Monday, December 22, 2014

Education: alleviating poverty or causing it, funding children with retirement fund?

It is not prudent to fund children’s education with your retirement fund

EDUCATION is the social game changer. In poor countries, it alleviates poverty. In developing nations like Malaysia, a more educated population can catapult us to developed status.

Scores of parents are striving hard to send their children to international schools to gain the holistic education, have better choices of tertiary institutions and have access to better paying jobs.

Borrowing future funds

Sending children to international schools is deemed the ticket out of mediocrity in Malaysia and to have a fighting chance in the global job market. But to what end?

Whether it is using EPF savings or selling off property to fund children’s private or international school education, this can be costly to many middle-class parents. While it may be acceptable to borrow funds to ensure our children get better secondary or tertiary education as they can always pay off the loans when they become employed, it is harder to replace “lost” retirement funds.

Therefore, it is not a prudent move to use funds meant for retirement as the fund is most needed when the “parents” are not at income-generating age any more.

Prioritising funds

With today’s Gen X-ers who are becoming parents at later age, we not only have to nurture our children but also care for our ageing parents whilst saving for our retirement. Prioritising investments is key.

1. Be realistic. Parents want the best for our children. If education savings are started early to take advantage of compounding effect, that’s great. If funds only permit an overseas tertiary education, then find the best local education option as our children can still experience holistic learning during university years abroad.

2. Gen Y-er parent, start investing now into a diversified portfolio. It is already too late if you have not started, as the cost of education will only increase.

3. Education is not just about getting the paper qualification. It is about learning. Parents can show kids new ways to learn without busting purses. Take advantage of free online courses like TedTalk or Khan Academy and “experiences” offered by museums, art galleries, nature trips and even playtime in the park.

By CHEONG WAI KUAN, VICE-PRESIDENT OF SUCCESS CINCEPTS LIFE PARTNERS

The writer can be contacted at info@successconcepts.biz / http://www.successconcepts.biz/ The Star/Asia News Network

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

2015 Hack of a year ahead!

2014 has seen a tsunami of epic hacks and identity thefts, including the recent massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Security experts are predicting more or worse cases of such hackings, including in Malaysia where the awareness of cyber threats and security measures is still very low


Brace for more cyber attacks

PETALING JAYA: If you think that a cyber attack like what happened to Sony Pictures Entertainment could only happen in Hollywood, think again.

It is a sign of what’s to come globally in 2015, say cyber security experts.

In the attack on Sony on Nov 24, the attackers hacked the company’s network and took terabytes of private data, deleted original copies from the company’s computers and left messages threatening to release the information if Sony did not comply with their demands.

Nigel Tan, director of systems engineering for software security firm Symantec Malaysia said the prominent data leaks of 2014 would keep cyber security in the spotlight in 2015.

“With the interconnected nature of a global Internet and cloud infrastructures, cross-border flow of data is unavoidable and needs to be appropriately addressed.

“Malaysia was affected in the data breaches this year and will continue to be affected next year,” he said.

Tan recalled a hack last month by a site called Insecam, which downloaded and displayed images from unsecured webcams of CCTV and simple IP cameras around the world, including from Babycams.

Symantec expects more mega data breaches next year, especially with the rising use of mobile devices for e-payment and the cloud computing technology for storage of personal and confidential information.

“Mobile devices will become even more attractive targets for cyber attackers in 2015 as mobile carriers and retail stores transition to mobile payments.

“Mobile devices are also used to store troves of personal and confidential information. They are left switched on all the time, making them the perfect targets for attackers,” said Tan.

He said the growing use of smart home automation, like smart televisions, home routers and connected car apps had also increased the potential of cyber attacks as more devices were being connected to the network.

Cyber law expert Dr Sonny Zulhuda agreed that the idea of synchronisation and interlinking of smart home automation (or the Internet of things) would be too tempting for both users and “abusers”.

“Users need to balance the use of these devices and smart technology with the efforts to preserve security, privacy or confidentiality.

