India Should Accept Disaster Assistance

India Should Accept Disaster Assistance

by Shashi Tharoor

NEW DELHI – India’s southern state of Kerala has been hit by the worst floods in nearly a century. Now that the floodwaters are receding, a peculiar debate has emerged over whether India should accept foreign aid to support reconstruction.

At the peak of the floods, the Indian government allocated money from the National Disaster Response Fund for immediate relief. But it was the public that really stepped up, with an outpouring of contributions to the Kerala government’s disaster relief fund that amounted to more than twice the funds so far provided by the national authorities.

In fact, the total additional assistance the government has provided – $90 million (with promises of an unspecified additional amount) – amounts to less than half of what the state government was requesting for immediate relief. It does not even begin to cover long-term reconstruction costs, estimated at over 50 times that figure.

The floods, which displaced a million people, left Kerala with 39 collapsed bridges, some 6,000 miles of ruined roads, significant agricultural losses, and more than 50,000 homes either damaged or destroyed. Rebuilding all that infrastructure, which took decades to construct the first time around, will be a herculean task.

Despite all of this, India’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have refused to accept outside help. That stance first became apparent as the crisis was unfolding, when the United Arab Emirates – which is home to some two million Keralites – reportedly offered assistance totaling $100 million.

Modi thanked the UAE’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Twitter. Then his government – via BJP spokesmen, rather than government officials – let the media know that it would not be taking the UAE grant.

On August 21, Thailand’s ambassador to India tweeted: “Informally informed with regret that [the] Government of India is not accepting overseas donations for Kerala flood relief.” Offers from Qatar and the Maldives of $5 million and $50,000, respectively, are thus also likely to be rejected. Indian missions abroad have been instructed to turn down offers of assistance.

BJP leaders insisted that this stance is based on the 2004 decision of then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance government not to accept foreign aid following the Indian Ocean tsunami. But the tsunami had done far less damage than the Kerala floods have, and national resources could fully cover the estimated costs of rebuilding.

Moreover, any precedent established by that 2004 decision was superseded by the National Disaster Management Plan, issued by Modi’s own government in 2016. Paragraph 9.2 of the plan states that the government does not issue any appeal for foreign assistance in the wake of a disaster, but can accept such assistance, if another national government offers it voluntarily, “as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims.” This means that it would have been entirely permissible for the government to accept the UAE’s help.

So why did the BJP reject the offer? After announcing the decision to reject the UAE’s offer, the party’s spokesmen lost no time in invoking national pride: India, now a net donor of aid to poor countries, could take care of its own.

If Modi’s government believes that it has adequate funds to meet Kerala’s needs, it owes the state’s people an explanation to as to why such a small amount has been allocated. But there is little reason to expect any such thing of the cash-strapped Modi government. When Cyclone Ockhi struck coastal areas of Kerala last December, the central government provided just 2% of the aid the state government requested.

The rejection of foreign assistance is not even a fundamental BJP policy. After the 2001 Bhuj Earthquake in Gujarat – where Modi himself was Chief Minister – the BJP-led central government accepted international assistance. The total funds raised by United Nations bodies – such as the UN Development Programme, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the International Labour Organization, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – exceeded $42 million. A total of $1.7 billion was then pledged at a reconstruction conference, and Bhuj was rebuilt.

One could ask whether aid from international organizations should be regarded as “foreign” by a UN member in good standing. But even aid from other countries is an entirely normal feature of international relations, especially when major disasters strike and an “all for one, one for all” spirit takes hold.

India has voluntarily provided help when its neighbors have been similarly afflicted, such as after earthquakes in Nepal, Pakistan, and Iran, and floods in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Even the United States accepted foreign aid after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in August 2005, with India providing $5 million. Why shouldn’t others similarly extend a helping hand to Indians in distress?

India is a proud country that prefers to rely on its own resources. But when our resources are nowhere near sufficient to meet the needs of our people – who are suffering in the wake of a devastating disaster – it is both churlish and irresponsible to reject aid from those who can and want to provide it. No policy of national pride can justify callousness towards our own distressed citizens.

By all means, do not go abroad with a begging bowl. But when your friendly neighbor knocks on your door and offers you the cup of sugar you need to finish a recipe, you don’t turn him away. There is no shame in accepting aid from friends whom we would help if the tables were turned. For the sake of the people of Kerala, the BJP government must recognize this and revise its disaster-aid policy.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2018.
www.project-syndicate.org

Malaysia Baru medallion to celebrate a historic day for Malaysia

Malaysia Baru medallion to celebrate a historic day for Malaysia

Royal Selangor has launched a special edition Malaysia Baru medallion in conjunction with Merdeka and Malaysia Day celebrations.

