Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

VIPs cook ‘royal’ bubur lambuk

Saturday, May 25th, 2019
All together now: Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) with (second from left) Yeoh and the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rose Lena Lazemi (second from right) stirring the bubur lambuk with the centre’s residents during the visit to Darul Hanan care centre in Pongsu Seribu. — Bernama

All together now: Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) with (second from left) Yeoh and the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rose Lena Lazemi (second from right) stirring the bubur lambuk with the centre’s residents during the visit to Darul Hanan care centre in Pongsu Seribu. — Bernama

KEPALA BATAS: Folk at the Darul Hanan care centre were treated to an authentic royal recipe of bubur lambuk that few have tasted.

The recipe, which comes from the Pahang palace, was used to whip up the savoury porridge for the home’s 70 residents.

It took two large pots, each containing 10kg of rice mixed with a smorgasbord of herbs and ingredients.

“There are Spanish mackerel (tenggiri), prawns, chicken and beef in it.

Jahara said Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar was scheduled to join in but could not make it following the passing of former Sultan of Pahang, Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mu’adzam Shah.

“We decided to go ahead and not disappoint the folk here,” Jahara said, adding that the Pahang palace supplied the recipe.

Among those who helped keep the delicious preparation stirring for over an hour yesterday was Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She was helped by her deputy in the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Hannah Yeoh, Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and Penang Women, Family Development and Gender Inclusiveness Committee chairman Chong Eng.

Jahara hopes more visitors will drop by the centre to spend time with its 22 male and 48 female residents.

“We have physiotherapy, spa, gym, farms and gardens here, with 28 staff members. But all the resort-like facility in this quiet place is no match for human cheers and laughter, and the old folk need more company to share stories with,” she said, adding that the RM1.1mil annual expenses of the home are supported by Penang Zakat Management Centre.

After a tour of the centre, Dr Wan Azizah said the government would look into upgrading the massage chairs and help it get lawn-mowing equipment to save the cost of hiring outsiders to do the job.

By Lo Tern Chern

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Developing skilled personnel and niche tourism areas

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
A tourism management class at UiTM.

IN Malaysia tourism is big business.

Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, in a Press conference earlier this year, stated that the tourism sector contributed RM84.1 billion to the national economy last year, up by 2.4 per cent compared to RM82.2 billion the previous year.

The country registered 25.8 million tourist arrivals, placing it among the major tourism destinations of the world.

With 2020 announced as Visit Malaysia Year, the tourism industry has again taken centre stage as a national mission and a major catalyst to ensure Malaysia remains competitive. Visit Malaysia 2020 is targeted to bring in 30 million international tourists and RM100 billion in tourist receipts to the country.

Professor Marcus Lee Stephenson, dean of the School of Hospitality at Sunway University, said tourism in Malaysia is geographically, ecologically, culturally and socially diverse.

“The tourism industry in Malaysia reflects the manifold nature of the destination. The country is appealing as it is composed of more than 1,000 islands and has a variety of marine parks, and varied landscapes — both natural and built environments.

“The destination has an incredible mix of ultra-modern places to visit and traditional places too. Therefore, culture and heritage tourism products alongside the sun, sand and sea tourism products bode well for an advancing tourism industry as an all-appealing destination,” he added.

For tourism to flourish, investments in the construction of hotels and tourism resorts and in the expansion of the events industry have also seen growth. So too educational programmes in hospitality, events and tourism management, mirroring the expansion of the tourism industry.

Professor Dr Sallehuddin Zahari, dean of the Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Puncak Alam, noted that the positive development of the tourism industry in the country not only generates employment opportunities but also promisingly and continuously expands tourism study programmes at higher education institutions.

However, there are gaps between tertiary education institutions’ output and industry needs that have yet to be bridged.


To service the tourism industry not only for next year but also in the years to come, there is a need to develop adequate skilled and professional manpower that will ensure that tourism in Malaysia stays ahead.

Various universities in the country offer tourism-related programmes.

Taylor’s University, for example, offers various levels of programmes in tourism — from diploma and bachelor’s to master’s and doctoral level. Postgraduate programmes are offered through research mode and the rest are taught courses. These programmes are centred on the core field of leisure management such as tourism, travel, recreation and events management.

