Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

NST Leader: Rethinking the role of ‘kaum ibu’

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019
For example, holding English classes for the “kaum ibu” traders at Pasar Payang in Kuala Terengganu. Imagine them being conversant in English — besides helping them entrepreneurially, it’s easier for their children to pick up the language. This is good, socially and economically. NSTP/GHAZALI KORI

NO, it is not yet Mother’s Day, but now is as good a time to write about mothers or “kaum ibu” and how their roles have evolved over the years.

Since the days of yore, mothers have played a crucial role; they are the primary caregiver across all cultures, the first teacher, counsellor, family model, the emotional backbone in a family.

Mothers stayed at home and tended to the house and children, while fathers went to work.

While this still rings true in many families today, since 2000 there has been a marked increase in diversity in a household. The modern mother gets married, pursues her career first and has children at a later age. Or, has a family first, then returns to work.

Whatever the priorities are, it is always the essential primary bond within a family that has shaped a mother’s role.

Can mothers today with all the modern conveniences still play that crucial role? We live in a contemporary society with an unending litany of ills.

A society that wants a high female labour participation rate, but sometimes without the provision of necessary childcare support and other facilities, although Malaysia is not alone in this.

A 2011 study by the Social Issues Research Centre on the British household said it is “impossible to trace the changing face of motherhood and the complex social networks” in which they have grown over the years.

It is, however, “possible to plot the changing face of motherhood in more recent times, examine what has changed, and where it might be going in the future”. In the Malaysian context, it means a rethink of government policies on women.

The deputy prime minister recently said the government’s target was to have women account for 30 per cent of those in decision-making positions, especially in the private sector, by 2030.

What do women want, beyond having a family and successful career? An educated citizenry? Or, economic growth without balanced development? One thing’s for sure, we have to stop imitating the west where mothers are constantly manning the conveyor belts and the family left to fend for itself. Less copying, more originality.

Women must be educated, particularly those from the rural areas. Even the least able should have that coveted Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

For example, holding English classes for the “kaum ibu” traders at Pasar Payang in Kuala Terengganu. Imagine them being conversant in English — besides helping them entrepreneurially, it’s easier for their children to pick up the language. This is good, socially and economically.

The hope is that somewhere along the line, intellectual stimulation occurs. Mothers must be given a choice to accommodate work and caregiving.

They must be developed within the context of a family. Government policies should include this — allow mothers to work and have that peace of mind. It is all about bringing heart and soul into governance.

By NST .

Read more @

Becoming alert road users

Sunday, March 17th, 2019
Loke and Dr Maszlee (second row, middle) launch the revised road safety module for primary schools.     

Loke and Dr Maszlee (second row, middle) launch the revised road safety module for primary schools.

EVERYDAY, we lose 19 lives to road accidents.

The highest number of deaths involve youngsters aged between 16 and 25.

To reduce the rate of injuries and deaths resulting from accidents, the Transport Ministry has introduced several initiatives, one of it being the road safety module (PKJR) in primary and lower secondary schools.

“We have revised this module to make it more interactive, and amended it in terms of its learning content and graphic illustration.

“Students are taught in stages from Years One to Six, where they are introduced to traffic signals, road infrastructure, how to cross safely and other information which will help them become alert road users,” Transport Minister Anthony Loke said during the launch of the revised module for primary schools.

The PKJR has been taught in primary schools since 2007 and in lower secondary schools since 2012.

The ministry, Loke said, received an allocation in the 11th Malaysia Plan budget to review the module’s content, in line with the Primary School Standard-based Curriculum (KSSR) and Secondary School Standard-based Curriculum (KSSM).

“The module is taught in the Bahasa Melayu (BM) subject in schools.

“Almost 15,000 BM teachers in primary schools were given guidance on the module last year, and primary schools have been using this version since January this year,” he added.

“We are focusing on more courteous and thoughtful culture on the road, towards creating safer road users,” he added.

The ministry’s other efforts to raise awareness on road safety include advocacy programmes, research and stricter enforcement.

Accidents and deaths resulting from them have reached a critical and alarming stage, Loke said.

Although last year recorded a drop of 6.8% from 2017, he said socio-economically, the country loses more than RM9bil each year.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik advised students to practise three main positive road attitudes.

“Be patient, considerate and think before you act.

“What is taught in the module are laws to abide by, but these values are equally important to have,” he said.

