- Hundreds homeless in Myanmar
- Music company helped church to misuse funds, prosecutors seek to show
- Majority want slower pace of life in Singapore
YANGON: Muslims displaced by Myanmar's latest eruption of religious violence picked through the charred remains of their shattered homes as police patrolled the streets, amid concern over spreading unrest.
Hundreds of people were made homeless after about 1,000 anti-Muslim rioters rampaged through villages in Kanbalu, in the central region of Sagaing, on Saturday evening, setting fire to Muslim property and attacking rescue vehicles with catapults.
"It is going to be very difficult to rebuild our houses again. Some people are taking refuge in nearby homes or with relatives," said 40-year-old Muslim Aung San, who was displaced in the unrest.
Myint Naing, a local MP for the opposition National League for Democracy party, said that 160 men and 158 women who had lost their homes had taken shelter in a school.
"They had been living peacefully for many years and this is the first time they saw violence," he said, adding that the situation was now calm.
Attacks against Muslims – who make up at least 4% of the population – have exposed deep rifts in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, overshadowing widely praised political reforms since military rule ended in 2011.
A local photographer in Kanbalu said that clashes had ended in the early hours of Sunday, but fires sparked by the riots burned until Sunday evening.
Some 250 police were deployed in the area as well as military personnel, he said.
State newspaper the New Light of Myanmar said the situation was "normal" by yesterday morning and authorities were making arrangements to open camps for those who lost their homes. — AFP
CITY Harvest Church leaders were involved in major decisions such as budgets and staff employment at Xtron Productions, a music production company accused of helping the church to misuse church funds, the state sought to show.
When questioned on the witness stand, Xtron director Choong Kar Weng also admitted that the company did not seek to profit from its City Harvest business although this made up the majority of its income.
Xtron is one of two companies alleged to have helped the megachurch to funnel church funds to bankroll the music career of pastor-singer Ho Yeow Sun, who is also wife of the church's founder Kong Hee.
The state showed through emails and meeting minutes prepared by Xtron employees, that City Harvest employees were consulted on the company's matters even though they were not on its payroll.
In some cases their approval was also sought. These church employees included Tan Ye Peng, one of the six accused.
Claiming that he was seeing many of these minutes and emails for the first time, Choong also said that the day-to-day operations were handled by Suraj, a church employee whom he called a "good friend".
Asked whether this represented a conflict of interest for the company, Choong said: "I trust Suraj and believe he would not have done anything harmful and detrimental to Xtron."
Kong and the five other church leaders were charged last year with conspiring to cheat the megachurch of millions of dollars.
They allegedly misused S$24mil (RM60mil) of church funds to bankroll Ho's singing ambitions, and purportedly took another S$26mil (RM65mil) to cover up the first amount. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
WHILE generally optimistic about the future, the majority of Singaporeans want a slower-paced life, a less competitive education system and fewer foreigners – and they are willing to trade off economic growth for that.
This was the picture that emerged from a survey of 4,000 citizens conducted in January as part of the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) exercise.
The full findings, released last week, had 65% of respondents saying that they were optimistic about the future five years ahead, and 78% saying that the Government was managing Singapore well.
When asked to pick among competing national priorities, respondents showed more consensus than observers expected. That consensus pointed to a desire for an easing of Singapore's pace of growth and development.
Asked to choose between career advancement and a comfortable pace of life, 59% chose the latter. This number swelled to 62% among those married with children.
NUS sociologist and former Nominated MP Paulin Straughan said Singaporeans want a "more balanced approach from the Government to ensure that in terms of quality of life, we are not always obsessing about saving for the future. They want everyday life to be rewarding too".
But she noted that where they stood on these compromises were a reaction to what they felt was already "in place" now.
"Because all the hard factors like infrastructure, a high employment rate and a competitive education system are already in place, they are yearning for more," she said.
"People can ask for more work-life balance only if you have work." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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