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Friday, November 30, 2018

Spain welcomed President Xi visit, signed 10 deals worth US$17.6 bln, pledged stronger BRI ties against protectionism, unilateralism

China, Spain sign 10 deals worth US$17.6 bln 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) meets with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid, Spain, Nov. 28, 2018. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

Chinese and Spanish enterprises have signed ten deals worth 17.6 billion U.S. dollars during President Xi Jinping's visit to Spain from November 27 to 29.

These deals cover the areas of finance, telecommunication, environment, machine, vehicle and medicine, hitting a new record of China-Spain trade and economic cooperation, said the spokesperson of China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

China and Spain also inked intergovernmental cooperation documents such as a Memorandum of Understanding in the Third Party Market, Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion and Inspection and Quarantine of Imported Pork Products and so on.

During the visit, China-Spain Business Advisory Council was formally established and the first meeting was successfully held, becoming another platform for deepening bilateral economic and trade relations.

Xi's visit coincides with the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and the two sides have enjoyed excellent trade relations through all these years.

China is Spain's sixth largest trading partner in the world and the largest trading partner outside the EU. From January to September 2018, the bilateral trade volume hit 25.35 billion U.S. dollars, according to the MOFCOM.

China, Spain pledge stronger BRI ties against protectionism, unilateralism

China and Spain are cooperating in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), yielding positive outcomes, and will continue to leverage the platform to oppose protectionism and unilateralism, Chinese experts said.

The comments came after a joint statement between the two countries during Chinese President Xi Jinping's three-day visit to Spain.

Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday that Spain has seen opportunities in cooperating with China on BRI.

"Although Spain faces pressure from conservatives who oppose free trade, the two countries' cooperation on BRI will not be interrupted," Zhao said, citing the freight train between China's small commodity hub of Yiwu and Madrid as a typical BRI achievement and an important bridge across Eurasia.

"Trains were not fully loaded when the line was first launched in 2014, but fully-loaded trains now depart every day from China," the research fellow said, while stressing that  Spain has a privileged position on the route.

Boosted by the route, Yiwu's imports from Spain surged 8.82 percent year-on-year to 60 million yuan ($8.6 million) in the first 10 months.

China is Spain's largest trading partner outside the EU, while Spain is the sixth-largest trading partner within the bloc for China. Bilateral trade reached $22.37 billion in the first eight months, up 10.6 percent year-on-year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times that among EU members, Spain has shown stronger support for the BRI.

Both sides believe the Belt and Road initiative, as a platform of connectivity, will strengthen economic, trade and investment cooperation in third-party markets.

The two countries also stand ready to build synergy between BRI and related EU strategies, thus offering more mutually beneficial business and investment opportunities to Chinese and Spanish enterprises.

"On Spain's side, such cooperation in the third-party markets such as Africa will alleviate its refugee problem. It would also spark less geopolitical concerns than China-led projects in Europe," Ding said.  

China and Spain can cooperate on clean energy, including wind and tide energy, Zhao said, noting that cultural exchanges should also be strengthened through education, tourism and sports.

"Cooperation with Spain's small and medium enterprises should be given greater consideration," Zhao noted.  

"There are historical and geographic bases for China and Spain to conduct cooperation on the BRI," Xi said during a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Sources: Global Times

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

China's GPS rival BeiDou to go global

 APA model of the BeiDou Navigation System is displayed during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai earlier this month.

HONG KONG/BEIJING:China is taking its rivalry with the U.S. to the heavens, spending at least $9 billion to build a celestial navigation system and cut its dependence on the American-owned GPS amid heightening tensions between the two countries.

Location data beamed from GPS satellites are used by smartphones, car navigation systems, the microchip in your dog’s neck and guided missiles -- and all those satellites are controlled by the U.S. Air Force.

That makes the Chinese government uncomfortable, so it’s developing an alternative that a U.S. security analyst calls one of the largest space programs the country has undertaken.

A model of the Beidou navigation system satellite.
Photographer: Imaginechina
“They don’t want to depend on the U.S.’s GPS,’’ said Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland. “The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.’

“They don’t want to depend on the U.S.’s GPS,’’ said Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland. “The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.’’

The Beidou Navigation System, currently serving China and neighbors, will be accessible worldwide by 2020 as part of President Xi Jinping’s strategy to make his country a global leader in next-generation technologies.

