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Hong Kong’s business, lifestyle and partnership prospects

Hong Kong’s business, lifestyle and partnership prospects
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By Charles F Moreira, Editor

The two day InStyle Hong Kong business-to-business symposium and showcase at the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur on 7 and 8 November 2017 was a showcase of Hong Kong’s business and lifestyle, as well as partnership prospects for Malaysians and the largest in its recent series of InStyle Hong Kong events across the region.

“This initiative will open up great opportunities for Malaysia because you are right at the centre of the initiative’s (the Belt and Road Initiative) maritime route. With progress and development being prime objectives, the Belt and Road initiative is also very much in line with your country’s development goals”, said Vincent HS Lo, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

“On our side, Hong Kong is not just a gateway to China, but also a springboard for intra-Asia and international business. Our role as a global financial and trading hub is strengthened by the rule of law, an open, transparent society and strong international talent in professional services, creativity and technology”, Lo added.

The event also featured a product Expo which featured some of Hong Kong’s best products and seminar sessions on five themes – namely:-

  • Fast Track to E-Commerce – The Logistics Perspective.
  • Future of Fintech: Crossover, Convergence, Remoulding.
  • Building Smart City with Blockchain.
  • Innovative Design & Marketing: from Ideas to Business.
  • Legal Risk Management: Key to International Trade & development.

Since these sessions ran concurrently, Enterprise TV could only cover two of them.

The Building Smart City with Blockchain session emphasised the need for the use of a blockchain to enable and standardise the management and regulation of smart city operations from end to end to ensure harmony and interactivity of systems and data generated, as well as the security and safety of end users.

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records (blocks), which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, it is inherently resistant to modification of the data.

A blockchain can serve as a ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.

Smart cities involve the generation, processing, exchange interaction and transaction of pieces of digital data between Internet of Things enabled equipment and devices, big data and artificial intelligence systems and a blockchain digital ledger can be used as a common reference point for all of these.

For example, China has an electronic ID (eID) which is used as a common personal identifier for multiple smart city related functions.

In January 2017, the city of Wuhan pioneered the use of eID for its 400,000 residents as part of the government’s initiative to create a smart city, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The public security bureau of Wuhan had partnered with China’s leading e-wallet services provider Alipay to develop the eID card, which users can access through the app’s Wuhan service portal.

Residents are encouraged to use the eID card to check in at hotels and internet cafes. They can also use it to go through security checks at railway stations and airports without showing their original ID cards. It can also be used for 148 public services and administrative procedures online.

It is part of Wuhan’s efforts to adopt cutting-edge technology such as cloud computing and big data to move social services and administration procedures to online platforms, with user security guaranteed by technology such as facial recognition. Wuhan is China’s first city to pilot the eID card.

However, the eID is only available to residents of mainland China and not to residents of Hong Kong but the forum speakers believe that the use of a blockchain can facilitate cross-border authentication, interoperation and financial transactions between residents of China, Hong Kong, Macau and other countries.

For this to work, it will require the development of a legally binding framework which will enable remote cross-border authentication, such as of a company in another country being allowed to open a bank account in China or Hong Kong without its representative having to be present at the bank in person, and if this can become a reality, it will greatly facilitate cross-border trade and business between participating countries, whilst governments can provide their citizens with the digital certificates.

Such common standards, rules and interoperability protocols can be defined by a consortium of stakeholders, including banks, financial institutions, government regulators, industry associations, public service providers and so forth.

Such national, international, institutional or industry standards bodies such as the International Organisation of Standards (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the 3G Partnership Project (3GPP), the Global Medical Device Nomenclature Agency, the Wi-Fi Alliance and many more have enabled international recognition, acceptance, compatibility, interoperability and so forth of equipment, devices, components, firmware and software from various compliant manufacturers, thus enabling freedom of choice and safety of end users, as well as the economies of scale which has enabled more affordable prices for end users.

As for IoT, it can be a tremendous boon when used correctly and a bane when hacked and appropriate security measures are required but unfortunately they lag far behind the rate of development of technology.

So smart cities must have a cybersecurity strategy and must develop a framework and the thought processes to address security problems.

An IoT enabled pillow or mattress can be used to monitor a person’s health and only when it cannot provide a solution will the person require to consult a doctor. IoT can also be used with the blockchain to manage people’s health information.

As for big data, it can be used to monitor citizens’ behaviour and preferences.

Whilst blockchain is very often associated with the Bitcoin crypto currency in the public mind, its open, unregulated, decentralised and anonymous nature which has allowed for the undetected flow of black money. After all, Bitcoin was developed based upon an anarcho-capitalist ethos which is vehemently opposed to any form of government regulation and wants an alternative digital currency system totally free from the control or financial regulators such as central banks.

However, the forum speakers regard this open and decentralised model unsuitable and detrimental to the financial system and citizens’ interests, so instead a regulated, perhaps even closed and secure blockchain based system is required and which balances between citizens’ rights and government control.

Innovative Design & Marketing

Innovative design is not rocket science but instead requires creativity, imagination and the ability to think outside the box.

One of the speakers Joey Ho is an architect and a design partner with the PAL Design Group and his design philosophy is to make interior designs of offices and interior spaces in harmony with human needs and nature.

In one of his projects in China, he designed an office to have a private space which provided privacy and a public space which enabled interaction between colleagues, including colleagues who frequently engaged in video conferencing sessions. He also designed the area around the coffee machine to better enable staff to feel relaxed and encouraged to interact, especially since ideas usually pop up during their coffee break. His designs also incorporate elements of feng tsui and to provide a natural ambience for staff who work long hours in the office.

In another project at a hospital in Hong Kong, where space is scarce and expensive, Ho convinced the doctors there to break with the traditional clinical look of a hospital and to let him design a ‘healthy space’ for the patients, with an open lounge-like layout, large windows which provide a view of the outside, furniture and greenery in waiting areas, consultation areas with hotel-like decor and colour scheme on the walls, as well as in the treatment rooms, so as to make patients feel calm and more relaxed.

In a design project at a play centre for children in Australia, Ho designed facilities for children to get back to the basics of playing with things or even food, instead of going around with the faces buried in their phone screens.

The next speaker, Otto Ng is a design director with LAAB in Hong Kong and its philosophy is to put people and their behaviour first in their designs and they have also employed advanced technologies in their work and innovations.

LAAB is a collective of architects, designers, engineers, and makers. The Hong Kong-based studio established its identity through a diversity of projects, from public architecture and interactive artwork, to cultural hub, collaborative space and transformable residence.

Their designs embody sensibility, inventiveness, and a subtle sense of humour. With a commitment to innovation and community, the team has been recognised by Japan Good Design Award Best 100, Design for Asia Awards, Perspective Awards, and Taiwan Golden Pin Design Awards.

A couple, Michelle Tennant and Andy Knight wanted to live in Hong Kong’s Central Business District and since property prices there are high, they bought a small 309 sq ft (28.7 sq metres) apartment but wanted to have an American sized kitchen, a bathtub, a home cinema with a large flatscreen, a small gym, a space and catwalk for their cat and more.

They approached LAAB where Otto Ng and Riccy Wong as the project directors, led a team which designed the spaces within their apartment to be multifunctional based upon the time they engaged in different activities or what Wong described as a ‘four dimensional design’.

For example, they enabled the bathtub to be covered up with wooden slats and converted into a sofa when needed. This also doubled up as a guest sleeping space when required. The large flatscreen TV was mounted on a sliding panel which could be drawn out when they needed to relax and watch TV.

The kitchen sink was covered with a board so they could use the kitchen top for writing, computer and other work and they could lift up the board when they needed to use the kitchen sink.

A bookshelf opened out to allow access to a wash basin when they wanted to brush their teeth and wash their face, exercise equipment was attached to the ceiling when Knight wanted to use it, the cat’s food bowl was mounted on a drawer which they pulled out when needed, a cat walk and cat ladder was also provided.

(You Tube video courtesy of LAAB Architects)

LAAB also redesigned the rather dull looking public area of a building in the Central Business District with bright colours and structures, so people could look down from the building and enjoy the space. They also placed some objects in the space which some people found some interesting uses for.

The next speaker Viveca Chan founded the WE Marketing Group, China’s first marketing and communications group which helps global brands promote their products and services in China based in a manner in tune with Chinese culture and conditions and also helps China companies, including Chinese multinationals to promote themselves abroad, including through social media and digital marketing channels.

The company partners with its clients from the start in identifying market opportunities, developing products and pricing, in defining the retail environment and in communicating with customers.

It regards the brand to be beyond factories, stores and advertising, and goes further to create branded experiences and helps its clients to build this experiential environment.

WE believes that good communication must be relevant, original, simple, sharp and touching.

By combining the best of west and east, WE has helped build international and domestic brands in China, including Estee Lauder, Clinique, Mercedes Benz, Sharp, Schwarzkopf, Metholatum, China Telecom, China Car Rental and Roewe (China’s first premium automotive brand from SAIC Motor).

Its social media and digital clients include Cisco, HK Tourism Board, HNA Group, Kjeldsens Butter Cookies and others.

The last speaker, Joel Kwong, creative lead – Asia Pacific at Sun Mobile Communications Ltd spoke about transmedia marketing.

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Joel is a story teller and based upon the transmedia marketing concept, content should not be duplicated across different media such as print, web, phone or digital, with pictures, videos, music, short animations and mobile apps.

For example, one of their projects to help reduce accidents at metro train stations was to produce an animated video with a catchy tune called Dumb Ways to Die which shows cartoon characters doing actions such as setting fire to their hair,  trying to get a piece of toast out of an electric toaster with a metal fork and so forth and ending with standing at the edge of a station platform and falling into the path of a train,  the perils of beating a train level crossing in one’s car and crossing the railway track to catch one’s balloon.

The metro train operator then posted pictures of the cartoon characters up at the stations, which reminded people to be careful and it significantly reduced the number of train accidents.

(Video courtesy of the DumbWays2Die You Tube channel)

In another project to help an elderly couple in Japan who were unable to used smartphones to communicate with their children and grandchildren,  Sun Mobile Communications modified a legacy rotary dial phone to communicate over Skype via a desktop PC with a webcam and connected to the TV, so the couple could speak with their children and grandchildren whilst seeing them on the TV and they could speak to, see and hear the couple on the smartphone.

In his keynote speech, the HKTDC’s Vincent Lo said that Hong Kong had invested US$3.6 billion (RM15.1 billion) into Malaysia in 2016, making her Malaysia’s largest source of foreign direct investment inflow that year and the Asian Development Bank recently gave Malaysia and Hong Kong the largest GDP forecast upgrades amongst major Asian economies.

Malaysia was Hong Kong’s 10th trading partner in 2016 and Hong Kong’s 14th source of inward investment that year, according to Rimsky Yuen, SC, secretary for justice, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

“Malaysia and Hong Kong have together created and developed a mutually prosperous relationship over the years based on robust economic activities in trade, investment and tourism since we established formal diplomatic channels in July 1971, which began as a Commission and eventually continued as a Consulate General from 1997 when Hong Kong became the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, said Y.B. Datuk Seri Ir. Dr. Wee Ka Siong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in his address.

Malaysia’s trade volume with Hong Kong last October had increased by RM1.35 billion from a year ago. Malaysia exported RM4.58 billion to Hong Kong in September 2017 and from January to September 2017: RM32.339 billion. Most of this trade was in the electrical and electronic sub-sectors.

Under the Hong Kong ASEAN Free Trade Agreement ratified in Pasay Philippines on 12 November 2017, amongst other measures Malaysia will abolish import duties on certain trade goods and streamline our import regulations with those of the World Trade Organisation.

The Minister expects this agreement to come into force from 1 January 2019 and Hong Kong has graciously agreed to allocate HKD 25 million (RM13.4 million) in five instalments to implement economic cooperation programmes including those related to customs, logistics, e-commerce and professional services under an Economic and Technical (ECOTECH) Joint Committee support unit nested with the ASEAN Secretariat to carry out ECOTECH programmes.

“These programmes will facilitate more effective and efficient trade links between the region and Hong Kong. This is significant for Malaysia too to take part in the ASEAN-Hong Kong trade which generated US$ 106.8 billion (RM447.7 billion) in total merchandise trade in 2016”, YB Wee added.

 

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