“Just imagine how many mobile users are concerned about installing a good malware scanner on their devices. In the mind of the criminals, on the other hand, this will make their work even easier.”

Dr Sonny, who is assistant professor at the law faculty of the International Islamic University Malaysia, said it would come to a point where people would get too tired with the intrusion and abuse of their privacy.

“In Malaysia, for example, more people are being aware about the need to protect personal data thanks, to the enforcement of the PDPA 2010 (Personal Data Protection Act).

“Perhaps it is timely now to consider the development and penetration of cyber insurance as a new product for our insurance industries,” he said.

Imam Hoque, managing director of business analytics software and services company SAS said another reason why more cyber criminals target mobile devices was the increasing number of corporations embracing the “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work policy.

“This coupled with a general trend for business to provide more methods of interaction with consumers using mobile devices opens up further opportunities for hackers.

“The emergence of more mainstream malicious software kits for these mobile devices will accelerate the number of attacks on the mobile channel,” he said.

Hoque said that the continued trend to store data within the cloud, coupled with the high-publicised data losses from corporations such as Sony would encourage more hackers to consider large data loss exploitation.

“This in turn will lead to higher levels of identity theft and the ability of hackers to compromise the relationships between individuals and the institutions with which they interact,” he said.

CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said while malware would continue to rise steadily on mobile devices to attack individuals, cyber criminals would also exploit the mobile device for advanced persistent threats (APT) on specific targets, resulting in high impacts on security, prosperity and public safety like critical infrastructure and big corporations.

“We foresee sophisticated APT carried out using a combination of technical sophistication, excellent planning and coordination, and social engineering,” he said, adding that another major cyber threat next year was the increasing influence of social media.

“Social media can be exploited to propagate political and racial radicalism as well as religious extremism that could destabilise our national security and societal harmony which we have taken for granted all these years.”

BY Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network

Common hack job used to attack Sony Pictures 

The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California is seen December 16, 2014. "Guardians of Peace" hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks in their most chilling threat yet against Sony Pictures, warning the Hollywood studio not to release a film which has angered North Korea. - AFP

PETALING JAYA: The hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment might have been one of the most incredible cyber attacks ever, but it was carried out in one of the most common modus operandi of cyber crime.

As reported on Friday, US investigators had evidence that hackers stole “the keys to the entire building” of Sony Pictures by getting the password of a top-level information technology employee in the entertainment company.

Security experts in Malaysia have warned that we are also vulnerable to similar attacks with low level of awareness of cyber threats and security measures.

Cyber criminals exploit “users’ ignorance”, along with the rise of social media and mobile devices, to mount attacks against them,” said CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab.

He said more cyber criminals were using a combination of technical sophistication and social engineering - a non-technical method of intrusion that relies heavily on human interaction – to trick people into breaking normal security procedures and giving up their personal data.

Nigel Tan, director of systems engineering for Symantec Malaysia, cautioned that user behaviour will continue to be big target points for cyber crime next year.

“Sometimes the weakest link is the person behind the keyboard. If they visit dodgy websites, click on unknown links in fake emails and download apps or malicious software, cyber criminals will take advantage of this to siphon off information like passwords for online banking or e-mails.”

Tan said as most people still tend to use the same password for all their online transactions, services and websites, a stolen password can give the thief access to the victim’s whole life.

“And once they access your email, they can reset all your passwords and take over your identity,” he said.

Imam Hoque, managing director (Fraud and Security Solutions) with business analytics software firm SAS said the growing number of online services has created a goldmine for cyber criminals.

“If you think about how many different services you interact with over web and mobile channels, the numbers are forever growing.

“You need to consider what a hacker would need to know to compromise your accounts and then what damage they could do,” he said, stressing that hackers tend to go for the weakest link and then work their way from there.

Tan highlighted the case of a group of hackers in August who claimed to have stolen 1.2 billion usernames and passwords belonging to more than 500 million e-mail addresses in a hack described as the “largest data breach known to date”.

