Crisis of the West or crisis of faith, year of living dangerously?


Global standard: A man walks past a poster showing a US dollar outside an exchange office in Cairo. The dollar has maintained its position as a global standard because it is convenient, cheap to use and a store of value that has so far been subject to minimal political interference. — AP

 

OVER the Chinese New Year holidays, we were all treated to the Trump Reality Show, changing the world we thought we understood with various tweets or executive orders.

This behaviour reminded me of the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi waking up and was not sure he was a man dreaming that he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that it was a man. Mr Trump is either a butterfly disguised as President or a truly smart politician disguised as a butterfly. The tragedy is that the rest of us have to live with the consequences.

This week, after humiliating Mexico and reversing his position on Nato, Trump and his advisers have switched to stoking a currency fire, accusing China and Japan of manipulating their currency and even suggesting that Berlin is exploiting a “gross undervalued” euro.

Whatever you think of Trump, he was smart enough to appoint someone like Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. You always can judge a leader by the people he or she surrounds himself with. Steve Bannon is pure American success story – Harvard trained, ex-Goldman Sachs, ex-navy, and founding entrepreneur of Breitbart news, a platform that claims to represent the alt-right and third most influential news channel after Bloomberg and Reuters.

In a remarkable 2014 speech (https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world), Bannon claimed that (this) … “is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.”

Taken on its own, there is nothing wrong with someone having a view of the world in crisis. But Bannon is now in a pivotal position to do something about it.

The dollar has maintained its position as a global standard because it is convenient, cheap to use and a store of value that has so far been subject to minimal political interference.

The rest of the world is now stuck with a “damned if we do, and damned if we don’t” dilemma. If we continue to rely on the dollar, how do we avoid being accused as manipulators, when in reality, so far the market forces are stronger than any central bank on its own? If we don’t rely on the dollar, we will anyway be accused as manipulators, particularly if the currency depreciates against the dollar.

In other words, what is at stake is not a crisis of the West or its faith (which the Rest cannot change), but a crisis of faith within the Rest on the leadership in the West. The dollar remains the anchor of global stability, but when the solo anchor itself is adrift, we need to find alternative anchors. Single anchors are efficient but dangerous if they wobble. We need two or three anchors to triangulate global stability.

Here is another inconvenient truth – it’s Trump’s dollar, but the Rest’s savings. Based on the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US has net global liabilities of US$7.8 trillion or 41.7% of GDP at the end of the third quarter 2016. This has deteriorated from US$2.5 trillion or 16.8% of GDP at the end of 2010. The cumulative current account deficit (from trade) between end 2010-2016 Q3 was only US$2 trillion, which meant that the rest (US$3.3 trillion) was due to valuation changes (change in US dollar exchange rate) or financial account flows.

In other words, it is capital flows rather than trade that is the major driver of the exchange rate, with interest rate differentials influencing also the exchange rate.

If that is the case, going forward, the US net debt position will depend largely on the future global savers, mostly Europe and Asia. And if the savers are subject to constant lecturing by the Trump Administration, an alt-dollar solution will have to be found.

During the Asian financial crisis, Europe sided with the US to reject an Asian Monetary Fund in a move against regionalisation. But if today, the America First strategy is designed at isolating the Rest, then the Rest must unite to protect global trade and investments. If the non-dollar zone can maintain currency stability against the dollar, then there will be less accusations of currency manipulation, forcing the debate into how the US can restore its own fiscal and trade balance to maintain its own savings equilibrium.

In short, the Rest needs to remind the US that she is important, but cannot blame the Rest for all her own problems.

The reserve currency central banks have a major role to ensure currency stability, which can be only preserved by ensuring liquidity and discipline. So far, the Fed has shown responsible leadership, with strong support from the European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and the People’s Bank. But if the dollar is being politicised, then alternatives can and should be found.

All options are now on the table. If the US is no longer dependent on oil and energy, then oil and energy suppliers can price oil trade in currencies other than the dollar. We have seen this before in the competition between different technology standards. The leading standard becomes dominant because it is willing to provide public goods (lots of freebies). But when the dominant standard becomes predatory or extractive in using its monopoly position, then it is time to use alternative standards.

No one should take their position or customers from granted. The Rest will not stand still whilst Trump and his cohorts decide to change allies and foes by the tweet. None of us are against the dollar but for global stability, common sense and mutual respect. The euro, sterling, yen, yuan and SDR’s time has come.

Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

By Andrew Sheng

Year of living dangerously

 

Rash move: The effectiveness of Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the US is highly questionable. — AFP

What Trump is doing – and he may not even realise it with his defiant-style leadership – is making the US a much more dangerous place to live in now, not a safer place as he had hoped.

