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Thai water festival called off to curb COVID-19

BANGKOK, March 14 — Thailand’s annual water festival, Songkran will literally be washed out this year as public celebration of the popular festival has been cancelled to avoid mass gatherings in the effort to contain COVID-19 outbreak in the kingdom.

Thais celebrate Songkran, the traditional new year from April 13 to 15 by splashing water on each other under the scorching sun and visit temples to pray and make offerings.

Popular backpacker district of Khaosan Road in the Thai capital called off its celebration to prevent the spread of the virus. Every year, thousands of tourists join locals in splashing water and other activities along the popular district.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) also announced it will not organise Songkran events and activities under its jurisdiction.

BMA also urged the private sector in the district to avoid organising celebration activities to stop mass gatherings.

Besides that, celebrations in Chiang Mai, Patong beach in Phuket, Hat Yai and Khon Kaen are also cancelled to reduce the risk of infection.

Meanwhile, Thai Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai said Thailand today confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 82.

The seven new cases including a 41-year-old Thai actor and a 63-year-old woman who had close contact with a COVID-19 patient.

He said the other new cases included four from a family of a 57-year-old woman who visited Japan.

”The woman’s daughter, 30, son-in-law, 33, and granddaughter, 4, were tested positive for COVID-19,” he said at a COVID-19 daily briefing here today.

He added another new case included a 20-year-old female student who returned from Japan.

To date, Thailand has recorded 82 COVID-19 cases with one fatality and 46 patients are still being treated in hospitals while 35 have been discharged.

Meanwhile, the Royai Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur urged all 132 Thais who attended the tabligh (missionary) convention at Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling in Kuala Lumpur to undergo screening at nearby hospitals.

It was reported that 30 participants each from Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and another 42 from the other provinces of the kingdom had attended the event.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

April 15 hearing of ex-AmBank manager’s application to strike out Najib’s suit

KUALA LUMPUR, The High Court is to hear on April 15 the application by former AmBank Relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping to strike out a suit filed by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak against her for alleged mismanagement of his bank accounts.

Justice Datuk Khadijah Idris set the date during case management in chambers in the presence of counsel Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar, representing Yu, and counsel Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee, representing Najib.

Muhammad Farhan, when approached by reporters, said Justice Khadijah also ordered the first and second defendants, AmBank and AMMB Holdings Berhad, to file a similar application by March 2 if the two parties intended to do so.

He said the court has set Dec 14 to 17 as trial dates for Najib’s suit.

Meanwhile, Gurdial said the court allowed Yu, as the third defendant, to delay filing her defence to Najib’s suit until her application to strike out the suit have been heard by the court.

“We have said that we need not file defence until the striking out application (is heard) because we feel that there is no course of action for him (Najib) to proceed (with the suit) in the first place.

“So the court has agreed with us that as far as Yu is concerned, she need not file a defence until the disposal of the striking out application,” he said.

Najib, through Messrs Shafee & Co, had filed the suit on Dec 9 last year at the High Court and named AmBank, AMMB Holdings Berhad and Yu as the defendants.

According to the statement of claim, the plaintiff claimed AmBank and Yu had committed negligence when handling his bank accounts (ending with 694, 880, 898 and 906) by disclosing it to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Najib claimed that the defendants without authorisation had disclosed his bank statements, debit and credit remittance transactions, and balances of funds of account 694 to Low as the third party.

Najib claimed that the defendants did not engage with him to report on Low’s action regarding the said bank account and that the bank had facilitated unauthorised third party to make money transfers between accounts 880, 898 and 906.

The Pekan member of Parliament contended that he had been kept in the dark on the details of his own bank accounts statements and other related documents by the bank under Low’s instruction.

He alleged that Low with the help of other unauthorised third parties, had made 20 transactions to regularise the accounts totalling RM12 million through several local and foreign remittances of funds and that the accounts had been ‘red-flagged’ by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

The former prime minister said the defendants failed to report and get direct instructions from him despite the accounts being red-flagged.

Najib also claimed that he only discovered the act committed by the defendants during the SRC International trial after the prosecution had revealed the conversations between Yu and third parties.

He is seeking special, general, aggravated and exemplary damages from the defendants.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Stern action awaits those who spread fake news on coronavirus

KUALA LUMPUR, The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) today issued a warning that stern actions will be taken against irresponsible parties who spread fake contents or news or rumours on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

In a joint statement here, they said such actions could disrupt and jeopardise the country’s stability.

