KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Starting next year, the 2.2 million legal foreign workers in Malaysia will be fully covered under the Social Security Organisation (Socso) Act 1969 for any employment-related injuries.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) announced today that coverage will take effect from January 1, 2020.
Its secretary-general J. Solomon said many foreign workers face difficulties in obtaining assistance such as medical treatment and compensation.
“MTUC is also very concerned about the fate of millions of undocumented workers in Malaysia, who are denied any form of coverage in the event of industrial accidents at workplaces,” he said in a statement.
By providing such coverage to undocumented workers, Solomon said the government will not only be complying with Convention 19 (C19) of the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) but can also put in place the necessary mechanism to legalise these workers.
The ILO sent a direct contact mission to Malaysia in June to help locals implement its recommendations after the government said in January that it needed more time due the insurance policies purchased under the Workmen Compensation Act 1952.
The mission also determined if Malaysia was abiding by C19, which requires signatories to ensure equality of treatment for all workers.
The MTUC secretary-general, who assisted the ILO during its mission to Malaysia, said its members examined the effectiveness of access to medical care in cases of workplace injury.
One of the mission’s general findings was that problems with full Socso coverage could not be properly addressed due to the absence of effective consultation with tripartite social partners.
Although the government said in January this year that foreign workers would be covered, more time was needed due the insurance policies purchased under the Workmen Compensation Act 1952.
“Despite the government announcing foreign workers would have Socso coverage, many still faced teething problems in the full implementation of its benefits for migrant workers.
“This included Putrajaya’s role to ensure all migrant workers — legal and undocumented — have Socso coverage benefits on par with local workers. It was concluded the tripartite consultative and communication process can be improved to benefit from their insights into the implementation and work plan, with effective follow-up,” said Solomon.
The mission will report its findings on Malaysia’s compliance with C19 and make the necessary recommendations to the ILO which will then take up the relevant issues with Putrajaya.
“It is important to ensure migrants do not remain vulnerable in Malaysia, which has a direct connection to the vulnerability of national workers and their right to basic human rights and decent living,” he said.
Originally, foreign workers were protected under the Socso Act when it was first enacted, but in 1993, the government placed them under the Workmen Compensation Act, resulting in their unequal treatment, compared to national workers.
LOS ANGELES, Oct 18 — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said today that the fallout following a tweet from a Houston Rockets official who backed the Hong Kong democracy protests has already cost the league substantial financial losses in China.
The National Basketball Association spent years building a huge following and burgeoning business in China, a market worth an estimated US$4 billion (RM16.74 billion) for the league, but its future in the country is suddenly on shaky ground.
“I felt we had made enormous progress in terms of building cultural exchanges with the Chinese people. And, again, I have regret that much of that was lost,” Silver said at the Time 100 Health Summit in New York.
“And I’m not even sure where we’ll go from here, but the direct answer to your question is the financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”
The controversy began this month after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the pro-democracy demonstrators in a since-deleted post that included an image captioned: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
In the aftermath of Morey’s tweet, China did not broadcast or stream the two preseason games that were held in the country between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets while the NBA cancelled many player appearances.
Corporate partners in the country have also scrapped or suspended relations with the league.
“Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak,” Silver said in his first public appearance since returning from his recent trip to Asia.
Silver also said the Chinese government has asked that Morey, who was named the NBA’s executive of the year in 2018, be fired for the tweet.
“We said there’s no chance that’s happening,” said Silver, who has previously stated the league would not apologize for Morey expressing his freedom of expression. “There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denied that Beijing made such a demand against Morey, however.
“We especially went to the relevant departments to check on this claim,” Geng told reporters during the ministry’s daily briefing in the Chinese capital today. “The Chinese government has never made this kind of request.” — Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 ― No interested third party appeared before the High Court here today to claim the RM2,479,300.18 linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that was seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) from Pahang Umno.
Deputy public prosecutor from MACC Farah Yasmin Salleh said the prosecution had gazetted a notice last September 10 for third parties to appear in court today to claim the property.
Since no one appeared in court to claim it, she requested a date to submit the written submission.
The matter came up for case management before judge Rozana Ali Yusof and also present was lawyer Mohd Shukri Ahmad Mansor, representing Pahang Umno.
