Malaysia Bagus News
Shipment of Chinese hair extensions, accessories suspected made by forced labour is seized by US officials
MEXICO CITY - The US government on Wednesday (July 1) said it blocked an US$800,000 (S$1.1 million) shipment of hair extensions and accessories from China on suspicions that the products were made with forced labour.
The goods were held under a June order against a Xinjiang-based company suspected of using prison labour and forced labour with excessive overtime, withheld wages and restrictions on workers' movements, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said.
The United States bans the import of goods made entirely or in part by forced labour, whether prison work or bonded or forced child labour.
The CBP order dated June 17 called for the detention of goods made by Xinjiang's Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co.
The importers of the detained shipments must prove the merchandise was not produced with forced labour or export it elsewhere, the agency said.
"The use of forced labour is not just a serious human rights issue, but also brings about unfair competition in our global supply chains," said Ms Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of the CBP's Office of Trade, in a statement accompanying the June order.
The autonomous Xinjiang region in north-west China is home to a large population of Muslim Uighur people, an ethnic minority who speak a Turkic language and face repression from the Chinese government.
The United Nations has said it has credible reports that 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in the region.
China denies mistreatment of the Uighurs and says the camps are vocational training centres needed to fight extremism.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the US said in an e-mail that the suspicions of forced labour were an effort to bring down Chinese business.
"The lawful labour rights and interests of the Chinese citizens of all ethnic groups, including those in Xinjiang, are protected by law," the spokesman said.
"The accusation of 'forced labour' in Xinjiang is both false and malicious."
The CBP has been criticised for not enforcing US law against forced labour imports enough, and critics say the agency's forced labour division is understaffed and underfunded.
A CBP spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the agency has been working to develop and expand the division, and that the number of forced labour investigations was rising.
In October, the CBP said it had blocked imports suspected to have been made with forced labour from five countries, including clothing from China and diamonds from Zimbabwe.
The number of forced labour prosecutions is low, so the CBP's orders to halt imports are a powerful tool, said Ms Martina Vandenberg, head of the Washington-based Human Trafficking Legal Centre.
"Criminal justice remedies have failed," she said."Advocates are looking for more innovative and creative tools to combat forced labour in supply chains."
There were just 939 labour trafficking prosecutions around the world in 2019, according to the US State Department's most recent Trafficking in Persons Report.
The CBP can issue a "withhold release order" when it believes goods were made by forced labour, and it has issued 16 of them since March 2016.
The CBP said the blocked imports from Xinjiang, which included long hair extensions, weighed 13 tonnes and were held at a port in Newark, New Jersey.
Lop County Meixin also could not be reached for comment.
Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed legislation calling for sanctions on China over its treatment of Uighurs.
The State Department separately on Wednesday issued an advisory to caution businesses about supply chain links to Xinjiang.
In Britain, lawyers and campaigners are trying to halt imports of cotton goods originating from Xinjiang.
WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent a Bill imposing sanctions on banks that do business with Chinese officials involved in cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The Bill, which is similar but not identical to a measure passed by the Senate last week, would have to be approved by the Senate before going to President Donald Trump for his signature. That likely will come on Thursday (July 2).
The measure is a response to the Chinese government enacting a strict new national security law for Hong Kong, a move many lawmakers said violated the government's promise to honour the autonomy of the former British colony. China described the security law as a "sword of Damocles" hanging over its most strident critics.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, making a special appearance at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday, said the new law "signals the death of the one country, two systems" model followed by China with respect to Hong Kong.
"The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised," Ms Pelosi said.
The legislation passed as the Trump administration is preparing to to roll out long-delayed sanctions to punish senior Chinese officials over human-rights abuses against Muslims in Xinjiang, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The sanctions, under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, were delayed amid negotiations over a US-China trade deal. But tensions between the two largest economies have escalated as Mr Trump blames China for the coronavirus pandemic and members of both parties in Congress move to pressure the Beijing government over trade and human rights.
The two people cautioned that Mr Trump would still have to give a final sign-off for any sanctions to go ahead. In the past, he has delayed or frozen sanctions for fear they would jeopardise trade talks or sour his relationship with other leaders such as China's President Xi Jinping.
The House Bill, which was slightly modified from the Senate version sponsored by Senators Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, was changed because of a procedural snag that requires all revenue-producing Bills to originate in the House.
