PAC blamed Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for failing to enforce laws on hillside development


Becoming bald: A view of the clearing work seen at Bukit Relau which was visible from the Penang Bridge in November last year.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had faulted the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for failing to monitor and enforce laws on hillside development in the state.

In its report on hill land development tabled on May 19, PAC said the lax monitoring not only resulted in unchecked hill clearing, but landowners were able to build houses, chalets, hotels and restaurants on Penang’s hill range.

“This situation happened because of MBPP’s failure to monitor and patrol hill land after notices were issued to landowners.

“This led to risks of soil erosion, landslides, mudslides, river sedimentation and disruptions to the surroundings,” it stated.

PAC’s report gained public attention after Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin brought it up in a dialogue session held by Penang NGOs and residents associations on flood and landslides on Sunday.

She told 200-odd members of the civil society that the report was tabled in the state assembly but never presented.

PAC stated that according to the state Audit Department, out of 31 illegal hill land clearing cases in 2015, four were in the Teluk Bahang water catchment area.

The committee, chaired by Bagan Dalam assemblyman A. Tanasekharan, visited nine of the cases on March 1.

It highlighted the Bukit Relau hill clearing case 410m above sea level and visible from Penang Bridge.

“Media reports and public comments should have been enough for MBPP and other authorities to take immediate action.

“Mitigation works on Bukit Relau have taken so long to be completed. The local authorities neither monitor the work frequently nor supply regular updates,” it added.

On illegal clearing that took place on Penang Hill, PAC expressed frustration that the actual dates and specific locations of the earthworks could not be determined because of the unsatisfactory records and monitoring.

“On Penang Hill, there was confusion on the existing agricultural plot and the new clearings.

“There are no definitions of allowable hill land agricultural works that involves digging,” it added.

PAC also objected to an earlier suggestion by the state Local Government Committee to exclude hill land earthworks related to agricultural activities from needing work permits.

Source: The Star by Arnold Loh

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Floods hit Bujkit Jambul & Hong Seng Estate in Penang


Wet, wet woes: (Above) Bukit Jambul is flooded once again after an evening downpour.

Firemen installing a pump to draw floodwaters from one of the affected houses on a slope in Hong Seng Estate, Mount Erskine.

GEORGE TOWN: A blocked underground drainage saw six houses located on a slope in Hong Seng Estate, Mount Erskine, flooded during an evening downpour.

Firemen and Civil Defence Force personnel had to install a water pump to draw out the rainwater which flooded some of the units to waist-level.

Rojak seller Tan Swee Hoe, 56, said she was shocked to see her kitchen and living room submerged in water at 7pm yesterday.

“I rushed home after receiving a call from a neighbour, saying my house is flooded.

“But I did not expect such a sight. I did not manage to move my furniture and electrical appliances to the upper floor, thus incurring several thousand ringgit in losses.

“I have been staying here for 17 years and this is the first time my house is flooded,” she said at her house.

Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey said 17 people from five houses were affected while the sixth house was unoccupied.

She said the Fire and Rescue Department and the Civil Defence Force personnel moved in to install a 400m pipe to pump the water out from the house manually.

“The water is channelled to a nearby river and it may take a few hours if the weather is good,” she said, adding that the district office will evaluate the losses.

Late last month, seven houses in the estate were affected by soil erosion. A consultant engineer Datuk Lim Kok Khong had said the soil erosion was due to water seeping under the ground.

Penang Gerakan secretary H’ng Chee Wey urged the state government, with the aid of the experts, to look into the cause of the problems.

“The state government needs to ensure that the existing infrastructure, including the drainage system, can cope with the demand before it approve new development projects.

“We hope the local authorities can be proactive in the matter,” he added.

Rising waters also flooded the Bukit Jambul area, reducing traffic to a crawl.

Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin said a RM400,000 flood mitigation project started last month.

“The project will create a shortcut for the floodwater to be discharged directly to Sungai Nibong river instead of passing through Jalan Tun Dr Awang,” he said, adding that the project was expected to be completed at the end of next month.

