Invest early for your golden years


Many procrastinate on starting a retirement fund thinking there is still a long way to go to retirement age. However, they fail to realise the effects of inflation on their retirement funds. To ensure you have enough time to build a stress-free retirement, here are some reasons you should start saving while you are young.

Financial independence – As the saying goes, “Sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit.” When it comes to investing your savings, the earlier you start, the greater the accumulated returns on your original investment thanks to compound yield. By investing consistently and regularly, you will be able to secure yourself a comfortable retirement without having to depend on others. Work towards accumulating enough to cover the cost of your basic necessities, lifestyle expenses and occasional splurge on luxuries.

Saving is a good habit to develop – If you start saving for your future from a younger age, you will find that it becomes second nature. It will be easier to put aside some money for retirement. It helps to start with small amounts, especially for young adults who are just entering the workforce, so it is not as overwhelming. How you manage your paycheck will determine how you save for the rest of your earning years. A person who is used to saving on a monthly basis will find it easier to set aside 10% of her salary for retirement as opposed to an individual who is not used to spending her money prudently.

Gain control over your future – When you set aside money for your retirement, remember that you are shaping your future.

This is a task no one else will perform for you or push you to do. By saving consistently, you are ensuring that you are well prepared for any outcome when you leave the workforce. With sufficient savings, you will most likely be able to live your dream lifestyle even during your retirement years – promising you the peace of mind of a secure financial future.

Steps to successful retirement planning

Building a substantial sum for your retirement nest egg can be easy and painless if you start investing early and regularly. Public Mutual’s Direct Debit Authorisation facility allows you to invest regularly while employing the Ringgit Cost Averaging strategy.

Not only that, you can enjoy tax relief of up to RM3,000 per annum if you contribute to the Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) fund. PRS contributions are creditor-protected. Public Mutual’s PRS contributors can also enjoy a free insurance or Takaful coverage of up to RM100,000, subject to terms and conditions.

To cater to diversified investors’ needs and investment objectives, Public Mutual offers six PRS core funds and three non-core funds, which make a great pool of funds for investors to choose from. Young investors who have long-term investment horizons can consider investing in PRS non-core funds, which can yield better potential returns in the long term.

 

For more financial tips and investment guidance, visit instagram.com/invest_with_public_mutual

Disclaimer:

These articles are prepared solely for educational and awareness purposes and should not be construed as an offer or a solicitation of an offer to purchase or subscribe to products offered by Public Mutual. No representation or warranty is made by Public Mutual, nor is there acceptance of any responsibility or liability as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information contained herein.

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Fitch affirms Malaysia’s rating at A- with stable outlook, but heed the economic warning


Image result for Fitch ratings logo/images
 


Fitch Ratings

 

KUALA LUMPUR: Fitch Ratings has affirmed Malaysia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A-‘ with a Stable Outlook.

According to a statement posted on the interantional rating agency’s website on Thursday the key rating drivers were its strong and broad-based medium-term growth with a diversified export base.

However, it also was concerned about its high public debt and some lagging structural factor.

Main points:

* GDP to grow at 4.4% in 2019 and 4.5% in 2020

* Global trade tensions to impact economy

* Private consumption to hold up well, public investment to pick up

* Outlook for private investment is more uncertain

* Weak fiscal position relative to peers weighs on the credit profile

* General government debt to fall from 62.5% of GDP in 2019 to 59.3% in 2021

* Malaysia relatively vulnerable to shifts in external investor sentiment

* Fitch expects another 25bp rate cut in 2020 on the back of continued external and domestic uncertainty.

* Banking sector fundamentals remain broadly stable

Fitch said Malaysia’s ratings balance strong and broad-based medium-term growth with a diversified export base, against high public debt and some lagging structural factors, such as weak governance indicators relative to peers.

The latter may gradually improve with ongoing government efforts to enhance transparency and address high-profile corruption cases.

Fitch expects economic growth to slightly decelerate in the rest of this year as a result of a worsening

external environment, but to hold up well at 4.4% in 2019 and 4.5% in 2020.

Malaysia is a small open economy that is integrated into Asian supply chains, but it also has a well-diversified export base, which helps cushion the impact from a potential fall in demand in specific sectors.

