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Friday, March 30, 2018

Silicon Valley faces tech backlash: maybe needs to be taken down to size

Polarising content and Russian manipulation of social media are fuelling calls for greater regulation of firms like Google and FB. — 123rf.com

Demonstrators at a rally in opposition to white supremacists and the postponed right-wing "March on Google" protest of James Damore's firing that was originally planned the same day. — Bay Area News Group/TNS

Once a darling, tech hub Silicon Valley is under attack for its technologies which are damaging our lives.


ONCE upon a time, there was a beautiful land filled with bright minds and gleaming prospects.

People called it Silicon Valley, and out of it flowed knowledge, ideas and innovations that gave us almost-unthinkable powers to learn, to communicate, to transform our lives into exactly what we wanted them to be. The region’s denizens toiled happily at the cutting edge, and day by day, they were making the world a better place.

But today, this beautiful land is under attack from within and without. The products and services it sends out into the world are being called addictive, divisive and even damaging, raising the cry that instead of making the world better, they are making it worse.

As technology plays a deeper and more pervasive role in nearly every aspect of our lives, the industry that has upended everything from shopping and travel to education and human relationships is facing a backlash the likes of which Silicon Valley has never seen.

Polarising online content and Russian manipulation of social media platforms have fuelled calls from the right and the left for greater regulation of firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter. World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Republican US Senator John McCain, leftist billionaire George Soros, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson have all joined the chorus demanding the government take action.

Terrific or terrible?

Critics argue that the big tech firms have become too economically dominant, intruded too far into our lives and have too much control over what gets seen and shared online. At the same time, critics contend, those same companies have failed to take responsibility for the misuse of their services by malevolent actors, for the spread of fake news and for the way their platforms and algorithms can be gamed.

Stanford computer science students are protesting Apple, demanding it make less addictive devices.

The #MeToo movement has amplified a debate over sexual harassment and diversity in Silicon Valley. And conservatives have attacked the whole region as a liberal echo chamber that stifles precisely the open debate it claims to embrace.

Thus the backlash.

“What makes it categorically different now is that this is the first time I have seen that people are saying, ‘Hmmm, maybe Silicon Valley needs to be taken down to size,’ said Leslie Berlin, project historian for Stanford University’s Silicon Valley Archives. “This notion that what Silicon Valley represents actually threatens rather than embodies what makes the country great, that is new.”

Berners-Lee in an open letter recently called the tech giants “a new set of gatekeepers” whose platforms can be “weaponised” to widen social rifts and interfere in elections. Benioff told CNBC in January that social media was “addictive” and should be regulated like cigarettes.

Carlson wants Google treated like a public utility because it “shuts down free speech for political reasons”.

Former president Barack Obama, at a February conference at MIT, said social media was Balkanizing public discourse, creating “entirely different realities” that contribute to “gridlock and venom and polarisation in politics”.

Even Facebook has jumped in with an unusual mea culpa, issuing a news release in February admitting it was “far too slow to recognise how bad actors were abusing our platform”.

Raking in the money

Despite its critics, Silicon Valley remains hugely successful and influential, with 21% of employed people working in tech, according to a 2017 Federal Reserve Bank report. Though the region’s economy has shown some signs of slowing, job growth in Silicon Valley has been more than double the national rate since the beginning of the economic recovery in 2010.

And the region remains home to the two most valuable public companies in the world, Apple and Google’s parent firm Alphabet, as well as world-class universities. Every day, people around the world benefit from Silicon Valley-built tools that have transformed communication, opened access to information, and made life easier.

The notion that Silicon Valley’s best days are over is far from new – people have been predicting its demise ever since the advent of the microprocessor, said Berlin.

“It was going to be the oil shocks of the 1970s that were going to take it down, and then competition from Japan, India and China, the Dot Com bust, Y2K – it’s just been one thing after another, the 2008 crash,” Berlin said. “Time and again, Silicon Valley has bounced back from these perceived threats. Silicon Valley has always been sort of the golden child of the Golden State.”

But this time, Berlin and others see something shifting.

“It is unprecedented,” UC Berkeley Haas School of Business professor Abhishek Nagaraj, said of the backlash. “I think this is because of how deeply penetrated tech is in people’s lives.”

Nagaraj, who studies the tech industry, compared the demonisation of Silicon Valley to the outcry against Wall Street after deceptive investment banking practices knocked the United States into the Great Recession.

“It appears as if, basically, tech is the new finance,” Nagaraj said.