The university’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management executive dean Professor Dr A. R. Neethiahnanthan said Taylor’s flagship hospitality management programmes offer interesting complementary studies in hotel and restaurant management, convention management and integrated resort management.

“We receive healthy enrolments year on year especially from both international and local markets. The present enrolment is approximately 500 students annually and the school’s international students hail from 59 countries, turning our classroom into an international hub with excellent diversity for learning,” he added.

“The recent achievement of Taylor’s University rising to 14th place in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for Hospitality and Leisure Management has also created strong positioning and demand in the market,” he continued, adding that partnerships with over 500 top hospitality and tourism partners worldwide provide great opportunity for students to get the best possible learning experience on and off campus.

The School of Hospitality at Sunway University offers six programmes relating to three core areas: events and convention management, hotel and hospitality management, and culinary arts and management.

“As the industry evolves, the programmes place concerted emphasis on innovation, technical skills development and enhancement, and deep awareness of emerging trends from a global viewpoint, aligned with the changing and complex needs of the industry,” said Stephenson.

Sunway University students are able to experience world-class facilities which include a mock hotel suite and reception area, beverage laboratory, event studio, and cuisine, pastry and demo kitchens.

“The school has a partnership with Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa for internship opportunities and research collaborations. It has also established a close partnership with Le Cordon Bleu International, which certifies the school’s programmes and we organise regional and domestic field trips, as well as other relevant industry activities,” he said.

At Berjaya University College (BUC), its Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism takes the experiential learning approach.

BUC chief executive and vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Walter Wong said the Berjaya Immersion Methodology ensures that exposure to real-world industry practices and professionals is prioritised as a key learning method.

“From sessions with internationally renowned guest lecturers to participating in events and tourism-related organisations, our students are awarded the privilege to learn hands-on in exclusive environments for optimum personal development in their craft.

“We send students overseas to join competitions where they learn by doing, transform the way they think and gain the confidence to display their skills in public. This experience helps them to stand out from the crowd and be competitive in a proactive way.”

The tourism management programme at UiTM’s Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management emphasises specialised areas through its individual courses or subjects such as customer service, tour planning and design, tour guiding skills, air fares and ticketing, health and wellness tourism, heritage tourism, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions, and park and leisure management.

“In addition, some new elements such as community-based tourism, rural tourism and eco-tourism are embedded in the tourism planning course. All niche tourism areas are always given attention.”


While the manpower needs for the hospitality segment have been adequately addressed, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) feels the tour and travel management aspect is lacking as the skills needed and requirements are a bit different.

“Currently all universities and colleges provide courses with up to 80 per cent content on hospitality and the balance of 20 per cent touching on general travel. None provides the actual job skill requirement and need for the travel industry. Therefore, for the travel industry itself, it is a major challenge in getting staff,” lamented MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

MATTA has more than 3,600 members, representing over 70 per cent of total tour and travel agents licensed by MoTAC.

Over 80 per cent of MATTA members are inbound travel agents promoting domestic tour and tourism products attracting tourist arrivals to the country besides the outbound, ticketing and Bumiputera segment.

MATTA has been actively engaging its members to be proactive and creative by designing flexible and tailor-made holidays packages responding to changing travel trends and consumer demand.

Niche tourism segments that are gaining popularity include family travel, wedding and honeymoon, bird-watching, jungle and mountain trekking, food (including fruits), sports and cruise tourism.

“The tourism industry has created employment opportunities for some 3.2 million people, making up 22.7 per cent of the total employment in the nation. It is robust and the demand for administrative and operation workers such as in sales and marketing/reservation and operations is increasing in addition to the demand for skilled workers such as drivers and tour guides with foreign language skill,” said Tan.

“None of the higher education institutions has a specific course that caters to the travel industry. That is why graduates who enter the travel industry have to start from zero. That is also the reason why they are not keen to join the travel industry — they have to start from the bottom,” he explained.

Tan said education is critical to encourage individuals to choose the travel industry as a career.

“Education institutions must work hand in hand with tourism industry stakeholders such as MATTA to provide skilled manpower to serve the tourism industry sector and its development.

