The Southeast Asian Times
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established 2000
Friday, 30 January 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

US accused of interference in Thai internal affairs
The US charge d'affaires Patrick Murphy was summoned by Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwi on Wednesday to explain comments deemed 'US interference in Thai internal affairs' that were made by a senior American official at the Chulalongkorn University on Monday
From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 30: The Thai Foreign ministry has summoned US charge d'affaires, Patrick Murphy, over comments deemed "US interference in Thai internal affairs" allegedly made by a senior US official in Bangkok on Monday, reports the Bangkok Post.
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Russel, reportedly called for an end to martial law and said that the impeachment of a former prime minister was politically motivated during a student address at the Chulalongkorn University on Monday.
Thai Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and commander of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). said that he will not let any country interfere in Thailands' affairs.
He reportedly told US charge d'affaires, Patrick Murphy, that comments made by US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, at the Chulalongkorn university were "tantamount to interference in Thailand's internal affairs".
The US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel reportedly said; "When an elected leader is deposed, impeached by the authorities that implemented the coup, and then targeted with criminal charges while basic democratic processes and institutions are interrupted, the international community is left with the impression that these steps could be politically driven,"
The US Assistant Secretary of State was allegedly referring to former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who was ousted from government in May following the declaration of Martial Law by General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The National Assembly voted to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last week making her the first Prime Minister in Thai political history to be impeached and follows the decision by the Office of Auditor General (OAG) to press criminal charges against the former prime minister over the alleged corrupt rice pledging programme.
The Southeast Asian Times

Political elites urged to stop snatching Papua's provincial legislative council seats
From News Reports:
Jayapura, January 29: West Papuan 'political elites' are urged to stop 'snatching' provincial legislative council seats that are intended for indigenous Papuans under the Special Autonomy Act, reports the West Papua Daily.
Barisan Merah Putih Papua chairman, Ramses Ohee, from Waena in the Heram district of Jayapura, said that the 'poliical elites' had their share of seats.
"The provincial legislative seats belong to indigenous Papuans" he said.
He said that indigenous leaders in five indigenous provinces in Papua had asked him to select the councilors for the provincial legislative seats from the indigenous provinces direct.
Commission I of the Papua Legislative Council, Chairman of Elvis Tabuni said that the role of Commission I is to recruit, select and appoint 14 councilors to represent the indigenous Papuans indirect as regulated by the Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21/2001.
The Indonesian House of Representatives passed the new Regional Elections Bill (RUU Pilkada) in September officially declaring that regional leaders including those in Papua will be elected indirectly by regional legislative councils (DPRD), taking away the public right to direct vote for mayors, district heads and governors.
Indonesia's Security Minister, Djoko Suyanto said in October 2011 that West Papua will remain part of Indonesia with special autonomy its only option for those who want independence.
“Any party proclaiming a new state, a new cabinet, a new president, a new government must be dealt with according to the law,” he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

US calls for lifting of Martial Law in Thailand
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn at the Foreign Ministry in Bangkok on Monday
From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 28: US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Russel, called on Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn in Bangkok on Monday to lift martial law and to continue national reform , reports the Bangkok Post.
The US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs reportedly said in a speech on the US role in Asia and the Pacific in 2015 at the Chulalongkorn university that the United States did not take sides in Thai politics.
"We believe it is for the Thai people to determine the legitimacy of the political and legal processes" he said.
He said that the US was particularly concerned that the "political process doesn't seem to represent all elements in Thai society".
The US call for the lifting of martial law follows the US Defence Department cancellation of military exercises with Thailand following the declaration of Martial Law in May by military commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha who under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) seized power from the Yingluch Shinawatra government.
The US announcement of the cancellation of military exercises followed the dissolution of the Thai senate that had effectively given all parliamentary authority to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) headed by military commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Military commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha dismissed calls to lift martial law in October, saying that martial law would continue until national reform including the election of the prime minister are in place.
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha formally submitted the first of the proposed reforms that includes the proposal for the direct election of the Prime Minister in October.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) chairman Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, gave an assurance in June of support for reforms to be administered by the Thai military, saying that Asean would not intervene in the internal affairs of Thailand.
The Southeast Asian Times

