North Korea: launched a long-range rocket, cannot repeat China’s nuclear weapons path

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday morning. Pyongyang authorities said they had successfully launched the Kwangmyongsong-4 earth observation satellite, while the US, South Korea and Japan considered the launch to be a long-range missile test.

Pyongyang has made progress in long-range rocket and missile technology, but it is far from mastering mature long-range missile system and building a strategic deterrence. North Korea hopes it can effectively threaten the US homeland, but it views the matter too simply. Washington regards Pyongyang’s rocket launch as “severe provocation.” The majority of the international community doesn’t believe that in the foreseeable future, Pyongyang can miniaturize warheads and have the long-range nuclear strike ability to coerce Asia-Pacific countries and the US.

Long-range missile technology is similar to rocket technology, but there are differences. The deterrence of long-range missiles using liquid propellant is limited due to their restrained mobility and slow response times. According to analysis from the US and South Korean side, Pyongyang’s liquid propellant is backward and unreliable. North Korea has no successful record in long-range missile launch. As long as the Kwangmyongsong-4 enters the target orbit, it can be considered successful. But after all, the launch of a rocket and a missile is different.

Long-range missiles need a huge supportive system, for instance, the ability to measure flight attitude, orbit accuracy and landing location, but Pyongyang doesn’t have any of this. Washington and Seoul believe that North Korea has a rather limited missile testing ability. With the missile and rocket launched by the North landing in the ocean with little possibility of it being retrieved, it is extremely difficult for Pyongyang to collect the test data. Its industry is also not able to manufacture all the materials necessary for developing long-range missile and nuclear bomb.

Some believe Pyongyang’s research into nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is similar to China’s atomic and hydrogen bomb development in the 1960s. Since China succeeded, so will North Korea.

This is a serious misreading. China faced a different environment than North Korea today in developing nuclear weapons. It was before the Non-Proliferation Treaty was adopted in 1968. Plus, China has a vast territory, and has nuclear test sites in the desert, while North Korea’s limited space makes this impossible.

China’s strategic deterrent power of nuclear bomb and missile, limited at the beginning, were enhanced as science and technology improved in the country. It has become even more credible with the mobility of land-based ICBMs and the upgrading of sea-based missile launching system.

Pyongyang is at the stage of developing nuclear equipment and long-range rockets, which however has developed far from the reality of the country’s technology and economic development. So far, it is hard to tell whether it brings more strategic security or strategic harm to Pyongyang.

How far can Pyongyang’s nuclear bomb and missile develop? It is not up to the political determination of Pyongyang, since it involves complicated geopolitical forces which North Korea can hardly harness. Pyongyang must think carefully how to extricate itself from the increasingly grave situation. – Global Times


Discussion of THAAD deployment is shortsighted move of Seoul and Washington

However, China’s determination to safeguard its national security should be clearly shown, so that the other stakeholders will have to think carefully before they make any decision that might challenge China’s position.

China will “by no means allow war on the Korean Peninsula” a foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday, stressing Beijing was deeply concerned over Pyongyang’s announced plan to launch a satellite later this month, only weeks after it tested a nuclear bomb in defiance of international sanction

Journey To The West: More Monkey business; Monkey do, Monkey don’t


 No, I don’t have a daughter for you to marry and we’re not going on a road trip to hand out wedding invitations. this isn’t that kind of Journey.’- Photos: GSC Movies

Journey To The West gets a slightly Westernised treatment this time around, and turns out better than the first movie.

The Monkey King 2 Director: Soi Cheang Cast: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, William Feng, Xiao Shenyang, Chung Him Law, Kelly Chen

CGI- heavy blockbusters from China, Hong Kong, India, or any other Asian countries for that matter – except for maybe Japan and South Korea – have always been hit- and- miss affairs.

Despite scoring US$ 168mil in China alone, there’s no denying that 2014’ s The Monkey King was plagued by cheap- looking and even just plain bad CGI and visual effects, not to mention a slapdash narrative that barely made sense despite being based on something as familiar as Wu Cheng’en’s classic novel Journey To The West.

Returning to the director’s seat for this sequel, up- and- coming genre whiz Soi Cheang ( of cult hits like Motorway, Accident and Dog Bite Dog) again directs this one without any of the cool edge and personality that made him so beloved by Hong Kong genre fans across the globe, but makes amends for the many sins of The Monkey King.

