Share This

Monday, April 29, 2019

Move away from a culture of mediocrity! Who does Malaysia belong to?

Mediocre future? If selection at the matriculation level is not based on meritocracy, the quality of our tertiary institutions will be diluted and they will produce only mediocre graduates eventually. — Filepic
 Affirmative action should be based entirely on need because a poor Malay student needs a scholarship just as badly as a poor Indian or Chinese student.

THE debate over the intake of students into matriculation colleges in the country is an annual one, just like the offer of government scholarships. I have been a keen follower of this subject for many years and there has never been a year without complaints being made about the selection process.

It is always about top scoring non-Malay students in the SPM examination not being offered places while others with lower grades walk into colleges. This is nothing new in Malaysia, actually.

So why the intense debate now, with leaders from both sides of the political divide openly defending or criticising the quota system applied to the selection?

For those who may not know, the 90:10 (bumiputra:non-bumiputra) quota has been in existence since 2005, according to records. There have been “political adjustments” in the past when more non-Malay students were offered seats, but these were one off actions presumably during election years to woo votes.

One of the reasons for the deluge of criticisms now – some from leaders in the Pakatan Harapan coalition itself – could be due to the new kind of democracy that we expect under the new government.

There have been unverified reports of heated arguments in the Cabinet among ministers, with some defending the policy and others against a quota system that appears to be extremely unfair to Malaysians as they are being deprived of one of their rights in their motherland. Yes, Malaysia is the motherland for most of us and not India or China or Indonesia.

Maybe our government leaders should see the extent of hatred in the social media clips and hate messages that have been circulating expressing the anger, fear and frustrations of non-Malays.

And, of course, some unfairly blame Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, seeing him as the man who started this quota system previously and who is now perpetuating it.

What I gather from media reports and social media is that people feel Pakatan has moved away from its election promise of building a more equitable society that will not deprive any community of fair and equal access to tertiary education.

Hearing this promise, among others, Malaysians placed much hope on Pakatan building a new society for all races. When they see it is not happening, or becoming worse in some instances, they react.

I don’t think it is wrong for every top performing student from the B40 (lower income) category to feel devastated if he or she is deprived of a seat while lower-performing schoolmates are offered places. It makes me wonder if the selection committee has some ulterior motive to create this situation to benefit the opposition.

The matriculation programme, an affirmative action policy, started as a system that was based on wonderful ideals, so most Malaysians did not question its implementation initially. But for some reason, it has come to be regarded as pernicious now, as it appears to benefit only one community.

I believe that this practice has led – whether consciously or not – to excellence being suppressed to the point of creating a culture of mediocrity in many aspects of life. This is not going to change even if another government comes into power as long as the policy is not tweaked to meet the changing world.

OK, the government decided to add another 15,000 seats to the 25,000 given out in an attempt to quell the current outcry. Based on the quota, an additional 1,500 non-bumiputra students will now be given college places. At the same time, there will be another 13,500 bumiputra students added, which means there is a high possibility of the need to take in weak students just to meet the quota.

If this practice goes on, it will continue to dilute the quality of our tertiary institutions, producing only mediocre graduates eventually.

As a result, striving for excellence has become secondary, with some Malaysians feeling it is their right to be given university or college seats, or positions and promotions later, because they belong to one race. This is widely in existence and is being perpetuated despite the new government’s promises.

Winning votes at any cost has become as addiction with our politicians, it seems. Are we going to let their thirst for power destroy our nation?

I do agree that most Malaysians are not ready for an absolute meritocratic society because, as some critics say, it will create reverse discrimination where the majority will lose out to a minority.

But I believe, slowly but surely, the balance has to change for non-bumiputra citizens. After all, we are not asking for what is not ours, only what we deserve.

There is no discrimination when we pay our taxes and our only home is Malaysia. And I am sure the first two lines of our national anthem run deep in our hearts: “Negaraku, tanah tumpanya darahku (My country, for whom I will shed my blood)” are words that most of us carry in our hearts, and we are indeed ready to take up arms to defend the nation from any threat, as shown in the past.

We are in the 21st century now when affirmative action should not be based on a citizen’s skin colour or creed. Affirmative action should be based on one’s need because a poor Malay student needs a scholarship just as badly as a poor Indian or Chinese student.

