by Vincent Fong January 30, 2019
Recently I had the pleasure of joining the ASEAN Tech Challenge which was organised by The Australian Trade and Investment Commission and the New South Wales Government.
Held in Sydney the ASEAN Tech Challenge is a platform for Australian startups and scaleups to pitch solutions to ASEAN investors like Red Beat Ventures (Air Asia) , Kickstart Ventures (Ayala Corporation) and Petronas Venture Capital.
While I was there, I took the opportunity to spend the week meeting some of the local players to get a sense of the fintech ecosystem in Australia.
Touring the Sydney Startup Hub
My first stop was the Sydney Startup Hub, spanning over 17,000 square feet and 11 floors — it’s strategically located in the heart of Sydney’s commercial business district.
The Sydney Startup Hub is a NSW Government initiative led by Jobs for NSW, a NSW Government-backed agency established in August 2016 to support the growth of new jobs across this state.
I learnt that the NSW Government will invest $35 million into Sydney Startup Hub over the next five years, which I found really interesting. While there are a number of global peers with startup hubs of a similar nature, none have government investment.
The ground floor of the hub features an open layout with a cafe as its centerpiece. The space is open to public, anyone can pop-in and use the Wi-Fi for free.
One could immediately sense the energy in the space once you walk in. When i was there several days of the week to meet-up with local players, the space was always filled with people hot-desking for several hours and having their meetings there.
When we caught up with Joshua Flannery, Director, Sydney Startup Hub, he shared since its launch in February 2018, the Sydney Startup Hub initiative have since created over 980 jobs and raised over $AUD 80 Million.
Interestingly, the Sydney Startup Hub consists several anchor residents that ranges from early stage incubators to corporate accelerators each with its own dedicated floor.
The incubators include Stone & Chalk, Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs and The Studio. Whereas the corporate and government residents include some big names like Microsoft’s ScaleUp accelerator program, Caltex’s C-lab, Transport for NSW’s Future Transport Digital Accelerator and the Department of Finance.
Joshua also explained that cost pressures brought by rapidly rising real estate prices has made it increasingly difficult for these incubators to support the startups, which will inevitably lead to the costs being passed to the startups. A scenario as such, would make it prohibitive for early stage startups to be part of the ecosystem.
The hub provides subsidised rates for the incubators which in turn enables them to continue running programmes to boost the startup ecosystem.
Beyond just economics, hosting these accelerators and incubators together is certainly a strategic move, as it helps to weave communities from various stages and verticals to mingle with each other to learn, grow and collaborate together.
The hub could also provide benefits to Malaysian fintech companies eyeing the Australian market. David Albaiceta, who works for the NSW Government based in Kuala Lumpur as Director Trade and Investment, accompanied me during my visit to the Sydney Startup Hub.
David mentioned that back in Kuala Lumpur local Malaysian fintechs had already expressed an interest in the Australian market and were looking at the Sydney Startup Hub as a potential landing pad.
At the same time, I also realized that some of the Australian startups based at the Sydney Hub were also very interested on what the Malaysian and other ASEAN markets could offer. I could sense some synergies in both ways.
Out of the 9 residents, two of them have a fintech skew to it namely; Stone & Chalk a well-known Australian fintech hub and Tank Stream Labs who won the best Best Co-working Space in Australia at the inaugural Fintech Awards.
Being a fintech geek, I wouldn’t be doing myself a favour if I didn’t take a chance to tour the two spaces.
Tank Stream Labs
Started in 2012, Tank Stream Labs primarily works with growth stage startups and scale-ups. It is currently home to 150 tech companies, of which 30% are fintech startups.
Yaron Rudman, COO Tank Stream Labs told Fintech News Malaysia that the dominant make up of fintech companies at its space is more of a reflection of Sydney’s startup landscape than it is a conscious effort from Tank Stream Labs.
The space also features areas where residents can organically interact which includes a swanky coffee machine, a pool table as you would expect from a co-working space.
Yaron told Fintech News Malaysia that despite having organised multiple events to have people interact with each other, sometimes the best ideas come from organic interactions that happen while waiting for their coffee or over a relaxing game of pool.
Stone & Chalk
My next stop was Stone & Chalk, who some have described as both the largest fintech hub and centre of gravity for fintech in Australia. Based in several locations, its Sydney Startup Hub arm is home 109 startups with over AUD$218 Million Raised, 26 large corporates.
