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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Eight killed As 'Golf Ball' Hailstones, Storms Lash Myanmar

Monday, April 25, 2016
YANGON: The freak storms struck across five states in Myanmar on Friday and Saturday after weeks of heatwave temperatures regularly topping 40C (104F). 
"From what we know now there are eight people killed and 7,500 houses destroyed during these days," Phyu Lei Lei Tun, director of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, told AFP, adding that the toll may increase as more information becomes available. 
Violent storms which saw hailstones the size of golf balls rain down across Myanmar have killed at least eight people in recent days, toppled pagodas and damaged thousands of buildings, officials said Sunday. 
Six of the victims died in Yay Tha Yauk village in the central region of Mandalay after flash flooding. Other regions that were struck included Sagaing and Magway as well as the states of Shan and Chin. 
Pictures and TV footage showed huge hailstones crashing onto flooded streets and clattering off metal roofs as residents rushed for shelter. 

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said more than 1,700 pagodas were damaged by gale- force winds in the southern state of Shan on Friday night.

Pictures on social media showed some of the pagoda spires, which were hundreds of years old, lying shattered on the ground. Like much of the Greater Mekong region, Myanmar has been hit by drought in recent weeks amid a particularly fierce dry season. 

Source: AFP
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Malaysian Muhyiddin Wants RoS To Verify His Suspension From UMNO?

Saturday, April 23, 2016
Former deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has asked for a confirmation from the Registrar of Societies (RoS) on whether his suspension as Umno deputy president is valid. 
Speaking at a meet and greet session at Kampung Biah in Kadok today, he said he has escalated his query to RoS to verify the authenticity of his suspension. 
"My suspension was not in accordance with the Umno constitution and I have sent a letter to the RoS seeking an explanation as to whether my suspension was valid and in accordance with the party’s constitution," he said. 

He said RoS will determine if the Umno supreme council had overstepped its constitutional powers when it abruptly suspended him as deputy president in February this year.

Source: New Straits Times
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Will Brazil Fill The Olympic Stands?

Thursday, April 21, 2016
This year, Brazil is scheduled to open its arms to people from all over the world for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

With the Games nearly three months away, the country is facing a series of unprecedented challenges: the Zika virus outbreak, which has been connected to a rare birth defect; a crippling recession that has left hundreds of thousands unemployed and sent inflation through the roof; and a political crisis that has implicated some of the country's most powerful lawmakers. 
Now, President Dilma Rousseff may have to step down amid allegations of fiscal mismanagement, leading many to ask: Will the Olympics even happen? 
According to organizers at the International Olympic Committee, the Games should not be affected by the current crisis. 
The IOC said it is closely following the impeachment situation, but stressed that the effects of such a controversy would likely be minimal. 
"These kinds of political issues have much less influence than at other stages of organizing the Olympic Games," the IOC said. 

Source: CNN
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Mahathir Seeks Court Order To Freeze Najib's Assets

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR,Malaysia - Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign over the 1MDB state fund scandal, has applied for a court order to freeze Najib's assets, Mahathir's lawyers said on Tuesday. 
The lawyers said in a statement Mahathir was also seeking a court order for Najib to disclose all assets held under his name as well as under the names of his nominees. 
Mahathir, along with two others, filed a suit in March against Najib alleging corruption and abuse of power. 
The lawsuit also accused Najib of interfering in several probes into debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB Najib has come under criticism over allegations of graft and mismanagement linked to 1MDB and deposits of about $681 million (S$915 million) into his personal bank account. 
He has denied any wrongdoing and maintains that he did not use the funds for personal gain.
In January, Malaysia's attorney-general cleared Najib of any criminal offence. 
Mahathir was joined in the lawsuit by Khairuddin bin Abu Hassan and Anina binti Saadudin, former members of the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) party which Najib heads. 

The three, citing misfeasance and breach of duty, are seeking exemplary damages from Najib to the government of 2.6 billion ringgit and aggravated damages of 42 million ringgit - equal to the amounts that were deposited into Najib's account. 

Source: Asia One
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Natural Disasters Have Caused 8 Million Deaths, US$7 Trillion Worldwide Since 1900

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Vienna – Natural disasters have caused more than US$7 trillion (RM27.1 trillion) in economic damage worldwide since 1900, with floods and storms accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the total, researchers said yesterday. 
The death toll from such natural calamities — which also include earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, heatwaves and wildfires — topped eight million from 1900 to 2015, according to findings presented at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. 
More than a third — 38.5 per cent — of the economic damage, and just over half the loss of life was the result of flooding, according to James Daniell, an Australian  risk engineer at the  Karlsruhe  Institute of Technology 
in Germany.
“Flooding is the key driver” for economic loss and death, said Daniell, who has catalogued 35,000 disasters over 115 years, the largest such database in existence. 
Since about 1960, storms and storm surges — the exceptional waves they cause — have replaced flooding as the most destructive forces, battering buildings and infrastructure. 
  • Whether this shift was due to climate change was impossible to say, he told AFP. 
  • “When we go back in time, the record is not complete,” he said on the sidelines of the annual gathering of about 13,000 Earth and space scientists. 
  • “We probably have floods and storms from the 1930s or 1940s, for example, that never came into the database.
  • ” The frequency of other natural disasters — notably earthquakes, which accounted for 26 per cent of losses, and volcanoes, which caused one percent — remained fairly constant over time.
Earthquakes accounted for nearly 30 per cent of deaths, some 2.3 million people over the 115-year period. Of those fatalities, nearly 60 per cent died when buildings collapsed, while about 28 per cent perished in a tsunami or landslide. 
Overall, the annual cost of economic losses due to natural disaster has increased progressively over time, the study found. 
But as a percentage of the rising value of all infrastructure on the ground — currently estimated at some US$300 trillion — losses have actually declined, Daniell said. 

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Ecuador Quake Toll At 272, ‘Certain To Rise’

Monday, April 18, 2016
Some 10,000 troops and 3,500 police are being deployed in the affected areas, as rescue operations continue.
The magnitude-7.8 quake struck on Saturday evening. Coastal areas in the north-west were closest to the epicentre and officials say the death toll is likely to rise as information begins to come in.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has cut short a visit to Italy to deal with the crisis. He has declared a state of emergency and said the priority is finding survivors.
"Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that's what hurts the most," he said.
  • Ecuador's Vice-President Jorge Glas, visiting one of the worst-hit cities, Manta, met a resident who pleaded for people trapped under rubble.
  • "We cannot go in with heavy machinery because it can be tragic for the wounded," Mr Glas told him.
Helicopters and buses are ferrying troops north but have been hampered by landslides. In some areas people are using their bare hands to try to dig out survivors.

Source: BBC...More..., Agency
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