WHEN the world’s most powerful man conducts diplomacy over Twitter, keeping his words to 140 characters, we’d better prepare ourselves for trouble.

And indeed, since Donald Trump took over as President of the United States, there has been a series of totally unpredictable and unconventional decisions made, some mind boggling, even bordering on insanity.

And it has just been a little over two weeks since he moved into the White House.

There is no question that many Americans are troubled by a possible mass influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

This does not involve just the US but also affects several parts of Europe, including Britain, France and Germany, which explains why politicians who play the right-wing card – with the anti-immigrant agenda – are winning.

Trump clearly understands the pulse of the average American, especially those in the rural mid-west, the US heartland.

These are folks who watch conservative Fox TV and whose interaction with people of other races, religions and cultures is limited.

They are not like the liberal city folks of New York or Los Angeles, who turn up at airports and train stations, waving placards and hugging Syrian refugees, as shown on international TV news.

It is probably a different story in Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas or South Carolina but we do not hear the voices of these rural folks on CNN.

Trump won simply because he understood the fears of the average American well. He has continued to play the Islamophobia card because he knows his fearmongering works.

It doesn’t help that most of these refugees want to go to the US or Britain and not the Muslim-majority nations of the Middle East. The question remains if these Arab countries are even offering places to the refugees or do the refugees themselves prefer Western secular and democratic values.

Nationalist politicians have already whipped up anger, pointing out that if these Middle East refugees hate Western culture so much and refuse to assimilate, then why should they be let in.

But Trump’s executive order banning the citizens of seven countries from entering the US, supposedly to protect the nation from “radical Islamic terrorists”, is highly questionable, especially its effectiveness.

The president has signed the order temporarily suspending the entry of people from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen into the US for at least 90 days.

This is odd because if we wish to identify terrorism acts, then surely there’s a high number of terrorists from Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Afghanistan. Why were these countries not on the list?

Obviously, Trump did not want to offend US allies, especially Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Despite the US’ constant lecture on democracy, we all know these two countries are often “spared”, despite their horrifically poor human rights record because they are strategically important to the US. We also should not forget that at one time, the vital oil supply was from Saudi Arabia.

The fact is that in the past four decades, 3,024 people have been killed by foreign terrorists on US soil.

The reality is that the Sept 11 attacks, perpetrated by citizens of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon, account for 98.6% of those deaths – 15 of the 19 Sept 11 hijackers once called Saudi Arabia home.

In fact, over that period, no American has been killed on US soil by anyone from the nations named in the present president’s executive order.

The San Bernardino massacre, in which 14 people were killed and 22 injured in 2015 was carried out by Syed Rizwan Farook, who is of Pakistani descent, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, who grew up in Saudi Arabia.

The Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, where 49 died and 53 were injured last year, was carried out by Omar Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan descent.

The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 was orchestrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, both of whom were Russian, killing three and injuring several hundred people.

But as the world jumped on Trump, news reports have emerged that Kuwait does the same.

Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghans have reportedly not been able to obtain tourism or trade visas to Kuwait since 2011.

Passport holders from the countries are not allowed to enter the Gulf state while the blanket ban is in place, and have been told not to apply for visas, it has been reported.

Likewise, the ban on citizens from fellow Muslim-majority nations has failed to prevent Kuwait from being targeted in a number of terrorist attacks over the past two years – including the bombing of a mosque in 2015 which left 27 Kuwaitis dead.

Kuwait is the only country in the world to officially bar entry to Syrians, until the US named Syria among the seven countries whose citizens were banned from entering its borders.

What Trump is doing – and he may not even realise it with his defiant-style of leadership – is making the US a much more dangerous place to live in now, not a safer place as he had hoped.

There will be homegrown terrorists, including Americans – and even radicals entering the US holding other passports – who plan to carry out their crazy acts.

He has also made the work and lives of career diplomats more difficult with his brazen diplomacy. It came as no surprise that 900 State Department diplomats signed a memo to oppose his ban.

According to CNN, the “memo of dissent” warned that not only will the new immigration policy not keep America safe but it will harm efforts to prevent terrorist attacks.

The ban “will not achieve its stated aim of protecting the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” the memo reportedly noted.

Trump has actually provided oxygen to the radicals, who will now thump the noses of moderates in Muslim countries.

There should be no surprises if the recalcitrant Trump expands his list of countries whose citizens would be banned from entering the US.

It won’t be wrong to suggest that 2017 will be a Year of Living Dangerously under Trump. Let’s be prepared for the unexpected from him.

