Why we fail at corporate governance with corrupt officials?


 

Malaysia still suffers from corporate scandal after another, says Musa

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is great at formulating legislation for corporate governance but lacks the ability to implement and enforce these, said former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam (pic).

“As far as I can remember, Malaysia is the leading developing country that currently occupies the top half of the list in formulating legislation, rules and regulations for corporate governance.

“But when it comes to implementation and enforcement, we occupy the lower half of the list,” said Musa, who is also World Islamic Economic Forum chairman. Delivering his keynote address at the Women’s Institute of Management’s Conference on Integrity and Corporate Governance, Musa said that in the past, government and corporate leaders were required to attend a course on corporate governance.

“It is quite obvious that these efforts are to no avail and the programme seems to have been scrapped.

“After all our training, Malaysia still suffers one corporate scandal after another,” he said.

The country’s weakness in corporate governance lay in its inability to enforce the rules and was the major cause of its many scandals, he said.

Musa said that good governance extended to areas relating to corruption, abuse of power, accountability, application of corporate social responsibility (CSR), transparency and protecting shareholder interest.

“If you ensure transparency and accountability in decision making, apply CSR and care about shareholder interest, then you are practising good corporate governance,” he said.

Good corporate governance, Musa pointed out, could only happen if all the laws were implemented without fear or favour.

“This is most crucial for good corporate governance and it is up to the chairman and board of directors to administer this,” added Musa.

Another important ingredient was leadership with integrity, he said.

“Leadership by example produces good governance and in my experience, if this is practised, even the most influential person can be persuaded to act in the broader interest of the corporation and shareholders.” By Jo Timbuong The Star

Corporate governance – a shared responsibility

TUN Musa Hitam was spot on when he said at a conference on Monday that a company’s directors and managers were practising good corporate governance when they ensured transparency and accountability in decision making, applied corporate social responsibility, and cared about the shareholders’ interests.

These are indeed essential ingredients if we want our companies to be run well.

And Musa was right in pointing out that good corporate governance could only happen if the laws were implemented without fear or favour.

This matters because corporate governance thrives in an environment in which the rules are clear and robust, and the regulators are firm and consistent.

However, corporate governance is not just about complying with the letter of the law. It is also about directing and controlling a company through practices, structures and processes.

Many of these elements are voluntary; a thin line separates government oversight and the straightjacketing of business with an overkill of statutory prescriptions.

For example, most experts on corporate governance agree that the roles of chief executive officer and chairman of the board ought to be separated so as to avoid concentrating a lot of decision-making power in one person.

And yet, it is perfectly legal in Malaysia for an individual to wear these two hats at the same time. It is the same in some developed countries.

It remains a hot topic, but it is clear that most regulators continue to be reluctant to outlaw this practice of combining CEO and chairman duties.

The biggest challenge is to persuade company stewards to embrace the principles of corporate governance without being prodded by the authorities and their volumes of laws.

For this to happen, the directors and managers have to be convinced that good corporate governance adds significant value to their companies.

There are many studies that have concluded exactly that, but these findings mean little if there is still the perception that most people do not care about corporate governance.

Let us look at the listed companies, whose value is measured constantly in the stock exchange as investors buy and sell the companies’ shares.

On paper, a company with a poor track record in corporate governance would have trouble getting attention in the stock market.

And yet, we have frequently seen such companies at the centre of feeding frenzies sparked by speculation that the share prices will soar for whatever reason. This is not a great advertisement for corporate governance.

Nor is it encouraging that shareholder activism in Malaysia is limp. Many of those who own small amounts of shares in a company are often indifferent to how the company is performing, preferring instead to focus on the share price.

And when they do turn up at the shareholder meetings, it is seldom to engage with the board and management and to ask tough business questions.

The regulators and company stewards alone cannot push the corporate governance agenda.

Investors and other stakeholders too must show that they appreciate the fruits of good corporate governance, instead of complaining bitterly only after companies have collapsed and huge investments have gone down the drain. The Star Says

A-G: GLCs should adopt best practices

Praise and encouragement: Ambrin speaking during the WIM Conference on Integrity and Governance at the One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya.

