Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New IRS rules on Foreign Holdings, Life Insurance Policies, Pensions

When one country is running out of funds, the government will find various ways (methods) to get more $$$ from taxpayers such as, increasing income tax and service tax (or also known as sales tax), proposing unnecessarily big projects worth of multimillion or multibillion of dollars, increasing fares/ticket charges for public transportation, tourist attraction sites, parking sites, highway tolls etc.

Throughout the years, all the U.S. taxpayers (including foreign workers working in the USA) have to declare all their savings accounts in overseas countries. Under the latest tax regulations 2011, the U.S. taxpayers have to declare their foreign stock holdings, life insurance policies and pensions outside the USA. This will affect those U.S taxpayers who withdraw money from foreign stock holdings, pensions or life insurance in overseas countries as they need to declare the withdrawal as part as their 'incomes' when they submit their income tax. In other words, the U.S. taxpayers have to pay extra taxes due to withdrawal of these 'incomes' from overseas countries.

Do you think it's fair? I don't think at all.. We are just normal working people who have contributed and declared taxes as required by the US government. The government should divert their attention to rich corporations or wealthy people who tend to run away from the tax regulations.

New IRS rules demand more info on foreign holdings

(Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of U.S. taxpayers must reveal for the first time detailed information about foreign stock holdings, pensions and life insurance policies, under new U.S. Internal Revenue Service rules detailed on Monday.

The new requirements may present legal risks for U.S. taxpayers living in countries with broad or vague privacy laws, said international tax experts.

Designed by Congress to snare tax dodgers with funds stashed abroad, the new rules are also likely to hit unsuspecting immigrants and first-generation Americans. Even tax preparers may be caught off guard.
"The days of the secret, offshore trust are over," said Richard Luthmann, a lawyer in New York who said he is working with clients from India and Canada on tax disclosure.

The rules are "really hitting a lot of unsophisticated persons with international ties," he said.
The IRS on Monday published nine pages of instructions for filling out a new form that taxpayers must file with 2011 tax returns due on April 15, 2012. The exact number of taxpayers affected is unclear, but is in the hundreds of thousands.

The new form applies to U.S. taxpayers living in the United States with at least $50,000 in assets abroad as of December 31, and to Americans living abroad with at least $200,000 in assets.

Taxpayers who duck the new reporting requirement could face up to $50,000 in penalties.

U.S. taxpayers have always had to pay tax on foreign income. The new requirements are likely to expose income that in the past has been hidden from IRS view, intentionally or not.

The IRS is "out in virgin territory" with these regulations, said Charles Bruce, an attorney with the Bonnard Lawson International Law Firm.

"The degree of complexity is extraordinary for a form aimed at individuals. Few people will be able to fill out this form without hiring a return preparer or making a lot of mistakes."

The new disclosure rules are part of 2010's Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

Under the new rules, taxpayers must disclose foreign stock and bond holdings; foreign pensions that start to pay out when the taxpayer reaches retirement age; and hedge fund and private equity accounts. Foreign assets held by a U.S. institution, like shares of a foreign company managed by a U.S. mutual fund, are not subject to the reporting requirements.

Foreign real estate is also exempt, though taxpayers owning foreign property through a company or a trust must disclose.

Individual reporting requirements will be followed in 2013 by requirements for financial institutions to release account holder information to the IRS. With the two data streams, IRS will be able to cross reference information, said Stanley Ruchelman, a tax-planning lawyer in New York.

The IRS "expects to receive the same information from two difference sources" to "ensure that each one is reporting correctly," he said.

FATCA is getting a harsh reception abroad.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, in a September letter to U.S. and Canadian media outlets, said the FATCA requirements "would turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians."

Foreign banks may decide to drop U.S. customers rather than submit information to the IRS, experts said.
FATCA's individual reporting requirements may be problematic for some U.S. expatriates. Revealing too much information about business associates could break the law in some countries, but that does not mean the IRS will let expatriates off the hook.

"You've got to face this issue of, do I face the U.S. penalty or do I face a criminal sanction in the country where I live? That's pretty harsh," said Laurie Hatten-Boyd, a principal with the Big Four accounting firm KPMG LLP.

Such a scenario could arise, she said, with a swap where the counterparty is a foreign entity. The new IRS form demands disclosure of a swap counterparty's name and mailing address.

(Reporting By Patrick Temple West in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

(Source: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/irs-rules-demand-more-foreign-holdings-192643633.html)

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Friday, December 16, 2011

IT (Information Technology) Bill Kills Malaysia Future

In early 1990s, the former Malaysia Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad launched the Multimedia Super Corridor at Cyberjaya, Malaysia (which adopted from Silicon Valley), he assured the people and foreign investors that Malaysia would never censor the Internet (or free internet censorship). However, recently, the Malaysia Government and the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation (Mosti) propose a drafted Computer Professional Bill which require all the professionals and companies from Information Technology (IT) industry to register with the government before they are allowed to work and offer services within their specialised areas, as defined by the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure guidelines. As such, the government's proposal for the Board of Computing Professionals Bill has provoked a lot of anger and protest among the Malaysian IT professionals in the facebook page.

