Cenbet: Paul Yong should not resume duties until he’s acquitted of rape

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Perak DAP assemblyman Paul Yong banters with Opposition assemblymen at the State Legislative Assembly in the State Secretariat Building in Ipoh November 15, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — A centrist rights group has called on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and senior Pakatan Harapan leaders to force Perak DAP state legislative assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong to resume leave.

Datuk Simon Lim Seng Chai, vice-president of Centre for a Better Tomorrow, said the group was shocked that the state executive councillor was allowed to resume duties less than three months after public pressure forced him to take leave.

“More disturbing is the fact that he did so despite not yet being acquitted of the rape charge he is facing,” Seng Chai’s statement read.

“In fact, the trial has not even commenced.”

Yesterday, Malay Mail reported that Yong had resumed his official duties as state executive councillor despite previously saying he would take a leave of absence for the duration of his rape trial.

Yong, who represents the Tronoh state seat, confirmed his return via a WhatsApp group after the media asked him why he was submitting written responses on behalf of the state government to questions in the state assembly.

He claimed the decision was made after discussing with Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Cenbet said they found Yong's claim shocking, noting the latter himself had in August asked the Tronoh assemblyman to take leave pending the conclusion of the trial.

As a coalition that champions good governance, Seng Chai argued that the new federal and state administrations must intervene.

“We call on the Prime Minister and other senior government leaders to intervene on this, with

the aim of getting Yong to resume his leave as the state executive councillor,” he said.

“This is in line with good governance championed by the new administration.”

Yong's action yesterday drew public uproar but his lawyers defended the move. They reportedly said that there were no legal grounds against the executive councillor returning to work.

Cenbet, however, countered to say Yong taking leave was a matter of “moral duty and good governance”, and not legality.

“We'd like to remind him that this is not about legality, but a matter of moral duty and good governance, the latter a principle which we promote,” Seng Chai said.

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    Huizhou looks to upgrade its industrial mix as it eyes key role in Greater Bay Area

    Huizhou, the second closest mainland Chinese city to Hong Kong, has set its sights on new industries including car and equipment manufacturing and clean energy to rejuvenate an economy that plummeted 8.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.The city’s two existing pillar industries – electronics and petrochemicals – have fallen victim to weaker external demand as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global economy.Huizhou, or Wai Jau in Cantonese, is classified as one of the “outer ring” cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), alongside Zhaoqing and Jiangmen. These are the less developed cities towards the periphery of the zone, with lower land and labour costs, where heavier industries are beginning to congregate.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.It should benefit from substantial infrastructure investment, as spillovers from the “inner ring” – the likes of Shenzhen and Macau, with advanced manufacturing and services and better transport links – lead to the establishment of more industrial bases to provide things like paper, metals and power to the entire bay area.Here, the South China Morning Post tries to gauge the role of Huizhou, and its 5 million residents, as they pursue new growth opportunities in the future economic hub.What is the history of Huizhou?Situated in the north of the Pearl River Delta, Huizhou was historically known as Lingnan and the gateway to eastern Guangdong.The city benefited culturally from the visits of several celebrated figures of ancient China. During the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127AD), the renowned poet Su Shi was a low-level government official in Huizhou. During his three-year stint, he built two bridges on the West Lake, which were named Su Di by later generations to commemorate Su’s achievements. Who wins, who loses in China’s plans for a bay area wealth management hub?From around that time, Huizhou became a prosperous region where trade flourished for the next thousand years or so.The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai conducted revolutionary work in Huizhou before 1949.The city boasts more than 900 scenic spots, and is something of a tourist draw.How’s Huizhou’s economy doing?Huizhou’s economy has been growing fast over the past three decades, driven by the pillar industries of electronics and petrochemicals. But it hit a blip last year as the US-China trade war led to plant closures and declines in exports.The city’s gross domestic product plunged 8.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.TCL, a leading Chinese television manufacturer, is headquartered in Huizhou, and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics had produced MP3 players and smartphones at its Huizhou plant, which opened in the 1990s. The factory was closed last year as the company relocated production capacity to Vietnam and India.How important is Huizhou’s geographic location?Huizhou borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou to the west, and Shenzhen and Dongguan to the southwest. It is a major transport hub of eastern Guangdong, 130 kilometres from Hong Kong.Huizhou has a 281.4km-long coastline, and has a major port with shipping links to other ports domestically and overseas.The Beijing-Kowloon Railway runs through the city.What are the major development zones in Huizhou?Huizhou Dayawan Economic and Technological Development Zone (DBETDZ) was given the go-ahead in 2006 by the State Council to expand from an area of 10 square kilometres to 23.6 square kilometres. Companies in the fields of car making, chemical production and processing, and electronics are targeted by the zone.The Huizhou Export Processing Zone was approved by the Guangdong provincial government as a subzone to the DBETDZ. It covers an area of 3 sq km and welcomes firms dealing with electronics, auto parts, textiles and chemicals.Huizhou Zhongkai High-tech Industrial Development Zone is connected to Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan by expressways. It encourages investment in new materials, telecommunication and other hi-tech industries.What plans is Huizhou making to spur its economic growth?Huizhou plans to speed up its development in sectors like logistics, tourism, finance and other emerging industries.It is also looking to move its traditional industries like home appliances, clothing and footwear up the value chain.Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * Can China’s Greater Bay Area offer relief to Hong Kong’s housing woes? * China loosens rules on fund flows between Greater Bay Area cities, in a partial relaxation of capital controlsThis article Huizhou looks to upgrade its industrial mix as it eyes key role in Greater Bay Area first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • China’s July talks with Vatican will have Taiwan looming in background
    News
    South China Morning Post

