MONASH University Malaysia kicked off its 20th year celebration with a heart-thumping, groovy party recently.
The event began with fun-filled activities in the afternoon for its 800 academic and professional staff and their families.
There were balloons, party hats, face-painting and henna art, as well as food served by local chefs. Satay-in-a-cup was a hit among the adults, while the children satisfied their sweets craving with fluffy cotton candy. The kids also got to watch movies on the big screen and mingle with heroes like Iron Man and Captain America.
The 1Malaysia Drum Symphony set the mood for the evening with its amazing fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian drums.
In welcoming guests to the celebration, Monash Malaysia president and pro vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Walker thanked everyone who had contributed to the Malaysian campus.
“Happy birthday, Monash! It’s been a wonderful 20 years and we are going to have a wonderful next 20 years. Happy birthday to everyone who has contributed to Monash University here in Malaysia,” he said.
Keeping up the beat was the main highlight of the night, popular homegrown singer-songwriter and rapper SonaOne got the crowd screaming and bopping along to his tunes.
Spinning foot-tapping and dance-inducing hits was DJ Bate, who had everyone grooving late into the evening.
Established in 1998, Monash Malaysia is the third-largest campus of Australia’s largest university and the first foreign university campus in Malaysia that operates in partnership with the Sunway Education Group.
Source: New Straits Times
What do Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur have in common with London, Tokyo and Melbourne? All are smart cities, designed to enhance their citizens’ quality of life.
London and New York integrate and connect the internet of things better than the rest. Smart cities are evolving. A citizen that lives in a smart city wins back up to 60 hours per year thanks to technological advancements.
In Malaysia, smart cities offer significant growth potential, but challenges remain
Malaysia’s smart cities are some way behind as they are still new. That is not a bad thing as Malaysia has avoided the pitfalls of being an early adopter. Authorities can apply advanced technology and systems that already work.
It means there is significant potential for growth and improvement in these cities. By working with other nations, Malaysia can move forward. It is making progress towards an integrated rail system. It is working with the UK to develop a manageable and sustainable strategy.
At the same time, there are challenges to overcome. Analysts question whether these cities will do enough to help reduce crime. They also query whether the poor will benefit. Malaysia’s energy efficiency awareness is currently weak. The country lags behind other nations in adopting green technology. It will take time to catch up.
However, the commitment to the use of electric buses is a step in the right direction. Insufficient infrastructure and resources could also hold Malaysia back. The government must budget for the work required for smart cities to thrive.
Smart cities in Malaysia focused on addressing congestion first
Authorities must address rapid population growth in urban areas. Traditional techniques and management are inadequate. Malaysia needs to overcome traffic congestion and overcrowding. Other challenges include the lack of affordable housing and damage to the environment.
Source: ASEAN Today
According to CPA Australia’s eighth annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey, Malaysia’s small businesses are experiencing positive business conditions – with many adding jobs and investing in technology.
The findings, from CPA Australia’s eighth annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey, follow extensive surveying of nearly 3,000 small business operators in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and China.
In the release, CPA Australia head of policy, Paul Drum FCPA, said that while Malaysia’s small businesses reported weaker business growth than in 2016, the sector was still experiencing positive business conditions and was a strong creator of jobs in 2017. Additionally, he said that Malaysia’s small businesses were likely to create even more jobs in 2018.
Drum commented: “More than a quarter (27.5%) of Malaysia’s small businesses added staff in 2017, reflecting strong growth for many Malaysian small businesses. A healthy 40.1% are expecting to add additional staff members in 2018.”
“Small businesses from Malaysia continue to be strong users of digital technologies in their business. Over half of Malaysian businesses surveyed (53.4%) earned over 10% of their income from online sales, and over 80% use social media for business purposes,” he continued.
Meanwhile, he noted that Malaysia’s small businesses would benefit from a stronger focus on new digital payment options, such as AliPay, ApplePay and WeChat Pay.
“Only 29.1% allow customers to pay through this new technology, well below China (65.5%) and the survey average (42.7%),” Drum concluded.
Meanwhile, Singapore was reported facing several challenges, including increasing costs and increasing competition. Singapore small businesses were the second most likely of the markets surveyed to identify both of these factors as barriers to their growth, and were likely to nominate staff costs as most detrimental to their business, followed by costs for materials.
Despite the increasing cost of staff, 26.6% of Singapore’s small businesses expect to add to their staff numbers in 2018, an increase from last year’s survey.
