Malaysia hits back at US travel warning, saying it ‘lacks objectivity’

This May 25, 2018, photo show a general view of capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Malaysia hits back at US travel warning, saying it ‘lacks objectivity’

  • Over the past few years, Sabah has been the site of several high-profile kidnappings for ransom by the Abu Sayyaf Jihadist group and other terrorist organizations from Mindanao

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Sunday described an advisory issued by the US warning its citizens not to travel to the Southeast Asian country, as “lacking objectivity.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it “strongly protests” the US government’s decision to include Malaysia as one of 35 countries given a “K” indicator on April 9 in its travel advisory for this year. The indicator relates to “the risks of kidnapping and hostage-taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world.” America raised concerns over the risk of potential kidnapping or hostage-taking situations in certain areas of eastern Sabah.
The Malaysian government responded that the travel advisory “lacks objectivity” and does not reflect “the reality on the ground.”
It went on to describe the security situation in eastern Sabah as “safe and protected for tourists.”
The statement added: “This is borne out by the fact that the number of tourist arrivals in Sabah has grown by 5.5 percent, reaching 3.87 million last year. Further, the number of kidnapping incidents has dropped significantly to almost nil. Eastern Sabah continues to attract world-class divers.”
The ministry said it has ramped up its security efforts with increased patrols, closer security cooperation with neighboring countries, and the strategic positioning of security assets in the areas mentioned, while urging the US to immediately remove Malaysia from the list. 
The state of Sabah is in the eastern part of Borneo Island, bordering Indonesia and Brunei. The island is close to Mindanao, in the southern part of the Philippines.
Over the past few years, Sabah has been the site of several high-profile kidnappings for ransom by the Abu Sayyaf Jihadist group and other terrorist organizations from Mindanao. 
This month, a Malaysian fisherman died from gunshot wounds when he tried to escape from his Abu Sayyaf captors. He was reported missing along with two Indonesian fishermen in December last year. All three men were believed to have been kidnapped from their boat. 
Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told Arab News that despite the dire situation in Eastern Sabah, the travel advisory would not affect Malaysia’s tourism. 
”To be blunt about it, this won’t affect Malaysia a lot, because most of the tourists who go to the surroundings of Semporna (in Eastern Sabah) are amateur or seasoned divers who will go there at all costs due to its designation as the world’s best diving spot,” he said. 
He added that most non-Americans, and even non-Europeans, are less influenced by US travel warning nowadays, as there are many other factors that would affect people’s decision to travel to a country. 
The other 34 countries given a “K” indicator in America’s 2019 travel advisory include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen. 


Knox accuses media of having built false story around her

US journalist Amanda Knox cries as she addresses a panel discussion titled "Trial by Media" during the Criminal Justice Festival at the Law University of Modena, northern Italy on June 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 7 min 19 sec ago
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Knox accuses media of having built false story around her

  • Knox said she came back to Italy despite the fact that she was afraid of being “molested, derided, framed, that new accusations will be directed against me for telling my truth”

ROME: Taking the stage Saturday at an Italian conference on justice, Amanda Knox accused the media of having built a false narrative around her during her yearslong murder trial and appeals process, depicting her as guilty even though she was eventually acquitted.
The former exchange student from the United States who became the focus of a sensational murder case returned to Italy this week for the first time since an appeals court acquitted her in 2011 in the slaying of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
Knox, speaking in Italian on a panel discussion at the Criminal Justice Festival in Modena titled “Trial by media,” said she was depicted “on the global scene as cunning, psychopath, drug-addicted, whore. Guilty.”
Speaking through tears, she said the media that labelled her “Foxy Knoxy” invented a “false and baseless story, which fueled people’s fantasies and talked to their fears.”
Knox’s 2011 acquittal was part of a long legal process that saw multiple flip-flop rulings before she was definitively acquitted in 2015 by Italy’s highest court.
Knox said she came back to Italy despite the fact that she was afraid of being “molested, derided, framed, that new accusations will be directed against me for telling my truth.”
She also criticized Italian prosecutors, who described a scenario made up of “orgies and sex toys” during her first trial, even though that version of the story was toned down in the appeal.
Knox acknowledged that despite her final acquittal “I remain a controversial figure in the public opinion, especially here in Italy.”
She had been accused with her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivorian-born Rudy Guede of killing Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007, in the university town of Perugia. After multiple rulings, Italy’s highest court definitively acquitted Knox and Sollecito in 2015. Guede is still serving a 16-year sentence.
During her speech, which was followed by a standing ovation, Knox recalled Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini as the one who accused her in his search for justice.
“One day I’d like to meet the real Mignini, and I hope that when he comes, he will also see that I am not a monster, I simply am Amanda,” Knox said.
On Friday, the lawyer for Kercher’s family described Knox’s invitation to speak at the Criminal Justice Festival as “inappropriate.”
“Inviting her to a technical panel on justice was a mistake,” Francesco Maresca told The Associated Press, adding that “lawyers for both parts should have been involved.”