Suu Kyi goes walkabout
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi left Yangon for a month-long trip to northern Myanmar yesterday, the first anniversary of her release from house arrest, a party spokesman said. Suu Kyi plans to open branch offices of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Kachin state during the trip, expected to be her longest upcountry tour since her release, said NLD spokesman U Lwin. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was released by the military government after 19 months of house arrest on May 6, last year, and has since been allowed to travel freely around the country. But on at least two occasions she has been obstructed by unidentified people, and her supporters have been intimidated and harassed, according to the NLD.
Everest celebration falls flat
Mount Everest climbers are known to be tough and fearless, but the outbreak of severe acute respiratory (SARS) is keeping many of them away from a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the conquest of the world's highest mountain. Organizers of the celebration say many Japanese, Chinese and Southeast Asian climbers have canceled their trips to Nepal to attend the anniversary later this month because of concerns about being infected with SARS while traveling. "The fear of SARS could hamper the celebrations. We have had a lot of cancellations from Everest summiteers from these countries," Nepal Mountaineering Association's Bhoomi Lama said yesterday.
Blast kills soldier
One person was killed and 25 injured when a powerful explosion ripped through a military ammunition dump north of the Vietnamese capital, local officials said yesterday. "One soldier was killed and nearly 25 people, including military personnel and civilians living near the depot were injured," said an official from the Thinh Dan commune People's Committee. Military sources had earlier confirmed that a soldier had died in Monday evening's blast at the army's Z115 depot, 100km north of Hanoi in Thai Nguyen Province.
Peace talks cancelled
The Philippine government said yesterday it was pulling out of informal talks with Muslim separatist rebels scheduled for this week in Malaysia, citing a guerrilla attack that left 28 people dead. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the government could not tolerate "terrorism in the guise of a fight for freedom." Government negotiators had been scheduled to meet with Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels on Friday in Kuala Lumpur. Arroyo said the meeting would have to wait "until we can establish more auspicious circumstances to move the peace process forward."
■ Hong Kong
Finance chief has car trouble
Hong Kong's financial chief faces a no-confidence motion in the territory's legislature because of a scandal over a luxury car purchase made before a tax increase, but the motion will likely fail, lawmakers said Tuesday. Financial Secretary Antony Leung came under fire after buying a new Lexus in January and then raising auto taxes in March, saving himself HK$190,000 (US$24,359). But the motion probably won't get enough votes in the Legislative Council, which is dominated by pro-government lawmakers, said independent legislator Albert Chan, who supports the motion.
ANC leader dies
Walter Sisulu, a towering figure in the struggle for majority rule in South Africa, has died at the age of 90, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) announced Monday. Sisulu became ANC secretary general in 1949, a post he held until 1954 when banning orders forced him to resign the position. He was one of the accused in a celebrated treason trial of black leaders of the resistance to the apartheid regime. Sisulu served 26 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela, who was to become South Africa's first black president. He had little formal education, worked as a "kitchen boy," as a baker, and as a miner, working deep underground in dangerous conditions.