China leads in coronavirus vaccine clinicals to combat Covid-19


The first clinical trial of the novel coronavirus vaccine in China has kicked off as volunteers taking part in the project started to share
their experience on social media, a Chinese newspaper reported on Saturday. China Daily/ANN

The first clinical trial of the novel coronavirus vaccine in China has kicked off as volunteers taking part in the project started to share their experience on social media, a Chinese newspaper reported on Saturday.

On Thursday, a female volunteer posted two pictures of her taking the vaccine shot as a part of the phase 1 clinical trial for recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo, according to the Science and Technology Daily.

The clinical trial was filed in the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry on March 17.

According to its registration information, the trial is jointly sponsored by the Institute of Biotechnology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, People’s Liberation Army and CanSino Biologics Inc based in Tianjin.

The trial is being carried out on healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 60 in two medical facilities in Wuhan, Hubei province. The study is set to be completed by Dec 31, according to the registry.

All 108 volunteers are from Wuhan that was hit hard by the outbreak. They will receive a series of follow-up examinations within six months after injection to see if their bodies have generated antibodies to the virus, the registry said,

Wang Junzhi, a senior expert on drug and vaccine development, said earlier this month that China is simultaneously conducting nine vaccine development projects, and most of them are expected to complete preclinical trials and begin human tests in April.

In general, China’s vaccine development against Covid-19 is among the world’s front-runners, he added.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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Human vaccine being tested | The Star Online

 

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The majority Malays fear their marginalized, oppressed & suppressed minority non-Malays! We want leaders with calibre!


https://youtu.be/0sBKSDwRKt0

促警方尊重宪法勿插手抗议集会 净选盟:后门政府不能成为常态

 

 Quality leaders, please 

 
Exchanging views: Muhyiddin (from right) with Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri and Chief Secretary to the government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali at Bangunan Perdana Putra. — Bernama
PETALING JAYA: With all eyes on who will make it into Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet, the business sector and moderation advocates are urging for quality over political loyalty.

Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) vice-president Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan said the new Cabinet line-up must include those with enough experience and expertise in their respective ministries.

“They should not be appointed based on political appointment or connection, networking, or to pay back any form of political assistance.

“The individual must be highly educated, experienced, and understands his job scope to strengthen the current government,” he said.

He proposed that the Cabinet should be a mix of old and new leaders from various backgrounds, as well as professionals who could be appointed as senators to become a Cabinet minister.

“We have experienced ministers from the previous government who did not carry any weight, could not perform their duties well and incapable of executing government objectives.

“A minister must be able to connect with those on the ground. For instance, we have many young business people who are doing everything online creatively. We want someone who is capable of connecting with them,” he said.

He urged the government to conduct a holistic review on the composition of the ministries as some could be merged or separated.

“Some ministries have too many agencies and departments under them while others have so few. The government should properly study and come up with a better structure,” he said.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president Datuk N. Gobalakrishnan said ministerial positions should be given to those who are most qualified even if it means choosing an ordinary party member rather than a president or chairman.

“We would rather the posts be given not based on loyalty or who has the higher post in a party, instead to those who are most qualified even if they are just ordinary members,” he said.

The new government must also look into creating a more business-friendly environment for domestic direct investment (DDI), which has been sidelined in the previous administration’s focus to spur foreign direct investment (FDI), said Gobalakrishnan.

“There is a one-stop centre to give perks such as tax exemption and customs clearance under one roof to foreign investors, but there is no such facility for DDI.

“The government must focus on levelling the playing field for DDI so that the country stops losing local investments that are flowing outside as FDI to countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan also expressed hope for a special allocation of RM500mil yearly to aid Indian businesses in moving forward.

He said they were put in the same basket as non-bumiputra businesses which caused stiff competition and Indian businesses to be sidelined from securing funds.

“When we are placed in a non-bumiputra basket, fundamentally, or predominantly, other people tend to get the funds rather than Indian businesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, moderation advocates said the main focus for the Cabinet ministers, when appointed, should be to get the economy back on track and to promote unity among a divided nation.

Anas Zubedy said boosting a dampened economy and bolstering unity among Malaysians would be the two “key concern areas” for the new Cabinet.

“The ministers must be individuals who not only can reconcile people between the races but also who can bring the Malays back together,” he said.

He said the Cabinet should be a mix of experienced veterans and young blood, depending on their past records.

“The Umno ministers who did a good job in the past should be brought back. It is about getting things done,” he said, adding that it must not be someone who currently has a court case.

“We must take the best talent from everywhere and I believe this was the best option for our country when the idea of the unity government was proposed,” he said.

Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, the son of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, said education reforms and national unity would be some of the priority areas the new Cabinet must look at.

He said any potential minister must be financially independent and preferably be from a profession.

“This is so that this person will not only be less attracted to bribes but can resign on principle and go back to his or her profession,” he said.

He added that ministers must also be transparent in their family’s involvement in business. – The Star front page

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Chinese varsities hold seven top spots in world ranking


Beijing: Universities from the Chinese mainland have secured seven of the top 10 positions in the Times Higher Education’s Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020 for the third straight year.

Tsinghua University maintained its position at the top in the listing of institutions from emerging economies.

Peking University was in second place for the second year running.

Zhejiang University and the University of Science and Technology of China remain in third and fourth place, while Shanghai Jiao Tong University climbed from eighth to sixth. Fudan University was listed in seventh place, while Nanjing University was ninth.

Other institutions in the top 10 include Moscow State University (fifth), National Taiwan University (eighth), and The University of Cape Town (10th).

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, said: “China’s success in our Emerging Economies University Rankings reflects its rapid rise on the world higher education stage. With the Double First Class Initiative driving improvements across participant universities, we expect it to continue to establish itself as a major global player in providing world-class higher education over the coming years.”

The Double First-Class Initiative refers to fostering “world-class universities” and “world-class discipline”. — China Daily/ANN

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What ails our Malaysian universities ?


 

Recent discourses about revamping our higher education system have included the following: critical thinking, empowerment, humanistic values, future proof graduates and improvising teaching methods.

Many Malaysians understand “critical thinking” as the ability to criticise something, and “future proof” as being immune from the future. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Politicians, civil servants, parents and civil society activists have uttered these concepts too often. They lament that our education system has failed.

Our leaders say we are a society devoid of critical thinkers. They swear blindly that Malaysians are left behind due to our inability to improvise in this age of rapid technological innovations.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that the developed world uses English to their advantage, but we have not.

Critics also claim that developed nations are more scientific and technologically minded, because they have the ability to think critically.

Innovation, improvisation and critical thinking have always been used in discourses of scientific, technological, technical and vocational education.

A “future proof” graduate with “humanistic values” would have acquired adequate and sustainable mental, spiritual and practical skills by now. Yet it seems the narrative we are familiar with does not tally with the reality, due to our misunderstanding of the fundamentals.

Malaysians can be globally competitive and widely respected if we decide to be consistent in the fundamentals. These fundamentals have not been mentioned as openly, but they are crucial to whether we surge ahead or fall further behind.

First, higher education should not be part of a political football game. Render quality education accessible to all. Do not confine it to a race-based quota system, with respect to student intake or hiring of lecturers and top university administrators.

Second, hire and retain academic staff in universities, based on their intellectual merit. Deans and senior university administrators must be constantly aware of any lecturer who publishes inane works, even though such nonsense may be in the form of 30 journal articles per annum.

For instance, how can research about whether the supernatural can be scientifically proven or not, be beneficial to solving our post-GE14 socio-political and religious problems?

The deans and deputy vice-chancellors must be tuned into the quality of their academic staff. They must have a basic knowledge of their contribution in their respective fields.

A dean in a social science faculty, for instance, must make it a point to have a general knowledge of all the social science fields under their charge. If not, he or she should not be a dean.

Third, heads of departments should have a collegial relationship with their fellow lecturers. There is no room for hierarchy, pulling rank or bullying.

