Agrobazaar continues to help states promote agro-based products in Singapore

Posted on : 28-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

SINGAPORE: Agrobazaar, an entity owned by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), continues to serve as a sales and promotion centre in Singapore for agro-based industry products from all Malaysian states.

It was recently a venue for the launch of the Perak Plate and Visit Perak Year 2017 Promotion in Singapore by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

For this year alone, Agrobazaar has been the venue for three other states namely Sarawak, Melaka and Terengganu in promoting their respective agrobased products.

“Agrobazaar will be a good opportunity for Perak businesses to enter the Singaporean market with their products,” said Dr Zambry during the launch.

“I believe the time is absolutely perfect and our agro-based products, such as snacks, drinks, cordials, frozen food and seafood, which have gone through a rigorous selection and quality assessment process, will surely impress any Singaporean with an appreciation for the arts and quality ingredients,” he said.

Zambry noted that there are 69 agro-based products stock keeping units (SKUs) from 30 small and medium businesses from throughout Perak at the Agrobazaar here.

“Perak is anticipating an increase in the number of agrobased products as we look into upgrading the quality of our product preparation, quality, packaging and certification.

“I hope all agencies, especially FAMA and state agencies alike, are open to working together with the state government of Perak to build and expand the agro-based industry even further,” said the Mentri Besar.

Zambry said Perak Plate is a campaign that will put forth the very best local offerings from small-scale industries with a package twist in the form of agrotourism.

At the Agrobazaar here, Singaporeans can find all the amazing food products from Perak from Dec 20, 2016 to Jan 12, 2017, for them to sample.

Aside from packaged goods, Singaporeans would be able to experience a tantalising taste of ‘Rendang Tok’, ‘Ayam Garam’, ‘Laksa Telur Sarang’, ‘Mee Kicap’, ‘Putu Perak’, ‘Daging Rempah Masak Hitam’, ‘Penjan Ubi’, ‘Bubur Anak Lebah’ and ‘Ikan Pekasam’.

Located at Sultan Gate, Agrobazaar was officially launched on Aug 27, 2014 by both Prime Ministers Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Lee Hsien Loong.

Singapore is a choice location for the Agrobazaar given that it is the primary market for Malaysian agro-food products.

Singapore has a fairly large affluent society with a high rate of labour participation. It has a population of more than 5.0 million, with a large number of expatriates.


FCAS (Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah) Chinese New Year Carnival on Jan 23-26

Posted on : 28-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: The Chinese New Year Carnival jointly organized by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) and Kota Kinabalu City Hall will be held at Padang Merdeka on January 23 to 26, from 6pm to 11pm.

The carnival was supposed to be held at Gaya Street on January 20 to 22 before the organizing committee decided to move the dates and venue.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman will officiate at the opening ceremony of the carnival on January 23, while Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang, will officiate at the closing ceremony on January 26.

Meanwhile, the FCAS Social and Welfare Bureau will host a dinner for senior citizens and orphans on January 24, at which the Chief Minister’s spouse Datin Seri Panglima Faridah Tussin will give away ang pows and goodie bags as a sign of respect for the elderly.

On the other hand, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah will grace the event on January 25.

FCAS President Datuk Seri Panglima Dr T.C. Goh said the organizing committee, headed by the federation’s Vice President Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, has been formed and was currently in the midst of preparing for the event.

He said carnival would present an exciting line-up of entertainment programmes such as singing and dancing by school students, traditional Chinese cultural shows, as well as dragon and lion dance performances.

“Apart from booths selling Chinese New Year goods and foodstuff, we are also holding four open competitions namely children’s talent contest, singing competition, dance competition and cheongsam pageant contest.

“We hope to attract people of all age groups to the carnival where the people can celebrate Chinese New Year together,” he said that after a meeting with Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai at City Hall.

Although the carnival was moved to a later date to fit into the Chief Minister’s schedule, Goh said the event would be equally exciting and joyous as previous years.

“With days to go before Chinese New Year, I believe folk in the city will find themselves immersed in strong festive atmosphere as we enter the Year of the Rooster.”

Goh added that carnival goers could also continue their Chinese New Year shopping at the night market after the carnival ended on January 26.

He said Chinese New Year is a major and most important festival celebrated by the Chinese community.

