PETALING JAYA, Malaysia — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
admitted today that the huge turnouts at Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) rallies
may not necessarily translate to votes.
The PKR de facto leader, however, said the large numbers could
reflect some “measure of enthusiasm” that can be taken as a positive
sign for the federal opposition pact ahead of the May 5 polls.
“Not necessarily, you are right there,” replied Anwar when asked if
he felt the crowd size at PR’s nightly ceramahs could indicate growing
support for the bloc.
“But the size of the crowd, it is clearly resounding. It will reflect
some measures of enthusiasm because we don’t provide buses, we don’t
provide free food, we don’t provide RM20 allowance and some others do,”
The US has said that Syria has likely used chemical weapons against rebel forces on a "small scale," but emphasised intelligence services were still not 100 percent sure.
US spy agencies have investigated reports from Syrian opposition groups that President Bashar al-Assad's forces have used sarin gas on at least two occasions during the two-year-old conflict.
"Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria," Caitlin Hayden, a US National Security Council spokesperson, said on Thursday.
The assessment, which she said was based in part on "physiological samples", points to the possible use of sarin, a man-made nerve agent used in two attacks in Japan in the 1990s.
It can cause convulsions, respiratory failure and death.
Hayden however warned the chain of custody of the weapons was "not clear, so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what conditions".
A glittering career in the public eye may come at the cost of a
shorter life, according to an analysis of newspaper obituaries.
The study found that performers and sports stars tend to die a few
years younger than people successful in other careers, BBC reported.
Though the researchers said the study does not provide any conclusive
answers, but it asked interesting questions about the cost of fame.
According to the study published in QJM: An International Journal of
Medicine, experts in Australia looked at 1,000 obituaries in the New
York Times between 2009 and 2011.
They showed that actors, singers and musicians, as well those who made a
career in sport died the youngest — at an average age of 77.
Writers, composers and artists died at 79 while academics, including
historians and economists, survived until 82. Those in business or
politics lived upto 83.
The researchers, at the University of Queensland and the University of
New South Wales, said cancer, particularly tumours in the lungs, was
more common in performers.
Professor Richard Epstein said that, whatever the reason, the findings
should be considered as a “health warning to young people aspiring to
Honey Langcaster-James, a psychologist who specialises in celebrity
behaviour, said so few people achieved star status that it made it
difficult to scientifically study the effect on people’s lives.
“The results are interesting of themselves as they suggest an inherent
hazard of a public career and that all that glitters is not necessarily
gold. They may be paying a high price for their career,” she said.
However, she said it was not easy to come up with a scientific explanation.
On the one hand she said such a career “has unique stressors” such as
“the pressure to live up to a public image, which can lead to risky
Yet she suspected that “particular personal characteristics predispose
people to wanting a career in the public arena”, which may also lead to
lifestyle choices affecting health.
Thousands of rescuers are fighting to thwart a rising death toll as they search earthquake-shattered villages in southwest China for survivors.
Rescue teams battled landslides and collapsed roads to reach isolated parts of Sichuan province on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, in images aired on state broadcaster CCTV.
At least 180 people have so far been confirmed dead, with 6,000 injured in Saturday's 6.6 magnitude quake.
Soldiers searched through the night and day for survivors in villages where houses had been destroyed and treated some of the injured.
NEW DELHI, Pakistan - Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's legal team was unable to file an appeal in the supreme court against an order for his arrest as lawyers were unable to complete certain formalities before the court closed for the day.
Musharraf's lawyers Ibrahim Satti and Kamar Afzal went to the apex court to file the appeal but could not complete some formalities before the court closed for the day.
A court in Islamabad cancels former military ruler's bail application in connection with detention of judges in 2007.
MANILA, Philippines - An archbishop said neither the
Church nor lay groups should endorse candidates in the May 13 elections,
but said those who supported the law on Reproductive Health should be
rejected by voters.
“The Church must guide and
not dictate. The Church must unite and not contribute to the division.