According to Tien Yue Chen, the Executive Director at Royal Selangor, the idea for this medallion came about after witnessing the historic day of GE14. It was such a big change for the country and so many people felt that they were involved in this process of change.

“We felt that we should come up with something to commemorate this event – this Malaysia Baru sense of ‘people power’. Royal Selangor has always been apolitical and we didn’t want to make it about one coalition or one party against another. We thought about it and it is really quite a big occasion, so it would be nice to have something to mark what had happened. So we said, let’s celebrate Malaysian people getting together, being heard and making a change. Let’s make something and now the question was what should we make?”

The design for the medallion was chosen after a few options were proposed by their team of in-house designers. “Some of the staff at Royal Selangor especially the younger ones were not very sure at first what a medallion was,” Chen says. “We’ve never done anything like a medallion in years, so this is quite unique and retro.”

One side of the 2.5″ medallion conveys national pride and unity, with key iconic scenes of Malaysian flags waving in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building and the birth date of Malaysia Baru, while the other side features hands joining forces symbolising the power of the people and democracy. The show of unity is in line with this year’s Merdeka theme, “Sayangi Malaysiaku”.

“The medallion has some sort of weight to it. It feels solid in your hand, and it is something that you can keep and remember what had happened on 9th May 2018,” Chen explained.

This special edition medallion, which retails for RM 125, will be available for a limited time only and 20% of the sales of the medallion will be donated to Tabung Harapan. The Malaysia Baru medallions have been flying off the shelves already and many Royal Selangor stores are out of stock currently.

“So far, the response has been really good with people coming to our stores and spreading the word to their friends. In fact, we have a bit of a supply issue right now because we have trouble shipping out with the great demand. I suggest if people want to get it, to just give us a call, quickly order it and we’ll try to get the piece to them as soon as possible when supplies come in.”

Chen further explained that they were selling until the end of September. The quantities to be made depends on what the demand is going to be. They hope to sell at least 5000 pieces because that will help raise at least RM100,000 for Tabung Harapan.

When asked why Royal Selangor is donating 20% of the sales from the Malaysia Baru medallion to Tabung Harapan, Chen replied, “I think Tabung Harapan is a way for people to feel that they can be part of the whole change. Of course, in terms of amount, it’s a relative thing whether people feel it will be a meaningful amount that’s to be raised by Tabung Harapan. But it gives everyone a chance to be part of the process. Everyone can be involved in this new Malaysia. And that’s why we thought having the medallion proceeds go to Tabung Harapan would be giving people a chance to contribute to this change.”

You can order your medallion at royalselangor.com and at all Royal Selangor retail stores in Malaysia. If you’re overseas and want to get this medallion, we suggest that you order it online. There’s a minimum spend for free delivery, so depending on your location, you can buy 3 or 4 medallions for your family and friends and have it delivered to you for free.

ORDER NOW at royalselangor.com

What’s Next 2018:  The Business Impact  of Disruptive Technology

What’s Next 2018: The Business Impact of Disruptive Technology

What’s Next, Malaysia’s premiere digital meets brick-and-mortar conference, where Tan Sri Tony Fernandez famously declared in 2015 that AirAsia was in fact an Internet company, is back for the fourth year on August 30, 2018 at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur.

In an exciting addition to the lineup of brick and mortar leaders talking about how they are dealing with digital disruption, EY is bringing its world class Digital Roadshow experience to Malaysia and only at What’s Next 2018.

EY experts from around Asia will be showcasing various digital solutions that are today helping brick and mortar businesses take advantage of digital instead of being disrupted by digital.

At the same time come listen to Henry Tan, chief corporate and consumer office of Astro holdings Malaysia Berhad share key lesson has learnt about facing disruption and come listen to the global condom king, MK Goh of Karex Berhad, the world’s largest condom manufacture talk about how his brick and mortar business is facing digital disruption.

Not forgetting Khailee Ng managing partner of 500 Startups who will talk about the coming disruption and opportunities from Deep Tech.

Henry Tan, Group Chief Content & Consumer Officer, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd

MK Goh, Chief Managing Director of Karex Bhd

Khailee Ng, Managing Partner, 500 Startups

And many more exciting speakers. All only at What’s Next 2018.

M’sia still number one destination in RM855b Muslim travel market

M’sia still number one destination in RM855b Muslim travel market

Malaysia has upheld its position as the number one destination in the global Muslim travel market as rivals are looking to close the gap fast, according to the leading annual research on the sector.

The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018, which covers 130 destinations, saw Malaysia retain the premier spot for the eighth consecutive year, while Indonesia built on its year-on-year growth by moving up to joint second with the United Arab Emirates in the overall rankings.

The index also reveals that a number of non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in Asia moved up the rankings – a result of their concerted effort to adapt their services to cater to and attract the Muslim travel market.

