Malaysia’s economic stimulus package of RM20bil to mitigate Covid-19 impact


Video: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/28/gdp-target-within-reach?jwsource=cl

Minimum EPF contribution by employees to be reduced by 4% from 11% to 7%, with effect from Apr 1 to Dec 31, 2020. This will potentially unlock up to RM10 billion worth of private consumption. Malaysian workers have the option to opt out from the
scheme and maintain their contribution rate
    • KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had on Thursday unveiled the RM20bil stimulus package to offset the fallout from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Below are the highlights:

    • Based on three strategies: counter Covid-19 impact, boost people-based growth, encourage quality investments

 

    • • Bank Simpanan Nasional provides RM200mil micro credit at 4% interest rate

 

    • • MAHB to cut rental for tenants, landing charges and parking fees at airports

 

    • • Postponement of income tax monthly payment for tourism-related companies

 

    • • Bank Negara provides RM2bil guaranteed financial aid for SMES at 3.75% interest rate

 

    • • All banks required to reduce monetary burden in the form of postponement of payments or rescheduling of loans

 

    • • Temporary six months discount of as much as 15% for electricity bills for hotels, tourism agencies, airlines, and shopping centres

 

    • • Hotels to get service tax breaks from next month to august

 

    • • Economic growth for 2020 expected to be between 3.2% and 4.2%

 

    • • Minimum EPF contribution by employees to be reduced from 11% to 7%, with effect from april 1 to dec 31. This could unlock up to RM10bil worth of private consumption. Malaysian contributors have the choice to opt out from the scheme and maintain their contribution rate

 

    • • A payment of RM200 to all bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) recipients scheduled for May will be brought forward to March. an additional RM100 will be paid into the bank accounts of all BSH recipients in May. Subsequently, an additional rM50 will be channelled in the form of e-tunai

 

    • • As a result of the stimulus package, fiscal deficit estimated to increase to 3.4% of GDP from targeted 3.2%

 

    • • Grants of RM1,000 to RM10,000 for entrepreneurs to promote the sale of their products on e-commerce platforms

 

    • • Securities Commission and bursa Malaysia will waive listing fees for one year, for companies seeking listing on Leading entrepreneur accelerator Platform (LEAP) or Access, Certainty, Efficiency (ACE) markets, as well as companies with market capitalisation of less than RM500mil seeking listing on the main market

 

    • • Import duty and sales tax exemption on importation or local purchase of machinery and equipment used in port operations for three years commencing april 1

 

    • • Enough source of money for now, no issuance of bonds needed

 

    • • Stimulus package to be funded by RM2 trillion savings from bank Negara, Tabung Haji, EPF

 

  • • Bureaucratic procedures will be expedited to disburse stimulus

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Interim premier Dr Mahathir back at work in Perdana Putra; fight cronyvirus?


PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has returned to his office at Perdana Putra amidst the political storm raging over the last two days.

The vehicle ferrying him was seen approaching the protocol gate here at 9.29am on Tuesday (Feb 25).

This comes a day after the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir resigned as Prime Minister, when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong accepted his resignation.

However, the King has consented for Dr Mahathir to continue running the country as interim Prime Minister until a new premier has been appointed and a new Cabinet formed.

Dr Mahathir is the only one from the Pakatan Harapan administration who is left after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cancelled the appointments of all Cabinet members.

Aside from ministers, the duties of other members the administration including the deputy prime minister, deputy ministers and political secretaries ceased, effective Feb 24.

It is learnt that ministers have packed their belongings and left with them on Monday (Feb 24) night, following the announcement that the King had accepted Dr Mahathir’s resignation.

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Regardless of who Malaysian prime minister will be, he will have vision and goals for economic development, which  China, especially through its BRI, can offer. It is expected that Malaysia’s next state leader will cooperate with China. And the same can be said of other Southeast Asian nations.

 

 Mahathir’s resignation not to affect China relations 

 

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What ails our Malaysian universities ?


 

Recent discourses about revamping our higher education system have included the following: critical thinking, empowerment, humanistic values, future proof graduates and improvising teaching methods.

Many Malaysians understand “critical thinking” as the ability to criticise something, and “future proof” as being immune from the future. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Politicians, civil servants, parents and civil society activists have uttered these concepts too often. They lament that our education system has failed.

Our leaders say we are a society devoid of critical thinkers. They swear blindly that Malaysians are left behind due to our inability to improvise in this age of rapid technological innovations.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that the developed world uses English to their advantage, but we have not.

Critics also claim that developed nations are more scientific and technologically minded, because they have the ability to think critically.

Innovation, improvisation and critical thinking have always been used in discourses of scientific, technological, technical and vocational education.

