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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Vietnam riot takes fatal turn

Posted: 15 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

HANOI: A 1,000-strong mob stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam overnight, killing a Chinese worker and injuring 141 others, Taiwan's ambassador and police said, the first deadly incident in a wave of unruly anti-China protests prompted by Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in disputed seas.

The unrest is emerging as a major challenge for Vietnam's authoritarian and secretive leadership, and is hurting the country's reputation as a safe investment destination. It risks inflaming an already dangerous standoff between patrol ships from both countries in the South China Sea close to the rig, which Hanoi is demanding Beijing withdraw.

Companies from Taiwan, many of which employ Chinese nationals, are bearing the brunt of the protests and violence – the most serious in years to hit the tightly controlled nation of 90 million people.

In his first remarks on the crisis, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said peaceful protests over the last few days were "legitimate", but that anyone involved in violence should be punished severely.

Nervous Chinese expatriates were fleeing by land and air. Immigration police said 600 Chinese crossed into Cambodia over the land border in southern Vietnam on Wednesday, and more arrived yesterday.

The riot took place at a mill in Ha Tinh province in central Vietnam, about 350km south of Hanoi. It followed an anti-China protest by workers at the complex, operated by the Formosa Plastics Group, one of the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam, according to Ambassador Huang Chih-peng and police.

Huang said rioters lit fires at several buildings and hunted down the Chinese workers, but did not target the Taiwanese management. He said the head of the provincial government and its security chief were at the mill during the riot but did not "order tough enough action."

He said one Chinese citizen was killed and another died of natural causes during the unrest, adding that around 90 others were injured.

Ha Tinh's deputy police chief, Bui Dinh Quang, said the situation was "stable" on Thursday and none of the injured, which he put at 141, had life-threatening injuries.

Anti-Chinese sentiment is never far from the surface in Vietnam, but it has surged since Beijing deployed an oil rig into disputed waters about 240km off the Vietnamese coast on May 1, close to the Paracel Islands.

The government protested the move as a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty and sent a flotilla of boats, which continue to bump and collide with Chinese vessels guarding the rig. — AP

Ruling party defends promo clip

Posted: 15 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: Singapore's ruling party has defended a promotional video produced by its youth wing that went viral after being lambasted online for its amateurish quality and for sounding "robotic".

The five-minute YouTube video clip, titled "Re-ignite the Passion of Servant Leadership", featured youth leaders of the long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) espousing a series of motivational messages for other party members.

Some appeared to be reading from a script placed on either side of the camera.

One segment featured a woman and a man clad in the all-white party uniform and holding miniature toy guitars, as others around them took turns to complete a sentence: "We must empower our members... to make a positive impact... to those around us".

In a statement, the PAP said the effort by members of the Young PAP was "genuine and sincere".

"We did not expect that our humble (raw and unpolished) in-house production would go viral like this," it said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

It said the video represented the Young PAP's "spirit of activism – to serve our nation and to care for our fellow Singaporeans".

Online, the video continued to draw a steady stream of derision yesterday.

"And here kids, you find yourself a bunch of brainwashed young adults. They even sound like robots. Amazing," wrote local celebrity comedian Hirzi Zulkiflie on the Must Be Singapore Face­book page, which had shared the video.

"Sad to see youth talking like parrots, reading script and with bad diction/pronunciation," wrote another Facebook user. — AFP

Manila releases pix of reclamation

Posted: 15 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

MANILA: The Philippines has released photographs to back its claim that China was reclaiming land on a disputed reef in the South China Sea in an apparent effort to build an airstrip.

Manila had warned on Wednesday that China may be building an airstrip on the Chinese-held Johnson South Reef – claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam – boosting the superpower's claim to most of the strategic Asian waters.

A series of photographs released by the foreign department yesterday appeared to show large-scale reclamation in stages. The latest photograph dated March 11, 2014 appears to show a large light-coloured landfill, surrounded by shallow turquoise waters.

"This series of photographs ... from Philippine intelligence sources, shows in stages the extensive reclamation by China on Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef)," the foreign department said in a statement.

"These actions are considered destabilising and in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and international law," it said, asserting that the reef was "part of Philippine territory".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying on Wednesday would not confirm Manila's claim, but asserted the outcrop was Chinese territory.

The Philippines said it filed a diplomatic protest against China's reclamation works on the reef last month, but Beijing rejected it on grounds the reef is part of Chinese territory.

Last week, the Chinese press downplayed the activity at the reef, saying it was merely to renovate the living facilities for troops stationed there.

The Philippines calls the outcrop, part of the Spratly chain, the Mabini Reef, while China calls it Chigua Reef. Internationally, it is recognised as the Johnson South Reef.

Manila says the reef falls within the country's 370km exclusive economic zone under a United Nations convention.

Beijing's claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, which straddles vital sea lanes and is believed to sit on vast oil and gas reserves, has strained its ties with neighbours.

The Philippines in March asked a United Nations tribunal to declare what Manila said was China's claim to 70% of the sea as illegal. — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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