Tag Archive: United Land of Malaysia


Beijing (AFP)

Nov 1, 2016

Malaysia and China signed a defense deal and pledged closer cooperation in the South China Sea Tuesday, signalling a potential strategic shift by Premier Najib Razak as his ties with the United States fray over a corruption scandal.

Najib’s week-long trip marks another potential setback for Washington’s “pivot” toward Asia, two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte of longtime US ally the Philippines visited China with olive branch in hand.

Meeting at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Najib and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang witnessed the signing of nine agreements spanning defense, business and other spheres.

“I believe this visit will bring our bilateral ties to a new high… a historic high,” Najib said prior to meeting with Li.

Asked for details of the defense arrangement, Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said that the two countries were “focusing on naval cooperation,” adding that the deal “marks a big event in our bilateral ties.”

China and Malaysia have an outstanding territorial dispute in the South China Sea, which is claimed almost in its entirety by Beijing.

Parts of the vast maritime region are also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam, among others, who have found themselves caught in an increasingly tense dispute between the US and China over Beijing’s construction of military-capable artificial islands in the region.

“China and Malaysia are littoral states of the South China Sea so we need to enhance our cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea and enhance our mutual trust,” Liu said.

— Separation anxiety —

Last month in Beijing, Duterte stunned observers by announcing his country’s “separation” from longstanding partner the United States.

Though he subsequently backed off, saying their alliance remained intact, the episode underlined China’s increasing diplomatic and economic gravitational pull at the expense of the United States.

Najib’s visit provides fresh evidence, said Southeast Asia politics analyst Bridget Welsh.

“This is the new regional norm. Now China is implementing the power and the US is in retreat,” she said, adding Washington’s Asia “pivot” was “dead in the water”.

Taking office in 2009, Najib reached out to Washington, and relations warmed following decades of periodic distrust.

But he has increasingly leaned toward China as it became Malaysia’s biggest trading partner, and especially after the eruption last year of a massive corruption scandal implicating Najib and a state investment fund he founded.

Billions are alleged to have been siphoned from the fund, 1MDB, in a stunning international campaign of embezzlement and money-laundering that has sparked investigations in several countries.

Najib’s ties with Washington became strained when the US Justice Department moved in July to seize more than $1 billion in assets it says were purchased by Najib relatives and associates using stolen 1MDB money.

Justice Department filings said a “Malaysian Official 1” took part in the looting. Malaysia has since admitted that official was Najib.

Najib and 1MDB deny wrongdoing and have railed at foreign forces they say concocted the scandal.

1MDB launched a fire sale of assets to stay solvent, and China’s biggest nuclear energy producer China General Nuclear Power Corporation came to the rescue last year, purchasing its power assets for $2.3 billion.

Depressed oil prices have slashed government revenue in energy-exporting Malaysia, which also faces rising public-sector debt.

“This trip reflects not only Malaysia’s geostrategic re-alignment to China as the ‘regional banker’ but also the reality that Najib is desperate for alternative financial sources,” Welsh said.

China has increasingly won major infrastructure and other projects in Malaysia.

Among the agreements was one to build a new rail line on Malaysia’s east coast.

Later this week Najib will meet President Xi Jinping, as well as Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba…

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Malaysia_PM_signs_defence_deal_in_tilt_toward_China_999.html.

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15 October 2016 Saturday

Malaysia handed over three members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) to Turkey late Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday.

In remarks made to the media in southwestern Turkey’s Antalya province, Cavusoglu said a FETO member had infiltrated the Second Asia Cooperation Dialogue Summit in Bangkok last week. “They threw him out. This is an organization which tries to infiltrate everywhere.”

He reiterated that Turkey would continue its fight against FETO till the end. “Our fight against them will continue till the end, both inland and abroad. We will not stop following them.”

About his meeting with Malaysian Premier Najib Razak last week, Cavusoglu said Razak told him Malaysia would surrender the three FETO members to Turkey during the summit in Bangkok.

