Thursday, April 23, 2015

IJM's outlook downgraded to negative, debt notes reaffirmed by MARC


MARC: IJM Corp outlook downgraded to negative

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Rating Corp (MARC) has affirmed its AA- rating on IJM Corp Bhd’s RM1 billion debt notes but downgraded its outlook to negative from stable.

The ratings agency said decline in palm price to current low levels of RM2,200 per tonne and the weak near-term outlook of the sector would likely drag IJM’s plantation division’s earnings.

MARC also noted that the slowdown in the property sector has seen demand moderating at several of IJM’s projects.

MARC said IJM's RM1 billion debt notes involved the commercial paper/medium-term notes programme (CP/MTN).The outstanding notes under the programme comprise RM300 million CPs and RM250 million MTNs.

“IJM's borrowings have steadily increased, standing at RM6.3 billion as at end-December 2014,” MARC said, adding at the holding company level, the borrowings amounted to RM1.3 billion.

The rating agency highlighted IJM’s funding of infrastructure projects and capital requirements for its oil palm plantings in Indonesia could further pressurise its credit profile.

On the other hand, MARC observes that IJM’s orderbook for construction division has improved to about RM7.2 billion as at end-financial year 2015. “The improved prospects for the construction division may provide some buffer against weaker performance in the other divisions,” it said.

Going forward, MARC may raise the group's outlook to stable if it is able to show financial resilience in restoring cash flow protection measures.- New Straits Times

IJM’s debt notes rating reaffirmed, MARC also revises the company's long-term rating to negative from stable 

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) has affirmed its AA- rating on IJM Corp Bhd’s RM1bil debt notes.

In a statement yesterday, MARC said it had also revised IJM Corp’s long-term rating to negative from stable, due to the challenging outlook for the company’s core business.

“The negative outlook incorporates the challenging prospects for IJM group’s core businesses, namely, the palm oil and property development sectors, from which the group generated a combined 45.3% and 60.6% revenue and pre-tax profit for fiscal 2014,” said the rating house.

MARC added that the sharp decline in palm oil prices from last year and the weak near-term outlook for the sector would drag the group’s plantation division earnings.

“The sharp decline in palm oil prices since April 2014 from RM2,800 per tonne to about RM2,200 per tonne currently and the weak near-term outlook for the sector would further weigh on the group’s plantation division earnings.”

The rating agency also said the slowdown in the property sector had seen demand moderating for several of IJM’s property development projects.

“Against this backdrop, MARC observes that group borrowings have steadily increased, standing at RM6.3bil as at end-December 2014. At the holding company level, its borrowings stood at RM1.3bil as at end-December 2014,” it said.

Meanwhile, MARC said the RM1bil debt notes involve the commercial paper/medium-term notes programme (CP/MTN). The outstanding notes under the programme comprise RM300mil CPs and RM250mil MTNs.

It said the funding for the group’s infrastructure projects and capital requirements could add further pressure on its credit profile.

MARC noted, however, that the group’s orderbook for its construction division had improved to about RM7.2bil as at end-financial year 2015.

“The improved prospects for the construction division may provide some buffer against the weaker performance of the other divisions,” it said.

Going forward, the rating agency said it may revise the group’s outlook to stable, if the group was able to show financial resilience in restoring cashflow protection measures, reflecting the credit strength.

“The long-term rating, however, could be lowered should key financial metrics deteriorate due to weakening performance of key business segments and/or additional increase in borrowings,” it said.

Separately, BIMB Securities Research said it was optimistic on the related-party transaction involving the transfer of The Light Waterfront development in Penang from Jelutong Development Sdn Bhd to Aura Hebat Sdn Bhd (AHSB). Both companies are subsidiaries of IJM Corp.

“We are positive on the development, as it will provide an avenue for prodigious development on the land.

“No significant impact to our 2015 and 2016 earnings forecast, as construction will start later in the year,” said the research house.

AHSB will acquire The Light Waterfront development from Jelutong Development, an 80%-owned subsidiary of IJM Properties Sdn Bhd, for RM402.8mil, subject to, among others, the receipt of documents of title to the property from the relevant Penang authorities..

Sources: The Star/Asia News Network

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

FireEye threats of cyber espionage loom with the coming 26th Asean Summit in Malaysia

Photo by hfuchs/Relaxnews.

PETALING JAYA: Regional government and military officials, businessmen and journalists involved with the coming 26th Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur could be among the targets of a recently discovered cyber espionage group, claims an Internet security firm.

 
https://www.fireeye.com/

FireEye, which exposed the presence of the APT30 group of hackers snooping on governments and businesses, including those in South-East Asia, said some of its previous attacks had been launched before key Asean meetings.

“Based on previous experience, I believe that this group and possibly others will try to use that meeting (26th Asean Summit) as part of their ruse to potentially target businesses and governments in the region,” said Bryce Boland, FireEye’s chief technology officer for Asia Pacific in a telephone interview here yesterday.

In its report, FireEye, which is based in the United States, said APT30 had a distinct interest in organisations and governments associated with Asean.

The group had released a malware in the run-up to the 18th Asean Summit in Jakarta in 2011 and the Asean-India commemorative Summit in 2012.

One of the domain names it used to command its malware was aseanm.com

AFP had reported that the APT30 group was “most likely sponsored by China” and that there was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government, which had always denied allegations of cyber espionage.