Overwhelming force

Increasingly, the public views the tech industry as a force against which they are powerless, said San Jose State University anthropology professor Jan English-Lueck, who researches Silicon Valley’s culture.

“It’s now on people’s radar screen to be a place of the elite, where they’re changing the world in a way that ordinary people don’t have an influence on that change,” EnglishLueck said.

While the devices and social media platforms created by hugely successful Silicon Valley tech firms have given us new ways to connect, they’ve also thrown the worst of human nature into our faces, said English-Lueck.

“You don’t have to look in somebody’s eyes when you’re telling someone something ugly,” English-Lueck said. “That’s really exaggerated people’s ability to hate.”

She believes the optimistic view of technology as the great liberator and connector helped keep major tech firms from building more safeguards into their platforms to prevent vicious online attacks, dissemination of fake news and nation-state intrusions.

“Do we want free speech and free action that’s amplified by the Internet?” she said. “Sometimes we don’t want that.”

Stephen Milligan, CEO of pioneering San Jose data-storage firm Western Digital, doesn’t think technology can solve everything.

But Milligan doesn’t buy the notion that Silicon Valley has lost its bloom. The region’s companies are still trying to solve “real problems” in the world and having a positive impact on people’s lives.

“It’s still cool,” Milligan said. “I actually think it’s more cool.”

Silicon Valley boosters such as Peggy Burke, CEO of Palo Alto branding agency 1185, will tell you the technology industry can fix the problems it creates.

“You have to weigh the good and the bad, and if the bad gets so bad that it outweighs the good, someone will solve for that,” Burke said. “If there’s a problem – traffic, transportation, housing, stopping Russians, fake news – someone in the Valley right now is working on solving for that problem. I’ve been in the Valley for 30 years and I’ve seen it happen over and over.”

A reckoning for the region is likely, but it won’t be a fatal one, Berkeley’s Nagaraj said. The problems arising from technology will exacerbate the ongoing decentralisation of innovation, as boot camps bring entrepreneurial skills to new regions, and clusters of expertise – in “deep learning” artificial intelligence in Toronto, for example – lead to cooperative projects linking the Valley to other areas, he said.

“It’s going to be a much more collaborative process than one of replacement,” he said. “We are moving to a world where not all the big hits come from Silicon Valley.”

Source: By Ethan Baron – The San Jose Mercury News/Tribune News Service



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 BLOCKCHAIN beyond Bitcoin

Blockchain is beginning to enter the spotlight as organisations see uses for it over and above the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. From combating...


What is Blockchain Technology, its uses and applications?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Positive Learnings from the life of eagles

Soar Like An Eagle  
  
How An Eagle Tackles A Storm? Soar Like An Eagle youtube.com


https://youtu.be/I2mwXBPqfMQ

BLOCKCHAIN beyond Bitcoin


Blockchain is beginning to enter the spotlight as organisations see uses for it over and above the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. From combating fake degrees to being able to track the origin of organic products, blockchain is proving to be a reliable solution in trust.

The underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and ethereum is blockchain.

Creating trust in transactions Varanasi: Blockchain can be used to store verified documents so that users don’t have to keep validating important documents every time it’s submitted to a new party.

While blockchain was confined to finanin cial tech the early days, many organisations are starting to employ it in other industries because the technology is highly secure and even allows for transparency.

This encourages trust and in some cases even eliminates the need for a third party to validate the data, making it valuable to many organisations.

WITH fake doctorates and degrees becoming increasingly common, how are employers and graduates to find an efficient way to bridge the gap in trust?

According to Dr Mohamed Ariff Ameedeen, from University Malaysia Pahang (UMP), the solution could lie with blockchain technology.

As director of IBM’s Centre of excellence, which has been based in the university since 2012, he is continuously exploring novel uses for blockchain beyond cryptocurrency.

he said one of the early ideas the team was working on was a secure database that would prevent students from hacking to change their grades.

however, his team then decided to solve a more pressing issue affecting universities – fake degrees.

Mohamed Ariff said some universities are already integrating QR codes into graduates’ certificates to help validate credentials. however, even QR codes are now easily tampered with.

Taking it one step further, the UMP team created a system called Valid8, a QR code linked to a student profile secured by blockchain, which contains the student’s name, photo, title of degree and the year it was awarded.

This made tampering with the QR code pointless, as it only acted as a key to the information on the blockchain.

“even if someone used another person’s QR code, the data would clearly show it was not the person’s name or photo connected to the certificate,” he said.

he added that all the info placed on the blockchain is already publicly available so it would not compromise the students’ privacy.