Lecturers within a department must work as a team, within an atmosphere of mutual deference and respect. The head must provide motivation and encouragement, rather than react with jealousy and insecurity.

Academics must be encouraged to speak, deliver public lectures, engage in national and international debates, and be commended for it. Unfortunately, there is an unhealthy and counterproductive culture of egoism, selfishness, jealousy and arrogance in the corridors of our public universities.

Most, if not all, academics in a university have a doctorate. So why should there be a sense of insecurity or superiority?

Fourth, university lecturers must take pride in their teaching and writing. Whether they do so in English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil is irrelevant.

While one must be practical, what is more important is the positive attitude these academics possess when they engage in honest research.

What they choose as a research agenda and how relevant it is in the Malaysian context should be the decisive factors in academic teaching, writing and research.

Fifth, a lot more effort must go into how syllabuses are devised for various courses. Individual lecturers must take pride in the uniqueness and relevance of their syllabus.

It is my experience that such an important exercise of creating one’s syllabus is actually considered the least important of activities leading up to every semester.

Sixth, publications and research projects must be based on quality, not quantity. In the social sciences, for example, it is ineffectual to expect a new research topic to emerge every year or two, for the sake of satisfying annual KPI requirements of the research universities.

Due to our obsession with chasing KPIs and benchmarking global ranking systems, lecturers have resorted to mass production of publications and research projects. The majority are useless, and reports merely collect dust on dingy shelves.

It seems our university leadership is unaware that academic publishing has become a lucrative global business, with annual revenues exceeding billions of dollars.

This business is closely associated with the world university ranking system. Unsuspecting academics in countries like Malaysia race to publish in journals produced by these publishers, without realising that they are held at economic ransom, regardless of quality or research relevance to individual countries or regions.

It is time that Malaysian universities decide for themselves what research and publications are relevant for our own society, based on the current problems and national unity complications we face.

The high rate of unemployed university graduates is proof that there is a disconnect between what they learn in the universities and what employers want. This is due to a skewed view of the objectives of our higher education, and the quality of our educators.

We also have to be more obsessed with merit and substance, rather than what is politically expedient. For example, the appointment of a non-Malay vice chancellor of any public university in Malaysia should no longer be questioned or considered a sensitive issue.

There should be no hesitation, provided one is qualified academically, and has the right attitude towards teaching, research and intellectual development for national progress.

There is one area of higher education that has never been discussed, even though we constantly address the lack of critical thinkers and intellectuals in Malaysia.

The “Socratic Method” is a method of educational instruction that should be employed in university classrooms, in all fields. It is a method of hypothesis elimination, in that better suppositions are found during a debate or discussion.

The process of discussion involves asking a series of questions formulated as tests of logic. Instead of answering questions directly, questions are answered in the form of another question, which prompts the person or group to discover their beliefs about a topic, on their own. In this situation, the active participation of the lecturer is paramount.

Therefore, the Socratic Method encourages constant dialogue in the classroom, and sharpens the mind in logic, reason and arguments. In the process, students develop self confidence and a desire to read widely so they can engage more in classroom discussion. A silent student would feel embarrassed in a class full of chatty, logical peers.

While it is good to incorporate audio-visual techniques and other forms of innovative technology into teaching, university lecturers should not neglect the power of dialogue.

The Socratic Method would generate a cohort of graduates who will perform well in a job interview, show confidence and display a wide range of knowledge in the field. It also keeps lecturers on their toes and forces them to be updated in their respective fields. This is genuine educational empowerment, not mere rhetoric, based on fancy global terminology.
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WHO decision makes little effect in curbing China; New strategies needed for Malaysian tourism


US travel alert an overreaction, shows unilateralism: experts 

 A staff member, wearing a facemask, waits for customers near the Forbidden City in Beijing on Friday. The Chinese people have just experienced an unforgettable Spring Festival as the whole country has been forced to endure the spread of the novel coronavirus.Photo: AFP

 

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万万没想到!武汉告急!最先对中国动手的竟是这7国!3大无耻行为暴露真实面目!这笔帐中国人永不忘记!

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Thursday (local time) in Geneva the novel coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), putting pressure on China amid the deadly virus battle, as more countries are likely to issue travel advisories and impose trade restrictions.

 

Chinese analysts said although there is no need to exaggerate the impact of the declaration, the country needs to focus on containing the spread of the pneumonia as its top priority, as countries would adjust travel and trade policies based on the changing situation, and a complete recovery also depends on progress made during China’s nationwide fight against the virus.

The WHO emphasized that the declaration was not a vote of no confidence on China. Over the past few weeks, the WHO has witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak, and which has been met by an unprecedented response, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Thursday.

After considering multiple factors, WHO designated the coronavirus as a PHEIC. However, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak.

Following the PHEIC declaration, the US State Department warned Americans not to go to China, becoming the first country of issuing travel alert to its citizens, despite the WHO emphasized on Thursday that it did not suggest other countries impose travel and trade restrictions on China.

A US State Department notice said travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended flights to and from China.

Those currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means, it said, noting that the department has requested all non-essential US government personnel to defer travel to China because of the novel coronavirus. The travel warning is the highest Level 4 – Do Not Travel – in the US.

At least 98 novel coronavirus cases have been reported in 18 countries outside of China, including eight human-to-human transmissions in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US. The majority of the cases outside of China involved people who had traveled to Wuhan, or were in contact with someone who had visited the city, according to the WHO.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. Photo: VCG

Damage to both sides

The US travel warning may cause other nations to follow, considering its geopolitical influence, some Chinese analysts forecast, reminding other countries to heed the WHO advise.

The US is overreacting and the warning would greatly hurt global tourism and hinder people-to-people exchanges, Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Ni predicted that other Western countries may follow the US in issuing travel restrictions to China.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the US government’s move shows its unilateralism, which is unsurprising.

The WHO clarified that they did not suggest other countries impose travel and trade restrictions on China. The advise was made based on multidimensional considerations and global public health interests, which the US ignored, Zeng told the Global Times.

The US government had ordered the departure of all non-urgent US personnel and their family members from Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, the coronavirus’ epicenter, on January 23.

Some foreign airlines have suspended flights to China including Air Canada, United Airlines, British Airlines and IndiGo.

Imposing restrictions on personal exchanges between the US and China would significantly weigh on US interests in China, considering the huge presence of American companies in China, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University.

“It may also trigger a humanitarian crisis, as American citizens have married Chinese people, and if they are forced to leave, many families would be separated,” Li said.

Many US companies are becoming increasingly entrenched in China, including major US-listed firms such as Tesla, Starbucks, Apple and Boeing, therefore restricting personnel exchanges between China and the US would also have an impact on the US stock market, according to analysts.

The US government had also issued travel alerts on previous public health incidents declared by the WHO, including the H1N1 virus that caused an influenza pandemic in 2009, Ebola outbreak in West Africa and polio in 2014, media reported. During the Ebola outbreak, the State Department alerted US citizens to follow screening procedures and travel restrictions, and reduce air travel to countries including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.

People make protective suits at a medical company in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, Thursday. To help fight the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, workers of some medical material companies rushed to work ahead of schedule to make protective equipment. Photo: Xinhua


Top priority

According to the International Health Regulations (IHR), if the WHO declares a PHEIC, the director-general shall issue temporary recommendations, including health measures regarding people, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods and parcels to prevent or reduce the spread of the disease and avoid unnecessary interference to international traffic.

However, temporary recommendations are non-binding advisories issued by the WHO and are on a time-limited, risk-specific basis, according to IHR.

When WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a PHEIC, the organization emphasized it was essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities, in a statement published on its website in July 2019.

Under the IHR, countries implementing additional health measures going beyond what WHO recommends will be required to provide a public health rationale and justification within 48 hours of implementation for WHO to review, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told the Global Times on Thursday.

The WHO is obliged to share information about measures and the justification received with other countries involved, Jasarevic said, noting that countries are asked to provide public health justification for any travel or trade measures that are not scientifically based, such as refusal of entry based on suspected cases or unaffected persons to affected areas.

