- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

MALAYSIAPiracy center reports rise in global attacksKUALA LUMPUR — The number of worldwide maritime piracy attacks rose 18 percent to 103 between January and March, up from 87 in the same period last year, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center here said yesterday.The center said neighboring Indonesia posted 28 attacks, the largest first-quarter figure for any one country, and pointed to relatively light prison sentences there as part of the problem. But London-based International Maritime Bureau Director Pottengal Mukundan praised authorities in Jakarta for prompt sea patrols in pirate-attack areas, which brought an immediate reduction in attacks.CHINAForest fires rage in Heilongjiang, YunnanBEIJING — More than 12,000 firefighters battled to control fierce, wind-whipped forest fires in China’s northeast and southwest that had razed 60 homes.The worst-hit areas were Yichun, Heihe and the Great Xingan Mountains in Heilongjiang province in the northeast, fire bureau officials said. “The fire in Yichun has been brought under control, but there are still 11,000 firefighters working on the blazes,” said Li Wenlin, a staff member of the province’s Forestry Bureau. TAIWANDoctor fined, fired for breaking quarantineTAIPEI — Authorities yesterday fired a doctor accused of breaking quarantine regulations and said they would decide in 20 days whether to revoke his license to practice medicine, underlining the island’s determination to combat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).Dr. Chou Ching-kai was fired from the staff of the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital and fined $3,428, a city government official said. The hospital was closed last week after a SARS outbreak, and its 200 patients were isolated. The staff of 900 was ordered to remain in the facility for two weeks, but some fled.Meanwhile, a nurse suspected of having SARS died in Taipei yesterday, city government officials said. Weekly notes …Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk indicated this week that he probably would abdicate in a few months and go into self-imposed exile in France, Cambodia’s former colonial master, said a royal message issued this week in Phnom Penh. It quoted King Sihanouk, who studied in the 1940s at the cavalry and armor school at Saumur, as saying he might have to request a small pension from the French government as a former reserve officer in the French army. … Australia yesterday warned that it would react with “real outrage” if proof emerged that the North Korean government was behind an attempt to smuggle heroin into the country last month. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia — one of the few Western nations to have diplomatic relations with North Korea — still was investigating whether Pyongyang was linked to the foiled shipment of 110 pounds of heroin reportedly unloaded from a North Korean freighter.


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