Global trade tensions are likely to have a detrimental effect on Malaysia’s economy, as with many other countries, but this may be partially offset by near-term mitigating factors, such as trade diversion, in particular towards the electronics sector.

Private consumption is likely to hold up well and public investment should pick up again in the next few years after the successful renegotiation of some big infrastructure projects, most prominently the East Coast Rail Link.

However, the outlook for private investment is more uncertain. FDI inflows were strong in the past few quarters, but investors will continue to face both external trade and domestic political uncertainty.

The Pakatan Harapan coalition took office in May 2018 with very high expectations. It has set a number of policy initiatives in motion, but holds only a small majority in parliament and has seen its previously high public approval rates fall significantly.

Uncertainty about the timing and details of the succession of the 94-year old Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also continues to linger.

A weak fiscal position relative to peers weighs on the credit profile. The government’s repeal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and replacement with the Sales and Service Tax (SST) soon after it took power has undermined fiscal consolidation.

The government aims to offset the revenue loss through measures to strengthen compliance, the introduction of a sugar tax and an increased stamp duty. Its fiscal deficit target for 2019 of 3.4% of GDP, which we believe will be met, includes a special dividend from Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS, A-/Stable).

Political pressures and growth headwinds could motivate the government to increase its current spending, but we believe that if it does so, it would seek additional revenues or asset sales to contain the associated rises in the deficit and public debt.

Fitch estimates general government debt to gradually decrease from 62.5% of GDP in 2019 to 59.3% in 2021.

The debt figures used by Fitch include officially reported “committed government guarantees” on loans, which are serviced by the government budget, and 1MDB’s net debt, equivalent at end-2018 to 9.2% and 2.2% of GDP, respectively.

The government guaranteed another 9.2% of GDP in loans it does not service. The greater clarity provided by the government last year on contingent liabilities negatively influenced the debt ratios, but this is partly offset by the improved fiscal transparency.

Significant asset sales, as intended by the government, could result in a swifter decline in the debt stock than its forecast in its base case.

Progress in implementing reforms that institutionalise improved governance standards through stronger checks and balances, and greater transparency and accountability would strengthen Malaysia’s business environment and credit profile.

The World Bank’s governance indicator is still low at the 61st percentile compared with the ‘A’ category median of 76th.

An important change is that all public projects are now being tendered, which increases transparency, creates a level-playing field and should bring down project costs. Prosecution of high-profile cases may also help reduce corruption levels over time.

Malaysia has been running annual current account surpluses for the past 20 years, and Fitch expects it to continue to do so in the next few years, even though the surplus is likely to narrow to below 2% of GDP.

Foreign-reserve buffers were US$102.7 billion (4.7 months of current account payments) at end-June 2019, while other external assets are also significant, including from sovereign wealth fund Khazanah.

Malaysia is nonetheless relatively vulnerable to shifts in external investor sentiment, partly because of still-high foreign holdings of domestic government debt, although these have fallen to 21% from 33% three years ago.

Moreover, short-term external debt is high relative to reserves, although a significant part of this constitutes intra-group borrowing between parent and subsidiary banks domestically and abroad, reflecting the open and regional nature of Malaysia’s banking sector.

Monetary policy is likely to remain supportive of economic activity, after Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) reduced its policy rate by 25bp to 3.0% last May, which seemed a pre-emptive response to increased external downside risk.

Inflationary pressures are limited with headline inflation at 0.2% in May 2019, still low due to the repeal of the GST and lower domestic fuel prices.

Fitch expects another 25bp rate cut in 2020 on the back of continued external and domestic uncertainty.

Banking sector fundamentals remain broadly stable. Elevated, but slightly declining household debt at 83% of GDP and property-sector

weakness should be manageable for the sector, but present a downside risk in case of a major economic shock.

The sector’s healthy capital and liquidity buffers, as indicated by the common equity Tier 1 ratio of 13.4% and liquidity coverage ratio of 155% at end-May 2019, help to underpin its resilience in times of stress.

SOVEREIGN RATING MODEL (SRM) and QUALITATIVE OVERLAY (QO)

Fitch’s proprietary SRM assigns Malaysia a score equivalent to a rating of ‘BBB+’ on the Long-Term Foreign-Currency (LT FC) IDR scale.

