William fills royal void during King Charles cancer treatment

Britain’s Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, attend a ceremonial welcome for the President and the First Lady of the Republic of Korea at Horse Guards Parade in London, England on Nov. 21, 2023. (AP/File)
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Updated 07 February 2024
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William fills royal void during King Charles cancer treatment

  • The king’s shock cancer diagnosis, announced on Monday, and Catherine’s abdominal operation have left William, 41, shouldering a heavy royal burden
  • “We have agreed with the palace in this specific instance to confirm that they will be speaking on the phone later,” Sunak’s spokesman said

LONDON: With his father King Charles III undergoing cancer treatment and his wife recovering from surgery, Britain’s Prince William found himself thrust back to the frontline of royal duties on Wednesday.
The king’s shock cancer diagnosis, announced on Monday, and Catherine’s abdominal operation have left William, 41, shouldering a heavy royal burden.
Charles’s eldest son and heir to the throne, William postponed public engagements to care for his wife, the Princess of Wales, and their three children after she was admitted to hospital on January 16.
But on Wednesday he was back on duty, hosted an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London, handing out honors for citizens recognized for their community work and other good deeds.
It had been three week since he last appeared at a major royal event.
Later, he will attend a London Air Ambulance fundraising gala.
Charles, who left London on Tuesday for his Sandringham residence in eastern England, will meanwhile hold his weekly meeting with Prime Minister Sunak by telephone for a change.
“We have agreed with the palace in this specific instance to confirm that they will be speaking on the phone later,” Sunak’s spokesman said.
Sunak made a brief reference to the king’s cancer diagnosis in parliament.
“I know the thoughts of the house and the country are with the king, and his family,” he told the House of Commons.
“We wish his majesty a speedy recovery and look forward to him resuming his public-facing duties in due course,” he added.
William is also expected to take on some of his father’s duties while he undergoes treatment, alongside Charles’s sister Princess Anne and his wife Queen Camilla.
Buckingham Palace has not specified the type of cancer the 75-year-old monarch has, although it is understood not to be prostate cancer and Sunak has said it was “caught early.”
The diagnosis comes just 17 months into Charles’s reign following the death of his 96-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8, 2022.
Adding to the drama, the king’s estranged son Prince Harry flew back from his US home on Tuesday.
The pair had a 45-minute meeting at Charles’s Clarence House residence in London before the king left for Sandringham.
Harry’s return has sparked speculation it could serve as a catalyst to heal family tensions that have blighted Charles’s reign.
Harry and his brother William have reportedly not spoken in months because of bad feeling caused by Harry’s public criticism of his family.
Harry quit royal duties in 2020 and relocated to California where he now lives with his American wife Meghan and their two young children.
Harry has repeatedly aired his complaints about the way he feels he and his wife were mistreated during their time as working royals, culminating in January 2023 with his autobiography “Spare.”
The Press Association news agency reported that there were no plans for the brothers to meet while Harry was in the UK.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams described the rift between William and Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, and the rest of the royal family as “very deep.”
Reports said he had stayed at a luxury London hotel overnight following Charles’s decision to block him from using his former home on the Windsor estate.
It was not known how long Harry was due to stay in the country.
Citizens expressed sympathy for William, who they noted now faced the double burden of maintaining his family life with extra official duties.
“He’s got a hard job because his wife is poorly at the moment, so that’s an added pressure on poor William, but I’m sure that he will cope,” pensioner Sue Hazell told AFP outside Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
His wife Kate is expected to be out of action until at least March 31, her office has said.
Officials have not given details of her surgery except to say it was not linked to cancer.
Canadian tourist Sarah Paterson, a 44-year-old entrepreneur, said that William must be “beside himself” given the recent deaths of his grandfather and his grandmother, along with the health problems faced by his father and his wife.
But she was “1,000 percent” confident that William would be a good stand-in, adding: “I think he’ll probably be king sooner than he hoped.”


Germany arrests three on suspicion of spying on Ukrainian national

Updated 58 min 37 sec ago
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Germany arrests three on suspicion of spying on Ukrainian national

  • Prosecutors said they scouted out a cafe in Frankfurt where the target person was supposed to be

BERLIN: German prosecutors have arrested three people suspected of working for an unnamed foreign secret service, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said on Friday.
Ukrainian national Robert A., Armenian national Vardges I., and Russian national Arman S. were said to be traveling to Germany on behalf of a foreign secret service to collect information on a Ukrainian who was staying there.
On June 19, they scouted out a cafe in Frankfurt where the target person was supposed to be, the prosecutors’ statement said.


