The Southeast Asian Times
NEWS FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
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established 2000
Monday 20 September 2021
GATHERINGS:
An informed guidexto happenings throughout
the region.  

China calls emergency COVID-19 meeting with ASEAN in Laos
From News Reports:
Beijing, February 19: An emergency meeting of foreign ministers from China and the 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) that was proposed by China is to be held in Vientiane, Laos on Thursday and Friday to discuss the COVID-19 virus epidemic.
The COVID-19 virus has so far killed 1,869 and infected 73,336 in China and has spread to the 10 ASEAN member states.
The meeting that was proposed by China is reportedly intended to share information and to improve coordination between China and the 10 ASEAN member states in order to combat the COVID-19 virus.
China Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi is reportedly to discuss China's measures in countering the COVID-19 virus epidemic at the meeting in Laos, with focus on strengthening joint prevention and control measures against the virus.
The meeting is also to explore the idea of establishing a long term and effective collaboration mechanism on public health to safeguard the region, with China Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying " China and Asean countries have been in close communication since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.
Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, who will be attending the emergency COVID-19 virus epidemic meeting, said that the meeting will be an opportunity for the foreign ministers to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
"The meeting will help strengthen cooperation between ASEAN member states in the midst of this global health threat," he said.
His said that Cambodia's participation in the emergency meeting that was proposed by China will demonstrate Cambodia’s support of China and confidence in the measures taken by the China government to address the coronavirus outbreak.
The Southeast Asian Times


Vietnam opens consulate in Macau

From News Reports:
Hanoi, January 9: Vietnam's Hong Kong Consulate General launched a consulate office in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China on Friday, reports the Vietnam News Service.
Consulate General of Hong Kong, Tran Than Huan, said at the launching ceremony that the office aims to better ensure the rights of Vietnamese citizens and tourists in the region.
He said that the consulate office in Macau will provide easier access to information about Vietnam, saying that
it would boost friendship and co-operation between Vietnam and Macau.
The Consulate General said that the office expected to recieve support from local organisations including the Vietnam Fellow Countrymen Friendship Association in Macau.
More than 20,000 Vietnamse are employed as domestic workers, in the service industry at Macau's casino's.
Vietnamese also operate tourist and services companies.
The Southeast Asian Times

US invites Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary to the White House

From News Reports:

Hanoi, July 6, 2015: The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam will visit the United States from July 6 to July 10 at the invitiation of the United States State Department in a "landmark" visit, Rueters reports.
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong will meet United States President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
Rueters quotes a se
nior state department official saying that the meeting between the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the President of the United States "would skirt protocol" because the General Secretary is "not part of a government".
"Obama saw the visit as crucial", Rueters reports the senior state department official as saying.
Rueters also quotes the senior state department official saying that "there was a broad agreement that it made sense to treat General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong as the visit of "the top leader of the country".
"It's a pretty big event," Rueters quotes the state department official as saying.
The Southeast Asian Times

France agrees to return Aboriginal remains home to Australia
From News Reports:
Canberra, November 25: French president Francois Hollande and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have agreed to work together to return Aboriginal remains to Australia during the first official visit by a French head of state to Australia last week, reports Australian Associated Press.
The French head of state and the Australian prime minister said that a joint expert committee is to be established to help identify the origin of the Aboriginal remains held in France.
The head of state and prime minister said in a joint statement that the identification process would respect the sensitivities and values of the two countries and consider the requests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including the French legal system.
"The French government will examine possible solutions to enable the return of the Aboriginal human remains to their community of origin." the statement said.
Australia believes the remains of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are being held in Museum collections around the world including in Europe and the
United States.
In 2010 a British museum agreed to return 138 sets of Aboriginal skeletal remains to Australia including the severed head of Australian Aboriginal warrior, Yagan, to the Noongar of South West Western Australia after being missing in action for about 177 years. Yagan was shot dead for his resistance to British settlement on the Swan river.
The Southeast Asian Times


"No " to proposal to delete religion from Indonesian national identity card

From News Reports:
Jakarta, November 10: Islamic-based political party politicians oppose the proposal put by the newly selected Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, that national identity cards (KTP) do not include the religion of the car holder.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Aboebakar Al Habsy said that not to include the religion of the card holder on national identity cards (KTP)
contradicted the country’s founding philosophy of Pancasila
“If we believe that Pancasila is our state ideology and our national identity, then why should we be ashamed of including our religion on our national identity card," he said
Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo also proposed that the regious beliefs of Indonesian citizens be omitted from official government documents.
He said that the religion of Indonesian citizens on national identity cards (KTP) or in official government documents should not be imposed.
"It's up to the people", he said.
The Souheast Asian Times

The Wolf bridge: An insult to Thai monarchy
From News Reports:
Bangkok, October 31: Thai University students, Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Pornthip Mankong, 26, were charged in the Ratrachada Court on Monday, with defamation of the Thai monarchy in a play titled "The Wolf Bridge" performed at the Thammasat university in October 2013, reports the Bangkok Post.
The students were charged with insulting the Royal Thai family in the fictional depiction of the monarchy in a play performed in commemoration of the 37th and 40th anniversaries of the October 6, 1976 and October 14, 1973 pro-democracy student uprisings at Thammasat University.
The prosecution cites nine passages from the plays's script, a work of fiction that depicts a fictional monarch, that allegedly insults the monarchy and as such is in violation of the lese majeste law.
Patiwat Saraiyaem, actor and Pornthip Mankong, producer of the play, in detention since arrested on 13 August, have been refused bail are scheduled to appear in court to enter pleas on December 29.
The Southeast Asian Times

World including
Asean PM's and Presidents to attend inauguaration of Indonesian president
From News Reports:
Jakarta, October 18: World Prime ministers, Presidents and State representatives including US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will attend the inauguaration of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as President of Indonesiaon on Monday.
The speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Zulkifli Hasan said that representatives from the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member nations have also been invited to attend the swearing in of the former governor of Jakarta, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as president of Indonesia.
"The Prime Ministers and Presidents of Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea are also expected to attend", he said.
He said that the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) has also invited "domestic VIP's" including former Presidents and Vice-Presidents.
“All chairpersons of political parties have also be invited,” said the speaker.
The Southeast Asian Times


Banned ISIS flag found flying in Aceh

From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 12: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) flag found flying from a coconut tree in Aceh on Sunday has been torn down, reports the Jakarta Post.
The discovery of the banned ISIS flag was reportedly the first in Aceh.
Police chief First Inspecter Azwan said that the flag of the nationally banned movement was discovered by chess players sitting at a food stall near the coconut tree in the Sungai Raya district of East Aceh regency in Aceh.
He said that a bomb disposal team inspected the area before the flag was taken down.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced Indonesia's rejection of the State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and banned the teaching of ISIL ideology in Indonesia last month at his parliamentary state-of-the-nation address and ahead of the 69th anniversary of Indonesias Independence.

The Southeast Asian Times


Singapore passes Trans- boundary Haze Pollution Act

From News Reports:
Singapore, August, 18: The passing of the 2014 Trans-boundary Haze Pollution Act by the Singapore parliament last week will enable Singapore regulators to sue individuals or companies in neighbouring countries for causing severe air pollution in Singapore.
The Act that was first proposed in 2013 would enable Singapore to impose fines of up to S$2 million on companies that cause or contribute to transboundary haze pollution in Singapore.
Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that under the Act, Singapore will have the legal right under the Objective Territorial Principle to take legal action against air polluters.
"While neighbouring countries have the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources in accordance with their policies they also have a responsibility to ensure that "slash and burn" agricultural practices do not cause damage to Singapore", he said.
The passing of the 2014 Trans-boundary Haze Pollution Act gives Singapore the legal power to serve notices on those that do not have assets or a presence in Singapore.
Indonesia is yet to ratify an Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution that was signed by ASEAN member counries in November 2003 in order to
address haze pollution arising from land and forest fires.
A bill passed in the Indonesian House of Representatives in July 2013 gave the Indonesian goverment the power to seize assetts gained from illegal logging and illegal clearing of forests for palm oil plantations.
The new bill, designed to protect more than 13 million hectres from deforestation, gave the Indonesian government a mandate to establish a task force including police to monitor the prevention and eradication of deforestation.
The Southeast Asian Times

Papua Biak massacre remembered in Sydney
with 136 white carnations
From News Reports:
Sydney, July 5: A ceremony to mark the 16th anniversary of the Biak Massacre in West Papua ua on 6 July 1998 will be held at the Waverley Cliffs cemetery in Sydney on Sunday.
The Waverley Cliffs community will throw 136 white carnations from the waverley cliffs into the Pacific Ocean in memory of the Biak massacre.
A citizens tribunal, hosted by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney last year on the 15th anniversary of the Biak massacre found that 136 West Papuan protesters were thrown into the sea by Indonesian security forces.
The tribunal heard eye witness testimony that the West Papuan demand for the right to vote for independence from Indonesia was met with gunfire by Indonesian security forces.
Survivors of the massacre told the international team of jurists that the unarmed West Papuan protesters were surrounded and shot by Indonesian security forces and that survivors were thrown into the sea on 6 July 1998.

