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Renewed election fever in 
Malaysia is a sign of hope

HONG KONG (SE): Malaysia conducted its most keenly fought election since becoming an independent nation in 1957 on May 5 this year.

For 56 years it has lived under the thumb of the ruling Barison Nasional (Nationalist Party), but a coalition led by the charismatic former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, in 2008, for the first time ever managed to break the two-thirds majority the ruling party had always enjoyed.

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Democracy icon too old for China

YANGON (AsiaNews): With a bit of neat footwork, Beijing has avoided having democracy icon from the Union of Myanmar, Augn San Suu Kyi, tread on its soil by placing an age limit on a delegation from the National League for Democracy, of which she is a founding member, scheduled to visit the mainland.

Committee member, Han Thar Myint, said from the league’s Yangon office that the invitation specifically states that delegates must be under 60, ruling out the league’s most famous member.

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Japan celebrates first faith in the country

NAGASAKI (AsiaNews): The Church in Japan celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Tsuwano on May 3, a festivity associated with a Marian site where 19th century martyrs claim to have seen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

While the Holy See has been quiet on the matter, the shrine is highly popular among Catholics in Japan, as it serves as a remembrance of the first witnesses to the faith in the country.

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Optimism for the Church in Taiwan

TAIPEI (Agencies): “Taiwan expresses its closeness to Pope Francis and the universal Church, as well as committing itself to its continuing mission of evangelisation,” Joao Cardinal Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said at a Mass of thanksgiving for the election of the new pope in Taipei on April 14.

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System failure not mediaeval law cause of mother’s death

HONG KONG (SE) : An inquiry into a controversial death of dentist, Savita Halappanavar, at a hospital in Galway, Ireland, on October 28 last year, has cited system failure in diagnosis as the cause of death, rather than the construct of the nation’s abortion laws and influence of the Catholic Church, as widely published in November 2012.

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Struggle for peace in Papua recognised

SEOUL (UCAN): Indonesian Father Neles Tebay Kebadabi was awarded the prestigious Tji Hak-son Justice and Peace Award in the South Korean capital of Seoul on February 27 for his effort in bringing an end to the ongoing violence in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua.

Father Neles is a member of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, as well as belonging to the Papuan Peace Network, which has set up a new dialogue process between the Papua Independence Movement and the government in Jakarta.

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Can Pakistan make first democratic transition?

ISLAMABAD (AsiaNews): More than half of 5,000 Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 29 surveyed on the question of whether an Islamic government operating under Islamic law is preferable to democracy, chose the Islamic option, saying that democracy has not been good for the country.

The survey carried out by the British Council found that around 94 per cent also believe that the country is currently headed down the wrong track.

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Church rushes aid to displaced people in Myanmar conflict

Lashio (UCAN): The local Catholic Church began handing out food on April 9 to villagers displaced by recent conflicts between government troops and soldiers of the Shan State Army North. 

According to the Shan Human Rights Foundation, more than 700 people from the Shan, Lahu and Palaung tribes have found shelter in a Buddhist monastery and in local houses, while another 300 are hiding in the nearby jungle. 

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Deforestation blamed for Sumatra floods

Padang (UCAN): Thousands of people affected by flooding in the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, received rice, clothes, blankets, drinking water, cooking utensils and other relief items from the diocese of Padang in West Sumatra on April 11.

Bruno Sagari, from Muntei village in South Siberut sub-district, said, “For two days we could not cook and waited for outside help. Our cooking utensils were carried away by flood water.” 

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Seminary rector in India murdered

MUMBAI (AsiaNews): People from around Mumbai in India gathered on April 2 for a morning Mass offered in memory of the rector of the seminary in Bangalore, Father K. J. Thomas, who was murdered in the predawn of the previous day.

Police are continuing their investigation into what has been described by Archbishop Bernard Moras as a brutal, terrible and senseless murder.

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