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Friday, January 31, 2014

Cheeky equine greetings of the Horse 2014: ma shang you…

The messages for the New Year convey people’s hopes and goals along with a sassy sense of humour.
ma shang

HAPPY Chinese New Year! On this very first day of the Year of the Horse, let’s take a look at the New Year greetings that have swept cyberspace before the Snake could make a slithering exit.

A phrase that begins with ma shang you… is popularly used in the context of Chinese New Year wishes.

Separately, ma means “horse” while shang means “above”. When combined, the two characters form an adverb that means “immediately” or “right away”. Literally, however, they can denote “on horseback”.

Meanwhile, ma shang you… means “get (something) immediately”.

The common greetings include ma shang you qian, ma shang you fang and ma shang you che hao, which mean “get rich immediately”, “own a house immediately” and “obtain a car licence plate immediately” (from the compulsory licence plate lottery before one can own a car, a measure to curb traffic congestion).

Accompanying these phrases are illustrations of horses with ingots, bank notes, houses or cars on their back.
Another cheeky example shows a pair of mini elephants sitting on the back of a horse.

It is used to express a wish of finding a partner in the New Year as the Chinese term for partner, dui xiang, is literally a pair of elephants.

But what if a person wants it all — money, house, car and everything?

Just place an eggplant on the back of a horse because eggplant or qie rhymes with everything in Chinese.

On Taobao, China’s version of eBay, snuggly horse soft toys are currently selling like hot cakes. Many come with eggplants, elephants, money and houses, while others have chariots from Chinese chess to represent cars.

But there are party poopers who have pointed out that horses have a layer of hair, mao, and thus ma shang you… becomes ma shang you mao. The phrase means “have nothing”, which dashes one’s dreams of getting anything at all.

Jokes aside, these ma shang you… phrases can be summarised into one conclusion — the people’s earnest wish for a better life in the brand new year.

According to China Women’s News, this ma shang you… trend is not a new invention.

Traditional decorative items have been found adorned with the illustration of a monkey on horseback, as the Chinese character for monkey, hou, is homophonic to an honorific title in ancient times.

When asked to analyse the ma shang you… trend in the local media, Xia Xueluan, a professor of sociology at Peking University, said that it was a reflection of people’s anxiety in the face of housing and marriage issues in real life.

“It also brings out their aspirations and expectations. Through expressing their hopes boldly, they are setting a goal for themselves and then working hard towards achieving it,” he said.

On that note, here’s wishing you a joyful celebration with friends and family. May the masculine beast bring you whatever your heart desires on its back. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Contributed by:  by Tho Sin Yi Check-in China
The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
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Good things on the trot in Year of the Horse for 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good things on the trot in Year of the Horse for 2014

The noble horse should bring luck and harmony to those who make the proper observances.
WE are four days away from ushering in the Chinese New Year and I’m swamped with queries from readers as to how they can improve their luck and prosperity in the Year of the Horse.

Local and foreign geomancy experts have been giving varying views about this year’s outlook.

Several astrologers and feng shui experts have predicted the Year of the Horse to be a better year than the previous one and there are some who have forecast financial struggles and challenges.

Some people attribute their successes and windfalls to feng shui and spiritual practices and there are groups who relate them to hard work and coincidences.

The horse, the seventh animal in the Chinese zodiac, embodies characteristics such as strength, perseverance, speed, purity and loyalty. – EPA

So which philosophy is correct, or which one do we follow?

It depends on which faith system (Chinese or Indian) you observe.

I spoke to several experts recently on the subject of metaphysics to get some insight on the different schools of philosophy.

Feng shui consultant Henry Fong from Kuala Lumpur said that if one wants to have better luck and harmony in the Year of the Wood Horse, they would have to follow the orientation of certain things in their home.

For dwellers living in a house that is facing south, he said, they should not carry out renovations or they would activate Tai Sui, which would create problems for the occupants.

(Tai Sui refers to stars directly opposite to Jupiter. They influence the Chinese zodiac, and are involved in religious Taoism and feng shui.)

Fong urged people not to renovate the north sector for fear of triggering the three killing energies resulting in obstacles, disaster and robbery.

He said, however, that it would be good to occupy and spend time in the north, south and south-west sectors.

Fong said the north-west and east sectors should be avoided and if they are unable to do so, they should place metal items there to neutralise the negative energies that can lead to health problems.

Luck and fortune according to Indian vedic astrology is determined by the placement of the nine planets on an individual’s birth chart based on the date, month, year and time of birth.

According to Vasthu Sastra consultant and astrologer Master Yuvaraj Sowma from Chennai, luck and fortune are uncontrollable and people only get what they deserve based on their astrology and not what they desire.

He agrees that luck can be induced through spiritual practices like performing specific rituals to woo the energy of positivity.

Yuvaraj said the first six months of this year would produce better results than the second half.

From the Chinese almanac, the horse is naturally lucky when it comes to finance and career; meaning those born in the Year of the Horse will enjoy a better period.

To enhance destiny, luck symbols are made available in feng shui because of the belief that such products help chi flow gracefully through rooms, homes and offices.

Energy consultant and author Janarrdhana Guptha from India promotes good luck symbols as an effective way to manifest things that an individual wants to attract into his or her life.

According to him, symbolism is popular in almost every culture and symbols impact our subconscious mind, stimulate confidence and offer good outcomes.

“When the geometric shape, size, meaning and their other nuances are properly understood and activated, it results in transmission of energy which is the vital force that governs everything in the universe.

“Chi has the power to alter and amplify energy flow in any space,” said Guptha, who is the author of Guide To Feng Shui Good Luck Symbols.

He said the end result of using good luck symbols, charms, amulets and talismans is that they create an environment rich with positive energy that produces positive thinking, focused minds and confidence, and removes blockages.

In order for symbols to produce the anticipated results, the products should be cleansed and energised before use.

As for horse figurines, Guptha said the Chinese have always associated it with gifts given to emperors.

The horse is the seventh animal in the Chinese zodiac and it embodies noble characteristics such as strength, perseverance, speed, purity and loyalty.

For those who wish to have their talents and hard work acknowledged by their superiors, Guptha said they should place a flying horse figure in the south of their homes.

The horse statuette is ideal for those who are in marketing or the travel industry, and are frequent travellers.

Vasthu Sastra talk and astrology talk

T. Selva will present a talk on ancient secrets, Vasthu Sastra and the astrology forecast for 2014 from 3pm to 5pm on Feb 15 at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), Jalan Universiti, Bandar Barat, Kampar, Perak. Admission is free. To register, call 012-329 9713.

Contributed by T. Selva
You can follow T. Selva on twitter@tselvas and write to him at This column appears on the last Sunday of every month.

 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.

Monday, January 27, 2014

US Fed tapering of bond purchases, a new economic boom or bust cycles?

Is a new economic crisis at hand?

The two-day sell-off of currencies and shares of several developing countries last week raises the question of whether this is the start of a new financial crisis.

