Western world pressing Softbank to drop Saudi Arabia

A branch of Soft Bank, the major investing bank in startups where billions in Saudi money is pumped

After the killing of the little-known journalist Jamal Khashoggi – the world did not really know who he was until he was reported killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul – the Western world is not happy.

They are pressing for Softbank, the biggest startup funder in the world, to abandon its ties with Saudi Arabia.

But it is not an easy thing to do for the Japanese banker.

Saudi Arabia is the largest investor in SoftBank’s $93 billion Vision Fund. This is the fund that invests in startups and buys shares in successful firms, including in Grab.

Reuters said the Khashoggi murder case made it difficult for Softbank to raise further funds.

Son and other global executives cancelled speaking engagements at Saudi Arabia’s investment conference last month.

But startups are not giving in to the pressures from the West.

Internet-connected window company View on Friday accepted a $1.1 billion investment from Softbank.

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Dunia Barat menekan Softbank untuk menggulingkan Arab Saudi

Setelah pembunuhan jurnalis terkenal Jamal Khashoggi – dunia tidak benar-benar mengenal siapa dia sampai dia dilaporkan dibunuh di dalam kantor Konsulat Saudi di Istanbul – mengetahui hal itu dunia Barat tidak senang.

Mereka mendesak Softbank, penyandang dana startup terbesar di dunia, untuk meninggalkan hubungannya dengan Arab Saudi.

Tapi itu bukan hal yang mudah bagi bankir Jepang.

Arab Saudi adalah investor terbesar di Dana Vision senilai US $ 93 miliar. Ini adalah dana yang berinvestasi di startup dan membeli saham di perusahaan yang sukses, termasuk di Grab.

Reuters mengatakan kasus pembunuhan Khashoggi menyulitkan Softbank untuk mengumpulkan dana lebih lanjut.
Putra dan eksekutif global lainnya membatalkan kuliah pada konferensi investasi Arab Saudi bulan lalu.

Tetapi startup tidak menyerah pada tekanan dari Barat.

Perusahaan jendela yang terhubung ke internet. Lihat pada hari Jumat menerima investasi $ 1,1 miliar dari Softbank.

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Haram money still drives budgets in Muslim nations due to ignorance

Malaysia is debating whether the Budget 2019 is a ‘people’s budget’ or a ‘people’s hardship’ budget.

In the end, it is a people’s burdening budget says, critics.

Did the Pakatan Harapan regime lose the plot?

No, they did not lose the plot. They are doing what they promised in their electoral campaign. That is redress the economic situation in Malaysia.

And if that means continue the burden on the people, then it is fine. The people also must pay the price for letting Najib Razak suck the coffers dry, don’t they? They had the chance to kick him out earlier but they tolerated him. Right?

But this budget depends heavily on taxes.

Some clever individuals will comment that all budgets depend on taxes in all countries.

But the point is taxation is haram in Islam. And those who taxes the people from their hard earned money are haramis.

There is no going back on that, even though the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia may come out with a fatwa.

They may get someone to make a ruling that taxing the ‘rakyat’ is halal. But it will not mean anything.

Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad will probably say if there is no taxation policy then the government should close the doors.

Anwar Ibrahim and his team of hard core thinkers will fuss about this. They may say the writer has a personal agenda. But let us think rationally for a minute.

Islam condemns taxation. Particularly personal taxations. Tell me it is not true, I will show you a liar. If you do not understand, then put it this way: Tax is not halal in Islam.

And altogether taxing non-Muslims heavily while Muslims sit back and enjoy the ‘haram’ money is un-Islamic.

But there are ways for the fat-greasy-lazy cow of a government to earn more money without taxing the people and burdening them. That is if it’s done progressively.

No one would expect the government to suddenly declare the country tax-free. Gila ka? Rome was not built in one day.

Moving away from burdening the people in slow steps would be the right way.

Malaysia claims to be a Muslim nation – de-facto that is – with its majority Muslim population. And the Muslims have a greater share of the spoils but a lesser share of the burdens say, critics.

This goes with the obvious facts in this country: The most taxed people are not the Muslims. They are mostly the Chinese business community.

Most of the money from the non-Muslims may come from activities deemed ‘haram’ in Islam. Fine, the government says that says it’s not. Fine.

But for how long can you bully the nation?

I may sound extremist in my views. But in my book ‘Islam Inc’ I dissected the points that in Islam, money is free.

