China Shows Military Muscle In Warning Too It’s Neighbors

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

China: Air Force Channel Flight

CHINESE bombers, fighters and early warning and aerial refueling aircraft yesterday flew through the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan and the Philippines heading for exercises in the Western Pacific.

The air force described the exercises as part of normal, annual, planned drills.

“This move is to raise the air force’s abilities via training, to meet the needs to maintaining national sovereignty, protecting national security and guaranteeing peaceful development.”

The air force will organize regular exercises that fly past the “first island chain,” it said, referring to an area that includes Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.

Typhoon Mangkhut Hits Hong Kong/mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong and mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong residents huddled indoors Sunday and strong winds sent debris flying as Typhoon Mangkhut, the world’s strongest storm this year, carved a destructive and deadly path from the Philippines toward mainland China.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) raised the storm signal to T10 — the highest level possible — Sunday morning local time, with the city almost entirely shut down.
Fierce winds have already torn off roofs, smashed windows and downed trees in Hong Kong, as authorities warned of the threat of storm surges and flooding from torrential rain.
Mangkhut was recorded packing sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour (107 miles per hour) and gusts up to 223 kilometers per hour (138 miles per hour) as the storm’s eye passed south of the territory in the early afternoon, according to the HKO.
At 4 p.m. local time, the storm was 110 kilometers (68 miles) west-southwest of Hong Kong, and heading for the surrounding Pearl River Delta, home to 120 million people, the HKO reported later Sunday. Mangkhut was expected to make landfall sometime Sunday evening in southern mainland China.
Along the coast, the gambling enclave of Macau, which was hit hard by Super Typhoon Hato last August, closed all its casinos, and all fishing boats from China’s Guangdong province have been called into port.
A shop owner is rescued by members of the fire brigade from a flooded area of Macau on Sunday.

The storm is expected to be one for Hong Kong’s record books. It’s only the 15th time in the last 60 years that a storm has been classified as T10; the last was for Super Typhoon Hato last year.

On Saturday, it plowed into the Philippines, flattening homes in small towns and villages on the northern island of Luzon. The presidential spokesperson for Rodrigo Duterte told reporters Sunday that 40 people had died.

Harry Roque said most of the deaths were due to landslides and mainly occurred in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The official death toll complied by the Philippines disaster agency still stands at zero as it instituted a stringent criteria for associating deaths with storms following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The region braces

Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor was hit with a storm surge of more than 3.9 meters (12.8 feet) above chart datum Sunday. Hong Kong’s famous skyline, filled with massive buildings jutting up from the hill, was almost completely obscured as squalls roared through, however visibility has since improved.
More than 550 flights have been canceled at airports in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and more than 200 have been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. Most of Hong Kong’s public transport has been suspended.
Hong Kong authorities have been warning residents about the storm for days. On Saturday, grocery stores were packed with people stocking up on goods. Buildings across the city were either boarded up or had their windows taped in order to mitigate the damage of broken glass.
Other cities around the Pearl River Delta — which includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Macau — are on high alert.
Guangzhou, the capital and most populous city in Guangdong province, issued its highest typhoon emergency alert, according People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated. Airports in Shenzhen, a technology hub across the border from Hong Kong, and on the resort island of Hainan have canceled all flights, according to Chinese state media.

Mangkhut slams into the Philippines

Mangkhut struck the northern Philippines as a super typhoon, causing flooding and landslides on the northern island of Luzon.
It made landfall in the Philippines Saturday at 1:40 a.m. local time, packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.
Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, blocked roads with debris and dumped water on fields of crops.
More than 250,000 people were affected by the storm across the country, with around half of those seeking shelter in evacuation centers in the country’s north.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will head to the region Sunday to see the damage and recovery operations, presidential Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN.
The most severe damage came in Luzon’s north, a sparsely populated region that’s considered the breadbasket of the Philippines, though areas as far away as Manila — more than 340 km (200 miles) from the eye of the storm — were hit with heavy rains that caused flooding in urban areas.
As of Saturday, the storm had caused 51 landslides in the Philippines’ north. Search crews are looking for people reported missing in the mountainous Cordillera region, Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino said.
Though the storm system has moved on, extent of the damage has been difficult to assess Sunday as fierce winds were replaced by flood waters, blocking access and aid to affected areas. A vital transportation hub in the region, Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, was damaged in the storms, according to the Department of Transportation, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 local and international flights.
Mangkhut is expected to make another landfall late Sunday night, hitting the Chinese province of Guangdong near the cities of Yangjiang and Zhanjiang.
From there the system will continue to move westward and will rain itself out over northern Vietnam, which could lead to some flooding there early next week.

