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

Read more  

 

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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China should be confident in this: As long as China maintains steady peripheral diplomacy, the US can do nothing to China and Beijing will gain the initiative in diplomacy toward Washington.

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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!
Related:

We need a complete overhaul of our education system, says NUTP – Nation

 

Malaysia’s widening income gap between rich and poor – Business …

 

 

 

The Damocles index by Nomura warns of fiscal tension in Malaysia, score accross coountries, the hits and misses 1996~20118


PETALING JAYA: Allowing a larger fiscal deficit and running the risk of a sovereign credit rating downgrade in 2019 could cause balance of payments stress, given Malaysia’s high short-term external debts and low foreign exchange (forex) reserves, said Nomura.

Following the reversal of fiscal reforms like goods and services tax (GST) and the removal of fuel subsidies, the new government now faces the tough choice of either cutting spending at the cost of growth, or allowing a larger fiscal deficit and the risk of a sovereign credit rating downgrade in 2019.

According to a Nomura global research report, Malaysia’s Damocles score in July 2018 was 86.9, below the 100 threshold.

The Damocles index by Nomura summarises macroeconomic and financial variables into a single measure to assess an economy’s vulnerability to a currency crisis.

The oil price slump of 2014 to 2016 was a major shock for Malaysia, one of the few net-oil and gas exporters in Asia.

“While Bank Negara initially expanded forex reserves to defend the ringgit, it eventually allowed a sharp depreciation in 2015 which boosted export competitiveness.

“Malaysia has proved resilient and its current account remained in surplus, benefiting from a diversified economy and fiscal reforms,” said Nomura.

Three countries in the region, namely, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, have a Damocles score of zero, while Vietnam has a moderate Damocles score of 35.

The Bank of Thailand is signalling policy normalisation to build policy space and reduce financial stability risks following a prolonged period of exceptionally low interest rates. This is as headline consumer price index (CPI) inflation returned to within the 1% to 4% inflation target and economy growing at potential.

Thailand’s current account surplus as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) has been sizeable since 2015, driven by weak domestic demand and, more recently, growing tourism revenues as well as an export recovery.

“Over this period, forex reserves rose sharply, and they are now at very favourable adequacy levels relative to both imports and short-term external debts.

“The fiscal deficit is expected to widen slightly in 2018, as the government increases spending to support populist policies targeting low-income earners, in the run-up to the election in early 2019,” said Nomura, adding that real interest rates are falling gradually and remain marginally positive, as inflationary pressures have been stubbornly weak.

Over in Indonesia, a negative terms-of-trade shock in 2014 raised the Damocles score in 2014 to 2016, but it has fallen back to zero due to Bank Indonesia’s build-up of forex reserve buffers and government reforms that improved foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.

While depreciation pressures have risen again in 2018, BI has acted decisively with 125 basis points in policy rate hikes to date.

“We expect another 25 basis points, with the risk of more.

“Bank Indonesia maintains a flexible forex regime and a dual-intervention framework in forex and bond markets, as well as introduced macro-prudential measures, like requiring residents to hedge external exposure,” said Nomura.

The research house added that Bank Indonesia has also strengthened policy coordination with the Finance Ministry, which is implementing policies to reduce the current account deficit, while prioritising a credible 2019 budget despite upcoming presidential elections.

Sword of Damocles hangs over Sri Lanka

PETALING JAYA: Sri Lanka is at risk of an exchange rate crisis mainly due to its still-weak fiscal finances and a fragile external position.

Sri Lanka charted the highest Damocles score of 175, among 30 emerging market (EM) economies.

The Damocles index by Nomura summarises macroeconomic and financial variables into a single measure to assess an economy’s vulnerability to a currency crisis.

A score above 100 suggests a country is vulnerable to an exchange rate crisis in the next 12 months, while a reading above 150 signals that a crisis could erupt at any time.

