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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pakatan says won’t slash civil service size

Salahuddin said PR would guarantee the positions of the 1.2 million-strong civil service. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) says it will not trim the bloated civil service if it takes over Putrajaya, but will instead focus on making government staff more efficient. In what appeared to be a move to quell public sector anger over DAP publicity chief Tony Pua’s proposal to reduce civil service headcount, the opposition pact today pledged to retain existing staff should it come to govern Malaysia.
“Pakatan Rakyat would like to clarify that the position of the 1.2 million civil servants and officers will be guaranteed, as enshrined in [Articles 132 and 135] of the Constitution,” Salahuddin Ayub told reporters in the Parliament lobby.
The PAS vice president was flanked by PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar and PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Salahuddin pointed out that PR had acknowledged in its alternative Budget the important role civil servants played in carrying out government policies and any attempt to suggest otherwise was slander.
He said the opposition understood that political interference had led to a drop in public sector efficiency and promised a stop to such intervention if PR seized Putrajaya.
Nurul added that PR also intended to get rid of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and consultants if voted in as the government, to cut Putrajaya’s operating expenditure.
Pua had previously said that DAP would work towards progressively improving the efficiency of Malaysia’s bloated civil service by terminating government staff who failed to perform once PR secures federal power.
But Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof said on Monday Putrajaya cannot cut the civil service headcount as manpower was needed to implement the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).
“It’s easy for DAP to talk but the Barisan Nasional government has plans which need continuity, such as the GTP, and it definitely involves civil servants,” he had said.
The 2011 UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) noted that Malaysia has the largest civil service in the region with a civil servant to population ratio of 4.68, compared to Indonesia’s 1.79, South Korea’s 1.85 and Thailand’s 2.06.

Selangor upset over ‘royal’ intervention

In July, the Sultan of Selangor ordered assemblymen to pass amendments giving him more power over Islamic affairs.

PETALING JAYA: Selangor state assemblymen are seeing red with what appears to be royal intervention in the running of the State Legislative Assembly.

In July, every state assemblyman allegedy received a letter from Sultan Sharafudin Idris Shah, commanding them to agree to amendments that would supposedly give the Ruler more power over Islamic affairs.

Pakatan Rakyat state assemblymen suspect that the hand of Umno was behind the move, which they say could have led to a constitutional crisis.

One, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said they saw the letter on their desks at about 9:30am when they attended the July 11 state assembly sitting.

The letter was accompanied by a Selangor government gazette with proposed amendments to the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.

“We did not know what to do,” the assemblyman told FMT. “We were totally shocked. It was a very delicate situation. If we went against it, it would have caused a constitutional crisis.

“The Sultan is supposed to act on the advice of the state government, not the other way around. Even in the matters of Islam and Malay culture, the Sultan has to act on the advice of the state administration.
“We didn’t want to fight the palace, we had respect for the palace. We let it pass.”

He added that if the assembly had snubbed the letter and voted against the proposed amendments, it would have been played to the hilt by both the mainstream media and the Umno-led state opposition.

Sultan’s letter

A copy of the letter was given to FMT by an anonymous sender. It was issued from the Alam Shah palace in Klang on July 11 and has the Sultan’s signature on it.

“As the head of Islam in the state, I am responsible for ensuring that the administration of Islam in the state operates smoothly and effectively,” the letter reads (see below).

“Therefore, I command all Yang Berhormat Members (of the Selangor State Assembly) to agree with the proposed amendments presented and approve the Bill so that these proposed amendments can be implemented immediately.”

A letter from the Sultan’s private secretary, Mohamed Munir Bani, to state assembly secretary Mohamad Yasin Bidin was also provided to FMT.

It reads: “I respectfully present the decree of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor… to be distributed to all Selangor State Assemblymen immediately.”