Top 10 OIC Destinations

Top 10 Non-OIC Destinations

Singapore retained its pole position for the non-OIC destination markets, ahead of Thailand and the United Kingdom, while Japan and Taiwan surged into the top five for the first time since the GMTI was released.

The GMTI 2018 confirmed the Muslim travel market is on course to continue its fast-paced growth to reach US$220 billion (RM855 billion) in 2020. It is expected to grow a further US$80 billion to hit US$300 billion (RM1.16 trillion) by 2026.

In 2017, there were an estimated 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally – up from 121 million in 2016 – and this is forecasted to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020 representing 10 percent of the travel segment.

“We are now starting to see the impact of investment and commitment by destinations across the world into the Muslim travel market which is reaping rewards including a real shift in the rankings.

“The concerted efforts of destinations such as Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan using data and insights from the previous GMTI reports have to be commended as they are now closing the gap,” said Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip.

“This year we have revamped the Index criteria to better reflect the growth strategies implemented by destinations to welcome the Muslim travellers resulting in positive movement across the Index.

“We have also released the ‘CrescentRating Growth & Innovation Model’ to help destinations practically use this report to strategize growth and innovation for this fast paced travel segment,” added Bahardeen.

Malaysia scored an Index score of 80.6, followed by UAE and Indonesia at 72.8. In comparison, Singapore which was the highest scoring non-OIC destination, scored 66.2.

Taiwan and Japan have continued to improve their overall ranking with the average GMTI scores by region contributing to Asia as the leading region in the world for attracting Muslim visitors followed by Europe.

“It has been a pleasure to work with CrescentRating in providing in-depth insights on the Muslim travel market for related stakeholders in the tourism industry. Many already successful destinations around the world are looking to diversify their visitor base to maintain tourist growth rates in today’s increasingly competitive travel market.

“The fast growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity in plain sight but in order to benefit from it, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travelers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them.

“We believe that the GMTI provides real value to businesses and governments looking to tap into this important and growing market segment and hope that this effort will continue to drive Halal tourism,” said Safdar Khan, Mastercard Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei division president Brunei.

It is estimated the Asean region will welcome over 18 million Muslim visitor arrivals by 2020, representing close to 15 percent of the visitor arrivals to the region.

“Based on the index, Malaysia continues to reinforce its status as the leading halal destination in the world. This is reflective based on numerous initiatives taken by industry players to integrate more Muslim-friendly services and facilities as part of Malaysia’s travel and tourism offerings.

“As the size of the Muslim travel market evolves upward, so does the economic potential. Malaysian businesses will need to better understand and analyse the demand as well as develop new propositions in order to stay ahead of the curve,” Safdar Khan added.

Some of these initiatives include the establishment of the Islamic Tourism Centre to facilitate market intelligence, tourism policy development and capacity-building services and an upcoming framework under the Halal Industry Master Plan 2.0 to address industry developments.

The GMTI is now the premier insights-driven data helping destinations, travel services and investors track the health and growth of this travel segment while benchmarking their individual progress in reaching out to the Muslim traveler.

The GMTI is now the premier insights-driven data helping destinations, travel services and investors track the health and growth of this travel segment while benchmarking their individual progress in reaching out to the Muslim traveler.

All 130 destinations in the GMTI 2018 have been scored against a backdrop of criteria with some new metrics added for this year’s research, including the CrescentRating Growth-Innovation Model.

Key metric criteria included access which includes infrastructure; communications and looking at how destinations market themselves to a target audience; environment and services. Each criterion is then weighted to make up the overall index score.

Invest Selangor Berhad Officially Launches 2nd Selangor International Business Summit

Invest Selangor Berhad Officially Launches 2nd Selangor International Business Summit

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 March 2018 – Invest Selangor Berhad today announced that the Selangor International Business Summit series is back for its second edition this year, following its astounding success in 2017, which saw a total of 22, 000 visitors and generated RM 204.2 million in transaction value. SIBS 2018 is set to run for 10 days, from 6 – 16 September 2018, at Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC).

It will feature three main events as follow:

  • Selangor International Expo 2018: 4th edition | 6 – 9 September 2018
  • Selangor-ASEAN Business Conference 2018: 2nd edition | 6 – 7 September 2018
  • Selangor Smart City & Digital Economy Convention 2018: formerly known as the Smart City International Convention | 13 – 15 September 2018

“We are honoured that SIBS 2018 has received formal endorsement from MATRADE, and that Malaysia Airlines Berhad is onboard as the summit’s official airline partner. Also strongly supporting us this year are 19 partners, to date, from local and international business chambers and councils”

, said Yang Berhormat Dato’ Teng Chang Khim, Senior Executive Councillor of the State Government of Selangor, during the Official Launch of SIBS 2018 today.

