1. Economic Action Council to focus on economic development, investor confidence
  2. Malaysia’s first 200b yen Samurai bond to be issued in March
  3. RM1 bil in foreign funds flowed into Malaysian equity market in January
  4. Women Entrepreneurs Development Program launched in Singapore
  5. Monetary Authority of Singapore Sets Up Corporate Governance Advisory Committee
  6. Malaysia’s SC Chairman elected to leadership role in international standard setting body

EAC to focus on economic development, getting investor’s confidence
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the newly set up Economic Action Council (EAC) will focus on economic development and getting investors’ confidence. He said the EAC would enable the government and himself in particular to listen to other people from their own angle. On allegations that the EAC formation was a reflection of a lack of confidence in Cabinet members, Dr Mahathir said a similar council was set up when he was the fourth prime minister. The prime minister said the problem faced by the current government was due to the previous government taking such huge loans. The Prime Minister’s Office yesterday announced the setting-up of the 16-member Economic Action Council which would scrutinise and make decisions regarding economic and financial affairs, as well as the people’s welfare. The council includes former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, former Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) member Professor Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram and prominent banker Tan Sri Tay Ah Lek.

Malaysia’s first 200b yen Samurai bond to be issued in March
Malaysia’s first 200 billion yen 10-year Samurai bond, guaranteed by the Japanese government, will be issued next month. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said, “Its coupon rate should probably not exceed 0.65%.” The yen-denominated bond was initiated by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who made the request to his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in June last year. Lim said the return of investor confidence in Malaysia after Pakatan Harapan took over the government, the issuance of the Samurai bond, encouraging domestic numbers, as well as favourable external factors, would enable the country to face any upcoming challenges. He said the government’s various fiscal reforms and measures currently being implemented, including the adoption of open tenders and establishment of the Tax Reforms Committee, ensured there was a proper management of finances as well as borrowings by the government. “I expect a majority of these reforms to be completed in three years and will provide a strong foundation for Malaysia to rise and take its rightful place as one of the Asian Economic Tigers,” Lim added.

RM1 bil in foreign funds flowed into Malaysian equity market in January
Malaysia’s equity market saw a foreign net inflow of RM1 billion in January 2019 following three straight months of outflows while foreign holdings of equities edged up to 23.5 per cent from 23.4 per cent in December 2018. United Overseas Bank Malaysia (UOB Malaysia) senior economist Julia Goh said January’s renewed foreign inflow into equities came alongside a firmer ringgit and reversal in non-resident portfolio flows into emerging markets. “We think the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed) more dovish stance signalled patience for further rate hikes, suggesting that the Fed may keep rates on pause until June 2019. This provides some respite for markets and initiates the hunt for yield. “However, volatility is likely to persist driven by headlines and events against a backdrop of slower global growth and demand,” she said. On the ringgit’s outlook, Goh said it would likely range between 4.05 and 4.10 against the US dollar in the near-term before a subsequent move towards 4.15 and 4.18 by mid- and end-2019, respectively, underpinned by the Fed resuming its rate hikes in June and December.

Women Entrepreneurs Development Program launched in Singapore
Procter & Gamble, in close association with WEConnect International, today announced the commencement of a comprehensive capability building program called Women Entrepreneurs Development Program. The Women Entrepreneurs Development Program aims to provide training to women business owners to further develop their capabilities and help them grow their businesses. P&G’s strategic partner in this program, WEConnect International, is a global network that identifies, educates, registers and certifies majority women-owned businesses and connects them to qualified buyers and multi-national companies like P&G across the globe. The program, which will be rolled out in Singapore for the first time in 2019, reaffirms P&G’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the management capabilities of small and medium enterprises in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. The Women Entrepreneurs Development program will be executed through a series of training sessions delivered by P&G Asia Pacific employees and organized in a 10-module curriculum. In Singapore, 20 women business owners have been selected as part of the 2019 cohort, representing a variety of businesses across different sectors such as law, art & lifestyle, marketing & communication services, intellectual property, financial services and social enterprises. The women business owners who complete the training program will benefit from a wide breadth of business development topics such as growth strategies, business operations, company branding, communications and leadership skills and supplier relationship management. The training program is expected to have a ripple effect to impact these women businesses’ employees, clients, professional networks and communities.

MAS Sets Up Corporate Governance Advisory Committee to Promote Good Corporate Governance
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has established a Corporate Governance Advisory Committee (CGAC) to advocate good corporate governance practices among listed companies in Singapore. The permanent, industry-led body, will be chaired by Mr Bobby Chin, director of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. The formation of the CGAC was a recommendation by the Corporate Governance Council, that was set up to review the Code of Corporate Governance (CG Code) in 2018. The CGAC will be an integral part of the corporate governance ecosystem in Singapore. It will play an important role in levelling up corporate governance standards and practices and help to strengthen investors’ confidence in capital markets and uphold Singapore’s reputation as a trusted international financial centre. The CGAC will identify current and potential risks to the quality of corporate governance in Singapore, and take a leading role in advocating good corporate governance practices. It will also monitor international trends, revise the Practice Guidance to clarify the CG Code, and recommend updates to the CG Code.

Malaysia’s SC Chairman elected to leadership role in international standard setting body
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) chairman, Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, has been elected the Vice Chair of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Growth and Emerging Markets (GEM) Committee. The IOSCO GEM Committee’s priorities are focused, among others, on policy and development work affecting emerging markets; risks and vulnerabilities assessments; and regulatory capacity building. It is the largest Committee within IOSCO, representing close to 80% of the IOSCO membership, including 11 of the G20 members. As Vice Chair of the GEM Committee, Datuk Syed Zaid will be a member of the IOSCO Board, the governing and standard-setting body of IOSCO. Datuk Syed Zaid also co-chairs the IOSCO GEM Committee Working Group on Sustainability in Emerging Markets. Datuk Syed Zaid said, “International cooperation and engagement through IOSCO is critical given the increasingly complex market environment, growing financial innovation and expanding cross-border activities.” “Malaysia’s leadership position at IOSCO strengthens the SC’s commitment to drive the digital finance agenda and augments Malaysia’s position as a regional leader in sustainable finance,” he added. IOSCO is the leading global standard setter for securities regulation, whose membership regulates more than 95% of the world’s securities markets in more than 115 jurisdictions. The SC hosts the IOSCO Asia Pacific Hub in Kuala Lumpur, the first Regional Hub established outside of the IOSCO headquarters in Madrid, Spain