The Church must pray and not add to the confusion. The Church must heal
and not inflict hurts. The Church must be in the world but not belong to
it,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in Central Luzon
said in a pastoral letter.
Villegas pointed out that
when the Church endorses candidates in elections, its spiritual mission
will be compromised and religion will be “reduced” to a mere political
“We will be lonesome widows after the elections for marrying partisan politics during the campaign,” the prelate said.
He explained that if the Church endorses a
candidate, the latter may win the elections but it is the Church which
“always ends up loser” because its mission will be tarnished with the
“stain of the mundane.”
“The Church should not be
perceived as winning or losing an election. The Church must be beyond
such,” Villegas said. “Religions that waltz with politics will die by
endorsing certain candidates, Villegas said he prefers that Church and
lay Catholic leaders observe certain parameters that they can endorse to
parishioner when choosing a candidate.
INVESTIGATORS are trying to work out how an Indonesian passenger plane overshot the runway at Bali airport before crashing into the sea.
All 101 passengers and seven crew on the Lion Air flight survived, although dozens were said to be injured and at least seven were taken to hospital with head wounds and broken bones.
The new Boeing 737-800 had been trying to land at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport about 3.30pm local time (1730 AEST) on Saturday when it crashed.
No Australians were on the plane, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra said.
DUBAI, UAE - Parul Shah is one step away from realizing a childhood dream,
and she dearly wants her beloved parents to be there when she faces the
ultimate challenge. Dubai-born Shah, 24, is one of the 50 candidates in
the finals of this year’s 50th edition of the Binibining Pilipinas
pageant, the country’s biggest beauty pageant.
Being the golden
anniversary of the prestigious brain and beauty competition, this year’s
Binibining Pilipinas is one of the grandest events in the pageantry’s
However, Shah, the daughter of Dubai-based expatriates, is unlikely to
get the opportunity to enjoy the morale-boosting presence of her parents
Her parents, an Indian family driver and a Filipina domestic
helper-turned-housewife, can hardly make both ends meet and could not
afford the cost of the return tickets from Dubai to Manila to see their
daughter go for gold the Binibining Pilipinas 2013 on April 14 at the
Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. The winner of the
contest goes on to the Miss Universe competition.
Shah is second of four siblings of Luzie Shah and Pramod Kumar
Ramniklal Shah. In an emotional interview with tabloid! Luzie said her
biggest wish is to be able to watch and support her daughter on pageant
night. “I wish we will be there to support Parul. She’s been away since
she went to the Philippines to attend college. When she graduated
nursing school, we were also not there to enjoy the moment with her.
could barely make both ends meet and do not have the luxury to buy the
airline tickets,” says Luzie, who along with Pramod has been residing in
Dubai for more than 30 years.
“We don’t have credit cards and my
husband’s income does not make him eligible for a loan. We just go with
the money we earn – we prioritize the needs of our children, especially
for school and food.”
Shah, on the other hand, says it would be her dream to see her parents
during coronation day. “I wish to see them during the pageant night but I
do understand why they can’t make it. I’ve been doing this for them. I
love my parents so much – who I am today is because of them. I’m so
proud of them. I want them to see me now – a grown up lady. Even if they
will not be around during pageant day, I know that their support, love
and prayers are always there,” the beauty queen said.
DHAKA, Bangladesh - A protester from Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami party has been shot dead and 15 others injured during fresh clashes between police and opposition activists.
The protester was shot in the chest on Thursday in the southern town of Dumuria on the fourth day of a nationwide strike.
Police said they fired live rounds at 500 supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami during protests to demand the release of the head of its student wing.
The violence is the latest to hit Bangladesh stemming from a continuing war crimes tribunal, at which almost the entire Jamaat leadership is on trial for crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.
The latest killing brought the overall death toll from clashes triggered by the trials to 98 since January 21 when the court handed down its first verdicts.
