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The Challenge for Malaysia with political maneuverings and the fight against COVID-19

​Malaysian Danish Business Council (MDBC) held its first ever Webinar on Friday 17th April, meeting online due to the Movement Control Order. We actually found that it worked out really well and we will do more of these in the near future. Going forward also when we are again able to meet face to face, we will likely continue with a mixture of online and face to face events.

Once again, MDBC had the collaboration of Southeast Asia’s Leading Government Affairs Strategists; Vriens & Partners; a company that is a thought leader with more than 80 very professional staff across 8 countries in ASEAN.

Our speaker for the day was Senior Associate Mr. Shazwan Mustafa Kamal who, prior to joining Vriens & Partners, was the assistant news editor and senior journalist at the Malay Mail and journalist for The Malaysian Insider.

Shazwan spoke on the Challenge for Malaysia with political maneuverings and the fight against COVID-19. The event was held under Chatham House rules so we can share no materials or synopsis of the actual content but suffice to say, it was very enlightening and interesting and the Q&A slot ran a bit over time. In the future we will end on time but schedule more time for the all important question time.

​We found that there is great value in a small, more intimate forum where the speaker is free to express opinion and estimations and be queried and informed by the direct experience of a small audience.

We found that there is great value in a small, more intimate forum where the speaker is free to express opinion and estimations and be queried and informed by the direct experience of a small audience.

We will be inviting Shazwan back again very soon as this fluid and important situation develops daily.

​Join the event here

Please do join us for the next session and feel free to propose topics you would like to be better informed on or propose good speakers you know of. We look forward to seeing you at our very next webinar.

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​Stay tuned on upcoming events, insights and much more!

to ​stay tuned on ​upcoming events, insights and much more!

Message from the Chairman! April, 2020

Dear members,

2020 is proving a very challenging year for us all. Business and livelihoods are threatened, lives upended with kids home from school, families in some cases split across continents. For some it is even more consequential, with health and lives threatened. I hope that in a relative sense, you and yours are well under the circumstances. 

​Online Board ​Meetings

The board of directors have now moved board meetings online and held one meeting in March and another one in April. We do not know when restrictions will be lifted but we know that things will not entirely go back to the old ways afterwards. We are adjusting to this new reality and will starting next week, be offering on-line alternatives to our erstwhile Business Breakfast Briefings or evening cocktail sessions.

Latest events

For MDBC, we managed to hold two events during Q1 before we had to stop the face to face activities. We had the brewery tour at Carlsberg in January and the Fastelavn family gathering in February, Both events well attended with upwards of 50 participants each. 

​Join the zoom webinar: The future Impact of Government change and MCO to Malaysia

The topic next week, a Zoom Webinar on Friday 17 April at 9am titled “The future Impact of Government change and MCO to Malaysia”, will be for members only; free of charge and deal both with the very significant event in Q1 of Malaysia getting a new government, as well as with ramifications of the current MCO caused by the Covid-19 crisis. We hope you will join this event and possibly also share inspiration and requests for other online events you would like us to arrange.

​The Challenge for Malaysia: 

Political ​manoeuvrings and the fight against COVID-19

​Key speaker:  Shazwan Mustafa Kamal,
Senior Associate, Vriens & Partner, Malaysia

  • ​​Brief recap of political takeover by Perikatan Nasional
  • Current challenges within PN and their impact on the fight against COVID-19

    An assessment of the cabinet to date, including politicking questions re. political legitimacy

    Challenges to the economy, perspectives on stimulus packages announced, disruption the supply chain
  • ​Political and economic landscape with extension of MCO:

    What’s next on the political agenda

    Role of the opposition
  • Road to economic recovery

​​No face to face events during first half of 2020

We have determined that regardless how long the MCO eventually plays out, currently running until 28th April, MDBC will not be holding face to face events during the first half of 2020. Therefore, the earliest we now expect is to resume our event calendar with physical meetings in September 2020. We expect that Sep-Dec will see a Novo Nordisk company visit, an inter-chamber 2021 budget event and the EU Sustainability Awards gala.

​​​We are still available for support!

Meantime, if you are seeking support or advice on how to adjust your company to the new reality, other members and the board are available so feel free to drop a mail to the secretariat at any point if you have concerns or would like MDBC to champion a case also towards authorities. We continue, in collaboration with EUMCCI, to give input to MITI on initiatives and stimulus packages that the government may take in order to keep the wheels going and your insights and concerns are much welcomed.