Mohamed Ariff said making the data trustworthy meant time savings – as employers don’t have to contact the university to verify the certificate, they can be quicker in deciding if they should hire the job applicant.

So far, UMP has run a pilot programme with Valid8 by issuing supplementary certificates to 180 graduates from the industrial Management Faculty.

Mohamed Ariff said it took a couple of days to configure the blockchain node and a few more days to input the 180 students’ data.

“Although entering the information is relatively straightforward, migrating 15 years of old data (of earlier graduates) that includes more than just the initial four data points is going to take a bit longer,” he said.

The full-scale test for Valid8 will be the students graduating at the year-end convocation, estimated to be around 2,000.

To make the student profiles more useful, Mohamed Ariff said the team is planning to add more information such as grades, attendance, courses and maybe even disciplinary records.

“The beauty of blockchain is that it can grow with time and track a student’s academic life. imagine how much data it would have if a profile was set up for students when they entered kindergarten,” he said.

To encourage such a situation, UMP is open to collaborating with other universities that wanted to adopt blockchain for student iDs.

however, eduValue founder Barry Ew Yong warned that even a secured system has an obvious point of failure – human error.

he added that once errors entered the system there is a chance that it will be perpetuated. “Technology does not increase trust. Systems increase trust, though technology can be a useful tool to do so,” he said.

Like with UMP’s Valid8, the quality assurance startup has adopted blockchain to secure graduate certificates, using the technology to store a softcopy of the degree.

The company serves around 30 private schools, mostly tertiary schools offering up to Masters. Founded in Singapore in December 2012, it only just started employing blockchain.

he said the company uses a two stage system to ensure that only qualified students would be given certificates.

in the first stage it will help set up the standard by which students will be evaluated in order for them to graduate, and the approval process will be audited – schools found lacking will be struck off the system.

in the second stage it will vet all data being uploaded to the platform.

For UMP this is just a start – it’s also testing a blockchain based e-wallet called Xchain that students, lecturers, staff and vendors would eventually use for all transactions in UMP.

Beyond the security benefits, Mohamed Ariff said the open-nature of blockchain’s shared ledger meant the spending patterns could be analysed, making the university a giant data pool.

“With a population of 13,000 users, there’s a lot of potential data. And as a university, we love data,” he said.

Xchain is still in beta as the team is waiting to get Bank Negara to issue it an e-wallet license.

Mohamed Ariff concluded that blockchain is promising, especially for the education field, which relies on data that is open to peer review while also being trustworthy and tamper-evident.

ACADEMICIAN hu Dong, who advises Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Zero Bay incubator, said the supply chain industry could see huge advantages by having a more efficient and transparent data manto agement system.

Blockchain can be used track a product’s origin and determine if the materials were sourced as claimed, which is invaluable to sectors such as organic farming and ethical diamond mining. Also, by tracking the product’s trail along each stop on the supply chain, should an issue arise that requires a product to be recalled, the company could zero in on where the fault occurred.

For example, if a company found that the computer it’s making has a faulty hard drive, it would be able to identify which one of its factories was responsible. it then only needs to recall the computers that originated from the affected factory instead of all its products.

This would save cost as the recall will be smaller

and speed up the process which could help limit damage to the company’s reputation.

Dong, who was in Malaysia for a conference by blockchain incubator WeMerge, said the highlight of blockchain is accountability and transparency so it would create a higher degree of trust, which makes it great for smart contracts.

A smart contract can digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the performance of a contract without the need for third parties. And if executed via blockchain, the transactions are trackable and irreversible.

He said smart contracts could ensure factories, for instance, get paid faster, as the payment can be released once the contract is verified through the blockchain instead of waiting for a third-party to process it.

Startup Eximchain, which has raised US$20mil (rM78.41mil) in funding to continue developing blockchain solutions, is offering Smart Contracts.

Its solution allows banks to verify the validity of orders and provide the necessary financing; and the transaction history can be used by suppliers to prove their reliability to buyers and rating institutions. For banker turned blockchain technologist Bobby Varanasi, limiting the technology’s application to Bitcoin is just shortsighted.

The co-founder of Thynkblynk Technologies, along with partner Parag Jain, have developed ChainTrail, a “trust platform” for storing verified documents, including education certificates, medical records and contracts.

By using ChainTrail, you don’t have to keep verifying a document each time it’s presented to a new party.

