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KUALA LUMPUR: A survey co-launched by the Institute of Corporate Malaysia (ICDM) has found that market and operating risks along with economic uncertainty in Asia are the top three challenges that keep directors of Malaysian boards awake at night.
The inaugural BOLD 3.0: Future- Fluent Board Leadership in Asia released today showed 21 per cent of 120 Malaysian board leaders in the survey, believed that market risk was the main factor, followed by operating risk (20 per cent) and economic uncertainty in Asia (18 per cent).
The concerns for Malaysian boards was also similar to five other regional peers, namely India, Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
The BOLD 3.0: Future- Fluent Board Leadership is a research study produced by the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL), in partnership with ICDM and other institutes of directors in Singapore, the Philippines, India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
It was launched in conjunction with the inauguration of ICDM headquarters at KL Eco City today by its chairman, who is also the former Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) chairman Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar.
According to the survey, the board of directors in Asia were mostly worried about hits that the organisation may take due to sudden changes in equity, currency, inflation and interest rates.
“They are also worried about the more-than-ever-before probability of loss due to changes in demand, costs, obsolescence and prices,” it said.
The survey also showed board leaders are worried about economic uncertainty, owing to a comparatively slower economic growth in Southeast Asia and China as well as the impact of a trade war and the general negative sentiment surrounding economic growth.
Apart from that, the survey found nine per cent of the respondents saw cybersecurity as among the major concern, while eight per cent of them concerned about the global competition as well.
“Technology remained a key concern in most boards, especially issues relating to cybersecurity, which was deemed as a risk of most concern to financial institutions,” it added.
Meanwhile, the survey also showed that Malaysian boards spent too much time on short-term policies, plan and strategy instead of the long-term ones.
It said the boards spent six per cent of their times on short-term planning, instead of three per cent.
“While for the long- term planning, the survey showed the boards spent 12 per cent of their time on that, and in fact, they should spend a longer time of 15 per cent for that,” according to the survey.
Commenting on that, ICDM president and chief executive officer Michele Kythe Lim said many listed companies in the country were too focused on short-term issues such as the quarterly financial results.
Lim hopes the survey create greater awareness for the companies to focus more on other things such as technology disruption.
“A lot of time the disruption is coming in and you don’t see it, because you just focus on your short term quarterly results, managing financial and risks, and you don’t see other things that are impacting the company such as technology disruption, or corruption within your company,” she said.
Hence, she hopes the survey would form a basis to evaluate the board and align their capabilities to promote effective leadership.
Meanwhile, CCL managing director and vice-president for Asia Pacific Elisa Malis said the survey showed eight per cent of Malaysian boards do not have any evaluation process.
The finding was far better than some countries which saw more than 40 per cent of their boards do not have any types of the evaluation process, according to her.
However, she said only four per cent of the local boards have individual evaluation by external consultant.
“This is what we want to see the improvement in the next step, as when it comes to (corporate) governance scandals, having external evaluation really helps the board located itself more critically and uncover its blind spots,” she said.
KOTA BHARU, Kelantan: Worsening floods in Kelantan and Kuala Terengganu have claimed its first victim - a seven-year-old boy - as the number of evacuees increased drastically overnight.
The body of Mohammad Ilham Hasmadi was found in a flooded padi field in Kelantan's Pasir Puteh on Monday (Dec 2).
He had reportedly followed his uncle to an irrigation canal in Felcra Teratak Batu on Sunday evening to fish, when he slipped from a plank bridge and fell into the swollen canal.
Kelantan police chief Hasanuddin Hassan said members of the search and rescue team found Mohammad Ilham’s body on Monday morning, about 400m from where he was believed to have slipped into the canal.
RED ALERT WEATHER WARNINGS
Red alert weather warnings were issued on Sunday for seven districts in Kelantan, including its capital Kota Bharu, as well as two districts in Terengganu, by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia).
A red alert is issued when rainfall is forecast to exceed of 240mm of per day.
As at 7am on Monday, the number of flood victims in Kelantan rose to 5,636, more than doubling from Sunday night.
In Terengganu, as at 8am on Monday, the number of people seeking shelter at flood relief centres increased from 2,387 people (650 families) on Sunday night, to 5,807 people (1,719 families).
A total of 55 relief centres in Terengganu were opened early on Monday to accommodate the new evacuees, bringing to 121 the number of flood evacuation centres opened since floods hit the state.
