The News Lens international edition is sponsored by Tutor A B C

Singapore: Singapore’s Defense Minister Warns A Clear and Present Danger from IS

On December 10, Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said that Islamic State fighters are bringing a “clear and present danger” to Southeast Asia. They have a mission brought from Syria and Iraq to establish a caliphate, especially a group that pledges allegiance to IS, such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf.

Ng said at a meeting in Washington that in the past three years, the number of IS followers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have been much more than the number al-Qaeda has attracted in the past ten years, which shows the influence of IS.

Ng pointed out that Indonesia has reported that over 500 Indonesian are fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq. Reports also show that over 150 Malaysian are doing so as well, and a part of them are members of the Malaysian armed forces.

He stressed the importance of sharing intelligence, and expressed concern that the followers of al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia are starting to pledge allegiance to IS.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Malaysia: Annual Human Rights Report says 2015 is the Dark Age of Human Rights

On December 9, Voice of the Malaysian People (also called Suara Rakyat Malaysia or SUARAM) released the human rights NGO’s 2015 report, saying that the year of 2015 is the dark age of human rights in Malaysia.

The report pointed out that the government suppressed political dissidents and civil activists, of which both politicians and citizens suffered from.

In cases of human right violations, Voice of the Malaysian People stressed its there have been many developing trends. Since the scandal of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) broke out, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak enacted the Sedition Act 1948 and the Multimedia and Communications Act 1998 deal with politicians and civil activists. This further eroded the last bit of democracy left in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the abuse of laws has also emerged. For example, using the Security Offences Act to arrest former Batu Kawan Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Mathias Chang, which gave legal enforcements in Malaysia the power to maintain peace and safety.

Refugees and human trafficking victims are also facing deteriorating situations. In May and August 2015, mass graves were found and ships of refugees were rejected landing by the government. Gender discrimination issues are still serious as well.

Photo Credit: reuters/達志影像

圖為《2009年人權報告概況》。Photo Credit: Reuters

Indonesia: World Banks Report Shows the Gap between the Rich and Poor is at Record High

According to the report released by the World Bank on December 8, the gap between the rich and poor in Indonesia is at record high.

World Bank says that Indonesia’s Gini coefficient, an indicator of the gap between the rich and poor, has risen from 30 points 15 years ago to 41 points in 2014. This is currently the largest increase recorded in history.

Four major facts are regarded to be the main causes of this phenomenon. They include the inequality of opportunities, unequal job opportunities, high wealth concentration and low resiliency for the poor.

World Bank Indonesia Country Director Radrigo Chaves warns that although there has been strong economic growth in Indonesia in recent years, the poverty reduction has stagnated. In 2014, the poverty population did not reduce, but income inequality rose and one third of it was due to the inequality of opportunities.

Word Bank recommends Indonesia to take four actions, including improving the health and education systems, strengthening family planning, promoting training of skills, preventing financial crisis, and using taxes and government expenditures to reduce income inequality.

Photo Credit: reuters/達志影像

Photo Credit: Reuters

Translated and compiled by Wen-yee Lee and Eric Wong
Edited by Olivia Yang