1. President Widodo leads in early count vote in Indonesia’s elections
  2. MNCC organising conference to explain Industry 4.0, facilitate and fund SME adoption
  3. MIER expects services and manufacturing sectors to grow in 2019
  4. MRCA projects retail industry to grow at 4.5 per cent
  5. Foreigners leaving Singapore no longer have their passports stamped from Monday

Indonesians head to the polls today
Indonesians head to the polls today to pick the president. More than 192 million Indonesians or are eligible to choose the country’s president for the 2019-2024 term More than 780,000 polling stations at schools, government buildings and other premises designated by the Indonesian General Election Commission opened at 7 am across the republic and closed at 1 pm. The 2019 Indonesian General Election is the first to witness the republic holding presidential, parliamentary and local elections on the same day. A total of 711 seats are at stake in Indonesia’s two-house People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), namely 575 seats in the People’s Representative Council (DPR) and 136 seats in the Regional Representative Council (DPD). Also open for contention are more than 19,500 seats in over 2,000 regional, municipal and regency legislative council electoral districts. The polls pit incumbent Indonesian President Joko Widodo against former army general Prabowo Subianto and former Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno. Widodo narrowly defeated Subianto in the 2014 elections. Official results are not expected until May.

Unofficial early count of votes by pollster CSIS showed President Joko Widodo was 13 percentage points ahead, based on 51 per cent of votes counted. CSIS said the incumbent had 56.7 per cent of votes, while Prabowo had 43.3 per cent. CSIS is one of more than 40 groups accredited by Indonesia’s election pane Cl to conduct unofficial quick counts, based on samples from polling stations nationwide. Such counts by reputable companies have proved accurate in previous elections.

MNCC organising conference to explain Industry 4.0, facilitate and fund SME adoption
Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector outside the Klang Valley are facing difficulties in adapting to the Industry 4.0 (I4.0) as they remain heavily reliant on physical labour. The Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC), P2P Talent Development and the Malaysian Productivity Corporation aims to address this void by organising a conference and enable networking opportunities between the SMEs and implementers as well as investors. Titled “Industry 4.0: Demystify, Funding and Roadmap” the conference aims at providing baby steps to the local SME industry on how they can adapt to the future, remain competitive, and not be left behind, all while ensuring they can afford to change. MNCC president Professor Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar said “Actually many are I2.5 ready, that means they are still in the industrial zone. This means that many of our own companies in Malaysia is still labour intensive, especially production and manufacturing.

MIER projects growth for Malaysia’s services, manufacturing sectors
The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) has projected that all sectors contributing to the GDP will grow in 2019. In its Malaysian Economic Outlook: First Quarter 2019 Update report, MIER said the services sector is forecast to grow moderately by 5.5 percent this year, down from 6.8 percent in 2018, and would remain the largest contributor to GDP growth.
It said the sector is anticipated to continue benefiting from a cheaper ringgit and strong investment this year. “About half of approved investments were for services sector projects, creating more than 68,800 new employments,” it said. MIER said the manufacturing sector, the second largest contributor to GDP, is expected to grow 4.6 percent in 2019, down from 5.0 percent last year, as interim data points to a sluggish manufacturing performance due to slower global demand growth. It said sluggish global demand was attributed to a slower than expected growth in some major economies, which was amplified by the growing protectionist sentiment around the world, especially with the heightened US-China trade war. In terms of contribution to the GDP growth, the services sector is expected to contribute the most to growth with 3.1 percentage points (ppts) followed by the manufacturing (1.1 ppts), construction (0.2 ppt), agriculture (0.1 ppt), and mining and quarrying sectors (0.1 ppts) sectors.

Retail industry to grow at 4.5 per cent – MRCA
The Malaysian retail industry is expected to grow by 4.5 per cent this year compared with 3.9 per cent last year, due to the better business sentiment with China. Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president, Datuk Seri Garry Chua said the good relations between Malaysia and China after the revival of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project could also result in a boost in the tourism sector. “The expectation is also in line with the gross domestic product’s growth projection of between 4.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. However, he expects the food and beverages (F&B) sector to experience a slowdown due to financial constraints among Malaysians, leading to lower spending power. The F&B sector grew 2.6 per cent in 2018 — a performance which is expected to be maintained this year. Datuk Seri Chua added that with the boost in the tourism sector, the retail industry could experience a double-digit growth, otherwise, the market sentiment would remain sluggish. “By 2020, Malaysia will have about 600 to 700 malls, and Malaysia only has 32 million people, which is relatively low. “If tourism does not increase, business would not be performing. This will lead to shop closures and thus a glut in retail space,” he added. Statistics from Tourism Malaysia showed that the number of tourist arrivals has been almost stagnant over the past four years, with 25.72 million arrivals in 2015, 26.76 million in 2016, 25.95 million in 2017 and 25.83 million in 2018.

Foreigners leaving Singapore will no longer have their passports stamped
From 22 April, foreign travellers will no longer have their passports stamped when departing Singapore. The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said it will cease the issuance of departure immigration endorsements, or stamps of departure dates on travel documents, as part of efforts to streamline processes and speed up immigration clearance. Previously, all foreigners departing Singapore would have their passports stamped with the date of their departure by the immigration officer at the manned counters. “Since September 2016, foreign travellers whose fingerprints have been enrolled via the BioScreen system upon their arrival into Singapore are eligible to use automated lanes when they leave Singapore. They do not receive departure immigration endorsements when they use the automated lanes,” ICA said. This will be extended to all foreigners leaving Singapore through manned counters from April 22, it said. On Monday, ICA announced that it has started a six-month trial for contactless immigration clearance at the Tuas Checkpoint. Eligible Singaporeans who use one of the automated lanes in the checkpoint’s bus hall are not required to present their passport or thumbprints for clearance in this lane. Their identity is verified using iris and facial images.