7 The Most-Visited Cities of the Decade

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 The Most-Visited Cities of the Decade

We live in a great era for travel, equipped with phones that can guide us through far away countries and abundant, affordable airfare. As our world changes, the planet’s big cities get even more exciting and accessible, becoming better vacation destinations every year. Here are the seven most visited cities of the last decade.

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7. New York City, United States

Aerial view of New York City metropolis showing skyscrapers and density, New York, USA
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The Big Apple is the most-visited city in America and in the entire Western Hemisphere. A haven for culture, art, fashion, and food, New York City is a destination for travelers from around the world and from within the United States.

A visit to New York could include a wide variety of activities, from visiting world-famous art galleries such as the MOMA and the Guggenheim to a stroll through Central Park or around Times Square. Nicknamed “the city that never sleeps,” New York offers a different adventure to everyone.

6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Aerial view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia city skyline
Credit: ESB Professional/ Shutterstock 

The capital of Malaysia is the first of many Asian cities in the top seven most-visited cities of the decade. Despite being the sixth-most-visited city in the world, Kuala Lumpur is still considered something of a hidden gem for vacationers.

In Kuala Lumpur you can visit architectural wonders such as the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, or take in a panoramic view of the city from the top of the Menara Kuala Lumpur. You can also see wildlife up close at the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve or the Aquaria KLCC.

5. Singapore

Aerial view of skyscrapers in Singapore
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Considered one of the safest destinations for tourists in Asia, the island city-state of Singapore is the fifth-most-visited city in the world. Singapore is a very wealthy city, and you can see it in the impressive public works projects that are reinventing this center of futurism. Take a stroll through Gardens by the Bay to see some of the most beautiful arrangements of natural fauna, lights, and architecture that can be found anywhere in the world.

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Aerial view of Dubai Palm Jumeirah island with skyscrapers and blue waters
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Another modern city with iconic buildings and one that has seen many public improvements completed over the last 10 years, Dubai is the world’s fourth-most-visited city.

In Dubai you can find some of the wonders of the architectural world, such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It is also home to some of the best theme parks, with attractions featuring Disney and Marvel characters. Currently under construction is what will be the largest water park in the world when it opens in 2020.

3. London, United Kingdom

Aerial cityscape view of London and the River Thames
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In constant competition for the number-two spot of most visited places for a given time period are London and Paris. And while London received a boost from hosting the Olympics early in the decade, Paris managed to surpass it in the end, making London the third-most-visited city of the decade.

As a center of western civilization, London has tons of things to take in on a visit. You can see some of the most iconic structures in the world, such as the Big Ben clock tower or the Tower Bridge. You can also explore history at the British Museum, which has one of the best collections of ancient artifacts in the world.

2. Paris, France

Aerial view of Paris at sunset with Eiffel Tower in the center
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As one of the most prized vacation destinations on the planet, Paris secures the number two spot on the list of most-visited cities in the last 10 years.

World famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, which holds some of the most important art ever created, draws millions of visitors to the French capital every year. In addition to a world-renowned culinary scene and vibrant nightlife, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the City of Lights.

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok city at sunset, over looking Taksin Bridge
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The most-visited city of the 2010s is Bangkok. The capital of Thailand draws almost 2 million more visitors per year than Paris, receiving a boon from the large number of Chinese travelers who flock to it.

The city has many opulent shrines and ancient temples that you can explore. It also has a vibrant nightlife and is the entry point for the dense Thai jungle, a popular vacation destination.

The Tastiest Asian Dishes You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Tastiest Asian Dishes You’ve Never Heard Of

Everyone loves some good Chinese takeout on the right occasion, but there’s a whole lot more out there than Kung Pao chicken and beef-and-broccoli. Depending on where you travel in Asia, people eat just about everything that moves, and a big part of the secret is that they learned how to make it delicious. Without dabbling too far into the bizarre, there are a handful of absolutely decadent dishes within Asian cuisine across the continent that you’d do yourself a disservice not to try.

Nasi Lemak – Malaysia

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Nasi Lemak is the national dish of Malaysia. The literal translation of its name is “oily rice,” but “creamy” makes for a more accurate (and appetizing) contextual translation. The preparation of the dish starts with soaking rice in coconut cream before it’s steamed with pandan leaves. The fragrant rice is served wrapped in banana leaves with garnish of cucumber slices, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, and fried egg. This is a popular breakfast food.

Kare-Kare – Philippines

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This Philippine stew derives its name from the word “curry,” but it’s nothing like anything you’ve had at an Indian or Thai restaurant. The broth is made from stewed oxtail, beef, and tripe, though it can sometimes be made with seafood, vegetables, or offal. The broth is mixed with savory peanut sauce to make a thick and complex flavor profile.

Char Kway Teow – Malaysia

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If you don’t know about Asian pork buns, then you need to find your nearest dim sum restaurant as soon as possible—but this lesser-known Malaysian street food is just as delicious, though not quite as portable. The name translates to “stir-fried rice cake strips,” which is a somewhat straightforward description. The noodles are browned with soy sauce and served with meat, fish cake, egg, and sausage to create a stir-fried street-food delight.

Amok Trey – Cambodia

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To celebrate the Water Festival in Cambodia, the locals serve their traditional dish, Amok trey—a light and colorful dish. The preparation involves coating a fish with thick coconut milk and freshly ground spices known as kroeung, though many dishes offer variants served with chicken, beef, and other alternatives. It’s then steamed in banana leaves to form a thick curry that features noni leaves and fingerroot.

Gamjatang – Korea

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This spicy Korean soup uses a broth made from pork neck bones with red hot peppers. The high heat of the broth-making softens the meat to its ideal tenderness. Potatoes, cellophane noodles, radish greens, green onions, and perilla leaves are added to the soup to make a savory-spicy treat. Though it used to be nearly impossible to find the soup outside of Korea, these days it’s featured prominently in Korean restaurants in the United States and abroad.

