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Australian nurse who aided ISIS heading home, could face arrest

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Australian nurse who aided ISIS heading home, could face arrest
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: An Australian male nurse alleged to have given medical assistance to Islamic State militants fighting in Syria could face arrest for violating tough new security laws when he lands in Sydney today, police and officials say.

Australia is on high alert for attacks by radicalized Muslims, including home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East, having raised its threat level to “high” and unleashed a series of high-profile raids in cities.

An Australian national, identified by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as Melbourne-born nurse Adam Brookman, is returning home voluntarily after negotiating with the government, the
Australian Federal Police (AFP) said.

Brookman has not been charged with any crime, police said, but is subject to investigations that could see him face up to a decade in prison if convicted in a crackdown on radicalism launched by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“If there is evidence an Australian has committed a criminal offense under Australian law while involved in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, he or she will be charged and put before the courts,” an AFP spokeswoman said in a statement.

Security analysts have put the number of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, traveling from scores of countries around the world, in the thousands.

Abbott has told parliament at least 70 Australians were fighting in Iraq and Syria, backed by about 100 Australia-based “facilitators”.

Abbott has secured a raft of new security powers in recent years, expanding domestic spying capabilities and proposing to strip citizenship from dual-nationals accused of committing
violent militant acts.

Brookman, a father of five, told Australia’s Fairfax Media that he travelled to Syria on a humanitarian mission and was forced to join the militant group after being injured. He said he fled into Turkey after witnessing atrocities.

Bishop said Brookman may have violated laws passed last year that mean Australian citizens now face up to a decade in prison for travel to overseas areas declared off limits.

“Any Australian who supports or fights with Islamic State is potentially committing a crime against Australian law, including our sanctions regime,” she told reporters.

“So Mr Brookman is obviously a person of interest to our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

Abbott this year ruled out an amnesty for Australian citizens seeking to quit foreign militant groups and return home, in the wake of media reports that his government was negotiating with potential defectors.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Malaysia

Technical issues force Singapore aircraft to land on Malaysian highway – VIDEO

Maya Taylor

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Technical issues force Singapore aircraft to land on Malaysian highway – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter

A single-engine prop plane from Singapore has been forced to make an emergency landing on a Malaysian highway due to technical difficulties. A report in Coconuts says the aircraft touched down on the hard shoulder of a highway in Johor, as cars sped past. The 2 pilots on board are believed to be in stable condition.

Chester Voo, CEO of Malaysia’s aviation authority, says an investigation has been launched to determine what went wrong with the plane, which has now been removed.

“Search and rescue teams have completed all required tasks. The investigation will be conducted by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia.”

It’s understood the plane left Seletar Airport in Singapore and was flying to Melaka when the pilots contacted Air Traffic Control at Johor, requesting permission to land at Senai International Airport, due to technical problems. However, Voo says the aircraft did not make it to the airport before it had to land on the highway.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ong from Premier Aero Singapore, who provide services at Seletar Airport, says his company provided immigration assistance to one of the pilots prior to departure, but doesn’t know what happened to cause the emergency landing.

“We only assisted Dr Yang in immigration formalities with the Seletar Airport Authority for his arrival and departure.”

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in HK

Maya Taylor

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Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in HK | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash

Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to delay their travel bubble plans as Hong Kong experiences a jump in Covid-19 cases. Although case numbers in both cities are nowhere near as serious as what’s currently being seen in places like Europe and the US, officials are erring on the side of caution and postponing the plan by at least 2 weeks.

The travel pact would have allowed people to travel between both cities without having to endure mandatory quarantine, but authorities on both sides had agreed it would be postponed if either location reported more than 5 new local cases in a rolling 7 day average. The Bangkok Post reports that travel between both cities remains possible, but quarantine is still a requirement in both places.

Mungo Paterson, a British national who lives in Hong Kong and had booked a ticket to Singapore for December 7, says the reinstatement of the quarantine requirement is the biggest problem.

