Ahad, 7 Julai 2013

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Fearing contamination, Chinese pay more for imported infant goods

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 08:05 PM PDT

In 2008, six infants were killed in China and thousands fell sick after consuming milk tainted with melamine. There have been several food scandals in recent months, involving rat meat in mutton, excessive hormones in chicken meat and toxins in rice.

(Reuters) - Sophie the Giraffe is a teething toy taking over the world one baby mouth at a time. The toy, handmade in France from Malaysian rubber sap, is the rage for parents of toddlers the world over, including China.

But the knobby chew toy is priced around $30 in China, nearly three times the price in France. It's not a shock for Chinese parents, who have long lived with imported baby products that are sharply more expensive than elsewhere in the world.

Last week, Chinese authorities began an investigation into possible price-fixing and anti-competitive practices at five foreign companies manufacturing infant formula milk, including Nestle SA, Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co, Danone's Dumex brand and Wyeth Nutrition.

Several other products aimed at infants and toddlers appear to be exorbitantly priced in China. Import duties are only a part of the reason, experts say - much of the premium for imported infant products can be ascribed to fears that locally made goods may be contaminated.

Chinese parents, who are mostly only allowed to have one child, simply do not want to take the risk of possible contamination in local baby products.

Foreign companies know this and many take advantage.

"Brands have been able to get away with this just because of the fear factor about buying unsafe products," said Benjamin Cavender, principal analyst at China Market Research Group.

"If you look at how consumers spend their money, they are disproportionately willing to spend money on anything that their child will be eating or what will be touching their child's body."

In 2008, six infants were killed in China and thousands fell sick after consuming milk tainted with melamine. There have been several food scandals in recent months, involving rat meat in mutton, excessive hormones in chicken meat and toxins in rice.

But when it comes to children, the fear of domestic goods goes beyond food to items like toys and diapers. Many local toys have been found to have toxic levels of substances like lead, arsenic and mercury.

For many Chinese and expatriates living in China going to Hong Kong or overseas for holidays, the shopping list includes diapers and infant formula, and they buy in bulk.

In March, Hong Kong passed a law that classified milk powder as a restricted export, alongside items like rough diamonds, mandating that anyone without a licence caught exporting more 1.8 kg, about two cans of milk powder, will be fined or jailed.

Security guards patrol shops at Hong Kong's international airport to make sure the rule is not broken.

In Britain, shops are rationing sales of baby milk after Chinese visitors and bulk buyers cleared their shelves to send the goods to China. Boxes of baby milk costing around 10 pounds ($15) in Britain are on sale on Chinese websites for up to three times as much.

Other imported infant items are similarly marked up in China.

Sophie the Giraffe retails for about 8 euros ($10.33) on Amazon's French website.

Under Chinese law, Sophie would face an import duty of 10 per cent if imported as a rubber item and a value-added-tax (VAT) of 17 per cent. If it is imported as an animal toy, there is no import duty but the VAT still applies. Transport and distribution costs would also apply.

Shanghai Tongzhen Trading Co. sells the toy for $27 on Chinese e-commerce platform Jingdong Mall.

After China announced the investigation into infant formula, Swiss food company Nestle and French rival Danone said they will cut the price of the milk powder in China.

A can of Karicare Gold 3 infant milk powder from Nutricia, a unit of Danone, retails in New Zealand and Australia for around $19. In China, the official Nutricia store on the online Taobao Mall sells one can for 190 yuan ($31).

The VAT is still 17 per cent but import duty for milk powder stands at only five per cent.

Cai Junfang, a Shanghai woman who has a two-month old baby girl, says she manages the high prices by breastfeeding and using local diaper brands.

"The prices of imported baby goods are indeed very high,"said Cai, adding that the quality of imported goods was however generally better than domestic products.

But when it comes to her baby's milk formula, she's not taking chances.

"There has been too much media exposure on the domestic formula safety. The most important thing is my baby's health," she said.


Nik Aziz accuses US and Israel of being two-faced on Egypt

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 04:45 PM PDT

Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

The United States and Israel were slammed as hypocrites by PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat for championing democratic principles but keeping quiet over the events in Egypt.

He said Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi had been elected as president in clean and fair polls but had not been given the opportunity to complete his term.

"This is the true face of The United States and Israel. They are the ones who champion democracy and they are the ones who besmirch democracy as well," he said.

Harakahdaily reported Nik Aziz as saying Morsi's enemies were uncomfortable with him and would not allow his administration to run smoothly.

"Hence, it is not strange for The United States to support the coup by the Egyptian military.

"The other Middle Eastern countries which supported the coup are also tools of The United States," he alleged.

