Highlights:

  1. Ombudsman proposed to review medical supplies purchases
  2. Sime Darby Plantation to be new constituent of Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25
  3. Hong Kong raises interest rate by 25 basis points, matching US Fed move as higher cost of money sets in
  4. Singapore’s Banks Concern to Implement MAS Notice 610 Next Year
  5. Reuters Wins SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism for Story on the Rohingya Crisis
  6. Taiwan Ministry of Education launches new online mandarin learning material

Think tank suggests ombudsman to review medical supplies purchases
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy has proposed the establishment of an independent body to review the Health Ministry’s medical supply and services procurement practices. Its chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said urgent reforms were needed in the sector following an allegation that a select group of companies with links to prominent public figures had been awarded multi-billion-ringgit contracts that resulted in a monopoly of controlled drugs, driving up their prices. He said the independent body should be tasked to review the Health Ministry’s procurement practices and offer its recommendations, saying transparency is needed to prevent future leakages running in the billions of ringgit. “The appointment of an independent ombudsman has the potential to regain, strengthen and sustain the confidence of Malaysians in the public procurement system,” he said. Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad recently announced the setting up of a taskforce to study the ministry’s medical supply practices. He said the taskforce would be studying a health procurement ombudsman’s office that is empowered to investigate and review procurement practices, adding that the reports would be made public.

Sime Darby Plantation to be new constituent of Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd. will be included in the Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25 Index following a review of the index for the second quarter of 2018. i-VCAP Management Sdn Bhd said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia that S&P Dow Jones Indices informed i-VCAP about the review of the Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25 Index, which is the benchmark index for MyETF Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25 (MYETFDJ). i-VCAP is the manager of MYETFDJ. i-VCAP said, “As a result of the review, one stock was added and one stock was removed from the fund, while the weightings of the remaining stocks in the fund have changed. The changes shall take effect after the close of trading on June 14, 2018.” According to i-VCAP, builder Gamuda Bhd. will be removed from the Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25 Index. The Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25 Index is designed to measure the top 25 stocks in the Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Index, which is comprised of Malaysia-domiciled companies that pass rules-based screens for adherance to Shariah investment guidelines.

Hong Kong raises interest rate by 25 basis points, matching US Fed move as higher cost of money sets in
Hong Kong’s base lending rate was raised by 25 basis points to 2.25, according to a statement by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, effective immediately. The US Fed raised its interest rate by the same amount to a range of 1.75 per cent to 2 per cent, the seventh time it has done so since December 2015. Eight of 15 Fed officials expect at least four rate increases will be needed this year to stave off inflation in the US economy, which implies two more increments in the remainder of this year. Those moves must be matched by the Hong Kong authority to maintain the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the US currency, which means a higher cost of money in the city that will spill over eventually to higher mortgage rates for the property sector.

Singapore’s Banks Concern To Implement MAS Notice 610 Next Year
Singapore’s banks cite their ability to successfully implement the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Notice 610 as their main concern for next year. More than half of the banks surveyed identify the regulatory change as their top single concern for the year ahead according to a new survey by Wolters Kluwer’s Finance, Risk and Reporting business. The survey asked more than 50 compliance, risk, finance and IT professionals at more than 25 banks in the country for their views on key challenges they face, a statement said. The scope of new proposals in the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s overhaul of the MAS 610 reporting regime for banks has taken many in the sector by surprise. The core set of returns that banks file to the MAS are being revised to require information at a far more granular level beginning next year.

Reuters Wins SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism for Story on the Rohingya Crisis
The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), a Hong Kong-based not-for-profit organization, has named Reuters as the winner of the SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism for its reporting on the Rohingya crisis. Now in its 20th year, the SOPA Awards are widely considered the most prestigious in the Asia-Pacific publishing and media industry. This year, the SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism replaces Journalist of the Year as the top award in an effort to honour outstanding work by individuals and teams that make an exemplary contribution to public service in the region. One of the journalists in the winning team is currently being detained in Myanmar as a result of his work covering the Rohingya crisis, which shows the ongoing challenges facing the media, the strong commitment and courage of journalists as well the need for the whole community to stand up for press freedom.

Taiwan Ministry of Education launches new online mandarin learning material
Taiwan Ministry of Education has launched an online learning initiative ‘Huayu 101’ – a brand new online Mandarin learning material in Taipei. The contents of ‘Huayu 101’ include accommodation, shopping, food ordering, traffic, emergency help and more. It is useful for foreign students and travellers who stay in Taiwan and can be applied to other Mandarin-speaking regions. The designer of ‘Huayu 101’, Professor Chang Yuhsin from the University of Taipei has more than 20 years Mandarin teaching experience. He and his team has collected key phrases that people should learn for basic survival to provide easier learning experience.