Are Malays powering the nation ?


The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics messed up!

Old politics: If the leadership keeps to the racialist, feudalist and religious-centric tactics and policies of the past, thinking this is what they need to do to keep the votes, it will just be the repeat of  past mistakes of the Umno era.

Malays are powering the nation

WE refer to “The real Malay Dilemma” (The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics./Sunday Star, Aug 26) by Siti Kassim. Siti’s rambling diatribe against Malay Muslims can be reduced to two baseless, provocative, insulting and defamatory allegations, namely:

1. Assimilation of Islamic values in governance is responsible for Malay backwardness and inability to compete with other races; and

2. Malays, constituting 60% of the population, are unproductive and parasitical, depending on the industry and labour of the remaining 40%, Chinese and Indians.

On the assimilation of Islamic values in governance, Siti questions whether “a Malay society, more insular and superstitious in thought… can compete on a fair footing with the rest of the Malaysian non-Muslim population.” She writes that Malays have been given preferred places in universities, GLCs and the civil service for over 40 years, resulting in “uncompetitive universities, a significant pool of unemployable Malay graduates and with most being employed by the civil service… failed GLCs and …corrupt administration…” She asks if more religion would help and continues, “This has been the unintended consequence of the assimilation of Islamic values in governance.”

What evidence has Siti got to link the above allegations of Malay backwardness to the so-called Islami­sation? Has she conducted any studies or consulted reports and research findings to come to that conclusion? Her claim is just hot air driven by prejudice towards Islam.

There has been no assimilation of Islamic values in governance as provided by the syariah. Having prayer rooms in government offices, teaching Islam to Muslim students in schools, broadcasting azan on TV or having an Islamic TV channel do not make governance Islamic. The Malaysian state is based on a constitution drafted by secular jurists and not on syariah. Most government leaders and top bureaucrats, products of Western education, are very much influenced by secular ideas and ignorant about Islam and its contributions to civilisations.

It is the separation of the moral from governance under a secular system that has facilitated the corruption, abuse of power, nepotism and cronyism of our government leaders and administrators. So, why blame Islam?

Siti condemns Malays as parasites. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a parasite as a person who is lazy and lives by other people working and giving them money.

Siti writes that the majority of Malays are satisfied with their lives and carry on being religiously obsessed because they have been “able to live off the teats of the government in one way or another”.

She continues: “Thirty per cent to 40% of the population cannot sustain 100% of us. You need the remaining, at least majority, of that 60% (Malays) to be able to truly contribute economically and not be consumers of tax from the minorities. And religion is not an economic contributor. It is an unproductive consumer of epic proportions with no returns.”

Obviously, she has not heard of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. To Siti, Malay businessmen, professionals, workers, farmers, fishermen, civil servants, police and soldiers do not contribute sales tax, income tax, road tax and other taxes payable under our laws. They are only “consumers of tax from minorities (Chinese and Indians)”. In other words, they are parasites. This is an insulting and provocative lie!

She claims that the transformation of Malaysia from an agricultural to an industrial nation with liberal economic policies was “powered by an industrious non-Malay population and the liberal segment of the Malay society”. She must have been blinded by prejudice not to see the role played by millions of Malay workers, engineers, surveyors, architects, policymakers and administrators in the industrial development of Malaysia.

Good public education and healthcare services are essential to becoming a developed industrial society. In 2016, Irina Bokova, then the Unesco director-general, praised Malaysia for “leading the way in South-East Asia in fostering inclusive and equitable education as the basis of sustainable green growth”.

And in his message on 2018 World Health Day, WHO regional representative Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline stated that Malaysia has been acknowledged globally for its high-performing health system based on a well-trained workforce, excellent infrastructure and quality service delivery.

Since independence, infant death has fallen by more than 90% to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016. Maternal mortality has also decreased by 89% between 1963 and 2013.

Who are these “well-trained workforce”? Mostly “unemployable Malay graduates” from “uncompetitive universities” and other institutions.

Who are the members of “the liberal segment of the Malay society” who powered the industrial transformation of Malaysia?

Are they those who are blond and advocating “separation of religion and government; religion must be a private matter and kept private; take out religious education from the public arena”?

Or those who call for recognition of homosexual, gay and lesbian rights; criminalisation of polygamy and decriminalisation of adultery; and free sex?

Sorry Siti, if there was any contribution from this deviant group, it was very minimal as many of them look to green pastures outside Malaysia and migrate. The rapid transformation of the Malaysian economy has been powered by patriotic devout Malay Muslims and the minorities, Chinese and Indians.

It is not the Malays who face a dilemma in engaging the modern world because their religion teaches them to seek success in this world and in the hereafter (Quran 2:201). It is Siti who faces a serious dilemma on whether to decolonise her thinking and become a true Malay Muslim or remain a Western secular clone.

By MOHD AZMI ABDUL HAMID President
Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization

Endorsed by:

Syekh Ahmad Awang, chairman, International Union of Muslim Scholars Malaysia

Syekh Abdul Ghani Samsudin, chairman, Secretariat for the Assembly of Ulama of Asia

Assoc Prof Dr Roslan Mohd Nor, secretary-general, Ulama Association of Malaysia

Datin Ustazah Aminah Zakaria, chairperson, Persatuan Persaudaraan Muslimah Malaysia

Hj Baharudin Masrom, secretary, Kongres Ummah

Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan, committee member of SHURA

Prof Dr Rahmatullah Khan, committee of MaSSa

Dr Abdul Rahman Ahmad, committee of SUARA

Datuk Abdullah Mad Din, former director of Islamic Division, Ministry of Education

Datuk Hadzir Md Zain, former deputy director-general, Implementation Coordination Unit, JPM


Elaborating the dilemma in today’s terms

I REFER to the comments from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization in response to my latest column “The real Malay Dilemma” (The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics/Sunday Star, Aug 26).

Mine was an opinion piece. It seems the writer of the letter from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization and the characters endorsing it cannot differentiate between journalism and opinion. Having said that, whatever I say speak for itself.

Our former prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn were all secularists. Our present Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Malay Dilemma” and what he continues to say today about how we Malays practise Islam still stands. I just elaborated the dilemma in today’s terms.

Is our Malay society not more insular or more superstitious than in the 80s? Ask yourselves. I won’t go into the nonsense and tahyul being preached on Malay sites that are popular today; let’s just look at the public universities that are managed and led by Malays. Did we use to have faculties in universities producing anti-hysteria kits or paranormal detection equipment or holding seminars on hell or how to interact with non-Muslims?

