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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Yes to Belt and Road - Everyone will benefit from BRI

Centre of attraction: China’s President Xi Jinping greeting Dr Mahathir as he leaves with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China.


Dr M endorses the BRI - ‘Many countries are going to benefit from initiative’

With help from Chinese firms, Malaysia will have an AI park soon. That’s not all the good news that came from the Prime Minister’s trip to China. Businessmen are pleased that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given the thumbs up to the Belt and Road Initiative. He says countries in its route will be the beneficiaries. And that means Malaysia too. WITH all of China as his stage, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a massive endorsement to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying all will benefit from the ease of travel and communication the development strategy will bring.

The Prime Minister said that with trade driving the world, it was only natural that land and sea passages be better developed.

“The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies the passage can be improved.

“Without a doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West. I am fully in support of the Belt and Road Initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project,” he said in his speech at the High-Level Meeting of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held at the China National Convention Centre here yesterday.

The forum attracted over 5,000 participants from 150 countries including leaders from around the world, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Rodrigo Duterte (Philippine), President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt) and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, is a strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Dr Mahathir said just as massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also “respond” to the increased trade between East and West. He also suggested that bigger trains be built for the purpose.

“If ships can be built bigger, why can’t trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw material and people? Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not,” he pointed out.

Dr Mahathir, who is on his second visit to China since becoming the 7th Prime Minister last May, said the world has the technology and funds to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

“It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all,” he said, adding that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels and also delivering the benefits promised.

“Yes, the Belt and Road idea is a great. It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.


“As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

Dr M in Beijing: Everyone will benefit from Belt and Road initiative



PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has endorsed the Belt and Road initiative by China, saying everyone would benefit from the ease of travel and communication that it would bring about.

He said this in his speech at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Friday (April 26).

"Today, trade drives the world. It is only natural that the land and sea passages have to be better developed.

"The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies, the passage can be improved.

"Without doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West," said Dr Mahathir..

According to the Prime Minister, just as the massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also respond to the need from the increased trade between East and West.

He suggested that bigger trains be built towards this end.

"Although trains can now connect China with Eastern Europe, current trains are not designed for the increases in goods and people needing to travel along this passageway.

If ships can be built bigger, why can't trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw materials and people?

"Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not," he added.

The Prime Minister said the world had the technology and money to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes, which pass through many countries via both sea and land, was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

"It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all," said Dr Mahathir.

He added that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels that enabled the Belt and Road incapable of delivering the benefits they promised.

"Yes, the Belt and Road idea is great.

"It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

"As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

"Everyone will benefit from the ease of travel and communication that the development of the Belt and Road project will bring.

"I am fully in support of the Belt and Road initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project," said Dr Mahathir.




 PM’s BRI backing allays fears over KL-Beijing ties

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s full endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will allay concerns over Malaysia-China relations and lead to greater cooperation between both countries, according to China watchers here.

RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd vice-president and head of Economic Research Peck Boon Soon said Malaysia was trying to mend its relations with China.

“It is safe to conclude that relations between our two countries are back to normal,” he said, referring to the suspension and cancellation of several China-linked projects last year.

Peck said the revival of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and Bandar Malaysia projects and the Prime Minister’s presence at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing yesterday would help restore confidence among businessmen from China.

He said it made perfect sense to have warm ties with China as the country was the largest export market for Malaysia.

ACCIM SERC Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Heng Guie said Malaysia’s expressed support of the BRI opened up mutual consultation, increased cooperation and connectivity benefits between both sides.

“With this strong endorsement, we expect the relationship to further deepen bilateral ties and enhanced economic relations based on the principles of mutual benefit,” he said.

Lee said Malaysia and its private sector could gain from the enlarged trade and investment opportunities along the passage and gateway of BRI, if the countries could adopt the freedom of passage along these routes through the easing of bureaucratic hassles.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap, who attended the Belt and Road CEO conference which was the first such conference at the forum, said the conference provided huge business opportunities for many companies in the region.