“I gave the information [about the FETO members] to our president, prime minister and related [state] institutions after I returned to Turkey. They surrendered the three people last night following the mutual dialogues,” he said.

Turkey accuses FETO, which is led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, of organizing the July 15 coup attempt as well as a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

The defeated coup left 241 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/178706/malaysia-hands-over-3-feto-members-to-turkey.

October 9, 2016

Malaysia and Turkey have agreed to enhance defense relations, including the strengthening and coordination of military cooperation, according to Malaysia’s defense minister.

In a statement emailed to Anadolu Agency on Sunday, Hishammuddin Hussein said that following a recent working visit to Turkey relations between the two countries would be more structured and focused moving forward.

He added that areas of potential collaboration discussed with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Defense Minister Fikri Isik included the enhancement of tie-ups in the defense industry as well as other strategic areas of interest.

“We also discussed a range of counter-measures against the Islamic State [Daesh] threat and agreed that returning fighters from territories lost in Iraq and Syria pose a serious threat to Muslim countries that uphold democracy,” he said.

During the meetings, Hussein said he conveyed Malaysia’s unwavering support to Erdogan’s administration and condemned July’s attempt to overthrow the Turkish government.

“We both agreed to stand together in opposing unconstitutional attempts. Coups in any form that undermine the people’s will must never be tolerated,” he underlined.

Hussein said that Erdogan had also conveyed the need for continued cooperation between the two countries on issues related to terrorism.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161009-malaysia-turkey-agree-to-deepen-military-cooperation/.

16 July 2016 Saturday

Indonesian and Malaysian lawmakers have voiced support for democracy in Turkey after an attempted military coup.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry expressed concern Saturday over the situation in Turkey, as well as hope that the principles of democracy would be upheld.

“Indonesia emphasizes the importance of respect for the constitution and the principle of democratization,” it said in a statement quoted by detik.com.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said “we are monitoring the situation in Turkey closely” in a post on his Twitter account.

Leaders of Malaysia’s opposition pact expressed “shock” at the attempted coup late Friday.

“This military attempt to force regime change in Turkey is a blatant disregard for the democratic process and totally undermines the will of the Turkish people,” the Hope Pact said in a statement, underlining its solidarity with Turkey’s president and people.

“We pray for the safety of the Turkish people who are now amassing on the streets as a show of support for democracy,” it underlined. “We also call for a swift end to this attempted military coup, and a calm and restrained response by all sides.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier announced that a group within the Turkish military attempted an overthrow of the government.

Tanks drove around the streets of Istanbul late Friday, while warplanes and helicopters flew overhead in the capital Ankara, where bombs exploded at Parliament.

Some pro-coup soldiers attempted to take over state TV channel TRT, block CNN TURK broadcast and cut off TV networks at the ground station of satellite communications agency Turksat in Ankara’s Golbasi district.

Citizens responded to the action by the group, identified by Erdogan as the FETO/PDY terrorist organization, by taking to the streets across Turkey to protest.

The incidents have left at least 90 people dead and more than 1,000 others injured.

Erdogan declared the coup attempt over Saturday from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, where he vowed to remain until the situation in the country returns to normal.

He also slammed United States-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of leading a terrorist organization and attempting to infiltrate and overthrow the democratically-elected government in Turkey.

“It is enough the betrayal you have done to this nation,” Erdogan said, without mentioning Gulen’s name, and called on him to return to his country, where he would face trial.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/175029/indonesia-malaysian-mps-support-democracy-in-turkey.

April 15, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia deported 20 Taiwanese criminal suspects to Taiwan on Friday despite Beijing’s request that they be sent to China, amid an ongoing battle over jurisdiction involving the self-ruled island. A Malaysia official said another 32 Taiwanese suspects sought by China also will be sent to Taiwan.

A Taiwanese Foreign Ministry statement said the 20 suspects, who were detained on suspicion of committing wire fraud, had boarded a plane bound for Taiwan on Friday. Malaysian officials had delayed the flight, saying they were awaiting legal approval, but the Taiwanese foreign ministry said the plane was allowed to take off late Friday afternoon.

