Toilet revolution planned
The deputy prime minister has called for a "toilet revolution," saying dirty facilities frighten away tourists and reflect poorly on the country. Opening the nation's first ever "toilet expo" on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said the cleanliness and beauty of a country's toilets were a measure of how civilized it was. "Try to imagine dirty, disgusting toilets that make you nauseous -- these will surely give us a negative image," Najib was quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency.
Shrine may revise exhibit
Officials at Yasukuni shrine are to revise part of an exhibition that says Japan was forced into World War II by the US, a person involved in the project said yesterday. However, the changes to a military museum on the site of the shrine will not include Japan's actions in China and Korea, said Hisahiko Okazaki, a political commentator who has been asked to help oversee the revisions. "We are going to put a more objective commentary concerning Japan's entry into World War II," Okazaki said.
Dalai Lama boosts faith
The Dalai Lama elevated a group of Mongolian monks into the Buddhist priesthood's higher ranks yesterday, bolstering the country's traditional faith, which is struggling to re-establish itself following decades of communist persecution. With hundreds of onlookers gathered under outside, the secret initiation ceremony was held in a temple at Gandantegcheling monastery, the main seat of Mongolian Buddhist worship and learning in Ulan Bator. No details were released and it wasn't known how many monks had been promoted.
Prince's kids can visit mom
A prince who snatched his two children from their Australian mother 14 years ago said he had no objection to their trips to visit her in Australia, but that they wouldn't stay permanently, news reports said yesterday. Raja Bahrin Raja Ahmad Shah, a member of royalty in northeastern Terengganu state, told the Malay-language Utusan Malaysia newspaper that he was "not so cruel as to stop them from visiting their mother." Raja Bahrin took his son Iddin and daughter Shahirah, who were then nine and seven respectively, from the home of his divorced wife, Jacqueline Pascarl-Gillespie, in Australia's southern city of Melbourne in 1992.
Maoist rebels clash
Rival factions of Maoist rebels clashed in the south, beating each other with batons and rocks, and wounding at least 18 people, an official said yesterday. The fighting, between the mainstream Maoists and a group who were expelled earlier in the week, took place late on Thursday in the remote town of Kalaiya, about 400km south of the capital, Kathmandu, said Bhola Siwakoti, chief administrator in the area. "The clash erupted as a group of Maoists organized a demonstration to protest against their [former] local leader's decision to expel them from the party," Siwakoti said. The local mainstream leader, Jameen, who goes by just one name, told reporters that they were expelled for their involvement in extortion, intimidation and other criminal activities.
North Koreans denied entry
Six North Koreans who sought to attend a religious conclave were denied entry visas under tightened restrictions in the wake of Pyongyang's missile tests last month, a news report said yesterday. The Justice Ministry refused permission for six North Koreans representing Christian and Buddhist organizations to enter the country in order to attend a conference that begins today in the western city of Kyoto, public broadcaster NHK said. They were denied entry on the grounds that "they appeared to be linked to North Korean government authorities," the Justice Ministry said.