Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Possibility of Third World War as Ukrainian Crisis Deepens!

EU vs Russia

As possibility of third world war exists, China needs to be prepared

 US vs Russia

As the Ukrainian crisis deepens, international observers have become more and more concerned about a direct military clash between the US and Russia. Once an armed rivalry erupts, it is likely to extend to the globe. And it is not impossible that a world war could break out.

The world war is a form of war that the whole world should face up to. During human evolution, the world war has entered its third development phase.

The first phase took place between nomadic societies and farming groups. The second phase was featured by colonial wars, with WWI and WWII as its special representatives.

Currently, the world has entered an era of new forms of global war.

Outer space, the Internet and the sea have become the battlefields of rivalry. Technology is the key, and the number of countries involved is unprecedented.

The rivalry on the outer space and the Internet takes place with the rivalry on the sea as the center stage. During WWII, some major powers attached significant importance to the sea.

Alfred Thayer Mahan, a US military strategist who died in 1914, coined the notion of sea power. He advocated valuing the naval forces, commercial fleet and overseas military base, which served for wars on the land.

But nowadays, we stress the importance of power in the sea. Judging from the contention of the global sea space, the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean have seen the fiercest rivalry. It's likely that there will be a third world war to fight for sea rights.

In an era when a third world war may take place, an important topic for the Chinese military is how to develop its power to maintain its national interests.

This should become the basis for its development, because since the founding of the PRC, the development of its military forces has been centered around maintaining its rights on the land. As the rivalry on the sea grows intense, China's military development should shift from maintaining the country's rights on the land to maintaining its rights on the sea.

Meanwhile, China is standing at the focal point of rivalries. This requires China to develop its military power based on a global war. China is in the heartland of the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

The development of China's sea power touches the nerves of many countries. China needs to develop its military power to avoid being squeezed to a passive position.

China's overseas interests have spread all over the world. As the US has been shifting its attention to the Asia-Pacific region, especially aiming at China, China's overseas interests have been increasingly threatened by the US.

Without large-scale military power, securing China's overseas interests seems like an empty slogan.

The long-range or overseas combat capabilities of China's sea and air forces are quite limited yet. If we don't view the development of sea and air forces with a farsighted view, we will face various restraints when building up the combat capabilities of sea and air forces or maintaining overseas interests. This will lead to the backwardness of China's sea and air forces.

China should not be pushed into a passive position where it is vulnerable to attacks. We must bear a third world war in mind when developing military forces, especially the sea and air forces.

Posted in: Viewpoint By Han Xudong Viewpoint Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-15 19:38:01

The author is a professor at the PLA National Defense University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy Malaysia Day? Economic assessment by the Performance Management & Delivery (Pemandu)

Toll roads criss crossing the nation and subsidsed food and petrol are signs of the nation’s prosperity

IN the cacophony assailing many parts of the world today, and where ills, tensions, warring and strife dictate much of daily life, we are living a life of plenty.

Our political climate is stable. We are at full employment, and our poor have enough to eat. Our children go to school and our graduates have opportunities.

We are attracting investments to our shores and multinationals are setting up shop. We are recognised for our talents and reforms, and are progressing headlong into a high-income, knowledge-based economy by the end of the decade.

If we are to be dictated by commentaries on social media alone, we will be sucked into a vortex of doom and gloom where everything has gone south and we should be defeated.

Social media, being free and rife, opens up also spaces for people to air their grievances whether valid or otherwise. But I believe we are maturing as a society and can learn to differentiate hate speech from the truth of good people trying to do good work to make a real difference for our future.

There is a lot going for us. Our GDP this year beat forecast to grow at 6.3%, while investments continue to impress even the cynical with its 12.1% spike this second quarter at RM53.1bil compared with the same period last year.

As a minister in the Economic Council, I was happy with the World Economic Forum’s resounding recognition of Malaysia as one of the world’s top 20 most competitive nations in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014. They described Malaysia as the highest ranked among the developing Asian economies and highlighted strengths in financial market development, efficiency in goods and services market, and a government that was able to tackle corruption and red tape.

This wasn’t the case just six years ago. In fact it was a whole different scenario, crippling even the best.

The US subprime meltdown sucker-punched Asia squarely in the gut and Malaysia was not spared. We had barely recovered from the economic hit of the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, weighed down in debt and struggling with a ballooning deficit.

Our Prime Minister stepped into leadership at a particularly chaotic and trying time. America and Europe had plunged into severe economic recession. Asia, skittishly reacting to plummeting demand for its products and services, suffered also a jittery, highly volatile and unpredictable capital market.

The world was mired with insecurities and some first world countries embarked on austerity measures that further slowed any hope for growth and momentum. It was a dark period, especially for a relatively small and open market like Malaysia, straining to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Our Prime Minister recognised we cannot continue with business as usual. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.

We had to act fast, and to take bold, radical steps to arrest slowdown, strengthen economic fundamentals and escalate efforts to grow our sectors to successfully compete with global players.

There was no room for complacency and half-measures.

The New Economic Model

Enter the New Economic Model. In 2009, a panel was convened to diagnose the nation’s economic health and to come up with a plan to transform government and the economy.

What really impressed me about the NEM was its mandate to pursue the high-income agenda, while keeping equally focused on inclusivity and sustainability.

I have often said that achieving high-income as a result of increasing GNI is easy enough. Do a few things right and we will get there.

But it is not enough. As a responsible government, we must make sure everyone benefits from prosperity. This wealth and wellbeing must be sustained so that our children and their children will live in a safe, progressive and prosperous nation.

Even developed countries struggle with the challenge of inclusivity. It is always missing in many international economic models resulting in unequal development – a combustible cocktail that has led to uprising and social dysfunctions as evident in the London riots, the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring.

Which brings me to this critical point that keeps governments awake at night – creating jobs for its people. There is no shortcut to this. It is the basis to secure stability and progress for any country, and allows people to feel confident and hopeful of their future.

The most sustainable way to create high value and quality jobs is through private investments. It is as simple and as complicated as that.

Investments

The domino effect of investment is obvious. Investments create jobs. The more people are gainfully employed, the more revenue a government will receive through tax and consumption. The more revenue we secure, the more government can spend on its people especially the poor and marginalised.

This is the “circle of life”, and private investment is the cog that will turn the wheel.

Under the ETP, private investment grew five times to 15.3% (CAGR 2010-2013) compared to 3.1% (CAGR 2007-2010). These are realised numbers and not merely committed so you can understand why I am very confident our economy is on track. (Chart 1)


Mida’s pipeline of approved investments in the last three years breezed past the goalpost of the 10th Malaysia Plan’s RM148bil annual target. In 2011, we recorded RM154.6bil, 2012 RM167.8bil and just last year, we chalked a whopping RM216.5bil. (Chart 2)

 

The ETP

Under the ETP, we deliberately chose the top 12 sectors which are strong revenue drivers and where we have the confidence to compete. These sectors alone will create 3.3 million high value, high income jobs by 2020.

