Tag: malaysia

Samsung and Panasonic involved in Napalling scandal

MalaysiaSamsung and Panasonic have launched investigations into allegations of abuse made by their Nepalese workers in Malaysia after a Guardian investigation raised multiple concerns about their treatment.

The pair said that they had been deceived about pay, had their passports confiscated and had been told that they must pay large fines if they wanted to return to Nepal before the end of their contract.

They were forced to work for up to 14 hours on their feet without adequate rest, and with restricted toilet breaks. They also had to pay recruitment fees of up to £1,000 to secure their jobs.

The Guardian spoke to 30 Nepalese migrants making products for Samsung and Panasonic. Some of those working for Samsung are employed directly by the company, but the majority are hired through a labour supply company. The workers assembling or making parts for Panasonic are employed by subcontracting companies.

Both Panasonic and Samsung forbid their suppliers from confiscating passports or charging migrant workers recruitment fees. Yet all the men interviewed by the Guardian claimed they paid up to more than $1,100 to recruitment agents in Nepal to secure their jobs in Malaysia. They all also claimed that their passports were confiscated on arrival in the country.  All this is illegal under Malaysian employment law.

Without their passports, the workers said they couldn’t freely leave their jobs and return home without paying fines equivalent to three or four months’ basic salary.

Both Samsung and Panasonic have said they are opening investigations into the conduct of their suppliers following the claims.

A spokesperson from Samsung said: “As a committed member of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), we comply fully with the EICC’s Code of Conduct and have found no evidence of violations in the hiring process of migrant workers hired directly by our manufacturing facility in Malaysia. Once there is any complaint, we take swift actions to investigate.

“We are currently conducting on-site investigations of labour supply companies we work with in Malaysia and the migrant employees hired by these companies. If any violations are uncovered, we will make immediate corrective actions and moving forward we will suspend our business with companies that are found to be in violation.”

In an emailed statement, Panasonic said, “Panasonic will conduct a full investigation into the claims made by the Guardian. We are taking these allegations very seriously and if, in fact, we discover that one of our suppliers has violated such laws or regulations, we will ensure and require them to take necessary corrective action immediately.

“We expect all of our suppliers to strictly comply with our Corporate Social Responsibility policy and declaration. These expectations are outlined in Panasonic’s contracted terms and conditions with each supplier. We do not tolerate breaches of these terms.”

The workers interviewed by the Guardian also complained about conditions inside the factories.

“The work is extremely difficult,” said one worker at a Samsung electronics plant making microwave ovens. “You get only 45 minutes in a 12-hour shift to eat, and seven minutes every two hours to drink water.”

AMD sells family silver after poor results

AMD Analyst Day '15AMD is selling most of its assembly and testing operations in China and Malaysia in a bid to save cash after poor results.

The chipmaker said it will sell 85 percent of its assembly, test, mark and pack operations in Suzhou, China and Penang, Malaysia to China’s NFME for $320 million.

The company also said it would create a joint venture with NFME as part of the deal, to which it will contribute 1,700 employees. It said it did not plan to cut any more jobs.

AMD earlier this month said it would cut five percent of its global workforce. It had 9,700 employees globally, according to its annual report in February.

The company reported its fifth straight fall in quarterly revenue and forecast current quarter revenue that fell short of analysts’ average expectations.

Chief Executive Lisa Su said that PC demand, particularly in the consumer market, continues to be somewhat muted.

AMD posted a net loss of $197 million in the third quarter ended September 26 compared with net income of $17 million a year earlier.  Revenue fell 25.8 percent to $1.06 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a revenue of $995.9 million.

AMD forecast current quarter revenue to fall 10 percent. The midpoint of the range translates to about $955 million, which was short of analysts’ estimate of $996.3 million.


Malaysian bloggers face jail for Facebook pork pic

A Malaysian couple have been charged with sedition after posting a Ramadan greeting with them seen eating pork on Facebook.

Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee became notorious in Malaysia for running a sexually explicit blog. But now it seems that the government has charged them with sedition after posting a Facebook photo which showed them eating pork.

Apparently eating pork in a Muslim country in Ramadan is a threat to the government’s stability.

They pleaded not guilty in a Kuala Lumpur district court, and the court denied them bail. It looks like the pork snap means that they will remain in jail at least until the next court date which is set for 23 August.

If found guilty of sedition, they face a jail term of up to three years.

According to ZDNet it looks like the government has all sorts of pain lined up for the pair. The bloggers are likely to face charges of causing disharmony on religious grounds and possessing or producing obscene content, which can lead to a jail term of up to five years.