As such, Goh urged Chinese leaders and people to join in the four-day carnival.

“Let us show the strong unity of the Chinese community and together make an effort in preserving and promoting our culture.”

Also present were FCAS Vice Presidents Datuk Chua Soon Ping and Datuk Agnes Shim.


Smooth sailing ahead for rubber industry

Posted on : 27-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Analysts are generally bullish on the performance of the rubber products sector for the year ahead, underpinned by its strengthening fundamentals.

In a strategy report for 2017, the research arm of CIMB Investment Bank Bhd (CIMB Research) highlighted that external environment in terms of a strong US dollar is once again in the favour of glove manufacturers, coupled with sector’s better supply-demand dynamics.

In addition, it pointed out that the sector’s risk-reward profile has turned attractive.

“Moving into 2017, US dollar is expected to further strengthen given potential Fed rate hikes on the cards and possible bond outflows.

“This will lead to a more conducive environment for glove makers to operate in, in our view,” the research firm opined.

It added, as the ringgit has depreciated more against the US dollar compared with other glove manufacturing countries, this is expected aid in the competitiveness of Malaysia’s glove sector globally.

“Hence, we expect more demand for glove exports, leading to better supply-demand dynamics.

“This will alleviate the persisting pricing competition as additional demand will take up the excess capacity that led to the oversupply situation in the first nine months of 2016 (9M16),” it remarked.

Meanwhile, on the glove sector’s average selling price (ASP), Maybank Investment Bank Bhd’s research arm (Maybank IB Research) believed that while high raw material prices might persist into 2017, the earnings growth momentum could be sustained in the first half of 2017 (1H17) due to the cost pass through mechanism and the presently high US dollar against the ringgit.

“However, over-expansion and intense ASP competition could recur in 2H17, leading to compression of margins/ earnings again,” it cautioned.

It added, “As we expect the demand-supply situation to be relatively balanced in 1H, we believe that the glove producers can pass on the higher costs in two to three months.

“However, come 2H17, the higher costs could take longer to pass through, when massive capacity kicks in at the same time, hence, margins may erode.”

On the other hand, CIMB Research believed that although concerns over aggressive ramp-up in sector’s capacity in the next two to three years still persist, glove makers have committed to take preventative measures to mitigate the oversupply situation.

“Top Glove and Hartalega have indicated plans to begin commercial production from their new lines on a more gradual basis, subject to market’s supply-demand dynamics. Furthermore, Kossan may further undertake revamp works on its older lines, offsetting the new capacity coming onboard if pricing pressure persists,” it opined.

As for the outlook for the overall rubber products sector, RHB Research Sdn Bhd (RHB Research) expect rubber product manufacturers to record stronger earnings for 2017.

This is on the back of improving industry demand-supply dynamics as well as the resumption of capacity expansion.

“The recovery in the cost passthrough mechanism has allowed manufacturers to raise glove ASP (three to five per cent hike in glove ASP at the end of June 2016) to successfully offset the increment in labour costs (minimum wage hike 11 per cent to RM1,000 as of July 1) as well as utilities costs (gas tariff hiked six per cent to RM27.05MMBtu as of July 15) at the end of July.

“We believe this would help sustain operating margins given the higher raw material costs in 4Q16,” it said.

The research firm forecast the 2017 Malaysian supply to grow 11.8 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), which is higher than the generally accepted global glove demand growth of six to 10 per cent per annum.

“Assuming no delays in scheduled capacity expansion plans, we opine that there is a possibility that the industry’s demand-supply dynamics might be disrupted towards the end-2017/ beginning 2018,” it added.

All in, RHB Research said, “We believe industry fundamentals are improving after the competitionled ASP pressures in 1H16.

“Healthier demand-supply dynamicswillallowmanufacturers to pass on incremental cost and sustain operating margins.

“This would be timely given the higher raw materials cost in 4Q16. The stronger US dollar foreign exchange (forex) would also be a boon as rubber manufacturers are predominantly exporters and hence, net US dollar beneficiaries.

“Nonetheless, we maintain our ‘neutral’ recommendation on valuation grounds.”

Similarly, Maybank IB Research pegged a ‘neutral’ view on the sector. On the other hand, CIMB Research maintained its ‘overweight’ call on the sector.

