US hypocrisy in international relations

US President Barack Obama deplanes upon his arrival at the Royal Malaysian Airforce base to attend the 27th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2015. – AFP

Issues of good governance, democracy and human rights will always be low on the agenda of any country when dealing in foreign affairs.

THE first American president to visit us was Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s. His reasons for visiting were probably the same as President Barack Obama’s: security (although in those days it was about the “threat” of Vietnam and the feared domino effect of nations falling under the thrall of Communism, whereas now it’s Islamic State) and economy (although then it was probably more about ensuring we keep on supplying tin and rubber whereas now it’s about keeping us from being too influenced by China).

Whenever the President of the United States visit another country, he is bound to make waves of some sort. According to oral history (i.e. my mum and dad), when LBJ came here all sorts of craziness ensued, like the inexplicable chopping-down of strategic trees; as though some renegade monkey was going to throw himself at the presidential convoy.

Our Prime Minister at the time, Tunku Abdul Rahman, wasn’t too fussed about the visit, saying that Johnson needn’t have come at all.

Obama’s visit wasn’t quite as colourful, with security measures being limited to thousands of guns and the closing of the Federal Highway (no more monkeys in KL) and all our leaders expectedly excited and giddy.

What I found interesting about Mr Obama’s trip is his consistent request to meet with “the youth” and civil society. He did it the last time he was here and he did it again this time.

This is all well and good; he’s quite a charming, intelligent fellow and he says soothing things. So what if he gave us a couple of hours of traffic hell (in this sense, the American Presidency is fair for he treats his citizens and foreigners alike: I have been reliably informed that whenever Obama visits his favourite restaurant in Malibu, the whole town is gridlocked by security measures. What, you can’t do take away, Barack?).

Anyway, I see no harm in all these meetings. But then neither do I see any good. At least not any real and lasting good, apart from perhaps the thrill of meeting one of the most powerful people on earth and having him say things that match your own world view.

The world of social media went a bit loopy when a young man at the “town hall meeting” with youths asked the President to raise issues of good governance with our Prime Minister, to which he replied that he would. And maybe he did, but at the end of the day, so what?

Frankly that’s all he will do, a bit of lip service, because issues of good governance, democracy and human rights will always be low on the agenda of any country when dealing in international affairs. They may make a big song and dance about it, but they don’t really care.

And before you accuse me of anti-Americanism, I believe this applies to most, if not all, countries. The Americans like us because we appear to be hard in the so-called “war on terror”.

They need us, not because we are such a huge trading partner, but because they want us on their side (by way of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) in the economic battles that they have been, and will be, continuing to fight against China.

We see this behaviour of putting self-interest over any sort of serious stand on principle happening again and again. Why is it that the United Nations Security Council did nothing when Saddam Hussein massacred thousands of Kurds using chemical weapons, but took hurried military action when he invaded Kuwait?

Perhaps it is because at the time of the Kurdish genocide, Saddam was fighting Iran which was deemed by some, at least, as the great enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if he is a genocidal butcher.

It is trite to mention the hypocrisies abound in international relations. Anyone with the vaguest interest in world affairs can see it. To expect any less is naïve.

Besides, there is another danger of having a big power like the US mess around with our national problems. If they do so, it will be all too easy for the rabid so-called nationalists amongst us to scream that foreign intervention is leading to loss of sovereignty and national pride. Their “patriotism” will muddy the waters, adding issues to confuse people when there need not be any added issues at all.

The point of this article is this – for those of us who want to create a nation with true democracy and respect for human rights, we’re on our own folks.

By Azman Sharom brave new world The Star/Asia News Network

Azmi Sharom ( is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.


United States Hypocrisy | A critical analysis of the American

A critical analysis of the American empire’s high-minded rhetoric, and the ways in which it continually fails to square with reality. (by Caleb Gee)

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Real estate crowdfunding in Malaysia

CROWDFUNDING – the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people typically using an online platform – has gained popularity due to the massive demand and supply in today’s competitive market.

In one way, it benefits start-ups and entities that require funds to either commence or expand their business portfolio.

Investors have the opportunity to participate in any potential investment that they are comfortable with and which corresponds to their personal investment portfolio via a simple click online. It is a chance to participate early in something potentially very big.

The Securities Commission has approved six equity crowdfunding platforms for issuers to offer share subscriptions to interested investors. This comes with strict compliance and regulations imposed on the platforms providing such equity crowdfunding services. The good news for investors is that these platforms, which represent another type of investment option, are expected to be launched very soon.

Rising property prices have increased the investment cost for real estate investors. Consequently, real estate investment trusts, which offer liquid stakes in real estate complemented by constant dividend yields, have become fashionable. Alternatively, real estate investors may also leverage on the informal real estate investors club that attracts a lower acquisition cost with bulk purchasing arrangements with developers.

