Saudi journalist detained
Police said they detained a Saudi journalist who apparently fled his country after being accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed on Twitter. Jeddah-based newspaper columnist Hamza Kashgari triggered an uproar in his country this month after tweeting remarks about the prophet that many considered offensive. Kashgari was held on arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Thursday, a federal police official said yesterday on condition of anonymity.
Heavy snowfall continues
The north was bracing for more heavy snow yesterday, as severe winter weather continues to cause misery across a large part of the country, claiming at least 83 lives so far. Forecasters were predicting up to 60cm of snow would fall in parts of the northernmost island of Hokkaido and in the north of Honshu over 24 hours. In Sukayu, Aomori Prefecture, where the temperature dropped to minus-12.8°C yesterday, more than 4m of snow is already lying on the ground. In Hijiori, Yamagata Prefecture, where the average annual snowfall is 2.6m, there is already 4m of snow. The snow has extended over a wide area of the country with Kasumi, Hyogo Prefecture, getting 82cm, nearly seven times its annual average.
Officials’ speeches to be cut
Long-winded politicians in Guangzhou may find themselves reined in, as city officials consider restricting the length of interminable speeches. Wan Qingliang (萬慶良), the city’s Chinese Communist Party secretary, has put forward a proposal that would require officials to limit their speeches to under an hour at key meetings and less than 30 minutes in less important gatherings, a media report said. “I have already set an example myself by finishing my speech at 58 minutes,” Wan was quoted as saying by the Guangzhou Daily. Officials often make speeches that go on for hours, delivered in a monotone, and audience members are sometimes caught dozing off, even in big events broadcast live.
Drug ring smashed
Police said yesterday they smashed a “sophisticated” drug ring smuggling narcotics from Iran in fruit juice cartons, seizing A$25 million (US$26.8 million) of heroin and methamphetamine. New South Wales Organised Crime Squad arrested a 43-year-old Iranian-born man they believe was the head of a major drug distribution network after raiding the storage facilities of a Sydney food import business this week. They found nearly 50kg of heroin and more than 21kg of methamphetamine. “That’s a significant seizure, taking almost 250,000 deals of heroin and more than 200,000 deals of ice off the street,” squad director Mal Lanyon said. More than A$300,000 in cash, a large range of jewelry and valuable securities were also seized.
‘Saffron’ monk detained
A prominent Buddhist monk was detained for questioning yesterday, less than month since he was freed from jail where he was sent for leading an anti-government uprising, an official said. Gambira was one of hundreds of political prisoners released last month, cutting short a 68-year jail term imposed for his key role in the 2007 “Saffron Revolution.” Since he was freed, Gambira has breached regulations by breaking into monasteries that were closed by the government following the mass monk-led demonstrations, the official said on condition of anonymity.