Monday, November 30, 2015

IMMIGRATION MEGA-FRAUD – The Rich Chinese Immigrants to Canada who don’t really WANT to live there

A photo released by the Canada Border Services Agency shows some of the doctored Chinese passports seized from the offices of Xun Wang, along with fake Chinese immigration stamps. Photo: CBSA

The case of Xun “Sunny” Wang, a Vancouver-area consultant jailed for masterminding the biggest immigration fraud in Canadian history, is startling in scope. Wang, 46, who was sentenced on October 23 to seven years in prison, conducted his fraud on an almost industrial scale, as he helped rich Chinese clients maintain Canadian permanent-resident status and later obtain citizenship.

Chinese passports both real and fake were shipped in bulk to the mainland, where professional forgers would doctor them to make it look like their owners had been present in Canada when they had actually been in China. Wang would set up his clients in fake jobs at his firms, printing business cards for them and issuing pay slips - adding insult to injury, their fake salaries were so low his wealthy clients were able to file tax returns that allowed them to claim from Canadian coffers tax benefits intended for the working poor.  

Adding insult to injury, their fake salaries were so low his wealthy clients were able to claim from Canadian coffers tax benefits intended for the working poor

Letters from schools and lawyers were also forged, as well as lease agreements. Fake mailing addresses and phone numbers were set up.

From 2006 until his arrest in 2014, Wang and his employees at his unlicenced New Can and Wellong immigration consultancies in Richmond are known to have helped 1,200 clients cheat immigration rules. In all, they paid Wang C$10 million (HK$59 million) for his illegal services, the Provincial Court of British Columbia found.

Yet the most significant aspect of Wang’s case is neither the scale of his operation, nor its sophistication and audacity.

It is the motivation of his clients.

Immigration fraud as the public typically understands it involves various schemes to allow unqualified people to live and work in Canada.

Yet, bizarrely, Wang’s case involved clients willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to AVOID living in Canada when they were perfectly entitled to do so, having already obtained permanent resident status.

Understanding their motivation is key to understanding how Wang found such a steady stream of customers.

Wang’s clients wanted to be able to maintain their PR status without actually living in the Great White North, since their jobs and businesses were back in China. And by faking their presence in Canada they would eventually be able to claim Canadian citizenship, with all the privileges it confers, including the right to live in Canada – eventually.

Canada's 'immigration jail'

That anyone should immigrate to Canada while regarding living there as a burdensome task to be endured or avoided might sound weird, but the concept is so common among some Chinese immigrant circles that there is a word for it: yiminjian, or “immigration jail”. The term refers to the period of compulsory Canadian residency (now, four years out of the previous six) which one must suffer before applying for citizenship. Think of a Canadian passport as the get-out-of-jail card.

It needs to be emphasised that this mindset does not apply to all Chinese immigrants - only that subset for whom greater opportunities exist back in China (and only a subset of those). The problem in this instance isn't about nationality or ethnicity - it's about wealth and the commodification of immigration status.

The case against Wang did not state the specific programmes under which his clients arrived in Canada, but they were described as “wealthy” and “well-to-do” by prosecutors. A long-time Canadian immigration industry source with decades of involvement in Chinese immigration said “the biggest single category would clearly be the investor-class [husbands]”.

He was referring to the now-defunct Immigrant Investor Programme and the still-operational Quebec Immigrant Investor Programme. These schemes effectively put Canadian PR status up for sale, to anyone worth C$1.6 million and willing to hand over an C$800,000 “investment”, for a period of five years.

The source said he wasn’t surprised by Wang’s case “although the scale of this was rather impressive”.

Such newcomers are often criticised for treating citizenship as a business proposition – after it has been presented to them as such

David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China

However, he said the case illustrated the inherent difficulty in policing programmes which encourage PR status and citizenship to be viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold, and that for some rich immigrants, what he called “the bigger fraud” begins from the moment that they falsely undertake to live in Canada.

“It illustrates the fact that many of these economic immigrants got their status through immigration fraud ab initio, from beginning to end,” he said. “But this bigger fraud is not so easy to prove…it comes down to the question of intent. There are no documents [that can prove it]. But after 20 years of China being the main source of business immigrants, you’d think that the politicians would have noticed that the vast majority of these astronaut dads do not in fact reside in Canada. Most never had any intention of doing so. The goal is to get the wife and kids here.”

