SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Will coffee cancer warnings spread beyond California?

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 06:27
By Jung Min-ho Starbucks and other coffee sellers in California must warn customers of a potentially cancer-causing chemical in coffee, following a ruling from a Los Angeles judge last week. Now the global coffee chain is concerned that the impact of the decision may go beyond the U.S. state. “The ruling aroused concern among company employees,” a senior Starbucks Coffee Korea official told The Korea Times Wednesday. “But we have not taken any specific measures in regard to...

KFC Malaysia jumps onto the ‘Rendangate’ bandwagon

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 05:17
“The only thing that should be crispy is our fried chicken” – fast-food chain KFC Malaysia posted on its Instagram as it jumped onto the “Rendangate” bandwagon. KFC Malaysia posted on its Instagram a photo of a bucketful of fried chicken against a backdrop of blazing flames. The photo’s headline reads: “Not Rendang”. In its captioned photo, KFC said: “The only thing that should be crispy is our fried chicken”. The only thing that...

Philippines to close world-renowned Boracay island to tourists for six months

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 04:45
The Philippines has announced its best-known holiday island Boracay will be closed to tourists for six months over concerns that the once idyllic white-sand resort has become a “cesspool” tainted by dumped sewage. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown to start April 26, his spokesman Harry Roque said late Wednesday on Twitter, without providing further detail. The decision raises questions about the livelihoods of thousands employed as part of a bustling tourist...

World researchers shun South Korea university for opening AI weapons lab

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 03:54
More than 50 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers from around the world declared that they will “boycott all contact” with a leading South Korean research university in protest at the opening of an AI weapons lab there. “If developed, autonomous weapons will be the third revolution in warfare. They will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before. They have the potential to be weapons of terror … This Pandora’s box will be...

Rising from the dead: Shinawatras’ Pheu Thai Party registers members for 2019 elections

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 16:07
The Thai political group that has won every national election since 2001, only to be forced out of power repeatedly by non-electoral means, has taken an initial step on a comeback trail, registering its members to contest polls promised for early next year. The Pheu Thai Party last held power in 2014, when an army coup ousted it and installed a military government that until last month banned almost all organised political party activity. The ruling junta, having promised an election for...

‘We want to influence them via Islam’: Malaysian university’s gay conversion contest sparks anger

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 14:58
A contest at a leading Malaysian university seeking ideas to “convert” gay students sparked anger on Wednesday, with activists warning it could drive people in the Muslim-majority country to suicide. It was the latest example of what rights groups say is growing intolerance towards Malaysia’s gay community as religious fundamentalism increases, eroding the multi-ethnic country’s traditionally moderate Islam. The contest organised by the Muslim Students Association at...

Cambodia’s missing railway link to Thailand rebuilt after 45 years

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 14:24
A missing 48km stretch of railway that connects the capital Phnom Penh to the Thai border has been rebuilt, 45 years after it was destroyed in the 1970s during the Cambodian civil war. Passenger trains began operating on Wednesday between the border town of Poipet and Sisophon, a Cambodian provincial capital. There are plans to offer passenger train service eventually from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, although no date has been set. Cambodian minister of transport Sun Chanthol said negotiations with...

How Cambridge Analytica’s parent company helped ‘man of action’ Rodrigo Duterte win the 2016 Philippines election

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 12:31
The parent company of Cambridge Analytica helped put Philippines’ leader Rodrigo Duterte into office after already influencing voters in dozens of campaigns across the globe, according to media reports and information pulled from the firm’s website. Strategic Communications Laboratories, or SCL Group, which owns the political consultancy at the centre of a Facebook data harvesting scandal linked to the 2016 US presidential race, boasted on its website that it helped get Duterte...

Emergency declared as oil spill fire chokes city on Indonesian island of Borneo

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:44
The Indonesian port city of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo, has declared a state of emergency after a devastating oil spill spread along the coast, killing four fisherman when it ignited. The oil spill, which occurred over the weekend, has now stretched to an area of around 18 square kilometres, contaminating the sea and polluting the air with thick black smoke. One protected dugong has already washed up dead on the shore. The four fisherman died after being caught up in the fire caused by...

Three ex-US soldiers on trial for contract killing of Philippines property agent

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:07
A former US Army sniper and two other ex-American soldiers agreed to become contract killers for an international crime boss who wanted to settle a score with a real property agent in the Philippines he thought had cheated him on a land deal, a prosecutor said in opening statements at the trial of the three men. Joseph Hunter, a one-time sergeant with a Special Forces background, Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell have denied they planned the 2012 execution-style hit – a case that’...

Wasps and booze don’t mix. Yes, this an official health warning in South Korea

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:34
South Koreans who enjoy a rare flavour of soju, the country’s most beloved alcohol, have been discouraged from mixing wasps into their drinks as a tonic after a health warning from the food ministry. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said on Tuesday mixing wasps and soju could pose health risks for tipplers after the drink gained popularity on the internet. Some drinkers believe wasp soju is especially good for high blood pressure and diabetes. Some also add other insects, including...

Insults fly as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte calls UN rights chief ‘empty-headed’ for saying he needed psychiatric evaluation

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:16
President Rodrigo Duterte has launched a foul-mouthed attack on the UN human rights chief, calling him “empty-headed” in a row over international criticism of the Philippine leader’s deadly drug war. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, had last month said Duterte needed “psychiatric evaluation” and that his verbal attacks on a United Nations rapporteur who condemned his anti-drug crackdown could not go unanswered. “Hey son...

The cheapest countries in the world for drugs, booze and cigarettes

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 07:50
The cost of maintaining a drugs, booze and cigarettes habit was cheaper in Hong Kong and Singapore than the US last year, the annual Bloomberg Global Vice Index shows. Americans had to fork out over US$200 more for a basket of so-called vice goods last year versus 2016, with only New Zealand seeing a bigger increase. The gauge compares the share of income needed to maintain a broad weekly habit of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and opioids across more than 100 countries....

