You hooked online video games, Internet and sinking ?




IT is 10pm and you know exactly where your children are. They are at home with you, and the last time you looked, they were on their computers engrossed in some game or another.

But does that mean they are fine?

As highlighted by The Star’s front-page story yesterday, that may not be so.

Governments, mental health practitioners, schools, NGOs and parents in many parts of the world – particularly in Asia – are worried about how many young people are hooked on video games and the Internet.

And when the two technologies merge to yield online gaming, we have a greater risk of passion turning into obsession.

Therefore, we should not be surprised by cases of gamers behaving badly when prevented from playing.

On Saturday, for example, two men fought at a cybercafe in Taman Bukit Serdang, Selangor, after one of them had refused to let the other use a computer.

The violence continued at a nearby restaurant, with others joining in, leading to both men being slashed with a parang. The police have since remanded two of the brawlers until tomorrow.

It is possible that this incident was more about uncontrollable egos and temper than it was about an uncontrollable urge to play computer games, but it does tell us that we ought to take a closer look at how our kids are affected by online gaming.

We need to acknowledge that there is a problem here that needs to be addressed systematically and holistically.

South Korea, which has extensive Internet connectivity, has long recognized that.
Check link:
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Internet Addiction Targeted In South Korea – Huffington Post
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Its National Information Society Agency has been conducting an annual survey on Internet addiction since 2004 and runs programmes that provide preventive education, counselling and expert training.

Singapore’s National Addictions Management Service provides outpatient treatment for gaming/internet addiction, describing it as “the extreme use of computer and video games that interferes with daily life”.

Gaming addiction in China had attracted so much attention that the authorities have set up military-style rehabilitation centres for young people.

And if some of us believe that our kids are merely going through a “phase” when they spend hours playing online games, it is useful to note that the American Psychiatric Association has identified Internet Gaming Disorder as a condition that requires further research.

“This reflects the scientific literature showing that persistent and recurrent use of Internet games, and a preoccupation with them, can result in clinically significant impairment or distress,” says the association.

Essentially, the association is saying there should be more clinical research and experience before it is ready to classify Internet Gaming Disorder as a formal mental disorder.

As it is, many Malaysian parents can share stories about how their children are so into playing online games that they miss meals, lack sleep, skip schoolwork, lie and steal, and ignore friends and family.

Such a troubling pattern does not have to be officially recognised as an illness to be treated as a problem.

It is time that the Government, schools, parents and the community work together to figure out how we can ensure that a hobby does not become a dangerous addiction.

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Sick gamers on the rise !


Parents seek help for addicted kids

Experts: Too much gaming has more serious effects than most people realise

For many Malaysians, it is no longer just a game.

Desperate parents trying to get their children to kick their addiction to computer games have started to seek professional help for them.

At least two psychiatrists interviewed by The Star confirmed that the issue is becoming a growing problem among children and young adults in Malaysia.

University Malaya Centre for Addiction Science deputy director Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari said he had seen five patients, aged 14 to 26, for possible games addiction last year.

He revealed that the small number did not indicate the seriousness of the issue as many gamers were unaware of the problem they were having and thus did not seek treatment.

“It is potentially a growing problem and there is a need to create more awareness on this.

“Otherwise, it can become an illness when these gamers come in late for treatment,” he said yesterday.

Dr Muhammad Muhsin said a comprehensive database should be compiled so that medical experts could set up a plan to manage the problem.

He said the problem was indicative of a disorder if gamers start to behave compulsively when playing or tend to get into a fight over it.

“It can be an addiction if it affects their relationships with other people and disrupts their normal routine,” he added.

In one case, a 14-year-old boy went into a rage when his parents cut off the Internet subscription. He smashed the television set and the PC, Dr Muhammad Muhsin said.

“If gamers feel that they have used a lot of time or money to play the games, have difficulty resisting it and get upset easily, they should start seeking professional help.

“The reasons may be due to the person’s poor attachment to their parents, lack of parental supervision and peer pressure,” he said.

“They could be using the Internet to overcome their mood disturbances too.”

Hospital Penang consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Lai Fong Hwa said with improved Internet access and faster communication, more younger people were playing video games.