In accordance with its rating criteria, Fitch’s sovereign rating committee decided not to adopt the score indicated by the SRM as the starting point for its analysis because it considers it likely that the one-notch drop in the score to ‘BBB+’ since March 2018 will prove temporary.

Fitch’s SRM is the agency’s proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a LT FC IDR.

Fitch’s QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

The main factors that, individually or collectively, could trigger positive rating action are:

* Greater confidence in a sustained reduction in general government debt over the medium term.

* An improvement in governance standards relative to peers, for instance through greater transparency and control of corruption.

The main factors that could trigger negative rating action are:

* Limited progress in debt reduction, for instance due to insufficient fiscal consolidation or further crystallisation of contingent liabilities.

* A lack of improvement in governance standards

KEY ASSUMPTIONS

* The global economy and oil price perform broadly in line with Fitch’s Global Economic Outlook (June 2019). Fitch forecasts Brent oil to average USD65 per barrel in 2019, USD62.5 in 2020 and USD60 in 2021.


The full list of rating actions is as follows:

Long-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at ‘A-‘;

Outlook Stable

Long-Term Local-Currency IDR affirmed at ‘A-‘;

Outlook Stable

Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at ‘F1’

Short-Term Local-Currency IDR affirmed at ‘F1’

Country Ceiling affirmed at ‘A’

Issue ratings on long-term senior unsecured local-currency bonds affirmed at ‘A-‘

Issue ratings on global sukuk trust certificates issued by Malaysia Sukuk Global Berhad affirmed at ‘A-‘


But heed of Fitch’s economic warning

 

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Malaysia's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'A-' with a Stable Outlook.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Malaysia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A-‘ with a Stable Outlook.

The international Fitch Ratings has given us a warning on the outlook for the Malaysian economy, which we should not ignore.

In preparing for the 2020 Budget, the government’s economic and financial planners should take heed of this friendly warning and act sooner rather than later. We should not let this warning pass, without having more consultations with Fitch, on how serious their constructive criticism could turn out to be.

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Malaysia’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at A-, with a stable outlook. But we must seriously take note of the several reservations that Fitch has made, and consider and monitor them, to remain on even keel and progress further.

What are these warnings?

High public debt

The national debt is now confirmed by Fitch to be high. By whatever standard of measurement used – by us, the IMF or the World Bank and other agencies – there is now consensus that our debt is indeed high, although still not critical.

However, the debt has to be watched closely. We have to ensure better management of our budget expenditures and strive to strengthen our budget revenues, to reduce the pressure to borrow more in the short to medium term.

Some lagging structural factors

The structural factors would refer to our need to raise productivity, increase our competitiveness and meritocracy and strengthen our successes, in combating corruption and cronyism.

How far have we advanced to deal effectively with these longstanding structural issues? In the minds of our foreign and even domestic investors, how successful have we been compared to the previous regime?

Fitch expects the economy to slow down to 4.4% this year and 4.5% in 2020. With the US -China trade war looming large and the general world economic uncertainty, investors can get even more jittery and hold back their investment plans. Thus, the low economic growth rates for this year and ahead should not be ruled out.

If the economy softens further to around 4% per annum, the implications of unemployment, and especially for our graduates, could be worrisome. The small and medium businesses and farmers and fishermen and smallholders in our plantation industries could suffer much from any slowdown.

But we are still slow and are struggling in trying to restructure the economy. We have not yet adopted major changes of transformation of the economy, which is largely raced-based to the vital requirement, to become more needs-based in our policies and implementation.

We need a New Economic Model but it has been difficult to adopt it as soon as possible.


Weak governance relative to peers

To be fair, many measures have been taken to strengthen the institutions of government. We have seen this in the parliament select committees, the Election Commission, the MACC and the civil service and other institutions.

We cannot do too much too soon, as good governance takes much longer to restore and build, after several decades of neglect in the past. But our people and investors are somewhat impatient for more rapid changes for better governance.

Fitch has, however, subtly warned us to compare our “weak governance relative to our peers”. Thus, we have to take note of the more rapid progress made by our neighbouring countries in Asean, like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia and, of course, Singapore, to measure our real success in good governance.

