With reference to the comments by Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Rod Smith about the New Colombo Plan, it’s encouraging that in the second year of this programme, there has been close to a 200 per cent jump in the number of Australian students coming to Malaysia for a semester abroad.
This is an indication of not only the appeal of Malaysia as a location of choice for Australian youth who want an international flavour to their higher education, but also a testament to the quality of higher education in Malaysia.
It was just over 40 years ago that Professor Johari Surin, who is now the director of the Centre for Research at Taylor’s University, received a Colombo Plan scholarship from the Australian government.
The scholarship funded him to study at the University of Queensland and set him on an academic career path that has since seen him becoming a highly cited Malaysian scholar in infectious diseases and parasitology.
In the early 1970s, Malaysia didn’t have the number of academic institutions that it now has. Those original Colombo Plan scholarships offered a helping hand to aspiring young Malaysian academics.
Today, and as a testament to how well the country has developed its higher education sector, Australia is sending students to study in Malaysia under its New Colombo Plan scholarship scheme.
For Malaysia, as one of the countries involved in the original Colombo Plan award programme, this full circle is indicative that the institutions involved in the programme in our education system are on par with those of the partner universities in Australia.
This movement also lends an international flavour to the host universities of these scholars, which include Taylor’s University, Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
As one of the private universities involved in this effort, we are hosting two of our New Colombo Plan scholars from Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, who will spend six months with us, studying primary education in the School of Education, as well as in the Taylor’s Business School.
In addition to these scholars, we have been welcoming mobility students from international universities such as Mahidol University, Thailand; Shizuoka University, Japan; University of Sussex, the United Kingdom; University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and University of Birmingham, the UK, as part of our efforts to provide an international edge to not only students from our partner universities but also our own.
In today’s globalised world, universities are responsible in equipping its students with the necessary skills and qualities to positively impact their future workplace. This is achieved by providing them the best atmosphere to glean information, as well as giving them opportunities to broaden their world view.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh launched the Taylor’s University Global Strategic Plan last year. The plan not only supports the recruitment of international students to come and study full time in Malaysia, but also to increase the range of opportunities for Malaysian students to do an exchange semester or an internship overseas.
Taylor’s University has more than 125 international exchange partners and these student exchanges help to further increase the diversity of students in Malaysia — as many of these exchange students come from countries such as the UK, Germany, Finland, France and Australia. It also opens up new opportunities for Malaysians to study abroad.
While Malaysia is recognised as one of the leading education hubs in Asia along with Hong Kong and Singapore, the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 will help it to move ahead of the pack.
Turning Malaysia into an “education hub” seemed a pipe-dream 40 years ago but successive government policies have supported the sector and its development. Malaysia now has a vibrant education sector, with a mix of home-grown public and private universities, along with a significant number of international branch campuses. Malaysia is also well on its way to meeting its target of having 200,000 international students studying in the country.
In the recent university ranking released by global higher education analysts Quacquarelli Symonds, Malaysian universities are making headway globally as the quality of education offered at both public and private universities is improving year on year. Taylor’s University made it to the list of the top 200 universities in Asia, at number 179.
I believe that local universities will be able to provide its international students an unforgettable experience not just in terms of the rich culture available in the country but also through the forward-thinking approach to education that is available within our walls.
I look forward to Malaysia being the location of choice of more and more Australians through the New Colombo Plan.
Keith oat grower Sam Densley represents the next generation of Australian farmers who are increasingly adopting a paddock to plate approach in their ventures.
Mr Densley turns the oats he grows on his farm into rolled oats and quick oats for making porridge and as an ingredient for many other foods.
His QualityWise brand has a high beta-glucan level and is sought after for its high beta-glucan level that helps reduce cholesterol absorption.
The growing success of Mr Densley’s operation was on show at the Tasty Australia event at the Isetan supermarket chain in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in early August.
Food South Australia chief executive Catherine Sayer said Tasty Australia featured 21 Australian companies including 17 from South Australia in a collaboration between Food SA, supermarket company Isetan and an importer and distributor.
“Promotions such as Tasty Australia give greater impact for each business than doing it on their own,” Ms Sayer said.
“Being under the Tasty Australia banner attracted customers to try products that they might not have ever seen before and then to buy them.
“The 15 day promotion gave thousands of consumers the opportunity to taste South Australian food and repeat orders were placed due to the popularity of what we had on offer.”
Ms Sayer said she looked forward to seeing more South Australian products on the shelves at Isetan in Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Densley, a third generation farmer at Keith, grows about 30ha of Bannister oats on the property he farms with his father Andy, while other farmers also produce oats for his business.
While Mr Densley and his father also grow wheat and barley, the farm’s soil-type and climate are well suited to oats, which also work well in cropping rotations.
“I’m aiming to market a container load of about 10 tonnes of rolled and quick oats each month,” Mr Densley said.