However, Varanasi said the company was not in the business of certification and that the onus was on the data provider, be it a university or bank, to ensure that the data is correct.

“A lie, once committed to blockchain, would become an immutable one,” said Jain, referring to how data can only be added but not modified on a blockchain.

To mitigate such risks, ChainTrail vets customers by validating their credentials and ensuring that they are authorised to represent stakeholders.

For instance, it would verify that a lecturer is from the university he or she claims to represent.

It also offers templates for agreements such as contracts and term sheets.

“In today’s world, lack of trust is increasingly permeating the world of trade, both politically and financially... blockchain as a tech has finally presented an opportunity to create trust amongst a variety of parties that transact with each other,” said Varanasi.

Chain of trust:


Built for cryptocurrency Bitcoin, blockchain is being used in innovative ways in a number of industries.

 

Basics of blockchain


LIKE a lot of complex technologies, blockchain is easier to understand once you break it down.

A blockchain is made up of a block of “transaction data” which is why it’s also called a ledger. Each block also has a hash – a string of numbers which uniquely identifies the block.

And similar to how a person has their parent’s names added to theirs, a block features a portion of the preceding block’s hash.

Put in terms of family lines, it’s like how you could tell that Amir bin Ali is the son of Ali bin Abu, who is in turn the son of Abu bin Bakar, and so on.

Basically, the hash “chains” the blocks together, by affirming their place in relation to the blocks before and after, hence the term blockchain.

Security in numbers

A key feature of blockchain is security. Blockchain runs on the paraphrased adage that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time.

So rather than making it tamper-proof, blockchain is tamper-evident – this is done by making a copy of the blockchain available to all members of the network, which is why blockchain is sometimes referred to as a public ledger.

As members of the network all have a copy of the same blockchain, if anyone’s chain is compromised by a hacker, it would look different from others.

If you have ever tried to organise a movie night with an extended group of friends on a WhatsApp group, you’ll get the idea.

Say, you want to watch Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War and get the ball rolling by choosing the day and cinema, and then ask whoever that’s interested to add their names to the list.

The original message can’t be altered as it has been sent to the group. Instead everyone adds to the data by including their names and maybe a request for a specific timeslot. This concept is called “persistence”, wherein the older data cannot be retroactively altered.

Though a cheeky friend could change the date to try to troll the group, he wouldn’t be able to hide the fact that earlier messages will show a different date. This is what makes a public ledger like the blockchain tamper-evident.

Blockchain transaction


The blockchain is stored on computers, also known as nodes, that are connected via a peer-to-peer network.


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Kim Jong-un says he is ‘committed to Korean denuclearisation’ in Beijing talks



 
https://youtu.be/E3FfuXcgzUU



North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has promised President Xi Jinping that he will follow through the wishes of his father and grandfather in denuclearising the Korean peninsula, but added he wants assurances from the United States and South Korea.

The leader of the reclusive state made the remarks during a trip to China, his first overseas visit since he became North Korea’s leader, according to the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Kim, the third generation of his family to lead his country, said the situation on the Korean peninsula was improving and that his government has taken steps to ease tensions, Xinhua reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leaves Beijing after surprise visit >>

Kim added that if the US and South Korea were willing to respond to North Korea’s efforts with sincerity the nuclear issue “can be solved”.

“Our unswerving stance is that we will make efforts towards the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” Kim was quoted as saying by Xinhua. President Xi pledged to work with North Korea to achieve denuclearisation.

“China is willing to continue to make a constructive impact on the Korean peninsula problem,” President Xi said. He called upon all sides to solve the problem through dialogue, Xinhua reported.

Tensions have risen on Korean peninsula after North Korea has increased nuclear weapons tests.

The United Nations has enforced a series of sanctions to try to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Hopes of a breakthrough in the crisis have risen since the announcement that North and South Korea’s leaders have agreed to meet.

Beijing is North Korea’s long-standing traditional ally, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s support of UN sanctions.

Pang Zhongying, a senior fellow at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, said Kim was securing China’s support ahead of his meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled to be held by May.

“By denuclearisation, Kim actually means the whole Korean peninsula should be denuclearised and that the nuclear weapons deployed by the US in South Korea should be withdrawn,” Pang said. “Can the US really accept that request? The gesture means that the chance of a significant breakthrough between Kim and Trump may be slim.”

Kim’s visit evidence China and North Korea remain allies, analysts say  >>

Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre in China, agreed Kim was looking for support from Beijing ahead of his meetings with South Korea’s president and Trump.