The Southeast Asian Times


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Malaysia warns Australia's nuclear submarines could provoke a nuclear arms race in Indo-Pacific

Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob fears that the new Indo-Pacific alliance AUKUS would work in cooperation to build nuclear-powered submarines in Australia
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, September 19: Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned on Sunday that the new Indo-Pacific alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, AUKUS, formed to build nuclear submarines in Australia, could provoke a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region, reports the New Straits Times.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that Malaysia feared that the new Indo-Pacific alliance AUKUS that would work in cooperation to build nuclear-powered submarines in Australia that includes the rotational deployment of U.S. military aircraft to Australia "would provoke other powers to also act aggressively in the region."
"Malaysia fears that the new Indo-Pacific alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, AUKUS, would provoke China to act aggressively in the South China Sea", he said.
He said that Malaysia as a member nation of ASEAN subscribes to the principle of maintaining ASEAN as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).
"Malaysia would abide by the existing stand on nuclear-powered submarines operating in Malaysian waters including under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) and the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ)." he said.
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton, said following the announcement at the State Department in Washington DC, on Thursday that the Indo-Pacific alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, AUKUS, formed to build nuclear-powered submarines in Australia, "would significantly enhance Australia's Force Posture Cooperation and Alliance Integration, increase interoperability and deepen alliance activities in the Indo-Pacific."
He said that Australia remains committed to fulfilling all of its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying "Australia, United Kingdom and the United States AUKUS are deeply committed to upholding our leadership on global non-proliferation."
China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Zhao Lijian said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday following the announcement in Washington DC., of the newly formed Indo-Pacific alliance that Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, AUKUS, has introduced nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value.
The Southeast Asian Times


Australia's cancellation of submarine contract is a stab in the back, says France

French President Emmanuel Macron greets Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Paris on June 15, 2021
From News Reports:
Canberra, September 19: France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia following the announcement at the State Department in Washington DC, on Thursday that the newly formed strategic Indo-Pacific alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States AUKUS would build nuclear powered submarines in Australia, cancelling a multi-billion-dollar contract for conventional French submarines, with France saying Australia's cancellation of the $40 billion submarine contract "was a stab in the back," reports Reuters.
France Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said President Emmanuel Macron received a letter from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday cancelling the convention French submarine contract, saying "we built a relationship of trust with Australia and this trust was betrayed."
"This is not done between allies." he said.
He said the decision to recall the envoys was at the request of President Emmanuel Macron, saying "the recall of the envoys is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made by Australia and the United States."
Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, announced on Thursday that the newly formed strategic Indo-Pacific alliance, AUKUS, would build nuclear-powered submarines in Australia, with Australia's Defence Minister, Peter Dutton, saying that the partnership "would enhance Australia's Force Posture Cooperation and Alliance Integration in the Indo-Pacific,"
France Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the cancellation of the contract for conventional French submarines and the newly formed strategic Indo-Pacific alliance between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States AUKUS "concerns the very nature of the relationship between Europe and the United States Indo-Pacific strategy."
"France has pushed for several years for a European strategy for boosting economic, political and defence ties in the region from India and China to Japan and New Zealand," he said.
He said that France was about to take over the presidency of the European Union, saying that the European Union had released its strategy for the Indo-Pacific on Thursday, pledging to seek a trade deal with Taiwan and to deploy ships in the region to keep sea routes open.
“This is a crisis,” he said.
"The submarine program between France and Australia was a very important and critical componant in the European Indo-Pacific strategy," he said.
He said that France would fight Australia's move to cancel the submarine contract, saying "this is not over".
"The Australians need to tell us how they are getting out of the contracts," he said.
We have an intergovernmental deal that we signed with great fanfare in 2019, with precise commitments, with clauses.
The Southeast Asian Times

Australia's nuclear submarine development would undermine regional peace, says China

Australian Minister of Defense Peter Dutton, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the State Department in Washington, U.S., Thursday September 16, 2021
From News Reports:
Canberra, September 17: Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, announced at the State Department in Washington DC, on Thursday that the newly formed security partnership, AUKUS, would cooperate to develop nuclear-powered submarines in Australia, with Australia's Defence Minister saying that the partnership "would enhance Australia's Force Posture Cooperation and Alliance Integration in the Indo-Pacific," and with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that nuclear power submarine cooperation between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, (AUKUS) would undermine regional peace and stability, reports Reuters.
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton, said that the partnership that includes the rotational deployment of all U.S. military aircraft to Australia, "would significantly enhance Australia's Force Posture Cooperation and Alliance Integration, increase interoperability and deepen alliance activities in the Indo-Pacific."
He said that the AUKUS security partnership would include greater air cooperation through rotational deployments of all types of U.S. military aircraft to Australia.
"Australia is committed to the highest standards for safeguards, transparency, verification, and accountancy measures to ensure the non-proliferation, safety, and security of nuclear material and technology." he said.
He said that Australia remains committed to fulfilling all of its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying "Australia, United Kingdom and the United States AUKUS are deeply committed to upholding our leadership on global non-proliferation."
China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Zhao Lijian said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday that nuclear submarine cooperation between Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, (AUKUS) would undermine regional peace and stability, intensify the arms race and undermine international non-proliferation of nuclear weapons efforts.
"Australia as a non-nuclear weapon state under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, has introduced nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value, he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Singapore publication defames PM, has license suspended

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon: The Singapore High Court ordered The Online Citizen (TOC) social-political publication to pay compensation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon for an article published in TOC in 2019
From News Reports:
Singapore, September 17: The Online Citizen (TOC) social-political publication, that published an article that the Singapore High Court ruled had defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon, has had its licence to publish suspended by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for not declaring all sources of funding, reports Reuters.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) suspended The Online Citizen's (TOC) class licence to run its website and social media channels, saying the social-political online publication has repeatedly failed to comply with its legal obligation to declare all sources of funding including donations from abroad.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said that The Online Citizen (TOC) publication was required to stop posting content on its website and social media channels immediately, saying "if TOC continues to operate while in breach of the requirements, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will take steps to block access to TOC in Singapore."
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said that if The Online Citizen (TOC) social-political publication does not declare all sources of funding including donations from abroad its class licence will be cancelled on September 28, 2021, saying that The Online Citizen (TOC) publishers are liable under the Broadcasting Act.
Earlier this month the Singapore High Court ordered the editor and a reporter of The Online Citizen (TOC), to pay Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon compensation for an article published in 2019, saying "the article impugned Lee's reputation and character."
Judge Audrey Lim said that the article published in The Online Citizen (TOC) titled "PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares an article on cutting ties with family members" has impugned Lee’s reputation and character by alleging he was dishonest.
Judge Audrey Lim said that the article "struck at the heart of Prime Minister Lee’s personal integrity," saying "the article could severely undermine his credibility not just personally but also as the Prime Minister and call into question his fitness to govern with integrity."
Senior Counsel Davinder Singh for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon argued that the article published in The Online Citizen (TOC) had gravely injured the Prime Minister's reputation, saying that the article included accusations that the Prime Minister had not carried out the wishes of his late father, former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, as stated in his will.
The late former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew stated in his will that he wanted his home that he had lived in for more than seventy years at 38 Oxley Road house, Singapore, demolished, saying "that the house was to be torn down in order to avoid the building of a personality cult."
The Southeast Asian Times


Thai chief government whip indicted for corruption in construction of futsal football fields

Chief government whip, ruling Palang Pracharath Party Member of Parliament, Wirach Ratanasate, charged with corruption at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in absentia on Tuesday September 14, 2021
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 16: Thailands Members of Parliament, were among 87 indicted at the Supreme Court Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions for corruption in the construction of futsal football fields in Thailand's provinces in 2012, reports the Bangkok Post.
Chief government whip, ruling Palang Pracharath Party Member of Parliament, Wirach Ratanasate, his wife, ruling Palang Pracharath Party Member of Parliament, Thassaneeya, her sister, Thassanaporn Ketmetheekarun, and 84 others including politicians and high ranking Ministry of Education officials, were charged with embezzling funds from the 2012 Ministry of Education budget for school repairs.
The politicians and others were charged for their involvement in policy-oriented corruption that included diverting funds from the Bt470.billion Ministry of Education budget that had been inflated by Bt60 billion.
The Ministry of Education funds were diverted for the construction of 56 futsal football fields in 18 provinces including in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
Chief government whip, ruling Palang Pracharath Party Member of Parliament, Wirach Ratanasate and his wife ruling Palang Pracharath Party Member of Parliament, Thassaneeya, are both constituents of Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
The charges also inlude setting bidding conditions in order to prevent fair competition and violating the law on tending bidding for the construction of the futsal footbal fields that were to be completed for the 2012 Fifa Futsal World Cup between Thailand and Costa Rica.
Chief government whip, ruling Palang Pracharath Party Member of Parliament, Wirach Ratanasate and his wife Thassaneeya, were indicted for corruption at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Tuesday in absentia.
The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), deputy spokesman, Prayuth Phetkhun said that Members of Parliament, Wirach Ratanasate and his wife Thassaneeya, failed to attend the hearing at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, saying "the Members of Parliament cited their parliamentary duties in their request for not attending the hearing on Tuesday."
He said that three others also did not attend the hearing on grounds of the Covid-19 pandemic,
saying "none have contracted the virus."
"Prosecutors rejected reasons given for failure to attend the hearing," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Philippines government favours Taiwan company over local company in supply of Covid-19 equipment

