Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What is the significance of religions?

Quick to follow in the foot steps of the London Bridge attack, the new target was Melbourne which happened yesterday, all carried out by ISIS followers.  Many leaders have tried to defray any accusation that the wanton act of this militants have anything to do with Islam.

Let's put matters into perspective.

Followers of any religion practice its teachings and doctrines. So when the followers promote peace and goodwill we credit that religion for guiding its followers to spread harmony and good relationships. Likewise when its followers kill others who disagree with their faith, should we look elsewhere to blame, or blame it on their beliefs, i.e. their religion?
Religion may be the saviour or destroyer of humanity. Most likely the destroyer. Unlike Islam which promote a self centred way to paradise, Christianity preaches an inclusive invitation to partake in a new life in eternity for all followers of Jesus Christ. That new life is not the state of the world we live in today certainly.
Can it be safely concluded that Islam promote destruction of other human beings who are not their sects or beliefs on the basis of what is happening now? Like in a bee colony, not all bees are soldiers but many are workers, yet their mission is the same - propagate and protect the queen. You can see the parallel.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New Silk Road : Demons within, dragons without

We have tended to look at China with starry-eyed fascination, mesmerised by the immense opportunities for investments, trade, and business, not to mention corrupt gain. China has become something of a fairy godmother - for every problem or need there is a Chinese loan, a Chinese project or a Chinese business deal.
Of course, China has much to offer but only the most naïve will believe that China’s largesse is without a price.
Like it or not, we are dealing with a behemoth with the resources, the ambitions and the tenacity to overwhelm us if we are not careful.
A diplomat in Beijing
I lived in Beijing from 1979 to 1981 as a diplomat and was back in China again earlier this month to attend a meeting. The pace of change in China is simply staggering.
When I first arrived in the country, China had no middle class. According to some economists, its wages were just above that of sub-Saharan Africa.
Most people lived in mud brick shacks and there were as many bicycles as there were people. Vegetables like cabbage were brought from the communes when available and dumped by the truckloads on the roadside; the smell of rotting cabbage was everywhere.
Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader of China from 1978 till his retirement in 1989, was one of the most remarkable leaders I have ever had the privilege of meeting. He saw what many of his more ideologically inclined colleagues were too blind to see - that if a way could be found to release the industriousness, creativity and ingenuity of the Chinese people, there would be no stopping China’s rise to greatness. In my view, that was his greatest contribution to China.
And he set about changing China through the Four Modernisations policy. It was a big deal then, much the same way as One Belt One Road (OBOR) project is today.

Less than four decades after I first arrived in Beijing, the city is not just a world-class capital city, it is the capital of the world.
The millions of bicycles that once filled the streets of Beijing are gone, replaced by millions of cars both foreign and locally-made.
In the week that I was there for my recent meeting, China’s first locally-built aircraft carrier began sea trials while its first locally-built passenger plane took its maiden voyage.
Almost everything - airports, roads, mass transit systems, telecommunications - is new and more advanced than anything anywhere else. The old ‘hutongs’ (alleys) are all but gone, replaced by dazzling high-rise condos, shopping malls, stadiums, coffee bars and fabulously expensive restaurants filled not by expatriates but by locals.
Except for the famous historical landmarks, very little remains of the Beijing I first encountered in 1979.
Impatient to fulfil its destiny
The mindset shift is also striking. The people I talked to were confident about their future and proud of what had been accomplished. They were anxious to get the best education, learn new experiences, discover new business opportunities, seek ways to exploit new technologies, and were ready to move to the other side of the world if necessary in pursuit of their aspirations.
As a nation, there is an eagerness to be the best and the greatest, to climb the highest, go the furthest, to build the biggest, fastest and most advanced. It doesn’t take long for visitors to sense that this is a nation on the move, impatient to fulfil its manifest destiny as possibly the greatest nation in the world.
Above all else, it is the strategic thinking and planning behind almost everything that is China today that is impressive. A country like China does not rise that high that fast by happenstance but by careful planning, thoughtful implementation and dogged determination. It seems that when China settles upon a strategy, it pursues it with uncommon passion.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that never in the history of human civilisation has any nation been able to make such a technological, economic and social leap forward in such a short span of time as China.
That is the China that we must deal with and we better be up to the challenge if we are not to share the fate of lambs headed to the slaughterhouse.
It is not to suggest that China is evil or necessarily intent on subjugation; it’s just that the sheer asymmetry of its power and prowess automatically puts other nations at a huge disadvantage.
As I walked around Beijing in awe, I couldn’t help reflecting on our own nation’s journey over the last 35 years or so. In many ways, witnessing China’s exponential rise to greatness also forces us to come to terms with our own performance, our own vulnerabilities and shortcomings. It is a depressing exercise to say the least.