“In the wake of the current global economic situation, it is imperative for ASEAN countries to operate as a united community, in support of each other. As the Gateway to ASEAN, Selangor will act as a centre-point that hosts and connects a rich network of trade industry players globally, by leveraging a solid platform like SIBS 2018”, Teng further adds.

“Invest Selangor Berhad is proud to organise an event of such positive magnitude, as part of its efforts to position Selangor as a global trading hub and a significant gateway to ASEAN for domestic and international businesses”

said Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Hasan Azhari Haji Idris, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Selangor Berhad. He further added that SIBS 2018 is set to generate lucrative business opportunities and partnerships, as well as provide exposure of the latest technological developments globally.

The summit series will continue to adopt a highly focused and result oriented setting. One of the summit’s main events – Selangor International Expo 2018 with a focus on food and beverage (F&B), will act as a solid platform to connect industry players through its effective business matching programme and hosted international buyers programme. Subsequently, other events will highlight international market opportunities through ASEAN economic integration, discuss global market developments and trends as well as showcase industry-led digital capabilities in Selangor.

Below is the list of local and international local and international business chambers and councils that have officially come on board as supporting partners of SIBS 2018, as of today:

No. Organisations
1. ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia
2. British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce
3. Dewan Perdagangan Islam Malaysia Selangor
4. Dewan Perniagaan Melayu Malaysia Selangor
5. EU-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce & Industry
6. Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (Selangor Branch)
7. Italy Malaysia Business Association
8. Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry
9. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
10. Malaysia Retail Chain Association
11. Malaysia Specialty Coffee Association
12. Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce
13. Malaysian Danish Business Council
14. Malaysian French Chamber of Commerce & Industry
15. Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry
16. Malaysian Spanish Chamber of Commerce & Industry
17. Malaysian-Finnish Business Council
18. SME Association of Malaysia
19. Tea Trade Association Of Malaysia
20. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor

For enquiries on investment in Selangor, please visit

Break Boundaries & Leap Beyond Malaysia

Break Boundaries & Leap Beyond Malaysia

Internet Alliance Malaysia Internet Business Summit 2017 (IA MIBS 2017) To Discuss Cross-Border E-Commerce With Experienced Industry Players This Coming November

MALAYSIA, NOVEMBER 13, 2017 − Internet Alliance Malaysia Internet Business Summit 2017 (IA MIBS 2017), a momentous grand scale annual Internet business event that provides an effective platform and opportunities for knowledge sharing, and intensive learning and networking among experienced industry players (such as KS Chan, the president of Internet Alliance; Sunny Ooi, Co-founder of ClickAsia; WJ Leow, CEO of Photobook Worldwide, and many more), brand owners, distributors, digital marketers, E-Commerce merchants, online and tech startups, large corporations, SMEs etc will kick-start at MaGIC, Cyberjaya on November 23, 2017, according to an announcement made by the organizer, the Exabytes Group, a leading web hosting provider in Southeast Asia.

The summit is the third in the series targeting over 300 delegates around Malaysia, and numerous business partners who are already in E-Commerce or related to the online business industry. This year, IA MIBS 2017 will focus on cross-border E-Commerce. 

For full agenda details, visit:

Break Boundaries, Leap Beyond Malaysia

With the official slogan “Break Boundaries, Leap Beyond Malaysia”, the summit aims to delve into numerous topics such as the following:

  • Championing Malaysia Digital Economy
  • Data Globalisation of eCommerce
  • The Global eCommerce Trust Mark
  • Things You Should Know About Global and Cross-border eCommerce
  • Break Boundaries, Leap Beyond Malaysia
  • Global Internet Trends: how to formulate your strategy around it
  • The Digital Economy Is Dead Without Cybersecurity

Tickets – Buy One Free One Promotion

Buy one free one ticket promotion is now available for hot zone tickets. For further ticket information, kindly visit

About Internet Alliance

Internet Alliance (IA) or also known as “Persatuan Hubungan Internet Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur”, is a non-profit association set up in 2010 to represent the country’s major pool of Internet service and ‘middleware’ infrastructure providers – ranging web hosting companies, data centres, payment gateway and Cloud providers, web platform enablers, and eCommerce solutions provider.

IA serves as an effective networking platform for its entrepreneur-spirited members to educate and empower each other within a conducive ecosystem in order to share valuable learning and expertise amongst Internet leaders.

There are currently over 50 IA corporate members whose collective customer-base enables and facilitates about 85% of Malaysia’s entire internet scene.

IA aspires to provide a single unified voice to support common interests of Malaysia’s internet business sector by acting as the platform and lead to seek both national and international dialogue on cyber ecommerce and cloud matters regarding internet environment, security, legality and commercialisation.