Malaysia-China relations: MH370 disaster - Disappearance of flight MH370, "a guarded state secret at the highest level" - journalist

I shall keep an eye on news on impacts on Malaysia-China trade and investment ties. View latest on China-Malaysia economic integration, http://khoryuleng.blogspot.my/2017/01/china-malaysia-economic-integration.htmlThis blog posting on Malaysia-China relations covers Sep 2015-Jun 2016, http://khoryuleng.blogspot.my/2015/09/malaysia-china-relations-2-statement.html. Blog posting started with the rise and wane of the MH370 crisis (and I need to update that one for the recent issues of MH370): http://khoryuleng.blogspot.my/2014/03/malaysia-china-relations.html

This starts with links on initial MH370 tourism impacts at the bottom. News and source updates will be added at the top. For notes and sources on MH17 and Malaysia-Russia on the radar, please refer to: /khoryuleng/2014/07/malaysia-russia-on-radar.html

30 May 2016: Disappearance of flight MH370, "a guarded state secret at the highest level" - journalist

MH370: the official version is "not credible" By Direct Matin with AFP Updated March 21, 2016 at 12:14 Published March 21, 2016 at 11:36
The journalist Florence Changy believes that the lack of transparency is the "major flaw" of this case. Two years after the mysterious disappearance of the Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur left for Beijing, the French journalist Florence Changy considers, after investigation, that "the official version is not credible" and that "people know." The disappearance of flight MH370 effect generates plethora of theories all craziest one another. Now, in his book "The flight MH370 has not disappeared" released in France on March 9, the corresponding World and RFI in Hong Kong has explored every avenue. Contacted by AFP, it considers that the lack of transparency is the "major flaw" of the case from the beginning.... 


Video - MH370: "Inmarsat plays a role quite strange"  Published on 28.03.2016 1:00 | Updated 03/30/2016 10:29 - By aeronewstv.com http://www.aeronewstv.com/fr/lifestyle/art-culture-aeronautique/3236-mh370-inmarsat-joue-un-un-role-assez-etrange.html

Disappearance of flight MH370, "a guarded state secret at the highest level"  11:50 p.m., March 8, 2016, changed to 6:50, 9 March 2016
The journalist Florence De Changy challenges the official theory of the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight.....  

Flight MH370 disappearance: "This story is not credible," Florence de Changy March 8, 2014, a Malaysian passenger plane disappeared from radar, with 239 people on board. Two years later and despite the most expensive searches in the history of aviation, flight MH370 has still not been found. It is still unclear the circumstances of the unexplained disappearance of the unit. The team of international experts led by Malaysia to work on this case published its annual progress report. However, his brief information does not provide any new indication. - With: Florence de Changy, journalist, author of the book "The flight MH370 has not disappeared" (The Arena Ed.). - BFM Story, from Tuesday, March 8, 2016, presented by Olivier Truchot on BFM TV.... http://www.bfmtv.com/mediaplayer/video/disparition-du-vol-mh370-cette-histoire-n-est-pas-credible-florence-de-changy-771570.html

10 December 2015: MH370 disaster: Australian report confirms electrical failure before disappearance - zombie plane theory?

MH370 disaster: Australian report confirms electrical failure before disappearance; December 10, 2015 by Sophie Aubrey, News Corp Australia Network BURIED in the lengthy report released last week by Australia’s MH370 investigators is one crucial revelation: the aircraft suffered a serious technical problem triggered by a power outage. The Australian Defence Science and Technology report officially acknowledges the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight suffered a sudden electrical failure before its disappearance on March 8 last year, the Daily Beast found. This backs the popular “zombie plane” theory, whereby the missing plane’s avionic systems are ravaged, rendering the flight crew helpless, and the aircraft continued flying on autopilot until it ran out of fuel. A grim timeline reveals the power blackout occurred in a 56-minute window between the final scheduled contact from the jet’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System and a failed attempt from dispatchers to contact the crew.....  http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/mh370-disaster-atsb-report-confirms-electrical-failure-before-disappearance/news-story/db81004f8a694fbdb2c06e3ca216de9c

China stumps up cash and a ship as MH370 search changes focus December 3, 2015 http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/china-stumps-up-cash-and-a-ship-as-mh370-search-changes-focus/news-story/155d99c7ba5fb99783032d6c86205eab

11 October 2015: Claim of MH370 wreckage in Philippines

Sabah police say yet to verify claim of MH370 wreckage on Philippines island Sunday October 11, 2015 - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/sabah-police-say-yet-to-verify-claim-of-mh370-wreckage-on-philippines-islan#sthash.B2IamsVm.dpuf

30 September 2015: MH370 Search resumes, strategies to improve, history of Reunion Island debris find

MH370: Search resumes, strategies to improve - Tiong Lai by Rahimah Abdullah, Astro Awani | Translated by: Syafique Shuib  Published on September 30, 2015 00:08 MYT; Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai says improvements in aircraft search strategy needs to be done from time to time. -Photo: Astro AWANI/Rahimah Abdullah; KUALA LUMPUR: The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will continue through the trilateral cooperation of Malaysia, China and Australia. A tripartite meeting at the ministerial level will be held next week in China. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the talks will focus on a more effective search strategies.... http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/mh370-search-resumes-strategies-improve-tiong-lai-74916

On debris finding in Reunion Island

7 September 2015: Malaysia, US in secret talks to ramp up China spying

Malaysia, US in secret talks to ramp up China spying Published: 4 September 2015 7:50 AM Malaysia and the US are reportedly working together in response to increased Chinese activity in the South China Sea. – Reuters pic, September 4, 2015.The US and Malaysia have been secretly discussing expanded use of Malaysian territory for hosting US spy planes to patrol the South China Sea, in response to increased Chinese activity in the disputed territory. Following a series of incursions into Malaysian waters by Chinese vessels in recent months, talks between the US government and the office of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak have intensified, two senior US defence officials said. The US side has been pressing Najib's government to allow the US Navy to fly both P-8 Poseidon and P-3 Orion maritime surveillance planes from Malaysian airstrips over South China Sea areas where the Chinese government has been rapidly building artificial islands. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-us-in-secret-talks-to-ramp-up-china-spying#sthash.C2gKsMY0.dpuf

2 August 2015: Malaysia - USA alignment via TPP but the deals stumbles

In TPP talks, Barack Obama loses battle against traditional trade powers Date August 1, 2015 - 9:01PM The TPP was about setting rules for an evolving information economy where value lies in "data" more than "goods".... ... And above all it was about injecting balance into Barack Obama's "rebalancing" to Asia, so the US President could reassure partners and allies that he had an economic and diplomatic agenda to match his military one. "If we don't write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region," said Obama, "We will be shut out." The TPP was so important that even the US Defence Secretary stretched the limits of his portfolio to make the case. "Passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier," said Ashton Carter. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/in-tpp-talks-barack-obama-loses-battle-against-traditional-trade-powers-20150801-gipdz0.html#ixzz3hd66FglP

Talks for Pacific Trade Deal Stumble By JONATHAN WEISMANJULY 31, 2015; LAHAINA, Hawaii — Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations failed to reach final agreement on Friday, with difficult talks on the largest regional trade agreement ever deadlocking over protections for drug companies and access to agriculture markets on both sides of the Pacific....Vietnam, Malaysia and New Zealand were willing to make significant concessions to gain access to United States markets.... ...Canada would not budge on opening its poultry and dairy markets. Chile... saw no reason to compromise, especially on its demand for a short window of protection for United States pharmaceutical giants. Australia’s delegation insisted that pharmaceutical market protections beyond five years would never get through Parliament... Mexico’s secretary of economy, was defiant on the hard line he took against the export of Japanese cars with any less than 65 percent of their parts from T.P.P. countries....The bright spot might have been the environmental negotiations... cover illegal wildlife trafficking, forestry management, overfishing and marine protection, and it could prove to be a landmark, setting a new floor for all future multilateral accords....Environmentally destructive subsidies, such as cheap fuel to power illegal fishing vessels and governmental assistance for boat making in overfished waters, are banned....Failure to comply ... potentially culminating in trade sanctions. United States negotiators hope that just the threat of economic sanctions will bolster relatively weak environmental ministries in countries like Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam....The impact of the Pacific accord’s environmental chapter could be broad, both for the nations in the deal and those outside. The 12 participating countries account for more than a quarter of the global seafood trade and about a quarter of the world’s timber and pulp production. Five of the countries rank among the world’s most biologically diverse countries.... Some, like Vietnam and Malaysia, have long been on the watch list for illegal wildlife trafficking...

Other links:

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31 July 2015: MH370 debris found at Reunion Island?  Najib receives courtesy call from China’s Vice Premier 

MH370 search: Could debris be from missing plane? 7 hours ago; The discovery of an aeroplane part on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean is being investigated to see if it came from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The plane disappeared between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people on board - no trace has ever been found. What are the chances this find will solve one of the biggest aviation mysteries ever?... What do we know about the fragment? The 2m-long (6ft) piece was found by volunteers cleaning a beach in St Andre, on the north-east of the island, on Wednesday.  Officials on Reunion with the recovered plane part (29 July 2015)The plane part appears to have come from a large aircraft  Initial pictures suggest it is a flaperon - a part of the wing that help create lift for an aircraft..... Several aviation experts have said it could have come from a large aircraft such as a Boeing 777 - the same model as the MH370 plane. But all urge caution and Malaysian officials says they want "tangible and irrefutable evidence" before they tell the families of the victims.  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33713885

MH370: Location of found debris consistent with modelling, says Australia Updated: Thursday July 30, 2015 MYT 11:25:08 AM; PETALING JAYA: Australia says the location of a piece of wreckage found on La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, is consistent with modelling that the flight of Malaysia Airlines MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. "In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH 370 on La Reunion Island, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean," said Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in a statement Thursday. "The debris is being examined by experts to determine its origin. Malaysia is responsible for the investigation and is managing this examination with the assistance of Boeing, the BEA (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile), the National Transportation Safety Bureau (US) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau," it said.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/07/30/MH370-Australia-says-location-consistent/

MH370: Malaysia sends team to Reunion Island Updated: Thursday July 30, 2015 MYT 12:41:02 PM  http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/07/30/MH370-debris-Malaysia-Team/

Najib receives courtesy call from China’s Vice Premier  30 July 2015 @ 6:51 PM; PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today received a courtesy call from China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong, here, as Malaysia and China look forward to strengthen relations.
The two leaders discussed various issues at Najib’s office, including bilateral trade, economic and regional cooperation in defence and tourism. Also present were the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Huang Huikang. Liu is in Malaysia to attend the 128th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Kuala Lumpur as Beijing bids to host the 2022 Winter Games. Met after the meeting, Ong said that Najib during the meeting, expressed hope that Chinese tourists would come to Malaysia in bigger numbers as the Malaysian government had taken steps to encourage them to visit this country after the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 incident..... He said Najib would hold a bilateral meeting and discussion with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the latter’s official visit to Malaysia in November in conjunction with the ASEAN Summit to further strengthen Malaysia-China relations.
Ong said China had also expressed interest in taking part in major projects in Malaysia, including the Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Rail and other economic investments. --Bernama... http://www.nst.com.my/node/93985

2 June 2015: ‘Technically Bankrupt’ Malaysia Air Is Laying Off 6,000 In Reset Attempt   - Bloomberg

‘Technically Bankrupt’ Malaysia Air Is Laying Off 6,000 In Reset Attempt  by Pooi Koon Chong June 1, 2015 — 1:41 PM HKTUpdated on June 2, 2015 — 8:48 AM HKT  Malaysia’s national airline is terminating about 6,000 workers and reviewing plane purchases in a bid to return to profit as Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller declared the company “technically bankrupt.” Malaysia Airlines Bhd. is kicking off a corporate revamp with a “hard reset” as it seeks to cut costs by 20 percent and break even by 2018 after two air disasters last year, Mueller said Monday. The carrier is retaining at least 14,000 employees for the new company and will refurbish the business-class section on some planes as part of its turnaround, he said. Malaysia Airlines is seeking to reinvent itself after stiff competition led to years of losses, even before flight MH370 disappeared in March last year and MH17 was shot down over Ukraine. The carrier needs time to turn around with a plan that includes adjusting the size of operations and renegotiating key contracts, Mueller said. We have to “stop this short-term firefighting,” Mueller said. “Now we have to be in forestry, we have to plant trees, water them every day and wait, and do a proper job. We cannot turn this airline around with off-the-cuff” measures, he said. The old structure, Malaysian Airline System Bhd., will cease operations in August, and selected assets and liabilities will be transferred to the new company.

24 May 2015: Renewed talk of Kra Canal - China government denies involvement

Renewed hype over China-Thai canal project: 5 things about the Kra Canal Published on May 21, 2015 5:51 PM  By Chew Hui Min Will the Kra Canal ever be built, or is it just a pipe dream? The idea of building a canal through the Kra Isthmus came up hundreds of years ago, and it has been resurrected many times since. Chinese media reported this week that two organisations - the China-Thailand Kra Infrastructure Investment and Development, and Asia Union Group - had signed a memorandum of understanding to construct the canal, but the Chinese government quickly said it was not involved in the project. If the canal materialises, Singapore will certainly be impacted as ships will be able to bypass Singapore's port and the Straits of Malacca. - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/renewed-hype-over-china-thai-canal-project-5-things-about-the-kra-ca#sthash.k7o30nI7.dpuf

16 May 2015: China’s expansion in the South China Sea: should Malaysia be worried? — Voon Zhen Yi ; Malaysia-China airlinks and hope for tourist return (but latest Sandakan kidnapping will caution), China investment in new Kedah power plant, durian treats in China

China’s expansion in the South China Sea: should Malaysia be worried? — Voon Zhen Yi Saturday May 16, 201507:57 AM GMT+8; MAY 16 — In the past few days, tensions once again resurfaced in the South China Sea surrounding the disputed Spratly Islands, of which several countries — namely Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei — contest. Last Tuesday, it was revealed that the United States Navy was considering sending ships and aircraft close to the disputed region, much to the displeasure of Beijing. Reuters reported that a US official said that the White House is “considering how to demonstrate freedom of navigation in an area that is critical to world trade”. China has maintained that it is committed to maintaining the peace and keeping free movements of the seas open. China claims the entire area as their own and that their presence on these islands are mainly for civilian purposes, with the military merely providing security. Although it is difficult to fully determine the true nature of such activities, interest by nations involved in staking a claim in the Spratly’s is predictably to secure oil reserves and fisheries. The intelligence community is observing the construction of a major runway on one of the disputed areas at Fiery Cross Reef. The 3,000-metre runway, just 500 kilometres off the coast of Sabah, will enable China to accommodate its Xian H-6 strategic bomber, which has a strike range of 6,000 kilometres. This puts every capital city in South East Asia within range. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force can even go as far as the coast of Australia. This gives China significant tactical advantage over all of its regional neighbours. Such military facilities also makes it feasible for China to launch ground campaigns in South East Asia, as such outposts can serve as staging areas necessary for logistical needs, such as refuelling ships and storage of supplies for an extended campaign, similar to how the British used the Ascension Islands during the Falkland War. Satellite images show the construction of sea ports which may be capable of accommodating dozens of PLA Navy destroyers, frigates and other naval vessels........ What this means to Malaysia depends very much on which side it is aligned to, either China or the United States, both of which Malaysia has close bilateral relations with. Our traditional response with China is typically to downplay and settle disagreements behind closed doors, a strategy which has worked quite well much to the pleasure of Beijing as Malaysia has not been seen to be going against China, at least not in the public eye. On the other hand, Malaysia’s relation with the US, though temperamental in the past, has been lukewarm in recent times. Just last Monday, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, led by USS Carl Vinson conducted a joint military exercise with the Malaysian military. Though seemingly torn in the middle, Malaysia is in a unique position as it is able to play both sides. Being China’s 3rd largest trading partner in Asia and one of US’s main moderate Muslim ally in the region, Malaysia has its own cards to play as an effective fence-sitter between the two giants. However, should Malaysia swing more towards the US, it can expect China to be more aggressive as it will attempt to bring Malaysia back within its influence. Swing towards China, and Malaysia could face pressures in a similar fashion with Washington, perhaps even losing out on opportunities such as being joint signatories with the US in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, of which Malaysia and the US are currently negotiating. Malaysia does not have any free trade agreements with the US yet. In such a position, the wisest strategy is to remain neutral and play both sides, which is exactly what Putrajaya is doing..... * Voon Zhen Yi is a research analyst with the Centre of Public Policy Studies (CPSS), the research arm of ASLI. ** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/chinas-expansion-in-the-south-china-sea-should-malaysia-be-worried-voon-zhe#sthash.Ee5kLiT8.dpuf

Malaysia-China air links expected to grow  by tho xin yi Updated: Tuesday May 12, 2015 MYT 7:53:58 AM  SHANGHAI: Air connectivity between Malaysia and China is expected to grow following interest expressed by several Chinese airlines to fly to Kuala Lumpur and other cities, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. Liow, who is in China for a five-day working visit, met representatives from the Juneyao Group and China Eastern Airlines Co Ltd here yesterday to discuss the establishment of more direct flights between the two countries. China Eastern Airlines, which flies from Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur four times a week, plans to increase the frequency while exploring more destinations such as Langkawi, Penang and Kota Kinabalu. Airline president Ma Xulun said the company had seen encouraging demand for flights to Langkawi and Penang. uneyao is interested to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. Air China Ltd told Liow on Friday that it was keen to resume the Beijing-Kuala Lumpur route.

Hope on return of Chinese tourists Published on: Thursday, May 14, 2015  Kota Kinabalu: Chinese tourists have been asking about Sabah even as Malaysia clamours to win them over after arrivals took a hit following the disappearance of MH370 last year.  And this gives the government, in particular Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, added confidence they will soon be making a beeline to the State. Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad Managing Director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said during their visit to China-based airlines recently, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was optimistic about the return of Chinese tourists to Sabah. "We are very optimistic that this year we will be moving forward with new arrivals of tourists from China to Malaysia and one of the questions they constantly asked was about Sabah.  "Liow also mentioned this two days ago and it is a good sign but somehow, we just need to give them back the confidence especially after the tragedy that had occurred las  year," he said.  "Let's all look forward…let the past be a lesson to us so that we can do better in years to come and as what Badlisham said earlier, the Chinese kept asking about Sabah," chipped in Masidi. "We should be asking ourselves what are the things that we need to do in order to make sure the return of Chinese tourists in bigger numbers," he said.  Towards this end, Masidi revealed that Liow would soon make an announcement regarding chartered flights from Wuhan.

Chinese firm to build first power plant in Kedah  Friday, 15 May 2015; QINGDAO: China CAMC Engineering Co Ltd (CAMCE), China's state owned company, plans to build a power plant in Kedah through a cooperation with a Malaysian firm, KOSMO Group of Companies. KOSMO Group Chairman, Marzuki Yahya, said the two companies had identified several areas for this venture but their main focus right now is more towards energy.   He said their collaboration was to look at the future development of Kedah  and they find out that Kedah was the only state in Malaysia which does not have a power plant. "That (energy sector) is the first step we are looking at..with a strong partner in CAMCE and back up strongly by the Bank of China. There will be some follow up on the project...when we can start the project," he told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two companies here, Thursday. The MoU were signed by Marzuki and KOSMO Group Chief Executive Officer Zulkifli Abdullah, and CAMCE Assis  nt President Liu Shengcheng. http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/05/15/Chinese-firm-to-help-build-1st-power-plant-in-Kedah/?style=biz

Durian treats offer a new culinary experience in China Updated: Wednesday May 13, 2015 MYT 7:23:41 AM SHANGHAI: Besides enjoying the fruit as it is, Chinese consumers have developed a liking for durian-flavoured desserts, beverages and other food products. Entrepreneurs in China seized the opportunity to develop a variety of durian-flavoured products after frozen durian from Malaysia was allowed to be imported into China four years ago in May 2011. Yueheng Food owner Zhang Zan, who owns two shops in Foshan, Hebei province, offers durian cheesecake, durian mousse cake and other durian pastries. “The rich, unique taste of the King of Fruits is very attractive. By using durian pulp to make our desserts, we are presenting the fruit in a different form to provide another kind of culinary experience,” he said. Zhang was among Chinese businessmen who sourced Malaysian durian from Nature Goodness Food Industry Sdn Bhd, which has been exporting the frozen fruit to China since 2011.  In an event here yesterday, Nature Goodness introduced a system known as MiTrace, which allows consumers to verify the authenticity of its products by scanning the QR code on the packaging. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/05/13/Durian-treats-offer-a-new-culinary-experience-in-China/

9 May 2015: New Malaysia Airlines CEO warns of tough path ahead

‘I can’t walk on water’: New Malaysia Airlines CEO warns of tough path ahead Friday May 8, 201509:47 PM GMT+8
KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines has told its employees that the troubled carrier faces a more dire outlook than previously thought and warned of coming job cuts, saying the company does not “have enough work for you.” The gloomy outlook from Christoph Mueller was contained in a memo to the stricken airline’s employees dated May 5 and obtained by AFP today. “The financial situation of MAS in 2015 is more challenging than we all thought and it is a call for swift action,” wrote Mueller, who took his new position on May 1. The state fund that controls the airline said last year it planned to slash 6,000 jobs, or about one-third of the workforce. It also has said it would kill off unprofitable routes and make other wrenching changes to rescue a carrier facing possible collapse after years of losses and two devastating disasters in 2014. Appointing a new CEO was a key part of the rescue strategy. Mueller is a German national who had previously initiated a turnaround plan at Ireland’s Aer Lingus that involved hefty job cuts. He is Malaysia Airlines’ first foreign boss, replacing Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. “Since the new airline will be smaller in size, we simply have not enough work for all of you,” he wrote, without giving further details. Mueller appeared to echo the long-time assessment of aviation analysts that Malaysia Airlines was a bloated firm. “The reason for our precarious situation is mainly our uncompetitive cost levels,” which he said were 20 per cent higher than its rivals. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/i-cannot-walk-on-water-new-malaysia-airlines-ceo-warns-of-tough-path-ahead#sthash.EDMg8zuW.dpuf

19 April 2015: IJM Land, Sime Darby named as local consortium partners for Kuantan industrial park

IJM Land, Sime Darby named as local consortium partners for Kuantan industrial park Saturday April 4, 201506:28 PM GMT+8; PEKAN, April 4 — Property and construction giants, IJM Land Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd have signed up as the new Malaysian consortium partners in developing the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP). International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the participation of IJM Land and Sime Darby marked a significant milestone as both companies had strong credentials as master developers and were well-established names, locally and internationally. “Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park Sdn Bhd (MCKIPSB) is a 51:49 joint venture between the Malaysian consortium and Chinese consortium. “IJM Land holds a 40 per cent equity interest in the Malaysian consortium, while Kuantan Pahang Holding Sdn Bhd together with Sime Darby holds 30 per cent and the remaining 30 per cent is held by the Pahang State Government,” he told a press conference here, today. The 49 per cent stake held by the Chinese consortium was led by state-owned conglomerate Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group, with 95 per cent equity interest. The remaining five per cent is held by Qinzhou Investment Company. Mustapa also noted that he was pleased with the progress of MCKIP, saying ‘the project is on track’ and to date, had attracted total investment of RM9.7 billion....The investment in MCKIP is expected to create more than 12,000 new job opportunities by 2020. — Bernama - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/ijm-land-sime-darby-named-as-new-local-consortium-partners-in-mckip#sthash.cKRxraPY.dpuf

14 April 2015: China hackers spying on Malaysia, says report

China hackers spying on Malaysia, says report Monday April 13, 201502:42 PM GMT+8........KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — Government-backed hackers from China have been running a cyber-espionage operation targeting Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries for at least a decade, a US cyber security company has said. FireEye Inc said in a report released today that the hackers dubbed APT30 target governments, companies and journalists across Southeast Asia, India and more to gain intelligence on regional political, economic and military issues, such as the conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea between China, Malaysia and other countries. “This evidence leads us to believe that APT30 serves a government’s needs for intelligence about key government and industry entities in Southeast Asia and India,” said FireEye in its report called “APT30 and the Mechanics of a Long-Running Cyber Espionage Operation”. Malaysia is among the countries that are confirmed targets of the hackers who have been running the cyber-attacks on various sources, possibly including classified government networks, since at least 2005, said the report. Other nations said to be confirmed APT30 targets are Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, India, the United States and Saudi Arabia...........FireEye further said the hackers have been targeting nations in Asean, of which Malaysia is chair, around the time of official Asean meetings to glean insight on the region’s politics and economics. “With activity spanning more than ten years, APT30 is one of the longest operating threat groups that we have encountered and one of the few with a distinct regional targeting preference,” said the report. “Some of the their tools’ capabilities, most notably the ability to infect air gapped networks, suggest both a level of planning and interest in particularly sensitive data, such as that housed on government networks,” the report added....... The Diplomat, a current affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region, said last month that Malaysia has been using a “playing it safe” approach on the South China Sea issue amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the past few years. ........ http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/china-hackers-spying-on-malaysia-says-report#sthash.XDYabfhg.dpuf

13 April 2015: China  universities accept SPM Chinese in lieu of proficiency test

China universities to accept Malaysian exam results, says Wee  by adrian chan Updated: Sunday April 12, 2015 MYT 8:35:35 AM
KUALA LUMPUR: Results of the Chinese language exam in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) will soon be recognised by China, marking a success for MCA’s efforts to boost the language.
Describing it as “the biggest breakthrough for Malaysian Chinese education”, MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong revealed that Chinese Language 6351 in SPM will be acknowledged to be at par with the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK).
According to Dr Wee, the draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China was tabled before the Cabinet on April 3, and subsequently approved on Friday.
“Once signed, it will allow students passing the subject to enrol in all Chinese universities without having to take the standard language proficiency test,” he said, adding that students with good results could even apply for scholarships at Chinese universities.

4 April 2015: China, Malaysia to build railways, ports as part of Maritime Silk Road

China, Malaysia to build railways, ports as part of MSR Published: 3 April 2015 7:25 PM China says it will establish a series of cooperative projects with Malaysia, including railway, industrial parks as well as ports. – Reuters pic, April 3, 2015.China says following the introduction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) initiative, Malaysia and China will establish a series of cooperative projects in the future, including railway, industrial parks as well as ports. Liu Jinsong, deputy director-general of the Department of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said before the introduction of the MSR, China and Asean had been carrying out a series of cooperative projects together, including the twin parks namely Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park. “Following the initiative, there will be cooperative projects such as railway, industrial parks and plenty of ports to be established between Malaysia and China,” he told a media briefing on the "Belt and Road" Initiative today. Liu said China viewed Asean as an important region to jointly build the MSR, and he expressed confidence that Malaysia, which has assumed the Asean chairmanship this year, would be capable of further improving the relationships between Asean and China.....On the intention behind the MSR's funds worth US$40 billion (RM147 billion), Liu said it was to finance major infrastructure projects along the centuries-old trading routes. Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had earlier raised questions on China's intentions behind the MSR fund.....China has also expressed interest in building the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Beijing-based Caixin magazine earlier reported that state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) would likely to win the bid for the railway project, as it offered the lowest price and the shortest project construction time. Other companies that have shown interest to bid for the project included East Japan Railway Company, Alstom of France and Siemens AG of Germany, the financial news publisher said. Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak earlier said the government expected the open bidding system to be very transparent as companies from all over the world were free to participate. Apart from the railway project, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said recently Malaysia had identified a few ports to be included in the MSR initiative which is expected to help boost Malaysia's economic development. – Bernama, April 3, 2015... http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/business/article/china-malaysia-to-establish-cooperative-projects-after-maritime-silk-road#sthash.QwYi8vxj.dpuf

source: www.wsj.com

1 April 2015: Philippines to ‘downgrade’ Sabah claim to fight China by FMT Reporters

Philippines to ‘downgrade’ Sabah claim to fight China by FMT Reporters  | March 30, 2015
The question that arises is whether it can “downgrade” something that it never had in the first place.
KOTA KINABALU: The Philippines, in a desperate note which literally asks Malaysia to risk its growing ties with China, has offered out of the blue to “downgrade” its “claim” to Sabah if Putrajaya supports its (Manila’s) case against China, on its maritime borders, at the United Nations Arbitral Court.... It’s not entirely clear what this “downgrading” means”. The question that arises is whether it can “downgrade” something that it never had in the first place. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, in an immediate response, said Putrajaya does not recognise any claim by the Philippines to Sabah. “What claim? We don’t recognise any claim, (so) the note is irrelevant.” He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the two-day Asian Regional Forum (ARF) Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking in Tuaran, Sabah... Manila’s offer is contained in a note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files according to the Philippine Star, handed to the Malaysian Embassy in Manila last week by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The note follows a week after a visit by Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to Manila.... The note refers to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental She’d (CLCS). Malaysia, in the joint submission, claims an extended continental shelf, 350 nautical miles from the baseline, which was clearly projected from Sabah..... The Philippines, which protested the joint submission on Aug 4, 2009 on the grounds that Sabah belongs to it, is now willing to “review” its protest. China protested the submission too and this is likely to stand even if Manila withdrew its objections...... However, Manila’s review would depend on Malaysia’s support for its case against China at the UN. The case is contained in two “requests” i.e. Malaysia to confirm that its extended continental shelf extends from the peninsula; and that it will not claim any continental shelf beyond 12 nautical miles, as provided for under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), from the maritime features in the Spratly Islands it claims....commentary... Datuk Gunda'dal Gurudam ·  Top Commenter: Putrajaya must not entertain such claim, if they do, it's just a recognition to Philippine's claim to Sabah; Maxeemillian Sv ·  Top Commenter: but they did.. send official replies..about the rental !! Why did they do such a foolish act ? Syed Abdul Khaliq ·  Top Commenter: Why do we need to pick a fight with People's Republic of China? What does Philippines has to offer, another poor country? Syed Putra Jamalullil ·  Top Commenter · St. John's Institution, KL: China will guarantee the minorities in Sabah to use any word they want in their religious obligation. Odi Rex ·  Top Commenter: Actually there is no freedom of religion in China.
Terence Lee ·  Top Commenter · St Gabriel's Secondary School:  In the first place Philippines has no right to claim Sabah belong to them. Why play such stupid game? Zosimo Jimeno · Follow ·  Top Commenter · Trainer at Ed2Career: The claim is as likely as the Sultanate of Kedah claiming back Penang. Syed Putra Jamalullil ·  Top Commenter · St. John's Institution, KL: penang is on indefinite lease, which means, if penang default in payment, that claim stands.....

12 March 2015: Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin describes China as an aggressive nation in the South China Sea and calls on ASEAN to be united against this aggression

Day 4 of Parliament. The Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin describes China as an aggressive nation in the South China Sea and calls on ASEAN to be united against this aggression. Is this a departure of Malaysian foreign policy of being friends with all?
https://www.facebook.com/wongchenpkr?fref=nf on 12 March 2015

Malaysia to push drafting code of conduct with China to settle maritime dispute by rahimy rahim Updated: Thursday March 12, 2015 MYT 11:25:02 AM; KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, as the Asean Chairman, will push forward the drafting of a code of conduct (CoC) with China to settle the territorial maritime dispute in South China Sea, the Dewan Rakyat heard. Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin (pic) said on Thursday that it was a crucial matter that had been repeatedly discussed between Asean countries as China had been seen as acting aggressively regarding the dispute. "The Asean countries will discuss with China to draft a CoC at South China Sea. "Malaysia as the chairman of Asean, will play an active role to ensure the matter is discussed comprehensively so all stakeholders regarding activities can be carried out peacefully, including China... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/03/12/Parliament-CoC-Malaysia-China/

28 February 2015: Settle MH370 claims quickly to avoid suits, lawyers tell MAS

Settle MH370 claims quickly to avoid suits, lawyers tell MAS BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR Published: 27 February 2015 11:00 AM National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines have been urged by lawyers to quickly compensate the families of passengers aboard missing Flight MH370 which is declared lost in an accident or face the possibility of being drawn into multiple legal battles. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 27, 2015.Malaysia Airlines must honour its obligation under an international treaty to compensate the families of passengers aboard Flight MH370 which has been declared as lost in an accident, say lawyers. They said Putrajaya's declaration on January 29 was an admission of liability and the airline had no defence, should suits be filed against it. Press reports said the MAS management had offered to pay US$50,000 (RM180,000), which would be deducted from the final compensation. googletag.cmd.push(function() {googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1400601790726-3');}); According to the Montreal Convention – a multilateral treaty that governs international transportation of passengers and cargo – a maximum of US$175,000 can be offered in compensation by the airline... http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/settle-mh370-claims-quickly-to-avoid-suits-lawyers-tell-mas#sthash.06X4Fhxq.dpuf

25 February 2015: More theories about MH370 in run up to 1 year anniversary on 8 March of the plane's loss

This Malaysia-China blog posting has over 30,000 page views now, since being started in the wake of the MH370 air disaster.

A year later, the unlikely disappearance of MH370 WORLD | Updated 05/03/2015 By Florence de Changy (Kuala Lumpur, special correspondent) - Un an après, l’improbable disparition du MH370 http://www.lemonde.fr/asie-pacifique/article/2015/03/05/un-an-apres-l-improbable-disparition-du-mh370_4587528_3216.html

MH370 secretly landed in Kazakhstan, says American author Published: 25 February 2015 12:20 PM Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, lost for nearly a year, might have secretly landed in Kazakhstan, says an American science writer. Jeff Wise, who is also CNN’s aviation analyst, said there may have been “deliberate tampering” in the search data to make the Boeing 777 appear to have gone in another direction. Wise earlier wrote an article for the New York Magazine suggesting that its navigational data had been meddled with, to leave trails of inaccurate information which convinced officials that the plane flew south. .... He also said the plane was possibly hijacked by perpetrators, who could have accessed the flight controls and flew the plane to Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased from Kazakhstan by Russia. Wise said his theory was established upon satellite transmissions and “pings” that the plane fed off seven hours after it was missing. Those transmissions were recorded by British company Inmarsat, whose raw data was then released by Malaysian officials in late May 2014. In the article, however, Wise said he wasn’t sure of why Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted the Malaysian passenger plane. “There’s no way to know. That’s the thing about MH370 theory-making: It’s hard to come up with a plausible motive for an act that has no apparent beneficiaries,” he said....  http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/mh370-secretly-landed-in-kazakhstan-says-american-author#sthash.zeUVjphL.dpuf

New book suggests MH370 was cyber-jacked Published: 25 February 2015 9:16 AM Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have been the victim of cyber-jacking, a new book suggests, the most recent in the line-up of theories on the Boeing 777’s disappearance last year. In the book, “Someone is Hiding Something”, authors Richard Belzer, David Wayne and George Noory said remote-control hijacking was the most likely scenario as the way in which MH370 vanished from radar “defies all logical explanation”. “Cyber hijacking is about the only possibility that fits the above circumstances insofar as the known evidence regarding the actions of the plane,” the authors were quoted as saying in a report by The Australian... http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/new-book-suggests-mh370-was-cyber-jacked#sthash.SdcmjE6o.dpuf

Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370

24 February 2015: Nat Geo documentary on MH370 screens soon - plane flown toward Antarctica?

MH370: Data 'strongly suggests' doomed jet was deliberately flown off course towards Antarctica By John Shammas; 20:55, 23 February 2015; Flight MH370 was deliberately taken off course by someone in the cockpit who wanted to take it towards ANTARCTICA, experts claim.
A new documentary is set to reveal that satellite data from the mysteriously downed jet indicates that it flew for hours after losing contact with flight control.... Aviation experts have gone over the evidence, and are set to lay out their theories in Malaysian 370: What Happened?, which screens on Sunday, March 8, on National Geographic... http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/mh370-data-strongly-suggests-doomed-5218320

14 February 2015: China MH370 families protest declaration of plane lost in accident, wait for MAS reply; Kuantan Port expansion for cape-sized vessels and post-panama with RM3 billion investment to double capacity, new deepwater terminal and government spending Rm1 billion on breakwater (part of Qinzhou-Kuantan China-Malaysia G2G port-industrial park project); Isis targeting the rich, especially Malaysian-Chinese tycoons says home minister

China MH370 families move to budget hotel to wait for MAS reply BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA and WONG YU HAN Published: 14 February 2015 6:05 PM
The sit-in protest by family members of Chinese passengers on board flight MH370 outside the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) headquarters in Subang last night only lasted a few hours, before other Malaysian next-of-kin helped to move them to a budget hotel for the night. The group's spokesperson Kelly Wen, whose husband was on the lost plane, said they would stay at the hotel until Monday or Tuesday when MAS was expected to reply to their demands...... The 15 next of kin, all from China, had last night camped in front of the MAS headquarters from evening until some Malaysian families of MH370 passengers came later last night with food and to help them find a place to stay for the night. Mohd Sahril Shaari, whose cousin was on the flight, said some of the Malaysian next of kin had helped the Chinese families find rooms at the budget hotel in Kuala Lumpur....."Most of them who are here are in their 50s and are still hoping for their sons, daughters and family members to return home," said Mohd Sahril....The families from China are here to protest Putrajaya's declaration that the plane was lost in an accident, almost a year after the plane went missing on March 8. They also want MAS to cover their living expenses and accommodation during their stay in Malaysia. The families said they would stay on until Chinese New Year if their demands for answers on the missing plane were not met.... http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/china-mh370-families-move-to-budget-hotel-to-wait-for-mas-reply#sthash.WrqvkgeT.dpuf

Kuantan Port expansion to improve economic ties with China  by simon khoo Updated: Saturday February 14, 2015 MYT 7:31:12 AM; KUANTAN: The expansion of Kuantan Port into a deepwater port is expected to be completed by next year, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.... Once completed, the port will be able to accommodate Cape-sized vessels and post-Panamax container ships of up to 200,000 deadweight tonnes (DWT).  DWT is a measurement of how much weight a ship can safely carry, and the container part of the port could only handle ships of up to 35,000 DWT. “By then, Kuantan Port will be able to handle 52 million freight weight tonnes of bulk and container cargo,” said Liow in his speech to welcome the first cruise-cum-container ship from China to dock here yesterday, marking a first for Malaysia as well..... The arrival of MV Bei Bu Wan Zhi Xing (The Star of Beibu Gulf) with 284 passengers and crew on its maiden voyage on the “Maritime Silk Route” marked a significant milestone in the history of Kuantan Port as well as economic and social ties with its sister port in Qinzhou, China.... Liow said Kuantan Port Consortium would be investing RM3bil to double the current capacity of Kuantan Port with a new deepwater terminal.... On its part, the Government will invest RM1bil to build a 4.7km breakwater at the port, one of the longest in the world, as well as upgrading external infrastructure to support the port expansion.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/02/14/Kuantan-Port-expansion-to-improve-economic-ties-with-China/

Isis targeting the rich, especially Chinese tycoons, says home minister Published: 13 February 2015 10:54 AM Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Isis terrorists would most likely employ kidnap and ransom tactics by preying on wealthy Malaysians to funds their activities. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 13, 2015. The Home Ministry raised the alarm bell on the threat of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), saying that the radical Islamist group, is plotting to kidnap wealthy Malaysians and stage bank robberies in the country, major Chinese dailies reported today. Its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in a joint interview recently, said the tactics employed by Isis is to hold these tycoons for ransom and use the money to funds their terrorist activities, Sin Chew Daily reported today. Other Chinese dailies involved in the special interview with Zahid included China Press, Nan Yang Siang Pau, Oriental Daily and Guang Ming Daily. googletag.cmd.push(function() {googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1400601790726-3');}); Sin Chew Daily also reported that so far, authorities have yet to determine who is on the so called list of Isis' targets but are working hard trying to determine the matter. He said, based on intelligence reports, such plots are already developing and the ministry is trying to track down and investigate suspicious movements by the group and their sympathisers in the country. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/isis-targeting-the-rich-especially-chinese-tycoons-says-home-minister#sthash.OrYEqq2u.dpuf

11 February 2015: Malaysia IHH Healthcare and many others investing in China's booming healthcare business, eyeing 223 million aged by 2030; gas find 150km south of Hainan 100 billion cubic meters

Ageing China draws investors from Malaysia and elsewhere to healthcare sector -  ($1 = 6.2521 Chinese yuan renminbi)- Reuters  Wednesday, 11 February 2015
HONG KONG: Investors are rushing into China's booming healthcare business, helping M&A deal values surpass those of the hot Internet sector, as the country prepares to cater to hundreds of millions of elderly patients.... Encouraged by a relaxation of foreign ownership rules last year and a rapidly ageing population, private equity firms such as TPG Capital [TPG.UL] and industry players including Malaysia's IHH Healthcare Bhd are investing in Chinese hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and device makers.... The prospect of 223 million people aged 65 or older predicted to live in China by 2030 is just too enticing for these companies, despite significant risks such as weak hospital infrastructure, rising valuations and a dearth of doctors.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/02/11/Ageing-China-draws-investors-to-its-hot-as-Internet-healthcare-sector/?style=biz

Big gas find in South China Sea BEIJING, Feb 10: State media says China has found more than 100 billion cubic metres of natural gas in the politically volatile South China Sea. The natural gas was discovered at the Lingshui 17-2 gas field, 150km south of China’s southernmost island of Hainan.
The Xinhua News Agency said the Ministry of Land and Resources has approved it as a large-scale gas field. It cited the country’s main offshore oil and gas producer, China National Offshore Oil Corp. Xizhou Zhou, senior director and head of China for IHS Energy, says that 100 billion cubic metres is a “decent amount but not that substantial.” He says it’s equivalent to six or seven months gas supply for China. http://www.therakyatpost.com/business/2015/02/10/big-gas-find-south-china-sea/#ixzz3ROSQXgwv

10 February 2015: Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee political bureau member Meng Jianzhu visits Putrajaya, bilateral trade target of US$160bil (RM528bil) by 2017

Key Chinese leader meets Najib to boost ties, Updated: Tuesday February 10, 2015 MYT 7:41:28 AM; PUTRAJAYA: Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee political bureau member Meng Jianzhu paid a courtesy call to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here to enhance Malaysia-China relations... The Prime Minister met with Meng, who is a key Chinese leader, and his delegation for an hour at his office here.... Both sides discussed various issues to strengthen ties between Malaysia and China, opportunities for economic cooperation, bilateral trade, mutual regional stability and defence.
Also present were the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and China's Ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang.... Ong said Malaysia and China would work doubly hard to achieve the bilateral trade target of US$160bil (RM528bil) by 2017, despite the challenging global economy... Last year, Malaysia and China celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. — Bernama http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/02/10/Key-Chinese-leader-meets-Najib-to-boost-ties/

4 February 2015: Is there some concern at MIDA about the proposed China electronic sector investments in Penang - cautious of photovoltaic investments using Malaysia's GSP and COO as a transshipment point to beat anti-dumping problems?