There’s a chief syariah judge proposing to have standard operating procedures for cases with “mystical elements”.

What is going on? Even in the 70s or 80s, such nonsense was unheard of among Malays leading our institutions.

Just reading the rants equating liberalism with perverts and everything to do with sex practically tells one of their mindset. They cannot escape from their dogmatic conservative religious notion of what makes a person a liberal.

They are intent on demonising liberalism so they can impose devoutness as they see it unto society.

Where were all these defenders of Islam and the Malays when our leaders were robbing the nation blind? Did we hear a peep from them?

I speak of leadership to change our society. I am so glad, in spite of the recalcitrant conservatives, that the Sultan of Selangor took the mantle of leadership and pronounced that the legal age of marriage be raised to 18 for Muslims. That is liberalism.

Only liberals have been calling for this to protect the childhood of our girls and to ensure they have the opportunity for education and a full life.

I am a Malay and a Muslim. I will speak up for the good of our society without fear or favour or intimidation. We need to face our demons and change to progress. Someone needs to tell the inconvenient truths.

By SITI KASSIM

National unity – an inconvenient truth?

Dear new government, if you continue to divide us, you will rue the day.

 

TWO events in recent days reminded me what is truly important to this nation.

The first was the National Day celebration on Friday in Putrajaya.

Although the euphoria over GE14 has waned, there was still enough to make me want to be part of the National Day celebration even if via my telly. So I did something I hadn’t done in years: got up early just to watch the parade.

The cameras at Dataran Putrajaya showed thousands of Malaysians who were more excited than me and had taken the trouble to line the thoroughfare to enjoy the spectacle and catch glimpses of members of the new Cabinet.

Indeed, it was deja vu to see Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali sitting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V on the VIP grandstand.

It was also a touch surreal to see several faces we once thought impossible to see in such a setting – Cabinet members such as Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Gobind Singh Deo, Lim Guan Eng, Mohamed Sabu, M. Kulasegaran and Teresa Kok.

On the pavement, the opening and closing acts by flag-waving young Malaysians dancing in unison warmed the cockles of my heart.

I appreciated the effort to ensure all races were brought together to perform in a show of unity, emphasising the slogan: Sayangi Malaysiaku.

Yes, I do love my Malaysia, as do millions of others who were born and bred in this gracious, blessed land. That birthright is what unites us all.

And that is the key lesson to the well-being of our nation – unity.

Which leads me to the second event: the GE14-inspired movie, Rise: Ini Kalilah.

I caught it on Monday night and relived somewhat that incredible time when Malaysian history was made.

While not perfectly told and it is a story that only Malaysians can fully understand and appreciate, the movie has enough to keep its audience interested and it ultimately delivers the feel-good factor as it too reinforces the power of unity; that is, what can be achieved when enough citizens unite for a common cause.

Yet that power was never properly developed because it was politically inexpedient.

For its own political survival, especially after the 2008 GE, the Barisan Nasional government preferred to use race and religion to divide and rule the nation. That ultimately wreaked havoc on our interracial ties, as stated in local human rights group Pusat KOMAS’ Malaysia Racial Discrimination Report released in March this year.

National unity, as far can I can remember, was trotted out as important only after something bad had happened.

It took the terrible May 13, 1969, racial riots for the government to set up the National Unity Council.

The council was disbanded in 1971 and replaced by the National Unity Advisory Council, whose secretariats were the Department of National Unity and the National Muhibbah Office.

The two agencies were merged to form the National Unity Ministry in 1972. But it only lasted till 1974, when it was replaced by the National Unity Board.

The next time national unity took the spotlight was after GE13. The results showed the need to do something to reduce racial polarisation and to build a “united Malaysian nation”. That led to the formation of the National Unity Consultative Council in September 2013.

The NUCC held a series of meetings with agencies and NGOs to formulate a National Unity Blueprint. In 2014, it proposed three so-called Harmony Bills to replace the Sedition Act.

But the Act remained and the Bills became mired in controversy since they would make it mandatory for the government and all persons to promote equality and prohibit discrimination based on religion, race, birthplace, gender and disability. That was somehow anathema to the Malay agenda and the Bills went on the backburner.

It would appear the previous government saw the need for better national unity as an inconvenient truth and continued to use it for “display purposes only.”

So whither national unity in New Malaysia?

Political scientist Chandra Muzaffar, in criticising Pakatan for leaving it out in its election manifesto, wants the new government to make its stand known and emphasise the Rukunegara to show “it is serious and sincere about one of Malaysia’s foremost challenges but would have also demonstrated that it is crystal-clear about the direction we should take as a people.”

But others take a different view. Prolific online commentator T.K. Chua says: “What is the point of declaring unity as our goal when our policies, programmes and actions are doing just the opposite?”

He adds: “It is time to stop the endless declarations and slogans typical of a third world country. We can’t talk ourselves to national unity. National unity is the product of years of inclusive policies, programmes and actions.”

And that is what he wants to see in the Pakatan government – action, or in today’s jargon, walk the walk.

I take both views to be important: talk the talk and walk the walk. In our fractured nation, we sorely need to hear Pakatan leaders openly and loudly embrace national unity as a must-do KPI and then see them implement it in all their policies and actions for the long haul. Only then can we hold them to their words and judge them by their actions.

For now, Pakatan still seems dazed by its own victory and further stunned to find government machinery that Dr Mahathir says is broken.

If that is the case, Pakatan has the chance to rebuild the machinery that was abused by its predecessors and set it right. No more “divide and rule” but “one for all and all for one”!

By June H L Wong
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The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics messed up!

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religious-centric tactics and policies of the past, thinking this is
what they need to do to keep the votes, it will just be the repeat of
past mistakes of the Umno era.

 

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The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics messed up!


Old politics: If the leadership keeps to the racialist, feudalist and religious-centric tactics and policies of the past, thinking this is what they need to do to keep the votes, it will just be the repeat of past mistakes of the Umno era.

The issue is whether any of the Malay leadership  would be willing
to change its society from a religious-centric one to one that is
progressive and modern in character

A HIGH-level panel has been announced to review the administration of Islamic Institutions at the Federal level. Commendably, all views from the general public is welcomed. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal is also quoted as saying, in the announcement of this Panel, that it was appropriate that the related institutions undergo improvement so as to protect the religion of Islam, as well as promote its universal values in the country.

