Former British prime minister Boris Johnson resigns as MP

Update Former British prime minister Boris Johnson resigns as MP
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Updated 09 June 2023

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson resigns as MP

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson resigns as MP

LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stepping down as a member of parliament with immediate effect, triggering a by- election in his marginal seat.

Johnson had been fighting for his political future with a parliamentary inquiry investigating whether he misled the House of Commons when he said all COVID-19 rules were followed.

Parliament’s privileges committee had the power to recommend that Johnson be suspended from parliament for more than 10 days if they were to find he did mislead parliament recklessly or deliberately, potentially triggering an election for his seat.

Johnson said he had received a letter from the “privileges committee making it clear — much to my amazement — that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of parliament.”

“I am being forced out by a tiny handful of people, with no evidence to back up their assertions, and without approval even of Conservative party members let alone the wider electorate,” Johnson said in a statement.

“It is very sad to be leaving parliament — at least for now — but above all I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out.”

Johnson, whose premiership was cut short in part by anger in his own party and across Britain over COVID rule-breaking lockdown parties in his Downing Street office and residence, accused the committee of acting of being the “very definition of a kangaroo court.”

“Most members of the committee — especially the chair — had already expressed deeply prejudicial remarks about my guilt before they had even seen the evidence,” he said.

“In retrospect it was naive and trusting of me to think that these proceedings could be remotely useful or fair.”

Johnson also used his resignation statement to deliver an attack on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s premiership.

“When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened,” he said.

“Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.”

Nobel chemistry winners are announced early in rare slip-up

Nobel chemistry winners are announced early in rare slip-up
Updated 04 October 2023

Nobel chemistry winners are announced early in rare slip-up

Nobel chemistry winners are announced early in rare slip-up
  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said it was investigating
  • “We don’t know what happened,” the academy’s secretary-general, Hans Ellengren, told AP

STOCKHOLM: The most prestigious and secretive prize in science ran headfirst into the digital era Wednesday when Swedish media got an emailed press release revealing the winners of the Nobel Prize in chemistry and the news prematurely went public.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said it was investigating.
About four hours before the official announcement was planned Wednesday, several Swedish media received a press release from the academy revealing that U.S.-based scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexei Ekimov had won the 2023 chemistry prize for their work on quantum dots.
The Associated Press did not receive the press release in advance and decided not to publish the names until confirmed by the academy, but many Swedish media organizations did. Many were suspicious of the email at first. They published the information, however, since the academy didn’t write it off as false, merely insisting that the final decision on a winner had not yet been taken.
“We don’t know what happened,” the academy’s secretary-general, Hans Ellengren, told The Associated Press. “This is very unfortunate, and we regret very much that that this happened. Exactly what happened I can’t tell, because we don’t know ourselves.”
The five-member Nobel Prize committees spend months whittling down lists of nominations before the full academy makes its official decision on the day of the award, announcing Nobel winners at a scheduled news conference.
Wednesday's premature press release reinforced suspicions that the final decision is just a formality, since material including background information on the winners must be prepared in advance.
More importantly, it showed the difficulty of keeping anything secret for long in the age when virtually everything is online.
“It is an important principle that the prize winners are the first to find out, and that everyone else finds out afterward at the same time,” the former head of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Göran Hansson, told news agency TT. “But in the electronic era the leaks can occur in different ways than in the newspaper era.”
Until just under a decade ago, the academy sent a courier to AP and other news agencies carrying an envelope with the names of the winners. The courier would be connected to the academy by phone and wait for a cue to hand over the envelope at the moment the prize committee started reading the names of the winners.
The academy stopped the practice since the awards were being announced simultaneously on the digital platforms of the Nobel Prizes.
It is not the first time the names of winners slip out before the Nobel announcements. The literature prize, in a particular, was plagued by leaks in recent decades. And in 2010, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet published the name of the medicine winner in advance.
TV4, public broadcaster SVT and news agency TT were among the Swedish media who received the news release by email at 7:31 a.m., just over four hours ahead of the scheduled prize announcement at 11:45 a.m.
Ellengren, the academy’s secretary-general, said it would not comment on the exact process of nominating and awarding Nobel Prize laureates.
"The actual decision is not made until the academy meets the very same day as we announce the prize,” he said.
For the official press release to be published in advance is extremely rare, said Fredrick Malmberg, head of news at Swedish television station TV4.
“I have worked since 1995 at TV4 and I cannot remember anything like this before,” he said. “It is incredible."

