Highlights:

  1. Ministers take a 10-per cent pay cut
  2. SPAD, Jasa among entities disbanded to reduce government spending
  3. Government will not buy back Proton
  4. Malaysian SMEs benefit from BizSmart’s New Reality TV Show
  5. Asean CEOs optimistic about growth in the face of unprecedented headwinds
  6. Land use regulations price out home buyers in Adelaide

Ministers take 10 per cent pay cut
The new Pakatan Harapan Cabinet held its first meeting today, chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Speaking to the media after the meeting at Putrajaya, Tun Dr Mahathir said the ministers would take a 10 per cent pay cut with immediate effect. “We are concerned about the country´s financial problem,” he said. Dr Mahathir said the 10 per cent deduction would be from the basic salary of the ministers. Asked whether senior government officers would be subjected to a salary deduction as well, he said it was up to them. “This is a habit of mine because when I first became the Prime Minister in 1981, the first thing I did was to cut the salary of not only the ministers but also the senior civil servants who have a higher pay than the ministers. “It is up to them (senior civil servants). If they feel they want to contribute towards reducing the cost of running this country, they can do so. We are not forcing them, ” he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir also announced the disbandment of several government-linked agencies and institutions to reduce government spending. These entities include the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), Special Affairs Department (Jasa), the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), the National Council of Professors (MPN) and the Federal Village Development and Security Committee (JKKKP). “Most of these institutions are not actually part of the government, (they are) supposed to advise the government. All these things will be disbanded.” Tun Dr Mahathir said the matter of disbanding the entities was discussed at the Cabinet meeting which focused on introducing measures to reduce the national debt that had reached RM1 trillion under the previous government.

On another matter, Tun Dr Mahathir said the government would not buy back Proton Holdings Berhad as it now belongs to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary. Syed Mokhtar holds an indirect 55.92 per cent stake in DRB-Hicom Bhd via his private vehicle, Etika Strategi Sdn Bhd, in which he has a 90 per cent equity interest. Proton was set up in 1983 as the country’s first national car maker and Tun Dr Mahathir’s brainchild during his 22-year premiership. However, Proton has incurred losses over the years and this led to the selling of a 49.9 per cent stake in the company to China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd for a total of RM460.3 million in June last year. Passenger vehicles total industry volume stood at 514,679 units in 2017, out of which Proton sales amounted to 70,991 units. At its peak, Proton dominated domestic automobile sales with nearly 80 per cent of new passenger cars sold.

Malaysian SMEs benefit from BizSmart’s New Reality TV Show
The SME business programme that has helped local brand names such as Christy Ng Shoes, Twenty3, Biji-Biji Initiative, and NutriBrownRice grow their businesses, returns for the fifth time. Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad, in partnership with Eco World Development Group Berhad, recently launched the BizSmart Challenge 2018, a business programme that provides realistic business challenges designed to equip young Malaysian entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge and skills so they can stay in business for the long-term. Over the past years, the programme has seen tremendous success, lending support and guidance to the local startup and SME scene. More than 110 high potential alumni have achieved varying degrees of success through the media exposure, training, mentorship, and networking the challenge provided them.

Asean CEOs cautiously optimistic about growth in the face of unprecedented headwinds
88% of Asean CEOs are confident about their company’s growth prospect in the next three years, a sentiment shared by CEOs globally (90%).vHowever, according to the 2018 Global CEO Outlook report by KPMG International, this optimism is married with a healthy dose of realism as 77% of Asean leaders are predicting a cautious revenue growth of 2% or less over the next three years for their organisation. More than half of CEOs in Asean (64%) also noted the need to hit growth targets before hiring new skills. Consequently, they expect headcount to increase by less than 5% over the next three years. This evidence of pragmatism doesn’t surprise Johan Idris, managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia, who commented: “Across the board, CEOs are driving growth against a backdrop of significant demographic shifts, geopolitical volatility and the seemingly inevitable future cyber-attacks. It’s clear that driving growth in 2018 and beyond will require CEOs to combine resourcefulness and realism in equal measure.” Two-thirds (66%) of CEOs in Asean are struggling to run parallel processes to transform the digital and non-digital aspects of their business, to a greater extent than their global counterpart (30%). Nevertheless, Asean CEOs are embracing the digital agenda. 72% are personally ready to lead a radical organisation transformation. 73% see protecting customer data as a critical personal responsibility Counter to popular opinion, 87% expect AI to create more jobs than it destroys.

Land use regulations price out home buyers in Adelaide
Restrictive land use regulations are a component of Australia’s housing affordability crisis and have reduced affordable property options in Adelaide’s suburbs, according to a new study by Flinders University. Research Associate Dr Michael McGreevy from the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity analysed the impact of prohibitive land use regulations in Glenelg, Hallet Cove, Seaford and Mawson Lakes. The research reveals there are significantly more affordable properties available, for both rent and sale, in Adelaide suburbs where land use regulations, specifically minimum allotment sizes, have been absent for prolonged periods of time. “The study also shows there is a direct link between the type of housing on offer and affordability when it comes time to rent or purchase a property,” The study shows land use regulations have reduced housing yields from ad hoc redevelopments and contributed to an imbalance between townhouses, and walk up flats and detached houses.