Category Archives: Business News

Gas for Growth – An Urgent Call for Kinta Valley


Cover Story

By James Gough

The availability of natural gas supply has been a hot topic in the Kinta Valley recently. The issue was raised twice in the past two months, the first in September at the FMM’ (Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers) dinner while the Malaysian International Chambers for Commerce and Industry (MICCI),  highlighted the same topic at its luncheon a month later. On both occasions, Dato’ Mohamed Zahir Abdul Khalid, State Exco for Investment, Industry and Corridor Development, represented MB Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir during which he described the natural gas supply issue as a “perennial topic” but reassured that the state government was committed to making the “project a reality”.

Natural gas

“Natural Gas Supply to Kinta valley will be my KPI” – Zahir

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Dato’ Mohamed Zahir

Ipoh Echo met with Zahir a few weeks later to follow up on the subject. He intimated that the state government had already met the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohammed and Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah. Both had agreed in principle to provide the “shortfall fund” of RM40.9 million.

His subsequent meeting with the Minister at the Economic Planning Units, Datuk Seri Wahid Omar revealed that EPU similarly supported the proposal and indicated that the state could use the federal government’s ‘facilitation fund’ to get the project started. However, no indicator was given when the fund would be released. Nevertheless, Zahir acknowledged that natural gas was a positive factor for the state. He would lobby for the funding and had now made this topic his personal ‘Key Performance Index’ (KPI).


Dato’ Gan Tak Kong
Dato’ Gan Tak Kong

According to FMM Perak Chairman, Dato’ Gan Tak Kong, of all the energy sources available, natural gas is the most cost-effective energy for industries. He added that although gas prices are reviewed every quarter, the switch to gas would provide savings to companies.

The request for natural gas was first made by Gan to the State Government and Gas Malaysia in 2004. The initial proposal envisioned a 150km pipeline stretching from Ayer Tawar to Chemor, estimated to cost RM160 million.  The proposal would have been realized in 2006 but due to the shortage of natural gas, Gas Malaysia Berhad was forced to shelve the project.

The scenario changed with the establishment of Petronas Receiving Terminals at Malacca and Pengerang, enabling natural gas to be imported and supplied to more industries throughout the country. Since 2012 , FMM together with the State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) have held discussions with the Energy Commission and Gas Malaysia Berhad to make the Kinta Natural Distribution System a viable project.

Two Phases

The outcome of the discussion was to implement the project in two phases. Phase one of the pipeline will be from Ayer Tawar to Lahat, a distance of 85.822km costing RM102 million and benefiting 16 companies. The project duration is 24 months and a savings of RM40 million could be realized over a period of 3.5 years.

The capital contribution required for phase 1 is RM96 million which will be provided by Gas Malaysia Berhad and the industries. However, there is a shortfall of RM40.9 million from the contribution and this is where the government has been requested to assist.

The second phase of the project will continue from Lahat to Chemor where 35 customers have been identified.

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Gas, Investors and Reinvestments

Should the supply of natural gas become a reality in Kinta Valley, potential investors will be attracted while existing industries will want to reinvest to expand their production lines.

Gan gave the example of Kamunting and Kamunting Raya Industrial Estate in Taiping where natural gas is available. Toyo Tyres has invested RM800 million while two glove manufacturers have pledged to invest RM1 billion to expand their existing production lines and possibly creating employment for 3000 local workers.

Similarly, in the Lahat area a multinational company has plans to reinvest RM50 million “if” natural gas is made available, while a glove manufacturer indicated it might want to revive its production operations.

Nihon Canpack Berhad provides services to canned-beverage drinks. Based in Bemban Industrial Estate, it has been requesting for natural gas since 2004. Its factory manager, En Rosdy Abdullah is full of support for natural gas supply providing multiple reasons of its benefit. “Converting the plant machinery to natural gas is a one-time cost factor which can be recovered in a short time,” he told Ipoh Echo. The factory started with 60 workers and one production line. It currently has two production lines and 200 workers. Rosdy forecasts that the savings derived from the conversion to gas will enable the factory to move into automation.

