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GEORGE TOWN - Texchem Resources Bhd will close down unprofitable Sushi King outlets in the country in 2020.
Group executive chairman Tan Sri Fumihiko Konishi told StarBz that the unprofitable outlets were mainly located in shopping malls that imposed high rentals.
"We plan to shut the one in KLCC because of the high rentals. The outlets in the rural areas are making profits because of the low rentals," he said.
There are 137 Sushi King restaurants in the country, which includes 25 outlets in Sabah and Sarawak.
According to Konishi, consumer spending at Sushi King outlets has dropped because of the economic uncertainties.
"The people prefer to eat at hawker centres where there are no sales and service tax," he said.
Konishi said the group would not plan a huge budget for its operations next year.
"We want to spend less money, stay cautious and reduce headcount through a rationalisation plan, " he said, adding that the group employed over 6,000 workers.
Konishi added that the group would also control its inventories and shorten the period of credit to control trade receivables.
"The group is still healthy as it is able to generate between RM30million and RM40million in cash annually from all its business divisions.
"We have been doing that for 26 years, " he added.
Konishi added that the group's industrial and polymer engineering divisions were hit by the US-China trade war.
"Our customers have delayed orders due to the conflict between the US and China. The food division is the only one expected to generate a small profit this year. We will allocate RM10million to expand the umber of barramundi fish farms in Myanmar, " he said.
For the nine months of the 2019 financial year ended Sept 30, the group posted a RM6million after-tax loss on the back of a RM844.5million turnover.
According to the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Q2 2019, produced in collaboration with Nielsen, recessionary sentiment in Malaysia remained high in second-quarter 2019, with 70 per cent of consumers believing that the country is currently in a recession - in line with 69 per cent in the preceding quarter.
"Among those who think the country is in a recession, more than a third (38 per cent) are optimistic about an economic recovery in the next 12 months, " the report says.
The report added that in the second quarter 2019, a vast majority of consumers (87 per cent) said that they have adjusted their spending habits to save on household expenses.
"They save by spending less on new clothes (48 per cent), trying to save on gas and electricity (44 per cent), switching to cheaper grocery brands (43 per cent), cutting down on out-of-home entertainment (42 per cent) and reducing holidays and short breaks (36 per cent), " the report added.
Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco Plc, is considering the sale of its supermarket businesses in Thailand and Malaysia.
The company is carrying out a strategic review of the businesses after receiving what it called inbound interest, according to a statement on Sunday.
The deal could value the operations at as much as US$9 billion, Dow Jones reported earlier, citing people familiar with the plan. Tesco spokesman Simon Rew declined to comment on the valuation.
"The evaluation of strategic options is at an early stage, no decisions concerning the future of Tesco Thailand or Malaysia have been taken,” the statement said, adding that the process could end without a transaction being concluded.
Tesco Thailand launched in 1998 and has 1,967 stores. The Malaysian business started in 2002 and has 74 stores. The Thai business alone could be valued at nearly US$7 billion because it includes real estate assets, Dow Jones reported. In the first half of fiscal-year 2020, the retailer’s entire Asia business produced 2.6 billion pounds (US$3.4 billion) of revenue, accounting for about 8% of total sales.
Under outgoing Chief Executive Officer Dave Lewis Tesco streamlined its domestic business with thousands of job cuts and pulled back from some international markets.
Ken Murphy, who will replace Lewis, was known for spearheading Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s push into China. Murphy will have to wrestle with a growing U.K. retail crisis exacerbated by Brexit, the shift to online shopping and competition from discounters Lidl and Aldi.
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/12/09/tesco-considers-sale-of-thai-malaysia-supermarket-businesses#hJ3pxyvcVmqSollu.99
JOHOR BARU - A fire broke out at a popular shopping mall here causing damage to a clothing store.
Johor Jaya Fire and Rescue Department operation commander Saiful Bahri Safar said they received a distress call at around 3.50am on Sunday (Dec 8).
He said the clothing store, which is located on the ground floor, suffered about 20 per cent damage due to the fire.
"When we arrived at the scene, most of the fire had been put out by the mall's sprinkler system," he said, adding that a total of 14 firemen and two fire engines were deployed to the scene.
