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THIMPHU, 21 April, 2021 (TON): During the ministry’s mid-term review (MTR), Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) should redefine its role in governance.

He said that the ministry should implement activities than just approving information, communication and technology (ICT) activities of agencies in the country.

“Then the ICT standard would be good and it would strengthen the ministry,” he said.

The Prime Minister made the comments during the ministry’s mid-term review (MTR) held on 18 April.

The ministry officials reported that they have achieved the KPI of increasing the frequency of urban transport services during the rush hours, percentage of the population with access to online payments, and effective improvement of the airport security.

However, they also reported that numerous projects have begun under the Digital Drukyul Project, which is one of the flagship projects of the government.

The projects included the national digital identity (NDI) project, which has begun collecting the biometric data of individuals.

COLOMBO, 21 April, 2021 (TON): The Russian Federation was one of the first countries to help Sri Lanka in establishing the industrial base, said the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in Parliament recently.

He spoke at the revival meeting of the Russian-Sri Lankan Parliamentary Friendship Association for the ninth Parliament held recently in Parliament.

He said, “We must not forget that the Russian Federation was amongst the first countries to assist Sri Lanka in establishing its industrial base, and at that time the three industrial projects, Ceylon Steel Corporation, along with Ceylon Tire Corporation and Ceylon Sugar Corporation, were established in Sri Lanka with the assistance of Soviet Union.”

The Speaker further said, ‘’The very first Sri Lanka-Russia Parliamentary Friendship Association was inaugurated on the 9 October 1998, and the most Senior Parliamentarian, at the moment in the country, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister and the then Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development was elected as the first President of this Association.’’

"Sri Lanka imports a large number of items from Russia. On the other hand, Russia is a very valuable importer of Sri Lanka. Russia has become the single largest buyer of Ceylon tea for several years. Since 01st January 2010, Russian Generalized Scheme of Preferences – GSP - scheme has been granting preferential tariffs to certain developing countries and Sri Lanka has been a beneficiary country of this scheme. Under the GSP of Russian Federation, Sri Lanka enjoys 25 per cent of tariff reduction from the current customs duty rate,’’ he added.

Nevertheless, the meeting was held under the patronage of Hon. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, H.E. the Ambassador of Russian Federation in Sri Lanka Yury Materiy, and Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake and was attended by Ministers, State Ministers and Members of Parliament.

 

KATHMANDU, 21 April, 2021 (TON): The government body is responsible for the welfare of Nepali migrant workers, including repatriation of the dead; at least 19 bodies are still stuck abroad, according to the Foreign Employment Board.

The bodies remain stuck in labor destination countries because of flight issues, especially after the pandemic, and other administrative problems in those countries.

Subedi said, “The Himalayan Airlines does not have a wide-body plane, making it difficult for bringing back the bodies from Malaysia. Narrow-body aircraft do not have enough space for ferrying coffins.”

 “Only Nepal Airlines has wide-body planes which can bring many dead bodies in a single trip,” he added.

According to Din Bandhu Subedi, a spokesperson with the Board, four more bodies in Malaysia are awaiting repatriation. Likewise, there are 13 bodies of Nepali migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and two in Kuwait still waiting to be brought home.

However, the repatriation of bodies, which had stopped since March last year, could resume only after the government started chartered flights to labor destination countries to bring home stranded Nepali workers.

BEIJING, 21 April, 2021 (TON): On Tuesday, the Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that China is willing to work with Saudi Arabia and other members of the international community to build an equitable climate governance regime.

This regime will be mutually cooperative and beneficial for all.

Efforts to push for a comprehensive and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities were also discussed in a phone conversation with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Chinese side, he said, supports Saudi Arabia's proposals and measures on promoting global climate governance and sustainable development, Xi said.

However, China and Saudi Arabia are comprehensive strategic partners and also important cooperation partners. Moreover, over recent years, bilateral relations have witnessed comprehensive development, with political mutual trust growing ever deeper and cooperation in various areas expanding continuously.

MALE, 21 April, 2021 (TON): The office has the option of requesting an Interpol red notice to bring former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed back to Maldives to stand trial for multiple sexual offenses, said prosecutor General Hussain Shameem.

Ali Waheed travelled out of Maldives in February, after Criminal Court lifted the travel ban order against him.

The decision to release Ali Waheed’s passport was appealed by the Prosecutor General’s Office with the High Court.

Earlier this April, this case got dismissed after the office failed to establish Ali Waheed’s current address, making the court unable to serve the summons.

The High Court granted the Prosecutor General’s Office the option of resubmitting the case once they establish Ali Waheed’s current address.