Beyond just being a space where fintech founders to plug in the laptops and work, Stone & Chalk also functions as conduit for their corporate partners to work with innovative fintech startups. The large corporate partners feature familiar names like KPMG, AIG, Australia Stock Exchange, and HSBC.
Some of notable graduates include promising companies like Brighte, a fintech firm focuses on giving Australians access to sustainable removing the upfront cost of owning solar panels for end consumers.
Another alumni that is worth mentioning is AgriDigital, which is a blockchain powered platform that is designed to manage supply chain from the farmers all the way to the consumers. To date it has transacted over $AUD 255 Million in value.
Lessons For Malaysia ?
There’s no shortage of co-working spaces in Malaysia, ranging from broadly focused to vertical specific ones. Names like WORQ, Common Ground, NEM Blockchain Center, Orbit and ADAX (ASEAN Data Analytics eXchange) are familiar names to those who are in the startup scene.
Malaysian founders are spoiled for choice when it comes to co-working spaces and incubators, however much of these exists within their own vacuum. Fintech does not exist in isolation neither should it community, an initiative as such could help various startup communities to stop existing in isolation.
Cross-pollination of these community can help founders better understand how their solution can fit outside of their own current market and could perhaps even spark brilliant ideas that weren’t previously thought of.
There are already a few areas in which a concentration of co-working/incubator spaces exists, in Bangsar South there Orbit and ADAX which are both initiatives by MDEC, with the former being fintech focused and the latter data focused.
Whereas Glo Damansara is home to both NEM Blockchain Centre and WORQ. There’s also plenty of unrented retail spaces in that mall which I’m sure if there’s a large enough scale, a substantial discount can be negotiated.
Perhaps if the Startup and VC Commission previously mulled by Minister Gobind comes to fruition this could be one of the first initiatives to be considered?
Source: Fintech Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR: With the sluggish property market in Malaysia, it is not surprising to see local property players expanding their presence to other countries, notably Australia and the UK.
But stepping into another country means being exposed to foreign exchange (forex) risk. Revenues and expenses in that country are not denominated in ringgit and as such are subject to currency fluctuations. Thus, any weakening of that country’s currency could result in a lower revenue upon conversion into ringgit.
This is the situation now for Malaysian developers in Australia in the wake of the dropping Australian dollar. Another cause for concern is the slower property market Down Under.
Among Malaysian listed property developers undertaking projects in Australia, Mulpha International Bhd stands out when it comes to revenue contribution from that country. Some RM1.15 billion, or a whopping 97.92% of its total revenue, came from its Australian projects in 2017, according to the company’s annual report for that year.
Another property player, UEM Sunrise Bhd, saw RM963.89 million, or 33.2% of its total revenue contribution, come from Australia in 2017, according to its annual report.
But, as noted by AmInvestment Bank analyst Thong Pak Leng in a report last Thursday, UEM Sunrise had said there were no defaults on its Melbourne apartment projects Aurora and Conservatory, and it was on track to settle the units which had been handed over.
“Aurora is fully sold while Conservatory had a take-up rate of 96% as at end-December 2018,” said Thong.
As for other property developers such as S P Setia Bhd, Gamuda Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd, their Australian contributions are relatively minimal.
Kenanga Investment head of equity research Sarah Lim said that with the weakening Australian dollar, Malaysians could probably also consider buying properties there. This, she said, will boost the sales of Malaysian companies with projects in Australia, enabling them to clear their unsold units faster.
“The weakened Aussie dollar may actually encourage more people to buy [properties in Australia],” Lim told The Edge Financial Daily. “But for those who [have] already [booked properties there], the question is whether they are going to complete the sale.”
She explained that in Australia, buyers can pull out from a sale, adding that they would only do so if their total ringgit investment value has dropped by more than their initial deposit. They would not react badly to “short-term foreign exchange hiccups”.
From the developers’ standpoint, Lim said they are not as forex-sensitive in general because the completion of the project has a longer gestation period, resulting in the forex impact to be averaged out during the period.
“This could affect their cost, but this could average out year-on-year, because it takes about a minimum three to four years to complete one project,” said Lim, adding that the cost impact is difficult to see from a forex point of view and could only be seen when the project is completed.
“The cost impact on the forex is very hard to determine because you don’t know when the developers have brought in or taken out the money,” said Lim.
Furthermore, she noted that property developers are allowed to leave their money or earnings from their completed projects there to be deployed for their future investments, which means making them less sensitive to the volatility of the currency.
Affin Hwang Capital Research senior associate director Loong Chee Wei concurred, saying the weakening Australian dollar would not be much of a concern to property developers. He said the developers will focus on selling the remaining unsold units.
