Venture scheme accelerates growth of start-ups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Wan Ilaika Mohd Zakaria

Startups put through paces 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The accelerator had been running the programme since 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lim Wing Hooi The Star/Asia News Network

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    Crowdfunding is slowly gaining credibility, helped…

Crowdfunding is slowly gaining credibility, helped entrepreneurs achieve their dreams

This alternative source of funding has helped many entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

Ng (right) handing over a mock cheque to Jamaliatul Shahriah bt Jamaluddin, the project creator for YAKEEN Honey Booster after a successful round of funding on the platform.

CROWDFUNDING has gained a strong following as an alternative funding option over the past few years. Small businesses that have not been able to secure conventional financing are looking more and more towards the practice as a source of financing.

However, the level of awareness and interest in crowdfunding in Malaysia is still at its infancy stage, noted chief executive officer Kristine Ng.

“Maybe about one in 20 people have heard of the concept and understand exactly how it works. There are currently just a handful of noted platforms in the market. Some local companies try to raise funds on international platforms such as

“There is still a lot more which local players need to do to gain the credibility and recognition to grow further. And having the support from the local community would be a great boost for us,” she said.

Fundaztic, which rolled out in June this year, is among the handful of local crowdfunding players in the market. The platform was founded by a group of ex-bankers and a lawyer who have been following the development of financial technology (FinTech).

The potential of crowdfunding as an alternative funding platform is huge, said Ng, because access to funds has always been an issue, especially for new businesses and new business sectors that are viable but yet to have proven track-records.

Furthermore, Malaysians tend to be generally cautious when it comes to adopting new technology. Additionally, having to overcome the hurdle of building confidence in the credibility of the platforms would take a lot of time and effort for crowdfunding to be a significant part of the funding scene here.

Fundaztic has listed eight projects on its platform so far, with four projects currently in active funding stage.

But crowdfunding has taken the world by storm in the western countries and established strong platforms such as and that have helped many entrepreneurs bring their dreams and aspirations to life. Reports have even noted the possibility that the crowdfunding industry could account for more funding than venture capital (VC) in 2016.

A recent report by Massolution said global crowdfunding is set to raise US$34.4bil for 2015. In comparison, the VC industry invests an average of US$30bil each year.

“We truly believe that crowdfunding is a proven platform for like-minded people to support each other, and epitomises the meaning of ‘people power’ in an extremely positive manner,” Ng said. Fundaztic has listed eight projects on its platform so far, with four projects currently in active funding stage.

“We are happy that two of the projects are over-funded and have helped the project creators, who are both women and homegrown entrepreneurs, to grow their business in a risk free manner.

“This is the strongest benefit of crowdfunding. Entrepreneurs can leverage on the platform to gauge the level of public acceptance and support towards their products before having to splash out the funds on their own to commercialise a product or to stock up on inventory,” said Ng.

Funding on Fundaztic is through the concept of cornerstone funding whereby projects that are not able to meet its funding goal but have managed to generate at least 80% of the required funding, can get a maximum of 20% of the required funds from Fundaztic itself.

“Because we truly want all projects to be successful, we would be more than willing to hand-hold in the curation of the project so that the message will sink in well with the local community and thus, enjoy a higher degree of success,” Ng concluded. – The Starbiz

Entrepreneurs Slow to Market Via Equity Crowdfunding Platforms


Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide, talks about the rise of Giving Tuesday and the latest trend in charitable

Equity crowdfunding platforms are providing a new and innovative way to  raise money from angel investors that centralizes, streamlines, simplifies and shortens the fundraising process. Equity crowdfunding pools money from a group of investors via internet platforms, using social media and other types of marketing.

You might be surprised to learn that entrepreneurs, who are known for innovating in their products and services, are not innovating when it comes to the way they raise money. And  angel investors, who put money into innovations, are not innovating in the way they invest. Few entrepreneurs are marketing their securities offerings to angels online via crowdfunding.