It explained, “With improved supply-demand dynamics and a more favourable operating environment from the weak ringgit, the worst is over for the sector, with glove makers set to record sequentially stronger earnings moving forward.”


Chan Furniture aims to open 100 outlets by 2020

Posted on : 27-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local Business

KOTA KINABALU: Chan Furniture has become one of the leading furniture and electrical merchandize chain stores in Malaysia.

Despite its success, the company will continue to work hard and achieve its vision that will benefit the nation and community as a whole. With more new branches being opened up, the company believes this effort can bridge the unemployment rate among locals.

Chan Furniture’s mission is to open a few new branches a year and achieve considerable growth on overall total sales turnover annually.

“We believe that the best synergy formula for success is on elements that involve good customer service,

loyal customer support, affordable price, wider product ranges, easy payment scheme and dedicated loyal workforce,” it said in a statement yesterday in conjunction with its 30th anniversary celebration recently.

Chan Furniture has 74 outlets throughout the country with 17 in Sabah, 10 in Sarawak, 11 in Johor , 10 in Selangor, 11 in Melaka, six in Northern and nine in East Coast.

It aims to open up to 100 outlets by the year 2020.

With the continuous expansion program, the company has also introduced showroom based career option to aspiring Malaysians who are interested to develop their career in the retail industry.

Among the most sought after posts include management trainee which serves as the starting platform to other posts, including product manager.

Currently Chan Furniture has a total of 1,100 full-time staff and most of them have been serving for more than 10 years with the company.


ICT sector displays splendid performance in 2016

Posted on : 27-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR– The information and communications technology (ICT) sector displayed a splendid performance in 2016 with advancements in digital inclusivity, e-commerce and Big Data Analytics (BDA).

Of significance, the year also saw the appointment of Ali Baba Group founder, Jack Ma, as the country’s digital economy adviser to the government by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in November 2016.

Ma, a self-made billionaire and a great innovator, will advise and assist in exploring, developing and charting the future direction of the country’s digital economy.

What more, 2017 has been announced as ‘The Year of Internet Economy’ with Najib underlining five strategic catalysts — physical microcosms, risk capital funding, connectivity, talent and regulatory framework — to enhance the Internet economy.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) Chief Operating Officer, Datuk Ng Wan Peng, said the e-commerce segment was expected to contribute 5.8 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year, 0.6 per cent short of the target set for 2020.

“This indicates the success of the various initiatives implemented to help grow the digital economy.

“Through the digital inclusivity efforts, which include the e-Rezeki and e-Usahawan programmes, the digital economy contributed 17.8 per cent to the nation’s GDP in 2015 and have benefited over 100,000 Malaysians,” she told Bernama.

“The target set for 2020 is 18.2 per cent contribution to the GDP,” she said.

Ng said that as of August 2016, Malaysia became home to 22 multinational BDA companies from six countries, a testament to the nation’s steady progress as a leading BDA solutions hub in South-East Asia.

Following the increased awareness and adoption of BDA among the local industry players this year, the 2020 target demand for data scientists and data professionals has been revised to 2,000 and 16,000 respectively from 1,500 and 15,000 respectively.

In fact, the data centre sector recorded a 10 per cent growth as more providers moved away from the traditional business solutions to a more holistic and digitally-led solutions.

As the lead agency responsible for driving Malaysia’s digital economy, Ng said, MSC Malaysia (formerly the Multimedia Super Corridor) recorded high investment growth from MSC-status companies since its inception in 1996.

As of Nov 30, 2016, investments received stood at RM7.94 billion of which 44 per cent were foreign direct investments.

Interestingly, the first Digital Free-Trade Zone (DFZ) in the world that will be launched jointly with Ma in March next year will merge physical and virtual zones, with additional online and digital services to facilitate international e-commerce and invigorate Internet-based innovation.

“DFZ will help secure global e-trade activities in Malaysia and simultaneously boost local small and medium enterprises towards a global stage.

“It also aims to encourage the establishment of start-ups, which are the backbone of our economy,” said Ng.

The implementation of DFZ was unveiled in the 2017 Budget by Najib, who is also Finance Minister.

She said MDEC would also collaborate with the private sector to look forward to see the establishment of a new category of certified locations, called the Malaysia Digital Hubs, for the start-up community in 2017.