“They should concentrate on key travel industry job scopes such as marketing to promote Malaysia as a destination. Emphasise language and communication covering writing and speaking skills including multiple spoken languages, and knowledge on computer/central reservation systems such as Amadeus, Galileo and Sabre.”


For the tourism industry to progress further, higher education institutions are cognisant of the need for further collaboration with the industry to provide the manpower as well as knowledge and know-how required to grow specific niche areas in tourism.

UiTM’s Department of Tourism Management is taking initiatives to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones with tourism industry players.

It is collaborating with organisations such as the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Malaysia Chapter, MoTAC, Asia Pacific Institute for Event Management, and Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau.

“We strongly believe that a strong relationship between the industry and institutions should always be fostered to ensure educators are maximising the benefits for both students and industry in the educational process. Failure to develop such a commonality of approach may lead to meaningless effort even though the country has wonderful tourism products,” said Salehuddin.

BUC, meanwhile, has been appointed as Cluster Leader for Events Management by the Malaysian Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Education, a national initiative formed under the government’s Economic Transformation Programme to improve the quality and quantity of tourism and hospitality professions in the country.

“Berjaya UC is committed to develop and deliver high quality tourism and events management education to serve the needs of the industry, thus improving the nation’s status as an international tourism destination,” said Wong.

BUC’s Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism has also established the Asia Pacific Centre for Events Management with the aim of providing events management research and programmes to advance the events industry in Asia Pacific.

By Rozana Sani.

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Govt rolls out Debt Management Office to oversee debt and liabilities

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
(File pic) Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the strategies and plans which were formulated by the DMO would be presented to the Fiscal Policy Committee chaired by the prime minister. (NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR)

PUTRAJAYA: The government has set up the Debt Management Office (DMO) effective immediately to roll out strategies in efforts to reduce Malaysia’s financial burden and put the plan into action.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the strategies and plans which were formulated by the DMO would be presented to the Fiscal Policy Committee chaired by the prime minister.

As announced on Nov 2 last year during the 2019 Budget speech, the DMO would be set up to review and manage the government’s debt and liabilities.

“The office will oversee the issuance and propose the structure of debt belonging to the federal government, all statutory bodies and the government’s special purpose vehicles (SPV) in a holistic manner.

“The Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration intends to cut the incidences of having expensive and irresponsible debt servicing payments arising from weaknesses in debt issuance coordination,” Lim said in a statement.

The establishment of the DMO, he added, was an effort by the administration to overcome and resolve the problem of hidden government debt and liabilities, which had grown in excess of RM1 trillion in 2017.

“The office is among the institutional reforms carried out to strengthen the government’s fiscal position that is closely monitored by international credit rating agencies.”

Lim said the DMO would perform the following duties:

* schedule bond issuance and overall borrowings by the Government, statutory bodies and government-owned companies in an orderly fashion to attain the cheapest interest rates and coupon payments;

* restructure the relevant bonds and borrowings where possible to save finance costs by reducing debt repayments; and,

* formulate strategies to reduce the government’s debt and liability burden.

Lim said the DMO was designed to keep government debt and liabilities in check by preventing it from growing out of control, while ensuring that reckless borrowing made without valid reasons would no longer occur.

He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had given his nod to the setting up of the office, which would be chaired by the finance minister.

The DMO will comprise:

* Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar;

* Treasury secretary-general Datuk Ahmad Badri Mohd Zahir;

* Economic Affairs Ministry secretary-general Datuk Saiful Anuar Lebai Hussen;

* Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus;

* Securities Commission executive chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar;

* Permodalan Nasional Bhd Group chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz;

* Accountant-General Datuk Saat Esa;

By Azura Abas.

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365 days later

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

THERE is a French saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It is attributed to Alphonse Karr.

As I recall the events that have transformed Malaysia’s political landscape over the past year, it would have been unthinkable 366 days before. Who would have thought that a former Prime Minister would be in and out of courts or that the Finance Minister would be Lim Guan Eng?

A year ago, Malaysians rallied around the palace along Jalan Duta to ensure Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as the seventh PM of Malaysia.