A “future proof” graduate with “humanistic values” would have acquired adequate and sustainable mental, spiritual and practical skills by now. Yet it seems the narrative we are familiar with does not tally with the reality, due to our misunderstanding of the fundamentals.

Malaysians can be globally competitive and widely respected if we decide to be consistent in the fundamentals. These fundamentals have not been mentioned as openly, but they are crucial to whether we surge ahead or fall further behind.

First, higher education should not be part of a political football game. Render quality education accessible to all. Do not confine it to a race-based quota system, with respect to student intake or hiring of lecturers and top university administrators.

Second, hire and retain academic staff in universities, based on their intellectual merit. Deans and senior university administrators must be constantly aware of any lecturer who publishes inane works, even though such nonsense may be in the form of 30 journal articles per annum.

For instance, how can research about whether the supernatural can be scientifically proven or not, be beneficial to solving our post-GE14 socio-political and religious problems?

The deans and deputy vice-chancellors must be tuned into the quality of their academic staff. They must have a basic knowledge of their contribution in their respective fields.

A dean in a social science faculty, for instance, must make it a point to have a general knowledge of all the social science fields under their charge. If not, he or she should not be a dean.

Third, heads of departments should have a collegial relationship with their fellow lecturers. There is no room for hierarchy, pulling rank or bullying.

Lecturers within a department must work as a team, within an atmosphere of mutual deference and respect. The head must provide motivation and encouragement, rather than react with jealousy and insecurity.

Academics must be encouraged to speak, deliver public lectures, engage in national and international debates, and be commended for it. Unfortunately, there is an unhealthy and counterproductive culture of egoism, selfishness, jealousy and arrogance in the corridors of our public universities.

Most, if not all, academics in a university have a doctorate. So why should there be a sense of insecurity or superiority?

Fourth, university lecturers must take pride in their teaching and writing. Whether they do so in English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil is irrelevant.

While one must be practical, what is more important is the positive attitude these academics possess when they engage in honest research.

What they choose as a research agenda and how relevant it is in the Malaysian context should be the decisive factors in academic teaching, writing and research.

Fifth, a lot more effort must go into how syllabuses are devised for various courses. Individual lecturers must take pride in the uniqueness and relevance of their syllabus.

It is my experience that such an important exercise of creating one’s syllabus is actually considered the least important of activities leading up to every semester.

Sixth, publications and research projects must be based on quality, not quantity. In the social sciences, for example, it is ineffectual to expect a new research topic to emerge every year or two, for the sake of satisfying annual KPI requirements of the research universities.

Due to our obsession with chasing KPIs and benchmarking global ranking systems, lecturers have resorted to mass production of publications and research projects. The majority are useless, and reports merely collect dust on dingy shelves.

It seems our university leadership is unaware that academic publishing has become a lucrative global business, with annual revenues exceeding billions of dollars.

This business is closely associated with the world university ranking system. Unsuspecting academics in countries like Malaysia race to publish in journals produced by these publishers, without realising that they are held at economic ransom, regardless of quality or research relevance to individual countries or regions.

It is time that Malaysian universities decide for themselves what research and publications are relevant for our own society, based on the current problems and national unity complications we face.

The high rate of unemployed university graduates is proof that there is a disconnect between what they learn in the universities and what employers want. This is due to a skewed view of the objectives of our higher education, and the quality of our educators.

We also have to be more obsessed with merit and substance, rather than what is politically expedient. For example, the appointment of a non-Malay vice chancellor of any public university in Malaysia should no longer be questioned or considered a sensitive issue.

There should be no hesitation, provided one is qualified academically, and has the right attitude towards teaching, research and intellectual development for national progress.

There is one area of higher education that has never been discussed, even though we constantly address the lack of critical thinkers and intellectuals in Malaysia.

The “Socratic Method” is a method of educational instruction that should be employed in university classrooms, in all fields. It is a method of hypothesis elimination, in that better suppositions are found during a debate or discussion.

The process of discussion involves asking a series of questions formulated as tests of logic. Instead of answering questions directly, questions are answered in the form of another question, which prompts the person or group to discover their beliefs about a topic, on their own. In this situation, the active participation of the lecturer is paramount.

Therefore, the Socratic Method encourages constant dialogue in the classroom, and sharpens the mind in logic, reason and arguments. In the process, students develop self confidence and a desire to read widely so they can engage more in classroom discussion. A silent student would feel embarrassed in a class full of chatty, logical peers.

While it is good to incorporate audio-visual techniques and other forms of innovative technology into teaching, university lecturers should not neglect the power of dialogue.

