Sunday, May 22, 2022

AP abolition right move to ensure continuity of food supplies, says minister

AP abolition right move to ensure continuity of food supplies, says minister

Traders report facing chicken supply disruption at the wet market in Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya, May 22,2022. — Picture by Devan Manuel

PUTRAJAYA, May 22 — The abolition of the approved permits (AP) for food products is in line with the government’s desire to ensure continuity in supplies, said Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi.

He said it is also expected to create excess of supplies in the market that would benefit consumers as food products are easily available compared to the current situation.

“The market involving basic necessities will be more competitive and is projected to trigger a drop in prices based on a certain quantum, depending on the quality and packaging aspects,” he said in a statement today.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said the government agreed not to impose AP for the import of foodstuff with immediate effect to ensure sufficient food supply in the country.

However, he said it would take some time for the AP abolition to have a positive impact on consumers as it depended on several factors such as the procurement process, halal certification and customs inspection.

Nanta, meanwhile, welcomed the Cabinet meeting which has been scheduled to start earlier tomorrow (May 23) as it would determine the government’s intervention measures in resolving the issue over daily necessities, especially chicken.

He said the intervention should take the cross-ministry and whole of government approach to ensure that efforts to solve the problem are not implemented in silos and with no continuity.

Earlier, Ismail Sabri announced that the Cabinet meeting tomorrow would discuss the issue of rising cost of living and food supply.

He (prime minister) said the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) and the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry (MAFI), would each present a report on the issue, including the short-term and long-term plans to address it. — Bernama

Arbitrary decisions on dress code by guards is the issue, says Ngeh

Arbitrary decisions on dress code by guards is the issue, says Ngeh

Ngeh Koo Ham reminds Adnan Mat that there is no law giving powers to civil servants or guards to deny the public access to government departments based on a dress code.

PETALING JAYA: Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham has told Cuepacs that he was objecting to the questionable way the dress code was being implemented in certain government offices, and not asking for Malaysians to dress indecently when visiting these premises.

Citing examples of arbitrary decisions to deny entrance to the public by security guards at government offices, he said the issue is about denying service to those who purportedly failed to comply with the dress code.

“I have received many complaints from those who were denied entry to government offices by security guards.

“One was from a lawyer whose attire was acceptable in the courts but was denied entry to an education department on the grounds that her knee-length skirt violated the dress code.

“A local television reporter has complained that she was denied entry into a road transport department to renew her road tax on the grounds that she wore a T-shirt and a knee-length skirt,” he said in a statement today.

Ngeh also pointed out that an old man had to return home, located 15km away from a local government office, to change his shorts into long pants before he was allowed to enter and make some payments.

Yesterday, Cuepacs slammed Ngeh for what it claimed was politicising the dress code issue.

Its president Adnan Mat said the dress code requirement is in line with the Rukun Negara.

The umbrella body for civil service unions said asking people to be decently attired when visiting government offices is a reasonable request which no political party should politicise.

Ngeh questioned how civil servants and security guards were given the authority to make these assessments as there was no law giving powers to government officers to prescribe attire for those seeking services at public departments.

He also said Adnan had missed the point on the dress code imposed by departmental heads and had failed to recognise the real problem on the ground affecting the public.

DAP’s Aziz Bari wants to take on former MB Ahmad Faizal in Tambun for GE15

DAP’s Aziz Bari wants to take on former MB Ahmad Faizal in Tambun for GE15

Perak Opposition leader and constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari speaks to the press at the State Secretariat Building in Ipoh October 26, 2020. - Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Perak Opposition leader Abdul Aziz Bari wants to take on former Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu in the upcoming 15th General Elections (GE15) for the latter’s Tambun parliamentary seat.

He claimed that Faizal, better known as Peja, had not done much for the area.

Abdul Aziz told online news portal Malaysiakini that he could contribute more to the area’s development moving forward.

“To be honest, I don’t think he has done much on the ground. I can’t see where the allocation to run the constituency is going.

“This is not personal with Peja, just that I am holding a seat close to him (Tebang Tinggi) and have been working in the area, with schools, environmental groups, and so on. I believe there are some areas where I can contribute. It will definitely be a three-cornered fight with Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional,” he was quoted saying.

Aziz is currently a member of DAP following stints with PKR where he contested the 2013 Sabak Bernam seat.

He insisted that DAP was a party that is evolving and that more Malays should join them.

“The party has evolved this way because of the need to champion certain issues which are of no interest to other parties, especially the Malay parties. DAP is making some adjustments, but it’s still happening slowly.

“While I joined the party by coincidence, I consider myself part of the team. Despite what some say, I think it plays a viable role in politics, and more Malays should join,” he reportedly said.

The most heart-warming story to result from the Australian elections 2022


Biloela Tamil asylum seeker family set to return to town after election result

The Nadesalingam family became known as "the Biloela family" as they fought to stay in Australia.(Australian Story: Robert Koenig-Luck)
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Supporters of a central Queensland Tamil asylum seeker family say they are hopeful the family are just weeks away from returning home.

Labor promised during the campaign that if it won the election the Nadesalingam family would be allowed to return home to Biloela.

Family friend Angela Fredericks said there was "so much relief" among the Home2Bilo campaigners after Labor's election win.

"I honestly don't think I can find the words to explain it," Ms Fredericks said.

"There is so much excitement, so much relief and exuberance. It has all been worth it.

"I think at the end of the day we have shown Australia that love, and humanity can win and community can win."

Just over four years ago the Nadesalingam family, also known as the Murugappan family, were removed from their home in Biloela by immigration officials after Priya's visa had expired and Nadesalingam's refugee status claim was rejected by the government.

Priya, Tharnicaa and Kopika video-called friends in Biloela as the election results came in on Saturday night. (Supplied)

Priya and Nades came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 after fleeing worn-torn Sri Lanka and are considered "irregular maritime arrivals" under the Migration Act.

They were granted bridging visas while their cases were assessed and settled in Biloela, where they married and had their first child, Kopika, in 2015. Their second daughter Tharnicaa was born in 2017.

