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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Malaysia Weekly Highlights

The Malaysian Insider (TMI) went offline

The Malaysian Insider
It's not like that we didn't see it coming. But one of the most popular independent news portal, The Malaysian Insider (TMI) went offline on March 15 despite its popularity but let's face it. Without the commercial support, it's impossible to see how TMI can go on its operation, especially when the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission block its website. 

The Edge Media Group (TEMG) issued a statement, saying that TMI has run up to RM10 million of losses in the 20 months (since June 2014). 

A deal could not be reached with three external suitors, "all of whom have existing media businesses", as well as on an offer for a management buyout. This was made tougher after the MCMC's block order on TMI, although talks had started earlier. 

The closure of TMI saw 59 staff members, including its editor Jahabar Sadiq let go. 

In a statement, TEMG publisher and CEO Ho Kay Tat said on March 14, "The closure of TMI should serve as a reminder to those of us in the media industry as well as the public at large that good journalism cannot be sustained without commercial support. And when good journalism stops, society is the loser."

DR MAHATHIR: UMNO cannot wait for GE 14

Tun Dr Mahathir, the former prime minister of Malaysia, also the longest serving prime minister in the country has urged UMNO members to reject prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. 

"We can't wait for the 14th general election because Umno led by Najib will lose.
"Once Umno loses, it will not be able to recover," he said in the letter, which also appeared in his Chedet blog.
Dr Mahathir said Najib had made Umno his own and his leadership had only weakened the party.
He has quit Umno for the second time and teamed up with Opposition leaders to launch a Citizens' Declaration that, among other things, calls for Najib's ouster as prime minister.
MALAYSIA'S debt-to-GDP reached 54.4%, slightly below 55% self-imposed ceiling
The federal government's debt has reached RM630.5 billion or 54.4% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) as at December 31, 2015.
This was only slightly below the self-imposed 55% ceiling. 
The Ministry of Finance said, "The government is committed to ensure that its debt does not exceed 55% of GDP. Fiscal consolidation plans will be continuously carried out to reduce the deficit level in phases. 
The ministry said that the government-guaranteed debt is mainly for infrastructure and development projects, stood at RM117.7 billion or 15.4% of GDP as at end-2015. 
Malaysia's Ultra-Rich Look Abroad 
In a report last week, about 26% of Malaysia's ultra-high-networth individuals are considering changing domiciles, the second highest rate globally after China's 32.1%. This was according to a report from the international property consultancy firm Knight Frank. 
During the launch of "The Wealth Report 2016", Sarkunan Subramanian, also the Knight Frank (M) Sdn Bhd managing director, said the leading contribution for such a high percentage was due to lack of opportunities in business and education. This was despite the numerous attempts by the government to improve these areas.
As at last year, there were 993 ultra-high-networth individuals in Malaysia, a drop of 15% from a year ago. In the report, those with US$30 million net worth and above are classified as the ultra-high-networth individuals.
British American Tobacco (M) Bhd will close its factory in Petaling Jaya and 230 people will be retrenched in the Group's restructuring attempt following the fall in sales as higher duties on tobacco products pushed more price-sensitive customers to illicit cigarettes. 
British American Tobacco
The margin was also squeezed as a result of the excise duty's hike, creating a challenging environment for BAT, thus requiring the company to restructure and transform its business. 
The company said the restructuring will involve "the sharpening of its commercial capabilities whilst optimizing the supply chain and transactional activities to ensure that BAT remains a competitive consumer-focused market leader."
Operations at the factory are targeted to cease by the second half of 2017 and the land on which it sits will be sold via open tender. 

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