Monday, 24 October 2016

Supporting women entrepreneurs

One in five SMEs are owned by women, but many tend to be micro-enterprises with limited capital. Extending a helping hand to ensure their success is important because not only would it contribute to economic growth, it would also ensure the well-being of family.

FOLLOWING the talk on women entrepreneurship at our SME Club last May, we joined force with the Secretariat for Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME), of the Prime Minister’s Department, to launch the Women Talentship Workshop on Oct 6 with the aim of encouraging women to participate in entrepreneurship.

The idea is to equip women with the necessary knowledge and skills in order for them to create and run successful businesses.

The workshop was well received. We had about 300 women participating.

Encouragement and support for women in entrepreneurial activties is important. Based on the latest statistics available (Economic Census 2011), nearly one in five SMEs (19.7%) are owned by women. About 92% of these SMEs are involved in the service sector.

Many of these businesses are likely to be unregistered micro-enterprises operating in the home or on temporary premises, with fewer or no employees and limited capital for expansion.

There are several common challenges faced by these small-scale, women-owned businesses. First of all, the women entrepreneurs constantly struggle with finding a balanced role between career and home.

Women are expected to shoulder the burden of being a mother and a homemaker, apart from being a breadwinner or business woman. And this is a challenging task.

Our workshop was intended to encourage women to participate in entrepreneurship while embracing well-balanced roles through three levels of strategy planning and development, i.e. personal discipline, communication discipline, and business discipline.

SAME’s advisor, Grace Chia, who is an advocator and practitioner of entrepreneurship, says the three disciplines are practised by many successful businesswomen.

By personal discipline, one means the ability to identify, acknowledge and understand your own strengths and weaknesses as the first step to finding your niche in business.

We should focus on leveraging on our strengths and finding peers with skills that we lack.

When we talk about communication discipline, we emphasise the ability to communicate in order to achieve a win-win outcome among family members, business partners and customers. You must be able to persuade your team to share your vision, in order to be able to tap the resulting synergy and move towards common goals.

By business discipline, we are refering to the bankability and marketability of your business. Often, many businesses fail to get financing because they lack solid fundamentals in finance and accounting, and consequently the bookkeeping for the company.

Also, the lack of a workable marketing plan may deter the access to financing as well as opportunities for success.

We must be able to prepare a bankable business plan when we want to obtain financing from a third party. A good bankable business plan would include an attractive and convincing business idea, what problems it can solve, how it fits with market needs, what effective and feasible marketing strategies you have, and what the ROI or return on investment is likely to be.

Also, it is essential to show entrepreneurial elements in the business plan when one is applying for financing. This is to help you to differentiate yourself from the usual business plans. More importantly, the entrepreneurial elements suggest that you are serious and have in mind a long-term endeavour rather than just a profit-making plan.

Equally important is to know your products well.

Who are your target groups? How are you going to promote the products to them? We may have good products, but there may not be a market for the products.

We recognise the importance of promoting women entrepreneurship for the reason that the success of women entrepreneurs will contribute to economic growth as well as the well-being of families. There is no reason for us to neglect the talents and capabilities of women, which form half of the population in Malaysia.

Women entrepreneurs should fully utilise government programmes that promote entrepreneurship among women. Some of the government agencies and programmes that aim to assist women entrepreneurship include SAME’s women talentship initiative, SME Corporation’s Skills Upgrading Programme, and Matrade’s Women Exporters Development Programme.

By Michael Kang, who is the national president of the SME Association of Malaysia.

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Sunday, 23 October 2016

US becoming nothing more than troublemaker! Why US resents Beijing-Manila rapport?

US becoming nothing more than troublemaker

The US military revealed to Reuters that its guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur on Friday conducted a so-called freedom of navigation mission in the South China Sea. The US military mentioned China's Yongxing and Zhongjian islands, and said the Chinese mainland, the island of Taiwan and Vietnam all claim ownership of the Xisha Islands. It said the destroyer did not come within 12 nautical miles of the islands.

According to China's Ministry of National Defense, a guided-missile destroyer and a guided-missile frigate were dispatched to identify and expel the US vessel.

All Western media have noted that the US maneuver was conducted during Philippine President Duterte's state visit to China in which bilateral relations have been restored with the signing of a series of cooperative agreements. This was a provocation by the US, flagrantly telling the world that it doesn't want to see peace in the South China Sea, and that it wants waves there. If no one helps it, it will make them itself.

China as early as 1996 announced that the territorial waters surrounding Xisha Islands belong to it alone. Unlike the Nansha Islands, the Xisha Islands are under full Chinese control and Beijing doesn't recognize any territorial disputes there. A US warship coming to the Xisha Islands can be viewed as a way to escalate provocations.

