Electrical cables & wires: uncertified and substandard items are dangerous!


Penang has confirmed the illegal hill clearing cases reported by Penang Forum


Land clearing in Penang is rampant with Civil liberties group, Penang Forum (PF) revealing only 7.4 per cent of the state is categorised as forested land. NSTP pix
Location : Near Lintang Bukit Jambul 1
Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16’52.82″E
Report sent in August 2016. Photos taken in November 2016 and 2014. PHW Report 15 pix.

 

GEORGE TOWN: Penang has acknowledged that nine out of 29 hill clearing cases on the island, as reported by Penang Forum , were illegal.

Penang Forum representative Rexy Prakash Chacko said state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) had a discussion with them last week.

This came about after the forum’s first Penang Hills Watch (PHW) report on hill clearing cases was submitted to the state on Jan 2.

“They investigated the report and concluded that only nine were illegal clearing activities while the rest were legally permitted land works (14) and natural slope failure (one). The other five cases are still being investigated by the relevant departments.

“The illegal clearing cases have been issued with stop work orders or are being followed up by court action,” he said on Saturday.

Chacko commended Penang’s concern and transparency in responding to the PHW report.

He urged for close monitoring on the nine illegal clearing cases and for mitigation action to be taken to rehabilitate the areas if necessary.

“For those with permits, the forum hopes that the clearing will strictly adhere to the state laws on land works and drainage.”

Chow, when met at Datuk Keramat assemblyman Jagdeep Singh Deo’s CNY open house in Taman Free School, said he had discussed with Penang Forum members about the report and answered their queries.

The public can view the PHW report as well as the response from the state government at the Penang Hills Watch Facebook page (@PenangHillsWatch) or the Penang Forum website, and see them interactively on a map at the Penang Hills Watch page.

PHW, a citizen-oriented initiative to provide a platform to monitor activities affecting the hills of Penang, was launched in October last year by Penang Forum, a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups often critical of the state government’s plans and policies. –  The Star

Related:

Penang Forum launches Penang Hills Watch | Malaysia

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Dec 26, 2016 Dr Lim has raised various concerns during his stint as a councillor and forum member on issues related to hill clearing, land reclamation, …

More big corrupt officials nabbed: Datuk among those busted for graft & mismanagement


Sitting in the lap of luxury: A Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the suspects

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/LYHqhmC5oeknocookie.com/embed/Hap2yFzhxG0 https://youtu.be/LYHqhmC5oek

Five people, including two former senior officers of Felda, are in remand for seven days from today for investigations into alleged misappropriation in connection with a sturgeon fish rearing project worth RM47.6 million. — Bernama

Five Felda officials linked to Felda, one of them a ‘Datuk’ have been arrested in a sting operation dubbed ‘Ops Caviar’ , as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission zeroes in on a RM47.6 million sturgeon farming project which failed to take off in Pahang.

PETALING JAYA: Felda is the latest government-linked company (GLC) to be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which saw three current and two former officers, one of them a Datuk, being arrested for alleged corruption over a project worth RM47.6mil.

Three of them were former senior executives, who held positions of power when they were still with the GLC.

They are the GLC’s former director-general, ex-deputy director-general (strategic resources), and the former operations officer in charge of the sturgeon project.

Two others detained were its head of London Properties and an assistant administration officer.

All five were picked up in a sting operation, dubbed Ops Caviar, by officers from the anti-graft body between 11.30am and 6pm in several locations around Klang Valley yesterday.

Many valuable items were seized during the raids, including a luxury car and jewellery, estimated to be worth millions of ringgit.

More items are expected to be seized as anti-graft officers visit their homes and obtain details of their assets and personal accounts of their immediate family members to be frozen as part of investigations.

They are being investigated for alleged corruption, abuse of positions and using the GLC for personal gain.

It is learnt that the investigation was zeroing in on the implementation of technology transfer in relation to the sturgeon fish rearing project with a Korean firm.

