WASHINGTON: The White House agreed Friday to allow CNN reporter Jim Acosta back in after a judge ruled that the star journalist was improperly banned following a testy exchange at a press conference with President Donald Trump.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said "in response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter's hard pass".
But she left open the possibility of seeking to remove Acosta's access later and said new rules would be imposed "to ensure fair and orderly press conferences".
Trump said that "rules and regulations" were being drafted to govern such gatherings, where the president or his representatives often accuse journalists – Acosta in particular – of being overly hostile.
"We have to practice decorum. We want total freedom of the press," Trump told reporters, adding later in an interview with Fox News: "If he misbehaves, we'll throw him out."
In fact, Trump himself frequently speaks harshly to reporters, for example, last week telling another CNN correspondent several times that her question was "stupid".
He also routinely describes journalists he does not approve of, and the media in general, as "enemies of the people".
Free speech rights
Acosta often aggressively questions the White House on its attitude toward journalists and has been criticised even by some in the media for becoming part of the story he is meant to be covering.
On Nov 7, the day he was stripped of his pass, Acosta had riled Trump by refusing to give up the microphone at a news conference when he considered that Trump was evading his question.
Trump responded by branding Acosta a "rude, terrible person".
CNN cast the controversy as a question of free speech, which is protected under the constitution's first amendment.
In his ruling Friday, Judge Timothy Kelly stressed that he had only found the procedure for expelling Acosta illegal and that free speech did not enter the equation.
"I want to be very clear that I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated," he said in the Washington courtroom, adding that further hearings would be held on that aspect.
The US Justice Department's lawyer, James Burnham, argued that Acosta had "disrupted" last week's news conference and that "there is no First Amendment right to access the White House."
However, major media outlets took up Acosta's cause. Tellingly, Trump's most friendly outlet, Fox News, joined the suit calling for Acosta's pass to be returned.
"We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days," CNN said in a statement. "Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press."
Shortly after the ruling, Acosta returned to the White House, telling fellow journalists that "this was a test".
"Journalists need to know that their First Amendment rights are sacred," he said.
The spat over Acosta has prompted an unusually public show of unity between America's powerful media organisations.
Those backing CNN's court action included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media Works, Gannett, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, Press Freedom Defense Fund, EW Scripps Company, USA Today and The Washington Post.
"Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions," the media groups said in a joint statement.
After the judge's ruling, the White House Correspondents' Association president, Olivier Knox, cheered a decision that "made it clear that the White House cannot arbitrarily revoke a White House press pass."
"We thank all of the news outlets and individual reporters who stood up in recent days for the vital role a free and independent news media plays in our republic," he said. — AFP
ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump Friday agreed on the need to prevent any cover-up of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder, a Turkish presidential source said after a phone call between the two leaders.
Turkish media claimed Ankara has more evidence, including a second audio tape discrediting Saudi Arabia's version of Khashoggi's killing.
Erdogan and Trump "agreed to shed light on the Jamal Khashoggi murder in all its aspects and that any cover-up of the incident should not be allowed", the presidential source said.
The phone call came a day after Saudi prosecutors announced charges of ordering and carrying out the murder against five men and said they would be recommending the death penalty. The US placed sanctions on 17 suspected of involvement.
The prosecutors also exonerated the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of directing the killing.
Khashoggi's son Salah on Friday received dozens of mourners including Saudi officials and businessmen in the coastal city of Jeddah, an AFP photographer saw, while state media said funeral prayers were offered in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Last month, Salah travelled to Washington after the government lifted a travel ban, where he told CNN that he wanted to bury his father in Medina with the rest of his family.
Dozens of people meanwhile paid homage to Khashoggi at a symbolic funeral in Istanbul.
In the absence of a body, the crowd gathered at Fatih mosque in front of an empty platform traditionally reserved for the coffin.
Supporters from the newly-formed Jamal Khashoggi Friends Association were among the mourners.
"We decided to hold the prayers as we are convinced that his body will never be found," Fatih Oke, executive director of the Turkish-Arab Media Association (TAM) of which Khashoggi was a member, told AFP.
The ceremony was "a message delivered to the world to say that the murder will not go unpunished and that justice will be served", said Ibrahim Pekdemir, an Istanbul resident who attended.