The proposed amendments would:
  • Make the administration of all mosques and suraus fall under the purview of the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS).
  • This responsibility was previously held by the director of Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS).
  • Give the Sultan the right to directly appoint anyone to the post of MAIS secretary.
  • Remove the need to record in verbatim every resolution and policy made during MAIS meetings.
  • Require all practising Syariah lawyers in the state to be Muslim.
  • Require cheques issued by MAIS to be drawn according to its own financial procedures.
  • Remove the need for MAIS and any corporation established under the Enactment to adhere to provisions in the Statutory Bodies (Accounts and Annual Reports) Act 1980.
  • Give MAIS the power not only to collect zakat and tithes, but also to distribute it.
  • Give MAIS the power to appoint anyone as mosque officials.
  • Give MAIS the right to control and direct the duties of mosque committees.
There were 22 clauses stated in the provided gazette, with amendments to 21 sections within the Enactment.

Phone call from palace

Another assemblyman, who also spoke to FMT anonymously, said that the proposed amendments were initially made available at a state pre-council meeting, a “few days” before July 11.

According to him, many state assemblymen present at the meeting were unhappy with the bill and hotly debated the details.

“They voiced their displeasure at the bill,” he said. “They felt they should have been consulted first because of its importance.”

Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, according to the assemblyman, said he was troubled by the introduction of the amendments.

“The MB requested that the bill be kept in abeyance pending further study.”

The Selangor mufti, state legal adviser and aides to the various assemblymen were also at the meeting, according to the assemblymen.

“The MB asked the officers to leave and the assemblymen to stay to discuss the bill.”

Halfway through the discussion, the assemblyman said, Khalid had to step out to take a call from the palace. Apparently, the displeasure of the state assemblymen had been conveyed to the palace.

“The MB did not make it clear what the palace had said, but the assemblymen took the cue, and understanding his (Khalid) predicament, did not pursue the postponement of the bill.”

According to the assemblyman, the Sultan exceeded his powers when he ordered assemblymen to pass the amendments. Nevertheless, the bill was passed after three readings.

One of FMT’s sources said he expects to see royal influence expand to “unknown arms at this juncture”.
Umno, he said, was “definitely” behind the letter from the palace. He claimed that MAIS was staffed by “a number of Umno or pro-Umno people.”

Umno’s hand

A Pakatan Rakyat leader, who asked to remain anonymous, also said he suspected that Umno had pushed the palace.

“The Sultan has been advised by Umno for 50 years,” he said. “This put His Majesty in a very difficult situation.

“This was a ploy by Umno to put Pakatan at loggerheads with the Sultan.”

He defended the Sultan as an “objective” person, but said Mohamad Munir, being pro-Umno, had made it difficult for Khalid to get an audience.

Sungai Panjang state assemblyman Mohamed Khir Toyo claimed ignorance of the matter, while Seri Serdang assemblyman and state opposition leader Mohamad Satim Diman could not be contacted.

Semenyih state assemblyman Johan Aziz scoffed at Pakatan’s claim that Umno was behind the Sultan’s letter.

“Everything is about Umno, even floods, although it’s from God,” he said. “It’s all Umno, Umno, Umno. All the good things that Umno does, they never talk about.”

However, Johan declined to comment on the Selangor government’s alleged loss of power through this episode.

Umno assembly: Give chance to all to speak

Umno man says the party must do away with the practice of allowing only certain delegates a chance to speak at the the assembly.

KUALA LUMPUR: Everyone should be given a chance to speak at this month’s Umno annual general assembly.

Petaling Jaya Utara Umno division committee member Lukman Mohd Ghani said in the past the general assembly was the best platform for the Umno’s grassroots to speak their mind about issues in the country.

He said, now only certain members are allowed to speak. Lukman was responding to a statement by party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that it was difficult nowadays to openly express opinions in Umno unlike years ago.

The party should do away with protocol or restrictive guidelines,which imposes that only selected delegates be allowed to speak and room should be given for all party veterans to express their views about where Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) is heading to, said Lukman.

Lukman also rebutted a news report that quoted Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that no such thing exists in the party.

Muhyiddin is wrong

Lukman said Muhyiddin should ask himself how come party veterans and some other quarters in Umno have to organise other platforms or form non governmental organisations to represent their views.

He said the days of curtailing the information flow or silencing voices of dissent was now gone with the emergence of the alternative media and the social media networking online sites.

“Nowadays, some people have lost faith in the main newspapers because only certain views are carried,” Lukman, who is also an aide to Tengku Razaleigh, said.

There is a belief within a section of Umno that the media coverage be given to only some leaders, he claimed.

It was now made worse as those who slam the opposition were given prominence in some media outlets, even if some of the issues they had advocated were not based on facts, he stressed.

He said the urbanised population was now better informed or in many instances, more educated than the politicians of today.

Lukman was also critical of other political parties for choosing to impose a gag order whenever there are internal issues within their parties.

It was an insult to the people, if leaders continued to sweep things under the “carpet” rather than  address it, Lukman said.

Isu daftar anak luar nikah keliru masyarakat

Presiden Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia berkata adalah jelas dalam hukum syarak tidak membenarkan anak tidak sah taraf di 'bin' atau 'binti' selain daripada ibunya.

PETALING JAYA: Isu pendaftaran anak tidak sah taraf atau luar nikah di ’bin’ atau binti’ selain ibunya dalam sijil kelahiran mendapat bantahan Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia yang menyifatkan tindakan itu hanya menimbulkan kekeliruan di kalangan masyarakat Islam.

Presidennya Mohd Isa Abd Ralip berkata isu itu hanya akan mengelirukan masyarakat Islam dan menjejaskan kehidupan seharian mereka secara umum.

Ketika dihubungi FMT beliau berkata, adalah jelas dalam hukum syarak tidak membenarkan anak tidak sah taraf di bin atau binti selain daripada ibunya.

“Saya tidak setuju dengan cadangan tersebut membenarkan anak tidak sah taraf di bin atau binti dengan bapanya untuk mengelak kanak-kanak terbabit menghadapi trauma atau tekanan perasaan semasa bersekolah walaupun dari satu segi ia menyelesaikan masalah kanak-kanak tersebut.

“Namun pada umumnya ia akan mengelirukan masyarakat dan menyebabkan masalah lain timbul kerana ia bertentangan dengan hukum syarak sedia ada. Dalam hukum syarak larangan Allah SWT untuk di bin atau binti anak tidak sah taraf, selain ibunya.

“Jika terus dilakukan, langkah ini akan memberi kesan kepada masyarakat kerana mereka tidak akan takut atau bimbang untuk melahirkan anak haram.

“Kita tidak mahu pandangan sebegitu. Nanti masyarakat tiada kesedaran. Saya membantah kerana ia boleh menyebabkan anak menjadi keliru juga,” katanya.

Implikasi negatif

Ujarnya, implikasi negatif lain yang timbul ialah apabila membabitkan soal pewarisan, keturunan, aurat dan sebagainya.

Mohd Isa menjelaskan kemudaratan atau kesan negatif yang akan diperoleh bila dibenarkan di bin dan binti seperti anak kandung.

“Sebagai contoh katanya, jika Ahmad seorang anak tidak sah taraf dan ayahnya sudah meninggal dunia dan mempunyai dua orang anak lain. Walaupun Ahmad lebih tua daripada dua beradiknya lain dan dianggap anak sulung, beliau tidak boleh menerima waris dan tiada hak kerana tiada pertalian darah.

“Anak tidak sah taraf ini tidak mempunyai hak yang sama dari sudut perundangan dan hukum syarak. Dia mendapat perlindungan penuh daripada ibunya, keluarga ibunya dan pemerintah,” jelasnya.

Mohd Isa berpendapat isu tersebut tidak perlu dipanjangkan memandangkan ia merupakan perselisihan pandangan semata-mata.

