Malaysia: Average Salary increase of 5.7% in 2014

Malaysian employees are expected to see an average salary increase of 5.7% in 2014, higher than the national average salary increase of 5.3% this year, given the good growth prospects for local businesses going forward, according to a latest survey by Towers Watson.

Findings of the "2013 General Industry Total Rewards Survey – Malaysia" also found that employee turnover rate in the general industry in Malaysia has increased to 13.2% in 2013 from 12.3% last year."Manufacturing, conglomerates and financial services industries were experiencing high staff turnover, with manufacturing experiencing 24% employee churn, conglomerates at 14%, business process outsourcing at 19% and financial services at 13.3% this year," said Towers Watson in a statement yesterday, 30th October 2013

It attributed a key reason for the higher turnover rate in the Malaysian general industry to employees feeling that the economy will remain stable despite the uncertain global climate. "Another reason is that local organisations are also actively taking steps to improve their employee value proposition to attract top talent besides offering higher salaries and faster growth opportunities" said Towers Watson global data services practice leader for Southeast Asia, Sean Darilay in a statement yesterday.

He said an earlier Towers Watson's "2012 Global Workforce Study" revealed that 51% of Malaysian employees felt that they have to switch to another organisation to advance in their career or to achieve higher job level, with an "alarming" 83% of them willing to relocate to achieve this. "It is unsurprising that career development is a priority for employees in Malaysia where growth prospects are brighter. As the working class population expands, many young workers are demonstrating a strong desire to build a successful career in line with their aspirations to achieve a better quality of life," Darilay said.

"Employers should also recognise that while pay is still an important element in the equation, the key is to be able to design a comprehensive employee value proposition that balances different drivers and motivators of performance," he added.

Entry level salaries for fresh graduates increased by 8% in 2013 and ranges between RM2,400 and RM2,800 per month. In comparison to this, entry level salaries for MBA graduates range between RM2,600 and RM3,000 per month.

 The survey findings noted that positions in sales, information technology, finance, marketing and customer services/technical support remained as hot jobs. "This is due to the continuous need for organisations to strengthen their brand, improve sales leading to improved ROI and reduce operations costs by improving technology efficiency and productivity," Darilay said.

The "2013 General Industry Total Rewards Survey – Malaysia" saw over 350 organisations from across industries in Malaysia participating. It is an annual survey that provides insights into current compensation practises and trends in Malaysia, thereby aiding organisations to make informed decisions with respect to their total reward programmes.
Source: theSun 31-10-2013


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Expats rank Malaysia among best countries to work in

Under the Expat Economics section, the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2013, published recently, ranked Malaysia 14th out of a league table of 37 countries, commending its young and dynamic population and a growing economy. The HSBC Explorer Expat Survey 2013 compiled findings from about 7,000 expats worldwide.

Expatriates ranked Malaysia as one of the better places in the world to work in, with Malaysian work culture ranked second in the world, and Malaysians considered the fourth easiest country in which to make friends.

It ranked Malaysia 5th in the world in terms of household income, and 11th where expat satisfaction with the local economy was concerned. The country however fared poorly at 27th in terms of disposable income.

It said that expats were also "upbeat" about Malaysia's local economy, with 41% of them here believing that it was getting better, and that nearly eight in ten expats here were also satisfied with the local economy.

"As a result, few expats are looking to leave the country because of a negative economic outlook, only 15% compared to a global average of 25%," the study said.

The survey however ranked Malaysia's neighbours Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore better in terms of expat-related economics, ranking them 4th, 6th and 9th respectively.

Expats also seemed to be less taken with Malaysia as a second home. The country ranked 20th under the survey's Expat Experience list, behind Thailand and Singapore, which ranked 1st and 6th in the world respectively.

Expats, according to the survey's website, found it easy to make friends here (4th), though integrating into the community was another matter (27th). Organising healthcare was not a problem (5th) for expats, but access to quality healthcare was an issue (29th).

In terms of local work culture, the survey found Malaysia near the top at 2nd, though expats seemed to feel less welcome at work (32nd) than in other countries. A work/life balance was also a problem, with Malaysia at 31st on the list.

Learning and using the local language was also a challenge for expats here, with Malaysia ranking at 23rd and 29th respectively.

Malaysian food was also not seen in a good light. To expats, local cuisine was considered unhealthy (35th). Getting used to it was an issue (31st), and enjoying it appeared to be a problem (34th).

Many expats here however seemed to have a great social life (2nd) and tended to be very sporty (2nd). Also, 54% expats surveyed here believed that Malaysia had a higher quality of life, as opposed to a global average of 45%.

