Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto killed in suicide attack at political rally

Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack Thursday by an attacker who shot her after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi, and then blew himself up.

The suicide attack also killed at least 20 others at the end of a campaign rally. Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Ms Bhutto as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up.

The attack occurred close to an entrance gate of the city park where Ms Bhutto had been speaking.

Benazir Bhutto was rushed to the hospital and taken into emergency surgery.

"At 6:16 p.m. she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital.

The death of the 54-year-old charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 election into chaos and created fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence across the volatile south Asian nation. "The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up," police officer Mohammad Shahid said.

Ms Bhutto - the first woman PM in an Islamic state - was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi when a gunman shot her in the neck and set off a bomb.

Security forces have been placed on a state of "red alert" nationwide.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack. Analysts believe Islamist militants to be the most likely group behind it.

Ms Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), had served as prime minister from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996, and had been campaigning ahead of elections due on 8 January.

It was the second suicide attack against her in recent months and came amid a wave of bombings targeting security and government officials.

Police confirmed reports Ms Bhutto had been shot in the neck and chest before the gunman blew himself up.

Ms Bhutto's coffin was removed from hospital in Rawalpindi and has now arrived by plane in Sukkur in Sindh province for burial in her home town, Larkana.

Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has arrived in Pakistan from Dubai to escort the coffin to its final resting-place.

Photos - Benazir Bhutto's coffin has now been taken from the hospital.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Nepal agrees to abolish monarchy

The government of Nepal has agreed to abolish the monarchy as part of a deal to persuade Maoist former rebels to rejoin the interim administration.

Under the deal, Nepal will be declared a republic after a general election has been held next year and a new constituent assembly established.

The Maoists pulled out of the government in September, demanding an immediate end to the monarchy.

The latest deal was signed by Nepal's main parties, including the Maoists.

However no date has been set for the ex-rebels to rejoin the government.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Nepal says that, while a milestone, the move is no surprise.

The Maoists walked out of the government three months ago, vowing not to return unless the royal system was scrapped.

They have now secured what they wanted, even though the other parties in the ruling coalition had said, up to now, that voters should decide on the issue via the new assembly, our correspondent adds.

Analysts say that many Nepalis will be happy to have a republic.

Since the death of the well-loved King Birendra in the notorious palace massacre of 2001, the monarchy's popularity has sunk under his brother, Gyanendra - whose efforts to counter the Maoist insurgency led to a worsening of the country's human rights situation.

The Maoists called a ceasefire after the king ended his controversial direct rule in April 2006 and restored parliament.

The king backed down after weeks of strikes and protests against his rule which saw huge demonstrations against him.

Political parties - who were then in opposition and are now in government - had promised to work with the Maoists as a prelude to bringing them into government.

The political crisis came amid a rise in ethnic and religious tension, as regional groups strove to assert their authority in advance of the elections. -BBC

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Emerging China in World Bank

China is starting to play a bigger role in the World Bank and can be an important partner in helping development in places such as Africa as it becomes an aid giver instead of an aid recipient, the bank's president said Tuesday.

Robert Zoellick said he welcomed the news that China, which once received grants from the World Bank's International Development Association, is now a contributor to it.

That included a contribution at a recent meeting of the IDA, which provides grants and loans to the world's poorest countries.

"This is an example of China being a stakeholder in the field of development," Zoellick told a news conference at the end of a four-day visit. The undisclosed amount was a "modest but also significant step," he said.

China stopped taking loans from the IDA in 1999 after having received more than US$9.9 billion, but last week was the first time it started to contribute.

Although China has fewer voting shares in the bank than some developed countries, it still has an "influential" voice, he said. The bank is also recruiting Chinese staff, including senior staff, Zoellick said.

Zoellick said he discussed debt sustainability with Chinese officials because of worries some of the poorest countries would never be able to pay back their loans.

"Many developed countries have forgiven the debt of some of the poorest countries and so there's a legitimate concern about building that debt up again," he said.

