Tech-Dome Penang project to be ready by 2015; Skilled Staff in Demand in Penang


Penang Tech-Dome_artist

About Tech-Dome Penang

Tech-Dome Penang is an initiative by the Penang Science Cluster to create a hub for technology learning and exchange of ideas. It will be a vehicle for improving scientific literacy and technology ability in Malaysia.

Located at the geodesic dome of KOMTAR just adjacent to the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site in Penang, visitors will discover the exciting world of technology and how they work by exploring the world-class exhibits in its galleries. Regular programs will be conducted for schools, colleges and families that are specially designed to cultivate the spirit of inquiry and teach children and teenagers the skills required to thrive in a high-tech, knowledge-based future.

OUR MISSION

  • To inspire children and students to become future technologists and nurture the interest to use and invent technology.
  • To cultivate the spirit of inquiry and nurture the passion to thrive in the fields of science, engineering and technology.
  • To showcase the progress of the world’s technology and innovation.
  • To highlight the convergence of technology, industry and people.

Why Do We Need Tech-Dome Penang?

We believe that learning is a lifelong journey of discovery and is not just limited to school lessons. Families, young adults and entrepreneurs are always looking for new ideas and stimulating and meaningful ways to spend their time. By creating Tech-Dome Penang, we will offer visitors fun-filled learning and a place to share ideas and be inspired.

For Penang and Malaysia to remain competitive in the global economy, we must continue to nurture and develop our ability to use and even invent technology. However, the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that the standard of mathematics and science among Malaysian students have been dropping since 2003, and compared to all other countries, Malaysia is the country with the biggest and most drastic drop in scores from 1999 to 2011.

According to the Ministry of Education, less and less students are taking up science at the STPM level. This shows that fewer students are interested in participating in the fields of science, engineering and technology. Tech-Dome Penang aims to reverse this trend and will strive to cultivate curiosity and nurture the passion to thrive in these fields.

Tech-Dome ready by 2015 

THERM23mil Tech-Dome Penang project, a private initiative with endorsement from the state and Federal Government, aims to beoperational by end of 2015.Penang Tech Centre Bhd chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai said Tech-Dome, to be located on the fifth floor of Komtar with a 32,000sq ft built-up area, would showcase robotic, electronics and computing and lighting technologies.

“It will also exhibit the history of Penang’s industrialisation, spearheaded by the electronics and IT sectors.

“We have appointed Huettinger, a renowned company from Germany, as design consultant for the project.

“Huettinger is a technology-engineering company specialising in exhibition planning, providing consultation services, and manufacturing of exhibits,” he said in an interview yesterday.

American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce governor and Malaysian American Electronics Industry chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai was a panelist at the Roundtable on Graduate Employability organised by KDU University College, held at the Damansara Jaya Campus at Petaling Jaya.(21/01/2014/S.S.KANESAN/The Star)
[ Wong says a fully programmable robot called Robo Thespian will be created to educate, communicate, interact and entertain visitors to the science centre. ]

Wong said Tech-Dome would serve as a science centre to inspire children and students to become future technologists and also to nurture their interest to use and invent technology.

“Instead of taking children to movies and shopping, parents will have the alternative to take them to visit Tech-Dome during weekends.

“A robot built by Huettinger will be employed for meeting, greeting, and interacting with the public.
“Known as Robo Thespian, the robot is a fully programmable humanoid robot created to educate, communicate, interact and entertain,” he said.

Wong said the Tech-Dome had so far collected RM3.65mil, of which RM1.15mil came from the state government with the remainder from the corporate sector.

He added that the private sector had also pledged to donate RM2.3mil for the project.

“We still need another RM17.35mil which we are confident of raising by the end of 2014.

“Those who sponsor now will be known as founding sponsors of the project,” he said.

Penang Centre director Yap Soo Huey said unlike other science centres, the Tech-Dome would not just exhibit products.

“It will be designed to link the exhibits to scientific principles and their applications,” she said.

By David Tan The Star/Asia News Network

Penang Tech Centre To Complete Tech-Dome By 2nd Half Of 2015

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 5 (Bernama) — Penang Tech Centre Bhd strives to complete the RM23 million Tech-Dome Penang project by the second half of 2015.

General manager Richard Chung Chok Yin said the renovation work to house the centre at the Tun Abdul Razak Complex’s (Komtar) Geodesic Dome would begin next month and take nine months to complete.

“We still need to raise about RM10 million from the private sector and the public to bring this project to fruition,” he told reporters here Tuesday.

Chung said donations could be made online via www.techdomepenang.org and tax-exempt receipts would be issued for contributions above RM50.

A private initiative with endorsement from the state and federal government, the Tech-Dome Penang is aimed at improving scientific literacy and technology acumen among Malaysians.

Earlier, Penang Tech Centre director Yap Soo Huey said a series of roadshows themed the ‘Magic of Science’ would be held in Gurney Plaza, Queensbay Mall, Gurney Paragon and First Avenue Mall from Aug to Dec to create public awareness on the Tech-Dome Penang.

“The roadshows will showcase science and technology-related activities on nature, math and science, life sciences, robotics and astronomy, mainly for children up to 15 years,” she said.

– BERNAMA

Financial hiccup – needs RM10mil boost

RM23mil Tech-Dome Penang project seeks public donation to help cover RM10mil shortfall. THE RM23mil Tech-Dome Penang project, a private initiative with endorsement from the state and Federal Government, is still short of RM10mil.Status update: (From left) Chung, PTC director Datuk Lim Kok Khong, Yap, PTC steering committee member Ang Lye Hin and representatives of sponsors at the press conference.

