China tops global fintech rankings


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ho Wah Foon The Star

Adviser Jack Ma to start with e-FTZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.Alitripexpected-to-bring8millionChinesetourists

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

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (L) and China’s Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing. – EPA

Malaysia-China ties to a new high

Malaysian PM Najib given official welcome at China’s Great Hall of the People https://youtu.be/v87tJF3uO7U   Prime Minister …

Malaysia-China ties to a new high


Malaysian PM Najib given official welcome at China’s Great Hall of the People

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/v87tJF3uO7U

 

 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and China’s Premier Li Keqiang inspect honour guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, November 1, 2016. Reuters

BEIJING, China: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said his current visit to China will propel bilateral ties between the two nations to a new high.

“We have said that bilateral relations are at a historic high. I can say that with confidence.

“But more so, this visit will being it to a new high because the comprehensive nature of our strategic partnership has now been translated into meaningful action,” he said in his opening remarks at the bilateral meeting between Malaysia and China at the Great Hall of the People here.

Najib also thanked his counterpart Li Keqiang, seated across from him, for the warm welcome given to the Malaysian delegation.

“It’s warm in the room, but outside it’s a little cold,” Li replied in jest. The weather in Beijing is currently chilly as winter approaches, with a high today of 11.7 degrees Celsius and an overnight low of – 2.2 degrees.

Najib was given earlier given an official welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People here.

Najib, who is on a six-day official visit, was welcomed on arrival by China prime minister Li Keqiang. Also present were ministers and government officials accompanying the prime minister’s delegation.

The national anthems of both countries were played, followed by Najib’s inspection of the guard accompanied by Li. The Malaysian prime minister was also given a 19-gun salute.

Earlier, Najib had attended the Malaysia-China Business Forum, titled “Strengthening Cooperation, Building Opportunities”. The luncheon was attended by more than 400 Chinese and Malaysian businessmen. – New Straits Times

Xi vows to cement all-round strategic partnership with Malaysia

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 3, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Beijing on Thursday, pledging to boost cooperation with the country in diverse areas and cement their all-round strategic partnership.

Xi hailed the progress of relations since diplomatic ties were established 42 years ago, citing mutual respect, trust, win-win cooperation and close communications.

He urged both countries to maintain frequent high-level exchanges, deepen political trust, keep to the right direction of bilateral relations and continue to support each other on issues related to each other’s major concerns.

Xi called on the two sides to combine their development strategies, and to lay a solid foundation for stronger trade cooperation.

China welcomes Malaysia’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, and is ready to work with the country to increase cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, energy, technology, agriculture and finance, he said.

Xi also urged stronger bilateral cooperation in education, culture, health, media, and in fighting terrorism and cross-border crime.

Najib congratulated the successful convening of the sixth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee last week, and praised China’s economic and social development.

It is proven in practice that socialism with Chinese characteristics is a correct choice for China, he said.

Calling the two countries friendly neighbors and trustworthy friends, he said Malaysia-China ties are currently at their highest level.

Malaysia is glad to see China’s Belt and Road Initiative get a warm response, he said, vowing to facilitate the cooperation in trade, transportation, and port construction, with China under the Belt and Road framework.

Malaysia is committed to boosting ASEAN-China relations, he added.

Najib is on an official visit to China from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5. Xinhua

Najib’s visit reveals feeble US rebalance

Malaysia has agreed to buy four Chinese naval vessels that operate close to shore, after the country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang early this week. Malaysia usually purchased military equipment from the US and the latest move marks its first significant defense deal with China. Some have called it a “new milestone.” The two sides signed 14 agreements worth 231.8 billion yuan ($34.28 billion) on Wednesday, and Najib called it a “historic achievement.”

Commentaries speculating that Najib is becoming the “second Duterte” in Southeast Asia and that Malaysia is “another Asian domino falling toward Beijing” have run wild in mainstream Western media. The New York Times contended that “American efforts to contain Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea depend on a ring of allies, but the region’s united front may be crumbling.”

