Race to turn flying car into reality gathering steam

Posted on : 29-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

Le Bourget, France : Aeronautics giants are treating the idea of a flying car with caution, as such a project raises more questions than it answers, experts say — it’s a child’s dream, a millionaire’s toy.

But is it really the next big thing in transport?

At this year’s Paris Air Show, you had to search hard to find an aircraft that looked anything like an automobile: but one such model, the AeroMobil, was tucked away under the old Concordes at the Air and Space Museum, just outside the capital.

This strange-looking hybrid, with its bulbous nose and retractable wings, designed by a Slovakian company, is scheduled to go into series production by 2020.

“After you’ve landed at an airport, you transform the plane into a car and take the road to wherever you want,” Simon Bendrey, AeroMobil’s deputy head of engineering, told AFP.

And they have already received a number of orders, he added, despite an asking price of 1.2-1.5 million euros ($1.3-$1.8 million).

While flying cars have starred in films including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Fifth Element, the race to turn such dreams into a reality is being run by dozens of small creative start-ups like AeroMobil.

– Quantum leap –

Among those nearest to take-off is the Dutch outfit PAL-V, which is offering a two-seater gyrocopter and is scheduled to be available by next year — a steal at 300,000 euros.

Czech company Nirvana Systems says it has had dozens of orders for its mini-helicopter, which can also travel on roads, albeit at rather sluggish ground speeds.

Silicon Valley-based company Kitty Hawk says its Flyer will be on sale by the end of the year.

And just last week France’s Pegase, a cross between a ultra-light plane and a mini-car, crossed the Channel, the narrow stretch of water between England and France.

Until recently, flying cars “were a cross between a bad car and a bad plane,” said Bruno Sainjon, head of the French aerospace lab ONERA, on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show.

But there has been a quantum leap in design thanks to vast improvements in the power of electric propulsion, linked largely to the rapid advances in drone technology recently.

Today, such engines lift 80-100 kilos (176-220 pounds), Xavier Dutertre, director of the Techoplane project based in Normandy, northern France, told AFP.

“And we’re not far from having the capacity to transport one or two men for about 20 minutes,” he added. “In five to 10 years, that will have become commonplace.”

While driving-flying hybrids may initially be the latest must-have gadgets for the ultra-rich, experts believe that such vehicles could actually be rapidly overtaken, as the industry sets its sights on fly-only solutions further down the line.

– ‘New era for aviation’ –

The real future, said ONERA’s Sainjon is “a system of on-demand air transport, which would clearly be the start of a new era for aviation” — a flying taxi service, in other words.

Flying cars will not be something that just anyone can drive, “because it’s too risky,” Pascal Pincemin, an aerospace specialist with Deloitte, told AFP.

He envisaged digital platforms to manage the new form of traffic, and that appears to be what Uber, the App-based ride-hailing service, has in mind with its “Elevate” project.

The idea appears to be to develop a network of electric, vertical-takeoff aircraft and they are aiming to make their first demonstrations in 2020.

Dubai could be the first off the starting blocks with a new kind of small autonomous electric helicopter scheduled to come into operation later this year.

There is “a real appetite, a real interest”, in this kind of transport in some of the more traffic-congested cities, said Jean Brice Dumont, head of engineering at Airbus Helicopters.

At the last Geneva motor show, the company presented its own prototype flying car, “Pop Up”, developed in cooperation with a subsidiary of Volkswagen. But Dumont said they were expecting the technology to mature and develop further.

Boeing, so far, has not shown its hand and Deloitte’s Pincemin does not see flying taxis becoming a common mode of transport before 2050. First, he said, the vehicles would have to prove their reliability.

Air transport today has a death rate of 0.2 per million flights, said Patrick Cipriani, director of security at the DGAC, France’s civil aviation directorate.

“Will we be prepared to accept levels like those of light aircraft, which are 100 times less safe?” he asked.


NanoMalaysia To Make NANOVerify Programme Mandatory By Year-End

Posted on : 29-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR– NanoMalaysia Bhd, a company limited by guarantee under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, aims to make the NANOVerify Programme mandatory for nanotechnology product manufacturers by year-end.

Chief Executive Officer, Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad, said at the moment, NANOVerify, the first nanotechnology products/processes certification in Malaysia, was still regarded as a voluntary certification programme.

