New kid on the block: Singapore’s ‘shoebox king’ Oxley spices up Kuala Lumpur a record RM3,300 per sq ft


IN just 10 months, Singapore-listed Oxley Holdings Ltd has quietly amassed a gross development value (GDV) of close to RM10bil in Malaysia.

That’s RM1bil for every month since it first bought land in Kuala Lumpur last May – a tough act to follow even for the most seasoned developer.

And it isn’t stopping there.

Known as the “shoebox king” in Singapore, Oxley has hired former Selangor State Development Corp (PKNS) general manager Datuk Othman Omar as CEO of its Malaysian operations, indicating its seriousness in making Malaysia a core market.

Oxley now has on its plate 15 projects outside of Singapore – one in the UK, four in Cambodia, two in China and eight in Malaysia.

Only a month into the job, Othman already has his hands full with enquiries from landowners for joint-ventures, as well as expressions of interest for properties that Oxley Malaysia is yet to launch.

“Oxley has the brand name and database of buyers. However, we have to careful with whom we work with,” he tells StarBizWeek.

“You’ll be surprised at how many land pockets there are in Kuala Lumpur. We must be selective with not just the location, but also the business model.”

Othman, who studied civil engineering in Tasmania, had helmed PKNS for five years until his contract expired on Jan 31, injecting a much-needed private sector efficiency into the state-owned unit.

Under his watch it even achieved a record profit in 2011 of RM420mil.

He had had a stellar run in PKNS at least until the end of his term, when it became clear that he and Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim could no longer see eye-to-eye.

Before his contract expired, Othman was removed as general manager and transferred to the state secretariat to facilitate an investigation over the controversial sacking of Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali as a PKNS board member.

But all that is water under the bridge now for Othman. He looks eager to have work for his hands again, after taking a short break in February to perform the umrah.

While he hesitates to delve into project details due to the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations, property sources say Oxley Malaysia’s landbank includes parcels on Jalan Ampang worth RM2.5bil-RM3bil, Jalan Hang Tuah (RM3bil), Section 16, Petaling Jaya (RM900mil), Beverly Heights in Ampang (RM900mil), Seputeh (RM120mil), Medini in Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia (RM1bil) and Fettes Road, Penang (RM1.5bil).

More JVs with landowners are understood to be in the pipeline.

Quick turnaround

According to Othman, Oxley favours integrated developments and a “quick turnaround”.

“The margins may not be as high (if turnaround is fast), but the banks love us because of our cashflow. That kind of velocity also reduces our finance and holding cost, and we don’t need to wait for years to realise the profits.

“We are aiming for affordability – build it fast and sell it cheap.”

Oxley made headlines here in November when it acquired a prized stretch of land along Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur from the Loke Wan Yat estate for some RM450mil, or a record RM3,300 per sq ft.


The project – which will comprise a mall, two luxury hotels, serviced residences, offices and a theme park – is a stone’s throw from KLCC and opposite from Corus Hotel.


Big name investors such as Lembaga Tabung Haji, BlackRock, five-star hotel chains Jumeirah and Waldorf Astoria, and theme park operator Sanderson are speculated to have shown an interest in the development, industry executives say.

On Jalan Hang Tuah, Oxley Malaysia is planning residences and a three- or four-star hotel with 350 rooms and retail space.

The land, acquired by a local company in a government tender, is across the road from the Hang Tuah monorail and LRT stations.

Oxley’s plot in Section 16 near the Phileo Damansara commercial complex could feature residences starting from RM650 per sq ft and some retail space to serve a proposed three- or four-star business hotel.

Othman says he may delay sales for Robson Heights, an 80-unit premium dwelling in Seputeh in the vicinity of Mid Valley Megamall, given the current soft market conditions.

Depending on the market, Oxley Malaysia could roll out the Jalan Ampang, Jalan Hang Tuah and Section 16 properties this year, he adds.

“We’re already seeing strong interest in the Hang Tuah project from en bloc buyers. Some have offered to take up 50%. But we need to make sure they aren’t speculators,” Othman quips.

This is a lot to handle for the new kid on the block. Can Othman take the heat?

“Our competition is not the other developers,” he replies coolly. “It’s what we don’t know yet.”

Former PKNS chief Othman now CEO of Oxley”

PETALING JAYA: Barely a month after leaving the Selangor State Development Corp (PKNS), Datuk Othman Omar (pic) has been tapped by Singapore-listed developer Oxley Holdings Ltd to head its Malaysian operations as CEO, overseeing eight projects worth almost RM10bil in gross development value (GDV).

According to a stock exchange filing last Friday, Othman, 54, was appointed CEO of Oxley’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Oxley Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd, on March 1.

Othman, a civil engineer by training, had previously served as general manager of PKNS for five years until his contract expired on Jan 31.

Oxley, which has a market capitalisation of S$2bil (RM5.22bil), was listed on Singapore’s Catalist Market in Oct 2010 before transferring to the Mainboard in February last year.

Oxley Tower KL

Oxley Tower KL Sky scraperThe firm, better known for its shoebox apartments in Singapore, made headlines here in November when it bought a highly-coveted piece of land along Jalan Ampang from the Loke Wan Yat estate for some RM450mil, or a record RM3,300 per sq ft.

Images for KLCC Wisma Central, Restaurant Chef Choi …

The prime freehold land, down the road from KLCC and sandwiched between Wisma Central and a Chinese temple, is currently occupied by Restaurant Chef Choi, Nasi Kandar Pelita and four bungalows.