The Socratic Method would generate a cohort of graduates who will perform well in a job interview, show confidence and display a wide range of knowledge in the field. It also keeps lecturers on their toes and forces them to be updated in their respective fields. This is genuine educational empowerment, not mere rhetoric, based on fancy global terminology.
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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

 

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Malaysia’s Tax Budget 2020 highlights


KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 11): The following are the highlights of Budget 2020:

Malaysian economy

Government

  • The Bureau of Public Complaints will be replaced by the Malaysian Ombudsman to enhance govt’s governance and delivery systems
  • Govt to move forward with the formation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to increase public confidence and trust in police.
  • Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) offers to guarantee additional tranche of Samurai bonds with lower interest rate of less than 0.5% compared with 0.63% previously. The federal government plans to issue the bonds early next year. Issuance size to be determined after further discussion with JBIC.
  • Home Ministry to receive RM16.9 billion boost for 2020.
  • Allocation for Islamic affairs under PM’s Dept increased to RM1.3 billion from 1.2 billion in 2019
  • Govt has set up National Committee on Investments (NCI), chaired by Minister of Finance and Minister of International Trade and Industry
  • Allocation for Defence Ministry raised from RM13.9 billion in 2019 to RM15.6 billion in 2020

1MDB

Corporate, finance and fintech

  • Govt will continue to ensure at least 30% of tenders of each ministry are reserved for only Bumiputera contractors
  • 50% matching grant of up to RM5,000 to increase the digitalisation of operations for Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SME)
  • RM50m allocation proposed to encourage SMEs to engage in more export promotion activities
  • Govt to provide extra RM50m for SC’s My Co-Investment Fund (MyCIF) to assist SMEs that have difficulties in getting financing
  • Govt to merge Bank Pembangunan Malaysia, Danajamin Nasional, SME Bank and EXIM Bank Malaysia to restructure development financial institutions (DFI)
  • Govt allocates RM1 billion in investment incentives to attract Fortune Fortune 500 companies and global unicorns
  • Govt to offer special investment incentive package worth RM1b per year for five years to local companies capable of penetrating overseas market
  • Additional RM10m allocation to be set aside for MITI to increase monitoring to ensure approved investments are realised
  • Government evaluating Carey Island development feasibility for next growth phase
  • Govt intends to develop a 100-acre logistics hub at Special Border Economic Zone at Kota Perdana in Bukit Kayu Hitam to strengthen trade relations with Thailand
  • National Fiberisation & Connectivity Plan will adopt public-private partnership approach involving total investment of RM21.6b
  • RM20m allocation for Cradle Fund to train and offer grants to high-impact technology entrepreneurs
  • Licensing for digital banks to be opened for public consultation by year end. A framework is expected to be released in 1H2020
  • Digital bank licensing framework will be finalised by Bank Negara and open for application in the first half of 2020
  • Govt to allocate additional RM50 million to Malaysia Co-Investment Fund (MyCIF) to benefit equity crowdfunding platforms and peer-to-peer (P2P) financing platforms.
  • Ceiling on Market Development Grant (MDG) by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) raised to RM300,000. Cap on entry to export exhibitions also raised to RM25,000. RM50 million allocated to encourage SMEs to join promotional activities.

Entrepreneur

  • RM445m Bumiputera entrepreneur development grant for access to financing, provision of business premises, entrepreneurship training
  • Govt to provide loans worth RM100m under Small Industries Entrepreneurs Financing Scheme for Chinese community
  • Govt to provide RM20m in loans under entrepreneur development scheme for Indian community
    Govt to allocate RM500m as guaranteed facility for women entrepreneurs via Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd (SJPP)
  • Skim Jaminan Pinjaman Perniagaan will be enhanced, with the government guarantee raised to 80% of the loan amount while the guarantee fee is reduced to 0.75%. A RM500 million guarantee facility has been set aside especially for women entrepreneurs.
  • SME Bank will introduce two new funds: a RM200m fund specially for women entrepreneurs, and a RM300m fund to support SMEs with potential to become regional champs
  • Ministry of Entrepreneur Development to give RM10 million for advisory services and awareness for the halal industry
  • Tax incentives for venture capital and angel investors will be extended until 2023
  • Govt jobs worth RM1.3b dedicated for Bumiputera contractors

