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Mahathir confident of ruling coalition’s victory in May general election

Mahathir Mohammed longest serving Malay PM

Mahathir Mohammed longest serving Malay PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 (Xinhua) — Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, has expressed confidence that the ruling coalition will retain power in the upcoming general election to be held in May.

Speaking at a talk show aired on a local channel late Wednesday, Mahathir said he is sure that the ruling coalition, National Front, will win Malaysia’s 13th general election, which is widely deemed as the least predictable since the country’s independence in 1957.

However, he was cautious on National Front’s chance to retake the two-thirds majority in parliament that it lost in the previous election in 2008.

“The chance is 50-50, but the National Front will definitely perform better than in 2008,” he said.

The 87-year-old has been campaigning vigorously across the country for the National Front and its dominant component party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

He has also engaged with the opposition in war of words, urging some senior opposition leaders to retire “as he did.”

Mahathir stepped down in 2003 after 22 years of premiership. Mahathir is likely to win hearts of many of voters of the Malay majority for the ruling coalition with his charisma, but he may also alienate some non-Malay voters with his pro-Malay comments.

Lim Kit Siang, a senior opposition figure, has urged Mahathir to stop “race-baiting and inciting communal sentiments.”

Mahathir’s active campaigning in the run-up to the general election this year serves as a sharp contraction to the election in 2008, when he was opposing his successor and then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Mahathir quit UMNO later the year, only rejoined after Abdullah stepped down a year later.

The opposition alliance is now headed by Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir’s former deputy. Anwar fell out with Mahathir in 1998 and was thrown into jail for corruption and sodomy charges.


Thai Govt warns against defying ICJ ruling

Surapong denies giving up Preah Vihear fight
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has come under criticism for his ‘no-win’ remark involving the border dispute with Cambodia.
Bangkokpost 5-01-2013

Thais should be wary of the consequences if they want to defy the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on the Preah Vihear temple, the Foreign Ministry warned Friday.

Army commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha: “We are neighbours, we must live together peacefully. Nobody wants fighting.”

Chan-Ocha: We'll fight to defend our sovereignty,if invaded

Chan-Ocha: We’ll fight to defend our sovereignty,if invaded

As a member of the international community, Thailand must comply with whatever decision is issued by the court in the Hague in October, it said Friday.

Cambodia has asked the ICJ to clarify its 1962 ruling on the dispute surrounding the border temple.

The court ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia, but some territory around it has been contested by both countries since.

PAD’s ‘patriots’: Government traitors

The ministry’s warning comes after public criticism of remarks by Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul in which he suggested the court case was a “no-win” situation for Thailand.

He said late last month he was pursuing the case with a heavy heart.

“If we lose the case, we lose it [territory]. Even if we don’t lose the case, it goes back to square one. That is, the temple belongs to Cambodia and the area surrounding it remains as it is,” Mr Surapong said.

The minister denied media accusations he had a vested interest in seeing the dispute go Cambodia’s way, or was unenthusiastic about fighting the case.

Cambodia will present an oral statement to the judges on April 15 and Thailand on April 19. The court is likely to give its ruling in October.

“My government and I want peace and stability and we never let our guard down,” Mr Surapong said.

“If the people would like to fight, we will certainly do so. But bear in mind that we are neighbours, situated side by side, and can’t just be cut apart,” he said.

The foreign minister on Friday chaired a meeting of the committee representing Thailand in the case, comprising the defence minister, army chief, attorney-general, the Royal Thai Survey Department, the Council of State.

“We have been arguing all along the ICJ should not tamper with old verdicts. But from now on, we are preparing the public to accept whatever the verdict will be,” Mr Surapong said.

He said the public should understand the consequences if Thailand chooses not to comply with the ICJ, particularly the likely trade and economic impacts.

He was concerned that anti-government, nationalistic forces were exploiting and politicising the ICJ issue.

Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat said the temple issue was sensitive and the government should take a united stand to avoid confusing the public.

Personally, he said, he was confident the ICJ’s ruling in October would be the same as its earlier one.

He said the media and the public should not be pessimistic. “We should lend moral support to each other. The government is prepared.”

He agreed Thailand must comply with the ICJ ruling.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said that as a military officer who is duty-bound to defend the country’s sovereignty, he is ready to fight if the country’s territory is invaded.

