G Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland May 3, 2019. — Reuters pic ENEVA, Oct 27 — Europe needs a “serious acceleration” in the fight against the coronavirus and a lack of contact-tracing capacity could drive the disease into the darkness, a top World Health Organization official said yesterday.
In Europe the picture is unrelentingly grim as a string of countries reported record increases, led by France, which posted more than 50,000 daily cases for the first time on Sunday, while the continent passed the threshold of 250,000 deaths.
The vast region, comprising 46 countries at WHO, accounted for 46 per cent of global cases and nearly one third of deaths, said Mike Ryan, the WHO's top emergencies expert.
“Right now we are well behind this virus in Europe, so getting ahead of it is going to take some serious acceleration in what we do,” Ryan told a news conference.
Clinical capacity to manage Covid-19 hospitalised patients has increased in Europe and death rates are “very very low,” Ryan said, paying tribute to health systems and medical workers.
“But we are seeing a large number of cases, we are seeing widespread disease, we are seeing very very high positivity rates and an increasing lack of capacity to do any effective form of contact-tracing which is further going to drive the disease into the darkness,” he said.
“And many countries are now facing the spectre of shutdowns in the coming weeks. It is not a situation where I'm sure any country in Europe or in the world would want to be in,” he added.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical head for Covid-19, said: “We are still hopeful that countries will not have to go into these so-called national lockdowns.”
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that during the first wave, Italy and Spain “took serious action to protect the vulnerable but at the same time reduce transmission,” adding: “The combination of this is very important.”
Tedros said governments and citizens needed to do their share and must “do everything to minimise transmission.”
“And that's why we are saying, although we agree with the chief of staff (Meadows), that protecting the vulnerable is important, but giving up on control is dangerous,” he said.
He was referring to comments that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made to CNN on Sunday, when he said: “We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.” — Reuters
WASHINGTON, Oct 27 — The US State Department has approved the potential sale of 100 Boeing-made Harpoon Coastal Defence Systems to Taiwan in a deal that has a potential value of up to US$2.37 billion (RM9.85 billion), the Pentagon said yesterday.
The move comes days after the State Department approved the potential sale of three other weapons systems to Taiwan, including sensors, missiles and artillery that could have a total value of US$1.8 billion which prompted a sanctions threat from China.
Earlier yesterday in Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters China will impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense, Raytheon and other US companies it says are involved in Washington's arms sales to Taiwan.
The US moves come as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China in the runup to the November 3 presidential election and concerns rise about Beijing's intentions toward Taiwan. Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary. — Reuters
SINGAPORE, Oct 27 — On the first day of a criminal defamation trial involving socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC), the court heard testimony from Sim Wee Lee, a man whose email and Facebook accounts were used by one of the accused persons.
When police officers eventually raided Sim’s home, they stumbled upon drugs there. He was later sentenced to eight months’ jail for drug possession.
Despite all this, Sim said that he has chosen to forgive Daniel Augustin De Costa, who used his Yahoo email account to send an article to TOC that alleged corruption in the cabinet.
De Costa, 37, is now contesting charges of criminal defamation along with TOC’s chief editor Terry Xu Yuanchen, 38.
Background of the case
The case revolves around an email that De Costa sent on September 4, 2018 to TOC using Sim’s email account. It was titled “PAP MP apologises to SDP.”
PAP refers to the ruling People’s Action Party, while SDP refers to the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.
Xu then approved its publication on the website in the form of a letter from Willy Sum, titled “The Take Away from Seah Kian Ping’s Facebook Post.” Sim was also known by the name Willy Sum.
The article by De Costa had alleged “corruption at the highest echelons” when he referred to comments made by Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng, whose name was misspelt, and Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam about a meeting in August 2018 between Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and some Singaporean activists.
Two weeks later, Xu complied with an order from the Infocomm Media Development Authority to remove the article.
The trial was meant to start almost a year ago but De Costa’s lawyer M. Ravi argued that the charges were unlawful on constitutional grounds.
In June, a High Court judge dismissed De Costa’s third constitutional challenge.
