Saturday, 30 April 2011

Interviewing Catwalk Guru Benjamin Toong

After interviewing Amber Chia, the Malaysia born international supermodel, this is the second episode. For those who missed the interview, please read "Interviewing International Supermodel Amber Chia" dated 11 April 2011. In conjunction with this, Finance Malaysia Blog continue to highlight some of those successful Malaysian. We strive to bring out the hidden success story of Malaysian, and we are proud to present to you Catwalk guru - Benjamin Toong.

Some profile of Benjamin Toong:
  • Founder of Runway Productions
  • Crowned as the catwalk guru of Malaysia in year 2010
  • 3 years experience in runway training, fashion stylist and runway choreographers
  • Fashion stylist for local and international fashion magazines
  • Judge and Professional Runway Trainer for Ford model Supermodel of the world Malaysia 2009
  • Official stylist of Jiayu Astro CH304
  • Co-founder of AmberChia Academy

The Interview
  1. In Malaysia, many people perceived that modelling is of western culture. Can you tell us HOW and WHY you ventured into modelling industry?
    • First of all, I would not consider modelling as a western culture. Being a good model, you need to be very disciplined! Any model that want to be at the top in the industry need to be very discipline in ALL aspects (stressed Ben again).
    • How? Well, it all started when I first helped out my designer friend to arrange for a big fashion show for ONE UTAMA fashion week many years ago and realized that models at that time are not really so well trained and that comes with the following question
    • Why? Oh, first and foremost of course I love this industry, and my passion in modelling industry is indescribably and I wanted to see every model that call themselves professional models are doing a great job on the runway.

    • Action: Catwalk guru on Runway
  2. What is your advice to those aspirant future model who want to succeed? Are there any secret for them?
    • If you really want it, GO FOR IT! To be at the top, nothing is better than to be a good disciplined model. If you think you are gorgeous, tall, great body, there are many out there much more better than you. But if you have a good attitude, then everyone will remember you and will happily keep on working with you! The secret is "to be discipline in everything you do"!

  3. Beside modelling, what's your hobby during your spare time?
    • My hobby is exercising whenever I have the time as I need to keep in a good shape to tell others to stay healthy and stay in good shape. My other hobbies are listening to music and watching fashion shows as I need to keep myself updated with current fashion and music.
    • Benjamin with his high heels
  4. On money matters, do you personally invest?
    • I invest a lot on high heels. (laughing...) I am not good in investment, but I have a few houses, a car, and an academy.
Although Benjamin said that he is not good at investment, but judging from his asset (few houses), Finance Malaysia believes he must be joking. Hahaha. For sure, his investment into his own business is his best investment already.

Dear readers, seriously insert the golden word of Benjamin into your soul - "Discipline". As such, we thanks Benjamin Toong for his time spent. We wish him healthy and wealthy (can buy more 7-inch high heels?).

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Obama and the Race to the Bottom

The results of the President's economic policies are becoming plain to see. The economy is mired in stagnation; inflation is picking up; and new unemployment claims are surging. The national debt is reaching catastrophic levels. The Fed is printing money to finance purchases of new debt (they bought 80 percent of the newly financed deficits for the past eight months). The most absurd economic policies in American history are bearing fruit. The economy is a total mess.

Obama often speaks of "the race to the bottom." Now we know what he means. The American economic engine, once the envy of the world, is now a joke, and a bad one at that. Obama's policies have strangled the private sector and broken the finances of the federal government.

So what is Obama doing now? He's beginning his re-election campaign. Wonder what part of this record he plans to defend?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

New Fund: CIMB-Principle Asia Pacific Dynamic Income Fund

On 25th April 2011, CIMB-Principle Asset Management Berhad launched the first Asia-Pacific fund for this year. The fund will invest in dividend-yielding stocks from the Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) region. To brings out the "dynamism" of the fund, a "color-changing dragon" was used. For sure, the company must has placed a lot of hard work to come out with the idea and I think it is a successful example which could attracts the attention of prospective investors.

"Investors are generally back to being bullish. After 2 very good years, valuations have recovered and Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets are up. Looking ahead, slower economic recovery of the developed markets will shift investors' appetite to Asia Pacific and this positive outlook will spur further stable investments. We are confident that markets will perform positively and this Fund will satisfy investors' revived sentiments and lingering concerns", said CEO of CIMB-Principal. 

Investment objective
The fund aims to provide regular income by investing primarily in the Asia Pacific ex Japan region and at the same time aims to achieve capital appreciation over the medium to long term.

How to achieve that?
Under general market conditions, the Fund's investment will focus on high dividend yielding equities of companies. In addition, the Fund may also invest in companies with good growth potential, which may adopt a strong dividend payout policy.