So here is a short opinion – Islam does not need protection, nor does it need to be institutionalised.

As a Muslim, I believe in God Almighty. His religion does not need anyone’s help, least of all from fallible human beings. Islam and God has no need for anything, but human beings do. No one represents Islam. Everyone represents their version of Islam that suits their wants and needs. These include those in political parties that say it represents Islam but simply do not. They merely represent their personal human interest for power and authority.

We need our Government to protect us from people who want to wield powers upon others by using religion as their weapon. That is what we Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims need. I want to ask the political leaders of Malaysia, elected and unelected: What do you intend to do to protect us from those in power whose interest is to wield their religion over others?

In Malaysia today, we are obsessed with religion. Politicians and Ministers talk about religion and upholding religion. We have dedicated channels and programmes on religion on mainstream TV. Teachers force their religion and religious interpretations on children. Even the technical department, JKR (Public Works Department) for example, has set up sign boards espousing religious thoughts. Ever go to civil service offices? Observe just how many religious seminar banners and thoughts are plastered all over these places. Sometimes I wonder whether these are public services departments or religious propaganda functionaries.

Why this parade of religion in the public sphere? Is it because our people obsess on religion, as they personally have got nothing else of substance to promote that would enhance their work and the lives of the people they serve? Or that they have to cling to religion as that is their one and only part of their lives that provide them any sense of self-worth?

Today, our Malay society has become a society so religiously judgemental that the sight of a woman without head-cover is practically blasphemous.

Think about this, after all the hue and cry of the 41 year old with 2 wives, from Kelantan who groomed his third, 11 year old child bride from the poor family in Thailand, the state religious authority penalised him for an unregistered marriage and then, instead of voiding it, basically approves the marriage. A significant portion of our Malay- Muslim society rejoiced!

Can a Malay society, more insular and superstitious in thought, that is now funding thousands of religious schools and Tahfiz centres/boarding houses than ever before in its history, create a population that is competitive to succeed in the 21st century?

Can it even compete on a fair footing with the rest of the Malaysian non-Muslim population? Malays have been given preferential places in universities, GLCs and the civil service for more than 40 years now, what have we got to show for it? Uncompetitive universities, a significant pool of unemployable Malay graduates and with most being employed by the civil service and the failed GLCs, and such corrupt administrations that a 93- year-old man has to come back to be the Prime Minister, that’s what. Would more religion help? Or would it make the population less competitive? Let us all be honest.

This has been the unintended consequence of the assimilation of Islamic values in governance (“penerapan nilai-nilai Islam”) instituted in 1985. The road to hell, they say, is always paved with good intentions. If nothing is done this nightmare is just beginning for the Malay society and Malaysian in general will suffer for it.

If we want to see where our nation is headed with this type of ideology and cultural religious mind-set besetting 60% of our population, we don’t have to look far to Saudi Arabia or Iran or even Aceh, we just need to see the state of governance and life in Kelantan. Democracy is only as good as an informed and intellectually challenging population. The Nazis in Germany and the Mullahs in Iran were all elected by the majority. Today, the Iranians are rebelling against their repressive theocratic Government but the Mullahs are not going to let go of power that easily. Thousands are in jail. But our Malays don’t seem to see or learn the lesson. Erdogan is taking Turkey on that road to already disastrous consequences and many of our Malays applaud.

The only reason the majority of the Malays today are satisfied with their lives to carry on being religiously obsessed, thinking non-stop of the afterlife and judging others, while the non-Malays are focused on bettering themselves in this life, is that the Malays, by and large, has been able to live off the teats of the Government in one way or another. It has been a fulfilled entitlement that will end sooner rather than later.

This gravy train has stopped. Mahathir and Robert Kuok, two 90-year-old plus statesmen, had to go to China almost in tribute with offerings, to extricate us from the mess our Malay leaders have created.

Unfortunately, Malays are oblivious to this fact. In fact, even most non-Malays are oblivious to the fact that if we do nothing, 30 to 40% of the population cannot sustain 100% of us. You need the remaining, at least, majority of that 60% to be able to truly contribute economically and not be consumers of tax from the minorities. And religion is not an economic contributor. It is an unproductive consumer of epic proportions with no returns.

Mahathir came to lead the Government in 1981 and transform an agricultural hamlet into an industrial one with liberal economic policies powered by an industrious non-Malay population and the liberal segment of the Malay society.

This was the population that made the country progress. Mahathir was not popular as a result of Islamisation. Mahathir was and is popular because he brought progress, prosperity and in-turn unity and pride in the country to everyone as Malaysians. He brought revolutionary change to real life. For all intents and purposes, he was a liberal progressive leader.

A progressive leadership will only be elected by a progressive society. The only reason the Pakatan Harapan government was elected was because the progressive societies of the non-Malays and the liberal Malay voted for it. We saved the nation, again. Unfortunately, that liberal segment is now forgotten and vilified. Malay liberals who are capable and focused on a productive life are labelled blasphemous and extremists, and shunned by the leadership in power, no matter who are in power.

The religious conservatives, on the other hand, are courted and coddled as if they will be the ever-lasting vote bank that must be assuaged. Think again on this paradigm. Malay swing votes are persuadable but only if the leadership shows the way.

If the leadership keeps to the racialist, feudalist, and religious-centric policies of the past, thinking this is what they need to do to keep the votes, they will just be repeating past mistakes of the Umno era. More of the Malay population will move to the right of centre towards the Mullahs. It is an inevitable outcome of such a policy. Islamisation was a counter to PAS, it only made Umno the old PAS, and PAS the new Taliban and a stronger party every year from that time onwards.

Religion by its very nature will always veer towards conservatism and fundamentalism, no matter how one wants to spin those words. Because institutionalised religion is about following. The attractiveness of institutionalised religion is the abdication of thinking to religious leaders with easy answers one shall not question. More so, when the population is uncompetitive against the outside world. In Malaysia, we have one of the most sophisticated array of institutionalised Islam in the world today.

So, without a change from the religious-centric environment the Malay society is currently in, and an education system that indoctrinates rather than enhance critical thinking, Malay society will continually drift towards the insularity of religious conservatism and away from progressive capabilities to succeed in the modern world. And population demographic will ensure that a progressive Government will eventually lose out.

