Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting China 2014


Magnificent fireworks showed at APEC grand banquet
  • China needs to be at the top of the global value chain: expert

BEIJING, November 11 (People’s Daily Online) – To better adapt to interconnectivity of Asia-Pacific area, China needs to step forward to higher level in global value chains, an expert with APEC said after a high level forum.

The 2014 Beijing APEC meetings focus on interconnectivity in Asia-Pacific region, infrastructure and Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific. According to Zhang Lijun, Director of China APEC Development Council, it is of high importance for China to have a clear conception about its role in value chains and supply chains.

To promote interconnectivity in the region is to connect Chinese economy with that of the world. “If not cooperate with supply chains, China may not have a clear mind of its economic role in the market,” said Zhang.

China has long been regarded as the workshop of the world. However, China is shifting its focus to knowledge-intensive industries as well as protection of intellectual property by changing the mode of growth. Only in this way can China realize its updated version of economy, Zhang said.

Besides, according to Zhang, the establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is beneficial to advanced Chinese enterprises to seek fortune abroad. Zhang mentioned that China would play a major role in AIIB. Therefore, Chinese preeminence and voice in cooperation will be valued and guaranteed.

In view of the declining export, investment in foreign infrastructure provides good opportunity for China to make up losses from export, Zhang said.

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Yes, right to comment on Perkasa Chief Ibrahim Ali, selective non-prosecution by A-G!


The Star CEO Wong: I have right to comment on bible-burning issue

PETALING JAYA: Star Publications Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai has hit out at detractors who criticised him for questioning the decision not to prosecute Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the Bible-burning remark.

Wong said he was entitled to comment on the decision made by the Attorney-General’s Chambers “just like other Malaysians who have the right to comment on contemporary issues”.

“It is not the monopoly of politicians and non-governmental organisations,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Wong said he was not the only one who had commented on the issue.

“Many other Malaysians, including Cabinet ministers, have expressed their sentiments. We have the right to comment on the decision of the A-G.

“As responsible and moderate Malaysians, we should focus our energy on bringing people together, not making statements that cause disunity,” he said.

Negri Sembilan Perkasa chief Ruslan Kassim. in a statement on Monday, urged Wong to stop “all the provocations” against Ibrahim and said that Wong need not teach the Attorney-General how to do his work.

Global Movement of Moderates chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah defended Wong, saying that Malaysians have the right to comment on the decision by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“The Attorney-General is not immune. One can always criticise people who commented on the Attorney-General’s decision, but the criticism should be on their statement.

“You can criticise a comment but to stop a person from commenting only shows that you do not understand democracy.

“Ruslan Kassim should argue against Wong’s reasoning, not stop him from commenting,” said Saifuddin.

Similar views were shared by unity advocate and author Anas Zubedy, who said Malaysians should be encouraged to speak up and comment when something was not right.

“We must not forget a very popular tradition by the first Caliph of Islam, Sayyidina Abu Bakar.

“He said that when he is right, follow him, but when he is wrong, correct him.

“If Malaysians feel that someone did wrong, we should be able to speak up and correct him,” said Anas.

In his On The Beat column on Sunday (see below: A mind-bloggling spin), Wong said the Attorney-General would set a dangerous precedent with his decision not to file charges against Ibrahim based on “context” and “intention”, which are matters that should be decided by the court.

“In future, any extremist, of whatever faith, can call for the burning of any holy book and then cite the same pathetic reason that he or she is merely defending the sanctity of his or her religion,” Wong said.

Last week, the Attorney-General’s Chambers said that no legal action was taken against Ibrahim because he was “defending the sanctity of Islam” and had no intention to create religious disharmony when he called for the burning of Bibles containing the word “Allah”.

Politicians from both sides of the divide have urged the Attorney-General to review the case against Ibrahim.

The Star/Asia News Network Nov 5 2014

A mind-boggling spin 

Perkasa Chief Ibrahim Ali

IT smacks of double standards and no one can fault moderate-minded Malaysians, who have some sense of justice and fairness, to feel that the statement from the Attorney-General’s Chambers lacks any conviction.

The ordinary Malaysians are finding it difficult to be convinced by the legal arguments put up by the Attorney-General on why Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who had called for the burning of the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, has not breached sedition laws.

We are now told that Ibrahim was merely defending the sanctity of Islam. No one can accept this mind-boggling spin, more so when it comes from the principal legal adviser to the government.

It is appropriate that former Court of Appeal judge Datuk K.C. Vohrah and the former head of the prosecution division of the AGC, Datuk Stanley Isaacs, have put forth their views (The Star, Oct 23, Oct 31 and Nov 1) on why the A-G’s legal reasoning cannot stand. Vohrah had also served in the AGC and is fully aware of how the system works.

The A-G’s decision not to file charges against Ibrahim based on “context” and “intention”, which are actually matters for the court to decide under the Sedition Act, is a dangerous precedent.

In future, any extremist, of whatever faith, can call for the burning of any holy book, and then cite the same pathetic reason that he or she was merely defending the sanctity of his or her religion.

It is simply unacceptable for anyone to belittle another religion, and worse still, in this particular case, even calling for the burning of a holy book.

We were already shocked by the reply from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri in Parliament and the A-G’s statement justifying Ibrahim’s action certainly made matters worse.

We are now told that we must read Ibrahim’s remarks “in the entire context”. Going by the same argument, how then does the A-G justify the other recent sedition cases?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also weighed in with a comment that Ibrahim “was giving an opinion that could be accepted by Muslims as it was not seditious”.

Those of us who have followed closely the political career of the former prime minister would know that he has always stood by his supporters, in this case, Ibrahim. But with due respect to Dr Mahathir, we believe he should and would also stand by the side of justice and fairness, as we are sure he would oppose any form of extremism.

