palm oil

“The FELDA Quarrel and its National Ramifications” by Khor Yu Leng

“The FELDA Quarrel and its National Ramifications” by Khor Yu Leng is out and downloadable at this link:

The ferocity of the public quarrel that broke out during Ramadhan at Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV, a public-listed group associated with the Federal Land Development Authority or FELDA) suggests that Prime Minister Najib Razak is not in full control of UMNO and will not call for early general elections.CEO Zakaria Arshad (a son of settlers and a FELDA insider) garnered support amid general calls to oust UMNO strongman Isa Samad as FGV’s non-executive Chairman. 

Social media exposés about dodgy corporate deals and illegitimate spending at FGV triggered an anti-corruption investigation.

FELDA’s Malay voters hold sway in almost a quarter of Malaysia’s parliamentary constituencies. Survey data show sliding support for UMNO-BN in a majority of these seats.

Chinks in the FELDA-FGV armour are keenly eyed by the wily ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed who opposes Najib and has been enjoying unprecedented access to FELDA areas.

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, blog posting on Malaysia-China relations covers Sep 2015-Jun 2016, 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):

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

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....

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.....

China stumps up cash and a ship as MH370 search changes focus December 3, 2015

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:

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....

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:

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:

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.

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....

MH370: Malaysia sends team to Reunion Island Updated: Thursday July 30, 2015 MYT 12:41:02 PM

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...

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:

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:

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.

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.

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:

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:

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. ........

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...


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? 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...

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...

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

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....

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...

Wikipedia here:

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...

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....

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....

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:

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....

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.

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

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 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.....

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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....

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.....

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:

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....

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.........

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.........

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....

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.

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.....

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;, 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....

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...

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); 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)

Minister furious AirAsia 'flouted procedure' 5:12PM Jan 2, 2015 by Malaysiakini; According to Indonesia's, 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....

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.....

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.”...

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." ......

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.

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....

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.... "

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....

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;

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....

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....

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:

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...." ;

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...

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....

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.

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.....

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...."

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...."

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......

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."...

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...."

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..."

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....

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."..."

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..."

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...."

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...."

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...."

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

Official visit by Chinese premier in works, confirms envoy - Bernama September 28, 2014;; "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..."

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 ( 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..."

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..."

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...."

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..."

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....";

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..."

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;; "...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..."

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..."

Najib: Why should Malaysia choose between US and China? Sunday August 24, 2014 MYT 10:07:01 PM;; 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;; "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."; other comments in Khor Reports Palm Oil blog posting here:

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;!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;; "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: and its largest city 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..."

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.

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...."

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?; Ukraine Says Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Near Russian Border,; Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 'shot down' in Ukraine - live updates,; MH17 crash: All European MAS flights to take alternative routes,

Market reactions: Asian Stocks Slip With Ringgit on Plane While Bonds Rise,

Geopolitical views: Malaysian Airliner Crash Should End Ukraine War,; Flight MH17 and the Role of Ukraine's Rebels,; MH17 Crash: Here Are the Geopolitical Implications, (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...."

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," 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,

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;

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....

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"; "... 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:; "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, Sunday 8 June 2014;; 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:

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).

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;; 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;; 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;; 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;  ; 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;; 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:

Envoy says China will never let Malaysia face MH370 saga alone; The Malaysian Insider  - ‎May 22, 2014‎; ; "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; ; 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;; 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,; 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,

On the air disaster and MAS:

Australian PM: Missing Jet May Never be Found,; ; 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, 28 April 2014 ;
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; 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:

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,; 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 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;

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;; Pine Gap: Australia's most secretive location, July 29, 2013 - 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;
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;

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;; 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:

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;; 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;

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 ...

MH370 chills China-Malaysia 'panda diplomacy'; 11 Apr 2014 08:58:39 GMT | By Agence France-Presse;; 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 ‎;  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 ( 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:

8 April update:

Thanks to Andy for pointing out this piece. The depth of the problem;;
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; 
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; 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:

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,,_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;
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;‎ 
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,; 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: editorial on the Malaysian government's communication strategy;; "...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,, 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,, ...."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,, 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, 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;; 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

Air pollution watch: US gas leak - the SoCalGas methane disaster - Sempra could face a bill of as much as $900 million

Editor's note: There seem to be several key strands in the news on smog / air pollution and health issues:
(1)  The rise of Europe policy maker concerns on emissions from diesel vehicles (and this is highlighted by the VW cheating scandal)
(2) the Southeast Asia peat smog haze driving API measures over 300 in neighbouring countries and 1400 in local peat zones - note that Singapore has started legal action against the Singapore units of companies associated with the Sumatran fires. **The recent articles by TOS Singapore on cause of haze and health impacts (for Singapore) are worth reading (but clearly, the health issues would escalate for those living in the peat zones; from recent news article it is evident that NGOs are collecting information on the economic cost of the peat smog haze, so we can probably expect legal actions to ensue)
(3) China urban-industrial air pollution. Now giving rise to some law suits. Some who are more sanguine about #2 in that it is "organic pollutant particles" point out that this is the worrying one given metals in the polluted air due to industrial air pollution form factories.

KL-Singapore focussed spreadsheet of data points reported via

23 April 2016:  German government report accused no car maker of criminal wrongdoing, New Gadgets Help Chinese Cope With Pollution 

Volkswagen Posts Deep Loss After Taking $18.28 Billion Hit on Emissions Scandal - Charge represents large increase on sum initially set aside to cover recalls and repairs By SARAH SLOAT Updated April 22, 2016; ... Volkswagen took a $18.28 billion charge related to the diesel emissions cheating scandal. The news came as the German government revealed conclusions of its emissions scandal report that showed diesel manipulation could be more widespread, although it accused no car maker of criminal wrongdoing... 

New Gadgets Help Chinese Cope With Pollution 4/17/2016 3:00PM      Air pollution in China is a persistent and nagging problem. The WSJ’s Alyssa Abkowitz speaks about some new devices that help Chinese people breathe easier. Photos, clockwise from bottom: CoClean, Ecovacs, Broad Group...

11 Feb 2016: US gas leak - the SoCalGas methane disaster - Sempra could face a bill of as much as $900 million

How Do You Stop the Biggest Gas Leak Ever? Inside the efforts to plug SoCalGas’s methane disaster. by Karen Weise  Bloomberg Businessweek Reprints February 10, 2016; ...The leak had been spewing for about two weeks. Southern California Gas Co., the subsidiary of Sempra Energy that owns the facility at Aliso Canyon, had tried and failed to kill it..... Based on Conley’s readings, the state would estimate that in less than a month, Aliso released more than 68 million pounds of methane. Since then, it’s leaked 132 million pounds more, the state says, based on Conley’s subsequent flights... Aliso potentially the largest-ever single release of methane into the atmosphere—at least, the largest ever recorded.... When methane leaks, it’s not obvious like an oil spill. Methane’s invisible and, for most of its supply chain, has no odor. That helps explain why there’s been such a gap in public awareness of what a growing body of research has found: There are pervasive, daily methane leaks across the country’s energy infrastructure that far outstrip federal estimates. And the bulk of releases come from “super emitters,” which range from persistently malfunctioning valves to one-time events.....Conley found that by Nov. 28, emissions were about 16 percent higher than he’d measured a few days before the kill attempt. At its peak, Aliso emitted almost 128,000 pounds of methane an hour, Conley estimates. (Boots & Coots deferred comment to SoCalGas.)... More residents began asking SoCalGas to pay for temporary housing, and the company opened an office in a shopping center, wedged between SoCal Blow Dry Bar and Visionmax Optometry, to field their complaints. Hundreds of people have been showing up each day, and about 4,460 households are living in hotels or other short-term accommodations, at SoCalGas’s expense.... Plaintiffs lawyers, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., courted panicked residents, saying SoCalGas should pay for what they called unknown health risks and wrecked property values. More than 2,000 people showed up for a December meeting organized by Erin Brockovich and the lawyers she works with....Around 2009, as fracking wells popped up across the U.S., public debate focused on concerns over contaminated water. In an iconic, if much-disputed, scene in the documentary Gasland, filmmaker Josh Fox lights tap water on fire. But since then, scientists have begun to fret about how much methane is escaping into the atmosphere. Too much could counteract the climate benefits of the cleaner-burning gas..... So in 2012, EDF started the largest-ever series of peer-reviewed studies to measure emissions across the oil and gas supply chain. It committed $18 million to fund 16 academic studies not just at production sites but along pipelines and distribution networks, at storage facilities like Aliso, and to endpoints in cities, where gas flows to heat homes and cook meals. Most of the funding came from foundations, with another third coming from oil and gas companies. “One of the biggest questions is, if you had the wrench and wanted to tighten down the leaks, where would you start?” says Tom Ryerson, a methane researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. His work isn’t funded by EDF..... The findings in North Texas’s Barnett shale field, the first basin to widely use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) methods, were frightening and have proven typical. There, researchers measured emissions 90 percent higher than the estimates in the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and they found that 10 percent of facilities accounted for 90 percent of the leaks. Some leaks were “persistent,” like unlit flares, malfunctioning valves, or other avoidable situations. Others were “episodic,” like Aliso, though at a smaller scale. Many could be prevented with better monitoring and operations...The patterns continued in California, where the state found methane emissions are as much as 74 percent higher than previous estimates.... The Environmental Protection Agency in August proposed the first federal rules to limit methane leaks from oil and gas operations, but they mostly cover new facilities. About 90 percent of emissions come from older sources, according to an EDF study by the consulting firm ICF International. The American Petroleum Institute, in a December call with reporters, said the industry has reduced leaks and that “voluntary methods are the best way to reduce methane emissions from existing sources.”.... Most gas regulation falls to states, which generally haven’t focused on leak detection and prevention. Colorado was the first to require regular monitoring and preventive maintenance. In early February, California proposed rules that would require quarterly inspection of both new and existing gas production sites, and emergency regulations now mandate daily monitoring of storage facilities such as Aliso....California Attorney General Kamala Harris and a long line of others have sued SoCalGas over the Aliso blowout. Los Angeles prosecutors filed misdemeanor criminal charges against the utility for not immediately reporting the leak. (SoCalGas says it will respond to the case “through the judicial process.”) A regional air quality regulator said in a suit that the company’s negligence caused the leak, and multiple state agencies are also conducting their own investigations. SoCalGas’s parent, Sempra Energy, has said it has more than $1 billion in insurance coverage that it believes will cover many of the current and expected a worst-case scenario, Sempra could face a bill of as much as $900 million, says Brandon Barnes, an energy litigation analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. If the leak is stopped by the end of March, the total cost could be about $250 million, he estimates. That includes roughly $115 million to stop the leak and relocate families, $40 million for civil liabilities, and $11 million in state fines. One of the biggest expenses could come from mitigating the climate damage, which the state says it will require. Buying carbon offsets would cost about $92 million, according to Barnes’s calculations.....

