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Friday, April 29, 2016

With El Niño ending, brace for a stormy La Niña

Withering drought and sizzling temperatures from El Nino have caused food and water shortages and ravaged farming across Asia, and experts warn of a double-whammy of possible flooding from its sibling, La Nina.

The current El Nino which began last year has been one of the strongest ever, leaving the Mekong River at its lowest level in decades, causing food-related unrest in the Philippines, and smothering vast regions in a months-long heat wave often topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Younger Malaysians more colour blind but fear racial discord

SURVEY: Younger Malaysians are less race-conscious compared with their older counterparts, findings in a Peninsular-wide survey on race and racism revealed.

Whether it comes to voting for someone who’s of a different race, buying properties or socialising with their friends, those in the 18-35 years of age bracket tend to be more colour blind. But this age group also recorded the highest percentage of respondents who thought that a racial clash would happen in the country soon.

Philippine troops step up attacks on Abu Sayyaf bandits holding foreign hostages

Philippine warplanes on Thursday attacked Islamic militants holding 20 foreign hostages on a remote southern island, but there was no sign of the captives, the military said.

Government forces said they rained artillery fire on Abu Sayyaf gunmen on a mountainous area of Jolo island, as planes and helicopters flew low over the jungle terrain dropping bombs.

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday vowed to “neutralize” the militants, who have declared allegiance to the Islamic State group, a day after the severed head of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel was dumped near Jolo’s city hall.

Abu Sayyaf survivor says military ambush best hope for hostages

An American woman who was kidnapped by the same terror group that killed Canadian John Ridsdel says a rescue mission may be the only way to save the three remaining hostages -- even though it couldn’t save her husband.

“If (Canada) has got some guys who know what they’re doing on the battlefield, it might be a good idea to go get that guy out of there,” said Gracia Burnham, a U.S. missionary who was held by Abu Sayyaf for more than a year.

Burnham and her husband Martin were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at an island resort in Palawan, Philippines, in 2001, when they were kidnapped along with two others.

Burnham said they were marched around the jungle, suffering dysentery from dirty river water, and wondering if they would ever see their families again.

IGP says will arrest Indira Gandhi’s ex-spouse, after court order

KUALA LUMPUR - Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said today the police will abide by a Federal Court order to arrest Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, ex-spouse of M. Indira Gandhi, for contempt of court.

“Police will obey the Fed Ct order,” Khalid said in a brief text message to the Malay Mail Online, referring to the Federal Court.

Earlier today, the country's top court ordered the national police chief to arrest Muhammad Riduan for contempt of court, over his refusal to hand custody of their youngest child ― Prasana Diksa to her in the high-profile child conversion case.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

PKR-DAP feud deepens as parties release separate Sarawak Election Manifestos

The last time the Opposition coalition campaigned in Sarawak in 2011 they did so under a joint manifesto but five years on, the coalition is in disarray as both parties have just launched separate manifestos.

DAP Sarawak launched its 10-point manifesto at a press conference yesterday, focusing on policy reform to ensure wealth sharing.

Arul denies admitting 1MDB fraud

KUALA LUMPUR - 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has never "admitted there was fraud" as has been alleged by various personalities and subsequently wrongly reported by certain media, says President and Group Executive Director, Arul Kanda.

"What I did say is that, given the content of the April 12, 2016 statement by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, 1MDB must now be open to the possibility of fraud, that it cannot be discounted," he said in a statement here.

He was referring to various commentaries on his recent statements regarding the possibility of fraud in relation to the state-owned 1MDB.

Arul Kanda said it was regrettable that various personalities have chosen to "spin" his words to further their own agendas.

EAIC: Cops tortured Dharmendran by stapling ears moments before death

PUTRAJAYA - Staple wounds found on the ears of N. Dharmendran prove that he was tortured by police officers while being interrogated, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) said today.

EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam also rubbished the police's claim that the staples had ended up on Dharmendran’s ears in the process of wrapping up and transferring his body after he died.

"This is a totally illogical, unreasonable explanation," Yaacob said of the police's theory of how the victim's ears had staples embedded in them during a press conference at the EAIC headquarters today.

Assessment rate reductions revealed

Nine tiers of residential assessment rates to receive reductions between 10 pct and 90 pct

SIBU: The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has revealed in a circular the nine tiers of annual assessment rates for residential rateable holdings, which would receive between 10 per cent and 90 per cent reductions.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh confirmed the reductions apply for those paying between RM700 and RM50.01 annually, while those who currently paying RM50 and below would have their assessment rates waived.

