Friday, August 1, 2014

Property prices in Malaysia to continue to increase, says REHDA

Property prices in Malaysia will continue to increase due to the supply and demand factor as well as the high land cost, according to Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) president Datuk Seri FD Iskandar Mansor.

Notably, the average annual housing completion stood at 100,000 compared to the average annual household formation of 140,000, revealed the National Property Information Centre.

According to Iskandar, who also serves as managing director and chief executive officer of Glomac Bhd, the public have the misconception that developers are responsible for the rising property prices.

He explained that it is impossible for developers to maintain or lower the selling price for new launches due to land cost and high conversion premium, which has recently increased by up to 300 percent.

He also noted that the cost of doing business has been expanding each year, and, unlike before, developers no longer enjoy the 30 percent profit margin.

In fact, developers now only make around 15 percent profit margin because of high development and infrastructure charges, compliance cost, stamp duty and quit rent.

Moreover, land is getting scarce and more expensive.

“In early 2007, when Glomac bought land nearby the Petronas Twin Towers, the seller asked for RM1,000 per square feet (psf) but we wanted to pay only RM600 psf. I knew what we wanted to build on it so we paid RM1,000 psf,” said Iskandar.

“Now, that same piece of land is worth RM3,500 psf and the value of the building has risen. Land cost has tripled in the last seven years.”

Source:


 
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Thursday, July 31, 2014

China probes Microsoft monopoly

BEIJING: China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has launched an investigation into US software giant Microsoft’s Windows operating system, a day after officials showed up unannounced at several Microsoft’s offices in China.



Microsoft Corp faces China anti-monopoly probe



http://english.cntv.cn/2014/07/30/VIDE1406708763748561.shtml

The anti-monopoly regulator had sent some 100 inspectors to Microsoft’s offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu on Monday and had obtained internal documents and seized two computers. “The regulator is also investigating a Microsoft vice president and senior managers and have made copies of the firm’s financial statements and contracts,” it said in a statement on its website.

The SAIC said it has also seized documents, e-mails and other data from Microsoft’s computers and servers. The probe could not be completed as some of the key personnel of Microsoft were not in China or unable to be contacted, it said. Xinhua news agency reported in June last year, the SAIC had investigated complaints from enterprises that Microsoft had used tie-in sales and verification codes in its Windows operating system and Microsoft Office application, causing software incompatibility issues.

It said Microsoft has agreed to cooperate with the government on the investigation.

In November last year, China’s economic planner and watchdog, the National Development and Reform Commission had launched a probe into Qualcomm Inc, the California-based world’s largest mobile chipmaker, to determine whether it has abused dominant market position. — Bernama

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Japan reopens China's wounds: Sea of Change in pacific policy; Japan's wars and Potsdam Declaration still relevant

Japan reopens China's wounds

Few wounds take so long to heal. But the defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, which broke out 120 years ago today, remains an open wound in Chinese national psyche.

Not because it hurt us too badly. The subsequent unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, fittingly portrayed as "humiliating the country and forfeiting its sovereignty", has since been a hallmark of national shame. But the Japanese imposed on us greater shame and sufferings in the decades that followed.

Nor because we are a nation of grudge-holders. We have befriended posterity of Western intruders responsible for our nation's humiliating past, and are forming partnerships with them. Even to Japan, our worst enemy in history, our leaders always reiterate the wish to let friendship "last from generation to generation".

But because the same old ghost of expansionist Japan is lurking next door, causing a contagious sense of insecurity throughout the region.

We cannot afford to not be vigilant, because Shinzo Abe's Japan is strikingly similar to the Japan of 120 years ago. International concerns about the likelihood of history repeating itself in Northeast Asia are not groundless. Because, like in 1894, Japan is again aspiring for "greatness" through expanding its overseas military presence. And its foremost target is, again, China.

It is dangerous to underestimate Japan as a security threat. Which it was, and still is.

The Japanese prime minister's rhetoric about peace may be engaging. But never forget Japan's extreme duality. Its wars of aggression have always been launched in the mode of surprise attacks while waving the banner of peace.

In 1871, Japan signed the Sino-Japanese Friendship and Trade Treaty with rulers of China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which promises mutual respect for and non-violation of each other's territories. Hardly had the ink on that document dried when the Japanese began invading Ryukyu, then a Chinese tributary. The Ryukyu kingdom was finally annexed in 1879 and renamed Okinawa.

