Ahad, 1 Mei 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World


Foreign workers hot topic in Singapore polls

Posted: 01 May 2011 06:59 PM PDT

SINGAPORE, May 2 — Opposition parties yesterday reiterated their message that the influx of foreigners has left Singaporeans worse off — as they sought to assure non-Singaporeans that they had nothing against them.

"To all my foreigner friends, I assure you, we are not xenophobic . . . We are just fighting for the basic rights of our fellow Singaporeans," said Workers' Party (WP) candidate for Nee Soon GRC John Yam Poh Nam. 

Speaking at a WP rally in the Yishun Stadium, Mr Yam, 48, noted that the arrival of the foreigners had led to increased competition for jobs and had made it harder for Singaporeans, "especially those who are above 45 years old", to get jobs. Other knock-on effects of an "overly liberal and problematic immigration policy" included rising property prices and congestion on public transport, he added. 

The Reform Party also zoomed in on the issue, with its Ang Mo Kio GRC candidate Lim Zi Rui, 24, describing Singaporeans as "second-class citizens". His running mate, Osman Sulaiman, 36, argued that the imported foreign labour only served to boost headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth. 

He said: "But do locals benefit from it? No. It only benefits the PAP ministers' salaries, in that their pay structure is linked to GDP (growth). And Singaporeans will have to reduce their salary to compete with the foreigners." — Today

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Yemen power deal unravelling as Saleh still defiant

Posted: 01 May 2011 04:59 PM PDT

A relative of Ahmad Saleh, who died on Saturday after being wounded in clashes with Yemeni security forces last week, at his funeral procession in Sanaa, May 1, 2011, at the site of a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. — Reuters pic

SANAA, May 2 — A deal to remove Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh looked all but dead today, raising the threat of more turmoil and violence in a country wracked by civil conflict and Islamist insurgency.

The secretary-general of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a league of Arab states that drew up the plan, was due to go to Sanaa as early as today to try to salvage the deal, a GCC source said.

Saleh was due to sign the deal on Saturday, agreeing to leave office within a month after 33 years. That would have made him the third Arab ruler toppled after mass street protests.

He appeared to sabotage that plan by refusing to sign in his capacity as president and objecting to GCC member Qatar's participation. GCC mediators told Yemen's opposition on Saturday that Saleh would only sign the deal as leader of his party.

"This is very typical Saleh," said Dubai-based analyst Theodore Karasik. "He puts off the inevitable.

"I think a negotiated solution is slowly slipping away, and that some type of pressure is going to have to be applied as opposed to words."

Anti-government protesters march in the southern city of Taiz, May 1, 2011, demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. — Reuters pic

Yemen's opposition, furious over the last-minute snag, said it could escalate pressure on the president to step down, after resisting three months of street protests demanding that he go.

"We are studying the options of escalations and waiting for a US-European stance on Saleh's refusal to sign," a senior opposition leader told Reuters yesterday, declining to be named because no formal decision had been taken.

The deal, if resurrected, asks Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition to head a transitional government, which would set a presidential vote for 60 days after he leaves. Saleh, his family and aides would be immune from prosecution.

No closer to sealing deal

The GCC ended a meeting over the Yemen crisis in Saudi Arabia yesterday without an agreement or an announced strategy for reaching one. A signing ceremony in Riyadh was postponed with no sign of it being rescheduled, a second GCC source said.

The United States and neighbouring oil giant Saudi Arabia want the Yemen standoff resolved to avert chaos that could make a Yemen wing of al Qaeda a greater threat to the region.

That threat flared yesterday, when six soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in Abyan and Hadramawt provinces, where there have been frequent conflict with Islamists.

Violence in south Yemen, formerly a Soviet-backed independent republic, has reached levels not seen since a 1994 civil war following reunification. Yemen has also fought Shi'ite rebels in the north of the country on and off since 2004.

Protesters say they will stay on the streets until Saleh leaves. They also called for him to be put on trial for corruption and the deaths of the estimated 144 protesters.

Analysts say a 30-day window for Saleh to resign would give plenty of time for disgruntled forces from the old guard to stir up trouble in Yemen, where half the population owns a gun and al Qaeda has gained a foothold in its mountainous regions. — Reuters

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