“There may be a concern that their social life may be affected and they will have problems developing social skills,” said Dr Lai.

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Blurred reality: experts say games addiction could affect the development of children’s social skills.

Scuffles a common sight at cyber cafes, say gamers

PETALING JAYA: With titles like World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm and Left 4 Dead, it is no surprise that video gamers are hooked for good.

However, these fans are adamant that they do not become aggressive despite the brutal nature of the game.

They said that last Saturday’s attack at a cyber cafe in Selangor, where a man slashed someone for hogging the computer, was an isolated case.

At that time, the victim was playing Dota (Defence of The Ancients), which involves two teams pitted against each other with the goal of destroying their opponent’s base.

“It’s irrational to fight or even stab someone over something like that,” said marketing executive Ivan Yong, 25, who is an avid computer gamer.

But he admitted that there were many short-tempered players and that scuffles were not uncommon among players at cyber cafes.

“Personally, I think gamers get violent when they invest too much time in their games. And they lose it when a teammate or opponent spoils it for them,” said Yong, who admitted to being less level-headed during his younger days.

A fellow gamer, who wished to be known only as Hammi, agreed with Yong.

“Yes, gamers tend to get violent sometimes. Sometimes they may not realise what they have done at that time,” said Hammi, 26.

“As a fellow gamer, I think it’s important to differentiate between reality and playing games,” she added.

Student Kae Jun, 17, conceded that many of them were addicted to the games.

“Some people play games so often that it is part of their routine. If they don’t get to play, they will get frustrated,” he said.

Businessman Joe Chee, 27, and student Min Jie, 18, who are both regular cyber cafe goers, said outbursts were common there.

“Some gamers tend to be violent and toxic. They let their emotions get the better of them,” said Chee.

“They would even curse their opponent’s family. Then a fight would break out,” Min said.

Both noted that cyber cafes that enforce a “no noise” policy tend to be less hostile.

“Those loud players have no consideration for others with their endless screaming. You see different types of people at a cyber cafe,” said Min.

All the gamers interviewed agreed that players should not let their love of the game get the better of them.

“It’s important to realise that every time you get upset, it drains your emotional energy.

“Losing your cool makes you tired,” said Chee.

Duo in cyber cafe brawl remanded for four days

PETALING JAYA: The two men who slashed a youth after fighting over a computer console at a cyber cafe have been remanded until Thursday.

According to Serdang OCPD Asst Comm Razimi Ahmad, the duo allegedly slashed a man in the neck with a parang for not letting one of them use the computer console.

During the incident at a cyber cafe in Taman Bukit Serdang at about 10pm on Saturday, the suspect got into an argument with an employee at the cyber cafe who was reportedly hogging a computer he wanted to play on.

They had a war of words and the suspect, who is in his 40s, left the place.

The suspect returned to the cyber cafe at about 11.30pm with a friend carrying a badminton racquet bag which contained a parang and a plank.

In a fit of rage, the two men attacked the employee with the parang and plank.

The cafe management managed to break up the scuffle and told the men to take their dispute outside before shuttering the place.

The trio reportedly continued their fight at a nearby restaurant, where police said the victim was slashed in the neck.

Witnesses claimed that about four friends of the victim came to his aid and slashed the suspect with his own parang before subduing his accomplice with the plank.

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Hard work the key to realising 2016 goals; Events that shaped China in 2015


Hard work the key to realising 2016 goals

President Xi Jinping looked forward to 2016 in a speech calling for confidence and hard work for a good start in the home stretch of building a “well-off society in an all-round way”.

In his New Year speech, Xi said a Party meeting in late October had set out a promising blueprint for development over the next five years.

He said lifting tens of millions of rural people out of poverty was his top concern and called for joint efforts to achieve this goal.

“We should care for all people facing difficulties … making them feel warm from the bottom of their hearts,” he added.

China must not be absent from international affairs, Xi said in the speech, as the world was looking forward to voices and answers from China.

“The world is so big, the challenges so complicated. For those people torn by hardship and war, we need to offer not only sympathy and compassion, but also responsibility and action.