AT the end of last week, several developing countries saw sharp falls in their currency as well as stock market values, prompting the question of whether it is the start of a wider economic crisis.

The sell-off in emerging economies also spilled over to the American and European stock markets, thus causing global turmoil.

Malaysia was not among the most badly affected, but the ringgit also declined in line with the trend by 1.1% against the US dollar last week; it has fallen 1.7% so far this year.

An American market analyst termed it an “emerging market flu”, and several global media reports tend to focus on weaknesses in individual developing countries.

However, the across-the-board sell-off is a general response to the “tapering” of purchase of bonds by the US Federal Reserve, marking the slowdown of its easy-money policy that has been pumping billions of dollars into the banking system.

A lot of that was moved by investors into the emerging economies in search of higher yields. Now that the party is over (or at least winding down), the massive inflows of funds are slowing down or even stopping in some developing countries.

The current “emerging markets sell-off” is thus not explained by ad hoc events. It is a predictable and even inevitable part of a boom-bust cycle in capital flows to and from the developing countries, coming from the monetary policies of developed countries and the investment behaviour of their investment funds.

This cycle, which is very destabilising to the developing economies, has been facilitated by the deregulation of financial markets and the liberalisation of capital flows, which in the past was carefully regulated.

This prompted bouts of speculative international flows by investment funds. Emerging economies, having higher economic growth and interest rates, attracted investors.

Yilmaz Akyuz, chief economist at South Centre, analysed the most recent boom-bust cycles in his paper Waving or Drowning?

A boom of private capital flows to developing countries began in the early 2000 but ended with the flight to safety triggered by the Lehman collapse in September 2008.

The flows recovered quickly. By 2010-12, net flows to Asia and Latin America exceeded the peaks reached before the crisis. This was largely due to the easy-money policies and near zero interest rates in the United States and Europe.

In the United States, the Fed pumped US$85bil (RM283bil) a month into the banking system by buying bonds. It was hoped the banks would lend this to businesses to generate recovery, but investors placed much of the funds in stock markets and developing countries.

The surge in capital inflows led to a strong recovery in currency, equity and bond markets of major developing countries. Some of these countries welcomed the new capital inflows and boom in asset prices.

Others were angry that the inflows caused their currencies to appreciate (making their exports less competitive) and that the ultra-easy monetary policies of developed countries were part of a “currency war” to make the latter more competitive.

In 2013, capital inflows into developing countries weakened due to the European crisis and the prospect of the US Fed “tapering” or reducing its monthly bond purchases.

This weakening took place just as many of the emerging economies saw their current account deficits widen. Thus, their need for foreign capital increased just as inflows became weaker and unstable.

In May to June 2013, the Fed announced it could soon start “tapering”. This led to sudden sharp currency falls, including in India and Indonesia.

However, the Fed postponed the taper, giving some breathing space. In December, it finally announced the tapering — a reduction of its monthly bond purchase from US$85bil (RM283bil) to US$75bil (RM249bil), with more to come.

There was then no sudden sell-off in emerging economies, as the markets had already anticipated it and the Fed also announced that interest rates would be kept at current low levels until the end of 2015.

By now, however, the investment mood had already turned against the emerging economies. Many were now termed “fragile”, especially those with current account deficits and dependent on capital inflows.

Most of the so-called Fragile Five are in fact members of the BRICS, which had been viewed just a few years before as the most influential global growth drivers.

Several factors emerged last week, which together constituted a trigger for the sell-off. These were a “flash” report indicating contraction of manufacturing in China; a sudden fall in the Argentini­an peso; and expectations that a US Fed meeting on Jan 29 will announce another instalment of tapering.

For two days (Jan 23 and 24), the currencies and stock markets of several developing countries were in turmoil, which spilled over to the US and European stock markets.

If this situation continues this week, it may just signal a new phase of investor disenchantment with emerging economies, reduced capital inflows or even outflows. This could put strains on the affected countries’ foreign reserves and weaken their balance of payments.

The accompanying fall in currency would have positive effects on export competitiveness, but negative effects on accelerating inflation (as import prices go up) and debt servicing (as more local currency is needed to repay the same amount of debt denominated in foreign currency).

This week will thus be critical in seeing whether the situation deteriorates or stabilises, which may just happen if the Fed decides to discontinue tapering for now. Unfortunate­ly, the former is more likely.

 Contributed by Global Trends  Martin Khor
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

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Fed Slows Purchases While U.K. Growth Picks Up: Global Economy   

The global economic expansion is speeding up, data this week are projected to show. In the U.S., a gain in fourth-quarter gross domestic product probably completed the strongest six months of growth in almost two years for the world’s largest economy. The pickup combined with progress in the labor market means Federal Reserve policy makers meeting this week may ease up again on the monetary accelerator.

Across the Atlantic, the U.K. economy may have grown over the past 12 months by the most in almost six years, while in Germany, business confidence probably improved to the highest level since mid-2011.

This week also includes central bank meetings in Mexico and New Zealand. In Mexico, monetary officials may keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged as more government spending reduces the need for stimulus. Such a decision is less clear in New Zealand, where odds of an interest-rate increase have climbed.


-- Gross domestic product advanced at a 3.2 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter as spending by American consumers climbed by the most in three years, economists forecast the Jan. 30 figures will show. Combined with a 4.1 percent inventory-fueled gain in the prior period, GDP in the second half of the year was the strongest since the six months ended March 2012.

-- “A substantial acceleration in private sector demand led by stronger consumer spending and a significant pickup in exports after weakness through the first part of the year should drive a second straight quarter of near 4 percent real GDP growth even with an expected drag of 0.5 percentage point from federal government spending, largely reflecting lost work hours during the government shutdown,” Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York, wrote in a Jan. 17 report.

-- “The first cut of Q4 GDP will be more about the internals of the report than the headline,” economists at RBC Capital Markets LLC, led by Tom Porcelli, wrote in a research note. “While we look for a 2.8 percent annualized advance in top-line growth, the details should seem even brighter with real personal consumer consumption rising 4 percent. We anticipate that the inventory swing will hold growth back a full percentage point.”


-- Ben S. Bernanke will chair his final meeting of Federal Reserve policy makers on Jan. 28-29 before handing over the reins of the world’s most powerful central bank to Janet Yellen. Bernanke and a different cast of regional Fed bank presidents who’ll vote on the Federal Open Market Committee are projected to reduce the pace of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities purchases by a total of $10 billion to $65 billion as the economy improves.

-- “We expect the Fed to announce another $10 billion taper and possibly strengthen its guidance,” Michael Hanson, U.S. senior economist at Bank of America Corp., said in a research note. “The Yellen-led Fed will see numerous personnel changes in 2014, but we still expect a patient and very accommodative policy stance.”

