ASEAN IN FOCUS

Vietnam readying for Kim train arrival next week: sources

Vietnamese authorities are preparing for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to arrive by train next week ahead of his summit with US president Donald Trump, several sources told AFP Friday. The leaders are slated to meet in Hanoi on February 27-28 to follow up on their first meeting last June in Singapore that ended with vaguely worded commitments on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Sources told AFP that Kim was expected to arrive by train […]

Pompeo to visit Philippines amid China flirtation

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel next week to the Philippines, the State Department said Friday, as the former US colony increasingly flirts with regional giant China. Pompeo will travel to Manila on February 28 and March 1 for talks with President Rodrigo Duterte, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said. The top US diplomat will be paying the visit on his way back from Hanoi where he is joining President Donald Trump for […]

Myanmar court sentences two to death for Muslim lawyer’s murder

by Hla-Hla HTAY Agence France Presse YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — A Myanmar court Friday sentenced two people to death for the murder of a Muslim lawyer and Aung San Suu Kyi advisor, after a drawn-out trial backlit by allegations of impunity with a main suspect still at large. Ko Ni, whose work and faith made him a target of hate speech online by Buddhist nationalists, was shot in the head at point blank range outside […]

Malaysia makes record 30-tonne pangolin seizure

Malaysian authorities have made a record seizure of about 30 tonnes of pangolins and their scales worth some $2 million in raids on major processing facilities, police and environmentalists said Tuesday. The haul included about 1,800 boxes full of frozen pangolins stuffed inside three refrigerated containers, 572 more frozen pangolins in six freezers, 61 live pangolins in cages, and 361 kilogrammes (795 pounds) of pangolin scales, according to police. The Southeast Asian nation is battling […]

Toppled Malaysian leader’s 1MDB trial delayed

Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak’s trial over a massive financial scandal that contributed to his government’s downfall was postponed Monday, in a blow to slow-moving efforts to bring the disgraced politician to justice. Najib had been due to go on trial Tuesday for the first time over allegations linked to his involvement in the looting of Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in a fraud that reverberated around the world. Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen […]

Thai princess disqualified from list of candidates for PM

Thai Princess Ubolratana was on Monday formally disqualified for running for prime minister, ending her brief and ill-fated political union with a party allied to the powerful Shinawatra clan, just days after a stern royal command rebuking her candidacy was issued by her brother, the king. Uncertainty and conjecture have coursed through Thailand since Friday when the Thai Raksa Chart party made the explosive announcement of Princess Ubolratana, King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s elder sister, as their […]

Refugee footballer makes triumphant return to Australia

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi made a triumphant return to Australia Tuesday, ending a two month ordeal that saw him jailed in Thailand and threatened with forced return to his native Bahrain. A throng of well wishers decked in #SAVEHAKEEM T-shirts cheered and sang the football anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as they greeted the 25-year-old defender at Melbourne Airport, after an overnight flight to freedom aboard Thai Airways flight 465. “I want to thank Australia” […]

Malaysia’s toppled leader to go on trial over 1MDB scandal

  KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia’s toppled leader Najib Razak will go on trial this week over an extraordinary financial scandal that contributed to the downfall of his long-ruling coalition and reverberated around the world. The former prime minister and his cronies are accused of stealing $4.5 billion from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in a mind-boggling fraud that stretched from Switzerland to the Seychelles. The money was purportedly used to fund a global […]

‘Don’t send me to Bahrain’: refugee footballer pleads in Bangkok

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — A refugee footballer fighting an extradition request pleaded for his freedom Monday, saying “please don’t send me to Bahrain” as he arrived in shackles at a Bangkok court, which extended his detention by another two months. Hakeem al-Araibi, a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident, fears torture and even death if he is returned to his homeland. Araibi, who has been held in Thai custody since November following Bahrain’s extradition request, arrived […]

Bangladesh to sue Philippine bank over $81 million cyber heist

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AFP) — Bangladesh will Wednesday file a lawsuit in New York against a Philippine bank over its involvement in one of the biggest-ever cyber heists, the country’s central bank governor said. Unidentified hackers stole $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve in New York in February 2016. The money was then transferred to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), swiftly withdrawn and laundered […]

EU hails peaceful conduct of Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite

The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in the Philippines: ┬áThe EU Delegation wishes to congratulate the Philippine Government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Commission on Elections for the generally peaceful conduct of the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite on 21 January 2019 before the second phase to be held on 6 February 2019. The creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is […]

Indonesia flood, landslide death toll rises to 26

MAKASSAR, Indonesia (AFP) — The death toll from flash floods and landslides in Indonesia jumped to 26, a disaster agency official said Thursday, as rescuers race to find still-missing victims. Thousands have been evacuated from their homes as heavy rain and strong winds pounded the southern part of Sulawesi island, swelling rivers that burst their banks and inundating dozens of communities in nine southern districts. Parts of the provincial capital Makassar have also been affected. […]