Malaysia could not be ranked under the survey's full list, included in the Expat Survey league table as there was not enough data over the raising of expat children.

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Lonely Planet: Travel list for 2014 and Malaysia is featured.

MALAYSIA has been chosen as one of the world’s Top 10 Countries for next year and the only Asian country to make the list. Lonely Planet has included it in it’s Best in Travel 2014 that is hot off the press.

It will be Visit Malaysia Year next year and besides her perennial attractions and new ones that have  been recently added, there will be all kinds of events and festivities to mark the occasion.

“Among new tourist attractions are the largest bird park in Southeast Asia in Malacca (with 6000 birds featuring 400 species), Legoland Malaysia and Hello Kitty Land in Nusajaya,” the book observes.

“The new second terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2), catering mainly to the booming budget-airline sector, is another major factor in attracting more visitors.”

The top three countries/regions listed are Brazil, Antarctica and Scotland in that order. Sweden, Malawi, Mexico, Seychelles, Belgium, Macedonia round it up with Malaysia ending the list.

Lonely Planet focuses on the merits of each destination and the unique experiences they offer to travellers. It features Malaysia as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2014.
Other 2014 highlights include:

• Top 10 Regions to visit: Sikkim, The Kimberley, Yorkshire, Hokuriku, Texas, Victoria Falls, Mallorca, West Coast New Zealand, Hunan and Ha’apai.

• Top 10 Cities to visit: Paris, Trinidad, Cape Town, Riga, Zürich, Shanghai, Vancouver, Chicago, Adelaide and Auckland.



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Malaysia: 6th spot in World Bank "Doing Business" report

Malaysia has surged to the sixth position among 189 economies in the latest World Bank Doing Business 2014 report, putting it ahead of economies such as South Korea, Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia and Finland.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia achieved this well ahead of its target to be among the top 10 by 2015. Last year, Malaysia was ranked 12th.

He said Malaysia achieved first position in Getting Credit and fourth in Protecting Investors six years in a row.

In the area of Trading Across Borders, Malaysia made a breakthrough to fifth position.

Other significant improvements made were in the areas of "starting a business", "“dealing with construction permits", "enforcing contracts", "resolving insolvency", and "getting electricity".

Mustapa said the World Bank further acknowledged that Malaysia was among the economies that improved the most across three or more doing business areas.

World Bank Group President Kim Jim Yong, who appointed an independent panel last year to review the Doing Business report after criticism about it from some of the bank's board members, said he would keep the rankings since they help countries improve their business climates - EPA Photo.
Singapore retained its No 1 spot in overall rankings for the eighth straight year, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand and the US.

The report judges 189 countries on 10 criteria, such as ease of opening a business and paying taxes, and assigns each country a rank. Since their inception in 2003, the rankings have come to carry a huge weight with governments eager to attract private enterprise.

"Doing Business is not about less regulation, but about better regulation," the World Bank said in the report.

Source: the STAR 29-10-2013

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Ringgit against the USD by end 2013 ?

MALAYSIA’S currency, along with several other regional currencies, has regained some lost ground in recent weeks after suffering a major sell-off between August and early September. Quoted at around 3.16 per US dollar as at Oct 24, 2013, the ringgit’s performance represented an appreciation of 5% from Aug 28 when the ringgit fell to a three-year low of 3.33 per unit of the greenback.

And now, analysts believe the direction for the ringgit towards the end of the year is only up, thanks to the return of foreign capital, as concern over the US Federal Reserve planning to wind down their quantitative easing (QE) programme subsides. RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd expects the ringgit to reach 3.10 per US dollar by the end of this year. This compared with the ringgit’s value at 3.05 against the greenback at the start of 2013. 

“The ringgit, however, is still vulnerable to global swing in risk appetite given that the US fiscal brinkmanship will likely come back to haunt the economy in the early part of the year and expectation of the QE tapering remains,” it warns.

Risks to outlook
According to ADB, economies in developing Asia, including Malaysia, in general face three major risks. These include increased volatility in global and regional financial markets due in particular to uncertainties over monetary and fiscal policies in advanced economies; a more pronounced slowdown in major regional economies, such as China, India and Indonesia, which will affect other economies within the region; and a disruption in the recovery of the Group of Three, or G3, economies, namely the United States, Europe and Japan.