“China will always welcome the world with an open embrace, and we will extend our hand to those in difficulty as best as we can, and our ‘circle of friends’ will grow,” Xi said, borrowing a term from the messaging app WeChat. — China Daily / Asia News Network

Events that shaped China in 2015

THE year 2016 will see China implementing its 13th five-year plan, pursuing an economic growth of no less than 6.5% and hosting the G20 summit.

But before that, let’s take a look at eight major headlines in China in 2015.

China Victory Day parade

All eyes were on Beijing on Sept 3 as Chinese soldiers marched along Chang’an Avenue to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victories of the Anti-Japanese War and World Anti-Fascist War.

Seventeen other countries such as Russia, Mexico and Cuba sent their troops to take part in the parade, while Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Park Geun-hye were among the international dignitaries in attendance.

But most Western leaders, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, shunned the event. The parade was widely interpreted as a showcase targeting Japan, which China has denied.

Yuan in the basket

The Chinese yuan has been admitted into the special drawing rights (SDR) currency basket in the Washington-based International Monetary Fund alongside the US dollar, British pound, Japanese yen and euro.

Back in 2010, the yuan had failed to be included in the SDR as it did not meet the “freely usable” criterion. China then introduced a series of measures to reform its financial market and speed up the process of capital account convertibility. The new basket, to be launched on Oct 1, 2016, will feature the yuan with a 10.92% weighting.

Xi visited the United States

Chinese President Xi Jinping had his first trip to the United States as China’s leader in September. Among the deliverables in a 49-point outcome list of Xi’s state visit published by the Xinhua News Agency were conducting a forum to exchange views on judicial reform, seeking to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, designating 2016 as China-US Tourism Year and agreeing not to steal each other’s trade secrets.

When speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Xi pledged a donation of US$1bil (RM4.29bil) to the UN for a peace and development fund. He also took a group photo with the chief executives of top US and Chinese tech companies, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alibaba’s Jack Ma, at the Microsoft campus.

The Chinese media noted that the total market value of the companies present was almost US$2.5 trillion (RM10.73 trillion) “or one-tenth of the combined GDP of China and the United States, or the total GDP of the United Kingdom”.

… and the United Kingdom

Xi visited Britain in October. China and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement declaring a “global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century” which, among others, pledged to support each other in (China’s) Belt and Road initiative and (Britain’s) National Infrastructure Plan and the Northern Powerhouse.

During Xi’s trip, China General Nuclear Power Corporation entered into a deal with energy company EDF for a £18bil (RM115bil) nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

A light-hearted moment was captured in a selfie at Manchester City’s ground. China’s elite politicians are rarely seen taking selfies but at Manchester City’s ground, football fan Xi obliged to a selfie with footballer Sergio Aguero and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Xi’s UK trip was hailed by Xinhua as opening a “golden era” of China-UK ties.

Belt and Road is underway

The Belt and Road initiative continued to be a buzzword in China. Countries along the routes – land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and seafaring 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – have responded warmly to the initiative to foster connectivity and cooperation.

The Asian Infrastructure Invest­ment Bank (AIIB), a development bank for infrastructure projects, was formally established in Decem­ber and will be put into operation following the first-ever meeting of its board of directors and executive council in January.

The US$40bil (RM171bil) Silk Road Fund, meanwhile, announced its first investment – a US$1.65bil (RM7bil) Karot hydropower station in Pakistan – during Xi’s state visit to the country in April.

The US presence in the South China Sea

The South China Sea, an important maritime passage for trade and a resource-rich region, is the subject of overlapping territorial claims among China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. China has said that its extensive construction on the Spratly Islands, which it calls Nansha, is for civilian purposes.

The United States, in denying China’s claims over the rocks and reefs, expanded its military presence in the waters by sending a destroyer within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands in October.

In early December, it deployed a spy aircraft to Singapore for the first time to step up its surveillance in the South China Sea.

Most recently, an American B-52 bomber unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of the Cuarteron Reef, prompting Beijing to lodge solemn representations with the United States.

First Nobel laureate in science

In October, Tu Youyou became the first Chinese citizen to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the anti-malaria drug artemisinin, which is extracted from sweet wormwood.

