ROME: Atalanta were easy 4-1 winners against Empoli in Serie A on Sunday, before they take on Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League this week.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
When the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) announced that almost half of its members have less then RM10,000 in their accounts, one is worried.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
The Health Ministry reported that 1,080 cases of attempted suicides were referred to government hospitals last year.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India: At least 25 people have died in landslides and floods triggered by heavy rains in southwestern India, officials said Sunday, as rescuers scoured for survivors in muddy debris and the military flew in emergency supplies.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
They have been saviours to people who have been unable to move around, especially the elderly and severely disadvantaged people, by providing services from food orders to grocery shopping.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
Something very interesting happened at the Africa-France Summit held on Oct 8 in Montpellier, France.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
For almost two years now, we have experienced a never-before-seen calamity. The damage caused by Covid-19 may have been from losing a loved one, our jobs, our businesses or a depleting bank account.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
It was filled with fun, laughter, friends, teachers and all the nice things on Earth. We found our self-identity and developed positive character.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
I have contended previously that Asean, with its diversity among its member states, is a solid alliance in navigating and guiding the path forward post-Covid-19 to achieve peaceful coexistence in the Indo-Pacific. This is a follow-up.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry both scored twice as Bayern Munich rampaged to a thumping 5-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen to return to the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
The logo of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) is seen in this file picture taken December 29, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
LABUAN, Oct 17 — Labuan Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is gearing up its election machinery to ensure that the party is ready for the 15th General Election (GE15).
Its division chief Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman said the party machinery had started preparations at the branch, youth and women’s wing levels to ensure that the Labuan division plays a proactive role in the election.
“Currently, work involving the party machinery is being streamlined and strengthened,” he told reporters after officiating the party’s 2021 annual general meeting for branches in the Labuan division here today.
He said the current political situation in the country has led to Bersatu taking the necessary steps for any eventuality.
Suhaili said the AGM today and the one for the division on Nov 14 were also part of Labuan Bersatu’s preparations for GE15. — Bernama
Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks at a press conference in the Dewan Rakyat’s media centre, October 5, 2021. — Bernama pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The selection of candidates to be fielded by Umno for the Melaka state election and 15th general election will no longer be decided by the party president only.
Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on the other hand, the matter would be determined jointly with deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and vice-president, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob who is also the Prime Minister.
“This means we three agree that (candidates to be selected) must be individuals who winnable, acceptable and likeable to the voters,” he said when closing the Umno President Cup Oratory competition today.
Ahmad Zahid who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman said the appointment letters would not however be signed if the candidate is not agreed at BN level. — Bernama
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a joint news conference at the end of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies in Paris, France May 18, 2021. — Pool pic via Reuters
WASHINGTON, Oct 17 — Global finance officials are worried about rising inflation pressures but there it is little fear that it will become a “runaway train,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said today.
With supply chain bottlenecks growing in the face of surging demand, policymakers have focused attention on rising prices and whether they will linger or fade away in coming months.
“We are in a more somewhat more uncertain space now,” Georgieva said at the G30 central banking conference.
However, in advanced economies “policymakers have the tools” to deal with inflation, she said, so “there is no significant concern that this would be a runaway train.”
Even so, finance ministers and central bankers gathered last week in Washington for the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank were more concerned than previously that the prices increases could be more than transitory, she said.
And major emerging markets like Russia and Mexico already have raised interest rates showing that “in these places their policymakers are sufficiently concerned already to take action.”
In the world’s largest economy, US Federal Reserve officials have signaled they will begin to pull back on stimulus by tapering its bond purchases in the last few weeks of the year, but the benchmark interest rate is expected to remain at zero with no increase until late 2022 at the earliest.
The Bank of England so far has left its stimulus unchanged, but there were signs of dissent at its most recent policy meeting, when two of its rate-setting panel voted to stop the bond-buying stimulus as soon as possible to help quell inflation.
BOE governor Andrew Bailey said central bankers face a “very difficult balancing act” because they cannot address the underlying supply shocks with monetary policy, but have to respond to what is happening in the economy.
Failure to act to contain inflation risks undermining central banks’ inflation-fighting credibility, he said.