For using another person’s email account to send the article to TOC without the owner’s consent, De Costa also faces a second charge under the Computer Misuse Act.
De Costa helped to write emails
Sim took the stand for most of yesterday, telling the court in Mandarin through an interpreter that he got to know De Costa around 2005 while walking his puppies near De Costa’s residence.
They were “good friends,” and De Costa helped him to write emails because he was not proficient in English or using the computer, Sim said.
Sim was facing bankruptcy proceedings, problems with the Housing and Development Board, and summons issued against him.
He testified that he was grateful to De Costa for his help and gave him the passwords to his Yahoo and Gmail accounts, so that De Costa could send emails on Sim’s behalf.
He also gave De Costa his Facebook account password because the other man wanted to see something on the social media site, but purportedly did not have an account himself at the time.
Sim said: “I felt very angry and uneasy about (giving my password details to him) as it was a personal account, but I needed his help and I didn’t want to offend a friend.”
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Senthilkumaran Sabapathy then asked him to look at several emails and Facebook messages dating back to 2010.
Sim said that he did not give permission for some of them to be written, and that De Costa was probably the author since only he had the passwords.
In January 2017, Sim's Yahoo account password was also changed but he was serving time in prison.
However, he had stopped using the account earlier and was not aware of the password change until the defamation case emerged.
When questioned on how he felt about De Costa sending emails without his consent, Sim said: “I was very sad I realised he had sent some emails to some departments without my permission, but because at that time I needed his help, I did not pursue the matter.”
He later told De Costa not to use his email account to send emails, which were “mostly criticising government officials,” to unspecified government departments.
De Costa then said he would stop doing so, Sim testified.
Sim added that he did not change his passwords as they were friends with “a level of trust.”
‘On the verge of a breakdown'
DPP Sabapathy read out in court some Facebook messages purportedly written by Sim.
One was this: “Daniel will support what is right, I know him. He broke off friendships with some friends when he found them to be not doing the right thing.”
Sim said that he did not write the messages and suspected that De Costa himself did.
On one occasion, Sim’s friend called him to say he was making some comments on racial issues. He then told De Costa not to use his account anymore.
Towards the end of the day, the prosecution asked Sim about how the case had affected him.
He replied that he has faced many difficulties after completing his most recent jail sentence in July last year.
“I was actually on the verge of a breakdown because of my life, so I only hope this matter will come to an end soon.
“As for Daniel’s actions, I do not know whether he intentionally or unintentionally brought harm to me but I choose to forgive him,” he added.
The trial continues today with Ravi cross-examining Sim.
De Costa is represented by Choo Zheng Xi and Priscilla Chia from law firm Peter Low & Choo.
If convicted of criminal defamation, De Costa and Xu may be jailed up to two years or fined, or both.
De Costa's other charge of gaining unauthorised access to Sim’s account carries a maximum two-year jail term. — TODAY
MILAN, Oct 27 — Serie A leaders AC Milan dropped their first points of the season, despite a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace, when a defiant AS Roma came from behind three times to draw 3-3 in an enthralling game at San Siro on Monday.
Ibrahimovic, 39, gave Milan the lead in the second minute before Edin Dzeko headed Roma level 12 minutes later.
Alexis Saelemaekers put Milan back in front two minutes after the break and Roma hit back again in the 71st minute with a controversial penalty converted by Jordan Veretout.
Milan regained the lead with a penalty converted by Ibrahimovic, his sixth league goal of the season, but Marash Kumbulla equalised again for Roma with six minutes left.
Milan have 13 points from five games, two ahead of Napoli and Sassuolo, while Roma have eight. — Reuters
LONDON, Oct 27 — Son Heung-min pounced to steal a 1-0 win for lacklustre Tottenham on Monday, linking up with Harry Kane yet again as Jose Mourinho’s side climbed to fifth in the Premier League table.
The early weeks of the season have seen a string of unusual results and an off-colour Spurs looked likely to leave Turf Moor frustrated.
But South Korea forward Son scored his eighth league goal of the season in the 76th minute, heading in from close range after a headed pass from Kane.
