scratch

Hidden price of 
childhood eczema

IN less than two years, five-year-old Jenelle Tin’s battle with eczema has cost her parents about S$8,000 (RM23,800).

To keep her itchy skin condition under control, they spend about S$200 (RM595) every month on special moisturisers, body washes and shampoos.
Then, there are the numerous visits to the doctor, as well as medication Jenelle requires during flare-ups. Typically triggered by heat and humidity, the flare-ups leave her with inflamed, red, itchy and cracked skin, and sleepless nights of non-stop scratching, said her father, 46-year-old engineer Tin Cheong Eng.

They occur about three times a year, and each episode lasts about a month.

“Besides the usual maintenance and flare-up expenses, we also have to factor in time and transportation costs as Jenelle’s skincare products are only available at one hospital pharmacy,” said Tin, who has three other children aged two to 10. Only Jenelle suffers from eczema.

The Tins’ situation is not unique, as an increasing number of children in Singapore grapple with eczema, or atopic dermatitis.

More than just a distressing chronic condition which affects quality of life, a new study has found eczema is also financially draining.

In developed Asia Pacific countries, including Singapore, the cost of managing an infant with eczema may range from US$1,000 (RM4,005) to US$6,000 (RM24,000) each year.

The study, which was published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism last year, looked at direct medical costs as well as indirect expenses from missed time at work and transportation.

Eczema affects about one in five schoolgoing children here, a figure which has risen significantly in the last few decades, according to the study’s co-author, Adjunct Professor Lee Bee Wah from the Department of Paediatrics at National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

Previous studies showed the figure was under 10 per cent two decades ago, she said.

At KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), the number of new eczema cases seen at its Dermatology Service has almost tripled in the last two years.

From five to eight new cases each day in 2014, it now sees 15 to 20 new cases daily.

Presently, it is not clear why some children develop eczema. However, what is known is the condition tends to run in the family, with maternal allergy history being the strongest risk factor, said Adjunct Prof Lee.

Changes in the environment, lifestyle and diet, early exposure to antibiotics and more babies being delivered via Caesarean section — which can cause them to miss out on good gut bacteria that has been linked to allergies — may also play a part in today’s “allergy epidemic”, she said.

There is currently no cure for eczema, but maintenance treatments of daily moisturising can keep it under control.

The mainstay of eczema treatment focuses on improving the skin barrier function, which is impaired in eczema sufferers due to a deficient gene known as the filaggrin gene, said Dr Lynn Chiam from Children and Adult Skin, Hair and Laser Clinic at Mt Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre.

According to her, a deficiency in filaggrin leads to a decreased production of natural moisturising substances in the skin.

“The skin is unable to maintain hydration and becomes dry and scaly. Once the skin barrier is damaged, external irritants and allergens can easily penetrate it, leading to red, inflamed and itchy skin,” she added.

In severe cases, the child experiences itchy, red, crusty and flaky skin which may hurt or become oozy and wet due to chronic scratching, said Dr Mark Koh, head and consultant at KKH’s Dermatology Service.

Steroid creams are typically prescribed during periods of intense inflammation. Severe eczema may be treated with strong medications that suppress the patient’s immune system, and this would require close monitoring as they can have side effects on blood counts, the liver and the kidneys, said Dr Koh.

For parents and caregivers, managing a child’s chronic rash can be hard work.

“Cost is just one aspect of the disease; psychologically, it is also tough on everyone especially when her non-stop scratching keeps us up at night,” said Tin.

Dr Koh said a common challenge caregivers face is adhering to the child’s topical medication regimen, which may involve applying different creams to various body areas several times a day.

But good management of eczema would mean fewer clinic visits, hospital admissions and less need for stronger medication, thus bringing down costs and improving the child’s quality of life.

To help parents better manage their child’s skin condition, a child-friendly mobile application, iControl Eczema, was recently launched in Singapore.

Co-developed by KKH, Nanyang Polytechnic and Hyphens Pharma, the app allows parents to track their child’s eczema on a daily basis and share the progress with their doctor in between clinic visits.

It also has a reminder function which can be programmed to remind patients to complete their daily topical medication routine. It can be downloaded for free on Apple and Android platforms.

The doctors said at present, there are a lot of misinformation and folk remedies, which can be dangerous. Dr Chiam said there was no valid scientific evidence to showcalternative treatments such as aromatherapy, Neem shampoos, water purifiers and steam cleaners improve eczema.