Property sources told StarBiz that Oxley’s estimated RM9bil-RM10bil portfolio in Malaysia included the Jalan Ampang project with a GDV of RM2.5bil, developments in Jalan Hang Tuah and Medini Iskandar worth RM3bil and RM1bil, respectively, and others in Selangor and Penang.

Under Othman’s watch, PKNS implemented a full open tender system in 2010, which resulted in savings of RM100mil a year.

He had also inked integrity pacts with PKNS’ vendors and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, even as he sought to inject private-sector efficiency into the otherwise staid government-linked corporation (GLC).

But towards the end of his term, Othman fell out with Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim over the running of PKNS.

Before his contract expired, Othman was also removed as general manager and transferred to the state secretariat to facilitate an investigation over the controversial sacking of Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali as a PKNS board member.

Still, sources close to Othman claim he had not been short on job offers from other GLCs and listed firms in Singapore and Malaysia.

For the six months to Dec 31, 2013, Oxley saw its net profit surge 15 times to S$275.9mil (RM720.1mil) from S$18mil (RM46.98mil) in the same period a year ago, while revenue jumped 709% to S$888.2mil (RM2.32bil) from S$109.8mil (RM286.84mil) on progress billings for various developments in Singapore.

Contributed by John Loh The Star/Asia News Network

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OXLEY TOWERS

An artist’s impression of the Oxley Tower in Kuala Lumpur. The average launch price for its serviced apartments are expected to be around RM3,000 per sq ft.

More images for KLCC Wisma Central, Restaurant Chef Choi, four bungalows

Singapore downplays its world’s most expensive city


Singapore_Marina Bay
People stand along the Marina Bay promenade in Singapore on March 4, 2014. The soaring cost of cars and utilities as well as a strong currency have made Singapore the world’s most expensive city, toppling Tokyo from the top spot, a survey showed March 4. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE - Singapore on Wednesday played down a global survey showing that it is now the world’s most expensive city, a finding which has triggered outrage among Singaporeans struggling with rising costs.
 
Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said reports like the 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) are aimed at measuring expatriates’ expenses.

“It is not that these surveys are wrong, or that they are misguided. But they are measuring something quite different from the cost of living for an ordinary local in different cities around the world,” Tharman said in a parliamentary speech.

In the survey released Tuesday, Singapore toppled Tokyo as the world’s costliest city, a result the EIU attributed to the high cost of cars and utilities as well as a strong local currency. Paris was in second place.

The survey examines prices of 160 products and services including food, toiletries, clothes and domestic help in 140 cities, and is aimed at helping companies calculate allowances for executives overseas.

Tharman noted that the basket of goods and services evaluated by the EIU included imported cheese, filet mignon, “Burberry-type raincoats,” the four best seats in a theater and three-course dinners for four in high-end restaurants.

“The EIU tries to put together a basket of what they think are expatriate costs, perhaps more on the higher end of expatriates,” Tharman said. ”

It is quite different from the goods and services consumed by ordinary Singaporeans.”

He also reiterated a point noted by the EIU — that Singapore’s rising living costs for expatriates are driven by the strengthening of its currency.

“What is important for us is that Singaporeans, and particularly low- and middle-income Singaporeans, have incomes that grow faster than the cost of living,” Tharman said.

Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU report, acknowledged the points raised by Tharman but told AFP the basket of goods includes many everyday items as well.

“The survey basket ranges from a loaf of bread to a luxury car. In fact, the highest-weighted category in our survey is that of groceries and everyday staples which include goods like fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, rice, etc.,” Copestake said.

“Expatriates make up a very significant proportion of Singapore’s population, and this means that the results of our survey will be more keenly felt by a higher proportion of the people who live and work there.”

The survey’s release provoked strong online reactions from Singaporeans, who saw it as confirmation of their complaints about soaring living costs.

Others however saw it as a sign that Singapore has attained high living standards.

Singapore’s per capita income of more than $51,000 in 2012 masks a widening income gap between the richest and poorest citizens.

S’pore ranked world’s most expensive city by EIU .

SINGAPORE: Singapore has jumped to the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) ranking of the world’s most expensive cities, overtaking the likes of Tokyo and Osaka as the Singapore dollar appreciated against the yen.

Singapore was ranked sixth in the EIU’s survey last year, behind the two Japanese cities, Sydney, Oslo and Melbourne.

According to the EIU, Osaka and Tokyo fell off the top of its cost of living ranking because of the weaker yen.

Tokyo, the most expensive city to live in for 2013, fell to joint sixth place alongside Caracas, Geneva and Melbourne, while Paris is second, ahead of Oslo, Zurich and Sydney.

Ten years ago, Singapore was number 18 on the list.

The EIU report compares the price of products and services such as food, clothing, transport and domestic help among 140 cities with New York city as a base.

According to the survey, Singapore’s curbs on car ownership, which include a quota system and high taxes, make it the most expensive city to run a car.

A new Toyota Corolla Altis, for example, could cost as much as US$110,000 in Singapore but only US$35,000 in Malaysia.

And overall transport costs in Singapore are almost three times higher than those in New York.

But the survey does not include public transport, which is most commonly used by Singaporeans.

In addition, the lack of natural resources and energy supplies means Singapore is the third most expensive city for utility costs.

The survey also shows that Singapore is the priciest place in the world to buy clothes, as shopping malls along the prime Orchard Road shopping belt import luxury European brands.

As for housing, Singapore, being smaller in size than New York City, has seen home prices jump to record highs in recent years amid rising wealth and an influx of foreigners.

But the survey does not include public housing.

And it must be noted that the EIU survey is aimed at helping companies and HR managers calculate allowances for executives or expatriates being sent overseas.