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)

Kuwait, Philippines Move to Defuse Domestic Worker Row

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

 

Kuwait, Philippines Move to Defuse Domestic Worker Row

Tuesday, 1 May, 2018 – 09:00
Overseas Filipino Workers from Kuwait gather upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines in February. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Kuwait announced on Monday that it will set up a special commission to address the employment of housemaids in the Gulf state, in what was interpreted as an olive branch extended to the Philippines over the migrant labor row.

Manila announced on Monday that it was prepared to dispatch a delegation to Kuwait to contain the escalating dispute over domestic foreign workers in Kuwait.

The development stood in stark contrast to President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement over the weekend that Manila’s ban on sending domestic workers to Kuwait was permanent.

Duterte in February prohibited workers heading to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in her employer’s freezer.

The resulting row deepened last week after Kuwaiti authorities ordered Manila’s envoy to leave the country over videos of Philippine embassy staff helping workers in Kuwait flee their employers.

During its weekly meeting, the Kuwaiti government on Monday said it was opposed to any move “aimed at undermining its sovereignty and its laws”, the official KUNA news agency reported.

The government added however that it will set up a special commission chaired by the minister of social affairs and labor to follow up “on cooperation with friendly states” on the employment of housemaids in Kuwait.

“This is largely a misunderstanding and exaggeration of some minor or one-off cases,” Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser al-Subaih told reporters in Kuwait City.

“We have taken a serious stance … but we do not believe in escalation and want to remain in direct communication to resolve the problem,” Subaih added.

Kuwait and the Philippines had been negotiating a labor deal that could have resulted in the lifting of the ban on Filipinos working in the Gulf state.

The Philippines on Tuesday welcomed Kuwait’s olive branch in the migrant labor row.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said: “This gesture on the part of Kuwait, a country with which we have a shared history and strong people-to-people ties, will allow us to move forward.”

“We affirm our friendship with the government of Kuwait and its people. The strength of that friendship will withstand this misunderstanding,” he added.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the Philippines’ foreign ministry.

Duterte said workers returning from Kuwait could find employment as English teachers in China, citing improved ties with Beijing.

The Philippines has sent millions of its people to work abroad, seeking salaries they cannot get in their relatively impoverished nation.

The money they send back home accounts for about 10 percent of the Philippine economy.

Philippines plans to withdraw from from International Criminal Court

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Philippines plans to withdraw from International Criminal Court amid crimes against humanity investigation

  • In a lengthy statement released Wednesday, the Filipino strongman leader decried what he believed to be an “outrageous” attack on his character by United Nations (UN) officials.
  • Duterte has been accused of facilitating extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses during a campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the Asian country.
  • Police are thought to have killed more than 4,100 people since Duterte took office in May 2016 and rights groups allege approximately 8,000 others have been murdered during the country’s war on drugs.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte walks past honor guards as he arrives at Manila international airport in Manila on May 24, 2017, after returning from a visit to Russia. Duterte threatened on May 24 to impose martial law in Mindanao to combat the rising threat of terrorism, after Islamist militants beheaded a policeman and took Catholic hostages while rampaging through a southern city.

NOEL CELIS / AFP / Getty Images
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte walks past honor guards as he arrives at Manila international airport in Manila on May 24, 2017, after returning from a visit to Russia. Duterte threatened on May 24 to impose martial law in Mindanao to combat the rising threat of terrorism, after Islamist militants beheaded a policeman and took Catholic hostages while rampaging through a southern city.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte intends to pull his country out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), shortly after the judicial body launched a crimes against humanity investigation into his controversial war on drugs.

In a lengthy statement released Wednesday, the Filipino strongman leader decried what he believed to be an “outrageous” attack on his character by United Nations (UN) officials. Duterte has been accused of facilitating extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses during a campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the Asian country.

