Asia Pacific Focus

New confrontation in Malaysia between Mahathir and Anwar amid political turmoil.
Asia Pacific Focus

New confrontation in Malaysia between Mahathir and Anwar amid political turmoil.

Mahathir Muhammad and Anwar Ibrahim, decades-old political rivals in Malaysia, submitted claims to lead the country on Wednesday after the unrest triggered by Mahathir’s sudden resignation. The conflict between Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, who formed a surprising alliance to win the 2018 elections, has shaped political life in Malaysia for more than two decades and is the focus of the country’s latest crisis.

As the interim prime minister, Mahathir, the world’s largest head of government, proposed the formation of a unified government without the allegiance of a political party at a time when Malaysia was suffering from economic downturn and the impact of the emerging corona virus.

“Politics and political parties must be set aside for the time being … I propose a government that is not loyal to any party, but rather prioritizes only the interests of the state,” Mahathir said in a televised message.
Anwar later said he opposed the formation of a “government in the shadows” and that three parties from the former ruling Pakatan coalition had proposed his name to the king for the post of prime minister. “We are awaiting the king’s decision,” he told a news conference.
In an effort to resolve the crisis, Sultan Abdullah meets all 222 elected members of Parliament over two days. Those who attended the meetings said they were asked to determine who they preferred as prime minister or whether they wanted new elections.
Anwar, the People’s Justice Party, has 39 seats in Parliament and coalition partners may give it another 62 votes. Some politicians expressed public support for Mahathir to remain in the position, but it was not clear if enough of them would support him.

The formation of a government that includes various party affiliations would give Mahathir more authority than he had during his tenure as prime minister from the first time in 1981 until he retired in 2003.

But the idea was rejected on Tuesday by a four-party alliance, including the United National Organization for Malay (UMNO), which ruled the country for 60 years until it was defeated by the Mahathir Alliance in 2018. The four parties said they had told the king that they wanted new elections to be held.

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Outside China, the world fights the novel coronavirus infection pandemic
Asia Pacific Focus

Outside China, the world fights the novel coronavirus infection pandemic

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization revealed that the number of new cases outside China exceeded in many new coronavirus infection cases. The number of cases in China was 412, while the count in the remainder of the world is 459.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday, “The sudden increase of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea is profoundly concerning.”

As the world attempted to stop the quick spreading infection outside China, where the epidemic began, nations around the globe are avoiding potential risk by scrubbing everything from cash to transports, army bases were on high alert, and quarantines were upheld.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease is spreading rapidly and has affected numerous countries around the globe.

Brazil affirms the emergence of Latin America’s first case. In Europe, where Spain, Germany, and France also reported, around 440 instances of developing coronavirus have been reported. In the Middle East, coronavirus has spread in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq, and South Korea is fighting a mass flare-up in 2.5 million populated city of Daegu. In the United States, 60 cases of coronavirus have been reported. The U.S. affirmed another instance of coronavirus disease in California that could be the prime example of the infection spreading in a U.S. community. The patient in California was not known to have traveled outside the country or be associated with an infected patient. India has three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state of Kerela. India is checking the new coronavirus flare-up at the highest level to forestall a pandemic by screening at different ports of passage and keeping a tab on 15,000 travelers who have come from abroad, says the Health Ministry of India.

WHO is working closely with international experts, governments to expand research on this novel virus rapidly, and to track the spread of the virus, and to give counsel to nations and people on measures to secure the wellbeing and forestall the new epidemic.

Article Credit: Associated Press/ BBC/WHO

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Australian intelligence chief warns about “unprecedented” foreign spy threat.
Asia Pacific Focus

Australian intelligence chief warns about “unprecedented” foreign spy threat.

One of the most prominent directors of Australian intelligence said that his country was at risk of espionage and foreign “unprecedented” interference, referring to the case of a client who he described as a “sleeper cell” who spent years building business relationships.

Mike Burgess, director of Australia’s Public Security Organization, said several countries were working hard to influence lawmakers, government officials, media figures, prominent business and academic figures.

“The level of threat we face from espionage and foreign interference is currently unprecedented,” Burgess said at the organization’s headquarters in Canberra on Monday evening, when announcing the organization’s annual risk assessment prepared by the organization.

Burgess did not mention the names of the countries which are interfering in his country, the United States’ ally, although analysts have said it is a veiled reference to China. “It makes sens to assume that China is the country in question,” said Rory Medcave, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University.

