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Month: January 2022

Malaysian Businesses Pivot Amid Tourism Decline

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At the W Kuala Lumpur hotel, high tea sets are prepared for delivery to customers celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year. Inside are meats such as rolled smoked duck as well as tiger prawn sliders and fresh baked treats including red date cheesecake and chocolate tarts. A five-star hotel known for upscale dining in now also relies on home delivery.

“Delivery was something new and we hadn’t considered it really prior to the pandemic,” said Christian Metzner, general manager of the W Kuala Lumpur, adding that although home delivery currently makes up about 15% of his hotel’s food and beverage sales, it was 100% during periods when dining in was not allowed in Malaysia. “We started working with apps and different [delivery] companies,” he said.

Like hotels around the world, the pandemic led to a deep drop in business for the W Kuala Lumpur. Foreigners no longer flew in for vacations or business trips. So the hotel, part of the Marriott chain, pivoted and increased its marketing towards potential customers who live in Malaysia.

The hotel shut down twice during the past two years, for about three months each time. Its last closure ended in August 2021. Management says while business is still down 25% from pre-pandemic levels, during the past several months the hotel has been operating well above the break-even point, drawing customers to guest rooms and the pool for staycations as well as offering food on popular local delivery platforms. 

“Just to stay in the game we had to actually connect and open our channels, open our minds to other channels to sell our products and sell our experience,” Metzner said, adding that the hotel chain’s health and safety protocols — continuously disinfecting public areas, mobile phone check-ins and other measures — also help.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism accounted for more than 15% of Malaysia’s GDP. Because so much of that business disappeared, Yap Lip Seng, chief executive officer of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, the W Kuala Lumpur’s successful shift to the domestic market a rare achievement.

“You need to set yourself apart from the pack,” Yap said, adding that the majority of the country’s hotels are still not able to turn a profit. “First, your competition is with the stand-alone restaurants outside and second, you have to compete with the same grade of hotels within that area.”

Northern Malaysia boasts the popular vacation destination of Langkawi, an archipelago known for its beaches and sea activities. For 21 years, Oli Khalid and his wife Tanja Bindemann have been running a cafe here called the Red Tomato, which has long been a gathering spot for foreign tourists who come for the fresh baked bread, big salads and warm hospitality.

“They come as strangers, travelers, and they leave as friends. That’s our motto,” said Khalid.

But Khalid and Bindemann haven’t been able to make as many new friends over the past two years. Khalid said there were times when business was down 90%.Although there has been an uptick in Malaysian customers recently, business is still half of what it was compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In November, the Malaysian government started a tourist bubble to try to draw vaccinated foreigners to Langkawi. But Khalid and other managers of local businesses said it hasn’t yet yielded a significant increase in customers.

Khalid said he has seen other local businesses close down and says if the situation doesn’t improve, his cafe might go bust in another six months. “We do have sleepless nights thinking, ‘What are we supposed to do?’” Khalid says. “What’s going to happen and what if the situation doesn’t improve, what do we do?”

The Malaysian government is considering additional steps to allow more foreign tourists inside the country. That’s an idea that small mom-and-pop shops such as Khalid’s — as well as major international hotel chains like Metzner’s — say would boost their bottom lines.

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Генеральний секретар ООН звинувачує «Талібан» у десятках «убивств помсти»

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У звіті Антоніу Ґутерріша йдеться, що місія ООН «продовжує отримувати достовірні звинувачення про вбивства, насильницькі зникнення та інші порушення» проти колишніх афганських чиновників, співробітників сил безпеки та осіб, які співпрацювали з військовим контингентом на чолі зі США

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Британія пригрозила санкціями Росії у випадку подальших дій проти України

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Попередження офіційного Лондона пролунало напередодні розмови міністра закордонних справ Росії Сергія Лаврова з держсекретарем США Ентоні Блінкеном 1 лютого

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Categories: Новини, Світ

ПВК «Вагнера» займається грабежами природних ресурсів в Малі – глава МЗС Франції

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Озброєні Москвою колишні російські військові діють в Малі, щоб посилити вплив Кремля в регіоні, вважає міністр закордонних справ Франції Жан-Ів Ле Дріан

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Categories: Новини, Світ

Iran Supreme Leader Says ‘Wrong Decisions’ Have Hurt Economy

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Sunday that the country’s poor economic situation was not only due to international sanctions but also to government mismanagement.

“Wrong decisions and shortcomings” were part of the reason for the Islamic republic’s “unsatisfactory” economic data, he said about the decade from March 2011 to last year.

Indicators such as “GDP growth, capital formation, inflation, housing and liquidity growth were not satisfactory,” Khamenei said.

“The main cause of these problems is not only sanctions, but also wrong decisions and shortcomings,” he told a meeting with economic officials.

“If the authorities had cooperated more with the producers in these 10 years, the damage would have been less, and the successes would have been greater,” he added in an implicit attack on former president Hassan Rouhani’s governments from 2013 to 2021.

