“Malaysia ‘s Economic Growth Probably weakened as Exports slowed”

Posting a write-up from Bloomberg news:

Malaysia’s Economic Growth Probably Weakened as Exports Slowed

27-02-2007

Media : Bloomberg
Story By : Stephanie Phang

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) — Malaysia’s economy probably grew at the slowest pace in a year in the fourth quarter as exports eased amid faltering demand from markets such as the U.S., and holidays curbed production at factories.

Malaysia’s $147 billion economy expanded 5.6 percent in the three months ended December from a year earlier after gaining 5.8 percent in the third quarter, according to the median forecast of 21 economists surveyed by
Bloomberg News. The data is due at 6 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.

“Production as well as exports declined significantly in the fourth quarter and this will definitely affect growth,” said Imran Nurginias Ibrahim, an economist at MIDF Amanah Investment Bank in Kuala Lumpur. “Slower external demand will affect output and the manufacturing sector” this year.

Slowing growth in the U.S., Malaysia’s largest overseas market, is curbing demand for goods such as Intel Corp. semiconductors and Dell Inc. notebook computers that are produced in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy. The
pace of expansion in the U.S. may ease to 2.7 percent this year from 3.4 percent in 2006, the White House said Feb. 5.

Cooling global growth is also hurting other Asian electronics exporters. South Korea’s government expects growth to ease to 4.5 percent this year
from 5 percent in 2006 due to a slowdown in global growth. Exports, which account for about two- fifths of South Korea’s economy, may rise at the slowest rate in five years in 2007, the commerce ministry said last month.

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“Malaysia may face long wait for US trade deal”

Posting a news from AFP:  

Malaysia may face long wait for US trade deal: envoy
February 27, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia will face a long wait for a free trade deal with the United States if the countries fail to conclude current negotiations before a crucial deadline, the US envoy here warned on Tuesday.

The two countries have held five rounds of talks for a free trade agreement (FTA), but negotiations have bogged down over 58 unresolved issues with no further rounds scheduled yet.

Washington must conclude the FTA by the end of March to give the US Congress the requisite three months to consider the deal, and the ‘window of opportunity’ is closing, said the US Ambassador to Malaysia, Christopher LaFleur.

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Success story of a Bumi CEO

I was pleasantly surprised that MAS has managed to achieve a net profit in its fourth quarter last year , as reported in the papers today. The profit, RM122 mil, was better than expected.

mas.jpg(from skthew.com)

This is a full year after MAS has a change in CEO, or in this case, it is known as managing director. Idris Jala, a Sarawakian Bumi, was appointed in December 2005. He immediately instituted a Business Turn Around plan which has shown results, all within a year, faster than most of us expected. This is no easy task because MAS is not just a business entity. There is so much of pressure and interference from politicians too.

The ground people have remained the same, the crew has remained the same, the managers in offices also the same. What makes the difference in this case is truly the leadership and the caliber of the Chief, the managing director.

This reminds me of Lee Iacocca who turned around then the third biggest car manufacturer in the States in the eighties. His story of success was published and became a world best seller.

The success of Idris Jala, in turning around the ailing MAS within a year, is true example of a Bumiputra success story. Idris Jala was never employed in government sector. Instead ,  before this appointment, he worked for a multinational, Shell, where only meritocracy and good results count. Despite the competition from non Bumi and other Bumi in the company, he was able to rise up the corporate ladders in Shell and became one of the top executives of Shell before he was asked to assume the present post. To climb up the ladder in any multi national company, you have indeed had to be very good. That really shows his caliber.

This confirms what I always believe. In order to excel, you need to go through a competitive environment and only by doing so, can a person’s true potential be cultivated and realised.

If Idris Jala can be successful, so can all others Bumiputra provided they are willing to go through fair  competition and meritocracy. I have mentioned a success story of a Malay Entrepreneur in New York earlier in my blog, how this fellow managed to become a big tauke in New York against all other competition, purely on his own merits.

To make our Bumi brothers fully capable of standing on their own and excel, perhaps the first thing to do is to introduce  true meritocracy in schools and matriculation. Headmasters of schools, university lecturers and professors should  be appointed on their merits, their results and perhaps  their published work (in the case of professors).  Only by doing this , can we start to cultivate a culture of competitiveness, a culture of excellence in schools and tertiary education.

At the same time, we can slowly remove the clutches in the economic field, government services etc. By slowly doing that, a new generation of competitive Bumi can be produced and I am sure a lot of them will be better than many of the Chinaman and the Indian traders.  

What we need is just the political will to institute change and to arrest the deteriorating academic as well as work standard.

I am sure if we do that, we could have unearthed many worthy Bumi talents , both in academic fields as well as in the business arena.

The Power of Advertisements

Recently, there was a suggestion to ban all fast food advertisements on TV. I would not like to go into the debate of whether such a step is necessary. I would only advise that anything in excess is no good. Even local food such as nasi lemak and fried koay teow cannot be taken very often without causing the blood lipids to rise.

This suggestion has reminded me of another advertisement which could have very bad impact on younger generations. This is the advertisement of a credit card by a bank.

A father and a son went shopping  into a sports shop. The son looked at a Manchester United T- shirt and showed his interest in that shirt. But when he looked at the price tag which read RM145.00, he put back  the shirt and walked away. The next scene showed that he was looking at another shirt costing slightly over RM10.00. (This is actually the type of behaviour that we should promote).