On Japan's agenda of overseas expansion, the 1894 surprise attack against China was a carefully plotted advance to control Korea before slicing China. But the Japanese government eulogized its acts of aggression as those of benevolence aimed at "preserving the overall peace of East Asia" against "barbarians and semi-barbarians".

The more devastating Japanese war of aggression, embarked in 1931, was also waged in the name of peace, under the pretext of building an "East Asia sphere of common prosperity".

Even today, Japanese politicians call it a war of "liberation from white colonialism", even "enlightenment".

In amazing similarity, present-day Japan is flexing its military muscles overseas in the name of proactive peace. Also like in the run-up to the year of 1894, with peace on lips, Abe is waging a propaganda war against China, framing us as a threat.

This country has suffered enough from its one-sided wish for peace, and poor preparedness for worst scenarios.

Now is time for a break.

Sources: China Daily/Asia News Network

Sea of change in pacifist policy

Japan may have crossed a rubicon as it will only be a matter of time before it acts like a ‘normal’ country where troop deployment is concerned.

ON July 1, the Cabinet of Shinzo Abe decided that Japan would no longer abide by the policy of not engaging in collective self-defence.

This may appear innocuous but to those conversant with Japanese defence policy since World War II (WWII) this could amount to a sea of change.

The Americans, in an attempt to prevent a remilitarised Japan after WWII, imposed on it a constitution which contains Article 9, an article probably found in no other constitution. It states that Japan renounces war as a sovereign right of a nation and cannot resort to force, or the threat of the use of force, to settle international disputes.

The defence of Japan was guaranteed by the United States in a security agreement signed with Japan after the American occupation. Nevertheless, the United States also insisted that Japan take some steps to defend itself.

Thus, Article 9 was not interpreted literally by subsequent governments as excluding Japan from establishing a Self-Defence Force (SDF), but it could not be allowed to participate in collective self-defence. Japan could not send its military force to help any country, however friendly, except for humanitarian purposes.

This approach, perhaps unexpectedly, worked brilliantly for Japan.

Freed of the need to build a large military establishment, Japan devoted its energies to economic development and built what was until recently the second largest economy in the world.

But as the United States began to realise that Japan was the greatest beneficiary of this approach, it applied pressure on Japan to give up this “free ride”, and start deploying troops overseas, especially to aid American military expeditions. The Japanese resisted.

They argued that the SDF could be sent overseas for humanitarian purposes but not for combat as this would involve Japan in collective self-defence, even if only to aid Japan’s crucial ally, the United States. Article 9, as then interpreted, would be violated.

But the Japanese could not resist US pressure for long. Since then the Japanese have sent Japanese vessels to supply fuel for US ships to attack Afghanistan, and troops to Iraq in the war against Saddam Hussein.

But though these troops were placed in combat situations, their presence was justified, however contrived, for humanitarian reasons. They were not there for the purpose of collective self-defence!

This has now changed with the recent Cabinet decision. Despite assurances from the Abe Cabinet that Japan will only use troops after all means have been exhausted, henceforth it can send troops not only to help US forces if attacked but also to the defence of any other country that it might feel an obligation to. Japan may have crossed a rubicon as it will only be a matter of time before it acts like a “normal” country where troop deployment is concerned.

China and South Korea are against it. They fear that this could lead to the remilitarisation of Japan as they believe Japan has not sufficiently come to terms with its past of aggression against Asia.

Many South-East Asian nations, on the other hand, have been impressed by Japan’s peace diplomacy since WWII, and may be less inclined to believe the Japanese will remilitarise. Even though many South-East Asians, particularly those of Chinese descent, suffered from Japanese atrocities, they are more ambivalent about the Japanese war record.

The Japanese occupation in South-East Asia was a military one and lasted only about three-and-a-half years. Compare this to Korea, which was colonised by Japan from 1910 to 1945, when Korean cultural identity was subjected to an eradication campaign by the Japanese colonisers.

Or the Chinese, who since the Sino- Japanese war of 1895 had suffered almost half a century of Japanese threats, colonisation (Manchuria in 1931) and invasion (from 1937-1945.) Memories of Japanese atrocities such as the Nanjing Massacre are still vivid in their minds.

