Welcome 2015 !



We welcome 2015 as 2014 will exit in 2 days' time.

It had been a tumultuous year for Malaysia especially towards the last quarter of 2014 with global commercial trade in uncertainty, falling crude oil price and, just a day ago, the disappearance of another airplane over the Indonesian airspace, which totalled to 3 the number of great plane disasters recorded in the year!

Let's pray that the New Year, 2015 will be filled with love, joy, hope and peace. May the World be a better place to live in.

May ALL MEN realise that this is the ONLY World that we have as we have no other to go to.

Mess up or destroy this World, we will all be in trouble!

May ALL MEN wake up from their selfish dreams, slumbers and activities to learn to love one another and the World that sustains us all!

/29-12-2014

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Private hospitals will see an increase fee of about 5%



Malaysians will have to pay at least 5% more for private healthcare once the Goods and Services Tax kicks off  on 1 April 2015, according to an estimate by the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM).

APHM president Datuk Dr Jacob Thomas warned that the costs would increase even though the Government announced that healthcare services were exempted from the GST.

He said this was due to certain details on the implementation of the 6% GST, including deeming the work of doctors operating as independent consultants as “outsourced service” that can be taxed.

“About 99% of doctors in private hospitals are not employees, but operate as independent contractors,” said Dr Jacob.

“This means that the burden of the GST will be borne by the rakyat for the services of such healthcare professionals,” he said.

Dr Jacob said the hospital operating costs were also expected to increase from other outsourced services, which are taxable like security, laundry and housekeeping.

“To say that healthcare costs will not go up is not true. The costs will definitely increase,” he warned.
“It is not viable for private hospitals to absorb the extra charges.”

Dr Jacob said the 120-member APHM understood the Government’s good intentions of exempting healthcare from the GST.

“But as it is implemented, there is going to be an increase in costs,” he said. “I disagree with the Health Minister who said that the increase will only be about 1%.”

Dr Jacob urged the Government to regard healthcare services as an “exempt supply” in the true sense of the word and not have hidden costs that could implicate the private healthcare sector.

“If it insists on imposing the tax on us, our plea to the Government is to explain to the people about this,” he added.

“The increase in private healthcare costs may also see more patients switching to public hospitals, which may further clog up the sector.

“About 30% of hospital beds in Malaysia are in the private sector and our country’s healthcare boasts of being ranked the third best in the world because of its excellent and affordable care,” he said.

There are 220 private hospitals in the country.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam was reported to have said that medical costs might increase by between 1% and 2% when the GST is imposed.

/theSTAR 16-12-2014
 
 
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Health Ministry: Database for Rare Diseases



The Malaysian Health Ministry is exploring various strategies and is working with stakeholders to set up a database for reporting rare diseases.

Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah acknowledged that there was no official or specific registry now. “Currently,information is captured by the respective discipline’s database. For example, Marfan’s syndrome patients who have predominantly heart and eye problems are placed in the cardiac or eye registry,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said it was difficult to estimate how many patients died from rare diseases because the official cause of death was usually a complication of the disease.

He said rare diseases were usually chronic, debilitating and often life-threatening.

The Health Ministry was looking into the development of a nationally coordinated plan to tackle rare diseases.

“This may outline a cohesive clinical, public, health and disability service approach to rare diseases, addressing prevention, timely diagnosis, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said there was also a strong need for a Rare Disease and Orphan Drug Act in Malaysia.

Such a law, he said, would cover the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of rare diseases, the acquisition and manufacturing of orphan drugs (a pharmaceutical agent developed specifically to treat a rare medical condition), R&D and subsidies for specific drugs and nutrients.

Countries such as Japan, South Korea, the United States and European nations cover rare diseases under national health insurance, allowing co-payment to be waived.
 .
According to the Global Genes Project, about 350 million people are affected by a rare disease.
It is believed that collectively the rare disease community is larger than the AIDS and cancer communities combined.
/theSTAR 12-12-2014


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Rare Diseases



Congenital abnormalities – the majority of which are rare diseases – are the main cause of babies and children under five years of age in Malaysia dying.

Malaysia lacks a central registry for these diseases to increase awareness and help with formulating strategies.

Annually, around 16,500 of Malay­sia’s 550,000 babies are afflicted with congenital abnormalities and about one third may succumb to these illnesses before reaching their first birthday.

Those who do not die may have reduced quality of life due to physical or learning disabilities.

University Malaya Medical Centre consultant paediatrician and clinical geneticist Prof Dr Thong Meow Keong said the need for a registry was pressing because there was so little awareness of the diseases.

“With proper information, we can plan healthcare needs for them and their families and institute preventive and control strategies in line with WHO (World Health Organisation) recommendations to reduce infant mortality,” he said.

There are about 8,000 known rare diseases and the list is growing daily, according to him. He said rare disease is defined in Europe as a condition occurring in 1 in 2,000 general population but there is no official definition yet in Malaysia.

Some patient support groups, such as the Malaysian Rare Disorders Society, adopted the definition of any condition that affects 1 in 4,000 people or less, he said.

Of the 8,000 diseases, only about 200 have pharmaceutical treatment.

Prof Thong said that couples at risk of genetic diseases should seek counselling from clinical geneticists before going for genetic testing or starting a family.

“Malaysia needs more diagnostic services for genetic and metabolic diseases at affordable prices.
Due to lack of facilities and ex­­per­tise, genetic testing is exp­en­­­sive and samples for genetic testing often have to be sent overseas,” he said.

This was echoed by Malaysia Rare Disorders Society president Datuk Hatijah Ayob.

She said the lack of awareness resulted in a lot of difficulties faced by sufferers, including issues with insurance and Socso coverage. “Some rare diseases are not recognised by the Welfare Department. One case we heard of, the sufferer did not qualify for Socso. We need data to mark trends in these diseases,” she said.

“For example, if a child has Marfan’s Syndrome (a genetic disorder affecting the body’s connective tissue), parents may think the child is just tall and lanky. By the time they realise something is amiss, the child could have skeletal or visual issues,” she said.

/theSTAR 12-12-2014


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Parkinson’s Disease centre in the works



Malaysia’s first centre for Parkinson’s Disease at Jalan Universiti in Petaling Jaya, which will also be the first in South-East Asia, will be operational by 2016.

Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin said the centre would be built at the cost of RM10mil.

“When completed, it will be a research centre for Parkinson’s Disease and a treatment centre for patients,” he said after the presentation of a RM4mil cheque by Cepatwawasan Group Bhd to cover the cost of the project.

/theSTAR 02-12-2014

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RM 30mil set aside for research for the Disabled and Elderly



The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry is planning a RM30mil flagship scheme for research into the disabled and the elderly facilities.

The researchers have to work together with a university or the private sector or with an agency under the Ministry.

The Ministry had earlier launched the revised Malay­sian Standard (MS) MS1184:2014 Universal Design and Accessibility in Built Environment – Code of Practice (Second Revision), which is to encourage the building of disabled or elderly-friendly facilities.

The event was held in conjunction with International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Dr Abu Bakar said inventions funded by the ministry might be bought by the Government when they were completed as previously only 8.73% of all ministry-funded products researched from 2006 until Oct 31 were commercialised.

Dr Abu Bakar said the Government aimed to see 360 products commercialised by 2020, adding that 65 had been commercialised thus far.

/theSTAR 02-12-2014

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Don: Push for dengue field tests



The Health Ministry should go ahead with actual field tests for a proposed vaccine for dengue as trials show that it can reduce hospitalisation by 67%, Asia-Pacific Dengue Vaccine and Vaccination Steering Committee chairman Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit said.

He said that actual field tests were important to see how the vaccine worked and how the community accepted it.

“Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam had said that the ministry was still undecided if they wanted to introduce the vaccine as it only gave an overall protection rate of 56%,” he said in a statement.

He added that the figure was based on clinical trials done on Asians by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.

“Instead of focusing on the overall protection rate, the ministry should also consider that the trial results showed there was a reduction of 67% for hospitalisation and prevention of severe dengue by 88.5%

“Similar tests were also done by the company on Latin Americans and there were no serious adverse events in both trials,” he said.

Dr Lam added that a study conducted by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre in collaboration with Brandeis University – a US private research university – in 2012 showed that the economic burden of dengue in Malaysia came to about RM360mil a year.

“Until September this year, we had a total of 74,335 cases with 143 deaths. Imagine how much the country could have saved if the vaccine was already being used.

“The World Health Organisation has set a target to reduce the risk of dengue mortality by 50% and morbidity by 25% by 2020, and the present vaccine fulfils the criteria,” he noted.

He added that instead of waiting, the ministry should push for the field tests and focus on patients aged between 25 and 30, as most local dengue deaths involved this age group.

It was reported on Nov 27 that the Health Ministry would carry out in-depth research on the dengue vaccine before distribution.

/theSTAR 02-12-2014

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CCM: Sell pharmaceutical operations to subsidiary



Chemical Company of Malaysia (CCM) Bhd plans to sell six pharmaceutical units in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore to 73.7%-owned subsidiary CCM Duopharma Biotech Bhd for RM133.3mil.

Proceeds from the disposal would be reinvested in its subsidiary, CCM told Bursa Malaysia.
 
The rationalisation of the group’s pharmaceutical assets under CCM Duopharma would allow the company to bid for larger contracts announced by the Health Ministry, it said.
 
To pay for the acquisition, CCM Duopharma will undertake a renounceable rights issue of 139.48 million new shares at RM1.40 each, to raise as much as RM195.27mil.
 
The company has allocated RM140mil to pay for the acquisition. It will invest RM50mil to expand the group’s pharmaceutical manufacturing operations.
 
“The rationalisation is expected to improve the utilisation rate of the combined production facilities by channelling capacity of any production facility within CCM Duopharma to any under-utilised production facilities,” CCM said.
 
By subscribing to the rights issues, CCM said it would continue to participate in and benefit from the growth, potential earnings and any capacity expansion of the subsidiaries through its shareholding in CCM Duopharma.
 
The corporate exercise involves three conditional share sale agreements (SSA) between CCM Duopharma and CCM for the proposed acquisition of the entire equity interest in four companies.
 
In the first SSA, CCM Duopharma agreed to acquire CCM Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd and Innovax Sdn Bhd for RM17.6mil together with the cash settlement of advances due from both amounting to RM10.66mil as at Sept 30, 2014.
 
In the second SSA, it agreed to acquire CCM International (Philippines) Inc from CCM’s wholly-owned subsidiary CCM Investments Ltd for RM1,000.
 
In the third SSA, it agreed to acquire CCM Pharmaceuticals (S) Pte Ltd (CCM Singapore) from CCM’s wholly-owned subsidiary CCM International Sdn Bhd for RM2.4mil together with the cash settlement of advances due from CCM Singapore to CCM amounting to RM27,000 as at Sept 30, 2014.
 
Meanwhile, CCM Duopharma’s wholly-owned subsidiary Duopharma (M) Sdn Bhd, also entered into a conditional SSA to acquire the entire equity interest in CCM Pharma Sdn Bhd and Upha Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (M) Sdn Bhd.
 
This is for RM113.3mil together with the cash settlement of advances due from CCM Pharma and Upha Pharmaceutical to CCM amounting to RM101.1mil as at Sept 30, 2014.
 
CCM Duopharma also proposed to increase its authorised share capital from RM100mil, comprising 200 million shares, to RM250mil comprising 500 million shares.

/theSTAR28-11-2014

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Malaysia: Jumps to No 5 in IMD Talent ranking, 2014



Malaysia has jumped 15 notches over the past decade to fifth place in the latest world talent ranking based on investment and ability to attract and retain talent.

In the IMD World Talent Report 2014, that surveyed 60 countries, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Finland were the top four.

IMD, a top-ranked business school in Switzerland, released the report on Thursday.

“The best-ranked countries have a balanced approach between their commitment to education, investment in developing local talent and their ability to attract overseas talent,” said IMD World Competitiveness Centre director Prof Arturo Bris.

“Countries with smart talent strategies are also highly agile in developing policies that improve their talent pipeline.”

For the investment and development factor, Denmark was ahead of Switzerland (second) and Austria (third) while Germany was fourth and Sweden fifth.

Switzerland was ranked top for the appeal factor, followed by Germany, the United States, Ireland and Malaysia.

Switzerland was also rated the highest for readiness, ahead of Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates.

The IMD report assesses a country’s ability to develop, attract and retain talent for companies that operate there. It reflects three key factors: investment and development in home-grown talent; appeal, which is a country’s ability to retain home-grown talent and attract talent from overseas; and readiness, which reflects a country’s ability to fulfil market demands with its available talent pool. 

/PEMANDU 24-11-2014

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Health Ministry to study use of vaccine to fight dengue



The Malaysian Health Ministry will carry out an in-depth research on dengue vaccine with companies producing the drug before it is distributed in Malaysia.
 
Its Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, said the research was needed to ensure the four dengue serotypes could be effectively treated by the vaccine.

He said research had shown that the vaccine did not have the same effect on the four dengue serotypes. “The effects of the vaccine on serotype DEN 2 were below satisfactory, compared with the other serotypes.”

However, he said, the vaccine was effective in reducing the number of patients who were hospitalised and lowering the severity of the disease.

“In Thailand, tests were conducted on those aged 18 and below. But we must understand that in Malaysia, most dengue deaths occured among those aged between 25 and 30.

“This is why we need to conduct a wider research before deciding to use vaccination as a method to fight dengue.”

