AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Yangon: Myanmar's government made an uncharacteristic plea for understanding today after chronic power cuts set off rare protests in the Southeast Asian country that is easing toward democracy after decades of military rule. A candlelight vigil was planned at Yangon's City Hall this evening, following two days of rallies in Mandalay that drew hundreds of people and marked the largest protests since the army crushed monk-led demonstrations in 2007. The Electric Power Ministry issued a statement in all three state-run newspapers today under the headline, 'Plea to the Public'. It explained that rationing was being applied to cope with greater demand and decreased supply during the hot summer months.
Suu Kyi to address ILO
GENEVA: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will address an International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva next month during her first trip outside Myanmar in 24 years, the ILO said on Tuesday. Suu Kyi will give a speech on the final day of the ILO conference on June 14. “Aung San Suu Kyi will be addressing the conference,” said ILO director general Juan Somavia, adding that it will be the first time Suu Kyi “will speak internationally” since she was released from house arrest in 2010. Suu Kyi is scheduled to make a speech in Oslo on June 16 to accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991. Her British husband Michael Aris, who died in 1999 while she remained imprisoned, and her two sons accepted the Nobel medal on her behalf. Suu Kyi (66) confirmed last month that she planned to leave Myanmar for the first time since 1988 and was issued her first passport in two decades on May 8.
China stays execution
BEIJING: A 31-year-old Chinese entrepreneur who was once one of the nation’s wealthiest women has been spared the death penalty, an official said on Tuesday, after her original sentence sparked a public outcry. Wu Ying, a hairdresser who built a business empire from scratch, had her sentence reduced to death with a two-year reprieve Monday, the official said, a penalty that is almost always commuted to life in jail. “Wu Ying was given a death sentence with a two-year reprieve,” said the official, an employee at the high court in Wu’s home province of Zhejiang in eastern China. In one of the most widely watched trials in recent years, Wu was sentenced to death in 2009 for swindling private investors out of about 380 million yuan ($60 million).
‘Ready for probe’
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s former army chief said today he was prepared to face a war crimes investigation, but rejected allegations that tens of thousands of civilians were killed by troops under his command. Sarath Fonseka, who was released from jail yesterday after more than two years in detention, led security forces to victory over Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 but then fell out with President Mahinda Rajapakse. “There are certain allegations, but I don’t agree that 40,000 civilians died. All that is nonsense,” Fonseka told reporters on his first full day of freedom. “I am ready to clarify and answer these allegations,” he added. Fonseka, who was jailed two weeks after he failed to unseat Rajapakse in January 2010 presidential elections, has repeatedly vowed to testify before any international tribunal despite Colombo’s opposition to foreign scrutiny.
Beijing flays Pentagon
BEIJING: China's Defense Ministry has accused the Pentagon of hyping Chinese military power and its threat to Taiwan in a depiction that will ultimately undermine ties between the two militaries. The annual Pentagon report to Congress on China's military always draws strenuous objections from Beijing. This year's report — which outlined a Chinese military modernisation effort that is gaining momentum — comes as both Washington and Beijing are encouraging their militaries to built trust and improve communications. Chinese
Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said the Pentagon report exaggerates Chinese defense capabilities.