Investors have the whole world to choose from, to put their money where their mouth is. They also need not look at the comfortable physical climate and tax incentives alone to be attracted to invest in Malaysia.

Racial harmony, religious understanding and political stability are also major considerations for both domestic and foreign investors and professionals. This is where the reduction of the brain drain is important. But we continue to have strong outflows of brain power, which is debilitating.

Fitch warns that the PH government holds only a small majority in Parliament and has seen its previously high public approval rates fall significantly. Fitch’s assessment is quite correct. This has been due to too much politicking and allegation of sex scandals. All this does not give confidence to investors and even consumers who will be dampened in their enthusiasm to increase consumption and investment.

Fitch Ratings has subtly and politely warned us of the challenges we are facing. It has also emphasised in its usual guarded fashion the essential need for us to take heed of their advice and warnings, to make the necessary socio-economic and political adjustments, changes and even transformation, without undue delays.

We could face a real slowdown all round if we don’t consolidate our strengths to overcome our lingering weaknesses to forge ahead for a better Malaysia in the future – for all Malaysians.

By Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of the Asli Centre for Public Policy.

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Penang’s LRT project gets conditional approval from Transport Minister


GEORGE TOWN: Waves of excitement swept through Penang when the Transport Minister announced that the Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) has received conditional approval.

It is seen as a move to reduce traffic congestion in the city and create a next wave of growth for the state.

The approved 29.9km Bayan Lepas LRT will bring convenience not only to the local folk but also tourists and investors, said Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock.

Ooi, who is positive that the project will spur growth on the island, believes the LRT will bring in another wave of development into the state.

“The LRT will divert traffic congestion. It will attract new investments, make life easier for our workforce.

“I believe it will boost the state’s economy with another wave of growth,” he said yesterday.

Following the Transport Ministry’s conditional approval of the project, Ooi added that it is the first step for a change in landscape and behaviour of transport mode in Penang.

Yesterday, the Transport Ministry gave conditional approval to the Bayan Lepas LRT project.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke in a statement said that after a detailed study of the application by Penang Economic Planning Unit (BPEN) to develop the Bayan Lepas LRT project, approval with 30 conditions for the state to comply was given on Tuesday.

Loke said the conditions included a detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) approval including traffic, social and heritage assess­ments.

The state must now exhibit documents on the project for three months, and the final go ahead will only be decided after the public responses are evaluated, said Loke.

“I welcome public participation from the people, NGOs and all stakeholders in this public review.

“The relevant documents are to be exhibited in public places including government offices.

“The state government must also upload a copy of these documents on a website for online viewing.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow thanked the Federal Govern­ment and said the state is committed to fulfilling all requirements.

“We will wait for the official letter from Transport Ministry to proceed and initiate public viewing of the documents,” he said.

The RM8.4bil Bayan Lepas LRT together with a monorail, cable cars and water taxis, is part of the state government’s RM46bil Penang Trans­port Master Plan (PTMP).

This LRT will begin at Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and head south through Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Lepas and Penang Interna­tional Airport, ending at the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) development.

It is expected to provide a fast route to the airport and will traverse densely populated residential, commercial and industrial areas.

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Housing woes: death spiral or virtuous cycle?


THE World Economic Forum estimates that the global cost of corruption annually is at least US$2.6 trillion (RM10.9 trillion) or 5% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

According to the World Bank, businesses and individuals pay over US$1 trillion (RM4.2 trillion) in bribes each year.

Corruption adds up to 10% of the total cost of doing business globally and up to 25% of the cost of procurement contracts in developing countries.

I gathered these shocking facts at a conference. There are other alarming statistics that shed light on the damage brought about by corruption and its dreadful impact on the economy.

Corruption leads to further impoverishment of the poor and other issues in many countries. The average income in countries with a high level of corruption is about one-third of those countries with a low level of corruption. In addition, corrupt countries have a literacy rate that is 25% lower.

The Corruption Perception Index 2018 released by Transparency International shows that on the scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean, over two-thirds of 180 countries score below 50, with the average score of 43.

In the index, Denmark ranked first in the world followed by New Zealand second. Finland and Singapore were tied for third with a score of 85. Malaysia was ranked 61st in the world, scoring only 47.