Nik Aziz said Israel represents the Jews while the US represents the Christians, and they are always trying to dim the light of God.

"They have forgotten that the rise of Islam is like a fast-flowing river, if you block it at the side, it will flow through the centre.

"If you try to block it at the centre, it will flow over the top of the barrier and to the bottom. If all angles are blocked, it will wait to break through the barrier," he said.

The Egyptian people have risen to protest against Morsi's removal as president and to voice their anger and frustration at the military.

"The people of Egypt will not stand aside and watch secularists fulfill their ambition of returning to power," Nik Aziz said.

Nik Aziz said The United States and Israel would continue playing their games in the Middle East.

"In public, they will shout democratic slogans, but when they have been stabbed by democracy, then they will violate it," Nik Aziz said.



Zahid Hamidi: EO replacement may still allow for detention without trial

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 04:34 PM PDT

(MM) - The new security law replacing the repealed Emergency Ordinance (EO) may end up looking very much like its forebear which had allowed detention without trial, the home minister hinted today.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) told reporters there had been proposals to embed preventive detention provisions into the proposed law, a second draft of which will be ready by September.

"I cannot announce it now, (but) there are proposals," he said, adding that the police needed to be empowered to act against offenders.

Ahmad Zahid acknowledged that such provisions, however, would be difficult to push through Parliament as it would draw much opposition from across the political divide and civil society.

"But I have to be rational as well, because the Bar Council and the opposition are not for it," he said.

The home minister said his Cabinet colleagues, Datuk Paul Low and Datuk Nancy Shukri, who are both ministers in the Prime Minister's Department, have been tasked with collecting input from the Bar Council, non-governmental organisations and politicians.

"Three ministers are coordinating ... I have already given the note to both of them, I think we're sitting down by next week," Ahmad Zahid said.

The EO was a security law introduced after the 1969 race riots that allowed the authorities to detain a person without trial for up to two years, similar to the much-criticised Internal Security Act (ISA). Both were repealed in 2011.

The EO was usually enforced against hardcore gangsters but had also been applied to children who were held in the same detention facilities as adults.

Ahmad Zahid has been among the most vocal proponents for maintaining preventive security measures, which he argues is necessary to effectively curb crime.

The minister blamed the removal of the EO as contributing to a spike in crime.

"When robbers and criminals are released, they go on to have minions. They are the ones who commit street crimes. Try supporting the return of EO in a new name," he said after opening the International Anti-Drug Day event here.

Ahmad Zahid was previously reported as saying the 2,600 people detained under the EO were now "roaming" the streets after being freed following its abolishment.

The police too have sought to attribute complaints of rising crime to the repeal of the EO, but it is unclear which crimes have a direct correlation with the released detainees.


Tweak Federal Constitution to be in line with Islamic law, mufti suggests

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 04:29 PM PDT

(MM) - Parliament should amend the Federal Constitution to make it a better reflection of Islamic law, Pahang Mufti Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman said today in the wake of a row over the conversion of minors to Islam.

Conservative Muslims have been pressuring the government to push through its bill to amend the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) to allow a single parent who is Muslim to convert his or her child who is below the age of 18.

"If we see any Acts in conflict we must discuss again, review until it fulfils syara'," the senior cleric told Sinar Harian Online, and added, "... perhaps the Constitution should be amended if it doesn't follow syara' or Islam."

The Najib administration withdrew last week its proposal to formalise the unilateral conversion of minors into federal law, which it had tabled in the Dewan Rakyat just days earlier after drawing widespread complaint by non-Muslim groups as unfair and disagreement from some ministers.

Section 107(b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 was introduced in Parliament on July 3.

Leaders from both sides of the political aisle have openly opposed the proposed amendment, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, the minister who had announced the Cabinet prohibition on unilateral child conversion in 2009, speaking out against a proposed law that aims to defeat the decision from four years ago.

In 2009, as then minister in charge of law, Nazri had said the government would ban the unilateral conversion of those aged below 18 to Islam.

Several other conservative Muslim clerics have insisted that any child whose parent embraces Islam must follow suit, but Abdul Rahman's remarks appear to take the matter a step further.

However, he said his suggestion was in accordance to the country's supreme law.

"From what we understand, the official religion of the federation is Islam, so what has to be done has to go back to Islam," he was quoted as saying by the Malay news portal.

"If we follow federal law if the child has not passed 18 years of age even though he has reached the end of puberty he cannot change his religion, but in Islam according to the syara', if the mother or father is Muslim, the child must follow the Muslim mother or father," Abdul Rahman reportedly said.