Meanwhile the father secretly asked the sales girl to wrap up the MU T-shirt and when the son looked , he flipped out his credit card from so-and-so bank and used the card to make the purchase of the RM145 shirt. The next scene showed the son was very happy and father was very happy and the sales girl was very happy. Everybody was very happy!

But wait a minute!!

This advertisement may want to portray the strength and the prestige of that particular bank card, but inadvertently, it has also sent a message saying that it is alright to buy branded items; it is alright to pamper the kids;it is alright to be extravagant. This is  a message of extravagance which we should not encourage our younger generations.

Children should be taught to be thrifty and careful in spending, and not to encourage them by showing over the air an advertisement buying a T-shirt costing RM145.00 (over one which is RM10) which is the equivalent of a month’s food bill for some labourers.

Children’s minds are very susceptible to influence of extravagance. I suspect the extravagant lifestyle and spending habits of many of the newer generations can be traced to the influence of this type of advertisements. Little wonder that Bank Negara has reported that many people among the younger generations are bankrupts from inability to pay off their credit card purchases. The trend of this type of bankruptcies is increasing rapidly and that is frightening as well as worrying.

I always marvel at the fantastic ideas that modern advertising companies can come out with. Most of the advertisements are a pleasure to watch and we can actually learn quite a bit from their creativity. Nevertheless, they have to be careful when doing an advertisement which can influence the kids’ minds.

They owe it to their social responsibilities to produce advertisements with good morals and good behaviours.

Multilingualism boosts competitiveness

newly released study for European Commission, done by  UK National Centre for Languages, claims that having more language skills in its workers actually boosts the competitiveness of a company, especially small and medium companies seeking to expand. This is especially crucial in Europe, which has one of the biggest internal market of almost a billion people. Investing in language skills can dramatically improves a company’s business opportunities. The study finds that although English is important, there is a need for a range of languages if business relationship is too be built successfully. The range of languages includes  German, French , Spanish as well as Mandarin, Arabic and Russian .

Knowing more languages improves a person’s mindsets, outlook as well as inter-cultural skills. By acquiring the ability to speak another language, a person invariably learns more about the culture of the people speaking that language. Knowledge, in any form, broadens a person’s perspective, so by knowing more about that ethnic group, the ability to mix with that particular ethnic group improves, and it is easier to gain trust which is the cornerstone of any business relationship.

Malaysia are lucky because we have the background of multiculturalism and multilingualism, right before the time of Merdeka. Many of us speak not only English, but also Malay, Mandarin. Besides, many Chinese Malaysian speak so many Chinese dialects that even the Chinese from China is amazed by our skills. It has enabled many of the local companies to expand into the China market, as well as many companies to import goods from that country. Even many Malay, especially the older generation, speak two languages, English and Malay.  Many Malays are also educated in Chinese primary schools and this group can speak as many languages and dialects as a Chinese Malaysian.

However, it is a fact that many younger Malay has lost the advantage of speaking English. Many of them, even university graduates, cannot understand simple English phrases and words. They are lucky because they can still find employment in government services. But with the service getting saturated, in order to gain employment, they must improve their language as well as intercultural skills.

 Private sectors, which is highly competitive, naturally would prefer a person who is multilingual over one who speaks only a single language. That is because in order to survive and prosper, private companies need to be highly competitive. This has just been confirmed by the research from Europe that multilingualism improves competitiveness.

So,  the only way forward for this group of monolingual Malay graduates is to improve their language skill. They should and must learn an additional language, either Mandarin, English or even Japanese or Thai. That way, they increase their own marketability and employment prospects.

Government policy trying to absorb as many of these monolingual people into civil service  may actually backfire. It may make this group of people less willing to learn another language or skill. One way to motivate this group to improve is to  make it an requirement that any Division A and B officer entering the civil service must be multilingual. . That will motivate this monolingual group to acquire an extra language skill, because as I see it, necessity is not only the mother of invention, but also the mother of “learning”. It may be painful in the short term, but in the long run, everyone benefits.

An indulgent parent spoils his/her kids. An indulgent government will also spoil its people. To excel, certain policies need to be corrected and the people need to be toughened.

Chinese song “Endless Love” & Korean song “Reason”

Though today I have started work, I am still in festive mood. So I will post something light like the previous posting “music and lyrics”. This one is a Chinese song “Endless Love” sung by  Jackie Chan and the Korean actress Kim Hee SUn. This song is from the movie “The Myth”. Jackie Chan is actually quite good as a singer and that is how talented he is.

For the music sheet of this song, please go to the page music score. It is in .pdf format.

The video is as followed:

 thanks to bebeann.

I am also posting a video of the song “reason” , a sad song featured in the hit Korean drama “Autumn in my Heart”.

“Music and lyrics” – a nice movie

This holiday season, as an avid cinema goer, i have seen several shows. One which I would like to recommend to you is a comedy and love story ” music and lyrics”, starring the British actor Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore , who acted in another of my favorite  comedies ” the 50 1st date”. She is better known as one of the “Charlie’s Angels”.

What I like this  comedy is that it has no violence, no foul languages; there is an inspiring love story, a girl who stands by her principles and ultimately everyone sees her point and good ending. As a music lover, I like the piano music, especially the song ” way back into love”. This song is now one of the top hit songs in US, just after the release of the movie.

I will post 2 videos here. The first one will be “Don’t write me off”, the song at the end of the movie. The 2nd one will be “Way back into love”

Next I will post the full version of “Way back into love”  (For music sheets of both songs, pls go to the page “music scores” just below the header of this blog):

For those who like to sing along, the lyrics (thanks to Haley1012) is as followed:

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