Hardliner picked for VP
A retired general, seen as a hardliner for close ties to the former junta and its deadly crackdown on 2007 monk-led rallies, has been nominated to be vice president, a military official said yesterday. Yangon chief minister Myint Swe was selected to replace another hardline army vice president by soldiers in parliament, who make up one quarter of the legislature, Brigadier General Wai Lin told reporters in the capital Naypyidaw. The nominee will later be approved by MPs. State media announced a reshuffle of six deputy ministers late Monday, but did not say whether or not the move was part of a wider reorganization.
Radio Free Asia says a Tibetan man protesting against Chinese rule set himself on fire on Saturday outside an old community hall in Dangxiong County, outside Lhasa. The report cites an unidentified source in Lhasa as saying the man shouted slogans in support of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Officials in Dangxiong either refused to comment or said they had not heard about the case.
President’s brother egged
Enraged protesters have thrown eggs at President Lee Myung-bak’s brother and grabbed his tie as he entered a court for questioning over corruption allegations. The court said it was reviewing whether to arrest the brother, former lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk. Prosecutors have accused him of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from two detained bankers. Lee Sang-deuk wasn’t hit by any of the hurled eggs and didn’t speak to a swarm of reporters gathered at the court. The protesters said they’d lost money after the government suspended the troubled savings banks he is accused of taking bribes from.
Lawmakers try to save PM
Lawmakers have passed a bill that would exempt senior ministers from contempt of court proceedings, a move seen as a bid to save the new prime minister from disqualification. The Supreme Court has given Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf until tomorrow to indicate whether he will obey an order to ask Swiss officials to reopen multimillion dollar corruption cases against the president. The court dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister on June 19 after convicting him of contempt in April for refusing to reopen the cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The bill passed by the lower house on Monday night said senior government figures including the president, prime minister and ministers could not be found guilty of contempt for acts performed as part of their job. The bill must be passed by the upper house and signed off by the president before it becomes law.
Web site protests censorship
The Russian-language Wikipedia Web site shut down yesterday with a stark black line across its main page in protest at a bill it warned could be used to censor the Internet. “Imagine a world without free knowledge,” it said on an otherwise white page, saying amendments to be discussed in parliament today “could lead to the creation of extrajudicial censorship of the whole Russian-language Internet.” The amendments to an information law are being promoted as a crackdown on child pornography in particular, but the Ru.Wikipedia.org site warned that they could “prompt the creation of a Russian version of the Great China Firewall.”