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Indonesia and Malaysia are bolstering security along their borders with the southern Philippines, and an Indonesian official has warned that the area could become “the new Somalia” after a recent surge in maritime kidnappings.
Companies that ship coal from Kalimantan to the Philippines have been forced to suspend shipments or change routes after 14 Indonesian sailors were abducted at sea by Abu Sayyaf militants. Based in the southern Philippines, the group has declared allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group and is demanding a million-dollar ransom for 10 of the men.
Malaysia, which has seen four of its nationals kidnapped, has allocated 50 million ringgit (U.S. $12.8 million) to beef up security in its easternmost state of Sabah to contain trans-border crime in the area, the nation’s police chief told BenarNews.
The Royal Malaysia Police is establishing forward operating bases on islands in a special security zone off the state’s coast “to anticipate any future threats in the waters of Sabah,” said Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar.
Malaysia had earlier designated the area as the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), and bolstered security there following a daring 2013 incursion by a band of fighters loyal to a Sulu Archipelago sultan claiming the territory.
Indonesia, meanwhile, has invited foreign ministers and top defense officials from the Philippines and Malaysia to Jakarta on May 3 to discuss safeguarding maritime trade routes among the three countries.
“The agenda will be the possibility of joint patrols in the area,” Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday, in announcing the meeting.
“We don’t want this area to become the new Somalia,” Luhut said, referring to the Horn of Africa country whose pirates raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom payments between 2005 and 2011. Somalia also is home to al-Shabaab, a militant group linked with al-Qaeda.
On Tuesday, Luhut said the shipping company that employs the 10 crew members kidnapped on March 29 had agreed to pay a ransom, but negotiations were still under way.
Abu Sayyaf has demanded a ransom of 50 million pesos (U.S. $1.07 million) for the 10 sailors.
The group for years has run a kidnapping racket from Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines. Last week, it issued a video in which it threatened to behead one of four hostages on April 28, if a ransom demand for two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina were not paid by then.
In November, Abu Sayyaf beheaded a Malaysian citizen, Bernard Then, who had been snatched from a seaside restaurant in Sabah in May and taken to the southern Philippines.
Authorities are not yet sure who abducted four more Indonesian sailors on April 15, although Malaysian officials originally pinned the blame on Abu Sayyaf, based on accounts from six crew members who escaped and made it to shore in Sabah.
A spokeswoman for PT Patria Maritim Lines, whose crew was kidnapped March 29, declined to comment on ransom negotiations with Abu Sayyaf.
She said the company had suspended all shipments after the incident, pending improved security conditions in waters near the Tawi-Tawi islands, where the kidnapping occurred.
“Even if another company requests a coal delivery to the Philippines, we will turn them down for now,” Sara Lubis told BenarNews.
PT Kideco Jaya Agung, a company based in Paser, East Kalimantan, said it was still shipping coal to the Philippines but had been forced to change routes to avoid the threat of piracy in waters near Tawi-Tawi.
“We’ve changed the distribution route of ships carrying coal exports to the Philippines. We use the Java Sea and Makassar Strait to reach the Philippines,” company official Siswoko told BenarNews.
New bases in Sabah
In Manila, Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Rene Almendras assured Malaysian counterpart Anifah Aman that his government was “taking all the necessary measures” to ensure the safe release of four Malaysian sailors kidnapped April 1, a Malaysian Foreign Ministry statement said Friday.
The new security outposts being set up in ESSCOM zone off Sabah’s east coast will be manned by Marine Police, Special Forces and Air Operations Force members, among other units, Police Inspector-General Khalid told Benar.
A new forward base has been operational since April 11 at Mabul Island, while another on Bangi Island would be activated soon, he said. Mabul lies off the southern coast of the eastern tip of Sabah, and Banggi lies off its northern coast.
On Monday, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced that the ministry would station six MD-530 G light helicopters in the area by the end of 2016.
Sabah Police Commissioner Abd. Harun Rashid told BenarNews that the choppers would strengthen security in the zone.
