Malaysia Government Sets 20% Annual Growth Target For E-Commerce Sector
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Dec 06, 2018

The Malaysian government has set an annual growth rate target of 20 per cent for the e-commerce sector in the country, from 14.3 per cent growth posted in 2017, via various initiatives.

International trade and industry minister Darrell Leiking said e-commerce contribution to GDP in Malaysia continuously improved over a period of seven years to 85.8 billion ringgit ($20.7 billion) in 2017 from 37.7 billion ringgit ($9.1 billion) in 2010, with an average annual growth rate of 12.5 per cent.

He added that the government through the National E-Commerce Council (NECC) will continue to support the growth and development of the sector through the implementation of a respective strategic national e-commerce roadmap.

Since its establishment in 2016, the NECC’s achievements in developing and enhancing the e-commerce ecosystem’s competitiveness included registering over 120,000 online businesses at the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

Small and medium enterprises registered with the “Go eCommerce” platform – an initiative aimed at guiding companies in e-commerce adoption – exceeded 20,000.

The implementation of the Digital Free Trade Zone pilot project in Cyberjaya supported by Alibaba founder Jack Ma has also accelerated the growth of e-commerce activities by providing a platform for local enterprises to conduct their business and services.

Furthermore, on November 12, 2018, Malaysia signed the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce, a concerted effort between the ten countries of the bloc to smoothen cross border e-commerce transactions by reducing barriers and lowering entry costs.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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Air Travel in Asia is Taking Off
Nov 24, 2018

As the aviation industry continues to expand rapidly over the next two decades, growing demand for airline seats will outstrip the supply of qualified pilots. The biggest shortage will be in Asia where airlines have more new planes on order than anywhere else.

Economic growth and rising incomes across the region are fueling unparalleled growth in business and leisure travel. Airlines in Asia-Pacific already account for over a third of current global passenger numbers and that market share is set to increase. The region had almost 280 million international arrivals in 2015.

To meet demand, aircraft manufacturer Boeing forecasts airlines in Asia will require an additional 261,000 pilots and 317,000 cabin crew by 2037. (Read: Hong Kong-Taipei, World’s Busiest Airline Route 3 Years In A Row, Why?)

China’s Aviation Boom

China is spearheading the region’s air travel boom and is set to overtake the US as the world’s largest aviation market by 2030, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The country – with an expanding middle class – has substantial potential for future growth in tourism and business travel, helicopter flights and private jet hire, IATA says.

Increasing passenger volumes mean expanding existing airports and building new ones. The Civil Aviation Administration of China plans to build an additional 74 airports to make a total of 260 by 2020.

India’s Airline Sector Takes Off

As with China, India’s emerging middle class is driving a rapid expansion of the airline industry and the country is set to become the third-fastest increasing market in terms of additional passengers per year.

India has experienced continued growth over the last 15 years, as the number of international arrivals reached the 8 million mark in 2015, according to the Forum's 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.

IATA forecasts India’s air passenger traffic will triple by 2036.

Indonesia’s Tourism Appeal

Along with China and India, Indonesia is also turning into an Asian aviation powerhouse. A burgeoning domestic tourism industry on the island of East Java, coupled with the lure of Bali’s exotic beaches for overseas holidaymakers, have expanded passenger numbers at key airports.

IATA forecasts Indonesia will see 183 million new passengers by 2034, making it the fourth-fastest growing aviation market after China (856 million new passengers), the US (559 million) and India (266 million). And Indonesia will also become the world’s fifth-largest domestic aviation market.

Such unprecedented growth in demand for flights will increase connectivity between Asian countries and destinations around the world, with obvious benefits for their economies. But it also brings challenges.

As well as more pilots and planes, the world will need new airports along with all the supporting infrastructure, and this will require government policies that are sympathetic to future aviation growth. At the same time, more planes taking to the skies will mean more greenhouse-gas emissions.

