The Southeast Asian Times
NEWS FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
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established 2000
 
Sunday 20 September 2018 
GATHERINGS:
An informed guide to happenings throughout the region.
 

Vietnam opens consulate in Macau
From News Reports:
Hanoi, January 9: Vietnam's Hong Kong Consulate General launched a consulate office in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China on Friday, reports the Vietnam News Service.
Consulate General of Hong Kong, Tran Than Huan, said at the launching ceremony that the office aims to better ensure the rights of Vietnamese citizens and tourists in the region.
He said that the consulate office in Macau will provide easier access to information about Vietnam, saying that
it would boost friendship and co-operation between Vietnam and Macau.
The Consulate General said that the office expected to recieve support from local organisations including the Vietnam Fellow Countrymen Friendship Association in Macau.
More than 20,000 Vietnamse are employed as domestic workers, in the service industry at Macau's casino's.
Vietnamese also operate tourist and services companies.
The Southeast Asian Times

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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Australian filmaker in Cambodian prison for espionage, pardoned

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, 69, was pardoned by royal decree on Friday after calling on Prime MInister Hun Sen for clemency

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, September 23: Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, 69, who was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month, was pardoned by royal decree on Friday, reports the Khmer Times.
The Australian filmaker reportedly asked for clemency earlier this month in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen, in which he said, "I apologise unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of Cambodian issues."
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found the Australian filmaker guilty of espionage last month for collecting information considered prejudicial to Cambodia's national defence that included operating a drone to film the now dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) election campaign rally in Phnom Penh without a permit.
He was charged under Article 446 of the Cambodian Criminal Code for collecting information that may reportedly undermine national defence.
The prosecution alleged that the offences were committed from 1995 until the filmaker's arrest in Phnom Penh on June 3, 2017.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges questioned the Australian filmaker during the week-long trial about alleged emails sent to a friend in which he criticised the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) led by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Australian filmaker James Ricketson denied that sending a personal email to a friend was espionage, saying "it's not espionage".
The Australian filmaker was also asked if he had sent footage to former now dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)
president, Sam Rainsy, 73, who is in self-exile in France.
The filmaker denied sending any videos to opposition party president Sam Rainsy but admitted sending drone footage of an opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) rally to party members.
"I sent drone footage to the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) after one of their marches,” he said.
The court judges also asked the filmaker about an email sent to a former Australian prime minister in 2013 in which he asked for Australia to levy sanctions against Cambodia, with the filmaker saying that "it was a harmless personal criticism".
The Cambodian Supreme Court dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) party in November 2017 followed the arrest of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) the then party president, Kem Sokha, in September 2017 on charges of plotting to overthrowing the Hun Sen government with the alleged help of the United States.
The arrest of the former party president who was charged with treason on grounds that a 2013 video showed that he had received assistance from the US followed the arrest of Australian filmaker James Ricketson in June 2017.
The Southeast Asian Times

South and North Korea agree to end Korean peninsula war

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, signed an agreement that would put an end to the military drills along the Military Demarcation Line

From News Reports:
Pyongyang, September 22: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, agreed to the denuclerization of the Korean peninsula at the three day inter-Korean summit that ended in North Korea yesterday, saying that "the era of no war has started", reports Agence France Press.
The South Korean President and North Korean chairman vowed to "cease all hostile acts against each other," in a 17-page accord in Pyongyang on Wednesday, with South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, saying "today the North and South have removed all threats that cause war from the Korean peninsula."
The South Korean President and North Korean chairman signed agreements pledging to destroy both the Tongchangri missile engine test site and the Yongbyon nuclear site, believed to be used for the production of fissile material, conditional on the United States taking reciprocal measures.
"North Korea would destroy the missile test sites in the presence of international experts if the United States agrees to corresponding measures," said South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, in a joint statement.
Senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Michael Fuchs, said that North Korea's willingness to close the Yongbyon nuclear site in the presence of international experts "is a genuine step forward."
North and South Korea also pledged to stop military drills along the Military Demarcation Line that divided the two countries, by November 1 and to remove 11 guard posts in the demilitarized zone by the end of the year.
The Southeast Asian Times


Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak arrested for corruption for second time

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appeared in court on Thursday to answer further charges of misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, September 21: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested on Wednesday for the second time since he was ousted from government in May, for his alleged involvement in the misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) said that the former Prime Minister, who was detained to appear in court yesterday, was charged under Section 23 (1) of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, alledging that the former Prime Minister deposited RM2.6 billion of 1MDB funds into his personal account.
Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who appeared before the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court yesterday, reportedly made a statement at Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur before his appearance.
The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) said that MACC would cooperate with police in the investigation of the former Prime Minister under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
Former Prime Minister Najib Razak who was first arrested on 3 July, two months after the inauguration of Prime Minister Mathahir Mohamad, was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of using his position as Finance Minister and Chairman of the state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) advisory board for gratification.
The former Prime Minister who was charged Under Section 52 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 2009, pleaded not guilty to the three charges.
His arrest in July and his subsequent successful bail application follows the May 9 Malaysian general elections that saw the defeat of the ruling Barisan National (BN) party lead by the former Prime Minister.
The election of Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister in May followed the declassification of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report that had been marked secret under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said after he was sworn in that he would appoint a finance ministry advisor to oversee efforts to recover US$700mil (RM2.6bil) that was allegedly transferred from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak private bank accounts.
The Southeast Asian Times