In fact in 2010-2013, we logged 1.3 million employment in the NKEA universe, putting us on a sure footing.

In an advanced economy, workers will be paid higher wages, and this will lead to higher costs of production. In turn, we will experience a rise in the cost of living.

This is the flipside to being a high-income economy. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

As long as the rise in income is higher than cost of living people will enjoy higher disposable income.

Today we are already seeing and feeling its effects. With the enforcement of the Minimum Wage Gazette 2013, it is unacceptable for Malaysians to earn less than the Poverty Index Line at RM900 per month (For Sabah and Sarawak, it is at RM800 per month).

Many employers were worried their production costs will escalate and their businesses will shut down. But as evident in many countries applying the same principles, what we will see in due time is efficient use of labour and resources, adoption of technology and overall greater productivity.

Managing finances

The common gripe I hear from some quarters is that they don’t feel the nation’s growing prosperity affecting them in any tangible or meaningful way.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We are one of the most heavily subsidised nations in the world where our annual subsidy ticket in recent times rose to a massive RM40bil a year, of which half is used for fuel.

So it is fair to say, each time you fill up the tank in your vehicle, you are feeling the country’s prosperity.

I could draw up a list. Toll roads that crisscross the nation; public hospitals for consultancy and medication capped at RM1 since 1982; billions spent to keep electricity tariffs artificially low; and subsidised food items across the smorgasbord of gas, cooking oil and rice.

There are four ways to fix our problems:

1. Reduce expenses

We are carrying a debt burden of RM568.9bil since the 1998 crisis. The government has over the years, borrowed money for development as a result of channelling revenue to subsidies.

This is untenable and unsustainable with the ballooning subsidy bill.

It is easy to keep dolling out the feel-good factors of more and more subsidies. But living this fantasy will only plunge our next generation into a quagmire of liabilities and the slow debilitation of a society in regress.

We have to gradually reduce our subsidies. This is the bullet we have to bite.

To give you a sense of possibilities, if we were to reduce fuel subsidies by 30% or 50% – and it is a reasonable expectation – that will release about RM15bil-RM20bil that can make tremendous headways in the lives of the country’s bottom 40%.

2. Increase revenue

GST will come into effect next year and will broaden our tax base. Currently only 1 million people pay tax for a nation of 29 million.

As a consumption tax, anybody buying will be contributing to the national revenue. Of course basic products and services will be exempted from GST to safeguard the interests of the vulnerable.

Even at 6%, it is estimated that we will be able to capture RM22bil in revenue annually whereas with the current sales and services tax we have been able to earn about RM15bil-RM16bil annually.

Once we are able to reach the international benchmark for GST, the upside potential in terms of revenue is tremendous. We can do a lot for infrastructure and people development, and improve our social safety nets.

3. Reduce deficit

In 2013, Malaysia for the first time moved into the fiscal Safe Zone matrix developed by the Boston Consulting Group.
 

The “safe zone” is for countries whose public debt is below 75% of GDP and deficit is at 4% of GDP or below. Public debt equals or above the GDP and deficit of 8% and above places a country in the “Danger Zone”.

With much resolve, we reduced fiscal deficit in the last three years from 6.6% in 2009 to 3.9% last year. We remain on track for this year’s 3.5% reduction, and by 2020, are confident of hitting budget neutral, as targeted. We are also steadfast in maintaining our debt below the 55% legislated ceiling. (Chart 3)

4. Proliferation of entrepreneurship and innovation

I am passionate about efforts to create conditions for people to become self-employed and run thriving businesses.

There is much room for growth amongst Malaysian SMEs. Local businesses are fighting for slivers of a domestic pie when in reality the world has opened up to us. We must let go of our comfort zones and learn to ride the waves.

Although Malaysia entered the industrial sector aggressively at about the same time as Taiwan and South Korea, we lag behind them in terms of innovation. Samsung is a great example of brand that has captured the imagination of a global audience and today takes on the likes of Apple.

Agencies such as Mida, SME Corp and Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) are here to support local companies so they are able to step up but companies themselves must develop a strong appetite for competition and become global champions.

It is inaccurate to say the government is doing very little to make things better for the rakyat today. To put it into perspective, you will feel the transformation if you are the segments we are reaching out to:

> 5.16 million students benefit from highly subsidised public education

> School students have not been left out. 1.2 million tertiary education students received RM250 book vouchers via the Baucar Buku 1Malaysia, whilst 5.2 million students received RM100 via the Back to School Assistance initiative

> The government also opened 6,843 pre-school classes and trained 20,138 pre-school teachers. Total enrolment of pre-schooling children increased to 81.7% or 793,269 with more children having better access to quality early childhood education and getting a head start before primary school

> More than 10 million people use public hospitals and clinics, benefitting from affordable health and care in 2012 alone

> 4.6 million out of 6.5 million households benefit from free and low electricity tariff

> 22 million registered cars and motorcycles in Malaysia with 13 million licensed drivers directly enjoying cheap fuel everyday

> 4 million people are using toll roads in Malaysia

> Commuters on public transportation benefit from the additional 38 new six car train sets on the KTM Komuter service. We also introduced 35 sets of new four car trains for the LRT Kelana Jaya line, created a new integrated transport terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan and revamped Puduraya. They are now more spacious and convenient. Every single one of the 400,000 daily commuters feel the transformation.

> Tackling the bottom 40% enabled us to reach and improve the lives of 188,000 individuals who are now lifted out of poverty, of which 89% recorded increased income levels

> We worked on 54,000 hard core poor families and gave them cash every day in order to ensure they had enough to feed their children and put a roof over their heads

> In ‘teaching them how to fish’, these individuals were required to choose one of the 1AZAM programmes under the GTP so they could start their own small business and become self-sustainable

> Over 5,300 women entrepreneurs profited from training and reskilling to improve their economic value via micro credit assistance

> We have built over 4000 km of rural roads that is comparable to driving from Johor Baru to Dhaka, Bangladesh. About 2.1 million people have gained, allowing rural communities to trade and access goods and services

> 61,062 houses have been built and restored for the rural poor, benefiting 305,300 people

> Overall, a total of 5.1 million people have benefited from basic infrastructure such as new roads, and access to clean water and electricity

> Over 6.8 million low income Malaysians received assistance via BR1M

> Malaysia is only one of few countries that regulate and control many food items and this means all Malaysians can enjoy low food prices every day. Our CPI has been kept under check and has been easing slowly in recent months as prices begin to moderate

Government innovation

In July this year, Pemandu was rated one of the top 20 Leading Government Innovation Teams Worldwide by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Nesta. The accolade testifies to the commitment and work from our Prime Minister, ministries, agencies and civil servants.