Separately, Republicans successfully added a provision to the House Democrats' US$1.5 trillion infrastructure bill on Wednesday that would bar funds from flowing to Chinese companies associated with Uighur concentration camps in Xinjiang, Democratic leaders urged the party's lawmakers to vote against Republican procedural amendments, but three dozen of the most vulnerable swing district members broke ranks to endorse it.
The House Democrats' US$1.5 trillion (S$2.1 trillion) Bill, which does not have a plan to fund the spending, has been declared dead on arrival in the Republican Senate, so the Uighur amendment is mostly symbolic. Still, it is the seventh time Ms Pelosi was not able to stop her members from defecting on a Republican motion during this Congress.
A Malaysian woman begged her husband to cancel his fishing trip with friends to catch cuttlefish but he refused and died when his boat sank.
"I pleaded with him not to go, but he insisted as they had planned the trip a week before," said Rosmaliza Rosdin, whose husband Mohd Syafizan Daud, 43, was one of four victims of the Monday night tragedy.
The boat carrying 20 people including the skipper and crew, aged between 18 and 60 years, went down in a storm near Kemasin, in Malaysia.
A search and rescue operation is under way for the missing anglers.
Rosmaliza, 42, said the last she heard from her husband was at 7.35pm on the day of the sinking.
"He told me that he would be back by noon the following day as I saw him off," said Rosmaliza, from Kelantan, northeast Malaysia.
The nurse said she also went for a check-up at Hospital Lati, where she works, due to anxiety before she knew about her husband's death.
"At that time, the doctor said I was fine," she said. "But it turned out to be a premonition of his death."
PETALING JAYA - As the deadlock for Pakatan Harapan’s choice of Prime Minister continues, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says again that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is not a suitable candidate because the PKR president is not popular with the Malays.
Dr Mahathir said this during an interview with reporters to a question on why he would not hand down the reins to Anwar despite saying otherwise in 2019.
“Well, he is not very popular with the Malays. Now, it has been shown that the support of the Malays is very important for any party to win the election.
“Because he is not popular, being the leader of a multiracial party, he needs somebody who’s the leader of the Malays to win this election.
“With myself as candidate for prime minister, I think we would get the support of the Malays,” said Dr Mahathir in the interview published on Wednesday (June 1).
Dr Mahathir said in the past three general elections, Anwar had failed to get Malay votes.
“It was only when I joined we managed to win. And this is an achievement, because for 60 years, the government has been the same party.
“This was the first time that change was achieved,” he said.
Dr Mahathir and Anwar's factions are now embroiled in a standoff over Pakatan’s choice for Prime Minister.
On Tuesday (June 30), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) communications director Khalid Abdul Samad had said that Parti Warisan Sabah chief Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal's candidacy as Pakatan’s prime minister was set to be deliberated by the coalition’s presidential council at the soonest available time.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also said that Pakatan’s choice for prime minister must have the consensus of all its coalition partners.
The headcount of MPs in PKR stood at 39, DAP at 42, Amanah at 11.
Dr Mahathir has the support of four former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) MPs and nine Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) MPs led by Shafie Apdal.
He had recently proposed Shafie’s name to be prime minister in bid to end the deadlock and to garner support from MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.
However, that proposal was not only criticised by factions aligned to Anwar but Opposition MPs from Sabah and Sarawak as well.
Shafie had said that while he was grateful for being named, he needed to consult his party colleagues first.
PETALING JAYA - The government has banned the printing, publishing, and sale of the controversial book titled, Rebirth: Reform, Resistance, And Hope in New Malaysia, which came under fire for allegedly insulting the national coat of arms.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin in a federal gazette published on Wednesday (July 1) exercised his powers conferred by subsection 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 to ban the book.
"This order may be cited as the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of undesirable Publications) Order 2020," the gazette stated.
It also prohibits the printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution or possession of the publication described in the Schedule which
is likely to be prejudicial to public order, which is likely to be prejudicial to security, which is likely to alarm public opinion, which is likely to be contrary to any law and which is likely to be prejudicial to national interest is absolutely prohibited throughout Malaysia.
It was reported that the book publisher, Chong Ton Sin, had apologised and said that he had no intention of insulting or ridiculing the national coat of arms when it was used on the cover of a book recently.
Hamzah had also instructed police to investigate anyone who insults the national coat of arms.
On Sunday (June 28), Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki had called for the Home Ministry to take action against the author, publisher and editor of the book, which insulted the Jata Negara.
In a Facebook post, Asyraf had said the book should be banned as the image on the cover bears a resemblance to the national coat of arms but features a naked child flanked by two tigers with humanoid faces stepping on a crocodile.
