Lee Kuan Yew’s meritocracy: a key reason for S’pore’s separation from Ma’sia, his quotable quotes..


Lee Kuan Yew_Strong

No one could accuse LKY of being weak

When he suddenly fathered a reluctant new nation, the iron was forged in him.

LEE Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, has died at the age of 91.

He was born Harry Lee Kuan Yew on Sept 16, 1923 in Singapore. When he left England after graduating with a law degree from Cambridge University, he also left his English name behind.

In 1954, Lee formed the People’s Action Party (PAP). In 1959, at the age of 35, he won the national elections of Singapore, then still part of the British Empire, and became Prime Minister for the first time. After a brief merger with Malaysia, in 1965 the Republic of Singapore was born. Lee was PM until 1990 when he voluntarily stepped down, at age 67, to make way for a younger man.

It is a cliché, but it has to be said: the passing of Lee Kuan Yew is the passing of an era for Singapore and Singaporeans. A Singapore without LKY will take some adjusting to.

Older citizens will probably remember him with more affection and gratitude. Younger Singaporeans may attend the academic institutions and win scholarships that bear his name, but they will likely feel no particular affection or disdain, but rather, a vague admiration for the legendary leader whom they have been told was the architect of modern Singapore.

“I have been accused of many things in my life, but not even my worst enemy has ever accused me of being afraid to speak my mind,” he once said. Perhaps he will be best remembered through his own words.

In 1980, he said, “Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him.” For him, it was in August 1965, when he suddenly fathered a reluctant new nation, that the iron was forged – from the fire in his belly to make Singapore succeed.

From that “moment of anguish”, he would “spend the rest of my life getting Singapore not just to work but to prosper and flourish.” Over the years, he would use that same steel to fight all forms of obstacles and undesirable dogma, prejudices and even personal habits.

He would go on to confront and battle challenges that included corruption, unemployment, poverty, communism, political opposition, smoking and at the end, his own deteriorating health.

His self-belief and devotion to the Singapore cause was intense and absolute: “This is your life and mine. I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this (country) and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.”

He will be remembered for his ferocious fight against corruption. He believed vehemently, “The moment key leaders are less than incorruptible, less than stern in demanding high standards, from that moment, the structure of administrative integrity will weaken, and eventually crumble. Singapore can survive only if ministers and senior officers are incorruptible and efficient.”

He will be remembered for standing up for meritocracy. A key reason for Singapore’s separation in 1965 was Lee’s belief in multiracial meritocracy. He was utterly convinced that, “If you want Singapore to succeed…you must have a system that enables the best man and the most suitable to go into the job that needs them…”

Every time a Singaporean takes a ride in a bus along a tree-lined avenue, plays with her children in a park near their flat, or enjoys a picnic in Botanic Gardens, she might just think of Lee. He launched Tree Planting Day and “set out to transform Singapore into a tropical garden city.” He was completely certain that, “Greening raised the morale of people and gave them pride in their surroundings.”

Lee’s beliefs and ideas went on to mould not just the development of a small new country with no natural resources to speak of, but also, some would argue, the personal lives of its citizens. Under his leadership, his government implemented policies and ran campaigns to compel and urge Singaporeans to save water, to keep Singapore clean, to have two children, and later, to have three if they could afford it, and to speak Mandarin, among many other exhortations.

In response to critics who accused his government of interfering in the private lives and personal behaviours of the city-state’s inhabitants, he had this to say, “It has made Singapore a more pleasant place to live in. If this is a ‘nanny state’, I am proud to have fostered one.”

He will be remembered for the power of his convictions. “I have never been over concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader.” No-one could accuse Lee Kuan Yew of being a weak leader.

Of his own accord, he relinquished the position of Prime Minister in 1990, but stayed on in government as Senior Minister and then Minister Mentor in the governments of both his successors, Goh Chok Tong and his own son, Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister. He retired from Cabinet in 2011 but remained a Member of Parliament.

For those who remember Lee Kuan Yew in his prime, no matter to which side of the political divide they belong, they will recall a perspicacious politician whose intellect found admirers far beyond the little red dot, a powerful orator whose words conquered crowds and carried generations of Singaporeans with him, and perhaps, most of all, a pragmatic visionary who, against all odds, made the improbable nation a reality.