Overcoming this mindset would be difficult he said. He suggested that one way might be that “if immigrants are [supposedly] going to Quebec, give them a conditional visa ‘[to] demonstrate to us that you have resided here in Quebec for the past five years, then you’ll get unconditional permanent resident status’.”

However, he said the case illustrated the inherent difficulty in policing programmes which encourage PR status and citizenship to be viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold, and that for some rich immigrants, what he called “the bigger fraud” begins from the moment that they falsely undertake to live in Canada.

“It illustrates the fact that many of these economic immigrants got their status through immigration fraud ab initio, from beginning to end,” he said. “But this bigger fraud is not so easy to prove…it comes down to the question of intent. There are no documents [that can prove it]. But after 20 years of China being the main source of business immigrants, you’d think that the politicians would have noticed that the vast majority of these astronaut dads do not in fact reside in Canada. Most never had any intention of doing so. The goal is to get the wife and kids here.”

Overcoming this mindset would be difficult he said. He suggested that one way might be that “if immigrants are [supposedly] going to Quebec, give them a conditional visa ‘[to] demonstrate to us that you have resided here in Quebec for the past five years, then you’ll get unconditional permanent resident status’.”

UniversityCanada’s former ambassador to China, David Mulroney, in his recently published book on Canada-China relations, pointed out that the problem of investor immigrants heading back to China to earn their livelihoods was one of Canada’s making. “Such newcomers are often criticised for treating citizenship as a business proposition – after it has been presented to them as such,” he writes in Middle Power, Middle Kingdom.

“We’ve been relying on the dubious notion that an applicant’s net worth is one of the most reliable indicators when it comes to predicting the likelihood of a happy and successful transition to Canadian life. What does this say about us to people who are considering moving here?” Mulroney says.

“It certainly fails to give pride of place to the qualities and values that have always attracted people to Canada.”

The fallout from Wang’s fraud continues. Seven of his former employees have been charged; two are fugitives while five were due in court this month.

As for the fate of Wang’s 1,200 clients, Judge Reg Harris ominously warned in sentencing:  “I expect the immigration authorities will have to review the circumstances of all those concerned and it is quite likely that some persons will be removed from Canada.”

By Ian Young the SCMP's former International Editor. A journalist for more than 20 years, he worked for Australian newspapers and the London Evening Standard before arriving in Hong Kong in 1997. There he won or shared awards for excellence in investigative reporting and human rights reporting, and the HK News Awards Scoop of the Year. He moved to Canada with his wife in 2010 and is now the SCMP's Vancouver correspondent.

Philippine Presidential Race new App

                                                         A screenshot from the app.

“Let’s get Rody to rumble and be part of Duterte’s journey!”

This is the tagline of the new gaming app, “Go Duterte”, which allows you to play as macho presidential candidate Rody Duterte as he slinks the streets of the Philippines, killing criminals and corrupt politicians while unlocking a sophisticated arsenal.

Duterte, the polarising and popular mayor of Davao, entered the Philippine presidential race at the last minute in a move which jolted all other contenders/pretenders. He is well known for transforming Davao from a crime ridden and corrupt city to one of the safest in the world, trailing only Osaka, Seoul, Singapore and Bursa (that’s in Turkey in case you hadn’t heard).

However, some of the legend may be more fiction than fact. Duterte is also widely despised by human rights groups for his links to death squads in Davao which have been used to eliminate crime.

MILLIONAIRE SOCIALISTS NEED ISLAMIC IMMIGRANT... because Islamic immigrants will always vote socialist (An Australian Perspective)

MILLIONAIRE SOCIALISTS NEED ISLAMIC IMMIGRANT... because Islamic immigrants will always vote socialist (An Australian Perspective)

In excess of 80 per cent of Muslim immigrants rely on welfare and that is not exclusive to Australia, it is a world-wide anomaly that is crippling every budget from Canberra to Westminster and from the White House to the Fifth Republique.

Newly elected Canadian millionaire socialist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose father Pierre was an unabashed Communist, has declared open borders to Syrian “refugees” and is determined to welcome an extra 25,000 by year’s end.

Deposed PM Stephen Harper, along with Mulroney and Chretien spent almost 30 years cleaning up the disastrous mess left by Pierre Trudeau. Canadians at long last could stop worrying about Canada defaulting on its debt, or being isolated from its allies.

Now all that repair work is about to unravel due to the election of Pierre’s charismatically shaggable son, Justin Trudeau.  

The Socialist Left considers the odd act of terrorism a small price the proletariat needs to pay for a Utopian new world order of compliant socialist governments orchestrated from the UN. Theoretically conspiratorial you say? Nope, there is a consistent trend here that leapfrogs all the conspiracy theories.