Source: The Star by chong Kah Yuan

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Toray sets up new unit in Penang


Toray Malaysia Systems Solution Sdn Bhd
managing director Peter Chan (second right) speaking at a press
conference on Oct 17 after the official opening of Toray Malaysia
Systems Solution Sdn Bhd at the Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Penang.
Among those who were also present were Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P.
Ramasamy (middle) and Toray IS Division, Japan general manager Akihiro
Tada (first left)

 

Toray Malaysia Systems provides IT services

GEORGE TOWN: Toray Group (Malaysia), wholly-owned by Toray Industries Inc, Japan and one of the pioneers of Penang’s industrialisation programme, has expanded its business operations in Penang with the establishment of yet another company, namely Toray Malaysia Systems Solution Sdn Bhd (TMS).

TMS was established on May 2 with a RM5mil investment injected from Toray Japan.

It has offices at two locations in Penang, namely its head office at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (Spice) and in Prai.

TMS managing director Peter Chan said the company, which is certified with MSC status by MDEC, provides global business services to its group of companies in Malaysia and abroad.

He said the company currently employs some 50 people and expects to increase the number to 100 within the next two to three years.

Chan said TMS provides full suite of information technology (IT) solutions and support for all aspects of business operations, ranging from planning and development to operation of information systems.

“These IT services include systems study, design, development, integration, deployment and maintenance, network infrastructure installation, IT helpdesk, systems administration support as well as IT consulting and IT research and development, according to customers’ stringent needs,” he added.

Chan said TMS is under the direct supervision of Toray Japan Information Systems Division.

“Backed by many years of information systems development experiences, technical know-how and skillful dedicated staff, TMS is set to contribute to Toray’s global business expansion as well as other related clients in Malaysia and the region.

“The head office at TMS Spice is equipped with the latest network infrastructure and IoT (Internet of Things) technology. It is designed to ensure that employees work in a conducive, healthy, happy, flexible working environment,” he said at TMS’ official opening at the Setia Spice Convention Centre recently.

Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, who was guest of honour at the event, said Penang recorded a total of RM5.3bil approved manufacturing investments from Japan from 2008 to 2016.

“I am also pleased to note that after the US and EU countries, Japanese investors make up the largest investments in Penang, making Japanese companies among the top FDI contributors to the Penang economy,” he added.

Source : The Star


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IJM hill clearing & Trehaus construction damaged nearby houses since 2014 must be mitigated quickly!


Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project.
Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16’52.82″E
Reported  in August 2016. Photos taken in November 2016 and 2014 by Penang Forum
PHW Report

Click to see Video/images: https://hillclearinginpenang.ushahidi.io/views/map

https://hillclearinginpenang.ushahidi.io/views/map

Sources: Penang Hills Watch (PHW) | Penang Forum

Hill clearing activity by IJM Trehaus Project


Clearing and construction for a condo and semi-detached housing project, Trehaus, reported in http://anilnetto.com/ 26 Aug 2016. Photo taken in 2014 …

Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project.

IJM Hill Clearing 2014

Two invalid pipe culverts formed sinkholes at BJ Cove houses

The following plan clearly shows an underground pipe culvert from the IJM Trehaus site that converged  directly, vertically at BJ Cove houses from another underground  pipe culvert at nearby pond were burst, caused house cracks, floods, formed sinkholes (by two pipe culverts converged in red) and damaged  to  BJ Cove houses in 2015 due to blockages of waters whenever rains and because of lack of drainage systems.  The sinkhole was caused by soil erosion due to waters under the ground.Therefore, damages to houses were caused by severe soil erosion due to water movement under the road and buildings.

Underground Pipe Culverts from IJM Trehaus site on the left and nearby pond on the right

The following is an underground pipe culvert from the IJM Trehaus site behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1:

IJM constructing an underground pipe Culvert in 2014 to BJ Cove Houses

IJM constructing an underground pipe Culvert in to BJ Cove Houses

IJM Underground Pipe Culvert to BJ Cove Houses

IJM Underground Pipe Culvert to BJ Cove Houses
Waters gushing down from IJM Trehaus site to BJ Cove houses:
Waters flow from IJM Trehaus to BJ Cove houses

 

Waters gushing down from IJM Trehaus site to BJ Cove houses

Waters from IJM site stucked at behind BJ Cove houses

The nearby pond besides IJM Trehaus site:

Serious Drainage Issues

The Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID or JPS) has just started
constructing the drain from the pond to divert the waters:
A drain under construction by JPS to divert waters from the nearby pond but show no sign to divert waters from IJM Site
Drain water flow under construction by JPS to divert waters from the nearby pond
We are concerned as to how IJM is going to resolve the pipe culvert from their side as JPS has confirmed IJM failure to comply with sediment control plan (ESCP).