This means that their spending patterns may differ from locals. Hence, while cars and utilities are expensive, public transport and hawker food in Singapore are cheaper than in most developed cities.

And latest data also show that in January, consumer prices in Singapore rose at their slowest pace in four years, rising by 1.4 per cent from a year ago.

Doctors have bad days too


AS a doctor I have always been asked questions by enthusiastic parents about the job.

Among the questions are: “How is it being a doctor?”, “What do you think if my children become doctors?” and “How much do you earn per month as a doctor?”

Despite an overflow into this profession, many parents are still willing to invest in their children pursuing medicine. Recently, there was an incident in my clinic that still remains in my mind.

There was a patient complaining of the bad attitude of another medical practitioner. He was unhappy and alleged that the doctor did not explain to him politely and treat him appropriately.

I was not present at that time to comment on it, but tried to resolve the misunderstanding amicably by saying doctors too had bad days.

To my surprise, the patient replied: “To me, doctors should always have good days.”

The doctor–patient relationship is unique. It’s like a weighing scale that needs commitment from both parties to maintain its balance.

Undoubtedly, a patient sees a doctor when he or she is unwell and all patients deserve tender loving­ care from their doctors.

But how many patients have done anything to show their appreciation for what their doctors had done for them?

This is a routine day for a doctor. In government/private hospital settings, a doctor has to do ward rounds every morning at 7am, usual­ly examining 30 to 50 patients, depending on “good or bad days”.

After the rounds, the doctor continues seeing follow-up patients at the Out Patient Department (OPD) and that would easily be around 50 patients and more before late afternoon.

After the OPD service, the doctor has to do ward rounds again to review the patients.

On average, a doctor will see around 80 patients per day (working from 7am–5pm). This is one patient every 7.5 minutes.

That is why it is very common to hear patients saying that they waited two hours in the long queue, only to be treated by the doctor in a few minutes.

There is always a tendency for doctors to divide the time unequally with every patient, on a case-by-case basis. In complicated or life-threatening cases, more time is spent with the patient.

In a general practitioner’s clinic, the conditions are no better. The general practitioner is virtually trapped in the small consultation room for a whole day, seeing patients with various ailments.

Like every human being, doctors also face obstacles in life, besides the challenges from career, family, friends, etc.

Long working hours, patient load, stressful working environment and poor quality of life are issues faced by doctors.

We cannot be smiling happily all the time. Sometimes, doctors may look cold and stern. Yet, we try our best to treat the illness of each patient in every possible way.

We uphold the Hippocratic Oath that we took before joining this sacred profession. The essence of the oath is “Above all, do no harm”.

Yes, you may be right that doctors earn well. To most of the doctors, the money that we earn is merely numbers in a bank account. We might not even have a chance to spend it all.

A word of thanks, a small card from patients will truly enrich our days.

By DR H.B. CHEE Muar

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Do You need jabs, antibiotics?


Antibiotics

OUR population is getting more and more educated and knowledgeable. With the convenience of internet and smart phone, information can be assessed anytime and anywhere.

Facebook and Google have become the source of reference for most people. Many can now be “experts” in many specialised fields, including engineering, law and even medicine.

Nowadays, the medical practitioners enounter some patients who are so-called internet savvy, and refuse antibiotics and vaccines.

This issue arose due to the spread of such information in the internet, claiming antibiotics could lead to “superbug” and are associated with many adverse effects, while vaccines could cause autism or death.

Well, the risks of administration of both drugs are certainly debatable.What we know for a fact is that since Alexander Flemming discovered penicillin and the pox vaccine, many lives were saved.Nevertheless, I am not in the position to comment on the good and bad of both antibiotics and vaccines. But, it is more important for the general public to understand more about the need for antibiotics and vaccines.

Antibiotics or more specifically antibacterial, is a medicine indicated to kill (bactericidal) or inhibit the growth (bacteriostatic) of the bacteria.

There are various types of antibiotics with different mode of actions and indications. Strictly speaking, the mechanism of action for antibiotics is rather complicated.

However, it works mainly to counter attack the rapid reproduction of bacterial colonies, so that our immune system has enough time to defeat the illness.

Thus, the usage of antibiotics is strictly limited to the bacterial infection. In common clinical conditions, like acute exudative tonsillitis, abscess formation and urinary tract infection, antibiotics are strongly prescribed.

It must be understood that antibiotics have no role in curing diseases caused by fungus, virus or other parasites.

Therefore, it should not be overprescribed in cases like common cough and cold, flu and fungal infection of skin.

As for vaccines, they are biological preparations that help to boost immunity. Its primary focus is on disease prevention. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it.

Vaccines work by introducing the weakened form of “disease germ” into the body. The body will respond by producing antibodies to fight these invaders. At this stage, technically, the immune system is being sensitised. If the actual disease germ attacks the body, more antibodies will be produced to destroy the real enemy.

Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Many patients question the need for further vaccination as diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis are very rare these days.

Furthermore, there are people that do not get vaccination, yet able to live healthily until old age. This is the myth behind “herd immunity”.

Herd immunity serves as a preventive barrier as most of the population had been vaccinated, thus, the disease is contained from spreading. If herd immunity is compromised, the widespread of the disease may occur.

A piece of advice to all, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Before you start to tell doctors about the negative effects of antibiotics and vaccines, why not, give them a chance to explain to you before you make a decision.

