Items filtered by date: Friday, 23 August 2019
The protesters braved a downpour on Sunday to once again jam the streets of Hong Kong
 
The head of a group of leading German companies doing business in Asia has called for peaceful dialogue to end the stand-off in Hong Kong.
 
Joe Kaeser, the head of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), who also leads German industrial giant Siemens, said German business leaders were following the situation in Hong Kong with concern.
 
“The differing positions should be discussed in a non-violent dialogue based on current law and solutions should be developed,” Kaeser told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in comments published on Friday.
 
He expressed the hope for a swift joint resolution.
 
According to the APA, there are more than 600 German firms in Hong Kong.
 
German companies have so far refrained from commenting on the situation there amidst escalating tension between pro-democracy protesters and authorities.
 
There have been massive protests in Hong Kong since June, against a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to China.
 
Protesters have frequently clashed with police and accused officers of using excessive force.
 
Over the weekend, more than 1 million people marched peacefully through the city, which is home to 7.5 million people.
 
Unlike in previous weeks, there were no major incidents and demonstrators did not set up barricades.
 
Further, smaller protests are expected this weekend, while organizers are gearing up for a major protest event on Aug. 31.
 
Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997, is guaranteed a degree of independence under the “one country, two systems” principle.
 
However, that arrangement is set to expire in 2047, and many fear for the city’s future, dpa news reported.
 
Published in Business
A United Nations human rights expert on Friday accused Malaysia of having “vastly undercounted poverty” by using an “unduly low poverty line” and by “excluding vulnerable populations from its official figures.”
 
Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said that Malaysia achieved “undeniably impressive growth in reducing poverty in the last 50 years.”
 
However, he said, “the official claim that poverty has been eradicated, or exists merely in small pockets in rural areas, is incorrect and has crippled policy making.”
 
Official statistics suggest Malaysia’s official poverty rate dropped from 49 per cent in 1970 to 0.4 per cent in 2016. However, the percentage is calculated off a poverty line of RM 980 (235 dollars) per household per month – a figure Alston called “tragically low.”
 
“Actual poverty rates are much higher than official figures suggest, and the Government needs to reassess how it measures poverty,” Alston said in a report published following an 11-day fact-finding mission.
 
He said the under-counting had led to “underinvestment in poverty reduction and an inadequate social safety net that does not meet people’s needs,” he added.
 
Alston pointed to indigenous communities, migrant workers, refugees and the stateless as groups that had been “systematically excluded from official poverty statistics.”
 
Alston’s findings corroborate a 2018 report by non-profit Khazanah Research Institute that found structural weaknesses in official poverty measures and said that poverty statistics would be higher if the index was adjusted to reflect reality, News reported.
 
Published in World
Russia will launch the world’s first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region.
 
Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia.
 
Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
 
But environmental groups have long warned of the dangers of the project, dubbing it a potential “Chernobyl on ice” and a “nuclear Titanic.”
 
A deadly explosion this month at a military testing site in Russia’s far north, causing a radioactive surge, has prompted further concerns.
 
The reactor’s trip is expected to last between four and six weeks, depending on the weather conditions and the amount of ice on the way.
 
Work began on the 144-metre (472-foot) Akademik Lomonosov in Saint Petersburg in 2006.
 
When it arrives in Pevek, a town of 5,000 in the Siberian region of Chukotka, it will replace a local nuclear plant and a closed coal plant.
 
It is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region’s oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.
 
Rashid Alimov, the head of the energy sector of Greenpeace Russia, said environmental groups had been critical of the idea of a floating reactor since the 1990s.
 
“Any nuclear power plant produces radioactive waste and can have an accident, but Akademik Lomonosov is additionally vulnerable to storms,” he told AFP.
 
The float is towed by other vessels, making a collision during a storm more likely, he said.
 
Because Rosatom plans to store spent fuel onboard, Alimov said “any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic.”
 
He added that there is “no infrastructure for a nuclear clean up” in the region.
 
Global warming and melting ice has made the Northeast Passage — which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along Russia’s northern coast — more accessible.
 
The Akademik Lomonosov weighs 21,000 tons and has two reactors with a capacity of 35 megawatts each, close to that of those used by nuclear icebreakers.
 
It has a crew of 69 and travels at a speed of 3.5 to 4.5 knots.
 
Alimov said the project was a missed opportunity as Chukotka, a region larger than Texas populated by only 50,000 people, “has a huge potential for the development of wind energy.”
 
“A floating nuclear power plant is a too risky and too expensive way of producing electricity,” he said.
 
The nuclear industry, seeking to reinvent itself in a gloomy market, is developing smaller, cheaper reactors to attract new customers.
 
They follow the examples of submarines, icebreakers and aircraft carriers, which have long used nuclear power, and are intended for isolated areas with little infrastructure.
 
Published in World
Malaysian authorities on Friday said they had seized nearly 3.7 tonnes of ketamine and cocaine worth about USD 161 million in the country’s biggest drugs haul to date.
 
Malaysia is a key transit point for illegal narcotics, with authorities seizing record amounts of crystal methamphetamine in the past year.
 
About 467 kg (0.47 tonnes) of ketamine stored in sacks were found at a shophouse in Puncak Alam, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, during a joint raid by customs and police on Aug. 18, Customs director general Paddy Abdul Halim told reporters.
 
The discovery was followed by the arrest and interrogation of suspects who then led the team to another shop, where 3,200 kg (3.2 tonnes) of cocaine was found.
 
The ketamine was believed to have been shipped to Malaysia from Pakistan, while the cocaine originated from Ecuador, Paddy said.
 
“Initial investigations show that the suspected drugs were meant for export to a third country,” he said.
 
The drugs confiscated were estimated to be worth about 676 million ringgit (USD 161.41 million), he said.
 
Authorities detained four Malaysians and nine foreigners during the operation.
Published in Business
  1. Opinions and Analysis

Calender

« August 2019 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31