South-East Asians are concerned that the history issue, whatever the merits of the case, will continue to prevent reconciliation between Japan and Northeast Asia, in particular China.

Sino-Japanese relations will not stabilise unless that issue is resolved. This will not be good for South-East Asia, given the profound economic and geopolitical impact these two countries have on the region.

There is also some reason for unease in the manner in which Abe implemented the change. Over a matter of such importance, the Abe government should have gone through the procedure of amending or abolishing Article 9 of the constitution, instead of resorting to the tactic of changing governmental interpretation.

It is true that this will be difficult, given that a recent poll shows 56% of the Japanese population are against the Abe move. (A constitutional change needs a two-thirds majority in both houses and a majority in a national referendum.) Nevertheless, it is the task of Abe and his people to convince the Japanese people of the necessity of the constitutional change. If the Japanese people are unconvinced, then Abe should leave things be.

More concerning is that this normalisation is accompanied by a nationalist agenda of visits to the Yasukuni shrine by Japanese legislators and indeed by Abe himself, and by other actions that suggest Japan did no wrong in the war.

Japanese nationalists like Abe argue that they are only praying for the souls of the deceased when they visit the Yasukuni shrine, and they have no wish to resurrect the past.

But there are other aspects of the nationalist agenda the Abe people are pushing which may survive. One is the introduction of patriotic education, that can have a long-lasting effect on the Japanese population.

It can be argued that the Abe move to make Japan a normal country should be welcome. Japan is a large country with a population of around 120 million.

Moreover, it has the third largest economy, and is technologically one of the most advanced in the world. It has also convincingly demonstrated a record of more than 60 years of peaceful diplomacy.

At the same time, many Japanese, particularly the younger generation, no longer want to carry on with the mentality of a defeated nation so long after the war. Nevertheless, it is a pity that their government has to pursue the normalisation of Japan while at the same time pushing a nationalist agenda.

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.

http://english.cntv.cn/program/dialogue/20130726/100500.shtml

First Japan war’s lessons remain relevant

Today is the 120th anniversary of the eruption of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). The war is generally viewed as a turning point in modern Chinese history. The illusion of a strong navy of the then-Qing government and limited hopes brought by the Self-Strengthening Movement ended with the war's coming. China not only lost to the West, but also was defeated by an East Asian country—Japan. China's long-held sense of superiority came to an abrupt end.

The complete defeat in the war, and cession of territories and indemnities brought with it, caused Chinese society to realize that only reform could reverse China's backwardness. Yet all reform measures failed to save the Qing regime.

The war also completely remade East Asian geopolitics, with Japan assuming a role as the leading country in the region. Only in recent years has this arrangement changed to some extent.

Drawing lessons from the war is not an easy job. Neither China nor Japan has set an example in this. China was convulsed by half a century of war and other disturbances following its defeat, before it gradually found its path forward. Japan became increasingly self-centered and paranoid due to its victory in the war and began to follow an expansionist path. It would only begin to restrain itself following its defeat by other world powers in the World War II.

China's experiences during the past 120 years are fodder for significant reflection. China and Japan once again find themselves in a confrontational stance. How should we look at China's geopolitical status, both then and now? What's the most significant lesson for us? There has been much discussion throughout China on this subject, but no consensus has yet been reached.

Will China find itself in a new war, similar to the one 120 years ago? History will not repeat itself, but China still face a number of uncertainties. What are these uncertainties? From where can the Chinese people derive our strategic confidence?

It is naïve to compare the historical context of the First Sino-Japanese War or World War I with China's current circumstances. Both international politics and China's internal social structure have experienced profound changes.

China is rising, even as there are many factors countervailing this process, both internal and external. The momentum of China's development has empowered the country, while at the same time exposing problems. Opinions remain divided as to whether Chinese society as a whole can bear the pressure.

There are those who would compare the Sino-Japanese relationship of 120 years ago with today. It is a confusing comparison. China 120 years ago lacked national strength, social unity, and effective government. It proved unable to reform itself in the face of serious setbacks.

China's task of reform was thrown into sharp relief following the First Sino-Japanese War. Even now, the country must continue to push reforms, and curb its social ills.

We should continue to crack down on corruption, and protect the democracy advocated by generations of revolutionaries. All this, however, should not come at the cost of social chaos.