Aquino vows to 'neutralize' Abu Sayyaf after Canadian's death

MANILA - Philippine President Benigno Aquino vowed yesterday to launch a military assault aimed at "neutralising" the Abu Sayyaf militants who beheaded a Canadian hostage and are holding more than 20 other foreigners.

"Casualties are to be expected. But what has to be of utmost importance is neutralising the criminal activities of the ASG," he said in a statement, referring to the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Mr Aquino released the statement after the severed head of Canadian John Ridsdel, kidnapped seven months ago from aboard a yacht, was dumped on Monday on a street on Jolo, a remote southern island that is one of the Abu Sayyaf's main strongholds.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Aquino: Abu Sayyaf plotted to kidnap Pacquiao, Kris

Vowing to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf, the President also says that 'threats against my life have been investigated'

MANILA, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf plotted to kidnap boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and Kris Aquino, President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday, April 27, as he vowed to use the "full resources" of the state to neutralize the terror group.

Ask PM, says 'stripped' menteri besar

Speculation is raging over the reasons behind the Terengganu palace’s decision to strip state menteri besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman of all his honorific titles.

Among others, reports have claimed that the ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was livid with Ahmad Razif’s decision to award an island to controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

There was also another claim of the sultan being irked by a speech delivered by the menteri besar last week.

We won’t withdraw from Sarawak seats for DAP, PKR veep says

KUCHING - PKR will not back down from any of its seats in Sarawak to give way to the DAP, party vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar said today as the two Pakatan Harapan allies continue to bicker over seat clashes for the May 7 polls.

Instead, Xavier urged the DAP to lay the matter to rest and move on.

“There is no point in asking us to withdraw from the five seats in exchange for Batu Kitang,” he told reporters here.

1MDB’s failure to pay interest will impact country, says analyst

KUALA LUMPUR - Moody’s Investors Service has warned that 1MDB’s failure to pay interest on a US$1.75 billion (RM6.9 billion) bond may diminish Malaysia’s efforts to control its budget deficit.

The Nikkei Asian Review quoted Christian de Guzman, senior credit officer at Moody’s, as saying: “The cross defaults triggered on instruments guaranteed by the government of Malaysia, as well as an indemnity associated with the IPIC guarantee raise the risk of the crystallisation of contingent liabilities on the balance sheet of the country.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

1MDB defaults on USD1.75 billion in bonds

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) -Troubled Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB said Tuesday it had defaulted on $1.75 billion in bonds it issued after missing an interest payment, raising fears of financial-market fallout from the scandal-tainted company.

The fund, founded in 2009 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who remains the chair of its advisory board, is teetering on the verge of collapse amid multiple investigations around the world into allegations that billions were looted from it.

Mar urges MNLF, MILF to help fight Abu Sayyaf

LA CARLOTA CITY, Negros Occidental – Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Manuel "Mar" Roxas II Tuesday urged the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to help in the efforts against the Abu Sayyaf following the beheading of Canadian kidnap victim John Ridsdel.

Roxas said the MNLF, the MILF and other stakeholders must show that terrorism has no place in the Philippines, whose development has been hampered by the presence of armed groups involved in kidnappings and bombings.

Has Pakatan Harapan ceased to be a ‘coalition of hope’?

The DAP-PKR feud in Sarawak has dented hopes of Pakatan Harapan being a better Opposition coalition than its predecessor Pakatan Rakyat.

Johor government probing if human-faced kid progeny of man and goat

KUALA LUMPUR - The Johor state government said it will investigate the possibility that a kid, which had human-like features, was produced from intercourse between a person and a goat.

Johor state agriculture and agro-based industry committee chairman Ismail Mohamed told local daily The Star that the carcass of the kid will be handed to the state Veterinary Services Department for laboratory tests to be conducted.

“For now we cannot confirm or deny anything as we have never received such a case before.

Sarawak Polls: PKR ticks off DAP over Batu Kitang 'bankrupt' lies

Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen
PKR's Batu Kitang candidate Voon Shiak Ni today ticked off DAP for claiming that her nomination papers were not in order.

Voon said the claims that her proposer is bankrupt is an "irresponsible rumour".

Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen at a press conference yesterday claimed the Election Commission turned a blind eye on the bankrupt issue to allow a PKR-DAP duel for the seat.

