A woman wore her mother-of-the-groom dress to the grocery store after the coronavirus prevented her from showing it off, Business Insider – Business Insider Malaysia

Ann Emge’s son Matt had to change his wedding plans because of the coronavirus.

Ann Emge

The 51-year-old mother told Insider that her son was supposed to have a 200-guest wedding on March 28, 2020, in Ohio, but the coronavirus prevented the event from happening.

The couple postponed their reception, but they had a small, 12-person wedding at Emge’s home on March 21.

Although it wasn’t the wedding they imagined, Emge’s family worked to make the day special for the newlyweds.

Axel Springer SE

“They got married at our house which is on a lake, so after the ceremony, they took a boat ride,” Emge said.

“The neighbors came out and cheered for them and made signs. Some people threw birdseed and rice at them. Some people set off fireworks for them and gave them gifts of toilet paper.”

“It was just a last-minute, really unexpected, fun thing,” she added.

Emge told Insider that before the couple officially postponed, she joked on Facebook that she would wear her dress to the grocery store if the wedding didn’t happen.

Business Insider

“It seemed like a joke the week before, but it was reality a week later,” she added.

The day after the small wedding, Emge wore her gown, which she ordered from Macy’s online, around her town.

Her daughter photographed her at different locations, where people were mostly delighted to see her ensemble.

Emge posed at a gas station, grocery store, and even pretended to fish in the gown.

Coronaviridae

“Most people were cracking up,” Emge said of people’s reactions to the gown, though the woman who checked her out at the grocery store was surprised by the look.

“It’s a country grocery store,” Emge said.

“So the checkout girl was like, ‘You’re a little overdressed for these parts.’”

“But once I told her the story, she was great,” Emge added.

Emge posed by the lake on her property.

Coronavirus

“It’s just been a fun experience,” she said of wearing the gown.

Emge also wore the dress to the Pittsburgh airport, where she works as a Delta agent.

Emges

“It was fun to wear it at the airport, just because it’s almost depressing to be there right now,” she said.

“It’s been so slow recently,” she added, as a result of the coronavirus.

She took photos throughout the airport, posing near different landmarks in the building.

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“I think people just enjoyed seeing something fun going on,” she said of everyone who saw her in the gown at the airport.

“Most people are afraid for their jobs and the industry, so it was just a distraction from the realities they were facing.”

Emge’s son is planning on having a wedding reception over the summer.

gas station

But since her gown is long-sleeved, Emge isn’t sure she’ll be able to wear it at the reception.

She also noted that they haven’t picked a firm date for the reception yet, as it’s still unclear when it will be safe for people to gather.

“It’s been a blessing for me to share the joy with other people about their marriage,” Emge said of the attention she’s received for wearing her gown.

Insider

“Through the whole process of planning their wedding, I really had to let go of any expectations I had because it was definitely their wedding and not mine,” Emge said of her son’s wedding.

“But this was really the icing on the cake because it was uncharted territory for all of us,” she said, speaking of having to reschedule.

“So they were just really making decisions for themselves, which was good for their marriage to start out that way.”

“It was a healthy experience for all of us to walk through that and to really let them take the lead,” Emge added.

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China’s coronavirus death toll reaches 1,770 – World – TASS

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BEIJING, February 17. /TASS/. The number of people who died from the novel coronavirus in China has reached 1,770, more than 70,500 cases of the disease have been confirmed, while more than 10,800 people are said to have recovered from it, China’s health committee reported Monday.

On Sunday, the committee informed about more than 68,500 cases, 1,665 deaths and 9,419 recovered. According to the data update, the official coronavirus death rate is now standing at 2.5% compared to Sunday’s 2.43%

Among China’s regions, the Hubei Province has the most cases with 58,100 people identified to have contracted coronavirus, 1,696 of them dead and 6,639 recoveries. Hubei is followed by the Guangdong Province (south China) with 1,300 infections, the Henan Province (central China) and the Zhejiang Province (east China) which report 1,200 and 1,100 cases respectively.

