Hong Kong students at risk of anti-China scheming by outsiders; Chinese abroad blast protests


The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong has lasted more than three weeks. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday held talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students. But given a lack of positivity on the part of the latter during the talks, it remains unknown when the Occupy movement will end.

The external political situation concerning Occupy Central is increasingly clear-cut. Western public opinion has given it full support. Besides, a mix of traditional forces that are confronting the current Chinese regime, including Tibetan, Xinjiang and Taiwan separatists, Falun Gong devotees, and pro-democracy activists, have beaten the drums for the Hong Kong protests like cheerleaders.

The Occupy Central activists and their adherents must wake up. They shouldn’t act as a puppet of those hostile external forces.

With the Hong Kong radical forces becoming a new member, the anti-China camp seems to be expanding. If this is the case, it will yield terrible results.

Hong Kong, the Asian financial hub and a role model for the rule of law, will be held hostage by those hostile external forces, transforming into a battlefield between them and the rising China.

We suggest the Occupy Central activists not take on such a perilous role. Being already embroiled in the political competition in the Asia-Pacific region, they may have been pushed further than they originally intended.

The young Hong Kong students who have participated in Occupy Central should know that China, which is developing rapidly, is their home country and Hong Kong is a part of China’s rise. They therefore enjoy more opportunities than their counterparts from a smaller country. Meanwhile, they have to accordingly take responsibility to safeguard China’s security as it rises.

If the Occupy Central forces keep advancing, this will attract more international anti-China forces. The longer the protests last, the harder it will be for the Occupy Central forces to back down.

Incredible role reversals have often occurred throughout history. A marginal part or even central part of a camp could be converted into the enemies of that camp. We strongly hope the Occupy Central activities won’t do so.

The West-supported external forces will continue cheering for Occupy Central. Exiles will take the Occupy movement as their chance.

Their aim is to strike a heavy blow against China and take it down, but is this the goal of the young student participants of Occupy Central? If not, they should withdraw from the protests as soon as possible.

And for a small number of hostile elements to China, the country knows how to deal with them.

- Global Times

Chinese community leaders in London blast HK protests

Leaders of the Chinese community in Britain on Monday called on protesters in Hong Kong to stop the Occupy Central movement and let things return to normal.

According to a statement issued by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, the Occupy Central movement has disrupted Hong Kong long enough and needs to be wrapped up soon.

The statement called for stability through the “one country, two systems” policy and continued successful economic development for the international financial capital.

Under Hong Kong’s basic law and its top legislature’s decisions, more than 5 million Hong Kong voters have a say in who will become the chief executive in 2017 through the “one man, one vote” electoral system, said Chu Ting Tang, chairman of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, at a forum on the Hong Kong situation in London’s Chinatown.

Residents of Hong Kong, under the “one country, two systems” rule, enjoy freedom of speech, religion, education and employment, Tang said, adding that “residents can demonstrate in the streets, criticize the government, media and members of the legislative body and monitor the government without restriction”.

Tang believes that Hong Kong residents have been enjoying prosperity from a thriving economy and that their standard of living has been improving year by year.

“Since rejoining the Chinese mainland in 1997, Hong Kong’s status as an international center for commerce and trade has been strengthened. The employment rate has also reached an all-time high,” Tang said.

Shan Sheng, president of the UK Chinese Association for the Promotion of National Reunification, noted that the Occupy Central movement has had a serious impact on the residents of Hong Kong by obstructing administrative operations.

The students among the protesters are young, some even not yet in their 20s, Shan said. Their understanding of politics is rather shallow.

Since being implemented in 1997, the policy of “one country, two systems” has been progressing smoothly in Hong Kong, Shan said, adding that real estate and the economy of Hong Kong have thrived.

The current protest movement is negatively influencing that development and the everyday livelihood of Hong Kong residents, Shan added.

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters, most of them students, joined the Occupy Central movement to express their discontent over the process set by the top legislature for electing the region’s next leader through universal suffrage.

