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Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Steep learning curve


What is meant by "steep learning curve"?


Unfazed, this mass comm graduate overcame all kinds of challenges to make it in business.

SAMANTHA Mah did well on her first business venture but suffered a loss on her second. However, failure did not deter her and her two partners from moving on. They gave it another go until they could see the fruits of their labour.

Mah worked as a company administrator and voice talent for radio commercials before she decided to venture into business.— aNis aBdullah/The star

Mah’s first business received an investment of RM10,000 from her sister, Natasha, 37. She and two investor-partners started an online boutique targeted at young women. After one-and-a-half years, business picked up and was quite good.

Mah, 30, is the youngest in her family. She has two elder sisters and a brother.

Mah, Natasha and a friend Jason Leong, 31, started their trading company on March 8, 2011. Just four months later, it incurred a big loss, prompting them to change the products they were selling – from peanuts and sesame seeds to edible organic products.

A mass communication graduate from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Selangor, Mah had worked part-time as a company administrator and voice talent for radio commercials before she venturing into business. She is now the marketing manager/managing director of her company.

After starting Wide Tropism Trading, she passed her online boutique business to a friend.

One of the biggest challenges for Mah, at the beginning, was that neither she nor her partners had a corporate background.

“We handled matters based on our experiences. Sometimes we had to ask friends for advice.

“In the first few years, there were lots of arguments,” she said.

Mah is glad that her relationship with Natasha survived those trying times.

As part of the company’s costcutting measures, each of them had to take on more responsibilities in various departments.

“There were too many things on my plate – human resource, accounts, design and marketing – and I was suffocating. But we did not have enough (finances) to hire staff,” said Mah.

After two months, she “exploded” and cried during a meeting.

“I could not take the pressure and workload anymore,” she said. Eventually, they could afford to hire new staff.

“Only then did things start to fall into place,” she said.

Cheated by a supplier

Initially, they were importing foods such as peanuts and sesame seeds, and distributing them to local suppliers. Unfortunately, they suffered a huge loss in the first year itself due to unscrupulous parties.

Due to limited cash flow, they could only import one container of stock at a time. Each time, they flew over to the exporting country, India, to check on the quality of the stock and witness the peanuts being loaded into the containers. The first two shipments went through successfully.

However, the third shipment, supposedly of Grade A peanuts, was discovered to contain Grade C stock instead, when it arrived.

She said: “No one in the market would accept the stock. We sought help from the local distributor to sell off the peanuts at a lower price but even then, no one wanted them. After trying for two months, we had to sell off the peanuts to a peanut butter factory at below cost. As a result, we ran into losses amounting to RM40,000.”

The supplier denied it was his fault and instead blamed others. They then contacted the High Commission of India, in Kuala Lumpur, for help but to no avail.

“We wondered how we were going to continue business. My father advised us to pick ourselves up, learn from it, and be more careful. Everyone was very supportive and encouraged us to continue. They believed we could do better,” she said.

Mah then sought help from her uncle, an experienced fruit trader and grocer. He advised her to run a business that’s less risky, such as repackaging and distributing organic products.

She and her business partners promptly took his advice.

In July 2011, her company had its first customer, a newly opened supermarket in Petaling Jaya. In two months, Mah’s team had designed the logo and sourced for products and packaging. And so, their label Love Earth was born.  

Overcoming obstacles

Every day, Mah and her partners packed their products until midnight, and delivered them, working on weekends to selfpromote their products as well.

Said Mah: “Each time a new supermarket called, we’d celeto brate!”

Gradually, it was time start their expansion plan but they were hampered by limited cash flow.

They knew they had to spend more to create brand awareness. That’s when they started their online webstore.

“None of us had any knowledge about marketing. So I attended marketing and e-commerce talks to learn and see what we could do,” she said.

Mah recalled: “The first three years of business were really tough. My salary was only RM1,000 monthly (to cut costs).”

But their efforts paid off. After five years of sheer hard work, they could buy two units of four-storey shophouses.

The company started with 50 products and now has 180.

Currently, it is distributing these products to over 500 outlets throughout Malaysia.

New priorities

Mah, who got married two years ago, plans to expand her family this year. Her husband, C.V. Loh, 32, distributes bio-degradable plates, lunch boxes and bowls as well as health supplements.

She said: “I hope to have financial freedom, and more time for my family. If possible, I would like to be a part-time businesswoman and full-time housewife one day.”

She plans to raise her children herself and not send them to a nanny. She also hopes to travel more in the future. Presently, she travels at least thrice a year. Seeing other countries and cultures opens up one’s mind, she said.

Although she is a career woman, Mah believes in putting family first.

“Women play a role in bringing up the family. If a child is not well taught, he might be a nuisance to society in the future. But if he has a good upbringing, he can be the sun that shines and brings benefits to all. Also, a woman is the pillar that upholds the family,” she said.

Mah explained that even though she studied mass communication and broadcasting, it was during her internship that she realised that she wanted to go on a different career path than she had originally planned.

After her graduation, she thought of going into volunteer work. But her uncle advised against it. He told her to be successful so that she could help herself and others in future.

