Blockchain could be among Singapore’s new growth drivers: Euler Hermes

 

Singapore’s GDP growth to moderate to +2.9%, economic growth to slow on lower exports but strong economic diversification and innovation efforts to keep growth in a decent range.

Mahamoud Islam, Senior Economist for Asia at Euler Hermes: “There are three types of countries in the region: The Accelerators, the Stabilizers, and the Connectors. Stabilizers and Connectors will need to focus on reducing leverage to keep growth at a healthy pace. Accelerators have some financial leeway, but reforms must follow.” 

Singapore forms part of the countries that plays the role of connectors, and this group of countries are looking for new drivers of growth, said Euler Hermes in a report published today.

Singapore is one of the connector nations that would benefit from Blockchain technology.

The report said Blockchain technology can accelerate trade by cutting through paper-intensive documentation. while reducing trade finance cost.

“Trade techs could offer a new engine of growth at the crossroads between finance and trade,” said the report.

It said Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan. Australia and New Zealand were the connectors in Asia.

“They have smaller and more open economies that are expected to grow at a firm pace (2% to 3%) benefiting from solid exports growth.

“They are prone to adapt policies would focus on averting financing risks stemming from high private debt and monetary tightening in advanced economies,” it said.

Euler Hermes listed three advantages for the ‘connectors’:

1. Access to financing. Provide access to financing and reduce the financing gap (USD1.5tn p.a.) to SMEs in emerging market economies (China. India).  Cross-border trade finance transactions (payments e.g.) can be executed automatically via smart contracts.

2. Efficiency and Security. Digitalization of traditional trade and shipping documents can increase efficiency and security at borders (approval process).

3. Less regulatory risk. Reduction in regulatory and compliance cost for banks. Lower fraud losses for transactions that are registered on a block chain.

Singapore also has the advantage in the World Bank Doing Business Indicators, where it is ranked second overall below New Zealand. 

The Connectors said Ludovic Subran, Chief Economist at Euler Hermes, are expected to grow at a firm pace of +2% to +3% on the back of solid export growth.

Policies are likely to focus on averting financing risks stemming from high private debt and monetary tightening in advanced economies.

“The economies have to work on their edge and invest in trade tech that is to say the new technologies to serve trade such as block chain.” Subran suggested. 

Subran also said 2018 will be a good year for Asian businesses with an expected +4.8% GDP growth for the region. Yet trade easiness, reforms momentum, and financing conditions will be the three big-ticket items the private sector should keep in mind for 2018 and 2019.

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MH370 victims may have remained intact in ‘time capsule’ under sea: Expert

THE bodies inside missing Malaysia MH370 aircraft will most likely be perfectly preserved “like a time capsule” when they are found, said an expert to The Daily Star.

The newspaper quoted US oceanographer David Gallo who said that because of the depth, temperature and stillness of the southern Indian Ocean – believed to be where it went down– the passengers’ corpses will not have deteriorated.

The ocean expert believes if MH370 has hit the seabed, all of the bodies will be preserved – offering vital clues as to why the plane went down.

He said: “It can be a very quiet place with very little oxygen.

“At the surface it’s not the same thing, so the deep ocean can be like a time capsule that preserves everything.”

Dr Gallo also believes black box cockpit recorder information will still be able to be retrieved, despite the sheer amount of time it will have spent underwater.

“Even if water gets in there they have ways of getting bits of information off,” Dr Gallo said.

“Say you get into the cockpit, look at the settings. You could look at the actual airframe itself – about how pieces are bent or torn or scarred or burnt.”

However, this theory will be correct if the plane was not hit by a rocket or destroyed in airspace before the rest of it plunged into the sea.

But without any trace of human remains found so far in the search and in the airplane parts that experts are saying are confirmed MH370 parts, there is hope the bodies could be found, intact or not.

 

 

Joe Kennedy: My generation will bring down the wall

In the Democratic Party response to President Donald Trump’s state of the union address, Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, supported the views of people who said their generation will tear down the wall, referring to the border wall with Mexico.