China’s Hong Kong government on Tuesday held its first formal talks with students who have been participating in the Occupy Central movement since Sept 28.

- China Daily/Asia News Network

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GST will push up home prices by 2.6%, said Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia


GST_Home price upBut it says still too early to determine exact increase

PETALING JAYA: Home prices will rise by about 2.6% once the goods and services tax (GST) comes into play, said the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda).

The chairman of the association’s task force on accounting and taxation, Datuk Ng Seing Liong, said that the calculation was based on its consultations with industry experts and member developers.

REHDA_GST prices upReal Estate and Housing Developers’ Association of Malaysia (Rehda) says the GST is likely to raise property prices.

Rehda’s 2.6% estimate differs from that of the Customs Department, which expects the GST to have an impact of between 0.5% and 2% on house prices, assuming there’s no change in supply and demand conditions.

Ng said the association was in full support of the GST and concurred with Customs GST director Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy, who had said that land did not incur the 6% GST rate.

However, he said land was by no means the largest cost component in property development.

“As our calculation clearly spells out, the construction cost, which constitutes 46% of the total development, is not only the largest component but also the component which will attract the GST of 6%,” he said in a letter to StarBiz.

He said the GST on this component would inevitably lead to an increase in house prices.

Appending calculations for a housing unit originally priced at RM400,000, Ng said the price post-GST would be around RM410,560.

Under the 46% construction component, costs were broken down into non-service taxable and service taxable segments, representing 44%, or RM176,000, and 2%, or RM8,000, respectively.

Under the non-service taxable segment comes items such as cement/concrete, steel, bricks and sand, while the service taxable segment includes tiles and fittings/sanitary. Under the existing sales and service tax, no tax is imposed on the non-service taxable category, while the service taxable category has a tax of up to 10% imposed on it.

Post-GST, Rehda’s calculations showed that the non-service taxable cost had gone up to RM186,560, while the service taxable cost remained at RM8,000.

It maintained the same cost estimates for other items, including land (15% or RM60,000), infrastructure and pre-development works (10% or RM40,000), professional fees and marketing costs (6% or RM24,000), finance costs (6% or RM24,000) and profit (17% or RM68,000).

Ng said Rehda also disagreed with Subromaniam, who had said that developers could easily absorb cost increases as their margins were around 30%.

He said it was currently impossible for developers to earn up to a 30% profit, as most development costs were on the rise, along with various capital contributions and charges imposed on developers.

“On average, as tabulated in the calculation, developers, most of which are public-listed companies, are only making around 17% at best,” he said.

However, Ng said it was still too early to determine the actual house price increases post-GST, as Rehda was still in discussions with the Government and there appeared to be many more issues to be ironed out.

By Isabelle Lai The Star/Asia News Network


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More Malaysians are being declared bankrupt!


JOHOR BARU: Young Malaysians are being declared bankrupt because they spend more than they earn, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri (pic).

This trend was worrying because most of them had just started working but already had debt problems, she added.

“This younger generation are supposed to be the next leaders. Instead, we have those who are already facing financial difficulties at a very young age,’’ she told a press conference after opening an information programme for young people at the Home Ministry complex at Setia Tropika here yesterday.

Quoting figures from the Insolvency Department, she said there was an increase in the number of young Malaysians being declared bankrupts in the past five years.

She said there were nearly 22,000 cases last year, an increase from about 13,200 in 2007.

Within the first six months of this year, more than 12,300 young Malaysians had been declared bankrupt. They include 3,680 women.

“On the average, 70.22% of the cases are men,” said Nancy, adding that most of them have outstanding debts of RM30,000 or more and could not afford to settle their dues.

She said the high bankruptcy rate among Malaysians at a young age mainly resulted from defaulting on instalment payments on car, housing and personal loans.

Nancy said there had been celebrities who were also declared bankrupt but most of them declined to seek assistance from the Insolvency Department.

She added that aside from the department, those who have problems managing their finances could seek advice from the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency.

