Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia agree on increased security in the Sulu Sea

May 29, 2016


By Philippine Inquirer

THE DEFENSE ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to step up collaborative efforts against rising criminality, piracy, kidnapping and smuggling in the Sulu Sea.
The Philippines’ Voltaire Gazmin, Malaysia’s Hishammuddin Hussein and Indonesia’s Ryamizard Ryacudu made the deal on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Defense Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos.
Of crucial importance is the area of the Sulu Sea, which is a common border to all three countries.
The Sulu Sea is a popular shipping route for cargo and passenger ships, with some vessels falling prey to piracy and kidnapping, while others use the route for smuggling.

During their informal meeting in Laos last week, the three defense ministers agreed to pursue joint training exercises.
Ryacudu suggested joint exercises be conducted at least twice a year. Gazmin noted, however, that the Philippines did not have a status of visiting forces agreement with both countries.
Because of this, the Philippines may only conduct joint exercises in the high seas and not within the country’s territorial waters.
The three defense officials also agreed to use existing platforms in undertaking joint patrols, as the Philippines regularly conducts coordinated patrols with Indonesia while the Philippines has an antismuggling agreement with Malaysia.
The coordinated patrol is in accordance with the Joint Declaration on Immediate Measures in the Maritime Areas of Common Concern which was signed by the three countries’ foreign ministers and military chiefs on May 5.
“A framework and subsequently a standard operating procedure are currently being crafted among the respective technical level officers,” the Department of National Defense said in a statement.
The three defense ministers also agreed to ensure the timely sharing of relevant information, ordering their intelligence units to be more open in sharing databases on criminals.
Indonesia, through Ryacudu, also proposed to establish joint posts of coordination within the three countries’ borders.
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Philippines President Elect Duterte Will Duterte Declare a traffic crisis and a crime crisis — Philippine Army needs two additional divisions — Wants China to give back Scarborough Shoal

May 29, 2016
Duterte says he wants to raise two more divisions for the Philippine Army

– See more at:

Alexis Romero – May 29, 2016 – 7:45pm

DAVAO CITY – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he would declare a “crisis” in transportation and criminality to address the longstanding problems plaguing commuters and citizens who are wary of their safety.

Duterte said a crisis has to be declared as the government is trying to fight the problems “on so many fronts” despite limited resources.

“I have to declare a crisis in the war against crime and also on the part of commuters, trains and all. I have a crisis there,” the next Philippine leader said.

“My crisis begins with EDSA. The other crisis is there are a lot of drugs and we’re fighting them on so many fronts,” he added.

To solve the country’s transportation woes, Duterte said he would build a railway system connecting Manila to Nueva Vizcaya. Railway systems would also be installed in Sorsogon, Batangas and the whole of Mindanao.

“My first big project is the establishment of a railway for the Philippines. Some are ready to help but we will ask what the payback is,” Duterte said.

“It has to involve another country. We do not have money. I’ll tell you frankly, we do not have the money for it,” he added.

When asked if the project would be undertaken with China, Duterte replied: “Maybe China.”

Duterte, however, clarified that he would not set aside the Philippines’ territorial rights in the South China Sea because of the project. China is claiming about 90 percent of the resource-rich South China Sea while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

“Just because you’re building me the railway doesn’t mean that I am abandoning the Scarborough Shoal. I told you that is ours, you have no right to be there. And I said whether you believe it or not, that (it) would be the predicate of any further discussions about that territory,” the incoming president said.

“It involves the principle of the law of nations which says you have the exclusive right to develop and make use of your exclusive economic zone,” he added.

“If there is arbitration, we expect China to follow.”

The government has been criticized for its failure to address traffic jams in Metro Manila and the sorry state of the country’s train systems. Passengers also experience train breakdowns and flight delays, problems that affect productivity.

More security forces needed

Duterte also said he plans to strengthen the police and the armed forces but declined to provide specifics.

“As to how I will use them (to solve the problem), I will keep it to myself for now. In the meantime, just wait for further developments,” he added.