I still vividly recall my personal experience in the 14th General Election (GE14), especially after the results, were pronounced in Teluk Intan. I was the campaign manager for Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, the Barisan Nasional candidate. He was defeated by Nga Kor Ming of Pakatan Harapan.

I chose to leave Teluk Intan that night itself after being there for over a month. All I could think about was sleeping in my own bed. There was too much to digest and fathom; most of us were in shock because, by the time I left Teluk Intan around 9.30pm, we knew Barisan would likely lose the government.

I texted my girlfriend to tell her that I was jobless. I then called my best friend and told him the news and he proposed we have a drink. I told myself I could do with a drink after a gruelling campaign.

As my close friends gathered at Taps Beer Bar in Desa Park City, everyone was glued to their smartphones. One by one, they kept shouting out the names of seats Pakatan (or PKR then) had won. Of course, they were good enough friends to not be smug about it, given my political inclinations.

Around 1 am on May 10th, 2019 it was clear that Pakatan had a majority and I told myself, I could really sleep in my own bed right now. I woke up early the next morning and my mother gave me a warm hug. A mother’s hug can make any pain feel less painful. I told them what happened, and my parents were as supportive as ever.

I kept asking them what I would do next, they said it was too soon – it was time to relax a little.

That night, as I watched Dr Mahathir take his oath of office, I could not help but feel proud of being a Malaysian. Despite being on the losing end, I was proud of my country and her people. The change of government has been seamless.

The sadness of losing also started to ebb as I told myself – Malaysia can do with a change.

I remember Nga’s GE14 campaign in Teluk Intan very well. It was predicated on three very powerful promises – no toll, no GST and a return of oil subsidies. Besides replacing GST with SST (which was not told to anyone unless they looked at the fine print of the Buku Harapan), oil prices are still the same and tolls are still there.

The 10 promises for 100 days have now been forgotten. A feeble attempt was made to return sovereignty to Sabah and Sarawak. BN project have been rebranded without any change – examples of this rebranding exercise are Automated Enforcement System (AES) to Automated Awareness Safety System (AwAS), Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to The Land Public Transport Agency (APAD), 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) to Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH), Klinik 1M to Klinik Komuniti, Federal Territories Affordable Housing Project (Rumawip) to the Residensi Wilayah and many more.

The economy is in free fall and the blame has been laid on the debt burden left by Barisan. Now, in fact, government debt has increased under Pakatan from RM687bil in June 2018 to RM739bil today. There has been no drop in prices with the introduction of SST and no one is really better off than they were a year ago.

A flurry of announcements greeted the government’s first 100 days including the formation of the Council of Eminent Persons and the Institutional Reform Committee. Their findings are still secret and there is no independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of their recommendations.

Further, repressive laws like the Sedition Act, Security Offences Special Measures Act (SOSMA), Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) are still in place despite an express promise in the Pakatan manifesto that they would be repealed.

And the repeal will not cost a single sen so it will not add to our debt burden.

In fact, the Sedition Act is still being used to investigate the very same stalwarts who defended Pakatan when it was in opposition.

As for rural Malaysia – it is hurting. The subsidies for fisherman, farmers and settlers have all been reduced or removed. The price of commodities is very low and all the Minister in charge can think of is a campaign to love palm oil, forgetting that we already do (very much in fact) and encouraging Malaysians to drink more palm oil.

There is no plan on curtailing the anti-palm oil campaign that is causing the industry much heartburn.

The quota system is still in place for matriculation and supposedly 300,000 Indians with no identity cards have not been found. New approved permits (APs) for the import of foreign vehicles have been dished out despite claims by the current government when they were in opposition that it was pure-rent seeking.

These are just a few examples.

I must say all is not bad. The MACC has worked very hard to bring those who have wronged the country to book, but the rights for all those who are standing trial must also be respected.

Also, the Minister of Multimedia and Communications has worked hard to bring down the price of broadband and the Minister of Transport has tried his best to unencumber our labyrinthine public transportation system.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge for Pakatan is the transition from opposition to government where in the past they could criticise without having to really implement anything and now that the roles are reversed, the instruction to deliver is bewildering.

Also, they have to defend the very policies they have consistently opposed because they are in government and the legitimate question on the mind of everyday folks like myself is: Were they honest when they opposed these policies?