Source: Global Times Published: 2014-7-25 0:28:01


Declaration still relevant

Looking at the Potsdam Declaration 69 years after its release on July 26 in 1945 is of great help in knowing why the Japanese government's attitude toward the war of aggression it launched against China and other Asian countries during World War II matters a great deal to its relations with its neighbors and the situation in East Asia.

Along with Cairo Declaration in 1943, this historical document was the cornerstone of the postwar world order. It was these two documents that established the principles for Japan, one of the culprits for World War II, to redeem itself from the evils of its militarism. And it was by following what both documents stipulated that Japan could realize reconciliation with its neighbors, which had forgiven what its invading troops had done to their peoples with the hope that the island country would behave itself and contribute to the building of a peaceful Asia and peaceful world at large.

However, the declaration was challenged when the Japanese government made the decision to nationalize the Diaoyu Islands in 2012, territory it had grabbed from China with its military aggression. Japan was supposed to return all the territories it had taken from China according to Cairo Declaration, and the Potsdam Declaration requires that the Cairo Declaration must be observed.

By blatantly questioning the international definition of the nature of the war, the legitimacy of the Far East Military Tribunal and even the existence of the "comfort women" Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is actually trying to overturn what the two declarations had stipulated for Japan's surrender and the establishment of the postwar order.

Abe government's lifting of the ban on its collective self-defense by reinterpreting Article 9 of its postwar pacifist Constitution early this month trod on the toes of its neighbors, as there is no threat to Japan's national security that calls for the possible use of its collective self-defense and for any overseas military action.

All Japan's Asian neighbors can get from what Abe is saying and doing is nothing but increased suspicion about the possibility of the revival of Japan's militarism.

When celebrating the 69th anniversary of the Potsdam Declaration, it is indeed necessary and urgent for China and its Asian neighbors to remind the Abe government that it is leading its country in the wrong direction if it indeed wants its country to become a normal member of the international community.

Sources: China Daily/Asia News Network

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

STEM education for life, part 2

The second part of the series looks at the part STEM has to play in ensuring a better future for all Malaysians.

IN our previous article (Stem education for life to reach new heights )  we talked about the engineering feats of the 20th century, what STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) stands for and some ways to promote STEM among students. In this article, we will talk about the importance of STEM education for key professions and for the future of the nation.

In 2007, 30% of the total tertiary education-age population in Malaysia was enrolled in tertiary education. In 1999 it was 23%. Malaysia targets that by 2020, this total will increase to 50% and out of that 60% will be in STEM. To meet this target, ground work has to start now.

Currently, it is estimated that about 37% of secondary school students are in the Science stream. It is worrying if there is a decline in the number of students enrolling in the Science stream.

If our country is to move forward to compete with the rest of the world and to be sustainable in the future, we need more scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists to manage our natural resources and to look into renewable resources for future growth and sustainability. More talents and more qualified manpower are required to drive the country.

The United States Department of Commerce in the 2013 article STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future (www.esa.doc.gov) stated that “STEM workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries. However, US businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs.” Perhaps this is an indication of a trend that could eventually affect Malaysia as well.

According to an employment website survey in August 2013 based on a year’s data that among the top 10 highest paid jobs in Malaysia, most tend to be technical or science based. At the executive level, those who specialised in medicine, engineering, finance and information technology (IT) generally earned above-average salaries, while those at managerial levels and higher who received better compensations were in the fields of IT, science and engineering.

It was also reported that, out of the top 10 best paying jobs for fresh graduates, seven of the jobs are STEM related (doctors, engineering/IT, geophysics, aviation, actuarial science, IT software, financial services).

Perhaps, with this knowledge in mind, students in schools could be informed to pursue STEM subjects and venture into tertiary education in STEM-related fields of study. Most students in secondary schools have little idea of what to pursue at tertiary level and little knowledge of what career path to take. Perhaps with the knowledge of possible successful careers and pathways in STEM, students could make informed decisions on what subjects to take and that would lead them to more visible outcomes.

Most students have the view that mathematics and science subjects are more technical and difficult subjects to learn and score in exams. Hence, they shy away from choosing the Science stream and this may prevent them from choosing a career in STEM-related fields.

However, if learning is made more practical, fun, methodical and interesting with key fundamental concepts of STEM introduced even from primary school and slowly built up to secondary school, more students would enjoy learning STEM subjects and perhaps perform better in them in lower secondary. This would make the transition into the Science stream easier at Form Four. The grooming of a potential pool of talent has to start from school right up to tertiary level. It might be too late trying to encourage more students into STEM-related studies at tertiary level and by then there might also be too few in the pool to select the best talents from.

