The Southeast Asian Times
NEWS FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
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established 2000
Monday 26 September 2016 
GATHERINGS:
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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Two Americans and a British national held in Bangkok jail for passport forgery
Americal national, James Douglas Eger, 66, one of the three foreigners, arrested for alleged passport forgery in Phra Khanong district of Bangkok on Friday
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 26: Two Americans and a British national are in police custody in Bangkok following a raid on their premises in Phra Khanong district of Bangkok on Friday, reports the Bangkok Post.
The Phra Khanong Districl Court approved a police request to detain the three men for 12 days while an investigation into their involvement in passport forgery, drug trafficking and the illegal use of guns is conducted.
Police are also investigating the identity of a dismembered body wrapped in plastic found locked in the freezer on the premises raided in Bangkok.
Aaron Thomas Gabel, 33, and James Douglas Eger, 66, both American nationals, and Peter Andrew Colter, 56, a British national are charged with the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, forging official documents and concealing a corpse.
The three men are also charged with resisting arrest and for drawing a gun and shooting at a police officer during the raid.
All theee men have denied any knowledge of the dismembered body in the freezer.
A tourist police officer was injured during the raid when one of the suspects reached inside a safe for a 9mm gun and fired three shots.
The officer but was not seriously injured and is recovering in the Police General Hospital.
A Myanmar housekeeper and her husband, who were reportedly detained with the three men, have not been charged with any crimes and are being treated as witnesses.
Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakphan, commander of the Tourist Police Division, said the suspects were believed to be members of a major fake passport gang, with the Briton believed to be the gang leader.
"They had been in Thailand for about eight years and travelled in and out of the country frequently, using both real and fake passports", he said.
He said that police are tracing the suspects' mobile phone use.
The Southeast Asian Times


Heavy rain in Jakarta brings down footbridge, kills three
The collapsed South Jakarta Pasar Minggu bridge yesterday
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 25: A footbridge collapsed in heavy rain and high winds in South Jakarta killing three and injuring seven yesterday, reports the Jakarta Post.
The Pasar Minggu bridge that connects the train station with the Pasar Minggu traditional market and that hangs over Jalan Pasar Minggu also damaged passing vehicles on collapse.
Witnesses said that those killed and injured were on the footbridge when it collapsed in heavy rain and high winds.
Jakarta traffic police have reportedly halted traffic on Jalan Pasar Minggu.
Jakarta Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) reports that the injured were taken to Siaga Hospital in Pasar Minggu.
The Southeast Asian Times


Call for UN to investigate 1965 massacre of Communists in Indonesia
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 24: The Murder Victims’ Research Foundation
(YPKP 65), who represents the survivors of the 1965 killings of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters, has called on the United Nations to investigate the killings, reports the Jakarta Post.
The 1965 Murder Victims’ Research Foundation (YPKP 65), chairman, Bedjo Untung said that it was not the foundations intention to shame
Indonesia.
"On the contrary, we want to protect the image of the country by having it honestly face its own dark history and resolve it,” he said.
The call for a United Nations investigations into the massacre of communists in 1965 follows the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) plan to take its verdict that found Indonesia guilty of Crimes Against Humanity to the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) and to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in the Hague found in July that Indonesia is guilty of Crimes Against Humanity under the 1948 International Genocide Convention for the 1965 killings of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members.
Presiding judge Zakeria Yacoob said that "the facts brought before the tribunal by the prosecution include acts that fall within those enumerated in the Genocide Convention,"
Murder Victims Research Foundation (YPKP 65) who began compiling evidence in 2000 of the killing of communists in Indonesia reportedly found 122 mass graves in 12 provinces across Java and Sumatra in July, with the highest number of 50 graves in Central Java, said then that the number of mass graves are expected to increase.
The Southeast Asian Times


