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News : ASIA



Islam and democracy can co-exist, says Anwar Ibrahim's daughter

Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of freed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, says the Arab Spring has shown that Islam and democracy can co-exist and propel the opposition into power in Malaysia at elections later this year.
Mrs Nurul Izzah, 31, who has been touted as a potential future prime minister, revealed that in her fight to clear her father’s name and her work to ensure the forthcoming elections are democratic, she had received physical threats against her four-year-old daughter.
She is a young Muslim woman leader with a sense that change is now a real possibility in Malaysia after over 50 years of being dominated by the ruling National Front.
Her father, Mr Anwar, 64, was arrested in the aftermath of the 2008 election over allegations he sodomised a male aide, but was cleared of the charges last month.
His release has rejuvenated the opposition, opening the way for a challenge to the ruling party at elections expected later this year.
“We felt vindicated and overjoyed [by Mr Anwar’s release], but stress that this is only the beginning. Much reform still needs to take place,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

...more in The Telegraph



North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-il dead at 69
Secretive nation's "Dear Leader" dies after massive heart attack, reports say...

Kim Jong-il, the barbaric dictator of North Korea, has died at the age of 69 after suffering a heart attack, North Korean state media has announced.
Kim, known in the communist country as the "Dear Leader", died on Saturday aboard a train during a trip out of Pyongyang, the state-run KCNA news agency said on Monday.
"It is the biggest loss for the party ... and it is our people and nation's biggest sadness," a tearful presenter said as she announced the death on state television.
An autopsy was performed on Sunday, and the North declared a period of national mourning from December 17 to 29. The KCNA news agency said that Kim's funeral would take place on December 28.
The announcement of Kim's death prompted South Korea to place its military on emergency alert, while shares on the stock market in Seoul fell nearly five per cent amid uncertainty over the stability of the secretive nuclear-armed nation.
South Korea's government called an emergency national security council meeting, and the country's central bank and market regulators also announced emergency meetings.
Kim Jong-il last year appointed his third son, Kim Jong-un, to a number of high-ranking posts in moves seen as positioning Kim Jong-un as his assumed successor after years of speculation about the elder Kim's fading health.

...more in Al Jazeera - BBC - The Guardian - The Telegraph - El Mundo - France 24 - La Repubblica - Frankfurter Allgemeine - Die Welt - MSNBC
Read and watch also the documentary by the BBC:
Life inside the North Korean bubble


North Korea reveals new nuclear plant

A week after shelling South Korea, Pyongyang unveils a fresh uranium enrichment facility in a move seen as provocative.
Secretive North Korea has detailed for the first time its expanded nuclear programme--a move seen by South Korea and its key ally, the US, as yet another provocation.
Pyongyang said on Tuesday that it has thousands of centrifuges at a new uranium enrichment plant as pressure built on China to rein in its ally amid heightened tensions on the peninsula.
Nuclear-armed Pyongyang's revelations about its uranium enrichment, which gives it a second route to make a nuclear bomb, came a week after it fired a barrage of artillery shells at a South Korean island, killing four people including two civilians.
"Currently construction of a light-water reactor is in progress actively and a modern uranium enrichment plant equipped with several thousands of centrifuges, to secure the supply of fuels, is operating," the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported.
"Nuclear energy development projects will become more active for peaceful purpose in the future," added the paper, according the state news agency KCNA.
Siegfried Hecker, co-director of the Centre for International Security and Co-operation, published a report on November 20, saying that he was recently allowed to visit North Korea's Yongbyon atomic complex and saw "a modern clean centrifuge plant of more than a thousand centrifuges".
..more in Al Jazeera - The Guardian - BBC - El País - France 24

The dictatorship of North Korea open fire on democratic South Korea

South Korea says one soldier has been killed after North Korea fired dozens of rounds of artillery onto a populated South Korean island near the countries' western border.
South Korea has scrambled F-16 fighter jets after North Korean troops fired dozens of rounds of artillery towards Yeonpyeong
South Korea's military is on its highest non-wartime alert level after North Korean troops fired dozens of rounds of artillery on to a populated island near disputed waters, reportedly injuring civilians and soldiers.
It has scrambled F-16 fighter jets to the western sea and returned fire after the North shot off artillery towards South Korean waters and Yeonpyeong at around 2.30pm today, officials said.
South Korea's YTN television said two residents were injured and many more were being evacuated to bunkers. It reported that several houses were on fire and that shells were still falling on the island, broadcasting images of black and white plumes of smoke rising above the land.
A resident told the station that between 1,200 and 1,300 people live on Yeongpyeong. The South's military said it was checking for damage to civilians.