“We believe all the five suspects are directly involved in the project worth US$10mil (RM47.6mil) since 2014.

Penchant for bling bling: Some of the jewellery seized from the suspects.
Major haul: Some of the items sized by MACC

“Checks showed that in early 2013, a meeting was held to discuss the project.

“But the Felda board of directors told the 53-year-old suspect to first come up with a detailed report and a proposal on the amount of investments for the project before making a decision,” said a source.

But unknown to the Felda directors, financial and legal divisions, a company – Felda Carviative Sdn Bhd (FCSB) – was set up in January 2014.

An agreement, worth US$45mil (RM146.25mil), was then signed between the company and a Korean firm, in relation to sturgeon rearing deal.

Checks by the MACC showed the project did not receive accreditation from the Pahang Department of Environment as per the SOP.

“We found payment made to the Korean firm about one week after the FCSB was set up.

“This was despite no approval being obtained from the Felda directors,” added the source.

So far, funds amounting to RM47.6mil from Felda have been disbursed by the suspects.

It is learnt the deal with the foreign firm involved technology transfer, service agreement and design and construction agreement.

The agreement was said to have been inked by the Datuk and the 53-year-old suspect, both of whom were former directors of FCSB.

Then, the financial division was also under the purview of both suspects.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Simi Abd Ghani confirmed the arrests of the five.

Simi said stacks of documents relating to the project had been seized to assist in the probe.

“The investigation is still in the initial stage. We will need time to sift through the documents and call in more witnesses to gather evidence. Give us some time to work on the case,” he said.

All the five suspects, held overnight at the MACC Putrajaya headquarters, will be remanded today.

Source: The Star/ANN

Related:

Auditor General Ambrin: Losses in publicly funded projects due to graft

Tan Sri Ambrin Buang

KUALA LUMPUR: Mismanage­ment and corruption in publicly funded construction projects have caused potential losses of up to 30% of a project’s investment value, according to the Auditor-General (pic).

Tan Sri Ambrin Buang said a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank showed how corruption in the infrastructure and extractive sectors had led to misallocation of public funds and services that were substandard and insufficient.

“It is difficult to measure the exact cost, but it has been estimated that between 10% and 30% of the investment in publicly funded construction projects may be lost through mismanagement, and about 20% to 30% of project value is lost through corruption,” he said at the Combating Procurement Fraud in the Public and Private Sectors Forum 2017 yesterday.

The forum highlighted the issues in public procurements in Malaysia – a process where the government obtains works, goods or services from companies and one that Ambrin said is most vulnerable to corruption.

Ambrin’s speech was read out by the National Audit Department’s research, corporate and international relations division director Roslan Abu Bakar.

Ambrin also observed that procurement fraud in the public sector is a complex issue, covering a wide range of illegal activities from bid-rigging during the pre-contract award phase through to false invoicing in the post-contract award phase.

He noted that last year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission had opened up a series of investigations involving government procurements.

“One of these involved senior government officials making false claims and fraud amounting to RM20mil last year, and this was followed by a case involving a senior Youth and Sports Ministry official amounting to RM107mil.

“Another case involved a Sabah Water Department official for fraud amounting to RM153mil, and the latest arrest involved a federal ministry secretary-general,” he said.

The Auditor-General added that based on experience, he could not entirely dismiss the existence of bid-rigging in Malaysia’s public procurement.

“One of the signs is when an equipment price is quoted higher than market value.

“If procurement officers do not research market prices, they will believe that the given price is reasonable.

“For example, in the Audit Report, we highlighted significant differences in prices of certain equipment, ranging from RM1,000 to RM7,200 additional cost for the same types and specifications,” he said.

Post-contract fraud is also a common problem, and Ambrin said the department had identified cases where payment control systems were bypassed to allow for fraud to occur.

Source: The Star/ANN



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Structural defects to blame, stop history repeating itself !


Sniffing out signs of life: The K-9 unit of the City Fire and Rescue operations looking for possible victims at the site of the bridge collapse near Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Structural failure possibly caused the collapse of an under-construction pedestrian bridge at KL Eco City near Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum here.

Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) director-general Datuk Mohtar Musri said the initial investigation suggested that a defective structure could have led to the disaster on Wednesday.

He said the department would refer to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall regarding the quality of materials used in the construction of the bridge.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said a task force has been set up to probe the incident.

He said the result of the investigation was expected to be made public in a month, and that tough action could be taken against the developer if it was found to have flouted safety regulations.

“We can bring them to court, not just under DOSH but CIDB too. Under the CIDB Malaysia Act 1994, they can face a RM500,000 fine or a two-year jail sentence,” he said.

The RM7mil pedestrian bridge linking the planned KL Eco City project to the Gardens Shopping Mall in Mid Valley, which was still under construction, collapsed and killed one worker and injured five others on Wednesday.

The search-and-rescue operation at the site of the incident was halted after it was confirmed that there was no worker trapped underneath the mangled brick-and-iron structure.

City Fire and Rescue Department deputy operations chief Ruhisha Haris said K-9 teams had confirmed that there were no signs of a body.

However, the mystery of the missing construction worker remains.

“We first received information that a worker might have been trapped because a colleague saw him under the bridge minutes before it collapsed.

“A head count by the developer also revealed a missing worker, but they were unable to give us a name,” he said.

The dead victim has been identified as Tran Xuan Vang, 21, from Vietnam. Two other Vietnamese, Tran Van Hai and Luong Van Guyet, as well as Indonesian Nor Syamsi, Bangladeshi MD Jashim and Pakistan national Rais Aman Majid were injured and are currently being treated at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.

Medical staff were forced to amputate Rais’ left leg on site to save his life.

In a statement issued on the day of the incident, SP Setia, the developer of the project, said it deeply regretted the incident and was working with the authorities in the investigation.

“The project team is still assessing the situation,” it said.

Work on the KL Eco City project – a mixed development comprising three residential towers, one serviced apartments tower, three corporate office towers, 12 boutique office blocks and one retail podium – started in 2011 and is scheduled to be fully completed by 2023.

Commenting on the incident, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the time had come for players in the construction industry to practise their commitment to safety.

“All these accidents are preventable if the person in charge puts into practice good occupational and safety health measures and the site safety supervisor makes sure work is done properly,” he said.

By M. kumar and Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asian News Network

Stop history repeating itself

THE Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is horrified with the news of the collapse of the incomplete pedestrian bridge meant to connect KL Eco City and Mid Valley Megamall in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Not even a month after a couple was crushed by a piling rig that fell on them at a construction site along Persiaran Astana, Klang, another tragic incident leading to serious injury and death has occurred.

If all the parties involved in the building industry – including the local councils, developers, contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, structural engineers, DOSH and all the others – had carried out their roles and functions efficiently, this could have been prevented.

Despite our repeated calls for the Government to conduct a full inquiry into the operations of the Department of Safety and Health (DOSH), it would seem like the relevant authorities are unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

When incidents like this happen, it becomes clear to us that DOSH and developers do not have their priorities right.

Instead of working on preventing such incidents, they wait until it happens before scrambling to take corrective measures to fix the problem.

The issue here is that there are no corrective measures that can be taken once a life is lost; that is not something that can be recovered.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Professor Datuk Dr Mahyuddin Ramli has been reported saying that incidents of this nature can happen when contractors do not comply with safety standards.

In this case, he said that concrete takes at least a week to dry and harden; the wet weather we have been experiencing means it will take even longer.

The USM professor also said that another way something like this can happen is if contractors do not use proper scaffolding during the construction process.

The distance between scaffolds and the size of the scaffolds used are very important as they will vary according to the structure they are meant to hold up.

DOSH’s director-general, Datuk Mohtar Musri, has stated that their initial investigation suggested that the incident happened because the structure was defective.

He said that they need to look into the quality of the materials that were used to construct the pedestrian bridge.

