Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

Piracy Spurs Threats to Shipping Costs

November 19, 2008

The seizure by pirates of a giant Saudi oil tanker far off the coast of Kenya could enlarge the “war risk” zone that already is lifting insurance costs for thousands of ships heading west of Africa, further raising the cost of piracy to world-wide shipping.

More vessels have begun avoiding the direct passage most often attacked by pirates and taking a much longer route around the southern tip of Africa. They’re hoping to pressure governments along the direct route, through the busy Gulf of Aden, to crack down more effectively on piracy or lose revenues from cargo-ship traffic.

By John W. Miller
The Wall Street Journal

But the unprecedented attack disclosed Monday on the MV Sirius Star, carrying $100 million worth of crude hundreds of miles from shore in the Indian Ocean, is undercutting that strategy. It could raise the cost of insurance and crews for ships that take the longer route, which already costs far more in fuel.

The boldness of the attack on the 1,080-foot Sirius Star may prompt insurers to require special “war risk” insurance costing tens of thousands of dollars a day to cover travel across a much greater area of water. It also could spur shippers to hire more onboard security for their vessels, which many have resisted because of costs and the fear of escalating armed conflicts with the pirates.

“This could be a game-changer,” says Peter Hinchliffe, maritime director of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping. “It’s no secret the whole industry is looking into this.”

Governments and shippers have sparred over who should bear responsibility for fending off the pirates, who seized 26 ships in the region during the summer alone and have collected up to $30 million in ransom so far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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Indian Navy Destroys Pirate ‘Mother Ship’ in Battle Near Somalia

November 19, 2008

NEW DELHI —  An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate “mother ship” Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats into the night, officials said, yet more violence in the lawless seas where brigands are becoming bolder and more violent.

Separate bands of pirates also seized a Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, ... 
In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, Indian warship INS Tabar, right, escorts the MV Jag Arnav ship to safety after rescuing it from a hijack attempt by Somali pirates. The Indian navy says the INS Tabar dedicated to fighting pirates has successfully fought off an attempted pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, sparking explosions and a fire on the suspected pirate ship late Tuesday, Nov. 18.(AP Photo/Indian Navy, HO, File)

“It’s getting out of control,” Choong said.

A multicoalition naval force has increased patrols in the region, and scored a rare success Tuesday when the Indian warship, operating off the coast of Oman, stopped a ship similar to a pirate vessel mentioned in numerous piracy bulletins. The Indian navy said the pirates fired on the INS Tabar after the officers asked it to stop to be searched.

INS Tabar transfers a man to another ship at sea.

“Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers,” said a statement from the Indian navy. Indian forces fired back, sparking fires and a series of onboard blasts — possibly due to exploding ammunition — and destroying the ship.

Above: Somali pirates

INS Tabar, a multipurpose frontline warship, seen in Mumbai ...

Above: Indian Navy warship Tabar  

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Thailand to burn thousands of melamine-tainted products

November 9, 2008

Thailand’s health ministry plans to burn tens of thousands of food products tainted with the toxic chemical melamine, the English-language Nation newspaper reported Sunday.

More than 13,000 boxes of powdered milk and 19,824 unspecified snacks containing high levels of melamine would be torched on Monday in Ayutthaya province, it said, quoting the Food and Drug Administration secretary-general.

Melamine, an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastics, has been blamed for killing four babies in China and leaving more than 53,000 others sick after making its way into the food chain.

Thai authorities have so far pulled biscuits, cheese crackers, chocolate and condensed milk from Malaysia and China off the shelves after detecting high levels of the chemical.


Graphic fact file on the melamine poisoning scandal in China. ...

Chinese heckle Olympic torch run protesters in Malaysia

April 21, 2008

By JULIA ZAPPEI, Associated Press Writer 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A crowd of Chinese onlookers heckled and hit a Japanese family with inflated plastic batons Monday after the three unfurled a Tibetan flag before the start of the Malaysian leg of the Olympic torch relay.

The family, comprising two adults and a boy, was detained by police, who also took a Buddhist monk and a British woman wearing a “Free-Tibet” T-shirt into custody. All five were later released.

Criticism of China‘s human rights record has turned August Beijing Olympics into one of the most contentious in recent history.

Protests have dogged the round-the-world torch relay during its stops in Paris, London and San Francisco, with demonstrations over China’s crackdown in Tibet where it forcefully put down anti-government riots.

Though the torch’s most recent legs in South America, Africa and Asia have been relatively trouble-free, host countries have beefed up security in an effort to thwart possible disruptions.