The decision to release Ali Waheed’s passport has now been appealed with the Supreme Court.

However, Ali pled not guilty to all seven charges during his arraignment at the Criminal Court on 24 January, and will be imprisoned for 21 years if proven guilty of the charges.

 

ISLAMABAD, 20 April 2021, (TON): Senior journalist Absar Alam shot, injured in Islamabad by unidentified terrorists. In a video  Absar Alam said that he was shot at while walking outside his home bur he had not lost hope". He added, "My message to those who did this is that I am not going to be scared by such tactic." He was rushhed to the hospital where his conditions has been described as stable. 
IGP Islamabad constituted a special team under the command of SSP Investigation to investigate the matter from all aspects. The Team has been directed to use forensic methods to trace the terrorists involved in the incident.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) “strongly condemned” the incident and demanded that the attackers be arrested immediately. “It seems that deep state is at large against journalist community who are victims of rising crime and terrorism in the country,” it said in a statement. The PFUJ also demanded that a judicial commission be set up to investigate the attack against Alam and crimes committed against other journalists.

In the recent development, Absar Alam has challenged a summon issued to him by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over his recent tweets and social media posts. He challenged the summon in the Islamabad High Court on the pretext that the FIA summoned him without providing details of the complaint.

As a Chairman PEMRA he ordered cancellation of TV channels airing Indian content. He clarified that TV channels airing Indian content to be suspended by PEMRA.

 

 

 

JAKARTA, 20 April, 2021 (TON): On Tuesday ASEAN bloc's secretariat said, Southeast Asian countries will discuss the crisis in Myanmar at a summit in Jakarta on Saturday.

The summit will be held after the European Union imposed its toughest sanctions yet on the junta that seized power there on 1 February.

The summit would take place at its Jakarta headquarters on Saturday under strict health and security protocols due to the pandemic, confirming an earlier advisory, Romeo Jr. Abad Arca assistant director of the community relations division of the ASEAN Secretariat, said.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been trying to find a way to guide fellow member Myanmar out of the bloody turmoil that has followed the military coup against an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar's military has shown little willingness to engage with its neighbors and no sign of wanting to talk to members of the government it ousted.

On Friday, pro-democracy politicians including ousted members of parliament from Suu Kyi's party announced the formation of a National Unity Government (NUG).

It includes Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the coup, as well as leaders of the pro-democracy protests and ethnic minorities.

However, it is the legitimate authority and has called for international recognition and an invitation to the ASEAN meeting in Min Aung Hlaing's place, says NUG.

 

BEIJING, 20 April, 2021 (TON): On Monday, the Ministry of Education confirmed that second phase of national language resources protection project has been launched by China.

The project aims is to promote standard written and spoken Chinese and protect dialects and languages of ethnic minorities.

More than 350 colleges, universities, and research institutions have participated in the project so far, involving over 4,500 professionals.

This project has been initiated in 2015, that is a largest-scale project committed to language resources protection worldwide, said the Ministry.

However, in 2019, the first phase of the project was completed that covered 34 provincial-level Chinese regions.

 

ISLAMABAD, 20 April, 2021 (TON): A three-day official visit to Iran has been scheduled by the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi starting from today (Tuesday) at the invitation of Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif.

In a video statement prior his departure from UAE to Iran on Tuesday, the foreign minister said important regional matters would come under discussion during the visit to Tehran.

Iran being a neighbor of Afghanistan was an important country for Pakistan in view of pursuing the efforts towards peace and stability in Afghanistan, Qureshi mentioned.

Moreover, he thanked the Supreme Leadership of Iran for supporting Pakistan and for taking stance on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, the minister  termed Iran not only Pakistan’s neighbor, but a “tested friend” and expressed desire to strengthen ties in all areas.

LILONGWE, 20 April, 2021 (TON): Peter Mutharika Malawian ex-president Peter Mutharika has accused the current government of politically prosecuting him.

The feud is the freezing of his bank accounts and arrests of his party officials over corruption allegations, but the authorities have maintained that they are simply following the law.

During a televised news conference at his home, Mutharika said, "The aim is simply to create a hardship on me. Even the account where my retirement package comes in, that account is closed. So, my retirement benefits cannot come in. The idea is to make me totally incompetent financially to make me impossible to support the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party), and therefore to destroy the DPP and make a one-party dictatorship."

Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) last August froze the personal bank accounts of Mutharika and his wife, Gertrude, in a probe seeking to uncover his role in a 5-billion kwacha ($6.6 million) cement scandal.

In his petition, the former President also wanted the court to order Standard bank to give him unrestricted access to his funds.

 

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