According to data available on Sunday, there are 381 coronavirus cases in Beijing, 144 of them were discharged from hospitals, while four people died.

According to the latest official reports, more than 150,500 Chinese citizens are monitored in the country because they had close contacts with those who are known to have contracted the disease. China also says there are about 7,200 people placed in quarantine because of coronavirus fears. According to doctors, more than 10,600 people are in critical condition.

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously called 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan – a large trade and industrial center in central China populated by 11 million people – in late December. The WHO declared it a global emergency, describing the outbreak as an epidemic with multiple foci.

The virus spread to 25 more countries, apart from China: Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak in China a global health emergency. Chinese authorities have confirmed more than 68,500 cases of the disease, over 1,665 people died, while more than 9,400 people are reported to have recovered.

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Irregular migration: Death trap for desperate youths, stakeholder warns

By Juliana Agbo, Abuja

Nigerian youths have been urged to shun all forms of irregular migration in quest for greener pasture and work hard towards the development of themselves and the country.

The outgoing Country Director, Symbols of Hope Project, Dr Lesmore Gibson who gave the charge in an interview with the Nation in Abuja said hundreds of Nigerians are dying daily due to the act of desperation for greener pasture.

Dr Lesmore while noting that the Symbols of Hope Project was initiated by Lutheran World Foundation to focus on reversing the trend of irregular migration in Nigeria, said they will continue to work with the government and other relevant stakeholders to permanently curb the act.

While explaining that countries like Libya, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia among others have zero tolerance for illegal migration, said many young people have lost their lives in deserts and the Mediterranean sea all in quest for greener pasture.

According to him, “many have endangered their lives and many of our young people have been buried in the desert all in their quest for greener pasture.

READ ALSO: Obaseki targets 50 percent reduction in irregular migration, human trafficking

” There are irreversible factors that have forced people to migrate, it could be as a result of conflict or political unrest in some context, but the context in Nigeria is more of economic factors.

“Most of the returnees or victims of migrants smuggling are people who felt that they need to go out in search of a greener pastures. It is a fact that Europe is attractive because things are working there, but it does not mean people should migrate irregularly.

“We are not condemning migration but we are saying irregular migration is bad.

Speaking further, Dr Lesmore said in changing the narrative, they have designed some interventions programmes for potential migrants and those who are contemplating on illegal migration.

“Apart from the advocacy we carry out, we are working on empowering returnees but with emphasis and attention been placed on potential migrants.

“The returnees need to go through psychological and healing process, because most of them return brutalized, also they have been violated in different forms.
We want the narrative to change.

“The project have designed interventions for those purposes, the other dimension is engaging in networking because symbols of hope cannot do every thing.

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Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

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India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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What about our feelings? Kin of murder victims lashes out at death penalty repeal

Tan Siew Lin, mother of Annie Kok Yin Cheng, holds back tears as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Siew Lin, mother of Annie Kok Yin Cheng, holds back tears as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 14 — Several family members of murder victims have accused Putrajaya today of purportedly being insensitive towards their feelings with its move to abolish the capital punishment.

They claimed that justice will not be served as long as killers are allowed to walk free, while others may use loopholes in the system to avoid the gallows.

“We used to celebrate her birthday together on the sixth on June every year. Now she’s dead but the government is considering abolishing the death penalty.

“How is this fair? If he is let loose I will find him or ask someone to find him and shoot him dead,” said Tan Siew Lin, referring to her late teen daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng, who was murdered and raped in 2009.

“For us there is no closure as long as we know these criminals are out free or that there is a chance for them to escape the death penalty,” she added.

Tan said she tried handing over a memorandum with 97,000 signatures from those opposing the abolition of the death penalty to lawmakers last year. She claimed she was refused entry into the Parliament.

A guest must be accompanied by an MP to enter the Parliament.

“The government doesn’t understand our pain. If it abolishes it, we will make noise,” added Tan, whose daughter’s killer, Rabidin Satir, is currently awaiting trial on several charges of rape and theft.