According to ADB, developing Asia’s growth will likely slow slightly this year before picking up next year. In general, it expects developing Asia to grow 6% in 2013, slightly below the 6.1% growth last year, before recovering to a 6.2% growth in 2014.
Source: theSTAR 26-10-2013

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Malaysia Health Sector: Budget 2014

The government will provide free Peritoneal Dialysis machine, called the Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD), costing RM19,000 per unit, to patients with end state kidney failure to enable them to do the treatment at their own home.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the government realised the difficulty of patients with kidney failure in having to go to the haemodialysis centre for treatment three time a week and spent up to RM400 for each treatment.

The government would continue to provide quality health care and medical services for the people and was allocating RM22.1 billion for the health sector, he said when tabling the 2014 Budget in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said the allocation would be channelled for various programmes and projects, including the construction of Tanjung Karang Hospital and additional blocks for Jeli Hospital, as well as upgrading of the Kuala Lipis Hospital and 30 rural clinics. The government, he said, had set up 234 1Malaysia clinics and another 50 to be set up next year.

In addition, the government would allocate RM66 million for the purchase of equipment and the construction of additional blocks at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, he added.

"To improve the quality of nursing care and reduce the nurses' workload of working continuously in two shifts, the government will appoint 6,800 more nurses with an allocation of RM150 million," he added.

He said an allocation of RM3.3 billion would also be made for the purchase of medicine and medical equipment to ensure patients receive appropriate treatment, including expanding the cardiothoracic services in the Ipoh, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Kuching hospitals.

To address the shortage of parking lots at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, he said, a total of 1,950 new parking lots would be completed next year.

He said hospitals in Rompin and Tampin, as well as the National Cancer Institute, would be operational next year.


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Malaysia: Budget 2014

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), abolition of sugar subsidy, 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) and higher property taxes - these were the highlights of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's Budget 2014.

Najib, who presented his budget speech before Parliament on Friday, 25th October 2013, first shook the House when he announced that the hotly debated GST would be introduced from April 1, 2015 at a rate of 6%.
"With the implementation of GST, the Government will be able to address the weaknesses in the current taxation system.

"As an example, if we were to buy a carbonated drink in a restaurant today, we would not notice that we are paying double taxes, which are sales tax and service tax."With the GST system, consumers will only need to pay tax once and the price of goods should be cheaper," he added.

Najib, who said the 6% GST was the lowest in the Asean region compared with 10% in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Laos, and 7% in Singapore and Thailand, added that the Government would also provide a one-off payment of RM300 to BR1M households when GST was implemented. Essential food items will be exempted from GST.

Announcing other tax reductions to offset the introduction of GST, Najib said families with a monthly income of RM4,000 will no longer have any tax liabilities, with individual income tax rates being reduced by one to three percentage points for all taxpayers to increase their disposable income. This, he added, meant that 300,000 taxpayers will no longer pay income tax.

Najib said that certain essential items, however, would be exempted from GST - essential food items, transport services including toll payments, purchase and rental of residential properties and selected financial services.

GST will also not be imposed on basic food items, piped water supply, the first 200 units of electricity per month for domestic consumers, services provided by the Government such as issuance of passports and licences, health services and school education.

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Name Card

I was told by a friend, who travels extensively across the globe on business, that only in Asia that "you see name cards being frequently exchanged ..." Everybody seems to have name cards...

In a way, it's true. I can easily visualize the many occasions that I observed that cards are frequently exchanged, from a junior and up and coming executives, to mid and higher management staff in almost any settings viz; in a pub to restaurants, hotel lobbies, offices etc in this part of the world.

Personally, I believe that giving a name card to an acquaintance or friend is for practical reason as it facilitate follow-ups and opoortunitites. The card would also update your "address, place of work, status in the Company, your contact details ..."

Thus, in a way, your name card, "sells" and impresses upon the person, who received your card, as to your "standing or status" either socially or in business. I would therefore advise that it is of utmost importance, in business, that your name card be well designed and be attractive with all relevant details of "who you are".

"Why?" ... this was asked by a friend ... "and why the title or your position in the Company? I would prefer to have my name and leave out my position ..."

The rationale: " If you are under time constraint and need to make a quick decision to seek a business collaboration, what would you do? ... and you have 10 potential partners and their respective business cards are in front of you and you need to see only 3 for selection ... I am sure you would screen the 10 cards, picked the better of the 10 cards, study the names, the titles and positions of the respective individuals in the Companies etc ... Without hesitation and doubt you would select the person with the recognised responsibility and title in the company as you would like to speak to the right person for decision making ... Thus, lo and behold, if your name card is without your title and standing in the Company, though you may want to be humble, you may miss out the opportunity!"

Your name card is thus "you" when "you" are not physically available. Thus you have to be "attractive" even though you are not physically around.

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Asset bubble?

