The Southeast Asian Times
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established 2000
Sunday, 19 April 2015
An informed guide to happenings throughout the region.

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

Thai military not invited to
US 4 July celebrations in Bangkok
From News Reports
Bangkok, July 2: Senior Thai military officers have not been invited by the US embassy in Thailand to attend Independence Day celebrations on 4 July in Bangkok, reports the Nation.
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Colonel Werachon Sukondhapatipak said that Commander of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), General Prayuth and four other senior military officers have not received an invitation from the US embassy to attend the annual US Independence Day celebration on the 4 July in Bangkok.
The US embassy in Thailand will reportedly hold a reception on Thursday at a Bangkok hotel to celebrate Independence Day.
Invitations were extended to senior government officials, selected members of the public and the diplomatic community but did not include senior Thai military officers.
Invitations for the US Independence Day celebrations that began arriving last week and that did not include senior Thai military officers
follow the ban last week on the participation of the Thai navy in the US led Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) attended by 22 navies.
The ban on the Thai navy participation in the biennual maritime exercise in the Asia-Pacific follows the declaration of martial law by Commander of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), General Prayuth Chan-ocha on May 22.
The Southeast Asian Time

Read the letters to The Southeast Asian here

Farmers claim mining and military in collusion to force them off their land
From News Reports:
Manila, April 19: The Compostela Farmer’s Association (CFA) in the Philippine Province of Compostela Valley claims that mining company,
Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corp., is in collusion with the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) to force the farmers to accept mining on their land, reports Bulatlat.
The Compostela Farmer’s Association (CFA) secretary, Jimmy Saypan, has reportedly accused the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) 66th Infantry Battalion of "acting as the protector and partner of the Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corp"
Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corp., is a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation whose chairman Eduardo "Danding Cojuangco is the uncle of Philippine President Benigno Aquino.
He said that the mining company is "enticing" farmers with community development projects that are administered by the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP).
"A health clinic is under construction in our area", he said.
He said that the farmers in Compostels Valley believed that the government would force them to accept the mining company and drive them off their land.
"We will never give up our right to the resources on our land", he said.
Bulatat reports that Army officials deny having acted as "company guards" for Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corp who were granted mining exploration permits in Compostela Valley to cover a total area of 2,416.91 hectres.
Sworn affidavits, photographs and video footage showing violations allegedly perpetrated by the 66th and 67th Infantry Battalions of the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) weresS provided by communities in the Compostela Valley.
Exodus for Justice and Peace (Ejp) spokesman, Rius Valle, said that violations are perpretated on civilians in the Military supposed operations against New Peoples Army rebels.
Residents say that Military operations are "clearing operations" not only to drive out New Peoples Army rebels but to force residents to accept the mining company.
The Southeast Asian Times

90 accused in killing of 44 commandos
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima says that the National Bureau of Investigation report has determined criminal liability in the killing of 44 National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Muslim maguindanao in the southern Philippines on January 25

From News Reports:
Manila, April 18: The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended that criminal charges be laid against 90 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and civilians in the killing of 44 National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Muslim maguindanao in the southern Philippines on January 25.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the National Bureau of Investigation has recommended that criminal charges be laid against 90 from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups.
The Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry (BOI), and a Senate enquiry began the investigaion into death of the 44
National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos in February.
The Board of Inquiry documented almost 300 eyewitness accounts of the military encounter on 25 January in Muslim Mindanao where the 44 commandos were killed.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that one witness idenified as “Marathon,” had named eight field commanders from the MILF and three from the BIFF as having been involved in the killing of 35 of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed.
She said that while the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation had considered the findings of the Senate inquiry, Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the International Monitoring Team, eyewitness accounts of the military encounter were paramount in the recommendation to lay charges.
The encounter began with the deployment of 392 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos to arrest Malaysian Islamic militant, Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan and Filipino militant Abdul Basit Usman who between them had a $5 million bounty on their heads and were on the U.S. FBI wanted list.
The National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos reportedly killed Marwan in a raid on his hideout in Tukanalipao village, Mamasapano, but Usman, although wounded, escaped.
The military encounter between the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and its breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), left 44 PNF-SAF and 18 MILF and an undisclosed number of BIFF dead.
The Southeast Asian Times