In 2018 they were taken to immigration detention in Melbourne and in August 2019, a late-night injunction stopped the family from being deported from Australia.

Kopika and Tharnicaa watch the election coverage.(Supplied)

They were taken instead to Christmas Island and are now in community detention in Perth.

The family has been fighting a long legal battle to remain in Australia and had a legal win earlier this year when the Federal Circuit Court found the federal government's decision to prevent three members of the family from applying for further bridging visas was "procedurally unfair".

Angela Fredericks has spearheaded the Home to Biloela campaign to support her friends.(Australian Story: Marc Smith)

Ms Fredericks said Priya knew about the election results, but Nades was working overnight and did not.

"Priya is just so excited," she said.

"She said earlier this evening, she was just praying and crying and was putting everything into this.

"For her to know that not only she is safe, but her family is safe, that is all she has ever wanted."

During the campaign, Anthony Albanese said Labor would allow the family to return to Biloela, but the Coalition made no such commitment.

"There is no protection owed," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week.

"They have not been found to be refugees. And so Australia's rules do not permit permanent visas for people who have not been found to be refugees."

Matt Burnett says because of his party's win nationally, the Nadesalingam family will be coming home to Biloela. (ABC Capricornia: Tobi Loftus)

On Saturday night, Labor's (most likely unsuccessful) candidate for Flynn, Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett, used a speech to party faithful to tell them bringing the family back to Biloela was "the most important" move the new government would make.

He said even if Labor did not form majority government, the so-called teal independents also supported the family returning to Biloela.

"We are going to bring the Murugappan family home to Biloela," Mr Burnett said.

Hopeful of return in coming weeks

Ms Fredericks said it would be "a dream come true" if the family were on a plane home next weekend.

"But we understand we have to be patient, for ministers to be signed in," she said.

"Knowing that light that we have been waiting for is right there, we are all at peace."

She said she knew exactly what she would do with the family when they returned to Biloela.

"I have absolutely promised the girls we will be going to the park," Ms Fredericks said.

"That will be one of the priorities. And then honestly, it's going to be a whole lot of hugging, and reconnecting.

"There are a whole lot of people here who have not seen them for four years."


From Dr Kua Kia Soong's FB page:


[Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, 21 May 2022]

When Mahathir pushed the ‘Look East Policy’ in 1982, I critiqued his superficial infatuation with the “Japanese work ethic” that was supposed to be responsible for Japan’s post-war growth. (‘Look East: Models & Myths’, Far Eastern Economic Review 31.3.83) In fact, this stereotypical view of the Japanese company being made up of loyal, hardworking workers and paternalistic benevolent bosses only applied to a few big companies. This was not the case among the vast majority of small and medium sized companies. The main component used by the Japanese companies to buy loyalty was the offer of long-term employment. It is this rather than the mythical Japanese cultural trait that has defined their work ethic.

More fundamentally, I pointed out the geo-political considerations by the US after the war. By 1948, the US was actively working to rejuvenate Japanese industry despite Japan’s dastardly record during World War II. Even the Japanese war criminals who conducted human experiments on the Chinese in Unit 731 were secretly given immunity in exchange for the data gathered to be used in their own biological warfare program. James Bradley’s recent best-seller ‘The China Mirage’ chronicles how the US worked to prop up Japan against the growth of China. In this effort, Washington put up funds for Southeast Asian countries to purchase Japanese exports. Our raw materials also played a key role in Japan’s manufacturing industries. Japan’s “reparations” programme after the war served to pump taxpayers’ money into industry by bringing Japanese exports back into the former Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The expansion of the Vietnam War after 1965 brought military contracts worth millions to “Japan Inc.”

The Japanese government’s control over capital accumulation ensured it had a strong heavy-industry sector which led to its continuing export competitiveness. This concentration of capital had gone hand in hand with monopoly and oligopoly. Thus, erstwhile zaibatsu rivals such as Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Sumimoto were collaborating and coordinating their operations. This was seen in banking, steel, motor vehicles and computers.

Rising wages and rationalisation of Japanese industry meant that labour-intensive industries such as textiles and electronics assembly could be hived off to countries like Malaysia, where supportive leaders such as Mahathir provided lavish incentives to foreign investors. In the Eighties, Japan had the most inequitable tax system among advanced countries and spent least on social services. Also, many Japanese workers, especially blue-collar workers were not unionised at all and if they were, they tended to be in-house unions. I posed the question whether such a model could be appropriate for Malaysia in the light of our New Economic Policy’s objective of eradicating poverty.

Lessons of the last 40 years

Japan's economy was the envy of the world in the 1980s—as at that time it grew at an average annual rate (as measured by GDP) of 3.89%, compared to 3.07% in the United States. In the 1980s, when Japan’s economy was booming — the second largest in the world — many in the United States feared they were about to be overtaken. Does this sound familiar in relation to China’s phenomenal rise? The US media was full of the "Japanning of America" or an "economic Pearl Harbour," and lawmakers warned of a growing trade deficit between the two countries. And what do you know? They complained of Japanese firms stealing US intellectual property and taking advantage of unfair trade deals. In 1989, Trump was on air complaining that Japan had "systematically sucked the blood out of America — sucked the blood out!"

So, the United States started pressuring Japan to open its market up to American companies and reduce the trade imbalance between the countries. The United States, West Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan signed the Plaza Accord, devaluing the US dollar against the Japanese yen and it led to an increase in exports and a lowering of its trade deficit with many Western European countries. Furthermore, in 1987, Washington imposed 100% tariffs on $300 million worth of Japanese imports, effectively blocking them from the American market. And as the yen increased in value, Japanese products became more and more expensive, and countries turned away from the one-time export powerhouse. When Japan's central bank tried to keep the yen's value low, it sparked a stock price bubble which pushed the country into recession.

Thus, from 1991 to 2003 the Japanese economy, as measured by GDP, grew only 1.14% annually, well below that of other industrialized nations. Japan experienced a period of economic stagnation and price deflation known as "Japan's Lost Decade." While the Japanese economy outgrew this period, it did so at a much slower pace than other industrialized nations.

