Delhi’s ex-women’s minister arrested on rape charge

NEW DELHI — The former women’s minister of the Indian capital — who was sacked over a “sex tape” — has now been arrested following a claim by a woman shown in the tape that he raped her, an investigator said yesterday.

Sandeep Kumar was arrested on Saturday, days after he was dismissed as women’s and children’s minister of the region covering Delhi following the video leak to television channels which showed him kissing two women.

“He was arrested on a complaint filed by one of the women seen in the video. She has alleged Kumar raped her. The investigations have just started,” Vikramjit Singh, deputy police commissioner of Delhi, said.

The married woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in her complaint to police that Kumar spiked her drink with sedatives before sexually assaulting her last year at his residence, the officer said.

She alleged the minister had promised her a job and help in securing a government benefits card.

Vikramjit said the second woman seen in the video has yet to be identified and efforts are being made to contact her for her testimony.

The nine-minute video was sent late on Wednesday to a local news channel and to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who immediately sacked him from his cabinet.

Only snippets of the “sex tape” were aired on the channel, showing Kumar on a bed wearing only shorts and kissing one of the women. A set of photographs allegedly show him kissing another woman.

Local media reports say portions of the video show Kumar having sex with one of the women.

Kumar, a married father of one, has denied the allegations. He says the tape was fabricated and a political conspiracy to tarnish his image.

Delhi’s ruling Aam Admi Party (AAP), led by anti-corruption campigner Kejriwal, routed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in last year’s elections in the capital. But it has been hit by a series of controversies involving its legislators.

Thirteen of its legislators have been charged with various crimes, including rape, attempted murder and corruption since winning the elections in Februarylast year.

A former minister has been arrested for allegedly faking his law degree last year and another was held on corruption charges.

Nine nabbed in goldsmith robbery

PUTRAJAYA — Police have detained nine men believed to be linked to a RM30,000 goldsmith robbery here and are on the lookout for a 10th suspect.

The gang, aged in their 20s to 30s, included three suspects whom police believe pulled off the robbery, two people who purchase stolen goods, the owner of a motorcycle abandoned at the scene, and those who had melted the gold for sale.

District police chief ACP Rosly Hassan said the suspects were nabbed in a series of raids conducted in Selangor and Negri Sembilan over the past two weeks.

Rosly said the mastermind, in his 30s, was in police custody.

Police recovered RM19,439, believed to have been proceeds from the sale of the loot, and gold bars and coins.

“They would hand over the goods they stole to another party who would melt down the gold,” said Rosly.

“They disposed off stolen jewellery for RM25,000, and the gang members each earned between RM4,000 and RM5,000.”

Investigations revealed the suspects used their ill-gotten gains to purchase watches, as well as to pay debts owed to a loan shark, and medical bills.

“We found a RM200 medical receipt for one of the suspect’s child. We believe they also used the money to repay RM1,100 to a moneylender,” he said.

Police also seized a Toyota Alphard, a motorcycle and several mobile phones.

On Aug 14, three men entered the goldsmith at about 2pm on the pretext of of buying jewellery. They blinded the staff with pepper spray before smashing the display cases with hammers.

They emptied several trays of jewellery and fled via the rear entrance. They made their getaway using a Toyota Alphard driven by an accomplice.


Joining forces to fight cross-border crimes

JOHOR BARU — An agreement to combat cross-border crimes will be signed by the Malaysian and the Philippine police.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the agreement would see both parties join forces to exchange intelligence and fight crime.

“This is the result of the open attitude of the current government of the Philippines to fight cross-border crimes. They have also expedited the process of the agreement,” he told reporters yesterday.

Earlier, Nur Jazlan officiated a “Seed Entrepreneurs Transformation Initiative” forum organised by the Special Secretariat for Empowerment of Indian wEntrepreneurs (SEED) at the Taman Universiti Community Hall in Skudai.

Present was Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Tan Sri Kenneth Eswaran.

