Malaysia failed because education ministry didn’t get priorities right !



Daim: Malaysia far from being able to compete globally | The Edge …

Let us not be under any illusions * We are still far from being out of the woods * We are far from being ready for the changes happening around us * We are far from being a united people * We are far from being able to compete at global level * We are far from being able to embrace differences and changes * underpinning all this unpreparedness is education * education key to preparing youth for future * education ministry has failed to prioritise right issues * hindered  progress of reforms within the national education policy


Malaysia far from developed country with unified citizens ready to face industrial challenges of futures said Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Malaysia still playing catch up with 4th IR other countries gearing for 5th IR
Let us not be under any illusions
We are still far from being out of the woods
We are far from being ready for the changes happening around us.
We are far from being a united people

We are far from being able to compete at global level

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is still far from reaching the status of a developed country with a unified citizen that is ready to face the industrial challenges of the future, said Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Daim said Malaysia is still playing catch up with the fourth industrial revolution when other countries are already gearing for the supposed fifth industrial revolution.

“Let us not be under any illusions. We are still far from being out of the woods. We are far from being ready for the changes happening around us.

“We are far from being a united people. We are far from being able to compete at the global level. We are far from being able to embrace differences and changes.

“And underpinning all of this unpreparedness is education,” he said at the launch of the International Conference on Emerging Issues in Public Policy at Universiti Malaya’s Institute of Public Policy and Management.

The former finance minister pointed out that education is the key to preparing the youth for the future. However, he said the education ministry has failed to prioritise the right issues to tackle, which has hindered the progress of reforms within the national education policy.

“We are still arguing over whether we should teach Maths and Science in English, when the rest of the world has embarked on advanced curriculums that focus on Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4) so as to make their youth more competitive and relevant in a world that is going to be dominated by artificial intelligence and robotics,” he said.

“To participate in IR4, we must go through a knowledge-based economy and here Malaysia has failed because the government, through the ministry of education, has not got its priorities right. The education ministry must not fail our nation.

“While we are still mired in the political rhetoric of languages, others around us have moved beyond English or Mandarin or Bahasa Malaysia into the language of programming and coding. When will we realise just how far behind we are and lacking?” Daim added.

In facing the rise of technology in industrialisation, Daim said the government should implement policies that create an environment where people are allowed to maximise their potential and pursue creative pursuits that are complemented by technology, not replaced by it.

The reality is, he said, technology will have the most impact on future employment as robots replace humans in menial tasks. But where one window closes, another opens, he added.

“Fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics, Supply Chain Logistics, and Smart Manufacturing need skilled workers and indeed, the World Economic Forum has estimated that 133 million jobs will emerge as technology advances,” he said.

At the same time, Daim stressed that education is not just for skills development, but it is also for the soul. He said the values, that are instilled in the youth at home and at the school level, will greatly impact on the type of adults they evolve into.

“We must empower them with the ability to think critically, logically, wisely and to make their own informed decisions, no matter the situation. We must raise a new generation of leaders and great thinkers, not of sheep and cowards,” he said.

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Recession fears hit Asian region including Singapore


Malaysia may, to a certain extent, be less vulnerable with the revival of major construction projects which in view of the country’s strained finances, have been shrunk to cut costs. The Singapore economy may undergo a “shallow, technical recession” in the third quarter.

TALK of recession has hit the region, and near home, Maybank Kim Eng Research is flagging that possibility for Singapore in the next quarter.

Export-reliant economies are hard hit by slowing growth and supply chain disruptions caused by the prolonged US-China trade and tech war.

There may be a ceasefire now in the fight between the US and China following talks between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 Summit in Osaka last Saturday.

Existing US tariffs on Chinese imports still remain; additional tariffs on the remaining US$300 bil worth of Chinese imports, as threatened, will not be imposed for now

However, the new timeline for truce remains elusive; the suspicion is that of a “creeping” imposition of tariffs, as “each truce is followed by new tariffs and then, another truce.”

In December last year, Trump and Xi had struck a truce following which talks broke down in May this year, and tariffs on US$200bil of Chinese imports leaped from 10% to 25%.

