New MACC chief to be ‘fair, firm and trustworthy’

KUALA LUMPUR — Newly appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad has pledged to be “fair, firm and trustworthy” in his leadership of the agency.

Dzulkifli, who assumed duties yesterday, said he was humbled by his selection, Malay Mail Online reported.

“I am also aware and conscious of the daunting challenge that awaits me and the high expectations placed upon me,” he said in a statement.

“Thus, it is my sincere hope the MACC and I will continue to have the cooperation and support from all parties towards our efforts to eradicate corruption in Malaysia.”

He thanked the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his appointment as well as his predecessor, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, for his “exemplary leadership” for the past six-and-a-half years.

Dzulkifli, who previously headed the multi-agency NRRET under the purview of Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, was named last Friday as the new MACC chief to replace Abu Kassim.

His appointment has been met with scepticism from a former judge and activists, who said the agency’s independence may be compromised with the “parachuting” of a senior official from the Attorney-General’s Chambers as
its head.


Koike defies party, elected Tokyo’s 
new governor

TOKYO — Tokyo’s new governor Yuriko Koike yesterday credited her landslide victory to having stood up to the powers that be in Japan’s ruling party who did not want her to run.

Koike, 64, was elected Tokyo’s first female governor in the Sunday vote, winning more than 2.9 million votes, far outpacing the nearly 1.8 million ballots cast for closest challenger Hiroya Masuda.

Masuda, a former governor of Iwate prefecture in northern Japan, was the favoured candidate of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner.

The LDP spurned Koike, an LDP member, for failing to seek its approval before announcing her candidacy, with a top party official calling her “selfish”.

Koike, however, had the last laugh after her campaign drew huge crowds during street rallies ahead of the vote.

“I fought this race without support from the party, and people joked I was like the sole player in a theatre company,” she told reporters early yesterday.

“But in the end it allowed us to move freely rather than restricting us.”

The election was called after previous governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned over a financial scandal involving the lavish use of public funds on hotels and spa trips — the second successive Tokyo leader to quit.

A key challenge facing Koike will be to get a grip on Tokyo’s troubled path to hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, which has been plagued by scandals and cost overruns.

She vowed late on Sunday to be transparent on the budget and restore the trust of voters in the sprawling metropolis of 13.6 million people.

Her defeat of Masuda, a veteran administrator who had won plaudits as governor of northeastern Iwate for 12 years, was a huge embarrassment for the conservative party.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, expressed disappointment that Masuda lost but hinted the LDP could work with Koike.

“It is important for the central government to cooperate (with the new governor) for the benefit of the Japanese people,” he said.

The party having backed the wrong horse is also embarrassing for Abe, who has vowed to improve conditions for women in male-dominated Japan so they can better contribute to the economy by taking senior positions in business and government.

But he personally never campaigned with Masuda at his street rallies, while local media reported that the prime minister, who had once placed Koike in key national security posts, may have tried to distance himself from his party’s harsh stance towards her.

Besides facing opposition from the LDP, Koike was also subject to verbal abuse from Shintaro Ishihara, who served as governor for 13 years.

“We should not allow the old, old woman with a heavily powdered face to take the reins of Tokyo politics,” Ishihara, 83, said at an LDP rally in support of Masuda.

Koike calmly refuted the attack, explaining that she has to cover a mark on her face, which observers say gathered sympathy from voters. — AFP

likely struck 
power line

WASHINGTON — A hot air balloon which went down in a fiery crash in a Texas pasture, killing all 16 people on board, likely struck a power line, an investigator said on Sunday.

“There’s physical evidence to indicate the balloon or some component of the ballon hit the wires,” US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official Robert Sumwalt said at a news conference near the crash site.

A power line runs prominently across the field.

It was one of the deadliest hot air balloon crashes in history. Collisions with power lines are a leading cause of hot air balloon accidents.

The NTSB, taking the lead in investigating Saturday’s crash, was asking the public for any cell phone videos of the incident.

