Budget 2017 vaccine 
allocation cut a non-issue

KUALA LUMPUR — The slash in vaccination budget from RM4.6 billion to RM4 billion for Budget 2017 is a non-issue to the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), as its president said it is merely stipulated spending for next year.

MPS president Amrahi Buang said the trimmed budget allocation for vaccines should be viewed in a broader perspective, saying that the government should be prepared with vaccines according to the needs of the people.

Amrahi said medications are made readily available by the government and as of now, there are cases of medication wastage which should not happen.

“The government needs to be aware of the situation in terms of spreading of diseases, so they must be able to respond and provide vaccines according to public needs for next year,” He said.

Aiming to train over 8,000 pharmacists nationwide in 2018, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) and MPS introduced the educational myPharmAssist programme on Friday.

The dynamic educational platform provides content and training that are tailored to engage and educate pharmacy teams in various topics including pain relief, cough, flu and other medical related topics to meet the needs of the community.

GSKCH general manager Stacey Wallace said the the programme will be made available in December this year with its digital assets, including a website which will be rolled out in July 2017.

“Malaysia is the first country to launch the myPharmaAssist global programme, as we share the concern of the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases in this country.

“From our experience, public health education is imperative to reduce chronic diseases, and a community pharmacy is one of the most important touch points to maximise the impact of public empowerment,” Wallace told reporters on Friday.

Amrahi said the launch of the platform was timely in further enhancing the competency of pharmacists, and will continuously advance and update the skills of the practitioners for the benefit of the rakyat.

“We aim to have at least 1,000 pharmacy practitioners trained by the end of 2017 and as new modules are added into the programme, the numbers of pharmacists engaging in the programme will grow to our target of 80% of community pharmacists by 2019,” he said.

Ace Canning eyes 15% revenue growth

KUALA LUMPUR — Ace Canning Corp Sdn Bhd, a ready-to-drink beverage producer, is eyeing a 15% rise in revenue this year from RM250 million recorded last year, said managing director Paul Lim.

He said despite the challenging external environment, the promising growth would be supported by an anticipated higher sales contribution from its international portfolio, new products in the pipeline and strong market share in the beverage industry.

“The domestic (segment) forms the biggest part of our business at almost 80%, while export growth has been tremendous at strong double-digits.

“We are targeting to grow our export segment to 30% of revenue within the next two to three years. We will expand our businesses in the current markets, and there will also be a series of new products that we will introduce under our licensee partnership with Hershey’s,” he told a press conference here Friday.

Ace Canning has been appointed by Hershey’s — the number one chocolate company in the United States — as the official licensee of its Soyfresh Flavoured Soya Milk regionally.

Lim said Hershey’s Soyfresh is currently exported to Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia, and the company is looking at more opportunities in new markets beyond Asean for future ventures.

“As soon as we expand in the region, we may also be looking at plants where we can outsource to other countries as well,” he added.

In addition, Lim said Ace Canning’s recent partnership with global sports brand Umbro to produce an isotonic drink would help broaden its business this year and going forward.

Ace Canning currently holds about 25% market share in the beverage industry in Malaysia. — Bernama

E-Commerce allocation a timely boost

KUALA LUMPUR — The timing of budget allocation towards Malaysia’s e-Commerce ecosystem is both right and ripe as the country embarks on a journey to become a knowledge-based economy by 2020.

Zilzar Tech Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Rushdi Siddiqui said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should embrace the digital platform to expand their businesses as it could help them increase their exports, as well as attract talent and foreign direct investments.

“The halal industry comprising thousands of SMEs, for example, has been an offline play and now is the time for us to bring them online so that their products can reach new geographical markets.

“The tax reduction from 19% to 18% for the first RM500,000 would have a direct impact in helping SMEs to further flourish in the halal industry,” he told Bernama.

Rushdi said export-ready SMEs needed to have access to markets in China, Japan, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Europe and the US, because of the high quality reputation of Malaysian halal products and ingredients.

He said the export promotion funds administered by the government’s agencies including Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation and SME Corporation Malaysia amounting to RM162 million would most definitely facilitate and promote the export of halal products to these countries.

“Zilzar has spent much resources to bring them online, but more needs to be done. We welcome not only more online SMEs on Zilzar, but we also want them to embark on the international digital market and (utilise) social media marketing strategies to bring buyers of Malaysian products to Zilzar.