Lee was known for his admiration, gratitude and devotion to his wife, the late Kwa Geok Choo. He is survived by his two sons, one daughter and seven grandchildren.

By Peggy Kek

Singaporean analyst Peggy Kek is a former director with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Quotable quotes from Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew commenting on death: ‘There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach.’ – AFP pic, March 23, 2015

Here are some notable quotes from Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died Monday at the age of 91.

On Japan defeating Britain to occupy Singapore in 1942:

“The dark ages had descended on us. It was brutal, cruel.

“Looking back, it was the biggest single political education of my life because, for three and a half years, I saw the meaning of power and how power and politics and government went together, and I also understood how people trapped in a power situation responded because they had to live.

“One day the British were there, immovable, complete masters; next day, the Japanese, whom we derided, mocked as short, stunted people with short-sighted squint eyes.”

After World War II when the British were trying to reestablish control:

“… the old mechanisms had gone and the old habits of obedience and respect (for the British) had also gone because people had seen them run away (from the Japanese) … they packed up. We were supposed, the local population was supposed to panic when the bombs fell, but we found they panicked more than we did. So it was no longer the old relationship.”

As a law student in Britain:

“Here in Singapore, you didn’t come across the white man so much. He was in a superior position.

“But there you are (in Britain) in a superior position meeting white men and white women in an inferior position, socially, I mean. They have to serve you and so on in the shops. I saw no reason why they should be governing me; they’re not superior. I decided when I got back, I was going to put an end to this.”

On opinion polls:

“I have never been overconcerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. A leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind … you will go where the wind is blowing. That’s not what I am in this for.”

On his iron-fisted governing style:

“Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try.”

On his political opponents:

“If you are a troublemaker… it’s our job to politically destroy you… Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac.”

On democracy:

“You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools.”

On justice:

“We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists. If you don’t do that, the country would be in ruins.”

On his policy of matching male and female university graduates to produce smart babies:

“If you don’t include your women graduates in your breeding pool and leave them on the shelf, you would end up a more stupid society… So what happens? There will be less bright people to support dumb people in the next generation. That’s a problem.”

On criticism over the high pay of cabinet ministers and senior civil servants:

“The cure for all this talk is a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you’ll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again… and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries, foreign workers.”

On religion:

“I wouldn’t call myself an atheist. I neither deny nor accept that there is a God. So I do not laugh at people who believe in God. But I do not necessarily believe in God – nor deny that there could be one.”

On his wife of 63 years, Kwa Geok Choo, who died in October 2010:

“Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life… I should find solace in her 89 years of a life well-lived. But at this moment of the final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief.”

On death:

“There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach.”

On rising up from his grave if something goes wrong in Singapore:

“Even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me to the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up.”

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Review of Malaysia’s external debt; SE Asia draws more FDI investments


Malaysia-external-debt-forecast

Malaysia External Debt Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts expectations. We model the past behaviour of Malaysia External Debt using vast amounts of historical data and we adjust the coefficients of the econometric model by taking into account our analysts assessments and future expectations. The forecast for – Malaysia External Debt – was last predicted on Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Putting the finger on external debt

As the country’s situation has become a topic of debate and confusion, it is useful to review and clear the air on the matter.

LAST week there was some confusion over the state of the country’s external debt, but it was to some extent cleared up after an explanation by the Finance Ministry.

It is thus useful to clarify what external debt is, and have an informed discussion on how dependent or vulnerable the country is to external funds and changing conditions.

On March 11 the media reported that the Finance Minister, in a written reply to a Parliamentarian’s question, said Malaysia’s external debt had risen from RM196bil in the final quarter of 2013 to RM740.7bil in the third quarter of 2014.

The reply did say that the sharp increase was due to a new definition in debt reporting which now includes ringgit-denominated debt securities held by foreigners.

However, this nuance was lost amidst the headlines that the country’s external debt had tripled to RM740bil, causing surprise and perhaps a tinge of alarm.

A day later the Finance Ministry issued a statement clarifying the new external debt fi­gures were in line with debt reporting requirements of the IMF, and under the new definition, the external debt now includes holdings of debt securities, deposits and trade credits denominated in ringgit by non-residents, as well as the offshore borrowings by the Government, public enterprises and the private sector.