The global aviation industry has agreed to measures including improving fuel efficiency of planes, capping net emissions from international flights at 2020 levels, and a 50% cut in net emissions by 2050 (relative to 2005 levels).

But the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) predicts that by 2020 emissions from global aviation will be around 70% higher than in 2005, and that by 2050 they could grow by a further 300-700%.

By Johnny Wood
Edited by Tomas Lin

Women Authors and Illustrators Create Inspiring Storybooks for Girls in Indonesia
Nov 13, 2018

Asia Foundation, Litara Foundation, Estée Lauder Corporation host Jakarta BookLab
Jakarta, November 1, 2018 — Women authors and illustrators are creating children’s books in Bahasa Indonesia with an emphasis on gender equality and dynamic female characters as a part of The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia Let’s Read! initiative in Indonesia. The two-day book creation event, or BookLab, kicked off the inspiring women and girls empowerment campaign, “Women into Authors, Authors into Change Agents.” Held at the Jakarta Public Library, the October 31 to November 1 event was made possible by the expertise of the Litara Foundation and support by the Estée Lauder Corporation.

In Jakarta, the two-day BookLab event brought together 25 first-time writers, illustrators, and established children’s book authors from as far away as Sorong, Tulungagung, and Makassar and locally in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Bandung to create original, illustrated children’s storybooks. The participants at the BookLab event were selected from more than 130 applicants across Indonesia.

Let’s Read! uses an ecosystem approach to address book scarcity in local languages and demonstrate the power of reading to change the trajectory of children’s lives. “These activities are designed to encourage families and communities to share the inspiring experience of becoming lost in a story and developing a love of reading,” said Aryastyani Sintadewi, manager of the Let’s Read! initiative in Indonesia.

The BookLab is the first of three project phases focused on encouraging reading in Indonesia. In this first phase, participants work with editors at Litara to refine the narratives and illustrations of original new children’s storybooks. In the second and third stages, culminating on Indonesia’s Children’s Day in July 2019, community reading advocates will be trained to encourage women across the country to participate in Indonesia’s Read to Children movement.

Many of the books developed at the Jakarta’s BookLab will be published on the Let’s Read! digital library, Asia’s free digital library for children. Let’s Read! has advanced the skills of more than 600 writers, illustrators and volunteer translators across Asia, and worked with them to produce culturally appropriate and relevant books, including many that challenge gender stereotypes. Nearly 1,500 compelling children’s books are available on the Let’s Read! digital library and on the Let’s Read! Android app on Google Play.

The Let’s Read! initiative draws on The Asia Foundation’s in-country capabilities, local partnerships, and technological expertise to empower communities to create, translate, and share high-quality and richly illustrated children’s books across Asia. Since 1954, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program has donated over 52 million print books to thousands of under-resourced educational institutions in 28 Asian countries, including over 2.8 million books in Indonesia.

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Eelynn Sim, Director, Media & Strategy

Two islands in Viet Nam among The Telegraph's list of most pristine beaches
Oct 19, 2018

Two small islands in Viet Nam have been named among a list of 10 beaches in Southeast Asia unspoilt by tourism suggested by a travel piece in the UK newspaper The Telegraph.

They are An Thoi islet off Phu Quoc Island in southern Kien Giang province, and Binh Lap island in the central province of Khanh Hoa.

Remarking on the “construction site soundtrack” that accompanies beaches on Phu Quoc, the article advises travellers to take a boat from the island’s port to An Thoi, which has “secluded coves and colourful reefs almost completely devoid of humans.”

Fifth on the list is Binh Lap Island in Cam Ranh Bay, which it describes as secluded and “more Seychelles than Southeast Asia.”

Two beaches each in Thailand and Malaysia, one each in Hong Kong, Cambodia and the Philippines are also in the list.

Interestingly, it includes an island in landlocked Laos, “which only materialises in the November to April dry season as the Mekong River recedes.”

To prevent these and other unspoilt beaches from being ruined by tourism, The Telegraph article advises visitors to “be responsible by removing all of your own rubbish, don’t abscond with seashells or sands and use an ocean-safe sunscreen.”

