concealed facts from the cabinet.
in charge of several portfolios in BNM at the time, including the management of external reserves.
AT a recent forum in Hong Kong, Jim Rogers, a Wall Street tycoon, played a video of his daughter reciting a classical Chinese poem.
This is not the first time Happy Rogers has exhibited her proficiency in the language.
At an event in Singapore in 2013, the then nine-year-old showed off her nearly perfect Putonghua pronunciation and tone when she recited a not-so-well-known poem by Li Qiao, a Chinese poet during the Tang Dynasty. She won a big round of applause from the audience, most of them Chinese descendants. Happy’s sister Baby Bee, then five years old, did equally well, singing nursery rhymes in Chinese.
While it is not uncommon for young Chinese language learners to recite ancient poems, Happy spoke in classical Chinese with a fluency that could make even some native Chinese speakers envious, according to a report in Guangzhou Daily.
And recently, during US President Donald Trump’s visit to China, his granddaughter Arabella’s recital of Chinese poems went viral online, making her a “popular figure” among Chinese audiences.
There is a long list of foreign celebrities and their children learning Chinese, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ four children and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his daughter. Even Prince William, media reports say, studied Chinese in school.
The increasing popularity of the Chinese language has led to the introduction of various programmes and classes worldwide. It is estimated that more than 100 million people outside China, including overseas Chinese, are studying the language, as many believe it can be used as a tool to gain access to conveniences in not only China but also some other countries.
The growing enthusiasm of people in other countries to learn Chinese can be attributed to their love for Chinese culture.
It perhaps explains why traditional Chinese cultural elements, from kung fu films to ancient works such as The Analects of Confucius and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, have won so many global diehard fans. Many foreigners even believe that Chinese characters are an expression of aesthetic appreciation – maybe that’s why many famous personalities including former soccer star David Beckham have got Chinese characters tattooed on their body.
China’s economic and social development is another important factor for the growing interest in the language and culture. As the world’s most populous country and the second-largest economy, China for years has accounted for the largest number of students studying in other countries, which might also have made people overseas interested in the language.
As Jim Rogers said, whether you like or not, the 21st century will belong to China. He always tells people that if they have children, they shall encourage them to learn Chinese, “because Chinese will be the most important language”. For foreign companies intending to do business in China, they can have a huge advantage over their competitors if they can master the language.
And with the Belt and Road Initiative progressing smoothly, a number of Chinese enterprises will venture into countries along the ancient trade routes for business, which means a higher demand for Chinese speakers.
Source: China Daily/Asia News Network
Asia News Network and The Star recently published an article “Sway of the Chinese language”, detailing the rising popularity of learning Chinese as posted above.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, US President Donald Trump’s granddaughter and billionaire investor Jim Rogers’ daughter are among some of the famous people or their family members brushing up on their Chinese language skills.
Tourists from China are splashing their cash all over the world (in some countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, the Chinese can also go cashless by making their purchases through Alipay).
Meanwhile, economists predict that the GDP of China, currently the world’s second largest, would surpass the United States’ within 10 years. As the economic value of the Chinese language grows, it will unseat English to become the world’s leading language. Or so we are told….
But if history is a clue, this may not happen so soon.
In the heyday of the Roman Empire, as the great Julius Caesar and his successors conquered the Mediterranean, Latin became the dominant language of the European continent. The Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the fifth century. Latin, however, remained relevant for many centuries to come. (The Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantine Empire, survived into 15th century, but its capital was in Constantinople, and its official language was Greek.)
In year 1215, the unpopular King John of England, pressured by rebel barons, issued Magna Carta. The document established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. It is considered one of the first steps taken in England towards establishing parliamentary democracy. The Magna Carta was initially written in Latin.
In year 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published three papers which were collectively known as Principia Mathematica. These works form the foundation of classical mechanics. Principia Mathematica, like the Magna Carta, was written in Latin. That was more than 12 centuries after the demise of the Roman Empire.
In ancient times, Malay language was the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago. Then the Western powers came, created the modern states of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. Post-independence, Javanese, who make up 40% of Indonesia’s population, dominate the republic’s politics and economy. Somehow, Bahasa Indonesia is based on Malay rather than Javanese.