It’s Geopolitics Stupid!

Today, when Japan is no longer the second largest economy, having been overtaken by China, Mahathir is still harking back to his “Look East Policy” of the Eighties. One would think that China’s success in lifting 850 million Chinese out of extreme poverty would have prompted him to urge Malaysians to learn how they did it. In this respect, “Chinese characteristics” or “Asian work ethic” has less to do with this phenomenal feat than the political will, the political system, and the dedication to a socialist cause to serve their people. Isn’t this spirit worth emulating?
And of course, China is not Japan. We saw how Japan was propped up by the US after the Second World War despite their fascist and militarist record in order to keep China down. China has developed into the world’s second largest economy and looks primed to overtake the US within the next ten years. Their infrastructure development and renewable energy commitments already surpass that of the US. The fundamental difference between China and Japan is that China has developed from its socialist revolution in 1949 and is far stronger both economically and politically than Tokyo was in the 1980s. Since 1945, Japan has been dependent on the United States for national security, and it will not dare to be on the wrong side of the US which can only boast close to a thousand military bases throughout the world, most of these surrounding China and Russia. So, will the “Look East Policy” prompt us to be more independent like China or to be a US client state like Japan?

PKR polls: Unofficial results postponed, eight divisions must redo due to miscommunication

PKR polls: Unofficial results postponed, eight divisions must redo due to miscommunication

A man sits in front of a PKR flag painted on a roller shutter in Petaling Jaya June 12, 2019. PKR’s Election Committee (JPP) has revealed that eight divisions in four states will have to redo their elections. - Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — PKR’s Election Committee (JPP) has revealed that eight divisions in four states will have to redo their elections and therefore have to postpone the announcement of the unofficial results tomorrow.

JPP chairperson Zaliha Mustafa told Malaysiakini that five divisions in Kelantan — Ketereh, Bachok, Tumpat as well as Dungun in Terengganu — had to redo their polls due to ‘technical glitches’.

She said the issues stemmed from the party’s Adil application which they are using to update the electoral roll as well as for the party’s elections.

She said that the technical glitches in the two states happened on day one of the party polls.

“We have both online and offline mode in the mobile app, in which the directive given to those on the ground is to apply online when the internet is okay. However, there was some misunderstanding and miscommunication,” she was quoted saying. “In Kedah, we will hold a re-poll in Padang Serai as there were grouses among candidates,” she added.

Last Wednesday it was reported that over 200 complaints related to rule violations during the party polls this year were received.

Then yesterday, the ninth day of the party’s polls, saw tensions rise at the Shah Alam branch which had to be postponed due to infrastructure problems.

Zaliha said there were no elements of sabotage as some party members claimed.

“I haven’t got any report on this yet, but it could be miscommunication. Our coordinators had coordinated with all the divisions in the past weeks to ensure things were done smoothly,” she reportedly said. Zaliha said the re-polling dates have not been decided for Hulu Selangor as other states are still having their elections.

Elections in Selangor — the state with the most PKR members — is set to take place on May 21 while Perak, Sabah and Sarawak will vote on May 22.

Apart from physical voting, online voting will also be held through the ADIL application which will be implemented from May 18 to May 20.

Rising prices could fuel Umno’s push for early GE15, analysts say

Chickens are seen at the Jalan Pudu market in Kuala Lumpur on May 17, 2022. Chicken prices have risen by over 14 per cent, according to the DOSM. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Public unhappiness over steadily rising prices could spur Umno to try even harder for an early general election, according to political analysts.

They said the timing would allow the former ruling party to both deny any responsibility for the country’s cost of living that has skyrocketed since the Covid-19 pandemic and claim it would need a strong mandate in order to address the issue.

According to Senior Fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research Azmi Hassan, Umno could claim that while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was from the party, he was still restricted by having to depend on Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and PAS to maintain his government.

“This narrative is very powerful and effective since the Opposition is at a very low ebb right now,” Azmi told Malay Mail.

“By combining the two narratives of a weak prime minister, rising cost of everything and inability to form policies in government Umno must feel now is the best time to have a general election rather than wait till next year.”

After being voted out in the 2018 general election, Umno and Barisan Nasional have been resurgent and seen success in three recent by-elections including Melaka and Johor that the former ruling coalition won effectively on its own.

This success has emboldened Umno to clamour for a snap general election, based on the belief that it could convince voters to give it a strong mandate to bring back policies they previously enjoyed under decades of BN rule.

However, Azmi said this window of opportunity was closing for Umno and BN, as a further or rapid deterioration of the economy could result in public anger being directed at them as part of the government of the day.

“Whatever the reason is, for Umno it's good for them to go into elections in the coming months, not next year as things are changing fast by next year.

“The economy could be in dire straits and also Opposition can form a consortium themselves,” he added.

Malaysia's Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased moderately by 2.2 per cent to 125.2 in February 2022 from 122.5 in the same month of the preceding year, driven mainly by the increase in food inflation, the Department of Statistics Malaysia revealed in March.

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the increase surpassed the average inflation in Malaysia for the period 2011 to February 2022 of 1.9 per cent.

He said the 3.7 per cent increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages group was largely due to an increase in the component for food at home which increased 4.1 per cent compared to the same month of the preceding year adding that the increase was mainly for raw cooking materials such as chicken (14.2 per cent) and eggs (13.5 per cent).

Already in turmoil since the pandemic, global commodities suffered another major shock this year as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The conflict has severely affected the international wheat market, among others, as both countries are breadbasket nations.

The wheat shortage was exacerbated by India’s decision last week to ban wheat product exports as a result of its own lack of supply and inflation.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said the development meant Umno would have more motivation to seek a snap election once the Memorandum of Understanding on Transformation and Political Stability’s runs out in July.

When asked if rising prices globally would force Umno’s hand on the timing of the election, Fauzi said Umno would have little to gain as a party by waiting longer as this would only give time for the fractured Opposition to recover.

Fauzi also said the Perikatan Nasional government was recent enough that Umno might still be able to blame it for rising prices now, by claiming that the coalition’s ministers failed to act on the Malay nationalist party’s warnings previously.