We were ranked the third highest in the Asean region, after Singapore and Brunei. Our country is doing better now with the ongoing investigation of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal and other prominent cases.

In TI’s report, Malaysia is one of the countries on the watch with promising political developments against corruption. However, more solid action is needed in combatting all elusive forms of corruption.

According to Transparency International Malaysia, corruption had cost our country about 4% of its GDP value each year since 2013. Added together, this amounts to a high figure of some RM212.3bil since 2013. For 2017 alone, that figure was a whopping RM46.9bil!

As a comparison, our development expenditure in 2017 was RM48bil. If the value of corruption above was accurate, our development fund was almost “wiped out” because of corruption.

Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said: “This is our estimate. It is likely to be higher in reality (on the value of corruption).”

No country can eliminate corruption completely. However, we can learn from good practices shown in some developed countries, such as the Scandinavian countries which all scored high on the Corruption Perception Index.

Corruption leads to poverty as money collected is not used for the welfare of the nation. As a result, the people end up suffering and paying for the leakage in the system.

If a country is corrupt-free, it will reduce the need for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGOs advocate for the rights of marginalised groups. The government can take care of those group when it has a surplus in the budget.

A clean government and system will have a positive impact on many aspects including affordable housing, one of the prominent needs of the people.

Whenever there is corruption, there is a compromise in the delivery of goods and services. The same situation applies to affordable housing.

Someone mentioned to me in the past that “the government isn’t interested in affordable housing as there is literally ‘no money’ to be made in it”!

Things have made a dramatic change for the better since May last year. Our new government is working on a platform of clean government and improving transparency. It plans to build one million affordable homes within two terms of its administration. To make this a reality, the government needs to put in real money to make it happen.

Corruption causes a death spiral that leads to various problems. Without it, a virtuous cycle grows that ensures every part runs smoothly and the marginalised in society are looked after.

With a promise of a cleaner government, we hope we will soon see a virtuous cycle that makes the one million affordable homes an achievable target.

By Datuk Alan Tong, who has over 50 years of experience in property development. He is group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email bkp@bukitkiara.com. The views expressed here are solely that of his own.

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Let’s talk economy – the sequel of education


The pump-prime our financial situation, we need a massive investment to revamp and rebuild our education  

 

Moving forward We need a complete revamp of our school curriculum as well as new,
well-designed and well-operated places for our children to learn in.

 

I WAS not done the last time, so let’s continue our talk about the economy.

In the last article, I wrote that we must spend our way out of the recession and we must act now. We have to spend it on the right things, for the right reasons, using the right people, at the right value.

In the ’80s, we spent on massive highway infrastructure and got ourselves out of the recession. As I said, today we need a different solution that will hit various sectors that will have an overall impact not just on themselves, but also our fundamental way of life.

Where then shall we stake our economic salvation to spark growth in our economy and blaze a path to recovery of the Malaysian nation as a progressive one that will pave our way to be developed?

I say we build on education. Fundamental education. We reform, revamp and rebuild our education infrastructure, systems, administration and human resources. To be specific, primary and secondary education.

Think about it – the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is to be built at a cost of RM44bil. Imagine the number of people, companies and all and sundry subsectors that will benefit from a massive capital investment like this in education, not just in the short term but in the long term as well.

Today, Malaysia has in actual fact, a dilapidated, outdated and obsolete – primary and secondary – education infrastructure and system. Our administration and human resources are geared towards upholding this obsolete education model. We need a full revamp and rebuild.

Most public schools are in shambles – old and poorly constructed and poorly maintained buildings; run-down facilities with no air conditioning in this tropical climate. Basically, the hardware of our schools needs a total replacement.

We also need a full revamp of the teaching software – the administration and teaching human re­sour­­ces currently operating our education system. Over the last 30 years, our obsession with seemingly racist policies and religious fundamentalism has produced an ethnic and religious-centric education system, curriculum and teaching profession and administration that is not capable of producing a scientifically and technologically advanced and humanistic progressive majority.

Why else would we have people in government and authority making stupid pronouncements that liberalism and pluralism are dangers to our society?

