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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Duterte thanks ‘good friend’ China for arms donation in fight against Islamist terrorists

China has donated thousands of guns to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to help Manila in its battle against Islamist gunmen who are holed up in a southern city.

The small shipment of assault and sniper rifles and ammunition is the first example of Chinese military aid since Duterte threatened to move away from Manila’s traditional ally America and seek Beijing’s support.

The weapons shipment, worth some 50 million yuan (US$7.35 million) “highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations”, Duterte said.

Immigration D-G: No extension on E-kad

PETALING JAYA - The Immigration department will not give in to employers who chose to make the E-kad applications (enforcement cards) for their illegal foreign workers at the last minute.

Reiterating there will be no extension to the June 30 deadline, Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said employers were given sufficient time to put in their applications, but many chose to wait until the last minute.

“We sent out repeated reminders to employers and workers since we opened the applications for the card on February 15,” he said when asked to comment on the long queues at Immigration offices nationwide over the last two days.

US demands more security on international flights to US

WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department is demanding that airlines around the world step up security measures for international flights bound for the United States or face the possibility of a total electronics ban for planes.

Compliance with the new rules could lead to the lifting of a ban on laptops and other large electronics already in place for airlines flying to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa. It could also stave off a much-discussed expansion of the ban to flights from Europe.

Firearms, ammo seized from ex-Marawi mayor’s house

MANILA, Philippines -  Security forces yesterday seized firearms and ammunition during a raid on a house in Misamis Oriental of former Marawi City mayor Fahad Salic, who is under arrest for rebellion.

Reports reaching Camp Crame said a fragmentation grenade, two rifle grenades, 30 rounds of M-16 bullets, six pieces of blasting caps and two packs of undetermined gray powder were found in Salic’s house in Magsaysay town.

In Pandag town in Maguindanao on Wednesday, authorities arrested five suspected drug traffickers with alleged links to the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS).

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

AFP: Isnilon Hapilon not capable of sowing terror outside Marawi

ISNILON Hapilon, who is believed to be the Islamic State (IS) emir in Southeast Asia, could not mount another terror attack outside Marawi City, a military spokesperson said Wednesday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said Hapilon, leader of local bandit group Abu Sayyaf, now lacks the capacity to create chaos in the southern Philippines after the security forces foiled the Jihadist extremists’ plan to establish a caliphate for IS fighters.

Duterte reveals cousin in Maute Group died in fighting

MANILA — “I am also bleeding like you.”

After six days of absence from the public eye, President Duterte attended on Tuesday night a Malacañang dinner to mark the Islamic feast of Eid’l Fitr and said that a cousin of his had died in the fighting in Marawi.

The President told those present, who included top government officials and Moro leaders like Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, that a cousin of his who fought on the side of the Maute terrorists was among the dead in the city.

1MDB critic tells AG to send protest note to DoJ if he’s upset

Khairuddin Abu Hassan says it is pointless for Mohamed Apandi Ali to politicise US Department of Justice’s move to seize assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB money.

PETALING JAYA - A former Umno leader has urged Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali to send a protest note to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) if he is unhappy over claims that 1MDB funds were used to purchase assets in the United States.

Ex-BNM man: We probably ‘lost’ RM100 billion in forex scandal

Former Bank Negara assistant governor says Malaysia lost out in opportunity costs, following the US$10 billion forex losses in the 1990s.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia could now have RM100 billion more in foreign reserves had Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) not lost heavily in the currency market over two decades ago.

This is the view of former BNM assistant governor Abdul Murad Khalid, who based the figure on the opportunity cost of BNM losing US$10 billion (RM42.8 billion) in the 1990s.

Concern over 900 new Islamic schools springing up in 6 years, could be hotbeds for extremist ideas

PETALING JAYA - In the past six years alone, 900 new private Islamic schools have mushroomed across Malaysia. And about 600 of them are unregistered.

As the emphasis at these tahfiz schools is on memorising the Quran, and as most students end up becoming ustaz after they graduate, there is a rising number of religious teachers, according to a report in Singapore’s The Straits Times (ST).

Helicopter attacks Venezuela's pro-Maduro Supreme Court with grenades and shots

CARACAS (Reuters) - A Venezuelan police helicopter attacked the Supreme Court on Tuesday, ratcheting up a political crisis in what President Nicolas Maduro condemned as a "terrorist" attack.