Source: On the beat Wong Chun Wai The Star

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Philippine President calls Obama the “son of a bitch”, reveals cracks in ties as he refuses to be lectured on human rights


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/HQXEYJlcdYI

Duterte: Who is Obama to ask me about human rights?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called Barack Obama a “son of a w****”/”son of a bitch” on Monday as he vowed not to be lectured by the US leader on human rights when they meet in Laos.

The acid-tongued Duterte bristled at warnings he would face questioning by the US president over a crime war in the Philippines that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in just over two months.

“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte told a news conference shortly before flying to Laos to attend the summit.

“We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”

Duterte was due to hold a bilateral meeting with Obama on Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of a summit of global leaders hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vientiane, the Lao capital.

In response to Duterte’s tirade, Obama said he had asked his staff to assess whether it would be productive for him to meet with Duterte.

Duterte was elected in May after a promise to wage an unprecedented war on illegal drugs that would see tens of thousands of suspects killed.

Official figures released Sunday show that, since Duterte took office on June 30, over 2,400 people have been killed in police anti-drug operations and by suspected vigilantes.

Duterte has angrily rejected criticism from the Catholic Church, human rights groups, legislators and the United Nations.

Duterte vowed Monday the bloodbath would continue as he pursued his goal of eradicating illegal drugs in the Philippines.

“More people will be killed, plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets. Until the (last) drug manufacturer is killed, we will continue and I will continue,” he said.

Duterte insisted he would not take orders from the United States, a former colonial ruler of the Philippines, and did not care about how he was perceived.

“I don’t give a shit about anybody observing my behaviour,” he said.

Duterte also used vulgar language to accuse his domestic critics of wanting to please the United States.

“There are others who have the mental capacity of dogs who lap at the a** of the Americans,” he said in reference to his critics.

Duterte is notorious for using offensive language.

During the election campaign Duterte described the US ambassador to Manila as a “son of a w****” and being homosexual.

This was in response to the ambassador’s criticism of Duterte for making a joke about wanting to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who was killed in a Filipino jail.


IN QUOTES | Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines’ president 

IN QUOTES | Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines’ president

“A leader must be a terror to the few who are evil in order to protect the lives and well-being of the many who are good.”

“If I become president, I advise you people to put up several funeral parlour businesses. They will be packed. I’ll supply the dead bodies.”

“Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte.”

“You son of a whore Pope Francis. Why don’t you just go home?”

“Many are asking what my credentials are and what I can do for the Philippines. They are telling me that they heard I am a womaniser. That is true. That is very true.”

“I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first, what a waste.” – The Telegraph UK

Insult reveals cracks in US-Philippine ties

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/zDBYczvXAlM

“Son of a bitch.” This is how Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte referred to US President Barack Obama on Monday. This has set a dilemma for Washington. When Obama was asked to respond to the remarks, he said the Philippine president was a “colorful” person, showing a generous response. However, the White House still expressed its anger through diplomatic means by canceling Obama’s meeting with Duterte that had been scheduled during the ASEAN summit in Laos.

Although Duterte’s spokesperson said he regretted his sharp words, they have spread all over the world. He meant it when he said the Philippines has long ceased to be a colony and that “I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody.” The hostility between the US and the Philippines can hardly be settled easily.

During his election campaign, Duterte was dubbed the Philippines’ Donald Trump. Still, his big mouth as president has shocked the world, especially the West. The Western media listed the figures he has referred to as “sons of bitches,” which included Pope Francis and the US ambassador to the Philippines. Duterte cursed these people when they pointed their fingers at the domestic politics of Manila. After he assumed power, he dealt a heavy blow to drug dealers, while the West accused him of violating human rights.

But Duterte’s actions have been welcomed in his country. Although his dirty words have tarnished his international image to some extent, he apparently attaches more importance to domestic support. He is clear which side matters more to him. The latest friction between Washington and Manila seems accidental, but conflicts between Western values and developing countries are common. Duterte, on behalf of developing countries, only showed that he had had enough.

Many people believe it is time for Manila to seek support from the US as the maritime disputes between Manila and Beijing highlighted the importance of the US-Philippines alliance to the latter. But why did Duterte slap Obama in the face? The reason is that the Philippines does not feel insecure even faced with China’s “threat.” Beijing and Manila do have territorial disputes. But despite US support and a favorable arbitration award to the Philippines, the Philippines gained no real benefits. The alliance with the US is not the only consideration for Manila. The Philippines has shifted the focus back to internal governance. The US needs the Philippines more as it sees this Southeast Asian country as a pawn to counter China.

Chinese netizens applauded Duterte’s words about Obama. But the US-Philippine alliance will remain solid. China should not hold too many illusions. From a long-term perspective, it will not necessarily be easy to deal with the Philippines under his rule.

