Courtesy of Halim Shafie


As deputy secretary general of Malaysia’s Ministry for Energy, Communications, and Multimedia, Halim Shafie is one of the leading players in the country’s entry into the world of digital convergence. A few years ago, the government passed the Communications and Multimedia Act, which replaced licensing and regulation laws that treated the telecommunications and broadcasting industries as separate entities. Under the new act, companies are licensed in four broad areas, based on the services they provide—network facilities, network services, application services, and content services. “I believe we are the first country in the world to create a digital convergence law,” says Shafie, who earned a doctoral degree from the School of Information Studies. “The goal is to create a new market structure that allows for cross-movement of companies and broadens competition within the industry.”
      Shafie’s ministry oversees the implementation of the new law, which is also designed to allow for broader participation in the regulatory process by consumers and industry. The ministry also provides ongoing support for the adoption and implementation of new licensing and regulation codes being written under the act by representatives from industry, nongovernmental organizations, and consumers.
      Shafie has worked in the Malaysian government since graduating from the University of Malaysia in 1972 with a degree in economics and economic development. He helped establish the country’s National Computer Training Center and would eventually like to focus on creating quality higher-education programs in Malaysia, particularly in the area of advanced management training. “We need to build the educational capabilities in Malaysia,” says Shafie, who also holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the Harvard Business School. “It is expensive to send people out of the country for this training.”
      The solution, Shafie says, lies in leveraging technology and relationships with universities in the United States and Europe to develop distance education programs to meet the country’s needs. “Development of the Internet and the improving economy in Malaysia are opening opportunities to establish these long-distance relationships,” he says.

—Judy Holmes

Courtesy of James Walsh  

Assignment: Argentina

Ambassador James Walsh looks out his window and sees nothing but clear blue skies from his desk at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For Walsh, this is the final assignment after more than 30 years of foreign service, which included work in Kenya, Canada, Mexico, and Belgium. As a “career” ambassador, he was appointed to the post in Argentina in June 2000 by President Bill Clinton and expects to complete his service in 2003, unless President George W. Bush names a new ambassador to the country. “When retirement comes, I will join the private sector as a consultant on Latin America,” he says. “My ambassadorship in Argentina caps an incredibly diverse career and sits on the bedrock of my M.P.A. from the Maxwell School. My opportunities will be bountiful.”
      As the U.S. government representative to Argentina, Walsh works with American businesspeople and investors to develop trade relationships with the country. He also serves as a liaison to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, advising government officials about Argentina’s economy and issues that could affect foreign policy. Although Walsh says Argentina’s economy is growing slowly and suffers from high unemployment rates, he believes the country has the potential to be a great trade partner. “Argentina has provided more human and capital investments for UN peacekeeping efforts than the rest of Latin America combined,” he points out.
      When Walsh arrived in Argentina for his ambassadorship, he already was familiar with the country. In 1964, as a high school Rotary exchange student there, he fell in love with the country’s beauty and intriguing mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. “The impulsive nature of the culture melds perfectly with my life and work style,” he says. “Flexibility and enthusiasm are the hallmarks of my approach to work. I try not to lose sight of the joys of spontaneity.”

—Joanne Arany

 

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