Yonhap news agency, quoting a military official, said four soldiers were wounded. The reports could not be verified immediately.
The incident came during a routine drill by Southern forces in waters near the island, the military said.
"We upgraded the military's alert posture on North Korea," Colonel Lee Bung-woo, spokesman at the South's joint chiefs of staff, told Yonhap.
Reuters said the military had announced it was on its highest non-wartime alert level.
The disputed maritime border has long been a source of friction and has seen repeated skirmishes, some fatal, in recent years.
Relations between the two Koreas have remained tense since the South's Cheonan warship sank in March, killing 46 sailors. An international investigation led by Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo, but Pyongyang denies any involvement.

The latest conflict comes amid growing international concern over reports that North Korea has a new uranium enrichment facility.
...more in Al Jazeera - The Guardian - BBC - El Mundo - El País - France 24 - La Repubblica - Die Zeit - CNN

Clinton calls for action over sinking of South Korean warship:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today the world must respond to the sinking of a South Korean warship that has been blamed on North Korea.
"This was an unacceptable provocation by North Korea and the international community has a responsibility and a duty to respond," Clinton told reporters after talks with South Korean leaders.
The ship sinking "requires a strong but measured response," she said at a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, though did not elaborate.
Clinton said the United States would be consulting with South Korea and members of the UN Security Council on what the appropriate action would be, but she declined to offer a timeline.
"We're very confident in the South Korean leadership, and their decision about how and when to move forward is one that we respect and will support," she said.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply since a team of international investigators last week concluded that a torpedo from a North Korean submarine tore apart the corvette Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 South Korean sailors. It was one of the South's worst military disasters since the 1950-53 Korean War.
...more in The Independent - Al Jazeera - France 24 - El País - BBC - The Irrawaddy

A state of war
Paranoia and fear about the outside world keeps 'hermit nation' always on the edge.

For more than 50 years North Korea has been ready to go to war at a moment's notice.
Cut off from the outside world behind barricades of barbed wire, landmines and concrete tank-traps, the so-called "hermit kingdom" has come to rely for its very existence on maintaining a constant war footing.
Visiting North Korea as a tourist last year, it was impossible to avoid the message thrashed out again and again on the streets and on the airwaves that the country is under constant threat of invasion and outsiders are to be feared.
It is the message that is drilled into children from the day they are born, during the minimum six years of military service that every citizen must undertake, and in the workplaces and homes of every North Korean.
It is the message that also underpins the governing national philosophy of "juche" or self-reliance, encouraging North Koreans to shun the outside world and fuelling a national sense of paranoia that the country's rulers use to maintain their iron grip on power.
...more in Al Jazeera


Dictatorship frees 2 US journalists: Announcement of pardon comes after Bill Clinton meets with dictator Kim Jong Il. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has pardoned two jailed American journalists and ordered their release following an unannounced meeting with former President Bill Clinton, the North's state media said Wednesday. Clinton, who arrived in North Korea Tuesday on an unannounced visit, met with the reclusive and ailing Kim for talks described by Pyongyang as "exhaustive." It was Kim's first meeting with a prominent Western figure since his reported stroke nearly a year ago. The release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were arrested March 17 near the China-North Korea border, was a sign of North Korea's "humanitarian and peace-loving policy," the Korean Central News Agency reported.

...more information en Al Jazeera - MSNBC - El País - El Mundo - Le Figaro - France 24 - BBC - The Guardian - The Telegraph - The Washington Post - CNN - ABC News Australia

Kingdom of Buthan


Bhutan king's wedding captivates nation
Namgyel Wangchuck, 31, ties knot with a student 10 years his junior in a colourful ceremony in monastery in old capital.

Bhutan's 31-year-old king has married a student 10 years his junior in a colourful ceremony that has seen the remote Himalayan nation declare three-days of national holiday to honour the event.
Thursday's wedding, showcasing the rich Buddhist culture of the largely insular country, took place amid clouds of incense and chanting by monks.
The popular King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck - an Oxford graduate who came to power in 2008 at the start of democracy in Bhutan - crowned his queen, Jetsun Pema, at the end of a series of rituals in the 17th-century fortified monastery chosen for the occasion.

Pema is a daughter of an airline pilot widely admired for her beauty and her impact on the love-struck monarch.
The celebrations began at 8:20am - a time set by royal astrologers - when the king walked into the courtyard of the monastery in the old capital of Punakha.
Wearing the royal yellow sash, he proceeded up the high staircase inside.
After a brief purification ceremony, the couple walked hand-in-hand, smiling to the inner sanctum of the monastery where an hour of blessings, prostrations and prayers culminated with the queen taking the throne.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from Punakha on Thursday, said the people he had spoken to told him that Pema is "perfectly cut out to be a queen".
"One girl said she had international looks and that's an advantage," he said. "There's been a great deal of excitement and there's a great deal of reverence for the monarchy and certainly a lot of interest and appreciation in this young couple."
The wedding captivated the nation, which was growing impatient with its king's lack of urgency to tie the knot.

