Highlights:

  1. King opens 14th Parliament
  2. Retail sector growth revised higher to 5.3 per cent post-GE 14
  3. RAM Ratings projects 2018 global Sukuk issuance up to US$85 bln
  4. MOHR conducting surveys to identify key labour cost indicators
  5. 80% of SMEs have not invested in cyber-security

King opens 14th Parliament
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, opened the first meeting of the first session of the 14th Parliament today. He drew applause and cheers from the MPs when he jokingly advised everyone to remain in their seats and not leave as he prepared to deliver his royal address. The remark seems to refer to the incident at the swearing-in of MPs yesterday when several opposition MPs walked out to protest the procedure in the election of the new Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat. “Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, President of the Dewan Negara and Honourable Members of the House, please be seated and do not leave,” His Majesty said with a smile and then sat down to deliver the royal address. In his royal address, the King praised the new Pakatan Harapan government for upholding transparency, making particular reference to the government’s revealing of the actual financial position of the country, its review of expenditure and costs of projects and its prudent financial management. He also expressed his support for the government’s decision to zero-rate the Goods and Services Tax. The King also registered his appreciation to the people for their contribution to Tabung Harapan Negara.

Retail sector growth revised higher to 5.3 per cent post-GE 14
Malaysia’s retail sector is estimated to chalk up a growth of 5.3 per cent after the 14th General Election and revised from an earlier estimate of 4.7 per cent. Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) Sdn. Bhd. Managing Director Tan Hai Hsin said, the psychological factor, taken into account when measuring consumer sentiment, boosted the confidence level improve after May 9. However, despite the better projection for the year, Tan reminded the government to provide more concrete guidelines pertaining to the Sales and Services Tax (SST) to the public. “We need more information on the implementation of the SST. With greater clarity, it would be easier for the public to digest the SST as compared to the Goods and Services Tax (GST),” he said. Yesterday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed that the provision of services will be taxed at six per cent under the reintroduced SST, while the sales of goods will incur a 10 per cent tax.

RAM Ratings projects 2018 global Sukuk issuance up to US$85 bln
RAM RAM Ratings has maintained its projected global Sukuk issuance for 2018 at between US$75 billion and US$85 billion, based on the growth trends in Sukuk issues from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the first six months of this year. Head of Islamic Finance, Ruslena Ramli said the Sukuk market’s showing in 2018 would depend on the performance of the global economy and the state of investment recovery in key Islamic finance countries. “Malaysia still leads in terms of the number of Sukuk issuance and financing amount,” she said. As at end-June 2018, total global Sukuk issuance slipped 5.2 per cent year-on-year to US$50.3 billion from US$53.0 billion at end-June 2017. This was largely attributed to a decline in Sukuk issuance from Qatar (-63.6 per cent), Saudi Arabia (-37.9 per cent) and Turkey (-18 per cent).

MOHR conducting surveys to identify key labour cost indicators
The Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (ILMIA), Ministry of Human Resources, is currently conducting the “National Employment Returns 2018” and the “National Labour Cost Survey 2017”. A statement from the Ministry said both the studies would enable the Ministry to update the profile of the Malaysian workforce while identifying the key labour cost indicators. Some crucial indicators that would be attained from these studies include data on workers’ pay and benefits and total hours worked. The data points from the study would also be crucial to the Ministry for future policy planning. Both these studies will involve employers from all industries as per the Malaysia Standard Industrial Classification (MSIC, 2008) and Malaysian Standard Classification of Occupations (MASCO, 2013). The statement added that the surveys were distributed since May 2018 and employers who have been selected to participate in these surveys are required to complete the surveys before the 15th of July 2018. Failure to complete the survey is an offence under the Employment Information Act 1953.

Cyber-security is a business problem
As Malaysia’s economy gears up to go high tech so too has the rise in cyber-crimes. This, however, is a big concern for Malaysian companies going digital as 62% said they fear cyber-attacks and this has hindered digital transformation projects. “Technology is developing so fast and the democratisation of technology in the form of the Internet has allowed for the rapid rise of digital companies. But the underlying way of doing business has not changed,” said Microsoft Malaysia’s national technology officer Dr Dzahar Mansor during the launch of a study Microsoft did in collaboration with Frost and Sullivan. Worryingly, CyberSecurity Malaysia found that 80% of Small Medium Enterprises (SME) have not invested in cyber-security due to cost while others are not aware that they need to. Its chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab warned that cyber-threats can target any industry. The bigger the organisation, the more likely they are to be attacked as they make for compelling targets. He found that it was all too common that top executives view cyber-security as an IT problem that needs to be addressed by the IT department. The reality is that these incidents affect the organisations as a whole resulting in economic loss. CyberSecurity Malaysia found that there were more than 20,000 cyber-security incidents recorded from January 2016 to May 2018. But at the same time, SMEs are not excluded as they make up for this in terms of volume and are typically not well protected.