Malaysian GE13: In sickness and in health?

.Meeting the people: Anwar addressing the crowd during a campaign in Malim Nawar, Kampar.

Meeting the people: Anwar addressing the crowd during a campaign in Malim Nawar, Kampar.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a very busy man these days, but the person who awaits him each time he comes home must be reason enough for the opposition leader to get up and keep on going the next day.

DATUK Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail jokes that she has now become a JP – Jaga Pintu.

No matter how late her husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim gets back from campaigning, she always makes sure she is the one to open the door for him.

“I just think of how much pahala (merit) I must be getting by waking up to let him in and that motivates me,” says the PKR president who has a full schedule herself during this run-up to the general election.

Last Wednesday, Anwar was in Bandar Baru Uda, Johor, then Batu Pahat before finishing in Segamat. His ceramah only ended after midnight.

After that, he stopped at a mamak stall with the PKR candidate for Segamat and former health minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng for a drink before heading back to Kuala Lumpur.

He only got home at 4am, grabbed some sleep, then it was off to the PKR headquarters at Merchant Square, Petaling Jaya, for a morning press conference before rushing off to Pahang for another round of ceramah.

Again, he got back to Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours of the morning – this time it was at 2am – but at the crack of dawn, he was up for prayers and off to the airport to catch a morning flight to Sarawak for another packed programme.

Then he was in Sabah for more of the same before heading back to Kuala Lumpur before dashing off to Penang, Putrajaya, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Kedah for the final leg of campaigning.

Dr Wan Azizah says Anwar is good at pacing himself and getting power naps to re-energise so he can keep up with the gruelling pace.

Since the dissolution of Parliament, she says the PKR leader hasn’t had time to do his usual five-minute exercise on the bicycle.

“So, he does some stretches. And if (second daughter Nurul) Nuha’s one-year-old son, Sulaimaan, is around, he becomes Anwar’s ‘dumbell’.

“He loves it when Anwar lifts him up and down. So Anwar does that 10 to 15 times and that’s his upper arm exercise,” she laughs.

To maintain his health, Anwar has also started taking bird’s nest soup. “Because I know it’s made from birds’ saliva, I can’t drink it,” says Dr Wan Azizah with her usual no-airs charm.

On the campaign trail, Dr Wan Azizah and Anwar split up so they can cover more ground.

“We BBM or whatsapp each other a few times every day and talk at least once a day,” says Dr Wan Azizah.

Wherever he goes, crowds flock to hear Anwar speak.

“If Pakatan Rakyat wins the elections on May 5, we will be sworn in as the new government on May 6, and on May 7 we will bring petrol prices down,” Anwar says at almost every stop.

He promises that a Pakatan-run Federal Government will fully fund Chinese and Tamil schools in the country and abolish the PTPTN student loan scheme to make university education free.

As for the multi-billion ringgit Iskandar project in Gelang Patah, he says if Pakatan takes over the state, it will make sure there is participation of Johoreans in the project and that locals benefit from it – not just Singa­poreans and outsiders.

Anwar also accuses Barisan of stealing Pakatan’s ideas in its Janji Ditepati manifesto such as the bringing down of import duty on cars.

Another star attraction at the Opposition leader’s ceramah is the PKR double-decker, 18-seater Jelajah Merdeka Rakyat bus.

“Whenever it stops, people crowd around to take photos and pose in front of the bus,” says Anwar’s press secretary Najwan Halimi, who is a mechanical engineering graduate with political aspirations himself.

“Sometimes if Anwar is in the bus and there is time to spare, he’ll get down and take pictures with the people.” Most of the time, though, Anwar is not on the bus.

Because he has to rush from place to place for the tight ceramah schedule and due to his back problem, Anwar usually moves around in a car and hops onto the bus the last two or three kilometres from the location.

“Sometimes party or division leaders would get on the bus to join the campaign and arrive at the venue together with Anwar,” says Najwan. “People love the bus because it is something different and special.”

Come May 5, voters will decide whether they opt for something different or stay with what’s comfortable and familiar.


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Anwar is a US tool? Malaysian election fever

Dr Chandra: He will change foreign policy

Chandran Muzaffar

PETALING JAYA: Bilateral relations between Malaysia and China will be jeapordised if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becomes the next prime minister.

Former PKR deputy president Dr Chandra Muzaffar said Anwar, who has always been considered a US ally would surely change Malaysia’s foreign policy towards China due to his close ties with the US.

“Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is considered as only a friend’ of the US, not an ally.