Chinese analysts said it was not necessary to overreact or interpret the news as a hostile attitude toward China from the global community. The shared priority is to prevent the deadly virus from spreading across the globe.

“Indeed, it may place extra pressure to China, with both economic and political implications,” said Shen Yi, director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance of Fudan University.

“But it depends on how China continues fighting the epidemic in order to help its economy recover,” Shen said, noting that the WHO decision has little influence on how other countries handle economic ties with China amid the pneumonia outbreak.

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New strategies needed for Malaysian tourism


Cautious visitors: Tourists seen wearing face masks as they enter Malaysia through the Johor Baru Custom, Immigration and Quarantine Complex recently.

IT’S an unfortunate start to Visit Malaysia Year 2020 with the outbreak of the coronavirus putting a tumble to travelling, and it’s a tad more ominous that mainland China tourists have been our key market.

The Chinese government has already placed its faith in Malaysia by launching the Malaysia-China Year of Culture and Tourism 2020 to boost bilateral ties and friendship between the Asian nations.

However, the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global health emergency has further dented the promotional efforts of Tourism Malaysia. To suggest minimal impact on Malaysia is a fallacy, to put it mildly.

Tourism revenue has always been regarded low hanging fruit, and with the improved performances of 2019, this year was supposed to kick off with more tourist arrivals.

Malaysia reported its half-year tourism results, until Aug 2019, declaring that tourist arrivals reached 13.35 million, up 4.9%, while tourist receipts improved 6.8% over the same period in 2018.

Tourism Malaysia’s data summary indicates the travel industry had contributed RM41.69bil in revenue to the country’s economy from January to June in 2019.

Apparently, the performance also saw growth in terms of per capita expenditure, rising by 1.9% to RM3,121.6, while the average length of stay climbed by 0.4 nights to 6.2 nights.

The top 10 source markets for arrivals were Singapore (5,381,566), Indonesia (1,857,864), China (1,558,782), Thailand (990,565), Brunei (627,112), India (354,486), South Korea (323,952), the Philippines (210,974), Vietnam (200,314) and Japan (196,561).

There are plenty of day trippers from Singapore and Indonesia, given our close proximity.

So, the numbers from China are significant. It’s glaring that East Asian and Asean arrivals continued to dominate the share of tourist arrivals to Malaysia with a 70% contribution.

The medium-haul market and long-haul market represented 20.8% and 9.2% share, respectively.

Tourism Malaysia reported that the top five countries with highest receipts were Singapore (RM11.56bil), China (RM7.09bil), Indonesia (RM5.71bil), Thailand (RM1.70bil) and Brunei (RM1.52bil).

The five countries with the highest average length of stay were those from Saudi Arabia (10.5 nights), France (8.7 nights), Germany (8.3 nights), Netherlands (8.1 nights) and Canada (7.7 nights).

In 2018, Malaysia registered 25.8 million tourist arrivals and RM84.1bil in tourist receipts. For 2019, tourist arrivals reached 28.1 million with tourist receipts of RM92.2bil.

While Malaysia, like most countries, has understandably become concerned with China’s continuing struggle with the virus, it’s crucial we maintain our renowned hospitality when interacting with Chinese tourists.

Chinese travellers have heeded caution by staying home, and for those travelling, the last thing they’d want is to feel unwelcome, or even discriminated.

News reports have already filtered in that Chinese tourists – and in some cases, even Singaporeans – have been asked to leave restaurants and tourist spots in some countries.

Our Prime Minister has made the right move by announcing that the decision to close mosques and tourist attractions to travellers, given the novel coronavirus outbreak, is not government policy.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad went so far as to describe such moves as irresponsible, saying the government never declared that mosques or museums were closed to tourists because they could be infected by the coronavirus.

“This is not a government policy and it is an irresponsible act, ” he told a press conference after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting last week.

Among the mosques that have closed temporarily to tourists are the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque and the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, as well as the Federal Territory mosque in Kuala Lumpur. They have since been opened.

Dr Mahathir also warned the public against spreading fake news meant to stir ill feelings between races.

Closing mosques to non-Muslims also doesn’t make sense when there are many Chinese citizens who are Muslims. The fact is there are more Muslims in China than Malaysia. However, unlike people, this virus doesn’t discriminate and will make victims of any race or religion.

Thermal detectors

So, it will be more effective and sensible to install thermal detectors at these popular mosques, and place medical personnel there to monitor the situation.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi has rightly said that tourists, particularly Chinese nationals, should not be discriminated and said tourists coming into the country would have been screened at the entry points, including airports.

Recently, West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno drew flak from netizens after amateur video recordings of him welcoming Chinese visitors in a well-attended parade at the Minangkabau International Airport in Padang went viral on Twitter, amid concerns over a domestic coronavirus outbreak.

A video uploaded on Sunday by Twitter user @dedetsaugia, in which Irwan could be seen addressing the tourists, has been viewed over 2.1 million times and retweeted over 6,000 times at the time of writing. As reported by kompas.com, Irwan welcomed the foreign visitors after they were declared healthy in a medical examination conducted with thermal scanners installed at the airport.

“The arrival of these tourists is expected to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting West Sumatra in the future, ” Irwan was quoted by Antara news agency.

“We cannot reject foreign arrivals when they have prepared all the required documentation. We have taken anticipatory measures by conducting a detailed check-up.”

The reaction of these netizens is in bad taste, and reeks of xenophobia. Credit to the West Sumatra authorities for showing much greater grace.

Asean and East Asian tourists will continue to dominate our tourist arrivals.

Like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which hit Hong Kong and southern parts of China in 2003, the coronavirus appears to be a winter phenomenon. Over 700 people died then. China is now still in a cold season, although it’s already spring.

But this time, unlike 2003, it has happened during the Lunar New Year festival when millions travel home, across China, to be with their families. The CNY season is also a time for many Chinese to holiday abroad.

According to Wuhan officials, there are still over 4,000 Wuhan tourists overseas as of Jan 27, and certainly, this can’t be comforting for many.

China has adopted a more transparent approach this time, unlike in 2003, when it didn’t reveal the health threat until five months after the SARS outbreak.

This time around, it has done things differently by updating the world on developments with the epidemic.

Last week, the Chinese Embassy here even started a Whatsapp group – with a long list of media people – where everyone is kept informed, and the channel is used to share information, verify reports and keep the local media in the loop.

While China is fighting against time to battle the virus, it isn’t likely that this will drag on until the summer season.

Although this is very much a Wuhan problem, many travellers have postponed plans to fly and even going as far as avoiding crowds.

Malaysia is a country with a hot climate and open spaces, but that hasn’t stopped many of us from wearing masks as a precaution. Never mind that our streets and MRT aren’t congested unlike how it is in Japan, China or Hong Kong.

My relatives from Singapore called to say they were no longer coming to Kuala Lumpur for a CNY reunion! Talk about over-reaction!

For sure our tourist numbers will be hit, but Malaysia can’t afford to wait.

It must work on the right markets for us to meet the numbers and ensure the success of Visit Malaysia Year.

Mohamaddin has downplayed the fear that tourism numbers will decline, saying the loss in tourism revenue from the ban will be minimal, and added that the ministry will not revise its campaign target of getting 30 million visitors this year.

“The travel ban will only cause a small impact as it is only for those from Wuhan. But people from other countries such as Australia and England are still able to visit Malaysia. So, the target remains as it is, ” he said.

Of course, Malaysia will be affected. Australians, Britons and Americans may stay longer when they visit Malaysia, but their numbers are negligible, and they are certainly not the biggest spenders.

In fact, for 2017, the East Asia market showed a 6.3% growth, while other markets saw a decline, i.e., Asean markets dropped by -3.9%, Europe (-1.7%), Americas (-4.3%), Oceania (-5.4%) Central Asia (-6.4%), Africa (-7%), West Asia (-12.3%) and South Asia (-13.3%).