GREECE: Despite its insolvency has welcomed increasing numbers of “refugees", Hundreds have drowned.

AUSTRALIA (under Rudd/Gillard): 50,000 unprocessed Muslim opportunists live among us. There were 1,200 drownings, mostly women and children, in the process of getting here. 12,000 now, more next year.

GERMANY: Despite the onset of another record cold winter Merkel’s socialist government has welcomed 800,000 through open borders, she speaks of another half million next year. Many drowned in the waters off the Greek islands.

FRANCE: Socialist Hollande ignores the unholy Islamic mess created in his once-magical country and dismisses the Paris atrocities to invite 35,000 more unprocessed Syrian “refugees”.

BELGIUM: A century of socialists, separatists, greens and unions have made Belgium a political nightmare. With no party having a majority and alliances changing daily, Muslims have made Brussels the European headquarters of terrorism with that city boasting a 25 per cent Muslim population. A total of 5,600 Syrians have been approved while an average of 2,000 more are arriving weekly.

The US: Obama has been promoting the Islamisation of America for seven years. He is taking 10,000 this year with talk of 150,000 next year. Obama was reared as a Muslim in a Muslim family. His brother is an accountant for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Obama spent a fortune of taxpayers’ money trying to get the Egyptian terrorist group elected. He was successful, but it was almost immediately overthrown. He still holds passionately to the Muslim faith and has no sovereign borders to the south where 11.5 million Latino illegals have arrived from. He is facing a States’ revolt over the current 10,000 unvetted Muslim refugees and he maintains that if it comes to war he will stand with the Muslims.

SWEDEN: The newly-elected Socialist Government has welcomed 40,000 Syrians this year with another 80,000 planned for next year, despite Sweden’s economy being in dire straits. Sweden has an “open door” policy when it comes to immigration while Denmark’s conservatives have taken the sugar off the table to dissuade the Syrians from arriving there.

ITALY:  More than 110,000 have arrived there this year. As with Greece, many opt to use this country as a staging post to wealthier countries with more generous welfare payments.

QATAR, the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, SAUDI ARABIA and ISRAEL have refused entry to all Syrians claiming asylum. SPAIN has been reluctant to accept any.

All Socialist Left governments, without exception, have dismantled their borders and are welcoming millions of unknown Muslims from war-torn areas that have been purposefully created by leaders like Obama, Turkey’s Erdogan, the Saudis and  the Qataris, all encouraged by the UNHCR.

Don’t know about you but if Australia was a war-torn country I would be inclined to stay and fight rather than run.

But Muslims have a history of running, particularly after they have fallen foul of legal authorities. So what quality of immigrant are we getting?

A good sprinkling of career criminals and prospective terrorists is a reasonable suggestion.

By Larry Pickering…Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.

China won't be afraid to flex its muscle over the South China Sea

China is already a great power, and is on the way to becoming an even greater one. For 125 nations including Australia, China is already their biggest trading partner. 

Its wealth is translating into military might, too. In its annual military parade though Beijing in September, China proudly displayed its potentially game-changing new missile for the first time. 

The so-called "carrier killer", with its claimed ability to strike US aircraft carriers at a range of up to 1550km, was clearly painted "DF21-D" on its side – in English lettering, just to make sure the world noticed.

The unresolved question, though, is how this increasingly powerful China will behave toward its neighbours. Will it use peaceful methods to solve disagreements? Or will it be prepared to use force to get its way? This was the big question posed to a group of senior Chinese delegates last Friday behind closed doors in a room on Sydney Harbour. The responses were not all reassuring. 

The good news is that the 18 Chinese delegates to the annual Australia-China High-Level Dialogue were very upbeat on relations with Australia. And there was general rhetorical support for peaceful approaches to settling disputes. 

The bad news is that they kept alive the option of the use of force to settle the most sensitive neighbourhood disputes, the ones that China designates "core interests". It was a disturbing signal to an anxious region. The "core interests" long included Taiwan and Tibet. In 2010 Beijing added to the list the South China Sea, where China's claims overlap with those of five other countries. 

Beijing considers its "core interests" to be non-negotiable red lines where it has always kept open the option of armed force to protect its claims.

In the dialogue last week, a Chinese representative compared Beijing's claims in the South China Sea to Australia's claim to the city of Darwin. In other words, automatic and indisputable.  The differences, of course, are that Darwin is on the Australian mainland, and that no other nation lays claim to it.