How about in not-so-good time?
The manager may take temporary defensive positions that may detract from the Fund's prescribed asset allocation when the manager believes that the equity markets that the Fund invests in are experiencing excessive circumstances, the Fund may invest all or a substantial portion of its assets in money market instruments and/or other fixed income investments. The manager may also utilize derivative instruments such as futures contracts to hedge the portfolio.

What is an active investment strategy that the Manager will adopt?
  • combines top-down country and sector allocation with a bottom-up stock selection process
  • reviewing the macroeconomic trends in Asia Pacific ex Japan economies
  • analyzes the direction of GDP growth, interest rates, inflation, currencies and government policies to form the view and outlook for each country
  • then, assessing their impact on corporate earnings and dividends and determine if there are any predictable trends

Investors profile:
  • have a medium to long term investment horizon
  • want a well diversified portfolio of Asia Pacifc ex Japan region
  • willing to take moderate risks for potentially moderate capital returns over the long term
  • seek regular income
What is the targeted return?
The fund is an equity income and growth fund with a target return of 8% per annum over the medium to long term. "We believe this is an achievable target even after the crisis in 2008. The demand for Asia Pacific ex-Japan equities is on the rise, with continued rapid urbanization and accompanying domestic consumption that have fueled high GDP growth in most Asia Pacific countries, which are higher than that of the US and Europe," added CEO.

Click here to download the prospectus
Source: CIMB-Principle website

Monday, 25 April 2011

When is the BEST time to buy House? (25 Apr 2011)

Last year 2010, Malaysia property market recorded the BEST year ever. Will it be another record breaking year in 2011? Many economist and property analysts opine that this year, the property market will appreciates by another 10-15%. So, should we wait some more?

Recently, many of my friends keeps on asking the same bold questions.
  • Should I buy house now?
  • Or, should I wait some more?
  • But, when is the property downturn?
Modern Design: Swimming pool in the house.
Good questions though, but if you ask me when is the property downturn, I really do not know. As a rule of thumb, I will rely on the stock market to give me the indication. Commonly, property market will take a blow one year after the crashing of stock market. Example, the 2008 financial crisis gave us a good timing to invest in property market. For those who buy house during that time, you should know what I am talking about and smile.

So what? How about now?

Before answering your question, I would like to throw you back a question "Are you looking for your first house?". If YES, anytime is the best time to own a house, forget about the timing factor. Your objective to own it, not invest for return. Why bother waiting for the best time? Otherwise, you are renting while waiting, and money still running out of your pocket every month.

But if your answer is NO, and you treat it as an investment, I do not think this is a good time. Why? As you already know, the valuations is rich enough to swallow your future potential return. Given the risk reward profile, it is not worth to invest at current high level to exchange for a reasonable return. If you're renting it out, sure this is not wise move. Please bare in mind that the rental is very hard to go hand-in-hand. Prices are going way too fast for rental to catch up now.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

ACEs are back. Be cautious? (21 April 2011)

Yeah... Our long lost friends are here again. These friends are in the limelight again, conquering the lists of most active counters lately. Punters are trading happily because of their relatively cheap price, higher volatility, and most importantly less coverage by analysts. Normally, investment banks did not cover ACE counters due to their not-so-clear business model, hence very hard for them to project their earnings and setting fair value. No estimated fair value means punters can set the "fair" ground themselves.

Most Active Counters in Bursa Malaysia on 21st April 2011

You Jump... I Jump

Of course, some of those ACE counters are there for certain reason, but many of them are there without any material announcement. For example, Tricubes is very active due to its participation in ETP, by investing RM50mil to develop the 1Malaysia email project. But then, why Omedia, IE, Viztel, TDEX also featured in the most active list today? Don't we have better companies to trade lately? And, even for Tricubes, a PN17 (financially-troubled) company, the future was still bleak. Still, it is a loss-making company. How did Tricubes comes out with a whopping RM50mil?

Why should we be cautious?
ACE market counters presumably are lower-graded companies, which get their ways to list in Bursa Malaysia. In fact, this is true to certain extent as Bursa Malaysia did not required past proven track records for aspirant ACE companies. Alternatively, they can be backed up by a so called "sponsor". This sponsor could be a company, investment banks, or venture-capitalist (VC). The reality is market manipulators are "doing" their job again once they see the opportunity in the market, and it is now - hot and spicy market. Of course, these scenario would not last long, maybe days. Then, they will wait for next round.

Sixth-sense tells Finance Malaysia that the market momentum is dying slowly, which could spark a sell-off in the market soon. Would it happened on Good Friday tomorrow?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Greek Restructuring -- Sooner or Later?

