|Lee Kuan Yew tells
Preserve ‘racial, religious unity’
|‘This precious, accidental, improbable, unlikely
nation that we have created should be nurtured, carefully
strengthened and built upon’
|SINGAPORE (AFP) - Elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew urged
Singaporeans to preserve racial and religious harmony,
saying the city-state was still ‘a nation in the making’
despite its rapid rise to prosperity.
“I do not deceive myself for one moment that our differences
of race, culture, language, religion, have disappeared,” he
said at the launch of a new book on his thoughts about the
future of the island that he led to independence from
Malaysia in 1965.
“The message I want to convey is a simple one: we are a
nation in the making. Will we make it? Am I certain we’ll
get there? No, we cannot say that. Something may go wrong
somewhere and we’ll fall apart,” he said.
“It is the business of your generation, and the generation
that succeeds you to understand the vulnerability, the
fragility of our society and keep it in cohesion, keep it
united and keep it as it is today, tolerant of each other,
accommodating each other.”
Lee, 87, was speaking at the launch of Lee Kuan Yew: Hard
Truths to Keep Singapore Going, published by media giant
Singapore Press Holdings and based on exclusive interviews
by its flagship daily, The Straits Times.
Singapore, which prides itself on its political stability,
has a predominantly Chinese population, with minority races
including Malays and Indians plus a growing foreign
community now comprising one-fifth of the population of five
“You have a nation like China or Japan, China can be
ravaged, demolished but the people come together again and
rebuild. I’m not sure if Singapore were damaged, ravaged and
demolished, they could ever come together again.”
“So this precious, accidental, improbable, unlikely nation
that we have created should be nurtured, carefully
strengthened and built upon.”
In excerpts published by the Straits Times ahead of the book
launch, the silver-haired politician who served as prime
minister from 1959 to 1990 and lost his wife Kwa Geok Choo
in October touched upon a personal wish.
He said he wanted his family home torn down for
redevelopment after he dies instead of being turned into a
|New country on way
(AFP) - South Sudan has erupted into jubilation as early
referendum results leave no doubt a new country is about to
be born, but the road to statehood remains littered with
The demarcation of the border with the north, the sharing of
oil revenues and the future of the disputed region of Abyei
are only some of the contentious issues that need to be
ironed out within six months.
Preliminary results of the January 9-15 referendum on
self-determination show that secession from the north is
favoured by close to 99 percent of voters in the
While southern leaders are basking in the glow of a
historical landmark in their decades-old struggle for
independence, they also called for composure, reminding the
population secession is not yet a reality.
The 2005 peace accord that ended more than 20 years of a
north-south conflict in which about two million people were
killed and around twice as many displaced provided for a
transitional period that ends on July 9.
South Sudan should then become the world’s newest nation and
Africa’s 55th state, but the interim period looks set to be
packed with arduous negotiations between the two halves of
what is still the continent’s largest country.
“It might even be more complicated to negotiate than the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement itself,” one Sudan-based
Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir’s National Congress Party
and the former southern rebels of the Sudan People’s
Liberation Movement started talks in July on four main
points: security, citizenship, the economy and international
Some 80 percent of Sudan’s oil reserves, estimated at around
six billion barrels, are in the south but can only be
exported through a pipeline than runs into the north.
Both sides of the future border will therefore have to
strike a deal on revenue-sharing that ensures there is no
return to war over what is by far their main source of
With hundreds of thousands of southerners still residing in
the north and a smaller number of northerners living in the
south, both administrations will also have to decide on the
status of these communities.
A fifth of the long border between the two territories
remains disputed, straddled notably by the oil-producing
Abyei enclave, which is claimed by both by southern Dinka
Ngok and northern Misseriya Arab tribes.
|Ex-Haiti dictator appeals for
PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - Like a
ghost from the past, ousted Haitian dictator Jean-Claude
Duvalier apologised to the victims of his 15-year regime and
said he had returned to work for national reconciliation.
“I am here to show my solidarity at this difficult moment,”
he said in his first full public statement since ending his
25-year exile and making a surprise landing back in Haiti
late on Sunday.
“Baby Doc” Duvalier added he also wanted to “voice my deep
sorrow to my fellow countrymen who say, rightly, that they
were victims under my government.”
Speaking in a weak voice to a room packed full of
journalists, the 59-year-old called for ‘national
reconciliation’ in Haiti and said he had hoped for a ‘rapid
resolution to the political crisis’.
Duvalier, who spoke mainly in French laced with a few words
of Creole, said he wanted to offer “sympathies to my
millions of supporters who, after my voluntary departure
from Haiti in 1986 to avoid a bloodbath and to allow a swift
resolution to the political crisis, were left to
The ex-dictator acknowledged that “thousands were cowardly
assassinated, suffocated, interrogated, subjected to tire
necklaces burnings; their houses, their possessions were
pillaged, uprooted and torched”.
But his words are unlikely to calm tensions here, with many
unanswered questions about his sudden return for people with
long memories of his brutal 1971-1986 rule.
Many fear he is seeking a return to power by capitalising on
the current political chaos stalking the quake-ravaged
Duvalier, who was forced to flee in 1986 amid a popular
uprising, did not explicitly rule out taking on any
Haiti, already struggling to recover from the devastating
January 2010 earthquake and a cholera outbreak, is also
caught up in deepening political turmoil due to disputed
“The electoral system is broken,” said popular singer Michel
Martelly, who came in third place in November’s presidential
elections according to initial results released by Haiti’s
election commission (CEP).
Martelly worries he will be pushed out of the second round
run-off, against the recommendations of international
monitors from the Organization of American States.
