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					             World                                                                                                                                        today Monday deceMber 26, 2011                20


6 die in latest
China school                                     In China, a daring few
bus accident
BEIJING — At least six people have been
killed in the latest crash involving stu-
                                                 challenge one-child limit
dents in China when their overloaded van         ZHUJI (China) — Seven months pregnant,                                                                  had to take place after marriage and told
plunged off a mountain road, the state           Ms Wu Weiping snuck out of her house early                                                              them to abort the baby before trying again.
media said yesterday.                            in the morning carrying a shoulder bag with                                                                  In July, three months before her due date,
     The state-run Xinhua news agency            some clothes, her laptop and a knife.                                                                   Ms Wu left her home in Zhuji, a textile hub
said an overloaded van taking 12 students             “It’s good for me I wasn’t caught but it’s                                                         a few hours south of Shanghai, and hopped
home crashed into a 60m-deep valley in           lucky for them too,” said Ms Wu, 35, who                                                                a morning train to nearby Hangzhou. There,
south-west China on Saturday. It said the        feared that family planning officials were                                                              she switched to a Shanghai-bound train,
eight-seat van was carrying 14 people and        going to drag her to the hospital for a forced                                                          hoping to throw off anyone trying to tail her.
the other eight, including six students,         abortion. “I was going to fight to the death if                                                              In Shanghai, Ms Wu used a friend’s
were all hurt.                                   they found me.”                                                                                         identity card to rent a one-room apartment
     The report did not give the ages of              With her escape, Ms Wu joined an in-                                                               across from a hospital that allowed her to
the students or the cause of the accident.       creasingly defiant community of parents in                                                              register without a government-issued birth
Xinhua said the crash happened on a moun-        China who have risked their jobs, savings                                                               permission slip.
tainous road in Yunnan province. A local         and safety to have a forbidden second child.                                                                 Using the hospital’s Internet connection,
government official confirmed the accident            Though their numbers are small, they                                                               she kept in touch with her real husband
but would not give any details.                  represent changing ideas about individual                                                               through a password-protected online jour-
                                                 rights. While violators in the past tended                                                              nal. Shortly before her due date, she asked
The report did not give                          to be rural families who skirted the birth        Ms wu weiping with her daughter wang yile,            him to come to Shanghai and he was present
                                                                                                   4, and her son wu yixiao, 2, in Zhuji, in eastern
                                                 limits in relative obscurity, many today are                                                            for the birth of their son.
the ages of the students                         urbanites like Ms Wu who feel that the gov-
                                                                                                   china’s Zhejiang province. aP

or the cause of the                              ernment has no right to dictate how many          Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, a joint            Having a baby is not a criMe
                                                 children they have.                               United States-China academic research cen-            More than two years later, Ms Wu and her
accident. Xinhua said                                 A few have begun airing their demands        tre in Beijing.                                       former husband have yet to remarry, hoping
the crash happened on                            online for a more liberal family-planning                                                               it will legally shield him from any future
                                                 policy and are hoping others will follow their    running away for baby                                 punishment. The marriage with her cousin
a mountainous road                               lead. Several have got their stories into the     Ms Wu said she never intended to flout                was easily dissolved after they discovered it
in Yunnan province.                              tightly-controlled media, an indication their     the one-child rule. The former high school            was never valid, because marriages between
                                                 perspectives have resonance with the public.      teacher had resorted to fertility treatments          first cousins is illegal in China.
     A local news portal in Yunnan showed             It is impossible to know how many chil-      to conceive her first child — a daughter nick-             Ms Wu was fired from her job as a public
a picture of the van, with all its sides and     dren have been born in violation of the one-      named Le Le, or Happy — so she was stunned            school teacher because of the baby, while her
roof crushed in.                                 child policy but Mr Zhai Zhenwu, director         when a doctor told her she was expecting              former husband, who is also a teacher, was
     Badly-maintained school transport has       of Renmin University’s School of Sociology        again in August 2008.                                 demoted to a freelance position at his school.
been the focus of public anger in recent         and Population in Beijing, estimates that less         Family planning officials insisted on an              She has been told that she has to pay a
weeks after a series of accidents in which       than 1 per cent of the 16 million babies born     abortion, while the principal at her school           120,740-yuan (S$24,600) social compensa-
children were killed on their way to and         each year are “out of plan”.                      also pressured her to end the pregnancy.              tion fee but she has refused to pay.
from school, leading China’s safety regula-           The reluctance of most families to pro-           Penalties for violators of the one-child              Enforcers of the family planning limits
tor to demand immediate action to improve        create is also an issue of growing concern for    policy are harsh. Those caught must pay a             showed up at their house in July and again
safety aboard frequently overloaded and          demographers, who worry that the policy           “social compensation fee”, which can be               last month, threatening legal action. Ms Wu
badly maintained school buses.                   combined with a rising cost of living has         four to nine times a family’s annual income.          is afraid their property might be confiscated
     Earlier this month, a school bus tak-       brought the fertility rate down too sharply            Desperate, Ms Wu went online for an-             or that she or husband might end up in
ing primary students home slipped off a          and too fast.                                     swers and was led astray. In an attempt to            detention, but she does not want to pay the
country road into an irrigation ditch in the          Though still the world’s largest nation      take advantage of a loophole that allows di-          fine because she does not believe she has
eastern province of Jiangsu, killing 15 chil-    with 1.3 billion people, China’s population       vorced parents to have a second child if their        done anything wrong.
dren. Officials later acknowledged the bus       growth has slowed considerably.                   new spouse is a first-time parent, Ms Wu                   “I don’t think I’ve committed any crime,”
was overloaded.                                       “The worry for China is not population       divorced her husband and then “married”               she said. “A crime is something that hurts
     In the worst recent accident, 19 children   growth — it’s rapid population ageing and         her cousin the following day.                         other people or society or that infringes on
and two adults were killed last month when       young people not wanting to have children,”            But when the couple applied for a birth          other people’s rights. I don’t think having a
a nine-seat private kindergarten van packed      said Mr Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-     permit, officials informed them conception            baby is any kind of crime.” aP
with 62 students crashed head-on with a
truck in north-west Gansu province. aP                                                                                                           the Malaysian wildlife authorities said they have
                                                                                                                                                 captured a female borneo sumatran rhino who will
                                                                                                                                                 be paired with a new mate in a breeding programme
                                                                                                                                                 meant to save their species from extinction. the plan is
                                                                                                                                                 the cornerstone of efforts to preserve the bristly, snub-
                                                                                                                                                 nosed animal, whose numbers have fallen to fewer
                                                                                                                                                 than 40 in the jungles of borneo island.
                                                                                                                                                     officials have spent more than three years seeking
                                                                                                                                                 a suitable mate for a middle-aged male rhino named
                                                                                                                                                 ‘tam’, which was rescued in sabah state in 2008, while
                                                                                                                                                 wandering in an oil palm plantation with an infected
                                                                                                                                                 leg likely caused by a poacher trap. the first rhino
                                                                                                                                                 previously found for tam was too old to reproduce.
                                                                                                                                                     Late on saturday, the sabah wildlife department
                                                                                                                                                 said in a statement that rangers this past week
                                                                                                                                                 captured a young female rhino nicknamed ‘Puntung’
                                                        rare MalaysIan rhIno gets neW Mate                                                       (picture), whom they had been monitoring for years. aP

				
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