He said there were 21,900 dengue cases in 2012 with 35 deaths; 43,340 cases last year with 92 deaths; and 74,335 cases as of September 20, 2014 with 143 deaths.
/NewStraitsTimes 27-11-2014
 

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Papaya leaf extract: A supportive treatment to Dengue recovery process ?



The Institute for Medical Research (IMR), in a circular to state health directors recently, revealed that clinical research on papaya leaves had shown that its extract could help increase the blood platelet count of dengue patients.

The circular, dated Sept 19, also stated that IMR would soon share its findings and distribute pamphlets detailing the correct preparation and use of the extract for dengue patients to government hospitals and clinics.

 Health  Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said papaya leaf extract had increased blood platelet count and could assist in the recovery of patients with fewer complications.

“The damage from a dengue infection, however, could be more than a platelet count issue, such as blood plasma leakage or dengue shock syndrome, in which dangerously low blood pressure could occur,” he said.

It was earlier reported that a study, led by Dr Soobitha Subenthran and a team from IMR Kuala Lumpur, had found that Carica papaya leaf extract could assist in increasing blood platelet count.

The researchers conducted clinical trials on 288 dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever patients, in which half were given the extract for three days while the remaining received standard dengue treatment.

The two groups were constantly monitored and their blood platelet count checked every eight hours for 48 hours. It was found the group that was administered the extract showed a significant increase in their platelet count.

It was also reported that those intending to take the extract should consult a doctor first before doing so. Once cleared by a certified health specialist, they can start taking two tablespoons a day for a maximum of three days.

The right method of extracting papaya leaf juice includes using mature leaves and washing the leaves thoroughly before soaking them in water for 15 minutes. The leaves are then either blended or pounded and filtered using a sieve.

/New Straits Times 02-10-2014

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IMF: Malaysia's Deficit Could Dip Below 3 Per Cent With Fuel Subsidy



With fuel subsidy locking in the impact of lower oil prices, Malaysia's deficit could decline below 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, said the International Monetary Fund.

Its Mission Chief for Malaysia, Alex Mourmouras said the overall fiscal strategy should bolster equality, with budgeted cash transfers tightly targeted at low-income groups.

"The mission welcomes the move toward performance-based budgeting, and the plans to introduce accrual accounting," he said in a statement today.

Mourmouras led the IMF team to Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya on Nov 13-24, 2014 to conduct discussions for the 2014 Article IV Consultation with Malaysia. Under Article IV of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with its members, usually every year.

Mourmouras said the current account surplus is projected to rise to about 5.0 percent of GDP in 2014, as import growth has slowed and supported by a modest recovery in external demand.

"The mission commends the authorities for taking significant steps to strengthen the resilience of the Malaysian economy, while maintaining macroeconomic stability," he added.

He said measures such as the removal of fuel subsidies and the introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) are decisive moves that should help ensure the sustainability of government finances.

Mourmouras added that the measures also allow more spending aimed at promoting sustainable and equitable medium-term growth.

He also noted that Bank Negara Malaysia's proactive policies, including a series of measured controls on bank lending and an increase in its policy rate last July, have helped contain inflationary pressures and address financial imbalances.

Malaysia's near-term growth prospects also remain strong, with real GDP growth in 2014 projected at close to 6.0 per cent, while private domestic demand is expected to remain robust.

"A moderate increase in inflation is expected in 2015 following GST implementation but subdued underlying inflationary pressures will mitigate its impact," said Mourmouras.

He added that Malaysia's recent strong economic growth, high investment and improvements in business environment scorecards were impressive.

However, he said, lower potential growth in the advanced economies makes maintaining the growth performance more challenging and provides an additional imperative for structural reforms.
/Bernama 26-11-2014

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IHH: Profit for Q3 rises 25.5% to RM147mil



IHH Healthcare Bhd’s net profit for the third quarter ended Sept 30 jumped 25.5% to RM146.91mil on the back of higher inpatient volumes, revenue intensity and contribution from new hospitals.

Revenue increased 6.71% to RM1.78bil. Earnings per share (EPS) improved to 1.8 sen from 1.44 sen previously.
 
For the nine-month period, net profit was up 28.4% to RM515.06mil on the back of an 8.6% jump in revenue to RM5.41bil. EPS increased to 6.31 sen from 4.95 sen.
 
The group maintained a strong balance sheet, with net gearing at 0.10 times and cash balance of RM2.15bil as at Sept 30.
 
Parkway Pantai, the group’s largest operating subsidiary, reported a 10% growth in revenue to RM1.08bil and an 11% increase in operating profit to RM269.3mil for the third quarter, primarily due to the continued ramp up of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore. This was despite the raising of nurses’ salaries, start-up losses recorded for the newly opened Pantai Hospital Manjung and pre-operating expenses for Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital.
 
As for its Turkish healthcare provider, Acibadem Holdings, revenue increased 1% to RM616.6mil while operating profit fell 2% to RM89.2mil. Top-line growth was driven by strong performance at its existing hospitals, the continued ramp up of Acibadem Ankara Hospital and Acibadem Bodrum Hospital, as well as revenue contribution from the newly-opened Acibadem Atakent Hospital.
 
IHH expects higher staff costs and other inflationary pressures to affect the group for the rest of the year, but will take mitigating action through price adjustments while improving operating leverage.
 
“The group’s diverse geographical footprint also makes it susceptible to currency volatility. As such, IHH continues to monitor and minimise currency risks proactively.
 
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the group is confident about achieving earnings growth for the year ahead,” it said. 

IHH Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Dr Tan See Leng said the better performance reflected the robustness of the strategy to expand in high growth markets, while optimising existing operations and bringing new hospitals onstream quickly. "We remain in a strong financial position to drive our phased pipeline of projects going forward," he said.

On prospects, Chairman Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman said the group remained positive on the attractive growth prospects of the industry, and its ability in creating value for shareholders.
/
/theSTAR/Bernam 26-11-2014

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Indonesians: Top healthcare tourists to Malaysia



Indonesians topped the list of healthcare tourists to Malaysia last year, making up 56.76% of the foreigners seeking treatment at private hospitals here.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said 437,157 Indonesians came to Malaysia last year, among the total of 770,134 healthcare tourists.

The second largest group of healthcare travellers were from India (27,146), followed by Japan (22,294) and China (21,010).
 
Other foreign patients included those from Libya (18,912), United Kingdom (17,033), Australia (13,383), the United States (12,349), Bangladesh (11,911) and the Philippines (10,560).

There are, up to September 2014, 95 foreign medical specialists serving in Malaysia of which 18 are women. The Specialists include 14 opthalmologists, 11 O&Gs, 14 General Surgeons and others  specialising in orthopaedics, internal medicine and paediatrics.