“But as we are neighbours, we must live together peacefully. Nobody wants fighting,” he said.

Virachai Palasai, ambassador to the Netherlands, said an oral hearing was complementary to the written statement that both nations have presented to the Hague. The Hindu temple, not the surrounding territory, would be the object of the verdict since the court had been asked to re-interpret its old verdict.

“We should not take it as losing or winning,” said Mr Virachai, who said his legal team, comprising himself, head of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department, three foreign lawyers and two foreign assistants, has received full support from the Yingluck government.

“We have been working with technical and legal experts and no one has interfered in our work,” he said.

He was appointed under the previous government.

Four scenarios could emerge from the ruling, Mr Virachai said. The court might declare it has no jurisdiction, or decide in favour of Thailand or Cambodia, or in favour of both sides, he said.

“As members of the the United Nations, both countries have to comply with the decision, however it comes out,” he said. “If not, the UN Security Council might be asked to make either side abide by the ruling,” the Hague-based ambassador said.

Tearful Obama Credits Staff for History-Books Campaign…Powerful nation leader was in grateful tears

President Obama: “I’m Really Proud of All of You.”

ABC News 11-8-2012
The morning after he won re-election, an emotional President Barack Obama credited his youthful staff of several hundred with running a campaign that will “go on in the annals of history.”

“What you guys have accomplished will go on in the annals of history and they will read about it and they’ll marvel about it,” said Obama told his team Wednesday morning inside the Chicago campaign headquarters, tears streaming down his face.

“The most important thing you need to know is that your journey’s just beginning. You’re just starting. And whatever good we do over the next four years will pale in comparison to whatever you guys end up accomplishing in the years and years to come,” he said.

The moment, captured by the Obama campaign’s cameras and posted online, offers a rare glimpse at the president unplugged and emotional. During the first four years of his presidency, Obama has never been seen publicly crying.

He first came to Chicago, he told the campaign staff, “knowing that somehow I wanted to make sure that my life attached itself to helping kids get a great education or helping people living in poverty to get decent jobs and be able to work and have dignity. And to make sure that people didn’t have to go to the emergency room to get health care.”

“The work that I did in those communities changed me much more than I changed those communities because it taught me the hopes and aspirations and the grit and resilience of ordinary people,” he said, as senior strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina looked on. “And it taught me the fact that under the surface differences, we all have common hopes and we all have common dreams. And it taught me something about how I handle disappointment and what it meant to work hard on a common endeavor, and I grew up.”

“So when I come here and I look at all of you, what comes to mind is, it’s not that you guys remind me of myself, it’s the fact that you are so much better than I was in so many ways. You’re smarter, you’re so better organized, you’re more effective,” he said.

Obama said he expected many of those who helped to re-elect him will assume new roles in progressive politics, calling that prospect a “source of my strength and inspiration.”

Senior campaign officials said Thursday that the Obama campaign infrastructure – the field offices and network of hundreds of thousands of volunteers – would undergo a period of transition in the coming weeks to determine how to remain sustainable and influential.

“We have remarkable staff, and the campaign that Jim [Messina] put together, you know, is the best in history,” said senior Obama adviser David Plouffe. “But the reason those people got involved was because they believed in Barack Obama. It was the relationship between them and our candidate.”–abc-news-politics.html

Written by Kham

09/11/2012 at 7:24 pm

Russia’s leaders criticized at Stalin commemorations…similarly to Cambodia’s Sihanouk

Relatives of Josef Stalin’s victims say Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders should have attended the annual tribute honoring the millions who died during Stalin’s rule.

30 October 2012
(Reuters) MOSCOW – Relatives of Josef Stalin’s victims commemorated the Soviet dictator’s repression on Tuesday and many condemned Russia’s leaders for not taking part.

Millions of people were executed or sent to prison camps under Stalin’s rule, but while thousands paid tribute to the dead at annual ceremonies on Monday and Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin stayed away.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev condemned Stalin in a blog, saying: “Josef Stalin and other leaders of the Soviet state at the time deserve the harshest assessment. It must remain in the annals of our history so that it never happens again. Because war with one’s own people is a very serious crime.”

But Medvedev, too, did not attend any ceremony, revealing the problems Russia has coming to terms with Stalin’s three-decade rule until his death in 1953 when the Soviet Union was the only global superpower to rival the United States.

