Do you earn enough to sustain your lifestyle?


DO you know how much you need to sustain your lifestyle every month? Are you living within your budget or stretching to make ends meet?

We can now gain insights with the unveiling of Belanjawanku, an Expenditure Guide for Malaysian Individuals and Families, launched by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in early March.

The guide offers an idea of the living costs for respective household categories. It encompasses the expenditure on basic needs and involvement in society for a reasonable standard of living in the Klang Valley.

According to Belanjawanku, a married couple with two children spend about RM6,620 per month on food, transport, housing, childcare, utilities, healthcare, personal care, annual expenses, savings, social participation and discretionary expenses.

When I read this guide together with the income statistics published by the Statistics Department, it reveals that a vast majority of Malaysians can’t afford to live in the Klang Valley.

Based on the statistics, the median household income for Malaysian households in 2016 is RM5,228, far below the RM6,620 required for a family with two children to stay in the Klang Valley.

If we take a closer look, the median income of M40 group (Middle 40%) is RM6,275, which means five out of 10 households in this category received RM6,275 per month or less. This indicates that over 60% (40% from B40 households and half of the M40 households) of Malaysian households (if they have two children) can’t afford to stay in the Klang Valley.

What went wrong in the process? Why are many households having challenges to meet the required budget?

According to Belanjawanku, a married couple with two children spent the majority of their income on food (RM1,550), followed by childcare (RM1,150) and transport (RM1,040), then only on housing (RM870) and other items.

Based on the research, even if housing was provided for free, a household of four would still need RM5,750 to sustain their lifestyle. Therefore, the common perception that only housing is expensive is not right. It is not that housing is expensive, but that everything is expensive because of inflation over the years! The value of our currency has fallen due to global money printing measures over the past decade.

Belanjawanku compiles only core living expenses without luxury items or excessive spending. It also doesn’t include long-term financial planning tools such as funds for education or investments. If the majority of Malaysian households have challenges in meeting the existing expenses listed in the guide, it poses a serious concern on their future financial prospects.

The underlying factor of this challenge is the low household income earned by Malaysians. The previous government failed to move us to a high income nation as they had promised, and more families are stretching to make ends meet now. It may lead to serious financial problems in the future.

If median household incomes don’t increase, the B40 (Bottom 40%) and half of the M40 will always struggle even if housing is free, assuming that they aspire to have two children and to live in the Klang Valley.

According to Transparency International Malaysia, corruption had cost our country about 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) value each year since 2013. Added together, this amounts to a high figure of some RM212.3bil since 2013. For 2017 alone, that figure was a whopping RM46.9bil!

Imagine what we can do with these monies if there was no leakage in the system? The previous government should have channeled the money to stimulate economic growth and increase the income of the rakyat.

Going forward, I am optimistic that the new government, with its promise of a clean and transparent government, can finally fix the leakage and focus on generating a higher income level for all Malaysian households.

Financial independence is a key factor in the overall well being of the rakyat. We need to increase household incomes to a level where families can meet their basic needs and embark on long-term financial planning, to elevate their quality of life.

Then, and only then, will housing and other living expenses finally become affordable.

By

Food for thought By Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He is the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, email bkp@bukitkiara.com



 

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For many young Malaysians, the road to owning a home is riddled with speed bumps. — Pexels 

 

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Struggling and frustrated: Most aid goes to the B40, leaving the M40 feeling adrift and on their own
 
 
 

Housing affordability is an income issue, what’s with the fuss?

 

Moving forward with affordable housing

 

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The ‘Tiger Woods’ act is not for Malaysia


 It’s a long road towards being a tiger economy again

A month before the one-year anniversary of Pakatan Harapan’s ruling the government, Malaysia has earned the accolades of being a “boring” and under-performing stock market. The ringgit, which is the thermometer to gauge the economy, has weakened after the initial euphoria of appreciating as high as RM4 against the US dollar.

An economist had said that Malaysia without the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is too dependent on oil revenue. Budget 2019 was based on crude oil at US$70 and considering that the year-to-date average is lower, the country would not be able to keep to spending limits.

Ironically, the story of Malaysia’s being a “boring and under-performing” stock came as golfer Tiger Woods made a remarkable comeback to win his first major tournament since 2008. That was the time when the golfer’s on-course performance started to go downhill due to injuries and “off-course” affairs that led to a broken-marriage.

Sponsors stayed away from Tiger Woods and he lived with a tag as a great golfing talent that never made it. Now he is seen as a role model in the story of triumph against adversity. Woods US Masters win is now repeated as a story of why one must never give up and the fruits of labour will finally pay off.

Sadly, it only applies in the world of sports. In the sporting world, there are clear rules and everybody play within the rules or they are disqualified. Sports world is based on meritocracy. If you good and talented, you would be found – some way or other – even if you live in Borneo.

Sarawak has produced amongst Malaysia’s best sprinter and diver in Watson Nyambek and Pandelela Rinong who proved their worth based on merit.

Running a government to please people with different demands is not so easy. Meritocracy is only a slogan. It reality, it is hard to implement.