“We have seen some parents who spend significant amounts of money on alternative treatments that are not proven or may even cause detrimental effects. Understanding the factors causing eczema can lead to improved understanding of disease management and better outcomes,” Dr Koh said.

Fortunately, Dr Chiam said most children would outgrow the condition during their teenage years.

Tin hopes this will be the case for his daughter but, in the meantime, Jenelle adheres to a strict routine of moisturising four times daily to keep her skin hydrated and prevent flare-ups. Her teachers were also taught to help her apply the moisturiser in school.

“Her condition is (under) better control now, but we never know when it will flare (up) again. Although caring for a child with eczema can sometimes be frustrating, parents and caregivers have to remain positive and supportive,” Tin said. — Today

Make flexible working arrangements available for all

THE proposal by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry for flexible working arrangement (FWA) should be welcomed by all workers in the public and private sectors.

The current global trend fulfils the workers’ need to have more work-life balance, so they can focus on their jobs and give equal attention to their personal life.

Such initiative should be implemented immediately by employers as it would also benefit them in the long-term. Productive and happy workers can generate more profit for companies.

Although the initiative is in its early stages, the government should also strongly consider applying FWA on male employees as well.

Both women and men share equal responsibilities at work and at home. There are husbands who do house chores, care for the children and more.

It has been said FWA would benefit single parents, especially single mothers. However, bear in mind there are also single fathers out there who need such flexibility.

As such, FWA must apply to all employess regardless of gender in order to make work-life balance a reality in this country.

The FWA is not a new idea since it had been highlighted in the 2014 Budget by the prime minister. Starting from March last year, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has offered FWA to its qualified officers.

The ministry’s staff were given three options — working from home, flexible working hours and a modified compressed work week system.

With the advances of technology transforming the way people work, an individual does not need to be physically present in the office.

In short, since the outdated concept of work has now changed, working policies need to also change in line.

MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW

SHARIAH AND LAW FACULTY

UNIVERSITI SAINS ISLAM MALAYSIA

MM2706AZ1_1

Tougher enforcement to thwart industrial accidents

I REFER to Malay Mail’s front page story “Falling crane hook kills woman driver in KL city centre” on Aug 26.

The construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries as measured by work-related mortality, workers’ compensation, injury and fatality rates.

The crane hook, which fell on a car, killing the 24-year old driver, in Jalan Raja Chulan on Thursday, was operating outside the hoard fencing, a clear violation of safety laws.

Safety standards and rules are not adhered to seriously by contractors and construction workers. The present safety officers and managers must be hauled up for their workers’ careless attitude when it comes to workplace safety.

The Thursday incident has raised eyebrows again on the issue of safety at construction sites in major cities.
Industrial safety has undergone significant changes over the past decade. However, the construction sector is more notable as it continues to register a high rate of accident-related casualties. Construction workers face a greater risk of fatality than workers in other industries.

To prevent accidents, one must know their causes, such as inherently hazardous construction projects, personal and project factors, and dangerous mechanisms and equipment.

Major accidents in construction sites from 2005 to 2008 have captured the attention of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) indicating the number of permanent disabilities and fatalities at workplaces are on the rise.

Among the accidents at construction sites from 2005 to 2008 are:

1) A tower crane broke into two and fell onto four Indonesian construction workers at an apartment building construction site in Batu 14,
Puchong, Selangor.

2) A landslide at a construction site in Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur buried a 35-year-old Indonesian man, who was working on some steel foundation beams of a five-block condominium complex.

3) Two workers died while 10 were injured at a construction site at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, when the cables of a workmen’s lift at a posh condominium and shopping complex project snapped, sending the lift on a 15m plummet.

4) Two local construction workers were buried alive by an excavated sand pile in a 3.6m-deep sewer trench at a site in Taman Merbau, Changlun, Kedah.

In 2014, a 26-year-old man from Johor was crushed to death after the crane he was operating fell from 11-storey high at a construction site near Ara Damansara.

There is no doubt DOSH needs to double its effort on safety education, engagement with the contractors and workers and the public on safety at their workplaces. More stringent laws need to be imposed as the present two-year jail sentence and up to RM250,000 fines or both under the Occupational, Safety and Health Act 1994 and the Factories and Machinery Act 1967 are inadequate to thwart non-compliance to safety standards.