“Our government does not like this kind of memory and that is why it keeps silent,” said Anna Volkova, a 31-year-old teacher attending a ceremony on Monday outside the Lyubanka building in Moscow that once housed Stalin’s security police, the KGB.

“It’s uncomfortable to live with such history.”

Memorial, a rights group that has archived Stalin’s repressions, has proposed that all political leaders mark the day, which has been held each year for two decades.

Yelena Sus, 24, whose grandfather was executed in 1938 and whose mother was born in a prison for political criminals, called for a gesture to acknowledge the crimes.

“Our country’s leaders have not yet apologized for this nightmare,” she said, while waiting her turn to read out her grandfather’s name, a candle in her hand.

“In our country we keep saying ‘Nazis tortured people’ – but we were no better.”

Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 2000, has condemned the crimes of the Stalin era and described the Soviet system as totalitarian.

He took part in a 70th anniversary commemoration of a 1940 massacre by Soviet troops of 22,000 Polish officers and intellectuals at Katyn forest in what was then the western Soviet Union.

But Putin has also praised Stalin’s role in the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two. Other Russians still laud him for the country’s rapid industrialization.


More than a third of Russians either do not believe the political repressions happened or are not sure, according to a poll by the FOM research group, and only 43 percent hold Stalin personally responsible.

Nearly half of Russians regard Stalin’s historical role as positive, according to another poll. Only 22 percent said his role was very negative – a third of the number 25 years ago.

Leonid Gudkov, head of the Levada Center which conducted that poll, says melodramatic movies and books in recent years have trivialized the Stalin era. He also criticized history education.

A high-school textbook, compiled with the help of a historian from Putin’s United Russia party, says repressions were a common occurrence under Stalin but also says that a lack of democratization after 1945 was a consequence of threats from the West during the Cold War.

Some Russians at the ceremonies said Russia continued to have a climate of political repression, citing the jailing of the Pussy Riot punk band over an anti-Putin protest in a church, and growing pressure on the opposition.

“If I were taking part in a public meeting today as a high-ranking official, I would be afraid to talk to people, who would ask me …. what about the current political repressions?” said Valentin Gefter, a member of the Kremlin’s council on human rights.

Some Russians demand more openness about the past and more freedom in the future.

“The authorities must explain the fate of every person who went missing,” said Viktor, an 82-year-old whose father disappeared in 1937. “We are intimidated – we were born trembling and we tremble now.”

Khmer Language Use on Media Discussed…XO in action

Ong Kanharith must be really drunk to confuse in such matter as so important than his father language,tien viet
AKP Phnom Penh, October 26, 2012 –

The Ministry of Information in collaboration with the National Council for Khmer Language (NCKL) organized here on Oct. 25 a workshop on Khmer Language Use for Media.

The opening ceremony of the one-day workshop was presided over by Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith and NCKL Chairman H.E. Prum Mol, while the closing ceremony by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers H.E. Sok An at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Campus II.

The purpose of the workshop was to advise journalists and TV and radio anchors to use and write Khmer language properly because they have great impacts on the public on the way Khmer language is spoken and written, said H.E. Prum Mol.

Therefore, proper controlling and use are required because language use on media is very crucial in deed for Khmer preservation, he underlined.

For his part, H.E. Khieu Kanharith said the Khmer language use on media is a very significant task, so NCKL has tried to do research and sought to find unified agreement for the common and correct wording.

H.E. Khieu Kanharith also requested NCKL to compile and publish as much as possible available documents already edited and agreed for the research of journalists, as well as TV and radio anchors and students to be aware of the proper use of Khmer language.

H.E. Khieu Kanharith further asked the TV and radio anchors to work together to form an association so as to easily communicate and exchange experience.

Written by Kham

26/10/2012 at 8:39 pm

Death toll tops 100 in Myanmar ethnic strife

Burma civil war among ethnics

By KHIN MAUNG WIN | Associated Press – 49 mins ago
SITTWE, Myanmar (AP) — The death toll from recent ethnic violence in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine has surpassed 100, an official said Friday, as the government warned that the strife risks harming the country’s reputation as it seeks to install democratic rule.

Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said 112 people had been killed in six townships in clashes that began Sunday between members of the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya communities. He said 72 people were reported injured, including 10 children.

The government announced earlier that almost 2,000 homes had been burned down in the conflict.