Tottenham hammered Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier this month and turned on the style as they charged into an early 3-0 lead against West Ham in their following game.
But they were pegged back by the Hammers in the closing minutes of that match and were forced to settle for a 3-3 draw.
Their attacking momentum vanished at Turf Moor, where they struggled to make an impression against Sean Dyche’s side, who remain without a win this season.
Kane was able to get behind Burnley’s defence in the early minutes following a Toby Alderweireld ball over the top but the England striker’s first touch took him too wide and his shot sailed harmlessly over.
There was a lengthy stoppage as Alderweireld needed treatment on a bloody right eyebrow after being caught inadvertently by Ashley Barnes’ flailing arm in an aerial challenge. The Belgian had his head bandaged before play continued.
Slightly against the run of play, Burnley had the ball in the back of the net when Barnes seemingly sprang the offside trap and buried the ball past Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
However, the flag went up at the end of the move and a replay confirmed Barnes and a couple of other Burnley players had strayed a couple of yards offside.
It was not until the 38th minute that the game had its first shot on target, Ashley Westwood bringing a low save out of Lloris after Josh Brownhill had stolen the ball off Tanguy Ndombele on the edge of the area.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson then cut in from the right and forced Lloris into action once more as Burnley ended the half on top.
Tottenham again struggled to find their fluency in the early stages of the second half, with Burnley threatening to take the lead.
James Tarkowski put a header wide from close range before Mourinho threw on Erik Lamela to replace Lucas Moura in the 57th minute.
Kane came to the rescue from another Tarkowski effort, heading off the line.
Tottenham were in front in the 76th minute when Lamela’s corner was flicked on by Kane and headed into the top corner at the back post by Son.
This time there was no collapse as they held on for a third win of the season. — AFP
PARIS, Oct 27 — The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday ruled against American Paralympian Blake Leeper’s attempt to compete in next year’s Tokyo Olympics wearing prosthetic legs.
The 31-year-old Leeper, who was born without lower legs, won silver in the 400 and bronze in the 200m in the T43 class at the Paralympics in London in 2012 but wanted to emulate South African Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed ‘the Blade Runner’, who competed in the Olympics that year.
Leeper was appealing a decision by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF) in February to ban him from competing with his blade-shaped prostheses.
While CAS said in its ruling that it upheld Leeper’s argument that the World Athletics (WA) rule was “unlawful and invalid”, it also decided that the prosthetics gave him a “competitive advantage.”
Leeper’s lawyer reacted to the ruling by accusing CAS of racism.
CAS said it was unfair that WA’s rule “places the burden of proof upon an athlete” but it agreed with the intention to allow disabled athletes to compete without using “mechanical aids that do more than compensate for the effect of their disability.”
After hearing expert witnesses, CAS said it had “concluded that the running-specific prostheses used by Blake Leeper indeed gave him an overall competitive advantage in the 400m event over an athlete not using such a mechanical aid since they enabled him to run at a height that was several inches taller than his maximum possible height if he had intact biological legs.”
Leeper broke Pistorius’s world record in the T43 400m in 2017.
The WA ban last February prevented Leeper from running at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in October 2019 even though he finished fifth in the US championships and would have made the relay squad.
His best time was 44.38sec in the semifinals, well inside his own T43 record, but 1.25sec slower than Wayde van Niekerk’s world record and 0.9sec slower than Bahamian Steven Gardiner’s winning time in Doha.
“World Athletics welcomes CAS’s ruling that on the facts of this case,” the organisation wrote in a statement.
Leeper’s lawyer Jeffrey Kessler was unhappy CAS had accepted their challenge on principal but still found against the runner.
Kessler also suggested the height data used was racist telling the Inside the Games website CAS was “authorising an even more insidious form of racial discrimination - against black disabled athletes - by finding that their prosthetic limbs are subject to artificial height limitations based solely on the body proportions of Caucasian and Asian athletes.”
Kessler said he planned to take the case to civil court.
WA responded that it rejected “the new allegation from Mr Leeper’s legal team that the finding that he ‘runs tall’ is based on a ‘racist’ Paralympic rule.”
