5 Technologies to change property and real estate


In its latest Global Cities 2015 report, real estate firm Knight Frank has highlighted five technologies that will likely change the property sector.

It is remarkable to think that just five years ago no one owned an iPad (launched in April 2010), illustrating how quickly new technology becomes taken for granted today.

This is an example of a technological advance that has accelerated changes in how we work, shop and spend leisure time, with implications for commercial real estate. Some, who previously shopped regularly for books, CDs, DVDs, and video games, now access all these products through their tablet computer.

This has contributed to a reshaping of retail property, and sparked a wave of office-based start-ups that produce apps. Similarly, the popularity of e-shopping has buoyed demand for warehouses. New technology undoubtedly impacts the property market, raising the question, where will change come from next.

Office robots

Development has begun on telepresence robots, whereby a remote worker can log into a droid, traverse the office, see what is occurring, and speak to colleagues. Cleaning robots at home have already taken off. An office service robot that cleans, reloads printers, and performs basic security duties, could be a future extension of this technology. Future office buildings may need storage, recharge and service areas for these droids.

The internet of things

This is where everyday appliances are connected to the internet, so they can be controlled remotely or intelligently monitor how we use the device. For instance, a fridge could monitor its contents, and send the homeowner a suggested shopping list to his mobile phone with a ‘buy’ button. This would add momentum to the rise of e-retail, increasing demand for logistics property. Internet-linked machinery could also result in smart office buildings that partially manage themselves.


When Amazon rolled out plans to deliver small goods by drone helicopters there was initially a sceptical reaction. However, other firms quickly announced they too were testing drone delivery. In the future, logistics properties may come to resemble mini-airports, as drones come and go. EasyJet, the airline, has plans for its maintenance crews to use drones for aircraft inspection. Similarly, the property industry could use drones to inspect buildings.

Driverless car

A computer driven car, using wi-fi to communicate with other vehicles and receive traffic reports, should improve traffic flow and speed up commuting. The result will be a better quality of life in office districts, as efficient traffic movement allows more streets to be pedestrianized, improving public areas and passing trade for retailers. The city will become a more pleasurable experience encouraging people to work, live and shop there.

3-D Printing

3-D printers are being used more often for producing components, but those parts then need to be assembled into a working product, which will require quality control testing. This requires a factory. However, in R&D and specialist manufacturing, 3-D printing is having an impact, bringing down costs on short production runs. Consequently, we could see a wave of ‘start-up’ manufacturers offering bespoke or specialist goods, generating more demand for light industrial units.

For more information: http://www.knightfrank.com/global-cities-index-2015/specials/real-estate-technology/#sthash.l9ozavde.dpuf

By Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru Group.

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Playing angel to startups as some successful Malaysian entrepreneurs made it big – part 2 & 3

How successful entrepreneurs can give back to their younger counterparts

JUST as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes many different players in an ecosystem to raise a successful startup.

And one of the most valuable players in the startup ecosystem are those who have walked the path of an entrepreneur and succeeded in their own right. These players have a wealth of experience and expertise as well as capital to plough back into other budding startups.

Most times, they invest in the capacity of an angel investor.

By definition, an angel investor is an affluent individual who is willing to invest in a company at its earlier stages in exchange for an ownership stake, often in the form of preferred stock or convertible debt.

They typically fill the gap in startup financing between seed funding, likely provided by friends and family, and formal venture capital funding in later stages once the startup has gained some traction.

Angel investors are usually entrepreneurs themselves and have successfully cashed out of their ventures with deep pockets to spare.

Over the years, scores of entrepreneurs, who have tasted hard-earned success, have increasingly been giving back to the ecosystem by reinvesting their time, money and knowhow into other startups.

Unlike other sources of funding such as government grants and venture capital funds, the angel investors’ involvement in startups is vital given their experience in building successful companies.

This would enable new startups to tap into their network and expertise, giving them a higher chance at succeeding.

As some entrepreneurs note, “one entrepreneur betting on another is a great validation of the idea.”

Some Malaysian entrepreneurs who have made their mark in the startup scene have sowed back into the ecosystem. They include the likes of Azrul Rahim, founder of application launcher for PalmOS, Facer, and Mark Chang, founder of JobStreet. com, who recently expressed interest in backing entrepreneurs from underprivileged backgrounds.

MaGic_Angel Network

Notably, like every investment, there are risks involved when investing in early stage startups.

To recap, startups are experimental by nature and therefore are meant to fail several times before they succeed. As such, it is important that angels understand that a high percentage of the startups they invest in may likely fail.

However, as with other types of investment, angel investors should have a portfolio of high growth startups to invest in. And in that basket of startups, a gem or two will return a big reward.

Take Berjaya Group’s Tan Sri Vincent Tan, for example, who is known to make quite a few bets with budding companies.

While not all of them have been known to be successful investments, Tan certainly uncovered a jewel in MOL, which he bought for US$3.2mil (RM10.5mil) in early 2000s and listed on the Nasdaq this year. He reportedly pocketed a cool US$200mil from the listing exercise.

The government is also increasingly encouraging more early-stage private investment in startups with the introduction of the Angel Tax Incentive, which is administered by a unit within Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.

Angels who are eligible for the incentive are high net worth individuals with total wealth of more than RM3mil or high income earners with gross annual income of more than RM180,000.

Angel investing is indeed becoming more visible and formalised with the formation of networks that connect entrepreneurs and angels.

Most recently, local entrepreneur-turn-investor Khailee Ng, who co-founded GroupsMore and SAYS. com, was made managing partner at 500Startups. Through the fund, Ng has invested in multiple companies across the region.

The local startup scene can indeed benefit with the involvement of more angel investors. Entrepreneurs who have achieved their milestones should think of investing in the future and giving back to younger entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs who have been there understand the satisfaction of nurturing another venture.