For instance, the government’s bail-out of Felda and Tabung Haji are seen as further straining the country’s balance sheet.

The fear that the of Budget 2019 objective of keeping fiscal deficit at 3.4% cannot be achieved considering that the government has to fork out RM6bil to rescue Felda.

However, what investors fail to realise is that the government cannot afford not to bail out the likes of Felda and Tabung Haji. It cannot operate completely on meritocracy and go by the book strictly because there are political considerations to weigh on.

Felda needs to be rescued because of the massive mismanagement of funds. It involves the lives of 120,000 settlers and many more, if their families are taken into account. The Felda settlers are important voter bank and determine 52 parliament seats.

Most of them are Malays who form the bulk of the voting population of the country as a whole.

Whether we like or not, issues that Felda and Tabung Haji face has to be resolved if there is to be any political stability.

The only consolation is that those who are responsible for the mismanagement of Felda, Tabung Haji, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) would eventually pay a price.

In communist China, these people would have faced the firing squad.

In Malaysia, it takes time to penalise those responsible under the law. Pakatan Harapan’s messaging to investors is that it provides accountability, transparency and discipline in running the government. It revealed the total debts and a bigger budget deficit for 2019 and left it to investors to decide if they are prepared to put money in the country.

That it does not tolerate corruption is a message that is being drummed countless times.

Is there is a premium in being transparent, accountable and standing firm against corruption? Yes there is. But as a fund manager says, it does not tell investors where to put their money.

It does not tell investors if there is going to be a continuity to the government’s policies and who the next Prime Minister is going to be after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The fund manager says that Malaysia needs to tell another story, apart from governance and transparency.

Towards this end, a good line of messaging would be on addressing the political transition after Dr Mahathir.

The fund manager is right in his argument because long term capital needs political stability and leadership certainty.

Dr Mahathir, who is named as among the most powerful persons by Time Magazine, probably knows best why he is delaying in setting a firm time table to hand over power to the only person who has been named so far, which is Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Probably because the minute Dr Mahathir announces the time-table to handover, he would be a lame duck Prime Minister, a role the 93-year veteran politician would not relish.

Apart from politics, the other matter bogging investors is the slowing Malaysian economy.

The concern is that the economic growth of 4.5% would not be met and that Bank Negara would be forced to bring down the interest rates.

When interest rates are down because of a slowing economy, it dampens sentiments on the ringgit and puts yields of bonds under pressure.

The prospects of a lower yield and weakening currency are just the catalysts needed for bond investors to take some money off the table.

The unfavourable rating by little known Russel Fund Index earlier this week did not help matters. The end result is that the government bonds are under pressure and so is the ringgit.

The government should keep up with doing the things it can best do, which are enhancing transparency, governance and being more careful in handling public funds. Investors will view with scepticism until they see hard numbers on the economy and consistency in growth.

The Malaysian stock market was among the world’s best in 1993 on the back of a roaring economy that started its growth path some four years earlier.

The economy over-heated, the government got carried away with spending and we paid a heavy price by the ringgit and stock market crashing. It all came down with a thud in 1997.

The Pakatan Harapan government wants to see Malaysia be a “tiger economy” once again.

But it would not be easy. The road ahead is treacherous with lots of obstacles – balancing the demands of the political and social agenda.

We cannot do it the Tiger Woods way because there is no meritocracy when it comes to governing a country. But we will get there eventually as long as we stay the course.

It’s time for Penang to reinvent itself; RM70bil to be raised from the 3 man-made islands to finance LRT, PIL infrastruture under PTMP


Looking ahead: An aerial view of Penang’s Free Industrial Zone. Penang
is banking on land reclamation to the south of the island to help fund
the state’s economic development.

ALMOST three decades ago, my then news editor Nizam Mohamad tried to convince me to work in Kuala Lumpur instead of remaining content in Penang, but like most Penangites, I enjoyed the slower pace of life on the island.

The food was good, the beach was marvellous, and I could be with my sweetheart, now my wife. I had my friends, who were my schoolmates, and my family members.

Finally, when the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit was held in KL in 1990, Nizam asked me to “help out with the coverage”.

When I reported for duty, he handed me my transfer letter on the spot. It was as simple as that, and I remember he told me that “you would go nowhere if you remain in Penang”.

For decades, skills migration and brain drain, and the lack of high-quality job opportunities, has been Penang’s Achilles heel.

Shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo wouldn’t have become a world icon had he remained in George Town. The same fate could have befallen sports personalities Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Nicol David had they, too, not moved to KL.

Munich-based Datuk Ooi Chean See would have no renowned orchestra to conduct if she were still in Penang, and Hong Kong-based fund manager, Datuk Seri Cheah Cheng Hye, wouldn’t be a billionaire had he stayed put in the state.

Nizam was right, and I am thankful for his foresight. Like many of my fellow islanders, our careers have moved up and onwards since moving to the nation’s capital, given its greater opportunities.

Penangites, many of whom now work outside the state, generally also lack properties in the state because we no longer live there. The rental yield simply doesn’t make business sense for investment.