We can draw one conclusion from these real estate investment options – that property investment is no longer an individual game but a team sport that thrives on leverage and collective bargaining.

There are even suggestions that political parties raise funds via crowdfunding in a bid to promote transparency and efficiency. This makes it easier to comprehend the call for crowdfunding in a sector like property. So, how does real estate crowdfunding work?

Online platform

The basic concept of crowdfunding is an online platform operated by an approved operator and regulated by a certain ministry that provides services to matchmake the issuer and the investor. The obligation of the operator is to conduct sufficient due diligence on the issuer and its product prior to allowing the issuer to campaign for fund-raising on its online platform.

To promote independence, there should not be any relationship between the operator and the issuer, and the operator should not personally join the fund-raising campaign by the issuer. Besides this, the operator has to approach private financial institutions or trust companies to set up trust accounts for the investment funds to capture, as trustee, those investors who are willing to invest in the issuer.

Similarly, to remain independent, the operator should not be related to the private trustees or financial institutions.

In this investment option, the utmost requirement for the issuer is that they shall be either a developer, a real estate agency or a land owner who owns the property slated for development and who is seeking to raise funds for that purpose. The operator may perform due diligence on the land background and require the issuer to show proof of ownership of the said land and also the proposed development plan. These are to be advertised on its platform as convincing tools to attract investors.

Nonetheless, contrary to conventional real estate investment where you would get the key to the property and may use it as a tangible asset for further financing in the future, any investment into the real estate crowdfunding platform does not give you ownership of an immovable property, unless it is agreed upon and offered by the issuer based on its fund-raising campaign.

The upper hand here is that the expected term for your return on investment (ROI) may be fixed and shorter. Investors may receive the expected ROI upon completion of the development. The investment amount is also within an affordable limit, and information is easily accessible via the Internet. Crowdfunding also promotes transparency in one’s investment and with collective investors, the bargaining power with the issuer is also greater as compared to individual investors.

Real estate crowdfunding might still be a new concept and some might have never heard of it until now, but with real estate investment running the risk of remaining merely a dream for the mid-range salary earner, it might be a good alternative to maximise returns on your hard-earned money without a hefty price tag.

However, as with all forms of investment, there are risks involved here despite the due diligence performed by the operators. Smart investors, nonetheless, always walk the extra mile to conduct their personal due diligence on the accuracy of the information made available on the crowdfunding platform.

The current regulatory framework only permits equity crowdfunding for the real estate business and is not yet a direct crowdfunding avenue into the acquisition of real estate.

By Chris Tan Real legal viewpoint

Chris Tan is the founder and managing partner of Chur Associates.

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Kuala Lumpur property: KSK Land ups the ante with iconic 8 Conlay

KSK Group Bhd chairman Tan Sri Kua Sian Kooi with daughter Joanne who is KSK CEO & KSK Land Sdn Bhd MD

Flexibility: 8 Conlay units have the flexibility that allows residents to live their story the way they desire.

Fresh from announcing that its branded residence for Tower A at 8 Conlay project will be sold at a record RM3,200 per sq ft, Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur has now been recognised under the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme.

IF 8 Conlay’s RM3,200 per sq ft (psf)selling price has set tongues wagging for possibly setting a new pricing record in luxury living, here is another development to add to the several “firsts” the project has notched since it was announced some two-and-a-half years ago.

Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur, which is a component of 8 Conlay, has been recognised as an entry point project under the Tourism National Key Economic Area (NKEA) of the ETP – the Government’s initiative to propel the economy into high-income status by 2020.

Kempinski Hotels, Europe’s oldest luxury hotelier, is the hospitality partner of 8 Conlay’s owner and property developer KSK Land Sdn Bhd.

The hotelier will provide services for the project’s branded residence towers as well as manage the hotel tower.

“We got it (the endorsement) recently,” declares a proud Joanne Kua, who is the managing director of KSK Land.

According to the 30-year-old, the recognition is a sign of “quality assurance” that will place 8 Conlay on the global map.

“Even though we are in the ETP because of Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Kempinski is also servicing our branded residence.

“This means there is a level of service that we need to adhere to for the entire development. This has always been what we have been reiterating at KSK Land, where every development we undertake has to be of good quality, and the service we provide to customers is always on top of our minds,” Joanne tells StarBizWeek.

“Being the owner of Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur, we are proud to be pushing the boundaries by bringing the Kempinski brand into the Malaysian market because we are one of the few – if not only – fully integrated branded residence developments in the KLCC area.”

Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur is slated to open its doors in 2020, coinciding incidentally with the planned “Visit Malaysia Year” in that same year.

In terms of numbers, Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur is projected to bring in RM19.8mil in gross national income or GNI in the year 2020, which is expected to grow in the following years. Job-wise, the hotel is expected to create some 780 employment opportunities when it opens its doors in January 2020, while committed private investments amount to RM360mil, shares Joanne. This RM360mil is the cost of developing the hotel minus the land cost.

