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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The new James Bond film is nostalgia of a declining empire

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth Photo:VCG

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth Photo:VCG

I watched the new James Bond movie last night. It is well made. But the more I watched, the more it looked like comedy. In one scene when they are about to destroy a chemical manufacturing facility located on a disputed island between Russia and Japan, the MI6 official asks whether there are any Royal Navy warships nearby. It turns out there are, and then the missile is launched. Are the British sleepwalking? The Royal Navy is now relying heavily on the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, which has been leaking frequently, to scrape a battle group up. Yet HMS Queen Elizabeth did come to show in the Asia Pacific region recently. But if it is exploited as the basis for the story, it would be too embarrassing.

The UK is a declining empire. The novel coronavirus epidemic has gravely devastated the country, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Many residents of other countries are afraid of taking the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine produced by the UK. In the Taiwan island alone, hundreds of people died after receiving the vaccine. Ironically, this James Bond movie is about preventing biological weapons.

The British are really good at this. Although the country is in decline, it is still high-spirited. In the newly filmed 007 movie, the empire seems to be in full swing. But I believe that the Western blockbusters in which characters attempt to save the human race will gradually become ridiculous over time, as these blockbusters will lose the public's psychological foundation due to the relative decline in strengths of Western countries and the continuous disintegration of self-confidence.

In the movie, the disputed islands between Russia and Japan, which should be controlled by Russia, were bombed. If the UK dared to do this in reality, Russia wouldn't waste a minute to respond with hardline measures. A few months ago after Moscow said a patrol ship fired warning shots against British vessels, London declined that any warning shot had been fired.

But I have to praise James Bond movies. They never mess with China. Instead, they are friendly to China. Even when the ties between China and Britain is getting worse, some villains in the movie still "speak Russian." This is because the Chinese film market is huge. In a commercial promoting the James Bond movie, Daniel Craig said "Thank you" in Chinese, showing his appreciation. Chinese consumption power is the strength. 

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.

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James Bond, spy fiction and the decline of empire - The ...


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Monday, November 29, 2021



Stay cautious even fully jabbed

 Proactive and preventive measures against Covid-19 need to be heightened to prevent a new threat from the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant, say health experts.

The new coronavirus variant, first detected in South Africa on Nov 9, was classified as a variant of concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation on Friday.

With countries around the world rushing to contain the Omicron variant, Singapore has announced that Malaysians using the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to get to the republic from today must take an Antigen Rapid Test upon arrival.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Koh Kar Chai said Malaysia should be cautious with the new variant which has already been detected in Europe and Asia.

He said early evidence suggested that the Omicron variant had a higher reinfection risk.

“Experts have already expressed concern that Omicron’s large number of mutations may help it spread or even enable it to evade antibodies from prior infections or vaccination,” he said, adding that Malaysians needed to be on alert as all economic sectors had reopened.

With the latest variant threat, Dr Koh urged Malaysians to strictly adhere to the SOP even after full vaccination and booster shots.

“We also advise the remaining population who are unvaccinated to get their jabs as soon as possible if they are eligible as it will prevent severe Covid-19.

“All available evidence-based preventive measures against Covid-19 should be taken. Regardless of the variant, the public should not let its guard down,” he said.

Universiti Malaya epidemiologist Prof Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said Malaysia should safeguard its borders as there was reason to be extra cautious of the Omicron variant.

“This is possibly the shortest time between detection of a variant and its designation as a VOC,” he said, pointing to the period between Nov 9 and when it was reported to WHO on Nov 24.

Dr Awang Bulgiba, however, said time would determine whether the new VOC was more lethal than the earlier ones.

We need to increase our genomic surveillance and sequencing combined with thorough epidemiological analysis to make sure we do not miss any Omicron infections,” he said, adding that the Omicron variant could be quickly identified through a PCR test, where there is an S gene dropout.

He said by using the PCR test, samples could then be prioritised in order to be sent for genome sequencing.

“It takes time but this is needed for confirmation,” he said.

Dr Awang Bulgiba said due to the potential immune escape for the particular VOC, vaccine manufacturers were investigating whether their vaccines require updating.

He said Novavax was already working on a newer version of its vaccine with Omicron in mind, while Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were examining whether their vaccines needed updating.

He said AstraZeneca had months earlier worked on a newer updated version of its vaccine (AZD2816) which targeted the Beta variant.