About 1,000 police stood ready to guard the relay in Malaysia against protests. A Buddhist group held special prayers at a Kuala Lumpur temple for a trouble-free torch run and a peaceful Olympics.

The president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Imran Jaafar, set off with the torch, jogging a short distance before handing it to the next runner in the relay covering 10 miles through downtown Kuala Lumpur.

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Food Security: Global Emergency

April 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Since last autumn, “food security” has moved from an issue many in the world never or hardly ever thought about to become the number one issue in life.

Food security involves having and sustaining the supply of proper food sources for entire nations and populations.

If there is any doubt that food security is a big issue, here is something of a recap of recent related news:

–The government of the Philippines said on Sunday that food security would be the number one topic in the legislative session starting Monday. The Philippines is a huge rice consumer and almost all of that rice is imported. Unfortunately, almost all of the rice supplies to the Philippines have been restricted or stopped. The result has been unrest in the streets of Manila and throughout the Philippines. Can you imagine arresting people who refuse to stop their protests because they are hungry?

–Vietnam, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter, said it would cut exports by 22% this year, following similar moves by India and Egypt. Vietnam’s inflation hit an estimated 16.4 percent in the first quarter, the highest rate in 13 years, according to government figures. Food prices were a main component of the increase, rising 21.5 percent in the January-March period compared with the same months last year.

A customer weighs rice at a sale-agent at the Voi market, 20 ...
A customer weighs rice at a sale-agent at the Voi market, 20 km (12.5 miles) south of Hanoi April 16, 2008. Fresh rice from Vietnam’s summer crop could start hitting the market a month earlier than usual, a top exporter said on Wednesday, bringing some relief to importers edgy over inflation and food security.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

–Egypt last week said that an advisor to the Commerce Minister announced a cutback in rice exports. “We have taken this decision to provide for the needs of the local market,” Sayyed Abul Komsan, advisor to Commerce Minister Mohammed Rashid, said. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the army to start baking bread after deadly riots broke out in lines of people waiting for food.

–China this week is doubling taxes on fertilizer exports to ensure supplies for domestic farmers. China also announced that it will review land use issues nation wide. China’s government now says too much land has been turned over to industrialization and the nation of 1.3 billion people can no longer adequately feed itself without changes in policy and land use.

–Malaysia’s government said Saturday it would spend four billion ringgit (1.3 billion dollars) to increase food production and tackle price hikes as the country faces spiraling global oil and food costs.

–Last month the cost of food in Cambodia rose 24%. At this rate, the cost of food will almost double every four months. Yet pay is not rising at all: especially among the poor. Cambodia’s rural poor, who make up over 80 percent of the population, are particularly at risk from inflation.

–Cuba warned the World Trade Organization on Friday that the food security of developing countries is endangered for a variety of reasons, among them the rising cost of fuel.–Oil-rich Libya is discussing a deal to essentially rent a chunk of land-rich Ukraine on which it can grow its own wheat.

–Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was forced to step down last week because of violence linked to higher food costs, and U.N. and World Bank officials warn that more unrest is likely.

–France, sparked in part by unrest in Haiti, released $100 million (USD) in food aid to poorer nations.

A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double ...
A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double its food aid this year, spending 60 million euros (100 million dollars) as part of its response to the world crisis over soaring food prices, President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.(AFP/File/Dominique Faget)

–France’s action followed a release of $200 million in food aid by President Bush exactly one week ago today.

“A lot of countries are in trouble right now,” said Lester Brown, veteran environmentalist and president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. “We’re seeing various efforts made by countries to ensure they have the food inputs they need.”

On Sunday United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The problem of global food prices could mean seven lost years … for the Millennium Development Goals.  We risk being set back to square one.”

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton pick at each other without much addressing American issues, in the rest of the world the big issue is quickly becoming: How will we feed ourselves?

Malaysia to spend $1.3B to tackle inflation, food security

April 19, 2008

Today Online (Malaysia)

Malaysia’s government said Saturday it would spend four billion ringgit (1.3 billion dollars) to increase food production and tackle price hikes as the country faces spiralling global oil and food costs.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he would also set up a high-level anti-inflation committee to tackle these issues, state news agency Bernama reported. However, he did not say how the money would be allocated. 
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Anger over rising food and fuel prices was a key issue in general elections last month, and one of the factors credited with Abdullah’s ruling coalition facing its worst performance in its half-century history.

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Olympic torch relay brings China woe rather than glory

April 19, 2008

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

BEIJING — The Olympic torch relay was meant to kick off China‘s moment in the sun, but it’s turned into a public relations fiasco with ever-larger squads of police in foreign capitals shielding the torch from protesters.