Yasin Aktay, a close friend of Khashoggi and advisor to Erdogan, strongly criticised the Saudi version of events.
"They want us to believe that the killers themselves made the decision to assassinate Jamal Khashoggi, we do not believe in this story," he said after the prayer.
"We will continue to ask who are the true contractors" of the murder.
Turkey has insisted it was a premeditated killing.
Second audio tape
The Turkish daily Hurriyet reported, meanwhile, that Turkey has more evidence, including a second audio tape of 15 minutes, contradicting the Saudi version of events.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has blamed the murder on a "rogue operation" by individuals who "exceeded their responsibilities".
Abdulkadir Selvi, a pro-government columnist in the Hurriyet daily, claimed Friday that the newly-obtained audio tape proved that a 15-member "killer team" waiting in the consulate before Khashoggi's arrival was discussing how to carry out the murder.
The tape, recorded shortly before the journalist arrived to obtain paperwork for his forthcoming marriage to a Turkish woman, clearly showed the murder was planned in advance, he said.
The first tape allegedly proved that Khashoggi was strangled.
Turkey also has evidence that the team made international calls after the murder, said Selvi.
Erdogan has said the order to murder Khashoggi came from "the highest levels" of the Riyadh government but stopped short of pointing the finger at Crown Prince Salman.
Saudi prosecutors said Thursday they would seek the death penalty for five accused who "are charged with ordering and committing the crime".
But they said the prince had "no knowledge" of Khashoggi's killing.
Turkey said the Saudi statement was "insufficient", with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying Ankara was not fully satisfied with the Saudi thesis.
The US sanctions targeted two top aides of Prince Mohammed as well as Mohammed Alotaibi, who was the consul general in the Istanbul consulate when Khashoggi was murdered.
But senior US politicians said Thursday the moves were far from adequate. — AFP
KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia is expected to stay flat in quiet trading next week, as the country will be celebrating a public holiday next Tuesday in conjunction with Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd Head of Research, Kenny Yee said profit-taking is also anticipated to take place due to the recent gains on the local bourse, leading the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) to trade between 1,690 and 1,710 points next week.
"Bursa Malaysia would likely be supported by the weak ringgit against the US dollar, as it would make local stocks more attractive to foreign investors," he told Bernama.
However, Yee noted that the local stock market would also be influenced by external factors such as crude oil prices and Wall Street's performance.
Meanwhile, he also discounted the possibility of the slower third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth, as well as corporate earnings results, having any implications on the local bourse's performance.
"Market participants have already expected that," he said.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) today announced that Malaysia's GDP grew by 4.4 per cent for 3Q 2018 compared with 6.2 per cent in the same period last year, driven by strong private consumption following the zerorisation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) during the quarter.
According to BNM Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, the country's GDP rose by 4.7 per cent in the first three quarters, and was on track to register a 4.8 per cent growth in 2018.
For the week just ended, Bursa Malaysia was traded lower for the first two days but rebounded for the remaining three days on bargain-hunting activities and steadied crude oil prices.
The local stock market was mainly influenced by the performances of Wall Street and regional markets, as well as the softer ringgit and crude palm oil (CPO) prices.
On a Friday-to-Friday basis, the benchmark FBM KLCI settled 1.71 points lower at 1,706.38.
The FBM Emas Index rose 21.80 points to 11,868.06, the FBMT100 Index increased 29.22 points to 11,717.35, but the FBM Emas Shariah Index fell 55.89 points to 11,955.80.
The FBM 70 perked 142.71 points to 13,988.70, while the FBM Ace was 12.52 points better at 4,945.12.
Sector-wise, the Finance Index jumped 102.57 points to 17,301.67, the Industrial Products and Services Index edged up 0.71 point to 174.01 while the Plantation Index was 106.09 points lower at 7,256.64.
Comparing Friday-to-Friday, weekly turnover widened to 8.08 billion units worth RM7.62 billion from 6.26 billion units worth RM6.59 billion.
Main Market volume improved to 5.06 billion shares worth RM6.81 billion versus 4.09 billion shares worth RM6.12 billion last Friday.