It is interesting to see folks saying that if the Greeks restructure their debt (meaning a partial default on their debt) that a financial Armageddon will soon follow. Since restructuring or some type of default is inevitable for Greece, I guess there must be a financial Armageddon in our future. Last week the IMF suggested that the Greeks must restructure within 12 months and now more voices have been added saying essentially the same.

What those who worry about the coming Armageddon don't seem to get is that "restructuring" or a "partial default" is inevitable for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. Indeed, one should add Germany and France to that list since their governments and banks have backstopped the former countries with bailouts in the past 24 months.

What is wrong with a default or partial default by Greece? Nothing. Those who have made bad loans to Greece should lose money. Is there any reason that they should be insulated from their bad decisions and the losses should be spread to those who did not make bad decisions? That's the problem with bailouts. They transfer wealth from those who made good decisions to those who made bad decisions. Why is that a good (or fair) idea? The answer is: it isn't.

Lending money to people who can't possibly pay it back is stupid and will eventually result in loss. Call it financial Armageddon or whatever you will. It is inevitable. The Western European plains are soon to be littered with defaults, partial defaults and restructurings. There is no way to avoid it. You may as well plan for it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

New Fund: MAAKL-HDBS Shariah Progress Fund

MAAKL Mutual today announced the launch of the MAAKL-HDBS Shariah Progress Fund, an Islamic equity small-cap fund, that gives investors the opportunity to invest in Shariah-compliant growth companies in Malaysia.

CEO of MAAKL said:"The investment objective of MAAKL-HDBS Shariah Progress Fund is to provide unit holders with steady long-term capital growth at a reasonable level of risk by investing in a diversified portfolio of small to medium capitalized Shariah-compliant equities and equity-related instruments."

Investment Style & Strategy

The fund will invest primarily in a diversified portfolio of small to medium size Malaysian equities which comply with Shariah requirements. The fundamental investment process will be geared towards identifying and investing mainly in growth companies listed on Bursa Malaysia which are not part of the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index constituents.

Various tools will be used to facilitate the valuation process, including price over earnings ratio, the discounted cash flow model and enterprise value over earnings before interest, depreciation and taxation. Meanwhile, Islamic money market instruments are only used to maintain liquidity position and also as a short-term alternative should the equity market become extremely volatile. These include term Shariah-based deposits, Islamic repo and short-term cash placements with financial institutions.

Does this fund suits you?
This is an equity fund, and it is suitable for investors who:
  • are willing to accept a higher level of risk
  • seek to maximize long-term capital appreciation from their investments
  • have a low income stream requirement
  • have a medium-to-long term investment horizon (3 - 5 years)

Who is the fund manager?
In this collaboration, MAAKL has appointed HwangDBS Investment Management Berhad as the fund manager for this fund.

Source: MAAKL Mutual
Click here to read the prospectus

Monday, 18 April 2011

Real Property Gains Tax (2011)

Malaysia is known as "tax heaven" of the world. Why? Because Malaysia does not impose tax on any capital gains derived from investment, such as shares, unit trust... But, there is only one type of capital gains that attracted tax - property.
PARC @ One South, Seri Kembangan
Real property gains tax (RPGT) is a form of capital gains tax. RPGT is charged on gains arising from the disposal of real property in Malaysia. These so called real property is defined as:
  • any land situated in Malaysia and any interest, option or other right in or over such land; or
  • shares in a real property company
How much?

Actually, we have RPGT in our tax system many years ago until 31 March 2007, when government abolished RPGT to attract foreigners to invest in Malaysia. But then, from 1 January 2010, RPGT is re-imposed at the rate of 5% on gains arising from disposals of chargeable assets in respect of real properties that are disposed within 5 years of owning.

What is real property company?
It is a controlled company holding real property or shares in another real property company as a major asset. And, the "major asset" here refers to defined value > 75% of the value of its total tangible assets.

Mon't Kiara
Withholding of RPGT
With effect from 1 January 2010, an acquirer of chargeable asset must withhold 2% of the total value of the acquisition price to be paid to the Inland Revenue Board within 60 days from the date of disposal.
Are there any exemptions?
  • an amount of RM10,000 or 10% of the chargeable gain, whichever is greater, accruing to an individual (w.e.f 1 January 2010)
  • gain arising on disposal as a result of compulsory acquisition of property under law
  • gain accruing to an individual who is a citizen or a permanent resident in respect of the disposal of one private residence
In other words, everyone of us have one "Free RPGT" card in hand. This is the ONLY card that the government gave us, and we can decide to use it or not, and when to unveil the card. You can saved it for another day, because it is not compulsory to use it for your first disposal.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Why Bail Out Bondholders?

Debts continue to rise in the US and in Western Europe. The so-called bailouts of Greece and Ireland simply enable those countries to get deeper in debt and continue the fiction that some day those debts can be paid off. They can't.