Probably because The Monkey King 2 concentrates on the more familiar chapters in Journey To The West, scriptwriters Ran Ping, Ran Jianan, Elvis Man and Yin Yiyi have kept things simple, linear and relatable, concentrating on the push and pull between the personalities of main characters Sun Wukong, aka the Monkey King ( Aaron Kwok, taking over from Donnie Yen) and young monk Xuanzang ( William Feng), to generate drama and emotion.

After 500 years of imprisonment beneath Five Element Mountain, Wukong is accidentally freed by Xuanzang and is then tasked by the Goddess Guanyin ( Kelly Chen) to escort the monk on his journey West to retrieve some ancient sutras.

The impetuous, impulsive Wukong and calm, benevolent Xuanzang’s contrasting personalities are severely tested when Wukong’s “kill first, ask questions later” approach and Xuanzang’s “enlighten instead of killing” philosophy clash almost every step of the way as they meet all kinds of demons, dangers and challenges.

Also joining them on their journey are Wujing ( Chung Him Law) and the gluttonous, horny halfman/ half- pig Baije ( Xiao Shenyang). Because this sequel is obviously set on Earth instead of the heavenly settings of the first movie, the use of real locations here helps immeasurably in making the CGI and VFX look much better and more believable.

There’s even an obvious attempt to make the fantastical imagery slightly less Chinese and more Western- friendly, with one of the kingdoms they visit looking more like something out of The Lord Of The Rings or Game Of Thrones rather than Legend Of Zu.

This is even more apparent in their approach to the villain of the piece, the White Bone Spirit Baigujing, played by a radiant and show- stealing Gong Li, whose outfits and character design will no doubt evoke memories of Angelina Jolie in Maleficent and Charlize Theron in Snow White & The Huntsman. Even her back story echoes that of Maleficent, in which an innocent young woman is driven to evil because of others’ wrongdoings.

Soi Cheang even gets the humour right this time, thanks to the absurd combination of Aaron Kwok’s slightly more macho approach to playing Wukong and the general monkey business that monkeys get up to, not to mention Baije’s antics whenever he comes across women and food ( yes, in that order).

Ultimately though, these are still very minor updates to a story that’s been told countless times, and it certainly doesn’t come anywhere near the bold approach of crowd favorites like Jeff Lau’s A Chinese Odyssey movies or even last year’s animated hit The Monkey King: Hero Is Back.

But as a Chinese New Year holiday blockbuster to bring the whole family to, it’s done more than well enough to do even better at the box- office than The Monkey King. It is, after all, the better movie, and definitely an entertaining and enthusiastic enough welcome to the Year of the Monkey. Review by Aidil Rusli The Star/Asia News Network

The ‘Monkey Do, Monkey Don’t



Talk about ‘Planet of the Apes’

“What got you here won’t get you there.” – Marshall Goldsmith

Someone once said, “I love people, I really do, it is just their behaviour that I cannot stand.” When it comes down to what really frustrates organisation leaders, it is not the lack of skills or knowledge of their employees. Rather it is a shortfall of desired behaviours.

As we usher in the Chinese Lunar New Year, it is a timely reminder that new results and new performance expectations cannot be achieved with the old behaviours of yesteryears. BAU (Behaviours As Usual) cannot be an acceptable leadership culture if the organisation desires to move collectively towards the place of sustainable high performance.

Upon the threshold of any fiscal year, company leaders are usually abuzz about the strategies going forward and are eager to witness a transformation in results and key performance indicators.

Yet, we all instinctively know that a well-written proposal and a persuasively-designed PowerPoint presentation cannot guarantee the delivery of results. Here is one often-neglected truth about performance – culture produces results.

Here’s one simple diagnostic question to ascertain if behavioural issues are holding your organisation back from achieving the intended key results: If everyone in your organisation continues to think and act in the same manner as they do today, can they achieve the expected results in the stated timeframe?

If the answer is a resounding “No”, then your organisation would need to embark on a cultural design initiative to determine the right cultural standard for achieving the right results. Companies with a thriving business do not leave their culture to chance, rather culture is intentionally designed and delivered.

