Posts Tagged ‘Malaysia’

China believes that fishing and oil industries from the South China Sea may amount to trillions of dollars — What does the Philippines get?

July 20, 2018

NATIONAL papers talk about the Spratly Islands as belonging to us, well and good. What’s then all the protests about?

The Spratly Islands were, in the past, coral islets mostly inhabited by seabirds. They consist of 18 islands but, according to Chinese sources, the Spratlys consist of 14 islands or islets, 6 banks, 113 submerged reefs, 35 underwater banks and 21 underwater shoals.

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After so many claims and disputes of nearby surrounding countries, the international courts decided in favor of the Philippines. So, the Spratly Islands belong to us. However, claims and counter claims as to which country these islands belong to have not waned.

Aside from us, China insists on its historical rights over the islands, and so do Brunei, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. This is now what we call the South China Sea Disputes involving island and maritime claims.

What’s there to fight about? The Philippines, Malaysia and other countries began referring to the Spratly Islands as included in their own territory as far back as the 1970s. The Philippines started exploring the area in 1976 until gas was discovered. However, China complained and its protests halted the exploration. President Ferdinand Marcos then in 1978 issued Presidential decree No. 1596, declaring the north-western part of the Spratly Islands or the Kalayaan Island Group as Philippine territory.

The first Philippine oil company discovered an oil field off Palawan in 1984, which is an island province bordering the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea. These oil fields supply 15 percent of annual oil consumption in the Philippines.

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The whole contested area seems to parallel the crude oil output of Kuwait in case it undergoes serious exploration and production. It has been speculated to be the new Persia related to oil production. In addition, the abundant fishing opportunities in the area are strong incentives for the disputes. The South China Sea is believed to have accounted for ten percent of fishing harvests worth billions of dollars in the world resulting in clashes between Philippine and foreign vessels. China seems to believe that fishing and oil industries from the South China Sea may amount to trillions of dollars.

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Aside from these, the region is also one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. Crude oil transported by sea passes through this sea way and accounts for more than half the tonnage of the world’s transported crude oil. It is claimed that the traffic here is three times bigger than that passing through the Suez canal and greater too than the business traffic in the Panama Canal. Oh oh, no wonder the scramble for ownership?

To add, the US and China are at odds over the area because of international rights to free access. The USA’s free access to this region is good for its economic and geopolitical interests.

So that’s the picture! The claims of six other sovereign nations will go on despite the Philippines’ being bestowed ownership by international courts. Vietnam is aggressive on this and so are several of the other nations. Now, we have protesters urging our government to fight China and all other nations expecting ownership of the Spratlys despite the international court’s decision.

Should we fight for our rights over the islands that have been naturally inhabited by birds since the beginning of our knowledge, or should we opt for peace by sharing the bounty of the South China Sea with all the nations aggressively fighting for this area too? In other words, should we opt for peace…or WAR?

I love you Baguio!

By EVANGELINE MURILLO

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

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Malaysia to release report on missing flight MH370 on July 30

July 20, 2018

Malaysia will release on July 30 a long-awaited report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the transport minister said on Friday.

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In May, Malaysia called off a privately-funded underwater search for the aircraft, which became one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries when it vanished with 239 aboard en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014.

The investigation team would brief families of those aboard on the report at the transport ministry on July 30, said the minister, Anthony Loke.

“Every word recorded by the investigation team will be tabled in this report,” he told reporters, adding that a news conference would follow the closed-door briefing.

“We are committed to the transparency of this report,” Loke added. “It will be tabled fully, without any editing, additions, or redactions.”

The report will be put online, with hard copies distributed to families and accredited media, among others, Loke said, adding, “The whole international community will have access to the report.”

Voice 370, a group representing the relatives, has previously urged the Malaysian government for a review of the flight, including “any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance”.

The only confirmed traces of the Boeing 777 aircraft have been three wing fragments washed up on Indian Ocean coasts.