Shedding more light on the ETP recognition, the KSK Group director for corporate strategy and investments Pankaj C Kumar says that these numbers have been audited by the panel of auditors at the Performance Management and Delivery Unit or Pemandu, the driver of the ETP initiative.

“We started engaging with them early last year. Under the ETP’s Tourism NKEA, the Government’s plan is to increase the number of four- and five-star hotels, as well as increase the room rate in Malaysia, which is still relatively lower as compared to the region. They also want to create more vibrancy within the KLCC and Bukit Bintang areas,” says Pankaj.

Kempinski Hotels chief executive officer (CEO) Alejandro Bernabé says the ETP recognition raises the profile of its upcoming hotel in Kuala Lumpur. “For us, this creates even bigger expectations not from the construction point of view, but from the deliverance of (service) expectations. With the opening of the hotel in 2020 coinciding with a planned Visit Malaysia Year, we have to ensure we get it right from day one, as we cannot afford to let the honour of the country down,” he says in the joint interview. Bernabé was in town for the launch of 8 Conlay’s signature sales gallery on Wednesday. During the launch, phase one of 8 Conlay’s branded residence units known as YOO8, serviced by Kempinski, was officially open for sale. A private viewing for a select few of around 200 comprising the who’s who of the corporate circle was held on the same evening of the launch.

With piling works having begun at the four-acre site, it seems to be all systems go despite the expected slowdown seen in the property sector by analysts.

And in what is seen as a “coup of sorts” in positioning and differentiating 8 Conlay, the company has teamed up with the crème de la crème of brand partners like internationally-celebrated design company YOO, local architect Ar Hud Bakar and Bangkok-based landscape design firm TROP other than the world-class hotel management services of Kempinski.

8 Conlay unveiled

8 Conlay owes its name to the auspicious address it sits on in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle. The development comprises of two YOO-interior designed branded residence towers of 57- and 62-storey blocks that will be connected via two sky bridges on levels 26 and 44. The development is complemented by a 68-storey five-star Kempinski Hotel, serviced suites and a lifestyle retail component.

YOO8 comprises two spectacular towers of 1,062 luxury branded residence, ranging from one to three-bedroom units.

Tower A of YOO8 will feature 564 units covering 700 square feet to 1,308 square feet selling at an average price of a whopping RM3,200 psf.

According to the company, 70% of Tower A has been reserved, with 80% comprising Malaysians.

Meanwhile, Tower B of YOO8 will feature 468 units to be launched some time next year.

Can 8 Conlay usher KSK into the competitive world of property?

8 Conlay’s selling price of RM3.200 psf, which is RM500 psf higher than the indicative RM2,700 psf it was only recently looking at, begs the question of whether it can sell in a soft market. Being the maiden venture for KSK Land, all eyes are on the company and its young and petite head honcho, Joanne. After all, 8 Conlay’s entry into the branded residence space is coming after a hiatus of similar launches in the city.


Joanne: ‘Price is reflection of interest.’

Joanne: ‘Price is reflection of interest.’

KSK Land is the property arm of KSK Group Bhd, which has insurance as its other core business. KSK Group was formerly known as Kurnia Asia Bhd that was privatised in 2013.

Joanne, who is also KSK Group’s CEO, is the daughter of the 62-year-old KSK patriarch and executive chairman Tan Sri Kua Sian Kooi.

While Joanne is playing a bigger role as the face of property in the KSK stable, it is no secret that senior Kua remains the driving force of the group.

KSK had sold its Malaysian insurance business in 2013 and diversified into property in the same year. It still operates insurance businesses in Thailand and Indonesia.

A quick check with property consultants indicate that the Banyan Tree branded residence is being transacted at prices between RM2,500 and RM3,000 psf, while St Regis was approaching the RM3,000 psf mark as at July estimates.

As for Four Season’s Place, a property consultant puts the going figure between RM3,000 and RM3,500 psf. “At RM3,200 psf, 8 Conlay is trying to position itself in the likes of Four Seasons. However, Four Seasons sold its units much earlier and it would be interesting to see if 8 Conlay is able to match Four Seasons, given the current market situation,” says the property consultant.

Joanne, however, remains optimistic that 8 Conlay would do well and prove the sceptics wrong.

“The price is a reflection of interest coming from the market. At the same time, if you were to compare what’s around the KLCC area, the pricing will justify the product.

“In terms of value, our location on Jalan Conlay is a strong point as in the branded residence market, buyers buy for location, which itself is capital preservation,” she says, pointing out that branded residences command a 30% higher value than luxury apartments based on a recent Knight Frank report.

Bernab: ‘Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur in the ETP raises the hotel’s profile.’
Bernabé: ‘Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur in the ETP raises the hotel’s profile.’

