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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Application to acquit City Harvest six thrown out

Posted: 05 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: The trial against City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others will continue.

Their defence lawyers had claimed the prosecution had not done enough to show there was a case against the accused, and called on Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon to throw out all of the charges.

But yesterday, the judge rejected this, saying that there was enough evidence for the trial to continue with all of the charges intact.

"In my view there is evidence to show that the investments were shams... and were merely disguises for something else," he said.

He was referring to several bond transactions which the prosecution believes were illegal and a way for the accused to misuse church funds.

About S$50mil (RM1.3mil) is alleged to have been illegally used in various sham transactions to finance Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun's pop music career and to cover this up. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Fresh faces triumph over incumbents in Indonesia polls

Posted: 05 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: A former national tennis player, a former shoeshine boy who is now chairman of the Ferrari Owners' Club of Indonesia and a bevy of artists are among the candidates who have won enough votes to be new MPs in Indonesia's 560-seat Parliament.

The ongoing tally of results of the April 9 general election has also seen voters reject approximately half the incumbents who stood for re-election, including prominent MPs, in favour of fresh faces.

Heavyweights who failed to win a seat include House speaker Marzuki Alie of the Democratic Party, deputy speaker Priyo Budi Santoso of Golkar and chairman of the People's Consul­tative Assembly Sidarto Danusubroto of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P).

"This is a form of punishment from the public towards their representatives who they feel have failed to perform over the past five years," researcher Bawono Kumoro of The Habibie Centre said.

"It should also be a lesson and warning for new MPs."

Sitting ministers who ran for Parliament seats also lost, including Law Minister Amir Syamsuddin and Sports Minister Roy Suryo, both from the battered Democratic Party.

Several sitting MPs who were not re-elected have cried foul, saying they were cheated by candidates with deeper pockets.

Bawono said while this possibility cannot be ruled out, the widespread rejection of incumbents suggests voters also want new faces to speak for them.

While final results and seat allocations will be finalised only later this week – and even then, may be disputed – province-level counts give a strong indication of candidates who have made it.

There will be 10 parties in the new Parliament. The largest, PDI-P, is expected to get around 110 seats and the smallest, Hanura, around 30 seats.

New MPs will not be sworn in until this October, but some have already spelled out what they would focus on if elected.

For tennis coach Yayuk Basuki, 43, who reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 1997 and won an Asian Games gold in 1998, this includes changing the way sports is managed in Indonesia.

A National Mandate Party candidate from central Java, she hopes to lift the performance of her country's sportsmen and start a programme to help athletes balance school with sports, among others.

For others, like Ahmad Sahroni, 36, of the new National Democratic (NasDem) Party, it is improving the welfare of residents, many of whom he grew up with and who helped elect him.

The son of nasi padang sellers near North Jakarta's Tanjong Priok port shined shoes and loaned umbrellas to people when it rained to get by, before making his money selling fuel to ships.

Celebrities and former stars have been among the clearest winners to emerge in recent days.

Among those who won seats for the first time are former action hero movie star and Democratic Party candidate Dede Yusuf, 47, the former deputy governor of West Java, and racing car driver Moreno Suprapto, 31, who is from the Gerindra Party and elected from East Java. — Straits Times / Asia News Network

Thai King makes rare show

Posted: 05 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

HUA HIN: Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej made a rare public appearance to mark the 64th anniversary of his coronation, as the political turmoil gripping his kingdom enters a critical phase.

The king's appearance yesterday comes as embattled prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra faces two key legal challenges which could see her removed from office over the coming days, while opposition leader Abhisit Abhisit refused at the weekend to commit to elections mooted for July to end the political crisis.

Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch and a father figure for Thais, was crowned on May 5, 1950, although he came to the throne in June 1946 following the death of his elder brother.

The 86-year-old monarch is seen as a moral authority in Thailand, which has been deeply divided along political lines since 2006 when billionaire former premier Thaksin Shinawatra – Yingluck's older brother – was ousted in a military coup.

Bhumibol's public speeches are closely scrutinised especially in times of political crisis, but on this occasion he did not speak.

The streets near his coastal palace were a sea of yellow as thousands of people, wearing the king's signature colour, waved flags and shouted "long live the king" as the monarch's vehicle passed through the central coastal town of Hua Hin, where he has lived since leaving a Bangkok hospital last August.

A short service was held in a room in the royal palace packed with Thailand's political and military establishment as well as senior members of the royal family including the heir Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Monks led prayers as the king, who has suffered ill health for several years, looked on.

Yingluck was also present. She has faced six months of protests demanding she steps down, which have left at least 25 people dead and hundreds more wounded, raising fears of wider violence between pro- and anti-government supporters as legal moves against her edge towards a conclusion. Yingluck is due to appear before judges at the Constitutional Court today against an allegation of abuse of power over the transfer of a top security official.

"This is a critical few weeks for the future of Thailand," Noppodon Patta­ma, Thaksin's legal adviser, said.

"If the (constitutional) court judgment is fair it could unblock the political conflict... If it is not fair, it will make things worse."

The premier could also be charged with neglect of duty by Thai anti-graft officials over a bungled and costly rice subsidy policy which could see her toppled and banned from politics. — AFP


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