Singapore court rejects Malaysian man’s final appeal against execution

Singapore court rejects Malaysian man’s final appeal against execution
Activists hold placards in protest at the impending execution of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 29 March 2022

Singapore court rejects Malaysian man’s final appeal against execution

Singapore court rejects Malaysian man’s final appeal against execution
  • Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was sentenced to death in 2010 after trafficking nearly 43 grams of heroin
  • Defense argued that with an IQ of 69 — recognized as a disability — he was not capable of proper decision-making

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s top court rejected on Tuesday a last-ditch appeal by a Malaysian man against his death sentence, dismissing his legal team’s argument that he has an intellectual disability.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, was sentenced to death in 2010 after trafficking nearly 43 grams of heroin in a bundle strapped to his thigh into Singapore, which has some of the world’s strictest drug laws. His execution was stayed in November last year amid pressure from international rights groups, Malaysia’s prime minister, and the EU.

Dharmalingam’s defense had filed another appeal, saying that he had learning disabilities and that with an IQ of 69 — a level recognized as a disability — he was not capable of proper decision-making. This meant that under international law he could not be executed. They had also requested an independent psychiatric evaluation.

The Singapore Court of Appeal said the appeal had “no factual and legal basis” and that Dharmalingam’s defense had put “nothing forward to suggest that he has a case.”

M. Ravi, a former member of Dharmalingam’s legal team in Singapore, told Arab News that the decision was “absolutely shocking.” Singapore is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “He was not given an opportunity (to be examined) by his psychiatrist. The court said there is no medical evidence,” he said. “This is a serious violation of international law. I would ask for the Malaysian government to take this matter to the international court of justice and ask for an interim stay immediately.”

Dharmalingam’s Malaysian lawyer, N. Surendran, said the court made the ruling without considering his client’s medical records. “That they did not even allow an independent psychiatric assessment shows that there is no fairness or impartiality in the court’s handling of the matter,” he said.

His sister told Arab News the family is now hoping that his appeal for a pardon, supported by several rights groups, would succeed. “We appeal to the public to urge the Singapore government to grant him this, we hope our prayers come true,” Sharmila Dharmalingam said. “Our only hope is clemency.”

The case has put a spotlight on Singapore’s use of capital punishment and zero-tolerance drug laws. Rights group Amnesty International has condemned the court’s decision.

Brian Yap, Amnesty International’s Malaysia researcher, said it was high time for the Singaporean authorities to act and “stop a grave travesty of justice from taking place and end its inhumane, shameful strategy of using the death penalty to address drug-related problems.”


Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief
Updated 6 sec ago

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief
PESHAWAR: The suicide bomber who killed 101 people inside a mosque at a police headquarters in Pakistan was wearing a police uniform and helmet, a police chief said Thursday.
“Those on duty didn’t check him because he was in a police uniform... It was a security lapse,” Moazzam Jah Ansari, the head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province police force, told a news conference.

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes
Updated 44 min 31 sec ago

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes
  • The RBA said it would consult Indigenous people on a new design that “honors the culture and history of the First Australians”
  • Australia is a constitutional monarchy, a democracy with King Charles III as its head of state