By Sandhya Menon
Read more @

The key to sustainable development

Friday, March 15th, 2019
Malaysia has a leading role to play in the region’s effort towards sustainable urban development. – NSTP/File pic

ASIA and the Pacific’s phenomenal development has been a story of rapid urbanisation. As centres of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity, cities have drawn talent from across our region and driven economic growth which has transformed our societies.

In Southeast Asia alone, cities generate 65 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP). Yet the ongoing scale of urbanisation is a considerable challenge, one which puts huge pressure on essential public services, housing availability and the environment.

How we respond to this pressure, how we manage our urban centres and plan for their future expansion in Asia and the Pacific, is likely to decide whether recent development gains can be made sustainable. It is of fundamental importance to Malaysia as its economy powers towards high income status.

In Asean countries, 90 million more persons are expected to move to cities by 2030. Accommodating this influx sustainably will determine whether the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be achieved, and the climate targets of the Paris Climate Agreement can be met.

An effective response calls for integrated planning across all levels of government. Greater consideration needs to be given to demographic and land use trends to anticipate their impacts and minimise environmental damage. These trends should inform our investments in infrastructure but also in water, energy and transport services.

Closing the infrastructure gap in the region will alone require an additional US$200 billion of investment a year until 2030. We know local government revenues are mostly insufficient and fiscal decentralisation inadequate to respond to this need. Intelligent fiscal reforms to improve local revenues are likely to be necessary and we will need to consider how we can capture land value and use Public-Private Partnerships.

In the most disaster-prone region in the world, it is incumbent on us to reduce the risk of natural disasters to which millions of urban dwellers are exposed. By 2030, vulnerable populations living in extreme risk areas — along river banks, canals and slopes – are expected to have grown by 50 per cent since 2015 in many of region’s major cities.

Some cities, including Melaka, are participating in initiatives such as the 100 Resilient Cities, focused on community-based disaster risk reduction. Yet this effort needs to be given even greater scale if we are to achieve risk resilient cities in our region. Accelerating our multilateral cooperation and best practice sharing could make a valuable contribution to doing so.

New technologies hold great promise for more effective urban solutions. From smart grids and district energy solutions, or real-time traffic management, to waste management and water systems, smart technologies will enable our future cities to operate more effectively.

They could also make them more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. We have an opportunity to incorporate universal design standards and systems such as automated access to audio-based communications to improve accessibility to cities for persons with disabilities. We must encourage smart city developers to use standards which would give persons with diverse disabilities full access to the physical infrastructure and information others enjoy.

As we look to overcome all these challenges, the Asean Smart Cities Network designed to mobilise smart solutions throughout Southeast Asia, is a welcome development on which we must build. The implementation of this network is something the organisation I represent, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, has worked to support. Combined with the Asean’s broader Sustainable Urbanization Strategy, it is helping provide much needed resource in the region to manage urbanisation better. Twenty-six cities, including Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru are developing visions for their cities to apply technologies for smart and sustainable urban development.

The expertise being acquired is invaluable to the broader region’s effort. Malaysia has a leading role to play. At the 9th World Urban Forum Malaysia hosted last year, experts came from the world over to focus on cities for all and the New Urban Agenda. In October, the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum will be held in Penang. My hope is that this can focus minds and galvanize support for best practice to be shared and sustainable urban development to be prioritised in Asia and the Pacific.

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

Read more @

Economic reform is imperative

Friday, March 15th, 2019
Malaysia must set about to reform its economy if it wants to stay competitive in a rapidly-changing world.

OUR decelerating growth concentrates one’s attention on economic reform. Many challenges make economic reform urgent.

As Malaysia shifts to a digital economy, that is bound to create tectonic shifts in the structure of production and employment. Assembly-type operations no longer have appeal. They are low in value creation compared to that of technology development that advanced countries excel. Commodities too offer little succour for economic sustainability given their sustained price declines.

Industry 4.0 poses an existential threat to employment. It will make half of the jobs obsolete in the near future. Industry 4.0 requires high-end capabilities that 75 per cent of our workforce, with only school-leaving education, will find hard to offer.

Industrial compression is underway with manufacturing gradually losing its prominence in the economy. Manufacturing comprised 30 per cent of GDP in the mid-1990s. Now it contributes only 23 per cent. We therefore need to find new sources of growth.

In their 2017 book “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia” Terrance Gomez and others highlight the plethora of government-linked companies (GLCs). Khazanah Nasional, the government’s investment vehicle, alone has in its stable over 50 GLCs and a huge number of subsidiaries. The heavy presence of government in the economy crowds out the private sector.