“The 15cm disparity found in Mr Leeper’s case between his prosthetic leg length and his natural leg length is not due to racial differences in body dimensions.”
The CAS decision means in future it will be up to the federation to prove “equipment” does not give athletes an advantage. — AFP
MALLORCA, Oct 27 — Two weeks after his 13th French Open title Rafael Nadal proved his prowess in another sporting arena when he finished tied sixth in the Balearic Golf Pro-Am Championships on Monday.
The 34-year-old, who boasts a handicap of 0.3, came in 10 shots behind the winner after the three day tournament in Llucmajor on his native Mallorca, Marca reported.
The world number two in his chosen sport of tennis followed up 74s in the opening two rounds with a 77 on Monday in the combined Pro-Am event won by Sebastian Garcia.
Nadal swops clubs for rackets when he returns to the court for the Paris Masters at Bercy starting next Monday.
At the French Open, Nadal beat world number one Novak Djokovic in a one-sided final to move level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles. — AFP
LONDON, Oct 27 — Karlan Grant scored his first goal for West Brom as they came from behind to claim their first away point of the Premier League season in a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Monday.
An unfortunate own goal from West Brom’s Jake Livermore gave Graham Potter’s side a first-half lead but the Seagulls were unable to hold out for the win.
The home side looked more threatening early on. Neal Maupay converted Adam Lallana’s cross only for his effort to be ruled out for offside before Leandro Trossard’s shot was saved.
Five minutes before half-time their pressure paid off when an attempted clearance from Branislav Ivanovic struck Jake Livermore and rebounded into the back of the net.
Slaven Bilic’s West Brom started the second half positively and had a Conor Gallagher effort blocked just after the restart.
The Baggies continued to put pressure on the home defence as the match wore on, forcing Mat Ryan into another save from Filip Krovinovic.
Matheus Pereira had a good chance for the visitors midway through the second half but he put his effort wide before later clipping the outside of a post.
But West Brom’s second-half pressure finally paid off when Grant turned a Callum Robinson ball past Ryan in the 83rd minute to ensure that the Baggies would leave the south coast with a point.
The result, which leaves both teams in the bottom five, means Brighton have won just one of their past 12 home league games.
Brighton boss Potter said he was frustrated by the draw.
“We have to analyse why we were not so good in the second half, why our performance dipped a bit but now we have to give credit for the opposition for raising their performance,” he told the BBC.
“We have had some good performances this season. There is more to do, we have to improve but something to learn from and build from.” — AFP
LONDON, Oct 27 — Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has called the Premier League’s controversial pay-per-view arrangements “not acceptable” as clubs prepare to discuss the policy at a shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday.
Matches played after October’s internationals that were not selected for regular television broadcast were made available on a pay-per-view basis on Sky Sports or BT Sport at £14.95 (RM81) each.
Fans’ groups have urged a price cut, with many supporters opting to donate to food banks and other charitable causes instead of paying the fee.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month the price was “defensible” while BT Sport said it was simply covering its costs.
Ashley, who explained his initial vote in favour of the pay-per-view proposal as being due to a lack of “realistic or viable alternatives”, has now proposed a reduced-price version.
“I am calling on the Premier League to immediately act and review its current pay-per-view arrangements for live matches in the UK,” he said in a statement.
“Charging £14.95 for single televised matches in the current climate it is not acceptable to any football fan. Supporters have overwhelmingly rejected this offer and the Premier League must now act.
“Why not make it much more accessible at £4.95 per match until Christmas?”
Ashley suggested profits from the reduced-price scheme should be divided equally between the English top-flight and lower-league clubs.
Premier League clubs had hoped to welcome back some fans to stadiums from October but the government has imposed an indefinite delay due to the rise in coronavirus cases.
The league has warned that English football will lose £100 million for every month supporters remain barred from grounds. — AFP
LONDON, Oct 27 — Former Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City goalkeeper Michel Vorm on Monday announced his retirement from the sport, bringing an end to his 15-year career.
