The Southeast Asian Times
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established 2000
Tuesday 17 January 2017 
An informed guide to happenings throughout the region.

US invites Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary to the White House
From News Reports:

Hanoi, July 6, 2015: The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam will visit the United States from July 6 to July 10 at the invitiation of the United States State Department in a "landmark" visit, Rueters reports.
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong will meet United States President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
Rueters quotes a se
nior state department official saying that the meeting between the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the President of the United States "would skirt protocol" because the General Secretary is "not part of a government".
"Obama saw the visit as crucial", Rueters reports the senior state department official as saying.
Rueters also quotes the senior state department official saying that "there was a broad agreement that it made sense to treat General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong as the visit of "the top leader of the country".
"It's a pretty big event," Rueters quotes the state department official as saying.
The Southeast Asian Times

France agrees to return Aboriginal remains home to Australia
From News Reports:
Canberra, November 25: French president Francois Hollande and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have agreed to work together to return Aboriginal remains to Australia during the first official visit by a French head of state to Australia last week, reports Australian Associated Press.
The French head of state and the Australian prime minister said that a joint expert committee is to be established to help identify the origin of the Aboriginal remains held in France.
The head of state and prime minister said in a joint statement that the identification process would respect the sensitivities and values of the two countries and consider the requests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including the French legal system.
"The French government will examine possible solutions to enable the return of the Aboriginal human remains to their community of origin." the statement said.
Australia believes the remains of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are being held in Museum collections around the world including in Europe and the
United States.
In 2010 a British museum agreed to return 138 sets of Aboriginal skeletal remains to Australia including the severed head of Australian Aboriginal warrior, Yagan, to the Noongar of South West Western Australia after being missing in action for about 177 years. Yagan was shot dead for his resistance to British settlement on the Swan river.
The Southeast Asian Times

"No " to proposal to delete religion from Indonesian national identity card

From News Reports:
Jakarta, November 10: Islamic-based political party politicians oppose the proposal put by the newly selected Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, that national identity cards (KTP) do not include the religion of the car holder.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Aboebakar Al Habsy said that not to include the religion of the card holder on national identity cards (KTP)
contradicted the country’s founding philosophy of Pancasila
“If we believe that Pancasila is our state ideology and our national identity, then why should we be ashamed of including our religion on our national identity card," he said
Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo also proposed that the regious beliefs of Indonesian citizens be omitted from official government documents.
He said that the religion of Indonesian citizens on national identity cards (KTP) or in official government documents should not be imposed.
"It's up to the people", he said.
The Souheast Asian Times

The Wolf bridge: An insult to Thai monarchy
From News Reports:
Bangkok, October 31: Thai University students, Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Pornthip Mankong, 26, were charged in the Ratrachada Court on Monday, with defamation of the Thai monarchy in a play titled "The Wolf Bridge" performed at the Thammasat university in October 2013, reports the Bangkok Post.
The students were charged with insulting the Royal Thai family in the fictional depiction of the monarchy in a play performed in commemoration of the 37th and 40th anniversaries of the October 6, 1976 and October 14, 1973 pro-democracy student uprisings at Thammasat University.
The prosecution cites nine passages from the plays's script, a work of fiction that depicts a fictional monarch, that allegedly insults the monarchy and as such is in violation of the lese majeste law.
Patiwat Saraiyaem, actor and Pornthip Mankong, producer of the play, in detention since arrested on 13 August, have been refused bail are scheduled to appear in court to enter pleas on December 29.
The Southeast Asian Times

World including
Asean PM's and Presidents to attend inauguaration of Indonesian president
From News Reports:
Jakarta, October 18: World Prime ministers, Presidents and State representatives including US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will attend the inauguaration of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as President of Indonesiaon on Monday.
The speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Zulkifli Hasan said that representatives from the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member nations have also been invited to attend the swearing in of the former governor of Jakarta, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as president of Indonesia.
"The Prime Ministers and Presidents of Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea are also expected to attend", he said.
He said that the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) has also invited "domestic VIP's" including former Presidents and Vice-Presidents.
“All chairpersons of political parties have also be invited,” said the speaker.
The Southeast Asian Times

Banned ISIS flag found flying in Aceh

From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 12: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) flag found flying from a coconut tree in Aceh on Sunday has been torn down, reports the Jakarta Post.
The discovery of the banned ISIS flag was reportedly the first in Aceh.
Police chief First Inspecter Azwan said that the flag of the nationally banned movement was discovered by chess players sitting at a food stall near the coconut tree in the Sungai Raya district of East Aceh regency in Aceh.
He said that a bomb disposal team inspected the area before the flag was taken down.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced Indonesia's rejection of the State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and banned the teaching of ISIL ideology in Indonesia last month at his parliamentary state-of-the-nation address and ahead of the 69th anniversary of Indonesias Independence.

