■ MalaysiaMuslim role seen for Iraq
Malaysia said yesterday that Muslims should take responsibility for peacekeeping in Iraq, but only under the command of the UN Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, speaking on the eve of an Islamic summit, said Muslim countries should not send troops to help the US-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein. "You cannot have peacekeepers from countries which are not Muslim," Syed Hamid told a news conference before the eight-day meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia's new administrative capital, Putrajaya. "It must be done under the umbrella of the UN. We cannot take part if it is still under the United States," he said.
Last WW1 veteran dies
Thailand 's last surviving veteran of World War I, Second Lieutenant Yod Sangrungruang, has died at the age of 106, reports said yesterday. Yod, who was a recipient of France's Legion d'Honneur award, was just 20 years old in 1917 when he joined 1,284 Thai soldiers in volunteering to fight with the Allies in France. He served as a mechanic in France before returning to Thailand in 1919 and was awarded a medal for his services from Thai King Rama VI. In 2000, French President Jacques Chriac awarded Yod the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest decoration.
■ The Philippines
Arroyo favors parliament
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday that she preferred a parliamentary style of government and that she would put it to the electorate when seeking a new term in next year's presidential contest. If she wins the election on May 10 next year, Arroyo would serve for six years, meaning a change of system would be unlikely before June 30, 2010. "A parliamentary form of government improves the political interface between the executive and the legislature and thereby could galvanize reforms more efficiently and effectively," Arroyo said in a statement.
Media warned over SARS
China has stepped up warnings to local authorities against covering up any new SARS outbreak, but has also slapped stern regulations on how the media reports a fresh epidemic. In a speech carried by the People's Daily yesterday, Health Minister Wu Yi (吳儀) said her department would be in charge of reporting any potential new outbreak of the disease and that media outlets could only publish information vetted by the ministry. "The news media must strictly report the outbreak of epidemics in accordance with the circulars issued by the Ministry of Health and must not report any information that has not be verified," Wu said.
■ Hong Kong
Tung opponents plan rally
Opponents of Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) said yesterday they will stage a weekend protest calling for his resignation even though they likely will fail to obtain required insurance to cover potential damage. Police have approved the anti-Tung rally set for tomorrow in a downtown park, but insurance providers have balked at providing any coverage. Although Hong Kong has frequent protests, they are typically peaceful and the demonstrators say the insurance requirement appears to be a government ploy to discourage dissent. "I haven't even been able to get a quote," Anti-Tung Solidarity spokesman Andrew To said by phone
■ United KingdomMoore, Sting honored
Queen Elizabeth II Thursday awarded a knighthood to James Bond star Roger Moore for his services to charity, and also bestowed an honour on rock singer Sting for his musical achievements. The awards, announced in the queen's birthday honors list in June, were made at Buckingham Palace, the monarch's London residence. Moore became Sir Roger following his knighthood while Sting was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) -- one gong away from being knighted. Moore, 75, received the gong for his tireless work for children's charity UNICEF for which he has been a goodwill ambassador for the past 12 years.