Karpal Singh: Bye-bye, Jangan main-main/Don’t fool around !


Karpal-singh_Tell SpeakerStanding his ground:Karpal telling the Speaker: “I have a right to be here” as the police wait to escort him out in May 1981.  Images for Karpal Singh imagesTributes for Karpal Singh’s Quotes:

“Jangan main-main” – a catchphrase of sorts for the statesman, Karpal Singh said this on many occasions – to the Registrar of Societies when his beloved party was faced with the threat of deregistration, after being sent live bullets by thugs.

“The tiger is still alive and … a wounded tiger is even more dangerous.” – Karpal in April 1995 after DAP was defeated in Penang. The then-state chairman said the defeat did not mean the end of the opposition in Penang.

“I know what it is like to lose your liberties. So I want to go on being in Parliament as long as I can.” – Karpal in 1995, when asked about his determination during the general elections campaign period.

“For there to be integration in essence and spirit, I hope all restrictions in the way of uniting the people are removed.” – Karpal in June 1995, welcoming the move to integrate the legal systems of Sabah, Sarawak and West Malaysia.

“Offences perpetrated upon children, particularly infants, are the most heinous of offences because children are defenceless against such attacks.” Despite his dislike of capital punishment, Karpal felt that those who committed crimes against children deserved harsh sentences.

“Singh is King.” A reference to a popular Bollywood movie with the same catchphrase, Karpal used the line several times including after he received live bullets in the mail (prefaced with “jangan main-main”).

“I do not intend to give up. The Opposition has a big role to play in this country.” – Karpal after his accident in 2005 which left him in a wheelchair.

“There are always people who are insensitive, we just have to take it. There is nothing you can do about it. We cannot be discouraged, as that’s exactly what our enemies would want.” – Karpal in a Sept 2006 interview with The Star.

“Once you are in this situation, you realise how little the disabled have in this country. Governments in many countries make lots of allowances to include them in society. We haven’t reached that stage. I will do what I can to make sure the disabled are given all opportunities in line with other countries.” – Karpal in 2006, commenting on the lack of disabled-friendly infrastructure and legislation in Malaysia.

“We may have our differences with PAS but it is a solid, principled party and an important ally.” – Karpal in 2012. “My parents wanted me to be a doctor but I would have been a lousy doctor!” – Karpal in a 2010 interview with The Star.

“I am not questioning the privileges. I am asking how long they will be implemented.” – Karpal in 2010, asking the Government for a time frame for the gradual removal of special privileges accorded to Malays and other bumiputras, in the spirit of 1Malaysia.

“As long as I am alive, I will continue to struggle to see a non-Malay become prime minister.” – Karpal in 2012, saying the Federal Constitution did not provide that only Malays could be prime minister.

WWII ‘slaves’ sue Japan firms


Japan_forced laboursAbout 700 people who were forced to work in Japan during World War II filed a lawsuit in east China’s Shandong Province on Tuesday, demanding both an apology and compensation from two China-based Japanese companies.

more Images for Japanese WWII forced labour

LiveLeak.com – Chinese sue Japanese companies over slave labor in WWII, asking for 1 million yuan compensation per person

Four representatives on behalf of the former laborers signed a letter, authorizing a legal aid team to file the lawsuit at Shandong Higher People’s Court.

Mitsubishi Corporation (Qingdao) Ltd. and Yantai Mitsubishi Cement Co., Ltd., which are accused of forcing laborers from Shandong to Japan to work during the war, are being sued 1 million yuan (160,700 US dollars) per victim in compensation. The laborers also want a written apology published in major newspapers in China, said Fu Qiang, executive head of the legal aid team and head of Shandong Pengfei Law Office.

Fu said the two Mitsubishi companies are not directly connected but affiliated to the original perpetrator, Mitsubishi Materials Corp in Japan.

“The two companies are foreign-owned enterprises in China, and subject to Chinese law,” said Fu.

This is the second time the laborers have brought a compliant to court. In September 2010, six laborers, on behalf of 1,000 Chinese from Shandong, brought a lawsuit against the two companies. The court refused to accept the case.

Around 40,000 Chinese, one-fourth of whom were from Shandong, were forced to work in Japan during the war. Of these workers, 7,000 died in Japan. Thirty-five Japanese companies are believed to have been involved in forced labor from 1937 to 1945, when Japan invaded China.

Quoting government figures, Wang Wanying, one of the four representatives and son of a victim, said out of 1,500 laborers brought to Japan from Shandong’s Yuncheng County, only 130 people returned home alive.

“My father was lucky enough to survive,” said 55-year-old Wang. “We will carry on to seek justice,” he said.

Japanese courts have rejected all compensation claims in 15 lawsuits filed by forced Chinese laborers since the 1990s, saying that a 1972 bilateral agreement nullified Chinese rights to seek war-related compensation.

However, former Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, said in March 1995 that although China had discarded national reparations, the government did not abandon its people’s rights to demand compensation.

On March 26, nine former laborers filed a lawsuit against Coke Industry Co., Ltd. of Japan, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and the Japanese government at Tangshan City Intermediate People’s Court. They are requesting compensation. A decision to accept the case has not been made yet.

On March 18, the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court accepted a lawsuit against Coke Industry Co., Ltd. of Japan and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation over the matter, the first such case to be accepted in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan should seriously address issues of forced labor, take a responsible attitude and seriously treat and properly handle the issues left over from history. – Xinhua

Malaysia paying the price for flight MH370 !


Flight MH370: Paying The Price Of 6 Decades Of Nepotism, Racism, Rampant Corruption And Incompetence

On January 23, 2008 a very peculiar thing happened. Commercial airspace at one of the world’s busiest airports was shut down for over 50 minutes. On that day, an aircraft without an approved flight plan entered Singapore’s airspace. Immediately, the Republic of Singapore Air Force dispatched a pair of F-16D fighter jets to intercept the aircraft and escorted it to land at Singapore Changi Airport. Upon landing, airport police immediately surrounded the plane.

“At 6.42pm (2142 AEDT), two Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16 fighters were scrambled to intercept a civilian aircraft, a Cessna 208, which was heading towards Singapore airspace without an approved flight plan,” the ministry’s director of public affairs, Colonel Darius Lim, said in a statement. “The aircraft was escorted to land at Singapore Changi Airport.”

The above incident highlights the standard operating protocol an Air Force, Civil Aviation Authority and Local Police Force needs to follow in the event of an unidentified aircraft entering it’s airspace without an approved flight plan.

However amidst this hoo-ha, there was one small detail worth noting. The plane took off from Koh Samui, Thailand. And running the full length between Thailand and Singapore is the land mass of Peninsular Malaysia.

In essence, this means that the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia and the Royal Malaysian Air Force had allowed an unknown aircraft to invade over 131 thousand square km of sovereign Malaysian territory and despite this occurring over a period of 3 hours, did not lift a finger to respond.

This incident highlighted a huge security flaw in Malaysia’s Air Defence umbrella. One that if it had patched during any of the subsequent 6 years that followed, would have prevented a bigger tragedy that came with greater embarrassment, scrutiny and loss.

