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Malaysia to abolish death penalty

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Fawad advises Zardari to meet legal experts

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has decided to abolish the death penalty, a senior minister said Thursday, with more than 1,200 people on death row set to win a reprieve following a groundswell of opposition to capital punishment.
Executions are currently mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes, and is carried out by hanging, a legacy of British colonial rule.
Human Rights Watch hailed the “fabulous news”, with its deputy director for Asia Phil Robertson saying the move would increase pressure on other countries in the region to follow suit.
The government decided to scrap capital punishment because the Malaysian public had shown they were against the death penalty, communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo Gobind said.
“I hope the law will be amended soon,” he told AFP.
Government minister Liew Vui Keong reportedly said earlier Thursday there would be a moratorium on executions for inmates currently on death row.
“Since we are abolishing the sentence, all executions should not be carried out,” the Star newspaper quoted him as saying.
Liew said the amended law would be put before parliament next Monday.
The government’s announcement was “an encouraging sign”, Amnesty International’s Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.
“There is no time to waste – the death penalty should have been consigned to the history books long ago.”
The moratorium on the death penalty affects, among others, two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il last year.
A Malaysian court last year ruled the case could proceed against Indonesian national Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam after Kim Jong Nam’s murder at Kuala Lumpur Airport.
Australian citizen Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, who was found guilty of drug smuggling by an appeals court in May, will win a reprieve.
“The reprieve can be in the form of a life sentence,” Gurdial Singh, president of the National Human Rights Society, told AFP.
Two Chilean tourists, currently on trial for the murder of a Malaysian man, would also have faced the death penalty if found guilty of murder.
The abolition could also pave the way for the extradition to Malaysia of a convicted hitman in the high profile murder of a Mongolian model who was the lover of one of ex-prime minister Najib Razak’s close associates.
Former Malaysian police officer Sirul Azhar Umar was convicted in Malaysia for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006 but fled to Australia.

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Ankara train crash leaves nine dead

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ANKARA: Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country.
The accident comes less than six months after 24 people were killed in a train crash in northwestern Turkey in a series of several fatal accidents in recent years.
Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters that three of those killed were operators of the train. One of the victims died in hospital, he added.
Among those killed was a German citizen, a source in the Ankara governor’s office told AFP, confirming reports in German media.
The Ankara public prosecutor said 86 people were injured. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said 34 of those injured were still in hospital for treatment.
Two were in a serious condition, Koca added on Twitter.
The fast train had been on its way from Ankara’s main station to the central province of Konya. According to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said three people had been detained. In a speech in Ankara, he vowed those responsible would be held to account.
The three were employees of the Turkish state railways agency who were detained over suspected negligence, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said the accident happened “after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route.”
Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.
The governor said, “technical investigations” were underway to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district.
The capital’s chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, Anadolu said.
Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the track, which was covered in snow.
The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
The correspondent saw at least seven bodies taken away as rescue workers searched the blue and white wagons covered with debris.
Turkish Red Crescent relief workers distributed blankets and tea to the survivors, who were gathered on a road near the scene that had been blocked to traffic.
A female witness whose name was not given told NTV broadcaster that the passenger train had not yet increased its speed when the crash happened.
A relative of one of those aboard the train told the channel that some passengers had broken windows and then safely exited the wagons.
One of those killed was Berahitdin Albayrak, a science lecturer and former vice-chancellor at Ankara University, the institution said on Twitter.
Later trains from Konya to Ankara and vice versa were canceled.

 

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ADB to provide $7.528 bn to Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned to support Pakistan with lending of $7.528 billion for various development projects during the next three years.

In its new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for Pakistan 2019-21 revealed on Thursday, the ADB has proposed a sovereign lending program for next three years worth $7.528 billion, consisting of $5.37 billion from regular Ordinary Capital Resource (OCR) lending and $2.158 billion from Concessional COR Lending (COL). COL includes a carryover of $600 million from 2018. The non-lending program for 2019–2021 is $21.7 million, including transaction technical assistance for various pipeline projects. An amount of $2.245 billion in ADB loan financing is allocated for the energy sector, which is 29.8 percent of the total pipeline for 2019–2021.  

The pipeline includes a multi-tranche financing facility for Transmission Strengthening (tranche 1) for National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Hydropower Development Project for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. For the transport sector, some $1.394 billion of ADB loan financing for the sector (18.5% of the total pipeline) have been allocated for the transport sector.  The pipeline includes the Sustainable National Highway Project and the Sindh Hyderabad Southern Bypass Project.

ADB also proposes support for the revitalization of Pakistan Railways to improve transport sector sustainability, including exploring non-conventional financing arrangements. For agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, ADB has allocated $794 million in loan financing to the sector (10.6% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Project, the Kurram Tangi Water Resources Project, and the Smaller Cholistan Water Resources Development Project. Similarly, for water and other urban infrastructure and services, the ADB has allocated $470 million in ADB loan financing (6.2% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes a cross-sector project readiness facility for Punjab and the Punjab Cities Improvement Project. ADB has also allocated $2.4 billion in loan financing to the finance and public sector management sectors (31.9% of the total pipeline).

The COBP, 2019-2021, includes new projects such as trade and competitiveness program (subprogram 1) in 2019; financial markets development in 2020; infrastructure financing and PPPs in 2021; as well as the second phase of support for the Benazir Income Support Program in 2020. The education and health sectors pipeline includes $225 million in loan financing (3.0% of the total pipeline). ADB’s re-engagement in education and health sectors includes $175 million for projects on secondary education in Sindh and improving workforce readiness and skills development in Punjab, and $50 million projects to improve quality of health care services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

ADB will also provide technical assistance across sectors to help project implementation and to generate and disseminate knowledge products to support policy and project development, as well as to enhance project quality and readiness. Pakistan, a group B developing member country, is eligible for regular OCR lending and concessional OCR lending (COL).  The indicative resources available during 2019–2021 for sovereign operations amount to $5,712 billion, comprising $4.29 billion for regular OCR lending and $1.422 billion for COL. The final allocation will depend on available resources, project readiness, project performance and debt distress rating of the country among others. ADB’s non-sovereign operations will supplement these resources.  ADB will also explore co-financing from other sources and seek financing from the regional pool under concessional resources and regular OCR for regional cooperation and integration.

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Modi loosing from traditional stronghld!

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NEW DEHLI: India’s ruling party looked set to lose power in at least one of three traditional stronghold states releasing election results on Tuesday, in a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national polls in 2019.

Early election results in the central state of Chhattisgarh indicated the main opposition Congress party of Rahul Gandhi would win 59 seats compared to just 11 for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Hindu nationalist BJP has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.

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