An Entrepreneur in kopitiam



I was having lunch the other day in a family owned kopitiam (Chinese colloquial for coffee shop serving drinks and food). Like all "mom-and-pop" kopitiams around him, in rows of shop lots in many blooming housing estates around the city, the food menus are almost similar, including the prices as well. I was pleasantly happy that he differentiates himself by applying "marketing concepts" to gain customer share and therefore revenue volume.

This enterprising young man is a new player in the kopitiam business. The former "owner" of the kopitiam had decided to call it a day and this young man, whom I would like to call "M", decided to "take-over" and run the business.

Could he survive as the former "owner" did not do too well.

My last count was that, there were at least 10 food outlets within a 300 metres radius of him. A small numbers were jam-packed with customers, whilst a larger number barely hits half the numbers, even one third, of the former.

"M" was bold and creative. He even brought in a famous "laksa mobile" unit to display outside his kopitiam for a few weeks during the launch of his kopitiam. That attracted attention and brought in the crowd. Food prices were at competitive rates like the others around him. As for the food quality there is no great difference from the rest. However, the "advertising" of the "laksa mobile" unit worked for him.

He is now starting a random "once-a- week" surprise for his customers. When I was there the other day, I ordered a plate of fried rice and ... surprise, I do not have to pay for my glass of Chinese tea!

M intends to have "special price discount", "free dessert" etc as surprise for each week ... so, I would anticipate, customers looking forward to visit his kopitiam for food and waiting to be surprised as well!

M told me that he learnt about special surprises by observing other practitioners of other trades ... these are marketing ideas, I said to him ... common sense la ... he replied!

I believe he will quickly prosper!

28-08-2015

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Malaysia: Top 15 in competitiveness



Malaysia retained its ranking among the top 15 nations in the latest World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015 (WCY) compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD), based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, in a statement yesterday, said the report ranked Malaysia 14th among 61 countries – ahead of countries such as the Netherlands (15), Ireland (16), New Zealand (17), Australia (18), the United Kingdom (19), Finland (20), Korea (25) and Japan (27).

“We were ranked 14th (from 12th previously), in a group that includes the United States, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada, Norway, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, together with Hong Kong and Taiwan,” he said.

Although Malaysia’s ranking declined by two positions in the latest report, he said, being placed in the top 15 globally among the most competitive nations indicates the country’s economic resilience and competitiveness.

“Continuing fiscal reforms, initiatives to control the rising cost of living, diversification of the economy, upskilling of capabilities and expertise, review of the education system, reforming and modernising the tax system through GST will enable Malaysia to remain globally competitive,” Mustapa said.

The WCY listed Malaysia as first among 30 economies with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita less than US$20,000, retaining its previous position.

Among 28 countries with populations above 20 million, Malaysia was ranked 5th. In Asean, Malaysia remains in second position, and is ranked fourth among the 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mustapa added that Malaysia’s achievement was all the more notable given the current global economic environment and testified to the efficacy of the policies and processes implemented under the Government Transformation Programme and the Economic Transformation Programme.

“We are totally focused on increasing productivity, encouraging innovation and facilitating the ease of doing business. These are the factors that can help sustain Malaysia’s economic performance in our aspiration to become a high-income economy by 2020."

The WCY 2015 assessed countries based on four competitiveness factors - economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

Among the four factors, Malaysia recorded improvement in the economic performance indicator, moving three positions up to sixth from ninth in 2014.

This is supported by the significant improvements recorded under the domestic economy, 15th (2014: 19th) and employment, 7th (2014: 12th) sub-factors, as well as sustaining top ten positions in Prices, 3rd (2014: 3rd) and international investment, 8th (2014: 7th).

Dato’ Sri Mustapa added that this year’s WCY shows that Business Efficiency is a critical determining factor in enhancing competitiveness. “As emphasized by IMD, business efficiency requires greater productivity and the competitiveness of countries is greatly linked to the ability of enterprises to remain profitable over time. Increasing productivity remains a fundamental challenge for all countries,” he said.

 /theSUN 28-08-2015


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Malaysia: Moratorium on Medical Schools



The ban on new medical programmes is expected to continue for at least another five years.