The Southeast Asian Times

Singapore passes Trans- boundary Haze Pollution Act

From News Reports:
Singapore, August, 18: The passing of the 2014 Trans-boundary Haze Pollution Act by the Singapore parliament last week will enable Singapore regulators to sue individuals or companies in neighbouring countries for causing severe air pollution in Singapore.
The Act that was first proposed in 2013 would enable Singapore to impose fines of up to S$2 million on companies that cause or contribute to transboundary haze pollution in Singapore.
Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that under the Act, Singapore will have the legal right under the Objective Territorial Principle to take legal action against air polluters.
"While neighbouring countries have the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources in accordance with their policies they also have a responsibility to ensure that "slash and burn" agricultural practices do not cause damage to Singapore", he said.
The passing of the 2014 Trans-boundary Haze Pollution Act gives Singapore the legal power to serve notices on those that do not have assets or a presence in Singapore.
Indonesia is yet to ratify an Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution that was signed by ASEAN member counries in November 2003 in order to
address haze pollution arising from land and forest fires.
A bill passed in the Indonesian House of Representatives in July 2013 gave the Indonesian goverment the power to seize assetts gained from illegal logging and illegal clearing of forests for palm oil plantations.
The new bill, designed to protect more than 13 million hectres from deforestation, gave the Indonesian government a mandate to establish a task force including police to monitor the prevention and eradication of deforestation.
The Southeast Asian Times

Papua Biak massacre remembered in Sydney
with 136 white carnations
From News Reports:
Sydney, July 5: A ceremony to mark the 16th anniversary of the Biak Massacre in West Papua ua on 6 July 1998 will be held at the Waverley Cliffs cemetery in Sydney on Sunday.
The Waverley Cliffs community will throw 136 white carnations from the waverley cliffs into the Pacific Ocean in memory of the Biak massacre.
A citizens tribunal, hosted by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney last year on the 15th anniversary of the Biak massacre found that 136 West Papuan protesters were thrown into the sea by Indonesian security forces.
The tribunal heard eye witness testimony that the West Papuan demand for the right to vote for independence from Indonesia was met with gunfire by Indonesian security forces.
Survivors of the massacre told the international team of jurists that the unarmed West Papuan protesters were surrounded and shot by Indonesian security forces and that survivors were thrown into the sea on 6 July 1998.

The Southeast Asian Times

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Doubt on future of TPP raised in Vietnam on US visit
US Secretary of State John Kerry , centre, at Ho Chi Minh University of Technology and Education on Friday presents a letter of intent to fund the construction of a new Fulbright University to Dam Bich Thuy, president of Fulbright University Vietnam
From News Reports:
HCMCity, January 17: The US Secretary of State John Kerry raised doubt on the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on a state visit to Vietnam that includes Ca Mau where he was an enlisted solder almost 50 years ago, reports the Vietnam News Service.
"The future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s so-called pivot to Asia, was in doubt as Donald Trump, who opposes the trade agreement, would be sworn in as US president next week," he said.
He told students at the HCMCity University of Technology and Education that he could not predict what the new American administration would do "with respect to trade."
"But I can absolutely tell you that the fundamental reasons for the TPP have not changed,” he said.
In February 2016 the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), believed to be the largest trade agreement in history, was signed in New Zealand after five years of negotiations amid protests.
The US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed in Auckland by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam.
Ministers representing the 12 countries said in a joint statement that the TPP "will set a new standard for trade and investment in one of the world fastest growing and most dynamic regions".
The trade agreement between the 12 Pacific rim countries is expected to provide improved access for goods and services to more than 800 million across the TPP countries that make up 36 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
In June 2016 The former World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Supachai Panitchpakdi said that the ASEAN member countries that include Thailand and Vietnam "should review their stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)"
He said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) should not allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to disintegrate Asean.
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a political tool used by the United States to maintain power in the Asia-Pacific in order to arrest the increasing influence of China," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Syria's population of 1.25 million Christians has been reduced to less than 500,000 since 2011, reports Australian reporter Chris Ray page here

Son of southern Philippines MNLF chairman detained in Malaysia
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 15: The son of a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman has been detained in Malaysia for his alleged involvement in the bombing in the southern Philippines that killed 14 and injured 67, reports the New Straits Times.
Mohammad Abduljabbar Sema, 26, who was arrested on 24 November at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on arrival from Bangkok, has reportedly been in police custody in an undisclosed location since.
Mohammad Abduljabbar Sema, an Islamic scholar, intended to apply for a 30-day visa in order to returrn to Thailand.
Philippine National Defence Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, reportedly blamed Islamic militants for the bombing in September 2016 of a night market in Davao City in Maguindanao in the southern Philippines, saying that it was "an Abu Sayyaf retaliation."
"Abu Sayyaf had struck back after suffering heavy casualties on its stronghold of Jolo island about 900 kilometres (550 miles) from Davao", he said.
Mohammad Abduljabbar Sema is the son of Muslimin Sema, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who is about to become a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
In February 2016 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiator Mohagher Iqbal called on the Philippine government to remain committed to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) following the failure of the Philippine Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) if enacted, would be the legal basis for the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the Southern Philippines.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be refiled in the Philippine Congress or a new basic law, faithful to the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), will be crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
Mohammad Abduljabbar Sema is also the son of Bai Sandra Sema, congresswoman of the first district of Maguindanao.
The Southeast Asian Times

No explanation from Singapore on discrpancy in sand imports from Cambodia
Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Hun Sen sign education and health agreements in Phnom Penh on Monday
From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, January 14: The Singapore presidential meeting with the prime minister of Cambodia in Phnom Penh this week followed by the signing of agreements on education and health did not explain the alleged discrepancies in sand exports from Cambodia to Singapore, reports the Cambodian Daily.
Singapore president Tony Tan Keng Yam and Cambodia prime minister Hun Sen did not explain U.N. reports that Singapore recorded 72.7 million tonnes of sand imported from Cambodia from 2007 to 2015 that was worth $752 million while Cambodia recorded 2.8 million tonnes that was worth $5.5 million in exports to Singapore for the same period.
Spokesman for the Cambodian government, Eang Sophalleth, said that there was no general discussion about the export of sand between the Singapore president and the Cambodian prime Minister.
"There was no discussion about sending more Cambodian maids to Singapore this year or about sand exports to Singapore," he said.
Singapore’s Manpower Ministry made Cambodia its 13th and latest official source country for domestic workers in October despite claims from Cambodian maids in Singapore that employers had put them in debt bondage or underpaid them.
The U.N. Commodity Trade Statistics Database reportedly shows that Singapore has imported millions of tons of sand to enlarge Singapore Island by 20 percent or 130 sq km over 40 years with plans to increase the island by a further 56 sq km by 2030.
The Singapore JTC Corporation and the National Development Ministry that oversees the Singapore's sand reclamation project has not
reportedly offered an explanation for the discrepancy.

The Southeast Asian Times

Detention of West Papuans charged with treason extended

From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 13: The detention of West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) protest organisors accused of treason by Mandano Police has been extendended to February, reports the Jakarta Post.
The four protest organisors, who have been in police custody for forty days, were among 528 West Papuan activists arrested last month in Jayapura during a rally for West Papua self determination.
Police reportedly released all but the four West Papua National Committee (KNPB) protest organisors, William Wim, Emanuel Ukago, Panus Hesegem and Hizkia Meage.
Manado Police crime unit head Comr. Edwin Humokor said that the case files had been submitted to the prosecutor's office.
“Their detention has been extended to simplify the investigation process,” he said.
The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) organised protests against the Indonesian governement in cities in West Papua including Jayapura, Merauke, Nabire, Yogyakarta, Manado, Wamena, Jakarta, Sorong, Manokwari, Timika, Yahukimo, Bandung, Ternate and Ambon.
In October, West Papuan pro-independence activist, Filep Semuel Karma, 57, called on the Indonesian government to hold a referendum for independence for Indonesia's easternmost region, saying that "Papuan's still suffered from mistreatment and abuses despite the region being granted special autonomy status."
The former West Papuan political prisoner of 15 years said that "the referendum would provide a fair mechanism for Papuans to decide for themselves whether they wanted to remain as part of the unitary state of Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) or wanted independence,"
In May, Jakarta Legal Aid lawyers called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to take action against National Police over the arrest of 1,724 West Papua referendum supporters.
Thousands of West Papua referendum supporters held simultaneous rallies in seven cities in four provinces including Merauke, Jayapura and Wamena in Papua, Fakfak and Sorong in West Papua, Semarang in Central Java and Makassar in South Sulawesi to show support for
the United Liberation Movement for West Papua ULMWP ) in their support for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The Southeast Asian Times

Former Catholic nun testifies against Christian Jakarta governor
Former Catholic nun, Irena Handono, who testified against Christian Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, on trial for blasphemy, told the court that “as a non-Muslim, Ahok should not criticize Islam,” she said
From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 12: A former Catholic nun, now an Islamic preacher, testified against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, saying that the governor's comments on the Quran during his working visit to the islands in September was to further his political agenda, reports the Jakarta Post.
Former Catholic nun, Irena Handono, told the court on Tuesday that the governor had used his working hours to do "hidden campaigning"
"Ahok's working visit should have been about fish cultivation not the upcoming election", she said.
The trial of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who was charged with blasphemy in November, began at the North Jakarta District Court
on 13 December.
Tha Jakarta governor was banned from leaving Indonesia following the police investigation.
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama reportedly cited verse Al-Maidah 51 from the Quran on an working visit to Indonesia's outer islands while campaigning for next year's re election.
He reportedly told the fishermen that they have been deceived by those who use Al-Maidah 51 in the Quran to discourage Muslims from supporting him.
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnamais faces multiple charges under Article 156 (a) on blasphemy of the Criminal Code, which contains a maximum jail sentence of five years and Article 28, point (2) of the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law on promoting hate speech, that carries a maximum six years of imprisonment.
The Southeast Asian Times

New constitution allows former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra to appeal conviction

From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 11: Former Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, will benefit from the new constitution that will allow those convicted by the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political-Office Holders to appeal, reports the Bangkok Post.
Office of the Judiciary secretary-general, Athikhom Inthuphuti, said that the new charter allows those convicted to appeal without providing new evidence.
"This will be a significant departure from the 2007 constitution that stipulated that an appeal to the Supreme Court could only be made if new evidence that could justify a review of the case was provided," he said.
In May 2016 the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders in Bangkok ordered former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to pay Baht 286.64 billion to the state in compensation for alleged massive corruption in the government rice subsidy programme.
Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose trial began on January 2016 was charged in March 2015 with violating Article 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/1 of the 1999 Counter Corruption Act for committing nonfeasance and malfeasance while holding the post of prime minister and for failing to stop alleged massive corruption in the government rice subsidy programme.
The court was told that the state subsidy set aside for the rice-pledging programme during the Yingluck Shinawatra government was higher than the amount allowed by the World Trade Organisation.
Prosecutors allege that the officials colluded to help two Chinese firms not authorised by the Chinese government to undertake G2G deals with the Thai government to buy rice from stockpiles generated by the Yingluck Shinawatra government rice pledging scheme.
The Supreme Court Criminal Division for Political Office Holders was told that the government rice-subsidy programme went against the main objective of a state subsidy programme which was to help Thai farmers.
The prosecution argued that "inaction" by the former Prime Minister allegedly caused Bhart 518 billion loss to the state.
The former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra denied all charges made against her by the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) who voted unanimously in May 2014 following the declaration of Martial Law that there was sufficient evidence to indict the ousted Prime Minister on charges of dereliction of duty in the national rice subsidy programme.
The Southeast Asian Times

King of Dangdut to contest 2019 Indonesian elections
The king of Dangdut, Rhoma Irama, front, center, marked the inaugural national meeting of his new political party on Sunday with songs, "Persatuan" (Unity), "250 Juta Jiwa" (250 Million Indonesian People) and "Adu Domba" (Playing One against Another) that express unity in diversity
From News Reports:
Jakarta. January 10: The king of Dangdut, Rhoma Irama, who promotes moral values in song, announced the inaugural national meeting of his new political party in West Java on Sunday, reports the Jakarta Post.
Rhoma Irama, who is chairman of the new Indonesian political party, the Peaceful and Benign Islam (Idaman) Party, obtained legal status of the party on 13 December 2015 after having previously failed to have the party registered.
"Now legal, the party aims to be among the top five in the 2019 legislative elections," he said.
He said that the party would adopt the Indonesian ideology of Pancasila and promote Islamic values such as tolerance and pluralism through song.
"I want to express that the Peaceful and Benign Islam (Idaman) Party has a mission to show all people that Islam brings peace and tolerance, that Islam respects other religions and doesn't accept any acts of terrorism,” he said.
The Jakarta Post reports that the new political party was yet to receive verification from the General Elections Commission (KPU) before it can compete in the 2019 legislative elections campaign.
Rhoma Irama, campaigned for Fauzi Bowo and his running mate, Nachrowi Ramli, against rivals, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his running mate, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, in the 2012 gubernatorial election.
He reportedly advised Muslim voters to choose a Muslim leader during prayers at a mosque.
Rhoma Irama founded the dangdut group, Soneta, in 1970, building a reputation as a supporter of the Islamic party, United Development Party (PPP).
The Soeharto regime officially banned his songs when he campaigned for the United Development Party (PPP) between 1977 and 1982.
The Southeast Asian Times

Singapore Swiss bank employee charged in Malaysian money laundering investigation
From News Reports:

Singapore, January 8: Prosecutors filed charges against a former employee of Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank in Singapore in the ongoing investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that was founded by Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in 2009 and that is being investigated for money-laundering in at least six countries, reports the Straits Times.
Singapore prosecutors filed 10 charges against former employee of the Singapore Falcon Private Swiss bank, Swiss national Jens Sturzenegger, that included failing to disclose suspect bank transactions.
Charges against Swiss national Jens Sturzenegger, who was arrested in October, includes providing false information to officials at the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department.
Jens Sturzenegger reportedly intends to plead guilty at a hearing to be held on January 11, his lawyer Tan Hee Joek of Tan See Swan & Co told the court.
The Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank in Singapore that is owned by International Petroleum Investment Company in Abu Dhabi was closed in May following criminal proceedings in Switzerland against the private bank in its transactions with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director, Ravi Menon, said that the Bank's status as a merchant bank in Singapore had been withdrawn for serious breaches of anti-money laundering regulations.
He said in May that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) had referred five former executives of the Bank to the public prosecutor for possible criminal charges.
In August 2014 the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara and Malaysian police began investigation of allegations published in the Wall Street Journal on 2 July 2014 that funds that had allegedly been donated by the son of the late Saudi king Abdullah, were transferred from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak private bank accounts.
The Wall Street Journal reports that US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) was deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak account between 2011 and 2013, more than the US$681 million identified in the initial investigation.
The Southeast Asian Times

Oil spill clean up in Malaysian waters under way
The MT APL Denver was reportedly rammed by the MT Wan Hai 301 in the eastern Johor Straits on Tuesday
From News Reports:
Singapore, January 7: The collision of a Singapore-registered container and Gibraltar-registered container in Johor, Malaysia, causing a medium level oil spill, will reportedly take more than a week to clean up, reports Reuters.
Singapore-registered MT Wan Hai 301 reportedly rammed into the Gilbraltar-registered MT APL Denver anchored at the Pasir Gudang port at about 11pm on Tuesday, causing a 300 tonnes oil spill.
The Gilbraltar-registered MT APL Denver, owned by Germany's HLL Pacific Schiffahrts and the Singapore-registered MT WAN HAI 301, owned by Wan Hai Lines Singapore and operated by Taiwan's Wan Hai Lines have been detained and an investigation is underway.
The Johor Port Authority (LPJ) said in a statement that the port was operating as usual but vessels would experience berthing delays at the Container Terminal while work to control the oil spill was underway.
Quick action by Johor Port Bhd, with the cooperation of agencies in the Pasir Gudang Oil Spill Task Force including the Johor Port Authority (LPJ), Department of Environment, South Region Marine Department and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas, was reportedly taken to prevent the spill from spreading.
The Johor Port Authority (LPJ) has deployed four anti-pollution craft and an oil boom to contain the oil spill.
But coastal fish farms in the Eastern Johor Straits have reportedly been affected by the oil spill.
Dead fish were found at Kampung Pasir Putih, Kampung Teluk Kabung and Kampung Perigi Aceh, with fish farmers reporting a loss of between 100 to 200kg.
Fish farmers have been advised to stop feeding fish and to deploy canvas skirting to prevent oil from contaminating fish stocks.
Fish samples from coastal fish farms in the Eastern Johor Straits have been collected for food safety tests.
Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman, Datuk Ayub Rahmat, said that the ship owners involved in the collision are required to pay a RM1million bond to clean up the oil spill.
"The Environment Quality Act 1974 holds both ships responsible for the costs of cleaning up the oil spill," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Vietnam objects to China's air service to Paracel Islands
From News Reports:
Hanoi, January 6: Vietnam has objected to China's launch last week of a commercial air service to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands in the South China Sea, reports Tuoitrenews.
Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said that Vietnam strongly objects to China's launch of a regular air route to the Phu Lam airport in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.
“Vietnam resolutely protests China’s launch of the air route and demands that China end the violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa archipelago,” he said.
He said that Vietnam has historical evidence to assert its sovereignty of Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.
In 2015 the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong called for the demilitarisation of the South China Sea and the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) on the state visit to Hanoi of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and President of China, Xi Jinping.
But China Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hua Chunying, denied that island building in the South China Sea would militarize the area
"China's construction on the Nansha Islands serves mostly civilian purposes, helping deliver our international responsibilities and obligations for the public good," he said.
In 2014 Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh accused China of violation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS) following the deployment by China of National Offshore Oil Corporation oil rig, Haiyang Shiyou 98, to the Paracel Islands.
"Vietnam's sovereignity over the Paracel Islands are in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea", he said.
China State Councilor Yang Jiechi said in response to requests made by Vietnam to China to remove the oil rig that oil exploration in waters in China's South China Sea was 'completely legal'.
The China's claim of indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters that was lodged with the United Nations in 2009 was subsequently disputed by Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines in an appeal to the rule of International Law and Arbitration.
The Southeast Asian Times

Chinese women arrested in Jakarta nightclub
From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 5: Indonesian immigration authorities arrested 76 Chinese women suspected of working on a tourist visa at the Sun City nightclub in West Jakarta on New Year's Eve, reports the Jakarta Post.
Immigration director general, Yurod Saleh, said his department raided the nightclub following information received from the public that the Chinese women were employed as sex workers at the nightclub.
"The women ranged in age from 18 to 30 years old," he said.
He said that there were more Chinese women such as those arrested employed as masseuses, karaoke hostesses and sex workers since Indonesia waived visa requirements for Chinese tourists in 2015.
"The women are victims of human trafficking committed by irresponsible parties," he said.
Immigration authorities confiscated Chinese passports, bills, 15 million rupees (S$1,600) in cash and contraceptives from the women.
The Chinese women are reportedly held at the Tangerang immigration detention center.
They face deportation up to 5 years in jail for breaking Indonesian immigration laws.
Central Statistics Agency (BPS) chairman Kecuk Suhariyanto said that Chinese nationals accounted for the most foreign tourists arrivals in Indonesia for the last year.
He said that more than 1.8 million Chinese tourists arrived in Indonesia between January and November last year, less than from Thailand and Malaysia.
"Indonesia today relied more on China to drive its tourism businesse," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Hanoi court upholds former Agribank director 30 year jail sentence
Pham Thi Bich Luong former director of the South Hanoi branch of Agriculture and Rural Development Bank of Vietnam (Agribank) lost her appeal against a 30 year jail sentence in the Hanoi People’s Court
From News Reports:
Hanoi, January 2017: The Hanoi People’s Court upheld the verdict of former Agriculture and Rural Development Bank of Vietnam (Agribank) director who was sentenced in 2015 to 30 years imprisonment for her involvement in the misapropriation of funds that caused multimillion-dollar losses to the state, reports Tuoitre News.
Pham Thi Bich Luong, former director of the South Hanoi branch of Agriculture and Rural Development Bank of Vietnam (Agribank) lost her appeal against the 30 year jail sentence for “breaching regulations on loan provision” and “abusing power while performing official duties”.
In October 2015 Pham Thi Bich Luong was convicted with 17 banking officials for providing loans of over US$122.6 million between 2008 and 2012 to the shareholders of the Lifepro Vietnam Joint Venture Company for non-existent projects.
Chairman, Chinese national Yang Hong, general director, Canadian Boubker El Fehdi, shareholders Canadians Driss Bou Chama and Ahmed El Fehdi and Italian Manuela Polga were among those sentenced to up to 22 years imprisonment for the misapropriation of bank funds and were ordered to pay compensation of VND2.5 trillion ($111.61 million) to the Agribank.
In November 2013 the Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Court sentenced two executives of the Agribank Financial Leasing Company No 2 (ALCII), a subsidiary of the State-owned Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural development Bank of Vietnam (Agribank) to death for embezzlement.
In December 2012 Police arrested Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) teller Le Thi Vung after 70 people complained that she had cheated them of almost dong 20 billion.
Ho Chi Minh City police also accused Agribank manager Doi Sy Thuy; his deputy Nguyen Huu Long; business planning director Dao Phuong The and teller Huynh Trung Hieu of having colluded with customers to embezzle more than US$5 million from their bank in District 3.
Judges of the Ha Noi Supreme People’s Court sentenced teller Le Quang Khai, 30, to death in July 2012 for his part in the embezzlement of almost dong 46 billion, about US$2.2 million, from Agribank.
The Southeast Asian Times

The Southeast Asian Times wishes its readers all the best for the New Year with a special thankyou to its treasured letter writers

Arrests in Malaysia under sedition act for billboards in support for Anwar
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 1: Police arrested three men aged in their 50's for the installation of billboards in support of jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Penang on Friday, reports the New Straits Times.
Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT) police chief ACP Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abdul Hamid said the three were arrested while "putting up" billboards deemed to incite at Jalan Baru in Penang.
The police chief said that the three men who were arrested under the Sedition Act have been released on bail.
The Bukit Mertajam Umno division secretary, Mohd Fauzi Sharif, demanded that the billboards that call for support for jailed former People's Justice Party opposition party leader Anwar Ibrahim be removed.
The billboards reportedly called for the release from prison of the former opposition leader and for support at a gathering to be held at the Seberang Jaya expo site on January 9.
Former opposition party leader, Anwar Ibrahim, was convicted by the Federal Court for sodomy of his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008 and sentenced to five years imprisonment in February 2015.
The former opposition leader failed in his bid earlier this month to prosecute his former aide for making false allegations against him.
A three-judge panel chaired by Syarie judge Yusup Che Teh dismissed the appeal saying that the former opposition leader had failed to provide evidence for the prosecution.
Anwar Ibrahim was ordered to pay RM5,000 in costs to the respondents.
The Southeast Asian Times

Cambodian student sentenced to prison for call to overthrow government
Kong Raiya, Khemrak University student and member of the Khmer Angkor youth Association at the Phnom Penh Supreme Court on Thursday
From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, December 31: The Phnom Penh Supreme Court upheld the conviction of first-year political science student, Kong Raiya, on Thursday for his call to overthrow the government, reports the Khmer Times.
Kong Raiya, who was charged with "incitement to commit a felony", was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail, with a six months suspended sentence by the Phnom PSenh Municipal Court in March.
Presiding judge of the Supreme Court, Saly Theara, said that "the Supreme Court understood that the judgment of the Appeal Court was right and made in accordance with the laws of Cambodia.”
Kong Raiya, Khemrak University student and member of the Khmer Angkor Youth Association wrote under the name Soriya Koko on Facebook.
He said on Facebook that he would "launch the color revolution in order to change the regime running Cambodian society, "
“Who dares to launch the color revolution with me", he said.
Kong Raiya said that the color revolution posted on Facebook referred to a non-violent gathering or meeting of people.
“I think that if the Royal Government and the court arrest and sentence me over using the words color revolution they should also arrest all people who have held non-violent protests or non-violent demonstrations and send them to court too,” he said.
Kong Raiya said that Cambodia will be returned to "a Pol Pot regime" following the signing of the Law on Civil Society by "our puppet king"
He admitted that he had posted the messages on Facebook but that they were his "personal expression of ideas" saying that “I merely expressed my own opinions or ideas that are guaranteed by the Cambodian constitution.
"I did not break the law,” he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Fatwa edict challenged in Jakarta Governor blasphemy case
Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama at the second hearing at the North Jakarta District Court in Jakarta on December 27.
The governor faces multiple charges under Article 156 (a) on blasphemy of the Criminal Code, that contains a maximum jail sentence of five years and Article 28, point (2) of the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law on promoting hate speech, that carries a maximum six years of imprisonment
From News Reports:
Jakarta, December 30: Human rights activists united under the Civil Society Alliance for the Constitution (Amsik) have challenged the Indonesian legal system for accepting Indonesian Ulema Council MUI fatwa edicts as a source of law in the alleged blasphemy charges against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnamaas, reports the Jakarta Post.
Twenty one activists including rights group Setara Institute's chairman Hendardi and human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis have criticized prosecutors in the case saying that "the opinions and religious views of the Indonesian Ulema Council MUI fatwa edicts are not law.
"An edict shall not be binding," said human rights lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis.
The activists said prosecutors lacked professionalism by citing the Indonesian Ulema Council MUI fatwa edict in their indictment.
"The citing of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) fatwa edict had endangered due process of the law" said the activists.
The activists claim that the MUI had issued the edict without giving the Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnamas a chance to provide tabayyun (clarification) saying that "such a flawed legal process had led to a trial by mob."
Prosecutors charged Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnamaas with blasphemy in the first hearing that began on 13 December at the North Jakarta District Court.
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama reportedly cited verse Al-Maidah 51 from the Quran while campaigning for next year's re election.
He reportedly told the fishermen that they have been deceived by those who use Al-Maidah 51 in the Quran to discourage Muslims from supporting him.
The Southeast Asian Times

Indonesians recieve right to land in Kalimantan
rom News Reports:
Jakarta, December 29: Indonesian President Joko Widodo granted 2,082 land certificates to the Kubu Raya District community in West Kalimantan on Wednesday, reports the Jakarta Post.
The president said that the land certificates are a grant of land rights and services to the Indonesian people including the community in West Kalimantan.
"The land certificates can be used as collateral," he said.
The president said that the government would accelerate the issuance of land certificates and plans to distribute five million land certificates in 2017.
"We have set a target of seven million land certificates in 2018 and nine million land certificates in 2019," he said.
In October the Indonesian Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Layout Ministry and National Land Agency (BPN) announced a plan to issue land certificates throughout Indonesia by 2025.
Sugeng Suparwoto, spokesman for the Ministery and Land Agency said that President Joko Widodo had included the land certification program in the medium-term national development plan in 2015.
He said that only 40 percent of the 178 million hectares of plots of land in Indonesia had been registered with 67 percent of the land registered certified.
He said that the certification process lagged behind because there was a shortage of land surveyors.
"There are only 2,000 land surveyors," he said.
In January 2015 Palm-oil tycoon, Budiono Tan was arrested in Jakarta for the misappropiation of land titles belonging to palm oil farmers in West Kalimantan.
Budiono Tan, who was on the police most-wanted list since 2009, is accused of misappropriatting 1,535 land titles in Ketapang, West Kalimantan through his company, PT Benua Indah Grup (BIG).
The Southeast Asian Times

Benedict Anderson, a man without a country, dies in Indonesia. ...Senior editor at the New Republic , Jeet Heer, reports page here


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properties listed for sale in Myanmar

From News Reports:
Yangon, November 25: Singapore's largest property developer, the Far East Organization, is to partner with Myanmar's local property sales and marketing company, Min Zin Agency, in Yangon to sell condos in Singapore.
Managing director of the Min Zin Agency in Yangon, Ko Kyaw Min Zin, said that Singapore's Far East Organization has expanded its sales and marketing efforts into Myanmar.
“The Far East Organisation has been selling their Singapore properties to Myanmar buyers since 2009,” he said.
The Far East Organisation reportedly have over 750 properties in Singapore’s residential, hospitality, retail, commercial and industrial sectors,
including 45,500 or one in every six private homes in Singapore listed with the Min Zin Agency in Yangon.
The Southeast Asian Times

China to invest in rail and road construction
in Indonesia
From News Reports:
Jakarta, November 10:
Indonesia's Railway Corporation (PT KAI) and state construction company PT Jasa Marga signed a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) with China Investment Fund (CIF) to develop indonesia's railway services and toll road construction.
Witness to the signing, coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil, said that the MoU will provide the groundwork for further cooperation between China Railway and P KAI and China Investment Fund (CIF).
"The MoU is the first step towards further development of public services between China and Indonesia" he said.
Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia, Xie Feng said that the MoU would spark more cooperations between China and Indonesia and would bring about "real benefits to the public."
The Southeast Asian Times

Penang health department shuts down soya bean factory
From News Reports:
Penang, October 19: Five Penang food factories including a 100 year old soya bean factory at Tanjong Bungah were ordered closed by the state health department for failure to observe health standards.
State health, food safety and quality division, deputy director Ku Nafishah Ku Ariffin said soya bean products were processed in an unclean "rusty and moldy kitchen".
"Our inspectors found that wet products were left to dry on "dirty" bamboo sticks along with bathing towels. The bamboo sticks were also dirty and dusty," she said.
A "sweets" factory in Teluk Kumbar, a noodle factory in Simpang Ampat and a sauce factory in Bukit Metajam were also closed by the state health department
The Southeast Asian Times

Fuel smugglers including military personnel under arrest
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 15: Riau Islands Police have arrested 30 suspects including several Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel and seized 64 cars, two boats and 106 tons of fuel.
Riau Islands Police chief Brig. Gen. Arman Depary said in Batam last week that the seized cars had been modified to hold 100 litres of fuel.
"The Military (TNI) personnel are suspected of fuel smuggling and have been handed over to the military base", he said.
TNI Commander Gen. Moeldoko said that the alleged suspected fuel smugglers are honor-based service military personnel.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai coup blammed for fall in tourist arrivals
From News Reports:
Bangkok, August 18: The Thai tourism sector suffered its largest fall in international visitors to Thailand in June, the first month after the establishment of marshal law and the military seizure of the Yingluck Shinawatra government.
Tourism reportedly accounts for 10 percent of the Thai economy.
Data from the Thai Department of Tourism shows that inernational tourist arrival numbers in July fell by 10.9 percent compared to the same time last year.
International arrivals in July totalled 1.91 million compared to 2.15 million in July 2013.
Arrivals from China with a18 percent share of all visitors to thailand and the largest group of visitors to Thailand, fell by 25.3 percent.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom with a 4 percent share of all visitors to Thailand, was one of the few large markets to record a gain, of 6.2 percent
The Southeast Asian Times

US Senate approves sales of nuclear equipment to Vietnam
From News Reports:
Hanoi, July 31: The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed legislation approving a 123 agreement on civil nuclear commerce with Vietnam at a business meeting of the committee last week.
The 123 agreement under the US Atomic energy Act of 1954 establishes a civil nuclear commerce agreement that allows the US to export nuclear reactors, research information and equipment to Vietnam.
The civil nuclear commerce agreement between the US and Vietnam is "part of Vietnam's effort to ease its shortage of energy towards meeting over 10 percent of the domestic power demand by 2030", reports the Vietnam News Service
The Southeast Asian Times

Court for construction
in Malaysia
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, May 3: The first two Construction Courts for Malaysia were opened by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam last week, reports the Star.
The courts will deal with disputes in the construction industry.
Works Minister Datuk Haji Fadillah bin Haji Yusof said that the establishment of the courts will transform the way the construction business in the country operates.
"The construction industry stakerholders can now have their disputes resolved by judges with expert knowledge and experience in construction industry disputes', he said.
The proposal by the Construction Industry Board (CIDB) for the establishment of the construction courts was first put to the Judiciary in January 2013.
Britain is the only other country that has a specially designated court that deals with construction industry disputes.

The Southeast Asian Times

Bali communities want larger share of tourism revenue

From News Reports:
Denpasar, April 14: Bali community-based tourism operators have called for amendments to regulations that stipulate that the local community pay the Bali regency administration 60 percent of their total tourism revenue.
Penglipuran tourist village in Bangli, community-based tourism manager, Nengah Moneng, said that he objected to the fact that his community received only 40 percent of the total revenue.
"We want to have 60 percent share of the tourist revenue to pay for operating costs", he said.
The Penglipuran tourism manager said that operating costs for trekking, traditional dance, cultural shows including religious rituals had increased.
The cost of operating lodges and community halls for tourism had also increased.
"An increase in revenue for not only the Bangli community but for tourism based communities across Bali would benefit tourism island-wide" said the tourism manager.
The Southeast Asian Times

Riau forest fires force Chevron to shut down oil wells
From News Reports:
Jakarta, March 21: PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI), the Indonesian subsidiary of US-based oil company Chevron has shut down 573 oil wells in the Riau province of Sumatra.
The deteriorating quality of air due to forest fires that have been raging for the last month has forced PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI) to shut down its oil wells and evacuate workers and there families.
Indonesia's upstream oil and gas regulator, SKK Migas, public relations officer, Handoyo Budi Santoso, said that oil assets in Riau province are important to national crude oil production.
"The biggest production loss came from the shutdown of Rokan block, operated by Chevron Pacific Indonesia, the country's biggest producer of crude oil production", he said
The Jakarta Posts reports that potential losses are estimated at about 12,000 barrels of oil a day.
The Southeast Asian Times

Sabah caters to influx of tourists from China

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, March 5:
The New Straits Times reports that there was an 86 percent increase in tourist arrivals from China
to Sabah in the last two years.
Data from the Sabah Tourism Board reportedly shows that 193,010 tourist tourists arrived in Sabah from China in 2011 increasing to 360,361 in 2013
Sabah West Coast Coffeeshop Association chairman, Yong Chee Yun, said coffee shop operators were catering to the influx of tourists from China.
"Coffee shops displayed tourist friendly signs in Chinese saying 'how are you?' and menues included China's favourite foods", he said.
Sabah and Labuan Chapter chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels and general manager of the At Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort,
said that staff members are encouraged to learn Mandarin.
"So that they can converse better with guests" he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Pilots strike forces Merpati to cancel

From News Reports:
Jakarta,January 29: A pilots strike forced State-owned PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines to cancelled all scheduled flights to Surabaya, Merauke and Timika on Saturday, reports The Jakarta Post.
Merpati corporate secretary Riswanto Chendra Putra said that the airline had not paid salaries to pilots and cabin crew for two months.
The Jakarta Post reports that PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines was required to restructure its operations.
Merpati corporate secretary Riswanto Chendra Putra says that Merpati has signed a memorndum of understanding (MoU) with PT Armagedon Indonesia and PT Bentang Persada Gemilang to restructure the company.
The airline has debts of Rp 6.5 trillion (US$533 million) reports the Jakarta Post.
"The management would pay the salaries around March or early April, said the Merpati corporate secretary.
Merpati’s workers union advisory board official, Erry Wardhana, said about 200 Merpati pilots planned to strike again next Saturday for an indefinite period.
"The pilots would strike until 1,600 Merpati employees were paid", he said.
The union advisory board official says that this is the first time that Merpati workers have gone on strike over unpaid wages.
The pilots are owed wages for December and January reports the Jakarta Post.
The Southeast Asian Times