Sex videos allegedly linked to Malaysian minister politically motivated: PM Mahathir – CNA

SHAH ALAM: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday (Jun 12) described the spreading of sex videos allegedly linked to a minister as politically motivated.

He said that the authenticity of the clips are questionable, as many are good in editing and producing similar pictures and videos.

“I don’t think (the videos and pictures) are real. This is put up by somebody with a political agenda. If you are going to lose and you see others likely to win, you put up pornographic pictures.”

READ: Malaysian minister Azmin Ali ‘categorically denies’ involvement in viral sex video, vows legal action

READ: Man confesses to appearing in sex video with man he says is a Malaysian Cabinet minister

“After this, you will see my pictures. Don’t do these dirty things. Keep politics a little bit cleaner,” he told reporters after attending the Malam Sejuta Kenangan event organised by Bersatu leaders at the Setia City Convention Centre.

Dr Mahathir also questioned the true motive of the man who admitted that he was involved in the acts committed in the clips.

“This boy admitted, it is deliberate. Otherwise, he would not have admitted. Usually, the individual concerned would be shy to admit, but this one is not shy. What is the purpose?” he asked.

Asked whether he had met with the Cabinet minister related to the video, Dr Mahathir said that meetings proceeded as usual, but they only involved the Cabinet.

When asked about the existence of a power struggle in the Parti Keadilan Rakyat following the sex video, he said that he was not aware of it.

“Such a method (dissemination of the sex video) should not happen in Malaysia. It is too dirty,” said Dr Mahathir.

On Wednesday, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali strongly denied accusations by an individual who tried to implicate him in a sex video.

Mohamed Azmin was certain that the series of allegations were a part of a plot to discredit him and destroy his political career.

Hong Kong police arrest 11, Beijing voices support for action against ‘riots’ – CNA

HONG KONG/BEIJING: Beijing on Thursday (Jun 13) described the mass protests against Hong Kong’s extradition bill as “riots”, and said it supported the local government’s response.

Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo He said what began as a peaceful gathering on Wednesday had degenerated into a riot with protesters “acting violently in an organised manner”.

Police arrested 11 people while 22 officers were injured and police had fired about 150 tear gas canisters, he said.

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up crowds Wednesday after demonstrators – angry over legislation they say would leave people vulnerable to China’s opaque justice system – blocked roads and brought the city to a standstill.

Videos of Hong Kong police beating protesters have sparked accusations of brutality.

READ: Police face mounting brutality claims after Hong Kong clashes

As of 5pm on Thursday, there were 81 casualties related to the protests, the Hospital Authority said. These comprised 57 males and 24 females aged between 15 and 66 years old.

“Five males and two females are still staying in hospital with stable condition,” it added.

This is the worst political unrest since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.

The police have said that force was necessary to fend off protesters throwing bricks and metal bars. 

Lo defended his officers on Thursday, saying they “had no choice but to escalate the use of force”.

But critics said officers used localised violence by small groups of hardcore activists to launch an unprecedented operation against the much larger mass of peaceful protesters who had taken over parts of the city on Wednesday.

Throughout the day police and officials worked to open roads and remove barricades thrown up in the city’s commercial heart, a district that boasts many international companies.

At a park next to parliament, much of the clean-up operation was done by young protesters who gathered piles of garbage, discarded protective gear and broken umbrellas.

A protester holds an umbrella during a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong, China June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

READ: Thousands of Hong Kong protesters gather, govt offices shut after violent protests

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang Thursday said the protests were “an act that undermines Hong Kong’s stability”.

“What happened in the Admiralty area was not a peaceful rally, but a riot organised by a group,” he told a regular briefing.

“We support the Hong Kong government’s dealing with the situation in accordance with the law.”

The Hong Kong Bar Association also said the police “may well have overstepped its lawful powers” with “wholly unnecessary force against largely unarmed protesters who did not appear to pose any immediate threat to the police or the public”.

READ: China blasts EU’s ‘irresponsible’ remarks on Hong Kong

Protest organisers have announced plans for another mass rally for Sunday.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) also called for a city-wide strike on Monday to keep the pressure on the financial hub’s government to scrap the proposed bill.

“We urge citizens to join labour strikes, school strikes and business strikes,” said Jimmy Sham, the group’s spokesman.