Asean, or the short-haul market, dominated with a 75.1% share of total tourist arrivals and brought a total of 19,478,575 tourists to Malaysia. The medium-haul market share was 19.1%, with 4,948,123 tourists, while the long-haul market share was 5.9%, with a total of 1,520,389 tourists.

For 2017, the top 10 tourist source markets for Malaysia were Singapore with 12,441,713 tourist arrivals, Indonesia (2,796,570), China (2,281,666), Thailand (1,836,522), Brunei (1,660,506), India (552,739), South Korea (484,528), Japan (392,777), the Philippines (370,559), and Britain (358,818).

For China, the market surpassed the target for this region with an increase of 7.45% to 2.28 million arrivals, while an increase of flight frequency by AIRASIA X made Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu choice destinations for Koreans.

Arrivals from Indonesia and China, which made up Malaysia’s second and third largest respectively, have been increasing. In 2018, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia climbed by 29% year-on-year, while the number of tourists from Indonesia increased by 17%.

This is a good time to re-design our strategies and engage with stakeholders – including tour operators, food and beverage outlet owners, hoteliers, mall operators and media – to see how we can support Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

We should also seek the support of famous Malaysians like Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datuk Jimmy Choo, Henry Golding and others to be our Tourism Ambassadors since they have millions of fans worldwide.

We are all rooting for a resounding success.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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Countdown to the Chinese New Year around the world for the year of the mouse


A live countdown to the Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year) for Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam, and New York on January 25, 2020.

While most of the world celebrates the New Year on January 1, many people also celebrate the traditional new year based on the lunar calendar. Celebrate as the clock strikes midnight and the new year arrives. Happy New Year from the Youtube Battles community! 🙂

At the beginning of this year we did a live countdown to 2020 with coverage for all 35 time zones in the world so that everyone could celebrate the moment as the clock struck midnight in their time zone on New Years Eve and the new year began. As the day progressed, the countdown was updated to show the next time zones to hit the year 2020.

Chinese New Year 2020 falls on January 25 | Human World …

春晚合家欢系列之同一种乡愁 | 订阅CCTV春晚

北京时间1月24日20:00,2020年中央广播电视总台春节联欢晚会将如约而至!锁定CCTV春晚频道,春晚直播等你来看,我们不见不散!
2020年中央广播电视总台春节联欢晚会直播地址:https://bit.ly/2R6DIOK

Celebrating Spring Festival with KOLs at the CGTN office 四位外国网红齐聚央视大楼喜迎春节

 

 

Moderate gains for year of the rat – StarProperty



Chinese people around the world prepare for the year of the mouse

People in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province pick hangings with Chinese character “Fu (fortune)” at a market on Monday. Photo: cnsphoto

The Chinese Lunar New Year will arrive on Saturday. Chinese people across the country and around the world are preparing to welcome the year of mouse with various traditions.

Chinese people value celebrating the New Year with families.

As of Monday, the national railway has served 12.24 million trips within 11 days since the peak travel season started, a 19.8 percent year-on-year increase. A total of 1,370 temporary trains have been added, China National Radio reported Tuesday.

Traditional conventions in Spring Festival vary across China.

In Chaozhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, people march with god sculptures from temples. “The gong and drum band would follow the firecrackers in the march,” Chen Aijing, a Chaozhou resident, told the Global Times.

“Each village would have different dates to celebrate. There would be performance for Chaozhou operas and traditional puppet play,” she said.

Several days before the New Year day, people in Guangzhou, Guangdong’s capital city go shopping in “Flower Street” where one can buy almost anything. On December 28 of the Lunar Calendar, families clean their houses. On the New Year Day, they make rice cakes, according to Zhao Shi, a local resident.

In Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, there used to be dragon and lion dances, but the convention has been replaced by a lighting show. “Dried fish, meat and sausages are a must for Spring Festival,” a local university student Wu Han said.

Wu interns in Chongli, North China’s Hebei Province. Due to the spread of pneumonia in his home city, Wu hesitated whether he would return home.

In the northeastern provinces, people usually stay indoors during the festival due to cold temperatures.

“Watching the Spring Festival gala is a must for us,” Lun Yu, a resident from Da-

qing, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Her big family gathers together on the New Year eve and makes dumplings with fillings of sauerkraut and pork. The dumplings are served on the table right at midnight.

For Chinese living overseas, it is often difficult for them to go home at Spring Festival. Tina Ma, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, decided to visit a friend in Brisbane. “We plan to have a big meal and watch the gala on the internet,” she told the Global Times.

Police officers perform traditional dance at a Spring Festival gala in Du’an Yao autonomous county, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Sunday. Photo: cnsphoto

Colored lanterns featuring the Red Army displayed in Zunyi, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Photo: cnsphoto

A child is attracted by holiday decorations at a Spring Festival market in San Francisco. Photo: cnsphoto

A child tries the head decoration of Chakhar clan in Hohhot, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at an event to celebrate Spring Festival. Photo: cnsphoto

A man is writing couplets at the National Library of China in Beijing on Tuesday. An Exhibition on folk arts and intangible cultural heritage about Spring Festival kicks off here. Photo: Li Hao/GT

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Spring Festival dinner tables underscore digital advantage

From Norwegian salmon, Bostonian lobsters to Chilean cherries, the dinner tables of Chinese people have never been more globalized in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, the most important reunion time for Chinese families.

What’s behind the most important feast for Chinese points to the key to China’s economic appeal – the government’s opening-up efforts, growing consumer demand for diversified choices and better quality, and a digital economy that helps accelerate the country’s consumption upgrading.

As China is shifting toward a consumption-based economy, its rising household consumption and enhanced opening-up to the outside world indicate the great potential of the Chinese market, which attracts attention from foreign companies and exporters.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s retail sales rose 8 percent year-on-year to some 41.16 trillion yuan ($6 trillion) in 2019, with the contribution of consumption to GDP expansion reaching 57.8 percent and remaining the top growth engine for the economy. Moreover, the country’s per capita GDP exceeded the $10,000-mark last year. By any measure, there is still plenty of room for China’s consumption to grow.

But most importantly, a large-scale digital market has taken shape in China, offering a significant boost to consumption, which may be the biggest difference between China’s consumer market and those in other countries. With the upgrading of internet services, the popularization of e-commerce and the change of consumption habits, China’s internet generation of consumers have become accustomed to buying all their daily necessities online. Such efficiency and simplicity have greatly encouraged consumption innovations, providing more and better goods and services options for consumers.

In the process of promoting its consumption upgrading, China’s digital economy has not just boosted its foreign trade but also offered a lift to the rural economy. According to information from Tmall, it sold 190 million kilograms of agricultural commodities during a shopping campaign in early January this year, with income for each participating farmer increasing by 1,037 yuan.

With the rise of the digital economy, Chinese farmers are also using the tool to expand marketing channels for their output so as to improve the living standards. That’s a big difference between China and India. While rural Chinese are embracing the internet and making use of it, Indians in rural regions are resisting the shifts e-commerce will bring, which somehow explains the great vitality in the Chinese economy.

In short, China’s economic prowess lies largely in its digital economy, which sees all parts of society connect with one another to generate continuous momentum for the country to maintain strong growth.

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Chinese people to celebrate festival despite disease impact

The specter of the Wuhan novel coronavirus hovers over China with at least 544 confirmed cases across the country, and most provinces have reportedly had suspected cases, but due to the approach of the most important festival in Chinese tradition – Chinese New Year – many people across the nation maintained optimistic and will go ahead to celebrate the festival.

 

Celebration for Chinese Lunar New Year held in Chinatown of Yangon
Celebration for Chinese Lunar New Year held in Chinatown of Yangon

S.Korea’s real GDP growth hits 10-year low in 2019

South Korea’s real gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, posted the lowest growth in 10 years last year, central bank data showed Wednesday.

S.Korea posts lowest growth in a decade

South Korea’s economy expanded at its slowest pace for a decade last year, the central bank said Wednesday.