The court then set November 18 for both parties to file their written submission and Dec 6 to hear the government's application to forfeit the property. ― Bernama
TOKYO, Oct 18 ― Japan coach Jamie Joseph made one injury-enforced change to his starting XV for Sunday's World Cup quarter-final against South Africa, a game the former All Black described as “massive” for the tournament hosts.
Ryohei Yamanaka comes in at full-back to replace William Tupou, who drops out of the 23 after failing a head injury assessment in the final pool-stage 28-21 victory over Scotland.
There are five changes overall to the Brave Blossoms side that lost to 41-7 to South Africa in a World Cup warm-up game in September.
Star winger Kotaro Matsushima, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson and skipper Michael Leitch were also in the starting XV when Japan recorded a shock pool victory over the Springboks in the 2015 World Cup.
“We won't be drawing on it at all,” insisted Joseph. “I've been trying to forget about that for four years!
“Yes, we have some players from then. And it was an amazing achievement.
“But we're working on our own things, I won't be alluding to that.
“This is a massive game for us.”
Skipper Michael Leitch echoed his coach's words, adding: “Four years ago there was a different mentality going into the World Cup and we won three.
“Now we go into Tests believing we can win. The one thing that is different is the mentality of the players.”
Every game a final
Joseph explained that his players had had some time off in their build-up to the weekend's game, “to let them absorb what they've achieved” in becoming the first Asian team to make the quarter-finals.
“You always know what you get when you play South Africa,” he added.
“It's clear what South Africa are going to do. Their team selection is a clear sign that they're approaching the game with a physical forward challenge.”
Their tactics up until now, Joseph said, have included “giving the opposition the ball and using their forwards in defence”.
“That's what we've been preparing for all week.”
Joseph confirmed Tupou had failed the medical protocols of his HIA, saying he had drafted in Wimpie van der Walt and Amanaki Mafi onto the bench to offer a more heavyweight option later in the game.
Leitch said the team would not be satisfied with just “being among the best eight teams in the competition”.
“The first goal was to get out of pool stage to get into the quarter-finals,” the Kiwi-born flanker said.
“Now we've had to shift the goalposts.
“Every game for us is a final, every game we treated like our last game.
“We'll play South Africa and if we win, then we'll focus on next week.
“We're not satisfied with what we've got so far, we'll go out against South Africa and try to get the win.”
Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch (capt); James Moore, Luke Thompson; Koo Ji-won, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki
Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Lomano Lava Lemeki ― AFP
MOSCOW, Oct 18 — While Russia has traditionally focused on arms and grain exports to Africa, it is now looking to broaden its activities and influence.
Here are four sectors likely to be discussed at the Russia-Africa Summit set for next Wednesday and Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Oil and gas
Russia is one of the world's top hydrocarbon producers and exporters through energy giants like Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil.
But with 65 per cent of its territory covered with permafrost, exploration and extraction are costly, so Russia is eyeing up promising reserves in Africa.
Gazprom is working in Algeria, where it has discovered three gas fields, as well as in Libya, though its activities there have largely stalled since the war in 2011. The group is also interested in taking part in a project to build a gas pipeline linking Nigeria to Europe via Algeria.
Lukoil recently discovered a number of oil and gas deposits in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt.
For its part, Rosneft is investing in Egypt's huge Zohr offshore gas field and is set to be involved in some 20 projects with Nigeria's Oranto Petroleum energy group.
Africa is almost entirely lacking in atomic energy, with just one nuclear power station on the whole continent, in South Africa.
Russian-built nuclear power stations have a price advantage over Western competitors and its nuclear agency Rosatom offers, attractive financing deals to customer countries.
It has already signed preliminary agreements on nuclear projects with Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Uganda.
So far only Egypt has signed an agreement to build a station, one with four reactors at Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast by 2028 or 2029.
The cost of US$10 million (RM41.9 million) to US$20 million per plant could be prohibitive, but Rosatom says countries including Rwanda are showing “great interest” in smaller-capacity, less expensive nuclear power stations.
Rich in mineral resources, Russia has significant expertise in extraction that could be deployed in other countries.
The world's top diamond producer, Russia's Alrosa, founded the Catoca mine in Angola in 2003. The Russians even built a hydroelectric power station to provide electricity for its operations. Since 2014 Alrosa has also been searching for new deposits in the country.
Alrosa this year announced it will also start mining activities in Zimbabwe.
Aluminium giant Rusal, formerly a target of US sanctions, is meanwhile mining bauxite in Guinea and has decided to reopen an aluminium refinery there closed since 2012.