Source : Human Resources
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s small businesses are experiencing positive business conditions, with many adding jobs and investing in technology, according to CPA Australia’s eighth annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey.
The findings follow extensive surveying of nearly 3,000 small business operators in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and China.
CPA Australia head of policy Paul Drum said while Malaysia’s small businesses reported weaker business growth than in 2016, the sector was still experiencing positive business conditions and was a strong creator of jobs in 2017.
Malaysia’s small businesses were likely to create even more jobs in 2018.
“More than a quarter (27.5 per cent) of Malaysia’s small businesses added staff in 2017, reflecting strong growth for many Malaysian small businesses. A healthy 40.1 per cent are expecting to add additional staff members in 2018.
“Small businesses from Malaysia continue to be strong users of digital technologies in their business. Over half of Malaysian businesses surveyed (53.4 per cent) earned over 10 per cent of their income from online sales, and over 80 per cent use social media for business purposes,” Drum said in a statement.
“However, Malaysia’s small businesses would benefit from a stronger focus on new digital payment options, such as AliPay, ApplePay and WeChat Pay. Only 29.1 per cent allow customers to pay through this new technology, well below China (65.5 per cent) and the survey average (42.7 per cent)m,” he added.
Malaysian businesses were the most likely to nominate customer loyalty as having the most positive impact on their business in 2017.
“It is good business practice to focus attention on existing customers, as it is always much easier to keep a customer than attract a new customer.”
“With high numbers of Malaysian small businesses having the characteristics associated with growth – such as a focus on innovation, e-commerce and technology – we are likely to see better results in 2018. I expect we’ll see an increasing number of Malaysia’s small businesses evolve to become large, successful global businesses in the next few years,” Drum said.
The relatively strong focus on technology by small businesses in Malaysia is flowing through to concerns over the security of systems, with more than half (52.4 per cent) of respondents stating that they believe it is likely their business will be cyberattacked in 2018 – the third highest result of the markets surveyed.
This concern is leading to action, with businesses being highly likely to be taking steps to improve their cybersecurity.
Source : New Straits Times
KUALA LUMPUR: Following the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with 10 other Asia Pacific countries on March 8, Malaysia sends a strong signal of the country’s commitment towards an open and liberal trading system, in light of recent protectionist sentiment which is prevalent in a number of countries.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the necessary steps to amend the relevant laws in order to complete the ratification process and enable the implementation of the CPTPP as early as possible have already begun.
"What the world needs now is more trade and investment flows and not restricted markets.
"Malaysia believes that this agreement will help us to further promote our trade and investment agenda and mitigate the challenges of the global economic environment," Mustapa said in a statement.
The 10 countries that signed the CPTPP agreement together with Malaysia are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam.
"As one of the pioneer members who has successfully negotiated the Agreement ‘on our terms’, Malaysia should not miss the opportunity to grab the benefits of this Agreement and efforts to complete the ratification process should be intensified,” he added.
Despite the absence of the US, Mustapa believes Malaysia still stands to gain from market access to countries like Canada, Peru and Mexico with whom we currently do not have preferential trading arrangement.
"In addition to the market access, our participation in the CPTPP will also benefit us in terms of enhancing governance in a number of economic sectors, strengthening economic cooperation among member countries and promoting adoption of international standards," he added.
Mustapa said CPTPP will open up the door for more Malaysian companies to expand their presence beyond the borders of our country as well as strengthening Malaysia’s position as a premier investment destination – which will eventually create additional quality jobs for the people.
"The Malaysian public at large will also benefit from the increase in consumer choices on goods and services in our market,” he added.
The CPTPP was concluded on January 23, 2018 in Tokyo after eight rounds of negotiations which started in early 2017 at Ministers and Senior Officials level.
With the conclusion of the CPTPP, Mustapa said MITI and colleagues from other Ministries and Agencies will now focus the attention on concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiation.
"It is our view that both CPTPP and RCEP will serve as building blocks towards a more open and fairer trade and investment regime in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and 10 other Asia Pacific countries signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Santiago, Chile on Thursday.
The Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the countries were Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
“Despite the absence of the US, Malaysia still stands to gain from market access to countries like Canada, Peru and Mexico with whom we currently do not have preferential trading arrangement,” he said in a statement.
“In addition to the market access, our participation in the CPTPP will also benefit us in terms of enhancing governance in a number of economic sectors, strengthening economic cooperation among member countries and promoting adoption of international standards.
