EMPOWERING HUMANITY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INTO THE FUTURE
Petaling Jaya, 7 December 2019 — The much-awaited International Conference on Social Sciences and Information Technology (INSITE) 2019 by UNITAR International University happened on Saturday to an audience of 200 at the university’s main campus in Petaling Jaya. Themed Empowering Humanity for Sustainable Development into The Future, the conference’s mission was to gather professionals, industry practitioners, and policymakers in the broad fields of social sciences including economics, business, information technology, tourism and hospitality as well as entrepreneurship, to identify challenges and share best practices that will influence the creation of an effective ecosystem.
(L-R) Dr. Eiad Yafi, Senior Lecturer at the Malaysian Institute of Information Technology, Mr Puvan Balanchandran, CEO of UNITAR Capital Sdn Bhd, Dato’ Nathan Suppiah, Vice President of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers, Admiral (Rtd.) Tan Sri Ahmad Kamaruzaman Hj. Ahmad Badaruddin, Former Royal Malaysian Navy Chief, Prof. Dr. Noor Raihan Ab. Hamid, Vice Chancellor of UNITAR International University, Prof. Dr. Evelyn Shyamala Paul Devadason, Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Administration at University Malaya, Dr. Kamaruddin Mohd Nor, Chief Economist at Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Syed Fairul Syed Yahya, Country Manager (Malaysia) ICDL Asia
One of the key highlights of the day was the economic forum that focused on the US-China trade war, and its implications on Malaysia and its effects on the global economy. Panellists included Dr. Kamaruddin Mohd Nor, Chief Economist at Permodalan Nasional Berhad and Prof. Dr. Evelyn Shyamala Paul Devadason, Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Administration at University Malaya. One key takeout from the panel discussion with experts was that the ongoing trade tension between US and China has caused the global economy to expand moderately. Weak global trade, policy uncertainties and unresolved trade disputes could exacerbate volatility and weigh on both global and domestic growth going forward.
Dr. Kamaruddin Mohd Nor, Chief Economist at Permodalan Nasional Berhad
Prof. Dr. Evelyn Shyamala Paul , Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Administration at University Malaya
Prof. Dr. Noor Raihan Ab. Hamid, Vice Chancellor of UNITAR International University, in her welcome address iterated her concerns on trade tensions and the need for such a platform to discuss resolution, “Malaysia’s exports to the US and China contributed 23% of the country’s total exports. The current trade tensions can affect Malaysia’s direct exports with the US due to the imposition of safeguard tariffs on selected items, which includes some of Malaysia’s major exports to the US.”
“Over 82% of large firms in Malaysia and 50% of SMEs participate in global value chains and high degree of exposure to the Chinese economy, with China being the largest trading partner and top source of tourists. This may project disruptions in supply chain and thus impact Malaysian export,” Prof Raihan continued.
Dato’ Nathan Suppiah, Vice President of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers
Many countries are expected to suffer collateral damage from the trade war between these two giants. Almost 50% of Malaysian exports are incorporated into China’s final products exported to the U.S. and 12% of exports are indirectly impacted by the U.S. tariff on China. Dato’ Nathan Suppiah, Vice President of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers, a panellist at the forum, affirmed, “Malaysian manufacturers producing raw material for the Chinese market for further exports to the U.S. will see a big reduction in exports especially the Malaysian remanufacturers.”
Also a part of INSITE 2019 was the Social Work Symposium, which brought together some 80 individuals in the field. The forum was a platform for social workers to share promising practices and tools, exchange innovative approaches toward advocacy, all with the aim of strengthening the social service workforce. The symposium was designed with the intent to raise awareness and support for the important role that social workers play in the lives of vulnerable families and communities.
Dato’ Aliyah Karen, CEO of MAA Medicare Charitable Foundation, believes very strongly in paying it forward. “ We don’t actually need anyone to empower us to do good or be kind. We are all born with positive DNA and have no reason not to be humane. As we embark into a new decade, we should be more cautious and conscious of our surroundings and people. Be part of something which matters. Leave something good to be remembered by.”
To mitigate the negative impacts in any area, the conference keynote speaker, Admiral (Rtd.) Tan Sri Ahmad Kamaruzaman Hj. Ahmad Badaruddin, Former Royal Malaysian Navy Chief, had this to say, “A fundamental tool in empowering humanity lies in education. Education should not only be about acquiring knowledge but about how to learn. Effective transformation will only happen when a person is able to continuously grow and leverage on their abilities.”
It is therefore crucial for business leaders to add to the value chain by collaborating with education providers to tailor curriculum that meets the needs of the digital era workplace. “This initiative cannot be achieved by a single player but needs to be a concerted effort by all stakeholders. Companies could partner up with educational institutions in providing a learning ecosystem that creates technology savvy, inventive and innovative students,” iterated Tan Sri Kamaruzaman.