• 15 Sep 2016 8:00 AM | Philip (Administrator)

    The winter holidays proved to be a productive one for Malaysian students from all corners of Australia as they gathered in Sydney to attend a four-day event organised by Malaysians for Malaysians: The Malaysian Summit of Australia (Masa).

    An event that has been crowned ‘The Best International Student Event in Australia’ in 2015 by the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) was back in full swing in chilly Sydney.

    Recently in its fourth instalment, Masa, an annual summit organised by the Malaysian Students Council of Australia (Masca) has established itself as a platform fostering excellence, developing leadership and cultivating friendship among the Malaysian students in Australia.

    This year’s July summit was comprised of five key components: the Masa Student Leaders Agenda (SLA), Masa Conference, Masa Careers, Masa Awards and Masa Games. The event began with the Masa Conference, an event developed to promote dialogue and stimulate thought-provoking solutions.

    The keynote speaker, Keith Miranda, the president of the Australian Malaysian Business Council (AMBC), set the tone of the conference with advice on humility, “Don’t be scared to expand your horizons, but don’t forget where you came from”.

    Also weighing in on conference dialogue were YB Tian Chua, the PKR vice-president, and Shahril Hamdan of the Pemuda Umno executive committee. Both shared their opinions on the freedom of speech and discussed the privacy issues surrounding the Millennial Generation’s social media obsession.

    The second half of the conference was represented by Keith Miranda, Ehon Chan, executive director of the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), Rudy Malik, CEO of iM4U and Teh Shao Wei, president of Malaysians of Melbourne University. Together the four discussed the topic of ‘Suits and Tie versus The Entrepreneur’, sharing experiences of success and divulging details on the defining moments of their careers.

    A quote to keep was Rudy Malik’s pathway to success, “You need to set certain goals, and see the dream. There isn’t any difference between both sides but you need to define your goals very well.” Furthermore, a statement from Keith advising the youth on their journey to success, “Take ownership of your own personal development.”

    Without a doubt, this session was beneficial and greatly impacted the participants as the crowd engaged with the speakers with curious questions about the corporate world they were about to enter.

    The event proceeded with Masa Careers, a platform for students to engage with industry leaders and obtain an insight of life in the field they plan to pursue. This year, participating companies engaged with the students via a career fair as well as virtual engagement sessions to shed light onto the industry they are in and their daily routines.

    Masa Careers also facilitated a case study competition, Corporate Prodigy, allowing the creme de la creme of our Malaysian students here in Australia to portray their skills to the participating organisations.

    Masa Games in full swing

    The last two days of the summit were spent in grassy fields and bright lit courts. Nothing could stand in the way of the spirits of our youthful athletes, not even the frosty winter winds. The Masa Games was in full swing and participants competed in handball, frisbee, badminton, futsal, rugby, touch rugby, soccer, volleyball and table tennis.

    Participants bonded over their mutual love for sports and friendship among individuals from various parts of Malaysia and we saw the value of unity further enforced as many shook hands for the first time, laughed as they hugged, pleased to be reunited. The participants showed superb sportsmanship throughout the games and it was great to see the bond among the rich culture and various ethnicity of Malaysia.

    Masa aspires to be an event with a purpose beyond the grandeur of size and titles. The committee seeks to utilise Masa as a means to build a better Malaysia. They believe in the power of unity, and thus, made it their mission to encourage every Malaysian to keep the faith and help further develop Malaysia to the great country that it is.

    The committee has worked hard and hoped to have open the minds of Malaysian students studying abroad to return home to our beloved motherland, so that we together as leaders, can help steer Malaysia in the right direction.

    The students behind Masa have only a few months to catch their breaths before the planning in preparation of the 5th Masa in 2017 kicks off. The baton of hosting an unforgettable 5th Masa is now in the hands of the Malaysian students in Melbourne.

    So to all of you coming over to further your studies, stay tuned!


  • 12 Sep 2016 11:22 AM | Philip (Administrator)

    The leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been meeting in the Laotian capital of Ventiane from 6 to 8 September. The theme of this year's summit was Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community.

    Launched in November last year, the ASEAN Economic Community groups 622 million people in a market worth US$2.6 trillion, according to the ASEAN website, and in 2014, was collectively the third-largest economy in Asia and the seventh-largest in the world. ASEAN groups ten countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

    The UNESCO Science Report (2015) observes that the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community 'is likely to boost economic growth in the region'. ASEAN countries have already successfully navigated through the global financial crisis of 2008, many of them managing to avoid recession altogether, thanks to the commodities boom. Between 2005 and 2013, GDP even grew by a cumulative 72% in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, as well as by 61% in Cambodia and 53% in Indonesia.

    According to the report, the ASEAN Economic Community is also likely to 'spur both the cross-border movement of researchers and greater specialization', observes the report. 'The planned removal of restrictions to the cross-border movement of people and services is expected to spur co-operation in science and technology'.

    A technologically competitive region by 2020'

    Although the focus of ASEAN has always been on the creation of a single market along the lines of the European model, leaders have long acknowledged that successful economic integration will hinge on how well member states manage to assimilate science and technology. The ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology was established in 1978, just eleven years after ASEAN was founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

    Since this time, a series of action plans have been developed to foster co-operation among member states, in order to create a more even playing field in science and engineering. When ASEAN Vision 2020 was adopted in 1997, its stated objective was for the region to be technologically competitive by 2020.

    Currently, however, innovation performance is generally weak in the region. Together with Australia and New Zealand, ASEAN countries produce 6.5% of the world's scientific publications (2013) but only 1.4% of global patents (2012); moreover, four countries account for 95% of those patents: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand.

    In Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, 'a comparatively high share of Ramp;D is performed by the business sector. In the case of the Philippines and Malaysia, this is most likely a product of the strong presence of multinational companies in these countries'.

    The same goes for Viet Nam and Cambodia. High-tech exports from Viet Nam increased almost tenfold between 2008 and 2013, according to the Comtrade database, but the report recalls that 'the majority of these high-tech exports were designed elsewhere and simply assembled in [Viet Nam]'. The challenge for economies such as Viet Nam and Cambodia will be to draw on the knowledge and skills embedded in the large foreign firms that they host, in order to develop the same level of professionalism among local suppliers and firms.

    Since 2008, many ASEAN countries have boosted their research effort, including in the business enterprise sector. The challenge will be for them to deepen and diversify business sector involvement across a wider range of industrial sectors, especially since the onset of a cycle of declining prices for raw materials with the end of the commodities boom has added 'a sense of urgency to the task of developing innovation-driven growth policies'.

    Among ASEAN countries, only Singapore has a level of research intensity comparable to that of Australia: 2.18% of GDP in 2014. Singapore's 'success rests largely on the alignment of policies designed to leverage national development from a strong multinational presence with policies promoting local innovation'. Singapore's research effort appears to have been a casualty of the global financial crisis, with business spending having contracted since 2008. It looks unlikely that Singapore will reach its target of devoting 3.5% of GDP to Ramp;D by 2015.

    As for the other ASEAN countries for which data are available, the Philippines devotes 0.14% of GDP (2013) to research, Viet Nam 0.19% (2011) and Indonesia just 0.08% (2013), according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

    The two countries which have made the biggest leap in terms of research spending are Malaysia and Thailand. Malaysia has hoisted its research intensity from 0.79% to 1.26% (2014) of GDP since 2008 and Thailand has doubled its own research intensity to 0.48% of GDP (2014) since 2009.

    Towards a freer flow of skilled personnel

    'The increased mobility of skilled personnel within the region should be a boon for the development of skills, job placement and research capabilities within ASEAN member states', predicts the report. It should also 'enhance the role of the ASEAN University Network, which already counts 30 members'.

    Countries from the region are already collaborating more and more with one another, as reflected by trends in international scientific co-authorship. For the less developed economies, co-authorship even accounts for 90'100% of output; the challenge for them will be to steer international scientific collaboration in the direction envisaged by national policies for science and technology, as opposed to espousing the priorities of their wealthier partners.