Chinese economy in good position for future growth: US economist

The Chinese economy is in a good position for future growth as the country is making headway in further reform and opening-up at an appropriate pace, a senior US economist has said.

Tariff war risk may go beyond economic loss

When US President Donald Trump announced he would be attending this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, many expected a toned-down version of the free trade-bashing Trump, whose tariff …

The usually staid Japanese media lambasted the “cowardly” Carlos Ghosn on Wednesday, after the tycoon jumped bail and fled to Lebanon to avoid trial in Japan.

 

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Time for real change for Malaysian education as glory stuck in the past and the delusion of Vision 2020


New decade, new Malaysian education: For the sake of our children and our future, Mazlee’s replacement should be a qualified and capable Malaysian – irrespective of race or religion.

Dr Maszlee forced to resign for failing to heed Cabinet orders

We need a new Education Minister with the right qualifications, a scientific mindset and a technocratic iron will to implement the critical changes.

I HAVE been a big critic of and objector to Maszlee Malik as Education Minister from day one.

I took no pleasure in it then nor do I take pleasure in it now. It just is. The wrong person must go and the right person must come in.

Education is far too important for a nation to be entrusted to those not competent in moulding the minds of our most precious resource, our youth. Education is where we develop this resource for either the success or the failure of our nation.

We do not have to look far to see success. A country with no natural resources, with a tenth of our population, can be a developed nation by sheer power of its human resources.

In 1965, Malaysia and Singapore went separate ways in more ways than one. Look at where they are and look where we are now. The lessons to be learned are abundant. Have the humility to know when we are wrong and they have been right all along. There is no need to look East. Look South.

“A nation is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people and the quality of its leaders which ensure it an honourable place in history, ” said its architect, Lee Kuan Yew in 1963.

The education ministership is the leader in ensuring that our children and our youths are able to take the nation to the next level. It is just not at the very top have we got it wrong, again and again. We must have the humility to admit when we are wrong and have been wrong for more than 30 years. We must have the decency, discipline and courage to want to change so our future can be assured.

What did Singapore do right in education? When one looks at massive differences in results, one need not look at many things. One need only look at the fundamental deviation at the root.

One: Singaporean education is in English.

Despite more than 76% of its population being ethnic Chinese, the medium of instruction for its public schools is English. Have you ever heard the Singaporean government or its leaders talk about “memartabatkan” (to give dignity to) the Mandarin language? They have no time for such foolish ethnic pride.

They may find ways to conserve Chinese heritage but they have no interest or inclination to play to racial sentiments that would sacrifice the very essence that will ensure their children have the easiest access to the widest and latest conservatory of human knowledge since the late 19th century.

As such, accessibility of critical knowledge for their children and subsequent generations are assured from young and is continuous throughout their lives. It is so easy to do for those who have the best interest at heart and yet so difficult to do for those with foolish pride and Machiavellian political ambitions.

No mandatory Chinese calligraphy is needed to ensure Chinese heritage continues. No shouting of slogans of Ketuanan Cina and its preservation. That is confidence in your own ability to shape destiny. To hell with all that. Learn in English.

Two: Their education is secular. Because that is the essence of education

One of the greatest physicists and teachers of the 20th century, the late Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, famously said, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes an education.

Singapore does not impose belief on its citizens. And that starts in education. Question everything and everyone. Anything that cannot be questioned has no place in the classroom of public education. That is called indoctrination.

You want to indoctrinate your children that the sky is filled with butterflies and angels in the morning, go ahead, but not on our time or our dime.

It is abhorrent the amount of taxpayers money and children’s time that have been wasted on indoctrination of belief. Indoctrination stops you from thinking, it is the complete acceptance of belief.

As Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”. Religion is not about thinking, its about accepting.

Religion – any religious indoctrination – has no place in public education. You do not find that in Singapore and you do not find that in any other developed nation. If you want to include religion in public education, do it as part of comparative religion in the social sciences context. Otherwise it is indoctrination. It is useless as education.

Belief, religion and its indoctrination must be the domain of parents, if they so choose, and not government. Otherwise the result is imposition, persecution and finally tyranny of belief upon the citizenry. And no nation will survive such tyranny.

There is a reason great men of history have warned us against such wanton imposition of religious beliefs and indoctrination of the masses. Thomas Jefferson once said, “In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to liberty.”

We need to heed this warning.

Three: One word – Science.

I have said this again and again. Science is the salvation of a nation, especially today in the 21st century.

The triumph of human civilisation is the triumph of science. The ascendancy of humankind, each empire, each nation and people has been through their grasp of the “science” of their time and its application in their minds and lives.

Our education must be science-centric. No ifs or buts. There must be more basic science taught, learned, experimented with and exposed to our children from the day they start school until they leave it. In depth and breadth and in the number of hours spent on it. We must have truly competent and passionate teachers to carry out this duty.

Even as a lawyer, I have learned that the human mind and senses are limited. Nothing fools humans more than their minds and their own senses.

In just the last decade, more convictions of innocents due to so-called eye-witness testimonies, even multiple ones, have been overturned as a result of DNA evidence to the contrary. Why? Science has proven that human senses and minds can be easily fooled, especially by emotion and herd mentality. But science is objective, evidentiary knowledge.

We need to build a science-centric society and that starts with our primary and secondary education. From the beginning, Lee realised the importance of establishing Singapore as a leader in the field of science and technology in Asia. He did not care what your ethnicity or religion was, that was the priority. And look at the society he built. Modern in outlook and progressive in thought, to the point he could no longer really control the people.

Maybe that is what our leaders are afraid of. A questioning, educated, critical thinking masses.

We must halt this downward slide of epic proportions in Malaysian education.

A new education minister with the right qualifications, a scientific or science-centric mindset and a technocratic iron will to implement critical changes must be appointed. Nothing less can be acceptable to Malaysians. This must be our demand.

I believe the next appointment will be a critical test whether this Pakatan government is worthy of our consideration in the next elections or an alternative must be considered and pursued vigorously by the right-minded citizenry.

We need the new education minister to implement what is needed. Go back to the basics and have the will, courage and ingenuity to make tough changes against what I expect to be conservative political opposition, both racial and religious.

If the person is more interested in putting colleagues in religious brotherhoods ahead of qualified intellectual professionals in positions of authority in education, then we are all doomed.

If the person is more interested in telling and allowing teachers to carry on dakwah (Islamic preaching) instead of closing down separate canteens in schools, then our quagmire will continue.

Black shoes and hotel swimming pools. That is the legacy we have been left with.

We need to see the closing down of worthless tax-payer funded universities that carry the word science but are based on beliefs and scriptures. They make a mockery of our nation and society. They promote the dumbing down of our population and produce graduates that will have nothing to contribute but further destruction of the Malaysian civilisation. We need a shake down of epic proportions for Malaysian education to return it to its past glory and make future progress.

As such, unlike a certain racist and bigoted MP from PAS, who insists on a Malay Muslim candidate only for the post, we need a minister who is qualified, irrespective of race or religion. We just need a Malaysian who is capable, for the sake of our children and our future.

We need an education minister who understands what is essential education. It is not rocket science.

But like all things in Malaysian politics, I have stopped believing in the capabilities or integrity of most of our politicians and political leadership. How I hope that I am proven wrong.

I close with this quote from Carl Sagan, one of the foremost teachers of science: “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

That could very well describe our Malaysian education system and administration.

But 2020 has arrived, so it’s time for real change to happen.

Activist lawyer Siti Kasim is the founder of the Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity Foundation (Maju). The views expressed here are solely her own.

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Comment: Tough times for Chinese education


A glimpse of glory 

 We once had a vision of a future, but now that it’s here, we still seem stuck in the past.

Cutting edge: Schools in China have begun to emphasise the teaching of coding, robotics and AI in the great push to produce the best engineers and digital experts. — AFP

WE are already into 2020 and it’s the dawn of a new decade. But if we buy into the endless narrative of race and religion, it’s as if we haven’t moved.

Six decades after Malaysia’s independence, and we are still trapped in this blinding obsession with ethnicity, which has done nothing but consume so much of our time and energy.

When rationale flies out the window, and reasoning fails, some politicians and self-declared communal champions resort to bigotry ways.

And of course, the most unscrupulous sometimes tell our citizens they should leave the country if they are unhappy, although incredulously, some of these characters conveniently overlook how their forefathers came to Malaya nearly the same time as the rest.

If Malaysia is caught in the middle income trap now, with our inability to reach a higher level of income, that’s down to not having changed in how we’ve functioned economically for the past 40-odd years.

The middle-income trap concept refers to the transition of low income to a middle income economy.

We have failed to achieve the Vision 2020 objective of becoming a developed nation, and the architect of that plan, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has blamed his successors for the failure.

Now, the Pakatan Harapan government – also led by Dr Mahathir – has unveiled the Shared Prosperity Plan for 2035. It remains to be seen if we will reach that goal, either.

But at the rate we are moving, it’s hard to ignore how the voice of hope has somehow hushed.

In fact, Vision 2020 set off bigger expectations and optimism, but now there seems to be a lack of purpose and leadership.

If Malaysia is facing a middle income trap, then we are also snagged in a political status snare because we are heading nowhere as a nation, as we recklessly hand racial and religious hardliners the wheel of the nation.

Unelected religious activists seem to be speaking more boldly than many elected representatives, who seem content to let these fringe personalities hog the headlines.

In the digital age, the decibel level has been cranked in social media, and comments posted by their fans to support these hawks have become more seditious and disturbing.

It’s hard to break free from that gnawing sense that they are allowed to continue because the government fears putting a leash on them.

Our Pakatan Harapan leaders, especially those from Bersatu, seem to lack the will to take on a centrist role, and worse, have attempted to compete with those playing the race and religion cards.

While these political shenanigans may gain domestic mileage, it doesn’t help Malaysia one bit because many see it as part of the inability to get our act together.

They see the vibrance and innovations of Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, and want a slice of that pie. But anyone who has been to the cities of these three Asean countries will understand why they are selling their stories much better to investors.

Let’s be blunt – they are telling investors to forget Malaysia as they highlight our continuing basket case political mentality and actions, with its cyclical scripts in tow.

Who can take us seriously if we believe a group of retired communists in wheelchairs can threaten national security over a reunion, which looked more like their farewell dinner?

Even the communists in China and Vietnam – countries which have good diplomatic ties with Malaysia – have embraced capitalism unlike those in other established free markets. The only thing communist is their political structure, that’s all.

And we still hear some small-minded chauvinists calling for the closure of vernacular schools, claiming they are the root to disunity.

The cause of our fragmentation isn’t these schools (which have produced many great talents), but the resident bigots and extremists.

Framed against this backdrop, it has become even more pertinent for those in significant positions of influence to speak up against these tyrants.

In November, Singapore launched its National AI Strategy, with three objectives to ensure it becomes a global hub for developing, test-bedding, deploying and scaling AI solutions, as well as learning how to govern and manage the impact of AI.

Schools in China have begun to emphasise the teaching of coding, robotics and AI in the great push to produce the best engineers and digital experts.

But our school system continues to be weighed down by politics, religion and language.

For just awhile, can we ask ourselves why we have been so preoccupied and emotional over so many superfluous issues that do nothing to propel Malaysia to become a developed nation?

It’s a small world after all, and in 2020, the world has become increasingly inclusive and is culturally more open and dynamic. But if we continue the way we are, we will remain in the lower tiers of national progress.

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Can the world order catch up with the world? 

When will the Western-led global order catch up with the world …

 

Vision without execution is delusion

Few countries peer far into the future, but in 1991, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir  Mohamad(filepic) declared Vision or Wawasan 2020. … Looking back, was it possible to achieve this breathtaking vision? In my humble opinion, definitely. How much of it has Malaysia achieved? The answer depends on who you talk to.
 

The ideal eyesight is 20-20 vision when we can see everything clearly and know exactly where to go.

Given that 2018 and 2019 have been years of great populist upheaval, geopolitical tensions, massive climate change and technology transformations, it is not surprising that our first year of the third decade of the 21st century is masked by the fog of uncertainty.

Few countries peer far into the future, but in 1991, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared Vision or Wawasan 2020, “the ultimate objective that we should aim for is a Malaysia that is, by the year 2020, a fully developed country in our own mould, according to the standards that we ourselves set”.

To set a five-year plan is common place; to lay out a vision 30 years to the future was breathtaking in audacity. Dr Mahathir himself laid out nine challenges to achieve by 2020: first, establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one bangsa (race); second, creating a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society; third, fostering and developing a mature democratic society; fourth, establishing a fully moral and ethical society; fifth, establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society; sixth, establishing a scientific and progressive society; seventh, establishing a fully caring society; eighth, ensuring an economically just society, in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation; and ninth, establishing a prosperous society with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

Looking back, was it possible to achieve this breathtaking vision? In my humble opinion, definitely. How much of it has Malaysia achieved? The answer depends on who you talk to. On the issue of advanced country status, Malaysia is one class below in the upper middle income bracket with a gross national income (GNI) range of US$3,996 to US$12,375 per year. High-income economies are defined by the World Bank as those with a GNI per capita of US$12,376 or more. The IMF estimates Malaysia’s 2019 GNI per capita at US$11,140, pretty near the top end of the upper middle-income range, so it is certainly within striking distance. Indeed, if the exchange rate goes back to roughly RM3.80 to US$1, Malaysia would attain high income status. On the issue of national competitiveness, Malaysia ranks 27th out of 141 nations surveyed by the WEF Global Competitiveness Index (2019). This is no mean achievement, as her financial markets are ranked 15th.

But with Malaysia’s Gini Coefficient about the same as the United States (41st), social equality is nothing to be proud of, but at least advanced countries have not also achieved fairness in income and wealth that they vaunt.

Malaysia is a country blessed with large natural resources relative to the population, located in the high growth zone of East Asia and an important contributor to the global supply chain. She faces the same difficulties and challenges of most emerging markets in how to position oneself in a global situation that is fraught with new and somewhat daunting problems of geopolitical tension, climate change and massive technology transformation.

As the example of high income, sophisticated Hong Kong economy has shown, no one can take economic freedoms and competitiveness for granted, because politics can change the game almost overnight. What most governments struggle with is how to prepare the population, both the working class and the young, to adapt to the emerging technologies through education and re-skilling.

So it is not surprising in this age of digital divide that the most contentious area of politics is often in education.

Actually, there is not so much a digital divide as a knowledge divide – we are divided by our ignorances of each other and our inability to appreciate that what is about to kill or marginalise us is global climate change, conflicts and disruptive technology.

But what separates us from working together is ideology, religion and ultimately identity, turbo-charged by fake news that says the other side is always the bad guy.

In other words, polarisation can be reduced from working together to deal with external threats, but internally recognizing that there are common, shared interests and objectives.

Personally, climate change is the existential threat, whilst there is little that small countries can do about Great Power politics.

But technology is what each country can adopt to deal with climate change and keeping up with competition. Small countries like Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland carry much more clout than their size because of their willingness to invest in technology. The real threat of artificial intelligence and Big Data is that only the few that have scale and willingness to invest in knowledge will be the big winners.

This explains why the US and China have the leading tech platforms, because they not only have scale, speed and scope, but also the focus to work on the AI breakthroughs.

But recognising the threats and opportunities is only half of the Vision thing.

Vision without execution is delusion.

Getting the execution right is then all about politics and the bureaucracy.

Boris Johnson’s election victory on Brexit showed that he had the correct vision that the British were tired of European bureaucracy that stifled their freedom of action.

But whether he can change the British business model means that he has to radically transform a British civil service that has followed EU laws and mindset. This is exactly what Carrie Lam has to do with the Hong Kong civil service that is operating behind the times.