Therein lies the real Malay dilemma.

Would any of the Malay leadership be willing to change its society from a religious centric one to one that is progressive and modern in character?

Do you want our Malay society to continue to regress and be uncompetitive? Do you want it to drag the rest of us down the road of conservatism and economic ruin?

As Malay leaders, do you placate or do you lead for change?

How do you lead that change?

Credit to Siti Kasim –

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Star.

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Malaysia needs more childcare & daycare centres


https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/08/13/malaysia-needs-more-childcare-centres-dpm-we-are-also-in-dire-need-of-qualified-workers-to-ensure-sa/

PUTRAJAYA: There is a dire need for more qualified childcare workers and registered childcare centres in the country, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that these shortages could adversely affect the safety and quality of care for Malaysian children.

“Data from the Welfare Department showed that up to June this year, the number of childcare workers looking after children four years and below is 16,873.

“Out of this, only 3,173 of them have the minimum qualification of a childcare course,” said Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
She was speaking at the launch of the National Childcare Centre Day 2018 themed “Equality” at the IOI City Mall here yesterday.

Dr Wan Azizah added that the rest of childcare workers in the country, all 13,700 or 80.19% of them, did not have the minimum qualification for the job.

She said the lack of qualified childcare workers contributed to the lack of registered childcare centres in the country.

“Calculations based on a census done by Malaysian Statistics Department showed that we need to have 38,333 registered childcare centres.

“However, the actual number at present is only 4,302,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said her ministry took a serious view on the safety of children at childcare centres and at the homes of childcare providers.

“We are looking at the need to improve on the Child Care Centre Act and regulations on childcare centres to fit the current needs and situation,” she said.

She added that her ministry was also studying how to utilise information and communication technology to be included in the childcare system in the country. The Star

 

Youth unemployment hit record high in 2017: MIDF Research


Young and jobless | Invest Cyberjaya

Graduate unemployment was 45.5 of overall jobless amid skills mismatch and demand for low-skilled jobs, says MIDF Research

PETALING JAYA: Youth unemployment was at its highest ever at 10.8% in 2017, of which graduate unemployment constituted about 40.5% or 204,000 of total unemployment due to skills mismatch amid a backdrop where demand for low-skill jobs continues to reign – which in turn may leave the government falling short of its 35% skilled workforce target by 2020, according to MIDF Research.

For every 100 jobs available, there are 76 jobs for elementary occupations and 10 jobs for plant and machinery operators and assemblers, which leaves 14 jobs for the high-skill and other low-skill occupations.

About 86.3% of job vacancies in 2017 were for low-skill jobs which was deemed less suitable for a fresh graduate while high-skill jobs such as professional, technicians and associate professionals, comprised 4.1% of the total job vacancies.

It noted that the high single- and double-digit unemployment rate among youth, defined as those between 15 and 24 years old, as being normal not only in Malaysia, but in Europe, the US and South Korea.

The high youth unemployment rate was mainly contributed by soaring graduate unemployment, despite the steady increase in tertiary-educated workers joining the workforce, which was also the fastest growing segment at 4.1%, followed by secondary at 3.2% and no formal education by 0.3%.

Employment share of professionals and technicians and associate professionals improved to 12.2% and 10.5% in 2017 expanding at 0.8% and 4.6% respectively.

“In terms of share, the rising stake of skilled-worker or tertiary-educated is in line with the Eleventh Malaysia Plan. Under the plan, the government estimated skilled-worker to total workforce ratio to touch 35% by 2020. Nevertheless, we view the ratio is not expected to reach the target at the current pace,” MIDF Research said.

“We forecast the skilled-worker ratio to register at 32% by 2020. Continuous improvement in production efficiency, resource allocations and better technology adoptions under the Industry 4.0 will facilitate and accelerate the productivity level in Malaysia in the long run,” it added.

The overall unemployment rate in the country remained low at 3.4% last year.

Malacca remains as the state with the lowest youth unemployment rate for the seventh consecutive year at 2.9% while Sabah recorded the highest at 13.5% in 2017.

Meanwhile, Selangor the largest employer, 23.2% of total national employment saw overall unemployment rate of 2.8% and youth unemployment rate of 9.4% last year.

The overall youth unemployment rate across all states registered poor performances compared with the previous year, 2016.

In 2018, the youth unemployment rate is expected to fall slightly to 9.9% and the overall unemployment rate to stand at 3.3%.

The job market outlook for commodity-based sectors is expected to improve in tandem with recovering commodity prices. This in line with anticipation of improvement in global trade, and higher demand for export products is expected to benefit industries such as electrical & electronics and mining.- sunbiz@thesundaily.com
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Goodbye, Silicon Valley


Greener pastures: Wang at his company’s headquarters in Shanghai. The successful Silicon Valley alumni was lured
back to China by the promise of a brighter future.

Chinese-born talents are abandoning California for riches back home with the rise of China’s new titans.

A FEW years ago, Wang Yi was living the American dream. He had graduated from Princeton, landed a job at Google and bought a spacious condo in Silicon Valley.

But one day in 2011, he sat his wife down at the kitchen table and told her he wanted to move back to China. He was bored working as a product manager for the search giant and felt the pull of starting his own company in their homeland.

It wasn’t easy persuading her to abandon balmy California for smog-choked Shanghai.

“We’d just discovered she was pregnant,” said Wang, now 37, recalling hours spent pacing their apartment. “It was a very uneasy few weeks before we made our decision, but in the end she came around.”

His bet paid off: his popular English teaching app Liulishuo or LingoChamp raised US$100mil (RM397mil) in July, putting him in the growing ranks of successful Silicon Valley alumni lured back to China by the promise of a brighter future. His decision is emblematic of an unprecedented trend with disquieting implications for Valley stalwarts from Facebook Inc to Alphabet Inc’s Google.

US-trained Chinese-born talent is becoming a key force in driving Chinese companies’ global expansion and the country’s efforts to dominate next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Where college graduates once coveted a prestigious overseas job and foreign citizenship, many today gravitate towards career opportunities at home, where venture capital is now plentiful and the government dangles financial incentives for cutting-edge research.

“More and more talent is moving over because China is really getting momentum in the innovation area,” said Ken Qi, a headhunter for Spencer Stuart and leader of its technology practice.