Najib said in a Chinese media outlet recently that former colonial powers should not “lecture countries they once exploited on how to conduct their own internal affairs today.” The tensions between Malaysia and the US brewed by Washington’s interference in Malaysia’s internal affairs are similar to those between the US and the Philippines caused by the former’s accusation against Duterte’s human rights abuses during its anti-drug campaign.

The US’ sense of superiority in politics and morality often makes it point its fingers at developing countries. In 1993, it forcefully inspected a Chinese freighter suspected by its intelligence service of carrying weapons and ended up finding nothing. It launched attacks on Iraq over its alleged ownership of weapons of mass destruction, but faced the same fate.

Chinese people don’t think that Kuala Lumpur is leaning toward Beijing. China and Malaysia are developing their ties steadily. China has been Malaysia’s biggest trading partner and replaced the US to become its largest investor in 2015. The two have minor territorial disputes but have managed them well. China’s relations with neighboring countries ought to be like this.

Friendly ties between China and Malaysia do not exclude a third party. Defense cooperation, which displays a higher level of strategic mutual trust, should not be labeled as “a turning point for the region.”

The fears of US and Western opinion reveals that the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is eyeing unrealistic goals, which are to form an alliance system in the West Pacific that includes most countries so as to contain China. The West views China as an expansionist imperial state like Japan used to be in the past, and requires regional countries to be “loyal” to Washington.

The rebalancing strategy does not hold water. China has never thought of military expansion as Japan did. It cherishes peace and stability like all regional stakeholders. China is sincere in tackling territorial disputes through peaceful negotiations. A “nightmare” in the South China Sea is nothing but an illusion created by the US and Japan.

Washington should reflect upon itself. It is an external country and its presence in the region should contribute to peace and stability. It will not stay long if it keeps driving a wedge between regional countries. – Global Times

We need to come out against a third world war


Watch Video:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/EpF0U7lUVdk

IS A WAR in the making – a third world war? If there is much talk about such a possibility, it is mainly because of the tensions between the United States and Russia.

Tensions between the two most powerful nuclear states in the world have never been this high since the end of the Cold War in 1989 and the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There are at least two flash points, one more dangerous than the other. In Eastern Ukraine, Russian backed rebels will not surrender to the US supported regime in Kiev because they see US control over Ukraine as part of a much larger agenda to expand Nato power to the very borders of Russia. This has been happening for some years now.

But it is the Washington-Moscow confrontation in Allepo, Syria which portends to a huge conflagration. The US is protective of major militant groups such as Al-Nusra which has besieged Eastern Allepo and is seeking to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government.

Washington has also set its sight on “regime change” in Damascus ever since the latter’s determined resistance to Israeli occupation of the strategic Golan Heights in Syria from 1967.

The drive for regime change intensified with the US-Israeli quest for a “new Middle East” following the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. It became more pronounced in 2009 when Bashar al-Assad rejected a proposal to allow a gas pipe-line from Qatar to Europe to pass through his country, a pipe-line which would have reduced Europe’s dependence upon Russia for gas.

Russia of course has been a long-standing ally of Syria. Together with Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, it is helping the Syrian government to break the siege of Eastern Allepo and to defeat militants in other parts of Syria.

It is obvious that in both instances, in Ukraine and Syria, the US has not been able to achieve what it wants. The US has also been stymied in Southeast Asia where its attempt to re-assert its power through its 2010 Pivot to Asia policy has suffered a serious setback as a result of the decision of the new president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to pursue an independent foreign policy that no longer adheres blindly to US interests.

At the same time, China continues to expand and enhance its economic strength in Asia and the world through its One Belt One Road projects and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and via its leadership of BRICS.

China’s regional and global economic role is leading to its pronounced presence in security and military matters. As a result of all this, the US’s imperial power has clearly diminished. It is a hegemon in decline.

It is because it is not prepared to accept its decline that some US generals are threatening to demonstrate US’s military might. If a hegemon is a danger to humankind when it is at its pinnacle, it becomes an even greater threat to peace when its power is diminishing.

Like a wounded tiger, it becomes even more furious and ferocious. A new US president may be inclined to give vent to this frustration through an arrogant display of military power.