“They did it by targeting every site their victims visited, instead of focusing on one large company,” he said.

Cyber law expert Dr Sonny Zulhuda said cyber criminals tended to exploit people’s greed to attack them.

“While it is important to equip ourselves with some technical knowledge about the risks and threats to security, we also need to use our common sense when facing possible threats.

“One thing we need to understand with technology is the law of economy – why would people provide you mobile apps for free? Or any online service for that matter, for free?”

“How do they make profit if not from the access to users’ information that they acquire when you install such a free app? If one is keeping this in his mind, then he will be more mindful and careful in using the mobile devices.”

Dr Amirudin warned local computer experts not to be seduced by the seemingly easy but lucrative reward of cyber crime.

“Cyber crime is preferred by criminals due to its profitability, convenience and low risk, and their ‘success’ has boosted the global underground economy. It has even become a money-making profession for some computer experts.

“If this trend affects Malaysians, our own experts could be recruited to join the lucrative international underground economy, while our general public become their potential victims.”

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Is the weakening Malysian ringgit a similar to 1997/98 crisis?

Economic troubles ahead but most don’t think it will be as bad as back then

We don’t see a crisis brewing in emerging Asia. But that is not to say there aren’t risks. We believe those risks are going to be mitigated and managed. Despite some portfolio outflows, we believe there is still sufficient liquidity in the market for some trading ideas

The weakening ringgit has caused anxiety. But is the economy in a similar situation to Malaysia’s worst ever crisis 16 years ago?

MANY Malaysians will still remember the Asian financial crisis of 1997/98. Nearly 20 years ago, the then crisis was responsible for the greatest capital market crash in the country and forced many structural changes we see today in the financial markets.

It was a time of great turmoil, with people losing their investments on a scale never seen since. Companies for years bankrolled on easy credit were leveraged to the hilt and crumbled under the weight of their debts as business evaporated and the cost of credit soared.

Shares traded on the stock exchange mirrored the scale of the troubles. The benchmark stock market index plunged from a high of 1,271 points in February 1997 to 262 on Sept 1, 1998. Words such as tailspin and panic were common in the financial section of newspapers and the chatter among market players as people scrambled to take action.

“More people are talking about it with the fall in the ringgit,” says a fund manager who experienced the difficult times in the late 1990s.

Triggering the crisis back then was the fall in the regional currencies, starting with the Thai baht. Speculators then zeroed in on other countries in Asia and Russia as the waves of attack on the currencies back then saw many central banks spending vast amount of foreign exchange reserves to defend their currencies.

Exhausting their reserves, those central banks requested for credit help from the International Monetary Fund to replenish their coffers.

Attacks on the ringgit and many other currencies in Asia sent the ringgit into freefall as the currency capitulated from a previously overvalued zone against the US dollar.

The ringgit dived into uncharted territory to around RM4.20 to the dollar before capital controls were imposed and the ringgit was pegged at RM3.80 to the dollar. The ensuing troubles were seen from the capital market to the property sector. Corporate Malaysia was swimming in red ink and huge drops in profit.

The shock from that period was different than what the country had seen in previous recessions. The last economic recession prior to that was caused by a collapse in global commodity prices and during that pre-industrialisation period before factories mushroomed throughout the major centres of the country, unemployment soared. Unemployment was not a major issue in 1997/98 like it was in the prior recession but the crunch on company earnings meant wage cuts and employment freezes.

With the drop in crude oil and now with the resurgence of the US economy, the flight of money from the capital market has began.

Deja vu?

Most would argue that no two shocks or crisis are the same. There is always a trigger that is different from before. From the Asian financial crisis, the world has seen the collapse of the dotcom boom which crushed demand for IT products and services. Then there was the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis and the global financial crisis in 2008/09. There were periods of intermittent volatility in between those periods but there was nothing in Malaysia to suggest trouble ahead.

Shades of 1998 though have emerged in this latest wave of turmoil but the situation now is not the same as it was back then.

