1. New Zealand stays silent to mourn Christchurch massacre victims
  2. Malaysians to show solidarity for Christchurch victims in Peace and Solidarity Rally
  3. Malaysians are less happy than a year ago
  4. U.S. imposes first new North Korea sanctions since failed summit
  5. MIDF expects Malaysia’s economic growth at 4.9pc this year
  6. China’s investment of $119 billion in railways will boost tourism

New Zealand stays silent to mourn Christchurch massacre victims
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined a national silence in mourning the Christchurch massacre victims this afternoon. “New Zealand mourns with you, we are one,” said Ardern. One week after the Christchurch terrorist attacks, New Zealanders across the country stood together in two minutes’ silence to remember those who had been killed while worshipping at two mosques last Friday afternoon. Fifty people died in the terrorist attacks. An accused gunman has been remanded in custody. On Friday, events and vigils will be held around the country. In Auckland, over 17,000 people are expected to attend the vigil for lives taken in Christchurch at 6 pm Friday afternoon. The funerals of the 50 victims are expected to continue and a national memorial service will take place next week.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians are set to participate in the Peace and Solidarity Rally planned for tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof said a permit has been obtained for the rally. Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid said the rally is to demonstrate Malaysians’ solidarity with victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch and rejection of extremist ideologies. The rally will culminate at Dataran Merdeka, where speeches advocating for peace will be held, before a declaration is made expressing Malaysia’s strong opposition to all forms of hatred and violence.

Malaysia suffers massive drop in happiness ranking
Malaysia is ranked the 80th happiest nation in the 2019 World Happiness Report, a massive drop of 45 places compared with 2018 when it was ranked 35th. This latest report of 156 countries covers the period from 2016-2018, while the 2018 report covered 2015-2017. In South-East Asia, Malaysia is ranked fourth behind Singapore (34th), Thailand (52nd) and the Philippines (69th). In the previous report, Malaysia was ranked second happiest in the region. The top spots for the happiest countries in the world went to the Nordic nations, with Finland being the happiest followed by Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The unhappiest country is South Sudan, with Tanzania, Afghanistan and Central African Republic just above them. The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. This year’s report focused on happiness and the community: how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with a focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes. The report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in partnership with the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

U.S. imposes first new North Korea sanctions since failed summit
The United States has imposed sanctions on two Chinese shipping companies it says helped North Korea evade sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, the first such steps since a U.S.-North Korean summit collapsed last month. The U.S. Treasury Department also issued an updated advisory that listed 67 vessels that it said had engaged in illicit transfers of refined petroleum with North Korean tankers or were believed to have exported North Korean coal. The department identified the newly sanctioned firms as Dalian Haibo International Freight Co Ltd and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co Ltd, which it said had helped North Korea evade U.S. and international sanctions. The move prohibits U.S. dealings with the designated companies and freezes any assets they have in the United States. Washington announced the measures three weeks after a second meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down over conflicting demands by North Korea for relief from sanctions and from the U.S. side for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

MIDF expects Malaysia’s economic growth at 4.9pc this year
Malaysia’s economy is expected to expand 4.9 per cent this year due to the upbeat performance of domestic and external trade sectors, said MIDF Research. In a report titled Malaysia Equity Research second quarter 2019 outlook, it also said, gradual pick up in global commodity prices would lend another boosting factor to the economic growth this year. “…, supportive economic policies, stable labour market, continued wage growth and tame inflation will support and spur the domestic economy,” said the research house. The country’s economy grew by 4.8 per cent last year. It said clarity in domestic policy direction observed through mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan and Budget 2019 would lend support to both domestic and external sector. “The new economic direction which focuses on free market and investor-friendly will have significant impacts on overall business confidence and investment flows,” it said adding that, the growth of the Malaysian economy in 2019 would be influenced by various internal and external factors. On the business expectation for the next six month, it is expected to enjoy steady pick up especially for agriculture, manufacturing and services sector. MIDF Research also forecasted that Bank Negara Malaysia would maintain the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 3.25 per cent this year on anticipation of less pressure from both domestic and external fronts.

China’s investment of $119 billion in railways will boost tourism
Lu Dongfu, the Communist Party of China (CPC) chief for China Railway Corporation (CRC) said that the government will invest US$ 119 billion for railway expansion. The total expansion plan for 2019 is 6800 km. About 3200 km will be high-speed tracks for trains that can ply over 300 km per hour. By the end of 2017, China had built and put into service 127,000 km of railway, up 150 percent from 1978 when the country started its reform and opening-up.  The benefits of the high-speed railway are reaching the people. Some 9.95 billion trips were made by the end of last month with an annual increase over 30 per cent. China’s railway investment is expected to yield good result. People’s Daily reported: “Since the first high-speed train at a designed speed of 350km/h put into service in 2008, China has cumulatively constructed 29,000-km of high-speed railway, which occupies more than two-thirds of world’s total mileage, creating a miracle in engineering construction”.