The reason for automation is due to the difficulty in getting labour. Skilled labour is difficult to get while unskilled labour, though available, is mobile and uncertain. The minimum wage while benefitting the worker does not correspond to improved productivity. Hence the introduction of natural gas provides industries more options to improve productivity, create a better working environment and hopefully, will attract workers.

And by extension, the Bemban Industrial Estate will attract more factories and create more job opportunities.

Revival of Industrial Estates

According to Gan, Perak has several industrial estates that are underutilised. He highlighted the Sri Iskandar High-Tech Park and the Pharmaceutical Park both at Sri Iskandar as well as the Ceramic Park at Chemor which was created around the availability of natural gas supply.

“These industrial parks are good for the state but they require gas to be cost competitive,” he reasoned.  “Investors are on the look-out for locations with cheap energy source. If they do come one can expect the Kinta Valley to grow and be vibrant,” he added.

Critical Mass and Catalyst

David Ho
David Ho

One individual who has experienced the benefits of switching to natural gas is David Ho, Managing Director of Hovid. Two years ago Ho converted to natural gas at his factory, Carotech at Kampong Acheh, Lumut and realized a savings of over 50 per cent from his energy bill.

Ho described gas as “a basic necessity and part of the infrastructure for the state. Manufacturers who use a lot of energy can have big savings and this is an attraction”. Speaking with much passion, Ho explained that providing gas will bring economic growth to the ‘corridor from Ayer Tawar to Chemor’.

Prolonged economic growth especially in the Kinta Valley will create a critical mass that will create jobs and employment and become a catalyst to attract Investors and workers to the state.  Every state needs a catalyst and the Kinta Valley can be to Perak what Klang Valley is to Selangor or Sri Iskandar to Johore.

“The growth of the Kinta valley will affect the whole of Perak. The longer we delay the introduction of gas, the more Ipoh will lose out from investment,” added Ho.

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Overwhelming Support for Gas Supply

All those interviewed had positive support for gas supply except possibly for glove manufacturer MAPA located at Meru Industrial Estate. Its General Manager Lim Kim Hock’s only lament was that he would have to wait for Phase 2 before he got his supply and he had been “kept waiting for many years”. A check with a spokesman from UPEN also indicated a positive response describing “if the gas supply is firm it would leapfrog industrial development in the state”.

The overwhelming positive response was not just for its cost savings. Rosdy Abdullah stated that natural gas was clean and green and would reduce his maintenance time. As for Ho, he elaborated that once the gas pipeline was completed, the next beneficiaries would be the consumers and identified the hotels and shopping malls that used a lot of air-conditioning.

It is becoming apparent that the implementation of natural gas is an option we cannot ignore any longer. Gas is certainly an attraction for industry to invest and expand in Ipoh which would create better job opportunities. This in turn would encourage our children to come home to work and play and in doing so create that critical mass needed as the catalyst for more growth.

That being the case, delaying the introduction of natural gas will not be to our advantage.

Peter Chan – Property Man of the Year


Peter Chan – Property Man of the Year - 1

Peter Chan – Property Man of the Year - 3Three years ago, on November 30, 2010, Ipoh Echo highlighted in its editorial about a “haven not yet lost” in reference to one Peter Chan “whose love for Ipoh was second to none.” In spite of “his foreign affiliations he foresaw a demand in luxury condominiums in Ipoh” and set about to build three towers against the backdrop of a pristine tropical jungle with an imposing rock as its centerpiece. Peter Chan’s Haven Lakeside Residence in Tambun is now almost complete with over 90 per cent of apartment units taken up.

Many have underestimated the resolve of this man while some had the audacity to dismiss him as a fake. But as soon as his project began to take shape they went on a witch hunt to put him out to pasture for good.

The ugly side of business rivalry began in earnest. Rumours were being deliberately circulated to deride Peter Chan and his project. “I had so many cancellations. Some were for no apparent reasons other than a nagging spouse who was not in favour of the locality. It’s so frivolous and also discouraging,” he lamented. Peter’s perseverance, fortunately, is his strong point. He remained unshakable.