“That is the main deterrent, I have no interest in sitting in a hotel room for 2 weeks – it’s not healthy. I was excited when they announced it, I thought ‘here we go’. I’m now holding off confirming until Dec 2. I think there’s a 50-50 chance the flight will happen.”

Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung says the rise in cases in Hong Kong shows that any attempted travel arrangement will not be plain sailing.

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs.”

The strict border controls seen in Asia appear to have helped countries here suppress the virus better than elsewhere in the world, but the controls have come at a significant cost, crippling tourism and the aviation sector. Rico Merkert from the University of Sydney’s business school says that, without international traffic, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will continue to struggle, even when the travel bubble between their 2 hubs does begin.

“Even if the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor opens, the boost to the 2 aviation hubs will be limited. Singapore Airlines and Cathay will continue to struggle because they can’t funnel onto the route those travellers who would normally arrive from Europe and the US. Without that feeder traffic, those bubbles will at best be limited to the local population. International travel is going to remain a tricky affair.”

October traffic for both carriers has plummeted compared to the same period last year, with Cathay carrying just 38,541 passengers, down 98.6% on 2019 figures. Singapore Airlines has experienced a similar slump, with October numbers down 98.2% on last year’s, at 35,500.

Brendan Sobie from Sobie Aviation says at this stage, the implementation of a travel bubble is mostly symbolic, adding that the aviation sector will take years to fully recover.

“Bubbles provide a little bit of incremental additional international traffic in the interim period until the pandemic ends. A full recovery in air traffic will still take a few years, even with a vaccine, though bubbles will help get the process moving.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

China imposes community lockdowns in 3 cities with small Covid outbreaks | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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China imposes community lockdowns in 3 cities with small Covid outbreaks | VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Mass testing in the Chinese city of Tianjin

Millions of people are now being tested in China, with new lockdowns and some districts shutting down schools. On Sunday there were 11 new cases, yesterday another 22 across the country. After a relatively low number of local transmissions for several months now, locally transmitted Covid-19 cases are popping up in 3 cities across the country – Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli.

Even though the number of new cases remains minuscule compared to the US, parts of Europe and the UK, Chinese health officials are warning that the chance of the virus spreading is now greater in the cooler weather. Despite the virus being largely contained in China, the authorities are taking no chances and are taking direct local actions to control any further spread. Chinese officials say that the swift local lockdowns has allowed communities, cities and industry to re-open quicker – around China manufacturing and industry is reported to be back to around 93% of pre-covid activity.

The National Health Commission reported 2 new locally transmitted cases in Shanghai over the past day – a total of 7 since Friday. China has recorded 86,442 cases overall and 4,634 deaths since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019.

• The 2 latest cases confirmed in Shanghai were close contacts of another airport worker who was diagnosed with Covid-19 earlier this month. Now the city’s Pudong International airport is testing all of its workers, collecting 17,719 samples for testing. Airport workers were given last-minute orders to get tested and there were some chaotic videos (below) posted on social media with workers arguing with officials in hazmat suits.

• In Tianjin, an industrial seaport just south east of Beijing, health workers have collected more than 2.2 million samples for testing from residents, after 5 locally transmitted cases were discovered there last week. Tianjin officials shut down a pre-school and moved all the teachers, families and students to a quarantine space.

• In Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 people, local health authorities are testing all residents after 2 cases were reported on Saturday.

China has been able to control any minor outbreaks with its top-down community lockdowns which restrict people to their homes across entire neighbourhoods, shutting down shopping precincts, schools and hospitals.

Earlier this year, in February, Chinese officials locked down the city of Wuhan, where cases were first reported, for more than 2 months to contain the virus, with the local government shutting down all traffic and confining residents to their homes.

Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the policy of ‘Clearing to Zero’ is swift and effective.

“Clearing to zero is actually the most economically effective way to do epidemic prevention. If you don’t do that, then this problem will get more troublesome. Use a heavier hand, and get to zero, then people will feel reassured.”

SOURCE: Associate Press | Reuters

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