8 December 2015: Beijing air pollution went to 666 last week and lowered the red alert threshold this week

Beijing Issues First-Ever Air Pollution Red Alert December 8, 2015 Beijing has suspended schools, restricted car travel and banned fireworks and outdoor barbecuing as the Chinese capital scrambles to cope with a thick blanket of gray smog that’s enveloped the city. Bloomberg's Stephen Engle has more on "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg)

26 November 2015: Haze control and oil palm smallholders by Khor, Saravanamuttu & Augustin - The Habibie Center

Haze control and oil palm smallholders by Khor, Saravanamuttu & Augustin - article published by The Habibie Center

3 November 2015: Looking back at Haze 2013 that triggered off Singapore action

Great haze II - the karmic winds of change? [report]

2 November 2015: CIFOR articles on Indonesia peat fires - broadly recommends re-wet peat zones and restore to original vegetation, but how feasible is this on funding and socio-political front? Palm oil points to smear campaign.

Editor's note: Some policy questions. How do you reduce current cultivation of peatlands - moving individual and corporate farmers away? Relocation and compensation? How do you restore degraded peatlands? Where is the funding? GAPKI - Indonesia palm oil fears smear campaign - is that a doctored image then?

DG’s Column, Preventing fire & haze: sustainable solutions for Indonesian peatlands - What can we do to break the cycle of the haze over the long term? How might we address the underlying drivers and achieve sustainable solutions?  by Peter Holmgren @pholmgren 1 November 2015 about 10 hours ago; From a solutions perspective, we may set ourselves up for failure if we start by trying to answer the environmental concerns. It may be more constructive to view reduced impact on climate and environment as a great and much-needed co-benefit to solutions to health, poverty, food and governance issues....Solving the underlying factors will take time. Now is the time to decide on proper actions for the long term, before the haze and attention blows over.... At the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), we are discussing ways forward, together with partners. We have come to a few starting points with a common denominator that fire and haze need to be raised to a higher level and address development more broadly.... Going forward, we identify a range of essential direct outcomes we should strive for, including: •Drastically reduced conversion of forests into agriculture •Reduced use of fire in agriculture •Overall reduction of cultivation on peatlands •Improved opportunities for rural livelihoods and income •Improved markets and value chains for sustainable products •Restoration of degraded peatlands...

Indonesia on fire again … and again? The fires in Indonesia have made global headlines—but this is a decades-old, recurring problem that needs long-term solutions. by Suzanna Anderson 29 Oct 2015; The fires in Indonesia have been raging for more than two months, creating a toxic haze that has blanketed much of the country and spread across  neighboring regions. Rains in the past week have provided a little welcome relief, but the crisis is far from over. Most of the fires in Central Kalimantan are blazing in former peatland forests, which have been drained, cleared and burned for oil palm and agriculture, at large and small scales.  The dried-out peat ignites easily and burns underground; the fire then creeps along under the surface. Peatlands are made up of decomposed forest debris. They have been around for thousands of years and are home to thousands of plants and animals, including endangered keystone species such as the orangutan....

Video - Indonesia on fire. Join scientists as they visit the burning peatland in Central Kalimantan and describe the causes and effects. by Center for International Forestry Research @cifor 30 Oct 2015

Life amid the fires and haze of Central Kalimantan - A visual journey through smoke-covered landscapes and villages by Center for International Forestry Research @cifor 27 Oct 2015 In Central Kalimantan, schoolchildren are missing classes, farmers are losing their harvests, and orangutans are losing their homes. The effects of the fires and smoke – among the worst seen in Southeast Asia in years – are far-reaching and devastating. During a trip to Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan in mid-October 2015, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and their partners saw and documented just some of the ways that communities, wildlife, the environment and the economy are being affected. For the full album, visit our Flickr page: Fire and Haze, Central Kalimantan:

Smear campaign against Indonesian palm oil underway: GAPKI, Jakarta | National | Mon, October 26 2015, 2:48 PM 

31 October 2015: Rains arrive (they were due end Oct / early Nov) and Sumatra-Kalimantan haze abates, VW excess emissions will kill 59 Americans

Rain in Indonesia Dampens Forest Fires That Spread Toxic Haze By JOE COCHRANEOCT. 28, 2015; Torrential rains overnight on Tuesday in the regions of Sumatra and Kalimantan — where forest fires have been raging for weeks, sickening hundreds of thousands of people — have significantly reduced the size and number of fires, said Luhut B. Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs. “I hope we have turned the corner,” he said in an interview. “If the rain continues over the next five days, we are past this.”...He said the number of “hot spots,” areas where satellite imagery shows heavy forest fires, had dropped to 291 on Wednesday from 1,578 on Monday because of the heavy rains...Seventeen Indonesian civilians have died from respiratory illnesses caused by the haze, as well as one firefighter in an operational accident, Mr. Luhut said....

Widespread shower activities in the region have helped to subdue the land fires in Kalimantan. However, some smoke haze was still observed in parts of Sumatra. Updated 7:46 PM 29 Oct
Volkswagen's Excess Emissions Will Kill 59 Americans: Study; An MIT and Harvard study is the first peer-reviewed estimate of the health impacts of Volkswagen's faulty software code.  by Tom Randall October 30, 2015 — 9:31 PM HKT; Volkswagen's emissions scandal now has an estimated death toll. The excess emissions that the company concealed will be responsible for about 59 early deaths in the U.S. alone, according to a sweeping new study. The implications for Europe are far worse. The study, by researchers at MIT and Harvard, is the first peer-reviewed estimate of the health impacts of Volkswagen's faulty software code, designed to conceal harmful pollutants. If the cars are all recalled by the end of next year, another 130 deaths may be avoided, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

22 October 2015: KL-ites pressured and frustrated at Haze disruptions. Southern Thailand tourist belt blanketed by haze. Singapore BT graphic comparing Haze data. Singapore air pollution recently soared over 400.

Editor's note: I can now see in KL social media some anti-palm oil views from people never before caring or knowing about palm oil. Some are associating the haze with palm oil. KL-ites also talking about boycotting certain makes of paper products. I sense sheer frustration at the dismal smog outlook as we're in the second month of dense smog (and likely a good dollop of depression due to the greyness). People I bumped into in KL today were mightily frustrated at the 4 days of no school for their kids / grand kids (schools with classrooms better equipped to handle the haze i.e. enclosed with air-conditioning, were also pressured to close); the urban working population felt the pressure of how to work and handle kids out of school. Schools reopen tomorrow despite still high measures in Klang Valley - only northern states remain closed - showing an easing of Ministry of Education policy. People sense a lack of will in business-political circles over the haze and some are turning to thinking about making gestures with what they choose to buy or boycott. Economic losses are rising, as the dense smog drifts up to the southern Thai tourist belt.

source. accessed 9.45pm today; shows Malaysia headline measures
in 200s (PM10 and not PM2.5 basis) drifting up to parts of southern Thailand

DPM: Unfair to pressure Indonesia govt over haze Last updated on 22 October 2015 - 08:26pm  by Aiezat Fadzell, BERNAMA  KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not put any form of pressure on Indonesia to tackle the cross-border haze menace originating from the republic. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said such a move would be unfair to Indonesia which was earnestly undertaking efforts to put out the  fires on its peat land.  "It's unfair to put any pressure on Indonesia. President Joko Widodo has shown strong commitment to solving the problem in the long term," he told reporters after opening the first Putrajaya International Security Dialogue, here, today....

1,600 schools in 3 northern states remain closed tomorrow Published: 22 October 2015 6:21 PM; ...The ministry said 1,600 schools in Perlis, Penang and Perak with 728,739 students were affected by the directive, except for schools in Kedah that were normally closed on Fridays. Schools in other states are to reopen tomorrow...... "Schools also have to remind and advise their students to always take care of their health, by covering their mouths and nose when they are in school," the circular from the ministry said. The smoke in Malaysia is caused by forest fires and burning in plantations in neighbouring Indonesia. It has forced thousands of schools to be closed several times now due to the bad air since last month. – October 22, 2015. - See more at:

'Worst haze in a decade' blankets southern Thailand - Prevailing winds in the recent weeks have brought the smog to Thailand, stoking tensions and creating a headache for the country's vital tourism industry.  UPDATED: 22 Oct 2015 16:54; BANGKOK: Dense haze produced by Indonesian forest fires has caused some of the worst pollution levels in southern Thailand for a decade, officials said Thursday (Oct 22), delaying flights in an area popular with tourists.... Thai officials Thursday said air quality had dipped to unhealthy levels in seven southern provinces, with particularly high readings in southwestern Songkhla province where some flights have been delayed or turned back. "It's considered a crisis. It's the worst in 10 years," Halem Jemarican, head of the Environment Office in Songkhla province, told AFP by phone. "The key factor is the wind. It's strong at the hot spot origins but when it reaches Thailand the winds weaken so the haze stays around for longer," he added... Earlier this month several planes packed with beach-bound tourists to Phuket and Koh Samui were forced to turn back because of haze levels. Thailand's Public Health Ministry said it had distributed 55,700 facemasks in the south with a further 40,000 were on the way. In a statement the country's Pollution Control Department said it had "called for Indonesia to implement measures to reduce burning in order to mitigate haze"....While the loudest complaints have come from leaders in relatively affluent Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it is poor Indonesian villagers who are suffering most. Pictures this week revealed a thick, yellow haze smothering Palangkaraya in central Indonesia, with locals forced to go about their daily life regardless of the extreme health hazards.....

A whopping 106,783 fires have been detected in Indonesia so far in 2015 – and experts think things could deteriorate further. But just how bad is the situation, relative to the past and in comparison to other countries’ emissions? The Business Times peers through the hazy issue, using data from the Global Fire Emissions Database and the World Resource Institute. BY KELLY TAY

source: Twitter on 19 October shows Singapore air pollution
 reading soaring to year's high in 400s

21 October 2015: WALHI assist on community's $3.5 billion class action suit against plantation giants and Wilmar as region suffers unprecedented haze, Indonesia’s palm oil fires are emitting more greenhouse gases every day than the entire US; from readers on slow process of transferring new technologies to small farmers and the Thai agricultural haze problem 

Editor's note: Question on the class action suit include whether the type of companies targeted include those in the supply-chain buying fruit from smallholder fire zones?