It is also a recognition of Pemandu’s 8-step transformation process. A systematic and structured approach incorporating diagnosis, planning, execution and feedback – securing transparency and accountability.

Besides tracking Ministerial KPIs and holding regular Steering Committee Meetings, the Problem Solving Methodology (also known as the Putrajaya Inquisition) is held twice a year with the Prime Minister and top government officials to identify problems, make decisions and move milestone projects forward.

Success in sight

In the long-term, our economic transformation will bear fruits so all Malaysians – including the middle-class – will meaningfully gain. Better incomes, quality education, efficient public infrastructure, cleaner and greener cities, higher-paying jobs for graduates, and transparency and governance. These are fair expectations to ask of a government.

It is every government’s mandate to prioritise its citizen’s needs and to put in place policies that will safeguard the public’s wellbeing for this and future generations. We are no different. Even as we battle to steer the country into the economic ‘safe zone’, we must continue to be in service of the rakyat so that no one is left behind.

As evident, all of us are already ‘feeling’ the benefits of government initiatives in small and big ways and our lives are better for it.

It is about time we give credit where credit is due i.e. to our Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, Chief Secretary and the civil servants.

Our Prime Minister has provided the right leadership to steer us in transforming towards achieving vision 2020. There is no doubting the results delivered so far since he became Prime Minister, although more needs to be done.

Having worked in his Cabinet for the last five years, I can say categorically that he works extremely hard and is totally committed to doing what is best for the country.

Given the various polarities of views and divergence of opinions amongst our multi religious and multi-ethnic society, he is taking us through a path of moderation.

I know a lot of people would prefer him to take their extreme position but as the leader of our country, it takes wisdom on his part to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Even if he is often provoked, he is patient enough to stay the course of moderation for the sake of our beloved country, Malaysia

I am a believer that Malaysia will stride on regardless of the bumps on the path to 2020. We must be patient even as we relentlessly pursue our goals.

As a Malaysian and Sarawakian, I wish each and everyone Happy Malaysia Day.

 By Idris Jala Transformation Unplugged The Star

Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Fair and reasonable comments are most welcome at idrisjala@pemandu.gov.my

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Malaysian education: UPSR Exam leaks, okay to cheat our kids!


Testing times indeed!

The UPSR leak fiasco seems to suggest we are in a real state of crisis and we are sending out a wrong messages to our kids - it is okay to cheat!

IT’S really incredible how so many of us have reacted over the leaked examination papers of the UPSR, which is merely an assessment examination for Year Six pupils. Yes, for 12-year-old pupils who are taking their first public examination.

The UPSR, to put it bluntly, has no serious bearing on how these kids will perform in future examinations nor will it have any impact on their careers.

But I guess not many would agree with my somewhat frivolous perception of the UPSR, judging from the kind of reaction that seems to suggest we are in a real state of crisis.

Education Ministry officials have been suspended, there are allegations of sabotage, possibly even political ones, and the police have been called in.

We hope the Inspector-General of Police won’t have to personally head a task force to nab the culprits.

I am not sure whether parents are upset that the papers were leaked, which in itself is incredulous, and a resit would mean the children having to go through another round of pressure, or is it because their holiday plans are now ruined?

The sad reality is that this is a country where parents and students are obsessed with the number of distinctions that one gets in public examinations.

Nowhere in the world, except perhaps in some other East Asian countries, do examination results hit the front page of the newspapers, or lead off the prime time news on national television.

And each year, we compare results like the way public companies compare their profit margins. The pressure is always to trend upwards. So, the focus will invariably be about how many more students have the perfect string of As as compared to the year before, giving the impression that we are in the business of producing super achievers.

Although the majority of students do not belong in this category, the perception is created that super-duper results are the passport for our children to become doctors, lawyers and engineers, and nothing less.

And every year, we have the same problem where the demand for places in universities for these courses far outstrips supply simply because there are so many students with the “right grades”.

Yet, many employers and top-notch foreign universities do question whether their grades actually match their abilities, and have their own ways to sieve out the real talents.

There are suspicions that we have lowered the passing marks and compromised our standards and in the process allowed more students to get these distinctions.

Of course, there are many who truly deserve the As, but it is most unfortunate that there are also those whose As can be questioned.

Forgive me if I sound dismissive and cynical because I come from the old school where we took our first public examination at Standard Five. That was the assessment examination and most parents would not get excited over the outcome of our performance.

It was kid’s stuff and they knew there was little bearing on our future, except perhaps to be enrolled into better classes or schools at the secondary level.

But when we took the Form Three Lower Certificate of Education, which is today’s equivalent of the PMR, it was real serious. You got kicked out from school if you failed.

That’s how it worked at that time with no free ride to the Fifth Form. The LCE required compulsory passes in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mathematics.

The maximum number of As one could get was eight. If you got 5As, your name would probably show up in the newspapers.

But the standards were such that the grades truly reflected your real ability. An A in English for the LCE meant that you were speaking and writing the Queen’s English at that age already.

Today, most of our Form 3 students cannot even string a sentence together in English correctly. The fact that we are now considering including a compulsory pass in English at university level indicates that an A in that subject, whether at the UPSR, PMR or SPM level, is no longer an accurate reflection of one’s English proficiency.

After the LCE, we sat for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) where the maximum number of As was nine. It was a time when many Malaysians found places, on scholarships, to Ivy League universities in the United States and to Oxford or Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Yes, our MCE grades were deemed equal to the internationally-acknowledged O-Levels.

Now, despite the proliferation of the super achievers, we are told that fewer Malaysians are being admitted into these top universities.

And our students now have to prove their English proficiency to handle tertiary education overseas by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) paper.

Let’s get our priorities right. The fact that the English paper was leaked even at Year Six level suggests that students are looking for help to pass a subject which they know is important.

What a contrast from those days when we had English-medium schools and getting a pass in English was not all that difficult.

And it is not just about the students. Two years ago, it was revealed that two-thirds of the 70,000 teachers who teach English in the country failed to meet the proficiency level in English for the Cambridge Placement Test.

The findings were revealed by the then Education Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof.

“When we did the initial profiling of the English teachers in Malaysia, we found that two-thirds of the teachers did not meet the proficiency level,” Dr Khair, who is now the director-general, was quoted as saying.

