Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting July 23~26, last chance for peace in South China Sea?

HERE are three significant ironies in the South China Sea arbitration award which have not been picked up in the already voluminous reviews of the ruling in the case between the Philippines and China.

If properly plucked, they could form the basis for moving forward in a situation which shows all the potential of turning ugly.

The first is the distinction the arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) highlights between “historic rights” and “historic title.” While China lost in its claim to historic rights to resources in the South China Sea – deemed extinguished when states acceded to the regime under UNCLOS – it is worth noting nonetheless China does not claim to any “historic title.”

Even if the tribunal observed “historic title” can only be claimed over bays and other near-shore waters under UNCLOS, the fact remains China claims historic rights to resources within the ninedash line but not historic title.

The negative irony – at least from China’s point of view – is that had Beijing claimed historic title, the case brought to the tribunal by the Philippines in January 2013, which China contends is outside its jurisdiction on so many other grounds, could have been exempted from that jurisdiction under Article 298 of UNCLOS as a dispute concerning “historic title”.

Whether or not someone blundered in the Chinese foreign ministry, a reflection on the South China Sea dispute from the time of Deng Xiaoping, when he wisely counselled the issue of sovereignty should be set aside in negotiation to forge collaboration, would show the predisposition, lost in recent years of raw emotion, had always been to work together in the South China Sea.

This is a positive irony that could be gleaned by involved parties from last Wednesday’s tribunal award, to move forward.

The second noteworthy point that could be positively constructed from the award is the passage on the Second Thomas Shoal in response to the request from the Philippines (the 14th of its 15 submissions) for tribunal adjudication. The tribunal ruled that compulsory settlement is excluded from a dispute where military activities are involved.

China has of course been vociferous on the tribunal not having jurisdiction to hear the case brought by the Philippines. But just imagine if China had not asserted that its South China Sea activities, like reclamation and even militarisation, were not peaceful in intent but military in nature to stake its claims. Quite conceivably the tribunal might have ruled it indeed did not have jurisdiction!

Be that as it may, China has been consistent about its peaceful intentions. The occasion of the tribunal’s award should be made the point from which to push hard, through negotiation, for peaceful ends.

The third irony that could be made to have a positive twist is yet another argument by China on exclusion of the tribunal’s jurisdiction, which was rejected – the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in 2002 between China and Asean.

The tribunal rightly found that the DOC was a political, not a legal, document. Therefore its invocation for negotiation does not preclude legal settlement under UNCLOS.

Actually, it was China itself (and Malaysia) that did not want the DOC to be legally binding. Instead of talking about the chicken coming home to roost however, might this not be the opportune time to push together – both China and Asean – for the legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) and even make the overarching DOC a legal agreement?

The Asean Foreign Minsters Meeting and the Post Ministerial Conference with Dialogue Partners, including China of course, take place in Vientiane on July 23-26. Asean foreign ministries should be working furiously with one another and with China to make something positive happen in Laos.

Construct the positives. Avoid the negatives. Drive the meetings in clear direction. Asean, do not be helpless and hopeless.

Do not allow anything to happen that is gloating, taunting and flaunting. Make sure words at the meetings like “rebuke”, “chastise” and “outlaw in unequivocal terms” – which have dominated commentaries in the West – are avoided. Ensure there is no attack on anybody, including the tribunal. Show China particularly all Asean is interested to do is to move forward with it on the South China Sea issue in good faith.

All this is not easy to achieve. But it is a facet of Asean centrality that is called for more than ever before. As Asean chairs these meetings, the preparation for these outcomes must be pursued vigorously NOW in a truly focused manner.

Asean should take the lead. Laos should be given full support in preparing for the meetings. And China should be engaged before the meetings begin.

If thorough preparation and discussion do not take place before hand, there is grave danger the meetings will end up in disarray, including – again – the Asean meeting. There is no point trying to come out with an Asean joint statement on the arbitration award at this stage, as there will be no long-distance consensus when one cannot be achieved even when sitting down together. A meaningless joint statement would be just that – meaningless.