From an agronomist (specialist in Indonesia smallholder extension work): "The haze is an unfortunate and dangerous event and incredibly hard for the Indonesian authorities to stop. If alternative methods of clearing refuse can be promoted by the extension services, that will lead to a progressive lessening, but unfortunately the extension services are not all that effective. As you know, most commercial estates do not burn any more and the alternative is certainly feasible. Transferring new technologies to small farmers is a slow process, as we know all too well from our experiences with cocoa, vegetables, seaweed and cattle in NTT.  But people do respond, and eventually there's a snowball effect."
From a reader in Thailand: Editorial in the Bangkok Post mistakenly blames corporate agriculture for northern Thailand's serious haze problems - Interesting that the corn industry is blamed, where there are no corporations working in any area of Thailand, let alone the North. The closest to corporate farming that has become well established in the north is sugar cane... ... 80-90% is still hand harvested and burnt off prior to harvest.... farmers tend to burn the remaining residue to "clean up" their field even though no longer required, they just don't get the picture that they need to change. We used to regularly get "black snow" as the locals called it in Takfa... Burning rice paddies is also a high contributor to this, with this acrid smoke due to the amount of green material remaining in the paddy......Myanmar and Laos,  While they do contribute, its more a home grown problem...

South Sumatra residents to file class action suit against firms causing haze - The companies suspected of burning land and causing transboundary haze are Asia Agri, Golden Agri Resources, Wilmar, Sime Darby, and Asia Pulp and Paper. By Saifulbahri Ismail POSTED: 06 Oct 2015 19:39  UPDATED: 09 Oct 2015 10:26; JAKARTA: A group of Indonesian residents in Jambi, South Sumatra are in the final stages of preparing a class action lawsuit against five companies responsible for the forest fires that have caused massive air pollution in Indonesia and across the region. They are expected to serve notice to these companies this month....According to reports, thousands of people living in Jambi have developed respiratory infections after breathing the acrid air, while others have suffered lost income.... They are claiming a total of 51 trillion rupiah (US$3.5 billion) in losses."There are two kinds of losses: Firstly, losses that can be calculated to around 7 trillion rupiah, the companies have to compensate that. There is also the cost of recovering the land which has been destroyed, and we have calculated that to be 44 trillion rupiah," said Mr Musri.The Indonesian Forum for the Environment or Walhi, is helping the plaintiffs with their lawsuit. Walhi has conducted its own legal battle against companies and acknowledges it faces a challenge ahead...."Walhi won its claim during the forest fires which destroyed some 11.6 million hectares in 1998, and one more in 2000 in South Kalimantan,” said Mr Mukri Fatriani, an ecology disaster campaigner from Walhi. “From then on, 14 years have passed and we have not won any other claims." Walhi said that even though there are clear laws, these have not been enforced. Those taking the companies to court are confident of getting a positive result..... "The 2015 incident is different from earlier incidents. This year is extraordinary,” said Mr Musri. “Indonesia and our neighbours Malaysia and Singapore are directly affected. It wasn’t as bad before. So, this is what gives us energy to fight.... “Secondly, I’m confident that because this claim is from the desire of the community, we will try. If you ask what our chances are, the law has to improve to answer the haze problem objectively, and I'm confident we can win this legal battle."....

Carbon bomb - Indonesia’s palm oil fires are emitting more greenhouse gases every day than the entire US  Steve Mollman   October 20, 2015; ... So far this year, Indonesia’s fires have produced more pollution than Germany does in a year. On 26 days from the period of Sept. 1 to Oct. 14, their daily emissions surpassed those of the entire US (the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China), according to researchers led by Guido van der Werf from VU University Amsterdam. They calculated that the nearly 100,000 fires in Indonesia detected to date this year emitted more than 1,000 metric tons (1,102 tons) of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions cumulatively. That puts the country on track for its worst fire year since 2006. On Oct. 14 alone there were more than 4,700 fire alerts—that’s more than on any single day in the past two years. So why are these fires so potent? More than half of them this year have occurred on peatland areas, concentrated mainly in south Sumatra, south and central Kalimantan (on Borneo), and Papua, according to the World Resources Institute, citing data from Global Forest Watch Fires.....

Haze fallout: RedMart withdraws APP products TODAY reports: The online grocer withdraws all paper products sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), after the National Environment Agency launched an investigation into the company’s role in the forest fires in Indonesia. POSTED: 20 Oct 2015 07:44; Since the NEA revealed the names of the firms it is probing, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) have started a campaign urging retailers and other businesses to declare they do not source for materials or products from the firms.The SEC has also restricted the use of APP’s Singapore Green Label certification. Businesses that have come aboard to make the declaration and pull APP products off their shelves include NTUC FairPrice, Prime and Sheng Siong. Other companies such as Watsons have clarified they do not stock Paseo, NICE and Jolly brands by APP, and is working with suppliers to run an audit to ensure that their products are not procured from the six companies accused of contributing to the haze pollution. RedMart said it carries 13 other paper products that are certified with the Singapore Green Label, and its own RedMart-branded paper products are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). “RedMart has also created a ‘FSC’ certified search option and filter within its Paper & Tissue category to encourage its customers to buy sustainably produced products,” said the company.....

Countries now understand how hard it is to put out forest fires: South Sumatra governor - South Sumatra province was one of the areas most badly hit by forest fires, and for more than a week, international help had focused on extinguishing the blaze. POSTED: 21 Oct 2015 22:08; ...“I don't want to mention any names, but there are lessons learnt. They now know putting out the fires in the peatlands is extraordinarily difficult, so now there's no more speculation from other countries. That is good." South Sumatra province is one of the areas most badly hit by forest fires, and for more than one week, international help has focused on extinguishing the blaze. Mr Noerdin says forest fires also occur every year in Australia, Canada, and the United States. But the difference is that because those fires are not in the peatlands, they can be put out a lot easier, says Mr Noerdin.......

Schools in several Malaysian states to close for fourth day due to haze - The areas affected include Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sabah and Perak, which had Unhealthy readings Wednesday afternoon. POSTED: 21 Oct 2015 20:02

20 October 2015: President Jokowi said that the fires covered 1.7 million hectares,  Siti Nurbaya says to uncover the real actors behind the fire cases (not only catch people ordered to burn it), "(business) mafias and their puppets are partying, whilst the majority of the Indonesian people live in the wallow of poverty and squalor"; 1.7 million hectares in perspective, economic cost of haze to Singapore (including Prof YK Ng view)

Singapore and Indonesia haze: Interactive before-and-after photos show dramatically reduced visibility By David Sim September 29, 2015 12:00 BST Indonesia has deployed nearly 21,000 personnel to fight forest fires raging in its northern islands, as thick smoke cloaks much of the region. Hazardous smog has blanketed parts of northern Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. South-east Asia has suffered for years from annual bouts of smog caused by slash-and-burn practices on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands, and the fires have been exacerbated this year by the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon, as a prolonged dry season has parched the soil, fuelling the flames. These interactive before-and-after photos show how visibility in neighbouring Singapore has been dramatically affected.


ASMC website screenshots

On the extent of the fires (see below for context)

1.7 million hectares. While stressing last Friday (9/10) that the Indonesian government had tried its best to put up the ongoing forest fires, President Jokowi said that the fires covered 1.7 million hectares in Kalimantan (770,000 ha), Sumatra (593,000 ha) and in South Sumatra (221,704 ha), reported. They include peatland forests. This is approximately 25 times the area of Singapore city, which stands at 71 thousand hectares....... The Indonesian government had done its best in the past months to extinguish the forest fires utilizing local resources. Its efforts included producing artificial rain with military aircraft. No less than 2,600 military troops had been deployed in the past weeks to help tackle the forest fire disaster in those regions, Armed Forces (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said in Jakarta on Sunday (10/10). Last Friday he visited Jambi where TNI troops were digging ditches to let water flow through peatland sites, a method of mitigating the spread of fire in these forests..... Unfortunately, all the efforts made by Indonesia, under the coordination of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), had been unsuccessful in catching up with the rapidly spreading fires. Accordingly, President Jokowi expects that, with foreign assistance, the ongoing forest fires could be completely resolved by the end of this month........ The president said last Thursday (8/11) that Japan and Russia were making preparations to dispatch their aircrafts to support Indonesian, Singaporean and Malaysian planes in putting out forest fires in Sumatra. While other countries including China, Australia and South Korea were reported to also have the intention in contributing similar kind of assistance........ Meanwhile, there had been limited reports about the ongoing handling of forest fires in Kalimantan. Relatively thick haze from Kalimantan and Sumatra had reached Singapore and Malaysia........ At the moment, Jokowi said, Indonesia urgently needed aircraft that can carry 12-15 tons of water. Indonesian aircraft currently used to tackle forest fires had capacity of 2-3 tons only. Moreover, larger planes were also needed to transport fire extinguishing troops........

“Satellite photos showed 58 thousand hectares, instead of 8,000 hectares,” said Siti Nurbaya when reviewing the location of fires in Rimbo Panjang, Kampar, Riau, Sunday (20/9). Siti Nurbaya claimed that she did not understand why the comprehensive reports of the fire could be different.Even so, she said that this needs to be done and all parties need to work together to tackle the fire. “Governments can’t solve this alone. We must work together,” she added. She stressed, public should receive fair information related to law enforcement for arsonists, because it has become the instruction of the President Joko Widodo. The law enforcement have to uncover the real actor behind the fire cases, not only catch people who were ordered to burn it........

Effect on people at 900+

September 15, 2015 MYT 10:24:24 AM  Thousands flee Pekanbaru as haze hits record high MEDAN: Thousands are fleeing Pekanbaru as the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in the Riau province capital, which is about 280km away from Singapore, surged to a record 984 yesterday........ Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar yesterday declared a haze emergency in Riau province. She said Riau Acting Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman had also set up aid stations at several locations........ The minister's move, however, came too late for Wahyuni, a student from Jambi. The 15-year-old died last Friday after coughing for three days prior to her death. She was said to have had difficulty breathing because of the haze. "We knew Wahyuni had a pre-existing heart condition," said her mother, Ms Nuraini. "Her heart was weak but she never had breathing difficulty like this before."....... Mr Roni Amriel, an MP in Pekanbaru, said the city is no longer liveable because of the haze, and asked the municipal government to start evacuating residents. "Action must be taken, including evacuation," said Mr Roni, adding that the ideal destination for evacuees is West Sumatra, which shares its borders with Riau. He also said Pekanbaru city, the province of Riau, or the central government could foot the bill for the evacuation........ Visibility in Pekanbaru was reduced to between 100m and 200m yesterday afternoon, while Dumai and Pelalawan - which are also in Riau - had a visibility level of 50m....... Dr Slamet Budiarto, who heads the Jakarta Chapter of the Indonesian Doctors' Association, said the PSI reading of 984 should "trigger an evacuation". He added that at that level, the haze could cause nausea and physical weakness and, in the long term, may lead to cancer. ...