But the statements from the A-G and Dr Mahathir are unacceptable because what they are saying, in short and simple layman’s language, is that Ibrahim has done no wrong and they wonder what the fuss is all about.

Ibrahim can actually now say that he can carry on with what he has said. After all, the A-G, who is the sole authority in deciding who to prosecute, has not only let him off, but given us reasons that basically open the door for similar actions in the future. And it certainly does not help that Dr Mahathir, with his own way of reasoning over the burning of holy books, has stood by him.

The A-G’s argument on “context” and “intention” sounds more like what the defence counsel for Ibrahim would say if he had been charged. And even then, going by the provisions of the Sedition Act, such a defence would probably be struck down.

So we are to believe that Ibrahim is merely expressing an opinion which is not seditious. How convenient.

My fellow columnist in The Star and Universiti Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom has been charged with sedition for expressing an opinion which is not even about religion or race.

Many Malaysians are still wondering how Azmi’s opinion could have caused offence or threatened national security, while a number of high-profile and consistently recalcitrant extremists continue to get away with their offensive statements.

Who can blame Malaysians if they deem that the authorities are being selective in who they haul up for sedition.

If anyone dares to call for the burning of the Quran, I am confident that all rational-minded Malaysians will rise up and ask for the person to be arrested immediately and be charged with sedition.

If there is any non-Muslim stupid enough to make such a call, then all the non-Muslims in this country must speak out. No non-Muslim should remain silent if such an offensive remark is made to cause offence to their fellow citizens who are Muslims.

Likewise, I think Malaysians expect the same response from non-Christians when someone calls for the destruction of the Bible.

And the ordinary people’s response must be supported by the politicians and the leaders. It is very sad for Malaysia when politicians keep a deafening silence when gross injustice is done.

We expect our politicians to be the leaders of all Malaysians, regardless of their race and faith, and not to merely represent the interests of their own race.

No one should have the suspicion or perception that only the feelings of one race matters in Malaysia.

All it takes is for one individual or one NGO to express a negative view on the activities of another community, be it with regard to Oktoberfest, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, a concert or whatever, and suddenly the whole nation is engulfed in a major debate which takes up so much valuable time and resources, especially from the authorities who have more serious matters to deal with.

In a maturing democracy, we cannot prevent anyone from articulating their views and beliefs, even those that we find most objectionable.

Our challenge is to remind ourselves that while they do not represent the majority view, they must not be allowed to gain ground because the majority has chosen to remain silent. The voices of moderation must ring out loud and clear, all the time.

In a plural society like ours, everyone has the right to practise and celebrate any occasion. It is certainly far-fetched and even laughable to suggest that there are atheists and non-Muslims who want to weaken the faith of their fellow Malaysians.

Events like Halloween and Valentine’s Day do not even have any religious significance. In fact, they are nothing more than commercially driven opportunities for the entertainment and food outlets.

We should be thankful that we are a nation where religion is paramount. The first principle of our Rukunegara espouses our “Belief in God”.

But our faith is not just about religious rulings and paraphernalia. It is in the way we live our lives – how we exhibit compassion, mercy, justice for fellow human beings, and in our concerns over what is wrong and unjustifiable in our country, be it with regard to corruption, intolerance, violence, and the growing divide between the rich and the poor.

These should be the concerns of all religious leaders in their sermons and statements, instead of dwelling on petty issues. They should focus on common values shared by all Malaysians instead of dividing us further.

The Kelantan PAS state government is now determined to go ahead with the implementation of hudud law and again, non-Muslims are expected to believe that they would not be affected by these Islamic laws.

Whatever our faith, we are all closely linked in our daily lives. The laws peculiar to one faith, if implemented in a plural society, will have implications for everyone. To even suggest non-Muslims are not affected is laughable but there will be non-Muslims, because of their anger towards the federal government, who would actually want to believe so and even vote for PAS, which has never hidden its Islamist plans and ambition.

Let’s get our priorities and bearings right.

Malaysia is at the crossroads. We can, as a united people, go straight and take the middle path, and be sure we are on the correct track where we support one another.

Or we can allow ourselves to be divided and take different roads, which will mean we no longer believe in a common destiny.

Our choice is simple – we must all fight to keep Malaysia moderate and inclusive, and fully embrace the vision of our founding fathers.

On The Beat by Wong Chun Wai The Star/Asia News Network Sun Nov 2, 2014

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published.  In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

A case of selective non-prosecution

Untouchable?: Many felt that the A-G’s decision not to prosecute Ibrahim was faulty and untenable.

The case of Datuk Ibrahim Ali not being charged with sedition over his Bible-burning remarks remains a perplexing one for Malaysians seeking an answer to what they feel is an example of ‘selective non-prosecution’.

THE Attorney-General decided last week not to charge Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali with sedition for uttering words to the effect that Malay Bibles should be burned.

It is the same law under which nearly a dozen activists had been charged.

Although the Federal Constitution gives the A-G sole discretion whether to charge a person or not, that decision not to charge Ibrahim has invited considerable criticisms not only from retired judges and prosecutors but also from former and serving political leaders, priests and laymen.

They felt that the A-G’s decision was faulty, untenable and even smacks of double standards.

The legal arguments notwithstanding, the damage to inter-ethnic relations and to inter-religious harmony is incalculable.

Christians are upset because they felt there is a clear case of sedition but Ibrahim “escaped” being charged because the A-G stated that “he had no intention to create religious disharmony” when he called for the burning of those Bibles.

While judges and lawyers will argue over intention and context, the A-G decided that he would not lay charges because he thinks the “intention” was absent.

The A-G has usurped the powers of the courts.

“It is for the courts to decide “intention”, not him.

His decision means that Ibrahim got away scot-free.

And that is unacceptable to those who feel that Ibrahim has crossed the line and deserves to be punished.

They find it difficult to buy the A-G’s reasoning.

