Sunday, 31 July 2016

A-G should not lead both services, it's long overdue!

Otherwise, it will create a negative perception of judiciary's independence, says CJ



https://youtu.be/rKJy0vpNVlA

KUALA LUMPUR: The Attorney-General must stop leading the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to ensure that the judiciary can be seen as a truly independent body, says the Chief Justice.

The head of the judiciary, Tun Arifin Zakaria, said that it would be a conflict of interest for the A-G to lead both services as he was a member of the Executive, when judicial officers comes under the judiciary.

In a democracy, the three branches of Government – the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary – must remain independent of each other.

“If the A-G continues to lead both services, I worry it would create a negative perception of the judiciary’s independence, an opinion many parties share,” said Arifin in a speech at the Judicial Officers Conference here yesterday.

The Chief Justice’s call is in line with the universal concept of judicial independence, whereby the courts should not be subject to undue influence from other branches of the Government or persons with partisan interests.

In an immediate reaction, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali confirmed that the A-G’s Chambers (AGC) had received the proposal and was still studying it from the point of view of the Constitution and from a historic perspective.

“We will come up with the AGC’s views and discuss it at our next Legal and Judicial Service Commission’s meeting before the end of the year,” he told The Star.

Currently, the Judicial and Legal Service Commission managed the careers – from appointing, promoting, transferring and disciplining – of its members, which includes judicial officers like Sessions Court judges and magistrates, and legal officers like deputy public prosecutors and senior federal counsels.

Later, during a press conference, Arifin said people who disagreed with a judgment might say the magistrates were toeing the line with the A-G’s Chambers as they were effectively the same body.

“Imagine if a senior officer from the AGC or even the A-G himself was prosecuting. Lagi menggeletar (they’ll be even more nervous) to handle the case,” he said.

Arifin said Public Service Circular 6/2010 which made the A-G the chief of the judicial service was a contradiction to an existing decision by the Federal Court and no longer relevant

He pointed out that when the Commission was formed, the two groups were placed together as there were only a few hundred staff members. However, there were now 636 employees in the legal service and 4,787 serving in the judicial service as of April this year.

“The time has come for the judicial service to be lead by an someone from within its ranks,” he said, adding that such a candidate would be better equipped to run the service.

Arifin suggested that the Chief Court Registrar lead the judicial service while the Attorney-General lead the legal service.

The separation would also stop judicial officers and legal officers from being transferred between departments, unless the move is approved in writing by their chiefs.

However, Arifin said transfers should still be allowed, with due process, to ensure staff get experience as both judges and prosecutors.

Chief Registrar Datin Latifah Mohd Tahar, who also attended the conference, told reporters the paper on the proposal had been submitted to the Commission and the matter could be decided on within the year.

In 2006, the then Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim said the Judiciary intended to propose to the Government to abolish the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.

He added that magistrates and Sessions Court judges should be absorbed into the judiciary, fearing that there would be interference by “unseen hands” if they remain as civil servants.

by Chelsea L.Y. Ng and Qishin Tariq The Star/Asia News Network


It’s about time, says thelegal fraternity of proposal




PETALING JAYA: The legal fraternity applauded the Chief Justice’s proposal for greater separation between judicial and legal services, calling it long overdue.

Former Court of Appeals Justice Mah Weng Kwai (pic) said the proposal finally presented a clear demarcation between the judicial and legal services.

“It has been a combined service for the longest time, since before I joined the service in 1973,” said Mah, who started his career as a magistrate before becoming a deputy public prosecutor and then senior federal counsel.

Responding to the Chief Justice’s suggestion that officers would still be allowed to be transferred between the services, Mah said it should be taken one step further with both services completely independent and non-transferable.

Former magistrate Akbardin Abdul Kader said, if implemented, the move would ensure former DPPs were not biased when they were elevated to the bench.

“Hence, they will remain as DPPs until they retire and so the same for judicial officers,” he said.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said the Chief Justice’s concerns were valid and deserved due consideration.

He said the fact the Attorney-General was a member of the commission could open the judiciary to questions in any decision in favour of the prosecution.

He noted that the proposal would appear to require a constitutional amendment that would place Sessions Court judges and magistrates under the sole jurisdiction of the judiciary, and no longer under the Commission.

“This strengthens the concept of separation of powers that vests judicial power in the judiciary and requires the exercise of those powers without any influence by the other arms of Government,” he said, adding that the removal of any conflict of interest would inspire more confidence in the decisions of Sessions Court judges and magistrates.

Former Malaysian Bar president Yeo Yang Poh said the Bar had called for the change for decades, adding that from time to time, a Chief Justice of the day would “warm up” to the idea.

In 2006, when Yeo was serving as president, Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim made a similar call for a separation of the judiciary from the commission.

Yeo added that it was the first time he had heard of a proposal being handed to the commission by the Chief Registrar.

He said having the judicial and legal services combined was not desirable for two reasons: in practical terms, not every one could be fearless; while in theory, even if all legal officers could overcome the pressure, there would still be the perception of impartiality.

“You can’t blame an observer that perceives something is not quite right. A judge could say they would remain impartial even if judging their father; but does it look right?” he asked.

A former officer from the Judicial And Legal Services, who declined to be named, said the risk of transfers were a common reality.

“We used to threaten judges up to the Sessions Court (level), if they misbehave, we will get them transferred as DPPs. A few of them were actually transferred,” he said.

He said though the “threats” were in jest, it shocked him that they were sometimes really carried out, adding that not all moves were sinister, as it was occasionally meant as a lesson for subordinate courts which had made errant judgments.

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

'Paper cat' Australia will learn its lesson


Around the announcement of the arbitration tribunal over the South China Sea, Australia was one of the most delirious countries. Canberra immediately supported the arbitration result and claimed China "must" abide by it, and also signed a joint declaration with the US and Japan. Australia has inked a free trade agreement with China, its biggest trading partner, which makes its move of disturbing the South China Sea waters surprising to many.


Australia is a unique country with an inglorious history. It was at first an offshore prison of the UK and then became its colony, a source of raw materials, overseas market and land of investment. This country was established through uncivilized means, in a process filled with the tears of the aboriginals.

Even with a scarce population and vast land, Australia has disputes with other countries over territory. It claims nearly 5.9 million square meters of land in the Antarctic, accounting for 42 percent of the continent. In order to back its territorial claims, Australia even brought up the activities of the British in the Antarctic as evidence.

Since The Antarctic Treaty was signed, all territorial claims over the continent were suspended. Canberra then raised another claims to demand the Antarctic continental shelf. It cited Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to avoid a demand by arbitration by others.

Both historical rights and the exemption of arbitration as ruled in Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea were denied by the arbitration tribunal. Australia showed blunt double standards as if no one had a memory of what it did and said over the Antarctic.

Australia calls itself a principled country, while its utilitarianism has been sizzling. It lauds Sino-Australian relations when China's economic support is needed, but when it needs to please Washington, it demonstrates willingness of doing anything in a show of allegiance.

Analysts say that besides trying to please the US, it also intends to suppress China so as to gain a bargaining chip for economic interests. China must take revenge and let it know it's wrong. Australia's power means nothing compared to the security of China. If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.

Australia is not even a "paper tiger," it's only a "paper cat" at best. At a time when its former caretaker country the UK is dedicated to developing relations with China, and almost the whole of Europe takes a neutral position, Australia has unexpectedly made itself a pioneer of hurting China's interest with a fiercer attitude than countries directly involved in the South China Sea dispute. But this paper cat won't last. - Global Times

Related posts:

Curtain falls on S.China Sea arbitration farce; Tribunal manipulators will be revealed
  Foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China at the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. — VNA/VNS

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Permanent Court of Arbitration clarifies role in South China Sea case THE HAGUE, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Permanent Court of Arbitration ... 

国际法院(ICJ)在此希望媒体和公众注意,南海仲裁案(菲律宾共和国与中华人民共和国)裁决结果由常设仲裁法院(PCA)提供秘书服务下的一个特别仲裁庭做出。相关信息请访问PCA网站( www.pca-cpa.org )。国际法院作为完全不同的另一机构,至始至终未曾参与该案...

Friday, 29 July 2016

Swiber to wind up, biggest Singapore casulty of oil slump; banks hit with crushing debts

Swiber Holdings

SINGAPORE - Singapore oil field services firm Swiber Holdings Ltd filed an application to wind up the company and said a Singapore court had appointed provisional liquidators, making it the biggest local name to fall victim to the slump in oil prices.

In a statement to the Singapore Exchange, Swiber said the hearing to wind-up the company has been set for August 19. Swiber, which operates a fleet of 51 vessels, did give any specific reason for the move but said it was facing letters of demand for US$25.9 million (S$34.9 million) and had warned earlier this month of delays in raising US$200 million in preference shares.


Local oilfield services companies have been burdened by weak oil prices, which have strained their liquidity, with charter rates tumbling and clients either delaying or cancelling projects. "If highly leveraged offshore and marine companies are unable to raise capital from equity markets, then they will be left with very little other options other than to file for liquidation or for judicial management," said Joel Ng, an analyst at KGI Fraser Securities.

Over the next year-and-a-half, bonds totalling nearly S$1.2 billion from energy and offshore marine issuers in Singapore will mature, with S$615 million due over the next five months, according to IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

Another firm, Technics Oil & Gas Ltd, and its unit were placed under judicial management this month.