He said: America, we carry that story on our shoulders. You probably marched together last weekend, thousands on the streets of las vegas, philadelphia and nashville. You set high atop your mom’s shoulder and held a sign that read “build a wall in my generation and we will tear it down.”

In a speech that is reminiscent of his grand father, Joe Kennedy said: Politicians can be cheered for the promises they make. Our country will be judged by the promises we keep.
The phrase would remind many of John Kennedy’s most famous phrase: “don’t ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

During the speech, the Democratic Party rep said many Americans have spent the past year anxious, angry, afraid.

“We all feel the fault lines of a fractured country. We hear the voices of Americans who feel forgotten and forsaken.”

This is perhaps the biggest response to Trump’s attempt to call for a united front both in the congress and the senate where he had to battle the Democrats and rebel Republican reps to put through his electoral promises.

While Trump got the entire house to clap their hands on his claims that the new tax cuts would offer average Americans a chance to earn more, Kennedy reminded the people of the American dream and their hard life.

“We choose the living wage, paid leave, and affordable child care your family needs to survive.”

“We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford. We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction. 

“We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices and brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.”

He narrated how the American people battled their own quiet battles every single day. How they drag their weary bodies to that extra shift so that their families will not feel the sting of scarcity. 

“You leave loved ones at home to defend our country overseas, patrol our neighborhoods at night. You serve, you rescue, you help, you heal,” he said to the applause of the crowd.

Full text here: https://www.npr.org/2018/01/30/580378787/fact-check-democratic-response-to-state-of-the-union

With the backdrop of an Aussie apartment scandal, Najib draws flack from netizens on ‘leave Malaysia’ call

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak who’s call to those who are not proud of Malaysia to leave the country drew massive flack from netizens, specially on Twitter, right after an Australian newspaper revealed juicy details of a corruption scandal said to involve people close the Malaysian leader. 

The netizens did not hold bars, openly attacking the Malaysian official with banters, cynicism and calls for him to return stolen ‘monies’ to the people.

Just days after an Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) – read article here on TISG – revealed how a former Mara Inc chairman planned the entire operations of the sale of a Melbourne property at a marked-up value to the Malaysian fund, Najib’s comment was strewn with the now all too familiar backlash and rude comments.

The paper said some AUD18.3 million of Malaysian taxpayers money were distributed among conspirators after the property a 280-room city apartment building, called the UniLodge, which mostly houses overseas students on Swanston Street, near Melbourne University became the centre of the scandal in Australia.

Malaysians asked Najib to leave the country instead, adding that they are not proud of Malaysia with his leadership which is rigged with unending scandals.

At the time of writing, the twitter thread started by  received more than 5000 retweets and 2980 likes. It also got 50 comments, some as juicy as it gets.

 

Some of the comments are rude, but some are seriously hilarious. This one from simple asked: “knape BN takut dengan orang tua macam Tun hah… opps depa tak gentelman keh keh keh”. translated from Malay, it is asking “why does the BN (Barisan Nasional which is the ruling coalition in Malaysia) is afraid of an old man like Tun (referring to Mahathir Mohamad former PM of Malaysia who is now the main opposition leader). It continues saying: “He is not a gentleman,” in reference to Najib. 

And   who saidAiya.. Don’t asked him to leave without serving his terms in prison.” 

Read the full thread here: https://twitter.com/fahmi_fadzil/status/957525694824644608

MBSB profit after tax rose to RM417m or a 107% increase in FY17

MBSB Group reported a Profit After Tax (PAT) of RM417.13 million for the full Financial Year
Ended 31 December 2017, a 107.1% or RM215.71 million from the RM201.41 million posted in the previous Financial Year Ended 31 December 2016 (FYE 2016).

Their Profit Before Tax (PBT) of RM550.73 million (FYE17) showed a major improvement of 62.74% or RM212.31 million compared to RM338.42 million (FYE16).

