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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should investigate US shootings


America's lucrative gun business Cartoon: Carlos Latuff


US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the Texan town of Uvalde on Sunday, laying a bouquet for the 21 victims, including 19 children, in the latest mass shooting. The grief that this school tragedy brought to American society is far from dissipating. Only 12 days ago, the Bidens were at the site of another mass shooting - a supermarket in Buffalo, New York - to mourn the 10 victims. Just in the past weekend, there were multiple shootings across the US, killing at least six people and injuring more than 30 others.

Public anger is growing as more details of the Robb Elementary School shooting are revealed. According to reports, as many as 19 police officers stood in a hallway outside the classroom where the gunman was hiding for nearly an hour before they opened the door. One of the young victims bled to death while waiting for police to come, media reported. The New York Times released an opinion piece titled "Don't Talk to Me About 'Civility.' On Tuesday Morning Those Children Were Alive," denouncing the hypocrisy of the so-called "civility" hyped by the American elites. Biden also asked: "These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?"

But in a country that prides itself on being a "beacon of light," the clamor of public opinion as well as the condemnation from celebrities and politicians are not enough for the US system to reform its gun laws. The number of shootings in the US is increasing, like black ants gathering around rotting flesh. 2022 is not even halfway over, and more than 17,000 Americans, including 650 children, have already died from gun violence. Some Western media believe that US society has become "numb" in one shooting incident after another. Living a normal life after the gunfire should be called "American characteristics." And the American people can only dodge the bullets that come at any time by luck.

Such tragedies are exacerbated by the division of American politics. One can see that "rituals" are replacing real reflection as the standard procedure for each tragic incident. Flags were lowered at half-mast when a million Americans died due to epidemic control failure. The flags were lowered for the slow search and rescue of people trapped in collapsed houses, and for the mass casualties by shootings.

After the president and politicians made mournful rhetoric, saying "enough" and calling for "change," and gun ownership showed "a glimpse of regret" at charity dinners, the country can move on. Then the two parties will put their own spin on it. These tragedies have turned into weapons against opponents in a partisan struggle. When it comes to the problem itself, it has become a ball to be kicked around.

In addition to the weak gun control, the shootings also reflect the intensification of various social contradictions in the US, such as the wealth gap, racial discrimination, drug abuse, and public security. The US system is equally incapable, or lacks interest, motivation, and courage, to address these problems thoroughly. Behind the opposition to gun control are powerful interest groups and the inertia of the traditional understanding of guns in US society. The huge influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in American politics daunts every politician. People's rights are always giving way to political interests or "political correctness." This is the inherent logic of the US system.

It is worth noting that when the US' internal problems have become increasingly prominent, it has intensified its external aggression, which is a vicious circle at another level. US Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday spoke at a memorial service for Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting, that the US "is experiencing an epidemic of hate." Another fact that she was reluctant and inconvenient to say is that the US is undergoing "an epidemic of hostility" externally. In recent days, Washington was still obsessed with fabricating a lie of the century over "the human rights in Xinjiang" and has been recklessly attacking and smearing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's visit to China. They probably did not expect Bachelet to reserve her longest answer for the US shootings and the racism at the press conference at the end of her visit. She said that "people believe that they are superior to others and feel they have the right to kill other people, but they are not.

Facts have proven once again that the "darkness under the lights," including the shooting cases, is a chronic human rights disease that the US, the so-called "beacon of light," neither dares nor is willing to illuminate. To solve this problem, one cannot rely on self-touching "ceremonies," or use "human rights" as a weapon to attack other countries. We urge the US government to take concrete actions to solve its own severe human rights problems, and stop being a negative example of double standards in terms of human rights. We call on the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to launch an investigation into human rights problems in the US as soon as possible, so that the US-style hegemony cannot cover up its bad deeds.

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 Photo: VCG

Monday, May 30, 2022

By trying to pressure Bachelet, the US and West are unable to create an ‘iron curtain’ of human rights: Global Times editorial


Michelle Bachelet Photo: Courtesy of Embassy of Chile in Beijing


Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrapped up her six-day visit to China on Saturday. This is the first visit by a UN high commissioner for human rights in 17 years. On Saturday night, Bachelet briefed reporters about her visit online, saying, "The visit was an opportunity to hold direct discussions - with China's most senior leaders - on human rights, to listen to each other" and "poverty alleviation as well as the eradication of extreme poverty, 10 years ahead of its target date, are tremendous achievements of China."

Regarding Xinjiang-related topics that have attracted much attention from the outside world, Bachelet visited Kashi, Urumqi and other places, walked into the cotton fields, and watched an exhibition on the theme of anti-terrorism and de-radicalization. During her Xinjiang visit, she also had discussions and exchanges with people from all walks of life such as ethnic minorities, experts and scholars. At the press conference, Bachelet specifically pointed out that her talks were conducted without supervision.