6 years later on 8 March 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing. It never landed at its intended destination. Instead, less than an hour after take-off, the transponder was turned off and 3 sets of military radars tracked the plane flying past Penang and across the breadth of Malaysia from the Gulf of Thailand towards the Indian Ocean.

Unlike the Cessna airplane in the earlier example which was intercepted by the RSAF, 3 sets of people manning Malaysia’s military radars never sounded any alarms. The RMAF never dispatched any fighter jets on standby and the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia never shut down Malaysian airspace when a rogue plane very much larger than a Cessna aircraft flew across it’s airspace.

Suffice to say, had the Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia or the RMAF been doing their job properly as exemplified by the example given above, we would not have gone 9 days and counting into a search for a missing and possibly hijacked plane.

Investigators may have recently concluded that the plane had its transponders deliberately turned off and its flight plan deliberately altered but it is the greater observing public who have the biggest conclusion of all; that Malaysian leadership is sorely incompetent when it comes to handling a crisis. In this respect, Malaysia has much to learn from its Southern neighbour. Had the supposed hijackers targeted a plane flying through a more efficient jurisdiction, the outcome would have been very different today.

Malaysia Flip Flop

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Bitcoin: cryptocurrency rising, money talks, mining boom sputters


Bitcoin_cryptocurrency

The Internet has spawned a new form of currency that’s purely digital called Bitcoin. 

Picture this — a high speed car chase with a slew of journalists trying to keep up with a celebrity as they hound him around Los Angeles, California.

The only problem is that inside the lead car isn’t Brad Pitt or even Christian Bale, but a rather unassuming 64-year-old man of Japanese descent named Dorian Nakamoto.

 The car chase started when Newsweek claimed in an article that he was the mysterious ­creator of Bitcoin who goes under the ­pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, after which a slew of journalists flocked to his home for comment.

Whether he is indeed the fabled founder is still unclear but the media storm revolving around Bitcoin’s creator is a sign of how much interest it’s generating in technology circles.

In this article we take a look at the concept of Bitcoin and how this so-called cryptocurrency works.

Real world, virtual ­currency 

Today, currency or money is produced by the national banks of each country and is accepted as legal tender to be exchanged for goods or services. While we take it for granted, currency is a pretty abstract concept made real by a few pieces of paper and metal which we can exchange for products that have value to us.

It used to be that countries like the United States backed up its ­currency with gold reserves but since 1971 this is no longer the case and now its value is determined by governmental regulation or law. This form of money is also known as fiat currency.

CRYPTOCURRENCY:  A strange revolution on the Net has started a form of currency known as Bitcoin.

Then we have credit cards and online payment gateways like Paypal which make it possible to conduct a transaction without ­actually exchanging hard cash.

However, when you drill down to it, the system is always based on currency produced by the national banks.

Over the past few years, though, a strange revolution on the Net has started a form of currency known as Bitcoin, ­created by private ­individuals ­without national bank or ­government involvement.

In fact, the actual creator of Bitcoin itself has been shrouded in mystery — although credited to Satoshi Nakamoto, the name is believed to be a pseudonym and while a few individuals have been identified, none have been definitively proven to be the elusive ­creator.

V for volatility 

Being digital, Bitcoin itself has no built-in intrinsic value, except what its users assign to it. As such, the price of Bitcoin can vary quite a bit.

As a sign perhaps that the ­currency is gaining more ­acceptance, the value of Bitcoin has gone up in the last few years — today, the price of a single Bitcoin hovers at around RM1,300, although it has gone up as high as RM5,000.

VALUABLE: Today, the price of a single Bitcoin hovers at around RM1,300, although it has gone up as high as RM5,000. — AFP

When it first started, a single Bitcoin was worth very little, and slowly rose to US$1 (about RM3.10) and finally to its current value.

However, if you’re thinking of buying Bitcoin as a form of investment, do be aware that the sheer volatility of Bitcoin does mean that your virtual currency could be worth nothing in the future, or it could be worth a lot.

Is it legal?

This is perhaps the crux of the matter — is Bitcoin legal or illegal?

So far, Bitcoin itself is not illegal and in most countries, there are no restrictions to its use amongst ­parties who accept it as currency.

However, some countries have moved to limit the use of Bitcoin. China, for example, does not allow financial institutions to deal with Bitcoin.

LEGAL TENDER?: A shop in Hong Kong. Some countries have moved to limit the use of Bitcoin. China, for example, does not allow financial institutions to deal with Bitcoin. — AFP

The situation is similar here and Bank Negara has released a short official statement on Bitcoin in January, stating that “… Bitcoin is not recognised as legal tender in Malaysia. The Central Bank does not regulate the operations of Bitcoin. The public is therefore advised to be cautious of the risks associated with the usage of such digital currency.”

Last month, The Star ran a story on the dangers of Bitcoin (Be wary of virtual money, M’sians told) but the currency is still widely used in ­technology circles. According to Nook Malaysia chief executive Daniel Yap, the fact that it is not “legal tender” does not make its use a crime. It simply means that Bitcoin is not regulated by Bank Negara and thus will not be recognised by any bank or financial institution in this country as legal tender.

However, it is not illegal for ­private businesses and users to deal in Bitcoin and Nook Malaysia is one of the local companies that accepts Bitcoin.

According to Yap, even if the government moved to ban Bitcoin use, it would be difficult to stop private individuals from dealing in it.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin as a concept is simple — it’s essentially digital currency. Dig deeper into the concept, however, and it gets fairly complicated.

Bitcoin (or BTC which is also the symbol used for the currency) is defined as a form of ­cryptocurrency that utilises peer-to-peer ­transactions, a decentralised system where users across the Internet handle the payment network ­without a central authority or any kind of middlemen.

Users can make transactions and get paid in Bitcoin almost immediately, much like how it works with more conventional systems like PayPal.

However, where it differs is that because Bitcoin transactions are managed by a peer-to-peer system without various companies (such as your credit card company or PayPal) taking a “cut” of the money, the transaction charge for dealing in Bitcoin is either nil or a lot lower.

As the transactions are processed by machines on the peer-to-peer network, the “peers” within the network actually receive the ­transaction fee if there is one. This means that transaction fees are received by the community itself instead of a third party.

As for security, users on peer-to-peer network who run the full Bitcoin client have a copy of a virtual ledger called the “block chain” — this contains a list of every Bitcoin transaction ever processed.

The authenticity of each ­transaction in this ledger is ­authenticated by digital signatures and as every person running the full Bitcoin client has a copy of it, the transactions are also checked against others in the network.

As you may well imagine, the block chain is quite large and ­getting larger every day — last we checked, it was about 14GB in size.

Get started

Using Bitcoin to pay for goods and services is actually easier than trying to explain it. To get started, all a user needs is to install the ­wallet application, which is ­available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and even Android.

At its most basic, the wallet app allows users to send and receive Bitcoin currency. While you can run a dedicated application on your PC to send and receive Bitcoins, some sites like Blockchain.info also allow you to perform transactions using a simple web browser.

[VIRTUAL MONEY: A digital wallet used to store Bitcoins is displayed at a Bitcoin conference on at the Javits Center in New York City. — AFP

To be clear, sites like Blockchain.info are not “online banks” and do not actually keep your Bitcoin ­currency — they simply make ­transactions more convenient.