The Philippines has started to shelve its disagreements with China and restore friendly relations, and has announced the end of its joint military patrols and exercises with the US. Duterte has talked of "separation" from the US, which will severely impact the US's strategy. The Pentagon dispatching warships to patrol at this moment is a clear response to Duterte's visit to China, sending signals to the region that it will maintain its presence and continue trying to exert influence.

They chose the Xisha Islands this time, probably with the intention to arouse the interest of Vietnam and test its reaction. After Duterte has repeatedly ridiculed Washington, US ships going to China-Philippines disputed waters will be fruitless, therefore the US has decided to change direction.

We hope that Vietnam will see through the US's intentions and not fall into their trap. Duterte has said the US military is stationed in the Philippines only out of its own interests and he has decided to leave the road of conflict that the US has forced the Philippines to take, which shows that he and many of his compatriots are fed up with the US profiting from South China Sea tensions at their expense.

Recently, China and Vietnam have also started to control disputes and push for better bilateral ties. As China-Philippine ties improve, the geopolitical situation in the South China Sea has changed, which is good for the whole region. While the US is not willing to accept this change, as long as China, Vietnam and the Philippines stick to their own interests and put cooperation first, a US warship sailing in the South China Sea will have no effect.

Many critics have overestimated Washington's tolerance. It has started not to care about its image as a "world leader," but is becoming nothing more than a troublemaker.

Why the US resents Beijing-Manila rapport ?


In a signed article published by the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter tried to trumpet the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy, claiming the US can "help ensure that the next 70 years in the region are as secure, stable, and prosperous as the last."

He also used more than a few words to criticize China, arguing that "Beijing sometimes plays by its own rules and undercuts those [regional] principles."

The article was published during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to China. A number of steps Duterte took, especially this visit, are regarded as undermining the US' South China Sea strategy, which is core to the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.

As the most outstanding diplomatic and political legacy of Barack Obama's presidency, Washington's rebalancing strategy is now in crisis. Besides the Philippines' fresh start over the South China Sea issue, the chances that US Congress will pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal are slim. Carter's article is refuting those voices pessimistic about the US strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific.

Washington has been claiming credit for safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, including the South China Sea.

Now the Philippines and China have reached a rapport after intense conflict over the maritime dispute. Washington should feel happy about the stabilization of the situation, but look how begrudging it is.

President Obama announced an overall lifting of the weapons ban on Vietnam during his visit there in May, a move widely seen as targeting China. But Beijing reacted positively about the improved ties between the former foes. Washington should take the same gesture, even if it is faking it, to compliment Beijing and Manila on their return to a friendly track.

Apart from the Beijing-Manila reconciliation, choppy waters between Beijing and Hanoi have also calmed down. The US should welcome the change and encourage claimants to negotiate for win-win cooperation if it really cares about the benefits of regional countries.

However, the US seems to be unhappy and feel betrayed. It is widely believed that Washington is pressuring Manila to return to confrontation against Beijing. US public opinion is hoping Duterte can retake a tough stand over Huangyan Island.

The major conflicts in the South China Sea are becoming those between China and the US, rather than territorial disputes. It is not difficult to cool Beijing's disputes with Manila and Hanoi down to a level that will not seriously jeopardize their friendly cooperation. Whether the US can restrain itself from the urge to dominate regional order and using "rules" as an excuse to contain China is a real test.

To Washington, rules and principles actually mean its leadership. US national strength is losing its advantage, but its obsession and sensitivity to hegemony have increasingly turned extreme, which leads to many problems.

China has no intention to drive the US out of Asia. In many cases, it doesn't reject the US' willingness to be a global leader. But we hope it knows that its strength is limited, as well as its understanding of the world. - Global Times

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China, a whisper of a great power beckons

The Chinese want advancement just as much as others do. It’s just that they would rather do it quietly.

Patriotic spirit: A paramilitary soldier guarding a giant flower bouquet at Tiananmen Square in Beijing to commemorate Chinese National Day. — AFP

TO understand why and how China has emerged as a great power, we have to look beyond what experts usually point to. The Chinese have opened up the economy, they have invested heavily in R&D, goods made in China flood stores in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they are a patriotic bunch. They are industrious.

These are good reasons. But what are the real ones? Why can't other nations do the same? The United States used to be a major manufacturing country. Now it’s a consumption economy with an astounding number of obese people. Why?

What drives the way the Chinese do things and conduct themselves at the personal as well as national level? I have seen Chinese graduate students in the United States who kept quiet in the classroom when the professor asked a question but at the end of the semester, managed to score all As. They have no intention of showing off. They are advancing slowly but surely without making a lot of noise.