Vorm, 37, began his career at Dutch club Utrecht in 2005 before moving to Swansea in 2011, where he won the League Cup.
The former Netherlands international spent six seasons with Spurs, mainly as a backup to Hugo Lloris, before leaving the north London club when his contract expired last season.
“I decided to retire from playing professional football,” Vorm said on Instagram.
“I am thankful to play for all these clubs and honoured that I was able to represent my country on international tournaments.” — Reuters
LONDON, Oct 27 — Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Olympique Marseille through a hamstring injury and could be out of action for two to four weeks, manager Pep Guardiola said on Monday.
Aguero was withdrawn at halftime in Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at West Ham United with Guardiola confirming the 32-year-old suffered a muscular problem, only a week after making his first start of the season following knee surgery.
“It depends on the injury. We expect 10-15 days for sure minimum, or it could be three weeks or a month,” Guardiola told reporters. “When you are out for four or five months with a knee problem, you always have a risk when you come back.
“We tried to handle it the best as possible, (playing him)50-55 minutes in the games, but it was not enough to maintain it and get him through the games.
“We knew he was not in the best condition against Arsenal but without strikers that we had, it was important that he played 60 minutes. We have to be calm and hope he recovers as quickly as possible.”
Guardiola confirmed midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and defender Aymeric Laporte were available for Tuesday’s clash in France, while new signing Nathan Ake (groin) and striker Gabriel Jesus (thigh) were edging closer to their return.
“Nathan is so close to come back, Gabriel is 7-10 days to coming back,” he added.
City lack an experienced centre forward against Andre Villas-Boas’ Marseille in the absence of injured duo Aguero and Jesus.
When asked if the Etihad club could have bought a striker in the close season to add more options, Guardiola said: “Maybe we considered it and thought about it and another type of striker, but we could not.
“You know when you decide to buy a striker they have to be at the level of Aguero and Jesus and we could not afford it. This is the reality.” — Reuters
LONDON, Oct 27 — The Premier League said on Monday that two people had returned positive results in its latest round of Covid-19 tests conducted on players and staff last week.
The league said the individuals who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus would now self-isolate for 10 days.
“The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 19 October and Sunday 25 October, 1,609 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19. Of these, there were two new positive tests,” the Premier League said in a statement.
A total of 44 people have tested positive for the virus in eight rounds of testing since the new league campaign began on Sept. 12.
There have been more than 900,000 Covid-19 infections and over 44,000 deaths in the United Kingdom, according to a Reuters tally. — Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — Umno's decision last night to continue propping up the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government is a political lifeline for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, but doubts remain as to how long his administration can last without reaching out to other political parties for support.
While Umno said last night it would seek national reconciliation, it also ruled out working with PKR or DAP to appease its base. This gives Muhyiddin little room to manoeuvre.
The threat of defections from Umno to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also remains.
For now, all political parties are likely to heed the advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and ensure Muhyiddin's Budget 2021, to be tabled next month, passes without incident in a bid to reverse the havoc the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought on the country’s economy.
Despite the high stakes political drama of the past few days, it is very much status quo for Muhyiddin, in that the challenges he was facing previously still loom large. With the exception that he has now been wounded by what is widely seen as a rebuke in the form of the King's refusal to declare a state of emergency.
Umno will almost certainly want to add to the pressure by continuing to push for more concessions from Muhyiddin in the form of either more seats at the table or more senior positions in Cabinet.
Malay Mail understands that Muhyiddin's camp has already reached out to some Opposition parties for support, but that too will come with its own demands.
For example, DAP senator Liew Chin Tong yesterday said that in order to secure political support from the Opposition, Muhyiddin will be expected to drop Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin from the Cabinet.
Options on the table include cobbling together a new coalition or possibly a national unity government.
But all of these come with their own problems and challenges.
Whether with Umno or Opposition parties, the political horse trading will continue to burden the current administration, and with a general election seemingly off the table because of the pandemic, it is looking like an impasse no matter which path Muhyiddin chooses.
Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Oh Ei Sun, said forming a unity government would depend largely on the eagerness of the various party members to work together and it could end up being like an arranged marriage.