FORCED TO SEEK SHELTER IN CARS AND BUDGET HOTELS
Victims whose homes were flooded in Terengganu following heavy rain on Saturday night were forced to seek shelter in cars and budget hotels while awaiting evacuation to relief centres on Sunday.
“When the floodwaters entered the house, I made the decision to take the kids out of the house and stay at the budget hotel temporarily because I didn’t know where was the nearest relief centre and we just moved to one this morning," said Normadiah Mat Jusoh, 45, who brought her seven children, aged between five and 21, to stay at a nearby budget hotel after the floodwaters entered their house.
“Not only me, many of my neighbours also stayed at budget hotels and some stayed in their cars before going to the relief centre this morning.”
According to Terengganu Malaysian Civil Defence Force director Lieutenant Colonel Che Adam A Rahman, the district of Besut is the worst affected, with 1,787 evacuees (484 families) at 45 relief centres.
In Hulu Terengganu alone, 18 new centres were opened on Monday to accommodate 1,751 evacuees, said Mr Che Adam. This brings the total number of flood relief centres in the Hulu Terengganu district to 33.
“Setiu also recorded an increase in the number of flood evacuees, from only 296 people (94 families) at 15 relief centres last night, to 1,691 people (523 families) at 28 relief centres today," he said.
Several villagers in Kampung Nyatoh, Setiu, told Bernama that they had spent tens of thousands of ringgit in a bid to beat the frequent flooding by raising their houses up to two metres high, but to no avail.
“I thought after spending RM30,000 to lift the house, I don’t have to move anymore, but the floodwaters still entered the house and I still need to move to the relief centre," said Mariam Sulong, 63.
“After the severe floods in 2013, I have to get ready and place my belongings at higher and safer places."
STRANDED MALAYSIAN TOURISTS
About 30 Malaysian tourists were stranded in Kampung Pasir Dula, Kuala Berang, as severe floods up to a metre high in several areas in the Hulu Terengganu district cut off access to the main road.
The group, comprising five families, took refuge at a mosque in the area.
Shaarani Ismail, 40, who was on holiday with his wife and four children, said the family had long been looking forward to the trip to the East Coast.
"I worked in Terengganu 10 years ago before moving to Perak. So, with the holiday, I also thought it would be a good opportunity to visit the former caregivers of our children,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Shaarani said he was relieved when the Village Community Management Council (MPKK) helped the family seek shelter at one of the villager's homes.
Kampung Pasir Dula MPKK chairman Mohd Azmi Ton Busu, 48, said all the tourists, who were from Perak and Penang, had been placed in villagers' homes while waiting for the floods to recede.
“Hopefully they can continue their journey to Kuala Terengganu tomorrow,” he said.
According to the Drainage and Irrigation Department’s website, five rivers in three districts in recorded readings above the danger level at 7am on Monday.
In Pahang, the flood situation remains the same with three people still at a relief centre in Rompin.
Singaporeans can now use their Nets ATM cards to make payments in Malaysia at more than 7,400 points across tourist and retail hot spots in Johor Baru, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
Likewise, Malaysia's PayNet MyDebit ATM cards can be used at about 500 spots in Singapore.
Nets and its Malaysian counterpart, PayNet, launched their cross-border payments service yesterday. They had embarked on a pilot last November, which saw an initial 4,500 points in Johor Baru accepting Nets payments.
Nets said yesterday that the use of these cards in Malaysia will not incur any currency conversion fees, and card holders will enjoy competitive exchange rates.
The e-payments provider has not made available a list of all the locations in Malaysia where Singaporeans can use their Nets cards, but said many of these shops can be found in popular shopping malls such as Sunway Pyramid in KL and Mahkota Parade in Melaka. Over 100 shops in JB City Square mall, where Nets held its launch event yesterday, accept Nets payments.
As they would in Singapore, consumers with Nets-enabled cards issued by Singapore banks - DBS/ POSB, OCBC and United Overseas Bank - will need to key in their personal identification number to make payments.
In Singapore, PayNet MyDebit ATM cards can be used at merchants in Bugis Village as well as selected iStudio, Pandora, SaladStop! and Awfully Chocolate outlets.
Nets group chief executive officer Jeffrey Goh said the tie-up is part of the drive for cashless cross-border payments in the Asean region.
"Singapore and Malaysia are the closest geographically and there are so many people going across the Causeway every day in both directions, so this was a logical starting point," he said.