“This is only the beginning.” Chinese have worked or studied abroad and then returned home long enough that there’s a term for them – “sea turtles”. But while a job at a US tech giant once conferred near-unparalleled status, homegrown companies – from giants like Tencent Holdings Ltd to up-and-comers like news giant Toutiao – are now often just as prestigious. Baidu Inc – a search giant little-known outside of China – convinced ex-Microsoft standout Qi Lu to helm its efforts in AI, making him one of the highest-profile returnees of recent years.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s coming-out party was a catalyst. The e-commerce giant pulled off the world’s largest initial public offering in 2014 – a record that stands – to drive home the scale and inventiveness of the country’s corporations.

Alibaba and Tencent now count among the 10 most valuable companies in the world, in the ranks of Amazon.com Inc and Facebook.

Chinese venture capital rivals the United States: three of the world’s five most valuable startups are based in Beijing, not California.

Tech has supplanted finance as the biggest draw for overseas Chinese returnees, accounting for 15.5% of all who go home, according to a 2017 survey of 1,821 people conducted by think-tank Centre for China & Globalisation and jobs site Zhaopin.com. That’s up 10% from their last poll, in 2015.

Not all choose to abandon the Valley. Of the more than 850,000 AI engineers across America, 7.9% are Chinese, according to a 2017 report from LinkedIn.

That naturally includes plenty of ethnic Chinese without strong ties to the mainland or any interest in working there. However, there are more AI engineers of Chinese descent in the United States than there are in China, even though they make up less than 1.6% of the American population.

Yet the search for returnees has spurred a thriving cottage industry.

In WeChat and Facebook cliques, headhunters and engineers from the diaspora exchange banter and animated gifs.

Qi watches for certain markers: if you’ve scored permanent residency, are childless or the kids are prepping for college, expect a knock on your digital door.

Jay Wu has poached over 100 engineers for Chinese companies over the past three years. The co-founder of Global Career Path ran online communities for students before turning it into a career. The San Francisco resident now trawls more than a dozen WeChat groups for leads.

“WeChat is a good channel to keep tabs on what’s going on in the circle and also broadcast our offline events,” he said.

Ditching Cupertino or Mountain View for Beijing can be a tough sell when China’s undergoing its harshest Internet crackdown in history. But its tech giants hold three drawcards: faster growth in salaries, opportunity and a sense of home.

China’s Internet space is enjoying bubbly times, with compensation sometimes exceeding American peers’. One startup was said to have hired an AI engineer for cash and shares worth as much as US$30mil (RM119mil) over four years.

For engineers reluctant to relinquish American comforts, Chinese companies are going to them. Alibaba, Tencent, Uber-slayer Didi Chuxing and Baidu are among those who have built or are expanding labs in Silicon Valley.

Career opportunities, however, are regarded as more abundant back home. While Chinese engineers are well represented in the Valley, the perception is that comparatively fewer advance to the top rungs, a phenomenon labelled the “Bamboo Ceiling”.

“More and more Chinese engineers who have worked in Silicon Valley for an extended period of time end up finding it’s much more lucrative for them career-wise to join a fast-rising Chinese company,”

says Hans Tung, a managing partner at venture firm GGV who’s organised events to poach talent.

“At Google, at LinkedIn, at Uber, at AirBnB, they all have Chinese engineers who are trying to figure out ‘should I stay, or should I go back’.”

More interesting than prospects for some may be the sheer volume of intimate data available and leeway to experiment in China.

Tencent’s WeChat, built by a small team in months, has become a poster-child for in-house creative licence.

Modern computing is driven by crunching enormous amounts of data, and generations of state surveillance has conditioned the public to be less concerned about sharing information than Westerners.

Local startup SenseTime for instance has teamed with dozens of police departments to track everything from visages to races, helping the country develop one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance machines.

China’s 751 million Internet users have thus become a massive petri dish.

Big money and bigger data can be irresistible to those itching to turn theory into reality.

Xu Wanhong left Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science PhD programme in 2010 to work on Facebook’s news feed.

A chance meeting with a visiting team from Chinese startup UCAR Technology led to online friendships and in 2015, an offer to jump ship. Today he works at Kuaishou, a video service said to be valued at more than US$3bil (RM12bil), and commutes from 20km outside Beijing. It’s a far cry from the breakfast bar and lush spaces of Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.

“I didn’t go to the US for a big house. I went for the interesting problems,” he said.

Then there are those for whom it’s about human connection: no amount of tech can erase the fact that Shanghai and San Francisco are separated by an 11-hour flight and an even wider cultural chasm.

Chongqing native Yang Shuishi grew up deifying the West, adopting the name Seth and landing a dream job as a software engineer on Microsoft’s Redmond campus.

But suburban America didn’t suit a single man whose hometown has about 40 times Seattle’s population.

While he climbed the ranks during subsequent stints at Google and Facebook, life in America remained a lonely experience and he landed back in China.

“You’re just working as a cog in the huge machine and you never get to see the big picture.

“My friends back in China were thinking about the economy and vast social trends,” he said.

“Even if I get killed by the air and live shorter for 10 years, it’ll still be better.” – Bloomberg

Related Link:

Next Crisis Will Start in Silicon Valley – Bloomberg

Chinese workers abandon Silicon Valley for riches back home …

Only the brave teach


Show of solidarity: Fellow teachers and
unionists gathering at the Seremban magistrate court last month in
support of Cikgu Azizan (centre in white).

 

ONE tight slap – I still vividly remember that hard, stinging smack across my cheek as my teacher flew into a fit of rage after I did something naughty as a primary school pupil at St Xavier’s Institution in Penang.

I can’t recall which teacher hit me, but there must have been more than one. They pinched my stomach and even my nipples. Many of my classmates can attest to that, even 40 years on.

There was also the occasional caning, which I felt was an act of gross injustice and, perhaps, even one of perversion on the part of our disciplinary teacher. To me, back then, he was an unfair individual, and my opinion still stands. To this day, I have no idea why I was caned and not given the chance to defend myself.

But, bless his soul, because he has passed on. Most students from back then would have forgiven him by now, for he probably knew not what he was doing.

However, one thing is certain – as far as I know, none of us returned home and complained about this disciplinary action to our parents.

Comedian Harith Iskandar always reminds his audience that if one complained to their parents, they can expect to get another tight slap that “would burn your face and send an electrifying chilling effect to all parts of your body,” and consequently, leave a lifetime’s reminder.

