Malaysia Update: July 1, 2019

Malaysia Update | July 1, 2019
Authors: Kim Yaeger, Dim Mang
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Malaysia’s National Gas Industry

On June 26, at the inaugural Malaysian Gas Symposium (MgGAS 2019), the Ministry of Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Mohd Radzi md Jidin stated that Malaysia seeks to sustain its growing oil and gas industry. These industries, which make up Malaysia’s second highest export earners, are key contributors to the country’s trade. Additionally, the Deputy Minister added that Malaysia holds a significant position in the global market as the country is ranked the world’s fourth largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Some of Malaysia’s key initiatives to foster this growth trajectory include the National Oil and Gas Services and Equipment (OGSE) Industry Blueprint Study under the 12th Malaysia Plan. This program aims to elevate the competitiveness of local players, thereby promoting long-term resilience and industry sustainability. Additionally, the government has also collaborated with industry players to publish an Oil, Gas, Energy and Environment White Paper on Malaysia’s Future Energy Landscape.

By 2035, the demand for energy will have grown more than 70 percent, with gas supplying more than 40 percent of the additional demand. Malaysia hopes to capitalize on this trajectory by liberalizing its energy industry and combining natural gas with renewables. In order to continue to foster this initiative, Malaysia will be hosting the 7th International Energy Forum (IEF) and the International Gas Union (IGU) Ministerial Gas Forum in September 2020.

IMF praises Malaysia’s efforts

On June 24, 2019, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor, Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, met with IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, to discuss the measures Malaysia is taking to improve its economic development. Ms. Lagarde praised Malaysia’s 2019 Budget’s return to fiscal discipline, in addition to acknowledging the government’s commitment to fighting corruption.

A speech presented at the University of Malaya – Kuala Lumpur, Lagarde celebrated Malaysia’s achievements. These include a real annual GDP growth averaging at 5.5 percent since 2000, as well as a real income per capita growth of nearly 6 percent per year. The average life expectancy for Malaysians has also increased by almost 3 years, with Lagarde owing these achievements to the nation pursuing economic diversification, strengthening the financial sector, and focusing on sustainable growth. Lagarde also paid a nod to the Bayan Lepas Free dustrial zone, the home to many digital media companies and web-based financial services in the nation. Reflecting on the success that Malaysia has achievement in the past few years, she also recognized that there is still work to be done. Malaysia must continue to improve governance and tackle corruption, invest in high-quality education, and boost labor force participation of women, Lagarde notes.

Though Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng stated last week that Malaysia had registered a 73.4 percent jump in approved foreign direct investments to RM29.3 billion (7.09 billion USD) in the first quarter of 2019, Lagarde cautioned that the ongoing US-China trade war is the biggest risk to global economic growth, particularly that the trade diversion to Malaysia may not translate into long-term benefits.

1MDB case against Goldman Sachs delayed to September

The Government of Malaysia’s criminal case against U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs will be postponed to September, according to a court ruling on Monday, June 24. The case, involving $6.5 billion 1Malaysia Development Berhad bonds, will now have a fixed September 30 date for case management.

In December 2018, Malaysian prosecutors filed charges against three Goldman Sachs units, in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore, for misleading investors by making untrue statements and omitting facts related to bond issues that Goldman Sachs had arranged for 1MDB. In response, Goldman Sachs stated that certain members of the former Malaysian government, under then-Prime Minister Najib Razak, and 1MDB lied about how proceeds from the bond sales would be used.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon issued an apology to the Malaysian people though the bank still asserts that they did not break any laws involving the deals they facilitated for 1MDB. Malaysia is seeking up to $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman over its dealings, though Goldman Sachs has offered to compensate 1 billion ringgits ($241.73 million). Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad states that is “not adequate” and that Malaysia’s finance ministry will decide on a more specific amount of compensation soon.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
Malaysia to decriminalise drug use, says health minister
Losses from 1MDB, corruptions hampered govt's ability to spend - Lim
MITI establishes new advisory council TIAC
MACC to announce another list of 1MDB civil forfeiture respondents within two weeks
MACC clears Azmin of shady money transfer allegations (updated)
Motion to lower voting age to 18 to be tabled in Parliament in July
Malaysia's Mahathir vows stern action against Pasir Gudang polluter
Malaysia serves summonses to three Goldman Sachs units in 1MDB case
Malaysia's 1MDB criminal case against Goldman Sachs delayed to...
Malaysia's PM Mahathir says there is no need for Azmin to step down over video scandal
Former Malaysia defence minister Hishamuddin questioned over land swop deals
Malaysia's 93-year-old leader on when he will step down: 'I will not go beyond three years'
Dr M vows ahead of Asean to help Rohingya bound for Malaysia
Malaysia seeks $65m stolen from state fund 1MDB
Bank Negara appoints Aznan Abdul Aziz as assistant governor
Vested interests may be holding back reforms

ASEAN
‘Intra-Asean trade should be increased’
Dr M: Malaysia welcomes joint Asean bid to host 2034 World Cup
Malaysia wants Asean to come together to draft South China Sea conduct code

Customs
Canada has no plans to take back plastic waste in Malaysia
Customs seizes 5,255 baby tortoises destined for India
Malaysia looking into e-commerce tax
Export value of Malaysia's chocolate on the rise since 2015
Customs sniffs out millions of contraband cigarettes

Defense & Security
All Eyes on Malaysia's Defense White Paper: A Blueprint For a New Era - With or Without Dr. Mahathir
Malaysia’s Defense Corruption Challenge in the Spotlight

Economics
Malaysia economy to grow better in 2H
Malaysia's labour productivity grew 2.2pct in 2018, surpassing some developed nations
Want to compete? Prepare for digitalisation, finance minister tells SMEs | Malay Mail
IMF chief praises Malaysia's efforts to rebuild buffers, fight corruption
Govt does not intend to impose inheritance tax in Budget 2020
Malaysia must raise productivity to achieve high-income status
Ingredients for Malaysia's Economic Prosperity
Malaysia's economic direction clearer despite temporary "chaos": analysts
Dr M says priority is to reduce country's debts before stepping down
Malaysia has ample liquidity to buffer foreign sell-off
Changes in asset management alter business landscape in Malaysia
BNM international reserves at US$102.8b as at May 15
'Expect palm oil price recovery'

Energy
Domestic consumers unaffected by higher generation cost for electricity for 2H19
Innovation And Collaboration Are The Keys To Malaysia's Energy Transition
Malaysia strengthens its position as a key gas player in the region
Expected crude oil price rebound positive for oil, gas sector
Rajiv: No question of political will, govt on track with renewable energy targets
White paper on Malaysia’s energy future aimed at achieving Paris Agreement pledge
Mahathir Bin Mohamad Plots A Path To A Sustainable Future For Malaysia
Malaysia actively pursuing energy market reforms to attract investment: Azmin
Malaysia: ASEAN’s biggest solar employer
11 Million People Now Have Jobs In Renewable Energy

Financial Services
Dr M: Government may tax e-commerce businesses
Consumers in Malaysia unhappy with e-commerce delivery experience: Study
CEO: Time for e-wallet environment to consolidate
Asia Pacific – Banking, financial services and insurance industry reports growth in online recruitment
Bank Negara: Financial Threat Intelligence Platform operational before year-end
Bursa Malaysia's new CEO wants to make it a marketplace for every asset class
BNM seeks feedback on electronic trading policy framework
Guan Eng: Malaysia Welcomes Investments That Raise Skills, Wages