Babi Guling – Indonesia

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There’s a hint of irony to be found in that one of the most delicious pork dishes has its origins in a Muslim-majority nation, but the Balinese know how to cook a pig. The slow-roasted pork is seasoned with ginger, galangal, turmeric, chilies, and shrimp paste to make a sweet, spicy, and savory profile that compliment the tender-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside porcine.

Rendang – Indonesia & Malaysia

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This food of the Minangkabau culture sits on the fence as to its status as a curry, but its classification has no bearing on its flavor. There’s a whole laundry list of ingredients that goes into rendang, including ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chili’s, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and lime leaves among others. The ingredients are slow-cooked until all the liquid is gone and the meat is well-done, which makes for hefty absorption of the intense flavors.

4 Islands Where No Cars Are Allowed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Islands Where No Cars Are Allowed

4

Islands Where No Cars Are Allowed

Cars have helped civilization in countless ways, but it can be hard to disconnect from the modern world with their constant presence pulling you back to reality. Take a trip to one of these car-free islands and let yourself drift away to simpler times.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan

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Mackinac (pronounced MACK-in-awe) Island in Lake Huron is a tourist destination that has not changed much over the years. Carriage operators worked together to ban the presence of automobiles in 1898, and to this day the only way to get around the island is to take a horse-drawn carriage, bike or walk. Horses on the island almost outnumber the year-round residents, with more than 500 horses available for tourist transportation in the summer months and only 600 humans as permanent residents.

Mackinac Island has a long history, having first been inhabited by Native Americans. It was later inhabited by the French and then the British, and Fort Mackinac was a central pawn in the Revolutionary War. Though it’s been a tourist town ever since, the island’s varied (and somewhat dark) history has led it to being called one of the most haunted places in Michigan.

Rottnest Island, Australia

Rottnest Island, Australia

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Affectionately called Rotto by the locals, Rottnest Island in Australia is a perfect, serene getaway location. With no cars and a whopping 63 beautiful beaches, you would be hard-pressed not to relax. Rottnest Island is also home to the happiest animal on earth — the adorable, ever-smiling quokka. While it’s illegal to touch or feed the little guys, they are more than happy to smile with you for a photo.

Though it only has around 100 permanent residents, Rottnest Island certainly is not lacking for tourists. It’s recommended to make reservations well in advance to guarantee yourself a place to stay, though it’s also a very popular location for camping and backpacking. Visitors arrive by ferry and can rent a bike or take the bus once on the island. Watersports and diving are incredibly popular, and Rotto is also an excellent location to view migrating humpback and southern white whales.

Hydra Island, Greece

Hydra Island, Greece

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Hydra (pronounced EE-drah) Island off the coast of Athens is an amazing way to experience the beauty of Greece without the bustle of the city. Visitors to this car-free island can walk its streets or opt instead for a donkey ride through the quaint village streets. While only 19 square miles, the island has a surprising number of museums, which were converted from old mansions owned by the rich and famous. Speaking of famous — the late Leonard Cohen was just one of many celebrities to use Hydra as a retreat.

The lack of motorized wheels on the island has kept Hydra from overdeveloping, thereby preserving its cozy, authentic feel.

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Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

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The word Perhentian means “stopping point” in Bahasa Malaysia, and that’s exactly what these islands are. The two main islands, Besar (meaning “big”) and Kecil (meaning “small”), are connected by a short jungle trail but could not be more different. Besar has beautiful beaches, but its inland is a mass of rocks and trees. As a result, this bigger island is more resort-focused. Kecil has two distinct sides. There’s the quiet side, which can be found at Coral Bay, and the party side of Long Beach.

Because these islands are only accessible by boat, they practically close down during the summer months when the waters become too dangerous to bring people or supplies. The Perhentians are a much more remote location than most Western travelers are used to, which means you can’t expect to have reliable access to power or credit card services while you’re there. But if you’re looking to take a break from more than just the sound of cars, the Perhentian Islands are the perfect place to switch off your devices, disconnect from the outside world and enjoy snorkeling with the turtles instead.

Interpol takes up India’s red notice on fugitive Zakir Naik

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Interpol takes up India’s red notice on fugitive Zakir Naik

Red notices are requests issued to Interpol’s 194 member states worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence.

INDIA Updated: Apr 24, 2019 07:19 IST

Neeraj Chauhan
Neeraj Chauhan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Interpol,India news,Zakir Naik
Zakir Naik(HT file photo)

A high-powered panel of global law enforcement organisation Interpol last week took up India’s request for issuing a so-called red notice against fugitive Indian Islamic preacher, Dr Zakir Naik, 54, according to two Indian officials aware of the development who asked not to be named.

Red notices are requests issued to Interpol’s 194 member states worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence.

Naik is wanted in India for money laundering and hate speech and also for allegedly promoting enmity and hatred between different religious communities.

He fled India after the terrorists, who attacked a Dhaka cafe and killed 22 people in July 2016, said they were Naik’s admirers.

The Interpol panel took up India’s request as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been trying have Naik declared as an international fugitive.

The preacher lives in Malaysia, where he has permanent residency. An Indian request for his extradition is pending with the Malaysian government since January 2018. In July 2018, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Naik would not be deported as long as he was not creating problems in Malaysia.

According to one of the officials, the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) met on April 19 to discuss India’s request.

CCF is a five-member independent body that ensures requests from Interpol member states seeking red notices conform to the rules.

NIA has been arguing before the global law enforcement organisation that Naik was spreading hatred through his speeches, funding terrorists and laundering money over the years, according to the officials.

The Interpol cancelled a red notice against Naik in December 2017 as he was yet to be charged in India then.

Naik, too, approached the Interpol in 2017 claiming he was being targeted. He linked the cases against him to the alleged religious persecution of minorities in India.

NIA contested Naik’s claim in 2018 saying they have “solid evidence” against Naik.

NIA filed a charge sheet against Naik in October 2017 and submitted a copy of it to Interpol as well. “After we submitted a detailed charge sheet and other evidence establishing his crimes including religious conversions, inciting Muslim youth to join Jihad and routing massive funds, Interpol referred the red notice request to the CCF,’’ the second NIA official said.

The official added the panel met last week but that India is yet to be updated about its final decision. “We are positive that the CCF will recommend a global arrest warrant against Naik, which will restrict his movements.”

He added the panel will take a final call in a couple of days. The official said NIA wanted to be a part of the CCF meeting to convince its members regarding its case but did not get the requisite permission to do this.

Retired CBI officer NS Kharayat, who headed Interpol’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in India (CBI is the nodal agency for Interpol in India), told HT, “The CCF basically discusses the legal aspects of a red notice request. If they find any religious or political motive behind any request, they don’t issue the global notice. However, in the cases of terrorism, where a person has done an act of waging war against a sovereign nation, the CCF should immediately issue the red notice”.

In its charge sheet , NIA has accused Naik of deliberately insulting religious beliefs of the Hindus, Christians and Islamic sects like the Shias, and Barelvis. It said Naik’s speeches have influenced recruits to join the so-called Islamic State (IS), which overran swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and carried out attacks across the world. Iraq and Syria declared victories over the IS in 2018 and 2019.

The government has attached Naik’s properties since he fled India. His Islamic Research Foundation has been banned and some of his associates have been arrested.

Attempts to reach Naik for comment were unsuccessful.

In a speech in Malaysia’s Kangar in December, Naik insisted he had never broken any Indian law. “But because I was spreading peace, I was giving a solution for humanity, all the people who do not like peace to prevail, they do not like me,” news agency Reuters quoted him as saying. He claimed he was being targeted because of his work to spread Islam.

Interpol publishes red notices at the request of a member country. They must comply with Interpol’s Constitution and rules. A red notice is an international wanted person notice, but not an arrest warrant, and Interpol cannot compel any country to arrest someone, according to the Interpol website. In 2018, Interpol issued 13,516 red notices.

First Published: Apr 24, 2019 07:19 IST

Malaysia: Truth, Knowledge And History Of This South-East Asia Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Malaysia

Introduction During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation. The first several years of the country’s history were marred by a Communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore’s secession from the Federation in 1965. During the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on exports of raw materials, to expansion in manufacturing, services, and tourism.
History Prehistory

Archaeological remains have been found throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. The Semang have a deep ancestry within the Malay Peninsula, dating to the initial settlement from Africa over 50,000 years ago. The Senoi appear to be a composite group, with approximately half of the maternal lineages tracing back to the ancestors of the Semang and about half to Indochina. This is in agreement with the suggestion that they represent the descendants of early Austronesian speaking agriculturalists, who brought both their language and their technology to the southern part of the peninsula approximately 4,000 years ago and coalesced with the indigenous population. The Aboriginal Malays are more diverse, and although they show some connections with island Southeast Asia, some also have an ancestry in Indochina around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, followed by an early-Holocene dispersal through the Malay Peninsula into island Southeast Asia.

Early history

Ptolemy showed the Malay Peninsula on his early map with a label that translates as “Golden Chersonese”, the Straits of Malacca were referred to as “Sinus Sabaricus”.[citation needed] From the mid to the late first millennium, much of the Peninsula as well as the Malay Archipelago were under the influence of Srivijaya.

There were numerous Malay kingdoms in the 2nd and 3rd century CE—as many as 30 according to Chinese sources. Kedah—known as Kedaram, Cheh-Cha (according to I-Ching) or Kataha, in ancient Pallava or Sanskrit—was in the direct route of invasions of Indian traders and kings. Rajendra Chola, Tamil Emperor who is now thought to have laid Kota Gelanggi to waste, put Kedah to heel in 1025 but his successor, Vir Rajendra Chola, had to put down a Kedah rebellion to overthrow the invaders. The coming of the Chola reduced the majesty of Srivijaya which had exerted influence over Kedah and Pattani and even as far as Ligor.

The Buddhist kingdom of Ligor took control of Kedah shortly after, and its King Chandrabhanu used it as a base to attack Sri Lanka in the 11th century, an event noted in a stone inscription in Nagapattinum in Tamil Nadu and in the Sri Lankan chronicles, Mahavamsa. During the first millennium, the people of the Malay peninsula adopted Hinduism and Buddhism and the use of the Sanskrit language until they eventually converted to Islam.

A Famosa in Malacca. It was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century.

There are reports of other areas older than Kedah—the ancient kingdom of Gangga Negara, around Beruas in Perak, for instance, pushes Malaysian history even further into antiquity. If that is not enough, a Tamil poem, Pattinapillai, of the second century CE, describes goods from Kadaram heaped in the broad streets of the Chola capital. A seventh century Sanskrit drama, Kaumudhimahotsva, refers to Kedah as Kataha-nagari. The Agnipurana also mentions a territory known as Anda-Kataha with one of its boundaries delineated by a peak, which scholars believe is Gunung Jerai. Stories from the Katasaritasagaram describe the elegance of life in Kataha.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur houses the High Court of Malaya and the Trade Court. Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the Federated Malay States and is the current Malaysian capital.

In the early 15th century, the Malacca Sultanate was established under a dynasty founded by Parameswara or Sultan Iskandar Shah, a prince from Palembang with bloodline related to the royal house of Srivijaya, who fled from Temasek (now Singapore). Parameswara decided to establish his kingdom in Malacca after witnessing an astonishing incident where a white mouse deer kicked one of his hunting dogs into a nearby river. He took this show of bravery by the mouse deer as a good sign and named his kingdom “Melaka” after the tree under which he was resting at the time. At its height, the sultanate controlled the areas which are now Peninsula Malaysia, southern Thailand (Patani), and the eastern coast of Sumatra. It existed for more than a century, and within that time period Islam spread to most of the Malay Archipelago. Malacca was the foremost trading port at the time in Southeast Asia.