The shipping lanes through the South China Sea constitute the world's most valuable trading route. They hold a vital interest for Australia – some two-thirds of Australian exports travel through the sea.

The dialogue is a government-run event that brings together  officials of both countries as well as business chiefs, cultural leaders, academics and journalists.  Of the 18 Chinese, six were current or former officials of ambassador rank or above.

I was one of the journalists from the Australia side, and the Chatham House rule applies; I am permitted to tell you what was said in the meeting, but not to identify who said it.

Both countries were upbeat in their assessments of bilateral relations. It was, indeed, a year of major developments. The China-Australia free trade agreement has been signed and is due to take effect next month. This year has also seen the first joint naval exercises between the two countries. It was a year of "an unprecedented level of co-operation", said a Chinese participant, and surely he is right.

 An Australian speaker set out clearly the big question that every capital in the region is asking about China and the future of the Asia-Pacific:  "What kind of strategic culture is the lodestone for the future – will it be based on international law and norms, or the rule of power?"

It was, he said, the fundamental question for all, and the South China Sea was a test case. 

"The perception of China's peaceful rise has been put into question" by its land reclamations and militarisation of atolls and islands in the South China Sea. The consequences of mismanagement of these disputes could be "profound", he said.

He, like another Australian speaker, urged that China demonstrate its goodwill towards its neighbours by concluding a code of conduct with the countries 10 of ASEAN. This group includes all the rival claimants to the South China Sea except for Taiwan.

China and ASEAN declared their intent to agree to such a code in 2002. But since then little has happened. Beijing has refused to negotiate with ASEAN as a bloc. It insists on negotiations with each of the ASEAN countries separately. This, of course, gives China preponderance in each one-on-one.

With negotiations going nowhere, China has moved to change the facts on the ground with its island-building program, defying its neighbours to stop it.

But the Chinese response to this suggestion was one of nationalistic indignation. A Chinese delegate said that Vietnam and the Philippines were the first to assert unilateral claims to islands in the South China Sea. Vietnam illegally occupies 29 islands and the Philippines 14, he said, while China has occupied seven. "Unilateral assertion was begun not by China but by other claimants."

He was backed up by another Chinese delegate who said that China was the country which had paid a toll in the South China Sea, suffering from the illegal actions of others. Implicitly, it was now China's turn to assert itself as it wished.

An Australian asked the Chinese to return to the question of principles that should apply – did China support unilateral assertion, or peaceful negotiation?  And if Beijing supported unilateral assertion, how did it expect the other countries of the region to respond? The answer brought more heat than light.

If China's answer is that the region's future is to be decided by "the rule of power", other countries  will continue to respond as they have begun  – by continuing a military build-up as they seek to strengthen their bargaining positions for a future decided by brute force.

Peter Hartcher is  international editor Sydney Morning Herald Illustration: John Shakespeare

Myanmar military releases underage soldiers

Myanmar’s military released 53 children and young people from service on Monday as part of an effort to rid its ranks of underage soldiers. Human rights groups have long accused Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, of abuses such as using child soldiers, forcibly recruiting conscripts and confiscating land.

Since the military handed power to a semi-civilian government in 2011, it has taken some steps to professionalize the armed forces, including the release of soldiers recruited while under the age of 18.

“Today’s release is the result of continued efforts of the Government of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw to put an end to the harmful practice of recruiting and using children,” said Renata Lok-Dessallien, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, in a statement.

“I am delighted to see these children and young people returning to their homes and families. We are hopeful that institutional checks that have been put in place and continued efforts will ensure that recruitment of children will exist no more.”

The military has released 146 underage recruits this year and 699 since it signed a joint action plan with the UN in 2012 to end the use of children in the military.

The UN said it had no estimate for the number of underage soldiers in Myanmar. Experts believe Myanmar’s military to be between 300,000 and 350,000 strong, but the military does not release data on its size.

Lok-Dessallien also called on armed ethnic groups to stop recruiting child soldiers.

The UN Secretary-General has listed seven such groups as being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in their operations.

They include the powerful Kachin Independence Army, which controls large swathes of Myanmar’s northern Kachin State, and the United Wa State Army (UWSA). Operating on the Myanmar-China border, the UWSA is regarded as the largest and best equipped of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups.

The announcement of the release comes amid fighting between the military and ethnic groups in the eastern Shan State, as well as in Kachin.