Sri Lanka has large refinancing needs, with foreign exchange (forex) reserves of less than five months of import cover and high short-term external debt of US$ 7.5bil.

“Political stability also remains an issue, as recent resignations have weakened the government (its term ends mid-2020) and despite retaining a simple majority, complicates the task of continuing to implement International Monetary Fund (IMF)-induced reforms.

“However, without IMF support, the risk of a currency crisis would be higher,” said Nomura in its global research report.

Meanwhile, South Africa, Argentina, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine are currently vulnerable to an exchange rate crisis, having Damocles scores of more than 100.

“Based on our definition, Argentina and Turkey are experiencing currency crises, while Argentina, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Ukraine have turned to the IMF for assistance, leaving Pakistan and South Africa as the standouts.

“As investors focus more on risk, it is important not to lump all EMs together as one homogeneous group; Damocles highlights a long list of countries with very low risk of currency crises,” said Nomura.

Eight countries, namely, Brazil, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Peru, Philippines, Russia and Thailand, have Damocles scores of zero.

It is notable that China’s Damocles index has maintained since dropping to 36.9 in late 2017 from 62.4 in October 2017.

The index far below the 100 threshold suggests that the risk of an exchange rate crisis in China is limited.

Nomura concurred that China’s balance of payment position remains healthy, given it has the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves at US$3.1 trillion, as of July 2018.

“However, we highlight that its pockets are not as deep as they once were, given that current account deficits at minus 0.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first half of 2018 may occur more frequently, net direct investment inflows may moderate further, and external debt has risen significantly.

“Moreover, we see domestic challenges from weakening aggregate demand and other fundamental problems, and external risks from the escalation in China-US trade tensions and trade protectionism,” said Nomura.

As for India, its Damocles score has fallen to 25 in the third quarter of 2018, from 56 during 2012 to 2013.

India’s most recent currency crisis occurred in 2013 and was due to weak domestic macro fundamentals and worsening external funding conditions. Since then, consumer price index (CPI) inflation has moderated to about 4.5% in 2018 from 9.7% in 2012, as has the current account deficit at an estimated -2.5% of GDP, compared to minus 5% in 2012. Furthermore, India’s central bank has a sufficient forex reserve buffer of 9.3 months of import cover versus 6.4 in 2012.

“However, given India runs a current account deficit, it remains vulnerable to bouts of global risk aversion. Higher oil prices and portfolio outflows are its key external vulnerabilities.

“Aside from these, the key risks stem from the government turning more populist ahead of the 2019 general elections (worsening domestic fundamentals) and a sharper-than-expected domestic growth slowdown (triggering equity outflows),” said Nomura.

The Damocles index comprises eight indicators that are found to be the best predictors of exchange rate crises in the 30-country sample, in which there have been 54 crises since 1996. It includes five single indicators which are import cover, short-term external debt or exports, forex reserves or short-term external debt, broad money or forex reserves and real short-term interest rate.

On the other hand, the three joint indicators are non-foreign direct investment (FDI) gross inflows of one-year and three-year, fiscal and current account, as well as current account and real effective exchange rate deviation. To date, Damocles has correctly signalled 67% of the past 54 crises in Nomura’s sample, including the Asian financial crisis (1997 to 1998), Russian financial crisis (1998) and the 2018 EM currency crises in Argentina and Turkey.

“The advantage of Damocles lies in its objective nature in letting the data speak, not clouded by conventional misperceptions or biases based on past experiences. While the results achieved are encouraging, but given the inherent limitations of any early warning system, it would be foolish to make any exaggerated claims.

“For instance, Brazil’s Damocles score of zero implies very low external vulnerability; yet the Brazilian real (BRL) has depreciated more than 10% in August alone due to an uncertain presidential election outlook,” said Nomura. – The Star

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Govt-linked companies (GLCs) shake-up as they sing a different tune


EPF Building in Kuala Lumpur.- Art Chen / The Star..
On the rise: A man walks past the Employees
Provident Fund headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Remuneration of GLC chiefs,
senior management and directors have been on the uptrend following a
transformation initiative to make them more competitive commercially. 