Whatever the cause, the relevant authorities and the public need to be aware that this is just history repeating itself.

If the incident did truly happen because of a structural defect, then it needs to be made clear that nobody can plead ignorance.

DOSH safety officers and onsite safety inspectors should have known about the structural defects if they did exist.

This begs the question of whether or not proper safety inspections were done at the appropriate stages by the relevant parties.

We ask that the results of the investigation into the latest incident be shared with the general public.

CAP would also like to know what happened to the findings from the investigation of previous incidents.

Why has this information not been shared with the public when their lives are also put in danger by the conduct of those at construction sites?

In view of this, CAP calls for penal action to be taken against all parties who have been involved in the project. They should all be held accountable even if they were not directly involved.

By S. M. MOHAMED IDRIS President Consumers Association of Penang

[PDF]The Law of Construction Defects and Failures

 Worker killed in bridge collapse tragedy

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/3QFRF_5oRAY

The Star Graphics:  http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/midvalley/midvalley.mp4

KUALA LUMPUR: A Vietnamese construction worker was killed and five others were injured when a 70m yet-to-be-completed bridge near Jalan Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum and Mid Valley Megamall collapsed.

The victim was buried in the rubble of the collapsed pedestrian bridge.

As of press time, rescue workers were still searching for a Bangladeshi worker believed to be trapped in the rubble.

The authorities have since mobilised the K9 unit to locate him.

The firemen and paramedics were seen changing shift as the rescue mission continued into the night. Some were heard saying that locating the victim would be challenging.

However, all the rescuers were resolute in their attempt to find the last victim, never once giving up hope.

The five injured workers – two Vietnamese, two Bangladeshis and an Indonesian – were sent to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre for treatment.

Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Sharul Othman Mansor said the bridge was 80% completed when the incident occurred.

“We are still investigating the incident.

“We were alerted at about 4pm of the incident and quickly mobilised a search-and-rescue team,” he said at the scene.

Four roads were also affected by massive jams due to the incident.

According to Star Media Radio Traffic, the affected roads were the Federal Highway from the arch, the Kerinchi Link after the Pantai toll plaza, Kerinchi Intersection from Bangsar South or Pantai Medical Centre and Jalan Syed Putra from the Kuen Cheng School till the Robson Intersection.

While the main reason for the traffic congestion was due to certain road closures to make way for rescue workers, traffic was backed up near the mall due to many motorists slowing down to see the collapsed bridge.

Mall patrons, construction workers and curious onlookers were seen crowding the area near the bridge, where it was cordoned off for safety precautions.

By Farik Zolkepli, Jastin Ahmad Tarmizi, and Austin Camoens The Star/ANN

Related:  

 Developer to investigate

‘The ground shook and the bridge came crashing down’

Pedestrian bridge collapse: Long road to recovery for injured victims

Bridge collapse: SAR operations stopped, one worker still missing 

Govt may handle workplace safety

Fadillah: Independent monitoring likely

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government would like to take over the job of monitoring safety at construction sites away from developers following a string of deaths as a result of mishaps in the last three months.

Those duties, said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, may be entrusted to third party organisations that will be given autonomy in the planning, execution and supervision of workplace safety at construction sites.

Usually, these jobs are handled by contractors hired by the project developers but Fadillah said that this would mean the monitoring process was not independent.

Speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Construction Excellence Centre (Mampan), the minister said the suggestion for independent monitoring was brought up by the experts at the centre.

Mampan is headed by the Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (Cream), a subsidiary of the Government’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

Fadillah said the proposal to appoint third party safety monitors would be implemented first in Government construction projects.

He added that he hoped the private sector construction industry would do the same.

Currently, the Department of Occupational and Safety Hazard (DOSH) monitors government projects but it is reportedly too understaffed to keep track of every project.

For now we will have to make do with existing laws. This is why we need a commitment from the industry players,” he told reporters after the launch.

For now we will have to make do with existing laws. This is why we need a commitment from the industry players. Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof

He said that Mampan would be a key organisation under the Government’s environmental sustainability initiative for its Construction Industry Transformation Programme.