These are some comments/opinions from New law puts noose around computer techies:

The unrest among computer techies is reflected in a blog article by writer Erna Mahyuni » Killing techies the Malaysian way in which she said:
In other words, if I don’t register, it is technically illegal for me to even email ANY MALAYSIAN with even an IDEA for a tech-related project. It would be against the law for me to even sketch, on a napkin, my idea for a new app while having coffee with someone.
   Want to know the hilarious part? The country with a bill nearly identical to ours is…Nigeria. So we’re taking a leaf out of their book? Brilliant, Malaysia, totally brilliant.

Dinesh Nair, computer security expert, said on Twitter:
When you outlaw computing professionals, only outlaws will be computing professionals.
I just typed " main {printf("hello, world\n")}". I may have committed a crime if the passes.

Malaysia is regarded as several nations badly affected by ‘brain drain’. World Bank figures estimate the number of Malaysian migrants rose by more than 100-fold within a 45-year period, from 9,576 in 1960 to 1,489,168 in 2005. In the past two years, the Malaysia government works closely with  TalentCorp Malaysia to offer some attractive benefits and opportunities to lure global talents and Malaysians abroad to return and work in Malaysia. However, there's not much positive feedback can be seen from the meetings with Malaysians abroad each time. Many of them are still concern about the political, education and religious issues in Malaysia. Beside that, some are concern about the difficulty to get their work permits and PR visas  for their families if they plan to return home. On top of that, many Malaysians and foreign investors are still skeptical and may be affected with frequent amended regulations by the Malaysia government.

Malaysia keeps losing more talented human capital to its neighbouring country, Singapore each year. As Singapore economy is booming and growing stronger in the Southeast Asia region, more Malaysian graduates migrate to Singapore for better job opportunities. If Malaysia government decides to continue implementing the Computer Professional Bill, we foresee many giant and foreign IT companies will be moving their businesses and technologies out of the Multimedia Super Corridor.  Implementing the Computer Professional Bill does not attract the IT companies and foreign investors to Malaysia due to too many complicated regulations and limited areas to grow. As such, the Malaysia government will not only losing its income revenue from IT companies but also losing MORE human resources to its competitive and neighbouring countries like, Singapore and Indonesia for better packages and less complicated regulations from these governments.


DAP: Computing Bill may stifle freedom of speech

By Susan Loo  12 December 2011  Source: Free Malaysiakini

DAP has warned that the Computing Professionals Bill 2011 (CPB) proposed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) may be abused to stifle freedom of speech.
In a statement today, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua pointed out that CPB is an attempt by the ministry to regulate all “computing services” provided to entities or persons related to the “critical national information infrastructure” (CNII).
NONEAccording to Pua (left), the Bill defines ‘computing services’ as any services provided to ‘plan, architect, design, create, develop, implement, use and manage information technology systems’.
“Based on this definition, the scope of such services would cover anything from designing websites to the setting up of computer servers to the design and development of any computer products – whether software or hardware.
“In fact, one would easily classify the setting up of blogs and news portals, or even use of Facebook and Twitter accounts as being covered under ‘computing services’,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.
On the other hand, CNII, he said, is defined as ‘those assets, systems and functions that are vital to the nation that their incapacity or destruction would have a devastating impact on national economic strength or national image or national defence and security or government capability to function or public health and safety’.
“CNII could hence cover any entity in the government, financial institutions and government linked companies.
“What is absolutely frightening is that the definition would also cover all the way to any website, portal or information technology application which could have a detrimental impact on the ‘national image’ or deemed to hurt the ‘government’s capability to function’,” said Pua.
The Oxford graduate was a chief executive officer of an e-business consulting company before he joined politics in 2007.
Damaging consequences
The Bill also states that any ambiguity in the law shall be determined by the 15-member Board of Computing Professionals (BCP) appointed at the sole discretion of the minister, and subjected only to the minister’s approval.
NONEContrary to the clarification statement made by Mosti, which claimed that the Bill does not restrict the practise of “computing services” and is only limited to CNII, Pua claimed that the Bill has pervasive and damaging consequences not only on the information technology industry, but also infringes on key government commitments under the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees.
The Bill of Guarantees has promised ‘unrestricted employment of knowledge workers’ and ‘no censorship of the Internet’.
However, Pua said that the CPB will clearly restrict the hiring of knowledge workers by necessitating registration, and could be used to register, regulate and restrict the activities of individuals or corporations to publish news reports or those who use Facebook, Twitter or other similar applications with the excuse of protecting the ‘national image’.
“It is clear that the flimsily drafted CPB has the Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ fingerprints all over it,” he stressed.
He further explained that the information technology and computing industry has been operating without controversy, issues or impediment over the past decades.
Hence there is absolutely no bureaucratic requirement to restrict and control the industry, he said.
Pua will  attend the CPB Open Day organised by Mosti tomorrow at Putrajaya to hear the ministry’s clarifications on the Bill, and to submit the relevant points of objection.