Despite all its strength and ambition, China is not bent on global domination. Although its influence is undeniably rising, its engagement is transactional, not imperial. Its interest beyond Asia is mainly in countries that can provide it with raw materials and markets.

Talk of China’s big footprints in Africa, for example, is overstated. Its stock of direct investment in the continent still lags far behind that of Great Britain and France, and amounts to only a third of the United States’. In Africa and Latin America, it is concentrating more on taking stakes in local companies, not just buying up land and resources.

China likes to mind its own business. It wants to have as little involvement abroad as it can get away with. Instead of acting for the greater good of humanity, it responds pragmatically when its own interests are at stake. Its navy has begun to participate in anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and in United Nations peacekeeping in Africa. In 2011, it sent a ship to co-ordinate the evacuation of 36,000 Chinese workers from Libya.

The world may anticipate more such actions as its companies get more deeply involved around the globe. It is also making inroads into the use of soft power through Confucius Institutes all over the world that try to demonstrate that China and its culture are benign.

What China is against is easier to comprehend than what it is for. It opposed Bush’s incursion into Iraq in 2003, vetoed the interventions Western powers sought in Syria and Darfur and took no position on the Russian annexation of Crimea. Chinese leaders are not great fans of the existing system of alliances but offer no alternative system of collective security. They talk about sharing resources in the South and East China Seas, but have offered no definite proposals to this end.

Disappointed by what it sees as its lack of influence in international organisations, China led the establishment of the Shanghaibased New Development Bank in 2014, of which all the Brics countries are members and which looks like a tenderfoot to the World Bank. It has also set up an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to rival the ADB.

A late appearance is not unusual for a great power. It took a world war to draw the United States irreversibly onto the world stage. Over 200 years, through much pain and suffering, China has transformed the very centre of its identity, changing itself from an inwardand backward-looking society to an outward- and forward-looking power. Since 1978, it has shown both flexibility and firm resolve in its continued pursuit of wealth and power.

Many countries around the world respect, and would like to imitate, the undemocratic but efficient way that China has managed its decades of growth. But how exactly to go about it? What do they know that the rest of the world doesn’t? Well, for one thing, they don’t believe that they are superior to others or destined by the Divine to be great. They know they have to work for it.

They are honest with themselves. More importantly, they know how. While the Western culture teaches people to be “themselves”, there could be no advice more hollow than this.

Confucius, Mencius, Zhuangzi and other Chinese thinkers, more than 2,000 years ago taught that we shouldn’t be looking for our essential self, let alone seeking to embrace it, because there is no true, absolute self to begin with.

As they understood, human beings are messy, multi-dimensional beings, a tangle of conflicting emotions and capabilities in a messy, ever-changing world. We are who we are by reacting to one another. It’s no wonder that the Chinese leadership is turning to ancient philosophy for support. That’s something to learn from China.

 From Asia News Network THE DAILY STAR

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Malaysia's Budget 2017 Highlights

Here are the highlights of the 2017 Budget proposals announced on Friday by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak:

Lower corporate tax

* Govt has proposed to reduce the corporate tax for the year of assessment 2017 and 2018

* Reduce tax rate between 1 and 4 percentage points for companies with significant increase in taxable income for year of assessment 2017 and 2018.

* Reduce tax rate from 19% to 18% for SMEs with taxable income up to first RM500,000.

* Extend double taxation promotion on operating expenditure borne by anchor companies for the Vendor Development Programme until 31 December 2020.

Amendment to Bankruptcy Act 1967

* To enable bankrupt individuals to rejoin business activities by amending the Bankruptcy Act for social guarantors and those diagnosed with chronic diseases as well as the elderly.

Infrastructure, railway projects

* New 600km East Coast Rail Line connecting Klang Valley to East Coast, costing RM55b. Conects Port Klang, ITT Gombak, Bentong, Mentakab, Kuantan, Kemaman, Kerteh, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu ends in Tumpat

* RM100m to restore East Coast railway line along Gua Musang – Tumpat that was destroyed during flood.

* To increase trip frequency of ETS for JB-Padang Besar route, RM1.1b allocation to buy more train sets

Boosting investments in small, midcap companies

* Govt-linked investment companies will set aside up to RM3b to fund managers to invest in potential small and midcap firms

* Capital Market Research Institute will set up Capital Market Development Fund with initial funding of RM75m

* Stamp duty on instruments of transfer of real estate worth more than RM1m to rise from 3% to 4% from Jan 1, 2018

Broadband incentives for rakyat

* Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will provide RM1 billion to ensure the coverage and quality of broadband nationwide reaches up to 20 megabytes per second.

* From January 2017, fixed line broadband service providers will offer services at a higher speed for the same price.

* A subscriber of 5 mbs per second package at RM149 will enjoy a package with twice the speed, which is 10 megabytes per second. Within the next two years, for this package, the speed will be doubled with the reduction in prices by 50%.

BR1M, subsidies

* BR1M’s assistance for 2017. Households with monthly income below RM3,000, raised to RM1,200

* For households earning RM3,000-RM4,000, the BR1M allocation increased from RM800 to RM900

* Government will provide nearly RM10b for fuel subsidies including cooking gas, toll charges, public transport

* For the purchase of reading materials, PCs, sports equipment be combined as lifestyle tax relief up to RM2,500 from 2017

Affordable housing for first time buyers

*Govt vacant lands at strategic locations will be given to GLCs and PR1MA to build 30,000 houses. The selling price RM150,000 to RM300,000.

*Govt to build 10,000 houses in urban areas for rental to eligible youths with permanent job, Rental up to 5yrs, below than market rate

* Rakyat-Centric projects will be continued through Private Finance Initiative with allocation of RM10b

Empowering taxi drivers, Uber

* Taxi drivers to get Govt grant of RM5,000 to buy new vehicles, individual taxi permits, RM60m allocation

* For ride-sharing drivers who don't own car, down payment can be made using BR1M, rebate RM4,000 to buy Proton Iriz*

Private retirement schemes

* Effective 2017, the Government proposes to introduce a one-off increase of the existing RM500 incentive to RM1,000 to PRS contributors. Minimum accumulated investment of RM1,000 during the otwo years. For this, an allocation of RM165mil will be provided.

* RM400 million will be allocated, among others for clean air and ecotourism initiatives

Source: The Star


Budget 2017 Archives - BAJET Malaysia
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Friday, 21 October 2016

China space economy developing rapidly, the most accurate atomic clock in the world

Snail-like progress By Cai Meng

New company set up to develop space economy

The commercialization of rocket launches will boost the industry by bringing space tourism income and attracting private investment, experts said.

ChinaRocket Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the country's largest developer of ballistic missiles and carrier rockets, was established on Wednesday, marking the commercialization of China's space industry, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Chinese commercial space enterprises are lagging behind the global market due to lack of complete production chain in the commercial space industry and experience in commercial space activities like space tourism," Li Hong, president of the academy, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"Commercializing rocket launches will help develop the industry as many private companies will be interested in the sector," Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Science of Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Jiao said the establishment of the company signals that State-controlled space industry is stepping into ordinary people's daily life.

Han Qingping, president of ChinaRocket, said at the press conference that the company would focus on keeping the cost 30 percent lower than an average launch through the "standardization of the interface between satellite and rocket as well as advance preparation."

According to Han, China will develop reusable sub-orbital vehicles in five to 10 years.

Han said the company will launch individual space travel services like "space taxi, free space ride and space shuttle bus" to promote the space economy.

According to Xinhua, ChinaRocket's individual space travel package would cost about $200,000.

Huang Jun, a professor at the School of Aeronautic Science and Engineering at Beihang University, said that "many countries have been studying the reusability of carrier devices and aircraft, but it will take at least one to two decades before visitors can afford a space trip."

The market value of commercial space in China would reach 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) annually by 2020, Xinhua reported, citing Hu Shengyun, a senior rocket engineer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

By Leng Shumei Global Times

China's atomic clock: The most accurate clock in the world

China's atomic clock: The most accurate clock in the world

China's cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won't have to be reset for another 30 million years.

China's cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won't have to be reset for another 30 million years.

Cold atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world. Low-frequency lasers lower their internal temperatures to 273 degrees centigrade below zero, and slow down the movement of atoms inside. Slow-moving atoms decrease the likelihood of counting errors, and result in a more accurate counting of time.

"The frequency of the atom will not change. It is the same wherever it is. Unlike in mechanical clocks and electric clocks, atomic clocks aren't drastically affected by their surrounding environment. We are going to operate the most accurate cold atomic clock in space. It is the first time ever, not only for our country, but also for the world," Liu Liang, chief designer of Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

Rubidium atoms count time inside China's cold atomic clock. Atoms are usually affected by gravity, but the low level of gravity in space will weaken the earth's gravitational pull and increase the accuracy of China's cold atomic clock.

"Atoms usually fall because of gravity, making it difficult to keep track of time for a long time. But up in space, we don't have that problem," Liu said.

The launch of Tiangong-2 marks China's transition from a follower in space research, to a pioneer. China's cold atomic clock project is a good example of that transition.

"The initial plan was brought up in 2006. We have made great efforts over the past ten years. We have been through a lot... and we have been successful" Liu said.

It took years of scientific work to get China's cold atomic clock into space. Researchers are now devising ways how to use the clock to benefit people down on earth.

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