 

Overpaid CEOs and social duties of GLCs set for review

The new government has clearly said that there is a need to review the role of GLCs and the remuneration paid out to their top executives

A GLANCE at one of the annual reports of the country’s government-linked companies (GLCs) reveals that its chief human resource officer earned close to a million ringgit or about RM80,000 per month, last year.

Other senior personnel were also compensated with generous remuneration, with its chief executive taking home over one and the half million ringgit in financial year 2017.

More importantly, this was at a company that had courted much controversy in recent times over allegations of mismanagement and under-performance.

Such a scenario, however, is not uncommon at GLCs, where remuneration of key executives tend to run in the millions but performances sometimes leave much to be desired.

By definition, GLCs are companies where the government has a direct majority stake via their entities such as Khazanah Nasional, Employees Provident Fund, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the Armed Forces Fund (Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera) and the Pilgrims Fund (Lembaga Tabung Haji).

In recent years, remuneration of GLC chiefs, senior management and its directors have been on the uptrend following a transformation initiative to make them more competitive commercially.

The thinking behind this is that in order to attract talent – subjective as the definition of that may be – top dollar should be paid.

Some, however, argue that GLCs should in fact prioritise national service a little more.

Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Economics and Administration professor of political economy Edmund Terence Gomez says GLCs have social obligations.

“What this essentially means is that GLCs cannot operate in a purely commercial manner as they also have to look at the social dimension,” he says. “The GLC professionals have many times articulated that they are doing national service. Going on that alone, one can argue that they shouldn’t be paid private sector salaries,” Terence adds.

And so it is now, there is a disquiet building up among GLCs following the change in government.

The new government has clearly said that there is a need to review the role of GLCs and the remuneration paid out to their top executives and senior management.

In this regard, the Pakatan Harapan government is understood to be mulling over making drastic changes in the appointment and remuneration of key directors at GLCs which include government agencies.

It was reported recently that the Council of Eminent Persons, headed by Tun Daim Zainuddin, who was Finance Minister in the 1980s, has requested details of the salaries of some of the top executives at GLCs as part of the review.

Already, there have been a couple of GLC chief executives who have left and more of this is expected to materialise over the coming weeks.

“It appears to be a purge of Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop’s boys,” quips an industry observer, referring to the veteran politician who was instrumental in the revamp and transformation of Khazanah which started in 2005 and subsequently, driving the GLC transformation initiative.

UM’s Terence says if the new government is to appoint new individuals, it must ensure that the process is transparent.

“If you are removing these people, who are you replacing them with? More importantly how are you selecting these people?

He adds there needs to be a transparent mechanism in the appointment of this new breed of professionals that will be brought in and what must also be looked into is the kind of check and balances being put in place to ensure governance.

“There should be a debate on these things,” he says.

Economist Yeah Kim Leng believes that a review is timely and appropriate as part of a deeper institutional and structural reform.

“The broad aims are firstly, to reduce excessive payoffs which don’t commensurate with performance and secondly, to address the widening wage and benefits gap between the top and bottom rungs of the organisation,” he says.

Such rationalisation will result in a more equitable salary structure as well as raise the generally depressed wages of middle management and support staff which form the largest number of most organisations, Yeah adds.

Unfair advantage

The role of a head honcho, be it at a GLC or non-GLC, is seldom a walk in the park.

CEOs make critical operational decisions that affect everything from future business directions to the health of a company’s balance sheet and employee morale.

The job generally entails long hours and tremendous pressure to meet expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.

But again, while local GLCs have been key drivers of the economy, one key feature is that they are ultimately owned by the government.

This, some argue, give GLCs unfair advantages such as access to cheap funding and political patronage over their private counterparts.

So, is running a GLC more of a stewardship role as opposed to an entrepreneurship role?

