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Singapore Kicks Out Swiss Bank Linked To Malaysia's 1MDB?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Singapore's central bank on Tuesday said it was kicking out Swiss bank BSI, which has been linked to a global money-laundering scandal at Malaysia's state fund 1MDB that has embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak. 
In a statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it had also asked state prosecutors to investigate six senior executives of BSI Bank Limited including its former chief executive for possible criminal offenses. 
Two Singaporean executives of the bank are already facing charges in the city-state, which is Southeast Asia's financial hub. 
The MAS said it has served BSI Bank with a "notice of intention to withdraw its status as a merchant bank in Singapore for serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank’s operations, and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff". 
  • It is the first time the MAS has cancelled the licence of a merchant bank since 1984, when the local branch of Jardine Fleming was shut down for "serious lapses" in its advisory work, the statement said. 
  • 1MDB, founded in 2009 by Najib, is teetering on the brink of collapse amid multiple investigations around the world into allegations that billions were looted from it. 
  • The fund, which ran up more than $11 billion in debt in a series of much-questioned investments, has steadfastly denied money was stolen or that it was in financial trouble. 
Najib was plunged into the crisis last year when the Wall Street Journal revealed $681 million in transfers to his personal bank accounts. 
He claims the money was a gift from the Saudi royal family, most of which he returned. 
A Saudi official in April said that was true, but only after weeks of silence that cast doubt on the claim.
In a series of more recent investigative reports, however, the newspaper said Malaysian investigation documents indicated more than $1 billion in 1MDB-linked money had been funneled to Najib. 
Najib and 1MDB vehemently deny that claim.
Najib has faced calls to resign but he has tightened his grip on the ruling party and thwarted domestic investigations. 
His position is not seen as under imminent threat. 

Source: The Bull Asia
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US Senate Votes To Allow 9/11 Victims To Sue Saudi Arabia?

Thursday, May 19, 2016
WASHINGTON, U.S.A. – The US Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would allow September 11 victims and their relatives to sue Saudi Arabia over its possible role in the 2001 attacks, a bill which could trigger a diplomatic firestorm. 
Senators unanimously approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act which now heads to the House of Representatives, where Speaker Paul Ryan has voiced reservations. 
The White House has repeatedly stated that President Barack Obama, who visited the kingdom in April in a bid to soothe strained ties, opposes the law because it would essentially waive the doctrine of sovereign immunity. 
  • “This legislation would change long-standing, international law regarding sovereign immunity. And the president of the United States continues to harbour serious concerns that this legislation would make the United States vulnerable in other court systems around the world,” 
  • White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. He explained that the United States was more engaged internationally “than any other country in the world,” particularly in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.  
  • Undermining immunity, he said, would put Americans working abroad at risk. The bill would allow 9/11 families to pursue cases in federal court against foreign governments, notably Saudi Arabia, and demand compensation if such governments are proven to bear some responsibility for the attacks. 
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. But no official Saudi complicity in the Al-Qaeda attacks has been proven, and the kingdom has never been formally implicated. 
In February Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the 20th hijacker, told US lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to Al-Qaeda in the 1990s.
The Saudi Embassy denied Moussaoui’s claims. But his accusations revived debate over whether the Obama administration should release a still-classified 28-page section of the 9/11 Commission Report. 
The New York Times reported last month that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told lawmakers in Washington that the kingdom would be forced to sell up to US$750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States to avoid having them frozen by federal courts. 
House Speaker Ryan, a Republican, has expressed hesitation about bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. 
“I think we need to review it to make sure that, that we’re not making mistakes with our allies,” he told reporters in April. 
The two Democratic presidential candidates, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, have expressed support for the bill, whose main sponsors are Democrat Chuck Schumer and his Republican colleague John Cornyn. 

Source:— AFP
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Philippine President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte Vows To Bring Back Death Penalty?

Monday, May 16, 2016
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he will seek to return the death penalty, in his first comments to reporters since last week's election. 
He added that he would also seek to give security forces shoot-to-kill powers for suspects who evade arrest and those involved in organised crime.
It is unclear how easily he could enact such proposals, but analysts credit his success to his tough stance on crime. He is set to be sworn into office on 30 June for a term of six years. 
While official election results have not yet been announced, Mr Duterte has an unassailable lead. He will need the backing of Congress to see through his plans. 
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday in the southern city of Davao, Mr Duterte is also quoted as saying that he wanted to forge closer relations with China, and that he was open to direct talks over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has taken one of its claims to a court of arbitration at the Hague. 
Controversial record Mr Duterte's record as the crime-crushing mayor of the southern city of Davao, once notorious for its lawlessness, has earned him the moniker The Punisher. 
"What I will do is urge Congress to restore death penalty by hanging," Mr Duterte told reporters. The Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006.
"If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organised crime. 
You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organised crime," he is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

Source: BBC...More...
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All 4 missing in Sabah Boat Capsize Found Safe

Friday, May 13, 2016
Four people, including two Spaniards, who went missing off the coast of Sabah on May 2 have been found by Vietnamese fishermen, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency confirmed.
"They are confirmed to be alive and have been rescued by Vietnamese fishermen," MMEA director-general Datuk Ahmad Puzi Kahar said in a Whatsapp message to The Star on Thursday.
Ahmad Puzi said efforts were underway to bring the four back to Malaysia.
Spanish couple David Hernandez Gasulla, 29, his wife Martha Miguel, 30, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau resort owner Tommy Lam Wai Yin, 44, (Chinese national domiciled in Sabah) and his employee Armella Ali Hassan, 23, went missing after their boat capsized about 2.8km from Pulau Balambangan in the treacherous waters of northen Sabah.