The PH regime started well by calling for donations from the people to save the country from ex-PM Najib Razak’s disastrous reign.

They should not stop there.

If Lim Guan Eng would have added a ‘Dana Bajet’ in his speech, it would be a great success.

The fact that it would call on the free will of the people to eliminate the burdens on the government, many would contribute.

And the government could also reduce the fat cow. Follow the French. They are compensating people to leave the civil service.

Some would say it will not work. Dr Mahathir did it before. At the height of the 1998 crisis, his government created the Dana Harta. It worked. This is the Islamic way for a regime to raise ‘free money’.

It does not burden the people to give. Because in Islam, giving is a divine action. But taxing the people is haram and is a legal process in which law-abiding citizens may get entangled.

Taxation is sourced from non-Islamic economic principles. Some say it is a Jew invention or some bad guys idea of burdening the people to feed a lazy bunch of Ministers.

But alas. The PH regime is no better than the former regimes and the pro-taxation governments across the globe.

We all know that taxes save the government a lot of time to really think about new sources of income.

A government is an entity that does not produce a thing at all.

Have you seen a government factory? A government plantation that benefits the people? Or a government agency that produces anything that benefits the people in terms of consumption?

The government is incapable of doing anything but collect taxes. A Muslim majority government in Malaysia will thus depend heavily on taxes.

They tax the non-Muslims heavily. The Muslims get away with it dandy, though some converts their taxes to the Zakat. This is a cheeky way to get away with it too.

This is not only an unfair situation but excuse me, as a Muslim I believe it is a deal for the ‘harami’.

Now, will the PH really think harder on how not to burden the ‘rakyat’ and how to earn their dues with new revenue sources?

Let us see.

Tech will not override humans: Experts

An IT revolution is simmering in the global sphere. Experts in tech-related fields are looking into the possibilities of the future. Of particular interest here are those presented by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

We are living in exciting times. What the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Internet of Things (AIoT) will do for us in the future. This is a question that many are asking now.

In today’s world, waving at a wall to open a concealed door is the norm in some buildings. While cell phones are alerting owners of intruders at home.

But, increasingly, machines are talking to machines. This is the IoT and AIoT revolution.

Last month’s Empiricon conference in Singapore, part of the Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology, offered journalists the opportunity to pick the brains of leading experts. 

Empiricon facilitated conversations about the role of deep tech in the distant future and what the world will look like in the year 2100.

In email replies, Agnes Hugot, co-founder of Fast Track Trade, shared her thoughts on what is in store with future technologies.

“Connected networks will allow many services to be accessible to citizens and to people in remote places,” she says.

Hugot, who holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Certified Public Accountant diploma from Pennsylvania State University, says, “There will be diverse use of the technology behind the scene until potential standards emerge.

“But the key is to organize interconnectivity of various networks,” she says.

Martin Lim, co-founder and chief operations officer at Electrify, is rather amused by the prospects.

“What’s your timeline?” he replies when asked how the future will be shaped by IoT, AIoT and related technologies.

“Molecular replication and fusion reactors would be great.

“But more reasonable would be artificial intelligence on a widespread mesh network: i.e., the Internet gains sentience. But it might not like us,” he warns.

Lim has over 20 years of experience in the mass communications industry. He served as both the creative and strategic lead for a diverse range of clients.

His interests in energy and water management led him to found a company that develops water treatment systems for disaster relief.

The same question was thrown to other experts.

Chris Jensen, co-founder of Climate Conversations and senior developer at Raisely.com, says, “IoT and AIoT are merely the building blocks of the technology that will define our future – the attention economy.

“The question is whether we will reign in the ways that people’s attention is being hacked by technology, or whether technology will be allowed to continue to exploit vulnerabilities in the human operating system.”

Mr Jensen has led environmental outreach and engagement programmes in Singapore and Australia over the last 8 years.

He says the attention economy is shaping global events and our personal lives on a scale never imagined by neither optimists nor pessimists.

“I’m hopeful that advances like Apple’s Screen Time and other work will put control of our attention back into individual’s hands and will help us shape a future where everyone spends time consciously and meaningfully.”

But it is Joelle Chen, regional head for Asia Pacific at the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), who steals the spotlight.

Prior to joining WorldGBC, Ms Chen was heading the Smart Sustainable Cities team at the Singapore Economic Development Board.

She says the exciting part in future tech is “it would be man plus machine, not man versus machine.”