“We have ... to preserve the huge progress we’ve made in terms of the credibility of monetary policy regimes. I mean that is absolutely critically important,” Bailey said at the conference. — AFP
Lazio and Inter Milan players scuffle after the former's second goal. — AFP pic
ROME, Oct 17 — Lazio defender Luiz Felipe has apologised for jumping on Inter Milan striker Joaquin Correa’s back after the Roman club’s 3-1 Serie A win yesterday, saying he wanted to hug his friend but misread the moment.
The Brazilian was shown a red card after the final whistle for leaping on his former team mate, who left Lazio in the off-season, after the Roman club came from behind to beat the Italian champions in a fiery game at the Stadio Olimpico.
Inter were furious when Lazio took the lead late on while one of their players was down injured, and brawls broke out after the goal and following the fulltime whistle.
Argentina forward Correa, known as “Tucu”, was angered by Felipe’s move, and the referee’s decision left the Lazio man in tears.
“At the end of the game I jumped on Tucu’s shoulders because he is one of the great friends football has given me. Our families are friends and we have always been very close,” Felipe wrote on Instagram, along with six photos of himself with Correa.
“What I wanted most was to hug him and joke about the result, as far as our friendship would allow, but I got excited.
“Maybe in retrospect it was not the best time or place. I apologise to anyone who was offended and want to clarify that I was not trying to be disrespectful towards him, other players or Inter and their passionate fans. It was an innocent act by a person with great affection for Tucu.”
Correa said Felipe had made an error.
“My friend Luiz definitely made a mistake with the act and the timing, and in the heat of the moment that was my reaction,” the Inter player said.
“I wish it never happened. But now we turn the page and move on, all of us.” — Reuters
West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna celebrates after Everton v West Ham United at Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain October 17, 2021 — Action Images via Reuters pic
LIVERPOOL, Oct 17 — West Ham manager David Moyes enjoyed a winning return to Everton as Angelo Ogbonna’s header sealed a 1-0 victory at Goodison Park today.
Moyes spent 11 years in charge of the Merseyside club from 2002 to 2013 and is still regarded fondly by Everton fans.
But his relationship with Everton’s current boss Rafael Benitez is less cordial after the Spaniard irritated Moyes by labelling the Toffees a small club during his time at Liverpool.
Benitez apologised for that comment after his controversial appointment as Everton boss in the close-season.
But, with that spat in mind, Moyes may well have taken extra satisfaction from a victory that moved West Ham above Everton into sixth place in the Premier League.
Benitez was unbeaten in his last nine league meetings with teams managed by Moyes, winning five in a row before this weekend’s encounter.
His dominance over Moyes came to an abrupt halt as Ogbonna headed home with 16 minutes to play, extending West Ham’s unbeaten away record in all competitions this term.
The east Londoners have won five of the six games on their travels, while Everton slumped to their first home defeat this season.
Everton should have been buoyed by an impressive 1-1 draw at Manchester United in their last match before the international break.
But they made a slow start as West Ham held almost 80 percent of the possession in the early stages.
Hammers forward Said Benrahma fired over from long-range before Pablo Fornals’ goal-bound volley was blocked.
Demarai Gray has made a good start following his move to Everton and the winger left Ogbonna trailing in his wake before whipping over a low cross that Alex Iwobi should have converted.
Everton’s Andros Townsend danced his way to the byline for a cross that Abdoulaye Doucoure headed narrowly wide.
Moyes’ men thought they had taken the lead when Jarrod Bowen’s shot was pushed out by Jordan Pickford for Tomas Soucek to net the rebound, but the Czech midfielder was correctly ruled offside.
Fornals curled just wide from a good position late in the first half.
Townsend carried a threat for Everton on the flanks and his cross was glanced inches wide by Salomon Rondon soon after the interval.
A scrappy game of few clear chances at last produced a goal in the 74th minute.
Everton felt aggrieved as they appealed in vain for a foul on Pickford by Michail Antonio in an aerial challenge that resulted in a corner.
From Bowen’s set-piece, Italy defender Ogbonna rose highest to glance his header past Pickford. — AFP
Religious affairs minister: Special committee meeting will discuss SOPs for mosque, surau activities
The committee will also discuss a proposal to reduce the gap between congregants during congregational prayers. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The Muzakarah Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) is set to convene a special meeting to discuss issues relating to standard operating procedures (SOP) for mosque and surau activities, including a proposal to reduce the gap between congregants during congregational prayers.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad said he had asked the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to arrange the meeting to listen to a briefing on the current Covid-19 risk assessment by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
He said this was following the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on states transitioning to the next phase as well as relaxation of the SOP under the National Recovery Plan (PPN).
