■ Hong KongT-shirts OK for LegCo
Rebel Hong Kong lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) hailed a victory for "common sense" yesterday after he won his battle to wear T-shirts to the territory's legislative council meetings. Leung, known for his trademark waist-length hair and Che Guevara T-shirt, said the decision was a sign that the "old empire" was gone. "There are a lot of things that people just accept but don't know why," said the pro-democracy legislator. "I've been given a mandate to get into the LegCo and speak for the people. We have freedom of expression. I don't see why wearing a T-shirt should be considered disrespectful," he added. Leung had clashed with Legislative Council president Rita Fan (范徐麗泰) over the matter. But the council's sub-committee on rules and procedures has now asked Fan to withdraw a circular asking all legislators to wear collared shirts and jackets to meetings.
Thugs to collect taxes
A Malaysian state will hire former thugs and bullies to get residents to pay their taxes and deal with illegal squatters, a news report said Friday. Shahidan Kassim, chief minister of northern Perlis state, said the government will interview 20 former gangsters and bullies to join an enforcement unit, The Star daily reported. Nobody still facing prosecution would be hired, Shahidan said. Perlis officials were not immediately available for comment on the report. The recruits are to be trained to help the state deal with squatters who build homes illegally on government land and people who refuse to pay their taxes. "With a more physical presence in the enforcement unit, (the unit) may be able to get more ratepayers to settle their dues promptly," Shahidan told The Star. The Perlis chief minister is well known for his unorthodox policies.
Kids survive jungle ordeal
Three Malaysian children survived five days lost in the jungle by consuming water and wild fruits, a report said yesterday. More than 100 rescue workers were involved in the search in central Pahang state for six-year-old Saharuddin Salehuddin, his five-year-old brother Budin and three-year-old sister Mariam since Saturday, the New Straits Times said. The three were found 6km from their house late Thursday, weak and covered with bruises and insect bites, it said. They were sent to hospital for medical treatment. "We just drank water from the puddles [on the jungle floor]. We found some wild fruits in the jungle, but we mostly gave them to Mariam," Saharuddin was quoted as saying. Rubber-tapper Salahuddin Abdul Halim, 41, said he had been losing hope of seeing his children alive.
■ The NetherlandsTraining camp raided
Dutch authorities raided a suspected training camp of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group in the south yesterday, arresting 29 people, prosecutors said. "This was a result of a year-long investigation," a pro-secution spokesman said. "We suspect this was a training camp." He said there was no connection between the raid and others in recent days linked with investigations into sus-pected Islamic militants following the murder of an outspoken filmmaker.
■ United Kingdom
Pole dancing not for kids
A plan to teach children the risque art of pole dancing has been cancelled after an uproar from child welfare groups, the teacher said Thursday. Dance teacher Sarah Davis announced pole dancing classes for children over 12 at her Birmingham studio, arguing it was a demanding activity which would improve fitness. But the charity Childline, which campaigns on behalf of abused and at-risk children, condemned the lessons. "At the least this is misguided, at worst it's an outrage," Childline's top official said. "There are hundreds and thousands of other, much more appropriate ways in which children can keep fit, enjoy sport and dance."