Tag Archives: Economy

Did Dutch Gov Close Farms To Fight Climate Change?!

Did Dutch Gov Close Farms To Fight Climate Change?!

Did the Dutch government just close thousands of farms and cattle ranches to fight climate change?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : Dutch Government Closed Farms To Fight Climate Change!

People have been sharing videos angry farmers blocking roads with their tractors, claiming that they are protesting the closure of farms and cattle ranchers by the Dutch government.

Such videos are now being spread in pro-CCP groups as “evidence” of corrupt Western governments, or how Western governments oppress the common people.

28 June 2022
As the Dutch government closed dozens of farms and cattle ranches to reduce nitrogen by 30%.
Angry and hungry farmers blocked the roads nationwide
Corrupt Dutch govt trying to artificially create food shortage.

Following politicians’ decision to close dozens of farms and cattle ranches to reduce nitrogen to comply with absurd EU rules on nitrogen pollution, angry Dutch farmers have issued an ultimatum and are threatening to block the country’s airports, ports and distribution centers.

The Dutch government wants to close 17,000 farms out of 50,000 by 2030 to reduce Nitrogen emissions. Their “leaders” have bought into the climate change hysteria during a time of impending global food shortages. These bozos have a few screws missing.

 

Truth : Dutch Government Did NOT Close Farms To Fight Climate Change!

These posts appear to be an intentional “misunderstanding” of the facts surrounding these Dutch farmers’ protests.

These protests have been covered extensively, and so have the Dutch government’s proposal. So it seems incredulous that people would continue to lie about this issue.

Fact #1 : Dutch Government Did NOT Close Any Farm / Cattle Ranch

Let’s start with the most basic fact – the Dutch government did not close any farm or cattle ranch. This is complete and utter nonsense.

There are no laws in the Netherlands that would permit the Dutch government to forcibly take over, or shut down, any farm or cattle ranch.

This kind of blatant lie can only perpetuate in the minds of conspiracy nutcases, and Chinese netizens because only authoritarian governments (like the CCP in China) are capable of such actions.

Seizing and closing farms and cattle ranch may be possible for the government in China, but not in the Netherlands.

In fact, the Dutch government has offered BUY OUT (not close) farms near nature reserves.

Fact #2 : Dutch Farmers Have Been Protesting Since 2019!

What many of these “concerned netizens” (intentionally?) do not tell you is that Dutch farmers have been protesting against such climate change laws since 2019.

Dutch farmers protest in October 2019

Fact #3 : The Government Was Complying With A Court Order

This issue actually started way back in May 2019, the Dutch Administrative Court of the Council of State (the highest administrative body in the Netherlands) ruled that the Dutch government breached EU rules on protecting nature reserves from ammonia and nitrous oxide.

The Dutch Administrative Court suspended permits for all construction projects that pollute the atmosphere with nitrogen compounds, stalling the building of new homes, roads and airport runways… as well as the expansion of dairy, pig and poultry farms.

Fact #4 : Dutch Government Tried Other Measures First

To comply with the court order, the Dutch government tried other measures first.

For example, in 2020, they cut the maximum speed limit on roads in the Netherlands from 130 km/h to just 100 km/h for most of the day, to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.

The government also allocated more money to help farmers reduce emissions from pigs, and changed the composition of animal feed.

Fact #5 : Dutch Farms Produce A Lot Of Pollution

The problem is partly caused by Dutch farmers themselves. Their farms are highly concentrated, with four times more animal biomass per hectare than the EU average.

Dutch agriculture is responsible for 40% of the nitrogen pollution in the Netherlands. The entire construction sector, for example, is only responsible for 0.6% of nitrogen emissions.

Thanks to its large livestock sector, and intensive use of fertiliser, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter – is also one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in Europe.

Fact #6 : Only Farms Near Nature Reserves Are In Danger

Depending on their proximity to nature reserves (Natura-2000 areas), Dutch farms will have to reduce their nitrogen emissions by 12% to 70%.

Those located in or close to the Natura-2000 areas will be particularly hard-hit by the new nitrogen limits :

  • 40% of the nitrogen sensitive Natura-2000 areas must be below the critical deposition value (< 255 mole per hectare) in 2025,
  • 50% of the nitrogen sensitive Natura-2000 areas must be below the critical deposition value in 2030, and
  • 74% of the nitrogen sensitive Natura-2000 areas must be below the critical deposition value in 2035.

Fact #7 : Provincial Government To Formulate Emission Reduction Plan

While the Dutch government came up with the plan to reduce nitrogen emissions to meet EU requirements, it is up to the Dutch provinces to develop the necessary measures to hit those targets.

Provincial governments have a year to formulate their own plans, to meet the pollution reduction targets.

Fact #8 : This Is Part Of EU Natura 2000 Conservation Efforts

This isn’t just a Dutch issue, it is actually part of the EU effort to protect the Natura 2000 network of vulnerable and endangered plant and animal habitats.

The Natura 2000 sites cover some 18% of the European Union land area, and 8% of its marine territory.

Fact #9 : Dutch Government Is Financing Agricultural Reforms

To help farmers meet those targets, the Dutch government has earmarked an extra €24.3 billion (about US$25.6 billion) to finance agricultural reforms and their existing buy-out programs.

Farmers who accept the government buy-out program can still open a new farm at a less sensitive location, as long as they substantially reduce nitrogen emissions.

Fact #10 : Protests Are ALLOWED In Real Democracies

What Chinese netizens may not be aware is that protests are not only common, they are allowed in real democracies.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, for example, defended the farmers’ right to protest, but reminded them not to break the law :

Freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate are a vital part of our democratic society, and I will always defend them.

But … it is not acceptable to create dangerous situations, it is not acceptable to intimidate officials, we will never accept that.

With the exception of a few farmers setting bales of hay on fire outside town halls and near roads, and attacking police officers, the majority of farmers have protested the proposed plan peacefully.

So what the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛) and pro-CCP netizens are deriding as chaos, is really just people expressing their real freedom of speech, which includes the right to protest. Try that in China, and see what that gets you.

 

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India Just Banned Almost All Single-Use Plastic Items!

India just imposed a ban on almost all single-use plastic items, to combat plastic pollution!

 

India Just Banned All Single-Use Plastic Items!

On Friday, July 1, 2022, India imposed a ban on all single-use plastic items – everything from straws and disposable cutlery to cigarette packets!

With the ban in effect, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of all identified single-use plastic items are hereby prohibited in India.

Those who violate this single-use plastic ban may be jailed for up to five years, or fined more than 100,000 rupees (about US$1,267 | £1,046 | RM 5,582).

The Indian government has setup special control rooms to monitor and enforce the ban at national and state levels.

 

India Still Allows Some Single-Use Plastic Items

This measure was announced more than two years ago by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on January 26, 2019. The list of prohibited single use plastic items include :

  • plastic straws
  • plastic cups, glasses, plates, trays, spoons, forks, knives
  • ear buds with plastic sticks
  • plastic flags
  • plastic stirrers for tea / coffee
  • wrapping and packaging films
  • plastic sticks for balloons, candy and ice-cream
  • cigarette packets, sweet boxes, invitation cards
  • polystyrene (thermocol / styrofoam) decoration
  • plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns thick

The items have been chosen on the basis of three criteria – their low utility, high littering potential and availability of alternative materials.

We know that the manufacturers of these banned items have already shifted or are in the process of shifting, and notices had been sent out by the CPCB last year to these companies alerting them of the ban and to begin the process.

We have given manufacturers plenty of time for preparation – 11 months – before the ban was to come into force. We believe that we have their support and cooperation.

– Indian Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yada

The only single-use plastic items exempted from this ban are PET plastic water bottles, and thick plastic bags.

In 2021, India had already banned plastic bags with a thickness of below 75 microns thick. The government has asked manufacturers and importers to increase the thickness of plastic bags, to promote reuse.

India’s Central Pollution Control Board is also asking people to switch to cotton and jute bags, clay cups, bamboo or wooden cutlery, as well as items made of biodegradable materials.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Air Travel To Malaysia : Latest Covid-19 Requirements + SOP!

Here are the LATEST COVID-19 requirements and SOP for those plan to travel by air to Malaysia!

Updated @ 2022-07-03 : Malaysian citizens are no longer required to register for Traveller’s Pass.
Updated @ 2022-06-13 : Added the current COVID-19 vaccination requirements

Originally posted @ 2022-04-28

 

Malaysia Air Travel : Current COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements

Currently, travellers to Malaysia must provide documentation that they have completed a full regimen of a COVID-19 vaccine recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), or by a stringent regulatory authority in the country of origin.

There are additional requirements on COVID-19 vaccination for travellers :

  • Those aged 60 years and above are required to receive a booster dose.
  • Those received two doses of Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccine, regardless of age, must receive a third dose (of any vaccine) to qualify as fully-vaccinated.

The definition of a full regimen of a COVID-19 vaccine includes the number of doses required to provide the full vaccine protection, as well as the time needed to achieve protection against COVID-19.

Currently, that means 14 days after the second dose of a two (2) dose vaccine, or 14 days after a one (1) dose vaccine. In the case of Sinopharm / Sinovac vaccine recipients, that would mean 14 days after the third dose.

You are also considered fully-vaccinated immediately after receiving your booster dose.

Please make sure you submit your vaccination information through the Travellers option in MySejahtera, before your flight to Malaysia.

After submitting your COVID-19 vaccination details, you will receive a Travellers digital card, which allows you entry into Malaysia on arrival.

 

Malaysia Air Travel Test + Quarantine Rules From 1 May 2022!

On 27 April 2022, the Malaysia Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin announced new test and quarantine rules for travellers flying to Malaysia.

These COVID-19 test and quarantine rules take effect from Sunday, 1 May 2022 onwards!

A. Children 12 Years Or Younger : No Test, No Quarantine!

Irrespective of their vaccination status, children who are 12 years old or younger do NOT need to :

  • undergo pre-departure test
  • undergo on-arrival test, or
  • undergo HSO quarantine

B. Fully-Vaccinated 13 Years Or Older : No Test, No Quarantine!

Fully-vaccinated adolescents and adults who are 13 years or older do NOT need to :

  • undergo pre-departure test
  • undergo on-arrival test, or
  • undergo HSO quarantine

C. Partially-Vaccinated / Unvaccinated 13-17 Years Old : No Quarantine!

Adolescents who are 13-17 years old, and are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated do NOT need to undergo HSO quarantine on arrival in Malaysia.

However, they will need to undergo :

  • a PCR test within 48 hours before departure to Malaysia, and
  • a supervised RTK-Ag test within 24 hours of arrival in Malaysia.

D. Vaccinated Adults : No Test, No Quarantine!

Fully-vaccinated adults (18 years and older), with or without a booster dose, do NOT need to :

  • undergo pre-departure test
  • undergo on-arrival test, or
  • undergo HSO quarantine

E. Unvaccinated with Medical Exemption : No Quarantine!

Unvaccinated individuals with a medical exemption will be allowed, on a case-by-case basis, to travel to Malaysia without a mandatory quarantine.