Groups such as Norilsk Nickel, Severstal, Nordgold and Ferrum Mining are present in Madagascar, Guinea, South Africa and Burkina Faso.
A massive slump in Russia's birthrate after the breakup of the Soviet Union has decimated the number of young people looking to study or join the workforce.
As it looks to fill empty seats in universities, Africa could provide a steady stream of students.
Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital, estimates that the number of Russian students has fallen by 40 per cent in the last decade.
“There are no young Russian people any more, so how do you fill up those universities? You bring in African students.”
This will also bring Russia “a very subtle long-term benefit” in business dealings with Africa, he said.
“People are more willing to do trade deals with a country that they know, that they've been to.”
Although the number of African students at Russian universities, at around 5,000, remains much lower than during the Soviet era, it has doubled in the last 10 years and is expected to grow. — AFP
BEIRUT, Oct 18 — Turkish forces and Syrian rebel allies have committed “war crimes” including summary executions during their offensive in northeast Syria, Amnesty International said today.
Amnesty accused Ankara’s forces of “serious violations and war crimes, summary killings and unlawful attacks” in the operation launched on October 9.
There was no immediate response from Ankara, which announced a suspension of the attacks late yesterday, but it says all possible measures have been taken to avoid civilian casualties.
Ankara’s operation aims to remove the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from areas near its border in northern Syria.
The offensive has killed at least 72 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Turkish military forces and a coalition of Turkey-backed Syrian armed groups have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian life,” Amnesty said.
The charges were based on the testimony of 17 people including medical, aid and rescue workers, journalists and displaced people, as well as video footage, it said.
“The information gathered provides damning evidence of indiscriminate attacks in residential areas, including attacks on a home, a bakery and a school, carried out by Turkey and allied Syrian armed groups,” Amnesty said.
Kumi Naidoo, the organisation’s secretary general, said Turkish forces and their allies had “displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives”.
The report included testimony of a Kurdish Red Crescent worker who said he removed bodies from the wreckage of a Turkish air strike near a school in Salhiye on October 12.
“I couldn’t tell if they were boys or girls because their corpses were black. They looked like charcoal,” the rescue worker was quoted as saying.
It also said Kurdish female politician Hevrin Khalaf and her bodyguard were summarily executed by members of the Syrian National Army, a Turkish-funded and -trained group.
At least two more executions of Kurdish fighters were confirmed, while Turkey’s Syrian allies had kidnapped two employees of a local medical organisation, Amnesty said. — AFP
NEW YORK, Oct 18 ― China demanded that a Houston Rockets executive be sacked for supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said yesterday, adding that the league's row with Beijing had “substantial” financial consequences.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm earlier this month with a tweeted image captioned “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
It came right before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China for what proved to be a tense two-game exhibition tour, with broadcasters there refusing to air the games, public protests against Morey's comments and local sponsors cutting ties with the NBA.
Hong Kong has been rocked by months of demonstrations by citizens who accuse Beijing of chipping away at its freedoms, but China has portrayed the protesters as violent separatists and bristled at any foreign interference in the matter.
The backlash in China against Morey's comments has cast a cloud over the NBA's lucrative broadcasting, merchandising and sponsorship interests in the country, where it has legions of fans.
“We were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said during a panel discussion in New York.
“We said there's no chance that's happening. There's no chance we'll even discipline him.”
But the NBA chief said the dispute over Morey's actions had taken a big toll on the league's bottom line.
“I don't know where we go from here,” Silver said. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.
“The losses have already been substantial,” he added. “Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we'll see what happens next.”
Silver hit back at criticism of the NBA's early statements on the crisis, which many saw as overly deferential to Beijing.
“We were saying we regretted upsetting our fans (but) also at the same time supporting Daryl Morey's right to express himself, right to tweet... Maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat.
“There was no regret directed to the government (but instead) to our fans, hundreds of millions of them in China.”
Beijing's response to Morey's comments sparked US accusations that Beijing was using access to its vast market as leverage to dictate speech in other countries.
Basketball superstar LeBron James, who traveled to China with the Lakers for the exhibition games, this week said Morey “wasn't educated” on the situation and suggested the Rockets executive should have kept his mouth shut.
But Silver said yesterday that the league had a responsibility to defend freedom of speech.