“This is a timely boost for the global economy,” he said, adding that there were nearly 1,000 participants from 90 of the world’s Top 500 companies, 78 of China’s Top 500 companies, more than 100 state-owned enterprises and 200 private companies at the conference.

Businessman Datuk Liu Thim Soon, who is vice-chairman to the United Nations Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance, said the BRI was a visionary, long range direction by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “It is an enabler and platform for many developing smaller countries to be linked to investments, trade and tourism.

“With about 140 million China tourists travelling yearly, smaller developing countries can benefit and derive great economic potential if they can tap into this market,” he said. - By Yimie Yong

Who should you believe about BRI?

https://youtu.be/uK3-dhLp2yU


Deal inked to develop M’sia’s first AI park

MALAYSIA is to develop its first artificial intelligence (AI) park.

The park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology.

It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management, research and development and commercial ecosystem.

An agreement was signed yesterday between Malaysian company G3 Global Bhd (G3) and its Chinese partners SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) on the setting up of the AI park, with the total investment at US$500mil (RM2.07bil).

The location of the park has yet to be identified.

The agreement was signed between G3 executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, SenseTime president for Asia-Pacific Business Group Jeff Shi, and CHEC chairman Lin Yi Chong.

The ceremony was held after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s office here.

The Prime Minister also tried his hands on the self-driving car system at the company, which specialises in AI technology.

G3 Global banks on AI 





Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office. 
From jeanswear maker to one of Malaysia’s rising artificial intelligence (AI) companies. That is the interesting story ofG3 Global Bhd that is unravelling today.

While many companies can attempt to boast the AI buzzword as a business focus, it is not an easy area to venture into.

First you need super computers. Then you need the AI software or algorithms.

And then you need to use that software on vast amounts of data in order to build the AI applications for real use.

While G3 Global may have made some inroads into building its own Internet of Things (IoT) platform, it has yet to achieve anything big by itself in the AI space. That was until it signed a deal with China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, touted as the world’s most valuable AI startup.

On April 11, G3 Global told Bursa Malaysia that it will partner with SenseTime to set up Malaysia’s first AI park, in collaboration with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

The AI park is expected to see more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) in investments over the next five years.

According to G3 Global executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the AI park is vital in order to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

“In addition, this becomes a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he said.

On Friday, the culmination of the relationship between G3 Global and SenseTime took place, following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ongoing official visit to China.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers, visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing, among others.

During this visit, G3 Global had inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with SenseTime and CHEC in relation to the AI park project.

G3 Global said in a statement that as the local partner, it will coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

Meanwhile, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership while CHEC will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

Valued at over US$4.5bil (RM18.67bil), SenseTime is the fifth national AI platform in China and is also the country’s largest AI algorithm provider.

Although it is only less than five years old, the company now serves over 700 customers and partners globally, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Honda, Alibaba, vivo and Xiaomi, among others.

Based on SenseTime’s website, the startup leads the AI market in “almost all vertical industries” such as smart city, smartphone, mobile Internet, online entertainment, automobile, finance and retail.

“SenseTime has independently developed a deep learning platform, supercomputing centers, and a range of AI technologies such as face recognition, image recognition, object recognition, text recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving and remote sensing,” it says.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, SenseTime has been profitable for two years and the company has recorded triple digit revenue growth for the past four years.

The collaboration between G3 Global and SenseTime aptly serves what both companies need. By setting up an AI park in Malaysia, SenseTime will be able to expand its global presence further while G3 Global gets to go big into the booming AI scene.

Overall, the AI hub in Malaysia is a nice sounding plan. But how real will it be and how extensive will it be?

Speaking with StarBizWeek over the telephone, Wan Khalik says that the move into AI has been a natural progression of the company.

“With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI. We had been in search for a good partner to fast-track out entry into AI, which has a high entry barrier.

“That’s how we got to do a deal with Sensetime, which took much effort on our part, considering how successful Sensetime already is,” he says.

Perfect partner

Wan Khalik: With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI
Wan Khalik adds that SenseTime is the perfect partner, considering that they are one of the biggest AI companies in the world and have their own AI algorithm as well as products and services.