“When facing ignorance, contempt and suppression, we will only be stronger, there will only be more Hong Kong people.”

The CHRF organised a huge rally against the bill on Sunday which they said drew more than a million people.

It has little control over groups of largely leaderless, young crowds of more hardline demonstrators at the vanguard of confrontations with police.

PROTESTORS MILL OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT

A police officer checks the bag of a pedestrian following a day of violence over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, in Hong Kong, China June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The number of protesters milling about outside the legislature in the financial district fell overnight but rose again through the day on Thursday to about 1,000 at one stage.

They expect the legislature, which has a majority of pro-Beijing members, will try to hold the debate at some stage, though it issued a notice saying there would be no session on Thursday.

READ: Why proposed changes to Hong Kong’s extradition law are fueling protests

“We will be back when, and if, it comes back for discussion again,” said protester Stephen Chan, a 20-year old university student.

“We just want to preserve our energy now.”

Earlier, some protesters tried to stop police from removing supplies of face masks and food and scuffles broke out.

Police with helmets and shields blocked overhead walkways and plainclothes officers checked commuters’ identity cards.

A man walks past barriers surrounding the Legislative Council building after violent clashes during a protest against an extradition bill, in Hong Kong, China June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Most roads around the business district were open on Thursday but the Pacific Place shopping mall next to the legislature, and the AIA Central office tower, were closed.

Banks, including Standard Chartered, Bank of China and DBS, said they had suspended branch services in the area.

Authorities shut government offices in the financial district, which is overlooked by the towers of some of Asia’s biggest firms and hotel chains, for the rest of the week.

Hong Kong’s benchmark stock exchange slid as much as 1.5 per cent on Thursday before closing down 0.1 per cent, extending losses from the previous day.

INTERNATIONAL REACTION

The European Union called for the “fundamental right” for people to assemble and express themselves to be respected as it became the latest grouping to add its voice to a growing chorus of criticism of the bill.

The EU “shares many of the concerns raised by citizens of Hong Kong”, it said, drawing an angry response from China which dismissed the comments as “irresponsible and erroneous”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was vital the proposed law did not breach the deal China agreed to, that is, to allow Hong Kong to retain its freedoms for at least 50 years.

US President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington he could “understand the reason for the demonstration” and that he hoped “it all works out for China and for Hong Kong”.

The most expensive HDB flats by neighbourhood – June 2019 – The Online Citizen

by ValueChampion

How much do the most expensive HDB flats cost around Singapore? We set out to compare the top list prices in each neighbourhood.

While the public housing system in Singapore has helped many families achieve the goal of homeownership, prices have continued to rise over the years. Even if you’re very frugal, it can be fun to daydream about some of the islands most expensive apartments.

In this article, we examined the most expensive HDB flats on the market by neighbourhood.

Most Expensive HDB Flat Listings Across Singapore

After analysing data from PropertyGuru’s website, we found that the most expensive flats in 10 neighbourhoods exceed S$1 million. In particular, large (often multi-generational) and recently renovated flats are listed at the highest prices. HDB shophouses are also typically more expensive than other homes; however, we did not include them in our analysis.

The Most Expensive Homes by Neighbourhood

Clearly, even the prices of the most expensive homes can vary significantly based on location. For those wondering what else these homes have to offer, we’ve highlighted the features of the most expensive homes in five HDB towns.

1. 104B Depot Road – Bukit Merah

This Bukit Merah property is currently listed for S$1,800,000 the highest of any on our list. This renovated flat offers 7 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and 2 kitchens in 232 square metres of living space. Additionally, the property is only 10 minutes from Sentosa and Orchard Road.

2. 205 Chempaka Kuning Link – Bedok

This large, corner unit penthouse comes fully furnished and offers a park view. The flat is located on a high floor of a colonial building and was recently renovated.Not only that, the home offers close proximity to the Changi airport, shopping and multiple country clubs.

3. 428 Tampines Street – Tampines

This massive 296 square metre home is made up of two connected units can be used together or separated as two separate flats, making it a great fit for multi-generational households. The home features 6 bathrooms, and 4 bathrooms. Additionally, the location is quiet and close to several schools as well as the Tampines Central MRT.