The duo have apologised for the picture but Malaysia’s Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin rejected it and demanded that they be punished.

The country’s prime minister, Najib Razak, also issued a rebuke. “The insolent and impudent act by the young couple who insulted Islam showed that freedom of expression and irresponsible opinion can jeopardise the community”.

Najib is currently trying to replace the current sedition act, but has been attacked by opposition groups saying that the new law is designed to stifle political dissent.

If the old law can jail a young couple for eating pork, then the new one could be even sillier.

Tan and Lee hit the headlines when they posted photographs and videos of their sexual exploits, including close-ups of their genitals.

Tan’s scholarship at the National University of Singapore was terminated following the public outrage over their blog. 

Underwater optical fibre data cable opens in Asia

A 7,800km underwater optical fibre data cable, called the Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), which links Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, has opened for traffic. It is the first direct cable link between the Philippines and Japan, according to one of the developers.

ASE can manage data transfer as fast as 40 gigabits per second. It joins existing undersea cables around Japan, including those operated by Telstra International, Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, and Pacnet which links Singapore and Hong Kong, although these were damaged by an earthquake off Japan’s coast in March last year, the BBC reports.

It is hoped that the new cables will bolster speeds between the countries particularly for high frequency trades.

These are used by financial institutions to make trades where speed is imperative, sometimes up tp hundreds of thousands of transaction in under a second, based on algorithms that oversee market conditions nad make a call on the appropriate buy or sell actions.

ASE’s route is as straight as can be to reduce data transfer times.

Because of the natural disaster threat, ASE avoids the area around Taiwan where earthquakes are common. Instead the route is as near to the Philippines as possible, which a senior director at NTT – one of four project partners – claimed makes it significantly safer and more reliable.

The other companies are the Philippines’ PLDT, Singapore’s StarHub, and Telekom Malaysia.

Hackers hit Malaysian government

Malaysia has been hit by a wave of attacks after the “Anonymous” hacker group accused the government of Internet censorship.

More than 50 government websites were hit and 41 of them were closed, AFP said.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said in a statement the attacks on websites with the .gov.my domain started shortly before midnight Wednesday and lasted several hours.

Little damage was caused and these were denial of service attacks. Apparently most of the websites have already recovered.

Anonymous warned on a website that it would target the government portal www.Malaysia.gov.my on Wednesday. It was still down this morning.

It is the second attack that Anonymous has made on a Government website over this same subject. Anonymous sabotaged Turkish sites last week to protest against Internet censorship.

In this case the attack followed an order by the MCMC to Internet service providers should block 10 file and video-sharing websites that it said violate copyright laws.

Anonymous released a video saying that Malaysia’s censorship was an erosion of human rights.

It is interesting that it has just woken up to this problem. Malaysia’s media operate under strict censorship laws. Until now websites have remained relatively free, due to an official pledge not to censor the Internet in a bit to get foreign cash into the country. 

Malaysian tweets 100 apologies for libel

A Malaysian man has promisted to apologise 100 times on Twitter for making a defamatory tweet.

Fahmi Fadzil, who describes himself as a performer and writer, whinged on the microblogging site that a pregnant friend had been poorly treated by her employer, a magazine by the inspiring name of Female Magazine owned by Blulnc Media.

He thought better of the tweet a few hours later and apologised to the company in another tweet – but, Asia One News reports, Blulnc wasn’t in a forgiving mood. It slapped him with a lawyer’s letter claiming damages.

Happily, though, the two managed to come to an agreement and settle things out of court. Now, Fadzil’s 4,200 followers are being treated to a series of tweets even more repetitive than those of most Twitter users. Starting today, he’s agreed to tweet his contrition 100 times over the next three days.

“I’ve DEFAMED Blu Inc Media and Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR policies are untrue. I retract those words and hereby apologise,” he says.

The decision might just get the British legal authorities out of a sticky situation if they care to take it as a precedent. With everybody tying themselves in legal knots over the legality of breaching super injunctions on Twitter, perhaps public apologies could be the answer.  Of course tweeting the entire country if a gagging order is broken might be a marathon.

Groupon launches Malaysian site, eyes China next

Group buying website Groupon has launched its Malaysian service, the latest in its growing expansion throughout Asia.

Groupon Malaysia was launched by acquiring a Malaysian group buying service called GroupsMore for an undisclosed amount, marking a similar approach the company took to acquisition-based expansions in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan.

It was only last month that Groupon expanded to these countries, so clearly it’s not finished with its move into the Asian market. In fact, it does not yet have a Chinese service, but it’s deep in talks with Chinese ISP Tencent on co-branding a group buying service there.