Representatives and family members of murder victims who refuse to accept the abolishment of the death penalty pose for a group photo in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Representatives and family members of murder victims who refuse to accept the abolishment of the death penalty pose for a group photo in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Today, family members and representatives of the alleged murder victims — Datuk Kevin Morias, Datuk Sosilawati Lawita, Stephen Wong Jing Kui, Chee Gaik Yap, Annie, Muhammad Hafiz Indris, and Nurulhanim Idris — attended a meeting with a Parliamentary Select Committee here to plead against the repeal of the death penalty.

The family members said they all felt the committee has already made up their mind to abolish the death penalty, and the meeting was just a formality.

“They asked us, if the death penalty is imposed and the perpetrator is killed, will that bring your loved ones’ back to life and will it really make us happy?

“I feel this is a silly question,” said Mansur Ibrahim, representing the family of toddlers Hafiz and Nurulhanim.

Mansur said countries who have removed the death penalty are now bringing it back as there has been an uptick in crime, but did not provide any examples to back his claim.

Out of 195 members of United Nations, only 55 countries still retain the death penalty.

“Seems as though they’ve already set their minds to abolish the Act. We just met them as a formality,” said Alan Ong Yeow Fooi, representing Morais and Sosilawati.

Another lawyer, Tan Sri Robert Phang, claimed that Malaysia could be a haven for criminal activity if capital punishment is abolished. He also did not provide any proof to back his claim.

“If the public demands it, then a referendum should be made to not abolish the death penalty,” Phang said.

Tan Siew Lin (left) holds up news clippings of her daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Siew Lin (left) holds up news clippings of her daughter Annie Kok Yin Cheng as she speaks during a news conference at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya January 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

At the meeting today, the select committee was represented by Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Zahrah Ibrahim, Datin Paduka Sri Zauyah Be, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Dr Farah Nini Dusuki.

The Pakatan Harapan government made a historic decision on December 2018 by voting in favour of a United Nations resolution for member states that still retains the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing this punishment.

Two months after being voted into power in May 2018, the government ordered in July that year a suspension of all pending death sentences. However, it has since demurred on total abolition of the capital punishment.

The Cabinet has been mulling three options: total abolition of the death penalty; or making the death penalty non-mandatory for crimes such as murder; or giving judges full discretion during sentencing for those convicted under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The abolition is expected to be tabled in the Parliament in March.

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Dog in the Middle of Road Hit by Alam Flora Lorry, Netizens Believe It Might Be Intentional

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There have been so many animal abuse cases in Malaysia to a point where we can hardly keep up anymore. The interesting thing is that a lot of these animal abuse incidents revolve around government workers, such as municipal council dog catchers, and now, Alam Flora truck drivers.

The A Fortress of Fur Facebook page took to their profile to share a video sent to them by a mystery netizen, in which a dog chilling in the middle of the road was knocked down by an Alam Flora truck.

Informer alleged that this Alam Flora driver purposely knocked down the dog to death despite seeing him sitting there. The cries were so loud his other dog friends were concerned and came to help. 😭Hope police will investigate this as serious as the laundry cat case. A report will be lodged soon.

Posted by A Fortress Of Fur on Sunday, November 10, 2019

They had written, “Informer alleged that this Alam Flora driver had purposefully knocked down the dog to death despite seeing him sitting there. The cries were so loud that his other dog friends were concerned and came to help. Hope the police will investigate this as seriously as the laundry cat case. A report will be lodged soon.”

The dog was clearly standing in the middle of the road with nothing obstructing it, which makes it very believable that the driver hit the dog intentionally.

Some netizens on the other hand, pointed out an important question. If he wanted to hit the dog, why would he then stop the truck to check on it?

Hence, some have called it an accident instead of an animal abuse case for the driver might have been distracted or on his phone when he hit the dog.

Source: Facebook

This comment goes, “He may have been chatting away or doing something on his phone. If he were to purposefully hit the dog, he wouldn’t stop. Whatever it is though, pity the dog.”