Also, it’s disappointing that Pakatan is using the very methods and instruments of governance that they previous criticised and this includes, but not limited to, making arrogant statements, using government machinery for political purposes and using restrictive laws to prop up their government and insulate themselves from genuine inquiry.

The promise of an open government has been forgotten.

But for me, the only hero is our PM. At 93, he is putting individuals half his age to shame. He works indefatigably assuaging Malaysians that despite all the hullabaloo – the country is in good hands.

The PM has to work doubly hard to ensure his cabinet, which he rated five out of 10, can deliver on the lofty expectations of the rakyat due to the loftier promises made by Pakatan. However, not all of those in government are newbies.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs were previously chief executives of Penang and Selangor respectively. The Minister of Home Affairs was previously Deputy Prime Minister.

So, in summation, after 365 days I can say with some degree of certainty that the more things change the more they stay the same.

PH has four more years and if those four years are anything like the first year, then they are in trouble.

Lastly, I owe a debt of gratitude (that I most likely can never repay) to my fiancée, my family (especially my parents) and my friends who have been incredibly supportive and understanding over the past year.

Some have asked if I will return to active politics – my answer is a flat no.

By Ivanpal Grewal
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PM: Any good delivery system will fail without good users

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad delivers his speech during the launch of the myPortfolio system at Perdana Putra. -NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR
PUTRAJAYA: Any good system will fall apart if its users fail to use it properly, Prime Minister tells civil servants today.

He said this during the launch of myPortfolio, an enhanced desk file and work manual procedures for the public sector aimed at improving the government’s delivery system

“My advice to all civil servants, a system or any method of doing things, no matter how good it is, will not take off successfully if the users fail to use it honestly, with discipline and enthusiasm,” he said after chairing the 8th Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption (JKKMAR).

Dr Mahathir said should the government manage to further improve public delivery system, it could create an eco-system that would support heightened competitiveness at global level through various business-friendly approaches.

These positive results, he added, would benefit Malaysia and its people including providing jobs and contributing to the government coffers.

Nonetheless, the prime minister said, once Malaysia had secured global recognition and reaped benefits from better government delivery, the civil sector could not afford to stay stagnant, without doing continuous improvements to the existing system.

“An efficient delivery system will make it easy and more transparent for the people to deal with the government. The business community will need efficient, fast and accurate services so that the cost can be lowered and competitive.”

Dr Mahathir thanked the Chief Secretary to the Government and the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Unit (MAMPU) for their continuous efforts to improve the government delivery system with the latest initiative via the myPortfolio system.

ortfolio has organised and simplified the desk file and the work procedure manual into 10 components compared to 22 components previously.

Each component clearly delineates the organisational chart, functional chart, work flow and job description.

Job description is a new element introduced in myPortfolio not seen in the desk file and work procedure manual previously. It outlines the purpose of creating a particular post and the main duties and responsibilities held by the personnel holding the post.

This ingle document is able to fulfil the needs of several Human Resource Management and Human Resource Development functions including recruitment, selection, appraisal, job evaluation, training aside from restructuring and facilitating ease of planning and management of human capital in the public sector.

During the launching of Cuepacs Premier Assembly at University Putra Malaysia last March, Dr Mahathir Mohamad highlighted the importance of flow chart for civil servants to execute their task efficiently.

In line with Dr Mahathir’s demand, flow charts have been given prominence in myPortfolio.

The flow chart clearly identifies the personnel responsible for a specific task, the process involved in executing the task and the duration for each task. This flow chart also promotes better understanding of processes thus allows room for continuous improvement.

By Azura AbasHashini Kavishtri Kannan.

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Explain how STPM holders not affected by increase in matriculation intake, MCA tells Maszlee.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik must clarify his statements about how the chances of STPM holders will not be affected, following the increase of matriculation student intake in public universities, says MCA.

MCA National Youth Education Consultative Committee chairman Ng Sing Phing said Dr Maszlee’s clarification must not be delayed, as the increase in matriculation intake will bring about complications in the future.

“We urge the Education Minister to provide a straight answer without further ado, as all education policies have a monumental impact on a nation’s effort in the cultivation and development of human resources,” Ng said in a statement on Tuesday (May 14).