“We don’t see a crisis brewing in emerging Asia. But that is not to say there aren’t risks. We believe those risks are going to be mitigated and managed,” says World Bank country director for South-East Asia, Ulrich Zachau.

The fall in crude oil prices, which has been the trigger for Malaysia, has sent the currencies of oil-producing countries lower, affecting their revenues and budgets. In South-East Asia, pressure has been telling on the ringgit and the Indonesian rupiah.

Reminiscent of the gloom and doom of 1997/98, the Indonesian rupiah tanked against the dollar to levels last seen during that period.

Intervention by the Indonesian central bank addressed the decline, but the situation is also different today then it was back nearly two decades ago.

“Bank Negara is still mopping up liquidity today,” says another fund manager who started work in Malaysia in the early 1990s.

Although liquidity is plentiful in Malaysia, money has been coming out of the stock market. Foreign selling has been pronounced this year and the wave of selling has seen more money flow out of the stock market this year than what was put in to buy stocks last year.

Equities is just an aspect of it as the bigger worry is in Government bonds where foreigners hold more than 40% of issued government debt.

“The fear is capital flight and people are looking to lock in their gains,” says the fund manager.

“The worry will start when people get irrational.”

Times are different

While the selling that is taking place in the capital markets is a concern, Malaysia of today is vastly different than it was during the 1997/98 period.

For one, corporates in Malaysia are not as leveraged as they were back then. Corporate debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is below 100% but it was above 130% in 1998. Furthermore, corporate profits are still steady although general expectations have been missed in the last earnings season.

Secondly, fund managers point out that the banking system is in far better health today, better capitalised and seeing the average loan-to-deposit ratio below 100%. That loan-to-deposit ratio was much higher than 100% during the 1997/98 period and and as loans turned bad, the banks got into trouble.

“Fundamentally, we are much stronger now. That was not the case back then,” says a corporate lawyer.

“The worry though is on perception and denials that there is no trouble.”

The one big worry, though, is household debt. That ratio to GDP is crawling towards the 90% level while it was not even an issue back in 1997/98.

Sensitivity analysis by Bank Negara which looks at several adverse scenarios, such as a 40% decline in the stock market and bad loans from corporates and households shooting up, indicate that the banking system can withstand a major shock.

“The scenario-based solvency stress test for the period 2014 to 2016 incorporated simultaneous shocks on revenue, funding, credit, market and insurance risk exposures, taking into account a series of tail-risk events and downside risks to the global economic outlook.

“The simulated spillovers on the domestic economy were used to assess the compounding year-on-year impact on income and operating expenses, balance sheet growth and capitalisation of financial institutions, disregarding any loss mitigation responses by financial institutions or policy intervention by the authorities,” says Bank Negara in its Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report.

“Even under the adverse scenario, the post-shock aggregate TCR (total capital ratio) and CET1 (common equity tier 1) capital ratio of the banking system were sustained at 10% and 7% respectively, remaining above the minimum regulatory requirement under Basel III based on the phase-in arrangements which are consistent with the global timeline,” it says in the report.

Government finances and the current account

The line in the sand for Government finances seems to be at the US$60 per barrel level for crude oil prices. A number of economists feel the Government will miss its fiscal target of a 3% deficit next year should the price of crude oil drop below that level.

With oil and gas being such a big component of the economy than what it was in 1997/98, the drop in the price of crude oil could also spell trouble for the current account and cause a deficit in the trade account.

Those concerns have been highlighted by local economists and yesterday, Fitch Ratings echoed that worry.

“Cheaper oil is positive for the terms of trade of most major Asian economies. But for Malaysia, which is the only net oil exporter among Fitch-rated emerging Asian sovereigns, the fall increases the risk of missing fiscal targets.

“The risk of a twin fiscal and external deficit, which could spark greater volatility in capital flows, has increased. Malaysia’s deep local capital markets have a downside in that they leave the country exposed to shifts in investor risk appetite. Malaysia’s foreign reserves dropped 6.8% between end-2013 and end-November 2014, the biggest decline in Fitch-rated emerging Asia,” it says in a statement yesterday.