Will there be light out of this tunnel, with harder issues involving tech and supremacy not tackled? Smaller economies with the fiscal and monetary space may be able to cushion their economies somewhat from the downdraft on growth.

Malaysia may, to a certain extent, be less vulnerable with the revival of major construction projects which in view of the country’s strained finances, have been shrunk to cut costs.

The Bandar Malaysia and East Coast Rail Link projects to be revived, are now downsized to RM144bil and RM44bil respectively.

Works for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 3, from Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya to Johan Setia in Klang, will resume in the second half of the year, at a reduced cost of RM16.63bil.

Talks are said to be ongoing to revive the Mass Rapid Transit Line (MRT) 3, or MRT Circle Line round the city centre, at possibly RM22.5bil which is half the original cost.

“The timing (of the revival of these projects) has been very good for Malaysia,’’ said Pong Teng Siew, the head of research at Inter-Pacific Securities. “These projects will go on for several years and positively impact the economy over that period.’’

Domestic spending and activities will provide ‘some comfort’ to the local economy but we should ensure that any further monetary easing actually goes into the real economy to support these activities, according to Anthony Dass, head of AmBank Research.

Malaysia’s private consumption was at a record 59.5% of its nominal (calculated at current market prices) Gross Domestic Product, which hit US$88.5 bil in March, 2019, according to CEIC Data.

Benefits from trade diversion from China, the current US tariff hotspot, are offset by downward pressure on global trade where volume was flat in the first quarter, the weakest since the financial crisis.

Global semiconductor sales also declined in February and March, the first back-to-back double digit contraction since the financial crisis.

In view of this decline, the volatile global trade environment and rising geopolitical tensions, open economies “should be prepared for the unexpected,’’ said Nor Zahidi Alias, the associate director of economic research of Malaysian Rating Corp.

The Singapore economy may undergo a “shallow, technical recession” in the third quarter, said Maybank Kim Eng, pointing to possible intensification of supply chain disruptions and US export controls on more Chinese tech firms.

Following the Trump-Xi talks, the US has reversed its equipment sales ban on Huawei but will that ease fears of other similar bans down the road? Defined as two consecutive quarters of negative quarter-on-quarter growth, a recession will prompt further easing of monetary policy in Singapore.

Manufacturing in Singapore, which accounts for a fifth of the economy, fell 2.4%, with electronics dropping 10.8% in May from a year ago; output is expected to decline again in June.

Hong Kong has also been issued warnings of recession, as its economy experienced the largest contraction since 2011, declining by 0.4% in the first quarter against the previous quarter.

Thailand’s economy grew at its slowest pace in four years, in the first quarter, hitting 2.8% from 3.6% in the same period last year; exports remain weak.

Taiwan’s economy avoided contraction in the first quarter but private consumption and gross capital formation slowed significantly while government consumption declined.

In the US, a mis-calibration in interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve can cause a sharper slowdown than expected or bring on a recession.“Monetary policy affects the economy with unpredictable lags, it could be hard for the Fed to time its policy (rate cut) that can prevent a downturn this and next year,’’ said Lee Heng Guie, the executive director of Socio Economic Research Center.

Columnist Yap Leng Kuen notes the reminder to ‘expect the unexpected.’

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Crime and cost of living are top concerns for Malaysians – Ipsos Global Research


Global market and opinion research spec

PETALING JAYA: Corruption is no longer the top concern for Malay­sians as crime and the cost of living have taken over as more pressing issues, says an independent market research firm.

Ipsos Sdn Bhd, in its What Worries The World survey, found that the top five concerns of Mal­aysians this year were crime and violence (39%), inflation and the cost of living (34%), corruption (32%), poverty and equality (31%) and unemployment and jobs (28%).

The survey noted that corruption, which was ranked as a top concern among those in the central region, non-bumiputras and those with a household income of more than RM5,000, had fallen to third place due to significant measures made by the government to address the issue.