Android smartphone users can download the Blockchain app for sending and receiving Bitcoin ­currency, but due to Apple’s ­restrictions, there is no such app on iOS.

To receive money, every person gets a public address, which is a long string of letters and numbers. For convenience, this string of ­letters and numbers can also be represented by a QR code, which can be scanned by smartphones with a Bitcoin app.

This public address allows other users to deposit money into your account but not take money out from it.

The current value of a ­single Bitcoin is hovering at about RM1,300, which is probably too large to pay for most goods or ­services. However, it is possible to send a fraction of a Bitcoin — ­currently, a single Bitcoin can be split up into a fraction of up to a million, so you can send it in much smaller denominations.

A Numoni Bitcoin Automatic Vending Machine

Once you install the wallet application, you can actually get bitcoins either by receiving it from other users, or buying it from an “exchange” or simply mining for it.

An exchange is an online ­company that will sell you Bitcoins for real money. A relatively new development in this country is the so-called Bictoin AVM (automatic vending machines), where you trade real cash for Bitcoin.

When we first started writing this story, there were two Bitcoin AVMs — one in Bangsar Shopping Complex in Kuala Lumpur and another in Gurney Plaza, Penang. There is also a local website at ­cryptomarket.my which sells Bitcoin Scratch Cards of various denominations similar to mobile phone credit top ups.

Private address

Every Bitcoin wallet app has what is called a private address which is similar to your public address in that it’s also represented by a long string of letters and numbers. This private address is essentially the key to unlocking your wallet and allows you to send out Bitcoin currency to others.

Most Bitcoin wallet apps hide your private address from you since it’s not necessary to know it to send or receive Bitcoin.

However, most wallet apps allow you to “backup” this private address by printing it out or writing it down to be stored in a safe place.

It’s important to never reveal your private address, as this ­represents your actual wallet. Anybody who knows your private address can effectively take control of your ­wallet and transfer all your Bitcoin out of it into their own ­wallet.

Mining for more

Mining is the term used to refer to machines that run special software to “mine” for bitcoins. Although the term mining is used, what a machine that runs the ­mining ­software ­actually does is process ­transactions and secure the network, as well as keep everyone in the Bitcoin ­network ­synchronised.

Processing of transactions and securing the network involves a ­highly secure and complicated encryption system and as such requires pretty hefty computing power.

In the early days of Bitcoin, ­individual users could easily use a PC to mine for Bitcoins. But as more Bitcoins have surfaced, the system, by design, has become more ­complicated and requires specialised machines running powerful ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) chips.

As such, a number of companies have sprung up around the world that run specialised machines ­dedicated to mining for Bitcoins.

As an incentive for contributing to the system, Bitcoin miners get a twofold reward — first, in the form of transaction fees, and second, the system itself can reward miners by producing new Bitcoins.

NOT EASY TO MINE: Bitcoin mining hardware — each specialised ASIC-based mining machine is equivalent to 180 PCs! — AFP

Don’t expect to be able to easily mine for Bitcoins using a regular PC — each specialised ASIC-based ­mining machine is equivalent to 180 PCs with powerful graphic chips installed and as such, using a regular PC for mining could take years to yield any Bitcoins.

Regular users who still want to try mining for Bitcoins can band together to share computing power over a network by joining what’s called a “mining pool”. If you’re interested in mining for Bitcoins check out www.bitcoinmining.com.

Future of Bitcoin

In many ways, Bitcoin is still in its infancy with many countries ­taking a wait-and-see approach as to whether to accept as legal tender.

This lack of regulation also means that there is effectively no enforcement when there is theft — while there are ways to trace the perpetrators, there is no way to force Bitcoin thieves to return what they’ve stolen.

Money Talks

There are hundreds of ­vendors across the world that accept Bitcoin as a valid form of ­currency in exchange for goods and services.

While Bitcoin acceptance has grown in many neighbouring countries, including Singapore and Thailand, according to coinmap.org, which keeps a list of worldwide businesses that accept Bitcoin, only three businesses in Malaysia currently accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. The three are The Nook Bangsar (nook.my), Ked.ai (ked.ai) and Footsteps (www.footsteps.com.my).

Daniel Yap started accepting Bitcoins as a

Daniel Yap started accepting Bitcoins as a “social experiment” since November, to help encourage its use in this country.

The chief executive officer of Nook Malaysia, Daniel Yap, says he started accepting Bitcoins as a “social experiment” since November. Yap, who operates a co-working space in Bangsar, started to accept Bitcoin to help encourage its use in this country.

“If you don’t encourage people to use it, then it will never be adopted,” he said

“Bitcoin may not be the ­ultimate form of ­cryptocurrency or decentralised currency, but it’s certainly the most well known. But the whole ­movement is beyond Bitcoin, as it’s about going towards unregulated ­currency,” he said.

Right now, though, the ­percentage of customers who pay via Bitcoin for Nook’s co-working space is very small, according to Yap, and it’s mostly foreigners.

Muaaz Mohamad Nor, owner of Footsteps who operates kayak tours and sells outdoor gear, says that the number of customers who pay via Bitcoin are similarly small, although in his case, they’re mostly Malaysians.

“My opinion is that there are three factors that affect Bitcoin adoption — education, Internet access and desperation,” said Muaaz.

Muaaz Mohamad Nor says that accepting Bitcoin is better for a 'mom-and-pop' style shop like his.
Muaaz Mohamad Nor says that accepting Bitcoin is better for a ‘mom-and-pop’ style shop like his.

Muaaz explains that in countries where the first two criteria are met, weak currency will usually push people to start adopting Bitcoin as a form of currency.

“The practical reason for me to start accepting Bitcoin is that it’s relatively low-cost for mom and pop shops like mine, and in the wider view, I like the idea of an alternative to fiat currency,” he said.

Unlike fiat currency, which derives its value from goverment regulation or law, Bitcoin’s value is determined by its users and the value they place on the ­currency.

“If you look at the value of Bitcoin, it suffered three major crashes over the years but its value has quickly risen again. You can’t say that about most other currency crashes,” he said.

According to Muaaz, he used to own some 5,000 Bitcoins which he bought for just five euros in 2007 when he was studying and living in Germany.

“Back then it was hip to pay for stuff using Bitcoin,” he said. When asked about how much of those 5,000 Bitcoins he still holds, Muaaz laughs and said, “None of it!” At current exchange rates, if he had held on it would be worth some RM6.35mil.

However, both Muaaz and Yap have opted to hold on to the Bitcoins they’ve obtained from their businesses rather than ­convert it to cash.

Bitcoin business: Arsyan Ismail says that he likes Bitcoin because of the decentralised, open and instantaneous nature of the cryptocurrency.

Arsyan Ismail says that he likes Bitcoin because of the decentralised, open and instantaneous nature of the cryptocurrency.

Arsyan Ismail, chief excutive officer of 1337 Tech Sdn Bhd and creator of. Ked.ai, an online ­marketplace that also accepts Bitcoin, says that he likes it because of the decentralised, open and instantaneous nature of the cryptocurrency.