4. 7 Boon Keng Road – Kallang/Whampoa

This recently renovated DBSS property is conveniently located, just a 3 minute walk to the MRT. Additionally, the flat is located on a high floor and has a great view facing the Singapore Sports Hub. The building even offers great amenities, such as a barbeque area, fitness facility and playground.

5. 194 Bishan Street – Bishan

This 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom flat is located on a high floor and has great views of the Bukit Timah Hill from multiple windows. Additionally, the property offers easy access to public transportation, shopping and several schools. Finally, the building has just 4 units per floor, suggesting a quieter environment for residents.

How Much Does it Cost to Own a Million Dollar Home?

Purchasing such an expensive home is a pipe dream for many individuals. But how much would it actually cost to buy and own a million dollar home? First, a 20% down payment for a house that costs S$1 million comes out to S$200,000. Next, even with a competitive interest rate (let’s say 2.25%), a monthly home loan payment would come out to about S$3,489. For perspective, this represents 38% of the median monthly income (S$9,293, according to the DOS).

On top of the cost of purchasing the home, larger home often require more expensive home insurance coverage and generate higher energy bills. For example, the average cost of home insurance for a 3-room HDB flat (S$102) is less than half of the average cost for a 5-room flat (S$225). Furthermore, the average 5-room flat uses about 65% more electricity than a 3-room home, which amounts to hundreds of dollars more in electricity bills over an entire year. While these costs may seem somewhat insignificant, given the high sticker price of these homes, they indicate the increased on-going costs of owning a larger and more expensive home.

This was first published at Value Champion’s website, “The Most Expensive HDB Flats by Neighbourhood – June 2019“.

Explainer: Why proposed changes to Hong Kong’s extradition law are fueling protests – CNA

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s government has indefinitely delayed the second round of debate on an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial for the first time, after chaotic protests by tens of thousands of people.

Hong Kong residents, as well as foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling through the global financial hub, would all be at risk if they are wanted on the mainland.

Pro-establishment political forces are dominant in the Legislative Council and the bill is expected to be passed by the end of the month.

READ: Violence breaks out as police try to clear Hong Kong protesters

READ: Hong Kong police fire tear gas, rubber bullets as clashes with protesters break out

WHAT DOES THE EXTRADITION BILL INVOLVE?

The Hong Kong government first launched the proposals in February, putting forward sweeping changes that would simplify case-by-case extraditions of criminal suspects to countries beyond the 20 with which Hong Kong has existing extradition treaties.

It explicitly allows extraditions from Hong Kong to greater China – including the mainland, Taiwan and Macau – for the first time, closing what Hong Kong government officials have repeatedly described as a “loophole” that they claim has allowed the city to become a haven for criminals from the mainland.

Hong Kong’s leader would start and finally approve an extradition following a request from a foreign jurisdiction but only after court hearings, including any possible appeals. However, the bill removes Legislative Council oversight of extradition arrangements.

Protestors occupy Harcourt Road near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jun 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

WHY IS THE HONG KONG GOVERNMENT PUSHING IT NOW?                                  

Officials initially seized on the murder last year of a young Hong Kong woman holidaying in Taiwan to justify swift changes. Police say her boyfriend confessed on his return to Hong Kong and he is now in jail on lesser money-laundering charges.

Taiwan authorities have strongly opposed the bill, which they say could leave Taiwanese citizens exposed in Hong Kong and have vowed to refuse taking back the murder suspect if the bill is passed.

A long-forgotten issue, the need for an eventual extradition deal with the mainland was acknowledged by government officials and experts ahead of Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” model.

The city maintains a separate and independent legal system as part of the broader freedoms the formula guarantees. Little progress has been made in discreet talks since then with justice and security officials on the mainland, where the Communist Party still controls the courts.

HOW STRONG IS OPPOSITION TO THE BILL?

Thousand of legal professionals wearing black, stage a silent protest to the Central Government Offices, demanding authorities scrap a proposed extradition bill with China, in Hong Kong, China June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Concern about the amendments has spiralled in recent weeks, taking in pro-business and pro-Beijing elements usually loath to publicly contradict the Hong Kong or Chinese governments. Senior Hong Kong judges have privately expressed alarm, and mainland commercial lawyers based in Hong Kong have echoed their fears, saying the mainland system cannot be trusted to meet even basic standards of judicial fairness. Hong Kong lawyers’ groups have issued detailed submissions to the government, hoping to force a postponement.