The Health Ministry and the Education Ministry are preparing a memorandum for the Cabinet to continue with the ban, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

The current ban began in May 2011 and will expire on April 30 2016.

The move was to prevent the rapid increase in medical graduates and put the brakes on the rise in the number of housemen which is projected to about 5000 graduates per annum!

“This time around, we not only want to extend the ban, but to also tighten the entry requirements for medical courses,” he said.

The ban is applicable to existing medical programmes in Malaysia’s 10 public universities, 12 local private providers, foreign medical schools and Malaysians studying medicine at about 50 accredited foreign universities.

Malaysia aims to have a doctor-patient ratio of 1:400 by 2020, a figure often regarded as the benchmark for a developed nation.

Dr Subramaniam noted that the ratio of housemen to patients was 1:4, compared to 1:10 in 2005.

He said that although the ratio was reduced, exposure to patients on the whole was almost the same because of the flexi-hour system, and increase in patients, specialists, hospitals and housemen’s exposure in specialist clinics, daily treatment centres, operating theatres, among ­others.

At the moment, housemen intake is being done every two months.

/theSTAR 28-08-2015


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Dengue Vaccine: Latest Update, May 2015



Dengue cases reached an all-time high of nearly 100,000 last year.

The plan to release genetically altered male Aedes mosquitoes so that they cannot breed with wild females has proven too costly and impractical.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the genetically changed mosquitoes were only useful in small areas but “dengue is all over the place” in Malaysia. “We would have to flood the country with huge numbers of mosquitoes."

“We are concerned because nobody has studied the ecological effects of releasing such a huge number of genetically changed mosquitoes”

The genetic modification of Aedes came from Oxford University and Malaysia’s Institute of Medical Research tested it in the laboratory in 2006.

Another plan for a dengue vaccine by a pharmaceutical company which was slated to be marketed next month was shot down by the Health Ministry since it was not satisfied with the research data.

Speaking to reporters after launching the 9th National Conference for Clinical Research here yesterday, Dr Subramaniam also said the dengue vaccine’s clinical trials were completed and the pharmaceutical company wanted to market it.

“But the research data they gave us is not enough for us to use the vaccine on a large scale.
“We are back to square one with dengue research,” he said.

He said Malaysia had to take the lead in dengue research. “We cannot rely on developed nations for medical discoveries which tend to be skewed towards issues they face.

“Malaysia has our own set of medical problems so we need to scale up our research,” he said.

/theSTAR 28-08-2015


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11th Malaysia Plan: Healthcare Sevices & Facilities



Malaysia will have a 1:400 doctor to population ratio by the year 2020 with the healthcare system improved through various strategies under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11th MP).

The upcoming five years will also see the ratio of hospital beds to the population being reduced to 2.3 beds per 1,000 population, thus enabling more people to enjoy access to quality healthcare either in public or private facilities.

The targets will be realised through the extension of services to the under-deserved communities, especially the poor and low-income households, Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia as well as the people in the rural and remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak.

These targets and approaches are among those listed in the 11MP, carrying the theme ‘Anchoring Growth on People’ .

The measures include the deployment of more specialists and skilled personnel, the establishment of additional healthcare facilities in the areas of greatest need, and the expansion of outreach programmes.

The five-year plan also projects the upgrading of selected clinics into advanced clinics that provide a full range of multi-disciplinary services to enhance and support primary healthcare teams.

To improve the health delivery system, the government will review and formulate health legislation and intensify enforcement through strengthened coordination between government agencies and the private sector.

For example, the government will consolidate health-related enforcement units in areas such as pharmaceuticals, disease control, food safety, hygiene and cleanliness, as well as medical practice and professionalism.

The government will implement the e-Health strategy, which incorporates existing ICT systems into one system-wide model to enhance health data management, and supports research, development and commercialisation initiatives.

The report also says that the concept of cluster hospitals would be implemented in selected locations, where hospitals within the same geographical location would work as one unit, sharing resources such as assets, amenities and human resources.
/Bernama 21-05-2015


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Malaysia: 11th Malaysia Plan - Quick Take




This is the second five-year plan presented by PM Najib Abdul Razak, the first being in 2010.