But what about all those theories and paranoia regarding robots? Aren’t they taking over soon?

She says the future looks at whichever tech enables us to live “more productive and fulfilling lives.”

“There will be improvements and new buzzwords and jargon. Fuzzy logic gave way to Artificial Intelligence; statistics gave way to data science; the Internet is giving way to blockchain…,” says Ms Chen.

“Can I have a robot that walks me down the street and helps me with my groceries?”.

“Perhaps a better case would be a robot that walks my dog down the street because I’d rather have my groceries delivered,” Ms Chen replied.

A vision of this article appeared in Khmer Times

Saudi-west tension sends gold up, dollar down

The case of the missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi has hit the nerves of the markets around the globe.

It brought down the US dollar, while gold picked up as if it is following the oil prices that are up too.

The dollar touched a two-week low against peers, while Treasury yields steadied, according to Bloomberg.

The musical chair type of reactions of the commodities has also the Japanese and Swiss currencies up. But the stock markets are taking a beating.

Seeking Alpha says it is an interesting week for Gold (GLD), with the yellow metal finally stirring from its 2-month slumber.

The portal said the time might just be ripe for Gold’s time to shine.

Gold prices rose in London trade Monday, touching its highest Dollar price since late-July as world stock markets extended last week’s steep falls, bullionvault.com said.
Rising to $1233 per ounce, gold prices set multi-month highs against most major currencies, reaching €1065 for Eurozone investors and £936 in Sterling

Reuters said oil prices rose as the Saudi-West rift bears its influence on looming Iran sanctions that might dry the wells.

The sanctions may cause panic reactions in the world’s oil markets with a shortage of supply expected.

And if the Saudis act on their word in a tit-for-tat response against any possible economic aggression from the west, oil might fire up.

The west did not show any sense of appeasing after Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Monday ordered an internal probe into the unexplained disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

The Western media are echoing the Turkish government’s version of the events. It says the journalist, who recently turned against the Saudi government, was butchered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

There is no evidence of such a crime but the absence of the journalist since Oct 2 is an indication something horrible might have happened.

Nevertheless, US crude rose 0.48 percent to $71.68 per barrel and Brent was last at $80.76, up 0.41 percent on the day, says Reuters.

Asian stocks chalked modest gains at the open Tuesday while the KLCI was down 1.19 points or 0.07% to 1,727.55. Turnover was 79.20 million shares valued at RM38.81 million.

Investors are balancing the outlook for global growth and earnings against geopolitical flare-ups and technical weakness.

Mungkinkah Arab Saudi akan menggunakan perdagangan minyak dalam kasus journalis yang hilang?

Mungkinkah rezim Arab Saudi yang diperangi menggunakan cengkeraman kuatnya pada perdagangan minyak untuk menyingkirkan jalan keluar dari kasus jurnalis yang hilang?

Kasus ini telah mencengkeram dunia sejak berita bahwa seorang wartawan Saudi dan seorang kritikus rezim Arab Saudi, Jamal Khashoogi, hilang.

Wartawan itu dikatakan telah memasuki konsulat Saudi di Turki tetapi tidak pernah pergi.

Kemudian, rekaman CCTV – kemungkinan bocor oleh para intelektual Turki ke media – diduga menunjukkan van Mercedes hitam meninggalkan kompleks itu.

Media lokal di Turki, memainkan permainan anti-Saudi penuh, menemukan sebuah cerita yang mengatakan bahwa wartawan itu terbunuh.

Pembunuhan itu, kata mereka, direkam pada iPhone-nya melalui jam Apple-nya. Tetapi para ahli menyangkal ini, mengatakan itu akan menjadi tugas yang sulit.

Sekarang Arab Saudi mengancam untuk menggunakan kemampuan investasinya, daya beli dan cengkeramannya pada perdagangan minyak.

Tujuannya adalah untuk menginformasikan dunia agar lebih perhatian dalam kasus para jurnalis yang hilang. Ini adalah pesan dari Ryadh.

Arab Saudi mengatakan pada hari Minggu bahwa mereka menolak ancaman dan mencoba untuk melemahkannya.

Ini akan menanggapi dengan “tindakan lebih besar” untuk setiap sanksi atau tindakan yang diambil terhadap Kerajaan, kantor berita negara SPA telah melaporkan.

“Apakah dengan melambaikan sanksi ekonomi, menggunakan tekanan politik, atau mengulangi tuduhan palsu yang akan merusak Kerajaan.”