The disproportion between local and foreign buyers is due to the lack of marketing so far. “With the launch of the sales gallery, we are only now officially going out to market. We are eyeing all major cities like Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and the Middle East.”

The project is eyeing an equal spread of local and foreign buyers.

Locally, she shares that interest has been coming from surprisingly “young professionals who are well-travelled and know of Kempinski”.

“A branded residence is something one buys for capital appreciation for the long term. The buyers are a discerning lot and yearn to have a certain lifestyle.”

In terms of benchmarking, Joanne says that 8 Conlay is being benchmarked with other similar branded residences around the world and that prices in Malaysia are still relatively on the low side.

“If you look at branded residences in London, they are really about infusing three components. One is a five-star luxury service provider which you cannot deviate from. The second is the design element. When you partner a good name for design, buyers feel “safe” knowing that what is to be given is of a certain quality and level.

“The third is the architecture component, which often tends to be overlooked. But people who buy a branded residence are discerning buyers who look for offerings that are limited and unique.”

A unique proposition

Joanne describes it as providing a seamless experience for buyers all the way from the outside to the inside.

“When the thought process began to develop 8 Conlay, we looked at the branded residence space around the world and asked ourselves what was really available here. This is when we decided that we had to differentiate ourselves from the rest and would be able to do it,“ says Joanne.

This in essence sealed the company’s partnership with Kempinski. “What is unique about Kempinski is that in every hotel in the different cities it operates, there is a combination of its heritage and the owner’s identity, which I think is a strength many hoteliers don’t have. That’s one of the reasons why we like Kempinski because of the flexibility that allows for both parties’ personalities to stand out. That makes a very good hotel,” says Joanne.

She shares that the affinity to Kempinski is not altogether a new idea to KSK.

“The (Kua) family has had experience with staying at different Kempinski Hotels as we travelled a lot. So, when we were looking to partner a hotelier, Kempinski naturally popped into our chairman’s mind fairly quickly,” she says.

At the same time, Kempinski was also scouting for opportunities in Kuala Lumpur as part of its expansion into this part of the region.

Water theme: A unit designed around the ‘water’ element. Upon entering, one is treated to the magnificent view of KL City Centre beyond the foldable doors.
Water theme: A unit designed around the ‘water’ element. Upon entering, one is treated to the magnificent view of KL City Centre beyond the foldable doors.

“Kempinski is quite exclusive. We choose our projects very carefully and make sure we work with partners that share the same common values.

“We are looking for exclusivity and authenticity and benchmark ourselves with the top residences in the world because customers who buy these residences have choices being well-travelled,” adds Kempinski’s Bernabé.

He reckons that having other branded hotel residences around 8 Conlay is not competition, but rather a good thing for the person who lives there because “if you live in a branded residence, you would want your neighbourhood to be of the same calibre”.

Drawing strength from brand partners

Joanne says 8 Conlay’s strength is the diversity of the international brand partners it has teamed up with, which would serve as an advantage as it markets overseas.

“Tower A is designed by Steve Leung and YOO. Steve Leung is akin to the “Andy Lau of design” in Hong Kong and China, while Kempinski has a strong presence in the Middle East and China,” says Joanne.

“For interior design, we have YOO which is not new to the branded residence segment. It knows what it means to take on the little details that people don’t see in space optimisation. This is why we market our residence fully furnished because that is the strength we want to show in one of our brand partners.

“And as far as the Kempinski name for service is concerned, you can only experience it if you have stayed in one of the Kempinski Hotels and understand the service standard it brings to the table.”

Incidentally, for Kempinski, YOO, Steve Leung and TROP, this is their first time in Malaysia. “The good thing about this is that it gives us a fresh pair of eyes, where we can innovate and do something different.”

Joanne says the company is also not strategising to compete with other players for its retail component. “In fact, we like it that Pavilion is close to us because it provides options for our buyers.

“We are not building a mall, we’re building a retail lifestyle quarter. We are going with the design first, as it needs to complement the whole development and be an attractive point on its own,” she says.

Taking a leaf out of its insurance book

Joanne believes that 8 Conlay’s unique concept will pan out as planned.

“When we conceptualised the project, our chairman Tan Sri Kua made it clear that he wanted to grow into a conglomerate. It’s not that we woke up one morning and decided that we wanted to go into property. The root of our business is in insurance, which is a long-gestation project. There is no denying that property is also for the long term, so there is no right or wrong time to go into this business.

“In insurance, we come from a base where it is all about customer service. So, when looking at property, we also looked at it from a completely different angle … we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and decided what we could do differently.

“When we decided which direction we wanted to go into in property, the message was very clear – to make sure we added value to the customer.”

“Creating extraordinary living spaces is what we do. KSK Land is formed on this philosophy and our job here is to create something extraordinary for 8 Conlay.”

On her taking on a mammoth project at a relatively young age, Joanne says she does not see her role from a gender perspective. “Any CEO would face the same challenges as me. The important thing is mutual respect, and in KSK, we are a family. We work together and celebrate together.”

