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Young, Lively Workforce Key to Innovation, says Ctrip Chairman James Liang

Ctrip Chairman James Liang (pictured) speaks at the 6th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen.

WUZHEN, China, Oct. 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — James Liang, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Ctrip Group, today attended the 6th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, where he stressed the importance of maintaining a young, skilled and entrepreneurial talent pool into the future. For China, he says, the future of innovative capacity depends largely on the ability of policymakers to ensure that the country’s workforce maintains its vitality, or risk losing its competitive edge.

Liang, an accomplished Internet business leader and renowned demographer, has spoken at length on the relationship between talent retention and innovative capacity of national economies. “In order for a country to maintain its innovative capacity, public policies should be designed to ensure the quality, vitality, and size of its workforce into the future,” said Liang.

With a view to Liang’s own business background, the Internet industry in China has experienced decades of sustained unprecedented growth. Set to outpace the United States over the next few decades, the country’s rise to technological innovation powerhouse has been, according to Liang, in large part due to the sheer scale of both its talent pool and consumer base. “China produces more college and PhD graduates annually than the United States,” he said. “It also has a massive online population of 900 million Internet users, making the country fertile ground for Internet innovation.”

There is still a way to go, however, says Liang. Chinese innovators are quickly emerging as competitors to renowned US makers, but in many cases, are yet to establish a reputation internationally. “This is completely normal,” said Liang. “Scale will see Chinese firms continuing to drive innovation, and with time, their value will be recognized internationally.”

It’s not all cut-and-dried, though. China’s scale and relatively young workforce has played an important role in driving entrepreneurship in the country to date, but without intervention, the country faces the real possibility of losing its competitive edge. The solution, says Liang, is for the government to view a large population as a resource rather than a liability.

“It’s a fact that inventors and scientists are most productive in their 30s, and most entrepreneurs start firms at this age. In an aging society, young workers occupy lower positions in organizations, have fewer skills, and less access to financial resources,” he said. “Without intervention, China will have one of the oldest workforces in the world by 2040. China is now in an economically strong position to encourage fertility, and should do so, to ensure that entrepreneurship and innovation do not dwindle over the coming decades.”

China is today home to one of the most vibrant Internet economies in the world, and with the right policies in place, will continue to enjoy growth and be an innovation powerhouse well into the future. In the long-run, though, the tech race will be won by the nation that identifies its strength in human resources and best utilizes it, says Liang. “The US attracts masses of highly skilled migrants, and India is set to become home to the largest population on Earth. If China fails to take measures to ensure its competitive edge, either of these countries could conceivably take over,” he said. “It all comes down to the talent pool, and who manages it with respect to their own competitive advantage to best encourage innovation.”

About Ctrip.com International, Ltd.
Ctrip.com International, Ltd. is a leading travel service provider of accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management in China. It is the largest online consolidator of accommodations and transportation tickets in China in terms of transaction volume. Ctrip enables business and leisure travelers to make informed and cost-effective bookings by aggregating comprehensive travel related information and offering its services through an advanced transaction and service platform consisting of its mobile apps, Internet websites and centralized, toll-free, 24-hour customer service center. Ctrip also helps customers book vacation packages and guided tours. In addition, through its corporate travel management services, Ctrip helps corporate clients effectively manage their travel requirements. Since its inception in 1999, Ctrip has experienced substantial growth and become one of the best-known travel brands in China.

For further information, please contact:
International PR
Ctrip.com International, ltd.
Tel: (+86) 21 3406 4880 ext 196455
Email: Pr@ctrip.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/68d18ac7-1c48-433c-9938-ac43caa680b4

Foreign funds return to local market

KUALA LUMPUR, Foreign funds returned to the local equities market from Monday (Oct 14) to Thursday (Oct 17) as the British government and the European Union agreed to new terms for the country’s exit from the bloc.

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said during the period, foreign net inflow stood at RM262.9 million compared with the previous week’s total foreign net outflow of RM332.2 million.

The sharp appreciation of the pound sterling against the US dollar to the 1.2895 level seems to be a vote of confidence by the foreign exchange markets.

Nonetheless, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its global growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 to 3.0 per cent and 3.4 per cent from the previous forecast of 3.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent, respectively, he told Bernama.

Afzanizam said rising trade barriers were the main factors that led the IMF to scale down its global growth projection.

China’s third quarter of 2019 gross domestic product growth also came in lower at six per cent from 6.2 per cent previously.

Therefore, it was still a mixed bag during the week, he said.

Going forward, he said the ongoing companies’ earnings announcements in the US will be closely watched.

Also, a series of Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indices would also be announced next week for Europe, Japan and the US.

In a nutshell, investors would remain cautious in view of the weaker global growth outlook, he added.

Meanwhile, Phillip Capital Management senior vice-president (investment) Datuk Dr Nazri Khan Adam Khan said Bursa Malaysia is expected to trend higher next week, tracking the global equity momentum, amid a stronger Wall Street performance and possible Brexit deal.

He said the sentiment is expected to remain positive following a firmer Wall Street performance last week, on the back of robust US corporate earnings and as the broad market remained hopeful of a Brexit deal ahead of the month-end.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Labuan IBFC retains strategy of bridging Asia economies

LABUAN, The Labuan International Business Centre (Labuan IBFC) says it will retain its strategy of bridging Asian economies by leveraging on Labuan’s optimal geo-position.

Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) director-general Danial Mah Abdullah said this is also in tandem with one of Budget 2020’s initiatives to promote investment inflows from China.

This is consistent with Labuan IBFC’s own China Strategy as the centre’s structures can be used to attract Chinese investors, especially prominent financial institutions and firms.

While intensifying its business focus, Labuan FSA will continue to uphold its supervisory and regulatory role to ensure that the soundness and stability of the market are always preserved, he said at the annual Industrial Dinner on Saturday.

He said higher supervisory oversights and more on-site examinations would be conducted on sectors which have been identified as high-risk under the Labuan Sectorial Risk Assessment framework.

This is all necessary to evidence our seriousness in addressing anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) matters especially when Malaysia including Labuan will be assessed again by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) early next year.

We need to ensure that Labuan IBFC is ready and demonstrate that measures are in place to preserve our positive ratings of the assessment and maintain Labuan IBFC’s credibility as a reputable centre, he said.

He said as the Labuan’s financial sector enters its 30th year next year, it needs to be agile and adaptive to international regulatory changes, global competition and technological advancements.

We are fortunate to be in the fastest-growing region in the world � Asia Pacific — allowing us to grow in tandem with the region, so we should continue to promote our niche sectors that have gained market confidence and international recognition, he added.

He noted that Labuan IBFC was named the Best Asian Captive Domicile in the Asian Captive Review Awards for 2018 and 2019.

Against this backdrop, to stay relevant and vibrant, we need the support of all stakeholders. We will continue to collaborate with our stakeholders including the relevant ministries, government agencies, industry players, intermediaries and other service providers to develop the centre further, he said.

He said the visit by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in July 2019 has provided the assurance of governmental support for the development of Labuan IBFC.

We will certainly do more, and the recent positive media coverage on Labuan is a testament that the centre is still very visible and relevant to the nation, he said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Labuan IBFC retains strategy of bridging Asia economies

LABUAN, The Labuan International Business Centre (Labuan IBFC) says it will retain its strategy of bridging Asian economies by leveraging on Labuan’s optimal geo-position.

Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) director-general Danial Mah Abdullah said this is also in tandem with one of Budget 2020’s initiatives to promote investment inflows from China.

This is consistent with Labuan IBFC’s own China Strategy as the centre’s structures can be used to attract Chinese investors, especially prominent financial institutions and firms.

While intensifying its business focus, Labuan FSA will continue to uphold its supervisory and regulatory role to ensure that the soundness and stability of the market are always preserved, he said at the annual Industrial Dinner on Saturday.

He said higher supervisory oversights and more on-site examinations would be conducted on sectors which have been identified as high-risk under the Labuan Sectorial Risk Assessment framework.

This is all necessary to evidence our seriousness in addressing anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) matters especially when Malaysia including Labuan will be assessed again by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) early next year.

We need to ensure that Labuan IBFC is ready and demonstrate that measures are in place to preserve our positive ratings of the assessment and maintain Labuan IBFC’s credibility as a reputable centre, he said.

He said as the Labuan’s financial sector enters its 30th year next year, it needs to be agile and adaptive to international regulatory changes, global competition and technological advancements.

We are fortunate to be in the fastest-growing region in the world � Asia Pacific — allowing us to grow in tandem with the region, so we should continue to promote our niche sectors that have gained market confidence and international recognition, he added.