Source: Facebook

This netizen said, “Blind spot or probably on the phone.”

Nonetheless, even if it was an accident instead of an intentional hit, what the driver did was still wrong, and we hope that he at least tried to help the dog instead of leaving it there to suffer and die.

What do you think?

Did the driver stop the truck to check on the dog because he didn’t intend to hit it, or did he stop the truck to watch the dog suffer after intentionally hitting it?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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Kelantan Village Now An Insta-Destination With Rainbow Seaside Homes You Can Visit for FREE!

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If you are traveling on a budget to Kelantan, then this village is a must-visit location that you should add in your itinerary.

As reported by Harian Metro, Kampung Sungai Budor used to be what you imagine a typical seaside village would look like, you know, with wooden walls and windows and all.

It all changed after villagers started to paint their houses in a rainbow theme! Not only did it change the landscape of their settlement, but it has also made the village one of the most popular attractions in the state. While only 6 houses so far have received the treatment due to financial constraints and others are still undergoing the process, the plan is to paint a total of 150 houses in the same manner!

Source: Facebook

Fuiyoo!! So festive!

This charming idea was executed by the Kelantanese Women’s Association with the cooperation of the Municipal Council of Kota Bharu-Islamic City (MPKB-BRI) and the National University of Malaysia (UKM), as a way to turn the village into a tourist attraction.

One of the villagers, Wan Nazimah Wan Mohamad, 57, said that the transformation started with changing their time-worn wooden walls and zinc in March 2018 and the whole process ended in June with colourful paint jobs in the same year.

“Since then, tourists nationally and internationally streamed into our village every so often to appreciate and take pictures of our photogenic village and share it on their social media.”

Look! They even painted their roofs! Haha!

“Even with just (6 houses), we still became one of the main tourist attractions in this state as visitors would drop by every month from various countries including the Philippines, Japan, and China.”

“For houses that haven’t gotten the chance to be painted, some villagers took their own initiative and painted their houses on their own gradually.”

At the same time, the villagers cooperated with each other to ensure that the settlement area is always clean and welcoming.

Reckon Willy Wonka would’ve jumped out of one of the houses! Hopefully, in the future, they will manage to complete their 150 house vision. Can’t wait!

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After 21 Years Of Waiting, The Ring Of Fire Solar Eclipse Returns to M’sia This December!

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Some of us who had the opportunity to witness this phenomenon the last time it was visible in our part of the world 21 years ago, and this December we’ll be able to witness it again! This unique phenomenon is known as the Annular Solar Eclipse or more popularly as the “Ring of Fire”.

Source: Astronomy Now

The last time the ring of fire was visible in Malaysia was on the 22nd of August 1998, when the Earth, Moon, and Sun lined up in a straight line, causing our part of the world to fall into a state of darkness for a certain amount of time.

The most strategic location to witness the formation process of this phenomenon, which only occurs once for every two decades, is in the south districts of Malaysia which are Tanjung Piai, Johor and Serian, Sarawak.

According to Berita Harian, everyone should be able to go out and experience the darkness that will cloak almost half of the Earth’s surface. The darkness will start from Saudi Arabia, to India, Sumatra, Malaysia (Johor and Sarawak), Singapore, and back to Malaysia in Sabah and Sarawak before it ends at the Pacific Ocean, this 26th December.

The Director of National Planetarium, Anita Bahari, said that the phenomenon will only occur in the range of two minutes and 30 seconds to three minutes and 30 seconds depending on the location.

Another factor that would define the precision of anulus (the Latin word for ring) formation would be the dispersion of clouds, haze and probably rainfall that might occur during the lineup of all three celestial bodies.

“Tanjung Piai was chosen by us as a location to hold the Malaysia Solar Festival 2019 and it will be filled with activities that will cater to two million visitors.”

“Because Tanjung Piai is the best position to be in when the eclipse occurs, the annulus is expected to happen from 1.21 pm to 1.23 pm.”