GroupsMore is one of many similar sites in Malaysia, servicing the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. It was launched in September 2010 and has grown to over 50,000 users in this short period. This figure is likely to spike under the Groupon name.

The group buying business is big in Asia, with the Chinese market alone growing from 0 to 1,200 competing group buying sites over the past year alone. Even the popular Baidu search engine, which rules the search market in China, launched a group buying service in China last month, and let’s not forget Google’s attempts to buy Groupon and its eventual decision to launch its own service when Groupon refused to sell.

The group buying phenomenon is called Tuangou in China, which is based on an older style of bargaining that has been used in mainlaind China for years, where groups of people secure lower prices at local stores by bulk buying. Groupon and its competitors are basically just an online variation of this same approach.

Giving that this form of bargaining was effectively created in the local markets in Asia, it’s no surprise that so many online versions are popping up. Groupon has over 50 million subscribers in 40 countries and 4,000 employees around the world, making it a perfect competitor for the lucrative Asian market.

Russian mobile operators stop WiMAX roll out

Late last week, Russian WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) operator Yota made a surprise move. The company said it will now deploy LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology as it continues its wireless broadband rollout. The operator had been an early WiMAX proponent and recently rolled out WiMAX service in Nicaragua and Peru.

Yota said that instead of moving ahead with its original plans to roll out WiMAX in 15 new markets, it will roll out TD-LTE in five new markets this year. In a press release Yota’s CEO, Denis Sverdlov said, “Yota is a services company; for us technology is an instrument. It’s clear that the LTE standard is becoming the main trend in wireless communications.” TD-LTE is widely used in China, but is relatively rare in North America.

In the US, since it was founded by cell phone entrepreneur Craig McCaw, Clearwire has been the major proponent of WiMAX. During Clearwire’s start up, McCaw convinced Intel to put in $600 million to back his ideas for a worldwide implementation of WiMAX. Intel’s plans were to offer WiMAX chipsets in all of its laptops. Along the way, Clearwire and Sprint had an on-again, off-again relationship. In 2008, that relationship evolved into Sprint’s majority stake in Clearwire. Sprint now resells Clearwire’s WiMAX infrastructure. Sprint recently announced its Android based , HTC Evo 4G WiMAX capable smartphone for shipment later this summer.

Last fall, it was estimated that Clearwire could need up to $3 billion in new funding to complete its current build out plans covering 120 million potential customers by the end of next year. That funding was expected to come from Sprint Nextel, which owns 51 percent of Clearwire, and the rest likely to be from either its cable partners or possibly from T-Mobile USA. Clearwire has WiMAX live in 27 markets while LTE hasn’t launched yet commercially in the US. However, Verizon and AT&T have committed to LTE for 2011.

Last year at Intel’s IDF keynote speech, David Perlmutter, VP of Intel’s mobility group, said in part: “We have (WiMAX) networks being built in North America, in Russia, in Japan … We are building with our partners’ networks in other places like India, Malaysia, Taiwan. And many, many other places have all sorts of mobile and fixed WiMAX all over the globe.”

Just a few weeks ago, Intel and Clearwire revised their WiMAX technology agreement giving Clearwire the option of also adopting LTE. The original Intel agreement required Clearwire to exclusively use WiMAX. Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said Clearwire had not made any decisions regarding LTE. But, it has an RFP (Request For Proposal) that has many options including how to run both LTE and WiMAX on the same network.

The Indian WiMAX market was, up until recently, looked at as one of the easy prizes for WiMAX to win. Last week after 34 days of 183 rounds of bidding, India concluded the auction of its 3G mobile spectrum. This week, the next phase of India’s BWA (broadband wireless access) is in full swing. The contenders for the 4G spectrum are companies backing either LTE or WiMAX. Earlier this year everybody thought WiMAX would take home most of India’s 4G BWA spectrum. Now, maybe not.

Yota’s decision may have a profound impact on India’s 4G auction. Monday’s RCR Wireless has an excellent analysis of the Indian BWA. They said that, “What looked like a sure thing for WiMAX, suddenly looks anything but …”

Professor Willie Lu, Director of US Center for Wireless Communications in Palo Alto, California, has been a leader in mobile radio theory. Lu has six axioms of wireless communications. The first is “No single Radio Transmission Technology (RTT) can do both Broadband High-speed and Seamless Mobility in a commercial environment.” The background of “Lu’s Laws” will be fully explained at an upcoming conference in San Francisco.  

Yota’s decision can be seen as the next evolutionary step as more and more wireless carriers are moving in the direction of 4G dual-mode topology. However, Intel might see it as poking a hole in its WiMAX life raft.