Currently, Arsyan enables merchants who sell products on Ked.ai to accept Bitcoin and will convert it to cash for them automatically. However, like the other local online retailers, ­payments made with Bitcoin on Ked.ai still amounts to a very small ­percentage.

Arsyan says the biggest hurdle to Bitcoin acceptance is that most people find it very hard to understand the concept, and there are no local exchanges for buying and selling Bitcoin.

“What I’ve seen in Malaysia is that there are two sides — a community of miners who have Bitcoins but don’t know where to sell it, and on the other side, a group who wants to buy Bitcoin but don’t know where to get it,” he said.

The function of Bitcoin exchanges is to bring these two groups together but without an official one the flow of Bitcoins from miners to buyers is a little more complicated, he said.

Contributed by Tan Kit Hoong The Star/Asia News Network

Bitcoin Mining Boom Sputters as Prospectors Face Losses 
Bitcoin_Boom sputters

Portland: The bitcoin mining rush is sputtering.

Speculators, known as miners, use powerful computers to solve complex software problems and verify transactions to unlock new bitcoins. They’re finding that the enterprise isn’t as profitable as it once was.

Drawn by the virtual currency’s jump in value last year, digital prospectors have turned the mining industry into an arms race as they buy expensive computing equipment and gobble up electricity. While that worked well as long as bitcoin’s value kept rising, smaller players are now being crowded out by bigger competition, high utility bills and declining prices.

“If you mine at the moment, you have to be very lucky to get anything,” said Mehmet Vatansever, who bought $16,000 worth of mining computers in February to chase after new bitcoins. “It’s a very difficult business.”

Mining, a nod to the excavation of minerals and metal ore, is entirely digital and part of bitcoin’s design, so that the money self-regulates supply and prevents out-of-control inflation. The mining process gets increasingly complicated as more bitcoins are created, driving demand for computing power.

Bitcoins, which jumped to more than $1,200 last year from $12, were trading at about $420 apiece yesterday, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index, an average of prices across major global exchanges. China’s tighter controls on alternative currencies, the implosion of the Mt.Gox exchange and a U.S. Internal Revenue Service ruling that bitcoins should be taxed as a property have all weighed on the virtual currency.

Used Equipment

While he has been able to create new bitcoins, Vatansever soon discovered that his equipment was on track to earn less than his monthly utility bill of $480. After selling his computers on EBay Inc. in April, Vatansever estimates that he lost a total of about $6,000 on his mining adventure.

In the past week, miners made $14.9 million in revenue, compared with a weekly average of $25.2 million in December, according to Blockchain.info, a bitcoin-data aggregator. The figures represent the number of bitcoins mined plus transaction fees, multiplied by the dollar-based market price.

EBay now features more than 1,600 listings for mining computers, many of them used.

“The mining market has evolved from being mostly isolated ventures to more organized entrepreneurial ventures that are still racing to get an edge with increasingly fast equipment and lower electricity costs,” Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc., said in an interview. “At this point, the opportunity for individual miners is very small.”

Big Miners

While individuals give up prospecting, at least two other larger mining companies, KnCMiner and Cloud Hashing, are still generating profits. By scaling up operations, they’ve been able to save costs on cooling and power, making their computers more efficient and cost-effective. KnCMiner also sells mining computers to other miners.

KnCMiner, based in Stockholm, operates about 7,000 machines. While the mining company’s electric bill in March came to $450,000, the computers mined 21,000 bitcoins, according to co-founder Sam Cole.

Cloud Hashing, which lets people buy computing capacity in its data center and share in profits, mines about $230,000 to $260,000 worth of bitcoins a day, according to Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Abiodun.

“We are profitable whether we sell contracts or not — through mining,” Abiodun said in an interview. “Our business model can handle volatility in pricing.”

Sales Shift

Mining-equipment suppliers are feeling the cool-down firsthand. CoinTerra Inc., a manufacturer of the powerful computers used to crunch numbers for new bitcoins, has seen new sales shrink by 30 percent in the past three weeks from the preceding period, according to CEO Ravi Iyengar.

Mining-equipment suppliers are also detecting early signs of a shift to new virtual currencies. Approximately 250 KnCMiner customers switched their orders from $10,000 computers to similarly priced alternative-currency mining machines in the past three weeks, according to Cole.

Because they are newer, designed differently and currently mined by fewer people, currencies such as Litecoin can be more profitable, according to CoinWarz, which tracks mining activity.

“The new rush right now is Litecoin,” Colin Lusk, a network engineer in Portland, Oregon, said in an interview.

While he once mined only bitcoins, Lusk now uses five of his eight machines to produce Litecoins and other virtual currencies. Created in 2011, Litecoin is similar in design to bitcoin yet requires less computing power.

A $3,500 computer can produce $25 worth of Litecoins a day for $3 in electricity, while producing $20 worth of bitcoins would cost $17, Lusk said.

Math Problem

Andrew Korb, another miner, said buying bitcoins outright is easier than participating in the mining arms race. While Korb and fellow investors have spent 900 bitcoins on mining equipment since last year, they have only generated 77 units of the virtual currency, he said.
“People do the math,” said CoinTerra’s Iyengar. “If the price goes down significantly, people realize they may be better off buying bitcoins directly from an exchange rather than buying machines.” 

Contributed by  Olga Kharif Bloomberg

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New kid on the block: Singapore’s ‘shoebox king’ Oxley spices up Kuala Lumpur a record RM3,300 per sq ft


IN just 10 months, Singapore-listed Oxley Holdings Ltd has quietly amassed a gross development value (GDV) of close to RM10bil in Malaysia.

That’s RM1bil for every month since it first bought land in Kuala Lumpur last May – a tough act to follow even for the most seasoned developer.

And it isn’t stopping there.

Known as the “shoebox king” in Singapore, Oxley has hired former Selangor State Development Corp (PKNS) general manager Datuk Othman Omar as CEO of its Malaysian operations, indicating its seriousness in making Malaysia a core market.

Oxley now has on its plate 15 projects outside of Singapore – one in the UK, four in Cambodia, two in China and eight in Malaysia.

Only a month into the job, Othman already has his hands full with enquiries from landowners for joint-ventures, as well as expressions of interest for properties that Oxley Malaysia is yet to launch.

“Oxley has the brand name and database of buyers. However, we have to careful with whom we work with,” he tells StarBizWeek.

“You’ll be surprised at how many land pockets there are in Kuala Lumpur. We must be selective with not just the location, but also the business model.”

Othman, who studied civil engineering in Tasmania, had helmed PKNS for five years until his contract expired on Jan 31, injecting a much-needed private sector efficiency into the state-owned unit.

Under his watch it even achieved a record profit in 2011 of RM420mil.

He had had a stellar run in PKNS at least until the end of his term, when it became clear that he and Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim could no longer see eye-to-eye.

Before his contract expired, Othman was removed as general manager and transferred to the state secretariat to facilitate an investigation over the controversial sacking of Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali as a PKNS board member.

But all that is water under the bridge now for Othman. He looks eager to have work for his hands again, after taking a short break in February to perform the umrah.