The truth is, Penang is stagnating and hasn’t been able to reinvent itself. The state remains dependent on the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector. Putting it more accurately, with a GDP of RM80bil, half of Penang’s economy is reliant on this sector with the other half on tourism and the services industry.

Despite having achieved a high growth rate of 11% per annum between 1970 and 2008, growing from RM790mil in 1970 to RM49bil in 2008, GDP growth rate has slowed down to 5% for the past 10 years.

The past decade also saw GDP per capita easing off to 4% per annum, and with inflation at 3% per annum, the standard of living for Penangites has been on the decline, relative to the past four decades.

Growing up on the island, where I spent much time at the Batu Ferringhi beaches, we all know why it’s now hard for Penang to compete against the likes of Bali, Phuket and Koh Lipe as its beaches and water have simply lost their lustre.

Penang can no longer call itself the “The Pearl Of The Orient” or even “Penang Leads”, a tagline locals revelled in during the era of then Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.

The state is losing ground in tourism, especially with it having not invested sufficiently in this sector, a situation compounded by how cities around the world are reinventing themselves.

In the E&E sector, we are trapped between China and Vietnam, two fast-moving low-cost locations, while Singapore and Taiwan portray highly skilled research and design centres. Basically, we’ve lost out on both ends.

More discouraging is how Penang, especially the island side with its premium value, has run out of land for safe development, open spaces and infrastructure.

Much of the state’s people are unaware that almost 40% of Penang’s land is classified as Class III or above. This classification means that the terrain is sloped at more than 25 degrees, measured from a horizontal plane.

These are the foliaged hilly and sloppy terrains subjected to undue pressure from hillside developments. Recent catastrophes of landslides, floods and fatalities remain etched in our minds.

It has become increasingly difficult to buy homes on the island, and it’s common knowledge how rich Singaporeans have snapped up the pre-war homes in heritage sites there for a song.

As land becomes scarcer, the manufacturing and services sector will not be able to grow and will remain stunted.

That could all change soon with the state and federal governments now under the rule of the same political coalition. The state needs to accelerate its inevitable transformation which will fundamentally change the way Penangites live and work, and it needs to embrace digital economy, globalisation and urbanisation. To put it succinctly, Penang must brand itself a Smart City.

In other countries, there is always a second city – Beijing and Shanghai, Sydney and Melbourne, Hanoi and Ho Chin Minh, New York and Los Angeles. However, George Town has never been able to capture the second city status (partnering KL), and it must now compete with Johor Baru for that prestigious identity. Penang has severely lagged.

Understandably, most Penangites are averse to change. Putting up buildings doesn’t mean development, and besides, no one comes to Penang to see skyscrapers. The quality of life is important, and it’s fortunate that Penang has a vibrant civil society.

The non-governmental organisations are alert and outspoken, and that’s what a mature democracy should be like – keeping a close eye on politicians.

But Penang can’t remain stagnant, so it needs land. All around the world, land reclamation is a norm. Just look at Singapore and Hong Kong. Manhattan wouldn’t exist if New York didn’t add land to it. And if Johor hadn’t done the same, Singaporeans can see Johoreans from their flats, as they reclaim without any debates.

“Location, location, location” is the mantra of land developers. The plan to create three man-made islands, totalling 1,821ha (4,500 acres) under the Penang South Reclamation Scheme (PSR) is proof of heading in the right direction. The RM70bil deal involves the construction of the RM9bil rail transit (LRT) line, the RM9.6bil Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) and other supporting infrastructure projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). see more below …

Land may be in abundance on the mainland, but the island is the preferred choice, because in terms of value, it has always fetched higher prices. Having the three islands next to the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone, the Penang International Airport and the Second Penang Bridge is the right thing to do.

Malaysia’s E&E industry is centred in Bayan Lepas, contributing RM120bil in exports, and these islands will help boost this crucial sector further, and encourage Penang to reinvent itself as a digital economy.

A properly planned transport link is long overdue. For years, I have made it a point to return to Penang for the reunion dinner days ahead of Chinese New Year, simply because I can no longer handle the stress of traffic jams on the island.

The final straw was when a jaga kereta boy demanded RM10 for my car, which was parked near Kek Lok Si temple where my wife used to live, because “you have a KL number plate” and “you are not a Penangite”.

Although Penang was the first state in Malaya to introduce a tram system (in the 1880s), the streets there are simply too narrow. So, while it sounds good in theory, it’s just not practical.

Going above the streets – like what modern rails do – is the right thing, and such an “elevated” move will remove the chaos each time it rains and transforms George Town into a huge canal.

The bottom line is, the E&E sector is stagnant, tourism earnings have reduced, Penang isn’t on the global business map, traffic congestion is horrendous, housing on the island is unsustainable and worse, the best brains will not come to Penang for career advancement.

You can have investments, but it doesn’t make sense if the best talents are not attracted to work in the state. There is only so much char koay teow one can eat in Penang.

It’s no good for Penang to be a pick for expatriate retirees. Instead, we need it to be a choice for the workforce, both Malaysian and foreign, from the knowledge economy, supporting services, manufacturing and renewed tourism industries. Penang must move up the value chain to reclaim its lost stature of “Penang Leads”.

