In the Land of Pacquiao, Teen Boxer’s Death Leads to Calls for a School Boxing Ban


Some Tuesday ASEAN links:

A Filipino boxer who sustained internal injuries during a school boxing competition died on Monday, sparking a call to ban boxing in schools. The 16-year-old athlete had been in a coma since last week.

Due to boxing’s widespread popularity in the Philippines, thanks in large part to superstar boxer-politician Manny Pacquiao, an all-out ban seems unlikely. Rather, Tonisito Umali, the assistant secretary of the government education department, said that schools can decide on whether or not to include boxing.

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“Requests are being made for the suspension of boxing. Other regions are also saying they will not continue boxing,” he told AFP.

“We will not force them” to participate in regional bouts, Umali said, adding that boxing will remain part of the national school sports competitions.

Pacquiao, responding to the calls for a boxing ban, gave his condolences to the young boxer’s family but said that “the answer isn’t to cancel boxing.”

“This is where we get fighters for the Olympics,” Pacquiao, who started boxing as a teen, said of school boxing programs. “We just have to take the proper precautions.”

Additional tragedy struck in Manila when a commuter bus crashed through the barrier of an elevated highway, landing on top of a delivery van. At least 22 people were killed.

While investigators have yet to comment on the cause of the accident, witnesses claim that the bus was driving too fast for the rainy conditions.

The Mirror reported that Philippine transportation authorities have cancelled all bus services by Don Mariano Transport, saying that the operator has been involved in an “unspecified number” of traffic accidents since 2011.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, a record number of people are planning trips to Japan. The Japanese government is encouraging Malaysian visitors by offering prayer spaces in airports and an increase in halal meals at restaurants.

“As of this month, the number stands at about 120,000, which is 30 percent higher than last year. We are happy with the increase,” said Japanese Consul-General Ryuji Noda. He added that changes aimed at Malaysian Muslims would also be attractive to tourists from Indonesia and the Middle East.

Malaysian travelers to Japan who carry biometric passports no longer need to obtain a tourist visa before departing – a new exemption introduced as part of this week’s ASEAN-Japan anniversary event, which is celebrating 40 years of friendship and cooperation.

Speaking of Japan – Tokyo plans to open a trade office in Laos by the end of 2014.

“Although still ranked among the world’s least developed countries, the Lao economy grew about 8 percent in each of 2011 and 2012,” reported The Bangkok Post.

The presence of Japanese firms in Laos has increased rapidly – up to 60 from only 27 in 2009. Nikon Corporation and Toyota Motors both use Laotian factories to supply parts at their factories in Thailand.

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