(Source: http://www.freemalaysiakini.com/?p=6439)

IT Bill may be dumped after outrage

Stakeholders can propose alternatives to boost industry, says deputy minister
Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani  Source: Malay Mail
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 10:11:00

PUTRAJAYA: The controversial Computing Professionals Bill 2011, meant to regulate certification of computer professionals and firms, may not see the light of day.
Faced with mounting outrage by Malaysian professionals since the draft surfaced online last week, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) has conceded the proposal could be abandoned altogether.

The deputy minister, Datuk Fadillah Yusof, said stakeholders can propose an alternate mechanism to help boost the local industry.
“We are facilitating requests by industry players and the academia. Nothing is firm yet. This is only the first sessions to get feedback," he told reporters.
“This body can be any mechanism depending on what the stakeholders want. You must have certain standards or you won’t be up to par with international standards. The government is not controlling but only facilitating."
The ministry held an open day at its headquarters yesterday to gauge feedback from IT professionals.
However, the panellists received a rude awakening from frustrations expressed by the participants.
Datuk Halimah Badioze Zaman from the National Professors Council, alternate chairman of the Higher Education Ministry’s task force on ICT human resource Prof Zaharin Yusoff, Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry, Malaysia (Pikom) president Shaifubahrim Saleh and Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC) president Datuk Raja Malik Mohamed were members of the panel.

However, ministry representatives were missing from the panel. Ministry officials later told The Malay Mail it was not responsible for the Bill but only a vehicle to drive it forward.
The Bill aimed to establish a board known as the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP), which would certify the quality of individuals and firms to tender for the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) projects.
According to the Bill, CNII projects dealt with Malaysia's “national economic strength or national image or national defence and security or government capability to function or public health and safety".

Yesterday, during the open day, various groups raised concerns over the ambiguous language used in the draft and what exactly was CNII.
 Many also questioned why IT professionals were not represented in the Bill’s drafting and ldescribed the draft committee as an exclusive club.
The panellists kept reassuring the groups the Bill would not make registration compulsory and regulation was only confined to those involved in the CNII projects.
Shaifubahrim said the committee met more than 50 times over two-and-a-half years to revise the Bill for the interest of the stakeholders and providing an “opportunity” for public feedback.
“CNII is only a small aspect of the Bill and not big. We don’t need to harp on this because there will be more rounds for feedback after this. What matters is our national image."
Halimah also pleaded with the public to give the Bill a chance and forgo personal interests.
“You have to see it in a positive light. We are looking at this for the future. We have looked at this Bill for two-and-a-half years and you are looking at it just now," she said.
“We want you on board to help us."


IT professionals unclear over legislation

IT professionals
IT professionals are still unclear over the Computing Professionals Bill 2011 and the need for the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP) to certify individuals and firms that qualify to tender for the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) projects.
1. Y.R.C. Jaya, 24, software engineer: “I am worried for my friends who are not holding a general degree. How could they survive with the BCP?
“I don’t think the Bill would be cancelled, I am sure all of us here know about it but it is better to be controlled. At least you can specify the board’s power and it can only make a decision based on the community’s gathering.”
2. Swee Meng, 27, software engineer: “The issue here is everything falls under CNII, so what do we have left? Everybody has to register with CNII in the end despite registration not being compulsory. I also feel it is unfair to those without degrees because some of them are more competent than the degree holders.
“I am against the Bill but it might be too late.”
3. Goh Choon Ming, 23, System Engineer: “Certification is just a piece of paper. What you need are proven track records, skills and experience because anyone can have a certificate. I can sit for a paper and just ask for a project without any experience.
“I am against the Bill because the root problem is our education system and not the industry. It is not too early to pull it out because we are happy with what we have now. We don’t need certificates to be successful.”
4. Chua Kai Yeong, 37, software engineer: “The Bill does not state what impact it will have on the IT profession. CNII’s definition is also broad. We must have a clearer vision and scope of BCP.
“I don’t agree with the Bill because it is vague. If they can prove the Bill can help take the industry to another level then we can start talking but I still cannot see what good the Bill will do for the industry. Despite the open day today, I am still not clear what the Bill is all about.”
5. Wong Hong Yih, 35, software engineer: “They need to refine the scope for the BCP because no one knows what it is for, especially CNII. The vagueness of their own Bill makes it sound as if anyone who makes a living by using computers will have to register, and that those who don't will be deemed as illegal workers."
“I understand why there is need for BCP, such as the board of engineers. However I am worried the ministry seems to have the sole discretion on revoking and appointing board members, it should be viewed more  independently."
“I can still see why this Bill is a good thing but not for all the reasons they have stated. I don’t think it will play an instrumental role in raising the bar for the IT profession but in terms of security measures for critical systems, then yes.”