Tu, 85, is also the first female Chinese national to win a Nobel. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Tu’s Nobel prize “marks a great contribution of traditional Chinese medicine to the cause of human health”.

Enter the second child

China’s decades-long one-child policy has officially been scrapped. All couples are now allowed to have a maximum of two children in a legislation rubber-stamped on Dec 27 to address the challenges of an ageing population.

Xinhua said the two-child policy would inject 30 million more people into the workforce by 2050, lower the percentage of senior citizens in the population by 2% and boost economic development by 0.5%.

By Tho Xin Yi Check-in-China

Video and full text of President Xi’s New Year address 

December 31, 2015

In a televised address on Thursday evening, Chinese President Xi Jinping extended New Year wishes to people across the Chinese mainland, compatriots in the Hong Kong SAR, the Macao SAR and Taiwan, along with overseas Chinese and friends in other countries and regions around the world.

During the speech, Xi recounted the achievements made through the year with regard to economic growth, judicial and education reforms and the fight against corruption, while pledging that the Communist Party of China and the government will continue their efforts to improve people’s livelihood.

https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/p/1679301/sp/167930100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/29279321/partner_id/1679301?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_0faee363b6645cd077ceff372ff4d4ea&entry_id=1_0d8itrop&flashvarsstreamerType=auto
http://www.cctv-america.com/2015/12/31/video-president-xis-new-year-message


FULL TEXT OF PRESIDENT XI’S ADDRESS

Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

In a few hours, the New Year bell will be ringing. We will say goodbye to the year 2015 and welcome the first ray of sunshine of the year 2016.

At this turn of the year, I wish to extend my New Year greetings to the people of all ethnic groups in China, to our compatriots in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region, to our compatriots in Taiwan and overseas Chinese, as well as to friends in other countries and regions in the world.
As long as we pay, there will be gains.

In 2015, the great efforts of the Chinese people have paid off.

China’s economic growth continues to lead in the world. Reform has been pushed forward comprehensively. Reform in the judicial system has been further deepened. The special educational campaign of “Three Stricts and Three Earnests” has promoted the improvement of the political eco-system. The fight against corruption has been carried out deeply. Through the joint efforts of the people of all ethnic groups across the country, we see a successful conclusion of the “12th Five-Year Plan”. The general public has enjoyed the increasing “sense of gain”.

During this past year, we solemnly commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. We held a grand military parade, making the truth clear to all that justice will prevail, peace will prevail, and the people will prevail.

Mr. Ma Ying-jeou and I met in Singapore, with a handshake that transcended 66 years of time and space. This shows the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations is the common wish of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

During this past year, Beijing won the bid to host the 24th Winter Olympic Games. The renminbi has been included into the Special Drawing Rights basket of the International Monetary Fund. China’s domestically-produced C919 large passenger aircraft rolled off the production line. China’s super computer broke the world record for a sixth consecutive year. A satellite developed by Chinese scientists to detect “dark matter” was launched. Tu Youyou became China’s first scientist to win a Nobel Prize.

These show that as long as we persevere, dreams can always be realized. During the past year, we had happiness, as well as sadness.

The capsizing of the “Eastern Star” ferry, the major fire and explosions at Tianjin Port, the Shenzhen landslide and other accidents have taken the lives of many of our countrymen. And some countrymen were brutally killed by terrorists.

All these are deeply heartbreaking. We will remember them. We wish all the deceased to rest in peace and the living safe and healthy.
Some difficulties and troubles still remain in people’s daily life.

The Communist Party of China and the government will surely continue efforts to effectively guarantee the safety of people’s lives and property, guarantee the improvement of people’s livelihood, and guarantee people’s health.

The year 2016 is the first year when China enters the crucial period to build a moderately well-off society in an all-around way.

The 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee has made clear China’s development direction for the next five years. The future is encouraging and inspiring. But happiness does not fall from the sky.

We shall establish a spirit to prevail, continue to immerse ourselves in hard work, implement the development concepts of innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing.

We shall put forth efforts in promoting structural reform, and reform and opening up, promoting social fairness and justice, as well as creating a green political eco-system.

We shall get off to a good start as we advance in the crucial period for China to build a moderately well-off society in an all-around way.

