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World MPs condemn the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar  

The global parliamentary community has condemned today the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in the Northern Rakhine state of Myanmar. MPs have called upon the Government of Myanmar to end immediately the violence and forced displacement of the Rohingya and the blatant violations of their human rights.

In a resolution on the emergency item on it agenda, adopted today at the 137thAssembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), MPs  expressed grave concern over the unprecedented exodus of one million Rohingya to Bangladesh and the humanitarian and potential security consequences for that country and the region. The Rohingya began fleeing when an insurgent attack led to a massive military response.

 “This resolution urges the global parliamentary community to take concrete steps to put an end to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya from Rakhine state, and to end further human rights violations,” explained Saber Chowdhury, the IPU President. “We cannot remain on the sidelines as one million people flee violence and persecution. This crisis is a major threat to regional peace and security.”

The resolution strongly recommends the creation of temporary safe zones inside Myanmar under UN supervision to protect all civilians irrespective of religion and ethnicity. MPs have also urged the Parliament of Myanmar to make every effort to stop the violence and to put an end to this tragic situation.

“The resolution on the emergency item at this year’s Assembly was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the world’s parliamentarians, reflecting the concern of the entire global community over the situation. I believe that this signal will be heard by the authorities and by parliamentarians in Myanmar, and that it will enable them to take effective steps to normalise the situation and avoid a large-scale humanitarian disaster,” explained the Assembly President, Valentina Matvienko.

IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong explained, “The situation of the Rohingya is unacceptable. It is vital that parliamentarians from around the world stand together to condemn this atrocity.”

Other issues proposed as an emergency item were the political crisis in Venezuela and the threat to peace and international security posed by the nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Djibouti, which proposed a resolution on the role of parliaments in maintaining international security and peace, withdrew it as a gesture of solidarity to reach consensus on one item.

As the Assembly may only adopt one emergency item, the selection process consists of a vote in the plenary. Requests must receive a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in order to be accepted. Of these, the one that receives the largest number of positive votes will be accepted. For the IPU 137th Assembly, two proposals – the DPRK’s nuclear testing and the Rohingya crisis – received a two-thirds majority. The proposal on the Rohinyga crisis received the most votes in the plenary, and was selected as the emergency item.

Malaysia legalizes e-hailing services as Grab, Uber compete

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s parliament on Thursday passed two bills that will legalize e-hailing services, as ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber Technologies Inc race to expand in the region.

Grab expects to raise $2.5 billion from investors in a bid to extend its lead over Uber in the region, as major companies aim to tap into Southeast Asia’s developing economies driven by a young and tech-savvy population.

The amendments to Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Act and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB) Act will allow ride hailing services to operate on an “intermediation business license”, a new category specific for the service.

The new license will regulate “the business of facilitating arrangements, bookings or transactions of an e-hailing vehicle whether for any valuable consideration or money’s worth or otherwise”, according to the CVLB bill made available on the Malaysian parliament website.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Cabinet agreed to legalize ride-hailing services last year even as taxi driver associations protested, arguing that their livelihoods were threatened by the private hire services.

The CVLB had previously declared that both Uber and Grab drivers were operating illegally in the country.

Singapore-based Grab operates private car, motorcycle, taxi and car-pooling services across seven countries with 1.1 million drivers, and claims a market share of 95 percent in third-party taxi-hailing and 71 percent in private vehicle hailing in Southeast Asia.

Both Grab and Uber recently launched operations in Myanmar, aiming to capitalize on the country’s burgeoning mobile services market.

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; editing by Susan Thomas

Source: Reuters

Ghana: PWDs to get 30% GoG contracts – Adwoa Safo reveals

Story by: Stephen Odoi-Larbi

 

 The Minister of State in charge of Public Procurement, Hon. Sarah Adwoa Safo, has said that as part of efforts at strengthening the capacities of local contractors, the government has made a policy where 70% of all its contracts or projects shall be awarded to local contractors.

Out of this, 30% of the contracts or projects shall be awarded to Persons With Disability (PWDs), women and those in youth employment.

“It is a policy the government under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is committed to implement. And very soon, my office [Ministry of Public Procurement] will come out with how it is going to be done,” she noted.

Hon. Adwoa Safo revealed this on Thursday, July 20, 2017, when she paid a working visit to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and interacted with its Chief Executive, Kwasi Agyeman Busia and some top management officials about the need to re-align their operations to fit into the government’s public procurement policy.

Her visit forms part of her scheduled activities to public or state owned institutions or companies that are heavily involved in procurement activities.

Commenting further, Hon. Adwoa Safo, said in order for the PWDs and women to strongly make a case in bidding for government contracts or projects, her ministry (Ministry of Public Procurement) will organize a training workshop where their capacities and technical know-how will be built to do so.

