■ Hong Kong
Chinese tourists stay away
Mainland Chinese tourists are shunning the territory because they are fed up with overcharging and intense spending pressures, according to news reports yesterday. The number of Chinese visitors during May's week-long Labor Day holiday fell to 285,000, more than 11,000 less than last year, official figures showed. Tour groups from the mainland dropped by almost 20 percent compared to last year, according to the Inland Travel Association, quoted by the South China Morning Post.
Five more perish in heat
Sunstroke killed five people overnight yesterday in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the temperature in the city of Jhansi hit 46oC on Friday, the Press Trust of India said. At least nine heat-related deaths were confirmed on Friday in the eastern state of Orissa but the health department said the actual death toll could be as high as 38 since the onset of the hot weather in the middle of last month.
Troops distribute water
Soldiers handed bucketfuls of drinking water yesterday to quench the thirst of thousands of Bangladeshis staging a noisy protest over a shortage of electricity and water. Witnesses said troops with water tankers moved into the crowded Demra area on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka where angry protesters barricaded a highway on Friday, clashed with police and damaged dozens of vehicles. More than 100 people were injured, including 10 policemen, in the clashes after law enforcers tried to disperse the protesters using batons and teargas. They were protesting against little or no clean water supplies in the area, along with months of daily power failures local residents said.
Mini marathon runner tested
The country's human rights watchdog agency has ordered a state government to investigate whether a four-year-old boy who ran a 65km marathon had been exploited by his sports coach and other officials. Police and state welfare authorities in eastern Orissa took Budhia Singh for medical tests on Friday, but the results were not immediately available, Press Trust of India reported. Budhia was discovered two years ago by sports coach Biranchi Das, who has often been accused of exploiting the boy's athletic talent by forcing him to run long distances for publicity. After receiving complaints from civic groups this week, India's National Human Rights Commission ordered the Orissa government to conduct a health check on the boy and investigate those who organized the run.
Downer voices concern
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed concern yesterday at the make up of the new Solomon Islands government after a politician jailed over recent riots was appointed the nation's new police minister. The Solomon Islands parliament elected Manasseh Sogavare prime minister to replace Snyder Rini on Thursday after Rini's election on April 18 sparked violent riots and looting in the capital Honiara that led to his resignation. Politicians Charles Dausebea and Nelson Ne have been charged over the riots and both remain in police custody, but that did not stop Sogavare appointing them to his new Cabinet, with Dausebea made the country's new police minister. "For these two people to be appointed to the cabinet and for Mr Dausebea to be more than that, appointed responsible for the police, is a matter of deep concern to us," Downer said yesterday.