Canadian hostage beheaded in Philippines

MANILA (AFP) -- Islamic militants in the Philippines have beheaded a Canadian hostage, sparking fears for more than 20 others they are holding on remote islands, with security forces vowing Tuesday to hunt down the extremists.

The man's head was found Monday dumped outside city hall on Jolo, a mountainous and jungle-clad island in the far south of the Philippines that is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Islamist group.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sarawak polls: PKR and DAP clash in six seats

KUCHING - Erstwhile allies Sarawak PKR and DAP will face each other in multi-cornered fights in six seats.

In Mambong, PKR's Willie Mongin and DAP's Sanjan Daik are in a three-cornered fight with Barisan Nasional direct candidate Datuk Dr Jerip Susil.

Four seats will see candidates from the Pakatan Harapan parties in four-cornered fights.

In Simanggang, Leon Jimat Donald (DAP) and Norina Umoi Utot (PKR) are going up against Barisan's Datuk Francis Harden and independent Ngu Piew Seng.

227 contest 80 seats in Sarawak election

The EC has allocated RM135.6 million for the election expected to see 1.13 million voters casting their votes on May 7.

Abu Sayyaf may behead Westerners if ransom not paid

The Abu Sayyaf rebel group loyal to IS says the two Canadians and one Norwegian they kidnapped will be beheaded if £4.5 million is not paid by 3pm today.

The Abu Sayyaf rebel group has warned they will start beheading their Western captives if the ransom they are demanding is not paid up by 3pm today.

With machetes to their necks and assault weapons aimed at their backs, the two Canadians and one Norwegian, looking gaunt from their seven-month ordeal, appealed to their families and respective governments via video to pay their captors a £4.5 million ransom in exchange for their lives, a report in UK’s The Telegraph said.

Biggest intelligence raid in US Special Forces' history exposes jihadi accountant behind terror group's $1million-a-day oil operation

Documents seized in the raid that killed a top ISIS oil executive last year have revealed details on how the terror group ran its $1million-a-day oil operation.

Paperwork reviewed by the Wall Street Journal shows ISIS oil man Abu Sayyaf had a job not unlike other oil executives - except he was also faced with issues like factoring slave ownership into salary negotiations, and repairing oil wells damaged in U.S. airstrikes.

A U.S. State Department official has said that more information was obtained from the documents seized in the raid against Abu Sayyaf than from 'any Special Forces operation in history.'

Man who smashed Hindu idols mentally unstable, says IGP

Police say suspect was a medical doctor who was recently fired from his job due to his mental condition.

PETALING JAYA - The man who recently ran amok and smashed several deities in a Hindu temple in Ipoh yesterday was a medical doctor and mentally unstable.

The Star Online quoted Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar as saying the 29-year-old was recently fired from his job at Ipoh Hospital due to his mental condition.

Shock find of a human-faced goat

KOTA TINGGI - The carcass of a baby goat, said to resemble a human baby, has been handed over to the Veterinary Services Department.

As PKR-DAP battle over six seats, BN wins two seats uncontested

Up for grabs are 82 state legislative assembly seats, including for 11 new constituencies carved out in last year's redelineation exercise.

Pakatan Harapan may be off to a messy start, after PKR called for seat re-negotiations at the 11th hour yesterday.

This is after news broke out that Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian may sign a letter allegedly issued by party deputy president Azmin Ali authorising PKR representatives to contest in Tasik Biru, Mambong, Simanggang, Bukit Semuja and Mulu.

Opposition in Sarawak a big mess

KUCHING - The opposition allies who failed to resolve endless infighting and tussles among themselves can never be a capable party to represent the people and to lead Sarawak.

Barisan Nasional Satok incumbent Datuk Abang Johari Openg said the opposition was in a big mess and heading their separate ways without cooperation and mutual understanding.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Outsiders should stay out of Sarawak affairs, says Nancy

SIMUNJAN - Federal minister Nancy Shukri has urged “outsiders who do not know the politics in the state too well” not to interfere in the ‘development politics’ implemented by the Sarawak state government with federal help.

Nancy, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the state government’s bar on the entry of several people into Sarawak had been done to maintain harmony in the state.

“Here (in Sarawak) there are no issues on politics. But there are parties who intentionally come here to stir problems. We are already at peace… we do not want outsiders to affect the development politics that is taking place,” she said at the ‘Semarak Perpaduan Bersama Pemimpin’ programme at the Sungai Buluh Longhouse here on Saturday.

Nancy, who is MP for Batang Sadong, said Sarawak was still in need of development due to its massive size and that more time was needed to implement this.