She also told the DVLA management staff about efforts her ministry is putting in place to get the two existing laws (Public Procurement Act, (Act 663) and Public Procurement (Amended) Act (Act 914) governing Public Procurement in the country harmonized for easy reading and referencing since players in the public procurement chain will have to use the two documents at all times in order not to find themselves at the wrong side of the law.

The Minister, together with her team, was taken through a power-point presentation by Bob Tay, Deputy Director, Procurement & Stores, over how committed the DVLA is in complying with the Public Procurement Act.

SINGAPORE: Speaker of Parliament declares bid for Presidency in coming election

Madam Halimah Yacob (third from right) speaking to residents in her Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC constituency on July 16, 2017. She said she is considering standing in the coming presidential election in September.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

SINGAPORE – Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said expressed her interest to context in the coming presidential election scheduled for September 2017.

This follows months of speculation about her possible candidacy in the election reserved for Malay candidates.

Halimah Yacob who said this on Sunday told journalists “I am thinking about it, of running for the presidency,” she told reporters after a community event at her Marsiling ward. “The elected presidency is a very heavy responsibility and an important institution in Singapore, so it’s not something that one should take lightly… so it needs a bit of time to think.”

Madam Halimah, 62, said she has been asked the question “many, many times” by Singaporeans from all walks of life, and was honoured and humbled.

Although she has spoken to her family and colleagues about the prospect, she added, she wanted to consult them further.

“It’s not a question that you can just make a decision alone. I need to consult my family and colleagues who are supporting me in the various duties that I am doing,” she said.

She also said that for now, she still had to fulfill her duties as Speaker of Parliament and MP: “These duties are also very dear and important to me.”

Until Sunday, she had refused to address the persistent talk that she will run, deftly deflecting questions by reporters without confirming or denying the rumours.

Her name had come up as she ticks all the boxes of the eligibility criteria for those from the public sector, having spent at least three years in a key public office.

Madam Halimah, a unionist-turned-politician, has been Speaker of Parliament since Jan 14, 2013.

As part of her role, she is required to assume the duties of the President should both the President and the chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers be away.

Madam Halimah, who made her remarks after officially opening an orchid garden and an edible garden at her constituency, said she was “not really announcing” a presidential bid.

Asked why she decided to address the topic now, she said: “A lot of Singaporeans have asked me so that’s why I want to share with you the thought processes that I go through…before making the final decision.”

She added that she was guided by an important principle that she has adhered to in 40 years of public service: “I feel that in whatever capacity that we serve, it is important that we serve Singapore and we serve Singaporeans. That is always my guiding principle.”

To contest the election, she will have to step down as Speaker of Parliament and MP of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC by Nomination Day, and also resign from the People’s Action Party, of which she is a member of the central executive committee and chair of the PAP Seniors Group.

Madam Halimah did not address what would happen if she leaves her constituency, but said her residents would “always be close to my heart”.

“The most encouraging thing is that a lot of residents also encourage me. So the support and encouragement of residents, of Singaporeans from all walks of life has really made me feel very humbled, very honoured,” she added.

“Frankly, to me that is really very meaningful, very important.”

So far, two other people have announced their intention to run: chairman of marine service provider Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific Farid Khan Kaim Khan, 62, and Second Chance Properties chief executive officer Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67.

Both men have collected application forms from the Elections Department.

One requirement for candidates from the private sector to qualify is that they must have been the top executive of a company with at least $500 million in shareholder equity.

Bourbon Offshore Asia, a subsidiary of French multinational marine company Bourbon, reportedly has shareholder equity of US$300 million ($415 million), while Second Chance Properties, which is listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange since 2004, has had shareholders’ equity of between $254.3 million and $263.25 million in the last three financial years.

However, the Presidential Elections Committee, which determines if candidates are eligible to run, has the discretion to consider whether aspirants have the experience and ability to carry out the functions and duties of the office, should they not meet this threshold.

Prospective candidates also need a newly set up Community Committee to declare that they are part of the Malay community and give them a community certificate.

The coming presidential election is reserved for candidates from the Malay community, following changes to the elected presidency scheme last year to ensure the highest office in the land reflects Singapore’s multiracial society.

An election is reserved for candidates from a racial group, if no one from the group has been represented in the presidency for five consecutive terms.

Singapore has not had a Malay president since Mr Yusof Ishak, the country’s first president, died in office in 1970.

The announcements of Mr Farid and Mr Salleh about their intentions had sparked debate among some quarters about whether or not they are Malay enough.

Both men are born in Singapore, but some have taken issue with the fact that Mr Farid is of Pakistani descent, while others have criticised Mr Salleh for not being fluent in Malay.

Asked for her comments on this, Madam Halimah said: “I am very much a member of the Malay community.”