If you don’t believe our education is so bad, I give you Exhibit No.1: a public university that proclaims so-called religious-based “scientific findings” such as that the various geological age of the Earth did not happen. And you know your education system is in trouble when your professors start theorising that dinosaurs were actually ‘djinns’.

We need a complete revamp of curriculum – what should be taught and not taught in our public schools and who are really qualified to be teachers and administrators for the education of our children. And we need new, well-designed and well-operated places for them to learn in.

For half of the ECRL budget, say RM20bil, we can start the investment and pump-prime the economy beyond our wildest dream. In addition, this spending will fundamentally change the majority of our society to one that is modern and progressive instead of the one we have today, backwards and inward-looking.

It would be something we could call The Great Malaysian Education Revamp Investment.

I would take this initiative away from the current Education Ministry. A ministry that has produced this failed education system cannot be entrusted to carry out a revamp of this nature. An academic, especially one who is steeped in an education based on religious beliefs, is not equipped to lead a major reformation and capital investment initiative. This is a major professional corporate-level investment initiative.

It has to be carried out by a select group of corporate and education professionals supported in the team by various governmental functions on-loan from ministries such as Works, Finance and Legal. This must be a one-stop centre special projects task force. This task force should be separated into

two segments, namely Education Reform and Infrastructure Rebuild.

It is really not that difficult to see what kind of schools we need, both in terms of infrastructure and curriculum. Go to the international schools in this country which cater primarily for children of first world countries – get their blueprint, work with them to understand why they do what they do and implement them.

Look at their infrastructure, see what they have as teachers, what and how they teach, their content and curriculum, and how they administer – and copy them.

If you want to become develop­ed, follow those who already are. Life is that simple.

To all you ethnocentric and na­­tiona­listic purveyors of such pride, I have this reminder. You do not go to Nasa and say, “Show me how to build the Saturn V rocket so I can get to the moon and then decide I need to modify its fuel mixture because I need the ingredients to reflect the national identity.”

That doesn’t work. You will be blown to pieces at the launchpad, which is exactly what happened to our education system the day we decided to do that. You want to reflect national identity? Don’t change the fuel. Paint the fuel tanks with our flags, that’s all.

I hope people get the hint.

Hence, this is what we should be investing in – a developed educational infrastructure, curriculum, teaching resources and a small but efficient administrative capability of international standards. Let’s spend tens of billions on it as capital investment. The rewards will be astronomical and will be far reaching all the way into generations.

It will fundamentally change our society. Imagine international schools for our public school system for primary and secondary education. Imagine the society that creates. Imagine, imagine!

So you may ask, what then should we do with our current infrastructure and resources? You do not move from your house in the ghetto to a spanking new bungalow in the suburbs and bring along your old furniture, do you? You transition only the ones that can fit into this new home and leave behind all the rest.

Sounds harsh? Of course it is. If something or someone is capable enough to be part of a developed infrastructure and resources, you test them and take it with you. If they don’t, you leave them behind. Eventually, close them down one by one until the entire ghetto is gone. Then you bulldoze all of them down.

Some will say that what I am saying is utopian, idealistic or not achievable. Here is my answer to that. Look around the world. Don’t look around underneath our tempurung. Changes are everywhere and they are coming fast. This is the 21st century. You either get on with it or you are going to be left behind. Industries are closing down and being replaced by those we never even imagined before. Never imagined.

Where are the telephone operators at the exchanges today? They don’t exist anymore. Anybody using landline phones in homes lately? Are we holding a telephone or a camera? Or is it a miniature laptop or a recorder or a photo album or … oh well. I don’t know what it is anymore. Cry all you want, but the taxi industry is going to cease to exist. Satellite TV? Wait till 5G comes along.

Disruptions in industries are the norm. In the 21st century, it is moving at breakneck speed. Sometimes I wonder how long general medical practitioners or pharmacists, as we know them today, can survive, or even conveyancing legal practitioners.

Education is not a sacred cow, especially if we want our nation to survive. We either get on with the programme or we wait for our time to perish like that proverbial frog in the slow-boiling pot.

We must change or die. Going back to economics, we are actually living precariously on borrowed time on the credit of our oil money. The other parts of our economy chip in here and there, but it’s very much oil money today. We need to change that narrative now and produce citizens who can compete and create new economies for the 21st century.

