Sunday, April 1st, 2018


Bahrain says its biggest oil find since 1932 dwarfs reserves

DUBAI, April 1 — Bahrain, the smallest energy producer in the Persian Gulf, discovered its biggest oil field since it started producing crude in 1932, according to the country’s official news agency. The shale oil and natural gas discovered…

Dubai’s Damac is said to hire Barclays, HSBC for possible sukuk

DUBAI, April 1 — Damac Properties Dubai Co hired banks including Barclays Plc and HSBC Bank Plc for a possible sale of US dollar-denominated Islamic bonds, according to people familiar with the matter. The second-largest listed real estate…

EDF, IBM warn UK of shortages, risks after Brexit, Mail says

LONDON, April 1 — Electricite de France SA is among companies warning the UK government about significant threats to their businesses after the UK leaves the European Union, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday, citing confidential…

‘Go digital to improve civil service efficiency’

PETALING JAYA: Standing at a size of 1.62 million, the question of Malaysia’s civil service being bloated has been raised time and again, while downsizing is not on the cards, digitalisation may be the way to go when it comes to improving efficiency and productivity.

Socio-Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie told SunBiz that while electronic-government (e-government) services have already been in place, there is a need to step up the efforts in that segment. This, he said will eventually lead to the rationalisation of the size of the manpower.

“As we move towards the fast pace of technology digitalisation and anything related to electronic, artificial intelligence or the sharing economy concept … the number of people to serve the population may not be as large as what we are seeing now,” he said.

Bank Negara Malaysia noted in its 2017 Annual Report that transforming the economy to become a digital frontrunner could generate significant additional growth dividends of between US$100-US$136 billion (RM386-RM525 billion) annually by 2025.

While the application of technology may be instrumental in improving efficiency, it could also result in job displacement.

In that light, Lee said there is a need for both the government and the corporate sector to relook what is considered as the right and lean workforce size, on the backdrop of issues such as displacement and structural unemployment resulting from the advancement of technology.

He added that while the government has taken steps such as hiring for critical posts only, it should also be considering implementation of performance-based incentives and probationary periods.

Sunway University Business School Professor of Economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng said besides enhancing skills, quality of governance and organisational effectiveness, the adoption of Industrial Revolution 4.0 in the public sector through digitalisation, automation, machine learning, data analytics and big data will help to raise productivity and efficiency and effectiveness of public services delivery.

“We already have a number of internationally acclaimed public service institutions such as the Employees Provident Fund for pension fund management, Bank Negara Malaysia for monetary and financial management, the Ministry of Health for primary healthcare and the Department of Statistics for national statistical reporting. Perhaps we need to focus on efforts to achieve excellence in police, judiciary, immi-gration and education services,” he said.

On the impact of digitalisation, Yeah said the composition of spending will have to be looked into, as more capital investments will be needed for ICT and digital technology.

“Secondly, talent recruitment and human capital development will have to shift towards building digital skill sets, competencies and expertise. Thirdly, manpower requirements will either be lower due to displacement by technology or the excess staff needs to be redeployed to other areas in the civil service as part of the right sizing and rebalancing strategy to build a world-class civil service,’ he explained.

According to Yeah emoluments and pensions accounted for 47% of total operating expenditure in 2017 compared to 38% in 2010. This he said, will continue to rise if the government does not right-size the civil service.

Under Budget 2018, the operating expenditure increased to RM234.5 billion from RM214.80 billion while emoluments rose to RM79.15 billion from RM77.40 billion.

PR1MA to start work on homes at LRT locations in Q4 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: More than two years after it was awarded eight locations along the LRT network to be developed under its transit-oriented development (TOD) initiative, Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia said it will start development on two locations in the fourth quarter of this year.

The two along the LRT line network, are Cempaka and Pandan Jaya. A third location to be developed later, would be Pandan Indah. All three developments are to have a gross development value of RM1 billion.

PR1MA was granted land in a total of eight locations along the LRT network to be developed using this TOD model. The other five locations are Titiwangsa, Sentul New Town, Jelatek, Kinrara and Bandar Puteri.

PR1MA TOD development model is a mixed development concept that would cater to various income groups, with emphasis on social integration and social inclusivity.

Typically, TOD developments are usually catered to the higher-income groups due to their strategic locations. PR1MA’s approach is to help ensure that the M40 income group can also benefit from the shorter commute, lower personal transport costs and easy access to daily needs which will inevitably help to reduce the cost of living.

The M40 group has a mean household income of around RM7,500.

“We see PR1MA as an agency that delivers more than just brick and mortar. PR1MA homes would be the foundation for strong, integrated and harmonious communities that would grow into townships that meet social, environmental and economic sustainability objectives while at the same time ensuring that PR1MA itself is sustainable from a financial and economic standpoint,” said PR1MA CEO Datuk Abdul Mutalib Alias at the closing ceremony of the “Ekspo Jualan Perumahan – Ke Arah Sejuta Impian, Alami Gaya Hidup Sejahtera”.

The expo, which was held between March 24 and April 1 at Putra World Trade Centre, is believed to have attracted 30,000 visitors.

The event, which involved multiple federal and state housing agencies was organised to create awareness and encourage home ownership among the rakyat from both the middle-income (M40) and lower-income (B40) groups.