The courts, upon finding out a contractor’s bad track record on safety standard adherence, must revoke his licences for there is no compromise on human lives.

DOSH must have enough manpower to conduct more frequent random monitoring at construction sites as development projects are mushrooming at a faster rate.

C. SATHASIVAM SITHERAVELLU

SEREMBAN

St Regis Langkawi - Picture by Starwood

Starwood to add 10 hotels in 5 years

PUTRAJAYA — Starwood Hotels and Resort Worldwide Inc is planning to leverage its portfolio in Malaysia by adding 10 more hotels in through to 2020, due to the huge demand in the tourism industry nationwide.

Starwood Asia Pacific president Stephen Ho said the group currently has 13 hotels in Malaysia and is planning to launch one more hotel by the end of this year.

“This year, we have launched three new hotels — St Regis in Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur, as well as Le Meridien Putrajaya.

“Perhaps, Element by Westin will be completed by this year or early next year,” he told Malay Mail in an exclusive interview.

He said the Element is the first of its kind in both Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Within Asia Pacific, the group has 333 operating hotels, and 290 under construction which are expected to be launched in three to four years.

When asked about the progress of its growing portfolio in the Southeast Asian region, Ho said it varies depending on a country’s performance in tourism.

“For instance, Japan has seen strong growth in tourism and also eased visa requirements on visitors from some Southeast Asian countries, including a visa waiver for those from Thailand and Malaysia,” Ho said.

Last year the number of tourists visiting Japan almost reached 15 million, and the government targets to increase this to 20 million by the time Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympic Games in 2020. Additionally, there is a longer-term target of welcoming 30 million foreign travellers by 2030.

“Since the setbacks from the 2008-2009 global recession, and the 2011 earthquake, the increase in travelers from overseas has come on the back of growing individual wealth in emerging economies, and greater flight capacity to Japan made possible by low-cost carriers, and the yen’s depreciation — all of which has made Japan a less expensive destination,” he explained.

Ho said although the tourism industry in Malaysia did not do well last year, this year is a recovery period for Malaysia and it remains an attractive destination to visit.

“The key thing is connectivity. A direct flight straight to the destination is very important. For instance, Langkawi is a popular destination where people can fly direct, so it does make a big difference to tourists,” he said.

Speaking on the prospects in the region, the hotelier said it is important for Malaysia to waive visa requirements and make it easier for tourists to visit.

“This has been seen in Japan. Before, the number of the tourists was under 10 million. After the visa exemptions, the figures for inbound travellers boomed! People just wanted to go there,” he said.

Within the region, Ho pointed to growing middle-class incomes in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, which could serve to fill gaps in growth.

For hotel operators like Starwood, the whole infrastructure plays a major role in boosting the number of tourist arrivals.

“Tourism anywhere relies very much on the development of appropriate infrastructure which services the needs of tourists and encourages investment in the sector.

“Infrastructure such as high speed rail (HSR) is important to ease the hassle to travel from one place to another, such as the proposed Kuala Lumpur–Singapore HSR,” Ho said.

Asian F&B margins at risk from high sugar prices

SINGAPORE — A higher sugar price trend is likely to persist over the next few quarters and will substantially impact Asian food and beverage (F&B) corporate margins, according to Rabobank’s latest report “Hurry Cane: Managing Higher Sugar Prices in Asia”.

World raw sugar prices have risen 30% since mid-April, from US$14.3 cents per pound (c/lb) to US$18.8 c/lb (basis July futures), as the market factored in potentially lower global sugar output in 2016/17.

Rabobank said domestic sugar prices in Asia had also started to reflect tighter fundamentals and the region was expected to experience the first sugar deficit in over five years.

Sugar production in Asia is anticipated to be significantly lower in the 2016/17 sugar season, as the last year’s El Nino-induced drought pulled output down to a five-year low, the report said.

For 2015/16, Rabobank forecasted that Asia would witness its first sugar deficit of an estimated two million tonnes in over five years.

On a global level, while Europe and Brazil are forecasted to see improved production next year, Rabobank expect a world sugar deficit of about 5.5 million tonnes.

Soft drinks have been one of the most critical volume drivers for Asian sugar consumption.

For F&B segments with significant exposure to sweeteners, overall Asian growth was about 8.5% versus global growth of about 3% from 2006 to 2015.

Despite the recent slowdown in the Chinese F&B market, 40% of the global volume growth during 2015 to 2018 would come from the Asian F&B market.