    Although scientific collaboration in the region is still strongly linked to global knowledge hubs such as the USA, UK, China, India, Japan and France, there is evidence of an emerging Asia'Pacific 'knowledge hub.' Australia, for instance, is one of the top five collaborators for 17 of 20 countries in the region.

    The Asia'Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) intends to accompany the development of an Asia'Pacific knowledge hub. APEC completed a study in 2014 of skills shortages in the region, with a view to setting up a monitoring system to address training needs before these shortages become critical.

    The freer flow of skilled personnel across ASEAN should benefit both supplier and recruiter nations. Malaysia and Thailand are both suppliers and recruiters of skilled personnel, as are the Philippines in some specialist fields. The Lao People's Democratic Republic, on the other hand, is a recruiter nation. It "has the lowest proportion of researchers of all ASEAN member states'. The report predicts that 'ASEAN economic integration 'is likely to provide the country with more opportunities for regional scientific co-operation'.

    One of the driving forces for the freer flow of skills across ASEAN member states has been the demand from Malaysia and Singapore for ready access to technical personnel from elsewhere in the region.

    Energetic efforts by Malaysia to staunch brain drain

    Singapore currently absorbs about 57% of the Malaysian diaspora, according to the UNESCO Science Report, the remainder opting for Australia, Brunei Darussalam, the UK and USA. Brain drain has become a worry for Malaysia, despite the rise in tertiary enrollment in recent years. The Higher Education Strategic Plan has fixed the targets of increasing the participation rate in higher education from 40% to 50% and of producing 100 000 PhD-holders by 2020 by financing graduate students. The number of students enrolled in master's programmes shot up from 35 000 to 64 000 between 2007 and 2010, while the number of PhD students doubled to 22 000. At the undergraduate level, too, enrollment levels have swelled by 47% to 495 000.

    The aim is to develop an endogenous research capability to reduce the country's reliance on industrial research undertaken by locally implanted foreign multinational companies, many of them specializing in electric goods and electronics. Between 2008 and 2012, Malaysia managed to triple the number of researchers (full-time equivalent) to 52 000. Since 2011, the Returning Expert Programme has also approved 2 500 returnees.

    Academics make up eight out of ten researchers in Malaysia, suggesting that the multinational companies on its soil either do not count a majority of Malaysians on their research staff or do not conduct in-house Ramp;D.

    In most ASEAN countries, more than half of researchers are employed in the higher education sector. The notable exception is Singapore, where half of researchers are employed by industry, compared to between 30% and 39% elsewhere in the region. In Indonesia and Viet Nam, the government is a major employer of researchers. Of note is that women make up half of researchers in three countries: Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

    Malaysia and Singapore: ASEAN's biggest spenders on tertiary education

    It is no coincidence if Malaysia and Singapore have the highest researcher densities among ASEAN countries: 1 780 (Malaysia) and 6 440 (Singapore) per million population, compared to a global average of 1 083. Both countries stand out for their large investment in tertiary education. Over the past decade, the share of the education budget devoted to tertiary education has risen from 20% to over 35% in Singapore and 37% in Malaysia. Both countries also have the greatest share of PhD candidates among university students.

    It is Myanmar, however, which has the highest proportion of tertiary students enrolled in science degrees (23%) among ASEAN countries. The next highest proportions are found in Singapore (14%) and Malaysia (13%).

    Myanmar also has the highest proportion of women enrolled in tertiary education, in general. The report observes that 'it will be interesting to see if Myanmar manages to maintain this high proportion of women among students as it pursues its [democratic] transition'.

    Meanwhile, Malaysia is actively seeking to turn itself into a global education hub. It aims to attract 200 000 foreign students by 2020. Their number doubled to more than 56 000 between 2007 and 2012. However, just 17% of these international students come from ASEAN countries. Indonesia supplies the largest contingent (6 222 students) of ASEAN students but the number has only risen slightly since 2007.

    ASEAN has adopted an integrated approach to science and innovation

    The ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology launched the ASEAN Krabi initiative in 2010, which has since developed the ASEAN Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI) covering the period 2016'2020. APASTI was formally endorsed by ASEAN members in November last year.

