STEM Education for life, part 2


The second part of the series looks at the part STEM has to play in ensuring a better future for all Malaysians.

Stem EducationIN our previous article (Stem education for life to reach new heights )  we talked about the engineering feats of the 20th century, what STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) stands for and some ways to promote STEM among students. In this article, we will talk about the importance of STEM education for key professions and for the future of the nation.

In 2007, 30% of the total tertiary education-age population in Malaysia was enrolled in tertiary education. In 1999 it was 23%. Malaysia targets that by 2020, this total will increase to 50% and out of that 60% will be in STEM. To meet this target, ground work has to start now.

Currently, it is estimated that about 37% of secondary school students are in the Science stream. It is worrying if there is a decline in the number of students enrolling in the Science stream.

If our country is to move forward to compete with the rest of the world and to be sustainable in the future, we need more scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists to manage our natural resources and to look into renewable resources for future growth and sustainability. More talents and more qualified manpower are required to drive the country.

The United States Department of Commerce in the 2013 article STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future (www.esa.doc.gov) stated that “STEM workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries. However, US businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs.” Perhaps this is an indication of a trend that could eventually affect Malaysia as well.

According to an employment website survey in August 2013 based on a year’s data that among the top 10 highest paid jobs in Malaysia, most tend to be technical or science based. At the executive level, those who specialised in medicine, engineering, finance and information technology (IT) generally earned above-average salaries, while those at managerial levels and higher who received better compensations were in the fields of IT, science and engineering.

It was also reported that, out of the top 10 best paying jobs for fresh graduates, seven of the jobs are STEM related (doctors, engineering/IT, geophysics, aviation, actuarial science, IT software, financial services).

Perhaps, with this knowledge in mind, students in schools could be informed to pursue STEM subjects and venture into tertiary education in STEM-related fields of study. Most students in secondary schools have little idea of what to pursue at tertiary level and little knowledge of what career path to take. Perhaps with the knowledge of possible successful careers and pathways in STEM, students could make informed decisions on what subjects to take and that would lead them to more visible outcomes.

Most students have the view that mathematics and science subjects are more technical and difficult subjects to learn and score in exams. Hence, they shy away from choosing the Science stream and this may prevent them from choosing a career in STEM-related fields.

However, if learning is made more practical, fun, methodical and interesting with key fundamental concepts of STEM introduced even from primary school and slowly built up to secondary school, more students would enjoy learning STEM subjects and perhaps perform better in them in lower secondary. This would make the transition into the Science stream easier at Form Four. The grooming of a potential pool of talent has to start from school right up to tertiary level. It might be too late trying to encourage more students into STEM-related studies at tertiary level and by then there might also be too few in the pool to select the best talents from.

STEM education should perhaps be elevated as a national priority, considering the implications for the future. With this in mind, the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), the Malaysian Industry Group for High Technology (MIGHT), the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), and the National Science Centre (NSC) came together to organise the Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair 2014 (KLESF).

The inaugural fair was held in April 2014 and the event, which will be held annually, aims to promote STEM and serve as a decisive step to arrest the declining interest among school students in STEM. KLESF brought together a community of stakeholders, research and education communities, professionals and industry partners to support the Government’s Science to Action (S2A) programme to promote science and technology as the key drivers of innovation, research, development and enterprise for the nation.

KLESF 2014 attracted more than 100 government schools and more than 50,000 visitors comprising mostly school children and teachers.

In tandem with KLESF is the Utar School Mentorship Programme, in which Utar academics work with school teachers in selected needy schools, sponsoring equipment and working with students on hands-on science-based projects, which were showcased during KLESF. The students, in this mentorship programme, learnt to make mini robots and conducted scientific experiments, highlighting the fun aspects of learning Science.

The waves of technological revolutions that happened from the 18th to the 20th century resulted in super highways, integrated multimedia networks, speedy transportation, automation and super crops with bountiful harvests. If we think of the next century and the future to come, a lot needs to be done now.