MIT economist Cesar Hidalgo quotes the essence of the modern problem by citing top football coach Josef Guardiola as saying that “the main challenge of coaching a team is not figuring out a game plan but getting that game plan into the heads of the players.”

Any plan or vision must be internalised by the players, because only they can execute the plan in the game that is ever changing and uncertain. In short, no vision in 2020 can work until the political leadership understands that only by internalizing the diversity of the team can the team be a winner or at least not a loser.

Happy 2020.

The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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Let’s come together in 2020


AS 2019 comes to a close let us reflect on how we have progressed as a nation in the past year. It’s time to take stock of our achievements and successes, weaknesses and shortcomings.2019 can be as Charles Dickens wrote in his book, A Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

The Government has succeeded in enhancing governance and reducing corruption and has unveiled a new shared prosperity vision. Nevertheless, the nation still remains divided with the state of race relations somewhat fragile and fraying.

Economically, whilst Malaysia has improved its international image and reputation and attracted new foreign investments, there are still concerns over the economy, particularly the cost of living and investor confidence.

I hope 2020 will be a better year for all Malaysians, a year of hope and reconciliation so necessary for us to be more united and harmonious.

I would like to propose that for the new year we look at the 4Cs.

Cultural divide: Let us close this divide to enhance our unity and social harmony by celebrating our cultural diversity instead of deliberating on what divides us.

Corruption: We need to instil a culture of ethics and integrity to enable us to fight corruption both in the public and private sectors. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Act’s corporate liability clause which comes into force in June 2020 can be a game changer to eradicate corruption. We must wipe out this scourge of corruption.

Class competition: The growing inequalities and divide between the rich and poor is unsustainable. More must be done to improve the earnings of the lower middle class so that they can improve their livelihood. At the same time more must be done for the bottom 20 or B20. We have talked a lot about the B40 but the B20 needs a lot more attention.

Common values and common purpose: We need to promote and enhance common values that all Malaysians can uphold and celebrate like tolerance, harmony, trust and mutual understanding. We must also have a common purpose that transcends our political divide and brings us together as a nation.

I would also like to urge the 4As of unity – acceptance, awareness, accommodation and acknowledgement. We need to maintain an equilibrium of the legitimate interests of the various communities.

Finally, I hope all Malaysians will come together to focus on the 3Es which must also be prioritised by the Government.

Economic growth: To ensure we continue to enjoy sustainable economic growth of 4%-5%.

Employment: We need to have enough jobs for our younger generation and create jobs of the future.

Environmental sustainability: We need a joint coordinated effort between government, business and civil society organisations to promote and achieve environmental sustainability so essential for future generations.

These are our common challenges going into 2020. Let us strengthen collaboration to move forward so that we can together work towards upholding the 4Ps – people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnerships for a better nation and better world.

May 2020 be a better and happier year for all of us and a year of the new 3Rs – reconciliation, renewal and racial harmony.

In 2020 we need to also keep focusing on the 3Ds – democracy, divide and digitalisation. The need to continue to strengthen democratic reforms, closing our racial and religious divides and accelerating digitalisation should move the nation forward.

Let 2020 also be the year we accelerate efforts to get rid of the 4Is – inequalities, injustices, indifference and impunity.

Let us begin a new year with new hopes. Happy New Year to all Malaysians.

Together let us unite and move forward to make 2020 the best year ever for Malaysia and Malaysians.

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, President Kingsley Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific

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Jawi, a simple education matter is threatening to morph into a serious political issue?


Dong Zong president Tan (seated second from right) with other Dong Jiao Zong leaders at a press conference on Dec 12.

CHINESE educationists and guild leaders are going to display solid unity on Dec 28 – thanks to the Education Ministry’s move to marginalise the board of directors (BOD) in vernacular schools over a Jawi teaching issue.

Dong Jong and Jiao Zong, collectively referred to as Dong Jiao Zong, have championed the cause of Chinese education since the 1950s.

This coming Saturday, heads of Dong Jiao Zong from 13 states, as well as top leaders of 30 other national Chinese associations will be congregating at Dong Jong Building in Kajang to take a stand against a set of new guidelines on the teaching of Jawi issued by the Education Ministry to non-Malay schools.

Leading Chinese groups Huazong and Hoklian have declared their support promptly.

Hua Zong president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan said Chinese guilds need to unite in opposing the government’s move.

“The position of the Chinese community on Chinese language education, especially on this subject, needs to be consistent,” he said.

The bone of contention lies in the new guidelines issued by the Education Ministry on the teaching of Jawi scripts for Standard Four pupils in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

In the guidelines issued earlier this month, the teaching of Jawi scripts will be optional. But if 51% of parents vote in favour of it in a survey conducted by Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), then schools will have to teach Jawi.

In this PTA survey and voting process, the school BOD is totally left out.

Responding to Dong Jiao Zong’s Dec 12 press conference, deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching told Bernama the ministry prioritised the opinion of the PTAs as well as the parents and students themselves.

Heng: ‘We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining the school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools.

– Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai

“We will let the PTAs make the decision because it’s about their children’s learning. Parents are the guardians, so you should get their consent if you want to do anything,” she said on Dec 13.

But to the Chinese community, the BODs are the dragon heads of schools. Hence, they cannot be sidelined in any decision-making.

In a Chinese school, BOD members – who could include businessmen, parents, alumni and trustees — are expected to donate money, raise funds and formulate policies.

As government funding for Chinese primary schools is often lacking, raising funds for development and repairs of schools often rest on the shoulders of the BOD.

Dong Jiao Zong has argued that this new guidelines not only “defies the decision made by the cabinet”, but also “goes against Article 53 of the Education Act 1996” in which authority is vested in the BOD in schools.

“By allowing the parents to have the final say on this matter, the harmonious and amicable relationship among parents and students from different races will be undermined. This will also marginalise the school board as well as PTA,” Dong Jong chairman Tan Tai Kim said in a statement last weekend.

Dong Jiao Zong’s statement also noted that in the new Bahasa Malaysia (BM) textbook for Standard Four, the appreciation of Chinese caligraphy and Tamil writing are left out.

In the past, pages on Jawi, Tamil and Chinese writings appeared in the Standard Five BM text book; and Dong Jiao Zong was happy with the multi-racial content.

The new BM text book for Standard Four contains three pages on Jawi scripts, without Chinese and Tamil writings.

“The key point to note here is: we are not anti-Jawi or anti-Malay or anti-Islam. There is no issue if students are asked to learn all cultures. But we don’t want to see the gradual Islamisation of Chinese schools and the marginalisation of BODs,” says a Chinese educationist, who declines to be named.

Due to the sensitivity of this matter which could be racially or religiously distorted, Dong Jiao Zong — the organiser of the Dec 28 meeting – has advised invited community leaders to register early.

In the latest statement on Wednesday (Dec 18), Dong Jiao Zong said to ensure the meeting could be effectual and held smoothly, no one is allowed to bring banners and other publicity materials to display slogans.

Provocation is the last thing Dong Jiao Zong wants to see, given that there are already two Malay groups challenging the constitutionality of Chinese and Tamil schools in the country.

The congress is likely to adopt a resolution urging the Jawi Scripts Learning Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education to be withdrawn, and the text book be amended to reflect multi-culturism in the country.

Apart from Dong Jiao Zong, there are other independent groups and political parties voicing similar concerns.

One group that recently sprang up is the one led by Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai, who heads the school board of SJK(C) Sentul KL.

At a recent press conference, the businessman opined the teaching of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools should be a co-curricular activity.

His group, consisting of representatives from vernacular school BODs and PTAs around Kuala Lumpur, has called for a dialogue with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

“I wish to emphasise that we are not against the teaching of Jawi in schools. We are only opposing the ministry’s decision to include it in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus, ” he told a joint press conference with an Indian group.

“We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools, ” Heng said.

With school boards being the founder and pioneer for Chinese primary schools for over 200 years, Heng said school boards always had the authority in deciding school policies.