The centre will undertake research with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and the Rehda Institute to instil better industry practices, certification and awareness in the construction industry.

“We don’t want to build bridges that have no resilience and collapse when there is a flood.

“Our short-term goal is to position Malaysia as a regional leader in sustainability in construction and to raise the perception of sustainability in construction here,” he said.

Fadillah witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cream chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali and academics from the four universities and research institutes which will be a part of the new centre.

By NICHOLAS CHENG The Star/ANN

Related:

Rehda: Not feasible to have third party monitor construction sites now …

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Building structural integrity & failure: problems, inspections, damages, defects, testing, diagnosis, repair 

 

 Getting titles right in the engineering field in Malaysia

Ma’sia’s skilled labour shortage, engineers not take up challenges, graduates can’t solve problems


More trained workers needed to attract new capital investments

Yap says manufacturers have to source for high-quality technology from places such as Taiwan and Europe to upgrade their production.

THE Malaysian economy can sure use a boost to grow sustainably in the long term because the indicators for long-term growth do not look very good.

That boost should come from a focus on human capital. To put it simply, a better proportion of skilled workers is needed for the economy to move up the value chain and be globally competitive.

This year the economy is expected to grow just over 4% year-on-year, after growing 5% last year and 6% in 2014. The economy is expected to grow by 4% to 5% next year although the headwinds buffeting the Malaysian economy will make it challenging to hit the upper band of the target.

Moving up the chain will mean producing goods and services that have a higher value, meaning that productivity will rise. The rise in productivity will mean that workers will get better wages. This is the basic argument of policymakers when they speak of how human capital can help the economy.

However, the reality is different. According to data from the Malaysian Productivity Corp, the average annual labour productivity growth between 2011 and 2015 was 1.8% while the 11MP has a target of 3.7% annual growth. The doubling in labour productivity growth is needed to hit the high-income target of the New Economic Model.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan notes that the economy saw a labour productivity growth of 3.3% last year but believes that it will be challenging for labour productivity to grow in the years to come because of the lack of skilled workers.

Shamsuddin: ‘I doubt very much whether our policy emphasising English will be successful, as statistics indicate that if we ask teachers themselves to take SPM English exam, possibly half of them will fail.’

The 11MP targets skilled workers, that is, those with diplomas and higher qualifications, to reach 35% or 5.35 million of total workforce by 2020. Currently 28% of the total workforce of 14.76 million are considered skilled workers.

Shamsuddin fears that without more skilled workers, the economy will find it more difficult to move up the value chain and will not be able to attract large capital investments.

He tells StarBizWeek that the 11MP target is well below the proportion for skilled workers compared to developed economies, where the proportion is at least half of the total workforce.

Shamsuddin says government plans to raise the skill levels of Malaysian workers have so far only shown mixed results, with a gap between the plans and the actual implementation.

Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of rich economies, says in a 2013 report that the country needs to address long-standing economic weaknesses in the medium term in order to progress toward becoming an advanced economy within the next decade.

“Skill shortages and mismatches and the deficiencies in the education system that underlie them and the low participation of women in the workforce particularly need to be remedied,” it says.

It adds that the talent base of the workforce lags behind the standards of high-income nations. “The country suffers from a shortage of skilled workers, weak productivity growth stemming from a lack of creativity and innovation in the workforce, and an over-reliance on unskilled and low-wage migrant workers,” it adds.

Observers say cheap unskilled foreign labour is the bane of the Malaysian economy. According to the latest official estimates, there are 1.9 million documented foreign workers in the country with the Government having put a cap of the proportion of foreign workers to the total labour force at 15%.

Unofficial estimates of foreign workers, both legal and illegal, could be more than double that with the numbers having a negative effect on total wages.

Socio Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie says in the long run, businesses will need to increase automation for the low-value processes in the manufacturing sector in order to reduce their reliance on foreign labour.