“AstraZeneca has stated that they are working to see if their current vaccine and its new long-acting antibody cocktail (AZD7442) work against the Omicron variant.

“As the Omicron variant shares some of the same mutations of the Beta variant, it would probably not take very long for the company to modify the AZD2816 to work against the Omicron variant, if indeed there is a need to do so,” he said.

In safeguarding the country from the potential spread of the variant, Dr Awang Bulgiba advised that vaccination for schoolchildren, as well as the booster programme, need to be completed quickly to achieve optimal immunity in the population.

Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said preliminary findings showed that the new variant’s protein differed significantly from that used to develop vaccines against Covid-19 infection.

She said current measures of the Health Ministry were sufficient but the public must continuously adhere to the SOP.

“The travel ban on the affected countries should continue until specific clinical impact is known,” said Dr Malina.

The ministry had on Friday announced that Malaysians had been banned from travelling to seven African countries following the emergence of the new variant.

Foreigners with a history of travel to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe over the past 14 days would not be allowed to enter Malaysia.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

US-STYLE DEMOCRACY: National Endowment for Disgrace (NED) trashes good name of democracy

 Illustration: Liu Rui/GTIllustration: Liu Rui/GT 


NGOs often conjure up the images of activists getting busy banning ivory trade, waving BLM banners or alerting people to climate change. Although it is not always certain what their ulterior motives are, they always seem to make things appear bright and beautiful.

This is why it puzzles me when it comes to the categorization of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of the United States, a self-claimed "NGO" whose establishment was approved by the US Congress. For one thing, by using state funding, the agency has been faithfully preaching hegemonic doctrines of the US government. For another, by guiding and financially supporting separatist rebels in countries deemed detrimental to American dominance, this pair of Uncle Sam's white gloves is instigating instability, terror and even wars worldwide.

How could such an agency be labeled an NGO? It would probably be too much to say that the NED stands for being Notorious, Egregious and Disrespectful. But the organization can be compared to the foolish emperor in Andersen's fairy tale "the Emperor's New Clothes". Everyone is crystal clear who is naked with nasty intent, yet the evil-doer continues to stand still, awkwardly pretending nothing ever happened.

NED has claimed that "from time to time, Congress has provided special appropriations to the Endowment to carry out specific democratic initiatives in countries of specific interests". The reason why it never bothers to hide its goals is that for US politicians, "democracy" has been such an overwhelmingly persuasive pretext to justify all their wrongdoings in a flagrant way, including meddling with other countries' internal affairs, triggering wars and conflicts. "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA," said Allen Weinstein, one of the founding members of NED, when introducing the tasks assigned to NED. Thanks to such honesty, if Daniel Craig must drop his 007 career after No Time to Die, Agent NED could be recommended to succeed him in a film called No Time to Lie.

For many, including many Chinese, NED is nothing but an obnoxious pest. According to Asahi Shimbun, as of 2016, NED had provided some $96.52 million to at least 103 anti-China entities, including the notorious separatist groups, such as World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). NED has provided the WUC and its affiliations with millions of dollars in funding, including $1,284,000 since 2016. This money goes to train activists and media influencers and lobby for support for Uygur separatists. In Hong Kong, NED has been in connection with several notable destabilizing forces and individuals. Reports have revealed that the NED offered over HKD13 million to the so-called Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, led by Lee Cheuk-yan, to organize illegal separatist campaigns. In 2019, NED invited several notorious Hong Kong "independence" preachers for speeches, including Lee Chu-ming, who was dubbed by Ta Kung Pao as a "Hong Kong traitor" and won the NED annual prize in 2004; as did Lee Cheuk-yan and Nathan Law. The mobs keep begging for their sugar daddy "no money, no honey", so NED keeps feeding them greenbacks paid by American taxpayers in the name of "democracy". Such an "unofficial" NED price acts consistently with the official remarks out of State Department spokesperson Ned Price. Together, these twofold American prongs encourage mobs to act out for Uncle Sam's expectations.

