Posts Tagged ‘Kuala Lumpur’

Pakistan intends to replicate the Malaysian model, PM Khan tells Mahathir

November 21, 2018
PM Khan seeks Malaysian cooperation in various fields, including economy.— DawnNewsTV
PM Khan seeks Malaysian cooperation in various fields, including economy.— DawnNewsTV

“Apart from trade and future cooperation, we are looking forward for Malaysian cooperation in the tourism sector,” he said, adding that Pakistan has a number of tourists spots but don’t have resorts.

He added that the newly formed government in Islamabad has found itself in a situation where it was facing “unprecedented debt”. He said that his government is mandated to end corruption and that he wants to learn from Malaysian model to cop up the situation at home.

Earlier on Tuesday night, PM Imran Khan along with a delegation reached Kuala Lumpur. He was received by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister in the PM Office of Government of Malaysia.

According to the official Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Twitter account, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, and Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood are also accompanying PM Khan.

According to Radio Pakistan, PM Khan is the first head of state to visit the Southeast Asian country since Mahathir Mohammad became the Malaysian PM for a second time earlier this year.

This is Imran Khan’s fourth official visit to any country after becoming prime minister. Before this, he has visited Saudi ArabiaChina and the United Arab Emirates to seek bailout packages amid a mounting balance of payments crisis confronting Pakistan. It is also the last of the trio of planned foreign visits when the PM assumed the top office.

On Oct 18, PM Khan and Mahathir Mohamad had held a telephonic conversation in which the former had emphasised Pakistan’s need of close and cordial relations with Malaysia.

During the conversation with Mahathir Mohamad, PM Khan had expressed a desire to learn from their experiences, and also accepted the veteran leader’s invitation to visit Malaysia.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1446963/islamabad-intends-to-replicate-the-malaysian-model-pm-khan-tells-mahathir

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Malaysia axes project to build high-speed rail link with Singapore

May 28, 2018

Malaysia is cancelling a project to build a high-speed rail link between its capital, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, and will talk with its southern neighbor about any compensation Malaysia has to pay, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday.

Mahathir, the 92-year-old who triumphed in a general election this month, has made it a priority to cut the national debt and pledged to review big projects agreed by his predecessor that he says are expensive and have no financial benefit.

“It is a final decision, but it will take time because we have an agreement with Singapore,” Mahathir told a news conference referring to his scrapping of the project, valued by analysts at about $17 billion.

The project is out for tender and was scheduled to be completed by 2026.

Mahathir said Malaysia may have to pay about 500 million ringgit ($125.63 million) to Singapore to get out of the deal.

Image result for Mahathir Mohamad, photos

Mahathir Mohamad

Singapore’s government did not immediately have any comment on Mahathir’s vow to scrap the project.

Companies from China, Japan, South Korea and Europe were eyeing a contract to build, operate and finance the trains and the rail assets, sources close to the bidding process had told Reuters.

Even picking a winner was expected to test ties between Malaysia and Singapore, which have been frosty since the end of the colonial era in the 1960s, against the backdrop of broader tension over China’s growing influence in the region.

About 90 percent of the rail network was set to be in Malaysia, including a terminal in Bandar Malaysia, a big property development owned by scandal-hit state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

A $1.7 billion deal to sell a majority stake in Bandar Malaysia to a Malaysian-Chinese consortium fell through in May 2017. A year on, the project has failed to attract any buyers.

Mahathir has reopened an investigation into 1MDB following his election victory. It is being investigated in other countries, including the United States.

Properties linked to former prime minister Najib Razak have been searched as part of the investigation, and Najib has given statements to an anti-graft agency.

Najib has long denied any wrongdoing.

Mahathir said his government was also in the process of renegotiating with Chinese partners over the terms of a $14 billion rail deal aimed at connecting the South China Sea at the Thai border in the east with the strategic shipping routes of the Straits of Malacca in the west.

He estimates that Malaysia could cut almost a fifth of its $250 billion national debt and liabilities by scrapping such big projects.