On behalf of the board of directors, I hope that you stay healthy and positive and wish you the very best for your business in these trying times. For some it will prove a new beginning, new opportunities.

Stay safe!

Allan Jensen, Chairman, MDBC

Renowned Economist Optimistic of Malaysia’s 2020 Outlook Despite a Synchronized Slowdown of Global Economy

Unveiled by the Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng on Oct 11, Malaysia’s 2020 budget is focused on driving growth and unbiased outcomes towards the ‘Shared Prosperity Vision 2030’.

In this regard, an InterChamber event was organized by the Belgium Luxemborg, Irish, Finnish and Danish chambers on 15th of November’19 at Nordic House, Kuala Lumpur in which renowned economist Prof. Dr. Yeah Kim Leng from Sunway University delivered a talk sharing key insights of the budget from a macro economic perspective. 

“This is a very good event for SMEs to fully understand how to leverage on the Government’s Budget 2020 plans that has a lot to offer to SMEs. A must go event!” exclaimed Ms. Pauline Goh, Director-Alliances, InvestKL Corporation.

The event was attended by InterChamber members and other corporate dignitaries. It provided the perfect opportunity for everyone to not only network after work hours but also unwind with a stunning roof top view and connect over drinks and scrumptious food from Ra.Ft Café. 

The breathtaking view of the Twin Towers from the venue offered the perfect setting for guests to catch up with old friends and make new connections. 

Chairman Allan Jensen welcoming Professor Yeah Kim Leng to enlighten the members of the Nordic councils and chambers with key budget insights.  

Prof. ​Yeah started the discussion with a brief introduction into the economic and fiscal landscape of Malaysia. According to him, the budget focusses on initiatives which are aimed not only at responding to the sluggish global economic environment but also engineering the country towards digital transformation, while establishing an inclusive social safety net for everybody.

The GDP growth is forecasted at 4.8% for 2020, marginally higher than the previous two years, whereas inflation is expected to increase to 2% in 2020. Prof. ​Yeah indicated that the government is looking forward to improving its status as a destination of choice for foreign firms keen on investing in Malaysia. The budget also revealed its intention to provide tax incentive and support to the SMEs. He was of the opinion that the government crafted the budget with the assumption that it will boost the economic growth of the country.

For the interest of our readers, the focus of this article will be on the implication of Budget 2020 on the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Key Takeaways

  • One of the major thrusts of this budget is to drive economic growth in this era of the fourth industrial revolution by making Malaysia the preferred investment destination. In fact, The World Bank report ‘Doing Business 2020’ highlights that Malaysia is ranked at 12 in ‘Ease of Doing Business’, up 3 places from 2019. This is a reason for celebration for the SMEs looking at Malaysia to expand their operations.
  • According to the professor, the government is looking at promoting investments by formulating several initiatives. For instance, attracting investors from China through InvestKL by setting up a ‘special channel’. The ongoing US-China trade war has created an incredible opportunity for Malaysia to leverage its position as a preferred investment destination, according to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
  • The government is also focusing on improving the ‘ease-of-doing-business’ in Malaysia further, by revamping the way businesses are established and providing tax incentives. Also improving payment facilities at Port Klang (one of the world’s busiest container ports) along with an improved transportation infrastructure is an important agenda.
  • The budget proposed to offer customized incentives in order to attract the Fortune 500 companies and unicorns in Malaysia, especially in manufacturing, creative, high-tech and new economic sectors. The investment packages go up to RM 1 Billion a year for 5 years for companies that invest at least RM 5 Billion in Malaysia. This move will help support the SMEs and increase their economic activities by creating more than 150000 highly skilled jobs over the next 5 years. The government is also looking at accelerating the approval process for the MNCs and allocate customized incentives for the establishment of production and distribution centers, back offices and support offices. Overall this initiative will be critical in sending positive signals and assurances for foreign SMEs to consider investing in Malaysia.
  • The Budget 2020 emphasized the government’s continued attention to the SMEs for which they are looking at strategies to incentivize them to adopt digital technologies. Prof. ​Yeah denoted the government’s initiative of providing cash incentive to such SMEs for subscribing to e-POS, ERP and a digital payroll system. The digital landscape is changing at a lightning speed and the Malaysian government is aiming at strengthening the digital technology adoption by SMEs to leverage its benefit, mentioned Prof. ​Yeah.
  • He further added that the government is encouraging SMEs to transform their digital capabilities by establishing one-stop ‘Digital Enhancement Centers’ (DEC), to improve their capacity building, thus positioning Malaysia as a technology and digital hub. A key feature of Budget 2020 is grants up to RM 500 million for SMEs to digitize their ways of operation. The government is looking into revewing the income tax for SMEs by increasing the preferential rate by RM 100000 to RM 600000 effective 2020.
  • Another key highlight of Budget 2020 is the announcement of 10 years tax exemption for electrical and electronics sector that moves towards embracing 5G technology and Industry 4.0.
  • Prof. ​Yeah ended his engaging session with an optimistic outlook towards Malaysia’s growth and development in the near future. The Budget 2020 is likely to deliver on its promises because of a stronger emphasis on effective execution and efficient spending but external factors are also critical as the global economy’s impact is a big concern. Hence the government needs to exercise caution. They have targeted strategic areas which in the long term has the potential to steer the economy towards its vision of achieving ‘Shared Prosperity Vision 2030’. 