“It smacks of double standards,” said a well-known lawyer who declined to be named. “You can’t fault ordinary Malaysians for thinking otherwise.”

“This decision by the A-G is simply mind-blowing.

“His decision not to charge Ibrahim Ali is not only bad in law but he also walks a political minefield,” he said.

“His job is to lay the charges as he had on a dozen other activists who were charged with sedition.

“Let the court decide whether any of them had any ill-intention,” he said.

“Is Ibrahim Ali so influential that he is untouchable?” he asked.

There has been all sorts of speculation in the aftermath of the A-G’s decision, which was perceived to be bending backwards to accommodate right wing forces.

Another lawyer pointed out former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s support for Ibrahim.

Dr Mahathir made a big mistake by standing by Ibrahim and supporting him with his convoluted thoughts, the lawyer said.

“He should have stood behind moderate Malaysians in the country who are aghast at the way things are becoming,” she said.

Who can blame Malaysians for thinking that the authorities are being selective in deciding who to haul up in court when it comes to laying sedition charges?

Ordinary Malaysians are speaking up in the ways they know, in social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

These critics posted nasty comments on how Ibrahim is walking free and how the A-G, instead of laying charges, is acting like a defence lawyer.

Why is the reaction to “burning Malay Bibles” as uttered by Ibrahim so muted?

Why is it so defensive? Why is Dr Mahathir defending Ibrahim? Why is the A-G giving excuses for Ibrahim?

These are questions which ordinary Malaysians find perplexing.

The A-G should also use wisely the discretions allowed to him.

He should always have an ear on the ground on what the public feels is the right thing to do.

You can’t go wrong because this is a participatory democracy and not a dictatorship of a few over many.

>The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

By Baradan Kuppusamy The Star/Asia News Network Nov 4 2014

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Hong Kong students at risk of anti-China scheming by outsiders; Chinese abroad blast protests


The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong has lasted more than three weeks. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday held talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students. But given a lack of positivity on the part of the latter during the talks, it remains unknown when the Occupy movement will end.

The external political situation concerning Occupy Central is increasingly clear-cut. Western public opinion has given it full support. Besides, a mix of traditional forces that are confronting the current Chinese regime, including Tibetan, Xinjiang and Taiwan separatists, Falun Gong devotees, and pro-democracy activists, have beaten the drums for the Hong Kong protests like cheerleaders.

The Occupy Central activists and their adherents must wake up. They shouldn’t act as a puppet of those hostile external forces.

With the Hong Kong radical forces becoming a new member, the anti-China camp seems to be expanding. If this is the case, it will yield terrible results.

Hong Kong, the Asian financial hub and a role model for the rule of law, will be held hostage by those hostile external forces, transforming into a battlefield between them and the rising China.

We suggest the Occupy Central activists not take on such a perilous role. Being already embroiled in the political competition in the Asia-Pacific region, they may have been pushed further than they originally intended.

The young Hong Kong students who have participated in Occupy Central should know that China, which is developing rapidly, is their home country and Hong Kong is a part of China’s rise. They therefore enjoy more opportunities than their counterparts from a smaller country. Meanwhile, they have to accordingly take responsibility to safeguard China’s security as it rises.

If the Occupy Central forces keep advancing, this will attract more international anti-China forces. The longer the protests last, the harder it will be for the Occupy Central forces to back down.

Incredible role reversals have often occurred throughout history. A marginal part or even central part of a camp could be converted into the enemies of that camp. We strongly hope the Occupy Central activities won’t do so.

The West-supported external forces will continue cheering for Occupy Central. Exiles will take the Occupy movement as their chance.

Their aim is to strike a heavy blow against China and take it down, but is this the goal of the young student participants of Occupy Central? If not, they should withdraw from the protests as soon as possible.

And for a small number of hostile elements to China, the country knows how to deal with them.

- Global Times

Chinese community leaders in London blast HK protests

Leaders of the Chinese community in Britain on Monday called on protesters in Hong Kong to stop the Occupy Central movement and let things return to normal.

According to a statement issued by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, the Occupy Central movement has disrupted Hong Kong long enough and needs to be wrapped up soon.

The statement called for stability through the “one country, two systems” policy and continued successful economic development for the international financial capital.

Under Hong Kong’s basic law and its top legislature’s decisions, more than 5 million Hong Kong voters have a say in who will become the chief executive in 2017 through the “one man, one vote” electoral system, said Chu Ting Tang, chairman of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, at a forum on the Hong Kong situation in London’s Chinatown.

Residents of Hong Kong, under the “one country, two systems” rule, enjoy freedom of speech, religion, education and employment, Tang said, adding that “residents can demonstrate in the streets, criticize the government, media and members of the legislative body and monitor the government without restriction”.

Tang believes that Hong Kong residents have been enjoying prosperity from a thriving economy and that their standard of living has been improving year by year.

“Since rejoining the Chinese mainland in 1997, Hong Kong’s status as an international center for commerce and trade has been strengthened. The employment rate has also reached an all-time high,” Tang said.

Shan Sheng, president of the UK Chinese Association for the Promotion of National Reunification, noted that the Occupy Central movement has had a serious impact on the residents of Hong Kong by obstructing administrative operations.

The students among the protesters are young, some even not yet in their 20s, Shan said. Their understanding of politics is rather shallow.

Since being implemented in 1997, the policy of “one country, two systems” has been progressing smoothly in Hong Kong, Shan said, adding that real estate and the economy of Hong Kong have thrived.

The current protest movement is negatively influencing that development and the everyday livelihood of Hong Kong residents, Shan added.

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters, most of them students, joined the Occupy Central movement to express their discontent over the process set by the top legislature for electing the region’s next leader through universal suffrage.

China’s Hong Kong government on Tuesday held its first formal talks with students who have been participating in the Occupy Central movement since Sept 28.

