The Thai premier replaced his defense and agriculture ministers yesterday in a cabinet reshuffle sparked by growing crises over a separatist insurgency and bird flu. \nGeneral Chetta Thanajaro lost his job as defense minister less than seven months after being appointed as he took the blame for continuing violence in the Muslim-majority south that has left more than 315 people dead this year. \nAnother general, Sumpan Boonyanun, takes the job after reports that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra decided against doubling up and taking the post himself. \nSomsak Thepsuthin was shifted from agriculture minister to become one of the country's seven deputy premiers as Thailand struggles to get a grip on bird flu that has killed at least 11 people this year. \nDeputy Premier Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, a Muslim widely seen as carrying the can for the failure to stem separatist violence in the south when he lost his job as interior minister in another reshuffle in March, was moved to take the vacant agriculture job. \nThe deputy health minister was also moved on a week after Thaksin warned that heads could roll within his government because of failures in tackling bird flu. \nSuchai Charoenrattanakul, his replacement and a doctor specializing in respiratory ailments, will be given a key role in tackling the human outbreaks of bird flu. \n"These cabinet changes were aimed at tackling both bird flu and unrest in the south and I will personally supervise the security issue," Thaksin told reporters shortly after the new list was announced. \nHe did not rule out the possibility of another reshuffle ahead of next year's election. \n"I will not reshuffle if it's not necessary. It's not fun at all, but if I have to do it I must do it," he said. \nYesterday's wide-ranging reshuffle, Thaksin's 10th since coming to power in 2001, comes just a few months ahead of a general election tentatively scheduled for February next year. \nIt saw a total of three ministers dismissed, six moved and three new faces brought in, and affected 12 portfolios, according to an official announcement after Thailand's king backed the changes late Tuesday. \nThaksin is tipped to secure re-election in the next vote but has been buffetted by bird flu, unrest in the Muslim-majority south and corruption allegations levelled against his administration. \nThaksin announced a war on bird flu earlier this month after the country reported its first probable case of human-to-human transmission. \nThe incoming agriculture minister said he was confident he could successfully fulfil Thaksin's goal of making Thailand bird-flu free by the end of the month, although the World Health Organization and his predecessor have said it was unlikely to be achieved. \n"I am not worried at all. I will work to my utmost capacity to address the bird flu crisis," Wan Muhamad Noor Matha told reporters.
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,