Suu Kyi won’t be Myanmar’s president – in name

Aung San Suu Kyi’s bid to become the next president of Myanmar has come to an end after her party named an alternative candidate.

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The decision confirms Ms Suu Kyi could not convince military leaders to suspend the part of Myanmar’s constitution that disqualifies her from the presidency.

But she will likely lead the country by proxy, with her close confidant Htin Kyaw now expected to win the presidency.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has missed out on becoming Myanmar’s president.

That comes despite her National League for Democracy party sweeping 80 per cent of the contested seats at last year’s election, the country’s first openly contested one in 25 years.

Many of her fellow party members say they are disappointed at the news.

(Translated) “Aung San Suu Kyi was born and lives here. She is the daughter of our hero, Aung San. Why shouldn’t she be president? We need to work to change the law that stops such a person becoming the president, with the support of the people.”

Myanmar’s constitution bars Ms Suu Kyi from the presidency with a clause that disqualifies anyone whose spouse or children have foreign passports.

Her two children are British.

Many believe the clause was drafted specifically to target the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent years in prison for opposing the country’s former military rulers.

But Ms Suu Kyi is still likely to rule the country by proxy.

Her party has circumvented the restriction by nominating her close friend and confidant Htin Kyaw, expected to follow her instructions in running the country.

Htin Kyaw is the clear favourite to win the presidency, with the backing of the ruling party.

National League for Democracy politician Pike Ko says the proxy arrangement is good enough, for now.

(Translated)”The meaning of politics is to be patient, so I’m not angry about Aung San Suu Kyi and the presidency. The thing about her is that, even though she won’t be president, she will still lead the country, either from within the government or from within the party.”

Ms Suu Kyi’s supporters had hoped for a last-minute deal that would allow her to take the presidency.

She had been meeting with the military’s commander-in-chief, trying to strike a deal where parliament would suspend the part of the constitution that locks her out of the presidency.

But the military, which still controls 25 per cent of the seats in parliament by law, may have asked for additional powers in return.

For one reason or another, no such deal materialised.

Some in the party, like Myo Aung, say they have not given up hope for a Suu Kyi presidency in the future.

(Translated) “I feel the same as everyone about the fact that Suu Kyi cannot become president. She is the true leader chosen by people. We still need to work on that.”

Senior military figures have declined to comment on whether they are satisfied with the proxy arrangement.

 

 

China outdoing developed nations in controlling pollution: minister

China has been under increasing pressure to halt pollution of its air, soil and water caused by more than three decades of economic growth, and at this year’s full session of parliament it promised to cap energy use and draft new laws to decontaminate its soil.

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Beijing frequently features near the top of the list of China’s most polluted cities as emissions from vehicles and heavy industry combine with weather conditions to raise smog levels. The worst bouts of air pollution tend to coincide with periods of low wind.

Large parts of China suffered a three-week bout of heavy smog in November and December, but the situation had improved in the first two months of 2016, Minister Chen Jining told reporters.

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Brushing off suggestions that the improvement only came about because of heavy winds, Chen said China had already made huge efforts to tackle pollution and acid rain.

“We have solved the problems earlier and better than developed countries,” he said. “I believe that on the treatment of smog, we will also do it well and our development will become increasingly green.”

China said this week that it would aim to pass a law aimed at tackling soil pollution, which has raised concerns about food safety.

Chen said the legislation was taking a long time because the issue was complex, but he insisted that even without the law, the government was working hard to improve agricultural land.

He also said China was drafting a law allowing it to levy an “environmental tax” on its biggest polluters. He said the aim was not to increase the tax burden on enterprises, but to create a system that would encourage them to reduce emissions.

He said China would also work to tackle the problem of “dispersed coal”, or coal burnt directly by households or small businesses, where emissions are not controlled.

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According to industry experts, around 400 million tonnes of coal are sold on the market every year for direct combustion, with emissions five times the level of power plants.