Warrants turnover advanced to 1.56 billion units valued at RM398.12 billion against 1.07 billion units valued at RM263.87 million previously.
The ACE Market volume climbed to 1.45 billion shares worth RM406.14 billion compared with 917.68 million shares worth RM205.37 million.
The market will be closed next Tuesday (Nov 20) for Prophet Muhammad's birthday. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit's movement next week is expected to remain on a downtrend, in line with most Asian currencies, due to emerging tensions in the global economy, including Brexit.
FXTM Global Head of Currency Strategy and Market Research Jameel Ahmad said the return of global market uncertainty over Brexit as a dominant theme represents a risk, weighing on demand for emerging markets next week.
"It appears that neither traders nor the UK Parliament are convinced that the current terms secured by UK Prime Minister Theresa May with the European Union for Brexit are going to be easy to push through, which highlights the need for traders to be monitoring these themes up until the long-anticipated EU summit on Nov 25, 2018," he told Bernama.
He said emerging markets across Asia might not be as exposed to Brexit- associated risks as those more closely situated to the United Kingdom and Europe, but it is something that can make investors less attracted towards investing in riskier assets, which is how emerging markets can be negatively impacted.
"It will be interesting to see whether political uncertainty in Europe encourages investors to take the dollar for another run higher up in valuation, which would bring another return of the dollar divergence story that has pressured emerging markets across the globe throughout large parts of this year," he added.
He said the prospect of a stronger greenback also presents the highest risk to the ringgit falling to 4.20 before the year is over.
"It could happen sooner than this, but everything is dollar-dependent right now in the marketplace and there isn't a domestic catalyst that can inspire fluctuations for the local currency," he said.
For the week just ended, the ringgit was rangebound versus the greenback during the week.
The local unit was traded mostly lower, as investors shifted towards the safe haven currencies due to the US Federal Reserve's reaffirmation of its hawkish monetary policy stance later this year.
On a Friday-to-Friday basis, the local note weakened to 4.1900/1940 against the US dollar from 4.1780/1810 in the previous week.
However, against a basket of major currencies, the local note was traded mostly higher.
The ringgit depreciated against the Singapore dollar to 3.0428/0462 from 3.0315/0341 and vis-a-vis the Japanese yen, it declined to 3.6946/6991 from 3.6685/6714.
The local currency strengthened against the British pound to 5.3603/3671 from 5.4343/4386 but weakened against the euro to 4.7506/7568 from 4.7362/7413. — Bernama
KOTA KINABALU: Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong (pix) said it is high time the new Sabah administration headed by Parti Warisan Sabah takes the necessary steps to manage its oil and gas resources more effectively.
He said the Petroleum Development Act 1974, for instance, needs to be reviewed and amended to enable the state government to have greater control in managing its own resources.
"This is in line with the wishes of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and Warisan to restore the status of Sabah as an equal partner (with the Peninsula and Sarawak) as announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the eve of Malaysia Day on Sept 16, 2018," said Liew at a dinner in conjunction with the dialogue on legislation with MPs and state assemblymen, which was also attended by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
On the need for legal amendments to make it easier for entrepreneurs to conduct business in line with the aspirations of the "business-friendly" PH government, Liew said there is a need to review outdated laws created during the British colonial era, and cited the Licensing Ordinance 1948 and the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.
"As such, the federal government will form a special task force in collaboration with the state government to improve business in the Peninsula and Sabah," he said. — Bernama
PETALING JAYA: M. Indhira Gandhi (pix), the mother who successfully challenged the unilateral conversion to Islam of her three children still remains in the dark about the whereabouts of her youngest child.
In an open letter addressed to the govt and the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun, and shared with a local English daily, Indhira expressed frustration at the lack of progress in finding her youngest daughter, Prasana Diksa.
"It has been many, many years now, and I am yet to see Prasana, let alone hear any updates about efforts to locate her and my fugitive ex-husband,
"Where are they? Is Prasana alive? Is she well? As her mother, I do not know these things which I rightfully should. Why? Because the authorities are yet to tell me anything about her," said Indhira.
She then expressed doubts if she will ever be able to see justice on the matter, noting that she voted for the Pakatan Government.
