Friday, 25 July 2014

Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 And The



So another plane comes out of the sky, this time turning a 9-mile stretch in Ukraine into a sad and terrible and bloody battlefield, now that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile and nearly 300 people die. Now Vladimir Putin’s grubby war in Ukraine becomes everybody’s.

This is an act of terrorism and an insane act of war at the same time, not so long after a military cargo plane is shot down in this same area. So there are more families who will suffer what the families of Pan Am 103 suffered more than a quarter-century ago. It was Libyan terrorists responsible for blowing that plane out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland.

That was a day, of course, all the way back in 1988, when we began to fully comprehend the danger and scope and randomness of a terrorist world, of wars that we now know have no borders, or decency, or humanity.

And no end.

That day, it was so many college kids from our country on that Pan Am plane, 35 of them from Syracuse University alone, coming home from spending time abroad. On Thursday, it was people on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, before a missile hit them 33,000 feet over a country that has become the home of senseless death and ongoing civil war, in large part due to a dangerous dictator — what else is he? — like Putin in the country next door.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's war with Ukraine has now become everybody's war.


The 777, a great big jumbo jet, goes down about 25 miles from the border of Putin’s Russia, not the sanitized, smiley-face television Russia of the Sochi Olympics, but the Russia where Putin thinks he takes whatever he wants from a neighboring country in the name of his own weird, bug-eyed ambition, and finds enough rebels to support that ambition, no matter what the cost.

Now just over the border from Russia, we get another Lockerbie, a missile doing the job of mass murder this time instead of a bomb, the whole thing immediately described by the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, as “a terrorist act.” This time a Malaysia Airlines flight does not disappear or become some kind of ghost ship, it becomes the terrible pictures that the world began to see on Thursday afternoon.

When I heard about the plane going down on Thursday, I sent an email to my friend Brian Flynn, whose own life was informed by Pan Am 103 because his kid brother was on it, a brother who would be 47 years old today, a kid from Colgate University in 1988 who had been experiencing the excitement and adventure of studying abroad for a little while.

I said to Brian Flynn in the email that now more families will go through what his family went through, when his mother got the phone call from her husband that day and he had to tell her that their son’s plane had crashed in Lockerbie.
CROWN OFFICE/EPAAbdelbaset Ali Mohammed Al Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing that took place on Dec. 21 1988.

“If Russian-backed Ukrainian rebels targeted civilians, they are terrorists,” Brian Flynn said early in the day.

Now the world waits to find out if these pro-Russian and pro-Putin rebels actually believe, in some jihad way, that they can treat commercial airliners filled with innocent people, no differently than the military aircraft they now routinely shoot down.

“You can see,” Brian Flynn said on Thursday, “why the rebels are trying to distance themselves from this and fast.”

He has never given up on the day that took his brother from him. He worked as a vice president for Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and went after Pan Am on willful misconduct before that airline went out of business and fought long and hard across the years for sanctions against Libya, and for the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act.
The reconstructed remains of Pan Am flight 103 lie in a warehouse on Jan. 15, 2008 in Farnborough, England.

You would say that another plane coming out of the sky, perhaps shot out of the sky, brings it all back, the loss of his brother J.P. But the pain and loss has never left Brian Flynn.

“There will never be closure,” he has always told me. “It always hangs in your life.”

In his life the capital of pain and loss and what-might-have-been was Lockerbie. In the lives of the family members of those just flying from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, it will always be eastern Ukraine, where military aircraft have been downed recently, brought down because of a dirty little war.

Now the downed airliner is Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, origin the Netherlands. We wait to be told from which side of the Russian-Ukraine border the missile was fired. Maybe, and most likely, our government already knows. Before, this was Putin’s war. Now it is everyone’s.
Posted on 14:57 | Categories:

Friday, 18 July 2014

#MH17 crash: No distress call from downed plane

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has confirmed that the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 which went down in Eastern Ukraine did not give out a distress call.

He said the flight route was declared safe by International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Air Transport Association stated that the airspace MH17 was traversing was not subject to restrictions.

He said that Ukranian authorities believed that the plane was shot down but that Malaysia was unable to verify this at this moment.
“If it is confirmed that the plane is shot down, then the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he told a press conference at the Sama Sama hotel in Sepang.

Najib said that he has talked to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko who pledged a full, thorough investigation into the incident.

He said that the Ukranian president had confirmed negotiations with rebels for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

Najib also confirmed that he had spoken to US President Obama and they had agreed that an international team should have full access to the crash site, and that no one was to move any debris including the black box.

“This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia. The flight's passengers were from many nations but we are all united in grief,’ said Najib.

Flight MH17 disappeared from radar screens in eastern Ukraine at around 1415 GMT, hours after the Boeing 777, bound for Kuala Lumpur, had taken off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Posted on 09:11 | Categories:

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Five killed as helicopter crashes in S. Korean city

SEOUL  (AFP): A fire department helicopter crashed Thursday near an elementary school in a residential district of the South Korean city of Gwangju, killing five people on board, officials said.

There were no reported fatalities on the ground, but one high school student was injured by flying debris when the helicopter crashed shortly before 11:00 am (0200 GMT), narrowly missing nearby apartment blocks in the southern city.

Yonhap news agency said the crew were returning from a mission to help in the search for missing victims of April's ferry disaster off the southern coast.