Italy ‘deeply committed’ to stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, Gulf region, Deputy PM Antonio Tajani tells Arab News

Italy ‘deeply committed’ to stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, Gulf region, Deputy PM Antonio Tajani tells Arab News
Updated 7 sec ago

Italy ‘deeply committed’ to stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, Gulf region, Deputy PM Antonio Tajani tells Arab News

Italy ‘deeply committed’ to stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, Gulf region, Deputy PM Antonio Tajani tells Arab News
  • Tajani describes Saudi Arabia as “a key player” in a geostrategically and economically significant region
  • Lauds Kingdom’s green transition and envisions Gulf region as renewable energy powerhouse for Europe

ROME: Italy is “deeply committed” to strengthening its relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, according to Antonio Tajani, the country’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation.

In an interview with Arab News on the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia, Tajani offered an expansive and promising perspective of both current and future relations between Italy and the Kingdom.

“The significance of this (Gulf) region on the global stage, in geostrategic and economic terms, can hardly be overstated,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia is a key player, and my visit to Riyadh is meant to reaffirm the strong ties that bind our two countries.”


He was referring to a relationship that has blossomed in recent years not only in the economic and commercial sectors but also at the geopolitical and cultural levels.

Ties between the two countries were first established in February 1932, which were cemented after the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by a trade treaty signed on Sept. 22 the same year.

“Our objective is to strengthen our relationship even further,” Tajani said. “Italy’s approach is based on dialogue and consensus building across the board, with no hidden agenda. We can therefore play a role in fostering strategic partnership based on mutual understanding and capable of producing positive outcomes to the benefit of the countries involved, in the interest of international stability.”

According to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Italy exported over $4 billion in goods to Saudi Arabia, mainly machine parts and medicaments, in 2021. The same year, Saudi exports to Italy — primarily crude and refined petroleum — reached $5.86 billion. In 2022, the volume of trade between Italy and Saudi Arabia reached 11.5 billion euros ($12.04 billion).

A delegation of Saudi entrepreneurs and investors, led by Kamel Al-Munajjed, thepresident of the Saudi-Italian Business Council, met in Rome on Thursday with the Italian Minister for Economic Development Adolfo Urso in May 2023. (Supplied)

Italy and Saudi Arabia are also seeking to diversify their trade ties, particularly as both the Kingdom and the EU are moving away from fossil fuels as part of a transition to “green energy” and economic diversification.

Tajani described the Arab Gulf region as a potential renewable energy powerhouse of strategic importance for both Italy and Europe, maintaining over time its relevance as a key supplier in this domain.

In this regard, he pointed out that the EU plans to import clean electricity and hydrogen under the REPowerEU plan, which aims to end the bloc’s reliance on Russia’s gas supplies by 2030.

“We commend the great efforts undertaken (by the Gulf countries), particularly by Saudi Arabia, in the green transition by investing in solar and wind power and in refocusing fossil fuels for hydrogen production,” Tajani said.

“I am sure that this strategy will guarantee you amazing returns in the long run.” 

The capacity of the world’s largest single-contracted PV solar plant, to be located in Sudair Industrial City in Saudi Arabia’s north, will be 1,500MW. (Supplied)

Elaborating on the issue, he said: “For example, the green hydrogen produced at NEOM (smart city in Saudi Arabia) can indeed feed the European market by transiting through the Italian network.

“In addition, Italy is already acting as a supplier of knowledge and technology for the Kingdom’s journey towards net zero, as many Italian companies are engaged in a number of energy projects with Saudi energy stakeholders, starting from Saudi Aramco and ACWA Power.”