He said that while China no longer needs financing from the World Bank, it still needs expertise to help shape its development agenda. That includes such things as providing microfinance initiatives in rural areas, raising China's energy efficiency and improving its environment.

Photos-China's Premier Wen Jiabao meets with the World Bank president Robert Zoellick at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 17, 2007. [Xinhua]

Friday, December 14, 2007

US submarines killer patrol planes to begin production

American Spirit Aviation Systems, Inc. has begun the first Boeing P-8A "Poseidon" maritime patrol aircraft fuselage manufacturing work. Based on the next generation of such modified Boeing 737 of the aircraft will be used to replace the service of the United States Navy P-3 maritime patrol aircraft.

According to the British "Flight International" on December 11, the same day, Spirit of Kansas Weiaisa factory began assembling frame loading, the fuselage is expected to be the first in the 100 days after the March 19, 2008 through railway transportation the Washington, and Boeing 737 assembly line.  

The first P-8 will be the development and verification system projects (SDD) phase of the five aircraft production one of this five aircraft in the three will be used for flight testing, two for ground testing using machine.

P-8 and 737 civil aircraft fuselage in the Spirit of the same production line.

P-8 production on the 737 production line needs to do to comply with the United States, including changes in the international arms trade regulations (ITAR) security restrictions, as well as the procedures to increase the assembly and installation of the fuselage weapons cabin.

P-8 will be Brandi No. 3 with the 737 assembly line ITAR completed assembly, the first P-8 in August 2008 off the assembly line, in Seattle, Boeing test site after the system is installed mandate, the
first P - 8 (T-1 aircraft) will be in September 2009 for the first flight.

The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft. It possesses an advanced mission system for maximum interoperability in battle space.

Capable of broad-area, maritime, and littoral operations, the P-8A is expected to
influence how the U.S. Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance forces train, operate, and deploy.

Toyota and Ford on China pollution blacklist

Forty multinationals are among some 4,000 firms on an air pollution blacklist released Thursday.

Top companies such as Michelin China, Sina-Mars Group APP in China, the joint ventures of Toyota and Ford, and subsidiaries of Sinopec figure on the list of the China Air Pollution Map (, compiled by the Beijing-based non-governmental Institute of Public and Environment Affairs (IPEA).

"We started collecting the records of polluters in 2004," said Ma Jun, director of the institute.

Besides information about the polluters, the institute's latest database also records air quality and air pollution sources in 150 cities in the southern parts of the country.

Ma said the institute gets polluters' information from local and central environmental protection departments' websites or from news reports.

The air pollution map is the second such blacklist launched by the group. The China Water Pollution Map has made public details of about 9,400 water violations since last year, including those involving up to 280 foreign firms.

The water map has led 50 companies, including two local players, to respond; and two have cleared their names so far. To get their names removed from the blacklist, the companies need to comply with the rules and undergo a third-party audit.

Ma expressed the hope that the lists will pressure polluters to make improvements and encourage more people to join in the clean efforts.

The blacklisted companies should move to "provide the public with an open explanation and mend their ways," Ma told China Daily.

He said the air pollution map is only partial and more information about northern China will be released.

"Access to information is a pre-condition for public participation," said Ma. "And China has progressed in disclosing environmental information."- China Daily

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Five HINDRAF leaders detained under ISA

KUALA LUMPUR: Five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) have been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), with police saying more could be picked up.

The detained leaders are (from left) : P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, R. Kengadharan, V. Ganabatirau and K. Vasantha Kumar.

Bukit Aman police officers picked them up between 12.30pm and 2.30pm yesterday.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said they were picked up under Section 8(1) of the ISA after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Internal Security Minister, signed their detention order.

Their detention is for two years.

“Other personalities who are involved or have links with any terrorist organisation that could threaten or jeopardise national security will be picked up,” he said.

The IGP said all five had been sent to the Kamunting detention centre.