The two-day Asean Summit from April 26 is expected to discuss various issues, including maritime disputes between China and Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea, and the formation of a single market and production base in the region.

“The hackers are after intelligence and information, primarily about political changes, political positions, especially over disputed territories, border disputes and trade negotiations,” said Boland.

“We have also seen that when they target journalists, they are specifically looking for information in relation to understanding concerns about the legitimacy of the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” he said.

The group has also attacked businesses to steal information on deals, manufacturing plans and intellectual property such as schematic diagrams.

According to the FireEye report, Malaysia is one of seven countries with targets hit by the group, which has operated largely undetected for the past 10 years.

Others are Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, India and the United States.

Boland said the group mostly attacked their targets via spear phishing emails with attachments that appeared to be from a known contact but were in reality sent by the hackers.

The attachment, which can be in the form of a document with an Asean-related title, will contain a customised malware that is activated the moment that it is opened.

It allows the attacker to gain control of the victim’s computer and retrieve information from it.

Boland advised computer users not to open suspicious e-mails.

“Businesses and governments should ensure that their IT infrastructure not only protects them from attacks but can detect the extent of damage done in the event of a successful hack.”

By Razak Ahmad The Star/Asia News Network


Related:

 FireEye: Cyber Security & Malware Protection

Monday, April 20, 2015

Regional issues today developed from the past to predict the future, the winds of change in Asia

To appreciate how issues today had developed from the past is also to understand how they are likely to develop in the future.
 
"Since Sultan Mahmud Shah of 15th-century Malacca at least, Malay rulers have had no problems with a powerful China".


MANY people can be so absorbed by specific issues as to neglect the larger picture that created them. Thus much misunderstanding persists of the issues themselves.

This failure to see the wood for the trees also affects many professional analysts or “country watchers”.

Putting issues in the news in their proper context is crucial.

In the late 1980s, economic growth in East Asia had become both contagious and self-evident. Talk of the coming 21st century as “the Century of Asia and the Pacific” had been gathering momentum.

After Japan’s stellar economic performance from the 1970s, rapid growth would visit the East Asian “tigers” – Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan – then the other countries of South-East Asia and then China.

Few countries at the time could see that never before in history had both Japan and China, old rivals with their historical baggage still in hand, achieve economic ascendancy at the same time like now – but Malaysia was one of them.

Since economic strength meant diplomatic and political clout, tensions between Tokyo and Beijing could grow to unmanageable proportions with potentially devastating effects throughout the region.

Something had to be done to anticipate and contain any such fallout.

In December 1990, on the occasion of the visit to Malaysia by Chinese Premier Li Peng, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad proposed the formation of the East Asia Economic Grouping (EAEG).

This would comprise all the countries of South-East Asia and China, Japan and South Korea working together towards a more integrated regional economy.

Since economics was less controversial than politics, the EAEG would skirt political sensitivities while a culture of working together as a region could in time overcome them.

Such regional cooperation that acknowledges and encourages regional integration could also pre-empt and minimise any economic crisis.

But that was not to be. Australia and the US had not been included and opposed the EAEG, the latter also pressuring Japan to reject it.

Within Asean, Indonesia’s Suharto rebuffed it because as senior regional leader he had not been consulted, while a West-leaning Singapore still preferred Occidental leadership to anything so distinctly Asian.

Singapore then proposed a watered-down East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC), this compromise being a subset of the larger Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) grouping largely to assuage US insecurities. After the EAEG died, the EAEC withered away.

By 1997 a financial and economic crisis struck East Asia, devastating the economies of Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea in particular.

There was no regional grouping or bank to help deflect, absorb or otherwise mitigate it.

South Korea then stepped up the drive to form an Asean Plus Three (APT) grouping, with the EAEG’s same 13 countries. The crisis also gave China an opportunity to demonstrate regional leadership: it suspended its planned currency revaluation, thereby helping to cushion the shock of the crisis.

Throughout the whole long-drawn saga, the unspoken issue for some countries was the impending economic dominance of China that they could not accept.

Thus they opposed the EAEG, as if China’s economic dominance could be restrained in the absence of a regional grouping. The reality would have been quite the reverse: with South Korea and Japan balancing China, and Asean countries at the fulcrum.

Meanwhile an underlying Western presumption shared by West-leaning Asians is that once China achieves economic ascendancy, it would mimic the West in acquiring overseas colonies and generally throwing its weight around.

That remains a heavily constructed hypothesis at odds with the history of China and the region.

China had been a great maritime power before, but had never embarked on naval conquest in a region where naval power trumps all other strategic options.

And through the years of talk on the EAEG, EAEC and APT, China’s economy kept on growing.

Then came China’s massive projects resulting from, and further empowering, that growth: the New Silk Road Economic Belt (“One Belt, One Road”) linking Asia and Europe overland, the Maritime Silk Road at sea, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank to fund them.


In contrast only Indonesia’s still formative and insular “maritime highways” idea, just a tiny fraction of China’s proposals in scale albeit grandly positioning Indonesia as a Global Maritime Fulcrum, appears to be the only response from the region.

Why has the rest of South-East Asia, or East Asia in general, become mere passive spectators to China’s bold plans? Why have other countries not offered their own thought contributions in response to China’s proposals?

Indonesia has, through different presidential administrations, clung to its informal position as first among equals in Asean. It has foraged for opportunities lending it such a profile, though not always elegantly or consistently.

