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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

NOVEMBER 5, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 44

Eternal Marital Affair

Sonia and Rajiv, a never-ending story

more stories
THAILAND: The PM's Pirate's Den?
PAKISTAN: Islamabad: It's a Company Town

Technology: A New China Gateway
Shanghai tries to solve an e-payments puzzle

Media: Transfer Or Exile?
Fears for press freedom as a Hong Kong broadcast boss moves on

Health: Aids Explosion
Time bombs along the Mekong call for a regional solution
• A Spirited Response Malaysia's AIDS activists woo Muslim clerics

Theater: Change Of Pace
After fame as tragic heroine, Lea Salonga brushes up on her comic timing

Books: Japan's Stellar Poet
A modern woman who saved an ancient art

Cinema: Singapore's Gang of Five
How serious is the problem of girl violence?

Newsmakers: Eternal Marital Affair
Sonia and Rajiv, a never-ending story

Newsmakers: Getting Around London
Jiang Zemin makes the rounds (10/29/99)

Newsmakers: Murder Claim
French accusations fly in Cambodia (10/22/99)

Newsmakers: Pressing Ahead
James Soong is riding a post-Quake wave (10/15/99)

Newsmakers: Donald Tsang gets lost in Las Vegas
The Financial Secretary's trip inspires fear and loathing in Hong Kong (10/08/99)

Newsmakers: Paper Wars
Accusations fly as Hong Kong's Print media do battle (10/01/99)

Congress party president Sonia Gandhi began her stint as a member of India's Parliament with the smoke of the 13-year-old Bofors arms scandal billowing around her. Some nine years after it began its investigation into accusations that the Swedish arms company bribed government officials to land a $1.3 billion arms contract, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed its chargesheet in the case. It specifically named Rajiv Gandhi, but recommended he "not be sent for trial," given that he was assassinated in 1991. The CBI also cited Ottavio Quattrocchi, described as "the Italian friend of the Rajiv Gandhi,'' and three others for criminal conspiracy and misuse of office. The timing of the charges is critical - they come only days after the BJP's return to power and Sonia's swearing in as the first foreign-born member of Parliament. The Congress party is threatening to deadlock crucial financial bills unless Rajiv's name is dropped from the case.  

THAILAND: The PM's Pirate's Den?
Thai police began to get suspicious, and who could blame them? Was Malaysian national Lieu Si Kong on an important diplomatic mission that required him to visit Baan Phitsanulok, the official residence of PM Chuan Leekpai, 40 times since July? When pressed by the guards at the gate, Lieu dropped the name of Chuan's security chief, Col. Khanchat Yaemphan, the son of the ministry of defense's top military adviser, Gen. Yuthana Yaemphan. Lieu then said he had to meet with Chuan's driver, Sompol Nakhoniam, when he refused to allow a search of his car. The authorities persisted and discovered a load of 1,310 video discs, many of which have been confirmed as pirated versions and the rest assumed to be. When you think about it, Baan Phitsanulok is the ideal hiding place. It has great security and the PM is seldom there - he uses it only for official events. Sompol claims innocence, but points out that it was Khanchat who put him in touch with Lieu's operation. And besides, "I'm about to retire," he told the Bangkok Post. Sompol might be ready to walk away from the problem, but Chuan can expect to hear about it again during November's parliamentary censure debate.  

PAKISTAN: Islamabad: It's a Company Town
Tall and impeccably dressed, Shaukat Aziz, 49, is really a diplomat in banker's clothing. Pakistan's new finance minister and economic point-man was on the career fast track at Citibank. In the mid-1980s, while posted to Saudi Arabia, he befriended Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Years later, when Citi was teetering, the prince bought up $2 billion of its stock at bargain prices and basically saved the company. Because of his father's connections - Abdul Aziz was a senior diplomat - Shaukat has always been a player in Islamabad. So has he finally entered the political world? He insists he is only on a long unpaid leave from Citibank, where he headed its global private banking operation. Two other senior Citibank executives are already well ensconced in the country: Shaukat Tarin who was head of Citibank in Thailand, is now CEO of Habib Bank, the country's largest. Zubyr Soomro - previously No. 2 at Citibank's emerging markets division in London - now runs the second largest, UBL, formerly United Bank Ltd.  

 •  DIED Hudson Silva, 69, founder of the Sri Lanka Eye Donation Society and the International Eye Bank, after a brief illness in Colombo, on Oct. 23. Dr. Silva helped donors give more than 41,700 of their eyes to patients in 168 countries since founding the society in 1961, while a student.

 •  DIED Zeng Liansong, 82, designer of the national flag of the People's Republic of China, on Oct. 19. The banner's five gold stars symbolize the Communist Party, industry and commerce, farmers, students and the military. It was first raised by Mao Zedong on Oct. 1, 1949 at the founding of the PRC in Tiananmen Square.

 •  APPOINTED Matsuura Koichiro, 62, to be director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, on Oct. 20. The appointment of the first Asian to this tough post follows a particularly strong campaign, backed by Japanese PM Obuchi Keizo. Matsuura will oversee the organization's ongoing structural reform. He'll also have to convince the U.S. to rejoin UNESCO.

 •  BOWED OUT Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.'s special envoy to Afghanistan, due to a lack of progress in the peace talks after, as he put it, "two years of unproductive efforts," on Oct. 20. Although Brahimi will cease making trips to the country, the U.N. will continue to press for a resolution of the 10-year-old civil war.

 •  APPEAL REJECTED for Fujinami Takao, 66, Japan's former chief cabinet secretary, on Oct. 21, by the Supreme Court. Fujinami was convicted of accepting bribes in the mid-1980s. Although he keeps his seat in the Diet, Fujinami immediately quit the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay 42.7 million yen ($410,000) in fines.

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