Thursday, October 3rd, 2019


Hibiscus exercises option for stake in Aussie permit

PETALING JAYA: Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd exercised its farm-in option by acquiring a 50% interest in the exploration permit VIC/P74 from its associate company 3D Oil Ltd.

The purchase will be done through its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Carnarvon Hibiscus Pty Ltd (CHPL).

Hibiscus told Bursa Malaysia that it will enter into a conditional farm‐in agreement with 3D Oil at a later date, whereby it has agreed that 3D Oil will remain the operator of the permit through the primary first three years of the prospect generation phase.

The group explained that the work programme consists primarily of purchasing reprocessed 3D seismic data to progress geological and geophysical studies in order to fine tune resource assessments and enable due prospect ranking.

It said that the two parties have also agreed that if there are wells required to be drilled after the first phase, CHPL will be the operator of the permit but 3D Oil will continue to be the operator for geological & geophysical operations.

“However, if there is a farm‐in for a substantial interest in the permit that will require drilling a well or wells by the farmee, the farmee will become the operator instead for all operations.”

Upon completion of CHPL’s acquisition in the interest, CHPL and 3D Oil will enter into a joint operating agreement.

The permit is adjacent to the Kingfish oilfield which has to date produced over one billion barrels of oil.

GDP growth has to reach 8% to achieve shared prosperity vision: MIER

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has to reach economic growth of 8% in order to attain the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) said.

Its chairman Tan Sri Kamal Salih said according to his calculations, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate has to be somewhere between 6% and 8% and it could not be at between 4% and 5%.

“It is not enough, it will be a slow rise. In the meantime, other countries will jump over us. To achieve over 6%, we have to do a leapfrog strategy and focus on key sectors,“ he told Bernama in an interview.

Kamal Salih said Malaysia has to be wary of anomalies that are happening outside of the country and not be complacent the moment oil prices go up, as it generates momentary boost of income.

He said instead, Malaysia needs to divert its resources and invest in the structural change of long to medium-term growth.

“We may spend a lot more money, we may even try to restructure the debt, but eventually we must continue to expand in infrastructure, new industries, technology, agriculture, to produce more food and train more skilled people, as all these are already in place,“ he said.

Kamal Salih said the elements of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 was already incorporated in Vision 2020, under previous predecessors.

He said however, the last regime had become more greedy, as the whole setup of “what’s in it for me and not for the country” attitude had taken root.

“We lack that kind of mentality and people do the simpler things, they follow the line of least resistance, and stay in a comfort zone, as they don’t know how to venture, and they fear of failure.

“Whereas entrepreneurship, technology, investment, innovation, all are experimental, you just need to keep at it, if you fail you rise, failure is a lesson, instead you just give up,“ he said.

Kamal Salih said some Malaysians have given up on the country, and they went overseas and thrived.

“This trust deficit in government is a big thing, and the younger generation couldn’t care less, as they will do their things and hope that they can be successful,“ he said.

Kamal Salih said the early period of the New Economic Policy produced quite of a lot of good people, both in bumiputra and non-bumiputra.

“They have been successful, they are what that have kept this economy afloat. But there is an increasing number of those who have given up, and wait for more handouts from the government, and the government not having enough money to hand out.

“When the government had the money to hand out, it handed out to cronies, and it is not spread out enough, not inclusive enough,“ he added. – Bernama

FMM welcomes govt’s willingness to study bringing back GST

PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has welcomed news that the government would study the merits of reintroducing the goods and services tax (GST) to replace the current sales and service tax (SST) system.

In a statement, FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said the GST was a more transparent and effective tax regime compared to the SST.

“Given the weak external environment and amid current global tensions, we believe that priority should be given to strengthen the economy and restore more favourable business conditions. Therefore we note this will be the opportune time to reintroduce the GST system.,” he said.

He further explained that under the GST system, prices of Malaysian exports will become more competitive on the global stage, which will in turn strengthen the export industry.

Soh also outlined a number of recommendations for the revision of the GST, which included reducing the GST rate from 6% to 3% to boost business conditions, zero-rating all essential goods and services and reducing the tax compliance burden by increasing the GST registration threshold to RM1 million.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would study the merits of the GST if the people want it back.

He was responding to comments made by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) chairman Tan Sri Kamal Salih that the GST should be brought back in Budget 2020 but at a lower rate of 3%.

The GST of 6% was implemented in 2015 under the previous administration, but was scrapped last year following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in GE14.

For those who had already made the switch to the SST system, Soh said moving back to the GST system would not be difficult.

“For manufacturers, switching back to previous automated model under the GST Tax Payers Access Point system will not be difficult as GST compliance systems are already in place.

“We however look forward to be engaged in the study proposed by the government in order to provide manufacturers’ views on the possible reintroduction of the GST system,” he said.

