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Phuket Gazette World News: Myanmar violence spreads; tourists hostage in Egypt; Aus Labor in turmoil; Iran preps for polls; Atheists abandoned

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Phuket Gazette World News: Myanmar violence spreads; tourists hostage in Egypt; Aus Labor in turmoil; Iran preps for polls; Atheists abandoned | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Myanmar riots stoke fears of widening sectarian violence
Reuters /Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in central Myanmar has reduced neighbourhoods to ashes and stoked fears that last year’s sectarian bloodshed is spreading into the country’s heartland in a test of Asia’s newest democracy.

Buildings in Meikhtila were still burning early yesterday and agitated Buddhist crowds roamed the otherwise near-deserted streets after three days of turbulence, said Reuters reporters in the city 540km north of the commercial capital Yangon.

Five people, including a Buddhist monk, have been killed and dozens wounded since Wednesday, state media reported. Other authorities put the death toll at 10 or higher.

The unleashing of ethnic hatred, suppressed during 49 years of military rule that ended in March 2011, is challenging the reformist government of one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries.

Jailed dissidents have been released, a free election held and censorship lifted in Myanmar’s historic democratic transition. But the government has faced mounting criticism over its failure to stop the bloodshed between Buddhists and Muslims.

“I am really sad over what happened here because this is not just happening to one person. It’s affecting all of us,” said Maung Maung, a Buddhist ward leader in Meikhtila.

Hundreds of Muslims have fled their homes to shelter at a sports stadium, said local officials. The unrest is a bloody reprise of last year’s violence in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, which officially killed 110 people and left 120,000 people homeless, most of them stateless Rohingya Muslims.

Burning mosque, armed residents

Locals complained there were too few police in this city of about 180,000 people to subdue the unrest. It erupted after an argument between a Buddhist couple and the Muslim owners of a gold shop spiralled into a riot involving hundreds of people, said police.

Reuters saw some Meikhtila residents arming themselves with knives and sticks in an eerie echo of the Rakhine violence in 2012, when pitched battles between the two communities later morphed into orchestrated attacks on Muslim communities by organised gangs of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

The United Nations warned the sectarian unrest could endanger a fragile reform programme launched after Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government replaced a decades-old military dictatorship in 2011.

“Religious leaders and other community leaders must also publicly call on their followers to abjure violence, respect the law and promote peace,” Vijay Nambiar, U.N. special adviser of the secretary-general, said in a statement.

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, but about 5 percent of its 60 million people are Muslims. There are large and long-established communities in Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s two largest cities, where tensions are simmering.

“Everyone is in shock here. We never expected this to happen,” said a Muslim teacher in Mandalay, requesting anonymity.

Rumours that violent agitators were heading for the city had set its Muslim community on edge, he said. Buddhist monks known for their anti-Islamic views last year staged several street protests in Mandalay.

In Meikhtila, at least one mosque, an Islamic religious school, several shops and a government office were set alight, said a fire service official, who declined to be named. Reuters saw both Buddhist and Muslim homes burned.

Sectarian unrest is common in central Myanmar, although reports were stifled under the military dictatorship.

Three people died in Sinbyukyun in 2006 when Buddhists attacked homes and shops belonging to Muslims and ethnic Indians, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable.

“The incident reveals underlying tense inter-ethnic relations in the heartland,” said the cable, which also referenced similar communal riots in Kyaukse, a town near Meikhtila, in 2003.

Australia’s Labour roiled by resignations after failed leadership coup
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard faced a string of ministerial resignations yesterday in the wake of a botched leadership coup against her, forcing a reshuffle of her Labour government just months from potentially disastrous elections.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he would step down, joining departing Cabinet colleagues Simon Crean and Chris Bowen, as well as junior minister Kim Carr. All had backed Gillard’s chief rival Kevin Rudd as the party’s best hope to reverse polls pointing to a thrashing by conservative opponents at the September 14 elections.

“I have a view it’s the only honourable thing to do. I would have voted for Kevin Rudd yesterday and Simon Crean to try and give this party a fresh start,” an emotional Ferguson told reporters at parliament in Canberra.

The political unrest in the country threatens to cloud decision making with elections just six months away and as the minority government readies to take leadership of the G20 and after Canberra became a rotating United Nations Security Council member.

Gillard stamped her authority on Labour by being re-elected unopposed after Rudd conceded he did not have the numbers to topple her after a tumultuous day of backroom plotting that will do even more damage to the government’s fading popularity.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, widely derided by voters despite having steered the Group of 20 wealthy nations member through the last financial downturn with 5.4 percent unemployment and a 21st year of unbroken economic growth, was re-elected as Gillard’s deputy.

