company, remember, that invented the cellphone. Those days are over.
What went wrong?
AS a Penangite, I am always asked by my colleagues and friends in the Klang Valley why is it that most get-rich-quick schemes are located in the island state and the investors mostly its citizens.
I have asked that same question myself, since I’ve heard enough stories of relatives and friends who have been entangled in this web of financial crookery.
It’s not something new. It used to be called the pyramid scheme and Ponzi but, like most, it is just another scam. The new term is ‘money game’ and it’s probably called this to warn new participants that there will be winners and losers, like in any other game.
However, no one is listening because most people are merely interested in the quick returns from their investments.
There are some reasons why Penang lang (Hokkein for people) have warmed up to these quick-rich con jobs.
Penang is a predominantly Chinese state and rightly or wrongly, the appetite for risk there is higher. Some may dismiss risk as a euphemism for gambling, but the bottom line is, many of its denizens are prepared to roll the dice.
Given that there are so few police reports lodged against operators, despite the huge number of investors, indicates the readiness of these players to try their luck.
They clearly are aware of the element of risk involved when they lay their money down, but the huge returns override any rational thinking. No risk, no gain, they probably tell themselves.
Making police reports against operators also runs the risk of “investors” getting their money stuck if the accounts of the scammers are frozen.
Risk-taking is nothing new to many Penangites. This is a state with a horse-racing course and plenty of gaming outlets. Is it any surprise then that a spat is currently playing out between politicians over allegations that illegal gaming outlets are thriving there?
One politician believes the state government does not have the authority to issue gambling licences and “to single out Penang also ignores the fact that gambling is under the Federal Government’s jurisdiction. We don’t issue such licences.”
It’s bizarre because no one issues permits to illegal gaming outlets. That’s why they are called illegal.
But there are some fundamental sociological explanations to this fixation on earning extra money in the northern state.
The cost of living has gone up there … and everywhere, too. For the urban middle class, it is a monthly struggle managing the wages – after the deductions – settling the housing and car loans, and accounting for household items such as food, petrol, utility and tuition for the children.
The cost of living in Penang may be lower than that in the Klang Valley, but it is not cheap either. Any local will tell you that the portion of char koay teow has shrunk, although the price remains the same.
But unlike the Klang Valley, where career development and opportunities are greater, the same cannot be said of the island state.
Many of us who were born and brought up in Penang, moved to Kuala Lumpur because we were aware of the shortage of employment opportunities there.
We readily sacrificed so much, moving away from our parents and friends, relinquishing the relaxed way of life and the good food for a “harder” life in the Klang Valley. We paid the price for wanting a better life.
Job advancement means better salaries, but in Penang, where employers have a smaller base, they are unable to match the kind of pay packages offered in KL.
So, an extra few hundred ringgit from such investments does make a lot of difference to the average wage earner.
It is not unusual for many in the federal capital to take a second job to ensure they can balance their finances.
I don’t think many Penangites expect to be millionaires, at least not that quickly, although JJPTR has become a household acronym since hitting the market in the last two years. As most Malaysians by now know, it stands for JJ Poor-to-Rich, the name resonating well with middle class families.
Its founder, Johnson Lee, with his squeaky clean, boyish looks, assured over 400,000 people of his 20% monthly pay-outs and even more incredibly, convinced many that billions of ringgit vanished due to a hacking job.
Then came Richway Global Venture, Change Your Life (CYL) and BTC I-system, among others. And almost like clockwork, Penang has now earned the dubious reputation of being the base for get-rich-quick schemes.
Having written this article while in Penang, I found out this issue continues to be the hottest topic in town, despite the recent crackdowns by the authorities.
My colleague Tan Sin Chow recently reported in the northern edition of The Star that “money games are on the minds of many Penangites.”
On chat groups with friends and former schoolmates, it has certainly remained very much alive.
Tan wrote: “Another friend, Robert, had a jolt when, a doctor he knew, told patients to put their money into such a scheme. A doctor!
“From the cleaners at his office to the hawkers and professionals he met, everyone, it seems, was convinced. None questioned how the high returns could come to fruition in such a short time.”
We can be sure that these get-rich-quick scheme operators will lie low for a while, but the racket will surface again, in a different form and under a different name.
There is no substitute for honest, hard work. Money doesn’t fall from the sky, after all.
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.
On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
JJPTR boss and aides freed and rearrested to be handed to Penang cops – The Star Online Remand on founder and aides extended by…
After weeks of investigation, state executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi is finally brought to court to face 33 counts of graft. The land and housing scandal – one of Johor’s biggest corruption cases – is however set to widen as graft busters warn of more suspects to be charged soon.