That’s unfortunate, since angel investors provide about half as much financing as venture capitalists: $24 billion compared to $48 billion, according to the Center for Venture Research and MoneyTree, respectively. Angels, defined here as accredited investors who earn $200,000 annually (or $300,000 as a couple), or have a net worth, excluding their homes, in excess of $1 million, are more likely than VCs to focus on  seed and early-stage companies.

The State of Private Companies Publicly Raising Financing

This new public-facing financing method became possible on September 23, 2013, when the SEC put into effect the rules and regulations that allow private companies to advertise their securities offerings to angel investors. Previously, public solicitation was prohibited. Entrepreneurs now can market their securities offerings through websites such as AngelListCircleUpCrowdfunder and Portfolia.

Yet surprisingly few companies choose to seek funding publicly. Last year, 382,000 companies sought to raise money from angels in the real world. Fewer than 100 companies were added to those already trying to do so in the online world between January 1 and June 30, 2015, according to Crowdnetic, which aggregates data from 18 equity crowdfunding platforms.

The reality is that concerns about a new way of doing business often hold back adoption. I tackle these concerns in 6 Common Misconceptions About Equity Crowdfunding. The good news is that entrepreneurs who are embracing public-facing financing are blazing the trail, and best practices are emerging. I’ve written about some of those practices in How to Ensure a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign and in Stand Out In the Crowd: How Women (and Men) Benefit From Equity Crowdfunding

Women Entrepreneurs and Equity Crowdfunding: A Gap and Great Potential

Raising money via equity crowdfunding platforms has the potential to level the playing field for anyone raising money, but its impact may be greatest on underrepresented groups—such as women—who lag even further in taking advantage of this new approach. Women entrepreneurs are twice as likely to seek money offline from angels (36%) than publicly online (18%), according to the Center for Venture Research and Crowdnetic.

The average amount raised via crowdfunding is rising for companies in general ($412,000 as of the end of 2014 to $432,000 as of June 30, 2015) and falling for women-led companies ($331,000 as of the end of 2014 to $323,000 as of June 30, 2015).

This gap highlights tremendous potential. “The Kauffman Foundation reports that women build capital-efficient companies, generating 12% more revenue on one third less capital,” according to Kay Koplovitz, chairman and co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, an accelerator for women-led businesses in technology, media and life sciences. “[Think] how much more productive they could be if they raised capital on a par with men!”

Types of Securities Used

You may wonder what types of securities other entrepreneurs use when raising money. A majority (58%) issue stock as their method of financing. Nearly one third of entrepreneurs choose  convertible note, which allows them not to set an equity valuation at the time of the investment or to simply pay back the money within a set period of time prior to taking in permanent equity capital.

There are other financing structure options, such as revenue sharing or royalty agreements, but these are far less likely to be used. Depending on your long-term goal for the company, a securities lawyer can  advise you on which is the right form for you..

Top Locations for Equity Crowdfunding

It’s no surprise that the top location for equity crowdfunding activity and deals is the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area, both for entrepreneurs in general and for women-led companies in particular.

Over the past few decades, this area has developed a strong culture of entrepreneurship. It takes a village to build a growth company and to provide the ancillary support that makes growth possible. San Francisco/Silicon Valley has a long tradition of assisting high-potential entrepreneurs, not just with capital but with expertise and connections to customers, talent and vendors.

New York City is in second place. Worth noting are the high performance of relatively small cities such as Austin and Las Vegas, which rank among the top ten cities for raising money publicly online.

Other Signs That Equity Crowdfunding Is Gaining Credibility

Venture capitalists recognize the potential of crowdfunding and have invested in these platforms to the tune of $250 million in 2014, according to Massolution’s 2015CF Crowdfunding Industry Report. Big-name companies such as Coca-Cola, Nike, General Mills and Chrysler use crowdfunding platforms not to raise money but to gain insights into consumers.


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World Internet Conference to be held Dec 16~18 2015 Wuzhen China

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the upcoming Second World Internet Conference (WIC) in the river town of Wuzhen in east China’s Zhejiang Province, an official announced on Wednesday.

Xi is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, which is scheduled to be held between Dec. 16 and 18, said Lu Wei, minister in charge of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), at a press conference.

More than 2,000 attendees from over 120 countries and regions will participate in the conference, with foreign guests accounting for roughly half, Lu said.

Conference participants include representatives of governments, international organizations, Internet companies, academics, experts, think tanks and foreign and domestic college students.

The representatives also include the prime ministers of Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as senior officials from the United Nations, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Lenovo, Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.

The conference will cover 22 topics, including Internet cultural transmission, Internet innovation and development, digital economy cooperation, Internet technology standards and cyber space management.

Ten sub-forums will be held during the conference on topics such as the “Internet Plus” strategy, digital China and Internet innovation.

An expo and more than 80 press conferences will be held during the second WIC, showcasing cutting-edge technology and the latest achievements from about 260 enterprises from all over the world.

Local officials from Zhejiang Province praised the changes the WIC has brought to Wuzhen and provincial economic development. They vowed to provide high-quality services for the conference.

Lu also defended the CAC’s role in Internet management when responding to questions about access to some foreign websites, saying their business activities should abide by China’s laws and regulations.

“China adheres to reform and opening up to the outside world,” said Lu, adding that “for those foreign firms that want to enter China, there is a basic rule: they must abide by Chinese laws and regulations.”

Lu proposed joint efforts to build a “peaceful, safe and transparent” Internet for the welfare of people worldwide.

Guo Weimin, deputy head of the State Council Information Office (SCIO), said the SCIO will provide on-the-spot press release service during the second WIC.

The conference will be co-hosted by the CAC and Zhejiang provincial government.

The first WIC was held in Wuzhen in November last year.


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Being constantly connected online has bad consequences: harming memory, make you stupid

How much is too much?: Studies have found that Internet is harming our memory, especially short-term or working memory
How Smart Phones Make You Stupid
– Consumer Association of Penang (CAP)

Being constantly connected to the digital world has its consequences – setting the rules with social media

In order to have a more harmonious marriage, H and I have decided that we need some rules.

Recently, we came up with Rule No. 1: You can only repeat something once.

It’s been really helpful in keeping the nagging level of our marriage down. In the past, we would nag at each other quite a bit.

It has worked so well, we thought we should introduce more rules.

A few weeks back, he suggested Rule No. 2: No Googling and checking of e-mail at the dining table and just before we sleep.

I baulked.

What a ridiculous rule, I said. It’ll be impossible for me to agree to it and it’s not fair because it’s targeted at me.

How can I not be checking my e-mail all the time, I continued. I am a journalist. I must know what’s happening and I must be contactable 24/7. What if a story breaks? I need to know at once. I was, of course, exaggerating my own importance.

The world and the newsroom chug along just fine whether or not I am online. My bosses don’t expect me to be constantly connected (I think).

I was using work as an excuse. An excuse for an affliction I am finally coming around to acknowledging, but which H has noticed for some time: I have an addiction.

I have an addiction to Googling, to my smartphone, to my iPad, to being connected to the digital world.

My phone follows me everywhere I go. I sleep with it inches away from my pillow and my nights (as well as his) are punctuated with beeps, blips and pings from the many message notifications streaming in.

I check my phone goodness knows how many times a day, to look at my e-mail, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and a few other apps.

When I’m at the cinema, I’m one of those irritating people whose phone screen lights up during a movie because I’m checking it.

I literally break out in a cold sweat when I misplace my phone.

At home, I walk around not only with my phone, but also my tablet.

I am addicted to Googling on my iPad. I can spend an entire day in bed just Googling (oh, bliss). Sometimes, when the Wi-Fi speed is acting up, I Google on both my phone and tablet at the same time, just in case one gets to the information I want quicker.

“You’re addicted,” H says.

“I’m not,” I say. “It’s my job. I am not addicted. I know when to stop.”

To prove my point, I went onto Google (of course) to try out some are-you-an-Internet-addict tests.

The most helpful article I came across was in Yahoo by Dr James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University in Texas in the United States.

He explained that anything that can produce pleasure in our brain has the potential of becoming addictive and what makes something an addiction is when we lose control.

Research, he said, has identified “six signs” of any type of substance or behavioural addiction.

These signs relate to issues connected to salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse. I have a problem. But the situation isn’t that dire, I’d like to think.

Still, I shouldn’t be complacent. It can’t be pleasant living with someone who doesn’t give you her full attention because her nose is always stuck in a screen. It is also rude.

At work, I have got into the bad habit of not looking at colleagues I’m talking to because I’m also typing away on my phone or computer.

At meetings when I’m just the slightest bit bored, I find it hard to resist reaching for my phone and checking my e-mail, which is impolite to the person who’s speaking.

My attachment to my devices can be dangerous – I walk and text a lot. The intense and constant staring at screens is causing eye strain.

Studies have also found that the Internet is harming our memory, especially short-term or working memory.

Information overload and distractions – hallmarks of Internet surfing – make it harder to retain information in our brains.

When we know a digital device holds information for us, we are also less likely to remember it ourselves. It has been years since I memorised anyone’s telephone number. I’m not even sure I can do it now.

Having so much information at my fingertips has made my brain lazy and mushy.Google makes you feel clever when you really aren’t.

Also, while social media like Facebook have been praised for bringing people closer, they can in fact isolate us when we use them in place of face-to-face interactions.

As for H and me, I think I should agree to some version of Rule No. 2 if I want a happier marriage.

Totally no Googling and checking of e-mail at the dining table and just before we sleep might not be doable.

But I can live with “less” Googling and checking of e-mail. One step at a time

By Sumiko Tan The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Nabbed Briton in Malaysia among five terror suspects, married 12 times

KUALA LUMPUR: A part-time English teacher from Britain who fought as an al-Qaeda militant in Afghanistan and Bosnia, is among the latest group of five men arrested for being involved in Islamic State (IS) and other terror groups.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division nabbed the 44-year-old Briton together with a 25-year-old Bangladeshi, a 29-year-old Nigerian, a 31-year-old Indonesian and a 59-year-old Malaysian, who is also a Rela member, in a se


Inspector-General of

ries of raids in Selangor, Kelantan, Johor and here between Nov 16 and Dec 1. Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the British national, a Muslim convert who had been under surveillance for some time, was arrested in Jalan Duta on Nov 16.

“He fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia after joining al-Qaeda. He was working as a part-time English teacher in Penang and we have been monitoring him closely,” the IGP said.

The Nigerian, who had been using his guise as a student in a private college in Petaling Jaya for his terrorism-related activities, was arrested a day later.

Investigators believe that he is actively connected to terror groups in Africa.

Both the Briton and Nigerian have since been deported.

The three other suspects, an Indonesian, a Bangladeshi and a Malaysian, are believed to have links to the IS.

The Indonesian, identified as the leader of the cell, was nabbed on Dec 1 in Benut, Pontian, where he was working as a mechanic.

The IGP said the man had performed the bai’ah (pledge of loyalty) to IS’ “Caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi via Facebook in mid 2014.

“We also believe that he is one of the main persons recruiting and sending trained militants to Syria. We suspect that he has been arranging travels for IS followers in Malaysia and other South-East Asian countries,” he added.

It was learnt that the Indonesian had direct connections with known Malaysian militants, including former “The Ukays” band drummer Akil Zainal.

Akil, a Universiti Teknologi Mara graduate, was among the first batch of Malaysians who went to Syria and publicly declared support for militant groups.

The two other cell members, the Malaysian and the Bangladeshi, were arrested in Kota Baru and Klang respectively.

At a separate event, the IGP said Bukit Aman would always be on the alert with threats from the IS and other terror groups.

“We will not compromise when it comes to security. Every action will be taken to prevent bad things from happening in this country,” he said.

The IGP said terror groups, including the IS would not be allowed to gain a foothold in Malaysia, he added.

Asked whether any of the suspects had been planning to launch attacks in Malaysia, he said that was their main agenda.

Nabbed Terrorist Married 12 Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The British national nabbed along with four others for involvement in terrorism activities has a reputation of being a Casanova besides his militant tendencies.

The man has so far married 12 women, including five from Malaysia.

His other past and present wives are from the United Kingdom, Bosnia, Germany, Philippines and Indonesia.

“You could call him a Casanova terrorist,” a source told The Star.

“We have not come across a terrorist who has married so many women. He has been busy on the terror front but his love life is interesting as well.”

Apparently, his modus operandi has been to marry the women and divorce them after a few years.

“He is also suspected of duping the women into marriage for their money,” the source said.

It was learnt that a general manager of a bank was among his former Malaysian wives.

The man, who worked as a part-time English teacher in Penang, had been travelling in and out of Malaysia since 1998.

The authorities suspect that the Briton, who had been interacting with students, could be the head of a sleeper cell for the al-Qaeda in the country.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

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‘Spin doctors’, public relations gurus in today’s political world – an uneasy with online news

Uneasy with the age of spin

The old guard feel uncomfortable with the instant availability of online news and views that might be critical of them or their allies.

UMNO is probably one of the largest political parties in the world relative to the country’s population – with three million members in a country of around 30 million, its members account for almost 10% of the population.

So it came as a surprise that the party’s secretary-general announced that media would not be invited to cover this year’s party general assembly unless they “behaved” themselves.

He has since rescinded this order, but the permanent gripe that the Umno establishment has against some online news portals is that the portals allegedly like to “spin” stories and statements made by senior party-members and ministers, much to the chagrin of the nation’s top leaders.

So what is “spin”?

Spin is a weapon generally employed on a daily basis by politicians, opinion-makers and large corporations with the help of public relations gurus (“spin doctors”) who put out the desired image or message in such a way that the client will be favourably received by the public.

Edward Bernays is called the “father of public relations” for his success at presenting smoking and drinking as acceptable social behaviour in the early part of the 20th century, and he was in fact a spin doctor par excellence who openly talked of manipulating the public mind.

Spin doctoring is readily apparent in the United States political scene where debates are held by competing presidential candidates: both sides will claim victory and their spin doctors will go full throttle to selectively present the respective candidate’s winning points.

It’s also spin if the desired result of the exercise is to paint a negative picture of one’s target; either way, spin is usually associated with deceptive or manipulative tactics, but this is not always the case.

Spin can be disingenuous but not necessarily false: selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one’s position is spin, and it is the same as putting large photographs of certain leaders on the front pages of national newspapers to project a positive image.

Everyone engages in spin – some crudely – while others do so with more finesse, but everyone is actively spinning these days.

My wife’s constant complaint is that Malaysiakini uses a picture of me showing me in an angry mood, gesticulating about something, which she feels does not truly represent my persona.

Here, Malaysiakini could either be unconcerned about how I look (and why should it be?) or it might want to portray me as an angry man without a cause. If it is the latter, then it’s spin.

That said, spin is less effective in the age of the Internet than it was in the old days when a political party had a monopoly over the media. Back then, it was an arduous task for dissenters to make themselves heard, simply because they had no platform to do so.

Now, in the era of social media, the old order feels uncomfortable with the instant availability of online news and views that might be critical of them or their allies.

The old guard do not know how to deal with this new phenomenon, which is why they complain incessantly about the Opposition’s “spin”.

The truth is that every political organisation, large or small, uses spin to maximise its impact on the voting public.

Spin is par for the course in today’s political world and it’s not something we should complain about.

If the level of news reporting and journalistic integrity has stooped too low – if fair reporting has suffered because journalists resort to unethical practices such as plagiarism or manufacturing stories – then the solution would be to set up a Press Council to guarantee that minimum standards of professional excellence are maintained.

News organisations that flout the rules of such a council could be fined, while other measures can be taken to improve news reporting – that is, positive measures – because the unending threats to sue newspapers and online portals for incorrect statements and negative reporting is a waste of the court’s time.

Also, banning newspapers and online media from attending any political assembly is not the answer.

Instead, politicians should learn to be a little thick-skinned: after all, it’s part of the business to be attacked and made fun of, and to be misquoted or selectively quoted in a deceptive way.

If we are going to sue and issue threats every time an opponent opens his or her mouth, no work of serving the people and formulating good policies will ever be done.

Our politicians will be quarrelling and threatening one another for every small mistake, deliberate or otherwise, and if this is allowed to continue, the public will be disenchanted even more by the lack of quality leadership in Malaysia.

A serious change in attitude – a paradigm shift, of sorts – is necessary on the part of our political leaders to avoid this endless bickering and name-calling.

Politicians should learn to regard their opponents as a vital and necessary part of the democratic system that they all claim to uphold, and they should learn to live in harmony with one another as far as possible so that real work can get done.

There is no point taking the hard line over trivialities unless we want to dispense with democracy altogether: running a democracy is never as easy or comfortable as ruling with an iron fist.

It’s so much easier to rule North Korea or Saudi Arabia if you are the top dog there, but if you want democracy to continue, then a little discomfort – a little spin here and there – is a necessary part of political life which really shouldn’t bother anyone too much.

By Zaid Ibrahim All kinds of everything The Star/Asia News Network

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim ( is now a legal consultant. The views expressed here are entirely his own

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Correcting DNA mistakes

Using the knowledge of how the cell repair systems work will open the door to more effective cancer treatments
UNDERSTANDING how our cells repair damaged DNA, a breakthrough which earned the Nobel Chemistry Prize recently, could make cancer treatment more effective, experts say.

By revealing how our cells automatically fix DNA mutations which can lead to illness, the discovery opened the door to significantly improving chemotherapy’s effectiveness against cancer, which kills some eight million people worldwide each year.

“You can use this knowledge to destroy cancer,” said Nora Goosen, a DNA repair expert at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Chemotherapy attacks cancer cells by trying to scramble their genetic code and thus their ability to multiply, but cancer cells, just like healthy ones, do not give up without a fight.

he cell repair systems are going to try to undo the work of doctors by fixing the damage the doctors were trying to inflict,” said Terence Strick, a DNA repair researcher at the Jacques Monod Institute in Paris.

One solution would be to inhibit the ability of cancerous cells to self-mend.

“If you attack these repair mechanisms (in cancer cells) in combination with chemotherapy and other drugs … it (treatment) can be more effective,” Goosen said.

Sweden’s Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich of the United States and Turkish-American Aziz Sancar were awarded the top chemistry award for unravelling the process by which our cells repair mutations caused to DNA by the Sun or carcinogenic substances found in alcohol and cigarettes, for example.

Mistakes in DNA, the chemical code for making and sustaining life, can cause cells to malfunction, age prematurely, and become cancerous.

The vast majority of changes to our DNA are immediately corrected, but some accumulate and lead to cancer. Some people are more susceptible to cancer because their DNA repair response is faulty.

Ironically, the same repair mechanism identified by the Nobel laureates can also cause cancerous cells to resist the effects of cancer treatment.

Alan Worsley, a spokesman for the charity Cancer Research UK, said new drugs are being developed to fight the disease.

He cited the treatment olaparib, which stops cancer cells from fixing DNA damage. It was approved by the European Commission in December 2014 for use in Europe.

Alain Sarasin of France’s CNRS research institute highlighted the risks of interfering with DNA repair systems.

“We don’t yet know how to target tumour cells specifically. If we gave a patient a molecule which inhibits the self-repair mechanism of cancer cells, it may also inhibit the repair systems of other cells like white blood cells,” he said.

“If, one day, we have a molecule which reinforces the DNA repair and can be targeted to blood cells, for example, followed by chemotherapy after, this would allow us to increase the chemotherapy dosage without unintentionally killing blood cells.

“For now, we don’t know how to do that.” – AFP

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