- China Daily/Asia News Network

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Malaysian Tax Budget 2015 Highlights and Snapshots


Najib, who is Finance Minister, had presented his budget speech at 4pm in the Dewan Rakyat on October 10, 2014  Here are highlights:

 

 

While Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak described Budget 2015 as being a balance between the capital economy and people’s economy, analysts said the budget contained little to move markets either way.
This, according to analysts, should be a relief for a country where around 47% of the government’s bonds are held by foreigners.
“I would say probably largely a non-event from the market perspective,” said Wellian Wiranto, an economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.
“It’s not highlighting anything new…but in many ways the lack of surprises is actually a good thing.”

* Najib announces the theme for this year’s budget as “Budget 2015: The People’s Economy”.

* The allocation for Budget 2015 is RM273.9 billion, an increase of RM9.8 billion from the last budget.

* Government aims to lower fiscal deficit to 3.0% in 2015 from an expected 3.5% this year

* Operating expenditure RM223.4 billion, development expenditure RM50.5 billion.

* Payments to civil servants of RM65.6 billion is largest operating expenditure item.

*Federal government revenue collection estimated at RM235.2 billion in 2015, an increase of RM10.2 billion from 2014.

* From an economic perspective, when we achieved independence 57 years ago, we developed the country based on agriculture before progressing to a modern industrialised economy. Next, we moved into the upper-middle income phase. We are now moving towards a services-based economy.

* In brief, the objectives, principles and thrusts of the three Outline Perspective Plans, 10th Malaysia Plan, New Economic Policy, National Development Policy, National Vision Policy and since 2010, the National Transformation Policy, have all focused on poverty eradication, increasing income and restructuring of society. This is with the aim to achieve socio-economic goals; diversify the commodity-based economy; human capital development; enhancing competitiveness of the public and private sectors; higher value chain; inclusive development; as well as transformation of the government, economy, social and politics.

* Clearly, our former leaders in their wisdom have carried out responsibilities to develop Malaysia in their own mould. The struggle started with Tunku Abdul Rahman, followed by Tun Abdul Razak who had implemented development and restructured society, to Tun Hussein Onn who maintained peace and unity. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad modernised the country while Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi emphasised human capital development.

* Further, the present Government is committed to driving growth with a broader approach to place Malaysia on a strong foundation.

* This is my sixth budget since I assumed leadership of the administration, and the country’s 56th budget. The 2015 Budget completes the 10th Malaysia Plan.

* Further, in May 2015, the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) will be launched. At the same time, a new approach known as the Malaysian National Development Strategy (MyNDS) is being formulated.

* MyNDS will be a key basis to planning and preparation of programmes and projects under 11MP. The emphasis is on using limited resources optimally, with focus on high-impact projects and programmes at low cost as well as efficient and rapid implementation. This means Budget 2016 will be the trigger to the final five years of Malaysia’s progress to a high-income advanced economy by 2020.

* Many countries such as Korea, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and China began their economic progress based on agriculture and have since moved to an economy that emphasises high level of knowledge, skills, innovation and expertise.

* To remain resilient and competitive, Malaysia must move to an economy based on knowledge, high skills, expertise, creativity and innovation.

* Indeed, from the economic perspective, a rapidly developing country typically generates wealth through capital economy activities. However, the rakyat voice their grievances and complaints through blogs, letters, meetings, interviews and dialogues over the millions spent, billions allocated and various mega projects questioning the benefits to the people.

* In 2015, with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) government revenue is estimated at RM23.2 billion. However, as a caring government, we have exempted several goods from GST amounting to RM3.8 billion.

* With the implementation of GST, the Sales and Services Tax (SST), will be abolished resulting in revenue foregone of RM13.8 billion. This means that after deducting RM13.8 billion and RM3.8 billion from a revenue of RM23.2 billion, the Government will have a balance of RM5.6 billion.

* Of the total, RM4.9 billion is channelled back to the people through assistance programmes such as the increase in Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M). Finally, net revenue collection from GST will only amount to RM690 million.

* Goods and Services Tax (GST) : RON95 petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exempted from GST.

* Revenue from GST in 2015 estimated at RM23.2 billion.

* Exemption of GST on several goods amounting to RM3.8 billion.

* Abolishment of SST will see RM13.8 billion in revenue forgone.

* Net revenue collection from GST will only amount to RM690 million.

* Establish another 20 KR1M in Peninsular Malaysia.

* Set up price watch team comprising consumer associations.

* Strengthen GST Enforcement Unit with 2,270 personnel, Price Monitoring Unit with 1,300 personnel and Consumer Squads with 202,800 volunteers as well as involve 579 mukim and village heads.

* Electricity consumption not subject to GST increased from the first 200 units to 300 units, move to benefit 70% of households.

* Income Tax: Income tax rates to be cut by one to three percentage points. Families with monthly income of less than RM4,000 will not have to pay tax

* From 2016, the corporate tax rate will be reduced by one percentage point from 25% to 24%, and for small and medium sized enterprises to 19% from 20%.

* Infrastructure: LRT3 linking Bandar Utama, Shah Alam and Klang: RM9 billion

* 45-km second MRT line from Selayang to Putrajaya: RM23 bilionThe subsidies rationalisation will continue, Najib said today. – The Malaysian Insider graphics by Heza Kamaruddin, October 10, 2014.The subsidies rationalisation will continue, Najib said today. – The Malaysian Insider graphics by Heza Kamaruddin, October 10, 2014.

* Upgrade of East Cost railway: RM150 million

* 36-km East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE): RM1.6 billion

* 47-km Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway: RM4.2 billion

* Subsidies: Government plans to reduce the overall bill for subsidies and cash assistance by 7% to RM37.7 billion in 2015 from RM40.6 billion in 2014.

* Govenment will reform the petroleum subsidy regime soon, to adopt a system that benefits the lower income group.

