MH17 probe must steer clear of politics


MH17 Carton

The whirling aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is now upon us, with Western-led international opinion turning the spotlight on Russia. We believe that the entire case must be investigated fairly and thoroughly. The United Nations or the International Civil Aviation Organization must play a leading role, and all sides must coordinate without preconditions or preconceptions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have agreed that all evidence from the downed plane should be made available for international investigation, and that experts should be given access to the site.

This is good news. Moscow must take a proactive stance toward this investigation.

The West has fingered Russia as the main suspect in the tragedy. Under such circumstances, any hesitation on Russia’s part will provoke more blame from the West. If there is no result to the investigation, Russia will, by default, be named the perpetrator. Therefore, letting the facts of the case speak suits Russia’s interests.

The Western rush to judge Russia is not based on evidence or logic. Russia had no motive to bring down MH17; doing so would only narrow its political and moral space to operate in the Ukrainian crisis. The tragedy has no political benefit for Ukrainian rebel forces, either.

Russia has been back-footed, forced into a passive stance by Western reaction. It is yet another example of the power of Western opinion as a political tool.

Politically speaking, shooting down a passenger jet would be ridiculous. It could have been an error, the precondition for which is the chaos within Ukraine.

The truth is the most persuasive tool of all. As the targeting of civilian air traffic is a mortal threat to all air passengers, a fair investigation is in the interest of all sides. The investigation process must steer clear of any political interference. The truth must be made public once it is found out.

Without a doubt, we live in a highly politicized world. Political zealotry has always been part and parcel of revolutionary passions.

The West has successfully put itself in a position to dictate “political correctness” in international discourse. Those unwilling to work with Western interests will often find themselves in a tough position.

The crash of MH17 is a tragedy of immense proportions. But the discussion swirling around this event has centered around three positions: shock at and condemnation of the event itself, quibbling over the Ukrainian crisis, and defining the opposition between Russia and the West. The first seems to be overwhelmed by the latter two, disrupting any investigation into the tragedy.

We sincerely hope the investigation will stick to factual and technological questions. People need the truth rather than another geopolitical rivalry.

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-21 0:13:01

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[2014-07-19 06:47] The cause of the downing of the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, must be found as soon as possible, and those responsible must be identified and brought to justice.

Be willing to embrace change


Change_embraceTrade and open markets power China ahead. By embracing openness, China has transformed itself and perhaps even the world.

Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become

MY first impression of China when I first visited in 1985 was one of backwardness. There were bicycles and Mao suits everywhere.

I was fortunate because my second visit was 22 years later, in 2007. Frankly, I was astounded by what I saw. People went about in the latest fashions and cars had replaced the bicycles.

Fast forward to 2014 – when I again visited in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Malaysia and China’s bilateral ties, accompanying Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – and we found that the pace of development was just as frenetic.

Incidentally, this was my second visit to China this year and I still have a couple more trips planned.

China is now the second biggest economy in the world and in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms, the largest.

The World Bank estimates that the number of Chinese living under the international poverty line (US$1.25 a day) fell from 43% of the world’s total poor population in 1981 to 13% in 2010.

China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita doubled to 38,354 yuan (RM19,672) from 2009 to 2012 alone.

Change, it seems, is the only constant in China. But how did this come about?

I would argue that it’s because they embraced reform and openness.

Under Deng Xiaoping, China sought “socialism with Chinese characteristics”: in effect, opening itself and its markets to the wider world.

One significant initiative which China embarked upon was joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001.

This was a watershed and was not an easy decision for China.

Accession, especially in China’s case, is a lengthy and thorough pro­cess. Negotiations for China to join WTO took 15 years.

Countries often had to make significant concessions to the entire WTO membership and no exceptions were made for China.

However, the Chinese government proved willing to dismantle much of its restrictive institutional regime.

But WTO membership for China was not just to get better access to international markets.

It was also a defensive measure: to prevent unilateral actions from being taken against their goods by trading partners.

For instance, as a member of the WTO, China is protected from unilateral tariff hikes.

Other countries with grievances against it will have to bring their case to WTO’s tribunals.

Among the requirements for WTO entry, China also had to reduce its bound tariffs on industrial goods to an average of about 9% by 2005. Agricultural tariffs were cut to 15% while most quotas and licence requirements were eliminated.

All in all, China had to relax over 7,000 tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers.

Furthermore, it had to open up its markets to foreign firms and end state-controlled distribution of products.

China, significantly, made more market-opening commitments for services than most WTO members had.

From a centrally planned economy, China has now embraced capitalistic economic principles.

At the same time, China moved to strengthen its own capacities. It moved away from agro-based exports to manufacturing.

Also, the first of many Special Economic Zones were established in 1980, including today’s iconic Shenzen.

All of these were bold and unprecedented moves, all the more so given China’s strong nationalism and its traditional aversion to foreign entanglements. But open up it did and the results are clear for all to see.

In 2013, the WTO reported that China had overtaken the United States as the largest trading nation in the world, with total trade valued at US$4.16 trillion (RM13.23 trillion).

In that year, China’s total exports value was US$2.21 trillion (RM7.03 trillion) compared to US$1.58 trillion (RM5.02 trillion) for the US.

China, in fact, is now the largest trading partner for more than 120 countries, including Malaysia.

China is also the biggest market for automobiles, with 20 million cars sold in 2013. In comparison, the US sold only 14 million cars.

Indeed, from 2002 (after it joined the WTO) to 2013, the growth of its total trade rocketed to an annual average of more than 21%.

Its GDP for the corresponding period grew from US$1.3 trillion (RM4.13 trillion) to over US$9 trillion (RM28.6 trillion) in 2013.

Of course, China’s leaders had no way of knowing that all of these reforms would bear such remarkable fruit.

It was a risk they had to take, but it was one that paid off handsomely.

By embracing openness, China has transformed itself and perhaps even the world.

The lessons from China for Malaysia and other countries are clear: we have to be willing to embrace change.

Otherwise, the only other option is stagnation and decline.

By Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed is Minister of International Trade and Industry. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own. Fair and reasonable comments are most ­welcome at mustapa@miti.gov.my

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Big bosses are watching you !


Big Bosses watching youTracking device: Asia Insight employee Steven Li conducting a survey near Bugis Junction. He is using a tablet which has mobile data collection software, allowing his employers to track his work patterns. – The Straits Times / Asia News Network

BIG bosses are watching. Firms are keeping a closer eye on their employees’ punctuality and efficiency – thanks, or no thanks, to technology.

Larger companies are investing in advanced software in mobile devices that can detect location – and record the time taken to complete tasks.

And smaller firms have found that run-of-the-mill but inexpensive instant messaging apps can also be used to monitor workers. Employees of local property valuation firm GSK Global, for example, when out at meetings are told to send a picture of the venue to their departments’ WhatsApp group chat within 15 minutes of the designated time. Those who are consistently late will get their bonuses docked.

Bosses say they are not spying on their staff. Rather, they want to improve efficiency.

GSK Global boss Eric Tan said: “I want my staff to be punctual so they can be done with work earlier and go home by 8pm.”

Market research consultancy Asia Insight chief executive Pearly Tan agrees.

Her firm engaged local tech start-up Epsilon Mobile earlier this year to develop mobile data collection software that records the time employees take to interview people and co­m­plete surveys, among other things.

It costs “a few hundred thousand” but Tan said it was worth it. The software helps the company spot patterns in the way the surveyors work, and also intervenes to reduce errors and boost productivity.

Her firm plans to use the software, which is enabled with Global Positioning System (GPS), to detect its employees’ location.

Epsilon Mobile boss William Vo said besides market researchers, organisations such as voluntary welfare groups and chain restaurants had also shown interest in his data collection software.

Similarly, tech company FPT Asia Pacific provides a few fast-moving consumer goods firms with GPS-enabled data collection software to monitor roving sales staff.

While most surveillance techno­logy now focuses on tracking location and time, firms may soon be able to use it to monitor their wor­kers’ interactions with customers.

Local tech company FXMedia is in talks with some retailer groups to roll out a visitor analysis system in stores. The software detects the number of customers and consu­mers’ emotions using webcams.

However, bosses admit there are some drawbacks to using workplace surveillance technology; workers face extra stress and loss of privacy. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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Deals mark close relations between Germany and China


Video: German Chancellor meets Chinese Premier, major deals signed

 Germany has hammered out a series of major business deals with China, during Chancellor Angela Merke…
China-Gernany dealsInvestment quota for RMB program to strengthen Germany as yuan center
AT A GLANCE
Deals signed during Angela Merkel’s China visit
• Volkswagen aims to establish two plants in Qingdao and Tianjin with an investment of $2.7 billion.
• Airbus Group will sell 123 helicopters to Chinese companies for general aviation.
• Air China and Lufthansa are in talks that could lead the German and Chinese carriers to form a revenue-sharing joint venture.
• The two countries are planning a joint pilot project concerning Passive House, an energy-efficient method of construction, in Qingdao.
• China will take part as a partner country in the 2015 CeBIT, the world’s leading expo for information technology, in Hanover.

China and Germany will strengthen exchanges in the financial sector and upgrade longstanding cooperation in manufacturing with a slew of deals signed on Monday.

Beijing will grant Berlin an 80 billion yuan ($12.9 billion) quota under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors plan to accelerate the internationalization of the Chinese currency, reinforcing Frankfurt’s status as a yuan clearing center in Europe, in addition to London and Paris.

A high-level financial dialogue will also be set up to boost financial cooperation, Premier Li Keqiang said at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

President Xi Jinping told Merkel during their meeting, “The series of agreements you have signed during your visit to China will bring new impetus to bilateral ties.”

Xi suggests the two countries take bigger steps in their cooperation, with manufacturing industry as the core.

Merkel said Germany would improve its investment environment and attract more Chinese investors.

She is accompanied by a high-profile business delegation including executives from Siemens, Volkswagen, Airbus, Luft-hansa and Deutsche Bank.

Apart from the financial deal, the countries also signed deals on automobiles, aviation and telecommunications.

China approved London joining the RQFII plan in October, granting investors the right to use the yuan to buy up to 80 billion yuan worth of mainland stocks, bonds and money market instruments.

It later granted Paris the same quota in March.

Luxembourg is also lobbying Beijing for the same treatment after it signed an agreement with China’s central bank for yuan clearing arrangements on June 28.

Li Jianjun, a financial analyst at Bank of China’s International Finance Research Institute, said the competition for offshore yuan centers among major European cities is a healthy feature of cooperation.

“The renminbi is still at the initial stage of internationalization. We are expanding the offshore yuan pie and setting up a global network with overseas financial markets. Allowing qualified foreign institutional investors to use the yuan will benefit China and other countries,” Li said.

Chinese leaders are likely to take Frankfurt as a core center for renminbi clearing services in continental Europe, while establishing secondary yuan clearing sites in Paris and Luxembourg, Li said.

“We cannot cover a wide range and a large amount of renminbi-related businesses with only one center,” Li said. “With Frankfurt as a leading offshore yuan-trading city, we will create a nice layout for renminbi internationalization in Europe.”

In the first five months of 2014, Germany’s direct investment in China reached $810 million, or 30 percent of the $2.69 billion investment in China by all members of the EU, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In 2013, two-way trade between the countries reached $161 billion, taking up almost one-third of total China-EU trade.

China is Germany’s largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

Merkel’s visit, her seventh trip to China, came only four months after the last meeting between leaders of the two nations. President Xi Jinping visited Germany in March.

Before flying to Beijing, Merkel stopped at Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

Merkel said she felt the dynamics and development of southwestern China in Chengdu, where urbanization is urgently needed to catch up with coastal cities.

“China’s vigor stays not only on the coastline but also in the central and west area,” she said.

Sebastian Heilmann, president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, said in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle: “Germany provides China with products it needs for industrialization, for example ,machines, specialty chemicals and electronic goods. On the other hand, Chinese consumer goods with very reasonable prices are in high demand in Germany.”

Ren Baiming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce, said Germany, as well as the European Union at large, need a driving force from the outside for growth, and the fast-growing Chinese market meets that need.

Wu Jiao contributed to this story. – By ZHAO YINAN and JIANG XUEQING (China Daily)
/Asia News Network

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Malaysia’s flight MH370 mistakes reflect stagnant politics; Bad apples in NZ sex crime..


Malaysia is poised to escape the middle-income trap, but also ready to fall back into it.

Normally the middle-income trap refers to countries with per capita GDP ranging from $1,000 to $12,000. GDP per capita in Malaysia already reached $1,000 by 1977, and $11,000 by 2013. After ups and downs over almost four decades, it seems Malaysia could walk out of the middle-income trap very soon.

Nonetheless, according to the Asian Development Bank that created the concept, GDP per capita is only a superficial indicator. The more accurate definition of the middle-income trap is that when a country enters the ranks of middle-income countries, a series of problems emerge, including rising labor costs, a lack of technological innovation, and subsequent economic stagnation.

There are two aspects of the definition: rising productivity and good governance. The essence of governance here means encouraging reasonable competition to maximize the value of talent and give boost to innovation.

MH370 mistakesMalaysia’s poor response following the disappearance of flight MH370 reflected the fact that the country is still way behind in terms of governance. Behind the chaotic information are the flaws in Malaysia’s system of governance.

There are both systematic and cultural reasons behind Malaysia’s poor governance. But it is more related to the lack of secularization.

One driving force in the rise of Malaysia’s GDP per capita has been the export of abundant raw products such as oil and rubber.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, with Malays making up 68 percent of the population, Chinese 24.6 percent, and Indians 7 percent. According to the law, Chinese Malaysians, who were historically dominant in the economy despite their smaller numbers, cannot take positions as top leaders; and Malays must make up two-thirds of ministers and parliamentary members, and three-fourths of civil servants.

Malays also enjoy special policies in other fields such as college admission and civil servant recruitment. Malays even enjoy a higher quota in the issuing of taxi operation licenses.

Some Malays simply acquire the licenses and rent them to Chinese, collecting unearned income.

This rigid system which shows special care for Malays, to a certain extent, helps different ethnic groups to stay in their own places and thus boosts social stability. But this also closes the channel for upward mobility because it fails to provide a reasonable platform for competition.

The special privileges enjoyed by Malays give leeway for corruption. And in terms of governance, these privileges translate into a conservative group with vested interests and a lack of talent.

The modernization of Malaysia’s governance is also related to Islamic modernization.

In 2001, then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad announced that Malaysia was a Muslim country. Current Prime Minister Najib Razak also declared in 2007 that Malaysia has never been a secular country.

Even today, some states in Malaysia still maintain elements of Sharia law. Different religious populations have different civil laws, even when living in the same place.

Islam is not a negative element. However, integrating religion with the law and politics rather than separating them may cause social conservatism and isolation.

In fact, this is a misinterpretation that sees Malaysian politics as strictly controlled by the elite. What’s dysfunctional is not elite politics itself, but a rigid, dull system that is responsible for selecting the political elite.

Malaysia is determined to enter the ranks of developed countries by 2020. But judging from its handling of the MH370 incident, Malaysia’s modernization will take far longer than this.

Source: By Ding Gang Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-19

Bad apples -Malaysian envoy in NZ sex crime 

NZ Sex crime_Muhammad Rizalman

 

Malaysian envoy in NZ sex crime named

A photo of the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand. 
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian diplomat who is at the centre of an alleged sexual assault case in New Zealand has been identified as Muhammad Rizalman Ismail.His identity was allowed to be revealed after media organisations challenged a judge’s decision to grant permanent name suppression, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

The identity of Muhammad Rizalman, 38, who worked at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, was previously concealed due to a immunity order imposed by a Wellington District Court judge on May 30.

However, the High Court at Wellington today held an emergency hearing to overturn the immunityruling and it was successful.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it will not waive Muhammad Rizalman’s diplomatic immunity just yet. But they are prepared to do so, if necessary, so that the suspect can be prosecuted under the New Zealand law, its Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said.

He said the Malaysian government is committed in ensuring the transparency of the investigation of this case.

“If it is absolutely necessary that we think it is best to (waive his immunity) we will do it without hesitation,” he told a press conference in Wisma Putra here today.

NZ Sex crime_Muhammad Rizalman1
Anifah also said, the Malaysian government has confidence with the Defence Ministry’s (Mindef) board of inquiry (BOI) that they will communicate with the New Zealand authorities, adding that they will not hesitate to take stern action against the suspect.”Mindef will not hesitate to act under the Armed Forces Act 1972, if it is proven beyond doubt that Muhammad Rizalman is responsible and guilty of the offense as charged,” he said.

He said the waiver would be deemed necessary when New Zealand requested for Muhammad Rizalman’s return, out of belief that the investigations in Malaysia were not done properly.

However, he informed that it was the New Zealand authorities who had allowed the man to be brought back to Malaysia in May.

Besides that, Muhammad Rizalman has also undergone medical checks at the Mindef Medical Centre on May 29 which include physical and mental tests.

Anifah said blood and urine tests were also conducted and the results were satisfactory. Muhammad Rizalman is now at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital to have his mental and emotional health assessed.

On the Malaysian High Commission’s website in New Zealand, Muhammad Rizalman, who had previously claimed diplomatic immunity, is listed to be Defence staff assistant, with the rank of a warrant officer II.

The man was arrested after he allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman to her house on May 9 and attacked her.

Sources: Astro/The Star/Asia News Network

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Global bank profits hit US$920bil, China accounted for 1/3 total; Globalized RMB to stabilize world economy


LONDON: China’s top banks accounted for almost one-third of a record US$920 billion of profits made by the world’s top 1000 banks last year, showing their rise in power since the financial crisis, a survey showed on Monday.

China’s banks made $292 billion in aggregate pretax profit last year, or 32 percent of the industry’s global earnings, according to The Banker magazine’s annual rankings of the profits and capital strength of the world’s biggest 1,000 banks.

ICBCLast year’s global profits were up 23 percent from the previous year to their highest ever level, led by profits of $55 billion at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). China Construction Bank, Agriculture Bank of China and Bank of China filled the top four positions.

Banks in the United States made aggregate profits of $183 billion, or 20 percent of the global tally, led by Wells Fargo’s earnings of $32 billion.

Banks in the eurozone contributed just 3 percent to the global profit pool, down from 25 percent before the 2008 financial crisis, the study showed. Italian banks lost $35 billion in aggregate last year, the worst performance by any country.

Banks in Japan made $64 billion of profit last year, or 7 percent of the global total, followed by banks in Canada, France and Australia ($39 billion in each country), Brazil ($26 billion) and Britain ($22 billion),The Banker said.

The magazine said ICBC kept its position as the world’s strongest bank, based on how much capital they hold – which reflects their ability to lend on a large scale and endure shocks.
china_construction_bank
China Construction Bank jumped to second from fifth in the rankings of strength and was followed by JPMorgan , Bank of America and HSBC .

ICBC, which took the top position last year for the first time, was one of four Chinese banks in the latest top 10.

Wells Fargo has this year jumped to become the world’s biggest bank by market value, after a surge in its share price on the back of sustained earnings growth. Its market value is $275 billion, about $75 billion more than ICBC.

The Banker said African banks made the highest returns on capital last year of 24 percent – double the average in the rest of the world and six times the average return of 4 percent at European lenders.- Reuters

Globalized RMB to stabilize world economy

RMBBEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) — The globalization of the yuan, or renminbi (RMB), will not only benefit the Chinese economy, but generate global economic stability, a senior banker has said.

The yuan did not depreciate during the 1997 Asian financial crisis or the 2008 global financial crisis, helping stabilize the global economy, Tian Guoli, chairman of the Bank of China, said at a forum in London last week, according to the Friday edition of the People’s Daily.

China’s economy ranks second in the world and its trade ranks first, so it is thought that use of the RMB in cross-border trade will be a mutually beneficial move for China and its trade partners.

The yuan has acquired basic conditions to become an international currency as China’s gross domestic product took 12.4 percent of the world’s total and its foreign trade 11.4 percent of the world’s total in 2013, Tian said.

According to the central bank, RMB flow from China hit 340 billion yuan (55.74 billion U.S. dollars) in the first quarter of 2014, replenishing offshore RMB fluidity. The balance of offshore RMB deposits hit 2.4 trillion yuan at the end of March, 1.51 percent of all global offshore deposits. Offshore trade between the yuan and foreign currencies doubled in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of last year.

Analysts widely forecast five steps in RMB internationalization: RMB used and circulated overseas, RMB as a currency of account in trade, RMB used in trade settlement, RMB as a currency for fundraising and investment, and RMB as a global reserve currency.

Already, some neighboring countries and certain regions in developed countries are circulating RMB, indicating the first step has been basically achieved.

Data provider SWIFT’s RMB tracker showed that in May, 1.47 percent of global payments were in RMB, a tiny amount compared to the global total but up from 1.43 percent in April. This indicated progress in the second and third steps.

Some countries in southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa have or are ready to take RMB as an official reserve currency. It indicated the fourth and the fifth steps are burgeoning.

Investors are also optimistic about RMB globalization. Bank of China’s global customer survey shows that over half of the respondents expect RMB cross-border transactions to rise by 20 to 30 percent in five years. And 61 percent of overseas customers say they plan to use or increase use of RMB as a settlement currency.

Li Daokui, head of the Center for China in the World Economy under Tsinghua University, said RMB internationalization is a long-term process and should be made gradually based on China’s financial reforms, including freeing interests and reforms on foreign exchange rates.

Dai Xianglong, former central bank governor of China, forecast that it will take about 10 to 15 years to achieve a high standard of RMB internationalization.

Among the latest moves toward RMB internationalization is the naming of two clearing banks to handle RMB business overseas.

The central bank announced last Wednesday that it has authorized China Construction Bank to be the clearing bank for RMB business in London, and the next day named the Bank of China as clearing bank for RMB business in Frankfurt.- Xindua

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It pays to be stern


Fathersday_stern

I AM writing this in response to the article “Hats off to a strict father” written by Nithya Sidhhu (Here:  Hats off to a strict father ). The article really resonated with me.

All my three children, have always viewed me as a strict father.

Their complaints have never failed to make me feel that it was wrong for me to be such a strict father.

Like the writer, my eldest daughter also smarted under my regimen and in fact, complained to many of her friends that I was too harsh.

I felt that she did not understand the fact that I was actually intent on moulding her to become a person who would be ready to face life’s harsh realities one day.

Feeling misunderstood added to the guilt that grew in me.

That is why I felt immensely relieved when I read the article especially the words: “You may not appreciate it now but the discipline will help you in the future.”

Upon reading the article, I sent it to my eldest daughter who is currently studying in India.

Her reply really touched me because she said: “Appa (father) it was only after coming to college that I realised your strict ways were meant for my own good.”

Since it was Fathers Day, she sent me a picture with the quote: “The reason why a daughter loves her Dad the most is because there is at least one man in the world who will never hurt her. I love you, Dad”.

Both the article and my daughter’s message have succeeded in finally getting rid of the guilt within me.

Some fathers can’t help being strict but let me stress that they have their children’s best interests at heart.

The post is contributed by KARUNANITHY SUBBIAH Kuala Lumpur The StarEducate Sunday 22 June 2014.

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Hats off to a strict father


Fathersday_strict

 

The writer pays tribute to the man whose strict code of rules and ethics have guided her over the years and attributed to her personal and professional goals.

I CAME across the following quote by illustrator Victor Devlin recently. It goes: Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mould them until they know all he knows. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this.

When I read his words, I thought to myself: “That sounds exactly like my father!”

Seriously, aren’t we who we are because of the way we were brought up? In my case, I must say it was that my father who shaped my character and my will. He was the most dominant force in my childhood years.

As a teacher, I’ve had students complain to me that their fathers were tough on them. I’d say to them in consolation, “You may not appreciate it now but the discipline will help you in the future”.

Children of strict fathers – yes, we exist.

When I was growing up, I have to admit though that I felt stifled by my father’s autocratic ways. Often, I bristled with inner rebellion when he was demanding and harsh.

But, it was his relentless pursuit for my learning and development that laid the core of steel I now have within me. Even my passion for realising both personal and professional goals springs from the firm resolve that he girded in me.

Values (and the right ones at that) were what he embedded in me. Integrity, determination, perseverance, diligence, responsibility and accountability: my father marched for years in a policeman’s boots that bore these very studs!

When I became a teacher, I found myself following my father’s example. I chose to be a strong, capable and respected individual.

But, I had no desire to be as hard as him. Therefore, the one important concession I made to myself was to temper my strict ways with traits of love, understanding, compassion and kindness.

For me, the “yin” and the “yang” of this combination are what made the crucial difference in my success as a teacher.

Nonetheless, the hardy principles taught by my father served me time and time again as I faced one challenge after another in the 26 years I trudged through the blackboard jungle.

When I was teaching in a large urban school once, a man came to see me to find out whether his son’s performance was good enough to apply for a premier college overseas.

Handing me his business card, he told me was that he was the head of a finance company. Assessing me rapidly with his eyes, he said, “My job takes me away from home a lot. But I want only the best for my son.”

Talking brusquely, he made no bones about the fact that he had both the means and the desire to send his son overseas to study. “It will make him independent,” he explained. When I spoke about his son’s potential and ability to succeed, the man listened quietly.

Cracking the whip

After I was done talking, he gave me another appraising look and then admitted, “I don’t get along very well with my son. He thinks I’m too strict. But, I know it’s important that I crack the whip now. If not, we will both regret it later.”

And then he shook my hand and left. No smile. No pleasantries.

Watching him leave, not only did I understand him, I understood him perfectly.

My student would inquire later how the meeting went. I assured him that it went well.

But in thinking about his father, I knew I hadn’t told the inscrutable man that his son was, in fact, a difficult student to deal with.

At times, in handling this boy, even I was filled with despair. What was to become of him? What could I do to help him? And, could I even really be of any help?

But, I neither lowered my standards for the boy nor gave up on him. As far as I was concerned, he had both the intelligence and ability to go far in life. He just wasn’t trying hard enough.

After meeting his father, I began to suspect that this boy’s reluctance to shape up was probably an act of retaliation against his father’s coldness.

In requiring good work of him, this student would often say churlishly to me, “Why are you so hard on me?”

And I would reply sincerely, “Because I really believe that you have it in you to do better work.”

But unlike his father, I showed this boy my “softer” side as often as I could. I would say pleasantly, “You know, I do care a lot about you. And, you perform surprisingly well when you take the trouble to do so.”

Once, I even told him: “Listen, I had a difficult time with my father too but he made me a successful person. Give your old man a break and put in some effort.”

Although he avoided me often, I pursued my goals relentlessly. I was after all, my father’s daughter, and if there is one imprint he left on me — to be persistent.

Finally, persuaded and encouraged to believe in himself, the boy began to turn the corner. After that, it was a joy to teach him – really it was!

He came to see me often and we talked about all sorts of topics – girls, music, books, politics and even photography.

I praised his good attributes and his honest attempts to improve, not once, but many times, because I knew his father could not and would not.

As a teacher, it was my responsibility and duty to do so, therefore I did it.

Reform and learning

My father believed in the power of reform through education. As a teacher, I too believe that all students are capable of learning. Therefore, a teacher’s push really matters.

By the way, I am not alone in thinking along these lines. Have you by any chance read Andre Agassi’s 2009 autobiography Open? Well, this former Wimbledon tennis world champion has faith in the same maxim.

After he retired from playing professionally, he launched the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation. In 2001, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K-12 public charter school for at-risk children. The 26,000-square-foot education complex that carries Agassi’s name places a huge emphasis on excellence. Agassi’s goal in hiring teachers is to procure men and women who are “sharp, passionate and inspired” and “willing to lay it on the line” and “get personally involved”.

He asks one thing and one thing only of his teachers: That they believe fervently that every student can be a learner.

Agassi hit a resounding shot when he said: “It sounds like a painfully obvious concept, self-evident, but nowadays it’s not.”

See what I mean? I’d add another adage: Do your best and God will do the rest. As teachers, we are bound by convention and limits but we still have to set, pursue and then reach the right goals. The minute teachers give up, the kids start falling like bowling pins. My father hammered this home because he could not and would not tolerate it when I said: “It can’t be done!”

Upon hearing this explanation, his answer was always the same: “Stop making excuses! Just admit that you didn’t work hard enough!”

Ah, what a great man he was because I do know now that his strict vigil did work wonders. Happy Fathers Day!

Contributed by Nithya Sidhhu Sunday StarEducate

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FIFA World Cup gambling on the go, technologies got smarter


Fifa-world-cup-2014


KUALA LUMPUR: Illegal betting for this year’s World Cup is set to hit a record high – thanks to smart technology which will allow punters to place bets from anywhere and at anytime.

Federal Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division (D7) principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Roslee Chik said the total bets for the last World Cup in South Africa four years ago amounted to more than RM438mil nationwide.

“We expect this year’s tournament to surpass that amount as syndicates and gamblers are using smartphones rather than laptops.

“In the 2010 World Cup, we only had to deal with syndicates and gamblers using laptops but now smartphones have become the tool of the bookies,” he said.

Some of the gambling apps that are easily available are M88 Sports, IBCBET and SBOBET.

“We have started preparations in the last three weeks and we are ready to come down hard on anyone involved in illegal football betting,” SAC Roslee told a press conference in Bukit Aman yesterday.

Betting on football matches is illegal in Malaysia and even those who place bets on betting websites that are legal in other countries will face action.

Johor police have also set up a taskforce in every district to check on gambling activities and will focus on premises such as cybercafés and restaurants that offer live matches.

Johor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff had these words of advice for those likely to get into bigger trouble by borrowing from loan sharks: “Just enjoy the games. There is no need to bet.”

Sabah police have set up eight teams for the Ops Soga 5 to combat football betting activities.

State CID chief Senior Asst Comm Omar Mammah said the police did not want to reveal details of their operations so they could catch the bookies and the gamblers by surprise.

According to SAC Roslee, although police arrested 143 people in 2010, including bookies and those who placed bets, most of them could not be prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

The youngest among those arrested was 15 and the oldest was 73. There were also 22 women and nine Indonesians.

He added that a total of 270 premises were raided nationwide during the month-long tournament and RM110,124 seized.

“We have learned some lessons and have improved our strategies.

“We will use the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Act 2001 (Amlata) and enforcement will be more stringent,” he said.

SAC Roslee said bets for the World Cup would increase as the tournament progressed, with the stake getting higher for the quarter-final, semi-final and the final.

It is learnt that a minimum bet could from between RM200 and RM300 and they could go up to hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

SAC Roslee vowed the police would use the Prevention of Crime Act to catch syndicate members as a last resort.

“We will also work closely with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission to identify illegal gaming facilities and websites,” he said.

SAC Roslee added they were also looking into amending existing gambling laws, to enable the authorities to have more bite against illegal gambling syndicates as syndicates are using the Internet with servers based overseas.

“It is hard to get cooperation from the authorities in countries where gambling is legal,” he said.

- Contributed by Farik zolkepli, Yuen Meikeng, Randeep Singh, Aida Ahmad, Stephanie Lee, & Farhaan Shah

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Football Every Day Webcast to keep up with the samba beat

PETALING JAYA: The greatest show on earth has kicked off and the Football Every Day Webcast will be keeping up with the samba beat on a daily basis throughout the tournament’s duration.

With seasoned faces as well as fresh ones, join football crazy fans Zack Yusof, Daryl Goh, Ian Yee, Brian Martin and Nelsen Ng as they get together to run the rule over each day’s matches.

This time around, viewers and footie fans alike stand a chance to walk away with a pair of the latest Adidas Battle Pack Footwear worth up to RM800 and dining vouchers from SOULed Out.

To win, simply send us your most wacky and creative photo or video selfies of you and your friends enjoying the World Cup.

Entries can be submitted by email to football@thestar.com.my or via Twitter at @switchup.tv. Make sure to include your full name, IC and contact numbers.

The Star’s Football Every Day webcast can be viewed at www.Switchup.tv.

Smartphones causing a spike in betting among youth

PETALING JAYA: Internet gambling has become more rampant among young people, especially since it has become so easy to bet using smartphones.

Those aged between 17 and 30 now make up 75% of online gamblers. The other 25% consists largely of those aged between 31 and 42.

Data from Gamblers Rehab Centre (GRC) Malaysia received between 2007 and last year show that the number of online gamblers who received counselling have increased from just 16 cases in 2007 to 112 last year.

“We received an average of 120 gamblers seeking help from us every year.

“Due to the popularity of smartphones, internet gambling has become more common,” said the GRC in a statement.

“There is no age minimum and it is open to everyone. The only qualification is the amount of money one has in the account,” it said.

The GRC said online gambling on credit was operated by illegal syndicates that set up their own websites and appointed agents to get clients to open trading accounts.

“They will give their clients credits to bet. This type of gambling is very popular, especially among school students,” it said.

Any losses or wins would be transacted via the account on a fixed day of the week.

“Since it does not require any cash deposit, it causes many to lose control and fall into the whirlpool of gambling.

“In order to win back lost money or to repay their debts, clients tend to borrow money from loan sharks, who in fact, are partners in the whole operation,” the GRC said.

However, there are a few types of online gambling games which do not involve money and are found on Facebook, said GRC, adding that such games might encourage some to move on to “real” online gambling.

The GRC has conducted awareness seminars in schools and other places to prevent people from picking up the habit.

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Foreign tech firms pose threat on Internet; World’s largest Internet hacker


Foreign Tech firms_ThreatsCompanies asked by Washington to use online services to spy on customers

Foreign technology services providers such as Google and Apple can become cybersecurity threats to Chinese users, security analysts said, one week after China announced that it will put in place a security review on imported technology equipment.

Other major tech companies, such as Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and Facebook, were required by the US National Security Agency to transfer their users’ information, according to Wan Tao, founder of Intelligence Defense Friends Laboratory, an independent institution focusing on cybersecurity in China.

Wan said that online services have become a major way for the US to steal information globally.

Foreign tech firms pose threat on Internet

Foreign tech firms pose threat on Internet

Ning Jiajun, a senior researcher at the Advisory Committee for State Informatization, said, “Previously, the US asked companies to install wiretapping software on their technological products, but if users found and shut down related functions, its ‘plan’ would fail,” he said.

For instance, information on a Chinese organization can be stolen when it places an order on an international shopping website, he said.

With technologies such as cloud computing and big data getting popular, information can be collected and analyzed immediately, which means the damage can be much greater and more difficult to prevent, analysts said.

“It can be said that those who master online services can get more information in cyberspace,” said Du Yuejin, director at the National Engineering Laboratory for Cyber Security Emergency Response Technology.

Last month, China’s Internet Media Research Center issued a report saying the NSA makes use of large technology companies for its wiretapping plans, including Prism, which was unmasked by former NSA intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, asking them to collect information on their users and urging them to hand in the data regularly.

The report also said that the NSA has taken iOS and Android, two leading mobile operating systems applied to iPhone and Samsung, as the “gold mine” of data.

The NSA grabbed users’ information and stored most of it for analysis by invading database and communication networks of Yahoo and Google, while it has also controlled applications on smartphones with Britain, said the report released at the end of May.

“The US, in fact, could get these users’ information or conduct the wiretapping by attacking the network instead of ‘cooperating’ with the enterprises, but it might take more time and money,” said Wan.

The actions of the NSA have put huge pressure on US technology companies, as customers from Paris to Sao Paulo and from Beijing to Berlin worry about their privacy being invaded.

US President Barack Obama held two discussions with CEOs of major US technology companies in the past six months about the NSA snooping, which led to a “reform” of the NSA to focus on protecting US citizens’ privacy, but with little improvement on foreign organizations and citizens.

In May, John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, wrote a letter to Obama urging Washington to stop using the company for surveillance of its customers, according to an Al Jazeera report.

Foreign tech firms pose threat on InternetWeb security firms pledge to patch XP ‘vulnerability’ 

Foreign tech firms pose threat on InternetIBM ‘unaware’ of server ban 

- Contributed By CAO YIN (China Daily)

World’s largest Internet hacker

The spying actions of the US have underscored the urgency of formulating common rules for activities in cyberspace

Last month, the United States Attorney-General Eric Holder announced the indictments of five Chinese military personnel on cyber espionage charges, accusing them of hacking into US companies in the nuclear power, metals and solar products industries. This has seriously compromised relations with China and sabotaged the bilateral cybersecurity cooperation that had been put back onto a normal track after overcoming setbacks.

With the indictments, the US has tried to present itself as the largest victim of cyberattacks, when in fact it is the Cold War mentality and troublemaking of the US that have precipitated the instability and insecurity in cyberspace. If the US doesn’t change its behavior, all peoples in the world may become victims of Internet insecurity.

In June 2013, Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Bureau contractor, revealed US intelligence agencies were conducting large-scale network spy programs, such as PRISM, Xkeyscore and others, across the world. His disclosures indicated the omnipotence of the US’ Internet surveillance and cyberattacks, which range from spying on communication metadata and backbone networks to the monitoring of short message services, instant messaging and video chats; from spying on ordinary people to spying on enterprises, universities, military units and even heads of state, not to mention the revelations about the US’ cyber warfare capabilities.

Aside from its cyber command that has been rapidly growing, the US’ marine, land and air forces have also set up their own cyber headquarters. Cyber combat capabilities are already regarded as part of the weaponry of the US’ fighting forces. A series of US cyber combat programs have been revealed, from Stuxnet to Fslame and X-Plan, all of which indicate that the US has mastered more complicated means and more threatening abilities than other countries in terms of cyberattacks.

The latest indictments against the five Chinese military personnel have also reminded people of a series of previous cyber espionage claims against China by the US. In February 2013, Mandiant, a US cybersecurity firm, released a report accusing China’s military of plotting hacker attacks against US enterprises. After that, many in the US, including the president and senior government officials, expressed a tough stance toward China and threatened economic sanctions against it. Some even suggested that US enterprises “hacked” by China should make cyber counterattacks in retaliation. Such groundless accusations of Chinese cyberattacks have drastically tainted the US’ domestic political environment toward China and also frozen cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries.

The Chinese government has consistently advocated a new type of major-power relations with the US, and it has refrained from overreacting to Washington’s “threatening signals”. Even after the Snowden revelations, the Chinese government still adhered to the principles of no-conflict, no-confrontation, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation, and it is actively pushing for cooperation with the US in cybersecurity and working for the establishment of a cybersecurity work panel under the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue framework.

All the evidence indicates that it is the US that is the world’s largest Internet hacker and that the global cyber arms race triggered by the US’ actions poses the largest threat to global cybersecurity. The US has so far cited “for the sake of national security” as the only excuse for its pervasive Internet espionage. The US should know that a country cannot put its national security above the interests and national security of other countries and the basic norms of international relations. The double standards the US has embraced in cybersecurity have damaged its credibility and compromised its image as a responsible power.

To enjoy the dividends of the booming Internet sector and communication technologies, cyberspace must be peaceful, safe, open and cooperative. Cyberspace should not be a field for either a cold or hot war, and the latest developments have once again underscored the importance and urgency for formulating common rules for cyber activities.

The US indictments of the Chinese military personnel are not conducive to global efforts to maintain the stability and security of cyberspace. The US, by taking advantage of its technological and military dominance, has established a cyber hegemony. It is hoped the US can lead the global Internet sector to develop in a healthy direction, as it once spearheaded the progress of Internet technologies for human progress.

- Contributed By Tang Lan (China Daily) The author is deputy director of the Institute of Information and Social Development Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

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