Singapore a model: Suu Kyi
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi cemented Singapore’s role as a major economic partner and model for her country on a five-day trip to the city-state, taking home what she said were valuable lessons on education policy and anti-graft measures. However, her endorsement came with a caveat — she said her country could do without the materialistic and high-pressure society that has accompanied Singapore’s decades-long transformation from tropical backwater to economic powerhouse. “I want to learn a lot from the standards that Singapore has been able to achieve, but I wonder whether we don’t want something more for our country,” she said. Despite that reservation, Aung San Suu Kyi’s first visit to Singapore is seen as affirming the nation’s close ties with the city-state as it seeks investments and technocratic expertise. She met Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), chief executives from some of the world’s biggest companies and visited the anti-corruption bureau.
‘Sister House’ stands trial
A former banking official accused of amassing a real estate empire of at least 45 properties under multiple fake identities stood trial yesterday for forgery, state media said, in a case that has revealed privileges of the country’s powerful. The trial opened in Jingbian County People’s Court in Shaanxi Province against Gong Aiai (龔愛愛), a former vice president of a local rural bank, Xinhua news agency said. Four former government employees also went on trial for their role in the wrongdoing. Gong denied the charges of forging, buying and selling state identification papers, arguing that all her identification documents were processed by police authorities, state media said. If convicted, Gong would face time in jail. Gong, who allegedly bought at least 45 properties worth US$160 million, came to be known as “Sister House” among the public and fueled public demands that officials declare their assets.
Catholic church stands firm
Catholic leaders are standing firm against contraception, abortion and homosexual marriage despite Pope Francis’ comments urging a change of tone on those issues, the church said yesterday. About 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people are Catholics, making the country the bastion of the faith in Asia, and church leaders insisted that its dogma would remain in place. “He is not saying that what the Church deemed before as wrong is now right. He is merely telling us to be more compassionate,” Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Jose Palma said in reaction to the recent papal statement.
Two die in washing machine
Police were investigating the mysterious deaths of two young sisters found in a bloody washing machine over the weekend, a newspaper reported yesterday. Police in Jiangxi Province have ruled out murder in the case, the Global Times said, citing Xinhua news agency. Police confirmed that the girls died of suffocation, the Global Times report said. However, other domestic reports said police have not ruled out foul play. The newspaper said that the girls — who died on Saturday — were aged four and two, while other reports said three and two. “The father found the girls curled up in the closed washing machine with a lot of blood when he saw the light on the washing machine was flickering,” the children’s grandfather said.
Rolf Harris pleads not guilty
TV entertainer Rolf Harris appeared in court on Monday for the first time accused of 13 child sexual offenses, including nine counts of assault and four counts of making indecent images of a child last year. The 83-year-old Australian entertainer’s lawyer said that he would plead not guilty to the charges in the brief hearing at Westminster magistrates court in London. Harris spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address, and sat expressionless in the glass-encased dock as the 13 charges were read to him by a court official. Harris is accused of three counts of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 1986 and six of indecently assaulting a girl aged between 15 and 16 from 1980 to 1981. He is also charged with four counts of making indecent images of a child between March and July last year.
10 killed in massacre
Two gunmen burst into a home east of the border city of Ciudad Juarez, where people were celebrating a baseball victory and killed 10 people, authorities said on Monday. The killings occurred on Sunday night in Loma Blanca, a town in the Juarez Valley. The dead included a seven-year-old girl, her mother, three teenage boys and five adult men, said Arturo Sandoval, spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutors’ office. The bodies were found scattered over a radius of about 11m around the home, suggesting some had tried to flee when they were gunned down. A man who was at the party said he saw only one young gunman. The man who asked not to be named said the killings was likely motivated by resentment over the team’s victory.
Two policemen detained
Two police officers were arrested for allegedly participating in the killing of 12 young people found in a mass grave after being kidnapped from a Mexico City bar, prosecutors said on Monday. Authorities have not identified the two latest suspects, saying only that they were stationed in the area where the crime took place. The arrests bring the number of suspects in the case to 17, including two owners of the bar. The broad daylight kidnapping happened just steps from the city’s main boulevard. The bodies were unearthed in a ranch outside the capital last month, three months after the disappearance. A 13th body found in the mass grave was actually one of the perpetrators of the crime, media reports said. Prosecutors say the mass kidnapping was ordered as revenge for the murder of a drug dealer.
Gorilla sent for therapy
A male gorilla at the Dallas Zoo will be sent to South Carolina for therapy after he bit one female gorilla and sneered at others, zoo officials said on Monday. Patrick, a 195kg Western lowland gorilla, will be moving to the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, which is known for working with gorillas with behavior problems. Dallas Zoo officials said Patrick gets along fine with humans, but not with other gorillas. They said they have tried repeatedly to socialize him with the other gorillas, particularly the females, in the hopes that he might get along and even breed. Instead, he bit one female and sneered and nipped at others. Patrick was more tolerant of other male gorillas, but seemed only to engage with Jabari, who was shot death by police after he escaped in 2004 and injured three people. Patrick is being moved to make way for the zoo’s two recently acquired male gorillas, including Zola, a breakdancing gorilla who stars in a video that has gone viral on the Internet.