Views by market research analysts, would the Snake bite 2013?


The 12-year zodiac has turned from the last year dragon to Snake 2013. Would the snake bite as the snake’s reputation might be? Remember 2001 was the year of the 9/11!

2013 Chinese-snake

Welcome to Year of the Water Snake! Snake is the Yin to last year’s Dragon Yang. That said, Snake does not settle for mediocrity, either. We’re likely to see significant developments in the area of science and technology this year. Research and development are apt to flourish. This is a Water year as well, the element most closely associated with education and research, making 2013 a very special year for scientists and scholars. Snake is a great sign, a positive one, with energy that can help us face all of the challenges ahead of us. Let’s take advantage of this vibrant influence to improve our lives — and our world!

THE world markets have always been a subject of focus whenever a brand new year comes a-calling.

Will they perform well or are investors in for a tough time?

As usual, while some have looked to the study of feng shui to predict how markets will perform and react in this Year of the Water Snake, a few analysts and fund managers have mostly chosen to stick to regular facts and figures when giving their opinions.

Here are the views of some of them randomly selected by StarBizWeek.
VINCENT KHOO
Head of research
UOBKayHian Research

Do you believe in using feng shui to predict market movements?

For fundamental research, we do not take feng shui into consideration

What are your top picks in the Year of the Snake? Why?

The over-riding investment theme for the year’s market is laggards. Market laggards dominate our “buy” list.

We also advocate three categories of stocks to focus on for timing purposes. These are stocks which are immediate “buys” such as high-yielding stocks including number forecast operators and construction stocks, noting that positive newsflows are already emerging, stocks to accumulate on slight weakness such as telecommunication stocks, and stocks to accumulate on deeper retreats, such as the perceived politically-linked stocks which feature exciting growth prospects

Our contrarian view includes being overweight on construction stocks.

What are some of your “predictions” for financial markets this year?

The local market has predictably fallen after a short year-start rally. We expect a significant retreat in small-mid caps after an impressive January-Effect’ rally. We also expect market to dip further before elections, but downside is limited, and it should recover significantly thereafter.

THOMAS YONG
Chief executive officer
Fortress Capital Asset Management (M) Sdn Bhd

Do you believe in using feng shui to predict market movements?

We don’t use feng shui in our work.

What are your top picks in the Year of the Snake? Why?

In Malaysia, our top picks are UMW Holdings Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. Despite a return of 70% in the year of 2012, we think that the prospects for UMW continue to remain bright.

The automotive division has been performing well as its Toyota brand continues to gain market share, while the Perodua brand dominates the budget segment.

Earnings contribution from the oil and gas division has improved vastly and the earnings momentum is likely to pick up in coming years, buoyed by the potential of raising funds via an initial public offering.

In the near-term, weakening of the US dollar and Japanese yen arising from quantitative easing would also be favourable to UMW Holdings.

CIMB Holdings has been delivering consistent earnings but its share price has under-performed the market, due to political concerns in Malaysia.

The group actually derives about 40% of earnings outside Malaysia and the overseas earnings contribution is expected to increase further with the strategic regional expansion.

Besides positive enhancement of the CIMB brand, its recent acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland investment banking operations has also provided CIMB Group with an established platform to compete internationally.

Notwithstanding the solid fundamentals of the two stocks, one need to be cautious in determining the entry level for the stocks in light of the recent market volatility on the back of election politics.

What are some of your “predictions” for financial markets this year?

As the US and Japan are expected to continue with quantitative easing, we expect interest rates to stay low for the year 2013, stoking asset inflation.

While alternative investment such as property has traditionally proven to be a good asset inflation play, the sector will likely face continued policy curbs.

Taken with sight of economy recovery led by China and the United States, we believe equity as an asset class provides a very attractive risk return potential.

HWANGDBS VICKERS RESEARCH
MALAYSIAN RESEARCH TEAM

Do you believe in using feng shui to predict market movements?

Feng shui is just an additional tool used to make certain predictions.

Our bread-and-butter research approach has always been fundamental analysis supported by technical analysis.

What are your top picks in the Year of the Snake? Why?

Against a turbulent market backdrop, the benchmark FBM KLCI could swing between 1,500 and 1,750 going forward, and probably settle at our fundamentally-driven end-2013 target of 1,690 (based on one-year forward P/E of 14 times.