NED's victim list worldwide also includes America's allies. According to the New York Times, NED provided French right-wing groups with $1.4 million to organize campaigns against former president François Mitterrand. In Eastern Europe, millions of dollars have been spent by NED in support of the shock therapy in the 1990s. In Caribbean countries, NED has actively engaged in the conspiracy of overthrowing elected governments, with Haiti and Nicaragua being the most prominent examples. In Arab countries, NED sponsored numerous riot organizations and remained a crucial "contributor" to the collapse of the Mubarak and Khadafi administrations and the subsequent chaos. In Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Belarus, NED has been amplifying its voices by hiring Western media to relentlessly fire against the countries' leaders. It did so while interfering with their domestic election processes by politically and financially supporting the opposition forces.

In Thailand, the NED aimed at students and youngsters while launching its brainwash campaign through social media, just as it did in Hong Kong. In many ways, those methods were adopted together, enabling NED to meddle with the domestic issues of countries or administrations that it deemed "challenging" to American dominance under the cover of democracy promotion.

The US has always been strangely egoistic to seek a monopoly for the definition of "democracy". In this way, NED serves as a channel for it to achieve "democracy hegemony", claiming, "I'm the beacon of light, and those who don't listen to me are certainly autocratic". With that solid reason, NED could feel free to interfere with other countries' domestic issues, infiltrate into other countries for subversive purposes, and ultimately promote riots and rebels.

Under the disguise of democracy and for the purpose of conspiracy, NED is indeed an abbreviation for "National Endowment for Disgrace". NED as a tool of the US Empire has only disgraced what democracy is all about.

The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for Global Times, CGTN, Xinhua News Agency, etc.. He can be reached at

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Who was Francis Light? The Discovery of Penang? The tragedy of the Doctrine of Discovery is now embodied in Western laws.

The life and times of Captain Francis Light revisited in Penang Chronicles trilogy’s first book Dragon.

Gan's Dragon, the first volume of Penang Chronicies ,charts Francis Light's early life in the decades before the settlement of Penang island - Monsoon Books >>

SWASHBUCKLER or swindler, trader or statesman, the mere mention of the name Captain Francis Light in the state of Penang is bound to draw an array of clashing reactions.

Known for establishing the isle as a British settlement back in 1786 under the name Prince of Wales Island, Light has been quietly acknowledged with opening the door to the eventual colonisation of what would later be Malaya.

The first domino, one might call him, or what author Rose Gan describes as “the 18-century trailblazer in the Malay Archipelago”.

In Dragon, the first book of her newly released Penang Chronicles trilogy, Gan traces the life of a young Light, illegitimately born and raised in the town of Woodbridge in Suffolk, East of England.

From his schooling days in Seckford’s School to a premature departure for a life at sea, Gan explores the twists and turns of what Light’s early life could have been in this historical fiction narrative.

Backed by extensive research and a strong fascination of Martinha Rozells, Gan – a British national now based in Kuala Lumpur – weaves a rich tale of a charming, ambitious and, often times, lucky Francis Light.

Beginning from days in the bowels of the HMS Mars, through battles with both storms and men, we are swept along from London to Madras, onward to Junk Ceylon (or present-day Phuket) and eventually, the Straits of Melaka.

With a keen focus on his ingenuity and resourcefulness, Gan meticulously tracks Light’s story to the answer of the question everyone wants to know: Did he indeed trick and cheat the Sultan of Kedah?

Stormy times

Francis Light stepped forth into the world in the mid-18th century.

Born illegitimate but raised as a gentleman, Light’s true parentage remains unclear to this day.

“What we do know is that Mary Light gave him his name and William Negus was his guardian. He was given a very good upbringing and was brought up as a gentleman.

“The problem with Light, however, is that whether or not he was raised a gentleman, he was not born a gentleman. And in the 18th century, your prospects were severely curtailed if you didn’t have a name,” explained Gan in a recent Badan Warisan Malaysia webinar.

A former history and Latin teacher, Gan is married to a Malaysian and has been involved with numerous museums both here and in Indonesia as a guide and editor. She has lived in Malaysia for over 40 years.

She added that upon leaving school at the age of 14 to enlist in the Royal Navy, Light failed to secure even the position of midshipman – the lowest rank of officer.

“He really started at the bottom but he had the dubious good fortune of being in the navy in a time of war. Just as he joined, the Seven Years’ War broke out and he managed to rise through the ranks.

“In times of war, there are many more ships in commission and inevitably, because of the death toll, many more officers are needed.

So, little bit by little bit, he began to climb the ladder,” said Gan.

He became a midshipman and later, a lieutenant alongside James Scott from Scotland who would eventually become a lifelong friend.