She added that her father, who died when she was 8 years old, was born in Singapore, and she was brought up by her mother, who is Malay.

The last day to submit an application for the election is five days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issues the writ of election. He is expected to do so in late August.

Madam Halimah did not want to say whether she had collected application forms.

When asked, she quipped: “(In the) modern day you don’t need to collect the form…whoever wants to stand as a candidate can download it.”

On whether her husband will mind being in the limelight – since he will also have duties as the spouse of a president if she decides to run and is elected – Madam Halimah said: “Whoever is the spouse of the elected president will have to see it as a contribution to public service as well.”

She added that her husband has taken part in “a lot of activities” in her constituency and is known to grassroots leaders and residents.

Shortly after news emerged on Sunday that she is thinking of contesting, Mr Farid sent a statement to the press, saying: “I welcome Madam Halimah’s intention to contest in the upcoming president election.”

Source: Strait Stimes

U.S. House Backs $696 Billion Bill Boosting Fighter Jets, Troops

U.S House of Representatives

President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a bigger U.S. military was just the starting point for the U.S. House, which voted to authorize more ships, planes and personnel than he requested.

“There is no substitute for military power,” Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said as the House debated the $696 billion defense policy bill for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. “If we don’t fund these things now they won’t be there when we need them.”

The House passed the bill Friday on a vote of 344-81. The Senate hasn’t yet taken up the comparable bill crafted by its Armed Services Committee. Republican leaders in the Senate have said the bill is a priority for coming weeks, after the conflict over health insurance legislation is resolved.

The defense legislation would determine what weaponry the Pentagon is allowed to procure and set military policy. Actual spending levels are set in a separate appropriations bill.

Providing all of the money authorized under the House-passed bill (H.R. 2810) would mean busting spending limits by more than $70 billion. Congress hasn’t yet figured out what to do about those caps for the coming fiscal year, and the Pentagon policy bill written in the Senate (S. 1519) would let slightly more be spent. So the debate is shaping up to be more about how high to go rather than whether to spend more on the military.

The bill’s topline of $695.9 billion for national security programs includes $592.8 billion for regular Defense Department programs, more than $70 billion above the maximum set in law; $75 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds, which aren’t subject to budget caps, with $10 billion of that dedicated to the regular Pentagon budget; $20.8 billion for nuclear security programs at the Department of Energy; and $7.5 billion in mandatory spending.

Winning Contractors

The House-passed legislation would provide a 2.4 percent military pay raise and boost weapons systems such as Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and Boeing Co. F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft and Chinook and Apache helicopters. It would also expand the Army by 17,000 soldiers and would prod Pentagon purchasers to go online to buy goods from commercial business sites.

AIRCRAFT: The measure would allow for the purchase of 87 F-35 aircraft — 17 more than the Pentagon requested, and 22 F/A-18 Super Hornets, eight more than the administration sought.

The bill backs buying 69 of Boeing’s Apache attack helicopters, while the Pentagon asked for 61. Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed, would stand to gain under a recommendation for 53 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, five more than in the budget request. The House panel also wants the Pentagon to buy 17 of Lockheed’s MC-130J Air Force Special Operations aircraft, more than triple the five that were requested.

BIGGER FLEET: The Pentagon initially asked for eight ships, and the House bill would authorize 13, including three Littoral Combat Ships. The Pentagon backs buying two of the
ships intended for shallow coastal waters. The LCS is built in two versions by a Lockheed Martin-led team and Austal Ltd. While the ship has been criticized as vulnerable to attack, including by two defense secretaries under President Barack Obama, it has strong support among the congressional delegations from Wisconsin and Alabama, where the shipbuilding program provides jobs.

The bill would authorize one additional DDG-51 destroyer, for a total of three. The destroyers are made by General Dynamics Corp. and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. It also proposes an additional LPD-17 amphibious transport ship made by Huntington Ingalls.

The Navy would be given multiyear contract authority for 15 destroyers and 13 Virginia-class submarines. The Navy requested multiyear contract authority for 10 destroyers and multi-year authority for 10 Virginia-class attack submarines made by General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls. The authorization bill also would require the Navy to get ready to sustain a 12 aircraft-carrier fleet by 2023.

FOREIGN WARS: The measure would direct the defense secretary to provide an Afghanistan strategy looking beyond the next five years and to assess the trajectory and cost of U.S. efforts there. It would request no later than Feb. 1 a regional strategy explaining long-term U.S. objectives in Syria.

The House also adopted by voice vote an amendment by Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole that may inch Congress toward a revived debate over an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) to cover the operations against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq instead of relying on authorizations more than a decade old.

The provision would direct the president to provide to Congress a strategy and a budgetary analysis needed to defeat al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State no later than 30 days after the measure becomes law. The report also would include an analysis of an AUMF and the legal framework to accomplish the strategy.