There are many Malaysians who think that we’ve arrived at a time when affirmative action needs to be dismantled slowly, with a specified time frame given.

But this is a highly contentious issue and the government must tread carefully, as any sudden deprivation will have a strong social reaction.

We should create a belief that a love of learning will gain Malay-sians far more than any affirmative action laws we might pass.

But this change should come from within, as no quota or law can make us realise this. If Malaysians are not willing to work hard and earn their places or positions and instead wait for hand-outs all their lives, we will fail as a nation eventually.

kparkaranLet’s stop breaking the hearts of Malaysians when it comes to education. All students need a helping hand, irrespective of who they are, as we march onwards towards becoming a respected First World nation.

Read more  

We can soar with a meritocratic system - Letters


Who does Malaysia belong to?

Great responsibility: To move forward, we Malaysians have to take responsibility for the destiny of the nation on our own shoulders.

The Federal Constitution does not confer any rights to 'ownership of the nation based on ethnicity or religion.

TO whom does Malaysia belong to may sound like a hilarious question, but do not overestimate the capacity to which the human mind is used.

Experience and observation will tell you that many of us (sometimes me included), often make a choice of not thinking about things based on facts. Instead, we form conclusions based on conjectures and other people’s uninformed opinions.

So who does Malaysia belong to? There are many ways of approaching this question. As I often tell the audience in my talks about “thinking”, we have to understand the question first before we can even attempt to seek an answer.

For example, if we think of Malaysia as a politico-legal entity – a “nation” – then it becomes obvious that the question relates to an examination of the legal structure of the nation.

Seeking the answer may lead to further questions. It is no longer a “kedai kopi” kind of discussion where everyone wants to have a say simply because they can make sounds with their mouths. That can be a tiring experience, at least for me.

So when then did the politico-legal entity called “Malaysia” come into being’?

Malaysia was legally born on Sept 16, 1963, when the Federation of Malaya (West Malaysia), Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed the larger Federation of Malaysia. About two years later, the Malaysian Parliament passed a Bill to separate Singapore from the Federation. Hence, from 1965, Malaysia is legally made up of what is know today as West and East Malaysia.

Obviously, we do not think that the Federation of Malaysia had come about as a result of some casual social chat between the leaders of the respective states over teh tarik.

There were meetings and discussions back and forth between the parties and they came up with an agreement to join together as the Federation of Malaysia vide the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Whenever there is an agreement, there are terms and conditions for the parties to abide by. The agreement, however, is not the subject of this article.

When you see Malaysia as a legal entity, you will immediately ask a few other questions: How is Malaysia managed as a nation and who manages it? What are the rights, duties, obligations, and privileges of the “members” of this Federation of Malaysia? What about “non-members” who are present in the Federation?

These kind of questions have to be asked and thought about. We can understand that the “members” refer to the states that make up Malaysia and most of the human beings who live here.

The human beings make up the citizens and the non-citizens and well, some illegal immigrants. Each of these human beings have different legal status in our country.

When we speak of “belong”, we think in terms of ownership, management, rights and privileges. How is it possible to say something belongs to you if you do not own it, or do not have the right to manage it?

Legally, the nation is “owned” by the citizens of the country because they are authorised to “manage” the country and to determine its destiny. The citizens can either bring the nation to a high level of civilisation or bring it down to a failed state.

The basic framework of the rights of the citizens and how the nation is to be managed is provided for in the Federal Constitution, correctly termed by the constitutional law expert Professor Emeritus Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi as the “document of destiny”.

How we interpret the Constitution and if at all we give “life” to the provisions in the Constitution will shape the destiny of the nation. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it is an extremely important document that every citizen should know.

It is important to note that the Constitution does not confer any rights to “ownership” of the nation based on ethnicity or religion.

Every citizen is equal before the law save for particular laws relevant to particular groups of citizens due to the diverse nature of our citizenry. The Constitution clearly spells out the fundamental liberties that all citizens have a right to enjoy in Part II, and the manner in which the Federation of Malaysia is to be managed in Part IV and VI.