Asylum seeker blockade - attempt to stop transfer to Nauru

From News Reports:
Darwin, April 17: About 70 asylum seekers, detained by the Australia Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection, have blockaded a section of the Wickham Point detention centre in Darwin in northern Australia in an attempt to stop their transfer to the Nauru detention centre in Papua New Guinea and for possible relocation to Cambodia.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman, Ian Rintoul said the blockade began yesterday afternoon as security guards attempted to move the detainees to a high security area prior to their transfer to Nauru.
He said that the blockade at the Wickham Point detention centre was an attempt by the asylum seekers to stop the security guards from separating married couples and families.
"A pregnant woman is among the about 20 asylum seekers scheduled for transfer to Nauru", he said.
The asylum seekers do not want to go Nauru, reportedly saying that they "fear abuse, the condition of their detention in Nauru, lack of water, lack of privacy and poor environmental conditions".
Nauru accepted A$20 million in aid from the Australian Government in 2001 for the establishment of the Nauri detention centre in Papua New Guinea for up to 800 refugees.
Cambodia Minister of the interior Sar Kheng and Australian Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison signed an agreement in Phnom Penh in September that would enable the settlement of the Nauru refugees in Cambodia and not in Australia.
The agreement included the payment $US35 million in development assistance to Cambodia by Australia over the next four years in return for the voluntary resettlement of refugees from Australian detention centres on the island of Nauru in Papua New Guinea and on the Australian mainland in Cambodia.
About 80 refugees from the about 200 on Nauru protested outsde the Australian High Commission in Nauru following the signing of the agreement in September saying that they reject Australia's offer of resettlement in Cambodia.
The Southeast Asian Times

Agent Orange victim testifies in French court today
Tran To Nga, 73, in Hanoi last year seeks justice for her family and other victims of the defoiliant Agent Orange
From News Reports:
Hanoi, April 2015: The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) that represents more than 3 million Vietnamese Agent-Orange victims, reports that a Vietnamese victim of the defoiliant Agent Orange will appear in a French court today.
Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) president, Senior Lieutenant-General, Nguyen Van Rinh, said that Tran To Nga, 73, will appear in the Envry county court to testify against the use of the defoliant Agent Orange by the United States military during the occupation of southern Vietnam.
The Vietnamese woman is reportedly claiming damages from 26 United States chemical companies for the supply of the chemical to the US military for the conduct of chemical warfare in Vietnam on behalf of millions of victims of the defoiliant Agent Orange.
Tran To Nga, 73, was a correspondent for the Viet Nam News Agency (VNA) during the use of the defoiliant Agent Orange in Viet Nam by the United States Military between 1961 and 1971
"She reported in areas densely spayed with Agent Orange including in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Long district, Binh Phuoc Province and the Ho Chi Minh Trail", he said.
Her eldest child died of a congenital heart defect at 17 months, a second daughter inherited the blood disorder, alpha thalassemia and her youngest daughter sufferes from a skin disease as a result of the about 80 million litres of toxic herbicides commonly referred to as Agent Orange that had been sprayed on Viet Nam.
Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) president, Senior Lieutenant-General, said that Tran To Nga, 73, had provided witness testimony at the International People's Tribunal of Conscience sitting in Paris in May 2009.
The International People's Tribunal of Conscience sitting in Paris found that the United States military’s use of dioxins, including Agent Orange, in Viet Nam between 1961 and 1971 was a crime against humanity
Tribunal President Jitendra Sharma delivered the finding of “ecocide” made by seven international judges after two days of hearing expert evidence and the testimony of three victims including Tran To Nga, 73.
The United States government and the defoliant manufacturers were well aware that dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man, the judgement said.
It was capable of causing prolonged serious consequences not only to humans and the environment but also to the Viet Nam’s economy.
The Southeast Asian Times