British labour rights activist sent to jail for exposing work conditions in Thailand
British labour rights activist Andy Hall at the Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 23: The Bangkok South Criminal Court has found British labour rights activist guilty of defamation under the Computer Crimes Act over his exposure of work conditions in a Thai fruit canning factory, reports the Bangkok Post.
Labour rights activist Andy Hall was found guilty of defamation for allegations made in his 2013 report on poor work conditions, low wages and child labour at a Thai Natural Fruit canning factory.
The British activist said that he stands by his research findings and has accused the Natural Fruit company of detracting from the report's damning findings.
The Natural Fruit canning company is a major supplier to the European market
The court sentenced the human right activist to four years in prison and imposed a 200,000-baht fine.
The jail term was reduced to three years and the fine cut to 50,000 baht because he cooperated in the proceedings.
"The verdict shows people are not free or at liberty to do this kind of research," he said.
Natural Fruit company president, Virat Piyapornpaiboon, denied the allegations and has launched a civil case against the activist seeking US$10 million in damages.
The company president accused the British activist of violating his rights saying that "no foreigner should think they have power above Thai sovereignty."
The report titled, "Cheap Has a High Price", that contains allegations of mistreatment of the migrant labour , was published by the Finnish civil rights group, Finnwatch.
Executive director of Finnwatch, Sonja Vartiala, says that Finnwatch should have been sued not Andy Hall if Natural Fruit disagreed with the report.
"We are shocked by the verdict," she said.
"Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights", she said.
Andy Hall, from Lincolnshire in England, said he will appeal the court decision.
The Southeast Asian Times.

Call for end of gift giving to Indonesian state officials
From News Reports:

Jakarta, September 22: The Indonesia Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has called for gratuities to be abolished, saying that there is a thin line between a gratuity and a bribe under the Corruption Law, reports the Jakarta Post.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman, Saut Situmorang, said that Indonesian culture upheld the principle of showing appreciation with gifts.
"But the public must refrain from giving gifts such as money to public officials," he said.
He said that there is a thin line between a gratuity and a bribe under the Corruption Law and that both are subject to punishment under the law.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman defined a gratuity as money or items accepted by state officials in the course of their duties.
He said that gratuity becomes a bribe if not reported to the Commission within 30 days.
A bribe is a sum of money or an item given to and accepted by a government official by agreement.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) cited the arrest of Regional Representatives Council (DPD) chairman Irman Gusman as an example of the long-standing culture of gift giving to state officials.
Regional Representatives Council (DPD) chairman Irman Gusman is charged with accepting gratuities from sugar importing company CV Semesta Berjaya.
The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was established in 2003 with the swearing in of five commissioners by President Megawatti on 29 December 2003 - five years after Indonesia said that it had had enough of corruption and President Soeharto.
The People’s Consultative Assembly said in 1998, the same year that Soeharto resigned, that they wanted " a clean state administration free from corruption, collusion and nepotism".
Indonesia established - anti-corruption courts in 33 provinces in 2011 each with six judges with two of the judges attached to the higher court. The corruption courts reportedly hold trial hearings with their secretariats at existing district courts.
The Southeast Asian Times

Cambodian PM warns opposition not to go ahead with protests
Prime Minister Hun Sen at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh yesterday where he threatened to eliminate opponents if they held mass demonstrations
From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, September 21: Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) party not to continue with their planned protest, threatening to “eliminate” his political opponents should they press ahead with the planned mass demonstrations, reports Phnom Penh Post.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) reportedly plans nationwide demonstrations to protest "against a wave of prosecutions and arrest of its members and senior leadership that it sees as politically motivated".
Prime Minister Hun Sen said that his threat to “eliminate” his political opponents should they press ahead with mass demonstrations was serious.
"Those who destroy security and public order will be "eliminated"," he said.
He said that opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had forsaken its chance to resolve problems in the National Assembly because they have boycotted the parliament.
“Now we do not negotiate,” he said.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted parliament in September 2013 following the July general elections which saw the fourth consecutive victory of the Cambodian People's Party gain 68 seats of the National Assembly and the opposition occupying the remaining 55 seats.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) claimed that up to 1.25 million Cambodians who were eligible to vote were not on the electoral role and accused the ruling party of poll fraud.
Although the National Election Committee denied the irregularities, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted the parliament.
In November the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Sam Rainsy was expelled from the National Assembly in a unilateral move by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
His expulsion followed the issue of an arrest warrant by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for a seven-year-old defamation conviction.
The opposition party president had allegedly questioned the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) commitment to democracy in disussions with supporters in Tokyo seven years previously.
Opposition party president, Sam Rainsy, reportedly called for a peaceful transfer of power, urging the international community to pressure Hun Sen to move towards a peaceful exit from office and accused the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) party of widespread election fraud.
In November about 20,000 Cambodian opposition party, Cambodia National Rescue Party, Sam Rainsy supporters called on the Japanese, French, and Australian ambassadors in Phnom Penh to support an independent investigation into alleged election irregulaties.
The Southeast Asian Times