Europa Awards 2019

3rd Edition Gala Event

November 28th, 2019, Four Seasons Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

The Europa Awards gala dinner and award ceremony is a high profile event attended by approximately 500 participating guests, ranging from C-level professionals, ambassadors, trade councillors and government officials.

Europa Awards for Sustainability is a EUMCCI flagship program which aims to identify, qualify and promote business excellence in Malaysia from companies that have demonstrated extraordinary performance in the field of sustainability.

The programme is developed for the long term benefit of Malaysian society and economy and inline with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and EU sustainable development values.

Since its inception in 2017, Europa Awards has allowed EUMCCI to discover over two hundred sustainability champions in Malaysia and has created a platform to share their best practices with other companies on the path towards achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Asia Pacific Best Practices Award for Trans International Logistiks

Congratulations on your
well-deserved success!

(From Left: Mr. Stephen Seine, Mr. Kuldip Singh Seine, Ms. Harjeet Kaur)

2019 Frost & Sullivan Malaysia
Project Logistics, Service Provider of the Year (Asia Pacific Best Practices Award)

I am proud to present you with this year’s award for Company of the Year in the Malaysia project logistics industry.

Frost & Sullivan’s global teams of analysts and consultants research a wide range of markets in multiple industries and regions, and identify companies that are true industry leaders, delivering best practices in growth, innovation, and leadership. These companies have a keen eye on the future and drive innovation that meets upcoming needs before they become commonly visible, often being first to market with new solutions. They focus on delivering the best products at optimal prices to maximize customer value and experience. Identifying these companies involves extensive primary and secondary research across the entire value chain of specific products and/or markets. Against the backdrop of this research, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to recognize Trans International Logistiks Sdn. Bhd. as the 2019 Malaysia Project Logistics Service Provider of the Year.

Delivering excellence worthy of the Company of the Year recognition is never an easy task, and it is made even more difficult considering today’s competitive intensity, customer volatility, and economic uncertainty—not to mention the difficulty of innovating in an environment of escalating challenges to intellectual property. In this context, your receipt of this award signifies an even greater accomplishment.

Moreover, Frost & Sullivan recognizes that this accomplishment is the result of many employees, customers, and investors making daily choices to support the organization and contribute in a meaningful way to its future.

I enthusiastically acknowledge and celebrate these achievements, and wish you great success in the future. Frost & Sullivan is here to support you on any future endeavor.

​United Plantations Jendarata Estate visit

​​By ​Lone Friis Larsen, Board Director Malaysian Danish Business Council, Sales & Marketing Director, Nordic Moors

On Thursday, 29th August 2019, MDBC once again had the privilege of visiting one of our founding members; United Plantations, at their Jendarata Estate in Perak.

 MDBC members got to tour the historic plantation, witnessing all areas of production from the agricultural source to the refined products, including R&D, harvesting and evacuation, milling, quality control, and refining.

​The delegation was hosted by CEO Dato´ Carl
Bek-Nielsen and Executive Director Martin
Bek-Nielsen, who made their passion for quality, innovation and sustainability felt throughout.

UP is a highly dynamic, vertically integrated plantation company, that produces quality palm oil and derived products. With a history reaching back to the late 1800’s, UP now covers almost 41.000 hectares of Malaysian soil, operating multiple Palm Oil Mills along two refineries, plus considerable interest in Indonesia.