Inflation is the “biggest concern” of urban Malay­sians, particularly youths and those in the low household income bracket.

“Corruption has dropped significantly by 15%. Now, only 32% feel that corruption is their main concern.“For crime and violence, it is only the positioning but it has remained the same between what it was now and before,” Ipsos managing director Arun Menon (pic) said during a press conference yesterday.

Founded in France, Ipsos is a global research group with offices in 89 countries delivering insights across various specialisations.

Among other studies Ipsos has conducted in Malaysia are the What Worries Malaysia: Post-GE 2018 survey in August 2018.

It had tracked the sentiments of Malaysians bef­ore and after GE14, as well as 100 days following the change of government.

The What Worries The World survey is Ipsos’ international monthly poll of 20,000 adults under the age of 65 in 28 countries, including Malaysia.

A total of 1,500 Malaysians were asked about their perception of what worried the nation the most.

The survey also found that Malaysians believed the country was headed in the wrong direction, with the figures increasing from 25% in June last year to 43% in March this year.

“Between March and last month, the people who are most upset about the country’s direction were the younger generation across different incomes, specifically people of the middle and upper education,” Menon said.

The survey also noted that the perception of the country heading in the wrong direction was gaining mom­entum and that Malaysia was getting closer to the global average.

The poll said the global average of people who thought their country is on the wrong track was at 58%.
What Worries the World – March 2019

New global poll finds four concerns top the world’s worry list: financial/political corruption, poverty/social inequality, unemployment, crime/violence. Meanwhile, in most countries surveyed (22 of 28) the majority think that their nation is on the wrong track.

The Ipsos What Worries the World study finds the majority of people across the participating 28 nations feel their country is on the wrong track (58% on average), with South Africa (77%), France (77%), Spain (76%), Turkey (74%) and Belgium (74%) recording the greatest levels of apprehension. There are, however, wide-ranging disparities in scores across the globe.

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

Right Direction

    • China (94%) inspires the most confidence about its national direction. More than 9 in 10 Chinese citizens say that China is moving in the right direction.
    • Saudi Arabia (84%) is once more in second place followed by India (73%) and Malaysia (57%).
    • India and Sweden are the are nations with the greatest month on month increase in positive sentiment of all 28 countries, with both reporting an 8-point increase in those seeing the nations as heading in the right direction.
  •         Notable rises in citizens considering their country as headed in the right    direction are also seen in China (94%) and Hungary (28%) – both reporting a 6-point increase.


Wrong Track

    • At the other end of the spectrum, South African, French, Spanish, Turkish and Belgian nationals have the greatest apprehension about the direction taken by their country. Just 23% of South African and French citizens consider their nations to be heading in the right direction, followed by 24% in Spain and 26% in both Turkey and Belgium.
  •          Mexico (56%) has seen the biggest fall in optimism— with a reduction of 12% from a positive sentiment spike reported last month (68%).There are also 6-point falls in both Italy and Canada.

The four major worries for global citizens are:

  1. Financial/ Political corruption (34%). South Africa (69%) has the most citizens apprehensive about this issue, followed by on Peru 63% and Hungary on 60%. Canadians (30%) have the greatest month on month increase in this concern, with a rise of 11 percentage points. Germans (9%) are the least worried citizens along with Great Britain (14%) and Sweden (15%).
  2. Poverty/Social Inequality (34%). The greatest levels of anxiety are held in Russia (58%), Hungary (56%) and Serbia (54%). Sweden (19%) and Saudi Arabia (20%) are the least concerned nations in this area followed by the US (21%). In terms of trend, we observe a strong 8-point increase in concern in this area in Hungary.
  3. Unemployment (33%). The highest levels of worry are seen in Italy (69%), South Korea (66%) and Spain (61%). Turkish citizens (+7%) and Argentinians (+6%) are the nations which have recorded the greatest month on month increase in this issue. The US public and Germans (11%) are the least concerned, followed by citizens in Great Britain (14%) Sweden (15%) and Poland (15).
  4. Crime & Violence (31%), The highest levels of worry in this issue are seen in Mexico (64%) – closely followed by Peru (62%) and Chile (59%). China (22%) records the largest increase in anxiety with an increase of 11 percentage points from the previous month. There are other increases in Chile (+9), Malaysia (+9) and Turkey (+7). Concerns around crime are lowest in Russia and Hungary (8%), and Poland (11%). The greatest falls in this issue come from Poland (-10) and Serbia (-9).

