Talking points

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2012, 12:00am


Our editors will be looking ahead today to these developing stories ...

WHO focuses on 'a ruthless and devious enemy'

The World Health Organisation holds a conference in Singapore against the use of tobacco. Director general Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun (left, giving the keynote address yesterday) called the tobacco industry 'a ruthless and devious enemy' and said legal actions filed by tobacco companies against the authorities in several countries were designed to weaken their resolve to control tobacco use. 'The wolf is no longer in sheep's clothing, and its teeth are bared,' Chan, Hong Kong's former director of health, said. The WHO says tobacco use kills nearly six million people a year, including 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.

Henry Tang's old party discusses its vote

The Liberal Party meets to discuss which chief executive candidate to vote for. Sixty-two party members and allies have nominated Henry Tang Ying-yen, a former member and one of the party's founders. Chairman James Tien Pei-chun has said he will probably cast a blank ballot during the Election Committee's vote on Sunday. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which holds 147 votes, will discuss its voting preference on Friday and the New People's Party, which has six votes, on Saturday.

Italy close to deal on easier sacking rules

The Italian government hopes to wrap up talks on a reform in the next few days to make it easier to sack workers in a bid to create an environment in which bosses are more likely to hire - and bring down sky-high unemployment. It is the first attempt to ease sacking rules since Silvio Berlusconi (left, pictured at a soccer match at the weekend) backed down a decade ago after national protests and the murder of a labour economist.

Alleged Hezbollah associate faces Bangkok court

A Lebanese man with alleged links to the militant group Hezbollah appears in a Bangkok court charged with breaking weapons control laws. The suspect, who is also believed to have a Swedish passport, was arrested in January and police later found a large quantity of chemicals that could be used to make a bomb at an address he rented. Thai police have said they believe Israeli diplomats were the intended target of the botched plot but have yet to produce hard evidence.

Beijing opens 175 posts to entire public service

Applications for 175 posts in the central government, including bureau chiefs, deputy bureau chiefs and department directors in 44 government agencies, open for internal recruitment today. It is the first time central government agencies are seeking to fill such posts by internal recruitment open to public servants across the country. Usually they are filled by the departments. Applications must be submitted by the end of the month.

British budget likely to unveil cut in top tax rate

British finance minister George Osborne (left) presents the country's annual budget, which is likely to build on the coalition government's deficit-slashing austerity strategy while also seeking to pull the economy back from recession. British media reported that Osborne will use fresh austerity measures to offset a plan to cut income tax for the highest earners from 50 per cent to 40 per cent.