“We are still in talks with the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry and several relevant agencies over the terms and conditions to make NANOVerify mandatory to ensure the validity of nanomaterials claimed by the manufacturers.

“With the NANOVerified mark accredited under the programme, it could reassure the safety and quality of the nano products in the country,” he told Bernama recently.

NANOVerify, launched in 2015, is a joint programme between SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bhd and NanoMalaysia, which awards the NANOVerified mark for companies which apply for certification for the processes/products with claims of nano-elements in the range of 1-100 nanometre.

Rezal said with the NANOVerified mark, it could also enable a certified company to increase its corporate image, gain customers’ trust and subsequently, promote its sales.

Likening NANOVerify to the halal certificate accredited by Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), he did not discount the possibility of the former emerging as a global benchmark for nano products in the future.

“It is possible for it to follow in JAKIM’s footsteps which has successfully made its halal certificate widely recognised by Muslims all around the world within 20 years’ time,” he said.

Rezal, who is also a member of Asia Nano Forum, said currently, Malaysia has partnered with Taiwan, UK, Russia, Thailand and Iran to recognise each other’s nano certificate.

“All the six nations are the members of the forum and each has its own respective nano verification programmes.

“We are now looking at how to standardise and create a cross-countries accepted nano certificate to open up a bigger market for each other,” he said.

He said Malaysia was expected to sign an agreement on nano verification with Iran next year, after a similar deal was inked with Taiwan late last year.

Recently, NanoMalaysia also announced that it would collaborate with a Russian company to set up an investment platform for nanotechnology businesses by year-end, which enabled Malaysia’s manufactured nano products to penetrate the European market.

Meanwhile, nano fertiliser provider, Microwell Bio Solutions Sdn Bhd, an indirect subsidiary of state-owned Johor Corp, is eyeing to expand its market share to 30 per cent in the country over the next five years.

Chief Technology Officer/ Director, MD Nasaruddin Abdullah, said Malaysia has been spending over RM5 billion annually to import nano-based fertiliser, particularly from China and Russia.

“But the costs of the same nanomaterials produced locally are 10 to 20 per cent cheaper compared to imported ones,” he said.

Besides, he said, nanotechnology could halve the amount of fertiliser used yearly and enable the planters to save their raw material cost for a higher yield.

However, MD Nasaruddin acknowledged that local awareness on nanotechnology was still on a very surface level as it is still an emerging technology.

“Most of them only come across the term of ‘nano’ on cosmetic products without knowing that the technology is also adopted in the agriculture industry.

“So, our current stage is to approach the industry players to explain the effectiveness of the technology,” he said.

MD Nasaruddin said during the company’s pre-commercialisation phase, he had seen the local farmers, planters and the industrial players began to gradually adopt the technology.

“We have to do it gradually to realise the target of taking up 30 per cent of the market share in five years,” he said.


RM50 million fund for women entrepreneurship development – Mara

Posted on : 28-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KANGAR: Mara has allocated RM50 million for its Dana Nita programme, specially for women nationwide who want to venture into entrepreneurship or business this year.

Deputy Director-General (Entrepreneurship), Zulfikri Osman said under the programme, the maximum financial assistance given to each qualified applicant was RM50,000.

He said some RM5 million out of the total allocation would be used to implement courses and training for the applicants before they were qualified to submit their applications.

“The Dana Nita programme was launched following the proposal by Wanita Umno Malaysia at the Umno General Assembly held at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur last year,” Zulfikri told Bernama here.

As for Perlis, he said Mara had set aside an allocation of RM15 million to help entrepreneurs in the state venture into business and entrepreneurship this year alone.

The allocation included financing, training and other activities related to entrepreneurship, he added.

“Perlis as a Malay state is synonymous with clothing and food business.

“In the long term, it will be among the states that are strategic as it is located at the international border.

“Mara is confident that the technopreneur sector has the potential to succeed in Perlis, besides it has many training and educational institutions, along with other agencies that enable entrepreneurs to get formal training,” said Zulfikri.

He said Mara, which is committed to helping the Bumiputera entrepreneurs, had formulated a long-term plan to ensure sustainability of the Malays in the state in business and entrepreneurship.


Alibaba injects US$1 bln to increase stake in Lazada

Posted on : 28-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Alibaba Group Holding Limited will invest approximately US$1 billion to increase its stake to approximately 83 per cent in Lazada Group, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia.