The search Malaysia called off on May 29, by U.S.-based firm Ocean Infinity, covered 112,000 sq km (43,243 sq miles) in the southern Indian Ocean within three months, ending with no significant new findings.

orror’

Suspicion of Captain Zaharie emerged within a week of MH370's disappearance as the Chinese government intensified pressure on Malaysia to explain the mystery and find the missing plane

Suspicion of Captain Zaharie emerged within a week of MH370′s disappearance as the Chinese government intensified pressure on Malaysia to explain the mystery and find the missing plane

It was the second major search after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200-million ($147.06 million) search across an area of 120,000 sq km (46,332 sq miles) last year.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said Malaysia would consider resuming the search if new clues came to light.

Reuters

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Related:

Officials are examining debris found washed up on Reunion island east of Madagascar to determine if it is related to the missing MH370

Officials are examining debris found washed up on Reunion island east of Madagascar to determine if it is related to the missing MH370

China Is Winning in the South China Sea

July 18, 2018

The U.S. should respond more vigorously to Beijing’s violations of international law.

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Two years after an international tribunal rejected expansive Chinese claims to the South China Sea, Beijing is consolidating control over the area and its resources. While the U.S. defends the right to freedom of navigation, it has failed to support the rights of neighboring countries under the tribunal’s ruling. As a result, Southeast Asian countries are bowing to Beijing’s demands.

The tribunal’s main significance was to clarify resource rights. It ruled that China cannot claim historic rights to resources in waters within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone of other coastal states. It also clarified that none of the land features claimed by China in the Spratlys, in the southern part of the South China Sea, generate an exclusive economic zone.

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In late July 2017, Beijing threatened Vietnam with military action if it did not stop oil and gas exploration in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, according to a report by the BBC’s Bill Hayton. Hanoi stopped drilling. Earlier this year, Vietnam again attempted to drill, and Beijing issued similar warnings.

Other countries, including the U.S., failed to express support for Vietnam or condemn China’s threats. Beijing has also pressured Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines to agree to “joint development” in their exclusive economic zones—a term that suggests legitimate overlapping claims.

Meanwhile China is accelerating its militarization of the South China Sea. In April, it deployed antiship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to artificial islands constructed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef. In May, it landed long-range bombers on Woody Island.

Chinese envoy to the Philippines Xiao Jinhua, right, said that the Philippines was not and would not be a province of China.  Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi Jr., File

Beijing says it can do as it wishes on its own territory. But under international law, Mischief Reef isn’t Chinese. The 2016 tribunal decision made clear that jurisdiction over a low-tide elevation lies with the country in whose territorial sea or exclusive economic zone it is located, and no other country can claim sovereignty. Because Mischief Reef is located in the Philippines zone, the Philippines has jurisdiction over it.

Sovereignty over the rest of the features in the South China Sea continues to be fiercely contested. As I wrote in these pages last year, international law on the responsibility of an occupying state in a disputed area is far from clear, so Beijing’s actions are at best in a legal gray zone.

While Beijing’s dramatic military buildup in the South China Sea has received much attention, its attempts at “lawfare” are largely overlooked. In May, the Chinese Society of International Law published a “critical study” on the South China Sea arbitration case. It rehashed old arguments but also developed a newer one, namely that China is entitled to claim maritime zones based on groups of features rather than from individual features. Even if China is not entitled to historic rights within the area it claims, this argument goes, it is entitled to resources in a wide expanse of sea on the basis of an exclusive economic zone generated from outlying archipelagoes.

But the Convention on the Law of the Sea makes clear that only archipelagic states such as the Philippines and Indonesia may draw straight archipelagic baselines from which maritime zones may be claimed. The tribunal also explicitly found that there was “no evidence” that any deviations from this rule have amounted to the formation of a new rule of customary international law.

China’s arguments are unlikely to sway lawyers, but that is not their intended audience. Rather Beijing is offering a legal fig leaf to political and business elites in Southeast Asia who are already predisposed to accept Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. They fear China’s threat of coercive economic measures and eye promises of development through offerings such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

Why did Washington go quiet on the 2016 tribunal decision? One reason is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s turn toward China and offer to set aside the ruling. The U.S. is also worried about the decision’s implications for its own claims to exclusive economic zones from small, uninhabited land features in the Pacific.

