■ HONG KONG
High-wire smugglers caught
Hong Kong and Chinese customs have cracked an audacious smuggling operation that saw goods worth millions of dollars ferried along a long cable straddling the border, reports said yesterday. The cable was suspended from a high-rise building in Shenzhen and goods were moved 300m to the top of a small village house in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported. For weeks, gang members wrapped cellphones, SIM cards and computer parts in black plastic bags and moved them using a pulley and line in loads of 3kg to 5kg at a time. However, the pulley made so much noise it alerted neighbors who complained to police. The suspects were arrested on Tuesday after a one-week surveillance operation, a customs spokesman said.
Gamblers getting younger
Singaporeans are starting to gamble at a younger age, triggering fears that the city-state could face a wave of betting addicts, a published study said yesterday. Nearly one-quarter of respondents started gambling when they were under 18, up 10 percent over 2005. About 70 percent began wagering regularly before they turned 30, up from 60 percent in 2005, said the findings in the Straits Times. With Singapore’s first two casinos scheduled to open within two years, experts warn the number of addicts could rise. Studies have shown that youth who gamble are up to four times more likely to become addicts than adults.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Woman kills self on plane
A 29-year-old Japanese woman was found hanging from the wall with a scarf around her neck inside the toilet of a Korean Air flight, the airline said yesterday. When the passenger failed to return to her seat as the plane was preparing to land at Incheon airport near Seoul, a flight attendant checked the toilet where she found the woman. She did not respond to emergency medical procedures performed on the plane and was pronounced dead on arrival in hospital. “We’ve heard no suicide note was found,” a Korean Air spokesman said.
Gujjars threaten shutdown
An ethnic group threatened yesterday to bring New Delhi to a halt, blocking key highways and paralyzing trains in a bitter and deadly campaign for more government aid, police and reports said. Thousands of Gujjars squatted on roads into New Delhi at the start of a day-long shutdown, a police spokesman said. Others crowded railway tracks, as several thousand police and paramilitary personnel deployed across New Delhi kept a sharp eye on protesters to prevent violence, reports said. The protest yesterday marked the seventh straight day of the agitation which began in Rajasthan state last week. The Gujjars are demanding classification as a tribe that allows them easier access to government jobs and education.
More grants for non-Malays
The government said yesterday it would double the number of scholarships it gives non-Malays to study abroad, an apparent move to mollify disgruntled ethnic minorities. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz said 900 of the 2,000 government scholarships awarded this year to study at foreign universities will go to ethnic Chinese, ethnic Indians and other minorities. Previously, only about 20 percent of all scholarships went to minorities while the rest went to Malays. Now, minorities will get more than 40 percent of the scholarships, Nazri said.