Penang Tech Centre Bhd (PTC) general manager Richard Chung said they needed the financial support from corporate sectors and the public to help turn the project into a reality.“We welcome any form of public donation. I am sure with such support, we should be able to make further headway in this project,” he said during a press conference in Komtar yesterday.

Tech-Dome Penang is a science and technology centre that aims to be a hub for technology learning and exchange of ideas.

The state government, besides granting the use of Komtar Geodesic Dome to house the centre, also provided seed-funding for the project. The centre is expected to be ready by second half next year.

PTC director Yap Soo Huey, who is also Pulau Tikus assemblyman, said the project would brand Penang as a hub for innovation and creativity.

She said cities that were known for being dynamic, progressive and innovative always boasted of having science and technology centres.

“Look at San Francisco and Amsterdam. That speaks volume of the city itself.

“Besides, wehave been hearing that our education syllabus is too rigid, employees either cannot think out of the box or lack ideas when seeking a solution.“The purpose of Tech-Dome is to address all this. We want to inspire our children to see how technology can be different and how knowledge can be applied to produce wonders. Education is not just about memorising,” she said.

As part of brand-building and public awareness, Tech-Dome Penang will organise nine roadshows scheduled to take place at the various shopping malls in Penang until the end of the year. Each roadshow will last for two days.

The first roadshow will be held at Gurney Plaza this weekend followed by Queensbay Mall (Aug 30/31), Gurney Paragon (Sept 13/14), Queensbay Mall (Sept 20/21), Gurney Paragon (Nov 29/30), Gurney Plaza (Dec 6/7), Queensbay Mall (Dec 13/14), 1st Avenue (Dec 20/21) and Gurney Plaza (Dec 27/28).

The roadshows, themed ‘Magic of Science’, will showcase various science and technology-related activities and games focusing on nature, mathematics and science, life sciences, robotics and astronomy for children aged up to 15.

The public will be able to participate in interesting hands-on activities from noon till 7pm during the event days.

More details on the roadshows can be obtained from http://www.techdomepenang.org or via Facebook /techdomepenang.

Donations can be made at the roadshows. Tax-exempted receipts will be issued for contributions above RM50 or via the website.

Skilled Staff in Demand – Jobs await seekers

Over 2,600 vacancies in various sectors are waiting to be filled and more investors are coming to Penang to offer greater employment opportunities abound including high-value positions over the next few years.

A new investor coming to Batu Kawan has about 300 positions to fill in 2016 and 1,000 in the following five years. — DATUK LEE KAH CHOON

AS of July 2014, there are 2,635 jobs available in Penang, of which 74% are for positions as junior executive and above.

Of the 2,635 jobs, some 475 are in engineering, 222 in marketing and business development, 185 in general and cost accounting, 185 in manufacturing, and 170 in IT-software, while the remaining 1,538 are for vacancies in other sectors.

InvestPenang executive director Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the openings were reported in a popular job portal.

Feedback received by investPenang and Penang Career Assistance and Talent (CAT) Centre, shows there are a number of multinational corporations (MNC) with various vacancies to be filled up.

Lee said a Japanese MNC in Seberang Prai was looking for technicians and engineers as part of its exercise to fill 1,500 vacancies.

“An American MNC in Bayan Lepas is also looking for 50 design engineers, while in the services sector, there are vacancies for 60 finance and accounting officers.

“A new investor coming to Batu Kawan has about 300 positions to fill in 2016 and 1,000 in the following five years.

“Another newMNC in BatuKawan requires 540 vacancies to be filled by the end of this year,” he said.Lee said the proposed Penang Business Process Outsourcing Prime project was expected to generate about 21,000 high-value jobs over the next five years.

“Penang is expanding from high-capital expenditure manufacturing and the state’s next growth wave hinges on investments in shared services outsourcing and other services that create higher value job opportunities for the people.

“However, the challenges of availability of right talents and well-trained workforce that meet demands of global investors have to be urgently addressed,” Lee stressed.

Lee said CAT was now working on setting up a fund to provide eligible students with scholarships and loans to pursue tertiary education.

“We are now talking with MNCs and philanthropists in Penang to set up such a fund for CAT to disburse to students, who will then work in MNCs during their vacation and upon graduation,” he said.

Lee also said investPenang was now arranging for foreign students to serve their internship in MNCs here.

“Students from New Zealand should be here next month for their internship in the local MNCs,” Lee said.

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‘Panther 911’ : Digistar is bullish on new central monitoring system (CMS)


Digistar_Pather 911Digistar chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zaman Khan (left), Inspector -Gener al of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Lee during Pan ther 911’s official launching on April 25, 2014.

Information and communications technology (ICT) and property company Digistar Corp Bhd is bullish about the prospects of its newly-launched central monitoring system (CMS) called ‘Panther 911’.

Chief executive officer Datuk Wira Lee Wah Chong says the company targets 100,000 users for its hi-tech product in the first year.

A CMS is security-based system that includes aspects such as CCTV monitoring and alarms.

Digistar’s medium term goal is to secure a subscription base of 500,000 for its CMS in five years.

“The margins are good, about 20% to 30%. And this would be reflected from our current financial year (ending September 30, 2014) onwards,” he tells StarBizWeek.

“The first year may be slower than what we target but once our CMS gains visibility in the market, we expect a jump in take-up rate among business owners and individuals,” Lee says.

Digistar had spent RM5mil over the past two years to develop the CMS.

The company intends to use a multi-level marketing strategy to push the product into the market. “To incentivise the sales staff, they will get monthly a commission of 5% from the subscriptions they secure.”

In addition, the police force is also looking at the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at resorts and islands off Sabah’s east coast.

Last week, the police was reported to have asked Digistar to send them a proposal on installing the ‘Panther 911’ security system in Sabah.

The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said to have the system linked directly to police stations would help security forces respond faster.