"Five people were on board and all are presumed dead," local fire chief Moon Ki-Shik told reporters at the scene, adding that the cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Television footage showed the wreckage burning by the side of a main road.

The aircraft was identified as a Eurocopter Dauphin 2, a twin-engine chopper produced by Airbus Helicopters. - AFP

TheStar

Posted on 13:27 | Categories:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Marine cops determined to get justice for their mates

The slaying of marine police Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan and the abduction of Kons Zakiah Aliep have left their colleagues seething and determined to bring the attackers to justice.

They believe the attack on the marine police unit at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort late on Saturday was a retaliation against Malaysian security forces and are willing to go all out to rescue Kons Zakiah.

“We just want to bring him home. This incident has been a painful experience for us,” said a marine police personnel, a friend of Kons Zakiah and the late Kpl Abdul Rajah.

He believed Kpl Abdul Rajah and Kons Zakiah had no time to retaliate when the gunmen attacked them as they were having their meal at the resort’s restaurant.

The colleague described Kpl Abdul Rajah as friendly while Kons Zakiah was the more quiet and religious one.

“He would try to perform his solat five times a day wherever he was, whether it was on the boat or even on a wooden walkway at a kampung,” he said.

The attack on Pulau Mabul came several days after seven masked gunmen failed in their bid to stage a kidnapping at a fish farm off Kampung Bangau Bangau in Semporna.

The gunmen could not find the farm’s owner and manager who had started to live on the mainland following a spate of kidnappings.

In a related development, Kons Zakiah’s wife Sharifah Erna Berson has moved in with her in-laws to wait for her husband’s return.

Her neighbour said Sharifah Erna and her four-month-old son Muhammad Hisham had moved out of house at Taman Nilam here to stay with her in-laws in Tuaran.

“She told us she wanted to be with Kons Zakiah’s parents as she felt better there while waiting for her husband,” said the neighbour.

A former hostage who was taken by Abu Sayyaf gunmen from Sipadan in 2000 said the kidnappers would usually not harm their hostages as they were considered as valuable commodities.

However, there are fears that Kons Zakiah might be treated badly as he is a policeman.

The former hostage, however, believed Kons Zakiah would be well treated as he would most likely be able to speak in either the Bajau or Suluk dialect with them.

“From my experience, these people will not hurt their captives if they do not try to fight or run away,” said the man who spent six months in the southern Jolo island.

He said captives were kept in areas close to villages and were guarded by at least 30 or 40 armed men and occasionally threatened when family members did not respond imme­diately to their demands.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Mabul attack: Slain cop buried with full honours

Slain Marine Police Kpl Abdul Rajah Jemuan was buried with full honours at the Muslim cemetery near his home village of Kampung Bubul, about six kilometres from this Sabah east coast town, Monday morning.

His widow Salamah Ahmad and parents Jamuan Ajuan and Kamsiah Indaman were present along with Sabah Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Malek Harun.

Kpl Abdul Rajah, 32, was killed when eight gunmen attacked a Marine Police team at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort late Saturday.

Another Marine Police personnel, Kons Zakiah Aleip, was reported missing following the 11pm incident.

TheStar

Posted on 15:47 | Categories:

Friday, 11 July 2014

Israel presses on with Gaza offensive, Palestinians fire rockets

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel pressed on for a fourth day on Friday with its Gaza offensive, striking the Hamas-dominated enclave from air and sea, as Palestinian militants kept up rocket attacks deep into the Jewish state.

At least 82 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the offensive, which Israel says it launched to end persistent rocket attacks on its civilian population, some of which have reached Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities.

Israeli leaders have appeared to hint at a possible invasion by ground forces and some 20,000 army reservists have been mobilised, giving them the means, if they choose, to mount a land offensive.

Gaza medical officials said four people were killed in Israeli pre-dawn attacks. The Israeli military said fresh naval and air strikes were launched early, but a spokeswoman gave no further details.

An air strike on a house in Gaza City killed a man described by officials as a doctor and pharmacist. Medics and residents said an Israeli aircraft bombed a three-storey house in the southern town of Rafah, killing three people.

The Palestinians said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Rafah, naval forces sent shells into a security compound in Gaza City and aircraft bombed positions near the borders with Egypt and Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement on Thursday: "So far the battle is progressing as planned, but we can expect further stages in future. Up to now, we have hit Hamas and the terror organisations hard and as the battle continues we will increase strikes at them."

Netanyahu discussed options with his security cabinet as new air strikes were launched and officials hinted at a ground offensive. There was no word on when or if this might happen.

The last time they undertook such an offensive was in early 2009. Ground troops did not cross into the Strip, one of the world's most densely populated territories, during the last major exchange of rockets and missiles in October 2012.

"We have long days of fighting ahead of us," Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri sounded a defiant note, when asked about Yaalon's remarks. "Our backs are to the wall and we have nothing to lose," he said. "We are ready to battle until the end."

The Israeli military said more than 470 projectiles have been fired at Israel since Tuesday by Islamist Hamas, the dominant force in Gaza, and by other militant groups.

The salvoes have caused no fatalities or serious injuries, due in part to interception by Israel's partly-U.S. funded Iron Dome aerial defence system.

Some rockets have landed more than 100 km (60 miles) from Gaza. Sirens sounded as far north as the Israeli city of Haifa on Friday, though police said no remnants of rockets, which Hamas said it had fired, were found.