We really should be worried about how we can improve the standard of our education. There are many who love to score political points out of issues that affect our children’s education, including the UPSR leak fiasco.

We should start by doing a survey on how many of these politicians actually send their children to the government schools. Or are their own children not part of the system, but are instead in private or international schools, or even boarding schools overseas?

Let’s not play around with our children’s future. Year Six students shouldn’t be subjected to pressure cooker conditions in preparing for the examinations. And with this leak, we are now sending out a message that it is okay to cheat, even at this tender age.

Contributed by Wong Chun Wai on the beat The Star/Asia News Network

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group's managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.
http://www.wongchunwai.com/
On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

The best leaders are learners


One year ago, at a youth camp, a student who had been put in charge of his group confided in me that leading his team members wasn’t going as well as he had thought it would. “I’m just not cut out to be a leader,” he said, as he related to me what he thought a leader should have, which he didn’t: humour, confidence, wisdom and courage.

My reply to him, as one still understanding the ropes of what it truly means to lead was, “all these can be learnt, if you put your heart to it”.

It is said that there are approximately 50,000 books on leadership that are published annually – and this number may well be a conservative estimate – but if there is one indication that there is no final “destination” in this journey of becoming a leader, it is the countless number of resources that teach us how to better develop our awareness and management of ourselves and others.

Leadership is a relational endeavour; one cannot claim to be a leader without being able to inspire an action or a reaction in others. And because relationships are complex, one can only lead to the extent that he or she learns.

On the surface, it is painfully obvious that learning is imperative for any human enterprise – but I’d argue that in the long run, learning qualifies you to lead more than anything else (beyond promotions, positions, placement and power).

Here are three reasons why:

1 Learning equalises the years

How often have you heard the Chinese adage (often spoken by the elderly to the young), “I eat more salt than you eat rice”?

What is it about being “older” that makes one a wiser and better decision-maker? I’m convinced that the difference is not a matter of “years”, but a matter of “experience”.

We learn from our experiences, and our past outcomes that resulted in both positive and negative actions inform us as we negotiate between present choices.

But if experiences make us wiser, how do we attain more “experience”? Is “experience” purely a byproduct of the passing years, or can we, in the words of Sir Isaac Newton, see further into the future “by standing on the shoulders of giants”?

When we capitalise on the learnings and lessons of others and apply them in our lives, we are able to short-circuit the common bind of “years equals to experience” and accelerate our growth without wasting the time others have wasted.

Great leaders often ask themselves, “How can I avoid making the same mistakes, or how can I replicate others’ successes and take them further?”

2 Learning keeps you humble

Learning and humility feed off each other. On the other hand, the antithesis of humility, which is pride, has the sinister ability to deceive anyone into believing that he or she has “arrived”, that there is no need to adapt or change further, because he or she is superior and above reproach.

In contrast, great leaders are often the most humble people who are secure in themselves and do not see the need to put others down to elevate themselves.

John F. Kennedy once said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

Interestingly, most US Presidents were avid readers who invested much of their time in learning, despite their busy schedules.

It is said that Theodore Roosevelt read two books a day, while Abraham Lincoln, who had only one year of formal education, attributed his successful political career to his habit of reading.

A strong learning posture allows you to see from different perspectives, live in the experiences of others, and most importantly, empathise with other points-of-view.

It is only when a person is an avid learner that he or she is continually challenged in his or her current views, and thus able to grow in convictions. It is only when a cup is empty, that it can be filled.

Maintaining humility allows us to be intellectually curious – and curiosity always precedes discovery and creativity.

3 Learning enables you to give

Somewhere during my college years, an epiphany occurred to me: How much can I learn and grow, if I were to dedicate all my transit and waiting moments to learning something new?

In my frustration of waiting and chasing for buses to get to college, I found a treasure chest.

I had realised that an average Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley resident would spend approximately 10 to 15 hours per week travelling, either by inching through heavy traffic or waiting at bus stops and light rail transit (LRT) stations, and what a waste of time it would be if all that time was given to staring into space or letting one’s thoughts run idle.

I then made a concrete decision to listen to podcasts, audio books (when I would be driving) or to read (when I was waiting for the bus or LRT), in order to redeem that precious time.

I have since listened to over 700 hours of podcasts on topics related to public speaking, general knowledge, story-telling, leadership, faith and personal development.

My greatest learning moments are no longer in the classroom, but in my car, when I am alone and can learn something new.

During the course of the last two years, as a teacher in a high-needs school and a church leader, these moments of learning and reflection allowed me to pass on what I learnt to my students and congregation.

Those opportunities gave me great pleasure, as I was communicating to others what I had learnt and internalised for myself. I never felt “burnt out” because the stream of learning was always flowing.

Leadership may have many faces, but all leaders have the same outstretched hand of giving. And we can only give from what we have learnt. The good news is that leadership can be learnt – if we put our hearts to it.

Contributed by Abel Cheah

Abel Cheah is associate manager in the Talent Acquisition team at Teach For Malaysia. He believes that leadership is something that is nurtured and cultivated. If you are interested in listening to podcasts, he highly recommends Umano (an app that narrates articles). He believes that the best leaders are great lovers of learning. You can get in touch with him at editor@leaderonomics.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

13 years after 9/11: ISIS in Middle East, Muslim Terrorists from Malaysia and China ...

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/special-report-president-obama-outlines-isis-strategy/

9/11 prompted end of US arrogance

Was it the day which changed the world? Scholars are still pondering on the impact of the September 11 attacks on US foreign policy.

Those who consider the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 as a turning point mainly attribute the subsequent US military reaction to their trauma.

Others who disagree with this perspective employ a rather different argument. They claim that this catastrophic incident only highlighted Washington's unilateralism, which had been already apparent during the first months of George W. Bush's presidency and the last years of Bill Clinton's administration.

Nonetheless, Washington's response, and especially the war on Iraq, has changed the world indeed.

Advocates of the war in the US claimed that this military campaign was a necessary decision in the context of the international fight against terrorism and the need of a preemptive action against the usage of weapons of mass destruction by dictators.

But the result of the preventive war against Iraq has been rather dramatic. It left chaos not only in Iraq, but in the wider Middle East. The recent success and advance of the Islamic State (IS) outline that stability is a utopian dream at present.

Terrorist groups give the impression of a modern hydra which grows more heads for each one cut off. Few outside of Iraq could recognize the IS last year. But now it is widely considered as a new international threat jeopardizing security in the Middle East and defying human dignity, as in the brutal and videoed beheadings of journalists.

Instead of spreading democracy in the Middle East, the US is continuously involved in new battles and adventures. Its military victories are Pyrrhic, while the risk for the opening of new fronts in the future is high.