Major takeaways of MBSB Group financial results for the twelve (12) months ended 31 December 2017:
 Profit After Tax (PAT) for the FYE 31 Dec 2017 (FYE17) increased by 107.10% to RM417.13m
 Total assets grew by RM1.54 billion or 3.56% y-o-y to RM44.81 billion as at 31 Dec 2017
 Total deposits increased by RM2.14 billion or 7.00% from December 2016 to RM32.76 billion
 Net Return on Average Equity increased from 3.48% in (FYE16) to 6.02% (FYE17)
 Net impaired financing/loans ratio (NIFL) improved from 2.87% (FYE16) to 2.11% (FYE17)

The substantial increase in profits is mainly attributed by the lower cost of funds and lower
allowances for the impairment losses on financing, loans and advances.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaini Othman, MBSB’s President and Chief Executive Officer said: “With the ending of the impairment program in 4th quarter of 2017, we have achieved what we had planned when it was first initiated in the 4th quarter of 2014.

“Our 4Q17 and FYE 2017 results were partly attributed by strengthened collection efforts which in turn have reduced the impairment allowance for the year.”

The Group’s gross financing and loans contracted slightly by 3.07% y-o-y from RM35.28 billion (FYE16) to RM34.20 billion (FYE17).

This was due to the reclassification of selected impaired retail financing and loans to Financial Assets Held-for-Sale and which sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of this year. Nevertheless, Gross Corporate Financing and Property Financing have recorded notable annualized growths of 10.01% and 16.29% respectively.

Ahmad Zaini said: “We remained to be selective in growing our financing assets but certain corporate segments have continued to be viable and we have managed to secure substantial financing stock moving into the new year from these segments”.

The Group registered a revenue of RM3.26 billion for FYE17 and RM818.27 million for 4Q17
which are consistent with RM3.27 billion (FYE16) and RM816.87 million (3Q17).

The revenue is generated from the Total Assets of RM44.81 billion as at 31 December 2017, a 3.56% growth or RM1.54 billion from RM43.27 billion as at 31 December 2016. The rise in Total Assets is contributed by the higher investments in liquefiable assets.

 

Commenting on the Group’s outlook, Ahmad Zaini said: “We are certainly excited with the prospects of the new platform upon completion of the merger exercise.

“While we shall remain committed to doing what has always been profitable, for example the
affordable housing projects and the penetration in selected SME sectors but rolling out new
products in the immediate years shall be a very positive development for the new entity. We
intend to add value by establishing new delivery channels as this shall help to bring
prospective customers on board.”

Malaysia-Pakistan business council welcomes new Pakistan high commissioner

From left: Datuk Seri Satar Vice Chairman Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council, His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, The High Comissioner of Pakistan to Malaysia, Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazir Meraslam, Chairman Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council, Datuk Zulkefli Mahmud Former CEO of Matrade and Rafiq Fazaldin Secretary Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council

The Malaysia–Pakistan Business Council (MalPak) welcomed the new Pakistani high commissioner to Malaysia, hosting a dinner in which Malaysians, Malaysians of Pakistani origin and Pakistanis, mainly belonging to the business sector participated.

MalPak Chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazir Meraslam spoke of the High Commissioner’s keen interest in promoting greater business links between the two countries.

Nazir also emphasized that there are potentials in many areas including Tourism and Trade in which the cooperation could be enhanced.

The High Commissioner pledged to work together with MalPak towards the common objective of taking the Pakistan-Malaysia relations to higher levels. The objective is exploit the huge existing market potential.

Zakaria identified the areas that could be exploited to make the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) more effective and highlighted the ongoing investment cooperation between the two countries.

The High Commissioner said that Pakistan is the 4th largest in the areas of cattle milk production and has huge potential in tourism and precious and semi-precious gemstones business.

He said these sectors remained untapped by Malaysia businessmen.

MalPak was established in 2010 under the advice of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Over the years, the Council worked along with the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to help in the effective implementation of the FTA between the two countries.

MALPAK has also participated in several exhibitions in Pakistan organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

Oceanographer hopeful MH370 will be found in a month time

A top oceanographer from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO has expressed optimism that missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will be found within a month, after a new search effort kicked off last week.