“They will be less aggressive in terms of launching new projects at this stage and will be focusing more on clearing the unsold inventory,” said Loong.
Nonetheless, he said the weaker Australian currency means that when earnings are translated into ringgit, they will be lower.
The more important impact, he said, would be if the developers could still sell the units or if the project itself is making good profits in Australian dollar. The completion of sales will be affected by the slower property market there as well as weaker selling prices, he added.
Opportunity to increase land bank?
The depreciating Australian dollar could also offer property developers the opportunity to increase their land bank down under.
Kenanga’s Lim stressed, however, that forex is not the “main decider” for developers to build on their land bank in Australia.
She noted that while Australia is seeing a slowdown in the property market, and in the Melbourne central business district, high-rise condominiums are mushrooming.
“So if they want to increase their land bank, the question is can they launch fast enough,” she said.
Additionally, she noted that developers, in general, do not store a lot of Australian land bank, and are “quite prudent” when it comes to land-banking there.
While buying land Down Under could be cheaper for property developers currently, Affin Hwang’s Loong said the developers will still be cautious about buying new land for development as cash flow is still a challenge.
He explained that the developers will complete the sale of their unsold units before looking for new land bank, unless their financial position is very strong. He added that most developers will reinvest their earnings collected from the completed projects.
“At this point, unless the property developers are doing really well in Malaysia — a lot of them are stuck with inventories here — wanting to put in new money in Australia is a challenge,” said Loong.
“Or if land prices drop so much, then it’s very opportunistic to buy it, and [provided that] the developers have a very strong balance sheet, which at this point, I don’t see many,” he added.
Likewise, RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd senior analyst Loong Kok Wen said developers have to be really careful as the property market in Australia has slowed down and the Australian government has tightened rules for foreign property buyers, especially in restricting the mainland Chinese buyers.
“It is not easy just because the Aussie dollar is cheaper now. Property developers have to be careful given that there is a slowdown in the region,” she said.
The source: The Edge Markets
MONASH University, Australia’s largest university, launched their Global Immersion Guarantee (GIG) programme in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 9, as it welcomed the inaugural cohort of GIG students to Malaysia.
The GIG programme is a Monash University, Faculty of Arts initiative that offers a guaranteed, funded overseas placement for every Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Global Studies student.
The GIG programme will play a valuable role within Monash University’s broader engagement in Malaysia and the South-East Asia region. The initiative reaffirms Monash University’s commitment to ensuring that students graduate with a deep appreciation for Malaysia, its culture, dynamic business and innovation sector.
Monash University along with its partners aspires to mobilise a generation that is globally-focused, culturally conscious, creative, bold, and has the ability to work collaboratively for the advancement of Malaysia and Australia.
As part of the GIG programme, between November and February every year, students travel to one of four countries, including Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and Italy, for a two-week experience. When in Kuala Lumpur, students will engage with local leaders, businesses, NGOs, community and youth groups about innovative and sustainable solutions to address human impact on the environment.
In his welcoming speech, Australian High Commissioner Andrew Goledzinowski said he hoped the students would be excited to be part of the GIG programme in Malaysia.
“You came to Malaysia at a very important time. It is the most interesting time in Malaysian history as there was a historic change in the government,” said Goledzinowski.
“Although, we are different countries, we have some extraordinary parallels. We are both Commonwealth countries, we are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and we are both an open trading society,” he said.
During the two weeks stint, the students will explore a number of sustainability challenges that are confronting contemporary Malaysia. They will also learn about Penang’s heritage sustainability challenges.
Monash Malaysia’s president and Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Andrew Walker, who spoke to theSun, said sustainability is a challenge all over the world.
He said the students made a trip to Carey Island, earlier that day, to look at sustainability from the perspective of the Mah Meri Orang Asli community.
“What we are interested in is how Malaysians preserve and protect nature in a very busy city like Kuala Lumpur,” he said, adding that the students would be exploring parks in Kuala Lumpur.
He said this would be the first time some of the students have travelled to Asia, adding that the programme would give them a real advantage in learning about new issues and perspectives.
Souce: The Sun Daily
KUALA LUMPUR: The Eco World group is targeting to achieve RM12bil worth of sales for its Malaysian and international operations over financial years 2019 and 2020.
For its financial year ended Oct 31, 2018 (FY18), local and international sales exceeded RM6bil.
