Archive | April, 2014

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Obama’s Asia trip lacks trade breakthrough

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

Publication Date : 30-04-2014

 

Four countries and two defence pacts later, observers in the US capital say it is mission partly accomplished

 

When United States President Barack Obama began his fifth Asian visit since 2008 last week, attention was focused on whether he would be able to bolster wavering belief in his administration’s Asia strategy.

Four countries and two defence pacts later, observers in the US capital say it is mission partly accomplished.

While Obama did well to make the case that the US military will be committed to Asia, there was nothing to show on the trade front. And even though Washington’s Pacific strategy relies on ramping up military resources in the region, it cannot succeed without trade.

Ernie Bower, senior adviser and Sumitro Chair for South-east Asia Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says even though the President might have convinced allies of his “serious intentions” to anchor in Asia, there are lingering doubts about the follow-through.

“To do that, the President has to sustain his focus, invest political capital in building support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and think about next steps for economic engagement in Asia, and start building the political foundation for US engagement in Asia here in the United States.”

Obama’s stops in Japan and Malaysia – both parties to talks on the TPP trade pact – yielded little to celebrate. While all leaders gamely spoke about “progress”, the lack of a concrete announcement, despite frantic talks leading up to the trip, is a clear sign that discussions have hit an impasse.

A key part of the problem for the Obama administration was its weakened bargaining position after it failed to get TPA approved by Congress. The TPA speeds up the consideration by Congress of any trade deal, as it blocks lawmakers from making amendments to the agreement, forcing them to approve or reject it as it is.

As long as Obama does not have that authority, Asian leaders would surmise that it might not be worth risking domestic political capital to get a deal that will be stuck in the US Congress.

Says Dr Richard Bush, director of the Centre for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings Institution: “The most optimistic thing I have heard is that Washington and Japan are very close to a consensus on how the whole list of tariff lines should be changed. But, the thinking goes, Japan is unwilling to announce these as its final offer until TPA is passed, in order to open itself to post-TPA negotiations.”

Adds Bower: “This left President Obama with nothing really to show for trade on this trip, and it is a significant failure to grasp the geopolitical brass ring… A leader needs to close the loop and explain to Americans that economic leadership (through trade and investment) is intrinsically linked to the concept of security in the Asia Pacific.”

Still, there were notable successes on the trip.

The deals that increase military cooperation with South Korea and the Philippines were largely welcomed in Asia and in Washington, as were the remarks by Obama stating that the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands would be covered under the defence treaty the US has with Japan.

In fact, aside from trade talks that were likely doomed even before he left, observers say Obama hit a lot of right notes on the trip, largely achieving the right balance of reassuring allies without ruffling too many Chinese feathers.

Yet, those achievements have thus far failed to make up for the problems. Some critics of the administration have even cast the trip as Mr Obama giving Asia what it wants in terms of military engagement without getting anything back in trade.

“Unfortunately for the administration, the trip was bogged down by the prevailing ‘American weakness’ narrative,” says Brian Harding, a former Pentagon official who has worked extensively on Asia policy.

“There was no amount of strategic messaging that could overcome this.”

The President returned to Washington with a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showing his approval rating had sunk to a new low of 41 per cent from 46 per cent in the first three months of the year.

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/39eᕚa4/sc/39/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E597830Bhtml/story01.htm

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Activists block off Legislature exits in Taipei

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

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5 convincts executed in Taiwan

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

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� SINGAPORE: SEWOL DISASTER: Memorial hall in S’pore for victims

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SEWOL DISASTER: Memorial hall in S’pore for victims

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

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�‹

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Xi calls for ‘more effective’ anti-terror drive

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

Publication Date : 30-04-2014

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged police officers in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to devise “effective ways” to deal with terrorists.

“I care very much about your equipment and training. It is necessary that you have effective methods to handle violent and terrorist criminals,” Xi was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as telling officers at a police station on Monday in the westernmost border region of Kashgar, home to more than 4.3 million people from 47 ethnic groups.

“The training must simulate real combat. Sweat more in peacetime to bleed less in wartime,” he added. “The Kashgar region is the front line in anti-terrorist efforts and maintaining social stability, the situation is grim and complicated. Grassroots police stations are ‘fists and daggers’ so you must spare no efforts in serving the people and safeguarding public security.”