Left on its own, the culture tends to degrade to a situation of territorialism whereby specific individuals create their own brand of sub-culture – their own monkey kingdoms.

How then do we address this monkey culture and rally the behavioural changes towards a common vision?

Behaviour is caught, not taught

It is what you do when no one is looking that determines the worth of your contribution

It is interesting that the most common feedback I receive at the end of each behavioural-related training workshop is this, “Is my boss attending the same training as well?”

This highlights our human need for a moral reference when it comes to the motivation for changing our own personal behaviours and attitude.

Here are five common mistakes made by organisation leaders when they are too quick to implement strategic plans without giving thought to the foundational need for behavioural alignment.

Communicating the results without clarifying the overall vision of the company.

Growing the numbers without a specific plan to grow the employees.

Non-performers are still rewarded – sending an inconsistent signal to those who do perform.

Sending employees for training without involving the direct supervisors.

The performance appraisal criteria do not reflect the desired behaviours.

Behaviour requires a moral standard

Everything is not relative

When it comes to behaviour, one cannot assume that people, by default, would know what to do.

In fact, when left on our own, our behaviour tends to degrade towards the fulfilment of selfish agendas, not that of the common good.

I recall facilitating a visioning workshop where almost everyone in the room had their own interpretation of the company’s values, and it was a challenge coming to a consensus. It was not until we were crystal clear with the expectations of the group chief executive officer that there was a decision on the way moving forward.

In other words, we needed to first establish the true north as the absolute by which all other behaviours are measured against. Without a fixed reference, behaviours are just personal preferences leading to territorial mindset.

Here are three questions to ask when communicating behavioural expectations:

  1. Are the recognition practices consistent with the behaviours we want to promote?
  2. Are the leaders aware of their own behaviour and seen to be walking the talk?
  3. Are managers trained in the skill of having accountability conversations when there are misbehaviour and attitude issues?

Behaviour reinforces values

A child is known by his actions, not his intentions.

Many organisations are too hung up about corporate values until it becomes a copywriting debate.

The fact of the matter is that corporate values are there as a directional guide while a more
specific delivery guide requires something more observable.

Here is where we need an executable concept called key behaviours. Key behaviours are personal accountability statements that are communicated as behavioural expectations for every employee.

In Leaderonomics, we have five key behaviours which operationalise our core values:

  • Be Accountable: “I take personal ownership to deliver on all expectations entrusted to me.”
  • Be Excellent: “I accept challenges and exceed expectations in all that I do.”
  • Be Synergistic: “I actively seek out and lead collaborative opportunities.”
  • Be Courageous: “I am open to honest and authentic conversations.”
  • Be Agile: “I find opportunity in all circumstances and will adapt myself to thrive in them.”

Does your company have a set of key behaviours which are non-negotiable accountability statements for every employee?

Just propagating core values alone is insufficient to set the tone for real change that will impact productivity, profits and people. If your corporate values are just statements on the walls with little behavioural clarity, then do not be surprised if the culture does not reflect the aspiration.

Monkeys vs donkeys

In social experiments, monkeys have been shown to display mob mentality behaviours i.e. they will all do what is the social norm, but it requires a few brave ones to set the tone and then have it reinforced through a series of risk-and-reward responses.

Now, when it comes to setting the cultural tone of an organisation, we can also take a cue from this observation in that we need a few courageous ones to set the tone and make a stand as to what is expected from everyone else – in other words, change begins with courageous leadership.

The other option is to go the way of the donkey which makes a lot of noise but refuses to budge due to stubbornness. In this year of the monkey, let’s not go down the path of the donkey.


Joseph Tan is CEO of Leaderonomics Good Monday. His passion is to work with performance-focused leaders to capture the hearts and minds of their employees through a strengths-based and accountability-driven approach. Much of what is shared in the article above comes from his work as a Gallup-certified strengths coach. If you would like to enhance the engagement level of your organisation, email for more details. For more Be A Leader articles, click here.

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Hills clearing in Penang: NGOs not impressed with mitigation work at Botak Hill

An aerial shot taken from the bald patch on Bukit Relau, George Town, during a visit by the state delegation and NGOs to check on the mitigation work. — Photos: CHARLES MARIASOOSAY.

Chow (left) being briefed by technical consultant Khoo Koon Tai during the visit up Bukit Relau.