Last month, the ICC said it was investigating allegations the Philippines president had committed crimes against humanity.

Duterte initially welcomed the move, suggesting it would provide him with an opportunity to clear his name of any apparent wrongdoing. However, in a dramatic U-turn, he has since decided the judicial body has demonstrated a “brazen ignorance of the law.” He also said the ICC was “useless” and “hypocritical.”

Duterte should ‘see a psychiatrist’

Police are thought to have killed more than 4,100 people since Duterte took office in May 2016 and rights groups allege approximately 8,000 others have been murdered during the country’s war on drugs. The Philippines has consistently said its legal processes are functional and independent, while the country’s police deny allegations of murder and cover-ups.

Duterte’s contentious bid to clamp down on illegal drugs has long been a source of international alarm, with several countries and UN officials condemning the campaign.

On Friday, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said the maverick former mayor was in need of a psychiatric evaluation. Speaking at a news conference, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Duterte’s attacks on human rights activists were “unacceptable” and should not continue “unanswered.”

According to the ICC’s guidelines, a pledge to withdraw from its organization would only become effective one year after the initial notification. The Philippines is currently under the jurisdiction of the ICC as a result of it being a member, while withdrawing from the group does nothing to change its jurisdiction retroactively.

Tropical Storm Tembin Heads to Vietnam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

 

Hundreds of Thousands Evacuated as Deadly Tropical Storm Tembin Heads to Vietnam

By Associated Press
Dec 24 2017 09:15 AM EST
weather.com

Story Highlights

Hundreds of thousands in Vietnam have been forced to evacuate ahead of Tropical Storm Tembin’s arrival.

More than 160 people are dead and over 160 are missing in the Philippines due to the storm.

Tembin caused deadly flash floods and landslides in the Philippines.

It s expected to strengthen as it tracks westward.

Hundreds of thousands of residents in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam were told to evacuate Monday as deadly Tropical Storm Tembin tracks westward from the Philippines.

Officials say several hundreds of thousands fled their homes, a majority of which are made of tin sheets and wooden panels. In Vung Tau city, thousands of fishing boats were forced to halt their several-month-long trips to return to the shore.

Tembin caused more than 160 deaths and left 171 missing after it lashed the southern Philippines, triggering flash floods and landslides.

Most of the deaths from Tropical Storm Tembin were in the hard-hit provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur and on the Zamboanga Peninsula, according to an initial government report on storm casualties.

It’s the latest disaster to hit the Philippines, which is battered by about 20 typhoons and storms each year, making the archipelago that lies on the Pacific typhoon belt one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

(MORE: Southern California’s Thomas Fire Now Largest in State History)

A search and rescue operation was underway for more than 30 people swept away by flash floods in the fishing village of Anungan, Mayor Bong Edding of Zamboanga del Norte province’s Sibuco town said by phone. Five bodies have been recovered so far in the village.

The rest of the deaths were reported in Lanao del Norte, where floodwaters from a mountain also swept away several riverside houses and villagers, and Lanao del Sur, police and officials said.

Lanao del Norte officials reported the highest death toll at 64 with 139 missing followed by Zamboanga del Norte province, where officials reported at least 29 storm deaths with 19 others missing. The storm left 21 dead and one missing in the lakeside province of Lanao del Sur, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

More than 97,000 people remain in 261 evacuation centers across the south, while nearly 85,000 more people are displaced and staying elsewhere as of Monday.

An inter-island ferry sank off northeastern Quezon province last week after being lashed by fierce winds and big waves, leaving at least five people dead. More than 250 passengers and crewmen were rescued.

Tembin, known locally as Vinta, strengthened and picked up speed late Saturday, packing maximum sustained winds of 105 kilometers (65 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph). It struck the southern section of western Palawan province late Saturday and is forecast to blow away from the southern Philippines on Sunday toward the South China Sea.

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Philippines Mall Dozens Trapped and Feared Dead in Fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

At least 37 people were trapped inside a burning shopping mall in the southern Philippines city of Davao. The cause of the fire remains unknown. CreditYas D. Ocampo, via Reuters

MANILA — Fire crews battling an enormous blaze that tore through a shopping mall in a southern city in the Philippines, trapping at least 37 people, pulled one body from the building, the mayor said on Sunday.