Reuters reported in September that Australian intelligence agencies had concluded that China was responsible for a cyber attack on the Australian parliament and on the three largest political parties months before the May 2019 general election.

China, Australia’s largest trading partner, has denied responsibility for the attack. Informed sources told Reuters in September that Australia had decided not to reveal the identity of the attackers to protect its trade ties with China.

“I don’t care about the country we are talking about, whether it is China, Russia or Iran, if people pose a threat to our country then we will deal with them according to the level of that threat,” Home Minister Peter Dutton said in Canberra on Tuesday when asked about China.

Burgess said that one of the reasons why Australia is targeted is its strategic position, alliances and leadership position in science and technology. He added that the sleeping cell from a country that he did not mention by name remained dormant, working for years to build work and social relations before he started providing information about foreign opponents. He said that this information was used to harass opponents in Australia and their families abroad.

He continued, saying that academics and scientists who were visiting the country were infiltrating universities in order to collect information while foreign spies entered the country in order to establish a sophisticated infiltration infrastructure.

Major Australian universities agreed last year to have more transparency in financial dealings with other countries and exchange Internet information with security services in an effort to curb foreign interference. Burgess said that the threat of local right-wing extremists has also increased.

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King of Malaysia accepts Mahathir’s resignation.
Asia Pacific Focus

King of Malaysia accepts Mahathir’s resignation.

On Monday, the King of Malaysia accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and asked him to continue his work until a new prime minister is chosen and a new government is formed. “His Royal Highness has given his approval to appoint Dr. Mahathir Muhammad as interim Prime Minister pending the appointment of a new Prime Minister,” Chief Secretary Mahd Zuki Ali said in a statement.

The resignation of Mahathir, leads to the dismantling of a coalition with his former rival Anwar Ibrahim, who had won a surprising victory in the 2018 elections. The resignation does not come within the framework of Mahathir’s promise before the elections that he would hand power to Anwar.

The decision, which Mahathir did not explain, comes in the wake of surprising talks at the weekend between the coalition and opposition groups about forming a new government. But Anwar and people close to Mahathir said he had resigned after accusations he was seeking some kind of partnership with opposition parties that he had defeated less than two years ago on the basis of an anti-corruption program.

“He saw that he should not be treated in this way by linking him to working with those who we think are totally corrupt,” Anwar told reporters after a meeting with Mahathir on Monday morning. “He made it very clear that he will not work in any way with those associated with the previous regime,” Anwar added.
But it was not clear whether this resignation represented the end of the road for Mahathir, as at least two parties from the ruling coalition invited him to remain as prime minister. Some opposition elements also agreed to support him.

“The way is open to him … If he thinks about returning as prime minister, he is free to choose his partners or who wants to participate in the government,” said Ibrahim Sufyan, director of the Merdeka Center for Measuring Public Opinion.

The Mahathir office said that he had submitted his resignation letter to the king of the country and was then seen arriving at the palace to meet the king. Three insiders said that Mahathir, who ended his retirement to run in the national elections in 2018, also resigned from the Persato party he had formed before the elections.

Sources said that there might be a confrontation between Anwar and an alliance between Mohieldin Yassin, head of the Persato party, and Azmin Ali, who was removed on Monday from the Anwar party.bUnder the Malaysian constitution, anyone who can achieve a majority in Parliament can demand the formation of a government. The king’s approval must be obtained before any prime minister takes the oath.

A person close to the Mahathir party said that if anyone did not achieve a simple majority in the 112-seat parliament, the option of holding new elections would be on the table. Anwar did not say in public statements on Monday whether he would ask to form a government. He said that he had met with the king to present his point of view and sought the advice of the king in order to achieve the best for the country. Another source said about the formation of the new government, “It seems that it is a matter of competition now … Who can achieve the majority?”

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How I ll Prepared Is America To Handle Coronavirus
Americas, Asia Pacific Focus

How I ll Prepared Is America To Handle Coronavirus

The coronavirus is now getting takers for a vaccine and the US has already committed a whooping figure in developing a cure. Vietnam healthy ministry has proudly declared that all the 16 people who was suffering from the virus have been cured.