This would allow start-up community to enjoy the benefits of the MSC Bill of Guarantees, including tax incentives, she said.

“For 2017, we hope to seize opportunities that will accelerate the growth of Internet economy.

“Additionally, the appointment of Ma as our digital economy adviser will help in achieving our goals and strengthen Malaysia’s proposition as the ideal Internet economy in the Association of South-East Asian Nations,” said Ng.

Meanwhile, the National ICT Association of Malaysia expected the GDP growth for this year to be lower at 4.2 per cent and that in 2017 four per cent.

Its Chairman, Chin Chee Seong, said this was due to the volatility of the currency exchange, the unexpected outcomes of Brexit (British exit from the European Union) vote and the US presidential election, as well as the uncertain future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

He said ICT retailers and distributors were the most affected by the situation when the ringgit weakened as most hardware items were imported.

“Although there was demand for hardware items, especially in the corporate sector, growth was almost flat as more people are moving towards online shopping, thus seeing a stronger growth in software items,” he said.

Beside that, cautious consumer sentiment over spending has also an impact on the retailers and the distribution channels.

“However, it may not be as bad as in 2015 where there were about 30 per cent drop in sales due to the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) in April at the rate of six per cent.

“But GST is now accepted. Consumers and retailers as well as distributors are getting used to the tax regime,” he said, adding that growth for e-commerce was expected to reach eight per cent this year.

Meanwhile, on the security of cyber space, the year also sees the need to further address cyber threats.

CyberSecurity Malaysia Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, said with the advent of digital technology and high connectivity of the internet, the imminent danger of cyber threats was not only affecting the country but also the global community.

Among the top list of threats includes cyber espionage, hacktivism, malware infection, cyber crimes and misuse of social media.

“The current trend of virus is named ‘Ransomware’ and most of the variants that have been reported are ‘Cryptolocker’ and ‘Cerber”, which were generally reported by local companies and individuals to us,” he said.

From January to November, 90 per cent of threats were reported through Cyber999 with 7,698 cases and were resolved by CyberSecurity.

Last year, the total number of cases received and resolved were 9,420.

“We have also seen how classified networks and industrial control sytems were being compromised and how such attacks have affected businesses and government abilities to function.

“Cyber crimes, for example, are targeting economic sectors that continue to grow, as long as criminals can have financial gains from the computer systems,” he said.

Amirudin said the cyber security landscape would be challenging next year due to advancement in ICT as well as the emerging trend of Internet of Things.

Therefore, based on the rapid changes of cyber threat, he said, there was an immediate need for Malaysia to have a revolutionary and more effective cyber security programme.

Among the continuous initiatives held throughout this year were Cyber Security Awareness For Everyone Programme, Malaysia Trustmark scheme which checks the legality and processes of organisations involving in e-commerce and CyberSecurity Malaysia Digital Forensics laboratory which support law enforcement agencies in cyber crimes investigation.

“Our cooperative efforts are also reflected via the public-private partnerships as it is an important requirement for ensuring all parties in Malaysia are able to operate within and benefit from the advantages of a secured and trusted cyber environment,” Amirudin said.

CyberSecurity Malaysia is the national cyber security specialist agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.


‘Volvariella’ mushroom gives lucrative income

Posted on : 26-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National

PENDANG: A strong determination to venture into the Volvariella mushroom farming project has enabled a Media Studies graduate from the University of Malaya to earn as much as RM4,500 a month.

Sarah Hussain, 32, from Kampung Bukit Murai, Mukim Padang Pusing, here said she worked on the project on a partnership basis with her elder brother, Omar Hussain, 51, and cousin, Khairul Azmi Rejab, 26, on a rubber holding measuring about 0.4 hectare belonging to her family beginning in October.

Through the guidance and assistance provided by the district Agricultural Department after attending a course on mushroom cultivation here, she used the oil palm fruit bunches as the medium for cultivation.

The Volvariella mushroom or locally known as ‘cendawan jerami’ was introduced to the smallholders as an alternative crop to supplement their income.

Sarah said she could collect between 300 to 400 kilograms of the Volvariella mushroom each month to earn between RM4,500 to RM5,000 (one cycle of the crop).

Meanwhile, Omar said the response for the Volvariella mushroom was most encouraging with a strong demand from the local community and restaurant operators.

