Candidates gear up for poll
Candidates were yesterday making final appeals to voters ahead of today’s upper house elections that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition is expected to easily win. With the economy picking up, many people are giving credit to the prime minister’s economic policies, dubbed “Abenomics,” that have lifted stocks and eased pressure on exporters by weakening the yen. Polls indicate that the election will give Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner New Komeito a majority of seats in the 242-seat upper house, where half the seats are up for grabs. That would give the LDP-Komeito bloc control of both chambers of parliament, making it easier to pass legislation.
Authorities said on Friday that 27 Indonesians have been rescued after their boat overturned, but one person died and seven others are still missing. Maritime Enforcement Agency official Mustapa Kamal Abas said in a statement that the boat was heading to Indonesia’s Batam Island on Thursday when its engine failed and it overturned after being hit by waves. The people on the boat were working illegally in Malaysia and thought to be returning home for Ramadan. Mustapa said that 28 people, including three women and an infant, hung on to the boat for 12 hours before being rescued by a tanker off Malaysia’s southern Johor state. He said that one of the women died shortly after they were rescued.
Baby elephant tusks seized
More than 1,000 ivory tusks, mainly from baby elephants, were seized by customs in their biggest haul in three years, officials said on Friday. The tusks, which weigh more than 2 tonnes and are worth about US$2.3 million, were discovered at the city’s main port at the Kwai Chung terminal in a cargo container from Togo. It was headed for China and the bags of tusks were hidden beneath planks of wood. “We profiled a container from Togo, Africa, for cargo examination. First, we found irregularities at an X-ray check. Then, we opened the container and discovered the tusks of different sizes,” said Wong Wai-hung, a customs commander. It was the biggest ivory seizure in the southern Chinese city since 2010.
Opposition offices targeted
A gunman fired a shot early yesterday into one of the main offices of the opposition party, a day after the exiled leader of the opposition, Sam Rainsy, returned home to an exuberant welcome by supporters ahead of this month’s general elections. The office in the capital, Phnom Penh, was closed for the night and nobody was injured in the attack. “This attack was orchestrated by those in power,” opposition party spokesman Yim Sovann said. He said security guards were sleeping when the shot shattered a window at about 3am. Police were sent to investigate, Phnom Penh police chief Lieutenant General Chhun Sovann said.
Seven people die in gunfight
Seven people were killed when communist insurgents attacked a rural army outpost on the southern island of Mindanao, the military said yesterday. Six rebels and a pro-government militiaman were killed, while another militiaman was wounded during the five-hour gunbattle on Friday, the military said, adding that the attack only ended after they deployed helicopter gunships.
Woman falls from coaster