On Sept. 4, ACWA Power signed deals with six Italian companies, including energy firm Eni, additives manufacturer Italmatch Chemicals, industrial solutions provider Industrie De Nora and waste management firm A2A. The agreements, finalized at the Saudi-Italian Investment Forum in Milan, cemented collaboration in the fields of green hydrogen, water desalination, and research into sustainable technologies.

The forum saw 21 cooperation agreements concluded in various sectors, from clean energy and healthcare to real estate and waste management. More than 1,000 companies attended the forum, which was a follow-up to the previous forum held in Riyadh last year.

“(Italy) is only in the top 20 as an investor in the Kingdom, and the value of our bilateral non-oil trade amounts to a mere $1.4 billion — which means we are far from reaching the full potential of our partnership,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih stated at this year’s forum.

Tajani said the Saudi-Italian Investment Forum was successful partly because “many Italian companies got to know the tangible opportunities available under Saudi Vision 2030, both in terms of upcoming tenders in the framework of megaprojects and giga-projects, and in terms of incentives for direct industrial investments.”

With more than 150 Italian companies currently holding foreign investment licenses in Saudi Arabia, there could be far greater economic cooperation on the horizon for the two countries.

Tajani said Italy can contribute to the megaprojects and giga-projects “because of its universally recognized know-how and expertise in sectors on which the Saudi authorities are focusing such as new mobility, new urban and architectural design, new residential areas and new touristic resorts.”

For good measure, he said: “We could collaborate with the Kingdom in getting the most from the nexus between tourism and historical heritage. We are already cooperating for the development of the AlUla and Diriyah UNESCO sites as well as Dumat Al-Jandal, where Italy has an important archeological mission for the last two decades.”

The Italian conservation institute Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale” partnered with the Royal Commission for AlUla this year, which will see 12 Saudi professionals participating in workshops in northern Italy’s Turin and the Kingdom’s cultural heritage site at AlUla.

Last year, Italy was among the top five countries of origin for tourists to Saudi Arabia. The first half of 2022 witnessed around 1,500 Italians travel to the Kingdom.

Rome hosted the Saudi Village in late September this year, giving Italians a chance, in their own capital, to experience the Kingdom’s culture, heritage, cuisine and tourist attractions. Organized by the Saudi Embassy in Italy, the event was held in Villa Borghese, the historical park in the heart of Italy’s capital, with attractions for adults and children.

Casina Valadier in Villa Borghese hosted the Saudi Village from Sept. 25-29. (Supplied)

Several Italian and Saudi Arabia companies were represented at the event, as well as representatives from the Kingdom’s ministries of investment, sports, and education, Saudi Tourism Authority and Royal Commission for AlUla.

Italy is seeking Gulf and Saudi Arabia investments in the “Made in Italy” strategic fund, meant to boost critical supply chains. Referring to the fund, Tajani said it would be “a safe and profitable investment for Gulf sovereign funds, such as the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), considering also that it is in line with their long-term strategies.”

He added: “The fund will be soon in place, after the approval of the parliament, which is underway, and will become a key instrument of Italian industrial policy. Through direct or indirect private equity investments, the fund will boost key Italian companies with considerable growth and of strategic importance for the overall economy.”

A Saudi woman shows her expertise in the Creative Arts for Women for in Rome. (Supplied)

Tajani also said that Italy has launched a series of travelling exhibitions to showcase its manufacturing and creative industries abroad, highlighting their links with the local territory and know-how.

“‘Made in Italy’ is not only the so-called three Fs, namely fashion, food, furniture. In fact, Italy is the second-largest manufacturing country in Europe, a leader in high-value-added sectors, such as mechanics, electronics and pharmaceutical,” Tajani said.

“It is the combination of tradition and innovation that makes Italy capable of producing products that are increasingly appreciated in international markets. Against this backdrop, we would like to expand our economic and commercial partnership with countries like Saudi Arabia, which appreciate the value of Italian know-how, craftsmanship and beauty.”

He cited Ferrari and Maserati as examples of two “very well known ‘Made in Italy’ brands chosen all over the world not for their quality, design and functionality but also for the rich and diversified cultural heritage they embody.”

