Thursday, March 18, 2010
Abdullah, a close ally of the US and Britain, demanded "firm, swift, direct and effective action to stop Israel's provocative measures in Jerusalem that seek to change its identity and threaten holy sites".
"Jerusalem is a red line and the world should not be silent about Israel's attempts to get rid of Jerusalem's Arab residents, Muslims or Christians," the king told Lady Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, according to a palace statement.
Ashton is visiting Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip tomorrow before flying to Moscow to join a meeting of the Middle East Quartet: Hillary Clinton for the US, the UN's Ban Ki-Moon, Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Tony Blair, the Quartet's special representative.
Abdullah's comments came a day after the worst clashes in months broke out across East Jerusalem during a "day of rage" announced by Hamas, as the Palestinian movement urged Muslims to reach the al-Aqsa mosque to protect it from an alleged Israeli takeover attempt.
Tensions soared over the rededication of the 17th century Hurva synagogue and Israel's announcement that it was building 1,600 new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa mosque compound was reopened and a closure of the West Bank lifted yesterday.
Jordan is one of only three Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel. Abdullah's uncharacteristically strong language reflects a pro-western camp dismayed by the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the opportunities it offers to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, which backs both Islamist groups.
King Abdullah has a special position because the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty recognises the Hashemite kingdom's "historic" role in caring for the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Chelsea 0 Inter Milan 1 (Inter win 3-1 on aggregate)
Jose Mourinho made a triumphant return to Stamford Bridge to dump his former club out of the Champions League and remind Roman Abramovich of the mistake he made by kicking him out of the club.
Inter, leading 2-1 from the opening leg of this last-16 tie in the San Siro, secured their place in the last eight when Samuel Eto'o scored the winner at Stamford Bridge in the 78th minute.
Chelsea's campaign ended in more misery when Didier Drogba was sent off in the 87th minute for a crude moment of petulance, appearing to stamp on Thiago Motta.
Samuel Eto holds off Branislav Ivanovic's challenge and finishes well to send Inter Milan through to the Champions League quarter-finals
Mourinho, who never lost a home league game during his time as manager at Chelsea, had begun the evening with a low profile entry from the tunnel and into his dugout seat.
Chelsea fans responded with warm applause but Mourinho refrained from hogging the limelight. He knew he and his team had a job to do.
Mourinho had cleverly picked an attacking side with Eto'o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev up front, and his plan worked superbly.
They set about the task of preserving their one-goal advantage from the opening leg in the San Siro with a determination and energy rarely associated with Italian teams.
They closed Chelsea down with alarming efficiency for much of the half and squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to pile on the agony for the English side.
But when the home side did get into gear, there was enough encouragement to suggest the deficit could easily be wiped out.
In the 11th minute, Michael Ballack collected a pass from Frank Lampard and sent a 20-yard low drive just wide of the post. But it was an isolated moment.
The low intensity of the game was briefly interrupted in the 15th minute when Florent Malouda was kicked in the face by Lucio.
Drogba quickly squared-up to the Inter defender before referee Wolfgang Stark, who had a poor game, restored calm.
But the Serie A side were doing everything to protect their lead and Maicon was the hero in the 25th minute when he blocked a shot from Drogba.
Milan responded with the miss of the half from Eto'o. Maicon's cross eluded Chelsea captain John Terry and fell straight to the Inter striker at the far post.
But instead of planting his header into the net, Eto'o headed the ball down and over the cross bar.
It was a real let-off for the home side who then had two penalty claims rejected within minutes.
First Motta escaped when he rugby-tackled Branislav Ivanovic and moments later Walter Samuel was guilty of an atrocious challenge on Drogba as the Ivorian attempted to lose his marker from a corner.
Amazingly, Stark missed both offences and Motta then cleared off the line after Nicolas Anelka had turned a pass from Drogba towards the empty goal.
It had been a frustrating half for the English side and more of the same was dished-up in the second period.
Malouda briefly threatened to take the game to the Italians and his trickery earned Motta a booking in the 47th minute. It was a yellow card that will keep him out of the quarter-final.
The France winger, the architect of West Ham's downfall in the Barclays Premier on Saturday, then forced Julio Cesar into a fine save at his near post.
Lucio was also booked by Stark and he too will miss the first-leg of Inter's quarter-final tie.
But as the second-half wore on, Milan began to exploit Chelsea's nervousness.
Yury Zhirkov produced a sensational block tackle to prevent Goran Pandev from putting Milan in front on the night and in the 65th minute Diego Milito put his shot wide with just Ross Turnbull to beat.
Moments later Motta headed over the bar from close range as Mourinho's side edged closer to the last eight.
The goal they had threatened throughout the second half finally arrived in the 79th minute when Eto'o collected a superb pass from Wesley Sneijder and ran on to fire past Turnbull.
Mourinho allowed himself a short run out of his dugout but then remembered his pledge not to celebrate and walked back to his seat.
Chelsea, who had never looked like scoring in the second half, now had to get two - a task that was clearly beyond them.
It got worse for Chelsea in the 87th minute when Drogba was given a straight red card for a lunge on Motta, seemingly raking his studs down the midfielder's calf after the ball had gone.
Inter wasted another chance in the closing stages when Eto'o's shot was superbly saved by Turnbull.
But it was all academic in terms of the result and with a minute of added time to go, Mourinho ended the game with a low profile exit.
The former Chelsea boss watched the closing seconds from the sanctuary of the tunnel and disappeared at the final whistle to leave the glory and celebrations to his victorious team.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A state of disaster has been declared in parts of Fiji, as Cyclone Tomas blasts through the north and east of the Pacific island country.
At least 5,000 people have had leave their homes, and 50 properties have so far been destroyed.
Cyclone Tomas, a category four storm, is blowing at up to 170km/h (106 mph).
The eastern Lau group of islands is bearing the brunt of the storm, but the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu have escaped the worst.