“I’ve worked in the seed industry and found that the benefits of some oat varieties weren’t presented to consumers because they were being commingled with inferior oats.
“The idea was to take my high-quality oats, design the packaging and do my own marketing.”
Mr Densley said the oats are processed at Blue Lake Milling at Bordertown and he markets them on domestic and export markets by highlighting their health benefits.
“We’re exporting about half our annual production to Malaysia, we’re about to start in China and we signed a new order at the Tasty Australia Fair in Malaysia two weeks ago,” he said.
“The latest order of four pallets of rolled and quick oats to Malaysia will end up in the Isetan supermarket chain and we hope to achieve follow-up orders.
“The Asian market is growing a lot faster than the Australian market and we can leverage Australia’s clean and green attributes.”
Mr Densley said the Tasty Australia fair in Malaysia was fantastic and it was great to meet supermarket owners, distributors and consumers.
“The lesson is that there are value-adding opportunities and while it takes a lot of work, there is a good opportunity to advertise the source of our grains to our customers and enhance the quality of our produce,” he said.
“It provides opportunities to get closer to consumers and produce products suited to individual markets with higher returns.”
Mr Densley said he would like to add value to other grains and expand into other international markets in future.
Best of all, Mr Densley said this season is proving a lot kinder to farmers in the Keith and Bordertown area than the past few years.
Malaysian investors in Australia will most likely focus on commercial properties with the implementation of new tax rates targetting foreign buyers of residential real estate, according to Knight Frank Australia.
The property consultancy, which recently organised a roadshow to gauge investors' sentiment, noted that the Australian property market remained a key attraction for Malaysian investors despite the recent changes to the country's property tax law.
"Despite the recent stamp duty changes imposed on foreigners purchasing residential property, interest from Malaysian private and institutional investors is remarkably strong," Knight Frank head of commercial sales Paul Henley said in a statement.
"We expect many commercial, hotel and retail assets transactions from Malaysian investors over the next year.
"These assets are not impacted by the tax changes, and some residential specialists will still show interest at the right pricing metrics to build scale," he added, referring to SP Setia Bhd's recent purchase of an office tower at 288 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, for A$101mil ( S$104.3mil) as an example of the growing interest of Malaysian investors in Australia's commercial property sector.
In an effort to limit the amount of foreign money coming into its real-estate market to keep home prices from rising further, the Australian government had implemented new tax laws targetting foreign investors.
These changes included a stamp duty surcharge of up to 7 per cent of residential real estate, and an extra 10 per cent withholding tax for a property with a market value of more than A$2mil.
According to Henley, the Australian property market remained attractive to Malaysian investors due to its strong underlying economic fundamentals, including a record-low interest-rate environment.
Malaysian investments in Australian real estate had averaged at A$750mil over the past six years, although deal flow had not been as prevalent over the past year.
"With interest rates having dropped to their lowest ever, and a stable political scene with the Federal election result, combined with an ever-growing population, Australia is well-positioned for offshore investors," he said.
Separately, Sarkunan Subramaniam, Knight Frank's managing director for Malaysia, said there was a close connection between Malaysia and Australia because the latter is one of the preferred education and tourism destinations for many Malaysians.
"Many Malaysians travel there for education... 77 per cent of Malaysia's ultra-high net worth individuals are expected to send their children abroad for university over the next year," he said.
In addition, Sarkunan said there was a growing number of Malaysians visiting Australia, with the rate having risen by more than 40 per cent over the past three years.
Meanwhile, Knight Frank head of research and consulting Matt Whitby said UK's referendum to leave the European Union, or Brexit, would likely accentuate global capital flows into Australia.
"I expect Australia to benefit from Brexit and other global uncertainty, as it remains a safe-haven for investors.
"With volumes slowing over the past quarter, mainly on the back of limited supply of assets, I expect Brexit will accentuate the capital flows into Australia and volumes will pick up in the second half of 2016," Whitby said.
"Australia's economy is the envy of the developed world, growing at 3.1 per cent as at the March 2016 quarter. Sydney and Melbourne are driving performance, while our population is strong, with a growth average of 1.5 per cent across the country," he added.
- See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/property/news/malaysians-keen-investing-commercial-properties-australia#sthash.035k17UB.dpuf
JOHOR BARU: The Australian government wants more of its students to study in public and private universities in Malaysia.
Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Rod Smith said the number of Malaysians studying in Australia is currently higher than the number of Australians studying in Malaysia.
The Australian government wants to balance out the number by having more its students obtain tertiary education here.
"We introduced the New Colombo Plan two years ago and the response has been very good. Under the plan, 150 students from Australia have been given scholarships to study in Malaysia for the first year and 270 students in the second year," said Smith.
He said most of the Australian students in Malaysia were in Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as well as several private universities.