When the economy has been messed up long enough by the previous government, reform is needed to ramp up economic growth so that the economy continues to be resilient in the future.

The fundamentals are good to support an economic transformation. Our 4.7 per cent growth rate surpasses that of other developed countries in this region including South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore. It even surpasses the growth rates of the US and the Eurozone.

Inflation is low, debt is modest at about half the gross domestic product or GDP, and we are running at full-employment. Our current-account balance is healthy at 2.2 per cent of GDP. At 3.7 per cent of the GDP, our budget deficit is smaller than that of the US and China.

We have weaned ourselves from an overreliance on oil-related revenues and have found new ways to generate greater revenue. The income-tax amnesty programme, and the goodwill that the government enjoys with the public, afford the government greater confidence that it will be able to generate more revenue in the future.

As for a friendly business environment, we have jumped from the 24th position in 2017 to 15th among 190 countries in the 2019 World Bank Ease-of-Doing-Business Index.

Here are five ways that the government can kick-start economic reform.

First, the government will have to chart out vividly a vision for the economy. Much like Vision 2020, the economic vision should state what the economy will look like, say, in five years. The vision must be bold and audacious. Never mind if it is too ambitious or that it is not realistic or achievable. When Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad set his Vision 2020 way back in 1991, not many thought it was achievable. But the nation believed in it. That is more important.

Second, the government should have a comprehensive long-term reform agenda replete with strategic result areas and KPIs. Quick fixes such as the elimination of the GST, and piecemeal policies on debt, budget deficit, elimination of tolls and infrastructure programmes are beneficial.

However, they would be more impactful if they are well-coordinated within a comprehensive reform agenda. And in the interest of accountability and transparency, the reform blueprint should be publicised for public debate.

Third, the government should extricate itself from being in business. Dr Mahathir has already fired the starting shot. Loss-making and non-strategic GLCs will be cut loose. Such a restructuring should restore the private sector’s rightful role as the engine of growth.

Fourth, business-related regulations should be reduced. While Malaysia has jumped nine places to the enviable 15th spot in the ease-of-doing-business ranking, Malaysia continues to underperform in the criterion of Starting a Business, ranking a dismal 122nd.

The reason? It takes 9.5 procedures and 13.5 days to register a new business in Malaysia. In contrast, it takes only 2 procedures and 1.5 days in Singapore and 3.5 procedures and 5.5 days in Brunei.

Both countries are the region’s best performers in the ease of doing business.

Fifth, as Dani Rodrick, a Harvard professor, argues, there needs to be a place for low-skilled workers in a digital economy. We cannot go against the inexorable march of technology. Displacement is therefore inevitable, but it has to be tackled. It can be done in two ways.

One is to reskill the displaced workers so that there is a better fit between skills and job requirements. Such better matches too will enhance the nation’s capabilities.

The second way is to ensure the development of low-end manufacturing, agriculture and services. Jobs in these sectors will be able to absorb low-skilled labour. This is not only socially ethical but also politically expedient.

Economic reform is imperative. China is resolute in shifting its growth model towards services while India is focused on upgrading its run-down infrastructure. Similarly, Japan through its Abenomics, an economic reform programme, seeks to bring about structural reforms to jolt the economy out of its stagnation.


Read more @

How privatisation came to be

Friday, March 15th, 2019
Many developing countries were forced to accept privatisation policies as a condition for credit or loan support from the World Bank and other international financial institutions.

PRIVATISATION has been central to the ‘neo-liberal’ counter-revolution from the 1970s against government economic interventions associated with Roosevelt and Keynes as well as post-colonial state-led economic development.

Many developing countries were forced to accept privatisation policies as a condition for credit or loan support from the World Bank and other international financial institutions, especially after the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s.

Other countries voluntarily embraced privatisation, often on the pretext of fiscal and debt constraints, in their efforts to mimic new Anglo-American criteria of economic progress.

Globally, inflation was attributed to excessive government intervention, public sector expansion and state-owned enterprise (SOE) inefficiency. It was claimed, with uneven and dubious evidence, that SOEs were inherently likely to be inefficient, corrupt, subject to abuse, and so on.

In the 1970s, the motives of many involved in the preceding public sector expansion — enabled by high commodity prices and earnings as well as low real interest rates due to easy credit, with the need to ‘recycle petro-dollars’ (invest revenues from petroleum exports) — were developmental and noble.

