Kim Jong-nam’s murder masterminds back in North Korea


 

Official story: Noor Rashid speaking to the media during the press conference at Bukit Aman.

KUALA LUMPUR: Four suspects being hunted by Bukit Aman in the assassination of North Korean exile Kim Jong-nam are believed to be back in Pyongyang after leaving the country for Jakarta immediately after the attack.

The four – Rhi Ji-hyon, 33, (arrived in Malaysia on Feb 4), Hong Song-hac, 34, (arrived Jan 31), O Jong-gil, 55, (arrived Feb 7) and Ri Jae-nam, 57, (arrived Feb 1) – left for Jakarta from KLIA2 immediately after the attack on Monday.

From Jakarta, sources say they flew to Dubai and Vladivostok before reaching Pyongyang.

“They may have taken the long route to shake off the authorities,” sources said.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said Malaysian police are cooperating with Interpol and other relevant bodies overseas to track them.

Bukit Aman’s first priority is to collect all evidence on the suspects’ involvement in the case.

“Next plan is to get them. We will use all resources to pursue them,” Noor Rashid told a press conference, the first by the police since the killing.

On the possibility that the murder was politically motivated, Noor Rashid said the police were not interested in any political angle.

“What we are interested in is why they committed such a crime in our country.

“Any political angle can be put aside as it is not our job to worry about political matters.

“We want to get at the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.

He said police were also looking for North Korean citizen Ri Ji-u, 30, also known as James, along with two others to help in investigations.

Of those arrested, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, arrived from Hanoi on Feb 4 while Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, a spa masseuse, entered the country via Batam on Feb 2.

North Korean Ri Jong-chol, 47, was arrested on Friday and entered Malaysia on Aug 6 last year.

“We are in the process of identifying the two others sought to assist in the investigations,” said Noor Rashid.

“We hope anyone with information can come forward,” he said.

On Jong-nam’s post-mortem, Noor Rashid said that it was conducted on Feb 15 at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

“The cause of death is still unknown. We are waiting for the toxicology and pathological test results. I think in a few days, we will get the toxicology result.

“The case will be referred to the deputy public prosecutor for fur­ther instructions and investi­ga­tion,” he said.

Priority is given to close family members or next of kin to claim the body and they have been given two weeks to do so, added Noor Rashid.

“It is very important for close family members of the deceased to come forward to assist us in the process of identification, which is based on our legal procedures and Malaysian law.

“However, as of today, we have not met the next of kin. We are trying very hard to get the next of kin to assist us,” he said.

In the event that the family does not show up, Noor Rashid said police will look at further options.

Sources: By  farik zolkepli, jastin ahmad tarmizi, merga watizul fakar, adrian chan The Star

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Lured by Korean movie led to murder of N Korean supreme commander’s half brother Kim Jong-nam


Korean web of intrigue: Malaysia hunting for Kim Jong-nam murder


Two women suspects in Kim Jong-nam assassination remanded for seven days

KUALA LUMPUR: Two women arrested in connected with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, have been remanded for seven days.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Seri Abdul Samah Mat said the two women have been remanded until Feb 21 to assist in the investigations.

One of the women has a Vietnam passport bearing the name Doan Thi Huong while the other has an Indonesian passport bearing the name Siti Aishah.

“They have been remanded. So far, there is no press conference as a press statement have been issued. We will update if there is anymore development,” Abdul Samah told The Star Online.

At 11.05am, Magistrate Sharifah Muhaymin Abd Khalib was at the Sepang police headquarters to grant the police’s application to remand the woman with the Vietnam passport.

Jong-nam, 45, was killed by two women who splashed his face with a chemical at the KLIA2 departure hall at about 9am on Monday. He was about to leave for Macau.

The women later got into a taxi and fled.

One of the women, who has the Vietnam passport, was arrested at the airport on Wednesday when she tried to board a flight out.

The woman with the Indonesian passport was arrested at 2am on Thursday.

Police are looking for four men who were in the company of the two women at the airport when Jong-nam was killed.

By Farik Zolkepli and Joash Ee De Silva The Star/|ANN

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South Korea can’t tackle new Trump Order alone, be prepared new Trump order !