The Trump administration’s failure to press Beijing to abide by the tribunal’s ruling is a serious mistake. It undermines international law and upsets the balance of power in the region. Countries have taken note that the tide in the South China Sea is in China’s favor, and they are making their strategic calculations accordingly. This hurts U.S. interests in the region.

The U.S. still has a chance to turn things around. It must coordinate a regional and international effort to insist that Beijing abides by international law. Coastal states must be supported in standing up to any incursions into their exclusive economic zones, including through coastal state-initiated legal action.

There must also be greater pushback against Beijing’s claims that China is entitled to do as it likes on its own territory. In all of this, the U.S. will have greater credibility if it finally accedes to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. These efforts will be critical to defend a rules-based order against China’s bid for hegemony in the region.

Ms. Kuok is an associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia and a senior research fellow at the Centre for Rising Powers, University of Cambridge.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-is-winning-in-the-south-china-sea-1531868329

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See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy

Tor:https://peoplestrusttoronto.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/china-wont-allow-philippines-to-fall-into-a-debt-trap-envoy/

and

Zhao: China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into debt trap

https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/chinese-loans-not-a-death-trap/

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

Former Goldman Banker Is in Plea Talks Over Malaysian 1MDB Scandal

July 10, 2018

Discussions between Tim Leissner, U.S. prosecutors bring probe closer to Wall Street firm

Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner attending a movie screening in March
Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner attending a movie screening in March PHOTO: RODIN ECKENROTH/GETTY IMAGES

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker is in talks with U.S. prosecutors to potentially plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from an alleged scheme to steal billions of dollars from a Malaysian state investment fund, people familiar with the matter said.

The talks bring the fast-moving investigation closer to Goldman, which raised billions for the Malaysian fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd, and come after the arrest of Malaysia’s former prime minister, who founded the fund and lost his re-election bid earlier this year.

The onetime Goldman partner and Southeast Asia chairman, Tim Leissner, who hasn’t been charged, is seeking an agreement with prosecutors that would involve his cooperation with the government’s criminal-fraud probe into 1MDB and Goldman, the people said.

One potential charge Mr. Leissner could ultimately plead guilty to would be a violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans the use of bribes to foreign officials to get or keep business, according to some of the people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors would have to corroborate any information he might provide and determine its usefulness to the overall investigation before agreeing to a plea, legal experts say.

Investigators have said 1MDB was used by former Prime Minister Najib Razak as a political slush fund and by associates of his to buy real estate, art and other luxuries from London to Beverly Hills, Calif. The U.S. Justice Department alleges in civil lawsuits that $4.5 billion was taken from the fund.

​Mr. Leissner, a German national married to an American fashion designer, was Goldman’s top banker on the fund. In that role, he forged a close relationship with Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman who prosecutors allege is the mastermind of the purported fraud, which would be one of the biggest in history. ​

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn also are investigating whether Goldman, which earned nearly $600 million from its role in arranging a series of bond sales for 1MDB, violated any laws, some of the people said. Billions of dollars raised through the bond offerings were almost immediately routed to bank accounts connected to figures in the probe, including Messrs. Low and Najib, investigators have said.

Mr. Najib was charged in court with three counts of criminal breach of trust. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has denied any wrongdoing at 1MDB. The former prime minister had previously been cleared by the country’s previous attorney general.

In addition to Mr. Najib’s arrest last week, Malaysia also has issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Low, who is believed to be in China.

Mr. Low hasn’t been charged and has denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Low and his lawyers declined to comment. The U.S. and Malaysia are both investigating Mr. Low, The Wall Street Journal has reported, but it is unclear if he will be charged or which country’s authorities might do so.

“Since we suspended Mr. Leissner, we have discovered that certain activities he undertook were deliberately hidden from the firm, which we have brought to the attention of the relevant authorities,” a Goldman spokesman said. A lawyer for Mr. Leissner declined to comment on the bank’s statement. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn and a spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment.

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Tim Leissner in happier times

Starting in Malaysia, a scandal involving the 1MDB fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak now involves at least 10 countries, including the U.S. This animation shows how money allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB moved through global wealth centers before being used to buy real estate, art, and other assets around the world, including in New York and Beverly Hills. Illustration: Oliver Osborne for The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. investigators have sought to determine whether Goldman had reason to suspect that money it helped 1MDB raise was misused and, if so, whether the bank was obligated to report any concerns to authorities, the Journal has reported. The Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission and New York state’s Department of Financial Services also are examining some of the bank’s actions, as are Singapore authorities, the Journal has reported.

Goldman’s big profits on the bond offerings, and their timing—one closed mere weeks before Malaysia’s 2013 presidential election—raised eyebrows throughout Wall Street. Some of the money raised in the offerings, investigators have said, was used to help fund Mr. Najib’s campaign, the Journal has reported.

Goldman has said it did nothing wrong and had no way of knowing there might be fraud surrounding 1MDB. The bank has said its main role was raising money it thought would be used for the stated purposes. Goldman had repeatedly denied Mr. Low’s request to open personal accounts at the firm.

Still, no one flagged the 1MDB transactions to regulators, the Journal has reported. “We have found no evidence showing any involvement by Jho Low in the 1MDB bond transactions,” the firm has said previously.

Mr. Leissner met Mr. Low in 2009. That year, Goldman became an adviser to the oil wealth fund. The fund evolved into 1MDB when the prime minister gave it the broader goal of spurring economic development.

Goldman advised 1MDB on two 2012 bond sales, raising $3.5 billion. A third offering, also underwritten by Goldman, raised an additional $3 billion in 2013.

Mr. Leissner was suspended from Goldman in early 2016 and later quit the firm after it discovered he had written an unauthorized letter to a Luxembourg bank vouching for Mr. Low. The letter said Goldman had done due diligence on Mr. Low and found no issues.

Singapore’s Monetary Authority cited the letter in barring Mr. Leissner from doing business in the city-state for a decade. His attorney, Marc S. Harris, said in late 2016: “Throughout his professional life, Mr. Leissner has conducted himself with integrity, dedication and with high ethical standards and we believe the various ongoing investigations will support these facts.”

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a U.S. industry body, banned Mr. Leissner from the securities industry last fall after the former banker didn’t respond to requests for documents and other information stemming from his departure from Goldman. Mr. Leissner’s attorney had declined to comment on the ban.

Write to Justin Baer at justin.baer@wsj.com, Bradley Hope at bradley.hope@wsj.com and Nicole Hong at nicole.hong@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 10, 2018, print edition as ‘Ex-Goldman Banker In Talks on 1MDB Plea.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-goldman-banker-in-plea-talks-over-malaysian-1mdb-scandal-1531165030?mod=hp_lead_pos7

Switzerland investigates six for suspected bribery of foreign officials in 1MDB probe

July 10, 2018

Switzerland is investigating six people on suspicion of bribing foreign officials and other offences, as part of a money laundering investigation into Malaysian state fund 1MDB, the Swiss attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.

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FILE PHOTO – Men walk past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund’s flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is not one of the “public officials under accusation”, the statement said.

The six under investigation are two former officials from 1MDB, two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds and two officials of Saudi energy group Petrosaudi.

The statement was issued after Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber met with his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas in Kuala Lumpur.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Neil Fullick

China Seeks Individuals to Develop South China Sea Islands Claimed, But Not Owned By China

July 7, 2018

China’s southern Hainan province, which administers the country’s claimed islands and waters in the contested South China Sea, is allowing individuals to use uninhabited islets for tourism and construction purposes for up to 50 years, state-run media has reported, citing an official document.

The document, revealed Wednesday, says that “any entity or individual” who wishes to develop uninhabited islands can apply and provide development plans to provincial ocean administration authorities, according to Hainan’s Department of Ocean and Fisheries, the state-run CGTN website reported Friday.