By Wong Chun Wai – comment The Star

RM70bil will be flowing in from here 

 

Penang can expect to raise over RM70bil through projects

This is the plan – set up three man-made islands under the Penang South Reclamation Scheme and then, rake in enough to finance the state’s economic development for the next 30 years.

GEORGE TOWN: Over RM70bil is expected to be raised from the three man-made islands under the Penang South Reclamation Scheme (PSR), enough to spearhead the state’s economic development for the next 30 years.

Sources told The Star that out of the more than RM70bil, about RM46bil would be used for the construction of the RM9bil light rail transit (LRT) line, the RM9.6bil Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1), and other supporting infrastructure projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

According to a prominent Penang developer, the present price of industrial land on the island would be around RM70-RM200psf, depending on its status as leasehold or freehold land.

Because the industrial lots on the island are freehold land, the pricing is around RM20psf.

“When the reclamation of the islands starts in 2020, there could be at a 10% appreciation. The island will be sold via an open tender process,” he said.

It will take at least six years for the reclamation, which will be done in stages, to be completed.

It was previously reported that sources had said that about 75% of the three islands were for sale, with some 30% of the enquiries received so far being for industrial land.

When contacted, a local manufacturing company said it would be interested to bid for the lots once an open tender was called.

“There’s currently a slowdown in the manufacturing sector. When the reclamation is done, the global economy should also see a recovery,” said its spokesman.

The National Physical Planning Council is expected to approve the reclamation of the three islands, totalling 1,821ha (4,500acres), before the end of this month.

The SRS Consortium – a 60:20:20 joint venture involving Gamuda Bhd, Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd – is the project delivery partner, appointed by the state government to oversee the implementation of the LRT, PIL 1 and PSR scheme, components of the PTMP.

It was also earlier reported that the tender to reclaim the island would be out in the third quarter of this year.

Island A will house industrial projects – which lots will be developed for sale to foreign and local investors to generate funds for PTMP – and residential development, while Island B will accommodate the state administrative offices and commercial properties.

Residential properties will be developed on Island C.

The LRT is an integrated transport solution comprising a monorail link, cable cars and water taxis to solve traffic congestion in Penang while the 19.5km PIL highway project connects Gurney Drive to the Penang International Airport.

The LRT begins from Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and passes through Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Lepas and the airport before ending at Island B.  – The Star

Read more  

 

5G to move Malaysia forward


Video:

https://rightwaysrichard.blogspot.com/2019/04/5g-to-move-malaysia-forward.html?jwsource=cl

5G technology is go­­ing to be the cornerstone of Malay­sia’s march into the new age and a vital foundation for the country to remain relevant and competitive, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Speaking at the launch of the 5G Malaysia showcase here, the Prime Minister said Malaysians can leverage on this technology within the next three years and catapult the national economy towards strong and sustainable growth.

“We have come a long way and yet there’s still a distance to go,” he said, adding that 5G would impact every industry that is vital to the growth of the country’s economy.

“Industries like manufacturing that has contributed 22% to the Gross Domestic Product in the last five years, remains integral to the national economy.

“Through smart manufacturing or massive machine-type communications, the government hopes that it can attract high value-added, high technology and knowledge-intensive investment in areas such as aerospace, chemicals and chemical products, machinery and equipment and medical devices,” Dr Mahathir said.

He was given a taste of the future when he was driven in a driverless car and had a conversation with a hologram.

The Prime Minister was taken on a driverless blue Proton Exora for a 500m ride from the Palace of Justice to the Putrajaya Corporation building on the opposite side of the road.

A safety driver was present and sat on the driver’s seat and showed the prime minister that the car was able to manoeuvre even though his hands were not on the steering wheel.

Dr Mahathir was visibly impressed with this latest technology as he waved at the crowd and media cameramen.

As he entered the function hall, he was again given an experience of how things will be in the future when he had his face scanned to gain entry into the hall.

Later at the launch, the Prime Minister spoke to a little girl by the name of Aisyah, not with her physically but her hologram.

Aisyah or her real name Tengku Zara Eryna Tengku Ahmad Saifud­din is no stranger to Dr Mahathir.

The seven-year-old was featured in an election campaign video with the prime minister last year.

During the short conversation with the hologram, “Aisyah” asked: “Atuk, when you were my age, what G were you on?”

Dr Mahathir replied “Zero G”, draw­­­ing laughter from the audience.

“Aisyah” also asked Dr Mahathir what’s next for Malaysia beyond 5G, to which she answered “Teleporting humans”.

Dr Mahathir told the audience that the government, through the National Fiberisation and Connec­tivity Plan and the National 5G Task Force would create an environment conducive for the growth of 5G.

The 5G showcase event is open to public at the Putrajaya Corporation Complex until April 21.

by mazwin nik anis and joseph kaos jr The Star

Firms racing to be the first to provide 5G

With the government backing 5G in order for the country to get on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, many companies are racing to be the first to bring the benefits of the technology to the masses.

“The 5G technology will enable our industries to fully exploit the power of artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, virtual reality, and software engineering,” said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo at the launch of the inaugural 5G Malaysia Showcase.