​Breakfast briefing: How to feed the 10 billion world population ​projected by 2050

​The day started with a breakfast presentation, addressing facts and context surrounding the key Palm Oil issues that have been aired in the press as of late. The facts are in support of palm oil, a crop that can be harvested more than once a month, providing an oil yield per hectare for more favorable than that of (surprisingly) much less scrutinized annual crops such as soybeans. With a world population projected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, and a fast rise in calorie consumption our present arable land will not meet demand.

A redistribution of crops is required, as is getting yield up for individual crops. Thankfully the discourse is changing from a standpoint that aims to boycott palm oil to one that encourages the use of sustainable palm oil.

​The world's first producer of certified sustainable palm oil

UP have been an active member of the RSPO (The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) since the early beginnings, and UP’s Malaysian plantations were successfully certified in 2008, becoming the world’s first producer of certified sustainable palm oil. The company has subsequently been recertified twice and in 2017, UP became the first company in Asia Pacific to become RSPO NEXT certified, which in a nutshell means: No Deforestation, No Fire, No Planting on Peat, Reduction of GHGs (Green House Gasses), Respect for Human Rights and Transparency. This is applicable at an organization wide level, including investments, joint ventures and in the organization’s wider supply base.

​Learning how sustainable palm oil is produced

It was very enlightening to see how sustainable palm oil is produced, down to using owls for pest control and planting bushes to attract the right bees, instead of using fertilizer to combat certain plant infestations.

UP has shown us that sustainability can and should be ingrained in every aspect of a value driven organization. The company is one of the most efficiently managed, eco-friendly companies in Malaysia, well known globally for its active and innovative approach to best agricultural practices and high-quality standards.

UP have taken a leading role in the research and development of high yielding palm oil and now possesses considerable know-how in plant breeding, agronomy, and micro-propagation through its own R&D facilities for the development of improved planting materials and practices. This has resulted in UP being one of the highest yielding, plantations in Malaysia, in some areas achieving yields far above the national average. Rather than confidentializing this information for their own interests, it is made available to competitors along with UP’s hybridized high yield plant seeds.

Since 2005, UP have been identifying ways to reduce its Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHE) and remain at the very forefront in implementing GHG reducing projects - including installation of the first biogas facility in Malaysia and the use of energy efficient componentry throughout their mills, such as frequency inverters and highly efficient pumps from other leading MDBC members (Danfoss and Grundfos). UP runs a dynamic waste management and utilization system with the aim of achieving zero waste and the company is furthermore home to a number of tree reserve parks within which their BioD has initiated a range of ground-breaking conservation and biodiversity programmes.

​From left:
1) Allan Jensen, Chairman MDBC, Head of Asia-Pacific Region, Danfoss Global Services. 
2) Jari Niemi, Chairman MFBC, Sunborn International Ltd
3) Roberto Benetello, CEO EUMCCI
4) Dato´ Carl Bek-Nielsen, CEO United Plantations Berhad
5) Martin Bek-Nielsen, Executive Director ​United Plantations Berhad

We were thoroughly impressed with what we saw and worth mentioning is that every facility was found squeaky clean. An important note, seeing that palm oil is primarily a food product.

UP is not only known for its environmental awareness. The company places immense value on human resources, exhibiting a high level of social responsibility. The company provides emoluments well above the minimum statutory requirements and prescribes to the happiness, safety and health of both their employees and their dependents. Employee perks include, a welfare fund, Scholarships and financial assistance for education, an array of social amenities, comfortable homes with clean drinking water, clinics, hospitals and an old folks’ home.

We got to witness a primary school classroom with enthusiastic, motivated children exhibiting discipline and good character. We also witnessed an active effort towards religious harmony with the allocation of several places of worship including a church, a temple and a mosque.

​It was a long day with a wealth of information, but we were rejuvenated with a visit to the Danish Bernam Bakery and a delicious poolside lunch at one of UP’s recreational clubhouses.

​Join us for next visit

We strongly suggest that you join us for our next visit to United Plantations; it is truly a sight to be seen. If you have visited UP in years past, you are very likely to witness many changes on your next visit, as this dynamic company never rests in their efforts to continuously improve and push the bar. UP holds many lessons, not only for the food industry, but for any value driven organization aiming towards, sustainability, efficiency and a highly motivated work force.

​Become a member today!

The Challenges Facing Pakatan Harapan!

​Monday, April 29th, 2019 Political scientist and policy advisor Mr. Yin Shao Loong graced MDBC for the third time in as many years, sharing insights into how the Pakatan Harapan government have fared during their first year of operation. 