Hence, investors should view any market dips as buying opportunities to ride on the subsequent recoveries.

The Year of the Snake may bring good luck to industries linked to earth, metal and water elements, such as property, construction, petroleum and banking.

By being defensive, investors are expected to flock to sectors or stocks that generate strong operating cash flows and pay appealing dividend yields such as Pos Malaysia, Maybank and KLCC Property, to name a few.

What are some of your “predictions” for financial markets this year?

On the global economic front, we should see continuous gradual recovery supported by an underlying positive mood.

The recurrence of an economic fallout in the United States or a financial blow out in eurozone can happen, which can then force a downward spiral in investors’ confidence.

KALADHER GOVINDAN
TA Securities
Head of research

Do you believe in using fengshui beliefs to predict market movements?

I wish predicting market behaviour could be that easy. Feng shui or even the much older Indian version, Vastu, for that matter gives you a “common sense” perspective on how certain things should be done in harmony with nature to reap the maximum benefits for health and well being but it is not a single criterion that binds everything for success or wealth.

What are your top picks in the Year of the Snake? Why?

Sell-on-strength, especially overvalued defensive plays in the consumer, healthcare and telco sectors, and turn cash-heavy to accumulate high beta plays in domestic sectors, which are mainly related to construction, oil and gas and property sectors, in the first half of 20 13. The banking sector holds good buys based on their attractive valuation, still robust loan growth and bright chances of benefiting from ongoing domestic expansion .

What are some of your “predictions” for financial markets this year?

Issues in Europe will last longer. The structural flaws cannot be undone overnight but expect bouts of positive improvements to kick in the second half of 2 013 as fats are trimmed and jobs created. China could revive its domestic growth without stoking inflationary pressure but it can be a destabilising factor if its row with Japan escalates. The same applies to Iran and the West.

LIM TECK SENG
Deputy managing director
JF Apex Securities Bhd

Do you believe in using feng shui to predict market movements?

Not at all.

What are your top picks in the Year of the Snake? Why?

I prefer good value penny stocks because the capital appreciation of these stocks are much faster and larger, compared to bigger-cap stocks. Stocks are all about packaging, style and branding.

What are some of your “predictions” for financial markets this year?

Financial markets revolve around banking, wealth management and the economy.

It has nothing much to do with stock markets. The stock market is all about liquidity and cashflow.

If there is enough liquidity, cashflow and interest in the stock, the stock will run. Liquidity is the most crucial component to the stock market.

EDMUND THAM
Head of Research
Mercury Securities

Do you believe in using feng shui to predict market movements?

Some people may use it, but I personally do not use feng shui to predict the market.

What are your top picks in the Year of the Snake? Why?

Currently I’m looking at property and crude palm oil (CPO) stocks, for both value and dividend yield.

The prices of quite a number of them have come down recently. However, they have the potential to “come back” later in the year. CPO stocks would probably only come back later in the year if and when CPO prices recover.

Property players with projects in prime areas locally (Penang island, Klang Valley, Iskandar Region) and overseas stand to perform well.

CPO picks – IOI Corp Bhd, TDM Bhd, TH Plantations Bhd, Hap Seng Plantations Holdings Bhd.
Property picks – Glomac Bhd, Mah Sing Group Bhd, SP Setia Bhd, UOA Development Bhd.

What are some of your “predictions” for financial markets this year?

For the local market, less volatility could lead to a higher KLCI level, especially in the first half of 2013.

The cautious investor sentiment due to GE13 is likely to suppress market participation for Q1 and maybe Q2.

The Dow Jones is at quite a lofty level, and we’re not sure if it can be sustained above the 14,000 points level.

By YVONNE TAN yvonne@thestar.com.my 

Related posts:

Homeless in Penang no shelter !


Penang-homelessThe homeless in Penang are facing a hard time.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have pointed out that the state still has no government shelter for the homeless and needy, even though Penang has a large number of homeless people.

According to NGO volunteers, there are only two free-of-charge stay-in shelters in the state and these are run by NGOs.

The volunteers claimed that the DAP-led state government had promised to build a shelter when it came to power in 2008, but nothing had materialised so far.

As a result, hundreds of homeless people could be found at public places, such as bus stops, five-foot ways, under bridges and on pedestrian crossings, according to P. Muru¬giah, coordinator of the Temple of Fine Arts’ Klinik Derma Sivasanta.