CHILDREN AMONG THE DEAD

Medical officials in Gaza said at least 60 civilians, including a four-year-old girl and a boy of five killed on Thursday, were among the 82 Palestinians who have died since the offensive began on Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Netanyahu by telephone on Thursday that the United States was willing to help negotiate a ceasefire, the White House said.

French President Francois Hollande voiced his concern at the civilian deaths and called for a truce. A spokeswoman for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who like Hollande spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: "Nobody wants to see a ground invasion."

Kerry spoke to his Egyptian counterpart in an attempt to get Egypt to use its influence to calm the situation, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Kerry, she said, had also "reached out" to Qatar.

Cairo brokered a truce in the 2012 conflict, but the current military government's hostility towards Hamas could make mediation more difficult.

The Israeli offensive followed a build-up in violence after three Israeli students were killed in the occupied West Bank last month and a Palestinian youth was killed in a suspected revenge attack in Jerusalem.

Israel says it has struck more than 860 targets in Gaza. Palestinian rocket fire escalated after Israeli forces arrested hundreds of Hamas activists in the West Bank while searching for the youths, whom Israel said were abducted and killed by Hamas.

Israel's targets have included militant commanders' homes, which it described as command and control centres. Palestinian officials put the number of dwellings destroyed or damaged at more than 120. Residents said some of the houses did not belong to fighters.

Owners of some of the targeted homes received telephoned warnings from Israel to get out. In other cases, so-called "knock-on-the-door" missiles, which do not carry explosive warheads, were first fired as a signal to evacuate. Scenes of families fleeing their homes have played out daily.

Residents said in Friday's attack in Rafah no warning was issued and the victims were asleep when their house was bombed.

U.S.-backed Abbas, who is based in the West Bank and entered a power-sharing deal with Hamas in April after years of feuding, has denounced the Israeli offensive.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Ron Popeski)

TheStar

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Teen to be sent to Welfare Dept

Malnourished teenage boy Muhammad Firdaus Dullah who is being warded at the Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital in Seremban will be discharged later this week.

The 15-year-old boy will be placed under the custody of the Welfare Department.

“We are putting him in our institution until his mother’s court case is settled. He will be celebrating Hari Raya with us,” said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim yesterday.

She also said Muhammad Firdaus’ mother Lolanopita Sadi was free to visit her son.

“In fact, she visited Muhammad Firdaus at the hospital after she was released on bail last week.

“The boy’s family members are also welcomed to visit him,” she told newsmen after a meeting with MIC leaders led by vice-president Datuk M. Savaranan on skills training programme for female youths.

Muhammad Firdaus was found neglected and malnourished inside a flat in Nilai recently by immigration officers who were making checks to weed out illegal immigrants last month.

On the controversy about soup kitchens feeding the homeless, Rohani said she was informed that there would be a meeting between Federal Territories Minister Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and the non-governmental organisations today.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall has banned soup kitchens from operating within a 2km radius of the city centre.

TheStar
Posted on 11:23 | Categories:

Friday, 4 July 2014

Girl, 2, is latest Japanese Encephalitis victim

GEORGE TOWN: SALASIAH Chik is a very worried grandmother as one of her granddaugters is down with Japanese Encephalitis (JE).

Fortunately, 29-month-old Norain Nasuha Mohd Shukri, Penang’s latest and third JE victim, is recovering from the mosquito- borne disease.

However, Salasiah, is worried that her granddaughter would suffer a similar fate as Muhammad Ammar Muqrish Zulkifli, who was diagnosed with JE in May.

Ammar, 12, from Kampung Selamat in Tasek Gelugor, has recovered but is suffering from complications caused by JE. They include fever, seizures and slight brain damage.

“Yes, I am worried for my granddaughter,” said Salasiah, 72, at her house in Bagan Jermal, Butterworth, yesterday.

Relating her ordeal, she said Norain’s parents admitted her to Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani, Kedah, on June 13 after she failed to recover from a prolonged fever.

“We were worried she could be infected by dengue and were devastated when Norain was diagnosed with JE by Penang Hospital doctors.”

Norain’s parents declined to talk to the press when met at Penang Hospital.

Meanwhile, state Health Department director Datuk Dr Lailanor Ibrahim said the toddler was undergoing rehabilitative treatment, including physiotherapy, and was responding well to treatment.

He said Norain was confirmed positive with JE last Tuesday, 11 days after her parents admitted her for severe nausea and fever.

He said health inspectors had started investigations on possible causes for the latest JE case, considering the area where the toddler lives with her parents was a well-maintained neighbourhood in Bagan Jermal, near Butterworth.

Dr Lailanor said the department had never tried to hide JE cases from the public.

He said it was standard operating procedure for the department to ascertain cases before sharing information with the public.

“This is our practice,” he said, when asked to comment on state Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin’s complaint that the Health Ministry had failed to inform the state authorities on the three JE cases detected in the state.

On Wednesday, Dr Afif claimed that the state authorities were only aware of the JE detected on a 12-year-old pupil from the media.

Dr Afifi also claimed that the state Veterinary Department was kept in the dark until the case was reported by the press.

Dr Lalianor said the department was merely acting according to standard practices and was not hiding any information.

He said the dissemination of information on serious cases, including JE, must be properly handled to avoid unnecessary anxiety and fear among the public.

