Malaysians mark I-Day with fervor

Schoolchildren in traditional outfits join a parade in Putrajaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 01 September 2018
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Malaysians mark I-Day with fervor

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia celebrated its Independence Day on Friday, with Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamad speaking of a “second independence” for the country after the election of a new government.
“We are celebrating… with a sense of relief and comfort. Indeed, this is our second independence,” he said.
“We are free from the shackles of a ruthless regime. Our lives are more comfortable. This… government guarantees justice for all the people, irrespective of race or religion,” he added.
“It takes time to bring about an administration by the rule of law,” he said, urging Malaysia’s people and government to work together to revive the country and overcome challenges.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition won the election in May and subsequently formed a new government.
This year’s Independence Day theme is Sayangi Malaysiaku (Love My Malaysia). Charity worker Mary Anne Tan said this year’s Independence Day “is a glorious celebration of new hope, new change and a new government.”
Eric Paulsen, legal director of human rights group Fortify Rights, said this year’s Independence Day celebration is much more meaningful given the recent election. But marginalized communities such as the Orang Asli people and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are still discriminated against, he added.
This view is shared by Azira, a young Malaysian who said the government is not doing enough against human rights abuses. 
“You still have indigenous tribes chased out of their native lands, extreme deforestation, child marriages, religious extremism and conservatism, and hate for the LGBT community. We still have a long way to go, but I remain hopeful,” she added.
Documentary filmmaker Andrew Ng Yew Han said: “I hope Malaysians will be more vocal, open and involved in the development of our country.”
He added: “I hope we don’t go back to giving our trust blindly to politicians. Now that our government has changed, perhaps it’s also time for us to change.”
Zaim Mohzani, co-founder of Malaysian Youth Diplomacy, said the new government will “need to manage the diverse expectations of the electorate.”
He added: “Cabinet ministers may be new and inexperienced, but they need to pick up the pace. The electorate may not be forgiving and understanding as we move into 2019.”


At least 11 dead in Taliban attack on Afghan police HQ

Updated 18 July 2019
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At least 11 dead in Taliban attack on Afghan police HQ

  • The assault comes amid a series of peace talks between Washington and the Taliban that both sides say are making progress
  • 11 people had been killed, including nine civilians and two police officers

KANDAHAR: At least 11 people were killed and scores more wounded Thursday when the Taliban attacked a police headquarters in the southern city of Kandahar, officials and the insurgents said.
The assault comes amid a series of peace talks between Washington and the Taliban that both sides say are making progress, but which so far have yielded no reduction in violence in the gruelling Afghan conflict.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the afternoon attack in Afghanistan’s second-largest city started with a car bomb, then saw gunmen storm the police compound.
“A number of mujahideen equipped with heavy and small arms breached the headquarters and launched their operations inside,” he said.
Baheer Ahmadi, the Kandahar governor’s spokesman, said in a statement that 11 people had been killed, including nine civilians and two police officers, while another 80 — including women and children — were wounded.
He earlier had given a toll of 12 dead.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said eight attackers were involved. Two blew themselves up, while the remaining six were “cornered in a building.”
Hayatullah Hayat, the provincial governor for Kandahar, said Afghan security forces had launched a “clean-up operation” to see if any attackers were remaining.
“The fighting is over now. Some vehicles were burnt. Now the Afghan army and US helicopters are hovering in the area,” police chief Tadin Khan told AFP.
Pictures on social media showed a huge plume of smoke rising over Kandahar, and Hayat said about six trucks carrying commercial goods had burnt.
The assault comes just one day after two Afghan soldiers — who were really Taliban operatives — fatally shot an Afghan colonel in Ghazni province.