-- “The FOMC will likely upgrade its summary of current economic conditions in its policy statement,” BNP Paribas’ Julia Coronado, a former Fed Board economist, said in a research note. “The Q4 performance is expected to be driven by final demand, in particular a surge in consumer spending on goods and services. The January FOMC statement could acknowledge this better performance by stating that ‘economic growth picked up somewhat’ of late.

‘‘The confirmation of their long-held optimistic expectation for stronger economic growth and tranquil financial markets will likely lead the Committee to announce another ‘measured step’ in the tapering process. We expect another $10 billion cut in the pace of QE asset purchases.’’


-- Britain will be the first Group of Seven nation to report gross domestic product for the fourth quarter when it releases the data on Jan. 28. Economists forecast growth of 0.7 percent, close to the 0.8 percent expansion in the prior three-month period. From a year earlier, GDP probably rose 2.8 percent, driven by domestic demand, which would be the best performance since the first three months of 2008.

-- ‘‘To date, the recovery has been somewhat unbalanced, led by consumption, so we remain skeptical about the sustainability over the medium-term,’’ said Ross Walker, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London. ‘‘Still, there is clearly sufficient momentum in the short-term data to underpin trend-like rates of growth.’’ Walker sees the economy expanding 2.7 percent this year, just above the Bloomberg consensus estimate of 2.6 percent.


-- German business confidence is heading for its highest reading in 2 1/2 years, underlining the strength in an economy that’s helping to power the euro-area recovery. Economists in a survey, set for release on Jan. 27, see the business climate index increasing to 110 in January from 109.5 last month. Germany will continue to outpace the euro area this year, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting 1.6 percent expansion, compared with 1 percent for the currency region.

-- Thilo Heidrich, an economist at Deutsche Postbank AG in Bonn, said the ‘‘mood in the German economy is likely to have brightened at the start of the year.’’

-- ‘‘The near-term outlook remains one of cautious optimism,’’ Bank of America economists including Laurence Boone said in a note. ‘‘Domestic demand, in particular, should support growth in coming years.’’


-- Japan’s trade deficit narrowed to 1.24 trillion yen ($12.1 billion) in December from a month earlier, even as import growth probably accelerated, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists before data due Jan. 27. A record run of monthly deficits shows the cost of the yen’s slide against the dollar and the extra energy imports needed because of the nuclear industry shutdown that followed a disaster in 2011.

-- ‘‘Throughout the year, few manufacturers believed that the yen would stay weak, let alone depreciate further,” Frederic Neumann, Hong Kong-based co-head of Asian economics at HSBC Holdings Plc, said in a research report. “As a result, (dollar) prices charged for goods sold overseas were not cut amid fears that such a move would have to be reversed once the currency strengthened again, something that few firms like to do. All this meant nice profits for Japanese firms (higher yen earnings for their shipments) but no gain in export market shares.”


-- Economists and markets are split on whether the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will increase the official cash rate for the first time in 3 1/2 years at its Jan. 30 meeting. Governor Graeme Wheeler said late last year the RBNZ will need to raise interest rates in 2014 as growth and inflation accelerate and unemployment declines. While only three of 15 economists predict Wheeler will lift the rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent this week, markets are pricing in an almost 70 percent chance he will do so.

-- “The lists of reasons are long for both the ‘why wait’ and ‘why not’ sides of the fence,” Nick Tuffley, chief economist at ASB Bank Ltd. in Auckland, said in a research report. “The RBNZ can justify either outcome, and we put the chances of a rate hike as 1 in 4. That is to say, not our core view, but a significant risk.”


-- Mexico’s central bank on Jan. 31 may keep the overnight interest rate unchanged at a record-low 3.5 percent in its first decision of 2014 as increased government spending stimulates the economy.

-- “There’s no need to reduce the rate any more” after 0.25 percentage-point reductions in September and October, Marco Oviedo, chief Mexico economist at Barclays Plc, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The economy has shown signs of recovery.”

-- Policy makers have “sent the message that they’re comfortable with the current level of interest rates,” said Gabriel Lozano, chief Mexico economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. With sales tax increases fanning inflation, “real interest rates are temporarily negative, but the central bank will be confident this is a transitory situation that will correct in the second half of the year” as inflation slows.

Contributed b Bloomberg

Sunday, January 26, 2014

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 acid test is whether victims of their past aggression believe them.

THE recent visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine has provoked a very negative reaction in China and South Korea.

While less strident, other countries like the United States and Singapore also did not approve of the visit. The former expressed disappointment while the latter stated that it regretted the visit.

At the heart of the disapproval is the belief that such a visit indicates that Japan has not come to terms with its past of aggression in Asia. Many compare this unfavourably with Germany where it is very unlikely, if not inconceivable, that the highest German political leader will ever make a public visit to a shrine of Adolf Hitler or of any top Nazi leader.

How valid is this comparison?

It is first necessary to state that the issue is somewhat more complicated than a clear-cut case of an utterly unrepentant Japan and a completely contrite Germany. The Japanese public are deeply pacifist. While it is true that they have caused tremendous destruction in Asia, they themselves have been profoundly scarred by the atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Moreover, there are many Japanese, parti­cularly those in the teachers’ unions, progressive intellectuals – especially from the older generation – and others, who are unequivocal in their condemnation of their country’s record in the Second World War.

Germany, for its part, did experience some neo-Nazi manifestations, especially in the eastern part of Germany just after reunification. And there was the controversy over the visit of President Reagan to a cemetery in Pitburgh in 1985 where some of Hitler’s Waffen SS were buried.

Helmut Kohl, then Chancellor, despite protests from many Jewish personalities, insisted that Reagan together with Kohl himself, not cave in to the protests. The Germans argued that many German cemeteries have buried SS officers. Moreover, many of these SS men were innocent young men forced to join the SS at a young age.

Such aside, it is nevertheless clear that in the main, the Germans have come to terms with their recent history. They have clearly acknowledged they did wrong under Hitler and have vowed not to resurrect the Third Reich.

They have, in addition to giving substantial reparations to their victims, made many convincing gestures of contrition, one of the most dramatic being that of the then Chancellor, Willi Brandt, going down on one knee in a monument in Poland in 1970 honouring the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising during the Nazi era.

The Japanese on their part are much more ambivalent. Their apologies have been hedged about by many qualifications, and often when made by one leader refuted by statements and actions of other leaders.
And, more dramatically, some of their highes­t political leaders have visited, and intend to continue visiting, the Yasukuni Shrine where many class one war criminals have been enshrined.

Whatever the declarations the Japanese may make about the aims of their visits to Yasukuni being only to honour their war dead, the acid test is whether their war victims believe them. In this, the Chinese and Koreans do not. On the other hand, the victims of the Germans do.

The most dramatic recent example is the plea by the Polish foreign minister in 2011 to the Germans to take leadership of a federal Europe!

One can hardly expect a Chinese or Korean leader to ask for Japanese leadership in Asian affairs!

There are three reasons why both differ in their approach to their recent history. One consists of what they actually, or believe they actually, did.

