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News 29011 to News 29020 of about 29523 news within page 2902
29011. 21/11/2001
   
18 November 2001 (Business Times) - IN a move intended to reducedependence on foreign labour and increase employment opportunities forlocals, the Government has shortened the validity period of work permitsto three years.It also announced that foreign workers who have been here for three yearsor more are to be sent home. To avoid causing a disruption in production,employers are given a grace period of three months to make the necessarypreparations to send them home.Some employers, though, say the policy change will seriously affect theirhuman resource planning."It is difficult to plan human resource needs when the policy on foreignlabour keeps changing," says Malaysian Employers Federation executivedirector Shamsuddin Bardan.Only 10 to 15 per cent of the workforce of the manufacturing sectorconsists of foreigners, so it is not as badly affected as some othersectors. Nonetheless, there will be problems for many companies, saysFederation of Malaysian Manufacturers vice-president Datuk Paul Low."Normally, foreign workers are employed at the same time. If all have togo home at the same time, there will be interruption in production. Weshould stick to six or seven years. When work permits are coming up forrenewal, the Government should look at it caseby-case on the basis ofneed." Employers also say it is not cost effective to send foreign workershome after just three years because of the heavy expenses in therecruitment process. They feel they should be given the option to keepforeign workers who have a proven capacity for work beyond the threeyearlimit."A lot of cost is involved in medical examinations, transportation andlevies. It is better to send home those that are not so good and retainthe good ones. After three years, we know the good ones," says Shamsuddin.Malaysian Palm Oil Association chief executive M.R. Chandran says oil palmplantation owners need a longer period to spread out the costs as theyhave to fork out at least RM1,400 for the recruitment of each foreignworker.The recruitment process also takes three to four months while on-the-jobtraining is another seven to eight months. So, foreign workers only beginto contribute to the company in their eighth or ninth month of employment.He says the palm oil industry will have to send 28,300 foreign workershome by the end of next year and sustain a total loss of RM1.05 billion.The MPOA, which represents 96 palm oil companies, is appealing to theGovernment for a year's grace before the new policy is enforced.Housing Developers' Association Malaysia president Datuk Eddy Chen LokLoi, meanwhile, says the industry will become very shorthanded whenforeign workers are sent back as locals are not entering the industry.Foreign workers make up more than 70 per cent of the country's 500,000on-site construction workforce.Chen is also concerned about deterioration in the already poor quality ofworkmanship because foreign workers who have had three years' experiencewill be replaced by those without experience."We are essentially getting farmers to do bricklaying, carpentry, wiringand even plumbing. Quality of workmanship cannot be improved if we replaceexperienced workers with farmers." He says the Government should considerSingapore's example and set up training institutes so that foreign workerscan learn construction techniques in their home country before they areallowed to enter the country."It is cheaper to set up training institutes over there to train them thanto have them learn from scratch on the job when they get here. Now, anyonecan come over. Only people with training or experience should be allowedin." He also feels the Government should be strict about repatriatingforeign workers who are not needed because they are taking jobs away fromMalaysians."Foreign workers are taking over work from locals. They are even goinginto sub-contracting work, where there is a lot of money to be made.That's why they can build big houses and take over Malay reserve land,"Chen adds.Employers also contend that the policy will not benefit unemployed localsas they are generally not interested in the jobs currently held byforeigners. Most of the 700,000 foreign workers perform low-end jobs inthe agricultural, construction, service, furniture, manufacturing and foodsectors."Let's be realistic. Malaysians prefer easier jobs. Foreign workers aremainly in the lower end, heavier kind of jobs. In the plantation industry,for instance, very few locals want to work in the industry," saysShamsuddin.Unionists, however, contend that locals shun employment opportunities incertain sectors because wages are deliberately kept low. They also notethat working conditions in these sectors are very poor."Some companies are deliberately keeping salaries low to encourage a highturnover of locals and convince the authorities to allow foreign workers."Half the workforce of a metal fabricating firm in Bangi is foreign.Locals usually leave after one or two weeks because the starting salary isonly RM400."On the other hand, two neighbouring companies in the same business do nothave any foreign workers. They have no problems getting locals becausethey pay better," says Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-generalG. Rajasekaran.National Union of Plantation Workers national executive secretary A.Navamukundan says employers have to face the realities of the job marketand offer competitive terms if they want to recruit locals.He says plantation owners, in particular, cannot run away from the factthat a stable workforce is vital because the work, especially harvesting,is recurrent. Foreigners and contract workers, he notes, are not going tohelp bring the stability that the industry requires.In the peninsula, foreign workers make up some 45 per cent of theplantation workforce. In Sabah and Sarawak, it is as high as 90 per cent."For too long, the industry has been living by the philosophy ofexploitation of labour for profit. This mindset has got to go. You arelosing your labour to other sectors of the economy," says Navamukundan.He says the Government has a big role to play in improving the welfare ofplantation workers as it is an important sector of the economy and a majornet foreign exchange earner."The industry is an important taxpayer. A little bit of the tax ploughedback into the industry will go a long way towards arresting this rapidout-migration of plantation workers. The Government has held discussionswith NUPW and Mapa but the resources allocated to address the problems andthe political will to deliver it within a specific time frame is somewhatdisappointing."While there have been statements about programmes to improve the qualityof life of plantation workers, especially with regard to home ownership,schools, childcare centres, pre-school education, healthcare services andpublic utilities, very little is actually being done about it," addsNavamukundan.While unionists welcome steps to make available more job opportunities forlocals during the economic downturn, they do not think the move to shortenthe tenure of foreign workers will be of much of help.This is because the Government has also announced that employers whocannot find local replacements can recruit foreign workers from Cambodia,Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand, on a one-toone ratio based on thenumber of workers who are sent back after Jan 1, 2000.A total of 635,251 work permits were issued to foreign workers, includinghousemaids, last year. Of these, 212,763 were fresh applicants. Up to Sept30 this year, another 513,823 were issued. A total of 183,968 were to newapplicants."If you continue issuing fresh working permits for an equal number ofworkers that you are sending back, there is no difference," saysNavamukundan.Non-Metallic Mineral Products Manufacturing Employees' Union presidentAbdullah Abu Bakar says the Human Resources Ministry should take over thefunction of issuing work permits from the Immigration Department.He says the ministry should monitor the situation closely and ensure thatonly employers who have really tried to recruit locals but failed areallowed to hire foreigners.Abdullah says the Industrial Relations Department should also be given thepower to stop companies from retrenching permanent employees while keepingforeign and contract workers.He adds that the Human Resources Ministry must ensure that foreign andcontract workers are terminated before permanent staff can be retrenched.Unionists and employers also feel that the move to shorten the validity ofworking permits is unfair to foreign workers who are already here.They say foreign workers only start making money after working forone-and-a-half years because it takes them that long to recoup the moneythat they had spent to come to Malaysia."The reason they come here is to make money. They sell their land andborrow from relatives to raise money to pay recruitment agents. They maynot find Malaysia a good place to work if they are sent back after threeyears," adds Shamsuddin.Rajasekaran says: "We are against the presence of foreign workers, butonce you have brought them here, you have to be fair to them and theemployers." The Government has been saying for some time now thatlabour-intensive industries should turn to modern technology to reducetheir dependence on foreign labour. Employers, however, emphasise thatsuch a massive and expensive undertaking cannot be done overnight.Low says FMM member companies have been trying to reduce their dependenceon foreign labour over the past five years. Some have been trying tomechanise their production processes while others have shiftedlabour-intensive operations out of the country. Still others have closedthem down completely.Employers also note that workers have to be retrained to handle newtechnologies and that too is an expensive proposition. And, they simplycannot afford to do so during the current economic slowdown.
29012. 20/11/2001
   
