ASEAN IN FOCUS

Grandma Ca: the 99-year-old standing up to Vietnam’s coal rush

by Tran Thi Minh Ha, with Jenny Vaughan in Tuy Phong VIETNAM (AFP) — Toothless and nearly blind, grandmother Pham Thi Ca refuses to leave her plot of land even after bulldozers demolished her house — an extraordinary holdout against communist Vietnam’s deepening addiction to coal. The 99-year-old was offered money to move as authorities hoovered up land for a planned $2.6 billion Japanese-funded coal plant in the remote Van Phong Bay she has called […]

Indonesian police fire tear gas to break up election protest

JARATA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesian police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators in downtown Jakarta early Wednesday after a rally opposed to President Joko Widodo’s re-election, an AFP reporter said. The country’s election commission on Tuesday released official results that confirmed Widodo, 57, had beaten retired military general Prabowo Subianto for the presidency in a poll held on April 17. Subianto has said he would challenge the results in court, and warned that his claims […]

Indonesia’s Joko Widodo wins second term as president: elections commission

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has won a second term as president, beating out rival Prabowo Subianto, a retired general, by a 55.5 percent to 44.5 percent margin, the elections commission said. “This ruling was announced on May 21… and will be effectively immediately,” the commission’s chair Arief Budiman said in a live streamed announcement that was broadcast on major media. The commission had been expected to announce the official results of the […]

Indonesian court sentences French drug smuggler to death

MATARAM, Indonesia (AFP) — An Indonesian court Monday sentenced Frenchman Felix Dorfin to death for drug smuggling, in a surprise verdict after prosecutors asked for a 20-year jail term. “After finding Felix Dofin legally and convincingly guilty of importing narcotics … (he) is sentenced to the death penalty,” presiding judge Isnurul Syamsul Arif told the court in Lombok. © Agence France-Presse

Keyboard predators: Southeast Asia’s kids targeted by online paedophiles

  by Sophie DEVILLER and AFP bureaus Agence France Presse BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Southeast Asia is in the grip of a fresh surge of paedophile activity with predators orchestrating and watching abuse on live-streaming sites and via webcams, and paying for it with near-untraceable cryptocurrency, victims and children’s charities warn. With widespread poverty, lax laws, and creaking judicial systems, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines have long been seen as soft spots by […]

Ten drug smugglers sentenced to death in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — Vietnam has sentenced 10 people to death for smuggling meth, ketamine and ecstasy across the country by train, state media reported Friday as the communist country deepens its crackdown on drugs. The gang shifted 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of drugs from northern Vietnam to the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City between 2015 and 2016, according to state-run media on Friday. Five men and five women were given the […]

Vietnam launches tourism campaign to attract more Filipinos to visit country

  (Eagle News) – The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, in cooperation with the Embassy of Vietnam, has launched a campaign to further promote Vietnam as a tourist destination for Filipinos. Dubbed “Soulful Vietnam,” the campaign hopes to make Filipinos more aware of tourist spots in this Southeast Asian country which has seen increasing tourist arrivals in the past 10 years. “Last year, we had 150,000 Filipinos going to Vietnam. The Philippines is a very […]

Myanmar plane in emergency touchdown as landing gear fails

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) —  A Myanmar pilot saved the day after his aircraft’s landing gear failed, safely putting the jet on the runway with no front wheels on Sunday, an official said. The nail-biting touchdown — in which no one was hurt — was the second instance of a malfunctioning flight in less than a week within the country. Myanmar Airlines flight UB-103 — an Embraer-190 model — touched the ground at around 9:00 am […]

Eleven injured as plane slides off Myanmar runway

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Eleven people were injured as a plane slid off a runway while landing at Yangon airport in Myanmar Wednesday, police said, as a freak storm hit the city. Images on Facebook showed a crumpled Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane lying on the grass at the side of the runway. An AFP photographer saw an injured woman being carried to an ambulance on a stretcher. “One pilot, an air hostess and nine passengers […]

Myanmar frees two Reuters journalists after global outrage

  by Hla-Hla HTAY and Richard SARGENT Agence France Presse YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Two Reuters journalists jailed for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar walked out of prison on Tuesday, freed in a presidential amnesty after a vigorous global campaign for their release. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were mobbed by media as they stepped out of Yangon’s notorious Insein prison after more than 16 months in detention. Their December 2017 […]

King Maha Vajiralongkorn crowned Rama X of Thailand

by Aidan JONES and Sippachai KUNNUWONG King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Rama X of Thailand, was crowned Saturday in a dazzling show of pageantry, laced with Hindu and Buddhist ritual, vowing to reign “with righteousness” on behalf of the Thai people. Starting at the auspicious time of 10:09 am (0309 GMT), the public was granted a rare window into the cloistered halls of Thai power as the key rituals of the three-day coronation began. King Vajiralongkorn is […]

Vietnamese woman in Kim Jong Nam murder case freed

by Nicolas Anil KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — A Vietnamese woman who had been accused of assassinating the North Korean leader’s half-brother was freed from prison Friday, ending legal proceedings over the brazen killing after an often bizarre two-year saga. Kim Jong Nam, the estranged relative of Kim Jong Un and once seen as the heir apparent to the North’s leadership, died in agony after having his face smeared with a banned nerve agent as […]