Isnin, 5 Mei 2014

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The Star Online: Nation

Obama was overwhelmed by Malaysian hospitality, says US ambassador

Posted: 05 May 2014 08:34 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: It may have been a short visit for Barack Obama, but the US president was overwhelmed by Malaysian hospitality and was touched by its people's warmth and friendliness.

This was disclosed by US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun at a media roundtable in the US Embassy here on Monday, who said Obama left Malaysia with a tinge of memorable and meaningful nostalgia.

"When Obama left, he asked me to convey his thanks to the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak), who was such a gracious host, and to a number of ministers including (Foreign Minister Datuk Seri) Anifah Aman and (Youth and Sports Minister) Khairy Jamaluddin, who was also the minister-in-attendance, for playing a big part of this visit.

"He asked me to convey (thanks) to the hosts for their warm welcome and being engaging throughout the whole visit.

Obama was very much moved by the welcome shown to him wherever he went, from Malaysians, students at Universiti Malaya, young entrepreneurs at Cyberjaya and civil society leaders," he said.

The three-day visit to Malaysia, beginning April 26, was the first by a sitting US president in 48 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson's trip in 1966.

Yun said Obama was impressed to see crowds lining up to catch a glimpse of him along the routes he travelled during his stay here.

From a personal point of view, Yun said Obama and Najib shared a very good relationship as well as a familiarity with each other - almost like two old friends meeting.

"They have met many times on both multilateral and bilateral settings. Whenever I see those two interacting together, I am reminded that they know each other so well that I don't have to brief the president on anything at all," he said, adding that Obama's visit was a successful one.

He added that Obama had a personal familiarisation with Malaysia, whereby he was comfortable in terms of knowledge and relationship, which the president would like to build between the United States and the region.

"His personal history matters a lot, for example, during the state banquet, he recollected how his mother collected batik and his half-Indonesian sister's in-laws are Malaysians.

"Even during the small bilateral lunch at Seri Perdana, Obama was telling people how nasi goreng should be cooked, and the best way of cooking it. He also joked about durian, that he had tried it several times and was not his favourite fruit," he said.

With such a unique friendship shared between Obama and Najib, Yun said they both brought the United States-Malaysia relations to a comprehensive partnership, with greater collaboration on economy, security, education, science, technology and other fields.

"With this new phase of ties, the leaders very much left us with homework such as how we will make progress on the visa waiver programme, how to go about expanding education programmes and lastly, how to cooperate outside Malaysia and within Asean," he said.

Elaborating on the US Visa Waiver Programme, Yun said Malaysia had to meet a set of qualifications outlined by US laws, as well as provisions such as a visa refusal rate of about 3%, stolen and lost passports must be reported to Interpol and exchange of data on terrorists and criminals.

"Malaysia has met some conditions such as machine-readable passports and allowing Americans in without visas, so we are making some progress. But it will probably take a little time to be qualified for the programme," he explained.

However, he said no date was set for a series of consultations and technical briefings to carry out a proper assessment on the programme.

Citizens from countries listed under the visa waiver programme are allowed to travel and stay in the United States for a maximum of 90 days without a visa.

Malaysia's visa refusal rate stands at 5%.

On Malaysia's Chairmanship of Asean 2015, Yun said the United States was looking forward to it both diplomatically and economically, and would contribute significantly towards the future direction of Asean and its bid to become the next regional giant.

"The United States has been supportive of Asean as a grouping of nations, (that) is why we joined the East Asia Summit, by offering technical assistance to Asean on single market, energy issues. It will be an opportunity for the United States to make progress on so many things," he said. - Bernama

We gave prior warning of possible LCCT congestion, says Immigration Department

Posted: 05 May 2014 07:59 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Immigration Department has issued a statement regarding Sunday's incident where passengers faced delays at the immigration gates at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang due to a lack of manned counters, which all airlines were informed of and knew about.

"The Government had directed operations at KLIA2 to start on May 2 and for LCCT to cease operations. However, AirAsia announced that they would only move on May 9," its director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat said in a statement.

She added that the Immigration Department, together with other agencies, had discussions with airline companies, warning of possible congestion over the transition period.

"The congestion was expected if the officers from government agencies had to man two airports (LCCT and KLIA2) simultaneously. AirAsia had acknowledged this," she said.

Aloyah said that as KLIA2 opened on May 2, some immigration officers stationed at the LCCT, as well as equipment, had been transferred there.

"Before KLIA2 opened, there were four counters and three autogates for designated Malaysians, and 22 counters for foreign visitors," she said.

Aloyah also informed that the number of counters for Malaysians were not reduced, with only those for foreign visitors affected from 22 counters to 11.

"Overall, 60% of immigration officers remained at LCCT to manage the passengers from AirAsia flights, and only 40% were transferred to KLIA2.

"We hope that when all flights are operating from KLIA2 on May 9, immigration counter services would be back to full strength and normal services resumed," she said.

MH370: Tripartite meeting agrees to send relatives to Perth once debris identified

Posted: 05 May 2014 06:57 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The next-of-kin of passengers and crew on board the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 aircraft will be flown to Perth, once any debris related to the aircraft is identified and confirmed.

According to an official statement on the Tripartite Meeting in Canberra, Australia, which was made available to Bernama, participating ministers at the meeting had agreed among others, that MAS would be responsible for the travel arrangements.

"The airline will also retain broad responsibility for their support during the visit, including flights, accommodation, transportation and family support," it said.

The arrangement, among others, was agreed in the Tripartite Meeting chaired by Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss in Canberra, Monday morning as part of an agreed reception programme for the next-of-kin.

The meeting was also joined by Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and China Transport Minister Yang Chuantang.

The ministers had also agreed that Australia provide support and information to the next-of-kin, in terms of entry requirements to ensure their travel in and out of Australia was well taken care of.

China would actively facilitate and support matters relating to the Chinese next-of-kin, said the statement.

Earlier, Truss in a press conference after the meeting, explained that the search operation would target the ocean floor of the southern Indian Ocean, which included mapping out its areas.

He said that was necessary after failing to detect any debris of the missing aircraft during the aerial, surface and underwater search over the past 59 days.

Truss said the ocean floor mapping was expected to take up to six weeks as most of the areas had never been mapped before. - Bernama


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