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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



FOR THE FIRST TIME in its history, the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to be an Asian. Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister SUPACHAI PANITCHPAKDI is a frontrunner for the post. He has the solid backing of ASEAN and is set to begin lobbying in Europe. "It's about time somebody from the developing world should take up the position," he told Asiaweek. "And not to represent the interest of any cause, but to bridge the gap between the developed and developing world." A succession of Westerners has headed the WTO in past years. Supachai is well respected, has a masters degree in econometrics from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and speaks Dutch as well as fluent English.


SALMAN RUSHDIE, THE INDIAN-BORN British author with a price on his head, may at last come out after nearly 10 years in hiding. Shortly before restoring ambassador-level ties with Britain on Sept. 24, Iranian Foreign Minister KAMAL KHARRAZI said his government "has no intention, nor is it going to take any action whatsoever to threaten the life of the author of Satanic Verses." Many Muslims say the book blasphemes against Islam, and the late Iranian leader AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI issued a fatwa, or religious edict, targeting Rushdie for death in early 1989. But it's far from clear if Rushdie, 51, has gained a reprieve. On Sept. 27, Iran's Foreign Ministry said the fatwa cannot be revoked and that Rushdie's "insulting remarks" - a reference to the author's Sept. 24 statement in London that he did not regret writing Verses - would only make Muslims angrier. A day later, three Iranian clerics called for Rushdie's death.


TWO YEARS AGO, THAILAND'S "Dirty Harry," Police Gen. SALANG BUNNAG, allegedly ordered the killings of six men suspected of drug trafficking. Now, in an interview with Asiaweek, the tough, often unsmiling, cop has proposed that narcotics be legalized. The illegality of the drug trade, he says, makes it both a lucrative crime and an enormous law enforcement problem. It is not quite clear what prompted Salang's change of heart - he has also suggested drug addicts be viewed as patients and not as criminals. Might the more humane approach have something to do with the fact that Salang is under investigation for the 1996 deaths of the six suspected drug traffickers? The supercop was suspended from his job in July after Interior Minister SANAN KACHORNPRASART, who is also his boss, filed a defamation suit against him.


ACCORDING TO BRITAIN'S OBSERVER daily, Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has traced over $70 million to foreign bank accounts and companies owned by Prime Minister NAWAZ SHARIF and his family. The FIA began the probe five years ago when Sharif was out of power. The disclosures come from REHMAN MALIK, the agency's deputy head, who was suspended from his job after Sharif took office last year. The PM has denied any wrong-doing. Coming in the midst of an economic crisis and a controversial bid by Sharif to introduce Islamic laws, the allegations have heightened fears of political instability in Pakistan.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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