"What happened to the Federal Court's order? Is it not sacred anymore? No one needs to heed it? Isn't rule of law observed today? When will it apply to my case? Will I see justice?
"I voted for Pakatan Harapan. The party which supported my fight when the coalition was still the opposition," she said.
She then expressed hope that the new government will support her cause to reclaim her daughter
"I do hope that the same volition which was present when the party was fighting with me to claim Prasana back, is very much present now."
She also pleaded to religious groups to put aside religious scrutiny and help her.
"I would also like to plead and beg to the religious groups to help me in this matter. Especially the right-wing ones.
"What would you do if Prasana was your child? Take off your religious lenses for just once, and help me. My daughter was unfairly snatched away from me. What would you do if you were in my shoes?" she asked.
JOHOR BARU: The Johor state government will undertake a forensic audit of all government-linked companies owned by it in the near future to determine the reasons for some of their debts and duplications in business.
Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian said for a start, the audit may be undertaken for two or three of the companies, among them, being YPJ Holdings.
He said the intention of undertaking the audit has been conveyed to Sultan Johor Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar and the Chief Executive Officers of all the concerned GLCs.
"We (state government) want to know why such things as business duplications happen. We want to streamline.
"For example, we have the Public Transport Corporation of Johor, but loan and rent buses from other companies, while there are providers from Johor Corporation (JCorp).
"It is the same with the JBiotech project. We have the YPJ plantations and JCorp, but cannot cooperate, and when entering the tender stage, all send in their tenders (individually). This is competing among themselves," he added.
He told reporters this after attending the Johor state level Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) Convention at the Malaysia Productivity Corporation Hall here last night.
Asked if the state government would nominate an external firm for the audit, Osman said this would be the case, as if "conducted internally, they can change figures".
On JCorp which has reported debts of RM1.3 billion, he said the state government knew in detail the real reason for it.
"According to JCorp's promise to us, they will settle the debt in 2022. We will see first (whether to undertake the forensic audit), but we would also like to know to what extent the debt is, to the point of being so high.
"We have just a rough indication," said Osman, who is also the JCorp Chairman.
Earlier in his speech at the Convention, he had revealed the JCorp debt of RM3.1 billion, causing the state government to think of ways to restrengthen the organisation. — Bernama
GEORGE TOWN: The investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case is expected to be fully completed in another month or two, according to Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim.
He said, right now, the police were in the midst of preparing the investigation paper by compiling all evidence, including from former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, into an investigation file before handing it over to the Attorney-General (AG) for further action.
"Every week, the special forces investigating the case will have a discussion for action to be taken as soon as possible ... the investigations are running smoothly and we are trying to have it completed very soon," he told reporters here.
He said the police would also call several other individuals from companies linked to 1MDB to give their statements.
Noor Rashid was met after participating in the Police Solidarity Fun Ride on the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge last night.
The programme was graced by Tunku Laksamana of Kedah Datuk Tunku Shazuddin Ariff Sultan Sallehudin. A total of 4,000 people participated in the 56.5-km fun ride. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: President of Parti Amanah Negara Mohamad Sabu (pix) said he did not agree with the action of certain people who poked fun and shared the photographs of former leaders who are now facing court action by saying that they are 'pretending to be sick'.
He said actions like these did not reflect the political and cultural maturity of Malaysians.
"We should pray that whoever is sick gets well soon and not ridicule them," Mohamad Sabu who is also Defence Minister said in a statement yesterday.
The photos which went viral on the social media showed several former leaders lying on hospital beds, while one was on a wheelchair.
Mohamad said the Pakatan Harapan left the matter to the process of law and the courts to decide on the cases in an independent and fair manner. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: MCA today announced the appointment of its first female secretary-general, Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun (pix), who was formerly the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
The party also introduced members of its central committee, 60% of whom are new faces.
MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong also introduced several new names from among its young leaders including Nicole Wong Siaw Ting as its Youth Chief and seven others as chairmen of the state liaison committees.
"This is to give a chance to youths and women to run the party, have back-up leaders as well as introduce a breath of fresh air to the party.
"However, I will give members of the central committee and sub-committees a year to show a good performance," he said after the central committee meeting today, the first since its election on Nov 4. — Bernama