While Italy is searching for strategic investment from Saudi Arabia, it is also looking beyond the Gulf for partners in economic cooperation, although there are challenges and rewards to being part of international economic blocs.

Italy has recently questioned its continuing role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, while agreeing to join the planned India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, or IMEC, in mid-September.


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“During my recent trip to Beijing, I confirmed Italy’s interest to develop even further our cooperation on many fronts. At the same time, I told my Chinese counterparts that Italy did not benefit from being part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

Tajani’s view is that there are other bilateral frameworks that could help develop and strengthen Italy’s relationship with China.

Looking to the future, he said: “Our government is willing to create stronger ties with key partners in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, and India. Our decision to be part of the IMEC goes exactly in this direction.”

Italy is also seeking partners in the struggle against irregular migration, according to Tajani. “In July, we convened in Rome the International Conference on Development and Migration with key partners from Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf,” he said.

READ MORE: How Saudi-backed India-Middle East corridor is ‘game changer’ for New Delhi

“On that occasion, we launched the Rome Process to establish an inclusive and comprehensive dialogue to put in place wide-ranging cooperation to address the root causes of mass migration, fight against human trafficking and illegal immigration, govern legal migration flows, and support refugees and displaced persons.”

 Tajani praised the participation of Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, Saudi Arabia’s interior minister, for his participation in the summit. “We are grateful for your country’s valuable contribution to its success. Italy and Saudi Arabia share the same view on fighting against human trafficking and criminal networks active in this field,” Tajani said.

Nearly one year has elapsed since the formation of a new government, which has been marked by the rekindling of international diplomatic relations and the rebuilding of bonds with the Arab world. Tajani called the progress made under the current government “remarkable.”

“Our main objective was to strengthen our partnership with Washington, make our voice more relevant in the EU arena, and infuse new energies in our relationship with key players in the Mediterranean, the Gulf, and Africa,” he said.

Italy's PM Giorgia Meloni and Libya's Tripoli-based PM Abdulhamid Dbeibah hold a joint press conference in Tripoli on Jan. 28, 2023. (AFP/File)

The government has made strong efforts toward improving and widening its ties with Arab countries. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. Meloni also visited Libya’s capital Tripoli in January this year, and recently spoke to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the phone.

“Building upon the work we have done, we will keep creating new partnerships aimed at forging those alliances that are necessary to tackle the challenges of our times,” Tajani said.

Given Italy’s record of frequent government changes, did Tajani think the intense diplomatic activity will outlive the current government?

“I am confident that this government will arrive at the end of its five-year mandate. The majority in the parliament is strong and the Italian people trust us.”


Julia Ormond sues Harvey Weinstein saying he assaulted her; accuses CAA, Disney, Miramax of enabling

Julia Ormond sues Harvey Weinstein saying he assaulted her; accuses CAA, Disney, Miramax of enabling
Updated 04 October 2023

Julia Ormond sues Harvey Weinstein saying he assaulted her; accuses CAA, Disney, Miramax of enabling

Julia Ormond sues Harvey Weinstein saying he assaulted her; accuses CAA, Disney, Miramax of enabling
  • Ormond filed the case in state Supreme Court in Manhattan under the Adult Survivors Act
  • She accuses him of committing sexual battery against her in December 1995

NEW YORK: Julia Ormond, who starred in films alongside the likes of Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford in the 1990s before her spotlight faded, filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in 1995 and then hindering her career.
Ormond, who also accuses the Walt Disney Company, Miramax and her former agents of knowing Weinstein was a problem but doing nothing about it, filed the case in state Supreme Court in Manhattan under the Adult Survivors Act, a law passed last year that allows a temporary window for those who allege sexual assault to file past the state's normal deadlines.
In her suit, Ormond says she was a star on the rise when she met Weinstein in 1994. She says she kept in touch with him to discuss scripts and projects, and in 1995 entered into a production agreement with Miramax, where he was co-chairman. She accuses him of committing sexual battery against her in December 1995 after a business meeting, and then retaliating against her and negatively affecting her career after she confronted him weeks later.
The British actress says she told her U.S. agents at the time, Creative Artists Agency, but received no support and was advised not to take any legal action or other steps. She accuses CAA, Disney and Miramax, saying that they knew Weinstein presented a danger to women but did nothing to stop him or to help her.
Weinstein, 71, was convicted of rape and sexual assault in New York in 2020 and is in prison in the state. Last year, he also was convicted of another rape in Los Angeles. He has appealed both convictions.
Weinstein attorney Imran Ansari said his client “categorically denies the allegations made against him by Julia Ormond and he is prepared to vehemently defend himself.”
Emails seeking comment were sent to CAA, Disney and Miramax.