“It is because Najib is consistently forging close ties with the Chinese government,” he said yesterday.

Dr Chandra explained that Najib had always maintained close bilateral ties with China, especially in terms of the country’s foreign policy.

“The conservative lobbyists in the US are not happy with Najib’s attempts to strengthen ties with China,” he said.

Dr Chandra also highlighted that Anwar was among the members of an international delegation, who opposed the Olympics being held in Beijing in 2008.

“Prior to 2008, Anwar joined campaigners from the US and other countries, opposing China from staging the games,” he said.

Meanwhile, at a forum organised by the Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM Malay Consultative Council) last Friday, Dr Chandra, urged the Chinese not to allow themselves to be tricked by Anwar who was not honest in fighting for the community.

“If the Chinese are still hoping that Anwar will fight for their cause that would be their biggest mistake.

“Anwar is a US tool, and if he becomes the Prime Minister, the good relationship between Malaysia and China will be over,” he said.

The Star/Asia News Network

Fearful of China’s rise?

PETALING JAYA: China may overtake the United States as the biggest economic power in the next four to six years but this does not mean that it will instantly become the world’s superpower, says a leading expert on China.

Dr Martin Jacques, 67, author of the global bestseller When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, said it would take several decades, from between 2030 and 2040, before it could even achieve developed state status.

“It’d be a long way to go as a superpower,” he said at a talk on “China As Global Superpower: What It Means For Asia and The World”, hosted by the Asian Centre for Media Studies, based in Menara Star.

The second edition of his book was released recently and 40% of its content was new.

“This includes an extensive chapter analysing events after the 2008 financial crisis,” he said.

Expert on China: Dr Jacques presenting a talk hosted by the Asian Centre for Media Studies at Menara Star.

His first was shortlisted for two major literary awards.

Dr Jacques said Westerners were fearful of China’s rise due to scant knowledge and understanding of China and that it was a communist country.

They fear the country might throw its weight and its military power around.

However, Dr Jacques pointed out that China had no major interest in developing military power after Deng Xiaoping took over the country from the late 1970s to 1990s.

On fears that a communist country was not democratic, he argued that being democratic had not stopped Europeans from conquering others.

“Although China has a lot of problems now, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be humane and more democratic,” said Dr Jacques.

“Maybe, it will develop universal suffrage without following the Western way.”

Dr Jacques pointed out that the China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank gave loans of more than US$110bil (RM338.415bil) to other developing countries in 2009 and 2010 while the World Bank only made loan commitments of US$100.3bil (RM307.65bil).

Dr Jacques, a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Economics (University of London), visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, Washington DC, was the former editor of Marxism Today, deputy editor of The Independent and a co-founder of the think tank Demos.

Fresh insight on China

PETALING JAYA: China continues to grab world headlines and dominate international news for many reasons. The world’s second largest economy is now expected to be the biggest in only a few years, with many far-reaching implications to follow.

World-renowned author and academic Dr Martin Jacques (pic) will be presenting a fresh look at the new China in a talk at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya at 2pm on Thursday.

His talk titled “China As Global Superpower: What It Means For Asia and The World” is hosted by the Asian Center for Media Studies, based at Star Publications (M) Bhd.

Dr Jacques is the author of the global bestseller When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, which has been translated into 11 languages, shortlisted for two major literary awards and described as the best book on China in many years.

To keep track of the rapid changes in China, Dr Jacques has just released the second edition of his book, incorporating the latest data and an extended analysis which includes a new section.

The discussant for the talk will be Dr Lee Poh Ping, a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of China Studies at Universiti Malaya.

Dr Lee has written and published extensively on East Asian affairs and presented university seminars on Dr Jacques’ work.

The talk will be moderated by The Star‘s associate editor Bunn Nagara.

The event at the Cybertorium in Menara Star is open to the public free of charge, with no registration required

 The Star/Asia News Network

Credit-tightening cooling down property market

 Loan approvals for home purchase decline

The banks’ tighter lending rules have slightly diminished the actual sales in the residential property market, according to real estate consultants as well as Bank Negara Malaysia data.

Bank Negara’s website revealed that the percentage of loan approvals for houses have declined to 46.8 percent in 1H2012 from 50.1 percent over the same period last year.

The amount of mortgage applications for home purchases rose by 2.9 percent year-on-year to RM96.7 billion in 1H2012. However, the value of loans that were approved fell from RM47 billion to RM45.26 billion.

Paul Khong, Executive Director of CB Richard Ellis Malaysia (CBRE), noted that residential property prices could be affected if the mortgage approval rate continues to decline.