”Just as Kim may have felt he had secured some leverage against Xi having independently secured summits with Trump and Moon, he’ll now feel more confident knowing where things stand with Beijing heading into those same meetings,” he said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Chinese government had briefed the Trump administration about the visit on Tuesday.

The Trump administration sees the development “as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea”, she said.

Beijing residents left in the dark during Kim Jong-un’s unexpected visit  >>

Kim arrived by train in Beijing on Monday and left the following day, with his trip to China coming just days before a planned meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and ahead of the possible summit with Trump.

Speculation about a visit by Kim to Beijing came earlier this week after a train similar to the one used by Kim’s father was seen in the Chinese capital.

Ri Sol-ju, Kim’s wife, was also part of the delegation to Beijing, Xinhua reported.

China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, Vice-President Wang Qishan and Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning also met the North Korean leader.

The green armoured train carrying the North Korean leader returned to the reclusive state at about 6am on Wednesday across a bridge connecting the two countries in Dandong, Liaoning province.

Chinese police had blocked access to the area around the bridge before the train’s arrival.

Armed police vehicles were also seen in the area.

North Korea agrees to inter-Korean talks to discuss possible April summit  >>

Access to parts of the Yalu River riverbank, which separates North Korea and Dandong, were blocked. Some police officers also stopped people from taking pictures of the bridge before the train’s arrival.

“I can only say that a situation is happening here,” a police officer at one of the blocked roads told the South China Morning Post.

About three minutes after the train passed over the bridge, police officers finally allowed pedestrians to enter the area.


As the Post visited the area in the early hours of Wednesday – before the area was cordoned off – five plainclothes police officers approached and asked staff to leave.

They did not explain why, only saying “it was not safe” to be there so late at night.

Source: South China Morning Post by Phila Siu is reporting from Dandong

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Malaysian Chinese will lose out from DAP's tactics

https://youtu.be/ZMjeV2afEzo

KUALA LUMPUR: The Chinese community stands to lose the most in DAP’s strategy to wipe out the Chinese leaders of their political rivals, says prominent political analyst Rita Sim. “It is a high-risk strategy as DAP is assuming it still has the Chinese support from the ‘tsunami’ it created in the past two general elections,” said Sim of the Centre for Strategic Engagement (Cense).

“It seems as if it wants to wipe out all the component party heads, especially those from MCA.

“In the Chinese community, especially the older voters, we are hearing that they are not happy with this approach.

“It’s also very funny that DAP is doing this. In its earlier years, it believed there should always be check and balances.

“So now that it is picking up this strategy, where is the check and balance?” she asked.

Sim said no one would be able to second-guess what the voters would do and questioned whether DAP could beat the incumbents.

“What happens if it doesn’t win the seats? Its capable parliamentarians would then be out,” she added.

Separately, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong criticised DAP for being “consistently inconsistent” in its stance.

He said on Jan 31, the party’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching issued a statement, carried by most of the Chinese dailies, saying DAP was on a mission to eliminate MCA.

On Feb 13, Dr Wee noted, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang said there was no such mission and that it was only a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Three days ago when it announced the candidate for the Bakri parliamentary seat, (DAP secretary-general) Lim Guan Eng said the party’s mission was to eliminate Barisan.

“It would send its so-called strongmen to contest in MCA and Gerakan strongholds, especially those held by top leaders.

“What does it mean? Do you think a constituency can choose two leaders? I give you half-term and then I take half-term?” said Dr Wee, adding that DAP was not contesting a single seat against Umno and all the 35 seats it had since announced pitted its candidates against MCA and Gerakan.

Penang Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow, speaking at a party function recently, had also criticised DAP for its game plan, which would rob the Chinese community of talented leaders.

He said by politically wiping out Chinese leaders from MCA and Gerakan, DAP would indirectly weaken the community.

In Penang, state MCA liaison committee chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said the recent “sacrifice MCA” remark by state DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow was akin to sacrificing the interests of the Chinese.

“This again proves DAP’s attempt to lure voters into believing the party can defend the rakyat, especially the Chinese.

“But in reality, it is challenging the rakyat to defend their own rights and interests. It cannot be denied that MCA represents the Chinese community,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

Source: The Star

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Empowered President Xi warns China will crush ‘any attempt to split country’ in keynote speech

President sends out strong nationalist message in closing speech to National People’s Congress(NPC)

President Xi Jinping spoke at the closing of China’s National People’s Congress.

https://youtu.be/I1MRZBZ0u4Q

https://youtu.be/FdN9xxyAkyc

This year’s NPC carried special meaning for Xi. His status as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades was cemented over the course of the 16-day event.