To build a moderately well-off society in an all-around way, our 1.3 billion people should join hands and move forward together. A better life for tens of millions of poor people in rural regions is dear to my heart.

We have sounded the trumpet to win the battle of poverty alleviation. All Party members and fellow countrymen should pull together and work hard as a team, put forth efforts to lengthen this short stave. We should make sure that the entire poor population in rural regions can rise out of poverty on schedule. For all the people in difficulties, we should care for them and let them feel the warmth from deep in their hearts.

Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

We have only one earth, which is the common home of people of all countries.

During this past year, Chinese leaders have participated in many international conferences and conducted many diplomatic activities. We have achieved solid progress in promoting the development of the “Belt and Road” initiative. We engaged in many international affairs including the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and issues on dealing with global climate change.

The world is so big, and the problems are so many. The international community expects to hear China’s voice and see China’s plans. China cannot be absent.

Seeing the people trapped deep in suffering and war, we should have compassion and sympathy, but also take responsibilities and action. China will always open its arms to the world and will make all efforts possible to extend our helping hand to the people facing difficulties. Let our “circle of friends” grow bigger and bigger.

I sincerely hope that the international community can work together. With more peacefulness and more cooperation, let’s turn confrontation into cooperation, and turn swords into ploughshares.

Let’s work together to build a community of common destiny of all mankind, which is shared by all people in every country.

Thank you all.

Give thanks with a grateful heart


 

Appreciate the good and bad in your life and be optimistic about the future

WITH two days left for this year, it is time to reflect and make fresh resolutions for 2016.

I have learnt to give thanks for all things – good or bad – that came my way.

But why be thankful even for the bad?

Truth be told, it took me a long time to be willing to accept misfortune and longer still to give thanks for them.

Now I appreciate there are far too many factors that I cannot control despite my best efforts.

So I just learn from the sad experiences to avoid repeating them and hold on to the hope that something good will come out of them later.

2015 has been a victorious year for me with more blessings than woes.

With a grateful heart, I choose to remember the former with rejoicing and overlook or forget the latter.

Wonderful blessings

Firstly, I am thankful that everyone in my family is in good health.

My biggest blessing is my baby, Cat.

My life has completely changed since her arrival in mid-year and everything I do now revolves around this little bundle of joy.

Healthy, joyful and growing well, she sits, crawls and listens whenever we speak to her.

On her second swimming class, she was submerged briefly in water and has been doing this with ease ever since.

In a couple of months she will start her nursery and music appreciation classes.

Meanwhile, she is learning to recognise words being pronounced and images with the aid of picture cards.

Being an inexperienced mother, the help and support from my husband, his parents and my parents has been invaluable.

My mother is a great help in tending to baby Cat and teaching me many valuable lessons about caring for my baby.

Everyone knows how difficult it is to hire a maid these days.

The timely arrival of our maid who is well-mannered and an experienced mother to take care of the many household chores lifted a heavy load of me.

It spite of the current weak economy, our architectural firm has been successful in securing several commercial and residential projects in addition to our appointment to design automotive facilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region for an upmarket marque.

We are continuously developing talented architects and designers while fostering in them a passion and enthusiasm for their work.

My 95-year old grandmother fell very ill in September but has since recovered almost fully.

She has good health except for occasional bouts of sleeplessness for a couple of days after which she will be groggy for two or three days and regale us with funny tales.

I am thankful to have clean air to breathe for the next few months before the haze sets in again, and that our economy is not too bad and personal safety here is much better than most other countries.

Looking forward

Our family has a saying that “next year will be a better year”.

Thankfully, it has been so all these years.

I eagerly await the time when baby Cat begins to talk and walk.

I am certain my heart will melt at the sweet sound of her voice when she calls me “mummy” and the sight of her staggering towards me for a hug.

After several months’ hiatus, I am getting ready to return to work which I miss very much.

Meantime, I have to trim off at least 6kg to get back in shape.

With determination, it will take three to four months.

I am yearning for the opening of our new automotive facility which specialises in the restoration and maintenance of classic and exotic cars.

Renovation work on the premises is in their final stages and business should commence in the first quarter of 2016.


