lift from exports and bigger spillover effect on domestic demand as investors and consumers become more confident to spend, would be the key factors that could result in a stronger-than-expected growth projected for this year.

Meanwhile,  measures introduced by Bank Negara Malaysia to clamp down on currency speculators who had been using offshore market non-deliverable forwards to speculate on the ringgit, had paid off with the currency improving and foreign portfolio investors coming back.

Yeah, however, said some key external risks likely to threaten the growth targets, namely the protectionist policies in the US that President Donald Trump, may push through a faster-than-expected pace of interest rate normalisation and balance sheet reduction by the US Federal Reserve.

“Other challenges include a disorderly exit of Britain from the European Union or the so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ and a widening conflict among Gulf Cooperation Council members following isolation of Qatar.

“Internally, the rising living and business costs, currency weakness and political uncertainties arising from the forthcoming general elections that will be held later this year or latest by next April are some of the key challenges facing the economy,” he said.


Talents contribute to building Malaysia’s first MRT

Posted on : 18-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

(ADVERTORIAL) A TYPICAL day at work for most people involves a 9-to-5 job at the office.

But for the young talents of MMC Gamuda (a joint venture of Malaysia’s most decorated construction and engineering companies MMC Corporation Berhad and Gamuda Berhad), their daily routine revolves around building Malaysia’s fi rst Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project – the KVMRT (Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line MRT (Line 1).

The 51km MRT Line 1, which runs from Sungai Buloh through Kuala Lumpur before ending in Kajang, comprises both elevated and underground portions; the latter of which involves tunnelling more than 40 metres deep into the heart of busy Kuala Lumpur city.

Various professionals ranging from architects and planners to safety managers and engineers were hired when the project commenced in 2011 with Phase One of MRT Line 1 from Sungai Buloh to Semantan operational on December 16, 2016.

Phase Two running from Semantan Station to Kajang Station will be operational in July 2017.

Prior to the implementation of MRT in the country, foreign expertise were often called upon for any underground infrastructure projects.

But this has all changed with MRT Line 1 where talented Malaysians play a pivotal role in Malaysia’s largest infrastructure project.

One of these bright young talents is none other than Arziah Mohd Ahsim, a fellow Sarawakian who works as a specialist instructor in the project.

“My job involves conducting fire safety training for all site employees working underground on MRT Line 1,” said the 30-year-old who hails from Mukah.

The training, she explained, is held once a week with a maximum of ten trainees per class and comprises two stages – the first involves flashover fire fighting where everything burns in a confined space, while the second stage involves a tunnel fire scenario.

Arziah added that the underground fire training uses actual fire.

Now, Arziah holds the distinction of being the only certified female flashover training instructor in Malaysia.

When the role was fi rst offered to her, Arziah admitted that she did not feel confi dent that she would be able to handle the job but thanks to her supervisor’s faith and encouragement, this all changed.

“I love my job and cannot think of being in any other industry because I feel empowered to be doing something so important for the MRT project.”

She also felt encouraged that managers and engineers on the MRT project paid more attention to housekeeping rules after she informed them that fi res can be sparked by the tiniest and least expected of things.

While the construction industry is often typically stereotyped as a man’s world, the MRT project is seeing women like Arziah who are challenging the norm and making their mark in this industry as skilled and educated talents.

A Gamuda scholar, Noor Affida Raffika Mohd Nazari was deployed at the Maluri Station during the construction of MRT Line 1 for four years as a site engineer and has been serving as KLCC East underground station section head since the middle of last year.

“I’ve always wanted to be an engineer since young and I joined MMC Gamuda upon completing my studies at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia in Batu Pahat, Johor,” she said.

In fact, she relishes the nature of the project, welcoming the challenges that came with it like interfacing with surrounding stakeholders in the vicinity of her stations.

