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Sunday, October 10, 2010

UK aid worker killed in Afghanistan

A British aid worker kidnapped by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan last month has been killed during a rescue attempt by Nato-led Isaf forces.

"Linda Norgrove was travelling north of Jalalabad up to Kunar province where she was to open a charity project, when she was taken hostage," Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reported from Afghanistan.

"The Taliban group who took her initially asked for a prisoner exchange for a Pakistani neuroscientist who had recently been jailed in New York for 86 years for attempting to kill US soldiers and agents," our correspondent said on Saturday.

Norgrove, 36, had been held hostage in eastern Afghanistan since September 26 after being kidnapped with three of her Afghan colleagues in southern Kunar province.

William Hague, the British foreign secretary, released a statement saying: "It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker, was killed at the hands of her captors in the course of a rescue attempt last night."

But our correspondent said the details of her death are not clear.

"Coalition forces discovered where she was being kept. Last night, they attempted to free her. The British foreign secretary said that her captors killed her. But Afghan sources are saying it's not yet clear whether she was killed by the Taliban or killed in the crossfire," Turton said.

Italians killed

In another development on Saturday, four Italian Nato soldiers died and another was wounded after a roadside bomb planted by suspected anti-government fighters blew up their vehicle in southwestern Afghanistan, officials say.

The blast occurred as the troops returned from a security operation in the Gulistan valley in Farah province.

The soldiers were escorting a convoy of 70 civilian lorries when a powerful home-made bomb exploded, the Italian news agency Ansa reported.

General Massimo Fogari, the head of the press service at the defence chief of staff, said, "After the blast, the convoy came under fire until the attackers were forced to flee."

He said that it was a Taliban-style attack.

The deaths brought the number of Nato forces killed this month to 24. At least 2,012 foreign service members have died since the US-led invasion in 2001 that removed the Taliban from power, according to a count by the Associated Press news agency.

The attack on the foreign troops came a day after Mohammad Omar, the governor of Kunduz province who was a vocal critic of the Taliban and had been the target of several previous attacks, was killed along with more than a dozen other people in a bomb blast at a mosque.

The blast occurred during Friday prayers at the Shirkat mosque in Taluqan, the main city of Takhar province, where Omar had reportedly travelled to because of security concerns in Kunduz.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Wee: They aren't heroes but primitive men

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA Youth took a swipe at certain quarters who dreamt of becoming national heroes by harping on racial issues.

Its Youth chief Wee Ka Siong called them not heroes but “primitive men”.

He said these "primitive men" who stirred up racial discontent did not fit in the current 21st century, adding that the people were not interested in glamour or those masquerading as national heroes because all these were insignificant.

Wee described such extremism as unacceptable and very damaging.

“Worse, they justified their acts and claim themselves to be national heroes. In fact, what they are doing is for their own personal again; and all done at the expense of the country’s unity, development and future.

“Today, MCA Youth wants to tell the 'primitive men' this: “You do not fit in modern times, and it is better you go back to ancient times!” Wee said at the 46th MCA Youth annual general assembly here today.

He was addressing the assembly which was opened by MCA deputy president Liow Tiong Lai and attended by Youth leaders from other component parties, including BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

He also urged the Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership to draw a clear line on extremist groups in the country.

He said this was imperative as the BN had to lobby for support from the people and ensure no one was left out in the process of development.

Draw a clear line

Wee added that MCA Youth had always spoken up against extremists and would not give in to them.

“We respect our social contract and Federal Constitution. But we will not allow the costitution to be interpreted, using their (extremists) whims and fancies.

"I must stress here that the Barisan Nasional leadership must draw a clear line on the extremists or extremist groups," he said

Wee, who is also deputy education minister, urged the government to increase the size of the country’s economic cake and let more people have a share.

He said what was more important was that the government could be the captain for local entrepreneurs -- regardless of race and brands -- to promote local products abroad.

“We must have a global view of the economy and equip ourselves to be competitive in the international arena. We must change our mindset and must not confine ourselves in our little world,” he said.

As such, in the nation’s pursuit to enhance innovation, Wee suggested the government establish the 'Innovation Award', including sponsoring innovation projects or giving incentives or tax rebates to those involved in innovation, to encourage more people to be involved in innovation.

“We could include the subject of innovative talent education and emphasise on innovation requirement in the other subjects like fashion design, interior design and advertising,” he said.

A total of 888 out of 1,736 central delegates attended the wing's AGM.


Hishammuddin to meet Johor Sultan about Moorthy

(Bernama) -- Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein will have an audience with the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, on Tuesday over a sensitive statement made by Waytha Moorthy.

Waytha Moorthy who fled overseas had questioned the position of the Malays and Malay rulers in a posting on the website Free Malaysia Today (FMT) on Oct 7.

Hishammuddin said that he would ask police to study the matter (Waytha Moorthy''s statement) as it involved the very sensitive monarchy institution.

Waytha Moorthy''s statement was to create hatred towards the rulers and to dupe the people''s thinking, he told reporters at Selayang Umno Aidilfitri gathering in Kuang, Rawang today.

He said the monarchy institution is the patron for all races and religions and not for one particular race.

The ministry would discuss with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) since it would be a technical investigation.

'Don't let Hindraf chief in, close down FMT'

(Bernama) - Johor Baru Umno Youth today called for Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairman P Waytha Moorthy to be denied entry into the country for having allegedly disputed a statement made by the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

Its head, Khalid Mohamad, said Waytha Moorthy's statement on the FreeMalaysiaToday website was inexcusable because it seemed like he was questioning the powers vested in the Malay rulers.

"We will ask the government to deny the Hindraf chairman entry into the country and to close down the FreeMalaysiaToday (FMT) website as it is a threat to national security," he said.

Khalid spoke to reporters after leading a peaceful demonstration by 200 people in a protest against the statement by the Hindraf leader, who is based in the United Kingdom, at the Larkin public transport terminal here.

He said the demonstration was to remind the people not to question the powers vested in the Malay rulers and the special privileges of the Malays enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

The sultan had on Oct 4 reminded all quarters not to question the powers of the rulers and the special privileges of the Malays as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

MCA Youth Passes 14 Resolutions At 46th AGM

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 (Bernama) -- The MCA Youth 46th annual general assembly today passed 14 resolutions covering four main areas, namely party affairs, politics, economy and education.

The resolutions, tabled by the wing's deputy speaker, Gan Ping Sieu, were unanimously accepted by all 888 central delegates who attended the AGM at Wisma MCA here.

They agreed to fully support the central leadership of MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, besides focusing on the Eight Point Action Plan which was decided by the central leadership, as well as unite all party members in facing the challenges of the 13th General Election.

They also urged the party to choose and train young party members of great calibre, as a strategy for the sake of the party's future.

The delegates also agreed that the government must set new guidelines on the reward and punishment system for all civil servants.

This is to enable the government to have the authority to hire and fire civil servants to curb corruption, power abuse and biasness in government administrations, thereby, increasing the efficiency of the country's administrative system and competitiveness.

The resolutions called on the government to redefine the National Civics Bureau training syllabus, remove all likely racist contents, instil a sense of greater patriotism amongst civil servants and carry out its responsibilities fairly, regardless of one's race.

The delegates also passed a resolution to warn all parties not to politicise racial issues, or call for the abolishment of Chinese-type national schools.

It said that MCA Youth would protect the basic rights of all races and ensure that any individual or organisation attempting to take away those rights would be brought to justice.

On supporting the stand of 'Malaysians first', MCA Youth also agreed that the government should take harsh action in meting out punishment against civil servants who made statements such as "Go back to China".

The Barisan Nasional government must be firm in disassociating itself from organisations such as the Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) to ease the ever-worsening racial tension.

On other matters, the delegates agreed to fully support the EconomicTransformation Programme and New Economy Model, proposed minimum wages and that awarding of Public Service Department scholarships be based on meritocracy.