More importantly, the lack of clear political objectives complicates its efforts to deliver at the international level. Washington is not responsible for existing internal tensions, ethnic, religious, or political, in the Arab world, but it often incites them through its interventionism.

The image of the US in the Arab world remains problematic 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, just 10 percent of respondents in Egypt and 12 percent in Jordan hold a favorable view of Washington.

Anti-Americanism has been recently on the rise due to additional issues, such as the monitoring actions of the National Security Agency and the use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Pew Research Center also reveals that China is more popular than the US in the Middle East, with 49 percent of respondents holding favorable views of Beijing and just 30 percent of Washington.

We cannot tell how the map of the Middle East might have been shaped without the war on Iraq. Some Western policymakers insist that the world is safer as a result of US foreign policy in the aftermath of 9/11. Reality, however, challenges this view, and shows that the brief period of US dominance looks to be over.

A new multipolar world has been created in recent years. Washington's failure in Iraq and the ensuing economic crisis have seriously hit its post-Cold War superiority.

In parallel with this, the rise of new countries such as China has started to alter the balance at the global level. This new environment is perhaps the most significant evolution of the post-9/11 era.

The study of international relations has to closely follow developments. Ironically, in spite of critical changes such as the relevant fall of the US and the rise of China, a basic factor remains constant. This is the success of terrorism. It was Al Qaeda 13 years ago and it is the IS now, as far as the Middle East is concerned.

The new multipolar world requires international cooperation more than ever. Arrogant foreign policy choices can no longer find a place.

By George N. Tzogopoulos Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-10 19:23:01
The author is a research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

To Destroy ISIS in Middle East and Syria! 



From Malaysia ISA to IS - Islamic State Terrorists

He lived hereMohammad Fadhlan’s family home in Kampung Bukit Kabu, Kulim. The self-proclaimed jihadist was killed during an attack by Syrian warplanes and tanks.

Fighting for a faraway cause: (top left) Mohd Lofti, Zainuri, Mohd Rafi, (lower left) Samad, Zid Saharani among the five former ISA detainee who had gone to Syria along with Zainan (lower right), who was recently killed.

PETALING JAYA: Five former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees are among 40 Malaysians who have joined up with the Islamic State militants in war-torn Syria where multiple factions are vying for supremacy.

The five are former Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM) members Zainuri Kamaruddin and Rafi Udin along with former Jemaah Islamiah (JI) operative Samad Shukri and Zid Saharani Mohamad Esa.

Former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, 45, rounded up the list.

Sources said that Zainuri, Rafi and Samad had gone to Syria on April 18 along with recently killed Jihadist Zainan Harith, also known as Abu Turob.

The latest Malaysian to be killed in the conflict was Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, from Kedah. He was killed while fleeing an attack by Syrian government forces on Tuesday.

“Zainan was killed in an attack in Syria which left the other three severely injured. The authorities believe all the former ISA detainees are still in Syria fighting for a militant group,” a source said.

It is learnt that the five along with Zainan, were deeply influenced by extremist teachings and would often keep to themselves.

“It can be said that those who went to fight in Syria are very similar to each other. They believe that almost any means justifies the ends thus they are willing to do almost anything to justify their false jihad,” a source said.

In Malaysia, they held meetings dubbed “Usra” in random locations to avoid detection.

“These Usra included planning attacks and heists to fund the extremist movement. Their ultimate goal was to bear arms and fight in Syria,” the source said.

Surveillance by the authorities also resulted in various “Usra” locations being identified in the Klang Valley. Among the locations were Puchong, Shah Alam and Puncak Alam in Klang.

Aside from planning, the Usra was also used to invite “key” speakers, including jailed JI leader Abubakar Basyir. It is learnt that Abu Bakar gave various talks between 1998 and 2000 to further indoctrinate the followers.

Citing the example of Zainan, a former KMM member, the source explained that the 52-year-old man would distance himself from the family.

“If he did talk to his wife or other family members, it was about religious matters,” he said.

It is learnt that Zainan did not finish secondary school and joined the “tabliq” (missionary) movement soon after dropping out.

“He spent most of his time at the mosque in Taman Datuk Harun here. In 2000, while with KMM, Zainan was involved in the Hong Leong Bank heist in Petaling Jaya along with four others. They escaped with RM110,000 in cash,” the source said.

This was followed by a string of robberies, including a weapons raid on the Guar Cempedak police station and Southern Bank in Petaling Jaya. “Zainan was finally arrested in 2001 and released from prison in 2010,” the source said.

When he left for Syria in April, Zainan did not even tell his wife about it. He just threw the car keys and said he was leaving.

“He only contacted the wife when he was in transit to Syria. They have been in constant contact via Whatsapp since – until their last communication on Aug 15,” the source said.

The source said the wife, who works in a private company, never suspected that Zainan would be involved in illegal activities, let alone extremism.

“She is used to his mysterious nature, having not told the wife when he went to Cambodia for some humanitarian work. The wife also learned not to ask any question as Zainan never brought any friends home,” the source said.

By Farik Zolkepli The Star/Asia News Network

Youngest jihadist is second Malaysian to be killed in Syria

Mohd Fadhlan youngest Malaysian jihadist in Syria.

PETALING JAYA: As Syrian jet fighters and tanks fired on a militant base in east Hama, Syria, in a daylight attack, the self-proclaimed jihadists, which included several Malaysian volunteers, fled in trucks and other vehicles.

Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, from Kedah, was in one truck when he was hit by shrapnel and fell out of the speeding vehicle during the assault on Tuesday morning.

A tank was firing on the truck so the driver could not stop to enable the other passengers to pick up Mohammad Fadhlan, a fellow Malaysian jihadist Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim revealed.

Militants in another truck managed to pull him into their vehicle shortly after but he was mortally wounded and died minutes later.

“Fadhlan died in the arms of a comrade,” Salman said.

Mohammad Fadhlan is believed to be the youngest Malaysian jihadist and is the second Malaysian to be killed in the ongoing conflict between the militants and the President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The attack also wounded two other Malaysians: former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, 45, and another known only as Abu Agfhan.

Mohammad Fadhlan’s mother Fatimah Md Lazim, 55, identified his body from photographs, according to a source here. His remains were buried in east Hama.

His father Mohammad Khir Ismail, 59, has not been told of his death, reports ROYCE TAN.

“We have yet to break the news to our father because he is bedridden after suffering a stroke.

We don’t think he will take the news well,” said Mohammad Fadhlan’s brother Firdaus, 27, at the family home in Kampung Bukit Kabu in Mahang Karangan, Kulim, yesterday.

