Highlights:

  1. Associations call for dialogue on levy for foreign workers
  2. PM vows to fight corruption
  3. MOA launches E-Sart for complaints on bribes and misconducts
  4. Australia outlines tighter control as “strawberry scare” spreads to NZ and Singapore
  5. RHB first bank in Singapore to offer Cyber Insurance

Bosses willing to pay RM10k for three-year levy
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) said industries will be more receptive to a government levy of RM10,000 for three years instead of paying it annually so that employers can maintain skilled foreign workers and groom new skilled workers at the same time. FMM president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said the annual levy of RM10,000 was too high for employers.
“The industries are most likely to accept it if the levy is RM10,000 for three years and not every year. “RM30,000 for three years is too high. It will impact the SMEs. We hope the government can look at improving the competitiveness of the manufacturing and services industry,” Soh said yesterday. He was commenting on a statement by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng that employers would have to bear RM10,000 in full annually to maintain their skilled foreign workers. He urged the government to have a dialogue session with industry players to hear out their proposals.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said stakeholders were not consulted before the decision was announced. He said the levy was also against the principles adopted by many countries, including Singapore, where the levy on skilled employees was lower than other workers.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang hopes the government would meet the association to discuss a win-win solution. “Our original proposal is for the government to allow a three-year extension period for these workers. “The main idea is to assist the industries and maintain the productivity with their experience,” he said. Datuk Kang explained that within the extension period, the industries would move in automation and machinery operations and local staff would be trained to operate such equipment. “This will reduce the dependency on foreign workers,” he said.

PM vows to fight corruption
Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has vowed to ensure that the new Pakatan Harapan administration is corruption-free. “The first thing we need to do, of course, is for the leaders not to be corrupt. If the leaders are corrupt, then there’s no way we’re going to stop corruption from spreading. ‘’In any country, there would be corruption to some degree but the idea is to keep corruption to the minimum and that is done by what we call leadership by example,” he said at a panel discussion at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, moderated by Fareed Zakaria of CNN, in New York. Tun Dr Mahathir is in the US on a five-day working visit, during which he will attend the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.  He said Malaysians, at this moment, were convinced that the new government had managed to stop the corruption that had characterised the previous government.

MOA launches E-Sart for complaints on bribes and misconducts
In a related development, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA) has launched the MOA Integrity Complaint System (E-Sart) for the ministry’s staff and members of the public to share information or make complaints on matters related to corruption, bribery and misconduct among MOA employees. Its minister, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, said that the lack of integrity, which stems from individuals, can damage an organisation’s reputation. “Each complaint in the E-Sart will be processed and analysed before action is taken. “If there are elements of corruption or bribery, the information will immediately be channelled to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), while code of conduct violations will be handled by the MOA Integrity Unit,” he said.

Australia moves to revive confidence in strawberries
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australian shoppers to back farmers besieged by a contaminated fruit scare. Morrison outlined tighter export controls as the crisis – which has seen pins and needles inserted into fruit across the country – spread further overseas. The prime minister detailed several government-backed measures to restore confidence in the industry, including funding to review tamper-proof packaging options, and the recent introduction of X-rays and shrink wrapping on exports. The industry is reeling as a string of incidents over the past few weeks – many of them a copycat hoax – have unnerved grocery-shoppers and have police struggling to find the original offender. The crisis has spread overseas to New Zealand. In Singapore, the republic’s largest supermarket chain operator NTUC Fair Price today confirmed it had put a halt on all strawberry imports from Australia as a “precautionary measure”. It said strawberry sales had declined 10 percent since the reports of sabotage came to light.

RHB the first bank in Singapore to offer customers Cyber Insurance with free risk assessment and consultation
RHB Singapore announced today a partnership with Delta Insurance Singapore to be the first bank in Singapore to offer its commercial and corporate customers Cyber insurance with free risk assessment and consultation. An average cost of this service may range between $500 and $5,000 depending on the complexity of the services provided. Some of these value-added services may include business continuity planning, server monitoring, information communications and technologies policy consultation, and legal consultation on data privacy matters. In the event of a cyber-attack incident, companies insured under Delta’s cyber liability insurance policy, will have access to a professional team of subject matter experts to manage the crisis. With cyber incidents-crime annually costing an estimated USD1 trillion globally and above SGD2 billion in Singapore, RHB sees the urgent need to help its customers, particularly SMEs, understand the risks associated with cyber threats. Many cyber insurance policies only provide for coverage. RHB, together with Delta Insurance, go further by assisting businesses adopt a robust cyber risk management strategy to mitigate potential risks. Mr Daniel Yeo, Head of SME and Regional Sales Department, RHB Bank Singapore, said: “We are pleased to bring additional value to our clients with this partnership with Delta Insurance. Companies today, regardless of their size, are tapping on the rise of technology to boost productivity and to aid in their business expansion. As such, their exposure to cybercrime has also increased correspondingly.”