“This mushroom is highly nutritious and could be served as a dish besides being used as a beauty product,” he said.

Omar said mushroom cultivation has now become a pioneer project and a centre of reference for those wishing to seek advisory service on the cultivation of the crop.


Firm gets full marks for use of mosaic planting system

Posted on : 22-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

TAWAU: Chief Conservator of Forests, Datuk Sam Mannan, of Sabah Forestry Department has given full marks to Usahawan Borneo Greenwood Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary company of Usahawan Borneo Group, for its determination and commitment to make its mosaic planting system of mostly indigenous species at Gunung Rara Forest reserve a success, when he visited the project site at Gunung Rara about 140 kms away from Tawau town.

Mannan, after visiting the joint venture project between Usahawan Borneo Greenwood Sdn Bhd and Sabah Foundation on Sunday, congratulated Datuk Elbert Lim of Usahawan Borneo Greenwood for his tenacity, determination and commitment to make the project successful.

The Gunung Rara reafforestation work carried out by Usahawan Borneo Greenwood Sdn Bhd covers 15,000 hectares, ten thousand hectares of which will be planted, and not including construction, roads, rivers, protected lands and conservation zones.

“This is something that Sabah should be proud of and we should give full marks to him (Elbert) for what he is doing here, and you can see the quality of the buildings, from that, you can tell this is for long term, the road will be upgraded, he is doing research, he is getting help from us and he pays attention to the quality of work and this will also benefit Sabah Foundation,” he said after the visit.

It is understood that the new reafforestation plan using the mosaic planting system is promoted and encouraged by the Sabah Forestry Department. It is the establishment of fast growing and high yielding species. This program is using the concept of floor tiles, a cycle of ten years and divided by 10 ‘floor tiles’, when the ‘first floor tiles’ of forest mature, it will be cut down and replanted again, the second year will cut down the second ‘floor tiles’ of forest and replanted, and repeated the same step subsequently every 10 years for each of the unit of the whole area. It would be an endless cycle reafforestation program.

Mannan said, there has never been any large scale planting of indigenous species by the private sector. This is one attempt with a commercial approach, which means you are using your own money and you are taking a big risk. “There are so many uncertainties, but yet he is willing to do this because I think, for him, it is about success for the future and something that he can be proud of. It is not just about making money, you can do that easily from oil palm and other businesses, but I think it is about the legacy part. As a company this is the one business undertaking that will give him the biggest challenge,” Mannan said.

Mosaic planting is still in its infancy, there are still some factors and risks of instability, but Datuk Elbert Lim is determined to make it a success.

You look at his capital investment in the program, such as the upgrading of roads, the construction of permanent offices, workers dormitories and warehouses and other equipment and long term research in this area, you can understand that he is in as a long term investor.

“There are also others doing such projects, but he has just started and we have learnt over the years from the experience of others, what are the pitfalls you need to avoid and how to get things right the first time. By getting right the first time you save so much because you avoid mistakes that others have committed,” Mannan said.

“We are transferring some of the burden of forest management to the private sector and we share this burden together and hopefully in the future both will benefit,” he said.

Mannan said the project is a new project that addresses degradation, and what is being done is keeping about 50 percent of natural forest, which will then be treated. The rest is for high volume production.

“That is our source of diversity in this place and the other half will be developed under the mosaic system, which still retains natural forest, but we have to address the issue of productivity. This natural forest will take a good 40 years to come back in order to be viable and have the right sizes of trees. But with the mosaic system we plant fast growing indigenous and exotic species,” he said.

He said after so many years of research, the forestry department has come to the conclusion that Sabah has many species that are equally if not better than exotics that have been used all this time and they are of higher quality and from the environmental point of view, they are much better.

“We still retain the riparian reserves, we retain the buffers and we maintain the steep areas, keep them under natural conditions. This will take time, this investment here will stretch over a period of at least 10 years with very little income, if any, but the time will come when all those investments will be recouped. So you got to be determined to make such a project successful, this is not oil palm, and there are the worries of the environment, climate change, all those things which can hamper or bring you down from time to time like severe droughts when you cannot plant and when continuous rain is here it also is an impediment, roads will breakdown, bridges collapse things like that,” Mannan said.