So if you have succeeded with your company, perhaps it is time to consider investing back into the ecosystem by sharing your expertise and resources as angel investors.

Malaysia has more successful tech startups than many people realise


Investor interest: MyTeksi has managed to raise a total of US$90mil in funding over the past 12 months.

Much has been said about this being the best time to launch and grow startups due to the availability of funding, infrastructure and an accommodating environment.

Additionally, mergers and acquisitions suggest that there is much value to be derived from startups. Foreign corporate moves include the US$966mil (RM3.1bil) price tag that Google paid to acquire navigation app Waze and the US$22bil takeover of messaging app Whatsapp by Facebook.

No doubt, many budding entrepreneurs aspire to follow in the footsteps of these successful startups. In a globalised market, the success of startups is not limited to those with connections to or within the vicinity of Silicon Valley.

With the right experimentation and innovation, a startup can succeed even in a risk-averse culture. It is not impossible for startups to grow rapidly and achieve high revenues in a short time.

But budding local entrepreneurs often lament that there are few local heroes to look up to in order to benchmark the ability of the local startup scene in producing successful ventures.

Although they are few and far between and are generally below the radar, there are some local gems that have scaled up very quickly, attaining regional success in just a few years, and have caught the eye of internationalinvestors.

One such company is MyTeksi Sdn Bhd. The Internet-based taxi booking service provider, which was launched in 2012, has already established a strong presence in Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia under the brand GrabTaxi.

The MyTeksi app has reportedly been downloaded onto over 2.1 million mobile devices with more than 400,000 active monthly users in six countries and more than 25,000 taxi drivers registered with the network.

Most notably, the company has managed to raise a total of US$90mil in funding over the past 12 months, counting US-based Tiger Global Management, GGV Capital and Vertex Venture Holdings as some of its investors.

One of the key reasons for MyTeksi’s success, says co-founder Anthony Tan, is its focus on solving a real social problem. In this case, providing an efficient and safe platform to match taxi drivers and passengers.

Another homegrown startup that is shaking up its field is banking solutions company Juris Technologies Sdn Bhd.

When the company was founded in 1997, co-founder and CEO See Wai Hun said its main agenda was to market a data mining system. But See quickly realised that no one was interested in data mining because people were reeling from the shock of the financial crisis.

Thankfully, she was equally quick at spotting an opportunity to create software for bad debt recovery which would help financial institutions manage their workflow with their litigation team.

Juris was set up with the help of an angel investor but See noted that the company eventually bought back its shares within a few years of incorporation. The team has grown from 10 people when it started to a staff strength of 80 today.

Its product range has also expanded from just a component of the debt recovery software to software for debt collection systems, loan origination systems, credit scoring systems, conveyancing and loan documentation systems.

To-date, 11 banks, 900 lawyers, 200 collection agencies and 100 property valuers are using its systems and See is expecting revenue to hit a high of RM30mil this year.

Most recently, Juris joined the ranks of Endeavor Global Inc’s global network of high-impact entrepreneurs, being the second Malaysian company to do so.

The achievement gives Juris access to global investor network and partnerships that will enable the company to scale up for regional expansion.

Malaysia has seen other startups, including the likes of iMoney, Softspace, FashionValet, Piktochart and TextbookAsia, take flight and achieve success in various fields.

Local entrepreneurs can take heart that some of the action does take place on our home ground. It is possible to nurture the local startup ecosystem to provide startups with a good platform to thrive and contribute significantly to the growth of the country.

With the right combination of policy, infrastructure, funding facility and mentoring, the local startup industry could unlock another key growth driver in our economy.

By Joy Lee



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Malaysia’s residential housing market ‘severely unaffordable’, said Demographia


Chang: ‘For the past few years, HBA has sounded the alarm on the risk of a homeless generation.’

WHEN middle income professionals are unable to afford their own home based on a single income and have to team up with either a spouse or another person to qualify for a mortgage loan, then it is a sign that the unaffordability of our housing market has become critical.

A finding by US-based urban development researcher Demographia reveals Malaysia’s residential housing market is “severely unaffordable”, even more out of reach than residents in Singapore, Japan and the United States.

Demographia’s finding, cited by Singapore’s Straits Times in a report on Oct 14, rates housing as severely unffordable if the median of house price to annual income is 5.1 times.

Malaysia clocked in at 5.5 times, showing many Malaysians continue to be locked out of the housing market, compared with Singapore’s 5.1 times, while the United States’ and Japan’s housing markets were found to be “moderately unaffordable”.

Public interest group, National House Buyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong says Demographia’s report supports HBA’s own finding that house prices, especially in the urban and sub-urban areas, have risen beyond the reach of many average Malaysians.

“For the past few years, HBA has sounded the alarm on the risk of a “homeless generation” made up of a growing number of young Malaysians especially the lower and middle income groups who are unable to afford their own home. When this homeless group grows in number, it can give rise to many other social problems,” he warns.

Siva_house unafforable

Siva: ‘The fact that salaries have not kept up with the upswing in property prices have further worsened … the situation.’

Chang says when even middle income professionals are unable to afford their own home based on a single income, the situation has become critical.

He says unless one is willing to be tied down by a long-term or back-breaking mortgage or mortgages, the high residential prices have rendered buying a house an increasingly uphill task, if not an impossible feat for the many lower income and average Malaysians.

“The skyrocketed prices have driven house buyers to take back breaking mortgages and many needed to combine their income in order to qualify for a mortgage, thus leaving them with very little or no savings after paying the monthly instalments and other basic necessities.

“This will place families at risk as they could fall into a deficit situation if any sudden emergencies happen to either of the borrowers,” Chang says.

He points out the possibility that in the event these borrowers cannot afford to pay their instalments and the banks are forced to auction off their properties, “there is a risk of a property bubble bursting, just like what happened during the sub-prime financial crisis in the US.”