Malaysia has come out with its own statement, which is fine. The Singapore foreign minister has made a carefully crafted statement in the island republic’s Parliament. The new Philippines government has also been circumspect, showing restraint and responsibility in its hour of “victory”. And will send no less than a former president for talks with China.

China had time to expect the ruling. After giving vent to its fury, China should also calm down and work with Asean, as it has always said it would, and has again said it would in the wake of the arbitral award.

But which Asean? Asean must form a consensus on how to move forward. Singapore, which represents Asean in relations with China, should take the lead. When Asean foreign ministers failed to come out with that joint statement in 2012, Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia – not a South China Sea claimant state – scrambled a sixpoint agreement with what he called a zero-draft COC.

At this time, in this hour of crisis, the need for such leadership has never been greater. It is critical that Asean plays its role if it is not to drop off the horizon.

By Munir Majid comment Viewpoint


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


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 ( 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:]

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. –

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.

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: //

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


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
historic claims in the South China Sea and wipe out its rights to
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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Paedophiles’ predators using apps in phone to find and groom potential victims

Hunters hunted: R.AGE journalists went undercover as 15-year-old girls to meet up with online sex predators who target teenagers. Watch the videos at

This was among the material gathered by The Star’s R.AGE journalists who went undercover for these meetings.

Six months before paedophile Huckle made global headlines, the R.AGE team had already started its undercover sting operation against sex predators.

During the period, R.AGE compiled material that included obscene images, inappropriate messages and hidden camera footage of the undercover journalists at work.

Malaysia does not have laws against “sexual grooming”, which refers to the process of gaining a child’s trust for future sexual exploitation, even though statistics show it has been on the rise.

Mobile chat apps (WhatsApp, WeChat, BeeTalk, Facebook Messenger, etc.) seem to
have become the most popular tools for sex predators in Malaysia, based on Bukit Aman’s statistics.

Since 2015, a whopping 80% of reported rape cases involved sex predators who started out online.

During a sting, R.AGE confronted one such predator, who was propositioning the undercover journalist on WeChat and sending photos of his penis.

“It’s a numbers game,” said the 28-year-old postgraduate student who is a self-confessed sex addict.

“On WeChat and BeeTalk, you can search for people nearby, and filter them based on gender. After I filter out all the men, I just send messages to as many girls as possible.”

The predators then start grooming those who reply to them. They would earn the trust of these children and gradually introduce sex into the conversations.

Another man claimed he is “an expert in massages” and that he had done it on at least two other girls below 15.

The situation has long weighed on Assistant Commissioner Ong Chin Lan, the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11) assistant principal director.

“If we had grooming laws, the authorities might be able to arrest predators like Huckle early on,” said Ong.

“We need to empower our law enforcement agencies.”

Sources: The Star;

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This British monster paedophile defiled Malaysia’s kids

Huckle pleaded guilty to 71 charges of sexual offences against 23 children aged between six months and 13 years from an impoverished Christian community in Kuala Lumpur.


Court takes over an hour to read out list of charges against Huckle

LONDON: Britain’s worst paedophile who attacked hundreds of children in South-East Asia and used the dark web to crowd-fund his abuse is facing 22 life sentences.

Huckle, 30, targeted a poverty-stricken Christian community in Malaysia, where he posed as a photographer and English teacher to win the trust of his victims’ parents.

The man from Kent took pictures and videos of himself raping and abusing young children and even a baby wearing a nappy.

Huckle bragged of the attacks in online blogs and penned a sick 60-page “handbook” titled Paedophiles & Poverty: Child Lover Guide.”

During his nine years of offending, he forced victims to pose with horrific slogans advertising his foul images, which he sold for Bitcoins on a notorious paedophile website on the dark web – the encrypted version of the internet.

As part of an international network, Huckle awarded himself “PedoPoints” for carrying out the attacks and used a paedophile crowdfunding website to finance the abuse. Between November 2013 and November 2014, he had a “score” of 1,305.

The case could only be reported now after Judge Peter Rook QC lifted reporting restrictions at the start of a three-day sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey.

It took more than an hour for the charges to be put to Huckle at an earlier hearing, in what is believed to be the worst case of its kind.