Are there commercial business interests?

“This is only oil and gas, we have not counted mafias from the food and other strategic business sectors. It is truly a pity for the people and poor citizens of Indonesia. The mafia and their puppets are partying, whilst the majority of the Indonesian people live in the wallow of poverty and squalor,” said Erwin as quoted by

A lucrative illegal market for land to plant crops such as oil palm is a major cause of annual fires in Indonesia, a senior forestry researcher says, with the racket driven by complicit local officials and the global demand for commodities. Dr Herry Purnomo is part of a team at the Bogor-based Centre for International Forestry Research looking at the political economy of fires and haze in Indonesia. The political economy, he explained, refers to how economic actors at different levels influence and weaken law enforcement at all levels. "The actors can be individual powerful elites that are connected to the companies," he added.... PROFITING BY BURNING If you grab the land, the forest - it can be concession land or state land - you can sell it. My research shows that the price is around eight million rupiah (S$800) per hectare. But if you burn that land, the price will increase.


Indonesia - Haze causes serious health hazards Published on Jul 21, 2015

Deforestation across Kalimantan where fires are raging

Land Fires: Thick Haze in Central Kalimantan Capital

Indonesia - East Kalimantan fires

Indonesia, ASEAN, battle perceptions of inaction over haze and illegal burning


1.7 million ha in context

Trafalgar Square has an area of about one hectare

100 ha is 1`square km so 1.7 million ha is about 17,000 square km:

  • Belgium is 30,000 sq km i.e. 57% of its land area
  • Brunei is 5,300 sq km i.e. 3.2x of its land area
  • El Salvador is 21,000 sq km i.e. 81% of its land area
  • Fiji is 18,300 sq km i.e. 92% of its land area
  • Israel 21,600 sq km i.e. 79% of its land area
  • Kuwait 17,800 sq km i.e. 96% of its land area
  • Swaziland 17,200 sq km i.e equivalent of its land area
  • New York, USA is 55,000 sq km i.e. 31% of its land area
  • Hawaii, USA is 11,000 sq km i.e. 1.54x its land area
  • Maine, USA is 35,000 sq km i.e. about half of its land area

*Current Indonesia fires at 1.7 million hectares or 17,000 sq km (as reported 10 October 2015) versus size of other wildfires:

  • China, 1987 – The Black Dragon fire burnt a total of 72,884 square kilometres (72.9 million ha) of forest along the Amur river
  • Indonesia, 1997 and 1998 – Unprecedented forest fires in Kalimantan and East Sumatra. 97,000 km2 (9.7 million ha) of forest were destroyed, more than 2.6 gigatonnes of CO2 was released to the atmosphere
  • Australia, 1851, Black Thursday - approximately 5 million ha, or a quarter of Victoria
  • Indonesia, 1982 and 1983 - Massive forest fires in Kalimantan and East Sumatra. 36,000 km2 (3.6 million ha) of forest burned down. There are other forest fires in Java and Sulawesi on the same year.
  • *Current Indonesia fires at 1.7 million hectares or 17,000 sq km
  • Bolivia, 2010 Bolivia forest fires, 15,000 square kilometres or 1.5 million ha
  • North America, 1950, Chinchaga Fire, British Columbia and Alberta, 1.4 million ha
  • North America, 1825, Miramichi FIre, New Brunswick - 1.2 million ha
  • North America, 1910, Great Fire of 1910, Idaho-Montana-Washington, 1.2 million ha
  • North America, 1871, The Great Michigan Fire, Michigan - 1 million ha
  • North America, 2011, Richardson Backcountry Fire, Alberta, 707,000 ha
  • North America, 2008, Summer California wildfires, 630,000 ha
  • North America, 2004, Taylor Complex Fire, Alaska, 528,000 ha
  • Australia, 2009, Black Saturday bushfires - 450,000 ha
source:  List of wildfires in Wikipedia here 

Economic cost of the haze - Singapore perspectives

During the 1997 haze, an episode that lasted three months, a conservative estimate of the economic costs of the haze in Singapore (by Professor Euston Quah, one of the two authors of this piece) was US$163 million. In 2013, the one-week haze period which saw the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reaching a record high of 401 led to estimated economic losses of US$50 million, a figure extrapolated from previous findings. In the future, the economic costs are likely to increase....

Singapore’s losses to haze underestimated, says Nanyang professor Published: 6 July 2013 9:34 AM While it is complicated to put a price tag on the social, economic and psychological effects of the haze-induced damage, the figure of S$1 (RM2.5) per day per person is a gross underestimation. Nanyang Technological University economics professor Ng Yew Kwang said some economists had been too conservative in estimating the damage to Singapore from Indonesia's forest fires. It had been estimated that Singapore had lost about S$5 million a day, including medical bills, tourism losses, impact on businesses, purchase of face masks and similar damage.... Ng said such "lower-bound" estimates had been made by Professor Euston Quah, Nanyang Technological University's Economics Division head, and OCBC Bank's Selena Ling. Writing in The Straits Times, Ng said that while not inaccurate, the figures grossly underestimated the severity of the problem as the adequate damage figure should be much higher. He cited a World Wide Fund for Nature report which said that the haze-induced health expenses in 1997 accounted for only 12 per cent of the total damage. The lost tourism revenues accounted for 78 per cent while the airline industry's losses made up the remaining 10 per cent. Ng argued that the negative health effects of breathing polluted air and the side effects should make up the bulk of the losses.....Face masks flew off the shelves in drug stores and other retailers like fresh loaves of bread from the oven as Singaporeans rushed to get protection from the haze. The Health Ministry cooled the panic when face masks were sold out by distributing fresh stocks from its own armoury of about nine million masks. Ng said to gauge the costs of the haze crisis, he had to ask himself what percentage of his annual salary would he be willing to forgo to make the problem go away. His answer was not less than 10 per cent. "What if the skies remained hazy? How much compensation would make me indifferent to the situation?" His answer was not less than 15 per cent of his annual salary. Ng said the average of the 10 per cent and 15 per cent figures is 12.5 per cent. This meant that a rough estimate of the haze costs to him was no less than 12.5 per cent of his annual income. "So let's assume that your annual salary is $100,000 (RM250,000), 12.5 per cent of which is $12,500, which is the equivalent to 50 per cent of your quarterly salary of $25,000. "As the haze outbreak lasts an average of three months annually, the costs of the event can go as high as 50 per cent of Singaporean's earned income during this period." Ng also put up the assumption that his willingness to pay a percentage of his earned income was higher than that of the average Singaporean. - See more at:

Singapore Haze Starts to Crimp Business By Natasha Brereton-Fukui  Updated June 21, 2013 1:46 p.m. ET; SINGAPORE—The severe haze choking parts of Southeast Asia is already hurting some businesses in Singapore, especially in tourism and retail, and could dent the regional economy more broadly if the smoke persists, as some officials warned it might. Singapore's air-pollution index soared to a record of 401 Friday, taking it well into "hazardous" territory before dropping back. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, air quality was still in the moderate zone at 81, but Johor state in the south was hit worse, with an index reading as high as 323, which is considered "hazardous" as well....Before this past week, the previous record of 226 was set in September 1997, during a period of air pollution that lasted for several months.  Work has continued on construction sites and in offices and financial markets—some employees have opted to work from home—and flights out of Changi Airport are operating with a slightly longer gap between planes due to reduced visibility. However, several fast-food chains, including  McDonald's  and Pizza Hut, have stopped making deliveries to protect their staff from the smog. Some offices have handed out face masks and even installed air purifiers, and the government has asked companies to minimize employees' work outside....

Singapore, Malaysia face economic hit from prolonged smog  Jun 24, 2013 5:33am EDT By John O'Callaghan; The haze crisis in 1997 lasted about three months and cost Southeast Asia an estimated $9 billion from disruptions to air travel, health expenses and other business impacts. Economists and businesses say the costs are already mounting about a week since air pollution levels in the countries shot up to unhealthy and sometimes hazardous levels... "The haze has definitely affected our business. Our sales fell around 40 percent in the past week," said Goo Wai Chien, who sells pizza and pasta at a hawker center in Singapore's business district. "But hopefully the situation is improving."...Irvin Seah, DBS economist in Singapore, said the overall impact could be worse than in 1997 if the haze drags on. "In 1997, the level of pollution was not this severe, and on the other hand the tourism industry's contribution to the economy was relatively smaller back then." Tourism makes up 6.4 percent of Malaysia's economy and about 5 to 6 percent of Singapore's. Analysts see that sector taking an immediate knock, even if they cannot quantify the damage. "The impact will be negative," ANZ, a bank, said in a research report, referring to Singapore. "Shopping, restaurants, bars and outdoor entertainment will all suffer during this hazy period."...

Transboundary Haze: How Might The Singapore Government Minimise Its Occurrence?

Indonesia's Fires and Haze: The Cost of Catastrophe  By David Glover, Timothy Jessup 1999 (2006 reprint)

19 October 2015: Not much for Peninsular Malaysia to hope for when Pekanbaru-Jambi-Palembang readings: 464, 999, 700... schools close in several Malaysia states

 Editor's note: I've been collating some data here:; and the just casually observing the forecast shown in website, it seems to take in the wind direction expected. Not much for Peninsular Malaysia to hope for when Pekanbaru-Jambi-Palembang readings: 464, 999, 700.

Haze: Schools in three states, Putrajaya, KL, Tawau, Kuching, Samarahan ordered to close by Suganthi Suparmaniam, Astro Awani | Published on October 18, 2015 21:27 MYT

Haze: Hundreds of passengers stranded after flights cancelled in Sabah; KOTA KINABALU (The Star/Asia News Network) - Five flights on the Tawau-Kota Kinabalu route have been cancelled due to the haze, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded in airports.