“The borrowers and their dependents will also be faced with financial and emotional crisis that befalls their foreclosed property. Foreclosures can devastate a family’s economic and social standing, leaving them poorer instead,” Chang laments.

Chang says just six years ago it was still possible for a single middle level manager earning RM5,000 a month to buy a new double-storey link house in Kajang for less than RM250,000, and for a single executive earning RM3,000 a month to buy a new condominium in the Old Klang Road area for about RM200,000.

“Today, a new house in Kajang are in excess of RM700,000 but a middle level manager is just earning RM6,000 or thereabout a month. Recent launches of condominiums around Old Klang Road area are in excess of RM600,000, while the average salaries of executives are still around RM3,500 a month,” he laments.

He believes the maximum price that households with an monthly income of RM10,000 should purchase is only RM360,000 (RM120,000 x 3x).

“HBA has always stressed that affordable housing should be priced around RM150,000 to RM300,000, and not more then RM400,000 even for prime locations. Given that annual household income uses the assumption of two working spouses, there is a critical need for properties priced at RM150,000 to cater to single families and adults.

“We urge the government to further lower the threshold of affordable house price to between RM150,000 and RM300,000, and not more than RM400,00 even for prime locations,” Chang adds.

Chang says these houses, with minimum built-up of 800 sq ft and three bedrooms, need not come with fanciful finishing, but have just the bare necessities for a family’s comfort.

Stemming the greed

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) president Siva Shanker concurs that the unaffordability housing issue has become critical over the past three to four years due to the sharp upswing in house prices.

“It was driven by the low entry costs with schemes such as no need for downpayment, developer interest bearing schemes and free stamp duty and legal fees, Although the Government has introduced various cooling measures and more responsible bank lending guidelines which has brought down the number of housing transactions, prices or value of houses still remain high.

“The fact that salaries have not kept up with the upswing in property prices have further worsened the unaffordability situation,” Siva explains.

HBA’s Chang points out the risks posed by “Investors’ Clubs” or “Millionaires Clubs” which are basically syndicated speculators incorporated by some ingenious individuals.

“They work in cahoot with developers, valuers and banks. Speculative buyers may be caught by the latest round of cooling measures. How the situation will pan out will depend on the holding capability of these speculators of which most of them may not have. Come hand-over time when it is time for these “investors” to flip their purchases, there may be a shortage of buyers for these properties, most of which were transacted at inflated and not real market value prices,” he warns.

Siva opines that the imposition of real property gains tax (RPGT) to tax gains from property transactions should be counted from the date of completion of the property and not from the signing of the sale and purchase agreement as what is being practised now.

This is given that it takes three years for high-rise residences to be delivered to buyers upon the signing of the sale and purchase agreement, and two years for landed property. Chang says the severity of the housing crisis for many Malaysians today calls for a workable housing delivery model to be put into action urgently before the problem spills over and cause more social problems in the country.

Housing the people has to be made the top thrust of the government and all possible measures need to be put to work fast and bottlenecks must be promptly addressed.

He says much more can be done to ensure a sustainable and orderly housing market for the people, stressing that holistic and concerted efforts need to be adopted.

“However, very often policies adopted are more for political expediency rather than for the betterment of the people.

“We need a single umbrella to monitor, regulate and police the performance of the various agencies that are entrusted with the role to ensure affordable housing index are met and properly distributed to the deserving ones. They must build the right quantity of the right property, at the right location, for the right populace, and at the right price.

“There must be full transparency on the location, number of units, registration and balloting process to ensure fairness to all eligible buyers,” Chang stresses.

A single database will enable individuals to learn about the availability of the affordable housing in their communities or in the communities they planned to move to, and understand financing options avail to them.

Siva also calls for a central planning and delivery agency to plan and coordinate all the affordable housing needs of the people.

“The whole process should be totally transparent with a master registry to record all the database of applicants and successful candidates. There should also be a moratorium period of up to 10 years to ensure that the successful candidates offered these affordable housing will not be able to dispose these homes for quick profit.

“The federal and state governments should provide the land and other forms of incentives to encourage private developers to lend their support for these affordable housing schemes,” Siva says.

Chang agrees that giving incentives to developers that build affordable housing will motivate them to throw in their support to build more of such housing units, adding that building up the infrastructure connectivity to the still relatively undeveloped areas will make these places more accessible and improve demand for property in those places.

“HBA has proposed to the government to take the lead by unlocking more of its vast land banks to build affordable housing for the people.

“The reason why developers are not chipping in to build more affordable housing units is because of the so-called profit maximisation by industry players. It is either high-rise multiple hundred units or high-end luxury units. Very often it is a combination of both – luxurious high-end units.I have not heard of developers building single-storey terrace houses that were so prevalent in the past. Developers are refusing to build such price and low margin items and will rather focus on higher margin items. With land being a scarce resource, developers will maximise the value of their land banks.

“If the land comes from the federal and state governments, private developers will be more willing to throw in their support to develop affordable housing for those in need,” Chang concludes.

Source: ANGIE NG The Star/Asia News Network

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Brewing a startup – part 1

Magic Logo

In a 10-part series, the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), in collaboration with The Star’s Metrobiz section, explores what it takes to make a great startup ecosystem, beginning with an understanding of what startups are all about.

The Father of Modern Chemistry, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier once said that it is vital “to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation.”

A startup’s journey is not very different, in that it is meant to run a series of experiments before it hits a growth path. According to Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur who developed the Customer Development Methodology, “A startup is an organisation formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”

But what is a business model?

A business model describes how your company creates, delivers and captures value. An entrepreneur is supposed to create a vision for a product that solves a real problem in the world, with a series of assumptions about all the pieces. Who are the customers? How do you sell to them? How do you price and position the product? How do you build and finance the company?

An entrepreneur’s job is to quickly validate whether the model is correct by seeing if customers behave as predicted. Most of the time they don’t. So entrepreneurs are supposed to tweak that business model until they find enough traction to grow into a sustainable company.