This development euphemistically responds to the conspiracy theories that have been deliberately created by US and Western public opinion for quite some time. Before Bachelet's visit to China began, the US, the UK and other countries threw out "questions" based on the presumption of guilt, asserting that the high commissioner's visit was "a mistake." After Bachelet honestly and objectively told the press conference her experience and details of her stay in China, some stubborn Westerners still turned a blind eye to all this. The US State Department even takes the lead by expressing its "concerns" and its feeling of being "troubled," and it accused China of restricting and manipulating Bachelet's visit. It also put forward its previous tailor-made lies about Xinjiang region again.

It is noticed that at first, it was the US-led Western countries that had kept pushing Bachelet to visit China, and now they have made a turnabout to attack Bachelet for no reason. Their ulterior political purpose is becoming more and more explicit.

In previous years, Xinjiang region was deeply affected by terrorism and religious extremism. But China has cracked down on terrorist activities in accordance with the law, safeguarded the lives and properties of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and effectively protected their human rights. After unremitting efforts, Xinjiang has become free of violent terrorism for more than five years in a row, with social security and stability, development continuing to improve, and people living and working in peace and happiness. However, some people in the US and the West stubbornly refuse to believe the reality in Xinjiang, and insist on imagining Xinjiang as a big theater with 25 million "extras," which is an insult to the intelligence of those who have seen the reality of the region.

Realities have proven time and again that the "iron curtain of human rights" created by those extremist forces trying to exploit the Xinjiang-related affairs is vulnerable. In recent years, the US-led West made up the so-called missing person list, and by invoking the rhetoric of "concentration camps" and other historical memories of the people of Western countries, they had forcibly imposed the labels of "genocide" and "forced labor" on Xinjiang. The more exaggerated their lies, the easier they will be exposed. Actually, anyone who has been to Xinjiang can see the absurdity of the US and the West in demonizing the region.

People attend a culture and tourism festival themed on Dolan and Qiuci culture in Awat County of Aksu Prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region, Oct. 25, 2019. The festival kicked off recently in Aksu Prefecture. (Xinhua/Sadat)

People attend a culture and tourism festival themed on Dolan and Qiuci culture in Awat County of Aksu Prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region, Oct. 25, 2019. The festival kicked off recently in Aksu Prefecture. (Xinhua/Sadat)

It should be said that by visiting China under the pressure of the US and Western forces, Bachelet showed her efforts to learn the truth beyond the Western public opinion poisoned by these extremist forces. As Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the high commissioner for human rights' trip to China would help enhance understanding and cooperation and clarify misinformation. We also expect that Bachelet would bring her comprehensive experience of a true Xinjiang to more people in the West who are willing to know the truth.

Of course, some people who pretend to be asleep may never be waken up. While Bachelet's visit was still underway, some so-called anonymous senior diplomats told media that the visit "is a victory to China." As human rights progress is endless, how can it be said to win or lose? Such rhetoric just reveals the genuine intent of the US and the West, which is to regard the normal exchanges and interactions between the UN high commissioner for human rights and China as part of a geopolitical game. They are trying so hard to "convict" China. As to the real situation in Xinjiang region, it doesn't matter to them at all.

It's precisely because of this that they must conduct an "investigation" on China with the presumption of guilt - whoever draws the conclusion of "genocide" and "forced labor" is "reliable." Such presumption of guilt is almost insane. In their eyes, a lunatic who claims that "people will be cut off their hands and feet when they arrive in Xinjiang," and "people will be shot dead if they refuse to eat pork" may appear to be "more credible" than the UN human rights chief. It has to be said that in order to smear and attack China, some people in the US and West have already broken the bottom line of common sense in their evil narratives against Xinjiang.

China's progress itself is a mirror. This is also true in the field of human rights. Bachelet's visit to China once again sends a message to the US and Western forces who engage in the manipulation of "using Xinjiang to contain China": Dark clouds cannot cover the sun and will only make people more appreciate the blue sky behind them.

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Xinjiang visit 'unsupervised' and 'open,' UN human rights chief says as she wraps up China trip

By stressing her trip is not an investigation, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet ended her six-day visit in China and its Xinjiang region with a statement on Saturday night and said her mission had wide and open discussions with ...


Saturday, May 28, 2022

World needs more than ‘beautiful words’ from the US: Global Times editorial


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Photo: VCG US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Photo: VCG 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a speech on US' China policy at George Washington University on Thursday, which is so far the most comprehensive and systematic policy exposition by the Biden administration on the relations between the two countries.

In a speech that lasted about an hour, Blinken outlined the Biden administration's China strategy as "invest, align and compete." That is, invest in US competitiveness, align with allies and partners, and compete with China, in an attempt to form the so-called "comprehensive deterrence" against China.

In general, this speech appears to be relatively "restrained," especially compared with the "new iron curtain speech" by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in 2020, with a posture that is less aggressive and bellicose. It even contained some "beautiful words."

For example, Blinken expressed the willingness to strengthen direct "communication across a full range of issues" with China, adding that Washington "does not seek to transform China's political system," and "does not seek to stop China from growing their economy," the US "does not want a new Cold War," "does not want to sever China's economy from the global economy" and "does not support Taiwan independence." However, as an old Chinese saying goes: "We do not only listen to what one says but also watch what one does." We will wait and see.