The first evidence of Islam in the Malay peninsula dates from the 14th century in Terengganu, but according to the Kedah Annals, the 9th sultan of Kedah, Maharaja Derbar Raja, converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Muzaffar Shah. In 1511, Malacca was conquered by Portugal, which established a colony there. The sons of the last Sultan of Malacca established two sultanates elsewhere in the peninsula—the Sultanate of Perak to the north, and the Sultanate of Johor (originally a continuation of the old Malacca sultanate) to the south. After the fall of Malacca, three nations struggled for the control of Malacca Strait: the Portuguese (in Malacca), the Sultanate of Johor, and the Sultanate of Aceh. This conflict went on until 1641, when the Dutch (allied to the Sultanate of Johor) gained control of Malacca.

British arrival

Britain established its first colony in the Malay peninsula in 1786, with the lease of the island of Penang to the British East India Company by the Sultan of Kedah. In 1824, the British took control of Malacca following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 which divided the Malay Archipelago between Britain and the Netherlands, with Malaya in the British zone. In 1826, Britain established the crown colony of the Straits Settlements, uniting its three possessions in Malaya: Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Straits Settlements were administered under the East India Company in Kolkata until 1867, when they were transferred to the Colonial Office in London.

During the late 19th century, many Malay states decided to obtain British help in settling their internal conflicts. The commercial importance of tin mining in the Malay states to merchants in the Straits Settlements led to British government intervention in the tin-producing states in the Malay Peninsula. British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution to civil disturbances caused by Chinese gangsters and Malay gangsters, and the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for the expansion of British influence in Malaya. By the turn of the 20th century, the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States (not to be confused with the Federation of Malaya), were under the de facto control of British Residents appointed to advise the Malay rulers. The British were “advisers” in name, but in reality they exercised substantial influence over the Malay rulers.

The remaining five states in the peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States, while not directly under rule from London, also accepted British advisers around the turn of the 20th century. Of these, the four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu had previously been under Siamese control. The other unfederated state, Johor, was the only state which managed to preserve its independence throughout most of the 19th century. Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor and Queen Victoria were personal acquaintances, and recognised each other as equals. It was not until 1914 that Sultan Abu Bakar’s successor, Sultan Ibrahim accepted a British advisor.

On the island of Borneo, Sabah was governed as the crown colony of British North Borneo, while Sarawak was acquired from Brunei as the personal kingdom of the Brooke family, who ruled as White Rajahs.

Following the Japanese Invasion of Malaya its occupation during World War II, popular support for independence grew.[27] Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union foundered on strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the emasculation of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese.[28] The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in Malaya with the exception of Singapore, was dissolved in 1948 and replaced by the Federation of Malaya, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.

During this time, rebels under the leadership of the Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency, as it was known, lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya. Although the insurgency quickly stopped there was still a presence of Commonwealth troops, with the backdrop of the Cold War.[29] Against this backdrop, independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was granted on 31 August 1957.

Post independence

In 1963, Malaya along with the then-British crown colonies of Sabah (British North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore, formed Malaysia. The Sultanate of Brunei, though initially expressing interest in joining the Federation, withdrew from the planned merger due to opposition from certain segments of its population as well as arguments over the payment of oil royalties and the status of the Sultan in the planned merger.

The early years of independence were marred by conflict with Indonesia (Konfrontasi) over the formation of Malaysia, Singapore’s eventual exit in 1965, and racial strife in the form of racial riots in 1969.[32][8] The Philippines also made an active claim on Sabah in that period based upon the Sultanate of Brunei’s cession of its north-east territories to the Sulu Sultanate in 1704. The claim is still ongoing.[33] After the May 13 racial riots of 1969, the controversial New Economic Policy—intended to increase proportionately the share of the economic pie of the bumiputras (“indigenous people”, which includes the majority Malays, but not always the indigenous population) as compared to other ethnic groups—was launched by Prime Minister Abdul Razak. Malaysia has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, with a system of government that has attempted to combine overall economic development with political and economic policies that promote equitable participation of all races.

Between the 1980s and the mid 1990s, Malaysia experienced significant economic growth under the premiership of Mahathir bin Mohamad.[35] The period saw a shift from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and industry in areas such as computers and consumer electronics. It was during this period, too, that the physical landscape of Malaysia has changed with the emergence of numerous mega-projects. The most notable of these projects are the Petronas Twin Towers (at the time the tallest building in the world), KL International Airport (KLIA), North-South Expressway, the Sepang F1 Circuit, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), the Bakun hydroelectric dam and Putrajaya, a new federal administrative capital.

In the late 1990s, Malaysia was shaken by the Asian financial crisis as well as political unrest caused by the sacking of the deputy prime minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim.[36] In 2003, Dr Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, retired in favour of his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. On November 2007 Malaysia was rocked by two anti-government rallies. The 2007 Bersih Rally numbering 40,000 strong was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 10 campaigning for electoral reform. It was precipitated by allegations of corruption and discrepancies in the Malaysian election system that heavily favor the ruling political party, Barisan Nasional, which has been in power since Malaysia achieved its independence in 1957.[37] The 2007 HINDRAF rally was held in Kuala Lumpur on November 25. The rally organizer, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays. The crowd was estimated to be between 5,000 to 30,000. In both cases the government and police were heavy handed and tried to prevent the gatherings from taking place.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates: 2 30 N, 112 30 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 329,750 sq km
land: 328,550 sq km
water: 1,200 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico
Land boundaries: total: 2,669 km
border countries: Brunei 381 km, Indonesia 1,782 km, Thailand 506 km
Coastline: 4,675 km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia 2,607 km)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea
Climate: tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
Terrain: coastal plains rising to hills and mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunung Kinabalu 4,100 m
Natural resources: tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
Land use: arable land: 5.46%
permanent crops: 17.54%
other: 77% (2005)
Irrigated land: 3,650 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 580 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 9.02 cu km/yr (17%/21%/62%)
per capita: 356 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: flooding, landslides, forest fires
Environment – current issues: air pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation; smoke/haze from Indonesian forest fires
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Geography – note: strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea
Politics Malaysia is a federal constitutional elective monarchy. The federal head of state of Malaysia is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commonly referred to as the King of Malaysia. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected to a five-year term among the nine hereditary Sultans of the Malay states; the other four states, which have titular Governors, do not participate in the selection.