“The values of the NBA ― the American values, we are an American business ― travel with us wherever we go,” he said. “And one of those values is free expression.”
Since the row began, the NBA has also found itself under pressure from US politicians and media outlets who have urged the league not to buckle under Chinese criticism or even to withdraw from the Chinese market completely.
“I understand there's a point of view from some that we shouldn't be in business at all in China and I'd say from an intellectual standpoint that's fair,” Silver said.
“But if people believe we shouldn't be engaged in commerce in China... I look to the American government.”
“Many multi-national corporations trade extensively with China and if that's ultimately how our government feels we should be dealing with China, again, we're a US company.”
But Silver feared that the NBA's 15-year effort to build cultural ties with China and expand the game's reach there had been undermined by the Morey dispute.
“I felt we had made enormous progress in terms of building cultural exchanges with the Chinese people,” Silver said.
“I have regret that much of that was lost.” ― AFP
OCTOBER 18 ― In theory, while there is merit behind the idea of no streaming, making SPM subjects more modular that students would be able to choose the subjects that they are interested and/or have propensity to do well is welcoming.
But there must be careful considerations as to the level of readiness and preparation of the school and its teachers.
The artificial intelligence software recommendation serves only as a guide. The students and their parents are the decision makers. Parents must still be able to guide their children towards the direction they see fit.
Are the school and school administrators ready for this move?
One can already imagine the scheduling and logistical nightmare that will take place next year. Will there be enough teachers and teaching resources for this? How are the classes going to be scheduled?
With no streaming, will it jeopardise their higher education pathway?
There must be set conditions in picking these courses. With no streaming, students will prefer to pick “easy to get A” subjects with little thought about what they will pursue in higher education. Not all higher education will have the flexibility to accept the subjects, depending on the course that the student chooses. For example, if the student chooses Engineering, how many universities will accept them without having Additional Mathematics?
When students take up pure science subjects in school, the options to pursue other courses are wider compared to taking up the arts and humanities. Once the students go into non-science subjects in school, it would be almost impossible to change their mind to pursue the sciences in higher education. Most have no idea what they will do post SPM. Therefore, a poor choice of subjects may thwart their chances of getting into good colleges and universities if they are unaware. The subject of mathematics has become more crucial than ever as an entry requirement towards further education. Worse, our students are competing with China on the global scale. Many students also will drop Additional Mathematics, stunting their chances of pursuing a science, economics or even a discipline in digital technology. And it is not easy to take up Additional Mathematics in higher education without having the foundation of this subject in school.
What about the bigger agenda for the country in its science technology innovation pursuit?
Science, Technology and Innovation has always remained the Prime Minister’s agenda for nation building. He often lamented that university students were taking the easier path by pursuing the Arts programmes. He wants a progressive scientific society that is innovative, forward-looking, and one that is not only a consumer of technology but also a contributor to the scientific and technological civilisation of the future. Just last week, he officiated the International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition, speaking about sustainable development, climate change, renewable energy, green technology, innovating sustainability and its impact on the global scale. He wants our human capital to be able to be part of this progress and pursuit.
The country needs 1 million science and technology workers according to the S&T Human Capital: A strategic Planning Towards 2020. There seems to be a decline in the interest of science and mathematics amongst students, contributing to STI talent depletion. The reasons that could contribute to the declining interest in STEM are ad hoc changes in education policies, the low bar on quality teachers and ineffective STEM teaching methods. Generally, science is not appealing to students, due to a teaching approach that is theoretical, textbook based and examination oriented. These findings are extracted from Academy Science Malaysia’s Science Outlook 2015.
Perhaps the AI software could be better used in the analysis of the ecosystem of STEM, and find ways to improve and correct shortcomings. We should also know why STEM graduates are not getting jobs despite the fact that the country needs the 1 million STEM graduates by 2020. There must be a mismatch along the ecosystem of STEM. We are more in a need to get good data to run the economy and make this right rather than simply remove the streaming.
* PAGE is an educational lobbyist that serves as a channel between concerned parents, the Ministry of Education and other educational stakeholders. With PAGE, parents have a platform to voice their opinion and feedback on educational issues collectively as a bigger voice. We are optimistic that Malaysia will be able to produce more first world talents.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Bursa Malaysia extended its losses at mid-afternoon weighed by selling activities in heavyweight stocks led by IHH Healthcare and IOI Corporation.