    For the UNESCO Science Report, 'the interesting feature of APASTI is its integrated approach to science, technology and innovation. It seeks to raise competitiveness across the region by contributing to both social inclusion and sustainable development. APASTI identifies eight thematic areas: focusing on global markets; digital communication and social media; green technology; energy; water resources; biodiversity; science; and innovation for life'.

    As part of the negotiating process for the ASEAN Economic Community, each member state was able to express its preference for a specific research focus. The Laotian government, for instance, prioritized agriculture and renewable energy. Proposals to develop hydropower on the Mekong River proved more contentious, given the drawbacks of this energy option.

    Linking up to international advances in science

    ASEAN countries are seeking ways to link their national knowledge base to regional and global advances in science. One motivation for this greater interconnectedness is the region's vulnerability to natural hazards. The Pacific Ocean is vulnerable to rising sea levels and increasingly capricious weather patterns as a consequence of climate change. In March 2015, much of Vanuatu was flattened by Cyclone Pam. Cambodia has adopted a Climate Change Strategic Plan covering 2014 '2023, with financial support from the European Union and others, partly to protect its agriculture.

    The Philippines is promoting technological self-reliance to reduce its own vulnerability to disasters. Every year, between six and nine tropical cyclones make landfall. In 2013, the Philippines had the misfortune to lie in the path of Cyclone Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines), possibly the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit land, with winds that were clocked at up to 380 kph. The Philippines has been investing heavily in critical infrastructure and enabling tools such as Doppler radars, generating 3D disaster-simulation models from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology and the wide-scale installation of locally developed sensors for accurate and timely disaster information nationwide. In parallel, it has been building local capability to apply, replicate and produce many of these technologies.

    The end of the commodities boom since 2013 has led resource-rich economies to devise science and technology policies offering economic alternatives in areas where countries show particular strengths, such as engineering in Malaysia. To some extent, this trend has created a dilemma for science and, in particular, for scientists. On the one hand, there is a strong imperative to produce quality scientific research: the careers of researchers in the public sector depend upon their work being published in peer-reviewed journals. On the other hand, 'many national development plans are also seeking research relevance'.

    'Clearly, both imperatives are important for fostering development and international competitiveness', observes the report. 'The richer countries have the economic opportunity to pursue advances in basic research and to build a deeper and broader science base. Lower income economies, however, face accrued pressure to favour relevance. The report concludes by saying that 'maintaining career paths for scientists that allow them to pursue both quality and relevance will remain a challenge'.

    Source: UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 (2015); see the chapters on Malaysia and Southeast Asia and Oceania.


  • 11 Sep 2016 11:10 AM | Philip (Administrator)

    EXCHANGE Traded Funds (ETFs) are investment funds which simply copy an index of equities, bonds or commodities.

    This could be the Dow Jones, S&P 500, Nikkei or the ASX in Australia. For individual investors, this is one of the most valuable recent financial innovations.

    The advantage of ETF’s is that they closely mimic “the market”, as indicated by the particular index.

    Because there is no active buying and selling strategy, transaction costs for the ETF are low. Also, expenses for staff and asset analysis tools are lower, as copying an index is not exactly rocket science.

    Their lower operating costs are passed on to the customer, who will pay lower yearly management fees, compared to actively managed funds.

    Another advantage is that this is the cheapest way to massively diversify your investments. The index that the ETF tracks is made up of dozens, if not hundreds, of different companies across multiple industries and geographies. ETFs are very liquid, as you trade them just like you trade stocks.

    The three largest providers of ETFs in the world are BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, together responsible for 70% of the global ETF market.

    BlackRock also has an ETF for the Malaysian market. The index it tracks is the MSCI Malaysia, an index created by Morgan Stanley Capital Investment (MSCI).

    The MSCI Malaysia represents (among others) well known Malaysian companies such as Public Bank, Tenaga, Maybank, Sime Darby, Genting, Digi, Petronas and Axiata.

    Luckily, you can also buy some ETF’s on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia. The equity ETFs that are offered allow you to invest in China (consisting of the 50 largest and most liquid companies that are traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange), Asean (40 stocks from across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines) and of course Malaysia, tracking Bursa Malaysia’s KLCI index.