She also attributed her success in growing from a site engineer to a section head in less than five years to all the developmental and training programmes that she has received with MMC Gamuda “I feel the opportunity to grow is there for all to see and I feel blessed that I have been able to develop my skill and talent with the company,” she expressed.

As Noor Affida and Arziah broke down barriers and overcame challenges in the industry, Ahmad Faizuddin Abu Bakar on the other hand, had to assure his family members who initially thought that his work on the MRT project involved the 3Ds (dangerous, dirty and diffi cult).

“When I joined MMC Gamuda as a graduate scholar four-and-ahalf years ago to work on the MRT project, some of my relatives thought I would be manually shovelling through the dirt underground,” recalled the 29-year-old from Besut, Terengganu who studied engineering at the prestigious Imperial College London.

On the contrary, Faizuddin’s job scope as a senior engineer is to ensure the station’s electrical services design and building process is carried out smoothly.

“As a fresh graduate on the job, I found it challenging in the first few years to review drawings on electrical design produced by consultants,” he said.

But as time went by, he honed his skills and the review process became easier.

“I am very proud of my role and often tell my friends and university mates that I am working for the biggest public transportation project in the country,” expressed Faizuddin, who became a keen advocate of the benefits of public transportation during his student days in London and hopes to see Malaysia’s public transport network emulate it one day.

As for Ruslan Mohamed, he is elated to be working on the MRT project for many reasons.

One of his most cherished experiences was being given the opportunity to be sent to Schwanau, Germany to gain knowhow on the operations of the tunnel boring machines (TBM).

“Five of us were sent for one-month training in Germany and we were the inaugural batch of staff working on MRT Line 1 to be sent there.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to gain valuable insight on TBMs from the Germans,” he reminisced.

As Section head (Mechanical and Electrical) for MRT Line 1, Ruslan’s role is a carry through from the design and technical team, where he handles operations as well as coordinates with suppliers and contractors to ensure works are done within the set time frame and cost.

“The stations are also smart buildings where everything is remotely controlled through a communication system from a control centre,” he explained.

For instance, one does not have to go to a particular station to switch on the lights as it can be remotely done by the click of a button from a control centre.

The 43-year-old said despite having 20 years’ work experience in the M&E sector, working on the MRT was the most defi ning moment of his career.

“This is because I got to learn a lot of new things especially in relation to tunnelling.”

He also pointed out that working underground was especially challenging in terms of space constraints and making sure there were no clashes.

With handover of Phase Two expected over the next few weeks, Ruslan is currently involved in testing and commissioning works.

Asked if he would be involved in MRT Line 2 which is the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line that is scheduled for completion in 2022, the enthusiastic engineer replied with a resounding “Yes!”


CIMB introduces 1-month paid paternity leave

Posted on : 18-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Bank Bhd (CIMB) has introduced a one-month long paid paternity leave, to allow fathers working with the bank to spend more time with their firstborn and share parental responsibilities in welcoming their baby into the world.

Effective from today, the paid paternity leave will be increased from previous three consecutive working days to one month (30 consecutive calendar days), the bank said in a statement.

It said that the new enhanced policy complements the bank’s staff rejuvenation programme, which allows employees to take up to six months of unpaid leave for personal reasons, including extended maternity/paternity leave, and maintain their current position at the bank.

CIMB Group’s chief people officer Datuk Hamidah Naziadin said the company hopes that with the longer paternity leave, eligible staff will have a stronger bond with their firstborn and able to provide a supportive parental role.

“Welcoming a child into the family is both joyful and overwhelming experience particularly for new parents. CIMB wants the staff to feel assured that they are supported in achieving a work-life balance,”

“This is yet another initiative to show how CIMB values its employees reflecting our overall effort to embrace global best practices on human resources management,” she said.

As part of its commitment towards staff well-being, CIMB had recently set aside RM1 billion for its programme to assist lower income employees in their housing loans.

The interest-free housing loan period is for a maximum of five years, or three years for completed properties.