Latest News Mar 24, 2011
covering burma and southeast asia
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Latest News Mar 24, 2011

By THE IRRAWADDY Thursday, March 24, 2011


Most TB Cases Go Undetected in Burma

According to the most recent national tuberculosis (TB) prevalence survey in Burma conducted from 2009-10 and still undergoing analysis, preliminary data show a large proportion of TB cases are going undetected. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 300,000 TB cases out of a total population of 53 million, but that only 64 percent of new cases were being detected. The latest survey by the government’s national TB programme confirmed the 2009 estimates. Of the estimated 597 in every 100,000 people nationwide who have TB, most are males living in urban areas. The number infected in urban areas is twice as high as in rural areas, as has been the case for years. The average rate of TB infection in Southeast Asia is 180 persons in every 100,000, according to the WHO.

Naypyidaw Gems Emporium Nets $2 billion

Burma's military regime netted a cool US $2 billion from sales at the 48th Gems Emporium in Naypyidaw on March 10-22, according to sources in the Burmese capital. Some 13,608 jade lots out of 16,939 were sold at the emporium with the majority of international customers coming from China. At the same fair last year, sales were estimated at $1.7 billion.

Suu Kyi Urges Europe Not to Lift Sanctions

Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday that sanctions against the military junta in her country should remain, as the European Union prepares to decide whether to lift the action. In an interview with German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate insisted that sanctions must remain in place and should only be lifted when something has changed in Burma. The EU is poised to decide in April whether to continue sanctions against the regime for human rights abuses following Suu Kyi's release from house arrest in November.

Australian Journalist Denied Bail

Australian newspaper publisher Ross Dunkley has again been denied bail by a court in Burma, which is expected to deliver judgment on his case next week. The publisher of The Myanmar Times and Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post has been in jail since being arrested for breaching his visa in mid-February. A prostitute who initially accused him of assault withdrew the claim, but the case has proceeded anyway. Speculation about a local business dispute with a government-aligned business partner has been denied.

Malaysian Court Allows DNA Evidence Against Anwar

Malaysia's High Court said on Wednesday that it would let prosecutors use key DNA evidence against Anwar Ibrahim in his sodomy trial, handing another setback to the opposition leader as he confronts a new controversy involving a sex video. The ruling came as the three men who leaked a recording that they claim shows Anwar with a prostitute identified themselves as two ex-government officials and a businessman. Anwar insists both the sodomy charge and the video were fabricated by the government to crush the rise of his opposition alliance, which made significant gains in 2008 elections. The court decision on Wednesday was a reversal of its own recent ruling that a toothbrush, towel and water bottle that Anwar kept during police detention could not be submitted as evidence. A chemist testified that DNA on those items matched that of semen discovered on the man who accused Anwar of sodomy. The evidence is a vital part of the prosecution's effort to prove Anwar had sex with his 25-year-old former aide. Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomy, a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Singapore Bans Some Japan Foods on Radiation Fears

Singapore has banned the sale of some foods from four Japanese prefectures over concerns about radiation. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement on Thursday that it stopped the sale of milk, milk products, fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures. The AVA said it was following similar measures by the US and Australia after Japan's Health Ministry said high radioactivity levels had been detected in raw milk and vegetables from the four prefectures. The affected foods were found near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant that has been leaking radiation since being critically damaged in the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Many Filipinos Gamble Lives in Libya for Jobs

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has made a second trip to strife-torn Libya to convince hundreds of Filipino workers there to leave. Most have chosen to stay.

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