“We’ll take to the
streets peacefully if the CEP doesn’t accept the OAS
The OAS said many of the tally sheets it reviewed had been
tampered with or altered in favor of President Rene Preval’s
chosen candidate, Jude Celestin.
It has recommended that Martelly, not Celestin, should
square off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the
The United States, backed by Britain and France, has already
warned Haiti’s leaders that they should follow the OAS
recommendations to ensure a credible government is in place
or risk losing international support.
Stepping up the pressure on Preval, the US State Department
said Friday it had revoked visas for an unspecified number
of Haitian government officials.
“Our focus at the present time is in ensuring a free, fair,
credible election process in Haiti,” spokesman Philip
“To the extent that there are individuals connected with
episodes of violence or corruption, we will not hesitate to
take appropriate actions.”
Memories of Duvalier’s repressive regime remain vivid, and
human rights groups have accused him and his late father,
Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, of presiding over decades of
unparalleled oppression and abuse.
Thousands are believed to have been killed or tortured, many
victims of the vicious secret police, the Tonton Macoutes,
which was loyal to the Duvalier family.
|Hu’s US trip hailed as ‘historic
BEIJING (AFP) - China’s state
media trumpeted President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the US
as “a historic masterstroke” of “global significance” but
ordinary Chinese seemed rather less enthusiastic.
The Xinhua news agency gave the glowing praise after the
elaborate welcome Hu received at the White House on
Wednesday and his Oval Office talks with US President Barack
“History will remember this unusual day,” The People’s
Daily, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, gushed over
a joint declaration signed by the leaders of the world’s top
two economies that was short on concrete progress in key
The China Daily hailed a “New Chapter in Relations” in its
front-page headline Thursday. On Friday, the paper blared
“Common Interests Shared”, under a huge photo of Hu and
Obama shaking hands at the state dinner in Hu’s honour.
The banner Chinese headlines and declarations of a new era
of “mutual respect” painted an image of two equal world
leaders hammering out a new direction in a relationship long
viewed by many in China as unequal.
That portrayal is consider vital to the Communist Party, for
which China’s international rise has become a key pillar in
its ruling legitimacy, said Joseph Cheng, a China politics
researcher at City University of Hong Kong.
“In response to rising nationalism, China’s leaders cannot
afford to be seen to be weak in dealings with the United
States, so the domestic media certainly wants to show Hu on
a par with Obama,” Cheng told AFP.
Hu arrived in Washington on Tuesday for a high-profile state
visit that saw him welcomed with sumptuous pageantry and
also saw both sides declare the friendship and common
interests they share.
State broadcaster China Central Television on Friday
repeatedly re-broadcast reports of Hu’s talks with Obama and
luminaries such as former president Bill Clinton and
secretary of state Henry Kissinger on Sino-US relations.
But the coverage glazed over bilateral bugbears such as
currency policy and access to Chinese markets, and Hu’s
comment that China had “a lot” to do on human rights was
removed from Chinese-language reports.
And on the Chinese Internet, reaction has been less than
|British PM’s media chief quits in
LONDON (AFP) - British Prime
Minister David Cameron’s communications chief has resigned
after months of pressure to quit over phone-hacking claims
at a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper.
Andy Coulson has been under strain over allegations of
widespread hacking of mobile phone messages by journalists
at the News of the World when he was editor of the paper,
from which he resigned in 2007.
“I can today confirm that I’ve resigned as Downing Street
director of communications,” Coulson said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, continued coverage of events connected to my
old job at the News of the World has made it difficult for
me to give the 110 percent needed in this role.”
“I stand by what I’ve said about those events but when the
spokesman needs a spokesman, it’s time to move on.”
Cameron said in a statement that he was ‘very sorry’ that
Coulson was going but added that he could “understand that
the continuing pressures on him and his family mean that he
feels compelled to do so.”
Coulson played a key role in helping propel Conservative
leader Cameron to power in elections in May 2010.
“Andy has told me that the focus on him was impeding his
ability to do his job and was starting to prove a
distraction for the government,” Cameron said.
The hacking saga has refused to die down since the News of
the World’s royal correspondent and a private investigator
were jailed in 2007 for conspiracy to access mobile phone
messages involving Princes William and Harry.
Coulson resigned as editor of the paper, owned by
Australian-born media tycoon Murdoch, although he insisted
he knew nothing about it the affair.
He signed up as Cameron’s communications director later in
|World ‘running out of
SYDNEY (AFP) - The world
will run out of Internet addresses “within weeks”, according
to one of the founding fathers of the web, a report said.
Vint Cerf, who helped create the web by connecting computers
using Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, said it was his
“fault” that the 4.3 billion addresses created were running
out, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3
billion would be enough to do an experiment,” Cerf, who is
Google’s vice president and “Chief Internet Evangelist”, was
quoted as saying in an interview.
“Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?”
In 1977, Cerf created the web protocol IPv4, which connects
computers globally, as part of an experiment while working
with the US Department of Defence.
He said he never expected his experiment “wouldn’t end”.
“It doesn’t mean the network stops, it just means you can’t
build it very well,” Cerf said.
IP addresses are the unique sequence of numbers assigned to
each computer, website or other internet-connected devices.
They are not the same as website domain names.
The overwhelming number of devices now accessing the
internet means the addresses are running out fast.
To resolve the crisis, an updated protocol for the Internet,
IPv6, currently being planned by the industry, will create
trillions of addresses.
As Google vice president Cerf, who was in Australia to
address a conference, said he thought the new chief
executive of the California-based giant, Larry Page, was
ready to lead the company into the future.