Duterte, nevertheless, revealed that he is planning to add two more divisions to the Army and to increase the police force by 3,000 officers. A typical military division has 10,000 to 20,000 soldiers.

“I do not expect a war with anybody. But I said I should know that we would need another two divisions. Some military guys are not in agreement. But I need two divisions and 3,000 policemen. I have a task for them to do, which I will not tell you (media), because you love to gossip,” he said in jest.

Duterte, who anchored his campaign on fighting crime and illegal drugs, also vowed to ensure that law enforcers would use their intelligence funds properly.

“We’re half the year already and if I see that you have only used one fourth of your intelligence fund because you’re sparing and very frugal, you are not working,” Duterte said.

“What I want is if you have, say, P100 million for the year this year, at the end of the year, that P100 million should have been spent and you have (an output),” he added.

“Show me that you did not waste the intelligence funds…Give me (an output). It need not be cold bodies.”

– See more at:

Malaysian minister to meet PM Najib over BN’s stance on hudud law

May 29, 2016


“I will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the Bill and explain the stand of the MCA members on the matter, and I am certain the Prime Minister too wants to hear the views of the other component parties,” says Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

KUALA LUMPUR: Transport Minister and Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Liow Tiong Lai said he would meet with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the near future to get the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) stand on the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016.

He said the Bill, which was tabled by PAS president Hadi Awang at the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday, had caused confusion among the Chinese community which had regarded the Bill as the “hudud law”.

“I will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the Bill and explain the stand of the MCA members on the matter, and I am certain the Prime Minister too wants to hear the views of the other component parties,” Liow said.

Malaysia practices a dual-track legal system, where certain cases involving Muslims, such as family disputes, are dealt with by Islamic courts. However, Hadi’s bill could empower shariah courts to dole out punishments under Islamic law such as stoning and amputations for criminal cases which currently fall under the secular Penal Code.


He said this to reporters after opening the Annual General Meeting of the Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Berhad (Kojadi) at Wisma MCA, here on Sunday.

Earlier, in conjunction with the Kojadi general meeting, Liow announced that the government had approved an additional loan of RM50 million to Kojadi for the development of small and medium industries (SMIs) in the country.

“Beginning next week, SMI entrepreneurs could apply for the loan, which we accept for a period of one year,” he said.

Liow also announced that Kojadi was applying to the government to turn it into a cooperative bank. “We will obtain a cooperative banking licence to assist the cooperative members who are young entrepreneurs in carrying out their business, besides stimulating our national economy,” he added.

Mediterranean: Dozens of children drown as shipwrecks claim 700 lives, survivors say

May 29, 2016


A woman rescued at sea receives medical assistance as the Italian Navy ship “Vega” arrives with more than 600 migrants and refugees on May 29, 2016 in the port of Reggio Calabria, southern Italy. PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) – A week of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean culminated on Sunday (May 29) with 700 migrants feared dead and survivors giving harrowing testimony of dozens of small children drowned.

Survivors brought to safety in the Italian ports of Taranto and Pozzallo told the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and Save the Children how their boat sank on Thursday morning after a high-seas drama which saw one woman decapitated.

“We’ll never know the exact number, we’ll never know their identities,” said the UNHCR’s spokeswoman Carlotta Sami. But multiple witness reports suggested over 500 people had drowned in that shipwreck alone.

With some 100 others missing after a boat sank Wednesday, and 45 bodies recovered from a wreck that happened Friday, the UNHCR said it feared up to 700 people had drowned in total this week.

Giovanna Di Benedetto, Save the Children’s Sicily spokeswoman, told AFP that survivors of Thursday’s wreck said around 1,100 people had set out from Libya on Wednesday in two fishing boats and a dinghy, before running into trouble.

 Migrants are disembarked from the Italian navy ship Vega in the Sicilian harbor of Augusta. Reuters photo

“The first boat, carrying some 500 people, was reportedly towing the second, which was carrying another 500. But the second boat began to sink. Some people tried to swim to the first boat, others held onto the rope linking the vessels,” she said.