Once on a growth trajectory, a startup decides to enter new markets or create new product lines and eventually exits favourably, providing significant returns to investors or venture capitalists.

Like science experiments, a startup is meant to fail several times before it succeeds. It is important that we understand this in order to support local entrepreneurs who are looking to push the boundaries of innovation.

Jack Ma’s e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s recent US$25bil (RM80.7bil) initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, which is the largest in history, proves that Asian entrepreneurs and markets are just as competitive and innovative as those in the US.World largest IPO: Alibaba shows

Another revered Silicon Valley figure, Y Combinator startup incubator founder Paul Graham describes a startup as, “a company designed to grow fast.” He goes on to explain that a startup does not have to be newly founded to work on sophisticated technology or to take venture funding. He emphasised that the only essential thing for a startup to achieve is high growth.

Without high growth, a company is categorised as the more common small- and medium-sized enterprises of mom-and-pop shops, professional services firms, manufacturers, brick-and-mortar businesses, or resellers. They typically grow at a steadier rate, require physical locations, more up-front capital (usually bank loans as opposed to private investments) and are not as scalable (can only serve a limited number of people based on human resource capacity).

The new startups of the 21st century are also admittedly different from the old-school startups of the 1970s, back in the early Microsoft, Oracle and Apple days. Today’s startups are a new breed that leverages the Internet and technology to scale across borders very quickly.

Startups such as Facebook, Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, Uber and Spotify have all achieved billion-dollar valuations in a matter of three to four years.

This signifies that we are in a new era where entrepreneurs are able to very quickly create global products that permeate our daily lives. And these entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, not just Silicon Valley, which is typically the benchmark for startup and innovation ecosystems around the world.

Startups are the main job creators in the US economy, and similarly, it will become the primary growth engine for Malaysia as we seek to become a high-income nation by 2020.

As a nation that is trying to push its own innovation boundaries, we should come together and support our young entrepreneurs and enable them to solve some of the toughest problems in our country and beyond.

Next week: Some of our local startups who have made it big.


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Malaysian Internet users, technology trends, evolution and change in telco industry

MAXIS: Data takes dominance

Maxis' CEO Morten Lundal
Net effect: According to Lundal, productivity for the future depends on the degree of Internet adoption.

When I came to Malaysia last year, I was assuming that I was going back into an emerging market which is a transition from the place I worked (London).”

“But my perception now is that this is actually a very advanced market,” says Morten Lundal, chief executive officer at Maxis Bhd, whose tenure at the company just crossed the one-year mark as of Oct 1.

Among the reasons that he feels differently about the nation’s technological progress is because of the high smartphone and broadband penetration rate.

“Malaysians’ adoption and smartness when it comes to using (mobile) applications is fully comparable with Europe,” he says.

People on our network use about 1GB per month. Some devices use more. Android more than iOS devices, I’ve noticed. We have people on Android using about 1.3GB or so per month. Both on prepaid and postpaid, people are using a lot of data in Malaysia.”

However, he points out that the local e-commerce market has yet to fully develop.

“Companies here are still fairly traditional in the way they operate. People have much more (technologically) advanced experiences personally,” Lundal says.

“This is going to change in the next five years, but it hasn’t come about yet… The corporate sector is lagging behind more mature markets in Europe.”

However, on the whole, he regards Malaysians as being “very savvy.”

In addition to common online activities such as the use of search engines, social networking sites and real-time GPS services like Waze, Lundal has noticed several distinct trends amongst Maxis’ various user segments.

For instance, he says youth between the ages of 18 and 25 years tended to favour mobile games and streaming video services such as YouTube. He also found Asian youth to be more attracted to image based social media sites such as Instagram as compared to their European counterparts.

“The Chinese are driving more online shopping than other segments and that’s quite interesting,” he says, adding that the Malay segment is active on online forums, games, social networking and instant messaging whereas the Indian segment is more focused on sports, news, instant messaging and social media.

As for the older generation, Lundal says they tended to be more “news savvy” and spent a lot of time online surfing news portals.

“They also use much more hobby and personal interest sites which are less important to the youth. So they are the more functional users of the Internet whilst the youth are the social users.”

Meanwhile, the migrant workers segment had an obvious preference for international news, particularly from their respective home countries. They also liked online comics more than most Malaysians.

Internet breeds change

One of the good things that Lundal sees out of the growing mobile networks across Malaysia is that it enables the general population to gain better access to the Internet.

Besides that, he says that “innovation for IP (Internet Protocol) communications is tremendous”.

However, he sees the ongoing buzzword of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a mere cliche.

“I first heard about IoT in 1998, I think. It’s like a very old expression and the enablers have been in place for years, but it really hasn’t happened yet. I think it is going to happen now, but in a five year perspective,” he says.

As the Internet continues to impact the way society operates, Lundal envisions a shift in the way things are done in the corporate and public sector.

“Productivity for the future more or less equals to what degree you’ve adopted the Internet,” he points out.

“As the younger workforce demand a more advanced technological infrastructure where they work, I think this will drive a big change in how enterprises and the government operates.”

Another disruptive trend that Lundal has noticed is the way users are moving away from preprogrammed content and websites.

“It’s fascinating to see how people are choosing very segmented niche content and making that their default,” he says.

In particular, he points out that youth, especially in countries like the United States, are preferring to consume news via late night comedies and social networks instead of through traditional channels.

“This unpackaging and unbundling of these channels will cause a massive societal impact and change.”

Courting change: As disruptive technologies and trends take hold, telcos including Maxis are faced with the challenge of evolving its business to meet the growing needs of its subscribers.

Telco evolution

As these trends continue to take shape, telcos across the globe, including Maxis, are faced with the challenge of evolving its business to meet the growing needs of its subscribers.