Therein lies the issue that in turn will have a bearing on the remuneration levels of GLC heads.

Minority Shareholders Watch Group (MSWG) chief executive office Devanesan Evanson puts it this way.

“Entrepreneurs have their skin in the game in that there are often the major or substantial shareholder in a company.

“It is in their direct interest to perform as this will be translated into share price appreciation which will impact the value of their shareholdings – this is motivation to grow the entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.

On the other hand, GLC heads do not have their skin in the game save for their limited shareholding through ESOS or share grant schemes.

“If a GLC loses money, the impact on them is limited. They may be prepared to take perverse risks as the eventual loser is the government-linked investment companies or GLICs (and the minority shareholders of the GLC), which eventually are the people who are the members or subscribers of the GLICs.

“In that way, we are not comparing apple to apple and yet, we need talent to run GLCs.

“So we can conclude that, we need to pay for talent at GLCs but it should not be as much compared to what one would pay the CEO of a firm which he started,” Devanesan says, noting that remuneration of some of the GLC heads have risen too fast in recent years.

Rising remuneration is a given, others say, as the government had recruited top talent from the private sector to helm these companies.

A case in point is  Axiata Group Bhd , which has done relatively well with the infusion of the “entrepreneurial spirit” under the helm of president and group CEO Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, who has helmed the Khazanah-owned telco since 2008, they point out.

Prior to that, Jamaludin was with rival Maxis Communications Bhd, a private company controlled by tycoon Ananda Krishnan.

Other GLCs which have performed consistently over recent years include banks like Malayan Banking Bhd
and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd which have expanded their operations out of Malaysia, carving a brand name for themselves regionally.

Under a 10-year transformation programme for GLCs initiated in 2005, companies were given quantitative and qualitative targets to meet as measured by key performance indicators.

Now, the 20 biggest GLCs currently make up about 40% of the local stock market’s market capitalisation.

One of the principles under the programme was also the national development agenda, which emphasised the principle of equal growth and development of the bumiputra community with the non-bumiputras.

Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) Centre of Public Policy Studies chairperson Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam says the purpose of establishing GLCs to encourage bumiputras to participate in business has largely been fulfilled.

“Now that the bumiputras are on a strong footing in the corporate sector with able leaders who have wide experience, it (GLCs) could be seen as an erosion to the welfare and progress of the smaller and medium-sized industries, particularly those where other bumiputras are involved,” Ramon says.

Having said that, he says although many GLCs are doing well, they have performed well “mainly because of protective policies and monopolistic practices”.

“The time has come in this new Malaysian era for more competition and less protection.”

Benchmarking

Still, if simplistic comparisons are to be made, the CEOs of the country’s two largest GLC banks, Maybank and CIMB for instance, took home less than the CEO of the country’s third largest bank, the non-GLC Public Bank Bhd
last year.

In 2017, Public Bank’s managing director Tan Sri Tay Ah Lek took home some RM27.8mil in total remuneration while Maybank’s Datuk Abdul Farid Alias earned RM10.11mil and CIMB’s Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz made RM9.86mil.

Across the causeway, a survey of CEO remuneration of Singapore-listed companies by one financial portal shows that Singaporean GLC CEOs earned 31% more than their non-GLC counterparts in 2017.

Singapore’s Temasek Holdings-owned DBS Bank, which is Singapore’s largest bank, paid out S$10.3mil (RM30.36mil) to its head honcho, while in the telecommunication sector, SingTel’s remuneration to its top executive was some S$6.56mil (RM19.34mil) for the most recently concluded financial year.

By definition, Singapore GLCs are those which are 15% or more owned by the city-state’s investment arm Temasek Holdings.

UM’s Terence does not think Singapore should be a benchmark for Malaysian companies.

“Singapore is a much smaller country and the manner in which they operate in is also different … their GLCs are deeply conditioned by their holding company, which is the Minister of Finance Incorporated,” he says.