JOHOR BARU: One of the state’s largest corruption scandals is about to get bigger as more people are expected to be hauled up to court in the coming weeks.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said they might be charged with the case involving Johor executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi either this month or next.
Among those to be charged, he said, were those who had been arrested previously.
However, he declined to reveal their names so as not to jeopardise MACC’s investigation, saying that no VIPs were involved.
“We are in the midst of completing our probe with the Deputy Public Prosecutor before charging them in court soon,” he told reporters after meeting MACC investigation director Datuk Simi Abd Ghani and Johor MACC director Datuk Azmi Alias here yesterday.
Azam said it was also possible for Abd Latif, who was jointly accused with property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud of committing 33 counts of graft yesterday, to face another round of charges then.
It was reported that eight suspects, including Abd Latiff ’s eldest son as well as his special officer, were nabbed by the MACC on Feb 24.
Anti-graft officers detained them after sifting through stacks of documents seized from the state government and developers.
They also seized luxury goods, including 21 cars such as Bentley, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, five high-powered motorcycles and 150 handbags.
On its probe into the purchase of real estate in Australia by Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd, Azam said MACC called up 24 witnesses and visited seven premises, including a law firm, the offices of both Mara Inc and an appraiser, and their associates.
“All related documents have also been seized. We have gathered more new information, and it is a continuous investigation from the previous case in 2015,” he said.
“We need more time to complete this case as it involves another country.
“We have put in a request under a mutual legal assistance with the Australian AttorneyGeneral’s office but have yet to receive any response.
“We will also prepare the documents to be sent to Australia,” he said.
MACC had previously recorded the state- ment of suspended Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa over the same investigation.
Annuar also handed over several documents relevant to the case.
The issue came to light after Australian newspaper The Age claimed that several senior Mara officials and a former politician had spent millions of Malaysian Government funds to buy an apartment block, known as Dudley International House, in Melbourne
“We expect this case to be completed within two to three weeks after we hand over the report to the deputy public prosecutor for charging.
Source:The Star headline news
JOHOR BARU: State executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi has been charged in the Sessions Court here with 33 counts of graft, the earliest of which stretches back to just six months after he assumed office.
Abd Latif, 51, was sworn in to his post as Johor Housing and Local Government Committee chairman in 2013 and according to the list of charges, he allegedly abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud on Nov 13 that same year to convert bumiputra lots into non-bumiputra lots.
Yesterday, the court interpreter took about 15 minutes to read the list of charges to each of the accused in the case, considered one of the biggest corruption scandals in the state.
In total, Abd Latif is said to have abetted Amir, 44, to convert 1,480 houses.
He is also accused of helping to reduce the quantum of payment that developers had to contribute towards the Johor Housing Fund for converting these lots.
The offences, the last of which supposedly took place on Sept 13, 2016, involved payments of between RM100,000 and RM3.7mil.
Totalling some RM30.3mil, this involved development projects in Kota Masai, Tebrau, Kulai, Kempas, Nusajaya and Johor Baru.
Among the converted lots were apartments, double-storey terrace homes, cluster houses, cluster industrial lots, semi-Ds and bungalows.
Abd Latif was charged under Section 28 (1) (c) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act for abetment, which was read together with Section 16 (a)(B) for accepting bribes.
Amir was charged with 33 counts under Section 16 (a)(B) for accepting bribes for himself and Abdul Latif.
Judge Mohd Fauzi Mohd Nasir set bail at RM2mil in one surety for each of the accused and ordered their passports to be surrendered until the trial was over. He also fixed May 23 for mention.
At press time, only Amir posted bail while Abd Latif, who was unable to raise the amount, was sent to the Ulu Choh detention centre.
Earlier, 15 minutes after Abd Latif and Amir were ushered into the packed courtroom, a defence lawyer stood up and asked for their “Lokap SPRM” orange T-shirts to be removed.
Both Abd Latif, who took time to hug and shake the hands of several people, and Amir then changed into long-sleeved shirts.
Abd Latif was represented by a six-man legal team led by Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican while two lawyers, headed by Azrul Zulkifli Stork, stood for Amir.
The case was prosecuted by MACC director Datuk Masri Mohd Daud, with assistance from Raja Amir Nasruddin.
Source: The Star by Nelson Benjamin and Norbaiti phaharoradzi
The commercialization of rocket launches will boost the industry by bringing space tourism income and attracting private investment, experts said.