At 3.05 pm, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) was 5.70 points lower at 1,568.80 from yesterday’s close of 1,574.50.
The benchmark index opened 1.78 points easier at 1,572.72
On the broader market, losers led gainers 414 to 340, with 354 counters unchanged, 895 untraded and 14 others suspended.
Turnover amounted to 1.99 billion shares worth RM1.09 billion.
IHH Healthcare and IOI Corporation weighed 2.08 points to barometer index.
Among heavyweights, Maybank shed three sen to RM8.49, Tenaga slid two sen to RM13.74, Public Bank fell four sen to RM19.24 and IHH lost seven sen to RM5.67.
Petronas Chemicals gained two sen each to RM7.36.
Of the most actives, MTAG improved 2.5 sen to 51 sen, Green Packet’s warrant and PUC edged up half-a-sen each to 32.5 sen and six sen respectively and MyEG climbed two sen to RM1.27.
KNM Group was flat at 44.5 sen.
The FBM Emas Index decreased 35.11 points to 11,174.66, the FBMT 100 Index shed 35.08 points to 10,990.46 and the FBM 70 reduced 25.23 points to 14,111.94.
The FBM Emas Shariah Index was 43.25 points lower at 11,797.38, while the FBM Ace eased 3.90 points to 4,790.76.
Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index fell 29.56 points to 15,191.95, the Industrial Products & Services Index was 0.10 of-a-point easier at 152.28, and the Plantation Index dropped 63.80 points to 6,656.35. — Bernama
KOTA KINABALU, Oct 18 ― Sabah’s often overlooked east coast will get a tourism boost from international direct flights from AirAsia, expected to start early next year.
AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes today said that he is working to bring flights into Sandakan and Tawau from cities in China, Korea, Japan and other Asean states beginning in January and February 2020.
“We want to bring growth there. We want to launch it during the winter season so we can promote Sabah’s beautiful beaches to them,” he told reporters here after paying a courtesy visit to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
Fernandes said he is confident in the potential of the two coastal cities in Sabah, but added that he will visit Tawau today to see for himself.
Sandakan is the main gateway to wildlife attractions like Sungai Kinabatangan and Turtle Islands park, while Tawau is in close proximity to Semporna town, which is the jump off to islands such as Sipadan and Mabul, plus a dozen other smaller islands.
While blessed with natural resources, the region suffers from a bad rep due to several tourist kidnapping incidents in the past. Cross border crime continue to plague the borders but tighter security have forced kidnappers to resort to fishermen rather than tourists.
Fernades said that the state capital will still be the main hub, adding that the Kota Kinabalu International Airport will get a new AirAsia flight direct to Seoul next August 2020.
The airline tycoon said he is confident of continuously growing Sabah’s tourism, particularly the state capital of Kota Kinabalu especially if AirAsia has control of the now unused Terminal 2 airport following its eviction from in December 2015.
He also highlighted the impending move of Indonesia's capital to Balikpapan in Kalimantan as another factor that could help Sabah solidify its position as a regional hub.
“We believe we can do a lot more from Sabah. We are currently bringing in some eight million people but I think we can bring in 15 million people, with RM150 billion to the tourism economy through the flights we can bring,” he said.
“KK is a wonderful position in between North Asia and Australia. It’s easy to travel to, a nice stopover with equidistance of both,” he said.
Fernandes also reiterated that AirAsia was keen on reviving the Terminal 2, especially while they wait for plans of the new airport in Sabah’s west coast district of Kimanis to firm up.
“The new airport will take at least five to seven years to build. In the interim, we can have this. Terminal 2 is a good option for an extension. The chief minister is supportive but the ball is in MAHB’s court,” he said, referring to Malaysia’s airport authority Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad.
He however said that MAHB is more focused on KLIA and KLIA2, while airports in Sabah are lacking in facilities and have no room to grow.
“Maybe it is time for regional governments to have more say in their airports,” he said.
AirAsia is among the biggest contributor to Sabah’s tourism arrivals, bringing in 86 flights a week from international destinations especially China.
CEYLANPINAR (Turkey), Oct 18 — Shelling and gunfire resounded around the northeast Syrian town of Ras al Ain today, a day after Turkey agreed with the United States to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw.
Machine-gun fire and shelling could be heard from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar across the border from Ras al Ain, and smoke rose from one part of the Syrian town.
