New Year's Celebrations: Asian nations giving enthusiastic welcome to 2013

Asia

"We are planning this public new year event because we want residents of Yangon to enjoy the public countdown like in other countries,'' said Win Thura Hlaing, managing director of Forever Blossom company, a subsidiary of Forever Media.

With live music performances by singers and celebrities, colorful light shows, food stalls, fireworks and other events at the venue, the countdown is expected to draw 50,000 people, Win Thura Hlaing said.

Jakarta's street party will center on a 7-kilometer (4-mile) main thoroughfare closed to all traffic from nightfall until after midnight. Workers were erecting 16 large stages along the normally car-clogged, 8-lane highway through the heart of the city. Indonesia's booming economy is a rare bright spot amid global gloom and bringing prosperity or the hope of it to Indonesians.

Spirits in the capital have been further raised by the election of a new, populist governor, who is pledging action in tackling the city's massive infrastructure problems.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said about 1.5 million spectators were expected to line the harbor to watch the 6.6 million Australian dollar ($6.9 million) fireworks display, while another 2 million Australians among a population of 22 million would watch it on television.

"This is really putting Australia on the map in terms of welcoming people to the new year,'' Moore told reporters at the harbor before the event.

Thousands lined the harbor shore in festive crowds under a blue summer sky by late afternoon, their number undiminished by Australian government warnings that the Washington deadlock on the U.S. debt crisis was partly to blame for a slowing Australian economy.

Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue is host for the event.

Despite the somber mood in the Philippines due to devastation from a recent typhoon, a key problem for authorities remained how to prevent revelers from setting off illegal huge firecrackers including some labeled "Goodbye Philippines'' and "Bin Laden'' that maim and injure hundreds of Filipinos each year, many of them children.

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