Mida keeps close tabs on China, Taiwan PV makers By: DAVID TAN Wednesday, 4 February 2015
GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) is adopting a cautious stand on investments by photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturers from China and Taiwan.... Mida deputy chief executive officer Datuk Phang Ah Tong told StarBiz that this was because Mida did not want Malaysia to be used as a transhipment point for China and Taiwan-made PV cells and panels to enter the United States, as the latter had imposed anti-dumping duties on PV products originating from China and Taiwan.... The US International Trade Commission had recently imposed a minimum 70% tariff rate on China PV modules, and an 11.45% to 27.55% rate for Taiwan PV manufacturers.... Phang said that so far there were no significant PV investments from China and Taiwan in Malaysia... “However, we are still pursuing investments in alternative renewable energy such as bio-mass, bio-gas and small hydro plant projects...........as a result of the foreign investments, Malaysia was the third largest solar module producer in the world after China and Japan, and the fourth largest producer of solar cells in 2013... The major corporations in Malaysia involved in PV manufacturing are First Solar and Panasonic Corp in Kulim Hi-Tech Park, Hanwa Q Cells in Cyberjaya, AUO Sunpower in Malacca and IRM Group Bhd in Ipoh.... Malaysia has been known as a transhipment point for China-made products using the GSP and COO documents issued for companies in Malaysia to enter Europe..... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/02/04/Mida-keeps-close-tabs-on-China-Taiwan-PV-makers/?style=biz

31 January 2015: Malaysia in China's Silk Road plan, cooperation on transportation, China seeking site for Sabah consulate, Xiamen University - Malaysia campus status

Malaysia in on China’s Silk Road plan Updated: Wednesday January 28, 2015 MYT 7:58:25 AM
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s recommendations for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road economic belt have been incorporated in China’s outline of the plan, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (pic). Liow, who met his Chinese counterpart Yang Chuantang for a bilateral meeting in Beijing on Monday, said that Malaysia’s recommendations had been incorporated into the outline.
“China will be sharing the final version of the outline with Asian ministers, in particular those from Asean countries,” said Liow in a statement made available here yesterday. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road would involve the cooperation of all countries along the route and more than 50 countries had expressed their support for the initiative, he said. An overland route will pass through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Iran en route to Vienna in Austria; and a maritime route will be from Chinese ports to Belgium’s Antwerp. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/28/Malaysia-in-on-Chinas-Silk-Road-plan-Liow-Recommendations-in-our-proposal-incorporated-into-economic/

Malaysia, China to cooperate on transportation   2015-01-27 10:52   BEIJING, Jan 26 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and China have committed to continue working closely on transportation issues, including issues on the 21 Maritime Silk Road initiatives mooted by the Chinese president Xi Jinping, as well as the search operation of the missing flight MH370. Malaysia also welcomed Chinese investors to invest in Malaysia and help develop the economy of both countries, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. http://www.mysinchew.com/node/105449?tid=4

China seeking suitable location for consulate Posted on January 30, 2015, Friday KOTA KINABALU: The Deputy Consul-General of the China Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu, Sun Xiaowu, said a suitable location is still being sought to establish the Chinese consulate here.
Sun believes once the Chinese consulate is established here, it will bring great benefits to the development of bilateral trade, tourism and culture of both Sabah and China. Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/01/30/china-seeking-suitable-location-for-consulate/#ixzz3QOieXuyX

Xiamen University Malaysia first phase to cost RM652mil By: HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM Saturday, 31 January 2015  He attributed the success of the project to contributions from Sunsuria Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd.  http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/31/Xiamen-University-Msia-first-phase-to-cost-RM652mil/?style=biz

Xiamen’s Malaysia campus progressing smoothly, says Ong Updated: Thursday January 29, 2015 MYT 8:06:34 AM  PETALING JAYA: Construction works are progressing smoothly and on track for Xiamen University’s Malaysia Campus – the Chinese university’s first campus abroad.
Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China, said the campus was expected to be up and running by the end of the year.  Xiamen University China is ranked 11th in China, according to the University Undergraduates Teaching Assessment and Chinese Universities Evaluation Standings. The ground-breaking ceremony was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last July 3. The campus, covering 60.7ha will have the capacity to house 10,000 students and is expected to accept students from Malaysia, China and South-East Asia. It was founded in 1921 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee, a Chinese businessman who achieved success in Malaysia in the early 20th century. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/29/Xiamens-Malaysia-campus-progressing-smoothly-says-Ong/

30 January 2015: Malaysia declares MH370 missing but vows search continues, earlier China families of MH370 victims clash on Malaysia move

MH370: Malaysia committed to finding aircraft, says Najib by l. suganya; Updated: Friday January 30, 2015 MYT 12:25:22 AM; PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Thursday assured the families of passengers and crew on board flight MH370 that Malaysia, together with Australia and China, remains committed to finding the aircraft.... “Today my thoughts are with the families of those on MH370. The search will continue. Malaysia, Australia and China remain committed to finding the plane,” Najib posted on his official Facebook page.... Earlier on Thursday, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) had declared the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 as an accident in accordance with standard annexes 12 and 13 of the Chicago Convention.... DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said, however, that the search for the missing aircraft would continue.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/30/MH370-Najib-Malaysia-commited/

China families clash with Malaysia move to declare MH370 missing  By Bloomberg / Bloomberg   | January 28, 2015 : 4:31 PM MYT     (Jan 28): Chinese families are opposing plans to have Malaysia Airlines ( Financial Dashboard) Flight 370 declared missing, 10 months after it went off radar, according to a letter relatives of those on board the aircraft wrote to the carrier.... The families of Chinese passengers on board MH370 signed a petition against any move by the Malaysian government or the carrier to officially declare the plane as missing, or crashed, according to the letter, distributed through social media. A press conference will be held tomorrow in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified, citing policy..... http://www.theedgemarkets.com/my/article/china-families-clash-malaysia-move-declare-mh370-missing

28 January 2015: 300 Chinese national join IS via Malaysia, China's Greenland in RM2.4 billion deal at Iskandar Waterfront City

At least 300 Chinese nationals in Islamic State via Malaysia, says Zahid Published: 21 January 2015 5:36 PM Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says Malaysia will join China in dealing with the influx of Muslims from China, who are on their way to join Islamic State. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 21, 2015.Malaysia is being used as a transit point by Muslims from China who are headed to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State militant group, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today. The Home Minister said he was informed of this update from China's vice-minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei during a meeting at the home ministry in Putrajaya today, Bernama reported. Meng disclosed to Zahid that more than 300 Chinese nationals have used Malaysia as a transit point on their way to join Islamic State. They moved to a third country from Malaysia prior to entering Syria and Iraq. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/at-least-300-chinese-nationals-in-islamic-state-via-malaysia-says-zahid#sthash.SGVvSWR2.dpuf

China-based Greenland enters into RM2.4b land transaction with Malaysia's IWCB Thursday, 22 January 2015; PETALING JAYA: At a time when there is an increased level of cautiousness in the Johor property scene, a Chinese developer has inked an RM2.4bil deal with Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWCB) to acquire 128 acres of land, a value that underscores one of the highest land transactions in the Iskandar region to-date.... A subsidiary of Shanghai-based state developer Greenland Holdings Group Ltd has established a joint venture (JV) with IWCB unit Southern Crest Development Sdn Bhd (SCD) to buy the land, which is mostly submerged, from IWCB for a sum of RM2.4bil.... The RM2.4bil deal works out to about RM430 per sq ft, which property consultants said set the benchmark for property prices in that area as there had not been any transaction of that size in that area previously. Most previous transactions were at Danga Bay, which is at the Causeway and near the Second Link.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/22/Landmark-deal-down-South-Chinabased-Greenland-enters-into-an-RM24b-land-transaction-with-IWCB/?style=biz

13 January 2015: Talk of 4th vessel in MH370 search, hopes for more China tourists but free visas insufficient, China's flood donation, new China rubber standard may hurt major producers including Malaysia

Liow: Malaysia talking with Australia, China for fourth vessel in MH370 search  Updated: Sunday January 11, 2015 MYT 3:58:39 PM  GENTING HIGHLANDS: Malaysia is still in the midst of discussions with Australia and China to engage a fourth vessel, 'Fugro Supporter', to assist in the search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (pic) said there was a need to deploy more equipment due to difficulties faced by the search mission in the southern Indian Ocean. He said there were currently three vessels involved in the operation, namely 'Go Phoenix', 'Fugro Discovery' and 'Fugro Equator'. "We are engaging in efforts to add another vessel, 'Fugro Supporter'. When the time is right, we will announce," he told reporters after officiating Negeri Sembilan MCA's Cadres Training Camp here Sunday. The search operation for MH370 is now into its 11th month since it went missing at 2.40am on March 8, last year......... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/11/MH370-Liow-fourth-vessel-search/

Malaysia hopes to attract more Chinese tourists this year: Nazri   2015-01-13 10:48   KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- The government is increasing efforts to attract more tourists from China this year, says Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
He said Malaysia lost some 540,000 Chinese tourists last year, following the tragedy involving Malaysia Airlines MH370 which went missing while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8..... "It's a good sign the Chinese are coming back. I think if we aggressively market Malaysia in China, next year the figure from China will be better," he said. The government hopes to record 29.4 million tourist arrivals this year, with a revenue of RM89 billion......... http://www.mysinchew.com/node/105017?tid=4

Free visas for Chinese tourists insufficient: associations Translated by DOMINIC LOH Sin Chew Daily 2015-01-09 12:19  PETALING JAYA, Jan 8 (Sin Chew Daily) -- The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) feels disappointed that the Malaysian government is only offering free visas for Chinese tourists instead of visa-free entry.. It says this will result in Malaysia losing the opportunities to lure more tourists from China. The ministry of tourism and culture hopes that free visas for Chinese tourists could be implemented before the Lunar New Year "golden holidays" so that more Chinese tourists can visit the country on chartered flights.... http://www.mysinchew.com/node/104943?tid=4

China's flood donation proves close Malaysia-China ties KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Chinese government's donation to flood victims is proof of the close Malaysia-China ties. Expressing his appreciation for the Chinese government's kind gesture, he said the donation will be well received by the people of Malaysia. Najib received donation for flood victims from the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Huang Huikang at Wisma Perwira Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, Jalan Padang Tembak, here today. The donation involves 2,950 tents (12 sq m X 36 sq m), 220 generator sets of 5 Kw (20 units) and 3 Kw (200 units), 400 water pumps (1.1 Kw), 45 water hose reels and 60 water purification devices (500 litres per hour.) The Chinese government will also donate 400 temporary houses soon. China's donation comes in three phases, with the first phase received today, while the second and third phases will follow soon. Najib said the recovery of the flooded areas would be completed in less than two years as the government has launched a special programme to build temporary housing and permanent housing. http://www.mysinchew.com/node/105041?tid=4

New China rubber standard likely to hurt major producers in Malaysia, Thailand Thursday, 8 January 2015; BEIJING: China has approved a new standard for compound rubber that cuts the amount of natural rubber allowed in the formula, a move that is expected hurt major producers in Thailand and Malaysia, analysts and traders said. Compound rubber, which includes small amounts of powdered carbon, has become popular in China as it can be imported tariff-free, compared with a 1,500 yuan (US$242) per tonne tariff for natural rubber. Thailand typically shipped about 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of compound rubber to China, a Singapore-based trader said, while Malaysia exported slightly less. Total use is around 1.5 million tonnes. The rule change by the world’s top rubber consumer, which was first proposed in August, will cap the natural rubber content in compound rubber at 88%, down from 95%–99.5% previously. This would make the compound less stable and much less attractive to tyre manufacturers, likely killing off demand for the product, traders and analysts said....

10 January 2015: Will Sri Lanka's China orientation shift on Rajapaksa's loss? China investments include property development, and infrastructure including port terminal. Similarity in high-key China investments in Malaysia?

Sri Lanka's President Loses an Election—and China Loses an Ally  By Bruce Einhorn     January 09, 2015; China has spared no effort to make friends with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The island nation has more than $4 billion worth of Chinese-backed investments, including a $1.4 billion project now under construction of offices, hotels, apartment buildings, and shopping centers on reclaimed land in Colombo that is the largest foreign investment in the country’s history. The leading provider of loans to Sri Lanka, China is also financing a $1.3 coal power plant and $1 billion highway.... For Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited in September, cozying up to Rajapaksa has been a twofer. Building a Chinese presence in the country helps further Xi’s ambitions to build a “maritime Silk Road” expanding China’s reach in the Indian Ocean. At the same time, China’s expansion in the Indian Ocean country has provided a useful way to irritate Sri Lanka’s big neighbor and China’s regional rival: India. China and India have a longstanding border dispute, and China has been eager to take down India a notch by focusing on Sri Lanka and other small countries that have traditionally been in India’s sphere of influence. India, for instance, was displeased last year when two Chinese submarines docked at a Chinese-funded port terminal in Colombo... Those pesky voters in Sri Lanka, though, have gotten in the way of China’s plans to use the island as a thorn in the side of India. The news from the island nation shows that when it comes to choosing a reliable ally in Sri Lanka, Xi may have been done in by democracy. Rajapaksa, who called an election two years earlier than necessary, has just lost his reelection bid to challenger Maithripala Sirisena. Rajapaksa had reason to be confident: He presided over the end of the civil war and the subsequent peace dividend that helped boost economic growth above 7 percent. Sri Lanka’s benchmark stock index jumped 23 percent last year.... Still, former ally Sirisena was able to capitalize on worries of many Sri Lankans concerned about the incumbent’s tilt toward China. “There’s a perception that the Chinese are underpinning misgovernance and corruption in the regime,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives, told Bloomberg News before the election..... http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2015-01-09/sri-lankas-president-loses-an-election-and-china-loses-an-ally?campaign_id=DN010915

Sri Lanka election: shock as president Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat - Authoritarian president’s office reports that he has left official residence by Jason Burke in Delhi and agencies; theguardian.com, Friday 9 January 2015 01.35 GMT; ....Sirisena announced his candidacy hours after Rajapaksa, 69, announced he would call the election two years early in November. The farmer-turned-politician Sirisena united a fractured opposition and told voters he would root out corruption and undo unpopular constitutional reforms which have concentrated powers on the presidency...Observers said the unexpected challenge from the former health minister destabilised the incumbents.... http://gu.com/p/44m2k

8 January 2015: Indonesia questions on ministry corruption, flouting existing regulations, and rationale of raising fares in wake of Air Asia QZ8501 crash disaster. KPK will investigate corruption in the aviation sector. Minister furious on weather briefing.

Editorial: Minister’s Punitive Stance Doesn’t Fly By Jakarta Globe on 12:54 am Jan 08, 2015
Category Editorial, Front Page, Opinion Tags: air transportation, airfare, aviation, Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501; Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan could have started a revolution within his own ministry — in the directorates general of land, sea and air transportation — by, for instance, punishing corrupt and underperforming officials, establishing a clear system of rewards and disincentives, or being more strict about implementing existing regulations.... The crash of an Indonesia AirAsia jet on Dec. 28 should have been an indication of just what a rotten ministry he inherited — in particular the office dealing with air transportation. Jonan should have overhauled the system, technology and manpower, including those responsible for air traffic control, and for granting flight permits.... Instead, he has chosen to shift the blame form the crash of the plane, which was not permitted to fly on a Sunday, to private airlines. He has also punished the public by implementing a new regulation that caps minimum ticket prices. The cheapest ticket now available may not be less than 40 percent of the price of the most expensive one for any given route. His rationale? Ticket prices are so low that poor profitability impairs airlines’ ability to comply with aviation safety standards.... This is as nonsensical as anything can get, and against the law of free market competition... http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/opinion/editorial-ministers-punitive-stance-doesnt-fly/

AirAsia Banned From Flying Key Routes: Report, Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bloomberg's Alia Karenina has the latest developments in the search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501. She speaks on "On The Move Asia." (Source: Bloomberg) http://www.bloomberg.com/video/airasia-banned-from-flying-key-routes-report-DMl8NSWcTy61rLGA6_zP9A.html; note: There will be an investigation by KPK, the Indonesia anti-corruption agency. The official who approved the Air Asia flight has been suspended. KPK will check if other airlines were flying on non-authorized schedules. This will be the first KPK anti-corruption crackdown on the Indonesia aviation sector. Air Asia Surabaya-Singapore and Medan-Palembang routes have been suspended. Air Asia says it has a 7-days flying permit and that there is merely an administrative error.

Air Asia insurance compensation will look into irregularities. Initial Victim Compensation Is Goodwill: Ribbands, Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Victorian Branch Aviation Law Association of Australia and New Zealand Chairman and Aviation Lawyer John Ribbands discusses the legal aspects of the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 with Bloomberg’s Rishaad Salamat on “On The Move.” (Source: Bloomberg) http://www.bloomberg.com/video/initial-victim-compensation-is-goodwill-ribbands-TsEtkym1QdyUW6j_EMQEjg.html.

Minister furious AirAsia 'flouted procedure' 5:12PM Jan 2, 2015 by Malaysiakini; According to Indonesia's detik.com, the minister expressed his anger after visiting the airline's headquarters near Jakarta to observe its pre-flight procedures.... Quoting the minister’s aide, the news portal said Jonan warned that stern action would be taken against the breaches.... "Jonan is angry at AirAsia. Furious… Prior to departure, the pilot is supposed to get a briefing directly from the flight operations officer (FOO), especially on the weather.... "However all this while, AirAsia simply relied on the Agency for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics' (BMKG) website," said his aide Hadi M Djuraid.....
Meanwhile, Indonesian portal Tempo reported what supposedly transpired during the minister's surprise visit, saying that an unnamed AirAsia Indonesia director had defended its reliance on BMKG’s website.... "This is how it is done internationally. To physically take weather information from BMKG is the 'traditional' way," the director reportedly said to Jonan.Jonan then rebutted by asking why AirAsia is still taking hard copies of BMKG’s weather reports, even after QZ8501 had gone missing, but the reply came, “Yes, because that’s tradition.”... This reportedly infuriated Jonan, who said, “When there are rules, you should follow it. Don’t fight, or I’ll strip you of your licence.”... The director reportedly promised to comply with the regulations.... http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/285175

7 January 2014: UN aviation regulator proposes commercial planes report position every 15 mins in wake of MH370 disappearance

Quarter-Hour Position Reports Proposed to Prevent Vanishing Flights  By Michael Sasso and Alan Levin  Jan 7, 2015 9:14 AM GMT+0800  United Nations aviation regulators, responding to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, are proposing that commercial planes be required to report their positions every 15 minutes. The new draft standard from the International Civil Aviation Organization will be presented next month at an agency safety conference in Montreal, said Anthony Philbin, an ICAO spokesman. He declined to give more specifics on the plan....

4 January 2014: Weather - ice suspected as spark of Air Asia QZ8501 disaster, Black Hand conspiracy and 8888, China donation to flood disaster relief, Great Wall Motor distribution in Malaysia

This posting topic has now reached over 10,000 readers.

Ice may have caused AirAsia crash: Indonesia govt agency UPDATED: 04 Jan 2015 10:49
JAKARTA: Weather was the "triggering factor" in the fatal crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 a week ago, with icing likely causing engine damage, according to Indonesia's meteorological agency.
The Airbus A320-200 crashed during a storm en route from the Indonesian city Surabaya to Singapore, and relief workers are hunting for flight data recorders to determine the cause of the crash.
But an initial report on the website of BMKG, Indonesia's meteorological agency, suggests the weather at the time the plane went down sparked the disaster after it appeared to fly into storm clouds..... http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/ice-may-have-caused/1566554.html

2014 Proves a Grim Year in Malaysian Aviation By MICHAEL FORSYTHEDEC. 28, 2014
For Malaysian aviation, 2014 has been an unimaginably horrible year.... Should no survivors be found among the 162 passengers and crew members aboard Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501, which disappeared Sunday morning en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia, carriers from Malaysia or their subsidiaries will have been involved in the world’s three deadliest aviation disasters this year, according to statistics compiled by the Flight Safety Foundation, in Alexandria, Va.... “I can’t see any parallels,” said John Cox, an aviation safety expert and former captain for US Airways who is the chief executive of Safety Operating Systems, an industry consultancy in Washington. Mr. Cox said the circumstances of the three disasters were completely different, falling on companies with good safety records. For all the events to involve the aviation industry of one country in Southeast Asia is unprecedented, he said. “It is unbelievably bad luck and bad fortune that has struck them,” he added.... Misery in Malaysia has not been confined to the skies. The disappearance of the AirAsia flight occurred as the country was dealing with heavy monsoon rains, the worst in many years, that have forced the evacuation of more than 160,000 people. At least 10 people have been killed in flooding that has inundated many areas of the country. The confluence of the floods and the missing aircraft led many Malaysians to speculate on social media sites that they were being tested by God. “It is high time that we all unite, pause, ponder and pray,” said one person using the name Adibah Noor on Twitter. “God has sent us so many warning signs.”... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/29/world/asia/2014-proves-a-grim-year-in-malaysian-aviation.html?_r=0

Blogger claims ‘Black Hand’ plot in missing AirAsia QZ8501 Published: 30 December 2014 Conspiracy claims have emerged surrounding the disappearance of AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501, which went missing on Sunday, with a Chinese blogger saying it was the work of a shadowy group called "Black Hand". UK paper The Daily Mail has reported the blogger saying that the same group was also responsible for making Malaysia Airlines MH370 disappear and the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine. His claims have started a storm of speculation online, more so because he had said that the Black Hand group would next target an AirAsia flight, almost two weeks before QZ8501 vanished.... In one comment on December 15, which has been loosely translated by a Reddit member, the blogger apparently warns: "Black hand has hijacked and shot down MH370 and MH17. "This has pretty much killed the sixth largest airline: Malaysian airline. "Now the black hand are targeting AirAsia to ruin this airline cause it too belong to Malaysia. "Given how powerful the black hand are I suggest that all Chinese thinking about traveling to avoid AirAsia, so that you don't disappear like those on MH370." ...... http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/blogger-claims-black-hand-plot-in-missing-airasia-qz8501#sthash.ir9GbMbm.dpuf

Also to note that various people in Singapore and KL we spoke to mentioned the popular online circulation via instant messaging of the numerical addition of the three flight numbers:


Note: There is a tendency for Malaysians and Singaporeans (and others, I expect) of buying "4D" or lottery tickets of a specific set of numbers (or jumbled combinations thereof) for notable or important events (good or bad luck in nature e.g. the number plate digits of a new car, from a dream, an accident or also by praying for numbers when visiting at an important religious site - even if of different religious faith!). For those of Chinese ancestry, the number 8 is usually associated with good luck and car number plates with many 8s usually fetch high premiums. Other cultures in the Southeast Asian region are also fond of lottery numbers and numerology.

China gives RM340,000 disaster relief aid December 27, 2014; The big-hearted gesture from China was made today by China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang. KUALA LUMPUR: China has donated USD100,000 (RM339,160) as aid for flood victims – and said it was open to other requests. Its ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang, said: “If you have any specific request, please let me know.” Huang made the donation to the Malaysian Red Cresent Society today. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2014/12/27/china-gives-rm340000-disaster-relief-aid/

China car distributor in Malaysia sees sales rising with new model,  Monday, 29 December 2014 By: EUGENE MAHALINGAM; PETALING JAYA: Go Automobile Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (GAM), the licensed manufacturer of China’s Great Wall Motor (GWM) vehicles, is targeting to sell 15,000 vehicles next year, underpinned by the launch of its Haval M4 compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) in January. “The reception for the M4 this year is excellent. To date we had received firm orders totalling 2,500 units, even though we have yet to conduct our official launching,” GAM chief executive officer Ahmad Azam Sulaiman.... “We are going to do our official launching in January, 2015. Our sales target by end-2015 is 15,000 units. Our factory now is ready to manufacture 24,000 units per year,” he told StarBiz in an e-mail.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/12/29/Haval-SUV-to-help-boost-GAMs-vehicle-sales-to-15000-next-year/?style=biz

3 January 2014: Air Asia QZ8501 recovery in progress

AirAsia flight QZ8501: airline was not allowed to fly route, says Indonesia
•Transport ministry says Sunday flight time had not been cleared
•Two large parts of the plane found on sea bed, say officials
•Thirty bodies have been recovered
The plane was operated by AirAsia Indonesia, a unit of Malaysia-based AirAsia, which previously had a solid safety record... On Saturday, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said that two large parts of the plane had been found in the search area at depth of around 30m, raising hopes that its black boxes will be recovered soon.... Bambang Soelistyo told reporters in Jakarta that the multinational search team came across the objects off the island of Borneo late on Friday night...

29 December 2014: Third Malaysian air disaster in 9 months

Malaysia's Year of Flying Dangerously by Adam Minter Dec 28, 2014 2:06 PM EST; "When the Indonesian authorities called off Sunday’s search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501, lost flying between Subaya, Indonesia and Singapore, Malaysians could have been forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu. After all, it was only nine months earlier, on March 8, that they received word that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had gone missing, setting off months of on-again, off-again searches that -- so far -- have turned up nothing. At least briefly, QZ8501, flown on an Indonesian subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia, felt like more of the same.... There are, of course, notable, differences. QZ8501 has only been missing less than 24 hours and, unlike Flight 370, there’s actually an immediate, reasonable theory about what might have happened to it (bad weather). But the fact that there’s less mystery surrounding QZ8501 isn’t much solace.... In fact, many Malaysians are now trying to reckon with the fact that Malaysian-owned carriers will have been involved in the three worst air tragedies of the past year, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, shot down over the Ukraine. That’s an unlikely status for any country, much less Malaysia, population 30 million, and hardly a global aviation power.... " http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-28/malaysias-year-of-airline-disaster

23 December 2014: Malaysia-China starts a series of joint military drills. Malaysia supplies bauxite. A theory that MH370 was commandeered-hacked to Diego Garcia, focus on sightings in Maldives; HK property billionaire and former Chief Secretary sentenced for corruption

Malaysia and China hold first-ever joint military exercise by nicholas cheng  Updated: Tuesday December 23, 2014 MYT 11:10:02 AM; KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Armed Forces and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began their first-ever bilateral military exercise yesterday to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries... The five-day tabletop exercise at the Armed Forces’ Joint Warfare Centre (Pesama) saw 20 officers from Malaysia combining their expertise with PLA’s 21-men delegation to develop a common framework for humanitarian and disaster relief operations... The exercise, opened by Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, will be the start of many joint drills that is expected to culminate in a field tactical exercise next year.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/12/23/Malaysia-and-China-hold-firstever-joint-military-exercise/

screenshot of The Star article

China’s Bauxite Imports From Malaysia Surge After Indonesian Ban By Ranjeetha Pakiam  Dec 22, 2014 5:52 PM GMT+0800; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-22/china-s-bauxite-imports-from-malaysia-surge-after-indonesian-ban.html

French ex-airline boss claims cover-up on MH370 Text by FRANCE 24   Latest update : 2014-12-18
Former airline boss and famous French author Marc Dugain argued Thursday that there had been a cover-up in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, speculating that the passenger jet could have been hacked and then shot down by the US.... Dugain, a well-respected French author, argues that the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people crashed near Diego Garcia, a British island in the middle of the Indian Ocean used as a strategic air force and intelligence base by the US military, in the six-page article in Paris Match.... The US has always officially denied that flight MH370 came anywhere near Diego Garcia.... The latest theory into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, 2014 has all the ingredients of a spy thriller and has grabbed the French public’s attention.... The former boss of Proteus Airlines travelled to the neighbouring Maldives where residents told local media that they had seen an airliner fly in the direction of Diego Garcia. Their claims were promptly dismissed by the authorities.... “I saw a huge plane fly over us at low altitude,” a fisherman on Kudahuvadhoo island told Dugain. “I saw red and blue stripes on a white background” – the colours of Malaysia Airlines. Other witnesses confirmed the sighting.....Dugain speculates – adding to the numerous other existing hypotheses about what happened to flight MH370 – that a modern aircraft such as Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 could have been hijacked by a hacker.... “In 2006, Boeing patented a remote control system using a computer placed inside or outside the aircraft,” he noted. This technology lead Dugain to the idea of a “soft” remote hijacking....

Billionaire Kwok Gets 5 Years Jail in Hong Kong Corruption Trial By Douglas Wong and Shai Oster  Dec 23, 2014 11:57 AM GMT+0800 ; Thomas Kwok, the billionaire former Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. co-chairman, was sentenced to five years in jail and fined HK$500,000 ($64,460) for conspiring to corrupt Hong Kong’s No. 2 official.... Rafael Hui, 66, the city’s chief secretary from 2005 to 2007, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years for five charges including acceptance of HK$8.5 million from Kwok in exchange for favorable treatment for Sun Hung Kai. Thomas Chan, a former executive director of the company, was sentenced to six years imprisonment, while Francis Kwan the fourth man convicted of the conspiracy last week, got five years.... http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-23/billionaire-kwok-gets-5-years-jail-in-hong-kong-corruption-trial.html

22 December 2014: China to register property owners from 1 March 2015; Shanghai's Greenland plans 52ha Iskandar Malaysia project

China issues property registration rules to aid anti-graft drive Updated: Monday December 22, 2014 MYT 2:40:10 PM SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China issued rules requiring real-estate owners to register their holdings with authorities, a major step in the fight against official corruption that should make it harder for property speculators to evade regulations.... Until now, China has had no such registration requirement, an absence that has let some people use property as an opaque vehicle to hide assets from authorities.... The rules, issued on Monday and taking effect on March 1, are a key step in creating a nationwide property database. They were published by the State Council, China's cabinet-level political body... "All real estate assets - land, water areas as well as houses, forests and the like - will be subject to this set of rules," the announcement said.... "The rules apply to the first-time registration, changes of ownership as well as property transfers, write-offs and asset freezing, among other things," it said.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/World/2014/12/22/China-issues-property-registration-rules-to-aid-antigraft-drive/

Greenland 21 for Iskandar Malaysia?  By SIM BAK HENG - 16 December 2014 @ 12:14 AM;
SHANGHAI-based property giant Greenland Holdings Group is expected to replicate the concept of its flagship integrated development project called Greenland 21 at Iskandar Malaysia.... /khoryuleng/2014/09/johor-developments-watch.html

17 December 2014: Malaysia has seen 50-80% drop in China tour group visits, travel association lobbies for waiver on visas for short trips

Extra RM1b if Malaysia cuts visa red tape for Chinese tourists, travel association claims By Ida Lim Published: December 17, 2014 02:18 PM; KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — Malaysia has the potential to gain a whopping US$300 million or over RM1 billion in tourist receipts if Putrajaya opens up its door to travellers from China without requiring visas for short trips, Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents (MATTA) has said. Hamzah Rahmat, MATTA’s president, attributed this figure to the expected increase of number of tourists from China with no visa restrictions, saying they could spend an average of US$1,200 (RM4,184) each. “If we get additional 250,000 China tourists, we can easily earn US$300 million as they are high spenders or US$1,200 each. This figure is similar to our Tourism Ministry’s projection for 2020 — Malaysia is targeting RM168 billion from 36 million visitors or RM4,666 each,” he told Malay Mail Online in an email reply yesterday. Matta has been actively lobbying for the Home Ministry to do away with visa requirements for tourists from China to halt the slide in visitor numbers, with many of the association’s 3,000-strong members said to have experienced a drastic drop of between 50 per cent to 80 per cent in China tour groups. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/extra-rm1b-if-malaysia-cuts-visa-red-tape-for-chinese-tourists-travel-assoc#sthash.6jgzvxWS.dpuf

8 December 2014: Historical perspectives on Malaysia's foreign policy - committing to both the USA and China?

Prof Milner on Malaysian foreign policy; Is Malaysia committed to USA and China at the same time? Some contradictions and looking both ways. Moving back and forth goes back to Malaysia's early history. Is it balancing, bandwagoning or hedging? Some regard this as a calculative rather than principled approach... What does history show? Objective to be friendly to all suggests an equidistant approach but note the following three puzzles...; /khoryuleng/2014/12/prof-milner-on-malaysian-foreign-policy.html

4 December 2014: Latest China to Malaysia FDI data and MIDA-Bank of China linkage

Surge in Malaysia-China investments, China investments in 2014 RM5bil, Thursday, 4 December 2014 By: THO XIN YI; BEIJING: The two-way investments between Malaysia and China are mounting, with the value of approved investments from China in the manufacturing sector witnessing encouraging growth this year.Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the approved investments from January to July had surpassed the full-year investment figure of last year.
“For the first seven months of 2014, the approved investments from China have reached US$1.46bil (RM5.03bil). The value has surged significantly in the past five years, from US$10.3mil (RM35.45mil) in 2008 to US$1bil (RM3.45bil) in 2013,” he said.... The establishment of a yuan clearing bank had also been agreed upon by the heads of state of both countries, he added.
During the meeting, Muhyiddin witnessed the exchange of two memoranda of understanding.
The first was between Sincere World Land and Development Sdn Bhd and China Construction International Co Ltd for the purchase of a 19-storey hotel as part of the integrated development of The Hub@Sincere World in the Iskandar Malaysia.The estimated cost of the project is US$100mil (RM344mil).... The second was between the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) and Bank of China (M) Bhd. It enabled the bank to refer potential foreign direct investments from China to Mida and provide financing packages for successful applicants to facilitate its investment in China...." ; http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/12/04/Surge-in-Malaysia-China-investments/?style=biz

22 November 2014: China builds island, Malaysia yuan clearing house, visa-free China group tourists, wooing more China FDI to Malaysia

China building South China Sea island big enough for airstrip  22 November 2014 @ 7:20 PM
WASHINGTON: Satellite images show China is building an island on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands large enough to accommodate what could be its first offshore airstrip in the South China Sea, a leading defense publication said on Friday.... The construction has stoked concern that China may be converting disputed territory in the mineral-rich archipelago into military installations, adding to tensions waters also claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei... IHS Jane’s said images it had obtained showed the Chinese-built island on the Fiery Cross Reef to be at least 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) long and 200-300 meters (660-980 ft) wide, which it noted is “large enough to construct a runway and apron.”... Beijing has rejected Washington’s call for all parties to halt activity in the disputed waters to ease tension, saying it can build whatever its wants in the South China Sea.... Hong Kong media have reported that China plans to build an air base on Fiery Cross Reef. In August, the deputy head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Boundary and Ocean Affairs Departments said he was unaware of any such plans. -Reuters... http://www.nst.com.my/node/55409

Malaysia gets to set up yuan clearing house By: THO XIN YI, DANIEL KHOO; Tuesday, 11 November 2014; PETALING JAYA: In a landmark move, Malaysia and China have agreed to set up a yuan clearing bank here to facilitate and reduce the cost of doing business in the country.
With this agreement, Malaysia will be the second country after Singapore in the Asean region to establish a yuan-clearing bank with China.Yesterday, Bank Negara inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) in Beijing to establish yuan clearing arrangements in Malaysia..... Prior to this agreement, a conversion of the ringgit into yuan would need to be first converted into the US dollar and then thereafter to the yuan, also known as renminbi or RMB. With a clearing house in Malaysia, the ringgit can be directly converted to yuan, hence reducing the cost of transaction.... In May this year, during the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Malaysia and China agreed to work towards the realisation of bilateral trade target of US$160bil (RM532.56bil) by 2017.... Other measures taken previously to enhance the ringgit-yuan trade include: ● Bank Negara being the first central bank in Asean to establish a yuan-swap line with PBoC amounting to 80 billion yuan in 2009. The size of the swap line increased to 180 billion yuan in 2012; ● Bank Negara being awarded a Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) licence to invest in China’s onshore market and granted access to the country’s interbank bond market. The QFII quota currently stands at US$1.5bil, the highest granted to a foreign entity outside China; ● In 2010, the ringgit was the first emerging market currency to be traded in the China Foreign Exchange Trade System; and ● A cross-border collateral arrangement was established in November 2013 between Bank Negara and PBoC to enable the use of home currency collateral in the form of securities or cash to obtain liquidity from the host country.
Based on the Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) data, the total yuan clearing amount in Malaysia hit 1.15 trillion in the first half of 2014, up 104.5% from 2013.... The SWIFT RMB Tracker report dated July 2014 also ranked Malaysia as one of top 10 offshore yuan centres in the world. The trade settlement volume has also tripled since 2010 to RM3bil in 2013 while yuan deposits in Malaysia have also expanded by over 10-fold to the current 10.7 billion yuan since 2010.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/11/11/Malaysia-gets-to-set-up-yuan-clearing-house/?style=biz

Malaysia may waive visa fee for group tours from China; Updated: Saturday November 15, 2014 MYT 11:26:21 AM; SHANGHAI: The Government will explore the possibility of waiving the visa fee for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia under group tours.... Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who is here for the China International Travel Mart, said that if approved, the move would put Malaysia on par with other Asean countries who are already offering a similar scheme to Chinese visitors. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/15/Msia-may-waive-visa-fee-for-group-tours-from-China/

Malaysia to woo more Chinese investors; Updated: Saturday November 22, 2014 MYT 12:01:31 PM;  Malaysia has expressed hope that the 6th World Chinese Economic Forum will draw in more Chinese investments. ... Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked President Xi Jinping to help woo more Chinese investors to Malaysia.... He said China had only invested about US$1bil (RM3.3bil) in Malaysia while Malaysia's investments there totalled US$6bil (RM19.8bil)..........China had been Malaysia's largest trading partner since 2009, adding that he was optimistic that bilateral trade could be increased from US$106bil (RM349.8bil) to US$160bil (RM528bil) by 2017. “Malaysia is the third country in Asia to have surpassed the US$100bil (RM330bil) mark, after Japan and South Korea,” he added.........“When Malaysia chairs Asean, we will play a greater role and we know that China will help us," he said.... China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang said Chongqing was the right platform for the forum, with its enormous population of almost 30 million and its size of 80,000sq km. He said the forum was also supported by the Chinese leadership who saw connectivity between China and Asean countries as central to China's Maritime Silk Road initiative espoused by Xi..... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/22/Msia-to-woo-more-Chinese-investors-Nations-leaders-head-to-China-for-economic-forum-to-draw-in-inves/

21 November 2014: China FDI revives "Iron Hill" in Malaysia - surprising details

Report: After greasing Malaysian palms, China firm now mining benefits from Bukit Besi Published: November 20, 2014 04:54 PM; "KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — The chairman of a China-owned iron ore company has claimed that it was through his ties with ruling party politicians and purchases of “Datuk” titles that the firm earned its right to reopen the once-famous mines at Bukit Besi in Terengganu earlier this year. In an article on the New York Times (NYT), Li Yang, the chairman and chief executive of Chinese-controlled CAA Resources, was quoted claiming that with the support of national leaders and the royalty, “you can do anything you want” in Malaysia. “If you’ve got these two to support you, then you can do anything you want, because the natural resources are all controlled by them,” he reportedly said in the article from yesterday.... Adding to that, Yang’s company has also circumvented a requirement to prepare an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for its operations by erecting an eight-foot-high corrugated-steel fence across the middle of the site and calling it two mines, the NYT wrote. The paper said that as the size of each of CAA’s “two” mines is below 500 acres, there was no need for an EIA approval from local environmental regulators.......With license in hand, CAA Resources is now clearing Bukit Besi, famously known as “Iron Hill”, which was once the site of the world’s largest iron ore mine. It was ore mined from this now-quiet Dungun township that had supplied the Japanese steel industry throughout the second World War. According to reports, the mining was handled by the Nippon Mining Company during the Japanese Occupation...........According to the NYT, prices dipped some 48 per cent since early his year to hit a five-year low of US$70 (RM230) per metric tonne. But, the report said, with CAA’s low labour costs, coupled with a “home-field advantage” of being a Chinese firm, the company’s Bukit Besi foray is still expected to be a profitable one. The company is operating Chinese equipment, which were brought in at less than half the cost of American and Japanese equipment, NYT wrote...."  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/report-after-greasing-malaysian-palms-china-firm-now-mining-benefits-from-b#sthash.K4Lp1LJr.dpuf

12 November 2014: Jokowi talks to China about a Jakarta-based AIIB and investments

Jokowi on world stage, first stop Beijing by Rendi A. Witular and Hasyim Widhiarto, The Jakarta Post, Beijing and Jakarta | Headlines | Sun, November 09 2014, 11:27 AM; "In his first official overseas excursion since taking office on Oct. 20, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is embarking on a nine-day bilateral and multilateral diplomatic trip aimed at courting investors for the country and showcasing his maritime vision... Beijing was his first stop as he arrived on Saturday evening to attend the annual APEC summit, a prestigious powwow of 21 leaders of Asia-Pacific economies, on Nov. 10 and 11, and also to shore up support from Chinese government and business leaders.... As China is Indonesia’s biggest trading partner, Jokowi looks to be devoting much of his attention during the trip to seeking support from the world’s second-biggest economy...."

