- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

VIETNAM

Monk hesitates at taking award

HANOI — A Buddhist monk confined to his monastery by the government fears he would be prevented from returning to Vietnam if he went to Norway to receive a human-rights award, his supporters said yesterday.

It is not even clear whether Thich Quang Do, 77, who has spent 25 years in detention at his monastery in Ho Chi Minh City, would be allowed to go to Norway to receive the award from the Thorolf Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.

The foundation last week chose Mr. Do for “personal courage and perseverance through three decades of peaceful opposition against the communist regime in Vietnam and as a symbol for the growing democracy movement.” The award ceremony is Nov. 4 in Bergen.

Four previous Rafto recipients went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

TAIWAN

China stays quiet on Chen protests

TAIPEI — China has kept quiet about an outbreak of street protests calling for the ouster of Chen Shui-bian, the independence-leaning president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), because it fears any strong reaction may backfire, analysts said.

“We have clearly stated that [the issues] should be resolved by Taiwan people,” Li Weiyi, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, told reporters Wednesday. Beijing’s reticence may reflect lessons learned from a more forceful approach a decade ago.

In an effort to frighten voters from choosing pro-independence candidate Lee Teng-hui in 1996, China fired unarmed missiles into the waters off the island ahead of Taiwan’s first popular ballot for president. The plan backfired, with Mr. Lee winning by a landslide.

SOUTH KOREA

Robot introduced as border sentry

SEOUL — The government yesterday introduced a high-tech, machine-gun-toting sentry robot that could support its troops in detecting and killing intruders along the heavily fortified border with North Korea.

The weapons-grade robot can detect, raise the alarm and provide suppressive fire, said Lee Jae-hoon, deputy minister of commerce, industry and energy. “The Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot has surveillance, tracking, firing and voice-recognition systems built into a single unit,” he said.

Weekly notes …

Tonga’s new king, Siaosi Tupou V, appointed his younger brother crown prince and heir to the throne yesterday, officials said. Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, a former prime minister, took the traditional title of Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka at a ceremony at his residence on Tongatapu, the kingdom’s main island. The appointment resolves the future of the monarchy on the island, because the king is unmarried and has one daughter but no male heirs. … Typhoon Xangsane plowed into the Philippines yesterday, killing at least 11 persons and leaving dozens missing as it ripped down power lines and cut off electricity for tens of millions of residents. The storm, packing winds up to 68 mph, is on course to hit Vietnam next. One woman was fatally shocked by a downed power line and 10 others were killed by falling trees, walls and other debris, government emergency officials said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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