Saudis’ alleged misdeed; Taiwan’s good deed

October 18, 2018

It’s a raging controversy that won’t simply go away. It has the potential to blow up and plunge the world into a deeper crisis that could hurt developing countries like the Philippines. The alleged murder and mutilation of a renowned journalist right inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey is something civilized people certainly find horrific.

Turkish investigators reportedly have evidence that Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who writes opinion columns for The Washington Post about the “increasingly authoritarian behavior” of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, was tortured, killed, and his body dismembered shortly after entering the consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance, Turkey isn’t backing down in its accusations against the Saudis. Turkish media quoting top officials said there was audiotape indicating that the Saudi journalist, a US resident, was tortured before being killed. Other reports, particularly on CNN, cite more gruesome details: the victim’s fingers were cut off immediately after he got inside the consulate, then subjected to prolonged torture, eventually beheaded, with the body parts cut up for disposal.

But Turkish officials have yet to make public the audiotape which many believe could be a shocker that can significantly change how the world sees Saudi Arabia. So far, what has been leaked is video footage showing Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate, but none showing him coming out as his wife waited for hours on the street.

Saudi Arabia could have immediately put an end to the mounting controversy if only a video clip would show the Saudi journalist exiting the consulate premises. Unfortunately for the Saudis, no such video has come out, thereby fueling the widespread belief that a grisly murder indeed happened inside. And signs of a cover-up sprouted when Turkish investigators who were finally allowed into the consulate encountered freshly painted walls, amid reports that cleaning crews were at work inside before probers were let in.

US President Donald Trump has tried to help deflect blame from the crown prince by insinuating the horrible deed might have been the handiwork of rogue Saudi officers or that it was the result of an interrogation gone wrong. But many Republican leaders would have none of it, insisting that the US must exert pressure to get the truth.

Trump earlier threatened “severe punishment” against Saudi Arabia if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. But Saudi Arabia has warned against threats as European leaders put on pressure on the Kingdom to come clean, amid reports that some foreign investors were backing out of a Saudi investment conference.

“The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations,” the official Saudi Press Agency said. “The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy,” it added.

And that’s where the situation might escalate. Analysts say that any retaliation by Saudi Arabia might lead to higher oil prices, even as much as $200 a barrel, that would certainly inflict tremendous economic hardships to poor countries like the Philippines which is heavily dependent on oil imports.



To help the government and people of the Philippines recover from Typhoon Ompong’s damage, Ambassador Michael Peiyung Hsu, Representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECO), on behalf of the ROC (Taiwan) Government and its people, donated two hundred fifty thousand US dollars or about P13.5 million as Humanitarian Relief Fund to the bereaved families and victims in Northern Luzon.

The donation ceremony was held during the Republic of China (Taiwan) National Day reception at the Sofitel Hotel on October 9. A TECO official, Peter C.Y. Pan, said Taiwan’s act of benevolence fully demonstrates the genuine friendship and solidarity between the peoples of Taiwan and the Philippines.