Letters fromThe Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID or JPS)

Clearly, the underground pipe culverts leaked and waters seeped through the
cracks as it did not happen immediately but over a period of time!

Despite the underground pipe culverts declared invalid by JPS and the Penang City Council’s (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang, i.e. MBPP) has issued stop work orders directing the developers, Worldwide Venture Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of IJM Land to rectify the damages within 1 and 2 weeks time since 2015 (as per the attached letters below), multiple wall cracks, slabs collapsed, PBA water pipes burst, leakage charges, damaging ceiling, electrical DB board, and tiles fallen, broken/popped up,  are still pending settlement and remedial works to be carried out by parties responsible for the damages since 2014 !!

Letters from Penang City Council’s (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang)

Letters from Developers: Worldwide Venture Sdn Bhd, an subsidiary of IJM Land:
 

 

 Damaged houses

 Damages appeared after IJM began construction works in 2014, like hill clearing, rock-blasting, piling and digging culvert at Trehaus site. As a result, waters seepage through multiple cracks on the ground, walls, tiles fallen from roofs and popped up from the ground due to vibration from rock-blasting and piling for the building.

 Pictures showing floods, sinkholes at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1, 11900 Penang,  damaged to BJ Cove houses, cracks, waters leakages seeped through the cracks, slabs collapsed, ceilings & tiles broken & fallen, electrical DB board explosion, etc caused by severe soil erosion due to water movement under the road and buildings. The underground pipe leaked and waters seeped through the cracks!

Sinkhole at BJ Cove house no. 20
IJM converted the sinkhole into a manhole waters from their underground pipe culvert at Trehaus
Sinkhole at house 20 is covered up by IJM’s underground pipe culvert from  IJM Trehaus
IJM converting the sinkhole at BJ Cove no. 20

We demand immediate enforcement & Actions, Truth be told:

 

1. The parties responsible must quickly without further delays, to settle the claims and start the remedial works to the damaged houses without condition, as both JPS has declared underground pipe culverts invalid and BPP has  issued stop work orders directed the developers, Worldwide Venture Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of IJM Land to rectify the damages  ithin 1 and 2 weeks time since 2015!

2. Enforce IJM’s & MBPP’ Letters/Stop-work Orders (above attacked), and divert waters from the two invalid underground pipe  culverts deemed illegal at the IJM Trehaus site and nearby ponds which must be closed and grouted as a long term solution to the problems.

3. Beef up the enforcement and accountability not just in government agencies but also in professional bodies, like the Board Of Engineers Malaysia (BEM),  the Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), etc to  uphold the professional ethics, integrity and standards, to ensure public safety of the buildings and people life.

Findings from Penang Forum 

Dr Kam, a scientist, focused on expansion of impermeable surface area (caused by ill­ planned development and replacing natural ground cover such as hills, fields and trees that act as a water ­absorbing sponge) and soil erosion and landslides (caused by cutting and development in hill areas) as two factors that need special attention.

She quoted Datuk Kam U Tee, the Penang Water Authority general manager (1973~­90), as having correctly explained the Penang floods of October 2008, as follows: the floods were caused by conversion of the Paya Terubong and Bayan Baru valleys into “concrete aprons that do not retain water. The water immediately flows into streams causing flash floods even with moderate rainfall. Because of hill­cutting activities, the flowing water causes erosion of the slopes which carries mud and silt into the river beds”. ( The Star, Oct 24, 2008).

See more.. Penang floods and landslides, looking beyound natural causes!

Credits – Slides presented by Environmental, health and safety consultant Aziz Noor, and scientist Dr Kam Suan Pheng at the Penang Forum event on Oct 29, 2017

Practise true CAT for Sustainable Development

  • Penang government must provide a COMPETENT flood mitigation plan for the state starting with a comprehensive Drainage Master Plan Study and not slogan.

  • The Penang government has to be ACCOUNTABLE to the people and not private developers. In other words, ‘Politicians should be ‘wakil rakyat’ and not ‘wakil pemaju’. If certain waterways and catchment areas have to be gazetted as permanent drainage and storage areas, then so be it.

  • The safety and well-being of the Rakyat has to come first.  In the interest of  TRANSPARENCY, Penang has to launch an inquiry into how the local council approved property developments on slopes without adequate slope protection.