Parliamentary delegates have this year called for tighter restrictions on the sale and distribution of coal for direct combustion.

“Overall, we will need a long period of time to adjust our energy structure, so we need to positively promote clean energy … and at the same time promote the clean use of coal,” Chen said.

Minson suffers hamstring blow for Dogs

The Western Bulldogs’ ruck stocks have taken a hit with Will Minson in doubt for round one of the AFL season with a hamstring injury.

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Minson, the 2013 All-Australian ruckman and veteran of 189 games, fell out of favour at Whitten Oval last year, playing just 10 games, but coach Luke Beveridge said the 30-year-old had worked back into his thinking after a strong pre-season.

“It isn’t great timing, he’s had a strong pre-season,” Beveridge said.

“Some of the things we asked Will to improve on we’ve seen some great signs in his performances not just in the NAB Challenge but in our intra-club stuff.

“He was right in the mix, so it’s terrible timing for him and us because he’s been going pretty well.”

Beveridge preferred more versatile ruck options Tom Campbell and Jordan Roughead in the second half of 2015 but the coach said that decreased interchange rotations and the scrapping of the substitute could work in Minson’s favour at the selection table.

“Tactically the change to the sub rule is going to open up a Pandora’s box for everyone,” he said.

“It’s obviously got us all thinking and how it plays out is going to be extremely intriguing.”

The Bulldogs take on Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with both clubs naming strong squads for their final hit-out of the NAB Challenge.

The corresponding fixture last year proved pivotal for Beveridge’s side, with a 61-point smashing of the Pies propelling them into a barnstorming season that ended in a surprise finals berth.

Beveridge is hoping lightning strikes twice.

“We’ve had almost exactly the same build-up as we did last year,” he said.

“We’ve picked our strongest 24 and we’ll go into this weekend with the same intention – to play our best and give us peace of mind going into round one.

“It’s always important to win. We’re not playing for sheep stations, we know that, but we still want to win.

“This is like a round one team so right here and now if no one gets injured and everyone plays well then almost the same outfit will trot out in round one.”

Asylum-seeker cleared of indecent assault

The future for a Sri Lankan asylum-seeker in Australia is unknown despite him being cleared of indecently attacking a sleeping university student.

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Daxchan Selvarajah was found not guilty by a Sydney District Court jury on Friday of attacking the Macquarie University student in her bed.

The 24-year-old had been accused of ripping through a flyscreen door at the student’s home at Macquarie University in the early hours of February 21, 2013, before molesting her in her bed.

He beamed and began wiping his eyes as he stepped from the dock on Friday morning, after the jury’s foreman informed the court he and his fellow jurors had reached a not guilty verdict on all charges.

But it’s not yet known if Mr Selvarajah will be allowed to remain in Australia after his original visa was cancelled.

His bridging visa has been replaced with a justice visa since his arrest.

“Where a non-citizen has had their visa cancelled on the basis of criminal charges that are subsequently set aside or result in an acquittal, the department will review the case,” an immigration spokesman told AAP.

The most serious of the three charges Mr Selvarajah faced was breaking and entering and indecently assaulting the young woman, who alleged she woke in the night to feel a hand under her pyjamas.

During a two week trial, Mr Selvarajah had told the court he left home in the early hours to buy cigarettes from someone who he thought was a fellow Sri Lankan.

“I knew he was living in that building but I didn’t know exactly which unit,” he said.

“I had gotten addicted to smoking that many cigarettes, I could not stop.

“That’s why I could not fall asleep.”

As the jury was led from the courtroom on Friday, an elated Mr Selvarajah hugged supporters and shook hands with his lawyers.

He was not held on remand over the charges but has been kept in immigration detention since 2013 after authorities refused him an Australian visa due to the attack allegations.

It was not immediately clear whether he would walk free from court a free man or be returned to Villawood detention centre.

Swans coach not fearing AFL drop

The challengers are coming from everywhere and the pundit vultures are circling, but Sydney coach John Longmire isn’t worrying about whether 2016 is the year his team finally bottoms out.

