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WASHINGTON – Otto Warmbier, a US college student who was released by North Korea less than a week ago, died on Monday, his parents said, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

“It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20 p.m. (1820 GMT),” his parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.

Warmbier’s parents thanked the “wonderful professionals” at the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre and denounced North Korea for mistreating their son.

In a statement, US President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his passing and condemned the “brutality” of North Korea.

“Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency,” Trump said.

Warmbier’s parents have told US media that he was medically evacuated from North Korea in a coma.

North Korea confirmed his release in a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, saying he was sent back home “on humanitarian grounds.”

The 22-year-old student from the University of Virginia has been in a state of coma for more than a year after contracting botulism soon after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in a trial by the North Korean supreme court on March 16, 2016, according to US local media.

Warmbier was detained by the North Korean authorities at the Pyongyang International Airport on his way back home in January 2016 after he attempted to take a political slogan from a staff-only area in a hotel where he stayed during his tour to the country.
— BERNAMA

 

KUALA LUMPUR – Several traders associations have called on Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to take stern action against individuals renting out the bazaar lots allotted to them.

KL Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Datuk Rosli Sulaiman said the issue of parties renting out bazaar lots was disrupting the business of petty traders who were trying to survive in light of the economic challenges.

He said DBKL should look at more severe punishment for these individuals, such as terminating their trading licence immediately and blacklisting them.

“I cannot accept the practice of individuals renting out their lots just to make money. If they want to trade, then they must do just that. They must not take advantage of the situation because they are merely petty traders.

“DBKL has to find a more aggressive solution because this matter has gone on for far too long,” he told Bernama.

Rosli also suggested that DBKL review the balloting system as not all who applied for the bazaar lots were actually interested in trading.

He said there were agents behind the traders applying for the lots and these agents would pay them between RM5,000 and RM8,000 if they succeeded in securing the lots before renting them out to other traders who were willing to pay a higher price for them.

KL Bumiputera Petty Traders Association vice-president Datuk Mohammad Baba suggested that DBKL take action against both parties, those who rented out the lots and those who rented them.

He said those who rented the lots were the root cause of the problem because there would be no supply without demand.

— BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The strengthening of bilateral economic relations between Malaysia and Japan offers huge potential for both countries, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“Malaysia, with its diversified, robust and open economy is the perfect gateway to ASEAN for Japanese firms,” he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) here today.

Najib said the government would work closely with the Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyagawa, to facilitate the entry of more investors and tourists from the country.

In 2016, Japan ranked Malaysia as its fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade at RM120 billion.

The Prime Minister said the strong trade and investment relations between both nations were underpinned by the Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

Malaysia and Japan will mark the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this year.

In giving an example of Malaysia-Japan collaboration, Najib quoted the BBCC project which has managed to attract the leading real estate group in the land of the rising sun, Mitsui Fudisan Co Ltd, to invest in what will be the mega project’s RM1.6 billion retail mall.

Located on a 7.85 hectare site on what was the old Pudu Jail, the BBCC is worth RM8.7 billion in gross development value.

It comprises a retail mall, an entertainment hub, a four-star hotel, two blocks of strata offices, and five blocks of serviced apartments, and a 80-storey three-in-one signature tower housing corporate offices, which has a five-star hotel and luxury residences.

Phase one, involving 50 per cent of the project, is scheduled for completion by December 2020.

Najib said BBCC together with Mitsui Mall is yet another model of how Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme is bearing fruit in terms of attracting foreign investments.

He pointed out that the Japanese were already among the top foreign buyers for the residential units in the BBCC project.

“Malaysia remains the top retirement destination for Japanese, thanks to our stable economic and political environment, temperate climate and affordable living standards,” he said.

As an open and diversified country, Najib said Malaysia continued to be an attractive investment destination.

“We welcome foreign direct investments, irrespective of whether from Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, the United States or Singapore.

“If you add value to the Malaysian economy, provide more jobs, bring in new technologies and add to the export value, among others, you are certainly very welcome to invest in the country,” he added.- BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Mosques and surau throughout the country resonated with the readings of the Quran in conjunction with the Malaysia #QuranHour.

The third edition of the one-hour programme, which is being held during the last 10 days of Ramadan and began at noon today, has received over-whelming response from Muslims in the country.

With the theme “Courteous and Loving Race” the programme was organised on a large-scale at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Putrajaya, as well as several other locations throughout the country.

In PUTRAJAYA, about 5,000 people gathered in the mosque for the programme which was also attended by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzudin Shah.

Meanwhile in KUALA LUMPUR, more than 200 staff and students of the International Islamic University also read the Quran in the Haji Ahmad Shah Mosque in the campus in Gombak.