Its implementation reverberates through the corporate world as makers of semiconductors, electric vehicles and airplanes modify products to also connect with Beidou in order to keep doing business in the second-biggest economy.

Assembly of the new constellation is approaching critical mass after the launch of at least 18 satellites this year, including three this month. On Nov. 19, China launched two more Beidou machines, increasing the number in operation to more than 40. China plans to add 11 more by 2020.

A rocket carrying the 24th and 25th Beidou navigation satellites takes off in Xichang in Nov. 2017. Photographer: Wang Yulei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Beidou is one element of China’s ambitious campaign to displace Western dominance in aerospace. A state-owned company is developing planes to replace those from Airbus SE and Boeing Co., and domestic startups are building rockets to challenge the commercial-launch businesses of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.

Next month, China is scheduled to launch Chang’e 4, a lunar probe that would be the first spacecraft to the far side of the moon. A Mars probe and rover also are scheduled for liftoff in 2020.

“It is classic space-race sort of stuff,’’ said Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research in Canberra.

China started developing Beidou in the 1990s and will spend an estimated $8.98 billion to $10.6 billion on it by 2020, according to a 2017 analysis by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The system eventually will provide positioning accuracies of 1 meter (3 feet) or less with use of a ground support system.

Chinese space-tracking ship Yuanwang-3 monitor the launch of a rocket carrying a Beidou satellite in Oct. 2018. Photographer: Imaginechina

By comparison, GPS typically provides accuracies of less than 2.2 meters, which can be improved to a few centimeters with augmentation systems, the commission said.

“The Beidou system has become one of the great achievements in China’s 40 years of reform,’’ Xi said in a Nov. 5 letter to a United Nations committee on satellite navigation.

The system, named after the Chinese word for the Big Dipper star pattern, is at the core of an industry that will generate more than 400 billion yuan ($57 billion) of revenue in 2020, according to a forecast by the China Satellite Navigation Office.

Beidou Boom

China has increased the pace of satellite launches for its navigation system

Sources: China Satellite Navigation Office, International GNSS Service

*July satellite part of Phase-II

Beidou also has potential for export as part of China’s “Belt and Road’’ initiative to build political and economic ties through funding of infrastructure projects in other countries, the U.S.-China security commission said.

NavInfo Co., a maker of electronic maps that’s backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., wants to begin mass producing semiconductors for navigation systems using Beidou in 2020, said Wang Yan, a project director.

Employees prepare a NavInfo car for data collection in Beijing, June 2018.

Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

Beijing-based NavInfo, which supplies Tesla Inc. and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, expects annual demand of 15 million Beidou-linked chips for autonomous vehicles. In September, NavInfo started providing Beidou-enabled mapping and positioning services for the Singapore government.

“China needs to have its own satellite navigation system from a long-term, strategic perspective,’’ Wang said. “Beidou is the only option.’’

That carries potential implications for the balance of power between the nations, as Beidou’s deployment likely will fuel creation of a supply network for China’s People’s Liberation Army.

“The PLA will additionally have its own domestic ‘industrial chain’ on which to draw for secure components,” the U.S.-China commission said.

Qianxun Spatial Intelligence Inc., a Shanghai-based venture between e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and state-owned defense contractor China North Industries Group Corp., provides positioning services for cars, public safety and civil aviation using Beidou and other networks.

To help stay competitive against budding Chinese counterparts, foreign companies are including Beidou compatibility in their products. Qualcomm Inc., the biggest maker of chips used in smartphones, has been supporting Beidou “for a long time,” the San Diego-based company said. Those chip sets also are used in wearables and automobiles.

Most smartphones from global sales leader Samsung Electronics Co. support Beidou in addition to GPS, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said, as do handsets from local rivals Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp., according to state media. Huawei is the nation’s top-selling brand.

China also is the largest auto market, and the government wants all car-navigation systems to be Beidou-compatible within two years. Volkswagen AG -– the market leader in passenger car sales -- is changing the equipment in its vehicles to enable network access, the company said.

“At the moment, Volkswagen Group China does not sell cars with Beidou-enabled equipment, but the next infotainment system generation for cars in the Chinese market will be rolled out in 2020,’’ the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said. “This system will be ready to receive Beidou information.”

Toyota Motor Corp. is in discussions with companies about Beidou, the Japanese automaker said.