Khalid said the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) was planning to place security teams at 11 private resorts and islands that were the furthest away from Semporna and Lahad Datu. This was in light of recent killing and kidnapping events highlighted in the news.

If successful in this tie-up with the police, it would be Digistar’s first collaboration with the public sector for its CMS business. Right now, its target is on the mass market and commercial buildings.

Entering the Sabah market would not come as a surprise as Lee has always wanted to expand into Sabah and Sarawak.

That would be the second phase of Digistar’s security system business and the company estimates another RM5mil of investments for the expansion in the next two years. However, Lee notes that there needs to be better Internet connectivity in order for Internet-based surveillance systems to thrive in the country.

Digistar has a few competitors in the local CMS space.

But it seeks to differentiate itself by the attractive features of its system.

Digistar’s Panther 911 CMS system offers 24-hour monitoring services via an internet protocol-based platform. It can switch to run on 3G, 4G and LTE networks during power disruptions.

Banking on property sector

Lee says the company has plans to be among the top 100 companies in Malaysia in terms of market capitalisation in the next five years.

To do that, Lee says the company needs to further expand its property business. For Lee, property is Digistar’s next phase of growth as he opined that the growth trajectory for an ICT company has its boundaries.

“We are still focused on our ICT business but to achieve bigger goals, we will expand our property division,” he says. “We are looking for pockets of land around the Klang Valley now for small scale projects.”

Digistar already has a serviced apartment project in Malacca called The Heritage, with a gross development value of RM150mil. It is already 70% sold and is targeted to be opened this November.

Lee says the company intends to rent out the remaining 30% of apartments for recurring income.

“We plan to rent out like a hotel.

“The project will be a ‘condotel’, a combination of condominium and hotel,” he says.

Digistar is already speaking to hospitality partners to rope in for the management of the hotel component at The Heritage.

The company has also a 15-year concession for the construction and asset management of the Malaysian National Technology Advancement Centre in Alor Gajah, Malacca.

The project is a tie-up with the Works Ministry for the minstry to carry out training programmes for engineers and architects.

Its concession consists of RM174mil for the construction of facilities and infrastructure, and RM66mil for the provision of ICT and lab equipment.

Lee says the margins for this project would likely be in the double-digit range as well.

Digistar is also in talks to develop its telecommunications segment as it owns three individual licenses from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to provide network and facilities services for five years.

Lee says discussions are on-going and declined to reveal any details.

All these efforts, says Lee, are aimed at steering the company back into profitability.

For the 2013 financial year (FY13), Digistar made a net loss of RM11mil compared to a profit of RM6mil in FY12.

The company had said that the loss was due to a higher operating cost, commencement of projects where revenue was yet to be recognised as well as the business expansion for its CMS and telecommunications divisions. Lee reckons that Digistar’s CMS as well as other initivatives would help turnaround the company and generate long-term recurring income.

US, UK, India among ‘Free World’ Governments Worst for online spies


WASHINGTON: US’ National Security Agency, India’s Centre for Development of Telematics, and the UK’s GCHQ have been named among the worst online spies by a non-profit group for implementing censorship and surveillance.

US-UK-Indian spiesThree of the government bodies designated by Reporters Without Borders as ‘Enemies of the Internet’ are located in democracies that have traditionally claimed to respect fundamental freedoms, a report by the Reporters Without Borders said.

PARIS – Shady agencies at the service of democratically elected governments are among the worst online spies in the world, media watchdog RSF said Wednesda

In the latest instalment of the “Enemies of the Internet” report, wholesale spying by “free world” services — much of it exposed by US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — is offered no distinction from the unabashed surveillance carried out by the world’s worst dictatorships. 

To RSF, agencies such as the US National Security Agency, Britain’s GCHQ and the Centre for Development Telematics in India embrace the worst methods of snooping in the name of governments that purportedly hold freedom of speech as a national priority. 

They have “hacked into the very heart of the Internet” and turned a collective resource “into a weapon in the service of special interests” that flout the “freedom of information, freedom of expression and the right to privacy”. 

“The NSA and GCHQ have spied on the communications of millions of citizens including many journalists,” the report by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders) said. 

The methods used, many of which NSA contractor Snowden revealed to the world last year before going into hiding in Russia, “are all the more intolerable” because they are then used by authoritarian countries such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia, the report said. 

Also singled out by RSF are private companies that provide their most up-to-date powers of snooping at trade fairs that have become giant spying bazaars selling the best that technology can offer. 

It is at these shows hosted regularly around the world that profit-driven spy-ware firms link up with government agents or nervous multinationals that are in search of the newest ways to observe and control the Internet. 

RSF argued that the censorship carried out by the Enemies of the Internet “would not be possible without the tools developed by the private sector companies to be found at these trade fairs.” 

With these tools, spies can track journalists anywhere in the world, RSF said. 

Governments keen to impose censorship also help one another. 

Iran has asked China to help it develop a local version of the electronic Great Wall that cuts off billions of Chinese from the Internet as seen by the rest of the world. China is active in Africa and central Asia too. 

To stop this proliferation of snooping, RSF said a whole new legal framework to govern surveillance was “essential” with states needing to embrace transparency regarding the methods being used. 

The fight for human rights, it warned, “had spread to the Internet”.

- The Economic Times-AFP

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Get pay from spying?


Spying HeroWhistleblowing hero: Germans holding up pictures of Snowden while protesting in front of the Reichstag building which houses the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in Berlin . — AFP

Heavy-duty spying does not pay 

The hidden costs, and the controversy, of the massive US global spying operation keep on growing.

IF officials behind the US-based “Five Eyes” spying network had hoped the scandal would soon fade away, their obvious disappointment should be an object lesson about their excesses and abuses.

US, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand spies – together with their Singaporean and South Korean co-conspirators – had violated the implicit trust placed in their governments by friendly and ally nations around the world.

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden had exposed how the conspirators had tapped into fibre-optic cables in 20 locations worldwide and infiltrated 50,000 computer networks.

This unprecedented scale of spying makes no distinction between friend and foe. It has provoked questions about the value of being a friend or “ally” of these Western countries.

Countries in the world’s main regions have routinely been spied on: Europe, East Asia, West Asia and Latin America. The spying exceeds all norms of intelligence gathering to target the personal cell phones of national leaders, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and even his wife Ibu Ani Yudhoyono.

Snowden’s leaks reveal that Spain, for example, had been spied on so much as to have 20 million phone calls tapped each day. For the US authorities to insist that it was all for the sake of fighting terrorism is too much of a stretch.

The spying covers economic as well as political purposes. It was revealed that a foreign government’s confidential information picked up from spying is also used to give an unfair advantage to US companies against other companies in bids for international contracts.

Today’s supercomputers can do a lot of work in very little time. The ones used in the US global spying scheme apparently had very little ethical human supervision, precisely because that was the intention.

It has long been a “given” that all countries gather intelligence, to varying degrees, through some of their diplomats, expatriates and other undercover operatives. The extent of this activity also varies with the distance in relations between the spying country and the one spied upon.

Between friendly countries, discussions on issues of common interest and concern are the means of updating one another on events. Excessively intrusive and invasive spying, however, such as the kind Snowden has revealed, is supposed to be for untrustworthy governments and enemy nations.

Such universal perceptions and expectations lie at the heart of the current spying controversy. There is little wonder that countries so sordidly spied on take the matter so seriously.

Such spying shows the United States would enforce its will on all other countries, as opposed to sharing information between equal partners with mutual respect. It also implies that rules will be made by the US alone.

At the bilateral meeting in Jakarta during the week between Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Susilo, Malaysia declared full support for Indonesia in placing the spying scandal on the agenda of the next Asean Summit in Myanmar.

In seeking a satisfactory corrective for spying intrusions that breach all known limits, granting a regional profile to the problem is the least that Indonesia and Malaysia can do. Thailand is another Asean country targeted by these spies operating in part from the respective Australian embassies.

France and Germany are particularly outraged by “Five Eyes” snooping. Italy, the Netherlands and Spain are also concerned, as the scandal unites political parties within individual nations as well as European countries throughout the EU – except for Britain.

The aggrieved countries find the excessive spying violating privacy rights, their national sovereignty as well as their domestic laws. US officials predictably reject its seriousness.

The EU now wants a new law requiring private IT companies to inform European regulators if a foreign snooping request is made on any European citizen. That effort could clash with an existing US law that bans any company whose “cooperation” is required from telling anyone.

The potential conflict would pit European determination against US intransigence. It would further test the trans-Atlantic alliance in the post-Cold War period.

As the initial leaks started to provoke European anger, clandestine efforts tried to dilute or divert the upset.

It was somehow also “leaked” that the French government had been spying on its own population, followed by allegations that the German government had known about and even used information obtained by US-connected spies. The truth of these “mitigating” leaks was, however, less clear.

As expected, such efforts at damage control had a very limited effect. The harm perpetrated by US-led spying on the trust, goodwill and relations with Europe was far more serious, and remains a main feature in the foreground.

In Latin America “south of the border”, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela are particularly disturbed by US-led spying activities. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay are also concerned.

Several of these countries have already offered asylum to Snowden, who hopes to avoid prosecution in the US after his current one-year asylum stay in Russia. The more Washington pressures and threatens these countries, the more keen they are to protect whistleblowers like Snowden.

The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) is currently working on a new, alternative communications system that will cut the prospect of US spying in the region. As a sign of seriousness, the region’s defence ministers who form Unasur’s defence council are tasked with developing the new system.

Unasur’s 12 member countries may be disadvantaged in lacking sophisticated technological inputs for the system. However, they also enjoy certain advantages in a renewed unity, determination and strength of purpose.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, whose email had been hacked by US spies, has accused Washington of violating human rights and crime. Four days ago, she followed this with a defence procurement contract that spelt out clearly where Brazil stood.

Capping a 10-year plan, Rousseff announced on Wednesday that Brazil would buy 36 of Sweden’s Saab Gripen fighter jets instead of Boeing’s F/A-18s in replacing the air force’s ageing fleet. Brazil had bargained the price down from US$6bil (RM19.8bil) to US$4.5bil (RM14.8bil).

US officials privately grumbled over having lost “a US$4bil deal” but in fact the cost of NSA spying on Brazil is almost twice that. Boeing’s price for the F/A-18s was US$7.5bil (RM24.7bil).

Over the longer term, the cost to the US economy is likely to grow if Washington does not or cannot seriously mend its ways. US-based companies like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft are often seen by other countries as part of the problem in having to comply with US laws and demands.

Unasur is already showing the way forward by working on an alternative. In time, other regions like Europe and countries such as Russia, India and China may also develop their own communications systems and software, taking more business away from US companies.

In the short term it is always tempting to blame the messenger such as Edward Snowden rather than the problematic nature of the message itself. Ironically, the development of modern communications has raised awareness of privacy and sovereignty rights – and of their violations.

To level the playing field, IT development as well as spying activities may need to become more equalised. By serving the greater interests of the greater number, that would be democratisation indeed.

Contributed by Bunn Nagara, who is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia, The Star/Asia News Network

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2013 the year of Internet innovation


Smartphone_Ed SnowdenA man uses his smartphone to take a picture of a person wearing a mask of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a protest in Berlin, July 4, 2013.

As the year comes to a close, we need to reflect on what are the most important things that have affected our lives in 2013.