Senator Panfilo Lacson called on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp to explain to the Blue Ribbon Senate Committee inquiry on Monday how the company was able to secure contracts with the government Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS)
From News Reports:
Manila, September 15: The Philippine Blue Ribbon Senate Committee inquiry into the Department of Health (DOH) expenditure of P72.5 billion , accused the government on Monday of favouring Taiwan based Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp for the supply of Covid-19 protective equipment sets (PPEs), accusing the company of overpricing, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
Senator Panfilo Lacson accused the government Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) of favouring Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp in the supply of Covid-19 protective equipment sets (PPEs) inluding face masks and protectve shields when local suppliers were able to supply Covid-19 protective equipment.
He called on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp to explain to the Blue Ribbon Senate Committee inquiry how the company was able to secure contracts with the government Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS).
He called on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp to explain how a small company was able to secure contracts totalling P12 billion from the Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) for the supply of protective equipment sets (PPEs) including face masks and protective shields over the last two years.
" Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp secured huge contracts from the Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) amounting to P.8.6 billion in 2020 and P, 2.886 billion in 2021, totalling almost P12 billion from 2020 to 2021," he said.
He said that P12 was a "huge chunk" of the P42 billion that the Department of Health (DOH) had transferred to the Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) who contracted Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp to supply Covid-19 test kits and personal protective equipment sets (PPEs) including face masks and protective shields.
He said that Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp contracts with the Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) included the purchase of two million Covid-19 test kits and personal protective equipment sets (PPEs) for P1.150 per set and sold the set for P1,910.
"Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp made a profit of P760 per set a total of at least P1.5 billion," he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson called for an audit of the Department of Health (DOH) transfer of P42 billion that the Department of Health (DOH) transferred to the Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS), saying "most of the P 42 billion is on loan to the Department of Health (DPH) and will have to be paid by future generations of Filipinos," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Assassination of Indonesian human rights lawyer to go to World Court of Human Rights

In 2019 Suciwati, widow of human rights lawyer, Munir Said Thalib, called on President Joko Widodo to reveal the results of the 2005 fact-finding team (TPF) investigation into his assassination in 2004
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 14: The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has formed a team to determine if there was a serious violation of international human rights law in the assassination of human rights lawyer, Munir Said Thalib, in 2004, with the commissioner saying "if there's enough preliminary evidence we will proceed to the World Court of Human Rights, reports the Jakarta Post.
National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) Commissioner, Sandrayati Moniaga, said that the team that would determine if a humanitarian crime was committed in the assasination of Munir Said Thalib, 29, would be formed based on Law Number 39/199 on Human Rights.
"If the team finds sufficient preliminary evidence it will proceed to the World Court of Human Rights in accordance with Law Number 26/2000," she said.
She said that the team would collect all existing material including the 2005 fact-finding team (TPF) report into the investigation of the assassination of Munir Said Thalib that revealed the involvement of the State Intelligence Agency.
In September 2020 Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, called on President Joko Widodo to release the results of the 2005 fact-finding team (TPF) into the investigation of the assassination of Munir Said Thalib, saying that " the report revealed the involvement of the State Intelligence Agency."
Civil rights lawyer, Munir Said Thalib, 39, who was the founder of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, revealed that Indonesian Army Special Forces, or Kopassus, soldiers had helped abduct 13 critics of the then Soeharto government between 1997 and 1998.
Munir Said Thalib, 39, was assassinated aboard a Garuda Airways flight while travelling from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore on September 7, 2004.
Dutch forensic scientists found that he had ingested enough arsenic to raise suspicion that he had been poisoned during his journey.
Former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy director, Muchdi Purwopranjono, who was formally Kopassus Commander Major General, was reportedly involved in an alleged “Rose Team” military campaign that led to the elimination of opponents of Indonesia’s “New Order” government.
Muchdi Purwopranjono went on trial for the murder of Munir Said Thalib before the South Jakarta District Court in 2008 but was found not guilty by three judges for assigning an agent to poison the civil rights lawyer following the absence of key witnesses for the prosecution.
In January 2008 judges of the Indonesian Supreme Court found off-duty Garuda Airways pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, 57, who was reportedly employed by the National Intelligence Agency or BIN, guilty of the murder of the civil rights lawyer and sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment.
The judges also found Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto guilty of falsifying documents that allowed him to travel as a corporate security employee aboard the Garduda Airways flight that carried Munir to his death en route to Amsterdam via Singapore.
In January 2009 special rapporteur for Judicial Independence and the Human Rights Council's working group for forceful disappearances coordinator, Raffendy Jamin, said Munir Said Thalib’s murder was to be included on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Assembly.
The Southeast Asian Times

Indonesia's Densus 88 anti-terror squad arrests anti-Pancasila Jamaah Islamiya (JI) suspected terrorists

Indonesia's Densus anti-terror squad arrested suspected Jamaah Islamiya (JI) terrorists in Grogol, West Jakarta, North Bekasi, West Java and Jelambar, West Jakarta on Friday, September 10, 2021
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 13: The arrest of three suspected Jamaah Islamiya (JI) terrorists, who are against Indonesian state ideology, Pancasila, and anti the Republic of Indonesia, follows the arrest by Indonesia's Special Detachment Densus 88 anti-terror squad arrest of 53 suspected terrorists last month, with Insp. Gen. Martinus Hukom saying "the Covid-19 pandemic has not diminished acts of terrorism by the Jamaah Islamiya (JI), reports Tempo.
Indonesia's Special Detachment Densus 88 anti-terror squad, spokesman, Comr. Ahmad Ramadhan, said that the three suspected Jamaah Islamiya (JI) terrorists were arrested in Grogol, West Jakarta, in North Bekasi, West Java and in Jelambar, West Jakarta on Friday, saying "one of the suspects
is an official of the Jamaah Islamiyah's Shura Council."
Indonesia's Special Detachment Densus 88 anti-terror squad, Insp. Gen. Martinus Hukom, said that the 53 suspected terrorists were arrested over 11 provinces in the week before Indonesian Independence Day on August, 17,
saying "the Covid-19 pandemic has not diminished acts of terrorism by the Jamaah Islamiya (JI) group "
He said that the Jamaah Islamiya (JI) group have exploited the Covid-19 pandemic in order to carry out acts of terrorism, saying "the Jamaah Islamiya (JI) group used the pandemic as a trigger to motivate terror groups."
He said that the Special Detachment Densus 88 anti-terror squad conducted a massive and continuous operation against the Jamaah Islamiya (JI) group in August, saying the anti-terror squad found that the 53 anti-state ideology, Pancasila, and the Republic of Indonesia, terrorist suspects were making bombs in Brebes, Kendal and Ambon.
"Three of the 53 arrested were from the new Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terror group and 50 were from the Jamaah Islamiya (JI) terrorist group," he said.
In December 2020 Indonesia's Special Detachment Densus 88 anti-terror squad arrested Aris Sumarsono known as Daud, Zaenal Arifin or Abdulrahman Zulkarnaen in Sumatra for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings, with police saying that Aris Sumarsono conducted special training courses in bomb making for Jemaah Islamiyah (JL)
Aris Sumarsono allegedly headed the intelligence and military training section of Jemaah Islamiyah’s (JI) central command and was authorized to launch terrorist attacks that included the Jakarta Marriott Hotel that killed 12 people in 2003 and the 2002 bombing in Bali of the US Consulate in Denpasar, Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club in Kuta Beach that killed 202 from 21 countries including 88 Australian tourists.
In January 2021 Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba`asyir, 81, the spiritual leader of Al-Qaeda-affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), who was found guilty by the South Jakarta District Court in 2011 for organising acts of terror,
was released from Gunung Sindur prison in Bogor, West Java Province after pledging loyalty to state ideology, Pancasila, and the Republic of Indonesia.
Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba`asyir's arrest in 2012 was the third effort since 2000 to have him convicted for terrorism.
He served almost 26 months in jail before he won his appeal in 2006 against his conviction for conspiracy following the Bali bombings of 2002 in which more than 200 people, most of them Australians, were killed.
The Southeast Asian Times


China calls on Vietnam to effect RCEP free trade agreement in mutual support for socialist cause

China State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Ph?m Bình Minh co-chaired the 13th meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation held in the Hanoi on Friday, September 10, 2021 in mutual support for the socialist cause
From News Reports:
Hanoi, September 12: China called on Vietnam to put the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) into effect at the 13th meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation held in the Hanoi on Friday, with agreement for mutual support for the socialist cause, reports Xinhua.
China State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister, Pham Binh Minh, who co-chaired the 13th China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation meeting agreed to mutual support for the socialist cause in the discussion on trade cooperation and Covid-19 vaccine assistance.
China and Vietnam agreed to the strengthening of bilateral coordination and cooperation in international affairs in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam and China on the establishment of the Viet Nam - China Trade Facilitation Cooperation Group.
China State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said that working together is a natural strategic choice, saying "China and Vietnam being socialist neighbours has given bilateral ties profound meaning."
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement negotiations was signed by 15 countries including the 10 member states of ASEAN and five partners, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Korea but excluding India in Hanoi on November 15, 2020 after eight years of negotiations.
Premier Li Keqiang said in Beijing at the 23rd China-ASEAN leaders online meeting ahead of the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that the free trade agreement would build a joint China-ASEAN fast track regional trade network, saying China-ASEAN two-way trade has increased."
"China's investment in ASEAN member countries surged by more than 70 percent this year, he said.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) show that the trade balance for the 10 ASEAN member countries would deteriorate after the implemintation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement while exports from Japan, China and South Korea would increase, saying "the RCEP free trade agreement would accelerate the shift of industrial production bases to China."
The shift of production to China would result in a hollowing-out of domestic industry, said the report.
The Southeast Asian Times