By Gurmeet Kaur The Starbiz

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New kid on the block: Singapore’s ‘shoebox king’ Oxley spices up Kuala Lumpur a record RM3,300 per sq ft. IN just 10 months, Singapore-listed Oxley Holdings Ltd has quietly amassed a gross development value (GDV) of …

A new journey to make history

Admiral Zheng He

The sincerity, friendship, mutual benefit and win-win outcome which guided Admiral Zheng He still guide Malaysia and China’s bilateral relations today.

IT is a great pleasure to pay my first visit to Malaysia as Premier of the State Council of the People’s Repub­lic of China and attend the East Asia leaders’ meetings. I am no stranger to this beautiful country, as I visited Malaysia in 1996 when the Petronas Twin Towers were just completed. The past 20 years have indeed witnessed impressive and admirable achievements in Malaysia.

China and Malaysia, two neighbours facing each other across the sea, enjoy a time-honoured friendship. Trade between the two countries started over 2,000 years ago.

During the Ming Dynasty (14th-­17th century), Zheng He, a Chinese navigator, came to Malacca five times on seven sea voyages. A record of friendly China-Malaysia exchanges exists with many stories, such as those of Bukit Cina and the King’s Well, still told today.

People today remember Zheng He for what he did. His aspiration, as the records show, was to seek friendship and develop trade with neighbours.

He and his people helped local military and civilians build city walls, drive away pirates, settle conflicts and keep peace at sea. They also passed on agricultural and manufacturing technologies and medical skills to the local people to help with their lives and daily work.

Today, when we look back at that past episode in China-Malaysia exchanges, we also admire Zheng He for what he did not do. When he arrived in this land of prosperity commanding what was then the most powerful fleet in the world, he engaged in nothing like plundering, expansion or colonisation.

Instead, he became known for his goodwill and moves of peace, of which people still keep fond memories. What he did speaks volumes of the Chinese belief that “one should not do to others what he doesn’t want others to do to him”.

It also bears testimony to the Chinese wisdom that “one needs to help others achieve success if he wants success for himself”. Zheng He’s dedication to peace and readiness to reach out and help others show the essence of the Chinese philosophy, where peace and good neighbourliness always come first. It also constitutes part of the cultural legacy that brings countries in the region together.

Today, China and Malaysia are each other’s trustworthy friend. We have formed a comprehensive strategic partnership and enjoy political mutual trust and mutual respect. The leaders of our two countries visit each other often and maintain close communication.

In May last year, visiting Prime Minister Najib Razak and I attended celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations at the West Hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the place where the senior generation of our leaders signed the Joint Communiqué in 1974 to establish diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia.

Over the years, our two countries have supported each other on major issues we are concerned with and jointly contributed to equity and justice in the world. Not long ago, the first joint military exercise was carried out by our militaries in Malacca, marking a major step forward in our defence cooperation.

Economically, we have had much to offer each other in win-win cooperation. Our bilateral trade has topped US$100bil (RM436.6bil).

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for seven years straight, and Malaysia is now China’s biggest trading partner among Asean countries.

China’s trade with Malaysia accounts for one-fifth of its total trade with Asean. The foundation is sound for our cooperation in economy, trade, finance, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry and fishery.

Our high-tech cooperation is even reaching to the sky and seas. As a result, not only have our peoples have benefited from such cooperation; the whole region has also shared in the benefits.

People in our two countries are eager to learn from and help each other. In both China and Malaysia, badminton is a popular sport. The names of world-class players such as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei are known to almost every household.

As competitors and athletes aspiring for excellence, they battle each other on the badminton course. After the games, they are good friends who exchange text greetings on festivals.

China’s great poet Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty (7th-10th century) once wrote of friendship that “true friendship is revealed through adversity, and success becomes nothing when it is not shared”.

A Malaysian saying carries something of a similar effect: Bukit sama didaki, lurah sama dituruni (together we will climb the mountains and together we will cross the valleys).”

When a massive earthquake hit China in Wenchuan, Sichuan province in 2008, Malaysia raced against time to extend a helping hand. Its people from all walks of life raised as much as 200 million yuan (RM136.5mil), making Malaysia one of the biggest donors to the disaster-stricken areas.

And shortly after Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH370 lost contact, I spoke with Prime Minister Najib Razak on the phone for thorough discussions on the search and rescue mission. In times of adversity, China and Malaysia have always stood with and supported each other.

The Chinese community in Malaysia has contributed their share to local economic development, social harmony and amity among ethnic groups. They have served as a special bond contributing to China-Malaysia friendship.

Over the past 40 years, cooperation between China and Malaysia has set a good example of friendly exchanges between countries in the region. Standing at a new starting point for development in our relations for the next four decades, our two countries will continue to view and grow our relations from a strategic perspective, deepen strategic mutual trust, advance mutually beneficial cooperation, expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and carry forward our traditional friendship.