Taiwan’s statement Friday evening said its officials were actively engaged in talks to pressure Malaysia to allow another remaining 32 suspects to be deported to Taiwan for investigation. Later Friday, a Malaysian government official said the country has decided “to send the suspects back to their respective countries to be dealt with accordingly.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

The latest battle over Taiwanese deportations came after Kenya sent 45 Taiwanese suspects to China instead of Taiwan. Beijing wants to investigate them for defrauding victims in China by posing as police officers and insurance agents over the phone in order to obtain banking details.

China claims jurisdiction in such cases where the victims are Chinese, and says the perpetrators aren’t given due punishment when they are returned to Taiwan. The Malaysian official said a total of 120 foreigners — 68 from China and 52 from Taiwan — were detained last month in connection with a scam. He said two masterminds from China were deported April 13.

China then requested for all the remaining 118 to be sent to the mainland, on grounds that the scam involved 600 victims in China, the official said. The official said China reiterated its request to Malaysia on Friday after the 20 Taiwanese were deported to Taiwan. But he said Malaysia, which has no extradition treaty with China or Taiwan, is not obliged to accede to Beijing’s request.

Taiwan has protested that Kenya violated the legal process and accused Beijing of violating a tacit agreement not to interfere in each side’s citizens’ legal affairs abroad. A Taiwanese delegation is expected in Beijing soon to negotiate the matter.

Some see China’s moves as attempting to assert its claims to sovereignty over the island and legal authority over its residents. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and China has long sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically by preventing it from maintaining formal ties with most countries, including Malaysia and Kenya. China’s economic cloud lends it political influence.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has covered the Kenya deportations extensively, with suspects shown being led from the plane in prison smocks with bags over their heads. Others were shown in front of police and television cameras confessing to their crimes and apologizing to their victims.

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and video journalist Johnson Lai in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

August 31, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s prime minister vowed he would not quit over a $700-million financial scandal, and accused protesters of showing “poor national spirit” by holding a massive rally to demand his resignation on the eve of the country’s National Day on Monday.

After a weekend of demonstrations, the government took back the streets of Kuala Lumpur, with Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Cabinet ministers attending a gala parade involving 13,000 people. They watched jets whizz by above the landmark Independence Square, which over the weekend was surrounded by tens of thousands of protesters.

In his National Day speech late Sunday, Najib slammed protesters for showing a “shallow mind and poor national spirit.” He said the protests can disrupt public order and were not the right way to show unhappiness in a democratic country.

Najib said Malaysia was not a failed state and slammed protesters for tarnishing the country’s image. He vowed not to bow to pressure. “Once the sails have been set, once the anchor has been raised, the captain and his crew would never change course,” he said.

Police sealed off the square over the weekend. Large crowds of protesters in yellow shirts of the Bersih movement — a coalition for clean and fair elections — camped overnight around the square, even after authorities blocked the organizer’s website and banned yellow attire and the group’s logo.

The rally ended peacefully after protesters ushered in the country’s 58th National Day at midnight Sunday amid tight security. Police estimated the crowd size at 35,000, but Bersih says it swelled to 300,000 on Sunday from 200,000 on Saturday.

“What is 20,000?” Najib said, downplaying even the police number. “We can gather hundreds of thousands,” he said in a speech in a rural area in a northern state earlier Sunday. “The rest of the Malaysian population is with the government,” he was quoted as saying by the local media.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been spearheading calls for Najib’s resignation, added momentum to the rally when he turned up at the rally with his wife on both days. Mahathir, who clamped down on dissent during his 22-year rule, said people power was needed to remove Najib and return the rule of law. He stepped down in 2003 but remained influential.

Najib has been fighting for political survival after leaked documents in July showed he received some $700 million in his private accounts from entities linked to indebted state fund 1MDB. He later said the money was a donation from the Middle East and fired his critical deputy, four other Cabinet members and the attorney general investigating him.