“In theory, the country’s best practices could be easily adopted wholly or in part by most GLCs. But in reality this is not always the case as you can see from our audit findings with regard to the business performance and corporate governance of these GLCs.

“If guidelines are not being adhered to or given exemptions, it may severely compromise the governance and expose the companies to risk of fraud and corruption,” he said in a keynote address at the Women’s Institute of Management (WIM) conference on integrity and governance yesterday.

The 2015 Auditor-General Report (Series 2) was released two days ago, in which issues like poor management of the Cooking Oil Stabilisation Scheme and weaknesses in the management of medicinal supplies at health clinics nationwide were highlighted.

On the issue of GLCs that were not doing well, Ambrin said these companies were supposed to contribute to wealth creation for the government and act as a trustee to the public.

“Instead, they might become a burden, asking for bailouts and additional grants or to convert their loans to equity so they can continue to exist as a going concern, but to whose benefit really, one might ask,” he said.

The Auditor-General also observed that based on his audit experience, there were times where a GLC’s board of directors had been conveniently bypassed on major decisions.

He added that companies should have at least some, if not all, the best practices required to ensure integrity and good governance in their organisation.

“For example, I am very impressed with Khazanah, they have a high standard of governance and are very professional, so to me they are a model GLC.

“Of course we don’t expect smaller companies to have the full-scale best practices that they have, but at least have some elements like a standard operating procedure, internal audit committee, and a good board of directors,” he said.

Former Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said merely having policies for integrity and good governance in place were not enough.

“Malaysians need to talk about it and live it in order to move a step ahead,” said Zaid who was a panellist at the conference.

He said putting integrity into action may be challenging because of restrictive laws like the Official Secrets Act but that shouldn’t stop people from doing so.

Zaid said if Malaysians were committed to the principles of integrity and good governance, they needed to be courageous in their cause.

“You cannot defend integrity without courage but be prepared to pay a price for it. You might not get promoted, or get the title, or the contract you want but integrity needs to be cultivated, no matter the price,” he said.

Zaid also said the courage to fight for integrity must come from within and individuals cannot expect the higher-ups to lead the way.

“You must own it and start with yourself,” he said, adding that the more people embrace the idea of integrity, the higher the chance of creating a society driven by morals and truth.

–  By LOSHANA K SHAGAR and JO TIMBUONG The Star

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It pays to learn from China


Malaysia can achieve high income nation through Belt and Road initiative, says minister

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/IjEEOkPW8Zc

MALACCA: Malaysia can learn from China which is skilled in attracting and profiting from the knowledge and skills of its human capital, said Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said China was creating an innovative economy and not just a high-income one driven by strong domestic consumption.

“China’s leadership is building on ambitious growth targets based on equality, efficiency and evaluation. We need to emulate this trait,” he said. Dr Wee was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 8th World Chinese Economic Summit (WCES)

WCES is organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) with the aim of promoting global and regional dialogue on the emergence of China as the world’s largest economy and bringing together the global Chinese diaspora.

Dr Wee said that Malaysia, through its participation in China’s Belt and Road initiative, would be able to achieve its aim of becoming a high-income economy by 2020.

“China can appeal to a variety of demographics within Malaysia. By utilising the diversity and skills of the multi-ethnic Malaysian workforce, China can further capitalise on business ventures in the region.

“This can include leveraging on the country’s Mandarin-speaking citizens in order to effortlessly conduct business, or using Malaysia’s large Muslim population to expand investment into the Middle East,” Dr Wee said.

One of the projects that came into the picture as an effect of Belt and Road was the Melaka Gateway that attracted an investment of RM43bil from China.

China’s southern province of Guangdong, which has established a friendly state and province relationship with Malacca, has expressed its interest in investing RM8bil in an energy project in the state that will create between 5,000 and 20,000 jobs for the locals, Dr Wee said.