...more in Al Jazeera - BBC - Bhutan Observer


101 East - Bhutan's prime minister of a Democracy

101 East speaks exclusively to Jigme Thinley about the challenges facing the world's youngest democracy.

...more in Al Jazeera - Buthan Observer


Inside Story - Start of democracy - 27 Mar 08

Inside Story looks at Bhutan's future as the country starts their democratic journey.

...more in Al Jazeera - Buthan Observer

Bhutan's deprived refugees - 23 Mar 08

Rush hour in the border town of Phuentsholing in southern Bhutan and one of the main crossing points with India.
Every day thousands of people pass through here into the Himalayan kingdom.
Some enter for a better job with higher pay some hoping for a better future.
Most are Indian or Nepalese.
But do they really have a future as refugees in Bhutan?

...more in Al Jazeera - Bhutan Observer

"Lost Land of the Tiger" : BBC Series



Singapore economy 'second to Qatar'
City-state's record economic growth attributed to its manufacturing, finance and tourism sectors.

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore prime minister, has announced a record 14.7 per cent growth in the country's economy in 2010, making it the second fastest growing economy in the world, behind Qatar.
Gross domestic product expanded 12.5 per cent in the fourth quarter from the same period a year earlier, Lee said in a statement on Friday.
Singapore's three key sectors, manufacturing, finance and tourism, all flourished this year as the global economy bounced back from an economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis of 2008.
Singapore seeks to become one of Asia's top gambling and shopping destinations and the opening of the city-state's first two casino resorts this year attracted record numbers of tourists.
Lee said that the result showed a dramatic recovery from the negative growth of 2009.
He said that growth momentum in Asia is strong while the US economy remains weak and Europe faces a sovereign debt crisis in several countries.
"The outlook for the world economy is mixed," Lee said. "Hopefully, Asia will continue to do well despite the weakness in developed countries."
But he cautioned that the growth figure was a one-off, due to special circumstances.
He also credited investment in education and support for innovation for driving the economic expansion.
...more in Al Jazeera

Hora en Singapore -

1. Ten en cuenta que el gran amor y los grandes logros requieren grandes riesgos.
2. Cuando pierdes, no pierdes la lección.
3. Sigue las tres R: Respeto a ti mismo, Respeto para los otros y Responsabilidad sobre todas tus acciones
4. Recuerda que no conseguir lo que quieres, a veces significa un maravilloso golpe de suerte.
5. Aprende las reglas, así sabrás como romperlas apropiadamente.
6. No permitas que una pequeña disputa destroce una GRAN AMISTAD.
7. Cuando creas que has cometido un error, haz algo inmediatamente para corregirlo.
8. Ocupa algo de tiempo cada día en estar solo.
9. Abre tus brazos al cambio, pero no te olvides de tus valores.
10. Recuerda que a veces el silencio es la mejor respuesta.
11. Vive una buena y honorable vida, así cuando seas mayor y mires atrás podrás disfrutarla por segunda vez.
12. Una atmósfera amorosa en tu casa es el cimiento para tu vida.
13. En discusiones con alguien querido ocupate sólo de la situación actual, no saques a relucir el pasado.
14. Comparte tu conocimiento, es una manera de conseguir la inmortalidad.
15. Se considerado con la Tierra.
16. Una vez al año ve a algún lugar en el que nunca hayas estado antes.
17. Recuerda que la mejor relación es aquella en la que el amor por cada uno excede la necesidad por el otro.
18. Juzga tu éxito según lo que has sacrificado para conseguirlo.
19. Acercate al amor y a la cocina con osada entrega."
Dalai Lama

noticias : ASIA



Editor and activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk jailed for 11 years under Thailand's totalitarian lese majeste laws

A THAI journalist and political activist has been jailed for 11 years in the latest tough sentence under the kingdom's controversial royal defamation law, to the dismay of human rights defenders.
The European Union said it was "deeply concerned" by the punishment imposed on Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, 51, in connection with two articles that appeared in his magazine in 2010.
"The verdict seriously undermines the right to freedom of expression and press freedom," the EU delegation in Bangkok said in a statement.
Amnesty International, which considers Somyot to be a "prisoner of conscience", described the Bangkok Criminal Court ruling as "a serious setback for freedom of expression in Thailand".
Somyot is a supporter of the "Red Shirt" protest group, which is broadly loyal to ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

... more The Australian News - Global Voices - Reuters - The Irrawaddy - The Economist - FIDH - Prachatai - Front Line Defenders - AlJazeera


Student faces prison for speaking out in royalist Thailand
The fate of Kanthoop, 20, who faces up to 15 years in jail for 'having opinions', highlights country's harsh pro-monarchy laws

