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Philippines sends navy ship to disputed waters

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines said Friday it would send its
ageing navy flagship into disputed South China Sea waters amid rising
tensions with Beijing over their competing claims.
However defence department spokesman Eduardo Batac insisted the
deployment was a routine assignment and had nothing to do with an
announcement by China on Thursday that one of its maritime patrol
vessels would pass through the area.
“I don’t think these are connected,” Batac told reporters.
“The navy conducts regular offshore patrols and we should not connect
the deployment of Rajah Humabon to the deployment of this maritime
vessel of China.”
Batac said he was unaware if the Chinese vessel had reached waters claimed by both countries.
He also did not say when the Philippine vessel would be dispatched or exactly where it would go.
The Rajah Humabon, a former US Navy frigate that served during World
War II, is one of the world’s oldest warships. It began service in the
cash-strapped Philippine Navy in 1980.
Meanwhile, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario
met with envoys of ASEAN member nations on Friday, calling on them to
“take a common position” on the matter.
In the meeting with ambassadors of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, del Rosario said there should be “common approaches in
addressing worrisome developments” in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has competing claims with China, Taiwan, Vietnam,
Malaysia and Brunei over potentially resource-rich areas in the South
China Sea.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are also members of
ASEAN along with Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and
Thailand.
Tensions in the long-running dispute over the area have flared in
recent months amid allegations by the Philippines and Vietnam that China
has become increasingly aggressive in staking its territorial claims.
The Philippines accused China this month of sending naval vessels to
intimidate rival claimants around the Spratly Islands in the South China
Sea.
The Philippines also accused China of installing posts and a buoy in
nearby areas, opening fire on Filipino fishermen and intimidating a
Philippine oil exploration ship with a patrol vessel.
China has maintained throughout the flare-up that its has sole
sovereignty over the waters, but that it intends to resolve the dispute
peacefully.
Nevertheless, Chinese state media reported on Friday that China had
recently staged three days of military exercises in the South China Sea
and plans to boost its offshore maritime patrol force.
Del Rosario said the recent incidents showed the need for
“collaboration and solidarity (on)… a recurring and an exacerbating
problem.”
Reuters
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Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

Myanmar border clashes spark fears of wider conflict

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING (Reuters) – Myanmar troops clashed
with ethnic Kachin militias on Wednesday for a seventh day near two
Chinese-built hydroelectric dams, Kachin sources said, raising fears
that fighting could spread to other areas on the heavily militarised
border.
Light infantry units of Myanmar’s “Tatmadaw” army fought with guerrillas of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) who had cut some road and communication links to try to keep troops at bay.
“It’s tense. There were explosions and gunfights and the KIA has destroyed two bridges and cut telephone cables,” said Lahpai Naw Din, head of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, “We have no idea about casualties,” he said, citing information from sources on the ground.
The fighting, which began last Thursday, has killed at
least four people and forced about 2,000 people to flee towards the
Myanmar-China border, the U.S. Campaign for Burma has said.
Some experts warned it could destabilise the mosaic of
ethnic enclaves and alliances across a region vital for China’s growing
energy needs. As well as the dams, China is building oil and gas
pipelines that will span its Southeast Asian neighbour.
“The outbreak of fighting has meant that the armed groups
and alliances that they formed may trigger the next level of fighting,”
said Emma Leslie, director the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, a
Cambodia-based group that has closely followed the conflict.
Ethnic militias in northern Kachin and Shan States, like the powerful United Wa State Army, the KIA
and the Shan State Army, have fought for decades against successive
military regimes that have run the former British colony since 1962.
Cease-fire arrangements have previously been made
allowing a degree of self-rule, but those deals were torn up last year
when the bigger armies refused a government order to disarm and form
political parties to run in a November 7 general election.
Repeated efforts by the SSA, UWSA and KIA
to negotiate with the government have failed and their fighters have
long been preparing for an all-out offensive by the Tatmadaw.
MATERIAL INTERESTS’
Most analysts say Myanmar’s 10-week-old government is not
ready to go to war with the militias but is under pressure to secure
the dams and pipeline construction sites to appease China, its biggest
political and economic ally.
Some suggest the KIA, which was
shut out of lucrative energy deal between the two countries, might have
escalated tensions to force the government to negotiate and offer some
financial incentives, such as protection money.
“This is mainly about material interests,” said Lin
Xixing an expert on Myanmar expert at Guangzhou’s Jinan University. “The
Kachin also want a piece of the action.”
Lin said it was likely China would use its diplomatic clout with both the rebels and the Myanmar government.
“There is often friction in the area. But I don’t think
this will become too intense,” said Lin. “The Chinese government has
good contacts with both sides and will ask them to maintain the security
of the frontier lands.”
Neither Myanmar’s government nor its media mouthpieces
have commented on the fighting but sources in the region said it centred
on control of the dams.
“We don’t think the government wants to launch a major offensive against the KIA,” an official from a mining company based in Myitkyina, the Kachin capital, told Reuters.
“So far as we heard they just wanted to drive the KIA away from the Tapain hydropower project.”
That will, nonetheless, be a worry for Beijing.
In August 2009, an offensive by government troops against
a Shan State militia group sent 37,000 refugees fleeing briefly into
China. If the latest conflict with the bigger Kachin group grows, the
exodus from Myanmar could be greater.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month told new Myanmar
President Thein Sein that China wanted “smooth progress” on the oil and
gas pipelines projects and President Hu Jintao pressed his counterpart
to ensure stability at the border.
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

