MyDIGITAL Alliance set up to transform Malaysia’s digital workforce
In an effort to build up Malaysia’s digital workforce, Microsoft and the Social and Economic Research Initiative (SERI) have formed a MyDIGITAL Alliance Leadership Council as part of the “Bersama Malaysia” initiative.
“As Malaysia accelerates its pace of digitalisation, there is a need for us to continually skill, reskill and upskill our local workforce. This is why, as part of the MyDIGITAL Alliance, we are working with SERI to identify transformative policies for education and skilling as core priorities to accelerate the development of Malaysia’s globally competitive digital workforce,” says K Raman, managing director of Microsoft Malaysia.
According to SERI CEO Dr Helmy Haja Mydin, the findings from the inaugural meeting are being compiled into a policy paper, which will be presented to the government. SERI is a think tank focused on reducing inequality intersecting technology and society within Malaysia.
“While the government plays a key role by shaping the vision and facilitating innovation, private sector, public sector, civil society, academia and the rakyat, young and old, must all come together to achieve the goals set out in the MyDIGITAL Blueprint,” says Helmy.
SERI is calling for ideas, opinions and recommendations from the public via email at [email protected], under the email subject title “MyDigital Alliance (Education and Employability)”.
Employees want flexible work arrangements, report indicates
New research conducted by Microsoft suggests that most workers in Malaysia want flexible working arrangements to continue post-pandemic, even as they crave more in-person time with their peers and teammates. Therefore, local business leaders should resist the urge to view current hybrid work arrangements as “business as usual”, and instead, rethink long-held assumptions about what work arrangements will look like in the future.
In Microsoft’s report titled “The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready?”, it called on business leaders to take note of some of the subtler ways in which the hybrid work movement might affect them and their businesses.
While the report found that business leaders on the whole fared much better during the pandemic than subordinates without decision-making power, it also noted how the emergence of hybrid work arrangements means employees will no longer have to leave their desks to expand their careers. This is particularly true of the local Gen Z employees who were surveyed, 57% of whom said they were likely to consider leaving their employers this year.
Superapp Grab tackles underemployment
Grab is committed to its mission to empower the domestic economy through its #TechUntukSemua programme. The tech company presented the programme to the National Employment Council recently to address the underemployment issue in Malaysia.
The programme has three key thrusts. First, it wants to enable persons with disabilities to find ways to earn alternative or additional income. Second, Grab hopes to simplify regulatory requirements for flexible earning opportunities. By doing this, it hopes to create 35,000 income opportunities by year-end.
Third, the company aims to empower traditional businesses to participate in the digital economy. Grab has pledged to continue to invest in creating awareness and visibility for local entrepreneurs, including those who run mom-and-pop stores, wet market traders and food court hawkers, by giving them tools to thrive in the digital economy.
Gojek, Tokopedia announce merger, now Indonesia’s largest tech company
Indonesian tech powerhouses Gojek and Tokopedia announced their merger recently, with the new entity to be referred to as the GoTo Group. The combined group is valued at roughly US$18 billion (RM74.26 billion).
Gojek’s co-CEO Andre Soelistyo will lead the new entity as group CEO, while Tokopedia’s Patrick Cao will serve as group president. William Tanuwijaya will continue in his present position as CEO of Tokopedia.
The deal comes after Gojek spent time exploring a merger with its Southeast Asian rival Grab.
Soelistyo hailed the move, calling it “the next phase of growth for Gojek, Tokopedia, and GoTo Financial”.
“Gojek drivers will deliver even more Tokopedia packages, merchant partners of all sizes will benefit from strengthened business solutions and we will use our combined scale to increase financial inclusion in an emerging region with untapped growth potential,” he added.
Existing investors, including Alibaba Group Holding, BlackRock, Facebook, Google, JD.com, KKR, Northstar, Pacific Century Group, Paypal, Sequoia Capital India, SoftBank, Temasek, Tencent and Visa, are said to have backed the merger.
e-book publisher calls for short stories and poems exploring the lives of minorities
Shuren Press, the country’s first independent e-book publisher, is calling for submission of short stories and poems exploring the lives of minorities titled “Minority Blues”.
The newly launched publishing house, which specialises in literature and poetry, is on the lookout for content on less-explored narratives.
“We want to examine the ways in which people of different races and social classes co-exist, and imagine new possibilities for a better future together. Whether it be a story about triumph or tragedy, the beautiful or the ugly — we want to read your submission!
“A minority can be from a racial group or lower social class that is displaced to the margins of society — like the Rohingya. Additionally, there are sexual minorities with orientations and genders that are different from the heterosexual majority. At the same time, a minority can also be an expat living a life of full privilege. The list goes on,” says the publisher.
While submissions should be primarily in English, Shuren Press adds that budding writers need not restrict themselves to proper and accurate grammar. “Do not be ashamed of the unique pidgin English we speak in Malaysia. If the work is good and shows potential, we will be here to help you with any edits.”
Short stories should be 1,000 to 5,000 words, while poetry entries should be in a set of three to five poems. Writers are encouraged to send in as many stories and poems as they like and email all works to [email protected].
Payment will be finalised once all the selected entries are decided on. For more information, visit https://www.instagram.com/shurenpress/.
Telenor Denmark’s CFO moves to Digi
Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd has appointed Otto Risbakk as its new chief financial officer, succeeding Inger Gloersen Folkeson on Aug 1.
Risbakk, who is currently the CFO of Telenor Denmark, has been working for the Telenor Group for 13 years. Before becoming CFO, he was the senior vice-president for mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Telenor, he held several finance leadership positions in aluminium and renewable energy company Norsk Hydro, including CFO of its automotive division and vice-president of its international business development.
Folkeson, who is returning to Norway, joined Digi in March 2019, and has been with Telenor Group since August 2007. As CFO, she has strengthened Digi’s growth and operational efficiency focus and overseen vital finance transformation initiatives.
Language used by non-English-speaking companies to list their products on Amazon that has been described as awkward but basically intelligible, redundant but highly searchable. According to Peter Hessler in his article titled “Manufacturing Diplomacy” in The New Yorker, the product descriptions employing some version of Amazonglish have just enough linguistic accuracy to sail past a computer’s grammar check.
An example would be Zocavia (a Chinese shoe brand): “Your feet can breathe easy in the latest iteration of fabric upper.”
‘Breaking news: I was just deplatformed on ALL platforms: ALL my Facebook pages and groups and even my personal page totaling millions. All my Instagram pages including my public page. No violations. Everything gone. Even my aunt who is my assistant. They took her page!!!!!!!’
Facebook banned the account of Erin Elizabeth, one of the biggest spreaders of anti-vax content who has profited from sharing disinformation targeting Bill Gates’ role in the Covid-19 vaccines and the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.
Elizabeth, who runs a prominent alternative health site called Health Nut News, was named as one of the ‘disinformation dozen’ in a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
Counting: How We Use Numbers to Decide What Matters by Deborah Stone
Winston Churchill famously said there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. In this book, political scientist Deborah Stone shows how cultural assumptions, social conventions and personal judgements impact our statistics. What may seem objective and infallible from the outside is actually, inherently flawed.
And yet, in this age of big data and metric mania, numbers shape almost every facet of our lives: whether we get hired, fired, or promoted; whether we get into college or out of prison; how our opinions are gathered and portrayed to politicians; or how the government designs health and safety regulations. This book explores what happens when we measure nebulous notions such as merit, race, poverty, pain or productivity.
When so much rides on numbers, they can become instruments of social welfare, justice and democracy - or not. The citizens of Flint, Michigan, for instance, used numbers to prove how their household water got contaminated and to force their government to take remedial action. In stark contrast, The US’ founding fathers finessed an intractable conflict by counting each slave as three-fifths of a person in the national census. They set a terrible precedent for today’s politicians, who claim to solve moral and political dilemmas with arithmetic.
This book will force you to rethink how things are measured as well as what is measured and the conclusions drawn. And you will probably never trust statistics again.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
Recently, a devastating weekend cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline threatened to cripple the supply of diesel, petrol and jet fuel on the East Coast of the US. As news of the company’s pipeline shutdowns gathered momentum, panic buying ensued. A hacker group known as DarkSide claimed responsibility for the attack.
Colonial Pipeline is one of the largest pipeline operators in the country. It accounts for nearly half of the East Coast’s civilian and military fuel supply.
WHILE YOU WERE WORKING
NatureDose tracks and prescribes time in nature
Until we were all confined to our homes, no one really paid much attention to the importance of spending time in nature.
NatureQuant LLC wants to change that. The big data and machine learning start-up has come up with a series of tools to monitor, quantify and evaluate natural elements and exposure to nature through an app, allowing users to track the time they spend in nature much like they count steps.
NatureQuant analyses your activity (for any activity with a GPS tracker), and updates the description field of the activity with the NatureScore, as well as the NatureDose you received. It also tallies up your total NatureDose for the week, and shows how you are faring against the recommended 120 minutes in nature per week.
“On a par with diet, exercise or adequate sleep, making nature exposure an essential part of your lifestyle is one of the best choices you can make for your health. Backed by hundreds of scientific studies, increasing your time exposed to natural elements can have profound impacts, from a stronger immune system and reduced anxiety in adults to better eyesight and brain development in kids,” states NatureQuant.
The app is currently only available in the US and on Strava, a social fitness app. But the developers are working on expanding the coverage globally and on other fitness tracking platforms.
Oculus Quest 2
Virtual reality (VR) was long touted as the “next best thing”. However, tedious set-ups, messy cables and infrared sensors have placed VR devices far behind gaming consoles and PC desktops — until now.
The Oculus Quest 2 delivers a truly wireless experience, requiring only a VR headset, two touch controllers, ample space and a go-get-’em attitude. Users need only strap the device on their heads, map out the “playing space” according to the on-screen instructions, and the device’s internal hardware will handle the rest.
Compared with the first Oculus Quest, the new version sports an improved screen with a higher pixel resolution and a faster screen refresh rate. Although the battery life remains relatively the same, at around two hours of gaming, the wireless capabilities have significantly improved. More importantly, users are getting a whole lot of bang for their buck at about RM1,600 for the complete set.
For most gamers, hardware specifications only come second to the available game titles. Fortunately for them, Oculus Quest 2 is compatible with most VR games on Steam, including graphic-intensive titles such as Lone Echo and Half-Life: Alyx.
However, the Quest’s easy set-up and great value do come with a major trade-off. To use the device, Oculus owners must log in using their Facebook accounts. This move has led to critics raising concerns regarding Facebook’s data collection and targeted advertising. Beyond that, the Oculus Quest 2 is a great point of entry for anyone looking to join the VR ecosystem.
Available on https://www.oculus.com/ from US$299.