How can we check such wanton arrogance? There will be elements in the elite stratum of US society itself who would be opposed to the US going to war.

We saw a bit of this in 2013 when those who were itching to launch military strikes against Syria based upon dubious “evidence” of the government’s use of chemical weapons were thwarted by others with a saner view of the consequences of war. It is also important to observe that none of the US’s major allies in Europe wants a war.

Burdened by severe challenges related to the economy and migration, the governments know that their citizens will reject any move towards war either on the borders of Russia or in Syria and West Asia.

This also suggests that a self-absorbed European citizenry may not have the enthusiasm to mobilise against an imminent war. Let us not forget that it was in European cities from London to Berlin that the biggest demonstrations against the war in Iraq took place in 2003.

Anti-war protests will have to be initiated elsewhere this time.

Governments in Moscow and Beijing, in Teheran and Jakarta, in Pretoria and La Paz, should come out openly against war. They should encourage other governments in the Global South and the Global North to denounce any move towards a war that will engulf the whole of humanity.

Citizens all over the world should condemn war through a variety of strategies ranging from signature campaigns and letters to the media to public rallies and street demonstrations.

In this campaign against an imminent war, the media, both conventional and alternative, will have a huge role to play.

It is unfortunate that well-known media outlets in the West have supported war in the past. It is time that they atone for their sins!

By Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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China needs strong core leadership: media survey


‘Transitional period demands strong administration’

Chinese people believe that a strong central leadership is indispensable for the rise of the country, and highly anticipate further confirmation of the role of the core leadership by President Xi Jinping during this period of historic significance, according to a poll recently released by a magazine affiliated with the People’s Daily.

The survey, conducted by the People’s Tribune, a magazine affiliated with the newspaper, through questionnaires, face-to-face and telephone interviews, as well as online polls between April 15 and September 8, interviewed 15,596 people living in cities and rural areas. The survey results were released earlier this month.

The main findings were that a strong central leadership as well as a pioneering figure is especially critical for a rising world power, and that as president and general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Xi, with full leadership qualities, is supported whole-heartedly by a wide range of officials and people.

To the question of why a country in a transitional period needs a strong central leadership, most respondents strongly agreed that it is vital to safeguard a country’s sovereignty and national security, putting the approval rate at 4.50, on a 5-point scale from disagree to complete approval, the survey found. This is followed by the number of respondents who think that core leadership is as important to “guide the nation toward a lofty goal” or that it was “particularly important for a populous and multi-ethnic country.”

This year, the necessity for strong leadership has been a theme expounded by many media organizations.

The Guangming Daily on October 9 published a commentary by Fan Dezhi, a senior official at the Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee, which asserted that “A strong core leadership is needed more than ever before to achieve the great dream of the renewal of the Chinese nation.”

To promote the core leadership of the Party, the priority is to “conform with the CPC Central Committee, with General Secretary Xi Jinping as well as with the Party’s theories, guidelines, principles and policies,” read a commentary in the Qiushi Journal in March, the flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee.

Social and political stability, which can be realized by a potent government backed by public support, is the prerequisite for a smooth transition and reform of any country, said Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“Both the rise of great Western powers and the rapid development of developing countries needed a strong core leadership and powerful government,” Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity-Building at Peking University, told the Global Times.

Zhuang cited the examples of Otto von Bismarck who unified Germany in the 19th century and the strong Japanese government that carried out Meiji Restoration to bring about its modernization and Westernization.

China should unwaveringly uphold the CPC’s leadership if it hopes to realize a stable and sustainable development, Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said in March, adding that everyone should conform to the ideology and actions of the CPC Central Committee with Xi as general secretary.

“Since China faces complicated situations in different areas, coupled with a huge population, only a strong core leadership is able to coordinate the interests of different groups while taking full account of the majority of its nationals,” Zhuang noted.

Zhi said a lack of consciousness of “the core” has made a few local officials and Party members fail to follow or strictly implement the policies issued by the CPC Central Committee.