* Highspeed Broadband: Total of RM2.7 billion will be spent over the next three years to build 1,000 new telecommunications towers and laying of undersea cables.

* Property: Budget extends 50% stamp duty exemption for first time home buyers and increases the purchase limit from RM400,000 to RM500,000. The exemption will be given until the end of 2016.

* A 10% loan guarantee to enable borrowers to obtain full financing including cost of insurance. Borrowers can also withdraw from EPF Account 2 to top up their monthly installment and other related costs.

* This guarantee is offered on a “first come, first served basis’ for 20,000 units only.

* Ceiling of household income for PR1MA homes increased to RM10,000, RM1.3 billion to be allocated to build 80,000 units PR1MA homes.

* Education: RM325 million to be allocated for the 1Malaysia Book Voucher Programme, benefitting about 1.3 million students.

* RM100 schooling assistance to all 5.4 million primary and secondary students to continue.

* A total of RM1.2 billion will be allocated to increase student intake in vocational colleges and community colleges as well as upgrading colleges.

* RM1.05 billion allocated to develop and maintain education facilities, and for school upgrade programmes.

* RM3 billion allocated for education sponsorship via the Public Service Dept (JPA) , Education Ministry and Health Ministry.

* RM30 millon fund set up for training and technical assistance of youth from low income Indian families.

* Health: Tax relief for medical expenses and treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure and heart attack increased to RM6,000 per year.

* 30 more 1Malaysia clinics and a health clinic in Cyberjaya will be built. The Government will station 30 doctors in these clinics.

* Sports: An allocation of RM103 million to implement a Sporting Nation Blueprint.

* Identify sports talent starting from primary school through Malaysian Talent Identification programme. The programme involves testing, screening and talent specialisation among students.

* Improve the quality of high-performance sports for six selected fields in the first phase – Football, Cycling, Badminton, Sepak Takraw, Swimming and Athletics.

* Public transportation: Provide intercity bus services to those residing outside Kuala Lumpur (KL) but work in KL. The service will be offered with a discounted monthly fare of 30%. For a start, three bus routes will be operational namely the Rawang-KL, Klang-KL and Seremban-KL.

* Provide Electric Train Service (ETS) for Ipoh-Butterworth route starting April 2015.

* Upgrade stage bus services in several states through a contracting system with existing bus companies. The programme will be implemented in phases in Kuching, Ipoh, Seremban, Kuala Terengganu and Kangar.

* Tourism: RM316 million set aside for various programmes under Tourism and Culture Ministry.

* Entrepreneurship: In 2015, TEKUN to provide additional funds of RM500 million, of which RM350 million allocated for Bumiputera entrepreneurs, Young Indian Entrepreneurs Financing Scheme (RM50 million), Young Professional Women Entrepreneurs Development Programme (RM50 million), and Armed Forces Veteran Entrepreneur Development Programme (RM50 million).

* Soft loans totalling RM50 million for SME entrepreneurs from Chinese community, and RM30 million for hawkers and petty traders.

* To attract more expatriate entrepreneurs establish startups in Malaysia, the paid-up capital for startups is set at RM75,000.

* Eligible expatriate startup entrepreneurs will be given work pass for one year.

* Additional allocation of RM30 million to entrepreneurs under programme Skim Usahawan Permulaan Bumiputera (Superb), with participation to be enlarged to include East Malaysian entrepreneurs.

* RM30 million to be allocated through Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship among Indian women.

* BR1M for those earning RM3,000 and below will be increased to RM950 from RM650.

* For those earning RM3,000 to RM4,000, BR1M increased to RM750 (from RM450).

* For the above two categories, payment will be made in three instalments – January, May and September.

* For those aged 21 and above, with income not exceeeding RM2,000, BR1M increased to RM350 (from RM300) in one-off payment early next year.

* Civil service: Half-month bonus to all civil servants with a minimum payment of RM500 to be paid in January 2015.

* Pensioners to receive special financial assistance of RM250.

* Women now represent only 38% of the total workforce in the country. To enhance the contribution of women in national development, women’s opportunities to return to the workplace via 1Malaysia Support for Housewife.

* The government will help also professional women return to the workplace via Program Women Career Comeback.

* Women, Family and Community Development Ministry will get RM2.26 billion to enhance contribution of women.

* Student loans: For students with an outstanding amount in their PTPTN loans, a 20% discount will be given if they make a total repayment of their loan, on or before March 31, 2015.

* NGOs: A one-off grant of RM50 million to creditable NGOs, including uniformed bodies that are involved in community development programmes, unity, social welfare, consumerism, health and security.

* National security: RM17.7 billion allocated to Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, RM9.1 bil to the PDRM, and RM804 mil to Maritime Enforcement Agency Malaysia to strengthen maritime enforcement.

* RM660 million allocated for Eastern Sabah Security Zone for increased security.

* A sum of RM117 million will be allocated to strengthen the role of RELA under the Ministry of Home Affairs for training and capacity building. – October 10, 2014.

‘Goodies’ not enough to offset rising living costs, say consumer groups

Despite more cash handouts, lower income tax and a multitude of items exempt from the goods and services tax (GST), consumer groups said Budget 2015 was not enough to offset rising living costs for Malaysians.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) CEO Datuk Paul Selvaraj said consumers would still had to pay a premium for housing as well as petrol because of the lack of public transport.

He also said the lack of government enforcement would give rise to profiteering once the GST was implemented April next year at a rate of 6%.

“It looks like the government has taken certain measures to minimise the impact of GST, many are zero-rated, while there is no tax on petrol.

“But our concern is profiteering. I am concerned that sellers will take advantage of the GST and increase the actual price, so zero-rated items will be sold at inflated prices,” Selvaraj told The Malaysian Insider.