“We are not asking everything to be automated as some places you still need labour, but what you want is to gradually move up rather than continue to rely on cheap labour.

“It is not a solution for industries to compete,” he says. There is also a need to review policies in order to identify implementation flaws and weaknesses.

But the work cannot be all one-way. Lee points out that the private sector must come forward to work with the Government to create a sustainable ecosystem for innovation.

While businesses acknowledge the urgency of working efficiently and relying less on foreign workers, they point out that the supporting technology including for automation cannot be found in the country and must be sourced from abroad.

Asia Poly Industrial Sdn Bhd executive director Michael Yap says manufacturers have to source for high-quality technology from places such as Europe and Taiwan to upgrade their production processes. The company, a subsidiary of Bursa-listed Asia Poly Holdings Bhd, is a maker of cast acrylic sheets used to make corporate signages, lighting displays and sanitary ware, has a high proportion of foreign workers in its workforce.

Yap also finds it difficult to get skilled workers or even motivated ones compared to the 1980s and 1990s. He says engineers today are not willing to take up challenges and many graduates cannot solve problems.

His colleagues observe that Malaysians also do not want to work in the manufacturing sector, even if the workplace environment is conducive and they are given opportunities to give their inputs.

Given the increasing importance of the services sector to the economy, Englishlanguage skills are important but again, there is a gap between the plan and the implementation.

The Services Sector Blueprint launched last year targets the sector to make up 56.5% of gross domestic product by 2020.

Shamsuddin says it is critical for the education system to plan for the future requirements of the economy and the command of English is very important to the services sector.

“I doubt very much whether our policy emphasising English will be successful, as statistics indicate that if we ask teachers themselves to take SPM English exam, possibly half of them will fail,” he adds.

Lee feels that a more consistent policy towards English is important, referring to the abrupt change in the teaching of mathematics and science to Bahasa Malaysia after it was taught in English from 1996 to 2012, as a change that has failed Malaysian children.

By ZUNAIRA SAIEED Starbizweek

RelatedLiow: Malaysia needs more skilled workers

Reducing reliance on foreign workers

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/eBG7C3xitL4

More engagement needed with industry to avoid labour shortage in certain sectors

PETALING JAYA: The freeze on the hiring of foreign workers from February reveals how reliant Malaysia’s economy is on low-wage labour for growth.

A rough calculation by Malaysian Palm Oil Association chief executive Datuk Makhdzir Mardan showed that in 2013, when the plantation industry had a shortage of 23,500 workers, the opportunity cost came to RM1.6bil. He points out that in 2013, one foreign worker who works as a harvester equalled RM500,000 in productivity.

While the over-arching industrial policy is to produce higher value-added goods and services, the truth is that large segments of the economy is still very much dependent on low-wage labour, particularly of the low-skilled foreign migrant-worker kind.

Migrant workers Manik and Mohammad Delowar, both 27 years old from Bangladesh, are two such workers working on the multibillion ringgit Sungei Buloh-Kajang MRT line. Manik has lived in Malaysia for the last eight years and has worked on three property projects before being employed to work on the MRT project.

Both earn a salary of between RM1,500 and RM1,600 per month, 75% of which is remitted home to support their families. Manik told StarBiz that the freeze, which came about after a public outcry over an agreement between the governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia to supply low-skilled workers, would definitely affect the flow of workers that wanted to work in Malaysia.

“I do not wish to go back to my country as I’ll not be able to find a job there,” he said, adding that unemployment in Bangladesh was high and he had to support a family of six.

Manik paid RM8,000 to an agent and waited a year before securing a job in Malaysia. He sold land and borrowed money in order to pay for the fees. Mohammad, who has been working in Malaysia for eight months, paid RM12,000 in fees.

Their experience tell the often unheard human story of foreign workers in Malaysia. These millions of workers who come from the most part from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Vietnam are familiar faces in various sectors of the economy. The construction and agriculture sectors cannot do without them while the services sector, especially the hospitality, food and beverage and security industries, have large numbers of foreign workers.

