Editor’s Picks: 5 October 2017

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Highlights:
  • Bank Negara to decide by 31 December if cryptocurrency should be banned
  • PI1M Helps Entrepreneurs Grow Business Online
  • Financial Sector Can Leverage on FSPB Guidance Notes On Ethics
  • 33 Government Departments, Agencies in Sarawak Have Signed Corruption-Free Pledge
  • Go For Startup As Side Project — TechLadies Founder
  • Indonesia Prepares Regulations to Encourage Investments In Oil and Gas
  • Call center nation puts up a fight as automation steals jobs
  • South Korea’s Jeju Island struggles as Chinese tourists desert it

Bank Negara to decide by December 31 if alternative cryptocurrency should be banned
Those investing in cryptocurrency will know by the end of the year if it would be a legal investment scheme in Malaysia. As other countries have increasingly banned this form of currency, Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim (pic) said that it would make a decision on the matter by the end of the year. He said that if Bank Negara decided to recognise cryptocurrency, then guidelines would be issued by the end of the year on Malaysia’s approach towards investing in it. “The guidelines will address issues in terms of registering the players, collecting data and ensuring that whatever they do will be transparent,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. Other countries in the region that have placed an official ban on cryptocurrency include China and South Korea. Only Japan has recognised this form of currency, which was established by a person from that country as an alternative to the current form of money.

PI1M Helps Entrepreneurs Grow Business Online
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), through the 1Malaysia Internet Centre (PI1M), has been cultivating entrepreneurial spirit in the community by capitalising on the Internet access facilities provided. Its Chairman, Tan Sri Dr Halim Shafie said PI1M has now shifted from its original goal of increasing Internet access in the rural areas when it was set up 10 years ago to providing various programmes to raise the socio-economic wellbeing of the people. He said the country’s broadband penetration rate reached 81.7 per cent as at the first quarter of this year as result of government policies implemented through the MCMC such as the National Broadband Initiative. “With higher level of access now, the PI1M has shifted its focus to organising various programmes besides basic ICT skills to enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of the people,” he said.

Financial Sector Can Leverage on FSPB Guidance Notes On Ethics
The Malaysian financial services industry (FSI) can freely leverage the newly released ‘Guidance Notes’ to the Code of Ethics (CoE) for the industry, the Financial Services Professional Board (FSPB) said. Its Chairman, Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid said the Guidance Notes provided additional guidance and explanation on how each of the principles in the CoE applies in practice through appropriate policies, procedures and processes within an organisation. He said organisations in the industry could use the CoE principles to assess if they have the proper policies and procedures in place. “These Notes explore how the five principles can be achieved and applied in organisations across the FSI.”

33 Government Departments, Agencies in Sarawak Have Signed Corruption-Free Pledge
33 government departments and agencies in Sarawak, including the Sarawak Football Association (FAS) have signed the Corruption-Free Pledge (IBR). Sarawak Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) director-general Datuk Badrul Shah Norman said IBR was an initiative which emphasised on voluntary integrity pledges made by organisation leaders and staff, in their personal capacity. “Today, the Sarawak Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) was the latest agency to sign the IBR.

Go For Startup As Side Project — TechLadies Founder
“Do startup as a side project,” advised Elisha Tan, founder of TechLadies, to those who are keen to start a new enterprise. As a person who once experienced a failed startup, she said, a side project would give a person the stability, especially financially, and also provide more time to consider what is the best business model. “Besides, if a side project fails, it does not matter because you still have a strong safety net for you,” she told Bernama on the sidelines of the MaGIC Academy Symposium 2017 in Cyberjaya.

Indonesia Prepares Regulations to Encourage Investments In Oil and Gas
Indonesia’s Finance Ministry said the government is preparing a regulation on the gross-split scheme, which will encourage oil and gas companies involved in exploration and exploitation to invest in the sector through the provision of tax incentives. “We are trying to provide investors with fiscal incentives, incentives in income tax (PPh) and added-value tax (PPN),” Finance Deputy Minister Mardiasmo said in Jakarta. He added that the incentives were based on existing regulations on cost recovery. Under the scheme, taxes would be waived for the company during its exploration stage, he said, adding that accumulated operational costs of the exploration would be deducted from the company’s income tax.

Call center nation puts up a fight as automation steals jobs
Since the early 2000s, the Philippines added more than a million jobs as foreign companies outsourced customer support and sales tasks to the Southeast Asian nation. Now a looming wave of automation is threatening employment at call centers and forcing the industry to retrain workers to meet the demand for higher skilled jobs in areas such as healthcare, banking, finance and insurance. “The biggest challenge is people,” Jojo Uligan, president of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines or CCAP, said in an interview at his office in Manila. “We lack people with enough technical expertise and experience to service emerging needs.” The Philippines is the world’s top call center destination with companies like Accenture Plc and American Express Co among those that have set up shop in the Southeast Asian nation. They’ve been lured by cheaper wages, Filipinos’s cultural affinity with the West, and a 100 million population that’s mostly fluent in English. With technology constantly advancing, machines are now able to replicate some of the tasks that people do, including customer relations. More than half of outsourced jobs could be lost in a few years unless significant retraining is done, according to a study by Tholons Capital, a New York-based consultancy. In India, robots are now replacing warehouse workers, for example.

South Korea’s Jeju Island struggles as Chinese tourists desert it
Jeju Island, often referred to as the ‘Hawaii of South Korea’ is feeling the heat as Beijing bans package tours to the country after a diplomatic spat over a missile system, but some see hope in domestic visitors. China has banned travel agencies from selling package tours to South Korea in protest at Seoul’s decision earlier this year to deploy a controversial, US-made missile defence system that Beijing sees as a threat to its security. The ban is still in place for China’s eight-day “Golden Week” national holiday period that began on October 1, and Jeju Island has been hardest hit because 90 per cent of its foreign visitors come from China. “There used to be 300 to 400 guides for Chinese tourists on the island, but now there are no more than 50,” said Park Jung-kwan, a 39-year-old Chinese native who migrated to Jeju to work as a tour guide and hire-car driver. Park said his business has fallen by at least 50 per cent from last year, even though he targets mostly individual travellers who are not covered by the package tour ban. Jeju and its around 600,000 population have benefited from the Chinese tourist dollar since 2008, when it started offering visa-free entry for Chinese citizens. The island is only a one-hour flight from Shanghai and two and a half hours from Beijing. But between January and July this year the number of Chinese visitors fell to 589,100, 66.8 per cent lower than the 1.77 million in the same period of 2016. Nevertheless, some business owners remain upbeat. “Jeju Island is one of the top resort destinations for domestic travellers, and the number of domestic travellers has actually increased by 10 per cent compared to last year,” said Peter Gassner, regional vice-president of hotel development for the Asia-Pacific at Marriott International. “We will attract not only domestic travellers but also international travellers from Japan and the rest of the Asia-Pacific,” Gassner said.

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