- Thai navy deployed to fight oil spill
- Surprise twist in Cambodian polls
- Beware of elitism, minister warns
BANGKOK: Thai naval vessels joined efforts to stop hundreds of barrels of oil from a pipeline leak in the Gulf of Thailand reaching the kingdom's beaches.
Roughly 50,000 litres of crude oil spilled into the sea on Saturday about 20km off the coast of the eastern province of Rayong, operator PTT Global Chemical said yesterday.
The company, part of state-owned giant PTT, said 10 ships were involved in an urgent clean-up and it was confident of containing the leak.
"The aerial photos taken early morning (yesterday) show that the area of the spill was reduced," the company said in a statement, estimating that up to about 20,000 litres had been cleaned up.
At the same time there were fears about the effect of the chemicals used to disperse the crude oil.
"We still have some concern about the chemical being used, even though it is clear that the oil leak will not reach the beaches or coral," said Marine and Coastal Resource Conservation Center director Phuchong Saritsadeechaikol in Rayong.
Another PTT subsidiary was involved in a huge oil spill off northwestern Australia in 2009 that was the country's worst ever offshore drilling accident.
An Australian government inquiry blamed widespread and systematic shortcomings at the oil company for the spill. — AFP
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's Opposi-tion claimed a surprise victory but later retracted it in polls through which strongman premier Hun Sen was expected to extend his 28-year rule.
The former Khmer Rouge fighter turned prime minister appeared so confident of victory that he did not even bother personally to campaign.
"Today is a historic day as the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has won the country's fifth parliamentary election," Opposition leader Sam Rainsy had said in a statement as counting was going on yesterday.
However in a new statement later, headed "Correction", the CNRP thanked voters for their support but gave no indication of whether it believed it was leading the race.
Earllier the Opposition decried what it described as the kingdom's worst ever poll irregularities, including missing voter names and thousands of people who turned up to vote yesterday and found someone else had used their ballot.
"The situation is more serious than at any previous election," CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said.
Rights groups also expressed concern that the ink used to mark voters could be easily washed off.
Protests broke out at one polling station here where a crowd destroyed two police cars, military police spokesman Kheng Tito said, as anger erupted over names missing from the voter list.
"It is very difficult to proclaim this a free and fair election," said Kol Preap, executive director of Transparency International Cambo-dia.
"I think the level playing field in the process didn't really exist. There has not been equal access to the media and the Opposition leader was not allowed to run as a candidate."
The National Election Committee denied irregularities.
Even before polls opened, the Opposition had said a Hun Sen win would be "worthless" without the participation of its leader Sam Rainsy.
The French-educated former banker returned to Cambodia on July 19 from self-imposed exile after receiving a surprise royal pardon for criminal convictions which he contends were politically motivated.
But he was barred from running as a candidate since the authorities said it was too late to add his name to the electoral register.
Rainsy toured polling stations in Phnom Penh yesterday to "collect more evidence" of vote irregularities.
He said that if indications pointed to a "plot to rig the election" then "definitely we will protest".
Local poll monitor the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia alleged that up to 1.25 million people who were eligible to cast ballots were not on voter lists.
About 9.6 million people registered to vote – more than a third of whom are aged under 30.
A spokesman for Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) said the party was confident of another landslide.
"We expect to keep an absolute majority," Khieu Kanharith said. — AFP
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has warned of the threat of elitism, saying it could divide the inclusive society that Singapore is striving to build.
The way to guard against it is to adapt and strengthen the practice of meritocracy that has served Singapore well.
"What we need is to get the successful to understand that they have a responsibility to help the less fortunate and less able with compassion, to give back to society through financial donations, sharing of their skills and knowledge and spending time to help others do better, and to serve the country," he said.
He made the point at Raffles Institution's (RI) 190th anniversary dinner, where he received the school's Gryphon Award, which honours the most distinguished alumni. The award's first recipient was former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Goh called on top schools, including RI, to play a role in ensuring elitism and the sense of entitlement do not creep into the minds of their students. The government, on its part, will continue to have policies and programmes that give a leg up to those who have fallen behind.
He said: "Those of us who have benefited disproportionately from society's investment in us owe the most to society, particularly to those who may not have had access to the same opportunities. We owe a debt to make lives better for all, and not just for ourselves." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
|You are subscribed to email updates from Regional Feed |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|