Trump-tanic by Stephff | China Daily

South Korea, in particular, could take a leaf from Japan’s playbook on preparing for a face-off and making the right structural reforms.

It’s official. A new world order, aka, the Trump Order, has been set in motion.

Most of us should have been ready for it, since the man had been more than clear about backtracking on America’s global trade policies. And now, in one flamboyant gesture, he has overturned his predecessor Barack Obama’s decision to join the TPP.

As one of the key members, Japan is up in arms. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed he would continue to try and persuade President Donald Trump.

At the same time, Tokyo appears to be quite ready to face the new threat.

Japan is a country that downplays the number of naval destroyers it has in order to keep its frenemies in check, and to assure them it still has a long way to go in terms of military defense. In reality, Tokyo is armed with seemingly worn-down subs that can actually be made battle-ready at a moment’s notice.

The Abe Shinzo administration has been ready to face off with Trump for a while now, and internal government sources say the foundations have already been laid. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already put in motion the necessary structural reforms to wean Japan off of the US or make Japanese firms more competitive in the face of high tariffs. Abe is also preparing to enlist the support of high-profile companies such as Softbank, which has been pledging more investment in America.

Further, Japan is looking to cut loose from China, which has made it clear it won’t play into US hands.

In contrast to Japan and China, South Korea has a smaller say. But that does not mean it has less on the line.

The country stands as the world’s 11th-largest economy in terms of GDP, but it also depends on exports for more than two-thirds of it. So any policy decisions by its chief trade partners are bound to have a profound impact — even more so now that its internal economic affairs are in a mess due to the ongoing impeachment. South Korea truly cannot afford to have its global partnerships jeopardized.

During his presidential campaign, Trump has already called the US-Korea FTA a failed partnership that has robbed the US of 100,000 jobs. 

The Seoul government should have long been brainstorming a strategy to keep the deal on track, and must readily communicate its plans with the public before the concerns mushroom into something bigger.

The alliance with the US goes far beyond military issues, and the significance should not be downplayed or tainted in any way if Korea is to continue pursuing its national interests.

The strategy should be laid out in such a way to prevent Koreans from harboring unnecessary ill sentiment toward the US, and vice versa. For this, both governments will have to cooperate seamlessly. Trump must realize the contribution that Koreans and the Korean economy are making in the US.

That while it may not be comparable in size to other nations such as Japan and China, there is no going around the fact that in the end, cliche has it may sound, it is indeed a global economy.

Korean firms should take a cue from Softbank and find ways they can offer more support for the Korean economy as it faces the aftershocks of Trump’s latest policy move.

As for the US, it must remember that Korean companies like Hyundai, Samsung and LG have been seeking cheaper entry into the US for years via countries like Mexico and Vietnam.

The change of a regime must not pull the plug on these efforts for the sake of global partnership. And needless to say, the products and services brought into the US also help create livelihoods there, and give Americans what they need.

All of this should not be forgotten or put on a back burner. As already witnessed in the Lehman Brothers meltdown, the intricate web of global trade and finance ensures that the demise of a single company can affect so many more.

But, in a weird and twisted way, I do envy the American people. Sure, there could have been someone better than Trump, who psychologists have branded as narcissistic and delusional.

But for many Americans, Trump is doing what they have only dreamed of doing and saying. To say out loud, that they think America is the best, that they are scared of anyone appearing to infringe upon its beliefs and interests, even at the expense of other nations and peoples. To say that the US won’t play the peace-brokering leader who is constantly mindful of others, including rivals. To say, the US will start acting only for its benefit-regardless of how short-sighted this may be.

To have a president, as strange as he may be, who for now, appears so committed in his campaign, does draw an odd contrast with our embattled President Park Geun-hye who now seems anxious only to cover her own tail.

In some ways, they are similar in that they seem to prioritize themselves. But at least for now, Trump is giving many Americans the promise they need, as twisted or unorthodox his methods may be.

In a similar fashion, but based on a strategic and acceptable approach, Korea should be ready to protect its interests and its people amid the fast-changing global order. And all other players in the economy must be ready to lend a helping hand.