Everything seems bright

Ever since my father told me about the downfall of his arrogant business principal, I have always reminded myself to be more careful when everything seems bright.

After a conference in a five-star hotel in Madrid, he asked the latter why he was wearing dark sunglasses in the coffee house.

Puffing a cigar, the principal replied that his future was too bright.

He lost his job soon after and his fortune has dwindled further ever since.

While I receive blessings, I remember there are many poverty-stricken people.

I shall rekindle my passion for charity and do my part for orphans and old folks.

We cannot do much about the burning national issues but I hope that they will be settled expeditiously so that the government can begin to organise itself to take care of wage-earners who are hard-pressed due to the rising cost of living.

On balance, I am optimistic about the future because the scriptures teaches me to always have hope and that the righteousness of God will bring peace and joy to anyone who puts it into practice.

May you be blessed with peace, joy, love, excellent health and prosperity in 2016 and beyond.

By Chermaine Poo Slice of life

Chermaine Poo is a chartered accountant turned actress, TV host, emcee and columnist. Follow her on http://www.chermainepoo.com, Facebook.com/ChermainePoo, and Instagram.com/Chermaine Poo or drop her an email at info@chermainepoo.com

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Venture scheme accelerates growth of start-ups


KUALA LUMPUR: The New Entrepreneurs Foundation’s (myNEF) unit Rave Ventures Sdn Bhd is looking to raise RM50 million to RM100 million in the next five to 10 years for its business coaching and mentoring programme, called Rave Accelerator.

The 12-week accelerator programme, which consists of a network of experienced entrepreneurs and industry members, hopes to provide promising start-ups with venture building and funding.

Speaking to SunBiz after organising a Rave Mentor Pitch Night a few months ago, Rave Ventures’ CEO Rizal Alwani said that the accelerator had previously signed on RM800,000 and RM1 million sized funds for its first and second batch programmes respectively.

Rizal said the accelerator would connect the founders of start-ups with its wide connection of investors and venture capitals, to ensure the start-ups get the right funding for their business.

Apart from that, he said it also makes sure that the founders get proper information and knowledge on how to conduct vesting agreements by providing advice and consultation.

“Working on a 90-day venture building methodology, we engage the selected start-ups to further refine their product, presentation and execution of their business. Our goal is not only to get start-ups to the next phase of funding, but also to ensure sustainability and growth,” Rizal noted.

Meanwhile, on the objective of the Mentor Pitch Night, Rizal said it is to introduce the new third batch start-ups to the experienced entrepreneurs and industry members.

“Our goal is to find the right mentors for all the eight participating start-ups, where their mentors will help to guide and accelerate their businesses further.”

The start-ups consist of social matchmaking service, known as “Halal Speed Dating”, sports clothing e-commerce Summersault.my, home decorations e-commerce Jiham.my, Above and Beyond Concierge Services, JomJamban Bathroom Services, Laundry on the Go Services, MyMakBidan Services and Toy Library Club (TLC) Services.

The eight start-ups were short-listed from 400 young companies, and started their acceleration programme on Sept 28, 2015.

As part of their business coaching and mentoring programme, Rave Ventures also organises what is called as Demo Days for start-ups to be showcased to local and regional investors.

Demo Days are attended by key start-up ecosystem players including big IT companies, early stage funders, influencer and government agencies.

“We are basically backed by myNEF. For the last two batches, myNEF foundation has invested about RM400,000 into the programmes. Starting this July, myNEF allocated another RM500,000 for the operation costs,” Rizal said, noting that the accelerator programme is wholly funded by myNEF since it began its first batch programme in July, 2014.

MyNEF, which was formed in 1997, is a non-profit organisation established by ICT and creative industry players in partnership with the government.

By Wan Ilaika Mohd Zakaria sunbiz@thesundaily.com

Startups put through paces 
 

The programme gives startups the right pressure and motivation to succeed, says Rizal.

SPEED and focus are vital in starting a business, particularly at the start-up phase, budding entrepreneurs heard at the “RAVe Mentor Pitch Night” at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (myNEF) headquarters in Empire Damansara, Damansara Perdana on Oct 9.