Ban on tugboats soon

KOTA KINABALU - Tug boats will no longer be allowed for transhipment activities effective May 19 as a further measure to deter future attempts by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants to kidnap Malaysians for ransom in waters between Sabah and southern Philippines, which Indonesia fears may become the new Somalia.
This is in addition to the proposed ban on the use of pumpboats in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) to come into effect on January 7, next year.

The waters off Sabah have seen three kidnappings in three weeks by assailants using speedboats since April 1.

ISIS chiefs freeze 45 of their own fighters to death accused of cowardice in Iraq

ISIS have reportedly killed 45 of their own fighters by locking inside a forensic freezer after they attempted to flee during a battle in Iraq.

ISIS claims responsibility for machete murder of Bangladeshi university professor

Rezaul Karim Siddique was the fourth professor from Rajshahi University to be killed by Islamists.

A university professor was hacked to death by attackers armed with machetes in northwestern Bangladesh on Saturday, a killing claimed by Islamic State (IS) jihadists and echoing the murders of several secular bloggers.

The assailants almost beheaded English professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, when they attacked him from behind as he walked to the bus station from his home in the city of Rajshahi, police said.

Ecuador death toll now above 650 a week after quake

The death toll from Ecuador's 7.8 magnitude earthquake last week has risen to 654 people, the country's emergency management authority said.

Last Saturday's quake was the worst in nearly seven decades.

More than 16,600 people were injured, 113 people were rescued from damaged buildings and 58 people are still missing.

Nominations to be over in an hour tomorrow

Election officials to register candidates from 9am-10am, announcement to be made immediately.

KUCHING - The nomination process for the Sarawak state general election is expected to be completed within an hour because there is no longer an objection period, the Election Commission has said.

Azmin, backing Baru Bian, hits back at arrogant DAP

Parti Keadilan Rakyat has held firm against aggressive DAP pressure for the Sarawak PKR to back down from their plan to contest 40 seats at the Sarawak elections.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali turned the DAP calls for one-to-one battles against the Barisan Nasional against them by echoing the remark and saying that parties in the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance should try to avoid multi-cornered encounters.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

7 soldiers hurt in Sulu clash with Abu Sayyaf

Seven government soldiers were wounded in an hour-long encounter with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Patikul town in Sulu province on Friday.

According to Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command, the troops were on security patrol when they clashed with an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf fighters in Barangay Tugas.

He said the bandits were under Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hairullah Asbang.

The Abu Sayyaf faction in Sulu is holding dozens of hostages including 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian tugboat crewmembers abducted in three incidents off Tawi-Tawi.

PKR and DAP's autonomy joke for Sarawak?

Seat allocations for the upcoming state election was decided in KL by DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng and PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali and not their Sarawakian party leaders.

It is to the credit of PKR and DAP that they have long endorsed the call for Sarawak autonomy. Indeed, it would be naïve of any political party not to do so. It is, after all, an issue that is close to the hearts of Sarawakians.

Larry Sng withdraws from elections, resigns as SWP president

KUCHING - Sarawak Workers Party founder Larry Sng has revealed that a lack of funds and the possibility of high debts led to his unexpected resignation from the party and withdrawal from the state elections.

Sng was to have been a candidate for Bukit Goram. He said the constituency was the “only dangerous seat” for Parti Pesaka Bumiputera, the dominant party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, and BN would do anything to win.

Ministry to probe US claims of tainted shrimp and prawns

Malaysia's Health Ministry has started investigating claims by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that shrimp and prawns from Malaysia contained traces of banned antibiotics nitrofurans and chloramphenicol in shipments to the US, said the ministry's director-general, Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah.

"We are investigating it," The Star cited Mr Hisham as saying, adding that he did not want to speculate on the details yet.

In a statement, the FDA said the agency had requested that the Malaysian government "investigate the cause of the residue problem and develop a programme of short-term and long-term actions to prevent the export of violative shrimp from Malaysia to the United States".

Wrong to say that Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputeras are other races, says ex-judge

GEMAS - The position and privileges of the native people of Sarawak and Sabah are stipulated in the country’s Constitution and are equal to those of the Malay Bumiputeras in the peninsula, said former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Noor Abdullah.

He said the use of “lain-lain kaum” (“other races”) in government forms did not refer to them, but to other non-native races.

Mohd Noor said that according to Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was responsible for safeguarding the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of the other communities.