So, the smartest thing to do, as most older Malaysians can testify, was to keep quiet. Of course, we also warned our classmates, some of whom were our neighbors, to swear to keep things under wraps and not tell their parents about the drama at school.

The caning and slaps, by disciplinary standards, were the “final” punishments. We surely remember the use of rulers, feather dusters, belts, black board dusters and in my case, even a shoe that flew in my direction.

And I wasn’t even in the naughty boys’ category. I didn’t get into fights or was caught loitering with the bad hats after school.

As one writer, Adrian Lee Yuen Beng, wrote in Aliran: “The teachers were our ad hoc parents who taught with joy and passion, and like their predecessors, never demanded any recognition. They customarily stood at the back of the class, silently rejoicing as the students celebrated their exam success.

“We received an education steeped in tradition as mission schoolteachers took teaching seriously; it was not a mere job, but a vocation, nay, a calling.

“Our teachers were proud of their lessons and believed in their form of education. They shaped us into intellectuals, sportspersons, politicians, educators, religionists, physicians and other important societal figures.”

Fast forward to today – and it’s the total reverse. The guilty party – the student – runs home to complain to his parents.

Now, the father and mother fly into a rage and decide to confront the teacher at school the following day. What unnecessary drama!

Adding insult to injury, the parents then seek the help of a politician, who has likely been deprived of the media’s glare for a while. Then, all three confront the teacher.

Lodging a police report is, of course, the next thing they do, and to embarrass the teacher and school further, they call for a press conference.

This is modern Malaysia. Perhaps, today’s family is smaller. There are only one or two children in a family, and they are, invariably, pampered.

During my time, there were at least four or five siblings and even so, we were still regarded a small family. Dad was always too busy earning a living, trying to put food on the table, so, he was thankful that the teacher played surrogate father, at least during school hours. The lesser-educated father would have been equally respectful of teachers. After all, it’s accepted that teachers mould the character, calibre and prospects of their students.

However, the modern-day father thinks he’s smarter and earns more than the teacher, his condescending and confrontational attitude not boding well for the situation.

He probably thinks the teacher has a dead-end job or is too busy distributing business cards to pupils for after-school tuition.

But, for an old-school type like me, I find it difficult to accept news of teachers being hauled to court for purportedly hurting their students.

Honestly, don’t the police and prosecutors have better things to do than to charge these teachers who were merely trying to discipline the children – responsibilities which may have been neglected by their caregivers?

In December, a teacher facing the charge of hurting his student, was given a discharge not amounting to acquittal by the magistrate’s court.

Magistrate Mohd Zaki Abdul Rahim delivered judgement after the prosecution told the court that they wished to withdraw the case.

Azizan Manap, also known as Cikgu Azizan, claimed trial to the charge of slapping an 11-year-old male student on the left cheek in April for indiscipline, the misdemeanour including sniffing glue, bullying and playing truant.

He was charged under Section 323 of the Penal Code for voluntarily causing hurt and was left facing a jail term of up to a year, a fine of RM,2000, or both, upon conviction.

Leading up to his discharge, several hundred people, including fellow teachers, gathered at the court in a show of solidarity for Cikgu Azizan.

By all means, go ahead and Google it: there are numerous reports of teachers threatened or roughed up in schools, and surprisingly, we seldom hear of offensive parents charged in court for criminal intimidation or causing bodily harm.

We have now been made to understand that the old ways don’t work anymore. The children need counselling and their hair needs to be stroked to motivate them. Have these methods worked better? That remains to be conclusively proven.

One thing’s for sure, though, the tight slap was unbeatable in my time in instilling discipline. Now, when I enter a lift, the millennials are too busy looking at their handphones, so don’t expect them to address you as “sir” or even greet you.

You’d be lucky if they called you “bro” and gave you an enthusiastic high-five, instead.

Would the proverbial one tight slap work today in curing disciplinary ills? Hardly likely.

By Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

New Year 2018 high for Malaysia


FBM KLCI moves higher past 1,800 mark while ringgit breaches RM4 level

In a synchronised fashion, the ringgit, stock market and exports are all glowing for Malaysia. Add this to the rising price of crude oil, economists are expecting the good start to the year to continue leading up to GE14. Experts foresee these translating to lower import costs and more affordable overseas education.

 

Busa and ringgit on a high

PETALING JAYA: In a rare occurrence, the local capital markets got off to a roaring start in the first week of the new year.

US$ vs ringgit at 3.9965 

Sentiments on the stock market picked up as it sailed through the 1,800 mark, the ringgit breached the RM4 level against the US dollar and the latest trade numbers released showed that exports have hit record levels.

FBM KLCI up 14.52pts to 1,817.97

The FBM KLCI, a key benchmark for the local stock market, closed at 1,817.97, up 14.52 points yesterday – the highest since April 2015. Analysts and fund managers expect the upward momentum to continue, leading to the 14th General Election (GE14).

“The local stock market is set to continue its upward momentum, with investors in optimistic mood, lingering upon expectations of the GE14,” an analyst said.

The Malaysian stock market is now playing catch-up with key regional markets in other countries that have been moving up.

For instance, in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at fresh record highs above 25,000. Trading volume on Bursa has risen sharply to a high of nearly six billion shares valued at RM3.94bil. This is the highest since 2014.

“The increasing volume is an indicator of more investors joining the fray,” said the analyst.

The ringgit also perked up against the US dollar and strengthened to 3.9945 yesterday, the strongest level since August 2016.

Crude oil prices continue to climb with the Brent Crude rising above US$67 per barrel. Apart from a brief spike in May 2015, this is the highest price levels it has reached since December 2014, when the oil price started its slide down.

Exports in November rise to RM83.50bil

Exports hit record high of RM83.5bil in November – Business News …

Adding to the optimism, the country’s latest trade data for November showed that exports exceeded expectations and rose to a monthly high of RM83.5bil. This is an increase of 14.4% from last year.

The head of UOB Kay Hian Malaysia Research, Vincent Khoo, expects global and local conditions to be favourable for the local stock market as sentiment builds up for the GE14.

“Malaysia has been a laggard and now it is reversing its underperformance. Liquidity is strong locally and internationally as there is more foreign funds participation.

“Economic numbers are strong and export momentum continues to be solid,” Khoo said.

Socio Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie said there were continued optimism and positive sentiments on the global economy and markets.