On President Joko Widodo’s first visit to Beijing for an Apec summit last November, one month after he became president, he asked that the AIIB be moved from Beijing to Jakarta. That was a non-starter.

He recovered some equilibrium last month on state visits to Japan and China. On the day of his arrival in Tokyo, an interview was published in Japan in which he said China had no legal basis to its South China Sea claims.

That was three days before his arrival in Beijing, where the news had preceded him. One day after his arrival there, a bilateral agreement had been fleshed out for full-scale economic cooperation.

Now that much of the dust has settled on which countries would, or would not, be founding members of the AIIB, the challenge of projecting possible futures begins.

The positives include there being more international support for the multilateral lending institution than expected, a good mix of countries in Asia and Europe, and that the bank will proceed unimpeded.

However, the negatives include the voluntary absences of the US and Japan, two major economies that would have made the bank more multilateral, better resourced and further enriched with the collective experience of multilateral lending.

Playing somewhere in the background is the Western-oriented anxiety that a militarily powerful China may one day edge the US out of the region.

That prospect goes against the grain of China’s deep policy pragmatism and interests.

US military dominance in East Asia is often credited for keeping the peace in the region.

That peace has meant unfettered transportation and travel that has benefited the region, most of all China, in its imports of fuel and raw materials and its exports of manufactured goods.

China has had ample opportunity to learn from the tragic errors of not just the Soviet Union but also neighbouring North Korea, where overspending on military assets only wrecks the economy. The same applies to the US itself in profligate spending on questionable foreign wars.

China’s focus on infrastructure for facilitating trade is clear, its economic priorities echoing those it has had for centuries. Since Sultan Mahmud Shah of 15th-century Malacca at least, Malay rulers have had no problems with a powerful China.

Such a China had prioritised economic growth and cooperation without meddling in local affairs except to provide protection against hostile outside powers.

There are still no indications that modern China would deviate significantly from such a position, other than perhaps “protection” today including cushioning the shocks of economic crises.

Behind the Headlines by Bunn Nagara

Bunn Nagara is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.



Winds of Change in Asia

The birth of new development banks led by developing countries and the United States’ failure to block them are signs of rebalancing of economic power, especially in Asia.

The world must adjust to the rise of new powers. It will not stop just because the United States can no longer engage. If the results are not to the United States' liking, it only has itself to blame! - Martin Wolf
 
China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB): U.S. Asian, European “Allies” Pivot away from Washington

IN the last month, the international media has been carrying articles on the fight between the United States and China over the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Influential Western economic commentators have supported China in its move to establish the new bank and judged that President Barack Obama made a big mistake in pressurising US allies to shun the bank.

The United States is seen to be scoring an “own goal” since its close allies the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea decided to be founding members, as well as other European countries, including Germany and France, and most of Asia.

The United States also rebuked the United Kingdom for policies “appeasing China”, but the latter did not budge.

The United States did not give any credible reason why countries should not join the AIIB.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the new bank would not live up to the “highest global standards” for governance or lending.

But that sounded like the pot calling the kettle black, since it is the lack of fair governance in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that prompted China to initiate the formation of the AIIB, and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to similarly establish the New Development Bank.

For decades, the developing countries have complained that the developed countries have kept their grip on voting power in the Breton Woods institutions by clinging to the quotas agreed upon 70 years ago.

These do not reflect the vastly increased shares of the world economy that the emerging economies now have.

Even the mild reform agreed upon by all – that the quotas would be altered slightly in favour of some developing countries – cannot be implemented because of US Congress opposition.

The big developing countries have been frustrated. They had agreed to provide new resources (many billions of dollars each) to the IMF during the financial crisis, but were rewarded with no reforms in voting rights.

In addition, the unjustifiable “understanding” that the heads of the World Bank and IMF would be an American and a European respectively remains in place despite promises of change.

So much for legitimacy of lectures about good governance, merit-based leadership and democratic practice, which are preached by the Western countries and by the IMF and World Bank themselves.

The BRICS countries then set up the New Development Bank, which will supplement or compete with the World Bank, while China created the AIIB to supplement the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which also has a lopsided governance system.

The new banks will focus on financing infrastructure projects, since developing countries have ambitious infrastructure programmes and there is gross under-funding.

Critics anticipate that the new banks will finance projects that the World Bank or ADB would reject for not meeting their environmental and social standards.

But that is attacking something that hasn’t yet happened. True, it would be really bad if the new banks build a portfolio of “bad projects” that would devastate the environment or displace millions of people without recognising their rights.

It is thus imperative that the new banks take on board high social, environmental and fiduciary standards, besides having good internal governance and being financially viable.

The new institutions should be as good as or better than the existing ones, which have been criticised for their governance, performance and effects.

It is a high challenge and one that is worthy of taking on. There is no certainty that the new banks will succeed. But they should be given every chance to do so.

The AIIB, in particular, is being seen as part of the jostling between the United States and China for influence in the Asian region.

A few years ago, the United States announced a “pivot” or rebalancing to Asia. This included enhanced military presence and new trade agreements, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

It seemed suspiciously like a policy of containment or partial containment of China. The United States combines cooperation with competition and containment in its China policy, and it retains the flexibility of bringing into play any or all of these components.