Top five global issues

  1. Financial/ Political corruption (34%)
  2. Poverty/Social Inequality (34%)
  3. Unemployment (33%)
  4. Crime & Violence (31%)
  5. Healthcare (24%)

The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The 28 countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. 20,019 interviews were conducted between February 22nd, 2019 – March 8th, 2019 among adults aged 18-64 in Canada, Israel and the US, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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What Worries the World – March 2019

 

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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

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Middle class malady


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

The economic future of the country looks scary, and if the young bankrupts and imminent retires are not atteended to soon, we could be in truly tough times.

THE economy is the most talked about topic among Malaysians, with issues including the increasing cost of living, shrinking ringgit, continuing weak economy and sadly, the endless politicking.

While attention has been cast on the Bottom 40, or the group known as B40, as they make up the lowest earners, the middle class, the Middle 40, or M40, shouldn’t be forgotten either.

Malaysians are categorised into three different income groups: Top 20% (T20), Middle 40% (M40), and Bottom 40% (B40).

To be in T20, a household’s monthly income should at least be RM13,148, while the M40 and B40 groups have raised their bars to RM6,275 and RM3,000 respectively.

We don’t need a survey to know that the people in the bottom half of M40 and B40 are barely making ends meet and struggling to maintain a decent lifestyle.

At the lowest end, 70% of these poorest are the bumiputeras, while the rest are Chinese and Indians, which proves the poor comprises all races.

The M40 – which forms 40% of Malaysia’s population – includes mostly wage earners, in both public and private sectors.

The bulk of their income goes to paying the car and housing loans, rent, and groceries. After deductions from the essential bills, such as phone, Astro, petrol, and children’s education, there’s barely anything left to save.

It’s harder for those who need to take care of their ageing parents, a noble endeavour which naturally includes settling healthcare bills, and even expenses for care takers.

And since the majority of the M40 lives in the cities, the household income of RM6,275 is almost negligible, and they can hardly be faulted for feeling that their standard of income has dipped drastically while the cost of living has increased.

The M40 essentially comprises the most frustrated lot since most aid goes to the B40, leaving the former feeling adrift and on their own.

Most of them don’t have alternative revenue streams besides their monthly wages, and they are dependent on corporate performances, so the overall economy is key.

They are unlikely to care that the Department of Statistics’ Household Income and Basic Amenities survey indicated that the mean income of households in 2016 reached RM6,958, a 6.2% annual appreciation from RM6,141 in 2014.

The survey also revealed the incidences of poverty decreased from 0.6% of the population in 2014 to 0.4% in 2016. Compared with the population of 30.7 million in 2014 and 31.7 million in 2016 (from the same portal), the numbers also decreased from 184,200 to 126,800 from 2014 to 2016.

The 11th Malaysia Plan (2016 – 2020) Mid-Term Review stated that the mean household income is predicted to reach RM8,960 by 2020.

The term “middle class” has different meaning and measurement to economists and academics from those classified in the M40 category.

As one analyst rightly pointed out, a household of four living in the Klang Valley with an income of RM4,000 per month, would be classified as urban poor due to the higher cost of living. However, that income would be comfortable to live in Pasir Mas or even Taiping.

It won’t be wrong to suggest that at RM4,000, that’s only enough for a single person to live in the Klang Valley.

We need to understand that the key people driving the country’s economy are the middle-income and top earners, many of whom feel they have fallen between the cracks of progress.

At every Budget, they seem to be the forgotten Malaysians, and each year, they hope for lower level tax bands for themselves, so they can have extra disposable income, but that never happens.

Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) State of Households 2018 revealed a steady increase in the income gaps between the Top 20% (T20), M40 and B40 groups since the 1970s. In 2000, the estimated real mean household income differences between T20 and M40, M40 and B40, and T20 and B40, were RM6,000, RM2,000 and RM8,000 respectively.

By 2016, however, it increased to RM9,000, RM4,000 and RM13,000.

These figures show that T20 households are gaining wealth at a faster rate than the rest.

Despite the improvement in mean household income figures, the gap between income groups continues to rise, and the survey added that “the escalating cost of living has put financial pressure on the M40 and B40 groups.”

“With income growing at a slower pace compared with the cost of living, the M40 and B40 groups are experiencing an abridged disposable income, which could be detrimental to future consumption, activity, emergency or debt services.”

Combining data from the Department of Statistics’ Household Income survey (2016 and 2014) and KRI household reports (concerning population increase), it’s clear that the percentage of households living under the 60% median grew from 2014 to 2016 by 41.8% to 43.5%, with an estimated 2.8 million households in 2014 and three million households in 2016.

The increase also suggests that more M40 households have slipped into the B40 category – and this is where the alarm bells go off.

In the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020), targeted subsidies, cash handouts, healthcare benefits, education, along with employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, include the usual strategies to ease the burden of B40 households.

One of the major concerns among the young M40 family is that they can no longer afford to buy a “middle class” home, and the difficulties have been aggravated by how they need to live relatively close to their workplace.

As much as the government expects housing developers to build affordable houses, let’s not forget that most of these developers have bought land at premium prices, and as private concerns, they still need to make profits.

But homes in Malaysia have become “seriously unaffordable” by international standards, and there’s no need to point fingers at developers when the governments have basically failed to do the job, unlike Singapore’s Housing Development Board (HDB), which builds and upkeeps flats that don’t degenerate into urban slums.

Their HDB flats are so well-designed and maintained that they can pass off as high-end apartments by Malaysian standards.

Bank Negara reported that from 2007 to 2016, house prices grew by 9.8% while household income only increased by 8.3%. While developers blamed rising construction costs – including labour outlay – and stagnant salaries for the increase in house prices, all this means nothing to the M40, because ultimately, they still can’t buy houses.

The rent-to-own scheme which the B40 has enjoyed from the low cost houses, needs to be extended to the M40, so they, too, can enjoy the same benefits, and while such help is expected to come via PRIMA Corp, a federal government-linked developer which supposedly caters for M40, it’s still falling behind schedule.

While it could be easy for the M40 to request more support, including allowances for school-going children, and even free student passes for public transport, it’s time that financial literacy be introduced at school level.

A study by S&P Global Literacy Financial in 2014 showed that the financial literacy rate in Malaysia is only at 36%, compared with 59% in developed countries.

“The low financial literacy rate is among the factors that has contributed towards high levels of debt – including worrying bankruptcy problems – among the youth.

“Between 2013 and 2017, a total of 100,610 Malaysians were declared bankrupt, of which 60% were between 18 and 44 years old,” according to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Apart from the youth, Lim noted that older Malaysians are also facing serious financial challenges, particularly when it comes to their retirement.

Based on estimates by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), he said that as of 2019, an individual requires savings of at least RM240,000 by age 55 to retire comfortably.

However, based on the EPF 2017 Report, active contributors aged 54, have average savings of only RM214,000 in their accounts.

“What is even more worrying is that two-thirds of contributors aged 54, only have RM50,000 and below in their EPF accounts in 2015,” he reportedly said, adding that this was well below the recommended amount for savings.

Lim noted tha the low amount of savings was inadequate and estimated it to run out within five years of retirement, although the average life-span of Malaysians is 75.

Basically, the B40, M40 and, our young and old Malaysians, are all either grappling with financial problems, don’t know how to handle their money, or don’t even earn enough in the first place.

This is unlike the situation for the T20, which has disposable income where their wealth encourages investment and wealth creation, the main principles of the T20 group.

But of all people, politicians should know the importance of the people wanting to have money in their pockets and feeling well heeled.