Comac C919 Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

In the sky, a regional jet developed by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, or COMAC, last year became the first plane to use Beidou.

Avionics-systems maker Rockwell Collins Inc., a supplier to Airbus, Boeing and COMAC, doesn’t offer products that can access the Chinese satellite network, the company said.

That may have to change. The Chinese government eventually will require airlines flying in the country to add Beidou equipment, Kaplan said.

“They will have to have the Chinese system on board,’’ he said, citing the government’s security concerns. “The Chinese will require airlines to have both systems.’’

— With assistance by Bruce Einhorn, Dong Lyu, Jie Ma, Sam Kim, and Ian King

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Politicising education hurts the Chinese

As Malaysia tackles a RM1 trillion national debt, it may be wise for Lim Guan Eng to focus on revitalising the economy than to whip up a confrontation with his own community over a RM30mil grant

WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community.

The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC. The fuming Chinese community is now taking up the issue as TAR UC, along with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), another institution of higher learning linked to MCA, has provided affordable education to many Chinese students over the past 50 years.

The removal of the matching grant to TAR UC – an annual amount given by the Barisan Nasional government to the university college previously to match the funds it raised – will negatively impact its continued survival.

Hence, emotive comments against Lim have been dominating the vernacular media since the grant issue emerged.

A petition against the Finance Ministry has also been launched.

Notably, though they are two non-profit institutions set up by MCA – TAR UC in 1969 and UTAR in 2001 – they are now seen as part and parcel of the Chinese community, which has been supporting their operation and expansion with billions in cash donations and land.

The late philanthropist of Penang, Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, told me in an interview in 1991 that he had contributed land and cash to TAR UC. Other Chinese tycoons, too, have privately shared such information with me.

Together with the matching grants from the government totalling RM1.353bil over the last 50 years, MCA was able to expand the reach of the university college, from Setapak to Penang, Sabah and Pahang.

In the last 17 years, MCA also built UTAR campuses in Sungai Long (Selangor) and Kampar (Perak).

In the five decades since TAR UC started, children from poor Chinese families and other ethnic groups, regardless of political leanings, have benefitted from the education offered by it due to its affordable fees.

In fact, TAR UC and UTAR are two of MCA’s best non-political projects which have contributed tremendously to the Chinese society, to compensate for its past failure to safeguard Chinese rights in the Umno-dominated Barisan regime.

Putting into historical context, TAR UC – which started as TAR College before being upgraded to university college status in 2013 – was a product of political compromise when non-­bumiputra student intake into the five public universities then was limited by the introduction of the bumiputra quota. The one-to-one matching grant enabled TAR UC to provide an avenue for higher education for those from the lower-income group as well as performing students denied entry into public universities by the quota system.

Hence on Sept 15, 1972, Datuk Hussein Onn, the then-Education Minister, handed over the Instrument of Government to the institution.

A 77ha plot in Setapak was allocated for the construction of TAR College’s main campus.

Later, UTAR was set up and officially launched on Aug 13, 2002, by then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad after higher education in the private sector was liberalised.

According to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, some 200,000 students have graduated from TAR UC/UTAR over the past 50 years.

Currently, the student population in the two institutions totals 28,000. Employees stand at 1,500 (60% Chinese, 40% non-Chinese).

These figures show that not just the Chinese have benefitted from the existence of UTAR and TAR UC but the Malays and Indians as well. Among the Pakatan Harapan leaders who were beneficiaries of the TAR affordable education are Cabinet ministers Teresa Kok, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as well as Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and exco member Chong Eng.

As these two institutions have become integral to the Chinese community, it is natural that vernacular newspapers are following closely the developments in this issue.

From the writing in the Chinese media, it can be seen that this issue is threatening to become a “Chinese community vs LGE/DAP” confrontation. This may not augur well for Lim.

While there are people who agree with Lim’s argument to separate education from politics, and that MCA must cut its links with these institutions, they form a miserable minority.

In a strongly worded comment piece “Play-killing UTAR”, Sin Chew Daily deputy editor-in-chief Tay Tian Yan points out that in speaking up on the grant issue, it is not meant to support MCA, but to show concern for the future generations of the Chinese community, particularly those from the poorer classes.

In response to Lim’s warning to MCA that the two institutions cannot raise tuition fees, Tay concludes: “UTAR will die an eventual death if it cannot raise fees and is not given a grant. What will be the future of our Chinese youth?”