“Visitors who attend the festival at Tanjung Piai National Park will be able to get the longest experience with the phenomenon in comparison to other areas around peninsular Malaysia”

Source: Blogger

Anita Bahari also said that the other districts in Malaysian would only be able to experience half of the eclipse.

Thankfully, nature will not be affected as much, though the gravitational pull during the eclipse will cause a high tide at Tanjung Piai and the rest of the peninsular’s west coast.

Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia (JUPEM) also said that the seawater level will increase at Tanjung Piai to 3.4 meters, compared to its usual level, which is between two and three meters.

“This is a common water level so the visitors shouldn’t worry as much, however, what’s more intriguing is how it will affect migrating birds and plants because of the temporary darkness in the afternoon.”

Anita also said that researchers from around the nation and astronomy enthusiasts will crowd the location. However, visitors are highly advised to not look at the eclipse with their naked eyes and to use the 10,000 special glasses that will be provided by the Planetarium which contain sunlight filtering films.

Because if you don’t, the eclipse rays of sunshine will blind you.

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Thai Election Gets Messy Start Overseas, Voters Complain

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At left, Thais in Malaysia use cardboard boxes to vote Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Muhammad Sasu / Facebook. At right, long lines outside the embassy on the same day.
At left, Thais in Malaysia use cardboard boxes to vote Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Muhammad Sasu / Facebook. At right, long lines outside the embassy on the same day.

BANGKOK — Election officials are on the defensive after overseas voters complained angrily about a raft of problems including missing ballots, incorrect candidate information and poor voting facilities.

Two weeks before polls open at home, #OverseasVoting was trending atop Thai Twitter on Monday with many comments slamming the Election Commission and diplomatic missions for mismanaging early voting.

“Student body elections at school look more organized than this election,” Twitter user @Litentoyou wrote.

Criticism blew up after a student in China tweeted Saturday about the obstacles to voting, including a ballot that didn’t come until nearly a week after voting began. The student said more than 500 voters registered to vote in Shanghai hadn’t received them at all.

“This election is the most transparent ever,” @TheKopfer wrote, sarcastically.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the problems reported in China were due to missing voter contact information, adding that all but five voters in Shanghai had received their ballots by Sunday.

“I [dislike] this commission the most. Salaries so high, but they work sloppily, like children,” @Newthinkkn wrote. “They spent 12 million to study elections in other countries and look what happened.”

Dissatisfaction over widespread reported mishaps fed existing concerns about the commission’s ability to stage a credible election at home in just two weeks. It comes days after it invited scorn by canceling important meetings because six members were traveling abroad at a cost of about 12 million baht.

Muangphum Hansiriphet, who heads a Thai student association in Nanjing, called online for an investigation into problems there. He said that while helping the consulate locate voters, he learned information entered by voters in online registration forms had gone missing or become unreadable when the commission submitted it to the diplomatic mission.

The Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was forced to open Sunday for additional voting because it couldn’t accommodate the thousands who turned up the prior day. Many voters complained of waiting for hours and questioned why the commission couldn’t do better despite knowing how many people would vote.

Officials were shown using cardboard boxes to set up makeshift voting booths in photos posted online, reportedly because they didn’t receive enough from the commission, further stoking public outrage.

Without commenting on the cause of the problem, head commissioner Jarungvith Phumma said using a cardboard box was not illegal. He said it just didn’t “look very pleasant.”

He also said the commission was looking into several complaints regarding confusing documents listing candidates and their numbers for voters in London and New York.

Photos of the documents show some of the candidates names and photos did not appear next to their party names. For example, Parit “Itim” Wacharasindhu, who heads the Democrat Party’s youth wing, did not appear next to his party’s name. Instead it appeared above a candidate for the pro-establishment People Progressive Party.

Parit called for the commission to fix the issue because it might confuse voters.

“This error isn’t limited only to me but other candidates from other parties,” he said. “Every vote is valuable. … I hope the Election Commission and other related agencies take responsibility for this case.”