Amidst the horrors of war the Germans unleashed, they went on an extermination of Jews and other groups which could not be justified by the exigencies of war or by any other wrongs that others may have been inflicted on the Germans. Such an extermination was a clear-cut case of genocide.

Many Japanese, on their part, argued that they committed no such genocide in Asia, and what atrocities Japanese soldiers committed were not a result of policy but of the stress of war. Moreover, in their colonial conquests, they were only following the examples of the Western colonial powers. In some places like South-East Asia, they helped their liberation movements.

While there is some degree of truth in the Japanese argument, some heinous crimes such as the human experimentation by their notorious Japanese Unit 731 and the testing of bacteriological warfare in parts of China cannot easily be justified as due to the strains of war.

While the Western comparison over colonial conquests may seem valid, it cuts no ice with those countries colonised, like Korea and China.

In fairness, some Japanese scholars acknowledge that whatever the Western example, they were wrong in colonising these two countries. Hopefully, such acknowledgement can be one basis for reconciliation between Japan and their Northeast Asian neighbours.

The second reason, somewhat related to the first, is the lack of a regional grouping the Japanese could identify with or be a member of. Germany had a regional organisation, the European community, they could, if not subordinate themselves to its regional aims, use as the focus of their attempt not to repeat their past.

In the words of one of the greatest 20th century German intellectuals, Thomas Mann, Germany should strive for a European Germany, not a German Europe. Asia is too diverse, culturally and economically, and still filled with bitter war memories, for Japan to identify with.

Third, the de-Nazification campaign in Germany was quite thorough. Few Germans, if any, with Nazi connections were allowed to occupy significant governmental and private posts in post-war Germany.

Japan was different. While in the initial stages, the Americans, who basically dominated Allied policy (there was more non-American input in running post-war Germany), intended to purge Japan of those involved in Japanese aggression in Asia, they subsequently relented by allowing many to assume positions of influence in a post-war Japan. (Abe’s maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi who was Prime Minister in the 1950s was one of them.)

The US needed an anti-communist, strong Japan against communism in Asia, especially China. It is thus difficult for post-war Japanese governments consisting of many who committed aggression in Asia and who could have influenced their successors to acknowledge they did wrong.

It would now seem that those inclined to the denial that Japan committed aggression are gaining momentum in Japan. It would be a sad day for Japan and for Asia that a Japan which had made a lot of headway in its peace diplomacy after the war would have that peaceful image destroyed by becoming clearly unrepentant about its past.

- Contributed by Lee Poh Ping, a Senior Research Fellow, Institute of China Studies at Universiti Malaya.


Dialogue 07/25/2013 Shinzo Abe revisits Southeast Asia CCTV News ... - 500 × 372 - Search by image
Dr. Lee Poh Ping, Senior Research Fellow, Inst. of China Studies, University of Malaya

Dialogue 07/25/2013 Shinzo Abe revisits Southeast Asia CCTV News - CNTV English

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5.China slams Japan PM Abe's speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos implication: the   Nazis Hitler's DNA of the East?
6.An utterly unrepentant Japan opening up past wounds derail peace diplomacy

Saturday, January 25, 2014

China slams Japan PM Abe's speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos implication: the Nazis Hitler's DNA of the East?

China: Abe´s Britain-Germany comparison inappropriate CCTV News - CNTV English

Full video: Chinese FM Wang Yi addresses World Economic Forum CCTV News - CNTV English

China Thursday refuted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent appeal for more transparency in China's military budget, stating that it is Japan that should increase transparency and explain its own military buildup.

"China's defense policy is transparent and has been published in its white papers and on other occasions," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Thursday told a regular press briefing in response to Abe's speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a day earlier.

"We must ... restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked," Abe told the annual meeting of global business and political leaders, following his government's custom of not naming China in such references.

In response, Qin urged Japan to explain to Asia and the international community the real purpose of amending its pacifist constitution, which has been in existence since 1947. The Abe government has been trying to revise it so as to greenlight the expansion of Japan's military forces.

In December, Abe's cabinet approved a critical defense policy package comprising new defense program guidelines, a five-year defense buildup plan and the national security strategy. Japan vowed to seek more "proactive" roles for its military forces abroad and to set new guidelines on arms exports, signaling a major shift from its previous restrictive stance.

"Abe tends to depict China as a threat at whatever occasion he attends. His purpose is to worsen Sino-Japan relations and damage China's image in the international community, as well as tear apart economic development in the Asia-Pacific region," Lü Yaodong, a research fellow of Japanese politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

During the Davos speech, Abe also called for dispute resolution through "dialogue and the rule of law, and not through force and coercion."

Qin said that Japan cannot on one hand refuse to admit mistakes and continue to denigrate China, and on the other hand indulge in empty rhetoric to advocate dialogue, as it is the Japanese leader that is shutting the door to dialogue.

Liu Jiangyong, a vice director of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said it is inappropriate for Abe to cast blame for political issues at an economic forum.

"Abe is trying to distract people's attention by claiming it is others' fault," Liu told the Global Times.

Abe also defended his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, saying that the shrine honors the dead of World War I and the 1868 Meiji war, not just war criminals or others who died in World War II.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is currently attending the international conference on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland, described Abe's argument as futile, which only serves to expose Abe's erroneous perception of history.

Even today, the Yasukuni Shrine still represents the notion that the aggression of Japan in World War II was "just," the Pacific War Japan launched was "self-defense" and the trial at the Far East International Military Tribunal was "illegitimate," as well as honoring 14 Class-A war criminals, Wang noted.

South Korea Thursday also said that it is a complete contradiction to talk about forging friendly ties while continuing visits to the shrine.

Liu said Abe is unlikely to change his stance even though he sensed the pressure and isolation from the international community.

"His explanation reveals that he doesn't think he's wrong and he would do it again," Liu said.

Tensions between China and Japan have been rising since Tokyo announced in September 2012 the "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Chinese air force planes have been regularly patrolling the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which covers the Diaoyu Islands, air force spokesman Shen Jinke said Thursday.

On a recent patrol, multiple Chinese aircraft were sent to "monitor, identify, track and warn" multiple foreign military planes that had entered the ADIZ, established two months ago, Shen added.

By Zhang Yiwei Global Times

China, Japan open German front in diplomatic war

BEIJING (Jan 25, 2014): One hundred years after the outbreak of World War I, China and Japan are ripping selected pages from Germany's history -- including the Nazi period -- as they seek to demonise each other in their modern-day diplomatic battles.

Beijing's state-controlled media have compared Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Adolf Hitler, using shrill rhetoric that analysts say exploits Tokyo's mixed messages about its past aggression in China and elsewhere.

At the same time, they urge him to emulate Germany's post-war contrition for the evils of Nazism.

Abe, for his part, has raised the spectre of 1914, saying at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that relations between Japan and China resemble those of Britain and Germany as they stumbled towards war.