‘Left in dark’: Indian-trained Afghan cadets face limbo with no army to serve

‘Left in dark’: Indian-trained Afghan cadets face limbo with no army to serve
Updated 04 October 2023

‘Left in dark’: Indian-trained Afghan cadets face limbo with no army to serve

‘Left in dark’: Indian-trained Afghan cadets face limbo with no army to serve
  • 82 Afghan cadets have been stranded in India since the Taliban takeover in 2021
  • Afghan Embassy offered them some support, but it ceased operations in India

NEW KDELHI: Ajmal Hoodman took a course at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun to undergo training and return to Afghanistan as an officer. But everything suddenly changed in August 2021, when the government that sent him to India collapsed as the Taliban took over the country.
Hoodman, 27, who graduated as lieutenant four months later, no longer had an army to serve.
He is not the only one. A few dozen more Afghan cadets, not only of the Dehradun academy but also the National Defence Academy in Pune and the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, found themselves stranded in India, some fearing for their lives under Afghanistan’s new rulers, whom many of them had earlier fought.
“Many of us got inspired by our grand family members and for most of us it was a dream, pride and honor to wear the army uniform,” Hoodman told Arab News.
“In total, we are 82 Afghan National Army officers.”
That army, which supported Afghanistan’s previous Western-backed administration, no longer exists.
Indian military schools started to train Afghans in 1948. The academies have a set number of seats allocated for cadets from friendly foreign nations and the fees are covered by their respective countries.
The NDA, which admits cadets directly after school, provides a graduate degree from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
After completing this degree, cadets proceed to the Indian Military Academy for a year-long specialized military training, leading to their commission as army officers.
Parvez Amna Bakhshi, a 23-year-old boxing and Kung Fu medalist with a merit card from the NDA, graduated in November 2022.
But his training is not complete yet. For nearly a year, he has been waiting for clearance to continue the program and to have his student visa reviewed.
Bakhshi comes from Panjshir, a region that has a history of resistance. In the 1980s, its famed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud defended it from Soviet forces and in the 1990s led an offensive against the first Taliban regime.
In 2021, Panjshir was the last to fall to Taliban forces.
“We are ready to give blood to take our country back, but due to lack of support and leadership, resistance against the Taliban is not possible,” he told Arab News.
Bakhshi’s name is permanently engraved in the NDA gymnasium, owing to his accomplishments. They mean little, however, in a reality where he and his fellow cadets are left in limbo.
“We’re unable to cover our finances,” he said. “India has left us in the dark.”
The Afghan Embassy in New Delhi had earlier offered some support to them, but now even the embassy is no more. The mission ceased its operations on Oct. 1, citing a lack of support from Indian authorities.
India does not recognize the Taliban government and suspended its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after their return to power. In June 2022, New Delhi deployed a “technical team” to the Afghan capital to “monitor and coordinate” Indian humanitarian assistance there.
Since then, the embassy, whose staff were appointed by the previous regime, lost its diplomatic significance. The mission said in a statement announcing the closure that it could not “function normally” in the “absence of diplomatic consideration and systemic support” from the Indian government.
Bakhshi had hoped for the much-coveted scholarship of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Including Afghans in the ICCR’s annual program for foreign nationals seeking undergraduate and postgraduate education in India was part of New Delhi’s efforts to strengthen ties with the government in Kabul. Under the scholarship, Afghan students received a stipend of $300 and housing assistance.
Bakhshi has been trying to get it — to no avail.
“This scholarship can at least help us continue our degree or learn some other skill so as to take up a job, as our financial situation is too bad,” he said. “We are just spending what we have in our savings, which won’t last long.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not respond to requests for comment on the status of Afghan cadets.
Out of 82, two have their stay secured under the ICCR scheme and another nine are still undergoing training at their respective academies. The rest are idle and in legal limbo.
“Each of us is ready to give our lives for our country, but right now it’s about supporting ourselves and our families back home,” said Lt. Esmatullah Asil, a 27-year-old graduate of the Dehradun academy.
“So many times, we knocked on different doors, but they just gave excuses. Our expectation is only visa or scholarships, which is not a very big deal.”

