Review Category : English

Anjung Malaysia – a unique Malaysian experience at KLIA



SEPANG: The excitement at Malaysia Airports only gets better with its latest offering – the creation of Anjung Malaysia at KL International Airport (KLIA), an area which reflects the unique Malaysian culture and flavour through the display of local architecture, products and cuisines.

Officially launched on Tuesday by Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Transport Malaysia, ‘Anjung Malaysia’ leverages on the concept of ‘sense of place’ to create a unique opportunity for visitors to delve into the richness of Malaysian culture and have memorable experiences that can be seen, heard, touched and enjoyed.

In line with the theme ‘Nostalgia’ which brings to mind cherished encounters, visitors who attended the launch of ‘Anjung Malaysia’ were treated with a visually immersive and theatrical experience with specially curated local traditional atmosphere and entertainment.

According to Liow, “The transport sector can play a role in contributing to our national tourism target.

“Apart from the quality of our physical infrastructure, we must strive to provide a differentiating factor and unique experience to travellers.

“Nowhere is this more important that at the airport where it serves as the first impression of Malaysia to many travellers. The Ministry is highly supportive of all efforts to elevate the image of our airports.

“I am very pleased to see that Malaysia Airports has put equal emphasis on both the transportation and hospitality perspectives, signifying an even higher level of service and attention visitors’ needs and wants.”

In its pursuit to remove the perception that all airports are alike, Malaysia Airports strives to deliver lasting impressions by fostering a unique experiential ambience that other airports cannot simulate. It also hopes to evoke a sense of homecoming as well as nationalistic pride in the locals.

Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, Managing Director of Malaysia Airports said, “Airports that highlight the unique culture and geographical attributes associated with their locations are usually appreciated and enjoyed better by airport users.

“What we are trying to do is to enhance our passengers’ enjoyment of their Malaysian experience.

“The integration of our national identity with Malaysia Airports’ vision, brand and service delivery strategies will be a valuable differentiating factor.

“As Malaysians who are proud of what our country has to offer, this is also our way of showcasing that pride.”

Badlisham also mentioned that ‘Anjung Malaysia’ also serves a dual purpose in highlighting what Malaysia has to offer whereby local SMEs and entrepreneurs have been provided with a venue to showcase their products to an international audience.

Apart from the launch of ‘Anjung Malaysia’, Malaysia Airports unveiled its limited edition ‘Proudly Malaysian’ Chocolate Collection in collaboration with Royal Selangor and Fidani.

The keepsake box contains premium luxurious chocolates with Malaysian-themed motifs namely Peony, Malaysiana, Gembira and Batik.

Badlisham who was thrilled with the introduction of the ‘Proudly Malaysian’ exclusive chocolates added further that such collaboration is a good example of the airport operator working with its retailers to produce a unique Malaysian offering.

The limited edition chocolate collection are now on sale at the airport and customers who purchase one box of the exclusive chocolates would get an extra chance at winning the Malaysia Airports 25th Anniversary Shopping contest.

More information on Malaysia Airports’ latest campaigns and initiatives can be found at www.malaysiaairports.com.my .



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Hariri back in Lebanon for first time since quitting as PM



BEIRUT: Saad al-Hariri returned to Beirut on Tuesday for the first time since he resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia and plunged his country into political crisis.

Hariri’s sudden resignation on Nov. 4 thrust Lebanon to the forefront of regional tussle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Islamist Iran, whose powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah is part of the government.

Hariri was greeted by members of the security forces as he disembarked from a jet at Beirut airport, live footage of his arrival showed.

Hariri, a long-time ally of Saudi Arabia, cited fear of assassination and meddling by Iran and Hezbollah in the Arab world in his resignation speech. The move caught even his aides off guard, and politicians close to him say Riyadh forced him to quit and held him in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh and Hariri have denied this.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to accept the resignation until Hariri returns to present it in person.

Earlier, Hariri met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, saying after the meeting that he would announce his “political position” in Lebanon.

In a Nov. 12 interview from Saudi Arabia with Future TV, a station affiliated with his political party, Hariri said he would return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation.

But he also held out the possibility of withdrawing it if Hezbollah respected Lebanon’s policy of staying out of regional conflicts such as Yemen.



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Serba Dinamik posts RM1.9 bil revenue for Q3FY17



KUALA LUMPUR: Serba Dinamik Holdings Berhad and its subsidiaries announced the group’s financial results for the third quarter ended 30 September 2017, posting an increase of 27.7 percent in revenue at RM653.3 million.