China has set the goal to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. It has much in common with Malaysia’s Vision 2020.

As China is advancing the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, encouraging mass entrepreneurship and innovation, and transforming and upgrading its economic structure, Malaysia is gearing toward all-round economic transformation with the New Economic Model aimed at more robust growth.

I see this as offering each other a perfect chance to boost development. We may draw on our respective strengths and conduct more cooperation on production capacity. We may encourage more enterprises to take part in the development of the industrial parks in Qinzhou and Kuantan, enhance infrastructure building and increase connectivity.

Such cooperation will produce huge development dividends to ensure steady growth and make life better for our people. China and Malaysia both play a major role in turning East Asia into a major pole and sustaining steady global growth. I have great confidence that our mutually beneficial cooperation will hold out even brighter prospects.

China-Asean relations are a major cornerstone for peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region. The upcoming East Asia leaders’ meetings will be held at a time when the Asean Community is to be formally established.

This carries a special and landmark significance. Given the lingering impact of the international financial crisis and the generally downward economic trend, it is all the more important for countries in the region to stand in solidarity and work with each other for common development and prosperity.

Ours is a time with interwoven traditional and non-traditional security challenges, on top of which external interference has led to incessant turbulences in some parts of the world and caused serious spillover effects. It falls upon countries in the region to cherish the harmonious coexistence of different cultures and development paths in the region, and work together to uphold regional peace and stability for the long run.

Sincerity, friendship, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes were what Zheng He stood for when his ships took him to Malacca. They are still the principles guiding the growth of China-Malaysia relations today.

They represent the trend of the times and aspiration of the people, not only in China and Malaysia but region-wide. It is our common goal that deserves our common effort.

I am confident that with joint efforts, China-Malaysia relations and cooperation in the region, will grow steadily and become more mature, and will head toward greater mutual benefit, mutual trust, prosperity and common development.


Li Keqiang is Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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US should not politicize Internet

People pose in front of a display showing the word ‘cyber’ in binary code, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica December 27, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]


Security and other issues related to cyberspace have increasingly affected international relations, leading to a war of words among some major world powers. Openness and freedom are the two basic features of the Internet, through which information freely flows from one person to another and from one country to another, and that is why “freedom” is said to be the founding stone of cyberspace.

But this freedom cannot be limitless and should not challenge the normal order of cyberspace. As Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, once said, freedom is the purpose while order serves to protect it. Freedom and regulation are not mutually contradictory. Instead, they are two sides of the same coin.

Besides, since cyberspace, despite being called the virtual world, is intimately connected with the real world, chaos in the former can lead to disastrous consequences in the latter. The riots that rocked London, Birmingham and several other cities in the United Kingdom in 2011 after the death of a black UK citizen and flared up thanks to social networks are a good example of how lack of order in the virtual world can cause mayhem in the real world.

To prevent such tragedies from happening and since all freedoms come with responsibilities and limits, most countries have enacted laws to regulate cyberspace. But some countries, to fulfill their narrow interests, try to politicize the laws that other countries have implemented as a safeguard against the bedlam the misuse of cyberspace could unleash on society.

Take the US for instance. For the past several years, based on its claim that freedom of the Internet is a universal right, it has been trying to promote cyberspace as a public domain together with the Antarctica, the oceans and space, and has thus been avoiding the issue of national sovereignty.

The US’ efforts reek of hegemonic philosophy. In fact, the US has been spreading its ideology in other countries through many websites and social networks, so as to trigger political disputes in societies that adhere to political philosophies other than that propounded by Washington. We should not forget that countries like Libya have become victims of the US’ promotion of Western-style democracy.

Another reason for the US to talk about freedom of the Internet is to serve its trade and protectionist policies and cause trade frictions with other countries. With its modern technologies and global influence, Washington has been trying to help US-based enterprises enter other countries’ markets on the pretext of defending free trade. When Google was pulled up by the Chinese government for violating the country’s laws, the US government ironically accused China of not being a “free” country.

As a result, politicization of Internet freedom has become an obstacle to international cooperation. With the dispute over Internet freedom already a major international issue, countries with different understandings of cyberspace accuse each other of violating rules. Some of these differences have even led to trade frictions and protectionist measures.

Worse, other political issues are involved in the disputes over Internet freedom, which can easily turn into wider conflicts and make it more difficult for the related countries to resolve the existing issues.

Therefore, to boost global cooperation countries across the world should avoid pointing the finger against each other to prove whose Internet rules are better.

The author is a senior researcher in cybersecurity at China Center for Information Industry Development, affiliated to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

By Liu Quan (China Daily)


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US is bringing storms to Apec and ploy in South China Sea

Stirring up a storm

US is bringing storms to South China Sea

The 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting starts in Manila, the Philippines on Wednesday. The suspense is to what extent the US will foist the South China Sea disputes into this economic and trade meeting. Manila has made clear that territorial disputes will not be included on the agenda, but Washington is not resigned to letting it go, but apparently will bring forth the issue on the sidelines of the meeting.