The high level of non-residents’ holdings of ringgit-denominated debt securities and deposits comprise over 40% of Malaysia’s external debt, and “this is due to the wider depth, openness and attractiveness of the Malaysian financial market”, added the statement.

This should give relief, that the external debt hasn’t jumped three times after all. It was really, mainly, a redefinition issue.

While the jump isn’t so high, this explanation does reveal that the country’s external debt is really much higher than originally thought.

Under the old definition, Malaysia’s external debt was RM328bil in end-March 2014 or 30.5% of Gross Domestic Product.

Using the broader new definition, the debt level had become higher at RM700bil or 65.2% of GDP at the same date, according to Bank Negara’s explanation of the redefinition of external debt, in its Quarterly Bulletin of First Quarter 2014.

The ratio of short-term external debt to exports also jumped from 15% to 39% using the redefined figures.

These figures show that the country is more vulnerable than previously thought, in terms of the share of foreigners in domestic loans and the exposure or risks to changes in conditions that affect foreigners’ perceptions on whether to maintain the holdings of their credit to the country.

The newly defined external debt has increased further to RM744.7bil, or 69.6% of GDP, as at end-December 2014, according to Bank Negara data.

The redefinition exercise is a positive one. It puts the country’s debt reporting in line with international standards, meeting the International Monetary Fund’s requirements.

It also provides a more realistic and accurate view of the true state of the country’s external debt.

Previously, only the loans taken by the Government and private companies from abroad and denominated in US dollars and other foreign currencies were considered to be external debt.

Meanwhile, foreigners have been taking up billions of ringgit worth of Government and corporate bonds issued in Malaysia and denominated in ringgit. These had previously not been considered external debt.

By the end of 2014, non-residents’ holdings of domestic debt securities were RM223bil, and non-residents’ deposits were RM88bil, thus totalling RM311bil of the total RM745bil external debt. The remainder were offshore borrowings (RM367bil) and trade credits and other items (RM67bil).

On one hand, ringgit-denominated borrowings by Malaysia do not carry the same risks of exchange rate volatility that dollar-deno­minated loans have.

Thank goodness for that, because the recent depreciation of the ringgit means that more ringgit would have to be forked out to service and repay those external loans that Malaysia has taken in US dollars and other foreign currencies.

On the other hand, the increase in foreigners’ holdings of Malaysian Government securities and corporate bonds, although denominated in ringgit, also increases the country’s exposure in terms of having to service the loans (including paying interest to foreigners, thus causing an outflow on the current account of the balance of payments) and of outflows of funds if and when the foreigners decide to withdraw the credit they provided.

Much of the public securities or private bonds that the foreigners took up can be sold back in the market and taken out of the country, and it is not unusual that buyers do not hold the financial asset until the maturity date.

If there is a change in market sentiment, prompted by either international or domestic conditions, then there can be a net outflow of foreign funds held in debt securities.

It is true that the build up of foreign holdings of Malaysian securities and bonds is made possible by the increased openness and attractiveness of the Malaysian financial market, as explained by the Finance Ministry.

On top of the exposure to foreign ownership of loans, there is also significant foreign ownership of equity in the Stock Exchange (which is not counted in the figures on external debt).

The same openness that brought the capital inflows could also lead to capital outflows when conditions change.

The easy-money policies of the United States, that included near zero interest and quantitative easing that pumped over a trillion dollars into the banking system, contributed to huge funds seeking higher yield in developing countries like Malaysia.

Since the end of quantitative easing in the US and with the increasing prospect that interest rates will rise, the same funds have begun to return to the US.

Malaysia is no exception to the countries facing a reversal of capital flow. It is not clear if this will be offset by the new quantitative easing exercise which just started in Europe.

For the whole of 2014, there was a net outflow of RM37.9bil of portfolio investment, and RM20bil of that in the fourth quarter, according to Bank Negara data.

This portfolio investment includes foreign holdings of debt and stock market equity.

The outflow of portfolio funds, together with outflows of direct and other investments, caused the financial account of the balance of payments to have a deficit of RM76.5bil in 2014, thus contributing to the decline in the overall balance of payments by RM36bil, according to Bank Negara data in its Quarterly Bulletin Fourth Quarter 2014.