Over the next sixteen months, more European countries will be added to the bailout list: Portugal first, then Spain, and then attention will focus on Italy. The purpose of a bailout is to enable a country to continue to expand its debt. Is that a good idea?

Isn't it time the lenders took a loss. Why are we protecting the lenders? The lenders are sophisticated, highly paid folks, who took a risk that is not working out. They should get burned for their mistake. Why bring the taxpayers into the picture and continue to increase debt levels that everyone knows will never get paid.

It is time for a "workout," as they say in the finance world. Lenders and borrowers need to sit down at a a table and "work out" a new repayment schedule -- a schedule that will inevitably lower debt levels and force the lenders to restructure their way into losses. This is going to happen anyway. Why not start now, instead of pushing policies that simply increase debt to even higher levels and perpetuate the myth of eventual repayment.

Capitalism can't work unless you let it work. Let it work.

Friday, 15 April 2011

MRT at Iskandar: Is it Viable?

When everyone talk about mass rapid transit (MRT) system at KL, it's reasonable given the terrible bumper to bumper traffic jam every working days. Certainly, it creates a buzz in Malaysia with its RM50 billion price tag. Maybe because of the buzzing topic, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) also looking at the possibility of implementing a 500km MRT within the region which would also provide a direct link to Johor Bahru. The project is scheduled for completion by 2020. What's your reaction?

I believe many people will think the same with me - unbelievable. My jaw drops down the floor thereafter. We do not have to perform  those sophisticated calculation to judge whether the Iskandar MRT is viable or not. I came out with these 3 points.

3 Stupid Questions to ask our-self

  1. Population
    • KL is capital of our country, while Iskandar is a region which encompass the capital of a state
    • Do you think that Iskandar has more people than than the capital of KL?
    • Some more, Iskandar is 3x larger than Singapore, but with much lesser population
  2. New vs Old
    • KL is an not well planned city, which contributes to traffic problems now
    • However, Iskandar is a new city with ample of land, with ample of time to plan. Why not take your land and time as an advantage to plan ahead?
    • We don't have choice in KL, we're forced to resort to MRT
  3. Alternative ways
    • Well, everyone knows that MRT system is an extremely expensive project. Thus, we should source for other ways first, before considering MRT.
    • With ample of vacant lands still available now, why straightaway jump to MRT?
    • Also, population are not there yet, what's the urgency to build MRT now?
    • Instead, we should consider the following system first: Roads, Bus, Highways, LRT, then only MRT. MRT should be the last due to higher cost.
The 5 flagship zones of Iskandar Malaysia, namely Johor Bahru City (A), Nusajaya (B), Western Gate Development (C), Eastern Gate Development (D), and Senai-Skudai (F)

Wait... What am I using? Common sense, man (without calculator in my hand).
To support my view, below is what written by OSK Research:
"We feel that the chances of the Iskandar MRT being implemented anytime soon is slim. Based on IRDA's estimated cost of RM30m/km, the entire project will work out to RM15bn which is certainly a huge sum. Although an efficient public transport network is a crucial element of Iskandar to emerge as a thriving metropolis region, we think that it is still too soon for an MRT to be built. At this juncture, we believe that the Federal Govt is probably going to focus more on the KL MRT, LRT extension and various other ETP projects to ensure that it kicks off on time before considering the Iskandar MRT."
Source: IRDA, Iskandar Malaysia website

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Sarawak state election 2011: BN to lose 2/3 majority?

Coming this Saturday, 16th April 2011, the Sarawak state elections will be held and Malaysians will be watching closely on the outcome. Of course, I do not know the outcome yet. In fact, I am afraid to predict it, as the "not so good" result will jeopardize my share investments. I am not a Sarawakian either, what should I gauge against? As Chinese said, outsiders tends to be clearer than insiders. As such, Finance Malaysia refer to the following article taken from Credit Suisse as a reference, a view from foreigners.

BN's 'fixed deposit' will be put to test?
The Sarawak state elections will be a key barometer for Prime Minister Najib to gauge the support for Malaysians for the incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN). While previous state elections were seen to be non-events, as Sarawak has always been BN stronghold, these particular polls will likely be the most hotly contested. This round, for BN to lose the 2/3 majority, it will need to lose 24 seats or an additional 15 seats.

