Penang’s eight transport plans unfulfilled, Not even one commenced work, says Teng


https://youtu.be/GL2DRy_6PpU

 

Hard questions: Teng holding up leaflets highlighting ‘51 Empty Promises’ of the state government.

GEORGE TOWN: From a monorail over Penang Bridge to the undersea tunnel project, the state has not delivered any of them, said Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow.

“Between 2008 and 2016, there were public transport proposals from a tram, a monorail, Penang Sky Cab, aerobus between the island and mainland, light railway transit, cable car and underground subway to underground mass rapid transit.

“Eight promises made but until today, not even one has commenced work,” Teng told a press conference yesterday.

In November 2008, a few months after helming the state, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state was considering adding a hanging monorail along Penang Bridge, among other transport projects.

Teng brought up these unfulfilled transport projects yesterday.

He also maintained that the state could cancel the Penang undersea tunnel project because there was no clause in the agreement to pay compensation for cancellation.

“I am shocked that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said I should pay compensation if the project is cancelled.

“The question is why the state government still refuses to cancel the contract.

“With so many missed deadlines and no construction after five years and the tunnel feasibility studies not completed, we wonder why the state government still refuses to cancel the project.”

Teng was responding to Lim who said on Wednesday that when a signed contract was cancelled, there must be some sort of compensation – The Star

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Penang Tunnel project to be scrapped, flood mitigation plans among BN manifesto


 

‘Tunnel project to be scrapped’

BUTTERWORTH: Six pledges and 60 initiatives – that’s what the Barisan Nasional will be armed with as it attempts to wrest Penang from the clasp of the Opposition.

In its “Save Penang” manifesto launched yesterday, the coalition listed resolving flooding, overcoming traffic congestion and halting hillside development as the top priorities.

State Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow said if it regained power in the state, the controversial undersea tunnel project to link the island to the mainland would be scrapped.

He said further land reclamation at Permatang Damar Laut and Gurney Drive would also be barred.

Teng also announced that areas 76m above sea-level would be declared permanent forest reserves to protect the hills.

On flooding, he said the Barisan would resolve the problem within three-and-a-half years, by installing water pumps and floodgates and implementing a Penang Flood Mitigation Plan.

Another priority was to build 65,000 affordable houses within five years, introduce rent-to-own housing scheme, set the price of a low-cost home to RM40,000 (including a free carpark) and between RM80,000 and RM120,000 for medium-cost units (including free carpark).

The other priorities were listed as economic development, people’s welfare, and tourism and heritage.

Among others, the Barisan pledged to remove toll charges for motorcycles, abolish the water surcharge, provide a special fund of RM2,000 to couples who tie the knot for the first time, provide school bus subsidy to eligible families, provide free parking at council roadsides and residential areas, and allocate RM15mil annually for national-type, religious and private Chinese schools.

The Barisan also pledged to abolish postage charges and other charges for bill payments, provide free water to hardcore poor, reintroduce traffic wardens in school areas, and not to increase water tariff for residential areas within five years.

Thousands of Barisan leaders and members who attended the launch cheered when Teng fired salvos at the DAP-led state government, claiming its leaders made 51 false promises over the last 10 years.

Also present were state Umno chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman, state MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, state MIC deputy chairman Datuk M. Nyanasegaran and leaders of Barisan-friendly parties.

Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Flood Mitigation plans among BN manifesto

BARISAN Nasional will get allocation from the Federal Government to alleviate flooding woes in Penang within three and a half years if it secures the mandate from the people.

Penang Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow, a former state exco member, said detailed infographics would be required to come up with an action plan as well as a drainage masterplan to resolve the problem.

“We have experience in formulating flood mitigation plans in the past.

“From there, we will take the matter up to the Federal Government to negotiate for the amount of funds needed.

“We also have an emergency manual outlining standard operating procedures for a state to manage when struck by floods, and this goes in tandem with the Federal  Government’s guidelines to create a clear chain of command. “We noticed that in recent years, places in Penang that had never been flooded suddenly experienced floods.

“This is due to poor planning, lack of drainage and failure to identify hotspots.

“The people have suffered because of poor coordination and help could not reach them in time,” he said at a press conference after unveiling Barisan’s manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya.

Commenting on the pledge for 50% of Penang island city councillors and Seberang Prai municipal councillors to be appointed from independent bodies, he said the  representatives could join the planning committee to give their ideas.

Teng said that although landowners had the right to plan projects, those staying next door could voice their views including objecting to the projects if they were affected.

“But today, planners are not planning.

“Instead, politicians are doing the planning,” he said.

Teng said planning should be left to planners with expertise while politicians should only make policies.

‘Can fulfil promises’

Teng: Penang will receive more allocation if voted into power

 

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5770690231001

DESPITE being an Opposition state, Penang has received RM2.08bil as allocation from the Federal Government between 2013 and 2017.

Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the amount was the highest among the northern states.

He said Kedah received RM1.76bil followed by Perak (RM1.25bil) and Perlis (RM360mil) during the same period.

“We can fulfil all our promises in the manifesto. The state will receive more allocation if we win the state from Pakatan Harapan,” he told reporters after launching the Penang Barisan manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya yesterday.

Asked why the monorail and LRT projects which were in the 2013 manifesto were missing from the present one, Teng said the people in the state had rejected both projects as Penang Barisan was not voted into power then.

“However, we are open to consultation with the people and those from the civil movements to revive such projects if we are voted into power in the upcoming general election,” he said.

On another matter, Teng said Penang never had it easy during the 22-year tenure of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Penang was bypassed most of the time when it came to development projects.

“It was difficult for then Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to get allocation for projects in Penang as the funds would not come.

“Dr Mahathir, for reasons best known to himself, did not allocate sufficient funds for Penang and most of the time we were bypassed,” said Teng, who was once a state executive councillor.

Click to view details

 

– By K. Suthakar, Lo Tern Chern, and R. Sekaran, The Star

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Aye to Barisan’s manifesto

Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

 

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Malay & bumiputra rural voters will determine the winners or losers of coming Malaysia’s GE14


Down the wire with the Malays

– With urbanites caught up in social media debates, it will be the quiet rural folks who determine the winners (and losers) of GE14

IF you haven’t already heard this one before, it will be the Malay and bumiputra voters, mainly in rural areas, who will determine what the next government looks like.

Despite the racket from urbanites, be it in private discussions or from the many irate postings on social media, it will come down to the relatively quiet rural folks who make up the decisive voices.

Out of the 222 parliamentary seats, there are now 117 rural Malay seats in Peninsular Malaysia, following the delineation exercise – up from the previous 114 Malay majority seats in the previous general election. There are 19 seats each in Sabah and Sarawak, with predominantly bumiputra voters.

These 117 seats include the 52 constituencies in Felda settlements regarded the heartland of the Malays, where the primary concerns are racial and religious in nature.

Another election monitoring group, Tindak Malaysia, reportedly estimated the Malay majority seats at 115 – up one seat from the previous 114, before the delineation.

To form the government, all that’s needed is a simple majority of 112 seats. Prior to the dissolution of Parliament, the Barisan Nasional had 130.

Donald Trump won the United States presidency firmly backed by the rural areas, and not from that of New York, Los Angeles or Washington DC. In fact, he lost the popular vote by a bigger margin than any other US president in history, but he won, via the country’s electoral system, which saw each state assigned several votes that go to the candidate who wins the public vote in that state.

His Republican party won in what is regarded as swing states, such as North Carolina and Ohio, with huge rural votes. In fact, he won 67% of the rural American votes.

In Malaysia, our voting system is much simpler with its “first past the post” format, based after the British electoral system. Again, popular votes don’t count. But like in the United States, it will be the rural folks who will be the determinants. In Malaysia, it won’t be the traditionally anti-establishment Chinese voters in cities.

In the 2013 elections, there were 30 Chinese majority seats or 13.5% of the parliamentary seats, according to a recent news report, quoting social media analytics firm Politweet.

“The proportion of ethnic Chinese voters in these seats ranged from 52.27% (Beruas) to as high as 90.94% in Bandar Kuching.

“These seats can be found in Penang (7), Perak (5), Kuala Lumpur (5), Selangor (1), Melaka (1), Johor (3), Sarawak (6) and Sabah (2),” it said. From the 30 Chinese majority seats, the DAP won 29 and PKR one.

But Tindak Malaysia has claimed that the number of Chinese majority seats has dropped to 24. There is also another stark fact; even without the delineation exercise, the number of Chinese voters has continued to shrink sharply.

According to Malay Mail Online, despite blaming Chinese voters for the decline in votes for Barisan, they, in fact, only formed about four million of the total 13.3 million registered voters. It quoted Politweet founder Ahmed Kamal Nava as saying that the Chinese vote “is going to become less relevant to both Barisan/Pakatan Harapan over time because the Chinese majority seats are going to become mixed seats and eventually, Malay majority seats”.

The report also said that a comparison between the GE13 electoral roll and the electoral roll for 2017’s first quarter showed that the Chinese voters’ projection has already fallen by over one percentage point in seven states and in 79 of the 165 seats in the peninsula.

Going by current trends, the projection is that the number of non-Malays will continue to drop further, with some saying that by 2050, there could be 80% bumiputras and just 15% Chinese and about 5% Indians.

In 2014, 75.5% from the live birth total were bumiputras, followed by Chinese, at only 14% with Indians 4.5%, and others 6%.

Based on calculations, the Chinese birth rate at 1.4 babies per family in 2015 from 7.4% in 1957 means that their position in Malaysia will fall from 24.6% in 2010, 21.4% in 2015 to 18.4% or less in 2040.