Food & Agriculture
Superfruits to be planted in Balik Pulau — Chow
Palm oil posts its longest quarterly slump on record
Malaysia to further spearhead global halal ecosystem
Future of agro sector rests on youths

Health & Life Sciences
Malaysia schools shut after children fall sick
Malaysia proposes softening drug laws
Health ministry sets up special committee to study control over e-cigarettes | Malay Mail

ICT
Affordability and 5G race are reasons why Malaysia continues to support Huawei, says telco regulator
Malaysia among countries eyed by Apple to move production capacity
Malaysia Launches Work Visa Program for Blockchain Tech Professionals
Malaysia serious on tech talent development agenda - Gobind
Dr Mahathir suggests ASEAN countries introduce taxes on online businesses
The National 5G task force to brief policymakers on 5G this week
KKMM to coordinate tech agencies to avoid overlapping functions
BNM to establish financial threat intelligence platform
Retailers told to leverage on digital platform

Infrastructure
Malaysian company managing High-Speed Rail project appoints consultants to review design, cut cost
Finance Ministry must be transparent in stating cost for four highways
Govt plans nationwide port expansion
Operators urged to make public transport cashless
Landowners affected by ECRL project will be compensated, says Loke
Sabah ports have potential to compete with Singapore, Philippines — Chief Minister
Baru pledges to develop all roads in Sarawak, despite restrictions
Make it easier to get financial aid for tourism projects, urges Guan Eng
Johor planning to build $4.9m covered walkway along Causeway
Baru: Pan Borneo Highway project will not be halted

Travel & Tourism
Malaysia among top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific
Ethnic groups must help the govt to develop national tourism
Promote tourism, MRCA tells govt
Indonesia promoting Malay culture, history as tourism draw
Malaysian spa, travel agency associations partner to grow wellness tourism
Tourism Industry sees 16.9pct growth in first quarter
Tourism bodies sign MoU on wellness tourism
Malaysians should be country's tourism ambassadors
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Malaysia to decriminalise drug use, says health minister Al Jazeera 28th Jun 2019
Malaysia, which has long imposed harsh penalties for the possession of drugs, will stop the criminal prosecution of users in what Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad described as a "game changer policy". Dzulkefly noted that 30 countries around the world had already taken steps towards decriminalisation stressing that the decision was a "sensible path forward" and did not mean Malaysia was legalising drugs. "Decriminalisation is the removal of criminal penalties for possessing and using a small quantity of drugs for personal use, as opposed to those who are involved in trafficking drugs," he said in a statement. "Trafficking of drugs will undoubtedly remain a crime."

Losses from 1MDB, corruptions hampered govt's ability to spend - Lim New Straits Times 27th Jun 2019
The government’s ability to spend more especially on the people’s welfare programme have been hampered by financial constraints due to losses sustained from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and other related corruptions cases, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. “The government would like to spend more but at the end of the day, legacy issues like 1MDB are still something we have to deal with. No country can lose RM150 billion without being hurt from it,” he said at the 2020 Budget Consultation meeting here today. The government according to him hoped to achieve five per cent growth in the GDP this year, adding that it would take three years to get Malaysia back on track after suffering losses due to 1MDB debts.

MITI establishes new advisory council TIAC New Straits Times 27th Jun 2019
The newly formed Trade and Industry Advisory Council (TIAC) is set to forge policies, strategies and potential reforms of the country’s international trade, investment promotion and industry development. International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Datuk Darell Leiking said TIAC comprises 12 members from different organisations, representing diverse perspectives, expertise, affiliations and experiences to shape the government’s policies. “Today is the appointment of TIAC members with the inaugural meeting before progressing to serious meeting in August.

MACC to announce another list of 1MDB civil forfeiture respondents within two weeks The Star Online 27th Jun 2019
A new list of individuals and entities involved in the civil forfeiture action by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will be released within two weeks. MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said the list of respondents was extensive and his team needed time to undertake detailed checks concerning witnesses and the location of assets. He also said they needed to handle other aspects such as a shortlist of names and discussions with investigators and the Attorney General's office. "For those we can take legal action against, we will do so," he said after a basic training course as well as a management and professional course for MACC officers here Thursday (June 27).

MACC clears Azmin of shady money transfer allegations (updated) The Star Online 26th Jun 2019
The alleged transfer of US$741,440 (RM3.1mil) from UEM Group Bhd into the bank account bearing the name Datuk Seri Azmin Ali does not exist, says the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Its deputy chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki said an investigation was launched after Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam lodged a police report on the matter earlier this month. The investigation however revealed that the transaction between the accounts does not exist, and neither do the accounts.

Motion to lower voting age to 18 to be tabled in Parliament in July New Straits Times 25th Jun 2019
The motion to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat during the July sitting, said Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun. He said the motion, which would involve amending the Federal Constitution, would be tabled on July 4. “If the motion is passed, many more youths and students of institutions of higher learning, including government polytechnics, will be eligible to vote in the next general election,” he told a media conference after launching the Voter Education Programme with Kuching Polytechnic. Azhar said, until the first quarter of this year, there were still 3.8 million youths yet to register as voters even though they have reached the eligible age.

Malaysia's Mahathir vows stern action against Pasir Gudang polluter The Straits Times 25th Jun 2019
The Malaysian government has vowed to take stern action against the culprits behind the chemical pollution incident in the Pasir Gudang district in Johor. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said: "It is rather unfortunate. The incident should not have happened again. "But we can see that there are some industries that are not too concerned on security." "That is why we have to identify who polluted the environment there, and we will take stern action against them," he told reporters on the sidelines of the 33rd Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Tuesday (June 25). All schools in Pasir Gudang district were ordered to close for three days following chemical pollution in the area, said the state Education Department.

Malaysia serves summonses to three Goldman Sachs units in 1MDB case The Star Online 24th Jun 2019
Malaysia has served summonses to all three Goldman Sachs Group Inc units that it seeks to indict in the case involving troubled state fund 1MDB. Four summonses were served in total as Delaware-based Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC has two addresses, while charges were also sent to Goldman Sachs International (UK) and Goldman Sachs (Singapore), Deputy Public Prosecutor Aaron Chelliah said in Kuala Lumpur Monday (June 24). The court set Sept 30 for the next pre-trial hearing after Goldman’s lawyer said the charges remain incomplete.

Malaysia's 1MDB criminal case against Goldman Sachs delayed to... Reuters 24th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s criminal case against U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs involving $6.5 billion 1MDB bonds will be postponed to September, a court ruled on Monday, after defense lawyers asked for more time to receive instructions from their clients abroad. Malaysian prosecutors had previously issued summonses to three Goldman Sachs units in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore, requiring them to respond to criminal charges filed against them over bond issues that the bank had arranged for state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The U.S. Department of Justice estimates $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB between 2009 and 2014, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped raise.