“It will bring innovation which will substantially impact almost every sector, including education, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and public safety.”

The four-day showcase at Kom-pleks Perbadanan Putrajaya features 11 local and international telcos, tech companies and higher learning institutions.

Digi showcased the potential of 5G in emergency services.

Digi chief executive officer Albern Murty said: “It enables the use of 4K video, collection and transferring of data in real-time to respective emergency services such as first responders, hospitals, and the fire department, saving valuable time.

“What is equally important is 5G’s capability to dedicate a portion of the network for mission critical services such as emergencies.”

The system uses a drone which will scout road and traffic conditions, and transmit the data to the a Command Centre Monitoring System, ambulance and hospital in real time.

Celcom Axiata Bhd unveiled its first autonomous car, a collaboration with eMoovit and Ericsson, which uses a combination of sensors, cameras, radar and artificial intelligence to travel without a human driver.

Celcom also showcased its 5G Hologram Call technology which projects people and objects in 3D.

In a demo, Maxis proved that its 5G network could exceed 5Gbps (gigabits per second).

Its chief technology officer Morten Bangsgaard said: “It’s been slightly over a month we started our live trials. What we are doing now is validating how it will perform in real life, under different conditions like what it happens when it rains. These are practical things that will enable us to learn how to build the network, understand expected capacities, cost involved, which are important to allow us to plan for our rollout.”

But he said the nationwide rollout could only be planned after it gets the spectrum allocation.

“The government has indicated that an announcement on spectrum allocation will be made later this year,” he said.

TM One chief executive officer Azizi A. Hadi said the most important element in the 5G race was how it is used to benefit people’s lives and consequently take Malaysia to the next level.

He showed how the Smart Safety Helmet developed by TM can be used to tell the location of the wearer as well as if the person is injured in the line of duty.

Nokia on the other hand demonstrated how 5G could be used for venues, allowing more devices to be connected at the same time, and events streamed in virtual reality for those who could not attend.

It also showed off a virtual reality table tennis game, and how 5G could be used for quality control in the manufacturing field.

ZTE had a demo of a racing game streamed from a remote location to a virtual reality headset using 5G, showing how the technology can be used to make gaming more accessible to those without a gaming machine.

Huawei offered a virtual reality 4K drone for attendees to try out. The drone would pan and tilt according to users’ head movements in “almost” real-time.

It also showcased the use of 5G in agriculture, aquaculture, healthcare alongside its RuralStar technology, which it says will be able to provide cellular coverage to rural and underdeveloped areas.

U Mobile showed tele-surgery, multi stream 4K videos and low latency gaming but cautioned that 5G requires supporting devices for it to take off.

Jasmine Lee, U Mobile chief marketing officer, said: “Even 4G did not really take off until there were devices, and content, so it is really going to be the same for 5G.”

Related News


Steep learning curve


What is meant by “steep learning curve”?

Unfazed, this mass comm graduate overcame all kinds of challenges to make it in business.

SAMANTHA Mah did well on her first business venture but suffered a loss on her second. However, failure did not deter her and her two partners from moving on. They gave it another go until they could see the fruits of their labour.

Mah worked as a company administrator and voice talent for radio commercials before she decided to venture into business.— aNis aBdullah/The star

Mah’s first business received an investment of RM10,000 from her sister, Natasha, 37. She and two investor-partners started an online boutique targeted at young women. After one-and-a-half years, business picked up and was quite good.

Mah, 30, is the youngest in her family. She has two elder sisters and a brother.

Mah, Natasha and a friend Jason Leong, 31, started their trading company on March 8, 2011. Just four months later, it incurred a big loss, prompting them to change the products they were selling – from peanuts and sesame seeds to edible organic products.

A mass communication graduate from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Selangor, Mah had worked part-time as a company administrator and voice talent for radio commercials before she venturing into business. She is now the marketing manager/managing director of her company.

After starting Wide Tropism Trading, she passed her online boutique business to a friend.

One of the biggest challenges for Mah, at the beginning, was that neither she nor her partners had a corporate background.

“We handled matters based on our experiences. Sometimes we had to ask friends for advice.

“In the first few years, there were lots of arguments,” she said.

Mah is glad that her relationship with Natasha survived those trying times.

As part of the company’s costcutting measures, each of them had to take on more responsibilities in various departments.

“There were too many things on my plate – human resource, accounts, design and marketing – and I was suffocating. But we did not have enough (finances) to hire staff,” said Mah.

After two months, she “exploded” and cried during a meeting.

“I could not take the pressure and workload anymore,” she said.

Eventually, they could afford to hire new staff.

“Only then did things start to fall into place,” she said.


Cheated by a supplier

Initially, they were importing foods such as peanuts and sesame seeds, and distributing them to local suppliers. Unfortunately, they suffered a huge loss in the first year itself due to unscrupulous parties.

Due to limited cash flow, they could only import one container of stock at a time. Each time, they flew over to the exporting country, India, to check on the quality of the stock and witness the peanuts being loaded into the containers. The first two shipments went through successfully.