STEM education should perhaps be elevated as a national priority, considering the implications for the future. With this in mind, the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), the Malaysian Industry Group for High Technology (MIGHT), the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), and the National Science Centre (NSC) came together to organise the Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair 2014 (KLESF).

The inaugural fair was held in April 2014 and the event, which will be held annually, aims to promote STEM and serve as a decisive step to arrest the declining interest among school students in STEM. KLESF brought together a community of stakeholders, research and education communities, professionals and industry partners to support the Government’s Science to Action (S2A) programme to promote science and technology as the key drivers of innovation, research, development and enterprise for the nation.

KLESF 2014 attracted more than 100 government schools and more than 50,000 visitors comprising mostly school children and teachers.

In tandem with KLESF is the Utar School Mentorship Programme, in which Utar academics work with school teachers in selected needy schools, sponsoring equipment and working with students on hands-on science-based projects, which were showcased during KLESF. The students, in this mentorship programme, learnt to make mini robots and conducted scientific experiments, highlighting the fun aspects of learning Science.

The waves of technological revolutions that happened from the 18th to the 20th century resulted in super highways, integrated multimedia networks, speedy transportation, automation and super crops with bountiful harvests. If we think of the next century and the future to come, a lot needs to be done now.

We now have about seven billion people on earth. The global population could reach nine billion by the year 2050. In 2010, 3.5 billion (50.5%) lived in cities and more are moving into cities each day. This means fewer and fewer people work in farms, growing food that we need, and more infrastructure is needed in the cities to support the growing population. Healthier food, clean water, well-planned housing and clean air are required for better-quality life in the cities.

The level of urbanisation is rising throughout the world resulting in more pollution, depletion of natural resources, global warming and the increasing need to source clean water. Problems are getting more complex and the challenges are greater. The world needs a great pool of talented people especially scientists, architects, engineers and more STEM-based qualified professionals to help with new inventions, seek solutions, soothe this expanding world and solve current and impending environmental problems. Most of all, these talents need to look into renewable energies for the future as our natural resources are being depleted and wasted.

Therefore, it is imperative to keep our youths and students in schools interested in STEM; for our teachers to find more interesting ways of teaching STEM subjects; our parents to encourage their children to discover the wonders of science and for our government to look into policies that promote STEM education and develop a curriculum that will encompass the nation’s future needs.

Contributed by Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei

The writer, an AAET Fellow, is the vice-president of Research and Development and Commercialisation, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar).  

 Prof Ir Dr Lee Sze Wei
Vice President, R&D and Commercialisation
UTAR

Prof. Dr. Lee Sze Wei was born in Malaysia in 1970. He obtained BEng (Hons) in Electronics and Optoelectronics, MPhil., and PhD from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, UK in 1995, 1996, and 1998 respectively. He was in Multimedia University, from 1999 to 2008 before joining Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Oct 2008. He is currently the Vice President (Research, Development and Commercialisation) and of UTAR. He specializes in telecommunication engineering. He has been involved in various industry-university collaborative research projects and providing training programmes to the industry aimed at updating and upgrading the knowledge and skill of technologists and engineers in the industry. http://crest.my/v2/prof-lee-sze-wei/

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Who stands to gain from MH17, USA?

The general public should always ask this question to prevent ourselves from being deceived by ‘false flags’

THE Russian military has released military monitoring data which challenge allegations circulating in the media pertaining to the MH17 crash in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Questions have been raised about Kiev military jets tracking MH17, Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the deployment of Buk missile systems. Kiev should also release military data on the circumstances leading to the crash. So should the Pentagon which reportedly has relevant intelligence and satellite data.

Since military data is hardcore information, Kiev and Washington should be persuaded to be transparent and accountable. The UN Secretary-General can play a role in this since there is a specialised agency within the UN, the ICAO, dedicated to international civil aviation.

Military data from Moscow, Kiev and Washington should be scrutinised by the independent international panel that is supposed to probe the MH17 catastrophe.

