SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Prosecutors demand 16 years prison for Indonesian politician caught in graft scandal, seek return of US$135,000 watch

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 12:43
Prosecutors demanded 16 years in prison for a senior Indonesian politician accused of playing a key role in the theft by officials of US$170 million of public money. At a sentencing demand hearing on Thursday, prosecutors also called for fines and the seizure of Setya Novanto’s assets if he fails to return US$7.4 million including a US$135,000 luxury “Richard Mille” watch that he allegedly received as part of the conspiracy. Anti-corruption police allege Novanto was among...

As Cardinal George Pell awaits decision over sex offences in Australia, his lawyer says no evidence to back charges

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 12:26
Vatican Treasurer George Pell’s lawyer said on Thursday there was no evidence to support charges of historical sexual offences against the Australian cardinal, after four weeks of questioning accusers and witnesses ended. Pell, 76, is the most senior Catholic worldwide to face such charges, the details of which have not been made public. His lawyers have said he will plead not guilty to all charges. Pell is not required to enter a plea unless the magistrate presiding over the hearing...

Notorious Korean Air ‘nut rage’ heiress makes a major comeback … to senior management

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 10:28
A Korean Air heiress known for her “nut rage” tantrum that sparked national uproar four years ago made a comeback to management on Thursday, a spokesman said. At a shareholders meeting, Korean Air subsidiary KAL Hotel Network approved Cho Hyun-ah, 44, as its president, the spokesman said. Cho, a daughter of Korean Air chief Cho Yang-ho and then the company’s vice-president, erupted into a tantrum when a stewardess served her macadamia nuts in a bag rather than in a bowl on a...

New Zealand study finds that babies fed yoghurt less likely to get eczema or allergies

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 10:16
Babies who eat yoghurt regularly before they are one year old appear to be protected from developing eczema and allergies, new research from the University of Otago, Wellington, and the University of Auckland has found. The effects were striking, according to study leader Dr Julian Crane, from the University of Otago Wellington’s department of medicine. The study, published this week in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, was funded by the Health Research Council and dairy...

Unable to find spies, New Zealand bans entry to any Russian expelled by allies

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:24
New Zealand will not allow entry to Russian diplomats expelled by other countries in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain, that Britain has blamed on Russia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday. The attempted murder of Sergie Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to Britain’s MI6 spy service, has plunged Moscow’s relations with the West to a new post-cold war low. After Britain...

Power struggle: Sri Lanka president cuts PM’s duties

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:04
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has reduced the responsibilities of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as a power struggle worsened within their uneasy coalition. Sirisena took away the central bank, the policymaking National Operations Room and several other institutions from the control of Wickremesinghe, who had held them since coming to power in January 2015. The changes were published in a government gazette notice issued Wednesday which transferred the responsibilities to...

A Hooters in Tokyo is dishing up more than just wings – it’s also offering co-working spaces for rent

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 08:43
By Haymun Win Think of Hooters and the two things that immediately come to mind are: the signature Hooters girls and world-renowned hot wings. But Hooters in Tokyo is taking it up a notch by bringing one more thing to the table: co-working spaces for rent. According to Soranews24, Hooters teamed up with Spacee, a Japanese space rental app, to make the most of the available space during off-peak hours from 1pm to 7pm. The Ginza outlet began workspace rentals on March 23, for a small fee of 50...

Tougher air pollution law in the South Korean capital bans outdoor classes

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 08:15
By Ko Dong-hwan Seoul’s tougher air pollution law bans schools from conducting outdoor classes whenever hazard levels seriously increase. The revised law, announced Tuesday, affects the city’s elementary, middle and high schools. Whenever PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less) records 76 microgrammes per cubic meter for two hours or longer, the schools cannot have classes outside. The figure that previously triggered the restriction was 90 microgrammes...

Forget fake news. Here’s a whole team of fake journalists, brought to Australia by Indian ‘people smuggler’

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 08:02
An Indian man has been charged with people smuggling after arriving at Australia’s Brisbane airport with eight other travellers as part of a fake media contingent to cover the Commonwealth Games, authorities said Thursday. The nine visitors, all from India, were flagged as possible “non-genuine travellers” when they transited through Thailand and were questioned when they arrived in Brisbane Wednesday, the Australian Border Force (ABF) said. “Eight were found to have...

North and South Korea to hold summit on April 27

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 07:56
North and South Korea will hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27, South Korean government officials who held high-level talks with their North Korean counterparts on Thursday said. The two Koreas had agreed earlier this month to hold such a summit at the border truce village of Panmunjom when South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a delegation to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. More to come …

Not wanting to feel left out, Japan PM Shinzo Abe also wants to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 07:30
Japan has sounded out the North Korean government about a bilateral summit, and Pyongyang has reportedly discussed the possibility of a leaders’ meeting with Japan. The government of Kim Jong-un has informed leaders of North Korea’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party of the possibility of a summit with Japan, the Asahi newspaper said, citing an unidentified North Korean source and briefing papers. “The Japanese government has expressed a wish to host a leaders meeting, via the...

Sarcastic Facebook comment costs creditor US$21,000 loan in Thai court

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 07:30
The Supreme Court has voided a 670,000 baht (US$21,453) debt in favour of a long defaulting borrower because of a sarcastic message the creditor posted on Facebook. Lawyer Kerdpol Kaewpol wrote on his Facebook page night that the creditor appeared to be very annoyed with the debtor, and wrote a sarcastic note to the debtor saying that the total debt of 670,000 baht plus interest had been written off so that the borrower debtor could be debt free. Later, the creditor went to court with the loan...

India’s biggest parties trade accusations after whistle-blower claims Cambridge Analytica linked to India elections

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 06:27
The parent company of the controversial data mining operation Cambridge Analytica may have worked on Indian political campaigns for years, according to documents, raising concerns by the government and others in India that data about voters may have been misused. Christopher Wylie, a whistle-blower who exposed Cambridge Analytica’s role in a data breach affecting 50 million Facebook users earlier this month, tweeted documents that suggested the firm’s parent company, Strategic...

