Isnin, 9 Disember 2013

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Thai PM rejects protesters' demand to step down


Bangkok (AFP) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday refused demands by anti-government protesters to resign ahead of upcoming elections, urging them to abandon their "people's revolution".

Bangkok has been shaken by more than a month of mass opposition rallies aimed at ousting Yingluck and ridding the kingdom of the influence of her older brother, deposed former leader Thaksin.

Around 140,000 people were estimated to have gathered in Bangkok on Monday, calling for the elected government to step down.

The protesters are a loosely-allied group united by their animosity towards Thaksin, a billionaire tycoon-turned-politician who was overthrown in a military coup seven years ago but is widely thought to control the government from abroad.

Yingluck, who called an early election on Monday in an effort to calm the political turmoil, said her cabinet was legally-bound to act as an interim government until the polls are held.

"I would like the protesters to stop and to use the electoral system to choose who will become the next government," she told reporters after a cabinet meeting early Tuesday.

A visibly emotional Yingluck -- who said she had not discussed with party colleagues whether she would run in the February 2 election -- reacted angrily to protesters' calls that her family be removed from Thailand.

"I have retreated as far as I can -- give me some fairness," she said.

Rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban has rejected elections and vowed to set up a parallel government that would suspend the democratic system in Thailand and redraw its constitution.

He issued an ultimatum late Monday calling on Yingluck and her colleagues to resign from the caretaker government.

Huge crowds converged on the government headquarters on Monday in one of the largest turnouts since the protests began, bringing with them a caravan of food stalls and vendors of a wide variety of protest paraphernalia -- from t-shirts to tiaras.

Numbers had dwindled dramatically overnight after Bangkok-based protesters returned to their homes to sleep.

Thaksin is loathed by many in the royalist elite and Bangkok middle class, but loved among the working classes and those in his rural northeastern heartland.

His overthrow in 2006 by generals loyal to the king ushered in years of political turmoil and rival street protests by the royalist "Yellow Shirts" and Thaksin's supporters, known as the "Red Shirts".

Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election in more than a decade, but all governments linked to the divisive former premier since 2006 have been cut short by military or judicial intervention without serving a full term.

Observers have raised fears that if another Thaksin-allied government is forcibly removed it could trigger a fresh round of violence in the politically turbulent nation.

Yingluck's ruling Puea Thai Party is widely expected to win the upcoming vote, bolstered by Thaksin's enduring popularity.

The opposition Democrat Party -- whose MPs resigned en masse Sunday because they could not achieve anything in parliament -- has not won an elected majority in about two decades.

Democrat Party officials said Monday they had not yet decided whether to take part in the upcoming election.

Tensions remain high after several days of street clashes last week when police used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against rock-throwing demonstrators.

The unrest has left five people dead and more than 200 injured. Authorities have said they would try to avoid fresh confrontation.

The demonstrations were triggered by an amnesty bill, since dropped by Yingluck's ruling party, which opponents feared would have cleared the way for Thaksin's return.

The former premier went into exile in 2008 to avoid jail for a corruption conviction which he says was politically motivated.

Najib: Khazanah to contribute RM10mil to aid flood victims


NUSAJAYA: Khazanah Nasional Berhad will be contributing RM10mil to aid those affected by the recent floods.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the contribution will go towards rebuilding works and financial aid for flood victims.

"The contribution is to aid the relief, recovery and preparedness efforts in states currently affected by the floods," he said.

Najib made the announcement after launching Traders Hotel Puteri Harbour and Legoland Malaysia Resort here on Dec 10.

Najib added that the overwhelming support shown for both Traders Hotel and Legoland was further proof of the success of Iskandar Malaysia.

"Since its launch in June, Traders Hotel has welcomed 90,000 guests while Legoland Malaysia has received more than two million visitors," he said.

Najib also added that on Tuesday morning, he had attended a meeting with Khazanah's board of directors and had been briefed on their encouraging growth and performance.

"I am confident that future Khazanah projects will also enjoy similar success and details on these projects will be announced from time to time," he said.

North Korea's 'reign of terror' worries South's leader


SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea is engaged in a purge amounting to a "reign of terror" that has claimed the scalp of the country's second most powerful man and risks further damaging relations with the South, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.

Park took office in Seoul earlier this year as North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, enraging world public opinion, and threatened to engulf its southern neighbour and its ally, the United States, in a war. The isolated state shelled a South Korean island in 2010 and is widely believed to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel in the same year.

"North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong Un's power," Park told a cabinet meeting, part of which was broadcast on television.

"From now one, South-North Korea relations may become more unstable."

In her usually carefully scripted manner, the president called for vigilance to safeguard the achievements of the wealthy south.

"In times like these, I think it is a nation's duty and politicians' job to keep people safe and free democracy strong," she told the meeting.

State media on Monday said Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, had been dismissed from his posts for "criminal acts" ranging from mismanagement, corruption and leading a "dissolute and depraved life".

Television in the tightly controlled and impoverished state showed him being frogmarched by uniformed personnel out of a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party.

Associates of Jang are believed to have been executed in the purge of a man once viewed as a regent for Kim Jong Un, aged about 30 and the third of his family dynasty to run the country.


A member of the South's parliament last week also said the young leader had embarked on a lengthy purge of possible rivals.

"Kim Jong Un is strengthening the reign of terror... Last year 17 people were public executed but this year there were about 40," Cho Won-jin told journalists after a briefing by the country's intelligence agency.

It was the NIS intelligence agency that first broke news last week that Jang had been dismissed.

Tension rose sharply on the Korean peninsula earlier this year after the United Nations imposed tough, new sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its latest nuclear test.

It eased as South and North Korea reopened the joint Kaesong factory park in September just north of the heavily militarised border, five months after the North abruptly shut it.

But despite the gesture to reopen the only remaining cooperation endeavour between North and South, Pyongyang again warned it would turn Seoul into a "sea of fire".

The North has repeatedly attacked Park, the daughter of Park Chung-hee, South Korea's long-serving dictator, who laid the foundations for the country's growth and prosperity.

Jang came in for further denunciations in the North's state media on Tuesday as Rodong Sinmun, the ruling party's official newspaper, said people had vented their anger towards him and pledged loyalty to Kim Jong Un.

"It wouldn't be gratifying enough to put them in an electric furnace and burn them," Jin Yong Il, a North Korean worker at a steel complex was quoted as saying by the newspaper, referring to Jang and his entourage.


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