Investors had turned more positive on Swiber after it redeemed two bonds in June and July totalling S$205 million.

Swiber said this month a preference share sale agreement for US$200 million had been delayed and that it was seeking legal advice. But a flood of letters of demand, including statutory demands, had flowed in since Monday, claiming a total US$25.9 million, as of July 26, adding more pressure on the company.

Swiber said some of its executive directors, including its chief financial officer, had resigned.

From just 10 vessels in 2006, Swiber has expanded to own and operate a fleet comprising 38 offshore vessels and 13 construction vessels. It has more than 2,700 employees across Southeast Asia and other countries, according to its website.

Swiber's longest dated bond due 2018 started falling sharply in mid-March. The provisional liquidators of the company, which has a market value of S$50 million, have asked for trading in Swiber's shares to be suspended.

The High Court of Singapore appointed KordaMentha Pte Ltd's Cameron Lindsay Duncan and Muk Siew Peng as the joint and several provisional liquidators of the company.

Sources: Reuters

Related: 

Swiber to wind up, biggest Singapore casualty of oil slump | Reuters

Private bank clients may lose big amid Singapore's oil and gas credit woes


Slump in oil prices affects S’pore lenders


Feeling the heat: OCBC’s total oil and gas exposure was US9.32bil, nearly half of which to the offshore oil services segment. – Reuters

Banks hit by poor demand for loans from oil and gas sector


SINGAPORE: Two of Singapore’s top banks flagged mounting concerns about loans to the oil and gas sector, on the same day that a prominent local oilfield services firm announced it was winding up, under the weight of crushing debt.

The dour outlook from Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank, Singapore’s second- and third-largest lenders by assets, respectively, came as Swiber Holdings said it had filed for liquidation, making it the biggest local name to fall victim to the slump in oil prices.

OCBC and UOB, along with Singapore’s No.1 lender DBS Group Holdings, have long maintained prudent lending standards and adequate capital levels to become some of the safest banks in the world.

But oil’s 60% slump over the past two years is beginning to impact them, as the lenders’ main activity is centred on South-East Asia, a region for which oil and gas is a key industry. Banks are being hit by both poor demand for loans from the sector and by more loans turning sour.

“The loan demand is very weak,” OCBC CEO Samuel Tsien told a quarterly earnings briefing, adding that the oil and gas services sector continues to be under pressure.

“Our distressed indicators for this portfolio continue to deepen, but have not broadened,” Tsien said.

Over the next year-and-a-half, bonds totalling nearly S$1.2bil (US$881mil) from energy and offshore marine issuers in Singapore will mature, with S$615mil due just over the next five months, according to IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

OCBC’s total oil and gas exposure was S$12.6bil (US$9.32bil), nearly half of which to the offshore oil services segment.

UOB expected that over the next one to two years the key concern for the bank would be companies in the oil and gas sector, its CEO Wee Ee Cheong told a briefing,

OCBC posted a 15% drop in quarterly profit, hit by lower insurance income, though UOB surprised with a 5.1% jump in earnings on higher trading income.

However, net interest income was weak at both banks, which also saw bad-debt provisions climb.

OCBC said its customer loans contracted 2% from a year ago due to lower trade loans and reduced offshore borrowings of Chinese companies due to more favourable onshore borrowing rates in China.

Shares of UOB were down 1.6% in late afternoon trade, while OCBC fell 0.6 percent. Shares of DBS, which will report results on Aug 8, were down 2.6%. – Reuters

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Moneylender, Kandasamy, gunned down in broad daylight in Kuala Lumpur



https://youtu.be/Enj0F4ey1Hs


KUALA LUMPUR: A 43-year-old moneylender was killed after he was shot at some 16 times near Setapak Central here.

The father of three, who was on his way to meet a relative nearby, was driving alone near a mall when four men on two motorcycles approached his car at 3.55pm yesterday.

“They came when the victim’s car was at the traffic lights. One shooter went to the left and another to the right before both opened fire,” City CID chief Senior Asst Comm Rusdi Mohd Isa told a press conference at the Setapak police station yesterday.

SAC Rusdi said that the shooter on the right fired about three to four shots whereas the other fired twelve and the four men fled shortly after.

“Family members of the victim have confirmed his identity,” said SAC Rusdi, adding that the police would withhold his identity from the press for now.

On whether the shooting might have been gang-related, he said that there is a possibility.

“We have early information on his background of being involved in gangs,” said SAC Rusdi.

A post-mortem would be conducted, he said.

Wangsa Maju OCPD Supt Mohamad Roy Suhaimi Sarif asked members of the public who were present at the time of the shooting to come forward to relay any information they might have on the murder.

A video of what appears to be CCTV footage, which depicts the above chain of events, has been circulating on social media. -  The Star/Asia News Network

Moneylender executed at traffic light


Police examine the victim's vehicle with evident bullet holes on the driver's side.