“PDRM and MCMC will not tolerate any quarters who spread fake news that cause fear, panic or anxiety among the members of the public, they said.

Meanwhile, PDRM and MCMC have identified four individuals to help in the investigations into the spread of the fake news related to the coronavirus.

The statement also said based on the monitoring of the two authorities, social media and online messaging services have become the main platform for spreading the fake news about the coronavirus.

According to the statement, those who spread the fake news could face action under Section 505 of the Penal Code which provides a jail term of up to two years or fine, or both.

They also could be prosecuted under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 which provides a maximum fine of RM100,000 or a one-year jail, or both, said the authorities.

Members of the public were also urged to verify the authenticity of the information or news about the coronavirus they had received before sharing it, especially if the information came from parties other than the Ministry of Health (MOH).

For accurate and authentic information on the coronavirus, the public is advised to refer to the official sources namely MOH (www.moh.gov.my) or international health bodies (https://www.who.int/), said the statement.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Kuantan shoplot fire triggered by short circuit

KUANTAN, The fire that razed the third floor of a shoplot lined with rented rooms in Jalan Bukit Ubi here on Thursday and which killed a foreign worker was triggered by a short circuit.

Pahang Fire and Rescue Services Department deputy director Mohd Zahar Abdullah said investigations found that the fire began in one of the rented rooms on the third floor.

That particular room was not occupied and the short circuit was caused by old wiring, he told Bernama here today.

The 12.53am fire killed restaurant worker, Manikandan Murugan, 28, from Chennai, India whose charred remains were found near the stairs.

Firemen, however, managed to rescue 27 other tenants, who are said to have opted for the shoplot rooms for its cheap rent.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Govt temporarily suspends all immigration facilities for Chinese citizens from Wuhan, Hubei province

KUALA LUMPUR, The Malaysian government has taken the decision to temporarily suspend all immigration facilities to Chinese citizens from Wuhan City and Hubei Province with immediate effect.

The Prime Minister’s Office in a statement here said the facilities encompass the Electronic Travel Registration and Information (eNTRI) facility, Visa on Arrival, e-visa and manual visa.

The decision was made after taking into consideration the latest situation on the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in China specifically in Hubei Province, it said.

These immigration facilities will be reinstated once the situation returns to normal, the statement added.

According to the statement, the Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) will coordinate implementation of the decision with its Chinese counterpart.

Following the spread of the coronavirus in China last week, the Malaysia government followed the procedures stipulated by the World Health Organisation to face the outbreak, added the statement.

The government has also obtained the advice of experts to face and prevent the outbreak from spreading far and wide.

The government also reminded all parties not to spread unverified or fake news on the outbreak as this can cause alarm among the public.

Dubbed the Wuhan virus, the media reported that as of Sunday, the outbreak has claimed 80 lives and that more than 2,700 cases have been confirmed in mainland China.

The coronavirus is spreading throughout Asia and the rest of the world with Malaysia recording four cases so far.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

LPP considering cash assistance for crop cultivators hit by drought

KLUANG, The Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP) is considering giving special assistance to cash crop cultivators after their crops were destroyed following the recent drought.

LPP chairman Datuk Mazlan Aliman noted that at the moment, only padi farmers were given the special assistance and the payments were made through the LPP disaster fund.

“We will try to extend this assistance to other farmers especially the cash crop cultivators in the country,” he told reporters after the opening of Simpang Rengam Area Farmers’ Organisation (PPK) Agricultural Input Shop, near here today.

Also present were Simpang Renggam PPK board chairman, Md Judyr Malik and its general manager Eddlie Ismail.

In addition, Mazlan said with the cooperation of Agro Bank a scheme to provide compensation in the event of death and accident would be introduced to safeguard the welfare of the members.

The scheme to be implemented in April would benefit over 920,000 LPP members nationwide.

Earlier, Mazlan also presented flood relief aid in the form of vouchers to buy fertilizers and agricultural equipment to 69 PPK members.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

SSPCA to open clinic to neuter dogs, cats to curb rabies

KUCHING, The Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) plans to open a clinic to neuter pet dogs and cats to curb rabies.

This has been agreed to in principle by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, said SSPCA president Datin Donna Drury-Wee.

She told this to reporters when met at her Chinese New Year Open House which was also attended by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg here today.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)