Panic-buying hits Malaysia after Indian curbs on rice exports

Panic-buying hits Malaysia after Indian curbs on rice exports
Updated 04 October 2023

Panic-buying hits Malaysia after Indian curbs on rice exports

Panic-buying hits Malaysia after Indian curbs on rice exports
  • Price of imports rose by over 30 percent last month
  • Sellers say they are facing shortage in supply of local grain

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shoppers are emptying rice shelves as panic-buying spreads across a country that is grappling with rising prices following India’s decision to ban exports of the food staple.
International rice supply has been squeezed after the world’s biggest rice exporter banned shipments of the grain in July. This has led to rising costs and concerns over supply shortages in Asia, which accounts for about 90 percent of global rice consumption.
The ban’s impacts are being felt particularly keenly in Malaysia, a country of more than 32 million people that imports about a third of its rice needs.
With the retail price of imported white rice estimated to have risen by more than 30 percent last month, retailers in Kuala Lumpur have cited a shortage of local rice supply. This followed people seeking out cheaper options and panic-buying in different parts of the country.
“We don’t have the stock for local rice, and it has been like that for quite some time,” Sin, a clerk at Usaha Jaya wholesaler in Kuala Lumpur, told Arab News on Wednesday.
Most consumers now have to opt for the more expensive imported rice due to a shortage of local grain, said Sin, whose shop mainly supplies smaller stores in the capital.
“Nowadays, most people are buying imported rice because there is no supply of local rice. The cost of rice has increased a lot,” he said.
Malaysia this week introduced a subsidy and other measures to lower rice prices amid the crisis, including a task force to inspect local supply chains. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has even warned of legal action against anyone found hoarding rice.
The government maintains that enough rice is available, with Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu reportedly saying on Monday that there was no shortage of rice in the country and urging people not to panic-buy.
But Khor Cheng Hai, who sells rice at Kindness Enterprise, said he has been unable to secure stock of locally produced rice.
“Before this, there was panic-buying among our customers. But now, not anymore … We sell imported rice here, we tried to order local rice, but (wholesalers) said there is no stock,” Khor told Arab News.
“It’s not just my shop, my customers went to (other shops) and they complained that there is no local rice too. The government always said in the media that there were enough stocks of local rice.
“But when we ordered (these), there was no local rice available. What can we do?”
Malaysia’s rice crisis highlights faults within an industry that has been “trending downward,” said Prof. Fatimah Mohamed Arshad, a senior fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs.
“As production declines, the dependency on imports increases together with imported inflation,” Arshad said in a statement.
“India’s export-ban shock plunged the country into ‘rice shortage and price crises’, which is avoidable if Malaysia had been able to ensure rice supply security through higher productivity and production and a more competitive industry.”
The government has said it wants to urge rice supplier nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, such as Thailand and Vietnam, to prioritize exports of the grain to fellow member states.

ASEAN is a gateway for Kuala Lumpur to easily source rice from abroad, said Dr. Larry Wong, a senior visiting fellow at the Institute of Strategic & International Studies in Malaysia.
“A lot of this settlement is bilateral, Peninsular Malaysia is very connected to the ASEAN continent and rice can come through by sea, by rail and road. There shouldn’t be a problem,” Wong told Arab News.
“Malaysia is very lucky as we are a small, open economy but a big trading nation,” he said. “Don’t source from the same country, but source from different countries. Disruption like this will never stop.
“Disruption like this also cannot stay for long.”