Singapore will benefit, says Tee Yong greatly

THE Computing Professionals Bill 2011 will not help boost the local IT industry but instead squeeze the already shrinking talent pool to neighbouring countries.
MCA’s Young Professionals Bureau chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong reiterated the party’s opposition against the proposed Bill and said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) must "step backwards" by consulting with IT professionals.
“I think if this Bill were to go through, the happiest people will be our neighbouring countries because they will be able to attract more talent and it will definitely reduce our competitiveness in the region," he told reporters at a Press conference at the Computing Professionals Bill 2011 open day yesterday.
"The main neighbouring countries to benefit are Singapore and Indonesia. Actually, Indonesia is trying to grow its IT industry because, like in any developing country, IT is now synonymous with every industry."
Chua said the Bill would drive away talent and stifle Malaysia's economic growth.
He disagreed with the ministry’s assertions the Bill would help the employment of IT graduates in Malaysia and believed it would result in more unemployment instead.
“For example, if my company is involved in a CNII project, but there is a good guy who can help but is not  certified, then I can’t hire him,” he said.
The Computing Professionals Bill aims to establish a board, known as the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP), which will certify individuals and firms that qualify to tender for the CNII projects.
DAP publicity chief Tony Pua told reporters earlier the Bill would not provide a “conducive” environment for local talents to innovate new ideas.
“In fact, implementation of such a Bill will only lead to an exodus of talent in Malaysia because they will find the environment substantially more conducive in other countries to pursue their computing dreams," he said.
“Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and hundreds of others ... their successes were based precisely on an environment which encouraged unrestrained creativity, breeding innovation without a leash.”

(Source: http://www.mmail.com.my/content/87281-it-bill-may-be-dumped-after-outrage?quicktabs_2=0)


Malaysia aims for hi-tech future

Groupon lounge area for staff to relax and play video games  
Replicating the success of Silicon Valley is about more than just looking and sounding the same
Entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley say all it takes is one success story to spawn a startup culture.
 As such, Groupsmore may be Malaysia's poster child.
"We have a million subscribers and even my mom uses it," says Joel Neoh, the 28-year-old head of the Malaysian internet trading firm that was recently acquired by the US-based internet giant Groupon for an undisclosed amount.
The idea behind Groupsmore - or Groupon Malaysia as it is now called - is simple: buying in bulk yields better discounts.
Mr Neoh's company asks local businesses to offer discounts, sometimes up to 90%, in return for a certain guaranteed number of customers. The deals are activated once enough people agree to buy online.
"We've made Groupon a household name in Kuala Lumpur," says Mr Neoh.
GroupsMore's staff has grown from eight to 120 in about a year, and the growth is set to continue with plans in place to expand beyond Kuala Lumpur into states across Malaysia.

Joel Neoh, head of Groupon Malaysia speaking with budding entrepreneurs at the tech conference  
Attracting clever and creative staff is not easy, according to Groupon's Malaysian boss

"It's about building the ecosystem around people," says Mr Neoh, "not so much about building towers and good looking buildings and fast internet infrastructure.
'Quality people'
  Groupsmore's success as a home-grown start-up company is deemed inspiring by the Malaysian government, so it is eager to replicate it as part of efforts to shift towards a knowledge-based economy.
But it may not be as easy as it looks, according to Mr Neoh.
During the company's early phase, before the Groupon acquisition, it was difficult to recruit the right people, he says.
"All of the smartest people I studied with were in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia," he says.
"So the scene here is a lack of quality people."
Jawed Karim, the co-founder of YouTube, agrees that it may well be difficult to replicate Silicon Valley's success here in Malaysia.
"What makes Silicon Valley the innovation centre it is are the types of creative minds who set up there," he says.
"Without that pool of talent, it's hard to attract more.
"Even the United States has been unable to replicate a Silicon Valley outside of California."
Brain drain
  In Malaysia's case, the problem appears to be brain drain caused by a controversial policy based on race, according to the World Bank.
Historically, Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent have tended to be richer than the ethnic Malay-majority.

Groupon Malaysia offices  
Malaysia is offering incentives for clever people to return from abroad

In an effort to address this, the government has prioritised Malays when allocating university scholarships and government contracts.
Opposition parties say this policy has made Chinese and Indian Malaysians feel like second class citizens, so many of them have left.
Some 300,000 highly educated ethnic minorities left Malaysia during the last decade, according to the World Bank.
Government reliance
Malaysia's government is now actively trying to recruit these people back by offering incentives such as tax breaks and long-term employment visas for foreign spouses.
They are also trying to retain talent by tailoring the training in universities to ensure employers get the kind of skills they need.
At the same time, the government has come up with various initiatives to fund and drive the hi-tech sector.
This might seem like a good initiative, but such reliance on the government is instead part of the problem, according to Low Huoi Seong of content provider Vision New Media.
"The government has been expected to do too much or government is expecting itself to do too much," he says.

Tomorrow's inventors
  In spite of such gloom, Asia's potential is great, according to venture capitalist Saad Khan from Silicon Valley-based CMEA Capital.
Asia is already leading in gaming and virtual goods, so the next growth market will be the delivery of goods and services in a region where millions of people are just entering the middle class, he says.
"I don't think that innovation is going to come from the US," he says.
"I think it will come from places like here [in Asia] where you're up close and personal, where you know the people, where you know how to sell low cost cell phones, and where you know how to manufacture from that perspective.
"I know the next generation of success is not going to be in the [Silicon] Valley," he says.

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15475735)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mass Riot by Wukan Villagers Against Authorities

This is a big news crisis, which is currently happened in Wukan, China. Unfortunately, all the media (television, newspapers, internet and radio) in China are being censored from reporting this big issue. The media in China is controlled by the government. So far, only foreign news agencies such as the BBC World News and Al Jazeera English are reporting this massive riot in Wukan, China.