“In order to conclude transactions, residential property sellers may now need to realistically adjust their selling prices as many of the buyers cannot get their loan applications approved,” added Khong.

CBRE’s recent report on Kuala Lumpur’s housing market also noted a decline in the percentage of loan approvals in Q2 2012. The report revealed that the rate “was as high as 60.5 percent during the first five months of 2008, and has declined steadily since.”

The report also highlighted that the lower rate could be due to the central bank’s new lending guidelines.

Anthony Chua, Director of KGV International Property Consultants, commented that although the demand for homes continues to be high, the tougher lending measures have somehow cooled the market.

“We are still monitoring the situation. There is less transactional activity in the market this year for both new property launches and the secondary market compared with last year,” said Chua.

For the latest property news, trends, resources and expert opinions, visit our Property News section. Home buyers, sellers or property renters looking for Malaysian Properties, may like to visit today.

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Loan demand remains stable

Actual sale of residential properties declining

PETALING JAYA: The residential property market may be cooling down in terms of actual sales due to credit-tightening measures by banks, according to real estate consultants and Bank Negara data.

Bank Negara’s website showed loan approvals’ percentage for residential properties in the country declined to 46.8% in the first half of this year from 50.1% during the same period in 2011.

The number of loans applied for purchases of residential properties increased by 2.9% year-on-year in the first half of this year to RM96.7bil.

However, the number of residential property loans approved during the six-month period declined to RM45.26bil from RM47bil in the same period in 2011.

It is also worth noting that the loan approval percentage for non-residential properties was stable at 52.3% in the first half of this year, compared with 52.4% during the same period in 2011.

The number of loans applied (RM50.35bil) and approved (RM26.35bil) for purchases of non-residential properties was also stable in the first half of this year.

CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd executive director Paul Khong said if the housing loan approval rate continued to decline, it will affect residential property prices.

“In order to conclude transactions, residential property sellers may now need to realistically adjust their selling prices as many of the buyers cannot get their loan applications approved,” he said.

KGV International Property Consultants director Anthony Chua said although the demand for residential properties continued to be high, the credit-tightening measures by banks had resulted in the market “cooling somewhat”.

“We are still monitoring the situation. There is less transactional activity in the market this year for both new property launches and the secondary market compared with last year,” said Chua.

Property consultancy CB Richard Ellis (M) Sdn Bhd had, in its recent report on the Kuala Lumpur residential market for the second quarter of 2012, also noted that there was a significant decline in the loan approval percentage this year.

“The loan approval rate was as high as 60.5% during the first five months of 2008, and has declined steadily since,” said the report.

The CBRE report said that the lower rate of loan approvals this year could be attributed to the implementation of new lending guidelines by Bank Negara.

Effective this year, banks have started using net income instead of gross income to calculate the debt service ratio for loans.

“Anecdotal evidence from real estate agents suggests that transactional activity has also declined as a result.”

The property consultancy also pointed out that despite the lower loan approval rates, buyer interest in new property launches, typically of smaller housing units in secondary locations, during the second quarter remained strong with developers continuing to offer attractive incentives to the purchasers such as the developer interest bearing scheme (DIBS), early bird discounts, free built-in cabinets and free legal fees.

“We expect 2012 to be a period of stabilisation especially within the luxury residential market, with transactional activity depressed by uncertain economic conditions and the reduction in loan approval percentage, which remains well below 50%.”

The CBRE report also said speculative property purchases were expected to be reduced for the rest of this year, as a result of tighter lending conditions, uncertain economic outlook, and concerns about the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Meanwhile, another property consultant said the tighter lending conditions had taken a visible toll on the secondary residential property market.

“Newly-launched properties are selling well thanks to better financing access, especially with the DIBS offered by many property developers.”

The consultant said slower sales activities in the secondary residential property market had resulted in innovative offers from marketing agents.

“This includes transactions where buyers sign the sales and purchase agreement but take the bank loans only a year or twolater. In effect, the buyers lock in the unit price now (perhaps in anticipation of further increases in market prices) and defer payment until much later. This works just like an informal DIBS,” he said.

In a recent report, Kenanga Research also said based on its channel checks, the secondary market appeared to be very weak and prices of secondary and primary products have diverged further.

The research unit opined that buyers were more focussed on new launches due to financing and promotional schemes.

“From a bank’s perspective, we think there is a preference to lend to the primary market as it means better asset quality whilst banks can get all-in’ deals with developers (for example, end-financing to bridging to land financing) to ensure a more balanced systems loans growth.”

