CPP likely to win local polls
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party was expected to win local council elections yesterday in a vote that monitors say is tainted by vote buying and other irregularities. The elections are viewed as the key indicator of public opinion ahead of next year’s general elections. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has ruled the country for nearly three decades and overwhelmingly won both previous local elections in 2002 and 2007. Ten political parties were vying for seats, but none have the means to compete with Hun Sen’s party, said Koul Panha, executive director of election monitoring group Comfrel. Panha added that there have also been widespread reports of vote buying and intimidation to secure support. King Norodom Sihamoni issued a statement ahead of the election urging voters not to bow to election-related intimidation. “I publicly call on compatriots, brothers and sisters, children, nieces and nephews not to fear oppression, intimidation or threats from any individual or political party,’’ he said in a statement issued in March.
Editor quits over blog posts
A newspaper editor has left his job after comments were posted on his paper’s official microblog mocking the Chinese Communist Party’s insistence that it command the loyalty of the nation’s military. Yu Chen (喻塵) confirmed yesterday that he was no longer the Southern Metropolitan’s in-depth editor. He declined to discuss the reason or other details in a sign of the sensitivity of the matter. However, activist friend Hu Jia (胡佳) said Yu told him he stepped down after the remarks were posted by an unknown person, a claim repeated by online media based overseas. The remarks said that if the party insists on full control over the military, then the people should have the right to form their own army.
Storm turns into typhoon
Five people were missing in yesterday as Tropical Storm Mawar moved away from the country, now as a much stronger typhoon, rescuers said. A seven-year-old boy fell into a river east of Manila and was feared to have drowned, while four fishermen were missing at sea off the country’s east, the Civil Defense Office said. Thirty-two other fishermen were rescued in rough waters off the eastern island of Catanduanes on Saturday, hours after their boat ran out of fuel at sea during the storm, police said. Mawar’s western fringes brushed past the country’s eastern section on Saturday, the state weather service said. The system had maximum winds of about 100km an hour near the center. It became a typhoon early yesterday with maximum winds of 120km an hour, the weather service added.
Farmers await late monsoon
The southwest monsoon has missed its normal arrival date, but forecasters said they were confident the rains would arrive soon. “Most likely, the southwest monsoon will reach Kerala by June 5,” India Meteorological Department director general L.S. Rathore told the Press Trust of India. Normally the rains begin pouring down from June 1 to late September and in recent years they have started early. Rathore said “there is no concern” about the delay, which he attributed to unfavorable weather off shore in the Arabian Sea. Agriculture gets 60 percent of its precipitation from the rains and a bad monsoon can spell financial disaster for the nation’s 235 million farmers, many of whom are smallholders eking out a living.