By Kim Ji-hyun

Kim Ji-hyun is The Korea Herald’s Tokyo  Correspondent. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.
 

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.

Western dominance on the global stage coming to an end, entering the era of Chinese influence


China’s President Xi Jinping speaking at the World Economic Forum AP

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/dOrQOyAPUi4

Western dominance on the global stage is coming to an end – we are now entering the era of Chinese influence

China’s economic relations with the Middle East are on a long-term upward trend. Beijing is the region’s largest foreign business partner, now surpassing the US in oil purchases. In the five years leading up to 2009 trade tripled, reaching $115bn

Donald Trump’s inauguration has been described as symbolising the end of the “American Century”. Historians may look back on 2016-17 as the years in which the two greatest forces sweeping the world – the anti-establishment backlash in the West, and the resurgence of Asia – combined to thrust China into a global leadership role. This was seen at Davos, in Beijing’s recent foray into the world’s most contentious conflict – Israel-Palestine – and most recently in Theresa May’s statement that the US and UK will never again invade sovereign countries to “remake the world in their own image”. This suggests that it might not be just a century of American dominance that’s ending, but half a millennia of Western pre-eminence.

President Xi Jinping’s call for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital occurred just as the Trump White House began early talks over moving America’s embassy in Israel to the disputed city. This is part of China’s conversion of economic weight into diplomatic and geopolitical assertiveness in the Middle East over the last few years.

China’s economic relations with the region are on a long-term upward trend. Beijing is the region’s largest foreign business partner, now surpassing the US in oil purchases. In the five years leading up to 2009 trade tripled, reaching $115bn.

China has begun translating this into strategic influence. In 2008-2009, Beijing sent naval vessels to the region, an action referred to as its “biggest naval expedition since the 15th century”. China has embarked on strategic partnerships with traditional US allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In addition to Saudi Arabia traditionally being China’s top source of oil, Beijing has convinced Riyadh to engage its “One Belt, One Road” initiative and attracted it to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In 2016, the two countries unveiled a five-year plan for Saudi Arabia-China security cooperation. Riyadh also expressed interest in Chinese defence technology.

China’s growing footprint is in part possible due to some of the forces that brought President Trump and Prime Minister May to power. Firstly, Western publics are beyond fatigued by over a decade of war and intervention in the Middle East – much of which was supported by the same Republicans within Washington’s foreign policy establishment that had declared they wouldn’t work with Trump, and the same Labour MPs who sought to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn. Despite Trump’s tough-on-terror talk, the public gravitated to the same anti-regime change positions that were popular with Bernie Sanders supporters. May herself has observed this mood and adjusted her position accordingly. This is combined with a reduction of the US and Britain’s relative power in the region.

Additionally, Washington is less dependent on energy from the region. This is combined with Middle Eastern states themselves reaching out to diversify their strategic partnerships in an increasingly multipolar world. This includes US allies like the Gulf States, as well as those who feel threatened by the West, like Iran.

Beijing’s Trump Cards

China has several advantages in the region. Firstly, Beijing mirrors Western public opinion by taking a non-interventionist approach to issues like democracy and human rights. This of course sits well with rulers in the Middle East. China has asserted its view that Middle Eastern countries and their people should be able to decide their own path to development in accordance with “national conditions”. In the past, President Xi has expressed China’s support for Saudi Arabia choosing its own development path. In Qatar, Beijing differentiated itself from the West, pledging to support Doha on issues of national independence, sovereignty, stability, security and territorial integrity. This was received well during a visit to Beijing by Qatar’s Emir who reportedly voiced his “appreciation for China’s impartial stand on international affairs”.

Secondly, unlike the US, China is not bound by well-known and entrenched alliances and animosities. It is obvious who the US supports in the Middle East and who its rivals are. With Beijing there is more flexibility. Shrewd foreign policy advisors in Beijing will be advising President Xi to use China’s burgeoning ties with the Gulf States and Israel to leverage relations with Iran and vice versa.