On 10 December 2011, with over 8,000 villagers at Wukan Mass Protest demanded the release of villagers who had been arrested. The Wukan villagers held banners with the wording "Down with corrupt officials," "Return my farm lands", intercepting roads to protest, asking for the immediate release
of arrested village representatives, and requested for a thorough investigation into corrupt officials. 
(Source: China Forbidden News)

Chinese village besieged after protests
Police seal off roads and food supplies to village in southern province after rallies against government land seizures.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2011 05:19   Source: Al Jazeera English
Footage of protests showed villagers shouting: "Down with corrupt officials" [YouTube]

A standoff between villagers and police is continuing in southern China, where police have sealed
off the village of Wukan in an attempt to quell an uprising, witnesses say.
Villagers have taken control of the town after staging protests over government land seizures and
the death of a village leader in police custody last week.
In response, authorities have cut off food supplies to the village of about 20,000 people in Guangdong province.
A journalist in the village told Al Jazeera that Wednesday was the fourth straight day of the siege,
with no signs that the villagers would budge.
"Police tried to retake the village on Sunday with a thousand armed police firing teargas and water
cannons at villagers," Malcolm Moore of the British Daily Telegraph newspaper said.
"But villagers stood firm and police fell back to form a cordon around the village, now basically
choking off all supplies of food and water, waiting for the village to surrender.
"There are no police or government officials left in the village. All of them have been driven out
by angry villagers."
Moore said he was told by locals that they had about 10 days of food supplies left and had no
intention of giving up their resistance.

Violent protests
Tensions rose in September when protests by hundreds of villagers over a land dispute turned violent,
with residents smashing buildings, overturning vehicles and clashing with police.
Residents complained that their farmland was sold by local officials to developers to build factories
without their consent.
On Sunday, Xue Jinbo, a man accused of participating in the September land protest, died in
police custody, further angering residents, who suspected he was beaten.
Chinese media reported that local police and provincial authorities said Xue died of cardiac failure.
The local seaport has been blocked, and residents said they were prevented from fishing.
Villager Qiu Yankun said even children who would normally have gone to school in a nearby town
were staying at home because the school buses were not allowed to enter the village.
Amateur video posted online on Monday showed hundreds of villagers gathered for a protest, shouting "Down with corrupt officials" and "Give us back our land".
Land disputes have grown apace, becoming one of the leading causes of the tens of thousands of
large-scale protests that hit China every year.
Around Wukan village and in much of the rest of Guangdong province, conflicts have been intense
because the area is among China's most economically developed, pushing up land prices.


Wukan unrest: Why do Chinese farmers riot?

15 December 2011 Last updated at 06:05 ET 

Undated handout picture taken by a villager shows Wukan residents carrying a banner saying "democratic appeal can hardly be illegal rally"  
Images supplied by villagers show large rallies in Wukan

The protest that has erupted in a village in China's Guangdong province has grabbed headlines around the world, but the issues at the heart of the dispute are alarmingly commonplace.
Every year, China is plagued by tens of thousands of "mass incidents" - a catch-all phrase that the government uses to describe riots, protests and strikes.
Many are about land rights. Villagers often accuse local officials of taking their land without offering proper compensation.
But corruption in local government - an issue China's top leaders readily admit to - is only one part of the problem.
China's property laws also seem to create conflict because they largely deprive farmers of the right to control the land they work.
And if there are disagreements, they can easily result in angry demonstrations, organised by villagers who often feel they have no other option.
The stand-off between local people and the authorities in the village of Wukan over land rights is a common dispute.
Some believe the central problem is that there is no private land ownership in China - it is all, in effect, owned by the government.
Farmers are simply allocated land for a set period of time.
Eva Pils, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said this puts too much power in the hands of local governments.
"This can lead to corruption and abuse of power," said Ms Pils, who has studied the issue.
Revenue stream One problem is the level of compensation given to farmers for expropriated land, which is based on the amount of money a farmer can earn from it - not on the higher value local officials get when they sell it.
Ms Pils said some Chinese researchers have estimated that villagers can get as little as 5% of the value of the land in compensation.