The truce was announced some 13 hours earlier by US Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey agreed to the five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture.
The deal was praised by U.S. President Donald Trump, who said it would save “millions of lives,” while Turkey cast it as a complete victory.
If implemented, the deal would achieve all the main objectives Turkey announced when it launched its assault on October 9: Control of a strip of Syria more than 30km deep, with the SDF forces — once US allies in the years long fight against Islamic State — obliged to pull out.
Republican and Democratic senators accused Trump of having betrayed the Kurdish allies who were vital in fighting Islamic State militants, of brushing aside the humanitarian costs of Turkey’s invasion and of being outwitted by Ankara.
It was unclear what if any damage came from the shelling heard today.
It was also unclear whether the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would fully comply with the agreement, which would leave Turkish forces in charge of a swathe of territory that the Kurds once held with US military support.
SDF commander Mazloum Kobani told Kurdish broadcaster Ronahi TV late yesterday the group would accept the ceasefire agreement but said it was limited to the border areas running between Ras al Ain and the town of Tal Abyad.
The joint US-Turkish statement released after the talks in Ankara said: “The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces.”
It said Washington and Ankara would cooperate on handling Islamic State fighters and family members held in prisons and camps, a major international concern. Pence said US sanctions imposed on Tuesday would be lifted once the ceasefire became permanent.
In Washington, US senators who have criticised the Trump administration for failing to prevent the Turkish assault in the first place said yesterday they would press ahead with legislation to impose sanctions against Turkey despite the ceasefire announcement.
A Turkish official told Reuters that Ankara got “exactly what we wanted” from the talks with the United States.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the deal as a pause, solely to allow the Kurdish fighters to withdraw. They would be forced to give up their heavy weapons and their positions would be destroyed, he said.
He declined to call the agreement a “ceasefire”, saying ceasefires could be agreed only by legitimate sides, and not by a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.
“When the terrorist elements completely leave the safe zone, we can stop the operation,” Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
The Turkish assault began after Trump moved US troops out following an October 6 phone call with Erdogan.
It has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with — according to Red Cross estimates — 200,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters potentially abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.
The House of Representatives condemned his policy in a vote backed by a majority of his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. Trump announced sanctions on Turkey on Tuesday, after the assault began, but critics said these were too little, too late.
If successful, the ceasefire deal could smooth over a major rift between the United States and Turkey, the only Muslim NATO ally.
But the US withdrawal also leaves US adversaries Russia and Iran in a far stronger position in Syria. The Kurds responded to the US withdrawal by effectively switching allegiances and inviting Syrian government forces, backed by Moscow and Tehran, into towns and cities in areas they control.
There could be friction both along the edges of the new safe zone claimed by Turkey, and within it, where Syrian government forces have advanced in recent days.
While Pence said Washington had already been in contact with the SDF and that it was already pulling out, the Kurdish position was not clear.
Kobani, the SDF commander, said the agreement was “just the beginning” and would not achieve Turkey’s goals. Aldar Xelil, a leading Syrian Kurdish politician, said the Kurds would abide by the ceasefire but would defend themselves.
There was more uncertainty around the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani. Pence said the deal provided for Turkey not to engage in military operations there, while Cavusoglu said Turkey had given no commitments about Kobani.
US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, James Jeffrey, said late yesterday the agreement covered central northeastern Syria, adding Turkey was in separate talks with the Russians and the Syrians about other parts of the region.
“We have a very (convoluted) situation with Russian, Syrian Army, Turkish, American, SDF and some Daesh (Islamic State) elements all floating around in a very wild way,” he said. — Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 ― The High Court here today set February 5 next year to hear the prosecution's application to forfeit RM677,872.55 that was seized from the Johor Baru Barisan Nasional (BN) division to the government.
The money, allegedly linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, was seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali set the date during the case management which was attended by deputy public prosecutor from MACC, Allan Suman Pillai, and lawyer Syahrul Syazwan Salehin, representing Johor Baru BN.
He also ordered both parties to submit their written submission on or before January 28 next year.
TOKYO, Oct 18 — Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index rose to its highest level in more than 10 months following rallies on Wall Street, though trade was cautious ahead of a British vote on a new Brexit deal.
The Nikkei 225 index rose 0.18 per cent, or 40.82 points, to 22,492.68, the highest since December 3. Over the week, it jumped 3.2 per cent.
