Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia represented the regional ASEAN-BAC as a panel speaker at the “3rd ASEAN-ICRC Joint Platform on Adaptation to the Evolving ‘Riskscape’ in ASEAN and Beyond” held on 23 June 2021, moderated by Mr. Juan Luis Coderque Galligo, Head of the Financing Models of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).Tan Sri Munir asserted the need to “decolonize” humanitarian assistance, increase transparency around overhead costs, move away from the notion of the “white man’s burden”, and open up the humanitarian landscape to more international involvement. All this, he said, would help to draw in participation from other countries such as China.He also touched on how underlying assets of financial products could be expanded — such as by gearing up unutilised Waqf land the world over and introducing Islamic bonds — and stressed that Islamic finance was about products and not religion.
On private equity, he said fund managers do not look at outright donations but at medium and long-term capacity building which could be structured through loans from international institutions beyond just conventional institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Tan Sri Munir concluded by emphasising the following three recommendations:
- Expand the ecosystem in humanitarian financing;
- Focus on long-term prevention rather than short-term relief; and
- Focus on the transition from “relief” to “recovery”.
Organiser: ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC)
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia led Malaysia’s private sector in calling for the government to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) by end-2021. The event, which was held on 22 June 2021, was attended by over 300 attendees from the private sector, business associations, and government officials.
During his special address, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (DTCA) Secretary General YBhg. Datuk Seri Hasnol Zam Zam Ahmad stressed that “the government is committed to ensuring that the post-pandemic economic recovery process is implemented in a structured and timely manner, and that free trade agreements such as the RCEP will certainly help in the recovery of domestic businesses.”
The webinar concluded with ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid’s presentation of a Memorandum of Support signed by a large group of business associations to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) urging the government to expedite the ratification of both trade agreements.
The three-hour webinar — moderated by ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Members Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon and Mr Raja Singham, and hosted by ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Supervisor Ms Jukhee Hong — was a discussion with industry leaders on risks and opportunities associated with the RCEP and CPTPP, with calls for the government to expedite the ratification of these trade deals.
The ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Members participated in the 89th ASEAN-BAC Meeting and AGM, chaired by the Hon. Siti Rozaimeriyanty Abd Rahman, Chair of ASEAN-BAC 2021.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid provided updates on the chapter’s ASEAN Financial Inclusion Solutions (AFIS) legacy project which is currently working on engaging two businesses to provide low-cost, premium care insurance coverage by the end of 2021. CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy which is curating involvement in AFIS is also in discussion with a trade finance platform provider.
CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong, for her part, presented “21 Actions for a Greener ASEAN” — a summary of findings from CARI’s Greening ASEAN policy briefs on recommendations for climate-aligned policy measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included recommendations covering stimulus spending, overseas investment, taxation, the future of work, social justice, and equality as presented during the Greening ASEAN Webinar on 24 May 2021 which was supported by ASEAN-BAC and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr Raja Singham also presented updates on ASEAN-BAC Legacy Projects (ALP) including Project DEEP, an initiative by the BAC Education Group which has so far seen 164 registrants from the ASEAN Member States signing up for the programme.
Meanwhile, ASEAN-BAC Healthcare Working Group (HWG) Chair Dr Khor Swee Kheng shared updates on the working group’s roadmap as discussed in the previous ASEAN-BAC HWG Meeting.
The second ASEAN-BAC Healthcare Working Group (HWG) Meeting 2021 (chaired by Dr. Khor Swee Kheng) was attended by members from ASEAN-BAC and Joint Business Councils (JBCs). The meeting’s discussion revolves around a roadmap for the HWG in 2021 and activities leading up to the ASEAN Summit in October 2021.
Discussion points included the feasibility of a regional travel bubble utilising technology, vaccine certificates, and antibody passports. The group agreed that platforms used to these ends should be interoperable and tied to existing public health measures such as contact tracing and appropriate movement tracking.
Dr. Khor emphasised that while a vaccine passport was necessary in facilitating a cross-border travel bubble, it would not be sufficient as national authorities may also want to see some kind of antibody passport.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid was a panel speaker alongside Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Deputy Secretary General Dato’ Sri Norazman Ayob at the recent MIA Conference 2021. The panel was moderated by ISIS Malaysia Economics, Trade and Regional Integration (ETRI) Fellow Dr Juita Mohamad.
Tan Sri Munir touched on three factors affecting Malaysia’s ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), namely:
- The ongoing suspension of parliament, affecting discussions about changes that need to be made to the Patent Act;
- Political instability affecting national unity, and the ability to promote and expand our national interests; and
- Lack of transparency on the cost-benefit analysis of RCEP.
He also stressed the need for MSMEs to learn to adapt to new realities in the post-pandemic era, such as through the adoption of digital technologies and the ability to connect with the global market.
Tan Sri Munir also expressed his support for the government’s effort in attracting foreign investment to Malaysia, but said that more should be done to attract green technology and sustainable development projects to supplement the RCEP’s benefits.
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia held its second council meeting on 8 June 2021, chaired by Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid. Fellow Council Members Tan Sri Yong Poh Koon, Mr Raja Singham, as well as the 2021 chair of the Healthcare Working Group (HWG)and Dr Khor Swee Kheng were also in attendance. Also present were council supervisor Ms Jukhee Hong and the council’s secretariat.
On the agenda were the council’s activities in the second half of 2021, the ASEAN Financial Inclusion Solutions (AFIS) project to provide financial services to underserved communities and MSMEs, as well as the Project DEEP (Digital Economy Employability Program) headed by Mr Raja Singham to provide free digitalisation and business management training modules to ASEAN countries.
Pro-Tem Chair 2021
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) chaired the 2nd ASEAN Manufacturing Network (AMN) Meeting held on 1 June 2021. The discussion centred on the formulation of a plan to stabilise the supply of essential goods for the food and medical industries amid the pandemic, as well as the proposed creation of three working groups i.e. the ASEAN Smart Manufacturing and IR4.0, ASEAN Future Skills, and Intra-ASEAN Investment working groups.
ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid suggested looking into recommendations provided in the Pathway 225 report–particularly those relevant to the ASEAN Future Workforce Council (AFWC) and MSMEs– and said that ASEAN-BAC is working on turning the report’s recommendations into actionable plans.
He also informed the meeting of the reactivation of the ASEAN-BAC Healthcare Working Group (HWG) to explore prioritising pooled vaccine procurement, mass testing and antibody passports, as well as mass contact tracing.
Tan Sri Munir also highlighted fellow ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member and BAC Education Group Managing Director Mr Raja Singham’s work in providing Malaysians with complementary digitalisation and business management upskilling programmes.