“I frankly think all cards are on the table to scramble together a majority coalition. Now that the Agong has called on all sides to unite, that can be considered as a ‘clarion call’, previous preferences of individual parties notwithstanding.
“I mean when push comes to shove, all parties would have to choose between short-term political marriages of convenience with strange political bedfellows on the one hand, and long-term possible erosion of their respective support bases due to such political unions,” Oh told Malay Mail.
“It’s like arranged marriages,” he added.
Meanwhile, political scientist Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said that a unity government should include everyone who is capable and experienced.
“As its name goes, a national unity government would preferably be represented by the most able MPs regardless of party affiliations, plus a reasonable number of apolitical experts who could be appointed as senators in order for them to become members of the executive,” the professor said.
While a unity government appears to be an ideal solution, it was also rejected outright when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad proposed the move in February just after he quit as prime minister.
For now, Muhyiddin will have to depend on short-term confidence and supply arrangements with the Opposition, while dealing with the simmering rebellion from political partner Umno to ensure the Budget is passed.
This move may find bipartisan support, as electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has also recently urged the Opposition to agree not to vote against PN in votes of confidence or budgetary matters, while reserving the right to oppose other legislations.
But for Malaysia, political uncertainty and instability is likely here to stay in the foreseeable future.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — The Umno Supreme Council has decided tonight to keep its support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, after close to four hours of discussion.
Amid suggestions that it may abandon its support following PN’s failed move to force an emergency, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it is keeping with the status quo without joining forces with PKR and DAP.
“Umno strongly advocates that the principle of cooperation should be strengthened, centred on the value of respect and political consensus,” he said in a statement.
This comes as Datuk Seri Najib Razak earlier confirmed that he suggested to Umno leaders to work with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim if they are dissatisfied with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s PN government, on the condition it does not involve DAP.
The Umno Supreme Council also suggested that the PN government take a more inclusive and cross-partisan approach in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the alleviation of the negative economic impact that the public is currently facing.
“We recommend the National Reconciliation initiative or the National Peace Agenda be immediately implemented, by coaxing for the participation of all parties within the PN government, as well as Opposition parties.
“The council is also in full support of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree together with the Conference of Rulers that all tensions be released via a political ceasefire, so that the nation’s political stability can be preserved,” Zahid said.
He added that the council has also decided Umno’s annual general meeting’s theme this year will remain committed to the strengthening of Muafakat Nasional.
Nearly all of the council members who attended the meeting, which started at 8.30pm last night, were tight-lipped and declined to comment when confronted with the barrage of reporters.
Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin could only mumble “reject PKR, reject DAP” before he left in his vehicle, while Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim merely gestured with two thumbs up as he was leaving.
When facing the press, Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah covered his face mask with hand repeatedly, to gesture that he could not speak in detail of what took place during the meeting.
The meeting was widely speculated to focus on discussing if Umno would continue to support the PN government under Muhyiddin, and to see if more concessions could be wrested from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has issued a thunderstorm warning for several areas in Pahang and Sarawak, with heavy rain and strong winds expected to occur until 1am.
MetMalaysia, in a statement tonight, said among the affected areas in Pahang are Cameron Highlands, Lipis, Jerantut and Kuantan.
In Sarawak, the affected areas are Serian, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu (Sibu and Kanowit), Mukah (Tanjung Manis, Daro, Matu, and Dalat) and Kapit. — Bernama
BANGKOK, Oct 26 — Describing themselves as “human beings, not dust”, thousands of Thai protesters demanding reforms of the monarchy marched to the German embassy in Bangkok today to put pressure on King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends much of his time in Germany.
Germany has said it would be unacceptable for King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 68, to conduct politics there and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the European power continued to look into his behaviour during sojourns in Bavaria.
Months of student-led protests that began by calling for the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, 66, a former military ruler, have become the biggest challenge in decades to a monarchy that the Thai constitution says must be revered.
The Palace has made no comment since the start of the protests. A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday’s protest.