However, they must undergo :

  • a PCR test within 48 hours before departure to Malaysia, and
  • a professional RTK-Ag test within 24 hours of arrival in Malaysia.

F. Unvaccinated Adults : 5 Day Quarantine

Adult travellers (18 years and older) who are partially-vaccinated, or completely unvaccinated, must :

  • undergo a 5-day mandatory quarantine on arrival in Malaysia, and
  • undergo a PCR test on Day 4, or a professional RTK-Ag test on Day 5.

Travellers who are exempt from vaccination for health reasons must upload the evidence of medical exemption into the MySejahtera app.

G. Unvaccinated + Post COVID-19 : 5 Day Quarantine

Unvaccinated individuals who recovered from COVID-19 (infected in the last 6-60 days) must:

  • undergo a 5-day mandatory quarantine on arrival in Malaysia, and
  • undergo a PCR test on Day 4, or a professional RTK-Ag test on Day 5.

If they were not hospitalised, they must undergo :

  • a professional RTK-Ag test within 48 hours before departure to Malaysia, and
  • a professional RTK-Ag test within 24 hours of arrival in Malaysia.

If they were hospitalised, they can use a Fit To Travel letter from the hospital.

 

Latest Malaysia Air Travel Procedure From 4 July 2022!

On 27 April 2022, the Malaysia Ministry of Health issued the official procedure for travellers who arrive by air, that will take effect from 1 May 2022 onwards.

It was then updated on 1 July 2022, with the abolishment of the Traveller’s Pass for Malaysian citizens.

Before Departure

  1. Download the MySejahtera app, and register for your MySejahtera account. *
  2. Click on the Traveller icon in MySejahtera, and complete the pre-departure form
    a) fully-vaccinated travellers will receive a Digital Traveller’s Card *
    b) partially vaccinated / unvaccinated travellers will receive a Digital Home Surveillance Order (HSO).
  3. All unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers 13 years and above must undergo a PCR test 2 days before departure.
  4. Those who had a previous COVID-19 infection (within 6-60 days before departure) must undergo a professional RTK-Ag test 2 days before departure, or alternatively, have a Free-To-Travel letter if they were hospitalised for COVID-19 during that time.
  5. You do NOT need to purchase travel and COVID-19 insurance.

* No longer necessary for Malaysian citizens, starting 4 July 2022.

On Arrival

  1. All partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers 13 years and above must undergo a supervised RTK-Ag test within 24 hours of arrival in Malaysia.
    a) this supervised RTK-Ag test can be performed at any health facility of your choice, or virtually
    b) COVID-19 breathalyser / professional RTK-Ag tests are available at the airport
    c) Cost of on-arrival RTK-Ag test must be borne by the travellers.
  2. Children below the age of 13, and travellers from Singapore are exempted from the on-arrival test.
  3. Partially-vaccinated / unvaccinated travellers must undergo a mandatory 5-day quarantine.
  4. IMPORTANT : Travellers transiting through Malaysian international airports to Sabah or Sarawak must undergo professional RTK-Ag at the airport, before departing.

Testing Positive On Arrival

If you test positive on arrival, you must undergo a mandatory HSO quarantine of 7 days.

You can opt for the new Day 4 test and release procedure, by undertaking a supervised RTK-Ag test on Day 4 of your quarantine.

  • If you test negative, you are allowed to immediately terminate your quarantine.
  • If you test positive, you must complete your 7-day quarantine

Read more : Day 4 Test + Release For COVID-19 Positive In Malaysia!

Testing Positive During Quarantine

If you are a partially vaccinated / unvaccinated traveller, you will need to undergo a 5-day quarantine, and get tested on Day 4 (PCR) or Day 5 (RTK-Ag).

If you test positive on Day 4 or Day 5, your quarantine will get extended for 5 more days.

 

Malaysia Air Travel Test + Quarantine SOP : Summary

To make it easier to compare the myriad air travel requirements to Malaysia, I created this table to summarise the key requirements.

Vaccination Status Pre-Departure On Arrival Additional Test
or Quarantine
Child (< 13 Years) * No Test Required No Test
No Quarantine
Fully Vaccinated (≥ 13 Years)
Partially-Vaccinated or
Unvaccinated (13-17 Years)
PCR test
within 2 days
Supervised
RTK-Ag
within 24 hours
of arrival

On-Arrival
Professional
RTK-Ag
for travellers
transiting to
Sabah or
Sarawak
Not Vaccinated with
Medical Exemption
Partially Vaccinated or
Unvaccinated (≥18 Years)
5-Day Quarantine
with
Day 4 PCR or
Day 5 RTK

Partially Vaccinated
or Unvaccinated

+ Post-COVID-19
(6-60 Days)
Professional
RTK-Ag
within 2 days
or FTT letter **
if hospitalised

* By year of birth
** Also professional RTK-Ag if recovered from COVID-19 infection 6-60 days before departure
*** FTT = Fit To Travel

 

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He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Palm Cooking Oil Price In Malaysia Shoots Up By 44%!

Palm cooking oil in Malaysia shot up by 44% on the first day price control was lifted! Here is what you need to know…

 

No More Price Control For Palm Cooking Oil!

On 21 June 2022, the Malaysian government announced that price control for palm cooking oil would be removed starting 1 July 2022.

Since 1 August 2021, palm cooking oil was subsidised with the price fixed at :

  • 5 kg palm cooking oil : RM 29.70 per bottle
  • 3 kg palm cooking oil : RM 18.70 per bottle
  • 2 kg palm cooking oil : RM 12.70 per bottle
  • 1 kg palm cooking oil : RM 6.70 per bottle

While Malaysians were hoping that the government would U-turn on the price control of palm cooking oil like it did for chicken, that didn’t happen.

Read more : Malaysia Removes Price Control, Subsidy For Chicken, Eggs, Cooking Oil!
Read more : 
Malaysia Cancels Chicken Price Float, Maintains Water + Power Rates!

 

Palm Cooking Oil Price In Malaysia Shoots Up By 44%!

On 1 July 2022, Malaysians finally realised how much palm oil prices have gone up since the price control and subsidy scheme was put in place last year.

Depending on the brand and bottle size, palm cooking oil prices have shot up between 38% and 44%.

Brand Bottle Size Old Price New Price Difference
Alif 1 kg RM 6.70 RM 9.50 +42%
Buruh 1 kg RM 6.70 RM 9.45 +41%
Saji 1 kg RM 6.70 RM 9.50 +42%
Seri Murni 1 kg RM 6.70 RM 9.25 +38%
Vesawit 1 kg RM 6.70 RM 9.40 +40%
Alif 2 kg RM 12.70 RM 18.05 +42%
Buruh 2 kg RM 12.70 RM 18.15 +43%
Saji 2 kg RM 12.70 RM 17.90 +41%
Seri Murni 2 kg RM 12.70 RM 18.10 +43%
Vesawit 2 kg RM 12.70 RM 18.25 +44%
Buruh 3 kg RM 18.70 RM 26.95 +44%
Vesawit 3 kg RM 18.70 RM 26.65 +43%
Alif 5 kg RM 29.70 RM 42.50 +43%
Buruh 5 kg RM 29.70 RM 42.60 +43%
Saji 5 kg RM 29.70 RM 42.20 +42%
Seri Murni 5 kg RM 29.70 RM 42.70 +44%
Vesawit 5 kg RM 29.70 RM 42.25 +42%

However, the government is maintaining the subsidy for cooking oil sold in 1 kg polybag packages, which will remain priced at RM 2.50 per packet.

The abolishment of the palm cooking oil subsidy would save the government about RM 20 million a month.

On social media, Malaysians are generally resigned to the fact that they will have to put up with increased food prices going forward. Some have suggested buying an air fryer, or boiling / steaming food, to cut down on the use of oil.

Looking at the bright side of things – perhaps, this will spur Malaysians to adopt a healthier diet with less fried foods!

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Malaysian Citizens Don’t Need MySejahtera Traveller’s Pass!

Citizens returning to Malaysia will no longer be required to obtain the Traveller’s Pass in MySejahtera!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Currently : MySejahtera Traveller’s Pass Required To Enter Malaysia!

Since 1 May 2022, the Malaysian government has liberalised air travel into Malaysia, waiving both quarantine and insurance requirements.

However, they still require all travellers to fill in their details in MySejahtera, to obtain a Traveller’s Pass, prior to departure.

  1. Download the MySejahtera app, and register for your MySejahtera account.
  2. Click on the Traveller icon in MySejahtera, and complete the pre-departure form
    a) fully-vaccinated travellers will receive a Digital Traveller’s Card
    b) partially vaccinated / unvaccinated travellers will receive a Digital Home Surveillance Order (HSO).

This requirement applies to both citizens and foreigners alike – everyone must apply using the Traveller option in MySejahtera.

Read more : Air Travel To Malaysia : Latest Covid-19 Requirements + SOP!

 

Now : Malaysian Citizens Don’t Need MySejahtera Traveller’s Pass!

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced on 1 July 2022 that Malaysian citizens will no longer be required to obtain the Traveller’s Pass.

Starting Monday, 4 July 2022, travellers to Malaysia will no longer be required to fill in their details using the Traveller option in MySejahtera, to obtain a Traveller’s Pass or Digital Home Surveillance Order (HSO).

However, this is currently limited only to Malaysian citizens. The government will gradually extend this privilege to other groups like social pass holders, students, and permanent residents.

Therefore, all travellers who are not Malaysian citizens must continue to fill in their details using the Traveller option in MySejahtera, and obtain the Traveller’s Pass.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Malaysia Announces July-Aug Ceiling Price For Chicken, Eggs!

The Malaysian government just announced the ceiling price for chicken and eggs for July to August 2022!

 

Earlier : Malaysia U-Turns On Chicken Price Float

Just 3 days after announcing that the price of chicken and eggs would be freely floated, the government of Malaysia announced a U-turn.

At 5:45 PM on 24 June 2022, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri announced that the government has cancelled the floating of chicken price, and will continue to impose a price ceiling.

Read more : Malaysia Cancels Chicken Price Float, Maintains Water + Power Rates!

 

Malaysia Announces July-Aug Ceiling Price For Chicken, Eggs!

On Wednesday, 29 June 2022, the Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Ronald Kiandee announced that the ceiling price for chicken and eggs for Peninsular Malaysia for July and August 2022.

From 1 July until 31 August 2022, the price of a standard whole chicken would be capped at RM 9.40, but there was no mention of a price cap for the super whole chicken (slaughtered and cleaned without legs, head, liver and gizzard).

The price for eggs would also go up in tandem, with Grade A eggs capped at 45 sen each, Grade B eggs capped at 43 sen each, and Grade C eggs capped at 41 sen each.