Although the low-cost model of growth has served Malaysia well in the 1980s and 1990s, it has also made local firms reluctant to adopt technology or more efficient ways of doing things. Malaysia’s membership of the Trans Pacific Partnership makes higher productivity and efficiency ever more urgent.

Economists argue that without a rise in productivity, measured in the production of higher value-added goods and services, wages will continue to be low. The large number of foreign workers with their lower skill sets and low wages makes things worse.

This is not to say that there are no higher value-added goods or services being produced, or that the Government is not encouraging it. The New Economic Model, together with the National Key Economic Areas, have identified various sectors and subsectors in which Malaysia can have a competitive advantage.

Leadership, clear-cut policy on foreign workers and investment in education as well as technology are just some of the issues that come into play as the country strives to reduce its reliance on low-wage workers and move up the value chain.

Master Builders Association Malaysia president Matthew Tee and Makhdzir agree that the adoption of technology and mechanisation will reduce dependence on foreign workers.

Tee said the Government should provide more incentives for construction firms to adopt more efficient processes such as the industrialised building system (IBS) that could reduce dependence on low-skilled migrant workers. He pointed out that reducing the import duties on construction machinery could also help.

Meanwhile, Makhdzir said more funds should be allocated to oil-palm research and development (R&D) to make the industry more competitive. “If we desperately need to make that progress, we need to put in more talent, and more money to make it competitive in terms of R&D,” he added.

Makhdzir said the policy needed to be more flexible where R&D was concerned as talent must be sourced from outside the country if necessary.

But in the meantime, the freeze on foreign workers is causing a lot of problems as news headlines in recent months show. The problem is particularly acute in the construction and agriculture sectors.

Tee said there was a shortage of 1.3 million workers in the construction sector and predicted a shortage of up to 2 million by 2020. “This will cause delay in projects which could result in liquidated damages by clients translating to thousands of ringgit per day,” he adds.

Tee observed that the government-initiated rehiring programme that in part would also legalise illegal foreign workers had only attracted 3% of the 1.7 million total number of illegal workers in the country. He said the requirements to legalise the workers were inflexible and because of that, many did not fit the requirements – one reason why the overwhelming majority had decided not to get properly documented.

He said firms wishing to hire workers under the rehiring programme found it more expensive than hiring fresh foreign workers. On the other hand, Makhzir said there needed to be leadership in tackling the issue while Tee said there needed to be more engagement with industry as the reaction from the authorities had been slow.
By ZUNAIRA SAIEED

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 How can Malaysia stem the tide of talent migration?

Malaysia’s Migrant Economy! 

 Labour pain and power shortage 

The scramble for skills 

Technology upgrade needed to stay competitive 

Caught in middle-income trap

 

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China tops global fintech rankings


China’s financial technology (fintech) firms continue to lead globally, securing four positions in the top five in a recent industrial ranking.[Photo: mindai.com]

 

China’s financial technology (fintech) firms continue to lead globally, securing four positions in the top five in a recent industrial ranking.

Alibaba’s third-party payment platform Ant Financial tops the global ranking for the 100 best performing fintech companies, with micro-loan firm Qudian, wealth management company Lufax and insurance enterprise Zhong An entering the top five, according to a report by international accounting firm KPMG and investment firm H2 Ventures.

The firms are rated according to their capital raising volume and ratio, geographic and sector diversity, and consumer and marketplace traction.

“It is no surprise to see four Chinese companies in the top five. Fintech in China has seen rapid development, fuelled by the demand to address domestic needs,” said James McKeogh, Partner with KPMG China. “It is likely that we will see more of these players move to the international markets in the future.”

A total of eight Chinese fintech companies are on the list, a remarkable rise from just one company in the top 100 in the 2014 ranking.

“We have seen significant investment in China’s fintech sector in recent years, and an increasing appetite for innovative products, supported by the rapid pace of technology development,” according to Raymond Cheong, another KPMG China Partner.