Investigators were also hoping to retrieve evidence from 14 devices — phones, cameras and an iPad — recovered from the crash site, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper said.

Identifying the victims will be “a long process,” the Caldwell County (Texas) sheriff’s office said in a statement.

“Our goal while being on scene is to collect the perishable evidence” and ultimately determine “why it happened so that we can keep it from happening again,” Sumwalt said.

CNN and local media identified the balloon’s pilot as Alfred “Skip” Nichols, owner of Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides.

They said Nichols owned at least three balloons, one well-known in the area for sporting a huge yellow smiley face against a red, white and blue background.

A photo on Facebook showed him piloting a balloon with a large wicker basket holding more than a dozen passengers.

CNN quoted Alan Lirette, who worked for the company and had helped load the passengers on Saturday, confirming Nichols’ death and saying there were no children aboard.

He said Nichols was a close friend and a “great pilot.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are assisting in the inquiry.

NTSB experts will first examine “the operation of the balloon, the pilot, the company that operated the balloon,” Sumwalt said.

The balloon burst into flames and plummeted to earth soon after dawn outside the town of Lockhart, some 30 miles (50km) south of Austin, the FAA said in a statement.

Weather did not appear to be a problem, temperatures were moderate and wind was light.

“I didn’t see the balloon hit. I just heard the popping. And I heard the popping, and then the next thing I knew is the fireball went up,” Margaret Wylie, 66, who witnessed the crash, told broadcaster TWC News Austin.

The 16 deaths make the balloon accident the deadliest on record in the United States. Previously, the highest number of fatalities in a single US hot air balloon crash was six.

In 2013, a sunrise hot air balloon flight over Egypt’s ancient temple city of Luxor caught fire and crashed, killing 19 tourists. The pilot and one other tourist survived by jumping from the balloon. — AFP

Reuters Yusra Mardini

for joy

RIO DE JANEIRO — Syrian teenager Yusra Mardini, who braved a Mediterranean crossing in a leaky dinghy to escape her wartorn country, is one of 10 athletes selected to compete for the Refugee Olympic Athletes.

Less than a year ago, Mardini was swimming for her life. During a perilous journey to Lesbos, the engine of their packed dinghy failed and the craft began taking on water.

Mardini and elder sister Sarah, their home in Damascus having been destroyed in the Syrian conflict, had fled the fighting, trekking through camps in Lebanon. Like thousands of other Syrians, they were seeking to make a new life in Europe by making the treacherous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece in a poorly equipped boat.

The dinghy they were in started taking on water. Mardini, who competed for Syria at the 2012 Fina World Championships, realised they could all drown.

She plunged in with Sarah and two others, grabbed a rope and spent the next three hours in choppy water towing the boat to safety.

Mardini, who has now settled in Germany with her family as a refugee, says she will proudly represent Syria, the Olympic movement and her recently adopted homeland when she competes in Brazil.

“It’s absolutely an honour for me to be here.

“It’s for my country, for Germany and the Olympic Committee, because they gave me all the support to make it possible.”

Those in the boat whose lives she helped save will be cheering from afar as she competes in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly.

Mardini is joined in the refugee ranks by another Syrian swimmer, Rami Anis. He fled Syria in 2011 to avoid being enlisted into the army, relocating to Belgium from Istanbul in October last year. He will compete in the men’s 100m butterfly.

This story first appeared in

Malay Mail Afternoon E-Paper yesterday.

Explosion, theft rock 
Games opener

RIO DE JANEIRO — It seems panic has set in just days before the start of Rio Olympics on Saturday with reports Brazilian police sent a robot into Rio’s Maracana Stadium to trigger an explosion.

Australian host broadcaster Seven Network revealed a loud explosion had been heard inside the famous football stadium.

Dress rehearsals for the opening ceremony were taking place at the time.

However, not everyone is convinced by the reports.

Bomb disposal experts took no chances with suspicious toolbox. Inspector Brito, from Rio’s Bomb Squad, said the package did not contain any explosives when it was detonated by the robot about 8.30am.