Low inventory and predictions for reduced crop are keeping sugar prices high, said Rabobank. The twin impact of sustained demand and lower 2015-2016 production has pulled Asian sugar inventory to historic lows.

Depending on local supply-demand gaps, sugar prices in the region have increased by 30% to 50% from levels seen in last year.

With subdued 2016/17 production expectated and sustained growth in demand, Rabobank estimates that there are ample tailwinds to support current levels until the fourth quarter of this year.

At current prices of US$17.99 c/lb, industrial buyers are paying about 42% higher than last year’s prices, implying an additional US$3.5 billion on the regional cost of goods sold.

For individual countries, the full impact would depend on the response of the local refined sugar price to the supply/demand gap.

In India, domestic prices have risen quickly over the past six months, and if downstream users are slow to react, it could mean a ballooning in costs resulting in a squeeze on profit margins.

Meanwhile, for Indonesia and China, where sugar imports form a huge part of local consumption, F&B corporates would face a double whammy of high domestic and wholesale prices when they buy from local sugar factories and refiners.

In Thailand where domestic wholesale prices are capped by government regulations, they would feel no difference should global sugar future prices remain high.

Meanwhile, downstream buyers in Malaysia would need to put in place appropriate financial and operational strategies, while the Philippines, this year, is forecast to have sufficient domestic sugar supply, and hence would be less vulnerable to sugar prices.

In specific situations, for large sugar users, vertical integration could become part of the long-term strategic sourcing plan, should valuations for mills come down to attractive levels, Rabobank said. — Bernama

Bursa Malaysia 3 - Bloomberg pic

Dual-class structure for Bursa?

KUALA LUMPUR — The Singapore Exchange listing advisory committee’s move to greenlight dual-class structures that permit companies weighted voting rights, is a clear move to draw more listings from foreign businesses from its Hong Kong counterpart which currently bans such structures.

In Malaysia, the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) have slid from 17 in 2013, and 15 in 2014 to 13 last year. And so far only eight companies have listed this year, three on the Ace Market and the rest on the Main Board. Could Bursa follow suit, especially given dampened IPO uptake?

In an Aug 26 note, Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG) chief executive officer Rita Benoy Bushon, a strong advocate of the “one share, one vote” principle, said the dual-class voting system would create an unfair level playing field of one class of minority shareholders (founders) with another class of minority shareholders, normally retail and institutional investors.

“It could also give rise to potential abuses by the (founder) class of shareholders where they have super controlling votes. These could include non-merit based senior appointments, centralised decision making with little recourse for other minority shareholders (they could be the majority) in cases of losses, as well as other risks of mismanagement by these insiders,” she said.

“Potentially, there could be lack of accountability by the super minority insiders to the other outside minority shareholders, and lack of protection of minority shareholders in a market such as Malaysia, where the proper recourse on abusive insiders such as class actions and other infrastructure support is not facilitative. The protection of minorities would then fall on the regulators wholly.

“Compare this to the more developed countries such as the US, where there is an existing sophisticated investor community and a good legislative framework to provide robust protection to minority shareholders,” Rita added.

Studies by Wharton School and Harvard Business School offer strong evidence that these structures hinder corporate performance where growth is sacrificed for control (for example a reluctance to raise cash by selling additional shares for fear of dilution), and that dual-class companies tend to have higher debt levels and empirically, underperform the broader market.

Nonetheless, the watchdog group chief also recognised positive points of such a structure, as it could align founders’ interests with the company and insulate its stock from the volatility of short-termism brought on by periodical reporting.

“It could benefit the capital market as a whole, and the exchange specifically, by having more listings and spin-offs. For example, the listing of Alibaba in the US with its huge market capitalisation has made it a more attractive listing destination.

“For the country itself, it could create a more entrepreneurial culture, and founders could still control and grow their companies as they would like to expand their ideas without the difficulty of explaining on earnings volatility,”
Rita said.

Nonetheless, MSWG continues to back the “one share, one vote” principle and does not encourage dual-class share structures.

“To handle the dichotomy of balancing the founder based entrepreneurial companies versus the protection of minority shareholders, policy makers could look into having some kind of mechanism to address these issues.

“Perhaps having another exchange or a sub-category in the main exchange to cater for such companies. In addition, listing in this kind of exchange would, in the short term, need to have certain specific parameters with full disclosure and transparency for investors. Infrastructure support including legislation and investor education should be in place.

