Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur asks board to decide future

“When the team does really well, all the credit goes to the management and when we are not doing well, all the blame comes to the captain.

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I can take it,” Mushfiqur told reporters after South Africa won the second test by an innings and 254 runs on Sunday.

“Obviously all the blame comes to me being the captain. The board will decide about me, since there’s a lot of time before the next test series.

“It is not about what I want. I can’t decide to stay as captain, neither can I leave it. The board has to take the decision and I am sure they will take a good one for the team. Country comes first, not the individual.”

The 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has captained Bangladesh in 34 tests since 2011.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan was another to express surprise at Mushfiqur’s decision to field after winning both tosses, with the skipper saying he had always tried to lead the team from the front.

“Captaincy is always challenging, more so in a team like ours. We are ranked number nine or 10 always, so there’s a lot of pressure playing against top sides,” Mushfiqur added. “The last two tests didn’t go as the last couple of years have gone.

“The blame is coming at me, because I decided to field first in both tests. Maybe I haven’t been leading properly and that’s why the team isn’t doing well.

“This is why I am saying that I should be given opportunity to correct my mistakes.”

Bangladesh are currently ranked ninth but have emerged as a strong force at home, picking up maiden test victories against England and Australia in the last 12 months. Mushfiqur also led the side to a test victory away to Sri Lanka in March.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien)

Kim Jong-Nam murder trial visits lab to view tainted clothes

The visit to the government lab near Kuala Lumpur came after a chemist last week testified there were traces of nerve agent VX on the women’s clothes.

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Raja Subramaniam’s testimony was the first evidence directly linking the women to the poison used to kill Kim Jong-Nam as he waited at a crowded airport near the capital. 

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, in their 20s, are accused of smearing VX on Kim’s face in February in a hit that stunned the world.

The women, who were arrested a few days after the killing and face death by hanging if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-Un as he waited to board a flight to Macau.

The defendants say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show, and their lawyers blame North Korean agents for the assassination.

On Monday the judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers headed to the laboratory along with Raja.

A member of Aisyah’s legal team put on a lab coat, mask and gloves and entered a room to examine clothes, nail clippings and blood samples, said Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng.

“The whole process was to identify the exhibits,” Gooi said.

But he added that a blazer said in court to have been worn by Kim Jong-Nam and to be contaminated with VX was not shown to them.

The trial was supposed to move back to Shah Alam High Court, near the capital, and resume in the afternoon. But it was postponed until Tuesday after Raja, who was due to be questioned by the defence, complained of feeling tired.

The murder sparked a fierce row between Malaysia and North Korea, which is suspected of ordering the hit. Pyongyang denies the allegation. 

Learn-to-drive program helping refugees adapt to life in Australia

Babel Youkhana escaped her war-torn hometown of Al- Hasakah in Syria with her mother and brother in fear of terrorist group IS.

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The 24-year-old student, who one day hopes to get into the beauty industry, fled to Lebanon before settling in Australia eight months ago.

Ms Youkhana didn’t drive in her home country, her first experience behind the wheel was here in Australia.

“When I drive for the first time I thought I have to go to the right side, because in Syria we have to drive in the right side,” she says.

The Syrian native now lives in Fairfield in Western Sydney, and is learning about Australian roads through the DriveTime program.

“I feel comfortable and I feel good when I drive … the road rules are very comfortable and it’s to protect ourselves,” she told SBS World News.

Babel Youkhana is learning to drive and loving it.SBS World News

Driving their way to independence 

DriveTime is funded by the NRMA, the program provides participants with driving lessons, cars, instructors, driving tests and education support.

NRMA covers all the costs, allowing participants to focus solely on resettling in Australia.

“If you’re coming to Australia, moving can be a great challenge. Trying to do it without a licence can be that much harder,” Peter Colacino, NRMA spokesperson says.

The program ran a six month trial in Fairfield and Wollongong – two areas with a high population of refugee settlers.