Of course, that is not the whole content of Blinken's speech. Those "beautiful words" often come with a following sentence, like stating that Beijing poses the "most serious long-term challenge" to the international order, and it is necessary to ensure that China complies with international rules while the US "will shape the strategic environment around Beijing" and "call for change, not to stand against China, but to stand up for peace, security, and human dignity." The US policy toward Taiwan island remains unchanged, but "what has changed is Beijing's growing coercion."

The diplomatic rhetoric still requests Beijing to submit to Washington's hegemonic demands and this speech on China policy follows Washington's inconsistency between minds and words. It wants to be in the international moral high ground while putting the interests of the US first.

We certainly hope that Washington is serious about not falling into a "new Cold War" with China, but the biggest problem is that it always says one thing and does another. US President Joe Biden announced the launch of the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework" during his just-concluded Asian trip, which is considered to be a "clique" to exclude China, and issued a joint statement with many parts of the content targeting China after the Quad summit. On many occasions, the US has talked a lot about "avoiding a new Cold War," but in practice, it has divided the camp with ideology, put the pluralistic world into a battle between "democracy" and "autocracy" and arbitrarily asked other countries to choose sides. Isn't this paving the way for a "new Cold War?"

Even in Blinken's latest policy speech declaring "no new Cold War," many of his words reflect ideological prejudice and Cold War mindset, which is consistent with the characteristics of the US' current behavior. For example, China is described as a "challenge", while the US' response is a kind of "deterrence," as if China is the aggressor and the US is the defender. On the Taiwan question, the Chinese mainland is accused of unilaterally changing the status quo, which actually should be blamed on the Taiwan secessionist force. These are all discourse traps that turn black into white.

In addition, Blinken continued the practice of the Pompeo era of trying to separate the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government from the Chinese people, which not only is an attack on the country's system but also is arrogant to the Chinese people.

The reason why it appears less "bellicose" is that - Blinken himself actually touched on - the US has limited ability to directly influence China's "intentions" and "ambitions." It is worth mentioning that what Blinken did not express in his speech is precisely the reality that the US has to face. For example, he emphasized that the US is still a diverse and dynamic society, but the backdrop is the rampant racism in the country, repeated gun violence and other chronic problems that are hard to eradicate. He talked a lot about allies and partnerships, but reality is that the US is experiencing a credibility crisis globally. The areas where Blinken said in a very positive tone are precisely the dilemmas the country is facing.

In any case, compared to his predecessor, Blinken's China policy speech seemed "more prudent" and it at least touched on many areas where China and the US could cooperate. He said the US will cooperate with China when it should.

In recent years, US' choice to confront China hasn't made the US great again. China's policy toward the US is consistent and clear, and it always fulfills its commitment. The key point is whether the US can walk the talk. The mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between China and the US are good news for China and the US and good news for the whole world.

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Honesty is the best policy." Although Washington is stronger in discourse power, yet the world expects the US to keep its words and deeds in carrying out cooperation and managing differences, not just say "beautiful words" to move itself.

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LETHAL LURE OF JOBS ABROAD, Baited and trapped

Malaysians fail for offers of lucrative jobs overseas only to end up scrammed 

Families seek help from authorities to rescue job scam victims abroad


KUALA LUMPUR: Desperate for work after the Covid-19 pandemic left them jobless, hundreds of Malaysians pounced on offers of high-paying jobs abroad when borders reopened.

They were in for an ugly surprise.

They soon found out they had become victims of job scams and, with their travel documents taken away, are now stranded in several Indochinese countries.

Police said initial investigations showed the scams are run by human trafficking syndicates in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Bukit Aman CID director Comm Datuk Seri Abd Jalil Hassan (pic) told The Star that 115 Malaysians were still stranded in these countries, desperate to return home.

Statistics from the federal police showed as at May 23, 100 men and 15 women aged between 17 and 41, were still stuck in various countries including Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

“We have received a total of 110 police reports on Malaysians stranded abroad after being victims of job scams.

“We believe the victims have been stranded there for at least six months. We are actively pursuing all cases to assist the victims,” he added.

Police reports were lodged by the victims’ families after they managed to call home, he said.

“In most cases, the victims managed to inform their family members of their predicament.

“We believe the number of police reports increased after the recent successful rescue of Malaysians abroad, with such cases being highlighted in the media,” he added.

Last month, the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia said it had rescued more than 60 Malaysians coerced into working for scam call centres over the past few years.

On April 6, 16 Malaysians held captive in Sihanoukville on the south coast of Cambodia were also rescued.

The victims claimed they were duped by offers of jobs as customer service representatives with lucrative salaries for a Cambodian company.

Once in Cambodia, their personal documents were seized and their movements restricted.

Since the reopening of the country’s borders, more dubious job offers were being uploaded on social media, Comm Abd Jalil said.

“Some people are desperate due to a lack of jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Among the main factors that enticed victims to such job scams are lucrative salary offers and benefits.