Saiful said no one was injured during the incident and the department is still investigating the cause of the blaze.
KUALA LUMPUR - A 27-year-old customer service worker was harassed by an "ah long" imposter who went to the extent of attempting to burn his house down.
The victim, who only wished to be known as Lim, said he had initially borrowed RM1,500 (S$500) from a man claiming to be from a moneylending company while he was working in Singapore in September.
"I needed the money to cover living expenses, and I discovered his supposed moneylending company through a text messaging ad.
"I managed to pay back RM3,300 within a month and I thought the matter was settled," he told a press conference organised by MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong yesterday.
But that was the start of Lim's woes. The ah long imposter demanded further payment of RM15,000 and threatened to hurt him and his family members.
"On Oct 7, a group of men splashed petrol and set fire to my home's front gate in Jenjarom (Selangor). They recorded the incident and sent me the video via WhatsApp.
"I was terrified and transferred RM30,000 on the same day but a man known as Alex, supposedly representing the company, asked for a further RM30,000," he said.
On Oct 9, Lim found his neighbouring houses doused with red paint, an apparent attempt to smear his reputation.
"The extortion tactics included tossing a Molotov cocktail towards my home but luckily, my neighbours managed to put out the flames before they spread.
"They also threw firecrackers in front of my house on Nov 25," he said.
Lim has since lodged two police reports on the matter.
Chong said the assailants were not ah long but extortionists.
"These imposters even put a flyer in front of his home with a Singapore-registered mobile number printed on it, pressuring Lim to pay up.
"Ah long would not resort to these tactics as once a victim has paid up, it will be the end of the matter.
"These suspects instead would demand more money if the victims pay up and use drastic tactics against them," he said.
Chong urged the police to take action against the culprits as soon as possible as the assailants' actions could be classified as attempted murder and arson.
"I believe Singapore's police should also probe the matter as the syndicate is using a Singapore-registered number.
"Therefore, I have advised Lim to lodge a police report in Singapore too," he said.
KOBE: Despite its technological advancement, Japan continues to be a huge draw for foreign tourists as it provides a journey of discovery of its pristine nature and cultural resources.
Even some cities are bursting with natural beauty, with the solitary Mount Fuji – the country’s most iconic landmark – is definitely a magnificent sight to behold.
The Land of the Rising Sun is set to welcome 40 million foreign visitors for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year.
A vast influx of Muslim travellers during the Olympics from July 24 to Aug 9, 2020 is set to fuel a boom in halal and syariah-compliant foods and products, potentially a big market for Malaysian halal product producers to tap into.
These needs were asserted by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking during a trade and investment mission to Kobe which began on Nov 29 and ended today.
In his keynote address at a Seminar on Business Opportunities in Malaysia, which was organised in conjunction with the mission, Darell said halal industry is one of the most important sectors for Malaysia to explore together with Japan.
“With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020, Malaysia would like to collaborate with Japan in delivering a sustainable solution in halal matters through various angles such as logistics, data analytics, retail, certification, food distribution, and tourism for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and beyond,” he said.
He said one of the initiatives undertaken was the Export Acceleration Mission to Japan from Nov 4 to 8 by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and its trade promotion agency, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), which was joined by 21 Malaysian companies.
“The mission was one of the initiatives planned under the Digital Trade Halal Value Chain initiative launched by MITI on Aug 15 this year,” he said.
According to MATRADE chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa, the Digital Halal Trade Value Chain initiative was aimed at delivering a sustainable solution for Malaysian companies to export their products to Japan.
“The initiative is also in line with Malaysia’s aim to become a Global Halal Economy Enabler for the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” he said.
He said Japan itself has indicated its interest to source for halal products and services to cater to Muslim tourists and athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.
“There is a potential of more than 140 million meals required at the Olympics’ Athletes Village and approximately 720 million halal meals to be prepared during the event,” he said.
He said given Malaysia’s close relationship with Japan and the strong credibility of Malaysian halal products and services attributed to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) halal certification, Malaysia is in a strong position to be the main provider of halal products during the Tokyo Olympics.
Besides expounding on the halal industry, Darell also took the opportunity during the trade and investment mission to call on Japanese investors to leverage Malaysia’s push for digital transformation.