The constitution was changed to remove presidential term limits – allowing him to stay on as head of state for as long as he sees fit.

The political theories that bear his name were also enshrined in the constitution, giving him the same political status as Mao Zedong and the former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

He also reshuffled the government and placed his trusted aides, including vice-president Wang Qishan, in key positions concerning the economy, relations with the US and the battle against corruption.

Xi addressed the legislature and the nation as the landmark session closed.


The end

Xi has finished his speech.  Premier Li Keqiang will be holding a press conference at around 10:30 am. Journalists are expected to ask him about China-US trade wars and other issues of concern. The South China Morning Post will be covering it live.

More Marxism
 
He now returns to what he describes as the importance of the Communist rule in China by urging people to rally behind the party.

In his closing remarks also says China will continue its campaign to “root out” all corruption and purify the party.

China’s place in the world

He continues on the theme by setting out his vision for China’s place in the world - highlighting his signature Belt and Road policy

Xi’s speech has already lasted for half an hour, compared with his 20-minute speech five years ago when he began his first term.

He stresses to other countries.

“Only those who are threats to others will see others as a threat to them,” he says, without specifying which country he is referring to.

National sovereignty

The nationalist theme continues with comments about Hong Kong and Taiwan and a promise to crush any efforts to “divide the nation”, which is greeted with loud applause.


He emphasises that it will be “impossible” for any parts of China to leave the country, highlighting Beijing’s hardline stance towards any talk of independence for Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Xi makes sure to highlight China’s long-standing cultural history, as the roots for its present and future development. His use of the phrase “great revival of the Chinese nation” has been a slogan closely tied with him since he became president in 2012

Xi also refers to Marxist theory and the thoughts of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. He also mentions the theories by his two predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, without mentioning their names.

He said stresses the role of the Communist party in engaging different sectors of the society.

He also says China will develop into a culturally strong country before highlighting his signature pledges of eradicating poverty and caring for the sick and elderly.

History and tradition

Xi’s first five years in office have been characterised by a nationalist agenda and in keeping with the theme his speech is full of references to ancient Chinese literature and folklore to support his vision for “great Chinese revival”.

By contrast, five years ago he began his speech by thanking his predecessor Hu Jintao for his 10-year governance

Xi tries to rally the public saying China has “defeated all fierce invaders and defended the freedom of Chinese”.

Xi puts special emphasis on the unity of the country. “A country that is split cannot make great progress,” he says.

How the Chinese government works?

Xi Jinping is the most powerful figure in China's political system, and his influence mainly comes from his position as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Stressing the innovative nature of the people

Xi Jinping, known for his nationalism, highlights the importance of Chinese ancient philosophers, and inventions, and ancient literature and architecture.

“I believe, as long as 1.3 billion can keep the great innovative spirit (like in ancient times), we can create miracles one after another.”

Xi Jinping begins to address the Legislature

Xi starts his speech by expressing gratitude to the support he received for the second term of his presidency. He stresses he would abide by the constitution.

He then states that all government officials should remember that they should always serve the public and put public interest first.

“People are the real heroes,” he said.

Source:  https://www.scmp.com/news

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Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to safeguard China's territorial integrity and has a stern warning to those who would attempt to split the country, during his speech at the closing of this year's National People's Congress (NPC) on Tuesday.

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  Singing and dancing to world domination

Well-regarded: Kuok in his office in Hong Kong. Picture taken from ‘Robert Kuok: A Memoir’. https://youtu.be/mP1ju6_e4Vw http...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

More worms open up from Penang Undersea Tunnel project as Datuk Seri photos hots up

Pricey seizure: The luxury vehicles, (clockwise from top left) a Toyota Vellfire, a Mercedes-Benz, a Land Rover and a Hyundai Starex, seized from the Datuk Seri.
Happy meeting: In a picture that has appeared in cyberspace, Lim and the ‘Datuk Seri’ are seen in the back seat of a car.

PETALING JAYA: Another photo of Lim Guan Eng with a man who resembles the Datuk Seri being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has emerged on cyberspace.

The photo shows the Penang Chief Minister and the 37-year-old Datuk Seri who is being investigated for allegedly receiving RM19mil to “help settle” the MACC’s probe on Penang’s controversial undersea tunnel and three highways project.