During then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to China in November 1985, for example, a few Proton Saga were given to a Beijing taxi company as part of the effort to gain publicity for the recently launched Malaysian-made car. Admiring crowds gathered around the Proton wherever it was displayed, astonished that a small developing country like Malaysia could produce its own cars. It was a proud moment for those of us who were there.
Some 37 years later, here we are desperately looking to China to rescue Proton from total collapse. In 1985, China produced about 6,000 cars annually; by 2008, China’s annual production had surpassed that of the United States and Japan combined.
Time and again, we seem to have squandered the lead we had through corruption, mismanagement and misguided policies or wasted resources on hair-brained schemes. Worst of all, we never seem to learn anything from our follies because we keep repeating them.
Unproductive, self-defeating exercise
While China was taking giant strides forward with its Four Modernisations programme, we were arguing over language, race and religion. Instead of building a world-class system of education, we were politicising it and pretending that just calling our universities great would make it so. While other countries were going out of their way to attract the best minds in the world, we were driving them away with bigotry and prejudice.
While China’s leaders were experimenting with ways to release the creativity, ingenuity and industriousness of all its people, our leaders were stifling it with discriminatory programmes and self-defeating policies.
Even now, when countries like China are focused on technological innovation and strategising how to seize global leadership, we are obsessed with religious laws, what people wear or who’s sleeping with whom, never mind that all these things do absolutely nothing to improve our productivity, enhance our competitiveness or prepare us for the challenges ahead.
Of course, we have our great plans - Vision 2020 and now TN2050 - but we have neither the patience nor the determination of China to do whatever is necessary to bring it to fruition. In the end, it’s all just hype, a “syiok sendiri” exercise, and we know it.
To be sure, Malaysia has made impressive advances as well but surely it is far less than what could have been achieved when measured against our potential.

How do we face external challenges and an increasingly competitive global environment with so much internal baggage? If we cannot get our act together, if we cannot exorcise the demons within, how can we ever hope to face the dragon without?
DENNIS IGNATIUS, a former Malaysian ambassador, firmly believes that we should put our trust not in the leadership of politicians but in the sanctity of great institutions - our secular and democratic constitution, a democratically elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a free press and a government fully accountable to the people.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wong Chen's Q & A session.

