Missing car maintenance details can cost you more than it should. Here’s how you can easily book and keep track of your car service online.

With the long-drawn MCO and daily grind, the days blur from one week to another and makes it easy for many car owners to miss important maintenance schedules. It does not matter whether your car is still under warranty or not. Skipping the replacement or servicing of parts of a car is hazardous to your safety as well as heavy on your wallet.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of things that could go wrong without timely car maintenance: 

1. Shortened engine lifespan

The engine oil and filter should be replaced regularly if you want your car to operate properly. These items help to protect your engine and extend the vehicle’s life. Dirty filter and engine oil will damage components of an engine over time.

2. Transmission oil problems

The importance of changing the transmission oil according to schedule cannot be stressed enough. In fact, it is even more critical for automatic transmissions. The transmission fluid keeps your car’s gearbox cool and moving smoothly. However, this fluid becomes dirty after a certain number of miles or months. 

Not replacing it and the transmission filter accordingly can cause the gearbox to become clogged. Over time, this can result in massive repair costs or total damage. Besides that, it is critical to check the transmission box for leakages as well. A leak leads to poor acceleration, delayed responses, and gear slippage. 

3. Emissions system releases harmful gasses

Most modern vehicles have a computerized engine that controls your car’s emissions. Sensors monitor the exhaust and pollutants released by the engine. This system should be inspected once a year to keep you, your passengers, and the planet safe from harmful gasses. A neglected system also causes poor fuel consumption which then increases your monthly petrol expense. 

4. Accidents due to tires

Tires that are not serviced will wear unevenly. This causes your car to have poor grip and risk spinning. Badly worn tires also affect vehicle performance and gas mileage. A mechanic is trained to see whether your tires need rotating or changing. 

5. Timing belt snapping

Some car owners make the mistake of not changing the timing belt after 60,000 km. Although it may still appear to be in good condition, it is advisable to replace it as the consequence from the belt snapping is far more pricey. If a timing belt snaps while the engine is running, the engine may end up with broken valves, damaged pistons, or totally destroyed cylinder head. You may end up needing a total overhaul of the engine. 

6. Brake failure

The clutch plate and brake fluid should be checked by the mechanic during service. Brake fluid should be replaced every 60,000 km. The clutch plate may need to be repaired or replaced over time too. Both of these are essential for safe driving.

What can SERV do for you?

With SERV, you’ll be able to service your car in a timely, safe, and stress-free manner. SERV is an all-in-1 mobile application with all the possible car-related services and more!

1. Find the nearest and most reliable workshop

The app allows you to keep track of all your car maintenance details. Whenever you need to service your car, just choose the best workshop from the many registered merchants on SERV. The app is extremely useful as you can view the workshop’s facilities and user ratings. 

2. Book and pay online

Simply book an appointment with your chosen workshop using SERV. The app practically makes the entire process contactless throughout the service. After receiving a quotation, scan the QR code and the workshop will start working on your car. Then, pay the workshop via the SERV app. Online payment keeps you safe from handling cash or documents, and the risk of withdrawing large sums of money at ATMs.

For a limited time only, enjoy RM15 cashback for your Touch ‘n Go eWallet as well for every minimum spend of RM150 using TnG via the SERV app! The promotion period will be valid up until 31 December 2021.      

3. Get appointment reminders

Book your next car servicing appointment via the app. Select your preferred workshops on the Drive-In list tab, then choose your preferred time and date. SERV gives you a reminder so that you don’t miss the appointment.

4. Earn more rewards

The Loyalty Programme allows users who consistently request for our maintenance services to stand a chance to get rewarded with mysterious gifts from SERV workshops. There are also constant workshop promotions which you can avail of (T&C applies).

5. Store essential information on your car

Very often, the mechanic will ask for certain data about your car in order to service it properly. This includes the car model, year of manufacture, engine, and other specifications, and chassis number. Having this information at your fingertips is especially useful for those who may find it hard to remember such technical details.