4 Disadvantages to BN
  1. "Bible"
    • On the surface, the 'Bible' issue has been resolved, but this issue could have hit a sour note with the Christian voters. To recap, the row over the use of Malay-language Bibles centers on the use of word 'Allah' for God.
    • 43% of Sarawakians are Christians
  2. "Native customary rights"
    • There are supposedly over 200 pending cases over the 'native customary rights' land problems. These cases are seeking to overturn the directive made by the Minister for Resources Planning in Sarawak to extinguish their native customary rights and revert the land to the Sarawak government.
    • 56% of total voter population in Sarawak are natives
  3. Taib's alleged immense wealth
    • Chief Minister of Sarawak, Taib has ruled Sarawak for 30 years. The opposition has highlighted Taib family's alleged immense wealth and businesses. The key Chinese party in Taib's stable, SUPP, will likely be taking the brunt of the Chinese's hostile sentiment towards Taib.
  4. Poverty in Sarawak
    • Accusations of money politics and corruption could surface during the Sarawak state elections, as the level of poverty is one of the highest in Malaysia, although Sarawak is one of the riches states in natural resources (oil, gas, timber and palm oil).
What would be the outcome?
BN currently has 87% of the state seats. Credit Suisse believe that BN will lose more seats but will unlikely lose the 2/3 majority. This suggests that BN will hold the General Elections in 2012 (and not 2011), which is good news for the stock market, as the government will have to dish out more 'goodies' and continue spending.

What if there's a political tsunami?
It would be a buying opportunity. If the voters swing significantly to the opposition, we look to the 8 March 2008 general elections to gauge the impact on the stock market. If the unexpected happens, we conclude that a knee-jerk downward reaction would provide a buying opportunity for fundamentally-strong stocks as they should outperform once the shock wears off.

Credit Suisse Top Picks
PetChem, CIMB, Axiata, Genting, Gamuda, AirAsia, IJM Corp, UEM Land and RHB Cap.

Source: Credit Suisse

KLCI: What the Hell is going on? + Invest Malaysia 2011

Thinking that yesterday's 13points drop is enough? Today, KLCI slumps again for the 2nd day in a row. Are you expecting it? Personally, I don't think most of us can predict the future. But, what I can say is that many investors like me would positioning our money very well, anticipating some good announcements during Invest Malaysia 2011 Conference today and tomorrow. If you're thinking the same way, Good Luck!!!

TheStar picture
Any BAD news?
Excluding foreign news, NO bad news at all in Malaysia. But, investors see the opposite side now - no good news = bad news!

Profit-taking activities set in on Malaysia market beginning this week. If you're not the one who cash out yesterday, you would probably forced to stay on holding until the "tsunami" is over. Money is washing away from the market, flowing overseas (capital outflow by foreign funds). That's why banking stocks, Genting, Petronas Chemicals took a beating today, pulling down KLCI as a result.

Souce: Yahoo! Finance
While many investors are waiting for the goodies during Invest Malaysia 2011 conference, it seems like the party is over without much excitement. First, let's us summarize the announcements made today:
  1. 2nd Capital Market Masterplan (CMP2) to swell the value of the capital market to RM5.8 trillion through greater internalization from RM2 trillion now
    • New dual licensing scheme to make it easier for dealers in the equity market to become licensed to trade in the derivatives market
    • Increasing the number of day traders by almost 3x to enable more dealer representatives to become specialized traders
    • New private retirement scheme is introduced
  2. Listing of Felda Group's sugar business expected in July 2011
  3. In attracting Malaysian professionals to returned, flat 15% income tax rate for 5 years is introduced

What is lacking?
Surprisingly, the Pos Malaysia's stake which is being divested by Khazanah still remained a mystery. Who would be the winner? PM:"The disposal of Pos Malaysia is now in final stage". Maybe due to this news, DRBHicom (the main contender who tipped to win the stake) falls sharply from recent high of RM2.50 to closed RM2.24 today.

Can we turnaround in 2nd-half?
1st-half (today), the impact had undeniably failed. Let's monitor the 2nd-half (tomorrow). As reported by various analysts, tomorrow's session will highlights the Greater Kuala Lumpur related projects. As such, the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) project should take to the stage, and updated on the progress of project. MRCB and Gamuda should be in focus tomorrow. But, would these counters facing the same DRBHicom's fate too?

Yellen and Dudley

Academic economist Janet Yellen, now President of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and Bill Dudley, long time Wall Street (Goldman Sachs) economist, now president of the New York Federal Reserve, have both chimed in on inflation in the last 24 hours. They don't see it coming. The Fed, in their view, should continue to expand its balance sheet to historic levels, effectively printing massive quantities of new dollars. Why?

Well, in their collective view, the economy is still weak and the incredibly surging commodity prices will soon be reversed. Maybe they should be trading, not running FRS banks. Their views and analysis show the poverty of economics as a science. Both Yellen and Dudley are staunch supporters of President Obama. He doesn't see any inflation coming, so neither do they. It's that simple.

Once again, the Yellen-Dudley theme is that government knows best. In this case, the government's agent is Ben Bernanke, whose famous utterance in 2007 that housing prices were justifiably high based on sound economic fundamentals, still echoes as a reminder of how little economists know about the economy.