“We are not hiding any information. However, with sensitive information like this we will wait for the ministry to make the announcement.

NST

Results of blood tests on pigs out today. #JE

Veterinary Services Department officers have taken 181 blood samples from 20 piggeries in Kampung Selamat, Seberang Prai, Penang, where the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus was detected.

Its director-general, Datuk Dr Mohamad Azmie Zakaria, said the samples had been sent to the Veterinary Research Institute in Ipoh, and the results were expected to be made known today.

The blood sampling taken on Tuesday involved the deployment of 10 teams, comprising 40 workers.

“As a precautionary measure, pig farms that tested positive for JE will be quarantined and the livestock will not be allowed to leave the farms,” he said at Wisma Tani yesterday.

He said about 199 pig farms in Penang and 542 pig farms in other states were also under surveillance.

Other farms in Seberang Prai, including those that bred bovine and poultry livestock would be also monitored.

Dr Azmie reminded pig farmers to ensure proper cleanliness and sanitation in their compounds to prevent the mosquito-borne disease from spreading the virus to the public.

He said under Section 31 of the Animal (Amendment) Act 2013, farmers could be fined up to RM25,000 for failing to report clinical signs of JE on their livestock to the department.

The piggery operators were also asked to report clinical symptoms of JE displayed by their workers to the nearest hospital.

Penang’s latest and third Japanese Encephalitis (JE) victim, a 29-month-old toddler, was yesterday reported to be out of danger.

Norain Nasuha Mohd Shukri, 29-month-old, tested positive for JE last Tuesday, 11 days after her parents admitted her for serious nausea and fever.

JE is a Culex mosquito-borne disease. It spreads through bites and animals, including pigs and herons.

Penang’s second JE case involved a 12-year-old boy who lives in Kampung Selamat, Tasek Gelugor.

Muhammad Ammar Muqrish Zulkifli was believed to have contracted the disease while camping near his school, located about 2km away from the state’s biggest pig farms which house 84 piggeries. He was confirmed positive for JE on May 23.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

SUPER TERRORIST BORN AND BRED IN MALAYSIA

Most politicians make promises to end corruption or to impose a lower tax. But PAS goes further; they promise heaven to anyone who supports them. The words trip off their tongues so easily; vote for PAS, and we will reach the gates of paradise. This kind of con artistry is all pretty harmless, if people vote PAS because they really believe that mere men can grant them paradise then that’s their prerogative. However, it becomes dangerous when PAS uses it’s access card to heaven as a way to recruit members who in turn becomes a terrorist.

 PAS makes lavish promises not because they believe their own promises, but because they crave a loyal and hardcore group of followers. PAS irresponsibly deceives their supporters by promising Heaven to those that unfailingly support them. They create a new class of citizens, a class of citizens, that does not play well with other citizens of Malaysia, they create animosity and dissention between people who normally get along. PAS makes its edicts on a lofty perch where they are the only ones who are correct, they are the perfect Muslims, they are only second to God. So that even if PAS commits a wrong, there is always a valid justification. After all God is never wrong and apparently Nik Aziz is only second to Him. This encouragement of blind hero worship created a group of political supporters that are in a class of their own. The Unit Amal PAS is an example of PAS’ strong following, members of this unit act as police to the PAS members. They are so sure that they are correct that they see themselves tas the law. The laws that apply to you or me are beneath them. They will do anything and everything to protect the party and the leadership in the name of Islam and Jihad.


Being Islamic experts the leaders of PAS must know that what they are doing is wrong, but political greed soothes their conscience. Unfortunately, their followers blindly follow without a second thought that the men that they follow may be leading them to a gruesome end.


These young men come to a stage where they realize that the fighting at home is too bland for their tastes. Street demonstrations and political rallies are not enough to get them into paradise, surely they must have a more dramatic entrance when they reach paradise. That’s when they turn to the more dangerous battlefields of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where war is rife and proving their self worth is easier to attain.  This is where trouble begins


Whilst in Malaysia, these men are brainwashed into thinking that it is their Muslim responsibility to make Malaysia an Islamic state, failure to do so means failure as a Muslim. As long as they stay in Malaysia their efforts are largely political, getting enough people to support PAS so that it legally becomes government one day. However, the restless youth, with the encouragement from PAS leaders, decide to take their Islamic duties a step further and venture off to foreign lands where military life is the norm. In places like Syria and Iraq our once harmless youth are taught militancy strategy and terrorist tactics using military grade weapons. So the combination of PAS brainwashing and foreign military strategy has created a new breed of super terrorists. These super terrorists are born and bred in Malaysia by people who are supposed to be responsible leaders of our nation.

 They encourage the Malaysian youth to leave the safety of their country and family and take up arms in the Middle East. Failure to survive, equals to an abundance of wealth in the after life. Those same people who harmlessly believed that they can enter Paradise with the stroke of a pen come voting time or who believed that they could attain paradise by encouraging other Malaysians to support PAS have become dangerous militants who are out for blood instead of votes.

 And what does PAS do when they see what their words have wrought? They turn their backs and pretend ignorance of the existence of these people. Ustaz Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, a member of PAS, is an example of a PAS promise gone wrong. A member of PAS until recently, Lotfi was promised paradise by PAS if he became a militant. When he inadvertently followed the teachings of PAS, he ended up in Syria, leaving behind his six children to fight for a cause that even he himself is not sure of. Reaching Syria, Lotfi like many people today decided to post his little adventure on Facebook, and it blew up in PAS’ face.