Source: VNA

Singapore Cracks Down On "Shoe Box"-Sized Apartments
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Oct 18, 2018

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on October 18 announced an upcoming regulatory change for the city state’s property developers, mandating that the average size of new private flats outside the central area will have to be at least 85 square meters in average of gross floor area, up from previously 70 square meters, a far cry from some shoe box-sized apartments having been built and sold in the past.

The new guidelines, which will come into effect by January 17, 2019, are therefore cutting the number of possible units allowed in a project – something that developers say might increase prices of condos and make it difficult for low-income earners, retirees or singles to afford one. However, the URA argued that the move was made to manage potential strains on local infrastructure and ensure the livability of residential estates.

The authority further announced that nine areas in Singapore – up from presently four – will be subject to an even more stringent minimum average requirement of 100 square meters, namely Marine Parade, Joo Chiat-Mountbatten, Balestier, Telok Kurau-Jalan Eunos, Stevens-Chancery, Pasir Panjang, Kovan-How Sun, Shelford and Loyang.

Real estate agents said that the new limits will reduce the number of units in a development by up to 30 per cent, curbing developers’ ability to prop up profit margins by launching smaller units as the number of shoe box units entering the market will naturally come down in the longer term.

As a result, major property stocks, including City Developments, CapitaLand and Ho Bee Land, fell sharply on the news. Analysts said that developer stocks are likely to remain under pressure and could even “test new trough levels” which could mean a near-term downside of up to ten per cent.

They also estimate there could also be a 20 to 40 per cent drop in land prices with the revised unit size rules, as home buyers are likely to hold back purchases to 2019 to wait and see what impact the regulation will have an condo bidding prices.

Company Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
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China ranks third in global online payments, U.S. tops the list
China Knowledge Online
Oct 18, 2018

Oct 18, 2018 (China Knowledge) - Data released by the World Payments Report 2018 showed that in terms of the total number of online payments in the statistical period, the U.S. topped the list with 148.5 billion, with Eurozone coming in second with 74.5 billion and China third with 48 billion online payments.

The report also showed that China's non-cash transactions accounted for the world's second-largest share of the growth. In addition, the report predicts that China's digital payment power, led by Alipay and WeChat, cannot be ignored. By 2021, China's total online payments will surpass the U.S. as the world's largest.

The study is based on data from the world bank, the bank for international settlements and the European central bank's statistical database. Non-cash transactions include checks, debit cards, credit card payments, credit transfers and direct debit transactions. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for all digital transactions will be about 13% between 2018 and 2021, rising to USD 876 billion from USD 598 billion in 2018.

China completed 48 billion non-cash transactions in 2016, up 25.8% YoY. China's rate of growth was second only to that of Russia, whose share of non-cash payments rose 36.5% YoY to 17.3 billion. Australia was third with 11.1% growth, at 10.6 billion.

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Hong Kong plans to build new homes on artificial islands
China Knowledge Online
Oct 11, 2018

Oct 10, 2018 (China Knowledge) - Hong Kong will add artificial islands in a bid to rein in its property market which has seen spectacular gains making the city’s housing the least affordable in the world.

The Hong Kong government will be reclaiming 688 hectares of land off Lantau Island according to a policy address by Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The land will provide between 260,000 to 400,000 homes and can house up 1.1 million people or 15% of Hong Kong’s population. 70% of the new homes will be allocated for subsidized public housing.

The first phase for reclamation works is set to begin in 2025 with people being able to start moving in by 2032.

Apart from this reclamation project, the government also looks to convert deserted rural land in the New Territories to residential use and set up a land sharing pilot programme that turns land held by developers into projects that accommodate both public and private housing.

Under the land reclamation plan, about 34,000 new jobs will also be created in the next two to three decades.