Charismatic leadership

The People’s Tribune poll found that the Chinese people are drawn to the charisma of Xi. The survey found that most respondents believe that Xi has leadership qualities, namely “strategic willpower with full confidence,” “bravery to tackle problems head-on” and “intelligence to cure both the symptoms and root causes of problems.” The list is rounded out by “top-level design with wisdom and philosophy” and “personal charisma to set an example for others.”

When asked which trait is essential for a core leadership to give full play in reality, 79.13 percent of those surveyed said a “leader of integrity and ability.”

In addition, the poll results showed that people from all walks of life highly anticipate the further confirmation of Xi’s role as the core of the leadership.

Without releasing the specific data, the survey found that most respondents believe that officials that lacked “the consciousness of the core” would go astray and lose their sense of responsibility or discipline.

“Only by establishing authority in the CPC Central Committee can the Party and the nation be forceful. In this sense, firmly espousing Xi as the core is a matter of direction, principle and realistic needs,” the magazine quoted anonymous officials who participated in the poll.

Therefore, we should further strengthen the consciousness of the core in the Party and across the country, improve intra-Party political life and the leadership system of the Party and the State, and further confirm Xi’s core role in the critical rise of China, said the survey report. – Global Times.

Xi as core long affirmed by public opinion

All Chinese know clearly that the Xi’s leadership has played a critical role in the changes in China in the past four years and the significance of the word “core” being written into the Party document. The sixth plenum is themed on strict Party governance

The Express Tribune

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Bloated civil sevice in Malaysia must cut down the size and salaries



The Malaysian government can make further spending cuts if it reduces the size of its “bloated” civil service, an economist said. File picture shows Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi meeting civil servants during a Workers’ Day gathering in Penang. May 5, 2015. — Picture by KE Ooi: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/economist-putrajaya-can-tighten-spending-further-by-trimming-bloated-civil

Economist says there is need to cut down further on emoluments

<< Rosario: ‘The size of the Malaysian civil service is that there are five civil servants for every 100 people.’

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has to eventually deal with the issue of the bloated civil service to avoid repercussions later on, said Deutsche Bank’s economist Diana Rose del Rosario.

“Operating expenditure accounts for at least 80% of total expenditure (in the budget) and a big part of it comes from emoluments which account for 26% of total operating expenditure,” Rosario said at the Budgetary Priorities in a Challenging Economic Environment forum hereyesterday.

“The government has actually already tightened spending in this area: it used to grow around 10% year on year between 2010 and 2014. Growth here has since fallen to 5% year on year in 2016 to 2017.

“Success has been there in terms of tightening this area but there remains a great need to (further) cut down on emoluments,” she added.

Rosario said that the bloated size of the civil service in the country is much higher than the average in the Asean region.

“The size of the Malaysian civil service is that there are five civil servants for every 100 people. This is a lot higher than the average in the civil service of the rest of the region with an (average) of around two for every 100 people,” she said.

“There is an urgent need for this government if it continues in the path of fiscal consolidation to strive for a lean and efficient public service,” she added.

Rosario also said that there may be some “upward pressure” from debt service payments under the emoluments section of the expenditure as interest rates are poised to rise due to the stance taken by the US Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, she also said that the retirement pension charges that are poised to rise by 15% next year should be looked at from a wider perspective.

“Although we are not worried that it is driven by a surge in retirees, but if you look at the pace of growth in the younger population the labour force as projected by the United Nations – the younger ones are expected to decelerate at a sustained deceleration in the next five years,” she said.

“This does not bode well for tax collection or domestic demand. There is a need then to boost wages through a boost in productivity to facilitate domestic demand and tax collections,” Rosario said.

At the same event, secretary-general of the Treasury Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar said contingent liabilities by the government are backed by sound assets and companies.

“There may be some pressure by contingent liabilities by the government but those entities that the government provides guarantees for are all strong and credible ones which can pay off their dues.

For example, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Prasarana and MRTcorp (have borrowed) for their big capital items,” he said.

“Although there is pressure but there is no worry in terms of default,” Irwan said.

Commenting also on the issue on jobless graduates and productivity, Irwan said that universities in Malaysia should supply manpower for what is needed for the industries in Malaysia.

