KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A new Christian organization, called
Christians for Peace and Harmony Malaysia, will be launched on Tuesday, and the
presence of Prime Minister Najib Razak(photo) as guest-of-honor has led to
accusations that it is being used as a government tool.
However, its chairman, Rev Wong Kim Kong(photo) told Malaysian
Insider: “This is not true, Najib is not using us. We approached him to launch
our group and they (the government) have not funded us. And even if they were
to offer funding, we would not accept it.”
Rev Wong, a former secretary-general of the National
Evangelical Christian Fellowship, said leaders and representatives of 230
churches in the Klang Valley were expected for the launch ceremonies, together
with heads of the various religious groups.
Among those who will attend is Ibrahim Ali, head of the
Malay rights group Perkasa. However Wong reported to be disappointed with
opposition politicians who all declined because of Najib’s presence. “We sent
invitations to two top leaders of each party. But some have replied to say that
they cannot participate in an event where Najib is the guest of honour. They
have shown that they do not understand the objective of this, that we must come
together. They also forget that he (Najib) is still the PM of the land,” the
report quoted him as saying.
Wong said the idea of a new grouping arose from concerns
over the increasing tension over religion because of the ban on the use of the
word Allah in Bahasa Malaysia in a Catholic weekly, and the seizure of Bibles,
among other issues.
“Christians have been perceived to be against the government
and against Muslims. So these grassroots leaders came to me and said that it
was time to do something to pacify the situation,” said Wong, according to the
He said Najib’s endorsement of the new grouping was
recognition “for us to work with not only Christians but with everyone” and
would help to overcome misgivings when reaching out to those from other
religions to work for peace and harmony.
Wong said problems could not be solved through confrontation
or consultation. “Although I can understand why some are confrontational, in
the Malaysian context, the religious sensitivities do not permit us to solve
problems that way,” he was quoted as saying. Consultation, too, does not work
because we are suspicious of one another. The Muslims are suspicious of the
Christians and vice versa.”
He said the new group “would do things differently” through
love, and act as catalysts for citizens to promote peace and harmony. “We won’t
only work with Christians but with everyone”, he said according to the report.
LINCOLN, Nebraska: Nebraska abolished the death penalty on
Wednesday over the governor’s objections in a move pushed through the
Legislature with unusual backing from conservatives who oppose capital
punishment for religious, financial and practical reasons.
Senators in the one-house Legislature voted 30-19 to
override the veto of Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican who supports the death
penalty. The vote makes Nebraska the first traditionally conservative state to
eliminate the punishment since North Dakota in 1973.
The override vote — passed by the narrowest possible margin
— drew a burst of applause from death penalty opponents in the gallery above
the legislative chamber.
Nebraska joins 18 other states and the District of Columbia
in banning the ultimate punishment. Shortly after the vote, Ricketts issued a
statement condemning the Legislature.
“My words cannot express how appalled I am that we have lost
a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families,” Ricketts
said in a statement. “While the Legislature has lost touch with the citizens of
Nebraska, I will continue to stand with Nebraskans and law enforcement on this important issue.”
Nebraska’s action to repeal the death penalty is unusual
because of its traditionally conservative leanings.
Maryland was the last state
to end capital punishment, in 2013.
Three other moderate-to-liberal states have
done so in recent years: New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011 and Connecticut
Nebraska lost its ability to execute inmates in December
2013, when one of the three lethal injection drugs required by state law
expired. Many senators were swayed by the fact that state officials have
repeatedly failed to administer the punishment, calling the death penalty a
poorly managed and inefficient government program.
SOFIA, Bulgaria - A
Bulgarian mayor this week ordered the sprinkling of sugar on roads to ward off
“evil omens” and fight a recent increase in crashes.
“Due to the rising number of deadly road accidents in the
municipality, mayor Nikolay Grozev(picture) ordered the major roads to be sprinkled with
50 kilogrammes (110 pounds) of sugar,” said a statement from his office in Nova
Zagora, in southeastern Bulgaria.
“The initiative is based on an ancient legend according to
which dusting roads with sugar will chase away evil omens,” it added.
Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television showed
Grozev, armed with a packet of sugar, powdering a road.
Four people, including two children, died and another six
were injured in road accidents in the area in recent weeks.
DHAKA, Bangladesh - Another Bangladeshi blogger has received
a death threat as targeted killings of secular bloggers and personalities have
left at least three dead in the past three months.