Easier loan payments, good refinancing packages and transport allowances should be considered to help the M40.

If the market continues to slide, there will be many unhappy people, and the resentment will translate to protest votes. For them, it simply means the government is doing a lousy job, and they couldn’t care less for the reasons, however valid they may be.

Wong Chun WaiWong 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 editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer.

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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Employees believe Huawei will survive widespread bans in West with ‘Wolf spirit’ culture


A true multinationalNewspaper headline:

A Huawei Technologies Co logo sits on display inside an electronic goods store in Berlin on December 17. Photo: VCG

Former Huawei employee in US laments government’s ‘endless assaults on the company’


○ Huawei’s so-called ‘wolf culture’ helped it become successful in foreign countries

○ The top global telecom equipment provider has been going through a tough year in 2018

○ Chinese and foreign employees hold different views on Huawei’s rapid expansion and aggressive corporate strategy

When Jason Li was assigned to the Mobile World Congress at the beginning of 2011, shortly after he joined China’s Huawei Technologies, he impressed Ren Zhengfei, the former military officer who founded the company in 1987, with a presentation about the company’s products in English.

“He [Ren] came to the company’s stand the day before the congress kicked off and asked me where I studied before joining the company. I said New Zealand,” Li said, noting that Ren immediately suggested that this newly recruited employee should fly to the UK office and help build a local talent center as part of Huawei’s global expansion.

The Shenzhen-based company has experienced a rapid expansion over the past 30 years, and has footprints in more than 170 countries and regions. However, it has been under the spotlight recently as Meng Wanzhou – its chief financial officer – was arrested by the Canadian authorities in Vancouver on December 1 at the request of the US on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions.

Under pressure from the US, more governments in the West have been considering blocking Huawei’s core products over security concerns, which is considered as a major setback in its development into a multinational giant.

Former employees of Huawei like Li spent years working overseas, and describe Huawei’s corporate culture as a “wolf culture” that helped it become successful.

However, this “wolf culture” also sparked controversy, and might have harmed its current operations.

Arduous journey

When Li started working at Huawei’s London office, he started everything from zero. From 2012 to 2014, he had traveled to over 20 countries and spent most of his days in countless hotels and airports, sacrificing much of his spare time to reach out to more foreign telecom carriers and companies.

“As soon as I left Egypt after a business trip to Cairo years ago, the country plunged into civil conflict, and some of my former coworkers were stuck in the hotel. And one time in Nigeria, we were exposed to yellow fever,” he told the Global Times, referring to those days at Huawei as an unforgettable memory.

Long working hours on challenging projects with constant business trips to remote areas are common descriptions of the workplace culture at the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker.

“Employees at Chinese telecom companies such as Huawei and ZTE endured hardships in an earlier stage of global expansion,” Xiang Ligang, a veteran industry analyst close to Huawei, told the Global Times in a recent interview.

Ren, the founder of Huawei, is considered one of the most successful Chinese executives during the country’s reform and opening-up. He was influenced by the military theories of Mao Zedong, according to a book on Huawei’s development published in April.

Like Mao’s military theories, which advocated taking small and medium cities and extensive rural areas first as part of a revolution, Ren started from remote and less developed areas to avoid fierce competition with foreign rivals.

“In some countries in Africa and South America, telecom operators could not afford expensive products. They also lacked staff members for maintenance and operations. This gave more room for companies like Huawei and ZTE, which continuously assigned staff to those areas, to grow,” Xiang said.

Huawei beat Ericsson and Nokia in the global mobile infrastructure market in 2017, as the Chinese company took 28 percent of the market share and became the largest mobile infrastructure provider worldwide, according to the latest industry report from IHS.

“In the early days, Huawei assigned most of its senior executives to the overseas market to explore business opportunities,” Xiang said, noting that accepting these assignments later became an unwritten rule.


Lingering conflicts

Huawei’s corporate culture has a long-lasting influence on its staff. An former employee who worked as a programmer at Huawei’s then headquarters in Nanshan district, Shenzhen in the early 2000s said that he worked for Huawei for about one year and a half shortly after he graduated from college but the short experience there has instilled a lasting impact on his future career. He learned to be hardworking, persistent and low-key.

