Sunday, December 6, 2009

K K Fong 冯家权:没有下一次了

K K Fong (Fong Kah Kuen) studied at Catholic High in 1960s.

Here are two reports about him in 1999 and 2009 respectively:

Tomorrow, the World
Singapore's High-tech Hero Wants to Log You in
By ERIC ELLIS September 23, 1999 TIMEasisa
Web posted at 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, 7 p.m. EDT

From the outside, it's just another eight-story industrial building in suburban Singapore. But step inside and you could be on the set of the next James Bond thriller, the ultra-high-tech lair of a quixotic autocrat bent on world domination.

The Dr. No figure is one of Singapore's most colorful Netrepreneurs, K.K. Fong, whose very company, I-One International, hints at his over-arching goal to be Asia's Internet king. (Sounds like ... "I Want International?")
Silent suited operatives tap into massive databanks housed in windowless lofts and are linked by sliding doors that turn seamlessly into walls after they are passed through. The square-jawed team connects by video-link to colleagues around the world, via 24-hour cameras, and they are then beamed to an Arctic-chilled executive suite filled with Chinese antiques.

If he wasn't so jolly, Fong Kah Kuen could easily be the Bond genre's archetypal scheming genius. With his vision-a-minute patter his speech oozes charisma. "I am not a technologist. I am an enabler," cackles the 46-year-old Netrepreneur. "I want this to be part of everyone's life." Was that a hint of maniacal laughter?

Fong fashions himself as the flag-bearer for Singapore's "wired island" approach to technology. Fong's touch-screen Internet street kiosks on Singapore's shopping thoroughfares dispense everything from news and weather to e-commerce, banking and beyond. Want to see if your girlfriend is in your favorite Boat Quay hangout? A couple taps as you walk by a kiosk and a Webcam scans the bar. Send her flowers, or an e-mooncake? Tap again for a live video-conference with a florist and then a baker. You can do it from Orchard Road, from the housing board's heartland or from New York City via the Internet, with all of the details logged into Fong's vast databank. At least that's the theory.

The reality is far more mundane. After a sparkling debut in March followed by a wildly successful public offering, Fong's booths, so far, seem to have failed to capture the wider public's imagination. Part of the problem is that they are difficult to use, ergonomically awkward and quite slow to boot up pages. Skeptics, and I'm one of them, say their best use so far is to shelter from Singapore's sudden rainstorms. Everyone seems to have experimented with one to go shopping and, anecdotally, four out of five say they seem like a good idea but need a lot of work.

Fong, however, is undaunted and says he is a man ahead of his time. He aims to have as many as 8,000 kiosks sprinkled across the island-and beyond to the rest of Southeast Asia, where Internet access is still limited by low incomes and selective technologies.

If all goes to plan, that day will make K.K. Fong richer than Croesus. He's already doing well. Fong took I-One International public on June 28 in a US$30 million float that by the end of the first day of trade was suddenly worth US$150 million, such is the local fervor for anything to do with e-commerce. That a businessman like Fong is anywhere near a stock exchange in an ultra-regulated corporate regime like Singapore is remarkable, and evidence of the technological revolution under way. Nine months ago, Fong had committed one of the gravest sins a manager can do here-not pay his share of the Central Provident Fund, Singapore's enforced national savings plan that anchors the island's economy and wealth.

I-One was then called Xpress Print, a hard-copy printer of bank and stockbroking research reports, items not exactly in high demand during the financial crisis. The bankers knocking at his door weren't always clients, he jokes. Profits were down 80%.

Then the vision thing happened for Fong. I-One was born and Singapore had a new high-tech hero, albeit one double the age of the average geeky Netrepreneur and who had never used a computer until he was 35. Come what may for I-One's clunky kiosks, that in itself suggests anyone can be reborn on the Net.











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