Championing palm oil’s cause

A RECENT European Union (EU) plan proposing to restrict palm oil in its biofuel programme has once again put the palm oil industry into public scrutiny, requiring palm oil producers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable production.

A statement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the United Nations’ 73rd General Assembly last year reinforced Malaysia’s full commitment to the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, underscoring the importance of shifting towards sustainable palm oil consumption and production.

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Digital evolution and the need for upskilling

The news of the merger between Celcom (Axiata) and DiGi (Telenor) has definitely captured the attention of Malaysians from all walks of life because of the size and popularity of both these companies. However, there have been a lot of chatter that seem to paint the merger in bad light,
especially in the area of job security.

Telecommunications, tech-based and manufacturing industries are undergoing rapid changes because of the emergence of high-speed broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), automation, artificial intelligence and Industrial Revolution 4.0. Jobs that were considered common in the past are under threat because it is increasingly being handled by AI, software and apps. Not necessarily the entire business (operation), but most
certainly, more and more tasks are being automated.

That is why the assurance of both parties in the merger in wanting to upskill and re-train existing employees are welcomed. Nowadays, there are a lot of graduates who are unemployed because employers feel they lack
the skills and knowledge in jobs such as cloud computing, machine learning, data science, augmented reality, virtual reality, app programming, big data, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, IoT and automation. Quite the mouthful, though these are terms that becoming increasingly commonplace.

However, in industries mentioned earlier, they are already looking for people to take on these jobs and the merged company – MergedCo’s “People Plan” which will look into retraining and reskilling of employees to fill in various new areas of work spanning ‘home broadband, enterprise solutions and Regional Innovation Centre’ is also a reflection of Telenor’s global
operation and its role as a major player in the international telco industry.

This means career growth and opportunities. A recent study by Randstad “Market Outlook 2019” said digitally-adept candidates who have niche technical skills will be highly sought after by employers who are looking to advance their technological capabilities. As companies digitise their internal processes and services, the in-demand skills that employers
are looking for will differ greatly from what the workforce is equipped with currently, the study added.

I believe this merger will also convince employers of other companies that they too need to upskill and hire people with new skillsets – which invariably, are much better paying than rankand-file positions. And it is a natural progression to the nation’s growth as it becomes more
industrialised. Meanwhile, Voluntary Separation Schemes (VSS) and Mutual Separation Schemes (MSS) means staff can choose to accept or reject the company’s offer but they cannot be forced to accept it.

Those willing to stay can be part of a Multinational Company and will be rewarded by learning skills that can be used worldwide and increase their personal value and worth. And yet for others, an MSS or VSS is an opportunity to pursue a different career path or realise an ambition or dream that they otherwise may have thought as impossible. I personally know of former colleagues for whom the latter was true.

There will always be some that find the latest trends and technology daunting and may struggle to adapt. It is most likely this group of people who are most worried of losing their jobs because the lack of other skills and (potentially) their advanced age would mean it would be harder for
them to get a new job as many of these skills are becoming common prerequisites.

But just as companies must adapt with the times, so must employers and employees as well. So perhaps grasping the opportunity to reskill within an organisation that has vested interest in growing its talent base will be a next step worth considering. Let’s face it – the digital evolution is taking shape worldwide and it is here to stay. If anything, this merger is a case in point as to why it is extremely important for Malaysian companies to be
digitally ready or risk being left behind.

Global Warming Threatens Future Of Malaysia’s Oil Palm Says Top Malaysian Crop Expert

Developing crop diversity is not a threat to Malaysia’s oil palm industry. Rather it could be a vital saviour, one of the world’s top crop scientists based in KL has been explaining to the country’s leading politicians, who appear to be listening.

Professor Sayed Azam-Ali heads the prestigious Crops For the Future Research Centre (CFFRC) supported by the Malaysian Government together with Nottingham University, which is fast becoming one of the world’s most highly regarded research centres in terms of meeting future challenges for global food security.

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Fulfilling oil royalty promises involves treading on delicate ground

KUALA LUMPUR: It has been a whirlwind journey for the Pakatan Harapan government in administering Malaysia since its historic victory in the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9, 2018, when the coalition secured 113 out of 222 parliamentary seats.

Almost a year after the historic victory, the PH government led by veteran politician Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has managed to execute many of their election promises smoothly amid pressures from various ends.

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Sarawak O&G players set to gain under Petros

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak oil and gas players are set to benefit as the state transitions into the new administration of its oil resources under Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), with plans to increase local participation in the industry.

UOB Kay Hian Research singled out Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd as among the major beneficiaries, aside from other Sarawak-listed companies like Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd, Petra Energy Bhd, KKB Engineering Bhd  (via OceanMight) and Brooke Dockyard.

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Sarawak, China’s Shan Ying in RM7.4bil pulp and paper plant

KUCHING: A China-based Fortune 500 company and Sarawak State Economic Development Corp (SDEC) plan to jointly invest in a US$1.8bil (RM7.4bil) pulp and paper manufacturing plant in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu.

Shan Ying International Holdings Co Ltd and SEDC will collaborate on the project under a memorandum of understanding the two parties inked in Anhui Province, China, last week.

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PM: Malaysia should be more aggressive against palm oil discrimination

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia should be more aggressive in addressing the proposed restriction towards palm oil use in the EU, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir said this in response to a question on whether Putrajaya agrees with the views of oil palm smallholders that the Government should use political and economic means to put a stop to the unfair treatment by EU nations towards the commodity.

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Putrajaya still trying to make Sarawak drop petroleum tax, says rep

PUTRAJAYA continues to try and persuade Sarawak to give up the 5% sales tax on the state’s petroleum products, said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.

He said after the last federal-level special cabinet committee meeting to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and federal constitution last year, Sarawak agreed to listen to Petronas’ opposition to the tax.

The tax, imposed on January 1, is estimated to net the state government some RM4 billion this year, taking a huge chunk out of the national oil company’s earnings.

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Hats off to S’wak

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has been praised for introducing its own sales tax for petroleum products.

Stressing that economic growth is about strategy and bold decision, Associate Professor Dr Fatimah Kari of Universiti Malaya (UM) said Sarawak is actually deprived of the profits of the true value of its resources despite being at the top of the country’s social prosperity indicator by virtue of its position as an oil and gas producer.

Despite having resources such as oil and gas, “the sharing of wealth that benefits the producer state was minimal,” she pointed out.

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