Beijing discourages spitting
China's capital wants to discourage people from spitting and littering in its streets as it attempts to clean up its image before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, state media reported on Tuesday. Beijing is also planning to release a new code of conduct for its citizens, updating one released 10 years ago, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Individual bags will be available in taxis, on buses and in public places for people to cough up their phlegm, Xinhua said. Spitting, considered by many in Asia as a natural way to clear their sinuses, topped a list of the most disgusting habits in a survey among 10,000 Beijing residents last year, Xinhua said. Also on the list were littering, dogs fouling the pavement, jaywalking and aggressive jostling by passengers boarding buses, Xinhua quoted officials at Beijing's office for the promotion of social ethics as saying.
■ Hong Kong
Laws target expatriate perks
Some of the bumper pay-and-perks packages handed to some expatriates working in Hong Kong could be outlawed under new anti-racism laws, a news report said yesterday. Officials are preparing an anti-racism bill which would force companies to prove that recruits from overseas have expertise not available in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported. The law will also deny expatriates on big-money deals the right to claim permanent residency in Hong Kong, a privilege extended to foreigners living in the former British colony for seven years. Under the law -- expected to be completed in two months -- it will be illegal for the private sector to discriminate among employees on the grounds of race, color or national or ethnic origin.
`Electricians' rob elderly
Criminals are posing as electricians to gain entry to the flats of elderly people in Singapore, news reports said yesterday. Two men, who both live alone on financial assistance, were robbed in less than a week. Retired temple caretaker Loh Kia Soo, 80, told the Straits Times that the power in his flat went out right before there was a knock on the door from a man who claimed to have come to restore the electricity. Loh was asked to unplug all the electrical appliances and then keep his finger on a switch behind the kitchen wall. When the lights came back on, the thief was gone, along with cash from a pair of trousers.
PM's brother in trouble
The brother of Australian Prime Minister John Howard faces prosecution for felling endangered trees, local media reported yesterday, as Howard prepared to host a major six-nation conference on climate change. The Daily Telegraph said Howard's older brother, Stan, faced a hefty fine or a possible jail term if convicted of knowingly cutting down dozens of threatened species of trees on his property at Bowral, 100km southwest of Sydney. Australia, the US, Japan, China, India and South Korea were meeting in Sydney yesterday and today for the first Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate to fight climate change without sacrificing economic growth.
■ Hong Kong
Maid held over baby death
An Indonesian maid working for a Hong Kong family was being held by police yesterday on suspicion of killing her newborn baby daughter. The 24-year-old was arrested after the infant was found dead of apparent head injuries on a hillside near a housing estate in Chai Wan district on Tuesday. The maid, who is understood to have had a pregnancy she kept secret from her employer, was arrested on suspicion of infanticide and was being questioned yesterday, a police spokesman said. The infant was found by a cleaning worker near the home of the maid's employer. The umbilical cord was still attached and the maid is believed to have delivered the baby herself.