 /theSTAR 13-11-2014


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ASEAN Economic Community (AEC): Malaysia takes over the Chair on 1st January 2015



Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will assume the ASEAN chair on Jan 1, 2015 The chair of the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean BAC) will also be handed to Malaysia, to Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid, the current chairman of the Malaysian chapter of the Asean BAC, on Jan 1, 2015

Being the chair next year, Malaysia is tasked with sheperding the regional grouping to a significant milestone in its 47-year history, the formation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), which comes into being on Dec 31, 2015.
 
Malaysia has chosen the theme “A people-centric Asean” for next year but not much is known as yet about what programme or plans will flow from this theme. What is known is that Malaysians have the lowest levels of awareness of Asean matters among the regional grouping’s citizens, according to findings carried out by the Asean Foundation.
 
The findings belie Malaysia’s trade links with her neighbours. Trade with Asean has risen by leaps and bounds, with members accounting for 28.1% of exports last year while they accounted for 26.7% of Malaysia’s imports.
 
Economic integration is the best way forward to deeper regional ties with the AEC being one of three pillars forming the Asean Community. In fact, given that the region already has deepening trade and investment ties, the AEC will pave the way for integration under the Asean Political Security Community and the Asean Socio-Cultural Community pillars.
 
The AEC envisions a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a regional economy fully integrated into the global economy.
 
“Its not going to be perfect, which is likely to be the case, and while there has been genuine progress in economic integration, there’ll be shortfalls and at the same time there’ll be new initiatives to drive the AEC forward,” Munir says, referring to the Dec 31, 2015 deadline.
 
Even where agreements have been signed, there will still be obstacles as signatories have to amend legislation and that takes a long time. Munir says the reality is that the enabling legislation in the domestic jurisdiction is not always followed through. Indeed, observers say that Asean needs to be restructured to be more nimble in carrying out its duties to integrate the region.
 
While barriers for trade in goods are almost all gone, there are still non-tariff barriers to contend with. Also, not all sectors and industries are opened to foreign investment. Malaysia’s automotive industry comes to mind.
 
Furthermore, progress on the economic integration blueprint, which uses a scorecard system to chart compliance, does not give the full picture of realities on the ground. Critics argue that this is an imperfect system. One critic notes that the scorecard does not assess how well or effectively obligations are being implemented, it just assesses whether these regulations are in place.
 
Munir says while the scorecard has its uses, the Asean private sector prefers to know more about immediate concerns such as how to operate in different jurisdictions.
 
“For example, I’m interested in the banking/financial services industry and its operating environment,” Munir, who is also Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chairman, says. He prefers to see Asean integrate project by project and sort out the issues as they come up. “If you go on the basis of having everything in place first (the enabling legislation), nothing will get done. Build around these projects, solve the problems arising from these projects, then percentages of compliance doesn’t matter anymore,” Munir says.
 
He adds that when benefits of working across borders are seen for a project, there will be more momentum for integration.
 
/theSTAR 08-11-2014
 
 
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WHO warns of severe dengue outbreak



While the Ebola threat has captured headlines, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that dengue - while far less lethal - has become one of the fastest-growing global health threats, contracted by 50-100 million people each year.

"The increase in dengue incidence and severity of the outbreaks is a global phenomenon, with a 30-fold increase over the past five decades," said Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed, a doctor in the WHO's South-East Asia office, adding that eradication is "not seen as feasible in the near future".
 
The disease is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes debilitating flu-like symptoms, headaches, rashes and severe muscle and joint pains that earned its original name "breakbone fever". 
In serious cases, internal bleeding, organ damage and death can occur. 

While Ebola has killed nearly 5,000 people this year, mainly in west Africa, with an estimated 13,000 infections, dengue kills up to 20,000 annually, and 40% of the world's population live in dengue-risk areas.

Endemic to warm, humid zones, dengue's range may also be spreading as infected travellers transport the virus and - scientists believe - as global warming expands the Aedes aegypti's range.

Japan this year experienced its first domestic outbreak in seven decades, while in the United States dengue remains rare but growing.
 
"Climate change may also affect transmission, as dengue mosquitoes reproduce more quickly and bite more frequently at higher temperatures," Ahmed said.
 
There is no vaccine or specific treatment.
 
Dengue spreads via the bite of an Aedes aegypti that previously bit an infected person, making it difficult to control in densely populated tropical cities where standing water is common.

Kuala Lumpur and its environs have been the epicentre of a Malaysian outbreak that has filled some hospitals to capacity and become the top public health concern, with residents trading advice on home remedies - crab soup, coconut milk and papaya leaf juice are currently in vogue. 

Malaysian cases have topped 85,000 through the end of October, tripling compared to the same period last year. Deaths also have tripled to around 150.

Hapless officials have faced mounting pressure as the numbers climb despite campaigns to eliminate standing-water mosquito breeding sites, and copious fumigation.

Elsewhere, Indonesia saw 121,000 cases in 2013, up 30%, with 871 dead. The virus is spreading from urban to rural areas.  "This is a new trend we have seen in the past five years," health ministry official Soewarta Kosen said, adding rural health systems were unprepared. 

Dengue also is up in southern China, according to media reports there, and has reappeared in Hong Kong after a few years' absence. 

Brazil leads Latin American infections with seven million since 2000. Some 800 have died in the past five years. 

Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia have released genetically engineered mosquitoes whose offspring are sterile in hopes of controlling the Aedes aegypti, but the method's efficacy remains unconfirmed. 

Dengue has four strains, and infection with a particular one leaves patients immune to that variety in future. But it also is believed to make some more susceptible to the other three, including a fast-growing strain with more severe symptoms and higher death rate that is gaining ground in Malaysia.

Most dengue patients are hospitalised on IV drips and monitored as blood platelet counts drop, which can lead to dangerous internal bleeding. The majority recover within two weeks, but symptoms can persist.
 
Development of effective drugs has been elusive, but after 20 years of research French drugmaker Sanofi says it is nearing completion of a vaccine it hopes to make commercially available late next year.
 
A National University of Singapore team, meanwhile, is among those working on a possible drug to treat dengue. The researchers say they have managed to isolate dengue antibodies, and hope to start clinical trials in 2016.

/theSTAR 09-11-2014


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Poor Manager, Poor Performance



I was appalled and taken aback when experienced senior Managers are reluctant to take up new challenges. I just could not understand.

The Manager concerned is either complacent or too comfortable in his present state that he is happily languishing in his existing position, waiting to be shipped out.

Management should view this sad state of affair with great concern with corrective action taken.

Direct reports would either be of the same state of mind and performance as the Manager, or be frustrated or waiting for another job opportunity to move on ... Whatever it is, the Company would suffer with low performance as a result. This personality are the retardant and hindrance to Company growth to having a high performance culture!

An immediate solution would be to counsel and motivate the Manager to take corrective action and having the right attitude towards performance, otherwise disciplinary measures would be taken with the ultimate end-point of dismissal.

If there is a need, Job Scope must also be reviewed. If there is an absence of same, it must be drawn up for the Manager. It should be explained to him in order for him to understand and put into practice his role and expectation as a Manager and as a leader. If he lacks knowledge or skill he should be trained, retrained or be given a lesser role if he is not able to cope with the job.

KPIs on performance and leadership must be identified and be in place. Penalty and reward will be embedded with the KPIs.

Company must be serious in the performance of its staff particularly the leadership.

 /05-11-2014

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Dengue: DPM chairs National-level Committee Meeting On Dengue



The Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin chaired the Meeting of the National-Level Committee on Dengue in efforts to implement more effective measures to tackle the increase in dengue fever cases in the country.

The Deputy Prime Minister was accompanied by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam at the meeting held in Parliament House, here, which among others involved various parties including the state governments, local authorities and other agencies.

On July 1, 2014, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the formation of a special task force to tackle the public concern on the rising cases of dengue fever throughout the country lately.

The task force, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, also comprised ministers from the Health Ministry, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Works Ministry.

The rise in the number of dengue cases was due to various factors such as dirty environment, the changing stereotyped dengue virus, human movement factor, changing weather as well as urbanisation.

Thus, the formation of the Task Force would assist the Health Ministry in tackling various issues on dengue which were outside their jurisdiction such as garbage management, building site management involving contractors or developers, building structures that had turned into Aedes breeding ground and unmaintained drainage system.

/Bernama 04-11-2014  

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Sanofi Pasteur: Announces Dengue Vaccine available by 2H, 2015



The world’s first dengue vaccine is in production, and could be available as early as the second half of 2015, says French drug maker Sanofi Pasteur.

It said in a statement that a second late-stage clinical study showed 95.5% protection against severe dengue and a reduction of hospitalisation risk by 80.3%.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, announced the detailed results of the final landmark Phase III clinical efficacy study in Latin America in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The company said the overall efficacy against any symptomatic dengue disease was 60.8% in children and adolescents nine to 16 years old who received three doses of the vaccine.

The study was conducted on over 31,000 participants across 10 endemic countries in Latin America and Asia, including Malaysia.

Dengue is endemic in over 100 countries, making it a threat to nearly half of the world’s population. One person is hospitalised for dengue every single minute.

Sanofi has spent the last 20 years developing the vaccine that is several years ahead of potential competitors.
/Bernama 04-11-2014

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Budget airline, NOT really Budget !



I had my first experience flying a budget airline recently. This was for a short trip, a week, to Australia.

I had heard of the discomfort in travelling due to the rigid immobilised seat and the short leg room, for long distance, which proved to be true. Sure enough, I had difficulty in stretching my legs and inclining my chair to a comfortable slant.

However, as I was mentally prepared to expect the "worse" I was not totally disappointed!

I learnt a few lessons from this airline in maximising its space within the small confine of the plane and its ability to make good profit.

The price for the ticket was deemed low but NOT so if the other "incidental" costs were added into the price of the ticket.

The seats "opened" for booking were not well located as they were either far behind into the tail section of the plane or very near to the toilets. To have a "nearer to the front of the plane seats" and slightly away from the toilets, we need to pay for "extra charge".

The budget plane, to my surprise, as I had confessed I had never paid any detail attention to the business model of the budget airline, had a "business class with state-of-the art business class seats" - of course at higher ticket price!

Then, it had a "silent compartment" for another price.

For a seat behind the "silent compartment" with longer leg room or near the emergency door, or other "hot seats", one has to pay an extra "loading rate" as well.

Then there is no free meals. For long distance travel, unless one is on a hunger strike, one has to purchase food from the airline, which is not cheap.

Hmmm... this is not the end, other than the minimal  check-in baggage allowed, one has to buy extra luggage weight!

All adds up ... not cheap ticket ... and then the long distance to walk to the sky bridge to board the plane ... would I travel with a budget airline again for long haul? I have to think again ...

However, if a traveller has no high expectation, and is easily satisfied, the airline ticket, to get you from point A to B, is indeed very economical!

/01-11-2014

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TCM Act 2013: To be enforced in middle of 2015



The Health Ministry will enforce the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act 2013 by the middle of next year, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

The Ministry is preparing the regulations that would empower it to fine non-registered traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) practitioners up to RM30,000.

“But we will take into consideration those who have practised for years, and will give a grace period for them to register,” he said at a press conference after launching the 8th Traditional and Complementary Medicine Conference, Exhibition and Carnival here yesterday.

The law, passed in 2012 and gazetted in February, provides for the establishment of the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Council to regulate TCM services in Malaysia.

Anyone who intends to practise TCM will be required to register with the council, and this move is meant to ensure practitioners adhere to standards and prescribed guidelines. To date, 12,235 practitioners have registered, he said.

Dr Subramaniam added that most TCM businesses here consisted of practitioners who operate from their own premises or homes, while only two private hospitals had introduced traditional medicine wings.

Fifteen TCM units have also been established at government health care facilities to provide Malay traditional massage and acupuncture for chronic pain and post-stroke care, as well as dispense herbal medicine as an adjunct therapy for the side-effects of mainstream cancer treatment. Other services include Malay post-natal massage and Shirodhara therapy.

On whether the ministry would consider pushing for TCM to be exempted from Goods and Services Tax (GST), Dr Subramaniam said the Ministry had submitted its recommendations to the Customs Department, and would await their decision.

/theSTAR 31-10-2013


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Malaysia: 18th spot in Ease of Doing Business Report, 2015



Malaysia has improved its ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Report 2015 from 20th in 2014 to 18th spot, ahead of economies such as Taiwan, Switzerland, Thailand, the Netherlands and Japan, according to World Bank.

Malaysia is ranked 4th in Asia after Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. Its distance to frontier score improved from 76.84 in 2014 to 78.83 in 2015.

The report said Malaysia made improvements in five of the indicators namely starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property and resolving insolvency.

It said these improvements reflects the initiatives undertaken by the government through the government transformation and economic transformation programmes as well as the work undertaken by the joint public-private sector task force to facilitate business (Pemudah).

Lead author of Doing Business 2015, Rita Ramalho, said the Doing Business report has introduced a number of methodological refinements this year.

She said the ranking is now based on the 'Distance to Frontier' (DTF) score rather than percentile rank, where the DTF score shows the gap between an economy's performance and the best performance on each indicator.

Ramalho pointed out that the World Bank is of opinion that this methodology provides clarity on the improvements that countries need to make as they work on their competitiveness.

"Through an ambitious reform agenda, Malaysia has gradually improved the ease of doing business. This has benefited local entrepreneurs, who now have fewer regulatory hurdles to comply with and more resources to focus on their business," she said during a teleconference from Washington in the US with Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and the Philippines here yesterday.

Also present were Malaysia Productivity Corp director-general Datuk Mohd Razali Hussain and member of Pemudah task force Datuk Pardip Kumar and World Bank senior Economist Fredrico Gil Sander.