In the 2013 elections, realising that it is the majority Malay votes that will tip the scale, the DAP readily tied up with PAS, hoping they would be able to capture Putrajaya. The DAP aggressively pushed the Chinese to vote for PAS, and many did willingly, but the pact failed to materialise. PAS paid a heavy price for sleeping with the enemy, because the rural Malays simply couldn’t accept the Rocket.

A random survey on PAS’ core voter base – rural Malays – by online portal FMT, found that many viewed its alliance with the “kafir” party DAP suspiciously.

PAS emerged a major loser in the 13th general election, managing to grab only 21 of the 73 parliamentary seats it contested. It even lost Kedah. In the 2008 polls, it secured 23 parliamentary seats.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang must have found his dabbling with danger a painful one. It didn’t help that the relationship between the DAP and PAS had soured following the elections.

Fast forward to 2018. The DAP, again, is explicitly aware the Chinese cannot hope to dump Umno without the Malays, so a new pact with PKR, Parti Pribumi Malaysia and Parti Amanah Negara has been forged.

It is even prepared to drop its iconic Rocket symbol, its organising secretary Anthony Loke admitting the Malays are wary of it.

The test now is whether the Malays in the rural areas will accept the idea of having Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang, whom the former had demonised the past 30 years of his political life, as emblems of a party taking care of their interest.

If no Malay tsunami materialises, and if the Chinese, again, place their chips on the Opposition – which seems to be the sentiment currently in urban areas – then, it will be the third consecutive elections in which the Chinese would have bet on the losing side.

The implications will be far-reaching for the community, especially if the Chinese representation in the government is weakened or non-existent when it involves legislation with religious overtones. It will also mean the possibility of being cut off from the mainstream involvement in crucial policy making and areas of development.

More so with whispers of a tie up between Umno and PAS, in some form, after the general election.

If the Barisan continues to get the mandate, as expected, DAP could end up occupying the biggest seats on the opposition bench since the rest of the Malay parties are generally untested, with PKR the exception.

Not many city folk, with the rising political temperature, want to hear or accept that this is simply a fight in the rural Malay heartland. Reality check: it will be the Malays and bumiputras who will have our fate in their hands.


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

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


NGO draws up own manifesto to assist the next state government

(From left) Anil, Ben, Dr Chee, Khoo Salma, Dr Anwar and Dr Kam at the press conference to launch the Penang Forum Agenda 2018 at Penang Heritage Trust in Church Street.
(From left) Anil, Ben, Dr Chee, Khoo Salma, Dr Anwar and Dr Kam at the press conference to launch the Penang Forum Agenda 2018 at Penang Heritage Trust in Church Street. 

PENANG Forum, a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups, has come up with its own ‘manifesto’ with emphasis on three principles namely good governance, social inclusion and sustainable development.

Dubbed the ‘Penang Forum Agenda 2018’, six members shared insights into various areas that could be improved by the new state government.

The agenda, supporting transit-oriented development, walkable downtowns, mixed-income housing, public green open spaces and social inclusion was discussed by forum members comprising of activist Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, scientist Dr Kam Suan Pheng, social activists Dr Chee Heng Leng, Khoo Salma Nasution, Anil Netto and Ben Wismen.

Khoo Salma said in the past 10 years, the state made progress on some fronts but it was over dependent on growth driven by the property sector and tourism.

“A far-sighted vision for Penang requires a paradigm shift to new urbanism, sustainable transport and environmental resilience.

“We are willing to work with the next state government to come up with different economic strategies so that we are not over reliant on the construction sector and mass tourism,” she told newsmen at the Penang Heritage Trust in Church Street after the event yesterday.

Khoo Salma urged the new government to look into making public buildings, spaces and transport accessible for people with disabilities.

“Employment and housing quotas should be fulfilled for them as well.

“Public facilities at council and state flats need to be updated to an elderly-friendly design,” she said.

Khoo Salma also urged for the new state government to adopt a comprehensive approach to the housing policy, prioritising social housing for the low-income category.

Anil said that affordable housing should be not more than three times the annual income for the middle-income group.

“It does not mean we need to stop building but we need to look at the needs of the population, we should look for property development for the two categories rather than high-end development.”

Scientist Dr Kam shared that the agenda was not only to give ideas to political parties but to survive beyond the campaigning period.

“If they like certain things or better still all of our recommendations, it would be great.

“I hope that the next state government will take a look at our manifesto and incorporate some of the ideas,” she said.

Dr Anwar said the Penang Forum Agenda would be shared with all concerned parties as well as posted online for the public to view.

For further details on the agenda visit https://penangforum.net/  by N. Trisha The Star

Penang Forum has a list of demands which it calls on Penang’s newly
elected officials of 2018 to act upon and deliver. These demands are
related to the three principles of good governance, social inclusion and
sustainable development. Read More

MCA launches its general election manifesto – a plan for better future


KUALA LUMPUR: MCA has unveiled the party’s manifesto for the general election, just some 12 hours after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak revealed Barisan Nasional’s manifesto on Saturday (April 7) night.