“Malaysia believes that this agreement will help us to further promote our trade and investment agenda and mitigate the challenges of the global economic environment,” he said.
Mustapa said Malaysia would gain from the CPTPP as it would enable more Malaysian companies to expand their presence beyond the borders of the country.
The deal would also enhance Malaysia’s position as a premier investment destination and eventually create additional quality jobs for our people.
“The Malaysian public at large will also benefit from the increase in consumer choices on goods and services in our market,” he said.
To recap, the CPTPP was concluded on Jan 23, 2018 in Tokyo after eight rounds of negotiations which started in early 2017 at Ministers and Senior Officials level.
Mustapa said CPTPP ministers shared the view that, by achieving a high-standard and well-balanced outcome, the Agreement will strengthen the mutually-beneficial linkages among participating economies, boost trade, investment and economic growth in the Asia-Pacific Region, and create new opportunities for businesses, consumers and workers.
“In light of recent protectionist sentiment which is prevalent in a number of countries, the signing of the CPTPP is timely as it sends a strong signal of our commitment towards an open and liberal trading system.
“What the world needs now is more trade and investment flows and not restricted markets,” it said.
Source : The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: The Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc) is jointly developing the Exchange 106 tower at TRX (TRX Tower) with the Mulia Group and construction is expected to be completed by the second half of 2018.
MoF Inc had on Thursday confirmed its unit MKD Signature Sdn Bhd for the joint development with the Mulia Group and the costs would be borne by the two parties based on their shareholding.
The TRX Tower is part of the entire TRX development area which is expected to have a gross development value of RM40bil.
The MOF Inc’s participation in the development of the TRX Tower was agreed at the onset to only materialise when the project has reached certain development milestone.
To recap, MKD acquired a 51% stake in Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd – a company incorporated in Malaysia with a paid-up share capital of RM500,000 – in July 2017. The remaining 49% is owned by the Mulia Group.
“MKD has made arrangement with the HSBC Bank for a standby line to finance its proportional construction cost of 51% without any added premium by the JV company,” said MoF Inc.
In May 2015, Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd bought the 3.42 acres TRX land at the price of RM665mil from TRX City Sdn Bhd.
“The sale of the TRX land to Mulia was done on commercial terms with no discount accorded to Mulia,” MoF Inc said.
The TRX Tower will have a nett lettable area of 2.8 million square feet space. Upon its completion, the tower will be one of Malaysia’s three iconic structure, following Petronas Twin Towers and Permodalan Nasional Berhad’s (PNB) Merdeka 118.
The TRX Tower is also set to be the 15th tallest building in the world by the time of completion.
MoF Inc said this was not its only strategic partnership in TRX development area.
It had also teamed up with Australia's Lendlease to develop the Lifestyle Quarter, a 17-acre mixed-use development area within the TRX. Lendlease has a 60% stake and MoF Inc the remaining the 40%.
The completion of the TRX Tower will serve as the catalyst for the development and construction of the surrounding commercial plots within the TRX.
HSBC, Prudential Insurance, Affin Bank Bhd, Tabung Haji, Landlease (Australia) have already committed to take up commercial plots within the TRX and negotiations are underway for other international organisations to participate as well.
The TRX Tower will be the crowning success for the Tun Razak Exchange’s synergistic role in positioning Malaysia’s growing prominence in the world of global finance.
Source : The Star
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 28): UEM Sunrise Bhd has teamed up with BlackWall Ltd, an Australian public-listed real estate company based in Sydney, to explore leasing opportunities and identify potential commercial and/or retail developments for co-working space.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, UEM Sunrise said its wholly-owned subsidiary UEM Sunrise Properties Sdn Bhd has entered into the proposed JV with Wotso S.E.A. Pty Ltd to form a JV company in Malaysia for the purpose. Wotso S.E.A is wholly-owned by Wotso Workspace Pty Ltd, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackWall. Wotso is a pioneer in leasing of co-working space in Australia.
However, the proposed JV is subject to approval of both UEM Sunrise Properties' and Wotso S.E.A’s board of directors and shareholders, as well as authorities.
Under the JV, both companies will also jointly manage the operations for the lease of co-working space and serviced office suites.
Both UEM Sunrise and BlackWall will own an equal 50% stake in the JV company, whereby each party will subscribe to 400,000 shares of the company at an issue price of RM1.
The JV company will also enter into a licensing agreement with Wotso for the use of the latter's licence, operations, system and use of other related intellectual property rights for a fee.
