Tokyo drops Raptor plans
The government is likely to drop its attempts to buy state-of-the-art US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes since it expects the US to stop producing them, a newspaper reported yesterday. The government had been trying to persuade the US to sell it F-22 Raptors to replace its own aging F-15 fleet, despite Washington’s reluctance. Tokyo, however, is now abandoning the plan amid signs that US president-elect Barack Obama’s new administration may halt production of the aircraft, the Daily Yomiuri said, quoting government sources.
Anwar says no ‘Hadud’
The political party of former prime minister Anwar Ibrahim denied yesterday it would push to impose strict Islamic laws, such as punishing theft by amputation, if it came to power. Speculation has been rife about what Anwar’s party would do after a member of his opposition coalition said last week that Hudud — an area of Islamic criminal law covering punishments for certain deeds — would be instituted for Muslims in the multi-ethnic country. The speculation deepened because Anwar has yet to respond to those comments, but a member of his Keadilan party said it had no plans for Hudud in the country. The Muslim-majority country has traditionally been seen as moderate on such issues.
Truck kills 24 hitchhikers
A truck loaded with iron rods veered off a road, killing 24 hitchhikers riding in the back and injuring 13 others yesterday in northern Bangladesh, a traffic police official said. Official A.K.M. Mujibul Haque said the accident in northern Tangail district happened when the driver apparently lost control and the truck fell into a roadside ditch. He said at least 23 people died at the scene while another man died on the way to a local hospital. Tangail is 72km north of the capital, Dhaka. Haque said the truck was heading for the northern district of Bogra from Dhaka, and most of the passengers on the back of the truck were traveling home to cast votes in today’s national elections.
Singh praises Kashmir vote
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the higher-than-expected turnout in elections in disputed Kashmir a “vote for democracy” yesterday, as early counting showed no one party dominating the polls. Despite a boycott call by separatists and armed rebels, more than 60 percent of voters participated in the multi-stage elections that came after a period of direct rule from New Delhi. The elections had to be held in seven stages to ensure security in the Himalayan region, where at least 47,000 people have been killed in violence linked to a long-running Muslim insurgency against New Delhi rule.
Tunnel under Yangtze opens
The country opened its first road tunnel under the Yangtze River yesterday, a move expected to cut travel time and ease traffic congestion in the central city of Wuhan, a state news agency reported. Construction began in November 2004 on the 1.7 billion yuan (US$250 million) tunnel, which stretches for 3.5km under China’s longest river, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The four-lane road connects Wuchang district — which is home to government offices and universities — to the business district of Hankou, and was expected to cut travel time between the two areas from a half-hour to just a few minutes, Xinhua said. It will also relieve traffic congestion in the city, the report said.