Activists from Shan State last week accused the military of bombing schools and Buddhist temples, firing on civilians and raping women during its recent offensives.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that up to 6,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Shan and another 1,200, including 500 children, in Kachin. Reuters


Indo-Israeli Barak-8 missile may win orders worth billions

India and Israel are likely to win orders worth billions of dollars following the successful test last week of the jointly developed multi-purpose Barak-8 missile system.

“In addition to India and Israel, which are procuring it, other armies around the world have signed with IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) to procure the advanced system. Assembly line production of the missiles and their accompanying systems has already begun”, IAI Programme Director for Air & Missile Defence Systems Boaz Levy told Globes business daily.

“The recent trial has given the system a substantial boost among countries that are still considering whether to procure it, and we believe that in the coming years, we will increase the number of signed contracts for its procurement. This is the spearhead of the defence systems, and a key growth engine for us,” Levy said.

Representatives of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), an equal partner in the joint venture right from the outset, also participated in the recent trial with the next test of the system likely to happen onboard Indian naval vessel INS Kolkata this month, defence officials in Jerusalem said.

Designed to defend against a variety of short-to-long-range airborne threats, including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and projectiles, Barak-8 incorporates a state-of-the-art phased array multi-mission radar, two-way data link, and a flexible command and control system, enabling users to simultaneously engage multiple targets day and night and in all weather.

The missile system is being jointly developed by IAI, DRDO, Israel’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, Rafael and other companies.

Sources involved in the development of the missile system told the business daily they believe that the Israeli Navy will be able to declare it operational within a few months.

A Barak-8 battery, including the Adir radar system made by IAI subsidiary Elta Systems, a command and control system, and the missile launchers, is already installed on the deck of Israeli Navy ship Lahav, from which the new interceptor was fired last week as part of a complete trial of the system.

“All of the instruments related to the weapons system had been tested in the recent trial at the height of which an interceptor missile had been fired from the Lahav’s deck,” Levy was quoted as saying.

“The missile was aimed at a UAV simulating an enemy target. The system’s radar spotted the threat, monitored it in flight, and the data were transferred from it to the Barak-8 command and control centre, which launched the interceptor missile at the UAV.

“Using its homing-in device, the missile aimed itself at the target, made an accurate hit, and destroyed it completely. The missile blew it into fragments. The Barak 8 system, including all of its components, successfully met all the objectives set for it,” Levy said.

The trial focused on the system’s capability in its naval application and the interceptor missile launched at the target was simulating a deep-sea target.

IAI is also testing land-based applications of the system.

The radar and command and control systems stationed on land are said to have also successfully identified and monitored the target, and calculated its trajectory, but did not launch an interceptor missile at it.

The Barak 8’s interceptor range is said to be 70 kilometers, making it capable of handling several threats posed against Israel’s defence, including missiles like the Yakhont which the Israeli army believes is a part of Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah’s arsenal and can be used to hit Israel’s ports, navy ships, merchant vessels, and Mediterranean natural gas facilities.

Professional sources told the Globes that Barak-8 is also capable of providing a solution for surface-to-surface missiles and accurate rockets possessed by Hezbollah that threatens infrastructure facilities in Israel and essential Israel Defence Forces (IDF) bases all over the country.

Barak-8, an upgraded version of the missile Barak system already being used by India and Israel, is designed to defend naval vessels against incoming missiles, planes and drones.

India’s Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) will be assigned the task of producing the missiles with 32 initial ones to be fitted on INS Kolkata.

Israel made MF-STAR radar system, which is capable of simultaneously tracking hundreds of airborne targets to a range of more than 250 kilometres, adds value to the marketing potential of the new system. Asia Times

Australia gets three bidders for huge submarine contract-For Australia, however, cooperation with Japan -- risks angering its biggest trading partner China

Australia gets three bidders for huge submarine contract

For Australia, however, cooperation with Japan -- whose Soryu is widely seen as the best submarine of its type -— risks angering its biggest trading partner China.

Three international bidders are seeking a contract worth up to Aus$50 billion (US$36 billion) to build a next-generation submarine fleet for Australia, it was confirmed Monday.

Submissions have been received from DCNS of France, Germany's TKMS and the Japanese government, Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne announced as the deadline closed.

The contract is to replace the nation's current diesel and electric-powered Collins Class submarines.

Besides matching their range and endurance, the next generation of subs are expected to offer superior sensor performance and stealth capabilities.

The tender process has been politically sensitive, with Canberra keen to maximise Australian industry involvement and jobs. There are fears that any off-the-shelf purchase could kill off the domestic shipbuilding industry.