“I believe a decision will be achieved for the good of the public, and hope that mosque and surau activities, especially congregational prayers will be allowed as usual with certain SOPs,” he said in a statement today.
Apart from the MOH and the National Security Council (MKN), Idris said all members of the MKI comprising respective state muftis as well as appointed members among experts were also invited to attend the meeting.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia announced that congregational prayers could be held at full capacity at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah beginning today (Oct 17). — Bernama
Manchester United's Paul Pogba said the club had conceded easy and stupid goals. — Reuters pic
MANCHESTER, Oct 17 — Paul Pogba delivered a withering assessment of the state of Manchester United’s form after a 4-2 defeat to Leicester left the Red Devils already five points adrift in the Premier League title race.
United have not won an English top-flight title since 2013, but were expected to challenge this season after splashing out to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the transfer window.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have taken just one point from a possible nine against Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester in their last three league games.
United also crashed out of the League Cup last month and are under pressure for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Atalanta after losing their opening group game to Swiss side Young Boys.
“If we want to win the title, these are the games we need to win, even if they are very hard,” Pogba told Sky Sports.
“We have been having these kind of games for a long time and haven’t found the problem. We have conceded easy and stupid goals.”
United’s defence was easily exposed by a Leicester side that had not won since August before yesterday.
Solskjaer started with all of Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Ronaldo and hinted afterwards he may have to sacrifice some of his attacking stars to better balance the side.
“We know that the fans were going to push and put pressure on us and we need to be more mature, play with more experience and arrogance - in a good way - by taking the ball and playing our football,” added Pogba.
“We need to find the key for this change because we deserved to lose.
“I don’t know if it is the mindset of the players. We need to change something. We need to find the mentality and tactics to win. We have to look as individuals and as a team to fix this.”
Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville said Solskjaer’s forward players were not working hard enough defensively.
“I love them as players those five, but having them all in the same team there’s not enough work horses,” said Neville.
“We needed work horses alongside the great players. Manchester United at this moment in time are imbalanced.”
The pressure is rising on Solskjaer to turn things around quickly ahead of a demanding run of fixtures.
Solskjaer’s men face Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next six Premier League games. — AFP
LONDON, Oct 17 — Swansea increased the pressure on Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy with a 3-0 win over their bitter rivals in the south Wales derby today.
Jamie Paterson was Swansea’s star at the Liberty Stadium with the opening goal and two assists as struggling Cardiff suffered a sixth successive Championship defeat.
Joel Piroe and Jake Bidwell bagged second half goals as Swansea enjoyed their biggest league win under new boss Russell Martin.
Whether McCarthy survives this local beating remains to be seen, but the nature of Cardiff’s second-half surrender means serious questions are set to be asked about the former Republic of Ireland manager.
McCarthy has only been in charge since January but Cardiff now find themselves three points above the relegation zone when they had been expected to mount a play-off challenge.
Swansea climbed three points clear of Cardiff after their third win in 12 league games. — AFP
Merck on Oct 11 applied for US emergency clearance of the first pill for Covid-19 after it cut hospitalisations and deaths by 50 per cent in a large clinical trial. — Reuters pic
NEW YORK, Oct 17 —The plan to roll out Merck & Co’s promising antiviral pill to treat Covid-19 risks repeating the inequities of vaccine distribution, potentially leaving the nations with the greatest need once again at the back of the line, international health groups say.
For example, only about 5 per cent of Africa’s population is immunizsd, creating an urgent need for therapeutics that could keep people out of hospitals. That compares with more than a 70 per cent inoculation rate in most wealthy nations.
Merck on Oct 11 applied for US emergency clearance of the first pill for Covid-19 after it cut hospitalisations and deaths by 50 per cent in a large clinical trial. The medicine, made with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, could gain authorisation as soon as December.
The US drugmaker has taken the unusual pandemic step of licensing several generics of its antiviral molnupiravir before its branded version was even authorized for marketing.
But international health officials said even that is not enough for the medicine to reach many in low- and middle-income countries in large enough numbers, while noting shortcomings and red tape among global organisations that could further slow distribution.