Regardless of their original rationale or intent, many SOEs become problematic and often inefficient. Yet, privatisation is not, and has never been a universal panacea for the myriad of problems faced by SOEs.

Only more pragmatic and appropriate approaches — recognising their origins, roles, functioning, impacts and problems — can realistically expect to address and overcome the burdens they have come to impose on many developing economies.

Privatisation usually refers to a change of ownership from public to private hands. Over recent decades, the term has been used more loosely. For example, it may only involve minority private ownership after the corporatisation of an SOE, and the sale of a minority share of its stock, or even a majority share with control remaining in state hands by various means such as the use of a ‘golden share’.

It sometimes also refers to contracting out services previously undertaken solely by the government. The definition may include cases where private enterprises are awarded licenses to participate in activities previously reserved for the public sector.

Strictly speaking, however, privatisation involves the transfer of at least a majority share of and a controlling interest in a public enterprise or SOE and its assets, or an entity (such as a government department, a statutory body or a government company) previously controlled and typically at least majority-owned by the government, either directly or indirectly.

Following the oil price shocks of the mid- and late 1970s, inflation spread through much of the world. US President Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker as Chairman of the US Federal Reserve in 1980. The US Fed sharply raised interest rates to stem inflation, which precipitated the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s in many parts of the world, especially in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.

The unexpected sovereign debt crises forced many countries to seek emergency financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), both headquartered in Washington, DC. The IMF provided emergency credit facilities requiring (price) stabilisation programmes to bring down inflation, typically blamed on ‘deficit financing’ due to ‘macroeconomic populism’.

Generally, the WB worked closely to provide medium- and long-term credit to these governments on condition that they adopted structural adjustment programmes (SAPs). The SAPs generally prescribed economic globalisation (especially of international trade and finance), national (or domestic) deregulation and privatisation.

Since then, these international financial institutions have been more powerful in relation to developing countries than ever before. Soon, privatisation became a standard requirement of SAPs. Thus, many governments of developing countries were forced to privatise by the SAPs’ loan conditions.

Many other governments voluntarily adopted such policies which became standard pillars of the emerging ‘Washington Consensus’ associated with the WB, the IMF and the US policy consensus of the 1980s. Privatisation in developing countries was preceded by the political ‘counter-revolution’ associated with the rise and election of Margaret Thatcher as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan as the President of the United States of America.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

Read more @

‘The weak must learn how to live with the strong’

Sunday, March 10th, 2019
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte watching a traditional cultural performance during the welcoming ceremony at Malacanang Palace, Manila, on Thursday. BERNAMA PIC

PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad treaded carefully in regional waters on his first official visit to the Philippines, which concluded on Friday.

A week before Dr Mahathir’s arrival on Wednesday, the multi-nation (including Malaysia, the Philippines and China) territorial dispute over the Spratlys archipelago had gained more momentum.

A daily newspaper, Philippine Star, had reported that United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week, said Washington would protect Manila if its forces were attacked in the South China Sea.

China subsequently responded by downplaying such strong words of caution. Its ambassador to the Philippines reportedly gave an assurance that China was committed to work on the Code of Conduct with Asean countries to ensure stability in the South China Sea and the rest of the region.

Such a delicate matter required delicate treatment. The 94-year- old statesman, who returned as Malaysia’s seventh prime minister last year, approached the matter with strategic restraint.

After addressing the business community at the Malaysia-Philippine business forum on Thursday, Dr Mahathir was asked about his view on the thorny issue and the role of Asean in the face of geopolitical headwinds.

“Well, China has been there for 4,000 years, (and) the Malay states have had relationships with China for a period of almost 2,000 years. That we have survived at all is a miracle. Because if the Chinese had wanted to, they would have conquered us long ago because we were so weak.”

Dr Mahathir later quoted Greek historian and Athenian general Thucydides — “the powerful will take what they want, the weak will yield what they must” — to drive his point home.

The weak, Dr Mahathir said, must learn how to live with the strong while employing  the best out of their weaknesses.

“By coming together, we strengthen ourselves. But it should not lead to confrontations. We should always keep a diplomatic level where things are settled through negotiations,  arbitrations, or the court of law.

“In yielding also, we must find instances where we can gain some advantages,” he said to thunderous applause from the audience.

For Malaysia, Dr Mahathir’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time.  As Malaysia has played a key role as third party facilitator in the Mindanao peace process that led to the formation of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao, the recently ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law that granted automomy to the people in the region has pressed a call for further assistance from its Muslim brothers.  This call was heard by Malaysia loud and clear.