She is the very embodiment of modern Thai youth, dressed in flip-flops, T-shirt and shorts, and sipping an iced coffee with friends after university lectures. But 20-year-old Kanthoop is not just another university student. The social welfare major has been spat at, publicly denigrated, threatened by police and faces up to 15 years in jail – for little more, she says, than "having opinions".
"I know my case is symbolic, and I'm happy about that. There is good that comes from somebody standing up and wanting to make change – sooner or later people will start to realise that."
To understand why Kanthoop might be so vilified is to understand Thai society. Twice a day – at 8am and 6pm – time stands still in this nation of 69 million as the national anthem sputters out of public loudspeakers and everyone is expected to stand in silent salute.
The routine testifies to the adoration Thai people feel for both their nation and their king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, or Rama IX, a man so revered that many shops and homes bear his portrait. But that reverence is backed up by the world's strictest anti-monarchy regulations, which sentence anyone who insults, defames or threatens the king or his family to three to 15 years' imprisonment.
Opponents argue that the law, known as Article 112, prevents healthy dialogue and is being used as a political tool to stifle dissent. Charges of lese-majesty, though in existence since 1908, have jumped since the military coup in 2006 that ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was widely criticised for attempting to undermine the monarchy, an accusation he has long denied.
In 2010 – when royalist forces bloodily battled with Thaksin supporters – 478 lese-majesty charges were made and 75,000 websites blocked. Human rights groups, as well as the US, EU and UN, have voiced concern over the way the law is used.
A group of Thai academics and activists, called Nitirat, have since proposed amendments to the law, but current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, has vowed not to touch 112 — promising in January to "protect the [royal] institution, not exploit it". The debate has consequently been left to rage in the streets, where Nitirat's members face threats and harassment by royalists.

...more in The Guardian - Bangkog Post - The Nation - / More in the web Political Prisoners in Thailand


'Red Shirts' rally in Thai capital.
About 30,000 anti-government protesters gather in Bangkok for the first major rally since lifting of state of emergency.

About 30,000 supporters of Thailand's so-called Red Shirt movement have gathered in the capital, Bangkok, demanding the release of the group's leaders who were detained in the wake of last year's deadly violence.
Sunday's anti-government protest appeared to be peaceful at large, but a brief scuffle occurred in an upmarket shopping area where police had tried to seal off the main intersection with barricades.
A few hundred protesters hurled plastic water bottles and pushed past the police, who stepped aside to avoid further conflict.
Hundreds of police were on standby in the city.
Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader who avoided arrest because he has parliamentary immunity, vowed to hold "frequent and symbolic gatherings" twice a month - a change from the large sit-in last year that lasted 10 weeks and prompted a violent crackdown.
"We have learned a lesson that big gatherings will not lead to the result we want," Jatuporn said.
About 90 people were killed and more than 1,400 were wounded in the March-May unrest, as the protesters tried to force Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister, to call early elections.
Sunday's protest was the first major rally since Abhisit's government on December 22 lifted a state of emergency in Bangkok that technically barred gatherings of more than five people.
...more in Al Jazeera


WikiLeaks cables: Thai leaders doubt suitability of prince to become king.
Embassy cables reveal fears over heir's womanising and links to ousted PM damaging stabilising role of monarchy in Thailand

Thai leaders harbour grave misgivings about the crown prince's fitness to become king owing to his reputation as a womaniser and links to a fugitive former prime minister, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable. Three senior members of Thailand's powerful privy council, a group of advisers appointed by the king, make clear their preference for an alternative to Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is considered a political liability because of his extramarital affairs in several European countries. The succession is of pressing concern as King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turned 83 this month, is in poor health. Revered by most Thais, he is one of the few unifying figures in a country deeply divided between an urban elite and a rural poor. The great fear within the authorities is that with the divisive figure of the crown prince as king, any future political turbulence could split Thailand in two. The military and the police rely on loyalty to the crown to maintain control and without it their authority would be greatly weakened.

..."Anand said that he had always believed that the Crown Prince would succeed his father, according to law. However, there could be complicating factors – if Vajiralongkorn proved unable to stay out of politics, or avoid embarrassing financial transactions … The consensus view among many Thai was that the Crown Prince could not stop either, nor would he be able, at age 57, to rectify his behaviour," the cable reads. "After another pause, Anand added that someone really should raise the matter with the King, before adding with regret that there really was no one who could raise such a delicate topic (note: implied was the need for an alternative to Vajiralongkorn)." Royal intrigue is also conveyed in another cable by John in October 2008. This confidential message reports on complaints by Samak Sundaravej, a former prime minister, that Queen Sirikit encouraged the coup that overthrew Thaksin. "He showed disdain for Queen Sirikit," John writes, "claiming that she had been responsible for the 2006 coup d'etat as well as the ongoing turmoil generated by PAD [People's Alliance for Democracy] protests.
...more in The Guardian / and in WikiLeaks