Ananya Azad told Al Jazeera on Thursday that unidentified
suspects in a Facebook message had threatened to kill him and dump his body at
a national monument.
Azad, whose father Humayun was attacked by members of the
banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen organisation in 2004, said he would be killed in a
"similar manner" in order to silence others like him.
"Since you are the son of the atheist chief, we are
tense about you...we will kill you in a similar way, we will cut you to
pieces," the threat read.
Three liberal bloggers have been killed this year in
Bangladesh, the latest as recent as May 12.
Atheist blogger, Ananta Bijoy Das, was hacked to death by
unknown assailants in the Subid Bazar area of Sylhet city, 240km from the
capital Dhaka, as he walked to work.
Avijit Roy, a US-Bangladeshi who was visiting the country to
publicise his book criticising religion, was killed in February.
Some of the
suspects involved in Roy's death had confessed that he was targeted for his
online posts that they said were against Islam. Both Das and Roy were mentioned in a hit-list published by
hardline groups in 2013.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said 12 police officers had been arrested since early last year over their alleged involvement in human trafficking in the country.
Wan Junaidi told Parliament that police arrested four suspects, while the remaining eight were made by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission through several operations carried out since January last year.
He also gave an assurance that the authorities would ensure a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the discovery of camps of mass graves and human trafficking activities in the country, widening the scope of their investigations to include even the forest rangers.
Junaidi added the police, after receiving intelligence on the attempts
to smuggle migrants into the country, had organised several special
operations, including Ops Pintas, that saw over 290 illegal immigrants
and 43 syndicate members arrested.
He also said that the authorities had trouble locating the camps earlier as there was “absolutely no indication” of them even existing in the country as these camps were located in remote areas, atop a hill that was too steep to access on the country’s side but easier to do so through Thailand.
It is not easy to access the hill on Malaysia’s side and it takes three hours to reach on foot, Junaidi said.
The Home Ministry had initially denied the existence of human trafficking camps as its secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim said that police investigations showed no sign of them.
However,last week, 139 graves believed to contain bodies of human trafficking victims from Myanmar and Bangladesh were found in
The number of people in the world still going to bed hungry
15 years after the U.N. placed eradicating hunger and extreme poverty at the
top of its Millennium Development Goals has dropped to 800 million, according
to a report released on Wednesday.
South Asia faces the highest burden of hunger, where as many
as 281 million people lack sufficient food, U.N. agencies said.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of hunger,
with more than 23 percent of the population not getting enough to eat, the
This report made by three U.N. agencies claims that number
is a reduction of 167 million people over the last 10 years.
Only 72 of the world's 129 developing countries, 56 percent,
met the MDG of reducing the proportion of hungry people by half in the last 15
years, said the report, "State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015".
Poor governance, violent conflicts and protracted crises are
holding back many African nations. In 1990, 12 countries across the continent
were facing food crises.
Twenty years later the number has risen to 24,
including 19 that have been in crisis for more than eight of the previous 10
The regions that made the most progress include:
South America, where less than 5 percent of the population
faces hunger today, a reduction of more than 50 percent since 1990.
Central Asia, South East Asia and parts of North Africa
also showed significant progress, said the Food and Agriculture Organisation
(FAO) and other Rome-based U.N. agencies.
Economic growth alone often isn't enough to end hunger,
instead governments should focus on "inclusive growth", the report
Support for the poor through social investments, such as
cash transfer programmes, employment projects, food distribution schemes,
healthcare and education helped successful countries reduce the number of
hungry residents, U.N. agencies said.
Strong harvests in much of the world, coupled with reduced
oil prices, mean that global food costs are nearing a five-year low.
These trends, along with economic growth and other factors,
helped reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by 10 million in the past
year, according to the FAO.
In the developed countries, some 15 million people also
suffer from hunger. The next 10 years will be fundamental for eradicating hunge,
the report said.
Malaysia Airlines will send out its termination letters for 20,000 staff
beginning this Wednesday.
The letters will be signed by Datuk Mohammad Faiz Azmi, who
was appointed as the new airline Administrator by Khazanah Nasional today.
Bernama reports that the appointment of the administrator
will facilitate the transfer of selected assets and liabilities from MAS to the
new company, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), effectively by Sept 1.