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The development would focus mainly on uninhabited islands in the Paracel chain, home to hundreds of undeveloped islets. The Paracels, which are occupied by China, are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, and is home to Woody Island, the nerve center and administration post for much of China’s operations in the strategic waterway.

According to the report, the time frame for developing the uninhabited islands varies depending on use. For aquaculture, they can be used for 15 years, tourism and amusement projects allow for 25 years, salt and mineral industry projects for 30 years, public welfare projects for 40 years and harbor- and shipyard-building projects for 50 years.

It said developers will have to pay the government for the use of the islands, which would also benefit Beijing’s goal of building a free trade zone for economic development.

“The development on uninhabited islands will maintain stability of (the) South China Sea and dispel other countries’ attempts to invade and occupy our territorial sovereignty,” the report cited Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the state-backed Hainan-based National Institute for the South China Sea, as saying.

Beijing has built up a series of military outposts in the South China Sea, which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

As part of what some experts say is a concerted bid to cement de facto control of the South China Sea, three of Beijing’s man-made islets in the Spratly chain south of the Paracels — Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs — all boast military-grade airfields.

In May, the Chinese Air Force landed bombers on Woody Island as part of a training exercise. Satellite images taken May 12 showed China also appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody, while anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-air missiles were also placed on its largest bases in the Spratlys.

All of these moves came despite a 2015 pledge by President Xi Jinping not to further militarize the islets.

Washington has blasted Beijing for the moves, fearing the outposts could be used to restrict free movement in the waterway, and has conducted a number of so-called freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the area, including one near several islets in the Paracels in May.

It has also flown bombers on training missions over the South China Sea — including a “routine mission” that was “in the vicinity of the South China Sea,” according to the U.S. military.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/07/asia-pacific/chinas-hainan-province-invites-individuals-develop-uninhabited-islands-south-china-sea/#.W0DakNJKiUk

South China Sea: Time for a different Philippine narrative on maritime dispute with China

July 7, 2018

Since the stunning victory over China in 2016, the official story has been defeatist

Soon, it will be two years since the Philippines overwhelmingly won in its maritime dispute against China. But during this time, the official narrative in the Philippines has been one with strong defeatist tones.

By Marites Dañguilan Vitug

Opinion

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From Day 1, July 12, 2016, when the international arbitral tribunal issued its decision invalidating China’s 9-dash line and clarifying the status of certain features in the South China Sea, this ruling has never been given the national attention it deserved. It has not been used as leverage in the country’s dealings with China. It has not been in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ talking points.

It has not been part of the country’s diplomatic arsenal.

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Yes, we won, officials say, but…

  • China is our source of economic deliverance. China will rebuild war-torn Marawi. China will invest heavily in the government’s “Build, Build, Build”
    program. Millions of Chinese tourists will boost our tourism industry. China is our new source of weapons.
  • China is a dear friend who, unlike the European Union, is nonchalant about the deadly drug war that has killed thousands and has led to a crushing wave of impunity.

These buts drown out the gains of July 12, 2016, weakening the Philippine position, making our country’s voice part of the chorus of approval of China in the region.

Let us not be taken by the official story. It’s time to talk about a different narrative.

Let’s go back to the story of Philippines vs. China, the historic arbitration case that reverberated in various parts of the world. As a law professor from the University of Geneva said, “July 12, 2016 is a date that will remain etched in the history of international adjudication.”

Let’s go back to the almost two decades of back-and-forth with Beijing when our diplomats asserted Philippine rights over parts of the South China Sea – only to be rebuffed with its stock response that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over this vast area.

Let’s hear from our scholars, experts, and diplomats on how to make use of our legal victory and start a national conversation on this crucial issue.

Historic case

In my new book, Rock Solid: How the Philippines won its maritime case against China, I tell the story of this victory that gave the country so much – a maritime area larger than the total land area of the Philippines, rich in resources – but has since been disregarded by the government.

