Malaysia's New Economic Model

MALAYSIA - The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, has eventually unveiled details of his New Economic Model for Malaysia. In a recent business conference, he announced his country's ambition to join the group of developped nations within 10 years, planning to more than double the $7000 per capita income of today through sustained growth, attracting foreign investments and boosting productivity. Particularly noticeable was the perspective to potentially overhaul affirmative action policies, implemented in the 70's, whose original aim was to close the wealth gap between Bumiputras (native malays) and the minority chinese community, but are now accused of breeding over reliance on the State among malays and allowing improper advantages to the elites.


A member of the Asian tigers club, Malaysia has realized tremenduous economic progress in recent years but is still in a position considered fragile in view of upcoming challenges in the country and in the region. The country has to adress structural inequalities and promote harmony within its various communities while dealing with shrinking foreign investments, due to increasing competition in South East Asia and from China.

NEM Highlights:

As part of the New Economic Model, the weight of public capital into the country's economy should be reduced in order to allow more space for private actors in Malaysia and Foreign Investors.

- The Malaysian Industrial Development Authority would be incorporated and renamed as Malaysian Investment Development Authority to increase it's performance in attracting Foreign investments.

- Main sectors under the spotlights are: oil and gas, Electronic & Electrical, Tourism, Agriculture and Financial services.

- There would be no tolerance for corruption

- and The Education system would be modernized to develop a high quality workforce.

It is expected that the NEM, through economic growth and productivity improvement, would allow salaries to increase and thus improve the quality of life of every single Malaysian. The whole process, which, according to local commentators, is to be challenged along the way, should now be submitted to public consultation.


Further readings

Danone plays it's world cup in Kuala Lumpur

On March 26, took place the South East Asian final of the Danoners world cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A colorful competition where teams from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia-New Zealand and Vietnam vyied with each other to obtain their ticket for the worldwide final in Athens. Beyond the event itself, and what it represents for Danoners, it was also the opportunity to throw light on two distinctive aspects: the location: cyberjaya, and the service provider: Inspired events.


Danone's world cup : soccer as a means of communication.


Danoners world cup

Danone loves soccer and has even partnered with Zinedine Zidane for being the group's Ambassador in various sustainable projects in emerging countries.

For many years, this passion for soccer, as a link between men and communities, has found it's expression, within the company, through the organization of the Danone world cup. The cup provides teams from various product lines and locations with opportunities to meet on the sports field. the competition, which is essentially festive, starts within each country. For everyone, it is the occasion to understand the extent of the group, its activities and it's wealth stemming from the diversity of it's employees: a key feature for Danone in Asia pacific. General Managers and Hr Directors alike, among others, did participate actively as organizers, supporters or players; all teams feeling the heat of the competition. 

A competition with its winners: this year, Australia-New Zealand  won over Thailand in the female tournament and Malaysia won over Thailand in the male competition. Both teams will represent South East Asia in the final step of the global tournament in Athens.


Cyberjaya, the silicon valley of Malaysia

As the Danoners world cup was taking place on the multimedia University campus, it gave the occasion to discover a concrete expression of the "multimedia supercorridor" which has been initiated in Malaysia 10 years ago in order to attract high tech companies, facilitate the creation of clusters and stimulate the developement of start ups. 10 years later, Cyberjaya is the country's technological vitrine. Most of key High Tech players have settled in the area, Universities have joined, as well as research centers. Companies enjoy many advantages: excellent telecommunication infrastructure, no tax during 10 years, no limitation to the hiring of foreigners.


Inspired events : a young company created by two young Malaysian entrepreneurs.

They have not registered their company in Cyberjaya, but they are representative of a young generation of entrepreneurs in Malaysia, who don't hesitate to launch their own company and are providing highly qualified professional services at a regional scale. Together with his partner, Avin Indran co-created Inspired events, two years ago, an events organization specialist which coordinated all aspects of the Danoners'world cup in Kuala Lumpur.