Abdul Mutalib said the expo received positive feedback from the M40 income group, especially young working adults and young families.

It will continue its nationwide roadshow to Pahang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Perlis throughout the month of April.

Gamification firm aims for global expansion

KUALA LUMPUR: Gamification and game development company Gameka aims to have a presence overseas in Australia, Vietnam and the US in order to compete in the international arena.

“We need to go to Australia. We need to set up a hub in Australia because the gaming world is pushing its attention towards Australian development companies. We will need some presence there, hence the (need for) funding. And I don’t want to lose out in the back-end so we are thinking of branching to Vietnam as well,” said CEO Ho J-Son.

“The goal is to get into the same pond where the (industry) people are. Once we have presence there, we can really understand what’s happening in the ecosystem, then we can really strategise how we can move. So, those are two of our major plans,” he told SunBiz.

The Malaysian startup, which was established in December 2015, started out with funding of RM200,000 and broke even within the first fiscal year. Ho said it is now a self-sufficient company and has been generating profit as of 2017.

“This year, since we came in with TENxCLUB, there has been quite a number of big companies offering to buy in, to help us scale. Previously we were a bit closed, but now we are very open to it. I see this not as a Malaysian market, I see this as competing against the rest of the emerging markets,” he said.

Ho said it is reviewing several funding options from major local and global investors, and expects to go into the next series of meetings in mid-2018.

He said securing funding and quickly scaling the company is crucial, as the majority of the game community has shifted its focus from Malaysia to Vietnam, due to a boom in app innovation there following the emergence of the hit game Flappy Bird.

“They are able to understand the American and the total world mindset, so a lot of major companies are shifting their resources to Vietnam.”

In order to compete with these players, Ho said Gameka would need to scale quickly and expand into the global market within the next few years.

He said Gameka has an offer on the table for a significant amount of funding and if the deal goes through, the company would be able to build its presence in both Australia and Vietnam this year, with enough funding to also set up a branch in the US.

Ho said gamification, which integrates game concepts and principles to improve experiences, increase engagement and enhance education, is very new but is gaining a lot of traction.

Gamification solutions are expected to grow globally at a compound annual growth rate of 45% from 2016 to 2020.

“Gamification is very new to the whole world and there are fewer than 15 gamification players worldwide. The closest competitor to us is Playbasis in Thailand. So, it is a struggle to hire people. We have to hire consultants and merge with game designers. A lot of training is required as it is a new market,” he said.

However, Ho is confident on the outlook for gamification in Malaysia, as companies are excited and want to use gamification solutions in their businesses, especially for marketing.

“Gamification is very new and there is no use case, so we are educating the companies one step at a time. I believe we can be one of the major players in gamification.”

Sime Darby Property’s double storey link homes sold out in one hour

ARA DAMANSARA: Sime Darby Property Bhd sold 126 units of its double storey link homes, from its first township offering in five years, within an hour of its launch on March 31, 2018.

The first phase of 126 units for sale with prices starting from RM536,888, is part of a 302-unit planned development, called Serenia Amani, of 20'x70' double storey link homes with a built-up area from 1,830-2,055 sq ft.

It is part of the 1,775 acre Serenia City township, which is near Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2. The company similarly received strong demand for the same products in Nilai Impian, when nearly 80% of the units offered were taken up.

“This is an indication that the right product offered at the right location will be well received by the market. It also signifies that there is great demand for reasonably priced residential developments in both Serenia City and Nilai Impian, townships which offer existing and planned facilities, amenities, and excellent connectivity,” said Sime Darby Property COO – Township, Datuk Wan Hashimi Albakri in a statement today.

The Bandar Serenia interchange, targeted for completion by October 2018, directly links the township to the ELITE Highway, further enhancing connectivity to and from Serenia City, which is already connected to the North-South Expressway (NSE), the MEX Highway, and is situated near the Salak Tinggi ERL station.

Orkid, Sime Darby Property’s newest residential development in its vibrant township of Nilai Impian, achieved a strong 76% take-up rate on the day of its official public launch on March 24, 2017.

Orkid is a 10.07-acre freehold development comprising 132 units of 20’ x 65’ and 22’ x 65’ double-storey link homes with built up areas of 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Prices start from RM488,888.

Nilai Impian will form the gateway to Malaysia Vision Valley (MVV), which is part of Sime Darby Property’s long term growth plan. The development is expected to span over 30 years, and will be an extension of the Greater Kuala Lumpur area. A key infrastructure is the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) link project and one of its stations will be located in Labu.

London firm revamps pay by letting staff set salaries

LONDON, April 1 — Against a backdrop in Britain of gender pay gaps and ongoing disputes over executives’ earnings, employees at one London company are helping each other set salaries. Betting firm Smarkets has adopted a radical pay…

Japan banks must persist with consolidation, new lobby head says

TOKYO, April 1 — Japanese banks must move forward with consolidation by using everything from mergers to informal tie-ups to tackle declining profitability, according to the new chief of the industry’s main lobby group. “Consolidation has…

Gauging Malaysia’s microfinancing industry

With less than two years left before we have to meet our 2020 deadline of transforming Malaysia into a high income country, our collective focus now has shifted towards our bottom 40 per cent (B40) of households – households with a median monthly income of RM3,000 or less. All over the country, we are now […]