Peter Chan – Property Man of the Year - 2

Every cloud has a silver lining, so goes the oft-quoted proverb. Peter’s silver lining comes in various shapes and sizes, if the shape, size and colour of his awards are anything to go by. Today, after having won 18 national and international awards for his high-rise condominium project, the only one of its kind in Ipoh and, by extension, Perak; Peter Chan can no longer be taken for granted.

Adding to his growing list of awards and, probably the most prestigious and most acclaimed nationwide, is the Property Man of the Year Award. The Malaysian Reserve, a premier business daily, picked thirteen developers to grace its fourth edition of The Malaysian Reserve Property Press Award 2013 held at the glitzy ballroom of the Kuala Lumpur Ritz Carlton on Friday, November 8.

And having bagged this momentous property award, Peter Chan stands tall among the accomplished and the renowned developers in the country. In his acceptance speech, Peter rightly pronounced that the award was a timely recognition and acknowledgement for small-time players like him in the industry. A fine accomplishment for a grossly misunderstood man who had fulfilled a dream despite the staggering odds.

Kudos to you, Peter Chan. You have made Ipoh proud.

Peter Chan – Property Man of the Year - 4


East West One Consortium comes to Ipoh


East West One Consortium

East West One Consortium Bhd (EWOCB), Malaysia’s largest oil palm investment scheme by virtue of land size, has selected Ipoh to locate its fourth branch office after Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and Penang.

Headquartered in Kota Kinabalu, EWOCB manages the East West One Planters Scheme (EWOPS), an innovative investment tool that allows investors to diversify their investment portfolio into the fast growing market of the palm oil industry.

The selection of Ipoh is based on the realisation that it is largely an untapped market with enormous potential, according to Datuk Peter Khoo Keok Swa, who is EWOCB’s Managing Director.

“We are well aware that there are many discerning investors out here in Ipoh. This is fortified by the fact that we have a substantial number of Ipohites among our existing pool of investors,” he said during the opening of the East West One Marketing office at Tingkat Taman Ipoh 12 in Ipoh Garden South recently.

More broadly, Datuk Peter Khoo noted that the opening of the Ipoh office is in line with EWOCB’s expansion plan for both the Peninsula and East Malaysia. “We want to reach out to all wise and well-read investors because we have faith that our product is the right choice of alternative investment for the Malaysian public,” he pointed out.

EWOPS aspires to provide a fixed income ranging from 8 to 10 per cent per annum for a period ranging from six to eight years (depending on which one of the four investment schemes one has signed up) in addition to a 100 per cent guaranteed capital refund upon maturity.

“To date, more than 50 per cent of EWOPS planter plots have already been snapped up,” revealed Datuk Peter Khoo. “We believe that come year-end, we will be able to achieve our target of 75 per cent take up rate.”

“EWOPS’ planting progress has been ahead of our company’s projections with more than 5,000 acres planted so far with another 1,500 acres cleared, terraced and ready for planting,” added Datuk Peter Khoo.

After Ipoh, EWOCB targets to open up similar branch offices in Johor Bahru and Kuching before the end of this year.

For more information, kindly contact Ms Carmen Tong at 012 818 2333 or email:

FMM Annual Dinner 2013


The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) 45th annual dinner provided an insight of the direction the state’s manufacturing sector going forward.

(l-r) Dato’ Saw Choo Boon, YB Dato Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid and Dato’ Gan Tak Kong

The dinner was officiated by YB Dato’ Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid, the state exco for industry, investment and corridor development who represented Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. Also present were FMM Perak Chairman Dato’ Gan Tak Kong and FMM Vice President Dato’ Saw Choo Boon.

In Zambry’s speech read by Muhammad Zahir he noted that the current global economic scenario is a concern. Although domestic demand remained strong, nevertheless exports had declined. As such Bank Negara has revised its growth target to 4.5-6% from 5-6%.

On the part of the state government, it has initiated a plan to address the issue via Perak Amanjaya’s development plan called Perak Industrial Development Action Plan (PIDAP). This target plan is to increase the contribution from manufacturing from 18% (currently) to 25% or RM12.73 billion by the year 2020.