Jokowi asks more of China by Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Beijing | Headlines | Mon, November 10 2014, 9:02 AM; "Appearing upbeat and donning a stylish suit, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo met China President Xi Jinping on Sunday on the first leg of his overseas trip since taking office on Oct. 20. Jokowi suggested the leader of the world’s second-biggest economy bolster ties through “concrete” actions.... In his introduction note to Xi at his office in Beijing, Jokowi said Indonesia’s relationship with China, which stretched hundreds of years, was underlying capital to expand future strategic partnerships.... In his welcoming note, Xi congratulated Jokowi for his ascension to the presidency and hoped that under his leadership Indonesia would not only see more rapid development but also play more of a role in dealing with regional and international issues.
“China has always regarded Indonesia as our old best friend and we have always prioritized keeping our relations intact by seeing Indonesia as a strategic partner that we can trust,” said Xi.... In a press conference later in the evening, Jokowi explained that he had requested of Xi that China be more involved in Indonesia’s infrastructure development, particularly in the maritime sector. “What I mean by concrete outcomes is that there should be more progress in the sectors of investment and trade. I’ve requested to President Xi that Chinese state companies be involved more in the construction of our seaports, railways and toll roads,” he said. ... Jokowi has also demanded bigger role in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), by proposing that the bank open its headquarters in Jakarta for funds to flow into the country. “China will of course have a 50 percent stake in the bank. We will also have a stake, but smaller. We will inject around Rp 5 trillion [US$ 416.67 million) in participating funds to be paid in installments over five years,” he said.... "

9 November 2014: Malaysia to be at the table on all FTAs; China's FTAAP and US led TPPA....

Malaysia as Brazil Vale's logistics hub in Asia; /khoryuleng/2014/11/malaysia-as-brazil-vales-logistics-hub.html - more on this here!

Malaysia supports China-backed free trade plan in Asia Pacific by Bernama Published: 8 November 2014 International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that as a middle-income economy, Malaysia has enjoyed the benefits brought about by APEC initiatives in addressing the middle-income trap and pushing economies to achieve higher income status.... Malaysia has expressed support for China’s initiatives to advance the process of taking concrete actions towards the realisation of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in a comprehensive and systematic manner.... Mustapa, who arrived here on November 7, has met his counterparts from Indonesia, Hongkong, Russia, Japan, Taipei and Asean countries to discuss trade issues. He also pointed out that Malaysia fully supports the Beijing Roadmap for Apec’s Contribution to the Realisation of an FTAAP. “We welcome the collective strategic study on FTAAP and are committed to cooperating in its work,” he said, citing Malaysia's elimination of import tariffs on almost 65% of its tariff lines. “Our average tariff now stands at 5.6%. We have also undertaken autonomous services and investment liberalisation,” he added...." http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/business/article/malaysia-supports-china-backed-free-trade-plan-in-asia-pacific#sthash.JRgXCoY5.dpuf

MITI talks on Malaysia palm oil and FTAs Wednesday, November 5, 2014 by Khor Reports Palm Oil; "MITI explains that the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand regional deal covers goods, investment, environment and labour. It is the more ambitious of the regional agreements, as most just cover goods. To explain on RCEP, she notes that its aims to pool (disparate) rules. This and the Transpacific Partner (TPP) Agreement are open agreements as membership can expand as more countries can opt in... Malaysia is a small open economy and regards such networks as useful. Malaysia wants to be in room when new rules being made but it is another matter if Malaysia signs up. Two studies on TPP are done: I) one on national interest analysis and another ii) on impact on SMEs and Bumiputera business. These two studies will be presented to Parliament to make a decision. MITI reports that TPP will still take time to conclude its negotiations. MITI seeks a balance of benefits from the TPP Agreement. Once all 12 countries present their market impact commitments, then Malaysia can decide. MITI reiterates that it's important to shape outcome i.e. to be there when rules being formed.... A short update on others deals: The (stalled) Malaysia EU deal has similar issues as the TPP, and there is also the European Free Trade Area deal in the pipeline...."

9 November 2014: China anti-corruption hits demand, China's World Bank rival, Vale uses Malaysia logistics, Malaysia submarine torpedo and durian coffee....

As always, a mixed bag of news links. Thanks to readers interest in this still growing news consolidation posting, it's now reached about 6,500 readers (I'm not exactly sure when to shift this to a new posting as size seems to make it easier for readers to find it!) Highlight is some concerns on China anti-corruption hitting commodity demand. Also, check out the new Vale terminal in Malaysia. Our Brazilian neighbours have been living here in recent years to implement this project, so it's nice to read about the big economic drivers for this. Check out the links below for more info. There was a big Malaysia-China seminar two weeks ago (I missed it, as my day job as a economist on agribusiness took me out of Malaysia). I'll try to find out if papers are downloadable and get a link going on it.

China market (update 1): anti-corruption hits demand? Khor Reports: We recently spoke to China market specialists. The problem there is not just the shadow financing / LC problem (the big players still have financing access). There is also significant concern of constrained demand growth as the China anti-corruption drive hits gifting in the food sector including restaurant meals and mooncakes. For example, it is noted that it was the first time in many years that "hairy crab" prices fell. China watchers point out that the country's oil & fats annual increase was in a higher range of 1.5-2 million tonnes but it is now down to a 1 million tonnes increase...... http://khorreports-palmoil.blogspot.com/2014/11/china-market-anti-corruption-hits-demand.html

Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia, Wed Nov 5, 2014 5:57am EST (This Oct. 24 story was corrected to remove the final four paragraphs that are incorrect.); "SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Australia, Indonesia and South Korea skipped the launch of a China-backed Asian infrastructure bank on Friday as the United States said it had concerns about the new rival to Western-dominated multilateral lenders....  China's proposed $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, both multilateral lenders that count Washington and its allies as their biggest financial backers.... China, which is keen to extend its influence in the region, has limited voting power over these existing banks despite being the world's second-largest economy.... The AIIB, launched in Beijing at a ceremony attended by Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei and delegates from 21 countries including India, Thailand and Malaysia, aims to give project loans to developing nations. China is set to be its largest shareholder with a stake of up to 50 percent... Indonesia, where President Xi Jinping first spoke of the AIIB during an October visit last year, was not present and neither were South Korea and Australia, according to a pool report... State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "Secretary Kerry has made clear directly to the Chinese as well as to other partners that we ‎welcome the idea of an infrastructure bank for Asia but we strongly urge that it meet international standards of governance and transparency.... "We have concerns about the ambiguous nature of the AIIB proposal as it currently stands, that we have also expressed publicly." The Australian Financial Review said on Friday that Kerry had personally asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to keep Australia out of the AIIB.

Vale opens Malaysia port to lower logistics costs - Brazilian giant seeks to erode its geographic disadvantage in supplying Australian customers as falling iron ore prices hurt producers' margins; UPDATED : Saturday, 08 November, 2014, 5:43am by Bloomberg in Singapore and Rio de Janeiro; "Vale inaugurated a US$1.4 billion port terminal in Malaysia as the world's biggest iron ore producer seeks to cut costs of shipping to Asia from Brazil with prices at five-year lows.
The facility on the Malacca Strait to stock and blend supplies would help Rio de Janeiro-based Vale compete against BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Group in Australia, said Paul Gait, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein... Up to last month, eight Valemax vessels - the biggest ore carriers that can haul as much as 400,000 tonnes - had already called at the Teluk Rubiah site to discharge cargoes, with five smaller Capesizes loaded, Vale said.... "Vale is significantly farther away from the main centres of demand than its Australia competitors," Gait said. "What Vale can do is to lower the apparent cost of logistics, shrink the world, if you will, and make distance not matter so much."... http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1634648/vale-opens-malaysia-port-lower-logistics-costs

Malaysian Navy successfully test-fires Black Shark torpedo in South China Sea October 31, 2014; "Malaysia’s second submarine, KD TUN RAZAK (KD TRZ) successfully fired a Black Shark torpedo that hit the intended target in South China Sea this morning. — file picKOTA KINABALU, Oct 31 — The country’s second submarine, KD TUN RAZAK (KD TRZ) successfully fired a Black Shark torpedo that hit the intended target in South China Sea this morning.... The torpedo which was launched from the Royal Malaysian Navy’s (TLDM) strategic assets hit the surface target at 11.13am based on a set distance and speed. According to a TLDM public relations statement, KD TRZ fired a Black Shark torpedo at a “passenger ferry” that was modified as a target for the shooting purpose. 
It said the torpedo, which was launched accurately, destroyed and sank its target.... “This is the first time a Malaysian submarine fired a torpedo since the country’s first submarine, KD TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN (KD TAR) arrived at Port Klang on September 3, 2009. The missile launch was also the first for Black Shark torpedo since it was introduced by its manufacturing company, Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) of Italy,” the statement said...."  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-navy-successfully-test-fires-black-shark-torpedo-in-south-china-s#sthash.Zl7Vjtte.dpuf

Malaysia's durian coffee charms China visitors by Tho Xin YiThe Star/Asia News NetworkSunday, Nov 02, 2014; "DONGGUAN - The aroma of durian coffee from Malaysia charmed the visitors at the inaugural Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo here.
Nature Goodness Food Industry Sdn Bhd, which took part in the expo, said the durian coffee was a bestseller among its products, including frozen durian and fruit juices.... "The Chinese consumers find the coffee, flavoured with durian extract, very unique," said company director Fred Lim... The Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo is being held for the first time following Chinese President Xi Jinping's proposal of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road last year.
Malaysia has the largest participation at the expo with about 500 booths offering food and beverage, household appliances, tourism products and others..." http://news.asiaone.com/news/malaysia/malaysias-durian-coffee-charms-china-visitors#sthash.Liut5hAY.dpuf

11 October 2014 - Who was in control of MH370?  Others would like to bury the investigation...

Missing Plane: Emirates Head Critical of MH 370 Investigation; Interview Conducted by Andreas Spaeth; Why is there still no trace of flight MH 370? In an interview, Sir Tim Clark, head of Emirates Airline, is sharply critical of the investigation thus far. He believes someone took control of the plane and maintained it until the very end.... http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/mh370-emirates-head-has-doubts-about-investigation-a-996212.html

Airline Boss: MH370 May Not Be In Indian Ocean, 15:03, UK, Saturday 11 October 2014; "Emirates Airlines boss Sir Tim Clark tells a German magazine that the failure to find any debris raises a "degree of suspicion". "MH370 was, in my opinion, under control, probably until the very end," he said. He added: "Our experience tells us that in water incidents, where the aircraft has gone down, there is always something. "We have not seen a single thing that suggests categorically that this aircraft is where they say it is, apart from this so-called electronic satellite 'handshake', which I question as well."... The plane that disappeared was a Boeing 777 and Emirates operates 127 such aircraft, more than any other airline.... Sir Tim said he was suspicious of the fact that no-one seems to know where the plane ended up. "There hasn't been one over-water incident in the history of civil aviation - apart from Amelia Earhart in 1939 - that has not been at least 5 or 10% trackable.... Sir Tim called for more transparency in the investigation...."

Emirates chief questions flight MH370 theories 6:50pm October 11, 2014; "Emirates CEO Sir Tim Clark has cast doubt on the Australian investigators' version of events following the disappearance of flight MH370, claiming he believes someone was in control of the plane to the very end... Australian investigators say the vanished plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel over the Indian Ocean.
But in an extraordinary interview with a German magazine, the Emirates chief has questioned that theory.... "MH370 was, in my opinion, under control, probably until the very end," he said. More than 117,000 sq km have been analysed but has uncovered no sign of the jetliner. Mr Clark said that raises suspicions.  “We need to know who was on the plane in the detail that obviously some people do know,” he said.  “We need to know what was in the hold of the aircraft. And we need to continue to press all those who were involved in the analysis of what happened for more information."..." http://www.9news.com.au/world/2014/10/11/18/50/emirates-chief-questions-flight-mh370-theories#ujwP6EVusYWExrBJ.99

Report: MH370 probably spiraled into sea by Michael Winter, USA TODAY 8:13 p.m. EDT October 9, 2014; "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 probably was descending and spiraled into the southern Indian Ocean in March after its engines ran out of fuel while on autopilot, according to the latest simulations. The updated flight-path analysis, released by the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau, presents an "end-of-flight scenario" in which the right engine quit first, then the left, "with no control inputs."...."This scenario resulted in the aircraft entering a descending spiraling low bank angle left turn and the aircraft entering the water in a relatively short distance after the last engine flameout," the report states.... That indicates the wreckage of the Boeing 777, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard, "may be located within relatively close proximity" to the "7th arc," which is the focus of the search..." http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/10/09/malaysia-airlines-mh370-crash-scenario/16991677/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories

9 October 2014 - US P-8s are not in Sabah

Actually, when the news came out a while back, the feedback from some KL military observers was that it's not in East Malaysia but actually in east coast Peninsular Malaysia.

No offer to house US-owned aircraft in Sabah, says Hisham by hemananthani sivanandam and loshana k. shagar, Thursday October 9, 2014 MYT 1:21:54 PM; "KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has denied offering the facilities of a naval base in Sabah to house a US-owned aircraft P-8A Poseidon, said Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein... "Moreover, the naval base in Sabah does not have the facilities to place such an aircraft," said Hishammuddin in response to Er Teck Hwa (DAP-Bakri) in the Dewan Thursday. Er had asked if Malaysia had offered the facilities to host the P-8A, following a statement by US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert and how long will the aircraft would be placed in Sabah.... Hishammuddin said Greenert's statement was misconstrued and the latter had also clarified on the matter... It was reported last month that Greenert said his remark had been quoted out of context..... Hishammuddin said there have been joint training programmes between Malaysia and the United States annually based on a memorandum of understanding signed in 1990.... He said the latest exercise involved the Malaysian army based in Pengkalan Chepa camp in Kelantan and the US Army Pacific Command was conducted from Sept 13-26.... on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and involved 795 army personnel from Malaysia and the US.... He said the Keris Strike Exercise in Kelantan recently was an exercise based on an agreement with the United States, and it was a routine thing.“In fact, this is the 18th time the Keris Strike Exercise was held there.... involved 540 United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) from Hawaii and 638 Malaysian army personnel...."  http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/10/09/Parliament-Hisham-US-Malaysia-aircraft/

8 October 2014  - Uighurs and Malaysia-China cooperation to fight militancy

Malaysia urged not to deport  155 Uighurs to China  by Eileen Ng, The Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | World | Tue, October 07 2014, 4:45 PM; "Human rights groups have urged Malaysia not to deport 155 ethnic Uighur migrants, including 76 children, back to China, fearing they could face persecution.... A senior Malaysian immigration official said Tuesday that authorities found 90 members of the Muslim minority group hiding in a three-bedroom apartment and 65 other Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs) in another unit in an Oct. 1 raid on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur that followed a tip-off.... The group — comprising 42 men, 37 women, 43 boys and 33 girls — has been sent to a detention center pending an investigation, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the case's sensitivity...." http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/10/07/malaysia-urged-not-deport-155-uighurs-china.html

Malaysia, China to work together to fight militancy in all forms: Hishammuddin, Oct 8, 2014 9:20 KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - "Malaysia and China will work together to fight militancy in all forms, said Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
He added that both countries were now identifying areas believed to be used as the grounds for militant activities..."We are working across divides and fault lines. Currently, we are in the midst of identifying the hotspots," he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call by China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi here yesterday. Datuk Seri Hishammuddin said both countries need to beef up their military cooperation and defence industries, as agreed earlier this year in Beijing during the 40th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China. "If we get this right, nothing can stop us from moving further ahead in the future," he said.... Mr Hishammuddin made the comments following reports that security at all Immigration checkpoints in Malaysia had been tightened after four Chinese Uighur militants had transited in Malaysia before they were arrested in Indonesia. The Indonesian authorities reportedly found that the four Uighurs had bought fake passports in Thailand and flown to Kuala Lumpur before heading to Bandung in West Java...." http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/malaysia-china-work-together-fight-militancy-all-forms-minister-2014#sthash.EZQy4TeY.dpuf

29 September 2014 - Chinese premier to visit, Khazanah and Alibaba

Official visit by Chinese premier in works, confirms envoy - Bernama September 28, 2014; http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/official-visit-by-chinese-premier-in-works-confirms-envoy#sthash.0VDhEOhe.dpuf; "KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang plans to make an official visit to Malaysia, with officials from both countries in discussions to find the most suitable dates....  Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang said Li had agreed to accept the invitation from the Malaysian government for him to visit this country... Huang said there were indications that more Chinese enterprises were keen to do business with or to invest in Malaysia. The ambassador further said that China’s rising international profile should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat by other countries. China, he reiterated, was not seeking hegemony...He also lauded Malaysia’s stand on the need for territorial disputes over the South China Sea to be resolved in a peaceful manner..."

Malaysia's Khazanah to gain US$1bil from investment in China's Alibaba by liz lee; Updated: Thursday September 18, 2014 MYT 7:08:59 AM; PETALING JAYA: "A little-known investment by Khazanah Nasional Bhd in Alibaba Group in 2012 has paid off. Khazanah’s investment in the e-commerce giant from China is estimated to be valued at between US$1bil and US$1.2bil (RM3.22bil and RM3.86bil), a between four and five-fold increase of its initial US$250mil investment... Its investment, although only small in comparison with the size of the technology stock’s valuation estimated at between US$160bil and US$170bil, will provide a handsome windfall should the state investment unit decide to divest upon the listing of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in the United States. The listing of Alibaba has created excitement in the market and has been described as the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) thus far.... A source said Khazanah was among the Asian sovereign funds that had invested in Alibaba less than three years ago, having taken up some preferred shares alongside other international funds..." http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/09/18/Khazanah-to-gain-from-investment-in-Alibaba/

14 September 2014 - Indonesia and Malaysia police know the cause of MH370 disaster?
The Indonesia police chief is reported by Tempo as saying that he knows the mystery cause of the MH370 loss. He also said he has relayed valuable information to the Malaysia chief of police. However, the Malaysian authorities today denied receiving any such report.

News links:

IGP denies Indonesian report that cops know what happened to MH370 Published: 14 September 2014; "The police have no new information pertaining to the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared last March, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) declared today... His denial follows a news report in an Indonesian online portal (Tempo.co) yesterday which quoted Sutarman as saying that Kapolri and the Malaysian police knew the reason for the disappearance of MH370 but would not elaborate further... Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters today that he was unaware of any such report and declined to comment further..."  http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/igp-denies-indonesian-report-that-cops-know-what-happened-to-mh370#sthash.aahDHRdA.dpuf

Kapolri Tahu Misteri Penyebab Hilangnya MH370; 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 | 15:08 WIB, TEMPO.CO, Jakarta; "Kepala Kepolisian Republik Indonesia Jenderal Sutarman menyatakan sudah mengetahui penyebab hilangnya pesawat MH370 milik maskapai penerbangan Malaysia Airlines. Namun ia enggan mengungkapkan secara gamblang apa yang ia ketahui itu... "Saya dan kepolisian Malaysia sebenarnya tahu penyebabnya, tapi saya tidak mau mengungkapkan di sini," ujar Sutarman saat memberi sambutan dalam acara penandatanganan kerja sama dengan Lion Air di Discovery Hotel, Ancol, Jumat, 12 September 2014...."Saya sudah memberi satu informasi yang cukup berharga untuk Malaysia. Hanya saya dan kepala kepolisian Malaysia yang tahu persis," ujarnya "Saya sudah memberi satu informasi yang cukup berharga untuk Malaysia. Hanya saya dan kepala kepolisian Malaysia yang tahu persis," ujarnya..." http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2014/09/13/078606684/Kapolri-Tahu-Misteri-Penyebab-Hilangnya-MH370

13 September 2014 - Malaysia offers US base in East Malaysia

Is this a major shift of Malaysia's neutral stance? Will this go along with enhanced Malaysia effort on the TPP agreement?

U.S. says Malaysia offers to host spy planes that irk China WASHINGTON  Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:10pm EDT (Reuters) - The top U.S. Navy officer said this week that Malaysia has offered to let the United States use one of its bases for a detachment of new maritime surveillance planes, but officials clarified on Friday that no such flights had been approved... Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the U.S. chief of naval operations, said in remarks in Washington on Monday that "recently the Malaysians have offered us to fly detachments of P-8s out of ... East Malaysia," referring to the Navy's new anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft...The Malaysian government allowed the Navy to operate P-8 and P-3 surveillance aircraft from the country during the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The U.S. Navy does not have a formal agreement to fly military aircraft from Malaysia but has done so for years, with approval from Kuala Lumpur on a case-by-case basis...."

– Reuters pic, September 13, 2014.

China’s Military Secrecy Justifies Surveillance Flights: US Official By David Brunnstrom on 08:37 am Sep 13, 2014; "...The United States is justified in carrying out surveillance flights in East Asia, in spite of Chinese objections, given a lack of transparency in China’s military buildup, a senior US official said on Friday. Beijing called last month for the United States to cut back, or even stop, close surveillance by patrol aircraft if it seriously sought to repair damaged bilateral ties.... The request followed an Aug. 19 incident in which Washington said a Chinese jet flew dangerously close to a US navy P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine and reconnaissance plane operating in international waters southeast of the Chinese island of Hainan.... Beijing argues that “high-frequency, close surveillance” by US patrols has seriously harmed its security interests.Last month’s incident took place 220 km from Hainan, which is home to several military bases, including one that houses a sensitive submarine fleet...." http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/13/us-usa-china-surveillance-idUSKBN0H72KN20140913

Deals Worth US$530m Signed In Malaysia-China Business Conference, Published on Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:00 XIAMEN -- The Malaysia-China Business Conference, held during the 18th China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT), saw 530 mln U.S. dollars worth of deals signed. The 12 agreements and contracts covered areas such as real estate, tourism, education, tea trade and decorative design..." http://www.malaysiandigest.com/business/517991-deals-worth-us-530m-signed-in-malaysia-china-business-conference.html

10 September 2014 - Malaysia pushes trade in commodities and birds nest; MH370 questions @6 months

Uggah to lead commodity trade mission to China - Bernama, Posted on September 10, 2014, Wednesday, KUALA LUMPUR: "The Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas will be leading a palm oil, rubber and timber promotion mission to the People’s Republic of China from Sept 12 to 17....";  http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/09/10/uggah-to-lead-commodity-trade-mission-to-china/#ixzz3CrZnvjxR

China likely to allow more Malaysian companies to export bird’s nests - Bernama; Posted on September 8, 2014, Monday, XIAMEN, China: "More Malaysian swiftlet operators will likely be allowed to export raw unclean bird nests to China by next year, said the Malaysian Federation of Bird’s Nest Traders Association.... Its President, Datuk Lee Kong Heng said the agreement has been drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry of Malaysia and Chinese authorities.
China lifted the ban the import of raw clean bird’s nests from Malaysia in 2013, but allowed only eight companies to export them... It is learned that Chinese authorities have in principle agreed to give approval for more Malaysian companies to export raw unclean bird’s nests to China, subjects to protocols to be agreed by both countries..."  http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/09/08/china-likely-to-allow-more-malaysian-companies-to-export-birds-nests/#ixzz3CrbA5hW7

MH370: Six key questions six months after Malaysian Airlines flight vanished without a trace
What do investigators and the world now know about MH370: the plane, its pilots, the passengers, the search, the relatives and the company? By Tom Phillips, Shanghai, and Malcolm Moore, Beijing 7:00AM BST 08 Sep 2014; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/malaysia/11078698/MH370-Six-key-questions-six-months-after-Malaysian-Airlines-flight-vanished-without-a-trace.html; "...Analysts are still studying around 1,000 possible flight paths that the flight might have taken to reach its final resting place, according to the Australian head of the search operation.... Why the plane might have changed course and who was responsible remains a mystery, although authorities have said they believe it was a "deliberate act" rather than the result of a technical malfunction... Relatives and Malaysian officials have defended both pilots. Mr Zaharie's brother has described the pilot as a devout Muslim and doting father and rejected the idea he might have been suffering from emotional problems. Malaysia's defence minister has denied the pilot was regarded as a "prime suspect".... Foreign intelligence agencies are believed to have found nothing suspicious in the backgrounds of any of the passengers.... The relatives of those on board Flight MH370 have been offered $50,000 (£30,650) in "initial compensation". But only seven families have so far accepted the payment, according to the Malaysian government. The rest of the families say they feel that accepting the money obliges them to accept Malaysia's verdict on the plane, that it has crashed at sea, with no firm evidence of that having been its fate. For the same reason - an unwillingness to confront the worst without evidence - few of the relatives have hired lawyers to argue their compensation cases in court.... According to the Montreal convention, the airline must pay $176,000 for each of the passengers on board. But relatives can eventually sue for more compensation, with some lawyers estimating that an American court could award $8 million but that a Chinese court would be likely to award far less.... Meanwhile, the Chinese relatives continue to insist that Boeing, Inmarsat, Malaysia Airlines and the governments involved have not released all the data on the flight and say they will continue to petition for more transparency.... Confusion over where Flight 370 might have crashed and Malaysia's initial failure to reveal that the plane had turned back across the Malay peninsula meant early search and rescue operations were spread across a vast area. This ranged from the Gulf of Thailand to the the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. ... "

8 September 2014

Invest in Malaysia, Chinese firms urged, September 8, 2014, XIAMEN (China), "Malaysia has urged Chinese companies to take advantage of the good relationship between both countries to tap into a wider market base within Asean countries... The forum is being held in conjunction with the official opening by Chinese vice-premier Wang Yang of the 18th China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) being held on Sept 8-11. Malaysia is named as the guest country of honour for the 18th CIFIT. The event, jointly organised by the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) and Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC), is also supported by MITI..." http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/invest-in-malaysia-chinese-firms-urged#sthash.YABZx61H.dpuf

Police violence, abiding grief for China families of missing on Malaysia jet, Reuters By Megha Rajagopalan September 6, 2014 9:19 PM, BEIJING (Reuters); "Six months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, relatives of those lost, desperate for any hint of what happened, say Chinese authorities have become openly hostile toward them..." http://news.yahoo.com/police-violence-abiding-grief-china-families-missing-malaysia-011910982.html

Najib: Why should Malaysia choose between US and China? Sunday August 24, 2014 MYT 10:07:01 PM; http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/08/24/Najib-foreign-policy/; KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's foreign policy is based on principle - that is supporting what is right, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Sunday... Najib said based on this principle, Malaysia therefore did not really need to choose between the United States and China...  Elaborating further, the Prime Minister said the United States had strength such as a big market, technology, innovation, some of the best education institutions in the world, and also a super power... Najib said China was also an integral part of Asia and they were the nation's largest trading partner with US$100bil in two-way trade, which Malaysia was pushing to US$160bil in five years’ time. "So, why do we need to confront the United States, at the same time we have China?" he said, adding that Malaysia had a very independent foreign policy..."

3 September 2014

China tourists switch from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand to Indonesia, Japan and beyond..... Chinese Say No as MH370 to Thai Coup Deter Trips: Southeast Asia By Bloomberg News  Sep 3, 2014 1:01 AM GMT+0800;   http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-02/chinese-say-no-as-mh370-to-thai-coup-deter-trips-southeast-asia.html; "China’s biggest online travel agency is offering a 30 percent discount on trips to Southeast Asia’s beaches and malls. The Chinese aren’t buying it... Chinese travelers have been deterred by political violence and the mysterious disappearance almost six months ago of a Malaysia Airlines plane bound for Beijing. Territorial skirmishes with the Philippines and Vietnam have also hurt inter-government relations, while Singapore, a transit hub and stopover for those traveling around in the region, said China arrivals dropped 30 percent in the first six months of the year... For Malaysia, the impact of the March 8 disappearance of Flight 370 has been compounded by the kidnapping of Chinese nationals visiting and working in the country. Malaysia’s tourist arrivals from China dropped 32 percent in May from a year earlier, after a 20 percent decline in April....About two-thirds of those on board the Malaysian Airline System Bhd. jetliner that vanished were from China, sparking street protests in Beijing and boycotts by travel agencies. Bookings from China dropped 50 percent to 60 percent after the loss of MH370, Malaysia Airlines’ director of commercial operations Hugh Dunleavy said in May. In July, another one of its planes was shot down over Ukraine... For now, Southeast Asia’s loss is Japan’s gain. Visitors from China doubled in July from a year earlier, and more are heading to Australia, the U.S. and Italy, tourism data show....Indonesia may be an exception. There’s no sign of a downturn there, where the beaches and culture of Bali island are the most popular draw. The number of Chinese tourists visiting the world’s largest archipelago rose 22 percent in the first six months of 2014..."  

7 August 2014

China Mobile eyes 20% stake in Axiata  Updated: Thursday August 7, 2014 MYT 7:39:12 AM; "
HONG KONG: China Mobile Ltd has held talks about purchasing a minority stake in Axiata Group Bhd, Malaysia’s largest wireless carrier by market value, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Beijing-based company asked to buy about 20% of Axiata, a stake that would be valued at more than US$3.7bil (RM11.77bil) based on Tuesday’s closing price, said one of the people, asking not to be named as the information is private.  No agreement was reached, as Axiata and its largest shareholder Khazanah Nasional Bhd are unwilling to sell that much stock and consider the indicated offer price too low, they said. China Mobile, the world’s biggest phone company by users, has been seeking overseas acquisitions after its cash rose to US$69bil by the end of March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It agreed in June to buy 18% of True Corp, Thailand’s third-largest phone company, for US$881mil. A US$3.7bil investment in Axiata would mark China Mobile’s biggest overseas acquisition and the biggest telecom deal in South-East Asia since 2007, the data show...."

5 August 2014 -  RM3.5b investment from China to boost MCKIP. The Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), which marks the epitome of friendship between two trading nations, will see the first spark of billions of ringgit in investments. The construction of a modern integrated steel mill for the production of high-carbon steel and H-shape steel will commence this month. East Coast Economic Region (Ecer) CEO Datuk Jebasingam Issace John said production by locally-incorporated Alliance Steel (M) Sdn Bhd is targeted to commence in two years. “The project marks an investment by Guangxi Beibu Gulf Iron & Steel Investment Co Ltd on a 284ha, with an estimated investment of RM3.5b with annual production output at 3.5m tonnes.” (Source: Business Times, 4 August 2014)

3 August 2014

100 year China food trade alliance? Wilmar, a Singapore-based (Malaysia-Indonesia invested origin group - owned by tycoons Robert Kuok, Kuok Khoon Hong and Martua Sitorus) is participating in a novel 100-year Australia-China food trade alliance, apparently led by key agribusinesses. Wonder if Wilmar may come to promote a similar business-led trade alliance with China for Malaysia or Indonesia too?

News on the Australia-China deal: Three of Asia's leading agribusinesses have joined iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest in what he described Thursday as an "unprecedented" 100-year partnership to position Australia as China's food bowl.... Forrest said China's New Hope Group and COFCO Corp., and Singapore-listed Wilmar International, had joined the Australia-Sino 100-Year Agricultural and Food Safety Partnership, known as ASA 100.... "This is an all-of-country response," Forrest, the founder of Fortescue Metals Group who has more recently turned his attention to agribusiness, told The Australian newspaper.... "I would like Australia to be seen as China's friendliest, largest, most reliable, highest quality, most competitive, most efficient food and agricultural products supplier." https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/national/a/24598052/asia-agribusiness-giants-tie-up-to-boost-china-australia-trade/; other comments in Khor Reports Palm Oil blog posting here: http://khorreports-palmoil.blogspot.com/2014/08/forrest-pushes-australia-china-100-year.html.

The Deep Ocean Floor Where MH370 Could Be Hiding by WSJ; Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is likely resting on the floor of one of the least-mapped sections of the ocean, according to officials. Searchers hope the missing plane didn't end up on one known feature called the Broken Ridge. Jason Bellini reports. 7/31/2014 12:30:13 PM; http://live.wsj.com/video/the-deep-ocean-floor-where-mh370-could-be-hiding/746BCAF6-B454-4E0C-928A-91154BF5D6CE.html?mod=djemWMP_h#!746BCAF6-B454-4E0C-928A-91154BF5D6CE

25 July 2014

A Sabah-Shandong G2G mooted?

Expand China-Sabah collaboration – envoy, The Borneo Post  - Posted on July 25, 2014, Friday; http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/07/25/expand-china-sabah-collaboration-envoy/; "The Malaysian and Chinese Governments should create a platform to promote exchanges and understanding between East Malaysia and China, said Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching Liu Quan. Liu said there was still a lack of exchanges between East Malaysia and China, which caused a lack of understanding on both sides.... Liu said he had visited Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) in this trip, in which he learned about the enormous potential in Sabah, particularly in the oil palm, aquaculture, oil and gas industries as well as biodiversity. e said Sabah and China could potentially collaborate in these sectors... Even though there were incentives in place for investors, and that policies in Sabah were relatively open, there was still a lack of exchanges and understanding between Sabah and China, he said. Hence, Liu said the Sabah State Government could kick start a collaboration with a province in China. For instance, the Sabah Chief Minister could lead local investors to visit Shandong Province with the aim to establish good relations and vice versa.... Liu hoped to see the setting up of a Chinese consulate in Kota Kinabalu as soon as possible, which would provide assistance to Sabahan businessmen who wished to invest in China. Although the Chinese consulate in East Malaysia is located in Kuching, Liu said the consulate served Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan...."
Shandong Province: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shandong and its largest city Qingdao: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qingdao
Recent international financial news on Qingdao has centered on probes of commodity and metals stored in this important port city. For example: China Banks Said to Have $3.2 Billion Exposure in Qingdao Probe 16 Jul 2014; "... Foreign and local banks are reexamining loans linked to metals at Qingdao amid concerns that lending risks are rising in China, where traders..." http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-16/china-banks-said-to-have-3-2-billion-exposure-in-qingdao-probe.html

23 July 2014

Calamity-struck Malaysia may put visitors off: Analysts foresee further ...Malaysia Chronicle  - ‎4 hours ago‎ ; The China Business News reported Monday that concern over travelling on Malaysia Airlines, a major feeder of visitors to the country, has crimped arrivals by more than 40 per cent since MH370, citing figures collected from Chinese travel agencies. http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=326891:calamity-struck-malaysia-may-put-visitors-off-analysts-foresee-further-plunge-in-tourism-dollars&Itemid=2#axzz38ICUzth8

Chinese investment in Malaysia to exceed RM6.4 billion in 2014, The Malaysian Insider  - ‎Jul 3, 2014‎; Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang says China will continue to encourage its companies to invest in Malaysia despite the MH370 incident...

China investment into Malaysia to exceed US$2b this year, says envoy; July 4, 2014

An aerial view of the MCKIP start-up area. — Pic courtesy of the Malaysia-China Business Council; "Investments from Chinese companies in Malaysia is expected to exceed US$2 billion (RM6.4 billion) this year, driven by the establishment of the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, said Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang. He said China would continue to encourage its companies to invest in Malaysia and this year, a big project would materialise. “A big steel plant with a cost of US$1.4 billion (RM4.5 billion) will be built at the park and upon completion, it will produce 3.5 million tonnes of high-quality steel,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Special Meeting of Corporate Malaysia Roundtable on the 40th Anniversary of Malaysia-China Relations. Huang said so far Malaysian companies had been investing more in China, reaching US$7 billion last year, compared with Chinese companies investment in Malaysia, which stood at US$1 billion. However, he is confident that the imbalance will improve, as investment from China has roughly maintained its momentum...."  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/china-investment-into-malaysia-to-exceed-us2b-this-year-says-envoy#sthash.Dq2ixvJ4.dpuf

18 July update: In a separate incident to MH370, very sadly and improbably, another Malaysia Airline plane disaster last night.  MH17 is reported shot down by a rebel missile over Ukraine air space and crashed near the Ukraine-Russian borderBloomberg says "Putin’s government in line for some of the blame for the incident..." It seems that a lot of geopolitics is tied up with the two Malaysia Airline tragedies.