But the vice mayor said there was “zero” chance of survival for the other 36.

Firefighters have been unable to enter the mall in Davao City after the fire started on Saturday morning, the vice mayor, Paolo Duterte, said.

“Our firemen are still struggling to find a way in as the fire is still burning,” Mr. Duterte said. He said of those still trapped inside, “Their chances of survival is zero.”

Mayor Inday Sara Duterte said that one body had been recovered and that rescuers’ priority was now to find all those who are missing.

“Do not stop until you find the 37,” she said, calling the mall fire “an unfortunate incident.”

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The blaze began Saturday morning. Twenty-four hours later the fire continued to burn, making it too dangerous for firefighters to enter the building. CreditManman Dejeto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The blaze erupted as city officials and emergency-relief workers were trying to rescue survivors of flash floods and landslides unleashed by Tropical Storm Tembin elsewhere in the region. The storm slammed into the eastern portion of Mindanao late Thursday, dumping torrential rains.

Continue reading the main story

By Sunday, the death toll stood at 231, officials said, with scores more missing.

President Rodrigo Duterte, the father of Davao City’s mayor and vice mayor, visited the mall on Saturday night and met with family members of those inside. Photographs released by his office showed him consoling relatives and wiping tears from his eyes.

The president, who was previously mayor of Davao City and was in town for the holidays, “assured the relatives of the victims that the government would extend help,” said Harry Roque, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. Officials said the blaze started near a furniture store on the building’s third floor. Many locals were doing their Christmas shopping, and employees were wrapping up their workweek before the holiday. Officials said many of the people trapped inside worked at a call center inside the mall.

More than 24 hours later, the building remained on fire and was too dangerous to enter, the authorities said.

“We are currently coordinating with the authorities,” said Thea Septaan Padua, a spokeswoman for the mall, adding that for now, no deaths had been confirmed.

The authorities have been on heightened alert amid fears that Islamist militants could target shopping malls and other public areas. In September, when the president was visiting Davao, militants who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State bombed a night market in the city, killing 15 people.

Tropical Storm Tembin Leaves At Least 75 Dead In Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Tropical Storm Tembin hit the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines on Fridaykilling at least 75 people, authorities said.

At least 58 people have been reported missing, according to spokeswoman Mina Marasigan of the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
More than 70,000 people have been affected by Tembin, called “Vinta” in the Philippines. At least 30,000 people were taken to shelters, Marasigan said.
Heavy rain from the storm led to the collapse of artificial dams, which prompted widespread flooding and triggered landslides in the mountains.
Most of the deaths occurred in Lanao del Norte, with additional ones in several other towns, including Payao and Lanao del Sur, the affiliate reported
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Rescue workers evacuate flood-affected residents in Davao on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao after Tropical Storm Tembin dumped torrential rains across the island.

Other fatalities included a 4-year-old who died after being trapped in a landslide in Payao and a prisoner killed when the jail’s roof collapsed due to strong winds and rains in Butuan City, CNN Philippines reported, citing the Philippine Red Cross.

Police officers evacuate a baby in Cagayan city after Tropical Storm Tembin hit.

By Saturday morning, Tembin was packing maximum sustained winds of 80 kph (50 mph). The storm is headed toward the island province of Palawan, according to Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration.

Tropical Storm Unleashes Deadly Destruction on Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Tropical Storm Unleashes Deadly Destruction on Philippines Four Years After Super Typhoon Haiyan

Screenshot from local news coverage of tropical storm Kai-Tak (local name Urduja) by PTV Philippines.

Philippine officials reported that at least 46 people were killed while another 28 are still missing after tropical storm Kai-Tak (local name Urduja) battered Eastern Visayas, the region hardest hit by super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) four years ago.

Eastern Visayas is composed of the three main islands Biliran, Leyte, and Samar, which are the easternmost islands of the central Philippine island group of Visayas. Facing the Pacific Ocean to its east, the region is the typical entry point of tropical storms to the Philippines.

Most of the people killed or missing — mostly by landslides, authorities say — hail from the province of Biliran, which posted 25 dead and 25 missing people. Over 44,000 families have been evacuated and at least 16,000 passengers were stranded in various areas of the Philippines.