Compared with the horrible terror clouding Europe, the bone of contention in the APEC meeting – the South China Sea disputes – is unworthy of equal attention. France has shut its borders, and several European countries and half of US states are considering whether to shun Syrian refugees. Chaos and turbulence caused by relentless wars continue in the Middle East, and with the path of fleeing blocked, hatred and resentment among the refugees will thrive.

Many believe the US should assume the primary responsibility for the turmoil in Europe. The US has managed to keep terrorism away from of its own turf after rounds of strong interventions in the Middle East with the aid of its European allies after the 9/11 attacks. However, unable to extend their reach to American soil, terrorists have sabotaged Europe time and again, from Madrid to London and recently, Paris.

Now, Washington sets its sights on the South China Sea. It is trying to provoke regional tensions like it did in the Middle East by waving a larger banner reading “pivot to Asia.”

The West has been eager to fan the flames everywhere, but excused themselves by claiming they are not cause of the tension.

The question is whether the South China Sea is heading toward turmoil. If it is, the region will probably be doomed. The raging waves in the South China Sea, argued some analysts, are also likely to jeopardize Washington’s interests, but compared with the much greater threat and dangers a turbulent South China Sea poses to China, Washington might be willing to take the risk.

The South China Sea is not a powder keg, because countries around the sea have established a community of shared destiny in terms of development. This could be a cushion against aggression in territorial rows. No claimant is willing to head for a showdown in the South China Sea. Tension surrounding China’s reclamation of islands in the sea is abating, stretching the elasticity of the other claimants in dealing with the territorial disputes.

Washington is in the middle of instigating more tensions and accepting China’s expanding leverage in rule-making, albeit it has launched vocal protests and flexed its muscles by sending warships in the sea.

China is gaining the upper hand in directing the South China Sea issues, which is a guarantee that the region won’t be out of control due to Washington’s instigation.

For the public good of the entire region, China should exert restraint over Washington’s mischief. – Global Times

US ploy in South China Sea bound to fail

President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting from Nov 17 to 19 has quelled speculations that the maritime disputes with the host nation could make him decide otherwise.

Last week Philippines President Benigno Aquino III assured visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the APEC meeting would focus on Asia-Pacific regional economic cooperation without raising the disputes in the South China Sea, as most members including China had agreed. But the US State Department has hinted that the South China Sea issue could be raised during the meeting despite Manila’s efforts to prevent the agenda from deviating from free trade and sustainable growth in and common prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

As the world’s second-largest sea-lane that connects the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea is of great strategic importance to all countries in the region, as well as the US and European countries.

Nearly 80 percent of global trade depends upon maritime transportation, and about one-third of it is carried out through the South China Sea, which sees the passage of at least 40,000 ships a year. The number of oil tankers that sail through the Strait of Malacca, a critical passage through regional waters, is almost three times that of the Suez Canal and five times of the Panama Canal. Two-thirds of the global trade in liquefied natural gas is also conducted through the waterway.

China has more stakes that any other country in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea, because it is a major channel of its global economic network. So ensuring smooth transportation (of energy sources) and navigation through the South China Sea is not only conducive to the shared interests of all Asia-Pacific economies – such as China, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – but also economies elsewhere.

China passed the Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone in 1992, and the Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf seven years later. It ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1996 and publicized the territorial baseline of its mainland and Xisha Islands.

True, it is yet to disclose the territorial baseline of its Nansha Islands, but that does not nullify its legal rights in the surrounding waters, including territorial sea, exclusive economic zones and continental shelf. This makes the entry of US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen into the waters near China’s islands in the South China Sea last month a violation of international law.

The US’ attempt to justify its action on the pretext of “freedom of navigation” is a rather clumsy argument that ignores some specific clauses in international law, for instance, innocent passage in territorial seas, transit passage in straits used for international navigation, and sea-lane passage through archipelagoes.

Also, the freedom of navigation clause in international law is neither unconditional nor beyond international regulations. Freedom of navigation can neither be above an affected coastal state’s laws and rights in the exclusive economic zones nor can it override other countries’ interests in the high seas.

Washington’s recent provocative moves have infringed upon Beijing’s maritime sovereignty and security in the South China Sea, the United Nations Charter as well as international law. They were also intended to show the US’ military muscles on the pretext of practicing freedom of navigation.

But China is not one to give in when it comes to its territorial, maritime and security interests, and the US is unlikely to succeed in its designs by instigating ASEAN countries to challenge China’s maritime rights in the South China Sea.

The author is deputy director of the China Institute for Marine Affairs attached to the State Oceanic Administration.