Mohd Razali said Malaysia, which aims to improve its position to top 10 in the ease of doing business, will be focusing five areas to improve its ranking and make it a more attractive investment destination.

"For 2016, World Bank's new focus will be on registering property, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, paying taxes and enforcing contracts. Malaysia will focus on these five areas to improve further and be competitive," he said.

/theSUN 30-10-2014







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Malaysia: Top 20 for affordable high quality accommodation & cost of living.



Expatriates ranked Malaysia among the top 20 places for affordable high quality accommodation and cost of living.

In the 7th Expat Explorer Survey conducted by YouGov involving over 9,300 expatriates, Malaysia was placed 19th for quality of life, financial well-being and the ease of raising a family abroad with Switzerland, China and Singapore in the top three.

The respondents in Malaysia said accommodation was easy to find (63%), of higher quality (54%) compared to their home country and relatively inexpensive.

Utilities is another area which expats are saving with 37% now spending less on these bills.


It appears that a larger culture change is in order for many expats when they make Malaysia their home, with over a quarter (27%) of Malaysia-based expats surveyed this year originally from the United Kingdom.

Nearly half of expats in Malaysia (47%) said they find the local language difficult. But expats who made Malaysia their home seem to embrace the sense of adventure, with over half (56%) trying to learn and use the local language, despite its difficulty.

Some 70% said they were travelling more since embarking on an expat life while 57% described Malaysia as a culturally interesting place.

The survey by YouGov, one of the largest global surveys of expats, ranked Switzerland as the number one country for a well-balanced, high quality lifestyle.

The rankings are: 1. Switzerland 2. Singapore 3. China 4. Germany 5. Bahrain 6. New Zealand
7. Thailand 8. Taiwan 9. India 10. Hong Kong 11. Canada  12. Australia 13. Qatar 14. Oman
15. United Arab Emirates 16. Vietnam 17. Russia 18. Japan 19. Malaysia 20. Belgium

/theSTAR 22-10-2014

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Malaysia: Health Budget 2015 - RM 23 billion



A total of RM23 billion had been allocated to the health sector from Budget 2015", said Health Minister YB Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

He said despite the increase on the allocation that make up for more than 8% of the total budget compared to last year, it is still a normal amount given to the health ministry.

"It will allow us to handle the usual operations and through the new policies, certain emphases can be put in areas such as cancer treatment, haemodialysis, and making a way to develop a new programme."

"Out of the RM23 billion allocated, a total of RM11.7 billion goes to pay salaries. This year, the ministry has more than 230,000 employees, which is expected to increase to 260,000 next year."

"So, more than RM12 billion will be spent on paying the salaries alone next year. That is nearly half of the budget allocated to us," he said.

However, he added that the increased allocation given this year can do more in treating cancer patients, dealing with infectious diseases, dengue control and blood related diseases such as leukemia.

"The allocation will allow us to widen the scope of services and activities for the ministry," he said.

He also noted that the health ministry is expecting a major transformation on the health sector in the 11th Malaysia Plan and hopes things, including operational, services and management, will be transformed to achieve higher targets.

/theSUN 11-10-2014


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Malaysia: Budget 2015 - Essential Medicines, Zero rated



The Health Ministry has clarified that the 2,900 brands of essential medicine that will be exempted from the Goods and Services Tax are categorised as zero-rated GST.

These supplies comprised 320 chemical compounds that are subject to a zero rate.

“Health services per se are ‘GST exempt’ and the chemical compounds are zero-rated.

“Retailers and hospitals are eligible to claim back the GST (as output tax) but will not charge it to the consumer,” Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam told a press conference after launching the organ donation street campaign, “One Pledge with A Million Hopes” here yesterday.


On the other hand, he added, another category of “GST exempted” products is where consumers are exempted but not the retailers or hospitals.

He added that this could lead to an increase in overall price to cover the GST paid, clarifying the announcement made by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when he presented Budget 2015 on Friday.
The Prime Minister stated 2,900 essential medicines would be exempted from the GST but did not specify the category.

Dr Subramaniam said herbs were not in the essential zero-rated GST drug list and discussions were still being held with the Finance Ministry on whether medical devices would also be zero-rated. “We are asking for most of them to be zero-rated. They are studying it and, in the near future, would decide which would be zero-rated,” said Dr Subramaniam.
 
He said emphasis had been given to cancer treatment and haemodialysis, adding that his ministry hoped for a transformation in the health services under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

He said about half of the ministry’s budget would go to paying the salaries of 260,000 employees.

/theSTAR 13-10-2014 


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Malaysia: Budget 2015 Highlights



There will be no GST (Goods and Service Tax) imposed on RON95 petrol, diesel, and LPG, while individual income tax payers will enjoy lower rates in Budget 2015 as announced by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the Parliament on 10th October 2014.

The other highlights of Budget 2015 include:

Income tax rates to be cut by one to three percentage points. Families with monthly income of less than RM4,000 will not have to pay tax - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/budget-2015-live-updates#sthash.jIvWgnab.dpuf
* Income tax rates to be cut by one to three percentage points
* Families with monthly income of less than RM4,000 will not have to pay tax 

* Government revenue estimated at RM23.2bil with implementation of GST
* Government to exempt goods from GST amounting to a total of RM3.8bil
* Items exempted from GST are - all types of fruits, both local and imported; white bread and wholemeal bread; Coffee powder, tea dust and cocoa powder; Yellow mee, kuey teow, laksa and meehoon; essential medicines covering nearly 2,900 brands which are used to treat 30 types of diseases, including heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and for fertility treatment 
* With GST implementation, Sales and Services Tax (SST) abolished, resulting in revenue foregone of RM13.8bil
* RM690mill net revenue collection from GST

* RM4.9bil to be channelled back to the people through assistance programmes such as the increase in Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M)

* BR1M for those earning RM3,000 and below will be increased to RM950 from RM650
* For those earning RM3,000 to RM4,000, BR1M increased to RM750 (from RM450)

* Allowance of MPs of Dewan Rakyat will be increased from the equivalent grade 54 to equivalent grade Jusa C, consistent with their responsibility.
* Allowance of MPs of Dewan Negara will be increased from equivalent grade 48 to equivalent between grade 54 and Jusa C
* Salaries and allowances of the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat and Speaker of Dewan Negara as well as their respective Deputies will be increased effective 1 Jan 2015

* Government will review the salary scheme of members of the administration. This includes the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers

* A half-month bonus with a minimum payment of RM500 to be paid in January 2015 for civil servants

* Government pensioners will also receive special financial assistance of RM250

* Several infrastructure projects will be implemented - 59km Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Expressway (SUKE) with total construction cost of RM5.3bil; 276km West Coast Expressway from Taiping to Banting (RM5bil); 47km Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH)(RM4.2bil); 36km Eastern Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE)(RM1.6bil); 56km Second MRT Line from Selayang to Putrajaya (estimated RM23bil); LRT 3 Project linking Bandar Utama to Shah Alam and Klang (about RM9bil); and RM150mil upgrading of East Coast railway line