Eco World Development Group Bhd (Eco World Malaysia) chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, the man behind the group, was in his element at the group’s FY18 results briefing. “Finally, we are making money in London. It has been a tough year (2018) but it has been a good year for us. We expect 2019 to be equally tough,” said Liew.
Moving away from year-to-year projections as is normally the case, Liew said he was stepping out of the ordinary to project collective sales over a combined two-year period for both Eco World Malaysia and Eco World International Bhd because of Brexit, the stamp duty issue in Australia and the current local climate.
“But we can do RM12bil through both companies over a two-year period,” he said, adding that he would like a 50:50 split bearing in mind that Britain’s built-to-rent (BtR) market would be Eco World International’s key growth driver.
Liew said the BtR market is a trillion-dollar business in the United States, but a million-dollar business in Britain.
“We want to help turn it into a billion-dollar business.”
Eco World International turned profitable in FY18 with RM35.5mil in profit after tax versus a loss of RM87.5mil a year ago.
It recorded total sales of RM3.3bil in FY18, above its set target of RM3bil and over 60% higher than the RM2bil achieved in FY17.
Eco World International’s share of unbilled sales to be carried forward to FY19 reached a record high of RM6.62bil. Although it has projects in Australia, Liew said the high points achieved by the company were due to Britain, where it is involved in open market sales for its three projects in London City Island, The Wardian and Embassy Gardens. However, it is the BtR segment that he is thrilled about.
Eco World International president/CEO Datuk Teow Leong Seng said: “Our decision to enter the extremely resilient Britain mid-mainstream market with its fast-growing BtR subsector has proven correct. We are indeed humbled to have managed to win the confidence of Invesco Real Estate, a global property investment management firm, for the sale of more than 1,000 BtR homes to one of its international separate account clients recently.
“At more than RM2bil in value, this sale is the largest BtR deal ever concluded in Britain – that it was achieved in less than six months after we completed our acquisition of 70% of the Willmott Dixon residential development business makes it especially notable,” Teow said.
Eco World London – Eco World International’s 70% joint venture with Willmott Dixon – already has existing sites with the potential to deliver over 3,000 BtR units, which the group intends to realise over the next two to three years. It aims to build a total of 10,000 BtR units over the longer term.
On the home front, Eco World Malaysia’s core profit after tax grew 46% from RM113.1mil in FY17 to RM165.6mil in FY18.
Its share of results from joint-ventures increased by RM86.3mil, from a loss of RM30.9mil in FY17 to a profit of RM55.4mil in FY18.
Despite cuts in marketing, overheads and administrative expenses, the company managed to achieve the same amount of sales, and this helped with the overall numbers.
Total sales form Malaysian projects exceeded RM3.1bil in FY18, with more than RM2.2bil achieved in the second-half of 2018. Its share of unbilled sales to be carried forward to FY19 stands at RM6.44bil, a record high for Eco World Malaysia.
Eco World Malaysia president/CEO Datuk Chang Khim Wah, said the company would be embarking on a new home ownership campaign in January 2019 called HOPE – Home Ownership Programme with Eco World.
It incorporates two innovative solutions to help customers own their homes and is targeted at owner-occupiers aged 40 years and below in search of a lifestyle, landscaped environment with amenities and digitally connected.
Source: The Star Malaysia
AVALON, Australia: AirAsia became the first airline to touch down at Melbourne’s newly opened international airport at Avalon on Wednesday (Dec 5) morning.
It also marked the launch of the first international service by the low-cost carrier to and from Victoria’s second airport, located 40km southwest of Melbourne.
With the start of flights to Avalon Airport, AirAsia will cease operating from the city's main airport at Tullamarine.
AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail said the inaugural flight to Avalon sealed a 10-year deal between the airline and Melbourne’s Avalon Airport, built with an about RM150 million (US$36 million) investment by the airport operator and the Australian and Victorian governments near the City of Geelong.
Operated by AirAsia’s long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X, Flight D7218 touched down at 8.20am local time with an 80 per cent load factor.
“This purpose-built no-frills facility has today become one of the most important international hubs AirAsia flies to outside of Southeast Asia,” Benyamin said.
He added the airline aims to fly 500,000 passengers annually via this route.
"AirAsia will operate 28 flights per week between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne Avalon. We aim to increase our load factor from 80 per cent (at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport) to 85 per cent via this new airport next year, " he said.
According to Benyamin, the long-term deal provides lower operating costs for AirAsia, will increase passenger volumes, non-aeronautical revenue for Avalon Airport and ultimately an opportunity for millions of people to fly affordably.