Even after he left Huawei, he sometimes, as if he had been brainwashed, still would read aloud the internal letters written by Ren Zhengfei circulated online to his then-girlfriend-now-wife, partly as a way to woo and impress her, and partly as a way to draw inspiration and strength for himself.

The employee in his early 40s who only spoke on condition of anonymity said he worked long hours from about 10 am to 10 pm every working day at Huawei. When he was tired, he would sleep on the mattress under his desk. “All co-workers did the same, especially the managers,” he said. “When a new project kicked in, we would work overnight.”

This so-called wolf spirit – a high-pressure workplace – is also known as a “mattress culture,” as many of its engineers work so hard that they use blankets and mattresses to sleep at the office. And this military-style management was sometimes rejected by its foreign staff overseas, which led to deeper culture clashes.

“As far as I know about this so-called military style management, it’s implementing the corporate policy in the most efficient way,” Li said.

For example, when he worked at the company’s London office, all the staff there were required to punch in and out every day, following strict discipline.

“Sometimes, foreign employees preferred more flexible working hours, especially when it was bad weather. But the headquarters rejected this request,” he said, noting that localizing its business in foreign markets was a bumpy road over some similar daily issues.

For some foreign employees, being part of a growing Chinese company is still remarkable experience.

“I have great respect for what the company has achieved… Huawei’s growth and expansion have been amazingly impressive. It was exciting to be a part of that,” William Plummer, the company’s former US vice president of external affairs, told the Global Times.

Plummer, who is considered an eight-year veteran bridging the Chinese company with the US government, was reportedly laid off by Huawei in April amid rising tension between China and the US.

He noted that the experience with Huawei was sometimes frustrating both “due to the US government’s endless assaults on the company, and the company’s inability to trust and listen to non-Chinese experts in dealing with such matters.”

The company has been going through a tough year in 2018. In January, major US carrier AT&T suspended potential cooperation with Huawei in its mobile business over security concerns.

And the “Five Eyes” nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US) decided to take aim at all Chinese telecoms equipment companies. Australia slashed its use of Chinese-made products in August, followed by New Zealand and the UK.

In particular, the US government targeted Huawei for years, as American counterintelligence agents and prosecutors began exploring possible cases against its leadership back in 2010, according to the New York Times.


Focus on own work

After Meng’s arrest, several of Huawei’s Chinese employees shared posts on their social media accounts to support each other, claiming that the company can definitely get through this difficult time.

“It will survive widespread bans in Western countries … and we should focus on our own work,” a current employee at the company told the Global Times.

Some observers suggested that Huawei’s foreign and Chinese staff, who often hold different attitudes in the workplace, may see its struggles in a different light.

Many Chinese staff work very hard overseas because of Huawei’s incentive stock options. “Three years after I joined Huawei, I earned about 300,000 yuan ($43,500) a year, and my bonus was almost the same as my basic salary,” said a former Chinese employee “Eric,” who worked at Huawei from 2009 to 2013 and spent a year in Mumbai, India.

Working long hours is driven by growing business. Many employees understand that the better financial performance Huawei has, the more profits its employees could share in accordance to employee stock ownership plans.

However, to become a true global tech firm, Huawei will need to diversify its leadership, Plummer suggested.

As the case of Meng has entered the judicial system, some believe that Huawei’s situation will get worse, even though there is no proof for the US allegations.

Looking into this dilemma, the company’s aggressive and customer-centered business strategies might have helped its take over as much market share as possible.

“But in the long run, as a private company that insists on not going public, its opaque financial status also raises questions over its sustainability,” Eric said.

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times

Newspaper headline: A true multinational

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Malaysia’s widening income gap between rich and the poor has only RM76 a month after expenses


 

The State of Households – Khazanah Research Institute

 

Launch of State of Households 2018: Different Realities. From left to right: Datuk Hisham Hamdan, Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, Allen Ng, Dr Suraya Ismail, Junaidi Mansor.