The international reserves correspondingly declined from RM441.9bil in end-December 2013 to RM405.5bil in end-December 2014 (according to Bank Negara Quarterly Bulletin) and to RM386bil on Feb 27, 2015 (Bank Negara media statement March 6).

The declines are significant but the current situation is manageable as high reserves were built up through the years, so that the country will not be caught again by the crisis conditions of 1997-99.

The redefinition of debt figures and the recent data on movements in portfolio investment and reserves show that a comprehensive overview of the debt situation enables a better picture of the country’s exposure to different types of debt-rela­ted and portfolio investment flows.

Another conclusion is that borrowing through ringgit-denomina­ted debt removes the risks associa­ted with foreign-exchange changes.

But it still results in dependence on the foreign appetite or prefe­rences in investment venue and consequently to exposure to significant outflows when these preferences alter.

As global conditions, especially in the US and Europe change, it will be a challenge to manage the country’s finances.

– Global Trends by Martin Khor

> Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre, a research centre of 51 developing countries, based in Geneva. You can e-mail him at director@southcentre.org. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

SE Asia draws more FDI investments

Asean FTZ

Region draws more investments than China for 2nd year running.

JAKARTA: South-East Asia’s major economies drew more foreign direct investment combined than China for the second straight year in 2014, as growth in their giant neighbour cooled. But by country, inflows into the region were uneven, swayed by political change and the varying costs of doing business.

Overall FDI into Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam rose to a record US$128bil in 2014, estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters show.

That surpassed the US$119.56bil that flowed into China.

FDI into the Philippines grew the fastest, at 66%, while in Thailand, where the military seized power last year, inflows fell. FDI into Indonesia, the region’s biggest economy, rose around 10% even though it was an election year.

As China’s troubled manufacturing sector loses momentum, Chinese businesses will be venturing abroad to cut operating costs and to search for new markets, economists say.

Manufacturing powerhouses in South-East Asia should pay heed.

“Rising wages in China are leading low-end manufacturers to look for other low-cost locations for their factories, with countries like Vietnam and the Philippines looking like attractive alternatives,” said Dan Martin, Asia economist at Capital Economics.

“Asean is also a large market in its own right, and one with good long-term growth prospects. Given the general slowdown in other emerging market regions in recent years, it is starting to stand out.”

The Philippines, the second-fastest growing major economy in Asia, attracts investors with its strong economic fundamentals.

But one concern is the continuity of economic policies following the 2016 general elections.

That means some investment decisions might be postponed. Slumping commodity prices could pinch on FDI inflows into resource-rich Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, Malaysia.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, is seeking more foreign investment in manufacturing to counter the volatile resources sector. But Indonesia has many improvements to make, particularly in its business infrastructure, to successfully challenge the region’s manufacturing leader.

— Reuters

German Chancellor: Japan needs honesty to improve relations with victims of World War II


Angela Merkel: I think history and experience tell us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found

TOKYO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel waded into the fraught area of wartime forgiveness during a visit to Japan, saying that “facing history squarely” and “generous gestures” are necessary to mend ties.

Merkel was speaking in Tokyo on March 9 2015 ahead of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative views on Tokyo’s war crimes are under scrutiny, and as China and South Korea continue to call for more contrition.

“Germany was lucky to be accepted into the community of nations after the horrible experience the world had to meet with Germany during the period of National Socialism (Nazism) and the Holocaust,” she said.

“This was possible first because Germany did face its past squarely, but also because the Allied Powers who controlled Germany after WWII would attach great importance to Germany coming to grips with its past.

“One of the great achievements of the time certainly was reconciliation between Germany and France … the French have given just as valuable a contribution as the Germans have.”

Relations between Japan and its wartime victims China and South Korea are at a low point, with Beijing and Seoul both calling for Tokyo to do more to atone for its past.

Nationalists in Japan say Tokyo has apologised enough and that the constant references to WWII are covering flak for governments in China and South Korea seeking to direct popular anger elsewhere.

There were “great minds and great personalities who said we ought to adopt a policy of rapprochement … and without these generous gestures by our neighbours this would not have been possible,” Merkel told her audience.

The public lecture came on the first day of a two-day trip to Tokyo, her first in seven years.

Abe visited Germany last year.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on Sunday said Abe would be welcome at Beijing’s commemorations of the end of WWII if he was “sincere” about history.