While he hesitates to delve into project details due to the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations, property sources say Oxley Malaysia’s landbank includes parcels on Jalan Ampang worth RM2.5bil-RM3bil, Jalan Hang Tuah (RM3bil), Section 16, Petaling Jaya (RM900mil), Beverly Heights in Ampang (RM900mil), Seputeh (RM120mil), Medini in Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia (RM1bil) and Fettes Road, Penang (RM1.5bil).

More JVs with landowners are understood to be in the pipeline.

Quick turnaround

According to Othman, Oxley favours integrated developments and a “quick turnaround”.

“The margins may not be as high (if turnaround is fast), but the banks love us because of our cashflow. That kind of velocity also reduces our finance and holding cost, and we don’t need to wait for years to realise the profits.

“We are aiming for affordability – build it fast and sell it cheap.”

Oxley made headlines here in November when it acquired a prized stretch of land along Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur from the Loke Wan Yat estate for some RM450mil, or a record RM3,300 per sq ft.


The project – which will comprise a mall, two luxury hotels, serviced residences, offices and a theme park – is a stone’s throw from KLCC and opposite from Corus Hotel.


Big name investors such as Lembaga Tabung Haji, BlackRock, five-star hotel chains Jumeirah and Waldorf Astoria, and theme park operator Sanderson are speculated to have shown an interest in the development, industry executives say.

On Jalan Hang Tuah, Oxley Malaysia is planning residences and a three- or four-star hotel with 350 rooms and retail space.

The land, acquired by a local company in a government tender, is across the road from the Hang Tuah monorail and LRT stations.

Oxley’s plot in Section 16 near the Phileo Damansara commercial complex could feature residences starting from RM650 per sq ft and some retail space to serve a proposed three- or four-star business hotel.

Othman says he may delay sales for Robson Heights, an 80-unit premium dwelling in Seputeh in the vicinity of Mid Valley Megamall, given the current soft market conditions.

Depending on the market, Oxley Malaysia could roll out the Jalan Ampang, Jalan Hang Tuah and Section 16 properties this year, he adds.

“We’re already seeing strong interest in the Hang Tuah project from en bloc buyers. Some have offered to take up 50%. But we need to make sure they aren’t speculators,” Othman quips.

This is a lot to handle for the new kid on the block. Can Othman take the heat?

“Our competition is not the other developers,” he replies coolly. “It’s what we don’t know yet.”

Former PKNS chief Othman now CEO of Oxley”

PETALING JAYA: Barely a month after leaving the Selangor State Development Corp (PKNS), Datuk Othman Omar (pic) has been tapped by Singapore-listed developer Oxley Holdings Ltd to head its Malaysian operations as CEO, overseeing eight projects worth almost RM10bil in gross development value (GDV).

According to a stock exchange filing last Friday, Othman, 54, was appointed CEO of Oxley’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Oxley Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd, on March 1.

Othman, a civil engineer by training, had previously served as general manager of PKNS for five years until his contract expired on Jan 31.

Oxley, which has a market capitalisation of S$2bil (RM5.22bil), was listed on Singapore’s Catalist Market in Oct 2010 before transferring to the Mainboard in February last year.

Oxley Tower KL

Oxley Tower KL Sky scraperThe firm, better known for its shoebox apartments in Singapore, made headlines here in November when it bought a highly-coveted piece of land along Jalan Ampang from the Loke Wan Yat estate for some RM450mil, or a record RM3,300 per sq ft.

Images for KLCC Wisma Central, Restaurant Chef Choi …

The prime freehold land, down the road from KLCC and sandwiched between Wisma Central and a Chinese temple, is currently occupied by Restaurant Chef Choi, Nasi Kandar Pelita and four bungalows.

Property sources told StarBiz that Oxley’s estimated RM9bil-RM10bil portfolio in Malaysia included the Jalan Ampang project with a GDV of RM2.5bil, developments in Jalan Hang Tuah and Medini Iskandar worth RM3bil and RM1bil, respectively, and others in Selangor and Penang.

Under Othman’s watch, PKNS implemented a full open tender system in 2010, which resulted in savings of RM100mil a year.

He had also inked integrity pacts with PKNS’ vendors and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, even as he sought to inject private-sector efficiency into the otherwise staid government-linked corporation (GLC).

But towards the end of his term, Othman fell out with Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim over the running of PKNS.

Before his contract expired, Othman was also removed as general manager and transferred to the state secretariat to facilitate an investigation over the controversial sacking of Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali as a PKNS board member.

Still, sources close to Othman claim he had not been short on job offers from other GLCs and listed firms in Singapore and Malaysia.

For the six months to Dec 31, 2013, Oxley saw its net profit surge 15 times to S$275.9mil (RM720.1mil) from S$18mil (RM46.98mil) in the same period a year ago, while revenue jumped 709% to S$888.2mil (RM2.32bil) from S$109.8mil (RM286.84mil) on progress billings for various developments in Singapore.

Contributed by John Loh The Star/Asia News Network

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OXLEY TOWERS

An artist’s impression of the Oxley Tower in Kuala Lumpur. The average launch price for its serviced apartments are expected to be around RM3,000 per sq ft.

More images for KLCC Wisma Central, Restaurant Chef Choi, four bungalows

Was Flight 370 remote-hijacked as Boeing has autopilot technology?


Autopilot tech

Boeing has patent for autopilot tech

PETALING JAYA: When it was first speculated that Flight MH370 could have been hijacked via remote control access, many dismissed it as far-fetched science fiction.

But the technology to navigate planes, ships, trains, buses and other vehicles by remote control has been around for about a decade.

The Boeing Company, the world’s leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, has the technology.

It owns a patent for a system that enables remote controlling of its aircraft to counter hijacking attempts.

Boeing applied for the patent for an “uninterruptible autopilot control system” about 11 years ago, and was awarded it in 2006.

The system can be activated when the security of onboard controls are jeopardised.

“The method and systems of the present invention provide techniques for automatically navigating, flying and landing an air vehicle,” states the report for the US patent number US7142971B2.

Once activated, an aircraft could be automatically navigated, flown and made to land without input from anyone on board.

“Any onboard capability to supercede the automatic control system may be disabled by disconnecting the onboard controls,” states the report.

Power is provided to the automatic control system “from an alternative power control element that is inaccessible (to anyone on board the vehicle)”.

According to the patent report, control commands could be received from a remote location and/or from predetermined control commands stored on board the plane.

Boeing applied for the patent on Feb 19, 2003, barely two years after the Sept 11 attack in which hijacked planes rammed into the World Trade Centre, reducing the gigantic buildings into rubble.

Eric D. Brown, Douglas C. Cameron, Krish R. Krothapalli, Walter von Klein Jr and Todd M. William invented the system for Boeing. The patent was awarded three years later on Nov 28, 2006.

When the automatic control system is activated, no one on board the aircraft would be capable of controlling its flight.

The patent report also states that a signal might be transmitted to at least one remote location from the plane to indicate that the uninterruptible autopilot mode of the air vehicle has been engaged.

The system includes a dedicated communication link between the aircraft and a remote location, distinct from any communication link established for other types of communication.

According to an independent analyst James Corbett, the US Federal Aviation Administration had reported on the Federal Registrar last November that the Boeing 777-200, -300 and –300ER aircraft were equipped with an electronics security system to check unauthorised internal access.

