Senators slug it out
Two senators fought it out on Monday in front of parliament, but this was no political grudge match — they wanted to promote Thai kickboxing. “It’s good that I can still stand,” 59-year-old Payap Tongchuen joked after going two rounds with Direk Tungfang, 64, in a boxing ring set up in front of the parliament building in Bangkok. The referee declared the fighters — both former professional boxers — joint victors.
Crackdown targets officials
A corruption crackdown in northern China found that nearly 300 local officials spend working hours relaxing in massage parlors, bathhouses and karaoke bars, state press said yesterday. Of the 296 officials busted in Shanxi Province, 79 have been demoted or fired, while the rest also face punishment, Xinhua news agency said. A senior policeman who was found getting a massage in a bathhouse and a leading administrator of a top Shanxi hospital caught playing mahjong in a tea house were among those exposed, it said. “At present, our team of officials in Shanxi Province is basically good, but we still have some problems with the manner in which they work,” Xinhua cited Yuan Chunqing (袁純清), the top provincial party official, as saying. “The biggest problems come up in their leisure, eating and entertainment activities,” he said.
Drill sends hundreds fleeing
The government apologized yesterday to a region where thousands died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami after a botched warning drill caused hundreds to flee their homes. Villagers in Phang Nga Province fled to higher ground on Monday after warning sirens went off intermittently, 30 minutes after a scheduled drill was completed in Ban Nam Khem, a village devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said faulty equipment was to blame. “I want to apologize to the people. I understand they were angry because the alarm sent everyone running but no one should be replaced, it’s not that serious,” he said.
Aquino invokes legacy
President Benigno Aquino III yesterday invoked his parents’ democratic legacy as he sought to reassert his leadership after a hostage fiasco that left eight tourists dead. Speaking before the police forces, Aquino sought to portray last month’s hijacking of a tourist bus as a momentary fumble and insisted that his reform and anti-corruption policies were on track. Amid widespread criticism of his government’s handling of the Aug. 23 incident, Aquino said: “In the name of my parents I will not allow our country to sink no matter how heavy the challenges that may come.” Aquino’s father, a leader of the opposition against Ferdinand Marcos, was shot dead at Manila airport as he returned from exile in 1983. His mother led the revolution that ousted the dictator. “Stop doubting your police forces and your government. After six years I assure you the sole legacy of my administration will be honest service — not corruption, not greed, not any shadow of a past tragedy,” he said.
Plane makes mercy dash
An air force plane made a rare wintertime landing on an ice runway in Antarctica on a mercy mission yesterday to evacuate an American worker in serious medical condition, officials said. Blizzard conditions eased to allow the Orion aircraft to land at the US McMurdo Station science base before refueling and returning to New Zealand.