    Additionally, you can also purchase Shariah compliant ETFs. These allow you to buy ETFs that only track companies that are Shariah compliant, for example the Thomson Reuters Asia Pacific Ex-Japan Islamic Agribusiness, which allows you to instantly invest in companies across Asia Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) that are primarily engaged in upstream agricultural production activities.

    If you have a more conservative risk profile, you can also invest in an ETF that consist of Ringgit-denominated government and quasi-government fixed incomes securities, such as bonds, which typically are less volatile and risky that equities.

    If you want to buy ETFs you will need to pay brokerage commission, stamp duty, clearing fees and GST, similar to stocks.

    If you want to buy ETFs in Malaysia, you would need to open a CDS (Central Depository System) account and a trading account with a stockbroking firm that is registered in Malaysia.


  • 07 Sep 2016 9:56 AM | Philip (Administrator)

    Datacom is building a $22 million IT hub at a South Australian TAFE campus.

    The development, which will commence in 2017, is expected to create hundreds of jobs and training opportunities in the IT sector.

    The project has secured a $5.3 million investment from the state government's Economic Investment Fund to create career opportunities for young Australians, according to investment and trade minister Martin Hamilton-Smith.

    Datacom chief executive Jonathan Ladd said: "South Australia presented an ideal location to expand our local operations due to a willingness from our local partners, TAFE SA, Workskil, SYC, University of Adelaide and the South Australian government to explore innovative business models."

    The Tea Tree Gully TAFE campus is currently being refurbished to give space to more than 600 staff.

    "The jobs we intend to create through this investment will vary from entry level to specialist and management levels, which will require support from local training, education and recruitment organisations," said Ladd.

    South Australia premier Jay Weatherill said: "Today’s announcement that Datacom will set up a major IT hub in Modbury is a massive win for jobs and training in our north eastern suburbs.

    "We have been aggressively pursuing businesses like Datacom to set up in Adelaide and take advantage of our low-cost, low-taxation environment."

    According to higher education and skills minister Susan Close, TAFE SA will support Datacom’s training needs with a pre and post-employment training program to allow accelerated job creation in the area.

    Ladd said: "Our partnership with TAFE SA will ensure the delivery of an innovative training package which will provide our company with a clear training-to-job pathway for potential new employees, and benefit the state economy as a whole."

    Datacom is on the CRN MVP list and recently reported revenue of $955 million for the financial year ending in 31 March 2016. The company has added 600 employees in the past year and has a total of 4,661 employees across its 29 locations across Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, the UK and the USA.


  • 26 Aug 2016 6:30 PM | Philip (Administrator)

    LASSETERS International Holdings Limited has, through two wholly owned subsidiaries, entered into a joint venture with Bursa-listed Paramount Corporation Berhad (PCB) to jointly develop, own and operate a hotel in Glenmarie, Shah Alam, Malaysia.

    With an estimated project cost of RM55 million (S$18.5 million), the proposed hotel is part of a planned 21.7-acre metropolis, the Paramount Utropolis, which integrates commercial, retail and residential elements. Paramount Utropolis consists of several components including serviced apartments, retail, Soho and the KDU University College.

    The agreement was inked on Thursday, with Lasseters' subsidiaries collectively holding 55 per cent interest in the joint venture and PCB holding the remaining 45 per cent. The joint venture parties will collaborate with an international hotel operator to operate the hotel.

    Lasseters said that this joint venture is in line with its core business, leveraging its experience in hospitality.

    "The Board believes that the proposed hotel will create value for the group and synergise with the group's other businesses," it added.

    "It is also an excellent opportunity for the group to expand its hotel business beyond Australia, into Malaysia, which is in line with our objective of delivering long term growth and enhancing our future revenue and earnings stream."


  • 25 Aug 2016 7:00 PM | Philip (Administrator)

    Malaysia-based private equity firm Navis Capital Partners has reached a deal to sell its interest in WorldMark Group Holdings to Australia’s Quadrant Private Equity, the company announced in a statement.