China last year announced its own two initiatives, a Silk Road Economic Belt (from Western China through Central Asia to Europe) and a 21st century Maritime Silk Road (mainly in South-East Asia).

The first initiative will involve infrastructure projects, trade and public-private partnerships, while details of the second initiative are being worked out.

The AIIB can be seen as a financial arm (though not the only one) of these initiatives.

China is also part of negotiations of the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) that does not include the United States.

Last year, it also initiated a study to set up a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which will include the United States.

These two intended pacts are an answer to the US-led TPPA. It is still uncertain whether the TPPA will conclude, due both to domestic US politics and to an inability to reach a consensus yet among the 12 countries on many contentious issues.

Meanwhile, prominent Western opinion makers are urging the United States to change its policy and to accommodate China and other developing countries.

Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said this past month will be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system.

Summers cited the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the United States to persuade dozens of its traditional allies to stay out of it.

He also called for a comprehensive review of the US approach to global economics, and to allow for substantial adjustment to the global economic architecture.

Martin Wolf of the UK-based Financial Times said that a rebuff by the United States of China’s AIIB is folly. This is because Asian countries are in desperate need of infrastructure financing, and the United States should join the bank rather than pressuring others not to.

The real US concern is that China might establish institutions that weaken its influence on the global economy, said Wolf.

He added that this is wrong since reforms on influence in global financial institutions are needed and the world economy would benefit from more long-term financing to developing countries. China’s money could push the world in the right direction.

In a devastating conclusion, Wolf said the world needs new institutions.

“It must adjust to the rise of new powers. It will not stop just because the United States can no longer engage. If the results are not to the United States’ liking, it has only itself to blame.”

The winds of change are blowing in the global economy, and many in the West recognise and even support this.

Global Trends by Martin Khor

> Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre, a research centre of 51 developing countries, based in Geneva. You can e-mail him at director@southcentre.org. The views expressed here are entirely his own.


Related:
Interview: Client-focused, humble learning, cooperation are key lessons for AIIB's success

'Belt and Road' should be collective endeavor

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

SY Lau, a Malaysian took China's WeChat by storm


SY Lau has made the country proud through talent, perseverance and hard work

Known globally as the WeChat Company, Tencent is the largest Internet service provider in Asia, with a market capitalisation (as of April 16, 2015) of US$193bil. It delivers value-added Internet, mobile/ telecom services and online advertising, in order to fulfil the strategic goal of providing users with “one-stop online lifestyle services”.

In 2006, when SY Lau (pic) joined Tencent as one of the senior management team, he focused on driving corporate growth with the specific mission of overseeing Tencent’s Online Media Group (OMG).

Today, OMG is one of the largest media companies in the world, with a portfolio that includes a matrix of online information and entertainment products.

We sit down to talk to the Star Speaker of this year’s Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) Conference.

Early days

I came from an average family and was raised by parents who believed strongly in traditional Chinese parenting. I am the eldest in the family with two younger sisters. My dad worked in the Nanyang Press for more than 25 years before he passed away at an early age due to illness. My mom was an excellent tailor, but I guess my sisters and I would remember her most as a disciplinarian who instilled the spirit of inquisitiveness and competitiveness within us during our formative years.

I studied in St John’s Institution before graduating with a major in Mass Communication from one of the local universities. Subsequently, after working for 10 years or so, I obtained my MBA from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and graduated from Harvard Business School upon completing their pinnacle AMP programme.

My first job was with McCann Erickson as a trainee account executive. How did I get the job? When I was in the final year of my undergraduate studies, I decided to conduct a field research on the Malaysian Advertising Industry using collections of communication theories. The research effort opened up doors for me to conduct field work with more than 10 leading advertising agencies in Malaysia.

A month before my graduation, I received six job offers from the top 4As agencies, and Noel Derby offered to pay RM1,000 to have my work translated into English for use by his company.

I chose McCann because of two reasons. I strongly believed in the motto of the company, Truth Well Told, and, more importantly, Ong Thiam Hong impressed me as a sincere business leader.

Did you go to China by accident or was that part of your plan for a long time? How did it all begin?

Well, it was both by accident and somewhat part of the plan. I was fluent in both English and Mandarin and I thought that if I had an opportunity to venture overseas, China would certainly be my first choice.

I remember when the opportunity came, I was already working with Leo Burnet. One day during lunch, I met Ong Thiam Hong and he told me McCann Hong Kong was in trouble.

One of their biggest international clients, Nestlé, had a new managing director for Greater China, and she was about to fire McCann. The new MD was Leong Ming Chee, a highly respected Nestlé veteran from Malaysia, with a remarkable track record in one of the most significant markets in Asia. So, the McCann regional management team was frantically looking for a lead person to solve this problem. Apparently Ong had given my name to the regional team based on the fact I used to be one of the well-respected account leaders on the Nestlé account in Malaysia.

I spent the next three years stabilising and building the Nestlé business for McCann, by nurturing and building a professional local team from scratch.

We ended up winning more than a dozen new business accounts for both China and Hong Kong markets.

During this time I won the prestigious Milo Account for China and the media Agency of Record (AOR) , which was a first in Asia.

Lessons learned

China is a huge market, and I have seen many business professionals cutting corners here and there in the name of responding to pressure. Irrespective of industry, I think business people today could excel more if they were more conscious of focusing on leadership led by principles.