SYDNEY: Australia will remove the British monarch from its banknotes, replacing the late Queen Elizabeth II’s image on its $5 note with a design honoring Indigenous culture, the central bank said Thursday.
The decision to leave her successor King Charles III off the $5 note means no monarch would remain on Australia’s paper currency.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said it would consult Indigenous people on a new design that “honors the culture and history of the First Australians.”
Queen Elizabeth’s death on September 8 last year was marked by public mourning in Australia, but some Indigenous groups also protested against the destructive impact of colonial Britain, calling for the abolition of the monarchy.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, a democracy with King Charles III as its head of state. A referendum proposing a switch to a republic was narrowly defeated in 1999.
The central bank said its decision was supported by the center-left Labor government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who favors an eventual move to an Australian republic.
The new banknote would take “a number of years” to be designed and printed, it said, with the existing $5 note remaining legal tender even after the new design is in people’s hands.
The RBA’s move was hailed by the nation’s republican movement, which noted that Indigenous people predated British settlement by 65,000 years.
“Australia believes in meritocracy so the idea that someone should be on our currency by birthright is irreconcilable, as is the notion that they should be our head of state by birthright,” said Australian Republic Movement chair Craig Foster.
“To think that an unelected king should be on our currency in place of First Nations leaders and elders and eminent Australians is no longer justifiable at a time of truth-telling, reconciliation and ultimately formal, cultural and intellectual independence.”
The Australian Monarchist League said the decision was “virtually neo-communism in action.”
“Before a referendum is held on whether the people want to retain the King as sovereign or opt for a President, this government has arbitrarily moved to discard the King’s head from Australia’s five dollar note,” it said in a statement.
“It is certainly not Australian democracy.”
A British monarch has featured on Australian banknotes since 1923 and was on all paper bills until 1953, the year of Elizabeth II’s coronation.
The queen’s face adorned the 1-pound banknote and then the new $1 note from 1966.
That first $1 banknote also included imagery of Aboriginal rock paintings and carvings based on a bark painting by Indigenous artist David Malangi Daymirringu.
The queen’s face has peered up at Australians from the polymer $5 note since 1992.
But the central bank’s governor Philip Lowe announced three months ago that it had begun talking with the government about whether to forego replacing the queen’s image with a portrait of King Charles III.
Australian coins, which are issued by the Royal Australian Mint, currently feature an image of the queen.


North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’

North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’
Updated 02 February 2023

North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’

North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’
  • Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursues hostile policies: statement
  • White House rejected North Korean statement and reiterated willingness to meet North Korean diplomats

SEOUL: North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that drills by the United States and its allies have pushed the situation to an “extreme red-line” and threaten to turn the peninsula into a “huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone.”
The statement, carried by state news agency KCNA, said Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursues hostile policies.
“The military and political situation on the Korean peninsula and in the region has reached an extreme red-line due to the reckless military confrontational maneuvers and hostile acts of the US and its vassal forces,” an unnamed ministry spokesperson said in the statement.
In Washington, the White House rejected the North Korean statement and reiterated a willingness to meet with North Korean diplomats “at a time and place convenient for them.”
“We have made clear we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK and seek serious and sustained diplomacy to address the full range of issues of concern to both countries and the region,” said a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.
The North Korean statement cited a visit to Seoul this week by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. On Tuesday Austin and his South Korean counterpart vowed to expand military drills and deploy more “strategic assets,” such as aircraft carriers and long-range bombers, to counter North Korea’s weapons development and prevent a war.
“This is a vivid expression of the US dangerous scenario which will result in turning the Korean peninsula into a huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone,” the North Korean statement said.
North Korea will respond to any military moves by the United States, and has strong counteraction strategies, including “the most overwhelming nuclear force” if necessary, the statement added.
More than 28,500 American troops are based in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
“We reject the notion that our joint exercises with partners in the region serve as any sort of provocation. These are routine exercises fully consistent with past practice,” the White House statement said.
Last year, North Korea conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests, which are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions. It was also observed reopening its shuttered nuclear weapons test site, raising expectations of a nuclear test for the first time since 2017.
In New York, South Korea’s foreign minister, Park Jin, met with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday and called for the UN’s continued attention to North Korea’s recent provocations and efforts to implement sanctions on the reclusive regime.
Guterres said any resumption of nuclear testing by North Korea would deal a devastating blow to regional and international security, and reaffirmed support to build lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, according to Park’s office.
Park is on a four-day trip to the United States, which will include a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Friday.
On Wednesday the United States and South Korea carried out a joint air drill with American B-1B heavy bombers and F-22 stealth fighters, as well as F-35 jets from both countries, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
“The combined air drills this time show the US’ will and capabilities to provide strong and credible extended deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.


New US restrictions against Taliban for bans on women

New US restrictions against Taliban for bans on women
Updated 02 February 2023

New US restrictions against Taliban for bans on women

New US restrictions against Taliban for bans on women
  • Additional visa restrictions on Taliban members imposed

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new visa restrictions against the Taliban Wednesday in response to bans on employment and education for women in Afghanistan.
“I am taking action today to impose additional visa restrictions on certain current or former Taliban members, members of non-state security groups, and other individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, repressing women and girls in Afghanistan,” Blinken said in a statement.
Blinked said the repressive actions included “the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities and from working with NGOs. “
Since their return to power in August 2021, the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on Afghan women, banning them from holding public jobs, attending secondary schools and universities, or from going to parks.
At the end of December, they banned NGOs from working with Afghan women, leading several organizations to suspend their activities.
Blinken added that Washington will continue to work in coordination with allied countries to make “clear to the Taliban that their actions will carry significant costs and close the path to improved relations with the international community.”


Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet
Updated 02 February 2023

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet
  • Since 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers
  • The final plane is the 1,574th built by Boeing in the Puget Sound region of Washington state

SEATTLE: Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet.

Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight.
But over about the past 15 years, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have introduced more profitable and fuel efficient wide-body planes, with only two engines to maintain instead of the 747′s four. The final plane is the 1,574th built by Boeing in the Puget Sound region of Washington state.

A big crowd of current and former Boeing workers is expected for the final send-off. The last one is being delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air.
“If you love this business, you’ve been dreading this moment,” said longtime aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia. “Nobody wants a four-engine airliner anymore, but that doesn’t erase the tremendous contribution the aircraft made to the development of the industry or its remarkable legacy.”
Boeing set out to build the 747 after losing a contract for a huge military transport, the C-5A. The idea was to take advantage of the new engines developed for the transport — high-bypass turbofan engines, which burned less fuel by passing air around the engine core, enabling a farther flight range — and to use them for a newly imagined civilian aircraft.
It took more than 50,000 Boeing workers less than 16 months to churn out the first 747 — a Herculean effort that earned them the nickname “The Incredibles.” The jumbo jet’s production required the construction of a massive factory in Everett, north of Seattle — the world’s largest building by volume.

INNUMBERS

1,574 Number of 747 jumbo jets built by Boeing 

1970 - The year the first 747 entered service on Pan Am’s New York-London route

50,000 Boeing workers who took part in building the first 747 in almost 16 months

68.5 meters - Length of the jumbo jet's fuselage, and the tail stood as tall as a six-story building

The plane’s fuselage was 225 feet (68.5 meters) long and the tail stood as tall as a six-story building. The plane’s design included a second deck extending from the cockpit back over the first third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump and inspiring a nickname, the Whale. More romantically, the 747 became known as the Queen of the Skies.
Some airlines turned the second deck into a first-class cocktail lounge, while even the lower deck sometimes featured lounges or even a piano bar.
“It was the first big carrier, the first widebody, so it set a new standard for airlines to figure out what to do with it, and how to fill it,” said Guillaume de Syon, a history professor at Pennsylvania’s Albright College who specializes in aviation and mobility. “It became the essence of mass air travel: You couldn’t fill it with people paying full price, so you need to lower prices to get people onboard. It contributed to what happened in the late 1970s with the deregulation of air travel.”
The first 747 entered service in 1970 on Pan Am’s New York-London route, and its timing was terrible, Aboulafia said. It debuted shortly before the oil crisis of 1973, amid a recession that saw Boeing’s employment fall from 100,800 employees in 1967 to a low of 38,690 in April 1971. The “Boeing bust” was infamously marked by a billboard near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport that read, “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE — Turn out the lights.”

Actor John Travolta, a licensed pilot, speaks during a ceremony to mark the delivery of the last Boeing 747 aircraft, in Everett, Washington, on Jan. 31, 2023. (AFP)

An updated model — the 747-400 series — arrived in the late 1980s and had much better timing, coinciding with the Asian economic boom of the early 1990s, Aboulafia said. He recalled taking a Cathay Pacific 747 from Los Angeles to Hong Kong as a twentysomething backpacker in 1991.
“Even people like me could go see Asia,” Aboulafia said. “Before, you had to stop for fuel in Alaska or Hawaii and it cost a lot more. This was a straight shot — and reasonably priced.”
Delta was the last US airline to use the 747 for passenger flights, which ended in 2017, although some other international carriers continue to fly it, including the German airline Lufthansa.
Atlas Air ordered four 747-8 freighters early last year, with the final one leaving the factory Tuesday.
Boeing’s roots are in the Seattle area, and it has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company announced in May that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia, putting its executives closer to key federal government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and cargo planes.
Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since deadly crashes of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. The FAA took nearly two years — far longer than Boeing expected — to approve design changes and allow the plane back in the air.