There are also provisions regarding the civil service (Part X), the judiciary (Part IX) and elections (Part VIII), to name a few.

In this regard, therefore, any claims to ownership of the country in terms of religion or ethnicity is therefore not supported by the reality of the law.

It is also a divisive and bigoted perspective which will harm the nation in the long run. In layperson terms, Malaysia legally belongs to all Malaysians and they have equal rights and duties to develop Malaysia and to live in it peacefully.

Do not behave as if the country belongs only to the politicians in power. We should have learnt this lesson by now. Ownership does not come without an effort. You have to protect the nation as how you protect your home or property in accordance with the laws.

If you really think this country belongs to you, then you should not simply be subservient to unjust laws, if any.

You have to challenge it and ensure that it is consistent with the provisions in the Constitution and move your parliamentary representatives to pass just laws that will protect you and develop the nation wholesomely. Ownership comes with real responsibility and not with mere slogans, rhetoric or political speeches.

It is most unfortunate that despite having achieved independence for more than 60 years, there are still many citizens who are ignorant of the Constitution.

This I believe, is largely due to their own apathy and also due to the unfortunate Malaysian culture of taking the politicians to be their teachers.

Hence, political narratives that affront common intelligence are mistaken to be the law by the feeble minded amongst us. We have to move forward and take responsibility for the destiny of the nation on our own shoulders.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Yes to Belt and Road - Everyone will benefit from BRI

Centre of attraction: China’s President Xi Jinping greeting Dr Mahathir as he leaves with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China.

Dr M endorses the BRI - ‘Many countries are going to benefit from initiative’

With help from Chinese firms, Malaysia will have an AI park soon. That’s not all the good news that came from the Prime Minister’s trip to China. Businessmen are pleased that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given the thumbs up to the Belt and Road Initiative. He says countries in its route will be the beneficiaries. And that means Malaysia too. WITH all of China as his stage, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a massive endorsement to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying all will benefit from the ease of travel and communication the development strategy will bring.

The Prime Minister said that with trade driving the world, it was only natural that land and sea passages be better developed.

“The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies the passage can be improved.

“Without a doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West. I am fully in support of the Belt and Road Initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project,” he said in his speech at the High-Level Meeting of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held at the China National Convention Centre here yesterday.

The forum attracted over 5,000 participants from 150 countries including leaders from around the world, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Rodrigo Duterte (Philippine), President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt) and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, is a strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Dr Mahathir said just as massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also “respond” to the increased trade between East and West. He also suggested that bigger trains be built for the purpose.

“If ships can be built bigger, why can’t trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw material and people? Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not,” he pointed out.

Dr Mahathir, who is on his second visit to China since becoming the 7th Prime Minister last May, said the world has the technology and funds to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

“It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all,” he said, adding that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels and also delivering the benefits promised.

“Yes, the Belt and Road idea is a great. It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

“As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

Dr M in Beijing: Everyone will benefit from Belt and Road initiative

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has endorsed the Belt and Road initiative by China, saying everyone would benefit from the ease of travel and communication that it would bring about.

He said this in his speech at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Friday (April 26).

"Today, trade drives the world. It is only natural that the land and sea passages have to be better developed.

"The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies, the passage can be improved.

"Without doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West," said Dr Mahathir..

According to the Prime Minister, just as the massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also respond to the need from the increased trade between East and West.

He suggested that bigger trains be built towards this end.

"Although trains can now connect China with Eastern Europe, current trains are not designed for the increases in goods and people needing to travel along this passageway.

If ships can be built bigger, why can't trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw materials and people?

"Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not," he added.

The Prime Minister said the world had the technology and money to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes, which pass through many countries via both sea and land, was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

"It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all," said Dr Mahathir.

He added that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels that enabled the Belt and Road incapable of delivering the benefits they promised.

"Yes, the Belt and Road idea is great.

"It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

"As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

"Everyone will benefit from the ease of travel and communication that the development of the Belt and Road project will bring.

"I am fully in support of the Belt and Road initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project," said Dr Mahathir.

 PM’s BRI backing allays fears over KL-Beijing ties

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s full endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will allay concerns over Malaysia-China relations and lead to greater cooperation between both countries, according to China watchers here.

RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd vice-president and head of Economic Research Peck Boon Soon said Malaysia was trying to mend its relations with China.

“It is safe to conclude that relations between our two countries are back to normal,” he said, referring to the suspension and cancellation of several China-linked projects last year.

Peck said the revival of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and Bandar Malaysia projects and the Prime Minister’s presence at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing yesterday would help restore confidence among businessmen from China.

He said it made perfect sense to have warm ties with China as the country was the largest export market for Malaysia.

ACCIM SERC Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Heng Guie said Malaysia’s expressed support of the BRI opened up mutual consultation, increased cooperation and connectivity benefits between both sides.

“With this strong endorsement, we expect the relationship to further deepen bilateral ties and enhanced economic relations based on the principles of mutual benefit,” he said.

Lee said Malaysia and its private sector could gain from the enlarged trade and investment opportunities along the passage and gateway of BRI, if the countries could adopt the freedom of passage along these routes through the easing of bureaucratic hassles.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap, who attended the Belt and Road CEO conference which was the first such conference at the forum, said the conference provided huge business opportunities for many companies in the region.

“This is a timely boost for the global economy,” he said, adding that there were nearly 1,000 participants from 90 of the world’s Top 500 companies, 78 of China’s Top 500 companies, more than 100 state-owned enterprises and 200 private companies at the conference.

Businessman Datuk Liu Thim Soon, who is vice-chairman to the United Nations Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance, said the BRI was a visionary, long range direction by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “It is an enabler and platform for many developing smaller countries to be linked to investments, trade and tourism.

“With about 140 million China tourists travelling yearly, smaller developing countries can benefit and derive great economic potential if they can tap into this market,” he said. - By Yimie Yong

Who should you believe about BRI?

Deal inked to develop M’sia’s first AI park

MALAYSIA is to develop its first artificial intelligence (AI) park.

The park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology.

It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management, research and development and commercial ecosystem.

An agreement was signed yesterday between Malaysian company G3 Global Bhd (G3) and its Chinese partners SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) on the setting up of the AI park, with the total investment at US$500mil (RM2.07bil).

The location of the park has yet to be identified.

The agreement was signed between G3 executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, SenseTime president for Asia-Pacific Business Group Jeff Shi, and CHEC chairman Lin Yi Chong.

The ceremony was held after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s office here.

The Prime Minister also tried his hands on the self-driving car system at the company, which specialises in AI technology.

G3 Global banks on AI 

Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office. 
From jeanswear maker to one of Malaysia’s rising artificial intelligence (AI) companies. That is the interesting story ofG3 Global Bhd that is unravelling today.

While many companies can attempt to boast the AI buzzword as a business focus, it is not an easy area to venture into.

First you need super computers. Then you need the AI software or algorithms.

And then you need to use that software on vast amounts of data in order to build the AI applications for real use.

While G3 Global may have made some inroads into building its own Internet of Things (IoT) platform, it has yet to achieve anything big by itself in the AI space. That was until it signed a deal with China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, touted as the world’s most valuable AI startup.

On April 11, G3 Global told Bursa Malaysia that it will partner with SenseTime to set up Malaysia’s first AI park, in collaboration with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

The AI park is expected to see more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) in investments over the next five years.

According to G3 Global executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the AI park is vital in order to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

“In addition, this becomes a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he said.

On Friday, the culmination of the relationship between G3 Global and SenseTime took place, following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ongoing official visit to China.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers, visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing, among others.

During this visit, G3 Global had inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with SenseTime and CHEC in relation to the AI park project.

G3 Global said in a statement that as the local partner, it will coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

Meanwhile, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership while CHEC will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

Valued at over US$4.5bil (RM18.67bil), SenseTime is the fifth national AI platform in China and is also the country’s largest AI algorithm provider.

Although it is only less than five years old, the company now serves over 700 customers and partners globally, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Honda, Alibaba, vivo and Xiaomi, among others.

Based on SenseTime’s website, the startup leads the AI market in “almost all vertical industries” such as smart city, smartphone, mobile Internet, online entertainment, automobile, finance and retail.