France recruits Dassault Systemes, OVH for alternative to US cloud firms

PARIS, Oct 3 — France has enlisted tech companies Dassault Systemes and OVH to come up with plans to break the dominance of US companies in cloud computing, its finance minister said today. Paris is eager to build up a capacity to store sensitive…

Scotland says US tariff move shows UK’s Brexit pipe dream

LONDON, Oct 3 — The Scottish government said today that the imposition of US tariffs on various goods including Scottish whisky indicated that the United Kingdom could not offset the damage from Brexit by striking a trade deal with US President…

PNB doing mid-term review of strategic plan

PUCHONG: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) will have a relook at its STRIVE-15 Strategic Plan 2017-2022 on whether there is a need to tweak it forward, given the current landscape of weak investment returns environment globally and geopolitical issues.

“PNB had previously set a mid-term period for the STRIVE-15 period for reviews, and currently we are doing a mid-term review on it and we’ll see what have been agreed (upon) and what have been achieved.

“Basically, STRIVE-15 would be consistent with what we said we were going to do three years ago,“ PNB newly-appointed president and group CEO Jalil Rasheed told reporters after the final round of the PNB Investment Quiz and prize giving ceremony today.

PNB STRIVE-15 includes three pillars, namely enhancing sustainable returns, effective investment management and driving operational excellence.

Asked whether PNB will continue to invest in the equity markets of several advanced and emerging markets, Jalil said:

“That’s actually very critical for us… PNB’s asset under management value today stood at RM300 billion and Malaysia’s market is just not large and deep enough.”

He said PNB would need to diversify its investments, perhaps a lot in single-asset class and in Malaysia. – Bernama

The Dark Web: The hidden world of financial crimes

LET’S admit it. We all think we know the internet.

The truth is, many people only have a surface view of the internet. And rightly so, because sites such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon along with thousands of other websites are where the majority of people spend their internet time. It is public, searchable and friendly.

However, beyond that lies the darker recesses of the internet “underworld” or the dark web. The internet’s dark alleys! Inaccessible to many, this place has become a domain to nurture cybercrimes and frauds committed by criminals and this has been on the rise.

According to a 2019 Global Risks Report by World Economic Forum, two of the Top 5 global risks (likely to happen) aside from natural disasters are data fraud and cyber-attacks.

Internet – Its darker side

If you think of the internet as a deep ocean, you will understand there are three different layers to it. At the ocean’s top is the first “surface web” layer where most of the surfing it done. Think Google or Yahoo. Go down deeper into the ocean where there is no sunlight and you’ve reached the second layer or the “deep web”. This place is much larger than the surface web, yet it is completely out of sight. It can only be accessed by those who have logins for specific websites.

Dive deeper and you’ve reached the “Mariana Trench” of the virtual world – the deepest part of the ocean or the “dark web”. This space is only accessible to those who use The Onion Router (TOR) software. It’s a place where the business of stolen digital goods happens – stolen credit card data, other identity theft data – outside the reach of security forces.

Although cybercrimes such as having your identity stolen are hardly new, what happens in the dark web is advanced financial fraud. Over the past few years, startling data has tracked the rise of identity fraud cases. In Malaysia, MYCERT Incident Statistics 2018 revealed that identity theft cases grew 20% from 371 in 2017 to 446 last year. Not surprisingly, a recent survey by RAMCI showed that 14% of respondents were victims of identity theft.

What should you do?

We live in a world that is highly connected. As such, the threat from the dark web threat is real and rising. The five most famous methods of online financial crimes are:

1. Phishing – using fake emails, SMS or websites to steal private information

2. Malware – a potent virus designed to glean through data and damage devices

3. Identity theft – stealing of personal data

4. Money laundering – transfer of illicit funds to anonymous accounts

5. Carding – using stolen credit cards for fraudulent activities

Most of the time, criminals use a variety of schemes to commit financial fraud, making them highly complex and difficult to identify.

There are simple steps which you can do to arm yourself from being a victim:

1. Be vigilant when sharing any per-sonal details online, even on social net-working sites

2. Be pro-active with your finances by investing in a credit moni-toring tool to help monitor your bank and credit accounts for scams and fraud

3. Review your credit reports regularly to keep them updated

4. Use a password manager tool to keep your passwords safe and make sure you update it regularly

JagaMyID Plus is one such credit monitoring tools to consider. It is comprehensive as it provides a monthly credit score, identity fraud alerts, monitoring of credit card utilisation, monthly payment tracking, an online dashboard that updates areas affecting credit, a secured lock access to credit report and an insurance coverage for losses incurred.

Takeaway: Leave no stone unturned.