I've been busy today answering questions from readers and a reporter on the Proton–Geely deal. To simplify things, I won't repeat myself, but I will give you directly what I've told the Malaysiakini reporter:
Q: Is it a good deal in the first place? Should DRB sell more than 49.9%? Also, who owns the golden share now? In future, who will have the say with regards to strategy?
A: Proton has been commercially unsustainable for a long time, therefore this deal cannot be judged on whether it is good or bad but as a necessity. The details of the deal must be fully disclosed and the Government must come absolutely clean on the new shareholding structure of Proton. Does the Government still have a golden share? Are there any other third parties holding shares and acting in concert with Geely? I find it very hard to believe that Geely is willing to buy Proton without majority control.
Q: After selling 49.9% shares to Geely, is Proton still a national car? Does it qualify to receive RM1.1 billion R&D from the government?
A: I don't think Proton can be considered a national car anymore after the deal completes in July. Again, I stress the Government must come clean on the details of the deal. If I have to make an educated guess, the RM1.1 billion payout to Proton is probably to help Proton settle all outstanding liabilities in order to deliver to Geely a clean company in July.
Q: Certain politicians suggest reducing the import duty since protection for Proton is no longer necessary, what do you think? Should excise duty, one of the main reasons pushing up car prices, also be reduced? You suggested eliminating the excise duty, what should be the time frame?
A: If Proton is no longer a national car, then the excise duty must in principle, gradually be reduced and then eliminated within 3 to 5 years. I am against a sudden elimination in excise duty as it will cause market confusion and destroy all locally produced cars including Perodua, and will also decimate the used car market. The Government must act responsibly and tell Parliament what it intends to do as soon as possible. Keeping the details of the deal opaque and being silent on its excise duty policy are irresponsible acts, and these serve only to cause unnecessary anxiety and confusion in the market.
Q: What's next for our national automotive policy, then? Should we turn into a manufacturing hub like Thailand, or should we continue to create our own cars?
A: We have a strong automotive parts industry and we have to thank Proton for that. However we must move on. I am positive on Geely's abilities and its management of Volvo is impressive. I hope Geely can do the same with the Proton brand and make it a regional brand. Malaysian cars can be competitive if we eliminate the culture of unlimited protectionism which breeds wastage, inefficiencies and corruption. Protectionism can be good but it must have a specific limited time frame, and the management must be based on merits and abilities. Proton squandered all the protectionist policies and the time has come to end it.
Q: What should be the strategy for Proton now? Should Proton enter the China market under the name of Geely? Or should Proton come out with a new name/brand after the acquisition?
A: I don't think Proton should enter the China market, that is Geely's home turf. For Malaysia, it should keep Proton and see how it performs in Malaysia for a few years. Proton must always be market sensitive.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Woe is our education standard ..

A University professor wrote an expressive message to his students at the doctorate, masters and bachelors levels and placed it at the entrance in a university in South Africa. 

And this is the message;

*"Collapsing any nation does not require use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students".*

The patient dies in the hands of such doctors

And the buildings collapse in the hands of such engineers

And the money is lost in the hands of such accountants

And humanity dies in the hands of such religious scholars

And justice is lost in the hands of such judges...

*"The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation"*

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Li Shufu, the man who dared to buy Proton

Li Shufu
Chinese entrepreneur and founder of Geely Automobile, Li Shufu, is the man who dared to buy loss-making national car maker Proton.
After years of dwindling sales and financial losses, it is hoped that finally now, Shufu is the man who would work his 'magic' in reviving Proton as he did with prestigious Swedish auto maker Volvo.
Given his proven track record in turning round loss-making auto companies, the Malaysian government and Proton's parent company DRB-Hicom are confident he will herald a new era of growth for Proton.
Yesterday, DRB-Hicom signed an agreement with China-based Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group Ltd  for the Chinese car group to acquire 49.9 percent in the national car maker.
Under the deal, Proton would also dispose its entire stake in British sports car-maker Lotus for 100 million pounds (RM1=RM5.57), a move that will enable Proton to cut its losses.
As Geely's owner, Shufu owns 100 percent of Volvo, yet many might not be aware that the owner hails from China.
Shufu is rare among today's many Chinese entrepreneurs for taking on auto manufacturing as it is a sector dominated by state enterprises and multinationals.
He founded Geely in 1986 to build refrigerators and became an automaker in 1997 when he wanted to produce a cheap car for the masses.
Geely Group now has reached 1.3 million car sales in the financial year 2016.
And, Shufu is now reportedly worth a staggering US$7 billion.
As an entrepreneur-owner, his almost 50 per cent ownership is a major plus point which Proton would derive from the partnership.
This is because Geely is a "entrepreneur driven" auto company and one of the few left in the world as opposed to car firms owned by state enterprises and multinationals.
As an entrepreneur-owner, there would undoubtedly be a greater sense of personal commitment to ensure that Proton achieves success at the domestic, regional and possibly global levels.
No wonder he is sometimes referred to as the 'Henry Ford of China'.
Before he bought Volvo in 2010, the Swedish car maker owned by Ford then, was on the brink of extinction.
He also owns the iconic London taxi Company.
With Geely's expertise, one can expect new Proton models, transfer of technology, more jobs, auto engineers and bigger orders for parts vendors.
The partnership can also help ramp up production capacity of its under-utilised Tanjung Malim plant to its full annual capacity.
The Chinese firm's acquisition of Proton nicely fits into its plans to make its presence felt in South-East Asia for which it has been on the lookout for a manufacturing plant in the region.