Custodial tussles in cases of unilateral child conversions have been a growing concern over the years and provide a high-profile glimpse of the concerns of Malaysia's religious minorities over the perceived dominance of Islam in the country.

It also highlights the complications of Malaysia's dual legal systems where Muslims are bound by both civil and syariah laws, the latter of which do not apply to or recognise non-Muslims.


Rolling Stones deliver biggest bang in nostalgic London show

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 04:26 PM PDT

(Reuters) - The Rolling Stones blasted through the past into the present yesterday with a rip-roaring show in London's Hyde Park that paid homage to their last concert here 44 years ago.

Frontman Mick Jagger strutted, howled and belted his way through a two-hour set that gave a nod to founding member Brian Jones, whose death in 1969 turned their last appearance at the royal park into a tribute.

"Anybody out there who was here in 1969?" Jagger called out to applause from a sea of grey hair after opening with "Start Me Up" and "It's only Rock and Roll".

"Well welcome back, it's nice to see you again."

Jones had already left the Stones the last time Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards and drummer Charlie Watts played the park at a gig meant to introduce his replacement, Mick Taylor. Guitarist Ronnie Wood joined in 1975.

But two days before their appearance, the 27-year-old Jones drowned in his swimming pool under the influence of drugs and alcohol, turning that concert into a commemoration.

Now the band with an average age of 69 stormed through the classics from "Brown Sugar" and "Honky Tonk Woman" to "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Sympathy for the Devil" — with rubber-lipped Jagger strumming the guitar for the latest single "Doom and Gloom".

The Stones bounded across the stage and along a catwalk stretching into the sea of 65,000 fans gathered on a sultry summer evening in 21st century central London, sipping beer. The unmistakeable aroma of marijuana wafted in the air.

The night belonged to the reconciliation of past and present for a crowd of old and young steeped in Stones lore, watching the band on stage with images of past concerts occasionally flashing past on big screens rising up behind the band.

Jagger donned a white smock-like outfit similar to the one he wore in 1969, played the harmonica and quoted a piece of poetry. The references to Jones and the old days were unmistakeable even if his name was never mentioned.

Mick Taylor takes a brief turn

Taylor — who left the Stones in 1974 — appeared on stage for a rollicking version of "Midnight Rambler," where he delivered a masterclass in the guitar solo before jamming in front of Watts with Wood and Richards.

"Mick's very first show was with us here," Jagger told the crowd. "We found him in a pub and put him in front of 250,000 people."

The crowd reflected the longevity of the band and their continued popularity across the generations.

"This is my birthday present from my dad," said 34-year-old Dan Kemsley, who had been waiting in front of the stage alongside his Stones-mad father John since noon.

Nostalgia has played a major part in the Rolling Stones' activities the past year as they celebrated 50 years in the music business and embarked on a North American tour.

The Rolling Stones lived up to their reputation as one of the greatest rock and roll bands when they played to more than 100,000 revellers at last weekend's Glastonbury festival.

The band emerged alongside the Beatles in the early 1960s to become one of the most successful groups in rock and roll history with hits such as "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Satisfaction", which rounded off the show amid fireworks.

They last went on the road for their "A Bigger Bang" tour from 2005 to 2007, playing 144 shows around the world and grossing more than US$550 million (RM1.75 billion), making it one of the world's most lucrative rock tours.

They play another concert in Hyde Park on July 13.

Live performances have emerged as the major money earner in the music business as record sales go digital, with growing numbers of veteran acts returning to the stage and attracting well-heeled, aging fans willing to pay high ticket prices. 


Zahid Hamidi: Abolition of Sedition Act may lead to dispute of Federal Constitution

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 04:22 PM PDT

(The Star) - The abolition of the Sedition Act 1948 may lead to the dispute of four core aspects enshrined in the Federal Constitution, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

According to Zahid, the four core aspects are the special rights of Malays, the status of Malay rulers, the status of Islam as the Federal religion and the status of Bahasa Melayu as the national language.

The Home Minister said he wanted the Act retained so that these will not be questioned.

"The Cabinet cannot decide to abolish (the Act) but (it can propose) to amend.

"If the Sedition Act is abolished wholly, (people) will have the rights to touch on these four areas although these are enshrined in the Constitution.

"I will not compromise if there are parties who want to touch on any of these four main aspects of the Constitution.

"Those who do, must be charged under the existing Sedition Act 1964," said Dr Ahmad Zahid on Sunday after launching the commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking here.


Slander ‘legal’ if sedition law yanked, says Zahid Hamidi

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 11:55 AM PDT


(The Malay Mail Online) - Instigators would get away with calumny, baseless allegations and condemnations if the Sedition Act were to be repealed and the police would be hard pressed to rein in unrest, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) said today.