Terrorist, murderer among 44 inmates burnt to death in Indonesian prison fire

Fire engulfs the Tangerang Prison in Indonesia's Banten Province on Wednesday, believed caused by an electrical short circuit
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 11: The fire that engulfed the overcrowded Tangerang Prison in Indonesia's Banten Province on Wednesday has claimed a further three inmates bringing the total deaths to 44 with more than 70 injured, with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights saying the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit, reports Reuters.
Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly, said that the fire that engulfed the Tangerang Prison broke out at Block 2C at about 1.45am on Wednesday, saying "the block was built to hold 38 inmates but held 122 drug offenders."
He said that the Class I Tangerang Prison that was built in 1972 to hold a total of 600 inmates now held 2,072, saying "the Tangerang prison is 400 percent overcapacity."
He said that two foreign nationals from South Africa and Portugal, were among the 44 inmates who died in Block 2C, saying that the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and related embassies are working together to notify their families.
"Of the 44 inmates who died, one was a convicted terrorist, one a convicted murderer, and others were drug offenders," he said.
Police are conducting an investigating into the cause of the fire believed to have been caused by an electrical short circuit in Block 2C of the prison, with Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly, saying "there has been no electrical repairs at the prison since it was built."
He said that Block 2C was locked according to proceedures when the fire broke out, saying "the fire spread quickly.
"Some cells couldn't be opened," he said.
The Fire and Rescue Department deployed 12 firefighter trucks to the prison 13 minutes after receiving a distress call, with the blaze put out in one and a half hours.
The Southeast Asian Times

Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar denies agreement with ASEAN for four-month ceasefire

Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar appointed Foreign Minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin, fourth row, fourth from left, attends the Pledging Conference hosted by ASEAN on August 18, 2021 in support of ASEAN’s Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar to be delivered through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre)
From News Reports:
Naypyitaw, September 10: The Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar has not accepted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) proposal for a four-month ceasefire, with Major General Zaw Min Tun saying that the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar Foreign Minister has not said that he agrees to the ASEAN Special Envoy's proposal for a ceasefire, reports Irrawaddy.
The Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar, Major General Zaw Min Tun, said on Monday that the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, has not said that Myanmar has agreed to the proposal made by ASEAN Special Envoy, to Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, for a ceasefire in order to enable delivery of humanitarian aid to Myanmar.
"The Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar will not block humanitariant assistance or bar the visit of ASEAN special envoy, Erywan Yusof,
to Myanmar," he said.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Special Envoy to Myanmar, reported on Saturday that the proposal for a ceasefire in order to enable delivery of humanitarian aid through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) to the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar has been accepted.
ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Brunei Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erywan Yusof, who was appointed Special Envoy last month, said that the proposed four-month ceasefire was accepted by Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar appointed Foreign Minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin, on August 31, 2021
"The ASEAN proposal for a four-month ceasefire by all sides in Myanmar's conflict is an attempt to enable the delivery of the first batch of humanitarian assistance to Myanmar," he said.
The National Unity Government (NUG), that was founded by the National League for Democracy (NLD) members of parliament after the takeover of the elected government by the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar in February 2021, says the conflict in Myanmar was political.
The National Unity Government (NUG), Human Rights Minister, U Aung Myo Min, said that the current turmoil in Myanmar was political, saying "humanitarian issues should be dealt with later."
He said that the National Unity Government (NUG) understands that the ASEAN special envoy wants to provide humanitarian assistance quickly and effectively, saying "but the human rights violations by the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar persist and these abuses should not be forgotten."
In April ASEAN member state leaders including the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar, Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing, but excluding Win Myint, President of the newly formed civil National Unity Government (NUG), reached concensus on a five point plan including the cessation of violence, with spokesman for the newly formed civil government saying that the National Unity Government (NUG) looked forward to firm action by ASEAN.
ASEAN member states reached agreement for the immediate cessation of violence in Mynamar in the first of the five point agreements that demanded the immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar calling on "all parties to exercise utmost restraint" with ASEAN leaders calling for a commitment from commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing to restrain his security forces.
The National Unity Government (NUG) deputy foreign minister, U Moe Zaw Oo, rejected the first of the five point plan that demanded the immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and that called on "all parties to exercise utmost restraint," saying that "unarmed civilians are not committing violence."
He said that to the call on protesters who are against the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar rule to exercise restraint shows that ASEAN does not know the true situation in Myanmar.
"ASEAN should have a concrete plan of action to end the violence should the ASEAN demand for the cessation of violence not be met by commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar and chairman of the State Administrative Council (SAC)," he said.
ASEAN member state represenatatives also reached consensus for the commencement of dialogue in the five point agreement and that a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair with assistance from the Secretary General of ASIAN would facilitate mediation and that ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance and that the special ASEAN envoy and delegation would visit Myanmar to meet with all parties.
The Southeast Asian Times


Police kill four Chinese nationals in Philippines war on drugs campaign

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) confiscated 500 kg. of crystal methamphetamine in an anti-drug operation in the province of Zambale in Central Luzon on Tuesday, September 7, 2021
From News Reports:
Manila, September 9: Philippine National Police (PNP) killed four Chinese nationals in anti-drug operations in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs campaigne in the province of Zambale in Central Luzon on Tuesday, with the Philippine National Police (PNP) saying the Chinese nationals from Fujian, were known distributors of illegal drugs in Luzon, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said that
500 kg. of crystal methamphetamine was confiscated in the anti-drug operation, saying "it was the largest seizure of crystal methamphetamine in the government’s war on drugs this year"
"The four slain men were trying to escape from a sting in which undercover officers sought to purchase a kilogram of the illegal crystal methamphetamine also known as shabu," he said.
He said that the crystal methamphetamine had an estimated street value of 3.4 billion pesos (U.S. $67.7 million).
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Wilkins Villanueva said that Chinese national Xu Youha, 50, who was one of four killed by police on Tuesday was "one of the biggest personalities in the illegal drug trade in the Philippines," saying that the Chinese national was a member of a drug trafficking organization.
Gao Manzhu, 49; Hong Jianshe, 58; and Eddie Tan, 60; were also killed in the undercover operation that reportedly ended in a shootout with Philippine National Police (PNP) in the town of Candelaria in the northwestern province of Zambales on Tuesday.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reportedly arrested three Chinese nationals, Qing Chang Zhou, 37; Cai Cai Bin, 49; and Longcai Chang, 45; in the Philippines northern province of Bataan hours later, seizing 80 kg. of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of 544 million pesos ($10.8 million).
In May 2012 the Philippines Department of Justice (DOJ) found that Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel were liable to criminal prosecution following access to records of investigations conducted by the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) into deaths in police anti-drug operations in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, with Justice Secretary, Menardo Guevarra, saying "clear liability was established by the Internal Affairs Service (IAS)."
Justice Secretary, Menardo Guevarra said that the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) had found administrative criminal liability on the part of police personnel in 61 anti-drug operations, saying "but criminal prosecution of the police was not pursued by the Internal Affairs Service (IAS)"
"The investigation of 61 anti-drug operations involve hundreds of police personnel nationwide," he said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) established an interagency panel including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat to review 7,884 police anti-drug operations since the launch of the anti-drugs campaign immediately following the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte as Pesident in June 2016.
The Southeast Asian Times


Myanmar military accepts ASEAN four months ceasefire proposal

ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Brunei Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erywan Yusof, says that the proposed a four-month ceasefire in Myanmar has been accepted by Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar
From News Reports:
Naypyitaw, September 8: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Special Envoy to Myanmar, reports that the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar has accepted a ceasefire proposal in order to enable delivery of humanitarian aid, with the National Unity Government (NUG) saying that the delivery of humanitarian aid should be dealt with later, reports Irrawaddy.
ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Brunei Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erywan Yusof, who was appointed Special Envoy last month, said that he proposed a four-month ceasefire by all sides to Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar appointed Foreign Minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin, on August 31, 2021, saying that the proposal was accepted.
"The ASEAN proposal for a four-month ceasefire by all sides in Myanmar's conflict is an attempt to enable the delivery of the first batch of humanitarian assistance to Myanmar," he said.
He said that the ceasefire is not a political ceasefire but to ensure safety including the security of humanitarian aid workers.
The National Unity Government (NUG), that was founded by the National League for Democracy (NLD) members of parliament after the takeover of the elected government by the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar in February 2021, says the conflict in Myanmar was political.
The National Unity Government (NUG), Human Rights Minister, U Aung Myo Min, said that the current turmoil in Myanmar was political, saying "humanitarian issues should be dealt with later."
He said that the National Unity Government (NUG) understands that the ASEAN special envoy wants to provide humanitarian assistance quickly and effectively, saying " human rights violations by the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar persist and these abuses should not be forgotten."
He said that as of Sunday September 5, 2021 the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar has killed 1,046 civilians, arrested 7,879 and issued arrest warrants for 1,984 with 6,230 in detention including National League for Democracy (NLD) State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, who were both arrested after the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar declared a state of emergency and the takeover of the elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government on February 1, 2021.
The Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar transferred full authority of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government administration to commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar, Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who said that the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar would take action against alleged election irregularities in the November 8, 2020 elections.
Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing said that under notification 1/2021 the National Defense and Security Council would investigate alleged voter irregularities and suspected fraud in the elections that resulted in the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by State Councillor, Aung San Suu Kyi with the majority of seats in the Parliament.
The Southeast Asian Times