“For example, (Datuk Seri) Azmin Ali, (Datuk Seri) Mustapa Mohamad and (Datuk Seri) Tengku Zafrul (Abdul Aziz) are non-BN ministers whose portfolios deal in significant ways with the economy. What have they done to alleviate the economic suffering of the man on the street?”

Azmin is the minister of international trade and industry while Mustapa oversees economic affairs as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department; both are from Bersatu. Zafrul, a former banker, is a technocrat minister appointed by Bersatu President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when the latter was the PM.

Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun said Umno would also be eager to maintain its momentum from the Melaka and Johor elections.

Oh said that while Ismail Sabri may prefer to delay the general election to try and consolidate his position, Umno would be wary about giving time for its rival to prepare.

“Nowadays politics are very turbulent, and you never know what will happen even in a few days’ time.

“So, while the Opposition is still weak, why not strike the iron when it is hot, and bend it to your liking?” he added.

Rising food prices have increasingly dominated public discourse as unresolved supply disruptions since the Covid-19 pandemic have led to repeated and painful increases in recent months.

The price hikes along with unreliable sourcing forced Ismail Sabri’s government this week to unexpectedly announce the abolition of approved permits (APs) as a requirement for food imports except for rice.

The government has also hinted at the withdrawal of blanket fuel subsidies for RON95, which is costing billions of ringgit annually to maintain it at the ceiling price of RM2.05/L. Comparatively, the unsubsidised RON97 rose to RM4.33/L this week.

Russia halts gas exports to Finland, says Mariupol steelworks siege has ended

The Edge Markets:

Russia halts gas exports to Finland, says Mariupol steelworks siege has ended

KYIV/OSLO (May 21): Russia claimed victory in a months-long battle for Mariupol's Avostal steel plant, taking it a step nearer to its goal of controlling Ukraine's Donbas region, and halted gas exports to Finland in an escalation of an energy payment dispute with Western nations.

Russia also launched what appeared to be a major assault to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the southeastern Donbas region and where Russian-backed separatists already controlled swathes of territory before the Feb 24 invasion.

The last Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol's smashed Azovstal steelworks surrendered on Friday, Russia's defense ministry said, ending the bloodiest siege of the war.

"The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant ... has been completely liberated," the ministry said in a statement, adding that 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days, including 531 in the final group.

Hours earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine's military had told the last defenders at the steelworks they could get out and save their lives. The Ukrainians did not immediately confirm the figures on Azovstal.

Ukraine's General Staff of Armed Forces did not comment on Russia's claim in its morning update on Saturday.

The end of fighting in Mariupol, the biggest city Russia has captured so far and the main port for the Donbas, gives Russian President Vladimir Putin a rare victory in the invasion after a series of setbacks in nearly three months of fighting.

Putin says Russian troops are engaged in a "special military operation" to demilitarise Ukraine and rid it of radical anti-Russian nationalists. Western countries call it an unprovoked war of aggression.

Victory in Mariupol gives Russia complete control of the Sea of Azov and an unbroken stretch of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The Red Cross said it had registered hundreds of Ukrainians who surrendered at the Mariupol steel plant as prisoners of war and Kyiv says it wants a prisoner swap. Moscow says the prisoners will be treated humanely, but Russian politicians have been quoted as saying some must be tried or even executed.

Thousands of people in Ukraine have been killed and urban areas have been shattered in the war. Almost a third of Ukraine's people have fled their homes, including more than 6 million who have left the country.

Gas dispute

Meanwhile, Russia raised the stakes in an energy dispute with Western countries.

Russia's Gazprom halted gas exports to neighbouring Finland on Saturday after it refused to agree to Russian demands to pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes days after Finland and Sweden decided to apply to join the NATO military alliance, a decision spurred by the Ukraine war.

"Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped," Finnish gas system operator Gasgrid Finland said in a statement on Saturday.

Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum and Gazprom also confirmed the flows had stopped.

Gasum, the Finnish government and individual gas consuming companies in Finland have said they were prepared for a shutdown of Russian flows and that the country will manage without.

Most European supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars and Moscow cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland last month after they refused to comply with the new payment terms.

Offensive in Luhansk

Russia launched what appeared to be a major assault to seize remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Luhansk.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said in a social media post early on Saturday that Russia was trying to destroy the city of Sievierodonetsk, with fighting taking place on the outskirts of the city.

"Shelling continues from morning to the evening and also throughout the night," Gaidai said in a video post on the Telegram messaging app.

Despite losing ground elsewhere in recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced on the Luhansk front. Capturing Luhansk and Donetsk provinces would allow Moscow to claim a victory after announcing on March 25 that the Donbas region was now its focus.

The city of Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets River form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv.

The Russian military also said on Saturday it had destroyed a major consignment of Western arms in Ukraine's Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv, using sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles.

Reuters could not independently verify the report, which also said Russian missiles had struck fuel storage facilities near Odesa on the Black Sea coast and shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft and 14 drones.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

U.S., others walk out of APEC talks over Russia's Ukraine invasion


U.S., others walk out of APEC talks over Russia's Ukraine invasion

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit speaks at the opening ceremony of Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC 2022) in Bangkok, Thailand May 21, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

BANGKOK, May 21 (Reuters) - Representatives of the United States and several other nations walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok on Saturday to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine, officials said.

The walkout was "an expression of disapproval at Russia's illegal war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the APEC region," one diplomat said.

Representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia joined the Americans, led by Trade Representative Katherine Tai, in walking out of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, two Thai officials and two international diplomats told Reuters.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, saying it aimed to demilitarise and "denazify" its neighbour. Ukraine and the West say President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives, sent millions of Ukrainians fleeing and caused economic fallout around the world.

Another diplomat said the five countries that staged the protest wanted "stronger language on Russia's war" in the group's final statement to be issued on Sunday.

"The meeting will not be a failure if (a joint statement) cannot be issued," Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters, adding that the meeting was "progressing well" despite the walk out.