Residents sit next to a banner outside the city government building during a protest in Lufeng on 21 November  
Farmers often feel they have no choice but to protest about their grievances
This seems an obvious source of discontent among villagers.
But persuading local governments not to sell off farmland is tricky, partly because they get so much of their income from it.
Economists estimate land sales account for up to a third of local government revenue.
Disputes rife Some local authorities, such as in the city of Chengdu, have begun programmes that give farmers more legal rights over farmland.
This allows them to benefit if their land is earmarked for development.
China's land ministry believes this is a key part of protecting farmers' rights.
"The lack of legal proof on rural land ownership has left farmers' interests poorly protected," said an article on this issue published by China's state-run news agency Xinhua.
The ministry uncovered 37,000 cases of illegal land use in China in the first nine months of this year, according to Xinhua.
But why do so many land disputes result in conflict with the authorities?
The answer to that question may lie in China's determination to maintain social stability by cracking down on anyone who could undermine it.
The Communist Party believes this is an essential tool in maintaining power.
Rigid stability Yu Jianrong, one of China's leading rural researchers, said that in many cases this means "normal expressions of public will are branded as illegal behaviour".
Farmers who complain about land grabs often find no sympathy from the local authorities, the courts or the police - and sometimes are themselves accused of stirring up trouble.
"Rigid stability is about defining absolute social calm as the objective of governance," wrote Mr Yu in an article carried by the China Media Project, a Hong-Kong-based centre that monitors the media in China.
"[The authorities see] each and every act of resistance as disorder and chaos, all to be struck down and suppressed through whatever means possible."
In these circumstances it is not hard to see how minor disputes over land can quickly spiral out of control.
It is difficult to calculate exactly how many "mass incidents" occur in China every year because the government is reluctant to release figures.
A report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released this year quoted figures of up to 60,000 a year, but it only referred to data for the decade between 1993 and 2003.
Other Chinese academics suggest there could have been up to 180,000 mass incidents last year.
Whatever the figures, the fact that the government is coy about releasing them suggests they are embarrassingly high.

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16193089)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chinese Graduates Fight for Government Jobs

This is happening in China only. Majority of young graduates do not wish to work for their governments in their countries. Chinese young graduates adore to work in government sectors more than working in private sectors. REASON... It's not because of good salaries but simply because of the job security and better benefits offered.

A cushy job for life
Global Times | December 05, 2011 20:35
By Zhang Zhilong

Civil service hopefuls wait to take the national civil service exam in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. Photo: CFP

Last week Wang Zhong was just one of a million but he's hoping, yet again, to become one of this year's lucky 18,000.

Wang, 34, took the national civil service exams for the fifth consecutive year in the hope of finally landing a stable, cushy job with a central government department.

He had failed to pass the test three times and made it to the interview stage just once before flunking out at that level too.

The national civil service exams, or guokao, held on November 27, attracted 970,000 test takers who are vying for just 18,000 positions that are available for open recruitment.

With jobs potentially available for just one in 54 of those who write the test, Wang tried to maximize his chances by applying for a job with the Department of Rural Economy & Management under the Ministry of Agriculture.

His four failed attempts were for jobs with various departments with the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Wang's not sure how he did on this year's exam - the results aren't out yet - but he's hoping he can finally meet family expectations which keep pressuring him to keep trying.

The brass ring he's reaching for comes with a lot of prestige even if the job he might get lands him near the bottom rung of the rank and file.

The national public service exams were started in 1994 but many people see them as a reincarnation of the ancient imperial exams, which if passed would result in a summons from the emperor to join his court.

The modern day exams are designed by the central government to find the best of the best test-takers and to provide an "in" to those who are complete outsiders to government.

Wang has a mixed bag of sometimes contradictory reasons for wanting to join the national civil service.

"It fits my personal ambition and I would acquire social status. It would also give me a stable income and a lifestyle without stress," said Wang.

Wang has worked for lower levels of government for five years and in September he landed a job with the Guangzhou Urban Redevelopment Office in Guangdong Province. Still he feels his dream job exists somewhere in the vast bureaucracy of the national government.

"I'm satisfied with my current job but it's still far from my expectations such as being close to power and working conditions," said Wang, who believes working in a national government office will provide job satisfaction even if he ends up in a mundane position without much room for advancement.

Job security and a stable life

"There is nothing special about being an ordinary government worker and it doesn't mean leading an official's extravagant life," said Wang, adding that it's important for new government workers to keep their heads down, not make waves and not be in a hurry to be promoted.

Li Bing, an undergraduate who graduated from China University of Political Science and Law in 1999, is also trying to get into the "system" and took last week's exams.

After 12 years in the private sector, 33-year-old Li said his parents pressed him into taking the exams for the sake of his future "stability."

He quit his last job a year ago so he could prepare for the exams and help a friend with his business. For the last four months, however, he's concentrated on studying for the big test.

He bought text books and the previous year's tests which he thought would provide good examples of the types of questions he would face.

Li didn't enroll in any of the many available and costly courses that teach civil service candidates how to pass the national exams.

Zhonggong Education claims it trained 50,000 exam takers this year up 20 percent from last year. The private trainer offers courses costing between 300 and 20,000 yuan ($46 and 3,092).

Zhonggong's CEO, Li Yongxin, said his company has taken up 50 percent of the training schools market across the country.

Li says 75 to 80 percent of those who enroll in his courses are recent university graduates and that 15 to 20 percent pass the test and land government jobs.

He says people's ideas about career advancement are changing and landing a government job started to become more popular in 2007.

"In the past, studying for a master's or PhD was valued, but now a job with security is seen as the best choice," said Li.

Despite his prepping efforts Li the test taker isn't all that confident he'll pass onto the next stage in the employment competition and get called for an interview. He said the multiple choice questions on this year's test seemed more difficult than last year's.

Li thinks he passed the essay writing section, which asked him to write about hot social topics.

Exam takers are required to answer 135 multiple choice questions during the two-hour aptitude test which includes questions on logic, math and legal knowledge.