 See more …

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Getting titles right in the engineering field in Malaysia

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Rage against hill road plan: We don’t want that road, says Penang residents


Long and winding road: This satellite picture from Google Earth Pro shows five planned interchanges of the Teluk Bahang-Tanjung Bungah paired road. The road starts at (1) Lembah Permai corner near Sri Vazhikattum Muniswarar shrine. The three interchanges in the middle are (2) at Jalan Sungai Emas, (3) at Persiaran Sungai Permai and (4) near Chin Farm Waterfall. The road ends (5) about 200m from the Teluk Bahang roundabout near the Toy Museum.

 

GEORGE TOWN: Alarm bells rang among Tanjung Bungah residents after they realised the proposed new road from Teluk Bahang to their neighbourhood entails de- forestation and construction on slopes with gradients steeper than 25 degrees.

They want the project scrapped and demand that the state government think of alternatives.

Through the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA), 400 of them signed a petition against the project known as North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR).

TBRA chairman Meenakshi Raman said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report showed that 3.34ha of gazetted forest reserves would be cleared for the road.

“Tracts of the Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve and Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve will be deforested. How can this be allowed?

“These reserves are gazetted as water catchment areas too,” she said in a press conference at the Tanjung Bungah market yesterday.

She said the EIA report revealed that 46% of the proposed road would be on slopes with gradients higher than 25 degrees.

“The EIA is clear that slope instability risks will be high. Mitigation measures are suggested but haven’t we learned enough about Penang’s development? Landslides occur often here,” she said.

The residents urged the Depart-ment of Environment (DoE) in writing not to approve the EIA. A copy of the letter was forwarded to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Aug 21.

The NCPR is a 10.53km four-lane road from near SK Teluk Bahang until the L-shaped bend of Lembah Permai at Sri Vazhikattum Munis-warar shrine.

This is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and is under the purview of Consortium Zenith Construction.

It is one of three new roads planned as the traffic dispersal system of the Penang Undersea Tunnel project.

Residents are also confounded by the cost.

Meenakshi said that in 2011, the estimated construction and land acquisition cost of the NCPR was expected at RM1bil.

She said the EIA stated that at an average speed of 70kph, motorists would save 14 minutes of travel time compared with the current coastal road.

“Spending such a huge amount to save 14 minutes is a colossal waste of public resources,” she added.

She felt that the EIA should have included a cost-to-benefit analysis.

“For RM1bil, can’t we think of other alternatives to the traffic problem?”

In response, state exco member Lim Hock Seng clarified that the clearing of the forest reserves was studied in the EIA as a requirement but the state was planning to avoid forest clearing.

“The first phase of NCPR is from Batu Ferringhi to Tanjung Bungah. That is the most urgent.

“The Teluk Bahang stretch, where the forest reserves are, won’t be built so soon.

“We do plan to continue examining alternatives to avoid deforestation.”

Lim said the main road in Batu Ferringhi could not “take it anymore during the holiday season” and the NCPR was vital to relieve traffic jams in the area.

Also, he said SRS Consortium, the state’s PTMP project delivery partner, was planning a viaduct from Lembah Permai to Seri Tanjung Pinang.

“So we are not dumping traffic or leaving a bottleneck at the Vale of Tempe Road with the NCPR.

“Motorists can choose between the winding coastal road or the NCPR depending on where they are going.

“This project will help reduce traffic,” he said.

Meenakshi also expressed shock that the EIA stated that NCPR would have 10 proposed interchanges.

But Lim and also Consortium Zenith chairman Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli said there would be only three interchanges in the middle of the road.

“They will be between Teluk Bahang and Tanjung Bungah, in Jalan Sungai Emas, Persiaran Sungai Permai and near Chin Farm Waterfall,” said Zarul Ahmad.

Penang Water Supply Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa gave an assurance that the NCPR’s route would not affect water catchment because the road would be downhill of Teluk Bahang Dam or any other reservoir.

Source: The Star by Arnold Loh

Call to scrap proposed road



Troubled spot: Aerial view of Jalan Lembah Permai in Tanjung Bungah, where the North Coastal Paired Road from Teluk Bahang will end in the L-shaped bend of the road. 

GEORGE TOWN: Tanjung Bungah residents want the proposed new road from Teluk Bahang to their neighbourhood scrapped after realising it entails deforestation and construction on slopes with gradients steeper than 25 degree.

Through the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA), 400 of them signed a petition against the North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR).