Despite the softness in the property market and corporates getting worried about their profits, the general feeling is that Malaysia will not see a repeat of 1997/98. The drop in the ringgit and revenue for crude oil will mean a period of adjustment but the cheaper ringgit will make exports more competitive.

The difference between then and now


The ringgit vs the dollar ...

The ringgit’s steep decline against the dollar has made it one of the worst performing currencies of late. That decline, although steep and having caught the attention of the central bank, is more down to the link with the decline in crude oil than structural issues to be worried about.
Capital ratios of banks ...

Banks today are far better capitalised then they were during the 1997/98 crisis, which forced the local banking industry to consolidate for their own good. Stress tests by the central bank suggests then even under adverse conditions, banks in Malaysia wil be able to withstand the shock associated with it.
Loans-to-deposit ratio ...

The ratio of loans against the deposit of banks have been rising but it is no where at the level before the Asian financial crisis in 1997/98. Banks too are aware of making sure it does not cross 100% and the development of the bond market means leverage risk has been diversified from the banking sector.

Businesses not as leveraged ...

One of the reasons corporate Malaysia was in trouble in 1997/98 was down to its leverage, or debt levels. Today. corporates are not as geared as they were back then and although that level is rising, their financial position and better cash balances and generation means they are able to better withstand a shock to the economy.

Household debt to GDP ...

This is the biggest worry. As households are leveraged despite the financial assets backing it, that means any economic weakness or shock will affect the ability to service loans taken to buy those assets. As consumer demand has been a big driver to the economy, any changes the affects the ability of consumers to continue spending will impact on economy growth and have an impact on non-performing loans in the banking sector.

Dropping current account surplus ...

The decline in the current account surplus means that the domestic economy has been growing strongly. There were concerns earlier and the prioritisation of projects was able to smoothen imports to ensure a positive balance of trade. The drop in crude oil prices could mean a deficit in the current account in the first quarter of next year but the weaker ringgit should translate to better exports and a better current account balance thereafter.

By JAGDEV SINGH SIDHU Starbizweek

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Honda Malaysia leads the way

IT has been a good year for Honda Malaysia as its sales figures from January to November has steadily increased to 69,150 units


This is a 34% increase compared to the brand’s total sales of 51,550 units last year..

In fact, Honda Malaysia claims that it is now the market leader in the non-national passenger car market, taking away the title from UMW Toyota.

According to Akkbar Danial, general manager for Honda Malaysia and also the company’s head of marketing, Honda Malaysia is well on track to hit its 2014 target, which is 76,000 units.

“The tsunami and earthquake in 2011 disrupted our production and parts supply but we restructured our business operation and devised a threeyear plan to achieve a high volume sales in Malaysia,” says Akkbar.

He adds that the main strategy is to offer affordable products that give buyers value for money in order to be competitive in the Malaysian market.

“We achieved this by increasing the localisation of our parts and the result is the current City and Jazz, which both carry competitive prices with added features.”

The other approach was a re-look into its operations and as a result, Honda Malaysia has expanded its production with the new No.2 Line at its Pagoh plant in Malacca.

This has increased its production capacity from 50,000 units to 100,000 units a year.

In the same period, Honda Malaysia also looked into increasing efficiency in its factory and expanded its pre-delivery inspection process and parts warehousing.

“Finally, to accommodate the high volume of sales, we have also expanded our dealer network from 62 dealers in 2012 to 78 dealers this year. This is to ensure that our customers are more satisfied. We plan to have a dealer in all major towns in Malaysia,” explains Akkbar.

Currently, its best selling model is the City, which has sold 32,465 units from January to November this year. Honda has also introduced variants that cater to all budgets.

The Jazz for example, has three variants and prices start at RM72,800 and go up to RM87,800. The City has four variants and its prices start at RM75,800 with the highest variant priced at RM90,800.