He said with various initiatives undertaken and incentives offered, Malaysia is an attractive destination for Japanese investors to expand their investment either by directly establishing a business entity in the country or through partnership with local companies.
The minister said Japanese investors could also use Malaysia as their gateway to the lucrative ASEAN market.
“With a projected annual growth rate of over 5.5 per cent, ASEAN remains as one the most dynamic regions in the world and is forecast to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050,” he said.
He said with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN is envisaged as a community that promoted equitable access to opportunities for human development and closer economic integration.
Furthermore, he said the ‘significant conclusion’ of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the recent 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok would provide a major boost for a free and fair trade through growing opportunities for ASEAN and its trading partners.
The minister, hence, called for a closer collaboration between Malaysia and Japan in exploring opportunities ahead.
“Malaysia has much to offer when it comes to business and we always appreciate the presence of Japanese companies in Malaysia.
“Let us continue to work closely together to forge a stronger cooperation and work hand-in-hand to grow and prosper together,” he added.
In 2018, Japan is Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner, while Malaysia is Japan’s 14th largest trading partner with the bilateral trade between the two economies amounted to RM134.24 billion.
For the January-September period this year, the bilateral trade between Malaysia and Japan stood at RM95.59 billion.
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Malaysians who are moderates must be bolder and speak up for mutual respect and unity to strengthen democracy in the country, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.
The deputy prime minister warned that sectarian politics was growing domestically and the national narrative was in danger of being “hijacked”.
“We should not let it be hijacked by bigots and hatemongers,” Dr Wan Azizah said at the Workshops of the World Communicate 2019 (WowComm) at Marriott Hotel here.
She said that it was useless to merely vent to each another about the negative vibes created by bigots and hatemongers, and urged Malaysians to be more proactive.
“The rakyat must speak out and define our identity and democracy. Otherwise the voice of hatred and animosity will gain momentum and become like a runaway train that will hurt us one day.
“Instead, focus on creating a narrative of togetherness, kindness and mutual respect to define us. Make this positive narrative the dominant and loudest one,” Dr Wan Azizah said.
She cited the example of South Africa’s first post-apartheid president Nelson Mandela, who called for calm and eased tensions between the black and white communities following the assassination of youth leader Chris Hani in April 1993.
“It was not easy to tell Hani’s followers to remain calm. South Africa was on the brink of civil war, and it was easy to just unleash anger at the time.
“Instead, Mandela went on TV and appealed to black and white South Africans to stand together against the men who worship war and to move forward to what is the only lasting solution for the country,” she said.
In this manner, the deputy prime minister said more Malaysians should speak out for the sake of preserving democracy, their hard-won freedom as well as their children.
Among the other topics that Dr Wan Azizah spoke on at the workshop included the need to communicate with the right conscience, communicate with others instead of merely speaking to them without listening, and to communicate for the long term and future building.
Malay Mail and Bernama are media partners of the WowComm event.
PETALING JAYA - The organisers of the recent Tattoo Malaysia Expo 2019 have taken responsibility for a semi-nude incident during the event.
In a statement yesterday, the founder of Blackout Trading, who wanted to be known only as Carlos, apologised for the "truly unintentional" incident, and said his company was taking the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again in future.
He said that while they had obtained support from the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), they had failed to provide a full disclosure on the activities that would take place during the event.
MyCEB is an agency under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.
"Our intention in organising such an international event was to promote tourism, especially in arts and culture. Tattooing is a significant art form practised worldwide, including Malaysia.
"We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the people of Malaysia who have been affected by the viralled posts regarding the event. The lack of due diligence on our end should not have happened.
"We have clearly failed to protect the interests of the public. We now only ask for forgiveness for us to set things right and fix what can be fixed. We have learnt from our mistakes," he said.
Carlos added that despite the shortcoming on its end, the company understood that it would not amount to a defence.
"We respect the decision made by the ministry and MyCEB, and will accept the consequences of our lack of disclosure. The ministry and MyCEB should not be blamed for the inconvenience caused by us.
"We, as the sole organising committee of Tattoo Malaysia Expo 2019, are truly sorry. We take full responsibility for the inconvenience caused. We vow to improve in future," said Carlos.
On Monday, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said a probe was ordered after pictures of tattooed models in various states of undress during the event went viral.