Are the products you buy connected to the haze? Supermarkets in Singapore including NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong have pulled the plug on the products of haze-linked firms. Here is a look at how some of these companies are connected to the fires in Indonesia and the products they sell. PUBLISHED: OCT 16, 2015

Hot spots doubled in Central Kalimantan Published Oct 4, 2015, 5:00 am SGT; Ministry data shows 12,327 fires registered last month compared to 5,574 a year ago by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja Indonesia Correspondent In Jakarta; Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province continued to be shrouded in thick haze as the Pollutant Standards Index in its capital Palangkaraya rose to 1,917 before sensors stopped sending updates after 11am yesterday. The province has been the worst hit by forest fires raging over land embedded with coal deposits that make them almost impossible to put out during this dry spell. This has led to a spike in the number of hot spots recorded by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, particularly in September this year. Data from the ministry show that Central Kalimantan - on Borneo island - registered 12,327 hot spots in September this year, compared with just 5,574 fires in the same month last year. South Sumatra, the other badly hit province, on Sumatra island saw about 11,450 hot spots, more t an three times the number in the same period last year. This brought the total number of hot spots in September to 39,672 this year, compared to just under 15,000 fires recorded last year...

SPECIAL REPORT - Tough to pinpoint haze culprits  Sep 15, 2015, 5:00 am SGT Poor law enforcement, corruption, unclear rules on land use hamper probes: Observers by David Fogarty and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja;  "Studies of fire and haze in Kalimantan and Sumatra firmly point towards small-scale farmers and other under-the-radar, mid-scale landowners rather than large companies as the main cause of fires and haze," wrote Dr Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist of the Borneo Futures initiative, in a recent commentary in the Jakarta Globe.... Evidence shows that the majority of fires usually occur outside timber, logging and oil palm concessions and that farmers are partly to blame. Complicating the picture further is that many pulpwood concessions have communities living inside them. In some cases, transmigrants illegally claim a piece of land by clearing it using fire and then planting crops - particularly in protected forest areas. Indonesian law allows farmers to clear forested land using fire, provided the ar a cleared does not exceed 2ha. "We have seen largely two types of actors involved in fires in Sumatra," Mr Aditya Bayunanda, WWF Indonesia's Forest Commodity Market Transformation Leader, told The Straits Times yesterday. "First of all, people are actively setting fires to clear lands, often as part of grabbing new lands. Land-grabbing has recently been increasing inside protected areas as much of Sumatra's lands had been leased to companies. Such illegal encroachments are often sponsored by companies, financiers or even government officials," said Mr Aditya, who is also a member of Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of local NGOs. Second, he said, oil palm and pulp plantations prime the landscape for fire by opening up lands, particularly flammable peat lands....

16 October 2015: Singapore moves on "haze-free" products - apart from wood, paper makers, SEC plans to work with others such as palm oil industry; REDD and Indonesia peatland burning

Editor's notes:
  • I had a chat with major supplier of stationery products who recently signed commitment to a big Singapore client to replace paper products currently supplied from APP (part of the Sinar Mas group). As trader in supply-chain, his company is looking at $15,000 of costs per year to be FSC certified; but it is expected that 5% higher prices for such products would cover higher cost of such certified product. In checking with Malaysia state policies, he indicates that the Federal policy is 5% take-up of a Malaysia "green tag" labeled products every year. APP is at the forefront as it has branded consumer products, whilst other suppliers who are not so vertically integrated have been less exposed in the Singapore consumer boycott push. The two big Indonesia pulp and paper companies are APP and APRIL. This trader is looking at supply from Thailand (no peat fire risk) and further afield for FSC (much of this from Scandinavia).
  •  I also had some feedback from another part of Malaysia - "Nothing changes, I recall the "Haze" 20 years ago: in Kuantan if the wind blew one way we got the smoke from Sumatra and if it blew the other way it came form Kalimantan. we went about 6 months without seeing the local hill with the phone masts on - all of 1km away!"
Can REDD save Indonesia’s peatlands from burning?   By Chris Lang 14 October 2015

14 October 2015: Singapore moves on "haze-free" products - apart from wood, paper makers, SEC plans to work with others such as palm oil industry

11 October 2015: $ billions of damages from haze, VW blames rogue engineers for emissions cheating! China Open tennis hit by hazardous smog "player screams vomit"

Smoky Haze Costing Southeast Asia Billions of Dollars - Fires in Indonesia, from land-clearing for agriculture, are affecting millions of people, releasing climate-changing gases; By Ben Otto  Oct. 9, 2015 7:22 a.m. ET JAKARTA, Indonesia—A smoky haze from land-clearing fires in Indonesia is choking Southeast Asia and causing billions of dollars in damages, threatening to become the worst event of its kind on record. The hazardous white smog mainly from agricultural fires on Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi islands has in recent weeks closed thousands of schools, grounded hundreds of flights and raised pollution levels in Indonesia. It has also hit...

Southeast Asia's Haze Explained 1:16 - with Greenpeace footage,'s%20Haze%20Explained

Volkswagen U.S. CEO Says He Didn’t Know in 2014 of Emissions Defeat Devices - Michael Horn tells lawmakers he was only told at the time about problems with emissions compliance in diesel cars, By Mike Spector and Amy Harder  Updated Oct. 9, 2015 8:31 a.m. ET;  "...rejected suggestions there was a broad conspiracy at the German auto maker to cheat on diesel-emissions tests, instead pointing to rogue engineers as likely culprits in the scandal.... "...

Player screams vomit at China Open, and in the stands, the facemask is increasingly standard equipment Friday October 9, 201506:00 PM GMT+8; BEIJING, Oct 9 — A player’s complaint that the smog made him vomit and the unflattering sight of fans in face masks have put Beijing’s notorious air pollution back in the spotlight after haze hit this week’s China Open. “Hazardous” levels of smog cleared by yesterday, but not before Martin Klizan’s angry tirade and pictures highlighting the murky air went worldwide on social and traditional media. In a widely reported Facebook post, since deleted, the Slovakian world number 42 said he coughed uncontrollably and then vomited after his defeat to Fabio Fognini, and vowed never to play at the tournament again. “Regardless of the result of today’s match... it has been such an extreme smog in Beijing today that half an hour after the beginning of the match I started to cough uncontrollably after every point and I had to vomit after the match,” the post read.  World No. 42 Martin Klizan, on his now deleted Facebook post: ‘Unfortunately, I will have to leave this tournament out from my calendar for the rest of my tennis career.’ — Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP file picWorld No. 42 Martin Klizan, on his now deleted Facebook post: ‘Unfortunately, I will have to leave this tournament out from my calendar for the rest of my tennis career.’ — Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP file pic“There is such an extreme smog in this city, that due to my health, which should be a priority of every tournament organiser, unfortunately, I will have to leave this tournament out from my calendar for the rest of my tennis career.” - See more at:

4 October 2015: Zahid - Indonesia’s 3-year plan to combat haze deemed too long, need to improve haze pollution measure, haze kills millions of chickens reduces vegetable production; Peninsular Malaysia closes most schools for Mon-Tue

Editor's note: Solutions unlikely to be rapid; note the intractable haze problems also noted in northern ASEAN haze belts too.... For those looking for kid N95 masks, they are pretty pricey. I've seen these so far, Vogmask and (a Singapore made/designed) disposable mask...  with micro ventilator add on... But what about all those living closer to the epicenter of the haze zones?

source:, accessed 2.55pm, 4 October 2015. Note: Basis of reporting in Malaysia is PM10 and Singapore and Indonesia uses PM2.5. Also the headline measure use different lagged averages of hourly data. 

Ahmad Zahid: Indonesia’s plan to combat haze deemed too long  by nadirah h. rodzi  Updated: Sunday October 4, 2015 MYT 12:23:41 PM....Last Tuesday, BBC reported Indonesian president Joko Widodo said he needed time to tackle the forest burning, and that his citizens were also victims of the haze that is affecting the region. In the report, Joko said it would take three years for results to be seen from efforts to end the huge annual fires, as it is "not a problem that you can solve quickly"...

Malaysia should follow Singapore in use of technology to measure haze pollution, Zahid says By Ida Lim Sunday October 4, 201512:19 PM GMT+8 - See more at:

Haze: Schools to close for two days by oh chin eng AND d. kanyakumari Updated: Sunday October 4, 2015 MYT 2:03:50 PM
 Haze forces closure of three airport runways  by rahmah ghazali Updated: Sunday October 4, 2015 MYT 11:03:57 AM

Haze choking Malaysian farms as chickens, vegetable production affected, Oct 2, 2015, 8:51 am SGT... PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The haze in Malaysia is affecting business at farms that rear poultry and produce vegetables as chickens die by the millions in a month and farm produce dwindle, with consumers set to be the biggest losers....He added that this was a big issue every year and that at times the mortality rate could rise up to four million of the 50 million that are produced in a month in peninsular Malaysia.... "Chickens are more sensitive to the haze than humans. They have respiratory problems and become weak. We have to give them vitamins. When they are weak, they are slow to grow and that is not good," said Loo, who is also a farmer....  "Many farmers try and keep the breeder chickens that are meant for culling alive so they can lay more eggs. But even hens become weak during the haze and lay fewer eggs," said Loo.... Sarawak Livestock Breeders Association chairman Lee Jin Chiaw said that egg production has dropped by about 2 per cent. In Johor, the owner of Lew Brothers Poultry Farm Sdn Bhd, Lew Kim Huat said that egg production at its two farms in Ulu Tiram and Layang had declined to about 5 per cent since the start of the haze. "Our hens are becoming restless and weak,'' he said adding that about 28,000 of the 700,000 birds also died due to suffocation, about twice the usual number of deaths.....