ChinaRocket Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the country’s largest developer of ballistic missiles and carrier rockets, was established on Wednesday, marking the commercialization of China’s space industry, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
“Chinese commercial space enterprises are lagging behind the global market due to lack of complete production chain in the commercial space industry and experience in commercial space activities like space tourism,” Li Hong, president of the academy, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“Commercializing rocket launches will help develop the industry as many private companies will be interested in the sector,” Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Science of Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Jiao said the establishment of the company signals that State-controlled space industry is stepping into ordinary people’s daily life.
Han Qingping, president of ChinaRocket, said at the press conference that the company would focus on keeping the cost 30 percent lower than an average launch through the “standardization of the interface between satellite and rocket as well as advance preparation.”
According to Han, China will develop reusable sub-orbital vehicles in five to 10 years.
Han said the company will launch individual space travel services like “space taxi, free space ride and space shuttle bus” to promote the space economy.
According to Xinhua, ChinaRocket’s individual space travel package would cost about $200,000.
Huang Jun, a professor at the School of Aeronautic Science and Engineering at Beihang University, said that “many countries have been studying the reusability of carrier devices and aircraft, but it will take at least one to two decades before visitors can afford a space trip.”
The market value of commercial space in China would reach 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) annually by 2020, Xinhua reported, citing Hu Shengyun, a senior rocket engineer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.
By Leng Shumei Global Times
China’s cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won’t have to be reset for another 30 million years.
China’s cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won’t have to be reset for another 30 million years.
Cold atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world. Low-frequency lasers lower their internal temperatures to 273 degrees centigrade below zero, and slow down the movement of atoms inside. Slow-moving atoms decrease the likelihood of counting errors, and result in a more accurate counting of time.
“The frequency of the atom will not change. It is the same wherever it is. Unlike in mechanical clocks and electric clocks, atomic clocks aren’t drastically affected by their surrounding environment. We are going to operate the most accurate cold atomic clock in space. It is the first time ever, not only for our country, but also for the world,” Liu Liang, chief designer of Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.
Rubidium atoms count time inside China’s cold atomic clock. Atoms are usually affected by gravity, but the low level of gravity in space will weaken the earth’s gravitational pull and increase the accuracy of China’s cold atomic clock.
“Atoms usually fall because of gravity, making it difficult to keep track of time for a long time. But up in space, we don’t have that problem,” Liu said.
The launch of Tiangong-2 marks China’s transition from a follower in space research, to a pioneer. China’s cold atomic clock project is a good example of that transition.
“The initial plan was brought up in 2006. We have made great efforts over the past ten years. We have been through a lot… and we have been successful” Liu said.
It took years of scientific work to get China’s cold atomic clock into space. Researchers are now devising ways how to use the clock to benefit people down on earth.
Rendez-vous By Wang Xiaoying https://youtu.be/35B4d_3qCd0 Shenzhou-11 docks with Tiangong-2 space station …
CYBERJAYA: A 14-year-old boy loved gaming so much that he did not leave his home for half a year until his parents hauled him to therapy for Internet addiction.
This sounds like a story that happens in Japan, China or South Korea, where teenagers have died from binging on their computers. But this case happened right here in Kuala Lumpur.
At the International Society of Internet Addiction (Isia) Conference here, researchers said they were most worried that Malaysian youth were increasingly using the Internet in excess, with local studies revealing that 37% of Malaysian parents felt their children’s online life was interfering with their home and school obligations while 18% said their children were sacrificing basic social activities.
The research, led by child psychologist and Isia spokesperson Dr Norharlina Bahar, found that males under the age of 24, from the Klang Valley, Ipoh or Penang, were the most susceptible to Internet addiction in Malaysia.
“Most spend time on online games and browsing social media and there is enough evidence to show links to anxiety, depression, physical health problems, school disconnection, unemployment, decreased job productivity and social isolation,” she said.
Studies have also found frequent use of the Internet could translate to low self-esteem, depression, boredom and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.
“There is no denying that Internet eases our life but when it affects your mental health capacity and interferes with your day-to-day work, then you need help,” she added.
In the case of the young boy, Dr Norharlina said he became irritable and angry when he was cut off from the digital world by his parents as part of the treatment.
“This is becoming a bigger problem now,” she said.
The challenge for the academic community is translating their data into tangible policies, as definitions of Internet addiction are still being worked out, she added.
That is something the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is seeking to address, by adapting research on Internet addiction into guidelines that can be used by school counsellors or parents to identify addiction in adolescents, said MCMC advocacy and outreach senior director Eneng Faridah Iskandar.
“We want to know when is usage going to be a problem. When should I start regulating my child’s use of the Internet? We want to develop self-help tips that parents can use,” she said.
The conference was attended by 200 researchers and psychologists from 10 countries to present their findings on Internet wellness and discuss policies to address the effects of the digital world on users’ health.
