NRA experts received grants
Four out of the six members of a government team drafting new safety standards for nuclear reactors have received thousands in grants from the nuclear industry, a report said late on Saturday. The four experts have received between ￥3 million (US$37,000) and ￥27 million each in grants, donations and compensation in the past three to four years, Kyodo News reported, citing data disclosed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). The NRA said the members “have been selected in line with rules, and there should be no problem,” shrugging off concerns that judgments could be swayed, the report said. The NRA requires experts to disclose remuneration and donations, but has no rules for disqualifying them in light of such information, it said.
Aquino to raise island spat
President Benigno Aquino III yesterday said the country would raise overlapping claims to the South China Sea during a summit of Asian and European leaders in Laos this week. Aquino said he expects to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of the EU, Poland, Switzerland, Norway and Italy during the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting beginning in Laos today. Among other issues, the leaders were expected to talk about increasing economic cooperation and seek ways to limit the impact of fiscal crises hobbling some European nations, he said. Aquino added the country would seek “suggestions on ways to craft a just and peaceful agreement on the West Philippine Sea.” Manila refers to the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.
Aussie defense chief to visit
Secretary of Defense Voltaire Gazmin yesterday said Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith plans to visit early next year to discuss ways to bolster security cooperation and the entry of Australian forces for military exercises under a new pact. The Senate in July ratified an accord that would allow Australian troops to train in combat exercises with Philippine forces in the country. It was a long-delayed pact that got backing from lawmakers alarmed by Manila’s recent territorial spats with Beijing. Gazmin said that he and Smith would discuss how to enhance joint exercises, including those that would help their forces better deal with natural disasters, terrorism and other threats. Washington is the only other country with a similar visiting forces agreement with the Philippines.
Man arrested for sedition
Police have arrested a 27-year-old quantity surveyor for allegedly posting seditious remarks on Facebook about the royal family of Johor, a southern state, his brother said yesterday. Ahmad Abd Jalil was arrested in Kuala Lumpur on Friday night and handed to police in Johor, where he may have to beg forgiveness from the sultan, his brother said. The government has said it plans to repeal the controversial Sedition Act, which has previously been justified as necessary to curb racial conflict. However, authorities have continued to invoke the act, under which those found guilty can be jailed, and Ahmad’s arrest is at least the third in two years related to the Johor royal house. Ahmad’s lawyer, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, told reporters he had not been allowed to meet any family members or lawyers since being brought to Johor. “The alleged crime happened here so there is no reason to take him to Johor. They should just take his statement and let him go, this is not a violent crime,” she said.