Malaysians were horrified to find out that one of their own was fighting in Syria. It’s a well-known fact that those who commit violence against a mass of people are called terrorists, not jihadists. We were appalled and humiliated that a terrorist was calling himself a Malaysian. While most Malaysians were worrying over the existence of terrorists and the possibility that they will come back to Malaysia and continue terrorism at home, PAS was frantically trying to come up with a plan of action. And the best that they could come up with? Deny, Deny, Deny.

 They encouraged a man to put his life at risk, took a chance that his six children will grow up without a father and without a stable source of income, emboldened normally peaceful folks to become terrorists, but worst of all they have put all our lives in Malaysia at risk. When these PAS terrorists finish with whatever they’re doing in Syria, they will inevitably come home. And do you think they are going to go back and play happy family? Do you think they will be satisfied attending the annual party AGM? No. Their bloodlust will not be satisfied by playing politics. They will pick up where they left off in Syria. They will continue “God’s Work” here in Malaysia and suddenly we are the enemies. Those of us who do not fit their bill of the good Muslim becomes the enemy. Our death is their key to paradise, this is what was promised them by PAS. Where is PAS in all this? Frantically terminating memberships, distancing themselves from the  havoc that they have created.

Insisting that they are a peaceful party, that they have nothing to do with the actions of their members. Pretending offence when people accuse them of creating these terrorists.  Is revoking a membership enough? How can you call yourselves responsible leaders when you cannot take responsibility for the actions of your followers? How can you stand there playing the innocent while your country faces a daunting future that resembles the fate of those in Syria and Iraq?

Source : ushainfo

Major reshuffle at #Esscom

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) is set to be revamped in a major reshuffle to strengthen security in the state’s east coast.

The move expected over the next few days is likely to see changes in several top positions including that of director-general Datuk Mohammad Mentek in the fledgling 14-month old security body set up following the Sulu intrusion of Kg Tanduo in Lahad Datu, said sources.

“The move will see uniformed security personnel working independently in carrying out operations,” the sources said, adding that current director of operations Datuk Deputy Comm Abdul Rashid Harun will be put in charge of all operations.

They said that the operations would be carried out without the need to inform or consult the director-general under a structure to reinforce security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).

According to the sources, they expect Mohammad to be moved out in the revamp as the position of Esscom director-general (or chief executive officer) was being downgraded from Jusa B (Jawatan Utama Sektor Awam or Public Service Premier Post) to Jusa C.

“This would mean a Jusa C officer would hold the position as Mohammad was a Jusa B officer,” the sources explained.

Similarly they said that the positions of the three directors from the police and Armed Forces which was held by “three star” generals was likely to be held by a “two-star” generals in the downgrading of ranks under the revamp.

It could not be immediately ascertained where Mohammad, a former Sabah Immigration Department director, will be moved to or how many of the Esscom directors would be changed.

Esscom has been under public scrutiny following three cross border kidnappings in Semporna, Lahad Datu and Kunak.

Last week’s special operations by Bukit Aman in Kunak where five suspected Sulu militants including a police and army corporal were arrested also raised concerns over continuing security threats in Sabah’s east coast.

Changes were also being seen in Sabah police with Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman taking over from Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib who was moved to police deputy director of commercial crimes on June 30.

Sabah CID chief Senior Asst Comm Omar Mammah has been moved to become Chief Assistant Director of the Bukit Aman Crime Prevention Department in changes announced by Bukit Aman.

TheStar

Posted on 14:30 | Categories:

Police hunt for suspected militants

A former Universiti Malaya lecturer is among five suspected militants hunted down by police believed to be linked to the middle-eastern terror group Isil and Abu Sayyaf.

Former lecturer Dr Mahmud Ahmad and stationery shop owner Mohd Najib Husen, both 36, are believed to be leaders in the local militant group that is training and sending members to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Sources said the authorities believed that the two men recruited and arranged for four Malaysians to be sent to Syria on March 5 this year, including Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, the first Malaysian suicide bomber.

“They were also responsible for arranging meetings between foreign and local militant leaders at a safe house in Shah Alam since late last year,” a source said.

It is believed that the meetings were to establish a Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara (South-East Asia Islamiyah network).

The sources said that Dr Mahmud, also known as Abu Handzalah, from Batu Caves, Selangor, underwent training at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, while he was studying at the Islamabad Islamic University in Pakistan.

The third member being sought is former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39, also known as Abu Nur.

“He is a spiritual leader of the group which spreads militant teachings and encourages Malaysians to fight in Syria,” a source said.

The two other wanted men are Darul Islam Sabah members Mohd Amin Baco, 31, and Jeknal Adil, 30, both from Tawau.

Sources revealed that both men had undergone training with Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines since 2005.

Police believe that Mohd Amin was involved in the brutal killing of five people in southern Phi­lippines in 2011, the video of which went viral on Youtube.

Mohd Amin and Jeknal are also suspected of kidnapping two swiftlet breeders at Felda Sahabat 15 in Lahad Datu on Nov 12, 2012, the sources said.

Jeknal was held under the Internal Security Act from May 11, 2006 until May 10, 2010 in Kamunting, Perak.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the five are believed to be hiding in southern Philippines.