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Tight global soyoil supplies and fallingdomestic edible oil stocks will encourage Indian buyers to increase palmoil imports for the rest of 2001 despite higher taxes, traders said.
29013. 20/11/2001
   
Monday, November 19, 2001 (The Star)CRUDE palm oil futures prices on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange (MDEX)made fresh rally-highs in early trading and reversed direction during theshortened four-day trading week and returned a good portion of their rallygains to close Friday in the negative territory. Strong long liquidationand profit-taking towards late week drove the January contract below theRM1,100 per tonne level.The January futures slipped from a week’s high of RM1,170 to RM1,081 andclosed Friday lower at RM1,085, off RM35 per tonne from a week ago.Based on chart, the January futures ended the week negative and had givenindication that a downward technical correction has started. Violation ofthe uptrend support-line at the RM1,125-RM1,130 levels during Friday’sclose has turned the immediate-term chart picture bearish. Continuation ofthe downward momentum this week should send the market lower for a test ofits immediate chart support at the RM1,070-RM1,065 levels. A successfulbreak below this important chart support would likely pressure the marketlower for a test of its minor chart support at the RM1,040-RM1050 levels.Chart resistance for this week is pegged at the RM1,100-RM1,110 levels.The 12-day exponentially smoothed moving-average price line (ESA) endedthe week negative and closed higher at RM1,082. Based on the ESA-line, theimmediate market has an immediate cycle-support at the RM1,082 level.Breaking of this cycle-support would confirm that a negative cycle hasstarted.Technically the daily stochastics ended the week bearish and indicatedthat a downward correction has begun. The oscillator per cent K closedbelow the oscillator per cent D and finished the week sharply lower at38.46% and 65.40% respectively.The daily Momentum Index turned bearish during Friday’s close andsignalled that a trend-reversal has started. The MI settled the weeksharply lower at 110.00 points.The Moving-Average Convergence/Divergence (MACD) triggered the sell signalon Friday and called for more downside trading this week. The MACD endedbelow the trigger-line and finished the week higher in the positiveterritory at 43.34 and 44.16 points respectively.
29014. 20/11/2001
   