Generally, Lim is seen as abusing his power to punish his political rivals and in the process undermine the interest of his very own community. Such political gimmicks should be stopped when dealing with taxpayers’ money, given that 80% of the country’s revenue is contributed by Chinese businesses and individuals in the form of taxes.

For many people, it is particularly repugnant when Lim threatened to “take action” against MCA if the institutions raise tuition fees.

In a China Press editorial yesterday, Lim was reminded that last year when he was Penang Chief Minister, he had said education allocations to schools should be given regardless of political backgrounds. And he acted fairly.

“But after LGE became Finance Minister, his statement last year on equality dissipated. Shouldn’t the former Penang CM give a big scolding to the current Finance Minister?” asks the writer mockingly.

The Pakatan government has also been reminded that 95% of Chinese voted them in to oust the previous administration in the May 9 general election. Their support should not be taken for granted and forgotten.

In short, TAR UC and UTAR should not be penalised just because of their parental link with MCA.

Looking at national development, these two institutions have nurtured much talent to serve the country, particularly in the field of accountancy.

File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
In fact, from my own observations, these institutions are more professionally run than many other private colleges and universities.

For this reason, and for their affordable fees, my husband and I sent our daughter to study in UTAR. She graduated last June.

As the country is confronted with a slowing economy and has to tackle a national debt of over RM1 trillion, it may be wiser for Lim to focus on revitalising the economy and other bigger national issues than to whip up a confrontation with his own community over a RM30mil grant.

By  Ho Wah Foon, The Star

Related post:

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ministers and leaders who benefited from UTAR UC & UTAR, removed matching grants to varsity

Varsity grads: Chew says he is disappointed with Lim for removing the matching grants when some leaders like (from left) Kok, Salahuddin and Saifuddin were products of the MCA-linked institutions.

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA has pointed out that several Pakatan Harapan leaders were beneficiaries of MCA-linked institutions of higher learning.

MCA central committee member Datuk Chew Kok Woh named ministers Teresa Kok, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as the beneficiaries.

He said even Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and state executive councillor Chong Eng were products of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, then known as KTAR, and now TAR UC.

Chew expressed disappointment that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had removed matching grants to TAR UC.

He said although TAR UC and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman were set up by MCA, they were never used for political reasons, saying all the graduates could verify TAR UC and UTAR were apolitical.

He said these institutions were professionally run, adding Lim’s decision spoke volumes about his “politics of vindictiveness”.

In fact, he said, the decision was a timely reminder that DAP had done nothing for education except to criticise.

“What has DAP done for Chinese education? Name us one,” he said in a statement.

He said DAP should not punish parents and students by depriving them of affordable education because of political reasons.

Chew feared that Lim’s action would lead to higher tuition fees at these institutions.

He said many parents, who could not afford private colleges and universities, depended on TAR UC and UTAR.

Chew said the two institutions had produced more than 180,000 graduates of high calibre since its inception in 1969, while UTAR has 56,000 graduates since 2005.

“We need to put aside politics to help Malaysians, especially those from the lower-income background,” he said.

Chew said TAR UC and UTAR graduates, including these Pakatan leaders, could vouch that these two institutions were not “MCA indoctrination centres”.

It was recently announced by Lim that the government would only allocate a RM5.5mil development fund for UTAR and TAR UC, instead of a RM30mil matching grant for TAR UC.

Lim insisted that both education institutes break off ties with MCA before the government provides more allocation for the two institutions.

In the Dewan Rakyat, Ayer Hitam MP and MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong debated with Lim, stating that the matching grants were vital to help ensure lower student fees for the two institutions.

On Facebook, Dr Wee expressed his disappointment in the Finance Minister’s reply, adding that TAR UC was wholly owned by the TARC Education Foundation and should not be seen as part of MCA’s assets, and that the university college also submitted audited accounts to the Education Ministry every year.

Dr Wee also told reporters in Parliament House that TAR UC might have to increase its fees to cover operational costs.

Founded in February 1969 as KTAR, the institute was upgraded to university college status in May 2013 and renamed TAR UC.- The Star

Related News

Politicising education hurts the Chinese

 WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community. The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC.