The human rights issue has brought enmity between the US and its two allies of Turkey and the Philippines. We can judge the role of human rights in US diplomacy. The dispute between China and the US over the issue is worth our observation. – Global Times

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Beware of meddling via soft power !


MEDDLING by foreign powers is an established phenomenon for as long as one can remember. They are not limited only to the Muslim countries and communities. For example, last year at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, President Barack Obama indirectly admitted this when he publicly stated that the days of US interference in the affairs of Latin America were coming to an end. Reportedly, he said, “the days in which our agenda in this hemisphere presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past”. Some traced this to as far back as the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries especially after its so-called “discovery” by Columbus. Perhaps, the major difference is that there are many more Latin American leaders and populace who are more “resolute” than their Muslim counterparts in resisting any attempt to meddle.

More generally “colonialism” is one form of meddling that many parts of the world have experienced, and are still suffering from it. Malaysia is no exception, no denying that there are some benefits to be learnt from the process. But where it hits the “mind” is where it is more toxic to the extent that it can debilitate. Even long after achieving independence the “colonised” mindsets are still clearly felt whether at the level of the leadership or the population at large. The post-Merdeka generations are more vulnerable when they are shut out from the larger discourse affecting the future of the nation, ironically due to yet another form of “meddling” that left them disenfranchised. In the days of social media, the impact of this can be phenomenal, what with other contending parties that are more than eager to attract their attention, as we have seen recently.

Social media is an excellent platform for yet another form of meddling – soft power. Coined a few years ago, soft power describes “the ability to attract and co-opt using persuasion (mind-twisting) rather than by coercion, notably by bullying and arm-twisting (hard power). To the disenfranchised, soft power is said to be very appealing especially when “credibility is the scarcest resource”, as explained by Joseph Nye, who introduces the concept. In fact more recently, the term has expanded to include “changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organisations.”

Of the six factors that are often associated with enhancing soft power, education and culture seem to be pivotal. In other words, meddling can be carried out discreetly using these two dimensions. Indeed, Nye did suggest how higher education leaders might enhance American soft power by increasing international student and cultural exchange programmes. Viewed this way, soft power is a very subtle extension of the colonial process without even realising it. A case in point is when in 2007 the Rand Corporation in the US developed a “road map” for the construction of moderate Muslim networks and institutions “that the US government and its allies need, but thus far have failed, to develop clear criteria for partnerships with authentic moderates”. It therefore proposes “the building of moderate Muslim networks an explicit goal of US government programmes”.

More explicitly, it listed who the “moderates” are to be targeted according to priority, namely: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, young moderate religious scholars, community activists, women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns, and finally moderate journalists and writers. It argued that “the US should ensure visibility and platforms for these individuals.” For example, to ensure that individuals from these groups are “included in congressional visits, making them better known to policymakers and helping to maintain US support and resources for the public diplomacy effort.” If these sound like “meddling”, it is because it is one – effectively disguised as “soft power”. It is without doubt, yet another attempt among many to continuously interfere and manipulate the situation from the perspective of the authors and the sponsoring institution. Despite this it is very sad if Muslims are oblivious to the sleight of hand, and succumb to the form of endless meddling. Only to realise that it causes more confusion and divisiveness among the community.

In the days ahead before Aug 31, it is incumbent upon us to deeply ponder what Merdeka means beyond the routine parade and march-past, flag-raising ceremony and singing the national anthem.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, theSundaily

With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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Jul 18, 2016 China hardens after questionable tribunal ruling on South China Sea …. Permanent Court of Arbitration clarifies role in South China Sea case THE  HAGUE, July 16 … 不合法的裁决不过废纸一张, Illegal ruling but a waste paper.

UN distances itself from Permanent Court of Arbitration, had No role in Philippines case vs China


国际法院(ICJ)在此希望媒体和公众注意,南海仲裁案(菲律宾共和国与中华人民共和国)裁决结果由常设仲裁法院(PCA)提供秘书服务下的一个特别仲裁庭做出。相关信息请访问PCA网站(www.pca-cpa.org)。国际法院作为完全不同的另一机构,至始至终未曾参与该案,因此在国际法院网站上无法查询到相关信息。

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wishes to draw the attention of the media and the public to the fact that the Award in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China) was issued by an Arbitral Tribunal acting with the secretarial assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The relevant information can be found on the PCA’s website (www.pca-cpa.org). The ICJ, which is a totally distinct institution, has had no involvement in the above mentioned case and, for that reason, there is no information about it on the ICJ’s website.