The walkout took place while Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was delivering remarks at the opening of the two-day meeting from the group of 21 economies.

The delegations from five countries that staged the protest returned to the meeting after Reshetnikov finished speaking, a Thai official said.

Aussie PM Morrison concedes, ending nearly a decade of conservative rule

Aussie PM Morrison concedes, ending nearly a decade of conservative rule

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat after an election today and the opposition Labor Party was set to end almost a decade of conservative rule, possibly with the support of pro-environment independents.

Partial results showed Morrison's Liberal-National coalition had been punished by voters in Western Australia and affluent urban seats in particular.

"Tonight, I have spoken to the leader of the opposition and the incoming prime minister, Anthony Albanese. And I've congratulated him on his election victory this evening," Morrison (above) said, stepping down as leader of his party.

Labor had yet to reach 76 of the 151 lower house seats required to form a government alone. Final results could take time as counting a record number of postal votes is completed.

A strong showing by the Greens and a group of so-called "teal independents", who campaigned on policies of integrity, equality and tackling climate change, means the makeup of the new parliament looks set to be much less climate-sceptic than the one that supported Morrison's pro-coal mining administration.

Centre-left Labor had held a decent lead in opinion polls, although recent surveys showed the Liberal-National government narrowing the gap in the final stretch of a six-week campaign.

A Newspoll survey by The Australian newspaper out on election day showed Labor's lead over the ruling coalition dipping a point to 53-47 on a two-party-preferred basis, where votes for unsuccessful candidates are redistributed to the top two contenders.

Turning teal

In at least five affluent Liberal-held seats, so-called "teal independents" looked set to win, tapping voter anger over inaction on climate change after some of the worst floods and fires hit Australia.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it would be "difficult" for him to hold the long-held Liberal seat of Kooyong in Melbourne to an independent newcomer in one of the biggest hits to the government.

Three volunteers working for teal independent Monique Ryan, who was challenging Frydenberg, said they joined Ryan's campaign because they were concerned about the climate for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

"For me, it's like this election actually feels hopeful," Charlotte Forwood, a working mother of three adult children, told Reuters.

Early returns suggested the Greens had also made ground, looking to pick up to three seats in Queensland.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, who retained his inner-city Melbourne seat, said climate was a major issue for voters.

"There was an attempt from Labor and Liberal to bury it, and we were very clear about the need to tackle climate by tackling coal and gas."

Morrison and Albanese earlier cast their votes in Sydney after making whistle-stop tours across marginal seats in the final two days of a campaign dominated by rising living costs, climate change and integrity.

As Labor focused on spiking inflation and sluggish wage growth, Morrison made the country's lowest unemployment in almost half a century the centrepiece of his campaign's final hours.

Hulu Selangor polls postponed for PKR 2022 party election as tension brew in Shah Alam

Hulu Selangor polls postponed for PKR 2022 party election as tension brew in Shah Alam

A PKR supporter dips her finger into the ink prior to casting her vote at the PKR 2022 poll in Shah Alam, May 21, 2022 ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 ― The PKR 2022 party election, which entered its ninth day today, saw tension at the Shah Alam branch in Selangor, as party members voted while polling in the Hulu Selangor branch was postponed.

Selangor Party Election Committee (JPP) coordinator Mazli Saring said the voting process in the Hulu Selangor branch had to be postponed due to the provision of infrastructure such as chairs and tables not being well managed.

“It had to be postponed so that no unwanted problems occur following infrastructure problems. We will discuss with the JPP and related parties before deciding on a new date for voting at the branch,” he told Bernama today.

Meanwhile, the voting process in the Shah Alam branch was a bit tense due to a misunderstanding involving a supporter, who was said to be campaigning in restricted areas.

A check by Bernama at the polling station at Dewan Raja Muda Musa, Seksyen 7 here found a misunderstanding occurred around 10.25 am today, following a supporter who entered the restricted zone to campaign even, though this person was not allowed to be in the area physically.

The Shah Alam branch witnessed a three-cornered clash between state Housing, Urban Wellbeing and Entrepreneur Development Committee chairman Rodziah Ismail; former Kota Anggerik assemblyman Dr Yaacob Sapari and a newcomer, Wan Amierrul Ikhwan Mohd Naser.

Commenting on the matter, Mazli said that the situation was under control and resolved quickly without disrupting the voting process.

He also said that voting in 21 other branches, including Kuala Langat, Kapar, Klang, Sepang and Sungai Buloh went smoothly, with an estimated 20,000 PKR members being out to vote physically today.

Apart from that, the Ampang branch also stole the spotlight in Selangor following the clash between two popular celebrities in the country, namely actor and producer, Datuk Hans Isaac, who was up against rapper-songwriter, Syed Ahmad Syed Abdul Rahman Alhadad, better known as Altimet.

They are both competing for the position of branch chief and the voting process in the branch was also smooth without any provocation.

A total of 93,085 eligible PKR members have voted in the 2022 election so far, including 76,932 who voted online from May 18 until yesterday.

The PKR 2022 election, which saw a total of 11,282 candidates vying for various positions at the central, branch and wing levels, will conclude at the state level tomorrow (May 22) with physical voting in Perak, Sabah and Sarawak. ― Bernama

Palestinian identity and Israel’s long attempt to suppress it

al Jazeera:

Palestinian identity and Israel’s long attempt to suppress it

Israeli attack on funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh and confiscation of Palestinian flags are part of a decades-long pattern.

Family and friends carry the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank [Ammar Awad/Reuters]
By Arwa Ibrahim
Published On 20 May 202220 May 2022

Occupied East Jerusalem – When Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead on May 11 while covering an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp, north of the occupied West Bank, mourners quickly gathered at the family home in occupied East Jerusalem.

As crowds streamed through the door to pay their respects, Abu Akleh’s family adorned the entrance with Palestinian flags and photos of the veteran Al Jazeera journalist.

Friends cranked up nationalist Palestinian songs.

Within hours, Israeli police had turned up at the Abu Akleh home in Beit Hanina demanding that the flags be taken down, the music turned off, and the nationalist chants silenced.

