Isnin, 28 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Bomb squad trio killed defusing device in Thai south


BANGKOK, Oct 28, 2013 (AFP) - Three members of a Thai bomb disposal squad were killed Monday as they tried to defuse a device buried in a road in the country's insurgency-racked south, according to police.

The police team was called after a bomb was detected underneath the road in the Bacho district of Narathiwat province - a hotbed of the near decade-long insurgency against Thai rule.

The bomb went off as they tried to make it safe and killed the men instantly, a police officer said requesting anonymity.

"They were experienced members of the police bomb squad who had worked for a long time in the south," he said, adding a second bomb on the same stretch of road was later found and defused successfully.

Rebels fighting for autonomy in Thailand's Muslim-majority south frequently target security forces with roadside bombs.

Experts say the insurgents are deploying increasingly sophisticated and powerful devices, often packed with ball bearings to cause maximum damage.

Bomb squad members are frequently the first on the scene after an attack or once a bomb has been found, leaving them vulnerable to secondary devices planted nearby.

The conflict has left more than 5,700 people dead in the south, the majority of them civilians.

Shadowy groups of Muslim militants have waged near-daily bomb and gun attacks, targeting security forces and civilians from both the Buddhist and Muslim communities.

Violence erupted in 2004 in the Muslim-majority region bordering Malaysia, which was annexed by Thailand more than a century ago.

Bloodshed has continued despite several rounds of tentative peace talks hosted by Malaysia between the Thai authorities and some rebel groups.

But another round of discussions scheduled for October has been postponed amid continuing violence, raising doubts about the likely success of the talks.

Soaking up Biennale art - in sarongs


IT was wet. It was messy. It was fun. And it was art.

The lawn of the National Museum saw 100 women, men and children dressed in sarong wraps, sitting in plastic tubs of water, drenching themselves and having a ball.

They were taking part in a mass Mandi Bunga – flower bath – in a 10-minute performance art piece by Malaysian artist Sharon Chin. It is one of 10 community-driven arts projects featured in this year's Singapore Biennale, which is focused on South-East Asian art.

The flower bath item saw participants meeting at the Singapore Art Museum to collect flowers and herbs for the bath, before crossing over to the National Museum to sit in tubs, pour water on themselves and others and even whip off their sarongs at the end of the performance piece.

Participant Nur Sue'Aldah, 19, an art student, called it "a once-in-a-lifetime experience".

"Mandi Bunga is traditionally a cleansing ritual bath. It was amazing to see how the artist got us all to connect with each other through such a simple ritual," she said.

The Biennale is Singapore's biggest contemporary art event. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

New Express runs front-page apology


BEIJING: A Chinese newspaper issued a front-page apology recanting its bold defence of an employee arrested after reporting on a company's "financial problems", adding another twist to the high-profile media controversy.

The statement was the latest public disavowal of the journalist Chen Yongzhou – despite initial public sympathy after his detention and open support by his employer, the New Express, in a rare act of defiance against powerful state censors.

"This newspaper was not strict enough about thoroughly fact-checking the draft of the report," it said in a small announcement on a bottom corner of its front page.

"After the incident occurred the newspaper took inappropriate measures, seriously harming the public trust of the media."

The paper, which is based in the southern city of Guangzhou, promised to "make serious corrections" and better ensure that its reporters and editors "comply with professional journalistic ethics and regulations".

The statement came a day after Chen appeared on state television in a green prison uniform to "confess" after being arrested more than a week earlier on "suspicion of damaging business reputation".

He had written 15 articles accusing the engineering giant Zoomlion of "financial problems", including inflating its profits.

Zoomlion is about 20% owned by the state and is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges with a total market capitalisation of more than US$8bil (RM25bil).

The official news agency Xinhua said on Saturday that Chen had admitted to "having released unverified and untrue stories about a company for money and fame", and that he had acted "at the request of others".

"I did this mainly because I hankered after money and fame. I've been used. I've realised my wrongdoing," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

The All-China Journalists Association also issued a statement on Saturday criticising Chen's actions and saying that the New Express "seriously neglected its professional duties".

The apology by New Express, a tabloid, starkly contrasted its initial reaction – a full-page editorial printed days after Chen's detention with the front-page headline "Please release our man" in large print.

The arrest had initially elicited public support, with one well-known government researcher, Yu Jianrong, criticising the detention as an "abuse of public power". — AFP


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