However, the third shipment, supposedly of Grade A peanuts, was discovered to contain Grade C stock instead, when it arrived.

She said: “No one in the market would accept the stock. We sought help from the local distributor to sell off the peanuts at a lower price but even then, no one wanted them. After trying for two months, we had to sell off the peanuts to a peanut butter factory at below cost. As a result, we ran into losses amounting to RM40,000.”

The supplier denied it was his fault and instead blamed others. They then contacted the High Commission of India, in Kuala Lumpur, for help but to no avail.

“We wondered how we were going to continue business. My father advised us to pick ourselves up, learn from it, and be more careful. Everyone was very supportive and encouraged us to continue. They believed we could do better,” she said.

Mah then sought help from her uncle, an experienced fruit trader and grocer. He advised her to run a business that’s less risky, such as repackaging and distributing organic products.

She and her business partners promptly took his advice.

In July 2011, her company had its first customer, a newly opened supermarket in Petaling Jaya. In two months, Mah’s team had designed the logo and sourced for products and packaging. And so, their label Love Earth was born.

 Overcoming obstacles

Every day, Mah and her partners packed their products until midnight, and delivered them, working on weekends to selfpromote their products as well.

Said Mah: “Each time a new supermarket called, we’d celeto brate!”

Gradually, it was time start their expansion plan but they were hampered by limited cash flow.

They knew they had to spend more to create brand awareness. That’s when they started their online webstore.

“None of us had any knowledge about marketing. So I attended marketing and e-commerce talks to learn and see what we could do,” she said.

Mah recalled: “The first three years of business were really tough. My salary was only RM1,000 monthly (to cut costs).”

But their efforts paid off. After five years of sheer hard work, they could buy two units of four-storey shophouses.

The company started with 50 products and now has 180.

Currently, it is distributing these products to over 500 outlets throughout Malaysia.


New priorities

Mah, who got married two years ago, plans to expand her family this year. Her husband, C.V. Loh, 32, distributes bio-degradable plates, lunch boxes and bowls as well as health supplements.

She said: “I hope to have financial freedom, and more time for my family. If possible, I would like to be a part-time businesswoman and full-time housewife one day.”

She plans to raise her children herself and not send them to a nanny. She also hopes to travel more in the future. Presently, she travels at least thrice a year. Seeing other countries and cultures opens up one’s mind, she said.

Although she is a career woman, Mah believes in putting family first.

“Women play a role in bringing up the family. If a child is not well taught, he might be a nuisance to society in the future. But if he has a good upbringing, he can be the sun that shines and brings benefits to all. Also, a woman is the pillar that upholds the family,” she said.

Mah explained that even though she studied mass communication and broadcasting, it was during her internship that she realised that she wanted to go on a different career path than she had originally planned.

After her graduation, she thought of going into volunteer work. But her uncle advised against it. He told her to be successful so that she could help herself and others in future.

By Majorie Chiew The Star
Related posts:

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It pays to be stern 

Startup opportunities abound

 

My home, my school

More and more Malaysian parents are turning towards homeschooling today for various reasons. 

Giving a choice of education to our students in Malaysian school systems

 


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd have signed a supplementary agreement that will pave the way for the resumption of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

The signing was achieved after months of negotiations between the companies involved as well as the governments of Malaysia and China, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“We are pleased to announce that the construction cost of Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL has now been reduced to RM44bil.

“This is a reduction of RM21.5bil from the original cost of RM65.5bil.

“This reduction will surely benefit Malaysia and lighten the burden of the country’s financial position,” said the PMO in a statement Friday (April 12).

The supplementary agreement covers the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning aspects of the ECRL, it added.

The PMO also said that further details of the improved deal will be made known at a press conference next Monday (April 15).

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to give the press conference.

According to earlier reports, Phase 1 of the 688km rail line will be from Klang Valley to Kuantan while Phase 2 will cover Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu.

The project’s Phase 3 will see the rail line connecting Kuala Terengganu to Kota Baru and Tumpat. – Star, NST, MM


Read more:

ECRL is up and running again

Less tunnelling work lowers ECRL cost – Nation

 

China welcome, but priority to local firms for mega projects

 

New ECRL deal may become a case study for others

 

Putrajaya to be rail hub – Nation

Malaysia to ‘take advantage’ of ECRL deal to sell China more palm oil …

ECRL project revival to benefit many sectors – Business News

ECRL deal to include commitment from China to buy palm oil …

Improved ECRL deal a ‘solution’ to debt trap concerns

BERNAMA.com – New ECRL deal a big win for Dr Mahathir, says US

Related posts:

The price we pay to axe East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)

Rail link a huge economic boost, big news for small towns in Malaysia

The rail economics of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)

The world’s oldest PM, Dr. Mahathir must now walk the talk

Keep China’s faith in us; Relationship with China is crucial, says expert

FELDA WHITE PAPER reveals SHADY DEALS


 

These penyangak-penyangak left their marks … we are left to clean up. – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Settlers were facing hardship, yet new cars were bought. – Datuk Seri Anwar IbrahimThese actions were not only irresponsible but criminal in nature. – Datuk Seri Azmin AliFelda only incurred losses after Pakatan took over the government. – Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan
 

The chairman held positions in as many as 39 Felda subsidiaries. Even more shocking is that billions were used to ‘buy’ political support and a stake in an Indonesian firm was acquired for 344% more than it actually costs. And the agency’s debts rose by 1,100% in 10 years

Video:

 ‘Irresponsible and criminal’

 

KUALA LUMPUR: The Felda White Paper was tabled in Parliament, during which the government accused the previous administration of, among others, shady transactions and conflict of interest.