By Jia Yu (China Daily)

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Islamic State new killing fields, nothing less than total domination

THE news on Saturday felt like double hammer blows. The Islamic State’s slaughter of 129 people in Paris and the Malaysian IS militants in southern Philippines’ plan to form an “official” IS faction in South-East Asia were just plain shocking and sickening.

Back in March I wrote about my fear of the IS and decried how people who profess to want to protect Islam in Malaysia were targeting the wrong people, namely non-Muslims, and particularly the Christians.

It is with deep distress I return to this growing horror which cannot be ignored.

While I do believe our Govern­ment is completely committed to fighting IS’ influence and I am deeply relieved that our police has top-notch intelligence that – as Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said – ensures “that we are on top of any development concerning militant groups”, this extreme form of militant Islam continues to take root in our midst.

It was reported in October that more than 100 suspected terrorists and militants have been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012. Among them were Malaysian combatants who had returned from Syria and Iraq, as well as army commandos and civil servants. Over the last few days, more have been detained.

The Star’s report on Saturday that a former Universiti Malaya lecturer, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who trains suicide bombers, is behind the formation of an IS group that will plan attacks in Malaysia and the region is even more chilling.

More scary was Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s revelation on Monday that the IS is targeting Malaysian leaders who are regarded as tagut. Tagut the article explains are “those who have crossed religious boundaries” which is extremely vague.

But it would appear to mean, going by online definitions, people who worship other gods as well as Muslims who “exceed their limits” like legislators who make laws in Parliament. They are deemed to be equating themselves with Allah and challenging Allah’s divine laws.

If these are all possible meanings of tagut, then all our elected representatives and government leaders, Muslim and non-Muslim, are fair game to IS.

In Graeme Wood’s article entitled “What Isis really wants” in the March issue of The Atlantic, he states that IS’ aim is to restore the Caliphate after it ended in Turkey almost a century ago. (Isis or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is the earlier manifestation of IS).

After some 14 months of fighting, the proponents achieved their goal on June 30, 2014, when their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed himself as the new caliph and successor to Prophet Muhammad in a mosque in Mosul, Iraq.

his 21st-century construct, however, is global and borderless and as such, al-Baghdadi says he is the leader of Muslims everywhere who must pledge allegiance to him. Failure to do so means being branded as an apostate, which is punishable by death.

Wood quotes Bernard Haykel, described as the leading secular expert on IS ideology, as saying these jihadists are “authentic throwbacks to early Islam and faithfully reproducing its norms of war.”

Haykel further states, “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish (jihadists) are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition” and that IS fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

The Islamic State, according to Wood, also claims that common Syiah practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Quran or the Prophet’s examples.

“That means roughly 200 million Syiah (Muslims) are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have ele­­­­­vated man-made laws above Syariah by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God,” he writes.

He adds this is because the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world of apostates, and presumably tagut, even if it means mass killings.

So back to Hishammuddin’s statement that our leaders are IS’ targets. He also declared that the threat will not stop them from fighting the terrorists. Fighting the IS should be every citizen’s responsibility, at least it should be for every citizen who still believes in a multiracial, democratic Malaysia.

At such a dangerous time, I reiterate my appeal to Muslims and non-Muslims to stand together. I cannot believe peace-loving Malaysian Sunnis would agree to IS’ desire to wipe out millions of Syiah Muslims and non-Muslims.

Unfortunately, we still have leaders wanting to play the religious card which sows confusion and suspicion between Muslims and non-Muslims. We have seen the antics of some this year and the latest one is from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister who is thinking of having mandatory halal and non-halal trolleys in supermarkets.

Thankfully, ever since the proposal came to light, many groups, including Malaysian Muslim Solidarity (Isma), have criticised it.

As Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman opined: It is not practical and “Islam is not about making things difficult”.

Many have also asked: With such thinking, what will follow next? Food courts to have halal and non-halal cutlery? Separate banknotes and coins?

And what about enforcement? Who gets fined if a shopper uses a halal trolley for non-halal items? Said shopper or supermarket owner?

If the minister really wants to help all shoppers, he should insist supermarkets maintain their trolleys well and give them a wash regularly. I have struggled with trolleys with bad wheels, sticky handles and grubby baskets.

Seriously, our leaders have a lot more important things to worry about, like ferreting out more IS recruiters in our schools, armed forces and government, than segregating shopping carts. This is a fight against a deadly, implacable and seductive enemy and we don’t need any distractions like these in the name of religious correctness.

It certainly won’t make us any safer or more Muslim in the eyes of the IS which is intent on annihilating the present world order to replace it with their own.


Aunty recalls this memorable line from Aamir Khan’s movie, PK. It is spoken by the central character, an alien stranded on Earth as he clutches the shoe of his friend who was killed in a train bomb blast: ‘Stop protecting your own god, otherwise only shoes will be left on this planet and not people.’ Feedback to

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