After the war, Light’s illegitimacy and lack of recognised origins cropped up again and eventually, both he and Scott left the navy and headed east to seek their fortunes.

There, Light maneuvered through the blooming political and trade crises that were raging across the region from the clash between Siam and Burma to the growing threat of Dutch ships and the powerful presence of the Bugis.

In Dragon, he is joined by real-life historical figures like Governor-general Sir Warren Hastings, Thai national heroine Lady Chan and Sultan Muhammed Jiwa of Kedah when he steers through the conflict-ridden inner circles of Malay royalty and the regional British administration.

Aside from having to learn the local language and customs to lead country ships with diverse crews, there were additional pitfalls to sidestep in this new tropical world.

“There were many other challenges; first of all, he had to learn the routes and the business of trade and the commodities (available).

“He’s going in and out of ports that may be quite dodgy or dangerous and then, there are the literal storms at sea, pirates and tropical diseases. It takes a strong man to survive in that world and survive he does,” said Gan.

Eurasians of Penang

At the very end of the book, the figure who inspired the whole trilogy crops up – the elusive and enchanting Martinha Rozells.

“I discovered Rozells – the glamorous Eurasian who would become Light’s wife – while living in Penang and I became fascinated by the little glimpses of her in historical record. However, everything about her is a question mark; what existed was conflicted and contradictory.

“Much more was known about Light, so, I went down rabbit holes to find out more about him and discovered so much more to his story than what the conventional biographies contain,” said Gan.

Rozells speaks not a word in Dragon but Gan promises much more of her in the upcoming Pearl and Emporium, which make up the remaining books of the series.

“What we do know for sure is that she was a very significant person in Light’s life. She was with him for 23 years and gave him five children who all went on to have significant careers in the British establishment.

“And I think we can see her hand behind some of the decisions that Light makes in later life,” said Gan.

Pearl will centre on Light and Rozells’ early journey, navigating the courts of Siam and Kedah, and explores how far Light will go to raise the British flag on the island of Penang.

Closing off the trilogy, Emporium will be based on life on the isle itself – a paradise on earth and the most bustling port in the Indies.

However, dangers and prejudices lurk and war is coming for the new settlers.

“Some people might perhaps want to ask me: Why have we got to have another book about a white colonial hero? Is it not time to put the past behind us? What I believe, however, is that everything we are today is because of the past.

“So, to try and put it in a box and close the lid is not going to solve the challenges that we have in the present,” she elaborated.

A better path, she continues, would be to acknowledge the past and take whatever lessons it offered.

“Let’s find out more about the past, but in the right way.

“We don’t want to hear the British version of what happened here. Malaysians should be telling their own story as this is a story of Malaysia, as much as it is a story of the colonial past,” she concluded. 
By Andrea Filmer

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Moral vacuum at the heart of modernity, now embodied in US laws!

` In short, historically it was the Church that gave the moral blessing for colonisation, slavery and genocide during the Age of Globalisation. The tragedy is that the Doctrine of Discovery is now embodied in US laws.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Msia-Spore land VTL to be launched on Nov 29, limited to 1,500 people per day

Eligible travelers would be subjected to Covid-19 testing and further health requirements determined by respective country.   - NSTP file pic
Eligible travelers would be subjected to Covid-19 testing and further health requirements determined by respective country. - NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Singapore will simultaneously launch both its air and land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between both countries on Nov 29.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) announced the update today on the heels of the government's preparation to open the VTL between the main airports here and in the republic, and following a dry run held by authorities at the Causeway yesterday.

"Malaysia and Singapore have achieved more than 95 percent rate of vaccinated adult population. This has offered the opportunities for both countries to reopen the land border in a gradual, safe, systematic, and sustainable manner.

"Both Governments are collaborating to launch the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) on Nov 29, 2021. The launch of the VTL-Land will coincide with the VTL-Air that will enhance further bilateral and economic relations between both countries," read the statement from the PMO.

The PMO said apart from workers, the VTL-Land is slated to provide an opportunity for Malaysians and Singaporeans on both sides of the Causeway to be reunited with their loved ones due to lockdown-driven border closures.

It added that the VTL-Land initiative aims to facilitate quarantine-free, seamless cross-border movement while integrating health protocol, security, and immigration clearance.