Marcos son running for president not vice president in 2022 elections

Former Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., son of the late President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, running in 2022 Presidential elections
From News Reports:
Manila, September 7: Former Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., son of the late President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, confirmed that he is considering running for president in the 2022 Presidential elections, rather than running as vice president, saying "the presidency has not been taken off the table," reports the Philippine Inquirer.
"The presidency has not been taken off the table by any means," said former Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. at a forum organised by the Anvil Business Club, Inc., an organization of young Filipino-Chinese businessmen, in Manila on Wednesday.
He said he is aiming for the presidency, saying "many of my supporters prefer me to run for president rather than running as vice president."
"I did better in the presidential survey than the vice presidential survey." he said.
He said that there were political parties willing to back him if he would run for president but would withdraw support if he would run for vice president.
"These are the elements you have to determine in order to decide," he said.
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ran for vice president in 2017, but was defeated by Vice President Leni Robredo by more than 260,000 votes.
He protested the results of the election calling on the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to recount the ballots in three provinces of his choosing and to nullify the results in Lanao Dev Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) released a report in October 2019 showing that Vice President Leni Robredo had increased her lead over Marcos by 15,093 votes after the recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots from Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
In 1995 the Philippine government and representatives of more than 1,000 Filipinos - or their descendants, who were arrested, tortured and executed during the 13 years from 1972 in which former President Ferdinand Marcos ruled by decree and martial law, won US$2.7-billion in exemplary damages against the former president’s estate at a hearing in the United States federal court, Hawaii.
The Federal Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of grave human-rights violations.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai PM, ministers survive motion of no-confidence censure debate

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet ministers survive a parliament motion of no-confidence censure debate that ended on Saturday
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 6: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet ministers survived a parliament motion of no-confidence censure debate ending on Saturday, with the Prime Minister recieving the highest number of no-confidence votes and the opposition saying "the elections are ahead of us," reports the Bangkok Post.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, secured 264 votes of confidence and 208 votes of no confidence with three abstentions after a four day Parliament censure debate that included allegations of corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine, failure to manage the pandemic including joining the international COVAX vaccine-supply scheme and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic.
The opposition Pheu Thai Party Member of Parliament accused Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and five cabinet ministers, of corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines during the three day no-confidence censure debate
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defended the government against allegations of corruption in the procurement of Covid19 vaccines, saying "allegations that the government embezzled funds from the state budget for the procurement of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine was untrue."
"The procurement of Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine was above board and transparent," he said.
The opposition alleged a discrepancy of 2 million-baht between the approved funds from the state budget for five batches of Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine and the amount actually paid.
The opposition who required 242 of the 482 parliamentary votes to oust Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also failed to oust five cabinet members including Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who secured 269 votes of confidence with 196 no confidence and 11 abstentions and Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin secured 263 votes of confidence with 201 no confidence and 10 abstentions.
Opposition Pheu Thai Party Member of Parliament said that the result was no surprise, saying the ruling coalition Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) holds the majority of the lower House of Parliament, saying "I would like to ask the ruling coalition Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) Members of Parliament to think about their voters."
"There are elections ahead of us," he said.
The 2019 general elections, that were the first elections held since the 2014 Royal Thai Army declaration of martial law, nominated Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as candidate for Prime Minister.
The Royal Thai Armed Forces, Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) party, that nominated current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as candidate for prime minister and who is also the commander of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO, won the popular vote in the 2019 elections with 7.9 million of the 32.7 million valid ballots,
The opposition Pheu Thai Party (PTP), sponsored by fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, came second in the popular vote with 7.4 million of the 32.7 million valid ballots, announced the formation of a seven-party coalition government after the 2019 elections.
Pheu Thai Party (PTP) prime ministerial candidate, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, said then that 137 of 500 seats in the parliament was justifcation enough to approach other parties that also oppose the prolongation of military rule over Thailand to join in a coalition.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai PM says criticism of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine could hurt bilateral ties

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, warned opposition Members of Parliament against criticism of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 5: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is answering allegations of corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines in a no-confidence three day Parliament censure debate, cautioned opposition Members of Parliament on Thursday to be careful when criticising China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine, saying "it could hurt bilateral ties," reports the Bangkok Post.
Opposition Members of Parliament submitted a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and cabinet ministers on August 16, 2021 saying "the government failure to manage the pandemic including vaccine procurement and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic made it neccesary to file a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha."
On Thursday Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,Gen Prayut cautioned opposition Members of Parliament to be careful when criticising China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine, saying "it could hurt bilateral ties."
He said that devaluing certain vaccines when there are no facts can have consequences, saying "I urge you to use discretion or you will have to take responsibility for your comments."
In January the Ministry of Public Health called for verification of the effectiveness and safety of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine ordered from China following a report from the Brazil public Butantan Institute that the vaccine that was developed in partnership with China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd is less effective than stated.
Brazil’s public Butantan Institute revealed ahead of the arrival of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine to Thailand that the vaccine is 50.4 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infections and that this is well below the 78 percent effectiveness announced by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
The Thai Ministry of Public Health deputy permanent secretary, Supakit Sirilak, said in January that the Thai government would go ahead with the order of vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd despite the vaccines less than stated effectiveness.
He said that the request for verification of the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine has been sent to China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., saying "further information is required for approval of the vaccine by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."
Thai Ministry of Public Health deputy permanent secretary, Supakit Sirilak, said the ministry relied on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that 50 percent efficiency is enough for emergency use.
The Southeast Asian Times

The Online Citizen editor ordered to pay compensation to Singapore PM

The Online Citizen editor, Terry Xu, at the Singapore High Court defamation trial brought by Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loon on February 15, 2021

From News Reports:
Singapore, September 4: The Singapore High Court ordered the editor and a reporter of The Online Citizen (TOC), to pay Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon compensation for an article published in 2019, saying "the article impugned Lee's reputation and character," reports Reuters.
The High Court ordered editor of The Online Citizen (TOC), Terry Xu, to pay S$210.000 and reporter, Rubaashini Shunmuganathan, S$160,000 compensation, reducing the amount to be paid to S$160,000 saying "the lawsuits concerned the same defamatory article."
Judge Audrey Lim said that the article published in The Online Citizen (TOC) titled "PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares an article on cutting ties with family members" has impugned Lee’s reputation and character by alleging he was dishonest.
Judge Audrey Lim said that the article "struck at the heart of Prime Minister Lee’s personal integrity," saying "the article could severely undermine his credibility not just personally but also as the Prime Minister and call into question his fitness to govern with integrity."
Senior Counsel Davinder Singh for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon argued that the article published in The Online Citizen (TOC) had gravely injured the Prime Minister's reputation, saying that the article included accusations that the Prime Minister had not carried out the wishes of his late father, former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, as stated in his will.
The late former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew stated in his will that he wanted his home that he had lived in for more than seventy years at 38 Oxley Road house, Singapore, demolished, saying "that the house was to be torn down in order to avoid the building of a personality cult."
In 2017 about 300 family members of the current Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, who include siblings, Lee Hsien Yang, 60, and Dr Wei Ling, 62, protested the current Prime Minister's plan to block the demolition of their fathers home, accusing the current Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, of "capitalising on their father's legacy for his own political agenda that included grooming his own son as a future leader."
Supporters for the demolition of the home of the late and former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, gathered at Singapore's Speakers Corner calling for a transparent government and for an independent inquiry into the dispute between family members over the demolition of his home.
The Online Citizen (TOC) article published on August 15, 2019 repeated allegations against current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon originally made by his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, that was posted on Facebook in May 2019 and shared with the current Prime Ministers brother, Lee Hsien Yang.
The Southeast Asian Times

National Unity Government (NUG) calls for withdrawal of investments endorsed by Myanmar military

National Unity Government (NUG), Union Minister of the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment, U Tin Tun Naing threatens companies endorsed by Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar with prosecution

From News Reports:
Naypyitaw, September 3: The National Unity Government (NUG) that was founded by the National League for Democracy (NLD) members of parliament after the takeover of the elected government by the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar, called on companies in Mynamar to withdraw investments saying the investments are illegal, reports the Irrawaddy.
National Unity Government (NUG)
Union Minister of the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment, U Tin Tun Naing, called on eight companies to withdraw investments of more that $3.1 billion (5 trillion kyats) in Myanmar since the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar takeover of the elected government in February 2021, threatening the companies with prosecution if the companies fail to comply with its instructions.
National Unity Government (NUG) U Tin Tun Naing said that the National Unity Government (NUG) will not recognise any investment permits and endorsements issued by the the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar, saying the companies have received unlawful permits and endorcements from the Myanmar Investment Commission.
"The indiscriminate issuance of investment permits and endorsements by the Myanmar Investment Commission under the control of the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar appointed Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun run
runs counter to the tenets of federal democracy," he said.
The National Unity Government (NUG) has called on the eight companies to abandon investment in Mayanmar inlcuding, TTCL Power Myanmar Co. Ltd of Japan; Myanmar Heng Ya Investment Development Co Ltd of China, Myanmar-based N Motors Company Limited, Petro and Trans Co Ltd; S Gemological Institute Co Ltd, Singapore-based Clean Power Energy Co. Ltd; Myanmar Golden Eagle Co Ltd of Thailand and Mee Lin Gyaing Electric Power Co Ltd, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.
In March 2021 French multinational electric utility company, Électricité de France (EDF) suspended the development of a hydropower plant in the Ayeyrwady Basin in Myanmar's northern Shan State worth US$1.5 billion that was jointly developed with the Japan Marubeni Corporation and Myanmar owned Myanmar Ayeyar Hinthar Company, a proxy company connected with the Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) of Myanmar.
In February 2021 Australian petroleum exploration and production company, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, that had been active in Myanmar since 2013, withdrew operations from Myanmar, with Australian Director of anti-corruption coalition, Clancy Moore saying "any mining, gas or oil company operating in Myanmar is at risk of legitimizing the rule of the Myanmar military.
The Southeast Asian Times


Thai PM rebuts corruption allegations in motion of no-confidence censure debate

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha rebuts corruption allegations in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines at censure debate in Parliament on Tuesday August 31, 2021
From News Reports:
Bangkok, September 2: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who with five cabinet ministers, is answering allegations of corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines in a no-confidence three day censure debate, rebutted all allegations of corruption made by the opposition coalition party on Tuesday, reports the Bangkok Post.
The coalition of opposition parties including the Pheu Thai Party and the Move Forward Party submitted a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and cabinet ministers on August 16, 2021 saying "the government failure to manage the pandemic including vaccine procurement and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic made it neccesary to file a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha."
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defended the government against allegations of corruption in the procurement of Covid19 vaccines, saying "allegations that the government embezzled funds from the state budget procurement of Sinovac vaccine was untrue."
"The procurement of Sinovac vaccine was above board and transparent," he said.
Opposition coalition Pheu Thai Party alleges a discrepancy of 2 million-baht between the approved funds from the state budget for five batches of Sinovac vaccine and the amount actually paid.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha challenged the allegations,calling on the Pheu Thai Party Member of Parliament to find out who had taken the difference between the approved state funds and the amount actually paid for the batch of vaccinations.
He said that the entire state budget went towards the management of the pandemic including vaccine procurement and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic, saying "the government is ready for any investigations into the allegations."
Thai Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) director Dr Witoon Danwibul said that he could explain
the discrepancy of 2 million-baht between the approved funds from the state budget for five batches of Sinovac vaccine and the amount actually paid, saying "the price of the vaccine and the currency exchange rates changed constantly."
He said a higher state budget was necessary, saying "no one has taken the difference between the allotted state funds and the amount actually paid for the vaccine.
The Southeast Asian Times


Manila hospital workers want Health Department to pay Covid-19 benefits

Health workers called on Department of Health (DOH) to release Covid-19 funds at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) on Monday August 30, 2021

From News Reports:
Manila, September 1: Hospital health workers in metro Manila including at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) called for payment of Covid-19 benefits under the Bayanihan 2 law that includes medical expenses for health workers exposed to COVID-19, with the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) demanding that the Department of Health (DOH) release the benefits, reports the Philippine Inquirer
Alliance of Health Workers, president of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) Employees Association, Edwin Pacheco, said that health workers are calling for payment of benefits that were passed into law by President Duterte in September last year, saying that "it has been a year and we are still in the streets shouting for our benefits."
He said that health workers have resigned and retired early for fear of being infected with the virus and infecting their families, saying that 51 health workers from from National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) have retired or resigned since December 2020.
"Health workers also called for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for the mismanagement of P67 billion worth of COVID-19 funds." he said.
The Commission on Audit (COA) found that the Departments of Health (DOH) failed to pay mandated allowances and other benefits to hundreds of thousands of health-care workers from the P67.323 billion funding for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, that was signed by President Duterte in September last year, mandates P13.5 billion in COVID-19 special risk allowance, life insurance, accommodation, free meals and transportation for both public and private health-care workers.
The Bayanihan 2 Law also covers medical expenses of health-care workers exposed to COVID-19, and includes P100,000 compensation for health-care workers who contracted the disease and P1 million death benefit.
Last month House of Representatives Member of Parliament for Marikina, Stella Luz Quimbo called for a congressional inquiry into the Departments of Health (DOH) failure to pay mandated allowances and other benefits to health-care workers, saying that front-line health-care workers and the beneficiaries of those who have died have an established right to be paid allowances and other benefits under Bayanihan 2.
"There are urgent concerns as to why the Departments of Health (DOH) was not able to effect these payments and allowances," she said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Two ministers taken off no-confidence motion list ahead of censure debate

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is one of two ministers who have been taken off the no-confidence motion list ahead of the censure debate that begins Tuesday, August 31, 2021

From News Reports:
Bangkok, August 31: Thai coalition of opposition parties have taken two ministers off the no-confidence motion list filed against cabinet ministers earlier this month ahead of the censure debate to take place over four days from Tuesday, reports the Bangkok Post.
The coalition of opposition parties including the Pheu Thai Party and the Move Forward Party submitted a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and six other cabinet members on August 16, 2021 saying "the governments failure to manage the pandemic including vaccine procurement and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic made it neccesary to file a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha."
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and ruling party Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) secretary-general Thamanat Prompow were excluded from the list ahead of the censure debate, with opposition coalition party Pheu Thai Party Member of Parliament, Sompong Amornvivat, saying "the opposition plans to focus on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and cabinet ministers directly involved in the government's failure to manage the pandemic.
He said that the two ministers taekn off the no-confidence motion list were not directly involved in the management of the pandemic, saying "it makes more sense to single out the ministers directly involved in the Governments failure to manage the pandemic," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and ruling party Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) secretary-general Thamanat Prompow were on the no-confidence motion list for malfeasance and actions deemed benefiting interest groups, administrative failures and lack of legality and justice.
In July 2020 opposition coalition Move Forward Party submitted a motion for impeachment of Member of Parliament, Thamanat Prompaw under Section 98(10) of the constitution that prohibited anyone found guilty of a narcotics trafficking offence from standing for election to Parliament.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Member of Parliament, Thamanat Prompaw, spent four years of a six year sentence in a Sydney jail for trafficking in heroin with a street value of $4.1 million and was deported on his release.
In January 2018 opposition coalition Pheu Thai called for the impeachment of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon for not declaring assetts and liabilities under Section 103 of the Organic Act on Anti-Corruption.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon was investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for accepting a diamond ring and a luxury-brand wristwatch as a gift.
Opposition coalition party Pheu Thai Party spokesman, Sompong Amornvivat, said that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon should be viewed as being corrupt and face impeachment and criminal charges.
The Southeast Asian Times


Thai police superintendent known as 'Ferrari Joe' denies murder of drug suspect in custody

Superintendent Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, known as "Ferrari Joe" denies charges of torture and murder of drug suspect in police custody.

From News Reports:
Bangkok, August 30: Superintendent Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, known as " "Ferrari Joe," who surrendered to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Bangkok on Thursday for the murder of a drug suspect in police custody, has denied charges of torture and murder, vowing to fight the charges in court, reports the Bangkok Post.
Lawyer Chokechai Angkaew said his client, Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, has denied all charges made against him in the alleged torure and death of drug suspect, Jeerapong Thanapat, 24, at Nakhon Sawan Muang police station August 5, 2021.
He said that Police Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, denied the charges during questioning by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), saying "Police Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon has vowed to fight the charges in court."
A warrant for the arrest of Superintendent of Police Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, and seven subordinate Police Officers was issued following the release of a video showing the brutal murder of the drug suspect at the Muang Nakhon Sawan police station on August 5.
The nine minute video shows Superintendent Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon, 39, drawing plastic bags over the head of drug suspect, Jeerapong Thanapat, 24, during interrogation after the drug suspect refused to give him 2 million ($61,031).
Police Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon, 39, previously admitted to the suffocation of Jeerapong Thanapat, 24, and that he took full responsiblity for the death of the drug suspect, saying "my subordinates just followed orders."
National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) spokesman, Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, said that the commission was investigating Police Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon for abuse of authority and unusual wealth.
A police raid on his Bangkok residence, valued at $2 million, found that he owned 30 luxury cars including a Farrari, Lamborghini and several Porches.
"Police Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon received a salary of $1.300 a month before he was dismissed from service on Tuesday," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


China's contribution to APEC supports fast track recovery from pandemic in Asia Pacific

Health ministers, academics, industry leaders, government representatives, international organisations at the 11th APEC High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy on Tuesday August 24, 2021

From News Reports:
Singapore, August 29: China, one of the 21 Asia Pacific Forum Cooperation (APEC) economies that includes Australia and ASEAN member countries Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam has contributed to the establishment of a new APEC sub-fund for Combating Covid-19 and Economic Recovery (CCER) with, APEC Secretariat Executive saying that the fund will support intitatives for a fast track recovery.
APEC Secretariat's Executive Director, Rebecca Sta Maria, said that China's contribution of US1 million towards the establishment of a new APEC sub-fund would ensure that Asia Pacific would remain the world's most dynamic and interconnected region as advanced in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.
"This sub-fund will support initiatives focused on a fast track recovery in APEC's 21 economies." she said.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between China' and APEC was signed on Wednesday, with China's APEC Senior Official, Lu Mei, saying "the Covid-10 pandmic has posed an unprecedented challenge to APEC economies that requires a collective and inclusive response."
APEC Senior Official, Lu Mei, said that APEC economies have strengthened cooperation to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying "the establishment of the sub-fund is part of varied and continuous efforts including contribution of additional resources across APEC economies to combat the pandemic."
"The APEC sub-fund for Combating Covid-19 and Economic Recovery (CCER) also contributes to the implementation of the APEC Putrajaya Vision," he said.
The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 advances the Bogor Declaration of November 15, 1994 that includes market driven economic integration in the Asia-Pacific towards an open dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai police superintendent 'Ferrari Joe' surrenders for murder of drug suspect in police custody

Superintendent of Police Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, known as " "Ferrari Joe" surrendered to police at the Chonburi Police Station on Thursday for the muder of a drug suspect in police custody

From News Reports:
Bangkok, August 28: Thai Police Superintendent Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, known as "Ferrari Joe" surrendered to police at the Chonburi Police Station on Thursday after a warrant for his arrest was issued for the murder of a drug supect in police custody at the Muang Nakhon Sawan police station earlier this month, reports the Bangkok Post.
A warrant for the arrest of Police Superintendent Pol Col, Thitisan Utthanaphon, 39, and seven subordinate Police Officers at the Muang Nakhon Sawan police station was issued following the release of a video showing the brutal murder of the drug suspect at the Muang Nakhon Sawan police station on August 5.
Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, who is under investigation by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Bangkok for the torture and murder of drug suspect, Jeerapong Thanapat, 24, said that he took full responsiblity for the death of the drug suspect saying "my subordinates just followed orders."
The nine minute video that was released by a Police Officer at the Muang Nakhon Sawan police station shows Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon, 39, drawing a plastic bag over the head of the drug suspect after the drug suspect refused to provide him with 2 million baht ($61,031).
Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon, 39, admitted he had used plastic bags to cover Jeerapong Thanapat's head during questioning at the Muang Nakhon Sawan police station on August 5, saying the motive was not to extort money from the drug suspect.
I"t was the first time I treated a suspect that way ," he said
He claims that he attempted to extract more information from the drug suspect after he saw photos of about one kilogramme of crystal methamphetamine and 20,000 speed pills on the drug suspect Jeerapong Thanapat's mobile phone.
He denied involvement in corruption, saying “I intended to get the information so I could destroy the drug business and protect the people of Nakhon Sawan."
Pol Col Thitisant Utthanaphon, 39, is reportedly known as "Ferrari Joe" after a police raid on his Bangkok residence found that he owned 30 luxury cars including a Farrari, Lamborghini and several Porches after recieving a Police Superintendent salary of $1,300 per month.
The Southeast Asian Times


Selangor politicians banned from religious teaching in Mosques

Chief Minister of Selangor, Amirudin Shari, announced that politicians are banned from religious teaching in Selangor Mosques at the State Assembly on Thursday

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, August 27: Politicians in the Malaysian state of Selangor are banned from Islamic religious teaching in Selangor Mosques, with the Selangor state assembly on Thursday saying that the state will not approve applications for tauliah or credentials for religious teaching by politicians, report the Star.
Chief Minister of Selangor, Amirudin Shari, said that members of the Selangor Royal Council consented to the proposal that the state would not issue applications for tauliah or credentials for religious teaching to politicians in Mosques.
"The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) tauliah committee said that any politician holding a tauliah or credential for Islamic religious teaching could retain the tauliah or credential until the expiry date, but with conditions," he said.
He said that the expiry date for tauliah or credentials for religious teaching is one or two years from the date it was issued by the state, saying "politicians are not allowed to have their teaching credentials renewed."
"Politicians holding a tauliah or credentials for religious teaching must not talk about political issues, mention or link specific individuals, spread slander and they must remain ethical and continue to preserve the sanctity of mosques and surau as centres of knowledge and spread of Islam, "he said.
He said that 31 politicians are still holding a tauliah or credentials to teach religion, saying they are valid until the end of their term in Selangor."
The Southeast Asian Times

U.S. opens Southeast Asian Regional office for U.S. Center for Disease Control in Hanoi

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Vietnam Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on Wednesday August 25, 2021

From News Reports:
Hanoi, August 26: The Southeast Asia Regional Office for the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention was launched in Hanoi by United States Vice President Kamala Harris, on Wednesday, during a three day official visit to Vietnam, saying "the launch of the Southeast Asian Regional Office in Vietnam is a true testament of the United States Commitment to this important region," reports the Vietnam News Service.
"The US has pledged US$500,000 to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to support the purchase of more vaccines and has provided more than US$150 million in emergency assistance to the region," she said.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said that the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention is investing in research, saying "the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) would work towards the development of the next generation of healthcare professionals in Southeast Asia."
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said that the opening of the Southeast Asia Regional Office for the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention would support United States Government foreign policy initiatives in the region under the U.S. ASEAN Health Futures platform that supports existing and expanded U.S. assistance for public health and combating infectious disease in ASEAN member states.
Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister, Pham Bình Minh, said that Vietnam stands ready to facilitate the effective operation of the Southeast Asia Regional Office for the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Hanoi, saying "we welcome the US decision to open this office in Ha Noi."
"Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Southeast Asian countries and the U.S, have worked closely together to combat this pandemic, mitigate its consequences and foster economic recovery," he said.
Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister, Pham Bình Minh, said that healthcare cooperation between Vietnam and the U.S. is a key area of cooperation in the Vietnam-U.S. comprehensive partnership.
In April 2020 the Asean-US Special Foreign Minister’s Meeting on Covid-19, with Vietnam as chair of ASEAN for 2020, held in an online conference in Hanoi, reaffirming the US role as a strategic partner in the recovery of the Covid-19 impact on socio-economic development in the region.
Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Pham Bình Minh, said then that ASEAN foreign ministers and the then US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had reached consensus on long term Covid-19 recovery measures including US funding, saying " US supports the ASEAN initiative to establish a Covid-19 response fund."
The then US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has provided ASEAN with over US$35.3 million via incentives of the ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimisation for the ASEAN effort in the recovery of the Covid-19 impact on socio-economic development in the region.
The Southeast Asian Times


US Vice President visit to Singapore reaffirms committment to Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific

Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, at a joint press conference in Singapore on Monday, August 23, 2021.

From News Reports:
Singapore, August 25: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member state, Singapore, said that the three day official visit by the Vice President of the United States to Singapore "reaffirms the United States commitment to the region," with the Prime Minister of Singapore saying, "Singapore appreciated the U.S. active role in the Indo-Pacific including in Southeast Asia, reports Reuters,
Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, said that the visit of the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, to Singapore "shows that the U.S. has a strategic economic stake in Southeast Asia."
Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, reaffirmed the United States commitment to allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific including Southeast Asia to uphold the rules based international order and freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea.
"Today we are in Singapore to stress and reaffirm our enduring relationship to Singapore and the region and to reinforce a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific," she said.
Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, visited the US combat ship USS Tulsa at Singapore Changi Naval Base during the three day visit to Singapore.
She told the crew of the USS Tulsa that "the Indo Pacific is critical to the security and prosperity of the United States, saying “I do believe a big part of the history of the 21st century will be written about this very region where you now serve."
"And we want to be the ones who are helping to shape and dictate that history," she said.
In June the United States Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy R Sherman met with officials from the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives in Jakarta to discuss the U.S.-ASEAN strategic partnership in an effort to re-assert the United States as a Pacific power, saying "Southeast Asia is an incredibly important part of the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy."
She said that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy aims to assert the US as a Pacific power with the U.S. Coast Guard in the Indo-Pacific conducting maritime security missions with regional partners that have limited offshore surveillance and enforcement capacity.
"The U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, that is built on shared principals as outlined in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), supports the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) centrality, respect for sovereignty and rule of law," she said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Hanoians to see themselves as soldiers in fight against pandemic

Health workers collect collect samples for COVID-19 testing from residents at Nguyen Du Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi on Saturday, August 21, 2021

From News Reports:
Hanoi, August 24: The Hanoi Peoples's Committee has extended the four week Covid-19 lockdown in Hanoi by a further two weeks until September 6, calling on about 5 million Hanoi residents to see themselves as soldiers in the fight against the Pandemic, reports the Vietnam News Service.
Hanoi Peoples's Committee chairman, Chu Ngoc Anh, called on Hanoi residents to stay at home, saying "Covid-19 testing will be increased during the lockdown."
He said that the city asks that each Hanoi resident see themself as a soldier, saying "each family, neighbourhood, village and commune is a fortress against the pandemic."
“One careless act of complacency at this time would have a significant impact on the fight against the spread of Covid-19," he said.
He said that complacency in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 could result in a further extension of Covid-19 lockdown measures with consequences to public health, social order and public security and the economy.
“This is a critical juncture in the fight against the pandemic, " he said.
He said that Hanoi would strengthen Covid-19 prevention and control measures at markets, malls, supermarkets and convenience stores ahead of the National Day holiday on September, 2.
The Vietnam Ministry of Health recorded a total 10,657 new Covid-19 infections in Vietnam for the 24 hours to 6.30pm on Friday August 20, 2021 raising total infections in Vietnam to 323,268, with 390 Covid-19 deaths recorded over 24 hours raising the Covid-19 total death toll in Vietnam to 7,540.
The Southeast Asian Times

Australians protest lockdown restrictions in "freedom rally"

Protester in a "freedom rally" in Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria sprayed with pepper spray by Victoria Police on Saturday August 21. 2021,

From News Reports:
Sydney, August 23: Thousands of Australians marched in "freedom rallies" in capital cities across Australia including Sydney in the state of New South Wales on Saturday, protesting against Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, despite New South Wales Police warning against mass gatherings, saying that those breaking Public Health Orders on gatherings would face the full force of law enforcement, reports Reuters.
New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner, Mal Lanyon, warned ahead of the "Freedom Rally" in Sydney that people illegally gathering to protest would face a 1,400 strong police force with boots on the ground across Sydney.
More than two thousand protesters marched in the "freedom rally" in Sydney on Saturday despite Police warning that a "zero tolerance" approach to non-compliance of Covid-19 rules on gatherings would be tolerated, with Deputy Police Commissioner warning that protesters would be fined.
New South Wales Police who have powers under the Crimes Act and the Public Health Act to prevent unauthorised protests and mass gatherings issued 261 fines and 47 arrests for Covid-19 breaches of the New South Wales Public Health Order
in Sydney on Saturday, including the arrest of an organiser of the rally, Anthony Khallouf, 28.
Anthony Khallouf, 28, was sentenced to eight months prison, with a non-parole period of three months, after pleading guilty to four counts of not complying with a direction and one count each of encouraging the commission of a crime and making false representations.
The Southeast Asian Times

King appoints PM with evidence of majority support in Parliament

Malaysia's third Prime Minster in three years, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, was sworn in as Prime Minister at the State Palace on Saturday August 21, 2021