For instance, China has held positions on Syria and Libya inimical to those of its new partners in the Gulf. In addition to Damascus being a long-time buyer of weapons from China, Beijing has also made clear its support for Moscow’s intervention. China and Russia have consistently worked together to provide diplomatic protection to the Syrian government via vetoes at the UN. Some sources also reported Chinese military advisers being dispatched to Syria and Beijing providing training support to the Syrian army.

While maintaining its tendency to take a soft-spoken approach, Beijing hosted both senior Assad government and opposition figures. In a purposely symbolic move, during the China visit, the Syrian Foreign Minister confirmed the government’s willingness to participate in the peace process. Beyond Middle Eastern states, China’s position on Syria provides it negotiating power with both the West and Russia. Similarly, Beijing’s Palestine announcement allows it to extract more from Israel.

China’s Interests

China primarily sees the region as a source of energy. It is also a continuation of the trade routes it seeks to secure from East Asia, through the Indian Ocean, to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The ability to influence the Middle East is also important to great/rising powers like America, China and India in order to disrupt and deny energy to potential adversaries. Greater Chinese involvement will give Beijing some potential leverage over the energy supplies of adversaries like Japan, and potential competitors like India. Beijing’s pursuit of closer ties with Middle Eastern states as part of its “Maritime Silk Road” initiative adds to India’s fears of encirclement by a Chinese “string of pearls”.

Beijing also prioritises stability in the region more consistently than Washington. Recent conflicts cost China. The toppling of Gaddafi in Libya led to losses in energy investments, infrastructure and equipment, as well as evacuation costs. With regard to Syria, Beijing had to abandon its oil investments in 2013 due to the war.

As one of the main theatres for geopolitical competition between great powers, China’s growing strategic role in the Middle East is another step toward what many in the country see as its own “manifest destiny”. This rising Asian power, free of colonial baggage in the region, adds a new ingredient that could help untangle seemingly intractable issues like Israel-Palestine. Furthermore, with its steadfast principle of respecting sovereignty, China’s increasingly loud and distinctive voice in the Middle East may indeed be the final nail in the coffin of Western interventionism.

Sources: Dr Kadira Pethiyagoda is a visiting fellow with the Brookings Institution researching Asia-Middle East relations – independent.co.uk

The Heat: Chinese President Xi speaks at World Economic Forum in Davos PT 1

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Txa_93q8iak

 

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中國國家主席習近平2017年新年賀詞(Chinese President Xi Jinping 2017 New Year Address)

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/o4jS9hLiHUQ

President Xi Jinping (pic) struck a warm tone with his annual Spring Festival greeting calling on the whole nation to love their family and friends.

Love should reach to every family and bring warmth to all Chinese like a spring breeze blowing across the nation, he said on Thursday in his speech ahead of the Lunar New Year.

“The Chinese people have always valued love and high morality,” Xi told his audience at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, which included senior government officials, military officers, renowned artists and ethnic community leaders.

He urged people not to neglect their family, comrades and loved ones, no matter how busy they are with their work. Love means not being hypocritical, not selfish and not outrageous, he said.

“A short greeting of ‘welcome home for Spring Festival’ would warm the hearts of millions of Chinese people,” he said.

Xi went on to wish all Chinese, including ethnic groups, those in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and those living abroad, an auspicious Year of the Rooster, an animal that symbolises good fortune.

China’s economic growth has remained one of the strongest in the world, and people’s livelihoods have continuously been improved, the president said, before calling on the nation to “roll up our sleeves to work harder”.

Xi said he hopes the people “not only have great dreams, but also show a hardworking spirit to fulfil those dreams”. He added, “The progresses in China’s development are achieved thanks to Chinese people’s diligent work.”

Jin Yanlei, a geography teacher in Dongying, Shandong province, said,

“President Xi has told us to roll up our sleeves to work harder, which I think is important not only for ourselves, but also for the nation, especially at a time when the global economy is sluggish.” — China Daily/The Star/Asia News Network

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 2017 – expect a bumpy year ahead worldwide 

Goodbye 2016, a strange and difficult year


The year will be remembered for the West ending its romance with globalisation, and its impact on the rest of the world.