READ: Hong Kong government postpones second reading of extradition bill amid worsening protests

READ: Hong Kong lawyers protest ‘polarising’ extradition bill in rare march

Authorities have repeatedly stressed that judges will serve as “gatekeepers” or guardians for extradition requests. However, some judges say privately that China’s increasingly close relationship with Hong Kong and the limited scope of extradition hearings will leave them exposed to criticism and political pressure from Beijing.

Schools, lawyers and church groups have joined human rights groups to protest against the measures. Following a brawl in the legislature over the bill, the government moved to fast-track the bill by scrapping established legislative procedures that stoked outrage amongst critics.

Foreign political and diplomatic pressure over human rights concerns is rising, too. As well as recent statements from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his British and German counterparts, some 11 European Union envoys met Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to protest formally.

“It’s a proposal, or a set of proposals, which strike a terrible blow … against the rule of law, against Hong Kong’s stability and security, against Hong Kong’s position as a great international trading hub,” Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, said on Thursday (Jun 6).

Some opposition politicians say the issue now represents a turning point for the city’s free status.

READ: Hong Kong shops, workers in rare strike to ‘defend freedom’

WILL THE GOVERNMENT DROP THE BILL?

Lam and her key officials have been strident in defending the bill both publicly and privately, stressing the need for action in the Taiwan murder and the need to plug a loophole.

Protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019. (Photo CNA reader)

They also insist broad safeguards mean that anyone at risk of political or religious persecution or who faces torture will not be extradited. Likewise, no one who faces the death penalty will be extradited. China denies accusations of human rights abuses.

While they have raised the threshold to serious crimes only, and excluded nine specific economic offences, there is no hint yet that they will actually scrap the plan. They have also not announced more extensive consultations given the potentially grave repercussions.

Chinese officials have also now publicly supported the Hong Kong government in the face of diplomatic pressure, saying it has become a sovereign issue.

Some opposition politicians believe the Hong Kong government position is finally wavering, however, and Beijing may allow it to climb down if enough people hit the streets.

5 killed, thousands stranded as heavy rain lashes south China – CNA

SHANGHAI: Thousands of people have been stranded and at least five killed amid torrential rain throughout central and southern China, with authorities bracing themselves for at least another four days of downpours, state media reported on Tuesday (Jun 11).

The official China Daily said floods had wiped out 10,800 hectares of crops and destroyed hundreds of houses in the Jiangxi province by Monday, with a total of 1.4 million people affected and direct economic losses amounting to 2.65 billion yuan (US$382 million).

In the region of Guangxi in the southwest, 20,000 households had their power cut and roads, bridges and other infrastructure were severely damaged, the China Daily said.

Rainfall in Jiangxi reached as much as 688ml, according to a notice by China’s meteorological administration. It said rain in parts of Jiangxi and Hunan had hit record highs for June.

The administration said rainstorms were expected to spread to Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan and Taiwan by Thursday. It also warned authorities to be on their guard against severe thunderstorms and the possibility of small rivers bursting their banks in coming days.

North Korea urges US to change ‘hostile policy’ on eve of summit anniversary – CNA

SEOUL: North Korean state media called on the United States on Tuesday (Jun 11) to “withdraw its hostile policy” towards Pyongyang or agreements made at a landmark summit in Singapore a year ago might become “a blank sheet of paper”.

The statement on state news agency KCNA, echoing a similar warning last week, reflected the stalemate since a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February collapsed.

At the Hanoi meeting, Washington sought a more immediate comprehensive denuclearisation deal while Pyongyang wanted a step-by-step process, and demanded the lifting of key economic sanctions in return for shutting down its Yongbyon nuclear complex, which the US refused.

READ: North Korea’s slain half-brother was a CIA informant: Report

Since Hanoi, Pyongyang has accused Washington of acting in “bad faith” and given it until the end of the year to change its approach.

“The arrogant and unilateral US policy will never work on the DPRK, which values sovereignty,” KCNA said. 

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The report said a four-point joint statement signed by Trump and Kim on Jun 12 last year pledging to work towards a new relationship “is in danger of being a blank sheet of paper because the US is turning a blind eye to its implementation”.

“There is a limit to the DPRK’s patience … now is the time for the US to withdraw its hostile policy concerning the DPRK,” it said.