There ought to be a rule that when you don't know anything about the future don't do anything that might make things worse. If that were the case, Ben Bernanke would be joining the ranks of the unemployed, instead of setting up future problems for the struggling American economy. His cheerleaders, Yellen and Dudley, should go back and do some research to justify their political leanings instead of sounding off about things they know nothing about. All we have learned from their pronouncements is that they both still worship at the shrine of Obama. We've learned nothing about the future of inflation from either of them.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Interviewing International Super Model Amber Chia

Finance Malaysia is very pleased to be able to interview Malaysia's Super Model Amber Chia, who had already making a name for herself in Modeling. When given the chance to interview, Amber Chia had always been Finance Malaysia's mind. In fact, Amber is an icon of the industry nowadays. She even forays into international scene, bringing Malaysia's image with her.

Amber's Story
From her small town roots in East Malaysia to her domination of the local modeling scene, Amber Chia embodies the classic fairy tale rise to fame. After moving to Kuala Lumpur at the early age of 17, Amber was quickly able to make a name for herself within the local modeling scene. Her charming personality and distinct look hastily ensured her place amongst the countries elite. Amber proved her international appeal by securing a contract with Guess Watches International in 2004 and has since used this as a platform to propel herself into other mediums such as movies and television. (

The Lovely Interview...
  1. Being a Model, TV Host and Actress, which one do you think that is the most challenging task for you? And, why?
    • Basically, everything new to me sometime would be challenging. If you really want me to select, I would say being a model. Why? This is because modeling is the first task that I faced the world, be it on the stage, in front of TV and camera. In fact, being a model had gained me different experiences which could then be useful for being a TV host and actress. Yes, modeling is my answer.
  2. You had ventured into business and started Amber Creations and AmberChia Academy. What drives you to become a businesswoman?
    • I am not young anymore. Haha. I wanted to plan for my future too. I love this entertainment industry, and before venturing into business, I had been in this industry for 14 years. I started Amber Creations (event management company) and AmberChia Academy, and these are not new to me either. These businesses closely related to what I am practicing all this while. And, this is the best of me.

    • AmberChia Academy was set up with the aim of grooming the next top super model. I am very passionate about it, and hopes to nurture ones talent just like Amber Chia did.
  3. The following questions touched on your personal money matters. What is your view on Insurance
    • For me, insurance is something compulsory, it's not optional. My insurance plans includes everything ranging life, medical, accidental and retirement. You must be mindful of your loved ones when something unfortunate event happens to you. Insurance is very important to us, especially if a family was set up.
  4. How about Investment?
    • On investment, I had started planning, and started my baby education fund. I am investing in properties. As usual, location location location is the most important rule in property investing. All of my investment is in Malaysia. I don't invest in overseas because I only did what I knew best. For me, I am not confident in overseas investing.
  5. Any words for our readers?
    • Dear readers, we must save money for our future. We should save, invest and spend on essential items. Do not overspend. Learn and enhanced our skills and knowledge in personal money management is crucial. Good luck.

Finance Malaysia takes this opportunity to thanks Amber for her time spent on this interview, and wishes her good luck in her career and businesses. We hope that this article could inspire Malaysians to excel further in their future.

Still not enough on Amber Chia?
Click here

Friday, 8 April 2011

Sound and Fury ...Signifying Nothing

The budget impasse is a lot of drama over very little. A $ 40 billion spending reduction shows that neither political party understands the depth of the US's national debt problems. It will likely take a failed treasury auction before the politicians on either side of the aisle understand how serious the US situation is. We are not that far from a Greece debacle or a Portugal debacle....and the European Central Bank is not available for our needs. Perhaps Obama should go ahead and take his Virginia vacation this weekend as planned. He doesn't really understand what's going on anyway.

By contrast, the victory in Wisconsin for Scott Walker is a true victory for fiscal sanity. Things look brighter in Wisconsin, but they remain pretty dim for the US taxpayer.

Personal Income Tax 2010: Residential Property

With effective from Year of Assessment (YA) 2009, Malaysian resident who acquired any residential property are given the specially designed tax relief of up to RM10,000 a year for 3 consecutive years from the first year the interest is paid.

Residential property means a house, condominium unit, apartment or flat which is built as a dwelling house. This kind of tax relief was given by the Government to counter the property market downturn, or to spur the property mart after the 2008 global financial crisis. It has proven to be a success in Malaysia for the past 2 years, where property prices skyrocketed to a not so comfortable level for most of Malaysians. People are crying foul on the high price to own a house nowadays.

