North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has offered political asylum to Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein, according to a front page story in Sunday's South
China Morning Post.

The bizarre tale appears to be the kind of news story that newspapers like
to publish on April Fool's Day, except for one thing: it has a credible
He is Stanley Ho Hung-sun, the wealthy magnate who runs Macau's gambling
casinos, through whom "high-level North Korean officials have offered the
Iraqi dictator and his family 11th hour sanctuary in a mountain in North

Chinese billionaires like Ho do not always possess political acumen but it
is usually difficult to take them for a ride. Ho told the SCMP that senior
level North Korean officials "told me that there really was a chance to
prevent a war and (they) said that Saddam Hussein could step down two days
before the US and Britain started to bomb Iraq and he (Saddam) could call
democratic elections".

Ho goes on to say that "one of the conditions of those elections would be
that none of the candidates would be allowed funding from the US, ensuring
that there was no American interference in a future Iraqi democratic state.
Anyone who did accept money from the US would be shot"--presumably by a
Saddam who had not entirely stepped down prior to the election.

Ho extolled this initiative by saying that "it could be (Saddam Hussein's)
trump card. North Korea is willing to give Saddam and his family a mountain
in North Korea."

The news story seems to be straight out of Ripley's "Believe It Or Not"
except for one thing: Ho does have North Korean connections. The SCMP notes
that in 1999 Stanley invested US$30 million in the North when he opened a
Casino Pyongyang next to the Korean Workers Party headquarters.

Inscrutable Maru
It's the beginning of a new love inside.
You've got the way to make it all happen.
Set it spinning turning roundabout.
Create a new dimension.
When we are winning we can stop and shout
making love towards perfection.


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