SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low still involved in affairs of his Hong Kong companies

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 9 min 31 sec ago
Missing fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho has been actively involved in the affairs of his two Hong Kong-registered companies even with Malaysian authorities in hot pursuit of him across several countries, the Post has learned. Meanwhile, his business associate Seet Li Lin, said to be a Singaporean from media reports, is living in Hong Kong and is connected to a Shanghai consulting firm owned by one of 37-year-old Low’s companies. Jho Low, as he is widely known, is a key figure in an...

East Timor activists ‘shocked’ by Australia’s prosecution of Dili spying whistle-blowers

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 22 min 15 sec ago
East Timor activists have condemned the Australian government over the prosecution of Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery for their roles in revealing the bugging of the East Timor cabinet during negotiations on an oil and gas treaty. The activists from the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) have joined mounting criticism of the prosecution, comparing the act to the targeting they and their family experienced under the rule of the Suharto-led Indonesian government....

Meet Manila’s Golden Gays, fighting for their rights one pageant at a time

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 59 min 41 sec ago
Al Enriquez sheds his threadbare street vendor clothes like dead skin and develops a voguish, winking air once he slips into a gauzy gown and wig of tight blond curls. He’s 82 years old and is one of the stars in a beauty pageant for elderly and poor gay men that’s about to start in a banquet hall on a rundown Manila street. But this is not a rowdy, hooting drag show for tourists – instead it is part of the decades-long work of a collective of men like him to take care of...

India scraps sanitary pad tax in boost for female education

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 1 hour 5 min ago
India scrapped a controversial tax on sanitary pads on Saturday, a move hailed by campaigners who say it will help more girls to go to school during their periods and boost their job prospects. Activists say removing the tax on pads tackles one of the biggest barriers to education for girls, who are often forced to stay at home due to a lack of access to clean hygiene products, while also facing stigma and a lack of toilets in schools. Periods are among the leading factors for girls to drop out...

Whoever wins, Pakistan’s new boss will be bossed just like the old boss

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 1 hour 57 min ago
Some 106 million Pakistanis are eligible to cast their votes on July 25 in what has been billed as the country’s most significant general election since the military ceded power back to civilians a decade ago. But it is a landmark poll for all the wrong reasons. Rather than reflecting the will of the people, the result is expected to yield an ungainly coalition engineered by army generals, with the support of a clearly partisan judiciary and a thoroughly manipulated media. In Pakistan...

Unlike Trump, India is partial to net neutrality. But what does that mean?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 3 hours 1 min ago
India’s adoption of net neutrality this month caps off years of campaigning for an open and fair internet in the world’s second most populous country, made more significant by the fact that the principle essentially just died in the United States, the internet’s birthplace. Few nations in Asia are likely to follow India’s lead, however, given a general lack of public awareness and the tight grip telecommunication providers hold over many policymakers. Net neutrality...

A Mahathir-like figure, a car crash, and Cambodia’s ‘election’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 4 hours 2 min ago
After surviving a car accident that killed his wife just weeks before a national election, Cambodia’s former leader and current candidate for prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh seems to be in much poorer health than publicly acknowledged. His impaired condition puts even the semblance of an open democratic process – designed to make Prime Minister Hun Sen’s re-election look like it was part of a fair fight – in peril. Welcome to Asia’s newest one-party state...

Japan’s Haruhiko Kuroda keeps mum on possible steps to soften easing pain

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - 9 hours 34 min ago
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda stuck to the bank’s playbook on Saturday, declining to comment on reports that policy makers are considering measures to soften the side effects of their aggressive monetary easing campaign. Remarks on the issue would not be appropriate given the proximity of the bank’s monetary policy meeting, Kuroda said, adding that policy decision will require sufficient discussion about prices and the state of the economy. “I know absolutely nothing...

Why denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula may be a fanciful dream

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 17:34
It should surprise no one that the United States and North Korea have run into hiccups in their latest bout of diplomatic rapprochement. Since signing a vague statement at their Singapore summit meeting on June 12, both US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have left the business of implementation to their respective deputies. So far, talks to see through the vision expressed in the fuzzy Singapore declaration have not gone well. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s...

Indonesia deports Frenchman who spent 18 years in jail for smuggling drugs into Bali

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 16:39
A Frenchman who served 18 years in custody for smuggling drugs into Bali was deported on Saturday in a case that sparked outrage in his native country over Indonesia’s tough narcotics laws. Police arrested Michael Blanc on the day after Christmas in 1999 at the tropical island’s airport with 3.8kg of hashish hidden inside scuba diving canisters. The now 45-year-old was originally given a life term – narrowly escaping the death sentence handed to some other foreign drug...

How India and China are keeping the West out in Nepal

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 12:45
Sandwiched between two Asian giants, Nepal has of late emerged as a new battleground for the region’s geopolitical competition as China trains its strategic focus on South Asia, once considered exclusively India’s sphere of influence. But there is one area where China and India seem to have found common ground – keeping international non-governments and West-dominated multilateral agencies at bay. Nepal’s parliament this week decided that it would not accept any funds...

Regardless of the outcome of next week’s election, Cambodians confront many years of hard work

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 11:33
Whoever wins Cambodia’s general election next week, 27-year-old Khen Srey Touch knows only that she will have to keep working hard for years to come. Already the mother of a four-year-old boy, she is due to give birth to a girl within two weeks, but maintains a punishing schedule in a shoe factory, working about 10 hours a day, six days a week. “I am the main breadwinner of the house,” Khen Srey Touch said from her village southwest of the capital Phnom Penh. Each morning she...