By Majorie Chiew The Star


Related posts:


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It pays to be stern 

Startup opportunities abound

 

My home, my school

More and more Malaysian parents are turning towards homeschooling today for various reasons. 

Giving a choice of education to our students in Malaysian school systems


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Employees believe Huawei will survive widespread bans in West with ‘Wolf spirit’ culture

A true multinational - Newspaper headline:

A Huawei Technologies Co logo sits on display inside an electronic goods store in Berlin on December 17. Photo: VCG

Former Huawei employee in US laments government's 'endless assaults on the company'


○ Huawei's so-called 'wolf culture' helped it become successful in foreign countries

○ The top global telecom equipment provider has been going through a tough year in 2018

○ Chinese and foreign employees hold different views on Huawei's rapid expansion and aggressive corporate strategy

When Jason Li was assigned to the Mobile World Congress at the beginning of 2011, shortly after he joined China's Huawei Technologies, he impressed Ren Zhengfei, the former military officer who founded the company in 1987, with a presentation about the company's products in English.

"He [Ren] came to the company's stand the day before the congress kicked off and asked me where I studied before joining the company. I said New Zealand," Li said, noting that Ren immediately suggested that this newly recruited employee should fly to the UK office and help build a local talent center as part of Huawei's global expansion.

The Shenzhen-based company has experienced a rapid expansion over the past 30 years, and has footprints in more than 170 countries and regions. However, it has been under the spotlight recently as Meng Wanzhou - its chief financial officer - was arrested by the Canadian authorities in Vancouver on December 1 at the request of the US on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions.

Under pressure from the US, more governments in the West have been considering blocking Huawei's core products over security concerns, which is considered as a major setback in its development into a multinational giant.

Former employees of Huawei like Li spent years working overseas, and describe Huawei's corporate culture as a "wolf culture" that helped it become successful.

However, this "wolf culture" also sparked controversy, and might have harmed its current operations.

Arduous journey

When Li started working at Huawei's London office, he started everything from zero. From 2012 to 2014, he had traveled to over 20 countries and spent most of his days in countless hotels and airports, sacrificing much of his spare time to reach out to more foreign telecom carriers and companies.

"As soon as I left Egypt after a business trip to Cairo years ago, the country plunged into civil conflict, and some of my former coworkers were stuck in the hotel. And one time in Nigeria, we were exposed to yellow fever," he told the Global Times, referring to those days at Huawei as an unforgettable memory.

Long working hours on challenging projects with constant business trips to remote areas are common descriptions of the workplace culture at the world's largest telecoms equipment maker.

"Employees at Chinese telecom companies such as Huawei and ZTE endured hardships in an earlier stage of global expansion," Xiang Ligang, a veteran industry analyst close to Huawei, told the Global Times in a recent interview.

Ren, the founder of Huawei, is considered one of the most successful Chinese executives during the country's reform and opening-up. He was influenced by the military theories of Mao Zedong, according to a book on Huawei's development published in April.

Like Mao's military theories, which advocated taking small and medium cities and extensive rural areas first as part of a revolution, Ren started from remote and less developed areas to avoid fierce competition with foreign rivals.

"In some countries in Africa and South America, telecom operators could not afford expensive products. They also lacked staff members for maintenance and operations. This gave more room for companies like Huawei and ZTE, which continuously assigned staff to those areas, to grow," Xiang said.

Huawei beat Ericsson and Nokia in the global mobile infrastructure market in 2017, as the Chinese company took 28 percent of the market share and became the largest mobile infrastructure provider worldwide, according to the latest industry report from IHS.

"In the early days, Huawei assigned most of its senior executives to the overseas market to explore business opportunities," Xiang said, noting that accepting these assignments later became an unwritten rule.

Lingering conflicts

Huawei's corporate culture has a long-lasting influence on its staff. An former employee who worked as a programmer at Huawei's then headquarters in Nanshan district, Shenzhen in the early 2000s said that he worked for Huawei for about one year and a half shortly after he graduated from college but the short experience there has instilled a lasting impact on his future career. He learned to be hardworking, persistent and low-key.

Even after he left Huawei, he sometimes, as if he had been brainwashed, still would read aloud the internal letters written by Ren Zhengfei circulated online to his then-girlfriend-now-wife, partly as a way to woo and impress her, and partly as a way to draw inspiration and strength for himself.

The employee in his early 40s who only spoke on condition of anonymity said he worked long hours from about 10 am to 10 pm every working day at Huawei. When he was tired, he would sleep on the mattress under his desk. "All co-workers did the same, especially the managers," he said. "When a new project kicked in, we would work overnight."

This so-called wolf spirit - a high-pressure workplace - is also known as a "mattress culture," as many of its engineers work so hard that they use blankets and mattresses to sleep at the office. And this military-style management was sometimes rejected by its foreign staff overseas, which led to deeper culture clashes.

"As far as I know about this so-called military style management, it's implementing the corporate policy in the most efficient way," Li said.

For example, when he worked at the company's London office, all the staff there were required to punch in and out every day, following strict discipline.

