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The most amazing man-made structures in Asia

Sunrise at Borobudur temple on Java. Photo: iStockSHANGHAI TOWER

Faster, higher, longer and older: there’s no doubt Asia plays the one-upmanship game when it comes to architectural statements. It’s hard to believe that in 1999, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers broke the US’ hold on skyscraper glory. Those towers have long been surpassed by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, but the newest, pointiest addition to the Asian architecture scene is Shanghai Tower. Opened in September, the world’s second highest building measures 632 metres. GARDENS BY THE BAY, SINGAPORE

Another hotbed of modern architecture, Singapore gleams with man-made marvels, with the fantastical Gardens by the Bay rivalling the voraciously Instagrammed SkyPark infinity pool – the largest of its kind in the world – atop the three-legged Marina Bay Sands skyscraper. BOROBODUR, INDONESIA

Wreathed in mysticism, Asia’s ancient spires of faith are hidden in jungles, or secreted away high in high mountains. The world’s largest Buddhist monument, Borobodur, was built in the 9th century in central Java, Indonesia. Like its peer in Cambodia, the Angkor complex, it was gouged from voracious vines centuries after its significance had faded for the local population. TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY , BHUTAN

Fading into obscurity was never an option for Taktsang Lhakhang. Bhutan’s favourite pin-up, the Tiger’s Nest monastery can be reached only by a steep trek up the side of the Himalayas, but the birthplace of Bhutanese Buddhism hasn’t been out of the country’s consciousness since its heroic construction in 1692. SKYGARDENS, SEOUL

South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is again in the 2017 must-visit lists, and has proven a pro at balancing old and new, with Namdaemun, the country’s first National Treasure and the 14th-century South gate in the Fortress Wall of Seoul neatly balanced by Dame Zaha Hadid’s curved aluminium Dongdaemun Design Plaza on the east wall of the city centre. Not content to sit on its laurels, Seoul’s 17-metre high Skygarden overpass, dubbed the High Line of Asia, opens April 2017. PALACE OF THE WINDS, INDIA

Turrets, fluted columns, curlicues and ramparts, the Rajasthani desert city of Jaipur has an overload of architectural beauty, but Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, wins for its outrageously elaborate facade. Built in 1799, over a thousand windows allowed the women of the royal household to observe life, unobserved. UZBEKISTAN

Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Uzbekistan

In Central Asia, Uzbekistan’s stupendous Bibi-Khanym Mosque was built in 1404 by Tamerlane. A statement of power (that needed elephants to help construct it), it was the largest mosque in his world, thought time didn’t save it. Today’s replica recreates its turquoise domes and elaborate mosaic-clad columns. SHOPHOUSES

Wedged modestly between the ancient world and skyscrapers, Asia’s shophouses are enjoying a revival in fortunes, with a slick of bright paint from Singapore to Vietnam’s Hoi An, Penang in Malaysia, Phuket Old Town and Bangkok’s Old City. Downstairs for trade, upstairs for family, a covered corridor at the front for cool perambulations free from the lashing rain and burning sun of the tropics.

‘Hope has been washed away’: MH370 families condemn decision to halt search

Paul and Danica Weeks on their wedding day in 2007. Danica Weeks, whose husband was on board MH370, with her children Lincoln and Jack. Photo: Janie Barrett

Families of passengers who were on board missing flight MH370 say a government decision to end the search for the plane and ignore game-changing new evidence of its location is “another kick in the guts”.

Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul was one of 238 passengers and crew on the doomed Malaysia Airlines jet, told Fairfax Media that new analysis showing the plane likely crashed in a stretch of the Indian Ocean north of the existing search zone should trigger an extension of the operation.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau review, conducted by a panel of international experts and released this week, found that the 120,000 square kilometre search area likely never contained the wreckage and that salvage teams should instead scour a 25,000 square kilometre area further north.

But the Australian government quickly knocked the idea on the head, saying countries involved in the two-year, $200 million search agreed it will terminate soon unless credible evidence about the “specific location” of the aircraft is found.

Mrs Weeks said the new information was credible and suggested Malaysia should take over and continue the operation if Australia was unwilling.

“They have to find it. It’s not just about us. It’s about the aviation industry as a whole. And if we don’t find out what happened to this plane, it could happen again,” she said.

The Malaysian government, however, has also dismissed the ATSB review.

“Obviously it’s another kick in the guts for the families,” Mrs Weeks said of government responses to the new evidence. “We’ve had so much hope and then each time we’ve got the hope up and it’s been washed away.”

Of the 239 passengers and crew on board MH370, 152 were Chinese nationals and six were Australian.

Jiang Hui, whose 72-year-old mother Jiang Cuiyun was on the flight, has been a vocal representative for Chinese families and has just returned to Beijing from a two-week trip to Madagascar and Mauritius, searching for washed-up debris from the plane with seven other relatives from China, France and Malaysia.

“The search cannot stop,” he told Fairfax Media. “I remember the three governments all told us the search would be continuous, would not end, and would not ge given up on. It is a promise to all families, and to the international community.”

The search for answers has taken a damaging toll on Mr Jiang, who has been let go from his job and diagnosed with clinical depression.

He said families want greater transparency into why the original search area had come up empty, and what information had prompted investigators to define a new one. He said they will not stop searching.

Armed with new information, the panel of experts now believe the wreckage is likely somewhere along what is called the “seventh arc” – a line calculated from when the plane made its final contact with a satellite before it ran out of fuel and went into the sea.

Transport Minister Darren Chester said the search has stretched the ability of technology and global experts and has been the largest ever undertaken.

“The information that they had available to them and the work they’ve done has indicated that they’re in the vicinity of where the aircraft went down,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“Now, obviously, If we don’t find the aircraft in that 120,000-square-kilometre search area, we are open to the criticism that you had looked in the wrong place.

“If it is not there it must be somewhere else and that’s a pretty obvious assumption to make.”

Mrs Weeks, who has two young children, said life since March 2014 has been an emotional rollercoaster.

“If they’re not going to take [the review] on board, I want to know why. We’ll just keep fighting for justice and to bring our loved ones home,” she said.

“I’m going to find him.”

– with David Wroe

RSL broadens inquiry into allegations of financial misbehaviour in NSW hierarchy

Former NSW RSL president Don Rowe at Sydney’s Hyde Park war memorial. Photo: Ben Rushton The RSL has widened the scope of investigations into alleged financial misconduct that flourished for years in the league’s NSW leadership.

Reeling from revelations that a string of state councillors accepted unauthorised “consultancy fees” from nursing home provider RSL LifeCare and former NSW RSL president Don Rowe withdrew more than $200,000 in cash on his RSL credit card, the national body wants to throw the spotlight on all financial dealings from 2004 onwards.

“We are broadening the internal investigation to ensure we fully investigate all of the allegations of financial misconduct by some RSL NSW council members,” acting RSL national president Robert Dick said on Wednesday.

NSW RSL has agreed to form a board of inquiry to investigate the use of expenses, LifeCare consultancy fees and the funnelling of donations from sub-branches and the women’s auxiliaries to LifeCare – all concerning aspects of an initial forensic audit by advisory firm KordaMentha.

The board of inquiry will now be presided over by a former High Court, Federal Court or State Supreme Court judge appointed by the national RSL, Mr Dick said.

It will also be assisted by legal counsel to be announced early in the new year.

“The board of inquiry will identify the nature and extent of all the payments made to the individuals specified in the initial KordaMentha report; and investigate the influence those individuals had over decisions for payments or donations made by the district council and sub-branches to RSL LifeCare,” Mr Dick said.

“It will also investigate the circumstances surrounding Don Rowe’s resignation and the alleged misuse of expenses.”

NSW Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott last week referred allegations against Mr Rowe, including that he withdrew $200,000 in cash from an RSL credit card and provided five family members with mobile phones paid for by the league, to police.

KordaMentha found Mr Rowe and former national president Rod White were among NSW state councillors who received $2.5 million in consultancy fees from RSL LifeCare without the needed permission of the state government under charities laws.

Councillors Bill Humphreys and Bob Crosthwaite, who were also RSL LifeCare directors when the payments were made, have refused to stand aside but have been relieved of all committee duties for the time being.

Mr White has refused to explain any of his actions despite repeated requests for information from KordaMentha.

The initial audit revealed Mr Rowe and Mr White had both used their positions within the RSL to steer donations from other, needier parts of the organisation towards RSL LifeCare while they were receiving consultancy fees.

The board of inquiry will commence hearings soon after KordaMentha submits its next report in about March next year.

Mr Dick said: “We will work in unison with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and other government agencies who are currently conducting their own investigations into these matters.”

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Canberra teen Nickoletta Flannery wants to tap into Lisa de Vanna’s brain

Canberra United recruit Lisa de Vanna with coach Rae Dower after the Matildas captain signed a deal to play in the W-League. Photo: Capital FootballCanberra United young gun Nickoletta Flannery wants to tap into the brain of one of Australian soccer’s greatest players as she prepares to battle Matildas captain Lisa de Vanna for W-League game time.

De Vanna started her stint with W-League ladder leaders Canberra with a pre-Christmas beep test on Wednesday as she sacrifices a holiday at home to begin her mission in the capital.

Canberra coach Rae Dower said the international veteran must train with the team this week and return on Boxing Day if she wants to be considered for selection to play against the Melbourne Victory on December 28.

De Vanna jumped at the chance and was put through a gruelling fitness session after the 32-year-old took a two-month break from the game.

Canberra is already at the top of the ladder and has scored more goals than any team in the competition, but de Vanna’s arrival gives their championship dreams a major boost.

Despite being one of the most decorated players in Matildas history, de Vanna insists she has to earn her place in the Canberra line-up. That includes battling with 17-year-old Flannery for an attacking spot.

“I think it’s going to be good for the team, [de Vanna] is a world-class player and I think everyone can learn something from her,” Flannery said.

“Even at training [on Wednesday] she was giving out orders which kind of lifted our training environment.

“There’s a lot of learning to be had. Lisa’s in my position so I can learn a lot – shooting, crossing, position. It’s good to be here with her. I’ll just try my hardest and see what happens.” Look who is in town! Welcome @lisadevanna11pic.twitter南京夜网/WfnGFrR2Mv— Canberra United (@CanberraUnited) December 19, 2016

Sons of James Sutherland and Steve Waugh make names for themselves

Following on: Austin Waugh, son of Steve, made a one-day ton at the under-17 championships. Photo: Brody Grogan Pedigree: Steve Waugh with Austin during the former Test skipper’s playing days. Photo: Tim Clayton

As the son of the boss of Australian cricket, Will Sutherland has heard the barbs before.

“You get a bit of sledging,” the talented junior said. “You get selected from your dad.”

The teenager knows it’s not true – and he has the runs on the board to show it. Given the potential he is showing, there will be plenty more opportunities for opponents to trash-talk him.

Sutherland, whose father James is the chief of Cricket Australia, is among a group of precocious youngsters progressing through the governing body’s pathways system.

Among his contemporaries is Austin Waugh, the son of former national captain Steve, who has already made headlines for his deeds with NSW in the under-17 national championships.

There are huge wraps on the pair, who along with NSW’s Jason Sangha, are considered well above their age group.

Sangha, 17, became the youngest player contracted by the Blues this year when he was signed as a 16-year-old.

All three have been named to play in a Big Bash League curtain-raiser at the SCG on Tuesday as part of a CA initiative aimed at keeping talented juniors in the game.

Sutherland will lead a Ponting XII consisting of the best performers from this year’s under-17 national championships, against a Gilchrist XII from the under-19s tournament.

Sutherland’s performances with bat and ball are proof there is no nepotism behind his rise in the game.

Batting in the middle order for a CA XI consisting of under-17s at the national under-19 championships, he averaged 51 with a strike rate of 101, and claimed 10 wickets at 16. His standout game came against Queensland, producing a match-winning double of 95 and 5-27.

CA’s pathways manager Graham Manou, a South Australian stalwart who played his only Test in the 2009 Ashes, does not believe it will be long before Victoria sign up Sutherland, who has already made his first-grade debut.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Cricket Victoria look to contract him in the next year or two. From an all-rounder perspective, he’s someone who I can see having a bright future,” Manou said.

Sutherland, a student at Melbourne’s Scotch College, is also a promising footballer, but is committing to cricket despite interest from Oakleigh Chargers, who play in the AFL’s feeder competition the TAC Cup.

“Cricket’s the way to go at the moment, I just enjoy footy with my mates at school,” Sutherland said.

Waugh is already on NSW’s radar as the recipient of a Basil Sellers Scholarship this year. He has not made his first-grade debut and is considered one or two years away from contending for a rookie contract with the Blues.

Waugh, who also had a strong under-19s tournament, bears an uncanny resemblance to his father.

“It was very scary, the first time I saw him – his mannerisms,” Manou said. “Genetically, I suppose you’d expect [it], but it’s like he’s watched a tape of his old man for years. They’re very, very similar.”