News links: Downed Malaysia Airlines plane: how did it go wrong for flight MH17? http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/17/malaysia-airlines-mh17-flying-just-above-restricted-airspace; Ukraine Says Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Near Russian Border, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-17/malaysia-jet-shot-down-in-ukraine-near-russia-ifx-says.html; Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 'shot down' in Ukraine - live updates, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/17/malaysia-airlines-plane-crashes-ukraine-live; MH17 crash: All European MAS flights to take alternative routes, http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/07/18/MH17-European-MAS-flights-to-take-alternative-route/

Market reactions: Asian Stocks Slip With Ringgit on Plane While Bonds Rise, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-17/asia-futures-sink-s-p-500-on-gaza-plane-yen-holds-gains.html

Geopolitical views: Malaysian Airliner Crash Should End Ukraine War, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-17/malaysian-airliner-crash-should-end-ukraine-war; Flight MH17 and the Role of Ukraine's Rebels, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-17/flight-mh17-and-the-role-of-ukraine-s-rebels; MH17 Crash: Here Are the Geopolitical Implications, http://www.bloomberg.com/video/the-geopolitical-implications-of-mh17-crash-a~4r8Ld8RQyDynitwd2Cww.html (with Stratfor military analyst).

Malaysian Air Flight Took Route Avoided by Qantas, Asiana  By Kyunghee Park  Jul 18, 2014 1:13 PM GMT+0800; "Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS), whose plane carrying 298 passengers was shot down over eastern Ukraine, took a route avoided by Qantas (QAN) Airways Ltd. and several other carriers as separatist fights in the region intensified...." http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-18/malaysian-airline-took-flight-route-avoided-by-qantas-asiana.html

9 July update: More reading on regional foreign policy, defense and submarine hardware plans, No. 130/2014 dated 7 July 2014, Toward Stealth and Sea Denial: Submarine Modernization in East Asia By Michael Raska: "An important aspect of the regional “arms competition” in East Asia is the gradual introduction of new classes of conventionally-powered diesel-electric submarines (SSKs), which are increasingly becoming “platforms of choice” - as force-multipliers in diverse missions as well as against superior forces... Notwithstanding East Asia’s economic growth rates and deepening integration into the global economy, the region’s strategic realities reflect contending trajectories. As China expands its national interests in the broader context of “new historic missions”, it seeks to regain a great power status and reassert its geopolitical role in the region. As a result of China’s accelerating military modernization, regional powers are responding by revamping their force modernization priorities, alliances, and overall strategic choices.... Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are also planning to expand or upgrade their submarine fleets. From 2007-09, Malaysia took formal delivery of two French-built Scorpene-class submarines, equipped with underwater-launched Exocet anti-ship missiles. Both submarines are based at the Kota Kinabalu Naval Base in Sabah, East Malaysia, indicating their primary mission to protect Malaysia’s sovereignty in part of South China Sea. Meanwhile, Indonesia has ambitious plans to expand its submarine fleet to at least six, and ideally to 12 by 2024, a key element in the “Minimum Essential Force” (MEF) and declared goal of developing a ‘green-water’ navy. In 2012, the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) announced a US$1.1 billion contract for three Type-209/1400 diesel-electric submarines, constructed by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering..... In November 2013, Singapore announced a contract with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp to acquire two advanced Type-218SG submarines that will augment existing Archer-class boats and replace ageing ex-Swedish Challenger-class by 2020....For smaller, defensively-oriented navies in East and Southeast Asia, these attributes enable “sea-denial” capabilities aimed at preventing an opponent from using the sea, rather than providing a degree of sea control to use the sea for own power projection. Submarines will therefore become an increasingly valuable strategic asset in the region, particularly with installed AIP systems. The key difference, however, will be in the experience, training, and skill set of its operators."

Note: Malaysia - "The Navy has two Scorpene class submarines in its fleet, dubbed KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Abdul Razak that cost over RM2 billion each. The diesel-electric attack submarines can dive to a depth of up to 350 metres and carry a 31-man crew each,"  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysias-subs-for-combat-not-rescue-vessels-says-ex-military-man#sthash.o3jPZWlN.dpuf. Malaysia had some rumours on the usability / submersibility of its Scorpene submarines early on, but since then they have been affirmed to be fully operational, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/scorpene-submarines-are-fully-operational-says-navy-chief.

Another piece of interest readers may want to check out: No. 128/2014 dated 4 July 2014 Rethinking China's Monroe Doctrine By Kai He and Huiyun Feng; "It is too early to worry about China's Monroe Doctrine. Asian countries need to think about how to deal with its new Nixon Doctrine in the near future...."

4 July update: I read with interest “RSIS Commentary 122/2014 China’s James Shoal Claim: Malaysia the Undisputed Owner” by B.A. Hamzah, published 1 July 2014. There has been coffee shop talk in KL about how Malaysia has been apparently accommodating of China navy presence very close to the coast off Sarawak. I also had déjà vu on the talk on the status of islands versus submerged rocks and such – something discussed with a lawyer friend in Singapore a few years ago, in relation to understanding the Pedra Branca issue between Malaysia and Singapore.

Hamzah writes “JAMES SHOAL, a feature that is permanently 22 metres (66 feet) under water in the South China Sea, should not have attracted public attention regionally but for geopolitics and ignorance of international law. Malaysians have been alarmed by recent reports of vessels of the People’s Republic of China Liberation Army (Navy), gathering and celebrating above the feature on more than one occasion… James Shoal, located 63 nm from the nearest base point (Batuan Likau) on Sarawak coast, is embedded in the continental shelf of Malaysia and within its EEZ…. China claims James Shoal is within the disputed nine-dash line boundary which China has drawn, incorporating close to ninety percent of the South China Sea, and overlapping with the maritime domains of five other states (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam) as well as Taiwan….  The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf (Malaysia and China subscribe to both Treaties) stipulate, “The rights of a coastal state over the continental shelf do not depend on occupation, effective or notional, or in any express proclamation”….  in nearby Laconia shoals, where currently a large chunk of Malaysia’s hydrocarbon resources comes from, the entire area has been explored for gas and oil…. The activities of the Malaysian authorities, which are extensive, peaceful, continuous and public in nature, include the construction and maintenance of a light-buoy on nearby Parsons Shoal on a 24/7 basis; daily patrolling and policing of the area by the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency; and undertaking economic activities like exploration for and production of hydrocarbon resources on a sustained basis… ”
One keen observer from Malaysia shared this comment with us: "The problem of the South China Sea was inherited from World War 2 when the Alliance allowed China (KMT & Communists) to claim to the Spratly Island, as China was also one of the winners of the (war). Originally, KMT claimed even further to the 11-dot line# but revised the line after they found that their navy could not patrol so far. Now, with a stronger navy, China (would surely) want all these for the natural resources.”


22 June update: MH370 search: Pilot Zaharie Shah named as ‘chief suspect’ by Malaysian investigators after plans for Indian Ocean flight found on simulator; Police inquiry reportedly shows the captain had ‘made no plans’ for future after fateful 8 March flight; Sunday 22 June 2014; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/mh370-search-pilot-zaharie-shah-named-as-chief-suspect-by-malaysian-investigators-after-plans-for-indian-ocean-flight-found-on-simulator-9554672.html

20 June 2014 update: Malaysia eyes China FDI of USD 2 billion yearly in manufacturing and services. The context of this is that for 2002-2012, China investments approvals were USD2.1 billion, 2.5% of the total (smaller in size than Hong Kong and Taiwan individually) into Malaysia. Each China related manufacturing investment in Malaysia averaged USD14.5 million, creating 113 jobs, and with USD106,000 invested per job. This is smaller than the average, but bigger and more capital intensive than Singapore and Taiwan projects here (Data: Malaysia manufacturing investment approvals, by country of foreign participation).When I looked at the G2G industrial parks projects, there were one high and one lower end target for annual FDI. This is depicted below. Thus, the latest target indicates expectations at the 'lower' target. However, this still represents a significant increase and possible take-off of China investments in Malaysia.

Note: From our study done in mid -2013, with Malaysia statistics showing 2007
and 2012 as strong years for China investment approvals in manufacturing and a dip
was expected for 2013. This would exclude investment in property and construction.

Malaysia eyeing US$2b in annual investments from China, Business Times – 18 hours ago.. KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is eyeing US$2 billion (RM6.43 billion) worth of investments from China yearly for next few years, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. China is expected to invest US$500 billion abroad over the next five years. “Capturing five per cent of that is good success for us as it would increase China’s current investments by multi-fold,”he said at a media briefing after a dialogue with members of China Enterprises Association in Malaysia (CENAM) in which more than 80 companies took part. These investments could be in manufacturing and services especially in the higher-end plus high value-added activities from Chinese investors. Last year, China stood as the fifth largest  investor....https://my.news.yahoo.com/malaysia-eyeing-us-2b-annual-144853166.html

18 June 2014 update: China developers have significant investments in Malaysia, particularly in the Johor-Iskandar Malaysia zone which is developing as a northern adjunct to Singapore. The area received a massive take-off boost with the push joint support of sovereign wealth funds from the two countries as well as key entrepreneurs such as Tong Kooi Ong and Peter Lim and the support of the Sultan of Johor. The Sultan is recognized by Malaysia business magazines as a key business mover in the country and of course significantly involved in investments and developments in the state of Johor. In addition, he has emerged in the news as a possible joint bidder (market talk says this is alongside a China company with a base in Singapore) for Kulim's (part of Johor Corp) New Britain Palm Oil which operates in PNG and the Solomon Islands. We also hear that the Sultan's wife read 'China Studies' at Oxford University. Such affinity could greatly help with bilateral and business ties.

Malaysia-China business ties have been coming along very well with investments by property developers (see below for one such investor) and the awaited take-off of the government-to-government / G2G Malaysia China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) project in the north-east of the Peninsula. You can read my review of MCKIP for ISEAS here: /khoryuleng/2013/07/khor-yu-leng-for-iseas-perspectives.html

Thank you to readers for their interest in this growing and big posting (now almost 7,000 words long) on Malaysia-China relations. This is my most popular posting, according to Blogger stats. I'm glad this is proving a handy resource for fellow researchers and I guess the slightly  unconventional manner of expanding it is alright for now to bring 'one-stop read.'

Interesting news and a good summary of Country Garden's investments in Malaysia here: "China-Malaysia developers plan 5000-acre man-made island off Johor" http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/06/16/China-developer-and-KPRJ-plan-to-reclaim-5000-acres-for-a-manmade-island-project-off-Johor/; "... Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd....The company, together with Johor’s economic development arm, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ), have planned for a development over 5,000 acres (2,023.43ha) of reclaimed land in a project spanning more than 30 years. The project, which will include a man-made island, will be near the second link in Johor and a study on the matter was done more than a year ago. In an interview with StarBiz, Country Garden’s regional president for Malaysia project Kayson Yuen said the China-based company had studied the mega project, known as “Forest City”....The man-made island that had started works, however, raised eyebrows due to environmental concerns, among others.
Country Garden intended to announce the project in March but held it back due to the incident of the missing flight MH370..... Malaysia is Country Garden’s maiden overseas venture. But it is no stranger, having made headlines with its massive project in Danga Bay, Johor, that is estimated to have a gross development value of RM18bil. In August 2013, Country Garden attracted attention when it announced the sale of 6,000 out of its 9,000 units of condominiums on its development in Danga Bay. It attracted attention because a project of such a scale had not been seen in Malaysia.
...Apart from Johor, Country Garden also has projects in Selangor. In the Klang Valley, it plans to launch the project in Serendah with its 55:45 joint-venture partner Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd (Mayland) this year. The 67.58ha project has a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.5bil.... Its other project in Selangor is known as Diamond City in Semenyih. The RM2bil project, which was launched officially over the weekend, received overwhelming response with some 60% of the offered units sold.... ....Country Garden is one of the top 10 developers in China and has more than 20 years of experience in township development."

While MH370 issues seem to be stabilizing, China-Sabah tourism is seeing impacts from problems that started arising about the same time as the air disaster.

Sabah kidnaps have had more impact than MH370 on Chinese tourist numbers, says minister; BY EILEEN NG Published: 17 June 2014 | Updated: 17 June 2014 2:32 PM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/sabah-kidnaps-have-had-more-impact-than-mh370-on-chinese-tourist-numbers-sa#sthash.9u1kbcMK.dpuf; "Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said as of April this year, China cancelled 76 flights to the state capital city, Kota Kinabalu.... National carrier Malaysia Airlines saw 10 scheduled flights from Shanghai cancelled, while China Southern Airlines cancelled 22 flights from Shenzhen. Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines cancelled 44 flights from Shanghai to Sabah.... "Yes, what happened in Sabah has had a worse impact than the MH370 incident," he told Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak)...."

9 June update:
MH370 families in drive to raise $5m to entice 'whistleblower' to solve mystery - Distraught families fear a cover-up and hope 'Reward MH370' campaign encourages insider to come forward
Agence France-Press in theguardian.com, Sunday 8 June 2014; http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/08/mh370-families-in-drive-to-raise-5m-to-entice-whistleblower-to-solve-mystery; The Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, but an extensive search has found no wreckage; frustrated and anguished families suspect a cover-up.... “We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something, and we hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward,” said Ethan Hunt, a technology company chief who is heading the project....

4 June 2014 update:

11 deals signed at the China-Malaysia Business Summit, part of the "40-year tie" celebration. Cited are one firm deal for Khazanah-CIMB-Beijing Enterprises on green and clean energy industries, including water supply and waste incineration power generation. Also, several MOUs.

Among the deals were:

1) Khazanah Nasional Bhd has signed a cooperation agreement with Beijing Enterprises Group Co Ltd to pursue strategic co-operation and explore investment opportunities in green and clean energy industries in Malaysia. Khazanah via its investee company CIMB Group would be involved in assisting Beijing Enterprises Group Ltd, a subsidiary of Beijing Enterprise Group Co, to issue ringgit denominated Islamic bonds to fulfil the financing needs of a water supply enhancement construction project in Terengganu.  Prior to the agreement, Khazanah had invested US$152 million in Beijing Enterprises Group, representing a 4.62 per cent stake.  Khazanah has also sold three of its wholly-owned waste incineration power generation projects in China to Beijing Enterprise Group Co for a total consideration of 650 million Renminbi.  Part of the consideration was settled by the issuance of 347 million shares, comprising a 23 per cent stake in Beijing Development (Hong Kong) Ltd, a subsidiary of Beijing Enterprise Group Co.

Additional info here: http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2013/10/04/Khazanah-Nasional-invests-RM486m-in-exposure-to-China-environ-sector.aspx/

2) MoU between Universiti Tun Razak and Beifang University of Nationalities for the exchange of students and staff members.  The MoU also includes collaborative research....

3) Malaysian automotive company Naza Corporation Sdn Bhd signed a MoU with CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co Ltd on the construction of a proposed transportation project in Malaysia.
 Both companies also agreed on a strategic collaboration for the assembly of railway rolling stock in Malaysia.

4) MoU, between Aneka Bekal Sdn Bhd and Aerospace Long-March International Trade Co Ltd, sees the latter offering the LY-80 Medium-Range-Air-Defence Missile Weapon System bundled with transfer of technology.

5) 1Malaysia Development Corporation Bhd signed an investment cooperation agreement with Export-Import Bank of China for the establishment of a joint venture partnership for the proposed development of projects in Malaysia on terms and structure to be mutually agreed to by the parties at a later stage. Both parties intend to make the same contribution of up to US$300 million in tranches to be utilised for the development cost of projects.The cost would be identified and agreed to by both parties subject to the outcome of joint feasibility, evaluation, relevant government and corporate approvals.

6) Pemaju Jaya Capital Sdn Bhd, signed a framework agreement on joint venture projects with Handan City Government to open a charter airline business in Malaysia to promote interoperability between the two countries.  The agreement also includes the expansion of Handan Airport phase three and the construction of Handan City Airport.

The above is a summary adapted from excerpts in "Khazanah, China Firm To Explore Green Energy Investment In Malaysia" by Mohd Khairi Idham Amran,  BEIJING (China), May 31 2014 (Bernama). http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v7/bu/newsbusiness.php?id=1042866

27 May update:

I was away on a work trip in the UK and interested to hear from a few contacts there that they thought the MH370 disaster was (single) pilot caused. Last Friday, I was on a plane and seated next to an aircraft engineer. He told me that for the two signal systems to be disabled, it would have been improbable that the pilot to acted on his own. Unlikely scenarios are that both pilots were in cahoots (but pilots do not regularly fly together and their flight schedules are only known for the month) or the co-pilot is disabled (else he'd raise alarm) and then pilot exits the flight deck and enters the cargo hold (crew or passengers would wonder at this?) to go disable the second system. This is not done with a simple on-off switch, and while aircraft engineers would know how to handle this system; pilots would not have been trained on it. Then I asked, is there a tutorial setting / disabling such an aircraft systems online? Aircraft engineer said he'd take a look. Bottom-line: I hear that many professionals in the aircraft industry are of the mind that MH370 was not pilot commandeered i.e. it's a conspiracy theory (it would take 3-4 people to commandeer??).

Here's the latest slew of news on Malaysia-China relations (on the pandas, there was talk to give them Malay names too?):

Najib makes official trip to China, as Malaysia-China ties turn 40 – Bernama; http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najib-makes-official-trip-to-china-as-malaysia-china-ties-turn-40-bernama; A visit full of significant occasions befitting the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China ties awaits Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he makes his six-day official trip to China from tomorrow. For one, the Chinese government is willing to oblige a Malaysian request that the celebration marking the occasion be held on May 31, a public holiday in China, which happens to be the day Kuala Lumpur-Beijing ties were formalised in 1974.

The economies of Malaysia and China: then and now; The Star Online; http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/05/26/The-economies-of-Malaysia-and-China-then-and-now/; THE economic landscape of Malaysia and China has vastly changed from 40 years ago, when both countries established diplomatic relations with each other.

Ethnic Chinese will back own race against Malays, Ridhuan Tee says after ...; The Malay Mail Online  - ‎20 hours ago; http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/ethnic-chinese-will-back-own-race-against-malays-ridhuan-tee-says-after-tho; Malaysia's all-ethnic-Chinese team, led by Lee Chong Wei, failed to capture the Thomas Cup after losing 2-3 to Japan in New Delhi last night.

Association: PM's visit to China will boost MCKIP project; The Star Online  - ‎May 25, 2014‎; http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/05/26/Association-PMs-visit-to-China-will-boost-MCKIP-project/  ; The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia says the Prime Minister's trip to China will provide a much-needed boost for the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) project. Its president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said the ...

Giant pandas to leave for Malaysia tonight; The Malay Mail Online  - ‎May 20, 2014‎; http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/giant-pandas-to-leave-for-malaysia-tonight; A pair of giant pandas will leave for Malaysia tonight on a 10-year loan and will be introduced to the public at the Giant Panda Complex at the National Zoo.

On panda diplomacy: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/05/21/china-malaysia-and-the-weird-world-of-panda-diplomacy/

Envoy says China will never let Malaysia face MH370 saga alone; The Malaysian Insider  - ‎May 22, 2014‎; http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/envoy-says-china-will-never-let-malaysia-face-mh370-saga-alone ; "These (have) once again proved a friend in need, is a friend indeed," he said at a press briefing in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur today. On March 8, MAS Flight MH370 ...

Despite bad showing in MH370 saga, Malaysia crucial to China, US, says report; The Malaysian Insider  - ‎May 8, 2014‎; http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/despite-bad-showing-in-mh370-saga-malaysia-crucial-to-china-us-says-report ; While Malaysia's handling of the loss of flight MH370 has been a public relations disaster, the saga has emphasised how much the country matters in the geopolitics of the region, particularly to China and the United States, The Economist said today.

4 May evening update:

MH370’s audio releases likely edited, experts say May 3, 2014; http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/mh370s-audio-releases-likely-edited-experts-say; Foreign audio experts believe the audio recordings of the final voice transmissions between MH370 and air traffic controllers were edited before Malaysia released them to the public on Thursday. The experts told American broadcast network NBC News that their initial analysis of the transmissions indicated that the full recording had come from two audio sources, with one segment likely recorded by a digital recorder held up to a speaker.

Bloomberg columnist voices out on relative Malaysia non-response versus soul searching in Korea over its ferry disaster... One Missing Jet, One Sunken Ferry, Two Responses - Bloomberg View, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-05-01/one-missing-jet-one-sunken-ferry-two-responses; In the two weeks since the Sewol tipped over and sank -- almost certainly killing 302 passengers, most of them high school students -- Korea has been gripped by a paroxysm of self-questioning, shame and official penitence. President Park Geun Hye issued a dramatic and heartfelt apology. Her No. 2, Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, resigned outright. Prosecutors hauled in the ship’s entire crew and raided the offices of its owners and shipping regulators. Citizens and the media are demanding speedy convictions and long-term reforms.... And Malaysia, 55 days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished? Nothing. No officials have quit. Prime Minister Najib Razak seems more defiant than contrite. The docile local news media has focused more on international criticism of Malaysia's leaders rather than on any missteps by those leaders themselves.

28 April evening update:

Najib to visit China in May to celebrate 40 years of Malaysia-China ties; Pursuing better Malaysia-China relations – Sin Chew Daily in The Malaysian Insider  - ‎Apr 22, 2014‎, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/pursuing-better-malaysia-china-relations-sin-chew-daily

On the air disaster and MAS:

Australian PM: Missing Jet May Never be Found, NBCNews.com; http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-jet/australian-pm-missing-jet-may-never-be-found-n91106 ; Debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight may never been found, Australia's Prime Minister acknowledged Monday, but he vowed to keep looking until the mystery was solved.

Boeing is to blame for missing plane - former Malaysia prime minster, ArabianBusiness.com 28 April 2014 ; http://www.arabianbusiness.com/boeing-is-blame-for-missing-plane-former-malaysia-prime-minster-548116.html
Boeing is responsible for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, according to the former Malaysian prime minister.

On MAS: Malaysian Air Breakup Case Grows After Lost Jet: Real M&A; Apr 28, 2014
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-27/malaysian-air-breakup-case-grows-after-lost-jet-real-m-a.html; Malaysian Air employees each generate $230,000 of revenue a year, less than half the amount at Singapore Air, according to the most recent data compiled by Bloomberg. Workers at Thai Airways International Pcl and PT Garuda Indonesia also bring in more sales.

Note: 5-year share price chart of MAS (dark orange line at bottom) versus Thai Airways (bright orange line with major run ups) and Singapore Airlines (green line). Source: Bloomberg.com

News headlines from Obama's Malaysia visit:

On TPPA: Our continents share an ocean, now for common policy, says Najib,  'Nation willingly joined TPPA talks', Malaysia not being bullied into TPPA negotiations, TPPA: We Must Not Be On The Losing Side, Says Tun Mahathir

On human rights & politics: Embrace diversity and grow stronger, says Obama, Obama raises human rights issues in Malaysia, Small signs of dissent during Obama's town hall in Malaysia, In Malaysia, Obama Keeps Focus on Human Rights, Obama navigates tricky political path in Malaysia 

Other related geopolitics in the region: US, Philippines sign 10-year defense agreement amid rising tensions, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-philippines-sign-10-year-defense-agreement-amid-rising-tensions/2014/04/28/74a605d8-cec6-11e3-b812-0c92213941f4_story.html; MANILA - The United States and the Philippines signed a10-year defense agreement Monday, one of the clearest signs yet of renewed American engagement in the region at a time when tensions between China and its neighbors have been rising.

27 April update:

This is just to remind everyone about China current #1 position in Malaysia's trade. Obama is in town to promote the TPP Agreement; and there is coffee-shop talk about a military deal in the offing too! There is criticism about Obama unusually shunning open talks with the Malaysia political opposition (which won the popular vote in May 2013, but failed to gain power); Bridget Welsh commentary on this http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bridget-welsh-worries-that-the-us-president-s-visit-could-cause-further-damage-to-america-s-standing-in-asia#aLCZ2Bji5jPBFoSo.99. The last US president to visit Malaysia was LBJ. Note how the USA's position has dropped from top trade partner in the mid-2000s to #4 after China, Singapore and Japan. The US-Malaysia trade downtrend is also markedly different from the uptrend seen among the other Malaysia top trading partners.

26 April update:

Chinese families take Malaysia Airlines staff captive at hotel, Tempers flare as Malaysia vows to make public report it gave to the UN; http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1497273/chinese-families-take-malaysia-airlines-staff-captive-hotel

Picked up an Australian newspaper and read an article summarizing ongoing questions in the MH370 search, including a) some questions on whether the US spy satellite base at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs in the center of Australia had handed over all information and b) some relatives questioning why an independent review of the current data was not done; http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-sydney-morning-herald/20140424; Pine Gap: Australia's most secretive location, July 29, 2013
http://www.news.com.au/national/pine-gap-australia8217s-most-secretive-location/story-fncynjr2-1226687597135 - Pine Gap is essentially a satellite tracking station, situated in the middle of nowhere because that makes it hard for other countries to intercept the signals emitted from within. It is thought that the US controls all of its spy satellites from Pine Gap, and that the US and Australia "listen to Asia" from the 14 antennae concealed beneath white domes at Pine Gap...Renegade American intelligence guy Edward Snowden revealed just recently that Pine Gap is one of the key facilities used in US surveillance....

17 April update:

China enthusiasm for property development in Iskandar Malaysia / Johor (catering significantly to Singapore as a new northern suburb area) continues;
Greenland buys Danga Bay site for RM600m,  The Sun Daily 17 April 2014; http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1019331
The Greenland Group, one of China's biggest state-owned companies, has bought a 5.65ha site in Danga Bay, Johor for RM600 million, making its first foray into Malaysia.

Please also refer to 7 April update below on China property interest in Malaysia.

16 April update:

Obama's Malaysia visit and Utusan's "bizarre" views on MH370.... "Given the events of the past few months, Obama will visit a country that has earned some of the worst press in Asia, not only for its fumbling response to the loss of its jetliner, MH370, with 239 people aboard, but to revelations of growing racial and religious intolerance, blatant attempts to silence the opposition through spurious legal action and bizarre charges by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s own newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency kidnapped the plane to foment trouble with China, 152 of whose citizens were aboard the missing craft. The same newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, repeated as a real possibility speculation by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the CIA brought down the World Trade Towers in 2001 as a plot to blame Muslims for the destruction....."; Obama Visit to Malaysia Set for April 27, by John Berthelsen, 15 April 2014; http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/obama-visit-malaysia-april-27/

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 07:58:06 GMT | By The Malaysian Insider : Malaysia; Hishammuddin dismisses Utusan’s CIA-link theory in flight MH370’s disappearance; http://news.malaysia.msn.com/tmi/hishammuddin-dismisses-utusan%E2%80%99s-cia-link-theory-in-flight-mh370%E2%80%99s-disappearance; Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has dismissed the suggestion by Utusan Malaysia last week that the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, had played a role in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370... He compared the paper's claim to speculative reports in the Western media, saying it was their freedom to do so. "At the end of the day, if their report is false, they will lose credibility,” Hishammuddin...

Uutsan Malaysia newslink: http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/Rencana/20140406/re_03/CIA-dan-teori-konspirasi-hilangnya-MH370

15 April update:

Survey finds majority of Malaysians distrust government on missing plane MH370
Kuala Lumpur  April 15, 2014;
More than half of Malaysians believe their government is hiding information about missing flight MH370, according to survey results released by a news portal on Monday. Fifty-four per cent of more than 1,000 people surveyed by Malaysia's leading independent polling firm said the government was not being transparent about the passenger jet's disappearance, the Malaysian Insider reported. Only 26 per cent said they believed the government was being truthful on the Malaysia Airlines plane, while 20 per cent were unsure, the news portal said. The Malaysian Insider said it commissioned the survey by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, which conducted it from March 24-30.

Missing-Jet Mystery: Flight 370 Timeline; Bloomberg;

14 April update:

This is still a topic of conversation today in KL, so I enclose some clippings from a few days ago...

MH370 search: RMAF rubbishes CNN report, no scrambling of aircraft to track down plane; Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 10:26:29 PM; http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/04/11/MH370-RMAF-search-plane/; CNN had reported in its website quoting an unnamed senior Malaysian official as saying that the RMAF aircraft were scrambled about 8am before authorities corroborated data indicating that the plane turned back westward. "But the air force did not inform the Department of Civil Aviation, or search and rescue operations until three days later, March 11, a source involved in the investigation told CNN," the report was quoted as saying.

Opposition politicians complain on Malaysia government approach: Who's lying on RMAF report, CNN or Hisham? Lim Kit Siang | 1:49PM Apr 11, 2014;  https://m.malaysiakini.com/news/259738

13 April update:

I had news from a KL-based banker on some sales cancellation from China investors on the Johor Iskandar China Gardens project (but thought unrelated to the airplane disaster).

Special committee to study economic impact on Malaysia-China trade; The Borneo Post;
KOTA KINABALU: The government has agreed to form a special committee to study the economic impact on trade and investment between Malaysia and China following the disappearance of Flight MH370 last month. International Trade and Industry Minister ...http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/04/13/special-committee-to-study-economic-impact-on-msia-china-trade/

MH370 chills China-Malaysia 'panda diplomacy'; 11 Apr 2014 08:58:39 GMT | By Agence France-Presse; http://news.malaysia.msn.com/malaysia-news/mh370-chills-china-malaysia-panda-diplomacy-1; China has postponed plans to send a pair of pandas to Malaysia next week, a minister said Friday, as bilateral relations remain uneasy over the disappearance of flight MH370.

11 April update:

I hear from Wong Chen (MP for Kelana Jaya), who attended at meeting yesterday morning of several BN and PR representatives with the China Ambassador for Malaysia: It was a cordial meeting with the sharing of words of condolences and friendship. Topic of the pandas for the zoo also came up. News article link: MH370 search: China assures relations with Malaysia unaffected, says Nazri Aziz; The Star Online  - Thursday April 10, 2014 ‎; http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/04/10/mh370-search-nazri-aziz-china-malaysia-relations-not-affected/  Chinese Ambassador Dr Huang Huikang has assured that the strong relations between China and Malaysia has not been affected by the tragedy involving missing Flight MH370 aircraft, said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri ...

Lucrative China-Malaysia relations not derailed by search for MH370, CNN, April 7, 2014

I also heard from my Beijing researcher friend, who did a casual poll with his network of friends and family; 73 or so views but only 3 replies; broadly these underlined the blame placed on Malaysia government (versus the airline for the MH370 tragedy), that they say they would boycott Malaysia goods, but lack of knowledge on Malaysia exports to China (with two mentioning coffee products in supermarkets as being made in Malaysia). The issue appears to be cooling and fortunately for the majority of Malaysia exporters it's not appearing to be of significant impact (which is not unexpected). On the question of how to improve Malaysia's image in China, the two replies: "find the missing plane, apologize to the passengers family and compensation..... but it takes time to change (opinion)," and "Malaysia Airlines announce the real cause of the accident, apologize to the Chinese and the family of the deceased and certain compensation."

More pressing current worries relating to Malaysia-China is the news of China defaulting on soybean shipments worth USD300 million (http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/10/china-soybeans-idINL3N0N21IC20140410) and the possible repercussion on Malaysia palm oil. Earlier news: China Soybean, Rubber Importers Renege on Deals - Canceled Contracts Add to Evidence Showing Rising Financial Stress in the Country; March 27, 2014

Plus more news on emerging problems in the credit sector in China; Property Trust Sales Drop 49% as Vicious Loop Seen: China Credit by Bloomberg here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/property-trust-sales-drop-49-as-vicious-loop-seen-china-credit.html.

8 April update:

Thanks to Andy for pointing out this piece. The depth of the problem; http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/world/the-depth-of-the-problem/931/;
Both the Australian and Chinese navies have picked up beacon signals over the past three days, but time is running out and the challenge of location is immense. Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, acknowledged that the search area was essentially a best guess and noted that the time when the plane’s locator beacons would shut down was “getting pretty close,” the Associated Press reported....15,000 feet – just shy of three miles down. This is around the depth that the signal was detected, and the maximum known depth of the ocean floor below the Ocean Shield.. the here's a reader comment "What a coincidence it went down in the deepest part..."

7 April update:

Interesting question: any impact on China nationals appetite for purchase of properties in Iskandar Malaysia and elsewhere in the country? On Iskandar, I heard from property specialists that in Country Garden's launch and marketing, several chartered 747 loads of China investors were flown to Singapore's Changi Airport and then bussed to Johor to look at the Johor-Singapore integration zone. Subsequently, another major China investor bought a large area from the Sultan of Johor for another project. Malaysia domestic property developers are wary of the large China property projects, as they worry that their large number of units and price discounting may suppress prices throughout the area.

Penang is another hot zone for China invested big projects and property investors. Keep an eye on this.

Short-term impact on property from missing MH370; The Star Online  - ‎Apr 1, 2014‎; http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/04/02/MH370-shortterm-impact-on-property-Experts-say-market-will-bounce-back-in-the-medium-to-long-term/ 
Country Garden Holdings Co planned to build 9,000 condominium units in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor. Other Chinese developers included Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd and Agile Property Holdings Ltd with a combined investment of US$2.7bil and the ...; Country Garden Holdings Co planned to build 9,000 condominium units in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor. Other Chinese developers included Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd and Agile Property Holdings Ltd with a combined investment of US$2.7bil and the Greenland Group which announced a US$3.3bil deal in two residential and hotel projects last month.

I forgot to post this earlier, on Huawei contracts in Malaysia; http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/business/2014/03/28/huawei-keen-on-more-govt-contracts/. China watchers may recall a few months ago, some market chatter on issues at Singtel on telecom equipment. The geopolitics of China and the USA was a related subject. Of course, telecoms have been a major topic of interest, given the apparent prevalence of wire-tapping, even of heads of governments of Germany, Indonesia and more. Here's something on what the NSA does: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-03/the-nsa-spying-machine-an-interactive-graphic#r=rss

Also, I had a note from Dr Chee Kheng Hoy, a renowned global expert on rubber and recipient of the Ridley Centennial Award in November 2013. He has been writing a column on rubber for many years in the Malaysia Chinese language press, to help the industry of the independent smallholders. Dr Chee alerted me that he in his possession a book written in Chinese and published in China (correction: I had earlier misread that Dr Chee wrote the book), about Lee Kin Tat's father contribution in China' rubber planting and rubber trade. The book also touches on the leaders in China and Malaysia. Dr Chee was family friends with the Lees during their school days in Penang.

6 April update:

On 4 April in Singapore, Ruth, a great friend invited to a lunch group, Lee Kin Tat (a physicist and badminton champion in the 1960s). Lee's father facilitated Malaysia-China bilateral relations. Lee Sr was famed for expanding rubber production in Hainan Island, when China was facing a Western economic blockade and needed natural rubber for its strategic and defense needs. Indeed, several Tong series clones were named after him. Lee Kin Tat also related that his father suggested to Tun Razak normalize ties with China in order to help win the Malaysia Chinese vote in 1974 (just a few years after the 1969 race riots in Malaysia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_general_election,_1974). Lee Sr was honoured by China for his role in Malaysia-China relations.

Notes on China rubber:

I also saw featured in a news piece, Roy Rogers, whom I spoke to when I started to research Malaysia-China investment ties (March 2013, thanks to intro by Helena); he talked about Malaysia as the first Asean country to visit China (ahead of Singapore); that the Beijing visit by Tun Razak was strategically timed before Chinese New Year celebrations in a general election year. Interestingly, PM Najib, the son of Tun Razak, did similar with the Malaysia-China industrial parks project; he announced the MCKIP project just before the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in 2013 (also a general election year after a major Chinese vote swing against the ruling BN coalition, in the previous general election). Refer to my article for ISEAS: /khoryuleng/2013/07/khor-yu-leng-for-iseas-perspectives.html

Semporna abduction: "No reason for anyone to sour China-Malaysia relations" - Academician; Astro Awani | Updated: April 05, 2014; http://english.astroawani.com/news/show/semporna-abduction-no-reason-for-anyone-to-sour-china-malaysia-relations-academician-33222
Despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak suggesting the possibility, there is no reason for any party to attempt to sour Chinese-Malaysia relations, according to a local academician specialising in China.... Roy Anthony said that for both countries, which has had 40 years of bilateral relations since 1974, this incident was considered “nothing”....

On the topics of rubber and 1974, there is a 40th year anniversary protest on the price of rubber scrap.... 1974 Baling protests remembered with call to set floor price for rubber scrap; The Malaysian Insider, April 06, 2014; http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/1974-baling-protests-remembered-with-call-to-set-floor-price-for-rubber-scr‎ 
Participants at the Baling 2.0 event yesterday hold a placard demanding increase in price of rubber scrap.....

3 April update:

A slew of news headlines in Malaysia assure on Malaysia-China relations. Here's one, Envoy: China-Malaysia ties not affected despite media reports, and another here, MH370 Tragedy: Incident will not affect Malaysia, China relationship.

So one can expect a new incident relating to a China national to be handled with due care and gravity - Two abducted from Semporna resort, The Star Online, http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/04/03/Semporna-kidnapping-Semporna/; Kota Kinabalu: A 29-year-old Chinese national and a Filipino resort worker have been abducted from a resort off Semporna. The Chinese woman, Gao Hua Yun from Shanghai, and the 40-year-old Filipino worker at the resort were snatched by as many as ...

At dinner last night with a senior academic and other Malaysia watchers, it was felt that the China authorities had early on surprisingly expressed some disapproval on Malaysia (asking for more information on the missing jet incident), given the cordial ties between the two; highlighted by a) Malaysia's liberal approach on its East Malaysia maritime borders and b) the Malaysia-China G2G industrial parks projects.

Seen in the news: Gulfnews.com editorial on the Malaysian government's communication strategy; http://gulfnews.com/opinions/editorials/mh370-s-mystery-calls-for-clarity-of-communication-1.1312909; "...what is confusing is the communication strategy of the Malaysian government. That it is under tremendous pressure to get to the truth is incontrovertible. But its attempts to get to it are being seen by many as dodged by contradictions and ambiguity. The latest revelation, that the pilot’s sign-off message was different to what was originally put out, only adds to the sense of bewilderment. What is sorely needed at this time is total transparency and clear communication on all aspects of the evidence the Malaysian government has with it. Nearly a month on, as the weight of the unanswered questions reaches unendurable proportions for the relatives of the missing passengers, complete clarity of communication is the only salve they can be offered."

1 April 2014 update:  Spoke to a diplomat who reports that within China the "MH370 story" (there are so many going around; including many conspiracy theories worthy of spy-thrillers) that has gained most weight is that of a bungled negotiation with a plane hijackers over an issue linked to the leader of the Malaysia opposition, Anwar Ibrahim (apparently, CNN was a lead story-teller on this theory 24x7). This surprises many people in Malaysia, where more geo-political conspiracies are uppermost in the rumour mill. In this context, the blame centered on the Malaysian authorities can be read[1]. Thus, it would appear that the Malaysian political opposition can have a positive role to play in helping to mend frayed Malaysia-China public relations. Everyone seems equally in the dark[2] on what happened to the plane, but a hand of friendship with a kind heart, an open willingness to listen and an understanding of the agony of the relatives would be good.

[1] Here is a view reported by a Beijing-based analyst that is in accord with news out of China on public sentiment[3/28/2014 1:45:32 PM] AAA: i just asked my wife if the sentiment was limited to the incident or airline or spilled over to the whole country   [3/28/2014 1:45:45 PM] AAA: she said without hesitation "the country"
[2] there is also a conspiracy theory on the lack of information: a widely asked question among many nationalities is this: which country or countries have the technical sophistication and to have tracked the plane in the Indian Ocean and why is data not more forthcoming from this/these countries....

31 March update:

View from Malaysia-China specialist from academic sector: About the social media pressure, it will fizzle out eventually, and I don't think the pressure on the Chinese government is particularly strong. The official media have not been too critical of Malaysia, and some commentators in the official media have also started to speak out against those in the social media. But the Chinese government is not reigning in the social media as well, perhaps it also wants to let the people off some steam I guess, but in the larger scheme of things, China does not necessary want to downgrade Malaysia-China relations just because of this unfortunate incident. In the short term of course, tourism will be affected.