We cannot have this education system that turns our people into sheep, rather than thought-provo­king industry creators and innovators. We need to stop this nonsense.

If we continue on this path, we will see the collapse of our civilisation. Sounds alarmist? No, I am being a realist. People complain that our university graduates are still earning starting salaries of those about 20 years ago. It’s true, but it’s not the employers’ fault. As Bill Clinton used to say, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The economy will pay what its cost structure can stand for it to be viable. You can fix a minimum wage but if it cannot sell because no one can afford to pay for it, it will close down. And then no one gets paid. There is a reason the Human Resources Minister suggested that we look at African labour.

This is because our other neighbours’ wages have risen to that of what we pay that they don’t have to come to work here anymore. This is because our economy has not grown with the growth of our population, that’s why.

The signs are all there to see, but we refuse to see it. The worse thing is, our civil service and government-­linked company sub-economies have artificially provided shelter and complacency among the majority population, fully financed by taxpayer debts and diminishing oil money. I guarantee you that the retorts to this article, as was to many of my articles, will come from such subsidised mindsets.

Today in Malaysia, mediocrity and unproductivity is rewarded. This cannot, and will not, last for long. We need to change our condition. That change must come with education. Since our economy needs vigorous pump-priming, we might as well go all in with massive investment in education. And in that, we need a true revamp and rebuild of our education.

Let’s just do it.

Siti Kasim is a proud liberal, a non-conformist and a believer in the inalienable rights of individuals to choose their own path as long as no harm is caused to others.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Sunday Star

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Five challenges young Malaysians face with home ownership


For many young Malaysians, the road to owning a home is riddled with speed bumps. — Pexels

 

PETALING JAYA, Feb 26 — Most would agree that you truly reach adulthood the moment you own your own property.

Just like any other major milestone in life, getting there comes with its own set of challenges that many young Malaysians have to overcome before they can successfully purchase a home.

Here are five hurdles Malaysian millennials might encounter on the path towards home ownership:

1. Worrying about making the wrong choice, when is the ‘right’ time to buy?

 Purchasing a home can be a major decision that many Malaysian youths feel overwhelmed by. — Pexels pic

Purchasing a home can be a major decision that many Malaysian youths feel overwhelmed by. — Pexels pic

Making the decision to buy a piece of property is a huge step that young locals aren’t quite brave enough to take yet.

Social news website SAYS’ 2019 Malaysian Home Survey among 8,568 Malaysians reports that one in five respondents had “(worries) about making the wrong decision”, especially since home ownership requires a hefty financial investment.

2. Unsure about loan application and loan rejections.

Do you have enough saved up for a home in the future? — Pexels pic

Do you have enough saved up for a home in the future? — Pexels pic

A difficult loan approval process is a huge factor that dampens many Malaysians’ prospects of owning a home.

PropertyGuru’s Consumer Sentiment Survey in 2017 states that 33 per cent of Malaysians reported a tough approval process for bank loan applications which presents a major roadblock on the path to home ownership.

3. Starter salaries, not enough money saved for a downpayment.

The average Malaysian needs to plan carefully if they want to own a house with their current salary. — Reuters pic

The average Malaysian needs to plan carefully if they want to own a house with their current salary. — Reuters pic

The thought of dealing with a mortgage on the salary of a fresh graduate is making many millenials think twice about owning a house.

The Employee’s Provident Fund statement in 2016 had said that 89 per cent of the working population in Malaysia earn less than RM5,000 monthly, making home ownership especially challenging.

Most millenials wouldn’t believe that they could own a house with that salary.

4. Renting or owning?

It’s not easy maintaining a modern lifestyle when you’ve got a mortgage weighing on your shoulders. — Unsplash pic

It’s not easy maintaining a modern lifestyle when you’ve got a mortgage weighing on your shoulders. — Unsplash pic

The hefty financial commitment to owning a home means young Malaysians will have to make some lifestyle changes if they want to stay afloat while having a house to their name.

This might mean foregoing luxuries such as weekend brunches and holidays overseas which have become staples for the modern generation.

Hence, a monthly instalment replacing these pleasures is the reason 33% of Malaysians in SAYS’ survey are saying ‘no’ to home ownership.