We now have about seven billion people on earth. The global population could reach nine billion by the year 2050. In 2010, 3.5 billion (50.5%) lived in cities and more are moving into cities each day. This means fewer and fewer people work in farms, growing food that we need, and more infrastructure is needed in the cities to support the growing population. Healthier food, clean water, well-planned housing and clean air are required for better-quality life in the cities.

The level of urbanisation is rising throughout the world resulting in more pollution, depletion of natural resources, global warming and the increasing need to source clean water. Problems are getting more complex and the challenges are greater. The world needs a great pool of talented people especially scientists, architects, engineers and more STEM-based qualified professionals to help with new inventions, seek solutions, soothe this expanding world and solve current and impending environmental problems. Most of all, these talents need to look into renewable energies for the future as our natural resources are being depleted and wasted.

Therefore, it is imperative to keep our youths and students in schools interested in STEM; for our teachers to find more interesting ways of teaching STEM subjects; our parents to encourage their children to discover the wonders of science and for our government to look into policies that promote STEM education and develop a curriculum that will encompass the nation’s future needs.

Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei

Contributed by Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei

The writer, an AAET Fellow, is the vice-president of Research and Development and Commercialisation, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar).  

 Prof Ir Dr Lee Sze Wei
Vice President, R&D and Commercialisation
UTAR

Prof. Dr. Lee Sze Wei was born in Malaysia in 1970. He obtained BEng (Hons) in Electronics and Optoelectronics, MPhil., and PhD from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, UK in 1995, 1996, and 1998 respectively. He was in Multimedia University, from 1999 to 2008 before joining Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Oct 2008. He is currently the Vice President (Research, Development and Commercialisation) and of UTAR. He specializes in telecommunication engineering. He has been involved in various industry-university collaborative research projects and providing training programmes to the industry aimed at updating and upgrading the knowledge and skill of technologists and engineers in the industry. http://crest.my/v2/prof-lee-sze-wei/

Related posts:

It is necessary for the nation to embrace Stem education in order to reach new heights. IT is imperative that schools and educational …

 

 It pays to be stern 

 Hats off to a strict father 

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

Related posts:

While there is no doubt that shooting down MH17 was a grave crime, everything else remains uncertain. ALL the big questions about MH1…
Photo taken on July 17, 2014 shows the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. A Malaysian…
Malaysia is poised to escape the middle-income trap, but also ready to fall back into it. Normally the middle-income trap refers to count…
Related:
MH17_Flights Over Donetak regon

NEW DELHI: An Air India plane flying less than 25km from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 when it was downed had tried to make contact with ..

 

MH17 needs impartial investigation

[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

Related posts:
 

 China will surpass US to become leading superpower – global survey finds it will or already has surpassed the US People the world ov…
 
It is necessary for the nation to embrace Stem education in order to reach new heights. IT is imperative that schools and educational i…
Malaysia is poised to escape the middle-income trap, but also ready to fall back into it. Normally the middle-income trap refers to count…
Photo taken on July 17, 2014 shows the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. A Malaysian…

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

Related article:

Stem education for life to reach new heights


It is necessary for the nation to embrace Stem education in order to reach new heights.

IT is imperative that schools and educational institutions do their part to emphasise the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) to meet the country’s educational objectives for future growth and development and to meet the nation’s 2020 vision.

Stem EducationProf Ewe Hong TatUniversiti Tunku Abdul Rahman vice president (Internationalisation and Academic Development) Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat

This is especially after Malaysia was ranked in the bottom third of 74 participating countries, in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) below the international and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average.

It is with this in mind that Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR ) is taking the initiative to promote and create awareness on the importance of Stem education among students and the community.

In the series of articles from UTAR, Part 1 and Part 2 ( STEM Education for life, part 2 introduces Stem and why such education is necessary for the nation’s development and what the University is doing to promote it.

Engineering gains

During the turn of the century, the National Academy of Engineering of USA (http://www.nae.edu/) did a detailed study and listed the top 20 engineering achievements of the 20th century (www.greatachievements.org) that changed the world.

Of these the prominent ones were computers, aviation, the Internet, air-conditioning and refrigeration, highways, health technologies, laser and fibre optics, water supply and distribution; among many others. Consumers used them daily without realising that these were the results of engineering research and innovation that propelled the world forward.

Therefore, for a nation to continue to develop and grow, it is important to promote and use Stem education as the foundation and propeller of growth.

After all, it is through Stem education that design, discovery and inventions that bring forth life-changing growth and development, have been introduced.

In the 21st century, new innovations have emerged such as renewable energy and resources, Internet of Things (IoT), advanced materials and biotechnology which need new talents to continue to drive growth.

Without a strong foundation in Stem education, these talents will not be groomed to excel.

In the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025 (Chapter 3), Malaysia’s performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) Eighth Grade Mathematics and Science against other countries over three cycles (1999, 2003, 2007), showed that in 2007, there was a marked downturn in both Mathematics and Science scores. In 2003, Malaysia obtained 10th position out of 45 countries for Mathematics and 20th position out of 45 countries for Science.

In 2007, Malaysia obtained 20th position out of 48 countries for Mathematics and 21st position out of 48 countries for Science, thus indicating a declining performance in students’ scores for both subjects.

Malaysia participated in the Pisa assessment for the first time in the Pisa 2009 + exercise and was ranked in the bottom third for Reading, Mathematics and Science, well below the International and OECD average in all the three areas, lower than Thailand.

Therefore, there is a great need to raise the interest and standards in Stem among students, educationists and policy makers in our country to ensure that we remain competitive and relevant in the world market in future.

The National Science Foundation, a leading authority in scientific research and funding in the United States, defines Stem in a broader definition which includes subjects in the fields of engineering, chemistry, computer and information technology science, geosciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy, and social sciences (which includes anthropology, economics, psychology and sociology), Stem Education and learning research.

As indicated in the education blueprint, the case for increased emphasis on Stem education would need several initiatives and steps to be taken across schools in the country.

It is imperative that we need to develop strong fundamentals in Stem starting from primary schools and to create and sustain interests in this discipline.

For a start, it would be a good idea to allow a lot more experiments and hands-on projects in Stem subjects.

Experiential learning 

If we want to promote a society with higher order thinking skills, the exam-oriented paper and format-based school exams need to be complemented with more practical and experiential learning.

Learning science subjects through a textbook is nothing compared to the trial and discovery methods of science experiments.

Through the process of experimenting, trials and discovery, students think, analyse and deduce before coming to a solution; all these thinking processes help to develop higher order thinking.

Students need to learn actively to seek creative solutions and applications and to be inquisitive to foster inventions.

The recent announcement by the Education Ministry to reintroduce practical exams for the SPM science subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Additional Science in 2015, is a move in the right direction.

In addition, the media radio could play a bigger role in promoting Stem.

There could be more focus on Stem and related topics for schoolchildren and even the community, if more films and documentaries on Stem were shown, and how it is important for national growth.

Simple videos could be made on how our everyday resources of food, water, air and energy require qualified engineers, agriculturists, scientists and more to ensure quality, production, convenience and sustainability for the future.

The influence of the internet is pervasive and with Wi-Fi and broadband services increasingly available in many homes and public places, more information can be made available and accessed online.

To promote interest in Stem, perhaps students could be guided towards self-directed learning after school.

Several educational websites support such learning. Massive Open Online Courses (Mooc) are widely available through the web with unlimited participation and many websites provide course materials such as videos, readings and problem-solving papers, while others have more interactive user forums that allow discussions and networking to build a community for students, teachers, professors, and tutors to seek support.

Among the more reliable websites for online courses for students are three more prominent ones such as www.edx.org, www.khanacademy.org and www.coursera.org

EdXoffers free online classes and Mooc from the world’s best universities such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Australian National University and the University of California, Berkeley on subject contents including Computer Science, Mathematics, Sciences, Medicine and more than 200 courses that students could take online and be awarded a certificate.

The support from these reputable universities gives credibility to the courses and is ideal for students at home.

Khan Academy also provides free online materials and resources in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics and even finance and history; mostly of secondary school level that are easily available to students, teachers and anyone interested in learning about simple educational topics which makes learning more fun.

Another website worth looking up is www.coursera.org which provides free online classes from more than 80 top universities (such as Stanford University, Yale University and Princeton University) and organisations around the world on topics covering a wide range of disciplines including science, engineering, medicine and social sciences.

A host of varied educational information is available on the web and most are on Stem subjects and topics that are taught in our schools.

Many of the topics in these websites also talk about scientific principles which are applied to everyday things like electrical appliances, transportation, automobiles, food cultivation and processing which are not only educational but also thought-provoking.

The colours and visuals used, the video and notes are all captivating; making learning so much more fun and engaging.

Even the teaching of simple Mathematics in schools is presented methodically and simply with good visuals and commentary.

The advantage of these online courses is that students canrepeat any part as often as they like until they get it right.

These online courses could perhaps be introduced as supplementary learning to students who can log on after school to learn more and cultivate their interests in Stem.

Perhaps parents and teachers alike can also guide students which will be more informative and educational than Facebook and Twitter.

Contributed by Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat The Star/Asia News Network

The writer, an AAET Fellow, is the vice-president of the Internationalisation and Academic Development, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). This article is the first of a two-part series on Stem Education.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)
Dr. Ewe Hong Tat
QUALIFICATION  BEng(Hons)(Mal), S.M. (MIT), PhD(MMU)
POSITION  Vice President (Internationalisation and Academic Development)Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Science (FES)
RESEARCHINTERESTS  Microwave Remote Sensing, Applied Electromagnetics, Satellite Image Processing, Sensing Network and Intelligent Systems
 CONTACT ADDRESS  Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (PetalingJaya Campus),No. 9, Jalan Bersatu 13/4,
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, MALAYSIA.
 PHONE  +(60)-3-7958-2628 ext 7152
FAX  +(60)-3-7956-1923
 E-MAIL  eweht@utar.edu.my
HT Ewe received his First Class Honours Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Malaya, Malaysia in 1992, and S.M. (Master of Science) degree in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.A. in 1994. He obtained his PhD degree from Faculty of Engineering, Multimedia University, Malaysia in 1999. From September 1994 to April 1997, he was with the Electrical Engineering Department, University of Malaya (Malaysia). In May 1997, he joined Multimedia University (Malaysia) in Melaka Campus and was transferred totheCyberjaya Campus in January 2000 and worked there until Aug 2008. In Sep 2008, hejoinedUniversiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) andiscurrently a Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Science (FES).

Experience Publication 

 
 
Related posts:

 It pays to be stern 

 Hats off to a strict father
 
 

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

Related:

China, Germany pledge to boost cooperation, cement partnership

President Xi met with German Chancellor Merkel and pledged to cement the strategic partnership between the two countries.
China, Germany to promote ties to new progress
China, Germany closer as Merkel visits

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

Related posts:

Australia said the search for MH370 has shifted further south and the aircraft is now believed to have been on autopilot before it disapp…
Video shows man speaking Bahasa Malaysia about going ‘to the battlefield’  KUALA LUMPUR: A chilling video of a Malaysian ridi…

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

Related posts:

Asia the world’s top recipient of FDI  KUALA LUMPUR: Amid scratchy global economic growth, Asia accounts for nearly 30% of global f…

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.

Related posts

You don’t need words to express how you feel when deeds can clearly get the message across BEING close to 1,000km away from home by air…
 What do fathers want?

FATHER’S Day is this Sunday and the “Sweet and chocolaty message for fathers” in The Star the other day has prompted me to put on my thinking cap on what a father wants for his children, the generations to come, and the …
A few days ago, I handed my son a Vinci tablet to try out. This is another well-intentioned product for young children. It comes with pre-installed educational games carefully geared to kids up to about my son’s age (actually …

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

Related post:

You don’t need words to express how you feel when deeds can clearly get the message across BEING close to 1,000km away from home by air…
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,174 other followers