14,000 tonnes of durians exported from Malaysia last year

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 07:17
By Hemananthani Sivanandam More than 14,000 metric tonnes of durians were exported from Malaysia last year, says the country’s Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry. In a written reply to the lower house of parliament, it said the du­rians were exported in the form of whole fruit, pulp and paste. The export brought in RM70.68 million (US$18.24 million) in revenue. Among the main destinations are Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States and China. Although it was just six per...

Rare North Korea concert with plenty of warm feelings and Kim Jong-il’s favourite 80s song about love

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 06:37
Musicians from North and South Korea held hands, sang and cried together at a rare concert held in Pyongyang that ended with an emotional standing ovation by thousands of spectators. The South Korean pop stars returned home Wednesday after two concerts in the North’s capital this week, the first of which was attended by leader Kim Jong-un who said he was “deeply moved” by their performance. Their visit, part of a cultural charm offensive by Seoul, comes as a diplomatic thaw...

Electric Vehicles ‘not macho enough’ for some New Zealand dads, says survey

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:32
By Jamie Morton Range anxiety - or the fear of running out of power on longer trips - has been one of the biggest turn-offs facing electric vehicle ownership. Now a survey has thrown up another: some blokes won’t buy one because it might dent their macho image. A poll of New Zealand EV owners found the powerful thrum of an internal combustion engine was apparently more manly than the calm quiet of an electric engine - something more likely to appeal to women. Just over 60 per cent on...

Americans caught on video making racist gestures on South Korean subway

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:15
By Kang Aa-young Three Americans, including a 32-year-old teacher, went on a rampage on a subway train, Friday, attacking and harassing passengers. The three are now under police investigation.   According to police, a woman hit a Korean man and abused him on the train. The man suffered bruises and cuts to his face. Police said the three attacked the man after he asked them to “be quiet.” A video clip that went viral shows that at least one American made...

Philippine consul-general in Hong Kong seeks to ease fears over security screening for Duterte visit

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 16:06
The new Philippine consul-general in Hong Kong has assured his compatriots that their personal data will be protected during tough security measures to screen prospective guests to a meet and greet with the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte next week. Duterte will hold a six-hour meeting with members of the city’s Filipino community on April 12, and online registration has been extended to this Friday to accommodate as many people as possible at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, the likely...

Kuwait to recruit Ethiopians after Philippines bans workers over grisly murder of a maid

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 16:00
Kuwait will recruit Ethiopian nationals to make up for a “deficit” in domestic workers, authorities said Tuesday, following the grisly murder of a Philippine maid in the Gulf state. The Philippines banned its citizens from working in Kuwait after the body of 29-year-old Joanna Demafelis was found in a freezer earlier this year, bearing signs of torture. “We aim to open the door to the recruitment of Ethiopian workers to fill the deficit of domestic servants and reduce...

They’re at it again: Lee Kuan Yew home must be razed, younger children insist

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 13:31
Should the late Lee Kuan Yew’s storied bungalow be demolished or not? Singaporean officials tasked with studying future options for the property at 38 Oxley Road this week listed tearing it down as one of three ways forward, but his two younger children Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang say anything short of demolition would be an affront to their father’s final wishes. Their comments on Tuesday put on display their continued divisions with their elder brother, Prime Minister Lee...

MasterChef UK judges skewered on Twitter for telling Malaysian contestant her chicken rendang should have been ‘crispy’

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 13:14
Judges on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian food after insisting the chicken in a Malaysian contestant’s rendang curry should have been crispy. Foodies in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have taken to social media to vent at the critique of the Malaysian-born cook’s traditional and standard method for preparing chicken rendang. “The skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten but all the sauce is on the skin I can’t eat,...

Hours after India announced it would punish journalists for ‘fake news’, PM Narendra Modi had second thoughts

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 12:00
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reversed an order to punish journalists found guilty of reporting “fake news”, after an outcry over a perceived government crackdown on the press. The media sanctions, issued late Monday, stated that the government would withdraw the official accreditation of any journalist responsible for repeated reporting of “fake news”. The ministry did not define “fake news” but the government said it needed to curb the spread of...

Malaysia intercepts boat carrying 56 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 10:16
Malaysia has intercepted a boat carrying 56 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar off its northern island of Langkawi, authorities said on Tuesday, with some rights groups expecting further perilous journeys by sea after last year’s surge in violence in Myanmar. The boat had stopped at an island in southern Thailand on Sunday after a storm, with officials there saying the refugees were heading to Malaysia. It had set sail from central Rakhine state in Myanmar, the UN refugee agency said. “...

Cannabis is needed for medical treatment in South Korea, but legislation is slow to happen

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 10:03
By Kim Se-jeong Kim is a medical doctor and a mother of a seven-year-old boy who suffers Lennos-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), or childhood-onset epilepsy. She learned about the effectiveness of cannabis oil in treating epilepsy symptoms and ordered it from overseas last year. The oil arrived in Korea but never got to her address. Instead, the prosecution which was tipped off by the customs authority visited her and questioned her over attempting to smuggle drugs into Korea. In a similar case, a...

Thailand seizes US$22 million worth of ‘Golden Triangle’ meth destined for Malaysia

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 09:41
Thailand has made one of its largest crystal methamphetamine busts, seizing 700 million baht (US$22.4 million) worth of the drug, police said on Tuesday, as the United Nations warned Southeast Asia was being flooded with illegal drugs from the “Golden Triangle” region. Police said 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of the drug, known as ice, was seized on March 28 in southern Chumpon Province and were destined for Malaysia. The drugs were produced in the Golden Triangle region, where the...