“We are also excited about the promotions that will be done to make 2017 as the ‘Startup and SME Promotion Year’ a reality, and is confident that the halal industry will feature prominently,” he said.

Rushdi urged SMEs, especially women-owned companies and young entrepreneurs, to capitalise on Zilzar as a platform to bridge their companies with countries they wish to penetrate.

“There is no fee for what we are doing for our clients, so we really want more SMEs to take advantage of this,” he said, adding Zilzar also provided translation into 90 languages to assist clients expand their businesses abroad.

Zilzar is a global business to business e-Commerce platform with an emphasis on halal products and services, and was established in 2014.

The platform already lists some 2,800 different halal suppliers on its site, more than Alibaba, and they are certified as being compliant with Islamic practices. — Bernama

Oracle Cloud

Oracle empowers cloud developers for SMEs

KUALA LUMPUR — Oracle Malaysia Corp Sdn Bhd is encouraging companies, especially small medium enterprises (SMEs), to upgrade their technology platform to the cloud in order to stay competitive and produce differentiated products and services.

Country managing director Fitri Abdullah said companies and SMEs need to have new channels which are more internet-friendly, and with higher mobility to reach customers better as well as to up-sell and for-sell products.

“To get a new customer is not easy and it is a very expensive endeavour, but with big data and digital transformation across all channels, SMEs can up-sell and for-sell products and services to customers without incurring a lot of costs,” he said during a press session to highlight some of Oracle’s cloud portfolio innovations last Friday.

He said Oracle has empowered cloud developers with new tools, services and initiatives — to support open, modern and easy cloud development projects meant for companies and SMEs.

By giving developers a choice of programming languages, databases, compute types, operating systems and virtual machines, integrated development environments and tools, Oracle provides developers with the choice and flexibility needed to quickly and easily build modern applications in the cloud.

As cloud deployment becomes the norm for enterprise workloads, developers need to build applications using microservices, application programming interfaces, containers, DevOps processes and platform capabilities that support analytics, integration, mobility and the internet of things.

Oracle has enhanced its development tools and cloud services, and introduced other new initiatives in order to give developers friction-free, instant and immersive access to the latest technologies in the cloud.

At JavaOne 2016 in San Francisco, Oracle showcased major enhancements to the Java platform and the introduction of MySQL, the world’s most popular Open Source database, to the Oracle Cloud Platform.

In addition, Oracle shared details on new Oracle Cloud Platform services that are specifically designed to support developers, and launched a new Web portal,, that provides developers with a single place to find the tools, technologies and resources needed for any development project that uses Oracle technology.

To help developers meet the demands of new cloud-based models, Oracle continues to work closely with key partners in the Java ecosystem to drive significant evolution of the Java platform.

Java Standard Edition (SE) 9 will include new capabilities as well as updates that support the latest development standards and specifications.

Project Jigsaw will help developers make applications more scalable, more secure, faster and easier to maintain, while JShell will make it easier for developers to run and test snippets of code.

Oracle continues to work closely with the Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK) Community to lay the groundwork for Java SE 9.

More than 500 companies, organisations and individuals now contribute to the OpenJDK project and well over seven million lines of code have been developed.

Java Enterprise Edition future versions will support delivering an enhanced model for reactive programming that helps developers build large-scale distributed systems, which are built asynchronously, are loosely coupled and are event based.

Oracle recognised US$37 billion (RM155.4 billion) in revenue globally last year.

ASG sees double Apac revenue next year

KUALA LUMPUR — ASG Software Solutions is expecting to double its revenue from its Asia Pacific (Apac) operations, said the enterprise software developer’s Apac vice president Praveen Kumar.

This includes an expected US$500,000 — US$1 million (RM2.1 million — RM4.2 million) from one local financial institution adopting ASG solutions.

“We need only one bank to deploy our solutions by next year and that would help to double our revenue. From there, we can map out as to how many banks can we target to achieve within a certain period,” Praveen said.

He explained that the range of prices were subject to the complexity of the bank’s systems and also the number of scanners to be deployed because banks with more intricate data would require more to
monitor data.

He said the company would be looking at increasing their reach within the segment, which provides organisations with data lineage and metadata solutions to better manage and store their data.