“Pemerintah dan rakyatnya teguh, sayang seperti biasa, tidak peduli apa situasinya dan apa pun tekanannya.”

Dikatakan bahwa jika tindakan diambil terhadap Kerajaan “itu akan merespon dengan tindakan yang lebih besar.”

Pernyataan itu menambahkan: “Ekonomi Kerajaan memiliki peran yang berpengaruh dan vital dalam ekonomi global.”

Sierra Leone membatalkan proyek yang didanai Cina!

Sierra Leone menjadi negara berikutnya untuk mengocok Cina. Ini membatalkan proyek yang didanai oleh Cina.

Negara Africa itu telah membatalkan proyek senilai $400 juta yang didanai oleh China untuk membangun bandara baru di luar ibukota Freetown, menurut BBC.

Namun Cina menegaskan pembatalan itu tidak akan merusak hubungan antara Cina dan Sierra Leone.

BBC mengatakan Bank Dunia dan IMF sudah memperingatkan bahwa proyek itu akan membebankan utang yang berat.

“Kekhawatiran bahwa banyak negara Afrika berisiko gagal membayar hutang mereka ke China.”

Dalam opini Simone Datzberger, seorang kandidat PHD dalam Hubungan Internasional dari London School of Economy: “Investasi Cina di Sierra Leone sangat penting dan dapat mendorong pertumbuhan ekonomi secara keseluruhan di negara ini. Investasi ini, bagaimanapun, belum tentu mengarah pada penciptaan lapangan kerja yang signifikan dan pengurangan kemiskinan yang efektif dalam jangka panjang.”

Banyak orang Afrika khawatir dengan mahalnya biaya berurusan dengan China. 

Dalam beberapa pekan terakhir, Cina telah merebut beberapa proyek di Afrika dan Asia sebagai bagian dari latihan pengembalian hutangnya.

Negara-negara di mana Cina berinvestasi tidak mampu membayar pinjaman, atau jadwal pembayaran kembali. Beberapa jatuh ke dalam kredit macet.

Baru-baru ini, Sri Lanka secara resmi menyerahkan kendali atas pelabuhan strategisnya di pantai selatan ke China sebagai bagian dari perjanjian sewa 99 tahun.

-China memberi Maldives pinjaman yang tidak mampu mereka bayar. Sekarang 38 persen lebih dari resor milik negara adalah milik China

Madagascar tidak bisa membayar, dan tanahnya digunakan sebagai ganti rugi

-Zambia tidak dapat membayar pinjaman china, mereka akan mengambil alih bandara dan wilayah udara mereka bulan depan (termasuk jet militer)

-Ethiopia tidak dapat membayar kembali pinjaman, sekarang sistem jalan kereta api milik mereka menjadi milik orang Cina

-Kenya, 70% dari tambang sumber daya mineral mereka adalah milik Tiongkok, karena mereka tidak dapat membayar kembali pinjaman ..

Menurut laporan, China membangun sebuah kota untuk 5,00,000 orang Cina di Pakistan dengan biaya $ 150 juta di Gwadar sebagai bagian dari Koridor Ekonomi China-Pakistan (CPEC). Kota ini diatur untuk menjadi zona terjaga keamanannya, dan hanya orang Cina yang akan tinggal di zona ini. Sebenarnya ini artinya China akan memiliki koloni di Pakistan.

In Saudi Arabia, young coders are saddling for the future

Saudi Arabia is not sitting back, watching the world distancing it in the coding industry. There are thousands of Saudi citizens who are refining their digital skills to take on the future.

Udacity partnered with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (Misk) in Saudi Arabia on the Misk Udacity Connect Program to provide young Saudi nationals with the knowledge and skills needed, wrote Arab News.

Shaikha Alsalem, originally from Riyadh, worked in the business stewardship field in data government. But now, she is helping in solving problems using codes.

When Udacity announced its scholarship, she entered their nanodegree program. “We worked on multiple projects, starting with initial analysis in data, machine learning algorithms and how to identity those who are involved in a financial crime,” she said. 

After graduating in December last year, her newly-acquired skills helped her career by broadening her perspective about problems and learning how to solve them at work.

Alsalem believes data will be a huge part of the future. “It’s going to play a really big role,” she said. “It will be very helpful, especially as these fields aren’t taught in college, so it’s a new field to everybody.”

The move is a part of the country’s Vision 2030 as it emphasizes citizen satisfaction. “Data provides suggestions where we can improve our services and processes.”

