■ Hong Kong
Tsunami survivor convicted
A woman who survived the Indian Ocean tsunami was convicted of social welfare fraud after being caught out by news reports of her ordeal, a newspaper reported yesterday. Leung Wat-kei's story of her seven-hour ordeal adrift at sea with her husband near Phuket, Thailand, appeared in Hong Kong newspapers after the Dec. 26, 2004 disaster. However, it was spotted by the social welfare department, which checked and found she was claiming benefits as a single parent after claiming she lost touch with her husband.
Party leader to step down
The head of the junior party in Japan's ruling coalition will not seek a new term after his current one expires in October, a news report said yesterday. Chief Representative Takenori Kanzaki of the New Komeito Party has decided to not stand in the party's leadership contest so the party can be rejuvenated ahead of next summer's upper house elections, Kyodo News agency said, citing unidentified party sources.
Childless women a worry
More than half of Japanese women born in the early 1970s were still childless at 30, intensifying fears about the nation's already low birthrate, Japanese media said yesterday. The baby shortage, which has contributed to a decline in the overall population that began last year. According to Health Ministry figures released late on Friday, 50.3 percent of women born between 1971 and 1974 -- what Japan calls the second baby boomer generation -- had had no children by the time they reached 30. "That many women in the second baby boomer generation have few children could mean the birthrate will fall at a faster rate and the population will further decline," said a Health Ministry official quoted by the Kyodo news agency.
Danish diplomats return
Denmark's embassy will reopen tomorrow after a three-week closure following Muslim protests over cartoons of the prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper, the Indonesian foreign ministry said yesterday. Denmark withdrew the Jakarta embassy's diplomats and staff on Feb. 11 citing security threats in the world's most populous Muslim nation. The Danish government has urged all its citizens to leave Indonesia, warning of the danger from Muslim radicals seeking revenge for the cartoons. Foreign Ministry spokesman Desra Percaya said Denmark apparently believes the situation is safer now. "We have received a confirmation today from Danish the ambassador that they will reopen their embassy next week on Monday," Percaya said.
Suicide Web man expelled
The government yesterday deported a US citizen who operated a Web site promoting Cambodia as a place for foreigners to commit suicide, a police official said. Roger Graham, 57, was taken into police custody on Thursday from his residence in Kampot province, said Police General Sok Phal. ``He [Graham] was sent out from Cambodia this morning'' Sok Phal said. ``His Web site lured people in the world to come to commit suicide in Cambodia,'' the general said. ``Cambodia is not the place for foreigners to come to kill themselves.'' In November last year, Kampot provincial authorities sued Graham for defaming the province. He was summoned for questioning at the court but was never tried.
Police beat up journalists
Police beat up at least nine journalists who covered the temporary detention of an opposition candidate, Alexander Kozulin, in the capital Minsk on Thursday, global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement late on Friday. "These incidents are unacceptable and fuel fears of a presidential election [slated for March 19] in a climate of terror, without a shred of freedom or democracy," it said. Some of the journalists were temporarily detained, while others were hospitalized after having been beaten up, the RSF said.