Nur Jazlan lauded the proactive attitude of the Philippine government in curbing activities of militant groups such as Abu Sayyaf.

He also said this latest development would assist the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) in stepping up patrols.

“Security efforts in east Sabah have been well-received by the Philippine government,” he said.

“Previously, these efforts were limited and mostly conducted on land in east Sabah.

“The Philippine government is proactive in its efforts to curb criminal activities and increasing patrols along the borders. This would help Esscom perform their duties comprehensively.”

Esscom commander Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said the command was prepared to face any possibility following the announcement by the Philippine government to destroy terror groups, such as Abu Sayyaf, in the islands.
— Bernama

Hunt for suspects in RM94,000 

BUKIT MERTAJAM — Police have launched a manhunt for four suspects involved in a robbery in Sungai Rambai on Thursday.

In the 3.45pm incident, two men, a contractor and his employee, aged 48 and 28, had walked out of a bank after withdrawing RM94,000.

A car pulled up nearby and four men wearing masks, one armed with a parang, rushed out and chased the victims down an alley.

The victims fell during the pursuit. One of the robbers grabbed the contractor’s sling bag containing the money and fled the scene.

State Criminal Investigations Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Razarudin Husain @ Abdul Rasid told Malay Mail yesterday police have recorded statements from the victims and had viewed the close-circuit television camera footage.

“We believe the group had been planning and observing the location before robbing the suspects,” he said.

The case is being investigated under Section 395 and 397 of the Penal Code for armed gang robbery.

In an unrelated incident, a man alerted the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) officers about a decomposed body found floating about 1.5 nautical miles from Teluk Bahang beach yesterday morning.

MMEA’s Deputy Director of Operations Commander Maritime Azman Samsudin said his agency received the call at about 11.15am.

“The body was located and sent to Penang Hospital. The gender could not be ascertained due to the advanced stage of decomposition, nor were there any identification documents found.”

Trio held for trespassing Sultan’s land

JOHOR BARU — Three men were detained for trespassing on land belonging to the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, and illegally panning for gold in Jemaluang, Mersing, on Saturday.

Johor police chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd said the three suspects, aged between 29 and 36, were detained at about 11.50am.

Also seized were a water pump, pan, hoe and shovel.

“This is a serious offence and I advise the public not to trespass or illegally pan for gold as these activities could be dangerous to them as well as pollute the environment,” said Wan Ahmad Najmuddin.

He said the three men were under remand. — Bernama

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Pope declares 
Mother Teresa a saint

VATICAN CITY — Mother Teresa, the nun whose work with the dying and destitute of Kolkata made her a global icon of Christian charity, was made a saint yesterday.

Her elevation to Roman Catholicism’s celestial pantheon came in a canonisation mass in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican which was presided over by Pope Francis in the presence of 100,000 pilgrims.

“For the honour of the Blessed Trinity … we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint and we enrol her among the Saints, decreeing she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” the pontiff said in Latin.

The ceremony came a day before the 19th anniversary of Teresa’s death in Kolkata, the Indian city where she spent nearly four decades tending to the poorest of the poor.

With the 16th century basilica of St Peter’s and an azure sky providing the backdrop, the faithful basked in the late summer sun as Francis presided over a ritual mass that has barely changed for centuries.

Such was the demand from pilgrims, the Vatican could easily have issued double the number of tickets but for space and security restrictions.

Helicopters had earlier buzzed over the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church, testifying to the huge but relatively discreet security operation under way. Some 3,000 officers were on duty to ensure the day passed off peacefully.

Among the assembled crowd were some 1,500 poor people looked after by the Italian branches of Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity.

After the mass, they were to be Francis’s guests at the Vatican for a giant pizza lunch served by 250 sisters and 50 male members of the order.

Teresa spent all her adult life in India, first teaching, then tending to the dying poor.

It was in the latter role, at the head of her now worldwide order that Teresa became one of the most famous women on the planet.

Born to Kosovan Albanian parents in Skopje — then part of the Ottoman empire, now the capital of Macedonia — she won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and was revered around the world as a beacon for the Christian values of self-sacrifice and charity.