A screenshot of the official Sina Weibo account of the UN which states that the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration independent from the UN. [Photo: Weibo.com]

The United Nations has made it clear that it had nothing to do with the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

A tribunal, which was established and registered at the PCA, issued an ill-founded award on Tuesday through the abuse of law on the arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines against China in 2013.

In a post on its official Twitter-like Sina Weibo account on Wednesday, the United Nations pointed out that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the UN’s principal judicial organ, which was set up in June 1945 in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The post added that the ICJ is a totally distinct institution from the PCA and it had no involvement in the above mentioned case.

In fact, the PCA in The Hague just happens to be neighbors with the ICJ, as both are located in the Peace Palace in The Hague in the Netherlands. Of the six major organs of the United Nations, the ICJ is the only one located outside New York City in the United States, the headquarters of the United Nations.

 UN distances itself from Permanent Court of Arbitration

The International Court of Justice has taken the unusual step of distancing itself from the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which ruled on the arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines against China in 2013, concerning the South China Sea disputes.

In a statement in both English and Chinese on its website the IJC said it wished to draw the attention of the media and the public to the fact that the award was issued by an Arbitral Tribunal acting with the secretarial assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and that no further information would be found on its website.

A former judge of the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, Abdul G. Koroma, says the only link between the two bodies is their base in the Peace Palace in The Hague.

“The Permanent Court of Arbitration, the PCA, and the International Court of Justice share the same building in The Hague which is called the Peace Palace. So it’s not very easy for a non-lawyer to be able to make the distinction between the two bodies.”

The former judge added the purpose of any arbitral settlement is to bring peaceful resolution of a conflict, rather than for any political motives.

The United Nations has also made it clear that the Permanent Court of Arbitration is not one of its organs. – http://english.cri.cn/index.htm

UN International Court had no role in Philippines case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rushed to dispel the myth that it was involved in the South China Sea arbitration case filed by the Philippines, just as the United Nations made a similar online clarification.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/L1codx6AsR4

The ICJ, the UN”s principal organ of justice, issued a notice on its website that it is “a totally distinct institution” from the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which offered secretarial assistance to the Arbitral Tribunal that ruled on the case. The ICJ said it “has had no involvement in” that case.

It pointed out that it has posted no information about the case on its website and said that anyone seeking such information must refer to the PCA’s website.

On Wednesday, the UN said on its Sina Weibo micro blog that it “has nothing to do with” the PCA, though the ICJ is located in the Peace Palace in The Hague, as is the PCA.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday that these clarifications “show there is no legitimacy or representativeness to how the temporary tribunal was composed and operated, as well as show that its so-called ruling has no authority or credibility at all, and is totally invalid and not binding.

“It seems that this also is the reason why after this illegal ruling came out, only three or four countries wishfully claimed that it was ‘legally binding’,” Lu said.

Zhao Jianwen, a researcher at the Institute of International Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the reason the UN and the ICJ made such statements is that they “want to stay clear” of the ruling in the arbitration case, which, as Zhao said quoting Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, might become “a notorious case”.

Zhao said “All of the tribunal’s expenses were paid by the Philippines, including its arbitrators’ wages, and these experts’ opinions are not neutral”. Also, the tribunal has no substantive relation with the PCA, he added.

The only relation between them is that the PCA offered secretarial service to the tribunal and the tribunal was held in the PCA’s hall, Zhao explained.

Zhao pointed out that the Arbitral Tribunal was a temporary one set up specially for proceeding the South China Sea case, and its work was “virtually done” once the ruling was issued.

By Wang Qingyun | China Daily | Beijinghttp: via The Jakarta Post: //www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/07/15/un-international-court-had-no-role-in-philippines-case.html

Arbitral court not a UN agency

The United Nations said on Wednesday it has nothing to do with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which set up a tribunal that handled the South China Sea arbitration case the Philippines filed unilaterally in 2013.

In a post on its Sina Weibo micro blog, the UN said the PCA is a “tenant” of the Peace Palace in The Hague, “but has nothing to do with the UN”.

The UN said the International Court of Justice, its principal judicial organ set up according to the Charter of the UN, is also located in the Peace Palace.

The construction of the palace was managed by the Carnegie Foundation, which is still the building’s owner and manager, according to the Peace Palace website.

The UN said it makes an annual donation to the foundation for using the Peace Palace.

When asked about the Arbitral Tribunal’s case’s ruling on Tuesday, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “The UN doesn’t have a position on the legal and procedural merits” of the South China Sea arbitration case.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China will, as always, observe the goals and principles set up by the Charter of the UN, and solve maritime disputes peacefully by having talks with countries directly involved, “on the basis of firmly guarding China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests”.