THE climb up the steep track on Bukit Relau is an arduous one. And there is little reward now for those who endure the climb.

The infamous Botak Hill seems to be getting balder. It’s a sad sight. What was once a lush hill had become a wide open patch of brown. Now, it is a giant scar of boulder, sand and concrete. The developer General Accomplish-ment Sdn Bhd is carrying out mitigation work which it says will be completed in June this year. For now, however, the hill looks worse than it did before.

The trip up the hill was arranged by the state and led by Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow. Others in the entourage included Deputy Chief Minister 1, Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, executive councillors, state assemblyman, Penang Forum and Malaysia Nature Society, Penang.

It was no surprise that the NGO members were not impressed with the mitigation work. The condition of the hill has deteriorated so badly. The only greenery in sight were patches of grass on the boulders.

The NGOs are even more upset that with less than six months before the mitigation work is completed, there seems to be no plan in place to halt the erosion of the hill or to carry out restoration work, which will have to include replanting of trees, the undergrowth and comprehensive hydroseeding.

Roads and drainage systems built right down the hill have destroyed whatever greenery there was. The explanation given was that the roads were needed for the mitigation work rings hollow. “How can you carry out mitigation work and clear more land for the so called roads for mitigation work,” asked a Penang Forum member.

There are metal poles bordering a part of the hill, and it look like some hoarding is about to come up. Is there any development being planned for the spot of the hill?

A spokesman for the developer, General Accomplishment Sdn Bhd said RM20mil has been spent so far for the mitigation work and the amount could rise to RM50mil.

“Why would you want to spend RM50mil for mitigation work if you are not going to do anything with the land,” asked a reporter.

“Well, we are open to development of the land if that is what the people want,” replied the project manager for the developer.

Chow was non-committal when asked if the state would reject any development on the land saying it was a “hypothetical” question as there wasn’t any application (to develop the land).

Despite the long explanation, the burning question remains.

Will the hill be restored to its old state and or is the mitigation work just the start of plans to develop the hill for housing.

It was rezoned for housing in 2012.

By K. Sekaran The Star

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We don’t need billionaire philanthropists, we need change !

Society needs people who adopt business models that can enrich ordinary people’s lives and free them from a life bound by servitude and dependency.

These days we praise charitable donations and philanthropy; however, we must understand that they are the symptoms of a dysfunctional society, not the remedy.

It’s similar to the Red Cross during wartime; they can’t stop the war. In many ways, they propagate the dysfunctions because the biggest funders of these temporary resolutions are also the greatest oppressors of our society, from whom these dysfunctions stem.

There are, for example, many people suffering around the world from curable diseases simply because they don’t have access to proper medical assistance. Why do they have no access? Because they are too poor.

That is to say, this problem is derived from the massive income inequality around the world. If they could earn a sufficient living on their own, they wouldn’t need any charitable aid from developed nations. They don’t need rich philanthropists giving them millions of dollars. What they need is rich philanthropists to stop hoarding money and allow them to make a sustainable living.

Let’s look at Bill Gates, who was simply driven to make as much money as possible at any cost. Along the way, he has smothered many smaller companies, copied others’ ideas, and snuffed out many innovative competing products. Yet, all is forgiven and forgotten because now he donates a lot of money.

It is exactly this type of thinking that breeds income inequality around the world, which leads to people dying from poverty, and thus preserves the need for these billionaire philanthropists to remedy the situation.

Another exemplary indication of this problem is Lance Armstrong. He cheated to further his career and eventually got caught. Yet, today he is still a millionaire and is respected by millions of people: 3.8 million followers on Twitter to be exact. Why? Because he is a philanthropist who donated lots of money to cancer charities. None of this would have happened had he not cheated, but people forgive and forget. In our society, winners prosper no matter the means, as long as they become philanthropists in the end.

Take a moment to think of the other cyclists who didn’t allow themselves to cheat. Where are they now? Can you name them? Are they rich and famous?

To address the real origin of the problem, we need to change the way we go about earning and spending money at the very basic level. Instead of being driven to become philanthropists, treat people around you without greed and with consideration. Make your living and enable others around you to do so as well. If you aim to save money in order to be a philanthropist, you provoke everyone to be protective and hoard money also in order to control how the money gets spent. The more everyone does it, the more we are compelled and even forced to do it. We need to stop this vicious circle.