Kenanga Research also opined that as a result, property developers can continue to grab greater market share and chalk-up high sales, although it expected Malaysia’s overall residential transaction value growth to be relatively unexciting at 5% year-on-year.

It was noted that despite the tighter lending criteria, Malaysia’s total residential transaction values have remained stable in the first quarter of this year.

It said buying interest remained strong, due to residential property buyers hedging against inflation and the lack of alternative investments, but this will be reigned in by more prudent lending criteria and the banking system’s fear of real-estate tightening measures such as higher real property gains tax.

By THOMAS HUONG News Network

Malaysia energy efficient vehicle hub from China?

Three China-based firms to hold talks on making M’sia energy efficient vehicle hub

In June, it was reported that Chery Malaysia, which is part of China’s Chery Automobile Co, would be setting up a plant in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Three China-based automotive companies are close to making Malaysia their energy efficient vehicle (EEV) base of operations for the region, a source familiar with the matter said.

“Three potential Chinese automotive companies have been identified to manufacture right-hand-drive EEV vehicles for the region and representatives from the Government will be holding talks with them later this month,” he told StarBiz.

The source added that the meeting was necessary to “validate” the capabilities of the Chinese auto firms.

“We need to know if they are serious and have the capabilities of making Malaysia a hub for their EEV operations.”

According to reports, the Government, in line with intentions of liberalising the local automotive sector, is seriously looking to turn the country into an EEV hub for the region.

It has also been widely speculated that various incentives will be announced under the revised National Automotive Policy to attract foreign automotive companies with EEV capabilities.

EEVs are vehicles that meet a set of defined specification in terms of emission level and energy usage including fuel-efficient vehicles, hybrid, electric vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles such those using compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen and fuel cell.

In June, it was reported that Chery Malaysia, which is part of China’s Chery Automobile Co, would be investing RM250mil in the country over the next five years, which would include the setting up of a production plant in Malaysia that would serve as a hub to make its right-hand-drive cars for the region.

The source added that many Chinese automotive companies had the know-how and expertise to develop hybrid vehicles.

“They are especially capable of manufacturing hybrid batteries at competitive prices. There is a good possibility that the Government may consider making the country into a hub for hybrid batteries.”

Apart from China-based companies, the source also said renowned automotive players from the United States, Japan and Europe had also expressed interests in making Malaysia their EEV hub.

He said the US-based company, which already had operations in Thailand, was looking to make Malaysia its hub for passenger EEVs.

“Thailand is more of a pick-up (truck) market but the growth potential for passenger cars is better in Malaysia.

“The American car company is looking to set up a hub here to help fast-track its global small car plans within Asean and beyond.”


Malaysian car prices to drop gradually?

Revised NAP likely to include policy to reduce car prices over next 3-4 years

PETALING JAYA: The revised National Automotive Policy (NAP) will include a policy that will address the gradual reduction of car prices in the country, said an industry source.

 What happens to second-hand cars? Naza Group of Companies joint executive chairman SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin was quoted in a recent report as saying: if prices dropped, the resale value of a car would then plummet but the loan amount owed to banks (on cars already bought) would be unchanged.

The Government, through the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), had engaged us in the past few months to discuss on the matter,” he told StarBiz.

“There will be a policy that will tackle the gradual reduction of car prices in Malaysia. Details of this policy are expected to be made public in the near future,” he added.

The source said the policy would outline a structure to gradually reduce car prices over the next three to four years.

The Government has been considering it (the reduction of car prices) in the revised NAP and it was only a matter of time for this issue to be addressed,” said the industry source.

It is a known fact that the prices of cars are high in Malaysia compared with Thailand.

However, it has been argued that the cost of vehicle ownership in Malaysia is still among the most competitive in the Asean region, primarily due to the subsidised fuel prices, cheaper road tax and insurance premiums.

In a recent news report, MAI chief executive officer Madani Sahari was quoted as saying that Malaysia had the second lowest cost of vehicle ownership in the region after the Philippines.

According to him, the cost of vehicle ownership in Malaysia, compared to Thailand and Indonesia, was lower by 39% and 12% respectively.

In terms of petrol prices, Thailand was the highest, followed by Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, Madani said in the news report.

Meanwhile, on the point of car prices being slashed overnight via the reduction of vehicle excise duties, industry observers argue that the impact would be negative for existing buyers rather than first-time ones.

“If you’re a first-time buyer, it would be like a dream come true as it means you can now afford to buy a car that was too expensive previously,” said one industry observer who requested anonymity.