The Internet continues to transform our world. The most significant Internet event in 2013 was not the listing of Facebook, which priced the company at $104 billion (almost Bt3.4 trillion), but Edward Snowden’s July revelations of Internet surveillance, which revealed that Big Brother, friend or foe, is really watching. Since my smartphone is smart enough to track me even in the toilet, there is really no privacy left in this world.

On the plus side, Singles Day – November 11 – garnered 35 billion yuan (Bt187 billion) in online sales on one day in China. Since China already accounts for one-third of the smartphones in the world, and they can make and sell smartphones at one-third the price of Apple or Samsung, it is not surprising that e-commerce in the Middle Kingdom is set to overtake even the US in volume next year.

Online business is here to stay.

What the combination of the Internet and smartphone means is that a person in the remotest part of Indonesia can sell his or her product to buyers worldwide, and collect over the smartphone, which was impossible to imagine even 20 years ago.

Amazing also are the apps downloaded in their millions to maximise personal efficiency. Ease of personal communication, meanwhile, has been taken to a new level with apps like WeChat. Such free Internet services are rising so fast that even revenue from SMS text messages is slowing down.

On the other side, after Snowden, what must consider the proper role of the government in the Internet and how it should behave to encourage Web innovation and growth?

Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz was one of the first to tackle the subject, in “The Role of Government in a Digital Age” (2000), with Peter and Jonathan Orzag. Their report recommended 12 principles. The first three cover the state’s proper role in the affairs of the Internet:

1.Provide public data and information.

2.Improve efficient government services.

3.Support basic research.

The next six principles are areas where the government should exercise caution. These include:

4.Adding specialised value to public data and information.

5.Providing private goods only under limited circumstances.

6.Providing services online where private services are more efficient.

7.Ensuring that mechanisms exist to protect privacy, security, and consumer protection online.

8.Promoting network externalities only with great deliberation and care.

9. Maintaining proprietary information or exercising rights under patents or copyright.

The report also signalled “red light” areas of state intervention in the Internet:

10.Governments should exercise substantial caution in entering markets in which private sector firms are active

11.Governments (including government corporations) should generally not aim to maximise net revenues or take action that would reduce competition.

12.Government should only be allowed to provide goods or services for which appropriate privacy and conflict-of-interest protections have been erected.

The Stiglitz-Orzag report was written for the US market, but the general principles are useful guides for all states. The trouble is that Snowden showed that the US government might have failed to follow some of these guidelines. We do know that governments are becoming increasingly intrusive on the Internet, and that such intrusion inhibits competition and innovation.

Because the Internet is evolving very fast, the role of government in Web affairs also needs to evolve. Businesses are becoming even more service and information-oriented, with increasing numbers going digital and in the “Cloud”. This means that governments are struggling with three major issues: protecting private privacy, ensuring a level playing field in competition, and taxing online activities.

Governments must also sort out jurisdictional duties and powers, because the Cloud is global, and taxation and regulation is not only national, but departmental. It is as if each small part of the bureaucracy is trying to regulate the whole Cloud. We can all touch and feel its power, but there is no overall central authority that can control the Cloud.

An island nation in the Pacific might pass a law on the Cloud, but could it enforce it?

Individual privacy is being threatened by the practice of hacking, and the biggest hackers are not bedroom-bound nerds, but governments everywhere.

The second problem of a level playing field is a serious one. If Google has maps and can monitor everything I do through my smartphone, does that information belong to Google or to me? If it belongs to the large platforms, does that not confer a huge informational advantage on them? How can governments ensure that there is a level playing field between these massive online platforms and the small businesses that have no such information or may have to pay the platform for it?

The third area is taxation. Online commerce has escaped the tax radar because it is new. In contrast, bricks-and-mortar shops have rents, create jobs and pay value-added taxes. If everything moves online, the government loses the ability to tax, and bricks-and-mortar retail shops will complain they are losing out to larger and larger platforms. Bookshops around the world are closing in droves now that everyone can order through Amazon.

There are no easy answers to these tough questions. The interdependent and interconnected nature of the Internet means that regulatory or government action in one part may affect the system as a whole. In other words, government action or non-action creates a shadow system – the business moves offline, offshore or into cyberspace.

What we need is better transparency, better education, wider access and also some key principles of fair competition that should be enforced for online business to innovate.

Finally, a year-end reminder: use your smartphone in the toilet, and someone (not Snowden) can hear you flush. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all.

Contributed by Andrew Sheng, President of the Fung Global Institute.

Five tech-powered changes in next five years, IBM predicted


IBM_five tech

Technology stalwart IBM on Tuesday predicted classrooms getting to know students and doctors using DNA to customize care are among five big changes on the horizon.

IBM said that its annual forecast of five ways technology will change lives in the coming five years was “driven by a new era of cognitive systems where machines will learn, reason and engage with us in a more natural and personalized way.”

And while software evolves to “think” in ways similar to the human brain, computing power and troves of data kept handy in the Internet “cloud” will enable machines to power innovations in classrooms, local shops, doctors’ offices, city streets and elsewhere, according to the firm behind the Watson computer that triumphed on US television game show Jeopardy.

“Over time these computers will get smarter and more customized through interactions with data, devices and people, helping us take on what may have been seen as unsolvable problems by using all the information that surrounds us and bringing the right insight or suggestion to our fingertips right when it’s most needed,” IBM contended.

Predictions for the coming five years included “classrooms of the future” equipped with systems that track and analyze each student’s progress to tailor curriculum and help teachers target learning techniques.
IBM_five tech_children
“Basically, the classroom learns you,” IBM vice president of innovation Bernie Meyerson told AFP. “It is surprisingly straight-forward to do.”