He said the tax reforms in the US would beef up corporate earnings while central banks around the world were raising rates.

The impending GE14, he added, spurred investors’ interest in the stock market and the recovery in oil prices continued to lift the demand for ringgit.

He said the ringgit had a good rally since the last Bank Negara meeting and the upcoming meeting on Jan 29 might see the central bank review its overnight policy rates (OPR) upwards.

The OPR now is 3.25% and many are expecting it to increase, a move that would spur banks to raise their interest rates.

Additionally, Lee said trade data was better than expected and as long as the macro numbers and earnings deliver, it would lift sentiments on market.

Nonetheless, he said investors might be a bit cautious when the dissolution of Parliament was announced.

Meanwhile, Oanda head of trading Asia-Pacific Stephen Innes said Bursa Malaysia was playing catchup as the ringgit remained undervalued in a lot of fund managers’ portfolio.

“But I think the current run will take us to 3.90 (against the US dollar) but at this stage, I think the market is starting to factor in the Bank Negara rate hike in January.

“So we may see a slower appreciation of the ringgit and we should expect profit taking ahead of the rate decision (by BNM) later in the month,” he added.

On the external front, Inness said the global equity market rally was benefiting from higher commodity prices in general and specifically oil prices.

“The recent supply disruptions are having a much more significant impact on prices given Opec’s (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) recent production cut and the market is certainly much tighter than it has been in the past.

“Rising oil prices bode well for the FBM KLCI given that oil and gas constituents play a big role in the KLCI make-up. However, I don’t think this is strictly an isolated oil play but it is also rallying on the global growth narrative which is supporting export-oriented firms,” Innes said.

By leong hung yee The Staronline

Bursa and ringgit on a high

 

FBM KLCI moves higher past 1,800 mark while ringgit breaches RM4 level

PETALING JAYA: In a rare occurrence, the local capital markets got off to a roaring start in the first week of the new year.

Sentiments on the stock market picked up as it sailed through the 1,800 mark, the ringgit breached the RM4 level against the US dollar and the latest trade numbers released showed that exports have hit record levels.

The FBM KLCI, a key benchmark for the local stock market, closed at 1,817.97, up 14.52 points yesterday – the highest since April 2015. Analysts and fund managers expect the upward momentum to continue, leading to the 14th General Election (GE14).

“The local stock market is set to continue its upward momentum, with investors in optimistic mood, lingering upon expectations of the GE14,” an analyst said.

The Malaysian stock market is now playing catch-up with key regional markets in other countries that have been moving up.

For instance, in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at fresh record highs above 25,000. Trading volume on Bursa has risen sharply to a high of nearly six billion shares valued at RM3.94bil. This is the highest since 2014.

“The increasing volume is an indicator of more investors joining the fray,” said the analyst.

The ringgit also perked up against the US dollar and strengthened to 3.9945 yesterday, the strongest level since August 2016.

Crude oil prices continue to climb with the Brent Crude rising above US$67 per barrel. Apart from a brief spike in May 2015, this is the highest price levels it has reached since December 2014, when the oil price started its slide down.

Adding to the optimism, the country’s latest trade data for November showed that exports exceeded expectations and rose to a monthly high of RM83.5bil. This is an increase of 14.4% from last year.

The head of UOB Kay Hian Malaysia Research, Vincent Khoo, expects global and local conditions to be favourable for the local stock market as sentiment builds up for the GE14.

“Malaysia has been a laggard and now it is reversing its underperformance. Liquidity is strong locally and internationally as there is more foreign funds participation.

“Economic numbers are strong and export momentum continues to be solid,” Khoo said.

Socio Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie said there were continued optimism and positive sentiments on the global economy and markets.

He said the tax reforms in the US would beef up corporate earnings while central banks around the world were raising rates.

The impending GE14, he added, spurred investors’ interest in the stock market and the recovery in oil prices continued to lift the demand for ringgit.

He said the ringgit had a good rally since the last Bank Negara meeting and the upcoming meeting on Jan 29 might see the central bank review its overnight policy rates (OPR) upwards.

The OPR now is 3.25% and many are expecting it to increase, a move that would spur banks to raise their interest rates.

Additionally, Lee said trade data was better than expected and as long as the macro numbers and earnings deliver, it would lift sentiments on market.

Nonetheless, he said investors might be a bit cautious when the dissolution of Parliament was announced.

Meanwhile, Oanda head of trading Asia-Pacific Stephen Innes said Bursa Malaysia was playing catchup as the ringgit remained undervalued in a lot of fund managers’ portfolio.

“But I think the current run will take us to 3.90 (against the US dollar) but at this stage, I think the market is starting to factor in the Bank Negara rate hike in January.

“So we may see a slower appreciation of the ringgit and we should expect profit taking ahead of the rate decision (by BNM) later in the month,” he added.

On the external front, Inness said the global equity market rally was benefiting from higher commodity prices in general and specifically oil prices.

“The recent supply disruptions are having a much more significant impact on prices given Opec’s (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) recent production cut and the market is certainly much tighter than it has been in the past.

“Rising oil prices bode well for the FBM KLCI given that oil and gas constituents play a big role in the KLCI make-up. However, I don’t think this is strictly an isolated oil play but it is also rallying on the global growth narrative which is supporting export-oriented firms,” Innes said.

Experts see good tidings in firmer currency

Back in favour:People queuing to change the ringgit for US Dollar at a money exchange outlet in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Lower import costs and more affordable overseas education are among the benefits brought about by a firmer ringgit and bullish stockmarket.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap said the rise in the ringgit is a sign of growing confidence in the nation’s economy.

“These are good signs which have set a feel-good mood for the market. What is most important is for the ringgit to remain stable as business needs this rather than having to hedge on the foreign exchange,” he said.

However, a stronger ringgit could act as a “double-edged sword”, Ter added, as exports would now cost higher.

“Exporters may not make the windfall profit as before but they had adjusted to this,” said Ter, who is also Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president Datuk Garry Chua said a stronger ringgit bodes well for retailers that rely heavily on imports.

“In the end, the shoppers will benefit as cost of products would be lower due to the exchange rate,” he said.

Chua said the positive stock run was also good news for retailers and consumers.

“People tend to spend more due to easy earnings from the market and this is good for business,” he said.

Malaysia Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president Tan Sri Kenneth Eswaran said the positive developments showed that the nation’s economic transformation is on the right track.