Payne said in a statement the assessment of the bids "will include the level of Australian industry involvement that will be possible under each option".

In Tokyo a defence ministry official said Japan's proposal includes plans to build the submarines in Australia.

The official said Tokyo was "confident" its bid would win but disclosed no details.

During his visit to Australia earlier in November, Japan's Defence Minister Gen Nakatani said picking Tokyo could help ensure maritime security in the Asia-Pacific.

He alluded to the importance of regional allies such as the US, Japan and Australia working together in the face of China's growing military might.

Nakatani added that if Japan were chosen, it would be a "model for strategic cooperation between Australia, US and Japan".

The French and German bidders have also said they would build a large part or all of the new submarines in Australia.


BALI…Latest Updates…Om Swastiastu...

Bali remains under a heightened security alert following the Paris terror attacks and while Indonesian police track down the 100 Indonesian nationals suspected of having undergone military-style training in Syria.

As we go to press with this edition several flights from Australia to Bali were canceled or delayed over the weekend due to the ash patterns of Mt. Barujari. If you’re flying between Bali and Australia – stay in touch with your air carrier for the latest developments.

Leading this week’s news is a number of fatalities at local hotels. A Russian man died in his room at an East Bali and a Canadian in his room in Kuta; the cause of both deaths remains under investigation. In Nusa Dua last week, two workers died and a third was injured when they were overcome by poisonous gas while trying to clear a sewage line.

After widely reported statements last week by a Coordinating Minister that executions in Indonesia were on hold until further notice, that same Minister now denies making any comments postponing bringing convicted felons before the firing squad.

Bali, led by its Governor, has made it abundantly clear that concepts of Islamic or Syariah Tourism do not fit with Bali’s ideas on cultural tourism.

The rainy season will descend on Bali in a flash, literally. Lightning last week killed two farmers in West Bali. Worth reading is some practical advice for motorcyclists and others on how to stay safe during a lightning storm. There is also news from the weather office that the current heat wave will only end when the rains start in December.

Immigration teams visited businesses in South Bali that employ foreign workers in the health services sector. Immigration and manpower officials identified 9 foreign workers in those visits as requiring follow-up action.

In economic news: ASITA says there’s little sign of an upsurge in visitors following the liberalization of Indonesia’s visa policy. Bank Indonesia predicts Bali will achieve a growth rate of 6.53% and an inflation rate of 2.98% in 2016. And, the Minister of Tourism predicts tourism will soon become Indonesia’s leading source of badly needed foreign exchange.

As Chinese tourist arrivals continue to grow, Bali seeks ways to add 200 Chinese-speaking tour guides to its ranks of licensed guides.

Aviation News: AirAsia books a US$96 million loss for Q3 of 2015. Garuda Indonesia is facing charges of sex discrimination in a Jakarta Court in a complaint filed by female cabin crew. And, Bali will open a transit hotel at its airport in early 2016.

TripAdvisor reports that most Singaporeans are favoring Bali hotels and attraction in planning the Q1 2016 holiday.

Hotel News: The BTDC is eyeing opening a second tourism complex in North Bali to complement its popular Nusa Dua operation. Delightfully luxurious is how we describe a recent visit to The Lovina Bali on the Island’s northern shore.

There’s also news that the popular day boat and dinner cruise operation Bali Hai Cruises has commissioned the planning of a new luxury cruise vessel for Bali.

Read what people wrote to about in this installment of “We Get Mail.”

Looking Ahead:



Om Çanti Çanti Çanti Om ...

J.M. Daniels,
Editor Bali Update
Bali Discovery Tours

Sunday, November 29, 2015


A high-ranking police officer has called Indonesia the capital of terrorism in Southeast Asia, pointing to the Indonesian Islamic Group (NII) as one of the regions first groups to spread radical propaganda and to terrorist organization Jamaah Islamiyah (JI).

These groups had thousands of followers in Indonesia, and many had been arrested, said Jakarta Police chief Ins. Gen. Tito Karnavian.“I said to my friend in Singapore: Your [terrorist group] is only a small branch. [Terrorist groups in] Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka are also small branches of JI,” he added on Thursday as quoted by to Tito, Muslim countries should lead the cooperation against radicalism to be able to overcome these groups. The public should also assist the government in identifying newly formed networks.

An IT system to report radical group activity would be a good mechanism, he said.“The internet is amazing, but efforts to overcome radicalism via the internet are, if not a big zero, only ten on a scale of one to 100,” said Tito.