File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

ICERD: An universal pact against racial discrimination, to ratify or not to ratify no longer the question

Just look at the world today.:

MYANMAR, South Sudan, North Korea, Vanuatu... What do these countries have in common with Malaysia?

Yes, they all have not signed or ratified the United Nation’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Malaysia is currently one of 14 countries in the world that have not recognised or signed the UN treaty.

The other countries in this exclusive club include the Cook Islands, the federated states of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Niue and Tuvalu.

Out of 197 countries, 179 countries have ratified or acceded to the ICERD. Four countries – Angola, Bhutan, Nauru and Palau – have signed the ICERD but not ratified it.

The treaty was first mooted in the early 1960s in response to the growing racial discrimination and religious intolerance in the world.

In 1965, the ICERD was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly, with one abstention. The Convention came into force in 1969.

Malaysia and Brunei are the only Islamic-majority countries that have not signed ICERD. All 22 states of the Arab League, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Indonesia, among others, have signed and ratified the treaty.

However, many countries only agreed to be bound by ICERD with certain reservations.

Reservations to parts of ICERD are allowed as long as they are not “incompatible with the object and purpose” of the treaty. Even the US has made a reservation: it does not accept any part of the Convention that would oblige it to criminalise hate speech.

Many – including China, India and Thailand – do not accept a provision that allows national ICERD disputes to be referred to the International Court of Justice. Singapore, which only ratified ICERD in November 2017, reserves the right to apply its own policies on foreign workers, “with a view to promoting integration and maintaining cohesion within its racially diverse society”.

Most of the Islamic states that have ratified ICERD state that they will not recognise or establish relations with Israel.

Saudi Arabia is the sole Islamic state that has a reservation that it will only implement the ICERD provisions that do not conflict with the Islamic Syariah.

Tonga and Fiji reserve the right on indigenous citizens’ land. In fact, many countries that have ratified the ICERD have affirmative action policies to ensure marginalised and indigenous groups are given some privileges to help them move up the social and economic ladder.

This is clearly stated in the treaty: state parties are allowed, “when the circumstances so warrant”... to use “positive discrimination policies” for specific racial groups to guarantee “the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

And while the treaty obliges signatories to “pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms”, some have questioned its effectiveness in eliminating racism and hate crime.

To ratify or not to ratify no longer the question

But the ICERD remains a tempest in a political teapot, and so the discussion on the UN Convention must continue in Malaysia, a nation at the crossroads.

A NUMBER of individuals and groups denounced the proposal to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) on the ground that it will destroy Malay rights, weaken the position of Islam and erode the power of the Malay Rulers.

Most of the criticisms have no legal basis. However, as hate and fear are potent weapons in politics, the perpetrators have succeeded in polarising society and raising the spectre of violence. The Prime Minister has, therefore, strategically retracted the proposal to ratify.

The debate on this UN Convention will, however, continue and this necessitates a brief discussion of the Federal Constitution and the ICERD.


The Constitution in Articles 5-13 protects many human rights and these are available irrespective of race. Article 8(1) declares that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law. Article 8(2) states that except as expressly authorised, there shall be no discrimination on the ground of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender.

Many other Articles explicitly forbid racial discrimination. Among them are Article 12(1) relating to education and Article 136 regarding impartial treatment of federal employees.

Citizenship (Articles 14-22); the electoral process; membership of Parliament; and positions in the Cabinet, public services, judiciary and the constitutional commissions are all free of racial differentiation.

Permissible exceptions: To the general rule of racial equality, a number of exceptions are explicitly provided. Foremost are protection for the aborigines (Article 8), Malay Regiment (Article 8), Malay Reserves (Article 89) and special position of the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak (Article 153). These preferential provisions are not based on the idea of racial superiority or exclusiveness but on a mixture of historical realities and the impulses of affirmative action. Their primary purpose is to engineer society through the law and to ensure that those left behind in socioeconomic development are able to catch up with the others.

Article 153’s provisions have much in common with India’s special provisions for the Scheduled Castes. Like in India, Article 153 provisions are hedged in by clear limits. For example, Article 153’s quotas do not apply across the board but only in four areas: positions in the public service; scholarships and educational and training facilities; licences and permits; and post-secondary education.

It is also notable that Article 153 enjoins the King to safeguard the “legitimate interests of other communities”.

Likewise, Article 89(2) requires that where land is reserved for Malays, an equal area shall be made available for general alienation.


This piece of international law takes a strong stand against apartheid, segregation, discrimination and racial superiority. However, it recognises the need for affirmative action. It acknowledges the need to rectify historical injustices and to enrich formal equality with functional and substantive equality. Articles 1(4) and 2(2) of ICERD permit “special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups or individuals requiring such protection”.

This is quite in line with Articles 89 and 153 of Malaysia’s Constitution. However, the ICERD seeks to set limits on the duration for affirmative action. The measures “shall not be continued after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved”.

This has riled up the ICERD critics because Articles 153 and 89 contain no time limits. It is submitted that for all practical purposes the differences between Article 153 and ICERD are insignificant. ICERD opposes “eternity clauses” but imposes no time limit. Article 153 imposes no time limit but is capable of amendment subject to the special procedures of Articles 159(5) and 38(4) – two-thirds majority plus the consent of the Conference of Rulers and the Governors of Sabah and Sarawak.

ICERD in Article 20 allows nations to ratify it with reservations. For example, the United States adopted ICERD but objected to any provision in the Convention that breached the US Constitution. Malaysia can do the same and indeed has done so in a number of situations.

We adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 in section 4(4) of our Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 but subjected it to our Federal Constitution. We adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) but subjected it to our Constitution’s Article 8(5) which exempts personal laws from the Constitution’s gilt-edged provisions for gender equality.

ICERD and Islam

To bolster their opposition to the ICERD, its critics are claiming, amazingly, that ICERD will weaken the position of Islam. To give this claim any credibility requires a willing suspension of disbelief. The ICERD is against racial discrimination and does not address itself to official religions or secularism or theocracy. In any case, Islam promotes racial equality. The ICERD has been ratified by 179 nations, of which 48 are Muslim nations. Out of 50 Muslim countries, only Malaysia and Brunei are non-signatories.

ICERD and Malay Rulers

The ICERD is not anti-monarchial and in no way affects the honours and dignities of the 27 monarchies existing in the world today, six of whom are absolute monarchies.

International law is not law

Even if ratified by the executive, ICERD cannot displace Article 3 (Islam), Article 153 (special position of the Malays and natives) and Article 181 (prerogatives of Malay Rulers). This is due to the legal fact that our concept of “law” is defined narrowly in ArticIe 160(2) and does not include international law.

The constitutional position on the ICERD is, therefore, this: Even if the ICERD is ratified by the executive, it is not law unless incorporated into a parliamentary Act. Even if so legislated, it is subject to the supreme Constitution’s Articles 3, 153 and 181. Unless these Articles are amended by a special two-thirds majority and the consent of the Conference of Rulers and the Governors of Sabah and Sarawak, the existing constitutional provisions remain in operation.

The ICERD is not a law but only a pole star for action. Its ideals cannot invalidate national laws. The agitation against it is contrived for political purposes and perceptive Malaysians must not allow themselves to be exploited by politicians.

By Shad Saleem Faruqi

Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi is a holder of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair at Universiti Malaya.

Friday, November 23, 2018

South Korean Christian-based cult leaders pastor Lee jailed for raping followers

South Korean Pastor Lee Jaerock was convicted of the multiple rape of eight female followers — some of whom believed he was God. — AFP
  • Religious devotion is widespread in technologically advanced South Korea
  • South Korea has proven fertile ground for religious groups with strong, unambiguous ideologies that offered comfort and salvation

A South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers -- some of whom believed he was God -- and jailed for 15 years.

Pastor Lee Jaerock's victims were "unable to resist as they were subject to the accused's absolute religious authority", judge Chung Moon-sung told the Seoul Central District Court.

Religious devotion is widespread in technologically advanced South Korea, with 44 percent of people identifying themselves as believers.

Most belong to mainstream churches, which can accumulate wealth and influence with tens of thousands of followers donating as much as 10 percent of their income.

But fringe groups are also widespread -- experts say around 60 people in the country claim to be divine -- and some have been implicated in fraud, brainwashing, coercion, and other behaviour associated with cults worldwide.

Lee set up the Manmin Central Church in Guro, once a poor area of Seoul, with just 12 followers in 1982. It has now grown to 130,000 members, with a spotlight-filled auditorium, sprawling headquarters, and a website replete with claims of miracle cures.