On e-commerce, which currently contri­butes 16% to the GDP, he said that only 55% of local consumers use the Internet for shopping.

The appointment of Chinese Internet billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba Group as the Government’s digital economy adviser will help tap the vast potential of that market.

The e-commerce market (excluding e-services) in Malaysia for this year was expected to reach US$991.1mil (RM4.3bil) in revenue, while the global e-commerce industry was projected to surpass US$3.5 trillion (RM15.3 trillion) within the next five years, said Dr Wee.

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The new China Syndrome: don’t tell Chinese balik Tongsan, Tongsan coming to Malaysia


May the goodwill generated from the Middle Kingdom’s investments coming our way be infectious.

NO doubt about it – the love is back. MCA is basking in its renewed affection and appreciation as a useful partner to Barisan Nasional.

That was supremely obvious in Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s glowing speech at MCA’s annual general assembly on Sunday.

In the three years since the devastating general election in 2013, MCA has worked hard at rebuilding itself and has regained some of its mojo.

And it showed at this year’s assembly, which was very different from the mood and tone of the AGM post-GE13, when the party was still smarting from the anger and disappointment of its coalition partner.

Najib, feeling terribly let down by the lack of Chinese support, had lashed out at the community, calling their massive support for the Opposition a “Chinese tsunami”.

Not only that, he defended a Ma­lay newspaper’s front-page head­line: Apa lagi Cina mahu? (What else do the Chinese want?).

That year at its annual general assembly, he pointedly told MCA, whose parliamentary seats had been reduced to a mere seven and state seats to 11, half of what it won in the 2008 general election, that it needed “political Viagra” to raise its flagging spirit.

It was indeed a horribly low point for MCA. There were calls for the party to leave BN, but the leadership soldiered on, refusing to give up a long-established partnership.

A year later, at the MCA AGM, Najib did not mince his words again when he urged the party delegates to stop fighting among themselves because he found the factions confusing and tiresome.

All that has changed. On Sunday, he declared that there was no more Team A or B, only Team MCA, in recognition of Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai’s leadership in bringing unity and transforming the party.

But there was another feel-good factor at work at the AGM: the afterglow from Najib’s successful visit to Beijing a week earlier.

The Chinese government really rolled out the red carpet for Najib and his delegation, which included Liow, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and other MCA leaders, during a six-day visit that netted investment deals amounting to RM144bil, covering bilateral trade, education, culture and defence.

Beijing’s warm relationship with Putrajaya and China’s position as Malaysia’s largest trading partner did not happen overnight.

China has always remembered Malaysia for being the first Asean country to establish diplomatic relations with it when communism was still seen as a threat to the region.

That was thanks to Najib’s father, second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who made that historic visit in 1974.

But it was the Malaysian Chinese community that went on to deepen and strengthen those ties. Again, this is something China remembers and is grateful for: Malaysian Chi­nese businessmen who invested in China in the late 1970s when Deng Xiaoping had just opened its doors to foreign investment.

Among them is the stellar tycoon Robert Kuok, said to wield great influence with the Chinese leadership, whose long-standing admiration for him culminated in CCTV, Chi­na’s state TV broadcaster, bestowing on him the China Econo­mic Per­son of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Among the stories told include how Kuok earned the Chinese government’s trust and affection after he, the renowned Sugar King, secretly helped China overcome a severe sugar shortage in the early 1970s.

Interestingly, when Chinese leaders visit Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, they invariably choose to stay at Kuok’s Shangri-La hotel and that includes former president Hu Jintao and his successor, Xi Jinping, which is surely a measure of their continuing esteem for Kuok.

While the magnitude of the new investment deals raised eyebrows, China’s getting involved in building and funding major infrastructure projects isn’t new. After all, it was a Chinese construction company, CHEC, and a cheap Chinese government loan that helped build the second Penang bridge.

Granted, people have the right to be cautious and demand to know the details of such deals, and that should be respected. But there is no doubt that China has come to the rescue of Malaysia at a time when our economy needed a huge boost.