Khalid urged anyone with information to contact the nearest police station or the Bukit Aman Counter Terrorism Divi­sion at 03-2266 7010 or 011-2104 6850.

Those with information can also e-mail the police at CTD.E8M@gmail.com, he said.

TheStar

Posted on 11:18 | Categories:

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Macau scam ring busted in JB

Police uncovered an international syndicate involved in a “Macau scam” with the arrest of two Taiwanese nationals at a hotel in Kluang.

The syndicate is believed to have been active for the past several months. They even rented 22 rooms at the hotel that were turned into their call centre for their illegal activities.

The group is believed to have raked in millions of ringgit by targeting locals as well as foreigners living abroad.

Johor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the duo, aged between 24 and 25 years, were detained at the hotel at around 11.30pm last Saturday.

“The suspects will call up victims while posing as bank officers or a Taiwanese Government official by using the Voice Over Internet Protocol (Voip),” he explained at a press conference at the state police headquarters here yesterday.

“The syndicate would then inform their victims that he or she has been found to be involved in money laundering and their accounts have to be closed,” he added.

SDCP Mohd Mokhtar said the suspects would then instruct their victims to transfer their money into another account.

“Voip will display the actual phone number of banks and government departments and offices on the receiver’s mobile phones, making it easy for syndicates to dupe their victims,” he said.

SDCP Mohd Mokhtar said, among the items police seized were 47 modems, 16 wireless phones, six laptops, four mobile broadband devices, four ATM cards, three printers, two mobile phones, an earplug and an Internet transaction unit.

He said police were now looking for another Taiwanese national Ling Jun Hong, 35.

“He is believed to be the mastermind behind the syndicate,” said SDCP Mohd Mokhtar, adding that police would be contacting their counterpart in Macau soon.

He said the suspects were being remanded to assist with the investigations under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating and urged victims to contact the state police hotline at 07-2212 999.

SCDP Mohd Mokhtar also urged the public not to fall for such scams. “Always verify if the caller is indeed calling from a bank or from the government department,” he said.

Posted on 14:00 | Categories:

Rizalman a staff assistant at high commission in New Zealand

Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, 38, worked as a staff assistant (defence) at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand, for the past year.

According to an official from the Defence Ministry, a staff assistant (defence) in a Malaysian mission overseas is generally assigned to defence duties pertaining to the embassy or high commission.

“He reports to the defence ­attache, and his job is to assist in managing security on the property of the mission, which is considered sovereign land.

“However, the job scope comprises mostly administrative work, such as handling visitor entry/exit logs and other relevant paperwork,” he said when contacted.

Muhammad Rizalman’s Facebook page states that he moved to New Zealand’s capital city with his wife and three children in October last year.

This was his first overseas posting.

He is ranked Second Warrant Officer in the Malaysian Armed Forces.

Servicemen with this rank are rank-and-file personnel and have to be promoted to First Warrant Officer followed by Officer Cadet before they are considered ­officers.

A Warrant Officer 2 is above Staff Sergeant in rank.

TheStar
Posted on 10:23 | Categories:

Monday, 16 June 2014

A New Cold War?

By Barry Desker

Synopsis

The growing tensions around the world, including in East and Southeast Asia, are reminiscent of the old power play between the great powers. Are we headed towards a new Cold War?
Commentary
THE ANNUAL Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore at the end of May saw sharp exchanges pitting delegates from the United States and Japan against those from China over the rival claims of Japan and China in the East China Sea. Vietnamese, Philippine and American participants also criticised China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, European representatives clashed with Russian delegates on the impact of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and Moscow’s support for breakaway groups in eastern Ukraine. The mood was confrontational, especially in smaller informal discussions.

Like the old Cold War

The atmosphere reminded me of debates on regional and global issues in the early 1980s, when I served as a Singapore diplomat at the United Nations. The rhetoric was that of the Cold War and raised the question whether the world was headed for a new cold war, or even the outbreak of hostilities.   

Singapore is not a party to any of the territorial claims, and has sought to expand its ties with all the key states. Nevertheless, our role as a hub of globalisation with trading and economic interests globally necessitates that Singapore remains alert to these developments. Like most people around the world, Singaporeans presume that policymakers can manage conflicts and will avoid going beyond the brink when confrontations occur.

But there may be a misplaced sense that the global institutions established since the Second World War can handle these conflicts. Singapore may be the victim of over-confidence. Could Asia in 2014 be facing a challenge similar to Europe in 1914?   

In 1914, most governments in Europe thought that the conflict in the Balkans could be managed and that the peace among the major powers that had lasted since the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 would continue. It was an age of globalisation, with rapid economic growth transforming the lives of many in Europe and America. Instant telegraph communications, efficient rail and sea links and more open economies resulted in greater inter-dependence.

Many observers felt that the spectre of war had been banished as the peoples of Europe were increasingly mobile and inter-connected. Even when war did break out after the assassination of the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo, governments expected a short, swift war.

Strategic convergence between Russia and China

No one thought that the next four years would see trench warfare, where thousands died to defend or seize inconsequential pockets of territory. Male populations throughout Europe were decimated, states were impoverished and long-established regimes were overthrown.

By the end of 1918, the Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian empires had collapsed, the victorious Allied powers faced the Soviet Union. The United States also emerged unchallenged as the pre-eminent global power, even though domestic opinion in America favoured a retreat from conflicts outside America's sphere of influence in its hemisphere.