Rio-based reporter for Wall Street Journal, Paul Kiernan, tweeted: “Explosion today at Rio’s Maracana stadium was a training exercise, fire department says.”

Rafael Leal, a reporter with CBN, dismissed reports tweeting: “Pure joke! Stop creating false news! I am journalist here in Brazil and there was nothing in the Maracana today.”

Much of the confusion stemmed from Seven Network’s initial report, which sent Twitter into overdrive.

It follows the theft of a laptop and three shirts in the Australian camp during a fire evacuation at the athletes’ village.

Australian team chief Kitty Chiller said on Sunday team shirts and a laptop computer belonging to a cycling official have been stolen from the Australian building in the athletes’ village.

She said three unidentified people were seen walking away with team shirts during an evacuation after a basement fire on Friday, while the laptop was taken from a room on the fifth floor.

“That is concerning,” she told a news conference, adding that the security presence had since been increased with four private guards at the entrance doors and more noticeable identity checks.

“When you have got 15,000 beds, there are a lot of people walking around the village. I’m not accusing anybody but there are a lot of non-accredited workers, cleaners, housekeepers, maintenance workers still walking around.

“Unfortunately, in an area of that size with the number of buildings and rooms that there are, theft is going to be inevitable.”

Asked about safety implications, at a time of heightened concern about potential terror attacks, Chiller said nobody felt unsafe but all team members had been reminded to keep doors locked and valuables secure.

Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said security had been tightened.

“When the task force was still working to finish the buildings there were more people circulating in the village. No-one can enter the village now without the proper screening, background checks and accreditation,” he said.

The theft is the latest in a string of incidents affecting the Australians, their woes perhaps highlighted by the team holding daily briefings where others have not.

Chiller complained last weekend about exposed wiring and blocked toilets, saying the accommodation was “not safe or ready” for athletes who were put up in hotels while contractors rectified matters.

The basement fire was blamed on a cigarette discarded into debris left after the repairs.

The Australians subsequently discovered that the alarm system had been deactivated without them knowing while workmen were fixing the neighbouring building.

Apart from the missing laptop, IT equipment had also been “rifled through”.

Chiller could not say whether the laptop contained sensitive data, and neither could she state how many shirts were missing.

“They were our ‘Zika’ shirts — long-sleeved yellow — and we had them all lined up in piles on the reception desk, in an outdoor common space,” she said.

Visitors to Brazil are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts as a precaution against the mosquito-borne Zika virus linked to birth defects in newborn babies and possible neurological problems in adults. — Various


Mammoth haul

Kuala Lumpur International Airport Customs officer had on July 21 foiled an attempt to smuggle a tonne of African ivory worth more than RM10 million into the country. They were detected when 23 air cargo parcels were scanned. They were declared as baked clay and wooden samples for importers located in Selangor and Johor. No arrest had yet to be made. — Picture by Bernama

Luxury cars among 30 recovered in raid on workshop

BUKIT MERTAJAM — Police seized 30 stolen cars worth more than RM6 million and arrested three men during a raid on a workshop in Bukit Tengah near here.

Police carried out the raid at 10.30am on Friday following a public tip-off.

Sources said the men, aged between 37 and 40, were caught while they were tampering with the chassis number of some of the vehicles.

Among the cars recovered were a Porsche Cayenne, a Jaguar, a Mini Cooper, two BMW, eight Mercedes Benz and 11 Audi.

The police also found the chasis of four other cars. A lorry that was at the workshop was also seized.

State OCCI SAC Datuk Razarudin Husain said the RM600,000 Porsche Cayenne was reportedly stolen in Kajang, Selangor recently.

“The three men are mechanics. We are still trying to identity the thieves,” he told Malay Mail yesterday.

The thieves were believed to be have used a device to duplicate the signal of the car’s remote control alarm to unlock the vehicle before driving away.

“The cars are believed to have been stolen from all over Malaysia and the thieves have certain expertise in stealing these vehicles.