Malaysia's PM Mahathir says there is no need for Azmin to step down over video scandal The Straits Times 24th Jun 2019
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday (June 24) again came to the defence of Economics Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, saying the minister does not have to step down over a sex-video scandal. Asked to comment on the views of Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, Tun Dr Mahathir's media adviser, that Datuk Seri Azmin should step aside to protect the government from the explosive scandal, the Prime Minister said: "No, there is no necessity simply because in other countries people do something." "I know in one country if a plane crashes in the airfield, the minister of transport resigns or throws himself out of a building, but it is not our way", The Star daily quoted him as saying.

Former Malaysia defence minister Hishamuddin questioned over land swop deals The Straits Times 23rd Jun 2019
Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein showed up at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters for questioning on land swop deals involving his former ministry. The Sembrong Member of Parliament arrived at the MACC office at 11am on Sunday (June 23) in a black MPV. "I will give full cooperation, without fear or favour. I have nothing to hide, so let's get to the bottom of this," said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, who stopped his car before entering the building to greet reporters who had been waiting for his arrival. He added that he was not sure what he will be questioned about and how long the interrogation would take.

Malaysia's 93-year-old leader on when he will step down: 'I will not go beyond three years' CNBC 23rd Jun 2019
Mahathir Mohamad, the 93-year-old prime minister of Malaysia, said on Saturday that he will step down within three years and hand over the reins to Anwar Ibrahim — his protege-turned-rival before the two reconciled again to win last year's general elections. Questions on when Mahathir will step down and who will succeed him have intensified in recent weeks. Even though Mahathir had said publicly that Anwar will replace him, there was speculation that the prime minister preferred his successor to be Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali. And Mahathir's seeming refusal to commit to a clear timeline on when he will hand over power raised concerns about the stability of the Malaysian government, especially since the popularity of the ruling coalition has plunged.

Dr M vows ahead of Asean to help Rohingya bound for Malaysia New Straits Times 21st Jun 2019
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad vowed to help Rohingya Muslims seeking refuge in Malaysia, reiterating the call for Southeast Asian leaders to "stop the oppression" of the stateless minority group expelled from Myanmar. Last year Dr Mahathir castigated Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) meet in Singapore for defending the military's crackdown on the Rohingya. His direct condemnation of Suu Kyi was a departure from the usually staid meetings of the 10-country regional bloc, whose members normally avoid confrontation.

Malaysia seeks $65m stolen from state fund 1MDB Al Jazeera 21st Jun 2019
Malaysia's anti-corruption agency has begun legal action to recover 270 million ringgit ($65.1m) embezzled from the scandal-ridden state fund 1MDB, and estimates assets overseas worth a further $5bn may also be recoverable. Latheefa Koya, the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), said the agency has filed complaints against 41 individuals and entities to recover money given to them by former Prime Minister Najib Razak. Najib was overthrown in a shock defeat in general elections last year and is currently on trial in Kuala Lumpur in the first of a series of cases related to the scandal at 1MDB. He pleaded not guilty when the trial opened and has denied any wrongdoing.

Bank Negara appoints Aznan Abdul Aziz as assistant governor The Star Online 18th Jun 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia has appointed Aznan Abdul Aziz as assistant governor with effect from July 1. The central bank said on Tuesday Aznan will be responsible for the payments oversight, financial conglomerates supervision, banking supervision, insurance and Takaful supervision as well as risk specialist and technology supervision departments.

Vested interests may be holding back reforms The Star Online 17th Jun 2019
Vested interests could be resisting some of the reforms that were promised by the government, said Khazanah Research Institute’s senior adviser Jomo Kwame Sundaram. “So it is not easy. We are talking about trying to bring about reforms where there are strong vested interests who are going to resist reforms,” Jomo told reporters on the sidelines of the Malaysian Economic Convention 2019.

ASEAN

‘Intra-Asean trade should be increased’ The Star Online 24th Jun 2019
PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says it is high time Asean member countries took special efforts to increase trade within the grouping.

Dr M: Malaysia welcomes joint Asean bid to host 2034 World Cup The Star Online 23rd Jun 2019
Malaysia welcomes Asean's move to launch a joint bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2034, a first for the region. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad said five Asean countries had mooted the idea during the 34th Asean Summit here on Sunday (June 23). "We felt that alone (single nation bids), we will never have the chance to host the World Cup. Maybe (with) all Asean together, we will be able to hold the World Cup. "Of course, games can be played in all Asean countries, like when Japan and South Korea played host in 2002," he told the Malaysian media after concluding his four-day visit to the kingdom. Earlier, Asean chairman Gen Prayuth Chan o-cha said all 10 member countries had agreed to launch a joint bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2034.

Malaysia wants Asean to come together to draft South China Sea conduct code The Star Online 22nd Jun 2019
Malaysia has urged Asean member countries to come together in drafting a Code of Conduct (COC) so that the South China Sea dispute can be resolved amicably, says Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah. He said Malaysia’s stand on the dispute is that it should not be discussed separately among member countries that had made overlapping claims to the area. The discussion on the setting up of the COC at the 34th Asean summit in Bangkok should be done by Asean as a group with China, he said. "The COC, which will be debated by the yearend, must be done by Asean as a group. We will stress this matter as there have been attempts by one or two Asean member countries to discuss it individually,” he told the Malaysian media after attending Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) here Saturday.

Customs

Canada has no plans to take back plastic waste in Malaysia The Star Online 14th Jun 2019
Ottawa has no plans to pick up plastic waste that originated in Canada and is currently parked in Malaysia, a spokesman for Canada's environment ministry said on Thursday. In late May, the Malaysian government said it would send back 3,000 tons of plastic waste back to 14 countries of origin, including Canada, the United States, Japan, France, Australia and Britain. In an email statement to Reuters, Environment and Climate Change Canada spokesman Gabrielle Lamontagne said, "there are no plans for the Canadian government to pick up waste in Malaysia."

Customs seizes 5,255 baby tortoises destined for India The Star Online 26th Jun 2019
The Customs Department has seized 5,255 baby tortoises from two suspects on transit to India. In a press conference at the department's office here, Central Zone Customs assistant director-general, Datuk Zulkurnain Mohamed Yusuf said that the seizure was made on June 20 at KLIA2. "The two men had just arrived from Guangzhou, China. The checks conducted on their luggage led to the discovery of the red-eared slider tortoises. "They were kept in baskets placed in their suitcases," he said. Further inspections on the animals showed that not all survived the trip, as the suitcases had no special tools or food to keep the tortoises alive. The department estimated the total worth of the seizure to be around RM52,550.

Malaysia looking into e-commerce tax OpenGov Asia 25th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s Prime Minister reportedly stated that the country should impose an e-commerce tax against online businesses, given how their growth presently exceeds that of businesses utilising ‘traditional’ models such as physical retail stores. Speaking to reporters after the 34th ASEAN Summit gala dinner on 22 June 2019, the PM noted that governments have been collecting “less tax” as many brick-and-mortar stores have been shutting down, as many goods can be bought online now. Online business is affecting other businesses. Through direct-selling, less tax is obtained, also the tax goes to the country where the product is generated, and Malaysia is not able to make anything, he said.