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia ― Malaysians will go to polls on May 5, the
Election Commission (EC) announced today, starting the official
countdown to when voters decide whether to keep the Barisan Nasional
(BN) in government or usher in a new administration under Pakatan Rakyat
The election regulator, which met today, also set April 20 as the
nomination date, which will signal the start of formal electoral
campaigns that will last 15 days.
“On this day, the EC that
comprises seven panel members... has held a special meeting and is
announcing the important dates for GE13,” Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof,
the EC chairman, said in a live broadcast on national television, using
the acronym for the 13th general election.
“The date for
nomination is on April 20, which is a Saturday, early voting is on April
30 and polling is on May 5, which is on a Sunday.”
the commission chief had hinted it may depart with tradition and fix
polling for Election 2013 to take place on a weekday.
The commission decided today, however, to stick with custom and allow Malaysians to cast their ballots on Sunday.
The commission has also been given RM400 million to carry out the
elections, Abdul Aziz said, adding that it was the biggest budget to
The EC has appointed 379 officers to enforce the election rules and
another 222 officers and 1,088 assistants to monitor the polls during
the formal campaign period.
A total 8,789 voting centres will be set up, the EC chairman said.
The commission will also be using the electoral roll last updated
in the fourth quarter of 2012, which will be gazetted tomorrow, he said.
A total 13,268,002 Malaysians registered on the roll and are eligible to
vote in the 13th general elections, touted to be a tight race between a
stronger three-party opposition pact and the BN coalition for federal
KOTA KINABALU, Sabah, Malaysia - According to The Philippine STAR, An extra 1,000 gunmen from the
southern Philippines have broken through the sea blockade into Sabah to
add muscle to Sulu rebel leader Agbimuddin Kiram’s fight against
Malaysian security forces.
from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Emmanuel Fontanilla,
told the daily the fighters had been readying for battle since the onset
of the conflict and managed to slip past the Philippine and Malaysian
navies by moving in small groups.
“As per information, the armed men arrived in small batches,” he was quoted as saying.
paper said it was unknown if the latest group had joined in fresh
clashes in Lahad Datu last week, when an earlier band of 100 Filipinos
landed on Sabah’s east coast to reinforce the so-called Sulu sultanate
in its renewed bid to reclaim the state.
elusive Agbimuddin, who believes himself to be the heir of a defunct
sultanate, has been waging a guerilla battle against Malaysian security
forces since arriving in Sabah on February 9 to stake his clan’s
17th-century ownership of the north Borneo state.
than 60 Sulus have been reported killed in the violent conflict
enveloping Sabah’s east coast that have also snuffed out the lives of
eight Malaysian policemen and two soldiers.
security forces have also captured more than 100 Sulus believed linked
to the gunmen, and slapped several with terror charges.
5,000 Filipinos have returned to their homeland since the Sabah crisis
began in February, with tales of human rights abuses that have enraged
fellow Philippine citizens and lawmakers.
Philippine Senate has demanded its government hold Malaysia accountable
for the possible human rights violations on the 800,000-strong Filipino
migrant community in Sabah at the hands of local authorities searching
for a ragtag band of Sulu militants claiming ownership of the north
volatile situation in Sabah appears to be election fodder with both the
Philippines and Malaysia readying for national polls this year.
MANILA, Philippines - When the body of four-year-old Mark Escarmosa was
found in Metro Manila’s eastern suburban Rizal on April 4, his head was half
cut off from his neck, his knee-cap and internal organs were missing, a radio
Shocked, his parents, Elena and Marlon Escarmosa, told dzBB the
police claimed that autopsy could no longer be conducted on the decomposing
body of their son; that it would look into the possibility that he just met an
Earlier, they asked the local government of Pililia, Rizal, for an autopsy
and an investigation into the death of their son who went missing on March 19.
A total of 38 cases of child abduction have already
been reported to the police, the government-run Philippine New Agency
Majority of the cases involved children in depressed areas. The children
reportedly went missing after being followed by a man with garbage cans, or by
garbage collectors, PNA said.