Gerakan, a political party in the former government, last week announced its plan to appeal against an earlier high court ruling that the court has no authority to interfere with Government decision on introducing Jawi into vernacular schools.

From the education point of view, many academics – irrespective of race – do not see the need for students to learn Jawi.

They have asked: What could students learn from three pages of Jawi in a year? Is there any benefit to their future career? Shouldn’t there be more emphasis on the teaching of English, Science and Maths to prepare Malaysians to be competitive internationally?

Indeed, this current education issue is not the first to stir up an uproar this year.

The first controversy erupted several months ago when the Education Ministry attempted to introduce khat (Arabic calligraphy) into vernacular schools. This decision was later withdrawn after many quarters opposed it.

But the new set of guidelines on Jawi writing is creating another unwarranted chaos.

There is suspicion in the Chinese community that there are elements within the Education Ministry scheming to gradually change the character of Chinese schools.

This deep-rooted mistrust against the Ministry cannot be easily erased because Chinese education has often come under different forms of suppression since the 1950s.

From the political perspective, there is talk that the ruling parties are pandering to ultra Malay politics to gain Malay support.

As the controversy escalates, the DAP – a major Chinese-based party in the ruling Pakatan coalition – appears to be the one feeling the most heat.

This is because the DAP drew most of its political support from the Chinese and Indians in the last general election.

The DAP leaders in Cabinet are expected to reflect the fear and sentiment of the non-Malays to the Education Ministry and the Prime Minister on the Jawi issue.

But so far, only Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow – also a DAP national leader – has openly voiced concern over this baffling issue and said it should be resolved speedily.

If the voice of non-Malays is not taken seriously, and the government continues to ignore inclusive politics, the ruling Pakatan coalition risks being rejected by the people.

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Macao-rise with China while Hongkong in decline, why?


Chinese President Xi Jinping (front C) and his wife Peng Liyuan (behind Xi) walk on the red carpet in front of outgoing Macao Chief Executive Fernando Chui (C) and incoming chief executive Ho Iat Seng (blue tie)
after Xi and his wife’s arrival at the Macau International Airport in Macao on Wednesday, ahead of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the handover from Portugal to China. Photo: AFP :
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 The success of Macao’s “One Country, Two Systems” will “light up the path forward for Hong Kong,” said Liu Xiaoming, China’s top envoy to the UK, during a banquet at the Chinese embassy in London to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China. #HK

Macao in Transition: Witness to History / Macao in Transition: Rising Stars

HK, Macao share more differences than similarities

Hong Kong and Macao, China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) practicing the “one country, two systems” principle, share more differences than similarities, while Hong Kong’s social turbulence offers Macao a lesson, observers and analysts said.

From the former Portuguese colony to the world’s gaming hub, Macao is poised to become the richest place, overtaking Qatar with the highest per capita gross domestic product on a purchasing power parity basis by 2020. The small city, with a land area of 32.9 square kilometers, has seen its economic growth skyrocket by over 700 percent over the past two decades and become a city with high social welfare.

While Macao is embracing the 20th anniversary celebration of its return to China, it has been praised again for setting a good example of implementing the “one country, two systems” principle, especially as Hong Kong, which returned to the motherland two years before Macao, has been engulfed in months of anti-government protests.

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Macao from Wednesday to Friday to attend events marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return, he is expected to announce a series of favorable policies aimed at diversifying the city’s gaming-dependent economy into a financial center, according to media reports. And such a move is considered as a reward to Hong Kong’s neighboring city for avoiding anti-government protests, according to observers, and some suggested that promoting Macao as a new financial center could be an alternative to Hong Kong.

However, former officials and experts claimed that though the two SARs shared common ground such as a high-degree of autonomy, judicial independence and freedom of the press, they have differences in the way they handle relations with the central government and interpret the “one country, two systems” principle. Instead of simply labeling Macao a “good student” or “golden child” as the city is immune to anti-government protests spiraling next door, it should take a look at the fundamental reasons why the two cities are different from historical, cultural and social perspectives, local observers suggested.

Two SARs’ differences

As Hong Kong protesters identify themselves as Hongkongers instead of Chinese, Macao people believe that rejecting their Chinese nationality unacceptable, Wu Zhiliang, president of the Macau Foundation, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Macao people have a deep understanding of the word ‘return’,” Wu said, noting that it is not about changing the national flag, or shifting from the governor of Macao to chief executive of Macao SAR government, it is about integrating into the country’s whole governance and strategic development plans.

Opposition groups in Hong Kong consider any move of the central government as intervention that erodes its high degree of autonomy, as the central government could not take any gesture, which is a misunderstanding of the “one country, two systems” principle, and is not accepted by people in Macao.

“When Macao comes up with new policies, it always takes the country’s development plans into consideration,” Wu said.

For instance, when the central government launched an anti-corruption campaign years ago, Macao imposed restrictions on cross-border financing involving Chinese funds, although it had heavily weighed on its pillar gaming industry, local representatives said.

“Compared to Hong Kong, there is no such mentality of worshiping Western political systems and social values here in Macao, though it has always been under the mixed influence of Eastern and Western cultures, and people treat those two equally,” Wu said.

Unlike Hong Kong, which has been heavily influenced by the West, Macao has a stronger attachment to Chinese culture and values due to its “historical genes.”

In the colonial period of Macao, Portuguese control had seen its influence over local communities declining, drawing a contrast with the relatively sophisticated way British authorities took in ruling Hong Kong before handing it over to China.

“There has been no strong cultural penetration of the West in Macao society, which had not been affected by Western social value either,” Susana Chou, former president of the Legislative Assembly of Macao, told the Global Times on Tuesday. “For example, when the Hotel of Lisboa was inaugurated years ago, many people in Macao did not know where ‘Lisboa’ is. Could you image Hong Kong people not knowing where London is? ” she asked.

While Hong Kong opposition lawmakers turned debates for rolling out policies into political battles, lawmakers in Macao are not against the Constitution, nor the Basic Law and the Communist Party of China, the former president said, noting that they would come up with different ideas to help roll out better policies.

“It’s also inaccurate to say the Legislative Assembly of Macao is the SAR government’s affiliate, as we also criticize our government officials a lot. And the assembly often rejects the proposals made by the government,” Chou said, noting that the opposition is based on concrete arguments rather than disapproving everything because of its political stance.

Lesson to learn

Considering Macao’s historical ties with the mainland, there has been no room for separatism, Wu noted. “But what has happened in Hong Kong would lead us to reflect on deep-rooted questions in Macao, particularly issues concerning Macao youth,” he said.

Behind Hong Kong’s chaos lie deep-seated social problems, as the majority of arrested radical protesters who trashed the rule of law were youngsters. Although Macao is not facing the same issue, the problems with Hong Kong youth could be seen as a warning sign for the city, observers said.

“We lack a fairer and transparent mechanism for Macao young people to climb toward upper society, and also the numbers of skilled positions are limited,” Wu said, noting that the local talent policy is still protective.

“If Macao further opens up its market, could local youth become as competitive as talent from outside? And will talent inflow accelerate social conflicts and anxiety of local youth?” he asked.

While Hong Kong and Macao both share freedom of speech and an open internet, information has been circulating freely on social media and many Macao young people have been well informed about Hong Kong’s social unrest for months. When the students were asked about questions on Hong Kong police brutality, many rationally discuss the matter with teachers instead of arguing with their peers and making one-sided judgments, Wu noted.

“Young people could easily influence each other, which is inevitable. It’s up to how teachers and parents guide them,” he said.

Macao has gained a higher degree of autonomy thanks to the confidence and trust of the central government, which, observers said, creates a positive cycle.

On the contrary, if Hong Kong’s opposition groups continue to touch the redline of the central government, it might lead to reevaluation of political risks in Hong Kong by the central government and the expected political reforms could hardly make any progress in the city, observers said.

The virtuous cycle established between the central government and Macao as well as between Macao and the mainland could to some extent serve as a reference for Hong Kong, they noted.

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