Tokyo and Beijing are locked in an increasingly acrimonious row over small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that Japan controls but China regards as its territory, with their militaries warily eyeing each other.

Commentators have likened China, a rising power, to Germany in the early 20th century and portrayed the islands as Sarajevo, site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggered the Great War.

In Davos, Abe pointed out that war broke out in 1914 despite strong economic relations between Germany and Britain.

"I think we are in a similar situation. We don't want an inadvertent conflict arising between these two countries," he told reporters.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang roundly rejected the simile Thursday.

"Actually in history China was already a major country in the Tang and Song dynasties (from the seventh to the 13th centuries), so there is no so-called 'China is becoming a major country'," he said.

"There is no need to make an issue of the Britain-Germany relationship."

Hitler's DNA

Chinese officials have lashed out at Abe since his December 26 visit to the hugely controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 senior war criminals described by Qin as "the Nazis of the East".

The shrine is seen in China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan's 20th century military and colonial aggression which saw the country occupy a large swathe of East Asia, often to brutal effect on civilians and prisoners of war.

In what analysts see as crude propaganda, the overseas edition of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily headlined an article "Hitler's DNA in Abe", illustrated with a mock-up of Japan's leader gazing up at the Fuhrer.

The Global Times tabloid, in its English edition, this week carried a cartoon of Japan's national flag with the sun symbol in the centre dripping blood and a swastika imposed.

"You could say it's propaganda," Torsten Weber, an expert in modern East Asian history at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo, told AFP.

"It is a way to distort history and it's also a way to distract attention from more pressing problems that, for example, China faces."

Chinese media have also tried to compare Abe unfavourably with how Germany faced up to Nazi atrocities.

The official Xinhua news agency urged him to follow the example of West German chancellor Willy Brandt, who fell to his knees at a monument to victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising -- a brutally crushed 1943 revolt by Jews in the Polish capital facing deportation to the Nazi death camps.


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5.China slams Japan PM Abe's speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos implication: the   Nazis Hitler's DNA of the East?
6.An utterly unrepentant Japan opening up past wounds derail peace diplomacy

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Emotional intelligence for business success

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to relate and empathize with emotions in others.  While traditional attitudes in business have preferred to closet most emotions except a prescribed few business-related qualities like drive, ambition, and single-mindedness, 21st century attitudes assert that emotional intelligence in business isn’t just important, it may be essential for success.

21st Century Work Ethics
Collaboration is one of the major tenets of business in the 21st century.  Saying it’s important, however, doesn’t help businesses achieve it in practice.  One reason collaboration is so important is because business is becoming increasingly global.  Offices spread across nations are learning to work together as a result of new partnerships and relationships with new companies.  The gel that helps support collaboration in this century isn’t single-mindedness or even an aggressive business drive.  Instead, it’s things like emotional intelligence that increasingly allow people to work together—and work together well.

Management and Emotional Intelligence
When management is not emotionally intelligent, business owners see high turnover rates.  Workers, whether new to the business or veterans, simply work better when they are with emotionally intelligent people. A lack of understanding leads to conflict and, in some cases, weekly or even daily conflict.  A manager that can’t relate to others isn’t likely to have the emotional tools required to build and manage teams.  People without emotional intelligence may be quite intelligent otherwise and almost certainly are when they land supervisory positions; however, becoming a boss does not mean they have the right skills to be a leader in this 21st century business climate.

Why Do Managers Need to be Emotionally Intelligent?
One of the main reasons to have a team of emotionally intelligent managers is because then business is likely to be better.  According to Computer Weekly, “The world’s most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence quotient or ‘EQ’ for short.” The article goes on to explain, “Psychologist David McClelland did some thorough leadership research that found that executives with higher EQ outperformed their annual revenue targets by 15-20%, and that 87% of the executives rated highly on EQ came in the top 33% of performance-related bonuses.”

Some Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Managers
When considering promoting someone to management, look for applicants who boast rewarding relationships with other people, cope well with pressure, and lead by example.  The Harvard Business Review asserts that emotional intelligence is “firm, but not rigid,” implying that some people may get better at it if it becomes a priority.  On the other hand, when you make it a point to hire and promote employees with emotional intelligence, you’re more likely to achieve both the work climate and success you want for your 21st century business.

What do you think? On the flip side, what are some traits you’ve encountered of emotionally
idioticunintelligent managers?

Contributed by
Shafat Qazi, Founder and CEO of BQE Software, is an engineer-turned-entrepreneur who created the most awarded time billing software ever, BillQuick, while still in college. He set out to make time tracking, billing and project management easier for engineers as well as all service professionals, and continues to perfect BQE Software products hands-on today.

 Why Entrepreneurs Should Care About Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence small business 

When asked what the most important qualities for entrepreneurs are, you may come up with a list that’s completely different from that of the next person.  

Successful entrepreneurs have a whole list of traits that serve them well in their endeavors. Commonly cited qualities might include determination, passion, confidence, and optimism – all distinctive traits of entrepreneurs and instrumental in achieving small business success.

But there’s one quality that you might not have thought to add to your list: emotional intelligence.
It’s the single quality that plays a defining role in the success of most entrepreneurs.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EQ, is defined as the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of both oneself and others.

With this knowledge, individuals are able to navigate social networks, make informed decisions, and react to behavior accordingly. This quality is divided into two major categories –  personal and social competence, – each which have their own core skills.

Personal competence is comprised of self-awareness and self-management skills, which centers more on the individual’s ability to perceive his or her own emotions.

On the other hand, social competence, which is made up of social awareness and relationship management skills, determines the entrepreneur’s ability to understand and react to the moods and behaviors of others. Both are equally important for entrepreneurs and can play a major role in whether the individual succeeds or not.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Emotional intelligence provides entrepreneurs with a set of social and personal skills that can help them in any situation or environment.

The following are just a few of the skills that are enhanced by emotional intelligence:

Decision Making:
One of the major components of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which enables individuals with the ability to accurately perceive their emotions as it happens. They are able to keep stray emotions in check, preventing them from affecting any decisions or choices. As a result, emotionally intelligent individuals are able to look at the big picture without swayed by the details.

Customer Satisfaction:
Small businesses are nothing without happy, satisfied customers. Luckily, EQ provides entrepreneurs with the ability to deliver customer satisfaction. Emotional intelligence allows the individual to be more empathetic.

They have the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others. They are able to help customers with their buying decisions and keep them engaged, providing a more comprehensive, satisfying experience.

Entrepreneurs are often responsible for leading the direction of their endeavor and clearly communicating goals to their teams. Therefore, they must be able to form a good rapport with their employees, inspiring and motivating wherever possible. Emotional intelligence provides entrepreneurs with the enhanced ability to manage interactions and form meaningful relationships. In addition, individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence tend to be more self-confident and adaptable – vital traits for any entrepreneur.