But PNA did not clarify if the suspected abductors were believed as informal
garbage collectors who privately retrieve recycled materials from garbage bags
left out by homeowners for collection by government-run garbage collectors.
Last week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) officially said there is yet
no evidence to show that a criminal syndicate is behind the growing number
of missing children from Metro Manila’s depressed areas.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Parliament is officially dissolved!
After a long wait, Prime Minister Datuk
Seri Najib Razak today announced the dissolution of the 12th Parliament
of Malaysia over a live telecast on national television. The announcement was made at about 11.35am, paving the way for the 13th General Election. It
came after Datuk Seri Najib earlier this morning met the Yang
Di-Pertuan Agong at the National Palace to ask for his consent in
dissolving the parliament. The Agong signed his consent and Najib then
made his way to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya to chair the
last cabinet meeting before dissolution.
Upon announcing that the
parliament is now dissolved, Najib urged all Chief Ministers in the
country to meet their respective Heads of State to request for the
dissolution of the State Assembly so that every state's election can run
However the Negri Sembilan state assembly was
dissolved automatically last week on March 27 while Sarawak had its
state election last year in April.
Today also marks Datuk Seri Najib's fourth year in office as Malaysia's Prime Minister.
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine
Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said Monday (April 1) that Malaysia has imposed new
guidelines for barter traders in Sabah and Labuan, notably requiring Filipinos
and other foreigners to have passports or seaman’s books in order to enter
The new rules come amid the continuing tension between the Philippines and
its ASEAN neighbor Malaysia, over the case of hundreds of followers of the Sulu
Sultanate whom Malaysian security forces are pursuing for their attempt to
“reclaim our homeland,” Sabah.
The Sultanate claims it never relinquished ownership of the resource-rich
territory, which the British government gave to Malaysia when the latter was
federated. The Sulu sultanate had rented out Sabah to British merchants, and
continues to receive annual rental payments from Kuala Lumpur.
In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine embassy in
KL conveyed the Malaysian Foreign Ministry’s note verbale to all diplomatic
missions in that country: “With effect from 15 April 2013, all crews of barter
trade ships or vessels will be required to produce valid travel documents, i.e
international passport or seaman book at all entry ports in
Sabah. Seaman identification card (SIC) will no longer be issued to
crews of barter trade ships or vessels without valid travel documentation.”
The note verbale added: “Effective from 2 April 2013, permanent Custom and
Immigration Quarantine (CIQ) complexes will be operating at Ports of Kudat and
Lahad Datu as well as an Immigration Control office at Karakit, Pulau Banggi
where all immigration and customs procedures will be enforced at the said entry
Despite North Korea's highly-publicised missile tests, relatively little is known about the actual size and capabilities of its arsenal.
The regime is understood to have substantial numbers of short- and
intermediate-range missiles such as the Nodong, a variant on the Scud
With a range of around 1,000km, the Nodong could in theory strike in South
Korea and Japan.
However, its poor accuracy makes it an ineffective
battlefield weapon and it is unlikely North Korea would be able to pinpoint
US military bases in the region, although it could cause serious civilian
The middle-range Musudan missile is of major concern to Japan as its 4,000km
capability would allow the North Korean regime to strike anywhere in
Japanese territory. Estimates of the size of North Korea's Musudan arsenal
vary widely, with figures ranging from only a dozen to more than 200.
The Taepodong 1 was North Korea's first multi-stage missile, a significant
technological development where the weapon depends on different thrusters at
different times. However it has proved a poor performer, with limited range
and unreliable accuracy.
However, its older brother, the Taepodong 2, is treated far more seriously by
US defence authorities. The 40m missile is believed to have a range of
6,000km, meaning it could in theory hit Alaska. In December 2012, a variant
of the Taepodong 2 successfully launched a satellite into space.
Barry Pavel, a former senior director for defence policy at the White House's
National Security Council, described the launch as "a milestone".
"It's the same general technology as is required for intercontinental
nuclear missile, so it's a concern," he said.