He said that half of the 70 or 80 needy patients treated by the charity clinic twice a week were in fact homeless.

“The Government needs to build a shelter for the homeless and provide medical care for them,” he told The Star Online.

Murugiah said his clinic had even collected and cremated 40 unclaimed bodies last year.

He suggested that Penang had a high number of homeless people because the state was densely populated with many senior citizens, and some of these were neglected by their children.

A volunteer at Kawan, a drop-in centre for the homeless and needy, said homeless people were made up of vagrants, the mentally-ill, drug addicts, as well as unemployed youths from other states.

“Half of them are those aged 50 and above and illiterate,” said the volunteer, who gave his name as James.

“There is a sizeable number of elderly people and the government needs to set up a shelter quickly.”

A doctor in George Town, who declined to be named, told The Star Online that the federal government should step in to solve the problem.

Once again, the disadvantaged sections of society have received no help from Guan Eng’s administration, forcing the Barisan Nasional government to step in to help Penangites.

If it was affordable housing earlier, this time it is shelters for the homeless. Either way, the federal government has always carried out its responsibility to the people whereas the DAP-led state government has been found wanting.

Sources: thechoice.my

 

Penang homeless need shelter

I STRONGLY support the call by various NGOs for a shelter for the homeless and needy in Penang.

Many of these homeless people sleep on corridors outside shops and temples. Some sleep in sheds and bus stops during the night, and try and get some work during the day.

The elderly and sick end up in hospitals and refuse to leave the wards when they are discharged because they have no home to go back to.

The state Welfare Department’s regular beggar raids cannot ease the situation because only those without serious medical problems and are above 60 years old can enter government-run old folks home.

The rest of the homeless go back to the streets because they cannot afford to rent rooms.

It is high time that the Federal and state governments work with NGOs in Penang to identify a place and start this service. The authorities need to provide support and allocate funds, and not let NGOs run shelter homes in the name of charity.

These shelter homes must also have trained social workers and volunteers.

As Penang strives to retain its modern and heritage status, social service for the needy and disadvantaged groups must always be part of the plan.

LIM B. EAN Penang The Star

The new year 2013 will continue with the trends of of the passing year


Snake Yr 2013The new year will start with two economic crisis events in the United States but otherwise, we can expect 2013 to continue with the trends of the passing year

IF 2012 is the year that did not bring about the end of the world, then 2013 should be the beginning of a new era, according to the Mayan prophecy.

But it is unlikely the new year will herald a brand new age for the world as a whole.

More probably, it will continue the trends in the old year but in more pronounced and deeply felt ways.

The year 2013 starts with the United States falling off the “fiscal cliff” or else escaping from that at the last moment.

If the fiscal cliff takes effect fully, up to four percentage points of GNP are expected to be sucked out of the US economy due to tax increases and government spending cuts combined, thus resulting in a new recession.

Another problem will soon reach crisis point.

The US government debt will reach its mandated limit around now, and President Barack Obama and Congress will have one to two months to negotiate an increase in that limit before the administration runs out of money to pay for its operations or service its debts.

Thus, we can expect the first two months of 2013 to be preoccupied with the drama of the US politics on debt, taxes and government spending.

It seems that the President-Congress and Democrat-Repub­li­can bitter battles of the last few years will return at the start of Obama’s second term.

If so, the United States’ political paralysis will be reflected in economic policy deadlocks.

The economic crises in the United States, and how they play out, will have a big impact on 2013 worldwide, especially since Europe is already in the midst of a recession.

With the uncertainties in the major developed economies, and the softening of the economies of China, India, Brazil, most developing countries will face economic difficulties this year but the extent of this is to be seen.

On the political front, the ongoing economic turmoil will lead to political changes in many European countries, and the future of the European Union and the Eurozone will themselves come under significant strains.

The next chapter of the Middle East drama is quite unpredictable. Israel, with its right-ward tilt, is expected to become even more aggressive, as its recent plan for more settlements in Jerusalem shows, and this may increase its isolation further.

But whether the Palestinian parties can unite and take advantage of its strong resistance in Gaza, its new UN-adopted status as a state, and the decline in Israel’s international support, is to be seen.

The Iran nuclear issue will continue to occupy news attention, with the Western countries having to decide whether to negotiate with Iran or intensify the sanctions (or both) or prepare for a military attack (thankfully, this does not seem likely).