    China’s July talks with Vatican will have Taiwan looming in background

    This is the second in a three-part series examining the role of the Roman Catholic Church in China and how the difficult and complex relationship between the Vatican and Beijing has shifted and evolved since the Communist Party broke diplomatic ties in 1951. This story looks at the role Taiwan plays in the relationship as both sides prepare for talks this month on extending an agreement that keeps open the channels of communication.Beijing and the Vatican will sit down for talks this month, extending their decades-long dialogue on how the Catholic Church can function in a country ruled by the Communist Party of China. The thorny issue is who holds authority to appoint bishops in China, but self-ruled Taiwan is also a key part of the diplomatic wrangling.Beijing broke off diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1951 and founded the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which answers to the Communist Party, not Rome. While the Vatican may have been kicked out of China, it retained diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.The Vatican city state is now the only European nation to recognise Taiwan, which commentators say is a key reason Beijing keeps talking to the church – part of a strategy to further isolate Taipei. But another factor may be that, as China faces a wave of international criticism over the Covid-19 pandemic, positive diplomatic talks with Rome could help to improve its image.“If issues with Taiwan had been resolved, I don’t think we would have continued with such active talks with the Vatican,” said a mainland Chinese religious affairs expert, who declined to be named. But, while the Vatican was unlikely to cut ties with Taiwan in the immediate future, “it would not be smart [for China] to walk away from talks”.Francesco Sisci, a sinologist with Renmin University of China, said Beijing was already facing enough challenges in its international relations and it would be a “bombshell” if bridges to the Vatican were broken. A “positive relationship with Rome” was in China’s interest, he said.“If China breaks away from [talks] with the Holy See, it will only justify the logic of all the critics out there, that, ‘even the holy man couldn’t stand China’.”A Vatican source, who also declined to be identified, said another benefit to China of the Pope’s support was the potential to improve its relations with countries that have large Catholic populations. The complex history of the Catholic Church in ChinaThe Beijing-Vatican talks this month in Rome will seek to renew the 2018 Sino-Vatican agreement that expires on September 22. The detailed contents of that pact were never made public, but its key plank is a compromise on the appointment of bishops for the mainland’s 12 million Catholics.Critics say China has failed to live up to its side of the agreement. They argue that Pope Francis approved eight bishops appointed by Beijing in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association after the agreement was signed. However, they say, the Communist authorities did not reciprocate for bishops approved by the Pope in China’s so-called underground Catholic church which looks to Rome for authority, not Beijing.Supporters of the groundbreaking 2018 accord, which took three decades to negotiate, say it did mark the communist state’s first willingness to share some authority with a foreign religious leader. They also note that, a month after the agreement, Beijing for the first time permitted two Chinese bishops to attend the Rome synod of world bishops, an advisory body to the Pope.Newly appointed Taiwan Archbishop Thomas Chung An-zu, recalling the occasion, said that at the time it was “unthinkable” for Chinese bishops from the mainland – where Catholics were not considered part of the universal church – to be granted permission to travel to Rome and meet fellow clergy from around the world.“This had never happened before. Pope Francis was so touched that he even choked back tears during mass,” Chung said, in an interview with the South China Morning Post.Nevertheless, one of the Vatican’s goals is to reestablish diplomatic ties with mainland China, which would entail moving its embassy to Beijing. But this would not be an affront to Taiwan, the Vatican source said.“Taiwan should not be offended if the embassy in Taipei is moved back to its original address in Beijing,” said the source, adding that it was technically incorrect to describe the Vatican as “Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally”.