6. Enjoy all-round ancillary services

Get road assistance service for breakdowns, accidents, battery replacements, as well as insurance and road tax renewals. Track your car maintenance status with ease via the SERV app.  

Download the SERV app today to enjoy all the reliable car services at your fingertips. Available on Google Play and Apple App Store.

ASEAN BAC Malaysia Consultation Meeting: Malaysia should leverage China’s expertise in cutting edge technology and find ways to intensify cooperation

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia held a consultation meeting last Friday with the China-ASEAN Business Council (CABC), The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) and Malaysia-China Friendship Association (PPMC). to discuss Malaysia’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) from China and its business communities.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, with Malaysia being China’s second-largest trading partner in ASEAN and bilateral trade totalling US$131.16 billion in 2020.

1. RCEP to elevate bilateral trade, investment, and cooperation

Both countries are also parties to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among 15 Asia Pacific nations that collectively account for 30% of global GDP.

“We are convinced that the RCEP’s ratification will become an important pillar of global economic recovery in the post-epidemic era,” said CABC Secretary-General Ms Jennifer Liu.

As such, the CABC urged enterprises from both countries to jointly seize the opportunities brought about by the RCEP, particularly in the areas of industrial and talent development, as well as in initiatives to accelerate digital commerce.

The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) President Dato‘ Low Kian Chuan concurred, saying that bilateral trade and investment between the countries is expected to scale to greater heights not only due to the enlarged market share within each country but also in other RCEP markets.

“Through better trade and services liberalisation, Malaysian companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must rise to the occasion and make the most of opportunities as they present themselves despite the challenges that they may come with,” said Dato’ Low.

2. Malaysia and China can benefit from a mutual interest in high-value industries

Beyond digitalisation, the panellists also highlighted the many possible areas for collaboration higher up the value chain.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) Deputy CEO (Investment Promotion & Facilitation) Mr Sivasuriyamoorthy Sundara Raja said that the country particularly welcomes collaboration and investment in high-value sectors. This, he said, would include service sectors such as information and communications technology, data analytics, design and development.

InvestKL’s Director of Investor Relations (Asia) Mr Mah Chun Wai echoed this sentiment, saying “China’s 14th Five Year Plan paves the way for Malaysia and China to mutually benefit from its aligned vision for next-generation industries and high-value activities driven by technology and innovation.”

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid agreed, adding that Malaysia should not only look to the west alone for new technologies but also to others closer to home such as China.

“Malaysia should work with China to set up a robotics institute given the latter’s great advancements in the field and find ways to leverage China’s expertise in cutting edge technologies to build its sustainable economy, especially in the areas of renewable energy and electric vehicles,’ proposed Tan Sri Munir.

3. Malaysia-China ties stronger than ever but there is still room for improvement

According to data from the Chinese embassy, China has been the Malaysian manufacturing sector’s largest source of foreign investment for four consecutive years, as well as Malaysia’s third-largest source of foreign tourists for eight consecutive years.

“This trend will continue for many years to come,” says Malaysia-China Friendship Association (PPMC) Vice President Mr Zulkifly Hj Zakaria, who also raised the possibility of creating a travel bubble for fully vaccinated individuals between Chinese cities and Malaysia to help with the recovery of both countries’ tourism industries in addition to exploring more opportunities within the Belt and Road Initiative.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon, for his part, congratulated China on the recent announcement of their application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade agreement of which Malaysia is a signatory.

Tan Sri Yong added that ASEAN-BAC is also keen to elevate its engagement with China’s business community to gather ideas and policy recommendations that it can then share with ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) during the ASEAN-BAC’s bi-annual meetings with them.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr Raja Singham, for his part, stressed that greater engagement with China’s business associations was also needed since Chinese companies were not aware of the various trade, investment, and business incentives offered by the Malaysian government.

CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong concurred, saying that ASEAN-BAC Malaysia could work with the CABC to actively engage in the ASEAN consultation process.