"In relation to the JV company’s business, each party undertakes not to be involved directly or indirectly, in other similar businesses in Malaysia, for a period of three years from the JV agreement date or termination of the JV agreement," UEM Sunrise said.
The proposed JV is not expected to have a material effect on the group's earnings and net assets for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2018 (FY18), the filing added.
At 3.08pm, UEM Sunrise shares were down 4 sen or 3.54% at RM1.09, with 1.17 million shares done, bringing a market capitalisation of RM4.99 billion.
Source : The Edge Markets
WELLINGTON/SYDNEY: The final version of a landmark deal aimed at cutting trade barriers in some of Asia-Pacific's fastest-growing economies was released on Wednesday, signalling the pact was a step closer to reality even without its star member the United States.
More than 20 provisions have been suspended or changed in the final text ahead of the deal's official signing in March, including rules around intellectual property originally included at the behest of Washington.
The original 12-member deal was thrown into limbo early last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement to prioritize protecting U.S. jobs.
The 11 remaining nations, led by Japan, finalized a revised trade pact in January, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is expected to be signed in Chile on March 8.
The deal will reduce tariffs in economies that together amount to more than 13 percent of global GDP - a total of $10 trillion. With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.
"The big changes with TPP 11 are the suspension of a whole lot of the provisions of the agreement. They have suspended many of the controversial ones, particularly around pharmaceuticals," said Kimberlee Weatherall, professor of law at the University of Sydney.
Many of these changes had been inserted into the original TPP 12 at the demand of U.S. negotiators, such as rules ramping up intellectual property protection of pharmaceuticals, which some governments and activists worried would raise the costs of medicine.
The success of the deal has been touted by officials in Japan and other member countries as an antidote to counter growing U.S. protectionism, and with the hope that Washington would eventually sign back up.
"CPTPP has become more important because of the growing threats to the effective operation of the World Trade Organization rules," New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker said on Wednesday.
Last month, Trump told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that it was possible Washington might return to the pact if it got a better deal.
However, Parker said on Wednesday that the prospect of the U.S. joining in the next couple of years was "very unlikely" and that even if Washington expressed a willingness to join CPTPP, there was no guarantee that the members would lift all the suspensions.
Parker said the deal would likely come into force at the end of 2018 or the first half of 2019.
Governments were quick to tout the economic benefits of the agreement.
"The TPP-11 will help create new Australian jobs across all sectors - agriculture, manufacturing, mining, services - as it creates new opportunities in a free trade area that spans the Americas and Asia," said Steven Ciobo, Australia's minister for trade, in an emailed statement.
The first attempt to agree to a deal last November stalled amid opposition from Canada, which was seeking protection of its cultural industries.
An economic analysis released by the Canadian government on Wednesday said the pact would provide exporters with tariff savings of C$428 million ($338 million) per year.
Total Canadian exports to other CPTPP countries are projected to increase by C$2.7 billion, or 4.2 percent, by 2040, compared to gains of C$1.5 billion under the original TPP.
New Zealand's government expected the CPTPP to boost the island nation's economy by between NZ$1.2 billion ($881 million) to NZ$4 billion a year, with beef and kiwifruit exporters among the top beneficiaries of the deal.
The 11 member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Source : The Star Online
In March, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will welcome the ten leaders of ASEAN to Sydney for a special summit focusing on business and security ties. This is the first time Australia has hosted ASEAN. By any definition, it is a significant event in Canberra's diplomatic calendar, with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet taking on an across-government steering role in the long lead-up to the summit.
On one level, such an investment of time and energy demonstrates the growing prominence of South East Asia in Australia's foreign policy. Economically, it is a major market of over 600 million people, although it accounts for just 15% of Australia's trade. In security terms, South East Asia "frames Australia's northern approaches" and most important trade routes, and "sits at a nexus of strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific", according to the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.
Yet these same currents of strategic competition have also rudely exposed ASEAN's limitations as a supranational organisation, as less than the sum of its constituent South East Asian parts. This is particularly so on faultline issues like the South China Sea, where China has successfully played on intra-ASEAN divisions.
As a result, more of Canberra's diplomatic energies in South East Asia are being invested bilaterally and in new groupings such as the Australia-India-Japan-US quadrilateral – in effect bypassing ASEAN.
