Top UN official: Environmental protection in war more urgent than ever

Source: UNEP

Ambassador Marie G. Jacobsson Honored at Fourth Annual Al-Moumin Award and Distinguished Lecture on Environmental Peacebuilding

Fires at oil refinery, Pancevo, Serbia. Pic taken from UNEP.

Fires at oil refinery, Pancevo, Serbia. Pic taken from UNEP.

Washington, DC, 3 November 2016 – In a year dominated by the tragedy of war, there is no more urgent time to address the need to protect the environment in armed conflicts, Ambassador Marie G. Jacobsson said today at the Fourth Annual Al-Moumin Lecture on Environmental Peacebuilding.

Dr. Jacobsson, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict and recipient of this year’s prestigious Al-Moumin Award, said that while states and international organizations have taken steps to prevent environmental harm before and after armed conflict, they have been unwilling to commit to further legally binding rules during armed conflict.

“Many of us remember the shocking images of environmental destruction during times of war, such as the Agent Orange in Vietnam or the burning oil wells in in Kuwait,” Dr. Jacobsson said. “I witnessed the long-lasting effects of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands earlier this year, and the effects of remnants of war at sea for the small islands States in the Pacific.

“The environment is a vital tool for building sustainable peace and respect for human rights. The need to protect it in the context of armed conflict is more urgent today than ever before.” Read more

Yes, we received funds from OSF, says Malaysian Bar sub-committee

Source: FMT News

The RM53,757 is being used to research access to justice for migrant workers, says Bar Council ar’s Migrant, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Chairman N. Ramachelvam, adding it has also received funds from the ILO. Pic taken from FMT News.

The RM53,757 is being used to research access to justice for migrant workers, says Bar Council ar’s Migrant, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Chairman N. Ramachelvam, adding it has also received funds from the ILO. Pic taken from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: A sub-committee of the Malaysian Bar today admitted receiving financial aid from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) to undertake research on migrant workers in Malaysia.

The Bar’s Migrant, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Chairman N. Ramachelvam said it received USD15,000 (RM53,757.13) last year to fund the on-going project.

He said the committee came to know about OSF disbursing funds for such undertakings and an application was made.

“I must clarify that none of the money was used for operational and administrative costs of the Bar Council or the committee,” he told FMT in response to allegations in a blog that the Bar may have received financial assistance from the OSF.

He said the money was used to pay a researcher, transcribers, reviewers, consultations held with stakeholders and out-of- pocket expenses.

Ramachelvam said the study was to determine access to justice, including labour tribunals, to foreign workers, and good labour practices in Malaysia.

Read more

Mary Yap: 97% of borrowers fail to repay PTPTN loans

Source: The Star Online

dewan_rakyat_signpost_2015_-_parliament_reportKUALA LUMPUR: An alarmingly high percentage of graduates have failed to repay their National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans, says Higher Education Deputy Minister Dr Mary Yap.

Dr Yap told Parliament on Wednesday that 97% of borrowers who graduated over the past two years have been listed in the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) for failing to pay off their study loans.

“728,935 borrowers finished their studies between 2014 and 2016. However, 701,895 of them are now listed in CCRIS for not repaying their loans. Read more

Media extremism 101 — Mustafa K. Anuar

Source: The Malay Mail Online

By Dr. Mustafa K. Anuar

Dr. Mustafa K Anuar is a fellow at Penang Institute. Pic taken from the Malay Mail Online

Dr. Mustafa K Anuar is a fellow at Penang Institute. Pic taken from the Malay Mail Online

NOV 3 — Malaysia’s political arena serves as a rich repository of certain ideas and phenomena that otherwise rarely capture the imagination of the ordinary people.

Not too long ago, for instance, Malaysians bore witness to a bizarre fear that engulfed — and still haunts — certain sections of our society, particularly with the emergence of the Bersih movement. It’s called Xanthophobia, the fear of the colour yellow which has given rise to various kinds of knee-jerk and even puerile reactions within our society.

And recently, a seemingly new concept was bandied about by no less than PAS political leader Abdul Hadi Awang, i.e. “media extremism”, which he felt could cause disharmony in the country. This came about after his meeting with Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.

An inkling of what he meant by this can be found in the words he reportedly expressed: false news, slander and certain information that is unverified by social media users. I’d like to take this opportunity to venture into Hadi’s notion of “media extremism.”

For starters, it is clearly “media extremism” if a media organisation provides a platform only for one particular party in a conflict while denying the voice of the other.  Read more

Minister: MCMC probing news portals over foreign funding claims

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is investigating complaints on the alleged channeling of foreign funds to certain news portals with the intention of overthrowing the democratically elected government in the country, it was stated here today.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said a report on the probe would be handed over to the Attorney-General for further action.

He said the MCMC had received many complaints on this threat and there was a need to conduct a thorough investigation by examining various new media.  Read more

Mustapa: US Congress likely to ratify TPP by this year

Source: The Malay Mail Online

TPPA-copyBEIJING, Nov 3 — There is a possibility that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be ratified by the US Congress either at the end of November or early December this year, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.

“We were given the impression that there is a possibility that the trade deal will be approved by Congress.

“This news was conveyed through the frequent communication channel,” he told Malaysian journalists here Wednesday before leaving for Cebu, the Philippines for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting today. Read more

Low: Foreign funding should be banned for ‘political’ NGOs

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Civil society groups that have “political” agendas or are clearly aligned to political parties should not be allowed to receive foreign funding, said Datuk Paul Low.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who heads the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, said that laws should also be introduced or amended to require all NGOs to disclose their sources of funding.

“Those involved in politics, it’s alright for you to demonstrate against corruption, but when you have a political agenda, funding from foreign sources should be banned completely,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted. Read more

Local fundraising is tough, Bersih tells Azalina

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Bersih 2.0 has criticised a minister for suggesting that proposed political financing legislation be extended to civil society, amid claims that US billionaire George Soros funded local groups.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s suggestion would only hinder the civil society movement and that the introduction of another financing legislation for NGOs would add another layer of restriction.

Azalina has said that the leaked minutes purportedly from a meeting of Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) made it necessary to examine funding for groups beyond political parties.

“NGOs are different from political parties. They are the supplementary support systems where government has failed to do so. Why penalise NGOs when their agenda is about building a better Malaysia?” Chin told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

The head of the polls reform group pointed out that it was only natural for NGOs to source other forms of funding from organisations like the European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) due to the lack of assistance from the government. Read more