By 2050, China will become the world’s largest economy. The US will drop to second place. In the third spot, as economists believe, will be India. Like Malaysia, India was a British territory. And like our country, English, the language of the former colonial master, is still widely spoken.
By mid-century, the combined GDP of English-speaking and English-as-second-language nations, which include US, India, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, will likely be larger than that of China.
I do not doubt that Chinese language will get more important every year, and I encourage everyone to learn it if conditions allow. However, it would be foolish if we, in the advent of “China’s Century”, neglect English.
By CHEW KHENG SIONG Kuala Lumpur
Use technology to learn more about them before casting your vote
|Cheah taking a wefie with Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu
(behind Cheah) and (from left) Berapit assemblyman Lydia Ong, Speaker
Datuk Law Choo Kiang and state officials during a break at the Penang state
assembly in November.
KEBUN Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng of PKR is the man of the moment in the political scene in Penang.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng barred him from helping with the registration of flood victims for the RM700 aid in his constituency.
Lim, in his Facebook page, said in Chinese that he wouldn’t sit idly when elected representatives do not perform.
He stopped short of naming Cheah, except to say that he heard grouses from Hong Seng Estate residents about not seeing “their assemblyman” during the floods on Sept 15 as well as on Nov 4 and 5. We do not know if this is true.
In any case, Cheah got a letter from the State Secretariat relieving him of the registration duty. Lim and Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey took over the task.
Cheah, showing his usual gentleman’s demeanour, declined to comment. But this is not the first time he has come under attack from the state administration.
It was learned that he was reprimanded for being unhappy with the passing of the Penang State Park (Botanic) Corporation Enactment 2017.
Penang Botanic Gardens is in his constituency and he feared the Enactment would affect people’s rights after the park was corporatised. It is said he was informed only a few days before the Bill was tabled.
In 2015, Cheah, Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin, Ong Chin Wen (Bukit Tengah), Dr T. Jayabalan (Batu Uban) and Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubok) were dubbed the ‘PKR Five’ for abstaining in a vote against a Barisan Nasional motion on land reclamation in the state assembly.
Their relationship with Lim soured after that.
How do we define good elected representatives? Keep count of how many times they visit their constituencies?
And then there is the old question: Should we vote for the person or the party? There are many views on this, but as a journalist, I have an occupational advantage.
I have seen a few assemblymen turning up at gotong-royong, spend less than 30 minutes there for photo opportunities and leave. Yes, I know who you are and I am a voter too.
And then I had the chance to cover many state assembly meetings through the years.
This is where we expect constructive debates among the ‘Yang Berhormat’ on issues that affect us. But on a few occasions, there were no fruitful debates or exchange of ideas.
National issues, which cannot be resolved in the state assembly, dominate the proceedings at times. Why? What were our assemblymen hoping to achieve by prattling about things that the hall cannot act on?
They frequently call each other names and bicker in the august House.
In the last meeting, two assemblymen dragged out the name of a newspaper editor and attacked his character in the hall where the editor had no chance to defend himself due to the absolute privilege that lets assemblymen say anything they want there without fear of being sued.
But I was relieved because at least five other assemblymen stood up to defend the editor and talked those two assemblymen down.
Unlike them, I do not have absolute privilege so regretfully, I can mention no names.
With today’s technology, it is easy to get to know political candidates before giving them our votes.
Check out their Facebook pages or Google their names to learn about them.
If they are not up to mark, something might show in their social media exchanges.
Remember, the election season is just around the corner. Use your vote wisely.
By Tan Sin Chow
It’s hard to deny when the effects of
climate change are all around us Andrew Sheng says that from
increasingly intense hurricanes t.
Like most Penangites who are proud of their heritage, the writer is troubled that Hokkien isn’t spoken as much as it used to be.
IF there’s one clear feature that separates Penangites from the rest of the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, it is the distinct northern-accented Hokkien.
It doesn’t matter whether we are in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, London or Timbuktu but we can pick up a Penangite whenever we hear this northern style dialect with its rich sprinkling of Malay words that denotes its nyonya-baba linguistic roots.