Myanmar calls for abolishment of 2008 military-drafted Constitution

Buddhist monk, Sayadaw U Zawana, gave thanks to political prisoners and the Myanmar people for their support in the 2007 Saffron Revolution

From News Reports:
Yangon, September 20: Myanmar's Buddhist monks called on the government to abolish the 2008 military-drafted Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and acknowledgement of the 2007 mass protests against the military government at the Yangon Dhamma Piya Monastery on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, reports the Myanmar Times.
Buddhist monks called on President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief Senior General Aung Min Hlaing including leaders of armed ethnic groups to work together to replace the military-drafted constitution, saying that "government and Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) need to make changes for the sake of the people".
Buddhist monk, Sayadaw U Sandarthiri, claims that "crime is everywhere and there is no security", saying that living standards today are very low and not that was expected of the 2007 Saffron Revolution.
The Saffron Revolution began when about 500 monks from Pakokku township in Magwe Region protested against the sudden increase in fuel prices and the resulting rise in the price of basic commodities.
"The people’s standard of living today is very low because of the 2008 military-drafted Constitution", he said.
Buddhist monk, Sayadaw U Zawana, claims that people are suffering as a result of high prices for basic commodities, saying that "rising prices is the same problem that drove monks and the people into the streets 11 years ago".
“I’m not happy because both previous and current governments don’t say anything about the increase in commodity prices."
He said that the price of basic commodities have increased many times since 2007.
"I feel sorry for ordinary people", he said.
The 2008 military-drafted Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar allows Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) significant control of the government, with 25 percent of the seats in parliament reserved for serving military officers.
The ministries of home, border affairs and defense are headed by a serving military officer, with the military appointing one of the country's two vice president, giving Myanmar's civilian leaders little influence.
National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won about 97 per cent of Yangon Region seats in the November 2015 General elections, is subject to the conditions of the Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) military-drafted Myanmar Constitution.
The Southeast Asian Times


Australia grounds Singapore Airlines pilot after random alcohol test

Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight from Australia to New Zealand cancelled after pilot fails alcohol test

From News Reports:
Singapore, September 19: Singapore Airlines (SIA) scheduled to fly from Australia to New Zealand and return was cancelled before take off on Saturday after its pilot failed an alcohol test, reports Rueters.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) spokesman, Karl Schubert, said that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia conducted a random drug and alcohol test of all crew on Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ247 before pre-flight checks in preparation for departure from Melbourne on September 15.
He said that it was not clear what prompted the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia to conduct alcohol tests on the flight crew moments before its scheduled departure at 7am.
The spokesman said that the tests revealed that the Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot was over the regulatory blood alcohol limit.
"The pilot was stood down and suspended from all operations pending an investigation", he said.
Passengers booked on cancelled flight SQ247 from Melbourne to Wellington and return had purchased tickets to attend the Investec Rugby Championship 2018, All Blacks vs South Africa game held in Wellington on 15 September.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) passenger and rugby fan, Muteki Likun, who had flown from Tokyo, called on the airline to explain "why your captain of SQ247 waits until boarding time to decide that he is too ill or drunk to fly".
"Will miss the 1st All Blacks rugby match in Wellington," he said.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has reportedly apologised to passengers affected by the cancellation.
Skytrax’s World Airline Awards named Singapore Airlines (SIA) the "World's Best Airline" this year for the fourth year running.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) also won the ‘World’s Best First Class’, ‘Best Airline in Asia’ and ‘Best First Class Airline Seat’ awards in the 2018 rankings. The awards are based on surveys of more than 20 million travellers, who rated more than 335 airlines between August 2017 and May 2018.
The Southeast Asian Times

Hong Kong prepared for the worst as cyclone Mangkhut hits

Cyclone Mangkhut blows out windows in Hong Kong

From News Reports:
Hong Kong, September 18: Reports that cyclone Mangkhut that left 64 dead with 45 missing in the northern provinces of the Philippines on Friday and Saturday, hit southern China, Macau and Hong Kong on Sunday and Monday, with warnings to prepare for the worst, reports the Associated Press.
Hong Kong Security Minister John Lee Ka-chiu warned residents to stay away from the Victoria Harbour landmark, where storm surges battered the waterfront that was reinforced with sandbags.
“Prepare for the worst,” he said.
The warning came after the strongest cyclone to have hit Southeast Asia in a year left a trail of destruction in the Philippines, with damage to infrastructure including communications in northern Philippines.
Cyclone Mangkhut gained strength as it crossed the the South China Sea and headed for the China coast, Macau and Hong Kong.
The gambling enclave of Macau closed its casinos for the first time and almost 50,000 fishing boats were ordered to return to port.
Cyclone Mangkhut made landfall in Guangdong at 5pm Sunday with winds of 162 km/h and 10 meter-high waves battering the coastline,
The Southeast Asian Times


