Home' Baird Maritime : August 2011 Contents The famous rallying cry of "Malaysia boleh!" that originated
from sports arenas has embodied the "can do" attitude that has
permeated many aspects of life for this relatively small but
ambitious country. The 'boleh' (Malay for 'can do') spirit has
propelled Malaysia from relative obscurity -- many people used
to refer to Malaysia as "that country between Thailand and
Singapore"! -- to a model developing economy.
No doubt the 'boleh' attitude has played a hand in propelling
Malaysia's maritime sector to great heights. From being a country
whose major ports featured workers loading and unloading cargoes
in gunny sacks only a few decades ago, Malaysia is now considered
as a maritime nation of considerable international clout.
Underlining its stature is its ranking as the world's eighteenth
most important maritime nation by way of volume of seaborne trade
engagement and contribution to the world's merchant shipping
tonnage. Not bad indeed for a country of 28 million people.
Malaysia's impressive achievements as a maritime nation can be
attributed to a combination of strategic location, strong
institutional support, favourable external conditions, and good
planning and execution.
Today, this council member nation of the International
Maritime Organisation can boast having two ports in the list of the
world's twenty busiest container ports, in Port Klang (13th) and
Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP -- 17th). Its national carrier, MISC,
has emerged as the world's largest owner-operator of LNG tankers.
Its offshore oil and gas sector boasts South-East Asia's most prolific
deepwater and ultra deepwater sites.
One thing that Malaysia does better than most countries of
similar population is to astutely observe and develop a keen
understanding of the dynamics of international trade and identify
and tap into the opportunities presented. This is best underscored
by the strategy of load-centering cargoes in Port Klang while
building a port, PTP, in the late 1990s to handle transshipment
cargoes, based on bullish projections of national and international
trade and economic growth.
Although Port Klang essentially facilitates the handling of
indigenous cargoes, its development has been planned in such a
way that its business is well diversified. Testimony to the strategy is
the impressive growth in transshipment throughput handled by the
port in recent years and its success in carving a niche for itself as a
hub port that handles halal cargoes. The port's ranking among the
world's top container ports vindicated the load-centering strategy.
Similar success has also been recorded in the shipping and
shipbuilding sectors. MISC is now a global player in energy
transportation, thanks to some shrewd moves that have enabled
the company to fly the Malaysian flag in the international arena.
Several Malaysian shipyards have carved a niche for themselves,
for example in the offshore support vessel (OSV) and passenger
boat segments; some of them are renowned for making quality,
durable and cost-competitive vessels that are coveted by customers
at home and abroad.
Despite these achievements, Malaysia faces many challenges amid
a sea change in global trade and economy that will provide a stiff test
to its ability to remain among the top-ranked maritime nations.
Competition is growing from other nations to draw in investment in
the maritime sector and to attract shipping lines and cargoes.
There is plenty of room for improvement for Malaysia to
enhance its competitiveness as a maritime nation and to become
an international world-class international maritime centre like
Singapore and Hong Kong.
One area in which Malaysia needs improvement is in the so-
called 'last mile connectivity' in its trade supply chain. While it
can boast ports with world-class facilities and superb air and land
transport infrastructures, much can be done to enhance
multimodal connectivity. For Malaysia to meet its aspiration to
become a regional shipping and logistics hub and to handle bigger
trade volumes, it must strive to provide seamless linkages among
the various transport modes. It must also strive to integrate its
supply chains with international ones, continuously improve the
service offering of its ports at competitive rates and offer a
comprehensive range of support services to attract shipping lines,
especially main line operators.
As Malaysia marches towards attaining developed status by
2020, reflected in its ambitious Vision 2020 plan, focus will be
trained on its maritime sector to help attain this lofty target.
Under the New Economic Model (NEM) introduced by the
government to propel Malaysia towards developed nation status,
the nation is expected to generate high-income, value-adding
economic activities that can ensure growth and increase the
nation's income per capita. In this regard, the maritime sector,
being a key trade facilitator, is expected to play a leading role to
generate the kind of activities envisioned by NEM. Focus will also
be trained on this sector to help realise Malaysia's target to reduce
its carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 (from 2005 levels).
Malaysia can be rightfully proud of its glorious maritime
heritage and its achievements as a modern-day maritime nation.
However, the voyage ahead is going to be a challenging one.
Nonetheless, with unwavering focus, commitment and dedication
from the government and industry players, there is no ocean too
wide or too rough enough for this ambitious country. Expect the
'Malaysia boleh!' battle cry to propel this country to scale greater
heights in the maritime sector!
Ann Joo Metal
One company that has been at the heart of Malaysia's recent
advances has been Ann Joo Metal (AJM).
The company, a stockiest and trader of steel products, has been
involved in some of the highest-profile mega projects in Malaysia,
such as Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Putrajaya
planned city, the PUTRA light rail transport system, as well as
various port, power and petrochemical plants.
AJM began life in 1946 as a scrap dealership, founded by Lim
Kah Seng. The business thrived and grew into a private limited
company in 1975. Today, AJM is one of Malaysia's top distributors
and stockists of steel and non-ferrous (copper, brass and
aluminium) products. Its product portfolio ranges from carbon
steel and stainless steel to specialty steel of various grades,
dimensions and quality. Among the high value-added steel
products that AJM distributes are pressure vessel plates,
shipbuilding plates and abrasive-resistant plates, structural steel
such as H-beams and I-beams, and speciality steel pipes, commonly
consumed in the oil and gas sector.
BAIRD MARITIME August 2011 41
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