Tropical storm Kai-Tak caused damage to five bridges that effectively cut off Biliran from Leyte and the rest of the region, thus posing challenges on the bringing of heavy equipment and supplies to the island.

Activist Joshua Musico Sagdullas writes for Eastern Visayas-based alternative news site Eastern Vista to ask if the new government has learned any lesson at all from the devastation wrought by super typhoon Haiyan in November 2013:

What we expected was for the rain to pour and winds to howl, we thought work would be suspended for a day or two and some roads impassable due to slight debris pile up. We would never have thought the storm would cause evacuation-efforts spanning three regions or paralyzed the economy of close to three provinces in Eastern Visayas.

Netizens and journalists have used the hashtag #UrdujaPH on social media to give updates on the storm and post photos of its impact. Groups have also taken to social media to call for donations and disaster relief efforts, especially for some of the most affected areas like Biliran.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Photos: Pinsalang iniwan ni Bagyong Urduja sa Leyte

The dead left by typhoon Urduja in Leyte.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Queue of stranded vehicles outside Matnog Port in Sorsogon reaches 4 km. (📸 MDRRMO Matnog) |  @InquirerSLB

Netizens have also asked if Kai-Tak’s impact on Biliran was further magnified by the presence of sulfur mining in the area. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has warnedabout the threat of landslides in Biliran ahead of Kai-Tak’s appearance.

May sulphur mining man daw ha iyo 💔

Tungod ha ira, damo nagkamatay. Dre la sulphur mining it nagaganap ha Biliran. Sana maging sensitive it Province ngan LGU para ma-address it mga sugad na issue, ginhihinay hinay la nira pagguba ht Biliran. 💔

Many died because of this. Sulphur mining is happening in Biliran. Hopefully the provincial local government unit would be sensitive and address this issue. They are slowly destroying Biliran.

: Melanie Bingco gives updates on the situation in Biliran amid pic.twitter.com/vA6fwVNny6

My Sulfur mining sa bundok ng Biliran province 35 years na ako ngaun lang ngyari sa province namin ito.. Nakakaiyak 😦

There’s sulfur mining in the mountains of Biliran. I’ve been in Biliran province 35 years this happened to our province only now. Heartbreaking.

But even as tropical storm Kai-Tak has already left the Philippines as it moved to the West Philippine Sea, the country is again bracing for the entry of another weather disturbance which is expected to make landfall on Christmas eve.

Dozens Killed in Philippine Tropical Storm

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

 

Dozens Killed in Philippine Tropical Storm

Sunday, 17 December, 2017 – 11:30
Some 26 people were killed and 23 missing in the Philippines due to landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Tropical Storm Kai-Tak. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

At least 26 people were killed in the Philippines in landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Kai-Tak, authorities said on Sunday.

Some 23 were missing in the eastern Philippines a day after the storm pounded the archipelago nation.

Kai-Tak tore across the major islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.

“There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, told AFP.

Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province just east of Leyte, gave the same figure for deaths in an interview on ABS-CBN television. He said 23 people were missing.

The national disaster risk reduction agency could not immediately confirm if the 26 deaths in Biliran included the initial three fatalities it reported on Saturday.

Kai-Tak weakened on Sunday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) an hour, and was reclassified as a tropical depression, state weather forecasters said.

But disaster officials warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in parts of the region.

“I’ve been stranded for three days, sleeping in the bus, and I just want to get home to my family for Christmas,” Eliaquin Pilapil, a 55-year-old farmer, told AFP from a port in the town of Matnog in the eastern province of Sorsogon.

The Christmas holidays are a busy travel season in the mainly Catholic Philippines, with people heading home to the provinces.

The nation is battered by about 20 major storms each year.

Samar and Leyte bore the brunt in 2013 of Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

In the Leyte city of Tacloban, Saturday’s storm brought flash floods of up to 1.5 meters (five feet) and strong winds that left the city without power and water, according to its disaster office chief.

“The storm moved so slowly that it brought so much rain to our city. The floods resulted from four days of rain,” Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office, told AFP.

Bernadas said 82 percent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.

Heavy rains and large waves have stranded at least 11,000 people in various ports in the region, according to the Philippine Coast Guard. More than 10,000 people have fled to evacuation centers, local media reported.

Several provinces were placed under storm warning signals, where heavy rains may persist, the weather bureau said.