But three of Lee's followers went public earlier this year, as South Korea was swept with a wave of #MeToo accusations, describing how he had summoned each of them to an apartment and raped them.
South Korean Pastor Lee Jae-rock arrives at the Seoul Central District Court to attend his trial on Thursday. | AFP-JIJI

"I was unable to turn him down," one of them told South Korean television.

"He was more than a king. He was God," added the woman, who had been a church member since childhood.

Lee told another that she was now in Heaven, and to strip as Adam and Eve went naked in the Garden of Eden. "I cried as I hated to do it," she told JTBC television.

Eight women laid criminal complaints, and the court found Lee raped and molested them "tens of times" over a long period.

"Through his sermons the accused has indirectly or directly suggested he is the holy spirit, deifying himself," the judge said.

The victims believed him to be "a divine being who wields divine power", he added.

Lee, who denied the charges, stood with his eyes closed as the judgement was read, showing no emotion, while around 100 followers filled the courtroom to overflowing, some of them sighing quietly.

The 75-year-old's lawyers had accused the women of lying to seek vengeance after being excommunicated for breaching church rules.

- Second Coming -

South Korea has proven fertile ground for religious groups with strong, unambiguous ideologies that offered comfort and salvation that appealed strongly during times of deep uncertainty.

More recent versions have claimed a unique knowledge of the path to material and spiritual prosperity -- a message that resonates in a highly competitive and status-focused society.

According to a 2015 government survey, 28 percent of South Koreans say they belong to Christian churches, with another 16 percent describing themselves as Buddhist.

But according to Park Hyung-tak, head of the Korea Christian Heresy Research Institute, around two million people are followers of cults.

"There are some 60 Christian-based cult leaders in this country who claim to be the second coming of Jesus Christ, or God Himself," he told AFP.


"Many cults point to megachurches mired in corruption and other scandals in order to highlight their own presumed purity and attract believers," he added.

On his own website, Lee says that God has "anointed me with His power" but the Manmin Central Church has been condemned as heretical by mainstream Christian organisations, partly because of its claims to miracle healing.

In one example on the church website, Barbara Vollath, a 49-year-old German, said he was born deaf but her bone cancer was cured and she gained hearing in both ears after Lee's daughter and heiress apparent Lee Soojin prayed for her with a handkerchief he had blessed.

South Korean cults can have deadly consequences: in 1987, 32 members of an apocalyptic group called Odaeyang, were found dead at their headquarters in an apparent murder-suicide pact, including its leader, who was under police investigation for embezzlement.

And they can influence the highest reaches of power.

Choi Soon-Sil, the woman at the centre of the corruption scandal that brought down her close friend president Park Geun-Hye, is the daughter of late religious leader Choi Tae-min.

The elder Choi became Park's spiritual mentor after establishing his own church, Yeongsegyo ("Spiritual Life"), combining tenets of Buddhism, Christianity and shamanism.
Source: AFP

On a mission from God: South Korea's many cults

The jailing of a South Korean religious leader on Thursday for the rape of multiple followers is the latest example of religious cults in the country.

The world's 11th-largest economy is technologically advanced but has a history of cult organisations and charismatic religious leaders, some of whom have amassed enormous wealth and influence.

Here are some groups that have previously attracted controversy or had brushes with the law. Pastor Lee Jaerock, a South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers. Here are other South Korean cult groups that have made headlines +4

 Pastor Lee Jaerock, a South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers. Here are other South Korean cult groups that have made headlines
Pastor Lee Jaerock, a South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers. Here are other South Korean cult groups that have made headlines

The World Mission Society Church of God predicted the end of the world would come on December 31, 1999.

However, being wrong has been no barrier to its fortunes, and an anti-cult group estimates that it has more than 200,000 followers, although it claims more than two million.

Its founder Ahn Sang-hong, who died in 1985, is worshipped as the Heavenly Father, who it says will come for the salvation of 144,000 souls -- the number appears in a biblical prophecy.

Ahn's wife Jang Gil-ja is regarded as the Heavenly Mother. Its aggressive evangelical activities in south east Asian countries sparked controversy.

Shincheonji, or the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, suggests that its founder Lee Man-hee has donned the mantle of Jesus Christ and will take 144,000 people with him to Heaven, body and soul, on the Day of Judgement.