Party president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai outlined MCA’s 10 promises and 10 initiatives for the next five years, which will complement Barisan’s manifesto.

He said MCA will become the key driver of various initiatives targeting the masses with its main pillar being youth empowerment.

Liow also stressed on the party’s commitment towards transforming MCA-established education institutions into a global education hub, the second pillar of MCA’s 14th General Election manifesto.

“As MCA’s roots still rest with the lower income groups, we must also continue to look after the well being of the people requiring assistance. This is the third pillar, social economic well-being.

“In order for this agenda to succeed, a multi-racial approach must be adopted to tackle various issues that confront the community.

“The party will continue to reach out to understand their needs through active stakeholder engagements,” Liow said during the unveiling ceremony at Wisma MCA here on Sunday morning.

This is the first time MCA is having its own manifesto for the general election.

MCA’s 10 promises are:

1. Safeguard moderation

– Uphold the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara

2. Ensure checks and balances

– Represent the constitutional rights of Malaysian Chinese and other communities

3. Youth and women empowerment

– New businesses, jobs and training opportunities

– Appoint

youth and women into key positions

– Reskilling youths for digital revolution

4. Enhance the quality of Chinese education

– Committed towards recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC)

– Systematic approach in construction of new SJK(C)s and allocations

5. Setting forth education in the world stage

– Modernise and globalise education through UTAR, TARUC and Vtar

6. Harnessing the Belt and Road Initiative

– Connectivity with China and Asean

– Open up trade opportunities in China

7. Digital economy and innovation

– Help SMEs ride on wave of e-commerce

8. Quantum leap in business and finance

– Establish the Kojadi Co-operative Bank

– Enhance the functions of the Secretariat For the Advancement Of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME)

9. Neo-urbanised townships

– Transforming new villages

10. Accessible healthcare

– Establish UTAR Hospital with Western and complementary medicine

MCA’s 10 initiatives are: 

 

1. Establish a Central Monitoring Unit

– monitor fair and effective implementation of government policies

2. Global and regional connectivity

– MCA Belt and Road Centre to strengthen ties with China

– make Malaysia a gateway to China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Asean

3. Establish a Digital Economy and Innovation Council

– gather feedback for formulation of policies and legislation

4. World class tertiary education

– UTAR to set up teaching hospital in Kampar

5. Developing the next generation

– transform TARUC into full-fledged technical university

6. Technical and vocational education training

– expand Vtar Institute into a well-equipped TVET development and training institution

7. Wealth generation for SMEs and lower and middle income groups

– introduce an investment scheme for Malaysian Chinese

8. Neo-urbanised townships

– stimulate and modernise new villages

9. Protecting welfare of women, children and the elderly

– champion the progress of women in Malaysia

– help stateless Malaysians get citizenship

– ensure enforcement of legislation against paedophiles

10. Continue outreach services for the community through the:

– Public Services and Complaints Bureau

– Chang Ming Thien Foundation

– 1MCA Medical Foundation

– Legal Advisory and Women’s Aid Centre

A plan for better future

Manifesto aims to lessen burdens the community faces now

KUALA LUMPUR: The rising cost of living and the widening income gap are what the public is most concerned about these days, says Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The MCA president said the urgency of the situation prompted MCA to come out with specific actions to address it in the next five years.

These actions are listed out in MCA’s 14th General Election Manifesto with 10 promises and 10 initiatives which the party must implement, he added.

Ready for battle: Liow, MCA deputy
president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and other senior party leaders at
the launch of the manifesto at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur. — SAM THAM/The
Star

“This also needs the support of the Government, including allocations for execution.

“The MCA’s performance in this election will have a direct impact on the party’s efforts to help the people,” Liow said when launching the manifesto at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

On GE14, Liow said voters aged between 21 and 35 made up 45% of total voters.

“The youth play an important role in the country’s economic development and democracy,” he said when outlining the manifesto, which focuses on steps to help the people, especially youth, to progress.

Full turnout: MCA members listening to
Liow’s presentation of the manifesto for GE14 during the launch at the
Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur.

 

It spans education, training, jobs, business and investment opportunities.

Saying that the MCA’s political struggle is for the long haul, Liow assured the people that the party would not make empty promises to fish for votes.

On that note, Liow said it was important to not only address current issues but also to create favourable conditions for the Chinese community’s youth to face new challenges.

“There will be major changes in the global economy, labour market and business.

“The digital revolution will not only encourage the growth of a new economy but also change the lifestyle of future generations.

“The youth of today will dominate in this major change,” he said.

Saying that education is the foundation of every nation, he pointed out that the 69-year-old MCA’s role in the sector has evolved to meet changing times, from pre-school to primary school, vocational training to tertiary education.