The 54-year-old socialist leader, who has faced three months of opposition protests as well as dissent from within government, said the helicopter shot at the judicial building and also threw some grenades.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tourism tax should be collected by local authorities, by principle

COMMENT: It is reassuring to see the stand taken by both the Sabah and Sarawak governments is converging; the people have hope that the outcome would be optimal for the rakyat in both states respectively.

It appears that both Sabah and Sarawak will agree to the Tourism Tax and is now talking about the mechanism of collection and the reimbursements to Sabah and Sarawak. It is disappointing to see that both states did not talk about the principle of the Legislative List in the Constitution.

Philippines says Duterte 'alive and well'

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is alive and well and experiencing no health problems, the government said on Tuesday, amid concerns about his disappearance from the public eye for unusually long periods this month.

Known for a busy schedule and lengthy speeches often several times a day, the 72-year-old Duterte's low profile has fuelled rumours he is in declining health and that the government is trying to keep that under wraps. He was last seen in public a week ago.

Police solve theft of RM72,000 from Penampang's Upper Star Cafe

KOTA KINABALU - Police here have solved a case involving the theft of RM72,000 from the Upper Star Cafe at Penampang's Plaza 333 with the arrest of five people.  

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said a report of the incident was received at about 10am on June 26, and the suspects aged between 17 and 23 were detained around 1pm on the same day. 

He added that four of the suspects were the restaurant staff while the fifth was a 21-year-old man who had just resigned from the his job at the eatery. 

Miranda Kerr hands over jewellery linked to Malaysia corruption case

Australian model Miranda Kerr has handed over $US8.1m (£6.3m) worth of jewellery to the US justice department after prosecutors said the items were bought for her by a Malaysian financier with stolen government money.

Kerr retrieved the gifts — including a $3.8m (£3m) 8.88 carat diamond pendant from New York-based designer Lorraine Schwartz — from a safe-deposit box in Los Angeles, her spokesman said.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Drug smuggling link suspected in Pastor Koh disappearance??

New clue or red herring??
KUALA LUMPUR - Following the arrest of three members of a drug and firearm smuggling syndicate at the country’s border area,  the police have found several documents and pictures relating to Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo – who has been reported missing since February.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the suspects were picked up in Kota Bharu (Kelantan), Kuala Kangsar (Perak) and Kuantan (Pahang)  after the key player in the syndicate was shot dead by the police in Kampung Weng Dalam, Kedah on June 17.

Thai oil tanker robbed by pirates in Malaysian waters

BANGKOK - A Thai oil tanker robbed by pirates in Malaysian waters has returned to Songkhla province.

Its crew is reported to be safe.

The vessel, the CP41, has returned to dock at Koh Noo, said the Thai navy's Vice Admiral Pornchai Pinthong.

He said on Monday he had dispatched naval officers, customs officials, and officials from the Labour Welfare and Protection Department to visit the crew.

AirAsia X investigating cause of D7237 incident

KUALA LUMPUR - AirAsia X is  investigating the cause of the incident involving flight D7 237 from Perth,Western Australia, to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning.

CM withholds comments on Chinese tourists cancelling trips due to tourism tax

KUCHING - Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said today that he was not informed of 3,000 tourists from China having cancelled their trips to Malaysia following the implementation of the tourism tax on July 1.

He indicated that it would be unfair for him to offer comments if he had no idea about the incident.

“I don’t know. I don’t know the details. I can’t comment if I don’t know the facts,” he said when met by reporters at his Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here.

Gunfire, mortar blasts resumed after ceasefire in Marawi ends

MARAWI CITY - Fighting between Philippine government troops and Islamic State-inspired terrorists resumed in Marawi City on Sunday as soon as an eight-hour ceasefire enforced by the military to allow residents to celebrate the end of Ramadan expired.

Civilian volunteers and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front used the 6am-to-2pm ceasefire to rescue people trapped in the war zone.

Terrorist snipers fired at positions held by government troops during the ceasefire, but there were no major clashes.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sarawak, Sabah to have common stand on tourism tax

PETALING JAYA - Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has confirmed that tourism officers from Sarawak and Sabah have met to discuss a joint approach to the tourism tax.

He said the tourism officials had also met with the attorney-general of both states in Kuching, reported The Borneo Post.

Karim also welcomed Sabah Tourism Minister Masidi Manjun’s invitation for a joint Sabah-Sarawak tourism tax memorandum.

IS wants Malaysia’s anti-terror chief ‘terminated’?