The 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) will be the last before the Country achieves the developed nation status in 2020.

Following are the highlights of the 11MP.

AT A GLANCE

- ECONOMIC OUTLOOK - Forecasted 5 to 6% real GDP growth from 2016 to 2020.

- INFLATION - To remain below 3% from 2016 to 2020.

- PRIVATE INVESTMENT - Growth forecasted at 9.4 percent between 2016 to 2020, estimated at RM291 billion annually.

- GROSS EXPORTS - Forecasted growth at 4.6% between 2016 to 2020. Trade balance surplus at RM57.3 billion by 2020.

- GST - Collection forecasted at RM157 billion over five years.

- GOVERNMENT DEBT - To drop below 45% by 2020.

- OIL DEPENDENCY - Dependence on oil-related revenue to drop to 15% by 2020.

- EMPLOYMENT - More than 35% of those employed will comprise skilled workers by 2020.


SALIENT POINTS: The Plan reaffirms the government's commitment to the people, and the belief that growth cannot be measured by economic success alone.
  • It reckons that the well-being of the rakyat and a commitment inclusive and sustainable growth are necessary hallmarks of an advance nation.
     
  •  The Economy to benefit from more robust global economic prospects, recovery of commodity prices and benign global inflation.
  • 11MP also looks beyond 2020 with Malaysia to remain as an open economy, regionally and globally integrated post-2020
 Malaysia's GDP to hit a whopping RM2.6 trillion in 2030 (RM1.4 trillion in 2020).
  • More than 40 percent of total employment will comprise skilled workers in 2030 (2020: 35%).
  • The GDP per capita is projected to more than double to RM117,260 in 2030 (2020:RM54,890).
  • World trade is estimated to grow to US$44 trillion in 2030 (US$26 trillion forecast in 2020).
  • 11MP targets the real Gross Domestic Product to expand at 5.6 percent per annum.
  • Labour productivity to increase to RM92,300 in 2020 (2015:RM77,100).
  • Gross National Income (GNI) per capita to reach RM54,100 (US$15,690) in 2020.
  • Average monthly household income to increase to RM10,540 in 2020 (2014: RM6,141)
     
  • The share of compensation of employees to GDP to increase to at least 40 percent in 2020;(2015: 34.9%).
  • The Malaysian Well-being Index to increase by 17% per annum, an indicator of improvement in the well-being of the rakyat.
  • Inflation to remain below 3.0%.
  • 1.5 million jobs to be created by 2020.
  • Growth would be driven by the private sector, with private investment expanding at 9.4% per annum.
  • Manufacturing and services sectors to contribute more than 75% of the GDP.
  • Balance of payment projected to remain in surplus at 2.6% of GNI.
     
  • The federal government's total debt to further decline to below 45% by 2020.
  • Revenue to expand by 7.9% per annum and the dependence on oil-related revenue to decline to 15.5% by 2020.
  • The introduction of GST will bring in a revenue of RM31.4 billion per annum over the next five years, compared with RM15.5 billion collected through the sales and services tax during the 10MP.
     
  • Literacy rate has increased to 98%, from 75% in 1970.
     
  • National GINI Ratio-to-Contract to 0.385 in 2020, from 0.401 in 2014.
     
  • Poverty rate dropped to 0.6% in 2014, from 49.3% in 1970.
     
  • Govt eyes average household income of over RM5,000 per month for "bottom 40%" group by 2020.
     
  • New power plants to be built at an estimated cost of RM28 billion, generate 7,626 MW of electricity and create 35,000 jobs under 11MP.
     
  • All five regional development corridors attracted RM307 bln in investments between 2011 and 2014.
     
  • Malaysia will develop four major cities,namely Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baharu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, as growth catalystcities in order to maximise benefits for the residents and to stimulate national development.
     
  • Size of country's middle-class expected to increase to 45% by 2020.           
11MP: Six strategic thrusts:

1) Enhancing inclusiveness towards an equitable society;

2) Improving well-being for all;

3) Accelerating human capital development for an advanced nation;

4) Pursuing green growth for sustainability and resilience;

5) Strengthening infrastructure to support economic expansion; and

6) Re-engineering growth for greater prosperity.