Liow and MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (left) with the manifesto booklet.

Singling out the party’s 16-year-old Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), which is ranked second in Malaysia after Universiti Malaya by Times Higher Education, he said it is in the process of setting up its teaching hospital in Kampar, Perak.

“UTAR Hospital is set to be a premier healthcare institution that combines modern and complementary medicine like traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda,” he said of the party’s promise to provide accessible and quality healthcare to the rakyat.

In confronting global competition and pressure from the rising cost of living, Liow said MCA promises to open up more economic opportunities, including setting up Kojadi Co-operative Bank with branches in various states to provide financing for young entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises.

“Times have changed. While we face more challenges, we also encounter more development opportunities,” he said of how the party consistently works hard to help the community brave the changing times.

On the country’s 465 new villages set up by the British colonial government with MCA’s help during the Emergency (1948-1960) to cut contacts between the Chinese community and communists of the era, Liow said those “barbed-wire” settlements have evolved over the decades.

He said MCA has drawn up plans for a digital revolution in these villages to rejuvenate them.

 

Sources: The Star, by foong pek yee, tho xin yi, and royce tan

Trapped in US-China trade war when 2 elephantine economices fight …


Tit for tat: The trade scuffle between US and China threatened to escalate to a full-scale war when Beijing fired back with punitive taxes on a wide range of US goods entering China – Reuters

The dispute between the two countries is real and has escalated. Malaysia is feeling the heat, but its palm oil sector is set to shine in this conflict.

THE US-China trade war drummed up by Washington last month threatened to escalate to a fullscale confrontation when Beijing fired back last week with punitive taxes on a wide range of US goods entering China.

And Malaysia, being an open economy with huge exports to China and the United States, is feeling the heat of the tit-for-tat measures rolled out by the two largest economies in the world.

President Donald Trump has given several reasons to act against China. A key reason is trade imbalance and US large trade deficit, which he attributed to China.

In 2017, China exported US$505bil (RM1.95 trillion) in goods to the United States, which in turn exported US$135bil (RM522.4bil) in goods to China.

The Trump administration has also alleged that China sought to misappropriate US intellectual property through joint venture requirements, unfair technology licensing rules, purchases of US technology firms with state funding and outright theft.

Last month, Trump slapped Beijing with punishing tariffs on the import of steel and aluminium products, and warned that there would be higher taxes on about 1,300 Chinese products worth US$50bil (RM193.5bil).

China, which has often stated that it does not want a trade war as it would hurt all, retaliated last Monday by imposing additional duties of 15% to 25% on 128 US products worth up to US$3bil (RM11.6bil). Pork, recycled aluminium, steel pipes, wine and fruits are on the list.

After being criticised by its own elites that it was too soft in its retaliation, China’s State Council announced on Wednesday that it planned to impose additional tariffs of 25% on 106 US products into the country, including soybeans, aircraft and cars. The import value of the goods on the list in 2017 was US$50bil.

Beijing’s Wednesday response came soon after the US Trade Representative Office released details of 1,333 Chinese imports worth about US$50bil that it planned to hit with 25% tariffs, with emphasis on industrial and hi-tech goods.

Global Times, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said in an editorial on Wednesday before its State Council’s statement: “China’s countermeasures should deal a heavy blow, hitting what the United States fears most. We strongly recommend starting with US soybeans and corn products. The ruling GOP will pay a huge price.”

It noted that nervous US soybean farmers, who were big supporters of Trump during the presidential campaign in 2016, had run advertisements to oppose launching a trade war against China.

China’s former finance minister Lou Jiwei reportedly said at a recent forum: “If I were in the government, I would hit soybeans first, and then cars and planes.”

By imposing punishing tariffs on US soybeans, Beijing will hurt US major farmers, given that China was the second largest importer of US agricultural products last year, buying US$19.6bil (RM73.5bil) of goods with 63% spent on soybeans.

As reducing US soybean imports would leave a shortfall for Chinese edible oil consumption and animal feed, this would need to be filled by imports from other countries. One source could be palm oil from Malaysia.

“Malaysia’s palm oil growers would stand to enjoy a windfall gain if China reduces the intake of soybeans from the United States, though our competitors like Indonesia also hope to sell more to China,” says economist Lee Heng Guie, executive director of SocioEconomic Research Centre (SERC).

In fact, the futures contracts of Malaysian crude palm oil (CPO) rose on Wednesday after China’s announcement. The positive impact on CPO prices continued on Thursday.

However, the local stock market – like other markets in the region – plummeted, as many investors believed more tit-for-tat measures covering more industries would be unveiled in this spat. The FBM KLCI lost 1.88% to close at its nineweek low of 1,815.94 points.

The local stock market has been weakening due to fear of this trade war. The technology stocks are particularly jittery as the US tariffs are seen as targeting mainly the Chinese electrical and electronic (E&E) and machinery sectors.