Japanese are still top three for life expectancy – but Hongkongers are top

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 11:25
Japanese women and men remained in a top-three spot on the world’s average life expectancy list in 2017 as Hong Kong continued to dominate the first spot, the country’s welfare ministry’s data showed on Friday. The average life expectancy of women in Japan retained second place for the third straight year at 87.26 years, up 0.12 year from 2016. That for men fell to third from second although it rose 0.11 year to 81.09. Both figures topped a previous record for the sixth...

Thousands protest Australia’s refugee detention policy

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 10:34
Thousands of people marched in major cities across Australia on Saturday calling for an end to Canberra’s offshore detention of asylum seekers. The government sends anyone who tries to enter the country by sea to camps on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island or Nauru in the Pacific for processing. Protesters took to the streets to mark the fifth anniversary of the policy’s reintroduction, when in 2013 Canberra significantly toughened its stance, signing deals with the Pacific...

Who carried out unprecedented Singapore cyberattack? Experts are pointing to ‘state actors’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 10:10
State-actors were likely behind Singapore’s biggest ever cyberattack to date, security experts say, citing the scale and sophistication of the hack. The city state announced Friday that hackers had broken into a government database and stolen the health records of 1.5 million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who was specifically targeted in the “unprecedented” attack. Singapore’s health minister said the strike was “a deliberate, targeted, and...

Key member resigns from Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis panel

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 10:07
A key member of an international advisory panel on Myanmar’s crisis-hit Rakhine state has resigned, saying on Saturday that the Aung San Suu Kyi-appointed board risks becoming “part of the problem” in a conflict that forced 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee. Retired Thai lawmaker and ambassador Kobsak Chutikul was secretary for the panel that was hand-picked by civilian leader Suu Kyi to advise her government on how to handle the aftermath of a military campaign that drove the...

The bane of Pakistani politicians: young voters with mobile phones

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 08:11
The crowd of young Pakistanis, many armed with mobile phones, surround the politician’s car and begin streaming live footage of something extraordinary: angry voters asking their elected representatives what have they done for them lately. A titanic 46 million people below the age of 35 are registered to vote in elections on July 25 – many of them savvy social media users who are posting videos complaining about the powerful. In one clip, influential politician, landowner and tribal...

Can Japan’s teflon Abe hang on to party leadership?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 07:00
S hinzo Abe is expected to enter the race for president of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party as early as Sunday with analysts predicting he will again fend off rivals and retain the position of leader of both the party and the nation. A victory in September would be quite a resurrection for Abe’s fortunes after he looked both physically tired and politically adrift just a few months ago, as criticism from the opposition and media came in hard and fast over cronyism scandals...

US pushes China and Russia to keep up sanctions pressure on North Korea

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 06:40
The United States on Friday welcomed the UN Security Council’s united support for the fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea and pressed China and Russia to strictly enforce sanctions to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused North Korea of violating an array of tough sanctions imposed by the council. He warned that “when sanctions are not enforced, the prospects for the successful denuclearisation of North Korea are...

Britain might send aircraft carrier to back Australian vessels patrolling South China Sea

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 04:40
Australia and Britain are discussing plans for the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to be sent to the Pacific amid tensions over China’s militarisation in the South China Sea. Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop discussed joint naval operations in the Pacific region with UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, during their visit this week. In an effort to highlight the defence ties, Williamson and Payne visited BAe Systems shipyards on the...

Strait talk: are China and Taiwan on the brink of conflict?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 03:31
When Taiwan proudly displayed its second tranche of US-made Apache attack helicopters, its leader Tsai Ing-wen sent a clear a message to Beijing when she called the assertive display “an important milestone” in the island’s defences. The message struck a tone in stark contrast to the atmospherics around a high-profile meeting in Beijing just days before between the representatives of two organisations which spent much of the last century at each other’s throats: the...

Pink Dot: Singapore’s rare gem for LGBT community shines brighter than ever

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 02:48
In protest-averse Singapore, where civil society activists rejoice when their events draw more than 500 people, the annual Pink Dot gay pride rally has become a stand-out affair for its ever-swelling crowds. Now in its 10th edition, this year’s rally to be held on Saturday afternoon is expected to once again pull in a crowd of more than 20,000 people comprising the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community as well as many of their straight allies....

Asia in 3 minutes: Elon Musk’s apology doesn’t go far enough; Japan’s obsession with otters goes too far

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 14:10
Elon Musk ‘apologises’ for calling Thai cave rescuer a ‘pedo’ on Twitter Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk apologised to a Briton who helped rescue a group of boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand, after calling him a “pedo” on Twitter. Vernon Unsworth had said he was considering legal action and was “astonished and very angry” about the slur. Musk deleted the offending tweet, which was made after Unsworth questioned the usefulness of a...

A Thai photographer’s Muslim awakening

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 13:40
“My first camera was a small disposable Canon. Back then it was all film, of course.” It’s a Sunday afternoon on the edge of Pattani City, Thailand, and Ampannee Satoh sits against a background of sweeping paddy fields exposed under a clear blue sky and an intense, burning sun. It’s a tranquil scene (only 44,000 people live in the city) despite the fact that a bomb exploded in neighbouring Yala Province only the day before. “Now I use a Nikon D200,” the 28-...

Singapore hit by ‘most serious’ cyberattack, resulting in theft of health data of 1.5 million people – including the prime minister

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 13:26
A major cyberattack on Singapore’s government health database stole the personal information of about 1.5 million people, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the government said on Friday. The attack, which the government called “the most serious breach of personal data” that the country has experienced, occurred as the highly wired and digitalised state has made cybersecurity a top priority for the Asean bloc and for itself. Singapore is this year’s chair of the...