“Such structures could be permitted for a number of years, giving time to founders to grow companies and a transition to phase out such dual-class structure to ordinary shares structure. Regulators would then need to have a stronger oversight for investors’ protection in such a class,” Bushon said.

Return of Asian talent

KUALA LUMPUR — Some 60% of overseas Malaysian professionals are interested to return home to work, according to the latest whitepaper from specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters.

These workers are keen on jobs in accounting, finance, banking, financial services, supply chain, procurement and logistics.

In the survey, 42% of overseas Asians looking for jobs back home will first meet with a recruitment consultancy or headhunter, with 32% saying the most effective way employers can ensure a smooth transition back home is to offer them an attractive salary increment.

The top three reasons why overseas Asians will consider returning home are to care for ageing parents, the perceived ability to command higher pay after working overseas and affinity with their cultures back home.

As a result, the top three factors they look for in an employment package are alary increment (over local rates), clear career progression and flexible working arrangements.

“Employees want to know if companies can provide a clear career path and progression to support their growth in the organisation.

“When hiring managers are clearer about the goals and progression during the interviewing process, they will be more inclined to hire the right candidates and also retain them for a longer term,” Robert Walters Malaysia managing director Sally Raj said.

In the survey, 88% of hiring managers polled in Southeast Asia are currently facing challenges in attracting and recruiting talent, whilst 86% see hiring returning locals as a viable option to address recruitment challenges.

SAJ plans RM900m capex

JOHOR BAHRU — Exclusive water provider in Johor, SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd, is planning to obtain an allocation of RM900 million in capital expenditure (capex) from Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd for its fourth operating period (OP4) commencing January 2018.

Chief executive officer Abdul Wahab Abdul Hamid said the amount was about the same as the capex allocation approved for the current operating period (OP3) which started January 1, 2015 until December next year.

“We will continue to look into the needs and improve the infrastructure when needed, to ensure the water supply meets the demand of the population.

“Basically, the capex will be spent for new treatment plants, new pipelines, replacement of old pipelines and meters,” he told reporters on a media familiarisation trip organised by Ranhill Holdings Bhd, which owns 80% of SAJ Holdings.

He said the new treatment plants would usually use the biggest chunk of capex, while pipeline expenditure would cost around RM60 million a year.

For OP3, which will end next year, SAJ has already implemented projects worth about RM200 million while the balance would be carried into the next operating period.

“To put new assets in place usually takes time as it has to go through various designing stage, as well as, challenges like land acquisition. However, this would not cause water supply disruption as SAJ still has spare capacity in average of 15%,” he said.

SAJ produces an average of 1,730 million litres per day of water (MLD) from its 44 water treatment plants throughout Johor. The plants have a current capacity of about 1,900 MLD.

The development plan for water capacity would be in line with the population growth which is about 3% per annum.
— Bernama

Jinny Wong, Engineering Manager, Carousell

Shopping app Carousell fortifies position in industry

KUALA LUMPUR — Shopping app Carousell fortified its position as a fast growing mobile classified app with the acqui-hire of the WatchOverMe product line.

It also boosted its engineering team and added industry veteran Andrius Baranauskas as director of Product (formerly head of Product at fashion marketplace Vinted).

“The new additions to its engineering core strengthen Carousell’s bid to become one of the Apac’s top tech startups. Carousell’s engineering team now boasts diverse talent from eight nationalities, including Ukraine, Lithuania, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore,” said the company in a media statement.

It said this expansion comes in tandem with Carousell’s drive to build a world-class team as it accelerates its growth into new markets.

“People are at the centre of our product, and we look for the right diversity, values and talent to bring us closer in serving a global community. Our product and engineering team has more than doubled since the start of this year, and we’re laser-focused on delivering product improvements that will help to push us into the next stage of growth,” said Carousell co-founder and chief executive officer Quek Siu Rui.

Leading Carousell’s product strategy and innovation is Baranauskas, who is credited for spearheading Vinted’s transformation from a desktop-only to a mobile-first product, and played a definitive role in turning the brand into one of the world’s largest fashion marketplace apps, with over 11 million members in eight countries.

“His experience in building up Vinted’s community services including chats, discovery, and logistics, will be integral to ramping up Carousell’s product capability.

