Malaysia’s king to meet political leaders to find new PM

Malaysia’s king to meet political leaders to find new PM
The resignation Monday of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin after less than 18 months in office. (AFP)
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Updated 17 August 2021

Malaysia’s king to meet political leaders to find new PM

Malaysia’s king to meet political leaders to find new PM
  • Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has summoned party leaders to the palace later Tuesday

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s king is set Tuesday to meet the heads of political parties as he swiftly began the task of finding a new prime minister amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic.
The resignation Monday of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin after less than 18 months in office followed mounting public anger over what was widely perceived as his government’s poor handling of the pandemic. Malaysia has one of the world’s highest infection rates and deaths per capita, with daily cases breaching 20,000 this month despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June.
The monarch has ruled out a general election as many parts of the country are COVID-19 red zones and health facilities are inadequate.
Muhyiddin was appointed caretaker prime minister until a successor is found.
Local media said Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has summoned party leaders to the palace later Tuesday, all believed to be at the same time. This included parties formerly in Muhyiddin’s government as well as the opposition.
The king plays a largely ceremonial role but he appoints the person he believes has majority support of Parliament to be prime minister.
Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 after initiating the collapse of the reformist government that won 2018 elections. With a razor-thin majority in Parliament and an unstable coalition, he held office less than 18 months, making him the country’s shortest-ruling leader.
Before choosing Muhyiddin, Sultan Abdullah interviewed all 222 lawmakers individually then sought nominations from party leaders in an arduous selection process. His choice of Muhyiddin as the prime minister was disputed by the predecessor he ousted, Mahathir Mohamad, and the opposition.
An official from Mahathir’s party confirmed it has been invited to the meeting Tuesday.
The selection this time will be another tough chore for the monarch because no coalition can claim a majority. The three-party alliance that is the biggest opposition bloc has nominated its leader, Anwar Ibrahim. But the bloc has less than 90 lawmakers, short of the 111 needed for a simple majority. That’s also less than the 100 lawmakers believed to have backed Muhyiddin.
Other contenders include former Deputy Prime Minister Ismail who is from the United Malays National Organization, the biggest party in Muhyiddin’s alliance.
Local media said another possible candidate is Razaleigh Hamzah, an 84-year-old prince who was a former finance minister. Razaleigh, an UMNO lawmaker, is seen as a neutral candidate who could unite the warring factions in UMNO.
A leader from eastern Sabah state on Borneo island, Shafie Apdal, has also been named in the race. It is unlikely as his party only has 8 lawmakers but some say a leader from Borneo may be seen as acceptable to all.
But Mahathir, 96, has called for a national recovery council to be formed and led mainly by professionals to resolve the country’s economic and health crises.
The Bersih electoral reform group urged contenders to pursue political stability by offering multi-partisan governance and institutional reforms, and not just horse-trading over numbers and positions.
“The endless political machination due to winner-takes-all politics in a de facto hung parliament for the past one and a half year must now end to enable a more effective governance of health and economy. The new Prime Minister must quickly convene a special meeting and table a motion of confidence in himself to prove his majority,” it said in a statement.
It warned that a short-sighted and self-serving government would be punished by voters in the next election.


Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of Omicron variant currently on mainland France

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of Omicron variant currently on mainland France
Updated 15 sec ago

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of Omicron variant currently on mainland France

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of Omicron variant currently on mainland France
PARIS: The French Health Ministry said there were currently nine confirmed cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant on mainland France, which, according to the government’s top scientific adviser, could become dominant strain of the virus in the country by the end of January.

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa
Updated 03 December 2021

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa

Malaysia detects first omicron case in quarantined traveler from South Africa
  • The 19-year-old woman was asymptomatic and had been vaccinated
  • Five other people who shared a vehicle with her prior to her quarantine all tested negative

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has detected its first case of the omicron coronavirus variant in a foreign student who was quarantined after arrival from South Africa two weeks ago, its health minister said on Friday.
Authorities had re-tested earlier positive samples after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced omicron as a variant of concern on Nov. 24, minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.
The 19-year-old woman, who was asymptomatic and had been vaccinated, had tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Malaysia, via Singapore, and was quarantined for 10 days before being released on Nov. 29, Khairy said.
Five other people who shared a vehicle with her prior to her quarantine all tested negative.
Authorities, however, have asked the student along with eight close contacts to undergo further testing after her earlier test samples were confirmed to be the new variant, Khairy added.
An increasing number of countries are reporting cases of the omicron variant, which the WHO has said carries a very high risk of causing surges of infection.
Neighbouring Singapore confirmed two imported cases on Thursday.
This week, Malaysia temporarily banned the entry of travelers from eight southern African countries that have reported the presence of the variant or are considered high-risk.
On Friday, Khairy said Malaysia would immediately imposed further restrictions, including additional tests for vaccinated travelers from Singapore, who are allowed to enter Malaysia without quarantine.


Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 

Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 
Updated 03 December 2021

Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 

Taliban: Several Iranian guards dead after Nimroz border clashes 
  • Local reports claim Taliban fighters seized Iranian border checkpoints 

KABUL: Taliban authorities said on Thursday that Iranian forces had suffered at least nine casualties during clashes on the Afghanistan-Iran border after fuel smuggling attempts from the Iranian side.

Fighting between the two countries’ respective security forces broke out in Konjak, Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday at around midday, and continued until the late evening. Local authorities and witnesses said the Taliban seized three Iranian check posts.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the clashes were triggered by “a misunderstanding at the local level” and that “the situation is now under control with the understanding of both sides.”

The spokesperson for the governor of Nimroz, Salahudin Ayobi, told Arab News tensions had been resolved and the “misunderstanding” had been over fuel smuggling.

“The main issue of this misunderstanding was smuggling fuel to Afghanistan. During this battle at least nine Iranian border forces were killed and injured,” he said, adding that one Taliban fighter was wounded. 

Iranian authorities did not confirm the numbers.

FASTFACT

Nimroz governor spokesperson says clashes erupted over fuel smuggling from Iranian side.

Qiam Mawlawi, a Taliban commander in the Konjak district of Nimroz, said the clash was prompted by the Iranians.

“We responded to their misbehavior,” he said. “Currently the situation has turned back to normal, but we are on standby.”

While Iranian media reported the fighting started following a dispute among residents and denied the capture of border check posts, locals said Taliban forces had crossed the border into Iran.

“The Taliban were able to capture Borjak, Melak and Shah Balak check posts from Iranian forces, and heavy (gun)fire (took place) between both sides,” Abdul Satar, Konjak resident, told Arab News.

Sabrina Zory, a civil activist in Nimroz, said the clashes started when Taliban forces stopped a fuel tanker crossing through Borjak. “

After the fighting began, (the) Taliban entered Iranian soil, and the Taliban fighters were able to capture three (Iranian) check posts,” she said. “According to the reports from the local Taliban who participated in this cross-border fighting, five Iranian border police were killed.”

Iran was among the few countries to keep its embassy in Kabul open after the Western-backed administration collapsed in mid-August, leading to the Taliban seizing control of the country.

Tension on the border between the two, an active smuggling and human trafficking route, has been a long-standing issue.


Attacker dressed like ninja wounds two French policewomen with sword – police

Attacker dressed like ninja wounds two French policewomen with sword – police
Updated 03 December 2021

Attacker dressed like ninja wounds two French policewomen with sword – police

Attacker dressed like ninja wounds two French policewomen with sword – police
  • A police spokeswoman said there were no immediate signs that the attack was terrorism-related

PARIS: A man dressed like a ninja attacked and wounded two policewomen with a sword in Cherbourg in northwestern France on Thursday before being shot and captured, a police spokeswoman said.
She said there were no immediate signs that the attack was terrorism-related.
She said the attacker had stolen a vehicle and caused an accident, after which he assaulted two policewomen who had been called to the scene, wounding one in the face and the other in the chin.
The assailant — dressed in black in the style of traditional Japanese ninja fighters — was shot three times by the officers and was flown to hospital by helicopter in serious condition.
The attack happened around 3:45 p.m. (1445 GMT) near a gas station of the Leclerc supermarket chain.
The name and nationality of the attacker were not immediately known.


Armed man outside UN arrested after standoff, lockdown

Armed man outside UN arrested after standoff, lockdown
Updated 03 December 2021

Armed man outside UN arrested after standoff, lockdown

Armed man outside UN arrested after standoff, lockdown
  • During the standoff, the man held an object pointed at his own throat, possibly a firearm
  • The man, who appeared to be in his 60s, was taken into custody without incident

NEW YORK: The United Nations headquarters in New York City was locked down for several hours Thursday after a man was seen pacing outside one of its main gates with what police said appeared to be a shotgun.
The man, who appeared to be in his 60s, was taken into custody without incident at around 1:30 p.m., about three hours after police said he was first spotted outside a security checkpoint on Manhattan’s First Avenue.
During the standoff, the man held an object pointed at his own throat, possibly a firearm. The gates on the fence that rings the UN complex were closed, and the man didn’t appear to be trying to breach the security perimeter. Police said there was no danger to the public.
People inside UN headquarters were initially told to shelter in place, but were later allowed to move about the complex and come and go from other entrances. The UN General Assembly and Security Council were both in session Thursday.
UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement, “We thank the NYPD for their quick response to the incident and we remain in contact with them as they conduct their investigation.” Dujarric said earlier there was “zero indication” the man was a current or former UN employee.
Details including criminal charges weren’t immediately available.