Such a wide range of prices offer options to the consumers, which translate to more offerings and higher sales.

Honda Malaysia has 11 models in its list and this includes three hybrid models - the Civic Hybrid (RM185,500), CR-Z (RM183,000) and the Jazz Hybrid (RM89,912). The latter is assembled locally and enjoys the hybrid benefits introduced by the government.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How WhatsApp founder made it big from rags-to-riches?

Once a cleaner at a grocery store, Koum's fortune changed the day he got the idea of an app that would allow people to send text messages via the Internet instead of sending SMS.

WhatsApp users worldwide received surprising news when Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp announced that Facebook was buying over WhatsApp for USD19 billion in cash and stock. It is by far the biggest acquisition made by the social networking giant to date. Prior to this, Facebook closed a deal with Instagram for USD1 billion in 2012.

WhatsApp Messenger is a successful cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows users to exchange messages without having to pay SMS bills. All it needs is an internet data plan. In addition to basic messaging WhatsApp users can also create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages. WhatsApp currently has 600 million users worldwide.

Jan Koum, now a billionaire from the deal made with Facebook, was born in a small town outside Kiev, Ukraine. He was the only child of a housewife and construction manager and the family led an austere life. At the age of 16, he moved to Mountain View, California with his mother and grandmother. His father stayed behind with plans to follow on later.

To make ends meet every month, Koum worked as a cleaner at a grocery store and his mum worked as a babysitter. He even had to line up to collect food stamps during those tough times. His mother was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and they lived off her disability allowance. It was in the same year that Koum’s father became ill and passed away. His mother too eventually succumbed to cancer and passed away in year 2000.

At the age of 18, Koum developed an interest toward computers. He taught himself computer programming by purchasing manuals from a used-book store and returning them after he was done. He then enrolled in San Jose State University and moonlighted for Ernst & Young as a security tester. After that he worked for search engine company, Yahoo! Inc.

Koum’s work involves inspecting Yahoo!’s advertising system, which led him to cross paths with Brian Acton (later co-founder of WhatsApp).

Over the next nine years, Koum and Acton were pulled in to help launch Yahoo!’s advertising platform. Koum recalled Acton’s words, “Dealing with ads is depressing. You don’t make anyone’s life better by making advertisements work better,” Koum was not happy with the situation as well.

In September 2007, Koum and Acton decided to resign from Yahoo!. After taking a one year break, Koum and Acton started looking for jobs. Both applied and got rejected by Facebook Inc. It was two years later in 2009 that Koum bought an iPhone and realised that the App Store would unlock future potentials. Koum had the idea of an app that would allow people to send text messages via the internet instead of sending SMSes. He named it WhatsApp that sounds like “What’s Up”.

It became an instant hit among iPhone users after the app was uploaded to the App Store. Koum insisted not to sell ads on the app after his bad experience dealing with ads at Yahoo! for years. WhatsApp was growing big worldwide and the founders decided to charge an annual rate of USD1 to its users. They were surprised to know that users are willing to pay to use the app.

WhatsApp gradually brought in USD5000 in revenue every month by 2010. Acton helped out Koum by investing USD250,000 in WhatsApp. As a result Acton was named co-founder of WhatsApp. By early 2011, the number of users are growing at an immense rate, and it is adding an additional million users everyday.

WhatsApp became one of the top 20 of all apps in the U.S App Store. Two years later, Sequoia invested another USD50 million. This resulted in WhatsApp being valued at USD1.5 billion.

In 2012, Koum received an email from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg was very interested at what Koum built and hinted to Koum at his interest in combining their two firms.

After two years, Koum and Acton signed and sealed the deal with Zuckerberg on the door of the welfare office where Koum used to collect food stamps.

Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in February 2014. Its by far the most lucrative engagement in tech history.

This deal seals Koum as tech’s new billionaire, pocketing USD6.8 billion after taxes. The agreement also appoints Koum as Facebook’s new board member - a rags-to-riches story that should inspire all nerds out there.