"The National Disaster Council has declared a state of disaster in the northern division and eastern division," National Disaster Management Office operations officer Anthony Blake said.
There is particular concern about the islands of Cikobia and Qelelevu; nothing has been heard from them since the cyclone hit there on Monday.
Mr Blake added that he expected the number of destroyed homes to increase over the coming days.
Schools have closed, public services have been suspended, and international flights have been cancelled.
There have been no casualties reported since officials said a woman was swept away in heavy seas as the storm approached.
The cyclone was said to be moving slowly, increasing the potential for damage.
Power and telephone lines are down in many parts of the country, and some healthcare buildings have been damaged.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Champions Lge KO Rnd 1, Leg 2
Manchester United 4-Milan 0
Wayne Rooney starred on the field but David Beckham stole the limelight on his return to Old Trafford. He received a standing ovation when he came off the bench but it was his final act which further enhanced his legend status. At full time he donned a green-and-gold scarf – a symbol of opposition to the Glazer family's ownership of the club
This evening needed every square inch of football heritage to conceal the drabness of the match. Manchester United overwhelmed inept and ageing visitors. David Beckham eventually took the field as a substitute against his old club and was a tactful guest. The veteran won cheers for a volley that did no harm as the attempt was tipped over the bar by Edwin van der Sar.
The drubbing administered at Old Trafford fell just short of the 5-0 margin by which Arsenal had swamped Porto the night before. Perhaps the recent Premier League ascendancy in this tournament is not destined to end shortly after all. It will be a relief to Sir Alex Ferguson and others that Real Madrid, following the 1-1 draw with Lyon, have yet again been eliminated in the last 16 of the Champions League.
United were never confronted by that sort of risk and the sheer energy in their ranks prevented Milan from disguising the elderliness of some and the mediocrity of others in their line-up. The contrast between the teams was all the more pronounced because Wayne Rooney, who began his professional life as a phenomenon, seems now to be getting better still.
There were to be two strikes from him, but he had confirmed United's passage to the Champions League quarter-finals as soon as he notched the opener. The entertainment continued to the 88th minute when Darren Fletcher headed in a cross from the substitute Rafael da Silva. This emphatic beating will not have taken Milan wholly by surprise.
The fuss over Beckham's return to Old Trafford overlooked the fact that the coach, Leonardo, would have been a sentimental fool to include him in the starting line-up. His mediocre outing in the first leg indicated that the inevitable decline of a veteran is getting steeper. At least Beckham showed nice touches and a fellow substitute Filippo Inzaghi might have forced home one of the deliveries in stoppage time.
The 34-year-old Beckham was introduced with the score was 3-0 and there had been nothing to distract the crowd from lauding him. "Fergie, Fergie sign him up," chanted the fans. The intention was kind, but it must have hurt a veteran who knew he was being patronised. At least he was not alone. This had been a chastening night for Milan.
Nothing could have stopped them from being outclassed but the aggregate score might not have reached 7-2 if Alexandre Pato and, more relevantly, the centre-half Alessandro Nesta had been fit to play. Any suggestion that the tie was in balance at kick-off was pure fiction, even if Ferguson had been in charge of the story-telling.
On the eve of the game he had regretted the late goal by Clarence Seedorf at San Siro. That had done no more that trim the margin of United's win to 3-2. At the very least, Milan would have had to score twice at Old Trafford and the task of keeping a clean sheet had always looked an impossibility.
There could have been some tension when a free-kick from the right glanced off Nani and went straight to Ronaldinho after eight minutes but the Brazilian's header ran wide with the goalkeeper Van der Sar almost motionless. Rooney is more practised at that art and his opener was the seventh consecutive goal he had nodded home.
The attacker got in front of the centre-half Daniele Bonera to glance the ball past a helpless Christian Abbiati. The visitors had come with attacking intent, but they also brought to Manchester the same basic vulnerability that had afflicted them in Milan.
Even if they had been rigorous, Rooney might still have been their undoing. The string of goals highlights the movement essential to a striker who is not all that tall. Often there is no marker to outjump him because Rooney has left him trailing. The opener dismayed Milan, but there was also collateral damage to the fixture itself.No one could pretend that a grand drama was unfolding.
Leonardo's side did not get much encouragement although they had bouts of possession. Before half-time excitement was restricted in their efforts to counter Rooney's goal. Milan had to seek a lot more than that. They sent on Seedorf for the second half, but the removal of Bonera proved more relevant because the middle of their defence was disturbed.
Massimo Ambrosini, a midfielder, had been reassigned to that post, but the back four were left helpless when possession was surrendered cheaply. Nani, from the left, crossed precisely with his right foot in the 46th minute and Rooney shot past Abbiati. A finish with boot rather than brow was the sole element of surprise. Uncertainty involved nothing more than the ultimate margin of victory in the tie.
United, with the match won, were too composed to be lenient. After 59 minutes, Paul Scholes slid through a pass that Park Ji-sung converted for the third goal. A crowd that relished the display and remembered to protest lustily against the ownership of the Glazers had an ideal evening.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, today said that the US is playing a "double game" in Afghanistan, fighting the terrorists it once supported.
During a visit to the Afghan capital, Mr Ahmadinejad was asked to respond to comments made by Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary in which he accused Tehran of "playing a double game" by trying to have a good relationship with the Afghan government while undermining US and Nato efforts by providing some support to the Taliban.
Tehran has said it supports the Afghan government and denies allegations that it helps the Taliban. Iran calls the accusation part of a broad anti-Iranian campaign and says it makes no sense that its Shiite-led government would help the fundamentalist Sunni movement of the Taliban.
"I believe that they themselves," who are now fighting militants in Afghanistan, "are playing a double game," he said. "They themselves created terrorists and now they're saying that they are fighting terrorists."
During the 10 years the that the Soviet Union fought in Afghanistan, the US helped rebels with supplies ranging from mules to advanced weaponry, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that played a crucial role in neutralising Soviet air power. The US money spigot, however, was later turned off and the world watched Afghanistan plunge into chaos and eventually harbour al-Qaeda terrorists.