The broader Topix index was down 0.13 per cent, or 2.17 points, at 1,621.99, but rose 1.7 per cent from a week earlier.
“The US rallies are seen supporting Japanese stocks... but investor appetite for taking a risk and buying is limited ahead of the UK parliament's vote over Brexit,” Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.
Wall Street stocks rose yesterday partly due to progress in Brexit talks after Britain and the European Union announced a new deal.
Analysts welcomed the news that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached an agreement with EU leaders on a divorce deal that amends the prior deal's provisions on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
However, Johnson faces an uphill battle getting it through parliament.
China said Fridthis ay morning that its economy expanded at its slowest rate in nearly three decades in the third quarter, hit by cooling domestic demand and a protracted US trade war.
“It was a negative element but the impact was limited as investors are expecting fiscal measures to boost the Chinese economy,” Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management, told AFP.
Shortly before the opening bell, Japan's internal affairs ministry released data showing the country's core consumer price index edged up 0.3 per cent year-on-year in September, slowing from a 0.5 per cent rise the previous month.
The latest data underpins the challenge the Bank of Japan faces in achieving its longstanding two-per-cent inflation target.
The US dollar fetched 108.53 yen, slightly down from 108.62 yen in New York late yesterday.
In Tokyo, China-linked shares were mixed, with industrial robot maker Fanuc up 2.20 per cent at 21,075 yen but electronic parts maker Rohm down 0.89 per cent at 8,830 yen.
Market heavyweight and Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing was up 1.81 per cent at 69,500 yen. — AFP
MONTREAL, Oct 18 — A few days before Canada’s October 21 general election, all polls predict that neither Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party nor Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives will get an absolute majority.
If voting intentions pan out as forecast, the next prime minister will have to form alliances with one or more smaller party to survive confidence votes in the House of Commons and keep his minority government in power.
If a party wins an absolute majority
The House of Commons or lower house of parliament has 338 seats. To obtain an absolute majority, a party must obtain at least 170 seats, which usually requires at least 40 per cent of the popular vote.
The Liberals of Justin Trudeau held 177 seats when parliament was dissolved last month for the election.
If a party gets at least 170 seats, its leader becomes prime minister.
If no party wins an absolute majority
In theory, the party with the most seats forms the government, but this is not guaranteed.
“It’s not necessarily the party leader who gets the most seats that forms the government,” says Francois Rocher, a politics professor at the University of Ottawa.
To govern the country, “by convention a prime minister must ensure that he gets the support of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons.” Trudeau remains prime minister until he either resigns or is forced out in a vote of no confidence.
“So Trudeau could get fewer seats than the Conservatives but still decide to stay in power if he thinks he can get the support of the opposition parties when he submits bills.”
According to the latest projections, the Trudeau Liberals could win between 130 and 145 seats.
To stay in power, he could then count on the support of the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Green Party, or the separatist Bloc Quebecois, “which complicates things considerably,” according to Rocher.
If the Liberals get more than 160 seats, they can try to govern as though they have a majority, as long as they get majority backing in parliamentary votes. “It’s all about political skill,” says Rocher.
On the other hand, a minority government led by Andrew Scheer would find it more difficult to make alliances in parliament as NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has ruled out propping up a Conservative minority government.
The Bloc and Green Party are firmly opposed to Scheer’s plan to roll back environmental policies, notably a carbon tax, introduced by the Liberals.
The Bloc said it would decide whom to back on a parliamentary vote by vote basis, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May declined to comment on possible scenarios, saying she’s “keeping her powder dry”.
Is a coalition government possible?
In theory, yes, but in practice it’s unlikely.
“It’s not part of Canadian political culture,” according to Rocher. It happened once, in 1917, when Conservatives and Liberals formed a coalition government to pass a conscription bill in the midst of World War I.
When will we know who will be PM?
Monday evening if a party wins a majority.
In the more likely scenario of a minority government, it could take weeks, if not months.
If Trudeau decides to stay in power — whether the Liberals are in the majority or not — he would first form a new government and then develop his legislative agenda, unveiling it in a “Speech from the Throne.”
This is delivered by the governor general, the federal viceregal representative of Canada’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, at the first convening of the new parliament.
Are the polls right?
Probabilities of a majority government are slim but caution is urged. “In 2015, neither experts nor the polls forecast that Justin Trudeau and his Liberals coming from third place to win in a landslide,” says Rocher. — AFP