"Sometimes, foreign employees preferred more flexible working hours, especially when it was bad weather. But the headquarters rejected this request," he said, noting that localizing its business in foreign markets was a bumpy road over some similar daily issues.

For some foreign employees, being part of a growing Chinese company is still remarkable experience.

"I have great respect for what the company has achieved… Huawei's growth and expansion have been amazingly impressive. It was exciting to be a part of that," William Plummer, the company's former US vice president of external affairs, told the Global Times.

Plummer, who is considered an eight-year veteran bridging the Chinese company with the US government, was reportedly laid off by Huawei in April amid rising tension between China and the US.


He noted that the experience with Huawei was sometimes frustrating both "due to the US government's endless assaults on the company, and the company's inability to trust and listen to non-Chinese experts in dealing with such matters."

The company has been going through a tough year in 2018. In January, major US carrier AT&T suspended potential cooperation with Huawei in its mobile business over security concerns.

And the "Five Eyes" nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US) decided to take aim at all Chinese telecoms equipment companies. Australia slashed its use of Chinese-made products in August, followed by New Zealand and the UK.

In particular, the US government targeted Huawei for years, as American counterintelligence agents and prosecutors began exploring possible cases against its leadership back in 2010, according to the New York Times.

Focus on own work

After Meng's arrest, several of Huawei's Chinese employees shared posts on their social media accounts to support each other, claiming that the company can definitely get through this difficult time.

"It will survive widespread bans in Western countries … and we should focus on our own work," a current employee at the company told the Global Times.

Some observers suggested that Huawei's foreign and Chinese staff, who often hold different attitudes in the workplace, may see its struggles in a different light.

Many Chinese staff work very hard overseas because of Huawei's incentive stock options. "Three years after I joined Huawei, I earned about 300,000 yuan ($43,500) a year, and my bonus was almost the same as my basic salary," said a former Chinese employee "Eric," who worked at Huawei from 2009 to 2013 and spent a year in Mumbai, India.

Working long hours is driven by growing business. Many employees understand that the better financial performance Huawei has, the more profits its employees could share in accordance to employee stock ownership plans.

However, to become a true global tech firm, Huawei will need to diversify its leadership, Plummer suggested.

As the case of Meng has entered the judicial system, some believe that Huawei's situation will get worse, even though there is no proof for the US allegations.

Looking into this dilemma, the company's aggressive and customer-centered business strategies might have helped its take over as much market share as possible.

"But in the long run, as a private company that insists on not going public, its opaque financial status also raises questions over its sustainability," Eric said.

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times


Newspaper headline: A true multinational

Related:

Americans still covet trade with China, blame Trump administration for complicating issue

The past year was a tough year for China-US relations. From Washington DC to Iowa to Seattle, this Global Times reporter recently talked to over 50 government officials, scholars, reporters, businessmen and farmers in the US and asked them what they think of the trade war and China-US relations

Chinese diplomacy defeats US interference

China should be confident in this: As long as China maintains steady peripheral diplomacy, the US can do nothing to China and Beijing will gain the initiative in diplomacy toward Washington.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Govt-linked companies (GLCs) shake-up as they sing a different tune

EPF Building in Kuala Lumpur.- Art Chen / The Star..
On the rise: A man walks past the Employees Provident Fund headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Remuneration of GLC chiefs, senior management and directors have been on the uptrend following a transformation initiative to make them more competitive commercially. 


Overpaid CEOs and social duties of GLCs set for review


The new government has clearly said that there is a need to review the role of GLCs and the remuneration paid out to their top executives

A GLANCE at one of the annual reports of the country’s government-linked companies (GLCs) reveals that its chief human resource officer earned close to a million ringgit or about RM80,000 per month, last year.

Other senior personnel were also compensated with generous remuneration, with its chief executive taking home over one and the half million ringgit in financial year 2017.

More importantly, this was at a company that had courted much controversy in recent times over allegations of mismanagement and under-performance.

Such a scenario, however, is not uncommon at GLCs, where remuneration of key executives tend to run in the millions but performances sometimes leave much to be desired.

By definition, GLCs are companies where the government has a direct majority stake via their entities such as Khazanah Nasional, Employees Provident Fund, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the Armed Forces Fund (Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera) and the Pilgrims Fund (Lembaga Tabung Haji).

In recent years, remuneration of GLC chiefs, senior management and its directors have been on the uptrend following a transformation initiative to make them more competitive commercially.

The thinking behind this is that in order to attract talent – subjective as the definition of that may be – top dollar should be paid.

Some, however, argue that GLCs should in fact prioritise national service a little more.

Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Economics and Administration professor of political economy Edmund Terence Gomez says GLCs have social obligations.

“What this essentially means is that GLCs cannot operate in a purely commercial manner as they also have to look at the social dimension,” he says. “The GLC professionals have many times articulated that they are doing national service. Going on that alone, one can argue that they shouldn’t be paid private sector salaries,” Terence adds.

And so it is now, there is a disquiet building up among GLCs following the change in government.

The new government has clearly said that there is a need to review the role of GLCs and the remuneration paid out to their top executives and senior management.