From Malaysians based in Shanghai: the Chinese friends (from the trade) are not as emotional as what most seen in Beijing or on the website....My Chinese friends jab at me out of "taking a Mickey" more than anything else...

In the Malaysia media:
  • Chinese nationals urged not to taint Malaysia-China relations, The Sun Daily  - ‎Mar 29, 2014; KOTA BARU: Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin called on Chinese nationals to maintain the good rapport and diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China, rather than get carried away by speculations on the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines ...
  • The Malay Mail Online: Malaysia-China trade ties still SOLID despite MH370, says Mustapa; Malaysia-China trade ties still SOLID despite MH370, says Mustapa. MELAKA - Malaysia is confident that its investment and trade ties with China is still solid despite the dissatisfaction expressed by its people over the Malaysia Airlines MH370 tragedy.
28 March update: Am also hearing worries in KL business community on talk in China of boycott of Malaysia goods. It would be good if the Malaysian authorities can understand the intensity of loss felt by the families in China and bridge cultural gaps.

On the other side of the coin, take note of Malaysian friends' comments that the world is heavily critiquing the country's handling of the loss of MH370; while quite a few other planes have been lost. Some ask if another country might have done better under such difficult circumstances? It's hard to look at counterfactuals, but it's probably fair to say that the country's stock of goodwill may not have been terribly big with the international media and/or it was somehow rapidly dissipated. [Please refer to new articles added below including section headed China Social Media]

I have got in touch with my China research associates to ask if they can ask friends and family on anecdotal basis on these questions:
Q1: In the wake of the MH370 air disaster, is the sentiment in China limited to the incident or the airline or has it spilled over to the whole country / Malaysia?
Q2a: There is chatter in the China social media to boycott Malaysia products. Do you plan to?
Q2b: What Malaysia products do you buy now?
Q3: What would make you change your opinion to a more positive opinion?

Also, a Taiwan news site summarises some views from North Asia: Malaysia's political turmoil hindering MH370 search: commentary, 2014-03-28

Intensity of loss of China passengers of flight MH370
This article talks about the intensity of loss felt by Chinese families, given the one-child families. Many passengers on the plane likely the only child of their parents. News: Malaysia Airlines missing flight exposes tragedy of China’s ‘orphaned’ one-child parents, 25 Mar 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10721983/Malaysia-Airlines-missing-flight-exposes-tragedy-of-Chinas-orphaned-one-child-parents.html, China’s controversial one-child policy means the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was particularly excruciating for Chinese parents - many of whom lost their only child... Ma Shijing, a Shanghai social worker who runs a support group for “orphaned” parents, said many suffered from psychological problems and financial difficulties while as many of 70% of marriages collapsed after an only child died.

Blame game, tourism impact

Chinese daily blames Malaysia for flight MH370 fallout, March 27 2014, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/chinese-daily-blames-malaysia-for-flight-mh370-fallout, ...."The past few years have seen the Chinese government facing increasing pressure from the public in making diplomatic decisions.... "There is a worrying sign that the public mood might be fanned by some opinion leaders at the price of ruining good people-to-people relationship between the two countries," the article said.... The article cited analyses in the foreign media speculating on a strained relationship between China and Malaysia, despite the fact that Malaysia was the first Asean country to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1974 and that Malaysia is China's largest trading partner among Asean countries... It said China's tourist agencies have also reported a sharp decline in the number of Chinese travellers choosing to visit Malaysia...........Two-thirds of the 239 people on board the missing aircraft are Chinese citizens. The showdown at Beijing's Lido Hotel yesterday came a day after scores of emotional family members had descended on the Malaysian embassy, linking arms and voicing their dissatisfaction over the handling of the search for MH370... Many family members at yesterday's briefing continued to cling to conspiracy theories as well as the hope that the lack of physical evidence might mean their loved ones are still alive....

Malaysia to face losses of up to RM4 billion in tourism revenue due to MH370 ...MSN Malaysia News 27 March 2014, http://news.malaysia.msn.com/tmi/malaysia-to-face-losses-of-up-to-rm4-billion-in-tourism-revenue-due-to-mh370-say-analysts, Malaysia is facing a potential loss of up to RM4.2 billion in tourism revenue, as tourists from China look to travel elsewhere following the MH370 saga, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported today. Luo Juan, a senior analyst with market research company Forward Information, told SCMP that she predicted Chinese arrivals in Malaysia this year would drop by 20% to 40%.... "This would represent 400,000 to 800,000 tourists," said Luo... "If each tourist spent an average of 10,000 yuan (RM5,300) during their stay, the total loss could rise to between 4 billion (RM2.1 billion) and 8 billion yuan (RM4.2 billion).... "A recovery might only be seen after a year," she said, adding it remained to be seen what effect the call for a boycott would have on the tourism industry in Malaysia.... Led by celebrities, mainlanders have been calling for a tourism boycott of Malaysia following MH370's disappearance.... "In the past two weeks, the number of clients from northern China going to Malaysia has dropped by 50%," Dun Jidong, a senior marketing manager at Ctrip.com, China's largest travel booking website, told SCMP.... A China International travel agent told SCMP that the MH370 saga has not only affected tourism in Malaysia but in Southeast Asia overall. "The impact has spread to most destinations in the region including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore."... "After MH370, the number of travel inquiries to Malaysia has dropped to almost zero," Ge told SCMP... China Youth Travel Service has stopped collaborating with Malaysia Airlines on package tours to Kota Kinabalu and promised a full refund to any customers who wanted to cancel. Chinese tourist arrivals account for about 12% of Malaysia's total tourists and 0.4% of the country's gross domestic product, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.....

28 March:
China social media

Are Chinese celebrities stoking resentment against Malaysia over MH370 disaster? Some weibo stars blamed for stoking incendiary war of words by calling for boycott against Malaysia; Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 3:29pm; http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1458430/are-chinese-celebrities-stoking-resentment-against-malaysia-over; Bloggers and columnists warned against inflammatory speech and urged some celebrities to refrain from stoking further tensions, as calls on social media to boycott Malaysian tourism and products continued to gain traction

Johor / Iskandar watch (update 31): Johor Baru City Centre set for transformation - $6.7b plan

23 November 2015: Johor Baru City Centre set for transformation - $6.7b plan


Johor Baru City Centre set for transformation - $6.7b plan to turn area just after former Johor checkpoint into international business district by Reme Ahmad 23 Nov 2015; Johor yesterday launched a RM20 billion (S$6.7 billion) plan to transform Johor Baru's old city centre into an international business district. Over the next decade, the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) will emerge in the area, located just after the former Johor checkpoint at the end of the Woodlands Causeway. It is named after Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, who celebrated his 57th birthday yesterday. The JB city centre currently has a mix of narrow streets, old shophouses and upgraded malls such as Komtar JBCC and City Square. The IIDB aims to improve infrastructure in the area and dot it with newer towers to leverage on its proximity to Singapore and lower costs, officials said. http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/johor-baru-city-centre-set-for-transformation

19 October 2015: Checking back news - RM30 billion target expected in 2015, Johor hopes to tap large scale Chinese industries,  New Johor-Singapore vehicle permit system delayed again

RM30bil target for Iskandar can be achieved this year By: ZAZALI MUSA Monday, 12 October 2015 http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/10/12/RM30bil-target-for-Iskandar-can-be-achieved-this-year/?style=biz

New Johor-Singapore vehicle permit system delayed again, exco says Updated: 5:10 PM, October 7, 2015 KUALA LUMPUR — The new Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) system meant for both causeways linking Malaysia to Singapore has been delayed a second time despite an earlier announcement that the system would go live last Thursday (Oct 1). Johor Public Works, Rural and Regional Development committee chairman Hasni Mohammad said that the new start date for the system, which has already registered 20,000 Singaporean vehicles according to the Road Transport Department (RTD) website, will be determined during the mentris besar and chief ministers meeting. “We have to wait for the outcome of the meeting before making any comment or announcement,” he was quoted as saying by The Star Online. This is the system’s second delay, the first resulting from “technical difficulties”, which pushed back its August 1 launch. According to newswire Bernama, the VEP system will initially involve foreign-registered vehicles entering Malaysia through Johor but will eventually be applied to all 12 road entry points into the country. Roads from Thailand will be next to receive the VEP system, followed by Brunei and Indonesia. THE MALAY MAIL ONLINE http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/new-johor-singapore-vehicle-permit-system-delayed-again-exco-says

While some expats work in Singapore, their kids study across the Causeway 938LIVE reports: A look into the appeal of Iskandar's international schools for some expatriates based in Singapore. By Lee Gim Siong, 938LIVE  POSTED: 09 Oct 2015 12:41  UPDATED: 09 Oct 2015 13:48 http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/while-some-expats-work-in/2180162.html

Johor hopes to tap large scale Chinese industries   By Halim Said - 14 October 2015 @ 5:49 PM NUSAJAYA: Johor is hoping to tap into various large scale industries from China, especially in the manufacturing sector.  Johor Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (JACCCI) vice-president Datuk Tan Seng Leong said the association was bullish and is on the look out for suitable land in the state to accomodate demand from Chinese investors.   "There has been a lot of demand from Chinese investors to set up their operations in Johor," said Tan.   According to Tan, with the rising costs of operation and labour, including the increase in utility tariff in China, Johor was particularly attractive to Chinese investors.   Tan said for large scale industries from China to grow in Johor, there is a need for a bigger land area estimated at around 1,200 to 2,000 hectare to accomodate demand. http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/10/johor-hopes-tap-large-scale-chinese-industries

China manufacturers plan to locate ops in Johor By: ZAZALI MUSA Thursday, 15 October 2015  http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/10/15/China-manufacturers-plan-to-locate-ops-in-Johor/?style=biz

MNC looking to invest $60.4m, set up shop in Iskandar Malaysia by Liz Lee October 12, 2015:  A multinational company specialising in the distribution of tropical vegetable oils and their derivatives, has expressed interest to invest MYR250 million ($60.36 million) in Iskandar Malaysia, according to the Johor Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumerism committee. Committee chairman Tee Siew Kiong said the Europe-based company, with its head office in Singapore, plans to set up its operations in the Southern Economic Corridor in peninsular Malaysia. “The investment could be realised by this year or in the first quarter of next year,” he told a press conference after opening D’ Elegance Hotel in Taman Nusanatara last Friday. http://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/mnc-looking-to-invest-60-4m-set-up-shop-in-iskandar-malaysia-15324/

Bosch continues to invest in Malaysia with new Johor office October 14, 2015, Wednesday Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/10/14/bosch-continues-to-invest-in-malaysia-with-new-johor-office/#ixzz3osr0KCfo

16 October 2015: Johor has right to secede if Putrajaya breaches federation’s terms, says crown prince

Johor has right to secede if Putrajaya breaches federation’s terms, says crown prince October 16, 2015, KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has asserted the southern state has a right to secede from Malaysia if it finds a breach to the terms agreed...Tunku Ismail also said the Johor royal family should not be associated with “the mess” currently affecting the country, adding that it has always been strong, independent and resourceful.....The call for Johor’s secession has been picking up steam online, with social media posts depicting pictures of imaginary Johor currencies—Johor dollar and Johor dinar—going viral earlier this month - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/johor-has-right-to-secede-if-putrajaya-breaches-federations-terms-says-crow#sthash.xryVGSvu.dpuf
Editor's note: will need to fill in some story links from late August to mid October soon!

22 August 2015: Johor Strait Development Corridor Master Plan,land tax hike for Johor River Waterworks, more theme parks, UMLand land bank, Wah Seong contract

Johor Strait Development Corridor Master Plan timing could be wrong: Consultant  By Chuah Bee Kim - 14 August 2015 @ 7:00 AM JOHOR BARU: The Johor Strait Development Corridor Master Plan is a good policy, but the timing could be wrong, said a property consultant. KGV International Property Consultants executive director Samuel Tan, who has viewed the master plan, which is up for public viewing at six venues until Aug 19, said he understood the need for the state government to protect the interest of Malaysian property owners and to ensure sustainability of the environment. However, he said the implementation of the master plan now could possibly deter investors from coming to Iskandar Malaysia. Tan said the 99-year lease imposed on foreign property owners, which is one aspect of the master plan, could drive investors to areas which have no such restrictions.   “This would drive the investors to go to Medini, a premium waterfront urban development that has no restrictions on foreign ownership, no minimum price threshold for foreign property buyers, and where investors are exempted from real property gains tax until December 31, 2025  “The price threshold of RM2 million for landed properties and RM1 million for strata-title on foreign property owners could spur developers to push up prices of properties built for Malaysians in Iskandar Malaysia,” said Tan, adding that foreigners would pay three times more for quit rent and assessment as compared with Malaysians in the growth region. Tan was commenting on the Johor Strait Development Corridor Master Plan, which was unveiled last week and covered housing, green technology, sustainability, reclamation and setting up of international zones for foreign property owners....http://www.nst.com.my/node/96074

Singapore notified Malaysia of concern over land tax hike for Johor River Waterworks: Shanmugam; PUB's operations in Johor are governed by the 1962 Water Agreement which does not require the water agency to pay the land tax says Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.
By Monica Kotwani, Channel NewsAsia POSTED: 18 Aug 2015 16:25

Four more theme parks for Iskandar Malaysia Friday, 14 August 2015  By: ZAZALI MUSA; Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim (pic) said the growth corridor would have eight theme parks within the next three to five years. He said talks were going on between Irda and theme park operators from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Europe and North America to set up their theme parks in Iskandar Malaysia. “The size of the new theme parks will range between 20.23 ha and 40.46ha and they could be either outdoor or indoor theme parks,” Ismail told a press conference at the launch of the SME City @ Indahpura here. He said the eight parks included the existing Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, the Hello Kitty Indoor Theme @ Puteri Harbour, the Angry Birds @ JBCC and the water theme park currently under construction at Taman Mount Austin. http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/08/14/Four-more-theme-parks-for-Iskandar-Malaysia/?style=biz\

UMLand eyes land acquisition in Iskandar Malaysia Wednesday, 19 August 2015; KUALA LUMPUR: United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) is exploring opportunities to acquire land in Iskandar Malaysia as part of its future plan, says chief executive officer Charlie Chia. He said that the company was in the midst of talks to buy a piece of land, between 80.937 hectares to 121.406 hectares in the Iskandar region. ... To date, UMLand's landbank stands at 809.37ha. http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/08/19/UMLand-eyes-land-acquisition-in-Iskandar-Malaysia/?style=biz

2 Indonesian oil tankers detained for entering Pengerang waters illegally   By Halim Said - 13 August 2015 @ 4:30 PM   http://www.nst.com.my/node/96004

Wah Seong bags RM189 million Pengerang subcontract Published: 19 August 2015 10:03 AM Wah Seong Corp Bhd has bagged a RM188.96 million subcontract from Penta-Ocean Construction Co Ltd for the supply and delivery of coated steel pipe piles for the Pengerang Deepwater Petroleum Terminal Project in Johor. - See more at:

21 July 2015: Johor crown prince a substantial shareholder in TMC Life Sciences

Johor crown prince a substantial shareholder in TMC Life Sciences Published: 7 July 2015 7:44 PM; The Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim has emerged as a substantial shareholder holding a 7.67% stake in TMC Life Sciences Bhd, in which Singaporean tycoon Peter Lim controls a 70.5% stake. The filing to Bursa Malaysia shows that Tunku Ismail was issued the 133 million TMC Life shares after he sold an indirect 30% stake in BB Waterfront Sdn Bhd. TMC took over the entire stake in BB Waterfront, a wholly-owned unit of Best Blend Sdn Bhd, for RM400 million by issue of shares. googletag.cmd.push(function() {googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1400601790726-3');}); The Johor royalty held a 30% stake and Lim owned the remaining 70% in Best Blend. BB Waterfront owns Thomson Iskandar, a medical hub project located on 1.6ha in Stulang Laut, which is within 1km radius of the Malaysian CIQ complex located at the Causeway linking Singapore to Johor Bahru. The medical hub will contain a hospital named “Iskandariah Hospital”. Co-located with the hospital is an outpatient medical centre that will contain 400 clinic suites. The medical hub will be managed by Thomson International, a subsidiary of Thomson Medical Pte Ltd – a private hospital owner and operator in Singapore - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/business/article/johor-crown-prince-a-substantial-shareholder-in-tmc-life-sciences#sthash.USWlZuOr.dpuf

Singapore-Malaysia border crossing (update 5): Singapore-Johor Baru shuttle train - The Shuttle Tebrau and Johor-Singapore taxi services resume after licence extension

24 May 2015: 2.5 meter waves near Pengerang, Zelan eyes Pengerang projects; Tash Aw writes in NY Times Iskandar appeal to Singaporeans, Forest City says 700,000 homes to come but large number of new homes coming up in Johor has raised concerns in Singapore the nearly 336,000 new private residential units are more than the total number of private homes in Singapore; Lakeside Iskandar project offers 'guaranteed' returns for serviced apartments; slew of articles in Singapore Straits Times including Editorial; government of Johor plans to unveil new laws which will restrict foreign home buyers to new international zones to protect locals from being priced out of the market 

Barge hit by 2.5 metres waves - MMEA Bernama | Updated: May 20, 2015  (First published on: May 20, 2015 21:17 MYT) The barge was believed to be carrying a load of sand from Teluk Ramunia towards Pengerang when it was hit by waves and capsized. - File pic  KOTA TINGGI: Waves as high as 2.5 metres may have caused a barge to capsize with 14 of its crew members still missing off Tanjung Pungai, Pengerang this morning. Read more at: http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/barge-hit-2-5-metres-waves-mmea-60391?cp

Zelan eyes projects in Pengerang to boost order book Thursday, 14 May 2015  By: S. PUSPADEVI KUALA LUMPUR: Construction outfit Zelan Bhd, with an order book of RM1.1bil, is bidding for some of  the Pengerang projects which are up for tender in Johor.  http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/05/14/Zelan-eyes-projects-in-Pengerang-to-boost-order-book/?style=biz

Path to ending an old rivalry by tash aw in NY Times Updated: Sunday May 17, 2015 MYT 7:51:26 AM Despite years of tension, the surge of Singaporeans moving to Malaysia illustrates the underlying closeness of the two countries. JUST after 6am on a Monday, and traffic on the Johor-Singapore Causeway is already busy.  In less than an hour, still shrouded in semi-darkness, the Singapore-bound traffic leading to the 1.05km bridge will have slowed to a crawling pace; in bad weather or on the eve of public holidays, rush hour queues sometimes last up to two hours. A striking number of family sedans with Singaporean licence plates stream steadily toward the expressway that leads to the heart of the island republic. Inside the cars, bleary-eyed schoolchildren contemplate the long day ahead.
.......A 3,000-sq-ft house in Horizon Hills, a development that boasts a clubhouse, gym and lush golf course, costs around US$170,000 (RM606,900) – the price of a small government-built Housing and Development Board apartment in Singapore.  For this alone, Singaporeans are prepared to face the daily routine of waking up at 4am in order to get their children to school on time, and then waiting until 7pm for all family members to have finished work or extracurricular activities before driving across the causeway again. As the population of Singapore increases and the cost of living, especially of housing, remains high, more Singaporeans are choosing to live across the narrow strait in Malaysia and commute. The traffic is a visible sign of reinvigorated links between the two countries, whose relationship has been punctuated by political tensions despite shared historical roots and huge bilateral trade. As Singapore celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence – and separation from Malaysia – the rivalry between the two neighbours seems finally to be giving way to a greater recognition of their interdependence.Last month, the front page of the widely read Today newspaper featured a lavish spread highlighting the growing trend of Singaporean families relocating to Iskandar, the 2,217sq km special development zone in the southern Malaysian state of Johor.
Established in 2006, Iskandar covers a land area about three times the size of Singapore; its ambitions rely in large part on its proximity to its neighbour’s mature and continuously expanding economy.
.......The growing Singaporean presence in Iskandar signals an accelerating détente between Singapore and Malaysia. Until 1965, the two countries were part of the same union, first under British colonial rule and then under the fledgling state of Malaysia.  .........The huge number of people now travelling between Malaysia and Singapore is a fresh reminder of just how close the two countries fundamentally are. Malaysians have for many years been relocating to Singapore in search of job opportunities and higher salaries. According to Singapore’s 2010 census, roughly 13% of the resident population is Malaysian. Now it is Singaporeans who are searching for a gentler pace of life in Malaysia. In moving across the causeway, both peoples are giving the lie to the prejudices of recent decades by reaffirming links between their cultures that go back centuries.

Johor's Forest City could house up to 700,000: Developer Published on May 13, 2015 7:15 AM  By Reme Ahmad, Assistant Money Editor; THE master developer for the 1,400ha reclaimed land in Johor near Tuas said that over the next 20 or 30 years, homes may be built that can house as many as 700,000 people. The homes being built in the Forest City project would add to the nearly 336,000 new residential units that are in the pipeline for the rest of Johor state. The large number of new homes coming up in Johor has raised concerns in Singapore. The large number of new homes coming up in Johor has raised concerns in Singapore.  Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who is a board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, told Parliament on Monday that the nearly 336,000 new private residential units are more than the total number of private homes in Singapore. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/more-business-stories/story/johors-forest-city-could-house-700000-developer-20150513#sthash.YlbYE7hX.dpuf

Lakeside project launched in Iskandar - Developer offers 'guaranteed' returns for serviced apartments May 21, 2015 7:57 AM  http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/property/story/lakeside-project-launched-iskandar-20150521#sthash.c4VgzUfC.dpuf

EDITORIAL Building Iskandar on firm ground May 21, 2015 5:53 AM  As a growth proposition for Iskandar Malaysia, it is natural to leverage its proximity to Singapore and the city-state's readiness to trade with all for mutual benefit. Supported by ample space and relatively lower costs across the Causeway, that strategy has seen much development taking place in Johor over the years - to the point that analysts have lately flagged the prospect of a glut in certain sectors. For example, Maybank Investment Bank warned that the pro-perty oversupply in Iskandar is "likely to get worse before it gets better". Given Singapore's close ties with its neighbour, it's in the nation's interest to see Iskandar Malaysia - formerly known as Iskandar Development Region and South Johor Economic Region - succeed over the long term. Singapore is the largest foreign investor in Iskandar at RM11 billion (S$4.07 billion) as of June last year, primarily in the areas of manufacturing, education, healthcare and property development. Singaporeans are building, among other things, a medical hub, an international school and factories in the sprawling economic zone about three times the size of Singapore. A number of small and medium-sized enterprises are looking to locate there to take advantage of lower labour and land costs. And Singaporeans with money to buy a second residential property have been wooed by developers of condominiums and landed property in Johor.
- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/more-opinion-stories/story/building-iskandar-firm-ground-20150521#sthash.V8DWXClx.dpuf

$928 million plan to turn Johor Baru river into tourist destination Published on May 15, 2015 1:54 PM - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/economy/story/928-million-plan-turn-johor-baru-river-tourist-destination-20150515#sthash.vya5x2j8.dpuf

Johor to create special foreigner zones Property GuruProperty Guru – Tue, May 19, 2015..
The government of Johor plans to unveil new laws which will restrict foreign home buyers to new international zones to protect locals from being priced out of the market. According to Datuk Abdul Latif Bandi, Johors Minister for Local Government and Housing, details of the plan will be released in June or in August in order to get feedback from the property industry and the public prior to making a final decision. The move follows complaints that thousands of residential units built by developers are primarily targeted at foreigners. The units, which include three-storey landed homes and luxury condominiums, are often priced way beyond the reach of most Johoreans. Last year, the Malaysian government set a minimum price threshold of RM1 million for foreign property buyers. Abdul Latif noted that the move only worsened the situation as property developers keen on selling units to foreigners have set RM1 million as the minimum price. We do not want foreigners to buy all over (Johor), as prices would then go up and the locals cant afford them, he said. We will decide on these areas after engaging with the public and others. Generally, foreigners are allowed to acquire up to 50 percent of the units at property projects in Iskandar provided the minimum price is RM1 million. They are prohibited from purchasing units built for low-income Malaysians or for the indigenous bumiputera and Malay communities.

Iskandar Malaysia records RM7.98 bln in new investments in 1Q 2015 Posted on May 7, 2015, Thursday JOHOR BAHARU: Iskandar Malaysia recorded RM7.98 billion in new investments in the first quarter of this year. It brought the cumulative committed investments secured to RM166.10 billion from 2006 until March 31, 2015. Announcing the investment figures, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said of the committed investments, RM78.53 billion or 47 per cent represented those realised as projects on the ground. He said domestic investments made up RM102.34 billion or 62 per cent while the rest were from foreign players. “We continue to see strong support from Singapore, China, the United States, Spain and Japan. “However, it is the domestic investments which truly reflects the confidence in the region’s development,” said Mohamed Khaled after launching the Synergy Cloud Data Centre at Senai Business Aviation Terminal, here yesterday.
Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/05/07/iskandar-malaysia-records-rm7-98-bln-in-new-investments-in-1q-2015/#ixzz3ayM7kzba

16 May 2015: Johor property glut prompts Singapore to warn buyers of risks

Johor property glut prompts Singapore to warn buyers of risks Published: 12 May 2015 7:29 AM
An artist's impression of the Iskandar Development Project in Johor. A possible property glut has seen the Singapore government advise its citizens to be more cautious when buying property in the southern Malaysian state. – May 12, 2015.An artist's impression of the Iskandar Development Project in Johor. A possible property glut has seen the Singapore government advise its citizens to be more cautious when buying property in the southern Malaysian state. – May 12, 2015.In Johor alone, there are around 336,000 new private residential units in the pipeline – more than the total number of private homes  in Singapore. And this does not include the 1,400ha of reclaimed land near the Tuas Second Link, which will be developed from 2020 onwards. In the light of rising concerns about this oversupply of private properties across the Causeway, the Singapore government will ramp up efforts to raise awareness of the risks involved in buying overseas property. “Given these indications, buyers are becoming more cautious, as shown by many reports,” Singapore minister for culture, community and youth Lawrence Wong said in the Singapore parliament yesterday, in his capacity as a member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) board of directors. “Official Malaysian data suggest the Johor housing market is already slowing down ... Singaporean buyers, too, are becoming wary.”
According to a survey of real estate agencies, the number of Malaysian properties bought through these agencies dropped from 2,609 in 2013 to 838 last year, said Mr Wong, who was replying a query by Singapore MP Dr Lee Bee Wah (of the Nee Soon group constituency). Her question on how many Singaporeans are individual owners of properties in Iskandar Malaysia comes after a recent Maybank report cautioned investors that the glut of homes in Iskandar will be aggravated by a huge incoming supply this year and next. The report pointed the finger at aggressive land-banking activities by Chinese developers, which could worsen the glut and lead to price wars in the high-rise mixed-development segment. - See more at: http://themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/johor-property-glut-prompts-singapore-to-warn-buyers-of-risks#sthash.RLj4VroM.dpuf

1 May 2015: Iskandar Malaysia records RM158b in committed investments - expect a year-to-year of RM25-30 billion

Iskandar Malaysia records RM158b in committed investments Thursday, 30 April 2015; KUALA LUMPUR: Iskandar Malaysia, the major development corridor in Johor, recorded a total cumulative committed investments of RM158 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, said the targeted cumulative committed investments was RM383 billion.  "Since its establishment in 2006, domestic investments have been growing steadily, making up 67 per cent of RM158 billion and 33 per cent foreign investments. "We are optimistic that from this year, we can expect a year-to-year of RM25-30 billion," he said at the launch of the third batch of the Iskandar Malaysia Creative Industry Talent Development Programme (IMCITDP) here today. The programme is a collaboration between IRDA and Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. In a partnership with Japanese digital post-production company, Imagica International Asia, four courses from a total of 28 courses, will be offered....

26 April 2015: On Iskandar property glut, lawmakers views; Johor state government has requested Bank Negara to review housing loan policies to enable buyers own homes worth more than RM140,000 in Iskandar Malaysia - the problem is that banks don’t give out loans; Part of VEP fees to be used to improve Johor public transportation 

In Iskandar glut, lawmakers see foreign optimism meeting poor local demand BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY, MELISSA CHI and SHAZWAN MUSTAFA KAMAL Monday April 20, 201507:01 AM GMT+8; “There is a misconception of the demand market here... there is a clear mismatch between supply and demand,” Johor Baru MP Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad told Malay Mail Online. “While there is an oversupply of premium properties, the demand however is for medium and low cost ones owing to peoples incomes,” he added. Shahrir said it is only natural for developers of premium residential properties in Iskandar to be hardest hit by the dip in prices and secondary sales, as that was never the focus of the region. “You have to be fair to Iskandar as housing was never part of its main draft. The crux of its investment was more on services, hospitality and manufacturing as well as allocations for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). “The investments we are interested in are not housing and this is why we have called in Pinewood and Legoland to Iskandar. That is the main investment strategy but because of all these, foreign developers think there is a demand for their properties and that is not happening. “This is what’s happening and they have to live with it. If they are willing to take the risk then we can’t stop them,” the senior Umno lawmaker said..........Johor opposition leader and Skudai assemblyman Dr Boo Cheng Hau noted that the number of residential projects launched in the state was done without sufficient supporting services or industries in place to make them viable in the near term. The DAP leader said that the region is not yet able to accommodate a surge in tourism, nor is it able to fulfil the needs of foreign investors seeking to take advantage of Malaysia’s second home schemes. “There will be a sustainable demand for properties here but not in the near future. It will take another five to ten years to see booms in economic sectors such manufacturing, service sectors and so on  before there is a more steady increase of demand for properties,” he said in an earlier email interview. ..........DAP’s Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong stressed that the the rapid pace of property development in Iskandar has no real legs to stand, a situation that is not helped by the general slowdown in the property market nationwide.
“Johor is a case of killing the golden goose too fast, too greedily. The property market is not sustained by a genuine working population with income to support their investments, while borrowing rates are surging, awaiting the bubble to burst,” he said when contacted. ..........Umno’s Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, however, believes the upcoming RM53 billion Pengerang Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) project will provided the needed jobs and spending capacity to revive the region’s flagging property market. “Property in Iskandar is experiencing a down cycle, but it (sales) will pick up itself once corporate businesses like RAPID kickstarts. “Once corporations set up business in Iskandar, then things will pick up. When businesses come in offering higher job opportunities, only then will the supply (of residential property) be taken up. It (Iskandar) will not become a white elephant,” he said.... http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/in-iskandar-glut-lawmakers-see-foreign-optimism-meeting-poor-local-demand#sthash.K5DWPR9J.dpuf

Johor asks Bank Negara to study housing needs Wednesday, 22 April 2015; JOHOR BARU: The Johor state government has requested Bank Negara to review housing loan policies to enable buyers own homes worth more than RM140,000 in Iskandar Malaysia. State housing and local government executive committee chairman, Datuk Abdul Latif Bandi, said such move was needed to help developers overcome the difficulty in selling their housing projects and excess houses.
“The problem is that banks don’t give out loans.  “Even though the buyers command salary of RM10,000 a month, the banks will not release loans so long as they see the buyers having other debt-paying commitments. “Hence, Bank Negara has to study the housing needs,” he said after opening the 17th AGM of the Bumiputra Contractors (cleaning services and solid waste disposal) Association of Johor here yesterday. He was responding to a survey conducted by Malayan Banking Bhd on excess of luxury homes in Iskandar Malaysia recently.

Part of VEP fees to be used to improve public transportation  by nelson benjamin Updated: Monday April 20, 2015 MYT 12:28:34 PM; JOHOR BARU: The state government will use its share of the proposed vehicle entry permit (VEP) fees to improve public transportation in the state. State Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the money collected would be channelled to improve the bus transportation system. “We are also looking at improving traffic flow, especially on the major roads, such as Jalan Tebrau, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Skudai, which are congested during peak hours,” he said. The state is expected to get 25% or RM5 from the RM20 that will be imposed on foreign vehicles entering Malaysia through the Causeway here and the Second Link Expressway in Tanjung Kupang, Gelang Patah, from Aug 1.
Asked for the four-month delay in implementing it, Hasni said there were certain issues which needed to be ironed out, including tabling a proposal in Parliament because it involved border crossings..... Besides Singapore, Malaysia also has border crossings with Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia. He said under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the state had requested RM7.674bil from the Federal Government for infrastructure and rural development......... Under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2014), Johor received RM8.5bil. Hasni said the bulk of the allocation totalling RM3.06bil under the 11MP would go towards 10 major road projects. They include the Gemas-Ayer Hitam road, the Pasir Gudang Highway (third phase), the Muar-Tangkak-Segamat road (fifth package) and the Batu Pahat-Ayer Hitam road. He said the state was also looking at ways to improve east-west connectivity, especially with a better road system........

19 April 2015: Maybank cautions on "huge incoming supply" for Iskandar residential and commercial property; Jho Low quick flip of Iskandar property, UEM Sunrise RM42 billion project Gerbang Nusajaya, plan to ban lorries on Causeway, crooked bridge / Causeway replacement won't be revived says Johor MB, relocation of Singapore businesses and families to Iskandar, Singapore re-engineering driving "higher capital-labor ratios, more innovation and downsizing. Some companies are relocating offshore to Iskandar and Batam"

Caution advised on Iskandar residential, commercial property: Maybank UPDATED: 18 Apr 2015 00:06; Oversupply, "huge incoming supply" in a crowded development space and "aggressive landbanking activities" by Chinese developers among the reasons for concern flagged by Maybank Investment Bank's research unit. "We prefer the Klang Valley and Penang over Iskandar."

Edge Weekly - Jho Low made RM400 million by quick flip of Iskandar land deal By The Edge Malaysia / The Edge Malaysia   | April 3, 2015 : 10:00 PM MYT  IN late 2006, the then 26-year-old Jho Low approached Khazanah Nasional seeking support for Kuwait Finance House’s bid for RHB Bank Bhd ( Financial Dashboard). Khazanah had a 30% stake in RHB Bank at the time. He did not succeed, but he got whiff of a business opportunity in the then emerging Iskandar regional development in Johor. After finding out that Khazanah was inviting bids from Middle Eastern investors to buy and develop various parcels of land in the Medini area, Jho Low quickly used his connections to form Iskandar (Holdings) Company Ltd with three Middle East parties. The shareholders  http://www.theedgemarkets.com/my/article/jho-low-made-rm400-million-quick-flip-iskandar-land-deal

UEM Sunrise unveils Gerbang Nusajaya with GDV of RM42b Wednesday, 8 April 2015; KUALA LUMPUR: UEM Sunrise Bhd has unveiled comprehensive development plans for Gerbang Nusajaya – the gateway to Iskandar Malaysia – with a gross development value of RM42bil. UEM Sunrise said on Wednesday Gerbang Nusajaya is master planned for connectivity and is easy to reach from Malaysia, Singapore, and regional cities. Gerbang Nusajaya features a number of catalytic developments including Nusajaya Tech Park, a 519-acre integrated eco-friendly tech park and FASTrack Iskandar, which is a 300-acre “motorsports city”. The massive development would be over 25 years and would create 76,000 direct job offerings, 137,000 indirect job offerings together with a population of 220,000.  UEM Sunrise is the master developer of Nusajaya, which is one of the five flagship zones and key driver of Iskandar Malaysia. It said Gerbang Nusajaya as the gateway to Iskandar Malaysia, will be the commercial and business engine for Nusajaya.  “The 4,551-acre second phase development of Nusajaya is designed for growth via catalytic developments and strategic partnerships with established developers and multinational companies,” it said..... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/04/08/UEM-Sunrise-unveils-Gerbang-Nusajaya-with-GDV-of-RM42b/?style=biz

19 April 2015: Plan to ban lorries on Causeway /khoryuleng/2014/08/singapore-malaysia-border-crossing-fees.html

Housing, water more vital than ‘Crooked Bridge’, Johor MB says Friday April 17, 201509:34 AM GMT+8; KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 ― Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Khaled Nordin said yesterday that the state prioritises housing and clean water supply over the discontinued “Crooked Bridge” project. Local daily the New Straits Times reported Khaled as saying that the Johor state government will not revive the project and that any talks instead would likely centre on the underground tunnel proposed during the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat last year. “I have been informed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (about the crooked bridge) and the state government will abide by the federal government’s decision,” Khaled was quoted saying. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently told Perak Today in an interview that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not talk to him for six months after a dinner discussion that had ended in questions over the delay of the “Crooked Bridge” project. Najib told TV3 in a televised interview last Thursday that Dr Mahathir wanted the 1 Malaysia People’s Aid cash aid policy scrapped and the “Crooked Bridge” project to be revived — two issues that he said could have been part of the reason why the former prime minister has become more vocal in his criticisms towards him. The so-called “Crooked Bridge” was Dr Mahathir’s idea to replace the Causeway linking Johor and Singapore, but was discontinued by his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and believed to be among reasons why the latter was hounded out of office by the man who put him there. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/housing-water-more-vital-than-crooked-bridge-johor-mb-says#sthash.9vgvd784.dpuf

Najib, Mahathir on 'crooked bridge': What is the issue about Published on Apr 13, 2015 10:44 PM; KUALA LUMPUR - The so-called "crooked bridge" never took off in the 14 years after it was first mooted by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, but the recurring national issue may yet take down a second successive Malaysian leader. In 2003, just before ending his 22-year tenure as PM, Tun Dr Mahathir announced that Malaysia would go ahead and build a crooked bridge - a six-lane S-shaped highway that would curve in such a way that it allows vessels to pass under it - if Singapore refused to demolish its half of the Causeway. The failure of his successor Abdullah Badawi to push ahead with replacing the Causeway led Dr Mahathir to viciously attack him in 2006. The move, observers say, eventually pushed Tun Abdullah to resign in 2009. The still influential Dr Mahathir now claims that Datuk Seri Najib Razak also failed to keep his promise to build the crooked bridge, and has asked the prime minister to step down amid a host of other outstanding issues plaguing his administration.... http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/the-saga-the-crooked-bridge-20150413#sthash.B4263MIO.dpuf

KTL Global relocating bulk of Singapore operations to Johor Published on Apr 7, 2015 9:40 AM
SINGAPORE - Oil-and-gas rigging equipment supplier KTL Global will be relocating the bulk of its Singapore operations to Johor, Malaysia, as part of key corporate changes announced on Tuesday following a strategic review of its businesses.
By June, the group will have relocated most of its heavy steel rope and rigging production from Singapore to Tanjung Langsat. "This will resolve the issues of high labour costs, utility charges, and government levies faced in Singapore, as well as a shortage of manpower," the company said.....  http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/companies/story/ktl-global-relocating-bulk-singapore-operations-johor-20150407#sthash.uLEgtcgq.dpuf

Recycler finds bigger green pasture by Ariel Lim and Jacqueline Woo The Straits TimesThursday, Apr 09, 2015 FOR local plastics recycler Winrigo, having enough space is essential.The firm needs to stockpile large amounts of waste material. This was why Winrigo jumped at the opportunity to set up a 24,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in the Iskandar development zone about five years back. Operations director Teri Teo, 44, told The Straits Times last month that Iskandar's proximity to Singapore made it "the best candidate" for the company to expand operations in. "We're dealing with scrap material, so it's important Iskandar has the space we need and is near enough for us to transport materials without spending too much time travelling," he said. "Commuting is easy, and we can go home in the evening to spend time with our families." The green-tech firm is devoted to the development of its line of environmentally friendly plastics known as R3plas.... http://business.asiaone.com/news/recycler-finds-bigger-green-pasture#sthash.Xp8rxjv0.dpuf

The Big Read: Iskandar’s lure is a strong pull for S’poreans  By YVONNE LIM yvonnelimsy@mediacorp.com.sg  Updated: 4:20 AM, April 4, 2015; SINGAPORE — Every weekday morning before the sun even rises, Singaporean teacher Naharudin Shariff, 46, will leave his home in Nusajaya – about 20 minutes’ drive from Johor Bahru city centre – and make his way across the Causeway to send his three daughters to different schools, before driving to work himself. Come evening, he repeats the routine: After work, he will wait for his daughters - one is studying in junior college, the other two in secondary school - to finish their classes, pick them up, and head back to Malaysia. They try to reach home by 7pm every night and have dinner together. “If one of my daughters has to attend an extra class in school, we all plan our day around that. Everyone tries to arrange their schedules so that everyone does something that day. That way we don’t have to make so many trips to and fro,” he said.  The daily shuttling between the two countries is a small inconvenience for a better quality of life in Johor, he said. “The whole family is happier (in Johor),” he told this newspaper at in his three-storey house in Horizon Hills, a gated community in Nusajaya. “Our house here is a lot bigger (compared to the condominium unit he used to own in Singapore). My wife can now have the spice garden she had always wanted, and our kids keep a rabbit and a chick as pets.” He added: “It is very quiet, especially at night. Very peaceful and relaxing, you don’t hear vehicles or the MRT. When you look out the window, you see trees instead of another concrete block.” .......... http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/big-read-iskanders-lure-strong-pull-sporeans

Singapore's Growing Success Sparks a Backlash - This story appears in the April 2015 issue of Forbes Asia. Forbes Staff Forbes Staff , Contributor     By Jane A. Peterson; Wild Rocket Group started ten years ago in Singapore and now has four restaurants serving modern Singaporean cuisine. But sometimes it’s forced to turn away guests because it can’t hire enough staff. “It’s incredibly frustrating,” sighs 43-year-old Willin Low, the owner and, at his flagship restaurant, the head chef. “All of my expansion plans have halted.”.....Investors want him to open outlets in Jakarta, London or Tokyo, but Low refuses. He can’t build a competent staff to expand his $3.7 million business in Singapore, let alone launch overseas. Tightening government limits on foreign workers oblige Wild Rocket to hire Singaporeans for 60% of its openings, even though most locals shun restaurant work. Add to the mix an extremely tight labor market (the unemployment rate is just 1.9%) and rising taxes on each foreign worker hired. “You end up hiring Singaporeans who are not good,” laments Low, “and you can’t fire them”–at least not without losing a competent foreign worker to maintain the same balance.... Still, complaints reverberate across the business community as the growth in foreign manpower shrinks, from 6.8% in 2012 to just 2.6% last year. “When I started Singapore was a very welcoming, pro-business environment,” says Australian Chris Wanden, who owns the 12-year-old Dimbulah coffee chain. “Now it’s under threat. [Foreign-worker limits] undermine growth. Labor-market controls are not part of a free-market economy.” Companies also routinely beef about locals who job-hop relentlessly. “Singaporeans can be very picky,” explains Tan. “They see it as a birthright to get good jobs. The good life here may well have contributed to the lack of perspective on global competition, and this has curbed their hunger.” ...Many analysts applaud the government for managing an economic restructuring in which the fittest companies survive and the least productive fold. “With time, things like service standards can be repaired,” says economist Manu Bhaskaran of Centennial Asia Advisors, a research and advisory firm. “The real threat to Singapore’s tourist trade is high costs. Singapore needs a period of cost-adjustment before it regains competitiveness, whether in tourist services or other areas. [Before,] there was no incentive to upgrade and become productivity-driven. Now companies have no choice.” Leading Singapore companies are beginning to reengineer, he says, through higher capital-labor ratios, more innovation and downsizing. Some companies are relocating offshore to Iskandar and Batam, while others, such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, are expanding their local operations....http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesasia/2015/04/01/singapores-growing-success-sparks-a-backlash/

13 April 2015: A dozen international schools targeted

Iskandar Malaysia aims to have a dozen international schools by yee xiang yun Updated: Saturday April 11, 2015 MYT 8:47:25 AM; JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia is well on its way to establishing itself as an education hub with a target of welcoming a dozen of international schools to set up their campuses in Johor. Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said that it had achieved half its target so far with six international schools already setting up their respective campuses here. Ismail said that the international schools here offered syllabus from the primary school level up to the O and A Levels or equivalent levels.
“Our ideal target is to have 12 international schools in Iskandar Malaysia but there is no timeframe for achieving that as we prefer for it to take its natural course.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Metro/Community/2015/04/11/Centre-of-academic-excellence-Iskandar-Malaysia-aims-to-have-a-dozen-international-schools/

12 April 2015: New Iskandar hub to cater to datacentre demand surge

New Iskandar hub to cater to datacentre demand surge Updated: Wednesday April 8, 2015 MYT 4:10:03 PM Sedenak Iskandar data hub — a 700-acre data hub in the Iskandar Malaysia area of Johor — has been announced to meet the region’s rising demand for datacentre space and services.
The Malaysian cloud services and datacentre industry recorded RM795mil in revenue for 2014, a 26% leap from RM630mil in 2013. Exports grew from 7% to 18%.
Sectors that contributed to this growth include the federal government (29%), banking and financial (19%), and content and technology (17%). There was also growth in high-value datacentre services such as managed services that accounted for 50% of the total revenue, a 20% increase from 2013.
The data hub was announced by the Data Centre Task Force that consists of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Johor Corporation (JCorp) and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).
Datuk Yasmin Mahmood, chief executive officer of MDeC said, “Cloud services and datacentres are a key sector identified to contribute to the national gross income. With the new Data Hub, we aim to attract high value investments from top cloud services and datacentre providers to Malaysia, to further accelerate the growth of industry and position Malaysia as a world-class data hub in the region.  http://www.thestar.com.my/Tech/Tech-News/2015/04/08/Malaysias-Data-Hub-in-Iskandar/

31 March 2015: Singapore rental versus interest cost for 150-200bp positive carry spread

Will look out for similar property review on Iskandar. One of the justifications for Iskandar property prices was that it could go to 30% below Woodlands, Singapore and be considered fair value.