According to the survivors, the first boat’s Sudanese captain cut the rope, which snapped back and decapitated a woman. The second boat quickly sank, taking those packed tightly into the hold down with it.

The Sudanese captain was arrested on his arrival in Pozzallo along with three other suspected people traffickers.

“We tried everything to stop the water, to bail it out of the boat,” a Nigerian girl told cultural mediators, according to La Stampa daily.

“We used our hands, plastic glasses. For two hours we fought against the water but it was useless. It began to flood the boat, and those below deck had no chance. Woman, men, children, many children, were trapped, and drowned,” she said.

Pope Francis holds a life jacket which was donated to him by a migrants

The Pope met children at the Vatican on Saturday, telling them that migrants “aren’t a danger, but are in danger. AP

Those who survived told mediators the dead included “around 40 children, including many newborns”, La Repubblica daily said.

“I saw my mother and 11-year old sister die,” Kidane from Eritrea, 13, told the aid organisations. “There were bodies everywhere.”

A bout of good weather as summer arrives has kicked off a fresh stream of boats attempting to make the perilous crossing from Libya to Italy.

Italian news agency Ansa said more than 15 boats had been setting off every day for the past five days.

Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Europe needed “a quick agreement with Libya and African countries” to halt the crisis.

The chaos in the Libya since the fall in 2011 of late dictator Moamer Kadhafi has been exploited by people traffickers.

Migrants interviewed by La Repubblica in Sicily told the newspaper a new “head trafficker” called Osama had taken control of departures from Libya’s beaches and was offering “cut-price” deals of 400 euros for the boat journey to lure in new customers.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) doctor Paola Mazzoni warned that “the number of women arriving pregnant or with newborns appears to be on the rise, with many saying they have been raped in Libya”.

As newly arrived migrants docked in the port of Palermo, including a pregnant minor who said she had been raped, MSF mediator Ahmad Al Rousan said: “Violence is growing in Libya – we see it in the marks left on these boys and girls.”

Many of the recent arrivals, largely Eritreans and Somalians, said they had balked at the idea of boarding the rickety vessels and dinghies once they saw them, but were forced on in Libya at gunpoint.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in an interview with the Repubblica on Sunday that Italy’s “migration compact” idea was “the best proposal so far” for stopping the boat crossings and preventing deaths.

Italy wants to persuade African countries to help close migrant routes to Europe and take back some of those arriving via Libya in exchange for increased aid and investment.

Germany has made it clear, however, that it is against one of the elements of Italy’s plan: the issuing of EU-Africa bonds to finance it.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said Sunday that “actions of solidarity and reception coordinated across the world” were needed, as well as “credible policies on activating legal channels for migration and repatriation”.

Opening a business bank account in Hong Kong will put you in a morass that pushes away new young entrepreneurs

May 29, 2016

Global regulatory overkill is forcing banks to refuse accounts to start-ups and young entrepreneurs – a problem that needs solving soon before it hurts the city’s economy

By David Dodwell
South China Morning Post

Sunday May 29, 2016


On Wednesday this week, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology will hold its sixth annual One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition – a platform for young aspiring entrepreneurs linked to the university to create and evaluate new businesses and to prepare to start an entrepreneural future.

The contest is one of many being spawned in Hong Kong at present, to stimulate enterprise, and encourage start-ups. First prize will be HK$300,000, with numerous other awards to be collected.

The competition underscores massive efforts on the part of the Hong Kong government, and organisations like InvestHK, to encourage new businesses, to demonstrate the city’s value as a “Global Superconnector”, and to underscore Hong Kong’s claim to be the number one business city in Asia.

But behind these laudable efforts, a peculiarly silent secret awaits the aspiring start-up, or the winner of the UST’s competition: even if you succeed in setting up your company, or celebrate the receipt of the HK$300,000 winner’s cheque, the current likelihood is that you will be unable to deposit the cash in a bank account, because you can’t open one.