Xi began an inspection tour of Xinjiang on Sunday, his first visit to the region since becoming the top leader in November 2012.

In his chats with police officers, Xi also encouraged them to learn from a famous general in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who developed convenient weapons to fight Japanese pirates.

“We should also come up with good tactics as well as usable weapons,” Xi said.

Arken Tulak, head of the police station, told China Daily that Xi asked officers to better protect themselves because they are working at the battlefront in the anti-terrorist war and face great danger.

“He asked me whether our officers can speak both Mandarin and the Uygur language, and we showed him some unique protective maneuvers invented by the Kashgar police,” the 43-year-old Uygur said. “He was very nice to us – it was like he is one of our family members.”

Before leaving the station, Xi shook hands with each officer, according to Arken Tulak.

This is the third time in a month that the president has raised the issue of anti-terrorism. In a meeting of senior leaders on Friday, Xi said the struggle against terrorism concerns every core interest of the country and terrorists must be countered with an iron fist.

Since knife-wielding attackers killed 29 people and injured more than 140 in Kunming, Yunnan province, in early March, Xi has frequently talked about anti-terrorist efforts.

In addition to security topics, Xi also paid considerable attention to residents’ well-being.

During his visit to Ayagemangan, a village in Shufu county, Xi took part in a meeting with residents, who expressed their concerns to village heads about living conditions and farm produce sales.

He requested local leaders take good care of residents’ concerns and wished the villagers better lives, Xinhua reported.

“I am very proud that I translated the villagers’ words for the president,” said Yisilapili Yimayili, deputy village head. “He paid special attention to the subsidy given to residents to improve their housing conditions.”

When talking with teachers at a primary school in the county, Xi urged them to promote bilingual teaching.

“Learning Mandarin will not only make it easier for these children to find jobs in the future, but more important, it can contribute to promoting ethnic unity,” he said, also encouraging teachers from the Han ethnic group to better learn the Uygur language.

Students said they feel privileged to meet “grandpa Xi” in person.

Rukya Memeturson, 13, a sixth-grader at the school, said: “I had only watched grandpa Xi on TV and never imagined that he could walk out of the TV and come to my classroom. He asked me what I want to do when I grow up, and I told him I want to be a doctor in a hospital.”

In a meeting with government officials from southern Xinjiang, the president requested they boost employment and people’s incomes.

On Tuesday, Xi praised soldiers after he watched them training in Urumqi, the regional capital.

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/39e7𗴣/sc/1/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E59810A0Bhtml/story01.htm

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Pakistan govt ‘punishes itself’ for not paying power bills

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

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 PUTRAJAYA: Hospital-acquired infections can affect one in 10: WHO

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 TAIPEI: Activists block off Legislature exits in Taipei

â�� ISLAMABAD: Pakistani journalists living with death threats and violence

 JAKARTA/MEDAN: Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers to hold Labor Day rally

 KUALA LUMPUR: MH370: ‘Wreckage found’ claim to be verified

 JAKARTA: Indonesia to protest Friday prayer raid by Czech police

 

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 MANILA: No firm commitment from US to defend Philippines

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Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/39e7adcc/sc/1/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E598140Bhtml/story01.htm

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Hospital-acquired infections can affect one in 10: WHO

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

Publication Date : 30-04-2014

 

At any one time, a staggering 1.5 million people in the world are estimated to be suffering from hospital-acquired infections.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) data further suggests that one in 10 patients in a developing country risk being harmed one way or another in the process of receiving medical treatment.

In Malaysia, Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam said in 2012, the public healthcare sector has recorded 1,855 medication-related errors, 991 cases of patients having experienced a fall while in a public health institution, 67 transfusion errors, and 54 cases of adverse outcomes in surgical procedures.

“To make matters worse, the WHO data also found that 50% of medical equipment (globally) at any point in time cannot be used optimally, were in poor stage of usage, or cannot be used at all,” Dr Subramaniam said at the National Healthcare Leaders’ Summit on Patients for Patients Safety Malaysia yesterday.

He said the issue was not only peculiar to developed and semi-developed countries, but also afflicts developed countries.