There is no reason to believe that Malaysia has seen the formation of an asset bubble that is about to burst, as the country has addressed many of the issues and risks related to it, says Central Bank Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

She said three series of macro prudential measures had been introduced to avoid the very risk of the formation of such a bubble asset.She was responding to a question on whether Malaysia was experiencing an asset bubble that would burst if China’s economy tumbled and as global interest rates rose, as reported recently by the foreign media.

“Conditions between now and in 1997/1998 are different. We are now on a growth path,” she told a press conference in conjunction with the South East Asian Central Banks (Seacen) 30th Anniversary Conference on Greater Financial Integration and Financial Stability and launch of the Seacen Financial Stability Journal, here yesterday.

Zeti said domestic demand was driving Malaysia’s economic growth and the country was not at the epicentre of the recent global financial crisis. “Our financial intermediaries remain resilient and the supply of credit was never disrupted,” she added. "This is the result of the focus over the last decade on financial reforms that have strengthened the foundation of our financial system".

Meanwhile, Zeti said the modernisation of the Asian financial system had been accompanied by a significant strengthening of the regulatory and supervisory frameworks. It had also been accompanied by improved financial safety nets, a more effective surveillance of financial stability risks and stronger legal underpinnings. “These reforms supported the transition towards more market-oriented financial systems that are anchored in stronger institutions, risk management capacity and governance,” she added.

“Significant strides also continue to be made in strengthening consumer protection frameworks, promoting financial inclusion, and enhancing market discipline,” she said.

She also said these developments continued to support the region through the recent episodes of turbulence in the global financial markets.
Source: theSTAR 21-10-2013


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Medical Tourism - Government driven

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) is a corporate agency under the Ministry of Health Malaysia. It was set-up to promote medical tourism. It currently has 72 top notched member facilities that provide tertiary care and offer procedures ranging from simple health screening to high end medical procedures like robotic surgery and the use of cyber knife in cancer treatments.

MHTC networks with stakeholders such as the airlines, insurance companies, travel agencies and health facilities for seamless medical travel experience for medical tourists.

All private healthcare facilities are required to be licensed under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and Private Healthcare and Services Regulations 2006. Many of the hospitals are accredited by either the National or International Bodies, recognised by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). Examples are the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) Standards, Joint Commission International (JCI) Hospital Accreditation Standards. 

Malaysia has gained popularity as a medical tourism destination of choice in the region as there was a significant increase of medical tourists coming to Malaysia for the last 3 years.

Malaysia received 392,000 healthcare travellers in 2010 and 671,000 in 2012, an accumulated growth rate of 63%

The competitive edge of Malaysia is that medical tourism industry is highly regulated by the government to ensure that foreign patients get quality and safe care. Apart from this, Malaysia also offers affordable pricing where the prices of procedures are capped and the same price applies to all medical tourists coming to Malaysia without discrimination.

Japan is one of the top 3 countries that receive the most medical tourists after Indonesia and India.

There has been a 20% growth in Japanese patients seeking medical treatment in Malaysia from 14,937 in 2010 to 17,775 in year 2012. There is an upward trend of medical tourists also coming from the western countries and the Asia region.


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Generic Medicines in Malaysia

Governments, the world over, are encouraging the prescriptions of generics in order to contain healthcare cost. In general, generics are normally priced lower than the innovator or proprietary brands. They could range from 80% to the lower percentile of 30% or less.

In order to move forward to ensure that the quality of the generics are not being compromised against the innovators', bioequivalent (BE) studies are now a prerequisite by the respective Health Authorities. Pharmacoeconomics must also be part of the evaluation as the "lowest priced drugs may not be the most cost effective". It must also be highlighted that there are other costs of healthcare that must be considered when dispensing generics as nursing and hospitalisation costs and loss of productivity of the patient if the recovery takes longer than necessary.

In Malaysia, a recent Study conducted by Assoc Prof Dr Mohamed Azmi Ahmad Hassali, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, which I quote: "had shown that by opting for generic medicines rather than branded ones, consumers can save up to 90 per cent of the cost for medication. Currently, many blockbuster drugs used to treat chronic diseases are available as generics because their patents have ended".

Many doctors, including the public, in general, have the perception that generic medicines are only meant for poor countries and are of poor quality. From surveys done across the globe, even in developed countries, more than 80 per cent of generics are being prescribed such as in the United States, Britain, Germany and France.

According to  Dr Azmi, " ... the challenge is to change the mindset of medical practitioners, especially in the private sector towards the use of generic medicines. A study conducted among private practitioners in Perak found that the majority of the doctors surveyed, 58 per cent of the 105 physicians, doubted the efficacy and quality of generic medicines".