Two days later, similar demands were enforced much more fiercely by Israeli forces.

When thousands of mourners gathered outside St Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem to bid their beloved journalist farewell, dozens of Israeli police attacked the funeral procession with batons and rubber bullets. The police targeted the pallbearers who struggled to keep the coffin, which was draped with a Palestinian flag, from falling to the ground.

Fadi Mtour, one of the pallbearers who held up Shireen Abu Akleh’s coffin, describes the attack by Israeli forces on her funeral procession [Arwa Ibrahim/Al Jazeera]

“They kicked us, hit us with wooden batons, and launched rubber bullets within close range,” said Fadi Mtour, one of the pallbearers who carried Shireen’s coffin that day.

“No matter how hard they beat us, we had to keep that coffin from falling. It became a symbol of our dignity and lives. If Shireen’s casket fell, we would, too,” said Mtour, a 41-year-old Jerusalemite who regularly attends demonstrations.

“There was so much hatred and violence … like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” he said.

The reason for the Israeli aggression at the funeral was the Palestinian flag, and what Abu Akleh represented in terms of Palestinian identity, Mtour explained.

“They [Israeli authorities] are afraid of the Palestinian flag because it represents our identity, the same way that Shireen, her funeral and life did,” said Mtour, whose 18-year-old son was also beaten on the head during the funeral, sustaining an injury that required several stitches.

Members of the Israeli security forces detain a man during the funeral of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem [Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

“They were ready to commit a massacre to bring down the Palestinian flag,” Mtour said, adding that even women and children were beaten for waving the flag.

Israeli media reported that Jerusalem’s police chief had ordered his officers to prevent the waving of the Palestinian flag and to confiscate flags displayed at the funeral.

Continuing suppression

Similar scenes of horror unfolded just days later at the funeral of Walid al-Sharif, a young Palestinian man who finally succumbed to wounds sustained at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound last month.

Again, Israeli police waded through the crowds of mourners, confiscating Palestinian flags and beating people. More than 70 Palestinians were injured, according to Palestinian media reports.

Israeli forces’ confiscation of Palestinian flags has continued despite the Jerusalem Magistrate Court ruling last year that flying the Palestinian flag is not a criminal offence in Israel.

Israeli security forces detain a protester at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 5 [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

The ruling came after a protester was injured and four others were arrested for raising the Palestinian flag during a demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah – a flashpoint at the centre of a decades-long battle between Palestinian families and Israel authorities who have tried to evict Palestinian residents from their homes.

Palestinian activists have regularly reported being targeted when waving Palestinian flags in Jerusalem. They have also witnessed an increase in Israeli efforts to confiscate Palestinian flags and to punish those who attempt to raise them.

“We aren’t allowed to raise the Palestinian flag at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound,” said Ruqaya, a 52-year-old Palestinian woman from the Old City in Jerusalem.

Palestinians raise flags in protest at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

“Those who try, always wrap a keffiyeh around their face to keep their identity hidden,” she said, referring to the black and white checked scarf that is considered another symbol of Palestinian identity.

“Because of the extreme Israeli reaction to waving a flag, Palestinian youth – my sons included – have taken it upon themselves to continue to raise it at every opportunity,” she added.

Ahmad Safadi, a Jerusalemite activist and member of the city’s national and civil action committee, has regularly been targeted for raising the Palestinian flag.

“I’ve been detained, beaten and my [charity and media] organisation has been shut down several times because I keep waving the flag,” Safadi said.

He also insisted on carrying the flag during the funerals of Abu Akleh and al-Sharif, because it is “a symbol of our Palestinian identity and sovereignty”.

“They’ll never stop me,” Safadi said.

“I’ll continue to raise the flag high.”

‘Palestinian colours’

The Israeli attack on Palestinian identity and institutions stretches back two decades, according to Palestinian lawyer and analyst Diana Buttu.

She referenced the funeral of famous Palestinian politician Faisal Husseini in 2001, when “hundreds of thousands of people gathered carrying the Palestinian flag and there were no attacks during the funeral”.

But, shortly after his funeral, things changed.

Israeli authorities shut down the Orient House – the political headquarters of the Palestinian people in East Jerusalem, that was established by Husseini and had become a symbol of Palestinian culture and identity.

Suppression of Palestinian identity has been on the rise since, Buttu said, adding that it reached a peak in 2017 with then-US President Donald Trump’s administration announcing that it would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“That effectively emboldened Israel and we saw the big clampdown on Palestinian identity, flags, and colours,” Buttu said.

Since then, “there’s been an attempt to push Palestinians out and to crush their identity. And Shireen was very much a symbol of Palestinian identity,” she said.

“But all of their attempts simply show how afraid of the flag [and what it represents] they are.”

Padan muka Wimbledon for mixing sports with politics


Wimbledon stripped of ranking points over ban on Russian players

Wimbledon effectively reduced to exhibition event
Men’s ATP tour said it saw ‘no option’ but to act over ban

Wimbledon has been demoted in status by the men’s and women’s tours over its barring of Russian and Belarussian players. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

The ATP and the WTA have decided to penalise Wimbledon for its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament by stripping ranking points from the tournament this year.

The decision marks the most significant split among the tennis governing bodies in a long time. It means that Wimbledon will essentially be rendered an exhibition event in the tennis ecosystem, with players unable to earn the ranking points this year as they do at all other official tournaments. Those who performed well at last year’s edition will be unable to defend their points, meaning there could be significant disruption to the rankings.

“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour,” said the ATP in a statement. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement. Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022.”

In their statements, both the ATP and WTA stressed that by banning Russian and Belarusian players, Wimbledon have breached their rankings agreements: “The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events violate that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the Grand Slam rules, and the agreement the WTA has with the Grand Slams,” said the WTA.

Additionally, the ITF has announced the removal of points from the juniors and wheelchair tournaments at Wimbledon.

Late on Friday night, the All England Club responded to the governing bodies by expressing their “deep disappointment” at the ATP, WTA and ITF’s positions and affirming their own decision: “Given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia’s global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made,” said the All England Club.