First of all, the case is historic. It is the first to interpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) definitions of rocks, islands, and low-tide elevations; the first case to be filed by a South China Sea claimant state against China; and it is the first case to address the scope and application of the Unclos provision on protection and preservation of the environment.

This book addresses why President Benigno Aquino III took China to Court. Among others, he particularly remembered the quip of one ASEAN senior leader: “There are big countries and there are small countries. That’s the way of the world.” He mulled over this and thought that it was precisely the law that would serve as the great equalizer.

With this as anchor – the law as the great equalizer – Aquino decided, with the approval of the Cabinet, the leaders of Congress and two past presidents, to sue China.

In January 2013, the Philippines began its legal battle. It filed a “notification of statement and claim.”

More than year later, the Philippines submitted its memorial, like a plea, which reached more than 3,000 pages. It was a product of massive research in history, international law, geology, hydrography, marine biodiversity, and cartography. This included 10 volumes of annexes, which contained maps, nautical charts, expert reports, witnesses’ affidavits, historical records, and official communications.

Almost two decades of written exchanges between the Philippines and China, including notes verbale, were made public. Intelligence reports of the Navy, the Western Command of the Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defense were also submitted to the tribunal.

This was a first in the country: that diplomatic cables and intelligence documents were revealed to the public, a fascinating trove of our diplomatic history.

The Philippine story also unfolds in the transcripts of the oral hearings in The Hague which capture the essential points of the case. Paul Reichler and his team at Foley Hoag used the richly-documented diplomatic history of the Philippines-China dispute in their arguments before the tribunal.

These transcripts, the Philippine memorial, the awards (or the tribunal’s decisions) on jurisdiction and merit are accessible reading to non-lawyers like me. They can be downloaded from the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

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Aftermath

Despite the stunning victory, why was the Philippines so glum about a historic ruling that was on its side? Why did it choose to bury a euphoric moment instead of using the victory to galvanize a nation?

The answer lay in the country’s new president, Rodrigo Duterte. He held a different view: his heart and mind were with China.

The Duterte government has taken a defeatist stance despite the immensity of what the Philippines had gained from the ruling. Duterte once said that the Philippines was “helpless” in the face of China’s might. For him, the choices in dealing with China were extreme, either to talk or to go to war. He has framed foreign policy in a false dichotomy.

While the story of Philippines vs. China offers hope and inspiration, it is the aftermath that offers more challenges. Rock Solid gives a few prescriptions on how to make the tribunal’s decision work, but there are definitely more ideas out there worth exploring.

Many have said that international pressure can encourage the implementation of the award – but friendly countries have to take the lead from the Philippines.

In the region, the award benefited not only the Philippines but other Southeast Asian states which have made claims to parts of the South China Sea. It was clear from the ruling, as Reichler explained, that “if China’s nine-dash line is invalid as to the Philippines, it is equally invalid to other states bordering the South China Sea like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and the rest of the international community.”

Making the tribunal ruling work and seeing it come to fruition, partly or fully, will take a long time, way beyond a single president’s term. It will require strategic thinking anchored on a strong sense of justice, equity, and sovereign rights. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/206508-time-for-different-narrative-philippines-china-maritime-dispute

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Reuters

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Philippines new draft constitution: Be very afraid

July 7, 2018
The road to unlimited powers and even less accountability….
 / 05:08 AM July 07, 2018
Opinion

I have a copy of the draft new constitution (as of June 27, 2018) framed by President Duterte’s consultative committee, which he tasked to review the 1987 Constitution. It was signed on Tuesday, July 3, so it is fair to assume that not much could change in the six-day period between the draft and the signed document.

So what are the major differences between the 1987 Constitution and the proposed constitution?

A very important difference is that, right from the get-go, the proposed constitution adopts a federal form of government; it is the constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines. Not surprising, really, because all the members of the committee were pro-federalism also from the get-go.

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I want to remind you, Reader, that the March 2018 Pulse Asia Survey showed that the opposition to Charter change went up from 44 percent in July 2016 to 64 percent in March 2018, and the opposition to federalism went the same way, except by a larger margin—from 33 percent to 66 percent.

