- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

INDONESIA

Security minister quits in power struggle

JAKARTA — Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia’s powerful security minister, said yesterday he was quitting after accusing President Megawati Sukarnoputri of sidelining him ahead of an election in which they will be rival candidates.

Mrs. Megawati issued no reaction, but the announcement was widely expected and her aides said she likely would accept the resignation to defuse simmering tensions within her government.

Mr. Yudhoyono, a retired four-star army general, has been one of Mrs. Megawati’s most senior ministers and has wielded wide power across the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which is fighting terrorism, separatism and unrest on several fronts.

MALAYSIA

Human rights body backs detainees

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s state-backed human rights watchdog has thrown its support behind 16 detainees who are accused of being Islamic militants and have been on a hunger strike for 11 days to press the government to charge or release them.

The men, including Nik Adli, son of the opposition Islamic Party (PAS) spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat, were held on suspicion of terrorist links in 2001 under an internal security law which allows indefinite detention without trial.

THAILAND

Crown prince appeals for calm in south

BANGKOK — Thailand’s crown prince this week made an impassioned plea for religious harmony and conveyed growing concern over unrest during a visit to the country’s Muslim-majority south.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn had traveled to the restive region, where up to 50 Thais have been killed since violence erupted in January, to “visit with the people and inspect royal projects,” a Thai government official said.

The crown prince met Wednesday with Muslim dignitaries at the central mosque in the provincial capital Pattani and urged Thais to put aside their differences, Thai newspapers reported.

SINGAPORE

Government relaxes rules on citizenship

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government has announced plans to relax citizenship rules as part of drastic measures to reverse a population decline that officials say threatens the country’s prospects.

Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in remarks to parliament published yesterday that a constitutional amendment would give babies born abroad to Singaporean women married to foreigners the right to become Singaporean citizens.

Currently, the rule only applies to babies of fathers from the city-state, which has 3.4 million citizens and permanent residents and about one million foreign workers and their families.

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