“We’re hopeful that they (Ocean Infinity) can find the aircraft within the first month of the search,” David Griffin of CSIRO told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Private US-based company Ocean Infinity has begun its contribution to the search for MH370– to date the single largest in aviation history. 

Ocean Infinity’s vessel carries eight “autonomous underwater vehicles”, or submersible craft, that will scour the seabed with scanning equipment for information to be sent back for analysis. The Seabed Constructor began its search on Monday, Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement.

The flight disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people on board. 

Malaysia’s Naluri raises US$250K seed funding

Malaysia-based healthtech startup Naluri Hidup raised approximately RM1 million (US$250,000) in seed funding from Singapore-based healthcare analytics company BioMark and 500 Startups’ Southeast Asia-focussed fund 500 Durians.

The funding will be used to complete product development as well as commercial and clinical trials with the startup’s industry partners.

“Our goal is for clinical trials to be completed this year, to enable the follow-up funding based on the results of the trials.

“Our platform will start as primarily a B2B platform for our partners (insurance companies, corporate employers, and hospitals) and we are expecting to launch our first trial with the platform by the first quarter of this year,” Naluri co-founder Azran Osman-Rani told e27 in an email.

Co-founded in mid-2017 by Osman-Rani, Dr. Jeremy Ting and Dr. Hariyati Abdul Majid, Naluri is a platform that connect users with dedicated health psychologists.

They provide personalised coaching and use evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing techniques to strengthen users’ mental resilience and resolve.

The aim is to achieve and sustain better health outcomes such as weight loss, better stress management, or reduction in blood pressure or blood sugar levels.

 

Mauritius 1968: The wrong timing to relive the racial events?

A local newspaper L’Express decided to publish a series of articles on the deadly events that shook Mauritius in 1968. To be fair, no one can complain if a newspaper carry stories of historic events.

But the newspaper has failed in its mission. The mission of a newspaper is to tell the true story of the events, that is how the events started and why it all started.

It has even failed to properly honour all the dead, in particular the heroes who wanted to put an end to the fighting but who were killed in the process.

Nevertheless, it is probably too hurtful to go down that lane, one in which many families fell victims of racial violence. The writer almost fell victim of these events too, but that is another story to tell on another day.

Then why did L’Express carry all the comments and stories that opened the wounds while minimising the role played by Abu Soobratty and his close friend Abbas Peerbhoy.

The more so when we know that the real perpetrators were never caught, and the real reason for this strife between the Muslims and the Christians were never officially or historically explained!

The Mauritian Young Brotherhood – a group of Mauritian youth who are concerned with the social stability in the country – ticked us on what the local media is up in the tiny Island republic.

The group’s concern is whether the local daily L’Express is playing a dangerous racial game with its publication of the series of articles said to have been extracted from official and historical records.

However, the newspaper has also included comments from surviving victims or families of victims of the bloody tragedy that occurred in January 1968, or fifty years down the road.

See this version of facts: 

While most of the families (mostly the Muslims) said they do not discuss the events of 1968 among themselves or make it a point to mark the date with family events, some of the Christian families are saying they never forget to narrate the events to the youth of their communities.

After reading through the L’Express articles we (WFTV) get feeling the entire report is one sided.

The actions of the true patriotic figures of 1968 are dismissed as insolent events in the L’Express articles.

Their mission to end the fighting is mentioned casually, and the events that lead to the killing of Abu Soobratty should have been given the proper coverage. But L’Express chose not to.

Why?

Because in the midst of the violence, there were a few good men who set themselves on a perilous journey to end a conflict that they themselves could not comprehend.

They had no idea why it started and among their circles there were persistent rumours that the a particular political organisation was fuelling the fight for their own political gains.

Some said, at that time, the political organisation and its leaders where not doing anything to end the conflict, as they were trying to gain political mileage by pushing the independence date further.

Were they trying to throw the Independence movement in jeopardy?

These elements escaped the L’Express newspaper.