He noted that Labuan IBFC was named the Best Asian Captive Domicile in the Asian Captive Review Awards for 2018 and 2019.

Against this backdrop, to stay relevant and vibrant, we need the support of all stakeholders. We will continue to collaborate with our stakeholders including the relevant ministries, government agencies, industry players, intermediaries and other service providers to develop the centre further, he said.

He said the visit by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in July 2019 has provided the assurance of governmental support for the development of Labuan IBFC.

We will certainly do more, and the recent positive media coverage on Labuan is a testament that the centre is still very visible and relevant to the nation, he said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

AirAsia sees inflight WiFi as next income source

KUALA LUMPUR, AirAsia has been exemplary in using digital and disruptive technologies in increasing its ancillary income, including the introduction of inflight WiFi, which is expected to create a US$130 billion global market by 2035, according to London School of Economics research.

AirAsia is the pioneer of low-cost airline in-flight WiFi in the region.

Currently, we have about slightly over 50 per cent of our aircraft (in Malaysia) WiFi-enabled. We expect AirAsia WiFi to be installed fleetwide in all AirAsia Malaysia in 2020, chief executive officer Riad Asmat said.

The other AirAsia companies are expected to follow suit, he said.

WiFi these days is like oxygen. The moment you sit in a place the first thing we ask is if it has WiFi and it is slowly gaining traction in the aviation sector, he told Bernama when asked on the growing sector.

For the Malaysia operation, the flights are all within the 1-4 hour range.

Within the AirAsia WiFi ecosystem, the airline has entertainment, we have our e-shop, digital in-flight magazine and some level of entertainment, especially for kids. Besides enhancing the experience of passengers, the service also enables them to connect with their loved ones on air, said Riad.

Hooking up to the AirAsia WiFi ecosystem is free (browsing kids entertainment, e-shop and magazine) but if you want to use your social media or do real work, then you’ve got to pay and I believe our rates are competitive as compared with other airlines around the region, he said.

A check on the service revealed that the WiFi plans range from RM9 to RM58, with the most basic plan capped at 10MB. There’s also a top-of-the-line 200MB plan, which is best for streaming.

Riad said more than 30 per cent of its passengers have accessed the AirAsia WiFi services and the figure is expected to hit 50 per cent soon.

Knowing AirAsia, Riad was also quick to point out that incorporating a lot of its services in the AirAsia WiFi ecosystem would also help them cut costs via fuel saving.

Once the aircraft is WiFi-enabled the in-flight magazine (hardcopy) should not be there. It is fuel-saving, he said, adding that although the hardcopy uses some of the lightest paper material available, going 100 per cent digital would save kilos for every fleet.

Hence, WiFi is crucial for AirAsia’s business, he said, noting it is part and parcel of embracing technology.

Riad, however, said the portion of WiFi contribution now to its overall ancillary income is negligible.

But the growth potential is phenomenal because once all the aircraft have the service, people start using dependent on the needs of that day. I am sure you can get business out of it, directly and indirectly, especially when passengers browse and make a purchase via OURSHOP, he said.

OURSHOP is AirAsia’s e-commerce platform.

However, for the service to have a bigger impact on its ancillary income, Riad said it has to remain attractive, noting the company is constantly on the lookout for more content providers.

AirAsia currently uses the high-speed Ka-band platform, which claims to provide connectivity beyond basic broadband, supporting real-time video, music streaming and more.

A recent survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic, revealed that some 53 per cent of surveyed passengers found Wi-Fi important to have.

The importance is highest in Africa (71 per cent), followed by Latin America (68 per cent) and the Middle East (67 per cent), with the lowest in Europe (44 per cent) and North America (49 per cent).

The 2019 Global Passenger Survey was based on 10,877 responses from passengers across 166 countries.

With the availability of Wi-Fi connectivity continuing to have a direct impact on the overall travel experience, adopting the latest onboard Wi-Fi technology continues to be an effective way for airlines to distinguish their product offering, said the association.

Besides WiFi, Riad said there is also a huge potential to increase ancillary income through its cargo business Teleport, which is the second-largest cargo airline group in Southeast Asia by capacity after Singapore Airlines Cargo as of July 2019, according to the Centre for Aviation.

We’re currently utilising only approximately 15 per cent of the available belly space for cargo, in which approximately 40 per cent of our revenues are generated from connections through our network, he said.