The recent policy address is the second by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam since she was sworn in. Mrs Lam has placed increased focus on Hong Kong’s housing and land supply issues, indicated that the shortage of land and housing supply has placed a strain on people’s quality of life.

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Powerful Counter-Trafficking Campaign from Asia Gets a Global Stage
Oct 02, 2018

Eye-catching videos and resources reach audiences around the world

“Now I know things about safety and rights. I’ve also learned how important it is to keep documents safe, not to be confiscated by the employer.”

September 2018 — “Што такое гандаль людзьмі?” (“What is human trafficking?”) says the narrator as an animated video on human trafficking plays to a crowded room of students in Minsk, Belarus. This same video plays in Egypt, Myanmar and Thailand, however, the narrator isn’t speaking Belarusian. She’s speaking Arabic, Myanmar and Thai.

Originally developed to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, USAID’s IOM X (link is external) campaign materials are now being used in over 40 countries across the world. Some 140 videos and an equal number of other resources — such as training materials, online courses, and factsheets — are available in 18 languages.

“IOM X creates content that our audience is receptive to. Having new, high-quality and engaging content on hand makes our demanding jobs so much easier, especially since we are a non-profit looking to maximize resources,” said New Su Shern, founder and president of the Malaysia-based NGO Project Liber8.

The campaign produces tailored content, such as videos and factsheets, on sector-specific issues related to the prevention of human trafficking, ranging from domestic work to manufacturing. For example, the definitions video series provides one-minute overviews of different forms of exploitation, including forced begging, organ trafficking and debt bondage. These videos are easy for other organizations to adapt to local audiences through subtitling or dubbing. They are also highly digestible, shareable and easy for all types of audiences to understand.

Much of the content is aimed at influencing young people from ages 15 to 35 to make migration decisions that protect them from exploitation.

“Now I know things about safety and rights. I’ve also learned how important it is to keep documents safe, not to be confiscated by the employer,” said a Burmese migrant worker in Yangon after watching the Make Migration Work video series.

Audiences across the region are not only fans of the content, but they are also fans of the innovative approach used to create content. A robust library of research and training materials is publicly accessible, and reversioning — translation to another language — is encouraged. For example, the Communication for Development (C4D) toolkit is now available in eight languages, including Mandarin, Bangla and Khmer.

The project’s technical team has held workshops in eight countries, training more than 500 partners on human trafficking and C4D. Campaign materials have reached a potential 505 million people globally since the campaign began in late 2014.


Pet owners on the rise in China to 73 mln, spending up 27% to reach USD 24 bln
China Knowledge Online
Sep 11, 2018

Sep 11, 2018 (China Knowledge) - In recent years there has been a surge in pet ownership in China. Currently, there are an estimated 73.55 million pet owners, and spent RMB 5,016 annually on each pet on average, up by 15% from last year. Spending on pets is expected to rise by 27% this year to RMB 170.8 bln.

To cope with the rising demand, China has seen an increase in variety of pet food available. Pet owners in China are increasingly well-informed of their pet’s health and even look for prescription foods. Other expenses include grooming, vaccination and medical treatment.

The growing popularity of pets is turning China into a magnet for local and global pet companies due to huge growth potential. For example, Beijing has seen a surge in the number of pet-related stores such as pet-themed restaurants, cafes and retail stores which target the middle-income pet owners.

From August 22 to 26, Shanghai hosted the Pet Fair Asia which sets the benchmarks and trendsetters on pet supplies in Asia-Pacific for more than 1,300 exhibitors.

This has also hit the e-commerce market, with Taobao and both setting up pet categories on their websites. Alibaba’s e-commerce website Taobao alone recorded USD 1 bln of sales for cats’ food and cat-related items in 2017.

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7 Key Disruptions that Will Change the Way You Work
Sep 09, 2018

"It's been estimated that 57% of all jobs are at risk of being automated within the next 5 years" Here are 7 key disruptions that most likely will change the way people work in the future.

