Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lured by Korean movie led to murder of N Korean supreme commander's half brother Kim Jong-nam


‘Siti told me she was in a North Korean movie’


A divorcee who has been arrested as one of the suspects in the high-profile murder of North Korean exile Kim Jong-nam was able to speak Korean and had always wanted to go to North Korea.

Deadly ‘prank’: Siti Aisyah.

From the slums of Jakarta, the 25-year-old Siti Aisyah moved to the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur and has now become embroiled in a high-profile murder that gripped the world’s attention.

 
A man walks past a house (red color) where Indonesian woman Siti Aishah, a suspect in the murder of Kim Jong Nam, used to live in Tambora district in Jakarta, Indonesia. - AFP

She had told her friends and family in Indonesia that she had been invited to act in a movie.

“She said the shooting would take place in North Korea,” a friend of Siti Aisyah told Detik.com, an Indonesian portal.

However, she did not give family and friends the details.

“I don’t know the details, she just said it was for a DPR office (North Korea). We ordinary people just listened to what she was saying,” said the friend, identified only as AZ.

Siti Aisyah is one of the two women who allegedly attacked Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with a deadly chemical.

Siti Aisyah worked as a guest relations officer (GRO) at a spa in Ampang although she told folks in Indonesia that she had a job “selling tickets”.

Her nightlife job was hidden from her family in Indonesia, where she has a seven-year-old son named Rio. Rio lives with her former in-laws.

But one thing that Siti Aisyah’s mother Benah did know was that her daughter could speak English and Korean.

“I never knew she worked in Malaysia,” said Benah, 50, who thought her daughter was selling clothes at a market in Batam after divorcing her husband, Gunawan Hasyin alias Ajun.

She said that the last time Siti Aisyah went back to her village in Serang, near Jakarta, was on Jan 21. Aisyah had been sending money to Benah.

“Usually it’s 500,000 rupiah (RM170). But not every month,” Benah told the news portal.

Siti Aisyah’s mother-in-law Lian Kiong or Akiong, 56, told Indonesian Foreign Ministry officials yesterday that she and her family had no relationship with her since she divorced her husband Gunawan Hasyim.

A sealed handwritten letter of the divorce note dated Feb 1, 2012 was presented to the Foreign Ministry yesterday.

Signed by Siti Aisyah and Gunawan, with her then employer Lian Kiong as witness, the letter said the couple had opted for a divorce as they no longer “had the compatibility and harmony of husband and wife”.

Lian Kiong said that following the divorce, Siti Aisyah hardly visited her in-laws in Tambora in West Jakarta, and only came around once a year to meet Rio.

“After the divorce, she never came around. The last time she came was on Jan 28.

“She came and stayed for the night. She spent the night with my grandson and left the next day,” Lian Kiong was quoted as saying.

She added that Siti Aisyah’s son had previously even refused to meet his mother because he knew she would leave eventually.

According to another Indonesian news portal Kumparan, based on identification records held by her village of birth in Angke, west Jakarta, she had two separate entries, complete with different photos.

In the first one, her name is spelt as “Siti Aisyah” with information saying she was born in Serang, Indonesia, on Feb 11, 1992. In the accompanying picture, her hair is tied in a ponytail.

In the second entry, her name was written as “Siti Aisah” and her date of birth is listed as Nov 1, 1989. In this picture, her hair is worn loose.

The ID (identification) numbers as well as her occupation on both entries differed.

As “Siti Aisyah”, she listed her occupation as entrepreneur; as “Siti Aisah”, she listed her occupation as housewife.

Kumparan quoted Angke village head Dwi Ariyono as saying he did not know why Siti Aisyah had two separate IDs.

Siti Aisyah was arrested at a hotel in Ampang on Thursday after she was identified on CCTV footage from KL International Airport 2 (KLIA2).

Among the items seized by police in the room included three US$100 notes.

She was the second suspect detained for allegedly murdering Jong-nam. The first suspect was a woman who held a Vietnamese passport, identifying her as Doan Thi Huong, 28.

Siti Aisyah’s boyfriend, Muham­mad Farid Jalaluddin, 26, was also arrested on Wednesday.

Indonesian deputy ambassador to Malaysia Andreano Erwin said that the embassy in Kuala Lumpur had been unable to meet Siti Aisyah as of yesterday afternoon.

“We are still waiting for permission from the Malaysian authorities to see her,” he said.