Beijing has not given a specific date for the parade but it regards Sept 3, the day after Japan signed its formal surrender to Allied forces on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, as victory day.

“It’s difficult for me as the German chancellor to give you advice on how to deal with part of your neighbourhood. But I think history and experience tell us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found,” Merkel said in response to questions.

Merkel’s visit to Japan is part of her swing through G7 member nations before Germany hosts the group’s next summit in June. She has already visited the other five nations.

The visit, her third to Japan in almost 10 years in office, is seen as a balancing act between Germany’s ties with Beijing and Tokyo. She has been to China seven times during the same period.

Thanking Japan for joining Western powers in imposing sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine, Merkel said: “Japan and Germany share common interests whenever the strengthening of the international rule of law is to be brought about.” — AFP

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You are ‘Stupid’ is not defamatory


Jeff Ooi

PUTRAJAYA: Calling a person “stupid and recalcitrant” does not amount to defamation, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Court of Appeal judge Justice Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus, who chaired a three-man panel, held this in a civil appeal brought forward by Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi (pic) against a politician over the dismissal of Ooi’s defamation suit.

Justice Mohd Hishamudin ruled Thursday that “although it was not nice to use the words”, it did not amount to defamation.

On April 22 last year, Ooi’s defamation suit against Gerakan deputy secretary-general Dr Thor Teong Gee for calling the former “stupid and recalcitrant” at a press conference was dismissed by the Penang High Court.

Justice Mohd Hishamudin, who upheld the High Court’s ruling in an unanimous decision, also ordered Ooi to pay RM10,000 to the defendant in costs.

In the coram were Court of Appeal judges Justice David Wong Dak Wah and Justice Vernon Ong Lam Kiat.

At the outset of court proceedings when queried by Justice Mohd Hishamudin, Ooi’s lawyer R. Ramesh Sivakumar argued that those words were defamatory because they were a personal attack on the credibility of his client.

Ramesh Sivakumar argued that Dr Thor had acted mala fide by using those words.

“He could have used better words. By calling him stupid, he was portrayed as not fit to be an MP,” he added.

However, Dr Thor’s counsel Baljit Singh and V. Amareson were not required to submit in the appeal.

In an immediate response, Dr Thor said he was very grateful for the appellate court’s decision as he had never made a personal attack against Ooi.

“An NGO invited me to give a professional views on medical issues on radiation,” said Dr Thor, who is a Penang-based medical doctor, when contacted.

In her ruling earlier, High Court Judicial Commissioner Nurmala Salim said Ooi had failed to state the alleged defamatory words in the original language, which was in Mandarin, in his statement of claim.

She also held that the words used by the defendant Dr Thor in the press conference were in reference to a radiation issue, and not a personal attack against Ooi.

“I am inclined to concur with the defendant’s (Dr Thor) counsel that the words uttered are commonly used by Malaysians of all races during an argument or when one is angry,” she said in her decision.

She also said the court did not see how the words had sullied Ooi’s reputation and office, as he had earned a bigger majority of votes in the 2013 general election compared with the general election in 2008.

“The plaintiff (Ooi) himself had refused to state how the words had tarnished his office and reputation,” she said, before dismissing the suit and ordering Ooi to pay RM20,000 in costs to Dr Thor.

Ooi sued Dr Thor for defamation for allegedly uttering the words “stupid and recalcitrant” against him in a press conference on May 21, 2010.

He sought aggravated and exemplary damages, a retraction and an apology by Dr Thor, as well as costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

By M. Mageswari The Star/Asia News Network


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Missing flight MH370 anniversary, plane hijacked by conspiracy theories!

A year on, lack of hard facts, initial confusion and overnight ‘experts’ add to fog of uncertainty KUALA LUMPUR: It’s been ex...


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Missing flight MH370 anniversary, plane hijacked by conspiracy theories!


A year on, lack of hard facts, initial confusion and overnight ‘experts’ add to fog of uncertainty

KUALA LUMPUR: It’s been exactly a year since Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and despite the most extensive search in aviation history, the fate of the Boeing 777 aircraft and the 239 people on board remains a mystery.

While the search led by Australia in the depths of the Indian Ocean continues, how and why a sophisticated aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew vanished without a trace has piqued the curiosity of many.