The dark recesses of the internet have taken online financial fraud to a new level of sophistication. Personal information is everywhere as everyone is online. In Malaysia alone, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission reported there are over 28 million digital citizens as of 2018.

What is being traded in the dark web by criminals is beyond access and difficult to trace.

Tracking and fighting crimes in the deep, dark web is not easy. It’s a universal challenge. You can certainly create impediments so that scammers can’t use and trade your identity in the dark web. Protect yourself. You wouldn’t want to find your identity in the dark web.

So, let’s stay safe and secure while online, everyone.

This article was contributed by RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd CEO Dawn Lai (pix).

‘Limited impact from US seizure of gloves’

PETALING JAYA: The detention of disposable rubber gloves by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) because of the use of forced labour is not expected to have an adverse impact on the entire sector, as the CPB’s “withhold release” order is for a specific company, WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd, only.

Affin Hwang Capital said weak sector sentiment may, however, offer an opportunity to accumulate its top “buy” picks for the sector – Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd and Super-max Corp Bhd.

It believes the direct impact from the seizure of WRP’s gloves would be relatively limited, as the producers would still be able to sell their products in other countries.

According to Affin Hwang’s checks, WRP has an estimated production capacity of 11 billion pieces a year (around 5% of Malaysia’s overall capacity), with focus on the nitrile and surgical gloves segment.

“As the overall impact to the sector is relatively limited, we are maintaining our neutral call on the sector. Kossan and Supermax are our top buys for the sector, due to their undemanding valuations and higher-than industry growth rates. We have ‘sell’ calls on Top Glove Corp Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and Karex Bhd due to their rich valuations.”

The research house said the allegation of forced labour in the Malaysian rubber products sector is not new, as it was first reported by the UK press in end-2018 and early-2019, whereby they had identified three companies which had engaged in such. WRP was one of the three companies that was identified by the press.

“Although Top Glove and Karex were also mentioned back then, we believe that the recent changes implemented by the latter two have managed to address most, if not all, of the concerns. The resulting higher labour costs arising from the changes were already reflected in their P&Ls (profit & loss statements) since 1Q19.”

Affin Hwang said the biggest challenge for Malaysian companies to avert these allegations results from the continuously changing standards, as the definition of forced labour varies across countries.

“Our recent checks with the companies under our coverage indicated that they are in compliance with Malaysian regulations, and are subjected to social-compliance audits by their customers from time to time.”

It added that most of them have engaged social activists to conduct independent audits in order to be in compliance with international stan-dards. Ultimately, the companies have limited the maximum allowable overtime to 104 hours a month (average four hours a day) for all their workers.

“We believe the increased scrutiny on the sector’s labour practices is likely to speed up the whole automation process. Although the government does provide grants to help with the changes, it is relatively insignificant to the overall investment that the manufacturers need.

“We believe that the larger manufacturers might be able to increase their market share at the expense of the smaller manufacturers as some of them are unable to invest in automation,” Affin Hwang said.

Ringgit rises as weak dollar spurs demand

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit further improved to end higher against the US dollar today as the greenback lost its shine amid worries over deepening US economic gloom.

At 6pm, the local unit stood stronger at 4.1860/1890 compared to yesterday’s close of 4.1930/1960.

Axi Trader Asia-Pacific market strategist Stephen Innes said despite trading a bit better today in the higher 4.18’s, the ringgit remained glued to 4.19 level as investors preoccupied with domestic events ahead.

“A Goods and Services Tax (GST) proposal by a domestic think tank is garnering lots of press as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad versus Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s succession talk move in motion in the background.

“However, with the Budget 2002 getting delivered on Oct 11, this is now being viewed as the next significant catalyst, which is likely keeping foreign investors cautious on local bonds, equities and currency,“ he told Bernama.

The greenback fell overnight after data showed hiring by US private employers had cooled in September, the latest indicator that the Sino-US trade dispute is hurting the world’s largest economy.

“Also, the US levied EU goods with new tariffs greenlighted by World Trade Organisation ruling adding another brick in the wall of worry for EU investors,“ Innes added.

Having said that, he said a faltering US economy was not a cause for celebration for export-oriented economies in Asia like Malaysia.

Overall, the ringgit was traded mostly lower against other major currencies.

It declined against the Singapore dollar to 3.0287/0320 from 3.0248/0274 at yesterday’s close and fell against the yen to 3.9059/9102 from 3.8950/8982.

The local note depreciated against the euro to 4.5820/5870 from 4.5775/5825 and was lower against the British pound to 5.1408/1462 from 5.1335/1388. — Bernama

In blow to US, EU pledges quick move on tax for polluting firms

BRUSSELS, Oct 3 — The European Commission will quickly start work on a tax on foreign polluting firms, the nominee for the EU’s economic and tax commissioner said today, a move that could hit US companies and deepen a trade war with Washington….