Reporting by Liz Lee, John Geddie and A. Ananthalakshmi in KUALA LUMPUR and Fathin Ungku in SINGAPORE; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel

Reuters

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Malaysia renegotiating terms of major Belt-and-Road rail project: PM Mahathir

May 26, 2018

Malaysia is haggling over the terms of a $14 billion rail deal with its Chinese partners and can reduce its ballooning national debts by $50 billion by doing away with mega projects, its prime minister said in an interview published on Saturday.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a news conference in Menara Yayasan Selangor, Pataling Jaya, Malaysia May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Mahathir Mohamad, the 92-year-old who triumphed over scandal-plagued Najib Razak in elections earlier this month, has made it a priority to cut the national debt and pledged to review major projects agreed by the previous government.

Work on the 55 billion ringgit ($13.82 billion) East Coast Rail Link – the largest such project in the country and a major part of Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure push – started last year.

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The project was planned to stretch 688 kilometers (430 miles) connecting the South China Sea at the Thai border in the east with the strategic shipping routes of the Straits of Malacca in the west.

“We are renegotiating the terms,” Mahathir told the financial newspaper The Edge. “The terms are very damaging to our economy.”

The project is being built by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, and is being mainly financed by a loan from China Exim Bank.

Image result for East Coast Rail Link, malaysia, photos

Mahathir also questioned the need for the project in the first place.

“He (Najib) knew very well that the ECRL, for example, is not something we could afford. It is not going to serve any purpose, it is not going to give us any returns,” said Mahathir.

Addressing the need to reduce the national debt and liabilities – which the government puts at around one trillion ringgit ($251.32 billion) or 80 percent of its GDP – Mahathir said “at one go we can reduce it by 200 billion ringgit ($50.26 billion) by doing away with all these huge projects”.

Mahathir said Malaysia is also going to look into how it can reduce the cost of any potential exit from a deal with Singapore for a high-speed rail (HSR) to link its capital Kuala Lumpur with the city-state, said Mahathir.

The project, valued by analysts at about $17 billion, is currently out for tender and is scheduled to be completed by 2026.

“The terms of the agreement (for the HSR) are such that if we decide to drop the project, it will cost us a lot of money,” said Mahathir.

“So we are going to find out how we can reduce the amount of money we have to pay for breaking the agreement.”

(Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Stephen Powell)

Reuters

Hamas Engineer ‘Negotiated Arms Deals With North Korea, Assassinated by Mossad’ in Malaysia

April 26, 2018

Report in The New York Times cites intelligence officials saying Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh was killed in Malaysia as part of Mossad attempt to stop Hamas operations overseas, reveals ties to North Korea

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A kid holds a poster of Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh portrait at a mosque in Selayang, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018.
A kid holds a poster of  Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh  portrait at a mosque in Selayang, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018. Sadiq Asyraf/AP

Fadi al-Batsh, the Hamas engineer gunned down in Malaysia last week, was reportedly involved in talks with North Korea on arms intended for Gaza, The New York Times reported Thursday.

According to the report, Batsh was killed as part of an alleged operation by Israel’s Mossad spy agency to take out Hamas scientists and engineers training abroad to gather “know-how and weaponry to fight Israel.

“That claim has been confirmed by Middle Eastern intelligence officials,” The New York Times reported, claiming the “broader operation” was ordered by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen.

Regarding North Korea, the joint report, by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman and Hannah Beech, the paper’s Southeast Asia reporter, claimed that “Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials said that Batsh may have been involved in negotiating North Korean arms deals through Malaysia.”

Mossad has also been particularly interested in Hamas’s progress in unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles, officials told The Times, which could be used to attack Israeli targets more effectively than Hamas’s rockets used during its last wars with Israel.

>> From Malaysia to Tunisia: Troubles in Gaza are pushing Hamas to overseas operations <<

Batsh, who co-wrote a 2013 paper on drone applications, was sent to Malaysia to research and acquire weapon systems and drones for Hamas, the intelligence officials told The Times.

The report said that Egypt recently captured a shipment of “communications components used for guided munitions destined for Gaza” from North Korea. It was also reported that according to an intelligence official, Batsh was involved in negotiating that deal.