While political analysts believe that America is very ill equipped under Trump’s leadership to handle an outbreak in America, the White House seems to have sent off an urgent request to lawmakers with a $2.5 billion plan to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The virus outbreak is rapidly spreading to Iran and Middle Eastern countries also and has started to threat the global economy that has now started to rock financial markets too.

The White House budget office has indicated that the funds are being kept away for vaccines, treatment, and protective equipment. The request could advance quickly through Congress and came as coronavirus fears were credited with Monday’s 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrials and are increasingly seen as a potential political threat to President Donald Trump.

Late in January, the World Health Organization has already declared the virus, named COVID-19, a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and urged an immediate international response. There are still suspicions that the virus could have been triggered through a biological weapon and may not have been bat induced at all.

Everyone is foxed about when did the virus make the jump from animals to humans, and from which species? How widespread are cases, how infectious is the disease and how fatal is it?

Back home, as Trump makes a political statement with his presence in India, the US stocks seemed to have dived amid growing concerns about a deadly virus spreading quickly across continents. The whole situation looks like a bubble about to burst when it comes to Trump’s tall claims and re-election bids while the country isn’t looking prepared to handle the pandemic like conditions. The president has been using a downplaying strategy reassuring public that ‘all is well’.

According to Russell Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, “for a president who has governed by tweet and circus a potential global health crisis that blunts economic growth could expose one of Trump’s main weaknesses as he prepares to face voters in November.”Trump has systematically crippled the emergency response system and medical backbone of the country. By ridding himself of experienced officials and those in the scientific community, he has literally chopped the legs off under him. The time is near when America might find itself extremely ill equipped to handle a catastrophe as declared by WHO.

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Section 144 imposed in North-East Delhi as violent clashes over CAA continue
Asia Pacific Focus

Section 144 imposed in North-East Delhi as violent clashes over CAA continue

On Tuesday, clashes in the North-East of Delhi, bringing about the death of seven civilians, include one head constable, who worked at Gokulpuri, East-Delhi Police.

On Sunday evening, the situation turned violent after protesters assembled against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). They blocked streets in the North-East Delhi, and confrontations began between the pro-CAA and anti-CAA crowd. The clashes affected North-East Delhi areas, for example, Chand Bagh, Jafrabad, Maujpur, Kardampuri, Bhajanpura, Gokulpuri, Karawal Nagar and Khajuri.

On Tuesday, In Brahampuri and Maujpur areas, stone-pelting continued, according to Delhi Police sources cited ANI news agency.

On Monday, the angry crowd set fire to a tyre market in East Delhi’s Gokulpuri area, which was reported around 8:30 pm. According to reports, a head constable working at the office of ACP Gokulpur died because of a head injury while he was on duty, attempting to control the agitated crowd. An urgent meeting was held after that by the Commissioner of Delhi and the Seelampur DCP office on Monday night.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed at a press conference today morning, following the series of violence conflicts in the National Capital continued. He appealed, “the people of Delhi to maintain harmony and abstain from indulging in violence.” “All circumstances can be managed via talks. All hospital authorities have been asked to give their best treatment to the injured. For safety, we have to seal the borders to prevent outsiders from entering Delhi”, he included.

Implementing prohibitory orders under Section 144 is placed for a month in North-East Delhi; the law restricts more than four people to assemble in an area.

Today at noon, Home Minister had called for an urgent meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, LG Anil Baijal, and other party representatives, who are currently discussing the situation in Delhi.

Article Credit: The Times Of India/India Today

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First official visit in India for US president Donald Trump
Americas, Asia Pacific Focus

First official visit in India for US president Donald Trump

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, arrived in India on Monday morning for his first official visit to the country and was greeted by a large crowd.

The U.S. President’s plane landed at Ahmedabad International Airport in western India, where he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A busy schedule of appointments for Trump: is expected in Agra to visit the Taj Mahal in the absence of the sun, before going to New Delhi, where he will hold bilateral meetings between American and Indian officials on Tuesday.

This visit will be an opportunity to review the relations between the American President and the Indian Prime Minister, while highlighting the personal compatibility between them in light of the tension between the two countries following the protectionist policies adopted by both.

“We are not getting good treatment from India, but it is fortunate that I greatly appreciate Prime Minister Modi,” Trump said this week before his visit to India. “We are ready to come to India, we are on our way, we will be meeting everyone in a few hours,” he tweeted this morning in the Hindi language before he landed. Modi tweeted in response: “The guest is God”.

