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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.

Government cancels GST order on 60 food items

GST to cover 60 more food items will further burden and squeeze the rakyat's budget if implemented

PETALING JAYA - The Customs Department has cancelled the order which would have seen over 60 food items, including staples such as noodles, potatoes and spinach, subject to the goods and services tax (GST).

In a statement, the department’s director-general  Subromaniam Tholasy said the decision was made after it had referred the matter to the finance ministry.

US shoots down Syria warplane after allies bombed

DAMASCUS - An American fighter jet yesterday shot down a Syrian warplane that the US-led coalition said attacked its allies in the fight against the Islamic State group in the war-torn country.

The escalation comes as Syria's six-year-old war becomes ever more complex, with US forces and their allies converging on the northern IS bastion of Raqa in close proximity to Russian-backed regime troops.

Further complicating matters, Iran said it launched missile strikes yesterday against "terror bases" in Syria's northeastern Deir Ezzor province in revenge for deadly attacks on its capital claimed by IS.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Over 30 reports lodged against Papagomo for allegedly insulting Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR - A total of 32 police reports were lodged nationwide against controversial blogger Papagomo for allegedly insulting the Sarawak government over the proposed tourism tax law.

Quoting Sarawak police commissioner Datuk Mazlan Mansor, The Borneo Post reported that the reports were lodged at 15 police stations against the man whose real name is Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris, over his purportedly seditious remarks.

“We have opened an investigation paper regarding the police reports … Therefore, give us time to complete the investigation,” he was quoted saying.

Cops say Nhaveen not their only victim

GEORGETOWN - The five suspects involved in the murder of teenager T. Nhaveen have a history of criminal intimidation.

As the police probe widens, city OCPD Assistant Commissioner Anuar Omar said the suspects, aged between 16 and 18, were believed to be serial bullies preying on teenagers within their Gelugor neighbourhood which stretches from Taman Tun Sardon to Taman Buah Pala.

“They are the ultimate juvenile delinquents,” he said.

58 presumed dead in London tower inferno

LONDON (AFP) - The presumed death toll from the London tower block inferno jumped to 58 on Saturday as embattled Prime Minister Theresa May, accused of misreading the growing anger over the tragedy, pledged action after meeting survivors desperately seeking answers.

Dozens of people were still missing three days after the 24-storey Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames, and worries over the safety of the apartment block's charred wreck has slowed the search for human remains.

Making it cheaper for patients

Consumers will soon be able to make better decisions when buying medicine, with a proposal by the Government to compel pharmaceutical companies to declare the prices of drugs to the Health Ministry.

This, in turn, would lead to the recommended retail price (RRP) of drugs being displayed on the product packaging and prevent retailers from making unreasonable increases in pricing.

“This will promote transparency in the pricing of medicines and drugs,” said Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Jeyain­­dran Sinnadurai.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Three suspects in Nhaveen's death remanded for four days

GEORGE TOWN - Three suspects detained in the case of murder victim T. Nhaveen have been remanded for four days to assist in investigations over a separate extortion incident.

The three are among five youths who were arrested following the brutal attack against Nhaveen, 18, and his friend T. Previin, 19, in the incident that happened at Jalan Kaki Bukit, Bukit Gelugor on June 10.

The trio were brought to court at 11.12am Saturday for a remand application, which was granted by a magistrate's court here until Tuesday.

Ball bearing penile implants land 3 men in jail

PETALING JAYA - The law came down hard on three men serving detention at a drug rehabilitation centre in Penang, when they were jailed eight months for having implanted steel ball bearings into their private part, a local daily reported.

The magistrates court in Butterworth ruled they had contravened Section 20(1)(a) of the Drug Dependants Act 1983. Among other things, the law stipulates that it is illegal for any drug rehab inmate to have ball bearings in his penis.

Wounded Vietnamese hostage rescued in the Philippines

ZAMBOANGA - Philippine troops have rescued a Vietnamese sailor held hostage for seven months by Islamist militants in the country’s south, the military said Saturday.

Hoang Vo, 28, was rescued by troops on Friday after an air strike and artillery fire on an Abu Sayyaf camp in the island of Basilan dispersed the kidnappers, regional military spokeswoman Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said.