The silent, smothered reality is that as far as start-ups are concerned, most of Hong Kong’s leading banks are closed for business. Opening a new bank account may not quite be impossible, but the information requirements now being demanded of companies or individuals wanting to open new business accounts in Hong Kong are so complex and onerous that in reality their doors are locked and barred.

On InvestHK’s user-friendly website, the “Why Hong Kong?” section succinctly lists the various forms of government support for new companies, the value of Hong Kong’s strategic business location, our low and simple tax regime, our international transparency and efficiency, and our world class business infrastructure. It then points you in the “Setting up your company” section to how to incorporate, and how to register your business, and then bumps into the matter of setting up company bank accounts.

 HKUST prize money is all well and good, but start-ups will have trouble depositing the money into a local bank. Photo: Oliver Tsang

Then the rub: “Hong Kong’s anti-money laundering guidelines, Know Your Customer, mean that banks may request identity and residence information for all beneficial owners of the company before they will open an account.” And that is not the half of it.

The reality seems to be that the recent global regulatory overkill defined by Dodd-Frank and other legislation in the US and elsewhere is forcing banks sheepishly to refuse accounts to even long-standing and trusted clients. Shell-shocked by the US$200 billion in fines imposed on financial institutions since 2008, and the ongoing fear of regulatory witch hunts that might arise if you fail to “know your customer”, banks are finding the cost of achieving regulatory “comfort” too burdensome and onerous to achieve for all but the most globally established enterprises.

One good friend, chairman of a leading Hong Kong property company, complained that he recently sought to open a personal bank account with Hang Seng Bank. As a Hong Kong Jockey Club member, he has carried a Hang Seng card for decades, but he fell at the first fence.

To get a personal card, among many other documents proving his existence, he had to produce numerous utilities statements, but unfortunately these were in his wife’s name. The only way to resolve this was to bring a letter from his wife acknowledging him as her husband, and an original marriage certificate. At this point he turned and left.

 Mainland banks do not share the same fear of US regulatory overreach. Photo: Nora Tam

Another colleague at the Hong Kong General Chamber, a leading local forensic accountant, sought to open a new small company account with Standard Chartered Bank. Even with all standard information – proof of address, tax returns, utilities statements and other letters of recommendation – his application was rejected.

How did this forensic fellow solve the problem? On advice from similarly frustrated friends, he walked into the Bank of China. It seems our mainland banks do not share the same reverential fear of Dodd-Frank and US regulatory overreach. He opened an account within the day. So it seems Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs are not wholly shut out from the banking system, but only if they are willing to bank with mainland Chinese banks.

Fearing that my concerns were “small sample generalisations” – anecdotal insights not reflecting the wider reality, I pressed senior colleagues last week from our two leading banks on what was going on.

The sheepish response from both was revealing: Hong Kong may be in overdrive in attracting start-ups to establish in Hong Kong, and encouraging micro enterprise entrepreneurs to establish here in Asia’s “Global superconductor”, but opening a bank account was an altogether different and more challenging matter.

As far as start-ups are concerned, most of Hong Kong’s leading banks are closed for business

There followed long and convoluted requests for sympathy over the formidable regulatory complexities they now face when approached to open new bank accounts.

My response at the time was simple: for me, this creates a massive crisis for an economy like Hong Kong that wants to act as connector between businesses in the west, and those in Asia. What is the use of selling ourselves as “global superconductor” if we then deny an aspiring new market entrant a bank account?

I did not want to hear from these banking colleagues a long list of reasons why the post-2008 regulatory environment has become so difficult. I wanted an acknowledgement that there was a major problem here, and some sign that they were seeking ways to sort it out.

Instead, we seem to be muffled under an embarrassed conspiracy of silence to admit that Hong Kong is ill-placed to deliver on its “Global superconductor” promises.