    Navis said it has signed definitive documentation to sell to “funds advised by Australian private equity firm Quadrant Private Equity” but did not disclosed the buyers and the financial terms of the deal.

    Navis had acquired a controlling stake in WorldMark, a leading B2B distributor of automotive aftermarket products and services to Australian dealerships, in 2010. It has assisted WorldMark to increase the market share within dealerships and expand into new channels.

    The sale of WorldMark’s domestic and international operations realised over $300 million. Key senior management have retained equity in the business and the transaction is expected to close in Q3 2016, according to the statement.

    “The Australian automotive industry has been a resilient sector to invest and during Navis’ ownership the business has driven strong product innovation and expanded into new channels through both organic initiatives and a focused acquisition strategy,” Philip Latham, Director of Navis Capital Australia, said.

    “Navis actively supported our growth strategy in both domestic and international markets as we looked to expand our distribution platform and enhance our offering. We are proud to be the supplier of choice for aftermarket products and services to dealerships in Australia and now look forward to working with Quadrant to further expand our reach and capabilities by leveraging our new partner’s experience in the sector,” John Weekley, Executive Chairman of WorldMark, said.

    Navis is being advised by Miles Advisory and Herbert Smith Freehills.


  • 25 Aug 2016 3:26 PM | Philip (Administrator)

    One of Australia’s most liveable cities, Canberra has lots of things to see and do, writes David Bowden

    Trivial pursuit time. What’s the capital of Australia? If you answered Sydney or Melbourne, you’re wrong; go to the bottom of the class.

    The answer is Canberra and the reason why it’s not well appreciated is because the other cities are bigger, more accessible and better known.


    Visitors to Canberra will relish its vast open spaces, amazing modern architecture, crisp air and an entirely new and exciting range of activities.

    The sprawling city is situated on a plain and the satellite suburbs radiate from the artificial waterway of Lake Burley Griffin (not dissimilar to Putrajaya). Canberra’s growth has been carefully planned since its inception over 100 years ago. It is quite amazing that the architect, Walter Burley Griffin, had the foresight to plan one of Australia’s most liveable cities, so long ago.

    Many activities are conducted on and around the lake especially during summer. Take a cruise on the MV Southern Cross, kayak, sail, admire the 140m-high Captain Cook Memorial Jet shooting skyward or walk or cycle around the lake.

    A landmark is the Parliament House, elevated over the city for all to see and visit. You can see democracy at work by taking a pre-booked guided tour to observe politicians during question time.

    If you’ve ever wondered why Australians love their sport and are so good at it, take a guided tour around the Australian Institute of Sport. Visit the interactive sports exhibit, test yourself against champions or join an athlete-guided tour conducted several times a day.

    The National Gallery of Australia has the world’s largest collection of Australian indigenous art while the Australian War Memorial is a place to reflect upon Australians at war and of civilian life during the various global conflicts.

    Canberra is a great kid-friendly city with many activities including the National Zoo and Aquarium which houses animals from around the world but with an emphasis on Australia. Questacon Science Centre is a hands-on centre for discovery and to unravel the mysteries of science.

    Attractions like the Cockington Green’s Miniature Village and Gold Creek Village will also appeal. Cockington Green is set amongst colourful gardens and includes a miniature display of famous buildings from around the world.

    Floriade is Australia’s biggest celebration of spring featuring more than one million flowers in Commonwealth Park during the festival that runs from Sept 17 to Oct 16. At other times of the year, enjoy the display of native flowers and plants at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.


    Canberra is a city where, it’s claimed, there’s more hot air in the Parliament House than anywhere else in Australia. However, adventurous travellers can experience the flight of a lifetime in a hot air balloon with one of the city’s most experienced operators, Balloon Aloft.

    Ballooning is a participatory activity in the preparing and packing stages before and after flying but while in the air, it’s really a matter of admiring the views.

    The balloon flies at an altitude of 600m above the ground, within controlled airspace. The journey into space lasts about an hour and gives all aboard the opportunity to get a new perspective on the city’s landmark buildings, the scenic lake and the farm lands on the city’s outskirts.