Here is a comparison table of the current and new prices, with my calculations on the difference :

Feb to June July to Aug Difference
Standard Whole Chicken RM 8.90 per kg RM 9.40 per kg +5.6%
Super Whole Chicken RM 9.90 per kg NA NA
Grade A Eggs RM 0.43 each RM 0.45 each +4.7%
Grade B Eggs RM 0.41 each RM 0.43 each +4.9%
Grade C Eggs RM 0.39 each RM 0.41 each +5.1%

In general, the ceiling price for chicken and eggs in Malaysia would be raised by about 5%, which is significantly lower than the 33% hike expected if their prices were freely floated.

This subsidy though isn’t really free, as taxpayers are ultimately footing the bill.

According to the government, it will spend RM 369.5 million for this additional subsidy on chicken and eggs, bringing the total amount spent to RM 1.1 billion since February 5, 2022.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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China Slashes COVID-19 International Travel Quarantine!

China just relaxed entry requirements, by slashing more than half of its COVID-19 international travel quarantine!

Here is what you need to know…

 

China Slashes COVID-19 International Travel Quarantine!

On June 28, 2022, the Chinese National Health Commission announced a reduction of China’s quarantine requirement for international travellers.

China had earlier mandated that most inbound travellers must undergo a 14 + 7 quarantine protocol – at least 14 days at a government quarantine facility, followed by 7 days of self-isolation at home.

The new quarantine requirement will be a much shorter 7 + 3 protocol – travellers only need to spend 7 days at a quarantine facility, followed by 3 days of self-isolation at home.

 

Shorter Travel Quarantine, But China Still Maintaining Zero COVID

While China has relaxed its international travel quarantine requirements, that doesn’t mean it is going to quit its Zero COVID policy.

On the same day China announced the shorter quarantine policy, Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the Zero COVID policy on a visit to the Wuhan – where the pandemic started.

According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, he said that he would rather “temporarily sacrifice a little economic growth” than “harm people’s health“.

This announcement came one day after Beijing Daily – the official CCP newspaper – published a quote by a senior Communist Party official who said that Beijing would remain under the Zero COVID policy “for the next five years”.

That sparked panic, causing Beijing Daily to remove the quote after claiming it was an “editing error”. Chinese censors also went into overdrive, removing all references to the quote.

According to CNN which analysed the entire speech, Beijing party chief Cai Qi did discuss at length the possibility that Zero COVID policies may remain in place for Beijing over the next five years.

Those measures, he said, would include routine PCR tests, strict entry rules, regular health checks in residential neighbourhoods and public venues. There will also be rigorous monitoring and testing for people entering and leaving Beijing.

So Chinese citizens and foreigners willing to tolerate the travel quarantine will have to continue putting up with mass testing and lockdowns of entire cities over small outbreaks. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess…

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Russia Defaults On Foreign Debt For First Time Since 1918!

Russia has officially defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time since 1918!

 

Russia Officially Defaults On Foreign Debt!

Russia was due to pay a $100 million interest payment on May 27, 2022; but creditors did not receive it 30 days later.

Russia says they sent the money to the Euroclear bank, which would distribute payments to its creditors. However, those payments were not made – Euroclear wouldn’t say if they were blocked, but would only say that it is adhering to all sanctions.

The US Treasury had earlier decided not to renew the special sanction exemption allowing investors to receive interest payments from Russia, letting it expire on May 25, 2022.

Russia could have paid that interest before the interest payment exemption expired, but opted not to. It has so far managed to make its payments on time, despite sanctions kicking in after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

But after missing that June 26 deadline on Sunday, Russia officially defaulted on that payment – their first foreign debt default since 1918, and their first default of any kind since 1998.

  • In 1918, Vladimir Lenin refused to pay the outstanding debts of the Russian Empire during the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • In 1998, the Russian. government was rocked by the rouble crisis, and defaulted on domestic bonds, but managed to pay its foreign debt.

 

Russia To Pay In Roubles, To Avoid Future Defaults On Foreign Debt

Russia called the default artificial, because it has the money to pay its debts, but sanctions have frozen its foreign currency reserves held abroad.

The Kremlin announced on 23 June 2022, that it would make all future debt payments in roubles through a Russian bank – the National Settlements Depository, even for bonds that are denominated in dollars or other foreign currencies.

The Russian Finance Ministry said that it would offer “the opportunity for subsequent conversion into the original currency” as a way to avoid future debt defaults.

While embarrassing to the country, and would make it expensive or difficult to borrow money in the future, this technical default does not have a significant effect on Russia right now.

For one thing, Russia is already barred by sanctions from borrowing in Western markets. Russia is also not interested in borrowing foreign money, thanks to a healthy influx of money from its sale of oil and gas.

In fact, Russia had been preparing for such an eventuality by paying down its foreign debt since it annexed Crimea in 2014.

All it does at the moment is ensure that Vladimir Putin goes down in history as only the second Russian leader to be responsible for a foreign debt default.

 

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Travellers To Europe Must Apply + Pay For ETIAS From 2023!

It’s official – travellers to Europe must start applying and paying for ETIAS from 2023! Here is what you need to know…

 

Travellers To Europe Must Apply For ETIAS From 2023!

The European Commission has just announced the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) for all travellers to the Schengen States.

Slated to start in May 2023, ETIAS is meant to “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks” amongst visa-exempt travellers.

EU travellers are exempt from ETIAS, and will continue to have freedom of movement throughout the EU, and the freedom to spend as much time as they want in any state in the Schengen zone.

ETIAS will only be obligatory for travellers from countries that currently do not require a visa to travel to the EU – about 60 countries including the US and the UK.

Travellers who currently need a visa to enter the EU will still need to apply for a visa. They will not be allowed to use ETIAS.

 

How Does ETIAS Work For Travellers To Europe?

Travellers will need to apply for ETIAS through a “largely automated IT system”, with approval granted “within minutes” for about 95% of applicants. But that could drag out to a month for “very exceptional cases”. Those who have their application denied will be allowed to appeal.

While applying for ETIAS will be quicker, done online, and requires no biometric information, there is a cost attached.

Every traveller aged 18 to 70 will need to pay an ETIAS fee of €7 (about US$7.40, £6, A$10.60, S$10.20, RM32.50). It is currently unknown if ETIAS will be free or cheaper for other age groups.

Applicants will be required to submit their data in the online application, which is said to take only “10 minutes” :

  • Unspecified personal data
  • Travel document (passport or equivalent document)
  • Member State of first intended stay
  • Background questions relating to previous criminal records, presence in conflict zones, orders to leave the territory of a Member State or third countries, return decisions issued.
  • Identity of the person / company assisting the applicant in the application process (if necessary)

The ETIAS system will automatically check the information provided against several EU databases, and approve or transfer it to ETIAS National Units for manual processing.

Once approved, the ETIAS will be valid for 3 years, or until the expiry date of the passport. So if possible, travellers should definitely renew their passports before applying.

But note that the ETIAS can be revoked at any time, if the conditions for that travel authorisation are no longer met by the applicant.

 

ETIAS : Selected FAQs

Here are selected FAQs on the European Travel Information and Authorisation System for those who want to learn more.

What is the difference between a Schengen visa and an ETIAS travel authorisation?

The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel. ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.

An ETIAS travel authorisation does not reintroduce visa-like obligations. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure.

Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days, and can in some cases be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the online ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in. Only in very exceptional cases, could the ETIAS procedure take up to 30 days. The validity will be for a period of three years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.

The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a necessary and small procedural step for all visa-exempt travellers which will allow them to avoid bureaucracy and delays when presenting themselves at the borders. ETIAS will fully respect this visa-free status; facilitate the crossing of the Schengen external border; and allow visa free visitors to fully enjoy their status.

Read more : EU Digital COVID Certificate : A Comedy Of Errors!

What will visa-exempt travellers have to do before their travel?

Travellers will have to complete an online application via a dedicated website or an application for mobile devices. Filling in the application should not take more than 10 minutes and should not require any documentation beyond a travel document (a passport or other equivalent document). In case of an inability to apply (due to age, literacy level, access to and competence on information technology etc.) applications may be submitted by a third person.

An electronic payment of a €7 fee for each application will be required for all applicants between the ages of 18 and 70. The electronic payment methods will take into account technological advancements in the visa-free countries in order to avoid hindering visa-free third country nationals who may not have access to certain payment means.

The automated assessment process will start after the fee collection is confirmed. The vast majority of applicants (expected to be more than 95% of all cases) will be given automated approval which will be communicated to them within minutes of payment. If there is a hit against any of the searched databases or an undecided outcome of the automated process, manual handling of the application will take place by a Central Unit in the European Border and Coast Guard Agency or by a Member State team. This can prolong the response time to the visa-exempt third country national by up to 96 hours. In very exceptional circumstances further information may be asked of applicants and further procedural steps may be necessary, but in all cases a final decision shall be taken within four weeks of their application.

Of the roughly 5% of applications which produce a hit, it is expected that 3-4% will receive a positive decision after ETIAS Central Unit verifies the data, with the remaining 1-2% being transferred to ETIAS National Units for manual processing. After the decision applicants will be given a response by email with a valid travel authorisation, or a justification for the refusal.

Read more : EU Officially Accepts Malaysia’s Digital COVID Certificate!

What happens if a person has been refused travel authorisation from ETIAS?

If the travel authorisation is refused, the applicant retains the right to appeal. Appeals can be launched in the Member State that has taken the decision on the application and in accordance with the national law of that Member State. The applicant will be informed which national authority is responsible for the processing and decision on his or her travel authorisation, as well as information regarding the procedure to be followed in the event of an appeal. If the traveller considers their treatment to have been unfair, he/she is also given the right to seek redress or request access to the information through the national authority.

What is the validity of an ETIAS travel authorisation?

The validity of the travel authorisation will be three years (or until the expiry date of the travel document).

What are the obligations for the carriers?

Prior to boarding, air and sea carriers, as well as carriers transporting groups overland by coach will have to verify the status of the travel document required for entering the Schengen Area, including the requirement to hold a valid ETIAS travel authorisation. A transitional period is foreseen for carriers transporting groups overland by coach during which it will not be obligatory for them to check the presence of a valid travel authorisation.

What will happen at the border crossing point? 

Upon arrival at a Schengen area border crossing point, the border guard will electronically read the travel document data, thereby triggering a query to different databases, including a query to ETIAS in the case of visa-exempt travellers. If there is no valid ETIAS travel authorisation, the border guards will refuse entry and record the traveller and the refusal of entry in the Entry Exit System.

If there is a valid travel authorisation, the border control process will be conducted and the traveller may be authorised to enter the Schengen area if all entry conditions are fulfilled or refused access as provided by the Schengen Border Code.

Read more : EU Air Travel : Face Mask + Physical Distancing Not Required!

What databases will be checked by ETIAS?