Deposed Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, dismisses arrest warrant as politically motivated: Thailand's fugitive former prime minister has dismissed a government warrant for his arrest as "politically motivated" and expressed confidence that international police agency Interpol would not carry it out.
"Interpol have their own criteria to judge, that is, to not be politically motivated. This is clearly politically motivated and there is no ground," Thaksin Shinawatra told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) by phone on Wednesday.
The Thai Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday against Thaksin on terrorism charges that accuse him of a role in fomenting two months of anti-government unrest by so-called red shirt protesters in Bangkok that left more than 80 people dead.
Thailand issued the charges - which carry the death penalty – a day after the department of special investigations alleged that Thaksin committed, threatened to commit or supported terrorist acts.
...more in Al Jazeera - BBC - AFP - ABC

Dead toll rises as six found murdered in Buddhist temple refuge: Military says it has retaken Bangkok but extends city curfew, while state of emergency declared across 23 provinces.
With an uneasy peace holding in Bangkok , the death toll from the violent army crackdown has reached 14 today when the bodies of six protesters were found inside a temple designated as a refuge for women and children.
The military declared that it had retaken control of central Bangkok but a city-wide curfew was extended for another three days. The government declared a state of emergency across 23 provinces, mainly in the north of the country, which is an anti-government redshirt stronghold.
The discovery of the bodies took to 82 the total number of deaths during two months of clashes between government troops and protesters.
The redshirts' fortified protest camp in central Bangkok was stormed by troops early on Wednesday. Demonstrators had occupied some 300 hectares (740 acres) of the capital for more than a month.
...more in The Guardian - Al Jazeera - El País - The Independent - The Irrawaddy - BBC

Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay and Justin Okines bring you the story and pictures from the ground as Thai troops mount an offensive against the red shirt protesters in central Bangkok. (May 19, 2010)
Most of the anti-government protesters, or the so-called red shirts, who had camped out in central Bangkok for more than two months in a tense political standoff are from Thailand's rural north. Following last week's violence in the Thai capital, the anti-government movement and the government are bracing themselves for more violence to come. Observers say the opposition movement has grown far beyond Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister, with more professionals joining the push for regime change. Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen travelled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, where many of the group's leaders have now gone underground.
...more in Al Jazeera - The Guardian - The Independent - The Washington Post - France 24 - El País - El Mundo - The Irrawaddy

Khattiya Sawasdipol: Popular major-general in the Thai Army who defected to become leader of the Red Shirts was shot dead: Khattiya Sawasdipol, the Thai army major-general who defected to the anti-government protest movement and was killed in the turbulence which has engulfed Bangkok, revelled in both violent confrontation and media attention. It was his fate to fall victim to a combination of the two, hit by a bullet in the head as he gave a newspaper interview city near the barricades which he organised and regularly inspected.
He died on Monday after being wounded five days earlier. He had played a major part in Bangkok's turmoil, but did not live to see the city in flames after the army moved in to the dissident encampments this week.
Sawasdipol had a particular attachment to hand grenades, often wearing a hat adorned with their pins. The Thai government accused him of involvement in bomb attacks in recent months. He rejected the allegation that he controlled death squads, exclaiming: "I deny". But he did so with a laugh.
He maintained that he knew nothing of a recent wave of bombings. "People kept screaming my name but I had nothing to do with it," he insisted. "I have no guns, but there may be others who want to help – not just help the protesters, they want to help the country. But I don't know who they are."
Within the anti-government movement he was a significant figure, given his military background and media prominence. But he was clearly not representative of the rural poor and the other elements that made up the Red Shirt movement which was involved in the recent unrest. For one thing, he was hugely flamboyant in a way which earned him cult status, but also many enemies. Styling himself as Seh Daeng, or "Red Commander", he compared himself with William Wallace, the Scottish rebel portrayed in the film Braveheart ("Mel Gibson is the same as me," he declared). In autobiographical writings, which he published himself, he was photographed as Rambo, summing himself up by saying: "I am a soldier outside the law."
... more in The Independent - Al Jazeera - The Guardian