Contributed by Sira Habibu The Star/Asia News Network

 

“Flight 370 Was Remote-Hijacked”

 

Author, barrister and political advisor Matthias Chang
Author, barrister and political advisor Matthias Chang

A high-level Malaysian source has confirmed that missing Flight MH370 must have been hijacked by remote control.

Matthias Chang, a barrister who served as Political Secretary to the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, explained why only a remote-hijacking “fly by wire” scenario can explain the plane’s disappearance.

Read Matthias Chang’s MH 370 – A Sinister Tragedy In the Fog of Coincidence?

In an exclusive interview with Truth Jihad Radio, Chang – who remains well-connected with the highest political levels in Malaysia – patiently explained why all of the evidence points to a remote hijacking by one of the handful of countries capable of such a technological feat. He expressed annoyance with Western media criticism of the Malaysian government, arguing that it is Western governments, not Malaysia’s, that are covering up what they know while the media fails to ask the hard questions.

[The audio interview will be posted for Truthjihad.com subscribers by this evening here.]

During our interview on the morning of Friday April 4th (Malaysia time) Matthias Chang told me: “I want to raise a point that has not been much discussed in either the mainstream or alternative media, which is that the technology of autopilot has been in existence for a long time. Since September 11th, more sophisticated systems have been placed in all planes to avoid any hijackings. If there is a hijacking in progress it kicks in and flies to an airport to land safely. The system can be triggered by the pilot himself from the cockpit, or it can be triggered by ground control. And by ‘ground control’ I mean it can be operated from land, an AWAC plane, or a ship, by an entity that has the capability and technology to fly the plane remotely. That technology is out there.”

Chang pointed out that only remote-hijacking can explain the plane’s flight path: “This plane is flying for six hours on its own. Who’s flying the plane? The entity flying the plane must be those with the technology that’s used now to pilot drones. We know drones have been flown in Afghanistan from Florida. We have seen video tapes and news broadcasts about how ‘pilots’ in Florida are flying planes and drones in Afghanistan as if they are playing computer games.”

Chang explained that the Western media’s pilot suicide hypothesis “doesn’t hold water. If you’re a pilot, why turn back, go north to Thailand where there are military exercises going on, and you will know from the radar that other planes are flying, then turn south and fly for six hours? That’s ridiculous. Also, most suicides leave notes explaining why. This is another huge question mark. Why this accusation of the pilot, when the facts are inconsistent with suicide?”

Suggesting that the Western countries have been leading the public on a wild goose chase, Chang explained:

“During the past four weeks, we have heard of various countries providing data. Australia said there were two floating objects west of Perth, but when ships were sent they were not found. France, also, said they discovered two objects. When the search planes went, these too couldn’t be found. The satellite of Thailand (a US client state) found two objects. It was sea rubbish. This was followed by (US occupied) Japan saying they found objects. But those objects were not MH370s. The British firm Inmarsat, using its calculations, said the plane would have crashed in the area where the objects were located. But subsequently Boeing, doing new calculations projecting faster flight at lower altitude, said the plane could have ended somewhere 1000 miles north of the previously projected location.”

Were all of these people ordered to look in all the wrong places – by a military high command that knows perfectly well where the plane is?

Chang continues:

“Given all this information, it’s crystal clear, clear as day, that the one country that has the most sophisticated surveillance technology has remained mute. They may have given sealed evidence – I don’t know. But no public announcement.

As VT Editor Gordon Duff says, a gnat has a hard time disappearing. So how can a 777 vanish?

As VT Editor Gordon Duff says, a gnat has a hard time disappearing. So how can a 777 vanish?

“America has the most advanced satellites in the world…it can detect an object the size of a coin, look at bunkers buried deep underground. NROL 39 (the US National Reconnaissance Office) uses the octopus emblem. It states clearly that enemies of America cannot hide because ‘nothing is beyond our reach.’ The octopus’s tentacles encompass the whole globe. I find it very odd that America has been reticent, conspicuously silent, about what their satellites have shown, if anything.”

What makes it especially odd that the US will not admit it tracked the plane is that the flight path involved some of America’s most sensitive military areas:

“As MH370 reached the airspace of Vietnam it went north toward Thailand where the US-run Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger military exercises were being held. Then, allegedly, the plane ended in the Indian Ocean. But there is no evidence or debris. Now what is conspicuous…is that when a plane goes past Southern Thailand into the Indian Ocean, it has to fly past a very important landmark: Diego Garcia, a secretive US military base. It was from this base that the US launched bombers to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam before that. Surely this base has some of the most sophisticated surveillance technology. Any unidentified plane that flew in the direction of Diego Garcia would certainly be located and identified.”

Chang, the former top political advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, noted that the bizarre disappearance of MH370 coincided with the US-run Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger military exercises – just as previous “disasters” have mirrored suspiciously-timed drills and exercises:

“On 9/11, when planes struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, there were military exercises taking place, and NORAD and others were confused about whether the planes were part of the exercise or not.”

Chang was referring to the notorious 46 drills of September 11th 2001, the biggest pre-designated National Security Special Event Day in US history. Those exercises practiced and then mimicked every aspect of the actual attacks, including a live-fly plane-into-building exercise that shut down the National Reconnaissance Office and prevented NRO personnel from seeing satellite images of whatever the alleged attack planes and their military control planes, including the “Flying Pentagon” E-4B Command Center aircraft, were really doing that day.

Chang noted that the 7/7/2005 London bombings – like 9/11– perfectly mirrored drills that were occurring at exactly the same times and places:

“On 7/7 in London, there was a bombing of underground stations, plus the bus in Tavistock Square. Surprise surprise, four Muslim youth were said to be responsible for the deaths and injuries. Yet on that very day, there were terrorist bombing exercises at precisely the same four locations.”

YouTube – Veterans Today -

Chang observed that Christopher Bollyn, whose book Solving 9/11 implicates Israel and its US agents in the worst terrorist attack in US history, has discovered indications that the disappearance of MH370 might be connected with another false-flag plot: “Bollyn exposed how, immediately after the hijacking (of MH370), the Times of Israel put out propaganda that the plane was hijacked by agents of Iran, then landed in Bangladesh to weaponize the plane to carry out a diabolical attack like September 11th.” (Bollyn also discovered a suspicious “evil twin” of MH370 hidden in an Israeli hangar – his article is linked here.)

Chang said that the media’s focus on the search for the MH370′s black box is a deception. “We’ve been diverted to look for the black box. Bullshit! There are plenty of signals.” Chang asserts that both Boeing, a leading US military contractor, and the Rolls-Royce company that makes the plane’s engines, know exactly what happened to MH370, because they are constantly fed signals giving them every significant detail about all of their planes including exactly location, altitude, airspeed, engine function, manual or autopilot, and so on.

Regarding Rolls-Royce, Chang said:

“As long as the engine is running, they monitor it. If anything goes wrong with the engine for any reason, they land the plane and abort the flight. There have been a couple of instances when Rolls-Royce detected malfunctions and told the pilot to land as soon as possible due to the malfunction.

