April 22, 2019

26 North Koreans rescued as cargo ship sinks off Japan

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Image for representational purpose only. (Photo | AP)

TOKYO: Japan rescued 26 North Koreans after they abandoned their sinking cargo vessel in the East China Sea, the coast guard said on Thursday.

Japan Coast Guard patrol boats plucked the ship’s entire crew out of the water in the early hours of the morning after they had abandoned the vessel and taken to life boats.

A distress signal was received on Wednesday from the 6,558-tonne Chong Gen which began sinking about 60 kilometres (37 miles) southwest of Fukue island in Nagasaki prefecture, the spokesman said. 

The ship finally sank before dawn some 27 kilometres from the island.

The coast guard cited the crew as saying the ship was transporting rice from North Korea’s port of Nampo on its west coast to the east coast city of Wonsan.

That route entails travelling around the southern end of the Korean peninsula.

“We rescued all the crew members safely and no one was injured,” the coast guard spokesman said.

“We are investigating the cause of the accident by interviewing them on our patrol ship offshore,” he added.

The spokesman said no decision has been made on what to do with the crew as the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to get Rs 10,000/month JP Senani Samman Pension

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Lalu Prasad Yadav

PATNA: RJD President Lalu Prasad would get JP Senani Samman Pension of Rs 10,000 per month after
being declared eligible for it.

Prasad’s application has been approved to make him eligible to get a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 under JP Senani Samman Pension Scheme, officials in the state Home Department said on Wednesday. Prasad, who was a student leader when Jayprakash Narayan launched “Sampoorna Kranti” (total revolution) in 1974 and was jailed under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act).

Prasad would be eligible to get the monthly pension in accordance with amended JP Senani Samman Pension scheme brought in 2015. As per this, those who served jail term between one month to six months would get a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 and those who were jailed for more than six months will receive Rs 10,000 pension a month, the officials said.

Prasad falls in the second category as per government records and is now eligible for Rs 10,000 pension.

The pension scheme, in honour of Loknayak Jay Prakash Narayan, was brought by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2009 during his first tenure (2005-10). Kumar himself is a close disciple of the JP and was jailed during the agitation.

A total of 3,100 persons are getting the pension under the scheme. They include senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. Nitish Kumar is also eligible for the pension but he is not taking it, the officials said.

Pakistan admits capturing Indian soldier; assures release soon

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For representational purpose | AFP

NEW DELHI: Nearly three months after an Indian soldier ‘inadvertently’ crossed over Line of Control, Pakistan for the first time has admitted its presence in their captivity and said that soldier will be released soon.

Sepoy Chandu Lal Chavan from 37 Rashtriya Rifles with weapons had inadvertently crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control on September 30, a day after Indian forces carried out the surgical strike on terror launch pads located in PoK.

Confirming developments, minister of state for defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre on Thursday said Pakistan has assured release of Chandu Lal soon after an enquiry. 

“Pakistan for the first time has admitted that he is there, alive & he crossed LoC inadvertently,” Bhamre said.

Bhamre also disclosed that Indian DGMO has raised the issue with his Pakistan counterpart for around 15- 20 times after the incident for the safe and secure release of the Indian soldier. And last time both DGMOs discussed the matter on Tuesday, said junior defence minister. 

An Indian soldier strayed across the de-facto border with Pakistan after heightened tensions following a “surgical strike” India said it carried out against “terror launchpads”. the source said. 

“Such inadvertent crossing by soldiers and civilians on each other sides are not unusual on either side… Normally they are returned through existing mechanisms,” a source said.

But Pakistan had been at a constant denial of capturing any Indian soldier despite the issue was raised at multiple platforms. 

Samsung leader Lee questioned over South Korea President corruption charges 

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Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee. (File photo | Reuters)

SEOUL: Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee appeared at the South Korean special prosecutor’s office on Thursday for questioning on suspicion of bribery in an influence-peddling scandal that may force President Park Geun-hye to demit office.

The country’s top conglomerate has become important in the investigation of Park, who was impeached by parliament in December over the corruption scandal. She would be the country’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from office early if the Constitutional Court upholds the impeachment.

Park has denied wrongdoing.

