9-year-old chess prodigy wins fight to stay in Britain

UK child prodigy Shreyas Royal and the numerous trophies he has won. (Courtesy of Facebook)
Updated 11 August 2018
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9-year-old chess prodigy wins fight to stay in Britain

  • Shreyas Royal, who came to Britain with his family when he was 3, has competed internationally
  • The English Chess Federation and two lawmakers had appealed to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to let the family stay

LONDON: A 9-year-old India-born chess prodigy whose fight to stay in Britain drew international attention can remain in the country, the UK government said Friday.
Shreyas Royal, who came to Britain with his family when he was 3, has competed internationally and came fourth in the World Cadets competition in Brazil last year. But his family faced having to leave the UK when his father’s work visa expires next month.
The English Chess Federation and two lawmakers had appealed to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to let the family stay, saying Shreyas was the UK’s greatest chess talent in a generation and had lived in the country most of his life.
Javid said Friday that “after carefully reviewing the evidence, I have taken the personal decision to allow Shreyas and his family to stay in the UK“
“We have always been clear we want a world-class immigration system that welcomes highly talented individuals from across the globe,” he said.
London’s Battersea Chess Club, where Shreyas plays, thanked supporters and said the young chess player had “a big future ahead of him on the world stage, hopefully representing England.”
Immigration is a divisive issue in Britain, and reducing the number of newcomers was a major factor for many voters who in 2016 backed leaving the European Union. The Conservative government says it wants Britain to remain open to global talent, but has tightened policies in recent years in a bid to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigration.
Critics say many legal immigrants have suffered as a result of excessive bureaucracy and harsh decisions. Earlier this year it was revealed that hundreds of legal long-term residents from the Caribbean had been refused medical care or threatened with deportation because they could not produce paperwork to prove their right to remain in the UK
Javid, who was appointed in April after the migration scandal felled his predecessor, has said the term hostile environment “does not represent our values as a country.”


S. Korea’s last polar bear dies ahead of British retirement

Updated 18 October 2018
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S. Korea’s last polar bear dies ahead of British retirement

  • Tongki — a 23-year-old male named after a Japanese cartoon character of the 1980s — lived in a 330-square-meter (3,500-square-foot) concrete enclosure at the Everland theme park outside Seoul
  • The autopsy results suggested that Tongki appeared to have died of old age

SEOUL: The last polar bear kept in South Korea has died of old age only weeks before his planned departure to better living conditions in Britain, zoo officials said Thursday.
Tongki — a 23-year-old male named after a Japanese cartoon character of the 1980s — lived in a 330-square-meter (3,500-square-foot) concrete enclosure at the Everland theme park outside Seoul.
The zoo had planned to move him to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park next month to allow him to enjoy his final days in more appropriate surroundings — the facility in northern England has a 40,000 square meter polar reserve — and had thrown him a farewell party in June.
But Tongki was found dead on Wednesday night and autopsy results suggested that he appeared to have died of old age, the zoo said in a statement, adding it plans to conduct more tests to determine the exact reason for his death.
The average life span of polar bears is around 25 years and Tongki was the equivalent of around 80 in human terms.
“We have designated this week as a period of mourning for Tongki and decorated his living space so visitors can say farewell,” a zoo official told AFP.
Born in captivity at a zoo in the southern city of Masan, Tongki was the only polar bear still living in South Korea and had been alone at Everland since the last fellow resident of his species died three years ago.
Everland said Tongki will not be replaced, and other South Korean zoos have no plans to import the animals, which are classed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species.