The Syrian civil war will still dominate the TV channels as it enters another phase and perhaps an end-game, while the continued struggle for Egypt’s future political and social system will also have major effects on the region and the world.

In Asia, the world will watch closely whether the final stage of China’s leadership change-over to the new President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang in March will begin a new era or continue the policies of the past decade.

Malaysia will have its place in the global spotlight with the general election, which will most likely take place in March.

Whatever the results, this closely contested election will be a watershed in the political life of the nation.

India, too, is in a state of significant political and economic flux, and 2013 will be used by the political parties and forces to prepare for the climax of the general election in 2014 and it is anybody’s guess who will come up on top.

Even as politics and economics continue to occupy the most attention, 2013 will remind us with greater force that Nature forms the bedrock of our societies and our civilisation.

The passing year brought its share of natural disasters to rival those of the previous recent years, and 2013 could even see worse extreme weather events around the world.

Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase despite greater awareness about the dangers of climate change.

Last week’s big floods in Malaysia’s east coast states could be a harbringer of worse to come in the country and the region.

The Philippines, having suffered a typhoon in its southern region in early December, had to cope with another big storm in its central region last week.

These are reminders that each country should improve its natural disaster preparedness as well as finalise its national strategy to address climate change.

And there are many other environmental issues to give high priority to, including water scarcity and quality, deforestation, biodiversity conservation, toxic chemicals and wastes and pollution of all types.

It will be an interesting year ahead.

Happy New Year to all readers of Global Trends!

Global Trends By MARTIN KHOR

 Related posts:
US Fiscal Cliff poses threat to economy worldwide! 
Cliff‘ worries may drive tax selling on Wall Street

China’s leadership changes


China’s new Politburo standing committee, from left, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. Photo: Reuters

Ruling Communist Party unveils new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee that will govern nation for next decade.

State media says Xi Jinping is to take the reins of China’s all-powerful Communist Party in a leadership transition that will put him in charge of the world’s number-two economy for the next decade.

Xi, the current vice president and successor to President Hu Jintao, assumes power at an uncertain time with the party facing urgent calls to clean its ranks of corruption and overhaul its economic model as growth stutters.

His long-expected ascension as head of the ruling party took place at 0400 GMT along with the unveiling of a new Politburo Standing Committee, the nation’s top decision-making body.

According to tradition, the members marched out before the media in a pecking order agreed after years of factional bargaining, a process which intensified in the months leading up to the five-yearly reshuffle.

China Spotlight
In-depth coverage of China’s Communist Party congress

Xi will consolidate his position at the apex of national politics by being named China’s president by the rubber-stamp legislature next March, for a tenure expected to last through two five-year terms.

The standing committee, which had nine members under Hu has been slimmed to seven and includes Vice Premier Li Keqiang, which would set him on the path to be be appointed premier from next March.

Other members include Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.

They will be tasked with addressing a rare deceleration of economic growth that threatens the party’s key claim to legitimacy – continually improving the livelihoods of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

China also bubbles with localised unrest often sparked by public rage at corruption, government abuses, and the myriad manifestations of anger among the millions left out of the country’s economic boom.

The communists have a monopoly on political power in China and state appointments are decided within the party.

The process began with behind-the-scenes horse-trading and political deals.

It was essentially finalised on Wednesday when the party ended a week-long congress by announcing a new Central Committee of 205 people.

On Thursday, the Central Committee approved the higher leadership bodies, including the elite Politburo Standing Committee.

Factional politics

Observers believe two main factions have been jockeying for power, one centred largely on proteges of former president Jiang Zemin and another linked to allies of Hu.

Xi is considered a consensus figure who leans toward Jiang, while Li has long been seen as a Hu protege.

Analysts say that despite rivalries between the two camps which are largely divided on patronage lines, they broadly agree China must realign its economy away from a dependence on exports, while maintaining a firm hand on dissent.

The government has ramped up security in Beijing and on the nation’s popular social media sites to prevent any criticism during the gathering.

The run-up to this year’s congress was unsettled by events surrounding Bo Xilai, a political star seen as a candidate for a top post until a scandal in which his wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman.

The sensational affair torpedoed Bo’s political career, he will face trial for charges of corruption and abuse of power, and added to the intrigue in the run-up to the transition.

Agencies
Newscribe : get free news in real time

China is the main show


Martin Jacques shares his views on the growing clout of the world’s second largest economy.