"AirAsia guests who fly to Melbourne Avalon will benefit from a range of ‘Avalon Advantages’ including cheaper parking, no Tullamarine freeway tolls, convenient access to Melbourne city centre via SkyBus, new airport infrastructure and a hassle-free arrival and departure process,” he added.
He said the airline also plans to fly to Avalon from Bangkok and Bali in the near future.
Also present at the launch were Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski AM, Group CEO AirAsia X, Nadda Buranasiri, Executive Chairman Linfox Airports, David Fox and CEO Avalon Airport, Justin Giddings.
To celebrate the inaugural flight, AirAsia has launched a Welcome to Melbourne Avalon Sale with promotional fares (until Dec 9) starting from RM499 each way between Melbourne Avalon/Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur/Melbourne Avalon for travel now through to May 2019.
In Australia, AirAsia also operates services between Kuala Lumpur and Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
Source: Channel News Asia
Australia has today ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) trade agreement giving our farmers access to more markets, greater opportunities for our businesses, more jobs and increased investment.
Australia is the sixth country to ratify the agreement, meaning it can now enter into force on 30 December this year. We join Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore as part of the first group to ratify.
Our ratification means we are guaranteeing maximum benefits for our farmers and businesses, with the bonus of two tariff reductions within 3 days - one on 30 December and another on 1 January 2019.
The TPP-11 is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious trade agreements in Australia’s recent history. It will help support Australian businesses to grow and see annual benefits of up to $15.6 billion to our national economy by 2030.
Australian farmers and businesses will particularly benefit from new high-quality free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico, our first ever with these two of the world’s top 20 economies.
For example, the Agreement will provide new access to the Canadian market for our grains, sugar and beef exporters. It will open up the growing Mexican market for our pork, wheat, sugar, barley and horticulture producers.
Australian exporters of industrial products such as iron and steel, leather and paper products and medical equipment, who currently sell $19 billion worth of products to TPP-11 markets, will be able to grow their businesses without facing a tariff disadvantage.
The TPP-11 also improves our market access into Japan for our beef, wheat, barley and dairy exporters beyond the bilateral Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
It’s hard to believe Labor would have walked away when the US walked out on the TPP rather than staying and getting the best possible deal for our farmers and businesses.
More concerning is that in recent weeks we’ve also seen Labor yield to union demanded policies on trade that will substantially weaken if not completely eliminate the capacity of any future Labor government to get better market access for our exporting farmers and businesses.
Our Government’s record speaks for itself and only we can be trusted to deliver agreements that open new markets for Australian exporters, create certainty for Australian businesses, strengthen our economy and create more jobs.
Source: Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
KUALA LUMPUR: Top business leaders in Malaysia are optimistic of their operating environment and the nation’s economic prospects, according to a recent survey by Monash University Malaysia and CPA Australia.
Respondents, who comprised 416 chief executive officers (CEOs) and senior managers, also viewed the global economic environment as moving forward towards greater stability.
However, the trade war rhetoric between US and its major trading partners remains a cause of concern, as a full-scale trade war will dampen global growth and business sentiment in the region and Malaysia.
The “Business Sentiment 2018” survey said to mitigate these risks, Malaysian firms are intensifying their market opportunities within the domestic economy and expanding their operations in Asean and other Asia Pacific markets.
Their optimism, according to the survey, is attributed to the various government policies and strategies to increase disposable income of consumers via lower taxes, removal of tolls on road use and increased spending on major infrastructure development.
“Strong performance of firms is also attributed to greater adoption of digital technology and the transition towards business models underpinned by Industry 4.0.
“Interestingly, small and medium sized firms are embracing these technological developments quicker than large firms. Hence, these technologies are enabling the small and medium sized firms to be more agile and adaptive to the changes taking place in the global economy,” it added.
The respondents also proposed several initiatives to nurture and sustain a sound, agile and resilient national innovation ecosystem.
These include increasing the supply of creative talent to enable firms to enhance process improvements, product development and expand market reach.
They also called for strengthening the engagement between universities, industry and government to ensure educational programmes, training initiatives and R&D activities continuously raise the innovative capacity of firms.
Respondents said greater incentives are needed for SMEs to access technology, expertise, R&D and other business support to facilitate their move up the innovation value chain.
Source: New Straits Times
KUALA LUMPUR: The new Malaysian government has the right to review what the previous government had signed up to in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said the deputy high commissioner of Australia Michael Growder.
“We are all very supportive of that. Many other governments will do the same thing and it is not something (that) we have any problem with at all,” Growder said during a discussion on CPTPP here today.
