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Emperor expresses WWII ‘remorse’

TOKYO — Japan’s Emperor Akihito yesterday expressed “deep remorse” about his nation’s wartime acts, as Tokyo marked the 73rd anniversary of the end of World War II.

The carefully choreographed annual ceremony is the last Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko will attend before the emperor abdicates in April.

“Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated,” the 84-year-old monarch said in a televised address.

“Together with all of our people, I now pay my heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives in the war, both on the battlefields and elsewhere, and pray for world peace and for the continuing development of our country.”

It was Akihito’s father, war-time emperor Hirohito, who announced his decision to surrender in a radio address on
Aug 15, 1945.

Japan signed documents officially formalising the surrender on Sept 2, 1945.

Though he has no political power, Emperor Akihito has hinted throughout his reign at pacifist views, sharply at odds with the aggressive expansionism Japan pursued under his father’s rule.

He has annoyed Japanese right-wingers by acknowledging that his country inflicted “great suffering” in China, and expressing regret over Japan’s brutal rule of the Korean peninsula.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the ceremony, pledging to remember war dead while building a peaceful future.

“Never again will we repeat the devastation of war. Humbly facing history, we shall stand firm on this pledge,” he said, avoiding any specific expression of regret.

Abe has been criticised for what some see as a revisionist attitude to Japan’s wartime record, though he has softened his rhetoric as he works to improve ties with Beijing.

In recent years, he has avoided visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine that honours Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals, offering a ritual cash donation instead.

Previous visits by Abe and other senior Japanese politicians have angered China and other Asian neighbours.

Yasukuni honours some 2.5 million people, mostly Japanese, who perished in the country’s wars since the late 19th century. It also enshrines senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes by an international tribunal after World War II.

Abe last visited in December 2013 to mark his first year in power, sparking fury in Beijing and Seoul and earning a diplomatic rebuke from close ally the United States. — AFP

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Uproar as politician praises White Australia policy

SYDNEY — An Australian politician was widely condemned yesterday after demanding “a final solution” to immigration and calling for a return to the White Australia policy which favoured “European Christians”.

Queensland senator Fraser Anning stunned lawmakers when he invoked during his maiden speech the infamous Nazi phrase used under Adolf Hitler in reference to annihilating Jewish people from Europe.

He also sparked widespread opposition by calling for a ban on Muslim migrants and defending the race-based White Australia immigration policy which was in place for seven decades from 1901.

“We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society,” Anning, formerly of the populist One Nation Party and now with the Katter Australian Party, told the upper house Senate on Tuesday.

“Those who come here need to assimilate and integrate.”

The Queenslander called for migration numbers to be slashed, and a ban on Muslims, justifying his call by saying they had “consistently shown to be the least able to assimilate and integrate”.

Immigration remains a hot button issue in Australia, amid concern about jobs and overcrowding in major cities.

Data released last month showed migration numbers hit a 10-year low last year, with the annual intake falling by 20,000 to 162,000 as vetting procedures were tightened.

Anning’s comments sparked a backlash from all sides of politics, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who emphasised Australia was one of the most successful multicultural societies in the
world.

“So we reject, we condemn racism in any form, and the remarks by Senator Anning are justly condemned and rejected by us all,” Turnbull said.
— AFP

Elephants wreck car after mishap

KOTA TINGGI — It is said that elephants never forget. Felda worker Mohd Khairul Abdul Karim, 33, found out about this the hard way.

At about 10.30pm on Tuesday, he drove his Toyota Avanza mini MPV into a herd of elephants at Batu 8, Jalan Mawai, while returning home to Taman Sedili after a business meeting in Johor Baru, hitting a leg of one of the elephants.

He had not noticed the animals, three or four of them, on the road as he was driving with his low lights on and the road was dark. He injured his lips, eyelids and left cheek, which needed 20 stitches at the hospital later.

After he knocked the elephant, Mohd Khairul alighted from the vehicle, and in a state of panic he ran into the jungle for fear of being attacked by the herd, but the elephants also disappeared into the jungle.

A married couple who had come along in a Perodua Viva car helped to call an ambulance, he said.

“While waiting for the ambulance, the herd of elephants returned and stomped on my vehicle until the front portion was wrecked and then returned to the jungle,” he said.

Sedili state assemblyman Rasman Ithnain said this was the eighth incident involving elephants in the Sedili area this year. “As a means of addressing the issue, I urge the state government to go ahead with the elephant sanctuary project here to house the mammals roaming the area,” he said. — Bernama

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KL CURRY LAKSA RULES

Popular Malaysian dish gets top marks from tastemakers at travel guide Lonely Planet, ahead of sushi in Tokyo and dim sum in Hong Kong. It only lost out to pintxos in San Sebastián — the tapas of the Spanish Basque country — in the Ultimate Eatlist, which ranked the top 500 gastronomic experiences from around the world.

See Pages 20 & 21

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PM has hard time trusting civil servants

PUTRAJAYA — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he has grown suspicious of some in the civil service as he was facing resistance that had not been there when he was previously the head of the government.

Citing alleged external “incitement”, he said his administration was now more guarded when dealing with the country’s public workers.

“Last time, I had no problem when I was PM. Now as the PM again, due to the incitement from others, we have a problem with trust,” he told at a Town Hall session with administrative and diplomatic officers, here.

He said the current ruling government needs to rebuild the trust by being clean from corruption in order to produce quality future leaders.

“There is no nation that is absolutely free from corruption. There would be corruption, but perhaps only a minority of them are corrupt.

“But when this becomes part of the culture, then it would be difficult to change. How to change when you report to the authorities and they themselves are corrupt as well? When a group of people or country becomes corrupt, then there is no remedy,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also said civil service must be faithful to the government of the day but not to the point of willingness to commit crimes.

He said civil servants are not obliged to follow instructions that violate the rule of law and which lead to criminal offences.

“If a PM instructs you to kill someone else, are you going to kill that person? If you were asked to cover up a crime, that would not be right.

“What is a crime is still a crime even though it was issued by the top leadership,” he said.

Civil servants ‘tortured’ by BN to be reinstated

PUTRAJAYA — The Pakatan Harapan government will reinstate civil servants who were “punished” by the previous administration for dissent against Barisan Nasional, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said his administration would also like to compensate those victimised by such moves, but could not presently afford to do so.

“We would like to defend those who were victimised and ‘tortured’ for not wanting to abide to what was wrong.

“Some had already been defended, but the number is too high and we may have overlooked certain cases. If there are more of them, provide us with the necessary details of the ‘torture’ they faced and the government will act by returning them to their past position or compensating them,” he said.

“But as you all know, the government does not have enough funds to do so, so you would have to wait,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said he himself was “tortured” by the former BN government when he was no longer in power and had openly criticised the previous ruling administration.

He said his allowances were withdrawn and he had also lost friends as a result of opposing the former BN government.

“When we make efforts to fight the wrong, we were tortured and we have to accept what was inflicted upon us.

“I had all my allowances taken away and lost some friends who couldn’t become close to me, if not they would face consequences. But I do not hold anything against them,”
he said.

Dr Mahathir still popular, says study

KUALA LUMPUR — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is enjoying popularity as prime minister among an overwhelming majority of civil servants and also across all ethnic groups, a survey has shown.

Independent pollster Merdeka Centre said its survey earlier this month showed that 71 per cent of voters polled felt “satisfied” with Dr Mahathir’s performance as PM.

“The Prime Minister obtained positive responses from 93 per cent Indians, 83 per cent Chinese, 75 per cent non-Muslim bumiputra, 64 per cent Muslim bumiputra, and 62 per cent Malay voters nationwide.

“It should be noted that he also gained high approval from among civil servants at 81 per cent, and voters under 40 years old at about 73 per cent,” Merdeka Centre said.

The survey was carried out among 1,160 voters during the Aug 7-14 period, with the respondents’ composition reflecting the actual registered voters’ composition in Malaysia.

Out of the 1,160 respondents, 52 per cent were Malay, 29 per cent Chinese, seven per cent Indians, while the bumiputra community from Sabah and Sarawak polled amounted to 12 per cent (six per cent Muslim, six per cent
non-Muslim)..

In Merdeka Centre’s monthly tracking of Dr Mahathir’s approval ratings since the May 9 general election, the overall proportion of respondents satisfied was recorded at 83 per cent at the end of May, before declining to 73 per cent in June, climbing up to 79 per cent in July and again falling to 71 per cent this month.

“The present numbers show a slight decline from the onset of the formation of the new government, indicating dissipating euphoria and the natural friction as expectations encounter reality.

“Nonetheless, the present positive numbers underpin the general satisfaction expressed by voters on the performance of the new government on a number of issues since taking power in May 2018,” said Merdeka Centre, which has been carrying out surveys both before and after the May 9 elections and tracking public approval ratings since late May 2018.

Tomorrow will be the 100th day the PH coalition came into power, and also the 100th day of Dr Mahathir’s return as prime minister after a previous 22-year rule from 1981 to 2003.

Merdeka Centre also said two-thirds of the voters polled as a whole gave the PH federal government positive ratings, basing this on survey results, with support shown by 58 per cent Malay voters, 62 per cent bumiputra voters from Sabah and Sarawak, 79 per cent Chinese voters, and 89 per cent
Indian voters.

According to Merdeka Centre’s survey, a slightly downward trend can be seen with 79 per cent of Malaysians polled “happy” with the federal government as of May 31, before falling to 72 per cent as of July 19, and further declining to 67 per cent as of Aug 11.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Attorney-General Tommy Thomas are currently proving to be highly-divisive choices for the Malay community in terms of approval for their performance.