The state’s plans include attracting and promoting new high impact and capital intensive investments. It has identified 12 sectors initially such as iron and steel and the transport and equipment sector amongst others.

The plan also seeks to develop more industrial estates as the current sites are nearing maximum capacity. Some of the sites identified include Greater Kamunting and the completion of the Perak Hi-Tech Industrial Park which has been delayed for many years. The SEDC has been tasked to develop these new industrial estates which will attract hi-tech industries.

With the impending introduction of LNG to the Kinta Valley, the state government is also identifying the new industrial areas to be covered by the pipeline. Currently discussions are ongoing between the state government, Gas Malaysia, FMM and MITI.

The Kinta Natural Gas Distribution System will be implemented in two phases. The first phase is from Ayer Tawar to Lahat while the second phase is from Lahat to Chemor.

In his speech, FMM Perak Chairman, Dato’ Gan Tak Kong, thanked the state government for its close rapport with the Federation. Stating that it was a strength enabling issues and problems to be raised and resolved in the true spirit of Malaysia Incorporated to the benefit of all parties involved.

Gan also highlighted the low activity at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport which currently serves two flights daily between Ipoh and Singapore. He added that efforts must be accelerated to turn the airport into a regional hub to Bangkok and Hong Kong to encourage more investments and boost the State’s tourism industry.

Another concern addressed by Gan was that the Vendor Development Programme had not benefitted local SMEs when potential investors introduce mega projects into the state. He suggested that a special task force be set up to look at these opportunities for the benefit of local SMEs.

Manufacturers and FMM officials
(l-r) Members from the Electrical and Electrical community and the Management from Silverstone Bhd.
Top supporters of FMM Institute training programmes.



Human Resource Management Training


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MIHRM was established in 1975 as Malaysia’s first professional body supporting the practice of Human Resource Management. Being the leading and independent body for Human Resource Management in Malaysia, MIHRM has successfully trained more than 20,000 competent HR professionals and practitioners in both the private and public sectors.

MIHRM provides a wide array of professional training courses, public programmes, consultation and support for organisations and individuals. This has placed MIHRM at the forefront of the industry as the sole authority on human resource management in the country. This is consistent with its reputation as the only professional body authorised to certify HR Practitioners in Malaysia.

MIHRM is also affiliated to the World Federation of People Management Association (USA) and Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management (APFHRM) and other reputable regional human resource management associations.

MIHRM’s products and services are gaining prominence and stature. To meet this robust demand, MIHRM has embarked on a strategic campaign by building business partnerships with reputable training organisations throughout Peninsular Malaysia, as well as in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei. Aimed at the state of Perak, MIHRM has entered into a business partnership with Allways People Sdn Bhd which is helmed by Mr S. Asohan. Allways People Sdn Bhd in turn is working in collaboration with Ipoh Echo, Ipoh’s progressive community newspaper.

MIHRM products and services vary from professional certificate programmes, in-house and public trainings, consultancy services, Malaysia HR Awards, seminars and conferences. MIHRM offers Certified HR Professional (CAHRP) for HR professionals who have attained competence in handling various industrial experiences with a track record in delivering cost effective HR consultancy services. In-house and public training programmes cover a wide aspect in full spectrum of Human Resource Management Functions, Leadership, Organisational Behaviour, Training and Development and not forgetting, general management. The training programmes are conducted by certified and highly reputable HR professionals who have extensive experience and knowledge in their respective domains.

MIHRM organises the annual prestigious Malaysia HR Awards, which is strongly supported and endorsed by the human resource community, with the Honourable Minister of Human Resources as patron. Recently, we organised the National Coaching Conference in collaboration with ICF Malaysia. We will also be hosting the National HR Conference “Managing Talent Across Borders” with Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, Kuala Lumpur on June 17 and 18.

For more details or to register for this conference, email:, or call 03-7955 6536.

Come join MIHRM and embark on a fruitful and rewarding career in the Human Resource profession!