"Travelers allowed to take part in the VTL-Land are Malaysia and Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents as well as holders of Malaysia and Singapore Long-term Pass.

"These travelers must be fully vaccinated and unvaccinated children below the age of 12 must be accompanied by vaccinated parents or guardians," it said.

Eligible travelers would be subjected to Covid-19 testing and further health requirements determined by respective country.

Currently, the VTL-Land would be limited to only bus transportation as a control mechanism and other modes of transportation will be included in stages.

"The Singapore-bound designated VTL-Land bus services will use Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal (Larkin Sentral) as the boarding and disembarkation point in Malaysia, whereas Queen Street Terminal (QST) as the boarding and disembarkation point in Singapore.

"Both governments have also agreed for a daily quota not exceeding 1,500 travelers at the initial stage, with weekly increments."

Travelers coming into Malaysia using the VTL-Land need to register at, while travelers from Malaysia to Singapore, are required to register at

The registration is compulsory before purchase of tickets.

Details on the VTL-Land requirements can be found on and

On Nov 8, Malaysia and Singapore had announced a VTL between the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Changi Airport starting Nov 29.

Under the VTL, fully-vaccinated will be allowed to travel between both countries, and be subjected to Covid-19 tests in lieu of serving quarantine or the stay-home notice.

However, those living in Johor Baru, who make up the bulk of Malaysians who work in Singapore, said that air travel limited their options because it meant they needed to take two flights to get to and from Singapore due to the transit at KLIA.

It was earlier reported that as of 2019, there were 952,261 Malaysians or Singaporeans of partial or full Malaysian origin residing in Singapore.

In addition to the permanent population in the country, about 350,000 Malaysians were crossing the Johor-Singapore Causeway daily to commute to work or school before the pandemic.

 This community often includes white and blue collared workers as well as those students attending schools in the republic.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

Learn Common prosperity plan to build a fairer society in China

Cheah Cheng Hye: Malaysians should find this campaign of special interest because China, like Malaysia, is trying to break out of the “middle income trap”, a phenomenon faced by much of the developing world. Although Malaysia and China are different in many respects, they do share a common feature: an almost identical level of average incomes.

CHINA has launched a new campaign, called “Common Prosperity”, to improve the living standards of its people and make its society fairer.

Malaysians should find this campaign of special interest because China, like Malaysia, is trying to break out of the “middle income trap”, a phenomenon faced by much of the developing world.

Although Malaysia and China are different in many respects, they do share a common feature: an almost identical level of average incomes.

According to the World Bank, per capita gross domestic product in Malaysia and China were US$10,402 (RM43,517) and US$10,500 (RM43,927), respectively, in 2020. Thus, both are currently middle-income countries seeking to achieve developed-nation status in the medium-term future.

China’s plan is based largely on enlarging its middle class, by creating opportunities for the lower-income people, who currently make up a majority of its population, to become more productive and earn higher incomes. ADVERTISING

Already, China, with a population of 1.4 billion, has 340 million middle-class people, larger than the entire population of the United States. Some estimates put the Chinese middle class at more than 400 million, using a looser definition of “middle class” status.

Beijing aims to increase the middle class to 500 million by 2025 and about 750 million by 2035. Put another way, Beijing is looking for roughly half the mainland Chinese population to be middle class by 2035, compared with less than 30% today, using a conservative definition.To realise the plan, the Chinese economy will need to double in size by 2035, having just doubled from 2010 to 2021.

In recent months, the Common Prosperity plan has caused concern among some investors, who worry that it is a kind of “Robin Hood” campaign. This is simply wrong. One only has to look at the “Zhejiang Plan”, announced in mid-2021, to get a detailed picture.

Zhejiang province (population: 65 million), located in the Yangtze River delta in central China, has set 52 performance targets to achieve Common Prosperity. The government has stated that Zhejiang is a “demonstration zone”, intended as a model for the nation.

Investors can rest assured.

The plan supports private enterprise, innovation, market development and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The plan takes aim against monopolistic business practices, supports the concept of a level playing field in the economy and aims to deflate the real estate market.

As officials have repeatedly stated, the overall objective is to create a society that is olive shaped, not pyramid shaped.

The plan does not emphasise wealth distribution but aims to make society more productive and fairer, with measures added to promote social mobility and better welfare for the needy. It confirms that Beijing remains committed to “state capitalism” (a Chinese version of the concept of “stakeholder capitalism”, currently gaining support in the West).

