World Newsletter

29 February 2020


Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad will stand for the premiership on behalf of the
former ruling coalition, the interim prime minister said on Saturday, less
than a week after he quit and plunged the country into turmoil.
"I am now confident that I have the numbers needed to garner majority
support," Mr. Mahathir said in a statement.
That meant that Mr. Mahathir, who is the world's oldest government leader at
94, would reunite with on-off ally and long-term rival Anwar Ibrahim (72),
resuming a pact that swept the coalition to a surprise election victory in
"Pakatan Harapan states its full support towards Dr Mahathir as candidate
for prime minister," said a statement from the coalition formed by the two
men whose struggle has shaped Malaysian politics for two decades.
Mr. Mahathir has thus secured the likely support he needs to return as prime
minister full-time, less than a week after he resigned and was appointed as
interim leader.
Tension had persisted between Mr. Mahathir and Mr. Anwar over the prime
minister's promise to one day hand power to the younger man. No date for
that was ever set, however.
Neither Mr. Mahathir nor Pakatan Harapan made any mention of that promise in
Saturday's statements.


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called women's inequality
"stupid" and a cause for global shame on Thursday, as he pledged to press
governments to end discriminatory laws in the face of a "strong and
relentless pushback" against women's rights.
While Guterres did not name and shame, US President Donald Trump's
administration has led a push at the UN against the promotion of sexual and
reproductive health services for women because the administration sees that
as code for abortion.
Speaking ahead of the annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of
Women in New York next month, Guterres warned that the state of women's
rights was dire and said he would seek to end "default male thinking" across
the United Nations.
"Just as slavery and colonialism were a stain on previous centuries, women's
inequality should shame us all in the 21st. Because it is not only
unacceptable; it is stupid," Guterres said in a speech to The New School in
New York.
He said legal protections against rape and domestic violence were being
diluted or rolled back and that in 34 countries rape within marriage was
still legal.
"There is a strong and relentless pushback against women's rights," Guterres
said. "Women's sexual and reproductive rights are under threat from
different sides."
Guterres said on Thursday he would urge governments to achieve gender parity
in senior leadership. He said he achieved gender parity among his senior
leadership team - on Jan. 1, 90 women and 90 men were in the ranks of
full-time senior leadership, two years ahead of the target date he set.
"Women have equaled and outperformed men in almost every sphere," he said.
"It is time to stop trying to change women, and start changing the systems
that prevent them from achieving their potential."


At least 30 people were killed and several others seriously injured when a
passenger bus hit a train in Pakistan's Sindh province on Friday, according
to a media report.
The accident happened at Rohri area in Sukkur district when the bus was
trying to cross an open unmanned railway crossing and hit the train, the
Express Tribune reported.
"At least eight bodies have been shifted to the nearest hospital as the
rescue is still underway," the report quoted a senior police official as


Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist who has reprimanded governments across
the world for failing her generation with climate change, is expected to
draw a crowd of thousands on Friday when she leads a protest in Britain.
Known simply as Greta, 17-year-old Thunberg has captured the imagination of
many young people with impassioned demands for world leaders to take urgent
action to prevent what she says will be an environmental cataclysm.
She will address a "Youth Strike for Climate" rally in the English city of
Bristol, though police issued a safety warning due to the number of people
expected to attend.
"The worlds youth are waking up and taking action on the climate crisis,"
said the event organisers, the Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate group, which
insisted it had prepared properly and did not need to be "patronised" by
safety worries.
The group is part of a global movement of school students who stage protests
in school time over what they say is the lack of government action on
climate change.
Britain is targetting net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and wants to
bring forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035 at the
Organisers say they expect between 15,000 and 60,000 protesters from across
the country to attend the event on Friday.


Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a high profile critic of Beijing, was
arrested on Friday for taking part in last year's pro-democracy protests
that rocked the city for seven months.
The 72-year-old owner of the Apple Daily newspaper is accused of joining a
rally on August 31 that had been banned by the police for security reasons.
Mr. Lai was arrested and charged along with veteran pro-democracy activists
Lee Cheuk Yan and Yeung Sum, the police said. The trio could be jailed for
up to five years if convicted of taking part in an "unauthorised assembly".
They are due to appear in court on May 5.
Tens of thousands of protesters defied the police ban on the demonstration
marking the anniversary of Beijing's rejection of a call for universal
suffrage for Hong Kong that sparked the 2014 "Umbrella Movement".
Some gathered in the name of a religious procession - which does not require
police approval - while others claimed they were shopping.
In a separate charge, Mr. Lai is accused of intimidating a reporter in 2018
during a vigil for the victims of China's bloody Tiananmen crackdown on June
4, 1989.
Amnesty International said the legal action against the trio was politically
motivated. "These unjustifiable arrests are a shameless attempt to harass
and silence those in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement," said the rights
group's Man-kei Tam.


Luxembourg will become the first country in the world on Saturday to offer a
free public transport system as the government tries to reduce particularly
dense car traffic.
Some cities have already taken similar partial measures but the transport
ministry said it was the first time such a decision would cover an entire
The free transport, which is being flagged as "an important social measure",
will affect approximately 40 percent of households and is likely to save
each one around 100 euros ($110) per year.
The measure is part of a plan intended to reduce congestion.

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