What is the Terms and Conditions?
To qualify for the tax relief, the following conditions must be met:
  • the taxpayer is a Malaysian citizen and a resident;
  • limited to one residential unit;
  • the sale and purchase agreement is signed between 10th March 2009 and 31st December 2010;
  • the individual has not derived any income in respect of that residential property
How about Joint-Ownership property?
Yes. You still will entitled for the interest expended tax relief where:
  • 2 or more individuals are eligible to claim relief for the same property; and
  • where the total interest expended by those individuals exceeds the allowable amount for that year, each individual is allowed an amount of relief for each year based on the following formula:
In other words, the total interest expended would be RM10,000 per house, and it can be proportionate in accordance to the number of individuals. Example, Alex and Esther purchased a house, and the finance interest incurred for that year of assessment amounts to RM30,000. Alex only pays 30% of the installments while Esther paid the remaining 70%.
So, for that YA, Alex would entitle for RM3,000 interest relief while Esther would get RM7,000. If both of them already married, and if Esther elects for joint assessment, then RM10,000 would be given to Alex.

Source: Inland Revenue Board website

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

New Fund: OSK Indonesia Equity Growth Fund

To join in the Indonesia Theme bandwagon, OSK launched its own version of Indonesian Equity Growth Fund, which aims to achieve medium to long term capital appreciation through investments in securities of companies with high growth potential that are listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange and/or companies listed on other exchanges whose business are substantially in Indonesia.

This fund is suitable for investors who:
  • wish to participate in the potential and investment opportunities of the Indonesian economy
  • are willing to accept higher risk in their investments in order to achieve potentially higher returns in the medium to long term
  • seek capital appreciation rather than income
8 Answers to "WHY invest in Indonesia?"
  1. Impressive equity market performance
    • Jakarta Composite Index gained 46% in 2010
    • The 7th year in which Indonesia has outperformed Asia ex-Japan over the past 9 years (Source: CLSA Research January 2011)
  2. Strong economic growth
    • Expected growth of 5.7% to 6% in year 2011
    • Growth is driven by domestic consumption, currently stands at about 65% of Indonesia GDP
  3. Favorable demographics
    • 4th largest population in the world
    • Middle and upper-middle class households is expected to increase from 29% currently to 41% by 2012
  4. Resources rich
    • World's biggest CPO producer
    • World's biggest Thermal Coal exporter
    • World's biggest Tin exporter
  5. Government projects and infrastructure development
    • 2011 budget is pro spending, especially in infrastructure development
    • Development expenditure expected to increase 29% in 2011
  6. Equity market remains attractive
    • Currently trading on 13x PE with 22% earnings growth and 25% ROE
    • Indonesia has the 2nd lowest Equity Market Cap / Nominal GDP ratio in the region
  7. Outlook on Rupiah to strengthen
    • Lagged regional currencies in the past 10 years
    • Improving outlook for Rupiah makes Indonesia attractive to foreign investors
Investment Approach
  1. Combination of "top-down" and "bottom-up" approach
    • An investment strategy that is not mutually exclusive but closely inter-twined between asset allocation and stock specific selection
  2. Value driven approach
    • Stocks are then selected for their value
  3. Emphasis on growth
    • Stocks are further selected for their growth potential
Investment Approach
Portfolio Strategy
OSK sees several investment opportunities including
  1. Banks
    • Strong loan growth (+25%) driving revenues
    • Low penetration of key financial services and credit
  2. Infrastructure
    • Total investment needed for infrastructure projects 2010 - 2014 will reach USD34.14 billion
  3. Commodities
    • Medium term outlook for thermal coal positive due to increasing demand from China, India and Indonesia
  4. Consumption
    • Low consumption in categories such as cars, motorcycles, cellular phones and cement

Source: OSK-UOB unit trust management berhad

Click here to read the prospectus

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Personal Income Tax: Child Relief

When we are having children, it's a gift from God. And, Malaysia is a blessed place to live, a place where no earthquake and volcano. Although we once hit by tsunami, but it brings minimal effect to us. Thank God.

In line with the effort to increase Malaysian workforce, in achieving self-sustainable economy with strong domestic consumption, Government has laid out several tax relief especially meant for child. Dubbed as one of the "major investment" of family, a child could easily cost a family few hundred thousands (if not millions). Let's take a look at some of the tax advantages of having a child.

Child Tax Relief
Married couple can claim child relief of maintaining any child. The children can be their own child, step child, or legally adopted child. Then, there are subdivided into 4 different categories.

Source: IRB, Finance Malaysia Blog

Generally, parents can claim tax relief of RM1,000 per unmarried child per year, until he or she turns 18. An unmarried child who is over 18 and continuing full-time education at a secondary school, he or she entitles the parent to a RM1,000 tax relief.
Meanwhile, parent may claim a tax relief of RM4,000 once the child is 18 and above, and pursuing full-time tertiary education (diplomas and above qualifications) locally or overseas. The said tertiary education must be a program and in Higher Education Institute that is accredited by related Government authorities.