“We believe the convenience of finding a job overseas is also a factor that influenced the victims’ decisions,” he added.

Comm Abd Jallil said initial investigations showed the syndicates were forcing these Malaysians into working in scams and gambling dens.

“We are building more intelligence on the human trafficking syndicates to effectively clamp down on such job scams.

“We are working hard with the Interpol and Aseanapol to track down and rescue victims.

“We are also collaborating with the Foreign Ministry to expedite efforts in rescuing the victims overseas,” he added.

He also appealed for more awareness to prevent others from falling victims.

“We are working with government agencies and NGOs especially the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department on creating more awareness on such job scams.

“We are focusing on the importance of being careful when considering jobs offered overseas via social media,” he said.

Comm Abd Jalil advised the public to know and adhere to local laws and regulations when accepting jobs overseas.

“Before accepting any job offers, do a thorough background check on the prospective employer or company,” he said.

Comm Abd Jalil added that the police welcome information on syndicates that duped Malaysians and forced them to conduct illegal activities overseas.

“Those with information can contact the nearest police station,” he said. 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) may just be an empty shell as US can offer nothing concrete


llustration: Chen Xia/Global Times 

 What is U.S. President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) all about? People involved in formulating IPEF admitted that "there's nothing particularly original" in the deal according to Emanuel Pastreich, president of the Asia Institute.

US President Joe Biden announced on Monday that its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) will start with 12 founding members - Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The White House touted that those countries account for about 40 percent of the world's GDP, but the high-profile launch doesn't obscure the fact that the US economic scheme, which reportedly covers supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, and anticorruption efforts, lacks specific content.

The US might be able to attract some economies to the IPEF with its seemingly ambitious pledges about digital economy and a new supply chain. However, when it comes to specific negotiations of rules, if the US cannot provide countries with practical benefits to really push for the establishment of a win-win mechanism, the IPEF will not lead to any concrete results.

It is no secret that the IPEF will be used by the US as an important geopolitical tool to contain China in the Asia-Pacific region, but the participation of the other 12 founding countries doesn't necessarily mean they will be all sided with the US in "decoupling" from China. To a certain extent, their participation in the IPEF is largely because they want to be engaged in the establishment of the new economic and trade mechanism from the beginning so as to have a greater say in the rule-setting for their own interests.

For instance, from the perspective of the seven ASEAN members, it is understandable that they hope to benefit from bigger market access, tariff elimination and other preferential trade policies through the new economic scheme, with the view of further promoting the development of their economies and industrial chains. But it is also important to note that most of the ASEAN members are at a different development stage from that of developed countries such as the US and Japan, resulting in a sharp division when it comes their respective requirements for standards in areas like digital economy, labor rights, market regulation, environmental protection, and anti-corruption. And it remains to be seen how the voices and interests of these developing countries can be assured during the detailed negotiations.

In this sense, the game between the US and the other 12 countries may have just started. US Secretary of Commerce Raimondo stated that the IPEF is to "make Indo-Pacific countries beyond China more attractive as manufacturing hubs," according to the South China Morning Post. But that raises a new question: since China is the largest trading partner for more than 120 countries, how can the US ensure the stability of the regional supply chain without China? Maybe that's not the intention of the US at all, because supply chain chaos may actually create new opportunities for the US to bring back manufacturing companies.

However, most of the Asia-Pacific countries see the US as their major export market and China as their major supply chain partner, so they want to see their cooperation with the US under the IPEF could increase their chances of exporting their manufactured goods to the US - and not necessarily trying to hurt trade with China.

From the US' perspective, since Donald Trump's administration, many in Washington blame multilateral free trade for US economic problems, including unemployment and a weakening manufacturing sector. With that protectionist sentiment continuing, the Biden administration is unlikely to give Asian countries more access to the US market.

In fact, if the US opens its market wider to Asian countries, its imports will increase, especially from China, because the Asia-Pacific supply chain is essentially intertwined closely with the Chinese industrial chain. Moreover, China is becoming a major export market for these Asia-Pacific countries, with even stronger demand compared with the US in some fields.

The bottom line is that the decline of American manufacturing has deprived the US of the ability to dominate the regional industrial chain to achieve its strategic goals. The IPEF can offer nothing to make Asia-Pacific countries compromise their massive economic ties with China just to appease Washington. 

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 Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Monday, May 23, 2022

COVID-19 in the US - a tragedy ignored, Four COVID-death peaks: the failure of the US anti-epidemic policy; WHO okayed vaccines including CanSinoBIO jab

COVID-19 in the US -- a tragedy ignored.Graphic:GT

Four COVID-death peaks:The COVID death toll in US reached one million last week, marking the total failure of US anti-epidemic policies. According to statistics, there were four peaks of daily new death cases since February 2020. How did the US policy fail so badly?  

 WHO okayed vaccines including CanSinoBIO jab 

  Geneva: The World Health Organisation gave the green light to Chinese manufacturer CanSinoBIO’s Covid-19 vaccine – the ninth jab to get the WHO seal of approval.