"In Malaysia, the use of generic medicines is mandated in the National Medicine Policy and the Health Ministry is taking proactive steps in encouraging its wider use. The Health Ministry, through its Pharmaceutical Services Division, had taken a bold step by launching the Generic Medicines Awareness Programme (GMAP) road-shows nationwide to engage doctors in the public and private sectors".

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National Medicines Policy 2013 - 2017

Having just participated in the workshop for the Malaysian National Medicines Policy (MNMP) or  DUNas (Dasar Ubat Nasional) in Bahasa Malaysia for short, it is to be highlighted that there are 5 components to this 2nd Edition of the Policy which covers the years 2013 to 2017.

The 5 components are 1) Governance in Medicines 2) Quality, Safety & Efficacy of Medicines 3.1) Access to Medicines 3.2) Affordability of Medicines 4) Quality Use of Medicines 5) Partnership and Collaboration for the Healthcare Industry.

Basically this National Policy is to encourage and ensure the successful and healthy development of the domestic Pharmaceutical Industry and to encourage exports to the global markets. It will also ensure that all Malaysians will be able to access to quality, safe and efficacious essential medicines at affordable prices, and, with informed choices.

The workshop, was conducted "off-site", over a period of 4 days and 3 nights, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This is to facilitate quality output in the designing of the implementation plans.

The workshop brought together all the relevant healthcare stakeholders to explore, accelerate, enable and facilitate this national agenda. This workshop, driven by the Ministry of Health is in addition to the effort and activities under the NKEA program under the auspices of the PEMANDU unit in the Prime Minister's department.

I believe Malaysia has the talent, resources, skill, knowledge and technology know-how to transform and drive towards realising this Policy. The critical success factors are in the implementation and with the support of all parties.

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Dentists Shortage?

Malaysia is still in need of more than 5,000 dentists in order to achieve the desired ratio.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said currently the country has 4,558 dentists and of that figure 58% of them were serving at government hospitals and clinics.

“The current ratio is one dentist to 6,436 residents,” Dr Subramaniam said, adding the ministry hoped to achieve the target of 1:3,000 by 2020.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry has been working closely with universities to increase the intake of dentistry students.He said last year saw the graduation of 315 dentistry students and the number increased to 815 this year.

“And we are expecting the passing out of another 1,100 students next year,” he said at the “My Teeth My Pearl” Oral Health Carnival officiated by the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor at a shopping mall here yesterday.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry has also launched the oral health programme at 874 kindergartens, involving 17,722 children, last year.

He said there were a total of 50 dental clinics and a mobile dental unit in the country. Apart from this, dental departments have also been set up at 929 schools, 570 health clinics and 65 hospitals.
According to research conducted in 2005, Rosmah said, some 76.2% children have dental caries problem and each child has an average of six cavities.“This problem is worrying, but it can be prevented by taking care of oral health from infancy,” she added.
Source: theSTAR 07-10-2013

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All in the Head?

"The Company has all along the Vision of moving the Company forward. It is not right to say that we do not have the Vision!".

Many self-made successful entrepreneurs, new "start-ups" and even small to medium size Companies have their respective Corporate Visions ... BUT in their "heads". Other than a few key leaders, the rest of the staff within the Organisations are oblivious to the Vision.

Thus there is a definite disconnect between the leaders and the staff. There will be time, finance, effort, output inefficiency and  productivity against the Company's unannounced "Vision" which are only known to a few.

Thus , we observe the unconscious development of dysfunctional teams with each assuming that they are aligned in the right direction in business growth and development. Nothing is further from the truth.

To map, align, accelerate and successfully achieve business growth and development, all staff within the Company must know, understand and embrace with deliberate conscious effort to strive towards achieving the Company's Vision and Mission objectives within, if not earliest, time frame.

There will definitely be coherent and cohesive Teams which speaks the same language from the same platform, with enthusiasm and energy, driving towards achieving the objectives.

Thus, having a Vision & Mission Statement is not enough. It must be communicated to ALL levels of staff in the Organisation. Programs and activities, with the right Values, be inculcated and built into the Organisation for optimal results and a high performance culture.

Do seek professional assistance if need to.

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The cost of medical technology !

Someone sent me, through an email, which I reproduced herewith. I am sure we can all relate to ... Enjoy!

"A woman brought a very limp duck to a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet
pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, "I'm sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away."

The distressed woman wailed, "Are you sure?" "Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead," replied the
vet. "How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room.

He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on
in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately
sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck."

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman. The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill.

"$150!" she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!"

The vet shrugged, "I'm sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it's now $150."

You know the drill..."

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