Nearly 82,000 people have registered to vote overseas, according to the commission. The vote is closing on March 16.

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Reprieve on the way for 119 Nigerians on death row in Malaysia | P.M. News

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Malaysia execution for drug trafficking

The 119 Nigerians on death row in Malaysia may be saved from the executioner if the country’s legislature passed a bill to abolish the death penalty as being proposed by the country’s law minister Liew Vui Keong.

The minister plans to table the bill in the March 2020 sitting of Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s Lower House of Parliament.

According to Amnesty’s latest report, Fatally Flawed: Why Malaysia must abolish the Death Penalty, 1,281 people are on death row as of February 2019.

Foreigners make up a significant 44 percent, 568 people, with Nigerians accounting for 119. They were sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

“Nationals from Nigeria made up 21 per cent of this group, with those from Indonesia (16%), Iran (15%), India (10%), Philippines (8%) and Thailand (6%) following suit”, Amnesty said.

Amnesty International latest report: Nigerians on death row may get some reprieve soon

“A significant 73 per cent of all those under sentence of death have been convicted of drug trafficking under Section 39(b) of the Dangerous of Drugs Act, 1952 — an extremely high figure for an offence that does not even meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ under international law and standards and for which the death penalty must not be imposed,” AI said in the report.

The Nigerians have not been executed because of a moratorium on executions in place since October 2018 as the government mulls law reform.

A special task force led by immediate past chief justice Richard Malanjum has also been set up to study alternative penalties for laws carrying mandatory capital punishment.

Amnesty report points at various flaws in the Malaysian legal system, including denial of complete legal aid to foreigners.

Amnesty also said that insufficient funding of legal aid also hinders Malaysians from accessing proper representation, especially those who live in rural areas and who are not able to afford a lawyer.

“It is further concerning that because of how legal aid is structured in the different schemes that provide no free legal representatives until the trial is due to start, many defendants are left awaiting trial without any legal assistance for significant periods that have extended from months to, in most cases, two to five years,” the report read.

For foreign nationals, the report noted delays of more than 24 hours to several days before their respective embassies were informed of their arrests. This is despite international law which states that prompt communication is necessary.

Amnesty, which campaigns to end to capital punishment worldwide, called for competent legal representation be made available to all defendants.

It also called upon the police to inform all detainees of their right to legal aid.

‘Secretive’ pardons, executions

Aside from the pre and post-trial stages, gaps in legal aid also affected the ability of inmates to acquire assistance when filing their pardon petitions, noted Amnesty.

When it was available, the report cited a lawyer’s testimony about how prison officials pre-selected inmates who would be able to receive legal aid, all of whom were Malaysians.

“The decision on who gets that support is not transparent and creates an additional degree of arbitrariness and discrimination in the death penalty system,” it said.

The NGO further urged the government to solve the delays and lack of transparency in clemency proceedings.

Pardons can only be granted by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the state rulers after consulting the Pardons Board. However, clear procedures for them are not laid out in Malaysian law except for some guidelines in the Prison Regulations 2000.

In practice, the report noted that inmates are often informed of their right to clemency but not the criteria for pardon consideration.

Inmates and their families are often left without any news from the authorities for a long period after submitting their petition.

The report also noted instances of delays by prison authorities in communicating the result of a pardon petition to an inmate’s family.

In the case of rejected clemency petitions, Amnesty noted that families were not informed of the date and time of impending executions except that they would happen “soon”.

“Some of the letters handed over to the families were dated two weeks earlier, suggesting that the prison authorities had held on to this information until only days before the scheduled date of the hangings,” it said.

Amnesty urged Pardon Boards to disclose all relevant information to inmates to allow them to prepare adequately for the pardon petitions.

It also wanted the boards to promptly update inmates, their families and their lawyers on the progress of their applications.

Following objections to abolishing the death penalty in total, the Pakatan Harapan government is now looking at replacing the mandatory death penalty for 11 serious criminal offences to allow for judicial discretion.

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