The resolution I’m putting forward is not a utopian concept. We simply need more people investigating and adopting business models that can enrich ordinary people’s lives, which can free us from a life bound by servitude and dependency.

In turn, this would empower us to solve our societal problems without asking such billionaires to solve them for us with their accumulated wealth. Nowadays I’m starting to see more and more entrepreneurs and business owners trying to figure this out, and it is quite inspiring. I think the real change derives from the ordinary things we do.

If this type of mission is to succeed and be sustained, the principal function of business must be ordinary. It is impossible for a sustainable economy to remain healthy and upright if it is only supported by the crutch of charitable donations and philanthropy.

The principal drive to better our society must come from ordinary businesses.

Hero-worshipping rich benefactors and philanthropists encourages everyone to accumulate more wealth than they need. We do not need billionaire philanthropists; we need ordinary business owners who treat other humans with respect and encouragement.

They are not rare or even uncommon; they exist all around us if we look carefully enough. It’s just that we are so busy looking up to iconic figures like the Bill Gateses of the world that we can’t see them.

By Justin Hiraga

/  Asia News Network

Justin Hiraga is an assistant professor at the Department of International Business Languages of Seokyeong University in Seoul. He can be contacted at –Ed.


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AIIB attracts nations from East, West, its fate connects to Chinese economy


AIIB’s fate connects to Chinese economy

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) officially opened for business on Saturday. In the past two years or so, the bank has been a subject of heated discussion as a symbol of change in the world order. However, its significance hinges on a number of factors in future, rather than the founding itself.

There are many advantages in terms of the bank’s operation and management. Infrastructure construction in Asia, which the AIIB is centered on, is virgin territory that has huge potential to be tapped. There is ample scope for the bank to find its role.

With 57 countries as founding members, the starting point of the bank is high. Besides, China as the initiator has abundant capabilities of infrastructure construction, and its experience is applicable to developing countries.

Nonetheless, disadvantages also exist, among which the biggest is the adverse attitude of the US over the bank. It will be more costly for the AIIB to overcome problems than for the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank at critical moments. Therefore, the AIIB must be operated with superb management, leaving no room for any opponents.

The further development of the Chinese economy will provide indispensible strategic support for the AIIB to increase its heft.

The reason why the AIIB could be founded, despite obstructions from the US and Japan, is that the growth of the Chinese economy has shored up the confidence of the participants.

Since its founding, the AIIB has been connecting its destiny to the Chinese economy. The confidence the world has in the Chinese economy will be projected onto the AIIB.

The AIIB touches a nerve of major global powers of the US and Japan. Its inclusive nature enables its smooth start. China has its own interests, but it cannot put its interests above those of the other countries. We should avoid a zero-sum situation, but integrate Chinese interests with others’, and make achieving a win-win result a goal rather than a slogan.

With the changing times, China can’t expand its power through coercion. It must integrate into the world system and develop in a way that is acceptable to the majority of the world’s states.

The AIIB represents China’s taking of global responsibilities as a big power. The US, as the world No.1, can capriciously vandalize the rules it makes at some critical moments. But China cannot do so. It has to be well-disciplined in serving the world so as to be recognized and accepted as a rising power in the world. – Global Times

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  Xi pushes for ‘perfection of the system

BEIJING: China has pledged US$50mil (RM221.25mil) to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to support infrastructure projects in less developed countries.

Launching the China-led bank here yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said this proved China’s willingness to shoulder more international responsibility and “push for the perfection of the international system”.

“This is a historic moment,” he added.

With an authorised capital of US$100bil, AIIB was proposed as a global multilateral financial institution by Xi in 2013 to finance infrastructure development in Asia, including energy/power, transportation/telecommunications, rural infrastructure/agriculture development, and water supply/sanitation.

Representatives from 57 founding members, including Malaysia, attended the ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

Malaysia, which holds 0.11% share and 0.36% of voting share in AIIB, was represented by Treasury deputy secretary-general Datuk Mohd Isa Hussain.

The three largest shareholders of AIIB are China, India and Russia, with a 30.34%, 8.52% and 6.66% stake respectively.

Each allocation is based on the size of the member country’s economy.

The bank, based here, is largely seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank and Interna­tional Monetary Fund.