But each time I return to Penang, I can feel the linguistic changes that are taking place. Whether we realise it or not, Penang Hokkien is slowly disappearing.
Mandarin is quickly taking over this unique Penang Hokkien dialect and for sure, English is also being affected in daily conversations.
Penangites are fiercely proud of their Hokkien as it is entirely different from the one spoken in Singapore, Taiwan or Xiamen in China.
As older Penangites, perhaps we can be a little snooty, as we sometimes dismiss the Hokkien spoken elsewhere as somewhat crass and unrefined.
Only the Hokkien spoken by the Chinese community in Medan closely mirrors that of Penang Hokkien, presumably because of the proximity between Penang and the Indonesian city.
Whether rightly or wrongly, or plainly out of ignorance, Penangites feel the sing-song delivery sounds better.
Words such as balai (police station), balu (just now), bangku (stool), batu (stone), cilaka/celaka (damn it), campur (to mix), jamban (toilet), gatai/gatal (itchy) gili/geli (creepy), sabun (soap) and kesian (pity), are an integral part of the Penang Hokkien dialect.
If the person is not from Penang, then he or she has to be from Kedah, Perlis or Taiping.
Even Penangites of other racial groups can easily speak, or at least understand Hokkien. My fellow moderation advocate, Anas Zubedy, speaks excellent Hokkien. So do my colleagues executive editor Dorairaj Nadason and sports editor R. Manogaran.
But the daily use of the dialect is rapidly being replaced by Mandarin. Go to most coffeeshops today and the hawkers or helpers are likely to tell you the price of food in Mandarin.
I am feeling a little uncomfortable because I am a very parochial and sentimental Penangite. It doesn’t help that I do not speak Mandarin.
Although I am a Cantonese, Hokkien is the spoken language in my family home and the changes that are taking place do have an effect.
Even most of the Penang state government leaders are not from Penang. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was born in Johor and grew up in Melaka.
Senior state exco member Chow Kon Yeow is from Kuala Lumpur but he studied in Universiti Sains Malaysia. Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy is Sitiawan-born but he spent most of his time in Selangor.
Exceptions are the children of the late Karpal Singh – state exco member Jagdeep Singh Deo and Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh Deo – and other state assemblymen.
The Penang Monthly bulletin, in its May issue, dramatically headlined the situation “Penang Hokkien on life support.”
In an interview with Penang Monthly, the Penang Hokkien Language Association secretary Ooi Kee How was quoted as saying that “people think there’s no benefit in learning or speaking Hokkien, which is not true. Yes, you can survive if you do not speak Hokkien; you can get by with speaking only one language your entire life.”
“But the thing is, something will diminish. Our creativity, our cultural identity, will decline. A lot of innovations will disappear, because different languages shape the way we think differently.”
And what has brought about the decline of the Penang Hokkien? It’s a combination of factors. For one, a whole generation of Penangites have been educated in Chinese schools, at least at the primary level.
This is unlike the older generation of Penangites like me, who are now in the 50s, who attended schools using English as a medium of instruction. In the absence of Mandarin, we spoke mainly Hokkien and English but people in their 30s and 40s find it more comfortable conversing in Mandarin – and for sure, not English.
Then there is this huge impact of Chinese TV shows, especially over Astro. They are entirely in Mandarin, with shows from mainland China and Taiwan, and in Hokkien, which is spoken in a manner more similar to those used in Melaka and Johor.
It is no surprise that the sales staff at malls also expect the Chinese community to speak in Mandarin, and understandably they will begin the conversation in Mandarin – because you are expected to know the language.
There is also the impact of China as the new economic powerhouse of Asia, if not, the world. Mandarin has taken over the dominant spot as a language with economic value, and certainly prestige. That is the reality but it may well be at the expense of a rich heritage.
Catherine Churchman, a lecturer in Asian Studies, in the School of Languages and Cultures in Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, who studied the Taiwanese and Penang Hokkien dialects, reportedly said: “Penangites have become increasingly used to hearing Taiwanese Hokkien, but the Taiwanese are not used to hearing Penang Hokkien.
