KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar will be going to the streets in protest of the Sedition Act.
This comes following a vote at the Bar's Extraordinary General
Meeting (EGM) to immediately organise a peaceful protest in the form of a
walk, and further such action in pushing for the repeal of the 66-year
Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said the walk was one of
eight components of a motion passed by the council, which aimed to
protest against the recent slew of sedition cases.
"We cannot afford to walk on eggshells around draconian laws. If we
are genuine, the way forward is through debate," he said, during a press
conference, after the EGM at Wisma MCA Friday.
Leong said they would need time to plan the logistics of the walk,
but it would definitely be done in the near future as "three to six
months is too long to wait," he said.
He also confirmed that the rally would not use the name "Walk For Justice", which had been used in previous rallies by the Bar.
The motion was voted in, with 701 votes in support and 13 against.
A total of 986 members attended the EGM.
Among the other seven components of the motion passed include; a call
for the Malaysian Government to uphold freedom of information and
debate; academic and journalistic freedom; a call for the Attorney
General to withdraw all pending cases, charges and appeals; and for the
Government to introduce a moratarium against the use of the Act.
"The Malaysian Bar condemns the use and abuse of the Sedition Act, in
particular the selective and excessive sentences meted out by the lower
courts," said Leong.
France has carried out its first air strikes in Iraq against
positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, joining a US-led
operation to defeat the rebel group.
In a statement issued on Friday, French President Francois Hollande(photo) said the strike destroyed a logistics depot held by ISIL.
It said that at least two Rafale fighter jets were involved in the
operation in northeastern Iraq, and that the target was "entirely
Hollande's office also said other operations would continue in the coming days.
On Thursday, Hollande announced that France would provide what he
called "aerial support" to the Iraqi army in their fight against the
ISIL, which has taken over nearly half of the violence-ridden country.
"I decided to respond to the request of the Iraqi authorities to offer aerial support," Hollande said.
"As soon as we have identified targets, we will act ... within a short time-frame."
France has already conducted reconnaissance flights over Iraq that
started on Monday, and dispatched weapons to the Kurdish forces fighting
the ISIL group.
Hollande himself visited Iraq late last week - the most high-profile
leader to do so since ISIL stormed across the country - and Paris hosted
an international conference on the crisis on Monday.
However, unlike the US, which has pledged to attack ISIL even in
Syria, where they hold around a quarter of the country, Hollande said French involvement would be limited to Iraq. "We will not go further than that. There will be no ground troops," Hollande said.
Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba, reporting from France, said that the French
president was careful to emphasise the operation was not done under US
Since the air strikes earlier on Friday, the aircrafts had returned
to the French base in Abu Dhabi in UAE, our correspondent reported.
France has six Rafale fighter jets and just under 1,000 soldiers
based in the UAE and could even mobilise an aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.
In Iraq, a car bomb in a Shia-majority district of
Baghdad and a motorcycle bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk have
killed at least 16 people, security and medical officials said.
The attacks come as security forces and allied Shia militiamen and
Sunni tribesmen fight to regain ground from armed group ISIL, which
overran large part of the country in June.
The blast in the Karrada area of Baghdad killed at least eight people
and wounded more than 20, while eight died and 13 were wounded in
central Kirkuk. The day before, a suicide bombing, car bomb and shelling struck
Shia-majority areas of northern Baghdad, killing at least 23 people and
wounding more than 56.
Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of
the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to
its core. The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with
England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political
establishment. Scots voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent against
independence in a vote that saw an unprecedented turnout.
A majority of voters did not embrace Scottish First Minister Alex
Salmond's impassioned plea to launch a new state, choosing instead the
security offered by remaining in the United Kingdom.
"We have chosen
unity over division," Alistair Darling, head of the No campaign, said
early on Friday in Glasgow. "Today is a momentous day for Scotland and
the United Kingdom as a whole."
Salmond conceded defeat, saying "we know it is a majority for the No
campaign," and called on Scots to accept the results of the vote. "This
has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in
politics," he said, insisting that London-based politicians were now
expected to honor their promises of giving more powers to Scotland.
The No campaign won the capital city, Edinburgh, by a margin of 61 per
cent to 38 per cent and triumphed by 59 per cent to 41 per cent in
Salmond's home city of Aberdeen. The Yes campaign won Glasgow,
Scotland's biggest city, but it was not enough.