Katanya, cadangan itu hanya sebagai alternatif untuk memastikan kanak-kanak tersebut tidak menanggung bebanan emosi dan terhukum kerana kesalahan ibu bapa mereka.

Malah jika fatwa berkenaan dilulus dan diterima oleh negeri-negeri maka pindaan undang-undang juga perlu dilakukan. Isu anak tidak sah taraf hangat dibincangkan apabila kerajaan negeri Terengganu mencadangkan agar anak-anak sebegini didaftarkan dalam sijil kelahiran dengan bin atau binti bapa bagi mengelak kanak-kanak itu menanggung tekanan emosi berpanjangan.

Malah satu kertas kerja itu dibuat bertujuan untuk memasukkan maklumat berkenaan adalah untuk memberikan taraf kewarganegaraan kepada bayi sekiranya bapa adalah warganegara Malaysia.

Kertas cadangan tersebut juga akan diserahkan kepada Majlis Fatwa Negeri untuk dibincangkan pada mesyuarat Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan tidak lama lagi.

Greater Smartphone & Tablet PC Use To Drive 350 Per Cent Rise In Global Hotspots

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 (Bernama) -- Public Wi-Fi hotspots are set to grow by 350 per cent from 1.3 million around the world today to 5.8 million by 2015 following greater use of smartphones and tablet PCs, said the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

WBA, which focuses on driving the next generation Wi-Fi experience, said mobile data growth was a key factor in the rapid build-out of Wi-Fi hotspots.

This forecast does not include "community hotspots", where users share their own Wi-Fi access point with others, which add an additional 4.5 million hotspots worldwide, said the industry association in a report compiled by analyst firm Informa Telecoms & Media from a survey of 259 service providers and Wi-Fi vendors.

The survey found that smartphone connections to Wi-Fi hotspots will soon overtake laptops globally.

Laptops now represent less than half (48 per cent) of the connections to hotspots, smartphones account for 36 per cent and tablets 10 per cent.

In the Asia Pacific and North America, smartphones already outnumber laptop connections to hotspots.

WBA's report also highlighted that global mobile data traffic was expected to reach 16.84 million terabytes by 2014.

"Operators plan to manage the impact of this growth primarily through new pricing strategies and Wi-Fi-based offload," it said.

WBA said China Mobile planned to deploy a million hotspots and Japan''s KDDI aimed to grow its 10,000 Wi-FI hotspots to 100,000 within six months.

The survey found that that this growth will be concentrated in three types of location: wide-area outdoor hotzones like parks, local-area outdoor hotzones or popular tourist attractions and transport hubs like airports.

The findings also showed that 58 per cent of operators, including 47 per cent of mobile operators, believed that Wi-Fi hotspots were either very important or crucial to their customers' experience, offload busy mobile broadband networks and provide a value-added services platform.

The report also cited several barriers to adoption and use of public Wi-Fi hotspots. They include cumbersome authentication procedures, costs of access, user discovery of available networks and security.

For instance, one UK operator recently reported that only 20 per cent of its users access the free public hotspots available to them.

However, the WBA report said several challenges would be overcome by Next Generation Hotspots (NGH), which are currently undergoing trials internationally.

NGH allow users to seamlessly roam between cellular and Wi-Fi networks using their mobile handset's SIM card as authentication, reducing concerns about authentication, network discovery and security.

Operators are also reducing the cost of access by increasingly offering public Wi-Fi as part of broadband or cellular packages.

Chris Bruce, Chair of the WBA and Chief Executive Officer, BT Openzone, said,"The findings show we are about to enter the golden age of public Wi-Fi with hotspot deployments set to soar."

Old Penang: Magazine Circus (updated)

This was a unique roundabout in Penang, the intersection of six different roads – one of the ‘happening’ areas of old George Town.
Magazine Road tram
The Magazine Circus area with a view of probably Gladstone Road and Magazine Road in the background before 1930 (click to enlarge) - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways
Magazine Station
The trams at Magazine Station circa 1908 (click to enlarge) - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways
By the way, congrats to Ric for his book being selected among the “50 Best Malaysian Titles for International Rights 2011″. (See the Yusof Gajah Literary Agency website for the full list. Two other books on the heritage of Penang – ‘Heritage Trees of Penang’ and ‘Penang Through Gilded Doors’ – are also among the 50.)
The coffee-stall at the junction of Dato Keramat Road and Macalister Road before 1930 - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways
Old Magazine Circus
A 360-degree view of old Magazine Circus in the 1960s (click to enlarge and then scroll from left to right) - Sketch: tunglang
Tunglang writes:
This is a 360-degree landscape view of Goh Pha Teng from the centre of the roundabout. Again this is my mind-recall illustration based on intimate experiences of my childhood days during the 1960s at Macalister Road.
The old Magazine Circus - Sketch: tunglang
Thanks to tunglang for these brilliant sketches (click on sketch for full-screen view). Here’s where Penang Road, Gladstone Road (disappeared under Komtar), Magazine Road, Brick Kiln Road, Dato Kramat Road and Macalister Road once met and whirled around in a delightful real-life merry-go-round, as ordinary people gathered and revelled in the evening air.
Unfortunately, the colourful character of the place was destroyed when the monstrosity Komtar was built in the 1970s to fulfil some people’s fantasies of what an “international city” should look like.
Tunglang has also jotted down his recollections of the place:
As much as I would like to recall in greater, authentic details, I decided to make it without do of any picture reference or visual aid. If anyone can produce a picture of Goh Pha Teng, I would love to see how accurate my mental projection of the past is.
In the illustration, can you spot? –
Tan Tong Tong,
Sunday Indian Cowboy on bicycle,
Alleycat Arumugam,
Hatari’s mobile movie advertisement,
Ban Eng Hong Coffee Powder Peddler on tricycle,
Philip’s ‘Saluting Robot’ Ad on rooftop,
Food triangle sandwiched between Gladstone Rd (now under Komtar) and Magazine Rd,
Canto-Chinese Sifu/Medicine Man with stunt display at open-air parade ‘square’,
Night-time Waterhole/Open Air Cafe catering to ‘Ang Mohs’ and local beer guzzlers,
Magazine Road’s Best Street Hawker Endless Stalls venue,
and of course Craven A with its best selling Singapore Bee Hoon.
The huge roundabout. The inside was filled with well maintained evergreen grass which was my favourite evening playground and the outer ring was circled with an iron chain to protect the greenery and grasshoppers. The night ambience was illuminated by a ball-shaped lamp on top of a centre column much like Trafalgar Square’s Lord Nelson’s column but this one was only about eight feet high.
The Penang, Penang Lang Lah blog adds:
The Chinese also called Magazine Circus, Go-pha-teng(五葩燈)or go-kha-teng, which literally means 5 arms gaslamps, located at the Magazine Circus. It also called it Chhèng-ioh-keng(銃藥間), “cheng” means gun, “i-oh” means powdery substance, “keng” means an enclosed room in the building; chheng-ioh-keng means Gunpowder store or armory. I suspected the gunpowder depot was located at the place where Magazine Circus stood. This was the area where there was convict prisoners and warden presence, and their daily food were met by the Indian Muslim food sellers, which resulted in the origination of Penang famous Nasi Kandar. Magazine depot – convict prisoners – Nasi Kandar; an early food history for Nasi Kandar….
I have been trying to locate an old photo of this roundabout. If anyone has one, we would love to see it. Do send it in by clicking ‘Submit photos’ at the menu on top.

Man sexually assaulted 12-year-old he met on Facebook

Nottingham Crown Court
Nottingham Crown Court

A FACEBOOK user sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl who he had contacted through the social networking site.

Tuseef Mahmood, 24, pretended to be just 17 when he set up a Facebook page under another name.

He claimed he was a local sixth-former, and sexually groomed the child – using Facebook and text messages – before meeting her twice at The Forest recreation ground.

He sexually assaulted her between November 21 and November 30 last year.

Mahmood, of Burns Street, the Arboretum, had previously pleaded guilty to meeting a child, following sexual grooming, between November 21 and November 30 last year; and intimidation between May 21 and May 26 this year.

A previous hearing heard he had messaged her on Facebook, urging her to drop the charges.

Yesterday, he was due to go on trial at Nottingham Crown Court accused of raping the girl, who he had not known before contacting her on Facebook. He had denied the rape charge.

The trial was abandoned when the prosecution accepted a plea to an alternative charge of sexual assault between November 21 and November 30. His plea to the alternative charge was considered by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police officer in the case, the court heard.

Dawn Pritchard, prosecuting, said: "The officer had extensive meetings with the complainant and mother, and it is on that basis that the Crown is content to accept the plea."

The court heard the child's mother had said she did not want her daughter to give evidence in court.

Mahmood, who was 23 at the time of the offences, has no previous convictions but has a caution on his record.

Recorder John Pini QC ordered a pre-sentence report to be prepared. Mahmood will remain in custody to be sentenced on November 28.

The judge said: "You have pleaded guilty now to a further sexual allegation; a serious one in addition to the serious one you have already pleaded guilty to."

Indonesia: Amnesty calls on gov to stop Papua rights violations

Jakarta, 8 Nov. (AKI/Jakarta Post) - The Indonesian government must immediately act on the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission’s (Komnas HAM) findings that human rights violations were committed by Indonesian security forces at the Third Papuan Peoples’ Congress on Oct. 19, Amnesty International says.

The Komnas HAM investigation team found that Indonesian security forces opened fire on participants of the peaceful gathering and also beat and kicked them, the organization said in a press statement on Tuesday.

The Commission, which made its findings public on Nov. 4, has called on the Indonesian National Police chief to investigate these human rights violations.

It was reported on Nov. 7 that the President’s office had rejected the findings of Komnas HAM, stating that the police were still handling the case.

Amnesty International called the Indonesian authorities to initiate an independent, thorough and effective investigation into the Commission’s findings.

“If the investigations find that the security forces committed unlawful killings or torture or other ill-treatment, then those responsible, including persons with command responsibility, must be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and victims should be provided with reparations,” it said.

“The failure to bring perpetrators of these violations to justice in fair trials will reinforce the perception that the security forces in Papua operate above the law and fuel the ongoing climate of mistrust towards the security forces there.”

On Oct. 19, police and military units violently dispersed participants of the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a peaceful gathering held in Abepura, Papua province. The bodies of Demianus Daniel, Yakobus Samonsabara, and Max Asa Yeuw were found near the Congress area. An estimated 300 participants were arbitrarily arrested at the end of the Congress. Most were released the following day but six have been charged. Five people were charged for “rebellion” and “incitement” under Articles 106, 110 and 160 of the Criminal Code, while one was charged for “possession of weapons” under Emergency Law No. 12/1951.

According to Komnas HAM, the three people who were found dead had gunshot wounds. The Commission was not able to confirm whether they were killed by the police or the military and have called for police forensics investigators to examine the bullets. Komnas HAM also found that at least 96 participants had been shot, kicked or beaten by police officers.

Hungary To Reopen Embassy In Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 8 (Bernama) -- Hungary is set to reopen its embassy in Kuala Lumpur, a move aimed at enhancing relationship between Malaysia and Hungary, its Foreign Minister, Dr Janos Martonyi said.

He said the Hungarian embassy in Kuala Lumpur was closed following a budget constraint in 2009.

"We firmly believe that we have started a new face in our bilateral relationship. We will reopen our embassy here in Malaysia which was suspended in 2009," he told reporters in a joint press conference after a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman at Wisma Putra here Tuesday.