Philippine terrorists release Norwegian and Indonesian hostages
Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad, far right, and Indonesians, Lorence Koten, Toe Doros Kofong, and Emmanuel Arakla , center, after their release by the Abu Sayyaf on Sunday that was secured by Moro National Liberation Front ((MILF) Chairman Nur Misuari, left.
From News Reports:
Manila, September 19: Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf released a Norwegian hotel manager and three Indonesian fishermen in Sulu province after holding them hostage for a year, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) chairman, Nur Misuari secured the release of Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, on Sunday after a ransom of $638,000 was paid to the Aby Sayyaf.
The release follows the signing of a ceasefire agreement by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) that represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA) in Oslo in August.
Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, was handed over to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Jesus Dureza, in Davao City in the Southern Philippines while Indonesians, Lorence Koten, 34, Toe Doros Kofong, 42, and Emmanuel Araklan, 40, who were reportedly abducted from Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia in July last year were handed over to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega in Zamboanga City.
Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was the manager of the Oceanview resort on Samal Island, a tourist resort in the southern Philippines together with Canadians, John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50, and a Filipino woman identified as Tess were forced at gunpoint to leave the resort island with the Abu Sayyaf in a speedboat in September last year.
John Ridsdel was reportedly the president of mining company TVI Minerals Processing based in the Philippines.
The two Canadians, John Ridsdel and Robert Hall were beheaded by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf after a ransom demand of 300 million pesos ($6.5 million) was not met.
Philippines Army (PA) of the Armed Forces of the Phillipines (AFP), Captain Alberto Cailo Caber said the that there were about 30 foreign tourists at the Oceanview resort when the gunmen "stormed" the Island.
"Their captives were not taken at random,” he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Indonesians with Singapore banks accounts urged to
declare assets
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 19: Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung called on Indonesians who have money in Singapore banks to participate in the tax amnesty program, reports the Jakarta Post.
Cabinet secretary Pramono Anung said that participation in the program would not be considered "tax evasion."
He said that Indonesians with assets in Singapore "should not be afraid to declare or repatraite their wealth"
"Indonesians who participate in the tax amnesty program will be protected from prosecution under Indonesian tax laws.
Indonesian finance minister, Sri Mulyani, said that there are four Singapore banks in which Indonesian "high-wealth individuals" have deposited their money.
She said that the Singapore banks were asked to cooperate in Indonesia's tax amnesty program.
Singapore finance minister, Heng Swee Keat, reportedly assured Indonesia prime minister, Joko Widodo, that Singapore would make no attempt to hinder the tax amnesty program.
Indonesian business tycoon Sofjan Wanandi applied for tax amnesty for undeclared assets earlier this month reportedly to set an example for others to "follow suit."
Sofjan Wanandi, who is also economic advisor to Vice President Jusuf Kalla who is the prime initiator of the Tax Amnesty Law reportedly applied for amnesty on his personal wealth only, saying that unreported assets of his business group and children would be declared separately.
He has not applied for tax amnesty for his company the Santini Group that deals in automotive parts, infrastructure, natural resources, property development and services, saying that he was declaring unreported private assets for investment in Indonesia.
The Southeast Asian Times
 