Investor sentiment on Geely has been immensely favourable with its share price on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange having risen from HK$3.77 in 2014 to HK$11.50 as of May 22, 2017.
Only time will tell whether Proton would emerge as a formidable automative player again.
Nevertheless, with Shufu and Geely providing solid backing, our very own and much-loved Proton brand now has a real chance of making a comeback, and probably a huge comeback at that.
- Bernama

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our superbug girl, Dr Lam Shu Jie ....

*Dr Lam Shu Jie (藍舒潔), 27, Chinese Malaysian* the superbug girl who did Australia proud.

She was one of the best student in SPM but failed to get our government JPA scholarship to continue her undergraduate degree in Australia. Moreover, with her excellent results from Melbourne University, she got the scholarship from Australia government to further her postgraduate master degree. In addition, with a sponsorship and funds for the research. Her excellent research dissertation was noted even during the first year of her PhD study. She carries the title *Dr. Lam* at the age of 27!

This Chinese Malaysian lass got her breakthrough in medical science at Melbourne University in _*super bug*_ research.

She got her scholarship from the Australian government but not her own country's government.

China has just awarded her the illustrious *Young Overseas Chinese Award* in Beijing.

China's Health Minister Gao Qiang personally handed the coveted award to her.

Currently, China, Australia & Singapore Government and Universities are fighting to recruit her at their research centre respectively. Many believe her quality research work will have massive global impact. She has the potential to win a Nobel Prize in future!

I wonder why Malaysia isn't doing anything to rope her back?

Wonder why BN Government set up Talent Corporation for?

Just wondering...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In Remembrance .....



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Aren't our mail safe anymore?

This is shocking. Two weeks ago, I sent a registered cover to my business associate using an envelope that was in pristine condition.

Upon receiving the cover, my business associate took photos of the envelope and sent them to me..

The condition of the envelope was appalling. Not only were the sides peppered with tears but it was ripped open. They even used a tape and crudely taped back the opening on one side. A large part of the envelope was still left open.

Fortunately there were no important documents involved. So even if they were lost, I still have copies with me.

Do I suspect that the authorities are now checking our mail? Looks like certain people are getting jumpy these days, and definitely, registered posts are no longer secured.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

That moment has arrived ....

Two months ago, was the 20th anniversary when I first took the plunge to leave the security of the bank to venture into my own business that is related to the human development industry. I still could remember the Saturday before I left, my CEO had a long meeting with me, coaxing me to stay on. I told him I wish I could but I must make the necessary move as I have already arrived at the cross road of my life and if I didn't make a move then, I would never move at all.

Twenty years on, the painful decision that I dread most has finally arrived a month ago, i.e. whether to finally hang up my laser pointer for good as I felt I have done all I could partaking in the industry growth more so, seeing to the skill improvement of my charges.

During this time, I met many interesting people, from all walks of life and stations. But most of all, I enjoyed fully the many intellectual discourses that we had during and after each training session.  What is even amazing is that some of the participants who attended my sessions many years ago, are still in touch with me today via FaceBook and WhatsApp.

I wonder how many of you are now at that cross road of your life having to make that choice.

Friday, February 10, 2017

To donate or not to donate my blood ...

I may not have donated as many as 52 times as this guy but have been donating from time to time as and when the occasion calls for it. So would the GH or Red Cross staff be visiting our church any time sooner for their next blood donation call? Blood derived from the Catholic community is definitely non-halal? So how?