Tito went on to suggest a tighter detention system for members of radical groups.“Most of the radical group members that were arrested [in Poso, Central Sulawesi] were moved to Java, since its prison didn’t have a special treatment for radicals. It will be dangerous to put the members together there, since they would be able to consolidate,” added Tito.

He also said that [wanted terrorism suspect] Santoso had been previously captured in a robbery case in Palu, Central Sulawesi, and sentenced to three years of imprisonment. But since there had been no special treatment for him, he had been released, and now led the East Indonesia Mujahiddin terrorist network in Poso.“The transfer of prisoners to Java will cut their connections with other radical groups. But, if [we’re] unable to control [the situation], they can meet the bigger bosses here who are more radical,” said Tito. (kes)(+) - See more at: thejakartapost

Tokyo's decision to skirt the ruling of the International Court of Justice and again send its hunting fleet south is a self-defeating complication.

Japan's whaling hypocrisy sets a dangerous precedent

Judges at the highest UN court, order Japan to halt whaling in the Antarctic, rejecting the country's long-held argument that the catch was for scientific purposes.

Malcolm Turnbull needs to directly warn Japan that its dismal choice to resume the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean will damage the relationship with Australia.

This is not simply about saving the whales, although this international campaign stirs more passion in the Australian community than most questions of war and peace.

This entire episode has set a remarkable precedent that won't go unnoticed in Beijing. 

The consequences of Japan's blatant disregard for international law goes much further. In a region where nervous governments are demanding that a more assertive China "follow the established rules" in settling territorial disputes, Tokyo's decision to skirt the ruling of the International Court of Justice and again send its hunting fleet south is a self-defeating complication.

Tokyo will argue it has technically respected the court's decision last year to strike out the supposedly "scientific" program by drawing up a new and updated rationale for whaling. "The Antarctic Ocean has its unique marine ecosystem," reads Japan's latest justification, made public at the weekend, "[with] abundant living resources that could be sustainably exploited for food and other purposes."

The risk of climate change gets a mention in the 110-page document, and understanding how it might effect whales. Or it could be that minke, humpback and fin whales are competing for food, Japan argues. "Investigation" is needed – and that just happens to include killing 4000 minke whales over the next 12 years, and reserving the right to change this "lethal sample size" at any time.

All of which is dubious and debatable. But that is beside the point. Japan's far more significant decision is to exempt itself from the jurisdiction of the international court to prevent any future challenge to whaling.

Japan has made a special declaration to state that the court "does not apply to ... any dispute arising out of, concerning, or relating to research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living resources of the sea".

This entire episode has set a remarkable precedent that won't go unnoticed in Beijing. Japan has been hauled before the independent umpire, had the decision go against it, and so responded by excusing itself from the rules.

Think how that precedent might be applied. Japan and China are caught up in a bitter dispute about who owns an island chain in the East China Sea, which Japan controls as "Senkaku" and China claims ownership of as the "Diaoyu" islands. Tokyo last week announced a plan to station 500 troops nearby, while at the weekend eight Chinese air force bombers and a collection of reconnaissance planes buzzed close to Japanese airspace.

Whenever tensions flare, Australia's standard diplomatic response is to claim it takes no side in the dispute, but to urge a resolution in accordance with international law. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop deployed this very same line when China decided to unilaterally declare any aircraft flying near the disputed islands had to identify themselves – and earned a dressing down in Beijing as a result.

But the issue will be even more complicated next time tensions flare, thanks to Japan's legal exemptionalism on the whaling issue. The precedent will also have consequences for the territorial stoush in the South China Sea between China, the Philippines, Vietnam and other south-east Asian nations.

When the United States made a show of sailing a warship into waters near one of China's artificial islands last month, the point was supposedly to uphold the principles of free navigation international law.

"It's very important for us to uphold the basic principle that these issues should be resolved by international norms, the rule of law and be peacefully settled," President Barack Obama explained at the recent summit of Asia-Pacific leaders. And there was Malcolm Turnbull standing beside him, quick to chime in: "We are very much of the same mind."

What will this argument be worth now that Japan, the region's other great power, has so demonstrably ignored the law?

Australia's response to Japan's decision has so far been careful in public. Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Australia was "strongly opposed" to whaling and declared Japan should not "unilaterally decide" the scientific basis of its program.

But the government should go further, and scorch Japan over the dangerous broader diplomatic ramifications of its action.

