Joint patrol agreed upon
Beijing has signed an agreement with Vietnam to engage in joint military patrols of the Gulf of Tonkin where the two nations have been involved in a border dispute for years. The deal was signed on Wednesday between Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan (曹剛川) and his visiting Vietnamese counterpart Pham Van Tra. "China and Vietnam are friendly neighbors, in recent years the mutual confidence in the political area has continued to deepen and military exchanges are increasingly deepening," Cao said. In August the two sides agreed to speed up the demarcation of their shared border and were expected to finalize a border treaty that would also include neighboring Laos within a year's time.
Gay Web site banned, fined
The government banned a gay Web site and fined another after both were deemed to carry offensive content. The Media Development Authority in July put one of the sites on a list of 100 that are banned, after officials received complaints that it promoted promiscuous homosexual behavior and recruited underage boys for sex and nude photography, the Straits Times reported. The ban means that Web surfers in Singapore can no longer access the site, which is based overseas. Most of the banned sites on the list contain pornographic material. A local Web site called "Meet Gay Singapore Friends" obeyed a government warning to remove allegedly offensive content and was fined S$5,000 (US$2,960). Singapore bans gay sex, defining it as "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. There have been few prosecutions, however.
Model's drug trial begins
Wearing a white Muslim headscarf, an Australian model went on trial in Bali yesterday after being caught with ecstasy. Michelle Leslie is facing charges of possession carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years. However, she also faces a charge of receiving drugs as a user, which carries a three-month term. Local reports have said Leslie converted to Islam after she was arrested. "Michelle Leslie was caught early on Aug. 20, with two pink ecstasy pills in her handbag," prosecutor Risman Tarihoran told the court. Leslie has told the police the pills were not hers and were put in her bag by someone else.
■ New Zealand
Too many Maori in jail
The high crime rate among native Maori is worrying Justice Department officials. Maori comprise 14.5 percent of the country's population of 4 million but make up more than half the 7,500 people in jail for serious crimes, according to a Justice Department report issued yesterday. The report said the department was working with Maori community leaders to lower the Maori crime rate. But Green Party spokeswoman Sue Bradford said the high Maori crime rate was the result of high unemployment and lack of affordable housing following the 1980's economic reforms. The report said that overall crime in New Zealand was continuing to decrease.
Girl sold twice in a day
Police yesterday were applauding the bravery of a 15-year-old girl who, after being raped and sold twice in one day by traffickers, made her way back home from Thailand and led police to the two women whom she alleges first sold her. The girl, whose name was withheld, alleged she had first been tricked by fruit shake vendor Sang Navy, 39, and her niece Song Leb, 19, who introduced her to a Cambodian man they said was a trusted customer and told her it was okay to go for a walk with him and get something to eat. She woke up naked and locked in a room in a hotel on the Thai border the next morning. She was then apparently sold again and taken to Bangkok, where she was again locked in a room and abused. However this time the girl managed to escape and to find her way back home where she reported her experiences to police.