“In our view, the sectors that could be affected by the US-China trade war due to recently proposed import tariffs are semiconductors, building materials and ports in Malaysia,” said CIMB Research in a report on Thursday.

As Malaysia exports many E&E products and parts to China, local players within this supply chain are likely to feel the heat.

“We estimate Malaysia’s ultimate exposure to the United States – including via intermediate goods to China for assembly into final products destined for the United States – at 10% of GDP, about half of which is in electronics products,” Nomura Research says, adding that another 8% is exposed to China’s final demand.

While exports to China account for 13.5% of total annual exports of Malaysia, exports to the United

States make up 9.5%. And E&E products form the biggest export item to both countries.

Nomura sees US trade protectionism and a sharper-than-expected slowdown in China as posing risks to the Malaysian economy, as exports account for 71% of its GDP.

This trade conflict has been listed by Moody’s as a global risk this year.

Consultancy Oxford Economics says the escalation of the trade war could knock 0.5% off global growth in 2019.

Although earlier this year many analysts and business groups in the United States had warned that Washington would not win in this trade war, Trump charged ahead nevertheless.

The modern and economically mighty China, under President Xi Jinping, will punch back decisively and swiftly, many have warned.

The pain points of China are not easy to find. Over a decade ago, Beijing had realised it could not rely on the low value-adding export processing industries.

The country is now focusing on developing its high-technology sector and expanding the domestic consumer market to cut down on reliance on exports.

With so many odds against America, why would Trump insist on taking on China?

According to an analysis by Hong Kong-based International Chinese Newsweekly, the rise of American nationalism and Trump’s gearing up for the mid-term elections is the key reason for the president’s plunge into a trade war.

His focus is on midterm elections and keeping a Republican majority in Senate and Congress. But he will have to deal with the possible backlash from the first round of USChina trade war once it goes full on.

Apart from the soybean sector, the United States’ aircraft and automobile sectors will be hit.

According to South China Morning Post, Boeing Corporation delivered 202 planes to China in 2017, or 26% of its global total. The company has projected that in the next 20 years, China will need 7,240 new planes valued at about US$1.1 trillion (RM4.26 trillion).

On the auto sector, the United States sold more than US$10bil (RM38.7bil) worth of vehicles to China. Last year, General Motors sold 3.9 million cars to China, or almost 39% of its global total. The company expects sales in China to grow to five million by 2020.

The Hong Kong newspaper also warned that if China discourages its nationals from visiting the United States, the impact on US tourism will be painful.

In 2016, three million Chinese visitors and students spent US$33bil (RM127.7bil) while in the United States. The US Department of Commerce expects Chinese visitors rise to 5.7 million by 2021.

The other weapon China could weild against Washington is off-loading its US treasury bonds. This will have an impact on the dollar and US interest rate.

Bejing’s holding of US treasury bonds was close to US$1.2 trillion (RM4.6 trillion) at end-2017.

How long the current trade tension will last is anybody’s guess, given Trump’s unpredictable character. The world still remembers that he showered Xi with praises before turning his back on China.

But one thing is certain: if US protectionism and the trade war escalates, it will hurt not only the two major economies, but also countries which have trade links with the two powers.

“The global repercussions will be highly disruptive and damaging on trade and economy if the US-China trade war deepens and impacts more products and countries. In such widespread trade conflicts, Malaysia’s trade will be significantly dampened,” says Lee from SERC.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star


When 2 elephantine economies fight

Upping the stakes: Trump has ordered his
administration to consider imposing tariffs on an additional US100bil of
Chinese imports. Chinese President Xi Jinping had earlier hit back with
US50bil worth of tariffs on US imports.

Will Malaysia be caught in the middle?

The trade war between the world’s two largest economies is not showing any sign of stopping just yet.

US president Donald Trump initiated the trade confrontation by announcing additional 25% tariffs on Chinese imports worth US$50bil, citing China’s unfair trade advantage. In retaliation, China initially announced higher tariffs on US$3bil imports from the US, but later raised it to US$50bil.

Now, Trump has ordered his administration to consider imposing tariffs on an additional US$100bil of Chinese imports.

While it remains to be seen whether these tit-for-tat announcements will materialise or eventually fizzle out, economists and fund managers generally agree that the US-China trade fight will affect Malaysia’s local industries and several stocks on Bursa Malaysia.

However, they differ on the extent of the impct from the escalating trade war.

In an email interview with StarBizWeek, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute research and business development director Lau Zheng Zhou says that Malaysia will be hit with losses in trade opportunities, as both the US and China constitute 25% of Malaysia’s total trade.

He points out that investors may adopt a “wait-and-see” approach, which could cause certain sectors to slow down and hence disrupt manufacturers’ resource planning and projection.

“As opposed to exporting finished goods, Malaysian exports have footprints along an extensive supply chains across sectors in Asia such as automobiles, electronics, oil and gas, and machinery.