It’s official: Filipino is named world’s shortest man

June 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Junrey Balawing poses after a series of measurements at Sindangan Health Center, Sindangan township, Zamboanga Del Norte province, in the southern Philippines on Saturday. Bullit Marquez  /  AP
Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal who is 26.4 inches who is previous record holder.
A Guinness World Records representative has declared the son of a poor Filipino locksmith who measured 23.5 inches tall as the world’s shortest man.

Guinness official Craig Glenday says Junrey Balawing, who turned 18 on Sunday, broke the record of Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal, who is 26.4 inches tall.


The announcement drew a loud applause from Balawing’s parents and townmates in Zamboanga del Norte’s remote Sindangan township in the southern Philippines, who showered the new celebrity with a feast, a cake, balloons and cash gifts.

Balawing thanked the crowd and posed for pictures.
Lolit Homay, municipal health officer in Zamboanga del Norte province’s Sindangan township, said Balawing was measured on Saturday at about 24 inches from head to foot lying down and slightly above 23 inches standing up.
Associated Press

Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

China mulls compensation for Tiananmen dead: group

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Chinese police have for the first time raised the possibility of compensation for those killed in the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, families of victims said Tuesday.
PLA tanks and soldiers guard the Chang’an Avenue which leads to Tiananmen Square in Beijing two days after their crackdown on pro-democracy students. Chinese police have for the first time raised the possibility of compensation for those killed in the crushing of the pro-democracy protests, families of victims said Tuesday.
Police have met twice with relatives of one victim beginning in February, the Tiananmen Mothers said, in a possible sign that the Communist government is changing its view on the brutal June 4 crackdown in the heart of Beijing.

“They only raised the question of how much to pay, emphasising that this was meant for that individual case and not for the families in the group as a whole,” the group said in an annual open letter to mark the June 4 anniversary.
The letter said, however, that police did not discuss a formal apology for the killings or a public account of who ordered the shootings — two of the group’s longstanding demands.
“The Tiananmen Mothers have repeatedly appealed to the government over the past 16 years for dialogue, yet government authorities have ignored us,” said the letter, posted on the group’s website.
“This year, the silence was finally broken.”
The letter was signed by 127 members of the group, which is made up of relatives of those killed in the crackdown. It gave no further details on the compensation discussions.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are believed to have died when the government sent in tanks and soldiers to clear the square on the night of June 3-4, 1989, violently crushing six weeks of pro-democracy protests.
An official verdict after the protests called them a “counter-revolutionary rebellion”.
The wording has been softened since then but the crackdown remains a taboo subject, with any mention of it censored. Those who persist in raising the issue have been jailed or otherwise harassed.
The letter acknowledged that the motives behind the government’s apparent overture were unclear.
It noted that the approach came amid what the group called the harshest crackdown on dissent since 1989, carried out this year as Beijing has moved to prevent unrest similar to that which has swept the Arab world.
Contacted by AFP, the Beijing Public Security Bureau refused to comment on the letter or the reported compensation discussions.
The Tiananmen Mothers have documented the killing of 203 people during the crackdown, all of whom were peaceful demonstrators or citizens, the letter said.
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

"Don’t Worry Admin! Your Files and Database Are Safe!!! I Just Wanna Tell You that Your Security Sucks!!!"