Malaysia’s widening income gap

KUALA LUMPUR: The gap in income between the rich, middle class and poor in Malaysia has widened since 2008, according to a study by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).

In its “The State of Households 2018” report, the research outfit of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd noted that the gap in the real average income between the top-20% households (T20) and the middle-40% (M40) and bottom-40% (B40) households in Malaysia has almost doubled compared to two decades ago.

The report, entitled “Different Realities”, pointed out that while previous economic crises in 1987 and the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis saw a reduction in the income gap between the T20 and B40/M40, post 2008/09 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), those disparities were not reduced.

But the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality in the country, had declined from 0.513 in 1970 to 0.399 in 2016, denoting improvement in income inequality in Malaysia over the past 46 years.

Explaining the phenomenon, Allen Ng, who is the lead author of the KRI report, said income of the T20 households had continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than that of the M40 and B40 since 2010.

“However, because they (the T20) started at a higher base, the income gap between the T20 and M40/B40 had continued to grow despite the fact that the relative (income growth) is actually narrowing post-GFC,” Ng explained at a press conference after the launch of the report here yesterday.

On that note, Ng calls for greater emphasis and investment in human capital to address the income disparities in the country.

“Human capital is the lynchpin that will help us in the next mile of development,” Ng said.

“Based on the work that we have done, and the way we read the issue, the most important equaliser in terms of income inequality is actually human capital. If we don’t address the quality of our education system, we will not be able to solve the problem of income inequality,” he added.

Among the many key issues highlighted in the report, the state of human capital development in Malaysia was noted as a crucial element to complement the country’s transition towards a knowledge-based economy.

“To complement the knowledge-based economy, the state of human capital development in this country – of which 20% of government expenditure goes to education – has plenty of room for improvement,” the report stated.

Worryingly, the report noted that despite Malaysians receiving 12 years of schooling, they receive only nine years’ worth of schooling after adjusting for education quality.

“The central issue of generating high-quality human capital in this country is an important one as the transition to a high-income nation requires human capital levels that continuously improve productivity, sustain growth and are able to create or utilise technological advancements rather than being substituted by it,” the report said.

Meanwhile, KRI also noted that despite the improvement in income inequality and declining poverty rates in Malaysia, poverty in the country remained rampant.

“While the absolute poverty rate has been steadily declining, it is estimated that an additional one million households lived in ‘relative poverty’ in 2016 compared to two decades ago,” it said in its report.-  The Star

Malaysia’s Lower Income Group Only Has RM76 To Spend A Month After Expenses

Shocking.
Some numbers for your soul.- PIC: Department of Statistics Malaysia

According to The Star Online, these households — categorised under the bottom 40% (B40) income group in the country because they are earning less than RM2,000 a month — only have RM76 to spare, after deductions, in 2016.

As comparison, these households have a residual income of RM124 in 2014.

The reason for the sharp decline? They were forced to spend more of their income on household items.

The study revealed that these households are spending 95 per cent of their total  income on consumption items in 2016 compared to 2014, when the same households spend ‘only’ 92 per cent of their income on daily items.
So, what’s the cause behind this worrying trend?

The report indicated that the rising cost of living is mainly to be blamed for the increase in household expenditure, so #ThanksNajib.

In fact, the report revealed that the high cost of living has affected not only the B40, but all income groups as well.

The real residual household income has, according to the report, reduced
for all income classes. For example, households earning above RM15,000
has a real resi­dual income of RM13,100 in 2016, down from RM14,458 in
2014.

Sigh, we guess we just have to spend our money wisely from now on. No more RM16 Caramel Frappuccino® from Starbucks from now on.

Money, where did you go?

We know we keep saying that we’re broke, but after reading this report, we found out that there are a lot of people out there who are having it worse than us.

A recent Khazanah Research Insti­tute (KRI) study revealed that every month, the average lower-income household in Malaysia has barely enough to survive after household expenses are deducted.

It’s, like, really, really bad!
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