Internet and tech

  • Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP) has successfully reduced broadband prices by 49% and increased speeds by three times
  • RM250m will be set aside by MCMC to prepare broadband access via satellite technology to increase connectivity in rural Malaysia, especially Sabah and Sarawak
  • Matching grant fund of RM25m will be set aside to encourage more pioneer digital projects that benefit fibre optic infrastructure and 5G
  • RM20m allocated to MDEC to groom local champions in producing digital content
  • RM50 million grant to develop 5G ecosystem to prepare for  5G transformation worldwide
  • Smart automation matching grant (up to RM2m) for 1,000 local manufacturers and 1,000 services companies to automate business processes
  • To boost use of e-wallets, govt to offer one-time RM30 digital stimulus to qualified Malaysians aged 18 and above with annual income less than RM100,000
  • 14 one-stop digital improvement centres to be set up in every state to faciltiate access to financing, development of business capacity
  • RM10m to be set aside for MDEC to train micro-digital entrepreneurs and technology experts to leverage e-market places, social media platforms
  • Digital Social Responsibility (DSR) is commitment from business sector to enhance workforce with digital skills needed by society. Contributions from the private sector to the DSR will be given tax
  • R&D in public sector to be intensified with RM524 million allocation to ministries, public agencies exemptions.
  • Government to up e-sports allocation to RM20m due to high potential
  • Green Investment Tax Allowance (GITA) and Green Investment Tax Exemptions (GITE) extended to 2023 in line with sustainable development

Palm oil

  • Govt has launched palm oil replanting loan fund worth RM550m for smallholders
  • Govt to implement B20 biodiesel for the transport sector by end-2020. This is expected to increase palm oil demand by 500,000 tonnes per annum.

Rubber

  • RM200m set aside for ‘Bantuan Musim Tengkujuh’ to eligible rubber smallholders under RISDA, Lembaga Industri Getah Sabah
  • RM100 million allocated for Rubber Production Incentive in 2020 to enhance income of smallholders faced with low rubber prices

Agriculture

  • Allocation for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry increased to RM4.9 billion, including RM150 million to support plant integration programmes such as for chilli, pineapple, coconut, watermelon and bamboo.
  • RM855 million allocation under Federal Government Padi Fertilizer Scheme to boost padi yield

Civil servants

  • Civil servants’ emoluments to exceed RM82 billion
  • Civil servant pension will cost RM27.1 billion
  • Civil servants’ cost of living allowance or COLA to be raised by RM50 a month starting 2020 for support group, with an additional RM350 million a year
  • Civil servants will be allowed early redemption of accumulated leaves (gantian cuti rehat) for up to 75 days as replacement pay for those who have served at least 15 years
  • Govt announces RM500 special payment for civil servants Grade 56 and below. Govt retirees to get special payment of RM250, also extended to non-pensionable veterans
  • Govt to allocate RM330 million to the Property and Land Management Division under the Prime Ministers Department to repair and maintain the public service quarters. Meanwhile, RM150 million and RM250 million is set aside to repair and refurbish Malaysian Armed Forces family housing units (RKAT) and PDRM quarters.
  • Fire fighters to get a special allowance of RM200 a month, which will benefit 14,400 personnel under the Fire and Rescue Dept, amounting to RM35 mil.

Highway and tolls

  • The Cabinet has approved the proposed offer to acquire four highways in the Klang Valleyy – Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), Sprint Expressway (SPRINT) and SMART Tunnel (SMART) to be funded via Government-guaranteed borrowings.
  • Citizens to enjoy average 18% discount on all PLUS highways
  • Effective Jan 1, 2020, toll rates for cars at the Second Penang Bridge will be reduced from RM8.50 to RM7.00.

Public transport

  • RM450 million proposed to acquire up to 500 electric buses for public transport in selected cities nationwide
  • Govt intends to proceed with the Rapid Transit System (RTS) between Johor Bahru and Singapore.
  • It will also invest RM85 million beginning 2020 to ease congestion at the Causeway and 2nd Link by enhancing vehicle and traffic flow through the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex.

Fuel subsidy

  • Individuals owning not more than two cars and two motorcycles can get fuel subsidy for one vehicle. The qualifying criteria are:
    • A passenger car with 1,600cc engine capacity and below, or
    • Any car above 1,600cc must be more than 10 years old, or
    • A qualified motorcycle must be 150cc and below, or
    • Any motorcycles above 150cc must be more than 7 years old.

 

  • From January 2020, the targeted fuel subsidy or PSP will be launched in Peninsular Malaysia with two eligible categories as follows:
    • For eligible recipients of the BSH, the petrol subsidy receivable will be RM30 per month for car owners and RM12 per month for motorcycle owners. This subsidy will be in the form of cash transfer, deposited into the recipient’s bank account every 4 months. The first payment will be made in April 2020 for the period January to April 2020; and
    • For all other motorists who are not BSH recipients, they will receive a special Kad95 which allows them to enjoy the fuel subsidy at a discount of 30 sen per litre limited to 100 litres per month for cars or 40 litres per month for motorcycles when purchasing RON95 at the petrol station. The Kad95 will be implemented progressively during the first quarter of 2020.