“In focused programmes such as our accelerator plan, we make them do things in three months for things which companies use a year to achieve,” said RAVe Ventures Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Rizal Alwani. RAVe is a subsidiary of myNEF.

During the event, the third batch of eight start-ups were given an opportunity to pitch their ideas to mentors and investors.

“Our entrepreneurs are not exposed to the serious level of competitiveness in the tech eco-system and are also less hungry, so in our programme we give them the right pressure and motivation to succeed,” Rizal said.

The eight start-ups, shortlisted from over 400, had to work up to 4am in the morning to achieve their respective deliverables.

“They were all given deliverables, including their three-month revenue target, and they had to find ways to achieve it, including applying guerilla marketing campaigns,” he added.

The accelerator had been running the programme since 2014.

“By the end of the three-month period, we hope they will become investible companies, be it by grants or by venture capitalists,” Rizal said.

Some of the ideas that the start-ups pitched on that night included being a tech platform for helper services including things like cleaning residential and office spaces, laundry service, post-natal care, purchase of wall furnishings. There was even an idea for a halal speed dating service.

The start-ups were given an opportunity to do a short presentation on their business model, their motivation for doing it and what had been achieved so far.

Subsequently, they were asked by mentors and investors on how they would acquire customers and the acquisition cost. Some mentors also recommended contacts to help the start-ups.

Rizal concluded that the event was to prepare the start-ups of what was to follow.

That would be Demo Day for local investors in December and subsequently in Singapore for investors from the South-East Asian region.

By Lim Wing Hooi The Star/Asia News Network

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Malaysian public research universities using short-cut measures to achieve world-class recognition


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Other ways to achieve world-class recognition

I WAS bewildered by the news that some public research universities intend to increase their intake of foreign students so that they can achieve the so-called world-class university status.

This is a misguided strategy that, if followed through, will be done at the expense of local, especially non-bumiputra, students whose places would be taken up by the foreigners.

Take a look at the National University of Singapore, a top-10 university in Asia and top-50 in the world. It has only 8% to 10% foreign students whereas Universiti Teknologi Malaysia has 20%.

My point is increasing the intake of foreign students in our public universities to 10% and above is not a compulsory requirement to attain world-class university status.

I do not deny that a developing nation like Malaysia still needs to import foreign talents but they must be brilliant people and not just the average Joe.

Reduce the intake and tighten the screening process to accept smart foreign students only.

Efforts to attain world-class status should be focused on research and development, rate of journal citation, efficiency of teaching staff and facilities, academic freedom, etc.

Let’s stop using short-cut measures to score full marks in the foreign student category.

I strongly urge public universities and the Education Ministry to fix the foreign student quota to no more than 10% and re-allocate precious tertiary education resour­ces to local people who are paying tax to the Government.

By doing this, we can also reduce the chronic problem of brain drain.

NKKHOO Cheras The Star

Stop using short-cut measures

WE share NK Khoo’s sentiments regarding some public research universities intentionally increasing the intake of foreign students to achieve “world-class university” status in, “Other ways to achieve world-class recognition”.

It is good that over the past few years the Government has been serious and determined in improving the global university ranking and upgrading tertiary education of our public universities.

It is however unfortunate that in their eagerness to satisfy the ranking companies, we have seen some of the public universities sacrificing the quality of education as a whole and using their limited resources to earn “easy” points on certain measures, such as the QS World University Ranking’s “International faculty ratio” and “Student-to-faculty ratio”.

For instance, University of Malaya (UM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) have shown a significant improvement in ranking in the “Student-to-faculty ratio” and “International faculty ratio” measurements. In the former criteria, UM and UTM had respectively climbed to 58th and 143rd in 2015, from 86th and 203rd in 2013 respectively.

There are also good signs of improvement in the latter criteria with UM and UTM ranked at 167th and 193rd in 2015, respectively.

The irony is that with these improvements in “ratio”, it still falls short in claiming graduates who are “good quality graduates” in our public universities in the last three years.

The QS surveys’ have seen declining “Employer reputation” (employers were asked to identify universities that they consider best for recruiting graduates) and “Academic reputation” (academics were asked to identify the institutions where they believe the best workplace is) of these universities in the last three years.

