Mourners pay tribute at funeral of Vietnam’s late president

Vietnamese leaders pay respects to Vietnam's late President Tran Dai Quang during his funeral at the National Funeral House in Hanoi on Wednedsay, September 26. (Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2018
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Mourners pay tribute at funeral of Vietnam’s late president

  • ‘I think Vietnamese people from ordinary people have great respect for him’
  • ‘His passing is a great loss to the state, family and his comrades in arms’

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam’s late President Tran Dai Quang was mourned as a great loss and praised for his contributions to his country at his funeral Wednesday.
Long lines of family members, officials including General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, police and soldiers streamed through the National Funeral House in downtown Hanoi. Some wept as they passed his flag-draped coffin.
“He devoted his whole life and made numerous contributions to the country’s glorious revolutionary cause ... His passing is a great loss to our Party, State and people,” Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said in a prayer ceremony broadcast live on state television.
Quang died Friday at age 61. A government doctor said he had battled a rare viral illness for more than a year but did not reveal the virus.
“I think Vietnamese people from ordinary people have great respect for him,” retired teacher Nguyen Thi Huan, 64, said outside the funeral house. “Some people felt like they lost their loved ones when they learnt of his passing.”
For retired police colonel Tran Duc Thang who had known Quang for 38 years, Quang was an “affectional comrade in arms.”
“His passing is a great loss to the state, family and his comrades in arms,” he said after paying tribute to Quang. “I hope he will rest in peace and wish that he from his world will continue to bless and support the country’s development.”
He will be buried in his home village in northern Ninh Binh province Thursday.
Flags fly at half-staff and all entertainment activities are canceled during the two-day national mourning.
A career security officer, Quang rose through the ranks to be minister of public security in 2011 and was elected by the National Assembly as the nation’s president in April 2016.
Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh has been named acting president, the country’s first woman to hold that position. No date has been given for the election of a new president.
The country’s other top leaders are Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. Analysts say Quang’s death is unlikely to shake up the Communist country’s politics, which are led collectively.


UK PM candidate Hunt: Boris Johnson is a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates on Brexit

Updated 24 June 2019
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UK PM candidate Hunt: Boris Johnson is a ‘coward’ for avoiding debates on Brexit

  • Jeremy Hunt: It was disrespectful for Boris Johnson to turn down the opportunity for a head-to-head debate
  • Hunt says candidates should explain their Brexit positions

LONDON: Jeremy Hunt, one of the two candidates vying to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, said on Monday that rival Boris Johnson was a coward for avoiding public head-to-head debates on what to do about Brexit.
“On the question of debates, he is being a coward,” Foreign Secretary Hunt said. “It is cowardice not to appear in head-to-head debates.”
Hunt, 52, said it was disrespectful for Johnson to have turned down the opportunity for a head-to-head debate on Sky television.
“People need to know what you’re going to do and you need to answer those questions,” Hunt said. “I promise Boris Johnson the fight of his life and he’s going to have that and he’s going to lose.”
Johnson, 55, is the favorite to win a vote of 160,000 Conservative Party members who will decide who will be the next prime minister. Betting markets give him a 79 percent implied probability of winning the top job, down from 92 percent last week.
He has cast himself as the only candidate who can deliver Brexit on October 31 — with or without a deal — while fighting off the electoral threats of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and socialist Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Early on Friday, police were called to Johnson’s home after neighbors heard a loud altercation between him and his girlfriend. Police said there was no cause for police action.
The Guardian newspaper, which first reported the story, said an unidentified neighbor had heard Johnson’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, screaming followed by “slamming and banging.” At one point, Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat.”
Johnson declined to answer questions about the incident at a hustings event in Birmingham on Saturday.
Hunt said the personal life of Johnson was irrelevant but that the candidates should explain their Brexit positions — and specifically what would a new leader do if lawmakers tried to sink a new government heading toward a no-deal Brexit.
“If parliament takes no-deal off the table before Oct. 31, will Boris call a general election?” Hunt said. “I think a general election would be catastrophic.”
Hunt said he would seek a better deal from the EU to leave on Oct. 31 and would, if absolutely necessary, leave without a deal. If parliament took a no-deal Brexit off the table, he intimated there would have to be delay.
“In that situation, you would have to carry on negotiating,” Hunt said. “I want to leave by Oct. 31 but if parliament stops it the prime minister has to obey the law.”
Johnson repeated on Monday that he would lead the United Kingdom out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.
“We are going to come out of the EU on October 31,” he wrote in The Daily Telegraph. “This time we are not going to bottle it.”
Like Hunt, Johnson promised lower taxes if he wins the top job.
When asked the naughtiest thing he had ever done, Hunt said: “When I was backpacking through India, I once had a Bhang Lassi — which is a kind of cannabis lassi — that’s the naughtiest thing I am prepared to confess to on this program.”