Malaysia and Indonesia to come up with long-term solution to haze problem   By ADRIAN LAI - 18 September 2015 @ 4:57 PM

Malaysia Evacuates Citizens From Haze-Hit Riau  - Vice President Jusuf Kalla, right, talks with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Jakarta on Friday. (Antara Photo/Milla/Setwapres) By : Basten Gokkon | on 6:56 PM September 18, 2015

29 September 2015: Rise of diesel in Europe was to reduce CO2 emissions but resulted in rise in deadly air pollution; How some smokers stay healthy: genetic factors revealed

The rise of diesel in Europe: the impact on health and pollution - In a bid to reduce CO2 emissions in the 90s, Europe backed a major switch from petrol to diesel cars but the result was a rise in deadly air pollution John Vidal Tuesday 22 September 2015 16.57 BST

VW Faces Barrage of Litigation - Plaintiffs’ lawyers move to consolidate suits filed on behalf of consumers By Mike Spector  Updated Sept. 29, 2015 3:25 a.m. ET  Lawyers are moving to consolidate widespread litigation stemming from  Volkswagen AG ’s emissions-cheating scandal, drawing the German auto maker into a prolonged legal case expected to spur rafts of depositions and demands for billions of dollars in damages.
VW urged to come clean over which UK diesel vehicles are affected - Lawyers acting for Volkswagen drivers in UK attack ‘lack of clarity’ as UK prime minister calls company’s actions unacceptable by Julia Kollewe Sunday 27 September 2015 17.50 BST

Take vehicles that fail diesel test off the streets to protect public health - Car industry and the government need to prove that cars can deliver clean emissions for the sake of public health  by Alan Andrews Saturday 26 September 2015 20.49 BST

How some smokers stay healthy: genetic factors revealed - British scientific team have identified certain DNA profiles at lower risk of a range of lung diseases and hope their findings might lead to better treatments; Damien Gayle Monday 28 September 2015 09.59 BST

28 September 2015 - Singapore media on the CIFOR finding on illegal market for burnt peatland, Hisham says haze situation needs to be discussed at regional level, schools closed in several Malaysian states today, graphics and photos and social media


Editor's note: Given the rather awkward multi-hour averaged PM10 measure (resulting in lower readings than many countries using PM2.5 measure with fewer hours average i.e. 1 hour average, 3 hour average) that Malaysia is using for the haze, there is a another “or” criteria of 500 meter visibility to decide on school closure. Lots of friends report being ill recently. Some quite sanguine about it, saying that one has to get exposure and "build immunity to this." At other end of spectrum are those worrying about tobacco equivalence. With severe El Nino outlook now and into mid-2016, just wondering how much time kids can spend in school during the next dry season! Also heard (but not confirmed) that school exams schedule has been shifted. Some KL-ites suffering haze symptoms reporting Zyrtec sold out - pharmacies are still waiting for new stock with new packaging due in November? (Thus, taking a substitute which seems less effective). Your editor has scratchy eyes and nose block after yesterday being somewhere not enclosed (discovered a door was open). More on the Singapore actions and viewpoints  - especially notable is CIFOR report on illegal land burning for sale to small-time investors.

source: accessed 4.43pm today

International media

How you can trade Southeast Asia's haze by Nyshka Chandran Wednesday, 23 Sep 2015 | 9:57 PM ET; ....The price of palm oil has rallied 7 percent in the past fortnight as a cloak of smog, combined with unusually dry weather, disrupts supply in key Southeast Asian producing countries, and analysts say the gains are set to continue....

Something from a reader, from a different perspective...  This is what happens when Harrison Ford meet Indonesian Minister of Foresty  by notfoundher  

Singapore media

Lucrative illegal market for crop land a key cause of fires: Researcher CIFOR  Published 5 hours ago by David Fogarty Assistant Foreign Editor; Dr Purnomo said there is a well- established market for abandoned or conflict land, with land cleared by burning fetching a premium. Using excavators and other heavy equipment to clear the land is costly and time- consuming. "You need to understand that the fire and haze create a lot of money. Quite a lot of money. There is a market for burned land and also it is a way for cheap and quick land preparation for HTI (pulpwood) and oil palm," he told The Straits Times in an interview last week. "Because if you grab the land, the forest - it can be concession land or state land - you can sell it. My research shows that the price is around eight million rupiah (S$800) per hectare. But if you burn that land, the price will increase," he said. "Some people can claim that land and can sell to the network of people. And the buyers can be someone in Jakarta, Bogor, everywhere... It can be 10ha, 20 or even 100ha." Data shows mid-level investors can come from places outside Indonesia, such as Malaysia, he added. According to Dr Purnomo, the price per hectare is US$665 (S$950) after the land is slashed and cut. If the land is burned, the price goes up about US$200 per hectare: a more or less 30 per cent rise. "There is a market for people who mostly prepare for oil palm. You can imagine if they grow the oil palm, after three years, then the price of that land can reach US$3,077 per ha," he said, basing his research on land prices in Sumatra's Riau province.

Singapore clamps down on five firms over haze - Legal action started; govt leaders also speak out against Indonesian officials' comments by Chang Ai-Lien and Audrey Tan, Published Sep 26, 2015, 5:00 am SGT; ...Naming the firms for the first time yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan stressed that the haze was a man-made problem that should not be tolerated. "Ultimately, errant companies must know that there is a price to be paid for damaging our health, environment and economy," he said...yesterday served Singapore-listed firm Asia Pulp and Paper a legal notice to supply information on its subsidiaries in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as measures taken by its suppliers in Indonesia to put out fires in their concessions. Four Indonesian companies - Rimba Hutani Mas, Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and Wachyuni Mandira - have been told to take measures to extinguish fires on their land, not to start new ones, and submit action plans on how they will prevent future fires.
Under Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, those guilty can be fined up to $100,000 a day, capped at $2 million, for causing unhealthy haze.....

Indonesia VP Kalla reiterates that Indonesia does not need to apologise to neighbours over haze  Published Sep 25, 2015, 8:02 pm SGT

Malaysia media

7 more delays, 1 cancellation of flights at Kuching airport Published: 28 September 2015 9:27 PM - See more at:

Haze: Hisham falls ill  by t. avineshwaran Updated: Sunday September 27, 2015 MYT 3:30:46 PM  PETALING JAYA: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has fallen ill because of the haze.  “Jerebu masih teruk (Haze is still terrible) - I have already lost my voice and my nose is blocked,” he tweeted Sunday. He also replied to some tweets on the haze situation and urged people to stay indoors. “I'm asthmatic too - keep him indoors,” he advised a user named @keantee whose son has asthma.  Hishammuddin also agreed that the haze situation should be discussed at regional level as it appears to becoming a yearly affair. The air quality here and in areas like Putrajaya, Port Klang, Shah Alam and Batu Muda has worsened as the API readings reached very unhealthy levels. Schools in several states will also be closed on Monday.

Haze forces some schools to shut  Updated: Monday September 28, 2015 MYT 7:29:13 AM

Planters under fire over haze;.... "Oil palm planters who carry out proper peatland development and water management at their estates should be given a pat on the back for preventing the spread of peat fire. Instead, what we see is a stab in the back of planters. Such false allegations are sinful," Daud said. "Do you know that professional planters practising modern agriculture invest a lot of money in heavy machinery to clear the land, compact the peat soil and dig up a maze of trenches? "This is to compress the peat soil and keep it moist so that the oil palms can grow properly and yield to their potential. Incidentally, this process makes the soil less flammable and retards fire from spreading underground," he said.Most of the oil palm estates in Riau are matured and bearing fruits. "So, why would planters want to set fire and destroy their oil palms?" asked Daud, adding the maze of trenches filled with water at peat area, which are transportation routes in the estates is doubling up as fire barriers, too. When asked to comment on satellite pictures showing many hotspots across Sumatera and Kalimantan as indicative of fiery blaze within plantation concessions, Daud replied, "we must take note that in Indonesia, 20 per cent of the land bank is under the plasma scheme, of which smallholders occupy scattered enclaves within the estates."  He noted that one must not discount the possibility that fire-causing haze could have been started by the local communities for shifting cultivation of cash crops in these enclaves....

Social media

27 September 2015 - Singapore has started legal action against companies associated with the Sumatran fires, the cause is peat zone development, the health impacts - more people die from air pollution than Malaria and HIV/Aids

On Malaysia

Education minister: Schools affected by haze to close if visibility below 500 meters Sunday September 27, 201507:02 PM GMT+8 - See more at:

Malaysian planters in Indonesia not involved in burning, say investors (VIDEO) Sunday September 27, 201506:04 PM GMT+8 - See more at:
Malaysia’s API data not up to par, says PKR rep as haze worsens Published: 27 September 2015 11:23 AM;

Ministry defends API readings, says it abides by international protocols Sunday September 27, 201504:57 PM GMT+8; It stressed that API readings are based on the amount of dust particles measuring smaller than 10 micrometres (PM10) over a 24-hour period — which is then used to calculate the level of risk on public health.... Earlier today, the education ministry ordered the closure of all schools in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur and in the districts of Sri Aman and Kota Samarahan in Sarawak as API readings spiked to unhealthy levels. The haze reading in Shah Alam reached a very unhealthy level with an API of 281, with many parts of the peninsula also registering deteriorating levels. Port Klang also recorded a bad API at 252. - See more at:

DOE says four areas in Peninsula Malaysia record unhealthy API reading Saturday September 26, 201511:39 AM GMT+8 - See more at:

Subang Airport reopens after more than three-hour closure due to haze Saturday September 26, 201510:31 PM GMT+8 - See more at:

From Singapore - on cause of peat smog haze,

**Is S’pore helpless about the haze? Not really September 25, 2015 by Terry Xu in TOC Reports; Are you wondering why companies have gone unpunished despite the yearly forest fires and why Singapore seems to be helpless when it comes to it? Well, one would definitely be puzzled by the above questions given the myths that surround the annual haze faced by Singapore, such as the cause of the haze and Singapore’s inability to take action on foreign land. The root cause of the haze, not trees but peat....Last year, TOC – together with non-governmental organisation, PM Haze – travelled to Riau, Indonesia, to visit the plantations and the government officials to find out the root cause of the smog, and from there, to consider if there could be any viable solutions to the problem.... The first thing that everyone has to understand is that the main culprit of the haze is not the burning of trees or shrubs but peat soil/land. Mere wood and vegetation would not have caused such volumes of smoke over such a long period of time even if it is the whole forest being burned to the ground. The land that Indonesia has leased out to plantation owners are largely peatland, which are swamp full of decomposing organic material which would eventually turn into fossil fuel in another million odd years.... Companies which claim they do not practice slash-and-burn cultivation are telling half-truths because as long as  they drain the peatland of water and leave it unattended, it is just a matter of time and circumstances that the land will catch fire. After the fire have ceased, they can claim ignorance and go ahead with the cultivation. Not to mention that canals are often dug deeper than the allowed depth by the Indonesian government which precipitates the effect. Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace International’s head for the Indonesia Forest’s campaign against the forest fires, said, “Year after year, Indonesia’s forest fires and haze wreak havoc on the region, and the palm oil sector is a main culprit.” He added, “While RSPO members might have no-fire policies, the peat land they have cleared and drained is like a tinderbox – one spark is all it takes.” What can be done is to dam up the canals and allow the peatland to be “wet” again so when someone or a company conducts slash-and-burn, the unattended land would not be burned as well. Of course, in order for that to happen, companies need to be pressured to take action to dam up land that the companies have said that they would not be using, instead of paying lip service of doing so and waiting for the eventuality....