 /Malaysiakini 21-05-2015

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Malaysia: 11th Malaysia Plan 2016 - 2020



The Government targets the economy to expand between 5% and 6% during the five-year period of the 11th Malaysia Plan, based on sustained domestic demand and increasing contribution from the external sector.
It achieved a 5.3% growth per year during the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015) period, against the 6.0% original target.
On-going structural reforms will strengthen the foundation for economic expansion, including innovation and productivity improvements. This will in turn provide further impetus for growth, higher national per capita and household incomes as well as increased wellbeing of the rakyat . 
 
Monetary and fiscal policies will be implemented to ensure stable prices, exchange rates, and interest rates. 
Private sector investment will be encouraged to modernise key economic sectors, and the services sector in particular will pivot to focus on high-value, knowledge-intensive services. 
Importantly, the Federal Government will balance its fiscal position by 2020 by strengthening the tax base and improving the decision-making process of development allocation for proposed programmes or projects. Fiscal deficit will be reduced from 3.2% to 0.6% by 2020.
As for exports, it would be underpinned by improving product competitiveness, promoting exports of services, and diversifying markets, thus maintaining a surplus in the external account. 
 
Productivity improvements through enhanced capital efficiency and the contribution of multi-factor productivity (MFP) - productivity from multiple inputs - will be crucial for the nation’s economic growth.
Also, the economy is expected to benefit from more robust global economic prospects, recovery of commodity prices and benign global inflation.
The six multidimensional goals have been identified for the Plan are: 
1) Real GDP to expand at 5%-6% per annum.
2) Labour productivity to increase from RM77,100 in 2015 to RM92,300 in 2020.
3) Gross national income per capita to reach RM54,100 (US$15,690) in 2020.
4) Average monthly household income to increase from RM6,141 in 2014 to RM10,540 in 2020.
5) Share of compensation of employees to GDP to increase from 34.9% in 2015 to at least 40% in 2020.
6) Malaysian Wellbeing Index (MWI ),  an indicator of improvement in the wellbeing of the rakyat, is expected to increase by 1.7% per annum,. The index, with year 2000 as the base year, rose by 25.4 points up to 2012, representing a 1.9% growth per year, says the inaugural Malaysian Well-being Report 2013.

/theSTAR 21-05-2015

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Dispensing Separation - the Community must be involved!



The Health Minister had recently made an announcement that the Pharmacy Bill will be on hold until all relevant stakeholders had been consulted.

Dispensing Separation - Who are these stakeholders the Minister is referring to? In my mind, they are the Medical doctors, Dental surgeons and the Veterinary Surgeons. They all "diagnose and treat ailments" and are prescribers of medicines and collectively called "Doctors".

In fact these three professions had lately jointly signed a Memorandum expressing their displeasure and unhappiness over the Pharmacy Bill.

The Bill does not explicitly mention "Dispensing Separation". The Bill, defines the role, function and requirements for storing, delivery  and dispensing of medicines. Thus, once the Bill becomes an Act passed by Parliament, by default, "Dispensing Separation" kicks in.

All parties, the doctors and the pharmacists, in their arguments "against and for" Dispensing Separation respectively, had given the reasons or concerns for costs, convenience, better health delivery and patient outcome.

Yet, in my opinion, nobody had asked the patients whether they are for or against "Dispensing Separation". Yes, there are "sporadic and fragmented responses" and views from various consumer groups, political representatives etc BUT do they represent the patients at large? All parties claim to be "experts" of the subject matter!

In fact, the individual patient and consumer or the lay public at large, are confused with the arguments of the professionals or consumer associations, who claim to represent their interest ... or they are swayed by prejudices by whom they chose to listen and believe...

Is there a solution? I propose that stakeholders, including patient groups, be brought together in a organised manner, to understand the rationale for "Dispensing Separation", have a good debate in order to understand, map out options and agree on the best way forward or drop the idea for Dispensing Separation! Or even having a public survey to educate, gauge or gathering responses ... This could be done  through traditional or, in today's technology driven age, social media.

A structured, organised and methodical approach will minimise confusion and direct the way forward. Someone must take the lead!
 /19-05-2015


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