Crean was sacked immediately by Gillard on Thursday for backing Rudd in what newspapers called a political “suicide bombing” that appeared to have delivered no gains for Labour except the near-certainty of a thumping election defeat.

Talent drain

Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former prime minister ousted by Gillard in 2010 amid another round of plummeting polls, said on Friday he would never again run for the leadership – unless it was already vacant.

“I don’t think it’s worth raking over the coals. What’s done is done and let’s get on with the future,” Rudd said. “It’s really important that we bind together and that’s what the Australian people expect of us.”

Bowen, one of Rudd’s key backers and a former immigration minister, said he would also quit, stripping Gillard’s top ranks of another of its most effective political talents.

Ferguson, in particular, had been an influential advocate for the country’s mining industry and helped broker a 2010 deal with major resource companies including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to abandon a damaging campaign against a mining profits tax introduced by Labour and later watered down.

Gillard, the plain-speaking daughter of Welsh migrants, has consistently failed to arrest a slump in opinion polls, which predict a major defeat in September with Labour losing about 20 seats in the 150-seat parliament.

But she attempted to draw a line under the divisions and concerns about her leadership, extending a press conference at a road construction site north of Sydney on Friday to face down questions from journalists about the government’s stability.

“This issue is over and done with. This issue has been resolved for all time, and I think Kevin’s stateme

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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Southeast Asia

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet

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Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Japan Times

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ new 88-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet is testing the skies just as rivals Embraer and Bombardier are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats to Boeing and Airbus.

At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is US$135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development.

More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington.

With fewer seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 3,220 kilometres. The seating is 2+2 instead of 3+3 in a small Airbus or Boeing single-aisle jet.

After spending at least US$2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings.

Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now, the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.

Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac) has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.

“The aviation market in Asia is expected to grow further in the coming years and there will be demand for these aircraft,” said analyst Lee Dong-heon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

“The shift in the regional aviation segment we have seen over the last year or so has opened opportunities.”

“The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | News by The Thaiger

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World

Missing 14 year old Thai boy found dead in Tokyo

The Thaiger

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Missing 14 year old Thai boy found dead in Tokyo | The Thaiger

The mother of a Thai teenager who went missing in Tokyo last Monday has revealed that she has found her son but that he had died.

Yuwajitra Watchara-arpa has not revealed the cause of the death of 14 year old Thian Sukanonsawat on the social network, saying merely that he had passed peacefully from an “unexpected accident”.

The mother thanked everybody for helping to find her son. She however asked for privacy following his death, saying the family would not answer any queries or contacts.

Thian went missing on Monday night, not longer after he and his family arrived in Tokyo for a holiday. His parents stayed in one room and their three children, Tien among them, shared another room.

After her mother found out that her son had gone missing, she alerted police and asked to see the hotel’s security video footage. CCTV footage showed the boy leaving the hotel room on the fifth floor in the middle of the night and walking towards an elevator in his night clothes and hotel slippers.

His mother turned to Facebook to seek help in locating her son. She said the boy had no money, mobile phone or transportation pass cards.

Her post went viral and was shared by many Facebook users including the Thai Embassy in Tokyo and the Thai communities in Japan.

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Travel

Boeing investigation continues as attention turns to the engines

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Boeing investigation continues as attention turns to the engines | The Thaiger

Within the past six months, two Boeing 737 Max 8 have fallen out of the sky, both during the early climbing phase of the flight.

In October, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed just off Jakarta, killing 189 people. And in March, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, killing 157 people.

Whilst the investigations continue into the two horrifying incidents, both Boeing and some early evidence from the data recorders, has revealed possible problems with software that was developed as a work-around to a problem that Boeing had introduced with the new model 737 aircraft.

The work-around was called the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) which would push the nose of the plane down if the software detected the plane had the risk of stalling (nose too high, not enough airflow over the wings). But why did the new Boeing 737 Max model jets need this new software?

The answer uncovers a rush to manufacture as Boeing was under pressure to come up with a new plane to compete with their rivals Airbus. The European manufacturer had developed a newer, lighter, more fuel efficient update to their single-aisle A320. And airlines were buying it instead of the latest Boeing 737.

Boeing, instead of designing a new plane, would do a make-over of the older model. But they needed to get it out to the market quickly. This rush to market market may have contributed to the two recent crash incidents.

VOX has prepared an excellent short documentary on the issue that may be at the root of the deaths of 346 people.

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