Contributed by DR H.B. CHEE, Muar, Johor The Star/Asia News Network

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Malaysia’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world


Malaysia's health care

Country is third best and practioners ‘equal to or better than most Western countries

PETALING JAYA: The country’s achievement at being rated third best in the world for healthcare services is something to be proud of, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.He also gave credit to the boom in the country’s medical tourism sector through strategic investments on good medical facilities and competitive rates compared to other parts of the world.

“Medical tourism has benefited the Government in terms of foreign direct investments and also spin-off effects in the hotel and shopping sectors,” he said yesterday.

The Star Online reported yesterday that a study by the American publication International Living rated Malaysia’s healthcare system as the third best out of 24 countries in its 2014 Global Retirement Index, beating Spain, Italy, Ireland and New Zealand, among other countries.

The index, which was recently released by the Baltimore-based magazine, praised Malaysia’s healthcare, which scored 95 out of a possible 100 points, as the medical expertise of Malaysian healthcare practitioners is “equal to or better than what it is in most Western countries”, according to InternationalLiving.com’s Asia correspondent Keith Hockton.

The top two countries, France and Uruguay, scored 97 and 96 points, respectively.

On the methodology of the index’s ratings, the magazine said both the cost and quality of healthcare were evaluated.

Another report in International Medical Travel Journal News reported that medical tourism receipts in Malaysia from foreign patients totalled RM509.77mil in 2011 involving 578,403 patients.

Dr Subramaniam added that Malaysia remained competitive with players like Singapore and Thailand and the focus was to consolidate the country’s position.

He said the key towards improving the overall healthcare sector would be to focus on the preventive and primary healthcare divisions.

Malaysia Medical Association (MMA) president Datuk Dr N.K.S Tharmaseelan also acknowledged the findings, saying that the country has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

“The Health Ministry has become a massive seamless service provider in healthcare that has produced magnificent results over the years. Our statistics prove it,” he said, adding that this was despite general practitioners being the lowest paid in the world with their fees being regulated.

He added that impressive figures such as life expectancy for women reaching 80 years and about 72 years for men were reflective of the excellent healthcare provided by the ministry and the private sector.

By G. Surach The Star/Asia News Network

How and what the 12 zodiac signs will fare in Horse Year holds?


Jane HorRenowned geomancer Jane Hor gives the low-down on how the 12 zodiac signs will fare in the Year of the Horse.

Rat (1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008)

This year the Rat clashes with the Grand Duke. People born under this zodiac sign are likely to meet with changes in romance, career or their living environment. Changes can be good or bad, depending on the individual’s birth date and time, and other factors.

The Rat has to be vigilant as there are many inauspicious stars that will fly into their destiny palace.

They may encounter many obstacles in their career. Even slight negligence may result in wasted effort.

Avoid lavish spending to curb cash-flow problems.

You are on an emotional roller-coaster. Release your negative emotions wisely and beware of unscrupulous people around you.

You are prone to accidents and injuries this year. Be extra careful in outdoor activities, especially those involving heights.

Ox (1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)

This will be a prosperous year with plenty of opportunities. You may take on a high position, thanks to two powerful and auspicious stars.

Do not get carried away with success, though, or you may evoke jealousy from your colleagues, and end up with more foes than friends.

You should not have problems with wealth this year, and enjoy a steady income. Your investments will reap profits, too.

Invest wisely, work hard and avoid gambling.

Where relationships are concerned, be more understanding and tolerant towards your partner. Health-wise, watch your diet: avoid cold and raw food.

In 2015 (Year of the Goat), the Ox will clash with the Grand Duke directly. Your luck-flow will be in a turbulent state. Make preparations to face bad times next year.

Tiger (1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)

Your luck-flow is not significantly good as you have no auspicious stars. Stay vigilant and calm and you should be safe.

Career-wise, you have to deal with villains around you as there are lots of inauspicious stars surrounding you. Be on high alert as it is already difficult for you to dodge gossip and back-stabbing from unscrupulous people who will try to cause you “severe damage”.

Guard your job because there could be people who want to grab your rice bowl, or steal your credit.

Your financial luck is weak this year. Avoid gambling and making investments.

Love is elusive, so be patient.

Health-wise, be extra careful while on the road. Watch out for sprains and other physical injuries.

Rabbit (1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)

The Rabbit will enjoy many pleasant opportunities as they have many auspicious stars.

This is a good time to develop your career and realise your ambitions. The road to success is not without obstacles but you will eventually overcome them.

Beware of your tongue because you can get into trouble and cause dispute and bickering among your friends and colleagues.

This is also a good year for diversified investments but do so within your means.

This year, with the Ox, you will have plenty of opportunities for romance. You may have a short-term but memorable affair.

Beware of scandals and illicit relationships.

The married Rabbit who is planning to have a baby this year will have a high chance of conceiving.
Health-wise, do not indulge in wine. Also, pay attention to the health of elders in the family.

Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)

You have opportunities to stand out in your career, but you have to be wary of how you handle social interactions. Avoid creating conflict with your colleagues and do not offend your superior. Your luck in wealth will fluctuate because of an inauspicious financial star, which may cause you to overspend and burst your budget.

Avoid gambling and high-risk investments or you may suffer serious financial losses.

Your love life remains stagnant and there is no significant breakthrough. The opportunity for a relationship is very slim.

Health-wise, beware of dangers on the road. This year, you are more prone to car- and water-related accidents. Avoid participating in water-related sports (swimming or scuba-diving) as you may encounter accidents and get injured easily. For those with children, pay attention to them to prevent accidents and injuries.

Snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)

Your luck-flow turns positive this year as there are auspicious stars. Career-wise, you will be busier than before. Rewards and promotion will come your way, especially for white-collar workers.

However, you have to be cautious because there are a few inauspicious stars surrounding you that hinder your career development.