“We feel that all items should be labelled – what is zero-rated and what is taxed. The government should also set up a hotline for consumers to turn to if they are unhappy with their purchase.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced yesterday when tabling the budget that the GST was expected to raise RM23.2 billion in revenue. But RM3.8 billion in zero-rated goods would be deducted from this amount.

Selvaraj also said that despite petrol prices having gone up from last week’s subsidy cut, the government did not address alternatives for the rakyat to wean them off their fuel dependency.

On October 2, the government reduced the fuel subsidy of the RON95 petrol and diesel by 20 sen. Petrol now costs RM2.30 a litre compared with RM2.10, while diesel costs RM2.20 compared with RM2 previously.

“The bus system is not being addressed, and it’s to the point that there is no choice for the ordinary people except to rely on their cars to commute.”

Another issue for the average consumers, said Selvaraj, was housing, with homes either being beyond their means or located too far from the city centre that they would have to pay a premium on petrol for their daily commute.

“There have been many efforts to create affordable housing, but the government hasn’t done enough to make it difficult for speculators to enter the market. The market should have stronger regulators.”

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said he was sceptical that prices would go down once the GST was implemented, despite the long list of exempted items, including RON95 petrol, diesel, noodles, coffee and tea.

“Even if those are exempt, input cost will go up. Transport cost, the cost of raw materials… in the end, you will still pay more,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“CAP has never agreed with the GST because we say it’s a regressive tax. They should have implemented the more progressive inheritance tax.”

Mohamed also shrugged off the government’s decision to lower income tax by one to three percentage points, noting that this would not benefit the lower-income groups who did not make enough to qualify for income tax.

“We’re talking about only rich consumers benefitting from this. Can you imagine how many millionaires will now be taxed even less? They should have introduced different income tax rates instead.”

He added that the government made a mistake in not implementing the sin tax, noting the economic and social costs alcohol and cigarette consumption had on Malaysians.

“The BR1M is not likely to offset extra costs. I don’t think anyone has done any research on how effective it is for the people. It’s just one-off,” he added, referring to the 1Malaysia People’s Aid cash vouchers.

Najib announced yesterday that BR1M for the lower-income group would be raised from RM650 to RM950 next year, while households earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000 a month would now receive RM750.

Single people aged 21 and above and not earning more than RM2,000 a month are entitled to BR1M worth RM350, an increase of RM50, said Najib.

Datuk Nadzim Johan, an activist from the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association, said BR1M should not be permanent.

“Our people are not able to appreciate it and we are afraid that it may not be used effectively. It is a liability,” he said.

Unlike the other consumer groups, Nadzim said the budget was too consumer-friendly to the point that it was counterproductive.

“For example, about 1,000 products are exempted from the GST, it’s almost like most products are not taxed. I also think the margin between the present tax and the new tax is too small.

“All in all, I feel that the budget is too soft and Malaysians can’t appreciate it. There shouldn’t be anything for consumers to complain about.” – October 11, 2014.

- The Malaysian Insiders

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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.

Conclusion

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

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The Bridled protest: Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to protestors


Hongkong protest  Pro-democracy protesters flash lights during a rally to protest the violence seen in Mong Kok, in Hong Kong, China, 4 October 2014. – EPA/ALEX HOFFORD

The Bridled protest

Despite the tension in Hong Kong, both sides have exercised tremendous self-restraint, which must be unusual, if not unprecedented, when seen through Western eyes.

THERE has been plenty of restraint by both the protest movement and the authorities in Hong Kong. The threat by some student leaders to storm government buildings did not take place after the midnight deadline on Thursday.

If the international media still expect to see a serious clash between the protesters and the police, then I believe they will be disappointed.

Beijing must surely be aware that the world is watching. They would never want a repeat of the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 where many protesters, mostly students, were reportedly killed. Until today, no one knows exactly the actual number of casualties.

The Chinese government has also not used harsh or emotive language except to say that the gathering is illegal and the crowd should disperse. The protesters are angry at China’s plan to vet election candidates for the first direct election of the chief executive in 2017.

Beijing had ruled at the end of August that while Hong Kong residents would have a vote, their choice of candidates would be restricted by a committee. The protest began on Sept 22 when student groups launched a week-long boycott of classes.

On Sept 28, Occupy Central and student protests joined forces and took over central Hong Kong in what is now dubbed as the “umbrella revolution”.

Despite the tension, both sides have exercised tremendous self-restraint, which must be unusual, if not unprecedented, when seen through Western eyes.

The protest was orderly, and quite extraordinary, based on the news reports which showed how protesters collected garbage and separated them into recycling bins and how the police held up placards warning of impending tear gas action. And there was even a poignant picture of a policeman helping a protester hit by tear gas.

There are good reasons – the people of  Hong Kong are fully aware that nothing that they demand, at least for now, will be fulfilled immediately. They are practical people but they want their voices to be heard by Beijing.

The people have also accepted the fact that Hong Kong is part of China. The British returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 and nothing is going to change that. The future of Hong Kong is in the hands of China – not the United Kingdom or the United States.

But the locals are also angry at the huge number of mainlanders crowding into tiny Hong Kong. The pressure on the housing, health and education sectors has led to great resentment.

There are plenty of video clips on YouTube posted by Hong Kong people on what they see as the crass and rude behaviour of the less-polished mainlanders, which ranges from eating in the underground train to defecating in the streets to loud chattering. These have led to scuffles between Hong Kong people and mainland tourists and these are well documented.

There has been retaliation, in the apparent clash of cultures, except for the fact that both are ethnically Chinese. One professor appeared on Chinese TV and called the people of Hong Kong names while claiming that they were paying homage to London. He also hammered the Hong Kong people for preferring to speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin.

On the other hand, advertisements have appeared in Hong Kong newspapers, referring to the mainlanders as locusts who hog the resources of Hong Kong.