20 November 2001 (Business Times) - THE proposed acquisition of UnileverPlc NV’s palm oil refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands, by Golden HopePlantations Bhd may not be as straight-forward a deal as hoped, sourcessay.This is because Unilever has received several new bids for the plant frommultinational companies, among them Swiss-based food giant Nestle SA andmultinational commodity trader Cargill.“With the latest development, negotiations may take a little longer thanexpected,” a source told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.It has been reported that Golden Hope was expected to conclude anagreement this week to buy the plant from the British-Dutch food andconsumer products giant.The refinery, Unimills, employs 210 workers and is located at Zwijndrechtin the vicinity of the world’s fourth biggest port, Rotterdam.Its price tag is not immediately known but industry observers said asimilar refinery in Malaysia would cost between RM200 million and RM300million to develop, and an oleochemical facility RM400 million to RM500million.“Golden Hope looks to be still having the upper hand in the negotiationsthough... being a palm oil producer. Unilever is stressing the long-termviability of the refinery,” the source said.“Unilever would prefer to sell to a raw producer of palm oil to ensurethat the plant can continue to operate even when times are bad.”As such, the sale price is not quite an issue with Unilever.“In addition, Golden Hope and Unilever have long had a close workingrelationship, including in marketing and brand promotion of Unilever’s 400or so palm oil and palm kernel-based household products,” he said.Unilever itself has palm oil operations in Malaysia, undertaken throughPamol Plantations Sdn Bhd which has a total of 24,291ha under oil palmcultivation in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.It is understood that Golden Hope group chief executive officer, DatukAbdul Wahab Maskan, and the company’s top executives returned to theNetherlands yesterday to resume talks, after only coming back to Malaysiaon Sunday.Meanwhile, Unilever press officer Richard Van Der Eijk said in an e-mailto Business Times that the refinery is being hived off because therefinery has built up a substantial enough business with third parties tomake it a stand-alone operation.“The disposal is also in line with Unilever’s overall growth strategy andfurther development of its 400 leading brands,” he said.Van der Eijk refused to give an indication of the price being negotiatedbut said the refinery has capacity to process about 450,000 tonnes of palmkernel, coconut, soyabean, rapeseed and sunflower oil.He also dismissed suggestions that Unilever is selling the refinerybecause the group is in the red.“We have sales of up to 130 million euros (1 euro = RM3.41) from ourproducts sold in the central and northwesten parts of Europe alone,” hesaid.An analyst said while Golden Hope’s proposed investment may not showimmediate returns, it represents a good long-term venture, which Malaysiancompanies need to pursue to further promote the country’s palm oil sector.“If Malaysia is to make its mark overseas as a palm oil producer, localcompanies must make such investments,” he said.In any case, such projects are not new to Malaysia. Golden Hope is also inthe midst of setting up palm oil operations in Vietnam and China.And United Plantations Bhd has palm oil operations in Mexico, the US andBritain, while Sime Darby Bhd owns a refinery in Egypt and the Kwok Grouphas one in China, the analyst said.Nestle is the world’s biggest food group. It employs 224,541 workers andoperates 479 factories worldwide. Sales totalled 81.4 billion Swiss francs(1 Sfr = RM2.32) last year.In Malaysia, Nestle Malaysia Bhd distributes 640 brands of food products.In terms of turnover and profitability, it is the fourth largest Nestlesubsidiary in Asia Pacific, after Japan, Australia and the Philippines.Cargill is an international trader, processor and distributor ofagricultural, food, financial and industrial products and services.It has operations in 57 countries and a 90,000-strong workforce.
29015. 16/11/2001
   