Uthayakumar was picked up from his office in Bangsar here; Kengadharan from his office in SS2/55, Petaling Jaya; Vasantha Kumar from a restaurant in Brickfields; Manoharan from his Pantai office; and Ganabatirau in Seremban.

The group came into the spotlight on Nov 25 when it organised a mass protest that saw thousands of Indians gathering at various locations in the city to support Hindraf’s plan to submit a petition with 100,000 signatures to the British High Commission.

The petition was to ask Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen’s Counsel to represent the Indian community in a class-action suit against the British Government for bringing in Indians as indentured labourers to the then Malaya and exploiting them.

P. Waythamoorthy, who is another Hindraf leaders, is currently overseas.

All Malaysian news paper reported the news.

Global Economy to Slow More

The combination of higher energy prices and weaker growth prospects in advanced economies could dampen the outlook also for emerging markets. Nonetheless, despite these risks, the most likely outcome is a continued global expansion.

However, the persistence of the imbalances undermines confidence that the global growth expansion can be sustained, says IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky.

The imbalances are:

i. New risks threaten global growth

ii. Global imbalances still challenging

iii. Currency moves reflect new uncertainties

ising oil prices, financial market turmoil, and a sliding dollar have grabbed the headlines in recent months.

Underlying these developments, however, is the emergence of record external payments imbalances and the associated capital flows.

Speaking with the IMF Survey magazine, he argues that it is more urgent than ever that the major players—China, the Euro area, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States—follow through on promised policy plans that were announced last April as part of the IMF's Multilateral Consultation On Global Imbalances. -IMF

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Israel Is 4th Largest Arms Exporter

Associated Press reported that Israel became the world's fourth largest defense exporter in 2007, surpassing Britain, with $4.3 billion in signed contracts, officials said Tuesday amid efforts to tighten controls on the nation's arms sales to banned countries or groups.

Israel exports mostly radar systems, drones and anti-tank missiles to India, Turkey, Britain, the United States and other Western nations, defense officials said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information. But Israel has earned a questionable reputation for the small percentage of its sales -- usually of shells, rifles and ammunition -- that go to war-torn countries, analysts said.

A new Israeli law attempts to ensure that Israeli weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.

Under pressure from the United States, the No. 1 arms exporter, Israel enacted the law that will make it illegal for Israeli residents to sell any weapons, even if they are not Israeli-made, to embargoed countries or militias.

Those convicted could serve as much as three years in prison and be fined up to $1.5 million, said Eli Pinko, the head of the new inspection department set up to comply with the law. The new law takes effect Jan. 1.

Israelis have in the past sold arms to embargoed countries and groups. Despite the violations and international pressure on Israel to take action, local law did not allow for their arrests.

"About 5 percent of the exports are meant for problematic countries in the Third World, in Asia and Africa, for countries that are in the midst of civil war," said military affairs expert Yossi Melman. "These are the markets that give Israel a bad name."

Israel also deals with countries with poor human rights records, like a sale to Zimbabwe in 2001 of crowd dispersal equipment that was later used against demonstrators protesting Robert Mugabe's rule, Amnesty International's Israel branch said.

Israelis also have been suspect in sales to Croatia during the war there in the mid-1990s and to Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

Amnesty welcomed Israel's attempt to improve its laws but the organization's campaign director, Ilan Lonai, said the efforts needed to go further.

"Israel needs to come up to standards that are not only better than what they are at the moment, but to international standards, like those of the United States and European Union," Lonai said.

Israeli defense officials have said Israel must export arms to keep its defense industries viable. Israel needs to develop and manufacture weapons for its military, which faces threats from hostile neighbors, but the Israeli military by itself is too small a market to sustain the industry.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

World views on free press mixed

World opinion is divided on the importance of having a free press, according to a poll conducted for the BBC World Service.

Of those interviewed, 56% thought that freedom of the press was very important to ensure a free society.

But 40% said it was more important to maintain social harmony and peace, even if it meant curbing the press's freedom to report news truthfully.

Pollsters interviewed 11,344 people in 14 countries for the survey.