This is compared to RM511.5 million recorded in the preceding year’s corresponding quarter ended September 30, 2016.

Consequently, both Profit Before Tax (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT) rose by 77.3 percent at RM85.8 million and 46.5 percent at RM67.0 million, respectively, for Q3FY17 as compared to RM48.4 million and RM45.8 million recorded in Q3FY16.

Group Managing Director / Group Chief Executive Director of Serba Dinamik Holdings, Datuk Ir Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah said, “We are one step closer within our internal expectations as the revenue projected for 9MFY17 stood at RM1.9 billion. We are also positive for the future prospects of the company, as the recent announcement for the establishment of a chlor-alkali plant in Tanzania marks our first step into Africa.”

Serba Dinamik’s improved revenue was mainly driven by the Group’s operations & maintenance (O&M) segment, which remained the largest contributor for the Group, with a total contribution of RM567.9 million, while the Group’s engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) segment contributed RM84.1 million to the total revenue for Q3FY17.

Datuk Karim added, “This year has been a good year for us. We have experienced rapid growth and have successfully expanded our global footprint. We have great plans ahead of us, and we remain optimistic that we can further strengthen the Group’s business viability and profitability.

Both O&M and EPCC showed significant improvement of 21.1 percent and 108.7 percent, respectively, in Q3FY17 as compared to RM468.8 million and RM40.28 million recorded for the Q3FY16.

The Group’s O&M segment revenue was mainly derived from South East Asia and the Middle East region as well as increase in activity from Turkmenistan from the additional contract, while EPCC’s improved performance is mainly attributed to the construction of water treatment plant in Terengganu, and inclusion of the contract with New Thunder Technical Services from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In respect of the financial year ending December 31, 2017, the Board of Directors has declared a third interim single-tier tax exempt dividend of 1.50 sen per ordinary share, to be paid on 20 December 2017.

The entitlement date for the dividend payment is December 7, 2017.



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Of superheroes and social progression – An analysis of DC vs Marvel



*WARNING!! SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD 
**ANOTHER WARNING!! FOR DC COMIC LOVERS, STOP HERE IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH

THE very utterance of this opinion segment’s subtitle is enough to bring out the hatchets of rivalry and the post-modern age’s debate on which is the better comic, or should I say, “graphic novel” (resounding groans resonated in the background)- DC or Marvel?

As tacky as it may sound, movies and TV shows are important influencing factors on how the society moves and in which direction.

We have to face the fact that music and movies are today’s version of poetry and art, akin to renaissance age’s actual poetry, painting, sculpture and plays.

No better proof of this is evident than the fact that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Literary Prize for best poet of the contemporary age a mere year ago in 2016.

Let’s begin with congratulating both of them for the improved representation of all minority groups- women and African(-Americans)- gleaning over other groups of minority in the interest of simplifying issues of arguments without splitting hairs.

Agreed, the Marvel comic series has long included African Americans in its publications, the first major black superhero being Luke Cage, personified in its namesake series on Netflix.

However, African American representation in the portrayal as a major superhero on TV (or cinema) had long, painful background.

In an interview by Neil deGrasse Tyson of Whoopi Goldberg in the August 2016 issue of National Geographic, she related on how difficult the road was for her to be portrayed as the first black female hero(ish) character on the Star Trek franchise.

We have seen a lot of improvements in this aspect, but the writer awaits with bated breath for the moment when more Asians, Hispanics and Natives are given the same platform.

Furthermore, a leading role for an openly gay superhero, comparable to Mr Sulu in the latest Star Trek movie franchise.

For diehard DC comic fans, or what I deem as irrational fanatics (here’s the point where the writer’s affiliations are clear), do stop here to avoid frothing in the mouth and heart burns.

Here comes the scathing criticism of DC comics and how it portrayal on the silver screen sets us back a few decades.

Several news social media platforms have openly criticized the objectification of women in the form more scantily clad Amazonians in the Justice as compared to the early released Wonder Woman.

The popular analysis on how the Wonder Woman was directed by a female director, hence representing more accurately how a woman would dress to battle, logically opting for more protection via armour totally trumps over the fact that Justice League was directed by a male who would alternatively more accurately represent what his teenage wet dream self would imagine a warrior woman would dress in.

The latter resulting in clothing that first and foremost is very likely to be displaced during rapid repetitive movements, what more in battles and completely and utterly non-protective.

The end result is a female warrior who is so confident of her freedom to dress that she leaves her torso at the complete mercy of not only arrows, swords and spears, but even a fork or satay sticks (you know, in the event the foe was completely disarmed and has to go Jackie Chan style).