KUALA LUMPUR: A 43-year-old man was killed in a hail of bullets after two gunmen opened fire at a traffic light intersection near the KL Festival City Mall at Setapak Sentral in yet another killing involving firearms in the Klang Valley.

The victim, who was a moneylender and suffered at least 10 gunshots, was driving alone in a heavily-tinted Honda Accord when he was attacked at 3.35pm.

He had stopped at the traffic lights and was on his way to have a drink at the mall nearby when four men on two motorcycles arrived seconds later and pulled over next to his car.

Police said the pillion riders, both who were armed with pistols, got off the motorbikes before each of them went up to the driver's and the front passenger's sides and opened fire, killing the victim on the spot.

The gunmen who are believed to be hired killers fled with their accomplices soon after and investigators believe the attack is linked to a turf war between underworld gangs.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Commissioner Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh said based on the spent 9mm bullet casings found at the scene, the gunmen fired 18 gunshots.

He said investigators have a street close-circuit camera recording which showed the attack taking place.

Police are also checking if the case is linked to another murder case in Jinjang in January where a 41-year-old contractor died of three gunshot wounds to his face and chest during a meeting with two men near a factory.

Meanwhile, a family member of the victim who was interviewed by theSun said the man had been in hiding for several months because he knew that he was wanted by underworld members and that his life was in danger.

The family member, who declined to be identified, said he heard about the news of the shooting when the viral picture of the victim was sent to him via WhatsApp from a friend.

"At first I did not believe that the victim was my relative, he had shaved his head, probably because he's been in hiding," he said.

He said the victim had been involved in underworld activities since he was 25.

By Charles Ramendran and Aiezat Fadzell newsdesk@thesundaily.com


IGP: Setapak killers still in the country


By By Justin Zack The Star/Asia News Network



KUALA LUMPUR: The suspects in Wednesday’s fatal shooting at Se­tapak are still in Malaysia, accor­ding to the Inspector-General of Police.

“We believe that they still are here,” said Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar when met by the media after launching KPD Mart Community at Kolej Unikop here yesterday.

On whether the latest shooting pointed to a trend of using hired killers, Khalid said the police did not see it as such.

“We don’t see this as a trend of (using) hired killers but I do not deny that we have these cases.

“These are not random shootings. All these cases had a reason behind the shootings, including the latest shooting,” he said.

Police, Khalid added, would be taking more steps to “minimise” such incidents.

kanna setapak shooting victim While no arrests have been made yet, the police assure the public that the force “will hunt them down” and that the suspects “cannot run”.

Moneylender V. Kandasamy (pic), 43, was shot dead at a traffic light near Setapak Central when four men on two motorcycles fired a total of 16 shots at him while he was still in his car.

City police chief Comm Datuk Amar Singh, when contacted yes­terday, confirmed that the victim was a member of the “Satu Hati” gang.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Curtain falls on S.China Sea arbitration farce; Tribunal manipulators will be revealed

Foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China at the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. — VNA/VNS

https://youtu.be/i_J3TQKTXcc

The 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Monday issued a joint communiqué, which didn't breathe a word about the South China Sea arbitration, or harbor any overt criticism against China. Although the South China Sea issue was mentioned many times in the communiqué, it only gave a general overview of principles that must be stuck to. Most foreign media view the communiqué as a triumph for China's diplomacy.

On the same day, a joint statement on how to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was issued.

The two statements reflect the consistent stand of ASEAN. Attempts at pressuring China through the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting have failed.

As the first foreign ministers' meeting after the so-called South China Sea arbitration award was issued, the US and Japan hoped to use the meeting in Laos to solicit ASEAN's collective support for the arbitration and impose unprecedented diplomatic pressure on China. But such expectations do not correspond with the realities in East Asia.

Hype was running high among American and Japanese media that only Cambodia was standing in the way of a joint statement that incorporates the South China Sea arbitration, and Laos as the host country didn't voice any firm opposition.

From another perspective, only the Philippines wanted a joint statement with reference to the arbitration, and Vietnam was not so persistent in its demands. Most ASEAN countries have maintained a neutral attitude. They neither want to see a division within the bloc, nor to be dragged into a conflict with China over arbitration.

Manila compromised this time, giving consent to a communiqué without mention of the arbitration. It showed flexibility compared with 2012, when the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting ended with no joint statement because the Philippines' propositions over the South China Sea issue were firmly opposed.

It's in the common interests of China and ASEAN to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. But the US and Japan are willing to see conflicts between China and the Philippines and Vietnam escalate. If the arbitration leads to overall confrontation between ASEAN and China, it will fullfil the desires of the US and Japan.