Nobel winner Malala Yousafzai makes first trip to Pakistan since 2012 Taliban attack

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 05:15
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan on Thursday, officials said, in her first visit to her native country since she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman six years ago for advocating education for girls. Malala is widely respected internationally for her bravery and activism, but opinion is divided in Pakistan where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country. Malala is expected to meet with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi...

Looking within: what’s behind Thailand’s Buddhist-Muslim divide?

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 04:33
Before he was Phra Visuddho, he was Pisut Aungsupalee. In Thai “Pisut” means “purity”. When his master, Phra Upaseno ordained him as a monk, he took the Pali equivalent, “Visuddho”. Pali is the language of Buddhist texts. Born in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown district, Pisut – who is Chinese-Thai – grew up helping his parents run their fruit shop on weekends. “If I needed to open the shop, then I would wake up at six in the morning....

The White House has hailed Kim Jong-un’s Beijing visit – but what are China’s intentions?

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 01:10
Even as the White House hailed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s surprising visit to China as a “positive sign” in a “right direction” ahead of a proposed summit in May with US President Donald Trump, regional experts said on Wednesday that the move reaffirmed China’s intent to play a significant role in any developments in the Korean Peninsula. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters during a press briefing that the US considers Kim’s trip...

What’s behind Beijing’s South China Sea moves – and why US patrols are making things worse

Thu, 03/29/2018 - 01:02
The latest spat between the United States and China following the entry of an American destroyer into waters within 12 nautical miles of an island over which Beijing has claimed sovereignty is certain to draw international attention again to the rapid military build-up by the Chinese in the South China Sea. China has dubbed the USS Mustin’s foray into waters near Mischief Reef as a “serious military provocation” and said it had to dispatch two frigates to “warn off...

‘Unprecedented love and support’: Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor appears on air

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 15:24
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 last Friday, said she has received “unprecedented love and support” since landing the job. “My family never accepted or owned me,” she said, adding that the rift drove her to...

Six men sentenced to death for family massacre in Thailand

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 11:51
Six men were sentenced to death on Wednesday for the massacre of a Thai village headman and seven members of his family, including three children, over a land dispute. The execution-style murders, which caused widespread public horror, saw the masked gunmen storm into the local leader’s compound in the southern province of Krabi in July 2017 and take his family hostage with handcuffs and blindfolds. They held the group for several hours while waiting for village chief Worayuth Sanlang to...

1MDB scandal: US government says Malaysian financier Jho Low trying to stop seizure of US$250m luxury yacht

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 10:15
Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, accused of links to a plot to siphon billions of dollars from a Malaysian state fund, is trying to stop the United States government from seizing a US$250 million yacht in Indonesia, court filings showed. The Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity, a 92-metre superyacht allegedly bought by money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), was impounded on behalf of US authorities off the coast of Bali last month, amid a multibillion-dollar corruption...

Thai police ‘ordered’ to fund bosses’ office air conditioners

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:42
By King-oua Laohong Eleven low-ranking police officers have cried foul over an order forcing them to pay more than 2,000 baht (US$64) each to buy a new air-conditioner for their bosses’ office at Phahon Yothin Police Station. Pol Sgt Loesak Nonkhunthot, one of the 11 officers, filed their complaint Tuesday with the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). In the petition letter, they accused two police inspectors of ordering lower-rank colleagues to chip in money for a 25,000-baht...

Malaysia’s ex-leader calls PM Najib Razak a ‘monster’ as government push to redraw electoral maps sparks anger

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:35
Scores of activists protested Wednesday outside Malaysia’s Parliament against the government’s plan to redraw electoral boundaries, denouncing it as a method of “cheating” to ensure victory for the ruling coalition in the upcoming general election. Embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak sought parliamentary approval for the new voting maps, which critics say will worsen inequality among the constituencies and etch them based on racial lines in favour of Najib’s...

Sri Lanka determined to agree free trade deal with China and India despite local scepticism

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:29
Sri Lanka will “redouble” efforts to strike a free trade deal with China and conclude and expanded trade pact with India as part of the island nation’s strategy of becoming an Indian Ocean hub for investors and multinationals, the country’s top diplomat says. Colombo signed a comprehensive free trade deal with Singapore in January and now has the bandwidth to finalise deals with Sri Lanka’s two largest trading partners “as quickly as possible,” said...

Myanmar parliament elects one of Aung San Suu Kyi allies as new president

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:01
Myanmar’s parliament on Wednesday elected Win Myint, a loyalist of Aung San Suu Kyi, as new president, while she retained her executive authority over the government. The vote was held as Suu Kyi’s civilian government has struggled to implement peace and national reconciliation, with the powerful military still embroiled in combat with ethnic rebels and under heavy international criticism for its brutal counter-insurgency campaign against the Muslim Rohingya minority. Myanmar’...

Expats fight to compete in South Korean Pokemon tournament

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 08:45
By Jon Dunbar Pokemon trainers will come together this weekend for the Pokemon Spring Korean League, competing for prizes and a chance to play in the World Championships. But expats who compete in the card and Nintendo 3DS events are fighting for their right to play. According to Rachel Stine, an American who has been playing Pokemon games for 20 years, Pokemon Korea has been attempting to prevent foreign players competing. She said every competitor with a foreign-sounding name...

New Zealand a ‘laughing stock’, Austria a ‘bad joke’ for not expelling Russian spies as Western allies retaliate against Moscow

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 08:29
New Zealand is facing criticism for not expelling any Russian diplomats or spies. Many of its allies are doing so in solidarity with Britain after its government blamed Russia for attacking a former spy with nerve agent in England. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters said that while other countries were expelling “undeclared Russian intelligence agents” – or spies – they haven’t found anybody in New Zealand fitting that...

A museum thought this coffin was empty … but inside was a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 07:35
For decades, the coffin was relegated to an acrylic display case in a classroom used for workshops and field trips at the Nicholson Museum in Sydney. The outside the sarcophagus was intriguing enough: the face of a woman at rest was carved into the dark wood. Hieroglyphs indicated its occupant was a high priestess from the temple of the goddess Sekhmet. The coffin, from 600BC, had been bought by Sir Charles Nicholson from an Egyptian antiquities market in 1857 or 1858, records said. It was...

AirAsia Group CEO told baggage handlers to ‘kiss the bags’ after hurling controversy – and so they did

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 06:39
By Jessica Lin AirAsia is winning the social media game, and with a boss as PR-savvy as Tony Fernandes, who would expect any less? Just last week, the low-cost carrier narrowly averted a PR crisis sparked by a viral video showing its baggage handlers hurling luggage from a conveyor belt. The Facebook user who uploaded video said her bicycle was broken in the process. But it didn’t take long since the video’s posting for AirAsia group CEO Fernandes and AirAsia CEO Riad Asmat to...

Donald Trump closes his first trade deal … ‘horrible’ South Korea agreement renegotiated after US president threatened to kill it

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 05:53
The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement in principle to amend a decade-old free-trade pact that President Donald Trump used to call “horrible” and a “disaster” - his first such deal and a victory, albeit a modest one, for his toughened approach to America’s economic partners. Under the deal, South Korea agreed to limit its steel exports to the US and made concessions on auto imports. In return, the US agreed to exempt South Korea from the 25 per...

Watch: bizarre video of wild elephant smoking in Indian forest baffles experts

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 03:11
Footage of a wild Asian elephant “smoking” in a forest in southern India has baffled wildlife experts, who say the behaviour has never before been observed. Vinay Kumar, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) India programme, captured the puffing pachyderm while visiting camera traps in the Nagarahole national park in Karnataka state. The 48-second video shows the elephant picking up something with its trunk and putting it in its mouth, then blowing out a...

North and South Korean officials shake hands, share a toast to peace

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 22:58
Senior North and South Korean parliamentarians shook hands and shared a toast to “peace” with Swiss wine on Tuesday, in a rare gesture of friendship suggesting relations between their two countries are thawing. South Korean MP and politician Young Chin shook hands with Ri Jong Hyok, director of North Korea’s National Reunification Institute and deputy head of its Supreme People’s Assembly. They were attending the annual assembly in Geneva of the Inter-Parliamentary Union...

Famous Southeast Asian beaches will close due to environmental concerns and tourism overload

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 16:09
More popular Southeast Asian islands will be off limits to visitors this year as officials seek to protect ecosystems crumbling from warming seas and unchecked sprawl, despite the risk to tourism revenues and tens of thousands of jobs. Thailand will shut Maya Bay, which famously featured in The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, for four months a year, from June. In the Philippines, officials plan to close Boracay island for six months at the end of April. “Islands have very fragile...

‘Biggest ever seizure’: Bangladesh reports meth boom during Rohingya crisis

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:29
Bangladesh security forces have seized nearly 9 million methamphetamine pills in less than three months as a massive influx of Rohingya refugees brings increased smuggling from Myanmar, officials said on Tuesday. Increased raids on fishing boats on the Naf river, which divides the neighbours, have reaped the massive haul of yaba pills which are snapped up by Bangladesh youth. Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops in the border town of Teknaf have seized some 5.16 million of the caffeine-laced...

‘No negotiation with traitors’: Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen refuses to talk to opposition leaders to resolve stalemate

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 11:55
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated on Tuesday he will not negotiate with opposition leaders such as Sam Rainsy, former leader of the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party. Speaking at a graduation ceremony in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said: “There will be no negotiation with traitors and neither will there be a pardon for the traitors.” He added that despite the forced dissolution last year of the CNRP, the general election set to be held on July 29 will go ahead...

Three Malaysian MPs suspended after refusing to apologise for demanding Speaker’s resignation

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 10:47
By Chester Tay Three opposition members of parliament based in the state of Perak have been suspended for 10 days for failing to apologise to Pandikar Amin Mulia after demanding the Speaker’s resignation. Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee handed down the suspension on Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham (DAP-Beruas), Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Taiping) and V. Sivakumar (DAP-Batu Gajah) in the Dewan Rakyat (lower house of Parliament). Ronald said the three MPs have insulted the speaker, and by extension the lower...

Elderly Singaporean jailed for fatal knife attack on flatmate over cup rinsing

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 10:03
By Alfred Chua A squabble over the rinsing of a cup between two elderly flatmates in Singapore took a fatal turn, which left one dead and landed the other a four-year jail term. 72-year-old Tan Kim Hock admitted to one count of culpable homicide, and was sentenced to four years’ jail by the High Court over a 2016 “revenge attack” on his flatmate. The court heard that Fan Fook Heng, who was 62 at the time of the incident, and Tan were living together in a one-room rental flat...

Malaysians thinking twice before sharing potentially fake news

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:45
By Manjit Kaur On Tuesday, WhatsApp messages with photographs of a tiger were spread in Malaysia, telling people that the animal was spotted near the state National Registration Department in the northwestern city of Ipoh. The messages said that people should be careful while driving around the area. However, inquiries with authorities confirmed that the messages were untrue. The images were taken in India, and not in the town of Meru as claimed. In fact the same images had earlier in the month...

Vietnam dissident singer Mai Khoi detained at Hanoi airport after Europe tour

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:34
Vietnamese singer and activist Do Nguyen Mai Khoi, an outspoken campaigner for free speech, was detained in the capital Hanoi on Tuesday after flying home from Europe, her husband said. Often dubbed a Vietnamese version of “Pussy Riot” or Lady Gaga because of her activism and provocative style, Mai Khoi was among dozens of dissidents on the watch list of Communist-ruled Vietnam for her strong words against the system. “When Mai Khoi landed at Noi Bai airport, at 9:15am this...

Pakistan defends nuclear safety record after US sanctions companies over links to arms sales

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:30
Pakistan has defended its record on nuclear safety after the United States sanctioned seven Pakistani companies over alleged links to the nuclear trade, saying the suspicions over the companies should not be used to discredit it. Ties between the United States and nuclear-armed Pakistan have frayed in recent years over Pakistan’s suspected support for Islamist militants waging war in Afghanistan, something Pakistani officials deny. The US Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce imposed...

‘You are always better the second time around’: former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott hints at ambition to return

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:07
Australia’s former prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday hinted he still held leadership ambitions as his replacement struggles to turn around the government’s disastrous opinion polling. Abbott dropped the hint while launching a book by a former bitter political opponent Pauline Hanson, who leads the anti-Islam, anti-immigration and pro-President Donald Trump minor party, One Nation. Hanson was voted out of Parliament after a single three-year term in 1998. But the pair have put...

New Zealand can’t find any Russian spies to expel

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 08:07
New Zealand said Tuesday it would like to expel Russian spies in retaliation for allegedly poisoning an ex-agent in Britain – only it can’t find any Moscow operatives. Scores of Russian diplomats have been ordered from the United States, Canada, Australia and various European countries in the wake of the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. New Zealand, a former British colony and staunch London ally, offered in-principle support but admitted a lack of...

Japan’s ground defence force in biggest organisational shake-up amid North Korea threats and China tensions

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 07:32
Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Force underwent its biggest organisational shake-up Tuesday, in the midst of a challenging security environment, with its command streamlined for flexible operations nationwide and the creation of amphibious forces tasked with defending remote islands. The launch of the Ground Component Command to provide unified command over regional armies and the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, Japan’s version of the US Marines, came as Tokyo seeks to strengthen...

Amnesty International calls Malaysian fake news bill ‘assault on freedom of expression’

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 06:45
By Jessica Lin The thought of having to spend 10 years in jail is enough to send shivers down one’s spine. That is probably why Putrajaya’s proposed anti-fake news bill has been met with alarm by lawyers and global observers since its reveal. Carrying a maximum jail term of 10 years or a maximum fine of RM500,000 (US$129,065), or both, the proposed law puts perpetrators who spread fake news on the same end of the spectrum as those who commit serious crimes such as...

India privacy scandal brews over claim PM Narendra Modi’s app ships personal data abroad

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 06:43
Allegations that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official smartphone app is shipping Indians’ personal data to servers abroad have morphed into a political scandal in a country where privacy rules are weak and the data mining runs rampant. Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi taunted the prime minister after a pseudonymous researcher found that Modi’s app was pumping private information such as citizens’ email addresses to servers controlled by a US firm. “...

‘Height of stupidity’: drone nearly hits passenger jet landing in New Zealand from Japan

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 06:10
Air New Zealand said Tuesday that a drone came within meters of a flight descending into Auckland Airport from Tokyo, putting the safety of 278 passengers and crew at risk. After Sunday’s incident, the national carrier is calling for prison terms for drone operators who endanger lives. Air New Zealand said the pilots of Flight NZ92 spotted the drone about 5 metres (16.4 feet) from their Boeing 777-200 at a point in their descent when it was impossible to take evasive action. The airline...

Air New Zealand wants tougher rules for drones after near-miss with passenger plane

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 06:08
By Meghan Lawrence Air New Zealand is demanding tougher rules for drone operators after a near-miss at Auckland Airport involving a flight with 278 people onboard. NZ92 from Tokyo was coming into land at Auckland when it encountered a drone estimated to be just five metres away from the 777-200 aircraft on Sunday. “The incident is the second example of reckless drone use potentially endangering passenger safety this month, with flight operations at Auckland Airport halted for 30 minutes...

Cryptocurrencies to be available at 6,000 outlets in Korea

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 04:45
By Park Si-soo South Korea’s leading crypto exchange and a mobile payment service provider will work together to make virtual currencies available at thousands of outlets. The partnership was made on between crypto exchange Bithumb and Korea Pay’s Service, operator of mobile payment service Pay’s. About 200 franchise brands will allow customers to use the service to pay at 6,000 outlets across the country. Among the brands are desert cafe Sulbing, Cafe Droptop, seafood buffet...

Grab vanquishes Uber with local strategy, billions From SoftBank

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 04:24
As Uber Technologies Inc. looked to conquer ride-sharing around the world, Grab was focused on serving the 620 million people that share its home in Southeast Asia. Helped by the deep pockets of SoftBank Group Corp., Grab emerged the winner on Monday when Uber agreed to swap its business in the region for a 27.5 per cent stake. The deal is a vindication for co-founder Anthony Tan’s strategy of tailoring services to local needs and working with incumbent taxi operators instead of against...

Malaysian election: protests called as Najib carves up constituency boundaries

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 03:30
A year of dread and foreboding in the Malaysian opposition will end this week when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government is expected to unleash in Parliament a key weapon in its election arsenal – controversial changes to the country’s electoral map that could torpedo the other side’s best-laid plans. But lawmakers from the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition told This Week in Asia they were planning to ‘throw in the kitchen sink’ to oppose...

China's Oppo embraces Xiaomi's flash sale gambit to grow Indian smartphone sales 

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 02:40
Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, which has ceded ground to Xiaomi in the Indian market, is looking to take a page out of its Chinese rival’s marketing playbook with plans to hold its first online flash sale in the country early next week. Oppo, which launched a new flagship smartphone on Monday in India – its biggest market outside China – plans to woo buyers with an online flash sale for the device on April 2. Similar marketing gambits and other savvy moves catapulted rival...

From catwalks to news, Pakistan’s transgender community aims to shift attitudes

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 22:06
As the first transgender news anchor in Pakistan, Marvia Malik is proud to be at the forefront of changing attitudes in her country but she says there is a long way to go. The news of her first appearance on local channel Kohenoor TV on Saturday went viral on social media and was just days after she became the first transgender model on the catwalk at the annual Pakistan Fashion Design Council fashion show. Her catapult into the spotlight came after transgender activist Zara Changezi was named...

US settles trade spat with South Korea before summit with North Korea

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 19:27
The US agreed to revise its trade deal with South Korea and spare the country from US President Donald Trump’s steel tariff, as the allies sought to resolve disputes before planned meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The two countries reached an agreement “in principle” on the bilateral free trade agreement known as Korus, South Korea’s trade ministry said in a statement on Monday. The announcement came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday...

Rights groups have become ‘unwitting tools of drug lords’ seeking to undermine Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown, according to his spokesman

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 12:00
Some rights groups may have become “unwitting tools” of drug lords in the Philippines to undermine the president, his spokesman said on Monday, a statement that Human Rights Watch said was “shameful” and risked provoking violence. Rights groups have denounced President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in which thousands of people have been killed, either by police or by shadowy, unidentified gunmen. Duterte, who says he must be tough to protect the people from...

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in proposes weaker presidential powers as jail looms for ex-leaders

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:41
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday proposed weakening the powers of his office and lowering the voting age in a package of constitutional reforms, while allowing the head of state to be re-elected. South Korea is a vibrant democracy but its executive presidency is extremely powerful, giving rise to a winner-takes-all politics which critics say enables corruption while reducing representation for opposition voices. In last year’s election Moon campaigned on a promise to reform...

Stolen New Zealand alpaca leaves blind brother without guide

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:37
By Ryan Dunlop Bambi the blind alpaca is hoping brother Charisma, who was stolen, will be found alive and wool. Police are appealing to the public to help locate Charisma, a stolen alpaca, which was taken from a Dairy Flat property, north of Auckland, under the cover of darkness on March 12. “The theft is particularly sad as his blind alpaca brother relies on him to move around the paddock and is unable to move around with his paddock-mate missing,” North Shore, Rodney and West...

Remains of Chinese troops killed in Korean war set to return home

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:49
A Chinese officer saluted Monday as the remains of 20 former comrades were arrayed in a South Korean military facility ahead of their return home, decades after they died in the Korean war. The brown-stained bones – including some near-complete skulls – were laid out on tables at the temporary ossuary in Incheon before being placed in identical boxes pending their repatriation Wednesday. It will be the fifth annual return under a 2013 agreement which has so far seen 569 sets of...

Chinese man, eight others convicted in Japan for biggest gold smuggling plot with ships for secret cargo transfer

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:05
A court on Monday convicted the last of nine men charged with smuggling 206 kilograms of gold into a southwestern Japan port in the largest-ever gold seizure case in the country. The Saga District Court handed down a 30-month prison term for Lin Yashan, a 43-year-old Chinese national, suspended for five years, and a fine of 1.5 million yen (US$14,000) for importing gold bars estimated to be worth around 930 million yen without permission into Karatsu, Saga Prefecture in May last year. The court...

Japanese first lady Akie Abe under scrutiny over sale of government land as scandal plagues prime minister

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:55
Japan’s first lady, Akie Abe, once known mainly for embracing progressive causes that put her at odds with her conservative spouse, is now in the hot seat as doubts resurface about a murky land sale to a nationalist school to which she had ties. The daughter of a confectionery magnate, Abe has tried to carve out a US-style public “first lady” role in a land where political wives typically stay in the shadows. But that approach comes with risks, acquaintances and experts...

Media on notice as Malaysia proposes 10 years jail for publishers of ‘fake news’

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:29
Malaysia’s government on Monday proposed new legislation to outlaw fake news with a 10-year jail term for offenders, a move slammed by critics as a draconian bid to crack down on dissent ahead of a general election. Prime Minister Najib Razak has been dogged by a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal involving an indebted state fund, and rights activists fear the new law could be used to criminalise reports on government misconduct and critical opinions. A general election must be held...

Australian border authority catches Malaysian carrying over 900 child porn images and videos

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:15
By Jonathan Loh A Malaysian man has been arrested by Australian border authorities after allegedly attempting to enter the country with a stash of over 900 images and videos of child porn. The 27-year-old had flown into the country from Kuala Lumpur and was arrested at Melbourne International Airport on March 22, said a statement from the Australian Border Force (ABF). He was apprehended after ABF officers searched the man’s belongings and reportedly found hundreds of child...

WhatsApp and Facebook are the main sources of fake news for Malaysians

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:08
The majority of Malaysians get fake or unverified news via WhatsApp, followed by Facebook, blogs and other sources, Malaysian’ upper house of Parliament the Dewan Negara was told. Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said, analysis conducted by the Malaysian Communications Multimedia Commission (MCMC), showed that the majority of Malaysians get fake or unverified news via WhatsApp (84 per cent), Facebook (eight per cent), while blogs and other sources...

Man charged in Singapore with unlawful possession of a gun after 38 years on the run

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 07:39
By Alfred Chua A 63-year-old man who fled Singapore for 38 years after he was found to allegedly possess a pistol has been charged. Seow Lam Seng, a Singaporean, faces one count of unlawful possession of firearms, an offence punishable with life imprisonment. The police said that, at around 2.30pm on Oct 3, 1980, Seow and his companion Lee Ah Fatt were stopped by officers along Tanjong Katong Road as they were behaving suspiciously. Court documents revealed that the incident took place at Sin...

Man gets jail term for gaining weight to avoid South Korean military duty

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 06:00
By Jung Min-ho and Jung Da-min A 21-year-old man was found guilty of trying to dodge his mandatory military service by putting on nearly 30 kilograms within six months. The Cheongju District Court handed down a suspended prison term to the man, who gained 29 kilograms deliberately in 2016 to evade his military duty. The 180-centimeter man, whose identity is being withheld, was only 87 kilograms when he graduated from high school in February but became 113.6 kilograms by the time he...

Pyongyang Style? South Korea’s government ‘wants Psy at North Korea pop show’

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 05:50
Seoul is pushing for Gangnam Style star Psy to perform in next week’s historic concerts by South Korean artists in the North’s capital, multiple reports said. A team of at least nine South Korean pop acts are set to visit North Korea next week for two concerts in Pyongyang, the first of their kind for more than a decade. The shows – part of reconciliatory moves ahead of a planned inter-Korean summit in April – feature many top stars including K-pop girl band Red Velvet....

Thai monk appeals for help in lone fight against loggers

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 05:14
By Pattanpong Sripiachai A 76-year-old Buddhist monk, the abbot and only person living at a temple in a northeast Thai forest harbouring more than a thousand precious trees that is also part of a royal project to promote conservation, is calling for help in his fight with a transnational logging gang. After receiving numerous death threats, Luang Pu Kittiphong Kittisophon, the abbot of Wat Pa Kham Sawang temple in tambon Nakham in Si Songkhram district, has formally petitioned local authorities...

Why borrowers on China’s belt and road will go from euphoria to depression

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 03:04
Until very recently, the dusty African territory of Djibouti was best known to the wider world for its inhabitants’ habit of chewing khat. Each day, as the heat of the afternoon mounts, the men of Djibouti gather in sociable groups, wad a few leaves of the East African shrub Catha edulis into their cheeks, and chew until they descend – or ascend – into a mild euphoria. Either way, no more work is done for the day. As a result, very little work ever gets done at all,...

Alibaba takes aim at Southeast Asia with plans for Thailand logistics centre

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 02:39
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, will visit Thailand on Friday to announce the group's future investment in the Thai government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme, says the Industry Ministry. Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the Alibaba executive plans to visit Thailand to meet with government representatives. “Alibaba can confirm it [Alibaba] will invest in Chachoengsao, one of the three EEC provinces, but...

Is Malaysia ready to move on from Najib’s one-man show?

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 02:02
What good is a Malaysian prime minister who isn’t also the finance minister? It may be the norm the world over for the two prime political positions to be divvied up between separate individuals – even in Xi Jinping’s “one-man rule” China – but in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Malaysia, the premier and finance minister are one and the same. The practice was first established by his former mentor and now rival Mahathir Mohamad, and there are no signs that...

Uber sells Southeast Asia business to Singapore-based Grab 

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 00:43
Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc has agreed to sell its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Sunday, in what would be the U.S. company’s second retreat from Asia. The deal, which could be announced as early as Monday, marks the industry’s first big consolidation in Southeast Asia, home to about 640 million people, and puts pressure on rivals such as Indonesia’s Go-Jek, backed by Alphabet Inc’s Google...

Barack Obama says ‘disconnected’ North Korea’s isolation means less leverage in denuclearisation talks

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 16:02
Former President Barack Obama said Sunday that negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear weapons programme are difficult, partly because the country’s isolation minimises possible leverage, such as trade and travel sanctions against Pyongyang. “North Korea is an example of a country that is so far out of the international norms and so disconnected with the rest of the world,” Obama told a packed hall in Tokyo. He stressed that the effort to get North Korea to give up...

Why Marcos the dictator still inspires pride in the Philippines

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 13:01
“Here in Ilocos, there’s nothing more important than ensuring your children receive a good education.” Giving children a better future has become a lifelong vocation for Joy Fernandez, a 35-year-old elementary teacher from Laoag in Ilocos Norte, the Philippines. When she’s not teaching during school hours, the lively educator is either tutoring kids or coaching them for mathematics competitions. The rest of her spare time is dedicated to taking care of her four children...

Crackdown on Bangkok party scene sparks concerns for ‘a boring city’ as military seeks to salvage legacy

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 10:32
Thailand’s military government is crushing the spirit of Bangkok’s nightlife amid an intensifying crackdown that is forcing many bars and clubs to close early or indefinitely. With an election tentatively set for February 2019, the campaign appears to be a last-ditch attempt by the embattled government to impose social order and salvage its legacy. Since the army swept to power in a bloodless coup in 2014, it has intermittently enforced curfews and arcane regulations to rein in the...

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledges to amend pacifist constitution amid cronyism scandal

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 09:39
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed on Sunday to press on with his controversial move to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution, undeterred by a political scandal that has dented his popularity. Abe’s political capital is dwindling because of a widening scandal over the cut-price sale of government land to one of his supporters, with the opposition suggesting his wife Akie may have played a role. The scandal worsened when finance ministry bureaucrats admitted altering official records of...

Japanese student told to write essay promising not to fart in class

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 08:56
A student at a junior high school for special education in eastern Japan was instructed to write an essay promising not to fart during classes, with the composition then displayed in the classroom, school officials said Sunday. “I will fart in the restroom during recess,” wrote the student in the special needs school in northern Tochigi Prefecture. The student was told to write the essay in June last year by the teacher in charge. Personal details such as the name and gender of the...

Russia wants to build another bridge to North Korea, so trade doesn’t have to go through China

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 07:52
North Korea shares a border with three countries – South Korea, China and Russia. The one with Russia is just 18 kilometres, following the Tumen River and its estuary in the far northeast. There is one lone crossing, dubbed the “Friendship Bridge”. It opened in 1959 and offers the two nations a fairly basic rail connection. Last week, amid a period of relative calm on the oft-tense Korean Peninsula, Russian representatives travelled to North Korea to discuss an idea: they...

Helpless husbands despair in Pakistan as their Uygur wives, children vanish in China

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 06:20
Every autumn on the mountainous Karakoram Highway, part of the ancient Silk Road, groups of Pakistani merchants living in China’s far west would wave goodbye to their Chinese wives and cross the border to spend winter in their home country. As the snow piled high, the men would stay in touch with their families by phone, longing for the spring thaw that would allow them to be reunited in Xinjiang. But last year many of their calls suddenly went unanswered. Their families, they learned,...

Is this school a breeding ground for unicorns? Japan thinks so

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 06:02
A short stroll from a high street in Fukuoka, Japan’s aspiring start-up hub, stands a nearly century-old junior school building. The pupils are long gone, part of an exodus of families from the city centre who left in search of more peaceful surroundings in the suburbs. But the building is far from lifeless. It still buzzes with the creative energy that is often associated with youth – thanks to its rebirth last year as Fukuoka Growth Next, a public-private facility that serves as...

‘Say hello to my little friend’: is there a Hollywood ending to Duterte’s drug war?

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 05:30
If American director Brian De Palma’s Scarface taught viewers anything more than a few great lines of dialogue to spice up pub chatter, it was that the illegal drugs business is a violent one and even successful careers can unexpectedly end in gruesome death – often carried out by colleagues. If much of the world’s media is to be believed, there’s a modern version of the flawed masterpiece being played out right now in the Philippines that rivals the excessive violence...

The real reason a journalist’s eye-roll captivated China

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 04:45
The ever-reliable eye-roll: a go-to sign for moments of exasperation, sarcasm or general “fed-upness”. And while millions of them are rolled out every day, a deeper understanding of the facial expression’s colourful lineage across Asia is far from commonplace. The eye-roll, along with its slightly more uninhibited cousin, the eye-pop, makes headlines regularly. Indeed, “eyes rolled” or “eye-popping” are clichés in the realm of political...

South Korea’s ‘Smart City’ Songdo: not quite smart enough?

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 03:03
LOOKING wistfully around at the surroundings, a strange mix of marshland and random high-rise buildings, Shim Jong-rae shakes his head, echoing the sentiment of many residents: “It’s a ghost town.” For more than a decade, urban planners have been studying the construction of Songdo, South Korea, the world’s first Smart City. Built within 25 miles of Seoul, it was to be the antithesis of the suffocating, overpopulated capital. A new way of thinking for more than 300,000...

Promise of American dream used to lure Filipinos into hands of human traffickers, Hong Kong labour representative says

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 01:01
Filipinos’ pursuit of the American dream has been exploited by human traffickers to lure them to other countries like Russia and Turkey where they are left abandoned with their hopes quashed, according to the labour attaché at the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong. “Traffickers use the US to lure the victims. They tell them that it’s easier to get a visa to the US if they work in Russia first,” said Jalilo Dela Torre, the Philippine Department of Labour and...

Cities around the world go dark as Earth Hour global campaign kicks off

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 23:32
The Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower and Moscow’s Red Square were among the world landmarks to go dark on Saturday, part of a global campaign to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change. Earth Hour, which started in Australia in 2007, is being observed by millions of supporters in 187 countries, who are turning off their lights at 8.30pm local time in what organisers describe as the world’s “largest grass roots movement for climate change”. “It aims...

Tokyo residents protest against doomsday cult’s successor group

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 13:32
More than 200 people living near a Tokyo base of the main successor to the Aum Shinrikyo cult took to the streets on Saturday demanding the group disbands, with the execution of its guru and a number of former disciples seemingly imminent. The residents marched around the Adachi Ward compound owned by Aleph, led by Adachi Mayor Yayoi Kondo who held a banner saying, “Absolutely against Aum.” The demonstration was planned to coincide with the recent 23rd anniversary of the 1995 sarin...

In Trump’s America, immigration is bad, but trafficking Filipinos is OK?

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 13:03
When Avelino Reloj left the Philippines for a job as a hotel janitor in Missouri, United States, he felt a world of possibilities was opening up. He quit his job as a house keeper in Cebu City, borrowed 400,000 pesos (US$7,700) for the trip, and bade farewell to the clear blue water and white sand that his home country is so famous for. For Reloj, life in the Philippines had been a far cry from such idyllic postcard images – at 27, he was struggling to build a home or start a family....

Indian court jails powerful politician for embezzling funds

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 10:06
A powerful Indian politician was sentenced on Saturday to 14 years in prison for embezzling 37 million rupees (US$570,000) from a state government’s treasury while he was the state’s top elected official. Laloo Prasad Yadav was convicted of embezzling the money to buy fictitious medicine and cattle fodder while he was chief minister of Bihar state from 1990 to 1997. Eighteen former Bihar state officials, contractors and suppliers were sentenced in the case to jail terms of up to...

‘Pet’ orangutans rescued by Indonesian activists

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 08:42
Young orangutan Utu clings to one of his rescuers after he is freed from the wooden box that has been his home for five years. The tiny primate, covered in fuzzy auburn hair, is one of three Bornean orangutans saved in Indonesia over the past two weeks. Environmentalists and local officials rescued Utu and another youngster, Joy, from tiny cages where they were kept as house pets in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. A third orangutan named Tomang was moved from a village in the same...

Just five out of 150 short-finned pilot whales survive mass beaching in Western Australian

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 05:21
More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded themselves on the southwestern tip of Australia, stunning parks officials and prompting a massive rescue effort to save as many as possible. The mass beaching likely took place sometime on Wednesday night to early Thursday morning at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia, according to the state’s parks and wildlife service. Videos of the scene showed dozens of the animals piled against each other on the shore, many with their tails still...

In India’s Assam, a Rohingya-like refugee crisis in the making

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 04:00
Altaf Hossain has been distraught the past couple of months. He’s always thought he was Indian, but is now being told the country doesn’t think of him as one of its own. His name, he has learned, is missing from a new citizenship registry being drawn up by the government of his home state of Assam, where millions of people are in danger of being disenfranchised. “I am not in the first list, the authorities have supposedly found a mismatch in my family tree. My family has lived...

North Korea agrees to inter-Korean talks next week at truce village ahead of April summit

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 03:57
North Korea on Saturday agreed to hold high-level talks next week with Seoul to discuss logistics for a rare inter-Korean summit, the South’s Unification Ministry said. The two sides will each send a three-member delegation to the border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday for talks aimed at paving the way for a summit due in late April, it said. Seoul has suggested the talks take place at the Unification Pavilion building on the northern side of Panmunjom sitting on the border. North...

The trillion-ringgit puzzle in the Malaysian election

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 02:02
It’s election season in Malaysia and it looks like this year’s political hot potato will be the national debt. National debt stands at 684 billion ringgit (US$174.31 billion), putting the country’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio at 51 per cent. Most countries in the region have a ratio of around 41 per cent. Prime Minister Najib Razak claimed last week that if the opposition came to power on promises to abolish the goods and services tax, the national debt could reach 1....

How karaoke and Korea’s love of plastic surgery became front lines in America’s war on sex slavery

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 01:03
At the beginning of the evening, Annandale – about half an hour’s drive from Washington – seems just another unassuming town by a highway. But as night falls, it becomes clear that even though this is America, there is something quite foreign about this strip of land. Once all the neon lights come on, Annandale – a small city in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia – transforms into a Koreatown, with restaurants and karaoke bars spread out between vast intersections...

North Korea sanctions not on agenda for Japan’s foreign minister Taro Kono during Hong Kong visit

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 00:32
Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono begins a two-day visit to Hong Kong on Saturday, but North Korean sanctions will not be on the agenda for discussion after the city’s leader rejected the idea, according to a source. Kono had intended to discuss the city’s implementation of sanctions imposed on North Korea, including ways of stepping up inspection of ships, among other issues, but the Hong Kong government source told the Post that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had...

Donald Trump should demand denuclearisation in North Korea meeting, new security adviser John Bolton says

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 23:49
John Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, said Trump should insist that any meeting he holds with North Korea’s leader must be focused squarely on how to eliminate that country’s nuclear weapons program as quickly as possible. Bolton, a hawk who Trump named on Thursday to replace H.R. McMaster in the key security role, told Radio Free Asia on Monday that discussions at the proposed summit with Kim Jong Un should be similar to those that led to...

Camels, swordsmen and China-funded jets: Pakistan flexes military might at flamboyant parade

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 20:35
It is the nuclear-armed adversary of next-door India and a mistrusted anti-terror partner of the United States. It sucks up huge chunks of the national budget, while millions of children receive next to no education or health care. But nobody puts on a parade like Pakistan’s military. Friday morning’s extravaganza before a cheering, carefully screened crowd of 70,000 at a pristine field in the capital was no exception. The occasion was Pakistan Day – March 23, 1940...

At least 13 killed, dozens injured in Vietnam condo inferno

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 11:10
Residents startled awake by loud noise and smoke signalled for help with lit mobile phones and crawled onto cranes from their balconies to escape a fire early on Friday at a large condominium complex in southern Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. At least 13 people were killed and 28 injured, with police saying it was unclear whether anyone was missing. State media quoted the city’s police and fire service as saying police rescued more than 100 people while more than 1,000 escaped the fire...

Asia in 3 minutes: Don’t dress ‘sexy’ for Thailand’s Songkran water festival – or grow old in Japan

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 10:32
Songkran festival is no time to dress sexy, Thailand warns women Authorities in Thailand are telling women to avoid dressing in “sexy” outfits in an effort to prevent sexual harassment and sex assault cases during next month’s Songkran festival. Sutthipong Chulcharoen, director general of the Department of Local Administration, said local bodies would arrange alcohol-free zones for revellers and launch campaigns to encourage tourists, particularly women, to dress appropriately...

Mahathir resurrects ‘remote takeover’ theory in MH370 mystery

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 09:32
Malaysia’s veteran former leader Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday that missing flight MH370 might have been taken over remotely in a bid to foil a hijack, reviving one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding its disappearance. The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people – mostly from China – on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No sign of the Boeing 777 jet was found in a vast search of the southern Indian Ocean and the Australian...

Scientists from Singapore and Indonesia set sail to explore marine life in West Java

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 08:27
By Neo Chai-chin It is not your typical “cruise”, but that is what one professor is calling it. A team of 30 researchers and support crew from Singapore and Indonesia is setting off on a quest to find out what crabs, prawns, fishes and other marine life dwell in the seas off western and southern Java. Over 14 days on board the Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII, the team will use dredges, beam trawls and other gadgets to sample the range of organisms at depths of 500 metres...

Over 90 per cent of people’s woes solved, Thai Prime Minister claims

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 08:08
The government has solved more than 90 per cent of the complaints lodged with the administration, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has claimed. Gen Prayuth was speaking to villagers, who came to greet him during his visit to tambon Hua Na of Nong Bua Lam Phu’s Muang district. “The government has accepted all the complaints,” said Gen Prayuth, adding 4,000-5,000 complaints on various issues in general, including graft, were lodged with the administration every month. “We...

Record number of US Marines to train in Australia in symbolic challenge to China

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 07:09
The United States will deploy a record number of Marines to train in Australia, the Australian defence minister said on Friday, as Washington seeks to counter what it describes as Chinese aggression in the region. Payne said 1,587 US Marines will spend six months training in Australia’s remote north, an increase of nearly 27 per cent on its 2017 rotation for the programme known as the Force Posture Initiatives. “The US military plays a vital role in underwriting security and...

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