Clearly, the market-opening, pro-business reforms of the past four decades are irreversible.

Currently, the private sector (China has about 40 million SMEs) provides 50% of tax revenues, 60% of gross domestic product, 70% of patent filings and more than 80% of urban employment.

China’s domestic stock market, which trades through exchanges in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing, is today the world’s most active, with a daily trading volume about four times that of second place New York. Indeed, there is no turning back the clock on using capitalism to help socialism.

Over the past several months, Beijing has launched restrictive regulations against Internet platforms, property developers, after-school tutoring and so on. These are aimed at problems that can’t wait for longer-term solutions.

But the reality of Common Prosperity is that it is mainly about long-term structural reforms to create a more sustainable and inclusive society. President Xi Jinping himself has stated that the objectives will take decades to achieve.

Over time, stock markets and other capital markets are to be encouraged so that more savings can be channelled into manufacturing, innovation and green energy. Real estate development is a different matter. The government is sticking to its restrictions on real-estate investments as housing seems over-built and bubbles have formed.

So, will it work?

The Chinese public, it seems, is confident that Common Prosperity targets can be achieved, given the party’s strong track record, with 800 million people – roughly 10% of the global population – lifted out of extreme poverty over the past four decades.

Indeed, China has already come a long way; as recently as the early 1960s, parts of the country suffered from starvation.

But the obstacles to Common Prosperity cannot be under-estimated, ranging from geo-political tensions to an ageing population and the overheated property market.

Undoubtedly, Common Prosperity represents a shift leftwards in Chinese politics, after decades of liberal policies that enabled a privileged few to make a lot of money. Capital flight could become a persistent problem for China (as it is for Malaysia) as the rich move money to offshore shelters.

Furthermore, for Beijing, real estate is a particularly difficult balancing act, as the property sector represents about 25% of the Chinese economy and 40% of people’s savings.

In urban areas, 80% of households already own their own property, and 40% have second homes. Home prices are up 50% over the past decade.

The property boom is financed by heavy debts, putting financial stability at risk. Beijing has to find ways to cool down the property sector but avoid a hard landing for house prices.

China’s ageing population, too, is a headwind.

But the impact can be offset by improving productivity and innovation.

Here, China’s great success in education is helpful. Each year, China produces more than nine million university graduates, exceeding the combined total of the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The Chinese graduates are concentrated in science, math and engineering.

In addition, about five million people complete vocational school each year with technical and trade skills. Chinese talent is on an upward spiral, meaning many problems can be overcome.

Common Prosperity is driven by the Communist Party of China, which has been in power since 1949, and has always identified itself as a party representing workers and peasants.

But now, the party has staked its brand on the success of the prosperity plan and in the process, it is transforming itself into a party for the middle class.

If successful, the party will lift China into the ranks of developed nations by 2035.

Datuk Seri Cheah Cheng Hye is the head of Value Partners Group, an asset management firm in Hong Kong. He is also an independent non-executive director of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. He started his career as a reporter in The Star.

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Booster shots vital in reducing Covid-19 infectivity rate

THIS week’s big discussion is whether people should or shouldn’t take the Covid-19 booster shot.

Social media is buzzing with the supposed repercussions and negative impacts of the third jab – the problem is, it’s all unfounded hearsay, and it is discouraging many people from getting their booster shots.

Last week, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said 40% of those eligible for booster shots did not turn up for their appointments.

This is a real concern for Malaysia.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah tweeted last week that Covid-19’s R-nought factor, a calculation of the average “spreadability” of an infectious disease, has also gone up again, past the 1.0 mark.

And once again, intensive care unit beds in the country’s local public hospitals are experiencing between 80% and 90% usage, which is critical.

All this means that getting the booster shot is urgent, just as it was previously vital that people get vaccinated.

Getting a booster shot is safe, as it has been given to millions of people worldwide with minimal side effects – more than 21 million Americans have received a booster, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Don’t be confused or alarmed by talk in WhatsApp chat groups and social media.

Importantly, do not simply forward unverified information. Check and authenticate what you read, find out where the information came from – and your aunty’s next door neighbour’s cousin is not a believable source (unless he or she is a scientist)!

The booster shots – Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines – have all been authorised for use by Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

The NPRA also says it’s OK for recipients of the Sinovac vaccine to get a different vaccine.

