UPDATED: Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang dead at 61: state media

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang died Friday at age 61 after a prolonged and serious illness, state media reported. He passed away from a “serious illness despite devoted treatment by professors and doctors” both in Vietnam and abroad, the official Vietnam News Agency said. In office as president since April 2016 after more than four decades at the powerful Ministry of Public Security, Quang had a reputation as a tough leader with […]

Former columnist jailed for ‘abusive’ posts on Suu Kyi

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — A former columnist for state media has been jailed for seven years for “abusive” Facebook posts about Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a court official said Wednesday, the latest case threatening free expression in the country. Ngar Min Swe was sentenced for sedition on Tuesday, Yangon’s Western District Court spokesman Htay Aung told AFP. “He was convicted… for writing abusive posts on Facebook against State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, […]

Malaysia ex-PM arrested over $628 million linked to 1MDB, to be charged

by Sam Reeves Agence France Presse KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia’s toppled leader Najib Razak was arrested Wednesday and will be charged over allegations that $628 million linked to state investment fund 1MDB ended up in his personal bank accounts, officials said. Allegations that Najib and his cronies looted huge sums from the investment vehicle were a major factor in the shock defeat of his long-ruling coalition in elections in May, at the hands […]

7 Vietnamese dead, 5 in coma after taking drugs at music festival

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — Seven people have died and five others are in a coma after taking drugs at a dance music festival in Hanoi late Sunday, officials said, as investigators worked to identify the substance. The victims, who were all Vietnamese, “all tested positive for drugs,” deputy director of Hanoi police Nguyen Van Vien told reporters Monday. “Police are trying to figure out what type of drug it was,” he added. © Agence France-Presse

Malaysia’s Anwar closer to comeback in by-election

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim moved a step closer to completing his comeback from prison to the country’s top leadership Wednesday after a party-mate quit parliament, allowing him to contest a by-election. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who led Anwar’s party to a shock victory in May against Najib Razak, has vowed to hand over power to Anwar within two years. Anwar, 71, received a royal pardon and was freed from jail shortly after the victory, […]

ICC says can rule on Rohingya deportations from Myanmar

by Jan Hennop Agence France Presse THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — The International Criminal Court said Thursday it had jurisdiction to probe the forced deportation of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military as a possible crime against humanity. Some 700,000 people from the stateless Muslim minority have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh since August last year to escape a bloody military crackdown. The ICC’s “pre-trial chamber… decided by majority the court may exercise […]

Facebook to build $1 bn Singapore data center, first in Asia

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — Facebook said Thursday it will invest over $1 billion to build a data center in Singapore, its first in Asia, powered by renewable energy and adapted to the city-state’s tropical climate. The center is expected to be operational around 2022, and will host Facebook servers and centralize its IT operations, Thomas Furlong, Facebook vice president of infrastructure data centers, told reporters. The 170,000 square meters (1.83 million square foot) site in the […]

Suu Kyi’s image in shreds as Myanmar jails Reuters pair

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — The jailing of two Reuters journalists shreds what remains of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s reputation as a rights champion, critics say, after she failed to come to their defence or speak up for the persecuted Rohingya minority. Suu Kyi was once a staunch advocate for the free press and a darling of the foreign media. During her long years of house arrest under the former junta — which choked […]

UN in Myanmar calls for release of jailed Reuters journalists

by Richard Sargent and Hla-Hla Htay Agence France Presse YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Two Reuters journalists accused of breaching Myanmar’s state secrets law during their reporting of a massacre of Rohingya Muslims were jailed for seven years Monday, drawing outrage over the attack on media freedom and calls for their immediate release. Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who have been held in Yangon’s Insein prison since their arrest in December, were charged […]

Myanmar releases 75 more child soldiers: UNICEF

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Myanmar’s military has released 75 child soldiers, a UN agency said, its first discharge this year as part of a gradual process to end decades of forced recruitment of underage fighters. There are no concrete figures on how many children are still among the estimated 500,000 troops that serve in Myanmar’s military, or the ethnic rebel armies that it battles in the country’s border regions. The state’s army — also referred […]

Trump to skip Asian regional summits, Pence to travel instead

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump will not attend regional summits with Asian allies in November but will send Vice President Mike Pence instead, the White House announced Friday. Pence will travel to Singapore to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and the East Asia Summit, it said. He will then go on to Papua New Guinea for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, the White House said. […]

Myanmar rejects UN probe findings of Rohingya ‘genocide’

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Myanmar rejected Wednesday the findings of a UN probe alleging genocide by its military against the Rohingya, in a strident government response to a damning report on the crisis. Myanmar has come under immense pressure this week over last year’s military crackdown that pushed more than 700,000 of the Muslim minority into Bangladesh. On Monday, a UN probe detailed evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity “perpetrated on a massive scale” […]