Export value of Malaysia's chocolate on the rise since 2015 CNA 24th Jun 2019
Malaysian manufactured chocolates have been well received overseas with the export value showing a rise since 2015. The export value rose to RM598.09 million (US$144 million) in 2016 compared to RM470.99 million previously, primary industries minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim said on Monday (Jun 24). The export value in 2017 also rose to RM868.60 million, she added. "In 2018, the export value was even higher at RM1.03 billion, while for the first quarter of this year (January to March) it registered RM233.42 million," she added. At present, Malaysian chocolates are exported to 128 countries with key market segments being Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Japan and China.

Customs sniffs out millions of contraband cigarettes The Star Online 15th Jun 2019
The Penang Customs Department seized more than 3.7 million sticks of contraband and clove cigarettes worth nearly RM2.6mil, including tax, in two separate operations. Its director Datuk Saidi Ismail said the value of the contraband was close to RM300,000, while the tax was valued at about RM2.3mil. He said some 708,000 sticks of con­­­­­tra­band cigarettes were found at a vacant building in Jalan Batu Maung in the first operation on Tuesday. “The contraband cigarettes are worth RM56,952 with unpaid taxes of RM321,956. “We believe the syndicate members had placed their goods in this vacant building to avoid detection.

Defense & Security

All Eyes on Malaysia's Defense White Paper: A Blueprint For a New Era - With or Without Dr. Mahathir Malaysia Chronicle 18th Jun 2019
Over the past 40 years Malaysia has been able to solve most regional security issues through diplomacy. The country has also been able to maintain a balance between competing China and the US through a pseudo-non-alignment where it has cooperated with each superpower when its interests are best suited. Putra Jaya’s bilateral relations with its immediate neighbors have been relatively good as well over the past two decades. The ASEAN philosophy of non-interference has suited Malaysia well. However, this era of relative international peace has lured successive governments into a sense of complacency about defense matters, with rampant corruption and the Royal Malaysian Air Force in particular allowed to run down substantially.

Malaysia’s Defense Corruption Challenge in the Spotlight The Diplomat 20th Jun 2019
Last week, Malaysia’s defense ministry lodged a report with the country’s anti-graft agency over a previous non-delivery of helicopters. While the helicopter scandal is just one of several of such cases that the Southeast Asian state has exposed, it has once again put the spotlight on the future of Malaysia’s defense policy under the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, which took power following a shock election outcome last May.

Economics

Malaysia economy to grow better in 2H NST Online 26th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow better in the second-half of this year, driven a steady pick-up in services, mining and construction sectors. MIDF Research said the overall business performance is projected to improve steadily for the next six months. “Strong domestic demand and low inflationary pressure are fundamental factors supporting the services sectors,” it said in a research note today. The research house said the manufacturing sector, which is export-oriented is predicted to experience moderation following the global trade slowdown. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s leading economic index surged by 2.6 per cent month-on-month (MoM) in April as six out of seven components recorded increases.

Malaysia's labour productivity grew 2.2pct in 2018, surpassing some developed nations New Straits Times 25th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s productivity growth has surpassed many developed countries including China, Japan and Australia and remains ahead of selected Asian countries. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking said despite the strong footing, the country needed to redouble efforts to remove barriers to productivity growth at both macro and micro economic levels, as outlined in the Malaysia Productivity Blueprint (MPB). “The five thrusts of the MPB namely building workforce of the future, driving digitalisation and innovation, making industry accountable for productivity, forging a robust ecosystem and securing a strong implementation mechanism are all important to propel Malaysian businesses to be at par with global best practices for productivity,” he said at the launch of Malaysia’s productivity report here today.

Want to compete? Prepare for digitalisation, finance minister tells SMEs | Malay Mail Malay Mail 25th Jun 2019
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have to be prepared for digitalisation in order to be able to compete effectively in the challenging business environment with the rise of new technology. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said businesses that are unprepared were risked being left behind by its competitors equipped with the right culture and expertise in providing products and services in complex and hyperconnected market. “Despite its large contribution to the economy, SMEs face a challenging business environment. Introduction of new technology, especially relating to Industry 4.0, is disrupting various SMEs’ model so thoroughly that they have no choice but to change,” said Lim in his opening speech at the Malaysia SME Business Summit, citing that SMEs are expected to contribute up to 41 per cent to the Malaysian gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020.

IMF chief praises Malaysia's efforts to rebuild buffers, fight corruption New Straits Times 25th Jun 2019
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) is impressed with Malaysia’s economic development and resolve to strengthen fiscal discipline, as reflected in the measures being undertaken in the 2019 Budget. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, after meeting Bank Negara Malaysia governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus here yesterday, expressed positive overtures about Malaysia’s economy. She said she was pleased to see Malaysia’s 2019 Budget seeking a return to fiscal discipline. “It is good to see Malaysia is rebuilding its buffers just in case of rainy days to come,” Lagarde said after visiting the central bank.

Govt does not intend to impose inheritance tax in Budget 2020 The Star Online 25th Jun 2019
The government has no intention of imposing new taxes in the upcoming 2020 Budget especially in regards to the inheritance tax, says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. He said there are a lot of rumours alleging that Pakatan Harapan government intended to introduce inheritance tax. "It is unlikely. If there are, it is just a follow up of what we have announced in 2019 Budget,” he told reporters during Malaysia SME Business Summit, today. Speculation about the introduction of inheritance tax has been swirling since prior to the tabling of the 2019 Budget, which the market feared would discourage investors’ interest, especially on Bursa Malaysia.

Malaysia must raise productivity to achieve high-income status The Star Online 24th Jun 2019
Malaysia needs to increase its productivity if it is to achieve its goal to become a high-income nation in the next decade, said International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde. She said despite the economic success over the past 20 years, Malaysia's productivity did not grow as much as the country had hoped. "Malaysia can meet this challenge with creativity and enhance its recipe for success. To get there, you will need the right mix of ingredients to create an inclusive and sustainable long-term growth,” she said during a special engagement session entitled "Ingredients for Good Governance and Economic Prosperity" at Universiti Malaya, on Monday.

Ingredients for Malaysia's Economic Prosperity IMF 24th Jun 2019
Let us start with Malaysia’s record of success. Malaysia should be enormously proud of its achievements over the past twenty years. Since 2000, Malaysia’s real annual GDP growth averaged 5.5 percent. Real income per capita grew by nearly 6 percent per year. Average life expectancy has increased by almost 3 years. How did you get here? In part by pursuing economic diversification, strengthening the financial sector and focusing on sustainable growth. The result has been a more inclusive, resilient Malaysia that was able to withstand the impact when the global financial crisis struck in 2008. True to the spirit of this country, you took adversity and turned it into new opportunity.

Malaysia's economic direction clearer despite temporary "chaos": analysts New Straits Times 21st Jun 2019
Malaysia’s economic direction is clearer now despite the temporary “chaos” during the transition period that has worsened investors’ confidence, analysts said. Some also expect the ringgit to edge higher against the US dollar in the coming months, with Singapore-based OCBC Bank projecting it to trade just above 4.1600 by the year-end. Malaysia saw a change in government following Barisan Nasional’s loss in the general election in May last year. MIDF Research said the country was bracing for a better growth this year than the 4.7 per cent posted in 2018.

