Archive for October 2009
Washington – Two senior US officials will travel to Myanmar next week to meet top members of the military junta and detained opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Department said on Friday.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and his deputy, Scot Marciel, plan to visit the military-ruled country on Tuesday and Wednesday.
‘They expect to meet with senior government officials and with members of the opposition including Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of ethnic groups,’ said deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood.
The talks are a follow-up to discussions last month in New York between US and Myanmar officials that marked the highest-level American contact with the regime in nearly a decade.
Kuala Lumpur – A Malay man faces the death sentence after being charged with the murder of his Indonesian maid who was severely beaten and locked in a toilet, officials said on Friday.
36-year-old Mautik Hani from Surabaya died from her injuries in hospital, a week after being rescued. Her employer, 35-year-old market vendor A. Murugan, his wife and mother were arrested but only Murugan was brought to court on Friday to face a murder charge.
‘The investigation showed he had subjected her to a lot of abuse and there were many injuries on her body,’ prosecutor Manoj Kurup told AFP, adding that Murugan faces death by hanging if convicted. ‘We are not charging the wife and the mother,’ he added, but declined to say why or give further details.
Ms Hani was discovered at her employers’ home last week, found by another Indonesian cleaner hired to replace her who noticed a foul smell coming from a locked bathroom.
Police said when she was found, her arms and legs were bound and she had bruises all over her body. Among her injuries was a serious wound to her right leg through which the bone could be seen.
Local papers reported Ms Hani had been abused by her employers almost daily during the two months she worked at their home.
Washington – A US military officer who fled Vietnam as a boy and was picked up by an American ship will soon visit the country in command of a destroyer, the US Navy said on Friday.
Born in the Vietnamese city of Hue, Commander Hung Ba Le and his family were picked up at sea in 1975 by a US naval ship in the closing days of the Vietnam war, the Navy said on its website.
His family settled in Virginia and he later became a US citizen, graduating in 1992 from the US Naval Academy.
He is due to return to Vietnam in November with his ship, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen, on a goodwill visit, the Navy said.
‘This will be an incredible experience for me personally, to return to the land of my birth for the first time since I was a child,’ Commander Le said in the Navy’s report.
Commander Le called the visit ‘a symbol of the friendship between our two nations.’ The first Vietnamese-American to command a US naval ship, Commander Le in April took over the helm of the USS Lassen, which is part of the US 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan.
Puea Thai MP for Nakhon Phanom Phaichitr Srivorakhan said yesterday such information would come in handy if and when the opposition party became the government.
Gen Chavalit, a former prime minister, has said he would play a leading role in efforts to restore peace to the region.
He has reportedly asked Malaysia to help him establish contacts with insurgent groups in the region so talks could be brokered to seek an end to the long-running southern violence.
Media reaction: Nationalist fire counters Chavalit’s move
Gen Chavalit will be accompanied by a team of former military top brass and Puea Thai politicians on his visit to Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat starting from Tuesday.
The main purpose of the visit would be to gather information for use in drafting Puea Thai’s policy once it became the government, Mr Phaichitr said.
Gen Chavalit has been criticised for his visit to Cambodia last week, which is blamed for sparking a fresh round of diplomatic tension between Thailand and Cambodia.
Soon after Gen Chavalit’s visit, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would welcome fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to live in Cambodia and would make him an economic adviser.
Meanwhile, a Narathiwat security force has seized unfinished homemade bombs believed to have been prepared by insurgents of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) group for new attacks.
Five bombs, still being assembled, were found hidden in a box kept under a bed in a deserted rubber sheeting shack, which was one of the four spots searched by the security force yesterday in tambon Tanyong Limo of Rangae district.
A few young men fled into the rubber plantation before the force could reach the shack.
The rubber sheeting shack is owned by a man identified as Je-arong Jaene, who reportedly moved to work in Malaysia about a year ago.
Villagers said they had spotted some men at the shack a month ago.
A military source said the men were RKK insurgents. They had made bombs used in rebel attacks in the past.
The bombs found yesterday appeared to be even more powerful than those used by the military, the source said.
Also in Narathiwat, immigration police on Wednesday arrested a man suspected of giving financial support to separatist rebels.
Matayae Poza, 37, was nabbed at the Sungai Kolok immigration checkpoint.
In Pattani, a store room at Ban Tanyong Pao School in Nong Chik district was set ablaze around 1.50am yesterday in what was believed to be an arson attack by an insurgent group.
In Yala, a man was gunned down in a rubber plantation. Initially, police suspected the killing was motivated by a personal conflict.
Bangkok – Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, is expected to leave hospital soon after nearly six weeks of medical treatment, his youngest daughter said on Friday.
The health of the 81-year-old king is a sensitive topic in Thailand, where he is revered as a demi-god and has been stabilising force during his six politically turbulent decades on the throne.
‘I wanted to tell everyone that the king’s condition has significantly improved. I think soon he will regain his strength and return to the palace,’ Princess Chulabhorn told an audience in Bangkok.
‘He has no fever and is continuing to get physical therapy. He can stand up and walk with a walker. He practises walking every day,’ added Princess Chulabhorn, the youngest of the king’s four children.
Rumours about the monarch’s condition sent Thailand’s markets stock plunging earlier this month and the government said on Thursday that four people had been arrested for spreading misinformation.
It is the third time that the princess has publicly commented on her father’s health since the king was taken to Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital in mid-September with a lung infection and fever.
Bangkok – Thailand on Friday promised a fair trial for a fugitive banker after he was extradited from Canada for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars and helping to trigger the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Indian national Rakesh Saxena lost a 13-year fight against extradition when Canada’s Supreme Court refused to hear his case on Thursday, and he was put on a plane to Thailand that is due to arrive in Bangkok late Friday.
Saxena stands accused of embezzling 1.7 billion baht (52 million dollars) from the Bangkok Bank of Commerce, which collapsed in 1995. He fled to Vancouver and was arrested in July 1996 at the request of Thai police.
‘The Canadian Supreme Court on October 29 rejected Saxena’s appeal filed on June 7, 2009, therefore his extradition case ended and he had to be extradited to Thailand,’ Thai Attorney General Chulasingh Vasantasingh told reporters. ‘He has been handed over to Thai authorities in Canada and is due to arrive in Bangkok at 9.30 pm (10.30 pm Singapore time). The attorney general’s office will hand him to police for investigation and the filing of formal charges to the court.’
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban vowed that the government would not meddle with the trial, which is sensitive because some members of the shaky coalition government have been accused of having ties to the case.
‘Everything will proceed in accordance with the law. The government will not interfere or assist any suspects even though they are in the government coalition,’ Mr Suthep told reporters.
Hanoi- An official says authorities in southern Vietnam have found a mass grave containing the remains of 12 communist soldiers killed during the Vietnam War.
School official Thai Thanh Hai says the remains were recovered on Wednesday along with personal effects like belts, caps and buttons on an army school grounds in Dong Nai province, adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City.
Mr Hai said on Thursday that students discovered the remains while planting trees at the site.
The area was once a major base for troops of the former Saigon government and the site of fierce fighting.
About 58,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese were killed in the war, which ended in 1975 when communist North Vietnamese forces overran Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam, now known as Ho Chi Minh City.
America is needed in any new framework,to strike a balance in the region
ST-29/10/2009 By Chua Chin Hon, US Bureau Chief and Tracy Quek , US CorrespondentWashington – The United States must be an important part of any new East Asian framework, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said on Wednesday, cautioning against defining the region in closed or racial terms.
At a gala dinner where he was conferred a lifetime achievement award for fostering US-Asean ties, he said that the US would remain the sole superpower for two or three more decades despite the fallout from last year’s global crisis.
While China may be rapidly gaining economic and geopolitical clout, Beijing is neither willing nor ready to take on equal responsibility for managing the international system. Therefore, the US should not be shut out of any new East Asian architecture, Mr Lee said.
‘It would be a serious mistake for the region to define East Asia in closed, or worse, in racial terms,’ he told about 450 political and business elites at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Leaders in the region have been mulling over the prospects of a new framework or architecture to better define their strategic concerns. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, for instance, has been pushing the idea of an Asia-Pacific community. More recently, Japanese Premier Yukio Hatoyama has offered a rival plan for an East Asian community.
There have been concerns that the US might be sidelined in these new regional frameworks, though some say such plans are too sketchy on details to be assessed properly.
She poured boiling water over her maid’s genitals and joined in to extract the Indonesian woman’s two front teeth with pliers.
On Wednesday, divorcee Maselly Ab Aziz, 38, was the last in a family of maid abusers to be convicted of these offences committed in 2007.
Her two children and a woman described in court as Maselly’s lesbian lover were jailed last year for their part in abusing the maid.
During a three-week trial earlier this year, Maselly claimed that 30-year-old Badingah had asked to be punished to make up for her wrongdoings.
But District Judge Jeffrey Sim told Maselly: ‘It may well be that the maid may have committed mistakes…but this does not justify the offences.’
The judge was convinced that Maselly had hit Ms Badingah with a metal rod and threatened to kill her if she did not return $60 that she was accused of stealing.
ST-29/10/2009 By Hazlin Hassan, Malaysia Correspondent
Kuala Lumpur – A running joke in Perak is that there are two governments in the state and no opposition.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) acted out their roles as the incumbent government at the state assembly sitting on Wednesday, continuing the Perak constitutional mayhem. Both sides held simultaneous meetings in the same chamber, ignoring the other group.
The BN state government’s budget was approved without a single dissenting vote, while three motions tabled by the PR were also passed.
Outside, there was tension in the air as 400 policemen surrounded the assembly building, guarding it with barbed wire and water-cannon trucks. There were minor scuffles between some PR assemblymen and police, but no arrest was made.
Still, the situation was much less chaotic than when the first assembly sitting was held on May 7.
The crisis was sparked following the takeover of the state assembly by BN, after three PR politicians defected to its side in February. Neither side wants to back down, and each has declared itself the legitimate state government.