    With so many foreign embassies in Canberra, it’s no surprise that a smorgasbord of international cuisines have found a home in the capital.

    As well as Civic (the city centre), visitors can explore neighbourhood precincts like Kingston, Manuka (Canberra’s version of Bangsar), Barton, Griffith, Dickson and Deakin. Dickson is the most Asian of the eating precincts but Ethiopian, Moroccan, Italian and Turkish restaurants also flourish here.

    The hottest dining spots and locations are Monster (New Acton), A. Baker (New Acton), Aubergine (Griffith), Akiba (Civic), Les Bistronomes (Braddon) and Mork (Kingston). There are several cool bars with The Aviary (Acton) and White Rabbit Cocktail Room (Civic) being popular.

    Patissez, the home of freakshakes (milkshakes piled high with cake, cookies and brownies) is the current darling of social media. So successful, it has opened in Bangsar and also Singapore.

    Coffee is taken seriously in Australia especially Canberra where Sasa Sestic from Ona Coffee House Cafe (Fyshwick) was rated the world’s best barista last year.

    The surrounding area also supports over 30 boutique and premium cellardoor wineries. Lark Hill, Clonakilla (home to one of Australia’s most acclaimed Shiraz Viogniers) and Helm Wines produce some of Australia’s most respected cool climate wines.


    Located between Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra is the perfect gateway to visit either city. There are also many parts of rural NSW to visit, the southern NSW coast is two-hour’s drive away and the ski fields of the Snowy Mountains centred on Mount Kosciuszko are also just a few hours away.


    Being a planned city, Canberra is easy to negotiate and ideal for exploring by car. Car rental companies like Hertz ( operate from Canberra Airport and provide an excellent service in helping visitors orient themselves to the city (Canberra’s vast roundabouts take getting used to and a GPS is invaluable). Canberra is also well set up for cyclists with dedicated cycling lanes especially around the lake.

    Singapore Airlines ( will operate four, weekly Boeing 777-200 services from Sept 20, flying from Singapore to Canberra and onto Wellington, New Zealand.


  • 24 Aug 2016 10:11 AM | Philip (Administrator)

    KUCHING: The Australian government is keen to work closely with Malaysia, particularly the Sarawak government, in various fields to further strengthen cooperation and ties between Australia and Sarawak.

    Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia .Rod Smith said while both Australia and Malaysia enjoyed a strong foundation in relations and cooperation, they could still further strengthen cooperation in many fields.

    In Sarawak, he said, oil and gas, goods and agriculture, vocational education and training as well as healthcare sectors were among new areas that had considerable potential for Australian businesses to invest in.

    Smith said these were areas he was actively encouraging Australian businesses to explore in Sarawak, given the considerable economic potential apart from the very strong historical ties between Australia and Sarawak.

    “We think there is a great deal of potential for us to do more. This is something we are talking to the Sarawak business community during the dinner on Monday and later today (yesterday). We’ll be using that to explore opportunities for growth in trade and investment,” he told reporters here yesterday.

    Smith said during his meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas yesterday, they discussed the possibility for Australia and Sarawak to collaborate in helping the state address some agriculture development and modernisation challenges that it was facing.

    “That is something we will pursue and I think there are many that Australia can contribute as a country, which has a large, well-established and very efficient agriculture sector.”

    In noting that Sarawak was very strong in the oil and gas sector, he said Australia, as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, had expertise in the (oil and gas) sector. Therefore, there would be a lot of potential for both parties to cooperate in that sector.

    “Food and agriculture is another area we think that has the potential for further growth. Australia has a fantastic reputation for the quality of its food and agriculture products. They are processed in a very clean environment and that is what we think is always appreciated by the discerning Malaysian consumers.”

    In education, Smith noted of a strong connection between Sarawak and Australia, with many Sarawakians benefitting from the Colombo Plan scholarship.

    He said the establishment of two Australian university campuses in Sarawak – Swinburne University of Technology here and Curtin University Sarawak in Miri – had about 4,000 students in each campus.

    Smith said 24,000 Malaysian students had enrolled to Australian universities this year, and 270 Australians in Malaysia, through the new Colombo Plan scholarships.