Many of the protesters, such as Azrul Khalib, slept on the street. “This is a watershed moment. Malaysians are united in their anger at the mismanagement of this country. We are saying loudly that there should be a change in the leadership,” said Azrul.

He said he was aware that the rally will not bring change overnight, but he still participated because he wanted to be “part of efforts to build a new Malaysia.” Some used colored chalk to scrawl their demands on the street, writing slogans such as, “We want change,” and “We want clean and fair (elections).”

Two previous Bersih rallies, in 2011 and 2012, were dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannons. Analysts said the rally attracted a largely urban crowd with a smaller participation of ethnic Malays, which could be the reason why the Najib government allowed it to go on.

A nation of 30 million, Malaysia is predominantly Malay Muslim, who form the core of the ruling party’s support. The country also has significant Chinese and Indian minorities who have become increasingly vocal in their opposition to the government recent years.

Malaysia’s ambitions to rise from a middle income to a developed nation this decade have been stymied by slow-paced reforms and Najib’s increasing authoritarianism. Still, the government feels “safe because it has not really affected the rural Malay segment, their bedrock support,” said political analyst Ibrahim Suffian. However, he said this doesn’t mean that rural Malays are happy with the government, as many are upset with the plunging currency and economic slowdown.

Support for Najib’s National Front has eroded in the last two general elections. It won in 2013, but lost the popular vote for the first time to an opposition alliance. Concerns over the political scandal partly contributed to the Malaysian currency plunging to a 17-year low earlier this month.

In his speech, Najib rejected fears that the economy is crumbling. “We are stable, with strong fundamentals and will continue to survive and remain competitive,” he said.

August 30, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Big crowds of protesters returned to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to demand the resignation of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over a financial scandal, after the first day of the massive rally passed peacefully.

The protesters camped overnight wearing yellow shirts of the Bersih movement — the coalition for clean and fair elections — even after authorities blocked the organizer’s website and banned yellow attire and the group’s logo in a bid to deter the rallies, which were also held in other Malaysian cities.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been spearheading calls for Najib’s resignation, added momentum to the rally when he made a surprise brief appearance late Saturday with his wife to loud cheers from the crowd, and telling protesters to “carry on.”

Najib has been fighting for political survival after leaked documents in July showed he received some $700 million in his private accounts from entities linked to indebted state fund 1MDB. He later said the money was a donation from the Middle East, fired his critical deputy and four other Cabinet members as well as the attorney general investigating him.

He slammed the protests for tarnishing Malaysia’s image. “Those who wear this yellow attire … they want to discredit our good name, scribble black coal on Malaysia’s face to the outside world,” Najib was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama.

Police estimated Saturday’s crowd at 25,000, while Bersih says 200,000 participated at its peak. The rally was scheduled to last until midnight Sunday to usher in Malaysia’s 58th National Day. “This is a watershed moment. Malaysians are united in their anger at the mismanagement of this country. We are saying loudly that there should be a change in the leadership,” said protester Azrul Khalib, who slept on the street with his friends.

He said he was aware that the rally will not bring change overnight, but he wants to be “part of efforts to build a new Malaysia.” Some used colored chalks to scrawl their demands on the street: “We want change,” and “We want clean and fair (elections).”

Scores of police barricaded roads leading to the Independence Square, a national landmark that authorities declared off-limits to protesters ahead of the national day celebrations on Monday. Previous two Bersih rallies, in 2011 and 2012, were dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannons.

Analysts said the rally attracted a largely urban crowd with a smaller participation of ethnic Malays, which could be the reason why the Najib government allowed it to go on. “They feel safe because it has not really affected the rural Malay segment, their bedrock support,” said political analyst Ibrahim Suffian. However, he said this doesn’t mean that rural Malays are happy with the government, as many are upset with the plunging currency and economic slowdown.

A nation of 30 million, Malaysia is predominantly Malay Muslim with significant Chinese and Indian minorities. Its ambitions to rise from a middle income to a developed nation this decade have been stymied by slow-paced reforms and Najib’s increasing authoritarianism.

Support for Najib’s National Front has eroded in the last two general elections. It won in 2013, but lost the popular vote for the first time to an opposition alliance. Concerns over the political scandal partly contributed to the Malaysian currency plunging to a 17-year low beyond 4 ringgit to the dollar earlier this month.

Apart from Najib’s resignation, the demands being sought are institutional reforms that will make the government more transparent and accountable.

August 29, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Defying authorities, thousands of Malaysians wearing yellow T-shirts and blowing horns began gathering Saturday in Kuala Lumpur for a major rally to demand the resignation of embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The crowds were undeterred by heavy police presence after authorities declared the rally illegal, blocked the organizer’s website and banned yellow attire and the logo of Bersih, the coalition for clean and fair election that’s behind the protest.

Najib has been fighting for political survival after leaked documents in July showed he received some $700 million in his private accounts from entities linked to indebted state fund 1MDB. He later said the money was a donation from the Middle East, fired his critical deputy and four other Cabinet members as well as the attorney general investigating him.

Protesters in yellow Bersih T-shirts and headbands converged at five different locations, in preparation to march to areas surrounding the Independence Square, where celebrations to mark Malaysia’s 58th National Day will be held Monday.

Scores of riot police have sealed off roads leading to the square, which authorities have said is off-limits to protesters. Some activists were carrying canvas bags with the words “My Prime Minister Embarrasses Me.” Some held placards saying “We will not be silenced,” while others chanted “Bersih” and waved Malaysian flags.

In one area near the square, a comedian entertaining the crowd poked fun at Najib. Dressed up as an Arab, he pretended to hand over a multi-billion-ringgit check as a donation to a rally participant. “Stop treating us like fools, Mr. prime minister,” said businessman Tony Wong. “We deserve to know the truth about 1MDB. Where has the money gone to?”

1MDB, set up by Najib in 2009 to develop new industries, has accumulated 42 billion ringgit ($11.1 billion) in debt after its energy ventures abroad faltered. Critics have voiced concern about 1MDB’s massive debt and lack of transparency.

Concerns over the political scandal partly contributed to the Malaysian currency plunging to a 17-year low, beyond 4 ringgit to the dollar, earlier this month. Apart from Najib’s resignation, the rally, which will go on overnight, is also demanding institutional reforms that will make the government more transparent and accountable.

A nation of 30 million, Malaysia is predominantly Malay Muslim with significant Chinese and Indian minorities. Its ambitions to rise from a middle income to a developed nation this decade have been stymied by slow-paced reforms and Najib’s increasing authoritarianism.

This is the fourth rally organized by Bersih, and the third one since Najib took power in 2009. Tens of thousands of people turned up for the last two rallies in 2011 and 2012, which were dispersed by authorities using tear gas and water cannon.

Bersih activists said rallies were also held simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Kuching in Malaysia’s Sarawak state and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah state. Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed has warned police will take action if the rally turns violent or protesters break the law. He has said that protesters should show their unhappiness with the government at the ballot box, not in the streets.

Support for Najib’s National Front has eroded in the last two general elections. It won in 2013, but lost the popular vote for the first time to an opposition alliance.

August 27, 2015

Kuala Lumpur: A top Malaysian pop singer officially proclaimed her conversion to Islam during a press conference held at Astro on Tuesday, confirming rumors about embracing Islam after being spotted wearing hijab, according to media reports.

Rumors about Akademi Fantasia Season 6 champion’s reversion to Islam were circulated on social networking sites after she had appeared in a video taking the Islamic declaration of faith while dressed in hijab.

The 25-year-old star officially converted to Islam at the Johor Baru religious office in Johor and took a Muslim name, Ummu Syaikhah Stacy binti Anam.

The pop star, who has four albums, hopes that fans wouldn’t question her conversion to Islam. “I have fallen in love with Islam and I am ready to embrace it with all my heart,” she said.

Being in a relationship with a Muslim popular actor and TV personality Akim Ahmad was not the reason behind her conversion to Islam.

