MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST & HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST PROF DR JACOB GEORGE WELCOMES NEW POLICY DIRECTIVE ON CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL!

MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST & HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST PROF DR JACOB GEORGE  WELCOMES NEW POLICY DIRECTIVE ON CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL!

No two ways about this as I and the Consumers Association of Subang & Shah Alam (CASSA) @ CASSA MALAYSIA – today warmly welcomed Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announcement that cigarette prices are set to go up next month, while the minimum age to purchase alcohol will be raised from 18 to 21.

The policy implementation and its fast track implementation is critical to prevent shops selling alcohol, as well as the products, will also be required to display a sign stating that alcohol can be harmful to a person’s health!

The move must be enforced with political will as under existing regulations, though cigarette boxes are already displaying notices that smoking can be harmful to health neither that nor the increasing prices has stopped the consumption of this despicable habit!

In this respect we also welcome the implementation of the sales and services tax (SST) which requires prices of all tobacco products to be raised, which is in line with the Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 2004 and a stand by the global community in their war against the tobacco industry!

The latest measures came amid a tougher stance by the Health Ministry on smoking.

CASSA also appeals that the decision to implement and declare all restaurants as no-smoking zones to be brought forward to December 1st this year!

In view to this, CASSA also calls for tighter surveillance and addressing the smuggling of both contraband cigarettes and liquor across our porous border in the north and west of the country!

Unless we have committed security apparatus and assets at our border areas this new implementation will result in great levels of smuggling by organized crime groups and cartels.

CASSA CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF RESCUERS!

“Nothing short of a comprehensive investigation and inquiry by independent experts and whose findings if found to contain recklessness, criminal breach and a lack of duty of care must result in action against those who are vicariously responsible no matter how high the chain of command!”

CASSA CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF RESCUERS!

CASSA refers to the reports that – ‘Six firemen killed in mining pool tragedy complied with SOP’

The six fire and rescue personnel who drowned during a search and rescue (SAR) mission for a missing teenager in a disused mining pond in Taman Putra Perdana, Puchong, recently had complied with the stipulated standard operating procedures (SOP), so says Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) director-general Mohammad Hamdan Wahid!

And are all Malaysians expected to accept that version as it stands or are we allowed to challenge in the public interest that narrative?

Seriously there are many terminologies used interchangeably but what is the truth?

Was this a rescue effort as presented in all media blitz?

Based on the narrative it is CASSA’s belief based on CASSA rescue experts that this was never by the stretch of any ones wild imagination a rescue operation.

Why do CASSA experts take this stand?

If the boy fell in at 5pm as reported and his friends did not see him surfacing anywhere, the common presumption and fact remains that by all reasons and means he was already dead by 5.05, before they called 999, and the arrival of the rescue team.

The fact then remains that this was a recovery operation from the get-go.

When one audits critically the process it is questionable whether whosoever the person in charge was did not have enough knowledge, experience or common sense to make a good decision.

This allegation is supported by a fact!

And that fact is that the victim’s body was found 800m downriver the next day, which meant that whosoever was in charge of the operations did not even bother to ascertain that they were looking in the right place!

It was already 9pm when the water rescue team started searching.

At that stage the deceased boy had already been dead for a full 4 hours.

So can someone please explain to us in the public interests and sphere, how could Mohammad Hamdan Wahid, the Director-General, with a straight face go on record stating this as possibly a rescue?

Does he not know that the common person cannot survive for more than 5 minutes underwater unless they are specially trained security and rescue professionals?

Then there is there another inexplicable fact that the men formed a human chain hoping to bump into the corpse with their legs which gives the perception, rightly or wrongly, that this was a recovery operation.

So once again, the statements of the DG were at best misleading!

Why?

If whosoever made that decision knew that the boy was already dead and that this was a recovery, it was totally negligent and super reckless of him to send in a team for something that could well have waited till the morning.

To make matters worse and add to the confusion, there are allegations that the men did not have the right equipment, were unsure of the right technique, and were not even looking in the right place!

What we have as a result of what some independent experts consider reckless and criminal blunder was six good men died a premature death!

If that was not enough, we have reported statements and allegations made in alleged self-preservation whose actions can be deduced as closing ranks?

It is hilarious to state that the dead rescuers were sent in because there was a chance of rescue.

Seriously is that the narrative?