Salmond had argued that Scots could go it alone because of its
extensive oil reserves and high levels of ingenuity and education. He
said Scotland would flourish on its own, free of interference from any
Many saw it as a "heads versus hearts" campaign, with cautious older
Scots concluding that independence would be too risky financially, while
younger ones were enamored with the idea of building their own country.
The result saves British Prime Minister David Cameron from a historic defeat and also helps opposition chief Ed Miliband by keeping his many
Labour Party lawmakers in Scotland in place.
His party would have found
it harder to win a national election in 2015 without that support from
SYDNEY, Australia - Police have carried out
anti-terror raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic
extremists were planning random killings in Australia.
PM Tony Abbott said a senior Australian Islamic State
militant had called for "demonstration killings", reportedly including a
The raids, with at least 800 heavily-armed officers, led to 15 arrests.
One man has been charged with planning an attack. Prosecutors said he planned to "gruesomely" execute someone.
Australian media reports said a plot involved beheading a
random member of the public after draping them in an Islamic State flag.
Asked about the reports in a press conference, Mr Abbott said: "That's the intelligence we received.''
"Direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is
apparently quite senior in ISIL (Islamic State) to networks of support
back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this
KARACHI, Pakistan - Fed up with constant delays and flight
cancellations, disgruntled Pakistani passengers prevented a senior politician
from boarding an airplane after he turned up at least two hours late for the
A group of passengers
shouting “Shame on you” as they blocked Rehman Malik(photo), an influential former
interior minister, from entering the plane and then chasing him back to the
The plane, operated by state-run Pakistan International
Airlines (PIA), eventually took off from the port city of Karachi for Islamabad
without Malik on board. Malik defended himself, saying he
was not responsible for the delay.
Another politician, Ramesh Kumar Wakwani(photo), was also barred from
boarding the aircraft after turning up late. An
airline spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment The state airline, plagued by financial losses and often
criticised for its inefficiency, is known for delaying flights to accommodate
the schedules of important politicians, sometimes making ordinary passengers
wait for hours to take off.
Regularly battered by typhoons at this time of year, Lava are cascading down the Philippines’ most active volcano
today as authorities rushed to evacuate thousands ahead of a possible deadly
The 2,640-metre (8,070-foot) Mayon, located about 330 kilometers
southwest of Manila, is a draw for local and foreign tourists but an enduring
danger for anyone getting too close.
According to AFP, at least 8,000 of the target 50,000 people
had been moved to temporary shelter. Mostly women, children and the elderly
carrying bags of clothes were hauled out of farming villages near Mayon
volcano’s slopes on board army trucks and minibuses.
Soldiers went from house to house asking residents to
evacuate, after authorities on Monday raised the third highest alert in a
five-step scale, meaning a full-scale eruption is possible “within weeks”.However, the evacuation operation was sapping
precious disaster-relief funds and manpower in the Albay province.
The volcano’s world-renowned perfect cone appeared to have
been deformed, swollen with lava that had risen from the Earth’s core. Before dawn yesterday, Mayon’s crater glowed red as molten rocks
flowed as far as halfway down its slopes. The deadliest and most powerful of the roughly 20 typhoons
that batter the Philippines every year happen towards the end of the year,
bringing floods, landslides and storm surges to eastern provinces such as Albay
that face the Pacific Ocean.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland - A flight of Malaysia Airlines was forced to land in
Iceland, after their plane’s navigation systems were damaged by the heat and
debris erupting from the volcano over which it was flying.
The company’s flight MH131 going from Paris to New York
reportedly went through a zone of “heavy turbulence” with “very low visibility”
for a few minutes, before many of the navigation equipment simply stopped
working, forcing the pilots to land the plane manually.
According to report, the pilots were directed to fly the Boeing 777 almost
directly over the active Bardarbunga volcano, despite many warnings from the
International Civil Aviation Organization.
The extreme heat and the large
quantity of sediments projected in the sky by the volcanic eruption have made the
flight path extremely dangerous, as the damage to the plane shows. “There was lots of smoke and flying embers, it looked like
hell!” says Mohamed Teuku, one of the survivors. “The plane was shaking and
trembling, I thought it was going fall apart! I thought the company had learned
their lesson and that they would stop putting people’s life in danger, but it
looks like I was wrong… That’s it, I’m never flying with them again!” However the company’s regional senior vice president PK Lee,
explained that the company had “thoroughly evaluated the risks” before choosing
that flight path and that the passengers’ lives were “never really at risk“.