ASEAN won't be so silly as to head toward a confrontation with China. We have carried out construction activities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, but with our utmost efforts to avoid confrontation.

The possibility of a military solution to the South China Sea dispute has become smaller and smaller. The arbitration has brought about new risks. Instead of a clash between China and the Philippines, or China and Vietnam, there are more worries about conflicts being sparked between China and the US.

Under such conditions, it could never be ASEAN's desire to amplify the negative influences of the arbitration case. Two weeks after the arbitration result was announced, no other countries outside the region but the US, Japan and Australia have voiced support for it. The farce is coming to an end.- Global Times.

Political manipulation behind arbitral tribunal will be revealed



https://youtu.be/tUR7WVsmC7k

Spotlight: Chinese FM calls for end to politicization of South China Sea issue, urges parties to return to negotiations

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that the political manipulation behind the arbitral tribunal will be revealed, in response to the comments made by some foreign ministers on the South China Sea arbitration case.

Wang expounded on China's position when attending the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in the Lao capital Vientiane.

Wang said China has not participated in the arbitration case and will not accept the so-called ruling, a position that China has made clear since day one and is supported by strong legal basis.

By adopting this position, China is safeguarding the sanctity and impartiality of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said the Chinese foreign minister.

First, the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government violated the principle of having the consent of concerned parties as the basis of arbitration and failed to meet the prerequisite of conducting full exchange of views beforehand, thus lacking the legal conditions to be initiated.

What the former Philippine government had done also abandoned bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines and violated Article 4 of the Declaration on Conducts of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) as well as the principle of estoppel prescribed in international law, according to Wang.

Second, he said, the subject matters of the arbitration, however packaged, in fact directly concern territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation which are beyond the scope of the UNCLOS and the jurisdiction of the ad hoc tribunal. It is a typical act of overstepping the power and ultra vires as well as the abuse of dispute arbitration mechanism.

Wang said by citing a prominent legal expert from Europe that the arbitration case undoubtedly touches upon territorial sovereignty which is not governed by the UNCLOS. The tribunal's practice of separating territorial sovereignty dispute with the status of islands and reefs is unseen in international law, which is like "putting the cart before the horse."

Third, the ruling of the ad hoc tribunal is full of obvious mistakes, Wang said. It blatantly uses its self-invented rules to negate and deprive the lawful and legitimate territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests of parties concerned. In particular, it says that Taiping Dao, the largest island in the Nansha Islands with an area of 500,000 square meters, is a rock and has no relevant maritime rights.

If such a judgment can legally stand, the sea map of the world will need to be redrawn, Wang said.

Wang stressed that this ruling runs counter to the spirit of international rule of law as well as the principle and spirit of the UNCLOS.

"This arbitration is imbued with question marks and fallacies in terms of procedure, legal application, fact finding and evidence gathering," he said.

The so-called ruling is illegal in three aspects: the initiation of the arbitration is illegal, the set-up of the tribunal is illegal, and the result of the arbitration is illegal. Therefore, China's stance is fully legitimate which serves the purpose of upholding international equity and justice and regional peace and stability, Wang said.

The Chinese foreign minister said more and more countries have come to see the nature and danger of the arbitration case, and understand and acknowledge China's stance to resolve disputes through direct negotiation and consultation, calling for respect to the rights of sovereign states to independently choose dispute settlement means including respecting the declaration on optional exceptions made under Article 298 of the UNCLOS.

There are also more and more legal experts around the world questioning the legality of the arbitration case and the fairness of the ruling, Wang said, noting that the illegal nature of the so-called South China Sea arbitration case and the political manipulation hidden behind the ad hoc arbitral tribunal will be further revealed. - Global Times

Related: 

JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE 49th ASEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS' MEETING VIENTIANE, 24 JULY 2016 “TURNING ...

China, US vow to boost trust

https://youtu.be/QWWBD8osZKQ


US agrees it's time to 'turn the page' on South China Sea

US Secretary of State John Kerry says in Laos that he will encourage Manila to pursue dialogue and negotiation with Beijing on the issue.


China-ASEAN exchanges go beyond the arbitration

The communiqué issued after the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Laos, shows the two sides want to work together for regional stability and prosperity.



 South China Sea arbitration turned a blind eye to UNCLOS, exceeded own competence and exposed tribunal’s ignorance
By now it’s a well-known fact that the South China Sea arbitration was unilaterally initiated by the[Read it]

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Tech Dome Penang Official Opening



https://youtu.be/NhYGqyW9Ke8
https://youtu.be/Imaf7Ibb5nQ

https://youtu.be/RH-IHut4S88




https://youtu.be/E_XrNA4KS54

The official opening of TECH DOME PENANG on July 16 marks the culmination of an arduous and challenging 5-year journey to set up the state’s very first Science Discovery Centre..

TECH DOME PENANG has been modelled after the San Jose Tech Centre whereby the government provided the building and funds are raised from the corporate sector and the public. The Penang State Government has, however, taken this a step further by not only providing the use of the iconic Komtar Geodesic Dome to house the facility but also provided funding of RM5.15 million (through the Penang Development Corporation) to kick-start the project.

When the present State Government assumed office in 2008, it realizes the paramount need to not only maintain Penang’s position and status as a globally-renowned centre of technological excellence but with a mission to take it to the next level and beyond through innovation, research and development.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was instrumental in providing the impetus and the push as he realized that the mission cannot be achieved merely through just the vision and support of the State Government and industry players but would require a very essential component which is a highly skilled and knowledgeable human capital. After all, human talent is the new oil of the 21st century and building human talent requires a PPP model of Public Private Partnership.

There has been increasing concerns about the declining interests in the pursuit of studies and also the continuous decline in standards of English, Mathematics and Science among students below 15 years of age as evidenced through studies conducted under the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In their latest ranking released for 2015, Malaysia was ranked a lowly 52 out of 76 countries assessed, well below regional powerhouses like Singapore (1st), Hong Kong (2nd), South Korea (3rd), Taiwan and Japan (joint 4th). What was alarming was that even a comparatively new player like Vietnam was ranked 12th. If Malaysia cannot even surpass Vietnam, how then can we be a manufacturing powerhouse. The urgency to return Penang's position as the Centre of Excellence (COE) for Science and Technology became critical.

Tech Dome Penang will showcase more than 120 international-standard exhibits targeted at sparking the interests of the younger generation to the exciting world of Science and Technology and providing the catalyst to inspire them to pursue studies and careers in these fields. The exhibits are laid out in 6 main galleries, namely Robotics, Information Technology, Forces & Motion, Electromagnetism, Life Tech and Optics. In addition, there is a Children’s Exploration Zone for pre-schoolers and also an Observatory housing the largest telescope in Penang.

The majority of the exhibits were designed and supplied by exhibits design fabricators from New Zealand, Germany and USA. The centre will also showcase exhibits from local manufacturing corporations and other locally-based Multi-National Corporations.

Besides showcasing exhibits, Tech Dome Penang will also house classrooms and a laboratory to conduct science classes, workshops and school holiday camps for students.

Industry players may also find Tech Dome Penang a suitable venue for carrying out their team-building programmes as a number of the exhibits are suitable for such purposes. There is also additional floor space in the annex for companies to hold public exhibitions to showcase their technology and products or to even hold simultaneous walk-in interviews.

There are also CSR opportunities for companies to sponsor visits by children from rural-based schools and also the under-privileged.

Entry charges for those with MyKad are RM12 for children from 5 years to below 12 years, RM16 for children with student cards, and RM20 for adults. Children below 5 years enter free while senior citizens pay RM12.

Tech Dome will be open daily from 10am – 6pm except for Tuesdays (unless Public Holidays) when it will be closed.

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The Age of Uncertainty

We are entering the age of dealing with unknown unknowns – as Brexit and Turkey’s failed coup show


The dark future of Europe

THE Age of Uncertainty is a book and BBC series by the late Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, produced in 1977, about how we have moved from the age of certainty in 19th century economic thought to a present that is full of unknowns.

I still remember asking my economics professor what he thought of Galbraith, one of the most widely read economists and social commentator of his time. His answer was that Galbraith’s version of economics was too eclectic and wide-ranging. It was not where mainstream economics – pumped up by the promise of quantitative models and mathematics – was going.

Forty years later, it is likely that Galbraith’s vision of the future was more prescient than that of Milton Friedman, the leading light of free market economics – which promised more than it could deliver. The utopia of free markets, where rational man would deliver the most efficient public good from individual greed turned out to be exactly the opposite – the greatest social inequities with grave uncertainties of the future. Galbraith said, “wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding”. Perhaps he meant that poverty and necessity was the driver of change, if not of revolution.

The economics profession was always slightly confused over the difference between risk and uncertainty, as if the former included the latter. The economist Frank Knight (they don’t make economists like that anymore) clarified the difference as follows – risk is measurable and uncertainty is not. Quantitative economists then defined risk as measurable volatility – the amount that a variable like price fluctuated around its historical average.

The bell-shaped statistical curve that forms the conventional risk model used widely in economics assumes that there is 95% probability that fluctuations of price would be two standard deviations from the average or mean.

For non-technically minded, a standard deviation is a measure of the variance or dispersion around the mean, meaning that a “normal” fluctuation would be less than two; so if the standard deviation is say 5%, we would not expect more than 10% price fluctuation 95% of the time.