Lu said: “China is a responsible member of the international community. It’s an important advocate and loyal implementer of the UN’s cause to push forward the international rule of law.” Li Jinming, a professor of international maritime law at Xiamen University, pointed out that the use of terms such “UN tribunal” or “UN-backed tribunal” – frequently reported by Western media – is incorrect, as they confuse the PCA with the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Wang Hanling, a maritime law researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said some countries and news media are “deliberately” confusing the tribunal with the ICJ./rga

-Inquirer.net

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Full text of statement by NPC Foreign Affairs Committee on award of South China Sea arbitration

Stay sober-minded in face of manipulated ruling

The arbitral tribunal’s award on Tuesday, which tries to deny China’s
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resources there, marked an end to the farce disguised as law.

China sticks to the path of peaceful development, and the history will finally tell who is the real [Read it]

Arbitration will only entail loss for Tokyo

If Tokyo launches an arbitration case over gas and oil fields in the East China Sea, it faces a high chance of losing.

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Notorious Philippines’s Abu Sayyaf & Law abusing tribunal on South China Sea


 

Abu Sayyaf Militants to behead another hostage

ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Abu Sayyaf has announced that it will be beheading its hostage, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, if Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza insists on the non-payment of ransom.

“There is no more ultimatum, we are going to behead this Norwegian anytime today,” said Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami, who called a couple of journalists here on Sunday night.

Rami said the beheading will be done following reports of Dureza’s pronouncement of the government’s no-ransom policy.

The Abu Sayyaf has been demanding 300 million pesos (RM25.5mil) in exchange for Sekkingstad’s freedom.

Rami said they were aware that ransom was already set for delivery, and they were just waiting for someone to deliver the money.

Sekkingstad is one of four victims who were taken from a marina in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte in November last year.

Rami’s announcement came two days after the body of beheaded Abu Sayyaf kidnap victim, Canadian Robert Hall, was found in Sulu on Saturday morning.

Hall was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf on June 13 after the bandit group failed to receive the ransom money they had demanded.

His head was found on the same day in front of the Jolo Cathedral.

Hall was the second kidnap victim the bandits had decapitated after fellow Canadian John Ridsdel, who was killed in April.

Filipino Marites Flor was freed on June 24. — Philippines Daily Inquirer / Asia News Network

Law-abusing tribunal to issue award on South China Sea arbitration

AN arbitral tribunal with widely contested jurisdiction will issue an award on July 12 on the South China Sea case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague said.

“The Tribunal will issue its Award on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at approximately 11 A.M.,” the PCA, acting as the registry of the tribunal, said in a press release.

“The Award will first be issued via e-mail to the Parties, along with an accompanying Press Release containing a summary of the Award,” it added.

China has refused to participate in the proceedings and declared that it will never recognize the verdict, stressing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the case is in essence related to territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.

Beijing has pointed out that territorial issues are not subject to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that as early as in 2006 it declared — in line with UNCLOS — to exclude disputes concerning maritime delimitation from mandatory dispute-settlement procedures. Some 30 countries have also filed declarations of this kind. – Xinhua

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groups.’

No room for an Islamic State (IS) and the racists in multiracial Malaysia


Let not the first brick be laid

THREE issues that have surfaced over the past week have terribly disturbed me and I am sure many Malaysians who are rational, reasonable and fair-minded feel the same way. More than that, these actions are slowly eroding the Malaysia that we know.

Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom told Parliament that unilateral conversions are lawful and gua­ranteed under the Federal Constitution.

This writer does not know if Jamil understood what he was reading out, which was presumably prepared by an official, or if he had referred to the Cabinet papers or read up on the Federal Constitution.

There is a 2009 Cabinet directive on uni­lateral conversion and early this year, a five-member Cabinet committee on unilateral conversion also decided that no child can be converted to another religion without the consent of both parents.

The 2009 Cabinet directive also stipulated that children must follow the practised religion of the parents at the time of marriage in the event that one of them converts.

Surely Jamil must be aware of the committee because he is also a member. Among the others in the panel are Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.

The other members of the committee are Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri, and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Jamil and his officials cannot read the Federal Constitution – specifically the provision for conversion – in isolation.

The argument of the singular meaning for “parent” does not hold water as the Interpretation Act 1948 & 1967 clearly indicates otherwise; the term “parent” in Article 12 (4) must necessarily mean both the father and mother.

To construe otherwise would mean depriving, for example, a mother of her rights as a parent to choose the religion of her infant under Article 12 (4), if the father alone decides. In simple English, the Interpretation Act stipulates “parent” to mean plural, not singular.

The Interpretation Acts of 1948 and 1967, which generally apply to all Acts of Parliament, state that words in the singular shall include the plural. Therefore, the Constitution ought to be interpreted in like manner.