"This programme is actually university-driven because the students need to have their course credited by universities in both countries," said Smith, adding that the Australian government has allocated A$150 million for the New Colombo Plan for the first four years.
Smith was speaking to the media during his two-day visit to Johor Baru yesterday. Smith is also expected to have an audience with the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and a meeting with Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
Australian Islamic investment company Crescent Wealth, which jointly launched the KAF Australian Islamic Property Fund (KAIPF) with KAF Investment Funds Bhd yesterday, is confident of achieving 9-10% annual return to investors of the new fund.
Crescent Wealth corporate strategy and development director Omar Khan said the target is driven by projected returns and capital appreciation of commercial properties in Australia and the appetite of Malaysian investors for Australian property.
“What we’ve observed with Malaysian investors is that they are looking for offshore investments. Malaysian investors want offshore exposure, they want to diversify away from the ringgit and that’s a really important characteristic,” he told reporters at the launch yesterday.
Omar said that recent data from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board found that Malaysia was the fourth largest source country for approved Australian property investment after China, the US and Canada.
The KAIPF is Malaysia’s first fund that provides non-institutional investors direct access to Australian commercial property. The feeder fund invests into Australia’s Islamic property fund Crescent Diversified Property Fund (CDPF).
Launched in February 2013, CDPF invests in Australian listed real estate investment trusts (50%) and direct property assets (50%) such as offices and factories. It has delivered an average return of 17.9% per year and a total return of 70.34% as at June 30.
Omar said it aims to deliver 9-10% annual return by targeting 7% in income yield and 2-3% in capital appreciation. The fund will distribute income on a half-yearly basis.
Some of the assets in CDPF are Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne and 1 Bligh St in Sydney. It is also in the final stages of due diligence to acquire 20% stake in five aged care centres that come with a 20-year lease with the operator.
The KAIPF is an open ended fund with no maximum size restriction and its target fund, the CDPF, has a gross asset value equivalent to about RM200 million now. The initial target subscription for KAIPF is A$30 million (RM100 million) for the first six months.
Omar said the commercial property market in Australia is delivering very strong returns now and office space in the central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne are seeing very low vacancies due to shortage of new office space.
“The commercial property market in Australia is a very deep and diversified market. Though our mandate is national so we can invest right across Australia, our current focus is Sydney, Melbourne and to some extent Adelaide and Brisbane,” he said.
Crescent Wealth is an Islamic investment firm offering a pension fund and a series of managed funds across Australian equities, international equities, diversified property and Islamic cash and fixed income.
The launch of KAIPF brings the total number of funds under KAF to 18, with close to RM2.3 billion worth of assets under management.
SpeedCast International Ltd., a global satellite communications and network service provider, has clinched two contracts from customers based in Australia and Malaysia.
Australia's MMA Offshore Ltd. awarded SpeedCast the first contract, which is a multi-year service agreement to provide a high throughput connectivity across the former's global offshore fleet. MMA will use SpeedCast's Ku-band and C-Band global maritime network and value added maritime communication services, which will serve as a One-Stop-Shop for its communication services at sea.
"SpeedCast's global presence can provide us with best-in-class services and support at all our operating locations. This is a great advantage to us as it can streamline our daily operations, improve safety and generate cost savings," Jon Fowler, ICT general manager, MMA, said in the press release.
On Monday, SpeedCast announced that it won a multi-year service agreement from a global oil and gas exploration and production company to provide managed satellite communications services for the latter's offshore sites in Malaysia. Under the deal, SpeedCast will provide managed VSAT network services for the client's Central Processing Platform (CPP) and the Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) located in Malaysia.
"We are thrilled to have the Customer on board our global VSAT network. SpeedCast field team has been working closely with the Customer to understand their requirements and customize our offering," SpeedCast Senior Vice President, Energy Keith Johnson said in Monday's press release.
"This new win is one more demonstration of our growth in the energy sector as we gain market share ... We are seeing growing traction with heavy-weight players in the energy sector as we have built up and demonstrated our engineering, delivery and operational capabilities to the highest level, thus gaining the required credibility that can now open a lot of new doors," PJ Beylier, CEO of SpeedCast, added.
Transportation, energy storage and personal mobility will be the focus of a new Transport Innovation Centre that has opened at Swinburne’s Malaysian campus today.
The centre, which will host a range of projects, is the result of a partnership with Swinburne and the Malaysian Automotive Institute.
Malaysia has the potential to become the hub of automotive related manufacturing and innovation, according to Dato' Mohamad Madani Sahari, the CEO of Malaysia Automotive Institute.
A new approach to the transportation industry
One of the first priorities of the centre will be to assess the feasibility of setting up a re-manufacturing plant in Sarawak, Malaysia with the view to make it a hub for the South East Asian region.
This will involve analysing how the industry can reuse, recycle, remanufacture, repair, service and provide spare parts.