When verifying and assessing the information submitted by visa-exempt travellers, the system will automatically cross-check each application against: 

A. the existing EU information systems:

  • the Schengen Information System (SIS),
  • the Visa Information System (VIS),
  • Europol data,
  • the Eurodac database (once the Eurodac recast is in place),

B. future EU information systems:

  • the Entry/Exit System (EES), 

C. Interpol databases:

  • the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Document database (SLTD),
  • the Interpol Travel Documents Associated with Notices database (TDAWN),

D. a dedicated ETIAS watch list and specific risk indicators.

Read more : Air Travel To Malaysia : Latest Covid-19 Requirements + SOP!

How will ETIAS ensure and guarantee the respect for fundamental rights and data protection?

Personal data recorded in ETIAS will not be kept for longer than is necessary for its purpose. Data shall be stored for: 

  • the period of validity of the travel authorisation or, 
  • five years from the last decision to refuse, revoke or annul the travel authorisation. 

The data could be stored for an additional period of no more than three years after the end of the period of validity of the travel authorisation if the applicant freely and explicitly consents to keep his or her data longer. After the expiry of the data retention period, the application file and personal data will be automatically deleted from the ETIAS Central System. 

Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol will have access to ETIAS, under strictly-defined conditions, for the prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences. The designated authorities and Europol should only request access to ETIAS when they have reasonable grounds to believe that such access will substantially help them in carrying out their duties. 

 

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Malaysia Cancels Chicken Price Float, Maintains Water + Power Rates!

The Prime Minister of Malaysia just cancelled the floating of chicken price, and maintained water and electricity power rates!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Earlier : Malaysia Removes Price Control + Subsidy For Chicken!

On 21 June 2022, Malaysia’s Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi, announced that price control for chicken and chicken eggs, as well as subsidies for palm oil used for cooking will be removed.

From 1 July 2022 onwards, the price of chicken was supposed to be floated, and would depend on market forces. The price of chicken was expected to increase from RM8.90 per kg currently, to about RM11.90 per kg, once its price was floated.

The government needed to remove the price control on chickens because they would stop giving subsidies to poultry farmers on 1 July 2022 as well.

Read more : Malaysia Removes Price Control, Subsidy For Chicken, Eggs, Cooking Oil!

 

Now : Malaysia Cancels Chicken Price Float, Maintains Water + Power Rates!

Just 3 days later, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced a U-turn on removing price control on chickens.

At 5:45 PM on 24 June 2022, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri announced that the government has cancelled the floating of chicken price, and will continue to impose a price ceiling.

However, this does not mean the chicken price will remain at its current ceiling prices of :

  • Standard whole chicken : RM 8.90 per kg
  • Super whole chicken (without legs, head, liver and gizzard) : RM 9.90 per kg

According to his official statement, the government will announce the new ceiling price for chicken later.

He also announced that the government has decided to maintain the current water and electricity tariffs in Peninsular Malaysia, by continuing to provide subsidies worth approximately RM 5.8 billion.

  • Domestic users : A rebate of 2 sen per kW-hour will be maintained, with no surcharge.
  • Commercial and industrial users : A surcharge of 3.70 sen per kW-hour will be maintained.

This is good news for domestic users, but not so good news for commercial and industrial users who have to put up with the surcharge.

 

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Netflix Fires 300 More Employees In Round 2 Of Layoffs!

Netflix just announced a second round of layoffs, firing 300 more employees!

 

Netflix Fires 300 More Employees In Round 2 Of Layoffs!

Back in February, Netflix announced that it lost 200,000 subscribers globally at the start of 2022. Even worse, it projected a decline of 2 million users in the upcoming quarter.

They blamed the drop on everything from increased competition from rival streaming services, to the economy and the war in Ukraine, as well as people sharing their Netflix accounts.

Their response was to curb losses by laying off their employees. They started by firing 150 employees last month, and followed up with 300 more employees this month.

Read more : The Brief Kiss That Got Lightyear Banned In 14+ Countries!

 

Netflix Layoffs Are Minimal At Just 4%

So far, the 450 fired employees make up about 4% of the streaming giant’s workforce of about 11,000 globally.

Most of those who were fired were based in the US and allegedly of minorities, or those working on projects catering to marginalised communities.

Netflix also fired another 70 employees working for its social media and publishing teams last month, including those that catered to marginalised communities.

But while Netflix claimed that it will help reduce costs, the 4% trimming of their workforce is unlikely to make much of a dent… unless Netflix intends to fire even more employees.

Sadly, it seems likely we will see more people getting let go at Netflix.

 

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New Taxes On Small Online Purchases + Delivery In Malaysia!

There will soon be new taxes on small online purchases and delivery in Malaysia! Here is what you need to know…

 

New Taxes On Small Online Purchases + Delivery In Malaysia!

There will be soon new taxes on low-value purchases from overseas, and delivery services in Malaysia!

These taxes were announced in Budget 2022, but you may not be aware of it.

6% Service Tax On Delivery Services

From 1 July 2022 onwards, delivery services are subject to 6% service tax, for delivering goods other than food and beverages, and logistics delivery services.

This 6% service tax applies to e-commerce platforms as well, so expect the cost to be passed to you – the customer.

10% Sales Tax On Low Value Imports

Currently, goods imported from overseas that are delivered via courier services through specific international airports in Malaysia are not subject to the 10% sales. tax, if the value of each consignment (parcel) does not exceed RM 500.

Budget 2022 removed that exemption, which means all imported goods will be taxed, regardless of value.

From 1 January 2023 onwards, online sellers of low value imported goods delivered by air courier worth less than RM 500 per consignment must charge their customers a 10% sales tax. Otherwise, the purchaser will be subject to an import tax.

This sales tax applies to both local and foreign merchants. But the government has yet to reveal the mechanism by which foreign merchants will register, process and forward the collected sales tax.

 

Why New Taxes On Small Online Purchases + Delivery?!

Taxing low cost value goods purchased overseas is a way to level the playing field between local and foreign manufacturers.

Malaysian products are already subject to a 5% or 10% sales tax, which places them at a disadvantage when competing with low value imports that are currently tax-free.

That’s why many countries like Australia and New Zealand implement similar taxes, to align with local sales tax.

Even Singapore will be implementing a 7% GST on low value goods (LVG) from 1 January 2023 onwards, increasing it to 9% by 2025.

This sales tax on imported LVG will no doubt raise revenue for the government, but it is inline with what other countries are implementing to level the playing field, and encourage purchases of local products.

The 10% sales tax may seem high, but it does not apply to low value goods imported via sea or land.

This sales tax will not affect the RM1,000 exemption for travellers bringing in goods purchased overseas through the seven designated international airports in Malaysia.

The 6% service tax on delivery services is a new revenue stream for the government, although they have exempted food and beverage deliveries, as well as logistics deliveries.

Whatever the reasons are – expect to pay more for your online purchases!

 

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Malaysia Removes Price Control, Subsidy For Chicken, Eggs, Cooking Oil!

Malaysia is removing price control for chicken and chicken eggs, as well as the subsidy for palm oil used for cooking!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Malaysia Removes Price Control, Subsidy For Chicken, Eggs, Cooking Oil!

On 21 June 2022, Malaysia’s Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi, announced that price control for chicken and chicken eggs, as well as subsidies for palm oil used for cooking will be removed.

Read more : Malaysia To Give RM100 / RM50 Subsidy To B40 Group!

Currently, the Malaysian government imposes the current maximum retail price for chicken and palm oil used for cooking in Peninsular Malaysia.

  • Standard whole chicken : RM 8.90 per kg
  • Super whole chicken (without legs, head, liver and gizzard) : RM 9.90 per kg
  • 5 kg palm cooking oil : RM 29.70 per bottle
  • 3 kg palm cooking oil : RM 18.70 per bottle
  • 2 kg palm cooking oil : RM 12.70 per bottle
  • 1 kg palm cooking oil : RM 6.70 per bottle

From 1 July 2022 onwards, the price of chicken will be floated, and will depend on market forces; and the subsidy and price limit on bottled palm cooking oil of 1 kg, 2 kg, 3 kg and 5 kg will be abolished.

The abolishment of the palm cooking oil subsidy will save the government about RM 20 million a month. However, they will maintain the subsidy for cooking oil sold in 1 kg polybag packages, priced at RM 2.50 per packet.

The government needed to remove the price control on chickens, because they would stop giving subsidies to poultry farmers on 1 July 2022 as well.

The inflation of food prices will inevitably increase in July, so please be prepared!

 

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Bitcoin Rebounds Above $20K, Ether Shoots Over $1,100!

Bitcoin rebounded above $20,000 while Ether shot over $1,100, after experiencing record lows! Here is what you need to know…

 

Bitcoin Rebounds Above $20K, Ether Shoots Over $1,100!

After a terrible week, cryptocurrencies are getting a big respite with Bitcoin rebounding above $20,000. and ether shooting over $1,100!

Last Saturday, Bitcoin crashed through the $20,000 line, and smashed right through the $19,000 and $18,000 support lines. It hit a record low of $17,663.80, wiping out 12% of value in less than a day.

The $20,000 mark was psychologically-important because Bitcoin first hit it in December 2020. It was also the peak of its last bull run, when it hit a high of $19,834 in December 2017. Bitcoin had, for the first time, fallen below the peak of its prior bull run.

But it gradually recovered over Sunday, and actually rose above the $20,000 mark at 7 PM. After a short sell-off early Monday morning, it recovered to above $20,000.

Ether had a terrible Saturday too, falling from $1,069.70 to just $903.23 – wiping out 15.6% of its value in less than 24 hours!

But it recovered quickly, breaching $1,000 by Sunday morning, and then the $1,100 mark by Sunday evening.

Like Bitcoin, Ether saw a sell-off on Monday morning, but it recovered again and stayed above $1,100

 

Bitcoin + Ether Rally May Be Shortlived

Cryptocurrency investors and traders are sure to be relieved by the rally, which kept both Bitcoin and Ether above those psychologically critical $20,000 and $1,000 price levels, even though they had already breached them two days ago.

The rally seems to be fuelled by investors and traders looking to buy cheap coins. Both Bitcoin and Ether were over 70% and over 80% below their all-time highs of $68,990.90 and $4,865.57 respectively.

However, the Bitcoin rally seemed rather weak – it was vacillating around the $20,000 mark, unable to push above $21,000. Ether did better, staying above $1,000 and rising above $1,100 on Sunday and Monday.

It seems likely that this rally will be short-lived, and could be a short respite before a larger sell-off.

As inflation remains red hot, with rapidly rising interest rates amidst recession fears, there is significant pressure to sell risky cryptocurrencies.

Even though both cryptocurrencies are holding steady right now, be prepared for more sell-offs that could trigger a vicious cycle of forced selling and falling prices.

The 2022 Crypto Winter may have been delayed, and spring isn’t coming soon.

 

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Rapid KL Survey NOT Required For Taxpayer-Paid Free Rides!

You are NOT required to fill in their survey for the free rides on Rapid KL trains or buses subsidised by Malaysian taxpayers!

Here is what you need to know!

 

Free Rapid KL Rides For 1 Month : Subsidised By Taxpayers!

On 16 June 2022, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ismail Sabri Yaakob officially launched the opening of Phase 1 of the MRT Putrajaya Line.

In conjunction with that launch, he announced that all Rapid KL train and bus rides will be free of charge for a month, from 16 June to 15 July 2022. This free ride program also includes KTM Komuter rides in the Klang Valley.

However, it was not some kind of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or launch promotion by Rapid KL. These free rides were subsidised by the Malaysian government, to the tune of RM155 million – RM140 million will go to Rapid KL, while KTM will receive RM15 million.

In other words – taxpayers are ultimately footing the bill for these free rides.

Read more : All Rapid KL + KTM Rides Are FREE For 1 Month!

 

Initially : Rapid KL Requires Survey For Gov-Paid Free Rides?!

About a day after the announcement of the free rides, Rapid KL released its Terms and Conditions (PDF download), in which passengers were asked to participate in their survey, in order to enjoy the Rapid KL Free Rides (RKLFR) programme.

Passengers were asked to either install and register an account the MyRapid PULSE app, and fill in the survey there; or fill in a physical form at the stations. They were also asked to “keep a screenshot or the top portion of the completed [survey] form to enjoy the RKLFR“.

Its Terms & Conditions stated, explicitly, that (with my emphasis in bold) :

5. Customers who are using tokens are required to redeem the token at any of Rapid KL Customer Service Offices (LRT/MRT/Monorail/BRT/ Selected Bus Hubs) and fill up the form in MyRapid PULSE or fill up the hardcopy survey form before entering the gates.

6. Customers who are using cashless (My50 pass, Touch ‘N Go card and Concession card) need to fill up the form in MyRapid PULSE or fill up the hardcopy survey form before entering the gates. 

There was an immediate social media backlash to the requirement to participate in the Rapid KL survey, in return for the taxpayer-sponsored free rides.

 

Now : Rapid KL Survey NOT Required For Taxpayer-Paid Free Rides!

Rapid KL quickly responded to the furore by “clarifying” that passengers are not forced to download the PULSE app, or participate in the survey.

When I took the MRT and LRT recently, there was no one enforcing the survey requirement. I just tapped my Touch ‘n Go card through the gantries. No one asked to check for a completed survey.

However, it is unlikely that the RapidKL Terms & Conditions was a misunderstanding. Rapid KL repeated the “requirements” in social media posts, like this example (with my English translation)

Terma Dan Syarat

2. Muat turun aplikasi MyRapid PULSE untuk menebus 30 hari perjalanan percuma.

Terms And Conditions

2. Download the MyRapid PULSE app to redeem 30 days of free travel.

In another Facebook post, Rapid KL specifically asked passengers to complete the survey to obtain the free rides.  Here is my English translation of their requirements :

To redeem free rides:

  1. Users are encouraged to download the MyRapid PULSE app in Google Play or Apple Store, and register for an account and fill in the provided [survey] form. After the form is completed, users need to take a screenshot and show it to the officer at the station, while passing through the gantry, or on entering a bus.
  2. Forms are also provided at all RapidKL passenger service counters, selected bus hubs, in the bus, and downloadable through the Rapid KL website and social media platforms. Passengers must take a picture or the top portion of the complete form to enjoy RKLFR.
  3. For passengers who do not have Touch ‘n Go card or other passes, they can obtain a free token at the customer service counter by filling in their information through the MyRapid PULSE app or the provided form, before entering the station.

It appears that they genuinely wanted people to participate in their survey, and only backtracked on those requirements after the social media uproar.

Based on my ride experience, they did not appear to station officers to check for the completely survey forms.

But it was possible that they asked people to fill in the form to obtain a free token. I can’t confirm that as I used my own Touch ‘n Go card, and didn’t collect a free token.

In any case, there is NO LONGER a need to fill in any survey form, to enjoy the taxpayer-sponsored rides on Rapid KL trains or buses. If anyone insists on seeing a completed survey form, just say NO.

 

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Chipmakers Brace For Noble Gas Shortage, After Russia Cut Supply!

Chipmakers worldwide are bracing for a noble gas shortage, after Russia cut supplies! Here is what you need to know…

 

Chipmakers Brace For Noble Gas Shortage, After Russia Cut Supply!

On June 2, 2022, the Russian government issued a decree stating that export of noble gases will be subject to Moscow’s approval until December 31, based on the recommendations of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

This effectively cuts or limits the export of critical noble gases to “unfriendly” countries, and was a direct response to the fifth round of sanctions imposed by the European Union in April.

Russia and Ukraine were leading producers of noble gases since the days of the Soviet Union, and jointly supplied about 30% of the chipmaking industry’s supply of neon gas.

Both countries were closely intertwined in their noble gas supply to the world. Russia produced raw neon gas as a byproduct of its steelworks, and sent it to Ukraine for purification. That ceased with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 

How Badly Will Russia Noble Gas Cut Affect Chipmakers?

Noble gases like neon, argon, xenon and helium are critical in the production of microelectronics that power everything from computers to smartphones and cars.

Neon, in particular, plays a critical role in the optical lithographic process used to etch patterns on silicon wafers, creating circuits in semiconductor chips.

The state-of-the-art excimer pulsed laser used to create semiconductors, for example, requires an argon-fluorine-neon mixture, up to 95% of which is made up of exceptionally pure neon gas.

That’s why about 70% of the world’s supply of neon gas (about 540,000 tonnes) is used by the semiconductor industry.

Fortunately, Russia’s decision to cut noble gas supplies may have less impact that they assumed, because chipmakers prepared for such an eventuality.

The semiconductor industry used to rely on Ukraine and Russia for about 80% to 90% of their neon gas supply, but they started diversifying their noble gas supplies after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.

Over the last 7-8 years, they managed to cut down their dependence on Ukraine and Russia to about 30%. And the industry generally maintains gas reserves that would last 3-6 months.

China is the main beneficiary of reduced noble gas supply from Russia. Since the war started, Chinese noble gas producers said that their daily order enquiries have jumped 5X to 6X.

For now, the semiconductor industry does not need to reduce production, but the reduced market supply will mean noble gas prices will remain elevated for some time to come.

Needless to say – this will increase the cost of semiconductors, the cost of which will be passed onto consumers.

 

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Crypto Prices Tank : Bitcoin Below $19K, Ethereum Below $1K!

Cryptocurrency prices continue to tank, with Bitcoin dipping below $19,000 and Ethereal sliding below $1,000!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Crypto Prices Tank : Bitcoin Below $19K, Ethereum Below $1K!

The week is ending on a bad note for cryptocurrencies, as prices continued to tank.

On early Saturday morning, Bitcoin crashed through the $20,000 line, and smashed right through the $19,000 line, trimming 7.4% of its value in less than 1.5 hours!

The $20,000 mark was psychologically-important because Bitcoin first hit it in December 2020. It was also the peak of its last bull run, when it hit a high of $19,834 in December 2017.

Bitcoin has, for the first time, fallen below the peak of its prior bull run; which may well spook traders, if not the HODLers.

It hit the bottom (so far) of $18,811.40 at 8:20 AM, before recovering slightly to hover around the $19,000 to $19,500 range.

Ethereum did even worse, falling from $1,069.70 to just $977.37 – wiping out 8.6% of its value in less than 2 hours!

It recovered, but hovered under $1,000 for most of the day, before dipping to another low of $978.91 at 4:50 PM.

Ethereal first hit $1,000 in January 2018, and never dropped below $1,000 after January 2021.

 

Will Bitcoin, Ethereum Prices Continue To Tank?

Bitcoin and Ethereum are now trading almost 60% lower, compared to last year; and Bitcoin is down over 72% from its all-time high of $68,990.90.

While many HODLers and crypto traders are hoping that this is the bottom, this may only be a short respite before a larger sell-off.

Investors may be forced to liquidate their positions after these psychological lines were breached, possibly triggering a vicious cycle of forced selling and falling prices.

As inflation remains red hot, with rapidly rising interest rates amidst recession fears, there is significant pressure to sell risky cryptocurrencies.

So look forward to more sell-offs, and both Bitcoin and Ethereum breaching more resistance levels. The 2022 Crypto Winter may well be here…

 

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MyDebit Cash Out : Banks To Charge 50 Sen Per Withdrawal!

Banks across Malaysia will start charging 50 sen for each MyDebit Cash Out withdrawal, starting 1 July 2022!

Here is what you need to know…

 

MyDebit Cash Out : Banks To Charge 50 Sen Per Withdrawal!

Effective 1 July 2022, banks across Malaysia will start charging 50 sen for each MyDebit Cash Out withdrawal.

Here are two notices that banks recently issued about this withdrawal fee :

Dear Valued Customers,

Effective 1 July 2022, MyDebit Cash Out fee of RM0.50 per transaction will be imposed at any MyDebit selected merchants/ retailers. MyDebit Cash Out Fee will be payable by the Cardholders.

The maximum limit for MyDebit Cash Out withdrawal is RM500.00 per transaction.

Thank You.

CIMB Bank and CIMB Islamic Bank Berhad

Dear Valued Cardholders,

Please be informed that MyDebit Cash Out Fee will be revised from RM0.00 to RM0.50 per cash out* transaction which will be payable by Cardholders. The revision will be effective 1 July 2022.

Please call our Customer Service at 03-5516 9988 for enquiries.

*Cash Out = Withdrawal of cash at MyDebit selected merchants/retailers.

Thank you.

 

MyDebit Cash Out : What Is It?

For those who are unfamiliar, MyDebit Cash Out is a feature of all ATM and debit cards in Malaysia, which allows you to withdraw cash at select merchants and retailers.

MyDebit Cash Out offers customers an easier way to withdraw cash from their bank accounts, without going to an ATM machine.

The RM 0.50 withdrawal fee only applies if you wish to withdraw cash using your debit card. It does not apply if you pay for your purchases using your debit card.

 

MyDebit Cash Out : Is It Worth Paying The Fee?

The MyDebit Cash Out fee will overwhelmingly affect lower income people, because they are the least able to travel to a bank branch to withdraw their money. They are also less likely to withdraw large amounts of cash at any one time.

So MyDebit Cash Out offers them a convenient way to withdraw money from their bank accounts, as and when they need cash. They will now need to pay for that convenience…

To be sure, the 50 sen fee is cheaper than the RM1 MEPS fee charged for interbank cash withdrawal at the ATM. However, you can only withdraw a maximum of RM500 per transaction through MyDebit Cash Out.

If you wish to withdraw more than RM1,000, it is cheaper to use an ATM from another bank, even if it incurs the MEPS fee.

Of course, if your bank has an ATM nearby, that is your best option – you get to withdraw your money for free!

Read more : MEPS Fee For ATM Cash Withdrawal Now In Effect!

 

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Bill Gates Mocks Crypto + NFTs As Assets For Fools!

Bill Gates is no fan of crypto – labelling crypto assets including NFTs as 100% based on greater fool theory!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Bill Gates Mocks Crypto + NFTs As Assets For Fools!