Your motto this year should be, “Action speaks louder than words”. Remember to put in extra effort to secure your promotion and increment.

Guard your wealth closely as it could come, and go, very quickly, especially your personal possessions. This year, you may lose your wallet.

Romance has its ups and downs, so manage your emotions.

Take good care of your health as you may easily fall sick. Get more exercise and rest to prevent serious illness.

Horse (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002)

The Grand Duke is sitting in the middle, so, if there is no celebration, there shall be calamities. Therefore, those born in the Year of the Horse may get into trouble easily this year.

If there is some celebration in the family, you might be able to avert calamities, but still you have to be on high alert.

Think before you leap as you are said to be offending the “yearly Grand Duke”. You may feel lost and moody and may make the wrong decisions. Avoid making decisions when you are in an unstable state of emotion, to avoid unwanted calamities.

There are many inauspicious stars hindering you from leading a better life.

Have more communication with your superior, clients or peers, as it could bring you surprising results.

Love-wise, you tend to feel depressed at times, and often find yourself eaten up by jealousy and fury.

Your health needs attention and you should beware of accidents. Donate blood or get a dental scaling in lunar May and November.

Be careful of food hygiene or you may experience food poisoning.

Overall, you are advised not to be too pessimistic and to exercise more caution when making decisions.

Try to travel as you may think more clearly after a short break.

Goat (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003)

The Grand Duke shall be your good friend this year and you will have excellent interpersonal relationships.

The Goat will enjoy good luck and bright prospects in their career, especially in jobs that require constant contact with people.

An auspicious star flies into your destiny palace; you may easily get help from your male peers. You have chances of a promotion or an increment.

Keep a low profile and be humble.

There are a few inauspicious stars surrounding you, which means that there are unscrupulous people (especially females) who will try to sabotage you and hinder your career development.

Your wealth is stable – you can expect a tidy sum from your mainstream income and also returns from your investments.

Spend and shop wisely because there is an inauspicious star that will cause you to spend lavishly, thus draining your wealth.

You will enjoy favourable relationships with people around you. Be careful of becoming overly friendly with the opposite sex. A third party may cause conflicts.

Health-wise, you may suffer from minor illnesses but that should not be too much of a concern.

Monkey (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004)

You will face numerous obstacles in your career. Very often, things do not progress smoothly because of the deliberate misconduct of some people around you. Do not be disheartened but be optimistic and pro-active. Never give up halfway or you will end up nowhere.

Career-wise, this is a year for conservative defence rather than aggressive attack.

Watch how you spend your money and avoid taking loans.

Health-wise, besides paying close attention to your physical and psychological well-being, take good care of the elders in your family. Go for regular check-ups as a preventative measure.

Rooster (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005)

The Rooster will enjoy a great performance in career. Although there are “risks and traps”, you will receive help from good people around you. When in doubt, seek advice and help from your seniors, especially women.

Pay close attention to your investment and wealth management to avoid major financial crises.

In terms of your love life, you may have many chances to meet many friends and some of them are your noblemen. For those romantic partners who are still in love, this is a good year to get married. Singles have good opportunities to meet the right partner.

Health looks good this year and shouldn’t be much cause for concern.

Dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006)

The Dog can easily receive help from people around them this year. This year, Dog people may have an excellent performance in career. If the nature of your work requires keen thinking (interior designer, composer or scripwriter), this year, you are full of creativity and have a high chance of climbing the career ladder. However, keep yourself in check. Do not become arrogant or you may lose the support of your friends.

Your wealth looks good this year. Both your mainstream income and other sources of income will yield returns.

Although you have lots of chances to meet people of the opposite sex through your career, romance won’t bloom and you will feel very lonely. Try to share your feelings with your partners or family members. Or join more group activities or learn something new to fill the emptiness.

Be aware of food hygiene as you may have food poisoning this year.

Pay attention to your own safety; you may encounter accidents or suffer injuries.

Pig (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007)

Last year, the Pig people had a clash with the Grand Duke. In the first half of this year, you are still affected by the clash. You have to be persistent, calm and patient in facing all your problems.

After autumn, your condition will improve, especially if you are in marketing or a job that requires you to liaise constantly with people. Career-wise, seek help when the need arises. Do not persist alone or you may end up a complete failure.

This year, you have a “minor depletion” star that will see you indulge in spending on luxury goods. You have to control your urge to spend, to avoid overspending. Besides your usual savings, guard your assets well to prevent theft or robbery.

Your health is poor this year, so be wary of contracting illnesses. Ensure you get enough rest to avoid falling sick. – Majorie Chiew The Star

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Emotional intelligence for business success


Emotional-Intelligence

 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to relate and empathize with emotions in others.  While traditional attitudes in business have preferred to closet most emotions except a prescribed few business-related qualities like drive, ambition, and single-mindedness, 21st century attitudes assert that emotional intelligence in business isn’t just important, it may be essential for success.

21st Century Work Ethics
Collaboration is one of the major tenets of business in the 21st century.  Saying it’s important, however, doesn’t help businesses achieve it in practice.  One reason collaboration is so important is because business is becoming increasingly global.  Offices spread across nations are learning to work together as a result of new partnerships and relationships with new companies.  The gel that helps support collaboration in this century isn’t single-mindedness or even an aggressive business drive.  Instead, it’s things like emotional intelligence that increasingly allow people to work together—and work together well.