For those unfortunate Disabled child, the tax relief is RM5,000 per year as long as he/she is unmarried. Other than that, an additional relief of RM4,000 will be granted if the disabled child pursues a full-time tertiary education just as an ordinary child mentioned earlier.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Is there a limit to the number of child entitled for child relief?
    • There is NO limit to the number of child, but please take note that relief will only be given to unmarried child.
  2. Can husband and wife claim for the same child relief?
    • NO. Instead, the child relief should be claimed by either spouse who has the highest taxable income in order to minimize the tax payable. It should never be divided between husband or wife.
Source: IRB

Related Post:
Personal Income Tax 2010

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Personal Income Tax 2010

It's the month of April again, and it's time for us to file our personal income tax. Usually, people would wait until the last minute to do perform their once-in-a-year task (I myself is one of them). To encourage taxpayer to do e-filling earlier, Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRB) said that those early birds can get their tax return money in 3 days. I don't know whether this is can be true, but I would like to give a try this year.

For you, readers, Finance Malaysia will write more about topics related to Personal Income Tax this month. Welcome to the "Month of Tax", and we hope that the info posted here could help you to file your income tax confidently, error-free, and wiser.

Generally, any amount paid by the employer to the employee in relation to having or exercising an employment will be taxed. This refers to employment income such as salary, bonus, gratuity, commission, allowance, director fees and many other forms of remunerations. In contrast, the phrase "income exemption" refers to employment income that is excluded from taxability.

What is Tax Relief?
The Income Tax Act provides a list of items which is deductible from any income earned by a resident individual in order to relief him/her from tax burden. That's why it called Tax Relief. These expenses are essential to provide welfare to an individual, and Malaysian government use Tax Relief as an incentive for Malaysians to make decision. Example, government think that insurance is crucial for social welfare, and would gave tax relief on insurance premium paid by citizen. By doing this, government actually encourage Malaysians to buy insurance.
Source: IRB, Finance Malaysia Blog
* Blue color: Tax relief that we can adjust easily in our daily life
* Green color: Tax relief specially for property (to be explained in detail later)
* Light Red color: Tax relief related to child
* Yellow color: Tax relief related to insurance premium

Related Links

Friday, 1 April 2011

OSK Stock Picks for April 2011

After being hit by a few Black Swan events, markets rebounded in March with the KLCI ending 1Q in the black. Moving into 2Q, we still see some short term volatility but are confident of an eventual rally to close in on our year-end KLCI target of 1680 points. We advise investors BUY Big Caps on potential rebounds while focusing on the more defensive Small Caps given their superior performance over the past few months. The favorite sectors remain Banks, O&G, Property and Construction in the mid-to-short term while the longer term buys are Media and Healthcare. This strategy is reflected in our April top buys as well.

Timber the BIG winner...
For March, timber stocks were actually the big winners, including names such as Suber Tiasa, Jaya Tiasa, TaAnn, WTK and Lingui, on hopes for better timber demand in view of reconstruction efforts in Japan. Nonetheless, these counters are not part of the FBM100. Instead, among the FBM100 constituents, media player Media Chinese and Petronas companies Petronas Dagangan and Chemicals were the big winners. Sectoral wise, O&G led the way followed by Technology (JCY), Media (MCIL), and Gaming (Genting).

Outlook: Moving into 2Q
Moving into 2Q, we see the possibility of some short-term volatility for the remainder of 2011 but market fundamentals remain sound. We maintain our year-end KLCI target of 1680 points based on an average of the 2011 KLCI fair value (1648 points 16x PER) and 2012 KLCI fair value (1710 points 15x PER). With this in mind, we maintain Overweight on the Malaysian market. Our view is driven by 4 key factors:
  • The economy will continue to grow
  • Upside and Downside are fairly equal
  • News flow ahead of the General Election remains very supportive
  • Earnings should match expectations

For April - A month of 2 Halves
We believe that there may well be 2 distinct halves in the month of April. The first half should be positive for the market, with the one of the key factors being the Invest Malaysia conference which will be held on 12 April. Among the announcements could be:
  • The disposal of Khazanah's stake in Pos Malaysia
  • The next Risk Service Contract for marginal oil fields
  • Release of Government lands for property development
However, for the second half of the month, we are concerned of greater market volatility, due to potentially less positive outcome of the Sarawak elections. Since BN already holding more than 80% of the state seats, we believe the risk is that their performance may drop in this upcoming election. Consequently, this may spark some knee jerk selling until the 1Q2011 reporting season.

Source: OSK Reseach Report