The two-and-a-half-hour essay section asked questions about controversial issues covered by the media over the last year. Li said this year's writing section included questions about the fake paintings of Xu Beihong, the debate over food safety standards and an old woman who fell.

Even before they took the national exams, potential candidates for government jobs had to meet the criteria established by the department offering a job.

Li applied for a law-related position with the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), which has only one position that it intends to fill from those who pass the exams.

"It's quite incidental that I applied for this position," said Li, who studied both computer science and law, but only obtained his bachelor's in law.

Li's work experience includes stints with IBM, Fancrown Electronic Technology and other large companies but he believes his dream job lies within the central government's bureaucracy.

Li was also qualified to take the exam for a position with the Administration of Sport of China, but chose SASAC as it required only a Bachelor's of Law and two years' work experience.

Some of the positions available to those taking the national exams don't require membership in the Party and are open to college graduates who have completed work assignments such as the "village official" program which sends grads to remote places to work with local officials for a couple of years.

A strategy for advancement

If he ever manages to land a job in the central government Wang said he has a strategy that will keep him there.

"What counts is developing a relationship with a boss who is on the rise. You must be obedient and cooperative. Promotions aren't dependent on one's own effort," said Wang.

Wang's ideas about how to succeed are widely held by many who believe good marks on the national exams won't guarantee advancement.

Even Professor Zhu Lijia with the Chinese Academy of Governance sounds cynical about how promotions are handed out and work performance awards are granted.

"I'm a model worker and a bonus winner, so why do I need to be good" at my job, said Zhu, referring to the slacker attitude of many government employees.

Zhu wants to see the government run more like a meritocracy where promotions are based on job performance and seniority and those who are motivated and have innovative ideas are rewarded.

The national civil service exams have been in place for 17 years and Zhu says it's a relatively fair method of recruiting new blood into government even though the chances of landing a job have gone from slim to slimmer.

In 2002, one in 13 exam takers were able to secure a government job. That ratio dropped to one in 35 by 2005 and will likely be one in 59 in 2011, according to a CCTV report.

Zhu says there are several factors for the increasing popularity of the national civil service exams.

While the pay may not be that great, there is job security as few people who get "in" are ever forced out. There are also benefits and perks; a pension plan that's better than most, along with health and welfare benefits that can include housing.

Still it seems the prestige of working for a department connected to the nation's government remains a key attraction.

"Many people don't adore businessmen or professors," said Zhu.

(Source: http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/687204/A-cushy-job-for-life.aspx)

China's new graduates face fierce competition for jobs

A slowing economy is not the only problem that Chinese policymakers face.
With a dramatic rise in the number of those in higher education, many graduates are finding it tough to get the right job.
In the last decade, the number of students leaving university has increased almost six-fold.
While there are plenty of low-skilled jobs around, there are not enough jobs for graduates in the major cities, as Martin Patience reports from Beijing.

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16152372)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fox USA Lies & Uses Wrong Videotape on Moscow Protest (Source: RT)

This is a classic example about how a TV station uses its powerful tool to create negative perception of an issue or a country towards the audiences. News is supposed to be reported as genuine and neutral (based on true facts) without siding any parties. Unfortunately in today's world, every local and international news carries its own weight, whether it is worthy to be reported and does it bring advantage or disadvantage to the country and the government itself. Of course, every government (in every country) tries to hide and minimise in reporting too much of its negative local news to the people so that the people do not know much about the current issues and the truth about the country. All the governments love to use propaganda (keep reporting the worst situations which happen outside the country while covering as much of bad local news from the public.)

To learn more about the current issues of a country or your country, please do not rely on a news source. Try to read and watch as much news and documentaries from all kinds of the reliable sources in order to understand the situations before jumping into the conclusions.  

This is the actual video clip during the protest in Russia on 6 December 2011 (Source: Reuters)

FOX (USA News channel), lies & the wrong videotape: What’s NOT happening in Moscow

Published: 07 December, 2011, 23:10 (Source: Russia Today, RT)

With so much going on in the world today, one can see how easy it would be to get confused. Are those pictures of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan? Poverty in Somalia or Congo? And what’s a news program to do if there aren’t any good pictures?

So producers all over the world search, and talk to their own crews or news agencies who provide feeds for everyone, and find the best shots to grace their air time.

Or – in some cases – ANY shots that look more or less similar to the covered topic. Case in point: protests in Russia and the ever-blundering FOX News.

Yes, there are mass protests in Russia. Have been, since election day on Sunday. Thousands have been gathering to speak their mind and protest the election results. Yes, hundreds have been arrested. For two days in a row, and for various violations. Yes, there are reports of police brutality and no; right now it’s not possible to say whether they are true. It really does depend on the cops – much as it does anywhere else in the world. In New York, for example, some police officers will look the other way when you are filming somewhere you technically shouldn’t be; and others will detain you outside the United Nations building for no reason and refuse you your rights (and yes, all this did happen). Cops in Moscow are the same – some are nicer than others, while some appear to be almost looking for a fight.

Regardless of all this – yes, there are protests. But this, my friends, is NOT them.