“Some of the industries are too reliant on foreign workers.

“We can’t change this overnight and we need more technology here. We should not have universities which do not provide for certain industries that are in demand,” he said.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

Bloated Malaysia Civil Service Presents Headache for Najib

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak. Photographer: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

Public workforce large relative to other Asian peers

Civil servants indispensable support base for Najib’s party

Malaysian Nor Mohamad loved her job with a major Western tech company. But she gave it up after two years, tired of bickering with her parents who felt she’d be better off in the public service.

“It’s boring but stable,” said the master’s degree holder, who is in her thirties and asked not to be fully identified, citing government policy. “Even though I’m not so in love with the job, I’m thankful that in this economic situation there’s no bad impact to my career.”

Malaysia’s civil service employs 1.6 million people, or about 11 percent of the labor force. The jobs provide stability and security, including for ethnic Malays who are the majority of the population. Now the bloated bureaucracy presents a challenge to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib, whose ruling coalition Barisan Nasional has been in power for nearly 60 years with the help of the Malay vote, has pledged to gradually narrow a budget deficit the country has been running since the Asian financial crisis. The commodity-driven $296-billion economy is expected to grow at the slowest pace in seven years in 2016, with lower oil prices eating into revenue.

But trimming the public workforce to improve the government’s coffers is difficult. While Najib has survived a year of political turmoil over funding scandals, he needs the support of Malays to win the next election due by 2018. His party, the United Malays National Organisation, has for decades propagated policies that provide favorable access to education, jobs and housing for Malays and indigenous people, known collectively as Bumiputeras.

“The civil service in Malaysia is intricately jived in with the ethnic policies” of the government, said Jayant Menon, an economist at the Asian Development Bank. “This is a form of ensuring not just employment, but relatively attractive employment.”

About 79 percent of the civil service was made up of Malays as of the end of 2014, with over 11 percent from indigenous Bumiputera groups, the official Bernama news agency reported in March 2015, citing a government minister. About 5.2 percent of public servants were Chinese and 4.1 percent were Indian.

Malaysia’s civil service relative to population is large, at more than double the average in the Asia-Pacific region by some measures, according to Menon. The cost of maintaining it is draining resources at a time government revenues are falling.

Salaries, pensions and gratuities account for about a third of the budget every year, the biggest expenditure item. The government doesn’t regularly publish data on the size of the public service.

Najib has weathered a year of graft allegations over hundreds of millions of dollars that appeared in his personal bank accounts before the last election in 2013, with the claims putting some pressure on his leadership. He denies wrongdoing and was cleared by the country’s attorney-general earlier this year.

Najib’s office didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the civil service. The office of the chief secretary to the government also did not reply to an e-mailed request for comment.

Malaysian officials have previously defended the size of the civil service, which includes teachers, doctors, soldiers and police. Idris Jala, then-minister in the Prime Minister’s office, said in 2014 that it wasn’t bloated even though it could be made more efficient to save the government money.

Najib’s government spent 1.1 billion ringgit ($275 million) to raise salaries for civil servants last month — the biggest rise since 2013 — and increased their minimum starting pay to 1,200 ringgit a month. Like in previous years, public employees received a 500 ringgit special allowance just before the Eid al-Fitr holidays in July, a celebration marking the end of the Muslim fasting month.

‘Support Base’

“The civil service forms an important support base for the government and can usually be counted upon to show up and vote for the ruling party during elections,” said Chia Shuhui, an Asia analyst at BMI Research in Singapore. “The government is not going to cut benefits to their support base, and therefore it is unlikely to make significant changes in terms of its expenditure on the civil service.”

The government has been taking steps to streamline the civil service and improve the efficiency of the public sector as part of its long-term efforts, Chia said.

Given that nothing much could be done to the civil service because of political and ethnic sensitivities, the government should focus on cutting its business exposure through the government-linked corporation divestment program to increase revenue, the ADB’s Menon said.