The WHO granted emergency use listing (EUL) authorisation to the single-shot Convidecia vaccine as China battles a resurgence of the virus triggered by the Omicron variant.

It is the third Chinese-made vaccine to be approved by the UN’s health agency, after Sinovac and Sinopharm.

Convidecia was found to have 64% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 92% efficacy against severe Covid-19, the WHO said.

“The vaccine meets WHO standards for protection against Covid-19 and ... the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh risks,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

The WHO’s vaccine experts recommended it for people aged 18 and above.

Convidecia may be used as a booster dose following a completed primary series using any other EUL Covid-19 vaccine, said the WHO.

The jab has already been rolled out in several countries including China, Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico and Pakistan.

By the end of 2021, more than 58 million people had already been vaccinated with the jab, including nearly 14 million in China, the WHO said.

The WHO has now given EUL status to nine Covid-19 vaccines and variations thereof – Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Bharat Biotech, Novavax and CanSinoBIO.

Convidecia is based on a modified human adenovirus.

The AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are also both based on viral vector technology.

The more traditional approach uses a genetically-engineered version of the common cold adenovirus as a “vector” to shuttle genetic instructions into human cells.

Convidecia “demonstrates a favourable safety profile in people across different age groups”, eliciting strong immune responses with both binding and neutralising antibodies, said the WHO. — AFP 

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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Act swiftly to prevent data breaches


The Most EFFECTIVE WAYS to Prevent a Security Data Breach


THE allegation that the personal data of 22.5 million Malaysians born between 1940 and 2004, purportedly from the National Registration Department (NRD), have been stolen and sold on the dark web is a serious concern.

According to local tech portal Amanz, the 160GB database containing information such as a person’s name, identity card number, address, date of birth, gender, race, religion, mobile number, and Base54-based photo, is being sold for US$10,000 (about RM43,885) at a well-known database marketplace forum.

In a screenshot shared by the portal, the seller claimed that the database was an expanded repository from the one he sold in September last year.

In the incident last year, the personal data of four million Malaysians were allegedly leaked from the MyIdentity API (application programming interface) and put up for sale at RM35,419.

MyIdentity is a national data-sharing platform that allows government agencies to access individuals’ details from a centralised repository.

This is not the only government database that has been put on sale this year. Apparently, a couple of weeks earlier, the same seller had posted a database allegedly belonging to 802,259 Malaysian voters, obtained from the Election Commission’s website, on the black market.

And sadly, these are not the only incidences of government database breaches.

While the Home Affairs Ministry has denied that the latest database leak was from NRD, the police, on the other hand, have already started their investigation into the breach.

But whatever the outcome is, with the rising number of cases involving government personal data leaks, the authorities must be held accountable for such breaches.

Heads, especially those given the task of ensuring the safety and security of these public data, must roll.

They must be held accountable for their failure in protecting the people’s interests and in ensuring the safety and security of their private details, which could easily be abused.

The government must also act swiftly to address the weaknesses in their system and reassure Malaysians of a better solution to safeguard data stored by government departments and agencies.

It is a question of public safety.

Scammers could use the stolen data to cheat people of their money, while telemarketers would have a field day making unsolicited calls from the leaked telephone numbers of Malaysians.

To prevent leaked data from being misused, the government, including the police, must work harder to go after scammers, who could use such information to trick victims, especially via the Macau scam.Last year, 1,585 Macau scam cases were reported nationwide, resulting in RM560.8mil in losses. This year, the number has already reached 1,258 cases as at April 19, involving RM65.4mil in losses.

As for telemarketing, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) must be more vigilant and introduce sterner measures to prevent unsolicited calls.

Actions to stop the scammers and unsolicited calls would restore people’s confidence in government agencies despite the data breach.

Lastly, as the custodian of all Malaysians’ data, the government must also be held accountable for any breach.

Currently, the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA) does not apply to the federal and state governments. Instead, it only covers commercial entities.

While proposals to amend the PDPA, including making the government accountable, have been made, the amendments have yet to be tabled in Parliament.

Therefore, lawmakers should seriously consider the urgency of the amendments to make Malaysians’ personal data safer in the public domain, preventing them from falling into the wrong hands for illegal use.

This has to be done quickly to prevent more of such data breaches before it is too late and puts national security at risk. 

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Hisham: Data leak won't affect national security

'Govt must also be held accountable' | The Star

Public fuming over another likely data leak


PETALING JAYA: The public are outraged over another alleged data leak containing the information of 22.5 million Malaysians born between 1940 and 2004, stolen from the National Registration Department (NRD).

Many are anticipating more scam calls and SMSes as well as fraudulent online transactions to occur over the breach.

Businessman Amirul Asraf, 31, from Wangsa Melawati, said such incidents were the root cause for many the scam calls people are receiving on a daily basis.

“With these data, scammers can convince people that they are calling from the banks, courts, police and authorities. This will make people’s lives harder.

“I read a case where a poor man who obtained assistance from his local assemblyman was cheated after a scammer emptied him out. The assemblyman had to help the victim again as a result.