Such data carries much more weight than videos purportedly revealing the role of the pro-Russian rebels and the Russian government in the crash. One such video showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine to Russia is a fabrication. The billboard in the background establishes that it was shot in a town – Krasnoarmeisk – that has been under the control of the Ukrainian military since May 11. Similarly, a YouTube video showing a Russian General and Ukrainian rebels discussing their role in mistakenly downing a civilian aircraft was, from various tell-tale signs, produced before the event.

The public should be wary of fabricated “evidence” of this sort, after what we have witnessed in the last so many years. Have we forgotten the monstrous lies and massive distortions that accompanied the reckless allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which led eventually to the invasion of that country in 2003 and the death of more than a million people? What about the Gulf of Tonkin episode of 1964 which again was a fabrication that paved the way for US aggression against Vietnam that resulted in the death of more than three million Vietnamese?


The “babies in incubators” incident in Kuwait in 1990 was yet another manufactured lie that aroused the anger of the people and served to justify the US assault on Iraq. Just last year we saw how an attempt was made by some parties to pin the blame for a sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria upon the Assad government when subsequent investigations have revealed that it was the work of some rebel group.

From Tonkin to Ghouta there is a discernible pattern when it comes to the fabrication of evidence to justify some nefarious agenda or other. As soon as the event occurs before any proper investigation has begun, blame is apportioned upon the targeted party. This is done wilfully to divert attention from the real culprit whose act of evil remains concealed and camouflaged.

The colluding media then begins to spin the “correct” version with the help of its reporters and columnists who concoct “fact” out of fiction. Any other explanation or interpretation of the event is discredited and dismissed derisively to ensure that the “credibility” of the dominant narrative remains intact.

As the narrative unfolds, the target often embodied in a certain personality is demonised to such a degree that he arouses the ire of the public and becomes an object of venom.

The pattern described here is typical of what is known as a “false flag” operation in which blame for some dastardly deed is consciously transferred to one’s adversary. It has happened right through history and many contemporary nation-states – and not just the United States – are guilty of flying false flags.

To protect ourselves from being deceived by such operations, the general public should always ask: who stands to gain from a particular episode? Cui Bono is in fact an important principle in the investigation of a crime. In the case of the MH17 carnage, the pro-Russian rebels do not benefit in any way from downing a civilian airliner. Their goal is independence from the Kiev government which is why they are fighting Kiev through sometimes violent means including shooting down its military planes. Massacring 298 passengers in a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur does not serve their cause. Moscow which backs the rebels to an extent also gains nothing from involving itself in such a diabolical carnage.

10 days after the carnage, it is now clear who is trying to reap benefits from that terrible tragedy in the skies. The demonisation of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, orchestrated from various Western capitals, including Kiev, after Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, thus thwarting one of the primary strategic goals of Nato’s eastward expansion, has now reached its pinnacle.

MH17 has helped the elite in Washington in yet another sense. It has strengthened its push for tougher sanctions against Russia which began after the Crimea vote.

It is obvious that those who seek to punish Russia and the pro-Russian rebels, namely, the elite in Washington and Kiev, are poised to gain the most from the MH17 episode. Does it imply that they would have had a role in the episode itself? Only a truly independent and impartial international inquiry would be able to provide the answer.

In this regard, we must admit that while elites in Kiev and Washington may stand to gain from MH17, those who actually pulled the trigger may be some other group or individual with links to the powerful in the two capitals. It is quite conceivable that a certain well-heeled individual equipped with the appropriate military apparatus and with access to air-control authorities in the region may have executed the act of evil itself.


Because of who he is, and where his loyalties lie, that individual may have also decided to target Malaysia. Was he giving vent to his anger over our principled stand on the question of justice for the Palestinians? Was he also attempting to divert public attention from Israel’s ground offensive against Gaza which time-wise coincided with the downing of the Malaysian airliner?

As we explore MH17 from this angle, would we be able to connect the dots between MH17 and MH370, between July 17 and March 8, 2014? We should not rest till the whole truth is known and the evil behind these two colossal catastrophes punished severely.

We owe this to every soul who perished on those fateful flights.

This article is dedicated to the cherished memory of all those on MH17 – especially the 80 children who were on board.

By comment: Dr Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Your name is your fortune

Everyone’s name contains positive or negative vibes, based on the combination of letters in it.


AN individual’s character, prosperity, fame and good health depend on how his or her name is pronounced.

According to the sciences of pronology and numerology, we can improve our lives and minimise troubles if we make certain changes to our name as per the rules of this ancient knowledge.

