Vietnam's Economic Miracle Unabated – New Tiger Is Born, Report Says
 
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Aug 12, 2018
Category:

A latest commentary by Qatar National Bank (QNB) on Asian economies stated that Vietnam has become one of Asia’s, as well as the world’s fastest growing economies and can been seen as Asia’s latest “tiger” nation in the tradition of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea in the 1970s and 1980s and the so-called “tiger cub” economies of the following generation, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and, more recently, India.

QNB names a range of indicators for Vietnam’s booming economy. GDP growth was 7.1 per cent in the first six months of 2018 as compared to the first half of 2017, which makes it the fastest growth since 2011. The manufacturing sector is leading with output up 13.1 per cent in the period, while construction is also playing a strong supporting role with output in that sector up 7.9 per cent.

According to QNB analysts, Vietnam’s manufacturing boom brings surging exports. Monthly trade statistics can be highly volatile but the latest data show goods exports up over 20 per cent in the first half of the year, following growth of over 17 per cent in 2017 as a whole.

Manufacturing and export success has been driven by Vietnam’s ability to attract large foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into sectors such as clothing, footwear and, above all, electronics. It is now estimated for example that one in ten smartphones worldwide are now made in Vietnam. Latest data show FDI inflows also booming. These were worth an estimated $13 billion in the first half of 2018 with an 11-per cent year-on-year growth. To put these FDI inflows in context, Vietnam’s GDP in 2017 was worth around $220 billion, according to the latest data from the International Monetary Fund.

The foundation of Vietnam’s success is obvious: favourable demographics and low wage rates. Political stability also helps as does the country’s geographical location. Vietnam is also close to major global supply chains, particularly in electronics, which have emerged over the last decade or so.

But these factors are far from specific to Vietnam and so only explain a portion of its success. Recent research from the Brookings Institute think tank in the US highlights that it has been the ability to build on these solid foundations through good policies is what really sets Vietnam apart.

Three factors in particular have been critical. First, while many in the West are questioning the benefits of free trade, Vietnam has zealously pursued trade liberalisation on both a multilateral and bilateral basis. Vietnam, for example, has recently concluded a free trade agreement with the European Union which eliminates nearly all tariffs between the two. Trade agreements have dramatically lowered the external tariffs its exports face, helping integrate Vietnam into the global economy and further accelerating FDI investments.

Second, Vietnam’s investments in human capital, i.e. education, have been impressive, helping the country maximise its demographic potential. A stand out is that the OECD’s latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests high school students in mathematics, science and other subjects, ranked Vietnam an impressive 8th out of 72 participating countries; ahead of many leading OECD economies, let alone of many of its Southeast Asian peers.

Third, investments in human capital have been supported by progress in improving the country’s business climate. Vietnam has steadily moved up in both the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness index and also the World Bank’s ease of doing business survey. Investments in physical infrastructure such as power generation, roads and bridges and container port capacity have been vital in supporting Vietnam’s rich human capital.

 
 
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China's BAT companies ramp up competition in streaming sports content
 
China Knowledge Online
Aug 08, 2018
Category:

Aug 07, 2018 (China Knowledge) - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are recognized as China's top three tech giants—the so-called "BAT". Baidu-backed online video portal Iqiyi announced on Monday that it had inked a deal with Super Sports Media Inc. to set up a joint venture specialized in sports streaming, kicking off even fiercer competition among BATs for dominant market shares in sports businesses.

Iqiyi is expected to grab streaming rights for 2018/2019 English Premier League soccer with the founding of new joint venture. Increasing costs for purchasing copyrights of series and entertainment TV shows, and attempt to absorb new subscribers are two dominant drivers for Iqiyi to shift focus to sports streaming business.

According to a recent report by Iqiyi, it has spent nearly RMB 4.7 billion (USD 690 million) on content in Q2, up 47% YoY, accounting for 77% of total costs. Against the backdrop of across-the-board rising content spends, the once unacceptable prices of sports copyrights seem less forbidding.

Sports streaming will also help absorb new subscribers, especially male users. Statistics provided by QuestMobile shows that Youku's daily active users (DAV) hit record 100 million in June thanks in part to its digital broadcast of the 2018 World Cup.

Major streaming sites have pumped an increasing amount of money to win sports streaming rights since 2014. Ahead of Iqiyi's move to tap into sports streaming market, Alibaba-owned Youku won Chinese digital streaming rights to the 2018 World Cup. Tencent, the first mover of BAT to provide exclusive sports broadcast services, has held the rights to live stream NBA and CBA game series.