Heavy metals found in fish in Mahakam river
From News Reports:
Jakarta, April 15: A study conducted by the Mulawarman University in Balikapapan, East Kalimantan, has found unsafe concentrations of heavy metals in fish caught in the Mahakam river, reports the Jakarta Post.
Mulawarman University Community Health School vice dean Blego Sedionoto said lead, cadmium, copper and zinc were found at unsafe levels in the river.
He said that the tolerable level for lead was 0.003 milligrams per kg; 0.005 milligrams for copper; 0.3 milligrams for zinc and 0.0005 for cadmium.
Lead concentrations of 4.02 milligrams, copper 1.93 milligrams, zinc 97.54 milligrams , cadmium 1.03 mg, were found in each kilogram of fish in the river.
"Those who consumed fish contaminated by high concentrations of heavy metals were exposing themselves to carcinogenic substances", he said.
The coal mines that operate upstream are allegedly responsible for the high concenrates of heavy metal pollution, reports the Jakarta Post.
East Kalimantan Fisheries Agency, head, Iwan Mulyana said that the office had yet to receive reports of illness related to fish consumption in the Mahakam river.
He said that annual fish consumption in East Kalimantan is 58 kg per capita, higher than the national consumption rate of 36 kg per capita.
"Coal should be transported in closed containers to prevent air and river pollution", he said.
East Kalimantan Fisheries Agency, head, Iwan Mulyana said that the Kutai Kartanegara regency should take firm action.
The Southeast Asian Times

Study reveals unfair judicial process in death penalty convictions in Indonesia
Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) director Supriyadi Eddyono, former National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chairman Ifdhal Kasim and Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) researcher Wahyudi Djafar met on Sunday to discuss Indonesia's "unfair judicial process" They say "no executions"
From News Reports:
Jakarta, April 14: The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) say that a study of 42 death sentences handed down by Indonesia's district courts, state courts and the Supreme Court over 11 years for drug offences and premeditated murder reveals that a number of convictions were the result of "unfair judicial process".
The district courts, state courts and Supreme courts found guilty of "unfair judicial process" include West Java with 11, Jakarta with six, Bali with five, North Sumatra four and Banten and East Java with three each.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) executive director Supriyadi Eddyono said that the study showed that law enforcement officers allegedly tortured and intimidated the accused in 11 of the 42 death sentences handed down by the court in order to obtain a guilty verdict.
The study also revealed that the defendants did not have access to legal assistance.
The study showed that 29 of the 42 death sentences were handed down to Indonesians and 13 to foreign nationals during the 11 year period.
The study also showed that three death sentences were handed down to Indonesians who were 19 years old when they committed the offence.
Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy, researcher, Wahyudi Djafar, said that the lack of effective trial monitoring, the length of the detention period before trial and the poor case appeal mechanism had "paved the way for wrongful convictions".
“In many cases, wrongful convictions are unavoidable in Indonesia's criminal judicial process,” he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Women against eviction of Phnom Penh residents released from jail
Tep Vanny, Nget Khun, Song Sreyleap, Kong Chantha, Pan Chunreth, Bop Chorvy, Nong Sreng, Heng Pich, Im Srey Touch and Puong Sopheap were released from Prey Sar prison on Saturday. “The ten of us are very happy to rejoin our families, especially our children, communities and organizations,” said Tep Vanny
From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, April 13: Ten women activists jailed in November for protesting the eviction of thousands of residents from Boeung Kak lake in central Phnom Penh were released from jail on Saturday, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Five of the ten women were also activists in the so called "Boeung Kak 13" who were arrested in May 2012 at the site of thier former dwellings at Boeung Kak lake in central Phnom Penh and sentenced to the Prey Sar prison for up to 30 months.
King Norodom Sihamoni granted the 10 women including, Nget Khun, 75, a royal pardon following negotiations between Prime Minister Hun Sen, deputy president of Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP) and Member of Parliament for Kampong Cham, Sam Rainsy, leader of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
Lawyer for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Choung Choungy, said that the activists had been advised to drop their appeal with the Supreme court against their convictions in order to secure their release by royal pardon.
He said that King Norodom Sihamoni was on a routine medical visit to China and that when the king was not available to sign a royal pardon, the acting head of state can sign on his behalf.
"I do not know who signed the royal pardon for their release", he said
The 10, all women, Boeung Kak lake activists, were found guilty of “aggravated rebellion” and the illegal occupation of land when they appeared before Phnom Penh municipal court judge Phou Povsun in November, reportedly without legal representation.
Police also arrested a monk from Stung Meanchy Pagoda outside the court during a protest, calling for the women's release.
The women were arrested for protesing the eviction of thousands of residents, claiming they were "forecibly relocated".
The land rights of more than 4,225 families, who were evicted from the land surrounding the Boeung Kak lake, and who were eligible for title in accordance with Cambodia’s 2001 Land Law, were apparently not recognised.
Their dwellings were reportedly demolished in 2010 to allow China's Inner Mongolia Erdos Hongjun Investment Corporation to fill the lake to build luxury flats and high-end shops.
The Phnom Penh municipal administration and Shukaku Incorporated signed a US$79 million 99 year lease agreement for 133 hectares of prime real estate including Boeung Kak and its surrounds in February 2007.
In December 2014 Singapore property developer HLH Group limited withdrew from an agreement with Cambodian property developer Shukaku Incorporated to purchase land at Boeung Kak lake in central Phnom Penh for development.
The development of business, apartments and shopping centres worth $14.9 million struck in June between HLH Group limited new subsidiary, D’Lotus Development and Cambodian developer Shukaku Incorporated, a company owned by Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP) Senator Lao Meng Khin was terminated in December 2014.
The Southeast Asian Times

