Women take ‘top three spots’ in Norway government

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, left, walks with newly-appointed Minister for EEA and EU Affairs, Marit Berger Rosland, second left, Minister of Defense, Frank Bakke-Jensen, second right, and Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide outside the Norwegian Castle on October 20, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2017
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Women take ‘top three spots’ in Norway government

OSLO: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Friday announced a cabinet reshuffle putting women in “the top three spots” of government.
Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide was named the country’s new foreign minister to replace her male colleague Borge Brende, who is stepping down to take over as president of the World Economic Forum.
Soreide, 41, is the first woman to become the top diplomat in NATO member Norway.
She joins Solberg and Finance Minister Siv Jensen in holding “the top three spots” in the right-wing government, according to the expression used by Norwegian media.
“We’re not the first in the world but it is a page in Norway’s history that is being written,” Solberg said at a press conference.
The Philippines, Switzerland and Liberia have already had such a constellation, she noted.
Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Norway is a pioneer when it comes to gender equality: back in 1986, the Labour government of female prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland had almost as many women cabinet members as men, with eight out of 18.
Solberg also announced that Frank Bakke-Jensen would be taking over as defense minister, while his European affairs portfolio would be handed to newcomer Marit Berger Rosland — a woman.
In power since 2013, the right-wing won a narrow victory in legislative elections on September 11.
According to Norwegian media, Solberg could announce another government reshuffle by the end of the year if the small center-right Liberal Party joins the minority coalition, currently made up of Solberg’s Conservatives and Jensen’s anti-immigration Progress Party.


Indonesian fishermen return home after release from Philippines militants

Updated 50 min 17 sec ago
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Indonesian fishermen return home after release from Philippines militants

  • With the release of the trio, all Indonesians abducted by Filipino militants before 2018 have been released
  • Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines wil boost security cooperation in the Sulu Sea, which is a busy maritime area for fishing boats and cargo vessels transporting coal from Indonesia to the Philippines

JAKARTA: After 20 months being held hostage by militants in the southern Philippines, three Indonesian fishermen were finally reunited on Wednesday with their respective families at the Foreign Ministry.

Vice Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir handed them over from the government to their respective family representatives in a ceremony which was held without media presence.
 
"The condition on the field was getting more difficult. But we made the most of our contacts and assets on the field, and with the Philippines government support we were able to get them released,” Fachir said in a statement from the ministry. .
 
Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the Foreign Ministry’s director for protection of Indonesians abroad, said the handover was held in private because “it was not a cause for celebration.”
 
“We are grateful for their release, but we still have two Indonesians who were abducted on Sept. 11 and we don’t want to hurt their families’ feeling,” Iqbal said.
 
The three fishermen are Hamdan bin Saleng, Sudarling bin Samansunga, and Subandi bin Sattu, who hail from Selayar and Bulukumba in South Sulawesi province. They were freed from their captors on Friday in Sulu province on the southern Philippines.
 
Rudi Wahyudin, a representative of Sattu’s family, said the family members were devastated during the 20 months Sattu was held hostage but they tried to keep their hopes up by keeping in touch with the foreign ministry to get updates of efforts to release him and his fellow fishermen.
 
“It’s normal for people in our village in Bulukumba to migrate and work abroad. Now his wife has asked Sattu to quit working overseas and find another job close to home instead,” Wahyudin said.
 
Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines, Sinyo Harry Sarundajang said the military attache and he flew to Zamboanga City to pick up the three men, after the embassy received information of their release from the West Mindanao Command.
 
“We thank President Duterte and the Philippines government for their attention and cooperation on this matter. It was a long and delicate process to release them and we had to be very careful because we didn’t want anyone to become victim in the process,” Sarundajang said at the press conference.    
 
According to the ambassador, the three men were moved and had to island-hopped to various small islands on the Sulu archipelago as their captors were avoiding the Philippine military operation.
 
The three men were working as crew members in a Malaysian fishing boat when they were abducted in the waters of Sabah in Malaysia on Jan 2017.
 
Iqbal said there are about 6,000 Indonesians working in fishing vessels in Sabah. Since 2016, there has been 34 Indonesian citizens who were kidnapped by armed militants in the southern Philippines and 13 of them were fishermen who were abducted from their vessels in the waters of Sabah.
 
With the release of the trio, all Indonesians abducted by Filipino militants before 2018 have been released.
 
“We are now working to release the two fishermen who were abducted on Sep 11. We have expressed our concerns to the Malaysian authority on the lack of security on their waters,” Iqbal said.
 
He added that Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines would boost security cooperation in the Sulu Sea between the three countries, which is a busy maritime area for fishing boats and cargo vessels transporting coal from Indonesia to the Philippines.
 
The three neighboring countries agreed in May 2016 to launch joint patrols in the area following a series of hijacking and kidnapping of Indonesian vessels and crew members. The initial maritime patrol was launched in June 2017 and was beefed up with air patrols in Oct 2017.