Branded Items at Affordable Prices


Brand-conscious Ipohites need not worry about breaking the bank when there are outlets like Branded Collection House around. Established four years ago with its first outlet in Ipoh Garden East and relocating to Ipoh Garden Plaza in Ipoh Garden South a year later, the company now has three outlets; namely House of Ladies, House of Bags and House of Men, all within a stone’s throw away of each other in the complex.

Branded Items at Affordable Prices1The company’s outlets feature a variety of branded items, mainly American, ranging from Ralph Lauren to Calvin Klein, DKNY, Abercrombie & Fitch, Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Hollister and up-and-coming Tony Burch. Customers can enjoy these branded merchandises without burning a hole in their pockets.

Branded Items at Affordable Prices5

As a retailer of a collection of branded merchandise, shoppers at any of the three Branded Collection House outlets can enjoy a vast collection of brands and designs. Shoppers who make a collective purchase of RM1500 in a single day are eligible for a rebate card and enjoy a two per cent cash rebate on subsequent purchases. Cash vouchers are issued every six months, which can be used on purchases at any of the three outlets.

House of Ladies

This is the first outlet by Branded Collection House. It offers branded apparel suitable for teens to adults. Its range of clothes, especially dresses, blouses and pants, is extensive. Besides clothes, merchandises offered here, albeit in a more limited range, are lingerie, shoes, accessories and perfume.

Branded Items at Affordable Prices4

House of Men

This is the company’s second outlet. Priced from below RM100, shoppers can find men’s T-shirts, shirts, polo shirts, shorts, long pants and jeans. Men’s shoes are also sold here.

Branded Items at Affordable Prices2

House of Bags

An extension from House of Ladies and the company’s latest outlet, this is where handbags, clutches, wristlets and long purses, mostly made from genuine leather, are sold. Other items offered include women’s watches, sunglasses and fashion accessories.

Branded Items at Affordable Prices3

The inventories of all three shops are replenished on a weekly basis in order to cater to the demands of shoppers. Regulars know there is always something new to look forward to.

Providing a comfortable shopping environment, families love to shop at Branded Collection House as they have the time and space to go through the merchandises slowly with the assistance of friendly sales personnel. Gift-wrapping service is also provided to customers at no additional charge.

For more information call or visit us at:
Shop Lot 9, No. 39 Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah Utara,
Taman Ipoh Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: 05-547 9551, 05-549 7551 or 05-548 9551

Transfer of Technology Seminar and Exhibition


Perak Academy marked its 10th Anniversary by organising the Transfer of Technology Seminar and Exhibition 2012 in conjunction with Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in Kinta RiverFront Hotel.

Transfer of Technology Seminar & ExhibitionIn his welcome address, Lee Chee Meng, Chairman Board of Governors, Perak Academy said that the aim of the seminar is to introduce investment opportunities available in the oil-palm based technologies. Consumption of oil palm has increased and there is growing competition from other producers. There are also other issues such as environmental, land use and labour shortage.

Dr A. Kushairi Din, MPOB Deputy Director General, informed the audience that more than 40 technologies related to oil palm plantations have been launched by the Board. They include farm mechanisation, biomass, biofuel, farm based food products, oleo chemicals and palm-related nutraceuticals (food products) which were displayed at the exhibition. It is up to the industry players and entrepreneurs to adopt the new technologies and commercialise the products. The seminar offers an opportunity to explore and discover new investment potentials.

Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Chairman, Committee for Investment who officially opened the seminar said that oil palm takes up about 70% of agricultural land use in the country and is the fourth largest contributor to the national economy. Perak is the third largest state in oil palm cultivation in Peninsular Malaysia and has the second largest number of smallholders.

Six papers were presented at the seminar highlighting various aspects of oil palm cultivation including livestock integration in the plantations.


Tenth Anniversary Perak Lecture


10th Anniversary Perak LectureTan Sri Lee Oi Hian was the guest speaker at the Perak Academy’s 10th Anniversary Perak Lecture series held at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel recently. The talk  was a continuation of a seminar cum exhibition on investment opportunities in oil palm-based technologies held at the same venue earlier in the day. The 250-odd audience consisted of the crème de la crème of Ipoh society led by Datuk Dr Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan.