Taxes

  • Govt will merge Special Commissioner of Income Tax and Customs Appeal Tribunal into the Tax Appeal Tribunal, to be operational in 2021. Through this, taxpayers unhappy with the decision of IRB director-general or the Customs D-G can appeal
  • Govt proposes that a new band for taxable income in excess of RM2 million be introduced and taxed at 30%, up 2 percentage point from the current 28%. This will affect approximately 2,000 top income earners in the country.
  • Govt has repaid GST refunds amounting to RM15.9b to more than 78,000 companies, and income tax refunds of RM13.6b to 448,000 companies and 184,000 taxpayers

Medical and Healthcare

  • To support local medical device industry, government will introduce an initiative to encourage local producers to upgrade equipment and tools used in public clinics and hospitals, based on a minimum allocation of 30%.
  • RM227m to be set aside to upgrade medical equipment, and RM95m to renovate infrastructure and medical facilities, like in Hospital Pontian
  • RM1.6 billion to build new hospitals and upgrade existing ones. The hospital includes Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang, Hospital Kampar, Hospital Labuan and the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Sabah Heart Centre.
  • Govt to allocate RM60m for pneumococcal vaccination for all children
  • RM319m to build and upgrade health and dental clinics and quarters facilities; new clinics will be built in Setiu, Sg Petani, and Cameron Highlands, as well as Kudat and Tawau in Sabah, and Lon San and Sg Simunjan in Sarawak
  • Health Ministry to get RM30.6 billion allocation, compared to RM28.7 billion under Budget 2019

MySalam

  • MySalam to be expanded so that those with critical illnesses will get RM8,000 cash; those being treated in govt hospitals can also claim RM50 wage replacement a day for up to 14 days

Islamic finance

  • Islamic Economic Blueprint to be formulated to position Malaysia as centre of excellence for Islamic finance
  • Special Islamic Finance Committee to be set up to develop the Islamic finance ecosystem

FELDA

Property and housing

  • RPGT base year for asset purchase revised to Jan 1, 2013 for asset acquired before that date
  • To reduce supply overhang of condominiums and apartments amounting to RM8.3 billion in the second quarter of 2019, govt will lower the threshold on high rise property prices in urban areas for foreign ownership from RM1 million to RM600,000 in 2020.
  • Govt to extend Youth Housing Scheme administered by Bank Simpanan Nasional from Jan 1, 2020 until Dec 31, 2021. The scheme also offers a 10% loan guarantee via Cagamas to enable borrowers to get full financing and RM200 monthly instalment assistance for the first two years, limited to 10,000 home units.
  • Public Sector Home Financing Board to offer free personal accident insurance for up to two years to new government housing loan borrowers
  • To help those who can’t come up with 10% deposit or get financing to buy homes, govt will collaborate with financial institutions to introduce the rent-to-own (RTO) financing scheme, where up to RM10 billion will be provided by the financial institutions, with the governnment supporting via a 30% or RM3 billion guarantee.
    • This RTO scheme is for purchase of first home up to RM500,000 property price.
    • Under this scheme, the applicant will rent the property for up to 5 years and after the first year, and the tenant will have the option to purchase the house based on the price fixed at the time the tenancy agreement is signed.

Gaming Industry

  • To curb illegal gambling, govt proposes a higher minimum mandatory penalty of RM100,000 for illegal gamblers, along with a minimum mandatory jail sentence of six months.
    • For illegal operators, a higher minimum mandatory penalty of RM1 million and a 12 month minimum mandatory jail sentence will be imposed.
  • To curb illegal gambling, govt proposes a higher minimum mandatory penalty of RM100,000 for illegal gamblers, along with a minimum mandatory jail sentence of six months.
  • Starting 2020, total number of special draws for Numbers Forecast Operator (NFO) will be reduced from 11 to 8 times a year..

 

Employment

  • Hiring fresh graduates: Two-year pay incentives of RM500 a month. Hiring incentive of RM300 a month.
  • Incentives to get women into the workforce:
    • Two-year pay incentive of RM500 a month
    • Hiring incentive of RM300
    • Tax exemption for women returning to work will be extended until 2023.
  • Govt revises Employment Act, including increasing maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days from 2021
  • Govt proposes to raise minimum wage in urban areas to RM1,200 a month in 2020
  • Govt to launch Malaysians @ Work initiative aimed at creating better employment opportunities for youth and women, reducing over-dependence on low-skilled foreign workers
  • Malaysians who replace foreign workers will get a monthly wage incentive of RM350/RM500 for two years, depending on the sector. Employers will get a monthly incentive of RM250 a month throughout the same period.