The authorities and aviation experts remain baffled. They believe only the plane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders can shed light on why the plane was diverted from its original path and headed south across the vast Indian Ocean.

The lack of hard facts and the initial confusion when the plane was declared missing gave rise to a flood of anecdotal “evidence” and a crop of overnight aviation “experts” basking in their two minutes of fame.

Numerous conspiracy theories over the fate of flight MH370 have been appearing ever since, with none providing a credible clue on what could have really transpired.

In the run up to the first anniversary of MH370′s disappearance, conspiracy theorists went into overdrive.

The latest was Jeff Wise, a science journalist and author, who claimed that the plane was hijacked on the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and flown to a remote landing strip in Kazakhstan.

But why would Putin want to hijack a Malaysian plane in the first place?

On March 3, a senior Boeing 777 pilot claimed that flight MH370 was taken on an emotional last farewell ride over the pilot’s home island of Penang, before the pilot ditched the plane into the ocean.

Captain Simon Hardy who came up with this theory, published in Flight International magazine, is based on the initial suspicion that the MH370′s Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah could have turned rogue and deliberately flown the plane off course.

But there is nothing to substantiate this claim.

In December 2014, a former French airline boss Marc Dugain in a six page article in Paris Match claimed that the US might have shot down flight MH370 as it approached the US military base on the Diego Garcia atoll in the western Indian Ocean, fearing a 9/11 style attack on the base.

The US military is said to have covered up the incident.

Immediately, the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur stated that there was no indication that flight MH370 had flown near the US military facility in the first place.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed, too, had his own idea: just two months after the plane disappeared, he wrote in his blog that “someone” must have remotely seized control of the aircraft from the pilots.

He based his argument on a supposed patent received by Boeing in 2006 for an “anti-terrorism auto-land system” that, once activated, removed all control from the pilots to return a commercial airliner to a pre-determined landing location. But Dr Mahathir failed to mention who that “someone” could be behind the plot. So back to square one.

Everything on board the plane, including its cargo and passengers, came under suspicion right from the onset.

Conspiracy theorists claimed that the plane was carrying dangerous cargo that caused a fire on board or crippled the plane’s operating systems.

Among the items in the cargo manifest were highly flammable lithium ion batteries. Did the batteries have anything to do with the plane’s fate like the fire in South African Airways’ Flight 295 in 1987?

Other conspiracy theorists focussed on the 20 employees of Freestyle, a Texas based semiconductor manufacturing company; the equipment they were carrying had radar-blocking capabilities developed by the company, thus crippling the plane’s systems, these theorists claimed.

Fingers were also pointed at two Iranians on the passenger list who boarded the plane with forged travel documents. Could they have been terrorists who hijacked the plane to an unknown destination or sabotaged the plane?

But Interpol revealed that the pair had no links with any terrorist groups and were on their way to seek asylum in Europe.

And of course there were the out-of-this-world conspiracy theories. The plane was hijacked by aliens. A Malaysian bomoh claimed the plane was hijacked by elves and was permanently suspended in the air.

Two months after the plane disappeared, Indian film director Rupesh Paul put up a trailer for a film about MH370 at the Cannes Film Festival, to be called “The Vanishing Act: The Untold Story of the Missing Malaysian Plane”.

CNN, which had given the MH370 story its full wall-to-wall treatment, described it tellingly: “If the Cannes Film Festival had an award for most squirm-inducing production, it would surely go to the producers of a new thriller telling the “real” story of the still-missing Malaysian Airlines jet.”

National Geographic turned out a documentary that was more cautious in its approach visualising all possibilities including a catastrophic failure of aircraft systems or structure. But there are not definitive answers.

The confusion in the first days of the aircraft’s disappearance led to parallels with conspiracy theories about the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, mainly that the government had covered up crucial information in the aftermath of the incident.

LOOKING BACK: THE FINAL MOMENTS OF MH370

* Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 departs from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang at 12.41 am to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew. It was a code sharing flight with China Southern Airlines.

At the helm of the Boeing 777-200 ER was veteran pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

The passengers include 153 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, six Australians, three French, four Americans, two from Ukraine, New Zealand and Canada respectively and one each from Russia, Taiwan, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.