The research hopes to identify current practices of the industry in this region, the market demand for these categories and consumer perception. The research findings will allow the centre to advise on best practice and policy.
A strong, successful partnership
“Swinburne and the MAI have collaborated successfully in the past for transportation research projects including the development of the first electric bus to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia,”Professor Ajay Kapoor, Swinburne Pro Vice-Chancellor (International Research Engagement and Development) says.
“We expect that the creation of this new research centre will allow us to build on current research and look for new ways that we can innovate.”
The research centre will be housed at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus and will have an affiliate office at Swinburne Sarawak.
Professor Aleksandar Subic, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Development, says the Transport Innovation Centre aspires to become the leading collaborative transport research and innovation organisation in Malaysia and Australia.
Australian fund manager Crescent Wealth said on Monday it had launched an Islamic property fund in Malaysia alongside KAF Investment Funds Berhad, aiming to tap one of the largest markets for sharia-compliant financial products.
The launch comes as Islamic finance is making inroads in non-traditional markets such as Australia, where the government recently proposed removing tax barriers to such asset-backed financing arrangements.
Crescent Wealth, established in 2011, opened an office in Malaysia last year seeking to widen its customer base and is aiming to replicate this approach in other markets.
"Malaysia is a global centre for Islamic finance. Our success here will build a strong precedent for other markets," said Talal Yassine, managing director of Crescent Wealth.
"We continue to build our plans to launch similar collaborations in the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, South Africa and Indonesia."
The fund would provide Malaysian investors with exposure to Australia's property market, feeding into a commercial property fund launched by Crescent in 2013.
Malaysian investors are the fourth-largest source of approved property investment into Australia, according to the Foreign Investment Review Board, after those from China, the United States and Canada.
Crescent launched Australia's first Islamic pension fund in 2012 and currently has around A$200 million in assets under management across its investment funds which include cash, real estate and domestic and international equities.
Islamic finance has gradually expanded in Australia, with National Australia Bank Ltd helping fund a A$160 million ($114 million) Brisbane property purchase in February, after its maiden Islamic finance deal in August of last year.
The government's proposed tax changes will only become effective in 2018, but this could increase the number of such transactions by ensuring tax treatment is similar to other interest-based financial arrangements.
Islamic financial contracts follows religious principles such as bans on interest and gambling, which often require multiple transfers of titles of underlying assets that can attract double or even triple tax charges. (Editing by Kim Coghill)
A flamboyant Malaysian royal is building a house in Western Australia to mix business and pleasure.
A multimillion dollar riverfront block in an exclusive Perth suburb will be turned into a home fit for a king — or His Majesty Ibrahim Ismail.
The Sultan of Johor's fortune has been estimated at more than US$1bn (£750m).
He belongs to one of Malaysia's nine royal households, who are largely popular with Malaysians and lead lives of considerable privilege.
The three-storey home will be relatively modest for a man who owns a gold Boeing 737 and the world's most expensive Mack truck.
Last year, the sultan acquired the site of a former matron's quarters for A$8.5m (US$6.3m;£4.8m).
The acquisition was met with opposition from the local council, which wanted to preserve views from the heritage-listed Sunset Hospital site.
The local mayor is now pleased with how the "elegant house" will fit in with its surroundings.
The sultan and his wife have been visiting Australia for many decades and are reported to have fond memories of beachside family holidays with their six children.
In a message posted last month to mark the end of Ramadan, Sultan Ibrahim said that he was thankful for "good health, food on our table, beautiful homes to live in".
"I am aware of the many other people in Johor who have so much less than us, and who lead very difficult lives," he wrote on Facebook.
"My family and I will continue to do our best to help them."
Heavyweight Malaysian fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan Diperbadankan has received offers on the $250 million-plus Exchange Centre in Sydney’s Bridge Street, prompting it to review options for the high-profile complex.
The Malaysian fund bought the asset for $185m in 2011 and re-signed the Australian Securities Exchange as a tenant despite an attempt by Lend Lease to lure the exchange to its Barangaroo South development.
KWAP chief executive Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad told Bloomberg the fund may sell the 14-storey property at 20 Bridge Street after strong off-market bidding.
“We have expressions of interest from both Australian and global players, if the price is right, we will sell,” Wan Kamaruzaman said. “Even though we are under-invested globally, we are not sentimental about investments.”
She added that the Malaysian government-backed fund would remain active in the global real estate market and expand KWAP’s real estate portfolio in Australia as well as in Britain.
The Exchange Centre is about 85 per cent occupied with its ground floor retail space taken by HSBC Bank Australia.
The Malaysian fund’s holding is managed by the Investa Office platform, which could assist as KWAP assesses the options.
KWAP also holds an office tower in Turbot Street, Brisbane, that it bought for $172m from the Morris Property Group, with that holding also overseen by Investa.
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