ALSO READ: ‘Govt must also be held accountable’

“These scammers are heartless. They don’t care if they take a lot or a little or whom they trick, as long as they get the money,” he said.

Software engineer Ahmad Ridzwan, 30, from Bukit Jalil, could only say “Malaysia Boleh” in relation to the leak taking place.

“Not sure what else to comment. This is the worst possible leak because our identifiable data is out in the open and the identity card is the most important one of all,” he said.

Sales executive Shivaendra Gunasegaram, 30, from Petaling Jaya, said smartphones and social media companies already had all data pertaining to the individuals.

As such, all personal information was accessible to many people, he said.

“As long as there are no unauthorised transactions from our bank accounts, I feel that there’s nothing to worry about.

“The advantage of being poor is that they probably won’t target my account because there’s not much in it,” he said jokingly.

Meanwhile, the data leak report continued to create a buzz in online forums and on social media, with many people expressing their unhappiness over the government’s inability to protect vital information from being leaked repeatedly over the years.On Facebook, user Zaidi Rudy said: “Brace yourselves, scam calls are coming in.”

Dennis Ooi said: “Was SOLD mean somebody have to go jail. Any action taken on those responsible. Or tangkap lepas again.”

Wan Meng Lee questioned: “Why the rakyat confidential information can be sold off is it not kept safely omg.”

Abdul Hamid said: “If they know the data being sold, they definitely know who is the seller.”

In the Lowyat forum, user bananjoe said: “Habis go and overhaul the whole new mykad. This is epic ridiculous. Government IT staff doing what ???”

Sycamore said: ”So absurd. But why am I not surprised? Absurdity is the reality.”

Radiowarrior1337 said: “This needs to kena and people head must roll. Tidak apa attitude and biar la dah hack kan so mari lepak minum teh now to discuss what scenario he obtains the data.”

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Comprehending the complexity of countries


This book argues for computer-aided collaborative country research based on the science of complex and dynamic systems. It provides an in-depth discussion of systems and computer science, concluding that proper understanding of a country is only possible if a genuinely interdisciplinary and truly international approach is taken; one that is based on complexity science and supported by computer science. Country studies should be carefully designed and collaboratively carried out, and a new generation of country students should pay more attention to the fast growing potential of digitized and electronically connected libraries. In this frenzied age of globalization, foreign policy makers may – to the benefit of a better world – profit from the radically new country studies pleaded for in the book. Its author emphasizes that reductionism and holism are not antagonistic but complementary, arguing that parts are always parts of a whole and a whole has always parts.

Comprehending the complexity of countries is a monumental contribution to deep thinking about countries as complex and dynamic systems.

GEOPOLITICS is the game of strategists figuring out how countries behave. The Ukraine war has shown how assumptions about countries or the behaviour of their leaders are wrong, plunging the world into what Henry Kissinger has called a “totally new era”.

Hans Kuijper, a retired Dutch diplomat and exceptional Sinologist, has written an indispensable guide to understanding where country studies have gone wrong, and how we can use systems thinking and computers (ICT) to unravel the quagmire of flawed country studies.

His book is a tour de force into the philosophy of social science, drawing on his incredible reading of ancient Chinese and Western philosophy, science and current country studies.

The thesis of this book is quite simple: country studies have an explanandum (something, i.e. a country to be explained), but so-called country experts do not have an explanans, a tested or testable theory that not only explains, but stands out from other scientific theories in different disciplines such as geography, demography, ecology, politics, economics, sociology, linguistics, or anthropology.

Thus, “China experts” unjustifiably claim to explain China, even when basing their writings on a single discipline, as if they are knowledgeable about everything concerning the country. As the saying goes, “No ant can see the pattern of the whole carpet.”

Kuijper has identified a fundamental gap in conventional country studies. If you study a country (part) without taking a crude look at the world (whole) and not considering how interaction affects simultaneously the parts and the whole, that is to say, only making conjectures without a testable theory, you are only practicing pseudo-science, not science. For science is more than expressing opinions.

Comprehending the complexity of countries is a monumental contribution to deep thinking about countries as complex and dynamic systems.

In chapters one to seven, the author methodically and relentlessly exposes the enduring confusion, building step-by-step his thesis, examining theories and models, clarifying the concept of country (as distinct form area), showing how cities and countries have much in common, and exploring the scientific and technical feasibility of collaborative country studies.

The author moves essentially from a multi-disciplinary to an inter-disciplinary approach, to the higher order of a trans-disciplinary way of thinking about the development of countries as adaptive complex dynamic systems.

He examines how countries comprise both spontaneous and man-made systems, interacting both exogenously and endogenously (chapter six).

The ancient Chinese recognised that empires rise and fall from both “external invasions and internal corrosion”. Chapter seven delves deeply into the issue how modern scientific tools such as artificial intelligence, big data analysis and computer simulation could aid country studies.

Science fiction assumes that if we put all available information about one subject into a supercomputer, the subject would be replicated as a hologram, thus helping us predict its behavior.