Both sides of politics in Australia have maintained that the whaling issue can be quarantined from the wider relationship with Japan. That is true only up to a point. Challenging Tokyo in the international court didn't scuttle the pursuit of a free trade deal. Yet there are some in Japan who think Australia is doing nothing less than harbouring terrorists by allowing Sea Shepherd ships to tie up at the Williamstown docks.

The vast majority of Australians certainly don't think so, and Japan's arguments in favour of whaling are pitifully weak. But just as importantly, if Australia wants to be taken seriously in its boast of pursuing a values-based foreign policy, demanding friends respect the rule of law is essential.

Daniel Flitton is senior correspondent at The Age.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

More Corruption in Sri Lanka as its coalition government slips into deep water over arms ship scandal

A controversial deal between the brother of Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a maritime services company in 2012 is creating deep rifts within the new coalition government with several ministers facing corruption allegations and a minister even forced to resign over conflict of interest.

The controversy began in October this year when authorities seized a floating armory belonging to Avant Garde Maritime Services, a private security company which struck a deal in 2012 to provide maritime security with the defense secretary of the time Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Although the vessel was authorized to carry only 100 guns and 60,000 rounds of ammunition, it had as many as 816 guns and over 200,000 rounds of ammunition. Avant Garde’s “illegal” operation raised security alarm.

Soon after the discovery of the floating armory, several ministers, who were sworn in following the August parliamentary elections, have been accused of soft peddling the issue and protecting the company in question for various reasons.

On November 10, Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana, a lawyer by profession, resigned from his ministerial portfolio amid mounting allegations that he tried to shield Avant Garde from a full-scale investigation over its controversial gun-running activities.

Marapana was at the receiving end as he had represented Avant Garde in court on a similar matter before Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s party, the United National Party, was elected to power.

Sri Lanka’s incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a special Commission of Inquiry to investigate the floating armory, which is docked in the Southern Galle Port.

The operations by Avant Garde were deemed illegal and Sirisena went on to revoke several agreements signed between Avant Garde and Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited, a Sri Lanka Government-owned business which comes under the purview of the ministry of defence (during Rajapaksa’s regime), and hand back all maritime security matters to the Sri Lanka Navy.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo on November 11, government spokesman and minister Rajitha Senaratne said the President has also instructed the Inspector General of Police to carry out a comprehensive investigation with the support of the Attorney General’s department about possible corruption and illegal activities related to the company, and take strict action against the wrong-doers.

The government spokesman said a number of activities carried out by the private maritime security firm were deemed highly suspicious and illegal.

Despite various accusations, Avant Garde Maritime Services says it has always conformed to national and international laws and therefore the accusations on the company are baseless.

Meanwhile, while the special Commission of Inquiry obtained statements from Gotabaya Rajapaksa, several other senior government ministers have also come under flak from various quarters including opposition parliamentarians for allegedly trying to shield the controversial company.

The Avant Garde Maritime Services website discloses that it operates three floating armories, strategically placed in 3 key locations around the High Risk Area (HRA) in the Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and Galle, Sri Lanka.

Leader of the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament that the government was not paying enough attention to the matter and also accused ministers of trying to cover up and protect the company. Sri Lanka’s justice Minister Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe has also been accused of siding with the company, an accusation he has flatly denied.

Several other ministers in the government including power and renewable energy deputy Minister Ajith Perera had gone on to say that the Avant Garde investigation was moving at a slower pace than other cases.

In another development, three ministers in the current coalition government have written to the IGP asking him to investigate allegations made against them by the chairman of Avant Garde, Nissanka Senadhipathi.

The chairman claimed that Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Ports and Shipping Arjuna Ranatunga and Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Champika Ranawaka had solicited bribes which he had refused to pay.

In a letter addressed to the IGP on November 24, the ministers said the allegations were baseless and that their credibility has been tarnished after Senadhipathi’s accusation.

In the meantime, India’s Hindu newspaper in an article (‘MV Avant Garde raises alarm in India’ Nov. 20) quoted Lt. Gen. (Retired) Prakash Katoch, a veteran of special military operations, as saying that the vessel’s route through the territorial waters of India was disturbing.

Katoch said Sri Lanka should take India into confidence so that the destination and real intentions behind the boat’s cargo and the details of the Avant Garde Maritime Services are known to India.

“The presence of such a large number of arms on a single ship is unusual and naturally raises suspicion. India should ask Sri Lanka for whom were these arms exactly meant for,” he reportedly said. Munza Mushtaq