The photo was taken in a car with Lim and the Datuk Seri together in the back seat, both smiling widely. A caption that went with the photograph claimed that it was taken in August last year.

In early March, a photo of Lim and the Datuk Seri showing both of them wearing socks but no shoes standing on a carpeted floor, went viral.

The photo is believed to have been taken at a private residence.

MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker pointed out that when the first photograph emerged on social media, the chief minister conveniently brushed it off, claiming that he had taken photographs with numerous personalities and denied having any dealings with the Datuk Seri.

“He even retaliated by showing a picture of the same Datuk Seri posing for a photograph with Star Media Group managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

“Wong responded by saying that there were many pictures of him taken with people he barely knew at events he attended and noted he was wearing shoes in the photograph,” Ti said in a statement.

But now with a second photograph of Lim and the Datuk Seri emerging so soon, Ti said, “so, what is Guan Eng’s excuse this time?”

Datuk Seri photo issue hots up

Pictured response: Lim revealing the pictures of the Datuk Seri’s wife with a Barisan leader at a press conference in Komtar, Penang.


PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng’s refusal to come clean on his relationship with the Datuk Seri being investigated for graft and his “revelation” of photos of the latter’s wife with Barisan leaders are acts of desperation, says Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications deputy director Datuk Eric See-To.

He slammed the Penang Chief Minister for not explaining his relationship with the Datuk Seri, who allegedly received RM19mil to help close the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation files on Penang’s RM6.34bil undersea tunnel and three paired roads project.

“Firstly, the wife is a media personality whose job would invariably include meeting government leaders.

“Secondly, those photos were uploaded to her public social media account by her, unlike Guan Eng,” he said.

Two photos of Lim and the Datuk Seri have emerged so far.

The first showed both wearing socks, but no shoes, standing on a carpeted floor, while the second was a wefie of both men smiling widely in the back seat of a car.

At a press conference in George Town yesterday, Lim distributed photos of the Datuk Seri’s wife with Barisan leaders to the press in response to the claims that he was close to the Datuk Seri.

“Looking at so many photos of his wife with Barisan leaders, it is clear that both of them are strong Barisan supporters.

“Do not throw stones when you live in glass houses,” Lim said.

However, See-To pointed out that none of the two Barisan ministers who took the photos with the wife had any involvement in the controversial Penang project.

“The Chief Minister’s office had brushed off the first photo implying that he is not close to the suspect, only for a second one to emerge which shows that the relationship is deeper than his office suggested,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim also told the press conference that the wefie of him and the Datuk Seri was taken with the latter’s handphone.

He added that the real question was who leaked the photos when only the Datuk Seri had them in his handphone.

“Even I do not have them,” he said.

Lim reiterated that he had “taken many photographs with many personalities” and could not recall how many times or where they were taken.

He said there may be more photos of him and the Datuk Seri, the latter’s wife and family members.

“Does taking photos with him, his wife and family make us close buddies?” he asked.

On the same issue, Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari called on Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy to stop being an apologist for Lim.

The MIC treasurer-general said Dr Ramasamy should have joined him in questioning Lim’s role in the Penang project.

“Ramasamy should now be brave and encourage his boss to make police reports if those two photos are fake, or he should insist that his boss sue me if he believes I had slandered him,” he said in a statement.

Vell Paari claimed that he knew with certainty that the first photo was taken at the Datuk Seri’s lavish house in Petaling Jaya in July last year.

He also claimed that the wefie of Lim and the Datuk Seri was taken in August last year.

The car belongs to the owner of the special purpose vehicle set up for the tunnel project, he claimed.

MIC wants Lim to explain relationship with Datuk Seri

Vell Paari appointed as new MIC Treas


PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng must explain his relationship with a Datuk Seri being investigated in the Penang undersea tunnel project graft probe, said MIC treasurer-general Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari.

Vell Paari said Lim and his party DAP had a duty to the Indian community to “explain” their relationship with this suspect, who had “betrayed the trust of and cheated” the community.

“That suspect is involved in a case where many Malaysian Indians were cheated of their hard-earned money and savings.

“Datuk R. Ramanan and I had exposed him less than two years ago.

“As such, many individuals who are familiar with the suspect have told me that the photo of the Penang Chief Minister with the suspect was indeed taken in the lavish private home of the suspect,” said Vell Paari.

He said Lim and DAP must explain “when and why” the chief minister had visited the suspect’s house.

