PM appeals to lawmakers
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday urged lawmakers to engage in “responsible” debate as the government seeks to push the annual budget and controversial economic reforms to spur the economy through parliament. Past parliamentary sessions have been stormy with lawmakers accusing the government of corruption, resulting in the passage of little legislation. “The way we conduct financial business before parliament will be a crucial test of how we deal with the formidable challenges we face,” he said, referring to an economy growing at a decade low and sharply deteriorating public finances. The nation is struggling to avert a ratings downgrade of its sovereign debt to junk status due to its worsening finances and growth expected to be as low as 5 percent in the fiscal year ending next month.
People told to flatten tombs
Villagers in Henan Province who secretly rebuilt tombs after they were flattened by officials to provide more farmland are being forced to pull them down again, local media reported yesterday. Local authorities caused an uproar last year when they demolished 2 million tombs, and residents re-erected hundreds of thousands of them over the Lunar New Year holiday, the Southern Metropolis Daily said. Officials halted the “flatten graves to return farmland” policy in November in the wake of the outcry. However, a report in the official Henan Daily newspaper said residents had “misunderstood” new rules on burials, wrongly believing that authorities would not act to remove rebuilt tombs. A local official quoted in the Southern Metropolis Daily said: “The action of flattening the tombs for the second time is proceeding. This started on Feb. 14 and is nearing completion.”
Netizens angry over trial
Netizens yesterday cried foul over the trial of an elderly man for an alleged murder decades ago during the Cultural Revolution. “The biggest murderer in the Cultural Revolution has no responsibility, while a common murderer is held accountable decades later,” attorney Liu Xiaoyuan (劉曉原) wrote on his microblog. The state-run China News Service reported on Wednesday that a man in his 80s, surnamed Qiu, had gone on trial in Zhejiang Province this week for the 1967 murder of a doctor suspected of being a spy. It said Qiu was a member of “an armed group” during the Cultural Revolution and was arrested in July last year. Another microblogger called Qiu a “pawn,” adding: “You don’t dare punish” people who should be held accountable such as senior officials. A woman at the People’s Court in Zhejiang City yesterday said the trial had been completed and a verdict could come in the next few days. “There is a high chance we will give him a suspended sentence,” she said, citing Qiu’s advanced age.
Gunmen kill eight soldiers
Unidentified gunmen yesterday shot dead eight soldiers and seriously wounded another in two separate incidents in Papua, provincial military spokesman Jansen Simanjuntak said. The first incident took place in Puncak Jaya District at 9:30am, when an armed group opened fire on a military post in Tingginambut Village, killing one soldier and injuring another, he said. The second attack occurred an hour later in the neighboring district of Sinak, about 60km away, when armed attackers shot at nine soldiers walking to a nearby airport, killing seven. Simanjuntak said the perpetrators had not been identified.