Marina: Idiotic leaders affect markets, not eloping daughters

Marina Mahathir has shot back at a federal minister saying incompetent leaders are responsible for the dipping stock market, not rumours of eloping daughters.

She was responding to Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, who had sniped her father former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad using the example of a rumour about one of the latter's daughters "eloping with an Indian man".

Salleh yesterday used the anecdote saying the rumour had caused stock markets in Malaysia and across the Causeway at the time to dip.

"Dear Salleh, people eloping, especially when untrue, don't affect the market.

PetroSaudi keeping mum on link to PM Najib

The Saudi Arabian oil company at the centre of one of the most disputed transactions of Malaysia’s corruption scandal has ­refused to say whether it owns the entity that received $US1 billion ($1.3bn) from the 1MDB state investment fund, after revelations information confirming that it did not were removed from a key ­report.

PetroSaudi International dodged questions from The Weekend Australian over the ownership of Good Star, a ­Seychelles company it ­previously has claimed to own, days after the chairman of Malaysia’s Public Accounts Committee ­admitted removing references to Good Star’s ownership from a damning report into 1MDB.

Family members of Abu Sayyaf hostages appeal for help

SIBU: Despair is setting in for the families of the four Malaysian hostages held captive by Abu Sayyaf as they cannot afford to pay their ransom.

Panama Papers: Law firm's property raided, shredded papers seized

Panamanian investigators on Friday raided a property used by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of a massive leak of offshore financial data, removing bags full of shredded documents as evidence, a local prosecutor said.

"We have secured a large amount of evidence found in the location," said organized crime investigator Javier Caraballo.

He said they also found many shredded papers, which they removed as evidence.

July 22 is Sarawak's new public holiday to commemorate independence from British

KUCHING - Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem brought cheer to more than 2 million people in the state when he declared July 22 as a public holiday to commemorate Sarawak's independence from British colonisation.

Adenan made the announcement in front of more than 50,000 people who attended the grand finale of the "Sejiwa, Senada" (One Soul, One Harmony) programme today.

"Today, I would like to declare that July 22 will be observed as a public holiday for Sarawak.

 "The decision was made to recognise and acknowledge the sacrifice and contributions of our ancestors who had fought for Sarawak's independence from the British," said Adenan in his speech.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Government Decides to withdraw the 10th February 2016 Notification with Immediate Effect

Government had issued a notification dated 10th February 2016 regarding rules for withdrawal from EPF Funds by the members. Under the revised rules, the employee was permitted to withdraw the employees' share from the fund (which is 12% of the wages).

However, it was prescribed that the employers' share of contribution towards the Provident Fund (which is 3.67% of wage) would be allowed to be withdrawn only at the age of retirement (58 years).

The objective was to provide a minimum social security to the workers at the time of retirement.

Briton leapt to death from 12th floor of condo, says police

KOTA KINABALU - A Briton man was found dead on a pavement near a tennis court after he allegedly leaped to his death from the 12th floor of Waikiki condominium in Tanjung Aru here yesterday.

Burton Roger Keith Granville, 71, from Briton was found with head and body injuries after he leaped from the 12th floor of the condominium around 3.28pm.

City police chief ACP M. Chandra said the victim’s body was found by a security guard who immediately informed the police.

According to Chandra, CCTV footage from the condominium revealed the victim, who was staying on the first floor of the condominium, took the guest lift to the 12th floor before he climbed up a plastic stool and jumped down from a balcony.

The victim sustained severe head and body injuries and doctors confirmed the death of victim, said Chandra.

El Niño declining; cool sister may be on the way

SPOKANE, Wash. – One of the strongest El Niños on record is waning. Now the big question is whether La Niña is on the way.

A temperature shift in the tropical Pacific Ocean, combined with climate model outlooks, suggest that she probably is.

In fact, if surface sea waters continue to cool, La Niña could emerge as early as this fall, say scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an increasing number of international forecasters.

Why is this significant?

EPF: Online withdrawal facility now available

PETALING JAYA - Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors can now withdraw their savings to finance their own or their children's education at local higher learning institutions.

This is in addition to making EPF withdrawals for settling housing loans via the e-Pengeluaran online facility, with the services now extended to more participating financial institutions.

Sabah police working with SESB to cut off power to gambling dens

KOTA KINABALU - City police are cracking down on the mushrooming of illegal cyber gambling centres and is working with Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) to cut off power supply to those premises.

Over the past two weeks, police have raided four premises, including one operating under the guise of a family entertainment centre, where illegal gambling activities were being carried out.