Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 7 News List

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Agencies

SINGAPORE

Official sacked for outburst

An ethnic Chinese trade union executive was sacked after she posted expletives-laden comments about Malay weddings on Facebook, remarks so offensive they prompted the prime minister and other politicians to complain. Amy Cheong, until Monday an assistant director at the National Trades Unions Congress, had asked how many (expletive) days Malay weddings went on for at the foot of public housing blocks. “[Expletive]!!!! Pay for a real wedding u [expletive], maybe then the divorce rate wont be so high! How can society allow ppl to get married for 50 bucks?” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said on Facebook he was shocked to hear of the outrage, illustrating how racial tension remains a key concern in the city-state. “The comments were just wrong and totally unacceptable,” he said. Law Minister K. Shanmugam agreed. “Her comments reflect a deep seated racist attitude, coupled with contempt for those who are less well off, or who wish to spend less,” he said on his Facebook page. “There are deep fault lines in our society, based on race-religion.” The National Trades Unions Congress is an umbrella trade union affiliated to the ruling People’s Action Party and it is headed by Lim Swee Say, a minister without portfolio in the Cabinet. Lim announced Cheong’s sacking on Monday. Ethnic Chinese make up about three-quarters of Singapore’s resident population, with Malays making up another 13 percent and Indians 9 percent.

POLAND

Giraffe dies during surgery

Tofik, a male giraffe who won sympathy in Poland after he lost his two female companions in the wake of an attack by hoodlums near their zoo enclosure, has died during surgery for digestive problems, zoo officials said on Monday. The five-year-old Rothschild giraffe died on Sunday, said Magdalena Janiszewska, the head of the zoo in Lodz. His stomach condition is believed to not be related to the attack. The loss is particularly poignant for the zoo. Two female giraffes that were with Tofik in his enclosure during the May attack died of complications because of stress. “It is a very bad year for us,” Janiszewska said. “It is hard not to talk of bad luck.” The endangered animals earned widespread media attention and compassion in Poland after hooligans tossed garbage cans and benches near their enclosure — frightening the normally skittish animals. After Tofik was left alone, zoo officials brought in three other giraffes to mate with him and keep him company, hoping that it would help his recovery. They had been doing well until he fell ill.

FRANCE

Villagers march to Paris

Laguiole in the Midi-Pyrenees is known for the manufacture of France’s most famous knives, of the same name, a matter of pride for the village’s 1,200 residents. Now they are engaged in a bitter battle over the rights to the name. The row has pitted tradition against trademark, and seen the Laguiolais tear down their village sign and march to Paris. “Our name no longer belongs to us, so what do you want us to do with this sign?” Mayor Vincent Alazard asked a crowd of cheering protesters. Villagers are furious after losing a court battle to reclaim the Laguiole name from a company based in the Paris region which has registered it as a trademark. They have accused the firm of stealing their heritage and, worse, applying the name to cheap products from China. They want the government to introduce rules for regional products similar to the appellation controlee regulations that apply to French wines.

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