Asean finance ministers and central bank governors had announced a framework to guide cross-border retail payments at a multilateral summit in April.
Nets' plan is to increase its number of merchants in Malaysia to 10,000 by early next year, and to 50,000 by mid-2021. Its payment mode is accepted at over 102,000 points in Singapore.
Mr Goh said the Nets cross-border payments service would afford greater convenience to a larger segment of Singaporeans, as "almost everyone in Singapore has a Nets card, while that might not be true for credit cards".
Singaporeans could be using their Nets cards in Thailand as early as next year too, with a cross-border tie-up in the works for cashless payments using QR codes.
The next stop for Nets is likely to be Indonesia, with the firm eventually looking to cement partnerships with more countries in the Asean market, Mr Goh said.
Entrepreneur Andrea Lim, 27, goes to Malaysia about once a month for weekend trips.
She said she pays with cash most of the time, as she does not frequent places like malls where cashless payment options are offered.
"But using Nets could be helpful for making higher value purchases, especially if the exchange rates are significantly better," she added.
"But I would need to test it out for myself before I am convinced."
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Malaysia is one of two Southeast Asian countries that discriminate by gender in their citizenship laws, The Economist said in a report today.
While the constitution guarantees that Malaysian fathers can pass their nationality to children, even to those born abroad, mothers must apply for the same via a process that could leave foreign-born children in limbo for years.
“Malaysia is one of 25 countries that restricts their women from conferring their nationality to their children, and is one of roughly 50 that limit them from passing it to foreign spouses.
“Still more unusually, Malaysia discriminates against some fathers, too—it is one of three countries that prevent men from passing citizenship on to their children born outside marriage,” the report said.
Between 2012 and 2017, more than 15,000 children born in Malaysia to Malaysian fathers were denied citizenship.
Gender discriminatory laws are considered outdated as most countries had started to amend nationality provisions that varied according to sex some sixty years ago.
Since 2000, more than 20 countries with such laws — from Kenya and Yemen to Morocco and Zimbabwe — have reformed them.
According to the article published today, of the ten Asean countries, Malaysia and Brunei are the only two with gender discrimination in their citizenship rules, while other holdouts are mostly in Africa and the Middle East.
New York-based Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights’s Catherine Harrington said that it is xenophobia and a patriarchal mindset that has prevented the change.
Such discriminatory citizenship laws are also contributing to the number of stateless children as complications arise
On paper, Malaysia has safeguards against statelessness, but in practice “citizenship is treated as a privilege, not a birthright,” said Yayasan Chow Kit co-founder Hartini Zainudin.
The Pakatan Harapan government has promised to review laws that discriminate against women, but the political will remains uncertain.
While some like Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh have called for amendments to be made, others in the Cabinet have resisted.
The Federal Constitution also has contradictory provisions on the matter.
“One article guarantees ‘no discrimination against citizens’ on the basis of gender, but another discriminates against married women and single men over nationality,” said the article.
GEORGE TOWN, Nov 29 — The Penang Botanic Gardens must be maintained as a natural heritage park and a research and education facility instead of being turned into a commercialised tourist trap, Penang Consumers Association (CAP) said today.
CAP President Mohideen Abdul Kadir urged the state government to introduce more indigenous plants to the gardens especially those that are facing extinction and retain it as a botany research centre.
“It should not trade the beauty and tranquillity of the gardens and the welfare of the people for tourist dollars,” he said in a statement today criticising the Special Area Plan (SAP) for the Penang Botanic Gardens.
He said SAP seemed to be focused on developing the park for tourism instead of maintaining it as a natural heritage park for the recreational needs of Penangites.
“This is especially true in the case of charging an entrance fee for a public facility,” he said.
Mohideen likened this to the recent increase in assessment rates for homeowners in Penang.
He added that the state government has been “spending a lot of unnecessary monies in the name of development for the state” and is now placing the burden on ratepayers.
“The state should be more prudent and provide public facilities without charge as it has been already paid for by ratepayers,” he said.
Mohideen claimed that the SAP was gazetted with little public consultation in July this year and it was only revealed to the public this month.
He said the SAP proposed projects that will bring in a lot of visitors to the park, create more man-made structures and ultimately charge Penangites a fee to visit the gardens.
He pointed out that this will not only change the ambiance of the gardens but create more traffic congestion heading into the gardens and this will spill over to the already busy Jalan Utama and Jalan Gottlieb junction.