Source: Malay Mail Online...More
Amulti-agency SAR operation was launched on May 3, after the boat owner filed a report on the missing vessel and its four occupants who had left for a day trip to Balambangan island.A multi-agency SAR operation was launched on May 3, after the boat owner filed a report on the missing vessel and its four occupants who had left for a day trip to Balambangan island. Source: Asia One
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Sarawak Elections A Rude Wake Up Call For Opposition DAP

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
THE big screens set up outside state Democratic Action party(DAP)’s Kuching headquarters flickered to life shortly after the tallying of votes began. 
There was an upbeat mood as supporters trickled in to watch the live updates of the vote count for the Sarawak election. It did not take long for them to realise the evening would end on an unhappy note for DAP. 
There were only about a dozen people left at about 9pm when Barisan Nasional secured a simple majority and state DAP chief Chong Chien Jen(photo) conceded defeat.
Chong looked deflated and exhausted. He did not have much to say and the press conference wrapped up after 20 minutes. 
  • The party won only seven of the 31 seats it contested. In the 2011 election, it contested 15 seats and won 12. 
It was a devastating outcome for this ultra ambitious party. 
There was a clear Chinese swing back to Barisan given the way Chinese seats fell to Team Adenan. 
DAP lost to Barisan even in Repok, where Chinese formed 75 per cent of the voters. 
 
Source: Asia One...More...
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Naked Canadian Boomers Struggle To Attract Younger Generation Of Nudists

Sunday, May 08, 2016
VANCOUBER, B.C. Canada - It's a sunny Friday afternoon and a handful of aging nudists are sitting on lawn chairs overlooking a stunning view of Seymour Mountain, Burrard Inlet, and Mount Baker in the distance. 
The naked group is part of the Van Tan Club, a nudist colony that was founded in the forest on North Vancouver's  Fromme Mountain in 1939, making it Canada's oldest official naturist club, according to one of the members, Daniel Jackson, 51. 
Jackson said the club's membership numbers peaked in the 1970s at about 150 people, and now there are about 50 or 60 members.
"You know, if 15 new members showed up, that would be fantastic," said Jackson. 
Van Tan member Linda Kent, 65, has been coming to the club from her home in Langley for five years.  
"It's an older group, and I don't know why, but it tends to stay an older group. People who join tend to be older," she said. 
Jackson agrees that the club tends to draw older people, though there are a few members in their 20s. 
"It's true, you would say that the emphasis is on older, wiser people, who in their own minds, probably have a lot less to lose," he said.
  
  • "Look at the social and body image and social pressures younger folks face, and I think there is a lot of confusion as to what the naked body is all about.
  • The club is an idyllic little bare-bones, off-the-grid resort on a few acres above the Lynn Valley neighborhood. There are no permanent cabins, but there are a few sheds for garden equipment and sports gear. 
  • There are several camping trailers parked at one end, and people are able to set up tents in the summer.  
  • The club has a big lawn for things like badminton and volley ball, and a pool that's actually a water reservoir, in case of fire. According to Kent, the club would like to attract a younger crowd. 
  • "We have a few younger members, but not a lot of younger members, and it would be nice to have younger members because we're getting too old to do the physical group.
Somebody's gotta do it!" "It's nice to have younger people around," she said, adding that younger members would ensure that Van Tan is around for years to come. 
"Most people think that when you're nude there's more going on than just being nude … but there really isn't, other than gardening and building walls and cutting firewood," said Kent.
"We always wonder what we could do to be appealing directly [to younger people]. We have two open houses every summer, but whoever shows up, shows up," she said. 
The next open house is June 19.
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Malaysian PM Najib To Build Tower To Rival Mahathir's Twin Towers?

Friday, May 06, 2016
The political rivalry between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Najib Razak is about to reach new heights. 
When Dr Mahathir was premier, he built two 88-storey towers, making them the world's tallest buildings when they were ready in 1998. 
Now Datuk Seri Najib is raising the ante with an 118-storey giant just some 4km away, which is set to be South-east Asia's tallest tower when completed in 2020. 
The RM5 billion (S$1.7 billion) project is being built by state equity fund Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) with a height of 630m. 
The new project is located beside the historic Merdeka Stadium, where Malaysia's independence from Britain was announced on Aug 31, 1957, hence the tower will have "merdeka" (independence) as part of its name. 
The Merdeka PNB118 tower was launched last month by Mr Najib, who had denied he was in a one-upmanship with his mentor turned nemesis. 
The project's launching comes at a time when Dr Mahathir is making a strong push to topple Mr Najib by blaming the prime minister for the financial scandal tied to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). 
Dr Mahathir had said earlier that his brainchild Twin Towers would be eclipsed by the new tower. 
"I would like to retain the Twin Towers as the highest buildings in Malaysia. 
At the moment we don't need any tower higher than that. We should build the 100-storey tower, but maybe a little bit later when I am not around," Dr Mahathir, who retired in October 2003 after 22 years in power, said in 2010. 
Mr Najib's response then was: "No, no, it's not a question of dismantling his (legacy). That's a totally frivolous statement." 
  • He added: "What Tun Mahathir has done is admirable, what we need to do is to build on his success and move on.
  • " Like the Petronas Twin Towers when it was announced, the new tower has been panned by critics. Some are worried about a glut in office and commercial space in coming years, while others questioned its location in a historic and congested part of Kuala Lumpur. 
  • The Petronas Twin Towers were built on former race course land surrounded by narrow traffic-clogged roads.

 Source: Asia One...More...
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Indonesian Sailors Home After Philippine Kidnap Ordeal

Monday, May 02, 2016
Ten Indonesian sailors held hostage by Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants returned home Sunday after being freed in the southern Philippines, less than a week after the gunmen beheaded a Canadian captive. 
About five weeks after being abducted, the 10 tugboat crew turned up outside the house of the provincial governor on the remote Philippine island of Jolo. 
They flew back to Jakarta later the same day, arriving on a private plane at an air force base before being driven away in a minibus without speaking to reporters.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said they would undergo medical checks before being sent home.
"Our prayers have been answered," Rahmat Mansyur, brother of freed hostage Wawan Saputra, told AFP in Indonesia's South Sulawesi province. 
"A few days ago when the kidnappers beheaded a hostage we were very worried, but now we heard he is safe we feel so blessed.
" Officials did not say if any ransom was paid for the 10 Indonesians. 
Abu Sayyaf does not normally free hostages unless a ransom is paid. 
There has been a recent upsurge of kidnappings in the strife-torn southern Philippines, and the Indonesians' release came just six days after Abu Sayyaf beheaded Canadian tourist John Ridsdel, for whom they had demanded a US$21 million ransom. 
Authorities said the group is still holding at least 11 foreign hostages – four sailors from Indonesia and four others from Malaysia, a Canadian tourist, a Norwegian resort owner and a Dutch birdwatcher.

Source: AFP, The Sunday...More...
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Philippines Finds Headless Body Near Site Where Militants Executed Canadian

Friday, April 29, 2016
JOLO, Philippine – Villagers in the southern Philippines found a headless body on Wednesday, an army spokesman said, two days after the execution of a Canadian captive by Islamist militants, condemned as a “cold-blooded murder” by Canada’s prime minister. 
Security is precarious in the southern Philippines, despite a 2014 peace pact between the government and the largest Muslim rebel group that ended 45 years of conflict. 
Canadian John Ridsdel, 68, a former mining executive, was captured by Islamist militants along with three other people in September 2015 while on vacation on a Philippine island. 
This week, the Philippine army said a severed head had been found on a remote island on Monday, five hours after the expiry of a ransom deadline set by the militants, who had threatened to execute one of four captives. 
Residents found the head in the centre of Jolo town. 
An army spokesman said two men on a motorcycle were seen dropping a plastic bag containing the severed head. Police confirmed the head to be that of Ridsdel. 
  • Army spokesman Major Filemon Tan said a headless body was found in a dried creek, near the jungles where Ridsdel was believed to have been beheaded by militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf group. 
  • “We are still verifying if the body is that of John Ridsdel,” Tan told reporters, adding that a police forensics team was conducting tests. “There were no blood stains in the area, suggesting the body was not beheaded in the area.”
  •  Abu Sayyaf is a small but brutal militant group known for beheading, kidnapping, bombing and extortion in the south of the mainly Catholic country. Ridsdel, 68, and three others, including a Norwegian and another Canadian, were abducted seven months ago in the southern Philippines. 
  • They had appealed in a March video for their families and governments to secure their release. In the video, they said the militants had threatened to behead one of them if the 300 million pesos (£4.39 million) ransom for each of them was not paid by Monday. 
The initial demand was one billion pesos each. Hours after Abu Sayyaf carried out its threat, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(photo) condemned the execution as “an act of cold-blooded murder.
” Other foreigners held by Abu Sayyaf include one from the Netherlands, one from Japan, four Malaysians and 14 Indonesians. 
In the capital, Manila, Rodrigo Duterte(photo), a front-runner in the presidential elections next month, told businessmen, “Kidnapping has to stop. It is destroying our country and it is destroying our country’s reputation.” 
 Source:– Reuters
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