One of the major challenges for western countries is how to
stop ISIS without abetting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad(photo), whose forces have
also been fighting ISIS.
Western governments believe Assad's anti-democratic policies
are not only responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 people in the Syrian
civil war but for giving rise to jihadist groups such as ISIS.
The involvement of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and
Qatar in the anti-ISIS coalition is "a major departure from past
policies," says Houchang Hassan-Yari, a professor at the Royal Military
College of Canada. He says these countries have had a dubious relationship with
jihadi groups in the region. During the Syrian uprising, private citizens in
these Sunni nations funnelled financial and military support to anti-Assad
rebels, including ISIS. But Hassan-Yari says the progress and rhetoric of ISIS has
sent a signal to neighbouring countries that the group is not simply a local
threat, but one that could imperil their own governments. The problem is that a number of Iraq and Syria's other
neighbours aren't nearly as motivated to step up the fight, says Wayne White, a
scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.
He says Turkey, as a NATO ally, "should be sending
75,000 troops to the [Turkey-Syrian] border to completely seal all of the
border adjacent to ISIS, to cut the oil shipments, to cut the fighters going
in. But we haven't even received that from the Turks."
Despite being "so critical" in this battle, Turkey
is reticent of blowback from attacking ISIS directly or doing anything that
would benefit Assad's regime, says White.
White says that while the kingdom of Jordan has a relatively
small military, as a result of a long friendship with erstwhile Iraqi dictator
Saddam Hussein, the country still has deep ties with Iraq's former military
officer corps, as well as various tribes, and could be key in gathering intelligence
about ISIS's strategy.
"Jordan is an important actor, but it's also the most
vulnerable," White says, citing the fact that Jordan now has camps of
refugees from the Syrian war that rival the country's biggest cities in terms
Brynen says that next to the U.S., the biggest player in
this situation is Iran. The Shia-majority country has been a major backer of
the Shia-led government in Iraq, and has been training and equipping Iraqi
forces, as well reinforcing Shia militias throughout the country in an attempt
to neutralize ISIS. But there is significant controversy about Iran's involvement
in a broader coalition. Due to its long-standing feud with the U.S., Iran rebuffed
an invitation to the Paris talks and ruled out any harmonized anti-ISIS
military effort with the U.S. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry countered by saying,
"We are not co-ordinating with Iran. Period."
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Poaching for illegal commercial
trade is the greatest and most urgent threat to tigers in Malaysia, followed by
loss and fragmentation of forests. Concerned over the future of tigers, Perhilitan and Mycat
said it would explore means to immediately strengthen tiger conservation
efforts to reverse the situation. The population of Malayan tigers have reached a critical
point, with an estimate of 250-340 cats left. According to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks
(Perhilitan) and the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat), the
current estimate was less than the previous estimate of 500 tigers. This is according to studies conducted between 2010-2013
using camera traps under a standardized protocol at seven sites across three
major tiger landscapes in Peninsular Malaysia. The Malayan tiger meets the International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species’ criteria for a
“Critically Endangered” listing. The animal has been classified as “Endangered”
since 2008. The country though, via 2008’s National Tiger Conservation
Action Plan (NTCAP) for Malaysia, wanted 1,000 wild Malayan tigers thriving in
the country’s forests by 2020. Despite efforts, including the
strengthening of legislation and increased patrolling, tiger conservation
across the vast tropical forest landscape continued to face challenges.
Strengthen tiger conservation efforts must be taken as
dedicated Tiger Patrol Units on the ground to protect and monitor individual
tigers which have been identified through surveys at the three priority areas
(Belum-Temengor, Taman Negara and Endau-Rompin). * Undertaking a comprehensive National Tiger Survey that
will also increase the number of boots on the ground to increase tiger
protection throughout the Central Forest Spine (the remaining major forested
landscapes in Peninsular Malaysia). * Strengthening the existing mechanism to review, better
coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Tiger Conservation
Action Plan (NTCAP) and Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan.
Malaysia had put in place
appropriate and comprehensive policies through the adoption of NTCAP and CFS
Master Plan to mainstream Malayan tiger conservation and the management of its
“Various funding has been provided by the federal government
and Mycat NGOs’ donors thus far, which has enabled the stakeholders to
strengthen the capacity to undertake systematic field surveys within protected
areas. “This has greatly enhanced the scientific knowledge to
manage wild Malayan tigers and reconnect fragmented habitats with ecological