Mr Gates, who left Afghanistan shortly before Mr Ahmadinejad spoke, called the Iranian President's visit to Kabul "certainly bothersome."
"We think Afghanistan should have good relations with all its neighbours, but we want all of Afghanistan's neighbours" to deal fairly with President Hamid Karzai's government," Mr Gates said.
Mr Karzai said Iran was assisting Afghanistan with reconstruction projects, improving education and helping provide electricity.
"We are very hopeful that our brother nation of Iran will work with us in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan so that both our countries will be secure," Mr Karzai said, adding that Afghanistan has a very good relationship with Tehran.
"We have mentioned several times to our brother nation, Iran, that we don't want any one to use our soil against any of our neighbours," he said.
Mr Ahmadinejad and Mr Karzai both spoke at the presidential palace, but it was the Iranian leader who did nearly all of the talking.
He said the best way to fight terrorists was not on the battlefield, but through the use of intelligence, which does not result in the death of troops or civilians.
He said: "We do not see the presence of foreign military forces in Afghanistan as a solution for peace in Afghanistan."
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010
PARIS—Israel's infrastructure minister says his country wants to build nuclear power plants in cooperation with its Arab neighbors.
Uzi Landau says all nuclear plants built in Israel will be subject to strict safety and security controls.
He told a nuclear conference in Paris on Tuesday that "Israel has always considered nuclear power to partially replace its dependence on coal."
The program would be aimed to help Israel secure energy supplies and battle global warming by curbing its use of fossil fuels.
Landau says that Israel hopes to develop nuclear energy in cooperation with scientists and engineers from "our Arab neighbors."￼
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Three missiles fired by US drone aircraft killed five militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal belt, a bastion of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, security officials said.
The latest in a series of US drone attacks targeted militants in the centre of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, a rebel stronghold near the Afghan border.
A security official in Peshawar confirmed the strike saying missiles from two drones hit a compound in Miranshah, while residents said the missiles struck two different buildings close to each other in the main bazaar.
Baitullah Mehsud's Taliban rival shot dead in Pakistan
"Two drones fired three missiles in Miranshah bazaar. Two buildings in the centre of the bazaar were hit and destroyed in the attack," he added.
Three suspected militants killed by US missile in Pakistan
A US drone strike in Miranshah in February killed Mohammed Haqqani, a brother of Al-Qaeda-linked warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose network is fighting against US and local forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
US drone attack kills 13 in Pakistan
Suspected US drone hits alleged Taliban training centre in Pakistan, 12 dead
Officials in Washington have praised the drone campaign for eliminating a number of high-value targets in terrain classified as an intelligence black hole and which Al-Qaeda has turned into its global headquarters.
Eight killed in US missile strikes in Pakistan
The covert US drone war against Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders has focused increasingly on North Waziristan, a bastion of multiple militant groups, since a December 30 suicide attack killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan.
North Waziristan borders Khost province, where a Jordanian doctor turned Al-Qaeda double agent blew himself up in the deadliest attack on the US spy agency in 26 years.
US officials, who never confirm the drone strikes, increasingly believe that Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, perished in a US attack in January.
However, there has been no official confirmation from the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban insist he is alive.
His predecessor Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a similar attack in August.
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KABUL—The top U.S. general in Afghanistan says that an upcoming campaign to secure the city of Kandahar is still some time away.
Without being specific, Gen. Stanley McChrystal says the Kandahar operation will wait for a larger U.S. and NATO troop buildup over the next couple of months. The bulk of additional forces expected for the region will be in place by early summer.
The Kandahar operation is perhaps the most anticipated military effort of the war as President Barack Obama has redesigned it. The recent operation round the town of Marjah (MAR'-jah) was a small-scale rehearsal for Kandahar, home base for the Taliban.￼
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Sunday, March 7, 2010
The North's military also said Sunday it will no longer be bound to the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
The threats come amid diplomatic efforts to revive stalled negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program. North Korea quit the disarmament talks and conducted its second atomic test last year, drawing tighter U.N. sanctions.
North Korea wants the sanctions lifted and peace talks with the U.S. on formally ending the Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The U.S., South Korea and Japan are urging the North to first return to the nuclear talks and make progress on denuclearization.
The North Korean military on Sunday condemned the U.S.-South Korean drills as preparation for an invasion. It said the process of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will come to a standstill and the North will bolster its nuclear deterrent.
"The revolutionary armed forces of (North Korea) will be left with no option but to exercise merciless physical force as the rival is set to do harm to the (North)," the military's mission at the truce village of Panmunjom said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has escalated its threats against South Korea and the U.S. over the planned drills. Last week, the North vowed to strengthen its nuclear deterrent and its means of delivery -- an apparent reference to missiles. Last month, the North also threatened a "powerful" -- even nuclear -- attack if the drills go ahead.
The U.S., which keeps about 28,500 troops in South Korea, plans to conduct the military exercises on Monday as planned. The U.S. and South Korea say the maneuvers are purely defensive.
Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University, dismissed North Korea's statement as rhetoric.
"The North's strong protest is not unusual as it also protested during previous drills," Koh said.￼
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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday called the official version of the Sept. 11 attacks a "big lie" used by the U.S. as an excuse for the war on terror, state media reported.
Ahmadinejad's comments, made during an address to Intelligence Ministry staff, come amid escalating tensions between the West and Tehran over its disputed nuclear program. They show that Iran has no intention of toning itself down even with tighter sanctions looming because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
"September 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the war on terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state TV. He called the attacks a "complicated intelligence scenario and act."
The Iranian president has questioned the official U.S. version of the Sept. 11 attacks before, but this is the first time he ventured to label it a "big lie."