China pledged in October to improve supervision in online finance, including peer-to-peer platforms, to contain risks, improve competitiveness and increase risk awareness.

Companies related to lending and insurance are gaining larger share in the full Fintech 100 list, while the creation of value in new sub-sectors such as regulatory technology as well as data and analytics make the fintech sector more diverse, according to the report.

Source:

 

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Jack Ma advisor to Malaysian Govt on digital economy to start with e-FTZ


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fb74uSG-7Ro

China-Malaysia Promising relationship: Najib delivering his speech in Beijing. ‘A digital economy with e-commerce is Malaysia’s next growth strategy,’ says the PM.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma agrees to be advisor to Malaysian Govt on digital economy

BEIJING: Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has agreed to act as an advisor to the Malaysian Government on its digital economy aspirations, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“We will be in partnership with Jack on the path and route to the future,” said Najib.

He said that Ma had also agreed to come to Malaysia to attend the launch of its E free trade zone in March.

Najib said this before he launched Alitrip Tourism Malaysia together with Ma Friday to lure Chinese tourists to Malaysia.

“You can see that China is the place to be. It has 300 million middle-class people, larger than US population.

“We hope, together with Alibaba, we can make Malaysia and China more prosperous,” he said.

In his Budget 2017 speech on Oct 21, Najib announced the setting up of a Digital Free Zone.

He also unveiled the Digital Maker Movement and the Malaysia Digital Hub to help nurture talents and create innovators to build a fully sustainable digital economy.

The digital economy is said to account for 16% of Malaysia’s GDP and is expected to rise.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star

Adviser Jack Ma to start with e-FTZ

Digital push: Najib with Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma (left) during launching ceremonyjof the Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion. Looking on is Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Addul Aziz – Bernama.

BEIJING: Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma will kick-start his role as adviser to the Malaysian Government on its digital economy at the launch of a e-free trade zone (e-FTZ) in March.

Ma, a global business icon, has ideas on the set up of the e-trade zone, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

“I had a (30-min) meeting with Mr Jack Ma. He has agreed to be adviser to our Government on the digital economy,” said the Prime Minister.

“Jack Ma did not ask for payment. I don’t think we can afford to pay him,” Najib said in jest later to a reporter’s question.

In his Budget 2017 ( see related posts below) speech last month, Najib announced that a digital economy that includes e-commerce would be Malaysia’s next growth strategy as this could bring about double-digit growth.

Alibaba is the largest and most well-known e-commerce giant in China and the world.

“We will be in partnership with Ma on the path and route to the future,” said Najib before launching the Alitrip Tourism Malaysia Pavilion in collaboration with Alibaba Group.

Najib said Malaysia would have to act fast to implement Alipayment, further develop online banking and online commerce as “we don’t want to miss the boat”.

On the pavilion, Najib said: “You can see that China is the place to be. It has 300 million middle-class people, larger than the US population.

“We hope, together with Alibaba, we can make Malaysia and China more prosperous,” he said.

Ma, before launching the pavilion jointly with Najib with the premier’s mobile phone, urged Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia and enjoy the culture there.

“We have a long history between these two countries. About 2,000 years ago, Chinese went to Malaya to make a living. Now, we should go there to enjoy life – not to survive,” said Ma.

He took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Prime Minister’s father for having the foresight to be the first leader in Asean to establish diplomatic ties with China when others shunned the republic for being a communist nation.

“Today, we are benefiting from this decision made 42 years ago. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Asean and China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.”

On Malaysians, he noted that on average each Malaysian has 230 friends on his social network.

“This means Malaysians are friendly, trusting and inclusive. This is an excellent culture.

“I love Malaysia… you have the culture, environment, food and hospitality and inclusiveness.”

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Alitrip expected to bring 8 million Chinese tourists

.Alitripexpected-to-bring8millionChinesetourists

PETALING JAYA: With 11 new routes, tourist arrivals into Malaysia from China are set for a major boost.

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