More importantly, Najib’s administration knows the role MCA leaders played in helping seal the deals.

After all, many of the MoUs signed concerned the development of transport infrastructure like the East Coast Rail Link and ports, which are under Liow’s portfolio as Transport Minister.

As reported, Liow made frequent trips to Beijing for meetings and wooed the Chinese to invest in Port Klang. Not only that, he was always on hand to host visiting Chinese dignitaries, like his counterpart Yang Chuantang, and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

All the hard work came to fruition with the huge investments and the affirmation of trusted friendship between the two nations.

As Najib said, he continued to look east, like former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Look East policy, because China was the world’s biggest economy. But frankly, there isn’t any other direction to look for big investment.

The realisation of China’s importance to Malaysia is fast taking root; so much so, the Red Shirts which, just a year ago tried to storm Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, have stopped their outright anti-Chinese attacks after Ambassador Dr Huang Huikang made it clear that Beijing would not stand for “incidents which threaten the interests of the country, infringe upon the rights of its citizens in doing business, or disrupt the relationship between Malaysia and China”.

But now that Najib has warmed up again to MCA and the Chinese from China are all the rage, it would really, really be nice if that love and goodwill could be spread around to Malaysian Chinese who have long invested in this place they call home and helped build it into a modern, progressive, successful nation.

It is time to stop making the Chinese community the convenient whipping boy and the bogeyman to frighten the Malays for political expediency. And no more allowing groups and individuals to spew hate speech and dangle the threat of another May 13.

This type of divisive politics has gone so bad that Liow reiterated his call for a National Reconciliation Council to strengthen the two pillars of national unity and cultural diversity, which he said had come under attack.

That is what is sorely needed to improve MCA’s chances of winning back the Chinese vote in the next general election, which is Najib’s ultimate challenge to the party.

As the joke that is going around now: no point telling the Chinese to balik Tongsan (go back to China) because Tongsan is coming to Malaysia.

By June H.L. Wong, So Aunty, So What? The Star/Asian News Network

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Xi, Trump discuss China-US cooperation


Working together ‘only correct choice’, Chinese leader tells president-elect

President Xi Jinping said on Monday that “there are a lot of things” China and the United States need to, and can, cooperate on, in a phone call congratulating Donald Trump on his US presidential election victory.

“Facts have proved that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the United States,” Xi told Trump, noting that the past 37 years of diplomatic relations have brought concrete benefits to the people of the two countries, as well as facilitating global peace and stability.

Since China and the US now have important opportunities and great potential for cooperation, Xi said the two countries should better coordinate in promoting the economic development of both countries and the world, and expand exchanges in all fields to bring bilateral ties forward.

“During the call, the leaders established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another,” a statement from Trump’s presidential transition office said. “President-elect Trump stated that he believes the two leaders will have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward.”

The two leaders also agreed to keep in close contact and meet at an early date.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher of Sino-US relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said mutual interests between the US and China will not be subject to US political changes. Both US parties subscribe to developing relations with Beijing.

Tao said it will take time to see how Trump’s China policy develops after he takes office, though the new administration “will not necessarily resort to a trade war with China”, despite his statements during the campaign and pressure from many US politicians for greater containment of China.

Tao said that is “because he is a smart businessman, and a trade war surely impacts both sides”.

Fu Mengzi, a Sino-US relations researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said there should be a distinction between Trump’s statements during the campaign and his policies as president.

“He knows the importance of China-US relations. He will find some ‘China hands’ to draft his policies toward China,” he said.

At a daily news conference on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China has remained in close communication with the US side, including Trump’s team.

Geng also said that China expects to expand cooperation with the new US administration at all levels and in various fields, including infrastructure construction .

“The fundamentals of China-US relations will not change in the future, even though frictions may occur,” Fu said.

Tao said the Chinese government will continue to cooperate with the Obama administration, citing the 27th China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade coming up in Washington, DC.

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Stop bitting the helping hand


Many of the negative responses over the deals with China seem to be politically motivated, stemming from ignorance and, in some cases, ethnic prejudice against all things Chinese.

 

YOU can be angry with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but let’s not lose our objectivity. The Prime Minister brought in RM144bil worth of deals signed between Malaysia and China.

Many Asean countries are eyeing that kind of money from China but strangely, some Malaysians’ sense of rationality is becoming warped, even perverted, and they feel it is prudent to go into senseless name-calling and mindless smearing of China.

We have to be careful here – remarks like Malaysia indulging in yellow culture, selling our soul to China and comments which smacks of racism are surely not the way to treat a friendly superpower nation like China.

Those making such disparaging remarks are doing a disservice to Malaysia. It’s akin to throwing sand into our rice bowl.

Hate the PM as much as you want as this is how democracy works. But do some of us need to lash out with political rhetoric against China?

It is one thing to score points against our political rivals but surely, there must be a line drawn – let’s not bite the hand that is trying to help us at a time when Malaysia needs to secure more foreign investment to shore up our flagging revenue from oil and gas.

Many of the negative responses over these deals with China seem to be politically motivated, stemming from ignorance and, in some cases, ethnic prejudice against all things Chinese, whether it has to do with mainland China or Chinese Malaysians.

Let’s look at the numbers – foreign investors (including the US) are net sellers of stocks in Bursa Malaysia and have reportedly dumped RM948.1mil in stocks although some have said it is even more.

Malaysia can no longer depend on traditional foreign direct investments from the US and other Western countries.

The reality is that China invested as much as US$84bil (RM370bil) in 2012, establishing it as the world’s third largest outward investor after the US and Japan. China has aggressively eclipsed other nations.

The shift towards China, according to one study, is obvious as the republic emerged as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, enjoying a 13.8% share of Malaysian trade since 2012.

Malaysian firms (especially those owned and managed by Malaysians of Chinese descent) have also been actively investing in China since it liberalised its economy in 1979. Some of these firms played a crucial role in attracting mainland Chinese firms to invest in Malaysia, according to studies.

Everyone knows that China has the money. And Malaysia has an edge over other Asean countries because of the link between Chinese Malaysians and China that has given us an advantageous position, especially when China increasingly sees Singapore as a US ally.

There are some who are unhappy with China’s purchase of 1MDB’s energy assets in Edra Global Energy Bhd for RM9.83bil by the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp recently, suggesting that the republic was only helping Najib out in the 1MDB controversy.

But let’s look at other investments – even before the recent trip by the PM. China has put in a multi-billion ringgit purchase of a substantial equity stake in Bandar Malaysia via China Railway Construction Corporation.

China Railway Engineering Corporation has announced plans to set up its multi-billion regional headquarters in Bandar Malaysia, which will host the main terminal for the proposed KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

It has been reported that the Chinese government has started buying more Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) and this inflow of new money could possibly rise to RMB50bil (about RM30bil) in total or 8.5% of Malaysia’s total outstanding MGS as of early April.

Those who have been grumbling should answer if there’s any big money coming from the US, Australia or Britain.

And many of us are also wary about money coming in from the Saudis – some are alleging that they are exporting radical Islamic values to Malaysia. Do we need this?

Like it or not, China, apart from being Malaysia’s largest trading partner which takes up 19% of its exports, is presently one of the top five foreign investors in the country.

Investments from China in the manufacturing, construction, infrastructure and property sectors are at significant levels now.

According to official data, China’s investments in the manufacturing sector here from 2009 to 2015 totalled RM13.6bil, creating 24,786 jobs.

Malaysia also needs more Chinese tourists to visit our country and we hope to attract two million Chinese tourists by the end of the year. Our tourism industry has seen a growth of 23% in arrivals from China since the e-visa entry programme was introduced in March this year.

China is the third largest source of tourists for us after Singapore and Indonesia. Malaysia targets eight million Chinese tourists by 2020.

Only 10% of China’s population travelled out of their country and yet they have spent US$229bil (RM1tril) globally last year. They easily beat the number of many Western countries put together!

They spend more than other tourists and they travel in bigger numbers. We all know that in Western countries, Chinese-speaking shop assistants are specifically hired to engage with this segment of customers.

Malaysia is not on the radar of Chinese tourists but more young Chinese tourists have chosen to visit Sabah because of its beautiful sea and lush forests.

Chinese tourists spent US$215bil (RM948bil) abroad last year, 53% more than in 2014, according to a World Travel & Tourism Council report, a figure which is more than the annual economic output of Qatar. Chinese tourists are now spending way more than anyone else, including the Americans.

The number of Chinese tourists travelling globally has more than doubled to 120 million over the last five years, according to data from the China National Tourist Office and WTTC. That means one in every 10 international traveller now is from China.

Malaysia is missing out on this action, unfortunately. For a start, we can make travelling into Malaysia easier for them and having more direct flights will help.

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Najib has done well, from his recent trip to China.

It will even be better if our own Air Asia gets to fly into more Chinese cities as this will surely help boost Chinese tourist arrivals.

Let’s get real, all of us.

Certainly we have the right to express our concerns over the terms of some projects, and to seek clearer details, but let’s not drag in unnecessary elements which strain bilateral ties.

By Wong Chun Wai

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.

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Philippine, Malaysia to cooperate on combating terror groups and pirates


Meeting of two leaders: Najib talking to Duterte during the Philippines President’s visit to the Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya. — Bernama

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/yyqsLvD7WsQ

Philippine, Malaysia to cooperate on combating terror groups

President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is making
his first official visit to Malaysia. Talks between the two countries
focused on ways to combat threats from militant groups. Extremists from
the southern Philippines, especially Abu Sayyaf, have been responsible
for numerous incidents of piracy and kidnappings in waters between the
two countries.

Duterte gives Malaysia licence to enter waters to pursue pirates

The days of pirates escaping Malaysian authorities by fleeing across the border into Tawi-Tawi waters are over.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in his inaugural visit to Malaysia, has given Malaysia the licence to enter his country’s waters in pursuit of not only kidnappers, but also militants who have been terrorising Sabah’s east coast.

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

Calling this a new development in Putrajaya-Manila ties, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the two leaders agreed on the need to stamp out the security risk which also affects Indonesia.

There were several kidnap-for-ransom cases this year alone, which saw 10 Malaysians whisked away by militant groups based in southern Philippines. Five are still being held captive.

“I appreciate Duterte’s understanding because this is a practical way for us to help each other. It’s a new development which has been agreed by (Indonesian President) Jokowi with Duterte, and now with me.

“We need to stamp out this crime as this is affecting the welfare and security of not only Sabahans but tourists who visit the state,” Najib said after a bilateral meeting with Duterte yesterday.

The Philippine President was here for a two-day visit, his first after assuming the presidency in June.

Defence ministers from Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia will be meeting in Vientiane on Nov 22 to discuss the standard operating procedure and the various legal aspect of this new development.

While authorities from Malaysia and Indonesia are allowed to enter its maritime borders, they have to inform the Philippine navy of their presence in the area.

“If you are in hot pursuit of the bad guys and we reach maritime boundaries, the bad guys will get away if you stop. So, President Duterte said we should continue the chase and he has given us the licence to do so. We are to inform the Philippine navy and they will assist us if they are nearby,” said Najib.

The Prime Minister said new orders would be issued to the security forces based along the Sabah east coast and that this latest development was a clear sign of the two countries’ commitment to eliminate kidnapping incidents.

“This new development will also help move relations between both countries forward.

“While we have been enjoying warm and cordial relations, we have yet to reach our full potential due to security and legal issues,” he added.

On Philippines’ claims over Sabah, Najib said that this was not an issue to be addressed immediately.

Philippines has a long standing claim to Sabah, which was once under the rule of the Sulu Sultanate.