The Star/Asia News Network

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Money, money, money … Love of money is the root of all evil !

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Money, money, money … Love of money is the root of all evil !


Lets not use Money as an all-powerful weapon to buy people

ONE can safely assume that the subject of money would be of interest to almost all and sundry. ABBA, the Swedish group, sang about it. Hong Kong’s canto pop king, Samuel Hui made a killing singing about it. Donna Summers, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Rick James and quite a few more, all did their versions of it.

Is money all that matters? The ‘be all and end all’ of life?

This will certainly be a fiercely-debated subject by people from both sides of the divide; the haves and have nots.

Just last week, my 12-year-old asked if the proverb Money is the root of all evil is true. Naturally, like most kids of his generation, he would not have a clue as to how difficult it is for money to come about. Or why, when it does come about, it has the power to make and break a person. To a Gen-Z kid, the concept of having to ‘earn’ money is somewhat alien. Simply because everything he ever needs and beyond is ‘magically’ provided for.

Forget about teaching this generation to earn their keeps, just expecting them to pick up after themselves is a herculean ask. But we are not here to talk about that, instead, is money really the root of all evil? Perhaps, the proper answer would be ‘the love of money is’.

Let’s see what sort of evil comes with this love of money. Top of mind would be corruption, covetousness, cheating, even murder, just to name a few. These, of course, are of the extreme.

What about at the workplace? How does the love of money or rather the lure of money affect the employment market? Let me take on a profession closer to my heart, the advertising industry. Annually, our varsities and colleges churn out thousands of mass communication and advertising grads. Of these, only a handful would venture into the industry. Where have all the others gone?

A quick check with fellow agency heads reveals that many have opted to go into the financial sectors as the starting packages are somehow always miraculously higher than those offered by advertising agencies. A classic case of money at work. For those who have actually joined the ad industry, some get pinched after a while because of a better offer of … money, and more. (As if this is not bad enough, the “pinchers” are often not only from within the industry but are clients!)

The fact is there is absolutely nothing wrong in working towards being the top of one’s profession and getting appropriately remunerated for it. The problem starts when money is used as the all-powerful weapon to ‘buy’ people. Premium ringgit is often paid to acquire many of these hires, some of whom, unfortunately, are still a little wet behind the ears. Paying big bucks for talent is all right, as long as the money commensurate with the ability and experience of the person.

Case in point is if an individual is qualified only as a junior executive with his current employer, should he then be offered the job as a manager and paid twice the last drawn salary? All because some of us are just so short on resources.

Now, hypothetically, if this person was offered the managerial post anyway, would he be able to manage the portfolio and deliver what is expected of him? Would he, for instance, ask what he needs to bring to the table? After all, he has suddenly become the client service director and draws a salary of RM20k a month. Does he actually need to bring more new businesses, or what? We can call ourselves all sorts of fancy titles but the point is we have got to earn it. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Having served on the advertising association council for the past nine years and presiding over it the last two, it concerns me greatly to see the how money is affecting and somewhat thinning the line of qualified successors to the present heads.

The lack of new talents coming into the ad business is increasingly worrisome. Though it may look a seemingly distant issue to most clients, they must now take heed. The agencies are business partners and if there is going to be a dearth of talents it will surely affect the clients’ business in the near future. So rather than pinching the rare good ones from the agencies, would it then not be in the clients’ best interest to instead remunerate the agencies so to secure better and higher standards of expertise? Food for thought, eh?

Pardon me for being old school. I am a firm advocate of the saying that one should not chase money. First learn to be at the top of your trade and money will chase you. Then again, we are now dealing with and learning how to manage the present generation. A generation of young, smart, fearless, and somewhat impatient lot who may not be as loyal as their predecessors. A generation that loves life and crave excitement. Adventure is in their blood and ‘conforming’ is a bad word. And money, lots of it, makes the world go faster for them.