“This is not accurate because the Vatican has not appointed a full ambassador to Taiwan.” The Vatican’s embassy in Taipei – known as the Apostolic Nunciature to China – has not been led by a diplomat with full ambassador credential for nearly 50 years. “But this is not to say that the Holy Father is going to give up on Taiwan, because our interest is not political.”According to Jose Miguel Encarnacao, a Macau-based Catholic affairs commentator, the last ambassador appointed to Taipei was Australian cardinal Edward Cassidy in 1970. “The Holy See removed the title of ambassador to its representative in Taiwan after the UN recognised the People’s Republic of China in October 1971, to the detriment of Taiwan,” Encarnacao said.In Taiwan’s recent bid to participate in meetings of the World Health Assembly – the World Health Organisation’s decision-making body – during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vatican was the only diplomatic ally that did not vote for Taiwan’s participation.Lawrence Reardon, an associate professor specialising in Chinese politics with the University of New Hampshire, said the question was not “if” but “when” the Vatican would recognise the mainland’s People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government.While diplomatic recognition was a key negotiation tool, Reardon said the Vatican would not sacrifice Taiwanese Catholics for mainland acknowledgement. “Instead, the Vatican will seek to reconcile the Greater Chinese Catholic Church and ensure the integrity and independence of Taiwan Catholics along with the Hong Kong Catholics.” Pope strays from script to avoid mention of Hong Kong in Sunday addressChung – who will be officially installed later this month as Archbishop of Taipei to lead Taiwan’s around 200,000 Catholics – said ties would not be cut by the Vatican “even at the mainland Chinese government’s request”. He said that “in reality, the Sino-Vatican agreement has not had an actual impact on Taiwan’s relationship with the Vatican”.The Vatican’s diplomatic office in Taiwan “should be maintained”, even if a relocation to Beijing was to take place, and the reopening of a Vatican embassy in Beijing “could happen soon if the mainland Chinese government is more open-minded and receptive towards the Roman Catholic Church”, Chung said.That looks unlikely, considering Beijing’s continuing hostility towards organised religions and its new measures to limit both attendance at religious activities and the operation of religious charity groups.“This is such an awkward period. We are seeing bishops are still being locked away and religious freedom is worsening on the mainland as negotiations go on between Rome and Beijing,” Chung said.“There are some gesture changes but in reality, nothing has improved. So we are still watching. We have religious freedom in Taiwan but we will be praying for those who can’t express their faith to have the strength to carry on.”Additional reporting by Eduardo BaptistaRead part one of this series, which investigates the agreement signed two years ago and asks if there is any potential for common ground between Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping.Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * Taiwan moves to build ties with unrecognised state of Somaliland * Beijing takes campaign online to win over Taiwanese hearts and minds in coronavirus pandemic * Vatican hits stumbling block on road to rebuilding ties with ChinaThis article China’s July talks with Vatican will have Taiwan looming in background first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • Thailand plans November human testing for potential coronavirus vaccine
    Health
    Reuters

    Thailand plans November human testing for potential coronavirus vaccine

    Thai researchers plan to begin human trials of a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus in November and are preparing 10,000 doses, a senior official said on Sunday, aiming for a vaccine that could be ready for use by late next year. Following favourable results in trials on primates, the next step is to manufacture doses for human trials, said Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of the Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University vaccine development program. “At first we were going to send them in June, but it was not easy to plan everything,” Kiat told a news conference.