What is further inexplicable is the outburst of the deputy Minister of Law, who comes into the narrative telling the world at large to stop pointing fingers and what happened was beyond anybody’s control, even without any well-established and comprehensive investigation by an independent body along the lines of a coroner’s investigation.

If that is not enough there are other ingenious statements that can only survive in a context such as Malaysia and in any other global capital, will result in an outcry, a fast tracked public hearing and the dismissal of those responsible and others alleged to have tried to play down or cover up what is considered as a travesty of justice!

In those jurisdictions, may I remind our policymakers there can also be calls for manslaughter charges and of conspiracy to cover up!

For the record, it is sad and hurting that six unquestionably heroes, young men, between the ages of 24 and 34 years lost their lives in what is bizarre!

Indeed, what a tragedy, and what a loss.

To the families, they have that small consolation that their sons, husbands, or brothers gave their lives in carrying out their duties to the nation!

But we ask that there be more!

Nothing short of a comprehensive investigation and inquiry by independent experts and whose findings if found to contain recklessness, criminal breach and a lack of duty of care must result in action against those who are vicariously responsible no matter how high the chain of command!

MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST & HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS THESE KILLINGS OF JOURNALISTS ARE EMBARRASSING EUROPEAN UNION!

“But premature political statements which are insensitive and goes against any tenet of law and order, let alone, investigations surrounding any homicide, should not discount any possibility, let alone, causal link and circumstantial evidence!”

MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST & HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS THESE KILLINGS OF JOURNALISTS ARE EMBARRASSING EUROPEAN UNION!

It was also among the founding nations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1975.

Yes, Bulgaria signed the European Union Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005, and became a full member of the European Union on 1 January 2007.

But lots have happened since!

Many of us will not be shocked, that Bulgaria today ranked 111 out of 180 countries in the Reporters without Borders world press freedom index this year!

And that means that Bulgaria is lower than any other EU member and also lower than other countries in the western Balkans, and ironically, some of which are candidates for EU membership.

No reasons to guess, why either?

But the sadness is that this time last year investigative journalist par excellence, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known was killed when a powerful bomb blew up her car!

Then inexplicably, we had another when Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead in February this year!

Fast forward October the body of 30-year-old Viktoria Marinova was found in a park in Ruse on Saturday.

We are advised that the authorities there identified her only by her initials.

She is alleged to have been raped and murdered!
Viktoria Marinova was a journalist who reported on an investigation into alleged high powered corruption involving European Union funds!

But premature political statements which are insensitive and goes against any tenet of law and order, let alone investigations surrounding any homicide, should not discount any possibility, let alone causal link and circumstantial evidence!

It is a basic kindergarten SOP – without full exhaustive and comprehensive investigation just – shut up!

But according to reports from friends in diplomatic and investigative circles, there is strong suspicion that the murder was related to Marinova’s work!

Of course, we have concession political statements we see in any country post such an event, where politicians play – “silap mata politics!”

So yes – Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is reported to have told reporters that he is convinced it is a matter of time before the murder would be revealed.

That the best criminologists were sent to Ruse!

So the world waits!

For the record, Marinova, who was a board member of the Ruse-based TV station TVN – one of the most popular TV channels in northeastern Bulgaria – is the third journalist to have been murdered in the European Union in a year.

Something must be super rotten and scary in Bulgaria!

MALAYSIA, ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST HUMAN RIGHTS CZAR DR JACOB GEORGE – ON YEMEN’S FORGOTTEN WAR?

“Now who are these shenanigans behind the arms trade?
Prominent are the industry players from the UK, USA, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain!– Dr Jacob George”

MALAYSIA, ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST HUMAN RIGHTS CZAR DR JACOB GEORGE – ON YEMEN’S FORGOTTEN WAR?

This is super sickening and the super heights of moral and spiritual decay and the world’s hypocrisy!

And why do I scream such?

Are you aware that the world has turned its back over the past years on a growing humanitarian crisis?

Are you aware that on 25 March 2015, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Yemen sparking a full-blown armed conflict?

And over the following year, the conflict has spread and fighting has engulfed the entire country.

As is the result of such tragedies, there are horrific human rights abuses, as well as war crimes, being committed throughout the country and the victims and collateral damage of such heinous crimes are again innocent suffering civilians.

I am advised that the strategy of this illegal war is by two fronts namely – relentless bombardment by coalition forces from the air, and a battle being fought on the ground between rival factions.