In a statement today, Alibaba said the transaction demonstrated the continued success of Lazada’s business and Alibaba’s confidence in the growth potential of Southeast Asian markets and its commitment to the region as part of its global strategy.

Alibaba, with some 51 per cent stake in Lazada at present, wouldl purchase the shares at an implied valuation of US$3.15 billion for the company, reflecting a significant increase in Lazada’s value since Alibaba first acquired its majority stake in April 2016.
The transaction would increase Alibaba’s total investment in Lazada to over US$2 billion.

Lazada would continue to operate under the same brand following this investment.

Alibaba’s investment in and collaboration with Lazada have been an important part in expanding Alibaba’s global footprint, providing it unrivaled access to consumers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Lazada and Alibaba, in the past 12 months, have worked on a number of initiatives to advance e-commerce in Southeast Asia to lower barriers and facilitate borderless commerce.

These initiatives included the establishment of an e-fulfillment center in Malaysia, forming part of Alibaba’s Electronic World Trading Platform strategy, advancing “Thailand 4.0″ and launching Taobao Collection in Singapore and Malaysia to allow local customers to shop for high quality products from China.

“As a market leader, Lazada has demonstrated ability to execute and lead the region with the best consumer experience in Southeast Asia while growing a strong ecosystem that supports small businesses going online,” said Alibaba Group Chief Operating Officer Daniel Zhang.


Malaysia Halal Council to launch framework by year-end

Posted on : 28-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Halal Council expects to launch its framework, focusing on empowering local halal companies, making them visible globally and increasing the participation of Bumiputera entrepreneurs by year-end.

Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin said the Council, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was currently working on the framework that would drive Malaysia beyond its Global Halal Hub status in 2020.

“This framework is under the Master Plan 2.0 for the development of the nation’s halal industry from 2018-2030.

“We need this plan as the previous ones were in use for about a decade, from 2008-2020.

“There has been a lot of developments with the halal industry and we do not want to wait until 2020 to introduce new plans,” he told Bernama.

The council’s main objectives include tackling issues pertaining to the halal industry and its functions would be divided between the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) and HDC.

Jakim would concentrate on the certification process, governance and matters related to syariah while HDC would focus on expanding and internationalising the halal industry.

Jamil said besides HDC and JAKIM, the council was also spearheaded by the Department of Standards Malaysia, the sole body for national standards and accreditation.

To further ensure maximum effectiveness in the production of halal items, thus putting Malaysia on the forefront of halal goods production, all halal bodies under various industries would be incorporated under this council, he said.

Jamil also said the council planned to have at least four meetings this year, and so far two have been conducted.

The recent meeting discussed on the empowerment of Bumiputera companies in the halal industry.

In 2015, Bumiputera companies contributed some RM2.6 billion or 6.6 per cent of the total exports of halal products and until last year, a total of 2,878 Bumiputera companies obtained the Malaysian Halal Certification compared with only 579 in 2010.

As for HDC, Jamil said the corporation had always wanted to function as the focal point for the country’s halal development and at the same time, contribute more.

“We also want to produce more companies and compete healthily, and not just in terms of exports and investment. HDC hopes to help create more job opportunities especially for youths,” he added.

Last year, Malaysia’s halal exports stood at RM42 billion from RM39 billion registered in 2015.

“We are expecting a similar uptrend this year,” said Jamil.

It is forecast that by 2020, Malaysia’s halal exports would exceed RM50 billion.


China vehicle maker eyeing East M’sia

Posted on : 28-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

DALI PREFECTURE, Yunnan Province, China: Dali-based commercial vehicle manufacturer, Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles Co. Ltd is planning to expand its existing market in Malaysia, said its group chief executive officer He Zhanfei.

In fact, He said the company would visit East Malaysia in July to study the market potential there.

Dali Junma Industry and Trade Group was established in June 2003, producing 30,000 tractors annually at its production lines in Eryuan County. In 2004, Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles was established with an annual production capacity of 200,000 vehicles from its five manufacturing plants.

The company develops two vehicle brands, namely Sojen and Projen, comprising nine series, 36 models and 146 variants.