In this regard, the Pakatan Harapan government is understood to be mulling over making drastic changes in the appointment and remuneration of key directors at GLCs which include government agencies.

It was reported recently that the Council of Eminent Persons, headed by Tun Daim Zainuddin, who was Finance Minister in the 1980s, has requested details of the salaries of some of the top executives at GLCs as part of the review.

Already, there have been a couple of GLC chief executives who have left and more of this is expected to materialise over the coming weeks.

“It appears to be a purge of Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop’s boys,” quips an industry observer, referring to the veteran politician who was instrumental in the revamp and transformation of Khazanah which started in 2005 and subsequently, driving the GLC transformation initiative.

UM’s Terence says if the new government is to appoint new individuals, it must ensure that the process is transparent.

“If you are removing these people, who are you replacing them with? More importantly how are you selecting these people?

He adds there needs to be a transparent mechanism in the appointment of this new breed of professionals that will be brought in and what must also be looked into is the kind of check and balances being put in place to ensure governance.

“There should be a debate on these things,” he says.

Economist Yeah Kim Leng believes that a review is timely and appropriate as part of a deeper institutional and structural reform.

“The broad aims are firstly, to reduce excessive payoffs which don’t commensurate with performance and secondly, to address the widening wage and benefits gap between the top and bottom rungs of the organisation,” he says.

Such rationalisation will result in a more equitable salary structure as well as raise the generally depressed wages of middle management and support staff which form the largest number of most organisations, Yeah adds.

Unfair advantage

The role of a head honcho, be it at a GLC or non-GLC, is seldom a walk in the park.

CEOs make critical operational decisions that affect everything from future business directions to the health of a company’s balance sheet and employee morale.

The job generally entails long hours and tremendous pressure to meet expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.

But again, while local GLCs have been key drivers of the economy, one key feature is that they are ultimately owned by the government.

This, some argue, give GLCs unfair advantages such as access to cheap funding and political patronage over their private counterparts.

So, is running a GLC more of a stewardship role as opposed to an entrepreneurship role?

Therein lies the issue that in turn will have a bearing on the remuneration levels of GLC heads.

Minority Shareholders Watch Group (MSWG) chief executive office Devanesan Evanson puts it this way.

“Entrepreneurs have their skin in the game in that there are often the major or substantial shareholder in a company.

“It is in their direct interest to perform as this will be translated into share price appreciation which will impact the value of their shareholdings – this is motivation to grow the entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.

On the other hand, GLC heads do not have their skin in the game save for their limited shareholding through ESOS or share grant schemes.

“If a GLC loses money, the impact on them is limited. They may be prepared to take perverse risks as the eventual loser is the government-linked investment companies or GLICs (and the minority shareholders of the GLC), which eventually are the people who are the members or subscribers of the GLICs.

“In that way, we are not comparing apple to apple and yet, we need talent to run GLCs.

“So we can conclude that, we need to pay for talent at GLCs but it should not be as much compared to what one would pay the CEO of a firm which he started,” Devanesan says, noting that remuneration of some of the GLC heads have risen too fast in recent years.

Rising remuneration is a given, others say, as the government had recruited top talent from the private sector to helm these companies.

A case in point is  Axiata Group Bhd , which has done relatively well with the infusion of the “entrepreneurial spirit” under the helm of president and group CEO Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, who has helmed the Khazanah-owned telco since 2008, they point out.

Prior to that, Jamaludin was with rival Maxis Communications Bhd, a private company controlled by tycoon Ananda Krishnan.

Other GLCs which have performed consistently over recent years include banks like Malayan Banking Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd which have expanded their operations out of Malaysia, carving a brand name for themselves regionally.

Under a 10-year transformation programme for GLCs initiated in 2005, companies were given quantitative and qualitative targets to meet as measured by key performance indicators.

Now, the 20 biggest GLCs currently make up about 40% of the local stock market’s market capitalisation.

One of the principles under the programme was also the national development agenda, which emphasised the principle of equal growth and development of the bumiputra community with the non-bumiputras.

Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) Centre of Public Policy Studies chairperson Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam says the purpose of establishing GLCs to encourage bumiputras to participate in business has largely been fulfilled.

“Now that the bumiputras are on a strong footing in the corporate sector with able leaders who have wide experience, it (GLCs) could be seen as an erosion to the welfare and progress of the smaller and medium-sized industries, particularly those where other bumiputras are involved,” Ramon says.

Having said that, he says although many GLCs are doing well, they have performed well “mainly because of protective policies and monopolistic practices”.

“The time has come in this new Malaysian era for more competition and less protection.”

Benchmarking

Still, if simplistic comparisons are to be made, the CEOs of the country’s two largest GLC banks, Maybank and CIMB for instance, took home less than the CEO of the country’s third largest bank, the non-GLC Public Bank Bhd last year.

In 2017, Public Bank’s managing director Tan Sri Tay Ah Lek took home some RM27.8mil in total remuneration while Maybank’s Datuk Abdul Farid Alias earned RM10.11mil and CIMB’s Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz made RM9.86mil.