Indonesian minister vows to settle human rights violations
The Wiranto appointment as Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs minister Minister in July was reportedly seen as a step to halt further investigations into the massacre of communists and their supporters in 2065
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 17: Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs minister Wiranto has vowed to settle historic human rights violation cases including the massacre of communists in 1965, despite being indicted by UN prosecutors for crimes against humanity, reports the Jakarta Post.
The minister who was indicted in 2003 by UN prosecutors for crimes against humanity in military-led atrocities in Timor-Leste in 1999, vowed to settle major human rights violations including the 1965 communist killings, the 1989 Talangsari massare in Central Lampung, the 2001 and 2003 Wamena and Wasior killings in Papua, kidnappings and unresolved killings in the 1980s and the May 1998 riots and the disappereance of activists.
The minister gave an assurance that he would keep working to resolve the pending human rights cases.
"I will find the solutions even though people doubt that I will do so," he said.
The minister said that the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs ministry wants to settle the historic abuses in a comprehensive and transparent manner.
He said that the ministry wanted the solutions to be fair and nondiscriminatory for all parties concerned, saying that the ministry did not want "the solution to benefit certain groups and resulting in injustice for others."
"We don't want the settlement of historic human rights abuses to create bad implications for the nation in the future," Wiranto said.
Wiranto was appointed Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs minister in July following the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in the Hague finding that the US, the UK and Australia were directly involved with the 1965 killings of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters.
The verdict was submitted to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), and to the then Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan.
International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in the Hague presiding judge Zakeria Yacoob said that "the facts brought before the tribunal by the prosecution include acts that fall within those enumerated in the Genocide Convention."
In November 2015 Judges of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in The Hague concluded that the Indonesian government was responsible for the 1965-1966 killings of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters but stopped short of a finding of genocide.
The judges said then that the killings under president Suharto of up to two million Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters had "the political objective of removing the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and its sympathizers from the Indonesian political scene".
The massacre of Communists reportedly proved essential to the rise and 30-year-rule of the Soeharto “New Order” government.
In July 2012 the National Human Rights Commission, or Komnas HAM lodged a report with the Indonesia Attorney General’s Office saying that the 1965 massacre of Communists and their supporters was a gross violation of human rights.
The Human Rights Commissioner had also recommended the establishment of a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai PM ends military court trials for civilians
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 16: Thai Prime Minister, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha ended military court trials for security offences, including offences against the lese majeste law that protects the Thai monarchy from defamatory imputation, reports the Bangkok Post.
Security offences including the lese majeste law, laws on weaponry, sedition, and violation of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) orders will be heard in a criminal court from Monday.
The end of military trials for civilians that was made under National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order No.55/2016 does not apply to existing cases but to offences committed after Monday.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) centre, Yaowalak Anuphan, said that civilians should not have been tried in military courts in the first place.
She said the prime minister's order is not retroactive and does not apply to the about 500 legal cases currently being considered by the military court.
"We demand that all pending cases be transferred to judicial courts," she said.
About 1000 cases have been heard in the military courts including offences against the lese majest law since the declaration of martial law in 2014.
Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was officially appointed commander of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej following the declaration of Martial law under the 1914 Martial Law Act at Bangkok military headquarters in May 2014.
The military then urged about 20 lese majeste suspects to report to military headquarters in Bangkok in the month following the declaration of Martial Law.
The suspects had allegedly violated article 112 of the Thai criminal Lese-Majeste law that is designed to ensure that King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, and members of the royal family are not defamed.
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman, Col Winthai Suvaree said then that those who did not present themselves to the military would be defying National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) orders.
"Their cases would be prosecuted in military courts instead of the criminal court" he said.
The Bangkok Post reported in February 2015 that the National Legislative Assembly was amending the Military Court Act to scale down the military authority in the trial of civilians in the Military court.
The Southeast Asian Times

Former chairman of Vietnam Construction Bank jailed for robbing bank of $404million
Pham Cong Danh, former chairman of the Vietnam Construction Bank, was found guilty of intentional wrongdoings and violations of bank lending rules by the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court
From News Reports:
HCMCity, September 15: The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court has found the former chairman of the Vietnam Construction Bank guilty of "intentional wrongdoings and violations of lending rules", reports Thanh Nien.
Former chairman of the Construction Bank, Pham Cong Danh, was found guilty of illegally withdrawing more than 9 trillion dong ($404 million) reportedly the largest such loss recorded in Vietnam's banking sector.
Pham Cong Danh, who stood trial with 35 other defendants including the bank's executives, was sentenced to 22 years in jail.
He was charged in 2104 with 35 others including Vietnam Construction Bank CEO, Mai Huu Khuong, and senior executives of 14 private companies with deliberately violating economic regulations causing serious consequences and with violating bank lending regulations.
Pham Cong Danh who had control of more than 84 percent of shares in Vietnam Construction Bank in 2012 colluded with other executives in faking documents to take money from its budget, supposedly for funding system upgrade and new office projects.
He also founded a dozen subsidiaries in the name of Thien Thanh Group to take out loans from the bank, using assets that had previously been collateral for loans at other banks, the value of which was inflated.
Preliminary investigations found that Pham Cong Danh and others had unlawfully used a savings account in the name of a local company as collateral for 39 loans, used for personal gains.
Pham Cong Danh, who was also chairman of Ho Chi Minh City-based Thien Thanh Group, was dismissed from his position prior to his arrest.
The Southeast Asian Times


Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) free to prosecute corporations

From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 14: Indonesia's Supreme Court in Jakarta issued a regulation that would protect the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) from corporations seeking legal 'backlash' following prosecution, reports the Jakarta Post.
The Supreme Court regulation will address a legal discrepancy between the law and the Criminal Code (KUHP) that would allow a corporation to file a lawsuit against a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) decision.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) La Ode Muhammad Syarief said that Law No.20/2001 on Corruption as it stands recognises the individual in criminal prosecution but not the corporation.
He said that the new regulation that was issued by the Supreme Court would also guide judges across the country in how to handle cases related to corruption committed by corporations.
"The regulation would also guide the KPK in the seizure of assets belonging to corporations after a conviction had been attained." he said.
The Commissioner said that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has been reluctant to charge corporations such as the powerful business conglomerate the Lippo Group, giant developers PT Sentul City, Agung Sedayu Group and Agung Podomoro Land Corporation and including Indonesia's third-largest lender, Bank Central Asia (BCA) with corruption due to possible "legal backlash".
"The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has prosecuted corporate officials but not corporations," he said.
The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was established in 2003 with the swearing in of five commissioners by President Megawatti on 29 December 2003 - five years after Indonesia said that it had had enough of corruption and President Soeharto.
The People’s Consultative Assembly said in 1998, the same year that Soeharto resigned, that they wanted " a clean state administration free from corruption, collusion and nepotism".
Indonesia established - anti-corruption courts in 33 provinces in 2011 each with six judges with two of the judges attached to the higher court. The corruption courts reportedly hold trial hearings with their secretariats at existing district courts.
The Southeast Asian Times

Petition launched to bury Marcos in heroes cemetery
Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos supporters at the Supreme Court on Wednesday where a hearing in opposition to the burial of the former president at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani national heroes cemetery is in progress
From News Reports:
Manila, Septermber 13: A petition to collect a million signatures to support the move to bury former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng Mga Bayani national heroes cemetery was launched at Ilocos Norte, home of the former president, last week.
The petition was initiated at the Supreme Court on the second hearing in opposition to the burial of the former president at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani national heroes cemetery.
“We do not ask you to change what you know of him, or how you remember him, or seek praise for his deeds. Good or evil, good and evil, how you judge former President Ferdinand Marcos, is your personal belief,” states the petition.
The petition also states that “We cannot deny that he was once a president of the Republic of the Philippines, a former secretary of defense, and a soldier, entitling him, by decree, pursuant to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Regulation No. G161-137, to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
The Ilocos Norte government has called on newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte to declare September 11 national holiday in honour of the former birthday of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
President Rodrigo Duterte gave permission to bury the late former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng Mga Bayani national heroes cemetery last month saying that the regulation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) allowed the burial of former soldiers and Presidents at Libingan ng Mga Bayani national heroes cemetery.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines does not distinguish if the president is good or bad,” he said.
In 1995 the Philippine government and representatives of more than 1,000 Filipinos - or their descendants - arrested, tortured and executed during the 13 years from 1972 in which Ferdinand Marcos ruled by decree and martial law won US$2.7-billion in exemplary damages against the former president’s estate at a hearing in the United States federal court, Hawaii.
The Federal Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of grave human-rights violations.
A "people power" revolt ousted Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986, forcing him and his family to flee to Hawaii, where he died in exile in 1989.
His body was returned to the Philippines in 1993 and is preserved in a refrigerated crypt at his Batac hometown in Ilocos Norte.
The Southeast Asian Times.

Indonesia calls for revision of the law for death-row Filipino
Filipino, Mary Jane Veloso at the Yogyakarta correctional prison in November 2015
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 12: The Jakarta Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) has called for a revision of the law for death-row prisoner Filipino, Mary Jane Veloso, after the Philippines declared her a victim of human trafficking, reports the Jakarta Post.
Community Legal Aid Institute director, Ricky Gunawan, called on the Attorney General to apply a new legal process to assert the Filipino's victim status.
"The Philippine ruling has yet to be applied in Indonesia", he said.
Mary Jane Veloso, 31, was sentenced to death in October 2010 for attempting to traffic heroin into Indonesia from Malaysia.
She was arrested at Adisucipto International Airport in Java on April 2010 with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.
Mary Jane Veloso says that she was tricked into carrying the luggage containing the drugs.
She was set to be executed on the Indonesian prison island of Nusakambangan with Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in April 2015 but was given a stay of execution following intervention by the then Philippine President Aquino.
Philippine president Benigno Aquino appealed for "humanitarian consideration" on her behalf.
Darwin lawyer, Felicity Gerry QC said that legal issues had not been addressed properly by the Indonesian courts.
She said that the evidence in Mary Jane's case appears to be credible that she was not acting voluntarily, she was acting on behalf of other people who were exploiting her.
"As a victim of human trafficking under Indonesian law, there is mandatory protection. Indonesia actually has very progressive law to protect victims of human trafficking."
Indonesia Community Legal Aid Institute director, Ricky Gunawan, says that he doubts that the Attorney General's Office (AGO) will set in motion a new legal process to accommodate the judgment from the Philippines.
"The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has accepted the death-penalty ruling of the Supreme Court," he said.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), that includes all Muslim organisations in Indonesia reportedly supports the execution of prisoners convicted of drug trafficking offences.
Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) deputy chairman Ma’ruf Amin said in March 2015 that the council had issued an edict to uphold the death sentence for serious crimes including drug trafficking.
The Indonesian Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) called on the government in October last year to abolish the death penalty and to revisit all cases to make sure that those facing the death penalty had been given a fair trial.
The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) researcher and human rights lawyer, Wahyudi Djafar says 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 Southeast Asian Times



High profile Communist Party official to be expelled

Tranh Xuân Thanh, 50, Communist Party member since 2003, is to be be expelled
From News Reports
Hanoi, September 11: The Central Inspection Commission (CIC) of the Communist Party of Vietnam has recommended that a high profle Communist Party official be expelled from the Communist Party of Viet Nam following a 100-percent approval vote for “serious violations causing public discontent and bringing the Party and the Government into disrepute,” reports the Vietnam News Service.
The Central Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam, responsible for the fight against corruption,
recommended that Tr?nh Xuân Thanh, 50, the former vice chairman of the southern province of Hau Giang who has been a member of the Communist Party since 2003, be expelled forthwith.
Tr?nh Xuan Thanh became the People’s Committee vice chairman in the Mekong Delta Hau Giang Province in May 2015.
He worked in leadership positions at the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and as chairman of the PetroVietnam Construction
Corporation (PVC).
The commission recommended that its Board of Secretaries expel Tr?nh Xuân Thanh from the Communist Party following an investigation conducted in July that found losses of more than VNÐ3.2 trillion (US$142 million) during his tenure at the PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC) from 2007 to 2013
The commission also found that his rapid rise in the trade ministry and the Hau Giang People’s Committee were questionable.
The National Assembly stripped Tr?nh Xuan Thanh of his deputy status after he had won a seat in the 14th National Assembly elections in the general election.
The Southeast Asian Times

Enviroment inspectors taken hostage at Sumatra palm oil plantation
From News Report:
Jakarta, September 10: About seven environment officials investigating forest fires on Sumatra island were taken hostage and received death threats by a mob allegedly employed by a palm oil plantation, reports the Agence France Press.
Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said investigators are sent to Riau province every year to investigate forest fires that burn during the dry season.
"We strongly suspect that the investigators were held by the Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) palm oil company " he said.
He said the investigators were about to leave the palm oil company after an inspection when they were stopped by more than 100 men
who demanded that they delete pictures of the fires that they had taken.
The seven environment officials were taken hostage and held for almost 12 hours before local police and environment officers intervened.
The environment Minister said that his officers were intimidated by the men who threatened to beat them, kill them and
dump their bodies in a nearby river.
The environment minister says that the men appeared to be farmers but that he suspects that they were employed by the plantation to imtimidate his officers.
Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar condemned the hostage-takers, saying that the ministry would investigate the palm oil company.
He says that pictures taken by a drone that fires the Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) palm oil company were started illegally.
The Southeast Asian Times
 
Philippine President calls on ASEAN for Code of Conduct in South China Sea
Premier of China Li Keaiang and Preseident of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte at the Asean Summit held at National Convention Center in Vientiane, Laos Wednesday and Thursday
From News Reports:
Vientiane, September 9: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for a framework for a Code of Conduct (COC) for claimnants in the South China Sea dispute with China in order to settle territorial disputes peacefully at the ASEAN summit that ended in Laos yesterday, reports the Philippine Star.
Philippine Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that China, Singapore and the Philippines called for approval of the introduction of a framework for a Code of Conduct to be initiated.
"There is now positive direction in our relations," he said.
He said that a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea would be implemented after the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) has been authorised by ASEAN.
The proposal to adopt a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea that was first mooted by the Philippines in 1994 in order to constrain China from the control of islands and reefs near the Philipines in the Spratley archipelago was not adopted.
The proposal followed the 1992 ASEAN declaration on the South China Sea that was a response to the ASEAN inability to reach consensus on a unified South China Sea policy over China's claim of non negotiable sovereignity over most of the South China Sea.|
The 1992 ASEAN declaration on the South China Sea ASEAN urged all parties concerned to apply the principles contained in the Treaty of Amity and cooperation in Southeast Asia for the establishment of a Code of Conduct (COC) over the South China Sea
The purposes and principles of the Treaty of Amity are in accordance with the United Nations Charter that include the committment to resolve all disputes and conflicts peacefully.
The call for a Code of Conduct (COC) in order to effect a peaceful settlement in the dispute between Vietnam, Malaysia Brunei and the Philippines with China in the South China Sea follows the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague verdict in July that ruled against the China claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea
President Xi Jinping of China said following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruling that China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea "shall under no circumstances be affected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague awards."
The South East Asian Times


Buddhist temple in north Sumatra ordered to remove Buddha statue

From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 8: The Tanjungbalai municipal administration in North Sumatra has ordered the Tri Ratna Temple Foundation board to take down the 6 meter tall Buddha statue from atop the temple, reports the Jakarta Post.
Tanjungbalai Mayor M. Syahrial says the order to remove the Buddha statue follows a meeting between the local consultative forum and religious and community leaders last week.
“All parties agreed to the removal of the Buddha statue including the Tri Ratna Temple Foundation," he said.
The mayor claims that Tanjungbalai’s Muslim residents had objected to the presence of the statue since it was placed atop the temple six years ago.
He said that the Tanjungbalai municipal administration had decreed the removal of the statue in 2010 but the decree was not enacted.
The mayor urged the Tri Ratna Temple Foundation board to take down the Buddha statue from the temple saying that he would not expect further disturbance in the city once the statue had been removed.
Buddhist and Chinese temples were plundered and set ablaze in riots in Tanjungbalai in August when a 41-year-old woman of Chinese descent reprimanded the administrator of the Al Maksum Mosque, demanding that the mosque lower the volume of the microphone.
A Buddhist temple and three Chinese temples on Jl. Pantai Amor and a Buddhist and Chinese temple on Jl. Imam Bonjol.were reportedly set ablaze with rioters destroying prayer equipment, Buddha statues, tables, chairs, lamps, and several vehicles including motorbikes.
Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rina Sari Ginting said that the mob attempted to set the Juanda Buddhist temple ablaze but police managed to prevent them.
He said that the mob began to pelt the house of worship with projectiles, damaging it.
"This was the start of the anarchic acts,” he said.
The Southeast Asian Times.
 


Chris Ray investigates the impact of poisoned water on residents and fishing in Williamtown in the southern Australian state of New South Wales .....open page here


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

 

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


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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 .........open page here


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

 

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

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




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

 


Copy of letter dated 29 May 2012 from Vietnam Womens Union to International Olympic Committee...open 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
Industry
established
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
flights

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


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