Martonyi who was accompanied by a five-member delegation, was on a two-day visit to Malaysia, starting Monday while a bilateral meeting was held to discuss other areas of mutual interests.

"He (Martonyi) said Malaysia was among important countries in the region. He said that he would prepare a report when he returned to Hungary and the reopening will go through specified procedures," he said.

The Hungarian embassy was established in 1991.

Earlier, Anifah said Malaysia would further strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation with Hungary, especially in education, tourism and sports.

"On education, both ministries are finalizing the agreement. We are looking forward to the signing very soon," he said.

On tourism sector, Anifah said Malaysia and Hungary were keen to explore the tourism attractions and uniqueness in both countries to attract more tourists.

"We also talked about sports. I explained to His Excellency that Asean is vying to host the football world cup in 2030... Therefore, in the midst of building a formidable team and other discipline of sports like athletics, Hungarians are very advanced in these areas of sports and we can work together," he said.

As a reliable friend and partner, Anifah said Malaysia offered to serve as an important gateway for Hungary to make its presence in Asean.

Malaysia and Hungary recorded a trade volume of RM850 million in the first eight months this year, an increase of 30 percent while last year, the trade volume recorded was RM1.1 billion.

Thailand flooding, Bangkok sinking: Sign of things to come

What exactly is causing the worst floods in Thailand? Now, Bangkok is going underwater – and this could be a sign of things to come. Consider ourselves warned. 

What are some of the possible causes of the flooding?
Exceptionally heavy rain this year, possibly as a result of global warming (New Mandala). To tackle this, we badly need to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
A TIME World report in July 2011 predicted that climate change, rising sea waters and coastal erosion could result in parts of Bangkok being underwater by 2030. 2030? Who would have thought that large swathes of Bangkok could be underwater before the year’s end!
Then, there is the destruction of Nature in the mad rush to so-called “development”. One New Mandala commenter, Robin Grant, observed:
The rainfall figures are startling, but evidence of contributory factors to this year’s flooding, and last year’s, and the year before that etc, are easy to discern. Canals, no longer much used for transportation, are neglected, and choked with silt and weeds. Highways on embankments cris cross the country, acting as barriers to the natural flow of water. Ever more housing and industrial estates are being built, especially in areas around Bangkok, much of which is in effect a flood plain. It was claimed that last year’s serious flooding in Nakhon Ratchasima was caused, in part, by the construction of a sports stadium in the site of what had been a reservoir!
In the rush towards modernisation and “development” Thais have chosen to ignore climatic realities, and they are paying the price.
Another New Mandala commenter, Ricky, suggested:
Last year nature conservationists were horrified at government plans to systematically destroy Thailand’s rivers. Despite public pleas, the plans proceeded and riparian vegetation which protected farmland from erosion was destroyed and rivers dredged to speed waters on their way to quickly flood downstream, and in doing so causing erosion of banks and damage to structures. One wonders if this was part of a plan to divert more funds to construction and private benefit? We notice that even with the floods far from over plans for more dams and drains are miraculously appearing.
An AFP report pointed out that Bangkok is actually sinking. This has been blamed on excessive ground water extraction to meet the needs of factories and the growing population.
A Global Post report added that the sinking in Bangkok is also due to property development – the city’s many steel and concrete structures weighing down on soft clay. Shoreline construction has replaced coastal mangroves with cement, thus removing a natural buffer against flooding.
So I am stumped to hear that investors in Bangkok want guarantees (see Youtube above) from the Thai government that floods will not recur – when the construction of industrial estates and rapid urbanisation could be major factors in the worsening floods. The cheek!
Consider this from the AFP report:
Rapid urbanisation is one reason why the inundations are affecting the sprawling city so badly, according to experts.
As the area that needs flood protection gets larger and more built-up, the water “has fewer places to go”, said Francois Molle, a water management expert at France’s Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement.
Do we still want to pour concrete and tar on every green space we can catch hold of? How will the water from rainfall be absorbed into the ground?