In most of the 14 countries surveyed, press freedom (including broadcasting) was considered more important than social stability.

The strongest endorsement came from North America and Western Europe, where up to 70% put freedom first, followed by Venezuela, Kenya and South Africa, with over 60%.

Graph: How different countries rate press freedom

In India, Singapore and Russia, by contrast, more people favoured stability over press freedom.

In those countries, around 48% of respondents supported controls over the press to ensure peace and stability.

Around 40% expressed the view that press freedom was more important.

People were also asked to rate how free the press and broadcasters were in their country to report the news truthfully and without undue bias.
Perceptions varied
widely among developing countries, ranging from 81% giving a high rating in Kenya, to 41% in Mexico.

In India, 72% of respondents thought their media were free, compared with just 36% in Singapore.

But some developed countries which strongly believed in press
freedom were critical of their own media's honesty and accuracy.

In the United States, Britain and Germany, only around 29% of those interviewed thought their media did a good job in reporting news accurately.

Chris Coulter, vice-president of GlobeScan, the company that led the research, says: "Despite the fact that people in Britain really value freedom of the press, when we asked specifically around news organisations how they're doing in reporting news accurately and truthfully, respondents were quite critical."

"Only about a third of people in Britain actually gave positive ratings to either publicly-funded news
organisations or privately-funded news organisations."

He says he was quite surprised by this finding, but points out that the research was conducted during October this year, when trust in the BBC and other public service broadcasters in Britain had been hit by a series of phone-in problems and other editorial lapses.

Owners' views

The survey also identified concern in some countries over the concentration of private media ownership in the hands of fewer large companies.

In Brazil, Mexico, the United States and Britain, more than 70% of respondents agreed with the suggestion that ownership was an issue because the owners' political views emerged in the news.

Germans had a particularly poor view of their private media companies - with just 18% giving them a high rating for accurate news.

But overall, publicly-run news organisations were viewed slightly more negatively than ones run for profit.

Only in Egypt, Germany, Russia and Singapore did people rate the public media more than privately-owned media companies.

The poll was conducted by the international research firms GlobeScan and Synovate, as part of a season of programmes marking the 75th anniversary of BBC World Service.- BBC

Monday, December 3, 2007

The largest Christmas tree in China

A photo taken on December 3, 2007 shows a Christmas tree in Beijing, capital of China. The Christmas tree, which was erected at Jiadebao square in Beijing, is 23 meters high and 10 meters in diameter.

Currently the Christmas tree is the largest one in the capital of China. [newsphoto]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Malaysian-born Penny now Aussie minister

Malaysian-born Penny Wong will be Minister for Climate Change and Water, with responsibility for international negotiations on the Kyoto treaty, which aims to curb the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Rudd told a news conference that the new minister would accompany him to a key UN conference in Bali next month which aims to produce plans for action on climate change beyond 2012, when current Kyoto commitments expire.

Wong was born in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia to a Chinese Malaysian father and an Australian mother. She moved to Australia at the age of eight with her mother and brother, after her parents separated. After spending a year on exchange in Brazil, Wong studied Arts/Law at the University of Adelaide. While at university, she worked part time for the Cinstruction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

She also became involved in political activism at university, winning a position on the National Executive of the National Union Students. In 1988, Wong joined the Australian Labor Party, winning a position as a delegate to the party's state convention the following year. She has been a delegate each year since, with the exception of 1995.

Wong graduated from university in 1992, and continued on with the CFMEU, working as an industrial officer, gaining admission to the bar in 1993. During 1995 and 1996, she acted as an advisor to the New South Wales state government, specialising in the area of forest policy. On returning to Adelaide, she began practising law, won a position on the ALP's state executive, and also took on work as a legal officer with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellanous Union.

Wong ran for pre-selection for the Senate in 2001, and was selected for the top spot on the party's South Australian ticket, as a result of affirmative action policies and factional changes. Wong is a member of Emily's List Australia, the support network for Labor women, and currently sits on a number of Senate committees, primarily those related to economics.