Companies also report that one of the main factors in deciding where to locate is the availability of skilled talent.

Governments are now pressured to provide more jobs, as 30 per cent of the region’s unemployment is found in the public sector. 

US dollar struggling versus SGD

Analysts are not certain what to do with the USD/SGD zig-zag. They are pondering on the fact that the US$ upside momentum may be fading.

On a weekly chart, the Singapore Dollar weakened against its US counterpart to its lowest since July 2017. 

USD/SGD also closed just above near-term horizontal resistance at 1.38185. It also achieved its most aggressive climb over the course of one week since June at +1.11%. However, negative RSI divergence warns that upside momentum is ebbing.

USD/SGD WEEKLY CHART

US Dollar Struggling Versus SGD as USD/IDR and USD/MYR Prices Rise

“Zooming in on the daily USD/SGD chart, we can see that thus far the pair is struggling to hold on to its push above resistance,” said the analysts.

This followed the longest consecutive rising streak, at 6 days, since April 2017.

“Should the Singapore Dollar continue making gains against its US cousin, we may see it test near-term support at 1.37451 followed by a rising range dating back to June. Ascending above resistance exposes the June 2017 high,” they said.

The Wall Street Journal said the WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, fell less than 0.1% to 90.05.

The Norwegian krone rose 0.4% against the U.S. currency to 8.2362.

“The dollar fell Wednesday after Statistics Norway said that country’s inflation rate rose 0.6% in September after declining 0.4% the previous month,” wrote The Journal.

Trump won’t block Saudi investments on missing journalist case

US President Donald Trump said he saw no reason to block Saudi Arabian investments in the United States over the case.

He said Saudi Arabia is spending “$110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs … for this country.”

Trump also said he does not believe in the concept of stopping such a huge investment into the US for purely simple reasons.

“I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States, because you know what they’re going to do?

“They’re going to take that money and spend it in Russia or China or someplace else,” he said.

Earlier, Trump said the United States was working with Turkey and Saudi Arabia to help find Khashoggi, a Saudi national who had been living in the United States.

In the controversy over the disappearance of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabian newspapers are accusing the Turkish and Qatari media of using the matter to carry out political attacks against Riyadh, and its extensive reform program.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said the campaign against the Kingdom had been “fierce” and “coordinated”.

“The repercussions of the political targeting of Saudi Arabia will be dire for those who fuel it.”

“The success of Saudi Arabia is the first choice for the region and its people,”  Gargash said.

Sri Lanka’s fall in China’s ‘debt trap’

A vessel berthed in a port in Sri Lanka: Picture Credit: Deneth17

Reports suggest China has started to take control of land, buildings and other facilities as part of a plan to recoup foreign debts

The Hambantota Port was handed over to Beijing for a 99-year lease due to Sri Lanka’s failure to repay a loan contracted from China for the construction of the port.
News reports are saying Sri Lanka officially surrendered control of the strategic port on the south coast to Beijing as part of a 99-year lease agreement.
Under the agreement, the port now has a 70% Chinese ownership, with Chinese companies holding 70 percent stake in the port of Hambantota.
The $ 1.3bn port was built with a loan from a Chinese state-owned bank. It was opened in 2010. But the Sri Lankan government struggled to pay off the debt, registering huge losses in the project.
Along with loans taken for other infrastructure development projects, Colombo now owes China a total of $8 billion. Also on Twitter, Brahma Chellaney, an Indian political writer and analyst, described the agreement as “debt diplomacy”, saying Chinese loans were often given in exchange for strategically important physical assets that could be “guaranteed”.
China has also given billions to Djibouti, but the tiny African nation is unable to pay back. Now China has confiscated their habour as collateral damage.
China granted loans to the Maldives, a country that could not afford to repay such loans. Now 38 percent or more of state-owned resorts are in the hands of the Chinese.
Madagascar is also in dire straits, unable to pay the Chinese for a loan, resulting in the land being used as compensation by the Chinese. Zambia is also unable to pay its China loans.
Reports are China till will take over their airports and airspace next month (including military jets). Ethiopia too is unable to repay loans, now their railroad system belongs to the Chinese, say some reports.
According to these reports, China built a city for 5,00,000 Chinese in Pakistan at a cost of $ 150 million in Gwadar as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The city is set to be a gated zone, and only Chinese will live in this zone. Actually, this means that China will have a colony in Pakistan.