The Times also cited a UN report claiming that Pyongyang had set up a shell company to circumnavigate sanctions and conduct sales of “military-grade communication systems” through Kuala Lumpur.

This image released by Royal Malaysia Police shows a suspect in the killing of a Hamas engineer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018.
This image released by Royal Malaysia Police shows a suspect in the killing of a Hamas engineer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018./AP

The two men suspected of killing Batsh in Kuala Lumpur were still in the country, Malaysian police said on Wednesday, as theyreleased a fresh image of one of the men. Hamas have accused Mossad of assassinating Batsh, who they say was a member of their group.

Two men on a high-powered motorcycle fired at least 14 shots at Batsh, an engineering lecturer, outside his apartment building on Saturday, killing him on the spot.

A Kawasaki motorcycle was found abandoned near a lake about nine minutes from the scene, from which police were able to trace a photo of one of the suspects, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun told reporters.

The suspects were believed to have entered Malaysia sometime in late January, but it was not known what nationalities they were or where they had traveled from, said Mohamad Fuzi.

“We believe the suspects are still in the country,” he said.

>> From Malaysia to Tunisia: Troubles in Gaza Are Pushing Hamas to Overseas Operations >>

Authorities had originally released computer-generated photographs of the suspects, who witnesses described as well-built and light-skinned, possibly Middle Eastern or European.

A new photo of one of the suspects shows a light-skinned man with dark, wavy hair and a prominent goatee.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Saturday the suspects were believed to be Europeans with links to a foreign intelligence agency.

Speaking on Israeli radio on Sunday, Defense Ministry Avigdor Lieberman said of the allegations: “We heard about this on the news. There’s a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts.”

Mohamad Fuzi said the killing appeared “very professionally done”, but declined to comment on reports it was a Mossad operation or that it was carried out by trained assassins.

Batsh was a lecturer at Universiti Kuala Lumpur, specializing in power engineering, according to the university. According to the Hamas affiliated news agency SPA, Batsh also involved with Islamic organizations, including MyCARE.

His funeral ceremony is currently taking place in Selayang, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. Batsh’s body will be returned to Gaza via Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday evening, after the funeral procession in Kuala Lumpur, Palestine’s ambassador to Malaysia, Anwar Al Agha, told Reuters.

Mossad has been accused of several high-profile killings involving Palestinians around the world, although Israel has consistently denied the accusations.

Numbered markers are seen on a bullet-riddled wall at the scene where Palestinian scientist Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh was gunned down April 21 in what his family claim was an assassination by Israel's Mossad spy agency, in Kuala Lumpur on April 22, 2018.
Numbered markers are seen on a bullet-riddled wall at the scene where Palestinian scientist Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh was gunned down April 21 in what his family claim was an assassination by IsraelMOHD RASFAN/AFP

Malaysian arrests ‘IS-linked militants planning attacks’

January 22, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | The flag of the Islamic State group: two people with suspected IS links have been detained in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysian police have arrested two suspected militants with links to the Islamic State (IS) group, who were allegedly planning attacks on entertainment outlets and national police headquarters, officials said Monday.One of the suspects, an Indonesian construction worker, had previously wandered around Kuala Lumpur with a knife in an unsuccessful attempt to attack Buddhist monks in revenge for atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, police said.

Hundreds of suspected extremists have been arrested in Muslim-majority Malaysia in recent times, as fears grow that IS is encouraging would-be militants to launch attacks in a country that has never before suffered a major assault.

 Malaysia’s Counter Terrorism Division officers arresting a private religious school teacher, who was planning to launch attacks on entertainment outlets in the Klang Valley, in Petaling Jaya on Dec 23, 2017.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The latest arrests took place in separate police operations in January and December, with a Malaysian teacher from a religious school detained as well as the construction worker.

The men were “suspected of being involved with the Daesh (IS) terrorist group”, said national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun in a statement.

The 23-year-old Indonesian was detained in the capital last week and had allegedly been planning to attack police headquarters and other police stations to steal weapons that could be used in attacks.