Malaysia police were ready to assist Indonesian security forces in combatting piracy in the area, he added.
“Malaysian police and the Indonesian security forces must work together to find ways of a more coordinated action. We are ready for any further action by parties involved, including assisting on the kidnapping,” he said. (BenarNews)
Gunawan in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia contributed to this report.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has finally started rolling out end-to-end encrypted chat backups for iOS and Android users globally. With the new update, if a user chooses to back up his chat history with end-to-end encryption, it will be accessible only to him, and no one will be able to unlock the backup. Neither WhatsApp nor the backup service provider will be able to access their end-to-end encryption backup.
"With end-to-end encrypted backups, no other messaging service at WhatsApp's scale will provide this level of security for people's messages -- from sending and transit, to receiving and storing in the cloud," the company said in a post. The feature will be rolling out "slowly" for people on the latest version of the app.
he feature will be rolling out "slowly" for people on the latest version of the app. | Photo by AARN GIRI on Unsplash
Once the feature rolls out, open WhatsApp, go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backups > End-to-End Encrypted Backup, and then follow the prompts. One can now secure their end-to-end encrypted backup with either a password of their choice or a 64-digit encryption key which means that no one else but only the user will be able to access the backup.
"This feature will provide people with more privacy and security for their digital conversations and that's a responsibility that we don't take lightly. Given this, we are rolling this out slowly to ensure a consistent and reliable user experience for people on iOS and Android around the world," the company added. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: encryption, encrypted, whatsapp, people, backup, End-to-end Encryption
A luxurious house makeover might seem to be an expensive and overwhelming task but it doesn't necessarily have to drill holes in your pocket. A few small changes and the right decor pieces can make a huge difference to the way your home looks. Keyur Zaveri, VP of Design at Furlenco shares some ideas that could give your home a rich look.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
While it may feel intuitive to keep adding expensive decor to your home to give it the luxurious touch, in today's ageless is really more. Simplifying your space can give your home a classy look. Invest in a few accent decor pieces - a lamp, wall art, decor for a centre table that are cohesive and work well together in the theme of your room as opposed to having numerous things that do not look like they belong together. Resist the temptation to buy over-the-top accessories and unnecessary furniture, which make your home look bulky.
Resist the temptation to buy over-the-top accessories and unnecessary furniture, which make your home look bulky. | Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash
The most important part of creating a luxurious house is to add furniture that is comfortable and elegant. Good furniture, paired with stylish soft furnishings is the first step to creating a beautiful house. Pillows & Cushions of various sizes and accent throws can instantly make a home feel more inviting. Play around with the colours and fabrics of the furniture and find soft furnishing that complements the centrepieces. Invest in good quality fabrics like velvet, linen or suede to upholster your furniture. You can even try textured fabrics like denim blue and faux leather.
Pillows & Cushions of various sizes and accent throws can instantly make a home feel more inviting. | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Lighting can make all the difference to the vibe of your house and help you create a luxurious, beautiful looking space. Using multiple sources of light that draw attention to various corners in the house can make a space look very well put together. Invest in ceiling lamps, floor lamps, table lamps, and accent light fixtures to highlight your favourite areas in the house. While it is advisable to keep a single colour and tone of light, the intensity and direction can be played around to enhance the ambience of the space.
Lighting can make all the difference to the vibe of your house and help you create a luxurious, beautiful looking space. | Photo by Karan Nagpal on Unsplash
Layering works wonders everywhere- be it a chic coat or blazer over your outfit that adds extra charm, or adding decor pieces to your furniture for a luxe look. Carpets add splendour and exquisiteness, instantly changing the way a room looks. Area rugs under tables and sofas help in defining spaces and can blend together the whole look. Experiment with some elegant runners near your beds, on top of your dining tables, or even your bathrooms. You can also add wall coverings and window coverings for a more inclusive aesthetic.
Area rugs under tables and sofas help in defining spaces and can blend together the whole look. | Photo by Sina Saadatmand on Unsplash
You can add a small yet noticeable metallic touch to upgrade your interiors. However, you must be careful to not overdo it; the key to going bling is to keep the metallic accessories minimal. Consider golds, bronzes, copper or silver hues and incorporate them in cushions, lamps, accent walls, lighting fixtures, or centrepieces. You should ensure that each finish is a thoughtful addition to your space.
You can add a small yet noticeable metallic touch to upgrade your interiors. | Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash
Incorporating these tips can do wonders for your home decor. You can make your home luxurious, without costing an arm and a leg. More than anything it's about making the right choices that give your house look clean and classy.
(Article originally published on IANS Life) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: metallic, lighting, fabrics, invest, luxurious, furniture
India may not see a billion smartphone users even by the end of this decade and there are seven key challenges to achieve 100 per cent smartphone penetration, according to a new report. With the shrinking addressable base for smartphones, India is likely to have 887.4 million smartphone users by 2030, said the report by Gurugram-based market intelligence firm techARC.
The new smartphone user acquisition has been on a decline since 2018, after 4G drove switch to smartphones as it ushered several new use cases and forced feature phone users to upgrade. This, however, is not the case with 5G, which can substantially bring out a new use case for the mobile users compelling the feature phone users to move to a smartphone.
Affordability is the first concern even if users would discover their own use cases. "This is on account of both - investment in the device and the recurring data cost. Even to own a device, it's a substantial increase in the outlay for around 200-250 million users who cannot spent more than Rs 1,500 on a mobile device," said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.
Even to own a device, it's a substantial increase in the outlay for around 200-250 million users who cannot spent more than Rs 1,500 on a mobile device. | Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash
Second reason is that there are no models that could self-subsidise the smartphones for this potential audience, who are on the other side of the fence waiting to join the smartphone arena. "Advertising-based revenue and value-added driven revenues are negligible for such audiences where advertisers would not be ready to spend much as this is not their target audience," the report mentioned. So, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cannot work out any model of recovering partial cost of the device upfront and then realising the gap in due course through other streams.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cannot work out any model of recovering partial cost of the device upfront and then realising the gap in due course through other streams. | Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash
The third key reason is that the OEM ecosystem is gradually moving away from the entry segment. All major OEMs have disinvested out of the entry segment (less than Rs 5,000) where the first-time smartphone user would fall. Rather OEMs are moving to higher average selling price (ASP) as consumers are willing to spend more (15-35 per cent) on their next upgrade/replacement of smartphones.
The fourth reason is that the OEMs are adding more features and functions to their smartphones to facilitate paying users leverage more from the device by consuming content and other services, which are subscription based. The interest of OEMs is gradually moving in this direction, where they could increase the lifetime value (LTV) per smartphone user by getting a pie of the services that the users are paying for.
"Another reason is that attempts such as a hybrid smart-feature phone, haven't paid off well. Though it has got in additional 80-85 million users into the digital ecosystem using fundamental digital services, majority of the featurephone users haven't accepted this 'workaround' wholeheartedly," said Kawoosa.
Attempts such as a hybrid smart-feature phone, haven't paid off well. | Photo by The Average Tech Guy on Unsplash
The sixth reason is that globally, we are witnessing prices of components going up on the one or another pretext. This is only forcing the OEMs to increase the cost of the devices and in a very hypersensitive market like smartphones, it is very challenging for the OEMs to frequently trade-off between input costs and the market opportunities.
Globally, we are witnessing prices of components going up on the one or another pretext. | Photo by Yiorgos Ntrahas on Unsplash
Finally, the entire smartphone ecosystem is interested in investing in opportunities which are rewarding. For example, when we compare education and gaming as two areas of immense opportunity, the entire smartphone ecosystem has preferred to make considerable investments in gaming than education. "There is hardly any OEM focusing on making devices affordable so that more and more students could benefit from digital means of education. But over the past two years, we have seen several OEMs making gaming smartphones in the affordable segments," the report argued. The result: At 4.9 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for smartphone subscriber growth, India may not have a billion smartphone users even by 2030. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: gaming, education, affordable, market, report, reason, device