He appeared in the dock yesterday wearing a black shirt, with his long hair tied back into a ponytail and sporting a goatee beard.

The paedophile sat with his head in his hands in the dock as the court heard how he set up a website to crowdfund his sickening acts.

The charges relate to the horrific sexual abuse of 23 girls and boys aged between six months and 12 years. Some 22 victims are from Malaysia while one is Cambodian.

Huckle started abusing children after spending his gap year teaching in Malaysia in 2005.

He later returned to the region and spent years carrying out some of the most horrific abuse investigators have ever seen.

He took indecent images of a three-year-old child while staying with a Cambodian family the following year.

He then returned to Malaysia where he abused and took photographs of two sisters, aged four and six.

In 2007 he came back to stay with their family and he took up a teaching post in their village and continued to abuse the girls until his arrest.

Huckle gained the trust of a poor Christian community in Kuala Lumpur through his English tuition where he was able to use his perceived status as a rich westerner to “groom” victims and their families with impunity.

Huckle even boasted that he’d “hit the jackpot” by grooming a three-year-old girl to be “as loyal to me as my dog”.

In another sickening posting, he said it was amazing that he had stuck with the same child lover for so many years and watch her body develop from a five year old to a 12-year-old.

On the dark web, Huckle documented every step of his child abuse and hoped to make paedophilia a paying profession.

He turned to online paedophiles to crowdfund the abuse, allowing those who paid him in Bitcoins access to videos of him raping his victims.

Huckle wrote: “Impoverished kids are definitely much, much easier to seduce than middle class Western kids. I still plan on publishing a guide on the subject sometime.”

He added: ‘Would love to make a small income off selling child porn.’

Huckle was arrested at Gatwick Airport on Dec 19, 2014 when he returned to the country to visit his family for Christmas.

Police found 20,253 indecent images of children on his laptop and hard drives, many of them showing Huckle abusing children. – The Daily Mail.

Huckle’s journey of depravity

Paedophile travelled widely in Malaysia, photographing kids every step of the way

PETALING JAYA: Paedophile Richard Huckle had a penchant for photos of young children. He would not only photograph them but would also visit photography community website Trek Earth and post comments there.

Huckle, 30, went by the moniker “huckool” and his comments were mostly on pictures of young children from Malaysia, Cambodia, India, and Japan.

According to Trek Earth, its members provide photographs and useful critiques for each other and the entire Internet community.

On a picture of a boy fully clothed and another clad in an oversized shirt which covered his private parts, Huckle said in June 2005: “I did wonder about his ‘private parts’ until I read the caption, though I (personally) feel there’s little offence in natural nudity.”

On a picture of a young Indian girl half-clad in a saree, Huckle said: “This is a nice photo of someone so special to you. I have a close relationship with some kids in Malaysia, I miss them very much. Have fun with her.”

Checks by The Star showed that the last time he critiqued a photo was in August 2006 and his page was viewed 5,962 times.

Huckle also posted pictures from many Malaysian states on his account.

A quick glance shows albums of photos at the Petronas Twin Tower, the Butterfly Park in Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Langkawi and Negri Sembilan, among other places.

He took pictures of children frolicking on the beach, titling the picture as “Perlis”.

Huckle seemed to frequent children-centric places. In a shot of an indoor roller coaster, a young girl’s silhouette can be seen, while another titled “Muslim Dance” showed a stage full of school-goers.

Similarly, another picture of a classroom with Malaysian flags showed young children in primary school uniforms.

He also enjoyed photographing children from the Sunday school where he taught, with one picture showing a smiling group posing with the peace sign.

In the Travelogue section of his account, Huckle wrote: “I spent most of my time in Malaysia on my travels, living with the Indian Christian community in Kuala Lumpur. I also took trips to Port Dickson (Malaysia), Brunei, Singapore and Cambodia, meeting and making many friends along the way.” – The Star

The devil that hid in the church

PETALING JAYA: He was a monster who posed as a good, religious person.

Middle-class British boy Richard Huckle was baptised at the age of 17, visited churches, helped out at Sunday schools and was an average student when he left school.