In another prediction, IBM sees retail shops large or small blending online and real-world storefronts with ‘Watson-like’ technologies and augmented reality.

Also, doctors will tailor treatments using patient DNA, according to Meyerson.

“Knowing your genetic make-up lets you sort through a huge variety of treatment options and determine the best course to follow,” he said.

“They don’t have to carpet bomb your body to treat cancer,” Meyerson continued. “There is the ability to tailor the attack to improve the efficacy against cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.”

Smart machines tapping into the Internet cloud will also be able to serve as “digital guardians” protecting people from hackers by recognizing unusual online behavior, such as shopping binges at dubious websites, and spying scam email messages or booby-trapped links.

“The digital guardian will know you are not someone who goes to a poker site and tops off your account,” Meyerson said. “Not only does it shut down the behavior, but it tracks it back to who is doing it and passes the information on to authorities.”

The final prediction was that cities will weave social networks, smartphones, sensors, and machine learning to better manage services and build relationships with citizens.

“The city will help you live in it,” Meyerson said. “There is a new generation of leaders coming in who are extremely tech savvy and making good use of it.”

Sources: AFP-Times

MyDistress application


MyDistress app has been very useful 

I STRONGLY feel that the police should reintroduce the MyDistress application.

At about 4.30pm on Nov 4, my daughter and her friend had an encounter with a road bully in Shah Alam.

She has the MyDistress application on her phone but she was unable to use it as the application was discontinued by the police.

The man was very aggressive and began kicking her friend’s car when they stopped. He even spat at the lady driver’s face. This was over a lane-cutting incident.

She called me and I advised her to proceed to the nearest police station.

I then dialled 999 and got the operator who asked me too many questions about the incident. Where was the exact location of my daughter, etc?

How would I know their location when they were driving towards a police station?

If my daughter could trigger her MyDistress app, the police would have known her location.

I had on three occasions used MyDistress.

In the first instance, my neighbour, a senior police officer, called to tell me that he had cornered a burglar. I pressed the button on my phone for MyDistress which sent a signal that I had an emergency in my house. The police called and I told them it was my neighbour’s house. Within minutes two patrol cars arrived.

In the second incident, I was on my way to KL Sentral in a Komuter train at around 2pm when my wife, a teacher, called to say she saw a man jumping over our fence.

The train was near Bangsar. I triggered MyDistress. The police called and informed that they had despatched men. On reaching home there were two patrol cars and the police were taking a statement from my wife. What a relief!

In the third occasion, I was praying in a surau at a petrol station in Puchong when I saw a man with a bag and an axe.

I triggered MyDistress. Again the police called to know my whereabouts. Within minutes they arrived and questioned the man.

Kudos for the police with MyDistress.

Contributed by SAMAD RAHIM Shah Alam The Star/Asia News Network

Read more: 

1. MyDistress | MyDistress 
MyDistress is a personal safety application designed based on smart technologies the use of MyDistress application and how it works quickly and accurately.

2.Application Guideline | MyDistress

3.How To Download | MyDistress

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Innovation Value and key Drivers to Success


Innovation to Success

The ability to increase business value through innovation is a critical success driver for most organizations. The markets that we operate in provide both opportunity and risk from an innovation perspective as they are rapidly changing.

Markets provide opportunities if we get it right and threats if we do not, particularly given the intense competitive nature of most industries. Our quest to realize innovation results is further complicated by the complexities involved for most firms – the sheer number of players to potentially coordinate with in the value chain; rising costs; margin erosion; increasing regulatory, customer and consumer demands; evolving business models; shorter cycle times; and new sources of competition, just to name a few.

The good news is that if you can get it right, you stand to gain a competitive advantage and will reap the benefits of increased revenue and profits. Hence, the lure of identifying new growth opportunities, increasing volumes and market share, securing a competitive advantage, improving margins and strengthening brand loyalty, provides a powerful incentive to be successful at product innovation. However, the challenges that organizations face do not make this easy. Developing new products and technologies is consequently one of the more complicated initiatives an organization can undertake.

Take for example the telecom market wars occurring over the past year. Samsung and Apple have emerged as two clear winners that have been able to leverage powerful innovation machines. The competition (Nokia and Research in Motion) have stumbled badly in their respective innovation capabilities and ultimately paid the price in the marketplace.

Creating Innovation Value: Four Key Drivers to Success
Figure 1: The Innovation Performance Framework

The Innovation Performance Framework  (Figure 1) is a useful framework that examines the complexity and addresses some of the challenges in product innovation by separating them into four key themes: product innovation strategy; portfolio management; new product development process; and climate and culture (see Figure 1 for illustration). Interestingly, past studies suggest that organizations that excel or master these four key themes do, in fact, achieve better results from their product innovation efforts.

Let’s examine some of the challenges innovators have in each part of The Innovation Performance Framework:

Product Innovation Strategy: It all starts at the top. If there is not a clear and crisp product innovation strategy that supports the business strategy, problems begin. Some key challenges are: Do we have one? Is it clear? Is it the right strategy? Is everyone aligned? Are people walking the talk? Are there realistic expectations on new product revenues?

Lack of a product innovation strategy tailored to support the strategy of the business is often cited as a most common problem.

Portfolio Management: This is the strategic allocation of resources that ensures innovation efforts advance the product innovation strategy. This is also the prioritization of projects in the pipeline to ensure that resources are being tactically deployed on the right projects for the right reasons. Some key challenges are: too many projects and not enough resources to get everything done, difficulty in deciding which projects to select (when evaluating multiple projects that are competing for the same resources), difficulty in optimizing the portfolio of projects (i.e. short-term versus long-term, high-risk versus low-risk), poor alignment on priorities, and resources that are simply stretched too thinly.