The Dewan Rakyat was told that some RM2.7bil of Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) money was used to buy political support before the last general election in May 2018.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, in tabling the White Paper on Felda in Parliament yesterday, said it was “corporate malfeasance” that led to Felda suffering massive losses.

He also alleged that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was implicated in “shady deals”.

“(Najib), who was known as MO1 and who was the finance minister at the time, was involved in the investment process. These actions were not only irresponsible but criminal in nature,” he claimed.

Azmin cited the purchase of Indonesian company PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk from PT Rajawali Capital at a higher market rate as an example of the abuse of Felda funds.

He added that as of March this year, the RM2.3bil investment was only worth RM500mil.

On Tuesday, Felda director-general Datuk Dr Othman Omar lodged a police report claiming that Najib had pushed it into investing US$505mil (RM2.07bil) in Eagle High.

In the report, he said the amount paid to acquire a 37% stake in the Indonesian company was 344% more than its actual value of US$114mil (RM466.9mil).

Eagle High is part of the Rajawali Group owned by Peter Sondakh, who Othman claimed was close to Najib.

In black and white: Azmin with (from left) Felda chairman Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, his deputy Senator Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin and Othman showing the Felda White Paper at Parliament.

Azmin added that Felda’s debts had drastically risen by 1,100% from RM1.2bil in 2007 to RM14.4bil by 2017.

He also said there was a conflict of interest by former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad – referred to as FO1 – by holding positions in 39 other subsidiaries under Felda and Felda Global Ventures (FGV).

Isa, who was appointed as Felda chairman from January 2011 until January 2017, was FGV chairman as well as FIC chairman.

Later, wrapping up his reply to debate on the White Paper, Azmin said the government would adopt a new model in managing land under Felda which had been leased to FGV.

In his winding-up speech, Azmin acknowledged that it was difficult to return the land to settlers as Felda had leased it to FGV under a 99-year agreement.

“However, Felda is in the midst of reviewing the terms of the agreement with FGV so that it would benefit all parties, particularly settlers and Felda, although the land does not belong to them,” he said.

He added the White Paper on Felda would seek a new model to manage Felda land to ensure more profitable economic scale of return.

On claims by opposition lawmakers that Felda had made a loss after Pakatan took over, Azmin clarified that Felda’s true net value was only revealed after an impairment exercise was carried out on its assets.

He said the former Felda management had failed to carry out an impairment exercise to value its investment and kept quiet about it until 2018.

“They did not do the impairment exercise so the books would look good. If the management was honest, they would have carried out an impairment exercise between 2013 and 2016 to determine best value of the investment,” said Azmin.

He said when land was managed by Felda itself, it managed to obtain nett profit of RM1bil to RM2bil.

By Jagdev singh sidhu, martin carvalho, hemananthani sivanandam, rahimy rahim, and tarrence tan The Star

Planting seeds to a new Felda

 New beginnings: The new Felda aims to be run as a well-functioning corporation with better internal controls.

New beginnings: The new Felda aims to be run as a well-functioning corporation with better internal controls.

THE scale of malfeasance was staggering. The White Paper on the goings-on in Felda and its subsidiaries read like a litany of wrongdoings that breached proper governance standards that most companies have to prescribe to.

There were many reasons why the checks and balances within Felda failed, largely because there was none. The concentration of authority within the hands of a few individuals, with little exercise of fiduciary duty by other members of the board, meant a free hand for the few.

The forensic audit conducted by Ernst & Young detailed the collapse of internal controls and oversight in a number of deals done by Felda. Overpriced deals were made and in the end, it was the settlers that bore the brunt of the consequences.

Charges have been filed against former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, and given the scale of alleged fraud that had taken place, more police reports are about to be lodged in the days and weeks ahead. And more people are expected to face charges.

All of that will mean that justice to what had happened at Felda will be sought. That process will take time, but in the meantime, the main thrust of the White Paper, apart from detailing the cocktail of crimes, was what to do with Felda next.

The key take-away from the report was that there will be a new Felda. The old one, with its own legacy problems, meant that it will be best to start over again with a new focus.

The financial performance of Felda warrants the change as it has been losing money since its unit FGV Holdings Bhd was floated on Bursa Malaysia and its debt ballooned from RM1.2bil in 2007 to RM14.4bil in 2017. And its assets just about doubled. From those numbers alone, it was imperative that financial assistance from the government be extended to rehabi­litate Felda.

The government will inject RM6.23bil into Felda in stages in the form of grants, loans and guarantees and much of that money will actually go towards reworking Felda.