“Being a Muslim is a huge responsibility. There are a lot of things that I need to learn.

“So my focus now is to learn to become a good Muslimah first, before I can think about marriage,” she added.

Last month, two popular African footballers; Emmanuel Emenike and Emmanuel Adebayor reportedly converted to Islam.

Source: The Siasat Daily.

Link: http://www.siasat.com/news/i-have-fallen-love-islam-reverted-malaysian-pop-star-823004/.

May 11, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — About 1,600 Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees have landed illegally in Malaysia and Indonesia in the last two days, apparently after human traffickers abandoned their virtual prison ships and left them to fend for themselves, officials said Monday.

One group of about 600 people arrived in the Indonesian coastal province of Aceh on four boats on Sunday, and at about the same time a total of 1,018 landed in three boats on the northern resort island of Langkawi.

The Rohingyas, who are Muslim, have for decades suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which considers them illegal settlers from Bangladesh. Attacks on the Rohingyas by Buddhist mobs in the last three years have sparked an exodus to nearby countries.

Langkawi island deputy police chief Jamil Ahmed told The Associated Press that the group picked up Sunday comprised 865 men, 52 children and 101 women. Police found a big wooden boat trapped in the sand in shallow waters at a beach in Langkawi, capable of holding 350 people, he said. This meant there were at least two other boats but they have not been located yet, he said.

Jamil said a Bangladeshi man told police that the boat handlers gave them directions on where to go once they reached the Malaysian shores, and escaped in other boats. The migrant said they have not eaten for three days, Jamil said, adding that most of them were weak and thin.

“We believe there may be more boats coming,” Jamil said.  When the four ships neared Indonesia’s shores early Sunday, some passengers jumped into the water and swam, said Steve Hamilton, of the International Organization for Migration in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.

They have been taken to a sports stadium in Lhoksukon, the capital of North Aceh District, to be cared for and questioned, said Lt. Col. Achmadi, chief of police in the area, who uses only one name. Sick and weak after more than two months at sea, some were getting medical attention.

“We had nothing to eat,” said Rashid Ahmed, a 43-year-old Rohingya man who was on one of the boats. He said he left Myanmar’s troubled state of Rakhine with his eldest son three months ago. An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people are now being held in large and small ships in the Malacca Strait and nearby international waters, said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, which has monitored the movements of Rohingya for more than a decade. She added that crackdowns on trafficking syndicates in Thailand and Malaysia have prevented brokers from bringing them to shore.

Some are held even after family members pay for them to be released from the boats. “I am very concerned about smugglers abandoning boatloads at sea,” Lewa said, noting that some people have been stranded for more than two months.

Tightly confined, and with limited access to food and clean water, their health is deteriorating, Lewa said, adding that dozens of deaths have been reported. Thailand has long been considered a regional hub for human traffickers.

The tactics of brokers and agents started changing in November as authorities began to tighten security on land — a move apparently aimed at appeasing the U.S. government as it prepares to release its annual Trafficking in Persons report next month. Last year, Thailand was downgraded to the lowest level, putting it on par with North Korea and Syria.

Rohingya packing into ships in the Bay of Bengal have been joined in growing numbers by Bangladeshis fleeing poverty and hoping to find a better life elsewhere. Up until recently, their first stop was Thailand, where they were held in open pens in jungle camps as brokers collected “ransoms” of $2,000 or more from family and friends. Those who could pay continued onward, usually to Malaysia or other countries. Those who couldn’t were sometimes beaten, killed or left to die.

Since May 1, police have unearthed two dozen bodies from shallow graves in the mountains of southern Thailand, the apparent victims, they say, of smuggling rings. Thai authorities have since arrested dozens of people, including a powerful mayor and a man named, Soe Naing, otherwise known as Anwar, who was accused of being one of the trafficking kingpins in southern Thailand. More than 50 police officers are also under investigation.

__ Associated Press writers Robin McDowell in Yangon, Myanmar, and Margie Mason and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.