Jamil should also put himself in the shoes of other Malaysians, especially non-Muslims. He may be in charge of Islamic Affairs but he is also a leader of all Malaysians.

I don’t think Jamil will be a happy man if his spouse makes a decision without telling him, and we are not even talking about religious issues.

Lest we forget, the Federal Court has ruled that Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi is allowed to challenge the validity of the unilateral conversion of her three children by her Muslim-convert ex-husband Muhammad Riduan.

The ruling is the culmination of the interfaith custody battle between Indira and Muhammad Riduan that began in 2009. They were married as Hindus and today, no one has been able to trace the whereabouts of Muhammad Riduan (formerly K. Pathmanathan), who had converted the couple’s three children – then aged 12, 11 and 11 months – to Islam without their presence or Indira’s knowledge, just six days before he obtained a custody order for all three in the Syariah Court on April 8, 2009.

Another big surprise last week was the Government’s decision to allow PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to table a Private Member’s Bill in the Dewan Rakyat to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

On Thursday, it was at the bottom of the day’s agenda but it was prioritized by two Federal Ministers. It came as a surprise because PAS has brought the Private Member’s Bill four times since 1995, and has never succeeded. On Thurday, Hadi got this first step.

We can be sure that Hadi will repeat his mantra that the Bill only seeks to empower the Syariah Courts and it only involves Muslims.

When tabling the Bill, he said it seeks to amend Section 2 of the Act to state that the Syariah Courts will have jurisdiction over Muslims, and in the case of offences on matters listed in Item 1 of the State List under the Ninth Schedule of Federal Laws.

He said it is also to include Section 2A, which states that in the conduct of criminal law under Section 2A, the Syariah Courts have the right to impose penalties allowed by Syariah laws related to offences listed in the said section, in addition to the death penalty.

What Hadi is pushing for is unacceptable. We live in a plural society. Those who argue that the Syariah law is only for Muslims may have missed this point – can anyone in Malaysia guarantee that crimes would only involve Muslim criminals and victims?

Many kinds of criminal acts affect non-Muslims, including rape. If we follow what Hadi is preaching – we will have to find four male witnesses of repute to testify in a rape case. Women witnesses are not accepted and we wonder where we are going to find four men of good reputation in relation to a rape case.

If non-Muslims already find that judges in civil courts are reluctant to adopt a firm stand on the civil rights of the aggrieved non-Muslim party, we wonder how the Syariah Courts can defend the interest of non-Muslims.

There cannot be a parallel criminal justice system with Muslims and non-Muslims subjected to two different laws. This is not about Islam, as advocated by Hadi and PAS, but simple common sense. But of course, common sense is not that common in PAS but we hope there will be a sense of fair play from Umno, and not the agenda dictated by the likes of Jamil. Sometimes we wonder if Jamil is really from Umno or PAS.

The third disappointment must be a speech made by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, the controversial Rural and Regional Development Minister, who is well known for his communal remarks.

Last week, he reminded his listeners that Malays must unite to prevent non-Muslims from becoming Prime Minister because the Federal Constitution is silent on the racial origin of the top boss.

First of all, I cannot imagine any non-Malay aspiring to be the PM because, accept it, realistically it is not going to happen in my lifetime. It took 200 years in the United States for a black man to become president, even when the whites and blacks are mainly Christians and speak English.

But it is sad that in this age and time, Ismail is still looking inward and seeing things through his racist lens. Surely, he must have applauded when a Muslim became the first mayor of London, and for that matter, the first mayor in a big Western city.

Even in Jakarta, the capital of the world’s largest Muslim country, a Christian Chinese has been voted in as the city’s governor.

The non-Malays, especially the Chinese, are aware of their position as a minority in Malaysia. Politicians like Ismail should stop using phrases like “they” and “us” in his speeches, because we are all Malaysians.

What he has said serves little purpose, except to hurt feelings unnecessarily. A true mature Malaysian leader will talk about the strength of all Malaysians, regardless of their race and religion, coming together and not going separate ways.

As one lawyer put it aptly in his article, Malaysia is represented by at least 45% of the population who have faiths other than Islam. The important question one needs to address is the line between maintaining social stability and securing individual rights of religious practice and freedom of religion.

He further added, “this needs to be re-evaluated – where the politicisation of the Muslim rights over the non-Muslim citizens and fear mongering has had considerable effect in defining the parameters of the fundamental rights afforded to the citizen by the Constitution.”

Three months from now, Malaysia will celebrate its National Day. As we replay the old visual of Tunku Abdul Rahman raising his hand at Stadium Merdeka, let us not forget that the Alliance created Malaysia as a secular democracy.