In June, ethnic violence in the state left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. About 75,000 have been living in refugee camps ever since.

A resident of another township, Ramree, said there also was violence there Friday morning.

“There were some clashes between the two sides in Ramree this morning,” Kyaw Win, 30, said by phone.

“Residents are very fearful of imminent attacks by the Muslim community because security presence is very little. We don’t feel safe. We want the Bengalis to be moved away from the Rakhine community,” Kyaw Win said. Rakhine prefer to use the term Bengali for Rohingya, whom they contend are not a distinct ethnic group.

Kyaw Win said that a few houses had been burned down but that no casualties were reported.

The mob violence has seen entire villages torched and has drawn calls worldwide for government intervention.

“As the international community is closely watching Myanmar’s democratic transition, such unrest could tarnish the image of the country,” said a statement from the office of President Thein Sein published Friday in the state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper.

Thein Sein took office as an elected president last year, and has instituted economic and political liberalization after almost half a century of repressive military rule.

“The army, police and authorities in cooperation with local people will try to restore peace and stability and will take legal action against any individual or organization that is trying to instigate the unrest,” the statement warned.

The long-brewing conflict is rooted in a dispute over the Muslim residents’ origin. Although many Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are widely denigrated as intruders who came from neighboring Bangladesh to steal scarce land.

The U.N. estimates their population in Myanmar at 800,000. But the government does not count them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups, and so — like neighboring Bangladesh — denies them citizenship. Human rights groups say racism also plays a role: Many Rohingya, who speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Muslim Bangladeshis, have darker skin and are heavily discriminated against.

A statement issued late Thursday by the office of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the latest violence as “deeply troubling.” Ban called on Myanmar authorities “to take urgent and effective action to bring under control all cases of lawlessness.”

“The vigilante attacks, targeted threats and extremist rhetoric must be stopped,” Ban said. “If this is not done, the fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardized.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was deeply concerned about the reports and urged restraint.

In a hospital in Sittwe, the state capital not yet hit by the latest round of violence, an Associated Press photographer talked to four wounded people brought in from the affected areas. Aung Moe Khaing, 25, was wounded in an arm and a leg, saying he was shot Tuesday when soldiers dispersed the crowd.

Phyu Thein Maung, 39, from Yathetaung township, said he was shot in the buttocks.

“Muslims provoked us from inside their village and challenged us from their community, guarded by soldiers,” he said. “People were very angry as they shot iron spikes at us with catapults and made abusive gestures. I was hit by a gunshot when soldiers dispersed the crowd.”

There have been concerns in the past that soldiers were failing to protect the Rohingya community, but accounts this time from Rakhine villagers suggest that Myanmar’s military may have been defending the Rohingya.

The crisis has proven a major challenge to Thein Sein’s government and to opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticized by some outsiders as failing to speak out strongly against what they see as repression of the Rohingya.

The U.N. warned Thursday that the crisis had sent a new wave of refugees to seek shelter in camps already overcrowded with 75,000 people from the June violence.

Bangladesh has put its border guards on alert, fearing a new influx of Rohingya refugees.

On Thursday, Bangladesh border guards turned away 45 Rohingya trying to enter into Bangladesh by boats, said Lt. Col. Khalequzzaman, a border commander. Local police chief Selim Mohammad Jahangir said Friday that at least another 3,000 Rohingya Muslims had been spotted on about 40 boats on the Naaf River off Bangladesh’s Tekhnaf coast.

He said the boats may try to enter Bangladesh, but “we have instructions not to let them come here.”

Bangladesh says it’s too poor to accept more refugees and feed them. Bangladesh is hosting about 30,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar to escape government atrocities in 1991.


Associated Press writer Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.

Written by Kham

26/10/2012 at 8:11 pm

Asian-Americans could impact presidential race

Joe Watkins, who was an aide to President George H.W. Bush, says there is one common denominator: “Asian-Americans like everyone else just want to be considered Americans, and when candidates reach out to them as such, as American voters, I think they’re thrilled by that.” (sic! Politicians do not take Asians seriously)

By NBC’s Richard Lui

There are plenty of different voter groups for campaigns to court during this presidential election and, this year, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders could impact the outcome in a significant way. In what has been a tight race, a relatively minor investment in these voters could pay large dividends for President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

There are three characteristics to consider about this slice of the electorate:

Swing State Population Levels

First, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have reached tipping-point population levels in battleground states.