As far back as January, the South China Morning Post had reported on protesters who marched along Canton Road, a luxury shopping street that is a popular destination for mainland tourists, holding up signs that read “Go Back to China” and “Reclaim Hong Kong”.

Xenophobia seems like an oxymoron because the Hong Kong residents and the mainlanders are all Chinese and belong to the same country.

Ironically, Hong Kong’s retail sector is crying at the missed business opportunities of the Oct 1 China national day. This is when mainlanders flock to Hong Kong for long holidays and, of course, to dine and shop. This time they have stayed away as a result of the protests and it is Hong Kong that is paying the price. Shops have been forced to shut because of the protests and businessmen are blaming the student leaders.

In fact, Beijing does not have to do anything against the protesters. The central government can afford to sit it out because the students will eventually have to go back to classes, the protesters need to report for work, and businesses must go on.

This is Hong Kong after all, where the cost of living is among the highest in the world. Sitting on the road will not last long when there are hefty bills to be paid.

A middle-ground solution to allow both sides to back down without losing face looked possible, but the plan for the students to talk with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam appears to have been scuttled by the clashes in Mongkok.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said he would not negotiate with the student leaders, nor would he resign.

Now, the students have called off the talks with Lam, claiming that the police had allowed “triad” gangsters to infiltrate their protest camps.

But the talks will have to eventually be held because it is the right thing to do. Any dialogue between them will reflect the genuine desire of both sides to end the impasse. It will also show that Beijing is prepared to hear and respect the voices of the young people in Hong Kong, which is an autonomous territory.

This is an opportunity for the students to put on record that they accept Beijing. The reality is that their anti-communist China slogans, which may be morale-boosting during their protests, won’t change a thing. It is better that these students be practical instead of being too idealistic.

Business Hong Kong will not allow students to lead at the expense of Hong Kong and China, it is as simple as that. The clashes between the students and the traders in Mongkok on Friday are a sign that patience is wearing thin for those who need to earn a living.

Interestingly enough, most of the student leaders in the Tiananmen protest are now growing old in exile in the US, UK and France. Unable to return home, they could never have imagined how Beijing has embraced capitalism and the speed of economic progress as China’s middle class expands.

As academics Chen Dingding and Wang Jianwei of the University of Macau correctly pointed out in an article, “The English word ‘crisis’ in Chinese actually consists of two words: danger and opportunity. A crisis itself is not necessarily a bad thing – it also presents an opportunity to solve the problem.”

I agree. In the case of Hong Kong, it is better that Beijing let Hong Kong grow at its own pace and in its own way. And the people of Hong Kong can protest, but they should not go overboard.

Source: On the beat Wong Chun Wai The Star/Asia News Network

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to protestors

Hongkong protest_Beijing Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability are hard-won and should be treasured, while Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held …

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability are hard-won and should be treasured, while Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to those organizers of the Occupy Central movement who have ulterior motives, critics appealed.

Yin Haoliu, a Chinese American freelancer, wrote in an open letter to three initiators of the illegal movement: “Democracy is a step-by-step process that can not be approached in haste, otherwise it will bring about troubles.”

“What’s wrong with the Communist Party of China which hopes to see a person who loves China and loves Hong Kong elected as Hong Kong’s chief executive? Are you willing to choose a chief executive that sells Hong Kong and the whole country?” Yin asked in the letter.

“You should know that on your opposite side are the silent majority… if Hong Kong falls into chaos, you could flee to foreign countries, but how about the ordinary Hong Kongers that are left behind?” he said.

“Christopher Francis Patten said the decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 that granted universal suffrage in Hong Kong was false…then was he himself as the governor of Hong Kong elected by the Hong Kong people?” the retired doctor said.

Yin said Hong Kong had tided through numerous difficulties with full support of the Chinese mainland since the Basic Law was put into practice, so the initiators of Occupy Central should treasure the city’s current prosperity and stability.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow hopes that stability will resume as soon as possible in Hong Kong.

“Events in Hong Kong belong to China’s internal affairs. Russia hopes the stability of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) would be resumed as soon as possible,” the ministry’s information and press department told Xinhua.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam said in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao that many reports on Hong Kong made by the Western media were untrue and biased to China.

They intentionally ignored a fact that Hong Kong had never implemented a democratic system under the British rule for some 150 years, he said, adding that Beijing’s plan has granted Hong Kong much more democratic space than what Hong Kongers got in the times of British-ruled Hong Kong.

“Everyone shall be clear about one point, that is, what the central government did conforms with Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” the foreign minister said.

He said Hong Kong is deeply dependent on the Mainland, including employment and livelihood.

Even though a little anti-Mainland sentiment appeared in Hong Kong, the central government is still generous to Hong Kong, he added.

Jeff Bader, who ran Obama’s first term White House East Asia policy, told the Washington Post that for Beijing, there is no room for compromise on issues such as Chinese stability and the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

He also mentioned that millions of Hong Kongers will not support or tolerate the protest that grinds the city to halt for days.

The negative impact of Occupy Central includes a bit of a brain drain, Bader predicted.

Hong Kong has been partially paralysed by the large-scale protests that started on Sept. 28.

A large number of Occupy protesters have taken over major streets in Mong Kok, one of the city’s most bustling areas, for at least four days, which has seriously affected businesses of local shops, restaurants and vendors, and forced schools and banks to be closed.

Friday afternoon, some anti-Occupy people clashed with Occupy protesters in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, Hong Kong’s two major commercial areas. Several people were injured during the clashes.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave an urgent TV broadcast Friday evening, calling on all citizens, no matter what attitude they may have toward the Occupy movement, to keep calm and not to use violence or disrupt public order under any circumstances.



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Hong Kong CE calls for peace after clashes

HONG KONG, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) — Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave an urgent TV broadcast on Friday evening calling for peace after Occupy protesters clashed with anti-Occupy people in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, Hong Kong’s two major commercial areas.