The 1917 Russian Revolution also influenced intellectuals and workers around the world with the power of an idea - the belief that proletarian revolution represented the wave of the future, whose triumph in China in 1949 led to the emergence of the People's Republic of China. Although this idea is discredited today, it played a role in the key conflicts and political developments in the 20th century until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

Today’s rising China has been the beneficiary of more than three decades of economic growth which has transformed the country.   

While China strenuously insists that it does not wish to exercise hegemony, and that it seeks a peaceful rise, power transitions have generally resulted in conflict between the dominant power and the rising power.   

The successful conclusion of the territorial boundary negotiations between China and Russia, growing trade, energy and investment links between the two countries and a shared perception that they are being targeted by the resurgent West have led to an increasing alignment between these two powers. This has occurred even as China’s key economic linkages today are with the West and states in its immediate neighbourhood which also have strong links with the West.

Greatest threat: East China Sea

The greatest threat is posed by competing territorial claims in the East China Sea, especially between China and Japan. This is because they are wrapped in a larger dispute over Japan’s lack of contrition for its role in the Second World War. There is also the risk of a wider conflict here because of American support for its alliance partner Japan. Strong economic ties should not lead us to discount the dangers posed by increasing security competition.   

Any Chinese decision to unilaterally enforce its jurisdiction over its extensive claims in the South China Sea, however, will primarily be challenged by relatively weak Southeast Asian states. While ASEAN has called for the speedy conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, the claimants, including China, have been changing the facts on the ground by occupying land features, reclaiming reefs and undertaking drilling for oil and gas in disputed waters.  

Singapore has no direct interest in these competing claims. However, as a sea and air hub, freedom of navigation and overflight are crucial. Singapore’s interests lie in supporting the peaceful settlement of these disputes through international legal tribunals, just as Malaysia and Singapore did in the case of Pedra Branca.

The writer is Dean, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. This appeared earlier in The Straits Times.

Posted on 09:30 | Categories:

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A curfew - but there are few soldiers

The situation in the Thai capital is pretty normal except for the military-imposed curfew. Hotels have slashed room rates, it’s cheaper to shop now and there are still more traffic jams than soldiers in the streets.

THAILAND’s police general Adul Saengsingkaew arrived at the Wat That Thong in Ekamai, Bangkok, on Saturday evening to attend the wake of the 101-year-old mother of the country’s most famous journalist, Suthichai Yoon.

The political, business and media elite of Bangkok had showed up in full force to offer their condolences to the boss of the powerful Nation Media Group. Almost everyone came in dark suits and ties, making the ceremony very formal.

But just after 20 minutes, Adul, looking distressed, asked to be excused as he quietly made his way out of the temple.

We found out, not long later, that he had been sacked by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which now runs the country.

The army has taken over the country, imposed martial law, suspended the constitution and the Senate, detained over 200 squabbling politicians from both sides, including former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and imposed a curfew between 10pm and 5am.

Events are happening fast and furious in Bangkok.

Just last week, Adul was seen seated with army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha at a press conference to announce the coup but now he has been moved to an inactive post in the Prime Minister’s Office, before he retires soon.

Also axed were Tarit Pengdith, the head of the Department of Special Investigation, and Nipat Thonglek, the Defence Ministry’s permanent secretary. Both men had been seen as loyalists of the ousted government and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Nineteen editors of the country’s top media group were summoned by the military on Sunday for “an advice on national building” and “direction of news reporting in an abnormal situation”.

In short, they were told of their limits.

On Saturday night, The Nation reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk was told to meet the military junta, and when he showed up, he was immediately detained and taken to an undisclosed army base.

The outspoken columnist had posed for photographers with his mouth taped to symbolise he was being silenced. Apparently, that did not amuse the army generals.

At The Nation office, this writer saw two soldiers, looking bored, inside the television monitor room where the visual feeds were sent in.

Still, media rules have begun to be relaxed.

The NCPO has allowed free-to-air television channels, radio and satellite stations and cable operators to broadcast normally after the situation returns to normal. Earlier, even MTV Thailand and cartoon shows from cable TV were banned.

Despite the dramatic coverage by the media on the military and sporadic anti-coup protests, the reality is that it is actually difficult to detect the presence of soldiers.

The Victory Monument in Ratchathewi district is a popular spot for demonstrations while another protest took place outside the stylish Amarin Plaza in Ratchaprasong.

But during the weekend I was there, there was continuous presence of the army outside the famous Mah Boon Krong (MBK) shopping mall, as it is regarded as a strategic location.

The presence of the men in uniform, however, seems to have sparked off more excitement than fear for tourists.

But don’t expect to see soldiers in every street corner, as the media would want you to believe.

It is regrettable that Bangkok has been made to look like a city under siege when the reality is the opposite, especially in the day time, where traffic jams are still a daily affair.

Most hotels have slashed their rates and placed guests on certain floors to cut down on power use. Essentially, this is the best time for bargain hunters to go shopping in Bangkok. Hotel guests have found themselves getting upgraded to better rooms.

While most city folk respect the curfew, with most eateries in shopping malls shutting down at 8pm to enable their workers to return home, the rules are generally pretty relaxed as it is not a “shoot on sight” curfew.