UOBKayHian - Monday , 30 March 2015; Property − Singapore; Does Rental Income Still Cover Interest Costs?....  Positive carry still exists but increasingly difficult to rent out. Those who are able
to rent out their units will continue seeing positive carry as rental yields (2.5-3.5%)
exceed mortgage rates of 1.5-2%. However, the positive carry spread will narrow to
about 100 bp (from 150 bp earlier) as the variable mortgage rates effectively increase
by about 50 bp compared with four months before. Also, it has become increasingly
difficult to rent out units as the increased completions and slower influx of foreigners is
resulting in rising vacancies (about 8.5% of condo & apartment units are vacant).
Another 100 bp rise in SIBOR or alternatively a 30% drop in rents from here on would
result in the positive carry situation turning into a negative carry situation...........

19 March 2015: In-depth interview with the Sultan of Johor - The Star

Sultan of Johor speaks his mind by wong chun wai AND nelson benjamin Updated: Wednesday March 18, 2015 MYT 2:07:15 PM; JOHOR BARU: Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar moved into Istana Bukit Serene weeks ago from Istana Pasir Pelangi and the interview with The Star was at the new official residence overlooking Singapore.

Driving up the road leading to the palace, it was amazing to see several huge cages on both sides, with tigers, panthers and cats inside them. The edifice, some 2km away from the Jalan Kolam Air entrance, was perched on a hill and overlooked a huge swimming pool......We were ushered into the interior of the grand palace, passing through a large hall area with ornate wooden furniture and chandeliers, and huge portraits of the Johor royal family adorning the walls. Sultan Ibrahim was already there to meet us, wearing a sky blue short sleeved linen shirt and in a jovial mood. “Go ahead and ask me anything,” he said as we all sat down.

And throughout the hour-long session, the monarch took all our questions, including tough ones on his business ventures, Chinese investors coming to Johor, the change in the state’s weekend, rumours of a casino and his son’s liver transplant in China.

On the coronation - Q: Tuanku, The Star extends its congratulations to you on your forthcoming coronation. Your Royal Highness, why is the coronation taking place only after more than four years?......
Q: What are the events planned in conjunction with the Coronation?.........
Q: What are your wishes and hopes for Johor? A: I hope that people from all races will unite irrespective of their religion and belief. This is our home and it belongs to all Malaysians. This state is the home of all Johoreans regardless of race and religion. The people should also appreciate the stability of the state and, of course, Malaysia. We live in a multi-racial society. We must respect each other. There is no room for extremism in Johor. Please uphold the values and principles of moderation.

On business, development and reclamation in Johor  Q: Tuanku, your increasing business and commercial dealings have become a talking point. The Johor royalty is involved in a variety of businesses, including a power plant (the 1,000MW-1,400MW Project 4A) and property development in Johor. How does the royalty balance what is good for the people and the state when it has a personal interest in so many businesses? A: If you look at the history of the Johor royal family, we have been involved in business from the days of my great-grandfather. I have never tried to hide my business dealings using proxies, like some people do. I am open and transparent. Tracing the Johor royal lineage, you would have seen how the Johor royal family has a long history of doing business. It began with gambier and black pepper during the early days. .... I was doing palm oil business when I was the Tengku Mahkota....  Let’s be honest here, we are a constitutional monarch. I have to earn my living like everyone else. I cannot depend on my allowances of RM27,000 a month. I must earn a living, like ordinary Malaysians. I am sure Johoreans do not want to perceive me as one selling titles for my income. It is unfair to say that the private sector would be crowded out. Look at the number of private companies doing business in Johor. It is a free market. No one is forced to buy anything from anyone. Monopoly does not exist in Johor.

Q: What are your views on claims that the land reclamation works will affect Singapore’s shoreline? A: There is plenty of land in Johor but the coastline is strategic. People only talk about reclamation by Johor, but not many are aware that land reclamation in Singapore reportedly started as early as the 1820s.... Singapore has reclaimed over 70sq km of land from 1960 to the present day, I am told..... .... Then, there is talk of the environment. I have done my checking. There is not a single dugong that would be affected; get your facts right. According to the MB, a 30-sen fee has been imposed for every square foot of land reclaimed to help fishermen affected by the reclamation. It will bring in over RM104mil to help the fishermen.

Q: The 1,386ha Forest City property project has become a controversy. Forest City will be almost half the size of Putrajaya and will rise in the Johor Straits, southwest of Johor Baru, where the Second Link to Singapore is situated. It is a joint venture between Guangdong-based Country Garden Holdings and the Johor state-owned Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ). A: As the Sultan, I welcome all investors, just as the mentri besar would. It would be insane for anyone to reject investments.... If there are any Americans, Britons, Australians or Germans who would want to put money in Johor, they are welcome, but where are they? If the Chinese are prepared to invest here, why should it be an issue?...All these investments will be good as this will have a spill-over effect for other sectors such as retail, more job opportunities for locals and for the transportation services....

Q: Johor has seen a few major Chinese developers launching large-scale property projects. One developer, for instance, launched 9,000 units at one go and most are to be sold to buyers from China. But a large number of units are not sold yet. There are concerns that Johor is seeing an over-built situation and possible creation of ghost cities. Local developers have also been speaking up about preferential treatment to these overseas developers. Please comment. A: The fear of a glut is just an assumption. All these homes will not be built simultaneously.... We are talking about investing in the future and these Chinese investors know the Hong Kong and Shenzen scenario very well.  Over 200,000 people cross to Shenzen each day in just 45 minutes. That is how the cross-border culture has changed dramatically.... I think local developers just have to work harder. I believe that healthy competition among the developers is good for the industry.

Q: Is it correct to say that not many people dare to speak up against your Royal Highness? There is fear and respect, all mixed together. After all, you do have a controversial reputation. A: (Laughs) Well, you are asking me tough questions. I think I am a friendly and easy-going person. I am straight-talking. I cannot stand hypocrites. I expect people to speak up. Be a man. You have asked me difficult questions straight to my face.... A lot of people, including some politicians in Kuala Lumpur, don’t know me but talk as if they know me. There are those who have preconceived ideas of me. I don’t blame them.

On his son, Tunku Abdul Jalil Q: On a personal note, there has been speculation over the health of Tuanku’s son, Tunku Abdul Jalil ibni Sultan Ibrahim (pic), also known as Tunku Laksamana Johor. Can you comment, especially on his liver transplant? A: He is fine and well after the transplant, thanks be to God. The next five years will be very crucial for him as he needs to watch his food and his lifestyle.... We only discovered the cancer last year as initially my son was complaining of shoulder pain and was only treated at the local General Hospital, which just provided him with pain killers and sleeping tablets.... We only discovered that something was wrong while holidaying in London. After discussing with surgeons from Singapore, we decided to go for a full organ transplant in Guangzhou, China. They told me not to waste any more time... I am thankful that the procedure went well and we were well cared for when in China... The Chinese went to great lengths to help my son. They sent two doctors to Singapore to talk with the doctors there. They provided English-speaking doctors and nurses. They also provided other facilities for me there. I am greatly touched and grateful to them. I also want to thank my subjects as I was deeply touched when informed that thousands of people from all races and religions came together to pray for my son and my family. All those prayers certainly helped him.

On the Johor weekend Q: Will the Friday and Saturday weekend for the civil service still remain or does Johor, as a developing state, plan to revert to Saturday and Sunday to compete internationally, especially with so much talk about doing business with Singapore? Or will the private sector be forced to change to Friday and Saturday as well? A: It’s already over a year since Johor has had Friday and Saturday as the weekend. The aim of the change is to enable Muslims to perform their prayers without having to rush back to their offices.... I understand it has its implications for the private sector as well as doing business with Singapore. I am still in the process of gathering feedback from the public and private sectors.

> TOMORROW: Sultan Ibrahim’s thoughts on royal awards, rumours about a proposed casino in Johor, his relationship with mentris besar past and present, and more.

Sultan Ibrahim also wants a balanced development where the people will benefit  by wong chun wai AND nelson benjamin Updated: Thursday March 19, 2015 MYT 8:34:26 AM; JOHOR BARU: Johor rulers have always been strict when giving out state awards. Each year only a few people are awarded Datukships in the state. ............
Q: Tuanku, Johor is known for its reluctance to give awards. What is your response to talk by Malaysians that there are far too many Datuks in Malaysia? A: I can tell you this. I am aware the people are saying that if you throw a stone, you will hit a Datuk but I can add this — if you throw a stone now, it will hit a Datuk; it will then rebound and hit another Datuk. That is the situation now and we cannot deny this talk. We must feel the pulse of the people.
Q: There are accusations that Tuanku plans to open a casino in the state. Please comment.  A: I know that there is a lot of talk and speculation that Tan Sri Vincent Tan and I plan to team up to open a casino, after I bought Berjaya shares simply because he has a licence (for Sports Toto). I can assure my subjects that as long as I am around, there will be no casino in Johor. In Johor, we do not encourage the issuance of any gambling licences and if possible I want all the illegal ones to be cleaned up by the police.

On environmental issues  Q: You have expressed concern about the environment many times. Could you elaborate?  A: It is pointless to be a developed state if our environment is all polluted as it will not be a conducive place for the rakyat to live in. That is why I directed the state government and relevant authorities to ensure that there are no illegal logging activities in the state. I fully support the state’s decision to freeze any logging activities statewide beginning this year, while existing ones will continue until their contracts expire. Then there will be no more. I also want the state government to increase the number of green lungs in Johor, as well as maintain existing forest areas, as an effort to preserve the environment. That is why in the Forest City project, great emphasis will be placed on the environment and greenery. Transportation on the island will be free as there will be a monorail everywhere. Meanwhile, cars will travel and park underground. I want to see green and trees everywhere in the midst of this massive development.

On state development - Q: Johor is seeing a large number of unplanned developments that were not in the Iskandar Master Plan. Considering this, would you like to see a freeze on property development approvals in the state? A: It is for the Mentri Besar to decide but as the Sultan, I wish to see balanced development. I do not want to see Johor Baru filled with buildings only. ....... There must be spillover effects with the ordinary people being able to open up businesses to serve the people who have bought homes here....I hope that the Government will speed up the building of the 28,000 affordable homes in the state, especially for first-time buyers.
Q: There are some who say that Tuanku has used his power to acquire state land. What have you to say about that? A: I can quote you the amount of land that has been acquired by the state from me, instead of the other way around. In Pengerang, the state acquired my land. In some cases, it has ended with me paying the state because they could not afford to pay me after acquiring the land....There is misconception, as I do not need to take government land. I never ask for anything for free as I am willing to pay for it, above market price and in cash.

On ties with mentris besar - Q: Speaking about the MB, there are perceptions that you have more clout than the MB. What is your response? A: You chose the word “perceptions”. I cannot control what some people want to say. I cannot tell the MB what to do.  He is the head of the state government. He is elected and enjoys the majority of the House. I am the Sultan and I understand my role very well. Whatever our positions, we share the same goal – to see Johor prosper. I have a good relationship with him. It helps, perhaps because we were schoolmates. We have a good working relationship.
Q: Did your Royal Highness have a problem with the previous mentri besar, Tan Sri Ghani Othman?  A: I do not want to talk about the past. It’s over.



18 March 2015: First VLCC at Pengerang 
Dialog announced that its Pengerang Deepwater Terminal received its very first Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) – the Liberian-registered “MT Mesdar”. The 333-metre long vessel weighing in 315,802 metric tonnes arrived from the Middle East to discharge its crude oil cargo at Phase 1 of the deepwater terminal. “MT Mesdar” is the first VLCC to call at Pengerang and, the first to berth at Malaysian jetty, since the recent commissioning of the crude oil tanks in early Mar 2015 (Bursa Malaysia).

17 March 2015: Johor Sultan boosts stake in REDtone to 20% (the third corporate transaction with the family of Vincent Tan), Singapore buyers interest waning and worry about policy issues including cross-border tolls; Iskandar sees RM26.77 billion investments in 2014, some Japanese buyer interest

Johor sultan ups stake in REDtone, The Star/Asia News Network, Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015; PETALING JAYA -  Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has emerged as the single-largest individual shareholder in REDtone International Bhd following a spate of open-market purchases, coupled with the conversion of his warrants and convertible loan stocks into ordinary shares.... The recent activities have boosted his holdings in the company to 20 per cent from 4.8 per cent previously... "We are excited to have Tuanku as one of our major shareholders, especially at a time when we are aiming to further solidify our growth and widen our profits," REDtone chairman Datuk Seri Syed Ali Syed Abbas Al Habshee said in a statement....Meanwhile, the other substantial shareholder of REDtone, Berjaya Corp's chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Robin Tan Yeong Ching, said he was pleased to hear of the stake increase by Sultan Ibrahim...The corporate transaction in REDtone is the third major notable corporate transaction between the Sultan and the Tan family's related companies. Prior to this, StarBiz had reported back in February 2014 that he had paid RM396mil (S$148 million) for a 15 per cent stake in Tan Sri Vincent Tan's privately-owned MOL AccessPortal Sdn Bhd....In December 2013, the Sultan paid RM250mil for 20 per cent in Berjaya Times Square Sdn Bhd, which among others, owns the Berjaya Times Square Mall in Kuala Lumpur....  http://business.asiaone.com/news/johor-sultan-ups-stake-redtone#sthash.GMev8Rrb.dpuf

Interest in Iskandar not waning - Security issues and inconsistency in policies are concerns By: THEAN LEE CHENG Saturday, 7 March 2015; THE number of launches in Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia has dropped of late, with each new quarter seeing fewer launches, according to the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda). ince January this year, there have been very few launches.
....The others in the group were Property Guru country manager Gerard Kho and Gabungan AQRS Bhd senior general manager Jerry Lau. Chur Associates managing partner Chris Tan was the moderator for the discussion entitled “Have Singaporeans Lost Their Appetite for Iskandar Malaysia?”.... Kho, whose company has been conducting quarterly property shows in Singapore over the last two years, said he had noticed a drop in the number of visitors between June 2013 and June 2014. “At our peak, in June 2014, over a two-day weekend, developers who participated in the event sold between RM70mil and RM80mil worth of Malaysian property. Recently, we only had enquiries, not outright purchases. The number of visitors has also dwindled.” Kho said the questions visitors were asking about the Johor market were also different. “They do not ask if Iskandar is a viable proposition. Instead, they want to know the proportion taken up by fellow Singaporeans. They also want to know the sort of policies that will be put in place, and have concerns about the daily toll rates between the two countries. They also voice concerns about policy inconsistency,” said Kho.... The debate on Iskandar is interesting for various reasons. Nowhere in Malaysia have so many high-rise residential projects been approved in such a short period of time. .... According to KGV Lambert International, the local authorities there have approved 80,900 units, although only 8,000 are being constructed today.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/03/07/Interest-in-Iskandar-not-waning/?style=biz

Iskandar Malaysia Secures RM26.77 Billion In Investments; JOHOR BAHARU, March 10 (Bernama) -- Iskandar Malaysia secured RM26.77 billion in new investments last year, bringing the total cumulative committed amount to RM158.3 billion since 2006. In 2013, the new investments were RM25.05 billion.Iskandar Regional Development Authority chief executive, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, said of the total, RM77.07 billion, or 49 per cent, represented investments that had been realised.... Of the total cumulative committed investments, 36 per cent, or RM56.99 billion, came from foreign investors, he said. ... From January until September last year, top foreign investors were Singapore, US, Spain, Japan and China... Ismail said with the launch of the enhanced Iskandar Malaysia Comprehensive Development Plan (CDPii) by the second quarter of this year, investors and stakeholders may also get an insight into the outlook and opportunities in Iskandar Malaysia as it moved into its third phase towards maturity in 2025....  http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v8/bu/newsbusiness.php?id=1115698

Growing Japanese interest seen in Iskandar, says UMLand Tuesday March 10, 2015 06:44 PM GMT+8; NUSAJAYA, March 10 — There has been a steady increase in Japanese interest in Iskandar Malaysia properties due to the conducive environment and proximity to Singapore, a property developer said today. United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Charlie Chia Lui Meng said the group’s projects here, for example, has been receiving a lot of interest from the Japanese that subsequently translated into sales. Citing the landed properties in Sapphire 8, Bandar Seri Alam, he said 75 units had been sold to the Japanese. “From our purchase profile, they (Japanese) are actually young tenants. They are going to bring their family here. Most probably because of better environment and is closer to Singapore,” he said to reporters when commenting on the trend in property purchases in Johor, here today. Another UMLand project that is currently being developed – Medini Lakeside, also saw a 30 per cent take-up by the Japanese out of the total 50 per cent that has been offered for sale. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/growing-japanese-interest-seen-in-iskandar-says-umland#sthash.IwG5ATrH.dpuf

15 March 2015: Platts to introduce Straits benchmark to replace Singapore benchmark as Johor oil storage  terminals take off; Forest City project behind mass fish death farmers say; Singaporeans seek JB nursing homes

Pengerang gets big boost from Platts UPDATED: Mar 9, 2015 06:32pm; Oil pricing agency Platts said it is considering a proposal to reflect deliveries from Pengerang Terminal in southern Johor in its Singapore pricing assessments for middle distillates and gasoline.... This will be in addition to approved loading points outside of Singapore such as Pasir Gudang, Tanjung Langsat, Tanjung Bin and a few floating storage units, Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc, said in a note to its subscribers today.... Platts, which provides Asian benchmark assessments for most oil products traded in the region, is planning to change the loading points in its pricing assessments for fuel oil, gasoil, jet fuel and gasoline from July 1. It will introduce free-on-board (FOB) Straits benchmarks to replace the existing FOB Singapore benchmark, where traders will not have to specify a loading port at the time of placing a bid or offer in its pricing process and could include cargoes to be loaded from approved terminals in either Singapore or south Malaysia.... http://www.therakyatpost.com/business/2015/03/09/pengerang-gets-big-boost-from-platts/#ixzz3USOlQ0u4; note: as Singapore runs low on oil storage terminal expansion space, Johor has come in to office terminals for global companies including Vopak, Trafigura and others. This is akin to what Tanjung Pelepas did to compete with PSA on container traffic, but perhaps the oil storage competitive move may prove to be quite successful. Platts is already shifting from its long standing Singapore benchmark price to a "Straits" price to reflect the growing popularity if oil storage terminals at Tanjung Bin and other sites in Johor.

 RM600 billion Forest City project behind mass fish death, say farmers BY MOHD FARHAN DARWIS Published: 15 March 2015 6:27 AM; This is not the first time the area has been hit by mass fish deaths. In the past, locals have blamed Forest City’s land-reclamation works for the deaths, although the developer, Country Garden Pacific View (CGPV), has denied it. Previous episodes have also been attributed to plankton blooms, brought about by rapid changes in water temperature, poor water circulation, and higher than usual nutrient levels in the water. But the deaths in early March were massive, bringing up sea creatures from the depths such as sea horses and moray eel. A BBC report on March 6 said the scene on the beach looked like a "mass grave" and even after the first batch was cleared up, the next high tide brought in a new wave of dead marine life. Forest City will see four man-made islands built in the waters in Tanjung Kupang between southwest Johor and northwest of Singapore. The mixed-development project will include residential and commercial lots and is expected to take 30 years to complete....Residents near the area said this year’s mass fish deaths had even claimed bigger and more resilient fish, such as groupers and catfish. “From afar, I could see the dead fish begin to float to the surface. At first I only saw small fish, but when I went deeper in the ocean, I spotted big ones such as groupers, barramundis, also floating up. This went on until late in the night,” said marine coordinator Kamaruzzaman Mohd Yunus, 56. Kamaruzzaman, who preferred to be called Man Pendas, said unlike last year, when only farmed fish were affected, this year’s wave of deaths had also claimed the wild fish in the sea. “It could be due to the weather or the land-reclamation works, which have polluted the waters… there is definitely a link there,” he said..... Fishermen around Pendas, which is famous for its crabs, told The Malaysian Insider their haul had also reduced considerably. “At that time, I lost Many fish farmers in Kampung Pendas, Gelang Patah, are abandoning their business. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Seth Akmal, March 15, 2015. RM1,000 in two weeks as I didn’t catch anything,” said Aziz Sulaiman, 67, who is usually able to earn up to RM2,000 a fortnight from the 20 traps he sets up. Another fisherman, who only wants to be known as Jai, said he normally catches 50kg of crabs a day, but his haul was reduced to 1kg to 2kg during that period. “A bucket of crabs is worth only RM15. When the fish died, I was only bringing back one bucket,” he said.... The company that had prepared the DEIA report had, however, apparently raised caution about the dredging and sedimentation caused by the project that would impact on the seabed, according to the New Straits Times, which had obtained a copy of the report. The paper said despite the mitigation measures to cushion the environmental impact, including the use of a “silt curtain” around the reclamation area, experts noted that more damage could be expected. http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/rm600-billion-forest-city-project-behind-mass-fish-death-say-farmers?google_editors_picks=true#sthash.MtVB2gfq.dpuf

Sick, ageing Singaporeans pack JB nursing homes by janice tai AND toh yong chuan - The Straits Times/ANN  Updated: Sunday March 15, 2015 MYT 8:48:31 AM; SINGAPORE: In a quiet private estate within Taman Johor, a 30-minute drive from the Causeway, there is a large two-storey bungalow with high ceilings and a lush garden.... At first glance, it looks like a typical suburban residence. But it is really a nursing home, and Singaporean Andrew Tan is one of its residents.
The house is part of a cluster of 10 bungalows within the estate, making up the City Heart Care Nursing Home. "There are computers for me to check my Facebook page, my own TV to watch the news and I can even go to the coffee shop outside for noodles," said Tan, 43, who is paralysed from the chest down after a car accident 20 years ago. His family, who lives in Singapore, sent him there as his ageing parents no longer have the strength to care for him. After visiting more than 10 nursing homes in Singapore and Malaysia, the former electrical technician, who is single, chose City Heart Care as "it does not feel or smell like a hospital". "I also have my own room, which means I have privacy when my diapers need changing," he said.... He is one of a growing number of infirm Singaporeans who have been admitted to nursing homes in Johor Baru, where prices can be as low as half those in Singapore.... Tan's family pays $900 a month for a two-bedded private room. A similar room in Singapore would cost more than double.... The growing influx is convincing major nursing home players to expand in Johor Baru ........The space crunch in homes in Singapore is another reason more are heading across the Causeway. There are 10,000 beds now and the Health Ministry is pushing to increase this to 17,150 by 2020. Work on seven new nursing homes began this year.Operators said demand for nursing home space here will only grow, given Singapore's ageing population, creating a spill-over effect across the Causeway...........

27 February 2015: Masteel-KUB RM1.23 billion 37-year concession for intercity Iskandar rail system gets support letter; China developers downplay property glut fear saying new demand from China middle class "buy without any questions," villagers affected by Forest City project received RM3000 to RM6200 state agency compensation last year on earnings drop on reclamation works

Note: The Temasek move for geographic diversification up to Penang is raising antenna in KL circles. A specialist says: "Temasek signals a significant geographic diversification from Johor, while big job numbers creation announcements for Johor unfortunately still lag...." 

Steel mill boon for Masteel By: NG BEI SHAN Saturday, 21 February 2015; Masteel has been actively pursuing its proposed RM1.23bil intercity rail transit system in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor, and is waiting for the final nod from the Government before proceeding... In fact, the company has not slowed down in its pursuit of the project and has even identified the train to be used for the rail project.... “Once the economic council approves the project, we are well on our way to roll it out,” Tai enthuses... According to him, the company and its partner, KUB Malaysia Bhd, are discussing a 37-year concession from the Government.... The project will be taken under a 60:40 partnership known as Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd (MCN) between Masteel and KUB.... The business model will be sound with the income streaming in from three areas: rail passengers from the train operation, property development based on the 21 stations, and construction of the track, he explains.... MCN has received a support letter from the Iskandar Regional Development Authority and a review by the Unit Perancang Ekonomi Negeri Johor, as well as the presentation to the Transport Ministry and a meeting held by the Unit Kerjasama Awam Swasta. ... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/02/21/Steel-mill-boon-for-Masteel/?style=biz

Iskandar developers: China buyers will mop up excess unitsby Marissa Lee, The Straits Times; Monday, Feb 23, 2015; BIG-NAME Chinese property players in Iskandar say fears of a property glut in the development zone may be overblown. These developers argue that they bring with them fresh demand for the burgeoning number of new Iskandar homes from China's rising middle class. Said Country Garden Holdings sales and marketing general manager Nicholas Hum, referring to the company's projects: "We have one million owners in China, and it's like a fan club. Wherever we go, there are just buyers that buy without any questions." The Hong Kong-listed company has drawn some flak over its vast Forest City island project, being built on reclaimed land near the Second Link off Tuas.....  http://business.asiaone.com/property/news/iskandar-developers-china-buyers-will-mop-excess-units#sthash.9IBgQASM.dpuf

Housing glut worries over Johor's mega projects by Reme Ahmad and Rennie Whang, The Straits Times, Monday, Feb 23, 2015; MALAYSIA'S biggest reclamation project is raising concerns over a potential oversupply of homes in Johor, marine environmental damage in the Strait of Johor and the effect it may have on the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen. At Kampung Pok, tucked under the Second Link that connects Johor to Singapore, some residents are making known what they think of Chinese developer Country Garden's ambitious plan to raise four islands that total nearly three times the size of Sentosa at their doorstep. The massive site will house thousands of luxury homes, if artists' impressions provided by the developer are any indication. "Villagers protest that the route to Forest City passes through our area," reads a banner in Malay hung along the only road in the area.... The villages are bordered by mangrove swamps and the Strait of Johor on one side and hectares of mostly empty land in Nusajaya on the other. The edge of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia's biggest container port, is just 1km away. "Sure, there are concerns about the environment and the future, but things have cooled down as the developer has talked to us," said Mr Abu Bakar. Mr Abdul Malik Sabtu, head of the fishing community in southern Johor, said about 245 full-time fishermen received between RM3,000 (S$1,120) and RM6,200 last year through a government agency to compensate them for a drop in their earnings after reclamation work began last year....  "With all the new projects, I don't think it will be as easy to get tenants as before," said a Singaporean resident of Causeway View, an estate just 600m from the Causeway. He had previously bought a condominium unit in Johor for RM250,000 and rented it out, but he has since sold it. Recent changes to the vehicle entry permit, toll charges and the minimum property purchase price of RM1 million for foreigners are also a put-off, he added....
Note: screenshot of article with focus on graphic on Johor projects facing Singapore
source: http://business.asiaone.com/property/news/housing-glut-worries-over-johors-mega-projects#sthash.izY8Qs6q.dpuf

10 February 2015: Hershey Senai plant due to open soon? 400 job openings

Hershey Company investment in Iskandar Malaysia to garner more job opportunities
 By Chuah Bee Kim - 8 February 2015 @ 5:42 PM; State Tourism, Trade and Consumerism Committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said the move of the Hershey Company, which has invested in a RM816 million confectionary manufacturing plant at the Senai Free Trade Zone and Greenland Malaysia to develop the first coastal luxurious condominium project sprawling close to seven hectares in Iskandar Malaysia with an expected gross development value of RM2.8 billion.....
Hershey names manager for new Johor plant Published: 24 February 2014 3:30 PM Subas joined Hershey in 2011 and has 20 years of manufacturing leadership experience.... During the remainder of 2014, Hershey will be hiring nearly 100 people to fill a range of key positions that are critical to the plant’s operations, including the plant senior management team, engineers, maintenance technicians and skilled specialists. Hiring will continue in 2015, when approximately 300 manufacturing roles become available....Hershey is working with Malaysian engineering firm MEI Project Engineers Sdn Bhd, and the team expects the construction project will be completed in early 2015 - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/business/article/hershey-names-manager-for-new-johor-plant#sthash.RCOpkjic.dpuf
http://www.hersheymalaysia.com/jobs/ - JOB OPENINGS - We're excited to announce that we have started hiring for more than 400 positions in 2014 and 2015.  The positions below represent some key roles that are open or will be opening in the next 12 months.
Hershey Building State-of-the-Art Confectionery Plant in Malaysia to Serve Asia Region - New Facility Will Support Growing Consumer Demand Across the Region; $250 million USD (RM816 million) plant is single-largest investment in Asia in company history... The new plant will include innovations in automated candy-making technology, including proprietary equipment and systems developed to Hershey’s specifications.... The plant’s capabilities will include high-speed wrapping machines featuring proprietary, specially engineered wrapping technologies.... The Malaysia plant investment continues Hershey’s ongoing modernization and expansion of its global supply chain to position the company for its next 100 years of growth. This includes the company’s “Project Next Century,” a $300 million investment in its manufacturing and logistics, which culminated with the opening of the world’s most technologically advanced chocolate making facility in the company’s hometown of Hershey, Pa.... After Hershey completes the building structure in early 2015, the Malaysia plant will be one of the largest facilities in the company’s global manufacturing network with 700,000 total square feet. The company has nine plants in the United States as well as facilities in Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil and China. The Malaysia plant will also have the capability to produce the broadest array of finished products of any Hershey factory outside of the United States and Mexico, including millions of Hershey’s Kisses each day.... The plant will produce four of Hershey’s five global brands, which include: Hershey’s Kisses, Ice Breakers, Reese’s and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars. Hershey is expanding its global distribution of these brands as part of the company’s ambitious global growth vision to achieve $10 billion in annual revenue by 2017.... The company plans to hire locally to staff hundreds of plant positions as well as management roles.. With revenues of more than $6.6 billion USD, Hershey offers confectionery products under more than 80 brand names... HERSHEY, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 3, 2013-- The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) today announced it will build a new confectionery manufacturing plant in Johor, Malaysia, to meet the growing consumer demand for its products in its fastest-growing region.....  http://www.thehersheycompany.com/newsroom/news-release.aspx?id=1861546

8 February 2015: Iskandar commitment on sustainable development - emissions reduction

Iskandar Malaysia declared as RCE by Bernama | Updated: February 08, 2015 JOHOR BAHARU: Iskandar Malaysia has been declared as the Regional Centre of Expertise for Sustainable Development (RCE).... State Health and Environment Committee chairman, Datuk Ayub Rahmat, said Iskandar RCE is a platform to bring together individuals and organisations to promote sustainable development... "This recognition is a step towards ensuring that Iskandar Malaysia achieve 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emission by 2025" ....

30 January 2015: PAS MP asks why Perkasa silent on Iskandar Malaysia sold to Singapore, Taiwan, HK nationals; Temasek (a big investor in Iskandar) also goes big time to Penang with RM11 billion GDV project for 25k-30k jobs; rapid growth at Iskandar Malaysia contributed to property price rises with housing affordability worsening (Sabah, Penang and KL worst)

Question: Why not these investments and jobs for Johor, rather than for Penang? Iskandar Malaysia's been terribly good at property projects, but specialists say that the long term job creation investments need a boost?

Why stay silent on Johor developments? PAS MP asks Perkasa By Zurairi AR  Published: January 29, 2015 01:15 PMUPDATED: January 29, 2015 01:49 pm; Khalid urged Selangor’s religious authorities to probe the group for being extremists and deviants. — File picKhalid urged Selangor’s religious authorities to probe the group for being extremists and deviants. — File picSHAH ALAM, Jan 29 — PAS MP Khalid Abdul Samad questioned today Malay rights group Perkasa’s silence over various development projects affecting the Malays in Johor after the recent flare-up against the Datum Jelatek project in Keramat.... The Shah Alam MP also urged Selangor’s religious authorities to probe the group for being “extremists and deviants”, claiming their actions have painted a negative image of Islam....  “Why are they silent when there are worse actions being done in BN states?
“Iskandar Malaysia has been completed and sold out to Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong nationals,” Khalid told reporters here.... "Why are they quiet? Is there no Perkasa in Johor?”... Khalid also listed down the Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development project in Pengerang and the 2,000-hectare man-made island “Forest City” as other developments which he pointed out have allegedly displaced many Malay villagers.....  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/why-stay-silent-on-johor-developments-pas-mp-ask-perkasa#sthash.gb2XkdrB.dpuf

Penang sees RM5bil investments from 4 China MNCs listed in US By: DAVID TAN
Thursday, 29 January 2015; GEORGE TOWN: Penang will see some RM5bil worth of investments coming into the state in 2015 from four multinational corporations (MNCs) involved in electronic-based manufacturing activities.... investPenang director Datuk Lee Kah Choon said these were only initial investments that would materialise over the next 12 months.... Declining to name the companies, Lee said these could be China companies but public-listed in the United States..... Lee said the Penang International Technology Park and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) projects in Batu Kawan and Bayan Baru respectively, would be jointly developed with Temasek Holdings and Economic Development Innovations Singapore and due for completion in five to 10 years...... “The projects has a gross development value of RM11.3bil and will generate 25,000 to 30,000 jobs in the future,” Lee said..... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/29/Penang-sees-RM5bil-initial-investments-investments-this-year-It-expects-forays-from-four-MNCs-from-C/?style=biz

Housing affordability worsens with Sabah top of list, Penang, KL Thursday, 29 January 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Housing affordability, which is based on the ratio of average terraced house price to average household income, has worsened over the past five years, according to Rahim & Co, Chartered Surveyors Sdn Bhd.... In its survey of the Malaysian property market 2014/2015, the ratio increased from 3.4 in 2009 to 3.6 in 2012 and 2014.... “This essentially means that an average terraced house would cost an average household or family in Malaysia, 3.6 times its annual gross income.... “The least affordable terraced house in Malaysia in 2014 was recorded for Sabah (6.2 times), Penang state (5.9 times) and Kuala Lumpur (5.6 times). Sarawak was fourth with a ratio of 4.4 times,” the survey showed.... Rahim & Co, which is one of the largest real estate consultancy companies in Malaysia, also said in its outlook that transaction activities in the residential sector after expected to soften with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015.
To recap, Rahim & Co said that over the past four year, property prices were fuelled by the nation’s development plans, investment concentration and also the rapid growth in Iskandar Malaysia.
“The cautious market sentiment echoes the state of property market in reaching its plateau and reconciliation period is expected in the near future,” it said...... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/29/Housing-affordability-worsens-with-Sabah-top-of-list/?style=biz

18 January 2015: Kluang gets more development

Majupadu previews Newpark in Kluang 16 Jan 2015; KLUANG: Majupadu Development Sdn Bhd, a Kluang-based property developer, has announced the development of Newpark, the first eco-friendly real estate development in central Johor. “Newpark represents an opportunity to upgrade Kluang. Newpark will be the largest master-planned commercial project in Kluang,” said Majupadu founder and managing director Tey Ah Kau in a press release. “The location is very strategic, surrounded by large, mature housing estates, the Federal Building, the future Inland Revenue Board building and Intan (Institute Tadbiran Awam Negara). Access is just 10 minutes ... http://www.theedgemarkets.com/my/article/majupadu-previews-newpark-kluang

15 January 2015: Forest City gets go ahead for 1,386ha after apparent policy flip-flop

In about-turn, KL approves bigger area for Forest City project Published: 4:00 AM, January 15, 2015 by THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER; KUALA LUMPUR — In an apparent reversal of its earlier reported stance, Malaysia’s Department of Environment (DOE) has greenlighted the RM600 billion (S$228 billion) Forest City mixed-development project in Johor.... The decision comes barely a week after reports in Malaysia quoted the DOE as saying only a fraction of the project — 405ha, instead of the developer’s planned 1,386ha — would be given the go-ahead. Yesterday, however, the developer said approval had been given for 1,386ha — only a shade smaller than the original plan of 1,623ha.
The project, now divided into four reclaimed islands, instead of one huge island nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio as originally planned, will have a total size of 1,386ha — smaller than the 1,623ha proposed by the firm.... CGPV is a 66-34 per cent joint venture between China’s Country Garden Holdings and Esplanade Danga 88, whose main shareholder is the Sultan of Johor. Johor state company Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) is also a partner... Fishermen and fish-farm operators have blamed land reclamation work for mass fish deaths in the area, but the developer has denied this.... The firm that prepared the DEIA report, however, had apparently raised caution about dredging and sedimentation caused by the project that would affect the seabed, said the New Straits Times, which had obtained a copy of the report and reported on it last month..... http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/about-turn-kl-approves-bigger-area-forest-city-project?page=1

13 January 2015: Residents relocated for PETRONAS RAPID project face swampy problems

Tilted houses, swamp land haunt Pengerang folk By Lee Long Hui 9:54AM Dec 31, 2014
SPECIAL REPORT Fear, worry and anxiety are the most common words used by the people of Pengerang in Johor to describe their state of life after being relocated for the RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project of the national oil and gas company Petronas.... The residents simply did not expect to face problems such as land subsidence and swampy soil in the area they were relocated to - Taman Bayu Damai - thereby bringing never-ending inconveniences upon them.... http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/284966

12 January 2015: Forest City denies limit to under 1,000 acres, Johor warns on middlemen-civil servants linkages, view on Malaysia property consolidation in 2015

Developer denies DOE limit on controversial Johor Straits housing project by The Malaysian Insider  - ‎Jan 5, 2015‎; The developer of the controversial Forest City in the Johor Straits has denied that the size of its housing project has been limited to less than 1,000 acres, refuting a report by The Malaysian Insider on the matter. Country Garden Pacific (CGP) View ...

