Duterte to drug suspects: Want to live longer? Stay in jail

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses troops during the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Navy, on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 23 May 2018

Duterte to drug suspects: Want to live longer? Stay in jail

  • More than 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police
  • Duterte denies condoning extrajudicial killings

MANILA, Philippines: The Philippine president told drug suspects in a central province Tuesday to look for a way to get arrested and then stay in jail if they want to live longer, in his latest threat in his bloody anti-drug crackdown.
President Rodrigo Duterte did not identify the targets of his warning in a televised threat-laden speech, but referred to people who grew rich through illegal drugs in Cebu province.
“You know if I were you guys in Cebu, stay in jail. You want to live longer? Stay in jail,” Duterte said. “Look for your own reason to be in jail. Do not go out of that facility. It would not be healthy for you.”
There has been at least one high-profile drug suspect, however, who was shot to death by police in his jail cell in what was suspected of being a rubout.
Police killed town mayor Rolando Espinosa inside a jail in central Leyte province in 2016 in what they said was a gunbattle, but government investigators declared it a murder. Murder complaints against an officer and his men involved in the shootout were later downgraded to a lesser charge that allowed them to be released on bail and reinstated into the force.
In a rambling speech during the Philippine navy’s founding anniversary that initially touched on terrorism and South China Sea territorial threats, Duterte veered to his anti-drug crackdown. He issued a veiled threat to policemen involved in drugs and acknowledged the national force has been infiltrated by criminals.
“Some of them, sadly, are really into drugs ... most of all the policemen because they are aplenty. I’m just warning them that if you are into it, you will be the first to go,” he said.
“It is no surprise that you are just also falling down one by one and the mayors and the village captains,” he said.
“And to all of those criminals out there, to all those rogue policemen and all creating hell for us, I have yet sufficient time to correct all of these things,” Duterte, a former mayor, said. “You might not like the way how I correct things but I would just love to warn you that there is no turning back on this and I am there in the drug war in front.”
More than 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police that officials say erupted because the suspects fought back. Human rights watchdogs have cited much higher death tolls, which the government disputes.
Duterte denies condoning extrajudicial killings and has lashed out at critics, including former US President Barack Obama, Western governments and UN human rights officials, who have raised alarm over the drug killings and threats to human rights.
But Duterte disclosed Friday that he wanted to reply to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein’s critical remarks in March but was advised “to shut up” at the time by his national security adviser, who told him that Zeid was royalty from Jordan, which was providing the Philippines with two assault helicopters.
Zeid has suggested that Duterte “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation” over his “unacceptable” remarks about some top human rights defenders.

Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

Updated 23 May 2019

Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

  • The vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month
  • Sultan Mosque was designated a national monument in 1975

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s Sultan Mosque is a focal point for Muslims in the cosmopolitan city-state and the vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month of Ramadan when people from all walks of life flock to its bustling bazaars.

Kampong Glam is Singapore’s “Muslim Quarter” with a mix of Malay, South Asian and Middle Eastern elements. Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim, according to the latest official data.

Arab Street — an area that includes Bussorah Street, Haji and Bali Lanes and Muscat Street — is a hub for hipsters, vivid murals, Persian rug stores, shisha bars, perfumeries and textile shops, as well as being home to the distinctive golden domes of the Sultan Mosque. There is even an ornate archway welcoming people to explore the neighborhood and its distinctive shophouses, buildings that were used for working and living in. 

“We are more like brothers and sisters, rather than businesses. I know most of the customers and they know me too,” a 36-year-old biryani hawker who gave his name as Nareza told Arab News as he served a line of hungry clients.

Nareza said his stall’s signature dish was mutton biryani, made from a family recipe handed down through generations from his late grandmother. 


Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim

“Dum biryani is a process of mixing meat and rice together in one pot, so the rice has a bit of the masala taste while the meat has a bit of the basmati rice fragrance,” he said, adding that he sold more than 300 portions of biryani a day. “I learned to make biryani from my father, who used to do charity work in the mosque. We make our own spices, we do not buy them from outside vendors. That is why the taste is different.”

The bazaar is packed with places selling food, drinks, decorations and homeware. The fare reflects Singapore’s international status, with eateries and stores selling kebabs, sushi and local Malay goodies.

But Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and having a fast-paced lifestyle, leading some to focus on preserving culture and heritage for future generations.

“We want to create awareness about the significance of Sultan Mosque to the Muslim community,” juice stall owner Riduan told Arab News, saying all sale proceeds were donated to the Sultan Mosque. “Arab Street is unique because you see a lot of different races coming here and it is also a tourist attraction. This is where we demonstrate we are Singapore society. Singapore is not just limited to skyscrapers such as Marina Bay Sands.”