The ticketed event, which featured participants from over 35 countries, was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Nov 29 to Dec 1.
CYBERJAYA, Dec 4 — Malaysia as the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC 2020) will advance towards inclusive and sustainable trade and investment, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking.
He said this would result in the economic growth in tandem with the well- being of the people.
“Special focus will be on optimising digital economy and technology for women empowerment.
“The focus will also be on youth development, ageing population and creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurs, start-ups and social enterprises,” he said in his speech during the launching of APEC 2020 by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad here, today.
According to Darell, equal importance would also be given to innovative practices in sustainable development.
“As all these elements are critical components of an ecosystem that will contribute to shared prosperity,” he said.
Set against the theme of “Optimising Human Potential towards a Future of Shared Prosperity”, Malaysia he said, would be organising 120 APEC’s meeting of various levels and receives about 16,000 delegates from 20 member economies.
The meetings will take place in various locations including in Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from December 2019 until November 2020, he said.
Malaysia first hosted APEC leaders’ meeting in 1998 and after a lapse of 22 years again play host to APEC 2020.
Comprising 21 economies including Malaysia, APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
PETALING JAYA: Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today slammed the jail sentences and fines handed out to six people in Terengganu for skipping Friday prayers, saying it is a personal matter in which the state should not interfere.
“It is high time to reconsider the rationale of imposing a prison sentence and fine for the mere skipping of Friday prayers and similar offences,” LFL legal coordinator Zaid Malek said in a statement.
“The alleged failure to attend Friday prayers is a personal matter which the state should neither govern nor interfere in.”
The six individuals, including two teenagers, were sentenced to a month in prison and fined over RM2,000 each by the shariah court in Kuala Terengganu.
They were caught bathing at a popular picnic spot at the Sekayu waterfall in August in a case believed to be the first of its kind in Malaysia.
Zaid said while such acts might be considered improper by some in Muslim society, criminal punishment was excessive and not the way to address these issues.
He also contrasted it with a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa who said the government was reviewing the legal system with a view towards making penalties more rehabilitative than punitive.
“Islam is a religion of compassion, justice, mercy and moderation. In the spirit of these Islamic principles, we urge the minister to look into this matter and resolve it as soon as possible.”
The Bar Council has also criticised the sentence as “harsh and excessive”, with its president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor saying that justice must be tempered with mercy.
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Malaysians will finally get to hear Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s side of the story in the 2015 misappropriation of RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Najib, the country’s first-ever former prime minister to be accused of abusing his position to steal and misuse public money while in office, is expected to be called to testify as the defence’s first witness today.
Background of the defence trial
The Pekan MP whose corruption trial started on April 3 was ordered to enter his defence on November 11 after High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled the prosecution has proven prima facie, meaning there is sufficient grounds for a case against him after calling 57 witnesses in a hearing that lasted 57 days.
It is doubly significant in that for the first time in Malaysian history, a former prime minister will address the seven criminal charges against him as a witness.
The 66-year-old chose to testify under oath from the stand, which means he will be questioned not only by his own lawyers but will be subject to cross-examination by prosecutors, who will be looking very closely for any flaw in his testimony.
Since Najib has chosen to give sworn testimony, he is expected to be called first to the witness stand, in accordance with Section 181 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Section 181 of the CPC states that if any accused person elects to be called as a witness, his evidence shall be taken before that of other witnesses for the defence.
Despite the eagerness to explain himself, Najib would have to inform the court of his intentions before the beginning of proceedings if he wished to change the manner of his defence.
It is uncertain as to the number of witnesses the defence planned to call, with prosecutors also offering a total of 66 witnesses to the defence team.
The prosecution is led by Datuk V. Sithambaram while Najib is represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Najib’s seven SRC International charges
Out of the seven charges, Najib is accused of committing three counts of criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, and a separate charge of abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.
For the remaining three charges, he is accused of laundering RM42 million.
At the defence stage of the trial, the prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the court to find the accused guilty, and subsequently convict the accused as charged.
If the prosecution fails to do so, Najib who is the accused, will be acquitted and discharged.
Najib’s defence trial will run from December 3 to 4, December 9 to 12 and December 16 to 19.