No government body would give its approval without researching studies and precedents.

The NPRA, the country’s drug control authority that authenticates the quality, efficacy and safety of all pharmaceutical products in Malaysia, would not risk its reputation and professionalism to allow boosters if it found them unsuitable.

Sinovac vaccine recipients who worry about being scheduled to have the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster should take a look at studies conducted by Chile, Brazil, and Thailand on the use of the mix and match formula.

All three countries have successfully applied the mix-and-match – aka heterologous – formula to lessen the severity of infection among those who had completed their two Sinovac jabs.

People’s fear do need to be properly addressed, though. This is the time for the government to step up efforts to create awareness about the booster shot and how it can help to reduce the infectivity rate among the population.

There should be official channels to counter the adverse social media rumours and talk about the issue.

A barrage of official information could help counter the fake news and encourage more people to keep their MySejahtera appointments to get their booster shots and bring down the R-nought value.

And don’t forget that the highly infectious Delta variant is lurking within the population – booster shots are vital to keep it at bay and stop a spike in the number of cases.

We cannot afford to shut the country down again.

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Covid-19 in Malaysia: The situation so far, Daily numbers stay above 6,000 for third day in a row

 PETALING JAYA: The health ministry has reported 5,859 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

This comes after three consecutive days of the number of cases breaching the 6,000 mark.

In a statement, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the total number of infections now stands at 2,581,747.


Daily numbers stay above 6,000 for third day in a row 

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 cases stayed above the 6,000 mark for the third day straight with 6,355 new infections recorded.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of yesterday’s cases, 6,240 or 98.2% were mild and asymptomatic.

“Another 1.8% or 115 cases were in Category Three, Four, and Five.

“There were 31 imported cases, involving 20 Malaysians and 11 foreigners,” he said in his daily Covid-19 statement.

Cumulatively, Malaysia recorded a total of 2,575,888 Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began.

Dr Noor Hisham said the infectivity rate had seen a slight decrease in the last few days, with Thursday’s RT level at 1.02.

The country’s RT went up as high as 1.05 on Nov 13. An RT level of 1.0 and above indicates that the Covid-19 outbreak is growing.

Melaka (RT 0.99), Sabah (RT 0.97), Penang (RT 0.96), Perlis (RT 0.89), Sarawak (RT 0.85) and Labuan (RT 0.00) are the only states with RT levels below 1.0.

Dr Noor Hisham added that another 5,031 patients were discharged in the same 24-hour span.

“This brings the total of Covid-19 recoveries to 2,477,314, which is a 96.2% recovery rate.

“Currently, there are 542 patients in intensive care units, of which 436 are confirmed Covid-19 cases and 106 are suspected.

“There are 268 people on ventilator support,” he said, adding that 10 new clusters had been identified nationwide.

According to the Health Ministry’s CovidNow website, 78.4% of active cases as of Thursday are mild or asymptomatic infections requiring home quarantine.

The death toll stands at 29,892 after 55 fatalities were registered on Thursday. 


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Malaysia's Covid-19 Situation is improving


Experts: Situation is improving

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Xi-Biden’s rare long virtual meet concludes, ‘injects certainty into bilateral ties’

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning (Beijing time), the first face-to-face meeting virtually since Biden took office. (Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning (Beijing time), the first face-to-face meeting virtually since Biden took office. (Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese President Xi Jinping had thorough and in-depth communication and exchanges with US President Joe Biden in a rare long virtual meeting on Tuesday morning (Beijing time) during which they discussed strategic, overarching and fundamental issues on bilateral relations.

The first face-to-face virtual meeting between the top two leaders lasted three hours and a half after they opened their talks on a friendly note. Chinese observers said that the meeting will inject certainty into the bilateral ties and is sending a signal that the two countries will cooperate in many areas despite they could not avoid fierce competition, and the fact that they are trying to manage competition is itself a positive sign for the world.

A video released by China Central Television showed that Xi hailed Biden as an old friend in the opening remarks, saying that he was very happy to see his old friend and it's crucial for China and the US to work together in addressing common challenges.

Both China and the US are at critical stages of development, and the "global village" of humanity faces multiple challenges, the Chinese president said.

As the world's two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US need to increase communication and cooperation, each run their domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder their share of international responsibilities, and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development, Xi told Biden.