On this edition of 101 East, Al Jazeera asks what it will take for political stability to return to Thailand.
By opting to use military force against the redshirt protesters, the Thai government has lost the opportunity to craft a settlement for an orderly transition, writes Duncan McCargo
Clearing demonstrators from the streets using military force is messy enough, but in a major political conflict like Thailand's, the sweeping-out operation is really the easy part.
Despite almost reaching a negotiated settlement with the protesters last week, the Thai authorities have ordered security forces to overrun the main redshirt encampments in central Bangkok, arresting major leaders and apparently shooting dead at least four people, including an Italian journalist, in a continuation of ham-fisted military tactics already condemned by Amnesty International.
The decision to use force against redshirt protesters was immediately applauded by government supporters - including many long-suffering Bangkok residents - but the costs of such a heavy-handed crackdown will be extremely high.
By opting for a military rather than a security solution, the government has lost the opportunity to craft a settlement for an orderly transition. A roadmap based on a plan for early elections in November had offered a possible way forward, and intermediaries, including the senate speaker and activist academics, had sought to broker further dialogue between the two sides. The UN also made a couple of overtures of assistance, which were immediately rebuffed by the government.
Following the death on Monday of renegade general Khattiya Sawasdipol, better known as Sae Daeng, of wounds inflicted by a sniper, the redshirts had lost their most hardline opponent of compromise.
King Bhumibol supported the military coup against Democracy...For the heads of state and diplomats who crossed his threshold, he was a king in a suit, a Thai version of British or Scandinavian monarchs: a constitutional figure, a symbol of the state without personal power. For his people, by contrast, the great majority of them pious Theravada Buddhists in a country which also has an ancient residue of Hinduism, he was very much more than that: he was the avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and in Buddhist terms the "Dharmaraja", the King of Righteousness. He was "a sacral leader", in the words of his biographer, Paul Handley, "with blood-born magical powers and transcendent vision".
For the outside world he did service as an urbane figurehead. And at home his gentle, studious nature persuaded his people that he had the virtuous character that is a necessary complement of the gifts of blood. He entered the monkhood for a token 15 days in 1956 on the death of his grandmother; he consulted numerologists and patronised magic-practising monks and performed all the ceremonies required of a Dharmaraja.
He did everything to convey that he was indeed "the Strength of the Land" (the meaning of his name) and possessed the numinous power to hold his nation together. This was not in fact continuity, but a studied revival of practices that lapsed with the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932. "The God-like status of Bhumibol," wrote political scientist Michael Connors, "was not part of the family treasure, but something he and hundreds of officials in the palace and other agencies have contrived to create." An important aspect of this myth-making was to insist that Bhumibol was serenely removed from the squalor of everyday politics. Speaking of his accession to the throne, he said in 1974, "I was 18, and very suddenly I learned that politics is a filthy business." It was crucial to the success of his image that, in Handley's words, he was "never seen to play politics... An uncrossable chasm was created between the virtuous throne and virtueless politicians".
But like the Japanese attempts to portray Emperor Hirohito as a man above the politics that led to war, the idea that Bhumibol was above the fray was a carefully manufactured lie. He was already wealthy when he came to the throne; according to Forbes magazine in 2008 he was the richest royal in the world, with an estimated wealth of $35bn. In addition to huge land holdings, including nearly 4,000 acres in Bangkok, his Crown Property Bureau is the majority shareholder of Siam Cement, the biggest conglomerate in the country, and has ruthlessly redeveloped historic parts of the capital for profit. His closest allies are in the business world and the military. Over the years, behind the carefully maintained façade of piety and political neutrality, a monarchical elite of great power and wealth dug itself in.
The lie was exposed by the emergence of Thaksin Shinawatra, the policeman turned telecoms billionaire who set up a political party, Thai Rak Thai (Thai loves Thai) in 1997, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. Since the mid-1950s, King Bhumibol has claimed to be the friend of Thailand's poor by sponsoring rural development projects including a bridge, a dam and irrigation projects and by carrying out a token land reform project on royal land.
But as Bangkok boomed through the 1970s and 80s, much of the countryside was left behind. In his bid for power, Thaksin vowed to help poor farmers by paying off their debts and raising the minimum wage. He came to power in 2001 and was as good as his word; though accused of numerous serious abuses, no one disputes he did a great deal to help the rural poor in the north-east, in the process exposing the royal development efforts as token.
...more in The Guardian - Al Jazeera - The Independent - France 24 - El País - The Irrawaddy

The democratically elected president of Thailand, Mr. Thaksin was ousted from office by a Military coup d'état in 1996. Today, the red-shirts have many demands including the dissolution of Parliament and new elections. One of their protest methods has been to occupy parts of down-town Bangkok. On the weekend of the 10th of April, 2010 the military tried to use force to dispel the protesters resulting with 21 deaths, and over 800 injuries of mostly protestors. This video was shot on Saturday the 10th showing a chaotic but peaceful civil disobedience
...more in The Irrawaddy - Al Jazeeera - The Independent - France 24 - El Mundo