But, wait. That is not all. The transitory provisions of the proposed constitution have given President Duterte vast powers between 2019 (I assume that the plebiscite will be held in 2019, a reasonable assumption) and 2022. And it also allows him—at least that’s what committee member Julio Teehankee has publicly admitted—to run for President in 2022. Since the new constitution provides for a four-year term plus one reelection, that means he can be our President (unless death intervenes) for a total of 14 years.

He will, of course, be 85 years old by then. But, hey, Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia is 94 years old. I hasten to add, however, that Mahathir neither drinks nor womanizes. That may make a difference.

What vast powers do the transitory provisions give President Duterte? Well, first, he will be the chair of the Federal Transition Committee (FTC), with 10 other members that he will appoint from a list supplied by a five-person search committee, of which four are also appointed by him. Lutong Macao.

And what does the FTC do? Wow. It will formulate and adopt a transition plan for the orderly shift to the new system of government, and it will promulgate the necessary rules, regulations, orders, decrees, proclamations and other issuances, do all acts to implement the same, and resolve all issues and disputes that may result therefrom. PLUS, it will organize, reorganize and fully establish the Federal Government and the governments of the Federated Regions, in accordance with this constitution; and exercise all powers necessary and proper to ensure a smooth, speedy and successful transition.

This transition plan that the FTC is responsible for will include the respective transition plans for the different branches of the Federal Government, the Independent Constitutional Bodies, the Federated Regions and other component units; plus the fiscal management and administration plan, which includes, but is not limited to, resource generation appropriation, allocation and expenditures.

Then, almost as an afterthought, it would also include the establishment of mechanisms for people’s participation in the transition. Gee, thanks.

This power goes on until June 30, 2022, when the first national, regional and local elections will have taken place, and our first elected leaders under the new constitution take over.

Bottom line: As soon as the new constitution is ratified, President Duterte, as chair of the FTC, has unlimited powers—to hire, fire, organize, reorganize, determine what will be the states that constitute the federal system, and how these states will themselves transition. For at least three years. Of course, by election time, he will have set the stage for his own election as president for the next eight years.

Remember the transitory provisions that gave Marcos dictatorial powers? This is the very same thing. There is a term for it: constitutional authoritarianism. This is what Mr. Duterte must have had in mind when he talked of a revolutionary government.

Well, he’s got what he wanted. If the people give it to him, that is.

solita_monsod@yahoo.com

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/114431/draft-constitution-afraid#ixzz5KYFoeULg
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Thais fear ‘no chance’ of more survivors from tourist boat, nearly 60 may be dead — “lax enforcement of basic safety measures”

July 6, 2018

Thai rescuers deployed helicopters on Friday in a search for 29 people missing after the sinking of a boat carrying Chinese tourists, with one official saying he feared “no chance” of any more survivors, which would mean a death toll of nearly 60.

The confirmed death toll from the accident off the resort island of Phuket stood at 27, but the navy said divers had spotted “quite a few bodies” in the sunken vessel, the Phoenix.

The boat capsized in rough seas on Thursday with 105 people on board, 93 of them Chinese tourists along with 12 Thai crew and tour guides.

Television broadcast images of dozens of divers searching for the missing, while more rescuers waited on standby at a pier nearby. Seas were calm and skies clear on Friday.

“Right now, officials from the marine police and navy are helping to dive at the spot where the boat sank,” Marine Police said in a statement.

“They are diving to a depth of about 40 meters (130 feet).”

A Marine Department official said there was probably “no chance” any more survivors could be found from inside the boat.

“A day and a night has passed,” said the department’s deputy director-general, Kritpetch Chaichuay.

Thailand is in the middle of its rainy season, which usually runs from May to October, and often generates high winds and flash storms in coastal areas, especially on its west coast on the Indian Ocean, where Phuket is located.

Rescued people in life jackets sit on a fishing boat after a boat they were travelling in capsized off Phuket

Rescued people in life jackets sit on a fishing boat after a boat they were travelling in capsized off Phuket ( REUTERS )

Police are investigating the incident. The boat, which went down about 7 km (5 miles) from shore, was properly registered and had not been overloaded, police said.