In November he had scouted an area of downtown Kuala Lumpur with a knife, allegedly planning to target Buddhist monks, but he did not succeed, police said.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy towards the Rohingya in Malaysia since hundreds of thousands fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, their mainly Buddhist homeland, in the wake of a military-led campaign in Rakhine state.

The suspect, who was not named, had been in contact with a senior IS leader and had raised a flag of the jihadist group at the construction site where he worked, police said.

The Malaysian teacher, 25, was detained outside Kuala Lumpur and had been planning attacks on entertainment outlets around the capital, police said, without giving further details.

He previously served an 18-month jail term under tough internal security laws.

Malaysia’s 1MDB settles debt owed to Abu Dhabi with China backing

December 27, 2017

Workmen are pictured on site at the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 1, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

By Leslie Lopez
The Straits Times
December 27, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR – State-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has made the final settlement of US$602.7 million ($S810 million) in debt obligations to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), by divesting its stake in two companies to buyers linked to Chinese state-owned enterprises.

The payment, the second tranche to a US$1.2 billion dollar loan IPIC extended in July 2015 to the troubled 1MDB, was made on Friday (Dec 22), ahead of the end-December deadline that both parties agreed to in early April this year.

IPIC confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that “it has now received all the funds required to be paid to it under the Settlement with the Minister of Finance (Incorporated) Malaysia and 1MDB and the Consent Award made on 9 May 2017”.

“The process to pay is being initiated early because the funds are in place and 1MDB wants to avoid any administrative trip-ups that could result from the banking holidays at the end of the year,” one Malaysian government official familiar with the settlement said.

The first tranche was settled in August.

The second instalment will be paid with funds raised from the sale of investments in financial instruments held by the Malaysian investment company and stakes held in two 1MDB-related entities that own tracts of land in the northern Penang state and another 318-acre real estate parcel around Port Klang, the sources said.

Malaysian government officials declined to identify the buyers in the real estate transactions but one financial executive close to the situation said that the equity interests in the 1MDB real estate entities were acquired by “concerns ultimately controlled by Chinese state-owned enterprises”. The executive declined to elaborate.

1MDB did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, 1MDB said that all funds were paid from proceeds of its on-going rationalisation programme.

Opposition MP Tony Pua had previously questioned how 1MDB was funding these repayments, and alleged that the Ministry of Finance’s refusal to answer indicated that 1MDB had help from the government.

For the first tranche, 1MDB had said in April that it would use investment units owned by 1MDB subsidiary Brazen Sky Limited to fund the payment.

In June however, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said these so-called fund units are “relatively worthless”.

The DOJ has filed several lawsuits seeking to seize dozens of properties and luxury assets that it claimed were purchased with funds misappropriated from 1MDB amounting to over US$3.5 billion. The ongoing probe is one of several worldwide relating to 1MDB. Investigations have also been carried out in Singapore, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

The dispute between 1MDB and IPIC revolves around the IPIC loan and another US$3.54 billion in cash advances 1MDB claimed it made to several Abu Dhabi-controlled entities as part of obligations under a May 2012 bond arrangement.

IPIC claimed that it never received the monies from 1MDB, triggering the dispute.

IPIC declared 1MDB in default after the state investment fund refused to honour an interest instalment of US$50.3 million, a move that exposed the Malaysian government to billions more in claims.

Days before the arbitration process was to begin in April this year, both governments reached a settlement.

Under that confidential agreement, sources familiar with the deal said that Malaysia declared that it would honour all its financial obligations to its international bond holders and make full settlement on the US$1.2 billion dollar loan to IPIC before end-2017.

The settlement of the loan this week would also set in motion the second limb in the overall resolution to the dispute.

According to financial executives familiar with the situation, Abu Dhabi will begin negotiations in January 2018 with 1MDB regarding the outstanding US$3.5 billion that remains in dispute.

Separately, Malaysian government officials said 1MDB’s president and chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy, whose contract expires later this month, will continue in office. It is believed that Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chairs 1MDB’s advisory board, will decide on a new role for him after the country’s general election, which is widely expected in the first half of next year.

