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SHAH ALAM – Police have made fresh arrests in their ongoing probe into students with suspected gang ties.

“We caught three suspects on Thursday in Klang for suspected ties to Gang 24. All are still students, between Form Four and Form Five,” said Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm Fadzil Ahmat after a handing over of duty ceremony at the state police headquarters Friday.

He added that the suspects were believed to be involved in the viral videos that showed a gang of students creating a ruckus outside schools.

The three SMK La Salle Klang students will be remanded from Friday.

This brings the number of arrests to 41. The remaining 38 suspects – including 33 youths – have been granted bail.

On April 20, two videos showing students and motorcyclists with possible gang ties raising a commotion outside a school went viral, which led to the police forming a task force for the case.

The video also showed the youths holding up banners, with one bearing the numbers “24”, “TD4” and a black swastika.

The next day, a similar incident occurred near SMK Simpang Lima, Klang. The incident was caught on camera and shared with the media by the police. – The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR – Former Master’s student Siti Noor Aishah Atam wanted to end her life if she was not allowed to go to Syria, the High Court heard.

Her intention was mentioned in a police report lodged by her father Atam Jusoh on Feb 18, 2014, in an attempt to stop her from going there.

DPP Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam said her intention was further illustrated in a note that she wrote on one of the books that she was caught with entitled Merentas Jalan Jihad fie Sabilillah.

In the note that was written in red ink, Siti Noor Aishah wrote several lines which included: “Wahai Pemberi Rahmat … percepatkanlah kematianku jika dunia masih melengahkan langkahku dari menyahut seruan Mu dan dari melaksana­­kan seluruh Syariat-Mu…” (O Giver of Grace, hasten my death if the world still delays my path from heeding Your call and executing Your law).

“The writing is consistent with the father’s police report which clearly stated that she wanted to go on a ‘jihad’ (holy war) in Syria and would kill herself if she was not allowed,” Mohamad Mustaffa said in his submission at the end of the defence case here yesterday.

He also said the facts in the case were consistent with the accused knowing the contents of the 12 books in her possession.

Siti Noor Aishah is accused of having in her possession books on Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda (AQ) at Lot 1241, Jalan Lapangan Terbang Sura, Dungun, Terengganu at 12.25pm on March 22, last year.

She is facing imprisonment of not more than seven years or a fine or forfeiture of any of the items, upon conviction under Section 130JB(1)(a) of the Penal Code.

Lawyer Mohd Kamaruzaman A. Wahab, who represented her, said his client owned a large book collection of various genres.

“But the police purposely seized these books to charge her under this offence,” he said.

The court fixed May 2 for decision. – The Star Online

WASHINGTON – The State Department on Tuesday urged North Korea to free an American college student detained in the communist nation for more than a year, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The University of Virginia student, Otto Warmbier, was arrested in January 2016 while on the trip to the North for allegedly stealing a political propaganda sign from a hotel. He has since been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour.

“We believe that he’s being held unjustly. He’s gone through the criminal process, and he’s been detained for, as you noted, more than a year. We believe his sentence of 15 years hard labor is unduly harsh — harsh, rather, for the actions that Warmbier allegedly took,” State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said at a regular briefing.

“We urge North Korea to pardon him and grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds,” Toner said. “We would also like to have access to him, regular access, through our protecting power, which I believe is Swedish embassy.”

Toner also said he strongly advises against traveling to the North.

American visitors have often been detained in North Korea on charges of anti-state and other unspecified crimes. Widespread views are that the communist nation has used the detentions as bargaining chips in its negotiations with Washington.

Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, served two years of detention in the North before being released in November 2014 when US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a secret trip to Pyongyang to win his release and that of another US detainee. – BERNAMA

MIRI – Police today detained two men to assist in the investigation into the attempted rape of a Form Four female student yesterday.

Miri police chief ACP Khoo Leng Huat said the local suspects aged 18 and 19 had been remanded while the case was being investigated under Section 376/511 of the Penal Code.

The student broke her left leg while trying to escape by jumping out of the car which the two men were in.

One suspect was sitting with the victim in the back passenger seat while the other drove the vehicle to Batu 1 Baram but refused to send her home. – BERNAMA

KUCHING – The bodies of two Nigerian students reported missing when a boat capsized in Tasik Taman Negara Loagan Bunut, Miri last night were found by a search and rescue team at 12.45pm and 5.15pm.