She has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister John Howard's ban on same-sex marriages despite the ban also having the support of her own party.

In June 2005 Wong was appointed Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation and Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Responsibility. Following the reshuffle in December 2006, she became responsible for the portfolios of Public Administration & Accountability, Corporate Governance & Responsibility, and Workforce Participation.

In November 2007, in the wake of the Labor Party victory in the 2007 election, Wong was appointed Minister for Climate Change and Water. Her appointment as the first Australian from an Asian background to hold a cabinet position was quickly greeted by ethnic groups. As a result of this promotion, she will be the highest ranked politican representing South Australia.

UK teacher jailed over teddy row

A British teacher has been found guilty in Sudan of insulting religion after she allowed her primary school class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, has been sentenced to 15 days in prison and will then be deported.

Iranian child sold for sex and raped by own brothers

Sold into prostitution aged nine, condemned by an Iranian judge to hang at 18, Leila was saved by a group of human rights activists.

"I was nine years old when my mother started selling me. I did not understand what was happening."

Today Leila is a young woman of 22. For the past two years she has been cared for by a private home for destitute young women in Tehran, Omid E Mehr, which means Hope.

"My mother would say: 'Let's go out to buy things, like chocolates'. She would actually trick me. I was a tiny girl. She just took me to places."

Leila still finds it difficult to talk about the past. But we know that the "places" she speaks of are where she was sold for sex and raped.

Leila became the main source of income for a family of five.

The lawyer who eventually saved Leila's life, Shadi Sadr, is a controversial figure in Iran. Although she was imprisoned earlier this year for taking part in human rights demonstrations, she is widely respected and frequently quoted in the press.

Ms Sadr says Leila's story is not unique.

"A girl is considered one of the first commodities or properties that can be traded or sold in the eyes of a parent who is poor in Iran," she says.

Ms Sadr says that, in practice in Iran, under the Islamic penal code a father has enormous power over his own children.

"If a father decides to kill his own child he will not be sentenced to death, he will only be sent to prison for a couple of years."

Temporary wife

Leila lived in Arak, a small town four hours drive south of Tehran - notorious for criminal behaviour and illegal drugs. Most of Leila's earnings went on illegal narcotics for her family.

According to the United Nations three quarters of the world's opium seizures take place in Iran and the authorities acknowledge addiction is a serious problem.

But there are no such statistics on prostitution. The Director of the Omid E Mehr centre in Tehran says it is a growing problem.

"I have entered many homes in the south of Tehran where young girls had to go out and sell their bodies to provide for their father's drug habits," says Eshrat Gholipour.

I have also seen several cases of families chaining their own daughter to the homes to stop them from running away."

Leila's husband begun selling her for sex to as many as 15 men each night. Two months into the marriage, police raided the house and arrested everyone.

The husband was sentenced to five years in jail for providing a house for illegal sex.

During the course of the criminal investigation, Leila's brothers had confessed to raping her. They were flogged. For this Leila was accused of incest. A crime punishable by death.

Leila was in a women's prison when she heard about her own sentence from the warder: "I am going to tell you something but please do not be upset. You are going to be hanged."

Ms Sadr says the judicial system is deeply conservative and unfair.

"These male judges have not had any training about sexual charges. They all have a chauvinistic point of view and they see the woman as guilty," she says.

Leila's brothers later retracted their confessions. Ms Sadr took Leila's case to appeal and won. -BBC

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

British teacher charged over teddy row In Sudan

A British teacher has been charged in Sudan with insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that charges have been laid against Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool.

She was arrested in Khartoum after allowing her class of primary school pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said he will summon the Sudanese ambassador "as a matter of urgency".

In a statement, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "surprised and disappointed" at the charges.

A spokesman said the first step was to "understand the rationale behind the charge", something which would be discussed by Mr Miliband and the ambassador as soon as possible.
'Shameful ordeal'

"We will consider our response in the light of that," he added.
Lawyers say Mrs Gibbons faces six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine if convicted.
Sudanese state media said prosecutors had completed their investigation and decided to charge Mrs Gibbons under Article 125 of the Sudanese criminal code.