Avin Idran has been working for several years for an events provider, before creating his own company because his former employer seemed not to be concerned enough with new trends and technology. To the contrary, Avin Idran and his partner, paid particular attention to communication aspects and internet, with a website which is now the primary source of leads for the company.

Inspired events organizes corporate events, concerts and training campus, mainly in Malaysia and Singapore.

Do they find it difficult to find qualified employees? It doesn't look so. Says Avin Idran: "we are looking for autonomous, customer oriented and well organized employees for taking care of various aspects. During the Danoners’s world cup, the company had to maintain and coordinate various teams to take care of the tournament, it's animation, photographs, health and safety and catering services…  Each event requires the capacity to be reactive and adapt to small crisis. Things are only seldom running smoothly and clients regularly have specific expectations. One have to pay attention to details while being able to react rapidly".


Expatriates are not all going to Heaven

Dreamt of expatriation and reality: for the expatriate and furthermore his spouse, the relation between the most glamorous aspects of what had primarily been fantasied and reality of day to day life locally is sometimes far fetched. Even in Singapore, Heaven might occasionally taste like Hell, but nobody ushers a word about it: who would listen ?

Smiling expatriate, crying expatriate

Within dual career couples, perspectives on expatriation may differ slightly. The expatriate with a job is often working intensively,  travelling extensively and dealing with the "delights" of cross cultural management. Difficulties to adapt, being far away from headquarters, an impression of loneliness and poor recognition are the usual lot. But such a lot is also, in various proportions, often compensated by a colourful wrapping which helps the expatriate consider his situation with philosophy: a self enriching and professionally supportive experience, valorizing challenges, a high social status, good career prospects, quality of life... If the expatriation is not always a paradise, it prevails, in Singapore, of distinctives charms and, some exceptions apart, do not bear all characteristics of an inferno.

For the "trailing" spouse, the situation is immediately different. In most cases, going on expatriation starts with a painful decision: quitting one's job. In numerous occasions, such a decision is welcome as an opportunity to make a career break. For others, with the right expertise, skills and areas of interest, finding a new position in a trailing spouses friendly country won't be a major difficulty. Such is the case of Stephanie who, within weeks, managed to find a new job in HR. But all "trailing" spouses don't have the same chance. For them, quitting one's job not only means a career break but also implies the loss of an income and financial autonomy, loss of a professional environment ( office, agenda, auxiliary services...), loss of an active social status, loss of a network of relations. "Since I have arrived in Singapore, I am only considered as "the wife of"" says Aurélie, a former logistics consultant now looking for a position in Singapore. The situation echoes in various areas, ultimately altering relations within the expatriates couple: the family equilibrium has changed, both members are no longer in equal position and have therefore to adapt. Some Manage to do so, some don't. In such conditions, no matter how attractive the conditions of life in Heaven- swimming pool, free time, sport activities or shopping- the expatriation experience equates primarily to suffering. Some don't sustain the situation: divorce, prematured repatriation, breakdown...

Hell in Heaven

When one gets the chance to live in such an enviable environment, who could dare complain about his difficulties and who would listen? Singapore, in that respect is a marvellous track: how to express one's frustrations when everyone around seems to be perfectly well (the other expatriates) or envy you (those who remained in the home country). Trailing spouses sometimes are the first not to understand Themselves: whatever the most positive aspects, the areas of interest, they have the feeling of not catching anything, of having nothing to talk about. When the working spouse comes back home at the end of the day and talks about what he/she has been doing, the other finds it difficult to introduce variety in his own daily experience and doesn't always find an empathetic listening. 

Hurdles and loopholes

And yet trailing spouses do not resign and face challenges. In a confusing form of unity, institutional advisors, recruiters and consultants provide them with - often- discouraging messages: « the job market is saturated », « There's no opportunity in your area of expertise or at your level of qualification», « jobs are restricted to locals or permanent residents », « You have not enough experience in Asia»,  « Your english language is not sufficient », « Local regulation imposes quotas »…  Nevertheless, trailing spouses keep going forward, intensify their search and eventually find an opportunity. They sometimes have to make compromises on their salary, the level of the job or the area of activity. In certain cases, they find unique opportunities, create their own business, invest in non for profit activities, resume academic studies or give time to their passion. In those cases heaven is not so far away... until the moment of coming back.