At the German embassy, a statement was read from “the People” accusing the king of interfering in Thai politics. It said that having failed to get “the royal puppet” to listen - a reference to Prayuth - they had come to “the puppet owner”.
“The era of change has arrived. The flowing stream of democracy cannot be stopped,” it said. “Down with feudalism, Long live the people.”
A separate letter asked Germany to investigate:
Whether the king conducted state business from there.
Whether he must pay inheritance tax there after the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016.
Accusations of human rights abuses.
The king’s lifestyle in Germany.
It was signed: “Best regards from fellow human beings, not dust” - referring to a Thai expression that people are but dust under the king’s feet.
Criticising the monarchy can mean 15 years in jail, but the protests have swept away the taboo on discussing it.
Protesters accuse the monarchy of helping enable decades military domination. They also complain about royal spending in Europe when the coronavirus has hit the tourism-reliant economy hard.
Thailand’s political crisis has made the king’s presence a challenge for Germany. “We are monitoring this long-term,” Maas said. “It will have immediate consequences if there are things that we assess to be illegal.”
The king is currently in Thailand.
In a special session of the Thai parliament on the crisis, Prayuth’s opponents urged him to stop using the monarchy to justify his hold on power and resign.
The opposition Move Forward party referred to an incident around a royal motorcade that was used to justify tough emergency measures on Oct. 15. The measures, now lifted, backfired when tens of thousands of people took to the streets.
Prayuth rejected protesters’ demand to resign and said last week it was his government’s job to protect the monarchy.
“I’m confident that today, regardless of our different political views, everyone still loves the country,” he told parliament.
Prayuth took power in a 2014 coup and protesters say he engineered last year’s election to keep control. He says the ballot was fair.
Protesters want the king to be bound by the constitution and to reverse changes giving him personal control of the palace fortune and some army units.
They said the Germany embassy had listened.
“Since we cannot ask for this clarity from our government, we seriously hope the German government can do it for us,” protest leader Patsaravalee ‘Mind’ Tanakitvibulpon, 25, told the crowd.
She was among scores of protesters arrested in a crackdown under emergency measures. She was freed on bail. Several prominent leaders are still detained.
Before protesters reached the embassy, a couple of dozen royalists assembled there, shouting: “Long live the king. We will protect him with our lives.” — Reuters
GENEVA, Oct 26 — Washington has appealed against a World Trade Organization ruling that faulted US duties imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods during the trade wars between the two giants.
The United States announced its decision to appeal during a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body on Monday, a WTO official said.
The DSB had ruled on September 15 that the US tariffs imposed in 2018 on some US$250 billion of Chinese goods were “inconsistent” with global trade rules, and recommended that Washington “bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.
The tariffs marked the beginning of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had in September slammed the WTO ruling, saying it proved the WTO “is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices”.
On Monday, a US representative asserted that the panel ruling was based on legal errors, insisting that China’s unfair trade practices had cost US innovators, workers and businesses billions of dollars every year.
The DSB verdict marked one of the first in a series of anticipated panel rulings over complaints filed by a long line of countries over US President Donald Trump’s decision to hit them with steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.
Usually, the WTO Appellate Body would have three months to rule on any appeals filed.
But that process has been complicated since the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning last December after years of relentless US opposition.
Washington accuses the court of major overreach and has blocked the appointment of new judges, leaving it without the required quorum.
The US once again on Monday blocked efforts to appoint new Appellate Body judges.
By filing an appeal with nowhere for the appeal to be heard, Washington has in effect blocked China’s ability to move forward and request financial compensation for the US activities deemed illegal by the DSB.
China’s representative told Monday’s DSB meeting it was disappointed with the US decision to appeal, and accused Washington of taking advantage of the current paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body.
There are currently 16 appeals pending in the WTO system with nowhere to go. — AFP
SINGAPORE, Oct 26 — Singapore is set to import electricity from Malaysia as early as next year in a trial to diversify the country’s energy supply.
Making the announcement today, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said: “We will kick this off by importing 100 megawatts of electricity imports for a trial period of two years to see how the market works and to see how the technical challenges can be overcome.