Malaysia amends Sedition Act 1948
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, April 12: Amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 were passed early hours yesterday morning by the ruling Dewan Rakyat following a 12 hour debate, reports the New Straits Times.
Amendments include the reduction of the minimum jail term for seditious offences that cause injury or damage to property from five years to three years.
The importation of seditious publications are no longer considered an offence under the Act.
The Court retains the right to grant bail for a seditious offence under the introduction of Section 5A.
Under Section 5A the public prosecutor is required to provide a statement saying that it is not in the public interest to grant bail.
The introduction of Section 5B empowers the court to prevent those accussed of sedition and who have been released on bail from leaving Malaysia including the surrender of travel documents
Under Section 5B the court has the power to order the Immigration Director- General to refuse the issuance of travel documents.
Changes to the wording that would make sedicious the enticement of person or persons or group for a state to secede from Malaysia were also included in the amendements to the Sedition Act 1948.
In November about 2000 including lawyers led by the Malaysian Bar president Chris Leong marched on Parliament House to submitt a draft Bill to Prime Miniser Najib Tun Razak for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948.
Malaysian Bar president Chris Leong said that the Sedition Act 1948 undermines the aspirations of "right-thinking and moderate" Malaysians.
Wanita, the womens wing of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Malaysia's largest political party called on a million Malaysians also in November to sign a petition against the abolition of the Sedition Act 1948.
Wanita Umno say that they do no agree with the proposed dissolution of the Act and that signatures and a memorandum requesing postponement of the abolishment or amendement to the Sedition Act will be submited to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
In September Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that Malaysia's Sedition Act 1948 is to be replaced with the National Harmony Act but that the proposed National Harmony Act would not grant total freedom of expression.
He said Malay rights, the sanctity of Islam as the official religion of Malaysia and the Royal institution, that were enshrined in the Federal Constitution would not be open to question with the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948.
"The government is in no hurry to push for the National Harmony Act", he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Section 44 empowers military to return golf club land to farmers
The Agricultural Land Reform Office and the military are conducting an investigation into the construction of the Bonanza Golf and Country Club including a race track on forest reserve land with fraudulant land title deeds
From News Reports:
Bangkok, April 11: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha invoked Section 44 of the interim constitution, that effectively gives ultimate power to the Prime Minister, to investigate the alleged encroachment of land intended for farming by the Bonanza Golf and Country Club on reserved forest land in the Pak Ching district in Nakhon Ratchasasima province in northeast Thailand.
Section 44 of the interim constitution replaced Martial Law that was lifted last week.
Any action taken by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who is also National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Commander to promote reform and national unity is legal under Section 44 of the interim constitution.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) signed an order on Wednesday to empower the military under the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code to address encroachment of reserved forest land, saying that the police force was not up to the task and that the miliary "would help them out".
The Prime Minister said that officials who failed to cooperate with the military would face serious disciplinary action.
Agricultural Land Reform Office, deputy secretary-general, Premchi Sangkapong said that the department had began an investigation into the encroachment of Bonanza Golf and Country Club on reserved forest land that is officially intended for farming.
She said that an investigation of the alleged encroachment of the Bonanza Golf and Country Club on reserved forest land was underway.
The investigation follows a raid on the Bonanza Golf and Country Club known as the "Bonanza Khao Yai" last month.
The Bonanza Golf and Country Club had encroached on reserve forest land and included a golf course and a racing circuit, reportedly used for red-shirt rallies in support of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The Southeast Asian Times

Lawyer calls for lighter sentence for US citizen in Bali murder trial
Heather Lois Mack, 19, and boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, holding newborn baby, Stella, on their way to the Denpasar District Court to stand trial for the murder of Chicago woman, Sheila Von Wiese, 62, in Bali in August
From News Reports:
Denpasar, April 10: Lawyers have asked judges in the Denpasar District Court this week for a light sentence for a US citizen charged with the murder of Chicago woman, Sheila Von Wiese, 62, who was found stuffed in a suitcase in the boot of a taxi at the entrance of the St. Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua in August, reports the Jakarta Post.
Prosecutors are seeking 15 years imprisonment for US citizen Heather Lois Mack, 19, daughter of the murdered woman, and 18 years imprisonment for her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, who were tried in separate courts.
Lawyer, Ni Kadek Sri Novi Wirino said that Heather Lois Mack did not deserve a 15 year prison term, saying that accusations that Mack had facilitated premeditated murder could not be proven.
"There was no element of planning in the murder", he said.
Police allege that Sheila Von Wiese Mack was bludgeoned to death with a heavy glass object by her daughter Heather Lois Mack, 19 and boyfriend Tommy Schaeffer, 22, at the Bali five star hotel where the three were registered guests.
Both Heather Lois Mack, 19, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, were charged under Article 340 of the Criminal Code for premeditated murder which carries a maximum death penalty in Indonesia.
Heather Lois Mack was reportedly pregnant when arrested with her boyfriend, US citizen Tommy Schaeffer, 22, the day after the body of Sheila Von Wiese, 62, was found on 13 August.
She gave birth at the Wings Amerta international-standard hospital in Bali last month and returned with the newborn to the Kerobokan Prison in Denpasar where she has been detained without bail since her arrest in August.
The Denpasar District Court adjourned the trial that was to begin after the birth of the child last month.
The nine day-old baby was admitted to the Kerobokan prison clinic suffering jaundice and was taken to the Sanglah Hospital hospital for further treatment.
Tommy Schaeffer, 22, has confessed to killing Sheila Von Wiese Mack saying that Sheila Von Wiese Mack had insulted him in a racial slur and had called her daughter a prostitute.
He said that he was angry after Sheila Von Wiese Mack had threatened to kill his unborn baby and had attempted to strangled him.
The Southeast Asian Times

Land granted to Australian Aborigines under the Land Rights Act is up for grabbs by developers.
Aboriginal Land Rights activist, Dr William B Day urges former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. Ian Viner, AO QC to act page here

Indonesia ready for big 'brother' role in ASEAN
By Prashanth Parameswaran page here


Timor-Leste justice threatened by firing of foreign judges
By Susan Marx page here

Thousands of Northern Australia's indigenous rock art sites are under threat from buffalo, fire and feral animals. Tim Lee reports page here

The Yogyakarta Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) want the murder of Yogyakarta journalist in 1996 remembered in proposed Anti-Violence against Journalists here

Can educators from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world help keep young people out of jail in outback Australia? ..Reporter Chris Ray here

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Copy of letter dated 29 May 2012 from Vietnam Womens Union to International Olympic here


What they're saying open page here


A cartoon goes inside the tour bus in Manila on the day that ended with the slaying of eight Hong Kong tourists ...Open page here


Bombed by the Americans for Christmas in 1972, Ha Noi Bach Mai hospital is still a war zone...Christina Pas reports...Open page here

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Singapore 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