Idea-to-Launch Process: This is the roadmap or playbook that takes each project from idea to launch including all of the activities and decisions that must occur in order to be successful. Some key challenges are: not enough high quality ideas; not having a standard playbook that can be used repeatedly for projects; leadership that cannot articulate the importance of their idea-to-launch process; employees who have not received training or have not developed a knowledge foundational base on and around innovation best practices; not tailoring the development process to support the business strategy and project needs; being unable to say no to projects and/or the need to be realistic with actual time and resource expectations that otherwise lead to unrealistic speed-to-market pressures; expectations for resource commitments to work on projects that are not in the official process; too many minor projects that negatively impact the resources available for innovation projects; and the inability to yield effective decisions in a timely manner (i.e. everything is a high priority thus creating ‘gridlock’ which in turn results in significant delays). It is no wonder given the above why achieving and then sustaining success is so difficult for many companies.

Climate and Culture: This is ‘the way the organization works’: the typical behavior, norms, values and leadership style that enables or hinders product innovation performance. Some key challenges are: difficulty in striking a healthy balance between ‘discipline and focus’ and ‘flexibility and judgment’, driving projects to successful completion while managing cross-functional teams (i.e. shortage of trained project leaders, staff turnover, gaps in necessary skills, lack of training and/or experience), management of failure, and poor support from other parts of the organization. In other words, creating and supporting a climate and culture that supports innovation company-wide.

How is your organization performing at product innovation and how does it compare to other companies? Without clear metrics and a way to compare them it can be difficult to know whether you are doing good or bad at product innovation; whether your investment in R&D is producing the desired results, and what areas of your performance in and around the Innovation Performance Framework might need to be improved or strengthened. The good news is you can change, the question is do you want to?

Contributed by

 Related post:
 
Mental Exercises For Battling “It Won’t Work” Syndrome

Singapore’s new hiring rules: citizens first, foreigner curbs target professionals


SingaporeSingapore Makes Firms Consider Citizens Before Hiring Foreigners

Singapore will impose new rules prodding companies to consider locals before hiring foreigners for professional jobs, according to the Ministry of Manpower.

The city state will set up a job bank where companies are required to advertise positions before applying for so-called employment passes for foreign professionals, it said. The advertisements must be open to all Singaporeans.

“Even as we remain open to foreign manpower to complement our local workforce, all firms must make an effort to consider Singaporeans fairly,” Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in a statement today. “‘Hiring-own-kind’ and other discriminatory practices that unfairly exclude Singaporeans run against our fundamental values of fairness and meritocracy.”

Singapore tightened restrictions on foreign workers for a fourth straight year in February, in part because of voter discontent over congestion, rising property prices and greater competition for jobs and education. The curbs have led to a labor crunch and rising wage costs for companies, which the government has said will probably hurt growth in Southeast Asia’s only advanced economy.

Local Talent

Responding to feedback from Singaporeans that some companies are hiring foreigners over citizens, Tan and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam met with senior management in a number of financial companies to emphasize that they should make a concerted effort to develop a local talent pipeline, the manpower minister said in Parliament in March.

“We must set expectations about what is acceptable and what is not,” Tan said today. “It requires persuasion, explanation and leading by example. The worst employers must be taken to task.”

Singapore will also raise the minimum pay for employment-pass holders to S$3,300 ($2,600) a month in January, according to the statement. The job bank will be set up by mid-2014, it said. Companies with 25 or fewer employees will be exempt from the new rules, as well as jobs that pay a fixed monthly salary of S$12,000 or more, according to the statement.

The government will also identify firms “that have scope to improve,” such as those with a lower concentration of Singaporeans at the professional, managerial and executive levels, compared to their peers, or those that have faced nationality-based discriminatory complaints, the ministry said.

Foreign employment growth in Singapore slowed in the first half of 2013 from a year earlier and the labor market will remain tight for the rest of 2013, the ministry said this month.

Singapore Foreigner Curbs Target Professionals: Southeast Asia

Watch Video:  http://bloom.bg/1gUFmqw
Singapore’s Tan on Foreign-Worker Curbs via @BloombergTV http://bloom.bg/1gUFmqw

Singapore will widen foreign-worker curbs to professional jobs as the government clamps down on companies that hire overseas talent at the expense of citizens, stepping up efforts to counter a backlash against immigration.

The Southeast Asian nation said yesterday it will set up a job bank where companies are required to advertise positions to Singaporeans before applying for so-called employment passes for foreign professionals. The unprecedented policy will target jobs that currently pay at least S$3,000 ($2,400) a month.

“There are concerns among Singaporeans, which I think is fair, and so it’s timely for us to introduce this,” Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday. “There are Singaporeans out there, well-skilled and capable, who are looking for jobs and I think this step would actually facilitate that process.”

The country is persisting with a four-year campaign to reduce its reliance on foreign workers, after years of open immigration policy led to voter discontent over increased competition for housing, jobs and education. The move has led to a labor shortage and pushed up wages, prompting some companies to seek cheaper locations.

“This is a step up from the government’s efforts to tighten the quality and the quantity of the foreign worker inflows,” said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in Singapore. “We’re moving to another phase now where they’re looking to ensure that opportunities for the middle-income Singaporeans are maintained.”

Better Matching

Singapore will also raise the minimum pay for employment-pass holders by 10 percent to S$3,300 a month in January, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement yesterday. The job bank will be set up by mid-2014, it said. Companies with 25 or fewer employees will be exempt from the new rules, as well as jobs that pay a fixed monthly salary of S$12,000 or more, the ministry said.

“It makes a lot of sense to hire locally from the communities that we operate in,” said Audrey Tan, a Singapore-based spokeswoman for Pratt & Whitney, the jet-engine unit of United Technologies Corp., where Singaporeans make up 75 percent of its more than 2,000 workforce in the city.