AUTHOR and academic Dr Martin Jacques released an updated and expanded second edition of his widely acclaimed book, When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New Global Order, earlier this year.

During a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur when he attended an Asian Centre for Media Studies event, Jacques (pic) spoke to The Star about his book and its approach to the subject. Some excerpts:

How is the second edition different from the first?

Time. Because China is growing so quickly, China time is fast. There’s been a lot of updating throughout the second edition.

When I wrote the first edition, the 2008 (US-centred) financial crisis had just happened. The last chapter is about the crisis, which was little commented on before.

The second edition looks at the beginnings of a Chinese economic world order.

How far is the second edition a response to critics of the first?

I don’t think what I’ve done is a response to the critics. The inaccuracies in the first edition were very few, and I’ve certainly responded to those.

There was a bit of a jump in the argument between the rise of China and its relations with other countries.

Here I look at not just China-US relations, but the rise of developing countries generally, of which China is a part.

I use the phrase “rule the world” as a metaphor. I’ve learned a lot from meetings and discussions.

There was never much in the first edition I wanted to change. The structure of the book is basically the same.

Do you see China’s rise as continuing into the future?

Yes, definitely. Along the lines of the book, without any doubt whatsoever.

How might a new China-centred tributary system emerge in East Asia?

There are echoes of a tributary system. The most obvious return to that is the rise of China.

East Asian economies today are much more China-centric. There’s the fact we’re now moving to a new China-centric system.

China is probably the most important market for countries in the region, for trade and investment, with its high-speed rail links, and so on. Getting on with China will be absolutely crucial for countries in this region.

Can economic dominance translate into clout in other spheres?

If China is economically dominant, that gives it a great deal of influence over other countries.

The draw of China will be that much greater. China will be a huge cultural presence in the region.

Lots of people in this region will study in Chinese universities. Beijing will be a tremendous draw.

You can see that in the flight patterns of Malaysia Airlines, for example. Previously, Malaysians travelled to Britain, not so much to other East Asian countries; it would be interesting to see the changes.

The attraction of Shanghai will be that of a big city like New York. People are attracted to power.

We’ll be much more familiar with Chinese governance and institutions. From being a mystery, they’ll be familiar; we were used to the United States before, but much more with China (in future).

What of Greater China, the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan?

All the ties will get stronger.

Hong Kong will remain very much as now, I don’t expect it to change. It will become increasingly integrated (with the mainland) and Sinicised, and (still) in many senses not very Chinese.

I would expect Taiwan to move ever closer to China. Taipei feels it has nowhere to go except closer to China.

There are already a large number of Taiwanese working in China. There has been growing economic integration.

Over the next 20 years, Taiwan will probably accept Chinese sovereignty. It will come because it is absolutely the logical step.

What of the prospects of China’s collapse, as some predict?

There are gradations on the scale. China isn’t going to sail into the sunset without problems. But what I’m extremely sceptical about are predictions about the problems leading to economic meltdown and Armageddon.

Some day China may see a multi-party system, although unlikely. China may be more open, but it will still be very much Chinese.

A collapse is not impossible, but extremely unlikely.

Can China’s economic power translate into cultural influence?

It will take a long time. China is still a poor country.

Rich countries don’t aspire to be like a poor country; economic power is the basis (of cultural influence).

The Beijing Olympics is an example: China was unable to stage it 10 years before.

Since the rest of the world is not familiar with Chinese culture, the process of feeling comfortable with China culturally and politically will take a long time.

Because Chinese culture is so different from Western culture, it will take a century for the West to be familiar with it. I’m sceptical that it won’t happen.

How is China’s rise regarded by India?

India has a big problem with China, as it has a very strong view of China. India is a long, long way behind (in growth).

Indians are traumatised by China; their relationship with China is erratic, fickle and fearful. Because of the border wars, China looms very large in the Indian imagination.

The issue doesn’t disturb the Chinese, but for Indians it’s an issue. India is so far behind that the thought of overtaking China (economically) is the talk of fantasists in dreamland.

India needs to learn as much as possible from China and pursue a strong relationship with it. It needs a clear strategy in dealing with China.

India should stop this petty rivalry. At the moment there’s not much of that happening.

What of China’s relations with South-East Asia?

In historical terms for this region, 100 years (since the end of China’s dynastic rule in 1912) is not such a long time.