Management and Emotional Intelligence
When management is not emotionally intelligent, business owners see high turnover rates.  Workers, whether new to the business or veterans, simply work better when they are with emotionally intelligent people. A lack of understanding leads to conflict and, in some cases, weekly or even daily conflict.  A manager that can’t relate to others isn’t likely to have the emotional tools required to build and manage teams.  People without emotional intelligence may be quite intelligent otherwise and almost certainly are when they land supervisory positions; however, becoming a boss does not mean they have the right skills to be a leader in this 21st century business climate.

Why Do Managers Need to be Emotionally Intelligent?
One of the main reasons to have a team of emotionally intelligent managers is because then business is likely to be better.  According to Computer Weekly, “The world’s most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence quotient or ‘EQ’ for short.” The article goes on to explain, “Psychologist David McClelland did some thorough leadership research that found that executives with higher EQ outperformed their annual revenue targets by 15-20%, and that 87% of the executives rated highly on EQ came in the top 33% of performance-related bonuses.”

Some Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Managers
When considering promoting someone to management, look for applicants who boast rewarding relationships with other people, cope well with pressure, and lead by example.  The Harvard Business Review asserts that emotional intelligence is “firm, but not rigid,” implying that some people may get better at it if it becomes a priority.  On the other hand, when you make it a point to hire and promote employees with emotional intelligence, you’re more likely to achieve both the work climate and success you want for your 21st century business.

What do you think? On the flip side, what are some traits you’ve encountered of emotionally
idioticunintelligent managers?

Contributed by
Shafat Qazi, Founder and CEO of BQE Software, is an engineer-turned-entrepreneur who created the most awarded time billing software ever, BillQuick, while still in college. He set out to make time tracking, billing and project management easier for engineers as well as all service professionals, and continues to perfect BQE Software products hands-on today.

 Why Entrepreneurs Should Care About Emotional Intelligence

 

emotional intelligence small business

 

When asked what the most important qualities for entrepreneurs are, you may come up with a list that’s completely different from that of the next person.

Successful entrepreneurs have a whole list of traits that serve them well in their endeavors. Commonly cited qualities might include determination, passion, confidence, and optimism – all distinctive traits of entrepreneurs and instrumental in achieving small business success.

But there’s one quality that you might not have thought to add to your list: emotional intelligence.

It’s the single quality that plays a defining role in the success of most entrepreneurs.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EQ, is defined as the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of both oneself and others.

With this knowledge, individuals are able to navigate social networks, make informed decisions, and react to behavior accordingly. This quality is divided into two major categories –  personal and social competence, – each which have their own core skills.

Personal competence is comprised of self-awareness and self-management skills, which centers more on the individual’s ability to perceive his or her own emotions.

On the other hand, social competence, which is made up of social awareness and relationship management skills, determines the entrepreneur’s ability to understand and react to the moods and behaviors of others. Both are equally important for entrepreneurs and can play a major role in whether the individual succeeds or not.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Emotional intelligence provides entrepreneurs with a set of social and personal skills that can help them in any situation or environment.

The following are just a few of the skills that are enhanced by emotional intelligence:

Decision Making:
One of the major components of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which enables individuals with the ability to accurately perceive their emotions as it happens. They are able to keep stray emotions in check, preventing them from affecting any decisions or choices. As a result, emotionally intelligent individuals are able to look at the big picture without swayed by the details.

Customer Satisfaction:
Small businesses are nothing without happy, satisfied customers. Luckily, EQ provides entrepreneurs with the ability to deliver customer satisfaction. Emotional intelligence allows the individual to be more empathetic.

They have the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others. They are able to help customers with their buying decisions and keep them engaged, providing a more comprehensive, satisfying experience.

Leadership:
Entrepreneurs are often responsible for leading the direction of their endeavor and clearly communicating goals to their teams. Therefore, they must be able to form a good rapport with their employees, inspiring and motivating wherever possible. Emotional intelligence provides entrepreneurs with the enhanced ability to manage interactions and form meaningful relationships. In addition, individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence tend to be more self-confident and adaptable – vital traits for any entrepreneur.

Conflict Resolution:
Whether there is a dispute with a customer or a disagreement between team members, entrepreneurs are bound to run into conflicts. However, emotional intelligence provides the individual with conflict resolution skills. Entrepreneurs with this quality are able to gauge the emotions of both parties and provide a resolution that will connect with both. With this ability, they are able to quickly placate the threat to efficiency and productivity.

 Conntributed by Sara Fletcher
Today’s Guest Poston Start Your Own Small Bizwas provided by Sara Fletcher. Sara  is interested in emotional intelligence in leadership and understanding how it affects her life. She loves to explore psychology, business, and sports in relation to her test of emotional intelligence.

TPPA negotiations hot up in early 2014


Due to the United States political calendar and congressional politics, the TPPA negotiations will heat up the first few months of the new year. 

TPPA-Malaysia

ONE of the major developments in the new year will be the negotiations and in fact the fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which has stirred a lot of interest and controversy not only in Malaysia but also in the United States, whose government is its prime mover.

The first half of 2014 will be decisive because the US will hold mid-term congressional elections in November, and that nation’s attention will focus on that after mid-year.

Since free trade agreements are so controversial and in fact unpopular among the public in that country, the TPPA and other FTAs will be hard for the US president and his administration to champion near the election period.

This may explain why the US is in such a hurry to finish the TPPA negotiations as soon as possible. It had placed a deadline of end of 2013, but that has passed without success.
Indeed, the ministerial meeting in Singapore in the first half of December revealed many outstanding differences.

So, the negotiations will become even more intense in the next few months, with a possible ministerial meeting in February.