The agency’s debt will be taken care of and so will the settlers’ loans. Housing for second-generation Felda settlers will be built and RM480mil will be given to help pay for their living cost.

In changing Felda from what it is now to what it should morph into, the government will inject RM1bil for the settlers to plant new cash crops.

Relying on palm oil and rubber alone has been good, and the settlers and Felda benefited from that. But in today’s world, other cash crops have gained prominence over the golden crop of Malaysia.

With the price of food, which includes fruits and vegetables, along with livestock, having increasing value, the shift towards these crops is understandable and inevitable.

Settlers will be able to get more income from cultivating such crops and rearing livestock to go along with the lease agreement they can get by agreeing to allot their rights to their oil palm estates to Felda for a steady monthly return.

Felda can then use the economies of scale from the amalgamated lands and better productivity to generate higher returns. The use of modern technology in farming Felda land is also in the right direction.

The other steps put forward by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is to have better infrastructure in the areas within the scheme, improve development of human capital and a host of other measures that seek to revitalise the prospects of the settlers and their next generation.

The new Felda aims to be run as a well-functioning corporation. Governance, transparency and all the other buzzwords that mean better internal controls and eliminating corruption needed to be done.

Having professionals run Felda is the correct move and with all of this, it is hoped that Felda will shed its sordid past and return the agency to what the settlers and their kin have sacrificed for.

The overarching intention of the revamped Felda is to make sure that only the welfare of the settlers and the agency are taken care of.

It is also a political move to ensure that a key vote bank that helped swing the tide of the last general election remains intact. But beyond the politics, the revamp of Felda is a much-needed move that will only serve to benefit those involved in the scheme and the country.

It is the right thing to do.THE scale of malfeasance was staggering. The White Paper on the goings-on in Felda and its subsidiaries read like a litany of wrongdoings that breached proper governance standards that most companies have to prescribe to.

There were many reasons why the checks and balances within Felda failed, largely because there was none. The concentration of authority within the hands of a few individuals, with little exercise of fiduciary duty by other members of the board, meant a free hand for the few.

The forensic audit conducted by Ernst & Young detailed the collapse of internal controls and oversight in a number of deals done by Felda. Overpriced deals were made and in the end, it was the settlers that bore the brunt of the consequences.

Charges have been filed against former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, and given the scale of alleged fraud that had taken place, more police reports are about to be lodged in the days and weeks ahead. And more people are expected to face charges.

All of that will mean that justice to what had happened at Felda will be sought. That process will take time, but in the meantime, the main thrust of the White Paper, apart from detailing the cocktail of crimes, was what to do with Felda next.

The key take-away from the report was that there will be a new Felda. The old one, with its own legacy problems, meant that it will be best to start over again with a new focus. The financial performance of Felda warrants the change as it has been losing money since its unit FGV Holdings Bhd was floated on Bursa Malaysia and its debt ballooned from RM1.2bil in 2007 to RM14.4bil in 2017. And its assets just about doubled. From those numbers alone, it was imperative that financial assistance from the government be extended to rehabilitate Felda.

The government will inject RM6.23bil into Felda in stages in the form of grants, loans and guarantees and much of that money will actually go towards reworking Felda.

The agency’s debt will be taken care of and so will the settlers’ loans. Housing for second-generation Felda settlers will be built and RM480mil will be given to help pay for their living cost.

In changing Felda from what it is now to what it should morph into, the government will inject RM1bil for the settlers to plant new cash crops.

Relying on palm oil and rubber alone has been good and the settlers and Felda benefited from that. But in today’s world, other cash crops have gained prominence than the golden crop of Malaysia.

With the price of food, which includes fruits and vegetables, along with livestock, having increasing value, the shift towards these crops is understandable and inevitable.

Settlers will be able to get more income from cultivating such crops and rearing livestock to go along with the lease agreement they can get by agreeing to allot their rights to their oil palm estates to Felda for a steady monthly return. Felda can then use the economies of scale from the amalgamated lands and better productivity to generate higher returns. The use of modern technology in farming Felda’s land is also in the right direction.

The other steps put forward by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is to have better infrastructure in the areas within the scheme, improve development of human capital and a host of other measures that seek to revitalise the prospects of the settlers and their next generation.

The new Felda aims to be run as a well-functioning corporation. Governance, transparency and all the other buzzwords that mean better internal controls and eliminating corruption needed to be done. Having professionals run Felda is the correct move and with all of this, it is hoped that Felda will shed its sordid past and return the agency to what the settlers and their kin have sacrificed for.

The overarching intention of the revamped Felda is to make sure that only the welfare of the settlers and the agency are taken care of. It is also a political move to ensure that a key vote bank that helped swing the tide of the last general election remains intact. But beyond the politics, the revamp of Felda is a much-needed move that will only serve to benefit those involved in the scheme and the country.

It is the right thing to do.

By jagdev singh sidhu The Star

 

 

 

 

Taking Felda forward the smart way – Nation 

 

 


Police may summon VIPs for Felda probe

 

Related posts:

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

MACC starts probe on Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) 

Making the corrupt fear whistleblowers, not the other way !

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