Proton Iriz named ASEAN Budget Car of the year

Posted on : 22-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: National carmaker, Proton Holdings Bhd scored another first when its Proton Iriz model was named the ‘Budget Car of the Year’ by top motoring experts in the car industry from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand at the 2016 Asean Car of the Year (ACOTY) award presentation ceremony.

Chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali said coupled with the recent awards received, the company was very pleased with ACOTY’s recognition, especially since the Iriz was launched two years ago.

“We have loaded so much into the Iriz to give our customers better value and this Asean award vindicates our effort in this respect,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the award ceremony held here on Dec 16.

The Iriz was introduced in September 2014 and it marked Proton’s entry into the compact (hatch) car segment.

It was given a five-star rating under the Asean New Car Assessment Programme in terms of safety, powered with four-cylinder variable valve timing engine with a choice of 1.3-litre or 1.6-litre, and priced from RM41,520 to RM62,030.

Meanwhile, Proton said it was offering rebates ranging from RM2,200 to RM4,000, as well as, a two-year free service or 40,000km, whichever comes first, for all new purchase of its variants in the month of December.


Petronas inks MoU with National Iranian Oil Company for future collaborations in Iran

Posted on : 22-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

TEHRAN, IRAN: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to collaborate in a field study in South Azadegan and Cheshmeh Khosh on December 21, 2016.

The signing took place at NIOC’s Central Headquarters here.

Under the MOU, a study will be conducted for a period of six months, and is expected to be concluded in Q2 2017.

Signing of behalf of Petronas was Anuar Taib, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Upstream, while NIOC was represented by Dr. Gholamreza Manouchehri, Deputy Managing Director in Engineering and Development.

“We would like to thank NIOC for the opportunity as this MOU is an important milestone for both Petronas and NIOC.

Iran has provided an opportunity for growth in the Middle East beyond our current footprint in Iraq,” said Anuar during the ceremony.

“We will bring our capabilities and expertise in oil and gas to Iran and look forward to a successful partnership with NIOC,” he added.


Pakistan, Malaysia to finalise further reduction of duties under FTA in Q1

Posted on : 21-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR— Malaysia and Pakistan, currently negotiating a further reduction of duties on existing and additional tariff lines under a free trade agreement (FTA), are expected to finalise it in the first quarter next year.

“We want to enhance the agreement by taking into consideration new elements we think should be included,” Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dzulkifli Mahmud said.

“For example, how our local small and medium enterprises can take advantage of certain investment areas in Pakistan and vice versa,” he told reporters at Matrade’s Trade Talk on Doing Business With Pakistan here today.

Dzulkifli said a further reduction of duties on existing and additional tariff lines are expected to better facilitate business communities of both countries.

The free trade agreement between Pakistan and Malaysia was signed in Kuala Lumpur in November 2007 — the first bilateral agreement between two member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.


Mustapa: RCEP is progressive but challenging

Posted on : 21-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR– The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal under negotiation among 16 Asian countries is progressing well with members having come forward to improve their offers for market liberalisation.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said however there were still some challenges that had to be dealt with.

“There is progress as well as challenges. RCEP members are committed to bridge the gap among the 16 countries,” he said during a media luncheon organised by the ministry here today.

Mustapa said negotiations were expected to be concluded by end-2017.

He noted that the member countries would try to bridge the gap in several areas including the movement of goods during rounds of meetings scheduled in 2017.

The RCEP initiative aims to be an ASEAN-led process through which ASEAN will broaden and deepen its economic engagements with its free trade agreement partners.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, involving 12 countries, entailed five years of negotiations, RCEP involving 16 countries, therefore, is more challenging,” said Mustapa.

RCEP negotiations, involving ASEAN together with Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, started in November 2012.

Mustapa said to-date, only two chapters out of the total 20 chapters had been concluded including one related to small and medium enterprises.

“The leaders set the target for us to conclude the negotiations and that have put pressure on us to work harder. However, we have missed the target because the target was ambitious,” he added.

On measures introduced by Bank Negara Malaysia to stabilise the ringgit, Mustapa said the central bank had taken a prudent step to encourage exporters to use the local unit for their transactions.

“Time is tough and we are not in the state of denial following the impact of the US interest rates hike on emerging markets, not just Malaysia,” he added.