Malaysia is one of the significant countries that have raised several concerns about the proposals by the US.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself, at a meeting in Bali last October, highlighted government procurement, state owned enterprises, investor-state dispute system and intellectual property as some of the issues that may infringe on sovereignty, implying that there should be careful consideration and caution during negotiations.

The US Trade Representative Michael Froman visited Malaysia a number of times to meet with some ministers and parliamentarians. He reportedly assured them of the United States’ understanding of Malaysia’s concerns, which he implied would be taken into account.

Malaysians are thus waiting to see how much flexibility will be given to accommodate the concerns of the public and the Government.

For instance, Malaysia formally proposed a comprehensive “carve-out” (exclusion from disciplines in the TPPA chapters) for tobacco control measures, a move that was advocated by health groups and the Health Ministry, and which has won warm congratulations from the public and media around the world, including in a New York Times editorial.

According to media reports, Malaysia has also opposed proposals for tight intellectual property rules that for instance extend the present terms for patents for medicines and asked for high thresholds for government procurement, and exemption for its bumiputra policies, while also challenging the proposed disciplines on state owned enterprises and the investor-state dispute system.

On goods market access, Malaysia will also find difficulties with the proposed ban on export duties. Recently the association of palm oil refining companies warned that their operations would be threatened if the TPPA forces the country to abolish its long-standing export tax on crude palm oil.

A ban would also cause the Government to lose around RM2bil annually in revenue, which would be a serious blow to efforts to reduce the budget deficit.

The question is whether Malaysia’s demands will be met. Even if compromise or flexibility is offered, it is crucial to examine how genuine or adequate they are. Often, the only “flexibility” is a longer period granted to implement the specific rule in question. That is not really much use.

Even if an exemption is given, it may be limited or useless. For example, in an early version of the investment chapter, available on the Internet, there is a clause that nothing in the chapter prevents the countries from undertaking health and environmental policies. But it also says provided those policies are consistent with the chapter, thereby negating the apparent space provided for exclusion.

Thus the devil is really in the details, as the saying goes. And the details have to be carefully scrutinised, because it is an old negotiating tactic to show a spirit of understanding and compromise politically but remain steadfast and uncompromising in the legal texts, and it is the latter that counts.

Another key point is that the US negotiators and government have little room to provide compromises, even if they want to. That is because it is the congress that has the real power over trade matters, including the TPPA.

Last week, some members of Congress introduced a Bill to provide the US President with fast-track authority, which means that a trade agreement like the TPPA can only be adopted or rejected by congress, but cannot be amended by it.

Without this fast-track authority, there is no confidence among other countries that what the US negotiators agree to or sign will be agreed to by congress, which can reject certain parts of the TPPA and demand changes.

As a condition for giving the fast-track authority, advocates are asking the US government to take a strong stand on issues.

This puts pressure on the US negotiators not to compromise, even if they wanted to.

For example, the Bill says that on state owned enterprises the US should seek commitments that eliminate unfair competition favouring SOEs doing commercial activity and ensure that their practices are based solely on commercial considerations.

Government policies and the SOE practices would have to abide by eliminating discrimination and market-distorting subsidies.

The US is already proposing that SOEs cannot discriminate when they buy and sell goods and services, and that they cannot receive any advantages such as cheaper loans or land and business from the government.

This would, for instance, imply SOEs being prohibited from giving preferences for bumiputra companies in their procurement.

If the definition of SOEs also include private companies in which government agencies have a share, the net will be cast very wide.

It is however still unlikely that the proposed Bill will pass, as many Democrats are opposed to fast track and some Republicans just don’t want to give President Obama anything he wants.

But here’s the problem. If fast track is given with the conditions attached, the US negotiators will have to abide by them and can’t show required flexibilities. If there is no fast track, the proposed texts agreed to by the US can more easily be rejected by congress.

Either way, there is only so much the negotiators can give in response to demands made by Malaysia or other countries, and even then the compromises can be rejected by congress.

Which goes to show how difficult FTAs are to negotiate or conclude when the US is involved, for commerce and politics are all mixed up in the pot.

Global Trends by Martin Khor

Related posts:
1. Winds of change blowing in Asia
2. Looming danger on contrast and competition of economic models
3. An eventful week on the TPPA
4. TPP affecting health policies?
5. ASEAN plans world’s largest trading bloc in Asia, RCEP …

Internet addiction taking toll on health !


Internet addiction has become a new threat to healthy living for Malaysians, depriving them of sleep and exercise, a survey by a global insurance group has found.
Internet addiction
A whopping 73% of Malaysian adults who took part in the 2013 AIA Healthy Living Index survey admitted that their online activities and social networking were getting addictive, putting the country a­­mongst those with the highest addiction rates in the Asia-Pacific region.

The poll by AIA Group covered over 10,000 adults in 15 Asia Pacific markets.

Of some 900 Malaysian respondents, 81% stated that spending time online prevented them from getting enough exercise or sleep while 80% claimed that their posture was affected.

The survey noted that this addictive trend would continue to be fuelled by children growing up with the Internet as an integral part of their lives.

On healthy living, 67% of adults in Malaysia felt that their health was not as good as it was five years ago.
Overall, Malaysia scored 61 out of 100 points in the survey.

Malaysia also fared poorly in the area of healthy habits, with 32% of adults admitting that they did not exercise regularly.

On average, Malaysians spent only 2.5 hours on exercise a week, below the regional average of three hours and below the ideal recommended by most experts.

Sufficient sleep was rated the most important driver of healthy living in Malaysia and the region.

While adults in Malaysia desired eight hours of sleep, they only had 6.4 hours on average, leading to a sleep gap of 1.6 hours, the third highest in the region.