Tourism

  • RM25 million allocated to Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council to strengthen Malaysia’s position as the preferred destination for medical tourism in Asean for oncology, cardiology and fertility treatments.
  • Govt to contribute RM100 million towards construction of new cable car system to Penang Hill
  • RM1.1 billion allocated to Ministry of Tourism and Culture, of which RM90 million is specifically for VMY2020 promotion and programmes

Sabah and Sarawak

  • Govt plans to double special alowance for Sabah to RM53.4m and Sarawak to RM32m; this to be doubled further to 106.8m for Sabah and RM64m for Sarawak in five years
  • RM587 million allocation for rural water projects, of which RM470 million will be for Sabah and Sarawak
  • RM500 million for rural electrification benefiting more than 30,000 rural households, majority in Sabah and Sarawak

Aid and subsidies

  1. Govt to spend RM24.2 billion on subsidies and social assistance
  2. RM100 million grant proposed for Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) of which 80% will be programme-based
  3. RM57 million provided to Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA), in addition to RM83 million allocation for the community’s economic development, education and infrastructure.
  4. RM575 million proposed for socio-economic assistance to senior citizens benefiting 137,000 seniors whose household income is below poverty level
  5. RM25 million allocated to manage, administer and expand food bank programme
  6. Allocation for subsidies and social assistance increased to RM24.2 billion, including welfare aid such as Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH). BSH scheme expanded to cover 1.1 million single individuals aged above 40 earning less than RM2,000 per month.

Rural development

  • RM10.9 billion allocated for rural development projects in 2020, from RM9.7 billion in 2019
  • RM738 million provided for Risda and Felcra to implement income generating programme
  • RM1 billion set aside for rural roads throughout Malaysia, primarily targeted at Sabah and Sarawak

Education and training

  • Allowance for KAFA teachers increased by RM100 a month, to benefit 33,200 existing teachers
  • RM735 million proposed for school maintenance and upgrading works
  • Government allocates RM210m to expedite digital infrastructure establishment in public buildings like schools
  • Education Ministry to receive largest allocation of  of RM64.1 billion in 2020 from RM60.2 billion in 2019
  • Allocation for TVET programmes raised from RM5.7 billion in 2019 to RM5.9 billion in 2020
  • RM1.3 billion proposed for education institutions under MARA, a further RM2 billion for student loans benefitting 50,000 students

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NO POWER, NO FORCE CAN STOP THE PROGRESS OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE AND NATION


https://youtu.be/Uv0PeiGWJyg

Xi addresses grand rally to celebrate PRC’s 70th founding anniversary

DF 17, DF 100 & DF 41 make debuts at National Day parade

The Strategic Attack Formation is one of the most anticipated parts of Tuesday’s military parade, as the DF-17, CJ-100, and DF-41 missiles made their first appearances. DF-17 conventional missiles are used for precision strikes against medium-and-close targets. The hypersonic CJ-100, on the other hand, is the latest cruise missile of the CJ family, and can strike long-range targets. Lastly, the DF-41 has gained worldwide attention. The purpose of the DF-41 intercontinental strategic nuclear missile is for balancing power and securing victory. Other equipment being showcased includes the second-generation JL-2 long-range ballistic missiles, solid-fuel DF-31 nuclear missiles and DF-5B nuclear missiles, which can carry multiple warheads and excel at both assault and defense. #70YearsOn #NationalDay2019 #PRC70

New Aircrafts Make Debut at China’s National Day Parade

https://youtu.be/NxwEB7CYVtE >
China’s new-generation main battlefield tanks reviewed in National Day parade https://youtu.be/SdI90NK2ntg

Marking 70 years of greatness

15 military units march in China’s largest National Day parade

This is how we welcome China’s 70th birthday

The moments that matter to modern China: Beijing and beyond 5/5

Perception vs reality as New China turns 70


China’s 70th National Day: No force can stop country’s progress, says Xi Jinping

BEIJING – China held its largest display of military force with a parade along its main Chang’an Avenue as the nation celebrated 70 years of communist rule.

Under hazy skies on Tuesday morning (Oct 1), President Xi Jinping, in a Mao suit and flanked by his two precedessors, former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, appeared on Tiananmen, or Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Addressing the nation, President Xi spoke of how Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong had stood in the same spot 70 years ago and declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China, paving the way for the country to embark on the path of the “great rejuvenation” of China.

“No power can shake the status of our great motherland, no force can stop the progress of the Chinese people and nation,” he said, to cheers from the thousands of flag-waving Chinese who had gathered at Tiananmen Square.

An aerial display welcomed by wild cheers from the audience
Unlisted

Mr Xi urged loyalty to the Communist Party’s leadership and again vowed that Beijing will abide by the “one country, two systems”  model to ensure Hong Kong and Macau’s continued prosperity, as well as promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

“Yesterday’s China has been written into the history books. Today’s China is being created by more than one billion people. Tomorrow’s China will be even better,” he said, urging unity and the fulfilment of the two centennial goals.