Ng listed out three main questions that the Education Ministry must answer.

“Does the Pakatan Harapan government plan to increase the number of public varsity intakes? If yes, are our public universities ready in terms of available manpower and facilities? If no, then surely the quality and standard of public universities will be compromised.

“Let us say what the Education Minister claims is true – that the chances of STPM holders entering local universities will not be affected under the current condition – then with no increase in public varsity spots, does it mean that the opportunities of the 15,000 new matriculation students will be sacrificed instead?” she asked.

These concerns must be addressed, she added, as the university semester is starting soon.

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Business as usual for Cabinet on Labour Day with special meeting.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): It was business as usual for the Cabinet on Labour Day (May 1), when it held a special meeting aimed at creating more job opportunities.

The official vehicles of the Cabinet ministers were seen entering the Perdana Putra compound here in stages starting at 2.45pm Wednesday.

The special meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and was scheduled to start at 3pm.

The Cabinet meeting is typically held every Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, Dr Mahathir officiated the Labour Day celebrations at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC).

According to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic), the special meeting on creating job opportunities to be coordinated by the Economic Affairs Ministry under the responsibility of its Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

He said among the issues to be discussed were efforts to create one million jobs for the people, especially the youth.

All ministries were asked to present their respective papers on initiatives and approaches to the matter at the meeting, he said.

“Hence, we will discuss ways to create job opportunities and how we want to align our efforts,” he said.

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Dr M: Belt and Road initiative will benefit all participating countries.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

BEIJING: The Belt and Road Forum has allayed fears that the Malacca Straits and South China Sea would be dominated by a superpower nation, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister admitted that he was once worried that the Belt and Road Initiative would only benefit China.

But he changed his view after attending the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was held on Friday (April 26) and Saturday (April 27).

“This is an international gathering (of world leaders) to discuss cooperation, policies and plans to develop their countries respectively,” he added.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that despite the size and wealth of the nations, all of them sat together and were given equal chance to voice their concerns and views.

“I understand more about the initiative now and believe it will benefit all participating countries,” he told a press conference before heading to the airport to return home on Sunday (April 28).

Dr Mahathir, who arrived on Wednesday, also visited Huawei, artificial intelligence company SenseTime and met with Chinese investors during his five-day working trip here.

By Beh Yuen Hui
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One-stop centre to be set up to spur foreign investment

Sunday, April 28th, 2019
A one-stop centre will be set up soon to facilitate the approval of applications from foreign entrepreneurs to set up business or invest in Malaysia, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (Bernama photo)

BEIJING: A one-stop centre will be set up soon to facilitate the approval of applications from foreign entrepreneurs to set up business or invest in Malaysia, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister shared that one issue brought up by many businessmen in China during his discussions was the difficulty in getting approval to conduct business in Malaysia.

“They have to see up to 20 people and go to many places. This takes a lot of time. A one-stop centre will make things easier for them.

“Of course, the person placed at this centre must be someone who can make decisions.

“There is no point setting up this centre if those placed there need to refer to other people.

“I am sure that with the centre, investments from many countries, not just China, will come pouring in,” he told Malaysian media at the end of his five-day working visit here.

Dr Mahathir arrived here on Wednesday to join 36 world leaders and participants from 130 countries at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On whether investments from China would increase with Malaysia’s participation in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), Dr Mahathir said it would, but that it was important for Malaysia to respond to the problems of foreign investors and make things easier for them.

He said China had shown not just its support but sensitivity that its projects in Malaysia created job opportunities for locals.

“For one of its investments in Sarawak, for example, there is only one Chinese, but 3,000 Malaysians in employ.”

Dr Mahathir said aside from dialogues with Chinese businessmen while here, he also visited the Huawei research centre in Beijing and SenseTime Group Ltd, the world’s biggest and most valuable artificial intelligence (AI) startup.

Impressed with their expertise and technological advances, especially in AI, Dr Mahathir said there was an opportunity to tap their expertise for Malaysia’s benefit.

By Chok Suat Ling.