The system of government in Malaysia is closely modeled on that of Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule. In practice however, more power is vested in the executive branch of government than in the legislative, and the judiciary has been weakened by sustained attacks by the government during the Mahathir era. Since independence in 1957, Malaysia has been governed by a multi-party coalition known as the Barisan Nasional (formerly known as the Alliance).

Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures. The bicameral parliament consists of the lower house, the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (literally the “Chamber of the People”) and the upper house, the Senate or Dewan Negara (literally the “Chamber of the Nation”). The 222-member House of Representatives are elected from single-member constituencies that are drawn based on population for a maximum term of five years. All 70 Senators sit for three-year terms; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies, two representing the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur, one each from federal territories of Labuan and Putrajaya, and 40 are appointed by the king. Besides the Parliament at the federal level, each state has a unicameral state legislative chamber (Malay: Dewan Undangan Negeri) whose members are elected from single-member constituencies. Parliamentary elections are held at least once every five years, with the last general election being in March 2008. The cabinet is chosen from among members of both houses of Parliament and is responsible to that body.

State governments are led by Chief Ministers (Menteri Besar in Malay states or Ketua Menteri in states without hereditary rulers), who is a state assembly member from the majority party in the Dewan Undangan Negeri. In each of the states with a hereditary ruler, the Chief Minister is required to be a Malay Muslim.

Citizenship

Most Malaysians are granted citizenship by lex soli. All Malaysians are Federal citizens with no formal citizenships within the individual states, except for the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in East Malaysia, where state citizenship is a privilege and distinguishable from the Peninsula. Every citizen is issued with a biometric smartchip identity card, known as MyKad, at the age of 12, and must carry the card at all times. A citizen is required to present his or her identity card to the police, or in the case of an emergency, to any military personnel, to be identified. If the card cannot be produced immediately, the person technically has 24 hours under the law to produce it at the nearest police station.

People Population: 25,274,133 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 31.8% (male 4,135,013/female 3,898,761)
15-64 years: 63.3% (male 8,026,755/female 7,965,332)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 548,970/female 699,302) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 24.6 years
male: 24 years
female: 25.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.742% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 22.44 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.02 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
note: does not reflect net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries in the region (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 16.39 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 18.92 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.03 years
male: 70.32 years
female: 75.94 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.98 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 52,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 2,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian
Ethnic groups: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)
Religions: Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.7%
male: 92%
female: 85.4% (2000 census)

Malaysia To Scrap $22 Billion Worth Of China-Backed Projects

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NORTH KOREAN NEWS AGENCY NDTV)

 

Malaysia To Scrap $22 Billion Worth Of China-Backed Projects

Mahathir Mohamad’s government has suspended China-backed projects worth more than $22 billion including a major rail link.

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Malaysia To Scrap $22 Billion Worth Of China-Backed Projects

Mahathir is expected to meet President Xi Jinping Monday afternoon. (Reuters)

KUALA LUMPUR/BEIJING: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called on China’s top leadership Monday to help solve his country’s fiscal problems, as he tries to revise major Beijing-backed projects signed under his scandal-plagued predecessor.

The 93-year-old leader, who returned for a second stint as premier following a shock election win in May, has railed against a series of deals struck with Chinese state-owned companies by the administration of toppled leader Najib Razak.

His government has suspended China-backed projects worth more than $22 billion, including a major rail link, and Mahathir had pledged to raise the issue of what he views as unfair terms related to some of the deals on his five-day trip.

During a press conference with Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Mahathir thanked China for agreeing to increase imports of speciality agricultural products, such as durian.

But even as he welcomed the agreements, Mahathir also said he expected more from the world’s second-largest economy.

“I believe that China will look sympathetically towards the problems that we have to resolve and perhaps help us in resolving some of our internal fiscal problems,” he said.

Mahathir, who is expected to meet President Xi Jinping Monday afternoon, also warned that wealthy countries should not use their riches to take advantage of less developed nations.

“There is a new version of colonialism happening because poor countries are unable to compete with rich countries just in terms of open free trade. It must also be fair trade,” he said.

Li said that he hoped the two countries would be able to achieve “balance” in their trade relations.

 Financial woes

During his nine-year rule, Najib was accused of cutting quick deals with Beijing in return for help paying off debts linked to a massive financial scandal that ultimately helped bring down his long-ruling coalition.

Last week, Mahathir had said he would try to cancel or modify the previous administration’s agreements with China, stressing that “the most important thing is for us to save money”.

As well as the rail link, which would have run from the Thai border to Kuala Lumpur, the government has suspended a China-backed project to build pipelines after alleging that almost all the money for the work was paid out but only a fraction of the project had been completed.

Mahathir is trying to reduce Malaysia’s national debt, which has ballooned to some $250 billion.

Despite the threat to revise China-linked contracts, Mahathir is seeking to strengthen business ties with Beijing during the trip.

He met the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, in the eastern city of Hangzhou on Saturday. Mahathir also oversaw the signing of a cooperation agreement between Chinese auto firm Geely and troubled Malaysian carmaker Proton.