“With heavy tariffs being imposed by the US, Malaysian firms will be slapped with rising input costs and therefore falling demand for their value-added component products.

“Our logistics sector may also be affected if global trade slows down.

“But China’s tariffs imposed on the US may not directly impact Malaysia as it is strategically designed to cause damage to the US agricultural producers,” he says.

On the other hand, Malayan Banking Bhd group chief economist Suhaimi Ilias indicates that the potential impact from the US-China trade spat is small, or only 0.3% of total trade value, at this juncture

However, greater risks could arise if the additional tariffs spill into services trade and investment.

“In any case, US tariffs on solar panels, steel and aluminum will have some impact on Malaysia but we understand that the International Trade and Industry Ministry is seeking exemptions for these since Malaysia is in talk with the US on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as an alternative following the US pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Meanwhile, China’s tariffs on US products may result in some trade diversions or substitutions that may result in increase demand for Malaysian products from China, and one potential area is chemical or petrochemical products which is a major industry and export for Malaysia,” states Suhaimi.

Currently, the Trump administration has proposed a long list of 1,333 items, which would see the imposition of an additional 25% tariff.

These items include robotics, aircraft seats, machine parts, semiconductors, communication satellites and television components, among others.

It is worth noting that there will be 60 days of public review before the tariffs take effect. Observers believe both China and the US will re-negotiate their trade terms during this period in order to prevent a full-fledged trade war.

More items affected

In the event of the US government imposing tariffs on the additional US$100bil worth of Chinese imports as per Trump’s suggestion, more items will be affected.

China, on its part, has announced that it will slap a similar 25% additional tariff on 106 products from the US, which include soybean, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft.

According to Lau, China’s tariffs are well-targeted to hurt rural, agriculture-dependent communities who were big supporters of Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Many companies in Malaysia have been involved in the export of raw materials and intermediate goods to China and the US, which are later re-packaged or used in the production of other finished goods.

These finished goods, in turn, are exported by both China and the US to one another as well as to other countries.

Indirectly, the Sino-US trade spat will affect these exporting companies from Malaysia.

Suhaimi calls for accommodative monetary policy and the implementations of major investment and infrastructure projects to buttress Malaysia’s economic activities, if the trade dispute continues to worsen.


Fund managers’ take

Fortress Capital chief executive officer Thomas Yong says that the Malaysian semiconductor sector will be most negatively affected due to the trade spat.

“This is because most semiconductor companies in Malaysia export intermediate semi-conductor components to end-product manufactures in the US, and a tariff on these end-products could indirectly lower the demand from these component players,” he says.

He cautions investors to monitor the ongoing trade war between the US and China closely.

“If the tariffs are implemented, the impact will be very detrimental to the ongoing global growth recovery.

“A trade war will negatively affect stock valuations all around the world,” he says.

Similar to Yong’s perspective, Areca Capital chief executive officer Danny Wong also reckons that export-based Malaysian businesses in the electrical and electronics domain could be affected, especially if their exposure to both China and the US is significantly large.

However, both fund managers believe that the Sino-US trade spat may not be entirely bad for companies in Malaysia.

Wong tells StarBizWeek that the US’ Federal Reserve (Fed) may take necessary actions to remedy any unwarranted implications to the economy.

“If the trade war continues to prolong and ultimately weigh down global growth and trade, it could affect the Fed’s future actions.

“Hence, there is a likelihood for the Fed to put the expected interest rate hikes on hold.

“In the event of such decision, dividend stocks in Bursa Malaysia will definitely benefit.

“On top of that, the real estate investment trust (REIT) stocks will also benefit from the situation, as Reits thrive in the low interest rate environment,” he says.

Meanwhile, Fortress Capital’s Yong adds that stocks related to palm oil production may also benefit from the trade spat.

“Since crude palm oil (CPO) is a substitute for soybean oil, the Chinese tariff on American soybeans can potentially allow China to substitute to CPO to meet their vegetable oil consumption needs, in turn supporting the demand and prices for CPO.

“As Malaysia and Indonesia both account for more than 80% of global palm oil supply, oil plantation companies from these two countries could potentially benefit from the much needed price boost amid the current soft CPO price.

“However, it remains uncertain if China will substitute all of the current soybean oil consumption to CPO, as there are quite a number of other vegetable oils available in the market,” he says.

Earlier, StarBiz reported that the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) believes Malaysia may see an increased amount of foreign investments, particularly from the US, if the brewing trade war between the US and China escalates further.

Businesses from the US and other countries could make Malaysia an alternative regional production hub for several goods instead of China, to avoid the additional tariffs imposed by the US on products imported from China.

The additional 25% tariff levied on the imports from China would likely make Chinese goods pricier. Under such circumstances, global manufacturers may opt to establish their operations in Malaysia or outsource their production to a domestic company.