“SenseTime has independently developed a deep learning platform, supercomputing centers, and a range of AI technologies such as face recognition, image recognition, object recognition, text recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving and remote sensing,” it says.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, SenseTime has been profitable for two years and the company has recorded triple digit revenue growth for the past four years.

The collaboration between G3 Global and SenseTime aptly serves what both companies need. By setting up an AI park in Malaysia, SenseTime will be able to expand its global presence further while G3 Global gets to go big into the booming AI scene.

Overall, the AI hub in Malaysia is a nice sounding plan. But how real will it be and how extensive will it be?

Speaking with StarBizWeek over the telephone, Wan Khalik says that the move into AI has been a natural progression of the company.

“With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI. We had been in search for a good partner to fast-track out entry into AI, which has a high entry barrier.

“That’s how we got to do a deal with Sensetime, which took much effort on our part, considering how successful Sensetime already is,” he says.

Perfect partner

Wan Khalik: With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI
Wan Khalik adds that SenseTime is the perfect partner, considering that they are one of the biggest AI companies in the world and have their own AI algorithm as well as products and services.

“Their products are already deployed in the commercial world,” he points out.

While acknowledging that AI is still nascent in its growth in Malaysia and still suffers from a lack of understanding and appreciation, Wan Khalik points out two important aspects that the deal with Sensetime will bring about.

“First is that the lab will become an education tool to showcase what AI is all about and the benefits it brings. Second is the fact that we intend to address the issue of developing talent in Malaysia in the AI space.”

In the press release announcing the strategic partnership between G3 and SenseTime, it was revealed that SenseTime will be assisting in the development and deployment of training syllabus for universities in Malaysia.

Wan Khalik says that SenseTime has designed and developed part of the AI syllabus that is currently being taught in schools across China.

 “The good news is that the Malaysian government has expressed strong interest in AI and it wants industry to get involved in AI. But we need to invest in buidling up the talent in this field,” he adds.

The little-known G3 Global’s journey is an impressive one.

Its diversification into the information technology scene began less than four years ago after G3 Global (formerly known as Yen Global Bhd) acquired IoT solution provider Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd in December 2015.

Green Packet Bhd , image: , a mobile broadband and networking solutions provider, emerged as a major shareholder in G3 Global after it acquired a 22% stake in August 2016.

A year later, Green Packet boosted its equity interest in G3 Global to 32%.

The G3 Global stock’s trend has been rather flattish since mid-2017. However, since the start of April this year, shares of G3 Global surged by 106% to its record-breaking high of RM1.62.

On April 25, the company hit limit-up and was issued with an unusual market activity query from Bursa Malaysia, in relation to the rapid advances in its share price.

While the reasons behind the sharp increase in G3 Global’s share price were unclear, it seems to have some correlation with G3 Global’s partnership with SenseTime.

G3 Global also saw the entry of Wan Khalik as shareholder, after he assumed control of private vehicle Global Man Capital Sdn Bhd, which currently has the largest stake in G3. Global Man Capital increased its holdings of G3 Global to a 32.04% stake following an acquisition of 32.15 million shares in April, edging out Green Packet’s 32% stake.

On April 5, G3 Global appointed Wan Khalik as its new executive chairman.

Wan Khalik, who is also a substantial shareholder in DWL Resources Bhd, has some notable Sarawak connections, having been the principal private secretary to the Sarawak State government between 2013 until July 2018.

Wan Khalik’s background also includes experiences in corporate planning, public administration, IT strategic planning, and business development.

When asked on why did he pick DWL and G3 Global as companies to invest into, he says, “For DWL we see opportunities in project management of jobs of major infrastructure projects that the country is embarking on. That is why we have teamed up with the likes of Gadang to prepare to jointly bid for such jobs. As for G3 Global, it is even more interesting because of the future of AI. As you probably already know, AI is the world’s next great technological revolution. It is changing the way information is gathered, stored and used. We will not be able to do without it, whether as individuals, organisations, companies and governments. We believe our deal with Sensetime puts G3 Global on solid footing to bring AI to Malaysia and the Asian market.”

G3 Global recorded a net loss of RM17.15mil in the financial year of 2018 ended Dec 31, against a turnover of RM29.4mil. Both of its apparel and ICT business segments were in the red for the 12-month period.

