• RM92 billion investments in manufacturing, services and primary sectors approved in 1H2019
  • Technical committee to meet on proposed for amendments to Labour Laws
  • HK SME food and beverage firms first to benefit from Li Ka-shing’s fund
  • Hong Kong finance chief warns of full-year negative growth
  • Singapore targets 350,000 households in new solar energy target
  • Thailand’s Anti-Fake News Centre to begin work Friday

MITI approved RM91.9 bln investments in manufacturing, services & primary sectors in 1H2019
Malaysia’s total approved investments in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors increased 7.6 per cent to RM91.9 billion in the first half of 2019 from RM85.5 billion in the same period in 2018. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) said this was attributed to improvement in the governance implemented by the government under the mid-term review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan. “Investment performance in the first six months of 2019 clearly reflects increased investor confidence towards investing in Malaysia, supported by the policies and economic direction under the current administration. According to MITI, in the manufacturing sector in particular, total approved investment in the January-June 2019 period was RM33.1 billion, of which RM25.1 billion or 76 per cent was made up of foreign direct investment. It stated that the US, China and Singapore were the largest contributors to the investments, particularly in the electrical and electronics, transportation technology, and paper manufacturing industries.

Additional technical committee meeting proposed for amendments to Labour Laws
An additional technical committee meeting is being proposed next week for the proposed amendments to the Employment Act 1955 and Trade Unions Act 1959. Human Resources Minister M. Kula Segaran made the suggestion at the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), today. “This will be in addition to the numerous technical committee meetings that have been conducted before,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the NLAC meeting. During the meeting, Kula Segaran said he also highlighted the significance of the United States trade sanctions against Thailand in relation to the mistreatment of workers, and the immediate need to rectify the treatment of workers in Malaysia. “As such, amendments to labour laws, particularly in relation to compliance to international labour standards should be expedited to avoid any similar sanctions against Malaysian companies,” he said.

Hong Kong food and beverage firms first to get cash from Li Ka-shing’s HK$1 billion donation
Hong Kong’s struggling food and beverage businesses will get the first batch of relief funds under a scheme proposed by tycoon Li Ka-shing’s charity, with HK$200 million to be allocated to small and medium-sized firms by the end of November. The Li Ka Shing Foundation said on Tuesday the money was part of a HK$1 billion fund it announced earlier to help hard-hit SMEs in difficult times. Under the scheme, each eligible restaurant is expected to get HK$60,000 before the end of next month. Hong Kong has had to withstand the double whammy of a slowing global economy and the ongoing anti-government protests. The foundation said it rolled out the proposal because it had seen the industry faced worsening difficulties and the situation was more serious than when the SARs outbreak hit Hong Kong in 2003.

In a related development, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said various sectors had been forced to bear huge costs from protest disruption and attacks over more than four months of social unrest. “The government will be announcing its advance estimates for the third quarter on Thursday. After seeing negative growth in the second quarter, the situation continued in the third quarter, meaning our economy has entered technical recession,” he wrote in his blog. “It seems it will be extremely difficult for us to reach full-year economic growth of 0 to 1 per cent. I would not rule out the possibility that the full-year economic growth will be negative.” Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced in her policy address earlier this month that Hong Kong had already slipped into a technical recession in the third quarter, after two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. Chan said while the government had rolled out various measures to help the ailing tourism, trade and retail sectors, the real problems could only be solved by ending the violence on the streets.

Singapore sets solar energy target for 2030
Singapore has set a new target for solar energy which aims to produce enough power by 2030 to meet the annual needs of about 350,000 households. This represents 4 per cent of Singapore’s total electricity demand today. Presently, solar energy makes up less than 1 per cent of Singapore’s energy demand. Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing said Singapore is currently on track to meet it previous solar target of 350 megawatt-peak by 2020. He said the new target would build on that to provide at least 2 gigawatt-peak power.

Thailand launches ‘fake news’ monitoring hub
Thailand is set to open its first centre to combat fake news, making it the first in Asia to push for greater scrutiny. Digital Economy and Society Minister, Buddhipongse Punnakanta said the Anti-Fake News Centre will start work on Friday using artificial intelligence and trained human monitors to flag posts on everything from health care to government policies. “Every country faces the issue of fake news … especially Thai people,” Buddhipongse said. According to him, almost 80 per cent of online or social media posts are false or misleading. The new centre has a Facebook page, Line messaging group and website, where examples of its findings will be published and where users can submit tip-offs. Buddhipongse rebuffed allegations by civil society that the new centre would be one-stop-shop for monitoring dissent.
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