In 2007, New York officials rejected Ahmadinejad's request to visit the World Trade Center site while he was in the city for a U.N. meeting. The president also sparked an uproar when he said during a lecture in New York that the causes and conditions that led to the attacks, as well as who orchestrated them, still need to be examined.
At the time, he also told Iranian state TV the attacks were "a result of mismanaging and inhumane managing of the world by the U.S," and that Washington was using Sept. 11 as an excuse to attack others.
He has also questioned the Sept. 11 death toll of around 3,000, claiming the Americans never published the victims' names.
On the 2007 anniversary of the attacks, the names of 2,750 victims killed in New York were read aloud at a memorial ceremony.
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NAIROBI, Kenya – Signaling a new offensive mind-set, international military officials stepped up the fight against pirates Friday as swarms of Somalis moved into the waters off East Africa.
Four shootouts with pirates showed that high-seas attacks are intensifying with the end of the monsoon season.
Nearly half the 47 ships hijacked off Somalia last year were taken in March and April, the most dangerous months of the year for ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
In the most serious skirmish Friday, six pirates chased a French fishing boat, said Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force. A French military detachment onboard a nearby ship approached the pirate skiff and collided with it, sinking it. Four pirates were rescued and two were missing.
In a second incident Friday, the EU Naval Force intercepted one mothership and two skiffs that had attacked a French vessel. The naval force said it destroyed the boats and took 11 pirates into custody.
In the third and fourth attacks, pirates assaulted two Spanish tuna fishing boats off the coast of Kenya, Spain's Defense Ministry said. Between air support and the private guards on the boats, they repelled the attack.
Crews are successfully repelling more attacks, making it harder for pirates to capture ships and earn ransoms.
Last year, the average ransom was around $2 million, according to piracy expert Roger Middleton of the British think tank Chatham House. This year, two ransoms paid were around $3 million and $7 million, he said.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
here some snap shot along the journey...
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Proton's Emas global car is expected to be in production by 2012
GENEVA: Proton’s first global car Emas is expected to be in production by 2012.
The concept version of the car, shown in three variants, was launched at the Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday by Proton adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“This is Proton’s 25th year and we want to tell the world that Proton is now ready to be a global player, that is the message we want to convey,” he said, adding that Proton was willing to invest in strategic partnerships to drive this new direction for the company.
“I’ve told the Proton people that I’d like to see the car out in a year, but they tell me they need more time,” Dr Mahathir said.
He said the project represented a giant technological leap for Proton, which previously focused mainly on the local market.
Proton group managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, who was also present for the launch, said they would need between 17 and 24 months to get the car into production.
“We are thankful and humbled that this is happening as we celebrate our 25 years of existence in the industry.
“We will certainly make use of this opportunity to reach out and build our brand further into the global market,” he added.
Emas, an acronym for Eco Mobility Advance Solution, was designed in collaboration with acclaimed Italian design house Italdesign Guigiaro.
“This is a car for today, with a design for tomorrow,” said Italdesign Giugiaro co-chairman Fabrizio Giugiaro at the launch.
“We don’t want to call it a concept car, rather, this is a new concept for a car,” he added.
The three variants shown was the five-door/four-seater Emas, three-door/four-seater Emas3 and Emas Country, a crossover hatchback that will seat five.
The car is also ready to accommodate any of three power trains - all-electric, hybrid and petrol or diesel - based on technology designed by Lotus Engineering.
Also present at the launch was Proton chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh and Dr Mahathir’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah.
Chile struggles to keep order in quake-hit city
CONCEPCION, Chile (Reuters) - Chilean authorities extended a curfew in the country's second-biggest city on Tuesday as troops struggled to contain worsening looting and crime in the wake of a devastating earthquake.
Despite the arrival of thousands of troops to reinforce local police, authorities were struggling to restore order in the city that bore the brunt of Saturday morning's 8.8-magnitude quake that killed at least 723 people.
Residents in Concepcion said they were organizing groups to defend their properties from robbers and looters, who the city's mayor said on Monday were becoming more organized.
"Government help has been so slow to arrive," said Caroline Contreras, a 36-year-old teacher.
"The soldiers just arrived and haven't been able to control the situation. The neighbours where I live are organizing to defend themselves because people are starting to rob houses."
President Michelle Bachelet, who condemned the "pillage and criminality," dispatched 7,000 soldiers to the region and imposed curfews to restore order, saying her government was sending emergency food and medicine supplies.
The devastating quake struck as Latin America's most stable economy was trying to recover from a recession brought on by the global financial crisis. The total economic damage from the quake could exceed $15 billion, the catastrophe risk firm AIR Worldwide said.
But both the human and economic cost could have been a lot worse given the size of the quake, one of the world's biggest in the past century.
The government has acknowledged that it has battled to provide aid swiftly because of mangled roads and major power disruptions caused by the quake.
Residents also criticized the government's response in the battered central city of Talca, where the main hospital partly collapsed, forcing doctors and nurses to treat wounded quake victims in a clinic.
Counters overflowed with boxes of medicine that had been hastily arranged. Nearly 10 people have died at the hospital and the morgue has received at least 30 bodies, officials said.
"We have not got any help from the government. We were expecting more and are still waiting for the three basics -- food, water and electricity," said 68-year-old Damian Vera Vergara.
Rescuers found signs of life on Monday in a collapsed apartment block in Concepcion. Workers heard knocking beneath the ruins of the 14-story building and were drilling into the rubble to try to reach the possible survivors. About 60 people were thought to have been killed when the block crumbled.
The quake sent massive waves surging into villages on the country's Pacific coast. In the town of Constitucion alone, 350 people were reported to have died, and the full scale of damage in isolated coastal towns remained unclear.
Fears of a major blow to Chile's economy from the quake receded somewhat as the stock market and the currency remained resilient. Other Latin American markets also took the quake in stride.
Mines in Chile, the world's leading copper producer, resumed activity and the central bank said it would keep interest rates at record lows to help stimulate the economy.