**It’s the tiny things in the haze, not its look or smell, that matter by Linette Lai, Friday, Sep 25, 2015; ..... Air pollution researcher Erik Velasco of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology's Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling said: "The low visibility and acrid smell associated with the haze... are subjective and cannot be used to measure air quality."Instead, one of the best ways to determine how unhealthy the air is in real time is to look at the one-hour PM2.5 levels published by the National Environment Agency (NEA), say experts..... In a study conducted in 2013 - when the three-hour PSI level hit a record 401 during the haze - environmental engineer Rajasekhar Balasubramanian looked at the health risks for a person who has been exposed to haze for a prolonged period of time.He found that if Singapore were to be exposed for 10 days every year for 70 years to air pollution levels similar to those recorded during the June 20 to June 28 haze period, an average of 18 people in a million could get cancer in their lifetimes.He also collected air samples between Sept 12 and Oct 2 when there was no haze. The risk of developing cancer fell to 12 in a million people for the non-haze period.... To put things in perspective, on a day when PM2.5 levels hit 100mcg per cubic m, a person will take in around 1,100mcg of these pollutants if he stays outdoors throughout the day.For comparison, a smoker will inhale between 10,000mcg and 40,000mcg of PM2.5 pollutants for every cigarette consumed.The average healthy person should not be unduly worried about the levels of haze experienced this year, say experts."We should be objective," said respiratory specialist Yap Wee See of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital."When the haze is at a lower level, slight modifications to your lifestyle to reduce exposure are probably enough," said Dr Yap.If PM2.5 readings rise above 100, for example, it might be a good idea to move that evening run to an indoor gym. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic conditions should also take greater care to avoid the haze. - See more at:

Sg Gov’t gets tough with errant companies responsible for haze September 26, 2015; Dr Balakrishnan revealed that the National Environment Agency (NEA) has begun legal proceedings against five companies which it believes are among those responsible for the fires in the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Kalimantan....  On Friday, the NEA served legal papers on Singapore-listed firm, Asia Pulp and Paper, which has an office in Singapore, to supply information on its subsidiaries in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as measures taken by its suppliers in Indonesia to put out fires in their concessions, the Straits Times reported. Four other companies, all Indonesian ones, have also been issued Preventative Measure Notices, and ordered to take measures to extinguish fires on land which they own, and to prevent new fires from being started. “It cannot be tolerated,” Dr Balakrishnan said. “It has caused major impact on the health, society and economy of our region.”

HAZE – PA to distribute masks, open air-con rooms in RCs and CCs to public September 25, 2015 by Andrew Loh Grassroots volunteers of the People’s Association (PA) will be distributing N95 masks on Friday, 25 September 2015, from 10am to 10pm at all 108 Community Clubs islandwide. These masks will be given to vulnerable and needy Singaporeans and Singapore PRs with blue CHAS Card or Pioneer Generation Card, as well as ComCare recipients above 62 or with longer term medical issues, the PA said on its website. PA Grassroots Volunteers will also organise home visits to residents who are immobile or sick as well as elderly with medical conditions and living alone. The PA said it is also opening its air-conditioned rooms in its Residents’ Committees and Community Clubs to members of the public who may seek respite from the haze which has engulfed Singapore again. The PSI readings reached the “hazardous” level on Thursday.

On health impacts of air pollution

More people die from air pollution than Malaria and HIV/Aids, new study shows - More than 3 million people die prematurely each year from outdoor pollution and without action deaths will double by 2050 by Damian Carrington Wednesday 16 September 2015 18.00 BST

Pollution Killing 9,500 Londoners Revives Mayor’s Heathrow Plea July 15, 2015 — 6:17 PM HKTUpdated on July 15, 2015 — 7:25 PM HKT; ....About 5,900 deaths were the result of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced by diesel engines, according to the report released Wednesday by King’s College London for the mayor’s office. The remainder were due to particulate pollution known as PM2.5s....

China Air Pollution Kills 4,000 People a Day: Researchers  by  Alex Morales  August 14, 2015 — 2:00 AM HKT Updated on August 14, 2015 — 1:09 PM HKT; ....Deaths related to the main pollutant, tiny particles known as PM2.5s that can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma, total 1.6 million a year, or 17 percent of China’s mortality level...

Air pollution causes low birth weight, Beijing study shows - The reduction in air pollution achieved during the 2008 Beijing Olympics resulted in an increase in birth weight, new research has shown by Karl Mathiesen Tuesday 28 April 2015 19.00 BST;... The reduction in air pollution achieved during the 2008 Beijing Olympics resulted in an increase in birth weight, new research has shown...

Chinese Man Sues His Polluted Hometown for Cost of Fighting Smog  February 25, 2014 — 3:45 PM HKT; The lawsuit reflects growing public concern over air pollution in China and smog’s effects on human health. Smog here has reached an “unbearable stage,” the government’s top climate-change adviser, Li Junfeng, said Feb. 23, and the topic is likely to be addressed when the country’s leaders gather March 5 for the annual two-week meeting of the National People’s Congress. “Li Guixin couldn’t take a walk or run like the past as air quality worsened and he also has to wear a mask now when he goes out,” said Wu, who also lives in Shijiazhuang. “His case is relevant for everyone in our city.” ...

Diesel-linked air pollution and VW diesel emissions cheating scandal

U.S. EPA Toughens Emissions Oversight After VW Cheating by  Jeff Plungis September 25, 2015 — 8:42 PM HKTUpdated on September 25, 2015 — 11:58 PM HKT

No Cheating Needed. Europe's Lax Laws Make Diesel Tests a Snap by  Naomi Kresge,  Brian Parkin and Jonathan Stearns  September 23, 2015 — 11:37 PM HKT; Automakers sometimes strip 300 pounds from cars before testing. "This cynical chicanery must end," says an EU lawmaker... The European Union allows manufacturers to optimize results with tactics such as stripping the car of excess weight or removing the air conditioner, according to Tuev Sued, a German company that performs tests for carmakers. Such strategies have contributed to a widening gap between reported results for diesels and the pollution that really comes out of their tailpipes, according to Lucia Caudet, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, the regulatory arm of the EU. “Emissions of diesel vehicles measured on the road may in reality substantially, without any wrongdoing, exceed nitrogen oxides measured” in the lab, Caudet said in an e-mail....Europe’s diesel emission levels are already higher than what’s allowed in the U.S. The cars that are tested are called “golden samples” and differ greatly from the vehicles consumers might buy, said Vincenzo Luca, a spokesman for Tuev Sued, the German testing company. After manufacturers strip out various components, the cars typically weigh 100 kg (220 lb) to 150 kg less than production models. “Every legal possibility to reduce emissions is exploited,” Luca said. “We test within the limits of EU law.”...

Pahang bauxite crisis and Felda settlers (update 3a): Chat with a local observer on bauxite riches hope of the 10 acre smallholder, topsoil could be kept for restoration to planting

Editor's note: Escalation of the bauxite mining problem in Pahang with January's 3 month stop-work and MACC investigation. Speaking with a Pahang politician, I hear that there had been less opposition (compared to the Lynas rare earth processing plant) as more locals have financial benefit from the bauxite mining and its supply-chain.

3 February 2016: Chat with a local observer on bauxite riches hope of the 10 acre smallholder

Update from a reader, 3 Feb afternoon: It should be possible for the smallholders with the help of a competent lawyer to insist when they sell the bauxite in their land, that the topsoil be carefully stored to one side of the site and leveled back over the site when mining is complete. There is no reason why oil palms should not grow as well as before under such conditions. This is a regular requirement in Australian mining contracts.

Editor's note: I was recently on the line with a Kuantan-based businessman - a keen local observer. Some background information on the economic calculus for smallholders and mining as follows,

a) For oil palm 10 acre lot (e.g. Felda smallholder), the outlook is that the (illegal?) miner clears the land in 3 months and pays RM 7-10 per tonne, and then it also depends on yield. The smallholder hopes to earn RM1-1.5 million. However the more likely payout may be RM700k-RM1.5 million. A 10 acre plot has about 200,000 tonnes of material. Palm oil experts say that it is not possible to replant oil palm on this land any more.

b) The 3-month moratorium was a bad hit, as this makes some of these deals null and void. Politicians have been greatly concerned about the interest of these smallholders.

c) Locals point out that the China buyers came to Malaysia because Indonesia stopped exporting. These buyers are paying US$29-30 per tonne, and if you clean up the clay a bit you can get US$60/tonne.

d) If you drive your car from the mining area to the Kuantan Port, the entire road is red-desert dusty. During the monsoon season, when this is combined with dust, your car is "repainted" red.

Picture screenshot source:

Others in the palm oil sector have written: Felda settlers are cutting down their palm trees to allow bauxite to be mined on their land. This is very short term once off gain. Once the top soil is removed it will take 10-20 years before oil palm can be planted again so there is no income from the palm fruits until then. Simple maths for 4 hectares of palm oil planted. Once off bauxite payment is RM300,000 (if it is really paid). Loss of continuous income for years at RM50,000 per year. In addition to the social economic issues there are also serious environmental issues.

11 January 2016: News links

Front page of The Star, 11 January 2016

Miners threaten violence BY QISHIN TARIQ 11 January 2016; ... Offers of money, con men and threats of violence have become the bane of families living in the Felda settlement in Bukit Goh here ever since the area was identified as a huge deposit of the “red gold” – bauxite. Settler Mohd Hamdi Shuib, 49, said his father went into depression after being conned by contractors who wanted to mine the family’s 10ha lot. He said the contractors offered RM200,000 but after paying RM40,000 and clearing off the family’s palm trees, they did not mine the land or pay the balance. “Ayah pening (My father doesn’t know what to do),” he said. Without palm trees to harvest and no payment from the miners, the money quickly ran out, as settlers are required to pay Felda RM47,000 in replanting fees if they cut down their trees. “Luckily, it was a contract kedai kopi which allowed us to exit the deal,” said Mohd Hamdi, adding that many other settlers were not as lucky. He said the contractors threatened his family when he approached other contractors to do the mining. “But nothing untoward happened.”....

Solace in moratorium BY AFIQ ISA  11 January 2016; ... The moratorium concerns three key stages. The first is to clear all stockpiles at the Kuantan Port. The second is to remove stockpiles outside of port areas, which are said to have contributed to the pollution of the sea. The last stage is the construction of a central area to house washing and storage facilities for the bauxite deposits to be stored. Abd Wahid added that a lack of infrastructure to handle ore and bauxite deposits had exacerbated the problems in Kuantan, where large stockpiles are kept in open fields, while part of the deposits may seep into the sea. The moratorium will no doubt be a short-term pinch for operators who currently trade or mine bauxite in the state.

Kuantan folk avoiding raw water and fishing  11 January 2016

Buyers fear harm from fish BY FOONG PEK YEEandADRIAN CHAN 11 January 2016; Consumers buying fish here are being extra careful – they fear the controversial bauxite mining in Kuantan, about 195km away may have caused environmental pollution and eating the fish may prove harmful. At the Bentong market here, a fishmonger identified only as Wong said there were those who were scared to eat fish from Kuantan for health reasons. “Falling sick is very costly these days,” she said, referring to the high cost of medical treatment, when met at the Bentong market here. She said she and her husband had been fishmongers for some 20 years and they sourced their fish from the Selayang wholesale market in Selangor. She said there were several factors affecting the price of fish, and she reckoned that the bauxite scare might have resulted in a slight rise in prices recently...