Tourist Police bureau deputy chief, Major General Surachate Hakparn, said in a post on Facebook tour operators had been warned about the severe weather.

“Be careful … nature is not a joke,” Surachate wrote.

Thai Rescue workers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher, after a boat capsized off the tourist island of Phuket, Thailand, July 6, 2018. Sooppharoek Teepapan, Reuters

“The Tourist Police warned businesses in Phuket already to not take boats out from shore, but they violated this order by taking foreign tourists out,” he said.

Media identified the operator of the boat as TC Blue Dream. Reuters could not find a contact number for that name.

‘CLOSE ATTENTION’

Thailand has a poor record on road and boat safety. Many tour operators have complained about lax enforcement of basic safety measures, such as seatbelts in cars and lifejackets on boats.

Another boat sailing in the same area also capsized on Thursday but all 35 tourists, five crew and a guide on board were rescued, the Water Safety Department of the Harbour Department said.

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok said it had asked the Thai government to make all-out rescue efforts, and had sent a team to Phuket to help.

Chinese consulate staff in southern Thailand were on the scene helping its citizens, it said.

Chinese tourists make up the biggest number of foreign visitors to Thailand, their numbers surging in recent years, drawn by the growing popularity of the southeast Asian nation’s islands.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said China’s top leaders, including President Xi Jinping, were paying close attention to the incident.

“China expresses gratitude for the active search and rescue efforts made by Thailand,” the spokesman, Lu Kang, told a regular briefing.

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Additional reporting by Gao Liangping, Christian Shepherd and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Neil Fullick, Clarence Fernandez

Reuters

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Facebook apologizes for map that violates Vietnam’s sovereignty

July 6, 2018
Facebook apologizes for map that violates Vietnam's sovereignty

Facebook said it remains neutral on territorial disputes and thus its map now does not include Paracel and Spratly Islands as either part of China or Vietnam.

Faulty map showing Paracel and Spratly Islands as part of China was stated to be a technical error.

Facebook has issued an apology to its Vietnamese users for an incident involving a wrongful depiction of the country’s sovereignty on a map used by the company.

In a press release issued Thursday, the social networking giant said that the issue with a map used for the Facebook advertising tool was a technical error and a patch to fix it was being deployed globally.

Facebook then apologized for the mistake and said that the company had explained itself to the Vietnamese government and fixed the issue as requested.

The mistake was discovered after Vietnamese users using Facebook’s advertising tool found that the tool’s map did not include Paracel (Hoang Sa) and Spratly (Truong Sa) Islands as part of Vietnam.

The map however showed the islands as part of China, and a live version of the map displayed the name “Sansha” over the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea. “Sansha” is the name of a city China unilaterally established in the disputed waters that includes Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly Islands, as well as the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.

These wrongful depictions of Vietnam’s sovereignty reportedly outraged many people in Vietnam, where Facebook is the most popular network with more than 58 million active accounts.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications then issued a request for Facebook to take immediate actions to correct the map last Sunday, prompting the social networking giant to patch it on Monday.

In a statement on the fix issued Tuesday, Facebook said it had removed the wrongful depictions of the islands and the mention of “Sansha.” As the company said it remains neutral on territorial disputes, the islands were completely removed from the map instead of being added to Vietnam.

Facebook also stated that all its maps were provided by third-party companies such as OpenStreetMap and HERE Maps.

Vietnam has consistently affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has been illegally occupying a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands since 1988.

https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/facebook-apologizes-for-map-that-violates-vietnam-s-sovereignty-3773640.html

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Chinese military assets in the South China Sea. 

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Vietnamese Anti-China protesters hold placards which read ‘The country will not forget – Johnson South Reef – 14th March, 1988’ during a gathering to mark the 28th anniversary of the Spratly Islands clashes between Vietnam and China at a public park in Hanoi March 14, 2016.

REUTERS/KHAM

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