But she was also regarded with scorn by secular critics who accused her of being more concerned with evangelism than with improving the lot of the poor.

The debate over the nun’s legacy has continued after her death, with researchers uncovering financial irregularities in the running of her order and evidence mounting of patient neglect, insalubrious conditions and questionable conversions of the vulnerable in her missions.

Sceptics were absent from the Vatican Sunday however as Francis prepared to pay homage to a woman he sees as the embodiment of his vision of a “poor church for the poor”.

By historical standards, Teresa has been fast-tracked to sainthood, thanks largely to one of the few people to have achieved canonisation faster, John Paul II.

The Polish cleric was a personal friend of Teresa and as the pope at the time of her death, he was responsible for her being beatified in 2003.

Achieving sainthood requires the Vatican to approve accounts of two miracles occurring as a result of prayers for Teresa’s intercession.

The first one, ratified in 2002, was of an Indian woman, Monica Besra, who says she recovered from ovarian cancer a year after Teresa’s death — something local health officials have put down to medical advances rather than the power of prayer.

In the second, approved last year, Brazilian Marcilio Haddad Andrino says his wife’s prayers to Teresa led to brain tumours disappearing. Andrino and his wife Fernanda were in the congregation yesterday.

Many Indians have made the trip to Rome, among them Kiran Kakumanu, 40, who was blessed by Teresa when he was a baby and grew up to become a priest.

Abraham, an Indian expatriate in London, said Teresa’s life had set a unique example to the world.

“She practised Christianity. The majority of Christians only spend their time talking about it.” — AFP

In Kolkata, songs, celebrations for ‘Saint of Gutters’

KOLKATA — Singing nuns and followers clutching flowers flocked to Mother Teresa’s tomb in the Indian city of Kolkata to celebrate her proclamation as a saint yesterday.

People started gathering from early morning at Mother House in Kolkata for a special mass for the “Saint of the Gutters”.

They placed candles and flowers on her tomb in sombre contemplation, but the atmosphere at the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, the order Teresa founded, was also one of celebration.

Nuns were singing songs honouring her and giant television screens have been erected so the gathering visitors can watch the ceremony.

“It’s a day of rejoicing, a day of gratitude and a day of many, many blessings,” senior sister Mary Lysa said.

“The Missionaries of Charity has decided to turn this into a celebration to further Mother’s cause serving the poorest of the poor and the dying and sick.

“We will gather to witness the entire process at Vatican City as it unfolds,” she said.

Teresa rose to fame in the eastern Indian city, where she devoted her life to helping the destitute and the sick in its teeming slums.

Lighting a candle and placing it on the tomb, Konica Cecilia said the beloved nun had given her impoverished parents money to help them send her to school as a child.

“I was fortunate to meet Mother. She was a living saint and an inspiration to me,” the 32-year-old said.

“My memories of her comfort me when I am in trouble.”

The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s path to canonisation was sealed after the Vatican last year recognised the second of two required miracles, following her death.

But she had long been regarded as a living saint by many.

English literature teacher Madhura Banerjee described her as an inspiration to the younger generation in today’s modern world.

“I was touched by her simplicity,” said Banerjee, who visited Teresa in 1995 at the headquarters to celebrate her own birthday. — AFP


Being in debt can be ‘good thing’

KUALA LUMPUR — Your household income has risen but so has your borrowing to pay for a house you bought a while ago. It feels like you are living on a thinner wallet these days.

If you are getting anxiety attacks over your financial future, relax a little. Economists contacted by Malay Mail Online said while recent reports showing increases in both the average household income and debt may look scary, it also shows Malaysians might be enjoying a better quality of life.

According to their analyses, most of the household borrowings was because Malaysians are investing in properties, and that, they said, is generally “good debt”.

“Malaysians are doing better as most of them borrow to buy properties,” said Sunway University Business School professor of economics Yeah Kim Leng.