There is a familiarity with China in this region that is not found in other parts of the world.

This marks out relations with China as different here. Countries in this region relate with China in a multifarious process.

Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar are dealing (economically) with China mostly through Chinese provinces closest to them.

It’s a situation most nation states don’t allow in their regions. But Chinese provinces close to these countries will deal more with them in future.

As for relations with the United States?

It will take the US at least 10, maybe 20 years from now to treat China as an equal.

It will happen in a series of baby steps here and there, for example by treating China as a partner in the region, rather than as a problem like now.

But it won’t happen within 10 years. In certain circumstances it may happen quicker, such as a (Western) financial crisis, or it would take longer.

And Europe?

There’s been poor coverage of China in the rest of the world, mainly from ignorance. Coverage tends to be Eurocentric.

Soviet reforms under Gorbachev with glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) were well received in Western Europe. But the Soviet system could not be reformed.

China’s communist revolution had better historical roots than the Soviet’s.

What remains of the ‘Washington Consensus’ (ie, US-style economic doctrine)?

It’s dead. In the developing world, China is the main show. Why look at America?

China is actively doing (the alternative): there are general lessons in its emphasis on infrastructure, the importance of the state, of political stability, and so on.

Will there be a third edition?

I probably won’t do a third edition. It was hard work with the (second edition), being governed by the framework of the existing book.

I’d probably work on something fresh. More on the lines of “understanding China,” so that people can understand the conceptual thinking.

By BUNN NAGARA The Star/Asia News Network

  Related posts:

When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New Global Order   

Fearful of China’s rise? Sep 28, 2012
Dawn of a new superpower Jul 08, 2012

When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New Global Order


Book review: China is still ascendant

Author: Marc Jacques
Publisher: Penguin, 848 pages

SKEWED as they may be, reactionary Orientalist perspectives of East Asian realities remain the norm in Western punditry and news reports. The problem has become prevalent in both conservative and liberal circles.

The problem for the West itself is that such a persistent misperception of modern China may undermine Western interests further. Martin Jacques’ When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New Global Order is intended largely as a corrective, looking at the historic phenomenon of China’s grand return to the global stage in China’s own terms.

My review of the first edition of Jacques’ book appeared earlier in China awakens (Star Bizweek, Oct 3, 2009). The present consideration is of the second edition published by Penguin earlier this year.

The first edition was subtitled The Rise Of The Middle Kingdom And The End Of The Western World. The second edition, suggesting an evolution, is subtitled The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New World Order.

Jacques and Penguin are just as grandiose now as before. The titling remains as presumptuous and alarmist, at least to Western conservatives, and no apologies are tendered in that regard.

The title itself can be a problem for those who judge a book by its cover. Jacques does not believe that China or any other country can “rule” the world today, only that China and things Chinese would predominate globally.

The second edition contains new data and a new section in the Afterword. For Jacques, international developments in the three years between the two editions only confirm and strengthen his central themes.

His chief arguments remain intact: that China will be dominant economically and culturally, it will not essentially be Westernised, and China will be ascendant despite multiple challenges.

This rise, mainly economic but also in other spheres later, is of epochal proportions. China’s ascendancy would result from both its own efforts and the decline of the West simultaneously.

The 2008 recession in the United States, followed by economic doldrums there and the European sovereign debt crisis underline the situation impeccably. In contrast, China’s GDP growth continues, affected only minimally.

Like many others, Jacques believes that China’s current growth model based on cheap labour and global raw materials is unsustainable. For example, China would need to stimulate more domestic demand to compensate for a slackening of overseas markets.

The latest data show that more and more countries have now made China their main trading partner. And as with trade, increasingly so with investment.

Thus, China’s economic gravitational “pull” is becoming unerring and compelling. Not only has China swiftly replaced Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, its relationship with the United States has replaced Japan’s as the most important bilateral relationship across the Pacific and in the world.

Analysts impressed with China’s economic growth once expected it to surpass the US economy in a couple of decades. But that timeframe has shrunk.

In 2009 Jacques cited the Goldman Sachs prediction that China’s economy would overtake the US’ by 2027. Sceptics scoffed.

In this second edition, he cites The Economist’s projection that the Chinese economy will become the world’s biggest by 2018. Now the International Monetary Fund predicts the year will be 2016.