Merck this year plans to produce 10 million treatment courses of the pill, which is taken twice a day for five days, and another 20 million next year.
In addition, its licensing deals with eight Indian drugmakers will allow cheaper generic versions for 109 low- and middle-income countries including in Africa, a move international groups acknowledge is a positive concession.
But as wealthy nations secure molnupiravir supply deals - the United States has already locked up 1.7 million courses with an option for 3.5 million more by January of 2023 at about US$700 (RM2,911) per course - concerns grow over who might be left out.
Not moving quickly enough
Merck said it has worked on the technology transfer needed to start generic manufacturing, in contrast to vaccine makers who continue to resist calls to waive patents or allow for generic versions to boost supplies.
But a recent report prepared for the United Nations’ Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator program tasked with buying Covid-19 therapeutics for poor countries cited concerns that UN agencies were not moving quickly enough to secure adequate volumes of potential new treatments ahead of time, including Merck’s drug.
Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), a United Nations-backed public health organization, has 24 companies signed up and willing to make the drug if Merck agrees to expand the licenses.
“If you’re not in the license, you’re relying on Merck, and it looks to us that that could mean a potential supply shortfall as well as overpricing,” said Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen, who sits on the MPP governance board. He suggested that could lead to wealthy countries outbidding poor nations for the medicine.
It is unclear how many generic pills will be available or when. The licensed Indian manufacturers including Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla Ltd, Dr. Reddy’s Labs , Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs, Sun Pharmaceuticals, and Torrent Pharmaceuticals declined to provide details on production plans.
In addition, manufacturing for low-income countries in many nations also requires World Health Organisation (WHO) approval, a regulatory process that typically takes months.
Merck said it is committed to providing timely access to its drug globally with plans for tiered pricing aligned with a country’s ability to pay. A spokesperson confirmed it is in discussions about expanding licenses for generic molnupiravir “to build sufficient global supply of quality-assured product to meet orders globally.”
But middle-income countries will be hard pressed to negotiate against the richest nations, another MPP official said.
The governments of Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia said they already had deals or were negotiating supply contracts with Merck. The EU is considering buying the pill after Merck applies for authorisation in Europe.
The eight generic manufacturers chosen by Merck all have WHO pre-qualified facilities to allow them to supply buyers like the Global Fund, according to Paul Schaper, Merck’s executive director of global public policy. They will set their pricing and decide how much they plan to manufacture.
“What we are anticipating and hoping for is that they will compete with each other on pricing,” Schaper said. — Reuters
Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the campaign also provided good exposure to young players in the effort to make Malaysia a badminton powerhouse. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
PETALING JAYA, Oct 17 — The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) made the right decision to send a line-up for the 2020 Thomas Cup campaign in Aarhus, Denmark, says Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
He said despite being eliminated in the quarter-finals, the national team, which has an average age of 23, put up a great fight against the top in the world, who were also more experienced.
He said the campaign also provided good exposure to young players in the effort to make Malaysia a badminton powerhouse.
“They did not lose easily, they put up a great fight. This means the decision was right and we also want to see greater success after this.
“Nobody in Malaysia expected the team to bring back the trophy, we did not set that target,” he said during a press conference after attending the closing ceremony of Mobile Legends Pro League (MPL) Malaysia Season 8 here today.
In the quarter-final action that took place on Friday, Malaysia lost 0-3 to archrivals Indonesia, thus failing to avenge the defeat in the same stage against the latter in the 2018 edition of the competition.
Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup in 1992 in Kuala Lumpur, and the 2014 edition in India was the last time the squad made it to the finals.
Meanwhile, commenting on Malaysia’s performance in the Uber Cup, Ahmad Faizal said the national women’s squad with an average age of 21, performed well despite great challenges from superpowers.
He hoped that all parties would continue to support the country’s men’s and women’s teams which are gunning for success by 2024.
“I believe with what we have experienced this time around, our players will show better performance in future tournaments. As supporters, I hope we can continue to support them so that they can bounce back from this defeat,” he said.
The national Uber Cup squad had set a quarter-final target but failed to get past the group stage competition when they finished bottom of Group D after losing 1-4 to hosts Denmark, 0-5 to China and 1-4 to Canada. — Bernama