Data lineage provides a visual representation to discover the movement of data from its source to destination via various changes and hops on its way in the enterprise environment.

It represents how the data hops between various data points, how the data gets transformed along the way, how the representation and parameters change, and how the data splits or converges.

Meanwhile, metadata helps users find relevant information and discover resources, organise electronic resources, provide digital identification, and support the archiving and preservation of resources.

Metadata assists users in resource discovery by allowing resources to be found by relevant criteria, identifying resources, bringing similar resources together, distinguishing dissimilar resources, and giving location information.

Praveen said ASG is looking at financial institutions for the time being as they need to comply with international standards.

“To go global, local banks need the BCBS 239 compliance to do a lot of international work and to achieve that, they need to have a data lineage and also a metadata glossary solution as well which would help them keep track of their data and speed up processes as well,” he said.

ASG already counts three banks in the Apac region as customers.

“One of the new solutions we’ve brought to the market is related to data governance and intelligence, as it helps banks to comply with statutory requirements around audit, certification, especially from an international perspective.

“Every bank has international statutory requirements that they have to comply and banks here tend to be domestically operated and managed but it is difficult for them to go global without having these solutions to handle the data,” he said.

He added that although there are local banks which are present in certain pockets in Asia, they are not ready to comply with international standards, and ASG can help these banks to get there with the infrastructure and process mapped out.

He said solutions like those offered by ASG are usually overlooked because local banks are not required to deploy data lineage and metadata solutions to keep track of their records.

“During the audit, the IT team has to help the compliance team because they would help these people to do the audit for the bank.

“When you become a globally systematic investment bank, you can’t throw people at the problem, you must have a metadata and a data lineage solution so that you can respond to audits quicker and you can fill the gaps in the processes if any,” he said.

Active passive funds flow US Bloomberg Oct 2016

US Asset managers bleed US$50b as industry crisis deepens

BOSTON — The business of picking stocks and bonds for clients is getting smaller by the day.

Seven top asset managers this week reported a total of US$50 billion (RM210 billion) in third-quarter net redemptions, most of it from active funds, company filings show. The biggest losers: Franklin Resources Inc with US$22.1 billion, AllianceBernstein with US$15.3 billion and Waddell & Reed Financial Inc at US$4.9 billion.

In the second quarter, that group of seven saw US$34 billion in outflows. The tally is further evidence that investors, frustrated with high fees and mediocre performance of actively managed funds, are increasingly casting them off for low-cost passive investments. In the 12 months ended Sept 30, active funds had redemptions of US$295 billion while passive took in US$454 billion, according to data from Morningstar Inc.

“The shift from active to passive is an accelerating secular trend,” said Benjamin Phillips, a principal with the consulting firm Casey Quirk by Deloitte. “It is not going away.”

Clear evidence of that: The publicly traded firm that lured the most cash in the third quarter, BlackRock Inc, with US$55 billion, drew more than 90% of it in funds that track indexes. Vanguard Group, known for its low-cost index funds and exchange traded funds, also attracted US$78 billion in deposits in that period.

At Waddell & Reed, the third quarter marked the ninth consecutive quarter that the firm experienced outflows. On an Oct 25 conference call with investors, chief executive officer (CEO) Philip Sanders said there was lower demand for the company’s actively managed products. He also pointed to “significant regulatory change” and fee pressure as driving the shift.

“Our industry is undergoing a period of transformational change,” Sanders said.

Janus Capital Group Inc reported US$2.4 billion in third-quarter net redemptions, the most in a year. The Denver-based firm saw outflows in its growth, global equity and fixed-income funds and those from the Intech unit, which uses mathematical strategies.

Franklin CEO Gregory Johnson suspects there will be more tie-ups in the industry. Asset management is a “slower growth, more mature business,” he said on a Oct 26 conference call. “One way to gain efficiencies is through consolidation. Companies will be more open to that avenue to create value.”

Franklin, which specialises in actively run global stock and bond funds, had US$86.5 billion in net redemptions for the fiscal year ended Sept 30, Its best known fund, Michael Hasenstab’s US$42 billion Templeton Global Bond Fund, had US$16 billion in withdrawals in the past 12 months, second-most among all US mutual funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The performance of stock pickers hasn’t helped the cause of active management. Fewer than 15% of active large-cap stock funds beat the S&P 500 Index in the 10 years ended June 30, data from S&P Global show.

Franklin’s Johnson disputed the idea that passive funds would continue to outperform. “I think in the next decade active will do very well,” he said on the conference call.

Invesco Ltd was among firms that showed stock pickers can still attract investors. The firm saw US$8.3 billion move into active vehicles in the third quarter. The US$18.6 billion Invesco Diversified Dividend Fund attracted US$5.3 billion this year, the most of any actively managed stock fund, according to Morningstar. In a low interest rate environment, many investors buy dividend paying stocks as a substitute for bonds. The fund is up 7.8% this year, better than 79% of peers.

“The extended period of the active-passive movement has probably ‘gone too far’,” Invesco CEO Martin Flanagan said on an earnings call on Oct 27. “It is not going back to where it was, but it will moderate. There will be a very strong place for active capabilities too.” — Bloomberg

(US$1 = RM4.20)

Tata crisis deepens as top executives quit

MUMBAI — Three senior group executives at India’s Tata Sons have resigned, people close to the matter told Reuters on Saturday, as management woes appeared to deepen at the US$100 billion (RM$420 billion) conglomerate following the stunning ouster of its chairman.

The three executives were members of an executive council disbanded after Tata dismissed chairman Cyrus Mistry last Monday. The council, comprising five senior Tata group executives and Mistry, was tasked with creating long-term value for stakeholders and boosting returns on investment.

Those who quit are group human resources chief N.S. Rajan, group business development and public affairs head Madhu Kannan, and group strategy executive Nirmalya Kumar.

Reuters could not reach any of the three for comment. Tata did not respond to an e-mail request for comment on Saturday.

Reuters reported earlier this week that the other two council executives, Mukund Rajan and Harish Bhat, would take on senior level responsibilities within the Tata group.

One person close to Tata said there was no certainty all the positions would be re-filled as the group’s structure is likely to change with Mistry’s exit. Another person, however, said replacements could be named as early as next week, though there was no management crisis as each Tata company has its own team of public affairs and business development executives.

But some governance experts say the resignations of senior executives risk increasing the sense of uncertainty at Tata.

“In the short term, obviously there’ll be some disruption at the group level,” said Shriram Subramanian of InGovern, a shareholder advocacy group. “People leaving at senior levels shows there’s a lack of confidence between the two sides, and that needs to be reinstated at the earliest to contain any longer-term damage.”

Disagreements between Mistry and his predecessor Ratan Tata, the family patriarch and now stand-in chairman of the 148-year-old conglomerate, have turned a boardroom battle into a damaging public spat fueled by leaked letters and tit-for-tat accusations.

Mistry alleges corporate governance failures and mismanagement at Tata, which has dismissed the allegations as “malicious”.

CNBC-TV18 news channel reported on Saturday that Darius Khambatta, a senior lawyer close to both Tata and Mistry, had initiated mediation talks between the two parties. Khambatta told Reuters he was “not mediating between them”, but declined to comment on whether he had met Tata and Mistry.

India’s financial crime-fighting agency will look into Mistry’s allegations about mismanagement at Tata’s aviation ventures, another person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

In a leaked letter to the Tata board, Mistry has said he was opposed to Tata’s aviation partnerships with Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd and Singapore Airlines.

In the case of AirAsia, a forensic investigation had found “fraudulent transactions” of 220 million rupees (RM13.83 million) involving “non-existent parties”, he alleged.

That prepared the ground for a “probe into the allegation of mismanagement of funds”, said an official at the national Enforcement Directorate, on condition of anonymity.

The agency was not immediately available to comment. Tata did not respond to Reuters questions on this matter. An AirAsia India spokeswoman said she had no immediate comment.

India’s capital markets regulator is already looking into Mistry’s allegations related to violations of corporate governance rules at Tata. — Reuters


Just for 
little ones

HOMEGROWN animated programmes Upin & Ipin and BoBoiBoy are set to capture worldwide audience with YouTube Kids.

Since the app’s local launch early this month, the studios behind these programmes, Les’ Copaque and Animonsta Studios, join a host of children’s programmes from around the world.

“We are proud of our homegrown talents and their achievements in driving Malaysia’s creative content industry,” said Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood.