 
 
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Time to Say Goodbye to Plastic Straws, but What's the Best Alternative
 
Aug 06, 2018
Category:

Companies in Taiwan and the world are phasing out the use of plastic straws in the name of protecting the environment and marine life. How much impact could banning plastic straws really make? What is the best replacement for plastic straws?

The once ubiquitous and popular item has become a symbol of our throw-away culture and the proliferation of non-recyclable materials. In the US and UK alone, 550 million plastic straws are thrown away every day, according to Plastic Oceans Foundation.

Along with single-use carrier bags and disposable cups, the plastic straw’s fall from grace has gone hand-in-hand with an increasing awareness of the damage they are causing, particularly to marine life. Around 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans each year, according to the United Nations Environment Assembly.

After the BBC television programme Blue Planet 2 underscored the devastating effects plastic can have on sea creatures, and millions of people watched a video of researchers extracting a straw from the nostril of a sea turtle, companies and governments have started to take action.

Starbucks is one example. The global coffee chain said it plans to phase out the 1 billion plastic straws it uses each year by 2020. Demand for straws had been increasing alongside the popularity of cold drinks, it said, with cold beverages making up half of all sales in 2017, up from 37% five years ago. Soon, when you visit Starbucks for a cold drink, you’ll be offered a recyclable lid you can sip through.

The company joins other high-profile brands moving away from straws. McDonald’s is replacing plastic straws with paper ones in all its restaurants in the UK and Ireland and plans to start testing alternatives the US, France, Sweden, Norway and Australia.

IKEA will ban plastic straws in the UK and Ireland later this year and plans to remove single-use plastics from its global product range by the end of the decade. And Hyatt Hotels Corporation said that from September plastic straws and drink picks will be offered “on request only and eco-friendly alternatives will be provided where available.” Even the Queen of England has turned anti-straw.

But not everyone is happy about the straw’s demise, since they are helpful for people that can’t raise a cup to their mouth to drink. And while Starbucks has responded to these concerns, saying anyone who needs a straw can request one made of “alternative materials,” the benefits may prove difficult to match.

Others have questioned how much banning plastic straws will actually help. Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist estimates that straws make up a relatively small proportion of all plastic waste in the oceans and argues that clamping down in other areas, for example reducing how much old fishing gear is dumped and lessening company waste, would be more effective than banning straws.

For disabled people and the elderly, plastic straws are flexible and can withstand the temperature of hot coffee, tea or soup, making them useful for eating and drinking. And campaigners say the alternatives -- which include paper, glass or stainless steel -- are unsuitable for use because they either disintegrate or conduct heat.

The World Health Organisation estimates that there are more than 600 million people with disability in the world, and while not all of those will need to use straws to eat and drink, it does give some idea of the scale of the issue.

In Seattle, where a ban came into effect on 1 July, the law says companies can make exceptions for people who require plastic straws. Even so, disability rights groups said firms don’t fully understand that they can still offer straws to those that need them, and the alternatives offered aren’t adequate replacements.

Some campaigners complain that companies and governments are acting in response to their concerns -- changing policies after they’ve been implemented -- rather than proactively considering disability needs when shaping legislation. Scotland’s government wants to outlaw plastic straws by the end of 2019 and has appointed a disability adviser to its expert panel to help make sure “the actions taken do not disproportionately affect disabled people.”

Putting the onus on disabled people to remember their own straws or wash a reusable alternative isn’t a viable or fair solution, campaigners say, as in many cases they may not be able to do so and if they forget to carry a straw with them the consequences of dehydration could be severe.

In a blog post on Greenpeace’s web site, Jamie Szymkowiak, the co-Founder of disability rights group, One in Five, called on manufacturers to produce an environmentally friendly flexible non-plastic straw that is suitable for hot and cold drinks.

Paper is unsuitable because it becomes soggy and a choking risk, he says. Silicone alternatives are not flexible enough and metal, glass and bamboo present dangers for people who have difficulty controlling their bite.

While in their current form, plastic straws can take between 100 and 1,000 years to decompose, biodegradable plastics may offer a viable alternative, since they can break down in as little as 12 weeks under the right conditions. Shunned so far because they cost more than double traditional plastic and because they can’t be easily distinguished from their non-biodegradable cousins, they may yet become part of the way forward.