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Do not take our peace dividend for granted

Monday, April 22nd, 2019
There is a need for an assessment of the size and role of the army, which because of legacy issues, outsizes that of the navy, coastguard and air force put together. (File pic)

THE last few months have been interesting for both professional and casual observers of Malaysia’s defence sector, mainly because of the upcoming Defence White Paper.

Schduled to be presented to Parliament by October, there have been quite a few articles and discussions on the various ideas of what Malaysia’s defence priorities and postures are, and what needs to be done to ensure their feasibility.

Amid these discussions, it is important to remember that most of Malaysia’s national security threats in the immediate and foreseeable future are from the maritime and air domain. Thus policies, planning and spending need to reflect these challenges and appropriate countermeasures.

Aong these security concerns is the South China Sea dispute, which is increasingly growing from a multilateral territorial dispute into an avenue of United States-China competition, and ongoing insecurity in the Sulu Seas and its impact on eastern Sabah. Additionally, Malaysia still grapples with illegal fishing, piracy and maritime disputes with some of its neighbours.

The increasingly competitive, if not adversarial US-China relationship means that we also have to keep an eye on the Straits of Malacca, to avoid any trigger of greater major power involvement. This necessitates greater strategic planning and spending focused on the maritime and aerial domain. We need to carefully and rationally consider the acquisition of assets and capabilities that we can afford to operate, in effective numbers, if ever deployed. Investing in a limited number of flashy assets that look good on paper and in parades, or to ostensibly improve bilateral relations, is a practice that we simply cannot afford any longer. The men and women serving in the armed forces and ministry know what is needed — whether political decision-makers start listening to them, is another matter.

There is also a critical need for greater maritime and airspace domain awareness. The importance of access to reliable information in understanding the nature and extent of a potential threat in planning a response cannot be overstated. In an age of networked systems, should we ever get into a kinetic conflict, it is not about who has the biggest gun but who has a better idea of what and where their target is, that has the advantage. Better domain awareness will also help defence planners deploy limited assets.

The multiple stakeholders engaged in these domains — the navy, coastguard, marine police, fisheries and marine authorities and multiple actors from the private sector — ought to find greater avenues of cooperation. For example, with basic training and a relatively affordable investment in networked communication and GPS systems, fishermen can be co-opted to amplify the eyes and ears of authorities. Neighbouring countries are increasingly utilising this strategy. Petronas, which has a significant presence in the South China Sea and owns some of the best communication and detection systems that money can buy, is another prime candidate for such cooperation.

However, some hard and politically sensitive decisions are needed to enable such changes. One hot potato would be an honest assessment of the size and role of the army, which because of legacy issues, is bigger than that of the navy, coastguard and air force put together. Such a large force requires significant operational and development funding which impacts the funds available to other services.

There is a need to balance the core capacities, immediate and future requirements of our armed forces against the politics of job creation.

It is also high time for a serious discussion on whether the defence budget should be tied to a percentage of the gross domestic product. This would give defence planners the much needed predictability in terms of balancing requirements and the budget they can expect from the government. The practice of drastically cutting down on defence spending every time there is a budget crunch, and giving small increments via supplemental budgets, sometimes at random, throws defence planning into limbo — including critical development and operational funds.

Another hot potato would entail an honest reassessment of our domestic defence industry. Third party vendors, masquerading as “industry” that do not contribute any expertise or value-add to the overall defence sector, should be eliminated. Defence spending is expensive enough as it is without these well-connected interests further skimming government funds in the name of “self-reliance”. It is possible to have a more transparent defence spending regime, especially in terms of contracts and suppliers. Many countries do it without compromising security concerns.

While diplomacy has always been our first, and an effective, line of defence and offence, Malaysia is sitting in the middle of a region that is undergoing tremendous flux. The threats have always been present and in some cases, are increasingly grave. A credible deterrence is an essential, albeit silent, component of good diplomacy. The non-traditional challenges from non-state actors that we face also require a mix of responses, sometimes kinetic in nature.

We have been fortunate to avoid major conflict thus far, but we must not take the peace dividend for granted. Troops are often told to innovate in the face of adversity, but the reality is that there is only so much innovation one can do without sufficient resources. We have dedicated men and women working in tough conditions to maintain that peace — the least we can do is to provide them with the proper tools to do the job.


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