China sticks to diplomatic approach on Iran
Iran has also been a sticking point in Sino-U.S. ties. Washington and other Western powers want China's backing for a proposed U.N. resolution slapping new sanctions on Tehran, which they say is seeking the means to make nuclear weapons.
Of the five members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power, China is most resistant to employing global sanctions to force Tehran to abandon its alleged atom-bomb plans, saying diplomacy can resolve the issue.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang indicated on Tuesday his government would take its time on negotiating the Iran nuclear issue.
"We believe there is still room for diplomatic efforts and the parties concerned should intensify those efforts," Qin told a regular news conference in Beijing.
Analysts and foreign officials say China will resist any proposed sanctions that threaten flows of oil and Chinese investments, but most believe it will accept a more narrowly cast resolution that has more symbolic than practical impact.
Iran was China's third biggest source of imported crude oil last year, and Beijing has long been reluctant to support stiff sanctions against Tehran.
Steinberg will also discuss North Korea, whose nuclear arms plans have alarmed the North's neighbours and the United States, said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
Nations involved in six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme have been seeking to revive negotiations, stalled since last year after North Korea pulled out and held a nuclear test.
North Korea has previously put conditions on its return to the talks, including ending U.N. sanctions and having discussions with the United States on a peace treaty to replace the cease-fire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Washington hopes the visit by Steinberg and the National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs, Jeffrey Bader, will help ease Sino-U.S. tensions.
"We've gone through a bit of a bumpy path here, and I think there's an interest both within the United States and China to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible," Crowley told reporters in Washington.
China, too, appears to want to lower the temperature of friction with the United States, a key trade partner.
Beijing has not yet acted on its threat to sanction U.S. companies involved in the Taiwan arms sales, and on the weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he wanted trade friction with the United States to ease.
A report in China's state-run Xinhua news agency on Monday suggested that Beijing would use the talks to press its complaints about U.S. policy towards Taiwan and Tibet.
In January, the Obama administration said it was going ahead with new arms sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled and democratic island that Beijing claims as its own. The following month President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader reviled by Beijing.
"Responsibility for the current state of China-U.S. relations does not lie with the Chinese side, and we ask that the U.S. take China's concerns seriously," said Qin, the Chinese spokesman.
After Beijing, Steinberg and Bader are due to meet with senior officials in Tokyo on Thursday and Friday.
Malaysian teachers say ‘no’ to sex education (Updated)
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian teachers are saying “no” to teaching sex education in schools.
They lack professional training in teaching the subject, National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said Tuesday.
She said while the union fully supported the Government’s move to provide sex education in schools, “sadly, the teachers lack formal training in the complexity and sensitivity of the subject and are not confident to teach it.”
Lok said the teachers were afraid they might be sued by the parents “if they were to make mistakes in imparting the knowledge of sex to the pupils.”
Malaysia is a multiracial, religious and cultural nation with each ethnic group having its own notion on the subject, which made the teaching more challenging, she noted.
The NUTP is the country’s biggest teachers union representing 160,000 teachers, which is approximately half the teaching profession.
Lok said the union wanted the Education Ministry to first hold discussions with stakeholders on the pros and cons of the move before making a firm decision.
Currently, the subject was taught in “bits and pieces” from the primary level to secondary level, in the absence of a proper structured course.
Of late, sex education has become a very important issue in the country, with an increasing number of unwed mothers, many of them students.
Meanwhile, a Bernama survey among students, parents and teachers showed that all groups were in favour of sex education but were unsure of the form and content of the course.
Teenage student Jayaraman said he was all for it, but was unsure what and how the teachers were going to teach because “we have more girls than boys in our class and most of our teachers are female.”
Abdul Raof Bidin, 38, who has two school-going children, felt that it was necessary to teach the subject.
“It should be handled with care as it could easily be misconstrued and do more harm than good, if wrongly imparted,” he said.
Another parent, M. Arumugam, 44, believes it was better for medical professionals like doctors and nurses to impart the subject to students.
”Maybe the Education Ministry should consult the Health Ministry and come up with some kind of arrangement for teachers to be provided with on-the-job training,” he said.
Betty Lee, who has been a teacher for 24 years, felt that the subject was best handled by “teachers who themselves are mothers and know how to handle such a complex subject.”
”With due respect, not all teachers can teach the subject, and the ministry should be very careful in selecting the right candidate for the job,” said the 50-year-old.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Afghan suicide blast 'kills four' civilians
The attack comes a day after a roadside bomb killed 11 civilians in neighbouring Helmand province.
US and Afghan forces are waging a major offensive against Taliban fighters entrenched there.
The attack happened near the airport, an important base for Nato forces battling militants across southern Afghanistan.
On Friday, the US military said it was planning a new offensive later this year to drive the Taliban from Kandahar.
Police enter Jerusalem holy site
There were also clashes elsewhere in the Old City area of Jerusalem
The Islamic body which oversees administration of the area disputes the police account of events.
This is the latest in a series of clashes amid high tensions over religious sites in the past week.
The Jerusalem compound also contains the Western Wall, a sacred site for Jews.
Clashes broke out in the West Bank town of Hebron on Friday over Israel's decision to list two disputed shrines as heritage sites.
A Palestinian official said a group of youths had spent the night in the al-Aqsa mosque to prevent what they believed to be Jewish extremists from praying at the sensitive site.
Palestinians and Israelis were injured and several Palestinians were arrested in the brief confrontation on Sunday, police say.
An Israeli police spokesman said calm had been restored to the compound and visits resumed.
The spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said Muslim men under the age of 50 had been barred from the site, while older men, women of all ages and children had been permitted to enter.
Clashes erupted at the site last September after Muslims threw stones at people they believed to be Jewish extremists trying to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque.
A visit to the compound in 2000 by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon, later prime minister, led to clashes that escalated into years of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The compound containing the mosque lies in Jerusalem's Old City, which has been controlled by Israel since they captured it in the 1967 war.
Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the spot in the complex marked by the Dome of the Rock.
The site is holy to Jews because it is where the First and Second Temples were built according to the Old Testament, with the Western Wall still remaining.
Hamas man 'drugged and suffocated' in Dubai
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in a hotel room in Dubai
Israel's secret service has been widely blamed for the killing.
However Israel has said there is no evidence it was behind the death on 20 January.
It has accused Mabhouh of smuggling arms into Gaza and killing two Israeli soldiers.
"The killers used the drug succinylcholine to sedate Mabhouh before they suffocated him," Maj Gen Khamis Mattar al-Mazeina, deputy commander of Dubai's police, said.
"The assassins used this method so that it would seem that his death was natural," AFP news agency quoted him as saying.
The agency said succinylcholine is favoured by anaesthetists and emergency doctors because of its rapid onset.
Some previous reports on Mabhouh's death have suggested he was electrocuted and suffocated.
Dubai has identified 26 suspects in the murder and said they used British, Irish, French and Australian passports.
The use of the European and Australian passports in the assassination has sparked a diplomatic row between those countries and Israel.
The countries say the passports used by the murder suspects were forged.
British police officers are in Israel to investigate the use of fake British passports by some of the suspects.
Israeli officials have refused to either confirm or deny their country's involvement in the killing but have hailed it.
Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Sunday he did not know who had carried it out, but it showed Hamas that "none of their people are untouchable".
France declares storms 'national disaster'
High winds and driving rain brought chaos to travellers in western France
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has arrived at the storm-battered Atlantic coast, where at least 47 people died.
As the storm swept north-eastwards across Western Europe, others died in Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Germany.
Many of those on the French coast drowned, while those elsewhere were hit by parts of buildings or falling trees.
"It's a national disaster and my first thoughts go to the victims and to their families, to whom I want to express the government's and the nation's condolences," Mr Fillon said.
"The priority now is to make all the homeless people safe, all the people who are still threatened by the rising waters."
He said flood prevention dykes would be strengthened.
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said nearly 10,000 emergency staff were working on the west coast on Monday morning, to search for and help survivors.
He told France-Info radio that the death toll would "doubtless" rise as rescue workers made house-to-house visits.
As many as 30 people are thought to be missing.
The Atlantic storm, named Xynthia, smashed into the western coasts of France, Portugal and Spain on Sunday, with torrential rain driven by winds of up to 140km/h (87mph).
The weather system has swept north-eastwards into Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. There have also been reports of high winds in the Swiss Alps.
More than a million homes in France have lost electricity, from the Brittany peninsula in the west to the highlands of the Massif Central.
Worst affected have been the Vendee and Charente-Maritime regions on the western coast.
Huge waves and strong gusts battered many coastal towns, flooding inland areas and destroying buildings.
Residents took to their roofs in the Vendee region and police helicopters were in action trying to locate and rescue them.
French national power company EDF said half a million customers were still without power at nightfall on Sunday, AFP news agency reported.
Mr Fillon said it would take several days to restore power everywhere.
In Germany, a man was killed and his wife injured when a tree fell on their car in the Black Forest region, AFP reported.
A female jogger in the western town of Bergheim, and a man in Belgium, were also killed by falling trees.
Earlier on Sunday two Spanish men died when a tree crushed their car near Burgos. A Spanish woman was killed by a falling wall in Galicia, and a Portuguese boy was killed by a tree in Paredes.
Air France said 100 of its flights had been cancelled from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Wind speeds hit 175km/h at the top of the Eiffel Tower, French radio reported.
Quake, tsunamis kill more than 700 in Chile
Television images showed houses washed away by swirling waters, cars tossed into shattered buildings and boats lifted into the streets in coastal towns including Pelluhue and Constitucion, where 350 deaths alone were reported.
"It's an enormous catastrophe ... there's a growing number of missing people," Bachelet said, adding that food and medical aid was being sent to help the roughly 2 million people affected by the quake.
The quake wrecked hundreds of thousands of homes, mangled highways and bridges and dealt a heavy blow to infrastructure in the world's No. 1 copper producer and one of Latin America's most stable economies.
Widespread disruption to the power supply threatened to hamper Chilean industry's recovery, although Chile's biggest copper mines slowly resumed operations on Sunday.
Copper prices surged in early trading on Monday due to supply worries caused by the earthquake in Chile, jumping 5.6 percent on the London Metal Exchange .
Giant waves set off by the quake crashed hundred of meters into coastal villages near the epicenter, demolishing houses and sending residents fleeing into the hills.
"I've got nothing left but what I'm wearing. We ran desperately up the hill and watched how the sea washed everything away," an unidentified woman from the fishing village of Duao told state television.
The government had told Chileans immediately after the quake that there was no danger of a tsunami, an error it said was based on incorrect data from navy experts.
In the hard-hit city of Concepcion, about 310 miles (500 km) south of Santiago, about 60 people were feared to have been crushed to death in a collapsed apartment block where rescuers worked through the night to find survivors.
A lack of water, food and fuel sharpened the hardship for the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless.
The government imposed a night-time curfew in Concepcion and the Maule region in a bid to stop looting and army troops began to arrive in the city late on Sunday. Television also showed images of police firing tear gas at looters in Santiago and of youths throwing rocks at officers.
Police earlier used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a crowd of looters carrying off food and electrical appliances from one supermarket in Concepcion.
Television images showed people stuffing groceries and other goods into shopping trolleys in Concepcion, and a local official in Santiago confirmed that at least two supermarkets there had been looted.
"People have gone days without eating," said Orlando Salazar, one of the looters at the supermarket. "The only option is to come here and get stuff for ourselves."
Concepcion's mayor, Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, said the situation was getting "out of control" due to shortages of basic supplies and called for troops to be sent to the city.
The quake poses a daunting reconstruction challenge for President-elect Sebastian Pinera, who takes office in two weeks.