The Chinese leader had vowed to restore the country to greatness – by making China a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021, and for it to become a “fully developed, rich and powerful nation” by 2049.

These two centennial goals – 2021 marks 100 years since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and 2049, the centenary of the founding of PRC – have been Mr Xi’s overarching vision since he took power in 2012.

The celebrations on Tuesday culminate in a gala show in the evening complete with fireworks.

The display of China’s military might in the morning was a picture of pride for the Chinese audience.

“I had taken taken part in one of the dress rehearsals for the parade and even then it was a stirring sight to see the Chinese military. Today’s atmosphere feels even better,” said civil servant Li Yidong, 27, adding that the showcase “is also a window to show the world China’s national power”.

Mr Li Xuguang, 29, who works in the security industry, said he was already very excited when planes flew past his home during the parade in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“Watching them today is even better,” said Mr Li.

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State of GLCs a matter for concern


A MAJOR topic at the inaugural Malaysian Economic Symposium held on July 26 at the Parliament Complex was government-linked companies (GLCs). The big issues about GLCs are not only their large presence in the economy but also their governance.

As mentioned in the symposium, which was jointly organised by the Office of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, the Backbenchers Council and the Parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance to get a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the economy, there are so many GLCs that nobody knows what the total number is. The other concern is their lack of transparency and accountability.

About 15 years ago, the then prime minister launched the GLC Transformation Programme to raise the standards of corporate governance in government-linked companies following the guidelines issued by the Securities Commission and Bank Negara Malaysia, as part of the reforms to make the economy more resilient to external shocks.

The New Economic Model report to the National Economic Action Council also stressed the need to reform GLCs so that they do not affect adversely the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy and become an obstacle towards making Malaysia a fully developed high income country.

Khazanah Nasional, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) adopted these guidelines to strengthen their internal checks and balance and make their major GLCs more attractive to local and foreign investors. Good governance in the companies owned by these three national institutions is important as their shareholdings in the corporate sector account for a big share of the market capitalisation.

Further, as the country’s national wealth fund, Khazanah realised its responsibility as an MoF (Ministry of Finance) Inc corporation to set the tone for good governance.

EPF and PNB are responsible for paying good dividends to millions of their subscribers. Like Khazanah, they too insist on their investee companies to adopt good governance practices so that when they do well in the market place, the benefits will go to their subscribers.

One of the important guidelines in good corporate governance is that the board of directors should be evaluated on the “fit and proper“ criteria before they are appointed. One major requirement in the criteria is that the nominee for board appointment should not be politically connected or linked so as to protect the independence of the board from outside interference.

A good board should have the committees on audit, nomination, renumeration and risk management actively checking the management and also providing it with professional advice and recommendations.

The presentation by the university professor at the symposium highlighted the political links of GLCs, with many ministries involved in overseeing them. Thus, the ministries dealing with rural and land development, technology and research, tourism, sports, youth and culture are among the ministries which have GLCs to implement their policies and projects.

Ministerial influence on the GLCs is not always good. The federal GLCs are MoF Inc in ownership but administratively, they answer to the ministers. Often, the GLCs have bumiputra partners who are linked to the top circles or their own relatives in forming joint venture business to provide the privatised services to the ministry.

With the political connections, the contract prices that the ministry pays to the GLCs for supplying the work orders or purchases may well be above the market price. The GLCs are thus operating at the expense of taxpayers.

Some politicians use GLCs and trustee foundations under religious authorities to promote their political activities under the guise of CSR (corporate social responsibility), like sending pilgrims to Mekah, sponsoring religious events, building surau or paying for goodwill golf trips overseas, including their wives’ travel costs.

States also have their GLCs established as Mentri Besar Inc companies or as subsidiaries of statutory bodies like state economic development corporations (SEDC) and state agricultural development corporations. Many of these GLCs have joint ventures with bumiputra partners who are politically linked. Malay property developers have raised issues over the SEDCs which build shop lots and commercial buildings at lower cost because they get priority access to state land and often at lower than market price, thus undercutting the genuine Malay private sector.

The Pakatan Harapan government has pledged that the appointments to GLCs will be non-political in the sense that politically active persons will not be appointed as directors of the companies. The government wants to bring professionals to serve on the GLC boards to improve their performance. The definition “non- political“ should include persons holding any kind of party positions because those at the lower levels can be just as ambitious in using the GLCs for gaining influence among the top leaders.

Some professionals have left active politics but remain advisers to a political party or are business associates with high-ranking politicians or are married into powerful political families. It’s not clear whether such professionals can be considered as independent or free from politics.

