Saturday, August 2, 2014   

Chinese pandas reach Malaysia after delay over MH370
(05-21 13:30)

Malaysia welcomed a pair of pandas from China on Wednesday, after a month's delay caused by tensions over the Malaysian airliner which disappeared in March with mostly Chinese passengers aboard.
The eight-year-old pandas -- female Feng Yi (''Phoenix'') and male Fu Wa (''Lucky'') -- arrived in Kuala Lumpur to an honour guard of water cannon, after a flight from Chengdu in southwestern China where they were bred, AFP reports.
Feng Yi was briefly shown to the media before being whisked off to the national zoo with her prospective mate.
She initially retreated into her cage when exposed to daylight and the clatter of camera shutters, before gaining courage and curiously peering between the bars.
"May the arrival of these two precious icons of China contribute to building an everlasting friendship and sustainable cooperation'' between Malaysia and China, environment minister Palanivel Govindasamy said at a welcoming ceremony.
The two countries agreed in 2012 that China would send the giant pandas for a 10-year stay, in Beijing's latest use of "panda diplomacy''.
The pair were due to arrive on April 16 but Palanivel said at the time that before dispatching them, Beijing was awaiting further details on Flight MH370, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people including 153 Chinese on board.
The pandas have already caused controversy in Malaysia over plans to house them in special US$7.7 million facility at the national zoo in Kuala Lumpur.
Environmentalists have said the money would have been better spent on conservation efforts for threatened Malaysian wildlife.
Palanivel said the panda pair would be given time to acclimatise before being shown to the public from the end of June.   
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