Article published (in French) in


The Shanghai expo starts in May

The Shanghai universal Expo, which is due to last from May,1 to October,31 2010, has entered it's last weeks of intense preparation. The event promises to be huge, with more than 70 millions visitors expected and over 200 participating countries.

Hosted on both sides of the Huangpu river, between the Lupu bridge and the Nanpu bridge, the expo is dedicated to a " Better city, better life ", "representing the common wish of the whole humankind for a better living in future urban environments".

For Shanghai, the expo represents a key step towards global recognition, not only as the economic capital of China, but also as a leading city in urban trends and quality of living. It was precedeed by giant investments in infrastructure - roads, tunnels, subway- and in english learning to leverage the capability of the town to welcome a continuously growing number of foreigners.

The expo should also underline the emergence of the chinese middle class: amongst the 70 millions visitors, more than 90% should come from China.


Saudi could allow women lawyers in court

"AFP - Saudi Arabia could soon allow women lawyers to appear in court, though apparently only representing other women, the country's justice minister said in comments published on Sunday.

Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa said the ministry is drafting new rules to permit female lawyers to argue family cases, which could be passed soon, Saudi newspapers reported.

The women would be able to represent women in marriage, divorce, custody and other family cases, the newspapers said.

Female lawyers in the kingdom, where strict Islamic doctrine and shariah law have enforced separation of genders, can currently work only inside the women's sections of law and government offices, where they do not come into contact with men.

All judges in the kingdom are male religious clerics.

As part of ongoing judicial reforms, the Saudi government is developing a network of specialised courts, including "personal status" or family courts, where the women lawyers would be allowed to practice."

Economy: Japan still ahead of China in 2009

Thanks to a last quarter in 2009 which was better than expected, with a 1,1% growth of its gross interior product, Japan remains the number 2 world Economy in 2009.

But 2009 was a very difficult year for Japan. It's economy contracted by 5% in 2009, the worst results since 1955, and it's growth in 2010, according to gevernmental sources, should not exceed 1,4%.

In these conditions, Japan could well cede it's 2nd rank to China as soon as in 2010 : it's total GDP in 2009 was 3.871 billions €, compared with china's 3.594 billions €.

If the leader's future is global, mobility is the learning ground

10 years ago, Accenture conducted a survey on the characteristics of the "leader of the future". 10 years later, are those traits been integrated by today's leaders? During the last decade, the globalization of the economy has continued to expand, with the emergence of new key actors and an engine "made in Asia". The current business context requires new abilities from our leaders, stemming from a world that has become global, cross cultural and slightly virtual. But if our leaders have undeniably progressed, companies are lagging to implement the right policies for breeding their talents within this new paradigm and to take all the best advantages from international mobility.


The new leader's skills: the usual and more, definitely global.

Back in 1999, the Accenture survey had shown that, while some competencies would remain constant, 5 Key characteristics were to be increasingly critical:

  • Thinking globally
  • Appreciating cultural diversity
  • Demonstrating technological savvy
  • Building partnerships
  • Sharing leadership




► Thinking globally

Companies can no more focus on their country or region. Global leaders must have an in depth understanding of globalization and how it impacts on various aspects of the business.

Amongst leaders interviewed, "several suggested that future leaders might need to spend time in multiple countries to better understand how multi-country trade could help their organizations achieve a competitive advantage". It is not surprising that the last decade has seen the development of learning expeditions, where a group of leaders travel abroad together, visiting companies, discovering new environments and various business models (microcredit organization included), as a way to benchmark their own practices with inputs from totally different contexts, and to develop their global awareness.

► Appreciating cultural diversity

As organizations become global, leaders are increasingly involved in the management of cross cultural teams, with team members more than often split over different places of the globe.