PETALING JAYA - The head of Malaysia’s counter-terrorism activities has become a prime target for Islamic State (IS) militants.

Referring to a message shared on social media, police sources told The Star that IS militants from Indonesia are urging their counterparts in Malaysia to eliminate the main threat to its operations, namely Bukit Aman’s Counter-Terrorism Division head Deputy Comm Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

Why Saudi Arabia hates Al Jazeera so much

If you want to understand why many Arab world leaders hate Al Jazeera, consider "Sharia and Life."

For years, the call-in show was one of the network's most popular, reaching tens of millions. Viewers would call in and pose their faith questions to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric and a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. People would ask all kinds of things: Is it okay to smoke during Ramadan? Does a female Palestinian woman have to wear a hijab while carrying out a suicide bombing?

Suicide bomber targeting Mecca hurts six, Saudi police say

RIYADH - Six foreign pilgrims were hurt yesterday in Saudi Arabia when a suicide bomber targeting Islam’s holiest site of Mecca blew himself up, the Interior Ministry said.

The incident happened around the Grand Mosque, where hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered for early afternoon prayers on the last Friday of this year’s Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.

Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told Saudi television that police “foiled the terrorist plan that targeted the security of the Grand Mosque, pilgrims and worshippers.”

Friday, June 23, 2017

Palace, military downplay BIFF’s threats vs. Duterte

Malacañang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday downplayed reports of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters' threats against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella during the "Mindanao Hour" in Davao City stressed that the BIFF is an isolated group.

“The local Muslim community, the Maranaos especially, do not want this… These are isolated groups that are brilliant in media manipulation ... but they do not have the necessary support coming from the ground,” he said.

Malaysia's most-wanted militant Mahmud Ahmad believed killed in Marawi

MANILA/KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian militant who helped finance the ongoing siege by extremists in the southern city of Marawi is believed to have been killed in fighting, the Philippine military said on Friday.

The Straits Times understands from the Philippine military that the militant is Malaysia’s most wanted terrorist, Mahmud Ahmad.

General Eduardo Año said Mahmud bin Ahmad was wounded in the fighting in Marawi last month and died on June 7 of his wounds.

Australian P3 Orion military planes to help in combat against IS in Marawi

Australian P3 Orion military surveillance planes will be used in the fight to route Islamic State-affiliated militants from the Philippines city of Marawi as the bloody siege enters its second month, joining an increasingly international effort to address the most serious security threat to the Southeast Asia region in years.

In an exclusive interview granted to The Australian in Manila, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana described Australia’s offer as “important to us and to the region which Australia belongs”.

China issues standards for English signs, no more embarrassing Chinglish ones

BEIJING - China has had enough of bad English signs and the jokes that come with them.

A new standard for English translations has been issued and it is to take effect by Dec 1.

The standard aims to improve the quality of English translations in 13 public arenas, including transportation, entertainment, medicine and financial services, People's Daily reported on Wednesday.

The guidelines prioritise correct grammar, the paper said, and warns against using rare words and expressions.

The translations should not "contain content that damages the images of China or other countries", while discriminatory and "hurtful" words have been banned.

Sarawak wants tax collection channelled back to state

State minister says Najib has given his assurance that funds from the tourism tax collection will be distributed between the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

Sarawak minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah says the state accepts the implementation of the tourism tax but wants its share of the tax collected to be channelled straight to the state government.

According to The Borneo Post, the tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports minister said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg had communicated this stand to the federal government in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Asteroid hitting Earth a matter of time, says scientist

The world must be prepared for an asteroid strike, which is just a matter of time, warns a leading astrophysicist from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland. It is a case of when an asteroid collision will happen, rather than if it will happen.

The world must be prepared for an asteroid strike, which is just a matter of time, warns a leading astrophysicist from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Two Filipino militants in Marawi insurgency among 18 wanted by Esscom

KOTA KINABALU - Two Filipino militant leaders involved in the insurgency in Marawi City are on the Eastern Sabah Security Command's (Esscom) updated list of 18 names wanted for cross-border crimes.

The two – Abu Sayyaf group leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute group head Abdullah Maute – who have ties with the Islamic State (IS), are believed to be trying to flee the Philippines military offensive trying to take back Marawi City.

Esscom commander Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid said there were concerns that Abdullah and Isnilon, the Basilan island Abu Sayyaf leader, could try to slip into Sabah.