Mauritius is currently facing an acute economic situation and some has found it necessary to remind people of a racial war that most of the population would want to bury in history.

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia: 2,469 commercial vehicles sold in 2017

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (Mercedes-Benz) said it sold 2,469 commercial vehicles, a 13.06% increase in its commercial vehicles (CV) market penetration last year, backed by new customers in haulage industry’s small and medium operator category.

The company said in a media release today that its best-selling products are the FUSO Truck FE71PB (light-duty segment), FM65FJ (heavy-duty segment) and Mercedes-Benz Actros
2644LS 6×2 (L-cab).

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Commercial Vehicles said it continues to meet the needs of Malaysia’s logistics and transportation sector with reliable, economically efficient and world-class quality commercial vehicles and service standards.

With this strong performance – despite the dip of 7.9% in total industry volume (TIV) for 2017 in Malaysia – places Mercedes-Benz as a strong supporter of the transport and haulage industry.

It attributed its robust performance in 2017 to its strategy of placing customers at the centre of its initiatives.

“Part of Daimler Trucks, MBM CV represents first-class product quality and service excellence in the Malaysian market. In everything that we do, our focus is on our customers. Safety, reliability and economic efficiency are our topmost priority.

“With the commitment of our dealer partners and the trust of the market, 2017 proved to be a positive year in many aspects. As a new year begins, we remain as committed as ever to deliver vehicles and solutions of the highest quality – Trucks you can trust,” said Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Commercial Vehicles, Vice President, Mr Albert Yee.

In 2017, the Mercedes-Benz Actros proved to be a top choice among hauliers recording an impressive total of 268 units sold, maintaining a double-digit growth of 24.1%. Contributing 32.1% sales, the Mercedes-Benz Actros 2644LS 6×2 (L-cab) remains the most popular model. Meanwhile, FUSO trucks recorded 2,170 units sold.

As a result of securing fleet contracts from new small and medium operators during the year, Mercedes-Benz was able to achieve a market penetration 13.06% for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles in 2017, a new record for the company.

Notable fleet deals included successful delivery of 74 FUSO vehicles to KDEB Waste Management Sdn Bhd and 133 units of Mercedes-Benz Actros to Swift Haulage Sdn Bhd – setting the highest number of deliveries in 2017. 

Mercedes-Benz also delivered its 300th FUSO vehicle to Biforst Logistics Sdn Bhd and signed a MoU to formalize Biforst Logistics’ intent to become one of the first customers to receive the fully electric-powered light-duty truck, the FUSO eCanter, upon its availability in the Malaysian market in the near future.

Throughout 2017, Mercedes-Benz and its network dealers continued to raise the bar with best-in-class commercial vehicles and service quality for the haulage industry.

Product enhancements included the new TD Canter facelift and ensuring that Mercedes-Benz’s entire product portfolio complies with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) safety regulations set by Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ). These measures improve vehicle safety and ensure customers’ peace-of-mind.

In addition to its sales success, Mercedes-Benz implemented several after-sales solutions in 2017 to provide Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles and FUSO customers greater flexibility.

This included a wide range of service and repair packages, mileage and overhaul campaigns (engine and transmission), Mercedes-Benz Trucks Maintenance Contract and Full Scope Service Contract. MBM CV also conducted an exclusive service clinic for FUSO vehicles with a team of experts from Japan providing personalised FUSO after-sales care.

For the full year of 2017, MBM CV recorded a 7.47% increase in throughput compared to 2016, with an impressive total of 26,820 vehicles serviced, comprising 4,820 Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles and 22,000 FUSO trucks.

In line with its customer-centric strategy, during 2017 Mercedes-Benz enhanced three service centres, namely, Hap Seng Commercial Vehicle Kuching, Hap Seng Commercial Vehicle Klang, and stamped its mark in the northern region with Hap Seng Commercial Vehicle Ipoh.

Catering to both Mercedes-Benz and FUSO Commercial Vehicles, MBM CV and its dealer partners will continue upgrading service centres in 2018 to enable greater sales and service, maintenance and repairs for both brands.