“For the existing buyer, it would mean that the resale value of the car would have diminished overnight,” he added.

It is also argued that the sudden drop in vehicle prices would have a severe impact on second-hand car dealers.

Those servicing existing car loans will also be severely affected.

In a local news report recently, Naza Group of Companies joint executive chairman SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin was quoted as saying that if taxes were scrapped, consumers would have to overpay bank loans taken for their vehicles.

In the report, Nasarudin claimed that if prices dropped, the resale value of a car would then plummet but the loan amount owed to banks would be unchanged.


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More millionaires nowadays; secret to success and riches

PETALING JAYA: There may be more millionaires in Malaysia now than before but they may not necessarily be feeling rich.

Besides the rising number of successful business owners, many high-salaried people are already millionaires based on the value of their assets and properties.

RAM Holdings Bhd group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the term could also apply to those in the middle-class who could have earned the amount but had spent it on necessities such as on costly children’s education and high property prices.

He said although a millionaire was measured by his or her disposable income, those who have made their million would not have the same purchasing power compared to a decade ago, citing inflation as the main reason.

Dr Yeah said many in business had made their millions as a result of savvy investments and the growth of the industries that they were involved in, adding that overall, the rising affluence was due to sustained economic growth.

“We have seen a strong growth in certain sectors, including plantation, oil and gas and property, which have elevated entrepreneurs into the millionaire class,” he said.

Billionaires, however, remain rare. Malaysia now has 30 billionaires, just three more from the 27 on the list last year.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported last year that Malaysia’s millionaires almost doubled over the previous 18 months.

Citing a report by international financial firm Credit Suisse Group, it said Malaysia added 19,000 new millionaires since early 2010, bringing the total to 39,000 as of October.

The WSJ report attributed the rise to the weakening US dollar and careful spending.

Dr Yeah said those who invested their money wisely had benefited the most.

“In a free market and capitalist economy like Malaysia, people who have capital can generate millions,” he said, noting that many in the upper-income bracket had accumulated wealth past the million-ringgit mark.

Personal financial consultant Carol Yip said the rising cost of living had lessened the feeling of being rich.

“Today, even a small apartment can cost half a million,” she said.

She said careful spending was not a factor for the increase in the numbers of millionaires.

“If we are spending less, we won’t be seeing so many luxury cars on the road,” she said.

She said the rise in millionaires was also due to property prices which have shot up exponentially, adding that the definition should not include the value of the house that one was living in.

“If you still have a million in hand after you convert the value of your other properties, investments and have paid of all your debts, then you are a millionaire,” she added.

Financial adviser Fred Wong said making a million was not a problem these days as long as people were willing to work hard but being self-employed and investing wisely was the better route to riches.


Millionaires’ secret to success

PETALING JAYA: Ganesh Kumar Bangah made his first million at the age of 23.

The secret, he said, was as simple as knowing what people needed and delivering it to them.

“I knew what I was good at, which was IT. I used that to come up with something of value to the world.

“I also worked hard and persevered until I reached the goals I had set for myself,” said Ganesh, now 33 and the CEO of MOL Global Bhd, a company worth over RM1bil.

<b>Young and rich:</b> Ganesh (left) and Yap made their first million at the age of 23 and 26 respectively. Young and rich: Ganesh (left) and Yap made their first million at the age of 23 and 26 respectively.

He said that even when he was only 15, he had been using his skills to make money, like repairing his teachers’ computers for a fee.

At the age of 20, he started his own company, which made him a millionaire in three years.

“Be focused and set new goals for yourself to keep climbing higher. Real wealth is the satisfaction you get when you overcome a new challenge that brings rewards. Financial wealth should just be a by-product.”

Feng shui master and multi-millionaire Joey Yap said learning to make good use of time was a key ingredient to achieving financial success.

“In business, time is money, so make sure you use your time to acquire things of good value. Find out what your strengths are, work on your weaknesses and hone your talents,” said Yap, 35, who made his first million at age 26 by selling his first feng shui home study course.

However, having RM1mil does not necessarily make people feel rich, especially for those raising children in the city.

Carol Leong, 57, a mother of three, said it costs more than the amount for an average family to live in the city and raise a child to adulthood.

“There are medical bills, tuition fees, various expenses and their education to pay for. For our family, it has definitely come up to more than RM1mil per child,” she said.

Leong, a lawyer, said she and her businessman husband had placed their money in various investments, which in the long run had helped pay for tertiary education overseas for their three children.

“I would advise young parents living in the city and who are just starting a family to invest to secure some income for the future,” she added.


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