“The ICT business continues to show growth potential despite incurring losses due to business development costs and we hope to see better contribution to sales from this division in the new financial year.

“The setting up of various new subsidiaries will drive the growth in the ICT business including the provision of IoT solutions and services like connected commercial vehicles and sensor hubs, and AI smart cameras. The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current financial year,” G3 Global said in a filing.

Moving forward, with the AI venture with SenseTime, the company is clearly on a new trajectory, especially considering the way AI is going to flood all our lives.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, only 26% of organisations in Malaysia have embarked on their AI journeys, although about 70% of the business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisations’ competitiveness.

The immense untapped potential in the domestic AI market offers promising opportunities for local AI companies, including G3 Global.

With a strong backing from SenseTime, G3 Global could rise to become a leading AI solutions provider in the region.

By ganeshwaran kana The Star

Related post:

Friday, April 26, 2019

Highlights of Xi's keynote speech at second Belt and Road Forum

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing on Friday. Here are the highlights:

On Belt and Road Initiative

Xi said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to build a trade and infrastructure network, adding that joint building of the Belt and Road has opened up new space for the world's economic growth.

Based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit, the BRI focuses on connectivity and practical cooperation to achieve win-win outcomes and common development.

The principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits should be upheld, Xi said, and open, green and clean approaches should be adhered to.

The goals of high-standard, livelihood-improving and sustainable development should be achieved, according to Xi.

China will work with other parties to promote a coalition of sustainable cities and an international coalition for green development under the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said.

High-quality infrastructure under BRI

Xi highlighted building infrastructure of high quality, sustainability, risk resilience, reasonable pricing, inclusiveness and accessibility under the BRI. 

Calling infrastructure the cornerstone of connectivity and a bottleneck of development confronting many countries, Xi said building infrastructure with such standards could help countries give full play to their advantages in resources and better integrate into the global supply, industry and value chains for interconnected development.

On people-to-people connectivity

China will support 5,000 people from the innovation sector in Belt and Road countries in conducting exchanges, training programs and joint research over the next five years.

China will work with other participants of the Belt and Road Initiative to promote scientific and cultural exchanges, set up joint science labs, build science and technology parks, and promote the transfer of technologies, Xi said. 

A total of 10,000 representatives of political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organizations from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative will be invited to China for exchanges in the next five years.

On trade and opening-up

Xi said that China will increase imports of goods and services on a larger scale, slash its negative list on imports and will negotiate and sign high-standard free trade agreements with more countries. 

China will further lower its tariff rates and the country would continuously open up its market and welcome quality products from around the world.

China is also willing to import more competitive farm produces, finished products and services and will allow foreign investors to operate businesses in more sectors with controlling or full stake.

China prohibits forced technology transfer

China will step up protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign owners of intellectual property rights, and prohibit the forced transfer of technology, Xi said.

It will create a business environment in which the value of knowledge is respected, Xi said.

(With input from Xinhua)

Read more

China's President Xi Jinping Speaks at Belt and Road Forum ...


China will not devalue yuan, Xi tells world leaders at Belt and Road ...


Xi's speech draws positive reactions at Second Belt and Road Forum ...

Six key takeaways from Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Forum speech to ...


Xi Jinping speech at Belt and Road Forum in Beijing - Reuters 


Panview栏目“ Belt & Road, China's bridge to the world"


China's Belt & Road Initiative | What Is It? Who's Paying?‎



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Happy Birthday Navy - Xi reviews multinational fleet in E China's port city


Happy Birthday Navy

A grand naval parade was held on Tuesday off Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, which was founded on April 23, 1949.




Naval parade marks PLA Navy's 70th anniversary A grand naval parade was held on Tuesday off Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, which was founded on ..

  China's security helps regional stability

The PLA Navy will continue to grow. It will make great progress in hardware by its 80th anniversary. We hope this will be a process in which the Western Pacific Ocean consolidates peace and deepens reciprocal cooperation. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Do you earn enough to sustain your lifestyle?

DO you know how much you need to sustain your lifestyle every month? Are you living within your budget or stretching to make ends meet?