While UMNO has worked to retain Malay voters, the opposition has also sought to support the bureaucracy. The opposition-controlled Selangor state government pledged a 1.5 month bonus to its civil servants to mark Eid.

In neighboring Thailand, the ruling junta gave the nation’s two million civil servants and soldiers a four percent salary increase in December 2014 at an expected cost of 22.9 billion baht ($659 million). Many civil servants took part in anti-government protests that led to the May 2014 military coup and the junta has since emphasized the need to give bureaucrats greater power over elected officials.

“Civil servants are indeed an indispensable support base for Barisan Nasional in general and UMNO specifically,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “Hence the need to constantly improve their welfare.”

By Pooi Koon Chong Bloomberg

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Supporting women entrepreneurs


One in five SMEs are owned by women, but many tend to be micro-enterprises with limited capital. Extending a helping hand to ensure their success is important because not only would it contribute to economic growth, it would also ensure the well-being of family.

FOLLOWING the talk on women entrepreneurship at our SME Club last May, we joined force with the Secretariat for Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME), of the Prime Minister’s Department, to launch the Women Talentship Workshop on Oct 6 with the aim of encouraging women to participate in entrepreneurship.

The idea is to equip women with the necessary knowledge and skills in order for them to create and run successful businesses.

The workshop was well received. We had about 300 women participating.

Encouragement and support for women in entrepreneurial activties is important. Based on the latest statistics available (Economic Census 2011), nearly one in five SMEs (19.7%) are owned by women. About 92% of these SMEs are involved in the service sector.

Many of these businesses are likely to be unregistered micro-enterprises operating in the home or on temporary premises, with fewer or no employees and limited capital for expansion.

There are several common challenges faced by these small-scale, women-owned businesses. First of all, the women entrepreneurs constantly struggle with finding a balanced role between career and home.

Women are expected to shoulder the burden of being a mother and a homemaker, apart from being a breadwinner or business woman. And this is a challenging task.

Our workshop was intended to encourage women to participate in entrepreneurship while embracing well-balanced roles through three levels of strategy planning and development, i.e. personal discipline, communication discipline, and business discipline.

SAME’s advisor, Grace Chia, who is an advocator and practitioner of entrepreneurship, says the three disciplines are practised by many successful businesswomen.

By personal discipline, one means the ability to identify, acknowledge and understand your own strengths and weaknesses as the first step to finding your niche in business.

We should focus on leveraging on our strengths and finding peers with skills that we lack.

When we talk about communication discipline, we emphasise the ability to communicate in order to achieve a win-win outcome among family members, business partners and customers. You must be able to persuade your team to share your vision, in order to be able to tap the resulting synergy and move towards common goals.

By business discipline, we are refering to the bankability and marketability of your business. Often, many businesses fail to get financing because they lack solid fundamentals in finance and accounting, and consequently the bookkeeping for the company.

Also, the lack of a workable marketing plan may deter the access to financing as well as opportunities for success.

We must be able to prepare a bankable business plan when we want to obtain financing from a third party. A good bankable business plan would include an attractive and convincing business idea, what problems it can solve, how it fits with market needs, what effective and feasible marketing strategies you have, and what the ROI or return on investment is likely to be.

Also, it is essential to show entrepreneurial elements in the business plan when one is applying for financing. This is to help you to differentiate yourself from the usual business plans. More importantly, the entrepreneurial elements suggest that you are serious and have in mind a long-term endeavour rather than just a profit-making plan.

Equally important is to know your products well.

Who are your target groups? How are you going to promote the products to them? We may have good products, but there may not be a market for the products.

We recognise the importance of promoting women entrepreneurship for the reason that the success of women entrepreneurs will contribute to economic growth as well as the well-being of families. There is no reason for us to neglect the talents and capabilities of women, which form half of the population in Malaysia.

Women entrepreneurs should fully utilise government programmes that promote entrepreneurship among women. Some of the government agencies and programmes that aim to assist women entrepreneurship include SAME’s women talentship initiative, SME Corporation’s Skills Upgrading Programme, and Matrade’s Women Exporters Development Programme.

By Michael Kang, who is the national president of the SME Association of Malaysia.


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