It seems many business chambers in Hong Kong – including the French, Spanish and British but perhaps more – have begun to raise alarms with government. But from my perhaps ignorant vantage point, this is a problem of crisis proportions that needs loud, public attention.

I want our bankers not to offer sheepish apologies. I want suggestions for resolving a challenge that if unattended could profoundly hurt our economy. I want leadership on this from the government, and in particular from our own regulators. And soon.

After all, I might just want to open a new bank account myself soon, and I don’t necessarily want it to be a mainland one.

David Dodwell is Executive Director of the Hong Kong-APEC Trade Policy Group

Russia’s draft constitution: End of Syria’s Baath era?

May 29, 2016

The makeshift constitution is the latest effort to model post-conflict Syria in the Russian vision.

One of Russia’s major successes was in reshaping the political debate about the Syrian conflict in a way that was more palatable to the West [EPA]

Last Tuesday, Lebanese daily newspaper, Al-Akhbar, reported that Russia had finished drafting a constitution for Syria that would remove many of the Syrian president’s powers and set up a more decentralised government, both possible concessions to rebel groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the Al-Akhbar report, the new constitution, done with the blessing of the United States, would be put to referendum before the end of the year. This would put the countries on pace to meet their self-imposed deadline to draft a Syrian constitution by August 2016.

The Syrian presidency quickly dismissed the report, describing it as “untrue”.

“No draft constitution has been shown to the Syrian Arab Republic. Everything which has been said in the media about this subject is totally untrue,” a statement on the Syrian Presidency’s official Facebook page said.

Syria’s Civil War Explained

Barely six weeks after their military intervention began, Russian officials put forth an eight-point plan called: “Approach to the Settlement of the Syrian Crisis” that provided the basic contours of Russia’s vision for ending the conflict.

This vision was rather narrow, however, as the first five points dealt specifically with the fight against the Islamic State group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), and the remaining three carried vague commitments to a political process carried out under international auspices.

For most observers, the plan represented little more than the fulfilment of the regime’s wish-list and carried with it no substantive political concessions.


This was certainly true. Russia was unlikely to demand or receive concessions from the regime after it had so dramatically tipped the military balance. The plan was the political correlate to Russia’s military intervention.

One of its major successes was in reshaping the political debate about the Syrian conflict in a way that was more palatable to the West by linking the fight against ISIL with a political transition process.

Bereft of any real political commitment to ending the Syrian conflict, the United States and its allies were more or less content to adopt the Russian vision embodied in the plan.

Last January, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Syria needed to start working on a new constitution as a first step to finding a political solution to its civil war. “I believe it’s necessary to move towards constitutional reform [in Syria]. It’s a complicated process, of course. And after that, on the basis of the new constitution, [Syria should] hold early presidential and parliamentary elections,” Putin told Bild, the German newspaper.

The drafting of a makeshift Syrian constitution – to be debated and deliberated on with the United States – is thus a continuation of these efforts to model post-conflict Syria in the Russian vision in the aftermath of its military intervention.

This vision was set forth in Russia’s initial plan and reinforced by the military intervention that made a political process feasible and desirable. What distinguishes the Russian-led process from previous peace attempts is that this actually has the support of the United States, the United Nations, and a host of other countries.

What is most unfortunate is that the deliberation over the constitution will take place outside of Syria, among non-Syrians, and to the long-term, generational detriment of Syria and its people’s right to determine their future.

The leaks suggest that the constitution provides greater substance to this vision than the eight-point plan. The most substantive changes concern the division of powers between the presidency and the Council of Ministers, and between central and local authorities.

Decentralisation is one of the key features of the draft constitution, which also lays out provisions for enhancing the authority and decision-making capacity of the newly reconstituted People’s Assembly.

The specific provisions, however, do not dramatically undermine the power of the presidency. Instead, presidential power is merely reshuffled. For example, the appointment of key economic and judicial positions would fall under the responsibility of the Council of Ministers, itself a body appointed by the president.