She said the sailor was being treated for an unspecified wound on his back.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sabah hotels want Customs to collect tourism tax

KOTA KINABALU - After asking for a year’s deferment of the tourism tax, Sabah hoteliers now want the tax be collected by the Customs Department.

Bitcoin drops to three week low on profit taking

NEW YORK - Bitcoin fell to a three-week low on Thursday as investors took profits partly in response to a bearish report from Goldman Sachs as well as concerns about a Chinese bitcoin miner's plan to undertake a "hard fork" that will result in a split in the digital currency.

The virtual currency relies on "mining" computers that validate blocks of transactions by competing to solve mathematical puzzles every 10 minutes. The first to solve the puzzle and clear the transaction is rewarded with new bitcoins.

Suhakam to conduct own probe on missing persons cases

PETALING JAYA - The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) says that it will be conducting investigations into a number of missing persons cases.

Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said that it would be looking into the disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh (pic), Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Perlis welfare activist Amri Che Mat.

Marawi Siege: Troops pinned down by sniper fire, Molotov

MARAWI CITY - When Philippine troops advanced on positions held by Islamist militants in Marawi City last week, they were caught in a kill zone.

Technical Sergeant Mahamud Darang said his armored carrier came under fire from a black-clad militant firing rocket-propelled grenades as a column of troops crossed the Agus River toward the commercial center of Marawi City, an area held by the militants since May 23.

DOJ: US$620m returned 'donation' used to buy pink diamond for MO1's wife

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) may have finally shed light on what happened to the US$620 million that “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1) had returned to his "donor".

In a latest civil forfeiture suit filing, the DOJ alleged that at least US$27.3 million was used to buy a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace for “MO1's wife.”

It also indicated that the returned "donation" money was used by Penang born-tycoon Jho Low to purchase a US$750,000 photograph as a gift for actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

MO1 is described by the DOJ as a high- ranking government official.

2 terror-linked suspects arrested in Sandakan?

SANDAKAN - Two people suspected of terror links were arrested by police here today, the New Straits Times reported.

The news report said Bukit Aman’s Counter-Terrorism Division assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay had confirmed the arrests and that police would issue an official statement on the matter.

The arrests took place near Masjid Jamek As-Sheikh Hasabollah in Sandakan town, in the east coast of Sabah.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Malaysian Air Force fighter jet missing

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) says that it has lost contact with one of its aircraft, a Hawk 108 training fighter jet, north of Kuantan near the Terengganu-Pahang border.

In a brief statement, it said that the plane had taken off from the Kuantan air force base at 11am and lost contact half an hour later at 11.30am Thursday.

The RMAF said that a search and rescue operation is currently underway.

Philippines arrests militant Maute brother

The Philippines military has arrested one of the Maute brothers, a senior member of the Islamic State-backed militants it is fighting in a southern city.

Mohammad Noaim Maute was arrested at a checkpoint near the coastal city of Cagayan de Oro just after dawn on Thursday, said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman.

Two of Mohammad's brothers, Omarkhayam and Abdullah, lead the Maute gang that is at the forefront of a vicious battle with security forces for Marawi City, which is in its fourth week.

London fire: At least 12 killed while mourners gather for Grenfell Tower blaze vigil

Devastated families and neighbours today gathered to light candles at a vigil in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

At least 12 people are confirmed to have died and many more of the block’s hundreds of residents are unaccounted for following the huge fire that raged through the west London block overnight.

Heartbreaking photos from the evening service outside Notting Hill Methodist Church show many people moved to tears after a moment of silent contemplation on the horror.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Maute terrorists holed up in 4 Marawi barangays, says military

MARAWI - Maute fighters are now holed up in only 4 barangays in Marawi City, a military spokesperson said on Wednesday, as fighting in the city entered its fourth week.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the military now has "a better set of information" with the help of American troops' technical assistance, giving them "a good degree of advantage over the enemy."

"Out of the 96 barangays when we started this incident, there are only 4 barangays now that remain as problematic areas, and these barangays are not the whole barangays anymore," he told ANC's Headstart.