Military says Maute fighters cornered in Marawi

MARAWI CITY - Islamist militants holed up in this southern Philippine city have been cornered and their firepower is flagging, the military said on Thursday, as the five-week battle for control of this city City raged on.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said the number of militants holding out in Marawi had dwindled to "a little over 100."

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus said: "Their area has been reduced to 1 km square only." Tampus' troops are blocking escape routes across bridges spanning a river to the west of the militants.

North Korea calls Trump a ‘psychopath’

SEOUL - North Korea on Thursday called US President Donald Trump a “psychopath” as tensions soar following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was evacuated in a coma from North Korean detention last week.

Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the US president was in a “tough situation” at home and claimed he was toying with the idea of a preemptive strike on North Korea to divert attention from a domestic political crisis.

Dr Mahathir predicts emergency if BN loses next polls

He says there are frantic efforts to buy support using 'money and foodstuffs'.

PETALING JAYA - Dr Mahathir Mohamad today warned that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government will declare emergency and suspend Parliament should it lose marginally at the coming polls.

“The government will refuse to admit defeat. The opposition would be accused of cheating. No evidence would be needed for the government to declare this. The bullies of the BN will be ready to create instability,” the PPBM chairman wrote in his blog today.

6 BIFF members killed in Cotabato clash

KIDAPAWAN CITY - At least six members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in action while eight others were wounded during the clash that took place in Barangay Malagakit, Pigcawayan, Cotabato on Wednesday, a top military official said.

Duterte may order ‘carpet bombing’ of Marawi if fighting prolonged

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he would order the “carpet bombing” of Marawi to put an end to the fighting between government forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorists in the city, now in its fifth week.

Speaking to the reporters in Cagayan de Oro City, Mr. Duterte said the terrorists were apparently prepared for battle in the city, stockpiling guns and munitions in buildings as early as three years ago.

“As early as last year, it was already difficult to enter Marawi … You don’t invade it with men. You really crush it with bombs,” Mr. Duterte said.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Court orders gov't, Shafee to reply to Anwar's suit on 'RM9.5m payment'

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has ordered the government to reply to Anwar Ibrahim's application to set aside his Sodomy II conviction following the allegation that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak paid RM9.5 million to the case's prosecutor Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

The directive was given by Justice Kamaludin Md Said following case management today. Justice Kamaludin said the affidavit in reply to Anwar's application must be submitted by July 12.

Malays continue to support Umno for privileges

PETALING JAYA (MySinchew) - A recent Merdeka Center survey shows that almost three quarters of Malaysians are worried about the state of the country's economy, with six out of ten Malaysians and more than three quarters of Muslims concerned about inflation.

Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian said even though the survey showed that majority of Malaysians were worried about the economy, many Malays would continue to be loyal to BN and Umno to safeguard their privileges because they felt that there was not a better alternative to BN.

Over a third of traffic accidents linked to cellphone usage

Using mobile phones while driving has caused 35% of accidents in Kedah, said state police chief Datuk Asri Yusoff.

He said such an act could also slow down traffic as it could distract a person when behind the wheel.

“The risk might be low if a driver is using the hands-free device but the use of mobile phones can cause traffic to slow down. In fact, it can result in accidents.”

After launching the Kedah-level integrated operations, dubbed ‘Op Selamat’ 11/2017 in conjunction with the Aidilfitri celebration yesterday, Asri said 54 locations in the state had been identified as ‘hotspots’ (accident-prone) areas during the operation which would run until July 2.

Bali escape: Fresh questions emerge over 4 men who tunnelled out of prison

WHERE are the passports of the four foreigners who escaped from Kerobokan jail this week? No-one seems to know.

How did a water drain/waste tunnel that lead from inside the jail to the outside go undetected for so long, especially as the jail’s governor admits he walked past it regularly?

And when the tunnel was detected, after the four staged their brazen escape, why was its exit, on a busy Bali road, simply covered over with some grate and a few rocks?

Then there is the issue of Australian man, Shaun Edward Davidson’s active Facebook page, containing video clearly filmed inside a cell at Kerobokan jail with another prisoner.

Philippines says Islamist militants withdraw from school, no casualties

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines military said Islamist militants who had holed up in a primary school in the south early on Wednesday with some civilians had retreated after a gunbattle with troops, and there were no casualties.

No students were taken hostage at the school in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato province on Mindanao island, said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, discounting earlier reports that some children were being held.

However, he said the military was investigating whether around five civilians were still with the militants.