Geely in May took a 49.9 percent stake in Proton.

China is the top trading partner of Malaysia, which is home to a substantial ethnic Chinese minority.

Relations were warm under the previous government, and Chinese investment in the country surged as Beijing signed deals for major infrastructure and construction projects.

But critics said there was often a lack of transparency and the terms, such as interest rates on loans, were unfavourable to Malaysia, fuelling suspicions about Najib’s real motives.

Najib and his cronies are accused of plundering billions of dollars from a sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB, in an audacious fraud.

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Since losing power, Najib has been charged over the scandal and will stand trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

The Great Nation Of Singapore, It’s History And It’s People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Singapore

Introduction Singapore was founded as a British trading colony in 1819. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but separated two years later and became independent. Singapore subsequently became one of the world’s most prosperous countries with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world’s busiest in terms of tonnage handled) and with per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.
History First settlement

The first records of settlement in Singapore are from the 2nd century AD. The island was an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire and originally had the Javanese name Temasek (‘sea town’). Temasek (Tumasek) rapidly became a significant trading settlement, but declined in the late 14th century. There are few remnants of old Temasek in Singapore, but archaeologists in Singapore have uncovered artefacts of that and other settlements. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Singapore island was part of the Sultanate of Johor. During the Malay-Portugal wars in 1613, the settlement was set ablaze by Portuguese troops. The Portuguese subsequently held control in that century and the Dutch in the 17th, but throughout most of this time the island’s population consisted mainly of fishermen.

Colonial rule

On 29 January 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed on the main island. Spotting its potential as a strategic geographical trading post in Southeast Asia, Raffles signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on behalf of the British East India Company on 6 February 1819 to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post and settlement. Until August 1824, Singapore was still a territory controlled by a Malay Ruler. Singapore only officially became a British colony in August 1824 when the British extended control over the whole island. John Crawfurd, the second resident of Singapore, was the one who made Singapore a British possession. He signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah on 2 August 1824 in which the Sultan and the Temmenggong handed over the whole island to the British East India Company thus marking the start of the island’s modern era. Raffles’s deputy, William Farquhar, oversaw a period of growth and ethnic migration, which was largely spurred by a no-restriction immigration policy. The British India office governed the island from 1858, but Singapore was made a British crown colony in 1867, answerable directly to the Crown. By 1869, 100,000 lived on the island.

The early onset of town planning in colonial Singapore came largely through a “divide and rule” framework where the different ethnic groups were settled in different parts of the South of the island. The Singapore River was largely a commercial area that was dominated by traders and bankers of various ethnic groups with mostly Chinese and Indian coolies working to load and unload goods from barge boats known locally as “bumboats”. The Malays, consisting of the local “Orang Lauts” who worked mostly as fishermen and seafarers, and Arab traders and scholars were mostly found in the South-east part of the river mouth, where Kampong Glam stands today. The European settlers, who were few then, settled around Fort Canning Hill and further upstream from the Singapore River. Like the Europeans, the early Indian migrants also settled more inland of the Singapore River, where Little India stands today. Very little is known about the rural private settlements in those times (known as kampongs), other than the major move by the post-independent Singapore government to re-settle these residents in the late 1960s.

World War II

Years before the rise of the Japanese, the British noted that Japan was building its forces rapidly. Wanting to protect its assets in SouthEast Asia, the British decided to build a naval base on the Northern end of Singapore. However, due to the war with Germany, all warship and war equipment was brought over to Europe.

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The ill-prepared British, with most of their forces in Europe, were defeated in six days, and surrendered the supposedly impregnable fortress to General Tomoyuki Yamashita on 15 February 1942. The surrender was described by British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill as “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.” The British naval base (see above) was destroyed before the Japanese could take over the base and make use of it. The Japanese renamed Singapore Shōnantō (昭南島?), from Japanese “Shōwa no jidai ni eta minami no shima” (“昭和の時代に得た南の島”?), or “southern island obtained in the age of Shōwa”, and occupied it until the British repossessed the island on 12 September 1945, a month after the Japanese surrender.

The name Shōnantō was, at the time, romanised as “Syonan-to” or “Syonan”, which means “Light of the South”.

Independence

Singapore became a self-governing state within the British Empire in 1959 with Yusof bin Ishak as its first Yang di-Pertuan Negara or president, and Lee Kuan Yew as its first Prime Minister. It declared independence from Britain unilaterally in August 1963, before joining the Federation of Malaysia in September along with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as the result of the 1962 Merger Referendum of Singapore. Singapore left the federation two years after heated ideological conflict between the state’s PAP government and the federal Kuala Lumpur government. Singapore officially gained sovereignty on 9 August 1965. Yusof bin Ishak was sworn in as the first President of Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew remained prime minister.

While trying to be self-sufficient, the fledging nation faced problems like mass unemployment, housing shortages, and a dearth of land and natural resources. During Lee Kuan Yew’s term as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, his administration tackled the problem of widespread unemployment, raised the standard of living, and implemented a large-scale public housing programme.[citation needed]It was during this time that the foundation of the country’s economic infrastructure was developed; the threat of racial tension was curbed; and an independent national defence system centring around compulsory male military service was created.

In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as Prime Minister. During his tenure, the country tackled the impacts of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak, and terrorist threats posed by Jemaah Islamiyah after the September 11 attacks. In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the third prime minister. Amongst his more notable decisions is the plan to open casinos to attract tourism.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, islands between Malaysia and Indonesia
Geographic coordinates: 1 22 N, 103 48 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 692.7 sq km
land: 682.7 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 193 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: within and beyond territorial sea, as defined in treaties and practice
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, rainy; two distinct monsoon seasons – Northeastern monsoon (December to March) and Southwestern monsoon (June to September); inter-monsoon – frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms
Terrain: lowland; gently undulating central plateau contains water catchment area and nature preserve
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Singapore Strait 0 m
highest point: Bukit Timah 166 m
Natural resources: fish, deepwater ports
Land use: arable land: 1.47%
permanent crops: 1.47%
other: 97.06% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 0.6 cu km (1975)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.19 cu km/yr (45%/51%/4%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (1975)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: industrial pollution; limited natural fresh water resources; limited land availability presents waste disposal problems; seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: focal point for Southeast Asian sea routes
Politics Singapore is a parliamentary democracy with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government representing different constituencies. The bulk of the executive powers rests with the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, currently Mr Lee Hsien Loong. The office of President of Singapore, historically a ceremonial one, was granted some veto powers as of 1991 for a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judiciary positions. Although the position is to be elected by popular vote, however only the 1993 election has been contested to date. The legislative branch of government is the Parliament.

Parliamentary elections in Singapore are plurality-based for group representation constituencies since the Parliamentary Elections Act was modified in 1991.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) consist of either elected, non-constituency or nominated Members. The majority of the Members of Parliament are elected into Parliament at a General Election on a first-past-the-post basis and represent either Single Member or Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs).

The elected Members of Parliament act as a bridge between the community and the Government by ensuring that the concerns of their constituents are heard in the Parliament. The present Parliament has 94 Members of Parliament consisting of 84 elected Members of Parliament, one NCMP and nine Nominated members of Parliament.
Elected Members, In Group Representation Constituencies, political parties field a team of between three to six candidates. At least one candidate in the team must belong to a minority race. This requirement ensures that parties contesting the elections in Group Representation Constituencies are multi-racial so that minority races will be represented in Parliament. Presently there are 14 Group Representation Constituencies and 9 Single Member constituencies.
Non-Constituency Members,This is to ensure that there will be a minimum number of opposition representatives in Parliament and that views other than the Government’s can be expressed in Parliament.
Nominated Members, up to nine Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) was made in 1990 to ensure a wide representation of community views in Parliament. Nominated Members of Parliament are appointed by the President of Singapore for a term of two and a half years on the recommendation of a Special Select Committee of Parliament chaired by the Speaker. Nominated Members of Parliament are not connected to any political parties.

Politics in Singapore have been controlled by the People’s Action Party (PAP) since self-government was attained. In consequence, foreign political analysts and several opposition parties like the Workers’ Party of Singapore, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) have argued that Singapore is essentially a one-party state. Many analysts consider Singapore to be an illiberal or procedural democracy rather than a true democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit describes Singapore as a “hybrid regime” of democratic and authoritarian elements. Freedom House ranks the country as “partly free”. Though general elections are free from irregularities and vote rigging, the PAP has been criticized for manipulating the political system through its use of censorship, gerrymandering, and civil libel suits against opposition politicians.[citation needed] Francis Seow, the exiled former Solicitor-General of Singapore, is a prominent critic. Seow and opposition politicians such as J.B. Jeyaretnam and Chee Soon Juan claim that Singapore courts favour the PAP government, and there is no separation of powers.

Singapore has a successful and transparent market economy. Government-linked companies are dominant in various sectors of the local economy, such as media, utilities, and public transport. Singapore has consistently been rated as the least corrupt country in Asia and among the world’s ten most free from corruption by Transparency International.

Although Singapore’s laws are inherited from British and British Indian laws, including many elements of English common law, the PAP has also consistently rejected liberal democratic values, which it typifies as Western and states there should not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to a democracy. There are no jury trials. Laws restricting the freedom of speech are justified by claims that they are intended to prohibit speech that may breed ill will or cause disharmony within Singapore’s multiracial, multi-religious society. For example, in September 2005, three bloggers were convicted of sedition for posting racist remarks targeting minorities. Some offences can lead to heavy fines or caning and there are laws which allow capital punishment in Singapore for first-degree murder and drug trafficking. Amnesty International has criticised Singapore for having “possibly the highest execution rate in the world” per capita. The Singapore government argues that there is no international consensus on the appropriateness of the death penalty and that Singapore has the sovereign right to determine its own judicial system and impose capital punishment for the most serious crimes.[

People Population: 4,608,167 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.8% (male 353,333/female 329,005)
15-64 years: 76.5% (male 1,717,357/female 1,809,462)
65 years and over: 8.7% (male 177,378/female 221,632) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 38.4 years
male: 38 years
female: 38.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.135% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 8.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 4.53 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 6.88 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 2.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.89 years
male: 79.29 years
female: 84.68 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.08 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Netherlands And Australia Hold Russia Partly At Fault For Downing Of Malaysian Jet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(FLIGHT MH17 WAS SHOT DOWN WITH A RUSSIAN MISSILE FROM A RUSSIAN HELD MILITARY LOCATION)

Friday – 9 months of Ramadan 1439 H – 25 May 2018 m
Joint investigation team in Malaysia plane crash offers a shattered missile (Reuters)
Amsterdam: Middle East Online
The Netherlands and Australia have taken responsibility for the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine during its flight MH17 in 2014, officials said on Friday, in a move that could trigger a judicial move.
In a statement, the Dutch government said the two countries “hold Russia partly responsible for the downing” of the Malaysian plane, a day after investigators found that a Bock missile hit the plane while it was flying, moving from a Russian military unit in Kursk. All 298 passengers, mostly Dutch, were killed.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash was deliberate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS AND ’60 MINUTES AUSTRALIA’)

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash was deliberate, aviation experts suggest

An investigation by an Australian TV news program suggests the pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared with 239 people aboard more than four years ago, deliberately crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Investigators are still searching for the aircraft, but these findings raise the possibility that one of the greatest aviation mysteries in modern history may not have been a catastrophic accident, but instead a possible mass murder-suicide.