Canberra still sees ASEAN centrality as the main anchor for its big-tent diplomacy in the wider region due to its convening power over the 18-member ADMM Plus and East Asia Summit. Maintaining open and inclusive multilateral architecture remains a key organising principle for Australia's prosperity and security. Canberra does not want to see exclusive groupings emerge in ways that force binary choices between prosperity and security, or between China and the US. ASEAN has usefully muddied these waters by pursuing engagement and dialogue promiscuously, but at the cost of process-heavy obligations that eat into the schedules of ASEAN leaders, their beleaguered officials and dialogue partners.
ASEAN is more to be pitied than blamed for this. The 10-member association lacks real teeth for collective bargaining because its members consistently refuse to compromise national interests, or to cede sovereignty upwards – a point that many South East Asians will privately concede.
This mattered less in the past. But Australia has belatedly come to realise that it needs to do more heavy lifting in South East Asia, as questions mount over the US commitment to the region and China's economic heft and coercive footprint fills the space left behind. This is clear in the subtext of the 2017 White Paper, which emphasises Australia's bilateral relationships in South East Asia as a "high priority", alongside ASEAN engagement.
At the same time, Canberra's renewed interest in the Quad suggests it is actively hedging by developing alternative security structures that skirt ASEAN. This is something that past Australian leaders have been loathe to do. Kevin Rudd flirted with the concept of an Asia Pacific Community, but ultimately deferred to ASEAN centrality. But things have moved on, because ASEAN's strategic disunity can no longer be ignored.
The emphasis on "South East Asia" in Australia's latest foreign and defence policy white papers is also instructive. References to the "ASEAN region" are still popular in some quarters of the Australian foreign policy commentariat, where hope remains that Australia will one day join the grouping. But such proprietary terminology only flatters to deceive. Australia's engagement with ASEAN needs to be recognised as subordinate within a wider South East Asia policy, Timor-Leste included.
Canberra would like its various upgraded bilateral partnerships with countries such as Vietnam and Singapore, and "mini-laterals" including the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the Quad to be seen as complementary to Australia-ASEAN ties. Hopefully they are. But even as Australia prepares to stage an unprecedented ASEAN-Australia summit, Canberra is busy diversifying its diplomatic efforts partly in response to ASEAN's shortcomings.
Two major gatherings will be held on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia conclave, a business summit and a counter-terrorism conference. Terrorism, while important, is also a safe-bet denominator for security cooperation with South East Asia, given ASEAN's reluctance to overtly mention inter-state tensions and China's strategic challenge in particular. Several South East Asian defence ministers were recently invited to Perth for preparatory discussions on counter-terrorism, focusing on the potential flow-back threat to the region, as jihadists exit Iraq and Syria.
The ruinous siege in Marawi has shone a spotlight on the southern Philippines and the vulnerable urban environment in South East Asia at large as the next phase of terrorist challenges in Australia's region. Canberra has stepped up its bilateral defence assistance to the Philippines, including urban warfare training, taking advantage of the Duterte administration's positive disposition towards Australia. Australia's military capacity is modest. But without great power baggage, Canberra has opportunities to be nimbler than the US as it moves to deepen defence partnerships in South East Asia.
ASEAN still offers a worthwhile channel for Australia to help South East Asia counter terrorism and violent extremism, via the ADMM Plus. But there are risks attached. One is that Australia's focus on counter-terrorism could duplicate Indonesia's recently proposed Our Eyes initiative, involving six ASEAN members. Another is that concentrating too much on the military aspects of counter-terrorism could embolden regional militaries to take on roles best left to civilian law enforcement.
Yet counter-terrorism can offer useful "cover" for strategic security cooperation. Australian patrol aircraft sent to the Philippines during the latter stages of the battle for Marawi plugged surveillance gaps in the Philippine military's terrorist detection efforts. But they were also deployed in useful proximity to the South China Sea, to enable monitoring of China's continuing build-up of strategic infrastructure in the Spratly Islands.
Finally, the endemic problem of duplication in ASEAN-led processes could potentially undermine Australia's future counter-terrorism and maritime security capacity-building, including the trilateral Sulu Sea coordinated patrols, among Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
In light of this, Canberra should do what it can to support rationalisation and de-confliction efforts within ASEAN. This is one area where the Philippines was notably active during its year as ASEAN chair in 2017, producing a concept paper to cut back on redundant activities. The job of implementing these rationalisation efforts now falls to Singapore, the current chair.
One useful message that Turnbull could reinforce to ASEAN leaders in Sydney next month is the virtue of a "less is more" approach when it comes to meetings and summitry. That might sound a little awkward coming from the host of a celebratory summit. But it could help a lost ASEAN rediscover its much-celebrated "way".
Source: The Interpreter
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