Conflict Resolution:
Whether there is a dispute with a customer or a disagreement between team members, entrepreneurs are bound to run into conflicts. However, emotional intelligence provides the individual with conflict resolution skills. Entrepreneurs with this quality are able to gauge the emotions of both parties and provide a resolution that will connect with both. With this ability, they are able to quickly placate the threat to efficiency and productivity.

 Conntributed by Sara Fletcher
Today’s Guest Poston Start Your Own Small Bizwas provided by Sara Fletcher. Sara  is interested in emotional intelligence in leadership and understanding how it affects her life. She loves to explore psychology, business, and sports in relation to her test of emotional intelligence.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

S P Setia's head honcho Liew resigns, looking forward to mentoring in Eco World

Ten months after S P Setia Bhd unveiled its succession plan, head honcho Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin has announced his intention to resign as president and chief executive officer.

Also quitting the company is chief financial officer Datuk Teow Leong Seng.

Liew’s departure was expected by industry observers but Teow’s resignation came as a surprise as he was named deputy chairman in the property player’s succession plan earlier, analysts told StarBiz.

Liew would leave the property giant on April 30 while Teow would stay on until July 31.

Liew and Teow would continue to be involved in the Battersea Power Station project in London until September 2015 given the prominence of the international project.

Liew would also remain managing director for Qinzhou Development (M) Consortium Sdn Bhd, a Sino-foreign joint venture company to develop the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park in the republic until the same period.

Sources said the property magnate would eventually emerge in Eco World Development Group Bhd after his stint in S P Setia.

It is also speculated that present chief operating officer Datuk Voon Tin Yow, who was appointed the company’s acting president and chief executive officer, might also resign later.

In a statement, S P Setia said Voon’s appointment would be effective from May 1, 2014 until April 30, 2015.

Voon would be supported by executive vice-president Datuk Khor Chap Jen who would be appointed acting deputy president during the same period, it said.

Non-independent non-executive director Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has also resigned yesterday to focus on his new role as the deputy chairman of the National Unity Consultative Council.

S P Setia chairman Tun Zaki Tun Azmi said: “Whilst the board and I are greatly saddened by the departure of Liew, Teow and Lee, we are confident that the group will continue to be in steady hands under Voon and Khor.”

Observers expected its biggest owner Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) to take more proactive measures in managing its talents as well as setting the company’s direction going forward.

It was earlier reported that Datuk Jamaludin Osman of I&P Group Sdn Bhd – PNB’s property arm – was among the candidates tipped to take over Liew’s stewardship. There were also talks of a possible asset injection by PNB into S P Setia.

Liew said: “Given the solid footing which the company is on, I believe the time has arrived for me to step down after 18 years as CEO.

“With my children all growing up and starting out on their own career paths, I am looking forward to spending more time with them, mentoring and guiding them.”

Liew’s eldest son, Tian Xiong, is a major shareholder and director in Eco World, another property firm set up by former S P Setia top brass.

S P Setia fell five sen to close at RM2.88 while Eco World was up one sen to RM4.15.

Analysts said the market has priced in Liew’s retirement from S P Setia and they expected the company’s operation to remain intact for the time being.

Bloomberg data showed that its forward price-to-earnings (P/E) was 13.4 times compared to 16.06 times currently. Its average P/E ranged from 17 times to 20 times from financial year ended Oct 31, 2011 (FY11) to FY13.

Liew is instrumental in growing S P Setia from a RM200mil entity in 1998 into a multi-billion ringgit international property company.

With him at the helm, S P Setia achieved sales of RM8.24bil in FY13, almost double from what it registered in FY12.

The group has 4,782 acres of undeveloped land bank worth RM102bil while its unbilled sales stood at RM9.6bil as at FY13.

- Contributed by Ng Bei Shan The StarBiz/ANN

Who’s who in Eco World

Fresh from graduating as a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University late last year, Liew Tian Xiong, 22, is not short of persuasive skills that a sales person possesses as he introduces EcoSky to StarBizWeek when we visited Eco World Development Sdn Bhd’s sales gallery.

In fact, one of the key performance indicators he has to meet, is to sell off 30 units of its KL project, EcoSky, which will then determine whether he gets his bonus.

Besides sales and marketing, he is also involved in project planning, land acquisition and liaising with land consultants.

Asked on people who influenced him, the affable young man says: “I have probably learnt from my father throughout my whole life. He taught me to keep my head down and listen to people, and to keep asking questions.”

He says he has learnt from both CEO Datuk Chang Khim Wah and COO Datuk S. Rajoo and what he is going through, is essentially a fast track management training programme.

Chang says: “There is a lot of things (for him) to learn. He’s doing groundwork like sales and marketing, planning and reading legal documents although he is holding the director’s card.”

“Tan Sri Liew (Kee Sin) told me that I can scold him (Xiong). I was scolded by Tan Sri Liew back then, so it’s pay back time now,” Chang jokes.

However the relationship among the management team when StarBizWeek met up with them is warm and fervent.

Chang quips: “We even play futsal with him (Xiong)… ”

The experienced management personnel like Chang and Rajoo had known each other for about two decades, but Xiong, at his tender age, seems to be gelling well with them.

Xiong’s younger brother, Tian Rong, 20, is also with the company as a contract staff. He is pursuing an economics degree from University London College and is having a stint in the company.

The man who helms Eco World, Datuk Chang Khim Wah, 50, joined S P Setia in 1994 and had been there for about 20 years. Prior to that, he was a consultant engineer in Australia. He was one of the members instrumental in setting up S P Setia’s Johor Baru division and went on to set up an office in Singapore and Jakarta.

He concedes that the team has S P Setia’s DNA in terms of team effort and competitiveness. His relationship with Liew was depicted as an understanding that required little words.

“We don’t speak long sentences (but) we understand each other,” he shares.

Chang’s counterpart, Rajoo, 50, assumes the position of COO in Eco World. He spent his first seven years in S P Setia in the Klang Valley helping the development of Bukit Indah Ampang and Pusat Bandar Puchong

and subsequently in some of the township developments in Johor where he then worked closely with Chang.

After that, he was overseeing S P Setia’s projects in the northern region for seven years and had carried out 13 projects with a gross development of more than RM2bil in the Pearl of the Orient.

Heah Kok Boon, 46, the chief financial officer of Eco World, is a chartered accountant who has over two decades of experience in the field of corporate finance, corporate fund raising, investments, merger and acquisition as well as other finance-related areas.

He was with S P Setia’s corporate affairs department for six years prior to his current role.

When introducing the major shareholders behind Eco World, Chang says Leong and Rashid are the two major shareholders.

“These two names are more than enough (for Eco World’s credibility),” Chang says, joking that Xiong has no shares in the property outfit.

One of its major shareholders and directors, businessman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaf, 65, was trained as a legal practitioner from Middle Temple London.

He was chairman for the board of S P Setia Bhd from March 12, 1997 until Oct 25, 2012.