Less than one hour into the flight, as the plane approached the Igari Waypoint, in South China Sea, where it was to be handed over to the Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control, it disappeared from the radar screen.

“Good night Malaysian three seven zero” were the last words spoken from the cockpit. No distress signal received.

Subesequently the plane was tracked by Malaysian military radar as it deviated from its planned flight path and crossed the Malay Peninsula and headed towards the Andaman Sea.

Communications pings between the aircraft and Inmarsat’s satellite network concluded that the flight continued until 8:19 am towards southern Indian Ocean. However, the precise location could not be determined.

A major multinational search was mounted without success. Australia leads the second phase of the search with the cost mounting.

– BERNAMA/FMT

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China plans parade for war anniversary

Military parade to mark victory of War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression BEIJING – China will hold a
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U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert attacked by South Korean


US ambassador attacked_South KoreaSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to South Korea struggled with pain as he recovered Friday from a knife attack, while police searched the offices of the anti-U.S. activist who they say slashed the envoy while screaming demands for Korean reunification.

The attack Thursday on Mark Lippert, which prompted rival North Korea to gloat about “knife slashes of justice,” left deep gashes and damaged tendons and nerves. It also raised questions about security in a city normally seen as ultra-safe, despite regular threats of war from Pyongyang.

While an extreme example, the attack is the latest act of political violence in a deeply divided country where some protesters portray their causes as matters of life and death.

Lippert, 42, was recovering well but still complaining of pain in the wound on his left wrist and a finger where doctors repaired nerve damage, Severance Hospital official Yoon Do-Heum said in televised briefing. Doctors will remove the 80 stiches on Lippert’s face on Monday or Tuesday and expect him to be out of the hospital by Tuesday or Wednesday. Hospital officials say he may experience sensory problems in his left hand for several months.

Police, meanwhile, searched the offices of the suspect, Kim Ki-jong, 55, for documents and computer files as they investigated how the attack was planned and whether others were involved. Police plan to soon request a warrant for Kim’s formal arrest, and potential charges include attempted murder, assaulting a foreign envoy, obstruction and violating a controversial South Korean law that bars praise or assistance of North Korea, Jongno district police chief Yun Myung-sung told reporters.

Police are investigating Kim’s past travels to North Korea — seven times between 1999 and 2007 — during a previous era of inter-Korean cooperation, when Seoul was ruled by a liberal government. Kim attempted to build a memorial altar for former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il after his death in December 2011, police said.

Kim, who has a long history of anti-U.S. protests, said he acted alone in the attack on Lippert. He told police it was meant as a protest of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that started Monday — exercises that the North has long maintained are preparations for an invasion. Kim said the drills, which Seoul and Washington say are purely defensive, ruined efforts for reconciliation between the Koreas, according to police officials.

While most South Koreans look at the U.S. presence favorably, America infuriates some leftists because of its role in Korea’s turbulent modern history.

Washington, which backed the South during the 1950-53 Korean War against the communist North, still stations 28,500 troops here, and anti-U.S. activists see the annual military drills with Seoul as a major obstacle to their goal of a unified Korea.

“South and North Korea should be reunified,” Kim shouted as he slashed Lippert with a 25-centimeter (10-inch) knife, police and witnesses said.

Kim is well-known among police and activists as one of a hard-core group of protesters willing to use violence to highlight their causes.

Police didn’t consider the possibility that Kim, who has ties to the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, which hosted the breakfast meeting where Lippert was attacked, would show up for the event, according to a Seoul police official who didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.

U.S. ambassadors have security details, but their size largely depends on the threat level of the post. Seoul is not considered to be a particularly high threat post despite its proximity to the North Korean border. It’s not clear how many guards Lippert had, but they would have been fewer than the ambassadors in most of the Mideast.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a foreign ambassador stationed in modern South Korea had been injured in a violent attack.

However, the Japanese ambassador narrowly escaped injury in 2010 when Kim threw a piece of concrete at him, according to police. Kim, who was protesting Japan’s claim to small disputed islands that are occupied by South Korea, hit the ambassador’s secretary instead, media reports said, and was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term over the attack.

The website of the Woorimadang activist group that Kim heads describes the group’s long history of anti-U.S. protests. Photos show him and other activists rallying last week in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to protest the U.S.-South Korean military drills, which are to run until the end of April.