“The road ahead is promising and we will strive to create more popular content with our talents.”

Joining the rest are new children’s channels by local studios such as Animasia, Giggle Garage, Inspidea, Lemon Sky and Lil Critter Workshop. These are new and original content for YouTube Kids channel, allowing children to discover, learn and enjoy.

“Malaysians are spending more time watching YouTube on their devices. Almost 65 per cent of watch time on YouTube here is via mobile,” said Google Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and New Emerging Markets managing director Sajith Sivanandan.

“YouTube Kids offers popular content from family-friendly channels as well as playlists.

“It is about getting more local creators to make a bigger impact on the open Web and letting children across the country discover what they love.”

To encourage more content creators, MDEC will collaborate with Google to provide tools and training to boost local and international success.

SL - NOF4 - Image F

Say boo!

IF a night out with ghosts, werewolves and zombies sounds like the perfect Halloween, head to Sunway Lagoon’s Scream Park.

Held in conjunction with the theme park’s Festival of Fear this month, throngs of people turned up for the launch recently, excited to explore its new attractions.

General manager Sean Choo made a shocking entry on stage by suddenly emerging from a coffin he tore open.

“Sunway Lagoon at dusk beckons as we morph into the playground for ghosts, ghouls and monsters of the dark in celebration of Nights of Fright 4. This year, it is bigger, better and a more terrifying instalment of Malaysia’s largest and scariest horror festival.

“I must warn you to be cautious as you journey through our park, for the night is dark and full of fright. In a few moments, you will come face to face with your fears as local and urban folklores and the modern, dystopian world is brought back to life.”

Sudden Impact! Entertainment chairman and chief executive officer Lynton V. Harris, was elated to be part of the event launch.

“Twenty years ago this month, we opened our first Scream Park in New York City at the world famous Madison Square, with a production called Madison Scare Garden. This took us around the world and brought us to Malaysia seven years ago.”

They created frightful entertainment every day at Sunway Lagoon with Scream Park. Earlier this year, they had the Ghostbusters LIVE! as a
headline attraction.

“Four years ago, we tried something different by initiating Nights of Fright. And now we’re launching the fourth instalment. This seasonal fright fest is gaining traction around the world,”
said Harris.

“We’ve already established the leadership position, and we intend to keep this a must-do event at Sunway Lagoon. Scaring people isn’t so much about making them upset. It’s about making people have fun. We are here to share that vision at night.”

Within Scream Park, there are eight sections — each spooky stop is inspired by different parts of the world. While the Malaya High School, Tanah Perkuburan Bukit Lang and Ah Wing’s Butcher Shop are Malaysian based, Kevil Hill, the Angoscia Theatre, Horrorwood Studios, and Chaonei No. #81 draw inspiration from other parts of the world.

British Telecom Malaysia manager Mark Darren Savuriar, 28, was one of those to brave the night.

“It was somewhat of a comical fright. Some parts were really freaky, especially when you are leading a pack of eight behind you, and you’re scared something would suddenly jump out in front of your face,” he said, adding that he would be back next year for Nights of Fright 5.

And that was exactly what the Scream Park was aiming for — having fun while getting spooked.

It was an enjoyable night for college students, working professionals and even some senior citizens who wanted to have some late night fun. The attraction ends today.


Simon spots 
vampiric look

The X Factor judges got well and truly into the Halloween spirit Saturday night.

Music mogul Simon Cowell and his fangs found themselves the centre of attention, with viewers flooding Twitter with compliments on his teeth – though they also couldn’t help poke fun at him struggling to speak with them on.

“Simon Cowell‘s teeth and speaking has ended me. Hahahahah,” one viewer said after seeing his spooky look.

“Hope Simon didn’t look at little Eric when he had those fangs in his mouth,” joked another.

“Favourite part of my week watching Simon Cowell trying to talk with vampire teeth in his mouth.”

While a fourth shared: “Finding it really hard to take Simon Cowell seriously with those teeth!”

Other viewers took to Twitter to praise Nicole Scherzinger’s ever-flawless appearance.

“Nicole’s hair and make-up,” one gushed, while another wrote, “Nicole’s make-up tonight is so nice.”

The star dazzled in a black outfit with sheer panels and glitter details and wore her hair in a hair-raising up ‘do. — Mirror

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