According to a statement by Khazanah, MAS would continue to
operate throughout the period up to and including Aug 31, after which MAB will
operate the business of the airline from Sept 1 onwards.
The appointment is a voluntary undertaking by Khazanah and
is made pursuant to the Malaysian Airline System Bhd (Administration) Act 2015
(MAS Act), which was passed by Parliament last year.
The MAS Act provides for an effective, efficient and
seamless means for the transition of the business, property, rights, liabilities
and affairs of MAS to MAB.
The transition from MAS to MAB is a key component of the
12-point MAS Recovery Plan (MRP), which was announced on Aug 29, 2014, to
restructure the national carrier and set it on a path towards sustainable
According to sources within the airline, MAS was already
saddled with debts for several years, while the MH370 and MH17 incidents made
This exercise will probably go down in the history books as
the most number of people to lose their jobs in a single day.
According to the source, some staff may get an offer to join
the new company – MAB Bhd, while others may be offered to be part of the
Corporate Development Centre.
The CDC was set up with the aim of retraining MAS staff who
have been terminated.
Seemingly Tourists stripping down to their skivvies at
Tourists around the world have been doing stripping down in
sacred spots like Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu and capturing their bare butts,
breasts, and beyond to share on Instagram.
But authorities aren’t taking the “naked tourism” business
lightly, folks caught in the act are getting fined, deported, and even banned
from visiting the countries.
In response to a rash of cheeky antics at Angkor Wat, the
ancient holy archaeological complex in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, officials
will translate the Visitor Code of Conduct into multiple languages and post it
at the entrance to the temples starting in July.
They are hoping to curb incidents like the one that occurred
earlier this month, when three tourists were arrested for taking photos of
their bare bottoms in front of the temples. In February, two American sisters were found guilty of
breaking the code at the site’s Preah Khan temple. Lindsey and Leslie Adams, of
Prescott, Ariz., “lowered their pants to their knees and took pictures of their
buttocks,” a local police official stated.
The women each received a six-month suspended sentence and a
fine of 1 million riel (about $245); they were also deported and banned from entering
Cambodia for four years.
That followed an incident in January 2015, when three
Frenchmen bared all in front of one of the Buddhist temples. They, too,
received suspended sentences, fines, deportation and a four-year ban and
their camera equipment was confiscated.
An Italian and an Argentinian men were literally “caught
with their pants down,” as a third person, a Dutch woman, snapped photos.
Sentences for the
trio have yet to be handed down, but it’s likely they’ll receive the same
treatment as others who have been convicted of violating the code, which
states: “Any act of looting, breaking or damaging Angkor, or exposing sex
organs and nudity in public area is a crime punishable by law.”
Signs at Machu Picchu also warn tourists to respect the
UNESCO World Heritage Site; explaining that removing clothes is a “crime
The warnings were posted following a string of nude
escapades. Most notable was a video of a couple streaking through the sacred
Police in Peru detained the New Zealander and Australian in
2013, but it inspired a wave of similar behavior.
In 2014, several groups of tourists; Americans, Australians,
and Canadians used iPhones and a camcorder to document themselves in the buff
at the site. Amichay Rab, an Israeli accountant, posed nude on one of the
ancient rocks and posted the shot (along with others he took throughout Central
and South America) on his blog, My Naked Trip. Paul Marshall, whose Facebook page and Twitter account Naked at
Monuments documents his and others’quests to strip down and take photographs at historic sites.
SYDNEY , Australia - A mother has abandoned her two children and fled
to Syria for a new life under the Islamic State group, media reported Tuesday,
becoming one of more than 100 Australians who have joined the jihadists. The Australian government said it was deeply disturbed by
the report and that it was monitoring the situation closely.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph said Jasmina Milovanov, a
26-year-old Muslim convert, left her children, aged five and seven, with a
babysitter earlier this month and never returned.
It cited her ex-husband as saying she sent a text message
telling him she was in Syria.
Milovanov is Facebook friends with former Melbourne woman
Zehra Duman, who is known in Australia as the “jihadi bride recruiter” and uses
social media to entice women to join the militant group.
Duman’s husband Mahmoud Abdullatif was reportedly killed
fighting with the Islamic State group earlier this year.
Friends of Milovanov, cited by the Telegraph, said she had
often talked about marrying a jihadi fighter.
New South Wales state police confirmed its counter-terrorism
unit was investigating.