- Suu Kyi suggests amending Constitution on armed forces
- 25 dead as typhoon hits China
- Disputed election win sparks opposition snub and protest
SOLDIERS should not be in government, Myanmar's democracy icon and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said.
Instead, Myanmar should change its Constitution to have a professional army, as in Britain, which is "well looked after by a civilian government and loved by its people".
"It's not that I want the leopard to change its spots.
"I just want the leopard to stay very beautiful and dignified in the jungle," she said of the military, half in jest.
She was answering a question on whether, given the military's tendency to claim power by force, a leopard can change its spots, during a lecture at Singapore Management University yesterday.
She recalled how her father, General Aung San – who led then Burma to independence from British colonial rule – set an example when he resigned from the military to join politics in 1945.
After decades of military rule, Myanmar under President Thein Sein, a retired general, has undergone political reforms that give it a semi-civilian government in which the military is given 25% of seats in Parliament.
On the subject of leadership, she gave an example of how a leader can, through respect, win over the electorate.
Suu Kyi is in Singapore on a five-day visit.
Today, she will call on several Singapore leaders, including President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
HONG KONG: Typhoon Usagi killed at least 25 people after crashing ashore in southern China, throwing the region's transport systems into chaos and leaving tens of thousands of airline passengers stranded in Hong Kong.
Schools and businesses were shut yesterday as activity in the normally teeming financial hub slowed to a crawl after Usagi – the world's most powerful storm this year – battered a long swathe of coastline with torrential rain and winds of up to 165kph during the night.
The deaths were reported by Chinese state media after Usagi made landfall near Shanwei city in Guangdong province northeast of Hong Kong on Sunday evening, prompting the highest-level alert from the National Meteorological Center.
The reports by Xinhua news agency did not say how the 25 were killed but said all the deaths were in Guangdong after the typhoon brought down trees and damaged roads. Dozens more were injured in accidents, it added.
Bullet trains from Guangzhou city to Beijing were suspended and Xinhua said winds were strong enough near Shanwei to blow cars off the road. More than 47,000 fishing boats were in harbour and schools were closed in 14 coastal cities.
Usagi had previously killed two people in the Philippines and unleashed landslides and power outages across southern Taiwan at the weekend as it ploughed through the Luzon Strait with ferocious winds and heavy downpours.
Monsoon rains worsened by Usagi caused flooding yesterday at the Philippine capital Manila and nearby provinces.
As the typhoon bore down on Hong Kong, operators shut down one of the world's busiest sea ports and nearly 450 flights were either cancelled or delayed on Sunday as Cathay Pacific and other airlines imposed preemptive suspensions.
Hong Kong's Observatory said it was the strongest typhoon to brush the city since 1979. Tens of thousands of people had their travel plans upended with ferries and trains also disrupted, while Cathay resumed flights only from yesterday noon.
Many passengers were forced to stay overnight at the airport, sleeping on the floor or spending the night playing card games. Many milled around the departure hall hoping to rebook their flights.
But handwritten signs warned them that there was little chance of getting standby seats on flights out yesterday and to check back later.
"We've waited for so long... and we still can't leave. Who would not be unhappy?" said 26-year-old Iris Ouyang from Beijing. — AFP
PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's long-ruling party pushed ahead with the formation of a government despite an opposition boycott of parliament and mass protests over its disputed election win.
Anti-riot police were deployed near the National Assembly following weeks of political turmoil that has at times descended into violence in one of the biggest challenges to Hun Sen's nearly three decades in power.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) refused to take its seats yesterday for the opening session of the lower house, warning that the kingdom was sliding towards "dictatorship".
Despite the boycott, King Norodom Sihamoni asked Hun Sen to form a new government, which must be approved by a majority of the newly elected lawmakers in a vote expected to take place today.
The CNRP, which is demanding an independent investigation into the contested July elections, decried what it described as a "one-party parliament".
"It totally contradicts the principle of democracy, freedom and multi-party pluralism and is bringing Cambodia toward dictatorship again," it warned.
Hun Sen said he would "serve the nation and the people for greater prosperity and progress" in a letter to thank the king for his support.
According to official results of the July polls, the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats against 55 for the CNRP.
The opposition has rejected the tally, alleging widespread vote irregularities.
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters joined three days of demonstrations in the capital earlier this month that saw one protester shot dead and several wounded as security forces clashed with a stone-throwing crowd.
Rights groups accused the security forces of firing live ammunition – an allegation denied by the authorities.
Activists also accused dozens of police and thugs in civilian clothing of launching a violent crackdown on a peaceful vigil at a pagoda in the capital late on Sunday using electric batons and slingshots.
Nine demonstrators as well as several foreign and local journalists were injured, witnesses said.
"They treated us like animals," prominent land rights activist Tep Vanny told AFP.
The police action came after military police on Friday expelled a pro-opposition Cambodian prince – the king's cousin – from the same pagoda, where he was holding a hunger strike demanding "justice for voters".
Hun Sen, who suffered his worst poll result in 15 years in July, last week agreed to find a peaceful solution to the dispute in talks with his main rival Sam Rainsy.
However, he has ruled out an independent probe. — AFP
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