The challenge for the new leader is to go beyond his own filters, understand different values, behaviours and ways of achieving results. Not only must he be capable of adapting to different situations and avoid misunderstanding, but his key cross cultural capacities should enable him to mine extra-ordinary resources from diversity.

► Demonstrating technological savvy

Technology currently has and will continue to have a major impact on businesses, the way we do it and how we will interact. The global leader must be capable to make the best use of new technologies and trends to optimize the performance of his organization.

Generation Y leaders were born in an entirely different technological environment from their predecessors'. They should facilitate the removal of old barriers and promote whatever benefits they can mine from technology.

► Building partnership

The business world has changed and the positions of the actors have evolved subsequently. Companies are building links together on various occasions: joint ventures, joint research, joint offers... A company can no longer consider a competitor strictly as such, as the latest may well on different occasion switch to being a partner, a supplier or a client.

The future leader must be savvy in the art of building networks and capitalizing not only on his own traditional resources but on his global human capital, which includes subcontractors, consultants, temporary workers, ... and various pool of talents (such as dualexpat).

► Sharing leadership

As organizations become more complex, geographically splitted and intertwined with other companies and stakeholders, leaders will have to share leadership and to build on vision and facilitation.

At the time of the research, the authors stressed that contemporaneous leaders were largely unaware of those emerging skills that their younger colleagues were foreseeing.


A decade later, is this set of strategic competencies largely agreed on by a new generation of corporate leaders?

If the answer is yes, it should provide savvy companies with ample reasons to handle the management of their expatriate with renewed attention and to recognize, beyond cost considerations and the need to breed local talents, that international assignments should remain a key way for their organization and individuals to walk the global talk.


What can we expect from international mobility?

In an article published at the same period "Are we taking our expatriate talents seriously?", McKinsey consultants stated that while companies largely considered that "in a world of intensifying competition for human capital, a strong global talent pool has become a strategic asset and one of the few sources of sustainable competitive advantage", they didn't always translate this belief in their talents and mobility management practices.

Expatriates may not be the ultimate solution

It is sometimes considered that expatriates are over privileged and that, in many not so uncomfortable contries, they take advantage of undue benefits, remnants of the past or typical output of an expatriate costs bubble.

Expatriation is difficult to manage. It is expensive. It implies dealing with a full range of constraints and the risks of failure remain high, with huge financial and stakeholders relations consequences.

The large use of expatriates by multinational companies can be also resented negatively by local talents in increasing regions where talents abound and have developped a competitive set of skills compared with their expatriate counterparts.


But international assignments of the very best talents will  remain the best way for companies to achieve sustainable high performance in their global operations.

Said the Mckinsey authors: "expatriates play the critical role in the process of transforming opportunities into thriing businesses by transferring (typically from the company's home base) the required institutional resources, technologies and know how; by building country specific knowledge and relationships; and by developing the local talent that is the key to long term success and profitability."

The new set of strategic skills for the global leader, be it the capacity to think globally, manage diversity or work in a largely virtual environment, throws an additional light on expatriation which is to enable future leaders to actually learn and implement the competencies that they need to successfully carry on the management of global corporations.

In that respect, the management of international mobility should not merely considered as a way of sufficiently encouraging mobility so that enough talented individuals would continue to apply to or accept international assignment. It should increasingly be interpreted as an imperative for breeding overseas the very best talents who will be key for the success of the company in the long run. A change of focus that is not only a switch of perspective as the challenge for the future whould be no longer "how do we manage expatriates?" but "how can we expatriate our very best talents?".



"Are we taking our expatriate talents seriously?"- Tsun-yan Hsieh, Johanne Lavoie and Robert Samek. The article can be downloaded at this adress: Aluminium jobs

Australia tightens its migration rules

Australia tightened yesterday it's migration rules in an effort to slow the inflow of foreign students attending short and low level education programs in hope to settle in the country, and to reemphasize the need to preferably welcome engineers and doctors.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said about 20,000 overseas applications have been rejected, and new rules would require better english skills and target the best and the brightest.

