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Malaysian PM says India ‘invaded, occupied’ Kashmir at UNGA

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New York/New Delhi, Sep 29 Malaysia joined Turkey and China in raising the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), with its Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad accusing India of “invading and occupying the country” of Jammu and Kashmir.

In his address to the 74th UNGA, Mohamad said: “Now, despite the UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied.”

“There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong. The problem must be solved by peaceful means. India should work with Pakistan to resolve this problem. Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the Rule of Law,” said Mahathir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Mahathir in Russia earlier this month on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, when India raised the issue of extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, and Kuala Lumpur discussed the issue of Kashmir.

According to Malaysian media, Kashmir was the ‘main topic’ during the bilateral meeting between Mahathir Mohamad and Modi on September 5.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told reporters later, “PM Modi took time to clarify the position of Jammu and Kashmir while Mahathir Mohamad explained Malaysia’s stand that all parties should meet and adhere to United Nations resolutions.

Saifuddin said Mahathir did not pledge support for or against any parties but hoped “the conflict would be settled and it would not escalate in a war”.

Mahathir had also suggested bringing in a “third party if necessary or to bring the case to international court”.

Saifuddin told reporters that, “Malaysia as an Islamic country with its own position among Islamic countries can explain the actual situation if the matter is brought up at any international platform”.

On the issue of Zakir Naik, he said: “Zakir Naik was mentioned by Prime Minister Modi in passing and he (Modi) said the matter was being discussed by officers of both countries.

“That was how he (Modi) presented it. Then, Mahathir did not respond as most of the time was used to discuss Kashmir.

However, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said then that the two leaders discussed the extradition of Naik.

Later, Mahathir had rejected the claim that Modi had asked for Naik to be extradited.

During his press conference in Delhi, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had said that India has put in an extradition request for Zakir Naik.

Mahathir, who had met Zakir Naik in July last year, had told media that Naik would not be deported since he has Permanent Residency, as long as he does not create any problems.

On the sidelines of the UNGA, Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia held a trilateral meeting during which they decided to jointly launch an English language TV channel dedicated to confronting Islamophobia and removing “misperceptions” about Islam.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the decision on Thursday after his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The three-nation channel would offer Muslims a dedicated media presence to help in “setting the record straight” on Islam and fighting the phenomenon of Islamophobia internationally.

At the UNGA, China, a good friend of Pakistan, had raised the Kashmir issue, with its Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his address repeating Beijing’s stated position on Kashmir.

He had termed Kashmir as a “dispute left from the past” and called for its resolution based on UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. “No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken,” Wang had said.

Turkey’s Erdogan had in his address said that despite the UN resolutions, “eight million people are stuck” in Kashmir. He had called for the Kashmir issue to be solved through dialogue rather than conflict and criticised the international community for failing to pay attention to the issue.

India is Malaysia’s 10th largest trading partner, where the total bilateral trade target of $15 billion set for 2020 was achieved in 2018/2019.

Politics

UK PM’s approval rating drops by 20 pts after aide scandal

At a press conference on Monday, Johnson admitted he regrets the “confusion and pain” the scandal has caused the British public.

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Boris Johnson

London, May 26 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsons approval rating has dropped 20 points to -1 per cent after he refused to sack his chief aide, Dominic Cummings for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules, it was reported on Tuesday.

According to Savanta, a coronavirus data tracker which looks at how the UK population is responding to the pandemic, the Prime Minister’s rating was previously +19 per cent just four days ago, the Metro newspaper reported.

It stated that the overall government approval rate is now at -2 per cent, having dropped 16 points in a day.

Johnson’s approval rating is now also the lowest of all the individuals examined, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s the second lowest at 4 per cent.

Cummings’ rating has not been tracked.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating also lifted to 12 per cent on Monday, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak dropped from 35 per cent four days ago to 20 per cent.

Cummings has been accused of breaking lockdown rules he helped make after it emerged he travelled from London to his parents home in Durham when his wife fell ill with suspected coronavirus in March, reports the Metro newspaper.

The Prime Minister’s chief adviser has refused to step down over the allegations, admitting he never considered resigning and he doesn’t regret his actions.

At a press conference on Monday, Johnson admitted he regrets the “confusion and pain” the scandal has caused the British public.

But he said that he believed Cummings acted “legally” and “with integrity”.

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Blog

445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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Business

UK non-essential shops to reopen from June 15: PM Boris Johnson

The British Retail Consortium said it welcomed the announcement, adding it provided “much-needed clarity on the route ahead”.

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Boris Johnson

London, May 26 : All non-essential retailers across the UK will be able to reopen from June 15, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced, as part of plans to further ease the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

Adressing the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Monday, Johnson said that the move was “contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus”, and retailers will have to adhere to new guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, the BBC reported.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from June 1.

Johnson said new guidance had been published for the retail sector “detailing the measures they should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards”.

“Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen,” he said.

“This will ensure there can be no doubt about what steps they should take.”

Commenting on the development, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”

The British Retail Consortium said it welcomed the announcement, adding it provided “much-needed clarity on the route ahead”.

A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry added that the new guidance would help retailers to open “safely and securely”.

However, not all businesses are pleased with the announcement, said the BBC report.

The British Association of Independent Retailers said many small shops had been preparing to open from next week, adding: “It is therefore a little disappointing for the smaller retailers not to be able to open until June 15, especially as they can make it safe to do so.”

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