The United States and Japan have shunned the AIIB while US allies – including Britain, France and Germany – have signed up as founding members.

AIIB president Jin Liqun promised to run AIIB as an organisation that is “lean, clean and green”.

“The bank will make a positive and significant difference in Asian development,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the non-regional founding members, Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said the fact that the idea to form AIIB came from the east was a testament to the rebalancing of the world’s economy.

“Without basic infrastructure, markets cannot function well and growth is limited. AIIB will be a boost to the Asian economy, and become a platform for cooperation that will foster economic integration and inter-regional connectivity,” he said.

By Tho Xin Yi The Star/Asia News Network

AIIB opens to lay down milestone for global economic governance

BEIJING, Jan. 16, 2016 (Xinhua) — Chinese PresidentXi Jinpingaddresses the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 16, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-initiated multilateral bank, started operational on Saturday, marking a milestone in the reform of global economic governance system.

Representatives of the 57 founding countries gathered in Beijing for the AIIB opening ceremony in Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Chinese President Xi Jinping made a speech.

With joint efforts of all the members, the AIIB will become “a professional, efficient and clean development bank for the 21st century” and “a new platform to help foster a community of shared future for mankind, to make new contribution to prosperity of Asia and beyond and lend new strength to improvement of global economic governance,” Xi said.

During the ceremony, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei was announced to be elected as the first chairman of the AIIB board of governors. Jin Liqun was elected the first AIIB president.

In addition to subscribing capital according to plan, China vowed to contribute 50 million U.S. dollars to the project preparation special fund to be established soon, to support the preparation for infrastructure development projects in less developed member states.

The AIIB will promote infrastructure related investment and financing for the benefit of all sides, Xi said, keeping Asia’s enormous infrastructure development demand in mind.

Calling the initiative to establish the AIIB “a constructive move,” Xi said it will enable China “to undertake more international obligations, promote improvement of the current international economic system and provide more international public goods.”

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that between 2010 and 2020, around eight trillion U.S. dollars in investment will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region to improve infrastructure.

Xi expected the China-initiated institution and other existing multilateral development banks to complement each other for mutual strength and cooperate on joint financing, knowledge sharing and capacity building.

In his address at the founding conference of the AIIB council on Saturday afternoon, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the operation of the new multinational development bank is “of positive and constructive significance for the global economic governance reform.”

Hailing Asia “an engine” for the global economic growth, Li said the sustainable development of the Asian economy and regional economic integration rely on the infrastructure construction and connectivity, which would help facilitate the flow of trade, investment, personnel and information.

The aim of China initiating the AIIB is to widen financing channels, expand general needs and improve supply so as to bring along the common development in the region and promote world economic recovery with its own achievements, he said.

The premier called on the AIIB to integrate the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative with each country’s development strategies, promote international cooperation on production capacity and innovate more modes to realize a diverse and inclusive cooperation.

Global leaders extended congratulations to the opening of the multilateral development bank.

“The ADB will cooperate closely with AIIB in supporting the development of the Asia Pacific region,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao in a congratulatory message to the opening of the AIIB.

“We will cooperate closely to provide support and constructive suggestions for the AIIB development,” said Yoo Il-ho, deputy prime minister of the Republic of Korea at the opening ceremony.

China’s Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said in an interview with Xinhua that China does not intend to apply for financial support from AIIB in the initial stage.

“Though as the biggest shareholder of AIIB and the biggest developing country in the world, China is fully qualified to gain loans from the AIIB, but we made the decision mainly because that many other countries in the region are in more urgent need for infrastructure development,” said Shi.

Shi said China holds 30.34 percent of the whole capital stock, with the first batch of capital stock worth 1.19 billion U.S. dollars already in place.

The AIIB was proposed by President Xi Jinping in October 2013. Two years later, the bank was formally established as the Articles of Agreement took effect on Dec. 25 last year.

As its name suggests, the AIIB will finance construction of infrastructures — airports, mobile phone towers, railways and roads — in Asia.

Amid the evolving trend of the global economic landscape, Xi expected the AIIB will help make the global economic governance system more just, equitable and effective. – Xinhuanet


AIIB will be a clean, lean and green bank, says first president

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be a 21st-century multilateral lender with rigorous corporate culture, says Jin Liqun.

 BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — The newly-inaugurated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will bring vitality to regional growth and opportunities for global development, especially for developing economies, overseas experts and scholars have observed.Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday attended the opening ceremony for the international development bank in Beijing.Full Story

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School grades don’t matter much?

Accounting firms PwC and EY start a trend in recruitment to help business and society

Big Four

WE all know that good grades in school won’t necessarily land you that first job. They do however go a long way towards convincing a potential employer that you’re likely to perform well if hired. That’s why you’re routinely asked to produce certificates and transcripts during the application process. How else can the employer get a quick reading on the discipline, intelligence, diligence and knowledge of a school-leaver or a fresh graduate?

But what if an employer decides that your grades shouldn’t matter as much? How will that change things?

For the answer to that, we ought to be watching the Big Four accounting firms in Britain.

Starting in June last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) stopped using the UCAS tariff as an entry criterion for most of its undergraduate and graduate recruitment schemes. Developed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the tariff is the British system for allocating points to those seeking undergraduate placements.

The system applies to a long list of entry qualifications — for example, A levels, City & Guilds diplomas, and music examinations — and the points for each qualification are worked out based on the levels of achievement.

Before this, a person usually must have a minimum number of UCAS points before PwC would consider his job application, even if he’s a graduate. This is apparently a common practice in Britain. With the policy change, the accounting firm can now overlook mediocre A-level results if the candidate has gone on to soar in his degree programme.

PwC says the reduced emphasis on UCAS points is because it’s important to be a progressive and socially inclusive employer, and because it wants to reach the broadest range of talented students.

“There’s strong correlation that exists in Britain between social class and school academic performance. This data suggests that by placing too much emphasis on UCAS scores, employers could miss out on key talent from disadvantaged backgrounds, because they may perform less well at school. That’s why, from an academic perspective, we’re focusing on your degree,” it explains on its website.

And then in August, Ernst & Young (EY) announced that it would remove academic qualifications from the entry criteria for its 2016 graduate, undergraduate and school-leaver programmes. Instead of insisting on certain standards for UCAS points and degree classification, the firm relies on “a new and enhanced suite of online “strengths” assessments and numerical tests to assess the potential of applicants”.

In other words, EY recruits by evaluating the candidates’ strengths and promise, not just their past performance.

This decision came after talent management firm Capp had studied EY’s student selection process over 18 months. The analysis found that EY’s strengths-based approach in recruitment, introduced in 2008, is a robust and reliable indicator of a candidate’s potential to succeed in his role in EY.

“At EY, we are modernising the workplace, challenging traditional thinking and ways of doing things. Transforming our recruitment process will open up opportunities for talented individuals regardless of their background and provide greater access to the profession,” says Maggie Stilwell, the managing partner for talent.

“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.”

“Our own internal research of over 400 graduates found that screening students based on academic performance alone was too blunt an approach to recruitment. It found no evidence to conclude that previous success in higher education correlated with future success in subsequent professional qualifications undertaken.”

It’s interesting that Stillwell describes an overriding dependence on academic qualifications as a blunt approach. Stephen Isherwood, the chief executive of Britain’s Association of Graduate Recruiters, has a similar view. The PwC press release on the firm’s move to drop the UCAS points entry criteria, quotes Isherwood: “Using a candidate’s UCAS points to assess his potential is a blunt tool and a barrier to social mobility. This is an innovative step by one of the most significant graduate recruiters in Britain. Other graduate employers should follow its lead.”

PwC definitely sees itself as a trendsetter, saying its new recruitment assessment process could drive radical change across its industry. However, these radical changes haven’t happened yet. So far, Deloitte and KPMG, the other two firms in the Big Four, are still sticking to their minimum academic requirements in Britain.

It’s too soon to conclude that the recruitment changes by PwC and EY are a failed experiment.

The war for talent is intense among accounting firms. Businesses can’t stay at the top without thinking out of the box, taking bold steps, and being caring. It should be no different when it comes to how they hire people.

By Errol Oh Optimistically cautious viewpoint

Executive editor Errol Oh joined an accounting firm right out of school. That doesn’t happen in Malaysia anymore.


Big Four Corporation
The Big Four are the four largest international professional services networks, offering audit, assurance, tax, consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance, and legal services. Wikipedia

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