This reminds me of an advertising campaign that I saw recently on CNBC; I think it is for a bank from Singapore. The story goes... a father was bringing his son to a fun fair. As the father was purchasing tickets to enter the circus, the ticket seller said it would cost a dollar for an adult ticket and half price for children under four. The father then asked for two tickets. The ticket seller appeared to be shocked and asked curiously about the age of the boy, to which the father replied five. The ticket seller then said you could have told me he was four and I would have let you in without knowing. The father replied while holding his son’s hands, “Well, you may not have known, but he would have.”

Today, we live in a world where few people believe principles really do define who we are. It is my wish we have more principle-driven executives in the business world.

Leadership talks

In recent years, I have been honoured to be invited to deliver a number of speeches at some of the world’s leading universities. The main topics of the speeches explored the development of China’s digital economy environment and Tencent’s role in that development.

In 2012 at Stanford, taking into consideration that the number of Chinese web users had increased slowly since June 2008, I predicted that the demographic dividend (the organic growth brought by the growing number of Chinese Internet users) is going to be cashed out.

So, I proposed that targeted advertising placement and personalised content creation would be the key to break the bottleneck.

I believe that mobile media can not only help advertisers with product promotion, brand communication and customer relationship management, but also with the integration and optimisation of business models, which can become a new marketing platform in the long run. Future digital marketing will go Personal: shifting from media buying to user buying; go Richer: developing a technology-driven creative team and raising the proportion of developers; and go Offline: powering the integrated marketing model with O2O, and achieve closed loop marketing from advertising to sales.

At the Said Business School of Oxford University last year, I shared opportunities brought about by the growth of mobile Internet access across China; we see opportunities at three different levels: the consumer level, the industrial level, and then extending to the level of the whole economy.

Mobile Internet meets the pent-up demand of Chinese people for increased and upgraded levels of consumption, facilitates a long called-for industry transformation as well as expediting the liberalisation of the national economy.

In short, the Internet plays the role of an enabler to transform the new thinking of sustainable development into reality under what we call the New Normal.

The second-mover advantage triggered by the Internet industry can be summarised by examining two different perspectives: Industrial and Geographical.

Very simply put, the Internet has changed the lives of people in China in profound and meaningful ways.

It provides not only a new way of thinking and doing, but a feasible methodology for achieving China’s economic goals. The Internet is not just a resource; it is a means to turn dreams into economic reality.

Digital vision

I think Malaysia had the vision a long time ago, but unfortunately this vision was not implemented to the best of its potential. At the end of the day, the Internet today has become a basic infrastructure, and it should be discussed at a national policy level.

When I attended the recent BoAo Economic Forum, I had the privilege to meet and dine with Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He patiently listened to my story of how the private sector got involved in formulating a national policy for Internet Plus in China.

As you know, one of the most significant characteristics in the development of China’s digital economy exists in its integrating with various industries at high speed.

In China, we call this procedure “Internet Plus” – Internet plus the retail industry, plus the real estate industry, plus the manufacturing industry, and of course, plus the media industry.

China has already revealed that Internet Plus will become a policy for the country alongside another national strategy for the manufacturing industry, that is “Made in China 2025”.

A government fund of 40 billion yuan (US$6.38bil) has already been put in place for investment in China’s emerging industries.

Meanwhile, the “Broadband China Project” is being carried out. It will help to make broadband coverage in China reach over 250 million users, and a newly-gained user number of 4G service hit 200 million by the end of 2015.

All of these provide guarantees for the development of the digital economy.

Tencent’s future

Since Internet companies are always impacted by the combined forces of technology and users, I want to talk about some opportunities that I see as solid and realistic here...

Connecting the last billion

First of all, it took 20 years for the Internet to really take hold in China, turning 47.9% of the total population into Internet users.

For the other half of the population who are not yet using the Internet, a lot of them are elderly, young children, or those who cannot afford the necessary equipment.

To plug those people into the Internet world with easy and inexpensive access will be our major mission in the near term.

I think mobile phones are the most viable option to achieve this goal. Through what Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab calls, “connecting the last billion”, I believe Tencent will be capable of enabling the development of China even more.

Media of the ‘Mega Web’

Actually, I call this idea of a fully inter-connected world “the world of the Mega Web”, in which the role of the media will greatly expand. The media is already connecting users to content, and it will further connect us to many more things; more devices, more context, more people.

Media will expand to touch almost everything, everywhere. When connectivity expands to that level, singularity will be triggered. The information that we have will become “intellectual” as Big Data accumulates, interconnects and becomes available to even more devices. This expanded access to intelligence is the basic information we act upon, machines act upon and entire smart cities act upon.

The future: connect, call out, make the whole community answer When data itself becomes both interpretive and predictive, a judgment like “Something needs to be done to improve this situation” will more frequently be made by media rather than people, and more insightfully than we can imagine now. Once everyone is inter-connected, we will be able to reach out to every member of the society, in every remote part of the globe, and call for collective actions to solve problems both locally and globally.

Currently, our mission is to support the Internet Plus Action Plan of China. We are ready to cooperate with the partners and potential partners coming from different vertical industries on a strategic level, so that together we can provide better O2O commerce, online payment experiences and smart livelihood services for our users. We see opportunity around the world, whether this is for our own apps like WeChat or for partnership and investment in Western businesses.

I think WeChat is possibly the most recognisable brand for those in the US or UK.

