- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

VIETNAM
Four textile workers seized over strike bid
HANOI Four Vietnamese workers at a Singaporean textile company were arrested for trying to incite a strike during a visit by the Vietnamese president, police said yesterday.
The attempted strike over wage demands came Wednesday as President Tran Duc Luong toured the Chutex International Co. site at Song Than 2 Industrial Park in Binh Duong province. Tran Manh Duc, personnel director at the plant employing 3,800 workers, said police wanted "to guarantee security for the president."
"We will work with the police to secure the release of the four men and educate them to avoid a repeat of such behavior. We will also consider the demands for higher salaries and changes to working conditions," Mr. Tran added. Industrial disputes are becoming more frequent in Vietnam as dozens of Asian subcontractors take advantage of the country's huge pool of cheap labor.
In a separate development International Labor Organization formally opened its offices in Vietnam this week.

CHINA
Ex-engineer elected mayor of Shanghai
SHANGHAI The country's largest city elected former engineer Han Zheng as its mayor yesterday, continuing a tradition of technocrats filling the high-profile post once held by President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji.
Industry and diplomats welcomed the widely anticipated outcome, posted on the city's Web site at www.shanghai.gov.cn. The former factory manager and economist is said to be a keen soccer fan and well-regarded in local business and politics.

INDONESIA
Painful disease reaches central Java
JAKARTA An outbreak of a mosquito-borne disease called chikungunya has spread to Indonesia's densely populated central Java region, officials said.
"The latest outbreak was first detected in Bogor [West Java] in 2001 and has since spread to other provinces," said Toni Wander of the Health Ministry. He said the illness, originating in Africa, this year spread to several regions in central Java and the special territory of Yogyakarta.
Kompas newspaper said at least four districts in central Java and Yogyakarta have been affected by the disease, which is not deadly but can cause days of high fever as well as intense muscle and joint pain. The ailment has no cure but disappears in about a week.

Weekly notes …
Warning that nuclear bomb-making material could fall into terrorists' hands, Japanese Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi called yesterday in a speech at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for urgent negotiations to halt production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Less than 1 percent of the 3,000 tons of fissile material worldwide produced for both military and civilian purposes is under the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency, she said. … Australia's xenophobic One Nation party has issued an anti-Islamic leaflet asking voters, "Is there a mosque coming near you?" in its campaign for the March 22 New South Wales state election. The leaflet, distributed in Sydney, says "rumors are rife" that the Labor state government has sold land to the Islamic community for construction of a large mosque. The state government denies any such sale.


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