Southeast Asia's strongest cyclone heading for China after the Philippines
From News Reports:
Hong Kong, September 17: Tropical cyclone Mangkhut, the strongest to hit Southeast Asia this year with gale force winds of 200km/h, is heading for Hongkong and China's coast, reportedly gaining strength over the South China Sea, after leaving 28 dead in northern Phillipines, reports the Associated Press.
Philippine disaster response coordinator, Francis Tolentino, said that deaths and a reported 13 missing were due to landslides in northern mountain provinces.
He claims that about 5.7 million Filipinos were affected by the cyclone, saying that "most of them were prepared."
Hong Kong Observatory officials reportedly said yesterday that cyclone Mangkhut was expected to skirt 100km south of Hong Kong, veer west towards the coast of China's southern Guangdong province towards the gaming centre of Macau.
"According to the present forecast track, cyclone Mangkhut is expected to hit Hong Kong and the Chinese coast tonight," said Hong Kong Observatory officials yesterday.
Hong Kong Observatory officials reportedly raised cyclone Mangkhut to category 10 destructive, with category 12 hurricane being the highest reading on the Beaufort scale following fierce waves in low-lying areas and strong winds rattling windows on towering Hong Kong skyscrapers.
About half a million Hong Kong residents have been evacuated from low-lying areas with storm surges of up to 3.5 metres expected.
Tens of thousands of travellers at Hong Kong's International airport have reportedly had their flights cancelled.
Macau officials closed casino gambling operations on Saturday with China's People's Liberation Army on standby for disater relief assistance.
Cyclone Mangkhut, described as the "King of Storms" by China's media was expected to make landfall in Guangdong between Zhuhai and Wuchuan on Sunday evening.
Ports, oil refineries and industrial plants in Guangdong have been closed with power to some areas expected to be reduced as a precaution.
The Shenzhen and Guangzhou airports are closed with all scheduled flights cancelled.
Officials in China have ordered about 30,000 boats to return to harbour, taken precautions at two nuclear power plants and evacuated thousands of offshore oil platform workers.
The Southeast Asian Times

Solar energy company chairman shot dead for resigning and taking customers
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 16: Four men including solar energy Fachai Engineering Co., owner and a retired colonel were arrested in four Thai provinces for the murder of company chairman, Akaranan Mongkolchonsawat, 56, for resigning and taking company customers with him, reports the Bangkok Post.
Thai Crime Suppression Division officers allege that the murder of the solar energy Fachai Engineering Co., chairman, Akaranan Mongkolchonsawat, was reportedly "over a conflict within the solar energy company".
"Akaranan Mongkolchonsawat had planned to leave the company and establish his own business, depriving the solar energy Fachai Engineering Co.engineering company of its customer base," said police.
The Crime Suppression Division officers arrested owner of the solar power Fachai Engineering Co., Chotitiwat Jirapatputitana, 44, in Dina Daeng district, Bangkok, on Wednesday.
Col Somsak Muifaeng, 62, from Chon Buri province was arrested in the Huai Khwang district of Bangkok.
Withoon Kreetatorn, 38, a former Phetchaburi provincial councilor, was arrested with five fire arms in his possession in Muang district in Nakhon Pathom.
Warawut Pasuk, 43, was arrested in Muang district, Phetchaburi.
Thai police said that the murder of solar power Fachai Engineering Co.chairman, Akaranan Mongkolchonsawat, 56, was planned and carried out to look like a road rage incident.
The car driven by chairman, Akaranan Mongkolchonsawat, was reportedly chased and forced to stop at the entrance of the Lully Ville housing estate in Muang district in Samut Prakan.
The chairman of the solar power Fachai Engineering Co., Akaranan Mongkolchonsawat, was shot in the head where he sat behind the wheel of his Honda Vehicle.
Thai Crime Suppression Division officers allege that the murder of the chairman was carried out by a Phetchaburi hit team hired by the four men arrested on Wednesday, saying that the hitman was paid 400,000 baht.
The Southeast Asian Times

Call for release from prison of Buddhist woman convicted of blasphemy

Meiliana, 44, found guilty of blaphemy and sentenced to 18 month imprisonment at the Medan District Court in North Sumatra on 21 August