“I think having a licence and having access to a car, helps people have access to a job and access to an education. And from there you’re able to build independence and with independence comes the ability to be able to participate in the community,” Mr Colacino said.

The program had a great success in the pilot phase with 26 Fairfield participants graduating by passing their final assessments.

One of the graduates was Payam Gouya, who desperately needed to get his licence for medical reasons.

After a number of failed attempts to get his driver’s licence, Payam Gouya turned to the DriveTime program for help.SBS World News

Attention to detail

Mr Gouya has been living in Australia for the last year-and-a-half with his wife and son. The Iranian refugee previously lived in Malaysia for nine years.  

“I have a driving licence in Iran, I have driving licence in Malaysia. When I arrived in this country without car it’s a very big problem for me,” Mr Gouya told SBS World News.

The former filmmaker says he tried to get his Australian licence three times but failed every time.

“Two or three days after I arrived in this country, I research about how can I take the licence driving in Australia,” he says.

After his failed attempts, Mr Gouya turned to the DriveTime program for help. He met with a driving instructor who taught him about the finer details he was failing to pass in his tests.

“I don’t have problem with the driving, I have the problem with the details in this country,” he says.

Mr Gouya says once he got his driver’s licence his life became more “simple”.

“After that [the test] everything settle for me, I can drive to the doctor, I can drive to the grocery, I can drive for my son’s school.”

NRMA hopes the extended two years of DriveTime will help reach more than 400 refugees.

NRMA covers all the costs for refugees taking their Drive Time program.SBS World News

For more information please check out the NRMA website. 

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Don’t be silenced, top diplomat tells Australian unis amid China concerns

The nation’s most senior diplomat has urged Chinese students to “respectfully engage” in contestable debate while urging Australian universities not to succumb to being silenced.

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Department of Foreign Affairs boss Frances Adamson’s intervention follows reports of Australian universities being pressured into changing practices amid criticism from Chinese students.

In one example, the Chinese consulate in Melbourne referred student complaints to Monash University over an online exam in which a question was deemed offensive.

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The university lecturer of the subject was suspended and a textbook retracted.

Ms Adamson in a speech to the Confucius Institute – a Chinese government funded institute – said there had been attempts “at untoward influence and interference”.

She told international students that Australian universities were places of free debate.

“No doubt there will be times when you encounter things which – to you – are unusual, unsettling, or perhaps seem plain wrong,” Ms Adamson said.

“And can I tell you, as someone who has studied overseas in three different continents, if you aren’t encountering strange and challenging things you aren’t getting out enough.

“So when you do, let me encourage you not to silently withdraw, or blindly condemn, but to respectfully engage.”

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She said the silencing of anyone – whether students, lecturers or politicians – was an affront to Australian values.

“Respectful and patient discourse with those with whom you disagree is a fundamental skill for our ever-more-connected contemporary world,” Ms Adamson said.

Ms Adamson said Australians were vocal about their thoughts while in China it’s understood that friends didn’t say things that offend.

“Australians should, and I am sure will, be authentic and true to our own selves, while respecting the practice of others,” she said.

“As well, governments themselves must expect, and invite, scrutiny of their actions and their policy positions.”

Government influence on students

In a recent paper, think-tank China Matters warned that academic freedom at Australian universities was at risk by Chinese international students aggrieved by perceived slights to their homeland. 

The institute also cautioned over Chinese government efforts to influence academic discourse.

Students, it said, were being pressured by government officials and Chinese student group to “stifle classroom debate” on sensitive topics like human rights, freedom of religion, internet freedom, sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, and Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang independence.

“Academic research, investigative journalism, and first-hand accounts all affirm that PRC students are actively discouraged by their government from speaking critically about the PRC and especially about the Communist Party of China,” the institute said in its recent paper.

The institute has urged the Australian government to speak up about “attempts to stifle academic freedom”.