Highlights:

  1. PM speaks of ambition to start a new national car project
  2. PM wants to kick start the EAEC
  3. Trump and Kim will discuss peace, denuclearisation
  4. Hotel Association calls for abolition of tourism tax
  5. Malaysia’s April 2018 manufacturing sales records 8.2 per cent growth

A new national car in the pipeline?

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed his ambition to start a new national car project. He pointed out that Proton, which he launched, was no longer a national car. “Our ambition is to start a (new) national car with partners in the region,” he said, mentioning countries such as Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand. Speaking at the 24th International Conference on the Future of Asia or Nikkei Conference, in Tokyo, Dr Mahathir said these countries were able to produce quality and marketable cars. “We want to access world markets (with the new car project),” he added.

Asked on his views on regional trade pacts, Tun Dr Mahathir said there is a need to kick-start the East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC) initiative to counter the growing trade protectionism shown by countries such as the United States. “Now, the United States has become isolationist again. So, we need to consider the formation of the EAEC more seriously,” he told the Nikkei Conference, Dr Mahathir, who first mooted the idea of the EAEC in 1997, said the proposed regional free trade zone should also include countries such as India and those in Central Asia. Tun Dr Mahathir is currently on a three-day working visit to Japan.

Singapore PM met separately with US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of summit

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and United States President Donald Trump held a bilateral meeting today, just one day before Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are due to meet for a planned summit on Sentosa island. Mr Trump was accompanied by secretary of state Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House chief of staff John Kelly. Meanwhile North Korean media said Kim Jong Un and President Trump will discuss a “permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism” and the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula when they meet tomorrow. The two leaders will also be discussing other issues of mutual concern at the historic summit hosted by Singapore at the Capella hotel on Sentosa island. Mr Kim Jong Un met Mr Lee yesterday. “The entire world is focusing on the historic summit between the DPRK and the US, and thanks to your sincere efforts … we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit, and I would like to thank you for that,” Mr Kim, speaking through an interpreter, told PM Lee.

Tourism tax should be abolished – MAH

The Malaysian Association of Hotels has called on the government to abolish the tourism tax, describing it as counter productive to the tourism industry. Association President, Cheah Swee Hee made the call during a meeting with the Council of Eminent Persons in Kuala Lumpur. He said the tax, which became effective 1 September last year, among others, discouraged long stay in the country. “The moment we have a flat rate we are not actually encouraging long stay because we are charging based on every night they stay,” he told reporters. Under the tourism tax, foreign hotel guests have to pay a flat fee of RM10 per room per night, regardless of the hotel’s star rating. Cheah also called on the federal government to create a new regulation on unlicensed hotels such as those promoted via AirBNB to make a level playing ground for everyone.

Malaysia’s April 2018 manufacturing sales records 8.2 per cent growth

Malaysia’s April 2018 manufacturing sales recorded a growth of 8.2 per cent in rising to RM65.5 billion as compared to RM60.5 billion reported a year ago. The Department of Statistics noted that the significant increase in sales value in April was due to an increase in electrical and electronics products (13.9 per cent), petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic products (6.3 per cent) and food, beverages and tobacco products (6.4 per cent). As for total employees engaged in the manufacturing sector for the month, the number increased by 2.1 per cent to 1.07 million persons versus 1.05 persons in April 2017. “Salaries and wages paid rose 10.2 per cent to record RM3.8 billion, thus registering an average of RM3,577 per employee in April,” it said. Sales value per employee gained 6.0 per cent to record RM61,226 as compared with the same month of the previous year.