READ: North Korea executes senior officials after Hanoi summit collapse: Report

READ: ‘Purged’ North Korean official appears at show with top leaders

Last month the North raised tensions in the region by firing short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday he believed talks between North and South Korea and between the North and the United States would resume soon.

He said during a state visit to Finland that talks were underway about a third summit between North Korea and the United States, “so I don’t think it’s a situation that needs a third country’s arrangement”.

READ: Hundreds of North Korean public execution sites identified: Survey

Trump said last week he looked forward to seeing Kim at the appropriate time.

Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend the G20 summit in Japan later this month and will then visit South Korea to meet Moon and coordinate efforts for the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Monday.

New SAF Hunter armoured fighting vehicle commissioned as Armour Formation turns 50 – The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Army has unveiled its latest armoured fighting vehicle (AFV), which boasts greater firepower, survivability and mobility.

Hailed as a centrepiece of the next-generation army, the vehicle – called the Hunter to represent the predatory spirit to sense, track, and pursue its prey – was commissioned at the Armour formation’s 50th anniversary parade on Tuesday (June 11).

Locally designed and developed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency with the Singapore Army and ST Engineering, the Hunter will progressively replace the army’s fleet of Ultra M113 armoured fighting vehicles, which have been in service since the 1970s.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen commissioned the Hunter at Sungei Gedong Camp.

Chief Armour Officer, Brigadier-General Yew Chee Leung, 42, said the Hunter is the army’s first fully-digitalised vehicle, incorporating smart digital technologies catered to modern-day soldiers.

A digital steering system, called drive-by-wire, allows the vehicle commander to take over the driving function if needed. Its weapons can be controlled via a touchscreen interface.

“So the way we drive and the way we fight have been fully digitalised. That’s what we mean when we say it is a fully-digitalised platform,” said BG Yew.

The Hunter is armed with a 30mm cannon, a 7.62mm machine gun, eight 76mm smoke grenade launchers, and two anti-tank guided missiles – the first time the missiles have been integrated into an armoured fighting vehicle.

Conceptualisation of the vehicle began in 2006. It is operated by a crew of three, namely the vehicle commander, gunner and the driver, in an integrated combat cockpit within the vehicle.

The Hunter is the army’s first armoured fighting vehicle to have such a cockpit, which allows the commander and gunner to operate a common set of controls, and the closed hatch design minimises the crew’s exposure to threats, especially in urban environments.

BG Yew said that the formation will train a core group of regulars and instructors this year, before starting training for full-time national servicemen and rolling out the vehicle for the 42nd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment next year.

“Not only do we see an enhanced capability and lethality in the Hunter AFV, we see enhancements to our operations and maintenance. Especially so when the vehicle is able to actively track and monitor its own status,” said Major Brandon Lim, 33, a weapon staff officer involved in the Hunter programme.

Algorithms can be used for predictive maintenance, increasing the efficiency of vehicle maintenance and management.

The Hunter crew can mobilise unmanned aerial and ground vehicles to gather reconnaissance and surveillance information remotely, with obvious advantages for stealth manoeuvres and its own protection.

The first locally developed armoured fighting vehicle, the Bionix, was rolled out in 1999.

Other senior military officers at the parade included Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, and Chief of Army, Major-General Goh Si Hou.

DSTA chief executive Tan Peng Yam, as well as the first batch of armour pioneers and early batches of national servicemen from the formation, were also present.

Kaplan Professional suspended from WSQ accreditation, SkillsFuture funding over ‘serious lapses’ – CNA

SINGAPORE: Kaplan Professional will be suspended as an approved training organisation under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) due to “serious lapses”, said SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) in a media release on Tuesday (Jun 11). 

The suspension covers a period of 12 months from Jul 1. 

During this period, it will not get funding from SSG for all WSQ courses. SSG is the agency that coordinates and implements the national SkillsFuture movement that provides Singaporeans with opportunities for training and lifelong learning. 

SSG did not elaborate on the lapses by Kaplan Professional. 

When asked, SSG said: “The outcome of SSG’s investigations and further audit checks indicated that Kaplan Professional’s conduct of WSQ assessments was not consistent with SSG’s guidelines for WSQ delivery.”

In response to CNA’s queries, Kaplan Singapore said it had conducted its own review after the SSG audit and found that several of its trainers had adopted assessment practices that were not in compliance with SSG’s standards.