Le roi Bhumibol est la tête couronnée la plus riche: Le roi de Thaïlande Bhumibol Adulyadej est la tête couronnée la plus riche du monde avec une fortune estimée à 35 milliards de dollars, la reine Elizabeth II est au 12e rang et n'atteint pas le milliard de dollars, selon un classement publié par le magazine "Forbes". Le bi-mensuel américain publie dans son dernier numéro une liste des 15 rois, reines, cheikhs ou princes les plus fortunés, en précisant qu'aucun d'entre eux ne peut figurer dans le classement annuel des milliardaires que dresse Forbes parce que ces fortunes sont héréditaires, souvent partagées entre membres de familles élargies, et destinées à garantir l'assise d'une nation ou d'un territoire. Après le roi de Thaïlande, qui est âgé de 80 ans, viennent quelques émirs du pétrole, dans un mouchoir de poche: le cheikh Khalifa Ben Zayed Al-Nahyan, président des Emirats arabes unis (60 ans, 23 milliards), le roi Abdallah d'Arabie Saoudite (84 ans, 21 milliards), le sultan de Brunei Haj Hassanal Bolkiah (62 ans, 20 milliards) et le cheikh Mohammed ben Rachid Al Maktoum de Dubaï (58 ans, 18 milliards), un des Emirats arabes unis. Le dernier possède également une fortune immobilière composée d'un hôtel à New York, l'Essex House, des fermes dans le Kentucky (centre-est des Etats-Unis) et en Australie et des parts du grand magasin Barney's à New York, précise le magazine. La plupart de ces princes possèdent d'ailleurs des parts dans des fonds souverains qui ont racheté des dizaines d'entreprises occidentales et investi dans des banques, notamment Citigroup dont le fonds souverain d'Abou Dhabi est devenu le premier actionnaire, rappelle Forbes. Le plus jeune monarque est aussi le dernier, le roi Mswati III du Swaziland, 40 ans et 200 millions de dollars, et les deux femmes de la liste sont, à la 12ème place, la reine Elizabeth II d'Angleterre, 82 ans et 650 millions de dollars, et à la 14ème la reine Béatrix de Hollande, 70 ans et 300 millions de dollars. Un seul monarque ne règne pas sur un territoire mais sur des fidèles: il s'agit du prince Karim Aga Khan, chef spirituel de 15 millions de musulmans ismaéliens, dont la fortune est estimée à 1 milliard de dollars. Le sixième au classement, le Prince Hans-Adam II du Liechtenstein, 63 ans et 5 milliards de dollars, a eu des ennuis récemment lorsque la banque familiale, LGT, a été l'objet d'une enquête après que les services secrets allemands eurent acheté à un informateur des données bancaires confidentielles. Le prince a aussi près de 20.000 hectares de terres en Autriche, plusieurs palais au centre de Vienne et une collection d'art ancien, indique le journal. ...publié par France 24


Trabajadores de ONG, acusados de violar a niños: Una ex senadora asegura que los abusos han aparecido en Internet ... Tailandia endureció sus leyes respecto a la prostitución infantil, pero el país se ha convertido en lugar de paso para las mafias que explotan a los pequeños en los países vecinos, con legislaciones más laxas. Diversas ONG se ocupan de rescatar y atender a los niños explotados. Pero su trabajo se puede ver ahora afectado porque una ex senadora tailandesa ha denunciado que algunos trabajadores de estas ONG han cometido abusos contra niños, en algunos casos violados, y las imágenes se han difundido por Internet. "Las ONG ofrecen a niños de varias tribus indígenas financiar sus estudios y darles asilo. Entonces, algunos de los trabajadores aprovechan el respeto que los niños les tienen para abusar sexualmente de ellos. Algunos han sido violados". Esta es la denuncia que difundió ayer la ex senadora tailandesa Tuenjai Deethes a través del prestigioso periódico The Nation. La ex senadora aseguró que incluso han sido puestas en Internet fotografías de los menores, de entre 8 y 15 años con fines comerciales. "Tengo miedo en que esto se convierta en una forma de tráfico de niños por Internet", dijo. ...más en diario El País - Periodista Digital



Protecting Indonesia's street children
101 East looks at the complex issues surrounding the country's street children.

As Indonesia forges ahead on its path to becoming an Asian economic powerhouse, many of its citizens are being left behind. Among them are hundreds of thousands of children who live and work on the streets.
Indonesia has 300,000 registered street children but many are being abused and exploited, even killed. Everyday, they face violence, sexual abuse, exploitation and social discrimination.
In January, Jakarta police found the decapitated and mutilated body of a nine-year-old street child.
The news caused national outrage, especially after the killer, known as Babeh, or Father, confessed to at least 14 other rapes and murders, all of boys who lived and worked on the streets of Jakarta.
Indonesia's government says it aims to clear Jakarta's streets of homeless children by 2011 and nationwide in the next five years. But critics doubt these goals are achievable.
On this edition of 101 East, we look at the complex issues surrounding Indonesia's street children and ask: who is protecting Indonesia's children?

...more in 101 East in Al Jazeera


Las fuertes lluvias e inundaciones en la capital indonesia dejan sin hogar a 190.000 personas y varios muertos: La situación en Yakarta ha empeorado por las continuas lluvias torrenciales que afectan a la capital indonesia y otras localidades colindantes, que han dejado sin hogar a unas 190.000 personas, mientras se teme que unas 20 hayan muerto. Según la agencia de noticias 'Antara', las intensas precipitaciones han provocado el desbordamiento de varios ríos que cruzan la capital, y los equipos de rescate han tenido que improvisar balsas con trozos de madera para sus operaciones de rescate, ante el escaso número de botes neumáticos a su disposición. ...más en diario El Mundo.