READ MORE: Syria’s future shaped by Russian designs

More importantly, the president would retain oversight and control of the military and security apparatus. The division of political power may ultimately be cosmetic, with the main levers of political and security power remaining concentrated in the Presidency, with only certain responsibilities devolved to other political bodies.

To be sure, there are indeed very substantive changes proposed in the draft constitution, including the removal of Baathist-era ideational and ideological references, such as Syria’s Arab identity and its commitment to socialism and Arab unity.

Ethnic and sectarian representation quotas would dramatically alter the composition of Syria’s political institutions and would effectively consecrate sectarianism, much like in Lebanon and Iraq, as the dominant pole around which politics occurs.

The draft constitution also commits Syria to a neoliberal economic model and enshrines the state’s subservience to private capital interests.


The specificity of the constitutional draft on issues of national identity, ethnic and sectarian representation, division of political powers, and the commitment to neoliberalism are an indication that the Russian vision for Syria in the aftermath of its military intervention has fully materialised and is being consecrated in an internationally sanctioned political process.

There is very little pretension at this point that the political solution to the conflict lies outside of the country. This reality will not make swallowing the pill any easier, however.

The glimpse into Syria’s future that the draft constitution provides is one moulded out of the will and interests of the Syrian regime and its allies.

There are very few indications that the constitution itself will disincentivise violence, or, more importantly, create the basis for a post-conflict political system that enjoys the support of and legitimacy by Syrians.

The vision of Syria embodied in the draft constitution is not one borne out of internal deliberation, but through international fiat.

Indeed, it is a vision so far removed from even the most pedestrian political demands made by Syrians for political change.

Source: Al Jazeera

David Cameron facing Tory leadership coup as Nadine Dorries calls for him to go live on TV

May 29, 2016




COMMENT: By calling the EU referendum, David Cameron put himself on a one-way road to his retirement

John McTernan, the former political adviser to Tony Blair, has penned this piece for The Telegraph about how David Cameron’s decision to call an EU referendum has impacted his leadership. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech campaigning to stay in the EU at Luton Airport

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech campaigning to stay in the EU at Luton Airport Credit: EPA/ANDY RAIN/EPA/ANDY RAIN

‘I know what’s going on. I’m going on.” That was how Harold Wilson responded when asked about plots against him. And he did. He led the Labour Party for thirteen years – an unimaginable time now – and won four of five General Elections, being kept in place even after unexpectedly losing in 1970 to Ted Heath.

What did Wilson do right? For one thing, he expertly manoeuvred his way through the clashing factions of the post-war Labour Party – unafraid, where necessary, to play them off against each other expertly. For another, he had a tight and talented top team – figures like Joes Haines and Bernard Donoghue were the best in their generation. But most of all, Wilson never for a second gave an indication of when he was going to step down as leader – and when he finally did it was a complete surprise. Wilson controlled his future as party leader by controlling the knowledge of the date on which it would end.

The lesson of Wilson has not been learned by his successors. Jim Callaghan and Gordon Brown were dismissed by the voters before the question of when they were standing down ever crystallised. Margaret Thatcher said she would go “on and on” but that was after her overwhelming third election victory which made a Labour return to power at the next election highly unlikely – and, as it proved, impossible.

It was only after the Poll Tax that those words started to hurt her. Tony Blair, after his third election victory, was forced to define a leaving date by plots and rebellions fomented by Brown – a win for Brown that proved to be its own punishment.

Read on here.


Former Boris aide: £350m figure shouldn’t be used

Gerald Lyons, who was Boris Johnson’s chief economic adviser while London mayor, has criticised the use of the Out campaign’s ‘£350m a week given to Brussels’ claim.


Ukip criticised for using The Great Escape music on campaign bus

Ukip has been blasted for “nativism and thinly disguised bigotry” after using The Great Escape music on the Brexit campaign bus, it has been reported.Elmer Bernstein’s inspiring theme tune has apparently been used by Vote Leave on their tour of Britain ahead of the EU referendum on June 23.