Source:  The Star/ANN

https://youtu.be/UxZIqvTQPoA

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 Assassins wipe, wash and flee the scene 
North Korea to reject Jong-nam’s autopsy report, says envoy

 

Killer women recruited by a man three months ago

 

Deadly ‘prank’: Siti Aisyah in this file picture. — Detik.com >>

The two women suspected to have murdered North Korean Kim Jong-nam were allegedly “recruited” by a man to carry out the deadly task as early as three months ago.

According to a report by China Press, both Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 29, were not North Korean “special agents” but were possibly duped by a spy ring to commit the assassination.

China Press reported that the mystery man, believed to be a spy, got to know Thi Huong about three months ago in Malaysia, and she eventually became his escort.

The man took her on several overseas trips, including to Vietnam, where they visited her hometown and another trip to South Korea.

The man then introduced Thi Huong to the four men still wanted by police in connection with the killing.

The man got to know Siti Aisyah about a month ago, but only introduced the two women to each other recently when he told them about a “prank “ he wanted them to pull.

The two women have claimed that they had no idea that it would lead to trouble as they thought it was only supposed to be a filming of the prank.

They apparently rehearsed the “spoof” many times and were able to carry out the process proficiently.

The report also said that Siti Aisyah was tasked with using a handkerchief to cover Jong-nam’s face while Thi Huong administered an injection.

China Press reported that Siti Aisyah claimed she was paid US$100 (RM445) to pull off the “prank”.

Jong-nam, 45, was killed by two women who splashed his face with a chemical at the KLIA2 departure hall at about 9am on Monday as he was about to leave for Macau. - The Star

On the trail of a killer called Thi Huong

 


KUALA LUMPUR: The woman known as Doan Thi Huong stayed in cheap hotels, carried a wad of cash and cut her hair a day before the murder of North Korean exile Kim Jong-nam.

 

Doan Thi Huong

According to the receptionist at one of the hotels, the woman left early in the morning on Monday, the day of the assassination.

Thi Huong had told police she had been duped into what she thought was a harmless practical joke.

However, staff at two hotels near the airport gave details of Thi Huong’s movements before the killing that appeared both calm and deliberate.

On Saturday, Feb 11, she went first to Qlassic Hotel.

A staff member said she stayed in the cheapest room, which had no windows.

“I remember she wanted to extend her stay here, and was ready to pay with a stack of money in her hand,” said another member of the Qlassic’s staff, a front-desk employee identified only as Sia.

On Sunday, Thi Huong checked into the CityView Hotel, arriving with a suitcase, a backpack and a large teddy bear, the receptionist said, adding that Thi Huong spoke understandable English.

She borrowed a pair of scissors from the front desk the evening before the attack, and a member of housekeeping staff found hair on the floor and in the waste basket the next day.

“She found the scissors on the room desk. There was hair strewn on the floor in the room, (Thi Huong) had thrown some in the bin but there was still a mess,” the receptionist said.

She said the next day, Thi Huong had on the shirt she was seen wearing in an airport CCTV grab that has earned her the nickname “LOL Girl” in Malaysian media.

Thi Huong was out for much of Monday morning and, on her return, she seemed “relaxed” and “didn’t look angry or worried”.

She complained about the Wi-Fi in her room and when she was told it could not be fixed until the afternoon, she checked out and left.

She then checked into the nearby SkyStar Hotel and left after one night, an employee said.

She was arrested on Wednesday morning, about 48 hours after the murder, in the same terminal where Jong-nam was attacked.

“Do her movements indicate she was an intelligence operative, then I would say yes,” said a private investigator in Kuala Lumpur.

“That is how they operate. Change of appearance, cash transactions, no paper trail and constantly on the move.” — Reuters

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Electrical cables & wires: uncertified and substandard items are dangerous!

Deadly live wires: Mohamed Idris showing electrical cables, a smartphone power adapter, a portable charger and an electrical socket splitter that do not carry Sirim labels.

GEORGE TOWN: Consumers are at risk of home fires or being electrocuted because an alarming number of electrical products not certified by Sirim Bhd are being sold openly, claims the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP).

CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said items like current converters, power adapters, chargers for computers and rechargeable batteries should be regulated as they handle electricity supplies at 240 volts and are potential explosives or could be fire hazards.

He expressed shock that the List of Regulated Electrical Equipment drafted by the Energy Commission (EC) does not include many common products.

“Even most electric cables do not have either EC or Sirim approval,” he said in a press conference at CAP’s office in Jalan Masjid Negeri yesterday.