Mr. Shao Loong offered an interesting insight into differences between ministerial cultures and challenges with a financial situation worse than originally anticipated but above all, he send a message of hope, highlighting that Malaysia is constructively moving forward, step by step. 

There is much to celebrate, not the least a proven, peaceful transition testifying to a stable democracy and the rule of law. PM Dr Tun Mahathir is astutely navigating through stormy waters in search of a way to not just achieve personal legacy, but to put Malaysia right, especially for the bottom 40%, reducing inequality. Structural changes take time, but there have been frank assessments and the country is slowly and surely moving forward, regaining its footing. 

​It will be interesting to see where the dialogue goes the next 6 months on reshaping industrial policy, putting more emphasis on manufacturing and generating jobs, and we hope to have Mr. Shao Loong back before long, sharing insights on how that consultative process is progressing.

Thank you to all who joined us and a special thanks to Uhrenholt for once again providing us with delicious Danish cheeses.

Fastelavn, the most festive networking event!

It was a colorful Sunday in Mont Kiara as MDBC hosted one of our more festive networking events - the annual Danish family carnival, Fastelavn. This offered a great opportunity for our member to enjoy and share a popular Danish tradition with family, friends, colleagues, partners and clients.

Allan Jensen, Chairman MDBC, welcomed everyone introducing the traditions, sponsors and the upcoming MDBC events.

Traditional events include slå katten af tønden ("hit the cat out of the barrel"), which is somewhat similar to using a piñata. 

The Fastelavn Clown entertained the youngest participants making bolloon animals, singing songs and much more.

The barrels are full of candy and sometimes oranges and has the image of a cat on it. After the candy pours out, the game continues until the entire barrel is broken. 

The kids had a wonderful time in their creative costumes, enjoying fun entertainment, bashing of barrels, great prizes, and of course large amounts of candy. It was a good day for the grownups too, with clear skies and the opportunity to feast on juicy hot dogs and yummy refreshments from our generous sponsors - Carlsberg, Sunquick, Uhrenholt (Emborg), Arla, Copenhagen Coffee and Danfoss.

Thank you to our sponsors and everyone who came out to celebrate with us!

These kind of events brings the opportunity for networking in a relaxed atmosphere, enjoying the delicious snacks and beverages kindly provided by our generous sponsors. 

The children enjoys celebrating traditions from home.

There were prizes for best costume, and the choice wasn't easy with so many creative and home made outfits.

Cat queens and Cat Kings of 2019.

The one who knocks down the bottom of the barrel (making all the candy spill out) becomes kattedronning ("queen of cats"); the one who knocks down the last piece of the barrel becomes kattekonge ("king of cats").

What is Fastelavn?

The term Fastelavn comes from Old Danish fastelaghen, which was a borrowing of the Middle Low German vastel-avent, meaning "fast-evening", or the day before Lent. 

Traditional events include slå katten af tønden ("hit the cat out of the barrel"), which is somewhat similar to using a piñata. The Danes use a wooden barrel, which is full of candy and sometimes oranges and has the image of a cat on it. After the candy pours out, the game continues until the entire barrel is broken. The one who knocks down the bottom of the barrel (making all the candy spill out) becomes kattedronning ("queen of cats"); the one who knocks down the last piece of the barrel becomes kattekonge ("king of cats").

In Denmark, the barrel tradition has been practised for centuries, possibly introduced by Dutch immigrants to Copenhagen during the reign of Christian II of Denmark in the early 1500s. Historically, there was a real cat in the barrel, and beating the barrel was superstitiously considered a safeguard against evil. It was practised up until the 1800s, with the last known event occurring in the 1880s. The cat was not killed, but allowed to escape when the barrel was broken. 

Kind Malaysia 2018

Kind Malaysia 2018 were on from 24 - 25 October 2018 at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) and were highlighting the importance of creating a culture of kindness within corporate setups and assist them with delivering various CSR initiatives.

The two-day event and expo connected like-minded individuals from non-profit organisations, large corporations, and small-to-medium size enterprises to forge relationships that will demonstrate kindness towards the community.

Datin Dr Norrizan Razali and Trine Tveen Nielsen, Board Directors at Malaysian Danish Business Council was kindly invited by Sneha Sing, WAFA to participate the opening ceremony with inspiring speeches about kindness by Chairman and Founder of Kind Malaysia, Minister of International Trade and Industry Malysia And Mr Prem Rawat, Global Ambassador of Peace.

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