Tencent also supports other famous brands around the world in markets like gaming and social. Companies like Epic Games and Riot Games are owned by Tencent, while we have our own gaming IP that is successful in China.

To see SY in action on April 21, visit www.marketingmagazine.com.my/cmo20015

- The Star/Asia News Network

Related:

Tencent: The Growing Giant

by Simon Kemp in News
Tencent 2014Q1
 Tencent released its Q1 results earlier this month, including the latest monthly active user figures for its various social platforms.

As the chart above shows, Tencent’s platforms have attracted a huge share of the world’s social media users, even if the majority of those users are still based in China.

Despite this geographic focus, Tencent now accounts for 3 of the world’s top 5 platforms, driven by the continuing growth of QQ, Qzone and WeChat:

We Are Social - Largest Social Channels May 2014

Qzone alone now accounts for around 40% of the world’s social media users.

Moreover, the impressive growth of WeChat (Weixin), both in terms of its active user numbers as well as the platform’s functionality, suggests that Tencent is still far from reaching its peak.

Is it only a matter of time before the rest of the world joins the Tencent family?

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Lawyers who refused to return client RM4.9mil house sale struck off rolls

Singapore's Supreme Court.

Latest case is second instance of lawyers being disbarred in two weeks

SINGAPORE — Two senior lawyers were today (April 13) struck off the roll for taking advantage of a client who had transferred S$1.8 million to their wives for safekeeping.

Mr Manjit Singh Kirpal Singh and Mr Sree Govind Menon had claimed that the money paid by Ms Bernadette Rankine was a gift, and had refused to return the money when asked.

After Ms Rankine lodged a complaint with the Law Society, the duo fought proceedings against them, alleging bias by the disciplinary panel president and filing judicial reviews to challenge decisions of the Chief Justice.

Today, the Court of Three Judges – comprising Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang – ruled that the lawyers had been dishonest and ordered their disbarment. “In cases of proven dishonesty, a solicitor will invariably be struck off the roll, regardless of the solicitor’s mitigating circumstances,” the judges wrote.

Mr Singh was admitted to the Bar in 1977 and Mr Menon was admitted in 1998. Ms Rankine had approached Mr Singh for legal advice in 2009, when she wanted to sell her property in Joan Road to live off sale proceeds after breaking up with a Malaysian businessman. She feared her ex-beau would try to prevent the sale of the property, which he did by lodging a caveat against it.

In 2010, the lawyers helped in getting the caveat discharged and Ms Rankine netted S$6.9 million from the sale of the property. She received a S$5 million cheque from the lawyers’ firm and used another S$50,000 to pay her personal assistant. Mr Singh handed her a cheque worth S$1.8 million and the lawyers advised her to issue cheques of the same amount to their wives for safekeeping and future legal fees, which she did.

In Dec 2010, Ms Rankine complained to the Law Society after they refused to return the money. She withdrew the complaint in Nov 2012 after getting her money back, but the Law Society pursued its charges against the duo.

The Society found Ms Rankine’s characterisation of the S$1.8 million payment to be convincing and believable, and said the two lawyers had acted dishonourably and showed no remorse for reprehensible conduct.

The duo had embarked on an elaborate scheme to cheat Ms Rankine, while ensuring the payment could not be traced back to their firm’s account, argued the Law Society, represented by Mr P E Ashokan. Instead of directly transferring the S$1.8 million from the law firm’s account to that of his wife and Mr Menon’s wife, Mr Singh had used Ms Rankine as a conduit so that things would appear above-board, noted the Court of Three Judges.

The judges noted that Ms Rankine had already paid substantial legal fees to the duo and “a gift of this magnitude to a solicitor with whom the client had no previous dealings … simply defies belief”.

Mr Singh also faced a second charge for misusing a S$20,000 cashier’s order from Ms Rankine to pay for an unrelated matter, which the judges said “underlines his lack of...integrity and trustworthiness”.

This is the second time in two weeks that lawyers have been disbarred — veteran lawyer Pascal Netto was struck off the roll last week for professional misconduct that included unauthorised borrowing from a client’s firm.

By Neo Chai Chin chaichin@mediacorp.com.sg

Woman takes due to court over refusal to return RM4.9mil from house sale

TWO lawyers who refused to return S$1.8mil (RM4.9mil) to a client were struck off the rolls on April 13.

The client had transferred the money to their wives for what she thought was safekeeping.

Manjit Singh, a lawyer of 37 years, and Sree Govind Menon, a lawyer of 16, were partners in the firm, Manjit Govind & Partners.

In disbarring them, the Court of Three Judges, with power to censure, suspend or strike lawyers off the rolls for professional misconduct, noted that the pair had acted dishonestly.

javascript:void(0); In 2009, Singh was hired by Bernadette Rankine, then an art gallery owner, to handle the sale of her house in Joan Road, off Thomson Road, which was sold for S$12mil (RM32.5mil).

She had decided to sell the property and live off the proceeds after ending her 13-year relationship with Malaysian businessman Amin Shah.

But her former boyfriend lodged a caveat against the property to block the sale. In February 2010, the caveat was lifted and the net sales proceeds of S$6.9mil (RM18.7mil) held by the law firm were ordered to be released to her.

Singh gave her a cheque for S$5mil (RM13.6mil) as well as S$50,000 (RM135,000) for her assistant’s wages.