ASEAN BAC Malaysia Consultation Meeting: Malaysia remains an attractive investment destination but political stability needed for economic growth and investment

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia held a consultation meeting last Friday with business associations representing US businesses to discuss Malaysia’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) from the United States and its business communities.

“Malaysia has long been and continues to be a key trading partner with the United States. U.S. companies consistently rank among the largest employers in states like Penang and most U.S. company subsidiaries are managed by Malaysians and employ over 90% Malaysian employees.

In the manufacturing sector, the United States is second only to Japan in investments, at nearly US$25 billion, including from high-tech companies such as Intel, First Solar, and Hewlett Packard.

The continuation of a strong and collaborative relationship between the United States and Malaysia and the enhancement of policy consultative mechanisms will strengthen the business climate enabling Malaysia to continue to attract U.S. economic and commercial activity,” said Ambassador of the United States of America to Malaysia His Excellency Brian D. McFeeters.

1. Malaysia remains an attractive investment destination for US companies but more public-private dialogues needed

“Investment intentions remain healthy and foreign investors’ confidence in Malaysia remains high,” according to Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) Deputy CEO (Investment Promotion & Facilitation) Mr Sivasuriyamoorthy Sundara Raja.

Malaysia is the fourth-largest economy in ASEAN, strategically positioned in the heart of Southeast Asia where it is well serviced by all primary air and shipping lines. The country was ranked the second most competitive country in ASEAN in the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021.[1]

“Malaysia has made impressive achievements amidst these challenging times, as seen by its over 200% increase in FDI inflows in the first half of 2021. American businesses are encouraged by this positive growth and we hope that Malaysia will continue establishing a conducive business ecosystem with robust and resilient supply chains to spur more investments, jobs and economic opportunities,” said US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director Ambassador Michael W. Michalak.

A conducive business ecosystem, he added, would include continuous public-private consultations to ensure that businesses are involved in the crafting of policies that would affect them, in addition to ratifying key trade agreements that Malaysia has signed such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

2. Political stability is the first step towards economic growth and recovery

The need for political stability, continuous dialogues between the public and private sector, and ratification of trade agreements such as the CPTPP were common threads echoed by panellists throughout the consultation.

“We are as concerned as foreign businesses are with the dysfunction in government caused by domestic political turmoil on top of the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid.

“We make business representations, even express personal views. But Malaysia’s attractiveness for foreign investment remains and can be enhanced. We hope that with the new government and understanding with the opposition there will be a much-needed respite for the country to get down to business for economic benefit,” he stressed.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon concurred, adding that the ratification of the CPTPP could serve as an anchor and catalyst for change since its provisions would impose a wide range of standards that both the public and private sector would need to comply with.

3. Malaysia needs to be decisive to attract value-added investments in priority sectors

Malaysia has established itself as an attractive cost-competitive investment location in the region and it is fast becoming a preferred centre for shared services and technology industries. The country was ranked the fifth top performer globally in terms of digital legal framework readiness in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2020.[2]

“Malaysia remains an important destination for American investment, but headwinds present challenges. Malaysia needs to be decisive to attract value-added investments in priority sectors when U.S. businesses re-evaluate regional investment. This includes sustainability issues on the environment and labour, and the implementation of laws promoting digital services and trade,” said American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) CEO Ms Siobhan Das Bachran.

In supporting this view, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr Raja Singham opined that the country would need a stronger digital workforce if it wants to grow its digital industries.

He added that the Malaysian workforce is talented and can flourish if given the right environment, platform, and training — but this would require input from employers on where the gaps and demand for skills are.

“As a leading investment destination guided by future-proof policies and economic transformation initiatives, Malaysia continues to attract multinationals and fast-growing companies seeking a broad reach into Asia. Greater Kuala Lumpur is home to a growing number of world-renowned U.S. companies and we continue to welcome future-forward companies driven by next-generation industries to realize their vision here,” said InvestKL Corporation’s Director of Investor Relations (Americas) Ms Vivian Sia.

CARI ASEAN Research & Advocacy Executive Director Ms Jukhee Hong, for her part, stressed that there is a need for more policy dialogues to reinforce the voice of the private sector.

(From top left): Mr. Raja Singham, Council member of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia; His Excellency Brian D. McFeeters,
Ambassador of of the United States of America to Malaysia; Ms. Siobhan Das Bachran, Executive Director of American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)
(Second Row left): Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia; Mr. Sivasuriyamoorthy Sundara Raja, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Investment Promotion & Facilitation) of Malaysian Investment
Development Authority (MIDA); Ms. Vivian Sia, Director, Investor Relations -Americas of InvestKL Corporation
(Last Row Left): Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon, Council Member of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia; His Excellency Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of US-ASEAN Business Council
(USABC); Ms. Jukhee Hong, Executive Director of CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy

[1] https://www.mpc.gov.my/malaysia-competitiveness-performance/

[2] https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-competitiveness-report-2020/in-full/infographics-14b60f7c60

SMEs in dire need of assistance

ON the eve of Malaysia Day, I was delighted to share a few drinks and cigars with my two elderly sifus, Peter Khoo and TK Teo. Khoo, an accounting and tax practitioner and Teo, an experienced banker and corporate personality, have such great stories to tell with much wisdom imparted from their past experiences.

But our discussion turned sombre when I asked them how bad has this pandemic-driven recession affected Malaysian SMEs, as compared with other recessions since 1987.

Both say that the SMEs are facing the toughest challenges ever seen before.

Khoo reckons some 30% of Malaysian SMEs have closed down in the last 18 months. Teo feels that more SMEs will close down come January 2022 when the bank moratorium ends.

My hairstylist who used to have a saloon in Kota Damansara told me that more than half of the 40 over hair salons in his area have closed down in the last 18 months. Many shopping malls across the country have seen retail and F&B stores close. Not forgetting the closures of so many hotels and all tourism businesses. The list is endless. The damage is extensive.

The many lockdowns and strict SOPs have ruined many businesses. As the losses mounted, cash flow depleted super fast, defaults on bank loans reprieved by two moratoriums, savings are all used up and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for any recovery in business. Until now.

Luckily for Malaysia, our vaccination programme has been accelerated and in three weeks, 90% of our adult population would be fully vaccinated. The adult population is the working population. This has enabled the government to open up the economy gradually and come October, hopefully all sectors will be reopened and we hope that it includes allowing interstate travelling.

How can the government help the SMEs? I had asked Teo this question before we left for home.

The following day, Teo asked if I remembered about the Export Credit Refinancing (ECR) scheme which was introduced by the government after the 1987 major recession.

Of course I remembered. In the late 1980s, I was managing a rubber glove factory and had used the ECR facilities to the maximum. Upon receiving a purchase order (PO) from my customers, I could utilise up to 80% of the PO value to issue letters of credit to my latex supplier, order packaging materials and pay for the gas bills.

Upon completion of the order, the money received is first paid to the bank and the balance money is used to pay salaries. Manufacturers could borrow upfront based on a firm order so that production could proceed.

Financing cost was at 4% compared to the standard 8%-10% commercial rate of borrowing. It was a Bank Negara initiative, all ECR loans and facilities extended by commercial banks were guaranteed by Credit Guarantee Corporation (CGC), owned by Bank Negara and Malaysian banks.

Teo explains more: “As we know, SMEs are the worst hit sector during this pandemic. Most of them have no more working capital even if there is new demand for their products or services.

“Most of their existing loans have now turned into non-performing loans (NPL). So they have little chance of getting banks to extend additional facilities to them. Therefore, Bank Negara can introduce a similar funding scheme that can cater to SMEs that have contracts or orders in hand, but need fresh working capital.

“These funds can be guaranteed by CGC and also with the condition that part of the new business proceeds must be used to settle the existing NPL.”

Teo’s idea is practical and offers an amicable solution to all parties.

SMEs will get fresh loans and cash flow to proceed with their operations to fulfil orders. Banks are able to reduce the NPL impact without taking on more risks.

The government controls a quantitative easing measure that is directed at productive activities that contributes towards faster growth of our gross domestic product.

I would like to expand on Teo’s idea and suggest the following:

  • Set up a RM100bil SME revival fund. Allocate an amount to the banks based on their respective loan size to the SME sector. CGC can guarantee up to 80% of the new loans extended by the banks to existing SME customers.
  • Set the interest charged for these loans to not more than 3%. With overnight policy rate at 1.75%, there are sufficient margins for the banks to implement this scheme profitably.
  • For export business, reintroduce the ECR scheme. For domestic business with orders or contracts in hand, a similar domestic credit refinancing (DCR) scheme can be implemented. The total amount of financing should be about two to three months of rolling future sales. Assuming it makes RM500,000 monthly sales, based on 80% financing, a RM1.2mil DCR facility would be sufficient.
  • For businesses that depend on future orders like F&B and services, a one-off revival loan can be implemented. Assuming the F&B outlet can generate RM100,000 monthly sales, then an upfront RM100,000 loan repayable over three years can be implemented. This RM100,000 loan will be sufficient to kick-start the business.

Bank Negara should consult the various trade associations and banks to ascertain their needs before designing the SOP’s for the SME revival fund.

The ECR and DCR schemes can be implemented quickly and should be implemented before the moratorium expires by the end of this year.

With the economy opening up, let us hope that our government will not resort to further lockdowns because the country will plunge into an economic abyss and never recover. We also need the government to ensure proper public health policies go hand in hand with economic activities.

The Health Minister has started the vaccination of children from the ages of 12-17 years, but the speed of vaccination will depend on the supply of Pfizer vaccines, which is again delayed.

Some countries like Singapore have started booster shots of vaccines for the elderly and for cancer patients so I am sure our Health Minister will look into this urgent matter, again subject to the delivery of vaccines.

Our Senior Minister for Security has announced that the 181 SOPs will be reduced to just 10 ‘simple to understand’ SOPs.

The whole nation will rejoice when the new SOPs are announced. It should be based on vaccination status, public health considerations of wearing masks, sanitisation, social distancing and crowd control.

Further considerations will be on self testing, home quarantines and contact tracing. Generalise the instructions for businesses and citizens to follow and make SOPs simple so that it will not be misinterpreted by local enforcement officers.

Businesses should not be subjected to International Trade and Industry Ministry approvals anymore.

We should not burden the police with applications for interstate travels. The civil service must revert back to pre-Covid efficiency levels. It is unproductive to have to make a booking online for an appointment to submit a document and frustrating to see all slots have been fully booked for the next two weeks.

What used to be a simple task of going to a public service department, collect a waiting number and conducting a simple transaction on the same day, must resume immediately.

I have never seen any government departments refusing to collect taxes or stamp duties before until this pandemic.

The land office is closed, the public have not been able to get road tax since March and the Inland Revenue Department is refusing to collect cheque payments at their counters. Funnily enough, our Finance Minister was lamenting about the low collection of tax revenue.

Lastly, the plantation and the manufacturing sectors are screaming for foreign workers to be allowed entry.

Since the pandemic started, we have had net outflow of foreign workers returning home upon completion of their contracts as no inflows are allowed. Working mothers are also in search of domestic helpers since their previous helpers have left for home.

With the economy opening up quickly, we need to allow entry of new foreign workers and domestic helpers. It is a major revenue for the Home Ministry as workers levy and fees run into hundreds of million a year.

Managing this recovery will require all ministries and our civil service to work together, coordinate better and communicate with one voice. And do listen carefully to the voice of desperate SMEs and to the voice of frustrated citizens as GE15 is only two years away.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.