Rare New Zealand Punk Rock vinyl sells for nearly US$800, a record price for the country

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:56
By Aimee Shaw A rare, New Zealand-pressed vinyl record released in 1978 has sold on Trade Me for more than NZ$1000 (US$725)- smashing an all-time record. The Suburban Reptiles’ Saturday Night Stay at Home 45rpm received nine bids on the New Zealand auction site on Sunday and sold for NZ$1180 (US$855). The Trade Me listing described the product as a “very rare original NZ pressing 6036 924, released in 1978” and that a student radio survey had rated the record as “the...

Malaysia PM Najib Razak expected to call election on Friday

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:37
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to announce the dissolution of parliament on Friday, a government minister said, paving way for what is expected to be the toughest ever general election for his long-ruling coalition. Najib is under pressure to secure a strong mandate as he grapples with a multibillion dollar scandal at a state fund and public anger over rising living costs. To do so, he must fend off an unprecedented challenge from his old mentor, former prime minister Mahathir...

Cybersecurity threats are on the rise in Thailand

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:27
Suchit Leesa-Nguansuk Cybersecurity threats in Thailand are intensifying, the country’s ranking dropping last year to 18th-worst from 25th in 2016, with cryptojacking in particular on the rise, says Symantec, a leading information security firm. “Cybersecurity threats in Thailand worsened in 2017, compared with 2016, because there were more connected devices and higher interest in cryptocurrencies and exchanges,” said Sherif El-Nabawi, senior director for Asia-Pacific system...

Vigilantes detain four in Indonesia’s Aceh for alleged gay sex. Now they face 100 lashes

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:22
Rights activists called on Tuesday for Indonesia’s Aceh province to release four people detained on suspicion of having homosexual sex, amid concerns over the persecution of the LGBT community in the world’s third-largest democracy. Secular Indonesia is predominantly Muslim but ultra-conservative Aceh is the only province to follow sharia, or Islamic law, and criminalise gay sex. Indonesia’s parliament is currently debating revisions to the national criminal code that could...

Singapore Airbnb hosts fined US$45,800 for unauthorised rental of luxury flats

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:02
Two Singaporean Airbnb hosts were Tuesday fined S$60,000 (US$45,800) each for letting out flats without official permission, the first such case in the city state under new rules against short-term rentals. Housing agents Terence Tan En Wei and Yao Songliang had previously pleaded guilty to illegally renting out four flats in a luxury private condominium in central Singapore. Prosecutors said the pair had listed the flats on Airbnb, which allows homeowners to share their homes for a fee by...

Chinese executive arrested in Japan for opening cryptocurrency account he sold to criminals

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 07:48
Japan police said Tuesday they arrested a Chinese man in Tokyo for allegedly opening a cryptocurrency account that he later sold to a criminal group. Lin Xiaolin, 30, a corporate executive living in Tokyo, was arrested on March 15 for allegedly opening the account at a virtual currency exchange in Tokyo by accessing its server from China using the name of a Vietnamese individual, they said. He has denied the allegation. The police said the account was then immediately sold to the criminal group...

Five wacky things you never knew existed are actually available on e-commerce site Lazada

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 07:12
We have all seen or at least heard of the weird, quirky things you can find on Chinese e-commerce site Taobao, but its Southeast Asian counterpart Lazada does stock its fair share of crazy stuff too to ensure that no one gets left out. Lazada is 83 per cent-owned by Alibaba Group Holding Limited, which also owns Taobao (along with the South China Morning Post), and has invested a total of US$4 billion in the portal, which operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. Since...

Seven killed as India’s lowest caste Dalits lead street protests against court order

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 07:12
Low-caste Dalits fought street battles with police that left at least seven dead as protests against a Supreme Court rights ruling swept across large swathes of India. Protesters on Monday clashed with security forces, attacked buses and government buildings, and blocked trains and major roads. Four people were killed in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, where police also imposed a curfew, Indian television channels reported. Three others were killed in other states, local media said....

Indian family claims monkey snatched baby later found dead in a well

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 06:30
A newborn was sleeping under a mosquito net at his home in eastern India when, his mother claimed, a monkey scooped him up and carried him away. The mother told authorities that she watched helplessly as the animal invaded their home over the weekend in a village in Banki, Orissa, and took her days-old son. “She raised an alarm but the monkey quickly leapt over the roof and vanished out of sight,” police sub-inspector S.M. Baral said. After an emotional day-long search for the child...

Australian police threaten to fine ‘real life Hamburglar’ for taking wrong McDonald’s order

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 06:30
By Jessica Lin A McDonald’s customer in Sydney is being called the “real life Hamburglar”, after local police threatened to fine him for accepting the wrong order. Santo Le Roca said he was wrongly accused of stealing another drive-through customer’s order by the Bass Hills McDonald’s outlet. Officers showed up at his door and threatened him with a AU$300 (US$230) fine around a week ago, radio station Kiis 1065 reported. Le Roca reportedly paid cash for his order,...

Robots might solve Japan’s labour problems

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 05:50
By Saheli Roy Choudhury When Tetsuya Sawanobori finished grad school about a decade ago, he decided to start his own business. He set up a restaurant in Japan, following in the footsteps of his grandparents and uncle. A year later, he stopped. “I realised it’s very hard,” Sawanobori told CNBC. With few holidays, and working on average 16 hours a day, he said he was “exhausted, and that’s why I gave it up.” “Right now, especially in the food service...

Bambi attacks: Japan’s Nara Park issues warning after deer bite hundreds of tourists, many of them Chinese

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 03:40
Nara Park in western Japan is warning tourists not to tease its famous wild deer, after almost 200 tourists were injured by the animals last year. The park, where herds of deer roam around its historic holy sites, began offering tips Tuesday on how to safely feed the animals amid the spate of bite injuries to tourists. The 660-hectare park encompassing the Todaiji Temple and Kasugataisha Shrine has become a major tourist attraction where visitors feed special crackers to the 1,000-plus deer on...

Myanmar agrees to UN Security Council visit after months of resistance

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 23:21
Myanmar has agreed to a visit by the UN Security Council after months of resistance, but it remains unclear whether ambassadors will be allowed to go to Rakhine state, the body’s president said Monday. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have been driven out of Rakhine state and are living in crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh since a Myanmar army operation in August. After the council proposed a visit in February, Myanmar’s government said it was “not the right time”, but it has...

Filipinos express privacy, venue concerns over president Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Hong Kong

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 15:35
Filipino community leaders in Hong Kong have expressed concerns over the arrangements for President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to the city, saying the suspected venue is difficult to reach, and the collection of attendees’ personal information is a step too far. On April 12, Duterte will visit the city for the second time in just 10 months, after he attends the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference set for April 8-11 in Boao, Hainan Province in China. The president’s April 12...

‘Something very dangerous for our country’: Malaysia approves law against ‘fake news’ despite outcry

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 13:11
Malaysia’s government on Monday pushed a law through parliament that makes “fake news” punishable with a maximum six-year jail term despite an outcry from critics worried it will be used to stifle dissent before elections. The law targets foreign as well as local media, and is seen in part as an effort to silence criticism of the scandal surrounding sovereign wealth fund 1MDB that has rocked the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak. The election is expected within...

Singaporean couple to challenge court’s annulment of their marriage due to husband’s sex change

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 12:34
A Singaporean couple have launched a legal challenge after authorities annulled their marriage because the husband underwent a sex change, a lawyer said Monday. The city state voided the marriage last year, saying the operation made their partnership a same-sex union that is illegal under Singapore law. Singapore is a modern and vibrant society in many ways but attitudes towards homosexuality are still conservative and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the country is not yet ready for...

‘Victims are treated like animals’: Indian police accused of failing to take sexual assault and rape cases seriously, despite reforms

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 11:41
More than five years after a horrific rape sparked promises to empower women in India and reform the handling of sexual assault cases, victims say they still face harassment when they turn to police for help. The sickening assault on Delhi student Jyoti Singh in 2012 provoked national soul-searching about widespread failure to tackle sex crimes, and bolstered laws to punish offenders and police accused of turning a blind eye or victim shaming. But rights groups say police still refuse to file...

Homosexual convictions in New Zealand can be wiped under law Parliament set to pass

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 10:40
By Audrey Young New Zealand’ parliament will unanimously pass a law allowing the convictions of men for homosexual offences to be expunged from the public record. Such men are also likely to receive an apology for a second time but there will be no compensation. Applications for expungement may be made by the men themselves or by a representative, including a family member, if the person with convictions has died. Several MPs have made personal speeches during the course of the...

Sales of fake goods in Southeast Asia hits alarming level

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 10:18
By Kang Siew Li and Wong Ee Lin Counterfeiting has reached an alarming level, causing huge revenue losses to governments across Southeast Asia, says Piotr Stryszowski, senior economist of public governance and territorial development directorate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Stryszowski, who has been following this issue at the grouping of rich developed nations for some 10 years, observed that the scale of this problem has been growing in the region. And...

Customers billed by Netflix in New Zealand during attempted guessing of account numbers

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 09:49
Several customers of The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) have been billed by Netflix as someone attempted to guess bank account numbers in the streaming service’s free trial sign up. ANZ confirmed a small number of customers were affected in New Zealand over the weekend but the majority of the transactions were automatically reversed. “We are monitoring customer accounts for any suspicious activity. “A small number of customers made touch with us and we replaced...

Philippines begins recount in Marcos son’s defeat in vice-presidential election after he accused rival of cheating

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 09:00
The Philippines on Monday began a manual recount of votes in a vice-presidential election after the son and namesake of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos contested the outcome, while the incumbent assured supporters her win was not in doubt. Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, a former senator popularly known as Bongbong, is furious about having lost to Leni Robredo by about 260,000 votes in a May 2016 election he says was marred by massive cheating. Many political commentators believe Marcos has ambitions to...

Shared bikes in Singapore used as ‘clothing racks, dangled from bridges and abandoned at shipyards’

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 06:55
By Cynthia Choo A bicycle locked outside a flat and used as a clothing rack; another dangling from a bridge, just above a pond. Others left behind in shipyards. These are just some of the bizarre places where shared bicycles have been found, bicycle marshals and operation leaders in Singapore told TODAY. Hired by bike-sharing operators, these marshals are deployed across the island to locate and rearrange indiscriminately parked bicycles, repair damaged parts and redistribute the bicycles to...

Train station dog Wasao who stole Japan’s heart with his ‘cute and ugly’ looks has been rehired to welcome tourists

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 06:21
Fans of a dog called Wasao will be in for a treat for another year as the canine, who has gained fame in Japan with his unique looks, was reappointed as a “tourism stationmaster”. The big white furry with squint eyes is widely known as busa kawaii, a combination of two Japanese words – busaiku, which means “ugly” and kawaii meaning “cute”. The canine became an online sensation through blog articles and eventually rose to TV stardom. Wasao will be...

Thai navy escorts boat carrying Rohingya towards Malaysia as thousands live in squalid Bangladesh refugee camps

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 05:05
A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya refugees trying to reach Malaysia briefly stopped on a Thai island, as fears grow about overcrowded camps for the stateless minority fleeing violence in Myanmar. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought shelter in southern Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents in August that the US and UN have called ethnic cleansing. But the refugees have arrived to find cramped settlements and often squalid conditions in Cox’s Bazar,...

Kim Jong-un is a Red Velvet superfan, praising K-pop girl band who serenade him with ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Red Flavour’

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 02:17
K-pop girl band Red Velvet has a new superfan – North Korean leader Kim-jong-un, who apparently adjusted his schedule to watch them perform on Sunday in Pyongyang and singled them out for praise. Kim attended a landmark concert by a host of South Korean stars in Pyongyang as part of a diplomatic thaw between the north and south. But it was the stars of Red Velvet, who sang their hits “Bad Boy” and “Red Flavour”, who caught his eye. Kim Jong-un attends K-pop...

Beijing and Hanoi promise to keep the peace in South China Sea, where Vietnam has emerged as most vocal claimant

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 16:48
China and Vietnam vowed on Sunday to keep the peace in the South China Sea, the resource-rich waterway that has long been a source of tension between Hanoi and its powerhouse communist neighbour. China claims most of the disputed sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves and is highly strategic for trade and defence. Beijing has built up artificial islands capable of hosting military installations in recent years, stoking ire from claimants like Vietnam, which has emerged as...

Kim Jong-un attends performance by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang as diplomatic thaw continues

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 16:23
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday attended the first concert in Pyongyang for over a decade by South Korean entertainers, including a K-pop girl band, the latest gesture of reconciliation before a rare inter-Korean summit. The visit came as a diplomatic thaw quickens on the peninsula after months of military tensions. The 120-member group – 11 musical acts as well as dancers, technicians and martial artists – are giving a concert on Sunday and another on Tuesday. Kim and his...

‘The fight is still on’: 16 killed as violence grips Indian Kashmir

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 14:52
Sixteen people have been killed in Indian Kashmir in some of the fiercest fighting this year in the restive Himalayan region, police said on Sunday, as authorities braced for more violence. A total of three Indian soldiers and 11 suspected militants died in several clashes south of Srinagar, the main city of the region divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both. Two civilians were also killed and dozens injured when police opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who poured...

Kuwait court issues death sentence for couple who murdered Philippine maid and kept her body in freezer

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 13:32
A Kuwaiti court on Sunday sentenced in absentia a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife to death by hanging over the murder of a Filipina maid, a judicial source said. The court issued the sentence in the first hearing in the case of Joanna Demafelis, the 29-year-old maid whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait earlier this year. The sentencing can still be appealed if the couple returns to Kuwait, the source said on condition of anonymity. The Demafelis murder triggered a diplomatic crisis...

You have not arrived: why Google Maps is a lost cause for Indonesian drivers

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 13:04
Suri Nurani has had it with Google Maps. A scooter driver in Jakarta with Indonesia’s ride-hailing company Go-Jek, she earns a living by getting from points A to B in the quickest, most efficient way possible. While you might think the launch of digital map services like Google Maps and Waze would be a godsend for her, Nurani prefers to ask directions from people on the street. She’s been burned one too many times by the smartphone apps, both owned by US tech giant Alphabet. Uber: a...

‘I cried in anger’: Marawi residents make painful homecoming to city destroyed by fight against jihadists

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 11:09
After fleeing for their lives nearly a year ago, residents of the battle-scarred Philippine city of Marawi were allowed back on Sunday for the first time – to dig through the rubble that was once their homes. Swathes of the southern city were destroyed in five months of house-to-house fighting between troops and jihadists loyal to Islamic State (IS) that killed nearly 1,200. Tearful residents dug charred furniture and broken toys from the ruins, which still conceals unexploded bombs...

Editor in Thailand faces charges after sharing student’s drawing of kings wearing face masks

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 10:26
An editor in Thailand faces possible criminal charges for sharing a student’s “disrespectful” picture of historic kings wearing face masks to highlight air pollution in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The governor of Chiang Ma said on Sunday that he believed Pim Kemasingki, editor of the Chiang Mai Citylife magazine, had breached the Computer Crime Act by sharing the picture. “It is up to the police to gather evidence,” Pawin Chamniprasart said. In a letter to...

‘Kill all Muslims, don’t let even one child of the dogs escape’: in Sri Lanka, Facebook struggles to curb hate speech

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 09:30
With Sri Lanka under a state of emergency after a spasm of anti-Muslim bloodshed, lawyer Jeevanee Kariyawasam went on Facebook to complain. The company hadn’t blocked users inciting violence, she wrote, and the government hadn’t arrested those sending out the offending posts. Facebook’s response was swift: it suspended Kariyawasam’s account. The company restored her account within 24 hours but the incident this month highlighted how Facebook has become a powerful vehicle...

Prominent Bangladesh lawyer vanishes after militants sentenced to death at trials

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 09:28
A prominent Bangladeshi lawyer who fought the state’s case in a high-profile murder trial against Islamist extremists has disappeared, police said Sunday, with grave fears for his safety. Ratish Chandra Bhowmik, a respected prosecutor and champion of minority rights, has not been seen since he left his home in Rangpur early Friday morning. His disappearance comes a fortnight after seven militants from the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh were sentenced to death for murdering the caretaker...

South Korea deploys ‘Munmu the Great’ warship to Ghana after pirates kidnap sailors

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 08:57
South Korea has deployed an anti-piracy warship to the sea off Ghana after three South Korean sailors were kidnapped by pirates, Seoul’s foreign ministry said. The 500-tonne Marine 711 with about 40 Ghanaian and three South Korean sailors was boarded by unidentified pirates last Monday. The pirates seized the three South Koreans and escaped on a separate speedboat, with their current whereabouts unknown. The Marine 711, registered in Ghana, later arrived at a port at Ghana where the...

Nepali Sherpa sets sights on record 22nd Everest summit but he claims he’s just getting started

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 08:54
A Nepali Sherpa is hoping to summit Mount Everest for a record-breaking 22nd time next month, during the busy climbing season that each year sees hundreds of climbers reach the top of the world. But to Kami Rita Sherpa, who has worked as a guide on Everest for over two decades, climbing to 8,848 metres is a job not a record-shattering feat. “I did not start climbing to set a world record. But in the course of my work in the guiding industry this is going to be my 22nd ascent. It wasn...

Freak accident: building collapses in India after car crashes into it, killing 10

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 08:41
Ten people have died after a car crashed into a dilapidated building in central India and brought down the near century-old structure, burying them beneath rubble, police said Sunday. The freak accident in Indore on Saturday evening is the latest building disaster in a country infamous for poor construction and safety standards. The driver lost control of his vehicle and struck a pillar holding up the near 100-year-old structure, said police deputy inspector general Harinarayanchari Mishra....

US and South Korea begin low-key ‘Foal Eagle’ military drills amid diplomatic thaw with North

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 06:25
The United States and South Korea kicked off a low-key joint military drill Sunday as a diplomatic thaw over North Korea gathered pace. Tension on the flashpoint peninsula have showed signs of easing in recent months after the isolated, nuclear-armed North proposed summits with the South and their “imperialist enemy” the US. The annual Foal Eagle drill – a series of field training exercises involving some 11,500 American and 290,000 South Korean troops – began early...

The small fishing town providing Japan’s nuclear litmus test

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 05:33
The views from the sleepy coastal town of Kaminoseki could not be more contrasting. From the tip of the Murotsu peninsula on Japan’s Honshu island, one can glimpse the country’s pre-industrial past on an islet just a few kilometres offshore. There, on Iwaishima, an elderly and dwindling population now down to just a few hundred fishermen, cling to a traditional way of life with little to disturb them bar the mating calls of migratory murrelets. The view from Iwaishima is different....

What’s made Indonesian students forget the China taboo?

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 04:01
Jevon Tantono is a confessed “mechatronics geek”. His eyes light up when he talks about the possibility of studying this mash-up of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer engineering and telecommunications. His dream job is to build industrial robots. For him, there is only one place to chase that dream: China. Indonesia’s universities don’t have a mechatronics programme and Tantono would be stuck studying mechanical engineering were he to stay in his home country...

Big Data? It’s an ancient trick, we’re just better at it (and China has more to come)

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 03:03
When Marcus Tullius Cicero ran for the office of consul in Rome in 64BC, he brought in his brother Quintus as his adviser. Quintus apparently offered wise counsel and, according to the texts, was not above dirty politics. It’s unlikely that Quintus was the first political consultant in history, but his approach has survived the ages: do anything and everything to win. In the past couple of weeks, there has been a chorus of political schadenfreude even though many of those taking the...

Cambridge Analytica in Asia: modern-day colonialism, or empathy in the digital age?

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 01:00
From India to Malaysia, Indonesia to Thailand, Asian politicians are realising this week that they won’t be spared the blowback their Western counterparts are facing over controversial data-driven campaigning practices that have been thrust into the spotlight by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Since the initial blitz of revelations in mid-March about the British-based data-mining firm’s alleged illegal use of Facebook data from millions of US voters to aid Donald Trump’s...

‘Only Kshatriyas can ride horses’: how a low-caste Indian Dalit was beaten to death for owning horse

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 16:22
A young farmer from India’s lowest Dalit community has been beaten to death for owning a horse, which is seen as a symbol of power and wealth, police said Saturday. Police have detained three upper caste men for questioning after the body of 21-year-old Pradeep Rathod was found in a pool of blood near Timbi village in Gujarat state late Thursday night. Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables”, are among the most marginalised groups in India, where caste discrimination is...

Journey to the past: why overseas Chinese are finally embracing their roots

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 14:01
While he was growing up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Dennis Yeung was unaware of the differences between himself and the other boys. Sure, he was known as “Ching”, but even here he may have caught a break. One white classmate was known as “Buddha” because he was fat. Another kid was “Fungus” owing to wad of peach fuzz on his face. Now, 68, the jovial retired mechanical engineer recalls that it wasn’t until he started shaving that the difference...

Japan whalers return from Antarctic hunt after killing 333 whales

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 12:26
Japanese whaling vessels returned to port on Saturday after catching more than 300 of the mammals in the Antarctic Ocean without facing any protests by anti-whaling groups, officials said. A fleet of five whalers set sail for the Southern Ocean in November, as Tokyo pursues its “research whaling” in defiance of global criticism. Three of the vessels, including the fleet’s main ship, the Nisshin Maru, arrived in the morning at Shimonoseki port in western Japan, a port official...

UN blacklists 27 ships and 21 companies for helping North Korea dodge sanctions

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:23
The UN Security Council on Friday blacklisted 27 ships, 21 companies and a businessman for helping North Korea circumvent sanctions, as the United States keeps up pressure on Pyongyang despite its recent overtures toward talks, diplomats said. Acting on a request from the United States, it was the largest ever package of sanctions designations on North Korea approved by a council committee, diplomats said. The move is part of a global crackdown on the smuggling of North Korean commodities in...

‘We will become a republic within my lifetime,’ says New leader Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 07:57
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that she expects her country could become a republic within her lifetime. In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, Ardern said there was great fondness for the members of the royal family whenever they visited New Zealand. And although could not remember the last time a voter had asked her about becoming a republic, and admitted it was not a priority for her administration, she did believe New Zealand would eventually transition away from...

K-pop stars head north for performance in Pyongyang as ties continue to thaw on Korean peninsula

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 07:38
K-pop stars led a group of South Korean musicians departing for Pyongyang on Saturday to take part in the latest set of cross-border cultural performances ahead of next month’s rare inter-Korean summit. The 120-member group including top girl band Red Velvet flew from Seoul’s Gimpo airport aboard a chartered civilian flight to Pyongyang via the rarely used direct air route between the two Koreas, as a rapprochement on the peninsula gathers pace. “This performance in Pyongyang...

‘She maligned Pakistan, Islam and the army’: Malala’s return elicits mixed reactions in her hometown

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 06:49
In the Pakistani hometown of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, reminders are frequent of the daughter of scenic northwestern Swat Valley who survived a gun attack – and so are memories of harsh rule by the Taliban. Yousafzai is visiting Pakistan for the first time since the Pakistani Taliban – now on the run but still able to launch attacks – shot her in the head in 2012 over her advocacy for girls’ education and opposition to Islamist militancy. By late on...

In China, Kim Jong-un was an astute player on his international debut

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 05:01
By mutual agreement, the reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Beijing and his meetings with President Xi Jinping last week were meant to be kept top secret until he left China. The Chinese authorities, which equally value secrecy, were happy to oblige. Official media reports about Kim’s visit were not released until he was safely back in his own country on Wednesday morning. This has given rise to black humour on Chinese social media platforms. One of the better...

Kim Jong-un wants North Korea to compete at Tokyo and Beijing Olympics

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 03:38
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at a meeting on Friday that the IOC would cooperate with the North to prepare for its participation in the 2020 Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported. Bach travelled to Pyongyang on Thursday in a visit that comes after North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Games helped ease inter-Korean relations. He told Kim...

Meet the Russian risk takers making safe Singapore their home

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 02:31
At the entrance to the headquarters of global data protection firm Acronis, located in downtown Singapore, there is a life-size cardboard cut-out of Serguei Beloussov – the company’s founder and chief executive. In the world of tech, the Russian-born entrepreneur is something of a celebrity. He built Acronis into a billion-dollar IT empire with offices in 18 countries. The firm also partners Formula One teams Scuderia Toro Rosso and Williams Martini Racing, its logo emblazoned on...

Why Kim’s China visit raises – and dashes – hopes for Trump summit

Sat, 03/31/2018 - 01:01
What a difference a week makes. Just days ago, Seoul might justifiably have believed that settling the date for the first inter-Korean summit for over a decade would have been enough to steal the headlines. But then it would not have been reckoning on a surprise international debut by the leader of the hermit nation to its north, nor on the appointment of a US national security adviser who has openly backed pre-emptive strikes on North Korea, nor on yet another missive from US President Donald...

UN blacklists 27 ships and 21 businesses over North Korea smuggling at request of United States

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 21:58
The UN Security Council on Friday blacklisted 27 ships, 21 companies and a businessman for helping North Korea circumvent sanctions, keeping the pressure on Pyongyang despite its recent diplomatic opening to talks, a diplomat said. Acting on a request from the United States, a council committee approved the largest-ever package of sanctions designations on North Korea, the council diplomat said on condition of anonymity. The move is part of a global crackdown on the smuggling of North Korean...

IOC president meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 18:36
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Friday. Bach said in an exclusive interview the two had a 30-minute formal meeting followed by 45 minutes of casual discussions while watching a football match on Friday afternoon at Pyongyang’s huge May Day Stadium. He said Kim Jong-un supported a plan to have North Korean athletes compete in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. Bach arrived in...

Asia in 3 minutes: good job news for Korea’s nut rage heiress, Japanese Hooters staff, Pakistani transgender TV anchor

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 16:22
Pakistan’s first transgender anchor hails ‘unprecedented support’ A Pakistani TV channel has put the country’s first transgender news anchor on the air, a watershed cultural moment for the marginalised community in the deeply conservative country. Marvia Malik, a former model who appeared on the Lahore-based private broadcaster Kohenoor for the first time, said she has received “unprecedented love and support” since landing the job. “My family never...

Japan sticks with tradition and excludes female imperial family members from Crown Prince Naruhito’s enthronement

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 12:05
Japan is sticking with tradition and not allowing female imperial family members to attend the enthronement ritual of Crown Prince Naruhito when he takes over from his father Emperor Akihito. Naruhito will formally succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1 next year, a day after Emperor Akihito steps down. Announcing the plans for the imperial succession rites, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said only male imperial family members will attend the ritual, which sees the new emperor...

Najib’s the election favourite, but there’s a Malay tsunami coming

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 11:45
Professor Redzuan Othman, the vice-chancellor of the University of Selangor, has often insisted numbers do not lie. And that his statistical models are empirically solid. Moreover, based on this week’s move by Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government to change constituency boundaries, he now believes the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition will win big again. Redzuan’s predictions have been right on several occasions, and he is a serious and professional pollster. But there is...

‘Heck it was productive’: New Zealand company trials four-day work week .... but will it stick?

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 10:12
On the first long weekend of her employer’s experiment with a four-day working week, Kirsten Taylor freaked out a little bit. Like a housework hurricane, she got through mounds of clothes-washing, weeded the garden, cleaned the windows and mowed the lawn. It had been lovely to spend extra time with her 21-month-old son, but by the end of the third day off she was shattered. “I actually found that day really hard. I ran myself ragged,” laughs Taylor, who is a solo mother....

‘Greener’ pastures could help farms slash emissions, say New Zealand researchers

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 09:45
By Jamie Morton Shifting to “greener” pastures could help our farms slash their greenhouse gas emissions. Findings of a new Kiwi study suggest using an alternative plant type, like plantain, in grazed pasture could help cut nitrous oxide emissions from soils. The AgResearch study set out to compare emissions of the potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, from soils containing different types of forage – perennial ryegrass, white clover, plantain and lucerne - over...

Why are foreign leaders snubbing Najib ahead of Malaysia’s election?

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 09:03
As election season enters full swing in Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak appears to be running low on foreign friends. There has been a distinct lack of VIPs from the region, or the rest of the world, who have pledged to visit Malaysia and give Najib a boost as he prepares his United Malays Nationalist Organisation (Umno) party and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition for an election that could be called in a matter of weeks or in August at the latest. Many analysts predict this will be...

Man admits beating monk to death in Thailand over boxing wager

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 08:04
By Chinnawat Singha A man arrested for beating an elderly monk to death and fleeing in a stolen temple vehicle told police they had argued over payment of bets made on boxing matches on TV, and he lost his temper. Makhata Seesai, 38, was caught at a relative’s house in the district of Wichian Buri in the northern province of Phetchabun in Thailand and later taken back to the city of Phitsanulok for a crime re-enactment. Angry residents and monks gathered to watch the re-enactment and...

Power to the people: round-the-clock electricity finally reaches Indian tourist town

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:40
Deepa Bhoir used to sit in darkness outside her island home and stare at Mumbai glowing in the distance. Now she stays up late watching soap operas – one of millions of Indians whose lives have been transformed by a drive to get power to every corner of the country. Bhoir and her husband Sasuram are among hundreds of villagers on the Unesco world heritage-listed island of Elephanta to have had mains electricity installed in their houses for the first time. Local officials hope tourists,...

Filipinos celebrate Easter with crucifixions and self-flagellation

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:08
Filipino zealots marked Good Friday with a bloody display of religious frenzy by having themselves nailed to crosses and whipping their backs raw in Asia’s bastion of Catholicism. Though frowned upon by the church, the gruesome re-enactments of Christ’s final moments draw thousands of believers – and tourists – in a carnival-like atmosphere that is big business for locals. In towns located north of Manila at least three people had 8cm spikes driven through their palms...

‘The new parties need time’: Thai junta vows to lift politics ban in June after series of delays on promised election

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 06:52
Thailand’s junta will lift a near four-year ban on political activity in June, an official said on Friday, as space for debate slowly expands in the kingdom with polls promised for next year. Political gatherings of five or more people have been outlawed since Thailand’s army grabbed power in a May 2014 coup, booting Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government from power. The generals, who have repeatedly backtracked on promised returns to democracy, insist an election will be...

Petition against Philippines recall of Hong Kong labour attaché gathers numbers as many recognise Jalilo Dela Torre’s achievements

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 06:01
A petition launched by a group of students from the University of Hong Kong, urging Manila to reconsider its decision to recall the city’s labour attaché, Jalilo Dela Torre, has already gathered hundreds of supporters. The rare recall of one of the most important officials in the consulate was received with shock by a community that includes more than 203,600 Filipino domestic workers. Many have connected the decision of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration...

Magnitude 6.9 quake hits Papua New Guinea, triggering tsunami warning

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 02:15
A powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea and potentially generated small tsunami waves on Friday, a month after a deadly quake there killed more than 100 people. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said a Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected, but tsunami waves up to 1 metre were possible for some coasts of Papua New Guinea and less than that for the Solomon Islands. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quake,...

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific hits political turbulence with offer to Malaysian voters

Fri, 03/30/2018 - 01:00
Cathay Pacific has found itself drawn into the turbulence of Malaysia’s pre-election politics – after offering free ticket changes for Malaysians returning home to vote. The move by Hong Kong’s flagship airline earned a sharp response from Malaysia’s deputy minister for home affairs and internal security, Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who tweeted he “didn’t know that regime change is part of [Cathay Pacific’s] business plan”. Cathay denies any political...

Donald Trump announces he may ‘hold up’ US trade pact with South Korea until after North Korea talks

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 20:53
US President Donald Trump is threatening to “hold up” the trade agreement his administration just finalized with South Korea to provide more leverage for talks with North Korea. Speaking in Ohio, Trump highlighted the renegotiation of the Korea-US free trade agreement. He added: “I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea.” Trump says the “rhetoric has calmed down” with North Korea, as the two countries have announced plans to meet next...

K-pop v Kim-pop: Battle of the bands, Korean style

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 18:55
Top K-pop girlband Red Velvet will star in a historic concert in Pyongyang this weekend, in a country where entertainment is usually served with a big dollop of state-sponsored propaganda. With performances on Sunday and Tuesday, the outfit will sashay onto territory normally occupied by North Korean’s own mega girl group, the Moranbong band. In the peninsula’s own Battle of the Bands, here’s how the two match up: K-pop or Kim-pop Red Velvet: Upbeat electro, disco, R&B and...

Chinese cash and casinos are flooding this Cambodian beach town, but locals say ‘business is about to die’

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 15:50
It was a hot, clear day. The kind of day when, a few months ago, the beach here would have been crowded with tourists deciding whether to drink a US$1 beer or a US$1 fresh coconut juice. Instead, the beach was almost deserted. Women wandered with trays of fresh lobsters perfectly balanced on their heads or carrying kits for performing pedicures, touting in vain for customers. Men lounged on chairs at their restaurants offering barbecued squid and local curries. But the only patrons were stray...

‘Is it a bloody joke?’ Millions of Indian high school students to resit exam after test leaked

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 14:33
India on Thursday vowed to strengthen its online security after high school exam papers were leaked ahead of crucial tests, forcing millions of students to resit their finals. Education Minister Prakash Javadekar said an investigation was underway into how the mathematics and economics papers were accessed and spread via WhatsApp before the exam. “The criminals who did this won’t be spared. I am sure police will catch these people soon. Let me assure that we will further improve the...

Thai singer ‘Tom Dundee’ given rare acquittal in royal defamation case ... but he is still in jail

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 14:03
A Thai court acquitted a folk singer turned activist of his third royal defamation charge on Thursday, a rare ruling under a draconian law that is used to shield the royal family from any criticism. Thanat Thanawatcharanont, better known by his stage name “Tom Dundee”, was arrested in 2014 and hit with four counts of lèse-majesté. The law carries up to 15 years in prison per offence and effectively protects Thailand’s ultra-rich and powerful monarchy from public...

After outcry, Malaysia cuts proposed penalty for fake news to six years jail

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 13:04
Malaysia’s government has cut the proposed punishment for fake news offenders from 10 to six years in prison following an outcry from rights groups and opposition lawmakers who say the bill aims to silence dissent ahead of a general election. The anti-fake news bill, presented in parliament on Monday, is currently being debated by lawmakers. Azalina Othman, minister in charge of law, said the government decided to reduce the prison term after considering views from all parties. She told...

Vietnam ex-Politburo member jailed for 18 years over oil giant’s US$35m loss

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 12:53
A Vietnamese court jailed on Thursday a former Politburo member for 18 years after he was convicted of financial irregularities at a state-owned enterprise, adding to a 13-year sentence handed down separately in January, his lawyer said. Dinh La Thang, 57, was convicted of “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management”, his lawyer, Dao Huu Dang, said. Thang denied wrongdoing, he said. Thang was prosecuted in connection with losses of up to 800 billion dong (US$35...

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