“Simply replacing Malay loan words with the Taiwanese equivalents does not turn Penang Hokkien into Taiwanese Hokkien either. The grammatical structure of Penang Hokkien is different.”
Fearful of the danger of Penang Hokkien dying, Penang Monthly further quoted Churchman as saying “languages often die the same way, and one of the reasons is simply the existence of a generation gap.”
That melodious Penang Hokkien may not be heard, decades from now, if this frightening trend continues.
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.
On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
Important report: RCI Secretary Datuk Dr Yusof
Ismail speaking to media after submitting a police report over Bank
Negara forex trade losses in Putrajaya.
THE Royal Commission of Inquiry into the foreign exchange losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) back in 1990s has recommended that three people be probed over their involvement and liability.
They are former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his then finance minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and ex-Bank Negara advisor Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, whom the report also named as “principally liable for criminal breach of trust”.
The 524-page report also called out Tun Daim Zainuddin, who served as finance minister from July 14, 1984 to March 15, 1991, for having aided and abetted Nor Mohamed by leaving BNM “to its own devices”.
The commission found that the Cabinet in the 1990s was not given the full picture by Anwar on the forex losses, adding that he had “deliberately concealed facts and information and made misleading statements”.
“The Commission is of the opinion that there was deliberate concealment as BNM’s annual reports did not state the actual losses incurred from the forex dealings from 1992 to 1994.
“It is also of the opinion that the then prime minister (Dr Mahathir) had condoned the actions of the finance minister,” it said.
The RM31.5bil losses, it said, were hidden using “unconventional accounting treatments”, such as booking losses to reserves in the balance sheet and the absorption of the remaining losses by the transfer of shares from the Government to BNM as well as the creation of a “Deferred Expenditure” to be repaid in instalments over a decade.
“All the actions to conceal the losses were discussed and approved by the board of directors before the accounts were signed off by the Auditor-General.
“No further action was taken by the Finance Minister and Treasury secretary-general (as a board member) despite being informed by the Auditor-General on the losses and the unusual accounting treatments,” said the report.
Anwar, noted the Commission, had been informed about the actual forex losses suffered by BNM.
Dr Mahathir, it said, was informed by Anwar together with then Treasury deputy secretary-general Tan Sri Clifford Francis Herbert in late 1993 that BNM had suffered estimated losses of RM30bil on the forex dealings for 1992 and 1993.
However, in the extract of minutes from three Cabinet meetings on March 30, April 6 and 13 in 1994, Anwar had made “no mention of the actual losses of RM12.3bil for 1992 and RM15.3bil for 1993.”
Anwar had chaired the March 30 meeting as the deputy prime minister. The losses for 1993 were reported as RM5.7bil.
“The prime minister, who chaired the meeting on April 6, did not correct or offer more information when the forex losses for 1993 were recorded as only RM5.7bil,” it pointed out.
“The Commission is of the view that it is the finance minister’s responsibility to inform the Cabinet the significant financial affairs about BNM as the Cabinet has collective responsibility with the finance minister and the prime minister for the country’s affairs.”
Dr Mahathir, it said, claimed to have no knowledge of the real amount of losses, which was untenable with his meticulous nature, as well as that under the law, BNM was the banker and financial agent to the Government with the remainder of its net profit to be paid into the Federal Consolidated Fund.
The report said as pointed out by Herbert, he had expected Dr Mahathir to be outraged but his reaction was quite normal with him uttering “sometimes we make profit, sometimes we make losses”.
“His reaction to and acceptance of the huge forex losses suggest that he could have been aware of the forex dealings and its magnitude,” said the report.
The RCI also found Dr Mahathir’s claim that he could only remember the amount of RM5bil forex losses when informed about it in a meeting with Anwar and Herbert in late 1993 to be “questionable”.
It said this was because based on testimonies of other witnesses and documentary evidence, the RM5.7bil only surfaced when Bank Negara’s 1993 annual report was presented to the Cabinet on March 30, 1994.
“Despite his denials, the Commission is of the opinion that a thorough investigation should be carried out to determine the extent of his involvement and liability,” said the report.