Malaysia sets new development limits on Johor's Forest City project Published on Jan 5, 2015 1:42 PM; JOHOR BARU - China developer Country Gardens Holdings can only develop less than a quarter of its planned Forest City project in Johor Strait, under new limits set by Malaysia's Department of Environment.... The company was informed verbally about the new limits (405ha), Malaysian Insider has reported, after complaints from locals and the Singapore government over reclamation works in the narrow waterway between Malaysian and the city state..... http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/malaysia-sets-new-development-limits-johors-forest-city-project-2015#sthash.zBL9ykgS.dpuf

Don't collude with middlemen, Johor civil servants warned by The Star Online  - ‎Jan 1, 2015‎ 
Ismail hoped that Johor civil servants would provide efficient service and make Johor one of the most developed states in the country.... Ismail also called on local council presidents to check on their subordinates as the state government had also received reports of middlemen operating at local councils.... Ismail hoped that Johor civil servants would provide efficient service and make Johor one of the most developed states in the country. “We have the Iskandar Malaysia economic growth corridor and the multi­-billion ringgit oil and gas hub in Pengerang in Kota Tinggi. The two projects will be the main drivers of Johor’s growth in years to come,” added Ismail.... He said that with more domestic and foreign investors showing strong interest in the two projects, civil servants had to improve on their delivery system.... He reiterated that the state government had never appointed individuals or companies to represent agencies and departments offering services on­ behalf of the state government.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/02/Dont-collude-with-middlemen-Johor-civil-servants-warned/

Year of consolidation for property sector by The Star Online  - ‎Jan 2, 2015‎; THE property sector is expected to slow down further this year following cooling measures and tougher lending conditions implemented in 2014. Although it has often been said that the Johor market is different from the rest of the country, due to the economic growth area of Iskandar Malaysia and the leverage provided by its proximity to Singapore, the feel-good factor which spurred sales and ...However, the rate of the slowdown may be cushioned with the continuous fall in the price of oil....  The changing dynamics of lower oil prices on the economy are still unravelling. But economists are not looking at any rate hikes for Malaysia in the near term, unless there are changes in the external sector, and this is something which will work well for the property sector.... While oil price is a factor, CIMB said the goods and services tax (GST) is another. In a report entitled “Property Development and Investment: Post GST Blues?”, CIMB Research head Terence Wong foresees a pick-up in buying momentum in the first half of 2015....

23 December 2014: Forest City land reclamation worries a possible negative on investor confidence? Cross border car fees tit-for-tat with Malaysia VEP to start mid-2015? EcoWorld in Iskandar.

Will Forest City issue affect ties with Singapore?  By SIM BAK HENG - 23 December 2014 @ 8:13 AM; JOHOR BARU: JOHOR lawmakers fear that Malaysia and Singapore may be embroiled in a diplomatic row once the detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) report of the controversial Forest City project is approved.... They are worried about the possibility of retribution from Singapore, citing the republic’s reclamation works in Pulau Tekong and Tuas more than 10 years ago as an example... Malaysia was prompted to file a case with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) following Singapore’s actions then.. A state assemblyman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this could become a reality should the Department of Environment (DOE) approve the DEIA report.... “The Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on Environment was formed following the ITLOS decision on Pulau Tekong in 2004.... “I hope both governments can work together to resolve the Forest City reclamation issue.... “If it is brought to the ITLOS for arbitration, it can affect investors’ confidence in Johor and Iskandar Malaysia.” .... http://www.nst.com.my/node/65301

‘Resolve VEP fee issue amicably’   23 December 2014 @ 8:13 AM; JOHOR BARU: Malaysia and Singapore have been urged to discuss issues related to toll fees and the imposition of the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee for the good of Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia region.... Pulai member of parliament Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said it was important for both sides to look at the bigger picture and take into consideration the total impact that any increase by Singapore would have on Iskandar Malaysia.... “It is time for both governments to resolve this issue and work together for the long-term benefits,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.... Nur Jazlan, who is also Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, was responding to yesterday’s Singapore media report, which said its Ministry of Transport would be studying Malaysia’s move to impose a VEP fee of RM20 (S$7.55) for foreign vehicles from Singapore starting middle of next year. http://www.nst.com.my/node/65300

Eco World Devt targets RM7b sales Wednesday, 10 December 2014; KUALA LUMPUR: Eco World Development Group Bhd posted earnings of RM7.18mil in the 13 months ended Oct 31, 2014 as the company remained upbeat about its prospects with four new projects.... Announcing its results on Wednesday, the property development company targets to achieve RM7bil sales over FY2015 & FY2016 with the current and new projects.... “For the upcoming financial year, the Group intends to launch four new projects – these are Eco Sanctuary in Shah Alam, Eco Terraces in Penang, Eco Tropics and Eco Business Park III in Iskandar Malaysia. Along with its existing projects in the Klang Valley and Iskandar Malaysia, the group targets to achieve RM7bil sales over FY2015 & FY2016,” it said.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/12/10/Eco-World-Devt-targets-RM7b-sales/?style=biz

22 December 2014: 2014 saw halving of property transactions; Johor freezes serviced apartments (they are mostly actually owner-occupied) on glut fear with 3.3x more units than needed? Johor to spur SMEs

Iskandar’s plunging fortunes; 8:27AM Dec 17, 2014 By Khairul Khalid; KINIBIZ This has been a year to forget for the Iskandar economic region in Johor. After much lauded growth in the last five years, led by a robust property market, cracks began to show in Iskandar this year. Bullishness about Iskandar’s property market has been replaced with a more cautious, sometimes even bleaker outlook.
 What is causing this dwindling optimism about Iskandar? For a start, the numbers don’t lie.
“In comparison to the first half of 2013, there was a drop of about 48 percent in terms of total transactions in the same period this year,” said V Sivadas, executive director of PA International Property Consultants based in Johor Baru (JB).  That is an alarming drop in sales by any standards. The fact that it is happening just when Iskandar seems to have picked up momentum in the last few years has rattled the market. According to Sivadas, this decline is across all sectors of the property market in Iskandar. “Our records indicate 5,419 total transactions in the first half of this year at a value of about RM3.7 billion. In comparison with the first half of 2013, there was a drop of about 48 percent in terms of total transactions and about 37 percent drop in terms of total value of transactions in the first half of 2014,” said Sivadas, who based his analysis on available records of properties sales within Iskandar Malaysia. http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/283689

Freeze on serviced apartments in Johor Updated: Sunday December 14, 2014 MYT 7:46:05 AM JOHOR BARU: The state has rejected new applications to build serviced apartments; Mentri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin said this was to ensure that the property market would not be flooded by serviced apartments, especially in Iskandar Malaysia. “All new applications have been frozen,” he said.  “Those who have received their approval can continue with their projects,” he said at the ground-­breaking ceremony of affordable homes by state-linked PIJ Holdings Sdn Bhd at Jalan Datin Halimah here yesterday. Mohamed Khaled said construction of serviced apartments was not subjected to housing development conditions such as the providing of basic amenities such as schools, multi-purpose halls and places of worship..... Nowadays, such apartments were no longer rented out but owner-occupied. “Hence, developers should provide these amenities to buyers,” said Mohamed Khaled.....  It was reported that about 86,000 units of serviced apartments had been approved for the country’s first economic growth corridor until 2025. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/12/14/Freeze-on-serviced-apartments-New-applications-rejected-to-protect-property-market-says-Johor-MB/

Fear of service apartment glut by New Straits Times Online  - ‎Dec 10, 2014‎ 
A TOTAL of 86,000 units of service apartments which have been approved for construction in Johor, especially in the Iskandar Malaysia, is excessive, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin... He said, based on the Iskandar Regional Comprehensive Development Plan 2025, there would only be demand for 26,000 service apartments in the state until 2025.... http://www.nst.com.my/node/61272

Efforts for Johor SMEs to tap into Iskandar and Pengerang projects Monday, 22 December 2014
PUTRAJAYA: The Johor Entrepreneurial Development Centre (EDC) is spearheading efforts to spur the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by exploiting the spillover of the Iskandar and Pengerang development.... Johor Education, Information Entrepreneurial Development and Cooperative Committee chairman Md Jais Sarday said EDC would formulate a five-year strategic plan to assist SMEs in seizing opportunities.... “The plan is expected to be unveiled under the Johor Strategic Growth Plan in the first quarter of next year,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a workshop organised by EDC and SME Corp Malaysia.... Jais said although Johor had the third biggest number of SME companies after Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, their contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) was merely 8.4% compared with that of Selangor (28.3%) and Kuala Lumpur (29.1%). He attributed the low percentage to Johor SMEs’ concentration in the services and agriculture sectors, apart from financing constraints.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/12/22/Efforts-for-Johor-SME-to-tap-into-Iskandar-and-Pengerang-projects/?style=biz

17 December 2014: Shanghai's Greenland plans 52ha Iskandar Malaysia project

Greenland 21 for Iskandar Malaysia?  By SIM BAK HENG - 16 December 2014 @ 12:14 AM;
SHANGHAI-based property giant Greenland Holdings Group is expected to replicate the concept of its flagship integrated development project called Greenland 21 at Iskandar Malaysia.... The Fortune 500 company is finalising the acquisition of a 52ha plot in Permas Jaya, Johor Baru, for the project. This waterfront project marks Greenland’s second venture in Iskandar Malaysia, after its low-density Jade Palace condominium development located at Danga Bay on the western side of the causeway..... http://www.nst.com.my/node/62817

12 December 2014: Indonesia investors, Tanjung Langsat as largest private jetty operator

Will look for more info to update this.

Tanjung Langsat Port sees double digit growth in 2014 Thursday, 06 March 2014 | 00:00 Tanjung Langsat Port sees double digit growth in 2014; "After registering a healthy 47.7% growth of its total cargo throughput in 2013, Tanjung Langsat Port (TLP) in Johor is poised to see double digit growth in 2014.... “2013 was a milestone year for us; the 11.60 million metric tonnes in total throughput achieved last year elevated the port to the country’s largest “private jetty” operator,” said Johari Shukri Jamil, TLP Chief Executive Officer.... The two additional berths, which bring total liquid berths at TLP to seven, will provide an edge to current investors such as Dialog, MISC and PUMA that jointly operate Langsat Terminal One (LGT1) and Langsat Terminal Two (LGT2)..... TLP has a combined capacity of about 770,000 cubic meters for oil storage of which 100,000 cubic meters come from the port operator’s tank terminal.  LGT1 provides 476,000 cubic meters storage facilities for petroleum and naphtha while LGT 2 facilitates 171,000 cubic meters for gasoline. The remaining 20,800 cubic meters of edible oil is from Langsat Bulkers Sdn Bhd (LBSB), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Felda Johor Bulkers Sdn Bhd. TLP continues to receive strong interests from independent oil storage operators and oil traders to set up their operations in the port.....the new port users of Malaysia’s largest “private jetty” will include Turkey’s Evyap Inc, one of the world’s leading soap and personal care products manufacturers; Singapore’s KTL Offshore Pte Ltd which operates one of the world’s largest rigging facilities; and Musim Mastika, a subsidiary of Musim Mas Group, one of the largest edible oil producers from Indonesia...." http://www.bunkerportsnews.com/News.aspx?ElementId=c4f64f27-bf78-499c-be1c-fb1b0732e832

Projects In Iskandar Malaysia Open Up New Opportunities For Indonesian Investors BY BERNAMA  /  News  /  Source  /  Top Stories March 19, 2013 by BERNAMA Subeditor; "To date, Indonesian investors in Iskandar Malaysia included Sinas Mas, which invests in leisure and tourism development in Senai; Musim Mastika in the production of palm oil industrial cluster in Tanjung Langsat; Mulford Plastics in plastic moulding manufacturing in Pasir Gudang; and Delphi Cocoa that manufactures cocoa-based food products in Pasir Gudang....Ismail said the total investments by Indonesian companies in Iskandar Malaysia now stood at less than RM1 billion...."

22 November 2014: Johor nuclear plants & Malay Reserve land questions, Iskandar plan 2014-2025, 25 hospitals for Iskandar, film production hopes, Economist says "early optimism is fading"

DAP rep claims two nuclear plants being planned for Johor;  Updated: Wednesday November 19, 2014 MYT 7:38:35 AM; AN Opposition assemblyman has claimed that two nuclear plants will be built by the Federal Government in Johor within the next eight years... Tan Chen Choon (DAP-Jementah) alleged that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mah Siew Keong had made a statement to that effect. He claimed that Mah had stated that the Federal Government was in the final process of drafting the Control of Atomic Energy to enable the project to get off the ground.
“The nuclear power plant costing RM21.3bil was announced by the Federal Govern-ment in June, 2010, under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) where seven locations were identified in several states including Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, and two in Johor,” he said when debating the state Budget at the state assembly yesterday.... Earlier, Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin had quashed claims that the size of Malay Reserve Land in the state had shrunk, particularly in areas where developments are taking place in Iskandar Malaysia. He said the claims were untrue as such lands are protected under the Malay Reserve Enactment 1936 and Federal Constitution. He said under such laws if the land owners wanted to cancel its status with an excuse for development, the person must replace it with another plot of land with same value or size. He said based on the current data, Malay Reserve Land had increased from 87,563.6ha in 1957 to 432,157ha in September this year. “This shows that there is an increase in the size of Malay Reserve Land to 279,744ha or 18.2% since our country gained independence 57 years ago. In Johor Baru and Kulaijaya alone, which is under the Iskandar Malaysia area, lands gazetted as Malay Reserve have also increased to 23,517.37ha this year from a mere 1,921.4ha in 1957,” he said.... Mohamed Khaled said under the Enactment, the state government agreed to enforce a ruling to seize any Malay Reserve Land that had changed ownership to non-Malays.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/19/DAP-rep-claims-two-nuclear-plants-being-planned-for-Johor/

Comprehensive Development Plan for Iskandar Malaysia approved; 2014-11-07 11:28; KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 (Bernama) -– Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has announced the approval of the 2014-2025 Comprehensive Development Plan for Iskandar Malaysia. Najib, who is also finance minister, said the announcement was made at the 16th Iskandar Regional Development Authority Advisory Council Meeting today. "Since January 2014, it is encouraging to note that Iskandar Malaysia has successfully attracted new investments worth RM24.97 billion. "In committed investments alone, Iskandar Malaysia has secured RM156.51 billion since 2006, of which 51 per cent or RM79.17 billion has been realised to date," he said in his latest Facebook entry tonight.... http://www.mysinchew.com/node/103131?tid=4

Iskandar Malaysia to have at least 25 hospitals Updated: Sunday November 16, 2014 MYT 10:03:15 AM; NUSAJAYA: More foreigners, especially from Singapore, are expected to come to Iskandar Malaysia to seek medical treatment with the setting-up of at least 25 hospitals, including private specialists centres by 2016. One of the health industry members involved – IHH Healthcare Bhd – has invested over RM400mil for the first phase of its Gleneagles Medini Hospital here.  Its CEO and managing director Dr Tan See Leng said that the 300-bed hospital, which is set to open its doors to the public by June next year, would have an initial capacity of 148 beds “With the setting up of the hospital right at the heart of the Iskandar region here, we hope to attract foreigners, especially Singaporeans to seek medical treatment at our hospital. “The rates will be relatively cheaper for Singaporeans to get medical treatment in Johor Baru compared to what they will be paying in the republic,” he said... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/16/Iskandar-Malaysia-to-have-at-least-25-hospitals/

Pinewood Iskandar eyes foreign investments in film production by kathleen ann kili at the johor state assembly in nusajaya; Updated: Monday November 17, 2014 MYT 8:53:52 AM; THE creative industry in the state is expected to boom with Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios (PIMS) targeting to attract RM1.9bil in foreign production investments and create some 11,300 freelance jobs until 2020. “Investors can look into areas such as pre-production, production, post-production, distribution and marketing, logistics, food, equipment rental, construction materials, hospitality and other services,” said Tourism, Trade and Consumerism Committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong. In efforts to further enhance the industry, Tee said a state-level organisation – Filem Johor – had been set up to promote the state as an international film destination. “Filem Johor is dedicated to managing and facilitating enquiries and preparations needed to speed up film production processes. “Besides that, we also have MaGIC-X, which is a ‘gamification’ centre to support individuals or SMEs to market their commercial products,” he added.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/17/Studio-sets-RM19bil-target/

Johor to redevelop idle, underutilised govt land, buildings by Bernama; Posted on 4 November 2014 - 05:36am; JOHOR BARU: The Johor state government plans to rejuvenate and redevelop idle and underutilised government land and buildings through public-private partnership (PPP) model as part of the Johor Baru transformation programme. Mohamed Khaled, who is also co-chairman of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), said there was also an increasing need for social-focused PPPs in the areas of affordable housing, education, healthcare, youth development and other public facilities.... The PPP projects that are currently in the pipeline for Iskandar Malaysia include the much-needed Bus Rapid Transit project which would help boost the public transportation system within Iskandar Malaysia," he said. The PPP conference 2014, which is jointly organised by IRDA and Johor Economic Planning Unit, attracted over 300 participants from both the public and private sectors... http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1216493

Malaysia and Singapore: Milking it - Old enmities plague a crucial partnership; Oct 25th 2014  | JOHOR BAHRU; The Iskandar plan started brightly, with some $40 billion of private money, according to local bigwigs. Legoland Malaysia, which opened in 2012, anchors a busy entertainment district; an outpost of Marlborough College, a posh British school, has helped launch a much-vaunted educational cluster. Though retaining the some of the air of a frontier town, Johor Bahru is scrubbing up.... Yet early optimism is fading. Housebuilding appears to have raced ahead of job creation, and a housing glut looms. Not all Johoreans are happy with the suspension of corporate-ownership rules that elsewhere favour the ethnic-Malay majority. A battering in last year’s general election has made it harder for the Barisan Nasional, Malaysia’s ruling coalition, to ignore their concerns. Singapore hints that foot-dragging is slowing down plans for a cross-strait rail link...

22 October 2014: Who benefits?

About two weeks ago, I spoke to a friend who keeps an eye on some Iskandar property prices - notably the high-end (high rise integrated developments) Puteri Harbour area. In recent years, prices went from some RM700 psf to RM1400-1600 psf. However, a recent launch offered some investors early access to larger units at some RM900+ psf. Prices making a big up and down?


After 8 years, who does Iskandar Malaysia really benefit? BY SHERIDAN MAHAVERA Published: 21 October 2014; "It was a mega-corridor meant to rejuvenate the state capital, Johor Baru, but eight years after it was launched, Iskandar Malaysia has come up short on its promise to give ordinary residents in southern Johor better jobs and better lives. This was the sentiment gleaned from a straw poll by The Malaysian Insider among two groups of people, ordinary residents and business owners in four locations in southern Johor –  Masai, Bandar Baru Uda, Bukit Indah and Kampung Melayu Majidi.... More than half of the 18 interviewees said that their lives had not changed for the better, even as Iskandar Malaysia seeks to transform southern Johor's physical and economic landscape.
About two-thirds of the businesses surveyed said that they had not felt any spillover effects, in terms of money-making opportunities or profits.... This is after the initiative has brought in RM156.35 billion in investments since 2006 according to an October 18 report by state news agency Bernama. Yet, many respondents remain optimistic about Iskandar Malaysia, with a majority in both groups saying the initiative was, on the whole, good for southern Johor.... But this optimism was heavily tempered with intense frustration at the rise in the cost of living and the price of houses. There is also a growing sense among residents that the rich and connected would get the lion’s share of benefits from Iskandar Malaysia while everyone else would get the table scraps......" http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/after-8-years-who-does-iskandar-malaysia-really-benefit#sthash.kB4VZR7x.dpuf

Iskandar Malaysia to receive another ‘big’ investment Published: 18 October 2014; "Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said Iskandar Malaysia is expected to receive another 'big' investment, which will continue to strengthen the region's image as an attractive investment destination in the country. Mohamed Khaled however declined to comment further on the investment. "We have to wait for the announcement of the big investment as it is the federal government's project. I expect the announcement will be made soon," he told reporters today..... He said with the inflows of local and foreign investment, Iskandar Malaysia is expected to create 1.5 million high-income jobs in 2025...."  http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/business/article/iskandar-malaysia-to-receive-another-big-investment#sthash.fUdA3Tu5.dpuf

Iskandar secured RM10b investments in third quarter, October 16, 2014; JOHOR BAHARU — Iskandar Malaysia has secured investments worth RM10 billion in the third quarter of this year, bringing the total cumulative committed investments since its inception in 2006 until Sept 30 this year to RM156.35 billion. Of the total cumulative committed investments, RM77.17 billion or 49 per cent represents investments that have been realised.... IRDA chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the creative sector continued to grow in the third quarter with an investment from Astro Production Sdn Bhd (APSB) through Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios (PIMS)..."  http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/iskandar-secured-rm10b-investments-in-third-quarter#sthash.DmWPMjTM.dpuf

Slowdown looming for Iskandar Malaysia by The Sun Daily  - ‎Oct 6, 2014‎; PETALING JAYA: "The property prices in Iskandar Malaysia (IM) are expected to stay weak and flat over the medium term as there will be more incoming supply ahead, whereas the Klang Valley's property market appears to be more sustainable, according to ...Malaysian developers are scaling back and slowing down on their new launches in IM hotspots like Danga Bay and Nusajaya-Medini, and shifting their focus to landed and industrial properties due to rising competition in the high-rise integrated property segment.
"We remain cautious about the increasingly crowded development space in IM. Oversupply of apartments/retail spaces in hotspots such as the Nusajaya-Medini and Danga Bay areas may cause a decline in property values over the medium term....The focus is now more on whether the demand for high-rise apartments and retail space can keep pace with the incoming supply (serviced apartments, hotels, offices and retail spaces) from aggressive launches by the Chinese developers over the past year (citing Maybank Kim Eng Research analyst Wong Wei Sum in a report last Friday)..." http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1190470

25 September 2014: UEM Sunrise seeks to diversify earnings base from Iskandar, notes Selangor foreign purchase clampdown

UEM Sunrise to rely less on projects in Iskandar Malaysia Posted on 25 September 2014 - 05:38am  by Eva Yeong; "KUALA LUMPUR: UEM Sunrise Bhd plans to restrategise in terms of product offering and location, in order to reduce dependency on its projects in Iskandar Malaysia and spread out risks, said its managing director and CEO Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib. "Our strategy is to diversify a bit. One of the concerns that people have about UEM Sunrise is the high dependency on our developments in Iskandar Malaysia. If you look at our landbank, perhaps just a bit more than 60% is actually in Iskandar," he told reporters at a briefing yesterday. "If there is an opportunity for us to diversify away, we can do some form of land swap or monetise some of this land that we have in Iskandar for an acquisition of land somewhere else in Malaysia or abroad, why not? It's something that we are willing to consider," Anwar said, adding that it is looking for opportunities in land banking both locally and abroad.... Meanwhile, the group is maintaining its RM2 billion sales target, despite having only achieved about RM560 million in sales as of end of August.... Izzaddin said 60% of this year's sales will come from projects in Nusajaya, 25% from Australia and the balance from projects in the Klang Valley.... On a separate issue, Anwar said the new minimum prices for foreign purchases in Selangor has created uncertainty within the market but the group is able to mitigate the risk as it has projects in other states as well as abroad. The Selangor state government, which has divided the state into several zones, has increased the minimum price for foreign purchases to RM2 million for certain zones, effective Sept 1...." http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1179719

22 September 2014: Forest City - company claims support while villagers vent their anger

Johor villagers vent anger at mega reclamation project BY SHERIDAN MAHAVERA Published: 21 September 2014 - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/johore-villagers-vent-anger-at-mega-reclamation-project#sthash.4wUzRKOa.dpuf; "Irate villagers of Tanjung Kupang in Johor vented their anger at the developers of the biggest land reclamation project in the state, arguing during a public dialogue today that it will lead to the loss of their land and livelihood. About 200 residents from about a dozen villages around Tanjung Kupang also accused the developer, Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGP), of bulldozing the project through their area without their knowledge even though it could have a huge impact on their lives... The Forest City project will see four man-made islands being built in the waters in Tanjung Kupang between south-west Johor and north-west of Singapore. It was reported that the islands will have both residential and commercial lots and the project is expected to make a profit of nearly RM290 billion over the next 30 years for CGP. The Gross Development Value (GDV) will come up to RM600 billion... CGP is a 66-34% joint-venture between China’s Country Garden Holdings Ltd and Esplanade Danga 88 Sdn Bhd, whose main shareholder is the Sultan of Johor. Johor state company Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) is also a partner in the project..... Explanations from the developer’s consultant that they had polled the opinions of 10% of the village’s population were disputed by the audience and the hall exploded in a hail of boos and shouts of “who did you talk to?” Forest City project director Datuk Zamani Kasim then claimed that there was a focus group meeting with village representatives in June where the community’s leaders had supported the project. But this further angered the audience who shouted back: “Who did you speak to?” and “What meeting?” The company claimed it had surveyed 100 heads of households in the village. The survey showed 69.2% had agreed to the project while 71.3% thought it had more positive than negative impact. CGP also claimed it had a focus group meeting with village heads and elders where they agreed to the project.... Anuar, along with some other residents, were unconvinced by the company’s promises that locals will benefit from more jobs, contracts and business opportunities once property construction began. “These promises had also been given to us by PTP (Port Tanjung Pelepas) when that was being built. Until now, they have not been fulfilled.” KPRJ executive vice-chairman Datuk Md Othman Yusof tried to calm the crowd and win them over with arguments that the people of Johor would benefit from massive project. But residents would have none of it and shouted that they still rejected the project. “You tell us we will benefit, but who are those homes you are building for? Singaporeans and foreigners, not Johoreans,” said a resident of Kampung Pok, who did not give his name. Another member of the audience attempted to get KPRJ to confirm or deny whether CGP had been exempted by the government from having to build affordable houses.... "

commentaries on the above article, snapshot at 11.30pm 22 Sept 2014:
+14 benardquek -95p · 10 hours ago I live here. Next to Lido beach, which is no more. I use to harvest clams and mussels during my free time. During my childhood, I remember having picnics by the seaside with my parents. My late grand father would even fish for food if he wanted to. He could have a rich catch of groupa, swimmer crabs and kembong. There was also a rich habitat for oysters in the old days....so what do you find now? Country Gardens, Danga Bay and similar like places....all I see now are large cranes arched over the horizon, stacking up pillars for the nouveau rich who are to come, with the promise of high net worth and big spending. Johor Bahru is no more. It is destroyed for the sake of industrialisation. Time to move on people.

+89 1 day ago Singapore should do some reclamation at the same area too (since the country needs land), then the two countries will be separated by a "longkang" and pedestrians can just walk across a "papan" to reach the other side. No need to pay toll. Save money-lah.

+56 Rightospeak 129p · 1 day ago OMG, the greed of these developers and they are supported by the BN government! No wonder Singapore is protesting, because they are literally narrowing the strait and killing all the sea creatures living there. God and the people will have the final laugh for I foresee bankruptcy here. Just wait! There will a serious glut with no buyers when it's finished.
+64 drngsc 137p · 1 day ago Dear residents, please while you get angry, remember the people who sold you out for their own gains. Search the land office and the registrar of companies to see who are the shareholders of the company and who are the nominees. Remember remember remember. When GE 14 comes, you must know what to do. Did they care about your family, your livelihood? Did they care about you Johoreans? The Johore state government and their powerful associates will sell off all of Johore to foreigners for quick profit. Soon you can only see the tall buildings, your land would all have belonged to some one else. You will be strangers in your own land. Remember.

+90 sputjam 99p · 1 day ago Plenty of land in iskandar but they developer dowan to pay. Got state land,they sold it of to developers instead of building affordable homes for locals.

+76 smokinlala 153p · 1 day ago Now we know why BN lost Gelang Petah! With this rate, PR will have better chance in GE 14

-124 auchinaman 133p · 1 day ago There is a need to change...there is a need to accept PELBAGAIAN (Diversity) to achieve PROGRESS. I believe these villagers are too afraid to change, they are so used to the old comfort of their own. So the more advance party taking over their life sent shivers down their spines. This is also what is happening in Malaysia. When the capable seem to demand more to achieve progress, they felt threatened. Where as these people should change with the wind...let the capable to do the job and you share the benefit as a whole. This is what we call MERITOCRACY and the ONLY WAY for PROGRESS.

Sabah news (update 14a): IGP urges review of Malaysia-Philippines trade ties - includes considering breaking economic and trade ties; Massive hunt for Filipino gunmen who took two Malaysians in latest Sabah kidnapping ' War in Mindanao cost P2.013 trillion ; Pan Borneo Highway To Be Toll-free; Philippines to ‘downgrade’ Sabah claim to fight China by FMT Reporters ; MILF leaders alleged to be Malaysians

20 May 2015: IGP urges review of Malaysia-Philippines trade ties - includes considering breaking economic and trade ties

Citing security breach, IGP urges review of Malaysia-Philippines trade ties By JULIA CHAN Wednesday May 20, 201502:11 PM GMT+8;
KOTA KINABALU, May 20 — Malaysia may need to review its bilateral trade relations with Philippines in order to put more pressure on the Philippine government to curb terrorist activities from its southern rebels, especially cross-border kidnapping. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, in furthering his proposal to ban barter trade between Sabah’s east coast communities and southern Philippine residents, said it was more important to secure the country’s safety than its economic standing. “Their people are threatening the safety of our people. We need to take serious action that will affect the relationship of the people like reviewing our trade relation with the Philippines. This includes considering breaking our economic and trade ties. “Some may disagree with my proposal but I put our safety first,” he said, adding that the country is under continuous threat from these terrorist groups. “Philippines also needs to teach these groups a lesson and send the message that it doesn’t pay to cause problems for us,” he said during a press conference at the state police headquarters here. Local security forces have long faced criticism over numerous reports of armed intrusions on Sabah’s borders over the years. The latest kidnapping occurred in Sandakan last Thursday, when four armed men raided the popular Ocean King Seafood Restaurant and took away a man and a woman. Restaurant manager and co-owner Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, and patron Bernard Then Ted Fen, 39 were abducted during peak dinner hours are now believed to be held on a southern Philippines island while their kidnappers have demanded a “very large” ransom. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/citing-security-breach-igp-urges-review-of-malaysia-philippines-trade-ties#sthash.oZlhoENm.dpuf

16 May 2015: Massive hunt for Filipino gunmen who took two Malaysians in latest Sabah kidnapping

Massive hunt for Filipino gunmen who took two Malaysians in latest Sabah kidnapping Published on May 16, 2015 9:15 AM; SANDAKAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A massive hunt is underway on both sides of the Malaysia-Philippines sea border for Filipino gunmen who brazenly abducted two Malaysians from a popular seafood restaurant here.
As Sabahans reeled in shock over the latest daring raid on a restaurant on the mainland, 3km from here, Malaysian security forces and their Filipino counterparts combed the islands along their borders for the gunmen who snatched Ocean King Seafood Restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, and Sarawakian engineer Bernard Then Ted Fen, 39, during a raid on the restaurant on Thursday evening.
The kidnappers are believed to be linked to the extremist Abu Sayyaf group based in Jolo.
- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/massive-hunt-filipino-gunmen-who-took-two-malaysians-latest-sabah-ki#sthash.uAmSU6jh.dpuf

2 April 2015: War in Mindanao cost P2.013 trillion

War in Mindanao cost P2.013 trillion - From 1970 to 2001 by Philippine News Agency April 2, 2015; Manila — The Mindanao war cost the Philippine government a staggering P2.013 trillion during the 31-year period from 1970 to 2001, an amount nearly equivalent to the P2.606-trillion 2015 national budget. This was disclosed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) based on the data it gathered from various sources, including the World Bank (WB).
In 2009, the peace process was resumed in the remaining six months of the Arroyo government and was pursued by a new administration under President Aquino in 2010 that resulted in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and MILF on March 27, 2014. Under the agreement, the MILF would turn over their firearms to a third party, which would be selected by the rebels and the Philippine government. The MILF has agreed to decommission its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). In return, the government will establish an autonomous Bangsamoro. The Aquino government is now asking Congress for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the legal instrument that will operationalize the agreements as contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on Oct. 15, 2012 and its annexes.... http://www.mb.com.ph/war-in-mindanao-cost-p2-013-trillion/#cMcxuUeQZVcXFfSK.99

1 April 2015: Pan Borneo Highway To Be Toll-free

Pan Borneo Highway To Be Toll-free - Najib; BINTULU, March 31 (Bernama) -- The Pan Borneo Highway will be toll-free, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday. He said the highway was the main artery connecting Sarawak and Sabah and there were no alternative routes between the two states. This was unlike the case in peninsular Malaysia where the North-South Expressway was the main link and there were many alternative routes, he said when launching the first phase of the highway, the Pan Borneo Sarawak, that costs RM13 billion. Najib said toll was imposed on the North-South Expressway in peninsular Malaysia but the people could choose to travel on the toll-free alternative routes. He also said that the subsequent phases of the Pan Borneo Highway would be built also this year, with the next launch expected to take place in September....

 Philippines to ‘downgrade’ Sabah claim to fight China by FMT Reporters  | March 30, 2015
The question that arises is whether it can “downgrade” something that it never had in the first place.
KOTA KINABALU: The Philippines, in a desperate note which literally asks Malaysia to risk its growing ties with China, has offered out of the blue to “downgrade” its “claim” to Sabah if Putrajaya supports its (Manila’s) case against China, on its maritime borders, at the United Nations Arbitral Court.... It’s not entirely clear what this “downgrading” means”. The question that arises is whether it can “downgrade” something that it never had in the first place. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, in an immediate response, said Putrajaya does not recognise any claim by the Philippines to Sabah. “What claim? We don’t recognise any claim, (so) the note is irrelevant.” He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the two-day Asian Regional Forum (ARF) Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking in Tuaran, Sabah... Manila’s offer is contained in a note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files according to the Philippine Star, handed to the Malaysian Embassy in Manila last week by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The note follows a week after a visit by Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to Manila.... The note refers to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental She’d (CLCS). Malaysia, in the joint submission, claims an extended continental shelf, 350 nautical miles from the baseline, which was clearly projected from Sabah..... The Philippines, which protested the joint submission on Aug 4, 2009 on the grounds that Sabah belongs to it, is now willing to “review” its protest. China protested the submission too and this is likely to stand even if Manila withdrew its objections...... However, Manila’s review would depend on Malaysia’s support for its case against China at the UN. The case is contained in two “requests” i.e. Malaysia to confirm that its extended continental shelf extends from the peninsula; and that it will not claim any continental shelf beyond 12 nautical miles, as provided for under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), from the maritime features in the Spratly Islands it claims....commentary... Datuk Gunda'dal Gurudam ·  Top Commenter: Putrajaya must not entertain such claim, if they do, it's just a recognition to Philippine's claim to Sabah; Maxeemillian Sv ·  Top Commenter: but they did.. send official replies..about the rental !! Why did they do such a foolish act ? Syed Abdul Khaliq ·  Top Commenter: Why do we need to pick a fight with People's Republic of China? What does Philippines has to offer, another poor country? Syed Putra Jamalullil ·  Top Commenter · St. John's Institution, KL: China will guarantee the minorities in Sabah to use any word they want in their religious obligation. Odi Rex ·  Top Commenter: Actually there is no freedom of religion in China.
Terence Lee ·  Top Commenter · St Gabriel's Secondary School:  In the first place Philippines has no right to claim Sabah belong to them. Why play such stupid game? Zosimo Jimeno · Follow ·  Top Commenter · Trainer at Ed2Career: The claim is as likely as the Sultanate of Kedah claiming back Penang. Syed Putra Jamalullil ·  Top Commenter · St. John's Institution, KL: penang is on indefinite lease, which means, if penang default in payment, that claim stands.....

15 March 2015: MILF leaders alleged to be Malaysians, Nograles worries about sacrificing Philippines sovereignty if BBL Law is written for Malaysians, urges subpoena of Murad and Iqbal travel documents

Moro Islamic Liberation Front leaders Murad, Iqbal are Malaysian citizens: Lawmakers may be liable for treason by Ishi Gonzales Sunday, March 15th, 2015 at 1:58 pm; Leaders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front are Malaysian citizens travelling with Malaysian passports. “This is a very serious allegation and must be investigated immediately, even before we continue deliberations on the BBL,” Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles said on Saturday.... “According to former Secretary Rafael Alunan III, both Chairman Murad and Chairman Iqbal travel with Malaysian passports, and are in fact Malaysians,” Nograles said.... “I raise this concern because if it is true that we are writing the BBL Law for Malaysians then we in Congress will be criminally liable for acts of treason,” the lawmaker explained. “We are all for peace but we should achieve peace in Mindanao without sacrificing our sovereignty as one nation and one people.” ... He urged the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on BBL to call on Bureau of Immigration and subpoena all travel documents of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Mohaquer Iqbal to shed light on the issue.