“These improvements are essential in cementing Carousell’s position as a leader in the mobile classifieds industry. Improving discovery and community engagement are two key focus areas for Carousell, and the WatchOverMe team is integral to these improvements,” the company said.

One of the key players at Carousell is Jinny Wong, one of Malaysia’s few female chief technology officers.

With over 10 years of development experience, including founding “Xseed Solutions” — a developer of iOS applications for startups and MNCs, Jinny will lead the development of trust and safety services to enhance the overall community experience.

Wong said: “Carousell uses complex technology to create a simple and intuitive user experience, so that it’s easy for anyone with a smartphone to buy and sell online. It’s also rewarding to be part of a community that believes in changing the way we consume things to make life more meaningful.”

WatchOverMe is Carousell’s first acqui-hire, and reflects its commitment to building an experienced and diverse product and engineering team.

“We’re fortunate that such talented people are willing to join us as we explore how Carousell can improve the lives of people globally. Improving trust and safety, payment and logistics are essential to driving Carousell’s next phase of growth, and we’re constantly looking out for other teams who share the same passion and values,” said Quek.

WEIF Closing Musa Hitam

WIEF bolsters regional business ties

KUALA LUMPUR — The 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), held in Jakarta early this month, helped bolster regional cooperation and business ties among nations and businesses in the region.

Bilateral meetings were held among country leaders and the 10 memoranda of understanding signed created momentum to further accelerate economic growth in both Muslim and non-Muslim economies, said the organiser.

Country leaders at the WIEF were concerned with growing inequality that continued to defy solutions for inclusive development. It said centralised development tends to overlook or even marginalise large sections of society in many countries.

They also pointed out that often, one of the unintended consequences of innovative technology was promoting the enrichment of a few, while the potential of the youth of the developing world has not been effectively utilised.

They urged the enhancement of media strategy to improve the global perception of Islamic world investments and
business potentials.

Indonesia Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati affirmed that WIEF recognises these challenges through its theme of “Decentralising Growth, Empowering Future Business” and a tailor-made forum programme.

The forum, while focused on the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), also discussed the expansion of the global halal ecosystem, enhancing the inclusiveness of Islamic finance, the support of startups and the development of the creative industry.

In addressing the issues of decentralisation to enable inclusive economic growth, the 12th WIEF recommended the promotion and support of an enabling environment including access to finance for the development and corporatisation of MSMEs and cooperatives.

This is needed to address job creation, income generation and unlocking of economic opportunities in rural communities.

The forum also recommended harnessing the use of innovative training to provide the youth with modern skills to enhance their economic exchange value, as well as to infuse corporate social responsibility for promoting wider social benefit from the application of innovative technology.

Expanding the use of Islamic finance to grow the halal ecosystem, modest fashion industry, infrastructure development and social finance, harnessing the use of disruptive technologies for the wider benefit of a more inclusive society; and lastly developing strategies to enhance the potential of creative industries to spread economic growth were among its other recommendations.

Ten projects totalling US$899.6 million (RM3.6 billion), involving 13 Malaysian, eight Indonesian and two Japanese corporations, were signed.

Malaysian property developers Sime Darby Bhd, SP Setia (Indonesia) Sdn Bhd and I&P Group Sdn Bhd signed an agreement worth US$862 million with Indonesia’s PT Hanson International to jointly develop affordable housing in the Maja area in West Jakarta, Indonesia.

Another significant collaboration was the tripartite agreement amounting to US$12 million made between Kumpulan Perubatan Johor Sdn Bhd and two Japanese companies, Sojitz Corporation and Capital Media Co Ltd, for the setting up of an oncology centre at Rumah Sakit Medika Bumi Serpong Damai in Tangerang, Indonesia.

Malaysia’s Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Johor signed an agreement with UMLand J-Biotech Park Sdn Bhd to spearhead the development of the Johor Halal Park, envisioned to become the first premium bio-halal industrial park in Malaysia with world-class facilities and halal eco-system.

In the field of education, Brainy Bunch Sdn Bhd inked an agreement with PT Brainy Bunch Indonesia, giving the Indonesian company the rights to set up Brainy Brunch Islamic Montessori pre-schools in Indonesia.

Bursa Malaysia and the Indonesia Stock Exchange also signed a pact to develop Islamic capital markets in both countries, with the goal of establishing Malaysia and Indonesia as leading global Islamic capital market hubs. (US$1 = RM4.06)

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