Whether we have sufficient information and computing power is only a matter of political will and imagination.

Kuijper uses the example of networked digital libraries to substantiate his view that the study of a country could be greatly improved by deploying electronically available information about countries and regions.

Having conceptualised the model for studying countries, Kuijper examines its profound implications for higher education, arguing for “connecting the dots” (chapter eight).

He is most original when he argues that ancient Greek and Chinese thought are alike in thinking about the organic whole, whereas the specialisation of Western science caused the divergence between Western and Chinese ways of research.

The modern university, originally created to truly educate (bring up children) and spiritually elevate, became more and more specialised in less and less, making graduates complexity-illiterate.

Students do not learn to connect the dots, to see the whole. The author argues for tearing down intellectual walls and mental silos to see the grand order of man and nature.

Since each and every country has emergent properties irreducible to the properties of its constituent parts, we have to make use of the science of complex (not: complicated) and dynamic (not: linearly changing) systems in order to really comprehend the country.

An example of not connecting the dots is the fact that it took years for development economists to realise that lifting a country out of poverty involves more than economic factors.

Similarly, ecologists took decades to realise that more scientific data on global warming is not going to change policy when economists (influencing the policymakers) habitually assume that markets can solve the problem of global warming in total defiance of the fact that it will take a combination of state and market to change human behaviour.

I consider Kuijper’s discussion of reductionism versus holism (Chapter nine) a huge contribution to moving beyond the quagmire of Western exclusive and antithetical versus Chinese inclusive and correlative thinking.

The reduction to atomistic parts of free individuals creates blinkers. Western scientists draw ever more distinctions, but tend to miss the whole (from which they are apart and of which they are a part) and how the whole changes with the parts.

The whole is not a matter of either – or but of both – and, meaning that reductionism and holism are complementary rather than contradictory to each other.

The book is the amazing achievement of an independent, determined scholar reading thoroughly in depth to find out that we need complexity thinking to understand complex phenomena, resisting the ingrained habit of simplistic reductionism, the default way of human understanding.

It took at least four centuries to convince doctors to give up the idea of blood-letting as a solution to sickness.

So, it is not surprising that pseudo-scientists still think that they can pass as country experts without the help of many collaborating disciplinary-experts, using big data analytical tools.

Kuijper helps us navigate this complex subject by using a short abstract for each chapter, backed by key references. General conclusions are drawn in chapter 10. He then draws his very practical and very useful recommendations with the last chapter distilling his key insights.

This is a wonderful book, not just for sinologists, but for all who consider themselves to be country experts. It gives insight into the question of how we have got ourselves in a terrible mess over the current geopolitical path to conflict.

This book speaks truth to power, but whether those in power will listen, is the big and urgent question to which there seems to be no simple, straight answer.

Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective. The views expressed here are the writer’s own. 

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China’s search for technological mastery will succeed because it is essentially replicating the actual history of the economi...

Friday, May 20, 2022

US cannot stop China’s hi-tech rise

China’s search for technological mastery will succeed because it is essentially replicating the actual history of the economics and policies that led the United States to technological dominance, rather than the ideological history of what many Americans believe lies behind their success

For years, American policymakers and pundits have believed China’s search for technological mastery or supremacy is doomed to fail or at least be consigned forever to mediocrity and also-ran status. This belief lies behind the strategy, first put forward by the Donald Trump administration, and now followed by Joe Biden’s White House, to restrict or ban the transfer of crucial technologies, notably the most advanced semiconductors and their production methods.

And yet, paradoxically, China is bound to succeed, despite the inevitable hiccups and setbacks, because it is essentially replicating the actual history of the economics and policies that led the United States to technological dominance, rather than the ideological history of what many Americans believe lies behind their success.

They have applied their own ideological models to predict China’s supposedly “inevitable” failure, instead of using their own actual history of American technology and science, and economic policy, to analyse China’s development and acquisition of key technologies in the 21st century.

This is perhaps not surprising. Rich, powerful and successful people usually tell a different story about how they get to where they are to what actually happened to them. It’s human nature.

China’s Great Firewall

It’s generally believed that free enterprise is the necessary and sufficient condition for hi-tech industries. This means: the free flow of information and talent; open market; no or minimal government intervention, also called deregulation; and intellectual property rights protection. It’s believed only the market can choose winners and eliminate the losers, and that any state attempt to choose “national champions” is bound to fail and to be wasteful.

China’s so-called Great Firewall of the internet stands as both an actual barrier and a potent symbol that is antithetical to all those fundamental neoliberal assumptions, which, granted, are being increasingly challenged and even undermined, even among some US professional economists and historians. However, if you believe in all those assumptions, you of course will logically argue that China is bound to fail. But is it?

Let’s consider the historical reference: the Great Wall of China. It has been alternately argued that it was built to resist foreign invaders, and/or to keep in the domestic population. Either way, it was too porous to be truly effective.