The claim has caused snags in several matters such as the setting up of a BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area) regional office and a consular office in Kota Kinabalu.

Duterte expressed appreciation on Malaysia’s role in the peace process in southern Philippines, said Najib, adding that the Government has agreed to continue placing an international monitoring team there.

“With negotiations completed, there is no need for a facilitator to be placed there, but Duterte has asked for the monitoring team to remain,” he said.

Malaysia has been playing the role of facilitator in the Bangsamoro peace process negotiations and is leading the international monitoring team in the southern Philippines.

On the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah, Najib said both countries agreed to send home in stages the 7,000 Philippine nationals currently in the state.

By MAZWIN NIK ANIS JOSEPH KAOS JR The Star Asia News Network

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TPPA in danger of collapse after its biggest critic wins US presidency


KUALA LUMPUR: The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) faces its biggest challenge with the election of its major critic Donald Trump as US president. The agreement will collapse without the participation of United States, said its prime mover in Malaysia, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The International Trade and In­­dus­try Minister explained that for TPPA to be ratified, it needs at least six countries, accounting for 85% of the combined gross domestic product of the 12 signatories.

“Without the United States, there will be no TPPA,” he said when met in Parliament yesterday.

He added that failure to carry out TPPA may affect the Malaysian economy.

“We went into TPPA for the overall interest of Malaysia. To be a part of this process, to do more trading, as we believe that this will help trade and investment for Malaysia.

“Among the reasons why we joined was to get access to Mexico and Canada, countries that we haven’t gotten access to,” he said.

He, however, was quick to add that it was too soon to make an analysis on the matter.

Trump’s shock victory stunned capital markets around the world with investors seeking safe haven assets such as gold to brace the period of uncertainties.

In an immediate after-effect Asian stock markets fell, with Bursa Malaysia performing relatively better than most other markets, shedding less than 1%.

The US dollar index, which measures the strength of the currency against a basket of currencies, spiked to more than 1,207, largely due to the weakening of emerging market currencies and strengthening of safe-haven currencies such as the Yen and Swiss francs.

The ringgit fell to RM4.224 against the greenback, a nine-month low since Feb 25. Gold spot prices went up by almost 5% to US$1,337 (RM5,645) as investors sought shelter in safe haven assets in the period of uncertainty.

Ministers and chief negotiators of TTPA countries are expected to meet in Peru soon to take stock on the fate of the agreement.

International Trade and Industry secretary-general Datuk J. Jayasiri, who was Malaysia’s chief TPPA negotiator, said there was no indication so far that Washington under President Barack Obama would not table the Bill in the US Congress for ratification.

“All indications from US Trade Representative Michael Froman is that they are working hard to table it. The US has its own domestic process and for Malaysia we will continue the process of amending our laws,” he said.

Peru will host the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperaton (Apec) summit on Nov 19 to be attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Obama is also expected to attend.

American Malaysia Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) executive director Siobhan Das said US business investments would continue to find a home in Malaysia.

“Amcham supports all efforts that enable free and fair trade between all parties, and looks forward to working with the new administration to grow US business interests in Malaysia,” said Das.

Malaysian Association for Ame­ri­can Studies (MAAS) President Prof Dr K.S. Nathan believed that Trump would try to fine tune but would not scrap the agreement.

“They may renegotiate some aspects of it but I don’t see Trump pulling back on the TPPA or even the North American Free Trade Agreement”.

The US Embassy’s charge d’affaires Edgard Kagan explained it was still possible that TPPA would be approved by US lawmakers.

“There are different views on trade in the US. President Obama is committed to the TPPA and we will just have to see what happens,” he said.

In theory, the TPPA could still be ratified by Congress during its “lame duck” session.

This is the session which takes places after the US presidential election but before the inauguration on Jan 20 next year.

BY Razak ahmad, Neville spykerman, Mergawati zulfakar, Loshana k shagar, Hemananthani sivanandam, Rahimy rahim, Martin carvalho, andd. Kanyakumari The Star/ANN

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