But it was in church that he gave release to his vile side.

SkyNews said Huckle spent three months on a placement at a church in Kuala Lumpur and returned regularly to Malaysia, offering to help teach at schools and churches.

He even started to groom children while doing voluntary work in Kuala Lumpur. All the while, he was also abusing the children in the church.

In 2008, Huckle took a short English teacher training course at the British Council’s offices in Kuala Lumpur. He also appeared in a promotional video.

Huckle, 30, has admitted to a string of paedophile offences, ranging from raping babies and toddlers to girls and boys, from 2006 to 2014. His victims were aged between six months and 12 years.

SkyNews said Huckle “is one of the most prolific paedophiles ever to have been brought before a UK court”.

It was reported that Huckle filmed and photographed much of the abuse. He even shared it with other paedophiles on the Internet.

He also posted commentaries to accompany the images.

“It’s quite amazing to have stuck with the same child lover for so many years and I hope, from the images you have seen, enjoyed watching her grow.

“It’s not often in child porn you can compare the bodies of a 5yo and a 12yo that are the same girl. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more sex with (her) in the future,” Huckle wrote.

Over 20,000 indecent photographs were found on his computer when he was caught at London’s Gatwick Airport in 2014 as he came home to Britain from Malaysia for Christmas.

His arrest came after Australian authorities alerted Britain’s National Crime Agency to his crimes.

It was reported that Huckle wrote a paedophile manual called “Paedophiles And Poverty: Child Lover Guide” and also kept a series of notes in which he detailed rapes and other sex acts.

The encrypted manual was on Huckle’s laptop, ready for publication on the “dark web”.

At his first plea hearing at the Central Criminal Court of England, it took more than an hour to read out all the charges.

In January, Huckle pleaded not guilty to all 91 charges. But ahead of his trial in April, he admitted to 71 of the offences over the course of five more hearings.

According to one charge, Huckle had bragged: “I’d hit the jackpot, a 3yo girl as loyal to me as my dog and nobody seemed to care.”

He faces 22 life sentences. His sentencing will be done today.

Huckle appeared very normal, says KL pastor

PETALING JAYA: Huckle seemed like a “normal human being”, said a Kuala Lumpur church pastor.

The pastor, who only wanted to be known as Paul, said Huckle started visiting his church in 2011 but was an infrequent churchgoer.

“He came to the church off and on. Maybe only around five or six times,” said Paul.

When asked how Huckle was like, Paul described him as a “normal human being”.

“He would sometimes take pictures, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

“Sometimes when we saw things we did not like or behaviour that we did not like, we would scold him. But I can’t go into specifics.”

However, he said none of the children in the church were harmed by Huckle.

Paul said that when news broke about Huckle, he was shocked and “felt really rotten about the whole thing”.

“I will still pray for him. But that doesn’t negate his errors,” he said.

Huckle is said to have spent six years at another church in Kuala Lumpur. He taught in Sunday school, attended services and took many photographs of children.

A priest in the church said: “He hardly spent any time here (in the church). Very short period. He was in Malaysia for some years but he was hardly here (in the church).”

Huckle’s school friend, Scott Chapman, was shocked to learn that the “loner” he had known could “change so quickly”.

“He never seemed off or anything like that. He just seemed like a normal person. Just like a very, very quiet person. Didn’t really talk about hormonal things like that,” said Chapman.

Huckle’s parents sold their house and moved away as soon as they found out about Huckle’s crime.

Meanwhile, his older brother refused to speak about it to SkyNews.

“None of his family will speak about him. None of us ever want to see Richard again,” Huckle’s sisterin-law told SkyNews.
Previous StoryNext Story

The ones we trust are the ones who betray us


PETALING JAYA: Paedophiles are usually trusted individuals such as teachers or spiritual leaders.

Consultant psychiatrist and a member of the Health Ministry’s mental health promotion council Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran said Malaysians were a trusting people.

“We assume adults who become close to children show genuine affection. It is in our culture to promote physical closeness between adults and children,” he said.

Dr Mohanraj added that paedophiles are individuals who have failed to complete the normal sexual development process.