Early this month, the central bank introduced a series of measures to enhance the liquidity of the foreign exchange market.

The measures included payment by resident exporters for settlement of domestic trade in goods and services is to be made fully in ringgit.


SICC expected to catalyse Sabah’s economic growth

Posted on : 20-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) under construction here will catalyse Sabah’s economic growth and play a key role in high-impact tourism.

The project, owned by state-owned Yayasan Sabah Group (YSG), is being built on a 15-acre reclaimed site adjacent to the soon-to-be relocated Kota Kinabalu Port.

The convention centre, the first of its kind in terms of scale in Sabah, is one of the strategic projects to enhance YSG’s impact on Sabah’s development, its director Datuk Sapawi Ahmad said yesterday.

He was speaking during a 3-in-1 event here witnessed by Chief Minister cum Yayasan Sabah Chairman Datuk Musa Haji Aman. The event saw the signing of a multi-party memorandum of understanding, a Loan Syndication Mandate and the presentation of dividends to YSG.

Under the MOU, YSG’s wholly-owned subsidiary Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd will collaborate with WH Vector Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Agrotek Malaysia Berhad in the development of the Papar Smart City project. Koperasi Agrotek will act as consultant and developer for this project.

The loan syndication will see state-owned Sabah Development Bank and AmInvestment Bank Berhad leading a syndicated loan to finance the completion of SICC which, when completed, will be the biggest in Borneo.

SICC is envisaged to be the main driver to attract MICE (meetings, incentives, conference and exhibition) visitors. The adjacent Kota Kinabalu Convention City (KKCC) built by renowned Mah Sing Group, will have three hotels and high-end shopping, office and residential components to complement SICC. KKCC has a gross development value of RM1.4 billion. It is connected to SICC via a covered sky bridge.

Aside from KKCC, SICC will also be complemented the proposed world class cruise terminal and marina. According to state government figures, these facilities are expected to generate RM735 million in revenue from domestic tourists, RM2.3 billion from international tourists and an additional RM3.15 billion from MICE.

In the presentation of dividends, nine YSG subsidiary companies paid a combined RM44.6 million in dividends to YSG. The companies are Tanjung Aru Hotel Sdn Bhd, Benta Wawasan Sdn Bhd, NRG Consortium (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, Sabah Softwoods Berhad, Norsechem (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, Borneo Nature Tour, Innoprise Jungle Lodge, Sabah Foundation Bioscape Sdn Bhd and YSG Landscape Services Sdn Bhd.

YSG, set up not long after Sabah attained independence in 1963 and backed by rich timber concessions, is aimed at uplifting the standard of living of Malaysians in Sabah. It has an extensive business portfolio from shipping tom plantation to tourism.

“When completed, the SICC is poised to be an engine for the economic growth of the state, particularly in relation to high-impact tourism said,” said Sapawi.

Meanwhile, in applauding the financial achievements of the YSG-owned companies, Sapawi stressed on the ability of these companies to pay dividends testify to their abiding with their respective Key Performance Index (KPI).

“KPI should be maintained and enhanced to a higher level in ensuring that the subsidiaries continue to be relevant not only to the YSG but also to the people,” said Sapawi. “Indeed, the dividend will help YSG to actively continue to carry out its social programmes in improving the people’s quality of life.”


IGEM 2016 generates record RM2.2 billion business leads

Posted on : 20-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR: The Seventh International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia (IGEM 2016), held in October, generated a record RM2.2 billion in business leads, says Malaysian Green Technology Corporation Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Hadri Haris.

The four-day event was critical in forging strategic partnership, sharing industry knowledge and cultivating greater awareness on the importance of adopting green technology.

“Despite current global economic uncertainties, it is encouraging to see companies prioritising investment in green technology, reflecting the region’s commitment to bolster green economy,” he told reporters before a media appreciation lunch here on Tuesday.

Ahmad Hadri said the next IGEM, slated for Oct 11-13, 2017, was expected to generate about RM2 billion worth of business leads based on the positive outcome of similar events held the past two years.

“For this year’s event, we partnered the Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association and designated an entire exhibition hall to showcase solar technology in efforts to encourage and spur interest towards green technology,” he said.

Organised by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water and co-organised by GreenTech Malaysia, 350 exhibitors from around the globe took part with 419 exhibition booths.