In April, Wimbledon announced that they would not allow Russian or Belarusian players to compete at the tournament in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The All England Club cited the possibility of the Russian government using any Russian player’s success as propaganda during the invasion and the British government’s guidelines as reasons for the decision.

With the significant popularity and revenue generated by grand slam tournaments, withholding ranking points is one of the few options the tours have to exert power over Wimbledon. Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to compete elsewhere as neutral athletes and they will be present at the French Open, which begins on Sunday.

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev is the highest profile player unable to compete at Wimbledon. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

The ATP additionally contested Wimbledon’s assertions that their choices were limited by guidance from the UK government: “We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance. However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.”

The Guardian understands that there is a significant split among players over both Wimbledon’s initial decision and the reaction from the tennis governing bodies. While some players have previously registered their discomfort at Wimbledon’s initial decision and the ATP player council recommended the withdrawal of ranking points, over 90 players have opposed the points deduction, with some writing to the tours and criticising the player councils for not representing their views.

Despite the LTA’s decision to follow Wimbledon’s lead by refusing entry to players in the ATP and WTA lead-up events, both tours have also opted to maintain points at the British warm-up tournaments. However, the LTA and its tournaments will face disciplinary action from the WTA.

Aleksandr Dolgopolov, a recently retired Ukrainian player who returned to Ukraine in order to enlist in the army, criticised the decisions of the tennis governing bodies on social media: “Well done @atptour and @WTA, you made the N1 propagandist of russia happy by taking away points from Wimbledon. Probably will make it all over the rest of russian propaganda. Very poor decision. Can’t sit on 2 chairs,” he said.

While the possibility of Russian and Belarusian players initiating legal action against Wimbledon has been a point of discussion, Daniil Medvedev, the Russian ATP No 2 and highest profile player unable to compete at Wimbledon, gave his perspective towards the ban during his press conference on Friday: “[It’s] not me taking these decisions, if I can’t play, I’m not going to go to court for this one.”

Gunung Suku water surge incident: Body of missing hiker found after a week

Gunung Suku water surge incident: Body of missing hiker found after a week

It was reported that since Monday, members of the SAR team had found body parts believed to belong to one of the two hikers. — Bernama file pic

IPOH, May 21 — The body of one of the two female hikers washed away by a water surge in Gunung Suku, Simpang Pulai here last Sunday was found today, the seventh day of the search and rescue operation (SAR) launched after the incident.

Perak Fire and Rescue Department assistant director of operations Muhamad Shahrizal Aris said the body was found intact but with head and body injuries.

“The body of a woman was found under a pile of debris in Sector C (tunnel area near Jalan Besar) at 11.20 am before it was handed over to police at 11.55 am.

“The search operation, involving 43 rescuers from various agencies with the assistance of the Canine Unit (K9), resumed at 9 am today and ended at 1 pm,” he said in a statement.

It was reported that since Monday, the SAR team had found body parts believed to belong to one of the two hikers, See Su Yen, 32, from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, and Ng Yee Chew, 46, from Klang, Selangor, who were carried away by strong currents in the 5 am incident. — Bernama

Dress code in line with Rukun Negara, Cuepacs tells DAP MP

Dress code in line with Rukun Negara, Cuepacs tells DAP MP

Adnan Mat reminded Ngeh Koo Ham that asking people to be decently attired when visiting government offices is a reasonable request.

PETALING JAYA: Cuepacs today took offence with Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham’s comment about the strict dress code imposed at government offices, saying such a requirement is in line with the Rukun Negara.

The umbrella body for civil service unions said asking people to be decently attired when visiting government offices is a reasonable request which no political party should politicise.

Cuepacs president Adnan Mat urged Ngeh and others not to play up the issue when Malaysians were generally able to dress up decently when in government offices, with a few exceptions.

“Here, it is unfair for him (Ngeh) to give an example of a farmer wearing shorts, Orang Asli in their traditional attire or the poor who do not have enough money to buy decent clothing in questioning the rule.

“We are confident that Malaysians accept the standard dressing etiquette and would not go against it on purpose.

“The examples given by Ngeh have insulted the groups he has mentioned as they are all ‘cultured people’,” he said in a statement today.

At the same time, Adnan said civil servants should also use their discretion to assess the situation before denying anyone services for reasons such as this.

Yesterday, Ngeh urged the government to act against department heads for denying service to the public who needed their service due to the strict dress code.

He claimed there are no laws giving powers to government officers to prescribe attire for those seeking services at government offices.

Government offices typically ban open-toed footwear, T-shirts and “revealing” outfits, with recent reports showing people being turned away for not meeting the dress code.

Putrajaya to notify 168 nations on claims by Sulu sultan’s heirs

Putrajaya to notify 168 nations on claims by Sulu sultan’s heirs

Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Malaysia had applied to strike out the final award to the Sulu sultan’s heirs and was now waiting for a decision of the French courts soon.

KUANTAN: Malaysia will be sending diplomatic notes to 168 countries that signed the New York Convention as an early notification on a possible unilateral legal claim by the heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II or arbitrator Dr Gondoza Stampa over the “final award” to the descendants of the Sulu sultan.

Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the proactive move was taken so that these 168 countries were aware of the unilateral claim, apart from hoping that the countries involved would inform Malaysia if such applications were filed in their countries.

Overall, 169 countries signed the New York Convention. However, the Paris Arbitration Court in France had earlier made the decision that Malaysia must pay compensation of US$14.92 billion (RM62.59 billion) to the party claiming to be the heirs of the Sulu sultan.

“The foreign ministry will be sending notices to the foreign ministries of 168 countries as Stampa had made the final award in France.

“We do not know if they (Stampa and the Sulu sultan heirs) would stop in France or go to other countries after this with the same claim.

“We have applied to strike out the final award and we are now waiting for a decision of the French courts soon,” he told a media conference after the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Indera Mahkota parliamentary constituency Hari Raya event here today.