He said the Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia (TEEAM) recently warned that many everyday electric cables in the market are made from poor quality materials.

“These substandard electric cables are prone to overheating and catching fire,” he said.

Mohamed Idris said despite stringent regulations, they find it surprising that electrical goods without EC or Sirim approval are being imported.

He urged EC and Sirim to review and expand their list of regulated products. “Authorities should also raid the market for electrical products that carry fake EC or Sirim certification,” he added. - The Star


http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/incaseoffire/incaseoffire.mp4

 

Ensure electrical cables are Sirim approved, homeowners told


PETALING JAYA: Homeowners should check the type of electrical cables used in their houses to ensure no substandard wires are installed.

Substandard cables are likely to cause fire-related accidents, said The Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia vice president Stan Lim.

“There is a huge price difference between high quality cables and those of poor quality, so owners should first check the quotation to see if the price is too good to be true.

“During renovations, for example, they should check the wiring material themselves and make sure they are approved by Sirim,” he said when contacted.

Sirim is a national organisation that determines standards and quality of products.

Lim explained that common conductors for electrical cables consisted of copper and aluminium, but substandard wires contained other metals.

Because of that, electrical conductivity through substandard cables would be poor, eventually leading to overheating and fire.

“Substandard cables do not go through stringent checks like the quality ones.

“They are not designed, constructed, test-approved, installed or used in accordance with the right standards and specification,” he said.

Lim also urged consumers to only engage contractors who were certified by the Energy Commission or a government authority, as there were unscrupulous contractors looking to make quick money.

“Industry players need to uphold ethical practices, and ensure that they only use certified products for their clients.

“Homeowners should also be vigilant, as wrongly executed wiring or extension can cause overload and heating, which could start a fire,” he said.

The Star highlighted recently on the need to avoid using substandard cables, which, according to Lim, were already flooding the market.

At the time, Lim advised houseowners to also test the residual circuit breaker every month.

“Open up the board, look for the button with the “T” and test it every month by pressing the button.

“If it causes the electricity to trip, then it is working. Then, push it back. If it is not working, it will need to be replaced,” he said.

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Substandard cables can cause fire in homes, says association

http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/howtofireproof/howtofireproof.mp4

http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/incaseoffire/incaseoffire.mp4


PETALING JAYA: Houseowners have been advised to ensure that the electrical cables they use in their homes meet the required standards because substandard cables can cause fires.

The advice comes from the Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia (TEEAM), which cautions that a lot of poor quality material has flooded the market.

“The common conductors for electrical cable are mainly made of copper and aluminum but some of the substandard wires are made of other metal.

“If other materials are used instead of the two, the electrical conductivity is not good and this will lead to overheating and fire,” said association vice-president Stan Lim in an interview.

Lim said substandard cables were not designed, constructed, test-approved, installed or used in accordance with the prescribed standards and specification.

On Monday, four people died in a fire which razed a double-storey terrace house in Subang Jaya.

Lim said that people should use cables that are certified and professionally recognised for the specific application and avoid using undersized and non-Sirim approved cables. Sirim is a national organisation that determines standards and quality of products.

He advised those doing house renovations to use contractors certified by the Energy Commission or a government authority.

A wiring or electrical extension plan that was not done properly could cause an overload and heating, and trigger a fire.

A spokesman from the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department was reported as saying that the department was alerted about the incident at Jalan USJ 2/3 at about 5.30am and 80% of the house was completely burnt by the time they arrived.

Lim also said houseowners should also test the residual circuit breaker every month.

“Open up the board, look for the button with the “T” and test it every month by pressing the button.

“If it causes the electricity to trip, then it is working. Then, push it back. If it is not working, it will need to be replaced,” he said.

Standards Users Association of Malaysia CEO Ratna Devi said that the cable industry had revealed that copper wires are now expensive and some of the imported ones used uncertified mixed materials, with compromised insulation properties or fake certification.

“These are fire hazards because they cannot conduct electricity well. Consumers often are not aware of this as they did not buy the cables for their homes. So, for renovations, they need to ensure that they use a licensed contractor for wiring,” she said.