And who are the players here?

We have the Huthis on one side, an armed group whose members belong to a branch of Shi’a Islam known as Zayidism.

They are aligned with supporters of Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

And of course, the opponents are the anti-Huthi forces that are allied with the current President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Saudi Arabian-led coalition.

And in the middle caught between these warring factions’ innocent, helpless, exposed, vulnerable civilians and noncombatants!

The DNA of all wars fought throughout history!
As I write this piece, with information from friends and international NGOs, like Amnesty International another aerial bombing has taken place killing children and civilians in a hospital!

You read right – a hospital!

It is sheer hypocrisy and religious apartheid that the worlds puritans and selective breeders of foreign affairs deliberations, have remained in comatose as thousands of civilians are trapped in the middle – thousands killed and injured and a humanitarian crisis has spiraled.

These are the bastards of politics and in high political office!

Are you aware – that over a year, stakeholders of the world has ignored this raging conflict and heard little about its devastating consequences?

Is it because there is no oil here to manipulate?

Is it because Yemen is an extremely poor country?

Is it because, we have vested interests and politicians sucking up and kissing the asses of Saudi Arabia’s bourgeoisie, for various strategic interests of certain pariah nations preaching something but practicing another?

War is one thing, but, when various invading forces impose a partial aerial and naval blockade on areas under Huthi control to cut off supplies, it is creating a situation of genocide, by severely limiting the import and provision of fuel and other essentials, obstructing access to food, water, humanitarian assistance and medical supplies and causing food prices to soar, creating a desperate situation for millions of people.

That is not all, as there is widespread damage and destruction to key logistical infrastructure, including bridges, airports and seaports, has also severely hampered the movement of crucial humanitarian supplies.

I am not partial to any group here, and I acknowledge receiving information and data that even the Huthi armed group and allied forces have endangered the lives of thousands of civilians in the southern city of Ta’iz by blocking the entry of crucial medical supplies and food in recent months.

And the result is the same; we have seen in all conflict territories throughout the world, the last being in Syria!

With no medical supplies, no resources – hospitals just shut down, or being targets of attacks, creating a platform where civilians and others face death!

Hospitals, that still are open, if any, – very vulnerable due to a lack of supplies.

And similar, to all conflict territories – there are growing human rights abuses by all sides!

I am advised, that dedicated and committed friends at Amnesty International, have gathered evidence revealing that all the parties to this conflict have committed violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

For the record, there is comprehensive data of more than 30 air strikes across six different governorates (Sana’a, Sa’da, Hajjah, Hodeidah, Ta’iz and Lahj) by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, that appear to have violated international humanitarian law – the rules that apply during a conflict, which are sometimes known as the “laws of war” – resulting in 366 civilian deaths (more than half of whom were women and children) and 272 civilian injuries.

I must reiterate here as an attorney and expert in International law, that these included attacks, that appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects, such as hospitals, schools, markets and mosques, which may amount to war crimes.

My embarrassing and disgust is, that despite these war crimes, many countries and their merchants of war, have continued to sell and transfer weapons to Saudi Arabia and its coalition members, for use in the conflict.

And yes, these arms have also been diverted into the hands of Huthi and other armed groups fighting in Yemen.

Now who are these shenanigans behind the arms trade?
Prominent are the industry players from the UK, USA, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain!

A reported licenses and sales to Saudi Arabia worth more than $25bn in 2015 including drones, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles.

The hypocrisy and irony here is these states are parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, which has the aim of “reducing human suffering” and which makes it unlawful to transfer weapons where there is a high risk they could be used to commit serious violations of international law.

From this part of the emerging world voices, I lend my voice to Amnesty International and OXFAM, who are appealing to all states, to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied – directly or indirectly – with weapons, ammunition, military equipment or technology that could be used in the conflict, until they end such serious violations.

This certainly, also applies to logistical and financial support for such transfers.

I appeal to the decision makers and stakeholders of conscience, if there are any left in these jurisdictions of UK, USA, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, please intervene, to stop the unraveling tragedy!

And to other governments and political pretenders without backbone or spine, whose governments always are racially and religiously selective, in addressing war crimes and carnage, in line with the silos based religious interpretations and political interest, please do get off your backsides, and lend your voice to end, yet another international tragedy without fear of favor!