But its adherents have long surpassed that number, and critics say they have to engage in endless loyalty competitions to earn credits to be included among the saved, sacrificing their everyday lives and leading to serious family disputes.

Shincheonji 'is the nation of God, created by Him to fulfil what is in heaven on this earth in today´s time', it says on its homepage, adding that Lee 'is creating God´s kingdom of heaven here on earth, exactly as he witnessed it in heaven'.

The female leader of a doomsday cult and three of her acolytes were arrested this year for allegedly holding some 400 followers captive in Fiji and subjecting them to violence and barbaric rituals.

Victims were hit hundreds of times in ceremonies known as 'threshing floors', defectors told South Korean media.

Shin Ok-ju, founder of the Grace Road Church, has gone on trial on charges of violence, child abuse, exploitation and incarceration, among others.

One of South the largest and best-known cults is Providence or Jesus Morning Star, also known by the acronym JMS -- which matches the initials of its founder Jung Myung Seok.

He set it up in 1980 as a breakaway from the Unification Church, also known as the Moonies.

Jung was released from prison earlier this year after serving a 10-year sentence for the rape and sexual assault of four female followers.

He told them to have sex with him to purge themselves of sin.

Guwonpa, or 'Salvation Sect', came to national attention when the Sewol ferry -- whose operating company was run by its leader Yoo Byung-eun and his family -- sank in 2014 with the loss of more than 300 lives, most of them children.

On the run from charges of corruption and negligence, Yoo's body was found in a field, so badly decomposed that authorities were unable to determine the precise cause of death.

In 1987, 32 members of an apocalyptic cult called Odaeyang, meaning 'five oceans', were found dead at their headquarters in the southern city of Yongin in an apparent murder-suicide pact.

Among them was the cult's leader Park Soon-Ja, who had been under pressure from her lenders over $17 million of debts and was under police investigation for embezzlement.

Police said Park's two sons and a cult official strangled her and 28 others before killing themselves.


Cult leader jailed over rapes - Asean Plus | The Star Online


South Korean cult leader jailed for raping followers | The Japan 



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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Road shoulder at Paya Terubong collapses after downpour terrifying motorists

The road shoulder along Jalan Paya Terubong that caved in after a downpour today
Another view of the collapsed section of the road connecting Air Itam and Relau.

Road users fear landslip that killed nine nearby may affect safety of route

GEORGE TOWN: The landslip along Jalan Paya Terubong near Majestic Heights apartments is causing worry among thousands of motorists using the route to work daily.

They are worried if the incident, which occurred after several hours of heavy rain, would pose a danger to them.

The motorists use this hillside road to get to Relau and Bayan Lepas from Ayer Itam and Paya Terubong.

The affected stretch goes past the Jalan Bukit Kukus highway construction site where a landslide on Oct 19 killed nine foreigners.

It is only a few hundred metres away from the tragic site.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the state authorities would not close the road as the soil erosion did not pose any danger to road users.

“All motorists and motorcyclists can still use the road safely without concern.

“The hillside area where the soil erosion occurred was already undergoing repairs prior to the incident.

“The contractor in charge will continue to oversee and restore the affected hillside area,” he said.

Zairil said apart from the restoration project, Tenaga Nasional Bhd was also carrying out rewiring works nearby.

“For the time being, the rewiring works have been halted and all power supply has been cut,” he said.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh advised Paya Terubong residents to avoid using the road if possible.

“Yes, we know how vital the road is especially for those who work in the Bayan Lepas factories,” he said.

Without this connection to Bayan Lepas, the residents of Paya Terubong and Ayer Itam will have to use Jalan Masjid Negeri to reach Bayan Lepas. This route takes longer and is time-consuming.

Jalan Masjid Negeri can see a bumper-to-bumper crawl during rush hour with motorists travelling from other parts of George Town to the island’s south.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Che Zaimani Che Awang said the police were keeping the road under close observation.

Meanwhile, police have finished their investigation on the Jalan Bukit Kukus landslide and the report will be referred to the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s office.

Penang police chief Comm Datuk Seri A. Thaiveegan said they submitted the report yesterday.

It was reported that police had recorded statements from almost 70 witnesses in its investigation on the landslide for criminal negligence.

Apart from the nine foreigners who were killed, four others also sustained injuries in the incident.- The Star


Residents fear closure of vital link - Nation

Road shoulder at Paya Terubong collapses after downpour ...


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