“This will allow the region to share the clean energy sources that different countries may have.”
He was speaking on the first day of the Singapore International Energy Week, an annual energy conference involving international policymakers and industry commentators, held in the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands.
In a media release on Monday, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) said that it plans to issue a Request for Proposal by March next year for 100 megawatts of electricity imports. The amount is equivalent to about 1.5 per cent of Singapore’s peak electricity demand.
The highest monthly peak demand last year was 7,404 megawatts in May.
Under the proposal, electricity imports could begin as early as the end of 2021 via the existing electricity interconnector between Singapore and Malaysia.
Singapore currently does not import electricity.
More than 95 per cent of its electricity is generated from imported natural gas, of which the majority is from Malaysia and Indonesia.
EMA said: “To meet our climate change commitments, there is a need to change the way Singapore produces and uses energy. Tapping regional power grids for cleaner energy resources is one strategy to further diversify Singapore’s energy supply.”
The statutory board added that the trial aims to assess and refine the technical and regulatory frameworks for importing electricity into Singapore to help facilitate larger-scale imports from the region in future.
An importer will be selected through an open and competitive selection process. Potential importers will have to demonstrate, among other things, their track record, their ability to secure demand from Singapore consumers and how they manage the carbon output of generation supply.
Chan said that the trial is one way to encourage more players to adopt energy-efficient solutions.
“Moral suasion can only go that far. We will need to make sure that we have the right market structures, right incentives to drive the right behaviour in a sustainable way for the long term.”
Besides the trial, EMA will also introduce a forward capacity market in the coming years to provide greater certainty to energy producers on the energy demand in the next few years.
Interested parties for the trial may email EMA at [email protected] for more details. — TODAY
SIBU, Oct 26 — A couple and a teenager died when their car collided with a cargo lorry at Simpang Salcra, Jalan Saratok-Sarikei, about 110 kilometres from here today.
A Sarawak Fire and Rescue Operation Centre spokesman said the victims were identified as Raju Lian, 43, his wife, Irene Jerah, 44, and a teenage girl, Vanessa Deborah Medan,16, whose relationship with the couple has yet to be identified.
“The couple’s two children, identified as Geneyses Rachle Raju, 15, and Bakter None Raju, 20, and another teenage boy, Moses Medan, 13, were injured and taken to the Saratok Hospital,” the spokesman said when contacted tonight.
According to him, the cargo lorry driver and attendant escaped unhurt in the 5.30pm accident.
“Firefighters had to use a rescue tool to remove the three victims trapped in the car and who were declared dead by the Health Department personnel who arrived at the scene,” he added. — Bernama
All MPs should support Budget 2021 for country’s wellbeing, says Economic Action Council executive director
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Economic Action Council (EAC) executive director Tan Sri Noor Azlan Ghazali has called on all Members of Parliament to respect the decree of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and support the approval of Budget 2021.
He said the support was important as Budget was crucial in the effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure the country’s overall economic sustainability.
“What we want to convey to all MPs is that the political issue is (just an issue) among them, but whatever happens, they need to ensure that the country has sufficient allocation.
“Until today, the government has spent billions of ringgit to fight Covid-19, and now we are facing the third wave, so I believe we need to provide adequate allocation,” he said while appearing on the Ruang Bicara programme aired on Bernama TV, tonight.
Yesterday, Al-Sultan Abdullah stressed that Budget 2021, which will be tabled in the next parliamentary session, was very important to the people, especially in terms of dealing with Covid-19 and restoring the country’s economy.
Commenting further, Noor Azlan said the country had successfully managed to control the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year, and the data also showed signs of economic recovery.
However, he said the country’s economy took a hit once again when the third wave occurred.
“The current economic situation, on the whole, is indeed bleak, and many segments in society are affected by Covid-19, there are cases of job losses, and businesses are also affected.
“The responsibility (of MPs) remains to the people, please support (the Budget). The well-being of the people is the most important thing,” he said.
Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz is expected to present Budget 2021 during the Parliament sitting on November 6. — Bernama