    As Australia already had a strong foundation in higher education sector in the country, particularly in Sarawak, Smith said the other area of growth would be on vocational education and training.

    “We are also very strong in vocational education and training and that is one of the real growth areas. We are very keen to work with Malaysia and Sarawak to see how our expertise in vocational education and training can help.”

    Smith said with Malaysia heading towards an ageing population like Australia, there would be opportunities for Australian businesses to explore into the healthcare and age-care sector to cater for new ways of supporting the senior citizens, and also in dealing with some of the healthcare challenges.

    He said with many well-known Australian retail brands doing very well in Malaysia, including in Sarawak, there were many opportunities for other companies to bring their retail products to the country with the growth in the domestic consumer sector.

    Smith also said there were tremendous people exchanges between Australia and Malaysia, with about 500,000 Australians visiting Malaysia for tourism and business, while some 300,000 Malaysians visited Australia to meet friends and relatives, for education, tourism and also for business last year.

    On investment, Smith said total Malaysian investments in Australia was about RM29 billion.

    Honorary consul for Australia in Kuching, Datuk Philip Ting, was also present at the press conference.


  • 18 Aug 2016 3:11 PM | Philip (Administrator)

    Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) Australian Director Ms Noor Hayati has announced that The Honourable Henry Sum Agong, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, Malaysia (MDTCC) will be leading an extensive delegation of Malaysian franchise organisations to attend the Franchise Expo in Melbourne later this month.

    “Malaysia’s franchising industry has been growing rapidly over the years and the commercial potential in the domestic market is relatively untapped as a share of the retail business,” said Ms Hayati.

    “Franchising in Malaysia is relatively moderate at below 10% compared to many other economies whereby 40% of retail business is transacted through franchised operations and therefore represents an immense opportunity for growth.”

    The Malaysian government has recognised the significant economic benefits of franchising as a platform for Malaysian entrepreneurs to become SMEs and in doing so further spur growth of the nation’s economy and employment opportunities.

    Last year during his 2015 Budget Speech Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the Enhanced Franchise Development Program (EFDP) that would be administered by the MDTCC as an initiative to support and encourage the growth and international expansion of the country’s franchises.

    Ms Hayati continued “Malaysian franchise brands have been growing rapidly and through the encouragement and support of the Government’s EFDP broadening their horizons into overseas marketplaces. To date, 61 Malaysian franchisors now operate in more than 55 countries, with a total of 2,400 outlets.”

    Australia and fellow ANZAC neighbour New Zealand have also been the beneficiaries of Malaysian franchises and some of these well-known brands include:

    • Papparich (Food Service) - 21 (VIC (8), SA (1), QLD (1), NT (1), NSW (6), ACT (1), WA (1)); 3 (Auckland (2), Wellington (1)
    • Snip - 1 (NSW)
    • Sugarbun (Food Service) -1 (VIC)
    • Royal Selangor (Premium items and jewellery) - 2 (VIC & NSW) & 349 stockists in Australia
    • Old Town Kopitiam (Food Service) - 1 (VIC)
    • GlobalArt (Education - Early Childhood learning) - 2 (NSW & VIC)
    • D'Tandoor (Food Service) - 2 (WA and NSW) *1 in NZ (Auckland)

    In conjunction with the trade mission, on Saturday August 27 the Deputy Minister will open the first franchise in Melbourne of Smart Reader that will be branded the International Language and Enrichment Centre at 99 Whitehorse Road, Deepdene.

    The centre started its operations last November and offers English and Mandarin programs and franchisee Ms Ashley Ong is confident the programs will enhance the communication and language skills of Victorians – especially those keen to learn Mandarin.

    Ms Hayati concluded, “Malaysia’s economy supports a vibrant SME sector and the domestic franchise sector has been growing rapidly over the years as an attractive option for Malaysians seeking to start and manage their own businesses. I am confident that Australians attending the upcoming franchise expo will be very impressed by the diversity, professionalism and opportunities on display by the Malaysian delegation.”


  • 18 Aug 2016 2:50 PM | Philip (Administrator)

    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.


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