The media delegation from Sabah had the opportunity to visit Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles headquarters and interviewed the top management of the company at Fengyi Innovation Industrial Park at the National Economic and Technological Development Zone, Dali during the recent trip to China organised by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu.

The delegation was taken on a tour around the production plant where the trucks are manufactured and assembled.

In line with the Belt and Road initiative and leveraging on Yunnan’s advantage as the hub in reaching out to South Asia and Southeast Asia (SEA) , the company is not only focusing on expanding its share in the domestic market, but is also actively venturing out to market its commercial vehicles to South Asia, SEA and West Asia regions.

According to He, Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles recorded RMB 19.4 billion production value in 2016.

Last year, the company produced 130,000 trucks, 40,000 low-speed commercial vehicles and 96,000 tractors, which are not only sold in the domestic market, but  exported to nine countries in SEA, South Asia and West Asia.

“In 2016, our company exported 13,478 vehicles, 10 per cent of which were to Malaysia. We have high hopes on the markets in West Asia and SEA,” he said.

He said Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles entered the Malaysian market early this year and had set up a sales outlet in Kuala Lumpur.

The next step will be a trip to Sabah and Sarawak next month to assess the market potential in East Malaysia, he said.

The company would make the necessary adjustments to its vehicles and accessories to meet the specifications required for different road conditions and terrain in overseas markets. The company is also in international trading, real estate and cultural tourism business. According to Dali Foreign Affairs Office senior official Xie Yubao, Dali produces 70 per cent of dairy products in Yunnan Province. There are 90,000 dairy cows in Dali to supply milk to three local dairy and yogurt product manufacturers.

During the trip, the media delegation visited Yunnan Ouya Dairy Products Co. Ltd that produces more than 70 kinds of dairy and yogurt products.

Established in 2003, the company recorded a sales revenue of RMB 950 million last year. At present, it has two factories which can process up to 640 tonnes of fresh milk daily. Each day, the company processes 300 tonnes of fresh milk sourced from its own dairy farms, partners and more than 30,000 individual dairy farmers.

Its annual output is reported at 150,000 tonnes. Due to growing market demand, the company has invested RMB 300 million in building its third dairy processing plant last year, which is expected to boost the company’s annual output to 200,000 tonnes.

The dairy and yogurt products made by Yunnan Ouya Dairy Products are certified halal.

Located at Xiaguan, Dali, Yunnan Xiaguan Tuocha (Group) Co. Ltd is one of the top three tea companies in China in terms of the scale of production. The company was formerly founded as Yunnan Xiaguan Tea Factory in 1941. In the 1950s, dozens of big and small tea firms established in the early 20th century in Dali were integrated into Xiaguan Tea Factory through public-private partnerships.

The company produces close to 200 varieties of tea products, including pressed tea, green tea, specialty tea and tea bags. The company has more than 700 outlets at 30 provinces in China, and produces up to 5,000 tonnes of tea annually. Its products are exported to over 10 countries including Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

Yunnan Xiaguan Tuocha is the patent holder of Tuocha tea which is a dome-shaped Pu’er tea as well as the only tea producer that makes Tuocha tea in mushroom shape. The company is  constructing a new 50-acre production, sightseeing cum leisure site at Yinqiao town.


Sedco building 54 factories for Bumiputera

Posted on : 28-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Economic Development Corpora­tion (SEDCO) will build 54 factories in Sepanggar, some 28km from here, to train bumiputras interested in the manufacturing sector.

Its general manager Pengiran Saifufin Pengiran Tahir said a 2ha piece of land is being developed for this purpose.

The project, costing an estimated RM30mil, is part of the corporation’s overall plan to boost economic development for the benefit of Sabahans, he said at a Hari Raya open house here on Tuesday.

Other plans in the pipeline would be implemented as soon as state government approval was obtained for the funds needed, he added.

Pengiran Tahir said the corporation was also active in development projects and programmes in rural areas and recently received an allocation from the Bumiputra Agenda Steering Unit, Teraju, to build shophouses in interior Sook and Kalabakan.

“Apart from these efforts, our sub­­sidiary companies are also in­­volved in educational programmes for youth especially in entrepreneurship,” he said, adding that more than 22 schools statewide are involved in business and entrepreneurship programmes.

“We are not only creating awareness on these fields among students but also providing them with business opportunities.”


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 www.pandashop.my/symbolically-adopt-orangutan


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.