WASHINGTON - A top US health expert warned Congress on Tuesday (June 30) that new coronavirus cases could more than double to 100,000 per day if authorities and the public fail to take steps to suppress the pandemic.
Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, a leading member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said the United States was headed in the "wrong direction" on the pandemic and demanded that Americans wear masks and avoid crowds after lax behaviour propelled new outbreaks.
"I'm very concerned and I'm not satisfied with what's going on, because we're going in the wrong direction," he testified to a Senate panel.
Alarming spikes in new cases in southern hotspots Texas and Florida are driving the daily national total of new cases to over 40,000 per day, and they need to be tamped down quickly to avoid dangerous surges elsewhere in the country, Fauci stressed.
"Clearly we are not in total control right now," he said adding: "I would not be surprised if it goes up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around."
The dire messaging reinforced concerns about the US ability to rein in a pandemic that has claimed some 126,000 American lives.
The testimony comes as the United States, the world's hardest-hit nation, with more than 2.6 million infections, was left off the list of 15 countries to which the European Union will open its borders from July 1, and as it grapples with how to assure a safe reopening of schools in the coming months.
Fauci said he believed some states are "skipping over some of the checkpoints" that assure safe reopenings of business and public spaces.
And he also offered a blunt message to the nation's young adults who have engaged in "dangerous" behaviour including congregating in bars, not wearing masks, and not following social distancing guidelines.
"I think we need to emphasise the responsibility that we have, both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic, that we all have to play a part in that," Fauci said.
TRUMP TOLD 'WEAR A MASK'
The head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, sounded the alarm about rising trajectories in several jurisdictions, including Covid-19 hospitalisations rising in 12 states, and said it was "critical" that every American takes personal responsibility and "embraces the use of face coverings."
But the chairman of the panel, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, also pointed the finger at Trump, saying the president had the power to end politicisation of mask-wearing that suggests "if you're for Trump, you don't wear a mask. If you're against Trump, you do."
"That's why I've suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask," Alexander said.
"The president has plenty of admirers, they would follow his lead," he added.
"It would help end this political debate."
Trump, who refuses to wear a mask at public events and in the past has mocked his rivals for wearing them, has signalled he wants to move on from the coronavirus crisis and focus on his re-election campaign.
Democrats including his November election rival Joe Biden have savaged the president for lack of leadership on pandemic mitigation.
Tuesday's hearing focused in part on whether the United States can adequately prepare for tens of millions of children returning to school in the coming months despite the resilient pandemic raging in some states.
The American Academy of Paediatrics has advocated that the coming school year begin with students physically present in schools, arguing that children are less likely to become symptomatic or severely ill with coronavirus than adults.
Fauci himself said he feels "very strongly we need to do whatever we can to get our children back to school."
He also said he was "cautiously optimistic" that a vaccine could be ready by the end of the year or early 2021.
BRUSSELS/TOKYO - China's passage of a national security law for Hong Kong drew international condemnation on Tuesday (June 30), with the United States and its Asian and Western allies criticising a move that heralds a more authoritarian era for the former British colony.
The law punishes crimes of secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison in Hong Kong, which was guaranteed freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland under a "one country, two systems" formula at its 1997 handover.
"As Beijing now treats Hong Kong as 'One Country, One System,' so must the United States," White House National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement.
"We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course.
"The United States will continue to take strong actions against those who smothered Hong Kong's freedom and autonomy."
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for sanctions and other steps against China, saying the "brutal" law would"frighten, intimidate and suppress" those peacefully seeking freedom.
China says the law is necessary to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces following anti-government protests that escalated in June last year and plunged the city into its biggest crisis in decades.
But British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the legislation a "grave step", saying China had chosen to break its promises to the people of Hong Kong.
Britain will not turn its back on its commitments to Hong Kong, he tweeted.
Britain and some two dozen Western countries urged China to reconsider the law, saying Beijing must preserve the right to assembly and free press in the former British colony.
"We wish to raise our deep concerns at the imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong which undermines 'One Country, Two Systems', and has clear implications for human rights," Julian Braithwaite, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council.
Braithwaite spoke on behalf of 27 countries, many of them European Union members, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the law will not affect Hong Kong's rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.
Despite such the assurances, the European Union has warned of serious consequences over the law, which democracy activists, diplomats and some businesses say will jeopardise Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status and its role as a global financial hub.