CYBERJAYA: The Middle East, North America and Asia have the highest number of people addicted to the Internet, said Hong Kong University (HKU) Psychology. Department Associate Dean Prof. Dr Cecelia Cheng.
Dr. Cheng, who presented the findings of a HKU study on Thursday said that findings suggest that the more a country experiences traffic jams, air pollution and low life satisfaction, the more likely its citizens will be addicted to the Internet.
She added that out of 31 countries surveyed, European and South American nations had the smallest number of people addicted to the Internet.
“Basically if the life satisfaction of a country is low, the people in that country are more likely to be addicted to the Internet, particularly gaming,” she said.
Speaking at the International Society of Internet Addiction (ISIA) conference here, Dr Cheng added that there was a link between countries that have high levels of air pollution and Internet addiction.
“The study suggests that the problem of Internet addiction could be linked with the external environment that drives people indoors. Low life satisfaction also suggests that people look to the Internet for escapism when they are dissatisfied with the outside world,” she said.
Dr Cheng pointed out that less people are addicted to the Internet in Europe because pollution and crime rates are generally lower.
“In Europe, and people there can afford to engage in more outdoor activities than those in the Middle East and Asia,” she said.
She added that improving the quality of environmental conditions might encourage residents to engage more in outdoor activities rather than relying solely on browsing the Internet at home for stress relief.
Malaysia was not surveyed in the HKU study, but local authorities suggested that Internet addiction was a rising trend here too.
According to the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), 50.4% of children already have a smartphone by the age of 12 and Malaysians have a 100.4% penetration rate for Internet connectivity and a 143% penetration rate for cellular use.
An ISIA study led by Dr Norharlina Bahar also found that the prevalence of problematic Internet users in Malaysia could be as high as 49.2%, with people spending at least five-hours in front of screens daily.
In last year’s World Happiness Index which measures a country’s general wellbeing, Malaysia ranked 61 out of 161 countries, behind Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
By Nicholas Cheng The Star/ANN
It was a case of chin up, chest out at the recently concluded CIFIT in Xiamen, with the doors swung wide open to foreign sophisticated industries and its private industries poised to venture out.
China’s economic growth may be slowing down after three decades of high growth, but the 19th China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) held at Xiamen from Sept 8 to 11 showcased a “new China” that is confidently restructuring its economy in response to global challenges.
CIFIT 2016 themed “New Concept, New Development: Towards a new world of open economy” clearly signified China’s readiness to embrace reforms, after it has sailed through the exciting period of opening up in the 1980s-1990s, and the 2008 crisis that hit its industries badly.
A new China will discard China-made cheap and low-quality industrial products, and counterfeits – rampant at the beginning of the opening-up and even to this day, but will want to see quality enterprises that can compete internationally with high-end goods and services, such as those provided by Huawei, Lenovo and Haier.
The financial crisis of 2008 and China’s disappearing demographic advantage, as well as external trade friction, have forced industries and the economy to go for structural changes. Slower economic growth backed by quality investments is to be the new norm.
In fact, emerging industries that focus on quality and technology have gradually replaced traditional industries and become a driving force in economic development. Mobile phones, computers, household electrical appliances, machinery and equipment, property development and rail technology, among others, have gone global.
And the ‘One Belt, One Road’ economic initiative expounded by President Xi Jinping three years ago is offering unprecedented opportunities to companies within the mainland to go global and have a say in the world.
While structural changes are taking place at local enterprises, China is opening up further to usher in more high-tech and high-value foreign brands to stimulate its economic development to a higher plane. This could be discerned from its Government’s policy.
At the main CIFIT forum in Xiamen on Sept 8, vice-premier Wang Yang announced in his opening speech: “From Oct 1, we will grant equal and fair treatment to all local and foreign companies incorporated in China. Our Chinese companies will have to compete with foreign-owned companies on level playing fields in China.”
This is the “new China” exhibited at the four-day CIFIT, touted to be the largest investment fair in the world, where its products and services were displayed alongside leading products from over 50 countries at 6,000 booths.
CIFIT 2016 was organised by the central government almost immediately after China successfully hosted the G20 Summit from Sept 3 to 5 in picturesque Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, with grandeur.
The world’s second-largest economy had been hailed by world leaders for its determination to boldly tackle a number of global issues, including the economy, environment, corruption and poverty.
In fact, China has the basis to be confident.
Despite weak international conditions, flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country – albeit slower – still ranks the highest in the world so far this year, according to Wang Yang.
According to Dr Huang Chenhong, president of Dell Greater China, Dell’s headquarters in the US has committed to investing an additional US$125bil (RM517bil) in China and has pledged to contribute US$175bil (RM724bil) worth of total trade as well as bring in venture capitalists.