Iran, which last year elected President Ebrahim Raisi, has been hit by severe economic sanctions imposed in 2018 by the United States, and has seen its inflation rate surge to close to 60 percent.

Khamenei criticized the high prices and low quality of some home-made products, especially cars.

He also charged that “despite the government’s support,” the price of some domestically-produced home appliances had doubled.

Iran has witnessed a number of protest rallies in the past few weeks by civil servants, including from the judiciary, against tough economic conditions.

Regarding companies operating despite the sanctions, Khamenei said that “we have successful examples and businesses that did not wait for the lifting of sanctions.”

Iran has been negotiating in Vienna — directly with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and indirectly with the United States — to revive its tattered 2015 nuclear deal.

The landmark agreement offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

But the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump and reimposed biting economic sanctions on Iran.

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Violent Protests Highlight India’s Grim Unemployment Situation

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Violent protests by job seekers that gripped two Indian states this week have turned the spotlight on India’s unemployment crisis, especially among young and educated people, economists say.

Angry mobs burned train cars and tires, and blocked rail traffic in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India’s most populous states, over alleged flaws in the recruitment process for jobs in the government-run rail sector.

They complained of lack of transparency and said that the process unfairly gives an advantage to graduates applying for low-skilled jobs.

There were more than 12 million applicants for the 35,000 openings, reflecting the acute job scarcity. Even before the pandemic battered the economy, unemployment was running at a four-decade high, reflecting the inability of the job market to cater to the more than 10 million new applicants every year.

The situation has worsened in the last two years even though the economy is recovering. It is most stark in states such as Bihar, where the unemployment rate is double the national average. One of India’s least developed states, it has very few avenues for private sector employment, which is why government jobs that are better paid and offer security are highly prized.

Among the applicants for a rail sector job is Guddu Kumar Singh, a 32-year-old resident of Bihar, who has spent nearly 15 years applying unsuccessfully for a variety of government jobs. After failing to make the cut for a clerk in the Indian army after graduating from high school, he focused on improving his educational qualifications and earned a degree in economics — he and his brother were the first generation in his farming family to get college degrees. Like millions of others, the family saw education as the path to a brighter future.

“I was a sincere student – I spent 13, 14 hours a day studying to get my degree. I was so positive. I never thought I would not get a job,” Singh said. “I am totally dejected. My family also asks me, what did I achieve by studying?”

According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, an independent think tank, India’s unemployment rate was nearly 8% in December. It says, however, that this number does not reflect the true scale of unemployment in India because millions of educated people have stopped looking for jobs.

They are people like Singh — if he does not get a railway job he could simply drop out of the job market, returning to what he has been doing while he searched for a job – tutoring school students.


“Unemployment is higher among younger and more educated people because appropriate jobs are not available,” economist Arun Kumar, a former professor with New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said.

“The organized sector barely generates about 300,000 jobs a year, so where do the other aspirants go? There is a crisis of unemployment.”

The huge gap between supply and demand has resulted in qualified people taking jobs of much lower skills.

Earlier this month, graduates, post-graduates, engineers, and civil judge aspirants were among the more than 10,000 young people who turned up for interviews for 15 government jobs such as drivers and watchmen in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, according to a report by local broadcaster NDTV.

Economists say that part of the problem is that, unlike several other Asian countries, India never created a large-scale manufacturing sector — its growth is being powered by its booming services sector, which creates fewer jobs.

The government says job creation is a priority – in recent years, it has been trying to pitch India as an attractive investment destination to woo global manufacturers. Those efforts have intensified since the pandemic as India eyes the opportunity of luring companies that are looking to move some manufacturing out of China.

“India is committed to becoming a trustworthy partner for the world’s global supply chains,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum earlier this month. “We are making way for free trade agreements with many countries. India’s capacity to adopt to innovative technologies and its spirit of entrepreneurship can give new energy to all our global partners. This is why now is the best time to invest in India.”

Economists like Kumar, though, point out that even if India is able to attract companies to set up factories, modern manufacturing generates far fewer jobs than it did in the past because of automation.


“India must invest more resources in more employment-intensive sectors like health and education that provide jobs for more qualified people like teachers, nurses, technicians,” he said. “The frustration among the young and educated is boiling over.”

Indian commentators have called the recent protests a wake-up call in a country where half the population of 1.3 billion is under 25. The Indian Express newspaper said they were a “sobering message.”

The government has suspended the examination for rail jobs and said a committee has been formed to investigate candidates’ concerns.

For those like Singh, who sees it as his last chance to secure employment, the uncertainty is unbearable.

“I feel really anguished when I think of the years I spent getting a college degree. If I had spent the same time doing something else, I would have had better earnings.” 


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Секретар Ради безпеки Росії заявив, що Москва не хоче війни, і згадав тих, «хто її нав’язує»

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«Не хочемо ми війни. І вона нам зовсім не потрібна. І ті, хто її нав’язують, особливо із Заходу, вони переслідують свої корисливі вигадки», – заявив Патрушев

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Categories: Новини, Світ