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Longmire has presided over a commendably consistent program, with Sydney not missing an AFL finals series in his first five years in charge.

Sixth spot in his rookie year was followed by four successive top-four home and away finishes, including a grand final win in 2012 and a minor premiership and grand final defeat two years later.

But for the first time in his tenure, Longmire in 2015 suffered the indignity of Sydney bowing out of the finals in straight sets.

The negative chatter among the cynics intensified with the Swans losing five premiership players and almost 1000 games of AFL experience.

The retirements of Adam Goodes, Rhyce Shaw and Mike Pyke and the move to other clubs of Lewis Jetta and Crag Bird left Sydney with some big holes to fill.

Another obvious question mark is whether star forward Lance Franklin can bounce back to his brilliant best after mental health issues ended his 2015 campaign early.

Longmire is confident he can, and will continue to rotate his other major scoring weapon Kurt Tippett between the forward line and the ruck.

“We don’t under-estimate how hard the challenge is,” Longmire told AAP.

“The draft, the salary cap, we push against that every year and we’ll be doing our best to do the same thing again.

“Teams outside the eight going into this year are probably as strong performers and as strong expectations, as almost there’s ever been.

“We understand the competition is going to be as tough as what we can remember, but we’re also confident that we can perform at a really strong level.”

Sydney added former Bulldogs key defender Daniel Talia and ex-Eagles ruckman Callum Sinclair to their list.

Talia will provide valuable cover for the reliable but ageing key defensive duo of Ted Richards and Heath Grundy.

Longmire will be looking for some of his youngsters to step up and support midfield titans Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker, Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh, who along with impressive rookie Callum Mills is a candidate to be the rebounding defender to replace Shaw.

An infusion of new blood through the draft, the recruitment of Talia and Sinclair and the anticipated development of several emerging players has Longmire bullish about covering the losses.

“We’re confident that we can replace those guys,” Longmire said.

“You don’t replace like for like with Adam Goodes, I think everyone understands that, but we’ve still got options in our team that we think the more that they play and the more confidence they get, the better they’ll go.”

Longmire isn’t just looking for a lift from his young guys, citing the example of Grundy, who had a career-best year in 2015 at he age of 29.

SYDNEY

Coach: John Longmire

Captains: Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack

Last five years: 5-6-1-4-2

Premierships: 5 (1909, 1918, 1933, 2005, 2012)

Key five: Josh Kennedy, Lance Franklin, Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack, Luke Parker

One to watch: Isaac Heeney. Only a mid-season knee injury prevented the blond bombshell from making a big challenge for the Rising Star Award in his debut season. Give him a full campaign to showcase his wares and Heeney could be anything.

Ins: Jordan Dawson (Sturt, SANFL), Kyle Galloway (Shepparton Bears, Vic), Tyrone Leonardis (Northern U18), Callum Mills (North Shore, NSW), Sam Murray (Wodonga Raiders, Vic), Sam Naismith (rookie elevation), Colin O’Riordan (international rookie), Tom Papley (Gippsland U18), Callum Sinclair (West Coast), Michael Talia (Western Bulldogs).

Outs: Craig Bird (Essendon), Adam Goodes (retired), Lewis Jetta (West Coast), Sean McLaren (delisted), Lloyd Perris (delisted), Mike Pyke (retired), Rhyce Shaw (retired).

Best line-up:

B: Nick Smith, Ted Richards, Michael Talia

HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe

C: Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Kieren Jack

HF: Lance Franklin, Sam Reid, Gary Rohan

F: Isaac Heeney, Kurt Tippett, Dean Towers

R: Callum Sinclair, Luke Parker, Tom Mitchell

I: Jeremy Laidler, Harry Cunningham, Ben McGlynn, Callum Mills

Predicted finish: 4th

Betting (William Hill)

To win the flag: $12

To make the top eight: $1.35