Court blocks Modi opponent Kejriwal’s release from prison

Updated 21 June 2024
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Court blocks Modi opponent Kejriwal’s release from prison

  • He was released from detention to campaign partway through India’s weeks-long general election but returned to jail after voting ended this month

NEW DELHI: An Indian court stopped on Friday the release from jail of one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chief opponents, a day after he was granted bail in a long-running corruption case, reports said.
Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and the leader of the opposition Aam Aadmi party, denies the charges as a “political conspiracy” by Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
He was released from detention to campaign partway through India’s weeks-long general election but returned to jail after voting ended this month.
A trial court ordered his release late Thursday, but before he could walk out of jail on Friday the country’s top economic crimes investigative agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), appealed to the Delhi High Court.
It suspended his release until it could decide on the appeal, local media reported.
The decision could come in “two-three days,” legal news portal Live Law posted on social media platform X.
Kejriwal is one of several opposition leaders in India under criminal investigation over various corruption-related probes, which Modi’s opponents say are being used by the premier to weaken any potential challengers.
The 55-year-old has been chief minister of Delhi, the region which includes the capital New Delhi, for nearly a decade.
He first came to prominence as an anti-corruption crusader, but his government was itself accused of graft when it liberalized liquor sales in 2021.
His party is a key member of the opposition INDIA bloc, led by the main opposition Congress party, which defied polls and expectations to deprive Modi’s BJP of its overall parliamentary majority in the election.


Hijabi heavy metal trio to make Indonesia’s debut at Glastonbury

Updated 48 min 21 sec ago
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Hijabi heavy metal trio to make Indonesia’s debut at Glastonbury

  • Voice of Baceprot will play Glastonbury’s Woodsies stage on June 28
  • Hijabi trio has toured Europe, US, and was named to Forbes Asia’s 30-Under-30 list

JAKARTA: Hijabi heavy metal band Voice of Baceprot is set to become the first Indonesian act to perform at the UK’s iconic Glastonbury Festival next week, marking another milestone in the all-female trio’s trailblazing career.

More than a decade after first emerging, Voice of Baceprot was named in Forbes Asia’s 30-Under-30 list just last month. The group has toured Europe and the US, and released its debut album last year.

With lyrics that address issues from gender inequality to climate change, members of the group from Garut, West Java said on Friday that they hope to help improve the world for future generations through their music.

“We care about what’s happening around us, that’s why we make a lot of songs about what we ourselves experience, see, and hear. We only want the world that we live in to become a better place for the generations after us,” Firda “Marsya” Kurnia, who is the lead singer and guitarist, told reporters.

“We certainly feel excited and proud, especially after finding out that we are going to be the first Indonesian musicians to perform in Glastonbury. It will also be our first performance in the UK.”

Voice of Baceprot will play the Woodsies stage at Glastonbury on June 28, sharing the glory of performing at the legendary music festival alongside artists such as Coldplay, Dua Lipa and Cyndi Lauper.

“We will try to use this opportunity to also uplift Indonesian culture through music, including using tonal elements from Sundanese music,” Marsya said, referring to their ethnic origins.

Voice of Baceprot sings a mix of English, Indonesian and Sundanese — their native tongue. The word “baceprot” is Sundanese for “annoyingly noisy.”

Marsya met the other band members — drummer Euis Siti Aisyah and bassist Widi Rahmawati — at an Islamic boarding school and established the group in 2014.

Now in their early 20s, they have been overcoming prejudice and shattering stereotypes about Muslims and Islam.

“We try to introduce the other side that is closer to the truth,” Marsya said.
The band has already gained praise from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and was met with great interest during its 2021 and 2022 Europe tours.

“It was beyond expectation. Every time we have an international tour, I am afraid that no one will show up ... because we’re not that big yet,” Siti said.

“But after a few times performing there, we’ve seen how enthusiastic the audience was. Some would even wait for our performance.”

The trio’s accomplishments have also been noticed by the Indonesian government, which is supporting the group’s upcoming UK trip.

“This is a form of soft diplomacy,” Desra Percaya, Indonesia’s ambassador to the UK, told reports.

“Voice of Baceprot is truly taking up the role of Indonesia’s ambassadors and, of course, they are on a mission to make Indonesia proud.”

 


Medical brain drain worsens in Sri Lanka as 25% of doctors ready to migrate

Updated 48 min 13 sec ago
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Medical brain drain worsens in Sri Lanka as 25% of doctors ready to migrate

  • More than 1,800 medical doctors left Sri Lanka in 2022 and 2023
  • Their salaries in the UK and Australia are often 30 times higher

COLOMBO: The biggest trade union of government doctors in Sri Lanka warned on Friday about a wave of economic crisis-driven brain drain among medical professionals, as 25 percent of them have already taken the necessary exams to find employment abroad.

Before the worst economic crisis pummeled Sri Lanka in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, on average 200 doctors would migrate to work in another country, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

The number has surged since early 2022, when the country defaulted on its foreign debt. Sri Lankans started experiencing power cuts and shortages of basics such as fuel, food and medicine, and the inflation rate rose to 50 percent a year.

“If we consider the situation within the last two years, more than 1,800 doctors have left the country in 2022 and 2023,” Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe, spokesperson of the Government Medical Officers Association, told Arab News.

Many more are likely to follow in their footsteps as GMOA data shows that at least 25 percent of doctors currently serving in the government health system have already passed the necessary exams to find employment abroad.

To practice medicine in the UAE or Oman, doctors need to take the Prometric Exam for GP Doctor. To work in the UK, they are required to complete the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board’s exams, while in Australia they have to follow the examination of the Australian Medical Council.

“Considering only those three … recent statistics show that nearly 5,000 Sri Lankan doctors have completed these exams and they’re waiting to take their decision of leaving the country,” Wijesinghe said.

“In government health institutions of Sri Lanka … there are around 20,000 doctors.”

He warned that an increasing number of those leaving were specialists, mainly in emergency medicine and anesthesia, followed by pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists and cardiac surgeons.

Some of the world’s most rigorously trained, Sri Lankan doctors are required by their country’s health system to obtain both local and international training before they practice as consultants. At the same time, and compared with the years of experience, they are among the most underpaid, earning between $170 and $720 per month.

In the past two years, those who had left for compulsory training in countries such as the UK, Australia or the US, are not willing to return.

“The high salaries they are being paid in those countries, compared to Sri Lanka, is the main reason. If you consider Middle East countries, it is nearly tenfold of the salary they are getting in Sri Lanka. In the UK and Australia, around 20 to 30-fold,” Wijesinghe said, adding that they are attracted by better working environments, better living standards, and education opportunities for their children.

“Majority of the Sri Lankan doctors migrate to Australia and the United Kingdom … They are migrating with their family members as well.”

He estimated that nearly 400 specialists have left in the past two years, which was becoming a “huge problem” for the Sri Lankan health sector.

“It has affected from the biggest hospital in Sri Lanka, the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, which is situated in Colombo, to the rural hospital system … Patients have to travel hundreds of kilometers sometimes to get their surgeries done,” he said.

“The brain drain of professionals and intellectuals from this country has affected many sectors, but it’s a well-known fact that health is the most affected sector.”

The GMOA has proposed to the Sri Lankan government ways to mitigate the brain drain of doctors, but as the solutions involve financial incentives and restructuring of the salary system, the Ministry of Health does not expect it to happen immediately.

“Increasing the salary is really difficult at this time since the country is just recovering from the economic crisis,” Dr. Asela Gunawardena, the ministry’s director-general of health services, told Arab News.

“However, we will do our best to attend to their needs to attract them to come back to their country and work for the nation.”

He was also hopeful that a sense of duty would help bring them home as well.

“Sri Lanka is the country which gave them free education from the kindergarten to university,” he said. “They have an obligation to help the country when in trouble.”


Kyiv says suspects of Kazakh activist shooting fled Ukraine

Updated 21 June 2024
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Kyiv says suspects of Kazakh activist shooting fled Ukraine

  • Police said this week that a prominent Kazakh anti-government activist, Aydos Sadykov, had been shot and seriously wounded outside his home
  • “The suspects left the territory of Ukraine on the day of the attempted murder, crossing the border of Ukraine and Moldova,” the statement said

KYIV: Ukraine said Friday it had identified two suspects in the attempted murder of a Kazakh opposition figure in Kyiv and that the perpetrators had escaped to neighboring Moldova.
Police in Ukraine’s capital said this week that a prominent Kazakh anti-government activist, Aydos Sadykov, had been shot and seriously wounded outside his home.
The outspoken critic of Kazakhstan’s leadership has a large following on social media and was granted asylum in Ukraine in 2014.
“Two men carefully planned the murder of a journalist,” the office of the prosecutor general in Ukraine said in a statement, adding the suspects were both Kazakh citizens.
It said they had entered the country on June 2 from Poland and carried out surveillance on Sadykov before attempting to assassinate him on Tuesday.
“The suspects left the territory of Ukraine on the day of the attempted murder, crossing the border of Ukraine and Moldova,” the statement said, adding that both suspects are on an international wanted list.
The activist’s wife Natalia Sadykova said Friday that Sadykov remained in serious condition in hospital, and blamed Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for orchestrating the attack.
“I was not mistaken, neither when I accused Tokayev of the assassination attempt or when I said that the shooter was a professional,” Sadykova said.
Tokayev has instructed Kazakh law enforcement agencies to cooperate with Ukraine to locate the suspects, his spokesperson said, according to Russian news agencies.
“Astana is ready to cooperate with Ukraine, including through Interpol,” the spokesperson was cited as saying.
Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into the shooting.
“The news of the attack on Sadykov during broad daylight in the Kyiv city center is deeply disturbing,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.