Ratna said consumers should also make sure that any electrical appliance they buy is certified and should have the Energy Commission and Sirim’s sticker on it.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/02/09/substandard-cables-can-cause-fire-in-homes-says-association/~/media/dc1ef24442034b63b72397fd309ec875.ashx


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Korean web of intrigue: Malaysia hunting for Kim Jong-nam murder


https://youtu.be/ITyz-X1p_Kc
https://youtu.be/2cZesArmqDY
https://youtu.be/AhUV9G5slDQ
https://youtu.be/TRk-w6PlYhA

Two women suspects in Kim Jong-nam assassination remanded for seven days

KUALA LUMPUR: Two women arrested in connected with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, have been remanded for seven days.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Seri Abdul Samah Mat said the two women have been remanded until Feb 21 to assist in the investigations.

One of the women has a Vietnam passport bearing the name Doan Thi Huong while the other has an Indonesian passport bearing the name Siti Aishah.

“They have been remanded. So far, there is no press conference as a press statement have been issued. We will update if there is anymore development,” Abdul Samah told The Star Online.

At 11.05am, Magistrate Sharifah Muhaymin Abd Khalib was at the Sepang police headquarters to grant the police's application to remand the woman with the Vietnam passport.

Jong-nam, 45, was killed by two women who splashed his face with a chemical at the KLIA2 departure hall at about 9am on Monday. He was about to leave for Macau.

The women later got into a taxi and fled.

One of the women, who has the Vietnam passport, was arrested at the airport on Wednesday when she tried to board a flight out.

The woman with the Indonesian passport was arrested at 2am on Thursday.

Police are looking for four men who were in the company of the two women at the airport when Jong-nam was killed.

By Farik Zolkepli and Joash Ee De Silva The Star/|ANN

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Call on the Government to downsize the country’s bloated civil service

Sheriff: ‘Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy

KUALA LUMPUR: One of Malaysia’s former top civil servants has called on the Government to consider downsizing the country’s bloated civil service, while it still can.

Malaysia has the highest civil servants to population ratio in the Asia-Pacific, employing 1.6 million people or 11% of the country’s labour force.

And that could be a problem Malaysia may not be able to sustain if it runs into a financial crisis, said Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, the former Finance Ministry secretary-general and Economic Planning Unit director-general.

He said if the Government was really set on keeping the national deficit at 3%, it needed to look at retrenching employees, particularly in the lower levels of the civil service, to cut spending.

“Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy. There are just too many rules and regulations that the public and private sector have to live with,” he told a delegation of economists, politicians and government officials at the Malaysian Economic Association’s forum on public sector governance.

He advised Malaysia to begin downsizing the civil service, “better sooner than later” if it wanted to avoid running the risk of falling into a Greece-like crisis, where the European country had to cut salaries and was unable to pay pensions for its civil service.

Drawing examples from the recent Malaysia Airlines restructuring, where 6,000 people were retrenched, Mohd Sheriff said it was better to let staff go now and compensate them with retrenchment packages while the Government can still afford it.

“It may cost the Government a heavy expenditure now but it is worthwhile to do it now while we can still afford it and not until we are forced into a financial crisis like Greece.

“We don’t want to be in that situation. I think we should do it gradually. It is kinder to do it now with incentives than to suddenly cut their salaries and pensions at a time when they can least afford it,” he said.

Malaysia is expected to spend RM76bil in salaries and allowances for the civil service this year, on top of another RM21bil for pensions. Efficiency and corruption dominated talks on the civil service at the forum, held at Bank Negara’s Sasana Kijang.

Mohd Sheriff, who is also former president of the Malaysian Economic Association, said these issues have been around since his time in the civil service decades ago though not much has changed due to a lack of political will.

In jest, he suggested Malaysia emulate United States President Donald Trump’s idea on downsizing the US civil service by closing down two departments of the Government if it wanted to open another one.

He also suggested that Parliament create a committee to monitor the performance of top civil servants and give them the ability to retrench these officers if they fail to meet their marks.

“In many countries, even Indonesia, they have committees to hold Government leaders to any shortcomings on policy implementations and projects.

“These are the kinds of checks and balance we need to make our civil servants aware that they are being monitored for their work and they can be pulled out at any time,” he said.

Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani had said Malaysia’s ratio of civil servants is one to 19.37 civilians and that the high number of Government staff had caused expenditures to balloon yearly.

As a comparison, the ratio in Indonesia is 1:110, in China it is 1:108, in Singapore it’s 1:71.4 and in South Korea the ratio is 1:50.

Despite this, Johari said there were no plans to reduce the number of civil servants.

By Nicholas Ccheng The Star

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For the love of Datuk titles

Zunar’s cartoon reflects the glut of titles in society. Image from Aliran Monthly.