For example, in Florida, Asian-Americans (single and mixed race) are 3 percent of the population, according to the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice — small, but Obama won the state by just 2.5 percentage points in 2008. In Nevada, Asian-Americans are 9 percent of the population; Obama won by 12.4 percentage points. And in Virginia, where they are 7 percent; Obama won by 6.3 percentage points.

Another way to look at it is to total the popular margin of victory Obama had in 2008 in the nine NBC News battleground states. That’s almost 1.6 million votes. The Asian-American population in those states in 2010 was 2.3 million. After removing children under the age 18, or about 25 percent of the population, the number of Asian-Americans in those states is greater than Obama’s 2008 margin of victory in these crucial states.

Though 100 percent turnout and voting unanimity is highly unlikely, Virginia and North Carolina epitomize the opportunity. Until Virginia swung blue in 2008, Republican candidates hadn’t lost the state since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. In North Carolina, up until 2008, Democrats had won only one in the previous 10 elections; Obama eked out a win by only 14,000 votes. In cases like these, smaller voting blocks, like Asian-Americans tilt the outcome

Undecided votersA second characteristic to consider: Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders this year are over four times more likely to be undecided than the average voter, according to the National Asian American Survey. Jon Stewart from “The Daily Show” joked, after all the press and debate to date, you’d have to basically live in a cave not to have been able to make a choice by now. So is it that Asian-Americans are four times more aloof when it comes to politics? Though they do register to vote at a lower rate than average, 2012 is different.

Video: Obama surrogate answers town hall questions from Asian-American voters (search for Obama)

Sixty-two percent of them voted for Obama four years ago. But this year, the economy continues to be the biggest issue in the campaign and Asian Americans who own businesses are considering their options.

Democrat Haresh Bhungalia is undecided. “You have one candidate who wants to raise taxes, which I think is appropriate – I think that that’s necessary in order for us to get back on track. And then we’ve got one candidate talking about cutting government spending. I think that you have to do both,” Bhungalia said.

Immigration reform is the other top issue Bhungalia cares about. It’s been delayed. Like him, three out of four Asian-American adults were born in a foreign country and are watching the debate on immigration.

The outreach to voters like Bhungalia has not matched the potential payoff. A recent study by APIAVote in association with Lake Research Partners found 23 percent of Asian-Americans had been contacted by the Democratic Party, and 17 percent by the Republican Party, in the last two years. Some community leaders believe both Obama and Romney could do more. Mee Moua of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice in Washington, D.C. says Asian-Americans need to be considered.

“As we head toward election day, candidates and political parties will step up their voter engagement efforts,” said Moua. “Those who want to succeed will recognize the importance of the Asian-American voter. Those who ignore us, do so at their own peril.”

At APIAVote’s Presidential Town Hall in Fairfax, Va., in July, neither candidate showed up, sending videos and surrogates instead. The Romney campaign had bumper stickers in several different Asian languages, and both Obama and Romney have Asian-American outreach information on their campaign websites.

Donation RatesA third consideration:
Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are not afraid to use their economic muscle. (Despite being half to a third the size, the group’s combined consumer and business spending power of almost $1.2 trillion equals African-Americans and just trails Latinos.) They equaled whites for the highest rate of donation to political campaigns in the last election: 13 percent. This was higher than African-Americans (8 percent) and Latino-Americans (5 percent). As the economy faltered, Asian-Americans so far this cycle have donated at 11 percent.

These characteristics might be attractive to candidates, but there are challenges. This group is complex: representing 49 different countries of origin and more than 100 languages. And the community leaders don’t always coordinate well given their varied backgrounds and histories.

Video: Romney surrogate answers town hall questions from Asian-American voters (search for Romney)

Joe Watkins, who was an aide to President George H.W. Bush, says there is one common denominator: “Asian-Americans like everyone else just want to be considered Americans, and when candidates reach out to them as such as American voters, I think they’re thrilled by that.”

After the landmark 2008 election, enthusiasm has ebbed. Voter ID and registration law battles across the country have cast concerns. And in places like Florida, early registration levels are less than half what they were four years ago. With such serious questions about turnout, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders could be 2012’s ultimate swing vote.

Written by Kham

09/10/2012 at 6:54 pm