Malay residents protest development of luxury condominiums
Protesters against the development of luxury condominiums in Taman Keramat in Selangor claim that the condominiums would not benefit Malays, saying that most Malays could not afford to purchase a condominium
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 27: Datum Jelatik Action Committee (BBDJ) and Malay rights group Perkasa tore down the fencing surrounding almost 700 luxury condominuims under construction in Taman Keramat in Selangor, claiming that the development of the Datum Jelatek luxury condominiums infringed on the rights of Malays, reports the Star.
Police dispersed the about 100 Taman Keramat residents who entered the construction site after tearing down the fencing in protest of the development.
The Taman Keramat residents reportedly oppose the condominium development, claiming that it would transform the predominately Malay area into a Chinese district, saying that "only the Chinese can afford to purchase the Datum Jelatek luxury condominiums".
Malay rights group Perkasa, action committee chairman, Selleh Samad, warned of 'bloodshed' if the state government allowed the developers, Datum Corp International (DCI), to proceed with the construction of the condiminiums in the Taman Keramat area.
"The Taman Kermat area is 100 percent Malay" he said.
He said that the area had always been predominantly Malay and that the construction of the luxury condominiums had forced the local Bumiputra or Malays out.
He said that the residents did not want 'bangsa asing or foreign races' encroaching on their land.
"We are not ready to accept other races in our community", he said.
The Datum Jelatik Action Committee (BBDJ) and Malay rights group Perkasa held a peaceful protest in November to pressure the Selangor state secretariat in Shah Alam to stop the construction of the luxury condiminiums
The Southeast Asian Times

Singapore blogger found guilty of undermining public confidence in judiciary
From News Reports:
Singapore, January 26: Blogger, Alex Au, 61, charged with slandering the judiciary in an online article on 5 October 2013 was found guilty of contempt of court by the Singappore High Court last week.
Alex Au, said in the article that the judiciary had manipulated the hearing dates, set to challenge the constitution on the criminalisation of sex between men, in order to influence the outcome.
He said that the manipulation of the hearing dates had succeeded in upholding the ban on sex between men in Singapores Federal Court in October.

Justice Belinda Ang said in her judgement that she was satisfied that the Attorney-General had established beyond reasonable doubt that the article "poses or would pose" a real
Singapore blogger, Alex Au, 61, found guilty of contempt of court is yet to receive a sentence. Contempt of court carries a possible jail sentence, a fine or both. There is no maximum penalty specified under Singapore law
risk in undermining public confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore.
She said that the article had inferred that the Supreme Court had deliberately delayed the determination of a case so that the outcome of the first case would likely have an influence on the outcome of the second case.
"The article had inferred that two senior justices had acted in a way that was contrary to the fundamental principles of judicial independence", she said.
Justice Belinda Ang ruled that a second article in which Alex Au had said that "my confidence in the Singapore judiciary is as limp as a flag on a windless day", did not contravene the law.
Alex Au, is reportedly a long time critic of Singapore's People's Action Party (PAP) and a leading "gay-rights" activists.
He has called for the repeal of Section 377A of the penal code that criminalises sex between men.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai National Assembly votes to impeach former PM Yingluck Shinawatra
The impeachment of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday excludes her from active politics for five years
From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 25: The National Assembly voted to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday, making her the first Prime Minister in Thai political history to be impeached, reports the Bangkok Post.
The 220 member National Assembly voted 190 to 18 with eight absentions and three invalid ballots to impeach the former prime mininster who is the sister of former prime minister of Thailand , Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin Shinawatra was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison by the supreme court in 2008 for abuse of authority during his term as prime minister. He fled Thailand before the court handed down the verdict.
The impeachment vote follows the decision by the Office of Auditor General (OAG) to press criminal charges against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra over the alleged corrupt rice pledging programme.
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was summoned to appear before the Legislative Assembly early this month in defence of the pending impeachment motion over allegations of corruption in the government rice programme.
The former prime minister denied all charges made against her by the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) who voted unanimously in May following the declaration of martial law that there was sufficient evidence to indict the ousted prime minister on charges of dereliction of duty in the national rice pledging programme.
The former prime minister told the Legislative Assembly earlier this month that an impeachment motion over allegations of corruption in the government rice programme was 'redundant'.
She said that she was removed from office and 'holds no position to be impeached from'.
The Southeast Asian Times

US Nationals in Bali court to hear errors in their indictment for murder
US nationals, Heather Mack, 19, and Tommy Schaeffer, 22, at Bali court on Wednesday to hear statement of erorrs found in the prosecution indictment
From News Reports:
Jakarta January 24: Two US nationals arrested in Bali on 14 August for the murder of Sheila Von Wiese Mack, 62, at a Bali five star hotel, and charged with premediated murder, attended the Denpasar District Court on Wednesday to hear a statement of indictment errors.
UN nationals, Heather Mack, 19, daughter of the murdered Chicago woman, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaeffer, 22, were arrested the day after the bloodied body of Sheila Von Wiese Mack was found "stuffed" in a suitcase in a taxi at the entrance of the St. Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua where the three were registered guests.
Denpasar Police chief, Djoko Heru Utomo, said in the days after the arrest of the US nationals in Bali that both suspects had admitted to their involvement in the death of Sheila Von Wiese Mack during questioning.
Iswahyudi, lawyer for Tommy Schaeffer, said at the hearing on Wednesday that the indictment was unclear and contained a factual error
He said that the indictment stated that Tommy Schaeffer, who was staying in room 616 of the St. Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua, went to room 616 on the day of the murder.
The lawyer says that the indictment should have stated that Tommy Schaeffer went to room 317 where Heather Mack and her mother, Sheila Von Wiese Mack were staying and where the murder allegedly took place.
“How could Tommy Schaefer, who was in room 616, go to room 616? " he said.
Novi Wirani, lawyer for Heather Mack said that an indictment should be made "carefully, clearly and completely" as required by law.
"An indictment will determine someone’s fate, whether they are guilty or not,” he said.
Presiding Judge Made Suweda ordered the prosecutor to respond to the statement of errors in the next session scheduled for Wednesday next week.
The Southeast Asian Times