“A multi-storey car park to house cars will be developed when the authorities can't even provide Penangites with real affordable houses,” he said.
Mohideen said it was also against the state’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions under international treaties.
He said the proposed expansion of the gardens was to turn the road leading to the gardens into a “Malaysiana Boulevard” with pop-up kiosks and events.
“It is totally inappropriate to have a commercialised and noisy ‘pasar malam’ atmosphere at the entrance to the tranquil gardens,” he said.
He also objected against the proposal of developing a cable car station at the Botanic Gardens to connect to Penang Hill.
He said this will cause irreparable damage to the gardens and Penang Hill through the building of more hotels, bungalows for the rich and elites, cafes, amusement joints and access roads.
“For the sake of Penangites, leave the Botanic Gardens alone,” he said.
People of my generation will remember the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” not only because of its storyline but also because of the performance of Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian.
What we are witnessing today in the ranks of PKR is nothing short of a mutiny. How else can you explain the walkout by Ginie Lim and Muhammad Jailani Khamis from the Melaka state assembly at a crucial time when the appointment of its state chairman Halim Bachik as a senator was up for count? It was deliberate. It was calculated. And it was executed as planned to deny their state chief the senatorship.
We witnessed the same mutiny in Sarawak where state chief Baru Bian refused to proceed with the PKR convention in Miri which nonetheless continued without his presence or blessings. Baru made a rather weak attempt to justify why Sarawak would not proceed with the convention until the party settles the issue of the opening of the PKR Youth wing congress in December by PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali.
The icing on the cake was the manner in which Azmin and vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin have been nothing than less defiant and confrontational towards their president Anwar Ibrahim, the prime minister-in-waiting and the man who was, and still is, the flag bearer of the Reformasi movement.
As a result of this fractious and delicate relationship at the very top level, the second-liners have also become embroiled in open warfare. In all probability, it will filter down to the grassroots levels. Time will tell if this will happen, but the writing is certainly on the wall.
Who will ultimately benefit from a PKR implosion? I will not say that your guess is as good as mine. The fact is, united you stand, divided you fall. The situation at the moment is out of control and, unfortunately for PKR, they are in a catch-22 position.
To sack Lim and Jailani from PKR for walking out of the Melaka state assembly when it mattered the most could mean a backdoor entry for the Umno-led Barisan Nasional to take control of the state government by a simple majority if both elected representatives become independents. If that works for Melaka, it could also work for Perak and Kedah where Pakatan Harapan enjoys a slim majority over the opposition.
Was this a masterful stroke by someone with a shrewd mind to test the murky waters of politics? Could be. Is it written in the stars that Anwar will never be our prime minister, whether by fair or foul means? Might be.
But sadly, the people who are most affected by these ongoing shenanigans are not the politicians. It is not the top government officials or the rich and super-rich. It is the common man on the street. As long as there is no political stability, nothing will move. So while the politicians busy themselves with power plays, ordinary folk like me have nothing to look forward to and have to fend for ourselves, uncertain of what the future holds for us.
Shakespeare’s line in Julius Caesar, “Mischief, thou art afoot, take thou what course thou wilt”, could well be used to describe what is currently happening in this country.
I pray that I am dreadfully wrong about this.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Malaysians of diverse ages, races, religions and classes share a common tendency to fret, according to EMIR Research’s inaugural National Worry Index (NWI).
It put Malaysians as 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1, with greater figures indicating greater tendencies for worrying.
The firm polled 1,992 respondents of various races, creeds, income levels and educational backgrounds.
The survey found that Malaysians were most likely to worry about the economy, security, living costs and their jobs.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The federal Opposition will wholly oppose the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill when it is tabled for the second reading, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.
The federal Opposition leader claimed during a press conference at the sidelines of Parliament today that the government ignored feedback on the commission prior to the drafting of the Bill.
“It was understood that the Special Select Committee (SSC) had gone down to the states to engage stakeholders but after reading the report from the SSC and their findings, we were informed by our friends that their engagement exercise was only cosmetic and an act.
“When they met with the stakeholders, the police and the public didn’t agree with the clauses in the Bill. Even when they called in a Constitution expert, the expert didn’t agree with their views saying that it goes against some parts of the Constitution,” Ismail Sabri claimed.
However, he acknowledged the Opposition could not block the Bill as it only needed a simple majority to pass.