Mr Arul, who has been central in resolving 1MDB’s debt troubles, has been identified as a contender for the top job at state-owned strategic investment fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysias-1mdb-to-settle-debt-owed-to-abu-dhabi-with-china-backing

From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Muslims vent fury at Trump’s Jerusalem stance

December 8, 2017

© Fethi Belaid, AFP | A Tunisian protester burns a poster bearing images of the US and Israeli flags during a rally in Tunis on December 8.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the Muslim world on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing their outrage at US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump’s declaration departed from decades of US policy and upended longstanding international assurances that the fate of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as their capital, would be determined in peace negotiations.

The move drew stern criticism from governments across the Middle East and in other Muslim countries, where security was stepped up outside US embassies in anticipation of unrest following Friday prayers.

The expected protests turned violent in the Palestinian territories, where demonstrators staged a “day of rage” and clashed with Israeli security forces.

But the repercussions of Trump’s move were felt far and wide, with protesters from Malaysia to Somalia venting their anger at Washington and expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians.

>> ‘Deplorable and unacceptable’: Trump provokes diplomatic firestorm over JerusalemIn the Egyptian capital of Cairo, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the famed al Azhar mosque and chanted, “Jerusalem is Arab! O Trump, you madman, the Arab people are everywhere!” Egypt is a US ally and has a peace treaty with Israel.

The imam leading the prayers at al Azhar said the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem was a “terrorist decision” that proved America’s bias towards Israel.

In Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, hundreds rallied in the capital Amman chanting, “America is the head of the snake.”

The protesters raised posters showing Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, whose religious guardian is the Jordanian king.

IRANIANS TAKE TO THE STREETS AFTER TRUMP’S DECISION

There were larger protests in Tunisia and Lebanon, with more than 5,000 Lebanese and Palestinians marching from a mosque in western Beirut to a nearby cemetery where several Palestinian commanders are buried.

In Iran, which has never recognised Israel and supports anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah, demonstrators burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while chanting, “Death to the Devil.”

Iranian media said similar rallies took place in other cities and towns across the country after Friday prayers.

‘Slap in the face for Muslims’

Protests were also reported in several Turkish cities, including a small gathering outside the heavily protected US embassy in Ankara, where police prevented protesters from setting US flags alight.

A much larger crowd, estimated at 3,000, gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district before marching toward a park waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

“What Trump says is empty words and means nothing to us,” said Merve, a young student in the crowd. “Whenever we see the name of Israel on a map, we cross it out and write Palestine,” she added.

Protesters step on a poster of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 8, 2017. © Ozan Kose, AFP

Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan organised rallies in Islamabad and other cities, with some protesters torching effigies of the US president. Protests took place in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest, as well as Multan and Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.

Islamist leaders addressed the crowds and urged Muslim countries to cut diplomatic ties with Washington to pressure Trump to reconsider his decision.

There was further unrest in neighbouring India, where protesters burned US and Israeli flags at rallies in restive Kashmir province.

Anti-American sentiment also ran high at a rally in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where a crowd of several hundred shouted, “Trump, down!”

More protests were reported in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, and in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, where more than 1,000 people rallied outside the US embassy.

“This insensitive action will inflame the hearts of Muslims worldwide,” said Mohamad Rasul, a 51-year-old train driver in the Malaysian capital, describing Trump’s move as a “slap in the face for Muslims”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Two Women Plead Not Guilty to Killing North Korean Leader’s Half-Brother

October 2, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a banned nerve agent pleaded not guilty at the start of a high-profile murder trial in a Malaysian court on Monday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison banned by the United Nations, at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb. 13.

Both women wore bullet-proof vests as they were led into the court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital. They face the death penalty if convicted.

The two women nodded their heads when the charge was read out to them at the Shah Alam court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital.

Siti was dressed in a black floral suit, while Huong wore a white long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans.

The prosecution said in its charge sheet their actions showed “intent to kill the victim” by smearing his face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim.

Defense lawyers demanded that the prosecution immediately name four other suspects who have also been charged in the case but who are still at large. The prosecution said their identities would be revealed during the trial.

The women had told their lawyers they did not know they were participating in a deadly attack and believed they were carrying out a prank for a reality TV show.