A few days later, he gave her a cheque for S$1.8mil, while she in turn issued two cheques, one for S$1.6mil (RM4.3mil) to Singh’s wife and the other for S$200,000 (RM544,000) to Menon’s wife.

Singh had advised her to place the money with their wives for safekeeping, saying that if her former boyfriend launched more legal action against her, her money would be frozen and she would not have the means to pay for lawyers.

Nine months later, she asked them to return the money. When they refused, she complained to the Law Society. They have since returned the full sum.

In April last year, a disciplinary tribunal found the pair guilty of misconduct – Singh for advising her to pay the money to the wives and then refusing to return it, and Menon for agreeing with the advice.

The pair contended that the money was a gift from Rankine but the tribunal found this “inherently absurd”.

Yesterday, the court agreed, saying it was unlikely that Rankine, who needed money for pending legal matters, would give away one quarter of her key asset to the wives of the two lawyers she had known for less than six months and to whom she had already paid fees. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Malaysian world's top performing IFCA Software stock surges 1,300% in Kuala Lumpur!

IFCA Property Development Management Solution is a fully integrated Business Management Solution designed specifically for the Property industry. With a culmination of more than 20 years experience, IFCA Property Development Software embraces comprehensive functions, features and adopts the latest ICT tools that are poised to help elevate your Business to a paradigm shift. IFCA Software™ provides a complete solution for property developers to best manage their project development from the initial phases until key collection and beyond. It has complete built-in functionalities to ensure proper recording of each sale and its subsequent billing and administration. The software is saliently focused on its scope of capabilities. It supports multi-company, multi-projects and multi property types. It tracks and measures the effectiveness of sales campaigns and sales staff performances. It also supports user-definable payment scheme and loan financing. Headquarters IFCA MSC Bhd Wisma IFCA, No 19, Jalan PJU 1/42A, Dataran Prima, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. marketing@ifca.com.my www.ifcasoftware.com 

Forget Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Bangalore.

To find the world’s top-performing software company, you have to go somewhere that few would think to look for winning investments in the technology industry -- Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Better known as the home of state-owned energy giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd., it’s also where shares of IFCA MSC Bhd., a maker of cloud-based software for property companies, have jumped 14-fold over the past 12 months.


IFCA’s earnings are surging just as fast as its stock after the company took an 80 percent market share among Malaysian developers and began expanding into China, where early adopters of its sales tracking and payment processing software include billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. IFCA Chief Executive Officer Ken Yong Keang Cheun (pic above) predicts that the world’s second-largest economy will become the biggest market for his $198 million software firm by 2018.

“The growth in China is incredible,” Yong said in an interview at his office in Petaling Jaya, a suburb near Kuala Lumpur. He plans to double the number of IFCA offices in the country to 16 by the end of this year.

IFCA has about 100 clients in China, where the National Bureau of Statistics estimates there were more than 90,000 real estate companies as of 2013. The country last month announced measures to make buying and selling a home cheaper, giving a boost to developers as authorities seek to cushion a slump in the property market that has weighed on economic growth.

The stock rose as much as 1.5 percent before closing unchanged at 1.35 ringgit in Kuala Lumpur, near its April 9 record.

GST Boost

Wanda uses IFCA’s software for its cost systems, bidding and capital leases, Huang Chunlei, an assistant to the president of Dalian Wanda and deputy general manager of the company’s IT department, said via e-mail.

In Malaysia, 800 of the biggest 1,000 property developers are its customers, Yong said. The company’s software sales in the country surged 76 percent in 2014 as a new goods and services tax prompted companies to upgrade their software to comply with the change. Profit jumped 12-fold last year to 21.1 million ringgit ($5.8 million) and Yong said he’s “confident” earnings will climb to another record in 2015.

“The good thing about the software is that it is niche for property developers,” Chow Yuh Seng, general manager for IT at Mah Sing Group Bhd., Malaysia’s fifth-biggest developer by market value, said in an interview.

Shares of IFCA have surged 1,321 percent over the past 12 months, the most among software companies worldwide with a market value of at least $150 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That compares with an average gain of 46 percent for global peers.

Malaysia Tech

“There was a strong theme for IT and software-related development companies last year, and this year is a continuation,” said Danny Wong, chief executive officer of Kuala Lumpur-based Areca Capital Sdn., which owns shares in IFCA. “The shift to Internet and technology is the new way of doing things.”

IFCA isn’t the only Malaysian software company with booming sales. Grabtaxi Holdings Pte., a mobile application that assigns cabs to nearby commuters, has grown to become Southeast Asia’s largest taxi-booking mobile application, luring investments from Temasek Holdings Pte., Singapore’s state-owned investment company, and SoftBank Corp., the Japanese wireless carrier controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son.

While Malaysia isn’t known as a hub for technology companies, the government has tried to support the industry since 1996, when it introduced the Multimedia Super Corridor, a special zone to attract technology investments and multinational companies.

Chasing Shares

The success of IFCA’s business may already be reflected in the share price, according to Ang Kok Heng, the chief investment officer of Phillip Capital Management Sdn., which manages $428 million, said by phone in Kuala Lumpur. Shares are valued at 30 times reported earnings, versus 17 times for the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We normally don’t chase a stock,” Ang said.

IFCA plans to boost recurring income by introducing a software rental service that would make its offerings more affordable for customers via monthly subscriptions, Yong said. The firm also plans to set up a property listing website by year-end.