“As an industry, we as mobile operators were used to connecting people to our services. Now we connect people to the Internet,” says Lundal.

“We’ve gone from a decade of selling enablers like phones and connections to now really leveraging those enablers to change lives and companies.”

One of the major changes being faced by the industry at the moment is the dwindling emphasis on SMS and traditional voice calls.

“As an industry, we haven’t innovated on SMS… It’s the same product as it was when it was launched which is unacceptable, I would say, from a consumer’s perspective,” Lundal says.

“SMS is declining a lot globally and will be gradually replaced by IP communication. But for now it’s still widely used because when people want to be sure that the communication is getting through, they use SMS.”

In contrast, he says voice calls are also declining in importance, but at a much slower pace than was expected.

Lundal expects to see SMS fading in importance within the next three to five years whereas for voice communications, he feels it would only decline over a span of four to eight years.

In response to that, he says revenue models for mobile operators are changing globally to become more data centric.

“About 99% of our costs are driven by data,” Lundal says. “It’s a very dangerous situation indeed to have your revenues coming from voice (calls) while your costs are driven by data which is why there is a shift all over the world. That’s a bit slower in Malaysia as players are getting weaned off their old habits.”

However, he adds that he does not view this change in product emphasis as a threat, but rather “a transition that we all have to go through.”

Road to improvement

Over at Maxis, Lundal shares that the company is keeping pace with these changes in technology in three ways.

Firstly, it aims to project itself as an Internet showcase within the Malaysian economy.

“We would like to be in the forefront on how we adopt the Internet ourselves,” he explains. “We also want to change how Malaysian companies operate and help them in their process of being digitised.”

His vision for the future is that Maxis ought to be viewed as a mobile app.

“I like to take extreme positions in order to make people think differently,” he says. “I said to management that we should close our website in three years’ time. Not entirely close it, but probably it will morph into something else. The key interactions with our company should be through an app.”

Besides that, Lundal shares that Maxis is working on ensuring it offers an “unmatched customer experience” to its subscribers, calling it the company’s “flagship programme.”

“We have just built a new network for 70% of our customers this year. The rest will have that experience by next year. This is so that when it comes to the speed of data networks and dropped call rates, we will be world class,” he says.

He is quick to point out, however, that “top class doesn’t mean it’s perfect.”

But according to him, the number of complaints directed to Maxis in the past year has decreased by as much as 50%. As for dropped calls, he says it is currently at the rate of one in 300 calls.

“There are two reasons for that: our network is dramatically improving even though it’s not perfect and we have also taken some pretty drastic, proactive measures to make life better for customers by taking away any pay-per-use charges (for data usage).”

He is referring to the MaxisOne postpaid plan here, whereby subscribers of this Internet plan are not charged for their phone calls and SMSes.

As for the prepaid side, the company also offers a free basic Internet connection of 64Kbps (kilobits per second) for its Hotlink product which Lundal claims is fulfilling a need that most users face.

“Most Malaysians prepaid customers are connected to high speed data (networks) only six to eight days per month and they’re buying daily passes. For the rest of the time, they’re unconnected and they’re trying to find a WiFi connection,” he says.

Last of all, Lundal shares that Maxis is transforming the way it operates internally as well.

“We’re going to rid ourselves of this habit of using paper processes and use more Cloud and mobile instead,” he says.

He says Maxis plans to implement a new human resource system that is Cloud based and accessible via mobile. It has also launched a new intranet and social networking platform for its employees.

On the whole, Lundal says Maxis is setting new benchmarks for itself to achieve.

“We don’t compare ourselves anymore (to competition) nationally, we compare ourselves internationally,” he says.

Contributed by Susanna Khoo The Star/Asia News Network

LED lighting technology inventors win Nobel Prize

LED Light-Emitting Diode: red, green, blue, white led lights are available

STOCKHOLM—Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes, a breakthrough that spurred the development of LED technology used to light up computer screens and modern smartphones.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says their invention is just 20 years old, “but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.”

Scientists had struggled for decades to produce the blue diodes that are a crucial component in producing white light from LEDs when the three laureates made their breakthroughs in the early 1990s.

Their work transformed lighting technology, paving the way for LED lights that are more long-lasting and energy-efficient than older sources of light.

“They succeeded where everyone else had failed,” the Nobel committee said. “Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

Akasaki, 85, is a professor at Meijo University and distinguished professor at Nagoya University. Amano, 54, is also a professor at Nagoya University, while the 60-year-old Nakamura is a Japanese-born professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Akasaki said in a nationally-televised news conference that he had often been told that his research wouldn’t bear fruit within the 20th century.

“But I never felt that way,” he said. “I was just doing what I wanted to do.”

Akasaki and Amano made their inventions while working at Nagoya University while Nakamura was working separately at Japanese company Nichia Chemicals. They built their own equipment and carried out thousands of experiments — many of which failed — before they made their breakthroughs.

In a statement from his university, Nakamura said he was honoured to receive the prize.

“It is very satisfying to see that my dream of LED lighting has become a reality,” he said. “I hope that energy-efficient LED light bulbs will help reduce energy use and lower the cost of lighting worldwide.”

The Nobel committee said LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources because about one-fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes.

They are more efficient than older light sources, and tend to last 10 times longer than fluorescent lamps and 100 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.

“The blue LED is a fundamental invention that that is rapidly changing the way we bring light to every corner of the home, the street and the workplace — a practical invention that comes from a fundamental understanding of physics in the solid state,” said H. Frederick Dylla, the executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics.

Phillip Schewe, a physicist at the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland, said the prize shows that physics research can provide a practical benefit, rather than just probing the mysteries of the universe.

On Monday, U.S.-British scientist John O’Keefe split the Nobel Prize in medicine with Norwegian couple May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for breakthroughs in brain cell research that could pave the way for a better understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The Nobel award in chemistry will be announced Wednesday, followed by the literature award on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the economics prize on Monday.

Worth 8 million kronor ($1.1 million) each, the Nobel Prizes are always handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896. Besides the prize money, each laureate receives a diploma and a gold medal.

Nobel, a wealthy Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, provided few directions for how to select winners, except that the prize committees should reward those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”

- Associated Press reporter Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, and Malcolm Ritter in New York, contributed to this report.

Blue LED inventors win Nobel Prize for “energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly light source”

Blue LEDs

CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia

 Incandescent light bulbs have lit the 20th century….

Years ago we said that LEDs are without a doubt the future. But time marches on, and LEDs are not just the future anymore, they’re the present thanks to rapidly falling prices and improving quality. We’ve firmly entered into the LED era, as Lloyd showed with his experience of converting 100% of his lights to LEDs.

The Nobel committee seems to agree. The physics Nobel Prize this year is going to three distinguished scientists – Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura – who invented the blue LED, the last piece of the puzzle that was required for LEDs to truly reach their potential as a mass-market light source.

Why was blue so important? Because without it, we couldn’t make high-quality white light from LEDs.

“Red and green LEDs have been around for a long time but blue was really missing. Thanks to the blue LED we now can get white light sources which have very high energy efficiency and very long lifetime,” Per Delsing, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, told a news conference.


Nobel Prize/Screen capture

…the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps

As you can see on the graphic below, LEDs crush the competition when it comes to efficiency. Most LED lights that you can buy right now are nowhere near the 300 lumens/watt shown here, but this is what we know they are capable of, and over the coming years we should progressively move closer to that target.

About 20% of the world’s electricity is used for lighting. With optimal use of LEDs, that figure could fall to 4%. That’s a really big deal. This represents the equivalent of hundreds of large power plants that would no longer be necessary, and by reducing electricity consumption, it will be easier to switch to clean sources of energy like solar and wind.

Nobel Prize/Screen capture

But energy-efficiency isn’t the only thing. Material efficiency is also much higher for LEDs than the competition. A LED can last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights. This means that only a fraction of the bulbs need to be produced and disposed of over time. In applications like traffic and street lights, it also reduces the need to have crews driving around, burning fuel, just to replace burned out lights.

© Michael Graham Richard

LEDs are not only way more efficient than incandescent technology, which is sadly still by far the most popular out there, but because they emit light more directionally, they can also be better cutomized to various applications. For example, these LED floodlights cost 50% less than the version they replace and cut energy use by 70%.

© Philips

Some cities, like Buenos Aires, have started replacing street lights with LED. Buenos Aires is switching around 100,000 street lamps to LED technology, cutting energy use by 50%. The quality of light is also improved, so that people can better see when they’re out at night.

BY Michael Graham Richard Technology /Clean Technology

Inventors of blue LEDs win 2014 Nobel Prize for physics

The 2014 Nobel Prize for physics is being awarded to three scientists credited with inventing efficient blue LEDs, a development that allowed for the creation of the white LED light sources that are inching toward ubiquity across the globe. Though LEDs of other colors have been around since the mid 1900s, the blue LED proved far more difficult to create as researchers struggled to find a material that would produce blue light. The three researchers being awarded today, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura, recognized that gallium nitride would lead to a blue color and discovered a way to produce the light in an efficient way by adding in aluminum and indium.

Red, green, and blue light needs to be combined to create white light, so the work of Akasaki, Amano, and Nakamura provided the final piece to a long-running puzzle. Since then, white LED lights have increased in efficiency and are slowly becoming more prevalent. “The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids,” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences explains, “due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.” The winners will split a prize of 8 million Swedish Krona, or about $1.1 million USD.

“Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century,” the Academy writes, “the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

By Jacob Kastrenakes The Verge

Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

Reflections on Maritime Partnership

China Maritine Silk Road_ Asean

The “Silk Road” is a general term used to geographically describe ancient Chinese exchanges between Asia, Europe and Africa in the areas of politics, economics and culture. Starting on land and developing on sea, the “Silk Road” is a vehicle of historic importance for the dissemination of culture. The ancient maritime Silk Road was developed under political and economic backgrounds and was the result of cooperative efforts from ancestors of both the East and West. China’s proposal to build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is aimed at exploring the unique values and concepts of the ancient road, enriching it with new meaning for the present era and actively developing economic partnerships with countries situated along the route. Specifically, the proposal seeks to further integrate current cooperation in order to achieve positive effects.

The ocean is the foundation and vehicle necessary to build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is China’s mission to understand the importance of building a Maritime Silk Road and take effective actions at present and for a certain period to come.

21st Century Maritime Silk Road from a Global Perspective

In the twenty-first century, countries have become more inter-connected by the ocean in conducting market, technological and information exchanges. The world is now in an era that values maritime cooperation and development. China’s proposal to build a Maritime Silk Road conforms with larger developments in economic globalization and taps into common interests that China shares with countries along the route. The goal is to forge a community of interest with political mutual trust, integrated economies, inclusive culture and inter-connectivity. The construction of a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a global ini-tiative that pursues win-win results through cross-border cooperation. It is thus of great importance to view it from the perspective of multi-polarization, economic globalization and the co-existence and ba-lancing of cooperation and competition.

Building a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will help stimulate all-round maritime opening-up and benefit ASEAN and relevant countries.

Oceans contain a treasure trove of resources for sustainable development. China is currently at a critical stage in its economic reform process and must pay more attention to the ocean. As mentioned in the resolution of the Third Plenum, “[China] needs to enhance opening-up in coastal regions and boost the connectivity construction with neighboring countries and regions to spur all-round opening-up.”

The Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century will further unite and expand common interests between China and other countries situated along the route, activate potential growth and achieve mutual benefits in wider areas. The Maritime Silk Road will extend southward from China’s ports, through the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda and then along the north Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. In other words, the Road will extend from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and Europe, and it will mainly rely on ASEAN countries. Building the Maritime Silk Road will connect China’s ports with other countries through maritime connectivity, intercity cooperation and economic cooperation. On the one hand, the Road will strengthen the economic basis for China to cooperate with countries along the route and better connect Europe and Asia. On the other hand, the Road will facilitate the development of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), bringing benefits to China, ASEAN and other countries along the road.

The Maritime Silk Road will increase trust and regional peace and stability.

As the world’s economic and political center shifts towards the Asia Pacific, the region has stepped into a stage of geopolitics characterized by intersecting, overlapping and conflicting interests. By facilitating communication between countries along the road, the Maritime Silk Road will help build a community that represents the common concerns, interests and expectations of all countries. The community is expected to guide and support a peaceful and stable Asia Pacific landscape.

Moreover, the Maritime Silk Road will further bring together the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” the “Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor” and the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” that together connect Europe and Asia. Such connections will greatly enhance China and other countries’ abilities to develop economically while limiting external risks. The Maritime Silk Road will also enhance cooperation in non-traditional security areas while maintaining maritime security.

Maritime Partnerships Are the Key to Building the Maritime Silk Road

At a speech before the Indonesian parliament in 2013, President Xi Jinping stated that Southeast Asia has become an important hub for the maritime silk road and that China is willing to enhance maritime cooperation with ASEAN countries, boost maritime partnerships and build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. President Xi’s speech set forth a clear path for developing road. Enhancing maritime cooperation will be a priority task in building the Maritime Silk Road. The first step will involve China and countries along the route promoting pragmatic maritime cooperation.

Connecting multiple regions and uniting wide areas of co-operation, the tasks put forth in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will not be achieved in the immediate future. Instead, these tasks call for China and relevant countries to work in a step-by-step and practical manner. Building the Maritime Silk road will require diverse forms of cooperation. With a focus on economic cooperation, the Road will give consideration to all parties involved. It will be based on the existing cooperation mechanisms and platforms and be promoted by China and other countries along the route.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will cover more than 20 countries and regions that share a broad consensus on enhancing exchanges, friendship, promoting development, safety and stability within the region and beyond. The Silk Road has already received positive responses and support from many relevant countries. Greek Prime Minister Antonidis Samaras, for example, made it clear that Greece will “support and actively participate in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposed by China.” The Road runs through a region that is sensitive to international strategy and has complex geopolitics. The countries in the region differ in size, development, history, religion, language and culture. Therefore, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will accommodate various countries’ demands and apply suitable policies to each country. Meanwhile, the Road must change and consolidate new patterns of cooperation.

China has been building friendships and partnerships with nei-ghboring countries and developing maritime partnerships with its ocean neighbors, providing a solid foundation for cooperation with ASEAN and countries in the region. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road requires the following efforts: First, consensus must be reached between major countries along the route to enhance maritime cooperation. During high-level dialogues in recent years, the Chinese leadership made maritime cooperation an important topic of bilateral discussions and established the China-ASEAN and China-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation Fund. At the same time, China has actively promoted maritime cooperation between Southeast Asia, South Asia and African countries and established high-level mechanisms between various national maritime departments.

Second, countries must engage in pragmatic cooperation along the route in the areas of trade, the economy, culture and infrastructure. In 2012, the trade volume of countries along the route accounted for 17.9 percent of China’s total trade. The contracted turnover in countries along the route accounted for 37.9 percent of China’s overseas contracted turnover. People-to-people exchanges between China and ASEAN recently topped 15 million, while two-way students reached more than 170,000.

Third, countries along the route must engage in effective cooperation on ocean and climate change, marine disaster prevention and mitigation, biodiversity preservation and other areas of maritime policy. In 2010, the Indonesia-China Center for Ocean & Climate (ICCOC) was established. In 2013, the China-Thailand Climate and Marine Ecosystem Joint Lab were both launched. In 2012, the Chinese government set up a Marine Scholarship, and from that year onward, the scholarship will sponsor young people from developing countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America to obtain a master’s degree or doctorate in China to enhance the marine capabilities of their own countries.

Focusing on Developing Partnerships Along the Maritime Silk Road

The Maritime Silk Road is in line with the development of national economies and the improvement of welfare. China must follow the new perspectives on value, cooperation and development featuring equality, cooperation, mutual benefits, win-win results, inclusiveness and harmony. Guided by President Xi’s desire to “expand the scale of cooperation and gradually foster regional cooperation,” China must make use of its comparative advantages and promote communication, connectivity, trade flow, currency circulation and consensus among people. China needs to target common interests between countries along the road and map out long-term plans and execute its plans in a step by step manner.

The Road will connect the Pacific and Indian Oceans. China will focus on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and extending it to the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. By virtue of connecting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the “Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor” and the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” China will build an open, safe and effective maritime road that can facilitate trade, transportation, economic development and the dissemination of culture.

The Road will also make good use of the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund and enhance pragmatic maritime cooperation. By prioritizing cooperation in inter-connectivity, the maritime economy, marine environmental protection and disaster prevention and mitigation, China aims to improve the welfare of countries along the route and share the benefits of the Maritime Silk Road.

The Road will also make use of existing bilateral and multilateral marine cooperation mechanisms and frameworks. By making use of the existing and effective marine cooperation platforms, China will improve the area’s marine partnership network, forge closer ties between countries along the route and finally create a cooperation landscape in which marine resources, industries and culture are all reasonably distributed and mutually reinforcing.

The construction of a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road the development of marine partnerships call for the following measures:

First, it will call for better marine connectivity. Infrastructure connectivity is the priority of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Countries need to focus on building key pathways, points and major projects, and China needs to work with countries along the road to build marine infrastructure, improve law enforcement abilities, provide public goods of marine security and guarantee the security of marine pathways. China needs to support the construction of ports, wharves and information networks to ensure the open flow of goods and information. It must also enhance communication on marine cooperation policies to facilitate marine investment and trade.