Source: JobStreet.com, the No.1 job site in Malaysia, thesundaily.com

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Startups sharing ideas and seeking validation from others to progress and gain benefits - final part 10

Start building relationships with investors

ENTREPRENEURS are naturally protective of their ideas. Understandably, they keep their ideas to themselves to avoid having them stolen.

Don't keep it to yourself Tell your idea to as many people as possible and seek their opinions. Talk with people you trust and whose opinion you value.

While it is important to protect proprietary information from being copied, entrepreneurs can also gain valuable insight and perspective from feedback before investing heavily in a product that only looks good conceptually.

A startup’s journey is very much akin to running a series of experiments before it finds a path to sustainable growth. A product or an idea should be subjected to validation before it can be tweaked and scaled up to form a viable company.

And what better way to get some form of early validation than to share your ideas with like-minded people for constructive input.

While entrepreneurs are more willing to share and discuss their ideas these days, this culture of sharing is still new in the local scene.

Seasoned entrepreneurs have found bouncing ideas off other people to be more helpful than harmful. Apart from getting feedback on their ideas, they note that more often than not, sharing connects them with other people who can help fill the gaps and turn ideas into reality.

Additionally, sharing ideas and resources could also help accelerate innovation in a field.

For example, American electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors recently announced that it will be making its patents available to other companies that want to use them.

Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk explained that the move would help advance electric vehicle technology.


 Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, unveils the dual engine chassis of the new Tesla 'D' model at the Hawthorne Airport October 09, 2014 in Hawthorne, California.

“Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day,” Musk had said.

By allowing the use of its patents, industry observers note that Tesla will be clearing the way for more collaboration with other electric car makers to develop new technologies and would enable the company to take a leadership role in developing standards for the industry and its value chain.

Entrepreneurs are increasingly being encouraged to share and collaborate to innovate and build better products.

And a beauty about being in the present time is that there are more ways than ever to tap into a support network that can provide startups with a platform to share and build on ideas and resources.

Some of these platforms include spaces such as incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces. Apart from being just a shared working station, incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces have evolved into collaborative work spaces that provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to meet and collaborate on ideas with a host of other people to innovate better solutions.

Additionally, there are various forums as well as startup events and programmes that provide a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to network, share ideas and work together. There are also a number of agencies that are targeted at guiding entrepreneurs with developing their ideas.

Most entrepreneurs still worry about letting on too much on their ideas. But if they can overcome that fear, entrepreneurs stand to gain much from collaborating with one another.

Take advantage of the entrepreneurial community brought together by such platforms to innovate and rather than develop your ideas in silos.

■ This is the final article in a 10-part tie-up between Metrobiz and the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creative Centre (MaGIC) to explore startup ecosystems.

By Joy Lee The Star/Asia News Network

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nanjing Massacre is undeniable! Remember it to better embrace peace

CHINA-NANJING MASSACRE VICTIMS-STATE MEMORIAL CEREMONY-XI JINPING(CN)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, attend a state commemoration for China's first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, Dec. 13, 2014. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)



Full Video: State memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims

China observed the first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims on Saturday. It is a day to reflect on the past and look forward to the future, and a day to make people more aware of the significance of peace.

Invading Japanese troops captured Nanjing, then the capital of China, on Dec. 13, 1937 and started a bloody campaign lasting more than 40 days. More than 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers were killed and about 20,000 women were raped.

Seventy-seven years later, the deep wound may be healed, but the scar has always been there. Chinese people cannot and should not forget those dark and miserable moments in their history.

That is why in February, China's top legislature decided to designate Dec. 13 as the National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims, along with Victory Day of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression on Sept. 3.

The memorial day is no different from how Americans remember the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Allies mark the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Observing the day is of great significance, especially as some people in Japan, which committed the brutal crime, are still trying to deny the facts. It urges Japanese right-wingers to stop distorting the country's history of aggression.

History will not change due to the changing times. Facts will not disappear because of clever denial.

