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RPT-EXCLUSIVE: Japan eyes British help to sink German bid for Australian submarine – Sources

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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RPT-EXCLUSIVE: Japan eyes British help to sink German bid for Australian submarine – Sources | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

RPT-EXCLUSIVE-Japan eyes British help to sink German bid for Australian submarine-sources
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: A Japanese government team is in talks with at least two top British firms to help a
Japanese consortium land one of the world’s most lucrative defense contracts, a $50 billion project to build submarines for Australia, according to sources.

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp (TKMS), a rival bidder, is wooing anxious members of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ruling Liberal Party with the economic and political benefits of its proposal.

Two Japanese government officials and a company source in Tokyo said Babcock International Group and BAE Systems had approached the consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries with offers of help. Other British defense contractors may also be involved, they said.

All three sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Both Babcock and BAE declined to say whether they would work with the consortium, the builders of Japan’s 4,000-ton Soryu diesel-electric submarine, for the Australian project.

A spokesman for Japan’s defense ministry said the Japanese bidders were responding to Australia’s desire to have as much local participation as possible in the project.

“With Mitsubishi Heavy taking the lead, we are gathering information from both Japanese and foreign companies in regard to Australian industry, but we are unable to disclose any specific names,” the spokesman said.

Both Babcock and BAE Systems are well established in Australia. Industry sources in Europe said any decision by Babcock to work with the Japanese bid could unsettle TKMS and France’s state-controlled naval contractor DCNS, which is also in the fray for the submarine contract.

Babcock does maintenance work on Australia’s Collins-class submarines, including the torpedo tubes and other parts of its weapons system.

BAE Systems, which builds the UK’s nuclear submarines, employs 4,500 people in Australia. It’s biggest project there is the construction of Australia’s two new 27,000-ton Canberra-class amphibious assault ships, the largest ships ever to be operated by the Royal Australian Navy.

“Japan is arguably ahead of the Germans and French in regard to its technology, but lags in terms of doing business in Australia and organizing an industrial package there,” one of the sources in Japan said.

Japan may also seek cooperation from Saab by tapping the engineers at the Swedish company who built and still help to maintain the Collins-class submarine fleet, the sources said.

Saab also declined to comment.

POLITICAL WORRIES

Parliamentary colleagues of Abbott have told Reuters that the fear of a serious blow back from failing to choose the winner of the contract wisely is one of the most hotly debated topics within the ruling party. The bidders were well aware of this, they said.

According to a company document seen by Reuters, the German bidder TKMS will train local contractors using advanced German manufacturing and production technology and help establish
Australia as a naval shipbuilding and repair hub in the Asia-Pacific region. The document is to be shared privately with Australian government ministers as part of the proposal.

That is an attractive proposition for a country still reeling from the decision by Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp and General Motors Co to halt local production in 2016.

Two TKMS executives told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that the Australian government would struggle politically to turn down the economic incentives built into their proposal.

“There’s an awful lot of politicians across the board…who will not be very politically happy if this A$50 billion [life cost] sophisticated program goes to solve Japan’s deficit problem,” TKMS Australia Chairman John White told Reuters.

Senator Sean Edwards – chairman of the economics committee in the upper house of Australia’s parliament – said that no government could say yes to any proposal that did not offer significant economic benefits for Australia.

“I think it’s compelling [to build the submarines in Australia]. And I think this is a problem for Japan,” Edwards told Reuters.

However, Australia’s Abbot has described Japan as his country’s “closest friend in Asia”. With the United States also keen to spur friendlier ties between its two key allies in Asia, Tokyo has Washington’s backing for made-in-Japan submarines packed with American surveillance, radar and weapons equipment, sources familiar with Washington’s thinking told Reuters earlier.

Each of the bidders has been asked to provide three estimates; one for construction overseas, one for a partial assembly in Australia, and one for a full build in an Australian shipyard. A recommendation is likely in November.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Chiang Rai

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin

Greeley Pulitzer

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Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | The Thaiger

An 49-year-old Italian has been charged with drug smuggling after arriving at Perth Airport from Chiang Mai. He allegedly had about 300 grams of heroin, worth about 135,000 Australian dollars, hidden inside his body.

After trace technology during a baggage examination showed positive for narcotics, Australian Border Force officers referred him to the Australian Federal Police for an internal exam.

The man was taken to hospital where 63 pellets of heroin were allegedly found in his stomach. X-Rays also revealed three more pellets of heroin had been internally inserted into his rectum.

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | News by The Thaiger

Photo: Australian Border Force

He was charged with importing a controlled drug and faces 25 years in prison.

A spokeman for the Australian Border Forcesaid the ABF is fully aware of the lengths people are willing to go to bring drugs into Australia.

“They not only risk lengthy jail time, but are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and health,” he said.

“Smuggling drugs internally is an incredibly stupid endeavour. Furthermore there is a risk that stomach acid will eat through the wrapping of the heroin, consequently risking a fatal drug overdose,” according to federal police.

SOURCE: chiangraitimes.com

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World

Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios

The Thaiger

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Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios | The Thaiger

Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.

The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.

Here are some possible scenarios ahead…

A technical extension

Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.

Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

More delays

Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.

Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.

A longer delay could also allow for a general election.

A crash and burn exit

The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.

Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.

Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.

Another general election

Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.

Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.

Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.

Another referendum

Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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