For UM, these “reputation” measurements have been declining from 200th (2013) to 246th (2015) for “Employer reputation”, and 184th (2013) to 175th (2015) for “Academic reputation”.

Given that the above “reputation” indicators are measured using QS global surveys, that drew responses from thousands of experienced stakeholders worldwide, it indicates the dire need for the leading public universities in Malaysia to catch up to earn their reputation professionally and internationally.

Further, one possible explanation for such a negative correlation between “reputation” and “faculty ratio” measurements is that these rankings by “ratio” do not reflect the actual quality of some of the academic staff hired by the universities.

The counter argument would be that investing taxpayers money into upgrading rankings is good in improving higher education, but should not be done at the expense of the teaching quality.

For comparison, the leading Singaporean university, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has shown positive correlation between “reputation” and “ratio” measurements. With “Employer reputation” ranked at world No. 9, its “Student-to-faculty ratio” is ranked even lower than UM, at 67th.

As compared to UM, with a relatively higher number of students per academic staff, NUS still managed to produce much better quality graduates who earned a high reputation from employers globally.

To emulate NUS’ experience, more autonomy to the administration and management of our public universities could possibly address the underlying problems.

For instance, a better and fairer reward scheme for high performance faculties, strict replacement system for under-performing staff, as well as ensuring that only truly qualified candidates enter public universities, would potentially help to improve accountability, effective work culture and reputation of tertiary education in Malaysian public universities.

As these universities are highly subsidised by the Government, it must be worthy of the money paid by the taxpayers. To this effect, the Government plays an important role in providing necessary support such as academic freedom and autonomy to public universities, and eradicating hurdles and constraints that restrain public universities’ improvements, particularly in teaching and research.

On the other hand, despite the shortcomings and flaws of all existing university ranking systems, results of comparisons between universities can still serve, to a certain extent, as indicators to gauge the international reputation of a university.

Some of these ranking measurements are useful for policy makers and academics to collectively improve the standard of tertiary education in Malaysia.

BK SONG and TINA NEIK Subang Jaya The Star

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How property prices are determined?


Factors affecting prices – It is not easy to predict trend as the property market involves all kinds of players

Looking back, Jordan Lee & Jaafar executive director Yap Kian Ann
says there were many factors – be it microeconomic or macroeconomic,
political, social, among others, that affected the property market
performance and its pricing either directly, indirectly and/or jointly.

“They knew the market this year would be soft and this softening would be carried forward to 2016. The full impact of the expiry of the developers’ interest bearing schemes (DIBS) will be felt next year.

Under DIBS, property buyers need not service the loan until the property is completed. Introduced in 2009 as an incentive, speculators purchased multiple units under DIBS because of the initial low outlay.

He expects to see softening demand in the high-rise high-end residential sector in the central region of the Klang Valley in 2016. Landed residential property demand is still resilient, especially with the gated and guarded community concept. House prices are expected to “self-correct”, he says.

Wong says foreign investors are actively monitoring residential properties in Kuala Lumpur due to weak ringgit but they remain cautious.

The increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve after nearly a decade is also keenly watched. Already, reports are filtering out that Federal Reserve’s sway on global interest rates is causing a sharp jump in Singapore’s benchmark borrowing cost, squeezing growth in the small Asian city-state.

On a state by state basis, MIDF Research said earlier this month that Johor’s house price index showed the slowest growth year-on-year at 3%, Penang (3.5%) while Selangor fared better at 6.2%, followed by Kuala Lumpur’s 5.3%.

“We believe that the outlook for property price is better in Greater KL (Selangor and KL) due to support from the urbanisation factor.”

Citing Bank Negara statistics, the research house also noted that demand for property loans declined 13% year-on-year in October 2015 to RM25.19bil.

“This was weaker than September 2015, which declined 9% year-on-year. On a monthly sequential basis, the data was 1% lower. We are negative on the data as the number was showing nine consecutive year-on-year declines since February 2015.

“Year-to-date October 2015, loans were lower by 7% year-on-year to RM253.88bil. In our view, consumer appetite for big ticket items such as property remains low due to the rising cost of living and the weakening ringgit.”

By Eugene Mahalingam The Star/Asia News Network

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