Malaysia rejected the use of foreign forces in fighting terror threats in Southeast Asia yesterday, saying their presence could trigger a radical backlash among the region's mostly moderate Muslim community. \nBut Malaysian Defense Minister Najib Razak told a security forum in Singapore that his country was open to discussions with the US and other nations on expanding cooperation in intelligence sharing and surveillance. \n"What we should avoid is the presence of foreign forces in Southeast Asia, not because we distrust those from outside the region, but because a foreign military presence will set us back in our ideological battle against extremism and militancy," Najib said. \n"The lessons of Iraq should be clear to us: ill-prepared liberators do make mistakes and the failure of good intentions can cause great damage to social and political stability." \nWashington is expected to begin negotiations this month with Asian nations on a formal plan to enhance security efforts in the region, dubbed the Regional Maritime Security Initiative. \nNajib said he would be holding talks with Admiral Thomas Fargo, the head of the US Pacific Command, on the proposal in Malaysia before the end of the month. \nWidely reported comments in March that US special forces or the Marines could be used a part of efforts to enhance security in the busy Malacca Strait had provoked open opposition from both Malaysia and Indonesia, which straddle the key waterway. \nMore than 50,000 commercial vessels travel the 805km channel each year, carrying about a third of the world's trade and 80 percent of Japan's oil needs. \nThe wealthy city state of Singapore, home to one of the world's busiest ports, has long urged nations that benefit from the trade in the Strait to play a greater role in improving security. \n"No country can defeat terrorism by itself," Singapore's coordinating minister for security and defense, Tony Tan, told the forum, which is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London. \nIn a bid to smooth ruffled diplomatic feathers in the wake of the strong reaction to early reports of the plan, US officials used this weekend's forum to play down any military involvement and make clear it would only be at the request of the countries concerned. \nAdmiral Walter Doran, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said on the sidelines of the forum the American plan does not involve the presence of additional outside troops such as US elite forces, nor the setting up of any bases. \nA summary of a closed-door dialogue yesterday attended by representatives of about 20 countries, including the US, said there was agreement on the need to strengthen and improve security in the Strait of Malacca. \n"Indonesia recognized the legitimate interests of other countries in the safety and security of the Straits and was willing to accommodate and engage them," the summary said. \nTwo suggestions were floated to improve regional cooperation. One called for the enlargement of an existing forum called the Malacca Straits Security Board. A second idea proposed by Indonesia is for an ASEAN Maritime Security Cooperation forum.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference