Bus crash kills 15 children
A bus taking elementary-school students home slipped off a country road into an irrigation ditch in Jiangsu Province, killing 15 children and highlighting continuing safety problems in the country’s school transport system following a similar tragedy last month. Workers at a nearby factory heard cries for help and rushed to the overturned bus, broke open the windows and began pulling children out. At least 15 children died and eight others were injured, one of them seriously, a spokesman for the Jiangsu provincial government said. Xinhua news agency said yesterday that the bus was carrying 29 students and was designed for 52 people, so it was not overloaded.
Sultan of swing now king
An 84-year-old sultan known as an avid fan of soccer and singers such as Frank Sinatra became Malaysia’s new king yesterday, the oldest constitutional monarch in the Southeast Asian nation’s history. Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah took his oath of office in a nationally televised ceremony attended by hundreds of dignitaries at a glittering yellow hall in Malaysia’s new federal palace. Under a unique system maintained since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, nine hereditary state rulers take turns as the country’s king for five-year terms. The monarch’s role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament, but he is highly regarded as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and the symbolic head of Islam.
Activists urge graft action
Environmental groups want the authorities to arrest a powerful state governor and 13 relatives accused of massive graft. Signatories including Greenpeace and the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund released a letter sent to the government that urges the immediate arrest of Abdul Taib Mahmud, chief minister of Sarawak State since 1981. Taib opponents have long alleged systematic corruption and plundering of the rich natural resources of Sarawak, located on the northern portion of Borneo, by Taib, 75, and his family. The letter alleged crimes including illegal appropriation of public funds and land, abuse of office, fraud, money-laundering “and conspiracy to form a criminal organization.”
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
PM’s election ruled invalid
The Supreme Court has ruled the election of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was unconstitutional and restored his predecessor Sir Michael Somare as the South Pacific nation’s leader. The decision was handed down in a 3-2 ruling on Monday hours after O’Neill’s government passed a series of retrospective laws legalizing its decision to dump Somare from office while he was in Singapore recovering from a heart condition. The court found that there was no vacancy in the office of prime minister on Aug. 2 and that the vote of 70 to 24 lawmakers that elected O’Neill was illegal.
Shearer to head opposition
A political novice with a background as a UN aid worker in world trouble spots was yesterday elected leader of New Zealand’s main opposition Labour Party. David Shearer, 54, who entered parliament in a by-election just over two years ago, takes over from Phil Goff, who resigned the party leadership after a crushing defeat in a general election last month. Shearer turned to the political battleground after a career delivering humanitarian aid in areas including the Balkans, Somalia and Iraq.