The remembrance of the massacre victims is a warning to the world about the brutality and destructivity of war. Peace cannot be achieved and maintained by a single party. What Japan should do is reflect on its history of aggression, correct its mistakes and change its course.

The day is meant to remind the Chinese people and all peace-loving people around the world to be cautious about Japan's history of militarist aggression and safeguard the WWII victory and post-war international order.

Overcoming one and a half centuries of humiliation by invaders dating back to the Opium War (1840-1842), China is sober-minded that it must become stronger through remembrance of the massacre victims in order to avoid stepping on the old path.

People who experienced the torment of war are deeply eager for peace. The Nanjing homage day also gives China determination to pursue the road of peaceful development and contribute to, rather than threaten, regional and world peace.

The Chinese remember history not out of hatred, but of love -- the love of peace, and love for humanity.

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014

Related:
President Xi addresses state memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims
President Xi addresses China's first state memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre 
President Xi addresses state memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses a state commemoration for China's first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, Dec. 13, 2014. A state commemoration for China's first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims was held here on Saturday.



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China on Saturday marked the day when 77 years ago invading Japanese soldiers slaughtered more than 300,000 people, mostly unresisting civilians.

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Full coverage: National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims

China's State Archives Administration has published the transcript of a court verdict against a Japanese Major General who was involved in the Nanjing Massacre.

Major-General Sasaki Toichi is widely recognized as having overseen some of the worst atrocities that took place under his command. According to the verdict, his unit committed atrocities of unparalleled brutality and violence. They included mass murder, gang rapes, beheadings, burning and burying people alive, looting and wanton destruction.

His unit alone killed over 100,000 victims, one third of the total. Today’s publication is the latest in a series of releases by the archive, aimed at heightening awareness of the massacre, in the run-up to today’s memorial events.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Homes are cracking !



PENGERANG: Dozens of residents who were relocated due to the development of the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) expressed disappointment over the poor workmanship of their new homes in Taman Bayu Damai.

They are upset that their houses, which are less than a year old, have already started cracking, with some wide enough for fingers to go through.

They blamed this on soil movement.

“The foundation for many of the houses have started to slip, causing huge holes to appear below our single-storey bungalow,” said retiree Lukiman Sastaro.

The 67-year-old, who moved from Sg Kapal, said his house was among the worst hit.

“I got over RM300,000 in compensation and used RM105,000 to buy this house. The rest went into renovations,” he said, adding that he was now having sleepless nights.

“Even my driveway sank by several centimetres,” said Lukiman.

Another resident, Sia Pek Im, 61, said she was worried about the safety of her two grandchildren after huge cracks appeared in her kitchen.

“But I have nowhere else to go,” she said.

Another, Hamidon Ahmad, said he, too, suspected that there was soil movement and that the developer had not carried out proper mitigation works before building the houses.

“I decided to carry out repair works on my own as I am worried for my family’s safety,” said the 56-year-old.

“Even my relatives’ home next door is affected. The relevant agencies should check if the houses have met the safety criteria before the Certificate of Fitness is issued,” he said, adding that the site used to be a swamp.

Kota Tinggi district officer Mohd Noorazam Osman confirmed that it was a geological problem due to earth movement.

“We are working with the state Economic Planning Unit (Upen), which is in charge of the project to remedy this,” he said.

“Residents’ safety is our main concern and houses that are badly damaged will be demolished,” he said, adding that it was up to Upen to decide what action should be taken against the developer or contractor.

State Upen director A. Rahim Nin said the Johor government had appointed a private contractor under the design-and-build concept for the 631 houses in the area.

“So far, 555 units have been given to residents who were relocated from Kg Sungai Kapal, Kampung Langkah Baik and Kampung Teluk Empang,” he said.

“We have directed the contractor to repair the defects – as based on our agreement with them. The defect liability period is two years,” he said, adding that 67% of the complaints had been addressed so far.

By Nelson Benjamin The Star/Asia News Network

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