What can't be named Muhammad?
The BBC's Amber Henshaw, in Khartoum, said Mrs Gibbons was expected to appear in court on Thursday.

The Muslim Council of Britain reacted angrily to the news, saying it was "appalled" and demanded Mrs Gibbons' immediate release.
"This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith," said Secretary-General Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, in a strongly-worded statement.

"We call upon the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, to intervene in this case without delay to ensure that Ms Gibbons is freed from this quite shameful ordeal," said Dr Bari.
Possible acquittal.

Mrs Gibbons taught at the fee-paying Unity High School in Khartoum and the school's director, Robert Boulos, said earlier: "This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety.

But I think the lady, she hasn't got any intention to insult the Islamic religion, therefore I am sure, very sure that if she went to the court she might be acquitted
Ghazi Suleiman, Sudanese MP.

Earlier, the Sudanese Embassy in London said the situation was a "storm in a teacup" and signalled that the teacher could be released soon, attributing the incident to a cultural misunderstanding.

But Sudan's top clerics have called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam.
"What has happened was not haphazard or carried out of ignorance, but rather a calculated action and another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam," the Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas said in a statement.

The semi-official clerics body is considered relatively moderate and is believed to have the ear of the Sudanese government.

A Sudanese human rights lawyer and Member of Parliament countered that Mrs Gibbons may be acquitted or simply fined under the discretion of the magistrate.

"It is not imperative to lash her, it is not imperative to send her to prison," said Ghazi Suleiman. "But I think the lady, she hasn't got any intention to insult the Islamic religion, therefore I am sure, very sure that if she went to the court she might be acquitted."

Mrs Gibbons was arrested on Sunday after several parents made complaints to Sudan's Ministry of Education.

The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner said the situation could potentially become a very serious diplomatic incident.

Catherine Wolthuizen, chief executive of Fair Trials Abroad, told BBC News 24 that getting fair legal representation for Mrs Gibbons is a priority: "We are shocked and dismayed as I think many people are." -BBC

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Abdullah : using ISA against street protestors

The Government will use the Internal Security Act (ISA) against street demonstrators who threaten national security and disrupt racial harmony if necessary, warned the Prime Minister.

“If there are reasons for us to use it, we will use it,” Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stressed.

He was commenting on illegal street demonstrations held in Kuala Lumpur recently, including the latest by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which claims to be fighting for the Hindus in Malaysia.

Abdullah said using the law, which allows for detention without trial, would be preventive action to spare the country untoward incidents that could affect its peace and national security.

“The ISA is there, if the situation warrants it, it will be used,” he told reporters at the RMAF air base in Subang here upon his return from Cairo yesterday.

On calls by certain quarters for the ISA to be invoked against illegal street demonstrators, Abdullah said: “I am very surprised that people want the ISA. I thought they never wanted it.”

The police, he said, would decide on the appropriate action to be taken.

Abdullah also warned that action would be taken against those who download and distribute the memorandum signed by Hindraf legal adviser lawyer P. Uthayakumar addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which had been published in the Internet. The memorandum alleges persecution of Malaysian Indians..

He said the Government acknowledged freedom of the Internet but action could be taken against those who misuse it to spread allegations against the Government.

The memorandum appeals to Britain to refer Malaysia to the World Court for crimes against ethnic Indians. It also claimed that “100 over Indians were slashed and killed by the Umno-controlled Malaysian government in the Kampung Medan mini genocide”.

To this, Abdullah said that if Hindraf had indeed made such claim, Umno would act.

“We want to know what proof they have (to support their claim). This is a serious accusation because they say it was Umno,” he said.

On Hindraf’s action, he said: “They want to kiss the orang putih (British). They want the orang putih to take action because they are not satisfied with us”.

Abdullah said Hindraf got support from the Indian community who thought they would each get RM1mil in compensation from its class-action suit filed against the British Government for bringing Indians into Malaya to work as labourers.

The Prime Minister also said that everyone must realise that accusations against the Government were made because certain people thought that the election was around the corner, and this was the case in every elections.

“But we hear what they say. Some of the demands are in the process of being addressed while some have been addressed but they are still harping on it,” he said.

On Cameron Highlands MP S.K. Devamany’s comment in Parliament that the Hindraf demonstration showed there was frustration at the lower levels in the community, Abdullah said the Government must be fair to all.

“If we focus on the interest of one group, others will be jealous, others will complain,” he said.

Monday, November 26, 2007

China - The world's second-biggest aircraft market

Airbus, the world’s largest commercial planemaker, won an order from China for 160 aircraft valued at around $17 billion, cementing a record year.

The deal comprises 110 A320s and 50 A330s, European Aeronautic, Defence & Space, CEO, Louis Gallois, Airbus’s parent, said after the contracts were signed in Beijing on Monday. The deal includes 10 A330 aircraft ordered by China Southern Airlines Co, according to an announcement at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

The contracts are a boost for Toulouse, France-based Airbus as it struggles to end losses following a $6.8 billion charge from the A380 superjumbo and delays to its new A350 long-haul plane. Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing have benefited from a jump in sales to Asia and the Persian Gulf, sending annual orders at both manufacturers to record levels. Airbus will also award Chinese companies 5% of supply contracts for the 300-seat A350, including wing flaps and rudders, Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier said on Monday, without elaborating.

The European planemaker is building an assembly line in China. The executives are travelling with a trade delegation led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a three-day visit to China. Airbus’s new orders this year will surpass the 1,111 amassed in 2005.

Airbus had already won 1,021 new orders through the end of October and announced firm orders or commitments for 297 further planes at the Dubai Air show in mid-November. While Airbus is booking new orders at record rates, it faces huge financial challenges in coping with a weak dollar, the currency for aircraft purchases.

Airbus said on November 23 it may have to cut its e2 billion research budget to trim costs as the dollar’s decline becomes what Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders called “life threatening”. China’s economic growth, which more than doubled personal income in the past five years, is boosting demand for air traffic and airlines’ ambitions for expansion.

Passenger volume will have an annual 14.5% growth until 2010, according to estimates of the General Administration of Civil Aviation. Cargo volume will rise by an annual 13%.

Abdullah:Hindraf testing the government's patience

KAMPALA, Nov 25 -- Police had to be firm in dispersing the illegal gathering in Kuala Lumpur in the interest of public safety and security, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He said the situation could have easily turned violent if police did not take the necessary action to break up the demonstration.

"I was told that one group of demonstrators pelted policemen and police vehicles (with stones and bricks) at Batu Caves and they also tore down the temple gate there," Abdullah told Malaysian reporters at the end of the three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2007) here.

Abdullah said if police did not take the necessary action to disperse the crowd, others would have blamed them for not protecting the public.

However, police did not retaliate violently although they were provoked, he added.

To a question, Abdullah said those who had been organising street demonstrations seemed to be
testing the government's patience.

"Don't abuse the freedom that has been given to you," he said, adding that those who took part in the illegal gathering would not go unpunished.

Abdullah said claims that a particular race was being marginalised was not true as there were poor and rich people among all races in the country.

He said if the Barisan Nasional government did not help the poor, it would have been rejected by the people long ago.

"In every society, there are poor people and we have been doing our best to help the Indian community through the MIC, and we will continue to help them," he said.

Abdullah also questioned Hindraf's (Hindu Rights Action Force) intention to go ahead with the demonstration despite police warning not to do so.

"If you want to submit a memorandum, there are other ways of doing it," he said, adding that action could also be taken against public servants who took part in the illegal demonstration.

He said the demonstration yesterday disrupted business and caused people, including tourists, to stay away from the city centre.

Abdullah also refuted claims that there was no democracy and media freedom in the country. (Bernama)