Events like Brexit shock us because the event gave rise to huge uncertainties over the future. Most experts did not expect Brexit – the variance was more than the normal. It was a reversal of a British decision to join the European Union, a five or more standard deviation event – in which the decision is a 180 degree turn. The conventional risk management models, which are essentially linear models that say that going forward or sequentially, the projected risk is up or down, simply did not factor in a reversal of decision.

In other words, we have moved from an age of risk to an age of uncertainty – where we are dealing with unknown unknowns. There are of course different categories of unknowns – known unknowns (things that we know that we do not know), calculable unknowns (which we can estimate or know something about through Big Data) and the last, we simply do not know what we may never know.

Big Data is the fashionable phrase for churning lots of data to find out where there are correlations. The cost of big computing power is coming down but you would still have to have big databases to access that information or prediction. Most individuals like you and me would simply have to use our instincts or rely on experts to make that prediction or decision. Brexit told us that many experts are simply wrong. Experts are those who can convincingly explain why they are wrong, but they may not be better in predicting the future than monkeys throwing darts.

Five factors

There are five current factors that add up to considerable uncertainty – geopolitics, climate change, technology, unconventional monetary policy and creative destruction.

First, Brexit and the Turkish coup are geo-political events that change the course of history. In its latest forecasts on the world economy, the IMF has called Brexit “the spanner in the works” that may slow growth further. But Brexit was a decision made because the British are concerned more about immigration than nickels and dimes from Brussels. This is connected to the second factor, climate change.


Global warming is the second major unknown, because we are already feeling the impact of warmer weather, unpredictable storms and droughts. Historically, dynastic collapses have been associated with major climate change, such as the droughts that caused the disappearance of the Angkor Wat and Mayan cultures. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and all are failing states because they are water-stressed. If North Africa and the Middle East continue to face major water-stress and social upheaval, expect more than 1 million refugees to flood northwards to Europe where it is cooller and welfare benefits are better.

The third disruptor is technology, which brings wondrous new inventions like bio-technology, Internet and robotics, but also concerns such as loss of jobs and genetic accidents.

Fourthly, unconventional monetary policy has already breached the theoretical boundaries of negative interest rates, where no one, least of all the central bankers that push on this piece of string, fully appreciate how negative interest rates is destroying the business model of finance, from banks to asset managers.

Last but not least, the Austrian economist Schumpeter lauded innovation and entrepreneurship as the engine of capitalism, through what he called creative destruction. We all support innovation, but change always bring about losses to the status quo. Technology disrupts traditional industries, and those disappearing industries will create loss in jobs, large non-performing loans and assets that will have no value.

Change is not always a zero-sum game, where one person’s gain is another’s loss. It is good when it is a win-win game; but with lack of leadership, it can easily deteriorate into a lose-lose game. That is the scary side of unknown unknowns.

I shall elaborate on how ancient Asians coped with change in the next article.

By Tan Sri Andrew Sheng

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.


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Friday, 22 July 2016

South Koreans protest US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile deployment


https://youtu.be/knkmDTsGTYA
  • South Koreans protest US missile deployment
    People from Seongju county hold the national flags of South Korea and banners to protest against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), during a rally in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on July 21, 2016. More than 2,000 people from Seongju county, where one THAAD battery will be deployed, gathered at a square in Seoul for a rally on Thursday, to protest against the deployment of THAAD. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)

    South Koreans protest US missile deployment

  • South Koreans protest US missile deployment. Thousands of South Koreans from Seongju county gathered in Seoul to protest against the government’s decision to deploy a U.S.-built THAAD missile defense unit in their home town. People from Seongju county hold the national flags of South Korea and banners...

"Stop the deployment! NO THAAD! NO THAAD! NO THAAD!" Protesters said.

"The way that the government made the decision completely on their own, without talking to residents first, is completely wrong. We are here to express the people's anger living in Seongju," Protest organiser Seok Hyeon-Cheol said.

"The missile deployment site is right in the middle of a city that has around 20,000 people. I can see it when I open the door of my house, the door of my house! And I can see it from my living room. That is why we strongly oppose the THAAD deployment. We oppose it for our children, and their children -- for the future of our county, for our health, and our right to live," Protester form Seongju County Kim An-Su said.

The protest follows a raucous standoff last week between residents and the country's prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, who was pelted with eggs and plastic bottles and trapped inside a bus for several hours when he visited the county to explain his decision to deploy the missile system there.

South Korea's President Park Geun Hye has called for people to support the government's plans. She said the move was "inevitable" because of a growing threat from the DPRK. South Korea's defense ministry says the country's THAAD missile system will become operational before the end of 2017.


A senior official of Seongju county (2nd L, front) attends a rally to protest against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on July 21, 2016. More than 2,000 people from Seongju county, where one THAAD battery will be deployed, gathered at a square in Seoul for a rally on Thursday, to protest against the deployment of THAAD. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)

People from Seongju county hold the national flags of South Korea and banners to protest against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), during a rally in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on July 21, 2016.