The home minister reportedly nixed talk that the government would do away with the law that critics and opposition politicians have branded draconian for curbing free speech, saying the controversial Sedition Act was needed to keep the peace.

"Now however they want to abolish the Sedition Act too... I do not think there is a need, because what have we got left to protect the people and the country's peace?" he was quoted as saying by state news wire Bernama today, after launching a motorcycle convoy to Singapore in Kuala Lumpur.

"In addition, when it is repealed, all slander, allegations and condemnations by provocators can be considered legitimate even though our democracy does not require it," he was reported as saying.

Ahmad Zahid also said perpetrators would likely escape the law on some legal loopholes even if the police managed to book them should the controversial legislation be removed.

"In fact, if caught with such allegations, they will find technical aspects to escape and the police will not be able to do anything even though they may have solid evidence," he was quoted as saying.

Ahmad Zahid has been seen to be a strong advocate of preventive laws, which the Najib administration has slowly begun to remove as part of its reform measures.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak initiated a series of legal reforms after taking office in April 2009, introducing a law that allowed peaceful assemblies in public and repealed the much-dreaded Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance (EO), both which allowed for detentions without trial.

He had also promised to abolish the Sedition Act.

But critics have questioned the sincerity of the government's reforms, claiming that subsequent replacement laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and the Peaceful Assembly Act are still insufficient to safeguard the people's rights.

Ahmad Zahid has previously blamed the repeal of the EO for contributing to the spike in crime.

"When the EO was abolished, many of these criminals were released. Now they are taking advantage of the situation. Laws that are introduced to curb crime should get the co-operation from all parties," he was quoted saying yesterday by The Star daily.

The police have sought to attribute complaints of rising crime to the repeal of the EO, but it is unclear which crimes have been directly linked to the released detainees. 

Muslims urged to defend their faith and child conversion bill

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 11:44 AM PDT


(TMI) - "What is the point of acknowledging Islam as Malaysia's official religion when a bill which upholds the faith of Islamic children can't be tabled and passed in Parliament?"

Muslims have been urged to make their stand and ensure the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013, now on hold, is tabled and passed by Parliament.

Sukarelawan Peguam (SukaGuam) chairman Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who called on Muslims to unite and defend their faith on this issue, told Mingguan Malaysia the act of defending the faith was jihad (holy war).

"What is the point of acknowledging Islam as Malaysia's official religion when a bill which upholds the faith of Islamic children can't be tabled and passed in Parliament?"

On Friday, after a flood of criticism from both BN and opposition figures, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the bill had been withdrawn for review.

The proposed tabling of the bill, which allowed for the conversion of minors to Islam by a single parent, had drawn flak from non-Muslims from both sides of the political divide.

Khairul said the unilateral conversion issue had already been explained clearly and at length in the case of R. Subashini v T. Saravanan in Dec 2007. In that case, the Federal court said Subashini's husband, T. Saravanan, had the right to convert their four-year-old son to Islam without the knowledge of the mother.

However, in April 2009, the Cabinet decided that children should remain in the religion of their parents at the time of the latter's marriage if one of the parents decided to convert.

The government also declared that it would ban parents from secretly converting children. This was to ensure that outstanding issues in a marriage would be settled to prevent children from becoming victims of a conversion battle.

However, Khairul's view is that "there is no need for both parents to consent to their children's conversion if one of the parents has already embraced the Islamic faith."

He urged the government to engage MPs, lawyers, Islamic non-government organisations and Islamic scholars to find a consensus on the issue.

"These dialogues are necessary so that the bill can be reviewed and tabled in Parliament again, following Friday's events.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/muslims-urged-to-defend-their-faith-and-child-conversion-bill/ 


Teachers urged to support BN in Kuala Besut

Posted: 06 Jul 2013 11:37 AM PDT


(Bernama) - Teachers have been urged to support the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Kuala Besut state by-election in gratitude to the government for championing their welfare.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said there was no reason why teachers should turn their back on the government at a time when their help was needed most.

"And the time has come for them to help ensure that the BN retains the seat, as gratitude to the government," he told reporters during a meet-the-people session in Kampung Kemunting near Kuala Besut in Terengganu yesterday.

He said the BN has set the campaign slogan as, "Kuala Besut getting Bluer" and is targeting to increase the majority from 2,434 votes to 4,000 by getting closer to the people through house-to-house campaign.

Idris, who is also Kuala Besut deputy election director, reminded voters there that the opposition will not be able to bring them prosperity.  

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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