The EU underlined those concerns on Tuesday.
"We deplore the decision," EU Council President Charles Michel told a news conference.
"This law risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law."
Last week, the European Parliament urged the bloc to take China to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the United Nations' highest legal body, if it went ahead.
In Tokyo, top government officials called the legislation "regrettable", saying it undermined credibility in the "one country, two systems" formula.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters he shared the "deep concern" of the international community and the people of Hong Kong over the measure.
Taiwan's Cabinet said the new law would "severely impact"freedom, democracy and human rights and Taiwan would continue to offer help to people in Hong Kong.
Last year's protests drew wide sympathy in democratic and Chinese-claimed Taiwan, which has welcomed people from Hong Kong who have moved to the island and expects more.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she was "very disappointed" by China's move, adding that it showed the "one country, two systems" formula, which Beijing has mooted as a basis for unification with the mainland, "was not feasible".
Defending the law, Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, urged the international community to respect China's right to safeguard security.
In a video message to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Lam said the city of 7.5 million had been "traumatised by escalating violence fanned by external forces".
"No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security, as well as risks of subversion of state power," she said.
PETALING JAYA - Scores of Singaporeans are in favour of opening the border with Malaysia to facilitate activities between both countries, a survey shows.
A survey by YouGov Omnibus revealed that 63per cent of the 1,123 Malaysians and Singaporeans surveyed were of the opinion that the border should reopen but only 35per cent of the Malaysians supported the idea.
Many who took part in the poll believed that several measures should be implemented when travel restrictions between Singapore and Malaysia are relaxed.
The survey found that 76per cent of those polled wanted temperature checks to be taken before crossing the border.
Another 72per cent felt that declaration of symptoms should be done before passing the border.
It also revealed that 65per cent wanted contact tracing measures in place while 58per cent believed swab tests should be conducted one week prior to making the crossing.
About 55per cent of those polled also said citizens of both countries must observe a 14-day quarantine period and another 52per cent said the same should be done upon returning to their respective nations.
On June 19, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysia was having talks with Singapore to reopen the border to citizens of both countries.
He said Singaporeans could enter the country without getting prior approval from the Immigration Department or to undergo Covid-19 screening and home quarantine.
However, the Senior Minister said this was on condition that Malaysians would also be accorded the same privileges by the Singaporean government.
On Friday (June 26), the prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore agreed that the reopening of the border should be done carefully following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said his counterpart agreed that the reopening of the countries' border should be done carefully and in accordance with certain health guidelines and protocols to regenerate the economic and tourism sectors, which would benefit both countries.
GEORGE TOWN - The world’s longest water slide at Escape Theme Park in Teluk Bahang is all ready to welcome thrill seekers again.
Spanning 1,111m and certified by Guinness World Records, the slide takes one down through 20 turns and five loops from the forested land located 70m from the ground, or the height of a 23-storey building, before ending at the park’s swimming pool some 600m away.
The slide will be among 40 attractions in the park to reopen for rides after the government announced that theme parks will be allowed to reopen their doors in July.
The park’s CEO Sim Choo Kheng said visitors could expect more trees and larger plants around the park after the three-month closure and that the workers had given the place a thorough clean-up.
Only 1,000 visitors are allowed into the park at any one time to ensure social distancing.
PETALING JAYA - A senior citizen lost her life savings of almost RM4 million (S$1.3 million) after she was duped into believing she was an accomplice in a money-laundering syndicate.
Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Nik Ezanee Mohd Faisal said the 90-year-old retiree had deposited RM3.83 million of her life savings into seven bank accounts between April 20 and June 15 after receiving a call telling her that there was a package with her name sent from Perak to Sabah.
He said the victim was told that her MyKad and ATM card details were on the package and the caller then connected her to two others claiming to be police officers from the Perak police headquarters.
He said the two, who identified themselves as "Sgt Ho Mum Foo" and "Insp Herman Lee", said they were attached to the Commercial Crimes Investigations Department in Perak.
They also claimed that a former bank employee, whom they said had been arrested, had used her details in a money-laundering syndicate.
"The callers then told the victim that police would detain her for 45 days if she told anyone about the case," he said.
Frightened by the threats, the retiree then transferred her money to the accounts provided by the scammers.
ACP Nik Ezanee said police are actively tracing the suspects and advised the public not to easily believe such threats.
"The scammers are now targeting senior citizens who may not be wise to their tactics and tricks.
"Please call the police if you receive such calls," he said.