Ismail then urged Putrajaya to withdraw the Bill in order to allow all stakeholders to have their say.
PAS secretary-general and Kota Baru MP Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who was at the press conference, also claimed the Bill should have been tabled by the home minister and not the minister in charge of legal affairs.
“We insist that the IPCMC Bill be retracted because it is not following parliamentary rules and is against the Constitution. By right, the ministry in charge of the police is the Home Ministry. We were made to understand that the ministry is unaware about critical information in this Bill.
“We were also made to understand that the home minister had requested the government to reconsider the Bill.
“We believe that the de facto law minister has been used by NGOs through backbenchers to push their agenda using the Parliament as their platform,” said Takiyuddin.
Other Opposition lawmakers who voiced their support include Umno secretary-general and Ketereh MP Tan Sri Annuar Musa, PAS deputy president and Kubang Kerian MP Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, and GPS representative and Batang Sadong MP Datuk Nancy Shukri.
The IPCMC provides for civilian oversight of the police force and was the key recommendation of the 2005 royal commission of inquiry on the force.
The Bill was tabled for its first reading during the July meeting of Parliament but its second reading in the current meeting was delayed to allow a parliamentary select committee time to gather further feedback.
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 27): Malaysia's equity market is forecasted to get better in 2020, riding on a strengthening Chinese renminbi.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Aberdeen Standard Investments' 2020 Market Outlook, Aberdeen Standard Islamic Investments (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd CEO Gerald Ambrose said the strengthening Chinese renminbi will result in stronger capital markets in Malaysia.
"The other conclusion we had today is that the semiconductor industry has hit a floor in October, and demand for 5G and new technology for mobile phones will be so strong next year that the IT manufacturing sector in Malaysia, in particular, has some catching up to do, and the outlook [is] very bright," said Ambrose.
He added that Malaysian bonds have had a good year in 2019, as they give a return significantly above inflation.
"If you look at some other parts of the world, you are getting a negative return," Ambrose remarked.
He said the oil and gas (O&G), semiconductor, banking, insurance and takaful sectors looked "attractive" moving forward.
Ambrose further said that if there is a downturn next year, there might be a need for the government to perform an economic stimulus.
He explained that large infrastructure projects will have a knock-on effect on the economy, hopefully leading to higher disposable income.
When it comes to foreign outflow, Ambrose said foreign shareholding could not feasibly get any lower and that a pickup in the ringgit will be beneficial for foreign investors coming back in.
"If there is a pickup in the renminbi, there will be a pickup in all ASEAN currencies, which will lead to an outperformance of ASEAN markets, and we haven't seen that in a long time. So I feel quite optimistic that foreigners will feel they have missed out and will come back in," he explained.
Multinational companies are now appearing to reduce their investment exposure to China's manufacturing sector and are moving to ASEAN, said Ambrose, highlighting the aluminium, O&G and IT industries in Malaysia as good destinations within ASEAN to redirect such investments to.
"I do think it is inevitable that funds will come back to ASEAN and Malaysia," he opined.
With about a month left to Visit Malaysia 2020 (VM2020), the country is more than ready to welcome even more tourists. This year itself, Malaysia saw an influx of international visitors during the first three quarter of 2019.
Between January and September, Malaysia welcomed 20.1 million (20,109,203) international visitors, a 3.7% growth compared to the same period last year.
The first three quarters of the year also saw tourism receipts increased by 6.9% to reach RM66.14bil compared to RM61.85bil for the same period last year.
Tourism performance grew in terms of per capita expenditure, rising by 3.1% to RM3,289.3 while the average length of stay climbed by 0.1 nights to 7.4 nights.
Top 10 international tourist arrivals were from Singapore (7,868,755 tourist arrivals), Indonesia (2,792,776), China (2,413,956), Thailand (1,442,224), Brunei (929,789), India (539,167), South Korea (508,080), Vietnam (323,393), Japan (321,283) and the Philippines (317,294).
The main contributors to the tourist expenditure were from Singapore (RM16.3bil), China (RM12.8bil), Indonesia (RM8.8bil), Thailand (RM2.8bil) and India (RM2.5bil).
Malaysia aims to see 30 million international tourist arrivals next year, and bring in total tourist receipts of RM100bil.
VM2020 is the fifth edition under the Visit Malaysia tourism campaign; the first was in 1990, which was also launched by the then (and now, current) Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.