According to Al-Arabiya quoting Indian officials, India and the United States have built close political and security ties and Trump’s two-day trip is a sign of their converging interests, including a way to counter China’s rise as a superpower.

During his two-day visit, accompanied by the First Lady Melania, Trump and Modi will participate in a rally in Ahmedabad on Monday with over one hundred thousand people in the largest cricket stadium in the world which will be inaugurated on this occasion.

Modi called this meeting “Namaste Trump”, a greeting to Trump in local dialect, in response to a similar festival held by the American president in Houston, Texas, last September under the slogan “Hoody Modi”. People were carrying Indian flags, many roads were blocked off in Ahmedabad, shops shut and police stationed on rooftops and balconies. School children boarded buses bound for the stadium shouting “We love Trump.”

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Tokyo Unhappy With London Indication To Host Olympics 2020
Asia Pacific Focus

Tokyo Unhappy With London Indication To Host Olympics 2020

The coronavirus outbreak might be giving Olympic organizers second thoughts about Tokyo as the venue. This has indeed left the governor of Tokyo feeling upset that he made a public statement stating that it was inappropriate for candidates in London’s mayoral election to push for their city as venue instead.

It seems that talks are doing rounds that London could be considered a more appropriate host for the 2020 Olympic Games if the coronavirus outbreak could not be contained.

This thought has been floated by Shaun Bailey, a Conservative candidate for mayor of the British capital. Further, the International Olympic Committee has already received a note from the World Health Organization that says that there was no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games from Tokyo.

On the other side of the globe, Australian Olympic boss John Coates has already reassured athletes and spectators that they will be safe to attend the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus outbreak in neighbouring China.

There is no news of any players pulling out from the Olympics in the wake of the outbreak. However, confirmed reports claim that the virus has already hit a number of international sports events within China. It has led to either cancelation or postponement. These include events like Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai and indoor world track and field championships in Nanjing and rescheduling of women’s Olympic football qualifiers from disease epicentre Wuhan to Sydney.

The coronavirus situation of 2020 does resembles the 2016 Rio Olympics when the IOC relied on WHO guidance about the dangers of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. At that time, many high profile sportsmen had withdrawn participation. This included Australian golfers Jason Day and Marc Leishman. But, up to this point, Coates has no knowledge of coronavirus scaring Australian athletes away from the Tokyo Games.

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India Shifts To Indonesia To Meet Palm Oil Needs
Asia Pacific Focus

India Shifts To Indonesia To Meet Palm Oil Needs

Moving away from Malaysia, India has now issued, issued import licenses for 1.1 million tonnes of refined palm olein from Indonesia. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is said to have has issued these licenses after various applications came in from worried traders.

India is the largest importer of palm oil in the world and till January, had been doing business primarily with Malaysia. However, post a rather hurtful statement made by the PM of Malaysia, India decided to withhold its trade on palm and had been looking for alternate markets.

In the second week of January New Delhi had privately urged palm oil importers to boycott Malaysian products. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad had openly criticised India’s actions in Kashmir and its new citizenship law at the United Nations General Meeting.
New Delhi has now allowed trade with Indonesia only; and there is no way out for the importers as in their application, they are required to mention “country of origin”.

Strangely, the Indian government had earlier put the refined palm oil and palmolein on the list of restricted items. Sources claim that sourcing large amounts may defeat the purpose of proving that we can meet our demand through domestic production itself.

Palm oil makes up nearly two-thirds of India’s total imports of edible oil. It buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, which are the world’s top and second biggest producer of the commodity respectively.

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India urged Turkey not to interfere in its  internal affairs
Asia Pacific Focus, Europe

India urged Turkey not to interfere in its internal affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India calls on the Turkish leadership not to interfere in the internal affairs of India and rejects all references made by the Turkish side to the situation in the Indian part of Kashmir. This is stated in the commentary by the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India, Ravish Kumar, posted on Saturday on the Ministry website.
“India rejects all references to Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral and integral part of India. We urge the Turkish leadership not to interfere in the internal affairs of India and correctly evaluate the facts, including the serious terrorism threat coming from Pakistan for India and the region,” in a statement.
The commentary of the representative of the Indian Foreign Ministry followed after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, while on a visit to Pakistan, promised last Friday to continue supporting Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir’s territorial affiliation. Follow us for more Latest Asia Pacific News.

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