Call for global New Deal School fire claims 23 in Malaysia REGIONAL NOTES
GENEVA – The world must ditch austerity and economic neo-liberalism and undertake a global “New Deal” to rebalance the global economy and achieve prosperity for all, the United Nations trade and development agency UNCTAD said in a report yesterday.
UNCTAD chief Mukhisa Kituyi said the global economy was picking up but still not lifting off.
“A combination of too much debt and too little demand at the global level has hampered sustained expansion of the world economy,” he stated.
Much of the blame was aimed at “neo-liberalism”, a term used to refer to governments cutting back on their own role and leaving the private sector to lead economic and social development within a freemarket capitalist system.
The system was perceived to be unduly biased in favour of a handful of large corporations, financial institutions and wealthy individuals, the report said.
The world now needed a “21st century makeover”, it said.
“The whole neo-liberal mantra that ‘there is no alternative’ has begun to fall apart,” Richard Kozul-wright, UNCTAD’S globalisation director, told a news conference.
“We need a global ‘New Deal’,” he said, referring to the policies that revived the United States economy in the 1930s.
The aim should be to end fiscal austerity and prioritise reflation, full employment and decent jobs, rather than tackling inflation and cutting government debt. ( Reuters) KUALA LUMPUR – A blaze at an Islamic boarding school in the Malaysian capital killed at least 23 people yesterday, most of them teenage boys who cried for help from barred windows, officials and witnesses said.
The fire broke out at around 5:40 a.m. in a top-floor dormitory in the three-storey building, firemen said, where most of the students were sleeping in bunk beds, with many of the windows covered by metal grills. One survivor said there was just one window the boys managed to open.
Two teachers were also killed in the fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a 15-minute drive from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, police said, adding that most of the victims died from smoke inhalation.
The youngest was just seven, media said.
The disaster has renewed calls for greater scrutiny of socalled “tahfiz” schools, where students learn to memorize the Quran. They are unregulated by the education ministry, being the responsibility of the religious department.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said at least 31 fires had been reported at such schools in Malaysia since 2011, adding that they must follow safety regulations. ( Reuters)
Public sector layoffs on hold
PORT OF SPAIN – The government has agreed to put a moratorium on retrenchment in the public sector until the end of the year.
This agreement was reached on Wednesday by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley following a three-hour long meeting with the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), led by Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget, at the Office of the Prime Minister.
Roget said the moratorium was in return for the unions returning to the National Tripartite Advisory Council. He said the unions had initially left the council because they were not satisfied with the way “mass retrenchments” were taking place in the private and public sectors within the last two years. ( CMC)
Probe into plane fire
NASSAU – The authorities have launched an investigation following a fire that destroyed a small plane at the Linden Pindling International Airport.
The small plane, operated by Golden Wings Charter, was destroyed in a fire at the Golden Wings’ maintenance bay on Wednesday. The owner and operator of the charger company, Cameron Roach, said the plane was in for scheduled maintenance when the fuel tank ignited without warning. ( CMC)
Residents disarm gunman
HANOVER, Jamaica – The police have showered residents in Green Island, Hanover, with praises after they disarmed a gunman along the Orange Bay Main Road on Wednesday night.
The residents reportedly accosted the man about 8:40 p.m. and handed him over to the police. According to reports, the accused was armed with a homemade shotgun, loaded with two cartridges. ( Observer)