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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Musharraf fails to show up in court

Posted: 01 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf failed to show up for a hearing in the treason case against him, with his lawyers citing security threats.

The 70-year-old stands accused over his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, but he and his legal team have dismissed the charge as politically motivated.

Conviction could mean the death penalty or life imprisonment for Musharraf, who has faced a series of criminal cases since returning from self-imposed exile in March.

His defence team said he could not attend the special treason tribunal yesterday because security arrangements were inadequate. They also complained that lawyers in the case had been threatened.

The delay comes a week after a bomb scare forced the hearing to be adjourned.

"He is unable to appear before the court because of security hazards," lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told the tribunal.

The Taliban have made repeated threats to kill Musharraf, who led Pakistan into its alliance with Washington's "war on terror", and he lives under heavy guard at his farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad.

The case was adjourned on Dec 24 after explosives were found along the route he was to take to court and on Monday more explosives were discovered on the same road.

Musharraf is the first former army chief to go on trial in Pakistan, setting up a potentially destabilising clash between the government and the all-powerful military. — AFP

Labour costs could soar as much as 20%

Posted: 01 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

THE double whammy of higher foreign worker levies and a manpower crunch could send labour costs in some sectors soaring by as much as 20% this year.

The hit will come on July 1 when companies in the services, manufacturing and construction sectors face levy hikes of between S$15 (RM39) and S$200 (RM519) for each foreign worker on staff.

"The tighter labour market and the full force of levy measures are going to make it a pressuring environment for companies," said Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

The pain will be felt particularly in the building game. Monthly levies will increase to a record S$950 (RM2,465) for each lower-skilled foreign worker hired by construction firms.

OKP Holdings group managing director Or Toh Wat described the increase as "an all-time high", and firms that hire more lower-skilled construction workers will be harder hit.

Or expects the company's overall labour costs to go up by 10% to 20%.

Service sector firms like restaurants will continue to face "a tremendous labour crunch", warned DBS economist Irvin Seah. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Scientist starts Asia's first science magazine

Posted: 01 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

AN AWARD-WINNING Singaporean scientist has started what could be Asia's first science magazine, which aims to showcase research done in this part of the world.

Dr Juliana Chan, 30, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, has roped in other full-time scientists and doctors from around the world – from Singapore, the Philippines and India to the United States and Britain – to contribute to the quarterly magazine, Asian Scientist.

"From the very start, my goal has always been to publicise the excellent science coming from Asia, and there was no such magazine on the market focusing on the region."

Dr Chan has won several awards such as the Singapore Youth Award last year for her work in nano-medicine and tissue engineering, and for founding and editing an online version of the magazine for the past two years. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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