People visit Japan's Buddhist Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, ...
People visit Japan’s Buddhist Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, central Japan. Monks at the ancient Japanese Buddhist temple on Friday pulled out of hosting a ceremony for the protest-marred Olympic torch relay because of China’s crackdown in Tibet.(AFP/JIJI PRESS)

China has given no sign that it will cut short the relay, which continues its 21-city global odyssey Saturday in Bangkok, Thailand , and Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia .

Yet frustration has set in that the troubled torch relay may signal further minefields ahead for the Summer Games on Aug. 8-24 , and a loss of face for China rather than a boost for the world’s most populous nation.

“All that has happened is a kind of humiliation,” said Hu Xingdou, a political analyst at the Beijing Institute of Technology . “The government never expected this.”

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People holding Tibetan flags demonstrate on March 31 in Lyon, ...
People holding Tibetan flags demonstrate on March 31 in Lyon, southeastern France, to denounce the Chinese clampdown in Tibet. China said that protesters were out to hijack the Olympic Games as the torch relay embarked on a world tour that ignited demonstrations world wide.(AFP/Jean-Philippe Ksiazek)


Thailand Braces for Unrest As Olympic Torch Approaches

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Hundreds of Thai police braced for another round of anti-China protests on Saturday as the Olympic torch was readied for its parade through Bangkok, the latest leg of its troubled tour from Greece to Beijing.

Several groups angry at Beijing’s human rights record and its rule in Tibet are planning demonstrations but will meet no opposition from police as long as they remain orderly, Thai Olympic chief General Yuthasak Sasiprapa said.

“If they are peaceful, it’s OK,” he told Reuters. “But we will not tolerate any violent or illegal protests. The torch and runners will be tightly escorted by police patrols and motorcycles all along the route.”

The 10.5-km (6.5-mile) relay is due to start at 0800 GMT in the capital’s China Town — a reflection of Thailand‘s close social ties to its giant regional neighbor — before proceeding past the golden-spired Grand Palace.

The main protest during the procession will be outside the regional headquarters of the United Nations, where a dozen pro-democracy groups say they will demonstrate against China‘s crackdown on unrest in Tibet in March.

Police Special Branch officers say they are also aware of a move by local supporters of Falun Gong, the religious group outlawed by Beijing, to voice their opposition to the Games, which open in Beijing on August 8.

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A police car is parked in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok ...
A police car is parked in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok on April 18, 2008. The troubled Olympic torch relay arrived in Thailand on Friday, as more controversy erupted when one of the Japanese hosts dropped out in protest over China’s crackdown in Tibet.(AFP/Nicolas Asfouri)

Singapore new destination for Vietnamese labor

March 20, 2008

By Manh Duong and Nguyen Thuy
Thanh Nien
Vietnam National Youth Federation
March 20, 2008

Singapore has emerged as an attractive labor market for Vietnam, offering workers high salaries and good working conditions.  

The number of Vietnamese workers in Singapore was still modest, said Tran Quoc Ninh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Labor Export Association, but the island-nation would surely become an important labor market in the very near future.

The Overseas Manpower Service Company (SULECO) recently clinched a deal to send 70 workers to Singapore, SULECO deputy director Tran Van Thanh said.

They would work as restaurant assistant managers, sales managers, delivery men and postmen, and get salaries of SGD1,400 to 1,800 (US$1,000 to 1,300) per month, the highest salaries Vietnamese workers got anywhere in Asia, he said.

Singapore has so far been hiring personnel from countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for such jobs.

United Micro Electronics Corporation was the first Singaporean company to recruit skilled workers through the Vietnamese labor agency Sovilaco last year.

The recruitment tendencies have changed due to three main factors: Vietnam’s trade promotion activities since its admission to the World Trade Organization, the successful operation of the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park in Binh Duong Province, and the capabilities of Vietnamese students and workers.

The female workers supplied by Sovilaco said they had found perfect working conditions and there had been no conflicts or incidents.

The workers at United Micro Electronics, for instance, get a lot of benefits, ranging from high allowances and free housing to access to the gym and the Internet.

Other traditional markets rarely offer such working and living conditions.

Last year, 107 Vietnamese laborers died in Malaysia and one-third of the deaths were believed to stem from heart and respiratory diseases.

The statistics have had a strong effect on many Vietnamese workers who were planning to work in Malaysia.

According to the Vietnamese Overseas Labor Management Bureau, the target of sending 26,000 guest workers to Malaysia this year may not be achieved.

The bureau added it expected to send 10,000 guest workers to new markets in the Middle East, mainly the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, this year.