Also taking part in the programme is the public library throughout the country which organised the programme #MalaysiaNgaji bersempena Malaysia #QuranHour which involved various strata of the society including school children.

The Director-General of the National Library, Datuk Nafisah Ahmad said the second edition of the programme, which was being held to strengthen the culture of quran reading, targeted one million participants to take part.

He said 739,645 participants took part in the inaugural programme held on June 29 last year.

In PAHANG, Assistant Director of the Mosque and Surau Management Division of the Pahang Islamic Religious Department (JAIP), Nik Ibrahim Nik Abdullah said almost 2,000 mosques and surau throughout the state participated in the Malaysia #QuranHour.

He said he had informed 604 mosques and 1,327 surau throughout the state to join in the Holy Quran reading programme. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) said it was cancelling the goods and services tax (GST) on over 60 food items, due to be enforced on July 1, after referring to the Finance Ministry.

“Following consultation, it was decided to annul the “Goods and Services Tax (Zero Rated Supplies) Order 2014 (Amendment) (No.2) 2017” (the Order).

“Following this decision, RMCD is requesting the relevant parties to take note of this matter,” said Director-General Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy in a statement today.

Local media had reported that more than 60 zero-rated food items would be subject to the six per cent GST from July 1, after the order was gazetted on June 6, 2017.

Under the order, food items such as eel, swordfish, corn, frozen vegetables and imported fruits like avocados, apricots, figs, grapes, nectarines, cherries, and berries would have been subject to the six per cent GST. – BERNAMA

 

LONDON – One person has been arrested after a vehicle hit pedestrians in north London, injuring several people, police said Monday, as Muslim leaders said worshippers were mown down after leaving a mosque.

Police said in a statement there were “a number of casualties”, adding that they were called to reports of “a vehicle in collision with pedestrians” at 12.20am.

“We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter.

Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had “intentionally” run over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan.

An AFP reporter could see a helicopter and several emergency vehicles at the scene, which was closed off by a wide police cordon.

Traffic was shut down on a section of Seven Sisters Road, where the incident happened.

“We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured,” David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident, told AFP.

MCB deputy head Miqdaad Versi said the incident happened “outside the Muslim Welfare House”, which is on Seven Sisters Road near the mosque.

The London Ambulance Service said: “We have sent a number of ambulance crews, advance paramedics and specialist responses teams to the scene.

“Our priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure that those most in need are treated first and taken to hospital.”

Police described it as a “major incident”.

‘Evil violence’

Finsbury Park mosque was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed in recent years under new management.

Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.

He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.

In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in Paris.

Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque reported it had received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.

“If this attack is confirmed as a deliberate terrorist attack then this should be classed as an act of terrorism,” said Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation community group.

“The British Muslim community requires all decent people to stand with us against this evil violence,” he said, adding that “rampant Islamophobia has been on the rise for a number of years”.

Monday’s incident in London follows three Islamist attacks in Britain this year.

On March 22, a man drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and stabbed a police officer guarding the British parliament to death before being shot dead.

Five people were killed in the attack.

On May 22, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a pop concert in Manchester, killing 22 people.

And on June 3, three militants wearing fake suicide vests ran over pedestrians and went on a stabbing spree in bars in the London Bridge area.

They killed eight people before being shot dead by police. — AFP

 

KUALA LUMPUR – The mention of Chow Kit brings to mind dark and filthy alleys, being that prostitution, triads and drugs are some of the things that the place is negatively associated with.

However, such a scenario will soon be a thing of the past with efforts being made by a group of young people to change the life of dwellers at Chow Kit so that they can earn their own living, as well as support their families.

The group, led by Nik Sin Nik Man , 35, started the “Umie Aktif” programme three years ago, providing dwellers at Chow Kit, especially the women, to make and sell handicraft products, such as dolls and bag.

“The programme was introduced as a platform for the women to begin their first step to become entrepreneurs.

“Besides teaching them to make handicraft products, we also teach the women to communicate in English,” he said when contacted by Bernama recently.

Nik Sin, who is an an assistant surveyor, said the handicraft products produced by the women in Chow Kit were sold online and the money from the sale distributed back to the women.

“The programme receives encouraging response from the women in Chow Kit, and so far, we have nearly 30 participants,” he added.

Meanwhile, , Lawrance Abus, 30, a lecturer at a private college who is a volunteer in the programme, said the programme had helped provide some income for the participants.

One of the participants, Cek Rohani Talib, 44, said she was now able to supplement her husband’s income by selling handicraft products.

“We don’t have to come up with the capital, and even given two classes a week to learn sewing and English,” she said.

Cek Rohani said she had been able to earn between RM300 and RM350 a month by selling the handicraft products which she made herself.

Those keen to buy the handicraft products can make their order through “UmieAktif” Facebook account or instagram.

— BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants players in the creative fields to cooperate with the government in instilling humanitarian values in their works towards moulding a society that is in line with the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) vision.

Conceding that there was a vacuum in Malaysian society today on the issue of identity and race, he said this (vacuum) made the process of nationhood not yet firm and strong.

“We have a social problem. In the last day or two, we heard about gangsterism and bullying which became the focus of society.

As such, I hope you will play your respective roles to instill noble humanitarian values in our society,” he said at a breaking-of- the-fast event at Seri Perdana here today.

Over 2,000 guests comprising literary figures, humanists, writers, cartoonists and artistes attended the event, which was held for the first time with the prime minister. The prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was also present.

Sixty arts association were also involved including the Federation of Writers Associations (Gapena), Malaysian National Writers Association (Pena), Malaysia National Broadcasters Associations, Malaysian Artistes Association (Seniman), Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) and the Malaysian Entertainment Writers and Journalists Association (Karyawan).

Recently, the nation was rocked by the death of cadet officer at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM), Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnian, 21, and a youth T. Nhaveen, 18, after they were cruelly abused and assaulted in bullying incidents.

Commenting further, Najib said the government not only wanted to develop the best infrastructure for the nation but also to build a civilisation with high noble values.

“The message can be given in the works of all of you in a partnership which can be nurtured between the government and all of you so that we can create a new society in line with our TN50 vision,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister announced a sponsorship package to perform the Umrah (minor haj) for 25 selected individuals from among the authors, artistes, arts and creative activists and humanists, intellectuals and broadcasters.

Najib said priority would be given to those who had never performed the Umrah and the less well-to-do.

“This is a sign of our sensitivity and proof the government views seriously the welfare and lot of the arts and creative people,” he said.

He said those picked would perform the Umrah after this year’s haj season.

In the meantime, he said that he was also prepared to consider a request that 1Malaysia People’s Housing (PRiMA) units be also allocated to arts activists.

“This is the government’s pro-active effort to help those in this group who are needy, other than appreciating their deeds and sacrifices all these while to society, religion and country,” he said.

Based on the outcome of the TN50 discourse with the group on May 17, Najib said the government, though the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) had also agreed to create a special quota for arts activists to get housing benefits via the People’s Housing Programme (PPR) in Simpang Dua and Kepong, Selangor. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Recalling the traditional Malay atmosphere ahead of the Aidilfitri celebration, some 500 lamps will be lighted up in a section of Dataran Merdeka in conjunction with the ‘Malam Tujuh Likur @ Dataran Merdeka’ programme from tonight until June 24.

Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau general manager Khairul Anuar Mhd Juri said this would be the third time Dataran Merdeka is adorned with the lamps, meant to showcase the unique Malay culture to foreign tourists.

“It’s been a tradition of the Malay community to light the lamps during Ramadan, especially in the last 10 days before Aidilfitri.

“However, this tradition is slowly being forgotten, especially in cities like Kuala Lumpur, so we hope this programme will bring back the nostalgia,” he told Bernama after officiating the event.

Khairul Anuar said the atmosphere at Dataran Merdeka was also made lively with the [email protected] programme held every weekend during the month of Ramadan.

The mass iftar programme has so far attracted over 60,000 people, including foreign tourists. – BERNAMA

 

LOS ANGELES – Pop diva Beyonce and her rap mogul husband Jay-Z have welcomed twins, according to multiple US media reports, with two new members joining music’s royal family that already includes five-year-old Blue Ivy.

News that the songstress had given birth, which was first reported by People magazine and US Weekly, ignited social media, with the so-called “Bey hive” fan group buzzing over the yet unrevealed sexes and names of the latest additions to the Carter Clan.

Entertainment news outlet E! said the power couple was spotted at a Los Angeles area hospital on Thursday.

Speculation grew when an unidentified woman was photographed Friday carrying a large bouquet of pink, blue and purple flowers – complete with a card that appeared to read “B + J” – along with twin pink and blue balloons in the shape of feet that read “Baby Girl” and “Baby Boy”.

Superstar Beyonce in February made the blockbuster reveal that she was expecting.

Clad in panties and a bra under a flowing veil, she commanded control of the internet by posting a picture of herself kneeling beside a human-size floral arrangement, her hands cradling her rounded belly.

“We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over,” the 35-year-old singer wrote.

“We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for all your well wishes,” she added, signing with Jay Z.

As an expecting mother she made a New Age celebration of women at the Grammy Awards earlier this year – putting on an extravagant and abstract performance while proudly displaying her baby bump cloaked in a flowing gold gown.

She made a number of red carpet appearances while carrying the twins, and documented her pregnancy via social media to the joy of her legions of adoring fans. — AFP