“We must all work together to demand an environmentally friendly solution that meets all our needs, including those of disabled people,” Szymkowiak says.

“As we move to ridding our oceans, beaches and parks of unnecessary single-use plastics, disabled people shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat by large corporations, or governments, unwilling to push suppliers and manufacturers to produce a better solution.”

By Emma Charlton

Edited by Shawn Chou

 
 
iFlytek AI Hospital is Ongoing in Anhui and Beyond
 
Aug 03, 2018
Category:

In the outpatient hall of Anhui Provincial Hospital of China, an artificial intelligent (AI) robot named “Xiao yi” is wandering around to assist doctors with making initial diagnosis for patients.

Artificial Intelligence Aided Diagnosis and Treatment Center, which is established jointly by Anhui Provincial Hospital of China and iFlytek, has been operated for almost a year since August 20, 2017. “Xiao yi” is one example of the AI programs applied in the hospital to help with medical cases.

LU Xiaoliang, deputy general manager of iFlytek, said, “I’m glad we chose to research on application of AI in the medical sector rather than medical informatization or internet-based medical treatment. We believe it can improve both efficiency and ability of the doctor.”

iFlytek has multiple advantages of high technology, such as voice technology, image recognition and natural language processing. Moreover, they recognized that medical problems root in the lack of high-quality medical resources which can be settled by AI through empowering doctors.

“Yun Yisheng”, meaning cloud doctor, is another clinical application of iFlytek in the form of APP. It integrates several systems including medical advice entry, image data examining and medical record writing to improve physician’s productivity.

QI Yinbao, a doctor from neurosurgery department, said, “ Yun Yisheng not only makes us more efficient by reducing medical record writing time, but also provides us a platform to learn by ourselves through reading latest research and comparing our diagnosis with intelligent diagnosis. Besides, it has high security level to prevent data from divulging.”

Image diagnosis cloud platform also enables Doctor QI to help rural practitioners remotely, and this is vital for speeding up diagnosis and preventing misdiagnosis in diseases concerning lung and breast.

The number of “Yun Yisheng” views by clinicians increased from 1500 in 2017 to 2260 in first half year of 2018 alone, in other words, there is an average increase from 1.15 to 1.5 per day, indicating that more and more clinicians are using this APP.

Challenges do occur as YAN Guang, the vice president of the hospital, put it, “It is difficult to establish a standard for Intelligent Hospital, but we are trying to make it according to the development of hospital and its classification. Furthermore, administrative obstacles should be overcome for the sake of the patients.”

LU Xiaoliang shared similar view, for iFlytek needs to develop related technologies as well as build up a business mode. “Government’s support is crucial for promoting the program”, he said, “AI medical treatment first needs to pass the audit standards, such as the standard set by CFDA, then it should be industrialized through a certain business mode, such as putting AI project into medical insurance.”

Challenges come along with opportunities. Since the establishment of Intelligent Hospital, the government has invested 3.8 million yuan and a team is formed special for AI application developing.

Besides Anhui Provincial Hospital of China, iFlytek is also cooperating with more than 100 third class hospitals nationwide,and looking for more in the future.

(Written by Mairebaha, Edited by GUO Jianjian, USTC News Center)

SOURCE / University of Science and Technology of China

 
 
Kimchi, a well-known traditional fermented Korean food, has proven effective against influenza virus
 
Jul 26, 2018
Category:

- Lactic acid bacteria, green onion and ginger in kimchi serve as natural antiviral agents, highly effective in preventing influenza.
- Kimchi has the greatest antiviral effect when it is the most delicious (best fermentation periods).
- When the SARS epidemic swept China, some argued that kimchi had safeguarded Koreans against the epidemic.
- A joint research team from the Korea Food Research Institute and the World Institute of Kimchi proved kimchi's effectiveness against flu for the first time in the world.

SEOUL, South Korea, July 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Kimchi, a well-known traditional fermented Korean food, is highly effective in preventing influenza virus in winter, according to the results of cell·animal experiments.

A joint research team from the Korea Food Research Institute and the World Institute of Kimchi recently announced that lactic acid bacteria and fermentation metabolites in kimchi inhibit the growth of influenza virus -- proving kimchi's effectiveness against flu for the first time in the world, along with the genetic information of strains(metagenome), fermentation metabolites, and bioactive mechanism.