Pronology analyses sound vibrations in a name while numerology deals with numerical values of each letter assigned to the name.

Making modifications to your name can change your fate, stresses renowned numerologist Alaghar Vijaay from Chennai, India.

He says that when a name is given to a newborn child, it is vital for the date of birth to be “added”, based on numerology principles, to give the most auspicious sound to the infant’s name.

I recently met Vijaay, who has authored 21 books on ancient secrets, to get a better understanding on the phonetic impact and hidden secrets of names.

People facing challenges in the areas of health, relationship and prosperity, or obstacles in life, should check on how their name is pronounced.

This is no laughing matter because our name carries a power that can determine our destiny, says Vijaay, an engineer by training.

There are 26 letters in the English language and each has a special wavelength, colour and characteristic.

Take, for example, the letters O and N appearing together in a name. The numerological value of O is 6 and that of N is 5. The sum of the two is 11, whether the letters occur as “ON” or “NO”.

But ON denotes forward movement and positive action, whereas NO has a negative connotation and failure.


Vijaay says pronology offers an understanding of both the forces that may occur in a name and gives people an opportunity to act accordingly to remove the ill effects and increase the beneficial values.

For example, he said, names containing the sounds “dhi”, “dy” or “di” could benefit from some modification because those vowels represent something related to demise.

Our name is like a mantra. When it is repeated like a chant it vibrates a certain sound which exerts an influence on the cells in our body.

This may produce auspicious or inauspicious results.

In his book entitled Pronology, Vijaay explains that when two letters are combined, their separate wavelengths meet and generate a sound that can be positive or negative.

For instance, he says, when the letters A and P are paired it will produce a sound like “APE”, and an individual having such letters in his or her name will have ape-like characteristics.

Where the letters K and L are joined, it sounds like “KILL” and those with this component in their name will face trials and struggles.

When the letters are reversed from KL to LK, the sound “LIKE” is generated and this vibration will boost their energy, allowing them to enjoy peace and happiness.

When the sounds “Han” or “Khan” occur in a name, the person gets an enhanced sense of self-confidence and a strong desire to achieve their goals in life.

Hindi stars Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan are some of the living examples of success and fame owing to such names.

Other favourable names are Kartik, Ayappan, Raman, Mahalingam, Selvan, Aravin, Barath, Praveen, Ashvin, Jayakumar, Uthayakumar, Velu, Murugan, Vishnu, Ganapathy, Ramakrishnan, Ashvin, Rajen and Rajakumar,

Women having vibrant-sounding names can be assured of a happy, peaceful and comfortable life.

Those having names with pleasant sound combinations like Vijaya, Preethi, Anujaya, Jeyashri, Karisma, Rajaletchumi, Abarami, Gyathri, Jeya and Ragavi will generally enjoy peace and comfort and get good-natured husbands. Names like Vimala, Kamala, Mala, Nirmala, and Malathi will be dominating and they will have the skills to earn as much as or more than their husbands.


To attract positive vibrations into a name, an individual should add letter combinations such as UD, ON, RUN, GAIN, VIN, VIND, ARARS, AN, GA, VN, NS and RS.

Avoid letter combinations like SAD, LOSS, SAT, DOWN, NO, LESS, ILL, NA, NE, LO, SK, VK, KK and KL.

Some examples of positive names: Abdul, Rahim, Hassan, Halim, Rashid, Jaffar, Yassin, Zaid, Karim and Azar, Faroz, Arshad; Kuan, Tong, Man, Wong, Liang, Shing, Chin, Fatt, Yee, Sing: Richard, Henry, Clinton, Albert, Robert, Anthony, Winston, Johnson, Angela, Amy, Angeline, Betty, Jacquiline, Rebecca and Rita.

To increase the power of a favourable name, Vijaay suggests that people should write their name in red ink and capital letters 108 times daily on a white sheet of paper.

Another exercise is to enunciate their name as many times as possible in front of a mirror for a minimum of 48 days.

Such acts can also be performed while bathing, driving and combing your hair, and can stimulate the results to take effect immediately.

To further invoke the power of your name, take a rectangular card and write it down 27 times in red ink.

The name card should be read out loud at least nine times and placed under the pillow.

If the above exercises are done consciously for 180 days continuously, an individual can expect to see the desired result in his or her life within this period.