Spending time online was listed as one of the causes of this sleep deprivation.

The survey mentioned that these not very positive health habits were aggravated by a preference for sedentary ways to relieve stress, such as watching TV or movies, playing computer or mobile games and spending time online.

Spending time with family and children or friends was also a popular way to de-stress for Malaysians.

Meanwhile, healthy food habits were still limited to the basics of drinking more water as well as eating more fruits and vegetables, although 56% of Malaysian adults were also trying to eat less sweets and snacks.

There was also much concern about obesity – 64% of Malaysian adults said they wanted to lose weight, above the regional average of 53%. Further, 93% agreed that obesity among younger people was a worrying trend.

Cancer, heart disease and being overweight were the top health concerns in Malaysia, with the former two being above regional averages.

Despite these concerns, only 50% of Malaysian adults had medical check-ups in the past 12 months.

The study found that 89% of adults in Malaysia felt that employers should help employees live a healthy lifestyle, mainly by providing free health checks, not subjecting em­­ployees to undue stress and ensuring workloads were not excessive.

AIA Bhd chief executive officer Bill Lisle said the company was committed to helping Malaysians live longer and healthier lives.

“Through this extensive survey, we are keen to identify and enhance awareness of the key trends that impact the health of adults so we can actively work with the community and our customers to promote more positive attitudes.”

Internet_HealthContributed  by Lim Ai Lee The Star/Asia News Network

Related posts:
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2.You addicted to Facebook ?
3.Cyber crooks target gamers; E-gambling dens menace, raid in Penang, etc
4.Technology can work both ways, problems and solutions

Five steps to business success for 2014


Biz Plan_2014Preparations: A well-crafted business plan is like a roadmap for the year.

How to develop a business plan for the new year

Here we are at the end of another year. For many business owners, it’s the right time to map out a strategic plan for next year. A well-crafted business plan is your roadmap to success and an easy way to stay on task for future growth, projected income and increased profits. Take one or two days now to develop a plan and you will save time, energy and maybe even a few dollars. Here’s how to develop a business plan for 2014 in five easy steps.

Set projected income

The very first thing you need to do when creating a business plan for the year ahead is to decide how much you plan on earning and what specifically you are looking to achieve. Setting these goals is only the first step, because outlining your plan for future months describes how you will get there and is the true blueprint for success.

Reflect on your current business models and income sources to help you determine your ideal income. If you’re having difficulty, evaluate these factors:

  • ·Do you need to identify a different profile that can spend more?
  • ·Would including a recurring element to your business increase profit?
  • ·Should your pricing be re-evaluated?
  • ·How is your marketing plan? How can you expand it to achieve more?

Set incremental goals 

The key to success in creating a business plan is detail and consistency. And every goal needs to be broken down into smaller tasks and objectives to ensure you are reaching your target audience and you have a plan for how to obtain your new income level.

Even the best plan is useless without milestones and success at reaching large goals comes from knowing how to create smaller, more attainable objectives. Simplify your income goals by this equation: Income per client x number of clients x frequency of clients = income. Clearly defined and manageable objectives- six months, monthly and weekly- will give you the momentum you need to reach difficult milestones while keeping a larger goal in view. Besides, this process gives you a bird’s eye view of exactly what income level needs to be reached within a certain time frame to stay on track for success.

Map out marketing

After determining what your income stream should be, it’s time to create a formula for acquiring the clients. The most effective way to reach a target audience and the only way to secure new customers is through marketing. After all, if no one knows you exist, no one will buy your products or services.

Take a long hard look at your current marketing activities and decide which strategies are effective and can be reused, even expanded, and which should be discarded. The right marketing can bring a steady stream of new clients, as well as build brand loyalty and solidify trust with existing customers.

Here are the most effective and commonly used platforms for acquiring new clients. Make sure to allocate sufficient time and budget for each:

  • ·Strategic Print Advertisement (Appear in front of your ideal prospects)
  • ·Online Marketing Strategies (Content to educate and entice)
  • ·Media Recognition (Position yourself as the expert authority)
  • ·Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+)
  • ·Networking and collaborations

Develop your team

Now that you have clearly defined, obtainable goals and a strategic marketing plan, it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to make it happen. It’s nearly impossible to achieve all of your goals by yourself and the best plans are always complemented by a strong team. Decide who you need and how they will help you achieve your milestones within your deadline.

Virtual teams are always an option, and can execute elements of your business plan simultaneously. On the other hand, you can also evaluate a current team or bring in someone new to free up time for you to execute growth campaigns.

Evaluate expenses 

Unfortunately, like everything in life — business costs money. However, by carefully evaluating all of your marketing activity and tracking return on investment stringently, you’ll have a better idea of where the money is going and how best it should be spent. Many business owners make the mistake of looking exclusively at gross profits, neglecting net profits. Make certain to record everything and be very clear about profits before taking on any new activities. This disciplined approach will help ensure that your ideal income is indeed profits.

Crafting an effective business plan is easy with a few good tips and the right information. By defining incremental goals, developing a marketing strategy, building your team and keeping an eye on expenses, you will be more than ready to charge into 2014 with spirited enthusiasm as you watch your business transform.

Contributed by Pam Siow

> Pam Siow is the founder of ThinkSpace. A renowned business coach within the region, Pam helps hundreds of business owners and corporations gain true success and profits with her knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more at ThinkSpace.com.my/ Internetbizownersclub.comnow.

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4.Simple steps to sales success
5.How to hire winners 
6.Outshine competition
7.From small to big
8.Grow your business faster
9.How to create ‘luck’ in your business

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