IFCA’s profit will probably jump at an annual rate of 228 percent over the next three years, according to Nigel Foo, a Kuala Lumpur-based analyst at CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., Malaysia’s second largest bank by assets.

“The property sector is a rich man’s industry with high risks, and it’s capital intensive,” Yong said. “People are willing to pay for solutions.”

By En Han Choong - Bloomberg

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Building structural integrity & failure: problems, inspections, damages, defects, testing, diagnosis, repair

Structural integrity and failure is an aspect of engineering which deals with the ability of a structure to support a designed load (weight, force, etc...) without breaking, tearing apart, or collapsing, and includes the study of breakage that has previously occurred in order to prevent failures in future designs.

Structural integrity is the term used for the performance characteristic applied to a component, a single structure, or a structure consisting of different components. Structural integrity is the ability of an item to hold together under a load, including its own weight, resisting breakage or bending. It assures that the construction will perform its designed function, during reasonable use, for as long as the designed life of the structure. Items are constructed with structural integrity to ensure that catastrophic failure does not occur, which can result in injuries, severe damage, death, or monetary losses.

Structural failure refers to the loss of structural integrity, which is the loss of the load-carrying capacity of a component or member within a structure, or of the structure itself. Structural failure is initiated when the material is stressed beyond its strength limit, thus causing fracture or excessive deformations. In a well-designed system, a localized failure should not cause immediate or even progressive collapse of the entire structure. Ultimate failure strength is one of the limit states that must be accounted for in structural engineering and structural design.

These articles explain the inspection, detection, diagnosis, and repair of all types of structural defects on residential and light commercial buildings and will answer most homeowner concerns. We address brick and other masonry structures, wood frame structures, log homes, modular and factory built homes, even mobile homes.

Chimneys, crawl spaces, decks, building flood damage, foundation crack and movement damage, rot or insect damage, sink holes, and water entry are examples of topics for which InspectAPedia provides inspection, diagnosis, and repair advice. Our page top photo illustrates Story Land[26] a remarkably askew wood-framed structure that would have been quite challenging to frame.

Guide to Detecting & Evaluating Structural Defects: Inspection, Diagnosis, & Repair of Settlement, Improper Construction, Rot & Insect Damage to Buildings


Articles found in this section address just about all types of residential & light commercial building structural construction, inspection, diagnosis & repair topics such as foundation damage, leaning, buckling, bowing, and cracking, FRT plywood failures, chimney inspections & safety concerns, causes and cures for rot, mold, & termites in buildings, sinkholes at building sites, stair and rail fall & trip hazards, & also special inspection methods for mobile homes.

Most structural problems can be avoided by proper design and planning; but structural failures have been common for a long time, and sometimes are costly to handle properly.

The sketch at left( courtesy Carson Dunlop) names the major structural components of a typical wood frame house set on a masonry foundation.

Structural Defect Recognition, Repair, Prevention for Building Structures, & Building Structural Failures

This photo of the leaning tower of Pisa was sent to us by our friend Tom Smith who knows a crooked building when he sees one. Smith points out that the problems with the Tower have been known for generations and must have been apparent even during construction, as the upper level was constructed with an offset to try to re-balance the structure.
Modern reinforcement has permitted removal of cables that used to be tied to the tower of Pisa. As Bernie Campbalik says about old buildings, "Yep, we had guys like that back then too."
Metal chimney during installation (C) D Friedman
Pier construction, Northern Maine (C) D Friedman

 

Framing & Wood Beams / Timbers Damage Inspection, Diagnosis, Testing, Repair

Photograph of  severe roof structure damage from an unattended roof valley leak in a historic home.
Collapsing barn (C) Daniel Friedman

Rot, fungus, Termites, Carpenter Ants, Powder Post Beetles, & other Wood Destroying Organisms

Buckled siding at ground level indicates sill crushing (C) Daniel FriedmanOur photo (left) illustrates a combination of factors leading to a strong indication of serious structural damage at a home: aluminum siding at ground level (risk of insect attack) combined with buckled siding at the bottom course (a condition that only occurs long after original construction) point to crushed wooden sills under this structure, most often due to insect attack or rot or both.
  • INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE - complete guide to wood destroying insect inspection, diagnosis, evaluation, repair, and prevention at buildings
  • The Sick House/Sick Building Information Website Organized, un-biased, in-depth advice about mold, allergens, and other indoor contaminants: finding, testing, cleaning, clearance testing, and preventing mold, mildew, wood destroying (rot) molds (fungi). Explains how to assure that testing for toxic or allergenic molds is performed using valid field and lab methods. Advice and test procedures are provided for odors and odor source detection, toxic gas testing and gas source identification.
  • "House Eating Fungus" Meruliporia incrassata (also called "Poria" the house eating fungus) in the U.S. or Serpula lacrymans in Europe) can cause severe structural damage. Evidence of hidden "poria" may be found by expert inspection methods which include tracing sources and paths of probable Building leaks and moisture traps. Further, careful indoor particle sampling methods can often permit the presence of this mold to be identified in the laboratory.
  • WOOD DESTROYING INSECTS carpenter ants, powder post beetles, & other wood destroying organisms

Continue reading at BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Suggested citation for this web page

STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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Structural Integrity and failure:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural_integrity_and_failure

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