Whether you place a new letter to enhance your name or remove one to correct any ill effects, what is vital here is for the exercise to be done with absolute faith and utmost respect in expectation of the desired results.

Vasthu Sastra Talk

T. Selva will present a talk on how to choose an auspicious property and energise a house using pyramids at The Star Property Fair today at 11.30am at G Hotel, Jalan Gurney, Penang. Admission is free; to register, call 012-329 9713.

T. Selva, senior consulting editor at The Star, is the first disciple of 7th-generation Vasthu Sastra master Yuvaraj Sowma from Chennai, India. This column appears on the last Sunday of every month.


Sources: Ancient Secrets T.Selva

T. Selva is the author of the Vasthu Sastra Guide and the first disciple of 7th generation Vasthu Sastra master Yuvaraj Sowma from Chennai, India.
tselvas@thestar.com.my

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MH17 black boxes handovered to Malaysia to be passed to AAIB UK via Dutch investigators

Malaysian experts hand over MH17 black boxes to Dutch investigators


THE HAGUE, July 22 -- The black boxes from the crashed flight MH17 have been handed over to Dutch investigators in Ukraine, the Dutch Foreign Ministry announced late Tuesday.

"The black boxes from flight MH17 have been handed over by Malaysian experts to the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) that is leading the international investigation," the ministry said.

According to local media, the black boxes will be sent to Farnborough in Britain, where experts can read the data stored in the black boxes and try to find the exact cause of the crash.

The ministry said, the experts from the Dutch safety board will travel with other experts from several countries together, to send the black boxes to Farnborough.

For now, the Dutch side is in charge of the investigation of the crash, which caused 193 Dutch citizens' lives.

The Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

The Dutch government announced early Tuesday that a flight with the first victims' bodies will arrive in Eindhoven, the Netherlands on Wednesday.   Xinhua

Malaysian official: MH17's black boxes to be passed to AAIB

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Wednesday in a statement that the international investigation team, led by the Netherlands, had decided to pass the black boxes to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) for forensic analysis.


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Monday, July 21, 2014

MH17 probe must steer clear of politics


The whirling aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is now upon us, with Western-led international opinion turning the spotlight on Russia. We believe that the entire case must be investigated fairly and thoroughly. The United Nations or the International Civil Aviation Organization must play a leading role, and all sides must coordinate without preconditions or preconceptions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have agreed that all evidence from the downed plane should be made available for international investigation, and that experts should be given access to the site.

This is good news. Moscow must take a proactive stance toward this investigation.

The West has fingered Russia as the main suspect in the tragedy. Under such circumstances, any hesitation on Russia's part will provoke more blame from the West. If there is no result to the investigation, Russia will, by default, be named the perpetrator. Therefore, letting the facts of the case speak suits Russia's interests.

The Western rush to judge Russia is not based on evidence or logic. Russia had no motive to bring down MH17; doing so would only narrow its political and moral space to operate in the Ukrainian crisis. The tragedy has no political benefit for Ukrainian rebel forces, either.

Russia has been back-footed, forced into a passive stance by Western reaction. It is yet another example of the power of Western opinion as a political tool.

Politically speaking, shooting down a passenger jet would be ridiculous. It could have been an error, the precondition for which is the chaos within Ukraine.

The truth is the most persuasive tool of all. As the targeting of civilian air traffic is a mortal threat to all air passengers, a fair investigation is in the interest of all sides. The investigation process must steer clear of any political interference. The truth must be made public once it is found out.

Without a doubt, we live in a highly politicized world. Political zealotry has always been part and parcel of revolutionary passions.

The West has successfully put itself in a position to dictate "political correctness" in international discourse. Those unwilling to work with Western interests will often find themselves in a tough position.

The crash of MH17 is a tragedy of immense proportions. But the discussion swirling around this event has centered around three positions: shock at and condemnation of the event itself, quibbling over the Ukrainian crisis, and defining the opposition between Russia and the West. The first seems to be overwhelmed by the latter two, disrupting any investigation into the tragedy.

We sincerely hope the investigation will stick to factual and technological questions. People need the truth rather than another geopolitical rivalry.

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-21 0:13:01

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MH17 needs impartial investigation

[2014-07-19 06:47] The cause of the downing of the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, must be found as soon as possible, and those responsible must be identified and brought to justice.