“We also believe the suspects might have connections with vehicle theft syndicates and we are working closely with Bukit Aman police on this,” he said when contacted.

Razarudin said once the car chassis number were tampered with, it was possible that the cars could be smuggled into a neighbouring country.

He said police were investigating the possible mode of transport used by the suspects.

“We believe some of the vehicles were for the local market, possibly for their parts,” he added.

The three men had been remanded until Thursday and the case is being investigated under Section 379 A of the Penal Code for vehicle theft.

Two students caught with ganja

SUBANG JAYA – Two students were among 16 people arrested for drug possession in four raids last week in Bandar Sunway.

Subang Jaya police chief ACP Mohammad Azlin Sadari said a 16-year-old boy was busted at 4.40pm on Tuesday by a roadside after police found on him 251gm of compressed dried leaves, believed to be ganja, on him.

“The leaves were in two packets,” he told a press conference yesterday.

The second boy, aged 17, was arrested in an operation also on Tuesday, Azlin said.

“He was among 12 men, including two foreigners, who were in a condominium.

“We found two packets of ganja weighing 444gm in the toilet during the raid at 7.20pm,” he said.

Azlin said the student and the others arrested tested positive for ganja.

He said in the operation they also arrested a 24-year-old man who had two packets of compressed dried leaves, also believed to be ganja, on him. They weighed a total of 294gm.

Police found three more packets in his car weighing 521gm.

On Thursday, two men, one of them a Malaysian, were arrested for possessing 10.47kg of ganja.

Azlin said police suspect that the men were drug dealers and their modus operandi is being investigated.

The remand order for the suspects arrested on Tuesday expires today. The other two are remanded until Thursday.

The total value of ganja seized was RM33,000.

Duo held over stolen Lamborgini

SERDANG — Two men have been detained over a Lamborghini Gallardo, which was allegedly stolen by a group of armed man in Puchong last Tuesday.

Serdang police chief ACP Megat Mohd Aminuddin Megat Alias said they had picked up two suspects, aged 47 and 52, on Thursday and seized the car after it was spotted at the Rawang toll plaza on the North-South Expressway.

He said a task force, consisting of personnel from the Gambling, Vice and Secret Societies unit and the Special Investigation Division, was assigned to conduct investigations.

“Based on the intelligence gathered, we arrested the first suspect at a restaurant at 5pm. We then managed to locate the car at the toll plaza where the second suspect was nabbed,” he said.

A 31-year-old businessman had lodged the report claiming the car was stolen by three armed men after they had staged an accident.

However, Megat Mohd Aminuddin said the businessman was not the car’s registered owner and police were locating its rightful owner.

On the day of the incident, Alan Tee Woei Luen had posted images of the car on his Facebook page seeking public assistance to locate the car.

Tee had said in the post the car was not fitted with a global positioning system locator and that he had gone out to buy supper for his wife when the incident took place at 12.05am.

The Lamborghini is estimated to be worth at least RM800,000.


CCTV mandatory soon 
in KL business premises

KUALA LUMPUR — Kuala Lumpur City Hall plans to make it mandatory for business operators to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) to improve street security.

It also wants to link the privately-installed CCTV to the City Hall Integrated Transport Information System unit to ensure a backup is in place in the event of a crime.

Mayor Datuk Mhd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz said the local authority was also thinking of lowering the licensing fee for premises for new applicants.

“We will discuss the possibility of lowering the fees paid for licences as an incentive for operators to install cameras,” he said at City Hall’s Hari Raya open house yesterday.

He said the date for implementation of the move would be decided after consultation with senior City Hall officials.

“Meanwhile, I am encouraging those who apply for business premise licences to install CCTV to improve security situations in the city,” he said.

He said City Hall’s 1,000 CCTV cameras captured crime committed on the streets but were unable to obtain footage of incidents in business premises.

“This is why we want business operators to have their own CCTV cameras to capture such incidents,” he said.

He said 309 of the City Hall-installed CCTVs were linked to the nearest police station.

On whether enforcement officers would carry out security checks, he said they could help police if requested.

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