Crushed cars, fallen power lines and rubble from wrecked buildings littered the streets of Concepcion, which has about 670,000 inhabitants and lies 70 miles (115 km) southwest of the quake's epicenter.
A string of strong aftershocks have rocked the country and thousands of Concepcion residents camped out in tents or makeshift shelters, fearing fresh tremors could topple weakened buildings.
Some economists predicted a deep impact on Chile's economy after the quake damaged its industrial and agricultural sectors in the worst-hit regions, possibly putting pressure on its currency.
The economic damage from the quake could be up to $30 billion, equivalent to about 15 percent of Chile's gross domestic product, said Eqecat, a firm that helps insurers model catastrophe risks.
Chile's fourth-largest copper mine El Teniente, which accounts for more than 7 percent of national output, resumed operations on Sunday. The nearby Andina mine was also due to resume operations but analysts feared power outages could still curtail supplies.
Production also resumed on Sunday at the Anglo-American Los Bronces copper mine, one of the company's two mines where power outages halted output, a union leader told Reuters.
Santiago's airport started to receive international flights for the first time since the quake struck. Officials said the runways were unscathed but the terminal building was damaged.
The quake triggered tsunamis as far afield as Japan and Russia, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage.
8yr-old girl molested, forced to perform oral sex?
KUALA LUMPUR: An unemployed man pleaded not guilty to molesting an eight-year-old girl and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
Jamil Samad, 42, is alleged to have used criminal force on the Year Two pupil and rubbing his private parts against her buttocks.
If convicted, he can be jailed up to 10 years, fined or whipped or face any two of such punishments under Section 354 of the Penal Code.
He is also accused of putting his private parts into the girl’s mouth against her will.
If found guilty, he can be jailed up to 20 years and whipped under Section 377C of the Penal Code.
Jamil is said to have committed both offences at the staircase area at PPR Cochrane Perkasa in Jalan Nakhoda Yusuf, Cheras at 4.30pm on May 12 last year.
The girl’s 41-year-old mother had lodged a complaint over the incident later.
Upon hearing his charges Monday, Jamil, clad in striking red-checkered shirt and blue jeans, calmly said he wanted to claim trial.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nurfaida Mohd Rashidee said the prosecution has no intention to offer bail to the accused.
“If the court intends to use its discretion, the prosecution offers bail of RM15,000 in one surety,” she applied Monday.
DPP Nurfaida said the prosecution also pressed for the court to impose an additional bail condition that the accused should not disturb their witnesses as they were staying near the same area.
Upon queried by Sessions Court judge Mohamad Sekeri Mamat, Jamil said he had nothing to say over his bail application.
The judge then allowed a bail of RM15,000 in one surety and ordered him not to disturb the victim.
“If there is any complaint that you have disturbed the victim, then your bail will be revoked,” warned the judge.
He set April 5 for mention to allow the accused to appoint a lawyer.
‘Teoh could have been strangled, choked before death’
SHAH ALAM: Government pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor admitted that political aide Teoh Beng Hock could have been strangled or chocked prior to his death.
However, Dr Shahidan reiterated that, in his opinion, Teoh’s death was due to fall from height and not from strangulation.
Teoh’s family counsel Gobind Singh Deo also asked Dr Shahidan if there was a possibility that Teoh had been strangled at the MACC office.
“I didn’t say strangled to death, I said strangled,” said Gobind.
He then suggested that Teoh was tortured before falling to his death.
“Its possible but not probable,” said Dr Shahidan.
To a question by Gobind if he would consider the possibility that Teoh had been unconscious and was thrown down, Dr Shahidan said:
When being questioned by counsel appointed by the Selangor government Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Dr Shahidan said he also noticed a hematoma (a bruise resulting from internal bleeding), which suggested that force might have been applied to the neck.
He also told Malik Imtiaz there were signs of oxygen deprivation to the brain and such a condition could have led to fainting or collapsing.
Dr Shahidan also conceded there might be flaws in the first post-mortem conducted on political aide Teoh’s remains.
Pathologists Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim and Dr Prashant Samberkar conducted the initial post-mortem on July 17 last year.
Teoh, 30, the political secretary to Selangor executive council member Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead the morning after he was taken to the state Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office in Plaza Masalam here for questioning on July 15 last year over alleged irregularity in disbursement of funds.
Dr Shahidan’s testimony Monday contradicts what he told coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas during cross-examination on Feb 19.
He had said the post-mortem report by Dr Khairul Azman and Dr Prashant was very good and there were clear signs indicating Teoh had not been manually strangled.
Dr Shahidan, who is Sungai Buloh Hospital Pathology Unit head, agreed to a suggestion by Gobind that the post-mortem might not have been done prudently and competently.
This was because Teoh’s neck had not been examined for possible strangulation.
Internal examination on certain muscled parts of the body to investigate if Teoh had been beaten had also not been carried out.
When questioned by Gobind on what he would have looked out for in custodial deaths, Dr Shahidan said he would have looked for signs of strangulation and beatings.
Gobind: In cases where one looks for signs of beatings, you agree with me that quite often there are signs that are not apparent from a visual look at the body itself?
Dr Shahidan: Yes, there are incidences where one cannot see external injuries.
Gobind: How to find signs of beatings when cannot be seen visually?
Dr Shahidan said dissections would be done on the muscles on the head, back, chest, abdomen, feet and limbs as well as other muscled areas to determine if the victim had been flogged.
Gobind then pointed out that the dissections in these areas were only done during the second post-mortem conducted by Dr Shahidan and not done at all during the initial post-mortem.
Gobind: So in your opinion, as head of department, when examining a case in which there’s a possibility of custodial death, it would be prudent to look for injuries such as pressure marks on the neck and internal injuries to the body?
Dr Shahidan: Yes.
Dr Shahidan also agreed with Gobind that checking for strangulation marks and conducting an internal examination, to determine if the victim had been beaten, was the usual protocol adhered to in cases of custodial death.