“But if property prices rise faster than the increase of salaries, then it can be a problem.”

Yeah said such a situation was unlikely due to Bank Negara’s policy to check growing household debt by making it tougher for banks to give out loans.

Penang Institute chief executive and economics head Lim Kim Hwa said this pattern should not cause worry.

“It is only a concern if people borrowed money to cope with the rising cost of living,” he said.

The central bank’s annual report for 2013 — the most recent figures available — showed household debt levels overall has increased to 87 per cent, a rise from 60 per cent in 2008. Of that figure, more than 40 per cent of household debts were loans for property purchases.

Recently, government-linked Khazanah Research Institute’s report showed that the average Malaysian household has been earning higher income levels over the years.

Its State of the Households Report showed that the average monthly household income rose from RM5,000 in 2012 to RM6,141 in 2014, suggesting an overall improvement in the quality of life for Malaysians.

However, one economist cautioned that while Malaysians have increased their purchasing power, thanks to a higher household income, they should not throw their entire disposable income into property investment.

“It is important to keep some of your disposable income for rainy days such children’s education or healthcare because spending all that you have on loans for investment is not a good idea,” said the economist.

He said it would be alarming if the lower-income group attempted to mimic such investment moves.

“Those households with an income of RM3,000 or less must be careful in spending because these people borrow money for purchasing a home and some extra cash for other purposes,” he said.

“With some banks giving out personal loans easily these days, it can be tempting for those who needs fast cash.”

He urged the government to introduce measures to enable the low-income group to cope with the rising cost of living.

Six share RM1.67m jackpot in new game

PETALING JAYA — It was the fourth Magnum M-System 4D jackpot draw, yet sei (No. 4) failed to dampen the enthusiasm of six gaming buffs who struck the top prize and shared RM1.67 million.

The total payout, which came in the Magnum draw on Merdeka Day, was shared by winners from four states.

The six won more than RM278,000 each in the M-System 4D jackpot, a new betting game, launched on Aug 25.

“The RM1,670,950 was shared among the six winners based on the bets they placed,” Magnum Corporation said
in a statement.

“The M-System play was designed for customers who wanted affordability and a wider coverage of their numbers. We still have players who buy our System Bet but the cost can be high so they tend to split their numbers.”

The more combination one buys, the higher the chances one has to win the jackpot. According to Magnum, it is also easy to understand and to remember the cost of each M-System play.

For example, if a customer has nine numbers, the System Bet 9 will cost them RM72. So they tend to split their purchase to System Bet 5 and System Bet 4, which is less than RM32.

“Now we see a new trend emerging … customers will still split their bets and they will add just one more number to buy the M-System 10, which is an additional RM10,” Magnum said.

“The M-System play is becoming more like an insurance for customers. They do so to ensure that all their combinations can be matched in the hopes of winning the jackpot.”

The M-System 4D jackpot offers an affordable option to play 4D jackpot with 10 or more sets of 4D numbers.

One can cover all pairs of numbers with just a fraction of the actual bet amount. The minimum bet for M-System is RM10 for 10 sets of 4D numbers.

This additional game feature for Magnum 4D jackpot will satisfy different players’ needs and aspirations, Magnum said.

Punters who are familiar with the 4D jackpot games will find the 4D jackpot M-System an innovative and affordable extension of Magnum’s portfolio, it added.

Immunisation awareness needs shot in arm

IN light of a growing opposition to immunisation, health authorities in Perak have recently announced an unprecedented hardline stance on the issue.

They are prepared to take legal action against parents who refuse to immunise their children, if the same children contract vaccine-preventable diseases. The parents will be prosecuted for neglecting their children under the Child Act.

It is a bold step, but the question must be asked: how did we get to a situation where state health authorities feel the need to file lawsuits against parents who refuse to give their children the healthcare they need?

Late last month, the Perak Health Department held a public forum to discuss immunisation while educating the public on the need to vaccinate children.

The numbers, which were released at the forum, were alarming.

From January to June this year, Perak recorded 246 cases of vaccine rejection from parents — double the amount that was recorded in the same period last year.

This included 158 cases reported in health clinics and rural clinics, 76 cases from hospitals and 12 cases reported by school health teams.

Among the reasons given by the parents were confusion about the halal status of the vaccines, a fear of possible side effects and a preference for alternative medicine.

Side effects

During the forum, Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital Paediatric Department head and senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh said that side effects did exist but were not as bad as many thought.

“There are side effects to everything. The side effects to vaccination are mild if they happen but they are in no way comparable to the consequence of contracting the actual disease.”

Dr Amar said it was vital for everyone to be immunised as it increased the herd immunity of a population.

According to an online World Health Organisation bulletin, herd protection of an unvaccinated group of the population takes place when a sufficient proportion of the group is immune.

“Vaccination reduces the spread of an infectious agent by reducing the amount and/or duration of pathogen shedding by vaccines, retarding transmission,” said the bulletin.

Dr Amar said children who were not vaccinated were susceptible to contract diseases due to their immature immunity.

“Between two and five per cent of the population do not respond to vaccination, so it is important for the 95 to 98 per cent to be immunised. They will help protect the other group.”

Alternative to vaccination?

Some parents who abstain from vaccination do so because they prefer homeopathic medicine as an alternative.

Many believe homeopathic medicine to be a more natural way of building up the body’s immunity against infections and viruses.

But this belief is misplaced. As forum panellist and Malaysian Homeopathy Council president Zainul Azmi Ahmad argues, homeopathy was never meant as an alternative to modern medicine. Instead, he said it is a complementary practice.

“Things like surgery and prevention of infectious diseases are not the in scope of homeopathic medicine, and don’t let any practitioners tell you otherwise.

“There is no such thing as homeopathic vaccinations either,” he said.

Zainul believes that these misconceptions have been spread by people he calls “unethical”, people who contravene the code of ethics held by homoeopathic practitioners.

“The code tells us not to claim that certain medicines can solve health problems without proof and there is no proof that homeopathy can replace vaccinations.”

The thorny issue of whether or not vaccines are classified as halal is often raised in the national immunisation discourse.

Perak Health Department director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said most of the rejections came from the Malay community who are educated professionals.

However, her department also revealed that there were only two vaccines that do not adhere to halal qualifications — the vaccines for rotavirus and anthrax. Neither are in the Health Ministry’s immunisation schedule.

But the question could be a moot point. Perak Fatwa committee member and forum panellist Asad Awang said Islam allows its believers to choose non-halal immunisations when there is absolutely no other choice available.

“Islam teaches that we should not allow ourselves to be in destruction. When there is a choice between a halal and non-halal vaccine, of course we must choose the former,” he said.

“But if there is no halal vaccine and we are forced to take it (for safety), we can do so, because it becomes necessary.”

Asad said children should be immunised as failing to do so could expose them to communicable diseases that could lead to lifelong disability or death.

“If the public has doubts or questions about this issue from a religious perspective, they should ask those in the know. Refer to the doctors or fatwa committee for the answers,” he said.

“The Health Ministry is under the supervision of the government. We should have some trust in them because they are acting for the welfare of the people.”

Changing the mindset

The Perak Health Department’s decision to take the legal route could be the silver bullet to extinguish the anti-vaccination movement.

However, every stick needs a carrot, and punishment should not be the long-term solution — not as much as education could.

The Perak health authorities are spreading the message through awareness campaigns, Friday prayer sermons, and social media. Forums like the one held last month are definitely the way forward.

As Malaysia is racked by dengue and Zika, it is time for the public to take the initiative and learn more about health issues.

The information is available and accessible and it is up to us to educate ourselves. After all, it is us who will be the ones affected.

The irony of the rise in vaccine-preventable diseases lies in the fact that they are preventable. In this context, it is perhaps appropriate to heed the words of forum panellist Zainul.

“People have a right not to vaccinate their children, but they don’t have the right to infect other people.”

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