But even when that happens, China will still be a developing country with vast human resources yet to reach peak productivity. That means when China’s standard of living approaches that of the US, with a comparable GDP per capita, its economy will be two to four times that of the US today.

Unlike many China pundits, particularly critics, Jacques believes China will not succumb to the weight of its own promise. He does not accept that China has to Westernise or democratise before it can fully develop and prosper.

Jacques also rejects the alarmist Western notion that today’s China is re-arming aggressively. He finds Chinese defence expenditure as a proportion of GDP falling between the 1970s and 1990s, and since then only keeping pace with GDP growth.

As expected, the very people he seeks to inform are often those who spurn his information. Jacques attributes this Western stubbornness to a mixture of unfamiliarity, ignorance, prejudice, denial, stereotyping, racism and Cold War ideology against a non-Western country that is communist, at least in name.

With such unwieldy baggage, the nuances and subtleties about China are naturally lost on the bigots. For Jacques, China is a continent-sized civilisational state whose history has seen upheavals and expansion on its Asiatic land mass, but not military adventurism in a littoral and archipelagic East Asia.

In response to critics of an increasingly powerful China, Jacques does not see China as a global superpower. He finds China historically absorbed in its own internal governance as it is a very difficult country to govern, its trajectory will continue to be tempestuous, but it is still a complex and sophisticated state and the home of statecraft, so it cannot simply be dismissed with an epithet like “authoritarian”.

For example, while critics fret over the People’s Liberation Army and the PLA Navy, it is China’s Coast Guard rather than the military that is a key player in the disputed island claims. Jacques finds no less than seven uncoordinated Chinese agencies involved over these claims.

A key question in the book is whether the United States will allow China the space to be a major player in Beijing’s own regional backyard. Jacques finds that unlikely, while also convinced that US efforts, such as its “pivot” to contain China, will ultimately fail.

This book still has major gaps that need filling. A central theme is that China’s coming predominance will be different from that of Western colonialism, but how different and in what ways?

Jacques also envisages an updated revival of the tributary system in East Asia, in which all the smaller countries acknowledge their junior status with regard to China. But what form will a revised tributary system take?

Another key point is China essentially being a civilisational state rather than just a nation state like other countries. But what can this mean in practical policy terms, particularly in China’s relations with other countries?

Such answers are essential to an intelligent understanding of a rising modern China. But we may have to wait for a new book by the author for further illumination, because any answers are unlikely to be accommodated by the structure of the present work, notwithstanding its already intriguing insights.

The first edition was already a vast interdisciplinary work of far-reaching implications, and the second version even more so. Few analysts as authors have achieved what Jacques has: combining the depth and rigour of academia with the readability and vigour of journalism in a single volume on a subject of great topicality.

The result is a serious and interesting textbook which, despite its 800+ pages, has sold a quarter of a million copies (and counting) in a dozen languages in its first edition alone. His critics have yet to match that kind of appeal in whatever they have to say.

Review by BUNN NAGARA
star2@thestar.com.my

> Bunn Nagara is an associate editor at The Star.

 

Related posts:
Fearful of China’s rise? Sep 28, 2012
Dawn of a new superpower Jul 08, 2012

Taman Manggis land issue in Penang, a ‘Robin Hood story’ or soap opera?


The twists and turns in the Taman Manggis land issue in Penang is starting to resemble a soap opera but it has also raised the question of whether the legal procedures are observed in the sale of state land.

THE showdown over a plot of land known as Taman Manggis or “mangosteen garden” in the heart of George Town is about to erupt in another slanging match on Nov 3.

Dubbed by some as the “Robin Hood story”, the Taman Manggis land has become one of the most controversial issues in Penang.

It has also become a rather entertaining saga of gamesmanship between Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his political secretary Ng Wei Aik on one side and the state Barisan Nasional Youth on the other.

The 0.4ha of land had been designated for affordable housing but before the project could take place, Barisan was toppled.

Lim’s administration has since reportedly sold the land for RM11mil to a Kuala Lumpur company that is planning to build a health tourism facility that includes a private dental hospital and hotel on the site.

That was how the Robin Hood thing came about, but with a twist where Barisan is accusing the Pakatan Rakyat government of being a distorted version of Robin Hood by taking land meant for the poor to give to the rich.

When Barisan accused the state government of selling the land at below market rate, Lim challenged it to buy the land for RM22.4mil. Lim probably thought Barisan would not take up the dare. After all, RM22.4mil is not small change.