“We accept and will comply with the requirements of SSG in the matter,” said Associate Professor Rhys Johnson, chief operating officer and provost of Kaplan Singapore.

“We are disappointed that such instances occurred despite a rigorous programme implemented over past months aimed at ensuring such non-compliance could not occur for WSQ courses,” he added. 

“We apologise sincerely for any inconvenience this may cause impacted learners.”

In its media release, SSG said Kaplan Professional was previously suspended from delivering courses under the Leadership and People Management WSQ framework for six months in December 2018.

In March 2019, SSG conducted further investigations into its delivery of other WSQ courses and found “serious lapses” by the training provider.

“SSG takes a serious view of any individual, training provider or organisation which does not adhere to our guidelines for WSQ delivery, and will not hesitate to act against those who contravene our guidelines,” said the agency. 

“This is necessary to maintain the quality of WSQ courses.”

WHAT SHOULD KAPLAN PROFESSIONAL’S STUDENTS DO?

Kaplan Professional currently offers WSQ programmes like workplace skills, as well as business and financial management.

Those enrolled in courses that are scheduled to start after Jun 30 can contact Kaplan Professional for alternative arrangements.

“Kaplan Professional is required to place them with other WSQ approved training organisations to minimise disruption in their learning,” said SSG. 

Kaplan Singapore added that they are putting in place a plan to facilitate any necessary transition arrangements and ensure that those affected will be able to continue their training. 

It also said that the audit and withdrawal impacts only WSQ courses at Kaplan Professional.

“All other courses will operate as per normal …” the private institution said. 

North Korean leader’s slain half-brother was a CIA informant – Wall Street Journal – Yahoo Singapore News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The Journal cited an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter” for the report, and said many details of Kim Jong Nam’s relationship with the CIA remained unclear.

Reuters could not independently confirm the story. The CIA declined to comment.

The Journal quoted the person as saying “There was a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam.

“Several former U.S. officials said the half brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country’s inner workings,” the Journal said.

The former officials also said Kim Jong Nam had been almost certainly in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China’s, the Journal said.

Kim Jong Nam’s role as a CIA informant is mentioned in a new book about Kim Jong Un, “The Great Successor,” by Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield that is due to be published on Tuesday. Fifield says Kim Jong Nam usually met his handlers in Singapore and Malaysia, citing a source with knowledge of the intelligence.

The book says that security camera footage from Kim Jong Nam’s last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel elevator with an Asian-looking man who was reported to be a U.S. intelligence agent. It said his backpack contained $120,000 in cash, which could have been payment for intelligence-related activities, or earnings from his casino businesses.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said the North Korean authorities had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.

Two women were charged with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysia released Doan Thi Huong, who is Vietnamese, in May, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March.

According to the Journal, the person said Kim Jong Nam had travelled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of the trip.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore last June, seeming to build personal goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift U.S. sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

(This story has been refilled to correct “Ki’s” to “his”, paragraph 8)

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and David Brunnstrom; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

2-year-old girl in China with smartphone addiction develops severe myopia of 900 degrees – AsiaOne

How much screen time should a child get? 

Parents of a toddler in China were alarmed to learn that their daughter’s eyesight was ruined by her smartphone addiction.

The two-year-old girl from Jiangsu, known as Xiao Man, was recently diagnosed with severe myopia after her parents took her to see a doctor.

According to Chinese media reports, Xiao Man started watching shows on the phone since she was a year old.

Her parents were not strict with her screen time and they often let her use the device for long periods as it was the only thing that kept her quiet whenever she was acting up. 


As time passed, the girl’s parents noticed that she was frowning and squinting while watching shows on the electronic device, and often rubbing her eyes.

At first, they chalked the behaviour down to a bad habit but decided to take her to the doctors for a second opinion. 

To their shock, their daughter was diagnosed with severe myopia (nearly 900 degrees). The doctors informed the family that the condition was irreversible, and her eyesight could get worse as she grows up.

Doctors also shared that the girl’s case was due to prolonged and premature usage of electronic devices.

They advised parents of young children to restrict their use of smartphones or tablets — kids under the age of three should not use them, while children between three and six years old should only get up to 30 minutes of screen time daily.

ALSO READ: My child has myopia: 600 degrees by Primary 1

kimberlyfoo@asiaone.com