'Technical glitch' in payroll software sparks riots in Papua New Guinea
PLUS: Microsoft taps 700 million new customers in China; AI comes to Korean DMZ; India’s semiconductor sector surges
Asia in Brief Papua New Guinea (PNG) has implemented a two-week state of emergency after failure to reconfigure the nation’s payroll system for government employees sparked riots that resulted in multiple deaths.
The pacific nation recently extended COVID-era tax reductions into 2024, but the payroll system used for government employees was not configured correctly and in the first pay run of 2024 reverted to older and higher tax rates. Government workers were therefore taxed at a higher rate and their pay packets were around $100 less than expected – about half the pay for many employees. That situation was misinterpreted as a surprise tax hike and some workers, including Police, went on strike to protest the situation.
Some saw the absence of law enforcement as an opportunity, and riots quickly spread across the city, accompanied by looting.
Prime Minister James Marape described the situation as a “technical glitch”, before later declaring a state of emergency that has seen troops stationed in the capital to restore order.
Commissioner general of the Internal Revenue Commission, Sam Koin, apologized “for the loss of lives and properties during these regrettable and avoidable incidents”.
- Simon Sharwood
South Korea deploys AI surveillance tech at DMZ
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) revealed last Tuesday it will soon deploy AI-powered surveillance technology in some of the outposts located along the Demilitarized Zone that separates it from North Korea.
The new gear is equipped with thermal vision and short-wave infrared technology. The organization said the technology will reduce false alarms which will in turn reduce fatigue on security forces while expanding surveillance distances.
“The artificial intelligence (AI) video analysis function uses artificial intelligence (AI) learning data to analyze collected video information to identify and detect objects (people, animals, etc.) and is reflected in a reliable control system that issues an alarm,” wrote DAPA.
The transition from legacy systems has been in the works since 2022, but its debut is timely as relations between South and North Korea have recently become more heated.
On Sunday, North Korea allegedly fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile just days after both countries staged live-fire exercises near the maritime border.
Microsoft teams with DingTalk
Microsoft China has announced ongoing integration with Alibaba’s DingTalk messaging and collaboration platform.
Alibaba last week announced that DingTalk has won over 700 million users, 25 million of them using the tool in a corporate setting.
Microsoft China’s contribution to an announcement of new AI features for DingTalk was news that it’s integrated Microsoft 365 with DingTalk. For now, the two entities are working on web-based tools that allow documents created in DingTalk to be edited online in Microsoft365. Microsoft China flagged future work around desktop apps.
DingTalk users will also be offered discount Microsoft 365 subscriptions.
- Simon Sharwood
Infosys acquires semiconductor company InSemi
Infosys last Thursday announced the acquisition of semiconductor design and embedded services provider InSemi.
The Indian services giant paid approximately US$33.8 million for the acquisition, which is expected to close Q4 2024.
“This collaboration will help accelerate Infosys’ Chip-to-Cloud strategy, by bringing niche design skills at scale and will also pair seamlessly with existing investments in AI/Automation platforms and industry partnerships,” Infosys stated. “The collaboration will aim to orchestrate comprehensive end-to-end product development for clients.”
In related news, Indian industrial giant Tata Group is reportedly close to announcing a new semiconductor fab in Gujarat this year.
The information was reportedly shared by chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit last week.
Other investments in the area from Tata Group include a 20-gigawatt battery storage facility.
- Korean peninsula space race sees South and North launch tit for tat spy sats
- Nvidia can't sell its best chips to China, but India is more than happy to take them
- Google to lay Asia-Pacific to South America undersea cable
- Court orders arbitration for Wipro and ex-CFO who left for Cognizant
Maldivian government websites hacked
Hackers have attacked several Maldivian government websites, including the President’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Juvenile Court of the Maldives.
A post on the website from the hackers reportedly identified the attackers as being from India and the action taken “"in response to the recent inflammatory and offensive statements made by certain members of [the Maldivian] government."
Tensions have been on the rise since junior ministers allegedly made derogatory posts about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Sunday, the Maldives called for the removal of Indian military from its island nation by March 15.
Maldivian president Mohamed Muizzu has been accused of being pro-China and favoring Beijing over New Delhi.
In other news…
Last week's regional coverage in The Reg included news that India data center firm Yotta ordered roughly $1 billion worth of Nvidia H100 and H200.
Meanwhile, Nvidia is reported to be downgrading chips for sale in China.
A US Navy sailor was sentenced to two years behind bars for providing sensitive military information to Chinese spies in exchange for cash.
China has claimed to have launched “the world's most powerful solid-propellant launch vehicle,” the Gravity 1 rocket, developed by Beijing-based Orienspace.
Japanese company Fujitsu may finally experience a comeuppance over its UK Post Office Horizon scandal.
Google has joined forces with Chilean state-run infrastructure fund Desarrollo Pais and the Office of Posts and Telecommunications of French Polynesia (OPT) to build out the first undersea cable connecting Asia-Pacific and South America.
And infosec expertsbelieve Chinese nation-state attackers are actively exploiting two zero-day vulnerabilities in Ivanti security products. ®