SPACE CORPS: The measure would require the Pentagon to create a Space Corps — a dedicated part of the Defense Department responsible for national security space programs. Under the measure, the head of Space Corps would report to the Air Force secretary.

The Pentagon’s leaders and the White House oppose the provision, which will become fodder for negotiations between the House and the Senate over the final defense authorization measure. Republicans avoided an intra-party clash among veteran members of the Armed Services panel when they didn’t allow an amendment to come to the floor that would have scrapped the creation of Space Corps. It pitted Representative Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, against Representative Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican, who champions the new Space Corps.

NO BASE CLOSINGS: The sprawling defense measure doesn’t authorize another round of base closings. An effort by California Republican Tom McClintock to permit closing facilities was defeated on the House floor. The Pentagon had proposed starting a round in fiscal 2021. As in previous years, the bill would prohibit closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the transfer of detainees into the U.S.

WEB ORDERS: The measure would prod Pentagon officials to go online to buy goods
from sites that cater specifically to commercial businesses. The Defense Department could turn to business-to-business portals such as WW Grainger Inc., which distributes maintenance and repair supplies, or Office Depot Inc. for office supplies. While Amazon.com wouldn’t be eligible to be a military vendor because it’s set up for private consumers, the company’s business-to-business portal could be considered under the proposal.

What’s Not There

Republican leaders managed to steer away from some thorny issues that the rank and file in both parties wanted to address in the bill.

To the Democrats’ chagrin, they used a procedural maneuver to strip a provision that would have banned the use of Pentagon money to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.

On a party-line vote of 179-245, the House rejected a Democratic amendment seeking parity between defense increases and domestic spending also failed.

Heeding the recommendation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the House rejected a provision that sought to ban the Defense Department from paying gender-transition medical bills. The vote was 209-214.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study estimated the number of transgender individuals currently serving in the active component of the U.S. military at 1,320 and 6,630 out of a total of about 1.3 million service members.

Mattis has deferred any transgender recruiting until January after military service chiefs raised concerns. The Obama administration had set the deadline to start recruiting to July 1.

Source: Bloomberg 

Marilyn Yayra N. Johnson

Executive Assistant     Email: mjohnson@parliamentafrica.com
 She coordinates the administrative activities within the Accra office of the organisation.
She has working experience as an administrative personnel from various organizations, having worked with organisation in media, the financial sector and the construction industry.
She is very passionate about the various programmes and projects the organisation undertakes. She is  very enthusiastic about building and maintaining cordial customer relations.

Gilbert Borketey Boyefio

General Manager and Managing Editor of the Parliamentary Newspaper, Email:gboyefio@parliamentafrica.com

He has over ten years working experience as a journalist; covering various beats such as human rights, court reporting, the extractive sector and parliamentary reporting.

Gilbert has worked with many media houses in Ghana and Nigeria; occupying key positions. He was the Country Bureau Chief of Orient Energy Review magazine, an oil and gas magazine published in Nigeria. Prior to that appointment, Gilbert was the editor of Offshore Ghana, a specialized oil and gas magazine published in Accra, and Editor of Oil & Gas Ghana magazine, also published in Accra.

Other key positions that he has held in the media landscape include, Editor of the Royal Mail newspaper, and the legal and human rights correspondent for The Statesman newspaper. Gilbert also had a stint as a reporter and newscaster at Channel R FM from 2005 to 2006. He started his career as an intern at The Defender newspaper in 2005. He has a strong passion for youth activism and human resource development.

Sammy Obeng

 C.E.O , Email: sobeng@parliamentafrica.com

 

Sammy Obeng is a Ghanaian social entrepreneur under 30 and an expert in Ghana’s parliamentary practices and procedures. He has over a decade of work experiences in media and project management. He has worked with media men and women from many African countries, particularly Ghana and Sierra Leone, where he leads various projects.
Before taking up this role, Sammy worked for two years as the founding Editor-In-Chief of the Parliamentary Newspaper of Ghana and the Africa regional parliamentary news website www.parliamentafrica.com . He was Managing Director for KMM Afrik Ghana Limited, an events and advertising company for almost a decade as he nurtured the business from a startup to a company of promise.
He has previously worked with the Parliament of Ghana, Development Gateway International (DeGAIN) and the Greater Accra Regional Students Representative Council. He is an alumnus of the Canada World Youth (CWY) initiative – an educational exchange program that saw him work as a volunteer with the Center for International Studies of the Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada, and the campus newspaper and radio station of the same University. He also offered voluntary services to the AIDS Coalition of Cape Breton and the Sekyere East District Assembly in the Ashanti Region of Ghana through the District Environmental Sanitation Strategy Action Plan (DESSAP).
Sammy has an education in Economics with Human Resources Management. He also holds an Advance Certificate in Communication and Governance.

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