As elders, we need to look hard and deep into how to inculcate the right value of money in this new generation. These are our children. They are the future. If we make no attempt to set this right and instead keep on condoning the practice of over-remunerating them, we will be in trouble. The fact that Malaysia will soon have to compete in the free-trade region further allows money to flex its muscles more. I shudder to think what would happen to our young ones if we keep on mollycoddling them with the wrong idea that they ought to be highly paid just for breathing.

Folks, my sincere apologies if I have inadvertently touched some tender nerves but a wake-up call this has to be. For our dear clients, think about the proposition to review your agency’s remunerations – upwards I mean. This, over taking people from the industry, will save you more in the long run.

For those of us in the agencies, let us keep polishing up our skills and not let money be the sole motivator. If you are good, others will take notice. Work hard, the rewards will come. Just exercise some patience.

I leave you with a saying that one Mr Jaspal Singh said to me when I was a rookie advertising sales rep with The Star eons ago: “Man make money, money does NOT make a man”. (Or woman, of course.)

Till the next time, a very Happy Deepavali to all.

God bless!

By Datuk Johnny Mun, who has been an advertising practitioner for over 30 years, is president of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents. He is also CEO of Krakatua ICOM, a local ad agency.

Like father, like daughter: Young Malaysian property developer making her mark in Melbourne


IJM_likefather_adeleneteh
Teh(pic), 27, co-founder of Beulah International, strides proudly in the footsteps of her father, Datuk Teh Kean Ming, chief executive officer/managing director of IJM Corp Bhd, who has been in the construction and property development industry for over 35 years.

MELBOURNE: Adelene Teh, a second-generation Malaysian property developer, is quickly making her mark in the competitive property development market here.

Teh, 27, co-founder of Beulah International, strides proudly in the footsteps of her father, Datuk Teh Kean Ming, chief executive officer/managing director of IJM Corp Bhd, who has been in the construction and property development industry for over 35 years.

Teh, a graduate from the University of Melbourne with a Master’s degree in architecture, was born and raised in Malaysia.

“I fondly remember my father taking me for walk-throughs on project sites and explaining the details. I am proud of what he was doing,” he told Bernama.

She attributed much of her own interest in property sector to her father, whose dedication and passion have influenced her career path.

Teh has collaborated with internationally-renowned global architects, Woods Bagot and multi-award winning landscape architect, Jack Merlo, to offer sophisticated first-class lifestyle in her new project, Gardenhill.

The A$76.5mil 11-storey, 136-unit apartment project offers luxury living in Doncaster, a prestigious eastern suburb here.

The prices range from A$360,000 to A$405,000 for one-bedroom units while two-bedroom units range from A$490,000 to A$745,000.

The estimated yields are between 4% and 6%.

In a recently-published article in The Age newspaper, Andrew Leoncelli, managing director of CBRE Residential Projects, said the location, perched high above Doncaster Hill and just 15km to Melbourne CBD, is a huge draw.

“Being high on the hill means amazing city and park views, while being directly adjacent to such a good shopping centre, with a host of luxury brands makes it an excellent prospect in real estate terms,” Leoncelli said.

Together with her partner, Jiaheng Chan, co-founder of Beulah International, they are the driving force behind the success of Gardenhill.

Malaysians will have the opportunity to attend and select the units at the KL Westin preview this weekend before the public Melbourne launch.

With already 30% of the units sold and scores of registrations before the public launch, Gardenhill is set to be a resounding success.

Like her family heritage, Teh’s property development skills have been well honed.

— Bernama

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Brewing a startup – part 1


Magic Logo


In a 10-part series, the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), in collaboration with The Star’s Metrobiz section, explores what it takes to make a great startup ecosystem, beginning with an understanding of what startups are all about.

The Father of Modern Chemistry, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier once said that it is vital “to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation.”

A startup’s journey is not very different, in that it is meant to run a series of experiments before it hits a growth path. According to Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur who developed the Customer Development Methodology, “A startup is an organisation formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”

But what is a business model?