“I am very sorry to the South Korean people for not showing a better side,” Lee told reporters as he arrived at the prosecution office in a black Korean-made Ssangyong sedan, greeted by protesters holding signs calling for his arrest and accusing him of being the president’s accomplice.

Parliament impeached Park over allegations she allowed a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to exert inappropriate influence over state affairs.

Choi is accused of colluding with Park to pressure big businesses, including the Samsung Group, to contribute to non-profit foundations backing the president’s initiatives.

Choi, on trial on charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud, has denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors named Lee a suspect on Wednesday and they are investigating whether Samsung gave 30 billion won ($25.28 million) to a business and foundations backed by Choi in exchange for the national pension fund’s support for a 2015 merger of Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc.

Lee has denied bribery.

Wearing a dark suit, white shirt and dark red tie, Lee bowed after making brief remarks to reporters.

Proving improper dealings between Park, or her confidant Choi, and Samsung would be key for the prosecutors’ case, analysts said, noting their goal is to prove Park or her surrogates such as Choi took bribes from corporations in exchange for favours.

The prosecution spokesman on Wednesday would not rule out the possibility of investigators seeking an arrest warrant for Lee, 48, who in December denied accusations the conglomerate sought to curry the favor of Park or Choi to secure the 2015 merger, a deal seen as critical for ensuring his control of the conglomerate.

Investigators questioned two senior Samsung Group executives this week as witnesses.


The scandal has triggered weekly rallies calling for Park to step down. She has apologised and said this month the pension fund’s support for the Samsung companies’ merger was in the national interest.

If Park were to leave office, a presidential election would be held within 60 days. Among the expected contenders is former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Lee took over as leader of the smartphones-to-pharmaceuticals conglomerate after his father, founding family patriarch Lee Kun-hee, had a heart attack in 2014.

Jay. Y. Lee’s arrest or indictment would be a blow to Samsung and the family, which has been streamlining its business to ensure a stable transfer of control from the ailing Lee Kun-hee to his children.

While analysts and investors said management would be able to keep the various affiliates including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in good shape, the conglomerate as a whole may be slower to commit to major investments or acquisitions should Jay Y. Lee be imprisoned.

Share prices of most Samsung companies showed muted reaction to Lee’s implication in the scandal, however. Samsung Electronics shares were trading flat around mid-day on Thursday and Samsung C&T shares were up 0.8 percent, compared with a 0.3 percent rise for the broader market.

“It’s possible that Samsung Group companies will try to behave more transparently in response and operate in a more fair manner that shareholders can rationally understand,” said IBK Asset Management fund manager Kim Hyun-su.

Pakistan trade voices concern over China’s proposal of industries along the CPEC

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Image for representational purpose only. (File photo)

ISLAMABAD: Heads of various business chambers in Pakistan have expressed concern over reports that China is planning to establish industrial units and warehouses on the near USD 50 billion-China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Media reports and sources have quoted representatives of the chambers of commerce and industry of Gujarat, Gujranwala and Sialkot, as saying that Pakistan runs the risk of turning into a purely consumer-driven market if clearance is given for such planning.

Urging the Nawaz Sharif-led government to take the business community in these three industrial cities into confidence about the nature of China’s planned industrial units in the country, the presidents of these business chambers — Abrar Saeed Sheikh (Gujarat), Majid Raza Bhutta (Sialkot) and Saeed Ahmed Taj (Gujranwala) —  said not doing so would further weaken Pakistan’s manufacturing sector.

It was decided that all three presidents would call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to share their concerns over the proposed establishment of Chinese industrial units along the CPEC route.

Mr. Bhutta, in particular, was quoted by the media, as saying that the concerns of local manufacturers with regard to the impact of proposed CPEC projects should be addressed forthwith, as this had the potential to hit export performances from these cities.

The chambers’ presidents also sought easing of China’s visa policy for local businessmen.

In a related development, the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has warned that the country’s textile sector faces the eminent possibility of decline, given the advantages being offered to Chinese companies under the CPEC.

PRGMEA senior vice-president Javad Choudhry was quoted as saying that he is concerned about hearing reports of Chinese firms relocating their textile units to various free industrial zones in Pakistan and also being given energy/power at concessional rates.

He said that the government should ask Chinese investors to establish joint ventures with local stakeholders in an equity ratio of 49 percent to 51 percent.

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