“We of course hope that they (Malaysian government) would see fit to ratify (the CPTPP) as they go through with the ratification process,” he added.
Meanwhile, the high commissioner of Canada Julia Bentley, who is also one of the panelist for the event, believes that Malaysia’s top exports would benefit from the free trade agreement, which include the country’s exports of palm oil, rubber and electronic products.
“These (exports) would benefit from the tariffs reduction,” Bentley said.
The event, which is aimed to discuss the importance and benefits of CPTPP, is jointly organised by three chamber of commerce, namely the Malaysia Canada Business Council (MCBC), Malaysian Australian Business Council (MABC) and the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry Malaysia (JACTIM).
To date, Mexico, Japan and Singapore have ratified the CPTPP, with Australia and Chile to follow suit by year-end.
Source: The Sun Daily
PETALING JAYA: The composition of the committee set up to review Lynas Corporation’s rare earth project in Gebeng, Kuantan, are among factors critical in ensuring the nation’s reputation as a stable and open investment destination, says the Malaysia-Australia Business Council (MABC).
“The credibility of the review, which includes the composition of the review team and the terms of reference, is critical to ensure that it does not damage Malaysia’s reputation as a stable and open investment destination,” the council said in a statement here yesterday.
While the council acknowledged and did not dispute the government’s right to conduct a review of the operations, it said the review should be to assess any breaches of licences or for not meeting acceptable international standards.
“In the interests of maintaining investors’ confidence, any review into Lynas Malaysia should be public, transparent, objective and evidence-based,” the council said.
“The company should be provided with the opportunity to defend publicly its regulatory and environmental record since it commenced operations in 2012.”
The statement by MABC follows the council’s concerns over recent reports about a review of the operations of Lynas Malaysia, which has been producing high quality rare earth materials in Kuantan under extensive licensing conditions since September 2014.
“Malaysia has long been regarded as an attractive investment destination,” it said.
“This is because of the reliable legal framework; predictable economic and political environment; and openness to investment.”
MABC noted that Australian businesses had invested almost RM30bil in Malaysia as of end 2017 in several sectors including manufacturing, services, agribusiness, resources and the digital economy.
Last month, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry announced that it would be setting up a committee to review Lynas’ operations.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh was appointed the chairman.
Her appointment to lead the review committee had raised concerns among several parties.
Source: The Star Online
KUANTAN: Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Andrew Goledzinowski believed that Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lynas) in Gebeng should not be shut down as it has contributed a lot in terms of providing jobs and improving the local economy.
Describing it as a tragedy if Lynas was to cease operation, he said many people would lose their jobs and Pahang's reputation as an investment-friendly state would also be affected.
Goledzinowski said Lynas has created about 600 jobs, not including thousand others that were indirectly involved with the Gebeng plant.
“I want to make sure that Lynas continues to grow and creates more jobs for Malaysians. I don't think Lynas will close down or else it will be a tragedy....people will then say politics is more important than science.
“Lynas is a pioneer in Malaysia and its success story will inspire other companies from Australia to come here.
"Once a company is successful then the others will show interest. But if one fails, then everyone else will know about it... In fact, we have another business investment coming from Australia this week,” he told reporters after a high-tea session with Lynas management staff and village headman from Beserah here.
Goledzinowski was commenting on the recent news report about a review on Lynas' operation set to be carried out by a committee under the Pakatan Harapan government.
The Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry had recently identified the rare earth refinery plant as one of several "environmentally risky" projects which needed a review.
He said during a recent meeting, Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin had given her assurance that any decision made by the government would be based on facts and evidences.
He said Yeo had also relayed her intention to visit Lynas in October for a briefing and that he was looking forward to it.
“To date, Lynas is the most reviewed and investigated plant in Malaysia and I do not think that another review will be a problem as long as it is factually supported.
"It is the rights of the new government to do a review (on Lynas) and Lynas has to take part in it.
“On my side, I hope the media and public will be able to be given access to what is happening as it will not only assure transparency but also raise awareness about Lynas and its activities.
"(After all) Lynas is one of Australia’s most vital business in Malaysia,” he said.
It was reported that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh, who is also the Kuantan member of parliament and Bentong member of parliament Wong Tack would be leading a committee set up to review the Lynas project.
In his speech earlier, Goledzinowski said the rare earth mineral could only be obtained in China and Pahang and if Lynas was to close down, technology producers in the United States and Japan will have to solely depend on China.
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