■ Thai airport ceremony put off
Thailand would delay an opening ceremony at Bangkok's new international airport due to problems including cracked taxiways, inadequate toilets and complaints of sexual harassment, reports said yesterday. The government was to hold a formal inauguration ceremony this month of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which opened in late September, with an annual passenger capacity of 45 million. But the ceremony, to be attended by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, would be delayed at least six months due to multiple problems, English-language newspapers the Nation and Bangkok Post said. The problems include long waits for luggage, hold-ups at check-in counters, roof leaks and inadequate toilets, the Nation said, adding "uneven and cracked taxiways" were also discovered at the new airport.
NZ backs free trade plan
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke yesterday threw her support behind a US-backed proposal for a massive free trade zone stretching across the Pacific Ocean, saying it was an attractive alternative if global free trade talks fail. Clarke, speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day summit of leaders from the 21-member APEC forum, said the idea was not in conflict with the Doha round of WTO talks, which collapsed in July amid bickering between the US and Europe over farm tariffs. "The key game has to be WTO," she said. "But if Doha stumbles so badly that it went into suspension for years, then of course an agreement which covers countries around about 60 percent of the world economy is very attractive for us," she said.
■ IP protection
China court backs local firm
A Beijing court has ruled China's leading Internet search engine was not guilty of property rights infringement when posting links to Web sites offering illegal music downloads, state press said yesterday. A Beijing intermediate court ruled in favor of Baidu.com (百度) in the lawsuit brought against it by major international music companies, including EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal Music, the Xinhua news agency reported. No date for the ruling was given. The music companies accused Baidu of engaging in illegal downloading and the playing of music owned by the plaintiffs without their permission, the report said. They had demanded a public apology from Baidu, the suspension of its download service and 1.73 million yuan (US$216,250) in compensation, it said.
Major US deal closed
A New York development company closed its US$5.4 billion purchase of one of the US' largest apartment complexes, despite some tenants' claims that the sale isn't allowed under state housing laws. MetLife Inc said on Friday it had finalized the sale of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complex to Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty, the real estate arm of BlackRock Inc, a provider of global investment management and advisory services. Tenants of the 110-building complex had launched their own bid to take over its 11,000 units, most of which are rent-stabilized and priced far below the market rate. This week, the tenants asked the city comptroller to investigate the sale, saying MetLife had not terminated the redevelopment company that managed the complex.