Pro-IS BIFF attacks Cotabato village; holds hostages

KIDAPAWAN CITY – Suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) raided a village in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, around 5:30 a.m., Wednesday, engaged government troopers in a firefight, and are holding hostages, six of them children, a police official said.

More than 300 BIFF rebels figured in the early morning attack in Barangay Malagakit, Pigcawayan. The ongoing firefight has resulted in one wounded CAFGU.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bali police search for four inmates including Malaysian who escaped by digging tunnel

JAKARTA - Bali police on Tuesday continued a search for four foreign inmates who escaped from a high-security prison on the Indonesian resort island of Bali after digging a 15-metre-long tunnel under the prison's walls.

Duterte 'has accepted' need for US assistance in Marawi

President Rodrigo Duterte "has accepted" that government troops need the assistance of Manila's treaty ally Washington in flushing out terrorists in southern portions of the country, a Palace spokesman said on Tuesday.

"He (Duterte) has accepted the situation at this stage," Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters when asked if the president was "wavering" on his earlier stance that foreign powers should not meddle in internal affairs.

Last November, Duterte said he respects the country's defense treaties with "friends," including traditional "ally" the United States, but still wanted foreign troops to leave his country by the end of his term.

MBI boss arrested?

PENANG - A leader at MBI International was detained by the police yesterday for questioning.

However, the police have yet to reveal the actual identity of the arrested company leader.

Enforcement officers from the domestic trade ministry, Bank Negara and Bukit Aman commercial crime investigation department raided MBI's housing project site in Kulim, Kedah, yesterday morning, and took the company leader to the police station at the end of the raid in the afternoon.

The domestic trade ministry said in a statement this morning that raids were carried out on MBI in Penang and Kedah yesterday, seized RM688,000 in cash, three luxurious cars and freezing the suspect's RM27 million bank account.

US student dies after release from N. Korea

CHICAGO (AFP) -- Otto Warmbier, the US student released in a coma last week after nearly 18 months in detention in North Korea, died on Monday, prompting President Donald Trump to slam the "brutal regime" in Pyongyang.

The 22-year-old was medically evacuated to the United States last Tuesday, suffering from severe brain damage. He died six days later surrounded by relatives in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Unsinkable Najib Razak

Even as 1MDB and other scandals claim further scalps, Malaysia’s prime minister is expected to win the next election

Prime Minister Najib Razak has survived a series of unprecedented scandals, which in Western democracies would have doomed any leader and their party to the opposition benches. But in Malaysia, politicians dance to a different tune.

Airstrikes continue as Marawi conflict enters 29th day

Government forces continued airstrikes and ground assaults in conflict areas in Marawi City as the fight against ISIS-linked Maute group entered its 29th day.

Radio dzBB's Allan Gatus reported that the military continued the airstrikes as they believe that the remaining Maute group members in the city are still in possession of rocket-propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and other high-powered firearms.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Four inmates, including Malaysian, escape Bali jail by digging a tunnel

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Four foreign inmates have escaped from Kerobokan prison on the Indonesian resort island of Bali using a tunnel, the head of the prison said on Monday.

Tony Nainggolan named the four as Australian Shaun Edward Davidson, Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolov, Indian Sayed Muhammad and Malaysian Tee Kok King.

"The tunnel is about 12 metres (39 ft) long and we suspect it took more than a week to build," Nainggolan said, adding that police had launched a search and believed the men were still in Bali and not far from the prison.

US Embassy: No protest note from Malaysia

There has been no protest note from Malaysia to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) despite numerous cabinet minister's claim that the DOJ's 1MDB-linked civil forfeiture suit was a form of interference.

A US embassy spokesperson told Malaysiakini confirmed that no correspondence from Putrajaya has been received following the DOJ's last court filing last Thursday to seize more 1MDB-linked properties valued at US1.7 billion.

242 Maute group members killed in Marawi —AFP

A total of 242 Maute group members have been killed in the 26 days of fighting between the militants and government forces in Marawi City, the military said Sunday.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief, said that as of 6 p.m. on Saturday (June 17), a total of 243 firearms of the Maute group members have also been recovered by troops.

The number of civilians and troops killed as of Saturday was still at 26 and 59, respectively.

Arevalo also reported that the number civilians rescued by government troops and local government units has climbed to 1,636.

In his report, Arevalo said troops advancing to known positions of the Maute group in four of the 96 total villages in the besieged city are receiving less resistance from the militants.