President rejects clemency for drug traffickers on death row

From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 23: President Jokowi Widowo has rejected requests for clemency for more than 60 convicted drug traffickers who are on death row in Indonesia, saying that the "rampant" use of drugs has placed the country in a "state of emergency", reports the Jakarta Post.
"I say that the country is in a state of emergency because there are almost 4.5 million drug users in Indonesia who need rehabilitation", he said.
The decision to execute death row prisoners, convicted of drug offences, follows the call in November by the House of Representatives Commission 111 to carry out the death penalty in order to reduce the number of prisoners in Indonesia's overcrowded prisons.
The House of Representatives Commission 1 on Defence and Foreign Affairs advised President Jokowi Widowo to reject requests from foreign governments to stop the executions.
The Commission reportedly applauded the presidential position despite mounting international protests.
The House of Representatives Commission 1 on Defence and Foreign Affairs, deputy chairman, Tantowi Yahya, said that President Jokowi must be consistent in the application of the law.
"The President must not be merciful towards convicted drug traffickers" he said.
The first executions in Indonesia since the election of President Jokowi Widowo in July were carried out on Sunday in Central Java with the death by firing squad of six death row prisoners convicted of drug offences.
The Southeast Asian Times

Malaysian convicted of murdering Mongolian woman, arrested in Australia
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 22: Australian immigration officials have arrested former Corporal, Sirul Azhar Umar, 43, one of two Malaysians sentenced to death last week by the Kuala Lumpur Federal Court, for the murder in 2006 of Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28.
Corporal, Sirul Azhar Umar, who fled Malaysia in October, was arrested in Brisbane in the state of Queensland on Australia's east coast yesterday following a Malaysian Federal Court arrest warrant issued last week.
Former corporal, Sirul Azhar Umar, was convicted and sentenced to death by the Federal Court in absentia for the murder of the Mongolian translator. He was sentenced together with former chief
Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, murdered in Malaysia in 2006
inspector , Azilah Hadri, 38, who attended the trial and is in police custody. The Federal Court decision last week, overturned last year's Court of Appeal decision that had revoked the 2009 High Court guilty verdict and death sentence handed down to the two men. Both men were then members of an elite unit that guarded the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The Mongolian translater, believed to have been pregnant, reportedly died of two bullet wounds to the head. C4 explosives were reportedly used in an effort to destroy her body in a jungle clearing in Shah Alam on 7 Novemer 2006.
She was last seen alive leaving her hotel on 18 October 2006.
The Unit Tindakan Khas, or Special Action Squad, member Corporal, Sirul Azhar Umar, 43, and chief inspector Azilah Hadri, 38, allegedly picked up Altantuya Shaariibuu from outside the home of Malaysian Strategic Research Centre executive director, Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda, 48, on the evening of 19 October 2006.
Abdul Razak Baginda, who worked for Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, had reportedly met the Mongolian translater at a gala party in Hong Kong in 2004.
He was charged with conspiring to murder the Mongolian woman who was allegedly his former girlfriend but was acquitted by the High Court on 31 October 2008.
The prosecution failed to es­tab­lish a prima facie case against him and did not appeal against the acquittal.
Abdul Razak Baginda reportedly then left Malaysia to prepare for a PhD at Oxford University.
Former chief inspector Azilah Hadri, 38, said in his defence that a 'superior' had ordered him to help Abdul Razak Baginda and that he did not have a motive to kill or destroy the Mongolian woman.
He said that he had done no more than to meet Altantuya Shaariibuu and advise her not to harass Abdul Razak Baginda or create a 'ruckus' outside his residence.
Former police commando Sirul Azhar Umar, 43 described himself as a “sacrificial lamb” during court proceedings.
The Southeast Asian Times

Vietnam court gives eight drug traffickers the death penalty
Calls for clemency were made to Indonesia by the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to the execution of Vietnamese woman Tran Thi Bich Hanh, 37, who was executed on Sunday with five others in Central Java for drug trafficking. The Vietnamese woman reportedly asked Indonesian authorities to allow her to face the firing squad uncuffed as her last wish
From News Reports
Hanoi, January 21: A court in Vietnam's Hoa Binh province handed down the death penalty to eight of 30 Vietnamese including one woman found guilty in a mass trial of trafficking 180 kilograms of heroin.
Five others involved in the trafficking of heroin in Vietnam's northern mountainous provinces received a life sentence and a further 17 received jail sentences from six to 20 years for their part in the trafficking of heroin including murder, bribery and illegal use of weapons.
Police arrested the 30 in a raid in Hoa Binh province in June 2011 seizing large quantities of illegal drugs.
Police also confiscated vehicles, fire arms and cell phones.
The trafficking of more than 100 grams of heroin is included in the list of 39 crimes that are punishable by death in Vietnam.
Vietnam changed from death by firing squad to lethal injection in 2011 but the European Union refusal to sell Vietnam the deadly serum, delaying executions by lethal injection.
In 2012 the Vietnam National Assembly proposed a return to the firing squad to execute the about 450 condemned prisoners in Viet Nam’s jails because the chemicals necessary for the production of the lethal injection in Vietnam were unavailable.
The death sentence handed down in Vietnam on Monday to eight convicted drug traffickers follows the call by the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokman, Le Hai Binh, to Indonesia to consider clemency for Vienamese woman Tran Thi Bich Hanh, 37, who was executed with five others in Central Java for drug trafficking on Sunday.
The Southeast Asian Times

Hunger strike at Australia's offshore detention centre in Papua New Guinea ends after 7 days
Papua New Guinea migration officials negotiated an end to the blockade of Australia's offshore detention centre on Manus Island Delta Block with the intervention of security guards and police yesterday
From News Reports:
Port Morseby, Tuesday 20: Asylum seekers at Australia's offshore detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea reportedly ended a seven day hunger strike yesterday following negotiations with Papua New Guinea migration officials and intervention by security guards.
The Asylum seekers reportedly put up barricades to stop security guards from entry into the Manus Island Delta Block detention centre.
More than 400 of the about 900 asylum seeekers in detention on Manus Island have ended the hunger strike but the protest against their indefinite detention, living conditions and proposed resettlement in Papua New Guinea or Cambodia rather than Australia reportedly continues.
Australian immigration figures show that 895 asylum seekers including 135 children are held at the Australian offshore detention centre.
A further 100 have been resettled into the Nauru community.
The protest at the detention centre that began last Tuesday coincides with the arrival in Nauru of a Cambodian delegation including Cambodian director of the Ministry of Interior’s refugee office, Kem Sarin.
The Cambodian visit to the Australian off shore detention centre last week follows the signing of a bilateral memorandum of understanding in September by Cambodian and Australian governments that would allow settlement of the assylum seeekers in Papua new guinea in Cambodia and not in Australia.
The agreement includes a briefing on Cambodian culture by Cambodian officials before the voluntary resettlement of the Nauru asylum seekers in Cambodia.
Cambodia is to receive $US35 million in development assistance from Australia over the next four years in return for the voluntary resettlement of refugees processed in Australian detention centres in Papua New Guinea and in Australia.
The then Australia Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, said in September that the scheme would help clear the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres in Papua New Guinea of the about 1000 asylum seekers.
The Southeast Asian Times

Call for UN to investigate treatment
of asylum seekers in Australia

From News Reports:
Darwin, January 19: Asylum seeker advocates have called on the United Nations to investigate the treament of Iran asylum seekers held in detention in Darwin in Ausralia's Northern Territory.
Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) Ben Pynt has reportedly asked the Special Rapporteurs on the Human Rights of Migrants to investigate the indefinite detention of 15 Iran asylum seekers held at the Darwin Wickham Point Detention Centre.
The United Nations has been asked to investigate the legitimacy of the Australian government to hold the 15 Iran asylum seekers without a release date.
Asylum seeker advocate Ben Pynt claims that holding the asylum seekers without a release date constitutes "torture" under United Nations ruling.
"Article 9.1 of the international covenant on civil and political rights prohibits arbitrary detention and article 16 of the convention prohibits torture," he said.
He claims that the 15 Iran asylum seekers have been told to return to Iran voluntarily or face indefinite detention in Australia.
One of the 15 Iran asylum seekers in dentention in Darwin has been on a hunger strike for 70 days and has lost more than 30 kilos in weight.
John Lawrence, SC, lawyer for the unidentified asylum seeker, says that his client was awaiting an appeal but did not expect to be given a visa for Australia.
He said that his client chose to go out in 'protest' and to 'demonstrate' what Australia has done to him and continues to do to other asylum seekers in detention in Darwin.
"He is prepared to die", he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

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