The government of Malaysia does not recognise claims made by parties of the alleged heirs of Sulu sultan and has rejected the final award issued by Stampa or allegations of violating the 1878 Agreement between the Sulu sultan with Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, in which the Sulu sultan had handed over perpetually his territories in North Borneo, now Sabah.

In return, the Sulu sultan and his heirs would be given a cession payment of RM5,300 a year.

However, following the armed attack in Lahad Datu, the payment was stopped in 2013.

Touching on the matter, Saifuddin who is also Indera Mahkota MP, said he met Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor yesterday and informed him of the federal government’s action to fight the claim of the heirs of Sulu Sultan and both sides agreed to meet more frequently to launch the effort.

Apart from the heirs of the Sulu sultan’s claim, Saifuddin said he and Hajiji also agreed that an official representative from Sabah would be involved in the General Border Committee of Malaysia-Indonesia, which involved maritime and land borders.

So what, just 2 out 4 😂😁😅😆😊

Report: Individual close to Rosmah wants MCMC to probe viral photo of Najib with woman

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has confirmed the report to investigate a photo including Datuk Seri Najib Razak. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — A report has been lodged with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to investigate the viral photo of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which saw a woman clutching his arm together with several children at a celebration event.

Utusan Malaysia wrote that the individual who wanted to remain anonymous, wanted an investigation of the photo to decide whether it has been edited, whether the accompanying information provided was false, and for legal action to be taken if the viral information was false.

"I have shown the photo and captions to Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and they were both shocked and said it was not true, before asking me to make a report to MCMC for further action.

"I’m making this report on their behalf, and asking for action to be taken once it can be proven that the photo and its caption are fakes,” he told Utusan Malaysia.

The report was allegedly made by an individual close to the disgraced former prime minister and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor at the MCMC headquarters in Cyberjaya, Selangor yesterday.

The photo, showing Najib, with a woman clutching his arm and surrounded by four young adults, with all of them dressed in green posing in front of a cake has been spreading on social media with captions alleging Najib has married again.

The woman is said to be Hashimah Ramli, 53, the ex-wife of composer Fauzi Marzuki who has since been reported to refuse to comment on the allegation.

Utusan Malaysia said that an MCMC spokesman has confirmed that it received the report.

Muafakat already on its last breath, Umno's Zahid says of pact with PAS

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says Umno will finally decide on ending its alliance with PAS. — Picture by Devan Manuel

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — Umno has reportedly described its relationship with its political enemy-turned ally PAS in Muafakat Nasional (MN) as "barely alive.”

Its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted by Sinar Harian saying that the party will soon discuss its alliance with the Islamist party at the committee level soon.

"We will then discuss the results of our meetings between us and come to a decision,” he told reporters at the Sungai Besar Umno Hari Raya celebration yesterday.

The Umno-PAS collaboration came to be after the 2018 elections when the Barisan Nasional government was toppled for the first time. Its main aim was to politically unite the majority Malay-Muslims.

Earlier this month, Zahid said the cooperation between Umno and PAS will be set aside during the 15th general election.

The Barisan Nasional chairman said this was due to the party having given enough space to PAS to agree on the matters contained in the MN charter, but it never materialised.

In reply to Zahid then, PAS said it is still willing to keep the alliance alive, saying the Muslim unity agenda is much more important than political survival.

MN was formed to initially contest against Bersatu who were the predominant Malay party that was previously with the PH government, before the Sheraton Move in 2020.

The political manoeuvring, led by Bersatu president and former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, resulted in the party defecting from PH to form and lead the then ruling PN coalition with PAS and Umno.

However, of late Umno and PAS have traded barbs and campaigned openly against each other in the run-up to the recent Melaka and Johor state elections despite both being in the federal government.

Kit Siang: I expected desperados to twist my statement, not an ex-PM

Kit Siang: I expected desperados to twist my statement, not an ex-PM

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang slammed former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak for what he described as an attempt to twist his words.

This was after Lim (above, left) made a reference to incidents of angry protestors setting fire to the homes of ministers in Sri Lanka and warned that Malaysia should not go down the same path.

This prompted Najib (above, right) and others to call on the police to investigate Lim for sedition and incitement.

"I had expected political desperados and opportunists, through their propagandists and cybertroopers, to twist and distort the meaning and purpose of my statement as one of incitement, but I had not expected a former prime minister to head the charge," he said.

Lim maintained he had no intention to incite Malaysians.

"I have already explained that I had no intention to incite any unrest in Malaysia but to warn of the dangers of allowing the political and socio-economic conditions in Malaysia to deteriorate as happened in Sri Lanka for over half a century as to become a failed state," he said in a statement.

Lim noted that in his previous statement, for which he is being accused of incitement, he said what is happening in Sri Lanka won't happen in Malaysia today but asked if it could happen in the future if Malaysia followed Sri Lanka's decline as a jewel of development.

"For the last half a century from 1970 to 2020, whether in terms of GDP growth or per capita GDP growth, Malaysia lost out to South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, and China, but Sri Lanka had done worse," he said.

Political comebacks

Lim also made reference to the recent election in the Phillippines where Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of a kleptocrat, won in a landslide.

Lim said there are attempts to paint Najib's era from 2009 to 2018 as a golden era of development and progress but he pointed out that during this time, Sri Lanka grew faster than Malaysia.

However, during the same period, Sri Lanka took on a large amount of debt and yesterday defa
ulted on its debt payment for the first time in history.

A bus was set on fire at the top of the road to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's residence during a protest against him as many parts of the country faced up to 13 hours without electricity due to a shortage of foreign currency to import fuel, in Colombo, Sri Lanka (March 31, 2022)

Violent protests against the Sri Lankan government erupted this month after a chronic foreign exchange shortage led to rampant inflation and shortages of medicine, fuel, and other essentials.

In the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, protesters burned down homes belonging to dozens of politicians, including the family home of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Mahinda tendered his resignation as prime minister on May 9.

"The travails of the Philippines and Sri Lanka should be followed closely by the people of Malaysia if we are to learn from the lessons of the Philippines or Sri Lanka to become a world-class great nation by Malaysia’s Centennial whether in 2057 or 2063," Lim said.