In Manila during the visit, Dr Mahathir expressed Malaysia’s continued commitment to development initiatives in the Bangsamoro region. Duterte later responded by thanking him for Malaysia’s “unrelenting support”.

“Certainly, there are still many challenges ahead. But positive transformation would not continue to happen had (the) wheels not been pushed and made to run back then. And in this, the prime minister (Dr Mahathir) has been a key figure,” Duterte had said during his joint statement with Dr Mahathir at the Malacanang Palace where Dr Mahathir was given an official welcome.

The visit also reinforced the diplomatic bridges that were formed with Manila 60 years ago, with a renewed commitment to brotherhood

“(And) I believe there is no better time than now to acknowledge him as a friend, partner and brother,” Duterte said at Malacanang Palace, as reported by Philippine Star, adding that he acknowledged Dr Mahathir’s advocacy for peace, regional cooperation and adherence to international law “guided by sovereign aspirations and unfettered by external dictates”.

Dr Mahathir’s visit also signalled a future of closer cooperation between the two countries in regional security and bilateral trade, and for the newly-minted autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, an impetus for socio-eonomic growth.

Wrapping up his visit, themed, “Partners for Progress, Brothers for Peace”, Dr Mahathir told the media before his departure home on Friday that the visit was “very successful” and he regarded Duterte as “a very good host”

“We see that the future must continue with the involvement of Malaysia in the south (of the Philippines), because the people in the south look up to us as a (role) model. We can learn from each other.

By Faridul Anwar Farinordin.

Read more @

NST Leader: Future perfect

Sunday, March 10th, 2019
There is no cure for it. The best the oil producers can do is to manage it. Petronas has done well here. (Fili pic)

PETRONAS will be 45 this Aug 17. The RM55.3 billion net profit on the back of a revenue of RM251 billion for Financial Year 2018 must be considered a good birthday present.

Under US$120 (RM490) per barrel during Brent’s heyday, it surely would have been a mammoth birthday do for the Malaysian oil giant.

But those days may be gone forever. Such is the nature of the world of oil and gas. Volatility is part of the DNA of the industry

There is no cure for it. The best the oil producers can do is to manage it. Petronas has done well here.

Petronas is often compared to Indonesia’s Pertamina, from which it drew some lessons in its early days. Their paths have diverged in contrasting ways since then as our Reuters’ story depicted yesterday

In the early days of 1972 — two years before Petronas came into being — crude oil was trading at US$1.50 per barrel.

As unreal as it may seem now, low for long was a norm for crude prices then.

Soon came the Middle East War and Opec embargo, pushing prices to an unheard of US$12 per barrel. For a long time — between the late 1970s and early 1980s — crude prices were hovering around high US$20s and low US$30s, respectively.

The rest, as they say, is history. And what a history it was!

The first movers of Petronas did the right thing in establishing an oil company to call our own.

The US$27 billion Pengerang Integrated Complex is an example of what a good thing has come out of it.

Those who succeeded the first movers did well, too, by setting up the National Trust Fund in 1988 to stretch the molecule to as distant a generation as possible

Since its establishment the fund has grown to a tidy sum, though confirmation of an exact figure is hard to come by.

Unfortunately, Petronas has been the sole contributor to the trust fund since its establishment. This shouldn’t be the case

Ensuring the sustainability of the current and future generations of Malaysians isn’t just the responsibility of the national oil company.

There are a constellation of other corporate players in the Malaysian economic space, and they must step in to share the responsibility.

Relying solely on Petronas to grow the trust fund would mean jeopardising its ability to invest for its future growth.

What is more, Petronas has been dishing out to the government a total of RM971 billion in the form of dividends, royalties, taxes and duties from 1974 to 2016, according to one media report.

Asking it to do more is a sure way of killing the goose that lays the golden egg

People, too, must help fight the sustainability battle. Sustainability doesn’t mean giving up.

It means using the resources we have in such a way that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising those of the generations to come.

Read more @

Local technology to drive Malaysia’s first flying car: Minister

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s first flying car will be driven by local technology, says Minister of Entrepreneur Development Datuk Seri Redzuan Md Yusof.

He said the car’s prototype is already available and is expected to be unveiled to the public this year.

“This year is a realistic target because we have the technology. It is all about speed of implementation,” he said.

He said the car would be safe and capable of flying at low altitude at a reasonable speed. “Investment to build the prototype would be slightly over RM1 million,” he said.