According to the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department director Nor Hisham Mohammad, the body of Amate Mohamed Amate, 26, was found about 50m from where the boat had capsized at 12.45pm while the body of Emine-Imoh Daniel, 23, was found about 30m from where the boat had capsized at 5.15pm.

The bodies of Amate and Daniel, both students at the Curtin Universiti in Miri, has been sent to the Miri Hospital for post-mortem.

The two victims were among six students from Curtin University, Miri, conducting observation and research on wildlife in the lake area when the boat capsized.

Four other students, namely one each from Oman, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malaysia and the skipper of the boat were reported to be safe.

A passing boatman who witnessed the incident reported the matter to park manager Anthony Chong, who sent a rescue team of five men to the location.

The search and rescue operation involved the fire and rescue department, police and a team from Taman Negara Loagan Bunut. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – A hotel employee was fined RM6,000 by the Ampang Magistrate’s Court here today, when he pleaded guilty to two charges of using criminal force and flashing his genitals to a teenage university student in April.

Shamsudin Kadar, 27, had used criminal force on the 18-year-old woman with the intention of outraging her modesty.

He had also displayed his genitals to insult her modesty.

For the first charge, magistrate Mohamad Firdaus Sadina Ali fined Shamsudin RM3,500 or a year’s jail.

For the second charge, the hotel employee was fined RM2,500 or eight months’ jail.

The offences were committed at a stairway in Jalan Cahaya near the Cahaya LRT station in Taman Cahaya here at 2.30pm on April 30. – BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – All 1,200 Malaysian students studying in eight universities in Universiti di Christchurch, New Zealand, which was rocked by a strong earthquake yesterday, are safe, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

He said the Malaysian Education Department (Education Malaysia) and the Malaysian High Comission in Wellington had contacted all of them and found that none were hurt.

“Education Malaysia in New Zealand has advised Malaysian students there to remain vigilant and follow advice issued by New Zealand’s Civil Defence Department,” he said in a statement here today.

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit South Island at 7.02pm yesterday. Its epicentre was 92km northeast of Christchurch and a tsunami warning was issued. So far two people have been reported killed.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department in a statement said a magnitude 6.5 earthquake jolted New Zealand’s South Island again at 8.34am today but said it posed no tsunami threat. – BERNAMA

KAJANG – A lawyer pleaded not guilty in the Magistrate’s Court here today to charges of outraging the modesty of two students of a private institution of higher learning early last month.

On the first charge, A. Micheal, 33, was alleged to have outraged the modesty of a 22-year-old woman by touching her buttocks in front of a condominium in Sungai Long here at 3.30 pm last Nov 1.

The offence carries an imprisonment for up to 10 years, or fine, or whipping, or any two of the punishments, if found guilty.

He was also charged with outraging the modesty of another woman, aged 20, by attempting to touch her breasts, at the same place and on the same day.

The charge, also made under Section 354 of the Penal Code, but read together with Section 511 of the same law, provides an imprisonment for up to five years, or fine, or whipping, or any two of the punishments, if found guilty.

Deputy public prosecutor Natasha Chin Le Jy, who prosecuted, offered bail of RM6,000 on each charge, but Michael, represented by a panel of six lawyers led by Datuk Jerald Gomez, requested for a lower bail on grounds that he was married and had no previous record.

Magistrate Fadzilatul Isma Ahmad Refngah set bail at RM7,800 in one surety on both charges and fixed Dec 9 for mention. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – A pre-school student had to endure pain for more than 20 minutes after her left foot got stuck in a steel manhole cover near the Kuala Kubu Bharu Mini Stadium, Friday.

The incident occurred at about 12 noon when six-year-old Larisa d/o Cundang, of Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Kubu 2, was on her way home after taking part in sports activities at the school.

Kuala Kubu Bharu Fire and Rescue Department operating officer Azami Bakar told Bernama that the girl slipped and her leg got stuck in the steel manhole cover up to her thigh.

Eight members of the Fire and Rescue department were dispatched to the scene after receiving a call at 12.24pm.

Azami said the team was able to extricate the girl’s leg by using hydraulic cutting tool to pry open the steel cover.

The girl only suffered minor injuries, he added. – BERNAMA

By: Nur Ashikin Abdul Aziz

CAIRO – “This place used to be packed, with a busy market area in the courtyard. “But now as you can see, you have Edfu Temple all to yourself as if it is a private tour,” Mahmoud Ramadan explained as we explored the temple built during the Graeco-Roman period between 237 and 57 BC.

Mahmoud, in his 30s, felt lucky to be able to keep his job as a tourist guide despite the current slowdown in Egyptian tourism. Many of his friends were either unemployed or had to venture into other sectors, he said.

Born and bred in Aswan, a governorate over 600km from the capital Cairo, Mahmoud was entrusted to accompany five visiting journalists from Malaysia, including this writer.

While in Edfu temple, a local group of tourists suddenly approached us.

“They said that it had been a long time since they saw tourists in Edfu city, and are excited to take photographs together,” Mahmoud explained.

THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND

The General Director of International Tourism Department, Egyptian Tourism Authority, Dr Adel El Masry said misleading news reports have tarnished Egypt’s reputation although reality was that the country was stable and safe for tourism and travel.

Egypt experienced a peak in tourism in 2010 with 14 million tourists arrivals. The number dropped to nine million a year later, during the revolution to topple Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign.

At its peak, tourism contributed 11.8 percent to the country’s gross domestic products, providing revenue of about US$12.5 billion to the economy. The sector also employs over 14 percent of workforce in Egypt.

The terrorist attacks in the Sinai Peninsula also contributed to the continued decline in tourism following the travel restrictions or advice issued by several countries to parts of Egypt.

Dr El Masry said that what certain media refused to acknowledge was the distance between north Sinai, where the attacks occurred, and south Sinai, which was safe and “100 percent under Egypt’s control”, was some 650km away.

“The government has taken the necessary safety measures in the airport, streets and tourists destinations,” he told the visiting Malaysian journalists.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

The General Director said the large number of international students in Egypt, of which 12,000 were from Malaysia, was testament to the safety of the
country.

“If the students and their families do not feel that this country is safe and stable, they will not stay and study here,” he said.

Malaysian students, Siti Nurul Afiqah Johari and Siti Khadijah Mansor, both 24, agreed.

The final year medical students of Al-Azhar University have been studying in Egypt since before the 2011 Revolution and had no intentions of leaving the country even though biased media reports had their parents slightly rattled.

“We had gone through the revolution and its aftermaths. But really, it is not as bad as reported. As long as we follow the law, there nothing is to be afraid of,” they said.

LUXOR’S TOURISM EXPERIENCE

Located on the banks of the Nile River, some 700km away off the capital city of Cairo, Luxor is another a governorate that depended heavily on tourism.

The slowdown in the sector after damaging media reports during and after the 2011 revolution had resulted in a number of setbacks to the governorate and its people, including an unemployment rate of over 38 percent.

“This is a problem of perception. The problem is that people outside Egypt are looking at some channels of the media that depict things differently than
the reality on the ground,” said Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr.

In 2010, when tourism was at its peak in Egypt, 80 percent of Luxor’s income was through tourism.

Diversifying the economy in Luxor is vital for the survival of its 1.5 million population and initiatives for the effort have begun since two years ago.

MOVING FORWARD

Governor Mohamed said through tourism, the governorate had completed works to improve infrastructure at temples and monuments to allow tourist visits until
11pm.

“We are also studying the possibility of making a fast train service between Hurghada city and Luxor, and another route direct from Luxor to Marsa Alam and
Edfu. We are putting it in the pipeline in the next five years,” he said.

Efforts are also being made to attract tourists from Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, to add to the list of leading visitors from Netherlands, United States, Britain, Japan, South Korea and China.

But Mohamed said focus must first be on changing the perception. The governorate through the Ministry of Tourism is working on a campaign to help explain the real situation in the country.

“We need to work via social media, bloggers and travel editors to help explain the real situation in Egypt. I hope people will judge Egypt by themselves, because to see is to believe,” he said.

EXPERIENCING EGYPT FIRST HAND

The journalists traversed the land of Pharoahs in nine days, visiting various historical places in different cities and governorates such as Cairo,
Aswan, Luxor and Alexandria.

There were many security stops along the way. The heightened security at the airports was in line with the government’s efforts and seriousness in ensuring the safety of the locals and tourists.

The euphoria of seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Valley of the Kings was slightly marred by the sadness the writer felt upon observing the uninspiring number of tourists that visited the sites.

It certainly was not befitting the magnificence of the structures, one of which was a Wonder of the World.

A bright side to it, however, was the shorter queuing time for tourists. This meant that tourists now had more time to enjoy and explore the hidden gems of Egypt, making it the right time for tourists to visit the country. -BERNAMA