Interview with Dixon Chew, President, Hong Kong-Malaysia Business Association
1. Could you provide an overview of Malaysia’s reliance on trade and its overall domestic market structure?
Malaysia is highly reliant on trade. The new economic direction which focuses on free market and investor-friendly policies will have a significant impact on overall business confidence and investment flows. Growth of the Malaysian economy in 2020 is expected to be influenced by various internal and external factors such as trajectories of global trade, threat of protectionism, global financial stability, geopolitical risks, commodity prices, stable labour market as well as improved business and consumer sentiments.
Over the years, Malaysia’s economy has transformed from an agriculture-base to an industrial-and-services based economy. Export activities have enhanced value-added benefits from commodities to manufacturing, particularly Electrical & Electronics products. Currently, more than 50% are contributed by Services, close to 37% from Industry sector and balance contributed by Primary sector.
2. What do you see as the most exciting trends for Hong Kong and Malaysia in terms of trade?
Despite uncertainties in the global environment, Malaysia exports rose by 6.8% to reach a value of RM998.28 billion, surpassing the forecast export growth of 4.4% in the Ministry of Finance’s Economic Outlook 2019. Imports increased by 4.9% to RM877.76 billion.
The significant increase in total trade was contributed by significantly higher trade with Malaysia’s major trading partners including Hong Kong, which expanded by 45.2% worth RM89.64 billion.
We are expecting a growth in Hong Kong and Malaysia business collaborations using Hong Kong Trade Development Council as a platform for business networking.
3. What are some of the recent developments in terms of projects, cooperation or infrastructure that you can highlight?
There has always been active discussions between Hong Kong and Malaysia all this time. To capitalise on the business opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative in Malaysia, a business and professional delegation to Kuala Lumpur, was led by Mr Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development in November last year. The delegation comprises of Hong Kong business leaders, top-notch entrepreneurs and professionals from various sectors including accounting, cultural and creative, energy, finance, infrastructure and real estate development, insurance, legal and dispute resolution, manufacturing, technology and telecommunications, transport and logistics, as well as innovative start-ups.
It goes to show that Hong Kong stands ready to partner Malaysia to support new projects and investments, especially in infrastructure projects in the region or other countries. Being in the stage of nation-building still, I reckon Malaysia would need services expertise and new solutions to help propel the economy further. I understand that discussions are ongoing between the Hong Kong delegates and Malaysian parties.
4. How has COVID-19 changed things in the short run for business and trade? What do you think are the long-term implications?
Impact of Covid-19 to the world economy is devastating, and the Malaysian economy is expected to see a contraction -2.0% at its worst and growth of 0.5% at its best in 2020, compared to 4.3% in 2019.
Our Central Bank, namely Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in its 2019 Economic Monetary Review recently said the domestic economy will be impacted by the necessary global and domestic actions taken to contain the outbreak. Disruptions in the global supply chain will affect the manufacturing sector and exports. Further extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) will reduce economic activity following the suspension of operations by non-essential service providers and lower operating capacity of manufacturing firms.
In the long run, business will not be as usual any longer. The way of conducting business will be different and risk mitigation plan shall be seriously put into action and businesses will not be solely focusing on maximising profit or purely for efficiency anymore.
We are bracing for some tough times ahead, but we are optimistic with the strategies we have in place, we will do our best to rise above the storm.
5. Could you share one recent success story of a Hong Kong company making waves in Malaysia and vice versa?
One success story of a HK company making waves in Malaysia would be MapKing International Ltd, which specialises in smart city solutions with focus in geo-spatial technologies, fleet management, transportation, connected vehicles, intelligent hotel and real estate sectors. MapKing is providing live traffic information services to Tencent for Hong Kong and Macau starting from 2020. Based on the partnership between Tencent and MapKing, it will be integrated with Tencent’s Connected Car Services which is built on advanced technology. At completion, the system will be leading in technology in Asia Pacific that provides real time traffic information services to drivers in the region.
For Malaysia, MapKing is working on Live Traffic Predictive AI project, at R&D stage still. Meanwhile, they have partnered with PICKnGO – a taxi-oriented ride-hailing service launched in 2017 that allows users to book rides as well as order pick-up and delivery services of groceries and essential items from designated locations, a timely move during the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented by the Malaysian Government to curb Covid-19 spread since 18 Mar 2020.
MapKing has also signed a tourist call car service so allow international visitors coming into Malaysia to book passenger courier via their platform. This useful service will come in handy when the travel restrictions ease.
BookDoc, with a presence in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand, is an online platform connecting patients to healthcare professionals, while incentivising all to stay active. It has established an integrated online ecosystem which comprises five (5) comprehensive platforms i.e.
(1) Search & Book (allows users to search and book healthcare professionals and integrates seamlessly with navigation (Google Map, Waze), transport (Grab, Uber, Malindo Air), accommodation (Agoda, Airbnb) and recommended restaurants & attractions (TripAdvisor) for a hassle-free experience to healthcare appointments;
(2) Activ (users earn rewards and discounts from over 100 major retail partners and service providers in 12 countries. The rewards are redeemable across over 4,200 offline and online locations);
(3) Marketplace (e-Commerce platform with over 5,000 products/services);
(4) Tele-Consult (brings healthcare to users fingertips with specialists covering child, skin, mental, women and sexual health);
(5) Events & News (users accessible to latest medical & health information made available by Monthly Index of Medical Specialties (MIMS) and healthcare experts, also events (health conferences, marathons, blood donation drive etc.) with auto-reminder and other features.
The company is backed by a diverse group of investors from entrepreneurs to seasoned healthcare and insurance professionals, bankers, regulators as well as ICT professionals. It has made records in achieving the highest pre-seed and seed valuation in Asia Technology Start-up history.
BookDoc is a multi-award winning company that has won awards from CNBC as one of the World's Top 100 Startup Companies; ASEAN Summit (Business Awards 2019) as the most innovative startup in the region and also by Frost & Sullivan (2015-2019) as one of the most innovative healthcare technology startups in the region.