Speaking at a TechCrunch conference on Tuesday, 14 June 2022, Bill Gates described digital assets like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as something that’s “100% based on greater fool theory“.

The greater fool theory refers to the idea that investors can make money on worthless or overvalued assets, as long as they can fool other people into paying more for them.

In other words, the value of these digital assets are not inherent in their worth, but entirely dependent on whether you can hype them up so “greater fools” will buy them.

Read more : Crypto Boom Scam Alert : Fake Celebrity Endorsements!
Read more : Did Bill Gates Call For Withdrawal Of COVID-19 Vaccines?

 

What Bill Gates Invests In, Instead Of Crypto / NFTs

Bill Gates said that he was not interested in crypto at all – “I’m not involved in that. I’m not long or short any of those things“.

He shared that was only interested in asset classes that actually produce something, “like a farm where they have output, or like a company where they make products“.

He mocked the Bored Apes Yacht Club non-fungible token collection, calling them “expensive digital images of monkeys” that will “improve the world immensely“.

His comments come as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tumbled sharply. Bitcoin – the leading cryptocurrency – crashed from a high of $69,000 in November 2021, to less than $23,000 that day.

It didn’t help that Celsius, a crypto lending firm, paused all account withdrawals, feeling fears of its insolvency and the crypto world as a whole.

The crypto exchange, Coinbase, also announced that it was laying off 18% of its employees as the cryptocurrency market continue to crater.

 

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KL : Lorries + Heavy Vehicles Banned During Peak Hours!

To alleviate traffic jams in and around KL, lorries and heavy vehicles are now banned during peak hours!

Here is what you need to know…

 

KL : Lorries + Heavy Vehicles Banned During Peak Hours!

On 2 June 2022, the Malaysia Department of Transportation (JPJ) announced that lorries and other heavy vehicles are banned from KL roads during peak hours!

This ban was instituted to relieve the heavy traffic jams that KL has experienced recently, particularly during the morning and late afternoon.

With this order, lorries and heavy vehicles are now banned from 6:30 AM until 9:30 AM every morning, and from 4:30 PM until 7:30 PM every afternoon and evening.

 

Lorries + Heavy Vehicles Ban In KL : The Details

Here are the details of the ban on lorries and heavy vehicles in KL :

Which Vehicles Are Affected?

All vehicles with Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) / Berat Dengan Mutton (BDM) of 7,500 kilograms and above (7.5 tonnes and above).

Where + When Are These Vehicles Banned From Entering KL?

Those heavy vehicles are banned at least 5 kilometres from the KL city centre, at entry points into city.

JPJ will erect signboards to notify drivers where they are banned from driving their lorries and heavy vehicles into KL.

Here are the lists of locations and when lorries and heavy vehicles are banned :

Morning + Afternoon Ban

Lorries and heavy vehicles are banned from entering these locations in KL at these times :

  • 6:30 AM until 9:30 AM
  • 4:30 PM until 7:30 PM

Locations :

  1. All roads in the KL city centre
  2. Jalan Kuching, from Taman Wahyu, Jalan Ipoh until the KL city centre
  3. Jalan Cheras, from Taman Midah until the KL city centre
  4. PLUS highway, from Rawang R&R heading towards KL
  5. PLUS highway, from the Bukit Raja toll plaza (Klang) heading towards KL
  6. Jalan Tun Razak
  7. Jalan Istana
  8. Jalan Segambut
  9. Jalan Sentul

Afternoon Only Ban

Lorries and heavy vehicles are banned from entering these locations in KL at these times :

  • 4:30 PM until 7:30 PM

Locations :

  1. Jalan Kepong
  2. Jalan Ipoh, from the Kepong roundabout to Jalan Batu Caves
  3. Karak Highway
  4. Jalan Gombak, from Jalan Kampung Bandar Dalam until the KL border
  5. Jalan Genting Kelang
  6. Jalan Cheras, from Jalan Pudu until Jalan Tenteram
  7. Jalan Sungai Besi, from Jalan Kuchai Lama until the KL-Seremban Highway.
  8. Jalan Kelang Lama (Old Klang Road), from Federal Highway until Jalan Kuchai Lama

What Is The Penalty?

Those who caught driving their lorries or heavy vehicles into KL during the banned hours, will be subject to :

  • a compound of not more than RM300, or
  • charged in court, where the fine of RM300 to RM2000 may be imposed on conviction.

 

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You Can Now Fly To United States Without COVID-19 Test!

You can now fly to the United States without taking any COVID-19 test!

Here is what you need to know!

 

You Can Now Fly To United States Without COVID-19 Test!

17 months ago, the US CDC issued an order requiring all travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test before they can fly to the United States, or present documentation of recovery from COVID-19.

US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky just rescinded that order for all aircraft departing their point of origin on or after Sunday, June 12, 2022, at 12:01 AM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).

I have concluded that continuation of the Order is not currently necessary. There being no operation need to delay implementation of this rescission for more than a short period of time, it shall take effect for all aircraft departing from their point of origin on or after Sunday, June 12, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

That said, the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, said that this decision is based on “science and available data”, and warned that it may be reinstated if things change :

The CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 testing prior to air travel of any kind and will not hesitate to reinstate a pre-departure testing requirement, if needed later. Ensuring the safety and well-being of Americans is a top priority.

 

Current Requirements Before You Fly To United States

This order restores travel requirements to what it was before the pandemic – you will no longer be required to undergo a COVID-19 test, or show proof of COVID-19 recovery, before you fly to the United States.

However, the CDC still recommends that travellers get tested before and after travel, or after known exposure to someone with COVID-19.

They also recommend that travellers “remain up to date with vaccination against COVID-19“, and “wear masks in indoor public transportation settings“.

However, airlines may impose their own requirements, so please make sure you check with your airlines too!

American Citizens / Permanent Residents

The CDC recommendation to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination is no longer mandatory for American citizens.

Foreigners

For foreign travellers, you can fly to the United States without a negative COVID-19 test.

However, the CDC still requires foreigners to be fully-vaccinated before they can fly to the United States. A booster dose is not required.

Only selected foreigners may receive an exemption to this CDC requirement :

  • Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Persons with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
  • Persons with valid visas [excluding B-1 (business) or B-2 (tourism) visas] who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability (See list for updates that will be effective June 28, 2022)
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
  • Sea crew members traveling with to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
  • Persons whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)

But note that if you qualify for the exemption, you may be required to :

  • get tested for COVID-19 within 3-5 days of arrival in the United States, and
  • self-quarantine for 5 days, even if you test negative in the post-arrival test (unless you have documentation of recovering from COVID-19 in the past 90 days), and
  • self-isolate if you test positive in the post-arrival test, or develop COVID-19 symptoms
  • get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you intend to stay in the United States for longer than 60 days

 

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Thailand Decriminalises + Encourages Marijuana Cultivation!

Thailand has not only decriminalised marijuana, they are actively encouraging its cultivation!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Thailand Decriminalises + Encourages Marijuana Cultivation!

On 9 June 2022, Thailand removed marijuana (ganja) from its banned narcotics list, effectively becoming the first country in Asia to decriminalise it.

People in Thailand are now allowed to grow cannabis plants and sell them. In fact, the government is even giving away one million cannabis seedlings to encourage its cultivation!

This is part of the government’s plan to promote medical marijuana, as part of its medical tourism industry. Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said recently :

We should know how to use cannabis. If we have the right awareness, cannabis is like gold, something valuable, and should be promoted.

 

Recreational Marijuana Use Is Still Banned In Thailand

Officially, recreational use is still banned, with cannabis approved only for medical use (since 2018), but the government is unlikely to prosecute anyone smoking marijuana privately.

After all, every household that registers with the government is allowed to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home!

People smoking marijuana in public though could be arrested, and potentially invite a 3-month jail sentence and a 25,000 baht ($725 / RM3.2K) fine under the Public Health Act.

Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said :

We still have regulations under the law that control the consumption, smoking or use of cannabis products in non-productive ways.

We [have always] emphasized using cannabis extractions and raw materials for medical purposes and for health.

There has never once been a moment that we would think about advocating people to use cannabis in terms of recreation — or use it in a way that it could irritate others.

On the other hand, the Thai government will also release about 4,000 people who were convicted of cannabis-related offences and imprisoned.

That suggests that the Thai government is working to relax rules on recreational use, with a wider law on cannabis trade and control being considered.

The current rules also allow people to smoke marijuana in private, as long as they declare it is for medical purposes.

It is also allowed to be used in food and drinks, or other products, as long as they contain less than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical compound that gives people the “high” feeling.

That said, it is quite impossible for the authorities to monitor and regulate how much THC goes into food and drinks… so the line they drew in the sand is already blurred.

 

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Samsung Display To Finally Shut Down LCD Business!

Samsung Display will finally shut down its LCD business in June, closing a chapter in its history!

Here is what we know so far…

 

Samsung Display To Finally Shut Down LCD Business!

Samsung Display originally sought to close its LCD business in 2020, even selling its LCD plant in Suzhou to CSOT, a Chinese company owned by the TCL conglomerate.

Their original 2020 plan to shut down their LCD business was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a surge in LCD prices. Samsung decided to continue their business, until end of 2022. However, LCD prices have fallen rapidly recently, with price pressure from Chinese and Taiwanese rivals.

Its parent company, Samsung Electronics, was their largest buyer; but even it has agreed to purchase displays from Chinese and Taiwanese companies like BOE Technology Group and AU Optronics Corps.

 

Samsung Display To Finally Shut Down LCD Business!

In light of such challenging market conditions, Samsung Display decided to close its LCD business six months earlier.

From June 2022 onwards, Samsung Display will stop producing LCD panels used for large TV screens, and focus instead on manufacturing OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) and Quantum Dot displays.

Employees from its LCD display business are expected to be transferred to its Quantum Dot display business.

 

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Foxconn To Build New 12-Inch Wafer Fab In Malaysia!

Foxconn just announced that they will be building a 12-inch wafer fab in Malaysia!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Foxconn To Build New 12-Inch Wafer Fab In Malaysia!

On 17 May 2022, Foxconn announced that their wholly-owned subsidiary, Big Innovation Holdings Limited (BIH) will form a joint venture company with Dagang NeXchange Berhad (DNeX), to build and operate a new 12-inch wafer fabrication plant in Malaysia.

Both DNeX and BIH have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on build and operate the new 12-inch wafer fab.

Under the MOU, DNeX and BIH will work together to “decide the location of the New Fab in Malaysia, financing structure of the project, and initial management structure and key personnel of the New Fab.

The new fab is expected to produce 40,000 wafers a month, using 28-nanometer and 40-nanometer process technologies developed in 2011 and 2008 respectively.

The 28nm and 40nm process technologies are not new, but they are still in high demand for less complex chips used in industrial, consumer electronics and automotive applications.

 

New 12-Inch Foxconn Wafer Fab In Malaysia : Not A Done Deal

While this is exciting news for Malaysia, it is not a done deal. Both companies only signed a Memorandum of Understanding, not a contract.