JUST a few days before Christmas, it is time again to look back on the year that is about to pass.

What a strange year it has been, and not one we can celebrate!

The top event was Donald Trump’s unexpected victory. It became the biggest sign that the basic framework and values underpinning Western societies since the second world war have undergone a seismic change.

The established order represented by Hillary Clinton was defeated by the tumultuous wave Trump generated with his promise to stop the United States from pandering to other countries so that it could become “great again”.

Early in the year came the Brexit vote shock, taking Britain out of the European Union. It was the initial signal that the liberal order created by the West is now being quite effectively challenged by their own masses.

Openness to immigrants and foreigners is now opposed by citizens in Europe and the US who see them as threats to jobs, national culture and security rather than beneficial additions to the economy and society.

The long-held thesis that openness to trade and foreign investments is best for the economy and underpins political stability is crumbling under the weight of a sceptical public that blames job losses and the shift of industries abroad on ultra-liberal trade and investment agreements and policies.

Thus, 2016 which started with mega trade agreements completed (Trans-Pacific Partnership) or in the pipeline (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and Europe) ended with both being dumped by the President Elect, a stunning reversal of the decades-old US position advocating the benefits of the open economy.

2016 will be remembered as the year when the romance in the West with “globalisation” was killed by a public disillusioned and outraged by the inequalities of an economic system tilted in favour of a rich minority, while a sizeable majority feel marginalised and discarded.

In Asia, the dismantling of the globalisation ideal in the Western world was greeted with a mixture of regret, alarm and a sense of opportunity.

Many in this region believe that trade and investment have served several of their countries well. There is fear that the anti-globalisation rebellion in the West will lead to a rapid rise of protectionism that will hit the exports and industries of Asia.

As Trump announced he would pull the US out of the TPP, China stepped into the vacuum vacated by the US and pledged to be among the torchbearers of trade liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific region and possibly the world.

The change of direction in the US and to some extent Europe poses an imminent threat to Asian exports, investors and economic growth. But it is also an opportunity for Asian countries to review their development strategies, rely more on themselves and the region, and take on a more active leadership role.

China made use of 2016 to prepare for this, with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank taking off and the immense Belt and Road Initiative gathering steam.

Many companies and governments are now latching on to the latter as the most promising source of future growth.

The closing months of 2016 also saw a surprising and remarkable shift in position by the Philippines, whose new President took big steps to reconcile with China over conflicting claims in the South China Sea, thus defusing the situation – at least for now.

Unfortunately, the year also saw heart-rending reports on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, and the deaths of thousands of Syrians including those who perished or were injured in the end-game in Aleppo.

On the environmental front, it is likely 2016 will be the hottest year on record, overtaking 2015. This makes the coming into force in October of the Paris Agreement on climate change all the more meaningful.

But there are two big problems. First, the pledges in the agreement are grossly insufficient to meet the level of emissions cuts needed to keep the world safe from global warming, and there is also insufficient financing to support the developing countries’ climate actions, whether on mitigation or adaptation.

And secondly, there is a big question mark on the future of the Paris agreement as Trump had vowed to take the US out of it.

The biggest effect of 2016 could be that a climate skeptic was elected US President.

In the area of health, the dangers of antibiotic resistance went up on the global agenda with a declaration and day-long event involving political leaders at the United Nations in September.

There was growing evidence and stark warnings in 2016 that we are entering a post-antibiotic era where medicines will no longer work and millions will die from infection and ailments that could once be easily treated by antibiotics.

The world will also be closing in a mood of great economic uncertainty. In 2016 the world economy overall didn’t do well but also not too badly, with growth rates projected at 2.4 to 3%.

But for developing economies like Malaysia, the year ended with worries that the high capital inflows of recent years are reversing as money flows back to the US.

The first in an expected series of interest rate increases came last week.

All in all, there was not much to rejoice about in 2016, and worse still it built the foundation for more difficulties to come in 2017.

So we should enjoy the Christmas/New Year season while we can. Merry Christmas to all readers!

Global Trends By Martin Khor

Martin Khor (director@southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.
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