Dr M says priority is to reduce country's debts before stepping down The Star Online 21st Jun 2019
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will continue to focus on reducing the country's debts before ending his tenure as Prime Minister for the second term. When asked what was the one thing he wanted to fix before stepping down, he said: "The debt." Dr Mahathir said the debt was too big for the country and it needed to be reduced. "But when you compare with the GDP (Gross Domestic Product)...as the GDP grows, the percentage of debt reduces, that is one solution. "The other solution is to sell assets," he said at "The Future of Malaysia and Asean" session held in conjunction with the Asean Business Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Malaysia has ample liquidity to buffer foreign sell-off New Straits Times 20th Jun 2019
Malaysia has ample liquidity in the capital market to buffer foreign sell-off activity which currently stands at RM4.86 billion year-to-date. Securities Commission (SC) chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar said Malaysia has a strong fundamental in macroeconomic backed by well poised stockbrokers and intermediaries. “This is what we try to improve - on discipline and allow more liberties to make the market resilient,” said after launching the Institute for Capital Market Research’s first joint-research titled “The Evolving Business of Asset Management: Malaysia’s Perspective”, with the Japanese Nomura Institute of Capital Markets Research.

Changes in asset management alter business landscape in Malaysia New Straits Times 20th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s asset management industry is showing a sign of slowing down, amid fundamental shifts that are expected to alter the business landscape in future. The Institute for Capital Market Research (ICMR) said the shifts include changing demographic trends and investor preferences, the advent of digitalisation, availability of talent, as well as changes in market regulations and structure. Securities Commission chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar said it was crucial for policies to be thoughful, evidence-based and informed by the stakeholders to cultivate a more vibrant and responsive market.

BNM international reserves at US$102.8b as at May 15 New Straits Times 18th Jun 2019
Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) international reserves stood at US$102.8 billion as at May 15, 2019 from US$103.4 billion at April 30, 2019. In a statement, the central bank said the reserves position is sufficient to finance 7.4 months of retained imports and is 1.1 time total short-term external debt. BNM said the main components of the international reserves, as at April 15, comprised foreign currency reserves at US$96.6 billion, International Monetary Fund reserves position (US$1.1 billion), Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) (US$1.1 billion), gold (US$1.6 billion) and other reserve assets (US$2.4 billion).

'Expect palm oil price recovery' New Straits Times 17th Jun 2019
Crude palm oil (CPO) price could be heading towards a recovery, according to local and international investment banks. This assumption was brought about by the expected drop in palm oil inventory and production in the second half of the year. Hence, investors have been advised to accumulate plantation stocks given the expected growth in earnings once the CPO price picks up in the latter part of the year. Capital Economics Ltd, Intesa Sanpaolo and Maybank Investment Bank Bhd (Maybank IB) expect a pick up in CPO price by the second half of the year.

Energy

Domestic consumers unaffected by higher generation cost for electricity for 2H19 New Straits Times 28th Jun 2019
Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has announced that the implementation of Imbalance Cost Pass-Through (ICPT) mechanism will be continued for the period of 1 July until 31 December 2019. The national utility company in an exchange filing today said for the period of 1 January until 30 June 2019, the additional generation cost or imbalance cost is RM1,592 million due to higher fuel and generation cost. The continuation of the mechanism was approved by the government and via a letter from Suruhanjaya Tenaga (ST) dated 28 June 2019. The filing noted that the continuation of ICPT was due to increase in average coal price to USD99.235/metric tonne, as compared to the forecasted coal price set in the base tariff for Regulatory Period 2 (RP2) from 2018 to 2020, which is at USD75/metric tonne.

Innovation And Collaboration Are The Keys To Malaysia's Energy Transition Forbes 27th Jun 2019
Asia continues to be the fastest growing region in the world today. With its stable economic outlook, Malaysia remains at the center of the region’s development. However, rapid changes in the marketplace, stringent regulatory requirements, including environmental laws as well as geopolitical tensions, pose many challenges for businesses. Despite these uncertainties and challenges, energy demand continues to shift towards Asia. Analysts project that primary energy demand in the region is expected to grow at 2.5 percent per annum and reach 7.1 billion tons of oil equivalent (btoe) in 2035, accounting for 42 percent of the world’s primary energy demand.

Malaysia strengthens its position as a key gas player in the region New Straits Times 26th Jun 2019
Malaysia is poised to further strengthen its potential as a key gas player in the region by capitalising on its existing extensive gas infrastructure. The natural gas industry has also contributed significantly to the national gross domestic product over the years, while encouraging investments opportunities for local businesses. Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said Malaysia has recorded consistent economic expansion due to strong economic fundamentals and diverse sectorial strength despite the ongoing global economic challenges.

Expected crude oil price rebound positive for oil, gas sector The Star Online 18th Jun 2019
The forecasted rebound in global crude oil prices is positive for Malaysia's upstream sector as it will revive the industry appetite in exploration and development projects. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said industry experts expect Brent crude oil to hover from US$60 to US$70 per barrel this year and this is sufficient to revive some of the exploration and production activities which may have been deferred or stopped due to lower oil prices last year. Brent crude oil prices experienced great volatility last year, rising up to US$86 per barrel in October from US$67 in January before falling by 30% to US$57 in December due to a glut in the global market.

Rajiv: No question of political will, govt on track with renewable energy targets The Star Online 26th Jun 2019
There is no question over political will of the government in its effort to promote the uptake of renewable energy (RE), says Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) board member Rejiv Rishyakaran. "Malaysia is on the right trajectory to achieve its RE targets," Rajiv said.

White paper on Malaysia’s energy future aimed at achieving Paris Agreement pledge www.thesundaily.my 25th Jun 2019
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is spearheading an industry-wide study with various agencies to develop an Oil, Gas, Energy and Environment White Paper on Malaysia’s Future Energy Landscape. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the study supported Malaysia’s aspirations to be a low-carbon economy with a blueprint on energy policies that will stimulate action towards achieving the country’s Paris Agreement pledge.

Mahathir Bin Mohamad Plots A Path To A Sustainable Future For Malaysia Forbes 25th Jun 2019
Mahathir explained that for the region to continue its upwards growth the governments will need to focus on improving both the cost and efficiency of their energy, and a crucial factor here is the diversification of the energy mix. The predictions from the likes of the International Energy Agency (IEA) is that the demand for fossil fuels will remain steady. Asia is pressing ahead with the use of natural gas, considered to be a less carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Also, renewable energy is seen to have doubled in the region in five years with China and India leading the pace.

Malaysia actively pursuing energy market reforms to attract investment: Azmin The Sun Daily 25th Jun 2019
Malaysia is actively pursuing energy market reforms to enhance the country’s attractiveness as the preferred destination for energy investments, said the Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali today.

Malaysia: ASEAN’s biggest solar employer The ASEAN Post 25th Jun 2019
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) this week named Malaysia as the region’s biggest solar photovoltaics (PV) employer with a total of more than 54,300 people working in the industry last year – up from 40,300 in 2017.