“So for six hours or more, Rolls-Royce would have kept track of the pings. Rolls-Royce would know where the plane’s going. Now I’m told, rightly or wrongly, that in the protocol, Rolls-Royce may be prohibited from disclosing this information.”

Likewise, Malaysia has been prevented from disclosing the sealed evidence it has been provided by one or more unnamed countries – or even the name of that country or countries.

But despite the gag order, Chang thinks the evidence speaks for itself: “There is cyber war between these (larger) countries, and we small countries are caught in the middle. I think the passengers were collateral damage.”

Chang’s conclusion about Flight 370?

“Under the cover of the military exercises, something diabolical, something catastrophic, has happened.”

 Sources Veterans Today Editor:

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.

Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.

Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.

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Philippines based Abu Sayyaf gunmen want RM36mil to free Chinese tourist, no ransom for Filipina


Chinese tourist_Gao Huayun1Gao Huayun
KUALA LUMPUR: Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen have demanded RM36.4mil for the release of a 29-year-old Chinese woman tourist whom they abducted from a resort off Semporna in Sabah, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He added that there had been no ransom demand for the other hostage, a 40-year-old Filipina resort worker.

“We have received a note that the kidnappers have asked for 500 million pesos, equivalent to RM36.4mil, in ransom.

“We have sent our team, the police and negotiators to discuss with their so-called appointed middle person to negotiate about reducing the ransom,” he said after launching the “Message from Prison” segment of TV3’s Wanita Hari Ini programme here yesterday.

Gao Huayun and Marcy Daya­­­­wan were snatched from Singamata Reef Resort in Semporna on April 2.

One of the kidnappers is believed to be also involved in the abduction of a Taiwanese woman who was snatched on Pom Pom Island on Nov 15 last year after gunmen shot dead her husband.

To a question, Dr Ahmad Zahid denied that the Eastern Sabah Security Command was a failure, saying Esscom was merely carrying out its activities based on the Standard Operating Procedure that had been set for Esszon, the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.

He added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a meeting recently with the members of the National Security Council on tightening security in the area.

“We are going to tighten the activities within Esszon … (more) equipment and assets are to be deployed within the Esszon area.”

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the police, military and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency were working together and collaborating with the Philippine coast guard, navy and military on further tightening security.

Zahid said they would seek the cooperation from the resort operators within the Esszon area and ask them to install high-security cameras.

“We are going to ask them to install high-definition CCTV in all their premises to prevent future activities by intruders or kidnappers,” he added.

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ese tourists abducted by Philippine terrorists to sour ties with China?

New China-US military ties: agree to disagree


Military_China Chang-US HagelChinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan (L) and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) review the guard of honor at a welcoming ceremony before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, April 8, 2014. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

China-US military: agree to disagree – CCTV News – CCTV.com English

< Video China-US military: agree to disagree

Chinese President Xi Jinping (second right) shakes hands with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (second left) during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called on China and the US to build a new model of military relations in a meeting with visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

As an important part of Sino-US ties, military relations should be advanced under the framework of building a new type of major power relations, Xi, who is also chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, told Hagel.

The two countries need to effectively manage their differences and sensitive issues to ensure major power relations always go forward on the right track, Xi said.

The new type of China-US military ties are in the initial phase and the two sides have different understandings but they are looking for ways to advance, said Liu Weidong, an expert on US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Hagel is wrapping up his first visit to China since he became defense chief in February last year. His visit came after a stop in Japan, with which China has been embroiled in territorial disputes over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

The defense chief’s exchanges with Chinese military officials saw both blunt exchanges and handshakes, said an opinion piece by the Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.

Before coming to China, Hagel said the goal for his Asia visit was to assure US allies of commitment to “our treaty obligations.” He openly welcomed Japan’s attempt to ease the ban on its collective self-defense in a written response to Japan’s financial newspaper Nikkei and reassured Tokyo that the Diaoyu Islands fall under the US-Japan Security Treaty.

He was received with frank and outspoken comments from Chinese military officials before the public, which is rarely seen, said analysts.

Before reporters, Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, said Tuesday that Hagel’s remarks on China made at the US-ASEAN defense ministers meeting in Hawaii last week and to the Japanese politicians were “tough.”

“The Chinese people, including myself, are dissatisfied with such remarks,” Fan noted.

Also in the presence of the press, China’s defense minister Chang Wanquan called on the US to keep Tokyo within bounds and not be permissive. He said China would not take pre-emptive action, but its armed forces are ready to respond.

It’s rare that Chinese military officials publicly express such attitudes and language, said Niu Xinchun, a research fellow with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, noting that China has been angered by US rhetoric.

“The strong remarks display the diplomatic style of China’s new leadership and China’s increasing confidence,” he told the Global Times.

It’s also a tactic with which China wants to press the US to take China’s feelings seriously, Liu noted.

Hagel also faced sharp questions when giving a speech at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s National Defense University. One Chinese officer voiced his concern that the US was stirring up trouble in the East China Sea and the South China Sea to hamper China’s development out of fear of China as a challenge, Reuters reported.

“These questions are prepared by the organizer to deliver China’s worries about a possible threat from the US-Japan alliance,” said Liu.

Reuters reported China appeared to be getting anxious that the recent tough talk by US officials over China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors could be a preview of what US President Barack Obama would say when he visits Asia later this month.

China’s defense ministry Wednesday also voiced strong opposition to a bill passed by the US House of Representatives that called on the Obama administration to sell Perry-class frigates to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Hagel was the first foreign official allowed onboard China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province.

This was seen as a gesture of China’s sincerity and transparency by analysts.

With outspoken expressions and openness occurring at the same time, the exchanges between China and the US military indicate the wisdom of communication and the art of balance, said the Xinhua opinion piece.

An Obama administration official acknowledged that the tone was sharper on issues surrounding the South China Sea and the East China Sea than it had been on the last visit by a US defense secretary to China, which was in 2012.

“But in other areas the tone was actually improved,” the official said, pointing to discussions on Sino-US military cooperation and even North Korea, according to Reuters.

Hagel said at the university that with the modernization and expanding presence in Asia and beyond of the Chinese army, forces from the two countries will have closer proximity, “which increases the risk of an incident, an accident, or a miscalculation.”

“But this reality also presents new opportunities for cooperation,” he said.

China and the US can enhance their mutual understanding when the divides are frankly discussed, although it’s not likely to eradicate the mistrust between the two sides in just one visit, said Tao Wenzhao, an expert on US studies also with CASS.

By Sun Xiaobo Global Times

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Whichever superpower

 

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Double standards on Ukraine and Crimea


 

Whichever superpower wins, Ukraine will be the loser of this East-West tug of war.

THE Russian incursion into Ukraine’s region of Crimea has, understandably, drawn strong critical response from the United States and the European Union. However, an impartial observer cannot fail to note the staggering hypocrisy evident in the Western response to Russia’s military actions.

International law: It is alleged that the Russian military intervention is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty under international law. It probably is.

This is despite the fact that the Russian expedition was at the behest of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s democratically elected and unlawfully deposed President.

What is noteworthy is that Russia acted under grave provocation and in circumstances that the US would never tolerate.

Background: Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been encircling Russia with military and missile sites including one in Ukraine.