Nepal acaba con más de dos siglos de monarquía degenerada y tiránica:

El rey será destronado en abril y la guerrilla maoísta se integrará en el Ejército. El Parlamento de Nepal ha decidido establecer una república federal democrática. El impopular rey Gyanendra será destronado en abril tras la celebración de las elecciones generales y la guerrilla maoísta se integrará en las Fuerzas Armadas. "La revolución ha terminado. El pueblo ha vencido". Diamond es rotundo. Ha pasado una década en la jungla del centro-oeste de Nepal luchando contra la monarquía, y ahora se siente libre. Hace tiempo que no dispara el viejo fusil ruso que ha empuñado durante una guerra civil que ha costado la vida de 13.000 personas. Ahora se dispone a dejarlo junto al alias que le ha acompañado en la batalla. Cambiará su identificativo del Ejército Popular de Liberación (la guerrilla maoísta) por un cargo de oficial en las Fuerzas Armadas. Nepal ha dado la bienvenida a 2008 con un vuelco político que pone fin a más de dos siglos de monarquía. El 28 de diciembre, el Parlamento interino decidió por una amplia mayoría despojar al rey Gyanendra de su papel como jefe de Estado, que recae ahora sobre el primer ministro, y reformar la Constitución. Se ha plasmado así el acuerdo al que habían llegado la coalición de siete partidos que gobierna y el partido maoísta, convertido en la segunda fuerza política del país. Según Narayan Wagle, editor jefe del diario Kantipur Daily, "éste es un proceso que no tiene marcha atrás a pesar de que existen elementos extremistas en el Ejército, que todavía son partidarios del rey". ...más en El País


Father Thaddeus Nguy?n Van Lý (born May 15, 1946) is a Roman Catholic priest and prominent Vietnamese dissident involved in many pro-democracy movements, for which he was imprisoned for a total of almost 15 years:
For his ongoing imprisonment and continuous non-violent protest, Amnesty International has adopted Nguyen Van Ly in December, 1983 as a Prisoner of conscience. Most recently, his support for the Bloc 8406 (Kh?I 8406 in Vietnamese) Manifesto has led to his sentence on March 30, 2007 for an additional eight years in prison. HISTORY Father Nguyen Van Ly began his dissident activities as early as the 1970s. He spent a year in prison from 1977 to 1978, and an additional nine from May 1983 to July 1992 for "opposing the revolution and destroying the people's unity (meaning: Vietnamese communist dictatorship). In November 2000, Nguyen Van Ly gained global and official attention when members of the Committee for Religious Freedom visited him in his village, during the visit of U.S. president Clinton to Vietnam. On May 17, 2001 Father Ly was arrested at An Truyen church, for his alleged "failure to abide by the decisions on his probation issued by authorized State agencies,"and received in October 2001 another prison sentence of 15 years for activities linked to the defense of free expression. The sentence was later reduced several times and he was finally released in February 2004. As a result of international pressure, Father Ly was released from prison in early 2004 but remains under house arrest in the Archdiocese of Hue. On April 8, 2006, Father Ly collaborated with other writers on the "Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam." Later on, the signers of this Manifesto called themselves "Bloc 8406," with reference to the date of the document. On April 15, 2006, Father Ly and three other Catholic Priests published the first issue of "Free Speech" (in Vietnamese T? Do Ngôn Lu?n), an underground online publication ( On September 8, 2006, Father Ly participated in the establishment of the Vietnam Progression Party (in Vietnamese Ð?ng Thang Ti?n Vi?t Nam). 2007 ARREST & SENTENCE On February 19, 2007, security police surrounded and raided Hue Archdiocese to ransack the office, confiscate computers and arrested Father Nguyen Van Ly. They moved him to the remote location of Ben Cui in central Vietnam, where he was under house arrest; Father Ly engaged in a hunger strike from February 24 to March 5. As a member of the Bloc 8406 pro-democracy movement, Nguyen Van Ly was sentenced again on March 30, 2007 by Vietnamese provincial court Judge Bùi Qu?c Hi?p for eight years in prison for committing "very serious crimes that harmed national security" by trying to organize a boycott of the upcoming election. The court appearance was televised in Vietnam, with foreign reporters allowed to attend. During the trial, when Father Ly tried to shout an unauthorized, dissident remark, ("Ð? Ð?o C?ng S?n", meaning "down with communism") he was immediately held silent with a hand over his mouth by the security officer behind him. The video and image was widely circulated afterwards on the internet. The arrest has been condemned by leaders including US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which calls this a "negative development". After Father Ly's arrest, US Congressman Christopher Smith introduced a House Resolution to call on Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release Father Ly and his collaborators and US Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren wrote a letter to the US Secretary of State to urge the US State Department to re-designate Vietnam on the US Countries of Particular Concern List due to its violations of human rights and religious freedom. ...more in The Irrawaddy

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