To combat a rise in these cases, he said the government has formed the Patient Safety Council of Malaysia in 2003 to look into all aspects of patient safety, including data collection, details of incidents and recommendations to prevent the recurrence of similar cases.

He added that the cause of patient safety-related incidents vary and may not necessarily point to negligence by a healthcare professional.

“If a doctor has exercised all the right things in his clinical process, as would others with similar experience, but despite all that, his diagnosis is not the right one, it is not equivalent to medical negligence.

�€œBecause what we require is that the doctor should have exercised all those precautions which his peer of equivalent qualifications and experience would have done in a similar situation,” he explained.

The two-day summit at Marriott Putrajaya Hotel, organised by non-profit professional organisation Malaysian Society for Quality in Health, also saw the launch of the Patients for Patients Safety Malaysia (PFPSM) network.

On the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) which killed a man in Batu Pahat, Johor on April 13, Dr Subramaniam reiterated that the health of the Kampung Bintang villagers would be monitored until next week.

This was in line with a four-week observation period from the date the MERS-CoV victim was diagnosed with the disease on April 8, he said.

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/39e7a0d2/sc/36/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E598170Bhtml/story01.htm

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Thai army chief against use of force to end impasse

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

» Other News

 JAKARTA : Indonesian army to implement modernisation program

 MANILA: Fixing justice systemmore important than death penalty revival, says Philippine president

 JAKARTA: Illicit funds may have paid for anti-terror program in Indonesia

â�� JAKARTA: Political parties in Indonesia gear up for electoral disputes

 PUTRAJAYA: Hospital-acquired infections can affect one in 10: WHO

 ISLAMABAD: Pakistan govt ‘punishes itself’ for not paying power bills

 TAIPEI: 5 convincts executed in Taiwan

 KASHGAR, Xinjiang/BEIJING: Xi calls for ‘more effective’ anti-terror drive

 SINGAPORE: SEWOL DISASTER: Memorial hall in S’pore for victims

 TAIPEI: Activists block off Legislature exits in Taipei

 ISLAMABAD: Pakistani journalists living with death threats and violence

 JAKARTA/MEDAN: Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers to hold Labor Day rally

 KUALA LUMPUR: MH370: ‘Wreckage found’ claim to be verified

 JAKARTA: Indonesia to protest Friday prayer raid by Czech police

 

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 SINGAPORE: More in S’pore renting out homes illegally as ‘hotels’

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 BANGKOK: Thai ‘red shirts’ sticking to non-violence

 PETALING JAYA: Militant group planning attacks on M’sia, other countries

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â—� BANGKOK: ISA enforcement in Bangkok, nearby provinces by 61 days

 MANILA: No firm commitment from US to defend Philippines

 SEOUL: S. Korean president offers apology, proposes new ministry on safety affairs

 MANILA: US commitment to defend Philippines is ‘ironclad’: Obama

 KUALA LUMPUR: MH370: ‘Wreckage found’ claim to be verified

 SINGAPORE: S’pore malls, hotels told to report waste data

 TAIPEI: Taiwan, HK shouldn’t quit roles as China culture shapers

 TOKYO: Japanese firms must transform as population shrinks

 SEOUL: SEWOL DISASTER: Legal recognition sought for heroes

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Political parties in Indonesia gear up for electoral disputes

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

Publication Date : 30-04-2014

 

Political parties are expected to file electoral disputes with the Constitutional Court when the General Elections Commission (KPU) finishes its official vote count by May 9.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) liaison to the KPU Sudyatmiko Aribowo said on Tuesday that his team had found irregularities in the vote-counting in some electoral districts.

“We are preparing [to file electoral disputes] regarding some regions with the court to uphold people’s constitutional rights,” he told reporters at KPU headquarters in Central Jakarta.

“There are some [processes] that we don’t feel are working. Therefore, it is enough reason for the PDI-P to prepare electoral disputes.”

Sudyatmiko said that the PDI-P had lined up 70 lawyers to handle its electoral disputes.

“Because the process of reviewing an electoral dispute can take 14 days, there needs to be more human resources at the court sessions at the Constitutional Court,” he said.

PDI-P has also started examining the vote recapitulation (C1) forms that it received to see if they matched with the ones used in the national vote count, Sudyatmiko said.

During its investigation into the forms, PDI-P officials found irregularities and violations.

