Jet engine stolen
Air force personnel stole a Malaysian fighter jet engine from a military warehouse to sell it on the black market abroad, news reports said yesterday. The security breach occurred more than a year ago while the engine was undergoing repairs, but only became public knowledge when the New Straits Times newspaper reported it on Saturday, citing information from unidentified officials. Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said authorities were compiling evidence to prosecute those involved, including several low-ranking air force personnel and civilians, the national news agency Bernama and the Star newspaper reported. An “international company” based in Latin America bought the 50 million ringgit (US$14 million) engine “because the price was cheap,” Ahmad Zahid said. The engine, used for single-seat fighter and reconnaissance jets, is believed to have eventually ended up with a final purchaser in the Middle East, the New Straits Times said.
Transsexual queen crowned
More than 100 hopefuls vied on Saturday for the title of most beautiful transsexual at the country’s first such pageant for members of the marginalized community, an organizer said. The event in the southern city of Chennai was unique in a country where transsexuals live on the fringes of society, drawing 120 contenders between the ages of 20 and 35 from across India, a spokesman said. Kareena, a 25-year-old model from Mumbai walked away with top honors, while 23-year-old Romi, a beautician from the northeastern state of Manipur, was second. The pageant is the latest in a series of recent attempts to break down barriers. Last month, eunuchs — men who have been castrated — claimed victory in a long-standing campaign to be listed as “others,” distinct from males and females, on electoral rolls and voter identity cards.
WWII sunken ship located
A hospital ship torpedoed by the Japanese during World War II with the loss of 268 lives has been located in waters off the coast of the northern state of Queensland, the government said yesterday. The loss of the Centaur in 1943 while sailing to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea was one of the nation’s great wartime disasters. Survivors and their relatives have long pressed for the wreck to be found, fearing salvagers would reach it first. Yesterday, it said the wreck’s location had been confirmed by a team led by US marine search expert David Mearns, whose other finds include HMAS Sydney, another wartime wreck. The wreck was finally found in an underwater gully, close to the site indicated at the time by the ship’s navigator, one of 64 on board who survived.
Wildlife authorities said they have rescued 130 pangolins and arrested two men attempting to smuggle the protected species, destined to be sold to restaurants and medicine shops. Officials from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks said the two men were detained at a cemetery in central Pahang state, national news agency Bernama said late on Saturday. “The cemetery is believed to be the transit point before the animals are taken to [southern state] Johor and illegally exported to China, Japan and Hong Kong,” state department head Khairiah Mohamad Shariff told Bernama. He added the 130 pangolins seized were worth 40,000 ringgit (US$11,500). Marine police on Thursday rescued 62 pangolins.