Flu viruses are pathogens that cause acute respiratory conditions in winter. Swine flu (influenza A), which struck the world in 2009, and avian influenza (AI), which recently infected poultry in some countries, are two strains of influenza viruses. Due to mutation of virus, the prevention of flu from these kinds of viruses is so difficult, and infections caused by them are difficult to treat as well.

The research team, which consists of Dr. Kim, In-Ho (Korea Food Research Institute), Dr. Choi, Hak-Jong (World Institute of Kimchi), Korea University College of Medicine, and Dr. Ryu, Byung Hee (Daesang Corp., one of the leading food producers in Korea), collected kimchi samples at each fermentation stage (less-fermented, well-fermented, and over-fermented) and injected them into flu virus-infected cells and animals.

In this study, extracts from the kimchi sample at the 'well-fermented' stage (about 3-7 days after kimchi is made, when kimchi tastes best) were administered to cells infected with the influenza virus (H1N1) and the avian influenza virus (H7N9). In all of the cells, plaque formation significantly reduced, which means that the growth of the flu virus had been inhibited.

In the animal experiment where flu virus-infected mice were fed kimchi extracts, the rate of suffering from weight loss due to the flu also declined. In addition, the survival rate of the mice who consumed kimchi extracts was 30% higher than those who did not.

Dr. Kim, In-Ho of Korea Food Research Institute said, "Lactobacillus plantarum, which is produced in large quantities during the fermentation of kimchi, and its sub-ingredients such as green onion and ginger are thought to hinder the growth of influenza virus. We concluded that bioactive compounds from lactic acid bacteria produced by kimchi fermentation serve as antiviral agents by affecting the virus membrane surface or promptly activating immune cells mobilization." He added, "Our study is the world's first that scientifically verified kimchi's effectiveness against influenza viruses such as swine flu and AI viruses.

In addition, we succeeded in isolating useful and safe lactic acid bacteria from kimchi, contributing to broadening its industrial applications. In other words, this can be applied not only to fermented foods including kimchi, paste, and liquors but also to animal feeds, and food and drug materials. It can also lay the milestone for the development of fermented foods and strains optimized for the constitution of Koreans, through analysis of microbial genome and metabolites in fermented foods as well as mechanism. As such, we have launched new food products in partnership with Daesang corp, aiming to contribute to safeguarding Koreans against virus threats of modern society and to strengthening Korea's competitiveness as the birthplace of kimchi."

In 2003, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was pandemic in many parts of the world including Hong Kong and mainland China, except for Korea where very few people were infected with the virus. Regarding this, some argued that kimchi has an antiviral effect. The results of the study (Effects of heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum against influenza viruses in mice) were published in the February 2018 issue of the Journal of Microbiology.

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

Source: World Institute of Kimchi

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
5 Surprising Ways Digital Technology Is Changing Childhood
 
Jul 22, 2018
Category:

According to recent studies, 21% of children aged three and four have their own tablet. How is digital technology influencing modern childhood?

When even tech veterans such as Napster founder Sean Parker critique how smartphones are affecting childhood development, you know a shift is coming. In 2017, Parker warned that social media "literally changes your relationship with society, with each other…God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains." Parker has two young children, so he's surely familiar with the universal tactic of handing over a screen to buy a moment's peace - the so-called "digital pacifier".

The Council of Europe recently issued recommendations on children's rights in the digital environment, building on GDPR's legal framework, which establishes the limits of children’s consent to use of their data. There's more awareness than ever that technology in childhood needs to be policed properly, by both governments and parents. To help you weigh up some of the issues involved, here are five ways in which the screen is reframing children's lives.

1. Physical Changes

The evidence is still anecdotal, but it's likely that technology's ubiquity from the earliest years onwards - a fifth of children aged three and four have their own tablet - is reshaping our bodies. Short-sightedness has doubled since the 1960s, and obesity is increasing. Only half of seven- and eight-year-olds get the recommended daily hour of exercise in the UK. Spine surgeons have reported an increase in young patients with neck and back pain, likely related to bad posture during long periods of smartphone use. But with the increasing number of apps and devices to monitor physical activity levels, the solution could be digital, too.

2. Rewiring the Brain

The addictive design of many video games and apps could be rewiring children's brains. Many of them are structured around "reward loops", which regularly dispense incentives, including a biochemical dopamine hit, to keep playing. Autoplay functions on YouTube and other video websites reinforce these rhythms.

"Almost all digital interactions, social media particularly, are deliberately designed to make an individual want to undertake the cycle again, immediately and repeatedly, whatever the time of day or night", stated a recent landmark report on Digital Childhood by the UK-based 5Rights foundation. It believes that tech companies need to adjust the design of their products for children - for example, by switching off Autoplay.

3. Space, Not Time

Amid the hand-wringing about cognitive decline, it's worth remembering that perhaps technology is just making children different to us. Even early studies of the effects of video games suggested they improved spatial reasoning. While verbal skills, logical argument and attention spans may now need more offline encouragement, most toddlers will benefit from accelerated hand-eye coordination and image recognition abilities, as well as the general digital literacy that is now essential to growing up.

4. The Definition of Childhood

Just as the pressures of industrialization created the concept of "childhood" in the Victorian age, and post-war consumerism gave birth to the idea of the "teenager", the digital era is shaking up life boundaries once again. While the first year of high school may be regarded as a default age for a child to receive their first smartphone, 39% of 8-to-11-year-olds already have them.

Entry into the world of social media suddenly gives immature children a relatively independent space in which to test out "risky behaviours" that they can't necessarily understand or cope with, according to the 5Rights report. The collision between incongruous age groups and behaviours that social media entails means that both children and adults need to understand their respective responsibilities under the new digital compact.

5. Crowdsourcing Mental Health

There has been much discussion of the growing sense of inadequacy and loneliness fostered by social media, and its impact on young people’s mental health. Teenagers who spend more than three hours a day online are 35% more likely to be at risk of suicide, according to a recent US study. But perhaps that's confusing cause and effect. The last decade has seen a growing awareness of and sensitivity to mental health issues. Much of this discussion is being held by young people in the environment that is most natural - as well as discreet - for them: the internet.

There's no doubt that the new digital frontier is drastically redrawing childhood, threatening tender bodies and minds. But perhaps we can meet these challenges if they are handled in the spirit of the internet's original precept: free and frank discussion.

Photo credit / pixabay

By Anna Bruce-Lockhart
Edited by Shawn Chou

 
 
Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam With Highest Consumer Confidence In Southeast Asia
 
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Jul 16, 2018
Category:

The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, just behind India, rank within the top four in the latest international consumer confidence survey compiled by US-based research organisation The Conference Board and business intelligence firm Nielsen.

Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore ranked eighth, 10th and 25th, respectively, in the global ranking, which, according to the authors, reflects prevailing business conditions in the countries and likely developments for the months ahead. Overall, the survey details consumer attitudes and buying intentions, with data available by age, income and region.

Vietnam and Malaysia featured among the top five nations with the highest growth in consumer confidence.

Notably, the Vietnam consumer confidence index gained an all-time high of 124 points and shot to the highest in a decade for the country. In the first quarter of 2018, Vietnam’s index rose by nine points compared to the last quarter of 2017. The positivity about the state of personal finances and local job prospects has helped Vietnam emerge as the fourth most optimistic country in the world in the period.

Historically, consumer confidence in Southeast Asian countries continues to be higher than in mature economies. The level of consumer confidence in the region rose from 119 points in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 121 in the first quarter of 2018.

The reason for the rise in the region is largely attributed to overall economic growth, with major economies growing between five and seven per cent in the last year. In addition, increases in foreign direct investment and disposable income have also helped improve confidence.

Going forward, the growth in the economy and foreign investments will continue to boost incomes in the region, leading to even higher consumer confidence. Food and beverages, along with retail, education and healthcare, will continue to attract majority of the consumer spending, but savings will continue to take precedence over discretionary spending, the survey noted.

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution http://www.AsiaToday.com

 
 
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Did Mulan Really Join the Army out of Filial Piety?
 
Jul 14, 2018
Category:

Taiwanese singers Nana Lee Chien-na and Judy Zhou Ding-wei, who both became famous through the Taiwanese “One Million Star” talent contest TV show, play the lead roles in a new pop version of the original Chinese-language musical Mulan. With their powerful vocals, the pair brings to life a version of Mulan that casts the legendary devoted daughter in a somewhat different light. Playwright Tsai Pao-chang, director of the modern theater troupe Tainaner Ensemble, and composer Owen Wang, founder of theater company Studio M, add moments of laughs and tears, stemming from contemporary gender role issues.

The story of Mulan, the most famous heroine in Chinese history, is returning to the stage in Taipei. Mulan The Musical uses plenty of comic elements, turning gender stereotypes and historical imagination on their head, to interpret the life of Mulan, the girl who posed as a man to join the army on behalf of her ailing, elderly father. This latest version features much stronger pop music characteristics, making the musical more appealing to a younger crowd.

“Following the army on behalf of my father is not what I want; my soul wants to fly. I want to fly, to gracefully fly forward. I fly, bravely pushing straight ahead is what I want…” After nine years on the road, Mulan The Musical returns to the National Theater in Taipei with an ensemble of 26 actors and 17 musicians.

Since its Taipei debut in 2009, the musical has been performed in various locations abroad, including most recently 36 performances during a two-month period in Singapore in late 2016 and early 2017. This August, the model female heroine will again saddle her horse to go to war in a performance that is as hilariously funny as previous versions but with a much stronger dose of pop music.

Everyone is familiar with the story of Mulan, who went to war in her aging father's place. But can her decision really be explained by “filial piety"? Wouldn’t she have agonized over her decision before enlisting? “Why me? Why should I go?” “So you go, you go, if you don’t go, who is going?” This is how Mulan, her sister and her brother try to pass the buck of army service to each other during a family conference that is acted out during the song 'Family Revolution'.

Wang explains that, in the debut production, the verbal skirmish between the siblings was in spoken dialogue form. However, in the 2011 version, the singing parts became more important and were no longer only used for emotional transitions from spoken dialogue to spoken dialogue. Instead, the dramatic conflicts were incorporated in the songs to drive the plot forward.

The story’s main character Mulan is played by Nana Lee, a former One Million Star participant, who at a height of more than 170 cm is tall by Asian standards. Of the 20 songs in the musical, Lee most likes a new song that she sings in a duet with an effeminate fellow recruit. “What’s the big deal about being like a man? What harm is there in being like a woman? Only if we stay true to ourselves will we be able to last, and the world will see us shine.”

While new songs and rearrangements are necessary when staging a reproduction, Wang, a perfectionist, hopes to use the lively, cheeky song 'So What if We’re Different' to strengthen the positive power of the girly man role.

In the army, Mulan transforms into manly “Munan”. Two men, General Chien Chun-hsieh, and her childhood sweetheart and fellow soldier Chiang Kuan-fu, nonetheless, fall in love with Mulan/Munan. Trying to come to terms with the fact that they are smitten with Munan, they ask themselves “Alas, can this be love?” The combination of Tsai’s lyrics and Wang’s tune deftly describe the conflicting feelings the two men go through as they sing the song Love, Alas.

From the meanwhile classical, flirtatious duet between the General and Mulan 'Can You Please Pick Up the Soap for Me' in the debut version to 'Goddess of Mercy, Please Give Me More Time', a song that was newly added for the Singapore production, Munan/Mulan runs into many funny situations as she socializes with fellow soldiers or rushes to see her superior while also heading to meet her close friend.

Mulan The Musical frequently makes the audience burst into laughter but also provides food for thought, challenging established thinking and perceptions.

By Chia-hui Si-Tu

Translated from the Chinese Article by Suzanne Ganz

Edited by Shawn Chou

 
 
Rural families in the Philippines tune into health advice
 
Jul 07, 2018
Category:

Radio show, home visits bring critical services to the hard-to-reach

June 2018 — When Ailleene Joy Verbo was a child, she loved listening to her grandfather’s solar-powered radio. “Our rural village did not have electricity,” she said. “The radio broke the quietness of the day.”

Verbo grew up in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay — a province in the Philippines’ Mindanao region. She, along with her five siblings, lived with her grandparents because her parents moved away to find jobs.

“My mother had to work overseas to sustain our needs,” said Verbo.

Now a nurse and mother herself, Verbo knows how difficult it is to support a family, especially in rural areas where unpaved roads, marshlands, mountains and seas isolate people from opportunities available in towns and cities.

“Sometimes, if people get sick, they just endure pain and illness,” said Verbo, adding that people, in many instances, are unable to take charge of their own health.

A recent national health survey showed that more women in Mindanao desire to limit or space their pregnancies and use family planning methods, but lack information on where they can access the services. The areas where these women live are marked by high percentages of unintended or risky pregnancies that can result in serious consequences, including death.

In 2013, USAID launched its MindanaoHealth project, implemented by Jhpiego, to help the Philippine Department of Health strengthen health systems and services, especially for people living in hard-to-reach areas. The project, which works to improve access to maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition, also trains health service providers to counsel parents looking to choose a method of family planning.

In 2017, Verbo became a family health associate in her hometown and undertook this training. Through this project, she learned to perform and administer basic procedures and services. She began visiting communities and homes to provide on-the-spot care.

Last February, a local radio station invited Verbo to appear as a guest on a show called Itanong mo Kay Doc! (Ask Doc!) to answer listeners’ questions about reproductive health. Since people in the region get their news from the radio, she saw this as an opportunity to make a big difference.

Verbo’s broadcast reached nearly 300,000 people across the province. When listeners flooded the station with questions, the station invited Verbo to host regularly. She also gave out her personal mobile number to answer listeners’ questions or refer them to their nearest health center when she is not on air.

“I just don’t want more children and families to suffer,” said Verbo, who now hosts the show about once per month.

USAID’s MindanaoHealth project, which runs from 2013 to 2018, has trained over 9,000 health service providers across Mindanao. Mostly, these service providers conduct group counseling and community outreach activities. They also visit hospital wards and outpatient departments.

“Doing a good job is not always about impressive innovations; sometimes it is only about doing something with plain dedication,” said Verbo.

SOURCE / USAID

 
 
NUS and SMI set up S$18m research centre to enhance global competitiveness of Singapore’s maritime and port industries
 
Jul 01, 2018
Category:

With the support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) today established a S$18 million research centre to enable Singapore’s maritime and port industries to develop innovative capabilities and enhance their global competitiveness. The agreement to set up the new centre was signed today by Professor Chua Kee Chaing, Dean of NUS Faculty of Engineering, and Mr Toh Ah Cheong, Executive Director of SMI.

The new Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports (C4NGP) will be part of the NUS Faculty of Engineering and it will work with companies in Singapore’s maritime and port sectors to improve their technical knowhow, efficiency and productivity, and prepare them for the next phase of global competition.

C4NGP will also work closely with companies to ensure that the Centre’s research and development efforts are aligned with industry needs. Over the next five years, the Centre aims to focus on the following areas:

  • Design and build maritime systems, including simulation platforms that cater to the needs of maritime and port related industries;
  • Conduct navigational channel capacity studies and develop systems to simulate and optimise incoming and outgoing marine traffic;
  • Study various port terminal systems, including automated guided vehicle optimisation, scheduling and charging strategies; container yard storage management strategies; analysis of future port systems; and traffic flows within port terminals; and
  • Examine land transport-related systems such as port gateway design systems and analysis of inter-terminal traffic movement between port terminals.
    At steady state, C4NGP is expected to have about 20 NUS researchers working on projects in these important areas.

    Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Senior Vice President (Graduate Education & Research Translation), said, “NUS is delighted to partner MPA and SMI to set up this new Centre of Excellence. The C4NGP will work closely with the industry to promote innovation in the port and maritime sectors and to co-create cutting-edge solutions that could advance these sectors. This concerted effort will greatly enhance the long-term competitiveness of the maritime and port industries, and further strengthen Singapore’s strong reputation as a global maritime hub.”

    Mr Toh said, “We are pleased to support the establishment of the C4NGP to deepen NUS’ capabilities in port modelling and simulation and to promote greater collaboration between the academia and the port community to increase the overall competitiveness of the maritime and port sectors.”

    “The establishment of C4NGP is timely as it deepens our port modelling, simulation and optimisation capabilities. The centre aims to improve the planning and operations of our Next-Generation Port at Tuas and the eco-system around the port. It will help PSA and Jurong Port with the optimisation of their existing and future operations as part of the Industry Transformation Map. Beyond our ports, we hope C4NGP can be a good repository of modelling expertise as well as serve as a platform for collaboration with institutions across the world to develop and establish standards for port modelling and simulation”, said Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA.

    The C4NGP Governing Board chaired by Prof Boey will comprise members from key stakeholders such as MPA, SMI and industry partners. The Centre will be jointly led by Associate Professor Chew Ek Peng and Associate Professor Lee Loo Hay from the Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Management at NUS Faculty of Engineering.

    Assoc Prof Chew said, “The Centre aims to make significant impact to the port community, both locally and globally. We will work closely with industry partners and apply our expertise in modelling, simulation and optimisation to create next-generation ports and maritime systems as well as pioneer disruptive technologies that could potentially reshape the shipping industry.”

    This is one of the latest maritime research centres supported by SMI as part of its efforts to deepen research capabilities while developing a steady pool of quality maritime researchers in Singapore.

    SOURCE / the National University of Singapore

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