Election legality on trial
The Constitutional Court, spurred by criticism from the king, deliberated yesterday whether to annul last month's election which critics claim was unconstitutional and undemocratic. The court said it would consider three complaints, starting with one lodged by university professors but it was not certain whether a ruling could be issued yesterday, said a court spokesman. The leader of the group of academics, Bancherd Singkanethi, argues that the April 2 election and an April 23 by-election were framed in the form of a referendum to endorse the regime of outgoing Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra rather than a true election as specified by the Constitution.
Revolutionary train tested
A locally made magnetic levitation (maglev) train has been successfully tested, the first time the country has achieved the feat without using foreign technology, the official Xinhua News Agency said yesterday. The train was tested on Sunday in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, Xinhua said. The test train can hold 60 people and travel at speeds of up to 160kph, Xinhua quoted Zhang Kunlun, deputy director of the School of Electrical Engineering at the Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, as saying. Maglev technology uses powerful magnets to suspend a train above a track and propel it at high speeds.
Babies wail for long life
Seventy-four babies born last year were made to cry yesterday at Asakusa in Tokyo while nearly 900 spectators cheered on. In the traditional ritual called Naki-zumo, or crying sumo in Japanese, two babies are held in the arms of university sumo club members and brought to a ring. The one that wails loudest is the winner and is also supposedly blessed with a long and healthy life, following the Japanese proverb "the more babies cry, the healthier they grow up." The presenters who hold the babies try their best to make them cry by pulling faces or wearing scary masks. Babies are crying less and less every year, and the presenters are finding it harder to make them wail, the Mainichi Shimbun said yesterday.
■ Hong Kong
Disney calls in bomb experts
Hong Kong Disneyland confirmed yesterday that it called in experts to advise on whether it should check for unexploded World War II munitions before letting children use a baseball pitch. The theme park was thoroughly checked before opening last September, but park executives have been considering an extra high-tech search. Security contractors have been asked to give an opinion on whether the operation is necessary at the pitch, due to open this summer, on top of the specialist searches conducted in 2002. Disney's concerns over the site, earmarked for future park expansion and given to the teams on a temporary basis, came amid major finds of wartime bombs in other parts of Hong Kong.
Thousands protest Arroyo
Tens of thousands of protesters fanned out across the country yesterday, marking Labor Day with a series of demonstrations calling for the removal of President Gloria Arroyo. In Manila, some 5,000 anti-riot police backed by a 2,000-strong military force were on standby to avert any violence, amid reports that Arroyo's political foes could use the demonstrations to destabilize her government. Protests were also reported in the cities of Davao in the south and Baguio in the north.