Sea lane safety is the key to sustaining the development of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, while ports are the foundation of sea lane safety. Like posts along the ancient Silk Road, ports along the new Maritime Silk Road will act as “posts on sea” that handle cargo and resupply ships and people. Such “sea posts” also must provide safe and convenient sea lanes for all countries to make use of. These posts can either be built by individual countries or built with the help of China and other countries, or even be leased in other counties. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will thus able to cover and drive more countries to create “sea posts.”

Second, it will call for strong cooperation on marine economy and industry. Many countries along the route strategically exploit the ocean, develop their maritime economies and sustain marine development. Strengthening cooperation on marine economics and industry will help push forward modernization and promote the upgrading and optimization of industry. Such cooperation will better integrate China’s economy with those of countries along the route.

Closer cooperation in the marine industry will require domestic industrial restructuring according to market demands, require prioritized cooperation in marine fishery, tourism, desalination and marine renewable resources and require Chinese enterprises in this industry to go global. China encourages enterprises with intellectual property and sophisticated desalination technology, marine renewable resources and marine bio-pharmaceutical technology to invest and build their own businesses in countries along the route.

Relying on existing Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones between China and other countries, as well as marine demonstration zones in Tianjin, Shandong, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong, the government will play a leading role in the initial stages, guide enterprises with mature technologies in iron and steel, shipbuilding, fishery and aq-uaculture to establish production bases and extend industrial chains to countries with rich resources and huge demand.

China needs to work with countries along the route to facilitate regional cooperation, building industrial parks, enhancing investment and cooperation in the marine industry, building marine economic demonstration zones, marine technology parks, economic and trade cooperation zones and marine training bases. Through such industrial cooperation, China will forge an investment cooperation platform in which Chinese enterprises can gain international competitiveness and participate at a higher level of the industrial echelon.

China needs to build a cooperation belt to enhance the marine industry and set up cooperation networks to facilitate marine tourism. A sustainable Maritime Silk Road will not be achieved without the help of port economic zones. As a result, China must develop its port economic zones and free trade zones to provide a platform for the Maritime Silk Road. China will focus on eliminating systematic and mechanistic barriers, lowering market thresholds and facilitating the opening-up of major areas.

Third, it will call for all-round cooperation in marine fields. In recent years, non-traditional security issues such as piracy, maritime terrorism, cross-border crimes and maritime disasters have loomed large. Countries along the route share a common interest in addressing these problems. Naturally, fighting against non-traditional security challenges will become an important part of the Maritime Silk Road. As such, China must promote exchanges and cooperation between countries along the route in the areas of marine technology, environmental protection, marine forecasting and rescue, disaster prevention and the mitigation and climate change.

Putting the “Marine Technology Partnership Plan” into practice. Based on existing marine cooperation centers and observation platforms, China will focus on promoting marine technology cooperation networks and building the China-ASEAN Marine Cooperation Center, the Indonesia and China Center for Ocean and Climate, the China-Thailand Climate and Marine Ecosystem Joint Lab, the China-Pakistan Joint Marine Center, the China-Sri Lanka Marine and Coastal Zone Joint Research Center and other ocean stations.

Building “marine ecological partnerships.” By paying more atten-tion to an ecological civilization, China needs to enhance cooperate with countries along the route to build a green Silk Road that addresses the marine ecological environment and climate change. China must set up an effective dialogue mechanism, map out major projects in which all parties can get involved and make comprehensive plans for regional ecological and environmental protection. China must work more closely with Southeast Asia and South Asia to protect biodiversity, build a cross-border bio-diversity corridor and establish marine conservation areas.

Conducting the regional marine research. By building cooperation networks for marine disaster preparedness, providing marine forecasting products and releasing marine disaster warnings, China will increase marine benefits for relevant countries.

Fourth, it will call for expanding cooperation in marine culture. Marine culture is the foundation of building a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. When talking about the Silk Road Economic Belt, President Xi has stated that “amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states.” He also highlighted the importance of “common aspirations,” given that the Silk Road will be supported by countries only if it is able to benefit people. China will inherit and pro-mote friendly cooperation along the Maritime Silk Road and develop a proposal with international consensus so that marine cooperation and partnerships will be firmly supported.

The plan will also call on countries to increase marine awareness and achieve common aspirations. China needs to make full use of the geopolitics and culture of Maritime Silk Road to promote exchanges in marine culture, tourism and education to make the Road a key link for friendly exchanges. By “going global” and “going local” at the same time, China needs to carry out exchanges and cooperation in marine culture, in areas such as cultural or art exchanges, archaeological exchanges, marine tourism cooperation, education and training.

China will guide and encourage the community to conduct various cultural exchanges and offer tours and products with distinct Silk Road features. In such a way, China will be able to expand the cultural influence of the Maritime Silk Road, push the Road into the new century and promote general marine cultural diversity.


On June 20, 2014, Premier Li Keqiang spoke at the China-Greece Marine Cooperation Forum, stating, “We stand ready to work with other countries to boost economic growth, deepen international cooperation and promote world peace through developing the ocean, and we strive to build a peaceful, cooperative and harmonious ocean.” China’s proposal to build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road suits the current era and is characterized by peace, development, cooperation, innovation and opening-up. With the goal of building a harmonious ocean, the proposal rests on opening-up and innovation and aims to achieve “harmony between humans and the ocean, peaceful development, safety and convenience, cooperation and win-win results.” A 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will enhance cooperation between China and other countries, increase mutual trust, create a stable environment for cooperation and bring new opportunities for regional stability and prosperity.

by Liu Cigui

China Institute of International Studies


China’s Initiatives of Building Silk Road Economic Belt and

Xi suggests China, C. Asia build Silk Road economic belt · Chinese President Xi Jinping … China, Maldives share dream of 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.


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