SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

End of the road for Indonesia’s motorbikes?

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 08:30
Motorbike regulations are creating more and more bumps in the road for commuters throughout Southeast Asia, as major cities try to curb two-wheelers to reduce traffic and air pollution. Hanoi has vowed to ban motorcycles entirely by 2030. Last year in the Philippines, regulators in Baguio City prohibited two-wheeled vehicles, including bicycles, within the city limits but the rule was later reversed after a backlash on social media. In January, authorities in Kuala Lumpur proposed banning...

Does China have the inside track in race with Japan for Singapore-Malaysia high-speed rail contract?

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 07:30
China and Japan are ramping up public lobbying efforts with Singapore and Malaysia as they gun for the multibillion-dollar contract to develop a high-speed train link between the Southeast Asian neighbours, but observers say the two rail building titans are unlikely to receive special favours. Singapore and Malaysia on Thursday said some 200 participants this week attended a London briefing on the project – a 350km bullet train line that will slash travel time from the Lion City to Kuala...

Philippines’ Duterte snubs graft probe amid claims of secret millions in his bank accounts

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 06:53
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would not cooperate with a special anti-corruption prosecutor’s investigation into allegations he acquired ill-gotten wealth, vowing he would “not submit” to its authority. The ombudsman said last week it was investigating claims Duterte’s bank accounts had hundreds of millions of pesos (millions of dollars) which he failed to disclose as required by law. Duterte responded by lashing out at the ombudsman, calling the...

US supercarrier to dock in Hong Kong before joint drills in shadow of North Korea crisis

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 05:35
A US supercarrier is set to make a port call in Hong Kong this week before heading to waters near the Korean peninsula for a joint naval drill amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. The visit by the USS Ronald Reagan, the biggest US warship based in Asia, will be the first by an American carrier in two years – Beijing turned down a Hong Kong port call request from another US aircraft carrier in April last year. The USS Reagan is expected to take part in...

Abe doubles down on Kim, but will his snap election gamble pay off?

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 04:15
Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a consummate politician who has sensed that public sentiment is sufficiently with him that he will once again win a general election. And while the electorate may express concern about a stagnant economy, shortages of places at kindergartens or any number of quibbles about everyday life, there is one issue that largely binds Japan’s voters together. Abe will fend off all-comers at the general...

Bali authorities urge evacuees from outside Mount Agung volcano danger zone to ‘go home’

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 13:36
More than 144,000 people have fled from a rumbling volcano on popular tourist island Bali, but officials on Saturday urged evacuees who live outside the immediate danger zone to return home. Mount Agung, 75km from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been shaking since August, causing fears it could erupt for the first time since 1963 and triggering the highest possible alert level eight days ago. But officials say the number of evacuees has grown too high, and only people who live within 9km of the...

‘It’s not if, it’s when’: squalid conditions threaten full-scale health disaster for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 12:32
Rashida Begum steers clear of the water pump near the reeking latrine shared by more than 100 families in a grim corner of Bangladesh that has grown into one of the world’s largest refugee settlements in just weeks. “The pump works, but the water stinks, so we don’t drink it,” the Rohingya woman said in the squalid camp where her family of 11 has lived since fleeing Myanmar a two weeks ago. The UN has warned of a humanitarian “nightmare” unfolding in...

United Nations refuses to accept West Papua independence petition, says it will not ‘do anything against Indonesia’

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 11:36
The UN’s decolonisation committee will not accept a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans calling for independence, saying West Papua’s cause is outside the committee’s mandate. In New York on Tuesday, the exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wenda presented the petition – banned by the Indonesian government, but smuggled across Papua and reportedly endorsed by 70 per cent of the contested province’s population – to the UN’s decolonisation committee,...

Boris Johnson caught reciting colonial poem in Myanmar temple

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 11:11
Britain’s foreign secretary has been accused of “incredible insensitivity” after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January. Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in the capital Yangon, when he started uttering the opening verse to The Road to Mandalay, including the line: “The temple bells they say, ‘Come you back you English...

‘I’m taking my chances’: few Cambodian opposition lawmakers remain as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown sparks exodus

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 10:32
Around half the opposition members of Cambodia’s parliament have left the country in fear of a crackdown by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, a deputy party leader said. The leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha, was arrested on September 3 and charged with treason for an alleged plot to take power with help from the United States. The government has said there could be more arrests linked to the alleged plot, which the opposition has dismissed as a ploy...

How much of a disruptor is Koike in Japanese politics?

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 07:47
When Yuriko Koike split from the Liberal Democratic Party in May 2017, 10 months after she had been elected governor of Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could have been forgiven for assuming that she could be relied upon to support the national government in at least some policy areas. After all, she had served with the LDP for 15 years, held three cabinet portfolios – including that of minister of defence under Abe – and is widely thought to hold conservative views similar to the...

Villagers race to save Bali cows from volcanic oblivion

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 06:35
Bali’s gently lowing cows, prized for their hardiness and doe-like temperament, will not become victims of the tropical island’s menacing Mount Agung volcano if villager Wayan Sudarma has any say in it. A proud owner of 21 cows, Sudarma has been venturing daily into the no-go zone around the Indonesian volcano on a mission to rescue at least some of the estimated 20,000 cattle still grazing on its potentially lethal slopes. Experts say that is highly risky. Fast moving hot clouds of...

Japan election – any party you like, as long as it’s Abe’s

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 06:33
The snap general election called this week by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for October 22 comes against a backdrop of his approval ratings still recovering from a series of scandals, scant enthusiasm for another political campaign and widespread suspicion that the move is little more than a cynical exercise in self-preservation. And yet victory for Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is all but assured. That’s because there’s little else to choose from as Japan,...

Islamists find another stick to beat Widodo with – communism

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 05:42
Every year at this time Indonesia renews its collective distain for communists, widely blamed for allegedly trying to tear the country apart in an aborted coup more than half a century ago. But this year is different. As thousands of police stood guard outside government buildings and the parliament, Islamic conservatives seized on the annual rite to get back at the administration of President Joko Widodo, which for months have been squeezing hardliners following a successful overthrow of...

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