North Korea takes swipe at Moon Jae-in, urges return of waitresses in row over family reunions

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:31
North Korea lambasted South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Friday for “needlessly kibitzing” about relations between Pyongyang and Washington and dismissed Moon’s pledge to take the driver’s seat on the Korean Peninsula as “sophistry”. North Korean state media, which has often derided the South and its former presidents as a “puppet” of US hostile forces, has notably refrained from criticising the Moon administration especially after this...

Thai junta plans to control films about soccer team rescued from flooded cave

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:28
Thailand’s military government wants to control how films portray the ordeal of the young soccer players and their heroic rescue from a flooded cave that drew worldwide interest and the attention of foreign filmmakers. Culture Minister Vira Rojpochanarat said he will propose at next week’s Cabinet meeting that a special committee be established to oversee the production of films, documentaries and videos related to the experiences of the 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in a...

Suharto’s son ordered a judge to be assassinated – now he’s running for office

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:17
Indonesian dictator Suharto’s youngest son – who was convicted of ordering the assassination of a Supreme Court judge – will run for a seat in parliament, his political party said on Friday. Tommy Suharto, 56, wants to represent the eastern province of Papua, a region annexed by his father in the late Sixties following a UN-backed referendum widely criticised as a sham. Papua, on the western half of New Guinea island, has since grappled with an insurgency aimed at winning...

Japanese man who killed Chinese sisters jailed for 23 years

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:09
The Yokohama District Court on Friday sentenced a 40-year-old man to 23 years in prison for murdering two Chinese sisters and leaving their bodies – stuffed in travel bags – in woods near Tokyo last year. Lawyers representing Tatsuya Iwasaki appealed the ruling immediately, claiming he was not involved in killing and abandoning the remains of Chen Baolan, 25, and Chen Baozhen, 22, in July 2017. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty. The crime was conducted “with a strong...

China and South Korea insist they will enforce UN sanctions on North after coal shipments claim

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 10:42
China and South Korea vowed to uphold the sanctions regime on North Korea after a UN committee accused the two countries of being reluctant to enforce a ban on coal exports from the North. Five direct North Korean coal shipments arrived in China last August, according to the UN North Korea Sanctions Committee report. It also said that two shipments, sent from a Russian port 2,000km (1,200 miles) away from the Korean peninsula, had arrived in South Korea in October. One out of 10 North Koreans...

South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye given eight more years in prison

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 10:02
South Korea’s disgraced former president Park Geun-hye was convicted of charges including illegally receiving funds from the country’s spy agency on Friday and given eight more years in prison, on top of her current term. Park, the South’s first female president, was impeached last year after huge street protests over a sprawling scandal, and was jailed for 24 years for corruption and abuse of power in April. Friday’s penalty – issued in her absence after she...

North Korea denuclearisation in a year? Not likely says US intelligence chief

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 08:43
US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Thursday it was technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons programme within a year, but added that it was not likely to happen. Asked at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado about White House national security adviser John Bolton’s statement that North Korea could denuclearise in a year, Coats said: “It’s technically possible but probably not going to happen.” “It’s a much more...

Vietnam to deport American arrested during anti-government protest

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 07:40
A Vietnamese court has ordered the deportation of an American man of Vietnamese descent detained during a protest last month, state media reported on Friday. William Anh Nguyen, 32, was accused of “causing public disorder” during the mass protests, sparked by concerns the development of economic zones by offering land leases for up to 99 years would be dominated by investors from China. Nguyen will be released and “deported immediately” after his one-day trial ends on...

DHL heir on run after failing drugs test in Palau

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 07:24
DHL heir Larry Hillbroom Jnr was on the run in the Pacific island nation of Palau on Friday after failing mandatory drug testing imposed as part of a trafficking sentence. Multimillionaire Hillbroom was placed on 10 years’ probation and fined US$50,000 last month after admitting trafficking methamphetamine. The sentencing judge said he would be imprisoned for five years if he returned a positive drug sample. DHL heir Junior Larry Hillbroom arrested during daring sea escape in Palau...

WhatsApp restricts messaging for users in India after dozens killed in fake-news-fuelled mob violence

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 06:52
WhatsApp says it is planning to limit message forwarding in India, where two dozen people have been killed this year in violent mobs fuelled by rumours spreading on the global messaging platform, and is instituting a new global limit on forwards around the world. The company said in a blog post on Thursday evening in the US that it is launching a test to limit forwarding on WhatsApp in India, where people forward more messages and videos than anywhere else in the world. The controls include a...

Australia and New Zealand ‘not friends’ after deportation row

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 06:22
A deepening row over the deportation of New Zealand citizens from Australia has pushed relations between the neighbours to new lows, with politicians in Wellington calling their counterparts in Canberra “venal” and questioning the long-standing friendship between the two nations. Australia has deported more than 1,000 New Zealand citizens in the past two years but the recent incarceration of a 17-year-old New Zealander in an adult detention facility in Melbourne prompted politicians...

Russia, China delay US push to halt refined petroleum exports to North Korea

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 20:07
Russia and China on Thursday delayed a US push for a UN Security Council committee to order a halt to refined petroleum exports to North Korea, asking for more detail on a US accusation that Pyongyang breached sanctions, diplomats said. The United States last week complained to the 15-member Security Council North Korea sanctions committee that as of May 30, there had been 89 illicit ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products this year by Pyongyang. It asked the committee to notify...

One out of 10 North Koreans live as ‘modern slaves’, forced to work by the Kim regime, according to watchdog estimates

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 14:09
North Korea has the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world, with one out of every 10 citizens victims under the practice, according to estimates included in a new report. More than 2.6 million people live under modern slavery in the country, the 2018 Global Slavery Index found, with the vast majority forced to work by the state. The report also argued that the North Korean government had the weakest response to slavery out of all the countries surveyed, as the North Korean state...

Military looms large over divisive Pakistan election after former prime minister sentenced to prison

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 13:39
Accusations of military interference, encroaching extremism and a series of deadly attacks have cast an alarming shadow over Pakistan’s hopes for a rare democratic transition of power in next week’s election. Observers have slammed “blatant” attempts to manipulate the ballot, which will see the brother of a recently jailed three-time prime minister face off against a former World Cup-winning cricketer for leadership of the nuclear-armed nation, whose short history is...

Surfers could be banned from Sydney’s Bondi Beach, prompting immediate backlash

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:26
A proposal to ban surfing on most of Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach has triggered anger among the local boardriding community. Current restrictions confine fibreglass boards to the southern end of the Sydney beach. Softer foam boards popular among novice surfers and children are allowed anywhere, other than inside the flags – a lifesaver-supervised area designated for swimmers. But Waverley Council, the local government with authority over the beach, is canvassing feedback from...

Torment of young South Korean athletes raped and beaten by coaches at training camps

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:17
When Kim Eun-hee was 10 years old, a primary school child with dreams of tennis stardom, her coach raped her for the first time. Then he did it again. And again. And again. The would-be South Korean champion was too young to even know what sex was. But she knew she dreaded the repeated orders to come to his room at their training camp, the pain and the humiliation. “It took me years to realise that it was rape,” Kim said, adding: “He kept raping me for two years... he told me...

Myanmar military seized weapons from Rohingya before launching deadly crackdown

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:06
The Myanmar military systematically prepared for attacks on Rohingya Muslims, confiscating knives and other sharp-edged tools, arming and training non-Muslim civilians and forcing Rohingya families to remove protective fencing from around their homes, the independent group Fortify Rights said on Thursday. The report by the Southeast Asian human rights group documented evidence that authorities prepared for a crackdown on the minority group living mostly in the country’s western Rakhine...

South Korea court orders US$177,000 compensation to victims of 2014 Sewol ferry disaster

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 06:54
A South Korean court ruled on Thursday that the government and the operator of the Sewol ferry, which sank in 2014 killing 304 people mostly school children, must compensate the victims’ families. The ferry was structurally unsound, overloaded and travelling too fast on a turn when it capsized off the southwest coast on April 16, 2014, South Korean investigators said, placing the nation in deep grief for months. A group of 354 members of the bereaved families of 118 students filed a...

Man accused of death threats against Malaysia’s king and PM Mahathir among seven held over suspected militant links

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 06:30
Malaysia has detained seven people for suspected militant-linked activities, including a man who allegedly made death threats against the country’s king and prime minister, police said on Thursday. The Muslim-majority country has been on high alert since gunmen allied with Islamic State (IS) militant group carried out a series of attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring Indonesia, in January 2016. Four Malaysians and three Indonesian men were arrested in four states between July 12...

Japan to send more patrol boats to remote islands favoured by Chinese poachers

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 06:03
The Japan Coast Guard is planning to deploy patrol ships to a small island about 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo, with the aim of strengthening the capability of cracking down on illegal foreign fishing boats, a government official said. Under the plan, an undecided number of patrol boats will be deployed on Chichijima in the Ogasawara Islands within a few years, while a shooting training range for coastguard personnel will be constructed by the fall of next year on Miyako Island in Okinawa...

Russian diplomat recommends easing of UN sanctions against North Korea as US seeks action

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 23:21
Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday that it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the UN Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang. “The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernise North Korea's energy system if sanctions were...

Top US diplomat says North Korea deal ‘may take some time’, sanctions to remain

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 21:29
Reaching a denuclearisation deal with North Korea “may take some time,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, reiterating that sanctions would continue to be enforced in the meantime, even as Russia’s envoy to Pyongyang proposed discussions on easing them. Speaking at a cabinet meeting led by US President Donald Trump, Pompeo, who held inconclusive talks in North Korea earlier this month, said progress had been made on some issues. “There’s a lot of...

Rescued Thai boys appear healthy during first media appearance

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 13:30
Twelve Thai boys and their football coach who were dramatically rescued from a flooded cave appeared healthy when they appeared before the media for the first time on Wednesday. The “Wild Boars” team members wore football jerseys when they entered the conference room in Chiang Rai province after being discharged from hospital. They played on a small makeshift pitch for a few minutes before taking their seats. Doctors have advised families of the players, aged 11 to 16, that they...

Australian scientists develop ‘world first’ melanoma blood test, allowing early detection

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 09:15
Australian researchers said Wednesday they have developed a blood test for melanoma in its early stages, calling it a “world first” breakthrough that could save many lives. The scientists, from Edith Cowan University, said the new test could help doctors detect the skin cancer before it spreads through a person’s body. “Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five-year survival rate between 90 and 99 per cent,” lead researcher Pauline...

Elon Musk apologises to British caver for ‘pedo’ slur

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 09:14
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has apologised to a British caver who was instrumental in the rescue of 12 children trapped in a Thailand cave for calling him a “pedo” on Twitter. The caver, Vernon Unsworth has said he was considering legal action against the billionaire entrepreneur. More to come …

Race for Russian warship’s ‘5,500 boxes of gold’ after wreck found in waters off South Korean island

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 08:53
Divers off the South Korean island of Ulleungdo have discovered the fabled wreck of the Dmitrii Donskoi, a Russian warship that was sunk in 1905 and is rumoured to still contain 5,500 boxes of gold bars and coins. The badly damaged Russian Imperial Navy cruiser was located by manned submersibles at a depth of 434 metres about 1.3km off Ulleungdo on Sunday morning. The Seoul-based maritime salvage company Shinil Group has been searching for the precise site of the wreck for several years and put...

When will North Korea denuclearise? Donald Trump now says there’s no ‘time limit’

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 05:54
US President Donald Trump said there was no hurry to denuclearise North Korea under his accord with Kim Jong-un – a shift in tone from when he said the process would start very soon. “Discussions are ongoing and they’re going very, very well,” Trump said. “We have no time limit. We have no speed limit.” Trump said he discussed North Korea with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday at their summit in Helsinki. “President Putin is going to be...

Six-storey building collapses into another outside Indian capital New Delhi, 3 dead

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 04:54
A six-storey building under construction collapsed onto an adjacent building east of the Indian capital, killing at least three people and trapping several others under the debris, police said on Wednesday. Chief Fire Officer Arun Kumar Singh said at least 12 workers were in the building at the time and are feared trapped under rubble, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The rescuers have so far found three bodies from the debris, police officer Ajay Pal Sharma said. The second...

How Japan’s departing ambassador Fumio Iwai conquered Iraqis’ hearts, with charm and social media

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 04:28
While foreign diplomats often struggle to win over ordinary Iraqis, Japan’s departing ambassador has stolen hearts - thanks to witty social media videos in classical Arabic and local dialects. Fumio Iwai has been in post in Baghdad for less than three years, but his fan base reaches far beyond the heavily fortified walls of the diplomatic Green Zone. Hundreds of thousands have been reeled in by his humble charm. And never more so than when the bespectacled and wiry ambassador recorded a...

Duterte confident China will be ‘fair’ when resolving maritime disputes

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 15:24
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence on Tuesday that China will be “fair” in eventually resolving its disputes with his country in the South China Sea. “I am sure that in the end, China will be fair and the equity will be distributed,” Duterte said during the groundbreaking ceremony for two China-funded bridges in Manila. He said he wants to give China ample time for the negotiations given that it is presently dealing with other individual bilateral...

Australia must stop separating refugee families, says UN

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:39
The United Nations voiced alarm on Tuesday at Australia’s decision to “actively and indefinitely separate” the family of a recognised refugee in the country by deporting her husband to Sri Lanka. The UN refugee agency warned that “the deportation overnight of the father leaves his Sri Lankan partner, who is a recognised refugee, alone with their 11-month-old daughter”. UNHCR said that before the deportation it had appealed to the Australian government to allow the...

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un visits factories near Chinese border as leader’s focus switches to economy

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:34
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently visited factories in a region close to the nation’s border with China, state media reported, as a Chinese official said he was keen to resume economic ties with the restive state. Kim made “field guidance” visits to construction sites, factories and a holiday camp in the North Korean border province of Hamgyong-bukto, the Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday. It did not say when he made the visits, but the report came a day...

India’s top court demands government act to stop lynchings

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 11:30
India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to enact a new law and stem what it called “horrendous acts” of lynching, after some 22 people were killed by mobs this year. Since February the country has seen a spate of mob lynchings, often in isolated areas where outsiders have been accused of child kidnapping and other crimes following fake rumours spread through WhatsApp mobile phone software. The latest incident saw a Google engineer killed in a mob attack last...

Bangladesh’s drug war death toll tops 200, rights group says

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 10:56
The death toll from Bangladesh’s contentious war on drugs since May has hit 200, a local rights group said on Tuesday, with some 25,000 others imprisoned. Bangladesh launched the crackdown to smash the surging trade in yaba, a cheap methamphetamine and caffeine pill, which authorities say has spread to almost every village and town. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan has said the crackdown will last until the narcotics trade is brought under control, saying those killed are all involved in at...

Malaysia’s king calls for unity amid racial tensions

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:51
Malaysia’s king has appealed for calm amid growing racial tensions in the Muslim-majority country after an electoral earthquake in May toppled the Malay-dominated coalition that had ruled the country for decades. In his inaugural address to lawmakers during the new parliament session, King Sultan Muhammad V urged “every citizen to preserve and strengthen” Malaysia’s “peace and unity.” Race, language and religion are closely intertwined with politics in...

Japan heatwave kills 14 people, 1400 taken to hospitals

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 08:12
An intense heatwave killed at least 14 people over a three-day long weekend in Japan, media reported on Tuesday, and high temperatures hampered the recovery in flood-hit areas where more than 200 people died last week. Temperatures on Monday, a national holiday, surged above 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) in some inland areas and combined with high humidity to produce dangerous conditions, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. At least 14 people died from the heat over the long...

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un scolds officials for dirty bathtubs, power station delays in ‘field guidance’ visits

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 07:35
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un berated officials during inspections of a factory, power station and holiday camp, state media reported Tuesday, with analysts saying the reports show nuclear-armed Pyongyang’s desire to focus on economic development. “Field guidance” visits by the leader are the mainstay of the North’s state media output, with Kim regularly shown giving “on-the-spot guidance” to attentive officials, their notebooks in hand. After his latest...

India orders all Mother Teresa care homes inspected after nun arrested in baby trafficking racket

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 07:14
India has ordered an immediate inspection of all childcare homes run by a religious order founded by Mother Teresa after a nun was arrested over an alleged adoption racket. Illegal adoption is big business in India, with over 100,000 children reported missing every year, the government says. Many are given up by desperately poor parents but others are snatched from hospitals and train stations. Police earlier this month arrested the nun and a worker at one of the Missionaries of Charity order...

Japan signs EU’s ‘biggest ever’ trade deal as Donald Trump puts up barriers

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 06:45
The European Union and Japan are signing the single market’s biggest trade deal ever and present a united front as Washington upends the international trade order. The signing in Tokyo for the deal, largely reached late last year, is ceremonial. It was delayed from earlier this month because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled going to Brussels over a disaster in southwestern Japan, caused by extremely heavy rainfall. More than 200 people died from flooding and landslides. EU...

Tesla shares fall and Elon Musk loses US$295 million after his baseless ‘pedo’ attack on Thai cave rescuer rattles investors

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 03:17
Four days after Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder urged “a time of quiet and peace,” chief executive Elon Musk lobbed one of his nastiest stink bombs yet: an accusation about an organiser of the Thailand cave rescue that investors say is a major distraction from his mission running the embattled carmaker. Vernon Unsworth, a British diver who played a key role in the saving of 12 boys trapped in a flooded cavern, had said Musk’s unattempted idea of dispatching a...

United Nations drops sanctions on military communications between North and South Korea

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 23:59
The United Nations committee on North Korea sanctions has approved a request by South Korea to allow military communication lines to be re-established between North and South Korea, a Security Council diplomat confirmed on Monday. As part of that process, the committee will permit the use of materials and equipment like fibre optic cables, buses, trucks, petrol, engine oil and transmission fluid in the restoration of the lines. North Korea has been subject to numerous rounds of sanctions...

Japan investigating abuse of health insurance system by foreigners

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 17:28
The Japanese government has begun a nationwide inquiry into foreign residents exploiting the country’s public health insurance system, according to sources familiar with the matter. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is checking with municipalities to investigate cases involving foreigners who joined public insurance by illegitimately obtaining residential status partly to skirt paying costly medical fees, the sources said. The ministry will compile the findings of the survey in the...

Sydney court shown harrowing video of death in custody of Aboriginal man

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 12:44
Shocking video footage of the death in custody of an Indigenous Australian man has been aired in court for the first time, depicting five officers restraining a man who said 12 times that he could not breathe. David Dungay Jnr died in 2016 while he was being held down by officers in a Sydney jail. An insulin-dependent diabetic, 26-year-old Dungay had been eating biscuits. Prison officers told him to stop and, after giving him a minute to comply, stormed his cell, restrained him face down and...

Call recorders keep phone scammers at bay, prevent Tokyo’s elderly being conned

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:02
Every elderly person in Tokyo is being issued with a free device that plugs into their home phone and issues a warning to would-be scammers that their call is being recorded. The initiative is the latest move in a campaign against cold callers who try to deceive people out of their life savings. Hundreds of the call recorders have already been installed in the homes of elderly people in the capital and authorities across the city’s 23 wards are aiming to have every pensioner connected to...

Has Australian media been muzzled by new ‘national security’ law that is scaring journalists into silence?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:11
New laws said to keep Australia safe from foreign meddling are preventing the media from reporting on Canberra’s own interference in one of its closest neighbours, according to critics, who argue the draconian regulations damage the country’s image and status in the region. In 2004, an Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) agent raised concerns internally about techniques Australia was using to get an advantage over East Timor. At the time, prime minister John Howard’s...

Malaysia’s 93-year-old PM Mahathir Mohamad returns to parliament for first time in 15 years

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 09:42
Malaysian lawmakers took their oath in parliament on Monday, including former premier Najib Razak, who has been charged in the massive corruption scandal that led to his coalition’s electoral defeat. The swearing-in ceremony of 221 lawmakers opened the first parliament session after Najib’s long-ruling coalition was ousted in May 9 elections, ushering in Malaysia’s first change of power since independence from Britain in 1957. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s...

Indonesian machete mob slaughters 300 crocodiles in revenge attack after man’s death

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 08:08
An angry mob has slaughtered nearly 300 crocodiles in Indonesia after a local man was killed by one of the reptiles, authorities said Monday. The revenge killing happened on Saturday in Papua province following the funeral of the man, who perished when he fell into an enclosure at a crocodile farm while looking for grass to feed his livestock, police and conservation officials said. The victim, identified as 48-year-old Sugito, was bitten on the leg and then fatally struck with a tail of one of...

Australian cave divers given diplomatic immunity in case Thailand rescue failed

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:32
Two Australian divers who helped extract the young football team trapped in a Thai cave obtained diplomatic immunity before the rescue in case it failed, national broadcaster ABC reported Monday. The “Wild Boars” team were stuck in the cave in northern Thailand for 18 days before Thai Navy Seals and international cave diving experts successfully removed them in a highly risky, three-day-long operation. Anaesthetist Richard Harris and his diving partner Craig Challen, both cave...

Who pays when Indonesian ride-sharing fraud goes full throttle?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 05:33
Ignasius Yoesrandewanto, a driver with Indonesia’s ride-hailing giant Go-Jek, was waiting for work recently at his usual spot in a bustling railway station in Jakarta when he got a request that would seem quite a challenge for the 34-year-old scooter operator. He was asked to deliver a locomotive. “I cancelled the order right away,” Yoesrandewanto told This Week in Asia. “You know it’s fake.” The story may be worth a chuckle, but such bogus auto-bid requests...

Ikea in India: more colour, less DIY, and no leather or meatballs at lifestyle giant’s first store – but will Scandinavian aesthetic sell?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 04:53
Having scrutinised the interiors of 1,000 homes in India to better understand how Indians live, Ikea is finally ready to sell its wares in the country. But when the Swedish retailing giant opens in Hyderabad on August 9 (to be followed by stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore), it won’t be just about the usual flat-pack furniture that has filled the homes of millions of people around the world. The chain will be trying to win over its newest market with more colour than usual, harder...

Huawei may beat Samsung to 5G in its own backyard

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 02:54
While Samsung Electronics Co. has become synonymous with technology in South Korea, a controversial rival could upstage it in the race to build fifth-generation wireless networks in its own backyard. Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese company slammed in the U.S. Congress as a security threat, is in the running to supply equipment to all three of South Korea’s national mobile carriers. At stake: initial contracts that could be worth 10 trillion won ($9 billion). Here’s what all the...

Elon Musk calls British diver in Thai cave rescue a ‘pedo’ in bizarre and baseless attack

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 01:26
Elon Musk came under fire on Sunday after launching an extraordinary attack on a British diver who helped rescue the boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, baselessly calling him a “pedo” on Twitter and then doubling down. Twelve boys and their football coach were rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex by an international team and after a week of intense drama. The chief executive of the tech giant Tesla offered to assist the rescue mission by providing a submarine. The...

Thai boys saved from cave weep as they learn Navy Seal died to free them

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 19:53
The 12 young soccer players rescued from a cave in northern Thailand paid homage Sunday to the former navy Seal who lost his life in the operation to save them. The boys, rescued a week ago after more than two weeks trapped in the partially flooded cave, remain quarantined in a hospital in Chiang Rai. They were not told of Seal Saman Kunan’s death until Saturday. Thai boys soccer team send messages to world from hospital beds “All cried and expressed their condolences by writing...

Rescued Thai boys will have to watch World Cup final on replay

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 12:23
Twelve boys and their soccer coach rescued from a flooded Thai cave will watch a recording of the World Cup final which takes place on Sunday, not the live broadcast, an official at the hospital they are staying in said. “Given that the final will be broadcast quite late our time, and we want the boys to rest and not to be looking at screens too much, we will probably record the final and show it to them later,” said the official at the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital. The official...

Arrests after Indian mob lynches man over WhatsApp child abduction rumour

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 12:07
Indian police said on Sunday they have arrested 25 people after a man was killed by a mob in the country’s latest lynching over suspicion of child kidnapping sparked by rumours on WhatsApp. The men were arrested over the murder of 27-year-old Mohammad Azam who was attacked along with two friends by a 2,000-strong mob in southern Karnataka state’s Bidar district late on Friday. Azam’s friends were critically injured in the assault that came days after the Facebook-owned...

US and North Korean officials meet again to discuss remains of soldiers killed in war

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 11:22
US and North Korean officials met on the inter-Korean border on Sunday to discuss the return of remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean war, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said. The repatriation of US remains was one of the agreements reached during an unprecedented summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June in Singapore. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the plan for talks after visiting Pyongyang this month, touting it as...

Highchairs and cuddles: how parliaments are catering for lawmaker mums

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 10:39
When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returns to parliament after becoming only the second elected leader in the world to have a baby in office, her daughter will be allowed to cuddle with her during debates and swim in the pool. Such access, almost non-existent even a year ago, spotlights a push by many countries to make their parliaments friendlier for children and their parents, as legislatures diversify and rules that can be surprisingly hostile to new parents are eased. “I...

Rights groups demand better treatment for Mongolia’s child jockeys, some of whom are as young as seven

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 09:36
At the opening of Mongolia’s traditional Naadam festival, red-cheeked child jockeys in brightly coloured outfits and helmets raced over the muddy steppe in a 24km endurance race, excitedly whipping their mounts. The festival held last week highlighted a sport that is a source of prestige in Mongolia, where nomadic families take pride in their children becoming jockeys and racing their horses. But the practice also faces criticism for putting children at risk and international...

With ratings plummeting, how long can Philippine President Duterte last? God knows

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 07:30
Tough-talking Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte must have known he was playing with fire when he called God a “son of a bitch” who is “really stupid” in a country where 80 per cent of the population is Catholic. His approval rating plummeted to a personal low of 45 per cent after the comments, according to local pollster Social Weather Stations’ “net satisfaction” survey released this week, down from a high of 66 per cent a year ago. Analysts said...

Is Japan a haven for parents who kidnap their own children?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 06:32
Walter Benda has only seen his two daughters once in the past 23 years. His wife disappeared from their California home in July 1995 after he had gone to work one morning, utterly unprepared for the disappearance of his family. After learning that his wife had travelled back to Japan, he received no help from Japanese authorities to find his daughters, despite the US government issuing an international arrest warrant against his wife for kidnapping. The one time he saw his daughters since was a...

China’s Myanmar policy: peace, conflict – whatever works

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 04:32
As Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week sought to make progress on ending decades of civil war by bringing the country’s military and myriad ethnic armed groups to the negotiating table, the influence of Myanmar’s looming neighbour, China, weighed large on proceedings. Although bringing peace was a campaign promise when Suu Kyi won landmark elections in 2015 and ended decades of absolute military rule, the country has witnessed some of the worst fighting in...

Can Singapore tame its property market with new rules?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 02:16
It is 11 on a Thursday night, and a private condominium show suite in Singapore’s Hougang district – a populous area in the northeastern side of the island – is unusually packed. Snaking queues stretch beyond the Riverfront Residences showroom, while cars are double-parked. Inside, bright lights and shouting flood the space. Wild-eyed property agents scramble frantically looking for clients lost in the crowd, while sweaty bankers with rolled-up sleeves hand out stacks of forms...

Thai boys soccer team who were rescued from cave send messages to the world from hospital beds

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 13:28
The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand are recovering well and are eager to eat their favourite comfort foods after their expected discharge from a hospital next week. In video messages of the boys shown at a news conference on Saturday, they are seen wearing surgical masks, a safeguard against infection that has been taken since the last of them were pulled from the Tham Luang cave on Tuesday, ending an 18-day ordeal. Doctors said that Friday, when...

South Korea to raise minimum wage, but small business groups reject decision

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 13:00
South Korea on Saturday decided to raise the minimum wage by 10.9 per cent to 8,350 won (US$7.40) an hour next year but a small-business group said it would refuse to comply because its members were already grappling with a slowing economy. South Korea’s labour-friendly President Moon Jae-in has pledged to raise the minimum wage by 55 per cent to 10,000 won per hour by 2020 as part of efforts to boost consumption and growth. After a 19-hour-long meeting, the Minimum Wage Commission agreed...

Sanctions fanning TB epidemic in North Korea, despite improved international ties

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 12:25
Dr O Yong-il swings open a glass door with an orange biohazard sign and points to the machine he hoped would revolutionise his life’s work. As chief of North Korea’s tuberculosis laboratory, O saw it as a godsend. Tuberculosis is North Korea’s biggest public health problem. With the American-made GeneXpert, his lab would be able to complete a TB test in two hours instead of two months. It took years, but O got the machines, only to discover GeneXpert needs cartridges he cannot...

Death by fake news: Indian authorities blame ‘irresponsible and explosive messages’ on WhatsApp for lynchings

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 09:51
The smartphone footage shows the two blood-soaked men pleading for their lives. Moments later they were dead, two more victims of lynchings sparked by rumours spread on Facebook and WhatsApp in India. The two men were young and well-educated. Gregarious, dreadlocked musician Nilotpal Das, 29, and his businessman friend Abhijeet Nath, 30, were both from Guwahati, capital of the northeastern state of Assam. On the fateful day last month when they were beaten to death by a crazed village mob...

For LGBT Indians, time to right a British-era wrong

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 07:30
India is contemplating the prospect of a major social revolution as a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court this week hears a raft of petitions challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which outlaws homosexuality. The law, a legacy of the British colonial era, criminalises “unnatural acts against the order of nature”, and has long been used to harass gay Indians. Since it makes non penile-vaginal intercourse illegal, even between consenting adults, the...

Confucius Institutes: China’s benign outreach or something more sinister?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 06:31
Soft power or sharp power? It’s almost inevitable that such catchy phrases are being used to describe the phenomenal worldwide spread of China’s Confucius Institutes in the past two decades. At last count, they have been set up in more than 140 countries and territories around the world, raising alarm among people already critical of China’s rise and global reach. Are those institutes benign vehicles for China’s projection of soft power to promote its language and...

At least 132 killed in Pakistan bombing as former prime minister returns home to begin jail sentence

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 04:16
At least 132 people were killed and dozens more critically injured on Friday, in a bombing at an election campaign rally in a remote region of Pakistan, an attack that hurled the country deep into political chaos. Officials blamed a suicide bomber for the killings and said the death toll could rise further. The bombing happened on the day former prime minister Nawaz Sharif made a dramatic return to Pakistan aboard a commercial plane and was immediately taken into custody along with his daughter...

In Mahathir’s Malaysia, no gay rights and no free speech

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 02:02
As Malaysia’s new government prepares for Monday’s parliament sitting – the first since the historic May 9 election – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his reform-oriented allies are facing sharp questions about whether they will renege on vows to improve the country’s dismal human rights record. Even before the start of the first legislative session, rights activists say the Pakatan Harapan bloc Mahathir leads is showing signs it won’t honour pledges to...

Japanese firms used foreign trainees for Fukushima clean-up

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 12:42
Four Japanese companies made foreign trainees who were in the country to learn professional skills take part in decontamination work after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government said on Friday. The discovery is likely to revive criticism of the Technical Intern Training Programme, which has been accused of placing workers in substandard conditions and jobs that provide few opportunities for learning. The misconduct was uncovered in a probe by the Justice Ministry conducted after three...

Asia in 3 minutes: Welcome to ‘the Philippines, China’; Indian man cuts short his world record

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 12:19
Mysterious ‘Province of China’ banners appear in the Philippines Banners calling the Philippines a “province of China” mysteriously appeared on bridges in Manila on Thursday, sparking fury on social media on what was the second anniversary of Manila’s victory over Beijing in a landmark arbitration case. The terms “province of China” and “South China Sea” trended prominently on Twitter, while news reports of the sudden appearance of the red...

Pakistan readies for return of disgraced ex-PM Nawaz Sharif

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 12:13
Disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be whisked away by helicopter to the federal capital of Islamabad when he returns on Friday to Pakistan from London to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, anti-corruption officials said. Sharif, set to arrive in the eastern city of Lahore at 6pm, will be accompanied by his daughter Mariam, who was sentenced to seven years in prison. The two were in London visiting Sharif’s ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted them...

The rise of armchair rulers: inside Australia’s micronation boom

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 09:53
Lounging on a sofa in his flowing robes, a gold crown resting on his snowy hair and a stuffed white toy tiger at his feet, Paul Delprat looks every bit a monarch. The 76-year-old is the self-appointed Prince of the Principality of Wy, a micronation consisting of his home in the northern Sydney suburb of Mosman. Micronations – entities that have proclaimed independence but are not recognised by governments – have been declared around the world. One of the latest is Asgardia, started...

IMF and other global banks are ready to work with North Korea, if it works with them

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 23:53
As North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un develops relationships with other nations through summit diplomacy, global financial institutions have shown a willingness to help him grow North Korea’s economy. The International Monetary Fund, with a lending capacity of nearly US$700 billion for its current 189 member countries, would “seek to be helpful” should North Korea want to join the institution, an IMF official told the South China Morning Post this week. “We hope that...

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