The annual event, held since 2010, has generated total business leads of RM10 billion, attracting over 330,000 patrons from 50 countries including China, Germany, Japan, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States.

IGEM 2016 also saw GreenTech Malaysia forging partnerships, among others with BMW Malaysia and Petronas Dagangan Bhd, estimated to be worth some RM130 million.


Budding D’Bundle Mania empowers aspiring business owners

Posted on : 20-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Having achieved success in the bundle garments business, well-known bumiputera company, D’Bundle Mania keeps growing while at the same time is helping aspiring business people to start their own business.

Its director, Haris Beddu Rahim who started the business 18 years ago at tamu grounds throughout the state, transformed it from tamu-based to store-based, two years ago.

“My business partner, Saharruddin Odding and I used to sell imported used garments which are known as bundle clothes, at tamu all over Sabah.

“We used to get the items from some suppliers at a very high cost, but two years ago, we started to import the items ourselves and we found out it is much cheaper.

“So we created store-based concept, and open four stores in Sabindo, Inanam, Putatan, Beaufort, and will be opening our fifth branch in Asia City on Dec 24.

“We also have our own warehouse in Kinarut, from which we supply bundle businessmen throughout the state, Brunei, Sarawak and the Philippines,” he said adding that the low price he is offering has spawned around 100 bundle businesses in the past two years.

Haris who learnt the trade from his father, also encourages more youths to venture into the business as it is a good starting point because of the small capital needed, and it does not require high education.

According to him, many people aspire to venture into business but do not dare to take the plunge because of the high capital and high risks involved.

“But with bundle, you can start your business with as low as RM100, and as long as you know how to count, the risk is very low,” he said adding that those interested may drop by at any of D’Bundle Mania outlets to know more about the business.

Haris said that to ensure good quality products, he only imports used garments from the United States, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

He said, due to the temperate climate, people of those countries discard their clothes regularly as they go out of fashion.

Therefore, he said, the supply is ample and the demand in Sabah is high.


RM44.6 mln dividends from Yayasan Sabah subsidiaries

Posted on : 20-12-2016 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Yayasan Sabah Group received dividends amounting to RM44.6 million from nine of its subsidiaries yesterday.

The subsidiaries comprised of YSG Landscape Services Sdn Bhd, Innoprise Jungle Lodge, YSG Bioscape Sdn Bhd, Borneo Nature Tour, Norsechem (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, Benta Wawasan Sdn Bhd, Sabah Softwoods Berhad, NRG Consortium (Sabah) Sdn Bhd and Tanjung Aru Hotel Sdn Bhd.

The largest dividend was received from Tanjung Aru Hotel Sdn Bhd which provided a dividend of RM22,400,000, followed by NRG Consortium (Sabah) Sdn Bhd which paid RM9,000,000 in dividend to Yayasan Sabah Group.

According to Yayasan Sabah director, Datuk Sapawi Haji Ahmad at the dividend presentation ceremony held at the Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort near here yesterday, the dividend payments to Yayasan Sabah Group by its subsidiaries was a new policy whereby any of the group’s subsidiaries that acquired profit must pay a minimum 30 per cent of its profit to the group.

He said that the subsidiaries must also attain further achievement to ensure they continued being relevant not just to Yayasan Sabah Group but also to the people and State of Sabah.

“The presentation of the dividend will help Yayasan Sabah Group to continue carrying out programmes that will help raise the quality of life of the people in the State,” he said.

In his speech, Sapawi also stressed the importance of upholding high integrity values and urged all the subsidiaries to do so.

Additionally, he also urged them to maintain high business ethics and practice good corporate governance.

At the event, Yayasan Sabah Group also signed an agreement with Accor Group through AAPC Singapore Private Limited for the management of Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) and the management of the hotel under Pullman Kota Kinabalu Convention City.

The Group also signed a ‘Letter of Loan Syndication Arrangement Mandate’ with AmInvestment Bank and Sabah Development Bank for a bridging loan to develop SICC.

Additionally, the group also signed an agreement with WH Vector Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Agrotek Malaysia Berhad.

The last agreement was for the Papar Smart City Development where WH Vector Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Agrotek Malaysia Berhad will act as consultants and developer for the project.

Present to grace the event was Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman who is also the chairman of the Yayasan Sabah Board of Trustees.