KUALA LUMPUR, August 22 -- As many as 20 flights, including by Emirates and ANA Holdings Inc, from Kuala Lumpur International Airport are delayed after check-in and baggage systems were disrupted from Wednesday night (Aug 21).
Both the main and the low-cost KLIA2 terminals were affected by disruptions that brought down the flight information display, check-in counters, baggage handling and Wi-Fi connection, airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) said in a statement. “Since the disruption, our team has been working round the clock, not only to rectify the situation, but also to minimise the inconvenience caused to passengers. “The disrupted connection has affected several airport systems such as WIFI connection, Flight Information Display System (FIDS), Check-In-Counters, Baggage Handling Systems (BHS),” it said. Malaysia Airports said all relevant airport staff have been deployed to assist passengers on the ground as we expect the situation to continue throughout the day today. It advised passengers to reach the airport at least four hours before their flight departure time and to check with the airlines for the latest flight schedules. The airport operator said it will be issuing further updates on the situation either through its social media platforms or news releases.
“Meanwhile, do reach out to our Airport CARE Ambassadors or contact 03-8776 2000 if you require information regarding your flight details,” it said.
NEW YORK, August 8 -- Islamic State is reinvesting in its ability to carry out sophisticated operations from Europe to South Asia by the end of 2019, a United Nations report has found.
“The ISIS covert network in the Syrian Arab Republic is spreading, and cells are being established at the provincial level, mirroring that which has been happening since 2017 in Iraq,” the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said. In the near term, the Islamic State will rely on locally-planned attacks in “unexpected locations,” similar to the Easter bombings carried out in Sri Lanka, they assessed. But the report, presented to the Security Council in July, warns that externally-planned attacks in high profile locations could ramp up as early as four months from now. “ISIS will reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks when it has the secure space and time to do so. The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019,” it said. Tens of thousands of Islamic State loyalists and their children are now corralled in desert camps in northeastern Syria, where they were detained by US-backed Kurdish forces following the surrender of the last pocket of the caliphate in March. Neighboring Turkey has now threatened to seize the area from the Kurds – raising the possibility that some of Islamic State’s most hardcore members could escape.
Get out of jail
The UN report estimates that up to 30,000 foreign nationals who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the caliphate are still alive, whether at large in the region, detained or relocated to Europe. These caliphate veterans now pose a radicalization threat, whether in prison or out. “The radicalization of criminals within the prison system remains a critical concern in Europe, where prisons provide a venue for inmates afflicted by poverty, marginalization, frustration, low self-esteem and violence to be influenced by radical ideologies,” it said. “In addition, some of the first wave of returnees from the ‘caliphate’ to be imprisoned are expected to be released in the coming year.” The monitoring team which carried out the report emphasized that data on the exact number of repatriations of foreign fighters to Europe and other regions remains sketchy. Approximately 2,000 nationals from the former Soviet states are now detained in northeastern Syria. Central Asian nations including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan cite their own citizens returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq are currently their primary terrorist threat. Central Asian migrant laborer communities in Russia and Turkey are also seen as particularly vulnerable to recruitment. The report also flags South and Southeast Asia as prime targets for Islamic State returnees, as evidenced by both successful and thwarted attacks. “Two troubling trends observed are the targeting of places of worship and the continued prominence of women in operational activities,” it said. Both returnees and attempted jihadists have been linked to attacks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Islamic State has been resourceful in financing its activities post-caliphate, the report found, using small and medium-sized business to generate revenue, offering “seed money” to new affiliates and stashing valuable antiquities for a rainy day. “One Member State described ISIS affiliates being treated in a manner similar to start-up businesses, receiving ‘seed money’ and advice from head office,” it said. The group is estimated to have anywhere from US$50-300 million at its disposal to carry out its activities. However, “the group is adapting to its insurgency role with far fewer demands on its financial holdings.” The UN investigators learned that monetary transfers persist, with family members of active militants using personal or small business bank accounts in countries neighboring a given conflict zone – the cash then passed on by courier. Mobile payment applications and crypto currencies are cited as ripe for exploitation. A special ISIS unit – the ministry of “natural resources” – is believed to be responsible for the sale of antiquities which the group had excavated in Iraq and Syria. “Details of traded antiquities, as well as the current location of any stored antiquities, are assessed to be known only by ISIS leaders.” Preserving that leadership, at the top of which is self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains the primary concern of the group.
DUNGUN, July 25 -- China and Malaysia resumed construction on a massive "Belt and Road" train project in northern Malaysia on Thursday, after a year-long suspension and following a rare agreement to cut the cost by nearly a third to about US$11 billion.
