Taipei, Beijing to turn off lights one hour: energy savings

Taipei - Selected areas of Taipei, along with neighbourhoods in Beijing and dozens of cities elsewhere in Asia, are planning to turn off their lights for one hour later Saturday to promote energy conservation and reduce light pollution.

More than two dozen cities in Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to join the Lights-Out-Night event from 8 to 9 pm (1200-1300 GMT) Saturday, Taiwan's Society of Wilderness, one of the sponsors, said on its website.

Major buildings and scenic spots in the participating cities will turn off lights for one hour. Residents in these cities are to participate in activities organized by local environmental protection groups.

Defence ministers establish protocols for disaster relief

Singapore  - Defence minister and senior officials from 27 countries agreed on "norms of behaviour" for offering disaster relief amid the slow pace of delivering international aid supplies to cyclone-devastated Myanmar.

With the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual forum, scheduled to conclude on Sunday, the ministers agreed that timely delivery of humanitarian assistance was critical.

Three guiding principles were proposed for multilateral cooperation, said a statement from Singapore's Defence Ministry.

The first principle stressed the responsibility of disaster-hit countries to quickly and effectively bring humanitarian relief to people in their territories.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates assures enduring role in Asia

Singapore  - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates assures enduring role in AsiaUS Secretary of Defence Robert Gates assured high-ranking security officials on Saturday that the US has an enduring role in Asia which will continue regardless of who occupies the White House next year.

"Any speculation in the region about the United States losing interest in Asia strikes me as either preposterous, or disingenuous, or both," Gates told the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual forum bringing together defence ministers and senior officials from 27 countries.

Confidence slipping among Asia's small, medium-sized firms

Singapore  - Confidence over growth prospects is slipping among Asia's small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), a survey said on Wednesday.

SMEs across the region are counting on strong intra-Asian trade to help compensate for an anticipated slowdown in the US economy.

The UPS International Asian Business Monitor survey was carried out in 12 markets with 1,200 respondents.

Fifty-two per cent of Asian SMEs said they believed that economic growth would persist, down 5 percentage points from the previous year, said the findings published in The Straits Times.

SMEs across 11 markets also expressed less confidence in their own competitiveness. The exception was upbeat India.

Sub-prime crisis to lower investment in Asia's property sector

Bangkok  - The global sub-prime crisis will this year have the greatest impact on "mature" property markets in the Asia-Pacific region, leading to an overall decline in investments, international property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle predicted Tuesday.

Direct commercial real estate investment in Asia Pacific reached a new high of 121 billion dollars in 2007, up 27 per cent on 2006, but prospects for 2008 are less rosy, said Jones Lang LaSalle in its latest property outlook.

Asian Stocks decline after 3 day rally

Asian Stocks decline after 3 day rallyAfter recent rally, Asian stock markets were trading down on Tuesday. Banking Stocks were trading under pressure and led the key indices down. Investors were selling financial stocks as the results were not very encouraging. The recent results from banking majors were indicating a recession in economy.

Kookmin and Shinhan Financial Group Ltd. were among major losers after reporting decline in earnings. Both stocks were trading lower in South Korean market with Kookmin losing 3.4% and Shinhan trading at 56,900 won (lower by 3.4%).

Japanese markets were closed due to holiday.

Chinese leader and Dalai Lama rank among Time's most influential

Hong Kong  - Chinese President Hu JintaoChinese President Hu Jintao and the Dalai Lama were named Thursday as being among the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine.

Taiwan's president-elect Ma Jing-Jeou and Lou Jiwei, chairman of the China Investment Corp sovereign wealth fund, also make the list as did actress Mia Farrow, who was due to speak on China's human rights record Friday in Hong Kong.

Other personalities included on the annual list were Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and actors George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr.

Asian CEOs more confident about business outlook than others

Singapore- Chief executive officers (CEOs) in Asia are far more upbeat about the business outlook for revenue growth than their counterparts across the globe, a survey said Thursday.

The confidence outlook worldwide over the year ahead took a dive for the first time in five years.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 1,150 chief executives revealed a far more upbeat tone in Asia.

In India, nine out of 10 CEOs are very sanguine over the next year, according to the findings in The Straits Times.

China and Hong Kong are tied with Russia at 73 per cent. Fifty- seven per cent of corporate bosses in South Korea are very optimistic.

More than 600 Afghans killed by mines, explosives in 2007, UN says

Kabul - More than 600 Afghans were lost their lives by landmines and explosives last year, the UN Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan said Friday.

Mine initiatives had cleared more than one billion square metres of land across Afghanistan, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, the group said.

More than 350,000 anti-personnel mines, 19,000 anti-tank mines and millions of pieces of other explosive elements have been destroyed, it said in a statement.

China faces worst staffing turnover level

ChinaNew Delhi, Jan. 19: A survey undertaken by the China Youth Daily shows that employers in China are disadvantaged on two fronts -- the hiring front while facing the biggest salary increases in Asia and secondly the highest staffing turnover in Asia.

Nearly a third, or 32 percent, of the employers surveyed have revealed that they plan to raise salaries by at least 20 percent to attract badly needed talent.

Human Resources Company Hudson, which carried out the survey, covered employers' first-quarter plans and expectations.

Hindraf leader arrested, freed on bail, arrested again

Kuala Lumpur, Dec 12: In a dramatic sequence of events, police in Malaysia twice arrested Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) legal adviser P. Uthayakumar over alleged charges of sedition.

At 9.20 a. m., the policemen picked him up outside a shopping mall in Bangsar and brought him to a Sessions Court at noon to face a charge of publishing a seditious letter on the Police Watch website.

Eight hours after he was given bail for allegedly posting the November 15 letter on the website, he was arrested again in the lobby of the Jalan Duta court complex.

By 7 p. m., his lawyer M. Manoharan said that Uthayakumar had been taken to the Pudu prison in connection with another sedition case.

US looks forwards to more Secure Asian Democratic System

President George W. Bush
US President George W Bush has expressed the need for growth of democratic system across Asia.

In a lecture previous to the Asia-Pacific summit in Sydney, he stated free countries should work collectively in order to back up democratic bodies.

Mr. Bush singled out Burma, calling on the military administration to release all political prisoners, comprising opposition head Aung San Suu Kyi.

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