Leung called on all citizens, no matter what attitude they have toward the Occupy, they have to keep calm, and not use violence or disrupt order under any situation. Full story

Chinese public voice opposition againt HK Occupy Central

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Chinese people from all walks of life have voiced their strong denouncement and opposition against the illegal gatherings of the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong over these days.

The Occupy Central movement has seriously affected the social order in Hong Kong and runs counter to the rule of law, said Beijing citizen Zhao Qing. Full story.

Firmly safeguard rule of law in HK: People’s Daily

BEIJING, Oct. 3 — Democracy and the rule of law are interdependent, and a democracy without the rul[Read it]

The keys to China’s success


China National Day_Female guard  Female Honor Guards train for National Day celebration Video: http://t.cn/RhmCK8o

The institutional system and decision-making capabilities of democratic centralism have proven to be the country’s advantage

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of people’s congress system and the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In the past 65 years China has developed rapidly and has made great achievements. Democratic centralism is the core mechanism of the China model, the key to the China miracle, and China’s advantage compared with other major developing countries.

China is still a developing country, and it lags behind the developed countries in many aspects. But it would be wrong to always attribute the developed countries’ achievements to their democratic system. It’s also wrong to deny China’s success because of some partial setbacks or mistakes and to blame these on China’s democratic system.

Democratic centralism is an institutional system as well as a decision-making model. Democratic centralism is an organization principle of the governing Communist Party of China, as well as national organizations, which links the CPC and the national mechanism based on the people’s congress system.

Under democratic centralism, the decision-making process is first democratic discussion and then consensus on opinions on a democratic basis, which guarantees the decision-making process responds to public opinion to the greatest extent.

Currently there are two major political systems in the world: democratic centralism and representative democracy. If we want to make a comparison between the two systems, we should first make sure the premise of “comparability” holds. In other words, China should be compared with those developing countries that also have a long history, huge population and suffered a long time as a colony or semi-colony.

We can divide all the 12 countries with populations of more than 100 million into three groups. The first contains developed countries such as the United States and Japan, whose development is not due to representative democracy, but freedom of speech, rule of law, a market economy and exploitation of other countries.

The second group contains countries that have turned to representative democracy such as Russia. In the 1990s, the former Soviet Union fell apart and terrorism was widespread. The public called for Vladimir Putin’s “controllable democracy”, which has enabled Russia to revive.

The third group contains those developing countries that were colonized for a long time, such as Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Representative democracy is the bottleneck for most of these countries’ development and their people’s welfare because of strong social forces and weak national power. The political organizations and family forces behind representative democracy make local social forces in these countries ever stronger, while national power is often too weak to turn national will into reality in this political system.

Some Western people compare India with China and expect India, the largest democracy according to the West’s definition, to surpass China someday because they believe that representative democracy is the biggest advantage of India.

Yet in the Human Development Index, China has risen from the rank of 101 in 2001 to the rank of 91 in 2014, while India has dropped from 122 in 2001 to 135 in 2014. In the Poverty Population Index, 11.8 percent of China’s population is below the international poverty line, while the percentage of India is 32.68. In the Corruption Perceptions Index, China ranks 80th while India ranks 96th. In the Ease of Business Index, China ranks 90th while India ranks 134th. In 2013, China’s per capita GDP was $6,629, which is more than four times the $1,592 of India. The gap of per capita GDP between China and India is larger than two decades ago.

Why has the gap between China and India become larger? India is a democratic society but still has some feudal legacies, and the unfairness under feudalism can hardly accelerate market economy development. As to its “superior” political system, Indian-American political commentator Fareed Zakaria describes it as “bandit democracy”. That means, a candidate who committed a crime yesterday may be elected today. India has about 2,000 parties. The country’s high degree of fragmentation means it fails to propel public policies that benefit its citizens. The representative democracy of India is fragmented democracy that lacks authoritative policy execution.

Compared with the major developing countries that practice representative democracy, China’s centralized democracy guarantees freedom, autonomy, a market economy and also authoritative governmental organizations. China has a lead in governance compared with other major developing countries mainly because of democratic centralism.

Democratic centralism has gone through the first stage during the revolutionary period, the second stage during the first three decades after the founding of New China, and the third stage during the three decades after reform and opening-up. From history and reality we can clearly see the advantages of this political system.

By Yang Guangbin (China Daily)/Asia News Network

The author is a professor of political studies with Renmin University of China.

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17th Asia Games 2014 Medal Tally – 30/9/14

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 China 120 76 58 254
2 Korea 50 53 59 162
3 Japan 37 50 54 141
4 Kazakhstan 15 16 24 55
5 Iran 12 11 10 33
6 DPR Korea 8 10 11 29
7 Qatar 8 0 3 11
8 Chinese Taipei 8 8 14 30
9 Thailand 7 4 14 25
10 India 6 8 31 45
11 Uzbekistan 5 5 13 23
12 Hong Kong 4 6 20 30
13 Mongolia 4 4 10 18
14 Malaysia 3 9 9 21
15 Bahrain 3 5 1 9
16 Indonesia 3 4 7 14
17 Myanmar 2 1 0 3
18 Vietnam 1 9 20 30
19 Singapore 1 4 7 12
20 Kuwait 1 3 2 6
21 Saudi Arabia 1 1 0 2
22 Tajikistan 1 1 0 2
23 Pakistan 1 0 1 2
24 UAE 1 0 1 2
25 Macau 0 3 0 3
26 Kyrgyzstan 0 2 2 4
27 Philippines 0 2 2 4
28 Turkmenistan 0 1 2 3
29 Laos 0 1 1 2
30 Bangladesh 0 1 0 1
31 Lebanon 0 1 0 1
32 Iraq 0 0 2 2
33 Sri Lanka 0 0 1 1
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