A piece of Web3 tech helps banned books through the Great Firewall’s cracks 16 Apr 2022

The same argument has often been made about the ineffectiveness and absurdity of the Great Firewall. Many Chinese households can just get a VPN and then can pretty much access whatever they want from outside China. Yet, as it turns out, porousness or partial online filter and censorship, has been a godsend for Beijing’s industrial policy for hi-tech development. This is no doubt an unintended consequence, but once it has been realised, its value is deeply appreciated by the authorities. Incidentally, that’s why officials tolerate the widespread use of VPNs, despite occasional and ineffective crackdowns.

In China, for people who have the know-how, education or mere curiosity, they can easily bypass the Great Firewall for information to start a business, launch a research project or steal a foreign design. These are the people you need to be in hi-tech industries. Yet, for the vast majority of Chinese, access to contents outside China is still restricted.

China also restricts foreign business and informational access. It has banned such companies as Google, Facebook and Twitter. But of course, it welcomes companies such as Apple, Starbucks and Wall Street banks.

The Great Firewall serves as the online market barrier to foreign entry, or the internet moat to protect infant industries from foreign competition or business invasion; again, one of two functions of the ancient Great Wall.

Intellectual property theft

No one would argue intellectual property theft or industrial espionage is essential to the economic development of a country. However, many economic historians have pointed out that whether it was the rise of Elizabethan England, 19th century America, modern Japan and South Korea, or contemporary China, intellectual property theft and/or industrial espionage played a key role in their economic rise; and state industrial policy as well.

But a successful country doesn’t steal forever. Once it reaches a certain critical stage of hi-tech development, when it has amassed the talent, resources and facilities, it starts to innovate. Then, it starts developing and protecting its own intellectual property regime to prevent others from stealing -and of course, to complain about theft.

That’s the stage China is entering. According to the China National Intellectual Property Administration last month, 696,000 invention patents were authorised in 2021, an average of 7.5 of high-value patents per 10,000, or nearly double the ratio for 2017. Whether those patents were really as useful or original as they claimed is not the issue here, but rather that they show Chinese authorities are committed to intellectual property protection and building up a viable patent regime.

But, besides the obvious racism about the lack of Asian originality, the neoliberal set of assumptions that I referred to above tend to reinforce the idea that China’s political and economic systems can’t innovate and so must go on stealing. That is also related to what American historian Richard Hofstadter has called “the paranoid style” in US politics. Its most infamous manifestation was the anti-communist McCarthyism. Its most recent example is the FBI’s China Initiative, which targeted ethnic Chinese researchers, especially those in US universities.

China’s chip output shrinks as Covid-19 lockdowns paralyse industries 16 May 2022

The Silicon Valley folklore is that of a lone maverick who has a great idea and pushes it to fruition, and in the process, creates a multibillion-dollar industry. That cannot be further from the assumption behind Japanese-Korean-Chinese state industrial policy, according to which innovation is a collective enterprise, not one of individual genius or charisma. It’s all about the sustained commitment of public resources and collective talent between the state and the private sector.

It’s a common criticism that such a policy is wasteful; it often backs the wrong technologies and industries. That’s true. However, the Silicon Valley model is also prone to periodic market euphoria, mania, panic and crashes, from the dotcom implosion to the current ongoing crypto-crashes. I will leave it to economic historians and econometricians to determine whether the state or non-state model is more wasteful or destructive.


Belatedly, the Biden administration is slowly realising that whether it’s containment against China or competition with it, the horse has bolted out of the barn already. That is why despite its hostile rhetoric, it has no coherent policy on how to deter or delay China’s technological drive for mastery or supremacy. This conflict cuts to the very ideological self-beliefs of the two countries. Only time will tell how it will turn out.

However, restricting or banning technological transfer will not work. The great British historian Arnold Toynbee famously wrote that it was usually countries or civilisations confronted with great or even mortal challenges that prevailed and prospered in history, not those that were well-endowed with rich resources. Denying China access to vital technologies at this late stage will simply force it to develop its own domestic capabilities. That won’t make it weaker, only stronger and more self-reliant.

For years, American policymakers and pundits have believed China’s search for technological mastery or supremacy is doomed to fail or at least be consigned forever to mediocrity and also-ran status. This belief lies behind the strategy, first put forward by the Donald Trump administration, and now followed by Joe Biden’s White House, to restrict or ban the transfer of crucial technologies, notably the most advanced semiconductors and their production methods.

And yet, paradoxically, China is bound to succeed, despite the inevitable hiccups and setbacks, because it is essentially replicating the actual history of the economics and policies that led the United States to technological dominance, rather than the ideological history of what many Americans believe lies behind their success.

They have applied their own ideological models to predict China’s supposedly “inevitable” failure, instead of using their own actual history of American technology and science, and economic policy, to analyse China’s development and acquisition of key technologies in the 21st century. 

 US cannot stop China's hi-tech rise | South China Morning Post

Alex Lo

Alex Lo

Alex Lo has been a Post columnist since 2012, covering major issues affecting Hong Kong and the rest of China. A journalist for 25 years, he has worked for various publications in Hong Kong and Toronto as a news reporter and editor. He has also lectured in journalism at the University of Hong Kong.

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