Technological and social forces are transforming how work gets done, who does it, and even what work looks like. And while technology can make workers more productive, there will be significant turbulence as organizations grapple with the complexity and unpredictability of a changing workforce.

Research by Deloitte Consulting shows that there are seven powerful disruptors reshaping work as we know it. In order to address these disruptors, business leaders need to engage in transformative thinking that will not only re-design but re-imagine the way work gets done in their organizations. They need to think big, start small, become more agile, and—ultimately—move faster than the new realities of work.

Are organizations ready for Industry 4.0?

Deloitte’s Readiness Report explores senior executives’ views on the impact of Industry 4.0, that is, the industrial change associated with automation and digital technologies. According to the report, business leaders are uncertain they have the right talent to be successful in this new era of technological advancement. Only 25% are highly confident that their workforce has the skill sets needed for the future. Only 14% are highly confident in their ability to harness the changes associated with Industry 4.0. Yet 86% of business leaders think they are doing all they can to build the right workforce. Even more surprising, less than 20% of business leaders regard talent and HR issues as a high priority. In a nutshell, leaders don’t seem to think radical change is needed to get them where they need to go.

But radical change is needed. Consider the impact of automation. It’s been estimated that 57% of all jobs are at risk of being automated within the next 5 years. Emerging economies in the ASEAN region (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are the most vulnerable to job automation. But developed economies will be impacted as well. In Singapore, for example, workplace automation is expected to double in the next three years.

To be sure, the likelihood of an entire profession disappearing due to automation is low. It is far more likely that parts of an occupation will be replaced by technology. Human talent will be working alongside artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing—or anything that can replace tasks in a business process and make them quicker, more accurate, and less costly. In this scenario, the most suitable resource, be it technological or human, can now be matched to deliver the most productive outcome.

Naturally, this has implications for the workforce and completely disrupts traditional talent models. Organizations will have to find the right balance of humans and machines to complement each other, re-designing roles to maximize talent and potential.

Augmentation also challenges current talent structures and practices by making them more flexible. Workforces will become more and more contingent, with off-balance sheet workers (freelancers, contractors, and gig workers) increasingly utilized by businesses who want to capitalize on access to the smartest people to solve complex business problems. In fact, in the United States, more than 90% of net new jobs in the past five years were performed by off-balance sheet workers. Respondents to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2018 report indicate that only 42% of their workforce is made up of salaried employees.

From the workers’ perspective, such augmentation through technology means people can now decide where best to work, whether it’s from an office or at home, in a satellite space, or in shared workspace. This fits the Millennial and Gen Z value of flexibility in the workplace—a key finding from the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018. For these workers, the gig economy’s increased income potential and flexibility hold great appeal. According to the survey, a clear majority have already taken on such roles or would consider doing so.

This is of particular importance in Asia, where almost 60% of the working population is 28 years old, compared to 40% globally. With the vastly different career expectations of this age group, organizations need to adjust talent models to attract and retain the workers that will take their business into the future.

Remaining relevant in the future of work

The half-life of a skill has dropped from 30 years to an average of 6 years. This holds true even for fresh university graduates. This means that the model of “learn at school” and “do at work” is no longer sustainable and constant reskilling and lifelong learning will be a way of life at work. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, reskilling is the top priority for organizations looking at their future workforce strategy. And with working lives getting longer, reskilling is important for all workers, not just the young.

Individuals, companies, and educational institutions must find collective and elegant solutions that work for everyone and must push for smart ways to promote fairness and progressive thinking at work. Governments and policy makers can play a role in this new paradigm by showing bolder leadership in education and labor market regulations and by developing standards that enable and accelerate future of work opportunities. A collective response will create the platforms that enable and empower individuals to reinvent themselves to embark on new pathways and progress their careers.

Business leaders can no longer be passive consumers of ready-made human capital. They need to put talent development and workforce strategy front and center in their growth plans. This requires a new mindset to understand the challenges workers face and evolve talent programmes and models that unlock their potential.

By Philip Yuen
Edited by Shawn Chou