15 November 2001 (Business Times) - A DEEPAVALI gift to local commodityproducers and smallholders! Malaysia is soon meeting other countries whichproduces rubber, palm oil and timber to ensure more stabilised prices ofthese commodities in the international market.
29016. 16/11/2001
   
12 November 2001 (Berita Harian)
29017. 16/11/2001
   
16 November 2001 (Business Times) - MALAYSIA’S crude palm oil (CPO) marketlooks set to continue its bullish streak or a mini bull run in the nearterm due to tight edible oils supplies globally.Tradewinds Plantation Services Sdn Bhd executive director Rashidi Omarsaid unless a major crisis hits the sector, such as overproduction, hesees no reason why palm oil prices cannot continue with their currentmomentum.“It does look to me that the worst seems to be over for the sector and itis set for a brighter future in response to a host of marketfriendly-factors,” he told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.The commodity was trading in February at RM693 a tonne on the spot market,its lowest level in more than a decade and a sharp reversal from the peakof RM2,505.71 a tonne in May 1998.CPO prices hovered between RM700 and RM800 a tonne, averaging RM743 inMay, RM795.50 in June and RM893 in July before shooting limit-up acrossthe board and breaching the RM1,000 a tonne mark at the MalaysiaDerivatives Exchange on July 12, a level not seen in 13 months.Since then prices have steadily climbed and surged 150 per cent from RM693a tonne in February to RM1,125 a tonne for the physical December Southcontract last Tuesday.A few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, prices ofthe commodity briefly plunged to RM850 a tonne but have since steadilyclimbed back to the RM1,000 level.The sector has been hurt for the past two years due to intense competitionfrom the world’s 16 other edible oils such as sunflower and rapeseed andweak demand.The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), the country’s palm oil industryregulator and watchdog, on Monday released its October figures on palm oiloutput, export and national stockpile.Malaysia’s palm oil exports in October rose markedly to 898,918 tonnes, a37.87 per cent increase from 652,020 tonnes in the previous month, furtherlifting sentiment in the market.“For us small players, this is basically good news and coupled with thevarious efforts by the Government to boost the sector such as replanting,we expect prices to average at RM1,200 a tonne next year,” said Rashidiwho oversees some 60,000ha of oil palm, mainly in Sabah and Sarawak.A trader said that with the war being almost over in Afghanistan, shipperscan now put the war-risk premium for insurance cover behind them and lookforward to exporting palm oil to Europe, India and China.“The market is monitoring closely exports for this month which we hopewill touch the 1.1-million-tonne mark by November 30,” he said.According to cargo surveyor Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS),Malaysia’s CPO exports from November 1 to November 15 registered 593,084tonnes, a 33 per cent increase compared with 443,614 during the sameperiod last month.SGS said China consumed the bulk of it with 87,237 tonnes, India 64,500tonnes, Pakistan 58,890 tonnes, and the European Union 146,647 tonnes.MPOB will release official exports, production and national stockpilefigures for November on December 15.“Prices may test the next resistance level at RM1,200, a three-month high,in the near term after breaching the previous mark at RM1,153 when ittraded as high as RM1,170 a tonne at mid-day yesterday,” said the trader.However, another trader disagreed, saying the market may lose steam afterSGS released the figures.The trader said buyers are already selling down on concerns of thecommodity being a bit overpriced, sending the market into a technicalretracement and correction.Meanwhile, at the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, CPO futures closed loweryesterday on profit-taking after Tuesday’s rally, a dealer said.“However, the outlook for CPOprices is still bright in the intermediateterm due to the fasting month (which starts on Saturday).This will helpboost demand from Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Bangla-desh andparts of India,” the dealer said.He added that the current wet spell is expected to depress supply furtherand prevent workers from harvesting, which will buoy prices.Benchmark third-month January contract closed RM46 lower at RM1,105 atonne with November, December, February and March easing RM11, RM36, RM46and RM43 to close at RM1,100, RM1,089, RM1,114 and RM1,116 a tonne,respectively.Total open positions increased 261 contracts to 12,756 contracts whiletotal turnover surged 1,440 lots, or 200 per cent to 2,874 lots.
29018. 16/11/2001
   
Oleh Idris Omar12 November 2001 (Berita Harian)
29019. 16/11/2001
   
Oleh Datuk Dr Yusof Basiron12 November 2001 (Berita Harian)
29020. 16/11/2001
   
15 November 2001 (Business Times) - Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) andIJM Plantations Sdn Bhd (IJMP) today signed a Memorandum of Understandingto explore prospects for joint research and development in the oil palmindustry.
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ECONOMICS & INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DIVISION
Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
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