In the Merdeka Centre survey, Malay voters were almost equally split when asked if they were satisfied with the performance of the two non-Malays.

Of the Malay respondents polled, 44 per cent were satisfied with Lim’s performance as finance minister, while another 42 per cent were dissatisfied.

For Thomas, 37 per cent of Malay voters polled were satisfied with his performance as attorney-general, while 38 per cent were dissatisfied.

The survey was on voters’ satisfaction of the performance of seven ministers and the Attorney-General, with Thomas’s ethnicity and status as a non-Muslim becoming a point of contention among certain segments of the Malay community who had opposed his appointment.

The duo were the two least popular in the survey among Malay respondents.

But on the flip side, Lim and Thomas are among the top three in terms of approval ratings among non-Malays.

Govt committed to public transportation efficiency

KUALA LUMPUR — Putrajaya remains committed to provide efficient public transportation even as it mulls rolling out a third national car, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking said yesterday.

“Encouraging public transportation use does not contradict the possibility of another national car project,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.

He was answering Labuan MP Datuk Rozman Isli, who asked if pursuing another national car project contradicted the government’s aim of encouraging people to use public transportation so as to reduce traffic congestion.

Rozman also asked about the status of the project, which Leiking said was still in the preliminary stages.

“We have not moved past that yet, thus if any decision is made it will be announced by the year’s end,” he said.

This prompted Kuala Terengganu MP Ahmad Amzad Mohamed Hashim to ask if the project could be brought to the east coast of the peninsula if it is realised.

“I actually want to bring it to Sabah and Sarawak, but I will discuss with the relevant ministries on how to proceed if the project is approved,” Leiking said.

ECRL would cost RM1b to operate, says Guan Eng

KUALA LUMPUR — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has estimated the cost of operating the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) at between RM600 million and RM1 billion annually if the mega project were to proceed.

He said the construction cost of the project itself is already very high and it remains a key issue for the federal government in reviewing its viability and feasibility.

“We must bear the potential operating expenditure in mind,” Lim said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was answering Ipoh Timur MP Wong Kah Woh, who asked why the ministry issued a work suspension notice for the project on July 3 to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) via its incorporated company Malaysian Rail Link Sdn Bhd.

Lim also answered a query by Maran MP Datuk Seri Ismail Abdul Muttalib, who asked how the government would compensate residents in the East Coast whose now-frozen land had been acquired for the project, as well as assist the project’s retrenched local employees.

“Regarding the compensation of landowners, we adhere to the Land Acquisition Act 1960. If no payment has been made since the land acquisition was finalised, then the compensation payment will depend on whatever losses were incurred by its owners.

“However, if the compensation has already been paid, then the land belongs to the government, which raises no issues as far as I see,” Lim said.

Lim added that as the employees were not hired by the government but by CCCC, then their compensation must be brought up to and managed by the company.

“Whatever the project’s final decision is, the government is ready to provide assistance if needed for the domestic employees.

“But I must point out that there are more foreign employees than domestic ones,”
he said.

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Move to reopen 1MDB parliamentary probe

KUALA LUMPUR — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng is expected to table a motion in Dewan Rakyat to reopen parliamentary investigations into scandal-tainted sovereign investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) today.

Lim’s motion seeks for the House to agree to the Auditor-General and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) taking over and conducting investigations into 1MDB.

The motion calls for a detailed investigation on the embezzlement of monies and the scandal with regards to 1MDB in order to restore the dignity of the Dewan Rakyat.

“All related information should be made public,” read the motion in yesterday’s order paper.

The previous PAC under the Barisan Nasional administration had cleared Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was then prime minister and finance minister, of any wrongdoing.

The bipartisan committee was made up of mostly then BN lawmakers and led by Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Responding to Lim’s plan, Najib told reporters yesterday any renewed PAC investigation on 1MDB must be motivated by truth and not blame.

He insisted that the previous PAC spent six months on its probe and had cleared him of wrongdoing.

Coincidentally, the Najib administration had recruited Nur Jazlan while PAC was in the middle of its inquiry, promoting him to deputy home minister.

“If they want to reopen investigations, I have nothing to object, as we are looking for the truth.

“So if investigations are reopened, don’t do it with a sentiment of trying to look for faults, now they are the government with the people’s mandate to control the administration,” he said.

Najib further argued that the PAC’s inquiry had been predicated on the Auditor-General’s report on 1MDB.

He pointed out the PAC had comprised lawmakers who were then still in the Opposition.

“It was concluded and endorsed by the PAC that I had not done anything wrong as the prime minister and minister of finance,” he said.

Najib added the Pakatan Harapan government should instead focus attention on nation building.

“They should be sourcing for avenues to produce new ideas and sources of income, ways to move the economy forward and to help the people,” he added.

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