Across the causeway, a survey of CEO remuneration of Singapore-listed companies by one financial portal shows that Singaporean GLC CEOs earned 31% more than their non-GLC counterparts in 2017.

Singapore’s Temasek Holdings-owned DBS Bank, which is Singapore’s largest bank, paid out S$10.3mil (RM30.36mil) to its head honcho, while in the telecommunication sector, SingTel’s remuneration to its top executive was some S$6.56mil (RM19.34mil) for the most recently concluded financial year.

By definition, Singapore GLCs are those which are 15% or more owned by the city-state’s investment arm Temasek Holdings.

UM’s Terence does not think Singapore should be a benchmark for Malaysian companies.

“Singapore is a much smaller country and the manner in which they operate in is also different ... their GLCs are deeply conditioned by their holding company, which is the Minister of Finance Incorporated,” he says.

MSWG’s Devanesan notes that determining remuneration is “not exactly science” as there are many parameters to be considered.

Some of the factors to note include whether the companies are in a monopolistic or near monopolistic position and the performance of the GLC heads over the years.

“Based on these parameters, we can instinctively know if a GLC head is over-remunerated,” he says. Over in China, state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s largest lender by assets, paid out about 63.43 yuan or about RM39mil in total remuneration before tax for the year 2017 to its top executive.

Notably, the Beijing-based ICBC’s net profit’s was at a whopping US$45.6bil (RM182bil) in 2017.

Sources: Gurmeet Kaur and Yvonne Tan The Star

GLC singers sing a different tune

Some officials singing 'Hebat Negaraku'.

 Swan song for some after 'Hebat Negaraku' post-GE14 - CEO think video to showcase musical talents

 Several heads of government-linked companies (GLCs) have come together in a heartwarming music video titled "Hebat Negaraku" (my country is great). 

 GLC chiefs show off musical talent in 'Hebat Negaraku' music video ...

https://youtu.be/hfK_wfD17qk

The heads of government linked companies (GLC) who sang a song that later became the theme song for the Barisan Nasional’s election campaign have distanced themselves from the controversial music video.

Those who sang and played musical instruments in the music video titled “Hebat Negaraku” (my country is great) said they did not know the video or the song was going to be a political theme song.

There have been repercussions on the CEOs who appeared in the music video. They have come under scrutiny for making a song that was used as propaganda by Barisan in the last general election.

Three of the GLC bosses in the video have either retired or resigned since the new government took over.

Several more have been speculated to leave in the coming weeks or months but nothing is cast in stone. Sources said this is because most of the CEOs are not known to have campaigned openly for either Barisan or Pakatan Harapan.

“None of the CEOs had a clue it would become a political song. Do you really think the CEOs would have done it if they knew it would become political?” asked one of the CEOs who appeared in the video but declined to be named.

“We have said no to so many things, and we could have easily have said no to this if it was political.’’

Another CEO said he was approached and felt it was “more of a patriotic song and nothing more.”

“At that point in time, we did not think much (of the repercussions). Hebat Negaraku was announced as Barisan’s campaign theme long after the recording was made. We did not know that.’’

Another CEO added: “We thought it was a casual thing when we were approached as some of the CEOs have their own band.’’

It all started when several CEOs were called to be part of a music video and they thought it was to showcase the musical talents of 14 GLCs heads, plus staff members of the 20 key GLCs.

The song is about the greatness, advancement and inspiration of Malaysia. It was released on YouTube on March 22 but has since been taken down.

But fingers have been pointed at the GLCs bosses who made the music video because it became a political video.

Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly has been said to be the main orchestrator for the group in terms of making the music video. He was also said to be the branding chief for Barisan’s elections campaign.

Barisan lost the elections held on May 9 to Pakatan, which has since formed a new government and is scrutinising all the performance, processes, remuneration and procurement of the government and GLCs.

Shazalli quit his job as group CEO of  Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) on June 6. Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) group managing director Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din has retired as group MD last week and it was something he had planned to do.  Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd Datuk Badlisham Ghazali did not get his contract renewed. All three were in the music video.

There is a GLC secretariat that now comes under the purview of TM, which was earlier parked under Khazanah Nasional Bhd. The secretariat organised the making of the music video, according to sources. The CEOs were called to attend a session and within a few hours it was all done with no prior rehearsals.

“When you are called, it could be difficult not to comply since it is the secretariat that called you. We have to oblige but we really did not know it was going to be a campaign slogan. This is really unfortunate that it has turned out like this.

“We were surprised when we found out it was a party slogan but it had already been done and what can we do, we are in the picture,’’ said another CEO.

Not all CEOs who were invited took part in the video. Prior engagements were the reason used for declining to appear. - By b.k. Sidhu The Star


Related news:



More heads expected to roll in GLCs



Saturday, May 5, 2018

Impact of manifestos policy lead from Malaysia's General Electioon (GE14)



Market impact: The reaction of investors following the past two GEs is an example of how investors value certainty and how Bursa will be affected in the event of a Pakatan victory this time around.

Policy directions from political pledges have business and economic consequences.



EVER since Parliament was dissolved ahead of polling for the 14th general election (GE14), the combustible campaigning period has been mirrored by the volatile stock market.

The FBM KLCI hit an all-time high of 1,895 points on April 19, just a week after the dissolution of Parliament, but has since tracked lower as election day nears.

With the market edgy prior to polling day, UOB KayHian in a note on the election says that the election factor is a short-term sway phenomenon.

“While unexpected election results can be a significant market sway factor in the near term, such market reactions have been short-lived in the past.

“For example, when the Barisan Nasional’s control of parliamentary seats surprisingly slipped below two-thirds during GE12, the FBM KLCI plunged by as much as 9.5% in a day, triggering a trading circuit breaker at the worst level,” it says.

The research house notes that the FBM KLCI recouped most of the losses within a couple of weeks, once investors were assured of the continuity of political stability and business-friendly policies.

Both Barisan and Pakatan Harapan are mindful of maintaining business-friendly policies, it says. “Pakatan has on various occasions highlighted that it will generally uphold the sanctity of government contracts should it win the election. Eventually, equity markets will be dictated by external and domestic economic fundamentals and liquidity considerations.”

Market volatility and fierce campaigning do go hand-in-hand, given the uncertainties the outcome of the GE will bear on the stock market and businesses. Experts have said that the direction of the ringgit and also the economy will be determined after polling day as the country charts its political, along with economic and business, direction for the next five years.

“If Barisan wins, it will be seen as a vote for continuity. It will be business as usual, given the various plans and policies the Barisan government has laid out in the past and for the future,” says an economist.

“For businessmen, that mindset of what to expect is important for future planning and direction and they will like not to have any anxiety on what to expect in the future.”

The economic and business direction

The Barisan government, which has been in power since independence, has a track record of what it has done and will do for the country when it comes to business and economic planning.

The various Malaysia plans, budgets and policies announced over the decades have plotted the economic direction of the country. But in recent times, some will look at its manifesto as to the future policy direction the country will adopt should it retain power.

Policy promises are something more voters pay attention to these days, and judging by the manifestos of Barisan and even the Opposition, their documents are detailed with measures they will carry out in the impending five years.

For the Barisan government, the launch of its manifesto was done with much pomp, with it even detailing how it has fulfilled 99.4% of its 2013 manifesto pledges. Much of the focus of its latest manifesto is on the people, in order to lift their incomes and well-being.

These promises include raising the minimum wage in phases to at least RM1,500 within five years to setting up a Fair Works Commission to ensure that the salary levels of private-sector workers are more equitable.

BR1M recipients who enrol in higher education institutes will, meanwhile, receive a one-off assistance of RM1,500 plus there are a slew of measures for the country’s Felda settlers and their family members who are spread out over 317 settlements in 54 parliamentary seats nationwide in the manifesto.

Barisan is also promising to create three million jobs, and among the measures promised to help achieve this is by speeding up the development of the Malaysian Vision Valley, a 150,000ha area that is projected to create 1.3 million job opportunities.

On housing, the manifesto pledges a number of measures including setting up a special bank to facilitate loans for affordable and low-cost housing priced RM300,000 and below.

In addition, tax incentives or development funds will be provided to encourage banks and housing developers to offer rent-to-own schemes.

CIMB Research in a note on Barisan manifesto points out the key pledges which include low-income households, Felda settlers, females, the elderly and farmers.

It points out that the key promises include a top-up on the BR1M payments, raising the minimum wage to RM1,500 within five years, potential revisions in personal and corporate income taxes, expansion of affordable housing aid, special incentives and funds for Felda settlers, and subsidised public transport passes, broadband and other consumer goods/services.

It says that the additional BR1M payments will amount to at least RM3.71bil or 0.25% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, which comes on top of the prior week’s civil servant pay hikes of RM1.46bil effective July 1.

“New spending commitments imply that the budget deficit is unlikely to improve significantly from the target of 2.8% of GDP despite windfalls from higher oil prices and GDP growth,” CIMB says.

It believes the market is expecting the ruling coalition, Barisan, to win the majority of the Parliament seats.

“We view Barisan’s widely expected win as neutral to positive for the market. The stock market’s performance post-election will depend on the degree of selling pressure during the campaigning period and the poll results.”

What the additional cash injection to households will mean is a lift in consumer spending. Consumption is a big driver of the economy and the BR1M payments have been one of the reasons for the steady performance of domestic demand.

“Furthermore, the economy will get a lift from the lift-off from projects that have already been identified for construction. The MRT, the high-speed rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and the construction of Bandar Malaysia will be some of the projects that will lift the construction sector and also the economy,” an economist says.

During the years when pledges from the past Barisan manifesto were being carried out, the economy had its ups and downs given the crunch felt by the collapse in crude oil prices.

The GDP, nonetheless, during the past five years has been positive, given the rollout of projects during that period. Growth came in at 5.9% in 2017 and was 4.2% in 2016, 5% in 2015, 6% in 2014 and 4.7% in 2013.

There have been concerns that spending pledges contained in the manifesto would leave a hole in government finances, but indicators so far do not point to that being a problem.

The government’s debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen below the self-prescribed ceiling of 55% to 51% and going by what the data shows in the first quarter, government finances seem to be holding up.

Nomura in a note says that Malaysia’s fiscal deficit was RM11.2bil in the first quarter of 2018, or 3.3% of GDP, which was below its forecast of 6%.

“This is smaller than any of the first-quarter deficits in the previous five years,” it says.

Nomura says revenue collection appears to have exceeded expectations significantly, surging by 16.5% year-on-year in the first quarter and was likely boosted by higher oil prices and possibly some lagged effect from strong GDP growth last year.

“However, more surprisingly, spending appears to have been quite restrained, falling by 2% despite the GE on May 9. Spending details have yet to be released but such restraint may prove temporary with the government likely concentrating the use of its fiscal firepower closer to election day,” it says.

“This likely explains the government’s confidence in maintaining its 2018 deficit target of 2.8% of GDP despite announcements of additional cash handouts around the election.

“While we continue to expect government spending to spike in the second quarter, the surprising outturn in the first quarter suggests that fiscal tightening in the second half may be less severe than we currently forecast,” it says. By Jagdev Singh Sidhu The Star

Election a short-term market sway phenomenon


THE consensus is for the Barisan Nasional to win the upcoming general election (GE) to be held next Wednesday. But what if Pakatan Harapan were to win?

The immediate implications of a Pakatan win will be on the financial markets. The other implication is the impact in the mid to long-term of a Pakatan win on the economy.

The financial markets

There is no precedence for a win by the parliamentary Opposition in Malaysian history, and because investors prefer certainty, the financial markets are sure to be volatile.

The reaction of investors following the past two GEs is example of how investors value certainty and how Bursa Malaysia will be affected in the event of a Pakatan victory this time around.

The local bourse’s benchmark, the FBM KLCI, slipped 9.5% on the first day of trading after the 2008 election, which was held on a Saturday. This was after Barisan lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time and also lost control of five state legislatures.

In 2013, the stock market fell the week before the election on speculation of an Opposition victory at the federal level. That was the year when many felt sure that Barisan would lose. The Barisan clung on to power but lost the popular vote. The stock market rallied.

While there certainly was a reaction by investors, it must be noted that the Malaysian financial markets, including the stock market, do not act in isolation.

In 2008, fund flows were also influenced by broader movements in the global markets made volatile by the global financial crisis.

“Don’t forget that news flow from the US markets was bad on a daily basis,” a fund manager with an emerging-market portfolio points out.

Shortly after the 2008 election, Bear Stearns Companies Inc, an investment bank, was taken over by another investment bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, in an operation largely directed by the US Federal Reserve (Fed), which was afraid of what the failure of a Wall Street institution would do to market confidence.

The fund manager tells StarBizWeek that investors just took the opportunity to offload riskier emerging-market assets following the outcome of the election.

“It’s normal to point to market swings either way to domestic factors but in reality, for the index to move, institutional shareholders must react and they rarely do so on just domestic factors, especially in that period of time,” he says.

The same reasoning goes for currency movements. The ringgit’s weakness in the past month has been blamed on investor jitters prior to the upcoming election, but pressure on the currency is really coming from rising US bond yields.

Investors are repositioning on market speculation of four instead of three US interest rate hikes and this has had an impact on emerging-market currencies as well as equity markets.

Although the Fed left the benchmark interest rate unchanged in a recent meeting, officials say that inflation is close to the 2% target. The market expects the Fed to raise the federal funds rate a second time in June when it next meets.

How this works is that investors are anticipating that new US government bonds will now be issued with a higher coupon rate, which is the interest that is paid out annually on the bonds because of the higher interest rates. Also, because of the anticipation, the earlier issued bonds, with a lower coupon rate, will now be traded at a lower price, and because there is an inverse relationship between bond prices and yields, there is a rise in bond yields.

This is why the benchmark 10-year US Treasuries yield is now higher, because the price has dropped, causing US bond yields to narrow against the yields of similar-tenor bonds of foreign government issuers.

For example, the yields between the 10-year Malaysian Government Securities and the 10-year Treasuries have narrowed, making Treasuries – because of its safe-haven status and underlying currency strength – a more attractive asset.

An interest rate hike also means that inflationary pressure is picking up because of economic growth and that will attract investors too.

The steady US economic outlook, US dollar strength and safe-haven status at a time of much geopolitical uncertainty are also attractive factors. Currency strategists point to US dollar movements as more important when taking into account the US dollar/ringgit pairing. The decisions of US policymakers as well as other external factors such as trade will have more weight on the ringgit’s direction rather than purely domestic factors.

Even the rising oil price has not been able to stem the weakness in the ringgit, and that is because of the investors repositioning rather than any inherent political risks.

However, a political analyst did say that without the higher oil price, the ringgit could have seen a steeper fall. “It could be that rising US bond yields is the reason for the ringgit’s weakness but I believe that political factors are at play too and that without the higher oil price, the ringgit would have fallen even more,” he says.