“Paedophiles tend to dominate or control their victims to compensate for their powerlessness during their childhood.

“Sharing their exploits online is a way to get fulfilment in a twisted way – by demonstrating their power and control over their victims, and getting admiration from like-minded individuals,” he said.

Dr Mohanraj said some signs of sexual abuse parents can look out for in their children are signs of physical pain or discomfort, emotional changes like temper tantrums, becoming withdrawn or very clingy, changes in eating habits, self-harm or unexplained personality changes.

“Children can also start acting out in sexual ways because they feel it is normal behaviour, but these are actions they learnt from the abuser.

“Bed wetting, nightmares or sleeping problems are also signs that something is wrong. If parents notice several of these signs in their child, they should talk to the child or seek help,” said Dr Mohanraj.

Criminologist and psychologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat said paedophiles were mostly men and that most sexual child abuse cases involved men known to the child.

“A trend analysis of the past decade in Malaysia indicates that more than 60% of such crimes were perpetuated by the child’s father, followed by the uncle and stepfather.

“In many cases, other relatives are also victims or know of the crime, especially the mother,” she said.

She also said it was more common to find a child who was sexually abused three or four times before a report was made.

“This type of abuse by a male relative makes a child believe sexual intimacy with male family members is how men express their parental or family love to a child,” she said. The Star

‘He started with nude pix’


Child victim recalls abuse began when she was just four 
<< Something needs to be done to address paedophilia in Malaysia. Mahi Ramakrishnan

PETALING JAYA: Shy, quiet and completely withdrawn – that was Maria (not her real name), a victim of convicted British paedophile Richard Huckle when journalist Mahi Ramakrishnan first met her.

“She did warm up a bit to us, when we made it very clear that she was safe and that she could stop the interview at any time,” said Mahi.

“But when she recounted the abuse she suffered, she seemed completely numb.”

As the BBC’s local contact, Mahi received a brief from journalist Angus Crawford in late January – the channel was doing an investigative piece on Huckle, 30, who was on trial in Britain for sexually abusing children in Malaysia.

Posing as an English and Sunday School teacher, he had targeted the children of a poor community in Kuala Lumpur.

Mahi and Crawford finally traced some of the victims, and managed to convince 14-year-old Maria to share her harrowing story.

“Maria lives in a shelter. She told us that the abuse began when she was four,” said Mahi.

On the video, Maria recounts how her grandmother told her to be careful with Huckle, but as a child she did not understand the caution – until he began taking nude photos of her and her younger sister.

“There was more, but she made us agree not to share any more than that. We did find other children whom we believe were abused – one admitted that it had happened, but would not say any more,” she said.

Mahi made sure that during all her meetings with Maria, a female counsellor was present.

“After the interviews, we didn’t just want to be journalists who got the story and then left, so Angus said he would sponsor the first 10 sessions of counselling for her.

“But it is taking a lot of work to convince the caregivers and families of the victims that counselling is necessary. Mostly, they just want to forget that it happened,” she said. Mahi isn’t giving up. She will continue trying to get the kids and families on board with counselling. The journalist and filmmaker isn’t the type that shies away from ugliness.

For her documentary on child prostitution, Mahi spent time in brothels in the city.

She has written on baby trafficking and militants. But the mother of two called this “one of her most difficult stories”.

“Something needs to be done to address paedophilia in Malaysia,” said Mahi.

“I don’t condone what Huckle did, and he deserves his punishment, but who knows if he was also a victim of abuse, and how can we stop it if we don’t look at all these questions?

“Malaysia has no specific law on paedophilia. We need a sex offenders registry too.”

– The Star

MH370 families file biggest lawsuit in Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR: Seventy-six next of kin of the passengers on board  Flight MH370 have launched the biggest suit in the courts here against Malaysian Airline System Bhd and four others over the plane’s disappearance.

With the deadlines to do so up by today, the group  made up of 66 Chinese nationals, eight Indians and two Americans  filed the suit last Thursday, naming MAS, Malaysia Airline Bhd (MAB), Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general, Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Government as defendants.