Huang told a CEO Summit on Sept 7 ahead of CIFIT: “All this shows that Dell continues to view China’s market positively, and will deepen our root here.”
Malaysia’s Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, who was a guest of honour at CIFIT’s official opening ceremony, made this observation to Sunday Star in Xiamen:
“China has evolved. It is a much, much more confident nation now. It is ready to welcome foreign sophisticated industries to promote economic development to a higher plane, and at the same time its private industries are now prepared to venture out.”
Several years ago, only state-owned enterprises and financially-strong conglomerates were ready to expand overseas, he observed.
Citing the example of Kibing Group – China’s largest and highly automated float-glass manufacturer, Ong said this privately-owned listed company is now riding on the wave of the Belt and Road Initiative to expand its manufacturing in Malaysia, research and development in Taiwan and marketing arm in Singapore.
He also noted that while China has not signed free trade agreements with many countries, trade barriers would have to be broken down once China builds rail and other communication systems in all the 65 countries along the Belt-Road route to improve connectivity.
“While it takes 40 to 45 days to ship goods from Spain to China, it only takes a train journey of 16 days for freight from Madrid to be transported to the wholesale market in Yiwu.
“This is the power of the 21st Century Silk Road rail service under the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
On Dec 10, 2014, China and Spain was linked by the longest rail link in the world after a train from Yiwu in coastal China completed its maiden journey of 13,053km to Madrid. En route it passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before arriving at the Abroñigal freight terminal in Madrid.
Together, the Belt and Road Initiative route covers 65 countries populated by 4.4 billion people. It has been projected that infrastructure development alone will bring in investment of US$160bil (about RM662bil) and China’s annual trade volume with Belt-Road countries will exceed US$2.5 trillion (RM10.3 trillion) in a decade or so.
The Belt-Road strategy could have as much impact on China’s internal economy as it will have internationally. One of China’s top priorities is to export industries with major overcapacity such as steel, cement and aluminium.
Datuk Ter Leong Yap, president of Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), told Sunday Star in Xiamen: “From the three CIFITs we have participated in, we can sense that China is not only ushering in high-tech, high-value foreign investments now, but it is also encouraging its companies to go global vigorously.”
“As it has economies of scale, it is prepared to buy foreign technology and R&D (research and development) to expedite its current economic transformation.”
He noted China has gone far ahead in the development of Internet services such as e-commerce, e-trade and e-logistics; and its home-grown IT giants led by Alibaba Group and Tencent are leading the IT revolution in the world.
China is seen as building infrastructure in the Belt-Road countries now. Following this, or concurrently, is the influx of investments from its reputable high-tech and high-value industries, observed Ter.
According to Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, emerging industries that are classifed as “new China-made” are IT industry represented by Huawei, machine building sector represented by XCMG and Sany Heavy Industry, space flight and aviation, as well as bullet train and high-speed rail industries. These industries boast high technology, patents, independent innovation and top talents in the world.
“The new China-made goods not only enter into Asian and African markets, but more importantly also enter into high-end European and American markets,” Wei said in an interview with Economy and Nation Weekly.
While in many sectors China has gained global recognition, Wei noted the country is still falling behind in automobile and chips as it lacks leading enterprises and high-tech talents in these industries.
It is learnt that Chinese auto firms are now on the lookout to take over foreign car manufacturers that are armed with special technology, after the acquisition of Volvo Cars in 2010 proved highly successful in technology innovation and marketing.
Wei opined that in the next 30 to 50 years, the Belt and Road Initiative will be the way forward for successful Chinese enterprises to enter the global market for a win-win co-operation as China’s Government develops strategies with foreign nations.
According to official data, China’s direct investments in Belt-Road nations – including Malaysia – hit US$14.8bil (RM61bil) in 2015, up 18.2% from 2014.
In the first quarter of 2016, direct investments to Belt-Road countries totalled US$3.6bil (RM14.8bil), a rise of 40% compared to the first quarter of 2015. Most of these investments had gone to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.
Ranked by Peking University as “the least investment risk” among the Belt-Road countries, Singapore is ahead of its Asean neighbours in grabbing opportunities: It has already signed with Chinese-funded banks to bring in financing worth over S$90bil (RM270bil) to finance projects for high-speed rail, ports and the communication industry in South-East Asia.
“The Belt-Road vision is that government sectors and enterprises should not seek quick success and instant profits, but should create long-term effects, benefit local enterprises, people and countries, and make China be seen to be a reliable partner,” said Wei.
Sources: Ho Wah Foon The Star/Asia News Network