Being a prime mover in the palm oil industry, as expected, the talk by the CEO of KLK Berhad, revolved around the product, a subject close to his heart. The palm oil industry, according to Tan Sri Lee, contributes heavily to the Malaysian economy. “We’re currently one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of palm oil and its products, next only to our neighbour, Indonesia.” The trend, he insisted, is changing as South America is slowly catching up with the rest.

“Palm oil,” said Lee, “is a very volatile industry, as it faces many challenges and threats. The scarcity of land and labour, which the industry is heavily dependent upon, has affected its growth to a certain extent.”

He theorised that the rising cost of production, as a result of these threats, prompt industrial players in Malaysia to look to Indonesia for their expansion programmes. To counter the rising cost of production the country is looking into ways of enhancing yield through use of better planting materials, improving plantation management skills and mechanisation. “Unfortunately, the local universities are not churning out suitable graduates to replace the present lot of managers,” Lee lamented.

The claim by Western pundits that palm oil consumption is linked to clogged arteries leading to cardiovascular disease has been proven unfounded. Refined palm oil is rich in tocotrienols and tocopherols which contain high levels of Vitamin E. Tocotrienols reduce the cholesterol level in the body, as well as inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Touching on the usefulness of palm oil, Lee alluded to the numerous downstream products which have their origins in the plant. “Even the fronds and husk can be used for the production of biogas and biodiesel, among others.” This conclusion brought the talk to a close.

SH Ong

MICCI Highlights Issue of Royalty on Minerals and Gas Supply


The MICCI Perak Branch recently gave a media statement which was read out by its Chairman Leong Hua Kooi. The statement highlighted the problems faced by mineral related industries specifically the Quarry Operators and Cement and Kaolin manufacturers on the issue of Revised Royalty on Minerals Act.

MICCI Highlights Issue of Royalty on Minerals and Gas SupplyAccording to Leong, two dialogue sessions were held with the Minerals and Geoscience Departments since October. While the dialogue sessions were a good platform to understand the issues facing the industry, the industry players say that the royalty rates fixed earlier this year are not acceptable to many as “the rates will cause competitiveness issues and hinder local and foreign investment”.

Leong said that the industry players have acknowledged that most of the rates have been finalized and are currently pending approval when tabled at the next sitting of the State Assembly. The industry players are now requesting that the negotiated rates when approved be fixed for the next five years with the expiry date at December 31, 2016 in order to assure investors of the certainty of doing business here.

Gas Supply

Another topic of concern raised was the the request of gas supply which, according to Leong, “has been a long standing request by all the Chambers ie MICCI, FMM and PCCCI”.

Leong lamented that the scheduled meeting on November 26 to discuss the issue of gas supply was postponed to a later date and hoped that the state government would take a serious view to address the issue with the federal government.

“If necessary we welcome more dialogue between the industries and government similar to the dialogue with PTG in order to enable a more conducive business environment in the state,” added Leong.


State-Wide Transformation Approach


Perak became the first state to advocate the State-Wide Transformation Approach (S.W.A.T.) programme, in line with the Government Transformation Programme.

State-Wide Transformation Approach - SWAT

Taking some three and a half months to prepare, with the assistance of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and the Prime Minister’s Department, it was launched by Chief Minister Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir at the State Secretariat Building recently.

Another first achieved by the state is successfully coming out with a Strategic Organisation Plan for all local authorities, district and land offices and the Perak state secretariat office. The plan complements the Risk Management Plan formulated by the state secretariat office.

Perak is also first in developing a Business Continuity Management (BCM) plan based on a format by MAMPU.

At the launching ceremony, 25 heads of departments and government agencies received the S.W.A.T. documentation, which incorporated the four plans: Strategic Plan, Strategic ICT Plan, Risk Management Plan and Business Continuity Management Plan. They are to implement these plans for a smoother and hasslefree delivery system.