Nato has enlisted many former Soviet republics into its fold.

Russia is understandably sensitive about its Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine and Nato’s presence on its borders.

This is no different from President John F. Kennedy’s alarm when the USSR, under Nikita Khruschev, ins­talled missiles in Cuba in the Sixties.

In addition to military encirclement, a US organisation, namely the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), was operating in Ukraine and funding 65 projects, grooming replacements for President Yanuko­vych and resorting to psychological warfare.

The NED was founded in America in 1983 to promote its foreign policy objectives abroad.

In recent times Ukraine was mired in an economic crisis and Russia and the EU were in a bidding war to salvage it. Russia earmarked US$15bil (RM49bil) in economic assistance. The EU offered US$800mil (RM2.6bil) plus access to EU goods and services.

When Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych aligned with Russia against the EU proposal, the Western backed opposition took to the streets.

The US-funded National Endowment for Democracy was complicit in fuelling the disorder. Radical forces gained ascendency and violence begat violence. 

Yanukovych, Ukraine’s democratically elected President, offered to set up a unity government, bring electoral reform, effect constitutional changes and call early elections.

Unfortunately, negotiations broke down. He was then ousted in a US-supported coup and replaced with US chosen stand-ins.

The Ukrainian Parliament then acted foolishly to enact a series of draconian laws offensive to ethnic Russians in provinces that were carved out of the old Soviet Union. Yanukovych sought Russia’s help to protect the ethnic Russian population.

Under these circumstances, the Russian Parliament authorised Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy troops inside Ukraine to protect the Russians living there.

US exceptionalism: The US has a long history of similar and even bloodier interventions as Russia’s. It has bombed or invaded 30 countries since World War Two.

In the last decade itself, there were full-scale invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq on trumped up charges plus bombing of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

US drones blow up “enemy combatants” in many parts of the world with sickening regularity.

The US keeps Syria and Iran under constant threats.

It refuses to join the International Criminal Court lest its international crimes be prosecuted.

Despite its professed belief in democracy, Washington has a sordid record of collaborating with right-wing military officers to overthrow elected leaders who do not do Washington’s bidding.

A partial list would include Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran (1953), Jacobo Arbez in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti twice, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (2002), Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009), Mohammed Morsi in Egypt (2013) and now Yanukovych in Ukraine (2014).

A close parallel to the Russian intervention was President Bill Clinton’s invasion of Haiti in 1994 to reinstall Haiti’s elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Russia has not gone that far regarding Yanukovych.

Besides the US, France is notable for its recent military interventions in its former colonies of Mali and Central African Republic.

Unconstitutionality: The US alleges that the Crimean referendum that resulted in an overwhelming vote to join Russia was contrary to the Ukrainian Constitution.

In fact, the trampling of the Ukrainian Constitution was equally evident in the ouster of the democratically elected President, which the US lustily cheered.

Under the Constitution of 1996 (which was restored by Yanukovych in 2010) Parliament has the right to impeach a President for treason or other crimes by a three-fourths majority.

This majority was not obtained. The impeachment must be reviewed by a Constitutional Court and it is not clear whether this mandatory procedure was complied with.

Also, it is the PM and not the Speaker of the House, who should under the Constitution fill the vacant presidency.

Secession: If Crimea’s secession is illegal, can the US explain its support for the secession of Bosnia, Kosovo, Slovakia, the Falkland Islands, East Timor, Scotland and Catalonia?

In fact the West was delirious about the break-up of Sudan.

One could point to Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) that “all people have the right of self-determination”.

Cold war: The Crimean crisis reignites the Cold War between Russia and the West. At stake is Ukraine’s return to the Russian sphere of influence or its drift towards the West.

Alternatively, the country will split into two – its Western part drifting towards a reluctant Europe and the South and the East remaining aligned with Russia.

Whichever superpower wins, Ukraine will be the loser of this East-West tug of war.

The Crimean Tartars face an uncertain future in Russia.

In the meantime, one cannot but marvel at the breathtaking hypocrisy of all sides – the US and EU on Ukraine and Russia on Chechnya.

William Blum puts it well: “Hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be respected”!

Contributed by Shad Saleem Faruqi Reflecting On The Law

> Shad Faruqi, Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM, is a passionate student and teacher of the law who aspires to make difficult things look simple and simple things look rich. Through this column, he seeks to inspire change for the better as every political, social and economic issue ultimately has constitutional law implications. He can be reached at prof.shad.saleem.faruqi@gmail.com. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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China should offer Hagel tough welcome


US Hagel-Japan-onodera

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) shakes hands with Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera – US Backs Militarization Of Japan In Response To China US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel concluded his Japanese tour and kicked off a visit to China on Monday. In Tokyo he made many remarks that were pleasant to Japanese. Hagel publicly warned China not to tackle the ongoing territorial disputes with neighboring countries as “the Russians have done with Ukraine.” It’s expected he will soft-pedal on these issues when he is in Beijing.

< Video: Fan Changlong: “dissatisfied” with remarks by Chuck Hagel.

But Chinese officials should respond to Hagel’s unusually forceful remarks with toughness. The US hasn’t totally sided with countries like Japan and the Philippines over their territorial disputes with China yet. However, there is little difference between Washington’s current partiality for Tokyo and Manila and open support of confronting China.

Many Chinese believe the core of the US “rebalancing Asia” strategy lies in that the US is attempting to burden China’s rise through instigating confrontation with other countries in the neighborhood. It’s during the implementation of this US strategy that territorial spats have been escalated due to the aggressive and offensive policies of Japan and the Philippines.

Chinese public opinion has given up hope of reason with the US, since Washington is adept in manipulating double standards.

In the US eyes, Japan’s “nationalizing the Diaoyu Islands” and the Philippines’ trickery to bolster its territorial clam through reinforcing a marooned navy ship that it stationed in Ren’ai reef are not violations of the “status quo,” while any countermeasures by China are called “aggression.”

The US is good at maneuvering in East Asia. But it overestimates the value of the “rebalancing Asia” strategy if it misperceives China as easily cowed into submission. China is not Russia, nor will the South China Sea and East China Sea be Crimea. Restraint is the basic philosophy of China in front of frictions, but we also make it clear, “Don’t irritate us!”

If Washington continues to indulge Tokyo and Manila in provoking China, it will pay the price sooner or later. The cost is that the US will feel ashamed.

For instance, China will spare no efforts to prevent the Philippines consolidating the rusting ship in Ren’ai Reef. Any promises that the US makes to the Philippines and Japan that they can do whatever they want in Ren’ai Reef and Diaoyu Islands will prove empty.

China has no intentions to imitate Russia in how to deal with frictions on its periphery. It’s the US that should learn a lesson from the Crimea crisis. Washington suppressed Russia’s strategic space, but it got cold feet when Moscow upped the ante.

Conflicts in Europe cannot be replicated in East Asia. The US should be careful that it cannot suppress China as it has done with Russia. Countries like Japan and the Philippines shouldn’t be used as pawns to contain China.

China emphasizes the importance of building a new type of major power relationship with the US. As the sole super power, the US has gained the upper hand in Sino-US relations, but it will finally get trapped if it continues to snub our Chinese feelings. – Global Times

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