11 Million People Now Have Jobs In Renewable Energy Forbes 17th Jun 2019
Eleven million people around the world were employed by the renewable energy sector in 2018, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports in the sixth edition of their Renewable Energy and Jobs series. This represents an increase of 700,000 jobs from 2017, growing nearly 7% in just one year. The greatest growth came from countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, spreading the renewable sector beyond the primary markets in China, Brazil, the U.S., India and the EU while maintaining Asia’s 60% stake in renewable employment globally. The trend should inspire confidence in renewables by other countries as technologies improve and costs go down. “The prospect of job creation bolsters the global Sustainable Development Agenda,” says IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera, “and should encourage all countries to make bold commitments to renewable energy. “Increasingly, countries envisage a domestic renewable energy industry taking the place of unsustainable fossil-based industries.” Renewable energy technologies provide employment along the entire supply chain, including manufacturing, trade and installation. Solar photovoltaic panels generate a third of employment in renewables, driving much of the growth, followed by liquid biofuels, hydropower and wind power. Off-grid renewables have also helped create jobs across formerly isolated communities in Africa and Asia. While jobs grew in India, Southeast Asia and Brazil, they declined in the U.S., Japan and the EU.

Financial Services

Dr M: Government may tax e-commerce businesses MSN 28th Jun 2019
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he has floated the idea of Malaysia taxing e-commerce and sharing economy-related activities during the Plenary Session of the 34th Asean Summit. “I mentioned about tax, now that we have online businesses... we don’t know who is making the profit. “Online business is affecting other businesses. I said Amazon sells books and bookstores have had to close down.

Consumers in Malaysia unhappy with e-commerce delivery experience: Study Bernama.com 28th Jun 2019
About 43 per cent of consumers in Malaysia are unhappy with their e-commerce delivery experience, according to a survey by Parcel Perform and meta-search website iPrice Group. The survey showed Malaysia reports the longest transit time in the region, with deliveries taking 5.8 days versus a regional average time of 3.3 days. In a joint statement today, they said consumers in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are more satisfied with their e-commerce delivery experience as compared to Indonesia and Malaysia.

CEO: Time for e-wallet environment to consolidate Ganeshwaran Kana 19th Jun 2019
The Malaysian e-wallet environment is ripe for consolidation, say top industry players. Representatives from key e-wallet providers namely Boost, TNG Digital and Maybank said in a forum yesterday that only a few service providers will be able to sustain operationally over the long run. ...TNG Digital chief executive officer Syahrunizam Samsudin said Malaysia has more e-wallet providers than the world’s second largest economy, China.

Asia Pacific – Banking, financial services and insurance industry reports growth in online recruitment Staffing Industry Analysts 17th Jun 2019
The banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines reported year-on-year growth in online recruitment in April 2019, according to the latest Monster Employment Index. Singapore’s BFSI industry recorded 26% year-on-year increase in demand in April while the Philippines recorded a 13% increase followed by Malaysia which reported a 1% increase. Monster.com's APAC and Gulf CEO Abhijeet Mukherjee told The Edge Markets that a major transformation is underway in the banking and finance industry at the moment, as organisations become increasingly reliant on AI to simplify and automate processes.

Bank Negara: Financial Threat Intelligence Platform operational before year-end www.thesundaily.my 17th Jun 2019
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) expects to operationalise the Financial Threat Intelligence Platform before the year-end as part of its efforts to strengthen platforms for collaboration in building a safe environment for innovation. Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the central bank, together with the financial industry, is in the process of establishing the platform. The central bank’s ongoing efforts to build an enabling yet safe environment for innovation also include building inter-operable infrastructures. This will start with open and fair access to a shared payment infrastructure for banks and non-banks alike.

Bursa Malaysia's new CEO wants to make it a marketplace for every asset class MSN 17th Jun 2019
When it was announced last December that Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift would succeed Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan as CEO of Bursa Malaysia Bhd — effective Feb 11 — expectations were high that he would bring a fresh perspective to the local bourse. But the fact remains that Bursa Malaysia has been experiencing an initial public offering (IPO) drought in its Main Market and ACE Market in recent years. Moreover, local benchmark FBM KLCI is the worst performer in the region year to date. Formerly the managing director and CEO of MAA Group Bhd, Umar came in as an outsider with a huge task — recreate Bursa Malaysia as the marketplace for every asset class, or as he put it, “the marketplace for everything”. In his first exclusive interview, Umar shares with The Edge some of his plans to spearhead Bursa Malaysia towards its next phase of growth in becoming a globally connected stock exchange in Asean.

BNM seeks feedback on electronic trading policy framework MSN 17th Jun 2019
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is seeking written feedback on the planned policy framework in its exposure draft which indicates the central bank's requirements on market participants that offer electronic trading platform services within the Malaysian wholesale financial markets.In a statement today, BNM said wholesale financial markets refer specifically to money and foreign exchange markets. BNM said money market instruments refer to products like negotiable instruments of deposit, bills, bankers acceptance and repurchase agreements. Foreign exchange products include spot, forward, swaps and derivatives thereof of all currency pairs, according to the regulator.

Guan Eng: Malaysia Welcomes Investments That Raise Skills, Wages New Straits Times 17th Jun 2019
Malaysia welcomes any investments from abroad, especially Japan, that will raise the skills and wages of workers. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said such investments would improve the competitiveness of the Malaysian economy through the application of new technology. Speaking at a shareholders agreement signing ceremony between the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corp for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN) and Tasco Bhd here today, Lim said JOIN could be the bridge that connects Malaysian companies to other parts of the world through its global network and direct links to Japan’s largest corporations.

Food & Agriculture

Superfruits to be planted in Balik Pulau — Chow The Edge Markets 28th Jun 2019
Penang will soon have a farm planting three superfruits such as figs, gac fruits and finger limes to cater to domestic demand, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said here tonight. He said currently, many locals were not aware that these fruits could be produced locally as it was typically grown on foreign soils and three business entities, JT F&B Group, Goche Corporation and Ironman Trading, plan to start JT Superfruits, to have the superfruits farm here. "By having local producers with the necessary skills and know-how in this field, Malaysian consumers can now enjoy fresh superfruits without the need to travel long distances," he said after witnessing the launching of 'Penang Kia, Malaysia Boleh!' program by the three companies here.

Palm oil posts its longest quarterly slump on record The Star Online 28th Jun 2019
Palm oil is stuck in rut and it’s not likely to get out anytime soon. Benchmark futures in Malaysia are down 7.1% this quarter as the world’s most-consumed edible oil grapples with persistently high stockpiles in top growers amid lackluster demand. Its performance is in stark contrast to the Bloomberg agricultural spot price index, which is on course for the best quarterly gain in three years thanks to weather-related grain-supply disruption. Another quarterly loss for palm would cap a seventh straight drop -- the worst run since futures started in 1995. The oil, used in everything from candy to biofuel, fell for a seventh straight day in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, touching 1,951 ringgit a ton ($471), the lowest intraday level in seven months.

Malaysia to further spearhead global halal ecosystem Bernama.com 26th Jun 2019
Malaysia intends to further spearhead the global halal ecosystem, particularly in halal certification and development of talent, to ensure standards are harmonised and widely adopted. Ministry of Entrepreneur Development (MED) Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Mohd Yusof said this during a roundtable discussion today with Cambridge accelerator coaches who provide both specialised and general advice to development ventures at an early stage.

Future of agro sector rests on youths Daily Express 26th Jun 2019
Youths in the district are encouraged to venture into agriculture as one of the means that can help increase income sources, said Tenom MP Noorita Sual. The younger generation are the nation’s hope in promoting the agriculture and livestock industry that can produce food and provide a source of income, as well as continue to realise the existing policy of improving the food security sector and increasing incomes. She said the ministry of agriculture and agro-based industries continues to focus on the security and increase in income of farmers and fishermen in the development of food and crop sectors. “The youth entrepreneurs also received financing facilities through the Tekun Nasional venture capital fund (Tekun) and Agrobank businesses since 2014, in providing several loan schemes for agricultural activities,“Tekun provides loans of up to RM100,000 through three loan schemes namely micro loan scheme (SPM), small loan scheme (SPK) and medium loan scheme (SPS)

Health & Life Sciences

Malaysia schools shut after children fall sick BBC News 25th Jun 2019
More than 400 schools in the Malaysian state of Johor are closed after 75 students experienced breathing difficulties and vomiting. Schools in the industrial area of Pasir Gudang have been shut until Thursday as authorities investigate the latest air pollution incident to hit the state. In March about 4,000 people - mostly children - fell ill after chemical waste was illegally dumped in a river. Authorities say the incidents are not linked. More than 100 primary and secondary schools as well as 300 private kindergartens were among those ordered to be temporarily shut this week, reported state news agency Bernama.

Malaysia proposes softening drug laws The Jakarta Post 28th Jun 2019
Malaysia has proposed removing criminal penalties for possession and use of drugs in small amounts, a move medical groups said will help addicts break a "cycle of imprisonment and poverty". If narcotics are decriminalized, it would be a rare step in a region where many governments hand down harsh punishments for drug-related crimes. Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced the government was set to introduce the "significant game-changer policy" of decriminalizing drugs. The move is a crucial step "towards achieving a rational drug policy that puts science and public health before punishment and incarceration," he said in a statement on Thursday. Earlier this week, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that most of the 70,000 prisoners in Malaysia were drug addicts. 

Health ministry sets up special committee to study control over e-cigarettes | Malay Mail Malaymail 27th Jun 2019
A special committee under the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been set up to examine issues relating to control over electronic cigarettes and vape. “The task force committee is headed by Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye to ensure commitment to all that we are dealing with this issue seriously,” he said. The convention was organised to raise public awareness on the side effects of smoking which is responsible for six million deaths in the world. Dzulkefly said the number of premises inspected from December until June 2, including the “Ops Khas’ carried out on May 24 and 25 were 111,042, out of which 26,357 premises did not display the ‘no-smoking’ sign.

ICT

Affordability and 5G race are reasons why Malaysia continues to support Huawei, says telco regulator CNA 27th Jun 2019
Affordability is among the reasons behind Malaysia’s continued support for Huawei as it looks to tap into the great potential of the 5G technology, said Malaysia's telecommunications industry regulator, despite security concerns raised by the United States over the Chinese telecommunications giant’s systems. “Malaysia telcos are very much into Huawei and ZTE because they are affordable,” said Ms Nur Sulyna Abdullah, the chief transformation officer of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), on Wednesday (Jun 26).

Malaysia among countries eyed by Apple to move production capacity The Star Online 20th Jun 2019
Apple Inc has asked its major suppliers to assess the cost implications of moving 15%-30% of their production capacity from China to Southeast Asia as it prepares for a restructuring of its supply chain, according to a Nikkei Asian Review report on Wednesday. Apple's request was a result of the extended Sino-U.S. trade dispute, but a trade resolution will not lead to a change in the company's decision, Nikkei said, citing multiple sources. The iPhone maker has decided the risks of depending heavily on manufacturing in China are too great and even rising, it said.

Malaysia Launches Work Visa Program for Blockchain Tech Professionals Cointelegraph 19th Jun 2019
Malaysia has launched a work visa program targeting tech freelancers that addresses a demand for blockchain capable talens, local news outlet the Star reported on June 18. The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) — a government-owned organization that oversees the tech sector — blockchain organization Nem Foundation and job marketplace Jobbatical have jointly launched the program. The program aims to attract foreign professionals who will have the right to stay in the country for up to 12 months to provide blockchain-related services or undergo training at a Malaysian company.

Malaysia serious on tech talent development agenda - Gobind The Malaysian Reserve 28th Jun 2019
The Communications and Multimedia Ministry will continue to review all existing initiatives as well as come up with new and pertinent policies to ensure Malaysia is always ahead of the competition when it comes to tech talent development, said its minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture). “(My) Ministry is very serious about the tech talent development agenda,” he said at the launch of the Data Futures Forum 2019: Shaping our Future Together-Towards a Data Enabled Society...

Dr Mahathir suggests ASEAN countries introduce taxes on online businesses The Malaysian Reserve 24th Jun 2019
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad today proposed that ASEAN member nations introduce taxes on online businesses to increase their respective revenues. Dr Mahathir said the online businesses had “swallowed” conventional businesses. Citing Amazon.com as an example, he said the online bookstore had caused the folding of conventional bookstores.

The National 5G task force to brief policymakers on 5G this week The Malaysian Reserve 24th Jun 2019
The national 5G task force will brief policymakers and stakeholders on 5G benefits this week. The 5G Framework Enhancement Workshop to be held on June 27, targets to create awareness among policymakers in the country about the benefits of 5G, as well as generating new ideas on how to implement 5G use cases in various sectors. It is also aimed to identify challenges in policy-making or regulatory framework for 5G.

KKMM to coordinate tech agencies to avoid overlapping functions NST Online 18th Jun 2019
The Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) wants to coordinate technology and innovation related agencies in different ministries to avoid overlapping functions. Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the matter would be discussed with the ministries and agencies concerned. “There has been concern raised about the fact that there are overlaps in agencies that exist across different ministries,” he said at the Malaysia Tech Week 2019 here today...

BNM to establish financial threat intelligence platform The Star Online 17th Jun 2019
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), together with the financial industry, is in the process of establishing a Financial Threat Intelligence Platform. Its governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the platform would collate, analyse and disseminate real-time information on cyber threats and trends to strengthen the detective capabilities of the industry against such threats.

Retailers told to leverage on digital platform The Malaysian Reserve 14th Jun 2019
Retailers were told to partake on the online shopping trend or continue to lose out more businesses, Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) said. MRCA council member Nicholas Chong Kah Yean said the retailers, which were most likely impacted from the emergence of online shopping four years ago, were the ones which held back from joining the digital platforms.

Infrastructure

Malaysian company managing High-Speed Rail project appoints consultants to review design, cut cost CNA 28th Jun 2019
The Malaysian company managing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project announced on Friday (Jun 28) that it has appointed technical and commercial consultants to review proposed design changes and identify options to cut cost. In a statement, MyHSR Corp said that Malaysian engineering and project management firm, Minconsult and Ernst & Young have been appointed the Technical Advisory Consultant (TAC) and Commercial Advisory Consultant (CAC) respectively. “MyHSR Corp and its TAC and CAC will now proceed to review the proposed changes to the KL-Singapore HSR Project and further identify cost reduction options for the government of Malaysia,” said the statement.

Finance Ministry must be transparent in stating cost for four highways The Star Online 25th Jun 2019
Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Jalaluddin Alias said this was necessary as he did not see the proposed takeover of the highways for RM6.2bil as a strategic move. "The rakyat needs to know the cost to take over each highway and how would this benefit them, especially those in the B40 group," he said in a statement. The Jelebu MP said he saw no necessity of taking over the highways at this point in time. Citing examples, he said the concession agreement for the Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas) will expire in Aug 2023 and the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) in 2030.

Govt plans nationwide port expansion New Straits Times 18th Jun 2019
The government is planning to expand port areas nationwide to meet current and future demands, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke. He said this would require a long-term strategy, not only to meet the demands for capacity but to also provide a healthy competition with neighbouring countries which have been constructing bigger ports. Loke said the government was well aware of the need to expand, develop and upgrade the ports, including the Port of Tanjung Pelepas. “This will take years as it involves a lot of work in terms of getting approvals, among others, but we need to make the effort and expedite the process.

Operators urged to make public transport cashless The Star Online 18th Jun 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: Public transport operators have been urged to adopt cashless payment to improve the ticketing system and service.Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the ministry was working closely with public transport operators in implementing the cashless system, especially those outside the Klang Valley.

Landowners affected by ECRL project will be compensated, says Loke The Star Online 16th Jun 2019
Owners of private land acquired for the development of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will be duly compensated, says Anthony Loke (pic). The Transport Minister said, however, it would be decided after the alignment of the mega project is finalised this year before the expected land acquisition process takes place next year. "I do not want any issue or speculation on the land acquisition so that this development project can be done smoothly. "We have not decided how much land is needed or where the stations will be built but there is definitely one station in the Jelebu district,” he said in his speech at the Aidilfitri celebration for the Chennah state constituency here Sunday (June 16).

Sabah ports have potential to compete with Singapore, Philippines — Chief Minister The Edge Markets 27th Jun 2019
Sabah ports have potentials to compete with Singapore and Philippines with the implementation of proper policies as the state is strategically located near countries such as China, Japan and Hong Kong, said chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. At the same time, he said, there was a need for the logistics of these ports to be improved, including establishing railway lines to connect all the ports in the state.

Baru pledges to develop all roads in Sarawak, despite restrictions Borneo Post Online 22nd Jun 2019
Works Minister Baru Bian has pledged his commitment in developing roads in Sarawak, and working on existing channels to ensure that proper planning and construction would be implemented. He also said his responsibility as a concerned federal minister is limited to federal roads, including those leading to airports and ports, those connecting public education centres and also the toll roads – all under the purview of the Ministry of Works.

Make it easier to get financial aid for tourism projects, urges Guan Eng Free Malaysia Today 21st Jun 2019
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has asked Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Berhad (BPMB) to make it easier for tourism industry players to gain financial assistance. “This is especialy so when the projects are viable,” he said after launching the RM1 billion tourism infrastructure fund here today.

Johor planning to build $4.9m covered walkway along Causeway The Straits Times 19th Jun 2019
Johor is looking to build a 1.2km walkway on the Causeway for those travelling between the state and Singapore. Johor Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mohd Solihan Badri said this came about after the state government found out that many people are risking their lives crossing the link without such an infrastructure to ensure their safety. This is especially prevalent during peak hours, when people rush across, to avoid being stuck in traffic congestion.

Baru: Pan Borneo Highway project will not be halted Borneo Post Online 18th Jun 2019
Works Minister Baru Bian has given his assurance that the Pan Borneo Highway project will go on until it is completed. He says this is because the high-impact project is crucial for the well-being of the people of Sarawak.

Travel & Tourism

Malaysia among top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific New Straits Times 17th Jun 2019
Malaysia is listed in the top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific with a growing trend in the future, said the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang. “Wellness tourism is the fastest growing travel sector globally and Malaysia is listed in the top 10 wellness tourism markets in Asia Pacific with expenditures standing at RM20.5 billion and 8.3 million trips with a growing trend for wellness vacations and packages especially to our country,” he said. To further promote the sector, Matta and the Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today to strengthen wellness tourism.

Ethnic groups must help the govt to develop national tourism Bernama.com 26th Jun 2019
Every race or ethnic group in the country should help the government to realise the development of the tourism sector, said the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi. He said every ethnic group could promote national tourism by highlighting the uniqueness of their respective art and culture. “For example, we at the ministry welcome the organisation of any cultural event or activity that could introduce the uniqueness of the respective ethnic culture. “All races could cooperate by sitting down together to discuss, exchange ideas and look for the uniqueness of the races to be highlighted as a tourism product,” he said.

Promote tourism, MRCA tells govt MSN 26th Jun 2019
Retailers have appealed to the government to focus more on drawing in tourists to provide a spending-spree boost. Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president Datuk Seri Garry Chua (pic) said tourism played a crucial role in reviving the nation’s economy. “This is because spendings by tourists not only trickle down to the retail market, it also has an effect on other sectors such as transportation, entertainment, food and health. “The moment they arrive, they will spend on all these things. We definitely have a lot to offer tourists. “I urge the Federal Government to spend more money and give more focus on the tourism sector,” he said.

Indonesia promoting Malay culture, history as tourism draw Bernama.com 19th Jun 2019
Indonesia is promoting Malay culture and history, especially of Sumatra, as among its tourism products to boost the industry. Its Tourism Ministry's director of promotions for Malaysia and Brunei, Adella Raung said the effort could attract more tourists to the republic, particularly from the Malay lands like Malaysia and Brunei.

Malaysian spa, travel agency associations partner to grow wellness tourism TTG Asia 19th Jun 2019
The Association of Malaysian Spas (AMSPA) has partnered The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) in a joint effort to grow wellness tourism in Malaysia. The two associations signed an MoU encapsulating arrangements that relate to promotional programmes and activities leading up to Visit Malaysia 2020 and beyond, exchange of information, cooperation in capacity building, as well as product development in the area of wellness tourism.

Tourism Industry sees 16.9pct growth in first quarter New Straits Times 18th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s tourism industry has seen a promising start this year with growth in the first quarter, registering an increase of 16.9 per cent for tourist expenditure to reach RM21.4 billion compared with RM18.3 billion last year. The highest per capita expenditure came from Saudi Arabia at RM11,069 followed by the United Kingdom (RM5,212), India (RM4,712.6), and the United States (RM4,506.2).

Tourism bodies sign MoU on wellness tourism www.thesundaily.my 18th Jun 2019
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) and the Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to put Malaysia’s wellness tourism on par with popular wellness destinations globally. During the ceremony Matta president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said that the MoU encompasses arrangements related to promotional programmes and activities leading towards Visit Malaysia 2020 and will result in the exchange of information, cooperation in capacity building as well as development in the area of ‘wellness tourism’.

Malaysians should be country's tourism ambassadors Bernama.com 18th Jun 2019
Malaysians should be the country’s tourism ambassadors and to work together to realise the mission of Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020) by promoting the country to the international community, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. She said Malaysians should give their full support to ensure success of the national mission, which is to record 30 million foreign tourist arrivals and RM100 billion in revenue to the country. “The easiest way is to highlight our noble hospitality. When foreigners fall in love with our Eastern values, they will want to learn more about our national heritage and arts,” she said when opening the Malaysia Aidilfitri Open House here today. Dr Wan Azizah said she is confident and optimistic that the government’s target of recording 30 million tourist arrivals for VM2020 could be achieved if all Malaysians are to unite and become Malaysia’s tourism ambassadors.