The economy

A Pakatan government will have to find a middle path in unravelling some of the more unpopular policies, while ensuring policy continuity and assuaging the concerns of investors.

Both Barisan and Pakatan claim to have the people’s welfare at heart, and both claim they want to alleviate the cost-of-living issue that Malaysians have been grappling with in recent years. The Pakatan coalition is also calling for the shaping of the nation’s economy in a fair and just manner.

The Pakatan promises must take into account the urgent need for the economy to move up the value chain. In one respect, a focus on high-end manufacturing will have a positive spillover effect, as such initiatives will attract high-end service jobs including banking and financial services as well as research and development opportunities.

The Pakatan manifesto launched in early March includes 10 promises to be implemented within 100 days of winning the election. Among the promises are the abolishment of the goods and services tax, reintroducing the petrol subsidy and increasing the minimum wage to RM1,500 by their first term in office.

Moody’s Investor Service analysts say in a report released yesterday that the implications on the country’s credit standing will be determined by the impact of the election results on existing government policies, with particular regard to fiscal consolidation and debt trend.

“Ahead of the election, Barisan and the key opposition, Pakatan, have both unveiled their manifestos and specific spending programmes targeted at key voter bases. These measures include raising the minimum wage, greater cash handouts and relief for Federal Land Development Authority settlers, among others,” they say.

The rating agency, which has maintained the country’s A3 credit profile with a “stable” outlook, says the impact of these programmes on the sovereign credit will depend on how they are funded and whether they have a negative effect by delaying the government’s ongoing efforts at fiscal consolidation.

“Economically, these programmes are likely to boost consumption over the near term but against the backdrop of Malaysia’s export-driven growth, the impact is not likely to be material and could be offset by inflation,” they note.

Another crucial promise is to launch detailed studies of multi-billion-ringgit projects awarded to foreign countries. This particular promise is likely aimed at China, which has become a major investor, if not the largest in recent years, with not only infrastructure projects but also property development.

Pakatan will have to tread carefully where reviewing contracts is concerned, as the sanctity of contracts is crucial to investor confidence.

“Any review of the mega-projects will have to be done in a tactful manner. Malaysia is not the United States, we don’t have the heft, so we need to be careful,” an analyst says.- by Fintan Ng The Star

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Chinese are the unsung heroes of South East Asia, Robert Kuok Memoirs


https://youtu.be/oU0tz-3Uzeg


They are the most amazing economic ants on Earth, ‘Sugar King’ writes in memoir

 Good Chinese business management is second to none; the very best of Chinese management is without compare. I haven’t seen others come near to it in my 70year career. Robert Kuok

The overseas Chinese were the unsung heroes of the region, having helped to build South East Asia to what it is today, said Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok (pic).

He said that it was the Chinese immigrants who tackled difficult task such as planting and tapping rubber, opening up tin mines, and ran small retail shops which eventually created a new economy around them.

"It was the Chinese who helped build up Southeast Asia. The Indians also played a big role, but the Chinese were the dominant force in helping to build the economy.

"They came very hungry and eager as immigrants, often barefooted and wearing only singlets and trousers. They would do any work available, as an honest income meant they could have food and shelter.

"I will concede that if they are totally penniless, they will do almost anything to get their first seed capital. But once they have some capital, they try very hard to rise above their past and advance their reputations as totally moral, ethical businessmen," Kuok said based on excerpts of his memoir reported in the South China Morning Post .

“Robert Kuok, A Memoir’ is set to be released in Malaysia on Dec 1.

Kuok said the Chinese immigrants were willing to work harder than anyone else and were willing to "eat bitterness", hence, were the most amazing economic ants on earth.

In the extracted memoir published by the South China Morning Post, Kuok, pointed out that if there were any businesses to be done on earth, one can be sure that a Chinese will be there.

"They will know whom to see, what to order, how best to save, how to make money. They don’t need expensive equipment or the trappings of office; they just deliver.

"I can tell you that Chinese businessmen compare notes every waking moment of their lives. There are no true weekends or holidays for them. That’s how they work. Every moment, they are listening, and they have skilfully developed in their own minds – each and every one of them – mental sieves to filter out rubbish and let through valuable information.

"Good Chinese business management is second to none; the very best of Chinese management is without compare. I haven’t seen others come near to it in my 70-year career," he said.

"They flourish without the national, political and financial sponsorship or backing of their host countries. In Southeast Asia, the Chinese are often maltreated and looked down upon. Whether you go to Malaysia, Sumatra or Java, the locals call you Cina – pronounced Chee-na – in a derogatory way," he said.

He added that the Chinese had no "fairy godmothers" financial backers.

"Yet, despite facing these odds, the overseas Chinese, through hard work, endeavour and business shrewdness, are able to produce profits of a type that no other ethnic group operating in the same environment could produce," he said.

Kuok ultimately attributed the Chinese survivability in Southeast Asia to its cultural strength.

"They knew what was right and what was wrong. Even the most uneducated Chinese, through family education, upbringing and social environment, understands the ingredients and consequences of behaviour such as refinement, humility, understatement, coarseness, bragging and arrogance," he said.


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