North Korea’s state-controlled media crowed Thursday that Kim’s “knife slashes of justice” were “a deserved punishment on war maniac U.S.” and reflected the South Korean people’s protests against the U.S. for driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war because of the joint military drills.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Saudi Arabia for meetings with regional leaders, said the U.S. “will never be intimidated or deterred by threats or by anybody who harms any American diplomats.”

Activists in Seoul, meanwhile, expressed worries that the attack on Lippert would harm the public image of peaceful protesters, or prompt the conservative government to suppress their activities.

Small to medium-sized demonstrations regularly occur across Seoul, and most are peaceful.

But scuffles with police do break out occasionally, and the burning of effigies of North Korean and Japanese leaders is also common. Some demonstrators have also severed their own fingers, thrown bodily fluids at embassies and tried to self-immolate.
Lippert became ambassador last October and has been a regular presence on social media and in speeches and presentations during his time in Seoul. He’s regularly seen walking his Basset Hound, Grigsby, near his residence, not far from where the attack happened. His wife gave birth here and the couple gave their son a Korean middle name.

–  Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Matthew Lee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.

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China plans parade for war anniversary


Military parade to mark victory of War of Resistance Against Japanese AggressionBEIJING – China will hold a military parade this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Monday evening.

Other events that will also mark the 70th anniversary of the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War include a rally, a reception and an evening gala in Beijing, which will be attended by President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, the spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, without revealing exact dates of the parade and other events.

Related: Farce to fuss over China’s military paradeChina military parade

Unmanned aircraft receives inspection during a military parade in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, on Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, October 1, 2009. [Xinhua]

“China will flex its military muscle again.” Perhaps that’s the main message many Western and Japanese media outlets will grab from the news that China may hold a grand military parade in September.

Such a fuss will only be a farce, even if the parade news is confirmed by the Chinese government. The unusual military parade, if it is held in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese aggression, it will only be part of the series of activities to commemorate the World Anti-Fascist War.

China has no intention to taunt Japan by showing off its military mighty, even when Japanese politicians’ words and actions intensify tensions in the East Asia.

It’s true that the parade will be special and rare as it will not be held on the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. In the past two decades, two military parades were held in 1999 and 2009 to celebrate the 50th and 60 anniversaries of founding of New China.

However, the parade will only be part of activities that remind the world of what happened in the Eastern battlefield in World War II. As a responsible power that played an extremely important role in the Asian battlefield to fight against Fascist Japan, China’s sacrifice and contributions have long been underreported compared with its counterparts who fight against Germany and Italy in Europe.

There were about 30 million casualties in China in the eight-year long war (1937-1945). And in the most brutal Nanjing Massacre in 1937 alone, 300,000 innocent Chinese lost their lives. Chinese people, through resistance, depleted Japan’s resources and limited its ability to launch attacks on other countries, which is key to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.

China has every reason to use the international practice to highlight its pains and contributions in the World War II. On Jan 27, Poland held a ceremony marking 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz death camp. In May Russia will hold a similar ceremony.

Military parade to mark victory of War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression

China military parade_reason

The series of activities are not aimed at planting hatred among the peace-loving people against their past foes, but remind the whole world to be vigilant to any factors that may threaten world peace.

Japanese people, who were exploited by its national military machine, paid the biggest price for Japanese warmongers. For instance, when the allies dealt a final blow to force Japan to surrender, more than 150,000 Japanese people were immediately killed after the US dropped atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As Japanese politicians continuously tried to whitewash Japan’s war crimes in past years, the whole world should keep a close eye on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement on Aug 15, the day when Japan announced surrender in World War II 70 years ago.

Abe has hinted that his statement may deviate from former Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono’s apology over “comfort woman” and the epoch-making statement made by former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama admiting Japan’s war atrocities in World War II. If he does so, Abe will not only challenge the post-World War II international regime, but also cast a shadow on the whole of East Asia and harm the interests of Japanese people.

China is a peace-loving country that takes defensive defense strategy. The military parade, if it is held, will only display Chinese military’s resolution to protect the nation and its people. Therefore China’s activities to mark the victory of World Anti-Fascist War should be cherished by all peace-loving people across the world.

Source: China Daily, Asia News Nework

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