By Martin Carvalho, Hemananthani Sivanandam, Loshana K. Shagar, and Rahmah Ghazali The Star
|Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun says police will
open investigation paper following a report that was lodged by Royal
Commission of Inquiry (RCI) secretary Datuk Dr Yusof Ismail. (Image is
for illustration purpose only).
KUALA LUMPUR: Police have set up a taskforce to investigate possible criminal breach of trust and cheating which may have been committed during Bank Negara Malaysia’s foreign exchange losses in 1990s
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said police would open investigation paper as the forex Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) had lodged a police report this afternoon.
“A taskforce has been formed and it will lead the investigation. We are investigating the case under Section 409 of the Penal Code for criminal breach of trust,” he told the New Straits Times when contacted.
RCI’s secretary Datuk Dr Yusof Ismail, who is the Finance Ministry Strategic Investment Division director, had lodged a report at Putrajaya police headquarters at 4.10pm asking police to start an official investigation.
In the police report, it was stated that those who were involved in the alleged wrongdoings were Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officers, BNM Board of Members, National Audit Department, Finance Ministry and the prime minister who served during the period.
|Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) secretary Datuk Dr Yusof Ismail seen
leaving the Putrajaya police headquarters after lodging a report. Pic by
AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR
The RCI, in its 528-page report that was tabled in Parliament today, said it believed that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was Finance Minister at the time, had misled the government and concealed the actual losses suffered by BNM.
RCI also said it believed that the prime minister at the time, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had approved Anwar’s “misleading statements”.
The commission also revealed that the losses were far larger than that what was initially reported by the central bank, RM31.5 billion as against RM5.7 billion, in the period of three years.
Yusof spent almost 40 minutes at the police headquarters and later spoke to reporters who were waiting outside.
He said in the report, the commission had requested the police to start a official investigation on the possible criminal breach of trust, forgery and other wrongdoings which may have been committed during the forex activities.
“Our report is basically requesting the police to start investigation and for the Attorney-General Chambers to take action based on the findings by the police,” he said.
Putrajaya OCPD Asst Comm Rosly Hassan who confirmed that the report was made, said a special unit in Bukit Aman would investigate the case.
By TEOH PEI YING and HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN New Straits Times
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) reports an increase in quarterly investment income to RM12.95 billion for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 (Q3 2017), despite recorded net impairment of RM791.55mil in the third quarter, more than double the impairment made a year earlier. The EPF posted a 74% surge in investment income to RM11.8bil in the first quarter and a 36.6% growth to RM11.51bil in the second quarter.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) today reported an increase in quarterly investment income to RM12.95 billion for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 (Q3 2017), up 5.13 per cent, from RM12.32 billion recorded during the same period last year.
“The EPF’s overall portfolio performance has benefited from the rally in overseas equities markets in the third quarter of 2017,” Investment Performance, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Investment) Datuk Mohamad Nasir Ab Latif said today.
He said the pension fund did not see similar returns from the domestic equities market as the FBM KLCI performance was flat compared with other markets, which recorded between two and five per cent growth.
The EPF recorded a net impairment of RM791.55 million, in the quarter under review, in accordance with the Malaysian Financial Reporting Standards (MFRS 139), and this was higher compared with RM349.59 million recorded in the same quarter last year, he said in a statement today.
This is due to the higher provision recorded for domestic equities in the telecommunications and oil and gas sectors.
In the third quarter of 2017, equities, which made up 41.86 per cent of EPF’s total investment assets, contributed RM7.91 billion of income or 61.09 per cent of the total investment income.
The income recorded was 12.75 per cent higher than RM7.02 billion recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2016, he said.
As at September 2017, a total of 50.45 per cent of EPF’s investment assets were in fixed income instruments which recorded an income of RM4.49 billion, equivalent to 34.63 per cent of the total quarterly investment income, said Mohamad Nasir.
Out of the RM4.49 billion, Malaysian Government Securities & Equivalent recorded RM2.17 billion in the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 10.96 per cent or RM213.98 million, from RM1.95 billion recorded in the same quarter in 2016, in line with the growth of the portfolio.
Loans and bonds, however, generated lower investment income of RM2.32 billion compared with RM2.56 billion in the same quarter last year, he said.
Investments in Money Market Instruments and Real Estate and Infrastructure each represented 3.53 per cent and 4.16 per cent of total investment assets, and contributed an investment income of RM274.27 million and RM263.83 million, respectively, in the third quarter of 2017.
“Our current investment in money market instruments is above the targeted three per cent under the Strategic Asset Allocation due to the ongoing regulatory restrictions in new overseas investments.
Over the long-run, the EPF must continue to expand our foreign assets portfolio as it is key to our diversification and allows us to meet our return targets,” said Mohamad Nasir.
As at Sept 30, 2017, the EPF’s overseas investments, which accounted for 30 per cent of its total investment asset, contributed 48 per cent to the total investment income during the quarter.
Diversification into different asset classes in various countries and currencies had helped the EPF to record higher income for the quarter, despite a significant difference in market performance, globally.
Out of the total RM12.95 billion investment income for the third quarter of 2017, a total of RM860.83 million was allocated for Simpanan Shariah, which derived its income solely from its portion in Shariah assets, while RM12.09 billion income was allocated for Simpanan Konvensional, which is generated by its share of both Shariah and non-Shariah assets, he said.
The value of EPF investment assets reached RM771.20 billion, a 5.48 per cent or RM40.09 billion increase from RM731.11 billion, as at Dec 31, 2016.
Out of the total investment assets, RM370.10 billion or 48 per cent, were in Shariah-compliant investments and the balance in non-Shariah assets.
“We still have one more quarter before the year-end and we are confident that our diversification into various asset classes will enable us to meet our real dividend target of at least two per cent above inflation over a three-year rolling period, for both Simpanan Shariah and Simpanan Konvensional,” he added.
They are the most amazing economic ants on Earth, ‘Sugar King’ writes in memoirGood Chinese business management is second to none; the very best of Chinese management is without compare. I haven’t seen others come near to it in my 70year career. Robert Kuok
The overseas Chinese were the unsung heroes of the region, having helped to build South East Asia to what it is today, said Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok (pic).
He said that it was the Chinese immigrants who tackled difficult task such as planting and tapping rubber, opening up tin mines, and ran small retail shops which eventually created a new economy around them.
“It was the Chinese who helped build up Southeast Asia. The Indians also played a big role, but the Chinese were the dominant force in helping to build the economy.
“They came very hungry and eager as immigrants, often barefooted and wearing only singlets and trousers. They would do any work available, as an honest income meant they could have food and shelter.
“I will concede that if they are totally penniless, they will do almost anything to get their first seed capital. But once they have some capital, they try very hard to rise above their past and advance their reputations as totally moral, ethical businessmen,” Kuok said based on excerpts of his memoir reported in the South China Morning Post .
“Robert Kuok, A Memoir’ is set to be released in Malaysia on Dec 1.
Kuok said the Chinese immigrants were willing to work harder than anyone else and were willing to “eat bitterness”, hence, were the most amazing economic ants on earth.
In the extracted memoir published by the South China Morning Post, Kuok, pointed out that if there were any businesses to be done on earth, one can be sure that a Chinese will be there.
“They will know whom to see, what to order, how best to save, how to make money. They don’t need expensive equipment or the trappings of office; they just deliver.
“I can tell you that Chinese businessmen compare notes every waking moment of their lives. There are no true weekends or holidays for them. That’s how they work. Every moment, they are listening, and they have skilfully developed in their own minds – each and every one of them – mental sieves to filter out rubbish and let through valuable information.
“Good Chinese business management is second to none; the very best of Chinese management is without compare. I haven’t seen others come near to it in my 70-year career,” he said.
“They flourish without the national, political and financial sponsorship or backing of their host countries. In Southeast Asia, the Chinese are often maltreated and looked down upon. Whether you go to Malaysia, Sumatra or Java, the locals call you Cina – pronounced Chee-na – in a derogatory way,” he said.
He added that the Chinese had no “fairy godmothers” financial backers.
“Yet, despite facing these odds, the overseas Chinese, through hard work, endeavour and business shrewdness, are able to produce profits of a type that no other ethnic group operating in the same environment could produce,” he said.
Kuok ultimately attributed the Chinese survivability in Southeast Asia to its cultural strength.
“They knew what was right and what was wrong. Even the most uneducated Chinese, through family education, upbringing and social environment, understands the ingredients and consequences of behaviour such as refinement, humility, understatement, coarseness, bragging and arrogance,” he said.
In the debut instalment of six extracts from the first-ever memoir of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, reproduced exclusively here, he recalls how ..
The story is the same everywhere – the rising cost of living has not been accompanied by an increase in wages.
HERE we go again – another set of impressive growth figures. Bank Negara has announced Malaysia’s latest economic growth at a commendable 6.2% in the third quarter of 2017.
The pace of economic growth for the three months up to September was faster than the 5.8% registered in the second quarter of the year.
This growth rate was the fastest since June 2014.
On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, the Malaysian economy posted a growth of 1.8% against 1.3% in the preceding quarter, according to the Statistics Department.
Malaysia’s robust economic growth has been attributed to private-sector spending and a continued strong performance in exports.
To quote Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim last Friday: “Expansion was seen across all economic sectors.”
But try explaining this impressive economic growth rate to the average salaried worker struggling to pay his monthly household bills.
Stretching the ringgit is especially great for those living in urban areas, and Malaysia is increasingly becoming urbanised.
The story is the same everywhere – the rising cost of living has not been accompanied by an increase in wages.
Compounding matters is the depreciation of the ringgit, reducing the purchasing power of the ordinary folk. They can’t buy the same amount of food as they used to previously.
Employers are being forced to cut operating costs to match declining profits.
Job security is becoming paramount. Many are fearful of losing their jobs, as companies cut cost to cope with the challenging business landscape.
And the reality is that many companies are not hiring, as evident from the unemployment rate of 3.4%.
The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has cautioned that more people would be out of a job this year due to the current economic challenges.
Apart from the challenging landscape, technology has disrupted several brick-and-mortar businesses, forcing them to change their way of doing business.
According to MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, economic challenges will compel bosses to review their workers’ requirements.
While official statistics show that the economy is charting a strong growth path, the trickle-down effect is not being felt.
Why is the sentiment on the ground different from what the politicians and officials are telling us? Why is there a disconnect in the economy?
Are the figures released by the government officials more accurate and authoritative compared with the loud grumblings on the ground that are anecdotical in nature devoid of proper findings?
We hear reports of supermarkets and hypermarkets closing down, but could that be because their business model no longer works as more Malaysians turn to online shopping, with e-commerce companies announcing huge jumps in traffic?
It is the same with the malls – retail outlets are reporting lower sales and this is compounded by the fact that there is an oversupply of malls.
International restaurant chains such as Hong Kong’s dim sum outlet Tim Ho Wan and South Korean bakery Tous Les Jours and South Korean barbeque restaurant Bulgogi Brothers have ceased operations.
But then again, it could be that their offerings and prices had failed to compete effectively against the local choices.
According to the central bank, demand is anchored in private-sector spending.
“On the supply side, the services and manufacturing sectors remain the key drivers of growth,” Muhammad said.
Looking ahead, the governor said that the economy this year is poised to register strong growth and likely to hit the upper end of the official target of 5.2%-5.7%.
The trickle-down effect is not being felt simply because there is uneven growth in the various sectors of the economy.
The property sector, which provides the biggest multiplier effect, continues to be in the doldrums.
The weak ringgit has had a big impact on the price of food, especially processed food and beverages that make up 74.3% of Malaysian household spending.
It was reported that Malaysia had imported a whopping RM38bil worth of food between January and October last year.
In recent weeks, the ringgit has strengthened to about RM4.16 against the US dollar. But it is still far from RM3.80 to the dollar and the outlook of the currency remains uncertain.
We can’t even hold our heads up against the Thai baht and Indonesian rupiah – two currencies that have appreciated against the ringgit.
The headline economic numbers are showing good growth, but Malaysians’ purchasing power has dropped and our living standards have eroded. That is the bottom line. We are living in denial if we do not admit this.