We can now gain insights with the unveiling of Belanjawanku, an Expenditure Guide for Malaysian Individuals and Families, launched by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in early March.

The guide offers an idea of the living costs for respective household categories. It encompasses the expenditure on basic needs and involvement in society for a reasonable standard of living in the Klang Valley.

According to Belanjawanku, a married couple with two children spend about RM6,620 per month on food, transport, housing, childcare, utilities, healthcare, personal care, annual expenses, savings, social participation and discretionary expenses.

When I read this guide together with the income statistics published by the Statistics Department, it reveals that a vast majority of Malaysians can’t afford to live in the Klang Valley.

Based on the statistics, the median household income for Malaysian households in 2016 is RM5,228, far below the RM6,620 required for a family with two children to stay in the Klang Valley.

If we take a closer look, the median income of M40 group (Middle 40%) is RM6,275, which means five out of 10 households in this category received RM6,275 per month or less. This indicates that over 60% (40% from B40 households and half of the M40 households) of Malaysian households (if they have two children) can’t afford to stay in the Klang Valley.

What went wrong in the process? Why are many households having challenges to meet the required budget?

According to Belanjawanku, a married couple with two children spent the majority of their income on food (RM1,550), followed by childcare (RM1,150) and transport (RM1,040), then only on housing (RM870) and other items.

Based on the research, even if housing was provided for free, a household of four would still need RM5,750 to sustain their lifestyle. Therefore, the common perception that only housing is expensive is not right. It is not that housing is expensive, but that everything is expensive because of inflation over the years! The value of our currency has fallen due to global money printing measures over the past decade.

Belanjawanku compiles only core living expenses without luxury items or excessive spending. It also doesn’t include long-term financial planning tools such as funds for education or investments. If the majority of Malaysian households have challenges in meeting the existing expenses listed in the guide, it poses a serious concern on their future financial prospects.

The underlying factor of this challenge is the low household income earned by Malaysians. The previous government failed to move us to a high income nation as they had promised, and more families are stretching to make ends meet now. It may lead to serious financial problems in the future.

If median household incomes don’t increase, the B40 (Bottom 40%) and half of the M40 will always struggle even if housing is free, assuming that they aspire to have two children and to live in the Klang Valley.

According to Transparency International Malaysia, corruption had cost our country about 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) value each year since 2013. Added together, this amounts to a high figure of some RM212.3bil since 2013. For 2017 alone, that figure was a whopping RM46.9bil!

Imagine what we can do with these monies if there was no leakage in the system? The previous government should have channeled the money to stimulate economic growth and increase the income of the rakyat.

Going forward, I am optimistic that the new government, with its promise of a clean and transparent government, can finally fix the leakage and focus on generating a higher income level for all Malaysian households.

Financial independence is a key factor in the overall well being of the rakyat. We need to increase household incomes to a level where families can meet their basic needs and embark on long-term financial planning, to elevate their quality of life.

Then, and only then, will housing and other living expenses finally become affordable.

By Food for thought By Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He is the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, email

Related posts:

Five challenges young Malaysians face with home ownership

For many young Malaysians, the road to owning a home is riddled with speed bumps. — Pexels 

Middle class malady

Struggling and frustrated: Most aid goes to the B40, leaving the M40 feeling adrift and on their own

Housing affordability is an income issue, what's with the fuss?

Moving forward with affordable housing

The ‘Tiger Woods’ act is not for Malaysia

 It's a long road towards being a tiger economy again

A month before the one-year anniversary of Pakatan Harapan’s ruling the government, Malaysia has earned the accolades of being a “boring” and under-performing stock market. The ringgit, which is the thermometer to gauge the economy, has weakened after the initial euphoria of appreciating as high as RM4 against the US dollar.

An economist had said that Malaysia without the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is too dependent on oil revenue. Budget 2019 was based on crude oil at US$70 and considering that the year-to-date average is lower, the country would not be able to keep to spending limits.

Ironically, the story of Malaysia’s being a “boring and under-performing” stock came as golfer Tiger Woods made a remarkable comeback to win his first major tournament since 2008. That was the time when the golfer’s on-course performance started to go downhill due to injuries and “off-course” affairs that led to a broken-marriage.