“Their products are already deployed in the commercial world,” he points out.

While acknowledging that AI is still nascent in its growth in Malaysia and still suffers from a lack of understanding and appreciation, Wan Khalik points out two important aspects that the deal with Sensetime will bring about.

“First is that the lab will become an education tool to showcase what AI is all about and the benefits it brings. Second is the fact that we intend to address the issue of developing talent in Malaysia in the AI space.”

In the press release announcing the strategic partnership between G3 and SenseTime, it was revealed that SenseTime will be assisting in the development and deployment of training syllabus for universities in Malaysia.

Wan Khalik says that SenseTime has designed and developed part of the AI syllabus that is currently being taught in schools across China.

 “The good news is that the Malaysian government has expressed strong interest in AI and it wants industry to get involved in AI. But we need to invest in buidling up the talent in this field,” he adds.

The little-known G3 Global’s journey is an impressive one.

Its diversification into the information technology scene began less than four years ago after G3 Global (formerly known as Yen Global Bhd) acquired IoT solution provider Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd in December 2015.

Green Packet Bhd , image: https://cdn.thestar.com.my/Themes/img/chart.png , a mobile broadband and networking solutions provider, emerged as a major shareholder in G3 Global after it acquired a 22% stake in August 2016.

A year later, Green Packet boosted its equity interest in G3 Global to 32%.

The G3 Global stock’s trend has been rather flattish since mid-2017. However, since the start of April this year, shares of G3 Global surged by 106% to its record-breaking high of RM1.62.

On April 25, the company hit limit-up and was issued with an unusual market activity query from Bursa Malaysia, in relation to the rapid advances in its share price.

While the reasons behind the sharp increase in G3 Global’s share price were unclear, it seems to have some correlation with G3 Global’s partnership with SenseTime.

G3 Global also saw the entry of Wan Khalik as shareholder, after he assumed control of private vehicle Global Man Capital Sdn Bhd, which currently has the largest stake in G3. Global Man Capital increased its holdings of G3 Global to a 32.04% stake following an acquisition of 32.15 million shares in April, edging out Green Packet’s 32% stake.

On April 5, G3 Global appointed Wan Khalik as its new executive chairman.

Wan Khalik, who is also a substantial shareholder in DWL Resources Bhd, has some notable Sarawak connections, having been the principal private secretary to the Sarawak State government between 2013 until July 2018.

Wan Khalik’s background also includes experiences in corporate planning, public administration, IT strategic planning, and business development.

When asked on why did he pick DWL and G3 Global as companies to invest into, he says, “For DWL we see opportunities in project management of jobs of major infrastructure projects that the country is embarking on. That is why we have teamed up with the likes of Gadang to prepare to jointly bid for such jobs. As for G3 Global, it is even more interesting because of the future of AI. As you probably already know, AI is the world’s next great technological revolution. It is changing the way information is gathered, stored and used. We will not be able to do without it, whether as individuals, organisations, companies and governments. We believe our deal with Sensetime puts G3 Global on solid footing to bring AI to Malaysia and the Asian market.”

G3 Global recorded a net loss of RM17.15mil in the financial year of 2018 ended Dec 31, against a turnover of RM29.4mil. Both of its apparel and ICT business segments were in the red for the 12-month period.

“The ICT business continues to show growth potential despite incurring losses due to business development costs and we hope to see better contribution to sales from this division in the new financial year.

“The setting up of various new subsidiaries will drive the growth in the ICT business including the provision of IoT solutions and services like connected commercial vehicles and sensor hubs, and AI smart cameras. The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current financial year,” G3 Global said in a filing.

Moving forward, with the AI venture with SenseTime, the company is clearly on a new trajectory, especially considering the way AI is going to flood all our lives.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, only 26% of organisations in Malaysia have embarked on their AI journeys, although about 70% of the business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisations’ competitiveness.

The immense untapped potential in the domestic AI market offers promising opportunities for local AI companies, including G3 Global.

With a strong backing from SenseTime, G3 Global could rise to become a leading AI solutions provider in the region.

By ganeshwaran kana The Star

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