They had carried out several practice runs at shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the attack on Kim Jong Nam, the prosecution said.

“The prank practice carried out by the first and second accused with the supervision of the four who are still at large was preparation to see through their common intention to kill the victim,” the prosecution said in its charge sheet.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said that Kim Jong Un’s regime was behind the murder. North Korea denies the allegation.

The trial is expected to run until Nov. 30 and the prosecution is expected to call up to 40 witnesses.

The prosecution also said in its opening statement that expert testimony would be presented to prove that VX was the cause of death.

(The story fixes typographical error to “vests”, paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Tavleen Tarrant; Writing by Joseph Sipalan; Edting by Praveen Menon and Paul Tait)

Malaysia Stops Beer Festival — Islamist party warned it would turn the city into “the biggest centre of vice in Asia”

September 18, 2017

AFP

© dpa/AFP | The world’s largest beer festival is held annually in Munich, Germany
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia has canned an annual craft beer festival after an Islamist party warned it would turn the city into “the biggest centre of vice in Asia”.

Drinking alcohol is common among the large ethnic minorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia but there have been a growing number of protests against activities and events seen as un-Islamic by politicians and hardliners.

The Better Beer Festival, billed as Malaysia’s biggest craft beer festival, was due to take place on October 6 and 7 at a shopping mall on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

But last week the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which often protests events seen as against Islam, warned the event could lead to criminal acts, free sex and rape.

“We can’t bear it if Kuala Lumpur is known by the world as the biggest centre of vice in Asia,” PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor was cited as saying in the Malay Mail Online.

“It is something that is shameful for an Islamic country like Malaysia.”

The organisers Monday announced “with disappointment” that the festival would not go ahead after city officials instructed them to cancel it due to licensing issues and “the political sensitivity surrounding the event”.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall confirmed the cancellation and said legal action could be taken if it went ahead.

It was the latest sign of creeping conservatism in Malaysia, where critics say increasingly vocal Islamic hardliners and politicians are eroding a traditionally moderate brand of the religion.

About 60 percent of Malaysia’s more than 30 million inhabitants are Muslim, and the country is also home to substantial ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

Defense in Kim Jong Nam Murder Trial Focuses on VX ‘Murder Weapon’

June 16, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — A lawyer for one of two women accused of killing the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader said on Friday he was seeking the help of foreign experts to assess the evidence related to the alleged murder weapon – VX nerve agent.

Indonesian Siti Aishah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, have been charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 by smearing his face with VX, a chemical the United Nations describes as a weapon of mass destruction.

Indonesian suspect Siti Aisyah is escorted by Malaysian police.

 

They face the death penalty if convicted.

Malaysian prosecutors have handed defense lawyers 44 documents including toxicology, autopsy, arrest reports, the suspects’ statements and photographs, the lawyers told a hearing on Friday.

Gooi Soong Seng, Aishah’s lawyer, said some of the documents would be sent to experts in Denmark and other countries to get assessments on the alleged use of VX agent.”In the post-mortem … they have confirmed that the cause of death was by VX. So we will be looking thoroughly at the VX aspect,” Gooi told reporters.

He did not elaborate on what particular aspect he wanted the experts to look into.

U.S. and South Korean officials say the North Korean regime was behind the murder of Kim Jong Nam, who had been living in exile in Macau and had criticized his family’s dynastic rule of North Korea in the past.

Kim was the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. His half brother, Kim Jong Un, became North Korean leader when their father died in 2011.

North Korea has refused to accept the dead man was leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother, and has suggested the victim died of a heart attack. It has accused Malaysia of working with South Korea and other “hostile forces”.

Aishah and Huong have told diplomats from their countries that they believed they had been taking part in a reality television show prank when they assaulted Kim Jong Nam at the airport.

Gooi said the defense was still awaiting CCTV recordings of the murder, and of “video pranks” that the women had allegedly carried out at hotels and shopping malls around Kuala Lumpur.

Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, Huong’s lawyer, said the defense was also looking for “essential evidence” in Vietnam, but declined to elaborate.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Robert Birsel)