Mohd Redzuan said the flying car project is a way for the government to create an environment that stimulates people to think about new technology.

“We are providing the catalyst and ecosystem to stimulate the people to think beyond what we do today,” he said.

He said the project is also to utilise the country’s capabilities in the aerospace, drone, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and automotive sector. “Malaysia has the skill set to excel in the field of aerospace, drone, UAV and the national car, and we need to use our skill set because the bottom line is we want to be a producing nation,” he said.

However, he said the project is separate from the third national car project envisioned by the Prime Minister.

On Growth Malaysia, he said the initiative is led by online to offline platform operator Fave to help offline retailers in Malaysia to go digital in terms of payments, marketing, data and financial services. “This is in line with the ministry’s mission to widen and coordinate entrepreneurial activities to be more targeted,” he said

Fave founder Joel Neoh said the initiative aims to help 100,000 restaurants across Malaysia to grow digitally by 2020.

“As the world evolves to going digital, offline businesses especially those in food and beverages and retail need to catch up and adapt to the growing shift in the behaviour of consumers or else risk being left behind,” he said.

Read more @

Redzuan: Malaysia’s first-ever flying car to be revealed this year.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysia’s first-ever flying car – driven by local technology – is expected to be unveiled this year, says Datuk Seri Redzuan Md Yusof (pic).

The Entrepreneur Development Minister said a prototype of the car already exists.

“This year is a realistic target because we have the technology. It is all about the speed of implementation,” he told reporters after launching the Growth Malaysia initiative here on Tuesday (Feb 26).

He said the car would be safe and capable of flying at low altitude at a reasonable speed.

“We are providing the catalyst and ecosystem to stimulate the people to think beyond what we do today,” he said.

He said the project is also to utilise the country’s capabilities in the aerospace, drone, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and automotive sectors.

“Malaysia has the skill set to excel in the field of aerospace, drone, UAV and the national car. We need to use our skill set because the bottom line is we want to be a producing nation,” he said.

However, he said the project is separate from the third national car project envisioned by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

On Growth Malaysia, he said the initiative is led by online to offline platform operator Fave to help Malaysian offline retailers to go digital in terms of payments, marketing, data and financial services.

Fave founder Joel Neoh said the initiative aims to help 100,000 restaurants across Malaysia to grow digitally by 2020.

Read more @

NST Leader: It is what the press says

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
Like all Malaysians, we at the New Straits Times rejoiced the birth of New Malaysia because we saw in it the promise of a free press.

IF we want vibrant journalism — and we believe that New Malaysia demands it — there must be a free press.

By vibrant journalism we mean initiating conversations on issues that affect the people. And if in the process of doing so we have to hold people in positions accountable, we must.

Attacks and threats on the press such as the one directed at Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) by the Transport Ministry would only turn serious reporting into sissy journalism. So will the demand for standard operating procedures (SOP) from the press.

We perfectly understand that press secretaries have key performance indicators that may compel them to get every piece of speech and media statement reported or televised. We understand, too, that not all press secretaries end up doing this, but some politicians may compel them so.

Let’s be very blunt: neither the minister nor the press secretary should compel the press to report an event. Because, that is as good as running the news business. And the government has no business running media entities.

To those who demand coverage, we pass on the words of the United States Supreme Court in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States: the press is there to serve the governed, not the governors.

The New Straits Times may have had a dark period in the past, but we are making a conscious effort to bring back vibrant journalism that our newspaper was known for once.

We are a newspaper that is 174 years old, and in that long history, we had a good stretch of vibrant journalism.

During our heyday, we decided what is and is not news. Now, we pledge to do this again. It must be said that our return to vibrant journalism coincided with the birth of New Malaysia.

Like all Malaysians, we at the New Straits Times rejoiced the birth of New Malaysia because we saw in it the promise of a free press. It will be a mistake to allow the promise to fade away.

The 21st-century readers are discerning ones who demand facts and analyses of matters that concern them. They need an outsider’s view. Or a critique, if you like. A free press makes this possible.

Because with free press, we can write without fear or favour. We can decide what is news and what is not. And how and when to gather it. We know a news item when we see one.

Those who are not in the business of news should not pretend to define it for us. We do, however, recognise freedom comes with responsibility.

News media entities — print and digital — must accept this responsibility.

As a first step in being responsible media entities, we must be transparent about who own us. We cannot say that we will report without fear or favour if we hide our shareholders behind a veil.

Responsibility requires a lifting of the veil. Only then our readers can judge if we are a fair press.


Read more @