Potential bauxite ban may dent China stockpiles 5 January 2016; A potential suspension on bauxite mining in Malaysia, the world’s top exporter of the aluminium-making ingredient, could dent stockpiles in China but is unlikely to curb breakneck output in the aluminium sector there, industry and analysts said yesterday.... World prices for aluminium, used in everything from planes and trains to packaging, sank to their lowest in more than six years last November as China grapples with oversupply fuelled by its slowing economy. That forced China’s loss-making industry to band together to pledge production cuts, with markets looking out for any other signs output could ease.... “A suspension in Malaysian bauxite mining will impact stockpiles, but it won't impact China's metal production,” said Paul Adkins, managing director of consultancy AZ China. He added that a three-month ban could shave about six million tonnes off China’s current bauxite stockpiles of around 25-30 million tonnes. Malaysia accounted for over 40% of China’s 49 million tonnes of bauxite imports across January to November last year.... The country’s largely unregulated bauxite mining industry has grown rapidly since Indonesia banned exports of the material in early 2014, forcing China to seek supplies elsewhere...

The bauxite boom or bane BY AFIQ ISAandINTAN FARHANA ZAINUL 19 December 2015

MB wrong, bauxite mining killing our businesses, say locals BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA 8 January 2016  - See more at:

10 January 2016 - News links

NGO prepared to help curb abuse by bauxite miners by Bernama | Published on January 10, 2016; It is learnt, 248 of the 762 Bukit Goh settlers had allowed bauxite mining on their land involving an area of 1,005.6 hectares since 2013 to date.   Wahid was also fo the view that the three-month moratorium starting from Jan 15 as sufficient and it was not necessary to extend it as the mining activities are a source of income for the settlers involved. "We abide by the decision for a three-month halt to give time to the government to improve all earlier weaknesses," he said.

Settler has no regrets turning down RM1mil bauxite offer  10 January 2016; KUANTAN: A resident of Kampung Felda Bukit Goh is determined not to lease her land for bauxite mining despite getting an offer of RM1mil as payment.   Salwani Tajuddin, 37, said even though many of the villagers had become “instant millionaires” after leasing their land, their lives seemed to be listless...Salwani said early last year, she was approached by a man who offered her a deposit of RM500,000 to mine bauxite in her four-hectare oil palm plantation, which she rejected.   She said the man, however, came back a few days later to offer a higher amount of RM1mil.   "After I turn down the RM1mil offer, the man was furious and said I was 'stupid' for rejecting that much money.   "But for me, those who lease their land to bauxite operators are the real losers as the money can only last for a while, and their land will not return to its previous condition," she said. As a settler for the last 18 years, Salwani said she did not want her land to be affected by bauxite mining activities. She was also approached by the same man a few months later requesting that her land be used as a “stockpile” area for lorries and bauxite ore with a payment of RM5,000 monthy but she turned it down.... Her father Tajuddin Harun, 68, who runs a food stall at the village said bauxite operators did not fulfil their promise to provide a monthly compensation of RM1,000 for every trader and RM500 for every house.   Tajuddin said he only received a compensation of RM1,000 in November.  "Instead, business is affected as not many customers are patronising our stalls due to the dust from the lorries carrying bauxite. And I am forced to fork out RM6,000 to instal this canvas (to cover the stall)," he added. - Bernama

MACC nabs three more over illegal bauxite mining 10 January 2016

Three more arrested for allegedly protecting illegal bauxite miners  by danial albakri 9 January 2016; “All the individuals, aged between 44 and 59 years of age, are members of the public.  “They are believed to have acted as middlemen in the illegal sale of mineral ore transportation documents or Form 13D to unlicensed miners.    “They have been remanded for seven days starting today in order to aid in the investigation following Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009,” it said. The MACC said it was still conducting investigations to locate those who were involved in bribery that allowed illegal mining activity that accumulated an estimated total of RM187mil in lost royalty last year.

Transport Ministry wants bauxite-hauling lorries to slow down  by adrian chan 9 January 2016; "They are a danger to residents and are polluting the environment," he said, referring to the clouds of bauxite dust that lorries kick up. Liow said the proposal was being studied at present, believing that the limit could be lowered.  He added that if drivers continue to flaunt the rules, the Ministry would be forced to impose a "black box" ruling on all lorries transporting bauxite to automatically limit its speed. The Ministry, according to Liow, was also planning to restrict the number of routes allowed for transporting bauxite. "We also want to ensure lorries are cleaned and covered up before driving on main roads," he said.

Perlis mufti: Pollution from bauxite mining more dangerous than vape  8 January 2016

Pahang princess glad but questions duration of bauxite mining ban   8 January 2016

Earlier news

Putrajaya not learning from past mistakes, says Rafidah over bauxite controversy Published: 7 January 2016 - See more at:

Fishermen claim their livelihood affected by bauxite contamination by Bernama | Published on January 03, 2016; "For years we have endured hardship as a result of bauxite mining activities, our income is affected due to poor 'harvest' how long will this persist?  "In the past, we can easily catch 50kg mackerels, but now it is so hard to even get 10kg," he told Bernama here, Saturday.  Che Daud said the situation became serious during the recent monsoon season where the water in the coastal areas including the Balok beach had been contaminated with minerals.  Another fisherman Mustaffa Ibrahim, 52, claimed that the red bauxite-contaminated water not only affected the Balok river and Batu Hitam beach but also the ship route carrying the mineral from the Kuantan Port....

Stopping the red tide  31 December 2015; BAUXITE mining in Pahang and Terengganu which generates millions in revenue, yet appears to be running riot now, will need regulatory tightening to protect the health, quality of life and environmental future of affected communities. And, reining in illegal miners is central to the exercise. There has been a tremendous surge in unregulated bauxite mining activities in the two states, largely to satisfy the hungry Chinese market following Indonesia’s ban on the export of bauxite ore, used for aluminium production. Notwithstanding the economic benefits, the feeling is that the unregulated multimillion ringgit industry is doing more harm than good, as people in Pahang have begun to observe even seawater turning red.... The latest incident took place yesterday, when the normally clear water between Sungai Pengorak and Pantai Batu Hitam in Pahang turned murky red, after heavy rain from Sunday until Tuesday. Some residents living along the beach believe that the phenomenon was caused by extensive bauxite mining activities which had blown clouds of red dust towards the sea. There was no official explanation for the occurrence, but environmentalists have said that local rivers and the shores along Kuantan were frequently stained red from mining run-off. Residents have also complained of a rise in respiratory problems and skin rashes. Prolonged exposure to polluted water and red dust from bauxite mining can increase the risk of developing cancer, say experts. Marine life, too, will suffer... In August, the NST Special Probes Team, through a series of articles, highlighted the issue of environmental deterioration and toxic contamination of water from bauxite residue. Independent laboratory tests had revealed that water samples from the affected areas contained high levels of heavy metals and traces of radioactive, which were hazardous to humans.... Alarmed residents in Pahang wonder if they can trust the authorities to act in their interest. They accuse the authorities of turning a blind eye to what is happening. The illegal miners have allowed greed to overtake their principles. They are reaping a windfall — earning up to RM66 million a month — from the uncontrolled mining of bauxite and it would be hard to stop them, unless the authorities act swiftly and decisively. There are indications that leaders are responding to the alarm raised, and rightly, too. Pahang revoked the licences of 34 mining contractors in July, and Terengganu made the move to freeze all bauxite mining applications in September...

Pahang MB lashes out at bauxite industry players  by ong han seanandqishin tariq 17 December 2015; “I have met, at least four times, with the operators, contractors and transport operators advising them to take into consideration the hardship the people are experiencing due to their irresponsible mode of extracting the ore. “Sadly, this advice has fallen on deaf ears,” he said. The Federal Government also stepped in to help. “InsyaAllah, the state government will come up with a comprehensive plan to manage this issue by the end of the year. “In the final analysis, the social benefit and welfare of the innocent common people must outweigh whatever economic benefits,” said Adnan. The Mentri Besar also expressed his appreciation to the press for reporting on the bauxite mining activities in Pahang. The Star on its front page yesterday reported about experts raising the red flag that the bauxite mining areas in Pahang could cause dangerous mudslides and worsen floods if monsoon rains lash the state.  Even those who support the mining activities are calling for a stop until the rains go away....

Bauxite mining probe hits IPO-bound Spring Energy By F Saad Friday, 16 Oct 2015; Spring Energy Resources Bhd’s bauxite mining – and therefore its initial public offering (IPO) – may hit a snag after the Pahang government’s decision to revoke most bauxite-mining licences. “A large portion of the company’s future income is meant to come from bauxite mining. In any case, the state is looking into all bauxite mining, legal and otherwise, which could interrupt the day-to-day processes of the business and slow income. This means the company must come up with alternatives and approach the Securities Commission to see if it can go ahead with the IPO,” says an investment banker.Bukit Goh near Kuantan, occupied mainly by Felda settlers, was in the spotlight in July after it was found mining in the Felda settlement was not sanctioned.Many settlers say they have been cheated by miners who had promised payment in return for mining on oil-palm plantations. Felda has since ceased all mining in the area.That month, Pahang’s government revoked the mineral-ore licences of 34 contractors, as mining in the state grew rampant. Only 11 operators have been allowed to continue. - See more at:

Sue bauxite miners yourselves, Pahang MB tells Felda settlers Published: 18 July 2015; ...He said the Felda settlers would have to file the suits themselves because the state government was unable to press criminal charges against the bauxite miners who had struck a deal with the settlers. "The (state) government cannot help them. If they have been cheated, they can sue the other party, but it is not easy," he said at his Aidilfitri open house yesterday. googletag.cmd.push(function() {googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1400601790726-3');}); It had been reported that miners had offered between RM50,000 and RM100,000 to the Felda settlers to extract bauxite from their land now planted with oil palm....It had been reported that 71 settlers in Bukit Goh, who had allowed their land to be mined for bauxite, claimed they had been cheated in the deal. Some of these settlers had received a notice from the Land and Mines Office stating that they had committed an offence by mining without a licence or not having mortgaged their land legally under the Mineral Enactment 2001. They face the possibility of being fined up to RM500,000 or sentenced to a maximum jail term of 10 years, or both, upon conviction. – Bernama, July 18, 2015. - See more at: