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Daily Archives: May 4, 2008

Half of city turns out to welcome Torch


 by Natalie Leung

One of the largest crowds ever seen in Macau turned out yesterday to welcome the Olympic Torch as is weaved its way through the Peninsula and Taipa.

Organisers estimate almost 250,000 flag waving and cheering spectators lined the streets for the first time the Olympic Flame crossed onto Macau soil.
Amidst tight security that included bag checks for posters and banners, the event ran smoothly with no protesters sighted.
The atmosphere was very pro-China with locals, tourists and sponsor employees chanting “China, China” and waving flags handed out by organisers.
However the original route was altered at the last minute due to overcrowding of the route and time constraints and the flame did not go to Senado Square and the Taipa village.
Thousands of onlookers began lining the streets hours before the 3.30pm commencement of the relay at Fisherman's Wharf.
A Beijing tourist, Mr Tung, came to Macau especially to see the sacred flame of the Olympics as he had "missed the chance" when the Chinese capital received the flame on March 31 before the torch relay officially began, and said it was "a rare opportunity to see so many people in an exciting atmosphere".
The Workers' Children Primary School also organised some 100 students to support the torch relay at the Fisherman's Wharf because "it's a dream for the Chinese people to host the Olympic Games", said teacher Mr Long, adding "as a Chinese we should be proud and honoured".
Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah was the first Macau representative to receive the flame from  executive vice-president of Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), Yang Shuan after it was lit by Beijing's flame security.
The first torchbearer, Wushu athlete Leong Hong Man received the flame at 3.45pm and made his way through Fisherman's Wharf as security guards, some bracing shields, fought to keep photographers at bay.
During the speech during at the lighting ceremony, the Chief Executive said yesterday "marked a special day in the history of Macau in which the government and the general public should take pride in, and will forever be remembered as the day we welcome for the first time, the Olympic Flame in our city.”
Following a journey that has taken it across the five continents, Mr Ho said the Olympic flame travelled across Macau yesterday, the meeting point of the East and the West, "before returning to China to continue to widely spread the Olympic spirit throughout the mainland, and fully showcase to the world the opening-up and progress of our motherland".
A total of 120 torchbearers ran the 27-kilometre relay past the Golden Lotus Square, StarWorld casino, Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa and then along Rua do Campo where the flame was transported by a special bus directly to Ruins of St Paul's as the Macau Planning Committee cited that "there were too many spectaculars along the route".
Stanley Ho was the received the torch from the first runner,  Leong Hong Man, who was clearly exhilarated by his run and told the Macau Daily Times he was “very happy and proud”.
After the flame passed the A-Ma Temple, it arrived at the Sai Van Lake where it was delivered in a dragon boat by torchbearer and athlete Peng Zi Shan.
The relay procession then went on Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge to Ocean Gardens apartments in Taipa before turning immediately to the Sai Van Bridge and back to the Peninsula's Macau Tower, Cultural Centre and the Fisherman's Wharf where member of the SAR Executive Council, Leong Heng Teng, lit the cauldron that marked the official conclusion of the Macau Leg at 6.53pm.
During the relay on Sai Van Bridge, the flame borne by the 94th torchbearer Cheong Zi Hin extinguished unexpectedly and had to be lit up again by the flame attendant.
All the original stop-overs in the town of Taipa including the Macau Stadium, Macau University of Science and Technology, the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel and the Jockey Club were cancelled yesterday as "the relay had exceeded the time arrangement and the flame had to be delivered for the closing ceremony on time", the Macau Planning Committee said.
The last torchbearer Leong Heng Teng, said during the community celebration event at the Amphitheatre that the Olympic Torch Relay was "the pure and sacred icon of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Ideal, bringing with it the message of peace, unity, friendship, harmony, understanding and goodwill to people around the world".
Before 8pm when the fireworks show was staged across the Friendship Bridge, the BOCOG flame attendants led the sacred flame back to the safety lantern before extinguishing the cauldron.
The 22nd leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay will take place in Sanya of China's Hainan today.
The flame will then travel to all major mainland cities and arrive in Tianjin on August 4 before travelling back to Beijing on August 6 to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games that will begin two days later.

Tiny Guam has its say on US presidential outcome

by Marvic Cagurangan*

On the distant Pacific island of Guam, nearly a day's plane ride from Washington, a few thousand voters seized centre stage yesterday in the race for the US Democratic presidential nomination.
Early turnout for the Democratic caucus was low as temperatures hovered around 32 Celsius, but picked up strongly as the day wore on.
"As of noon, nearly every village has exceeded the expected number of voters. By 2:00 pm the party had to send additional ballots for these villages," said Joshua Tenorio, who heads Barack Obama's local campaign office.
 When the polls closed, local party officials said they thought around 4,000 people had cast their ballots. Counting had not yet begun.
With only four party votes at stake, each is now crucial to the clash in which Obama leads Hillary Clinton by a narrow margin estimated at 1,738 to 1,599.
Results were expected around 0000 Macau time today.
Although there was no obvious pre-election favourite, political analyst Dr Ron McNinch forecast Obama to take 65 percent of the vote.
McNinch, a professor at the University of Guam, said voter sampling showed Obama had a "cross-cutting demographic appeal in Guam and in a number of ways he has a better sort of connection to our public."
The caucus is the only opportunity Guam residents will get to influence the presidential outcome. The island's people, while US citizens, cannot vote in November's presidential election.
"We're a little island that doesn't matter most of the time because we're thousands of miles away from (Washington) DC," said local resident Tes Venzon.
"This political event gives us our chance to push for our own local issues, which are largely ignored by Washington."
Guam, a US territory since 1898, rarely steps into the limelight of US politics as it lies on the other side of the international dateline.
Its sudden high profile has prompted jokes from some commentators as the island is better known as a US military base and scene of some of the bloodiest battles against the Japanese in World War II.
The Western Pacific island of just 540 square kilometres (209 square miles) has about 48,000 registered voters, and residents wanted Obama and Clinton to address its political status and self-determination.
"In this situation in which every single delegate vote counts to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Guam suddenly feels its own political significance," said Guam Democratic Party chairman Tony Charfauros.
"We used to not get this kind of national attention, but when the caucus started coming up, all the issues affecting Guam suddenly received attention in the nation's capital."
Neither Obama nor Clinton visited Guam ahead of the vote but both vowed to address local issues, such as the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa in Japan and war reparation claims.
The troop transfer plan has been a major campaign concern. The US military owns nearly one-third of Guam, base of the largest US naval bases in the region. The island hopes the buildup will solve its economic woes.
Obama has pledged that local contractors would get the lion's share of the upcoming construction work to build homes and offices for the arriving forces.
His campaign has insisted that the Illinois senator, born in Hawaii, has an instinctive understanding of the problems facing the tiny territory.
Apart from the island's four delegates to the party's nominating convention in August, it also has five so-called superdelegates who can vote for whomever they like.
One of them is Madeleine Bordallo, the island's only representative to the US Congress, who has yet to take sides.
The local Pacific Daily News estimates Clinton and Obama will get at least one each of the superdelegates.