TBRA chairman Meenakshi Raman said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) showed that 3.34ha of gazetted forest reserve will be cleared for the road.

“Tracts of the Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve and Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve will be deforested. How can this be allowed?” Meenakshi said during a press conference at the Tanjung Bungah market yesterday.

She said the EIA revealed that 46% of the proposed road would be on slopes with gradients higher than 25 degrees.

“The EIA is clear that slope instability risks will be high. Mitigation measures are suggested, but haven’t we learnt enough about Penang’s development? The island is sensitive to landslides,” she said.

The residents urged the Department of Environment (DoE) in writing not to approve the EIA. A copy of the letter was also forwarded to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Aug 21.

The NCPR is a 10.53km four-lane road that is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan and is under the purview of Consortium Zenith Construction. It is part of the traffic dispersal system of the Penang Undersea Tunnel project.

The residents are also confounded by the cost. Meenakshi said in 2011, the estimated construction cost and land acquisition cost of the NCPR was RM1bil.

She felt the EIA should have included a cost-to-benefit analysis and “for RM1bil, can’t we think of other alternatives to the traffic problem?”

In response, state exco member Lim Hock Seng clarified that the clearing of the forest reserves was studied in the EIA as a requirement, but the state is planning to avoid it.

“The first phase of NCPR is from Batu Ferringhi to Tanjung Bungah. The Teluk Bahang stretch, where the forest reserves are, won’t happen so soon.

“Although it is studied in the EIA, we do plan to continue examining alternatives and avoid deforestation,” said Lim. – The Star

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Stop denying the undeniable high engineering consultancy fees for 3 Penang roads, says minister



The works minister, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yosof says compared to what the JKR recently paid for pre-construction consulting fees for a project in Johor (RM19mil of pre-construction consulting cost represents 2.67% of RM718,570,500 for roads totalling 30km in length), the Penang government’s consultancy fees for the three roads project is exorbitant to the total RM220mil pre-construction fees that was already fully paid by the Penang government, which represented 11.06% of the RM1.99bil construction cost for the three roads totalling 20km in length and has yet to start construction despite a three-and-a-half-year delay.”

PETALING JAYA: The Penang government has been urged to “stop denying the undeniable” over the exorbitant consultancy fees for the three roads project.

Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said the Public Works Depart­­ment (JKR) recently paid RM19 million in total for pre-construction consulting fees for a paired road highway project in Jo­­hor.

He compared this with the exorbitant consultancy fees for the three roads project in Penang.

“The fees comprise all required services and include the fees for all surveys, soil investigation, preliminary environmental impact assessment and all civil, structural, electrical and mechanical designs,” The Star quoted Fadillah as saying.

He said the RM19 million of pre-construction consulting cost represents 2.67% of RM718,570,500 for roads totalling 30km in length.

He added that in accordance with the Board of Engineers Malaysia’s (BEM) guidelines, not all of the fees for the project were paid before construction began as a quarter of the payment was withheld for the tendering and construction stages.

“Compare this to the total RM220 million pre-construction fees that was already fully paid by the Penang government, which represented 11.06% of the RM1.99 billion construction cost for the three roads totalling 20km in length and has yet to start construction despite a three-and-a-half-year delay,” Fadillah said.

The three paired roads are meant to be the traffic dispersal system of Penang’s proposed undersea tunnel project.

The cost of the consultation fees for the three paired roads has been a point of contention between the state and federal government, whereby the latter says that the Penang government has significantly overpaid the fees.

The Penang government has maintained that the fees paid is not excessive. – FMT news, The Star

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PDF]PENANG MAJOR PROJECTS PRESENTATION – ENGLISH …

Making the corrupt fear whistleblowers, not the other way !

 

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Here come the robots; your job is at risk


Here come the robots & they are going to take almost all of our jobs…

The new automation revolution is going to disrupt both industry and services, and developing countries need to rethink their development strategies.

A NEWS item caught my eye last week, that Uber has obtained permission in California to test two driverless cars, with human drivers inside to make corrections in case something goes wrong.

Presumably, if the tests go well, Uber will roll out a fleet of cars without drivers in that state. It is already doing that in other states in America.

In Malaysia, some cars can already do automatic parking. Is it a matter of time before Uber, taxis and personal vehicles will all be smart enough to bring us from A to B without our having to do anything ourselves?

But in this application of “artificial intelligence”, in which machines can have human cognitive functions built into them, what will happen to the taxi drivers? The owners of taxis and Uber may make more money but their drivers will most likely lose their jobs.

The driverless car is just one example of the technological revolution taking place that is going to drastically transform the world of work and living.

There is concern that the march of automation tied with digital technology will cause dislocation in many factories and offices, and eventually lead to mass unemployment.

This concern is becoming so pervasive that none other than Bill Gates recently proposed that companies using robots should have to pay taxes on the incomes attributed to the use of robotics, similar to the income tax that employees have to pay.

That proposal has caused an uproar, with mainstream economists like Lawrence Summers, a former United States treasury secretary, condemning it for putting brakes on technological advancement. One of them suggested that the first company to pay taxes for causing automation should be Microsoft.

However, the tax on robots idea is one response to growing fears that the automation revolution will cause uncontrollable disruption and increase the inequalities and job insecurities that have already spurred social and political upheaval in the West, leading to the anti-establishment votes for Brexit and Donald Trump.

Recent studies are showing that deepening use of automation will cause widespread disruption in many sectors and even whole economies. Worse, it is the developing countries that are estimated to lose the most, and this will exacerbate the already great global inequalities.

The risks of job automation to developing countries is estimated to range from 55 to 85%, according to a pioneering study in 2016 by Oxford University’s Martin School and Citi.

Major emerging economies will be at high risk, including China (77%) and India (69%). The risk for Malaysia is estimated at 65-70%. The developed OECD countries’ average risk is only 57%.

From the Oxford-Citi report, “The future is not what it used to be”, one gathers there are at least three reasons why the automation revolution will be particularly disruptive in developing countries.

First, there is “premature deindustrialisation” taking place as manufacturing is becoming less labour-intensive and many developing countries have reached the peak of their manufacturing jobs.

Second, recent developments in robotics and additive manufacturing will enable and could thus lead to relocation of foreign firms back to their home countries.

Seventy per cent of clients surveyed believe automation and 3D printing developments will encourage international companies to move their manufacturing close to home. China, Asean and Latin America have the most to lose from this relocation.

Thirdly, the impact of automation may be more disruptive for developing countries due to lower levels of consumer demand and limited social safety nets.

The report warns that developing countries may even have to rethink their overall development models as the old ones that were successful in generating growth in the past will not work anymore.

Instead of export-led manufacturing growth, developing countries will need to search for new growth models, said the report.

“Service-led growth constitutes one option, but many low-skill services are now becoming equally automatable.”

Another series of reports, by McKinsey Global Institute, found that 49% of present work activities can be automated with currently demonstrated technology, and this translates into US$15.8tril in wages and 1.1 billion jobs globally.

About 60% of all occupations could see 30% or more of their activities automated. But more reassuringly, an author of the report, James Manyika, says the changes will take decades.

Which jobs are most susceptible? The McKinsey study lists accommodations and food services as the most vulnerable sector in the US, followed by manufacturing and retail business.

In accommodations and food, 73% of activities workers perform can be automated, including preparing, cooking or serving food, cleaning food-preparation areas and collecting dirty dishes.

In manufacturing, 59% of all activities can be automated, including packaging, loading, welding and maintaining equipment.

For retailing, 53% of activities are automatable. They include stock management, maintaining sales records, gathering customer and product information, and accounting.

A technology specialist writer and consultant, Shelly Palmer, has also listed elite white-collar jobs that are at risk from robotic technologies.

These include middle managers, commodity salespeople, report writers, journalists, authors and announcers, accountants and bookkeepers, and doctors.

Certainly, the technological trend will improve productivity per worker that remains, and increase the profitability of companies that survive.

But there are adverse effects including loss of jobs and incomes for those who are replaced by the new technologies.

What can be done to slow down automation or at least to cope with its adverse effects?

The Bill Gates proposal to tax robots is one of the most radical. The tax could slow down the technological changes and the funds generated by the tax could be used to mitigate the social effects.

Other proposals, as expected, include training students and present employees to have the new skills needed to work in the new environment.

Overall, however, there is likely to be a significant net loss of employment, and the potential for social discontent is also going to be large.

As for the developing countries, there will have to be much thinking about the implications of the new technologies for their immediate and long-term economic prospects, and a major rethinking of economic and development strategies.

Global Trends by Martin Khor

Martin Khor (director@southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.
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