* RM223.4bil for operating expenditure, RM50.5bil for development expenditure

* RM65.6bil for emoluments, RM38.1bil for supplies and services

* RM29.3bil allocated to the economic sector

* RM12.6bil allocated to the social sector for education, training, health, housing and well-being of society

* RM4.9bil earmarked for the security sector, RM1.7bil for general administration and RM2bil for contingencies

* For 2015, economic growth expected to remain strong between 5% and 6%, fiscal deficit projected to further decline to 3% of GDP

* Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex project with total investment of RM69bil, which is expected to create over 10,000 jobs

* RM70mil Sustainable Mobility Fund to be established under SME Bank - 50 electric buses will be introduced initially

* RM100mil Digital Content Industry Fund to be set up under the Communications and Multimedia Commission to further promote creative industries like animation, filming, designing and cultural heritage

/theSTAR 11-10-2014


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IHH, KPJ: 2nd Quater 2014 Results, Kenanga Research



The healthcare industry’s growth dynamics, which are fundamentally supported by growing healthcare expenditure, rising medical insurance and an ageing population demographics, will continue to enjoy stable growth, according to research house Kenanga Research.
It said in that the sector was also considered defensive due to its higher predictability factor and captive earnings streams.
 
“In the recently concluded second-quarter results season, both IHH Healthcare Bhd and KPJ Healthcare Bhd came in within expectations.”
 
Noting that stocks such as IHH and KPJ were trading at rich valuations, Kenanga Research said their growth trajectory were reflected in their current prices.
 
The research house rated the industry and both IHH and KPJ as “underperform” with target prices of RM4.20 and RM3.31, respectively.
 
IHH last traded at RM4.97 with a price to earnings ratio of 57.13 times while its close counterpart KPJ was quoted at RM3.94 with a price to earnings ratio of 26.44 times.

/theSTAR 08-10-2014

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Moody: Malaysia's fiscal deficit narrows to 3.1% of GDP



Moody’s Investors Service expects Malaysia’s fiscal deficit to narrow to 3.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, coming in below the official target of 3.5 per cent.

It described Malaysia latest move to reduce fuel subsidy as credit positive.

“The move is credit-positive for the sovereign, because it will help reduce the government’s subsidy bill and contribute to its fiscal consolidation,” commented senior analysts Christian de Guzman and Steffen Dyck. However, further reforms will be necessary if the government is to meet its goal of achieving a balanced budget by 2020.

The fuel pump price increases are the latest attempt to rein in the fiscal deficit, which the rating agency has forecast will narrow to 3.1 per cent of GDP this year, from 3.9 per cent in 2013.

The hike of 20 sen per litre, which constitutes a 9.5 per cent increase for RON95 and a 10 per cent rise for diesel, mirrors the government’s September 2013 reduction in fuel subsidies.

The government has also cut subsidies for other items, including sugar and electricity, and will introduce a six per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April next year to broaden the tax base and ease the government’s reliance on petroleum-related income.

Moody’s described Malaysia’s overall subsidy bill as having grown rapidly over the past decade, in line with the rise in oil prices.

“Subsidy reductions over the past year have caused subsidy spending as a share of the government’s operating expenditures to fall to 17 per cent in the first half of this year after peaking at more than 20 per cent in 2011 and 2012 and from the 2009 level of 13 per cent.”

In an earlier analysis, it stated Malaysia’s public debt stock at 54.7 per cent of GDP at the end of 2013, higher than the “A-”-rated peer median of 41.4 per cent.

“But combined with our expectations of stronger real GDP growth this year of six per cent, up from 4.7 per cent in 2013, smaller fiscal shortfalls should chip away at the debt stock.

“That, it said, would give the government greater room to manoeuvre beneath its self-imposed debt ceiling of 55 per cent of GDP.”

Just like the shift in rating outlook from “stable” to “positive” in November last year, Moody said that expectations of fiscal consolidation and reform and macroeconomic stability are important for any upgrade in the rating.

“The next fiscal test for Malaysia will come when the government presents its 2015 Budget on Friday,” it said. 

/NST 07-10-2014


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Malaysia: GDP to be 5.7% by end 2014



THE World Bank has revised upwards the growth projection for Malaysia to 5.7 per cent this year from 5.4 per cent, saying the economy will be spurred by improvements in exports.

It noted the better-than-expected performance of 6.3 per cent for the first half of the year, which was derived from a recovery in exports. Exports, which have performed consistently since the third quarter of last year, expanded by five per cent quarter-on-quarter between April and June.

“Driven by higher energy, commodity and petrochemical production and by the continuation of the pick-up in the E&E (electrical and electronics) sector, exports are projected to expand further into 2014 and 2015,” it said in its latest economic outlook yesterday.

The E&E manufacturing sector continued its upward trajectory by expanding for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Malaysia is one of the countries in the region that is well-positioned to raise exports, reflecting its deepening integration into global regional value chains.

The World Bank said the E&E-driven improvements in the non-commodity trade balance and higher energy prices kept the current account in a healthy surplus in the first half of the year. Domestic demand will continue to be a key driver of growth, and is likely to grow by 6.7 per cent this year, although headwinds are expected from fiscal and monetary tightening measures.

“While Malaysia’s near-term growth outlook remains positive, the full effects of fiscal consolidation and less accommodative monetary policy remain to be seen, especially since a second round of fuel
subsidy cuts has been postponed,” it said. (The report was published before the government’s 20 sen hike in fuel price last week).

The fuel subsidy cuts, along with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the next quarter, are expected to result in a revised growth projection of 4.9 per cent next year (2015), said the World Bank.

“The implementation of fuel subsidy realisation and a potential consecutive hike in real interest rates will further constrain household consumption, which will moderate into the second half of the year and further into 2015.”

It has projected GDP growth to slow to 4.9 per cent next year and stabilise at five per cent in 2016.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said the global economy is showing signs of recovery but at an uneven pace, with growth expected to rise 2.6 per cent this year and an average of 3.3 per cent from 2015-2017.

World Bank East Asia and Pacific regional vice-president Axel van Trotsenburg said the East Asia Pacific area will continue to have the potential to grow at a higher rate.

“It can grow faster than other developing regions if policymakers implement an ambitious domestic reform agenda, which includes removing barriers to domestic investment, improving export competitiveness and rationalising public spending,” he said in a report.

The World Bank also said there is still a window of opportunity for several countries, including Malaysia, to address the vulnerabilities and inefficiencies that have been created by an extended period of loose financial conditions and fiscal stimulus.

“Measures to bolster revenues and reduce wasteful and poorly-targeted subsidies will create space for productivity-enhancing investments and poverty-reducing programmes.”