The project was initially canceled by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who came to power after a shock election victory in May last year, as he followed through a pledge to renegotiate or cancel "unfair" Chinese mega-projects approved by his predecessor, Najib Razak. But in April, the close trade partners agreed to proceed with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) at a cost of 44 billion ringgit ($10.7 billion), reducing it from 65.5 billion ringgit. The 640 kilometre line, with China Communications Construction Co Ltd as the lead contractor, will connect Port Klang on the Straits of Malacca with the city of Kota Bharu in northeast peninsular Malaysia. The agreement to resume work on the project had immediately boosted confidence in Malaysia among foreign investors, China's ambassador to Malaysia said at a ceremony in the coastal district of Dungun. Flanked by cranes and trucks parked near a partly completed section of a tunnel, Ambassador Bai Tian spoke of "a great wave" of potential Chinese investors coming to Malaysia for field studies, and he expected many of them to decide to invest.
China is debt-heavy Malaysia's biggest trade partner and the countries have close cultural ties too. Ambassador Bai said the completion of the ECRL, expected by December 2026, could more than double the number of Chinese tourists coming in to Malaysia from 3 million last year. Malaysia Rail Link, the project's local partner, said in a statement that up to 70% of the workers will be local and that domestic contractors will get 40% of the civil works. The Belt and Road Initiative has been praised for its potential to speed up economic development in many developing countries, but also criticised for potentially saddling many of them with unsustainable debt. Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told Reuters on Monday that Beijing had offered them more BRI infrastructure investments and that Kuala Lumpur would consider them "if the pricing is right". Malaysia is already identifying new joint investment opportunities with China along the ECRL corridor, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said at the Dungun event.
BANGKOK, July 18 -- Thailand were assigned in Group G alongside not just Asian powerhouses such as the UAE and regional No1 Vietnam but also Malaysia and Indonesia. The teams will play each other both home and away.
It will serve as a tough baptism for newly-appointed national coach Akira Nishino from Japan, who is due to officially sign a contract with the Football Association of Thailand in Japan on Friday. The second round of Asian qualification for the 2022 World Cup consists of eight groups, each with five nations. The eight group leaders and four best second-placed teams will move into the third round and will automatically qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China. Thailand’s opening qualifier will be against Vietnam on September 5. Thailand were placed in a tricky group with the United Arab Emirates and arch-rivals Vietnam when the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification draw was conducted in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
DEN HAAG, June 20 -- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday slammed his Malaysian counterpart for creating "confusion" by criticising a decision to charge four people over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Mahathir Mohamad had called the move by Dutch-led investigators to charge three Russians and a Ukrainian with murder for the 2014 disaster "ridiculous" and "politically motivated" against Moscow. "I can imagine that relatives must be very disappointed about it and also that it sows confusion," Rutte told reporters ahead of an EU summit in Brussels when asked about Mahathir's remarks. Rutte said the Dutch foreign ministry would contact the Malaysian government about Mahathir's comments, adding that he wanted "to await the results of this first before making further statements". The Boeing 777 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was blown apart by a missile over part of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed rebels on July 17, 2014.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. The crash killed all the 283 passengers, citizens of 10 countries, and 15 crew members. In spite of the active armed conflict on the ground, Kiev didn't close its airspace over the Donbass region to international passenger flights. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisting of representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, was set up to investigate the tragedy. In June 2017, the JIT countries made a decision that the hearing will be held in a Dutch court under the Dutch laws. The Netherlands’ prosecution heads the JIT and will be responsible for filing the case and presenting the details. In accordance with the decision of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, the case will be heard at the Schiphol Judicial Complex in the town of Badhoevedorp. In May 2018, Australia and the Netherlands said that they would seek to hold Russia responsible for complicity in the plane crash on the grounds of the provisional report published by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) claiming that the missile system that was used to down Flight MH17 could have been transferred from Russia and be a part of the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade near Kursk. Moscow rejects the JIT accusations. Particularly, the Russian Defense Ministry said that no Russian army missile system had ever crossed the Ukrainian border. Moreover, the defense ministry’s representatives reported that they had identified the missile that was launched to down the Boeing and established that it was transferred over to the Ukrainian troops back in 1986 and had never returned to Russia since.
DEN HAAG, June 15 -- Investigators will next week announce criminal proceedings against suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 five years ago, allegedly by pro-Russian separatists.
MH17 was shot out of the sky over territory held by separatists in eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board. There were 38 Australians, one New Zealander, 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 12 Indonesians were aboard, as well as 10 British passengers. The other passengers were from Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.
Dutch prosecutors said yesterday a multinational investigation team would present its latest findings to media and families on June 19. A spokesman for the national Dutch prosecution service declined to specify what would be announced. Citing anonymous sources reported that the public prosecution service had decided to launch a case against several MH17 suspects. Also reported that criminal proceedings will be announced against individual suspects. No suspects were named in the reports.
The Joint Investigation Team, which seeks to try the suspects under Dutch law, has said the missile system came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.
Investigators had said their next step would be to identify individual culprits and to attempt to put them on trial.
Dutch officials have said Russia has refused to cooperate. Russia is not expected to surrender any potential suspects who may be on its territory and authorities have said individuals could be tried in absentia. The Joint Investigation Team was formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine to investigate collaboratively. The Netherlands and Australia hold Russia legally responsible. Moscow denies all involvement and maintains that it does not support, financially or with equipment, pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops.