A business model describes how your company creates, delivers and captures value. An entrepreneur is supposed to create a vision for a product that solves a real problem in the world, with a series of assumptions about all the pieces. Who are the customers? How do you sell to them? How do you price and position the product? How do you build and finance the company?

An entrepreneur’s job is to quickly validate whether the model is correct by seeing if customers behave as predicted. Most of the time they don’t. So entrepreneurs are supposed to tweak that business model until they find enough traction to grow into a sustainable company.

Once on a growth trajectory, a startup decides to enter new markets or create new product lines and eventually exits favourably, providing significant returns to investors or venture capitalists.

Like science experiments, a startup is meant to fail several times before it succeeds. It is important that we understand this in order to support local entrepreneurs who are looking to push the boundaries of innovation.

Jack Ma’s e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s recent US$25bil (RM80.7bil) initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, which is the largest in history, proves that Asian entrepreneurs and markets are just as competitive and innovative as those in the US.World largest IPO: Alibaba shows

Another revered Silicon Valley figure, Y Combinator startup incubator founder Paul Graham describes a startup as, “a company designed to grow fast.” He goes on to explain that a startup does not have to be newly founded to work on sophisticated technology or to take venture funding. He emphasised that the only essential thing for a startup to achieve is high growth.

Without high growth, a company is categorised as the more common small- and medium-sized enterprises of mom-and-pop shops, professional services firms, manufacturers, brick-and-mortar businesses, or resellers. They typically grow at a steadier rate, require physical locations, more up-front capital (usually bank loans as opposed to private investments) and are not as scalable (can only serve a limited number of people based on human resource capacity).

The new startups of the 21st century are also admittedly different from the old-school startups of the 1970s, back in the early Microsoft, Oracle and Apple days. Today’s startups are a new breed that leverages the Internet and technology to scale across borders very quickly.

Startups such as Facebook, Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, Uber and Spotify have all achieved billion-dollar valuations in a matter of three to four years.

This signifies that we are in a new era where entrepreneurs are able to very quickly create global products that permeate our daily lives. And these entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, not just Silicon Valley, which is typically the benchmark for startup and innovation ecosystems around the world.

Startups are the main job creators in the US economy, and similarly, it will become the primary growth engine for Malaysia as we seek to become a high-income nation by 2020.

As a nation that is trying to push its own innovation boundaries, we should come together and support our young entrepreneurs and enable them to solve some of the toughest problems in our country and beyond.

Next week: Some of our local startups who have made it big.

By: LIM WING HOOI

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Malaysian homes more unaffordable than Singapore, Japan and the US; Budget 2015 brings little joy


Home affordability_ Dem

File picture shows houses under construction in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has a ‘severely unaffordable’ residential homes market, according to researcher Demographia.— AFP

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — Malaysia has a “severely unaffordable” residential homes market, with housing even more out of reach for its residents than in Singapore, Japan and the United States, according to US-based urban development researcher Demographia.

Demographia’s report was cited today in a report in Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper to highlight how many Malaysians continue to be locked out of the residential housing market despite the federal government’s attempt at helping first-time house buyers.

According to the ST report, Demographia rates housing as severely unaffordable if it is 5.1 times median annual income. Malaysia clocks in at 5.5x, higher than Singapore’s 5.1x, while housing in the United States and Japan is “moderately unaffordable”.

Government data cited by the ST report shows that since 2012 median monthly household income has risen eight per cent annually to RM4,258, slower than the average housing price increase of 10 per cent to RM280,886.

The country’s consumer price index has risen by an average of 3.3 per cent this year and Putrajaya had warned it may spike by 5 per cent next year, tripling the 2013 average.

In presenting Budget 2015 last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak introduced a Youth Housing Scheme that will waive down-payments and subsidise ownership by up to RM10,000 for 20,000 married couples under 40.

Najib also said the government would provide another 80,000 new homes priced at RM100,000 to RM400,000 under the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA).

Both schemes, including the existing My First Home (MFH) scheme are only for households with a combined monthly income of less than RM10,000.