Still shot from FOX news video coverage of "Russian" protests

Now, even though FOX news has kindly told us that this is, in fact, Moscow – as a Muscovite, one glance is enough to tell me it's NOT. First of all, the phone box – ours are a greyish-blue, and are few and between. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a public phone box, let alone anyone using it.

Secondly, the people in the background – the young couple pressed against the building? They’re dressed in jeans and long-sleeved tees.

It’s December. In RUSSIA. No one in their right mind would go to a rally (where most of the time, a lot of standing around is involved) in a tee shirt. People here wear thermals, ski jackets, hats and gloves – the works. Stereotypes are based on fact, you know – and Moscow is very cold in December.

But even if all of this isn’t enough to convince you – and believe me, I do not want you to just take my word for it, here is my final argument.

Close-up of the Greek National Bank sign/still shot from video

You may say ‘Hey, that looks Greek to me” – and you know what, you’ll be spot on. Greek it is – literally. And that sign? Says “National Bank of Greece” in those big, pretty, gold letters. FOX, it appears, isn’t satisfied with the REAL Russian rallies. They wanted a BANG! But there were no bangs, so I figure they thought “hey, it’s police running after people and fires and chaos – who on earth will be able to tell the difference?!” So they took videos from Athens, put a ‘’Russia” comment on screen – and voila, stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done.

How unfortunate that their broadcasts can be seen by pretty much anyone, anywhere.

I don’t harbor any hopes that the FOX people will see this and suddenly change their “errant ways”. But for the viewers – there are no palm trees in the streets of Moscow, the Prime Minister is spelled ‘PuTin’, not ‘PuTTin’ and the plural for ‘protester’ is ‘protesterS’. For future references.

Watch original clean AP footage of protests in Athens on December 6, 2011


(Source: http://rt.com/news/fox-moscow-fake-riots-281/)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Birth Tourism from China to HK

This is a similar situation, Birth Tourism in the U.S. which becomes a huge social problem in Hong Kong. Even though Hong Kong is ruled under the People's Republic of China (PRC) but Hong Kong is run under the principle of one country with two systems, where Hong Kong implements different political system from the Mainland China. In accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the underlying principle of one country, two systems, Hong Kong has a "high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region in all areas except defence and foreign affairs." The declaration stipulates that the region maintain its capitalist economic system and guarantees the rights and freedoms of its people for at least 50 years beyond the 1997 handover.  

Although Hong Kong is under the ruling of the Mainland China, the Chinese Government has tighten its control of the huge migration from the Mainland China to Hong Kong. The Mainland Chinese must carry the travel documents (visa) or stay permit in order to visit or stay in Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong doesn't practice one child policy, unlike in the Mainland China. Many wealthy Chinese parents are willing to pay up to US$14,000 per child, in order to deliver and get the ID cards for their babies in Hong Kong. Those Mainland Chinese families who can't afford the hefty fees, they will sneak and deliver illegally in Hong Kong. All these Mainland Chinese parents want to give the best education and benefits to their children when they attend elementary (primary) schools in Hong Kong or in the USA. Unfortunately, their motive develops a huge social and economic problem to Hong Kongese who contribute taxes to the Hong Kong Government but they enjoy too limited resources (in terms of medical and education benefits) since after the 1997 handover.


Hong Kong women protest against mainland mothers

Pregnant women and mothers pushing strollers were among more than 1,500 protesters who took to the streets in Hong Kong Sunday to oppose the growing number of mainland Chinese giving birth in the city.
Women from mainland China are keen to have babies in Hong Kong -- which has had semi-autonomous status since it ceased to be a British colony in 1997 -- because it entitles their child to rights of abode and education.
"We have to compete with the mainlanders for bedspace in hospitals, for prenatal care services, postnatal care, the education of our children... everything," said 30-year-old expectant mother Joyce Wong, who took part in the march to government headquarters.
Jenny Yeung, a 41-year-old paediatric nurse accused the city's government of being "incompetent" and said it "should prioritize Hong Kong people over non-locals".
Meanwhile on Sunday, chief executive of the Hong Kong's Hospital Authority Leung Pak-yin said some public hospitals have stopped accepting bookings by mainland mothers wishing to give birth in the city.
Hong Kong has reduced its quota for the number of mainland women allowed to give birth in its public hospitals this year. Leung said the government has yet to set the quota for 2013 but emphasised there will be another reduction.
The government has come under pressure after doctors made a rare public call for a cap on the number of babies delivered in the city because resources for local mothers are being stretched.

(Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/hong-kong-women-protest-against-mainland-mothers-220955473.html)

101 East Al Jazeera: Hong Kong: Mainland Invasion
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2011 14:12
Hong Kong's health and education services are being stretched to the limit by demand from mainland China.

Hong Kong is in demand. Over 20 million tourists from mainland China visit there every year, while tens of thousands of expectant Chinese mothers cross the border to give birth.

Attracted by a Hong Kong passport, which gives more freedom to live, work and travel, Chinese demand for a slice of Hong Kong is boosting the local economy, but stretching the city's health and education sectors to the limit.

Now, Hong Kong residents are calling for an end to what they say is an "invasion" from the mainland.