The 37-year-old Datuk Seri is being investigated by MACC for allegedly receiving RM19mil from the project’s main contractor Consortium Zenith Construction to “help settle” the commission’s probe into the controversial RM6.34bil project comprising an undersea tunnel and three main highways.

Lim’s office subsequently issued a statement saying that linking the Chief Minister to the Datuk Seri was a “disgusting smear attempt”.

“What dealings or businesses does he have with this Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission suspect?

“If the photo was indeed not from the suspect’s house, the Penang CM and DAP are more than welcome to sue me,” said Vell Paari.

Sources: The Star

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    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Did Trump just launch a trade war?

    https://youtu.be/SGatqAGp1YM

    LAST Thursday, US President Do­­­nald Trump signed a proclamation to raise tariffs for steel by 25% and for aluminium by 10%.

    It sent shockwaves across the world not only because of the losses to metal exporters, but due to what it may signify – the start of a global trade war that will cause economic disruption and may damage, if not destroy, the multilateral trade system.

    The United States, joined by Europe, has been the anchor of the global free trade system since the end of World War II. In practice, this rhetoric of free trade was hypocritical because the West continues to have very high protection of their agriculture sector, which cannot compete with those of many developing countries.

    Moreover, the developed countries champion high intellectual property rights standards through an agreement in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), under which their companies create monopolies, set high prices and make excessive profits. This is against the free competition touted by free-trade advocates.

    In manufacturing and metals, the developed countries have pressed the others to join them in cutting or removing tariffs and to expand trade, through negotiations in the WTO and its predecessor, the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).

    They have argued that poorer countries can best grow richer by cutting their tariffs, thus benefiting consumers and forcing their producers to become more efficient.

    Trump’s move upends the ideology of free trade. According to his America First philosophy, if cheaper imports displaced local steel and aluminium producers, these imports must be stopped because a country must make its own key products.

    Since the US has been the flag-bearer of the free-trade religion, this has profound effects on other countries. If the leader has changed its mind and now believes in openly protecting its industries, so too can other countries. The basis for liberal trade is destroyed and the old rationale for protectionism is revived.

    The WTO rules allow countries adversely affected by imports to take certain measures, but they have to prove that the producers of exporting countries unfairly receive subsidies or set lower prices for their exports. Or they can take “safeguard” measures of raising tariffs but only for a limited period to help affected local producers to adjust.

    Trump however made use of a little-used national security clause (Section 232) in the US trade laws to justify his big jump in steel and aluminium tariffs. The clause allows the President to take trade action to defend security. The WTO also has a security exception in GATT Article XXI.

    But what constitutes national security is not clearly spelt out either in the US or the WTO laws, and countries can abuse this clause.

    The Trump administration tried to justify invoking the security factor by saying steel and aluminium are needed to make weapons of war. But this was undercut by giving exemptions from the increased duties to Canada and Mexico due to their membership of Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agree­ment that includes the US. The exemptions for reasons unrelated to security exposes the security rationale as fake.

    Other countries are angry and preparing to retaliate. The European Union has drawn up a list of American products on which its member countries will raise tariffs. China warned it would make an appropriate and necessary res­ponse.

    At the WTO General Council on March 8, the US action was attacked. Many countries condemned the unilateral move and the use of the national security rationale. Canada said the security issue “may be opening a Pandora’s box we would not be able to close”.

    Brazil expressed deep concern about an elastic or broad application of the national security exception. India said the national security exception under GATT should not be misused and unilateral measures have no place in the trade system. China argued that the over-protected domestic industry would never be able to solve its problems through protectionism.

    Many WTO member states will most likely take the US to a dispute panel, and the outcome will have strong consequences. If the panel rules for the US, then other countries will view the decision as permission for all countries to take protectionist measures on the grounds of security.

    If the decision goes against the US, it will strengthen the anti-liberal trade faction and tendency in the Trump administration to ignore or even leave the WTO.

    Malaysia will be affected by the new tariffs as it exports 96,000 tonnes of steel to the US. But this is small compared to how much steel we import.

    The bigger blow to us is the US measure in January to slap up to 30% tariffs on solar cells and panels. Malaysia is the largest photovoltaic cells exporter to the US, with a market share of 30%. The tariff increase will have a big impact on the solar industry, a solar company chief was quoted as saying last month.

    The next big protectionist move from the US may come in a few weeks when Trump decides what action, if any, to take against China after considering a Commerce Department report on China’s trade and intellectual property practices.

    If strong action against China is announced, China can be expected to take strong retaliatory action.

    That may escalate the trade war that is already under way.


    Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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