BANGKOK, June 4 -- Police and troops stepped up security in Songkhla province, and especially the town of Hat Yai, on Tuesday ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival.
Tuesday is the last day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. A security source said intelligence agencies believed Muslim insurgents would step up attacks on this day prior to Wednesday’s start of Eid, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. Officials were strictly checking motorcycles and other vehicles at road checkpoints on Tuesday. Within business areas and shopping malls in downtown Hat Yai, security officials increased the frequency of patrols as the number of Thai and Malaysian Muslim visitors increased. Officials expected more tourists on Wednesday and so are implementing increased security measures.
KUALA LUMPUR, MAY 31 -- The Malaysian government wants strong evidence to show that Russia is responsible for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy in 2014, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"They are accusing Russia, but where is the evidence? "We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian-type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine. "You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians. "It could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile,” he said during a dialogue and media conference with the Japanese Foreign Correspondent Club (FCCJ) here on Thursday (May 30).
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia accepted the investigation report by Holland but only up the point where the plane was brought down by a missile made by Russia. He said while the government agreed that the plane was brought down by a Russian missile, it could not be ascertained that the missile was launched by Russia. The Russians were a military people and they would know that MH17 was a passenger plane, he added. "I don’t think very highly disciplined party is responsible for launching the missile,” he said. The Prime Minister said Malaysia should also have been involved in the examining the black box as the plane belonged to Malaysia and there were Malaysians passengers. "We may not have the expertise, but we can buy the expertise. For some reasons, Malaysia was not allowed to check the black box to see what happened. "We don’t know why we were excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it, and the idea was not to find out how this happened but seemed to be concentrated on trying to pin it on the Russians. "This is not a neutral kind of examination,” said Dr Mahathir.
Had a neutral party examined and made the conclusion, Malaysia would be willing to accept the findings but here we have parties with political interests in the matter, he added. Flight MH17, which departed from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam on its way to Kuala Lumpur, was shot before crashing near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, about 40km from the Russian border on July 17, 2014. The incident killed 298 people, including 15 crew members. Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said the team was convinced that a BUK TELAR missile was used to down MH17, and that it originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (53rd Brigade), which is a unit of the Russian Army in Kursk in the Russian Federation.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 -- A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killingthe half-brother of North Korea's leader has been freed.
Doan Thi Huong, 30, was charged along with an Indonesian woman of poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Huong received a jail term of several years which was cut due to sentence remissions. After a lengthy trial, Doan Thi Huong pleaded guilty last month to a lesser charge of "causing injury" over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam, making her the only person convicted for a murder that made headlines around the world. Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge following that. She was freed from a prison outside the Malaysian capital at about 7:20am (23:20 GMT Thursday), her lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told AFP news agency, adding that she would return to Vietnam later on Friday. Weeks earlier, Indonesian Siti Aisyah - the only other person to face trial over the killing - was released and flew home after her murder charge was withdrawn. The pair always denied having committed murder, arguing that they were pawns in a plan hatched by North Korean agents who fled Malaysia after the killing. South Korea accused Pyongyang of plotting the assassination. Journalists waiting outside the jail saw a van and a car with tinted windows race past, and a court official at the scene also confirmed Huong had been released.
Speaking before her release, Hisyam had said she was "definitely looking forward to going home". The 30-year-old former hair salon worker was expected to head to an immigration office in the administrative capital Putrajaya to sort out documentation, before flying to Vietnam. Other suspects in the killing of Kim Jong Nam have escaped justice. Exclusive pictures shows the man believed to be the chemist who prepared the VX nerve agent that killed Nam. In exclusive video thought to be captured in late 2017, he is seen, relaxed and happy while singing Karaoke in a restaurant in China with his wife and friends. "There was a golden opportunity to hold them accountable," Hoo Chiew Ping of the National University of Malaysia said. "We have completely lost that."
While there is relief for the women - who said they believed they were taking part in a TV show prank - those behind the plot are unlikely to ever face justice. "The assassins have not been brought to justice," said Hisyam, adding the women's legal teams consistently argued their North Korean handlers were the real murderers. The pair were arrested after they were captured on airport CCTV cameras walking up behind Kim, as he waited for a flight, and one was seen clasping her hands over his face. Kim, heir apparent to North Korea's leadership until he was exiled from his homeland, died in agony shortly afterwards, his face smeared with poison. The defence stage of the case was due to start in March, but in a shock move, prosecutors announced they were withdrawing the murder charge against Aisyah, 27, and she flew back to Jakarta. Her release followed intense diplomatic pressure from Indonesia, including from President Joko Widodo. Vietnam then stepped up pressure for Huong's murder charge to be dropped. Their initial request was refused, but at the start of April prosecutors offered her a reduced charge, paving the way for her release.