MSWG’s Devanesan notes that determining remuneration is “not exactly science” as there are many parameters to be considered.

Some of the factors to note include whether the companies are in a monopolistic or near monopolistic position and the performance of the GLC heads over the years.

“Based on these parameters, we can instinctively know if a GLC head is over-remunerated,” he says. Over in China, state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s largest lender by assets, paid out about 63.43 yuan or about RM39mil in total remuneration before tax for the year 2017 to its top executive.

Notably, the Beijing-based ICBC’s net profit’s was at a whopping US$45.6bil (RM182bil) in 2017.

Sources: Gurmeet Kaur and Yvonne Tan The Star

GLC singers sing a different tune

Some officials singing ‘Hebat Negaraku’.

 Swan song for some after ‘Hebat Negaraku’ post-GE14 – CEO think video to showcase musical talents

 

 Several heads of government-linked companies (GLCs) have come together bin a heartwarming music video titled “Hebat Negaraku” (my country is great).

 GLC chiefs show off musical talent in ‘Hebat Negaraku’ music video …

The heads of government linked companies (GLC) who sang a song that later became the theme song for the Barisan Nasional’s election campaign have distanced themselves from the controversial music video.

Those who sang and played musical instruments in the music video titled “Hebat Negaraku” (my country is great) said they did not know the video or the song was going to be a political theme song.

There have been repercussions on the CEOs who appeared in the music video. They have come under scrutiny for making a song that was used as propaganda by Barisan in the last general election.

Three of the GLC bosses in the video have either retired or resigned since the new government took over.

Several more have been speculated to leave in the coming weeks or months but nothing is cast in stone. Sources said this is because most of the CEOs are not known to have campaigned openly for either Barisan or Pakatan Harapan.

“None of the CEOs had a clue it would become a political song. Do you really think the CEOs would have done it if they knew it would become political?” asked one of the CEOs who appeared in the video but declined to be named.

“We have said no to so many things, and we could have easily have said no to this if it was political.’’

Another CEO said he was approached and felt it was “more of a patriotic song and nothing more.”

“At that point in time, we did not think much (of the repercussions). Hebat Negaraku was announced as Barisan’s campaign theme long after the recording was made. We did not know that.’’

Another CEO added: “We thought it was a casual thing when we were approached as some of the CEOs have their own band.’’

It all started when several CEOs were called to be part of a music video and they thought it was to showcase the musical talents of 14 GLCs heads, plus staff members of the 20 key GLCs.

The song is about the greatness, advancement and inspiration of Malaysia. It was released on YouTube on March 22 but has since been taken down.

But fingers have been pointed at the GLCs bosses who made the music video because it became a political video.

Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly has been said to be the main orchestrator for the group in terms of making the music video. He was also said to be the branding chief for Barisan’s elections campaign.

Barisan lost the elections held on May 9 to Pakatan, which has since formed a new government and is scrutinising all the performance, processes, remuneration and procurement of the government and GLCs.

Shazalli quit his job as group CEO of  Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) on June 6. Malaysian Resources Corp
Bhd (MRCB) group managing director Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din has retired as group MD last week and it was something he had planned to do.  Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd
Datuk Badlisham Ghazali did not get his contract renewed. All three were in the music video.

There is a GLC secretariat that now comes under the purview of TM, which was earlier parked under Khazanah Nasional Bhd. The secretariat organised the making of the music video, according to sources. The CEOs were called to attend a session and within a few hours it was all done with no prior rehearsals.

“When you are called, it could be difficult not to comply since it is the secretariat that called you. We have to oblige but we really did not know it was going to be a campaign slogan. This is really unfortunate that it has turned out like this.

“We were surprised when we found out it was a party slogan but it had already been done and what can we do, we are in the picture,’’ said another CEO.

Not all CEOs who were invited took part in the video. Prior engagements were the reason used for declining to appear. – By b.k. Sidhu The Star

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