Mohammad Fadhlan was the fifth among eight children in the family. He has four sisters and three brothers, aged eight to 29.

He went to Syria on May 13 via Istanbul.

“He sent our mother a text message on May 14 telling her he was going to fight in Syria. We didn’t believe it at first. We only realised he was serious when we saw his Facebook postings,” said Firdaus.

After that, Mohammad Fadhlan did not keep in touch with his family.

“We tried sending him messages on Facebook but he never replied,” Firdaus said.

The first Malaysian militant to die in Syria was Abu Turob, 52, who was killed during an attack by tanks and snipers on Aug 19.

Another militant, Pahang-born Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, died in Iraq when he drove a military vehicle packed with explosives into a SWAT headquarters and detonated it, killing 25 soldiers in May.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

China unlikely to step into IS fray

Washington to extend airstrikes to Syria

China is unlikely to directly join in the current stage of the US-led fight against the radical Islamic State (IS) but will provide moral support instead, analysts said Thursday, following US President Barack Obama's call to build a broad anti-IS coalition to crush jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

In a broad escalation of the fight against the IS, which occupies large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, Obama said in a televised speech Wednesday night that the US will extend airstrikes to Syria and expand operations in Iraq.

Obama also said he was building a broad anti-IS coalition involving Sunni-led governments in the region and Western allies.

His speech came after reports that US National Security Adviser Susan Rice requested China's support in forming the coalition during her visit to Beijing earlier this week. The Washington Post quoted an anonymous official as saying that, "The Chinese expressed interest [at the proposal]."

On Thursday, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, didn't directly respond to the question of whether China will join the coalition, but said "China is ready to abide by the principle of mutual respect, equality and cooperation in strengthening anti-terrorist cooperation with the rest of the international community and maintaining global peace and stability."

Dong Manyuan, a deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that he does not expect China to directly step into the fray, despite some shared interests between the US and China in combating terrorism.

Last week, Iraq's defense ministry posted on its Facebook page photos that it said show a captured Chinese man fighting on behalf of the IS, reported the New York Times.

The Chinese government has yet to confirm the report, but various sources previously suggested that jihadists from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are fighting alongside IS fighters in Syria.

Wu Sike, China's former special envoy to the Middle East, told a press conference in late July that around 100 jihadists from Xinjiang, most of whom are members of the separatist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement, are fighting or being trained in the Middle East.

Turmoil in Iraq, a major source of China's oil imports, also posed a threat to Chinese businesses operating in the country.

Zhao Weiming, a professor of Middle East Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, said China may support the US in its fight against the IS, but that its support will be limited to the diplomatic level, and "it is not going to participate in any military actions against the IS."

However, Zhao told the Global Times that support for the US fight against the IS doesn't mean that China supports all US military actions carried out in the name of fighting terrorism.

"China opposes the US using anti-terrorism as an excuse to serve its own ends," he said, referring to the US decision to strike Syria.

Obama Wednesday also asked Congress to authorize $500 million to train and arm "moderate" Syrian rebels outgunned by the IS and President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"We hold that in the international struggle against terrorism, international law should be respected, as well as the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries concerned," Hua told Thursday's press briefing.

The US plan for airstrikes in Syria drew protest from Ali Haidar, Syria's Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs, who said any military action without Damascus' permission is an act of aggression.

"China might give a tacit consent to strikes against IS targets [in Syria], but it has a bottom line - no attack on Syrian government targets or civilian facilities," Zhang Jiadong, a professor with the Center for American Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Zhang added that China will not allow the US to weaken Assad's regime or destabilize Syria under the disguise of anti-terrorism.

China's stated policy is consistently one of non-intervention, which has been criticized by some observers in the West. In an August interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said China has been a "free rider" for the last 30 years, referring to the crisis in Iraq.

Dong argued that US Middle East policy is the cause for turmoil in the region, and has forced some Chinese companies to pull out of the region. "The US not only failed to give Chinese companies a free ride, but actually made trouble for them."

Zhao shared similar views, noting that China played a significant role in Iraq and Afghanistan's reconstruction following US-led wars, and contributed to local economic development.

In the fight against the IS, Zhang noted that China can play a unique role in bridging the differences between Washington and Damascus.

US hostility toward both Assad's regime and the IS, combined with close ties between Damascus and Baghdad, have made it very difficult for the US to carry out its policy, as its anti-terrorist efforts might be offset by the complex situation, Zhang told the Global Times.

"China should press the US to change its policy toward Damascus, and push for national rebuilding in Syria to ensure its stability and security and weaken the foundation of the IS," he said.

By Yang Jingjie Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-12 0:53:01

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    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    China cutting edge technologies: Naval Missile Defense Unveiled, Hypersonic Surpasses US

    • China’s defensive missile technology makes strides

    • China’s defensive missile technology makes strides. A number of antiship cruise missiles, or ASCMs have been deployed in multiple PLA naval drills this year. They also been sold to other navies around the world. China’s long-range, multi-purpose, all-weather, anti-ship cruise missiles, C802A...


    Naval missile defense system unveiled

    China revealed its HongQi-10 surface-to-air missile system for the first time Wednesday.

    The advanced system, which can mitigate the threat from low-altitude anti-ship missiles, was unveiled during a China Central Television (CCTV) report.

    As a naval point-defense missile system, HongQi-10 boasts a particularly quick response to low-altitude missiles that area-defense systems fail to intercept. It has a high success rate in intercepting them, Lan Yun, deputy chief editor of Modern Ships, told the Global Times.

    The point-defense missile system defends a warship against rockets over a limited area. It is in contrast to an area-defense system that targets medium- and long-range objects with slower response and lower success rate.

    HongQi-10 can be prepared to launch missiles in about 10 seconds and aims at missiles only 1.5 to 10 meters above the sea level, Lan said.

    The advanced system, equipped with both infrared and microwave seekers, can secure naval ships against anti-ship missiles outfitted with either infrared or microwave radiation, Lin Yuchen, a missile expert of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, told CCTV.

    The dual seeker missiles can combat interference from jamming, since an infrared seeker is always combined with a radar seeker that often detects waves whose wavelengths are longer than microwaves, said naval expert Li Jie.

    In addition to maritime defense, the low- to medium-level air defense system is also designed to protect ground forces from air attacks by jets, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles, said Lin.

    Such small missile system can be widely deployed due to its agility, he added.

    The system was adopted by the Liaoning aircraft carrier and the type 056 corvette in 2011, said Lan.