A sound and steady China-US relationship is needed for advancing the two countries' respective development and for safeguarding a peaceful and stable international environment, including finding effective responses to global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi stressed.

"China and the US should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation," he said, expressing his readiness to work with Biden to build consensus and take active steps to move China-US relations forward in a positive direction.

The Chinese President laid out three principles and four priority areas for the China-US relations. In terms of principles, the two countries firstly need to respect each other's social systems and development paths, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and respect each other's right to development.

They also need to treat each other as equals, keep differences under control, and seek common ground while reserving differences. The other two principles include peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. No conflict and no confrontation is a line that both sides must hold, the Chinese President said.

The US side has suggested coexistence between China and the US. One more word can be added to make it peaceful coexistence, Xi said. With their interests deeply intertwined, China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation.

The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and collectively. The right thing to do is to choose mutual benefit over zero-sum game or the I-win-you-lose approach, Xi said.


The most important event in international relations in the coming 50 years will be for China and the US to find the right way to get along. History is a fair judge. What a statesman does, be it right or wrong, be it an accomplishment or a failure, will all be recorded by history. It is hoped that President Biden will demonstrate political leadership and steer US' China policy back on the track of reason and pragmatism, Xi said.

Biden told Xi that he was looking forward to a "candid and forthright discussion" as in the past and he believed it is the responsibility of the two countries' top leaders to ensure "the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict."

We need to build the guardrail of commonsense, be clear and honest about our differences, and work together on areas of mutual interest, especially on major global issues like climate change. The relationship between our two countries has a huge impact not only on our two countries, but on the whole world, Biden said.

While Biden insisting that the US is not seeking a new cold war, Xi said he hopes that the US can meet its word of not seeking a "new Cold War" with concrete actions.

While Biden made three promises, including not seek to change China's system, the revitalization of its alliances is not anti-China and have no intention to have clash with China, Xi expressed hope for the US to fulfill its promises.

In terms of four priority areas, Xi stressed that the two countries should shoulder responsibilities of major countries and lead global response to outstanding challenges, and act in the spirit of equality and mutual benefit to move forward exchanges at all levels and in all areas and generate more positive energy for China-US relations.

Also, the two countries need to manage differences and sensitive issues in a constructive way to prevent China-US relations from getting derailed or out of control, and strengthen coordination and cooperation on major international and regional hotspot issues to provide more public goods to the world.

The atmosphere of the meeting, to some extent, reflected a pretty good personal relationship between the two leaders, which has already been underscored in the previous phone calls, Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"It's also rare for heads of state to have such a long conversation, and such a good relationship is seen as a positive condition for handling bilateral ties," Wu said.

The virtual summit could enhance political trust between the two countries, which plays an important role for current and future development of bilateral relations and it's conducive for improving the atmosphere of bilateral relations, he continued.

The China-US relationship is undoubtedly the most important relationship between major powers in today's international relations. The ongoing virtual summit is sending a signal to the world that China and the US will cooperate in many areas despite they could not avoid fierce competition, according to Chinese experts.

"The fact that China and the US are trying to manage competition is itself a positive sign for the world," Wu said.

On the Taiwan question, Xi said we have the patience and will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts. But if the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line, we will be compelled to take resolute measures, Xi said.

The US President reaffirmed the US government's long-standing one-China policy, stated that the US does not support "Taiwan independence", and expressed the hope for peace and stability to be maintained in the Taiwan Straits.

The virtual meeting was held during the working hours in China but late night in the US, which clearly shows which side is more eager. From the interactions in Anchorage in Alaska in March, to Tianjin in China in July and Zurich in Switzerland in October, China gradually has the initiative of the bilateral relations. The era for the US to unilaterally define the bilateral ties has ended and the two countries have entered into a period of equal and fair dialogue, Wang Dong, an expert on China-US relations at Peking University, told the Global Times.

The first half of the virtual meeting finished at 10:45 am after two hours of exchanging views on issues of common concern.

Ding Xuexiang, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng are among the attendees to the meeting.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, White House Asia adviser Kurt Campbell and Laura Rosenberger, a US foreign policy veteran are among the US officials to the meeting, according to media reports.

The top leaders had spoken twice over the phone, in February and September.

The meeting, which lasted for rarely long of three hours and a half, concluded at 12:24 Tuesday noon Beijing time, which is midnight in Washington.

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