May 23, 2011 Leave a comment
Democrat Website Hacked
A website of the Democrat Party, set up to attract young people, was hacked on Sunday night.
Reports said an anonymous hacker broke into “www.youngdemocrat.org”
while Prime Minister and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was using
social media for his party’s election campaign.

The hacker
replaced the homepage with a black background with the message: “Don’t
Worry Admin! Your Files and Database Are Safe!!! I Just Wanna Tell You
that Your Security Sucks!!!”

The black background and the message were removed on Monday morning, but the website was still down.

Bangkokpost
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

At least 10 dead in Malaysia orphanage landslide

May 22, 2011 Leave a comment
KUALA LUMPUR — A landslide caused by heavy rains hit an orphanage in
Malaysia on Saturday, killing at least eight children and two
caretakers, the official Bernama news agency said.
Emergency teams work at the site of a landslide that hit an orphanage in Hulu Langat (AFP)
Six more
children were missing, buried under the mud and rubble, while nine
survivors, most of them children, had been rescued and taken to
hospital, Bernama said.
The victims included two brothers aged eight and 14 whose parents worked at the orphanage, it reported.
The
incident took place at around 2:30 pm (0630 GMT) at the Children’s
Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa orphanage in Hulu Langat, just south of the
capital Kuala Lumpur
“I shouted to others to run and in a split
second the earth came tumbling down, burying many of my friends,”
Bernama quoted a 14-year-old who escaped the landslide, Mohammed Iman
Abdullah, as saying.
A local resident who was among the first at
the scene said he initially heard calls for help from within the rubble,
but half an hour later they fell silent, the agency reported.
There were 49 residents at the orphanage, 44 boys and five caretakers.
Che
Rosli Che Mat, an opposition lawmaker with the conservative Islamic
party (PAS) expressed shock over the deaths and said efforts to rescue
the victims had been hampered by heavy rain.
Two diggers backed by powerful spotlights were being used, he said, as rescuers frantically dug for survivors with spades.
“But
the heavy rain is washing down more red earth. I fear they will
probably find more bodies,” he said. “I fear for the safety of the
rescuers.”
Che Rosli said the orphanage was located on a hillside
in his constituency, and it had been raining heavily in the semi-rural
area for the past two days.
The disaster struck while the children
were practising traditional Malay “kompang” drums under a tent near a
steep slope, he said.
“The landslide happened very fast. Only a
few children managed to escape. I am surprised an orphanage has been
built on a side of hill,” he said.
Minister of Women, Family and
Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil offered her sympathies. “I
was just informed by the incident of children being buried in a
landslide. It is a sad news,” she said.
Sharizat said she would
work with the police to establish the cause of the event, adding: “I
hope the children’s home was not built without the approval of local
authorities.”
Landslides are regular natural disasters in Malaysia
and the government has imposed strict rules with regards to hillside
development.
In one of the country’s worst landslips, a huge
mudslide brought on by heavy rain triggered the collapse of a 12-storey
residential building on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in December 1993,
killing 48 people.
Source: AFP
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News