They are claiming for negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty and breach of Montreal Convention against MAS

Lawyer N.Ganesan representing Indian, Chinese and American families said this is the biggest lawsuit against MAS in Malaysia as it involves a large number of families as plaintiffs.

In the statement of claim filed last Thursday, the families alleged that the plane’s disappearance on 8 March 2014 was caused by MAS’ negligence and the national carrier had breached the Montreal Convention by causing the injuries and death of all 239 passengers and crew..

Besides MAS, the families also named the director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), and the government.

They claimed that DCA, RMAF and the government had conspired with MAS in conducting the investigation in a “grossly negligent manner” to delay the search, causing the death of all the passengers and crew.

They also contended the government and MAS had acted fraudulently and in a dishonest manner by hiding information about MH370’s disappearance from the public, and the families of passengers and crew.

The 76 next of kin are seeking damages and losses they suffered after their loved ones went missing.

“The families opted to file the lawsuit here because they have confidence in our court,” said Ganesan when met at the High Court here.

He also pleaded with the government not to move to strike out the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit deserves a day in court, and all the families deserve a fair trial,” he said.

When asked if the families were given consent by the MAS administrator under the MAS Act to initiate the lawsuit, the lawyer said they were denied consent. “They had previously said in the media that they would act in ‘good faith’ to determine fair and equitable compensation.”

“What they said was they were inviting next of kin to initiate lawsuits against them.”

Ganesan disclosed that an American law firm, Hod Hurst Orseck, will be joining the families’ legal team.

“They are the experts in civil aviation. We will be having the firm’s partners, Steven Marks and Roy Altman with me and lawyer Tommy Thomas.”

“When necessary, we will be filing for leave to the court for them to be conducting the trial,” he said.

Last week, 12 families of passengers from Malaysia, Ukraine, Russia and China sued MAS and the government for damages, shortly before the two years deadline for initiating a civil suit under the Montreal Convention.

Sources: The Star news and Free Malaysia Today

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Developers of toppled Taiwan building detained

Executives face charges over professional negligence resulting in death


Questions are being asked about the building’s construction (Picture: AP)

Three Taiwanese construction company executives have been detained on charges of professional negligence resulting in death following the collapse of an apartment building in an earthquake, killing dozens.

The district prosecutor’s office in the city of Tainan said Wednesday that Lin Ming-hui and architects Chang Kui-an and Cheng Chin-kui were suspected of having overseen shoddy construction of the 17-story Weiguan Golden Dragon building, which crashed onto its side during the earthquake Saturday.

It said the three were detained to prevent collusion or other acts that could disrupt the investigation. Among the accusations was that only half as many fasteners had been used in the supporting columns as required.

The death toll in the 6.4-magnitude quake stood at 44 on Wednesday, with all but two of the deaths coming in the building collapse. About 100 people are believed to still be trapped in the debris.

The broadcaster FTV and other Taiwanese media said Lin had changed his name after a previous bankruptcy and had run multiple property development companies in Tainan in an apparent attempt to avoid creditors and bilked clients.

Although the shallow quake was potentially devastating, few buildings were damaged as a result of strict construction standards in force in Taiwan, an island frequently struck by quakes. The Weiguan Golden Dragon building, built in 1989, was the only major structure to collapse in the temblor.

Most of the 320 people who were rescued from the disaster were saved in the hours immediately after the quake, in which the building’s foundation and lower floors gave way before it toppled onto its side.

Earthquakes rattle Taiwan frequently. Most are minor and cause little or no damage, but a magnitude-7.6 quake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people. More stringent building standards were introduced following that disaster and appear to have been tightly enforced.

The quake struck during the most important family holiday in the Chinese calendar – the Lunar New Year. Celebrations of the holiday in Taiwan have been subdued. – AP

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‘Spin doctors’, public relations gurus in today’s political world – an uneasy with online news

Uneasy with the age of spin

The old guard feel uncomfortable with the instant availability of online news and views that might be critical of them or their allies.

UMNO is probably one of the largest political parties in the world relative to the country’s population – with three million members in a country of around 30 million, its members account for almost 10% of the population.