From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 15: Indonesian civil society organisations called for the release of an ethnic Chinese Buddhist women, who was imprisoned for 18 months last month for blasphemy, for complaining about the loudspeaker at a mosque near her home in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra two years ago, reports the Jakarta Globe.
Last month the Medan District Court reportedly found Meiliana, 44, guilty of blasphemy for telling a neighbour in 2016 that the Islamic call for pray was too loud, asking that the volume of the loudspeakers be turned down.
Her remarks reportedly triggered mass protests and mob violence leading to crowds burning down several Buddhist monasteries and temples in the area.
Indonesia civil society organizations including Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU), Amnesty International Indonesia, the Association of Indonesian Churches (PGI), Our Indonesia Movement (GITA) and the Supreme Council for the Confucian Religion in Indonesia (Matakin) signed a joint statement calling for the women's release from prison.
"We are urging the legal authorities in Indonesia to ensure justice for Meiliana, who was imprisoned simply for expressing her opinion peacefully," said the statement.
More than 100,000 signed an online petition immediatley following the Medan District Court decision on 21 August that found Meilian guilty of blasphemy, calling for her release, a review of the decision made by the panel of judges and for the Ministry of Religious Affairs to issue a regulation on the use of loudspeakers by mosques.
The executive board of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Indonesia's largest independent Muslim organization, also denounced the verdict, with
the head of legal affairs and human rights, Robikin Emhas, saying that "Meiliana's complaint did not constitute blasphemy."
Riri Khariroh of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said that distrust, prejudice and a lack of peaceful dialogue between the diverse ethnic and religious communities in the city were exacerbated by social and economic disparities, as members of the ethnic Chinese community are generally perceived to be wealthier than those from other groups.
"Meiliana is a portrait of multilayered discrimination experienced by women, members of minority groups and of the ethnic Chinese community – all these make Meiliana much more vulnerable to being criminalized in a blasphemy case," she said.
The Southeast Asian Times


No time to waste, warns Malaysia in call for ASEAN unity and integration

Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Ignatius Darell Leiking, second from left, said at the 27th World Economic Forum on Asean on the ‘Trade in Trouble: Navigating Geo-Economic Tensions’ panel that ASEAN unity is key to protecting ASEAN from the US-China trade conflict

From News Reports:
Hanoi, September 14: The panel on ‘Trade in Trouble: Navigating Geo-Economic Tensions’ called for ASEAN unity and economic integration at the two day 27th World Economic Forum on Asean in Hanoi on Wednesday, warning that there was no time to waste, reports the Vetnam News Service.
The panel that included Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Ignatius Darell Leiking, called for unity of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and economic integration in order to "navigate the adversarial climate caused by trade tensions between the United States and China.
Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Ignatius Darell Leiking warned that there was no time to waste, saying that "ASEAN leaders must embrace the reality that a solution is needed now and from within ASEAN.
He said that ASEAN negotiators should have in mind that the intention is to see their neighbours prosper, keeping in mind the disparity in the level of member states economic development.
"If all our neighbours prosper together whereby we help each other, provide input into how to develop our countries, in an equal way,” he said, “then we’ll be alright.”
He said that to work as a single ASEAN, to promote seamless trade between the Asean member states could reduce the impact that is reportedly forthcoming because of the tariff war between the United States and China.
The 27th World Economic Forum on Asean, held at the National Convention Center in Hanoi this week and attended by about 1000 representatives including prime ministers, presidents or state consellors of the ten ASEAN member states, addresses their common concerns.
The Southeast Asian Times

Cambodian on treason charges
released from prison on house arrest

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, September 13: Former president of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha, 64, who was in detention awaiting trial for treason for a year, was released from prison on court-supervised bail, with his lawyer saying that strict bail conditions amounted to house arrest, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Kem Sokha was released on bail on Monday despite a Supreme Court ruling last month that rejected the second bail application since his arrest on 3 September 2017.
The Supreme Court ruled last month to extend detention of the former president of the dissolved opposition party for a further six months, despite his lawyers’ pleas that his health was deteriorating and he needed urgent surgery.
Lawyer, Meng Sopheary, said following the release of his client on Monday that while the court decision did not explicity say that the court-supervised bail was house arrest, the bail conditions that included a limit on his clients freedom of movement, amounted to house arrest.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin denied that the former president of the dissolved opposition party, Kem Sokha, was under house arrest, saying that "it is his right to stay in his house or not".
“What is important is that he has to respect the conditions laid out by the court,” he said.
“The release on bail under the supervision of the court did not free him from the treason charges, meaning court procedures are continuing until the case goes to trial,” he said.
The arrest of Kem Sokha, on charges of plotting to overthrowing the Hun Sen government with the help of the United States was followed by the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in November 2017.
The former party president of the dissolved opposion party was arrested without a warrant at his Phnom Penh residence and charged with treason on grounds that a 2013 video showed that had received assistance from the US.
The Southeast Asian Times

Human Rights organisations accuse Vietnam of giving ASEAN a bad name

The 27th World Economic Forum on Asean, held at the National Convention Center in Hanoi this week, addresses the common concerns of the 10 ASEAN member states

From News Reports:
Hanoi, September 12: Vietnam immigration officials denied entry to two prominant human rights advocates on Monday ahead of the two day 27th World Economic Forum on ASEAN that began in Hanoi yesterday, with Amnesty International claiming that Vietnam is giving ASEAN a bad name, reports Rueters.
Global operations at London-based Amnesty International senior director, Minar Pimple, and Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) general secretary, Debbie Stothard, were both refused entry to Vietnam by immigration officials on arrival at the Noi Bai international airport.
Amnesty International secretary, general Kumi Naido, condemned the barring of senior director Minar Pimple, who was scheduled to speak on the "Asean Pluralism: Under Threat?" panel during the two day forum attended by about 1000 representatives including prime ministers, presidents or state consellors of the ten Asean member states, saying that “we condemn this decision to stifle debate from a regular contributor to the World Economic Forum."
He claims that the Vietnam government’s actions undermine an event that depends on a plurality of views, saying that "Vietnam is giving ASEAN a bad name."
Vietnam immigration authorities prevented International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) general secretary, Debbie Stothard, who was scheduled to participate on the "Innovation under Stress" panel from entering Vietnam under Article 21(9) of a 2014 law on the entry and exit of foreigners.
The article bars foreign nationals from entering Vietnam for reasons of national defense, security or social order and safety.
International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) general secretary, Debbie Stothard, said that she had hoped that "hosting the prestigious World Economic Forum in Vietnam would help the ruling Communist Party realise that pluralism, human rights and freedom are necessary to economic development."
In April the Vietnam's Supreme People's Procuracy charged six Vietnamese with attempting to overthrow the Socialist Republic of Vietnam under the guise of a civil society organisation, arguing that the organisation aimed to subvert the political system of Vietnam and replace it with a pluralistic multi-party system.
The six were reportedly recruited to protest against the National Assembly's parliament election in May 2016 and to spread anti-state propaganda.
The Southeast Asian Times


Filipino's serve power disconnection notices on coal fired energy distributor
From News Reports:

Manila, September 11: Filipino consumers, scientists and environment activists protested the high cost of electricity and the environmental cost of coal fired energy at branches of power distributor, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) in Manila and other cities, serving the distributor with disconnection notices, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
Members of the urban poor, Metro Manila Vendors Alliance (MMVA), the environmentalists, Piglas Kababaihan, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, the Power for People Coalition and other environmental and consumer groups were among those protesting at 15 Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) branches last Tuesday.
Disconnection notices were served on Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) branches located in Kamuning, Roosevelt and Commonwealth in Quezon City; España in Manila; Pasig City; Cainta in Rizal; Parañaque City; Masinag and Antipolo City; Caloocan City; Dasmariñas, Naic and General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite; San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan and Calamba City in Laguna.
Metro Manila Vendors Alliance (MMVA) member, Mila Uga-Uga, claims that "disconnection notices" were served on Meralco branches because the company has failed to provide safe and affordable electricity.
“We are already suffering from the soaring prices of goods, yet our remaining income as small traders is slashed by the high cost of electricity,” she said.
Piglas Kababaihan, environmentalist, Mercy Donor, said the government should tap cheaper and cleaner power sources.
“We know that there are other sources of clean power,” she said.
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice representative, Valentino de Guzman, said that power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)
could not stop the transition of energy from fossil to renewable, saying that "Meralco would lose its seven coal fired power plants, turning them into stranded assetts."
"Environmental groups are yet to find a political leader who will help them in their legal action against Meralco," he said.
The protesters have called for cancellation of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) seven coal fired power distribution aggreements with its affiliated power generating companies, claiming that Meralco chairman, Manny V. Pangilinan, holds a monopoly on the supply chain of the energy industry.
The Southeast Asian Times

Order to remove Chinese characters from Malaysian shopfronts recinded

A shopfront in Muar in Malaysia with embossed Chinese characters

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, September 10: The order given by Malaysia's Muar Municipal Council (MPM) on Tuesday to remove Chinese characters from signboards, shopfronts and pillars was recinded on Thursday, less that forty eight hours after it was issued, reports the Star.
The annoucement to recind the order to remove lettering and signboards, some of which are cast on pre-war buildings, was given by the
Muar Municipal Council (MPM) president Mustaffa Kamal Shamsudin.
The lettering was reportedly in violation of local advertising laws that carried a fined of up to RM2,000, jail for two years or both.
Chop Huap Aik Hardware outlet owner Ong Kiat Seng, 65, said the Chinese characters on her shop have been there since 1929.
She said that her family had been operating the business for three generations and she wanted her daughter to take over one day.
"Forcing businesses to erase the Chinese characters was unfair and would be like trying to conceal history”, she said.
State executive councillor Tan Hong Pin reportedly denied any "racial element" in the initial order, explaining that Muar Municipal Council (MPM) officers were merely enforcing a rule on the size of lettering for signboards.
Muar Member of Parliament, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said that Chinese characters were part of the town’s beauty and should be maintained, saying that he opposed the forceful removal of the lettering.
“As the MP of Muar, I won’t allow this to happen,” he said.
In May in the week before the Malaysian elections, Penang Chinese Clan Council (PCCC) chairman, Dr Chang Wei Lu, called on the Penang Chinese community not to vote for opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) lead by Mahathir Mohamad, saying that the Chinese community were aware of mistakes made by the Democratic Action Party (DAP), one of four coalition parties of the Pakatan Harapan (PH)
The chairman was reportedly referring to the Democratic Action Party (DAP) decision to cancel the Culture and Heritage Chinese New Year celebration.
In 2011 the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) established a museum in Malacca to exhibit contributions of the Chinese community in recognition of past achievements of Chinese leaders in helping to gain Independence for Malaysia.
The Southeast Asian Times

PM Mahathir denounces canning for lesbians, advising counceling instead
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, September 9: Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, denounced the public canning in Terengganu of two Muslim lesbian women who pleaded guilty to charges under Islamic law that forbids lesbianism, suggesting counseling instead, reports Rueters.
The public canning of the two women on Monday prompted an outcry from human rights activists and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community, who described the punishment ordered by the Terengganu Sharia court as torture.
Prime Minister Mahathir said the caning "did not reflect the justice or compassion of Islam", saying that "caning gives a bad impression of Islam.
"It is important that we show Islam is not a cruel religion that imposes harsh sentences in order to humiliate," he said.
"It was the women's first offence which warranted a lighter sentence such as counseling," he said.
Prime Minister Mahathir has reportedly been divided about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community since his election in May, with accusations that the Prime Minister has been silent on the canning and on recent attacks on transgender's and marginalised groups in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
In August the raid on a Kuala Lumpur club frequented by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) , the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI), and the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) was reportedly conducted "to mitigate LGBT culture from spreading".
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religion) Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who reportedly ordered the raid on the LGBT club, the first time the club has been raided in its 30 year history, also ordered the removal of portraits of two LGBT activists from an art exhibition in the same month.
The Southeast Asian Times

South and North Korea meet to prepare for denuclerization talks

North Korea's chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, and South Korea's national security chief Chung Eui-yong in Pyongyang North Korea on Wednesday

From News Reports:
Seoul, September 8: South Korea's Government officials met with North Korea's chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un in North Korea to prepare for an inter-Korean summit on the denuclerization of the Korean peninsula, reports Rueters.
South Korea's chief of national security, Chung Eui-yong and chairman of the North Korean committee cross-border affairs, Ri Son Gwon, held talks on Wednesday in Pyongyang with North Korean Yong Chol, who reportedly together with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, played a key role in arranging the Singapore Summit in June on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
The summitt was attended by US President Donald Trump and North Korean chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the Singapore Summit that "the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was the only outcome that the United States will accept"
"North Korea had previously confirmed its willingness to denuclearise and we are eager to see if those words prove sincere," he said.
The US Secretary of State said that Kim Jong Un claimed that he wants a "permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and to establish new relations with the US in a changed era.
US President Donald Trump had hailed the Singapore Summit a success, saying that "the North Korean nuclear threat was over".
But US officials involved in negotiations say that North Korea has not begun talks on defining denuclearization.
North Korea has reportedly insisted that "the United States must first agree to simultaneous steps to reduce sanctions".
South Korea's chief of national security, Chung Eui-yong, said on Wednesday after meeting with North Korean chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, that the inter-Korean two day summit planned for September 18 "could provide momentum to talks over denuclearization between North Korea and the United States, after the planned visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang was cancelled last month due to lack of progress.
The Southeast Asian Times


Cambodians call on Australian government to condemn Hun Sen

Cambodians in Australia at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) office in Canberra on Tuesday call on the Australia government to condemn the re elected Cambodian People's Party (CPP)

From News Reports:
Canberra, September 7: Cambodians in Australia called on the Australian Government to condemn the newly elected Cambodian government and sanction re elected Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in a protest at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) office in Canberra on Tuesday, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Australian Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Clarinda, Hong Lim, who is also the president of the Cambodian Australian Federation (CAF), said a petition calling on the Australian government to condemn the inauguration of Hun Sen’s new government in Phnom Penh on Thursday was delivered to Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) State Director Jenny Bloomfield.
Hong Lim, who led the protest, said that its purpose was to call on Australia to reject the 29 July Cambodian elections which he described as "Hun Sen's sham and fake election".
He also urged Australia to freeze Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sens alleged assets in Australia and to follow the US sanction of visa's.
He also called on the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to free the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president, Kem Sokha from prison and to reinstate the opposition party that was dissolved by the Phnom Penh Supreme Court.
He also called for the release of Australian filmaker James Ricketson who was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage last week.
The Australian Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Clarinda, Hong Lim said that he welcomed the news that the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia would not attend the opening of parliament in Phnom Penh for the inauguration of the reelected Hun Sen government this week.
Ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesperson, Sok Eysan, said in response to demands by Hong Lim for the Australian Government to condemn the inauguration of the the Hun Sen Government that it was up to the Australian authorities to take action against any alleged illegal investments made by Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) officials in Australia.
The Cambodian Supreme Court dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) party in November 2017 followed the arrest of the then Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) party president, Kem Sokha, on September 3 on charges of plotting to overthrowing the Hun Sen government with the alleged help of the United States and the arrest of Australian filmaker James Ricketson in June 2017 who was found guilty of espionage for collecting information considered prejudicial to Cambodia's national security.
The Southeast Asian Times


Police order further investigations into assassination of Indonesian civil rights lawyer
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 6: Investigation into the 2004 assassination of civil rights lawyer, Munir Said Thalib, 39, who founded the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) is to be reopened, reports Tempo.
“National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian ordered Criminal Investigation Unit Chief Inspector General, Arief Sulistyanto, to reopen the case files,” said Indonesian National Police (Polri) spokesman Gen. Setyo Wasisto on Monday.
Criminal Investigation Unit Chief Inspector General Arief Sulistyanto reportedly presided over the investigation of the murder of civil rights lawyer, Munir Said Thalib, who died aboard a Garuda Airways flight while travelling from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore on September 7, 2004.
The reopening of investigations into the assassination of Munir Said Thalib reportedly includes investigations into former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy director Muchdi Purwopranjono's, possible involvement in the murder of the civil rights lawyer.
The civil rights lawyer, who as a member of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, (Kontras) revealed that Army Special Forces, or Kopassus, soldiers had helped abduct 13 critics of the then Soeharto government between 1997 and 1998.
Former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy director, Muchdi Purwopranjono, who was formally Kopassus Commander Major General,
was reportedly involved in an alleged “Rose Team” military campaign that led to the elimination of opponents of Indonesia’s “New Order” government.
Muchdi Purwopranjono went on trial for the murder of Munir Said Thalib before the South Jakarta District Court in 2008 but was found not guilty by three judges for assigning an agent to poison the civil rights lawyer, following the absence of testimony by key witnesses for the prosecution.
Munir Said Thalib, died on board the second leg of the Garuda flight a few hours before reaching Amsterdam.
Dutch forensic scientists found that he had ingested enough arsenic to raise suspicion that he had been poisoned during his journey.
In January 2008 judges of the Indonesian Supreme Court found off-duty Garuda Airways pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, 57, who was reportedly employed by the National Intelligence Agency or BIN, guilty of the murder of the civil rights lawyer and sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment.
The judges also found Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto guilty of falsifying documents that allowed him to travel as a corporate security employee aboard the Garduda Airways flight that carried Munir to his death en route to Amsterdam via Singapore.
In January 2009 executions, and special rapporteur for Judicial Independence and the Human Rights Council's working group for forceful disappearances coordinator, Raffendy Jamin, said Munir Said Thalib’s murder was to be included on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Assembly.
The Southeast Asian Times

Myanmar reporters sentenced to jail for breach of secrets act

Protesters at Inya Lake in Myanmar's capital Yangon on Monday demand the freedom of jailed Myanmar reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, employed by international news agency charged with violating the Official Secrets Act

From News Reports:
Yangon, September 5: The Yangon northern district court sentenced two Myanmar reporters, employed by international news agency, Rueters, to seven years jail for breaching the Official Secrets Act, reports Rueters.
Myanmar reporters, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty of breaching Section 3.1 (c) of the Burma Official Secrets Act of 1923 when the then Burma was a province of British India.
Section 3 reportedly covers entering prohibited places, taking images or handling secret official documents that “might be or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy”.
Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin, said in sentencing the reporters to seven years imprisonment that the time served since their detention would be taken into account, saying that "the defene can appeal the decision to the regional court and then the supreme court".
Reporters Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27 who have been held in custody at the Insein prison in Yangon since their arrest in December last year have pleaded not guilty to breaching the secrets act.
The reporters claim that that they were investigating alleged abuses by Myanmar government security forces against the Muslim Rohingya's in Myanmar's Rakhine State when arrested.
Lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, for the reporters claimed during the trial that the arrest of the two reporters "amounted to entrapment by police."
He said that the two reporters had been arrested immediately after they had been handed documents, believed to contain information about "the situation in northern Rakhine" at a meeting in Yangon that was arranged by two police officers.
Myanmar Police Captain, Moe Yan Naing told the Yangon court in April that a high ranking police officer had ordered two policemen to meet the reporters employed by Rueters and hand over documents believed to contain information that reportedly contravened the Burma Official Secrets Act.
He told the court that the order to entrap the two Reuters reporters, Cambodians, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, found with documents that contained "details of police strength and weapons and the position of security forces in northern Rakhin State", was given by Brig Gen Tin Ko Ko.
"Brig Gen Tin Ko Ko ordered two police officers to hand over secret documents to the two reporters", he said.
He claimed that the meeting between the two Rueters reporters and the two police officers was arranged at a restuartant outside Yangon, saying that a police team intercepted, arresting the reporters with the document.
The Southeast Asian Times


Malaysian PM Mahathir reaffirms handover to Anwar

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad dismissed accusations in Brunei on Suday that he is an "Ultra Malay" saying it was no different from other labels hurled against him like Mahafiraun, Mahazalim, that he said were political fodder his opponents were fond of

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, September 4: Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that he will honour the agreement made by his party the Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance party, that he would remain interim Prime Minister for two years, before handing over to former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, reports the Star.
"I am confident that Anwar is now more mature and much experienced," he told a gathering of Malaysians residing in Brunei on Sunday who voiced their concern on the choice of his successor.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh and People's Justice Party (PJP) opposition party founder, Anwar Ibrahim, 70, was released from prison on a royal pardon from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after serving three years of a five -year jail sentence for sodomy in the week following the swearing in on May 10 of newly elected Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar Ibrahim said at a press conference held at his home in Segambut after his release that he was grateful to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the royal pardon granted him, saying that "the royal pardon has cleared him of all accusations of wrongdoings".
He also thanked the newly elected Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for helping to expedite the royal pardon.
Anwar Ibrahim was convicted in February 2105 and sentenced to five years imprisonment in what he says is a "political conspiracy" by ruling party, Barisan national (BN) lead by the now former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Prime Minister Mahathir told Malaysians residing in Brunei that "much was done to replace the previous Prime Minister Najib Razak", saying that demonstrations, an attempt to move a no-confidence motion in Parliament, lodging police reports including a People Declaration rejecting the leadership of the now former Prime Minister Najib Razak goverment were included in the effort to oust the previous Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Mahathir reportedly told the gathering in Brunei that they could do likewise if they were dissatisfied with his successor Anwar Ibrahim.
The Southeast Asian Times

Australian filmaker begs Cambodian PM Hun Sen for mercy

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, 69, said in his letter to Cambodia's PM Hun Sen "I apologise unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of Cambodian issues"

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, September 3: Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, who was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, has asked for clemency in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen, reports the Khmer Times.
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, 69, was found guilty of espionage for collecting information considered prejudicial to Cambodia's national defence that included operating a drone to film the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) election campaign rally in Phnom Penh without a permit.
He was charged under Article 446 of the Cambodian Criminal Code for collecting information that may reportedly undermine national defence.
The prosecution reportedly alleged that the offences were committed from 1995 until the filmaker's arrest in Phnom Penh on June 3, 2017.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges questioned the Australian filmaker during the week-long trial about alleged emails sent to a friend in which he criticised the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) led by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Australian filmaker James Ricketson denied that sending a personal email to a friend was espionage, saying "it's not espionage".
The Australian filmaker was also asked if he had sent footage to former dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)
president, Sam Rainsy, who is in self-exile in France.
Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy, 73, was summoned last month to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 13 to answer charges of Lese Majeste law for insulting the King.
The filmaker denied sending any videos to opposition party president Sam Rainsy but admitted sending drone footage of an opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) rally to the party.
"I sent drone footage to the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) after one of their marches,” he said.
The court judges also asked the filmaker about an email sent to a former Australian prime minister in 2013 in which he asked for Australia to levy sanctions against Cambodia, with the filmaker saying that "it was a harmless personal criticism".
The Cambodian Supreme Court dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) party in November 2017 followed the arrest of the then Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) party president, Kem Sokha, on September 3 on charges of plotting to overthrowing the Hun Sen government with the alleged help of the United States and the arrest of Australian filmaker James Ricketson in June 2017.
The Southeast Asian Times


"Goodbye America" says B.A. Hamzah as he calls for Asians to determine their own political destiny in "Time for Asia to set it's own course, minus the U.S."...open here


The founder of the Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor (Fretilin), Mari Alkatiri, the now former Prime Minister of Timor Leste, after losing the May 12 election to the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) party, led by Xanana Gusmao, has accused the opposition of a coup attempt.
Twelve years ago Mari Alkatiri also accused the opposition of a coup attemp claiming then that the crises that led to his resignation was the result of a conspiracy. "I have no doubt about that" he told Darwin reporter John Loizou in an interview in Dili on 6 November 2006
......open page here




Is prescribed burning of grasslands in northern Australia out of control? ......Chris Ray reports ... open page here

"Rockefeller and the Demise of Ibu Pertiwi" by Kerry B. Collison "is undoubtedly fictional but by no means improbable, " says Johannes Nugroho ....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

 

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

 

.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

 

What they're saying open page here

 

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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

 

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