A good board should respect the views of its committees on nomination, remuneration, audit and risk management. These committees are mandatory for listed companies and banks as the Securities Commission and Bank Negara are very strict about good corporate governance to provide the internal checks and balance to prevent the board from making wrong decisions or from being influenced by the chairman’s personal or political interests.

The government should make it compulsory for all GLCs to be similarly regulated, especially those under the control of state governments and statutory bodies as they are highly politicised.

Business associations have always complained in every dialogue with the government that the GLC sector is too large and is crowding out the private sector. As growth is fundamental so that more wealth can be created in the economy to generate the resources for the government to spend on the poor, it should consider reducing the size of the GLC sector so as to strengthen the investment climate and provide more room for the private sector to expand locally. Those GLCs that are a financial burden to taxpayers should be closed down or sold off before they cause a financial crisis to the country.

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassm Kuala Lumpur
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The cradle of Chinese leadership



Westerners do not understand how vital a competent government is in China.

中国政府有时就像家长,既要赚钱养家又做好榜样

Set in stone: Staff members walking near a statue at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing as the party opened its leading school for cadres to a rare visit by foreign journalists. — AP

It is back to school for thousand of cadres of the national party to brush up on the country’s progress.

EVERY year, thousands of party cadres from the Communist Party of China (CPC) returned to school to learn about the latest direction of the country as it progresses.

At the Party School of CPC Central Committee (CCPS) – the key cradle of China’s leaders – the trainees are taught Marxism classics, moral and conduct while receiving anti-corruption education.

They are also exposed to the latest in technology and various skills to lead the rural villagers out of poverty as the nation is striving towards its “Chinese Dream” of building a well-off society for all.

Located opposite the Summer Palace in Beijing, the school also conducts training and guidance to improve the governing ability of cadres while motivating them to serve as firm followers and loyal practitioners of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

Just last year, 137 training sessions were organised for nearly 11,000 cadres all over the country.

The school opened its door to a group of foreign journalists recently.

We were led to a class which was in progress and the trainer, who requested to remain anonymous, was giving a lecture on various tra­n­s­formation and innovation prog­rammes to improve the environment and livelihood of rural villagers.

During the short visit, we listened in on the trainer telling cadres about the use of flush toilets.

For many of us, we have taken for granted the availability of flush toilets in our homes or offices.

But for those dwelling in the mountainous areas far from water sources in China, this sanitary ware is a luxury.

The locals from a village in Shangdong have invented their own “dry toilet” in which they covered up waste with organic materials.

“The toilet does not stink at all and it is environmentally friendly.

“A little effort makes big changes in improving the environment and the people’s lives,” the trainer told the cadres, believed to be grassroots leaders from the rural areas.

The trainer also told the class the story of a village in Tonglu of Zhejiang province where the locals turned their rural agricultural home into a famous tourist spot.

He said the locals successfully transformed an abandoned pig pen into a popular cafe.

“There is a very expensive type of coffee known as mao shi kafei (Indonesia’s kopi luwak) in the world.

“If rich people can sit at a stinking pig pen while tasting a cup of expensive coffee, isn’t this another way of enjoyment?” asked the trainer.

He was motivating the class cadres to be creative and to transform abandoned poultry farms into money-making businesses as well as preserve old buildings that have witnessed special events.

The trainer also showed the class modern farming techniques known as the Integrated Rice-Duck Farming by raising ducks in the paddy field.

“With modern technology, we are able to calculate the suitable number of ducks for a paddy field of a particular size and the timing of releasing the birds,” he added.

With over 100 trainees but only a handful of female cadres, the class also learned about homestay and handicraft-making programmes.

In a tea session with the media, vice-head of academic affairs of the school, Wang Gang said currently, there are some 1,600 cadres undergoing training at the campus.

Asked why men outnumbered women trainees by a large margin, Wang Gang said they have another programme catering for female cadres.

He, however, did not elaborate.

The CCPS – also known as China National Academy of Governance – was set up in 1933, 12 years after the founding of the CPC.

Over the decades, it has groomed a large number of governing elites and talent for the party and the country.

State leaders such as the late Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Hu Jintao have served as its president.

The CCPS campus houses a museum, a sports centre with various facilities including swimming pool, squash court, ping pong tables and a gym for the trainees, who are required to stay in the campus throughout their training period.

Apart from providing training to the cadres, the CCPS also serves as a high-end think-tank for the party and a national research institution for philosophy and social science.

It has also taken part in exchange programmes and activities with political parties from 159 nations, 21 international and multilateral organisations.

Last year, the school received 1,248 visitors.

CPC, with over 90 million members, is the biggest political party in the world.

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