Another director, who is a corporate figure, is Datuk Eddy Leong Kok Wah, 58. He holds a master of business administration from University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a member of Institute of Bankers (UK). He has an extensive career in the banking industry and is currently an executive director of Salcon Bhd and also sits on the board of a few other companies. He was in S P Setia’s remuneration committee from Sept 21, 2005-Feb 28, 2013.

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Stupid fellow ! Dr Ling, former Malaysian Transport Minister slams Attorney-General

UTAR Council Chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik speaking to the media regarding UTAR Initiatives and Developments at the Sg Long Campus, Kajang on Tuesday.

KAJANG: There was nothing wrong in the land purchase for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, said former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik.

“The Cabinet was correct in deciding on that. It’s only the A-G (attorney-general who) thinks it’s a wrong decision. Stupid fellow,” he said at a press conference here yesterday to announce Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Utar) latest initiatives and developments.

Dr Ling also said the land was sold to PKFZ at RM21 psf. He added that the land is now valued between RM70 to RM80psf, saying that it was already a profit.

Dr Ling and another former transport minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy was charged for cheating the Government over the PKFZ project. Both were later acquitted.

Dr Ling was acquitted on Oct 25 last year on three charges of cheating the Government over the PKFZ land deal. The trial began in August 2011.
Justice Ahmadi Asnawi, in delivering the judgment last year, held that the defence had managed to raise reasonable doubt into the prosecution’s case over the main and two alternative charges against Dr Ling.

Justice Ahmadi added that there was no evidence on who initiated the PKFZ project involving the procurement of the land.

The court found that Dr Ling’s evidence was corroborated by the testimony of former prime minister and then-finance minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Justice Ahmadi added that it was apparent Dr Ling merely signed off documents presented to him by his officers and later made the presentation to the Cabinet.

He said that when the Cabinet decided to approve the purchase of the land by Port Klang Authority (PKA) from Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), the Cabinet knew that the value of RM25psf did not include the total amount of interest payable and that interest of 7.5% would be payable over and above RM25psf.

Besides that, Justice Ahmadi said that the purchase of the land was not decided over a single Cabinet meeting but rather it was deliberated periodically between March 1999 and Nov 6, 2002.

Utar plans training hospital 

KAJANG: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) plans to open a specialist training hospital in Perak that will be named the Sultan Azlan Shah Hospital.

Utar council chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik (pic) said the specialist training hospital would be located near the university’s Kampar campus, though he stopped short of mentioning any time frame for construction.

“The hospital will offer treatment using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Western or conventional medicine,” he told reporters yesterday to announce the university’s latest initiatives and developments.

Dr Ling said the hospital, which would serve the public, would be used to train medical students.

According to the Utar website, the university has been accepting students for its Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme since May 2010, while it was also the first institution approved to offer a bilingual TCM degree programme in Malaysia from May 2011.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Dr Ling said the land for the hospital had been donated to Utar by Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah.

Utar president Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik said the university would help to build and operate the hospital.

Separately, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that Dr Ling would helm the newly set up MCA Higher Education Institutions Coordination Committee.

The committee is tasked with streamlining the courses offered by the four educational initiatives of MCA: Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC), Tunku Abdul Rahman University (Utar), Kojadi Institute and the Institute Of Childhood Education Studies and Community Education.

Liow noted that they were “overlapping” courses offered by TARUC and Utar, especially after the former was upgraded from a college to university college last year.

Asked on why Dr Ling was picked for the post, Liow said: “He is a veteran who has shown his commitment and contribution to the development of the two institutions.

“Now we want to further develop the MCA higher learning section, and we need a lot of effort to synchronise and synergise to ensure that we can perform better in this area,” he added.

The Star/Asia News Network


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Old and abandoned, now newborn baby found abandoned outside house !

Rescued: The baby that was found in Kampung Sungai Sebatang in Alor Setar.

ALOR SETAR: A teenager was awakened from her sleep by the cries of a newborn baby outside her house in Kampung Sungai Sebatang off Jalan Kuala Kedah here.

Normawani Ahmad, 17, said she was awakened by the baby’s cries at about 3am yesterday.

“I looked out the window and saw the wailing infant, who was placed on a red plastic mat. I also heard someone walking away from my house while the baby was crying,” she said when met at the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital yesterday.

Normawani called her mother, who was sleeping at another daughter’s house next door. They found the baby with the umbilical cord still attached to the body.

“My mother cleaned up the baby and dressed him in my nephew’s clothes.

“We then lodged a police report,” she added.

Kota Setar OCPD Assist Comm Adzaman Mohd Jan said police were looking for the mother and the case has been classified as child abandonment under the Penal Code.

Sources: The Star/ANN

Related posts:
1. Old and abandoned by children like trash !
2. Go see your parents... or else! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Old and abandoned by children like trash !

PETALING JAYA: Each week, at least 10 elderly Malaysians end up in old folks homes and that is just the official average, based on centres registered under the Welfare Department.

According to department director-general Datuk Norani Hashim, an average of 536 elderly persons were placed in registered centres each year between 2009 and 2012.

“The actual number could be much higher as some privately run homes are not registered with the department,” she said.

She said between 1993 and last year, a total of 4,968 senior citizens were placed in 211 centres nationwide.

“Perak has the most number with 1,339 in 56 centres, followed by Selangor with 860 in 45 centres but only nine of the centres are under direct supervision of the department,” she added.

In Kuala Lumpur, Foong Peng Lam, the coordinator of Rumah Kasih, which takes in old folks and patients found abandoned in government hospitals, said at least one person was admitted each week.

He said most of the patients were abandoned because their families claimed they could not afford to take care of them.

“Their family members do not provide any form of financial assistance and do not come over to visit,” he said.

The home has taken in over 600 abandoned individuals since its inception in 2000.

“Weak elderly people who had collapsed by the roadside were also brought in by strangers.

“There were also those who were brought in by family members who never return to visit or take them home,” he said.

Foong said the number of abandoned patients had been increasing steadily – from seven in 2000, to the 60 at present.

Apart from Hospital Kuala Lumpur, the home has been taking in patients from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Hospital Selayang, Tung Shin Hospital, Hospital Seremban, Hospital Sungai Buloh, University Malaya Medical Centre, Hospital Ampang and Hospital Kajang.

He said the hospitals would first try to contact the families, who would usually promise to take the patient home, but never turn up.

“This can go on for up to two months before they bring a patient in.

“Even when we manage to contact the families they usually refuse to take any responsibility,” he added.

Figures from the National Population and Family Development Board, an agency under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, show that about 675,000 elderly parents did not receive financial support from their children in 2004 when the Fourth Malaysian Population and Family Survey was conducted.

 Abandoned by loved ones after becoming ‘worthless’ 

KUALA LUMPUR: S.K. Cheng, 65, spent three months at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), waiting for his family to take him home.

The diabetic collapsed while walking by the roadside in September last year.

He woke up in the hospital and was told that his left leg would have to be amputated below the knee.