Sponsors stayed away from Tiger Woods and he lived with a tag as a great golfing talent that never made it. Now he is seen as a role model in the story of triumph against adversity. Woods US Masters win is now repeated as a story of why one must never give up and the fruits of labour will finally pay off.

Sadly, it only applies in the world of sports. In the sporting world, there are clear rules and everybody play within the rules or they are disqualified. Sports world is based on meritocracy. If you good and talented, you would be found - some way or other - even if you live in Borneo.

Sarawak has produced amongst Malaysia’s best sprinter and diver in Watson Nyambek and Pandelela Rinong who proved their worth based on merit.

Running a government to please people with different demands is not so easy. Meritocracy is only a slogan. It reality, it is hard to implement.

For instance, the government’s bail-out of Felda and Tabung Haji are seen as further straining the country’s balance sheet.

The fear that the of Budget 2019 objective of keeping fiscal deficit at 3.4% cannot be achieved considering that the government has to fork out RM6bil to rescue Felda.

However, what investors fail to realise is that the government cannot afford not to bail out the likes of Felda and Tabung Haji. It cannot operate completely on meritocracy and go by the book strictly because there are political considerations to weigh on.

Felda needs to be rescued because of the massive mismanagement of funds. It involves the lives of 120,000 settlers and many more, if their families are taken into account. The Felda settlers are important voter bank and determine 52 parliament seats.

Most of them are Malays who form the bulk of the voting population of the country as a whole.

Whether we like or not, issues that Felda and Tabung Haji face has to be resolved if there is to be any political stability.

The only consolation is that those who are responsible for the mismanagement of Felda, Tabung Haji, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) would eventually pay a price.

In communist China, these people would have faced the firing squad.

In Malaysia, it takes time to penalise those responsible under the law. Pakatan Harapan’s messaging to investors is that it provides accountability, transparency and discipline in running the government. It revealed the total debts and a bigger budget deficit for 2019 and left it to investors to decide if they are prepared to put money in the country.

That it does not tolerate corruption is a message that is being drummed countless times.

Is there is a premium in being transparent, accountable and standing firm against corruption? Yes there is. But as a fund manager says, it does not tell investors where to put their money.

It does not tell investors if there is going to be a continuity to the government’s policies and who the next Prime Minister is going to be after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The fund manager says that Malaysia needs to tell another story, apart from governance and transparency.

Towards this end, a good line of messaging would be on addressing the political transition after Dr Mahathir.

The fund manager is right in his argument because long term capital needs political stability and leadership certainty.

Dr Mahathir, who is named as among the most powerful persons by Time Magazine, probably knows best why he is delaying in setting a firm time table to hand over power to the only person who has been named so far, which is Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Probably because the minute Dr Mahathir announces the time-table to handover, he would be a lame duck Prime Minister, a role the 93-year veteran politician would not relish.

Apart from politics, the other matter bogging investors is the slowing Malaysian economy.

The concern is that the economic growth of 4.5% would not be met and that Bank Negara would be forced to bring down the interest rates.

When interest rates are down because of a slowing economy, it dampens sentiments on the ringgit and puts yields of bonds under pressure.

The prospects of a lower yield and weakening currency are just the catalysts needed for bond investors to take some money off the table.

The unfavourable rating by little known Russel Fund Index earlier this week did not help matters. The end result is that the government bonds are under pressure and so is the ringgit.

The government should keep up with doing the things it can best do, which are enhancing transparency, governance and being more careful in handling public funds. Investors will view with scepticism until they see hard numbers on the economy and consistency in growth.

The Malaysian stock market was among the world’s best in 1993 on the back of a roaring economy that started its growth path some four years earlier.

The economy over-heated, the government got carried away with spending and we paid a heavy price by the ringgit and stock market crashing. It all came down with a thud in 1997.

The Pakatan Harapan government wants to see Malaysia be a “tiger economy” once again.

But it would not be easy. The road ahead is treacherous with lots of obstacles – balancing the demands of the political and social agenda.

We cannot do it the Tiger Woods way because there is no meritocracy when it comes to governing a country. But we will get there eventually as long as we stay the course.