The sons of the late composer, Peter and Greg Bernstein, said their father would never have given his permission, according to The Observer.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage at the launch of the party's open top campaign bus

Ukip leader Nigel Farage at the launch of the party’s open top campaign bus  Credit: STEVE FINN/STEVE FINN
“Our father would never have allowed Ukip to use his music because he would have strongly opposed the party’s nativism and thinly disguised bigotry,” they said in a statement sent to the newspaper.”He would surely say that The Great Escape celebrated those who bravely saved Europe from a horrifically racist, nativist and violent regime,” they added.

“He would hardly see Ukip as either a worthy successor of that cause or embodying the spirit of those who liberated Europe from oppression and hatred.”


Odds slashed on Cameron going by end of 2016



Liam Fox calls on PM to say Gibraltar status unaffected by vote

The former defence secretary – who served under David Cameron – has called on him to make clear Gibraltar’s sovereignty would not be affected if Britain left the EU.

Liam Fox served as Mr Cameorn's defence secretary during the Coalition

Liam Fox served as Mr Cameorn’s defence secretary during the Coalition Credit: Paul Grover/Paul Grover

Here was the exchange from this morning:

Liam Fox: The Remain campaign have suggested that Gibraltar’s sovereignty might be at stake that is as I say inexcusable. And the only way we can deal with that is for the Prime Minister to say the sovereignty of Gibraltar will not be a question that we will tolerate inside or outside the European Union. Their security is guaranteed by the UK.

Andrew Marr: And you think we need that statement now?

Liam Fox: We need that clarity because I think even the vaguest inference that we might hand over the sovereignty of Gibraltar to Spain if we are not inside the European Union is completely unacceptable. I think there are limits to what you can and cannot say in any campaign. That goes way beyond acceptable limits.

Andrew Marr: And this requires personal intervention by the Prime Minister to get that clarity?

Liam Fox: I think he is the only person with authority to make the government’s position clear and unequivocal. Gibraltar is protected by the United Kingdom and will continue to be protected whether we’re in the European Union or out. We need a clear statement.



Blair suggests Corbyn policies are outdated and impratical

Tony Blair has said he would tell people to vote for Labour even with Jeremy Corbyn at the party helm.

The former prime minister who appeared on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show said he does not “disrespect” the Islington MP and his views.

Asked by Mr Marr if he thinks it would be a terrible risk for Jeremy Corbyn to be elected, as he reportedly said this week, Mr Blair denied he was talking about the Labour leader.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn joins a doctors and teachers protest in central London on April 26, 2016

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn joins a doctors and teachers protest in central London on April 26, 2016 Credit:  BEN STANSALL/AFP or licensors

He also said he was not being disloyal against Mr Corbyn and his attempts to come up with new policies that address some of the anger among voters.

Mr Blair said: “Let’s wait and see what those policies are. I don’t disrespect him as a person and his views at all.”

On whether he could imagine himself telling people to vote Labour, the former PM said: “I will always tell people to vote Labour because I am Labour – it is just the way I am.”

Where do celebrities stand on the EU? In quotes EU referendum: which celebrities want to stay in and which want to leave? Play! 01:39

He added: “Personally, I would like to see the centre, by that I mean the centre-left and the centre-right, get its grip and its traction back on the political scene.

“I honestly do believe that a lot of the solutions to the problems we face today are less about ideology and far more to do with practicality and understanding modernity and the way that the modern world works.”


Chris Grayling plays down coup concerns

Pro-Leave Cabinet minister Chris Grayling insisted the push to oust the PM did not have the 50 signatures needed to trigger a contest.

Chris Grayling 

Chris Grayling 

He told BBC Radio Four’s Pienaar’s Politics: “I don’t think there are 50 colleagues gunning for the Prime Minister.

“I can assure you that those people who fought to win their seats 12 months ago are definitely not gunning for a general election by Christmas.”


VIDEO: Blair denies he has become ‘rich and disconnected’

Tony Blair quizzed about his wealth Tony Blair quizzed about his wealth Play! 00:50



Jeremy Corbyn fuels speculation Ed Miliband will return to front bench

Jeremy Corbyn has added to mounting speculation that he wants Ed Miliband in his shadow cabinet by refusing to be pinned down on the former leader’s return.

During an interview on Pienaar’s Politics on the BBC’s Radio 5 the Labour leader spoke highly of his “great friend” while on the EU referendum campaign trail.

Asked if he wants the Doncaster MP back in the shadow cabinet, Mr Corbyn refused to rule out the possibility and replied: “That is all for the future.”

Read the rest:

Philippines President-Elect Duterte vows to swiftly end the Communist rebellion

May 29, 2016


© AFP/File | Philippines’ incoming president Rodrigo Duterte is hoping to bring a swift political settlement to the Communist rebellion that has killed about 30,000 people and impoverished vast swathes of the country

DAVAO (PHILIPPINES) (AFP) – Incoming Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday he would seek an early start to peace talks with communist rebels and free detained guerrilla chieftains when he takes office in end-June.

He also offered safe passage for Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the insurgency who fled to European exile nearly 30 years after the failure of initial attempts to end one of Asia’s longest armed insurgencies.

Duterte is betting on his close friendship with Sison, his former university teacher, to bring a swift political settlement to a rebellion that has killed about 30,000 people by official count and impoverished vast swathes of the country.

“I will… give him (Sison) a safe-conduct pass,” the soon-to-be president told a midnight news conference in his southern hometown of Davao.

He said Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Tiamzon, the detained alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army, would also be let out to take part in the peace talks.

Incumbent President Benigno Aquino revived peace talks soon after taking office in 2010 but shelved them in 2013, accusing the rebels of insincerity in efforts to achieve a political settlement.

The talks got bogged down after the communists demanded the release of scores of their jailed comrades whom they described as “political prisoners”, which the Aquino government rejected.

Duterte, who met a rebel emissary in Davao 10 days ago, said he would also be sending out two members of his cabinet to Norway for preparatory meetings with the exiled rebel leaders.

Norway had acted as go-between in failed peace talks between the Aquino government and the rebels.

“I have commissioned them to go to Oslo… to go there for the framework and agenda that (we) will talk about,” Duterte added.

He said the two cabinet emissaries would then “maybe accompany Jose Maria Sison home”.

Should his emissaries be able to hammer out an agreement, “then I will release all the political prisoners,” Duterte said — the rebels’ term for their jailed comrades.

The rebels have hailed Duterte’s earlier offer for a ceasefire, as well as to allow the rebels to nominate their allies to four positions in his cabinet.

However they have also urged him to release all detained rebels that they said numbered more than 500.

Pope scolds clergy over their part-time availability

May 29, 2016


There is no open door, no priest, no deacon, no layperson to receive people.”

© AFP | Pope Francis leads a mass at the Vatican, on May 29, 2016

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Clergymen should make themselves available to their flocks day and night instead of keeping visiting hours and relaxing once the church doors close, Pope Francis said Sunday.

“One who serves cannot hoard his free time; he has to give up the idea of being the master of his day,” the pontiff said in a homily in Saint Peter’s Basilica to mark the Church’s Jubilee of Deacons.

“It deeply troubles me when I see a timetable in a parish: ‘From such a time to such a time’. And then? There is no open door, no priest, no deacon, no layperson to receive people. This is not good,” he said.

The 79-year old said clergymen should welcome “those who knock on those doors at odd hours, even if that entails setting aside something he likes to do or giving up some well-deserved rest”.

He also stressed the importance of priests and deacons being mild-mannered, saying: “Never shout, never”.

Deacons from around the world and their families convened in Rome this weekend to take part in special jubilee as part of Francis’ Jubilee year which is dedicated to the theme of mercy.

In a shock move earlier this month, the Argentine pontiff said he would set up a commission to study the possibility of women entering the Catholic clergy as deacons, in a potentially historic move for the Church.


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