/NST 07-10-2014



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Work beyond your given Job Scope



I was having tea with a friend whom I met recently. He is a retired pensioner and prior to his retirement he was the head of a Government agency.

One of the topics that stood up in my mind, after an hour or so of discussion, was that "during my time, I always advised my staff to always go beyond his given job scope. He must work at a level above his existing job grade. By doing so, when there is a promotion, he would be already prepared for the job."

"This is because when he goes for his promotion interview, he would already have a prepared mental frame of what he is being interviewed for. He would definitely stand up in the interview as he is already familiar with the job that he is applying for. He would be the likely successful candidate."

In a way this is true, provided that the person also possesses the relevant soft skills, intelligence and paper qualifications. Many times, interviewers had also given the feedback that "IQ" and experience are not enough as "EQ (Emotional Quotient)" must be part of the equation of success.

/06-10-2014

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Condom: A Growing Business



Karex, the world’s largest condom maker by volume, produces four billion annually, more than any other single manufacturer. Industry consultants estimate the global condom market is worth US$6 billion (RM19.68 billion) in 2015, or about 27 billion condoms.

Karex’s condoms make up 15 per cent of the global market. With heightened awareness of safe sex, global demand is expected to grow at eight per cent annually.

When it comes to brand recognition, leading labels Durex (marketed by Reckitt Benckiser), Trojan (owned by Church & Dwight) and Lifestyles (by Ansell Ltd) make up 25 per cent of the world’s condom market. Apart from selling on volume, like all businesses, it is far more vital to add value so as to sell at premium pricing. This is underpinned by product development.to produce condoms in an assortment of colours, texture, shapes and flavours.

However, it is believed, that the “feel” of the condom keeps the customers coming back. The challenge is for manufacturers to come up with thin and yet durable condoms that can withstand punctures. 

According to the Guinness World Record, the Aoni condom is the world’s thinnest rubber measuring 0.036 millimetres. China’s Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products Ltd, that makes 200 million Aoni condoms annually, taking this “barely-there” tantalising title from Japan’s Okamoto Industries Inc’s thinnest variant of 0.038mm.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded US$100,000 in grant to the University of Manchester to develop nano composite materials for next-generation condoms. They are experimenting with a “miracle material” called graphene to make thinner and stronger condoms.

Graphene is 1 atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel.
 
Last week, Karex bought a 55 per cent stake in Boston-based Global Protection Corp for US$6.6 million. As brand owner of the ONE condom, Global Protection Corp granted exclusive rights to Karex to expand this “fun-loving” sensation into Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. ONE condom is now the fourth most popular brand after Durex, Trojan and Lifestyles.

In ramping up its capacity to six billion pieces by the end of 2015, Karex’s RM80 million eco-friendly factory is being built on a 7.3ha plot in Pontian, Johor. “When we combine utility savings and convert them to the all familiar carbon calculation, it’s a staggering 9,900 tonnes of
carbon dioxide avoidance into the air. That’s equivalent to the emissions of 29,000 cars in a year,” Karex said.

/Business Times, 05-10-2014

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Succession Planning OR Business Continuity Managment



A friend of mine was sharing with me that he is still searching for his successor. Having said that for at least a year or more, I was surprised that he is still not able to identify that someone.

I asked "why did it take so long, when he was voicing, with urgency, all the while, the need for a successor". The answer was " he was busy as he was wearing many different hats in his Company". Business is growing at accelerated pace and relevant resource is lacking.

Thus, he was greatly concerned that should any mishap happened to him, there would no one who would understand or continue to drive his business.

Thus, I said to him, was that "what he should have is not succession planning, at this stage,  BUT, "Business Continuity Management (BCM)" program in place."

Succession planning is essential, not only at the top level, eg the CEO, but also at all senior management level. Human talent must always be identified, trained and retained for organisation development and growth.

Business Continuity Management (BCM) is about, management of an Organisation when disaster strikes as a result of either natural (death of a CEO or a curfew imposed because of an earthquake, tsunami or disease eg Ebola etc) or other causes (riot, fire etc) .

BCM will then "kicks in" with "the level (grade) of response", "who should take charge", "who should be contacted in terms of priority", "how would the business be managed, how should the Company respond, who should communicate to the public and staff on the situation of the Company etc etc etc"

Thus, a responsible Organisation should have a BCM in place to manage disaster and to add "human value" and "order" in disaster management. The Organisation would definitely recover from speedily and maintain its integrity and image to the public and staff.

/12-09-2014

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IHH: Acquiring Singapore’s Radlink



IHH Healthcare Bhd is acquiring Radlink-Asia Pte Ltd from Fortis Healthcare Singapore Pte Ltd for RM346.5mil.

The company said its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary Medi-Rad Associates Ltd had entered into an agreement with Fortis Healthcare to acquire 100% equity interest in Radlink.

“The purchase consideration is subject to transactional adjustments which will only be determined upon completion of the proposed acquisition. The completion of the proposed acquisition is subject to satisfaction of certain conditions precedent, which include the Competition Commission of Singapore making a favourable decision in respect of the deal,” it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday.
Radlink is an investment holding company and its principal activity (through its subsidiaries) is the provision of healthcare services including the provision of outpatient diagnostic and molecular imaging services in Singapore.

The proposed acquisition is not expected to have any material effect on the earnings or net assets of the IHH group for the current financial year ending Dec 31.

IHH is the second largest hospital group in the world. It operates 37 hospitals with a combined capacity of more than 6,000 beds, employing more than 25,000 people.

It is on a roll to expand its presence in high-growth markets including India, China, ASEAN and the Middle East.

And with its Turkish partnership through Acibadem Holding, IHH is also eyeing to tap into central eastern Europe, central Asia and north Africa.

/theSTAR 13-09-2014


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Columbia Asia: 3 new hospitals in Malaysia by 2018



Columbia Asia, one of the largest healthcare providers in Southeast Asia and India, will be opening three new hospitals in Malaysia by 2018.

The new hospitals are part of the company's US$150 million (RM479.7 million) investment to expand its network to 34 hospitals and one clinic in four years.

The Columbia Asia hospital system, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, currently has five hospitals in the country with a sixth to open in 2016 and a seventh to open in 2017.
 
The company currently has more than 8,000 employees serving more than two million patients a year in 26 hospitals and one clinic in Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Columbia Asia opened four new hospitals in the last few months namely in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, in the Indonesian city of Semarang and in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, India.

In the next four years, the company said it will open eight more hospitals, three in Malaysia, three in India and two in Indonesia.

"No other healthcare provider in Asia has hospitals in as many countries operating under a single brand. Our goal is to continue to ensure all patients leave our hospitals cared for medically as well as feeling satisfied, respected and comforted," according to the newly appointed CEO of the brand's Asian network, John Northen.

Columbia Asia said its strategy was to create clusters of hospitals in large urban areas which allows the group to achieve operational and brand leverage across the market in each large city.

/theSUN 11-09-2014

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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