Unfortunately, objectification of one’s body and hypersexualisation of its characters doesn’t stop at its women characters. Lo and behold how the fully dressed corpse of Clark Kent donning full three-piece suit, tie and even leather shoes miraculously became topless after resurrection.

The writer can accept if, for the sake of argumentation, during the electrification of Kent a.k.a. Super Frankenstein, his clothes were torn asunder (think Hulk).

But this is a clean undressing of Mr Superman, pants completely intact. The only possible explanation then, is hypersexualizing Mr Steve Cahill to the female audience.

A sneaky little move to commercialize Cahill’s six pecs and more a few dustings of chest hairs. To quote Trump- SAD. A similar move is done to Momoa’s tattoo covered torso.

Gone is the tactful placement of such opportunistic view of the men’s happy trails, enter garish manipulation of men for the outright intent of garnering more return of investment.

Whatever happened to selling a man’s prowess by portrayal of his suave, wit, humour and intellect? This movie made yours truly truly miss the sass that is Iron Man.

Last but definitely not least, the latest production of DC comic completely lacks the in-depth analysis of the internal conflicts surrounding the principles and personal beliefs of its two main polar opposites, Batman and Superman.

Its over-simplication of the conflicts and even simpler resolution that had minutes before, put each and every member of the newly formed team of world saviours at the precipice of death, leaves and awful sawdust feeling in the audience. Really? Present Lois Lane and all is okay? This is all you can offer? Sigh.

Having said that, this movie is worth watching. They have improved the element of humour that had previously been very jarringly amiss in DC comics.

At the very least this movie would help future producers, writers and directors to create a full list of things to not do in a superhero movie. After all, what message are we trying to send to our youths and children?

DC should start positively impacting the society. Or, society should just stick to Marvel (and Star Trek).


*Mastura Rosly is a medical doctor and a psychiatric specialist-trainee who observes social behaviour

** The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.



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Zimbabwes Mugabe resigns ending four decades of rule



HARARE: Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president on Tuesday, shortly after parliament began an impeachment process to end his nearly four decades of rule.

The 93-year old clung on for a week after an army takeover and expulsion from his own ruling ZANU-PF party, which also told him to leave power.

Wild celebrations broke out at a joint sitting of parliament when Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced Mugabe’s resignation and suspended the impeachment procedure.

The origin of Mugabe’s sudden downfall lies in rivalry between members of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite over who will succeed him, rather than popular protests against his rule.

The army seized power after Mugabe sacked ZANU-PF’s favourite to succeed him, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to smooth a path to the presidency for his wife Grace, 52, known to her critics as “Gucci Grace” for her reputed fondness for luxury shopping.

Mnangagwa, a former security chief known as The Crocodile, is expected to take over as president.



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WIEF13 Muslim countries must relentlessly fight terrorism – PM



Malaysia has called for relentless commitment from Muslim countries in dealing with terrorism and violent extremism as well as fighting Daish.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak quoted the continued death and destruction in Iraq and Syria, Daish attack on Marawi, the Philippines, and humanitarian tragedy in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

“The scale of suffering and strife that has taken place cannot be allowed to go unchecked.

“As Muslim, we are enjoined to fight injustice and evil, and this is a sacred duty that we are tasked with,” he said at the 13th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) here today.

Najib, who is also the patron of WIEF Foundation, said Muslim countries across the international community and the Islamic World, have a role to play in dealing with the challenges.

He said Malaysia’s efforts to help resolve the plight of the Rohingya had begun to yield positive results.

The prime minister also shared that Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Manila, had expressed her commitment to find a solution to the crisis in Rakhine.

Najib further revealed that nations at the summit made a commitment to curtail the threat of terrorism and violent extremism through information sharing and law enforcement cooperation.

“These are measures Malaysia has long called for, and I am pleased that our efforts at fighting Daish have been recognised around the world,” he added.

Meanwhile, the prime minister noted that much of the Muslim world lacked investment in the right kind of quality education, which poised a huge challenge for the Umma.

He said a country must equip its young people with higher order thinking skills so that they are open-minded, creative and innovative and ready to adapt to the jobs that aren’t yet even in existence .

“Indeed, there is a vast amount of people who don’t even have access to basic necessities like water, healthcare, even basic education.

“(This) reminds us that we (the governments) must always put our peoples at the heart of our policies,” he stressed.

As for Malaysia, Najib said the country was ready for disruptive change given the peace and stability it enjoyed, and backed by the government’s long-term planning, specifically efforts to be taken under the National Transformation 2050 where the government placed a special focus on innovation and creativity.



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Boustead Plantations records RM561 million profit after tax for Q3FY17



KUALA LUMPUR: Boustead Plantations Berhad (BPB) had a strong showing for its third quarter which ended September 30, 2017 with profit after tax (PAT) of RM561 million.

This reflects a sizeable jump from RM38 million in the previous year’s corresponding quarter. Profit before tax (PBT) increased to RM599 million.

These improved results were primarily attributed to gains realised on disposal of land amounting to RM555 million.

Meanwhile, revenue for the quarter under review stood at RM183 million.

For the nine-month period, the group recorded a higher PAT of RM626 million, while PBT rose to RM685 million.

Revenue for the period increased to RM542 million.

In line with the group’s solid performance, the Board of Directors declared a third interim dividend of 3 sen per share and a special dividend of 7 sen per share for the financial year ending December 31, 2017.

The dividend will be paid on December 19, 2017 to shareholders on the register as at December 8, 2017.

In addition to improve liquidity of the stock and further reward shareholders, the group is proposing to undertake a bonus issue of 640 million new bonus shares to be credited as fully paid-up.

This proposed bonus issue is on the basis of two bonus shares for every five existing BPB shares held by shareholders on the register as per an entitlement date that will be determined later.

PLANTATION INDUSTRY SEEING IMPROVED OUTLOOK

The average crude palm oil (CPO) selling price for the nine-month period was RM2,871 per metric tonne (MT), up by 16% from RM2,475 per MT in the same period last year, while average palm kernel price rose by 8% to RM2,478 per MT.

Fresh fruit bunches (FFB) production increased by 5% to 696,668 MT, mainly as a result of improved yields post El-Nino in the first half of the year.

Average oil extraction rate for the period was 20.9 percent and kernel extraction rate was 4.3 percent, slightly lower than the same period last year.

BPB’s Vice Chairman Tan Sri Datuk Seri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin said, “We are pleased to deliver a strong performance for the nine-month period. In addition to gains realised from disposal of land, our earnings were supported by better selling prices for palm products.”

For the nine-month period, the Peninsular region recorded a stronger operating profit of RM77 million, up by 63 percent compared with RM47 million in last year’s corresponding period. This was attributable to higher CPO prices.

As a result of improved production from the northern estates and young palms on the east coast, FFB crop rose by 10 percent to 305,713 MT.

The Sabah region posted a higher operating profit of RM59 million, a 24 percent increase from RM47 million in the same period last year. FFB crop grew by 4 percent to 294,243 MT, despite high turnover of workers and erratic weather conditions.

Meanwhile, the Sarawak region registered an operating profit of RM5 million, an improvement from the RM1 million recorded in the previous year’s corresponding period. This was attributable to higher selling prices for palm products. FFB crop for the period saw a slight drop to 96,712 MT.



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Nomura Research not bullish on Malaysian banks



BANGKOK: Nomura Research places Malaysian banks to be the least attractive among key Southeast Asian banks.

The research house places the Philippines’ banks, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore -in that order- to be above Malaysian banks in current market environment.

In their Anchor Report, Nomura states that investors have to be “more selective in 2018 due to strong 2017 performance” and that investors need “more focused on macroeconomy-to-banking harmonisation as key criteria (in investing)’.

The Japanese-based research house says that their analysis is based on a few factors. First, growth prospects at the macro and banking level of each country. Second, earnings growth potential of the banks under coverage, and third, comparison of share price valuation.

Nomura stated that they “think this is especially important as 2017 thus far has been an outstanding year for the ASEAN-5 banking sector, yielding and average YTD price performance of 22.5%, 7.8 percentage points above the ASEAN-5’s average YTD price performance of 14.7%.

NOMURA’S PECKING ORDER OF INVESTING MARKETS

In the report, Nomura Research says that they are more optimistic on the Philippines and Thailand banks than they are to Indonesian, Singaporean and Malaysian banks.

They believe that in the Philippines, banks are on “All cylinders fired for further rerating, led by the fastest-growing economy in Asia, which has high correlation to strong credit growth”. Nomura added that the asset quality of these banks remains benign, as the system non performing loans (NPL) ratio is the lowest in ASEAN-5.

For the Thailand banks, Nomura argues that they are in early stages of earnings recovery as the Thai banking system exits the peak of the NPL cycle. With asset quality improvements have not yet fully been priced in, Nomura has upgraded two banks to Buy in 2017, and have Buy calls on four of eight stocks under their coverage.

MALAYSIAN BANKS NOT ATTRACTIVE?

Nomura has a balanced view on Malaysian banks. They say that “despite stronger economic growth, we are not seeing a translation to faster loan growth. A potential policy rate hike could put more pressure on growth. With weaker ROEs, valuations for MY banks seem stretched relative to other ASEAN banks”.

This is coming after the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim stated on Monday that Malaysian banks must avoid the rush in getting deposits. It is with a clear and unequivocal statement coming in from the central bank that such behavior could prove detrimental to the banking system as this ‘rush’ could push up pricing costs amongst treasuries in the market.



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Taylor Swifts Reputation is 2017s biggest U.S. album debut



LOS ANGELES: Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” album sold 1.216 million copies in its first week and debuted at the top of the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, Nielsen Music said on Monday, the biggest album debut of the year.

The first week sales for “Reputation” outpaced the year’s previous biggest debut, rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn.,” which opened with 603,000 album units in April.

Swift’s “Reputation,” became the best-selling U.S. album this year and by far exceeded the cumulative 863,000 in albums sales accrued by numbers 2 through 200 on the Billboard charts for the week ending November 16, according to figures from Nielsen Music.

The album crossed the 1 million sales milestone just four days after its release, but failed to beat the monster sales for the debut of British singer Adele’s “25” album, which surpassed 2.43 million copies in the first four days of release in November 2015.

“Reputation,” Swift’s first studio album in three years, marks another transformation in image for the 27-year-old country-turned-pop star, who is known for using her love life for inspiration without ever directly naming names.

The album’s first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” scored the biggest YouTube debut in history with more than 43 million views in the first 24 hours when it was released in August.

Since Nielsen Music began tracking data in 1991, Swift had been the only artist to have three different albums sell more than a million copies in a week. “Reputation” was her fourth album to accomplish the feat, it said.



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Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism triggers sanctions



WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Monday put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the United States to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Republican president, who has traded personal insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but has not ruled out talks, said the Treasury Department will announce additional sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday.

The designation came a week after Trump returned from a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia in which he made containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions a centrepiece of his discussions.

“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.”

“It should have happened a long time ago,” Trump said.

North Korea is pursuing nuclear weapons and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. It has fired two missiles over Japan and on Sept. 3 fired its sixth and largest nuclear test.

South Korea’s spy agency said on Monday the North may conduct additional missile tests this year to improve its long-range missile technology and ramp up the threat against the United States.

Experts say the designation will be largely symbolic, as North Korea is already heavily sanctioned by the United States.

The United States has designated only three other countries – Iran, Sudan and Syria – as state sponsors of terrorism.

Some experts think North Korea does not meet the criteria for the designation, which requires evidence that a state has “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

In his remarks, Trump remembered Otto Warmbier, the college student from Ohio who died in June shortly after his return from North Korea, where he was held for more than a year. His death caused outrage in the United States and further inflamed tensions with Pyongyang.

MOVE COULD BACKFIRE

A U.S. intelligence official who follows developments in North Korea expressed concern that the move could backfire, especially given that the basis for the designation is arguable.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kim could respond in a number of ways, including renewing missile or nuclear tests in “a very volatile environment.”

The move also could undercut Trump’s efforts to solicit greater Chinese cooperation in pressuring North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, the official said.

In any case, it will do little to open the way for U.S. dialogue with North Korea, which China, Pyongyang’s No. 1 ally, and others have been pushing for.

In February, plans for talks in the United States between former U.S. officials and North Korea were scrapped when the State Department denied a visa for a top envoy from Pyongyang after the murder of Kim’s half brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Malaysia.

The assassination also derailed “the first meaningful opportunity” for direct contacts between the two governments, a senior State Department official recently told Reuters.

North Korea was put on the U.S. terrorism sponsor list for the 1987 bombing of a Korean Air flight that killed all 115 people aboard. But the administration of former President George W. Bush, a Republican, removed Pyongyang in 2008 in exchange for progress in denuclearisation talks.

Some members of Congress had been pushing for years for North Korea to be put back on the list, but others questioned whether the reclusive regime met the criteria of actively sponsoring international terrorism.

U.S. Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called the decision “an important step in our efforts to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on Kim Jong Un.”

However, Democratic Senator Edward Markey said the designation “ratchets up the rhetoric” but does nothing to hold the North accountable for its weapons programme.

The designation could prove counterproductive, said Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at the conservative Center for the National Interest.

“Sadly, this action by the Trump administration just further cements a dangerous game of escalatory brinkmanship where neither side is giving the other any off-ramp,” he said.



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