So it came as a surprise that the party’s secretary-general announced that media would not be invited to cover this year’s party general assembly unless they “behaved” themselves.

He has since rescinded this order, but the permanent gripe that the Umno establishment has against some online news portals is that the portals allegedly like to “spin” stories and statements made by senior party-members and ministers, much to the chagrin of the nation’s top leaders.

So what is “spin”?

Spin is a weapon generally employed on a daily basis by politicians, opinion-makers and large corporations with the help of public relations gurus (“spin doctors”) who put out the desired image or message in such a way that the client will be favourably received by the public.

Edward Bernays is called the “father of public relations” for his success at presenting smoking and drinking as acceptable social behaviour in the early part of the 20th century, and he was in fact a spin doctor par excellence who openly talked of manipulating the public mind.

Spin doctoring is readily apparent in the United States political scene where debates are held by competing presidential candidates: both sides will claim victory and their spin doctors will go full throttle to selectively present the respective candidate’s winning points.

It’s also spin if the desired result of the exercise is to paint a negative picture of one’s target; either way, spin is usually associated with deceptive or manipulative tactics, but this is not always the case.

Spin can be disingenuous but not necessarily false: selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one’s position is spin, and it is the same as putting large photographs of certain leaders on the front pages of national newspapers to project a positive image.

Everyone engages in spin – some crudely – while others do so with more finesse, but everyone is actively spinning these days.

My wife’s constant complaint is that Malaysiakini uses a picture of me showing me in an angry mood, gesticulating about something, which she feels does not truly represent my persona.

Here, Malaysiakini could either be unconcerned about how I look (and why should it be?) or it might want to portray me as an angry man without a cause. If it is the latter, then it’s spin.

That said, spin is less effective in the age of the Internet than it was in the old days when a political party had a monopoly over the media. Back then, it was an arduous task for dissenters to make themselves heard, simply because they had no platform to do so.

Now, in the era of social media, the old order feels uncomfortable with the instant availability of online news and views that might be critical of them or their allies.

The old guard do not know how to deal with this new phenomenon, which is why they complain incessantly about the Opposition’s “spin”.

The truth is that every political organisation, large or small, uses spin to maximise its impact on the voting public.

Spin is par for the course in today’s political world and it’s not something we should complain about.

If the level of news reporting and journalistic integrity has stooped too low – if fair reporting has suffered because journalists resort to unethical practices such as plagiarism or manufacturing stories – then the solution would be to set up a Press Council to guarantee that minimum standards of professional excellence are maintained.

News organisations that flout the rules of such a council could be fined, while other measures can be taken to improve news reporting – that is, positive measures – because the unending threats to sue newspapers and online portals for incorrect statements and negative reporting is a waste of the court’s time.

Also, banning newspapers and online media from attending any political assembly is not the answer.

Instead, politicians should learn to be a little thick-skinned: after all, it’s part of the business to be attacked and made fun of, and to be misquoted or selectively quoted in a deceptive way.

If we are going to sue and issue threats every time an opponent opens his or her mouth, no work of serving the people and formulating good policies will ever be done.

Our politicians will be quarrelling and threatening one another for every small mistake, deliberate or otherwise, and if this is allowed to continue, the public will be disenchanted even more by the lack of quality leadership in Malaysia.

A serious change in attitude – a paradigm shift, of sorts – is necessary on the part of our political leaders to avoid this endless bickering and name-calling.

Politicians should learn to regard their opponents as a vital and necessary part of the democratic system that they all claim to uphold, and they should learn to live in harmony with one another as far as possible so that real work can get done.

There is no point taking the hard line over trivialities unless we want to dispense with democracy altogether: running a democracy is never as easy or comfortable as ruling with an iron fist.

It’s so much easier to rule North Korea or Saudi Arabia if you are the top dog there, but if you want democracy to continue, then a little discomfort – a little spin here and there – is a necessary part of political life which really shouldn’t bother anyone too much.

By Zaid Ibrahim All kinds of everything The Star/Asia News Network

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim ( is now a legal consultant. The views expressed here are entirely his own

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