Tunku would have been horrified at the thought of what Hadi and his PAS theolo­gians want to do with Malaysia.

He would have also reminded a few Umno leaders, who have no sense of history, that our Independence was made possible because of the unity of Umno, MCA and MIC, and that without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia.

So please think carefully of the hearts and minds of the rest of Malaysians who do not live in Kelantan and do not want to see Malaysia turned into an Islamic State. Let not the first brick be laid.

By Wong Chun Wai The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

 

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Job for new Philippine head: Stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens


 

Manila urgently needs to tackle problems in its own backyard to stop the kidnapping of foreign citizens.

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was in Manila last November for the Apec Summit when he was informed by officials that Malaysian hostage, Bernard Then, who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group, was beheaded.

“He was upset and very shocked,” recalled a Malaysian official.

When he spoke to the Malaysian media in Manila, Najib said President Benigno Aquino had told him that Then’s beheading was probably carried out due to Philippine army operations and that Then had slowed down the militants who were moving from one place to another.

“That is not an excuse we can accept because he should have been released,” Najib told the media.

He described the beheading as savage and a barbaric act.

There seems to be no end to the kidnappings. Now more hostages, at least 20, are in the hands of the militants who are demanding ransoms.

They include four Malaysian sailors who were taken from their boat by Abu Sayyaf militants on April 1 in international waters near Pulau Ligitan. Their fate remains unknown.

Fourteen Indonesians travelling in tugboats from Borneo to the Philippines were also abducted by hijackers in two separate cases recently.

Even as the foreign governments were working to get their citizens released, more shocking news came – Abu Sayyaf gunmen had beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel in the southern province of Sulu, sparking condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Indonesia is still struggling with how to deal with the kidnapping of its citizens and is hosting talks with Malaysia and the Philippines to boost maritime security.

The meeting of foreign ministers and military chiefs in Jakarta is to discuss joint patrols to protect shipping in the waters between the three countries following the kidnappings.

The Philippine military has said the militants have been targeting foreign crews of slow-moving tugboats because they can no longer penetrate resorts and coastal towns in Sabah due to increased security.

Last week, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was in Manila to meet his Filipino counterpart, Jose Rene D. Almendras. More assurance was given that Manila was doing all it could to secure the release of the hostages.

The Philippine military and police reportedly said that “there will be no letup” in the effort to combat the militants and find the hostages. But they have had little success in securing their freedom.

All these assurances somehow ring hollow.

We are dealing with human lives. If the foreign governments are frustrated with the way the crisis is being handled by Manila, imagine the anguish and uncertainty of family members waiting for news of their loved ones.

The kidnappings are taking place in the Philippines’ own backyard and the question arises as to whether they are doing enough to tackle the problem at source.

The answer will be no. After all how do you explain the alarming number of people being kidnapped and brought back to the Philippines with a price put on their head?

It is election period in the Philippines. A lot of energy is spent on political campaigning by politicians and fears remain that the lives of the hostages are not on their priority list.

“Manila must be doing more to tackle the kidnapping and transborder crime activities and I seriously think they are not doing enough,” said a security official.

Security is a big challenge for the Philippines. While its military is battling the militants in the south, up north Manila sent its ships and aircraft to keep watch over the South China Sea, where tensions are building up with China.

Another problem has risen from these hostage-taking cases. It is affecting the economic activities of citizens living on both sides of the border.

Sabah has shut down its eastern international boundaries to cross- border trade as part of measures to clamp down on the kidnapping groups.

Barter trade is a lifeline for people on Tawi Tawi, the southern-most Philippine province and the closest to Sabah, for their rice, cooking gas and fuel.

Authorities in several Indonesian coal ports have blocked departures of ships for the Philippines over security concerns. Indonesia supplies 70% of the Philippines’ coal import needs.

The calls for joint navy and air patrol efforts among neighbouring countries are getting louder. But that is a stop-gap measure.

These kidnapping cases are affecting the image of the region as well.

Filipinos are about to elect a new president. Lets hope one of the priorities of the new leader is to tackle, with a lot of care, the safe release of the hostages and subsequently peace in southern Philippines.

By Mergawati Zulfakar The Star

 

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READ: Malaysian beheaded by Abu Sayyaf after kin failed to comply with ransom demand – military

There seems to be no end to the kidnappings. Now more hostages, at least 20, are in the hands of the militants who are demanding ransoms.

They include four Malaysian sailors who were taken from their boat by Abu Sayyaf militants on April 1 in international waters near Pulau Ligitan. Their fate remains unknown.

READ: 4 Malaysians reported seized by Abu Sayyaf

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