Highlights:

  1. Employers must make SOCSO contributions for foreign workers from January
  2. Surveys shows all around lower salary increments and bonuses
  3. Investors see country’s fundamentals and stability as main selling points
  4. BNM & Dubai Financial Services Authority team up on supervisory cooperation
  5. Asia’s largest toys and games fair in Hong Kong next month
  6. Mandarin Orchard Singapore food poisoning: Main ballroom banquets halted, guest reports second outbreak

Employers must make SOCSO contributions for foreign workers from January
The Human Resource Ministry will make it compulsory for employers to make contributions to the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) for the nation’s 1.8 million foreign workers from January next year  Its Minister M Kula Segaran said the matter had been approved by the Cabinet, where a one-year period (from Jan 1 2019 to Jan 1 2020) would be given for employers to settle the outstanding compensation of their workers before the employees are registered with Socso. “Within that one year, Socso will also reach out to employers to assist them on payments regarding outstanding compensation,” he told reporters after chairing the National Labour Advisory Council Meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The meeting was also attended by the president of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Tan Sri Azman Shah Haron and the president of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor.

Surveys shows all around lower salary increments and bonuses
Employers granted lower salary increases and bonuses throughout 2018 and the forecasted outlook for salary increases and bonuses in 2019 was just as bleak, as revealed by the 2018 MEF Salary Surveys for Executives and Non-Executives. MEF President Tan Sri Azman Shah Dato’ Seri Haron said that 92.4% of respondents granted salary increase to executives as compared to 94.3% in 2017, while it was 92.7% for non-executives (94.6% in 2017). “The average salary increase for executives in 2018 was also lower at 4.88% (5.55% in 2017), and it was also lower for the non-executives at 4.88% (5.44% in 2017). The overall average forecasted salary increase for executives in 2019 is 4.86% as compared to 4.88% in 2018, while it was 4.89% in 2019 (4.88% in 2018) for the non-executives,” said Tan Sri Azman. “In terms of bonus, 78.2% of respondent companies granted bonus to all executives as compared to 77.7% in 2017, and for non-executives it’s 78.7% compared to 76.9% in 2017. Average forecasted bonus for 2019 also dipped for executives at 2.06 months (2.18 months in 2018) but increased for non-executives with 1.97 months which was slightly higher than the 1.95 months of actual bonus in 2018.” Tan Sri Azman said the global recession, increasing social costs and political uncertainties following GE14 were among factors influencing the employers’ cautious attitude.

Investors see country’s fundamentals and stability as main selling points
The Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) said investors consider Malaysia’s economic fundamentals and political stability as the main points to consider when investing in the country, and it will always be back to “business as usual” for them, whenever there is a ripple amidst the calm. Its First Vice-President Loo Kok Seon said that for them, Malaysia’s unity and racial harmony has been intact and deemed important to ensuring the country is stable, for the economy to progress. To a question posed by Bernama as to the factors relevant for business to thrive, he said foreign investors have always seen Malaysia’s racial unity, harmony and political stability as among the main selling points to doing business in the country.

BNM & Dubai Financial Services Authority team up on supervisory cooperation
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on supervisory cooperation for effective supervision of banking and insurance/takaful/reinsurance institutions operating in both countries. BNM said in a statement that the MoU signifies continuous efforts to promote financial stability in both jurisdictions. It also provides a strong foundation for further development of effective supervisory systems in accordance with the principles set out in the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision, International Association of Insurance Supervision for Insurance Core Principles and the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations on Anti-Money Laundering. The MoU outlines cooperation and coordination between the authorities in the areas of exchange of information, facilitation of consolidated and cross-border on-site supervision, issuance of licenses and combating money laundering and terrorism financing.  The Central Bank said these specific areas of cooperation are timely as regional and international trade and investment linkages continue to expand with increasing cross-border banking and insurance/takaful/reinsurance activities in both countries.

Asia’s largest toys and games fair in Hong Kong next month
Asia’s largest toys and games fair— the 45th edition of Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair – will be held from 7-10 January 2019 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) featuring 2,100 exhibitors, the 10th edition of Hong Kong Baby Products Fair will also be staged at that time. A statement from HKTDC said the fair will feature pavilions from Mainland China, Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UK, as well as the World of Toys pavilion with exhibitors mainly from Europe. The baby products fair will welcome almost 600 exhibitors and will feature the signature Brand Name Gallery with over 45 trusted brands. This year a new zone is inaugurated – maternity products for pre- and post-natal needs. The Smart-Tech Toys zone will gather products operated via mobile apps or incorporated with VR, AR and MR technologies. A STREAM Toys Product Display will also be set up to highlight educational toys featuring science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and maths.

Mandarin Orchard Singapore food poisoning: Guest reports second outbreak

Banquet operations at Mandarin Orchard Singapore’s main ballroom have been suspended with immediate effect, and will not be reopened until clearance is given by the authorities, the hotel told Channel NewsAsia today. The suspension comes three days after a food poisoning outbreak from a lunch banquet at the hotel on Sunday left 42 people ill, with four of them hospitalised. It also comes as reports emerged of a second food poisoning outbreak from a separate event held on Sunday evening at the Grand Mandarin Ballroom. The hotel added that the suspension does not extend to other restaurants and function venues. The Ministry of Health, National Environment Agency (NEA) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said they are investigating the outbreak of gastroenteritis, which has been traced to food prepared at the hotel on Sunday.