According to Bank Negara only a third of My First Home applicants received loans in the first year, as banks refused to take risks.

And PR1MA has seen just 761 buyers for the 160,000 units launched since 2013.

“We earn just over that but it’s not enough for savings. We can convert rent into loan repayments but we can’t pay the 10 per cent deposit,” lawyer Puteri Mohamad told the Straits Times in commenting on the Budget proposal to help households earning less than RM10,000 monthly to buy homes.

Office administrator Mimie Azriene Mohd Zin, 32, has no children but she and her technician husband have applied for a PR1MA home.

But she told the Straits Times they have not figured out how to afford the down payment on their combined income of under RM4,000 a month that leaves them with little savings living in expensive Kuala Lumpur.

“We might not even be able to afford the repayment but we have to try before prices go up further,” she told the daily.

Source:  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/

Malaysia’s budget aid brings little joy to house hunters

Despite being a partner in a law firm just outside Kuala Lumpur, Ms. Puteri Mohamad, and her fiance, can only watch as apartments in the area where she lives spiral above 500,000 ringgit (US$153,334).

When the government proposed measures in its 2015 Budget — released on Friday — to help households earning less than 10,000 ringgit (US$3,067) monthly to buy homes, she was not at all elated.

“We earn just over that but it’s not enough for savings. We can convert rent into loan repayments but we can’t pay the 10 percent deposit,” said Puteri, 33, who lives in a rented flat in Petaling Jaya.

Many Malaysians like her find themselves locked out by a combination of what U.S.-based urban development researcher Demographia rates as a “severely unaffordable” residential market and accelerating inflation.

Malaysia’s consumer price index — which includes many subsidized goods — has risen by an average of 3.3 percent so far this year and the government warns it may spike by 5 percent next year, nearly triple the 2013 average.

Government data shows that since 2012 median monthly household income has risen 8 percent annually to 4,258 ringgit, slower than the average housing price increase of 10 percent to 280,886 ringgit.

Demographia rates housing as severely unaffordable if it is 5.1 times median annual income.

Malaysia clocks in at 5.5x, higher than Singapore’s 5.1x, while housing in the United States and Japan is “moderately unaffordable.”

Prime minister Najib Razak said in his budget speech the government would provide another 80,000 affordable homes (priced at 100,000 ringgit to 400,000 ringgit) under the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA) and introduce the Youth Housing Scheme that will waive downpayments and subsidize ownership by up to 10,000 ringgit for 20,000 married couples under the age of 40.

Both schemes, as well as the existing downpayment waiver under the My First Home scheme, are only for households with a combined monthly income of less than 10,000 ringgit.

The National Housebuyers Association lauded the moves to help aspiring homeowners in financing but criticized the lack of new measures to cool rising prices that are the root of the problem.

Its secretary-general, Chang Kim Loong, said speculators have taken advantage of the low entry cost of buying a property at the expense of genuine buyers.

Office administrator Mimie Azriene Mohd Zin, 32, has no children but she and her technician husband have been unable to even think of home ownership until these schemes came along.

They applied for a PR1MA home, which the government says is priced 20 percent lower than comparable units, worth about 200,000 ringgit three months ago.

But they have not figured out how to afford the downpayment on their combined income of under 4,000 ringgit a month that leaves them with little savings living in expensive Kuala Lumpur.

“We might not even be able to afford the repayment but we have to try before prices go up further,” she said.

That is, if she can get a loan in the first place. The central bank reported that only a third of My First Home applicants in the first year received loans as banks refused to take the risk.

Tellingly, even PR1MA saw just 761 buyers for the 160,000 units launched since 2013.

BY By Shannon Teoh, The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Related:

Annual DhiDemographia International Housing Affordability Affordability Survey: 2014

PDF]10th Annual D hi Demographia International Housing

http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf

MIEA disappointed with Budget 2015

The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) believes that
the measures unveiled in Budget 2015 were too small to have an effect on
the property market.  Read full story 
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