Outside the near-deserted Dusit Thani hotel in Silom, most of the bars were still open, even when the curfew began, and my colleagues still got to watch the Thomas Cup final.

But one thing is for sure – most Thais expect the army to be in control for a while with a new PM to be appointed soon, but it’s the generals who will be calling the shots.

TheStar

Monday, 19 May 2014

Securing US Influence in Asia Pacific: The Military Angle



PRESIDENT OBAMA’s recent tour of Asia was an attempt by the United States to reassure its allies in the Asia Pacific region that the rebalance strategy remains a priority. Although economic and diplomatic domains of the pivot continue to dominate discussions, one cannot ignore the military aspects of the pivot.   

This consists of two distinct but related pillars: The first is developing the Air Sea Battle (ASB) capabilities of the US to offset China’s Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2/AD) threat. The second is forming closer military relations with key allies in the Asia Pacific region.

Developing the Air Sea Battle concept

The ability of the US to project its armed forces far from its shores and then to be able to sustain them while they fight is unparalleled in military history. The US now worries that this capability could come under increasing threat in the Asia Pacific. China’s rising military expenditure has largely focused on an increasing arsenal of cruise, ballistic, air-to-air and surface to air missiles with improved range and accuracy to be able to strike enemy platforms and bases.

Its A2/AD capabilities are designed to thwart enemy projection of forces and to protect important Chinese targets from sustained attacks. By integrating capabilities of the air, land, naval, space and cyberspace forces, the ASB concept aims to provide US commanders with better ability to project power and sustain operations and thwart the adversary’s A2/AD capabilities in the advent of a war.

The US is developing its force structure in the Asia Pacific accordingly. The USAF has between 43,000-46,000 personnel in the Pacific and has stationed close to 60 per cent of its F-22 Raptor fighter fleet in and around the Pacific theatre. It has also announced that the first basing location for the new multirole F-35 will be in the Pacific.

Under the ASB concept, the USN is expected to assemble a sizable naval force in the Asia Pacific region with 60 per cent of its fleet stationed in the Pacific by 2020. The Navy also plans to acquire a new class of ballistic missile submarines to replace the current Ohio class strategic ballistic missile submarines.
Network of alliances & agreements

The US is rebuilding and strengthening its regional network of alliances that will support its ASB operations across the Asia Pacific. China’s growing assertiveness in the East and South China seas has caused many US allies to deepen their defence and security alliances with Washington.

As a result of bilateral disputes with China, the Philippines is revamping its military. For decades, long-running insurgencies by Muslim and communist groups forced the military to be structured primarily for counterinsurgency operations. While these security threats still exist, the Philippines has been increasingly working with the US to strengthen its navy since the Scarborough Shoal incident with China in early 2012.

Washington sanctioned US$50 million to the Philippines under foreign military aid late last year. The funding, however, comes with a stipulation - it can only be used to improve Philippines’ naval capability, which seriously lags behind that of its major neighbours. An agreement on the US-Philippines defence cooperation, signed during President Obama’s Asia tour, will allow the rotation of 4500 US military personnel and ships and aircrafts throughout the Philippines.

This will allow the US access to bases and will enhance readiness of the Philippine military as a result of joint training. The US Navy SEALs have already conducted training exercises with Filipino personnel on how to use small UAVs at sea – a useful asset to conduct better surveillance in the South China Sea.

Japan’s dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has resulted in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeking to increase Japan’s military power. The government would like to modify Japan’s Constitution, which would remove obstacles to Japan’s use of military force thereby allowing it to fulfil its collective security treaty obligations. Japan has also announced plans for a “Dynamic Joint Defence Force,” which involves improving the interoperability of Japan’s Self Defence Forces.

The USN plans to deploy the P8 maritime patrol aircraft in Japan – a first deployment of the P8 outside the US – and the USAF will be deploying the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft rotationally. By 2017, Washington plans to position a squadron of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters. Most of the new military hardware that Japan plans to acquire is air and sea equipment, clearly illustrating Abe’s focus on protecting Japan’s maritime assets. The US has welcomed these plans of the Abe government, which will allow Japan to play a greater role in its self-defence.
    
Defending allies?

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and US alliance is largely directed towards the threat from North Korea. The ROK and US have conducted several military exercised for potential war situations on the Korean peninsula. The US has also initiated a trilateral dialogue between its two most important Asian allies – Japan and ROK.

Australia has an extremely important military role to play in the pivot. In addition to the rotational deployment of 2500 troops in Darwin, an American drone base is being developed in the Cocos Islands. Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, is one of the three major satellite tracking stations operated by US Intelligence agencies and US military and is a very important facility for the analysis of data transmitted from US satellites operating in several regions including South East Asia.

Due to its geographical location, Australia can potentially provide vital logistical and intelligence support to the US forces in case of a Sino-US confrontation. As American bases in the Western Pacific are coming under greater threat, Australia’s support as an ally during such operations will be important for Washington as Australia remains at a safe distance from the bulk of China’s conventional missile inventory.

The rebalancing strategy of the US may or may not be aimed at containing China. But the network of agreements that Washington continues to develop in Asia clearly depicts a forward looking plan that will ensure that the US is well prepared for any air sea battle to defend its regional allies.

Harshita Kohli is an Associate Research Fellow with the US Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. She was previously a journalist based in Mumbai, India.
Posted on 17:07 | Categories: