Australia requires naturalisation ceremonies
Local governments will be forced to induct citizens on national holiday
SYDNEY — Australia’s federal government has ordered local governments to hold naturalisation ceremonies for new citizens on Australia Day amid controversy over the holiday, which some claim is offensive to its indigenous people.
The government is proposing that all local government bodies in Australia, typically referred to as councils, must hold induction ceremonies for new citizens on the Australia Day holiday on January 26 and the Australian Citizenship Day holiday on September 17 or have their authorisation revoked, Immigration Minister David Coleman said in an emailed statement yesterday.
Australia Day marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first British fleet to Sydney Cove where the British flag was raised on the continent marking the start of colonisation.
Aborigines trace their lineage on the island continent back 50,000 years and for them, the date marks the start of the loss of their cultural heritage and suffering under discriminatory policies.
The holiday has become controversial with pressure by activists to change the date from what they call “Invasion Day”.
The country’s 700,000 or so indigenous people track near the bottom of its 25 million citizens in almost every economic and social indicator.
Several local councils have stopped holding citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day because of concerns the date is insulting to Aborigines.
At a press conference televised by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation yesterday, Immigration Minister Coleman said more than 100 of the country’s 537 councils do not hold citizenship ceremonies on the Australia Day holiday.
However, Australian Local Government Association President David O’Loughlin said councils hold multiple citizenship cer- emonies throughout the year and the majority of those who skip Australia Day do so for practical reasons.
“It’s a very expensive undertaking to do a public event on a public holiday,” he told Reuters yesterday. “About two or three only moved the day for ideological reasons.”
The proposed changes to the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code are planned for introduction by the first half of 2019, the minister’s statement said. Coleman plans to write to the councils and receive feedback on the changes, the statement said. — REUTERS YANGON — Myanmar’s Mandalay region authorities have destroyed 280 million kyats (US$186,666) worth of expired drugs, foodstuffs and cosmetics, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported yesterday.
The burned items in Patheingyi township on Friday included expired drugs provided by pharmaceutical companies, unsafe food products and consumer goods seized from the market along with illegally imported drugs and cosmetics.
The Mandalay City Development Committee and the region’s Food and Drug Administration are also making efforts to confiscate more drugs, food and cosmetics that are unfit for consumption.
115 quakes detected on Korean Peninsula last year
SEOUL — More than 100 quakes were detected on the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding waters in 2018, the third most for a year, the state weather agency said yesterday.
The outbreaks of seismic activities totaled 115 in 2018, according to the data by the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA). It is the third highest number of occurrences since the government began to track related data in 1978.
The highest on record was 252 tallied in 2016, followed by 232 in 2017, the data showed.
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the southeastern province of Gyeongju on September 12, 2016, the strongest by record. The secondstrongest 5.4 magnitude quake hit the nearby port city of Pohang on November 15, 2017.
The weather agency largely cited the Pohang earthquake as the primary reason for last year’s frequent outbreaks, defining them as aftershocks.
The weather agency said it is not ruling out the possibility of another major quake this year, adding that it is keeping close tabs on seismic movements so as to promptly notify the public in case of an outbreak.
Australia police call off search for missing tourist
SYDNEY — An extensive aerial search for a German tourist missing in the vast Australian outback for almost two weeks has been called off, police said.
Monika Billen, 62, was reported missing last week after leaving her resort in Alice Springs, a remote town near the geographical centre of Australia.
She is believed to have hitched and walked her way to the Emily Gap, a site popular with tourists in a remote nature park famed for its rocky ravines and gorges.
Police had launched land and aerial searches for Billen, including the use of drones.
They believe a motorist may have seen her looking dehydrated and a disorientated as early as January 2.
Temperatures have soared above 40 degrees Celsius during the southern hemisphere summer in the central desert region. Police said Billen had only a yellow cashmere scarf to protect against the scorching sun.
Vicary urged any witnesses to come forward and report any sightings or encounters with Billen. — Agencies