“The ringgit breaking the RM4 barrier and the stock market climb are signs showing the Government’s economic transformation plans are bearing fruit. Traders and consumers will now enjoy lower import costs,” he said.

Taylor’s University deputy vice chancellor Prof Dr Pradeep Nair said the ringgit’s rally is expected to continue and strengthen below the RM4 region.

“For the education sector, this will be beneficial for parents who wish to send their children abroad to do part or whole of their studies to countries like the US, UK and Australia, should the trend continue,” he said.

He said a firmer ringgit would not have a major impact on incoming foreign students.

“We are still relatively cheaper than other countries that use English as the medium of teaching and we will remain one of the preferred destinations for foreign students looking for affordable, quality education,” he said.

Sunway Education Group senior executive director Dr Elizabeth Lee said some parents would be more willing to send their children abroad for further studies.

“I sense that enthusiasm in parents who enrolled their children with us. They are more confident of supporting their higher education throughout,” she said.

By martin carvalho The Staronline

Ringgit boost for investors, importers 

Companies which lost out during a low ringgit recouping fast

Ringgit on uptrend: People queuing up to change money at a money changer. The ringgit has broken past the crucial 4.00 level.

THE New Year is in, tides are changing and the ringgit is recovering from the past two year’s extreme blues.

The long-awaited reprieve has finally come for certain consumer companies that import intermediary goods for their production cycle.

Foreigners who have taken advantage by accumulating and buying into the equity and/or bond market when the ringgit was at a weaker level last year, would be firmly in the money now.

Analysts see the local currency as now being on a cruise control climb mode moving to new highs in the past week and possibly in the near future.

They note that the foreign buyers would see two-way gains and would be able to realise their gains if they choose to.

“If they liquidate and take the money out they will realise the gains and benefit. Last year the ringgit strengthened by almost 10.4%. Ringgit already broke the crucial 4.00 level, assuming that they make money from the market and take it out, they will also pay less to convert to US dollar,” Socio Economic Research Centre’s executive director Lee Heng Guie tells StarBiz Week.

The ringgit had seen a gain of 0.64% after we entered the New Year, adding to its gains that was achieved in the past two months of 5.63%.<

Currency strategists agree that the next crucial psychological mark would be the 3.80 level that is the infamous currency peg level some years after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

The recovering oil prices with the lifting of equity markets due to strong global sentiment aided gains in the ringgit, Lee says.

The FBM KLCI saw a strong upward move as investors celebrated Christmas and ushered in the New Year thereafter.

The benchmark index had gained some 4.6% since Dec 19 to yesterday’s close at 1,817.97.

Meanwhile, the other companies that will stand to gain are consumer-driven companies especially those that have imported intermediary goods to manufacture or complete end products.

Lee says the strengthening ringgit, if it is sustained, would eventually help to boost the consumer sentiment index (CSI).

In the latest reported third quarter of 2017, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier) said the CSI continued to remain weak with the index having retreated further to 77.1.

“Anxieties over higher prices grow and (there are) burly spending plans amid waning incomes and jobs,” the Mier said at the release of third quarter CSI figures then.

Any CSI level below the 100 indicates weakness on the consumer front.

Lee says he is hopeful the stronger ringgit would help eventually translate to additional cost savings to the consumer in the form of lower prices.

Meanwhile, MIDF Research’s consumer stocks analyst Nabil Fithri says not all consumer companies would automatically gain from the strengthening ringgit.

He notes that the gainers among the consumer companies would mainly be those which derive their sales from the local market and have imported intermediary goods in the supply chain.

“On average, the companies that import their raw materials lock in the prices through forward contracts for the upcoming six months. So, if there are any gains to their profit margins, it would be seen in the second half of the year,” he says.

Among the companies that stand to gain from this trend are the major consumer food companies such as Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd (F&N), Nestle (M) Bhd and Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd.

Strong gains: The Dutch Lady Milk Industries
factory in Petaling Jaya. The company’s stocks had been making strong
gains since last year.
Better profit: Nestle Malaysia is one of the companies gaining from a strong ringgit.

All three stocks have been making strong gains in their share prices last year despite their high base.

Observers note that a common theme today that belies these stocks are that they derive their sales from the local market, with minimal or zero exports. Hence they will benefit from strong gains should the local currency appreciate further.

“Their raw materials that form a big part of their production are ingredients such as milk, coffee and sugar which are not readily available locally. They need to be imported and these are denominated in US dollar,” an analyst with a local research outfit says.

Two of those stocks that were mentioned above topped the gainers list on Friday: Nestle rising by RM1.20 to a new historical high of RM103.80 and F&N hitting an alltime high of RM27.82.

Investors may also want to train their sights on the smaller-capitalised consumer stocks some of which had been at a disadvantage earlier due to the weakened ringgit.

The stocks in this space include Apollo Food Holdings Bhd, Hup Seng Industries and Berjaya Food Bhd.

Apollo Food, the maker of packaged confectionery products see a big part of their sales being derived locally and their food is usually stocked in the school canteens.

The stock is trading at a current price to earnings ratio (PER) of 23.6 times and forward financial year 2018 ending April 30 (FY18) PER of 18.96 times.

The company’s second quarter profit had dropped by 11.1% to RM3.82mil primarily due to the lower ringgit then compared to the same quarter a year ago.

When the ringgit was trading above the 4.00 level then, the company had said in its prospectus that its operating environment was more challenging due to the increase in costs of raw materials.

Meanwhile, Berjaya Food Bhd could see further gains ahead as the ringgit continues its ascent.

The company owns half of the popular Starbucks franchise in Malaysia beside owning the worldwide Kenny Rogers Roasters franchise after acquiring KRR International Corp of the US in April 2008.

AmInvestment Bank Research said last month that it believed the worst is over for Berjaya Food with KRR’s robust same store sales growth following the disposal of KRR Indonesia.

The research house had highlighted that Berjaya Food would benefit from a stronger ringgit.

AmInvestment Research maintained its buy recommendation on Berjaya Food with fair value of RM1.91 per share.

“Valuations are pegged to a PER of 25 times FY19 forward, reflecting a 20% premium to its historical valuations. We think that it is justified as Berjaya Food has significantly enhanced earnings visibility following the disposal of KRR Indonesia, attractive growth off a low base and a stellar Starbucks brand,” it says.

By daniel khoo TheStaronline

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