11 February 2015: Lahad Datu intrusion trial, 27 Filipinos and three local residents in the dock

Wife of accused in Lahad Datu intrusion trial may not have left country, court heard Posted on February 11, 2015, Wednesday; KOTA KINABALU: The High Court today heard that the wife of an accused in the Lahad Datu intrusion trial, who was arrested with him about two years ago, may not have left Malaysia.... Acting ASP Mohammad Khairani Khalid, who was attached to the Bukit Aman Special Action Unit (UTK) when he made the arrest on Datu Amir Bahar Hushin Kiram, said he did not know what happened to Gina Teves as she was not implicated in the case despite being arrested with her husband.... The couple was arrested on March 23, 2013 at a bushy and swampy area at Kampung Sri Melor in Semporna.... In the dock are 27 Filipinos and three local residents who are facing one to multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group, waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, recruiting members for a terrorist group or wilfully harbouring individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group.... http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/02/11/wife-of-accused-in-lahad-datu-intrusion-trial-may-not-have-left-country-court-heard/#ixzz3RS4KaSt4

1 February 2015:  Secession is a right?

Secession a right of any state that joined Malaysia voluntarily, says Sabah politician Published: 1 February 2015 1:08 PM Bingkor assemblyman and Sabah STAR party chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said talks of Sabah and Sarawak's secession should not be deemed seditious if federal leaders do not honour the Malaysia Agreement. – The Malaysian Insider pic, February 1, 2015.It is not seditious for Sabah and Sarawak nationalists to call for secession from Malaysia if the agreements that formed the country in 1963 are not honoured, Sabah opposition politician, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said. - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/secession-a-right-of-any-state-says-sabah-opposition-politician#sthash.TB3Kv0Xd.dpuf

30 January 2015: Housing affordability worsens with Sabah worst

Comment: We hear that Sabah property was a hot sector with a lot of money coming through from the palm oil sector boom. Although palm oil prices have moderated in recent years, the margin has still been good for most.

Housing affordability worsens with Sabah top of list, Penang, KL Thursday, 29 January 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Housing affordability, which is based on the ratio of average terraced house price to average household income, has worsened over the past five years, according to Rahim & Co, Chartered Surveyors Sdn Bhd.... In its survey of the Malaysian property market 2014/2015, the ratio increased from 3.4 in 2009 to 3.6 in 2012 and 2014.... “This essentially means that an average terraced house would cost an average household or family in Malaysia, 3.6 times its annual gross income.... “The least affordable terraced house in Malaysia in 2014 was recorded for Sabah (6.2 times), Penang state (5.9 times) and Kuala Lumpur (5.6 times). Sarawak was fourth with a ratio of 4.4 times,” the survey showed.... Rahim & Co, which is one of the largest real estate consultancy companies in Malaysia, also said in its outlook that transaction activities in the residential sector after expected to soften with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015.
To recap, Rahim & Co said that over the past four year, property prices were fuelled by the nation’s development plans, investment concentration and also the rapid growth in Iskandar Malaysia.
“The cautious market sentiment echoes the state of property market in reaching its plateau and reconciliation period is expected in the near future,” it said...... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/29/Housing-affordability-worsens-with-Sabah-top-of-list/?style=biz

15 January 2015: A Suluk leader (former asst DO of Kudat, Sabah) of 2013 Lahad Datu crisis dies

Sulu leader of Lahad Datu attack dies Updated: Wednesday January 14, 2015 MYT 11:37:51 AM
KUALA LUMPUR: Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram (pic), who led the armed Sulu intrusion into Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, Sabah, is dead..... Philippines intelligence sources confirmed that Azzimudie, 74, died of cardiac arrest in Tawi Tawi province in southern Philippines on Tuesday.
Azzimudie or Agbimuddin, the younger brother of the late Jamalul Kiram, who was the self-styled Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram, led a group of armed men to invade Tanduo in February 2013..... He disappeared without a trace after he "fled'' Lahad Datu on March 11 as Malaysian security forces recaptured Kampung Tanduo, Sabah in a massive offensive. A total of 73 intruders were killed (59 bodies have been recovered) in the nearly eight-week armed showdown with Malaysian security forces..... Malaysian police have arrested 184 people and charged 31 with various criminal offences, including waging war against the Agong. Their cases are ongoing in court..... Azzimudie was a former assistant district officer of Kudat, Sabah in the early 1970s.... http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/01/14/Sulu-Kiram-Dead/

On the Lahad Datu crisis: ISEAS Perspectives: The Sabah-Sulu Crisis Threatens the Palm Oil Supply-Chain By Khor Yu Leng, /khoryuleng/2013/03/iseas-perspectives-sabah-sulu-crisis.html

7 December 2014: Sabah onshore oil & gas, the oil royalty push, secession talk is sedition

News is out - we had been hearing about talk of this from friends in the oil & gas industry for some time now. Is there big onshore oil & gas in Sabah? Notably in the vicinity of Sahabat?

Sabah signed oil and gas production sharing contracts (PSCs) effective 20 November 2014 for 27 years. Petronas awarded Sabah government's 100%-owned M3energy Bhd a 25% stake in PSCs for Blocks SB331 and SB332 onshore; it partners SapuraKencana Petroleum (70%) as operator and Petronas Carigali (5%). Expected production will come in 2021. The Edge writes that "last year, Sabah's three main soruces of revenue were sales tax on crude palm oil, oil royalty and issuance of bonds, which accounted for over 70% of total revenue.... Oil royalty accounted for 30.5% of total state revenue...(Gumusut-Kakap and Kikeh oilfields which are) deep-water projects.... With 5% oil royalty being guaranteed to oil-producing states, a major stake in PSCs could provide additional and sustainable contributions to Sabah's coffers...the Sabah government's big stake in the PSCs caught many by surprise as previously, state governments only held minor stakes in downstream projects. For instance, the Sabah government has only 10% interest in LNG 9 in Bintulu, Sarawak...(there has been) dissatisfaction over the quantum of oil royalty.. in May, Sarawak passed a resolution to request an increase in oil royalty from the current 5% to 20%, which prompted oil-producing states (Terengganu, Sabah and Kelantan) to follow suit...." The Edge also writes that "the amount of reserves and resources available in the two blocks is not known.. Petronas says, "there have been minimal activities in the blocks, but the presence of oil and gas seeps indicates a probable working petroleum system"

Source: The Edge, 8 December 2014

Sarawak folk slam Najib for Sedition Act use against secession calls BY DESMOND DAVIDSON Published: 27 November 2014; "Sarawak leaders and social media users, such as Borneo Wiki, reacted negatively to Datuk Seri Najib Razak's U-turn on the Sedition Act.... Sarawak leaders and social media users were quick to take to Facebook to condemn Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for reneging on his promise to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and more importantly, his proposal to amend the act to criminalise calls for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak.... " http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/sarawak-folk-slam-najib-for-sedition-act-use-against-secession-calls#sthash.mgnHxDRr.dpuf

22 November 2014: Security concerns linger

Nazri: I was speaking the truth about Sabah security; Updated: Saturday November 22, 2014 MYT 3:21:32 PM; PETALING JAYA: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has defended his remark that Sabah was still unsafe to visit amid criticism that his statement harmed tourism in the state.... He told The Star Online that he made the remark during a debate in Parliament as he had to tell "the truth" so that he did not give a wrong impression to tourists. "When we are still in this situation, it means it is still not safe to go to Sabah. I cannot say it is safe now just because we have Esscom there," said Nazri. Nazri said the continued extension of curfew in the state’s east coast also gave the impression that Sabah was still under threat. "I had to tell the truth because if I told journalists overseas that Sabah was safe, then they would ask, why are our people still held by the kidnappers? "In fact, among those who were kidnapped are policemen who are supposed to guard our security. So, how do I answer that?" asked Nazri..... On the statement by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar that Sabah was safe to visit, Nazri said it contradicted the announcement of another two-week extension of curfew made by the Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abd Rahman.  The minister had on Monday in Parliament said that he would not guarantee the safety of tourists in the state as long as the two kidnapping cases remained unsolved.... "If the Sabah Tourism Minister, the IGP and also the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) feel my statement is wrong, I hope they can help me by going to China and declaring that Sabah is a safe place to visit.... "Don't just blame me...just go to China and meet their media and say that Sabah is safe. I would be really grateful if they could do that for me," he added. http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/11/22/Nazri-sabah-defends-his-remarks/

16 October 2014: Sabah projects for Sabahans?

Sabah projects should go to Sabah firms, Dewan told, Thursday, October 16, 2014
http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=92221; "KUALA LUMPUR: Development projects in Sabah should be given to locals there instead of wealthy companies from the peninsula, a Sabah Barisan Nasional MP said in Parliament. Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh said the Pan Borneo Highway was one infrastructure project that should be awarded to Sabahans to benefit the state economy. "There's this letter being circulated that said the project was awarded to Syed Mohktar's company. "I would like the Prime Minister to look into this and if this is true, action should be taken," said Ghapur, referring to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.... Ghapur said after 51 years of being Malaysia, Sabahans still feel "left out" of development compared with other parts of the country. "There are still many who live in the rural areas, like in Kinabatangan, who have to dig a hole for their toilet," said Abdul Ghapur in his speech on Budget 2015, Wednesday. .... Ghapur said it was no surprise that a so-called secessionist movement was taking root in Sabah given the lopsided policies accorded to a state that helped BN retain power in the previous two general elections.... "Our people remain poor. Our oil royalty remains low and when there is development, like the upgrade of the pan-Borneo highway, it is given to Syed Mokhtar," he said... It was reported that UEM Group Bhd will be partnering MMC Corp Bhd, an engineering and construction group owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, for the project...."

Abu Sayyaf suspected of shooting fishing boat by stephanie lee; Thursday October 16, 2014 MYT 7:01:48 AM; KOTA KINABALU: Gunmen linked to the Abu Sayyaf might be behind the shooting of a Sabah-registered fishing vessel in the border waters between northern Kudat and the Philippines.
Two of the vessel’s 10 Vietnamese crew sustained gunshot wounds as they evaded the gunmen and fled towards Sabah in the 9am incident on Tuesday, some 22 nautical miles east of Pulau Banggi.

23 September 2014:

Red alert over Abu Sayyaf-IS links Updated: Monday September 22, 2014 MYT 10:02:49 AM
Loyalty pledge: A video grab of Hapilon taken from YouTube by the Philippine National Police and the US Rewards for Justice Program. KUALA LUMPUR: A red alert has been raised in Sabah following an open declaration of support for the Islamic State (IS) movement by Isnilon Hapilon – one of the most wanted terrorists with up to RM16mil bounty on his head. The 48-year-old Abu Sayyaf leader, along with masked men, posted a video of themselves on YouTube in July but intelligence sources said it gained momentum on social media last month. Sources said pro-IS and jihadist websites in Bahasa Malaysia were being watched following this new development.
In the video, which appeared to be shot in the jungles of southern Philippines, the IS movement’s symbolic black flag is depicted in the opening scene.  In the six-minute clip, Hapilon is seen wearing a black gown, linking his arms with his men, some of whom wore masks. Speaking mostly in Arabic and in his native dialect of Yakan, they swore allegiance to IS and its head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the form of baiah or oath of loyalty...." http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/09/22/Red-alert-over-Abu-SayyafIS-links-Sabah-tipped-off-after-militant-leader-declares-support-for-Islami/

No need for referendum in Sabah, Sarawak; Bernama | Updated: September 23, 2014; (First published on: September 23, 2014 09:13 MYT) KOTA KINABALU: There is no need for a referendum to determine the number of people in Sabah and Sarawak who want out of the Malaysian Federation, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Nancy Shukri. She said the people of Malaysia, including those in East Malaysia, had worked as a team to develop the country and it was unfair to neglect those who helped Sabah and Sarawak achieve "what they have today". "I don't think there is a need for that yet...there is no need for a referendum because there are more people talking about being in Malaysia, rather than out of Malaysia.... Nancy was asked on whether there was a need for a referendum in Sabah and Sarawak, as was done by the United Kingdom Government in Scotland.... The Batang Sadong MP stressed that the people of Sabah and Sarawak enjoyed development under the Federation of Malaysia, including education, security and infrastructure, and were accorded some of the special rights. Meanwhile, she reiterated that the Sedition Act 1948 was essential in safeguarding security, harmony and unity in the country...." http://english.astroawani.com/news/show/no-need-for-referendum-in-sabah-sarawak-44468?cp

17 September 2014:

Sarawak and Sabah will not leave Malaysia, says PM by stephen then;  Updated: Wednesday September 17, 2014 MYT 6:50:19 AM; MIRI: There is no turning back. Sarawak and Sabah will never break away from Malaysia because the country has gone too far together and the only way to march forward is together, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Speaking before 40,000 people at the Miri City Fan Recreation Park when launching the grand celebration for the 51st anniversary of Malaysia Day here last night, he said Sarawak, Sabah and the peninsula had become one big family over the past 51 years.

16 September 2014:

Painful to be part of M'sia, say Borneo leaders, 5:00PM Sep 16, 2014; "The Federation of Malaysia is meaningless if Sabah continues to be "occupied" by "Malayan" government officers and federal agencies, said Borneo Heritage Foundation chairperson (BHF) Jeffrey Kitingan..." http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/274803

11 September 2014: Sabah Secession talk worries and the Scotland effect

Interesting that old news on Sabah from July is now being highlighted in the national dailies in Malaysia. The Felda Sahabat incursion was first reported a case of low politics i.e. land promised and not given. But increasingly it was reported otherwise, and secession talk crops up again.

I had a chat yesterday evening with a senior historian for the Malay archipelago (the meet up was triggered in part by my updating on the Johor Iskandar-Singapore project and its historical resonance). As we meandered through different topics, he highlighted to me his interest in the Scottish secession referendum, and how this might trigger Catalonia (Barcelona) which is a rich region in Spain to do similar (wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_self-determination_referendum); and we also noted that the Crimea is making some noises on the same (news link: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/if-scotland-independence/1355924.html). Why is there seemingly a wave of secession talk and how will these notions affect us in this part of the world - Southeast Asia?

Handily enough in my email box from a few days ago was a report from a bank on the political betting odds of the Scottish Referendum (which points to a "yes" to remain; which differs from opinion polls results) and how it would affect England.  Do read the article excerpts (see below!), which also discusses recent accuracy of opinion polls versus betting odds in politics and points out how reliant Labour is on its Scottish MP base. Looking at 18 September Scottish Referendum betting odds sites suggested, https://www.betfair.com/exchange/politics/market?id=1.110033387:

 accessed 8.35am KL/Singapore time

News headlines:

Three held for joining bid to claim Sabah for Sulu sultanate, Published: Thursday September 11, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM, Updated: Thursday September 11, 2014 MYT 7:43:20 AM;
http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/09/11/Three-held-for-joining-bid-to-claim-Sabah-for-Sulu-sultanate/; "KUALA LUMPUR: Police have detained three people, including a Filipino, for their alleged involvement in the so-called Royal Sulu Army... Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police arrested the three – Abu Bakar Jayari, Zainuddin Mislani and Kassim Ibrahim – on July 22 under the Prevention of Crime Act for allegedly joining the group with the aim of removing Sabah from the Federation of Malaysia... “The three are believed to have been recruiting new members to join their cause... “It is supposed to be a starting phase in their bid to claim Sabah for the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan,” he said in a statement yesterday... Khalid said the three men were detained under Section 19A of the Act which provides for detention for not more than a two-year period...."

Anger over Barisan’s incompetence fuelling secession talk, say PKR MP, 4 September 2014; http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/anger-over-barisans-incompetence-giving-rise-to-secession-talks-say-pkr-mp#sthash.zlROCQRu.dpuf

Bank of Singapore: Follow the Money in Scotland Vote, 9 September 2014  
Economics has plenty of obscure areas of research and sometimes they are relevant to financial markets. One field looks at the predictive power of opinion polls compared to the odds in betting markets. The strong conclusion is that we should “follow the money” as betting markets have a much better track record... This is important now that the opinion polls are suggesting the Scottish referendum on independence will be a close vote. Here (http://www.bbc.com/news/events/scotland-decides/poll-tracker) is a link to a BBC website that tracks how opinion polls have developed. Sterling has fallen sharply after one poll showed a majority in favour of “Yes” in the vote for independence that will take place on 18 September, and others showed a tight contest... In contrast, betting markets (such as Betfair or Ladbrokes) continue to show a strong prediction of a “No” vote. Admittedly the odds have narrowed – until recently the betting market gave the Yes vote about a 25% chance, while now it is up to 34%. That is still a huge distance from the neck-and-neck race shown by opinion polls... Betting markets have an established track record of predicting the winners in US politics. Recent examples were when the opinion polls were showing a close race between Bush and Kerry in 2004 or between Obama and Romney in 2012, while the betting markets were leaning strongly in favour of the eventual winner... The idea seems to be that numerous informed and interested participants express their views through a betting market. It is not one-man, one-vote – the biggest wagers will have the most interest in the outcome. In contrast opinion polls are a relatively narrow cross section of potential voters, where the presentation of the question can also affect the result... There is a high degree of uncertainty about the consequences of a Yes vote. Much would depend on negotiations in the 18 months before independence in March 2016, with national defence, the allocation of government debt and assets, location of financial institutions, the choice of national currency and membership of the EU all to be settled... The direct impact on the remainder of the UK does not appear too large, as Scotland represents less than 10% of the economy. However, there is potentially a large political impact, as Scotland predominantly sends Labour politicians to the UK parliament in Westminster. Currently there are 41 Labour MPs from Scotland (out of a total of 257) and just one Conservative, so it would become harder for Labour to win an election.... It is not clear how a pro-independence vote would affect the next UK general election due by May 2015, as the Scottish seats might not be contested or they could only serve until the split in the Union... From a financial market point of view it would increase the chance of a Conservative government bringing a referendum on continued membership of the EU in 2017. Moreover, without the influence of (relatively pro-EU) Scotland it would make an exit more likely. Whether or not this is negative for GBP is debateable, as it would probably lead to a more free market orientation to the UK, less constrained by the social democracy of the EU. However, markets seem to be viewing such an outcome negatively. If the betting markets are right then these are complications that will not trouble us after the vote on 18 September..."

4 August 2014: Sabah-Sulu problems fester on while China expresses interest

Sabah issues continue after the Sabah-Sulu crisis of early 2013, which we wrote about here in March 2013: http://khoryuleng.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html. Initially, the incursion on Felda Global Ventures leased plantations at Sahabat was reported as a land dispute gone out of hand. Thus, a problem of low level politics and the grand Suluk territorial claims took advantage of the situation? Since then, there have been several kidnappings, including of China nationals which has significantly disrupted the tourist business. Over the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations at a friend's home, I had occasion to speak to retired military man who had worked on major operations in Sabah. Unfortunately, he did not have a positive solution to mind, as he said that the military may occupy and clear out an area for 3 days, but 3 days later the people who had dispersed would just return through the very porous sea border.

What's also new is China's apparent stepped up interest in Sabah - a plan to establish a consulate in Kota Kinabalu and suggestion to link Sabah with Shandong Province for cross-investments.

News items:

Curfew along Sabah's east coast extended for another two weeks, Updated: Monday August 4, 2014 MYT 7:30:21 AM; "KOTA KINABALU: The dusk-to-dawn sea curfew along Sabah’s east coast will be extended for another two weeks in a bid to clamp down on cross-border kidnappings. Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said the extension started yesterday until further notice from the Home Ministry. Legally, however, the curfew can only last up to two weeks. Rashid said in the fortnight that the curfew was imposed from July 19, 40 fishermen in Sandakan and Tawau had been given special permission to work during the curfew hours...... The curfew was imposed in the wake of an attack on two policemen at the Mabul Water Bungalows in Semporna on July 12. Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed while his colleague Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, is still being held hostage by Filipino gunmen in southern Philippines. Another hostage, Chan Sai Chuan, 32, who was kidnapped from a fish farm in Kunak, Tawau, on June 16, is also being held captive.... The curfew covers an area of three nautical miles from the shore until the international border with the Philippines. The area stretches for about 362 nautical miles from Tanjung Pundaras in Sandakan to part of Pulau Sebatik near Tawau. The six districts involved are Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Kunak and Tawau..." http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/08/04/Curfew-along-Sabahs-east-coast-extended-for-another-two-weeks/

A Sabah-Shandong G2G mooted? Expand China-Sabah collaboration – envoy, The Borneo Post  - Posted on July 25, 2014, Friday; http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/07/25/expand-china-sabah-collaboration-envoy/; "The Malaysian and Chinese Governments should create a platform to promote exchanges and understanding between East Malaysia and China, said Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching Liu Quan. Liu said there was still a lack of exchanges between East Malaysia and China, which caused a lack of understanding on both sides.... Liu said he had visited Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) in this trip, in which he learned about the enormous potential in Sabah, particularly in the oil palm, aquaculture, oil and gas industries as well as biodiversity. e said Sabah and China could potentially collaborate in these sectors... Even though there were incentives in place for investors, and that policies in Sabah were relatively open, there was still a lack of exchanges and understanding between Sabah and China, he said. Hence, Liu said the Sabah State Government could kick start a collaboration with a province in China. For instance, the Sabah Chief Minister could lead local investors to visit Shandong Province with the aim to establish good relations and vice versa.... Liu hoped to see the setting up of a Chinese consulate in Kota Kinabalu as soon as possible, which would provide assistance to Sabahan businessmen who wished to invest in China. Although the Chinese consulate in East Malaysia is located in Kuching, Liu said the consulate served Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan...."
Shandong Province: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shandong and its largest city Qingdao: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qingdao

While MH370 issues seem to be stabilizing, China-Sabah tourism is seeing impacts from problems that started arising about the same time as the air disaster.
Sabah kidnaps have had more impact than MH370 on Chinese tourist numbers, says minister; BY EILEEN NG Published: 17 June 2014 | Updated: 17 June 2014 2:32 PM - See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/sabah-kidnaps-have-had-more-impact-than-mh370-on-chinese-tourist-numbers-sa#sthash.9u1kbcMK.dpuf; "Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said as of April this year, China cancelled 76 flights to the state capital city, Kota Kinabalu.... National carrier Malaysia Airlines saw 10 scheduled flights from Shanghai cancelled, while China Southern Airlines cancelled 22 flights from Shenzhen. Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines cancelled 44 flights from Shanghai to Sabah.... "Yes, what happened in Sabah has had a worse impact than the MH370 incident," he told Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak)...."

Penang news (update 7): Changing property market of Penang ; Penang investments and budget surplus shows improved performance post 2008 under DAP administration; for 2014 Johor, Sarawak and Penang the top three states for investment. BPO projects in Batu Kawan and Bayan Baru respectively, would be jointly developed with Temasek Holdings and Economic Development Innovations Singapore

15 March 2015: Changing property market of Penang

Changing property market of Penang By: DAVID TAN Saturday, 14 March 2015 - Legislation, bridge and location are some factors affecting prices; UNTIL about a year ago, Penang’s south-west district was known as the locality for affordably-priced properties.Since 2008, Ideal Property Group has developed over 4,000 units with a RM3bil gross development value (GDV) there. These include One World, One Residence and Fiera Vista in Bayan Lepas, priced between RM300,000 and RM800,000. These have become landmark projects. In the sub-sale market, prices have since increased from RM380 to RM500 per sq ft (psf) for high rise condominium, and more than 50% for landed units.... With the Penang second bridge project completed last year, new launches of high-rise properties hit about RM550 psf last year.The very expensive ones are located in prime locations such as Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, and Pulau Tikus neighbourhoods in the north-east district.
For example, when the Marinox Sky Villas, a leasehold condominium in Tanjung Tokong was launched in 2012, it was sold at around RM650 psf. This has increased to over RM600 psf last year.
Similarly, condominiums in City Residence at Tanjung Tokong by Ivory Properties priced at RM750 psf in late 2013 have increased to over RM1,000 psf today.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/03/14/Changing-property-market-of-Penang/?style=biz

27 February 2015: Penang investments and budget surplus shows improved performance post 2008 under DAP administration; for 2014 Johor, Sarawak and Penang the top three states for investment

Penang records 109% increase in investments By LOOI SUE-CHERN Published: 27 February 2015 2:08 PM Penang recorded a 109% increase in investments last year over 2013’s volume of RM3.91 billion. Out of the RM8.16 billion in domestic and foreign investments in 2014, RM5.1 billion came from foreign investment. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said this put Penang in the top three for states with the highest investments in the country last year, after Johor and Sarawak.... He said the domestic and foreign investments came mostly from the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector, while some also came from the biomedical sector. "This shows we are still strong in the E&E sector as a main player in the supply chain. It is a sign of sustainable progress. "We thank everyone in the industry as well as government agencies like the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) for all their efforts in drawing investments to Penang," he today. On the increase in investments, Lim said it was also important to look at the bigger picture. "From 2008 to 2013, we got RM40 billion compared with RM21 billion from 2002 to 2007.. http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/penang-records-109-increase-in-investments#sthash.L6uzMIDb.dpuf

Penang made more in 6 years than BN did in 50 By Susan Loone 3:49PM Feb 26, 2015 - A clean administration has enabled the Penang government to accumulate budget surpluses for six consecutive years since 2008, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today. This is through its practise of competency, accountability and transparency or CAT, a policy touted by the Pakatan Rakyat-led administration when it seized Penang from BN in the March 8, 2008 general election.... http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/290344

4 February 2015: Is there some concern at MIDA about the proposed China electronic sector investments in Penang - cautious of photovoltaic investments using Malaysia's GSP and COO as a transshipment point to beat anti-dumping problems?

Mida keeps close tabs on China, Taiwan PV makers By: DAVID TAN Wednesday, 4 February 2015
GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) is adopting a cautious stand on investments by photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturers from China and Taiwan.
Mida deputy chief executive officer Datuk Phang Ah Tong told StarBiz that this was because Mida did not want Malaysia to be used as a transhipment point for China and Taiwan-made PV cells and panels to enter the United States, as the latter had imposed anti-dumping duties on PV products originating from China and Taiwan.... The US International Trade Commission had recently imposed a minimum 70% tariff rate on China PV modules, and an 11.45% to 27.55% rate for Taiwan PV manufacturers.... Phang said that so far there were no significant PV investments from China and Taiwan in Malaysia... “However, we are still pursuing investments in alternative renewable energy such as bio-mass, bio-gas and small hydro plant projects...........as a result of the foreign investments, Malaysia was the third largest solar module producer in the world after China and Japan, and the fourth largest producer of solar cells in 2013... The major corporations in Malaysia involved in PV manufacturing are First Solar and Panasonic Corp in Kulim Hi-Tech Park, Hanwa Q Cells in Cyberjaya, AUO Sunpower in Malacca and IRM Group Bhd in Ipoh.... Malaysia has been known as a transhipment point for China-made products using the GSP and COO documents issued for companies in Malaysia to enter Europe..... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/02/04/Mida-keeps-close-tabs-on-China-Taiwan-PV-makers/?style=biz

30 January 2015: BPO projects in Batu Kawan and Bayan Baru respectively, would be jointly developed with Temasek Holdings and Economic Development Innovations Singapore , Penang housing affordability worsens, second worst after Sabah says Rahim & Co.

Penang sees RM5bil investments from 4 China MNCs listed in US By: DAVID TAN
Thursday, 29 January 2015; GEORGE TOWN: Penang will see some RM5bil worth of investments coming into the state in 2015 from four multinational corporations (MNCs) involved in electronic-based manufacturing activities.... investPenang director Datuk Lee Kah Choon said these were only initial investments that would materialise over the next 12 months.... Declining to name the companies, Lee said these could be China companies but public-listed in the United States..... Lee said the Penang International Technology Park and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) projects in Batu Kawan and Bayan Baru respectively, would be jointly developed with Temasek Holdings and Economic Development Innovations Singapore and due for completion in five to 10 years...... “The projects has a gross development value of RM11.3bil and will generate 25,000 to 30,000 jobs in the future,” Lee said..... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/29/Penang-sees-RM5bil-initial-investments-investments-this-year-It-expects-forays-from-four-MNCs-from-C/?style=biz

Housing affordability worsens with Sabah top of list, Penang, KL Thursday, 29 January 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Housing affordability, which is based on the ratio of average terraced house price to average household income, has worsened over the past five years, according to Rahim & Co, Chartered Surveyors Sdn Bhd.... In its survey of the Malaysian property market 2014/2015, the ratio increased from 3.4 in 2009 to 3.6 in 2012 and 2014.... “This essentially means that an average terraced house would cost an average household or family in Malaysia, 3.6 times its annual gross income.... “The least affordable terraced house in Malaysia in 2014 was recorded for Sabah (6.2 times), Penang state (5.9 times) and Kuala Lumpur (5.6 times). Sarawak was fourth with a ratio of 4.4 times,” the survey showed.... Rahim & Co, which is one of the largest real estate consultancy companies in Malaysia, also said in its outlook that transaction activities in the residential sector after expected to soften with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015.
To recap, Rahim & Co said that over the past four year, property prices were fuelled by the nation’s development plans, investment concentration and also the rapid growth in Iskandar Malaysia.
“The cautious market sentiment echoes the state of property market in reaching its plateau and reconciliation period is expected in the near future,” it said...... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/29/Housing-affordability-worsens-with-Sabah-top-of-list/?style=biz

28 January 2015:  RM 5 billion electronic sector investments expected

Penang eyes over RM5bil in investments Wednesday, 28 January 2015; GEORGE TOWN: Penang aims to secure more than RM5bil in foreign direct investments from four major electronics companies planning to set up their plants here... Director of InvestPenang, a Penang government investment arm, Datuk Lee Kah Choon, said the four multinational companies (MNCs) were awaiting the approval from Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA). Lee, who is also the special adviser to the Penang Chief Minister, said the MNCs would help spur the state's economy and create as many as 2,000 jobs. "The majority of the jobs available will be for engineers, while the remaining are the supportive roles that include administration and marketing," he told reporters after the briefing on Penangs Economic Outlook 2015 on Wednesday today. He said two of the companies had started recruitment drives here and they would start operations after they received the green light from MIDA.... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/01/28/Penang-eyes-RM5bil-investments/?style=biz

14 January 2015: Penang construction-related controversies, worries about deterioration of livability, overdevelopment concern starts to scare some expatriate property investors? 

Just how much more development can Penang take, concerned observers ask BY HIMANSHU BHATT AND LOOI SUE CHERN Published: 14 January 2015; (Dennis and his wife) invested in a house in the idyllic Batu Ferringhi tourism belt and for the past five years, as expatriates, have attested to Penang's reputation as one of the most attractive and livable islands in Asia. That was until recently, when they learned of a multi-storey high-density mixed development project which will be built just yards behind their home – despite the Batu Ferringhi area being designated for low-density projects under the Penang Island Structure Plan. A recent string of construction-related controversies that include ugly hill cuttings, urban flash floods and traffic congestion is changing perceptions about Penang's liveability and raising questions as to how much more development the island can take before its environment starts to degrade and the quality of life for residents suffer. Such limits, or carrying capacity, however, have never been confirmed by the state..... But Chow, who is in charge of local government, traffic management and flood mitigation, admitted that the state wanted to maximize land use – which meant allowing hillslope and high-density developments. This is in view of expected demand for new property as the island's population increases. As it is, there were a total of 2,595 planning approvals issued, of which 552 projects took place from 2000 to October this year, according to the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP)...... This situation begs the question of what the authorities use as yardsticks to determine if new development will overtax the island's resources. In the absence of such information, Lim suggested that road congestion could be used as a good reference point...... A study for the master plan has found that there are a quarter of a million vehicular trips being made during peak morning hours every working day in the state. Of these, 42.5% are within the island, underscoring the strain faced by the limited road system..... To date, the delay in gazetting development blueprints for Penang island has taken on a political dimension, with the state Barisan Nasional (BN) opposition criticising the long wait for the Local Plan to take effect.... In the meantime, Dennis, the retired engineer from Europe, and his wife, are now looking at moving away, possibly to Bali. "We were happy here. That's why we invested our money and bought a house," the elderly man said. "But this kind of development scares us as foreigners. I feel very unsafe and insecure...... http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/just-how-much-more-development-can-penang-take-ask-concerned-observers#sthash.LJ0de4un.dpuf

22 November 2014 - E&E human rights allegations, construction and property, social assistance maxed out says Guan Eng

Rebut human rights abuse allegations, urges Penang by Imran Hilmy; Last updated on 20 November 2014 - 04:27pm; GEORGE TOWN: Penang has urged the federal authorities to rebut allegations that human rights abuses were taking place in the electric and electronic (E&E) sector in Malaysia. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said both the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) and Human Resources Ministry (HRM) should take steps to ensure the country was not sanctioned due to negative perception.... He added any unfavorable impression should be countered before action was taken which could affect the economy, noting Penang had a huge E&E sector. He expressed confidence the claims of human rights violations were not true and urged for quick end to the matter.
"We hope steps are taken to ensure the economy is not affected," he said in a press conference today.
Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin had on Monday claimed the US Labour Department will put Malaysia on the "International Ranking on Forced Labour" watch list next month.... The move comes after global NGO Verite in a report titled "Forced Labour in the Production of Electronic Goods in Malaysia", highlighted several issues by some 500 male and female workers which included deceptive recruitment, poor living conditions and passport retention.... http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1233000

Penang gives out jobs worth RM6bil By: DAVID TAN; Tuesday, 18 November 2014; GEORGE TOWN: The value of jobs given out this year to the construction and renovation industry in Penang is expected to be around RM6bil, compared with RM9.25bil a year ago.... Penang Master Builders and Building Material Dealers Association president Datuk Lim Kai Seng told StarBiz that the number of jobs to be given out this year in Penang was around 400, compared with 539 in 2013.
“The reason for the slowdown is because many of the important construction jobs from the Government had already been given out in 2013.... “Last year saw a record 539 jobs worth RM9.25bil being given out,” Lim said. For the first nine months of 2014, some 308 jobs valued at RM3.3bil were given out, compared with 289 worth RM5.3bil in the corresponding period of 2013, according to the latest Construction Industry Development Board report. Of the 308 jobs, some 45 were from the government sector, while the balance 263 were from the private sector.... It was reported in March that Kuala Lumpur and Penang-based developers would develop RM4.56bil worth of residential and commercial projects in Penang this year amid the challenging environment for the property sector.... Developers set to launch new projects include IJM Land Bhd (gross development value, or GDV, of RM538.5mil), Mah Sing Group Bhd (RM280mil), DNP Land Sdn Bhd (RM800mil), Wing Tai Malaysia Bhd subsidiary Ideal United Bintang (RM935mil), Tambun Indah Land Bhd (RM616mil), Sunway Bhd (RM290mil), SP Setia Bhd (RM300mil) and Eastern & Oriental Bhd (RM800mil).... http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2014/11/18/Penang-gives-out-jobs-worth-RM6bil/?style=biz

Penang can’t afford to spend more to help Penangites: Guan Eng; 15 November 2014 @ 10:14 AM;
GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government cannot “cough up” more to help the people in the state, including for transportation and healthcare because it cannot afford it, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.... Lim (DAP-Air Putih) told the State Assembly that this was due to the fact that the state government had already extended “gold” assistance focusing on certain target groups... Among them are for warga emas (senior citizens), anak emas (special needs children), pelajar emas (outstanding students), schools, students of religious schools, the state’s Equitable Economic Agenda, net aid for fishermen, taxi drivers and trishaw riders.... “All these have totalled RM287,138,545.51 since 2008, and for 2015, RM116.94 million has been set aside for this purpose. “If there is added expenditure (for aiding people), the state government will not only experience a budget deficit but also might go bankrupt,” he said when winding up debate on the state’s Supply Bill 2015 yesterday.... http://www.nst.com.my/node/53174

9 July 2014 - Penang mega transport plan

Hot in recent Malaysia investor news is Penang's new integrated transportation plan. It will apparently be funded in large part by a land swap/ reclamation deal i.e. property development on reclaimed land. I happened to meet the Penang Chief Minister at the airport last week and ventured to say hello. He asked if I was from Penang and encouraged me to move and buy property in Penang - there's apparently upside to home prices there!

Starting to talk to international public policy specialists on this.

Q: Is DAP in Penang taking the Singapore PAP route of making property development a large component of its economy? Is this perhaps the only way they can get things done given federal-state financing situation in Malaysia?

A1. Interesting, but would have to be done carefully—Federal-State coordination still needed-otherwise political risk high. Singapore does not need to worry about that.
Broker research news on Penang's mega transport project:
Malaysia Construction (Hoy Kit Mak) - Penang integrated transportation plan positive for the sector - ALERT
"We remain positive on the Malaysian Construction sector, a beneficiary of the upcoming M$160B railway-related infrastructure spending. Latest newsflow on Penang’s plan for a M$27B integrated transportation plan (M$5B initial) is positive for contractors with deep pockets and large-scale project management expertise. A request for the proposal will be called next month, and key contenders include Gamuda, IJM, Scomi and WCT. We think IJM/Gamuda has an advantage, with a bias toward Gamuda, our top sector pick and one of our top country picks."
Malaysia Construction - Mega-projects: Let’s be realistic by  Tushar Mohata; Alpa Aggarwal, Nomura 08 Jul 2014: "News report suggesting Gamuda favourite for Penang transport project manager role§ Over the weekend, an article in The Star (Gamuda leads pack for multi-billion ringgit Penang transport job, 5 July 2014) suggested that Gamuda (GAM MK, Buy) is a frontrunner for the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) role for the Penang island integrated transportation plan, with the project worth as much as MYR 27bn (recall that the PDP fee for MRT Line 1 was 6% of the total project value). § The market has taken this news positively, with Gamuda’s stock price up 2.5% on Monday.Mega-project awards to be slow; advise investors to be conservative§ We caution investors on having high expectations from Malaysian mega-projects (such as the Penang transport plan) in the near to medium-term. The government has multiple mega-projects on its radar as part of its Economic Transformation Plan goals, and construction works for some of these projects may involve a huge capital outlays. § Indeed, as we have seen in the past, various projects keep surfacing in media reports / budget announcements, only to be put on the backburner again (see Fig 2, a case in point being the MYR 8bn Gemas – JB Southern Double Tracking project, which has been discussed for several years now but is nowhere close to being awarded, in our view).Stick to high likelihood project winners – e.g., MRT Line 2, WCE§ Keeping the fiscal constraints in mind, as well as pending negotiations with the population over land acquisition and alignment issues, the government might spread out the award of these projects over multiple years. § The government is also likely to prioritize projects that have more immediate multiplier effects, and as a result, some of these discussed projects might not see the light of day anytime soon (see Fig 2).§ It is very difficult to say whether the Penang transport project will take off in the coming months, or to speculate on possible winners, in our view. Moreover, the winner of the Penang transport jobs will be compensated through a land swap / reclamation deal, which would take years to monetize through property development activities on the reclaimed land.§ As a result, we advise investors to selectively stick with contractors whose projects are already partially off the ground / awarded. We like Gamuda (GAM MK, Buy), as we are confident of the company’s prospects on MRT Line 2 Underground and PDP works and not for the Penang projects. We also like IJM (IJM MK, Buy) because of its more certain near-term earnings from the recently awarded West Coast Expressway (WCE) contract.§ Additionally, with 30-50% of their earnings being driven by property, these companies also benefit from a less volatile, higher-margin earnings stream."


Rumours on China investment in Kuantan Port

Thanks to reader sending alert on rumour in social media. Question on China investment in Kuantan Port?
This reads: "behind the scenes story: Chinese investors decide to cancel Kuantan Industrial Park investment plans." Underneath is the caption of an old picture showing PM Najib and CPPCC committee chairman Jia Qinglin viewing the Kuantan park model (and no useful info on sources...).