“The worst offenses involve vote-buying, not only in polling stations, but also at the village, subdistrict and district levels,” Sudyatmiko said. “There are also cases of vote inflation and depreciation, or vote
swapping.”

The PDI-P found that vote swapping cases were especially rampant among the party’s legislative candidates.

“Almost all reports that we have received are internal in nature, either cases of robbing the party��s votes or swapping one candidate’s votes for another candidate’s. And it turns out that such cases happen in all parties,” said Sudyatmiko.

Meanwhile, the NasDem Party and the Gerindra Party revealed they had also documented similar cases of vote swapping.

The two parties said they preferred to settle the cases internally.

NasDem election team head Ferry Mursyidan Baldan said the party had its own mechanism to deal with legislative candidates who tried to snatch votes illegally.

“We will annul their victory,” he told The Jakarta Post. “We chose to settle it internally because it doesn’t affect other political parties.”

Gerindra deputy secretary-general Abdul Harris Bobihoe, meanwhile, said that the party would defer to its ethics council to handle vote swapping cases.

Meanwhile, to argue electoral dispute cases at the Constitutional Court, the NasDem has formed a team of 50 lawyers led by prominent attorney OC Kaligis and former legislative candidate Taufik Basari.

 

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Indonesian army to implement modernisation program

Posted on 30 April 2014 by admin

Publication Date : 30-04񮖮

 

The Indonesian Army is planning to transform its primary weapons defence system through increased collaboration with local universities and homegrown military industries.

Army chief of staff Gen. Budiman said that the plan, which will cover 2015 through 2ǡ9, had been approved by the government and the House of Representatives.

“We have stated in our work plan submitted to the House that more funds in our budget will be allocated for the weapons system,” he said at a press conference following the unveiling of a speedboat under the project at Ancol Beach in North Jakarta on Tuesday.

Budiman said upgrading the weapons system was urgent and important as the trend in battle and warfare was to rely more on higher-speed, more accurate and better-measured weaponry.

Budiman said the House approved a total budget of 36 trillion rupiah (US$3.09 billion) for the Army this year. About 72 per cent of the budget will be spent for personnel salaries. Some 17-18 per cent is allocated for operations and maintenance and 9 per cent for weaponry and equipment.

“We are using the 9 per cent, which means around 3.5 trillion rupiah, to fund the weapons system and all research needed for that,” he said.

To prevent graft and wasteful spending in the modernisation program, Budiman said he had asked generals and high-ranking officers in the Army to sign an integrity pact to ensure that all procurement and research programs for the weapons system would be transparent and efficient.

On Tuesday, the Army unveiled a new model of speedboat called the “Komando”, built in collaboration with a group of technicians and experts from local universities, including Surya University, a campus established by prominent Indonesian scientist Yohannes Surya.

Other universities involved in the project are the Surabaya-based 10 November Institute of Technology (ITS), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the Semarang, Central Java-based University of Diponegoro (UNDIP). The Army also invited PT KKB, PT Tesco Indomaritim and PT Dok and Perkapalan Kodja Bahari Galangan IV to manufacture the boats.

Budiman said that as of now, the Army and its partners had built two of the speedboats, but planned to have another eight this year. He said that one of the boats cost 12 billion rupiah, cheaper than buying from abroad.

“Finland manufactures the same type of speedboat and it costs 24 billion rupiah, so it’s far cheaper if we build them by ourselves,” he said.

Budiman said the Army would use the speedboats to patrol border areas such as Natuna, Bangka Belitung, Aceh and East Nusa Tenggara.

The “Komando” speedboats can be operated on the high sea, coastlines, rivers and swamp areas, and have a capacity of 31 passengers and three crewmembers. “Currently, the boats can only reach a maximum of 35 knots, but we are developing newer ones that can reach 45 knots,” he added.

Also in the pipeline are programs to build laser guns, remote weapon systems, UAV/Super Drone, Integrated Optronic Defence System, Gyrocopter, Multi Rotor and Flapping Bird.

Another piece of sophisticated equipment in development by the Army and its contractors is the nanosatellite, which can be used for land-imaging and monitoring. “We plan to export more of our locally made weapons and equipment, but currently we are focusing on research and improving capability,” Budiman said.

 

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