 

5. Lack of awareness on housing deals and promotions.

Housing deals and offers don’t seem to be showing up on the radars of young Malaysians. — Unsplash pic


Housing deals and offers don’t seem to be showing up on the radars of young Malaysians. — Unsplash pic

While initiatives are in place to help young potential homeowners, many do not even know about the resources available to them that can ease the burden of property ownership.

A shocking 65 per cent of Malaysians in SAYS’ survey said that they had no clue about current housing offers and promotions.

This means that many young adults are currently unequipped with knowledge about navigating the property market.

In light of this, property developers EcoWorld have launched HOPE (Home Ownership Programme with EcoWorld), a comprehensive solution that promises to aid young Malaysians in their journey towards owning their dream home.

HOPE aims to make the dream of home ownership a full-fledged reality for millennials with the STAY2OWN (S2O) and HELP2OWN (H2O) programmes.

S2O will allow those wanting to stay in an EcoWorld project to rent their ideal home first with the confidence that they can become homeowners in the future.

A low monthly payment similar to the market rental rate also makes it particularly attractive for first-time homebuyers.

The option to rent first before buying also gives customers ample time to get their finances in order before committing to a new mortgage.

To top it all off, the rental savings will be used to offset part of the purchase price of the home, making it even more affordable for young Malaysians.

The H2O had successfully helped approximately 1,800 young homeowners and upgraders own their choice EcoWorld home last year and you can be one of them too! For more information on owning your dream home, visit EcoWorld’s website  https://ecoworld.my/hope/) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EcoWorldGroup/).

By Tan Mei Zi The MalayMail

* This article is brought to you by EcoWorld. https://ecoworld.my/hope/

A NEW HOPE FOR YOUR DREAM HOME


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Better to buy a car or a house first?


Given a choice, would you prefer to get a loan to buy an item that depreciates over a short period which is deemed as “bad debt” or commit on a “good debt”, which is to purchase a house or asset that will appreciate in the long term?

A car used to be a symbol of freedom and ease of mobility. I could understand the dilemma of having to choose between a house and a car a decade ago.

Even then, we should still have chosen a car within our means to manage our financial position.

Today, with public transportation and the availability of ride-sharing services such as Grab Car, we can now really have the option of buying a house first. This gives us both shelter and value appreciation.

This choice has just been made easier with Budget 2019 and the recent announcement by the Finance Ministry.

The government has rolled out several measures to assist homebuyers, including stamp duty exemptions.

Homebuyers will get a stamp duty waiver for memorandum of transfer (MoT) for the purchase of houses priced up to RM1mil, during the six-month Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) from January to June 2019. In addition, the stamp duty on loan documentation is fully waived up to RM2.5mil.

Besides that, the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) has also agreed to cut the prices of its completed and incoming units by at least 10%.

When I talk to potential homebuyers, they always ask about the right time to own property.

There is no perfect time to buy a house on foresight. If the price is within your means, and you plan to buy it for own stay or as a long-term investment, then anytime is a good time.

However, with the property market at the bottom half of the cycle now, this could be a good time to commit to a house with the attractive tax incentives rolled out by the government.

Homebuyers can grab the “duty-free” opportunity now to explore the property market. Those living in the Klang Valley will be able to find their dream home during the Homeownership Campaign Expo at the KLCC Convention Centre from March 1-3.

The campaign is jointly organised by Rehda and the Housing and Local Government Ministry. Besides having all developers under one roof, the ministry will also be featuring homes under RM300,000 by PR1MA, SPNB, PNB and others.

The Homeownership Campaign was first held in 1998 to lessen the burden of homebuyers and to encourage homeownership. It is re-introduced after two decades now with the same objective.

For homebuyers who don’t like the risk of buying a house under construction, there are plenty of completed units for sale in the campaign.

Buying a house can be emotional and uncertain for many homebuyers. However, in the long run, we can rest assured that we are buying an asset that will appreciate.

For homebuyers, always buy within your means as you can upgrade your house in the later stage of your life.

In this auspicious Chinese New Year, I hope you decide to prioritise a new house over a new car. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

By Alan Tong . . . Food for Thought

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the World President of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email bkp@bukitkiara.com
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