He also admitted to finding superficial bruises in the neck region, which was not mentioned, in the first post-mortem report.
Gobind then said if it had not been for Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, the marks on Teoh’s neck would not have been known.
“How is it that our doctors didn’t pick it up but Dr Pornthip did from the picture?” asked Gobind.
However, Dr Shahidan vehemently defended the initial post-mortem report and openly declared in court that he would not say anything harsh against it.
“The superficial injuries to the neck may have only been evident after 24 hours, that’s why they couldnt see the marks,” he said.
Gobind also said it was strange that the two most crucial tests had not been carried out given that Teoh had died while in custody.
He asked Dr Shahidan if that suggested a cover-up if these two crucial tests had not been carried out at a post-mortem involving a custodial death.
“Yes,” said Dr Shahidan.
Azmil Muntapha adjourned Dr Shahidan’s cross-examination to March 10.
Dr Pornthip had on Oct 21 last year told the inquest that Teoh's death was 80% homicide and several injuries found on him appeared to be pre-fall injuries.
Nibong Tebal MP quits PKR (Updated)
KUALA LUMPUR: Nibong Tebal Member of Parliament Tan Tee Beng on Monday morning announced he has quit PKR and would remain an independent MP.
Tan, who last week faced the PKR disciplinary board on charges of openly criticising Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, said he was quitting all party posts immediately.
In February, Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim also quit PKR citing, among other reasons, dissatisfaction with Chief Minister Lim’s leadership of the state.
Tan's press conference on Monday was arranged by Kulim-Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin, which led to speculation that he too was quitting PKR to join Umno, just hours after former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin did the same.
Zulkifli was facing disciplinary action for lodging a police report against PAS’ Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, and has accused “little pharaohs” within the party of trying to kick him out.
He had earlier said that PKR vice-president Azmin Ali, strategic director Tian Chua and political bureau member Zaid Ibrahim had already called for his sacking, adding that even party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had labelled him as an “extremist.”
Ironically, he demanded that the disciplinary committee comprise only Muslims as it was related to the controversy related to the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
Zulkifli’s friction with the party mostly revolved around his hardline Islamic stance. In 2008, he led a group of protestors to storm a forum discussing Islamic issues, forcing police to request the peaceful dialogue be called off to prevent violence.
No arrests were made.
On Sunday, Fairus quit PKR, saying the stance taken by PKR and Pakatan Rakyat over the “Allah” issue had made him lose confidence in the party’s leadership.
He denied it had anything to with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission clearing him of graft charges over illegal sand quarrying activities in Penang.
Fairus had quit as Penanti assemblyman and DCM I last year.
Also on Monday, news portal The Malaysian Insider reported that former PKR secretary-general Datuk Salehuddin Hashim has quit the party.
Salehuddin had quit his post earlier this year.
On whether he would join another party, possibly Umno, Salehuddin only said that “he was a politician who has retired,” The Malaysian Insider said.
Last week, 77 PKR Youth members resigned from Anwar’s stronghold in Permatang Pauh to join Umno. Among them were the Guar Jering branch deputy Youth chief Fakhrul Che Umar and treasurer Hesabudin Md Isa.
Bernama reported Tan as saying that he regretted the attitude of the PKR leadership that was willing to sacrifice the integrity and principles of the party purely to ensure that their aspirations were achieved.
"In fact, they are willing to 'close their eyes' to the problem faced by the Penang PKR due to (Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng's arrogance.
"I don't understand why the Penang PKR leadership is so subservient to Lim to the extent that it is willing to cover up all his weaknesses," he said, reading a five-page statement at a press conference, here Monday.
Tan, who also announced that he was resigning from all posts in the party and becoming an Independent Member of Parliament, said that he was not prepared to bow to Lim's dictatorial attitude and work style because the DAP secretary-general's arrogance was excessive and he treated the PKR elected representatives badly.
"He likes to politicise petty issues and totally cannot accept criticisms and tries to turn the Penang government into his family property.
"Unfortunately, many choose to keep quiet and become 'yes men', no one dares to join me in stating the truth," said Tan, who was accompanied by his staunch supporter, Datuk Salahuddin Hashim, the former PKR secretary-general.
Tan also plans to take legal action against Lim, the Member of Parliament for Jelutong Jeff Ooi and Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy who said that Tan was interfering in the award of open tenders.
"I had taken the initiative to be present at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office to lodge a report on the slander. I believe that is sufficient to prove to the people of my transparency.
"On the other hand, Jeff Ooi's and Ramasamy's cowardice in refusing to be present at the MACC office shows their true colour to the people. Their dirty tactics were meant to assassinate my character," he said.
Tan said the decision to leave the party was also due to the absence of a specific channel in the PKR to attend to problems and what had transpired showed that the party leadership did not tolerate criticism.
"They not only failed to resolve problems, they imposed disciplinary action against me without investigating the complaints that I had made. In fact, they warned me not to criticise openly. This is most unfair," he said.
He said the PKR and the Pakatan Rakyat (Opposition Pact) would not bring any changes like they promised, and he regretted that no clear action was taken by PKR adviser and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to address the internal problems faced by the PKR and the opposition pact.
Although he had now become an Independent Member of Parliament without siding any party, Tan hoped he could prove to the people of Nibong Tebal that his action would bring them benefits.
"The people should not become victims of political differences. I'm not prepared to see the people of Nibong Tebal being deprived of development and allow their aspirations to be ignored," he said.
He also requested the federal government to accord fair and equitable treatment by channelling development allocations to his constituency so that he could discharge his duty more effectively and efficiently to assist the people who were in dire need.
Meanwhile, Salahuddin said he expected more than 10 elected representatives from the PKR to leave the party after this, but declined further comment.
On Feb 12, Bayan Baru Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim announced that he was leaving the PKR with immediate effect as he was disappointed with Lim's leadership as well as the PKR's struggles in the Opposition Pact.