Commenting on whether the Sino-US trade war will place Malaysia as an alternative to China in the eyes of investors, Lau says it is not reasonable for investors to do so.

“However, the trade spat may rather increase foreign direct investments, especially from China, in industries with heavy use of steel and aluminium or value-added manufacturing of innovative consumer products.

“This can avoid a ban, restrictions or high tariffs on products which are associated with China,” he says.

By Ganeshwaran Kana The Star

 

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All ears for Xi’s crucial speech at Boao Forum, East Asia News & Top …

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Lost cause: An employee arranging imported American apples for sale at a grocery store in Beijing, President Donald Trump says the US lost a trade war with China ‘years ago’. In a tweet Wednesday after China announced a list of US products that might be subject to a 25 tariff, Trump said: ‘We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the US.’ — Bloomberg
Trade war – more of letting off hot air so far – Business News

China to fight back US trade tariffs ‘at any cost’ – Business New

China vows to fight US ‘at any cost’ after Donald Trump threatens $100B ..

 China’s import tariff on US soybean can support CPO prices – Business News

 

 

Sign of good faith: Mustapa receiving the Amcham survey report from Wong (right) and Das at the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce Summit.US-China trade spat good for Malaysia – Business News

US tariff to have little impact on global economy

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Kim Jong-un says he is ‘committed to Korean denuclearisation’ in Beijing talks



North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has promised President Xi Jinping that he will follow through the wishes of his father and grandfather in denuclearising the Korean peninsula, but added he wants assurances from the United States and South Korea.

The leader of the reclusive state made the remarks during a trip to China, his first overseas visit since he became North Korea’s leader, according to the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Kim, the third generation of his family to lead his country, said the situation on the Korean peninsula was improving and that his government has taken steps to ease tensions, Xinhua reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leaves Beijing after surprise visit >>

Kim added that if the US and South Korea were willing to respond to North Korea’s efforts with sincerity the nuclear issue “can be solved”.

“Our unswerving stance is that we will make efforts towards the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” Kim was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

President Xi pledged to work with North Korea to achieve denuclearisation.

“China is willing to continue to make a constructive impact on the Korean peninsula problem,” President Xi said. He called upon all sides to solve the problem through dialogue, Xinhua reported.

Tensions have risen on Korean peninsula after North Korea has increased nuclear weapons tests.

The United Nations has enforced a series of sanctions to try to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Hopes of a breakthrough in the crisis have risen since the announcement that North and South Korea’s leaders have agreed to meet.

Beijing is North Korea’s long-standing traditional ally, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s support of UN sanctions.

Pang Zhongying, a senior fellow at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, said Kim was securing China’s support ahead of his meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled to be held by May.

“By denuclearisation, Kim actually means the whole Korean peninsula should be denuclearised and that the nuclear weapons deployed by the US in South Korea should be withdrawn,” Pang said. “Can the US really accept that request? The gesture means that the chance of a significant breakthrough between Kim and Trump may be slim.”

Kim’s visit evidence China and North Korea remain allies, analysts say  >>

Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre in China, agreed Kim was looking for support from Beijing ahead of his meetings with South Korea’s president and Trump.

”Just as Kim may have felt he had secured some leverage against Xi having independently secured summits with Trump and Moon, he’ll now feel more confident knowing where things stand with Beijing heading into those same meetings,” he said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Chinese government had briefed the Trump administration about the visit on Tuesday.

The Trump administration sees the development “as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea”, she said.

Beijing residents left in the dark during Kim Jong-un’s unexpected visit  >>

Kim arrived by train in Beijing on Monday and left the following day, with his trip to China coming just days before a planned meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and ahead of the possible summit with Trump.

Speculation about a visit by Kim to Beijing came earlier this week after a train similar to the one used by Kim’s father was seen in the Chinese capital.

Ri Sol-ju, Kim’s wife, was also part of the delegation to Beijing, Xinhua reported.

China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, Vice-President Wang Qishan and Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning also met the North Korean leader.

The green armoured train carrying the North Korean leader returned to the reclusive state at about 6am on Wednesday across a bridge connecting the two countries in Dandong, Liaoning province.

Chinese police had blocked access to the area around the bridge before the train’s arrival.

Armed police vehicles were also seen in the area.

North Korea agrees to inter-Korean talks to discuss possible April summit  >>

Access to parts of the Yalu River riverbank, which separates North Korea and Dandong, were blocked. Some police officers also stopped people from taking pictures of the bridge before the train’s arrival.

“I can only say that a situation is happening here,” a police officer at one of the blocked roads told the South China Morning Post.

About three minutes after the train passed over the bridge, police officers finally allowed pedestrians to enter the area.
As the Post visited the area in the early hours of Wednesday – before the area was cordoned off – five plainclothes police officers approached and asked staff to leave.

They did not explain why, only saying “it was not safe” to be there so late at night.

Source: South China Morning Post by Phila Siu is reporting from Dandong

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