“60 Minutes Australia” brought together an international group of aviation experts who say that the disappearance of MH370 was a criminal act by veteran pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

“He was killing himself; unfortunately, he was killing everybody else on board, and he did it deliberately,” said Canadian Air crash investigator Larry Vance.

mh370-expert-panel-60-minutes-australia-620.jpg

A panel of aviation experts and air crash investigators discusses the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

“60 MINUTES AUSTRALIA”

Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy reconstructed the flight plan based on military radar, and says Captain Shah flew along the border of Malaysia and Thailand, crossing in and out of each country’s airspace to avoid detection.

“It did the job,” Hardy said, “because we know, as a fact, that the military did not come and intercept the aircraft.”

Hardy also made a strange discovery: Captain Shah likely dipped the plane’s wing over Penang, his hometown.

“Somebody was looking out the window,” he suggested.

“Why did he want to look outside Penang?” asked reporter Tara Brown.

“It might be a long, emotional goodbye — or a short, emotional goodbye,” Hardy replied.

Two experts from the “60 Minutes Australia” investigation also disagreed with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s scenario of the “death dive” with no one in control.

“I think someone was controlling the aircraft until the end,” said Hardy.

They argue instead that Captain Shah flew Flight MH370 another 115 miles than originally thought. “This was a mission by one of the crew to hide the aircraft as far away from civilization as possible,” Hardy said. “Which puts us way outside the search area that is currently being done.”

The wreckage uncovered so far may be further evidence that the pilot actually had control and that it was not a high speed crash. As Larry Vance noted of one wing component recovered from the shore of Africa, “The front of it would be pressed in and hollow. The water would invade inside and it would just explode from the inside. So this piece would not even exist.”

mh370-plane-component-60-minutes-australia-620.jpg

Larry Vance and reporter Tara Brown with a wing component recovered from the vanished MH370.

 CBS NEWS

“They are very compelling,” aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, told CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave. “What I find very compelling is the hypothesis that the pilot did this deliberately, and did one of the most heinous acts in modern commercial aviation.”

CBS News spoke to multiple family members of the MH370 victims, and some say that this is nothing new and that without forensic evidence, they will not be convinced.

Captain Shah’s family tells CBS News that “pointing a finger toward him does not make them expert investigators — they have to find the plane.”

Malaysia Airlines has not yet responded to our requests for comment.


To watch the full “60 Minutes Australia” report, “MH370: The Situation Room,” click here or watch below:

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASIA FOREIGN AFFAIRS, FORBES)

 

Asia #ForeignAffairs

Vietnam Is Becoming Asia’s Most Aggressive Maritime Nation After China

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Activists chant anti-China slogans during a rally in Hanoi on March 14, 2016, to mark the anniversary of a 1988 battle in the Spratly Islands, a rare act of protest over an issue that has come to dog relations between Hanoi and Beijing. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

China has stoked many of Asia’s maritime sovereignty disputes by reclaiming land to build artificial islands and, in some cases, adding military infrastructure to those islands. To rub in the message that it has the more power than anyone else in the widely disputed, 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, the Beijing government glibly sails coast guard ships around the exclusive ocean economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Off its east coast, China routinely passes boats through a tract of sea disputed with, and controlled by Japan.

But let’s linger on another country for a second – Vietnam.

A fisherman and his son try to fix the roof of their boat on Thuan Phuoc port in prior to the next fishing trip on August 30, 2016 in Danang, Vietnam. (AFP/Getty image)

The country with a 3,444 kilometer-long coastline shows every sign of being Asia’s second most expansion-minded maritime power after China.

Here’s the evidence:

  • Last year the American Center for Strategic & International Studies said Vietnam had landfilled more South China Sea islets than China itself, though China’s method was probably more destructive. It holds 21 tiny islets in the Spratly archipelago, more than any of its regional rivals.
  • This year Vietnam renewed a deal with the overseas subsidiary of state-owned Indian oil firm ONGC to explore for fossil fuels under the ocean floor. Beijing will likely bristle at this move because it too claims waters off the Vietnamese east coast as part of its position that 95% of the whole sea is Chinese, but Vietnam has not backed down. In any case, India is Vietnam’s new best friend — to wit its call in July to step up a year-old partnership.
  • Vietnamese fishing boats, a large share of the 1.72 million that trawl the South China Sea, have been sent off by other coastal states and as far off as Indonesia and Thailand, scholars who follow the maritime dispute say. Two Vietnamese fishermen turned up dead 34 kilometers from the Philippines last month in what’s believed to be an incident involving an official vessel from Manila. Fish were 10% of Vietnam’s export revenues as of a decade ago, the University of British Columbia says in this study. “Fish stocks in Vietnam have been depleted, so they have to venture further away to continue their business,” says Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “As they venture further away it’s easier for them to get into other countries’ waters and they commit illegal fishing.”
  • Vietnam protests when Taiwan makes its presence felt on Taiping Island. Although Taiping is the largest feature in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, Taiwan has little clout in the bigger sovereignty dispute and has even used its Taiping facilities to help Vietnamese fishermen in distress. But the Vietnamese foreign ministry formally protested at least once in 2016 and again in March this year when Taiwan had a live-fire military drill. “They said Taiwan’s activities violated its sovereignty,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “Whenever Taiwan makes a move, Vietnam always protests. It’s been like that all along. Vietnam is pretty assertive.”
  • China has to watch it, too. China is using economic incentives to get along with other South China Sea states but things keep going wrong with Vietnam. In June, a senior Chinese military official cut short his visit to Vietnam as the host was looking for oil in disputed waters, and in August foreign ministers from the two countries cancelled a meeting – presumably over their maritime disputes — on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations event.

Vietnam’s maritime muscle makes a lot of sense. The country of 93 million people is on the move economically, dependent on the sea. Nationalism is growing, too, and citizens believe the government should gun hard for its claims.

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