It delivered approximately RM206 million in revenue in financial year 2018 and is on track to deliver approximately RM400 million in financial year 2019.

We have invested in technology, with the goal to deliver the same day as standard anywhere within Southeast Asia. Airports are at the heart of this ability to do so, he noted.

Riad said AirAsia foresees bigger growth in the small parcel business.

That (small parcel business) is where the margins are. The e-commerce business is real, he said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

IMF: Strong ownership, enhanced dialogue needed in economic reform

KUALA LUMPURA major push for structural reform in an economy requires strong ownership by all stakeholders of the reform agenda as well as enhanced dialogue between the government with business and civil society, says the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF said in its blog that while there has been broad agreement on the economic benefits of structural reforms, the political impact is less settled because it would only generate gains in the longer term while inflicting short-term pain on some sectors.

It said those affected might be highly vocal and when this happens, politicians might hold back on reforms for fear they would be penalised at the ballot box.

Policymakers should factor in any harm reforms might have on income distribution and take well-communicated upfront steps to offset such side effects.

Strong social safety nets and active labour market programmes that help displaced workers find new jobs can help in this regard, given that reforms often mean simultaneous job creation and destruction, it said.

In its research, the IMF said reforms are generally benign or even favourable politically when implemented swiftly after elections so that governments could reap the rewards from the medium-term economic gains.

On the other hand, electoral risks are heightened when governments delay and enact reforms on the eve of an election, given short-term dislocation effects often wrought by reforms.

The IMF said reforms do not seem to lead to political costs when enacted at times of robust economic activity whereas it would be more challenging politically under weak economic conditions.

Even when economic conditions are difficult, though, governments may be able to implement reforms without an electoral penalty. For example, the cases of Spain in 1979 and Peru in 1995 show that crisis periods often present unique reform opportunities that do not necessarily incur political costs.

What it takes is strong ownership by leaders to build consensus in society that reform with stabilisation is unavoidable. In both cases, new governments instituted reforms during periods of slowing growth and high inflation and were returned to office with solid shares of the vote, it added.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

AirAsia goes A321neo to boost capacity, expansion

KUALA LUMPUR, AirAsia will start receiving its Airbus A321neo from the end of 2019, which would enable it to further improve efficiency and boost capacity to routes such as Singapore where the slots have been maxed out, chief executive officer Riad Asmat said.

In June, AirAsia announced that it was upsizing its future Airbus single-aisle fleet, converting 253 orders for the A320neo to the larger A321neo version, emerging as the world’s largest customer for the model.

We (Malaysia) are getting it first. There will be two this year and another two next year, he told Bernama in an exclusive interview recently.

AirAsia currently has 230 A320 Family aircraft in service, flying out of its hubs in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Japan.

He said the A321neo is still a member of the best-selling A320 Family incorporated with the latest technologies including new-generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver at least 15 per cent fuel savings at delivery and 20 per cent by 2020.

These planes, Riad said, would be deployed to routes that have maximum efficiency as well as those that don’t have slots anymore such as Singapore.

Besides Singapore, the other routes that the A321neo can be deployed are Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Bali, Indonesia, he said, adding the increase in seat capacity is like adding another half a plane.

Currently, the A320 has 180 seats, to and fro the total capacity for a single trip is 360 seats. The A320neo has 186 seats (372 seats for a single trip). The A321neo has 236 seats and a single trip would mean 472 seats. I can make more money, he explained.

The A320s can be deployed to other short trips, said Riad.

So again, I can manage my resources much better, be more efficient in capacity management. It is a bit of a game-changer for us. First, we started off with Boeing B737, then we went to A320, A320neo and now A321neo.

Besides Malaysia, India, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia would also receive the A321neo.

These are the markets we see as important growth markets.

Having too many planes in your country and not fly them is pointless. Our planes need to fly to pay the bills, so most of our aircraft should be going where we see growth, he said.

AirAsia also has affiliates in Japan. AirAsia X is the long-haul, low-cost affiliate carrier of the AirAsia Group that currently flies to destinations in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Asked whether AirAsia is looking for more affiliates or it is already a handful, Riad said: The adventurous spirit of AirAsia will never die. We look at any feasibility that could eventually work. We don’t know what 2020 and 2021 will be like.

AirAsia currently serves more than 130 destinations and AirAsia X 31.

This budget cycle, we are looking into every single path to make sure that we are going strong into next year, he said, adding: We are not handfuls, but mindful.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)