Kuala Lumpur, Sep 13 (AP/UNB) — A top Malaysian lawyer for former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been charged with receiving 9.5 million ringgit ($2.3 million) from his client in allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
Muhammad Shafee Abdullah pleaded not guilty Thursday to money laundering and making false declaration in his income tax.
Shafee is the main defense lawyer for Najib, who faces charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption linked to the looting of the 1MDB state fund months after his electoral defeat.
Shafee last week said the payment was for legal services previously done for Najib's then-ruling coalition, and that he had no knowledge of the source of the money.
He had expressed concern he was being victimized to discourage him from defending Najib.
Hanoi, Sep 13 (AP/UNB) — Myanmar's handling of its Rohingya Muslims, 700,000 of whom have fled to Bangladesh amid a brutal counterinsurgency campaign, could have been handled better, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Thursday.
Myanmar is facing international pressure over atrocities allegedly committed by its military in the crackdown that followed August 2017 attacks by Rohingya militants on security forces. The army is accused of committing mass rape, killings and setting fire to thousands of homes. A report issued two weeks ago by a specially appointed U.N. human rights team recommended prosecuting senior Myanmar commanders for genocide and other crimes.
"There are of course ways in which with hindsight I think the situation could have been handled better," Suu Kyi said, responding to questions during a one-on-one discussion at the World Economic Forum's regional meeting in Hanoi.
She still defended Myanmar security forces, saying that all groups in Rakhine state had to be protected.
"We have to be fair to all sides," Suu Kyi said. "The rule of law must apply to everyone. We cannot choose and pick."
Suu Kyi said the situation was complicated by the myriad ethnic minorities in the area, some of which are at risk of disappearing entirely and which include not just the Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists.
Although the violence in Rakhine state has eased, Myanmar has to deal with its aftermath, especially the repatriation of the Muslim Rohingya who fled and the underlying causes of tension that makes them targets of discrimination and repression in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar.
Suu Kyi said that Myanmar is prepared to take those who fled back, but their return has been complicated by the fact that two governments are involved.
Aid workers say conditions for a safe and orderly return of the refugees have not been met.
Suu Kyi also rejected criticism over the show-trial conviction last week of two Reuters news agency reporters who helped expose extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya men and boys.
The reporters were both sentenced to seven years' imprisonment on charges of possessing state secrets.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is among those who have condemned the verdicts and called for the journalists' release.
"The case has been held in open court," Suu Kyi said. "If anyone feels there has been a miscarriage of justice I would like them to point it out."
"They were not jailed because they were journalists. They were jailed because ... the court has decided they have broken the Official Secrets Act," she said.
Suu Kyi noted that the two can appeal their sentences.
Versailles, Sep 13 (AP/UNB) — French President Emmanuel Macron and Crown Prince Naruhito, Japan's next emperor, made a toast to continued friendship between their nations Wednesday in the sumptuous surroundings of the Chateau of Versailles.
Macron and his wife, Brigitte, hosted an official dinner for Naruhito, who began a nine-day goodwill visit to France over the weekend. The dinner marked a showpiece moment of the prince's trip.
During a pre-dinner speech dwelling on the dense web of connections and history that tie France and Japan, Macron said hosting the prince at Versailles showed the "respect, esteem and friendship we have for Japan."
Macron recalled previous visits made to France by the prince's father, Emperor Akihito.
"France hasn't forgotten, just as it won't forget your visit," he said.
Macron and Naruhito also attended a theater performance at the glittering palace west of Paris.
The 58-year-old prince will inherit Japan's Chrysanthemum throne when the 84-year-old emperor abdicates next year.
Naruhito's visit marks 160 years of diplomatic relations between France and Japan.
Manila, Sep 13 (AP/UNB) — The most powerful typhoon of the season is closing in on the northern Philippines, where officials ordered precautionary evacuations and closures of schools and offices and urged farmers to quickly harvest their crops to reduce damage.
Forecasters said Typhoon Mangkhut, considered as the strongest this year, could hit northern Cagayan province on Saturday. It was located about 800 kilometers (500 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 265 kilometers (165 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 325 kph (201 mph). It could maintain the strength of a super typhoon when it hits land in the northeastern corner of Luzon Island.
On Guam, residents woke up Tuesday to flooded streets, downed trees and widespread power outages after Mangkhut passed through overnight.
The Pacific Daily News reported government agencies were conducting damage assessments and beginning to clear roads. About 80 percent of the U.S. territory was without power but it was restored by Thursday morning.
With a massive rain band 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the storm could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods, Philippine state forecaster Meno Mendoza said.
Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said by telephone that northern coastal and island villages in the typhoon's projected path will begin evacuating residents on Thursday ahead of the expected onslaught. He said classes will be suspended and offices, except those involved in rescue and relief work, advised to close on Friday.
In 2016, a super typhoon lashed the southern section of Cagayan, destroying tens of thousands of houses. Mangkhut is blowing from the Pacific and forecast to directly slam the province's northeastern coastal and island municipalities, Mamba said.
"I'm stressing that this one is very different, this is more complicated because of possible storm surges," Mamba said, referring to giant waves whipped inland by a typhoon.
The typhoon is arriving at the start of the rice and corn harvest season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, and farmers were scrambling to save what they could of their crops, Mamba said. The Philippines has been trying to cope with rice shortages.
Office of Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said other northern provinces will also start evacuating residents from low-lying areas on Thursday.
"The worst cases are those areas which will be directly hit by strong winds that can topple houses, storm surges and heavy rains that can cause flooding, and there may be landslides in higher areas," Jalad told reporters.
A missile test aboard a navy ship to be attended by President Rodrigo Duterte off northern Bataan province was canceled due to the approaching typhoon.
After leaving the Philippines, the fast-moving storm is expected to blow toward Hong Kong and southern China on Sunday if it maintains its course, forecasters said.
Mangkhut is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and displaced over 5 million in the central Philippines in 2013.
Islamabad, Sept 12 (AP/UNB) — A provincial government in Pakistan has released former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son in-law on parole after Sharif's wife died at a hospital in London.
Mushahidullah Khan, a spokesman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party, said Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mohammad Safdar were temporarily released from a prison in Rawalpindi early Wednesday and flown to the eastern city of Lahore.
Kulsoom Nawaz was suffering from throat cancer. She died early Tuesday in London at the age of 68. Her funeral is likely to be held in Lahore on Friday.
Sharif and his daughter and son-in-law are serving 10, 7 and one-year sentences respectively in a corruption case. The Supreme Court last year disqualified Sharif from holding office and later an anti-graft tribunal convicted him and his relatives.