Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Thailand
Officials apply to leave

About 5,000 officials have applied to be transferred out of Thailand's Muslim-majority south to escape ongoing attacks by suspected separatists, media reported yesterday. "About half of those officials seeking to move out of the three provinces are teachers who live in fear of the spiralling violence," Southern Teachers Federation chairman Pairat Wihakarat was quoted as saying in the Bangkok Post. Pairat told the daily that the transfer requests had been lodged in March, about two months after an attack on a southern army weapons depot sparked the unrest which has since claimed some 200 lives.

■ Pakistan

US `stripping' denounced

Pakistan has protested what it termed the "virtual stripping" of its nationals by immigration authorities at US airports as a "violation of human rights," news reports said yesterday. In a recent memo, the US Department of Home Security asked officials at major airports to be extra vigilant against travellers of Pakistani origin. Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri told the Senate on Friday that Pakistan has asked its war-on-terror ally to review body search procedures as it was sending very wrong signals among its people.

■ Malaysia

Police prevent self-burial

Malaysian police prevented a Hindu priest from burying himself in a 3m-deep hole in an obscure religious ritual, news reports said Saturday. K. Maniam, 44, had planned to bury himself in the hole for three days, but police intervened on Friday, just minutes before he was about to begin the task near a Hindu temple in Malaysia's northern Perak state. Maniam claimed the effort was meant to "increase his devotional and healing power as well as strengthen his prayer for world peace," the national news agency, Bernama, reported. Police insisted they had no choice but to block the act because it was too dangerous.

■ Philippines

Jay Leno gets no laughs

The president's spokesman wasn't laughing at US talk show host Jay Leno's quip that Philippine peacekeepers established a world speed record in their withdrawal from Iraq. "Our courage has been demonstrated in [the World War II battlegrounds] Bataan and Corregidor and every other field where we have fought," Ignacio Bunye told RMN radio yesterday. "All we can say is that what is first and foremost is the national interest of the Philippines." The previous night, Leno poked fun at the size of the contingent, saying rap artist Sean "P. Diddy" Combs had a bigger crew. At 51, the Philippines had the smallest contingent in the US-led coalition in Iraq.

■ New Zealand

Flight leaves man unhinged

A scenic flight over New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook, left a Japanese tourist open mouthed, the Dominion Post newspaper reported yesterday. Unfortunately, the tourist was not agape at the scenic beauty of the mountain. He had become air-sick, and while using the paper bag provided for such emergencies had dislocated his jaw. His tour guide, also Japanese, took him to Shirley Slatter, a conservation department ranger in Mount Cook village near the airfield. She was unable to help and the man was forced to make an uncomfortable 67km road journey to a doctor in the town of Twizel.

■ Iran
Furor over spy trial

The trial in Iran of an intelligence agent accused of the killing in custody of an Iranian-Canadian photographer resumed here yesterday, bringing with it more scrutiny of the Islamic republic's human rights record. Despite concerns the trial of the alleged killer of Zahra Kazemi would be held behind closed doors, several journalists and foreign diplo-mats were allowed into court. Canada had during the week recalled its ambas-sador from Tehran in protest at being barred from obser-ving the proceedings, and says it is considering sanctions against the hardening clerical regime.

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