The nation’s unemployment rate rose to 2.1 percent in the second quarter, with the resident jobless rate at about 3 percent.

That “translates to 50,000, 60,000 Singaporeans without jobs,” Tan, the minister, said. “What the regime allows is that there may be a better matching of demand and supply” between companies and job-seekers, he said.

Fewer Locals

The government will also identify firms “that have scope to improve,” such as those with a lower concentration of professional Singaporeans compared with industry peers, or those that have faced nationality-based discriminatory complaints, the ministry said.

Responding to feedback from Singaporeans that some companies are hiring foreigners over citizens, Tan and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam met with senior management in a number of financial companies to emphasize that they should make a concerted effort to develop a local talent pipeline, the manpower minister said in Parliament in March.

Citigroup Inc., which has about 10,000 employees in Singapore, said citizens and permanent residents make up 82 percent of its workforce.

‘Right Balance’

“It is essential that we strike the right balance,” Adam Rahman, a Singapore-based spokesman at the bank, said in an e-mail. “It is important to have some foreign talent who have global perspectives, expertise and skills to complement the overall development of Singapore as an international financial hub.”

Standard Chartered Plc, which has 7,600 employees in the city, said it will study the impact of the framework, which it expects will create more opportunities for locals. “The new portal will provide greater transparency and continue to promote fairness in hiring processes,” Peter Hatt, head of human resources for Singapore and Southeast Asia, said in an e-mail.

Singapore was ranked the most-favored expat destination based on economic factors such as income and housing in a 2012 survey of more than 100 countries released by HSBC Holdings Plc. Including the criteria of lifestyle and well-being of children, Hong Kong topped the list.

Second Choice

“Hong Kong and Singapore vie for talent on an ongoing basis,” said Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays Plc in Hong Kong. “If these changes are going to make it harder for expats to find work in Singapore, then what that could mean is that people will start to consider Hong Kong whereas in the past it may have been their second choice in Asia.”

Singapore’s inflation rate quickened to 2 percent in August. Domestic cost pressures are expected to persist amid continuing tightness in the labor market, the central bank and the trade ministry said in a statement yesterday.

“Further tightening on foreign labor participation should place upward pressure on wages and therefore core inflation,” said Daniel Wilson, an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore.

The city’s population has jumped by more than 1.1 million since mid-2004 to 5.3 million, driven by immigration. A proposal to boost the population to 6.9 million by 2030 prompted thousands to protest in February.

The framework “is designed to placate the electorate,” said Lee Quane, Hong Kong-based regional director at ECA International, which provides research on employment, relocation and compensation. “The impact is going to be negligible. Singapore has almost full employment.”

The city studied employment policies in markets including Hong Kong, the U.S. and U.K. before developing its framework, the minister said.

“We’re very mindful that there’s no one silver bullet that solves everything and we’re also mindful that every country has their own slightly different circumstances,” Tan said.

Contributed by 

Mental Exercises For Battling “It Won’t Work” Syndrome


Every company has ideas that come up (sometimes frequently).  And, based on the stage of the startup and the degree to which the idea is unconventional, there are always good, rational reasons why the given idea can’t possibly work.  There are also bad, irrational reasons too.  The problem is, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Bad Idea - Good idea

Here are some of common reasons why something won’t work:

  1. We’ve debated this several times before and have decided it wouldn’t work.
  2. We’ve tried this before, it didn’t work.
  3. Doesn’t really fit our sales model.
  4. It’s not appropriate for our industry.
  5. It might work for tiny/small/large/huge companies, but we sell to tiny/small/large/huge companies, and it won’t work for them.
  6. Our investors/board would never agree to it.
  7. It might work, but we can’t afford the risk that it won’t.  (Note: When someone says “it might work…but…” they’re almost always thinking: It won’t work)
  8. Our team/plan/pitch-deck is not really setup for that.
  9. We could try it, but it’s a distraction.  (Note: This often means “I’ve already decided it’s not going to work, but I can tell I need to convince you we shouldn’t try it…”)

There are many, many more reasons why any given idea won’t work, but the above are a sufficient sample for this article. Oh, and by the way, I have at various points in time made all of these very same arguments myself (“I have met the enemy” and all that)

2 Mental Exercises To Try

Now, here are a couple of mental exercises to try when you or you or your team is stuck.

Exercise #1: What if I told you that it’s working really, really well for XYZ Company?  How do you think they made it work?

The idea here is to assume the idea is good and has worked for a company very similar to yours.  Then, ask yourself (or your team):  Now that we know it worked for them, what do we think they did to make it work?

What this does is mentally nudge you to think about how to work through whatever the obvious limitations to the idea already are.

Example: I know that nobody in our industry uses a freemium model because the infrastructure/support costs are just too high.  But, we just learned that XYZ Company is launching a free version.  What do we think they did to make it work?

Exercise #2: What if we had the proverbial gun held to our heads and we had to do [x]?

The idea here is to assume/accept that the decision to implement the idea has already been made — presumably by some higher authority.  Now, assuming that, what would you do to make the best of it?

Example: Our major investors just told us that before they can agree to funding our next round, we need to build an inside sales team.  They think inside sales teams are the bomb.  We can’t afford not to listen to them — what do we do to make the best of the situation?  If we had to build an inside sales team, how would we go about doing it?

Note:  In neither case am I suggesting that you mislead your team (or yourself, in case you’re like me and have conversations with yourself late at night).  These are meant to be mental exercises, just to help drive discussion and analysis.  Though I’ll confess, there is a small part of me that wonders what would happen if one did make the hypothetical seem real (at least for a short period of time).

What do you think?  Any mental tricks or tactics you’ve used (or thought of using) to help break-through conventional thinking?

Posted by Dharmesh Shah

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