    By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-11 0:58:06

    Related: 


    China Surpasses US in Hypersonic Weapons


     

    The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon concept conducts its first flight in 2011 (Army photo)

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140829072943-62667533-china-surpasses-us-in-hypersonic-weapons

    National Defense magazine publishes an article by Valerie Insinna titled “US, China in Race to Develop Hypersonic Weapons”, stating that only two countries in the world China and the US have succeeded in testing their hypersonic weapons. The article fails to describe the application of such weapons, but focus on defense against such weapons.
    There are detailed descriptions about China’s hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) in my book. I have only to point out:

    1. Chinese HGV has achieved a speed of Mach 10 while the US one, only Mach 5.

    2. China will develop HGV with the speed of Mach 22 launched from its space-air bomber.

    Mach 10 means 3.3 km per second. If launched from the height of 100 km low orbit of a satellite, it takes 30 seconds, an HGV reaches its target. Rich Fisher’s rail gun needs 2 minutes; therefore, there is no defense against a Mach 10 HGV.

    If the HGV flies at a speed of Mach 22, it takes only 12 seconds!

    That is why China adopts the Space Era Strategy to develop integrated space and air capabilities. The US, however, sticks to its outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle. It focuses on defense instead of attack and is, therefore, doomed to defeat.

    ICBM was first developed in early 1960s, but even now more than 50 years later, we still cannot 100% intercept it. Our interception system will be regarded as very good if the rate of interception is 50%.

    The US has not yet been able to produce workable HGV, but focus on development of weapons to defend it. Why? Because it has to protect the major weapons of its Air-Sea Battle—its very expensive nuclear aircraft carriers.

    In space era, aircraft carrier is obsolete.

    The following is the full text of the magazine’s article:

    US, China in Race to Develop Hypersonic Weapons
    By Valerie Insinna

    On the heels of reports that China had successfully completed a second ultra-high-speed missile flight test, the Defense Department announced on Aug. 25 that it had aborted a test of its own hypersonic weapon.

    The military is investigating the “anomaly” responsible for the test failure, but analysts told National Defense that the incident was not a major setback for the program.

    "It's a glitch. These are weapons that operate under fantastic stresses,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “Failure is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if data can be gathered so that you learn from your mistake.”

    “These weapons are traveling at such fantastic speeds and they are required to be capable of such accuracy that it is simply going to require an extensive development program to achieve a point where they can be considered ready for the field,” he added.

    The Aug. 25 test of the advanced hypersonic weapon was aborted because of an unspecified flight anomaly, according to a Defense Department news release. “The test was terminated near the launch pad shortly after liftoff to ensure public safety. There were no injuries to any personnel,” the release read.

    Testers made the decision to destroy the rocket within four seconds of its launch at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, said Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman. She was not able to provide additional information on what the anomaly was or how it was detected.

    The advanced hypersonic weapon is just one of the technologies under development in the conventional prompt global strike program, she said. The goal is to create a menu of precision strike options that would be able to hit anywhere in the world in under an hour.

    U.S. program officials are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of this Monday’s test failure, said Schumann. The investigation will likely take “weeks or months” to finish and will inform future tests and scheduling.

    The August test was the second flight of the advanced hypersonic weapon, Schumann said. “The objective of the test was to develop and demonstrate hypersonic boost glide enabling technologies and collect data on flight vehicle and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flights.”

    The United States may not be the only country that has been testing high-speed weapons this month. China conducted the second test flight of its hypersonic glide vehicle — called the Wu-14 — on Aug. 7, unnamed U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon.

    Schumann would not confirm whether the Chinese military had executed a second Wu-14 test in August. Earlier this year, the Pentagon confirmed the Wu-14’s first flight test in January.

    Based on the available evidence, including Chinese reports circulating the internet, it seems probable that there was a second Wu-14 test recently, Fisher said.

    "China and the United States are seeking to develop the same range of hypersonic weapons, both boost-glide or hypersonic glide vehicles, and future air-breathing hypersonic vehicles, such as scram jets,” Fisher said.

    The U.S. program appears to have progressed further, “but the Chinese program may be better funded and have greater depth in terms of the commitment of intellectual and development resources,” he said.

    Mark Gunzinger, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said he is skeptical that China’s development of hypersonic weapons has matured past that of the United States.

    “We hear about the successes and not the failures” of the Chinese program, he said. “They could have had dozens of failures that we know nothing about, at least in public.”

    Hypersonic weapons could be operational within a decade, Gunzinger said. The challenge, especially in a budget-conscious environment, will be figuring out how to drive down manufacturing costs.

    “Can we find a sweet spot in hypersonic weapons where the price point is right and we can buy enough of them?” he asked.

    One of the reasons why hypersonic weapons are so highly coveted is because they are difficult to shoot down, Fisher said. Directed energy weapons, such as a hypersonic capable rail gun or laser, could offer a way to counter hypersonic missiles.

    "If you have two to four rail guns for example, [and] you get maybe a two-minute warning that a hypersonic warhead is coming at you, that's enough time to put into the sky clouds of hypersonic rail gun rounds that are designed like shotgun shells,” he said. “They'll release into the air 100 to 200 tungsten pellets. Even if the hypersonic warhead is maneuvering, you're likely to knick it with one of these pellets, and that alone will make the warhead tumble out of control."

    The United States appears to be further along in its efforts to develop directed energy weapons, although China’s program is not particularly transparent, Fisher said.

    The Navy in April unveiled a high-speed electromagnetic rail gun capable of launching projectiles at speeds up to 5,600 miles per hour. The service has also tested its laser weapons system at sea, proving that it could shoot down small unmanned aircraft.

    That laser currently lacks the power and range necessary to destroy a hypersonic glide vehicle, but it could become powerful enough in the next decade to shoot down such weapons, Fisher said. A hypersonic speed capable rail gun is possible in the early 2020s, he added.

    Gunzinger said it may be too difficult to intercept a hypersonic missile with a high-powered laser, but rail guns could be well suited for those missions.

    The advanced hypersonic missile was developed by Sandia National Laboratory and the Army. Its first flight test took place in November 2011 and was successful, with the missile traveling from Hawaii and hitting a target at the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands.

    Source: Chan Kai Yee “Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The US”

    Source: National Defense magazine “US, China in Race to Develop Hypersonic Weapons”

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    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Sino-Japanese thaw checklists


    China and Japan are both keen to alleviate tensions, but some actions need to be taken for this to happen.

    AT the recent Asean Foreign Ministers meeting in Myanmar, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on the sidelines with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Even though it was brief, it marked the first time since bilateral tensions began that top officials of both countries have met each other.

    Does this signal the beginning of a reconciliation between the two Asian giants? Not likely.

    There are four major reasons, which are deep seated and multifaceted, militating against a genuine reconciliation. The first is the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands where conflicting claims based on history are unlikely to be resolved as neither side seems willing to budge.