“I did not take care of my children when they were younger. That is why they do not want me now. I could not afford to take care of them well because I did not have enough money,” he lamented at the Rumah Kasih in Cheras, his current home.

Cheng said he used to work in a coffee shop and lived with his wife and three children.

He said his wife passed away 10 years ago and his son and daughters soon moved on with their lives elsewhere.

They came to visit him at the hospital once, but that was the last time he saw them.

Another inmate, also surnamed Cheng, said she was also left at HKL for nearly three months before she was sent to the home.

The woman, in her 70’s, was bedridden after suffering a stroke.

Her son, in his 40s, did not want to take her home because he could not afford the medical bills.

“She used to work odd jobs and was living with her son before she became ill.

“Her son just dumped her, expecting the hospital to care for his mother,” said a caretaker at the home.

While most Rumah Kasih patients are elderly there is also a 36-year old woman known only as Chan.

She spent six weeks in Hospital Selayang without anyone in her family visiting her.

“I used to be happy. I was working as a cashier and was married with three young children.

“When I suffered a stroke and became paralysed, my husband left me at the hospital and left my kids with my father,” she said.

“He said he could not take me. Now that I cannot work anymore I am worthless and they do not want me.”

Contributed by  P Aruna, Farik Zolkepli, Zora Chan, and Vanes Devindran The Star/ANN

Related post:
 Go see your parents... or else!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Go see your parents... or else!

Malaysians are still divided on the need of a filial piety law, but many countries in the world are already enforcing it.

IF you are disrespectful to your elders, you will be tortured and killed - that was the law during the Han Dynasty in ancient China. Although the death sentence is no longer mandatory for such behaviour in modern China, it is still a crime under its newly revised law Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly.

Enforced in July last year, the Act lists nine new clauses that stipulate the duties of children - finacially and emotionally - towards their elderly parents. A main clause requires family members living apart from the elderly to “frequently visit or send greetings to the elderly persons.”

And if that is difficult for those living far away, a provision was included requiring employers to allow their employees time off to visit their elderly parents. However, no punishments were stipulated for those who neglect their parents.

The law allows senior citizens to sue their children and get a court order for financial aid, care and visits.

It was introduced due to the growing number of cases of the aged being abandoned in China in the last few decades, despite the deeply ingrained filial piety belief in its culture. In 2011, it was reported that nearly half of the 185 million people aged 60 and above live apart from their children.

An ageing population was also the impetus behind India’s 2007 filial piety law which states that adult children have an obligation of fulfilling all their parent’s needs including housing, food, and medical care. Failure to do so is punishable by hefty fines, and jail.

Closer to home, Singapore has enforced a Maintenance of Parents Act since 1999. The law also allows parents to sue their grown children for an allowance and care; or face six months in jail.

What many will find surprising is that filial piety laws are also practised in the United States, or rather in 30 American states. What is more surprising is that they are based on a law dating back to 1601, the Elizabethan Poor Relief Act, which stipulated that “the father and grandfather, and the mother and grandmother, and the children of ‘every poor, old, blind, lame and impotent person’ being of a sufficient ability, shall, at their own charges, relieve and maintain every such poor Person.”

The American filial piety laws differ from state to state but each generally describes the responsibility of children to provide financial support to their parents.

Many of the laws enable nursing homes to sue the adult children for their parents’ unpaid medical bills. A dozen states stipulate it a crime punishable by jail. South Dakota allows children who have been sued to get a court order for their siblings to pitch in.

Six states make grandchildren accountable.

As many have found out, living in another state does not protect them against a lawsuit – in 2007, Elnora Thomas from Florida was reportedly sued by her mother’s nursing home in Pennsylvania for unpaid bills. When she was unable to cough up the money, she was told they would put a lien on her house.

In France, the filial piety law allows senior citizens to get cash and care from their children-in-law too. Other Western countries that mandate financial support from adult children to their aged parents are Canada, Ukraine and Russia.

Can you legislate filial loyalty and love?

ONE of the cases that pushed the government of China to mandate filial piety was in Jiangsu province where a local TV station reported that a farmer had kept his 100-year-old mother in a pigsty with a 200kg sow.

Last December, 94-year-old Zhang Zefang won her suit against her four children for financial support and care. They were ordered to split her medical bills and take turns to look after her. Due to their own financial problems, the siblings asked the youngest brother to take her in. He put her up in his garage - which was in a condition arguably worse than a pigsty.

Whose responsibility is it to look after the aged?

A CRITICISM of the filial piety law is that it is an attempt by the government to pass the buck of elderly care to the people with the growing size of the ageing population and escalating costs of healthcare, property and general living.

Another concern is for those who were abused by their parents when they were younger – should they be legally bound to care for the abusive parents?

Recently, the father of K-pop idol group Super Junior leader Leeteuk hanged himself after killing his own parents.

He reportedly suffered from depression due to the overwhelming financial and emotional burden of caring for his elderly parents who had dementia.

The high publicity case has sent the republic into a national debate on the public support system available for carers and relatives of the elderly suffering from serious illnesses, especially Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

In New York last week, a group of 70-something Korean-Americans were evicted from a McDonald’s restaurant for overstaying – they reportedly hogged the tables at the eatery from 5am until dark every day, affecting its business. The senior citizens are not homeless; they just have no other place to hang out together!

Symbols of filial piety

In Japan, filial piety is embodied in various statues called kohyo no zou (filial piety statues) around its public buildings and temples. One of the most famous statues is that of Nippon Foundation founder Ryoichi Sasakawa carrying his elderly mother up the stairs of a temple.

In China last year, Guangzhou Daily highlighted the filial heroics of a 26-year-old man who pushed his disabled mother for 93 days in a wheelchair for a holiday at a popular tourist site in Yunnan Province.

Filial tradition

FILIAL piety is a key virtue in cultures rooted in Confucianism such as that of China and South Korea. It is defined as respect for one’s parents and ancestors. However, the concept is well-ingrained in many other cultures too.

Known as seva in the Indian culture, filial piety is demonstrated at various traditional ceremonies including weddings where the young would serve milk to the elders and wash their feet.

In the Malay culture, the tale of Si Tanggang is used to caution the young on the consequences of filial impiety.

Si Tanggang is a poor young boy who goes off to sea in search of his fortunes. He promises to return for his mother when he makes something of himself. However, when he gets rich, he forgets her. When he returns after many years, she rushes to the shore with his favourite dish, but Si Tanggang is so ashamed of his poor mother that he refuses to acknowledge her. Worse, he orders his men to throw her off his ship. Heartbroken, Si Tanggang’s mother prays for God to turn him into stone.

For the Muslims, filial piety is asserted in various Quran verses and Hadith. A common reminder is “Heaven is at the bottom of your mother’s feet.”

Similarly, in the Jewish and Christian traditions, filial piety is asserted in various instances of their holy texts, such as the Fifth Commandment which says “Honor your father and your mother”.

Contributed by Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network