► See the new rules on the Australian Immigration Website

Australia has experienced a sudden rise of Foreign students in recent years, climbing from 150,000 in 2002 to almost 400,000 in 2009. India recently overtook China as the largest source of applicants (117,000 students), ahead of South Korea, Nepal, Thailand and Brazil.


Photographies from Florence Notte

Expatriate in Singapore, Florence Notte has taken advantage of her stay in the city State to perfect her art in photography. After an exhibition last year, she launches her last book on February 9th. An urban journey where natural mirror effects ceaselessly reinvent new perspectives and where building transmute into frames holding captive a mystified reality.  


Website of the gallery: giveArt

Singapore envisions its future: talents, innovation, attractivity.

Established in May 2009, the Economic Strategies commitee (ESC) submitted on the 1rst of February its key recommendations to ensure sustainable growth and maximize Singapore's ability to benefit from current opportunities in the Region.

The aim of the exercise was to look beyond the coming decade, and to work with no delay on how to adress the opportunities and challenges that will condition Singapore's continuous success and comfort it's central role in the Region.

Singapore wants to capitalize on it's past achievements. Despite the global crisis in 2008-2009, GDP growth remained at a high level, averaging 5% annually. Growth during the coming decade should remain steady, with a 3-5% GDP growth rate.

The crisis has reinforced the shift of markets to Asia, and Singapore wants to take the best advantage of it.

One of the main challenges should be to fuel the growth through increased productivity, which should grow at a 2-3% annual pace throughout the coming decade, compared with only 1% between 2000 and 2010.


Investing on talents and skills

Improve productivity

The focus on productivity appears in the context of a "more slowly expanding workforce" and the objective to reduce the dependance on  foreign workers, who currently represent one third of the total workforce.

Singapore's performance on productivity has been limited during the last decade with an average annual pace of 1%, and a lagging situation compared to the US, Japan and Hong Kong to name but a few. The efforts should encompass all sectors and contribute to 2/3 of the GDP in the coming decade.

In its recommendations, the ESC encourages Singaporean workers to develop their skills as a way to improve productivity and to access higher qualified jobs. It invites companies to "compete by innovating, investing in their people and creating higher value jobs".

The Singapore Government should provide companies with training incentives, work on the development of a system of continuing education, and use the foreign workers levy as a way to discard less qualified workers while retaining those with the best qualifications and expertise.

Attract the best talents

Singapore should remain an attractive place for foreigners who "add to the critical mass of talents in Science and Engineering, design, finance and start-ups.

The City-State is engaged in "growing a deep pool of highly capable and entrepreneurial people" and will "continue to attract top quality people from around the world".

The ambition is to "facilitate the talent recruitment, management and development needs of large and small Singapore based companies, out of Singapore, especially for the pan-Asian Region".

Efforts to work out Singapore as a "distinctive global city", with attention on quality of life and the development of Arts, are integrative part of this policy.


Building a supportive environment for companies.


  • Grow R&D expenditures to 3,5% of GDP (compared to slightly less than 3% currently).
  • Facilitate financing capabilities to take advantage of opportunities in Asia.
  • Create a corporate eco-system, with stronger alliances between large and small players.


Key sectors


Focus on complex manufacturing, in areas where know how and intellectual property are crucial ( ex nutriceuticals, design and production of "mission critical" components such as those in medical devices and cross disciplinary areas like bioelectronics)

Grow manufacturing related services: HQ related activities, R&D, Intellectual Property...

Business infrastructure

Consolidate Singapore as the leading business hub based on modern services such as info-comms technology, accounting, legal and consulting services.

Consumer business centre

Build a cluster of key companies in the consumer centric fields such as Marketing, Branding, Consumer reserach and market intelligence.

"Future ready" urban solutions

Leverage Singapore needs to help capitalize the innovation of future ready solutions: urban mobility/smart transportation; energy and efficiency management; renewable energy; water & waste management.

Use Singapore as a platform to test bed systems-level integration in these areas and foster collaboration amongst Singapore based companies to provide solutions which can be scaled up and exported.








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