    Japan claims that the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were terra nullis (unoccupied) when seized by them along with Taiwan in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, while the Chinese on their part insisted that there was evidence of Chinese settlement before the war.

    The stakes have been heightened with talk of the presence of oil and gas reserves around the islands.

    The second is also about history, not so much as a basis for territorial claim but of contrasting interpretations by both sides of the Japanese war record in Asia.

    Many Japanese believe that their colonising attempts in East Asia were in the spirit of the times, no more illegitimate than western colonisation of Asia.

    Why should so much be made of their colonisation and not that of the West? Also, some Japanese have even gone into denial mode, denying the existence of Japanese atrocities or if undeniable, downplaying the magnitude.

    One such case is over the Nanjing Massacre. Some have denied its existence while others dispute the figures as given by the Chinese of 300,000 dead, arguing that the number is much smaller.

    The Chinese give short shrift to the “no different from the West” argument as the Chinese were the colonised or semi-colonised victims.

    Moreover, many Chinese also contend that even if the figures for the massacre were smaller (widely accepted figures range from 40,000 to 200,000), it is still a massacre.

    A complicating aspect is that many Japanese, including their government, have conceded some wrongdoing and have apologised but the Chinese refuse to accept.

    The Chinese refusal, these Japanese believe, suggests the Chinese want to use this to hold Japan to some kind of ransom whereas the Chinese do not believe the Japanese apologies are sincere.

    And the third, a complex one, is the identification of enmity with the other with a powerful nationalist stream in either China or Japan. In the Chinese case, modern Chinese nationalism has roots in the anti-Japanese war.

    It is contended by some that the Chinese communists find it useful to bolster their nationalist credentials by taking an anti-Japanese stance. And by the same token, the Japanese conservatives may find it useful to utilise anti-China sentiments among the Japanese to promote their agenda.

    Anti-Japanese or anti-Chinese sentiments have their political uses.

    And fourth, Japan is increasingly spooked by the rise of China, not because of the much played-up heavy increase in military expenditure. It is hard to see how China can be a greater threat to Japan, which has United States protection, in a few years time with increased military spending than now.

    Rather, Japan fears being relegated to an inferior partner in bilateral relations they had dominated for more than a hundred years, and even more by being rendered irrelevant in Asia by this China rise.

    Japan increasingly cannot abide sits irrelevance (witness Prime Minister Shinzo Abe going abroad and insisting in English, “Japan matters!”).

    Many Japanese, not least Abe, believe Japan can only matter if China is checked.

    Yet it is not in the interest of both for the tensions to continue as it would affect economic relations. Take for example bilateral trade.

    It has deteriorated. In 2011, bilateral total trade amounted to about US$345bil (RM1.09 trillion). It went down to about US$333bil (RM1.06 trillion) in 2012 and further to US$312bil (RM992bil) in 2013.

    There may be other factors contributing to the drop but bilateral tensions cannot be discounted as a reason. And more important, there is always the danger that conflicts could break out arising from accidental ship or airplane collisions, which might even lead to war with all its horrendous consequences.

    I believe both sides are keen to alleviate tensions or achieve a thaw, even if genuine reconciliation is a long way off. Some action however needs to be taken in two areas for this to happen.

    One, the Abe government should refrain from practising some of the more offensive aspects of his nationalism, the chief of which is not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine.

    There has been an example in the past where a Prime Minister, Yasuhiro Nakasone, stopped his Yasukuni visit because of what he said were diplomatic reasons. Abe could use a similar reason.

    The Chinese could reciprocate by toning down their campaign of condemning Japanese war iniquities and their lack of contrition. This could improve the atmosphere

    Second, as suggested by Kevin Rudd and Joseph Nye in a Washington Post piece, steps should be taken to return the Senkakus/Diaoyu islands dispute to the agreement by Chou Enlai and Kakuei Tanaka in 1972 to leave the dispute to be solved by subsequent generations. (Some Japanese deny there was such an agreement.)

    Rudd and Nye continued that the disputed islands and the surrounding areas be turned into a maritime ecological preserve where there will be no human habitation or usage for military purposes.

    Where possible, joint exploration between both countries should be encouraged.

    It is not necessary to state that such a thaw can only come about from politically courageous acts by both leaders. If such is forthcoming, than there is hope for a genuine rapprochement in the future.

     Commented by Dr Lee Poh Ping The Star/Asia News Network
    > Dr Lee Poh Ping is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of China Studies in the University of Malaya. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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    Dr Lee Poh Ping is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of China Studies in the University of Malaya. The views expressed here are entirely the writer's own. http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20130726/100500.shtml

    An utterly unrepentant Japan opening up past wounds derail peace diplomacy

    An utterly unrepentant Japan opening up past wounds derail peace diplomacy. Whatever declarations Japanese leaders may make about the aims of their visits to the Yasukuni Shrine being only to honour their war dead, the ...


    The ghosts of Japan's imperial past have returned to haunt the nation, its government, and the other countries in this region. IF anyone still .... 6.An utterly unrepentant Japan opening up past wounds derail peace diplomacy 7.
     
    DR LEE POH PING - CURRICULUM VITAE
    PERSONAL DETAIL

    Name
      Dr. Lee Poh Ping
    Designation
      Senior Research Fellow
    Department
      Institute of China Studies
    Faculty
      Deputy Vice Chancellor(Research & Innovation)
    E-mail Address
      pohpinglee@um.edu.my
    ResearcherID Link
      http://www.researcherid.com/rid/B-8839-2010
    Address(Office)
      Institute of China Studies, Deputy Vice Chancellor(Research & Innovation) Building, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA

    ACADEMIC QUALIFICATION
    (Qualification), (Institution).
    PhD(Government) (1974), CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHACA
    BA (History) (1967), UNIVERSITY OF MALAYA (UM)

    RECENT SELECTED PUBLICATIONS
    (Publication).
     
    Article In Academic Journals
     
    2012

    Fan Pik Wah & Lee Poh Ping.2012.Writing an Alternative View of History through Fiction: the Novels of Xiao Hei. Foreign Literature Studies 34 5) 142-149. (ISI/SCOPUS Cited Publication)

    AREAS OF RESEARCH
    (Project title), (Role), (From)-(Until), (Source), (Level).

    THE CHINA MODEL: IMPLICATIONS OF THE CONTEMPORARY RISE OF CHINA, Co-Investigator, 2013-2015, HIR

    Mencatat Isu-isu Sensitif Selepas Kemerdekaan Malaysia: Kajian Novel Xiao Hei, Co-Investigator, 2012-2013, Geran Penyelidikan Universiti Malaya (UMRG), National