IF there’s one Malaysian practice that needs reviewing, it has to be this – the long salutations, thanks to the titles of prominent individuals, at the start of speeches during functions.

I can never understand why addressing the audience as “distinguished guests” isn’t good enough. Surely, the audience would be happy to be called distinguished. Or maybe even just “Ladies and Gentlemen”.

Malaysians, however, have to cringe and listen to speakers formally addressing each and every titled person at functions.

We begin with “Tan Sri Tan Sri, Puan Sri Puan Sri, Datuk Seri Datuk Seri, Datin Seri Datin Seri, Datuk Datuk, Datin Datin and distinguished guests”.

And this before the speaker even begins honouring the more important guests by actually naming them one by one, along with their long titles, honorifics and designations.

All these can take up to 10 minutes before the person finally gets to the actual speech.

Welcome to Malaysia. This is another practice which reflects our obsession with formality and titles. It may sound medieval and strange to visitors to Malaysia but this is the done thing here, presumably because some ego-inflated titled individual got offended when his title was not mentioned in a speech.

But alas, the whole thing has become a mockery of sorts. The intention, good as it may be, is actually offensive to the other equally important guests, those with no titles.

They have ended up at the bottom of the pack, in the category of “tuan tuan dan puan puan” or “ladies and gentlemen.” To put it in perspective, without us realising, this is like the category of “dan lain-lain” or “others” which many Malaysians have stood up against.

One would understand it if such a practice is carried out in a palace where protocols are strictly adhered to but surely, not in ordinary functions?

For one, it takes up precious time when most of us just want to get on with the business of the day or in many instances, get on with the dinner. Please, at 8.30pm, most of us are hungry already.

Many times, guests are made to wait, especially when the guest of honour arrives late. By the time the VIP gets there, and thanks to the long and winding speeches, dinner is finally served – at 9.30pm or 10pm.

One wonders why the VIP has to be ushered into a holding room – another peculiar Malaysian practice – before he makes his grand entrance into the ballroom.

I have attended enough events in Britain and the United States, where VIPs would just walk straight into the function hall without any fanfare.

In London, then mayor Boris Johnson cycled to the opening of a property development site and in Sydney, the mayor parked his car a short distance away and walked to the venue!

He introduced himself to his (very) surprised Malaysian audience – and of course, there was no entourage fussing around him to make him look important, another one of our local standard operating procedure.

To be fair, not all of our VIPs are spoilt silly. Sometimes, it is their officers who make a fuss over these formal arrangements to the event’s host.

Those in the royal circles, who have a career in protocol, push even harder – even when the heads of states themselves do not demand it. His Highness Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor does not even allow waiters to get the napkins ready for him before his meals, insisting on doing it himself.

The Ruler drives his own car often to functions and tells his police motorcade not to put the sirens on because to him, there was no need to put on such a display of importance.

The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, sportingly poses for selfies with his subjects often, sending his security and protocol officers into a frenzy many times.

And most of the time, he drives his car himself. Often, he makes a stop and have a meal at roadside shops, without prior notice. For breakfast, he goes to a mamak restaurant for roti canai quite regularly, again without fuss or advance notice.

At the Cabinet level, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, the Minister of International Trade and Industry, is certainly the most down-to-earth minister from Umno.

Travellers taking the ERL from KL Sentral to KLIA often see Mustapa travelling alone or taking a flight on Economy Class home to Kelantan. He does not see the need to shout about it or have his officers post a picture on Instagram to get publicity.

Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar insisted on moving around on his own, without the need for bodyguards, when he was in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). The same can be said of Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who is now chief executive officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

Perhaps their non-political background helps but having said that, there are corporate figures who are even more status-conscious than politicians.

And seriously, what do Malaysian VIPs do with gifts or “token of appreciation” items presented to them at the end of every function? Yep, they are probably gathering dust in some room filled to the brim with other such items in Putrajaya.

At one time, there was a proposal that only a basket of fruits be given as it was more practical but it never got off the ground.

Likewise, this article will have no impact on the issue.

I wish to thank the “Tun Tun, Toh Puan Toh Puan, Tan Sri Tan Sri, Puan Sri Puan Sri, Datuk Seri Datuk Seri, Datin Seri Datin Seri, Datuk Datuk, Datin Datin, tuan tuan dan puan puan yang dihormati sekalian” for reading this.

On The Beat By Wong Chun Wai  

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group's managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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