People from Seongju county hold the national flags of South Korea and banners to protest against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), during a rally in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on July 21, 2016. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)


People from Seongju county hold banners to protest against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), during a rally in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on July 21, 2016. More than 2,000 people from Seongju county, where one THAAD battery will be deployed, gathered at a square in Seoul for a rally on Thursday, to protest against the deployment of THAAD. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)

HAAD poses real threat to security of China


https://youtu.be/rhlxr6BRv4E

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the US Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. [Photo/Agencies]

What has historically been ours is ours. Even if others say it is not. That is why, annoying as it is, the Philippines-initiated South China Sea arbitration is actually not worth the limelight it is being given.

It is time for Beijing to get down to real, serious business. It has bigger issues to attend to, the most imperative of which is the anti-missile system being deployed on its doorsteps. Because, while it was coping with the worthless arbitral award from The Hague, Washington and Seoul finalized their plan for the deployment of the US' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system in the Republic of Korea.

The arbitral ruling, which is null and non-executable, will have little effect on China's interests and security in the South China Sea. But not THAAD, which is a clear, present, substantive threat to China's security interests.

The installment of the US system in the ROK should be of far greater concern to Beijing, and warrants a far stronger reaction. Or should we say retaliation? The ROK has legitimate security concerns, especially with Pyongyang constantly threatening nuclear bombing. With that in mind, Beijing has been adamant about de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and worked closely with Seoul and Washington in implementing and upgrading United Nations sanctions, and appealed tirelessly for restarting the Six-Party Talks.

But Seoul has brushed aside Beijing's security interests while pursuing those of its own.

Washington and Seoul did claim that THAAD would be focused "solely" on nuclear/missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and would not be directed toward any third-party nation. But THAAD far exceeds such a need. Besides the far more credible threat from Pyongyang's artillery, short-range and lower-altitude missiles is simply beyond the system's reach.

While it will deliver a limited security guarantee to the ROK, THAAD's X-band radar will substantially compromise the security interests of China and Russia, no matter how the United States shrouds its purpose.

Yet having made such a beggar-thy-neighbor choice, Seoul has in effect turned its back on China. By hosting THAAD, it has presented itself as Washington's cat's-paw in the latter's strategic containment of China. All rhetoric about friendship is meaningless lip service with the deployment of THAAD.

Beijing must review and readjust its Korean Peninsula strategies in accordance with the latest threat from the peninsula, including its ROK policies.

That does not mean forsaking its commitment to de-nuclearization, or UN resolutions. But Beijing must concentrate more on safeguarding its own interests, both immediate and long-term.

Source: China Daily Updated: 2016-07-15

China can counter THAAD deployment


https://youtu.be/QTVgIJT1DaY

The US and South Korea on Friday announced their decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system on the Korean Peninsula.

Apart from monitoring missiles from North Korea, THAAD could expand South Korea's surveillance range to China and Russia and pose serious threat to the two countries.

Though South Korea claims it can reduce the surveillance range, the country cannot make the call as the system will be controlled by US forces in South Korea, and such cheap promises mean nothing in international politics.

We recommend China to take the following countermeasures.

China should cut off economic ties with companies involved with the system and ban their products from entering the Chinese market.

It could also implement sanctions on politicians who advocated the deployment, ban their entry into China as well as their family business. In addition, the Chinese military could come up with a solution that minimizes the threat posed by the system, such as technical disturbances and targeting missiles toward the THAAD system.

Meanwhile, China should also re-evaluate the long-term impact in Northeast Asia of the sanctions on North Korea, concerning the link between the sanctions and the imbalance after the THAAD system is deployed.

China can also consider the possibility of joint actions with Russia with countermeasures.

The deployment of THAAD will surely have a long-term and significant influence. South Korea will be further tied by its alliance with the US and lose more independence in national strategy.

North Korea's nuclear issue has further complicated the situation on the Korean Peninsula, but the country's possession of nuclear weapons also results from outside factors.

The biggest problem of the peninsula's messy situation lies in US' Cold-War strategy in Northeast Asia, and its mind-set of balancing China in the region. Neither Pyongyang nor Seoul could make their own decisions independently, as the region's stability and development are highly related to China and the US.

The whole picture of the situation on the Korean Peninsula could not been seen merely from the view of Pyongyang and Seoul. China's relationship with North Korea has already been affected, and ties with South Korea are unlikely to remain untouched.

China is experiencing the pains of growing up. We have to accept the status quo of "being caught in the middle."

China should neither be too harsh on itself, nor be self-indulgent. Being true to itself, China will fear no challenges

Source: Global Times Published: 2016-7-9