There are no concrete details of where the wafer fab will be located, or how much Foxconn will invest. It is also unknown how many jobs this project would create.

One would do well to remember the $10 billion project that Foxconn announced with the Trump Administration in July 2017.

Foxconn was supposed to build and operate a 20-million square foot manufacturing campus in Wisconsin, that would build flat panel displays, and create 13,000 jobs, in return for $3 billion in subsidies.

In the end, that massive flat panel project was abandoned and downsized into a network operations and storage centre worth about $672 million, creating only 1,454 new jobs.

 

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EU Air Travel : Face Mask + Physical Distancing Not Required!

You will not longer be required to wear a face mask, or physically distance, during air travel to and from EU countries!

Here is what you need to know…

 

EU Air Travel : Face Mask + Physical Distancing Not Required!

On 11 May 2022, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued a joint statement, dropping their recommendation for the mandatory wearing of a face mask as well as physical distancing in airports and on flights.

From Monday, 16 May 2022 onwards, you will no longer be required to wear a face mask at airports, or onboard a flight across the European Union.

However, travellers with respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) are strongly recommended to wear a face mask.

Airports are also no longer required to strictly implement physical distancing. Rather, they should adopt “a pragmatic approach”, and avoid imposing distancing requirements if they “will likely lead to a bottleneck”.

Airport operators are also not required to impose physical distancing if they are “not required at national or regional level”.

That said, they are still asking airport operators to encourage physical distancing where possible, particularly in the meet and greet areas and around baggage carousels.

 

Face Mask + Physical Distancing Not Required In EU, But Still Recommended!

While the EU will no longer require you to wear a face mask, or impose strict physical distancing during air travel, they are both still highly recommended to prevent COVID-19.

Here are selected excerpts from the latest EASA and ECDC guidelines (PDF) for air travel in the European Union :

Medical Face Masks

Medical face masks (hereafter referred to also as ‘face masks’) are among the most efficient means to prevent the transmission of SARS-COV-2 including existing VOCs. As such, the wearing of masks should be considered in crowded indoor and outdoor settings, including air travel.

If the departure or destination States require wearing of face masks in public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to wear a face mask beyond 16 May 2022.

In other cases, starting 16 May 2022, aircraft and aerodrome operators should continue to encourage passengers and crew members, as part of their pre-flight communications as well as during travel through signage and announcements, to wear a face mask during flight as well as in the airport as a way to protect themselves and others and that they should respect others’ decision to wear or to not wear a mask.

In their communication, operators should highlight that people at high risk for severe COVID-19 are advised to wear an FFP2 respirator mask during the flight for their own protection. Experimental studies indicate that respirators are more effective than medical face masks both in limiting the release of infectious respiratory droplets when worn by the infectious source and in limiting the exposure when worn by the exposed person. 

People with respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) are strongly recommended to wear a medical face mask irrespective of the requirements on that particular flight. 

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing, alongside the proper wearing of face masks, has proven among the most effective non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent SARS-CoV-2 (including VOCs) transmission. Physical distancing should be encouraged in all airport areas, the arrival terminal (with a particular focus for the meet and greet area) and around the baggage carousels. Signage and communication material should continue to encourage physical distancing where possible. 

However, implementation experience has shown that in some cases, strict physical distancing measures in the aviation environment (airport and aircraft) is not operationally feasible and creates additional unintended bottlenecks in other areas, increasing the exposure times and leading to operational delays touching the flight time limitation requirements and, consequently, flight safety. Physical distancing could therefore be added to the use of face masks where operationally feasible and where it does not result in additional crowding in other areas. If physical distancing measures cannot be implemented, the use of face masks should be encouraged for passengers. 

PPE For Airline / Airport Crew + Staff

Airport operators, aircraft operators and service providers/suppliers should provide the necessary PPE to their staff members and ensure that they are trained in its appropriate use: 

— Staff members who interact with passengers directly (e.g. cabin crew members, security check agents, assistants for passengers with reduced mobility, cleaning staff, etc.) should be encouraged to properly wear a medical face mask or, where available and the legal framework permits, a higher-standard face mask (e.g. FFP2/N95/KN95 respirators). 

— Staff should be encouraged to practise respiratory hygiene at all times as well as frequent hand hygiene, either via appropriate hand-washing or by applying an alcohol-based hand disinfectant. The use of a protective gown or a one-use plastic apron can be considered for tasks that may expose staff to splashes. 

— Flight crew members should be encouraged to wear a face mask whenever interacting with, or in the proximity of, other people. Once they are in the flight compartment and the door is closed, flight crew members may remove their masks subject to their operator’s policy and mutual agreement. Furthermore, the flight’s crew members should remove their masks for emergency situations and whenever requested by appropriate authorities for official purposes such as identification or alcohol testing. 

— Aircraft operators should have on board one or more Universal Precaution Kits (UPKs. Such kits should be used by crew members who are assisting passengers with COVID-

 

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Did Putin Force EU Countries To Pay For Gas In Rubles?!

Did Russian President Vladimir Putin force EU countries to pay for their gas in rubles?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : Putin Forced EU Countries To Pay For Gas In Rubles!

People are sharing a comic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a story of how he cleverly forced EU countries like Poland, Austria and Bulgaria to pay for gas in rubles.

12 hours ago: Russia shuts down the gas pipeline to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to pay with the ruble.

10 hours ago: Poland agrees to pay the price of gas with ruble.

6 hours ago: Austria and Bulgaria agree to pay the price of gas in rubles.

5 hours ago: The European Commission licensing European countries to buy gas with ruble.

 

Truth : Putin Did NOT Force EU Countries To Pay For Gas In Rubles!

The truth is this is just more pro-Russian propaganda and FAKE NEWS, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : EU Countries Have Gas Contracts With Gazprom In USD / Euros

First, we need to establish the fact that EU countries like Poland, Austria and Bulgaria have existing gas contracts with Russian energy company Gazprom.

On 23 March 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian central bank, government and Gasprom to demand that “unfriendly countries” must pay for their gas in rubles.

However, as those existing gas contracts are specifically stipulated to be paid in US dollars or Euros, it would be a material breach of contract.

Fact #2 : Poland Refuses To Pay For Gas In Rubles

Gazprom stopped exporting gas to Poland on 27 April 2022, after Poland refused to pay for the gas in rubles.

The Polish state gas company PGNiG, has an existing contract with Gazprom to provide 53% of its gas imports to be paid in Euros. They described the suspension of gas supply as a breach of contract, and said that they will take steps to reinstate the gas supply.

However, Poland continues to refuse to pay Gazprom in rubles.

Fact #3 : Poland Does Not Need Russian Gas

The Polish deputy foreign minister said that Poland has “taken some decisions many years ago to prepare for such a situation“, and can cope without gas from Gazprom.

Poland also formally commissioned a new gas interconnection with Lithuania on 5 May 2022, eventually providing billion cubic metres of LNG per year.

Fact #4 : Bulgaria Refuses To Pay For Gas In Rubles

Gazprom also stopped exporting gas to Bulgaria on 27 April 2022, because Bulgaria refused to pay for the gas in rubles.

Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said that Gazprom will be in breach of its contract if it stops supplying gas.

However, Bulgaria continues to refuse to pay Gazprom in rubles.

Fact #5 : Bulgaria Does Not Need Russian Gas

Despite relying on Gazprom for 90% of its gas supply, Bulgaria said that it had taken steps to find alternative sources, and that no restrictions on gas consumption was currently required.

Interestingly, Bulgarian gas network operator Bulgartransgaz said that Gazprom was still supplying gas to Bulgaria…

Fact #6 : Austria Refuses To Pay For Gas In Rubles

Austria publicly denounced the fake news that they agreed to pay for Russian gas in rubles. In a Twitter post, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said :

Before the fake news of Russian propaganda is spread further here. Of course, OMV will continue to pay for gas delivery from Russian in euros.

Fact #7 : EC Did Not Licence Payment For Gas In Rubles

The fake news also falsely claimed that the European Commission licensed European countries to buy gas from Russia with the ruble.

There is no such “licence”.

In fact, the European Commission has specifically stated that EU companies must pay for Russian gas in euros or US dollars to avoid breaching sanctions.

Fact #8 : GazpromBank Is Converting Payments To Rubles

In an effort to comply with existing contracts, as well as Putin’s decree, Gazprom has been working with EU companies to come up with a workaround :

  • EU companies will deposit their payment in euros or US dollars at GazpromBank.
  • Gazprom agrees that payment has been legally completed.
  • GazpromBank converts the euros or dollars into rubles.
  • GazpromBank transfers the payment in rubles to Gazprom.

This workaround was considered legal by the EC, as both Gazprom and GazpromBank are currently not subject to EU sanctions.

Many pro-Russian and pro-CCP netizens are sharing this fake story on WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter and Facebook.

Please help us FIGHT FAKE NEWS by sharing this fact check article out!

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Did China Lock Down Shanghai To Spite US Over Ukraine?!

Did China lock down Shanghai, not to fight COVID-19, but to spite US companies over the Ukraine war?

Take a look at the viral article, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : China Locked Down Shanghai To Spite US Over Ukraine War!

People are sharing an article by Kanthan Pillay, which claimed that China locked down Shanghai not to fight COVID-19 but to spite US companies over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It’s a rather long post, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts…

Shanghai Lockdown Not Because Of Covid -19!!

Two weeks after Russia’s forces moved into Ukraine, China locked down Shanghai.

Let me hit you with some bullet points:

More than 800 multinational corporations have regional headquarters in Shanghai . Among them, 121 are Fortune Global 500 companies, including Apple, Qualcomm, General Motors, Pepsico.

More than 70 000 foreign companies have offices in Shanghai. More than 24 000 of these are Japanese.

 

Truth : China Did NOT Lock Down Shanghai To Spite US Over Ukraine War!

I have read many conspiracy theories about China and the Ukraine War, but this has to be one of the stupidest I have read to date.

I cannot believe I have to actually explain why China did not lock down Shanghai just to spite US companies over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But here we go…

Fact #1 : China Has Been Locking Down Cities Since 2020

First, I should point out that China has been locking down cities since the COVID-19 pandemic started in Wuhan.

This isn’t a new tactic. China locks down entire cities as part of their COVID Zero policy.

In fact, China locked down 4 additional cities in the first two months of 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine :

  • 4 January : Yuzhou, Henan province
  • 11 January : Anyang and Zhengzhou, Henan province
  • 7 February : Baise, Jilin province

It is therefore ridiculous for Kanthan Pillay to claim that China locked down Shanghai to spite US companies.

Fact #2 : Shanghai’s COVID-19 Outbreak Began On 28 February

Ironically, Shanghai’s COVID-19 outbreak began on the same day Russia chose to invade Ukraine – 28 February 2022.

I’m surprised Kanthan Pillay did not suggest that the Chinese introduced the Shanghai outbreak as part of a false flag operation to spite US companies. LOL!

Fact #3 : Shanghai Lockdown Only Started A Month Later

Kanthan Pillay falsely claimed that China locked down Shanghai two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine. Why two weeks? Why not immediately?

In any case, Shanghai only adopted “area-separated and batch-separated control” on 28 March 2022 – a month after their COVID-19 outbreak started, and a month after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Only a week later – on 5 April 2022, did Shanghai put the entire city under lockdown.

Read more : Did US Refuse WHO Investigation Of Fort Detrick?!

Fact #4 : Hong Kong Has More Regional HQs Than Shanghai

In his first “bullet point”, Kanthan Pillay said that more than 800 multinational corporations have their regional headquarters in Shanghai.

What he does not point out to you is that Hong Kong has almost twice as many regional headquarters as Shanghai – 1,457 as of 2021.

If the Chinese wanted to “attack” US companies by targeting their regional headquarters, they would do better to lock down Hong Kong.

But wait – Hong Kong is still NOT under lockdown, even with a massive surge of Omicron cases.

Fact #5 : Regional HQ Not As Important As Factories

Kanthan Pillay does not seem to understand that regional headquarters are not as critical to US companies as the factories that produce goods for them.

Many employees of these regional headquarters can conduct their work from home, even hold meetings virtually from anywhere in the world. So using regional headquarters and design centres as examples of Chinese sabotage is stupid.

Factories, on the other hand, cannot produce goods virtually. Hence, factories that produce goods for US companies are far more important than regional HQs and design centres.

Fact #6 : Shanghai Lockdown Affects All Companies

Kanthan Pillay is apparently unaware thatChina’s lockdown of Shanghai is not limited to US citizens or companies.

The Shanghai lockdown affects all residents, whether they are Chinese citizens or foreigners. Similarly, Chinese companies are affected just as badly as their Western counterparts.

Even more importantly – there are far more Chinese companies in Shanghai than Western companies. More Chinese citizens are being employed by Chinese companies in Shanghai, than Western companies.

If China intentionally locked down Shanghai to spite US companies, they would be sacrificing their own economy to do that.

The Chinese are not quite so stupid as to cut off their noses, just to spite their own faces.

Read more : Is Malaysia Going To Supply Russia With Semiconductors?!

Fact #7 : TSMC Shanghai Fab Is Not State Of Art

Kanthan Pillay also seems to be unaware that the TSMC plant in China is not state of the art, and does not manufacture 7 nm or 5 nm chips as he alleged.

The TSMC Fab 10 foundry in Shanghai was completed around the end of 2004, and produces 8-inch wafers using old 0.25 micron and 0.35 micron processes from the 1990s.

Fact #8 : Shanghai Semiconductor Companies Not Affected By Lockdown

Despite the entire city of Shanghai being under strict lockdown, its semiconductor companies continued to maintain full production.

They managed to achieve this through closed-loop systems, where most employees work on-site while others work remotely from home.

Both TSMC and SMIC say that they are maintaining full production in Shanghai using such closed-loop systems.

Fact #9 : Companies Can Shift To Other Countries

Kanthan Pillay ludicrously believe that China shut down Shanghai to deliver “a body blow to global giants in the US sphere of influence“.

Multinational companies, especially those from the West, can and have shifted to other countries or states, if conditions become unfavourable.

Some have already started shifted production from China to Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

If China did really do this just to spite US companies, it would be one more reason to shift their operations to other countries. It’s not like they can only build factories in China.

Fact #10 : Chinese Sacrifice Will Not Help Russia

What Kanthan Pillay does not explain is WHY on Earth would China sacrifice its own people and economy to help Russia?

And how does crippling Shanghai’s economy help Russia? Sure, Tesla will miss its production target… again, but so what?

These are public-listed companies, not the US government. Whatever happens to these companies won’t have a material effect on the US government, only its shareholders.

Needless to say – it won’t sway Western sanctions on Russia, and it certainly won’t help Russia in any way.

Read more : What Should China Worry About Russia-Ukraine War?

Fact #11 : Western Economies Are Still Doing Fine

Kanthan Pillay ended his article by claiming that such actions by Russia and China have “brought the economies of the Western powers to a grinding halt“.

I have no idea what he has been smoking, but it must be some fantastic shit, because none of the Western economies are remotely close to collapsing!

In fact, the US Fed just made the biggest interest rate increase in 22 years, announcing a 0.5% interest rate hike to tackle inflation.

Other Western economies are poised to similarly raise their interest rates. They would not be raising interest rates if their economies were collapsing as Pillay alleged.

The Kanthan Pillay article is nothing more than a meaningless self-masturbatory fantasy.

Unfortunately, it’s being widely shared by the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛) and pro-CCP netizens.

Please help us FIGHT FAKE NEWS by sharing this fact check article out!

 

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Name : Adrian Wong
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Malaysia : No More COVID-19 Test / Insurance For Travellers!

Travellers to Malaysia will NO LONGER be required to undergo pre-departure and on-arrival testing for COVID-19, or purchase travel insurance!

 

Malaysia : No More COVID-19 Test For Most Travellers!

On 27 April 2022, the Malaysia Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin announced a wide range of COVID-19 liberalisation moves :

Starting Sunday, May 1, 2022, these groups of travellers will NO LONGER be required to undergo pre-departure testing and on-arrival testing for COVID-19!

  • Fully-vaccinated individuals who are 13 years or older
  • Individuals who recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6-60 days
  • Individuals who are 12 years or younger, regardless of vaccination status

This ruling applies to both Malaysian citizens, as well as foreigners, including those performing the Hat and even foreign workers.

Please note that ALL travellers must still submit information through the Travellers option in MySejahtera, and obtain the Travellers digital card.

Travellers who are 13 years or older, and are not yet fully vaccinated, must continue with the existing testing and quarantine protocol :

  • Not vaccinated with medical exemption : pre-departure PCR test within 2 days, professional RTK-Ag within 24 hours of arrival, no quarantine.
  • Partially-vaccinated / unvaccinated (13-17 yo) : pre-departure PCR test within 2 days, professional RTK-Ag within 24 hours of arrival, no quarantine.
  • Partially vaccinated / unvaccinated : pre-departure PCR test within 2 days, professional RTK-Ag within 24 hours of arrival, 5-day quarantine.
  • Partially vaccinated / unvaccinated post COVID-19 : pre-departure professional RTK-Ag within 2 days (or Fit To Travel letter if hospitalised), professional RTK-Ag within 24 hours of arrival, 5-day quarantine.

Travellers who test positive on arrival in Malaysia will be asked to undergo a professional RTK-Ag test on-the-spot.

To make it easier for you to understand, I created this table to summarise the new rules :

Vaccination Status Pre-Departure On Arrival Additional Test
or Quarantine
Child (< 13 Years) * No Test Required No Test
No Quarantine
Travellers From
Singapore
Boosted (≥18 Years)
Fully Vaccinated (≥ 13 Years)
Fully Vaccinated +
Post-COVID-19 (6-60 Days)
Partially-Vaccinated or
Unvaccinated (13-17 Years)
PCR test
within 2 days
Professional
RTK-Ag
within 24 hours
of arrival

On-Arrival
Professional
RTK-Ag
for travellers
transiting to
Sabah or
Sarawak
Not Vaccinated with
Medical Exemption
Partially Vaccinated or
Unvaccinated (≥18 Years)
5-Day Quarantine
with
Day 4 PCR or
Day 5 RTK

Partially Vaccinated
or Unvaccinated

+ Post-COVID-19
(6-60 Days)
Professional
RTK-Ag
within 2 days
or FTT letter **
if hospitalised

* By year of birth
** Also professional RTK-Ag if recovered from COVID-19 infection 6-60 days before departure
*** FTT = Fit To Travel

 

Malaysia : No More COVID-19 Insurance For Foreign Travellers!

Foreign travellers were earlier required to purchase COVID-19 and travel insurance with coverage of at least US$20,000 before travelling to Malaysia.

Only these groups are earlier exempted from the requirement to purchase COVID-19 and travel insurance :

  • Fully-vaccinated citizens of Singapore or Malaysia
  • Fully-vaccinated permanent residents of Singapore or Malaysia
  • Fully-vaccinated Long-term Pass Holders of Singapore or Malaysia

That changes from Sunday, May 1, 2022 onwards – the US$20K travel insurance requirement is NO LONGER REQUIRED for ALL foreign travellers!

So foreigners can travel to Malaysia without that additional cost. Of course, getting travel insurance is always a good idea.

 

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Name : Adrian Wong
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Malaysia : Unvaccinated Allowed To Enter All Premises!

Malaysia will allow unvaccinated individuals to enter all premises!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Unvaccinated Will Be Allowed To Enter All Premises!

On 27 April 2022, the Malaysia Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin announced a wide range of COVID-19 liberalisation moves :

Starting Sunday, May 1, 2022unvaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter all private or public premises, s!

Owners of premises are only required to check the MySejahtera app of people entering, to prevent entry by :

  • Individuals who are still positive for COVID-19
  • Individuals who are still undergoing HSO (Home Surveillance Order) quarantine
    This includes travellers who are not fully-vaccinated, and just arrived in Malaysia

So please make sure you continue to use MySejahtera, even though it will also not be mandatory to check-in using the MySejahtera QR code.

You are also strongly advised to enable MySJ Trace, to help facilitate accurate contact tracing.

Read more : How To Enable + Disable MySJ Trace In MySejahtera

 

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Name : Adrian Wong
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Day 4 Test + Release For COVID-19 Positive In Malaysia!

Malaysia will initiate a faster Day 4 Test + Release procedure for COVID-19 positive cases!

Here is what you need to know…

 

Day 4 Test + Release For COVID-19 Positive In Malaysia!

On 27 April 2022, the Malaysia Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin announced a wide range of COVID-19 liberalisation moves :

Starting Sunday, May 1, 2022, this will be the new optional Test + Release procedure for COVID-19 positive cases :

  1. Once you test positive for COVID-19, you must undergo a 7-day HSO (Home Surveillance Order) quarantine.
  2. On Day 4 of the quarantine, you can undergo a supervised (physical or virtual) RTK-Ag test for COVID-19.
  3. The test result will be uploaded into your MySejahtera by the medical practitioner :
    a) If the test result is negative, you may end your quarantine with immediate effect
    b) If the test result is positive, you must complete your 7-day quarantine

No further test is required on Day 7, or thereafter, for those who tested positive on Day 4. You are immediately released from your quarantine.

Please note that the Day 4 test and release procedure is completely optional, and is meant to offer an expedited release from the HSO quarantine.

You can choose NOT to undertake the supervised RTK-Ag test on Day 4 of your quarantine. You just need to complete the full 7-day quarantine, and you will be released automatically.

 

Please Support My Work!

Support my work through a bank transfer /  PayPal / credit card!

Name : Adrian Wong
Bank Transfer : CIMB 7064555917 (Swift Code : CIBBMYKL)
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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