More than 470,000 Vietnamese nationals are working in 40 countries and territories around the world.

Vietnam, China Still At Odds Over Resources, Territory

January 9, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 9, 2008

China and Vietnam are engaged in a long-standing dispute over territory and resources in the South China Sea. Both China and Vietnam claim ownership of the Spratley Islands group.
A Chinese patrol boat. Vietnam has protested over Chinese military exercises in the disputed Paracel archipelago and reasserted its claim over the islands.
(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

Recently the intensity of the dispute came to a boil so intense that expatriate Vietnamese in the U.S. joined with their countrymen at home in objecting to China’s actions and intentions.

The Spratly Islands, a string of rocky outcrops in the South China Sea suspected of spanning large oil and gas deposits, are also claimed by Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

China seized the Paracel Islands, a set of islets just north of the Spratly group, in 1974 and has occupied them since despite Vietnamese protests. But in 1974, Vietnam was in no position to contest China effectively. Hanoi was planning the takeover of South Vietnam and its capitol, Saigon, lay fixed in its sights. China exploited the Vietnamese during the war in Vietnam – then later said “Why did Vietnam not protest louder in 1974?”

Vietnam has long been wary of its bigger Asian neighbor and in 1979 the two countries fought a border war.

Chinese and Vietnamese forces clashed in the South China Sea in 1988 and 1992, and on both occasions the Chinese emerged victorious. Both countries have put forward historical and archeological evidence to support their claims in the disputed waters, and China has produced historical records showing it sent naval expeditions to the Spratleys as early as in 110 A.D.

In June, 2007, British Petroleum (BP) Plc halted plans to conduct exploration work off the southern Vietnamese coast, citing the territorial tensions. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Vietnam was stirring up trouble by agreeing with BP and its partners to develop the area.

On November 20, 2007, the government of China endorsed a resolution to establish an administrative city at county level named “Tam Sa”, which consists of three archipelagoes of Hoang Sa, Trung Sa (MacClesfield Bank, a submerged reefs of 6,250 square kilometers located on the east and about 250 km from the center of Hoang Sa), and Truong Sa, directly dependent on the province of Hai Nam. This province was established in 1988 after it was separated from the province of Quang Dong. Due to the sensitivity of the subject, the resolution has not been publicly released.

Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratleys) are located offshore of Vietnam.

In December, 2007, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference, “China asserts indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands.”

He added, “Recently in Vietnam there have been developments unfavorable to friendly ties between China and Vietnam, and we are highly concerned.”

Qin said Hanoi had to take steps to “prevent further developments and avoid harming bilateral relations.”

Mr. Qin Gang was undoubtedly referring to a dip in relations between China and Vietnam over the issue of the islands. Late last year, hundreds of Vietnamese youths staged public protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in response to the decision by the Chinese government to establish a new administrative city with control over the three archipelagos in the South China Sea, two of which are also claimed by Vietnam.

Bloggers in Vietnam launched upon a vocal and long-
term campaign of criticizing China as a result of the Spratleys issue. The noise made by the bloggers was so intense that China assumed the government of Vietnam had supported or at least sanctioned the activity.

A Vietnamese protestor demonstrates against a Chinese move to exert control over two disputed archipelagos 

China’s actions in the South
China Sea sparked protests
in Vietnam

The people of Vietnam have a deep sense that the
larger bully is getting away with victimizing the smaller
and less powerful neighbor.  In a sense, the Vietnamese
now understand how the Chinese in Taiwan feel about their large communist neighbor.

The issue between Vietnam and China remains unresolved and at this writing there is no clear path toward a resolution.  This means there is a simmering disagreement in the South China Sea that the international community ignores at its own peril.

Vietnam: Anti-China Rallies Worry Beijing

An Open Letter on China and Vietnam

3 big threats to China’s economic miracle

December 20, 2007

By Jim Jubak
MSN Investing

To many people in the United States, the China story goes like this: A huge emerging industrial power eats U.S. jobs and buries the U.S. economy under a mountain of cheap imports while erecting barriers to U.S. goods. The only suspense in that story is whether America will fight back or simply roll over.That storys easy to grasp, and theres enough real pain in the U.S. economy these days over lost jobs to China to give it emotional clout.

Unfortunately, its wrong.

It’s much more complicated
That story is too narrowly focused on the relationship between the United States and China. In fact, China (with a big assist from other big-population developing economies such as India and Vietnam) is a leading player in a global economic makeover that presents much of the rest of the world with challenges that dwarf any U.S. problems.

And the ending of ….

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