Thaksin rejects revenge…. Supporters will have to forgive injustices

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment
BRUNEI: Pheu Thai Party’s supporters will have to forgive their enemies
if the party returns to power at the election, says its de facto head,
Thaksin Shinawatra.
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra speaks in Dubai during an interview with Post Today.
Challenging impressions of himself as a decisive leader who might
like to seek revenge for the 2006 coup which unseated him, Thaksin said
forgiveness will be difficult, but necessary if the country is to move
on from the political ructions of the past.
Thaksin said the party’s supporters, backed by the red shirt
movement, will have to forgive and forget. The Abhisit government and
the administration which supports it should have no reason to fear.
“Pheu Thai Party, and in particular our red shirt supporters, have suffered the most [from the political unrest].
“If those who have suffered the most can accept things and let things
be, and not think about retribution, then achieving resolution will be
easier,” Thaksin said.
“After the election, after Pheu Thai wins, it has to be clear that there will be no retribution taken.
“Those who have suffered, forgive and forget and look forward together to the future.”
Thaksin, speaking in an exclusive interview with Post Today editors
in Dubai, insisted that he held no grudges nor was bitter over the
travails he has suffered over the past several years.
He expressed confidence that Pheu Thai, formed from supporters of the
disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, would win the election comfortably and
form the next government.
The party still enjoyed strong support across the country, while the
Democrats had put in a “lacklustre” performance over the past two years.
Pheu Thai executives plan to meet today to decide on its list
candidates for the election. They are likely to choose Thaksin’s younger
sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as the first candidate on the list and the
party’s nominee for prime minister.
The prospect of a Pheu Thai victory _ and Thaksin’s return to
Thailand _ raises new uncertainties for the country’s political
stability.
Many of his supporters remain bitter about the September 2006 coup
and the political shadow games that enabled the Democrats and Abhisit
Vejjajiva to take power in December 2008.
But Thaksin, who entered exile in 2008 to escape criminal corruption
charges, insisted that he was committed to work for social harmony and
peace.
“Retribution only breeds more resentment, more enemies. Life will
have no peace. If you know how to let things go, then you can have
peace,” Thaksin said, acknowledging that his decisive leadership style
may lead some to believe that he was a vengeful person.
Those who have suffered from past turmoil, whether it be supporters
of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party or its red shirt supporters, must
let go of the past if reconciliation is to be achieved and Thailand
return to a functional democracy where the rule of law is paramount, he
said.
“If Pheu Thai Party forms the next government, both the party and the
red shirts will have to swallow our pains and extend our hands to all
parties to help bring peace to our country,” Thaksin said.
“It’s painful, but we need to forgive.”
Thaksin, whose second term was interrupted by large street protests
mounted by the “yellow shirts” and then by the September 2006 military
coup, said an “unfinished revolution” remained underway, compromising
the rule of law and justice within the country.
The celebrations this year for His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday,
completing his 7th cycle, should be enough motivation for all parties to
cease fighting and join together as one.
Thaksin brushed off questions about the seizure of 46 billion baht in
personal funds by the Supreme Court in February 2010. “That’s not an
issue. The real issue is justice. If my assets are returned, it can only
come about through the system, not by some arbitrary law,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruled that telecommunications policies enacted
during the Thaksin government benefited Thaksin’s own personal interests
as the founder and major shareholder of telecom giant Shin Corp.
The Shinawatra family sold its holdings in Shin Corp to Singapore’s Temasek Holdings in January 2006 for 73 billion baht.
Thaksin also dismissed questions about his allegiance to the
monarchy, noting that in June 2006 he helped organise festivities
marking His Majesty’s 60th anniversary of accession to the throne.
“Three months later, the military launched the coup and alleged that I was disloyal.
“How can it be that in just three months a loyal subject becomes a
disloyal one, to the extent that a revolution is needed,” he said.
“All this has been slander and innuendo against me, simply for political gain.”
Thaksin said Pheu Thai and the red shirts should be considered separate entities.
Pheu Thai is a political party registered under the constitution,
while the red shirt movement could be broadly classified as supporters
of Thaksin himself and those who see the events of the past several
years as a corruption of justice and democracy. “Both sides share the
same goal, a return of justice and democracy,” Thaksin said.
He said he was ambivalent about a possible return to politics and the premiership.
“If I had to [become prime minister] just for a short time, just to
solve the country’s problems, I could do so. But if you ask if I want
to, I am neutral about it,” he said.
“Someone who has been where I have been, has already passed the stage of ambition.
“If someone told me that it’s not necessary, that others can do the job, I would be very grateful.”
 Bangkok Post
Categories: Asia Pacific, World News