But Barisan agreed and announced that it had set up a special purpose company to buy and develop affordable homes on the land.

Caught on one foot, the state government was forced to respond and Ng issued an offer letter to Barisan. And that was when the soap opera began.

The Barisan side led by its State Barisan Youth chief Oh Tong Keong proceeded to pay 1% earnest money as is called for in such transactions.

The next step, as anyone would know, is for the lawyers from both sides to draw up a sales and purchase (S&P) agreement.

Once that is signed, the buyer would pay the balance of the requisite 10% and depending on the terms and condition, the full amount is usually paid within three months or more.

This is to enable the buyer to raise funds or secure a loan from the bank.

However, following the 1% payment, Lim demanded that the Barisan pay up the rest of the amount within a month.

The outlandish demand saw a few jaws drop on the Barisan side. First, it is not possible for Barisan to cough up that kind of money in so short a time.

Another was the audacity of the demand.

“There is no S&P agreement in sight and the seller is demanding the full amount. Do they understand the laws of transaction? Without an S&P agreement, no one would want to pay RM22.4mil,” said architect Khoo Boo Soon.

Khoo, who was the former building director of the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP), is quite appalled at the frivolous way that state property is being treated.

He is incredulous that state land is being sold based on an offer letter by a political secretary on the instruction of the Chief Minister.

“I have been a government servant for more than 17 years. As far as I know, land transactions have to be discussed and decided by the state exco, the state legal adviser has to be consulted, the state secretary has to be involved. It cannot be a one-man decision, both parties need to sign an S&P agreement,” said Khoo.

The Barisan side was more direct. “This is government land, it belongs to the people. The land does not belong to the Chief Minister’s grandfather. We are not buying a bicycle or a car, this is about public land costing millions of ringgit,” said Oh.

The Barisan side had on Oct 3 written to the state government requesting for an S&P agreement before they proceed to pay up the rest of the money.

On Oct 8, the state secretary wrote back asking them to refer to the offer letter and to pay up within a month.

To compound this half-past-six state of affairs, rumours abound that the land has actually been sold to the Kuala Lumpur company.

No one can tell for sure because the state government has been tight-lipped about the issue.

Requests for information on the actual status of the land has run up against a stone wall.

On top of all that, the house that Lim is renting in Penang reportedly belongs to the wife of the major stakeholder of the Kuala Lumpur company.

The lady is also the cousin of state exco member Phee Boon Poh. The implication of all this is unclear but it does add spice to the story.

Many people following this soap opera are quite confused but that is what makes soap operas so addictive – there are lots of twists and turns.

The more discerning think Lim has no intention of selling the land to Barisan, hence the conditions and obstacles put in the way.

Some suspect the delay tactics are aimed at making Barisan give up.

But it would be a blow to Lim’s administration if the Barisan people actually purchased it and proceeded to build low-cost housing.

Lim would lose face, particularly given that his administration has failed to build any affordable housing since coming into power.

To make matters worse, this is happening amid an inflated property market on the island and where house prices have soared beyond the reach of 80% of wage earners.

Lim should be transparent about the issue. If the land has been sold, he should admit it.

If it is still in the state’s hands, then he should do the decent thing and use it for its original purpose.

Instead he is angry at being criticised and is punishing those who want to build affordable homes by doubling the price of the land.

A Penang lawyer said he is not surprised about the “Robin Hood issue”.

“What shocks me is the silence on the part of the Penang NGOs. They used to be so vocal on issues affecting public interest,” said the lawyer.

In the meantime, the countdown to Nov 3 has begun.

ANALYSIS BY JOCELINE TAN The Star/Asia News Network

 

P/S:  Landlady of CM’s residence is not wife of company stakeholder

Regarding the Taman Manggis land, the Star and State exco member Phee Boon Poh clarified yesterday that the woman in question is his cousin, she is not married nor is she the wife of the company stakeholder. “My cousin and the stakeholder are just business partners,” he said.

The Taman Manggis land which had been designated for low-cost housing by the former Barisan Nasional government, became an issue when the Lim administration decided to sell it to a Kuala Lumpur company to develop a health tourism facility that includes a private dental hospital, hotel and multi-storey car park.

Related post:

Land sold for a song? Aug 11, 2012

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,205 other followers

%d bloggers like this: