ASEAN Perspectives

Indonesia makes criticizing politicians a crime

  JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesians could be jailed for criticizing national politicians under a new law which came into force Thursday, in what critics slammed as a major step back for the world’s third-biggest democracy. The vaguely worded bill passed the 560-member house last month but has just become official, over the objections of President Joko Widodo who refused to sign off on the controversial legislation. Widodo does not have veto power over the […]

Defense lawyers slam Malaysian police over Kim murder probe

  by M Jegathesan Agence France Presse SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AFP) — The Malaysian police’s investigation into the murder of the North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother was “shoddy” and could result in an unfair trial, a court heard Wednesday. Defence lawyers for two young women — Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong — charged with the Cold War-style killing of Kim Jong-Nam sought to discredit the manner in which the police conducted their […]

Murder shocks Filipinas in Kuwait, but some vow to stay

    by Salima Lebel Agence France Presse KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (AFP) — The murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait has triggered outrage and prompted Manila to impose a departure ban for its citizens planning to work in the Gulf state. But the estimated 252,000 Filipinos and Filipinas already working in Kuwait must weigh their fear of sharing the fate of Joanne Demafelis against the potential loss […]

Abuse or unemployment: stark choice for many Philippine domestics

  by Mynardo Macaraig Agence France Presse MANILA, Philippines (AFP) — After the murder of a Philippine maid in Kuwait, domestic helpers are streaming back to Manila with tales of abusive employers — but many are still prepared to take their chances overseas again. For them, the sometimes brutal conditions and the hide-and-seek with Kuwaiti police are outweighed by the need to provide for their families at home. “The mother of my boss, she would […]

UK’s Johnson meets Myanmar’s Suu Kyi on Rohingya crisis

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (AFP) — Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson met with Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar’s capital on Sunday to press for action on the Rohingya crisis, as the country faces mounting pressure to punish troops accused of atrocities against the Muslim minority. Johnson spoke with the embattled Myanmar leader, whose reputation among the international community has plunged over her handling of the crisis, in Naypyidaw while on a four-day tour in Asia. The meeting followed […]

Kim Jong Un’s sister arrives in South Korea for historic visit

by Hwang Sunghee Agence France-Presse PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AFP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister joined athletes and officials from around the world at the South’s Winter Olympics Friday, the first member of Pyongyang’s ruling dynasty to set foot in its rival since the Korean War. Kim Yo Jong was part of a diplomatic delegation led by the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam — the highest-level North Korean official ever to […]

Cambodia criminalizes criticism of king

  PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP) — Cambodia’s government on Friday approved the country’s first lese majeste law handing a five year sentence to anyone found guilty of insulting the king, a move rights groups fear will be used to target dissent. Unlike neighboring Thailand where royal defamation often results in decades in jail, Cambodia’s largely symbolic monarchy was not until now shielded from criticism. The law was adopted during a cabinet meeting chaired by premier […]

May arrives in China eyeing post-Brexit trade links

by Ben Dooley Agence France-Presse BEIJING, China (AFP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived in China on Wednesday as she seeks to bolster her country’s global trade links ahead of its contentious divorce with the European Union. May began her visit in the central industrial city of Wuhan and will be in China until Friday in what the Chinese foreign ministry has touted as a “historic visit.” Later on Wednesday, May will head to […]

Talks in Myanmar to ‘settle issues’ on Rohingya return

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Talks were held Monday to “settle issues” over the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, Bangladeshi officials told AFP, as doubts linger over how many of the 655,000 Muslim minority who fled violence are likely to return. Under diplomatic pressure, Myanmar has vowed to repatriate refugees driven into Bangladesh by an army crackdown last year, if they can verify they belong in western Rakhine state. But aid agencies question how many […]

North Korea says will attend Olympics in rival South

by Hwang Sunghee Agence France-Presse SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — North Korea said it was willing to send athletes and a high-level delegation to the forthcoming Winter Olympics in the South on Tuesday as the rivals held their first official talks in more than two years after high tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Seoul urged that reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War — one of the most emotive legacies of the […]

Top Brunei trade official and diplomat is new ASEAN Secretary-General

  (Eagle News) — A top trade official and diplomat from Brunei Darussalam, Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, assumed office as the 14th Secretary-General of ASEAN this year. SG Dato Lim Jock Hoi succeeded outgoing Secretary-General Le Luong Minh from Viet Nam who completed his term on 31 December 2017. He was until recently a Permanent Secretary at the Brunei Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry where he was involved as Brunei’s Chief Negotiator on the […]

Chinese gov’t report says China has expanded its islands in South China Sea

A new Chinese government report said China has “reasonably” expanded its islands in the disputed South China Sea and this year’s construction projects there, including radar facilities, covered about 290,000 square meters. The number was broadly similar to one provided by a United States think tank earlier this month. China has conducted extensive land reclamation work on some of the islands and reefs it controls in the South China Sea, including building airports, alarming its […]