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, August 22: The King of Malaysia announced the Royal State Palace consent to the appointment of Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the ninth Prime Minister, with State Palace spokesman saying that the King was satisfied that Ismail Sabri Yaakob "commanded the confidence of the majority in Parliament." reports the Star.
Royal Household spokesman, Fadil Shamsuddin, said that the King has determined that Bera district, south western Pahang, Member of Parliament, Ismail Sabri Yaakob "has garnered 114 nominations from 222 members of parliament, giving him sufficient majority to form a government."
The King decreed that all 222 Members of Parliament, including 114 Members of Parliament who supported United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Vice President Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Prime Minister, submit a statutory declaration as evidence of support following the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday.
"The King verified support for Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Prime Minister from the statutory declarations submitted in an audience with the King at the State Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Friday," he said.
He said that the King also decreed that new Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, seek a vote of confidence in the Parliament as soon as possible in order to determine his legitimacy.
United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Members of Parliament, including caretaker Prime Minister and Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin, were among those granted audience with the King to verify their candidate for Prime Minister.
United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Vice President Ismail Sabri Yaakob reportedly received support from Members of Parliament from United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Bersatu, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) and four independent Members of Parliament.
Opposition People's Justice Party or Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) President, Anwar Ibrahim, who was endorsed by opposion coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH) as candidate for Prime Minister, said that opposition coalition accepted the King's appointment of Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Prime Minister.
"The opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition notes that the appointment of the ninth Prime Minister by the King was based on the constitution, parliamentary democracy and the system of constitutional monarchy that Malaysia practiced," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Cambodian trade unionist jailed for claiming Cambodian Vietnam border markers moved

Cambodian Confederation of Unions president, Rong Chhun, was sentenced to two years in prison and fined two million riel ($500) for incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday 18, August, 2021

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, August 21: Cambodian Confederation of Unions president, Rong Chhun, was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of two million reil ($500) for incitement for accusing the Cambodia Border Affairs Committee for allowing Vietnam to move the Cambodia Vietnam border markers 500 metres, reports Phnom Penh Post.
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president, Rong Chhun. who was arrested on August 1, 2020 for incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest under Article 495 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, claimed that "Cambodians had lost their land to Vietnam" after visiting Trapeang Phlong commune in Tboung Khmum province Ponhea Krek district on the Cambodia Vietnam border on July 20, 2020.
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president, Rong Chhun, said that Vietnam evicted and pushed Cambodians 500 metres into Tboung Khmum province, saying "the installation of border markers 500 metres into Cambodia has caused villagers to lose hundreds of hectares of land to the Vietnamese."
"This irregularity has caused farmers to lose their land and livelihood," he said.
The Cambodia Border Affairs Committee claims that the president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), Rong Chhun, has made false and exaggerated claims that are intended to stir social unrest and public misunderstanding,
The Cambodia Border Affairs Committee says that the demarcation of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam did not cause Cambodia to lose its territory, saying "no Vietnamese forced Cambodians from their land."
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president, Rong Chhun, was one of 13 arrested in August 2020 including Khmer Win Party president, Soung Sophorn, for claiming irregularities by the Cambodia Border Affairs Committee in the installation of border markers on the Cambodia Vietnam border.
Khmer Win Party president, Soung Sophorn, who was arrested for incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest under Article 495 of the Cambodian Criminal Code on August 13, said that he and members of the party visited more than 30 villagers in Tboung Khmum province Ponhea Krek district on the Cambodia Vietnam border on August 10, saying that the villagers showed them the border markers that they claimed have been moved 500 meters.
The Southeast Asian Times



What they're saying open page here

Bombed by the Americans for Christmas in 1972, Ha Noi Bach Mai hospital is still a war zone...Christina Pas reports...Open page here



MEDIA CHECK
Cambodia-China Journalist Association (CCJA) launched in Phnom Penh ...open here



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Indigenous Australians in the northern Queensland town of East Trinity aim for economic independence from eco-cultural tourism, reports Christine Howes in "Australian indigenous eco-cultural tourism venture wins best small project national award " ...open here


Kavi Chongkittavorn talks about the UK application to become an ASEAN dialogue partner in "New dynamics of Aseans external ties," with consensus yet to be reached on admitting a former colonial master of four ASEAN member countries into the Southeast Asian bloc....open

Esther Samboh talks about the choise between thousands dying of Covid-19 or from hunger in densely populated Jakarta in the new normal in "Medics dying, infections soaring - it's still the economy" ...open page here



Australian reporter, Chris Ray, investigates why Australia dropped five spots in the World Press Freedom Index...open


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Read what Son Nguyen has to say about the impact of China's virus on Vietnam's economy in "When the economy gets sick" open here


The Southeast Asian Times wishes its readers a happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year with a special thankyou to its treasured letter writers


Has the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra suffered a fatal blow, or will it rise again? asks Australian reporter Chris Ray... Open page here

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Darwin reporter John Loizou asks a survivor of the 1965 killings in Bali "why didn't you try to stop them" in "Remembering the slaughter in Paradise"
........open page here



"Goodbye America" says B.A. Hamzah as he calls for Asians to determine their own political destiny in "Time for Asia to set it's own course, minus the U.S."...open here


Is prescribed burning of grasslands in northern Australia out of control? ......Chris Ray reports ... open page here

"Rockefeller and the Demise of Ibu Pertiwi" by Kerry B. Collison "is undoubtedly fictional but by no means improbable, " says Johannes Nugroho ....open page here

Viet Nam is planning to go nuclear by the year 2020.reports
John Loizou
in "Calculating the costs of nuclear energy in Vietnam" ...open page here



The founder of the Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor (Fretilin), Mari Alkatiri, the now former Prime Minister of Timor Leste, after losing the May 12, 2018 election to the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) party, led by Xanana Gusmao, has accused the opposition of a coup attempt.
Twelve years ago Mari Alkatiri also accused the opposition of a coup attemp claiming then that the crises that led to his resignation was the result of a conspiracy. "I have no doubt about that" he told Darwin reporter John Loizou in an interview in Dili on 6 November 2006
......open page here

 

Cuba's 302 physicians in East Timor work at five hospitals and remote villages throughout the republic...writes Darwin reporter John Loizou ...open page here

 

Indonesia ready for big 'brother' role in ASEAN
By Prashanth Parameswaran
.......open page here

 

Benedict Anderson, a man without a country, dies in Indonesia Jeet Heer reports.....open page here


Thousands of Northern Australia's indigenous rock art sites are under threat from buffalo, fire and feral animals. Tim Lee reports ........open page here

 

Copy of letter 29 May 2012 from Vietnam Womens Union to International Olympic Committee...open here


The Southeast Asian Times wishes its readers a happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year with a special thankyou to its treasured letter writers



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PASLOIZOUPRESSDARWIN@bigpond.com

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Singapore
properties listed for sale in Myanmar

From News Reports:
Yangon, November 25: Singapore's largest property developer, the Far East Organization, is to partner with Myanmar's
property sales and marketing company, Min Zin Agency, in Yangon to sell condos in Singapore.
Managing director of the Min Zin Agency in Yangon, Ko Kyaw Min Zin, said that Singapore's Far East Organization has expanded its sales and marketing efforts into Myanmar.
“The Far East Organisation has been selling their Singapore properties to Myanmar buyers since 2009,” he said.
The Far East Organisation reportedly have over 750 properties in Singapore’s residential, hospitality, retail, commercial and industrial sectors,
including 45,500 or one in every six private homes in Singapore listed with the Min Zin Agency in Yangon.
The Southeast Asian Times


China to invest in rail and road construction
in Indonesia
From News Reports:
Jakarta, November 10:
Indonesia's Railway Corporation (PT KAI) and state construction company PT Jasa Marga signed a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) with China Investment Fund (CIF) to develop indonesia's railway services and toll road construction.
Witness to the signing, coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil, said that the MoU will provide the groundwork for further cooperation between China Railway and P KAI and China Investment Fund (CIF).
"The MoU is the first step towards further development of public services between China and Indonesia" he said.
Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia, Xie Feng said that the MoU would spark more cooperations between China and Indonesia and would bring about "real benefits to the public."
The Southeast Asian Times

Penang health department shuts down soya bean factory
From News Reports:
Penang, October 19: Five Penang food factories including a 100 year old soya bean factory at Tanjong Bungah were ordered closed by the state health department for failure to observe health standards.
State health, food safety and quality division, deputy director Ku Nafishah Ku Ariffin said soya bean products were processed in an unclean "rusty and moldy kitchen".
"Our inspectors found that wet products were left to dry on "dirty" bamboo sticks along with bathing towels. The bamboo sticks were also dirty and dusty," she said.
A "sweets" factory in Teluk Kumbar, a noodle factory in Simpang Ampat and a sauce factory in Bukit Metajam were also closed by the state health department
The Southeast Asian Times

Fuel smugglers including military personnel under arrest
From News Reports:
Jakarta, September 15: Riau Islands Police have arrested 30 suspects including several Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel and seized 64 cars, two boats and 106 tons of fuel.
Riau Islands Police chief Brig. Gen. Arman Depary said in Batam last week that the seized cars had been modified to hold 100 litres of fuel.
"The Military (TNI) personnel are suspected of fuel smuggling and have been handed over to the military base", he said.
TNI Commander Gen. Moeldoko said that the alleged suspected fuel smugglers are honor-based service military personnel.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thai coup blammed for fall in tourist arrivals
From News Reports:
Bangkok, August 18: The Thai tourism sector suffered its largest fall in international visitors to Thailand in June, the first month after the establishment of marshal law and the military seizure of the Yingluck Shinawatra government.
Tourism reportedly accounts for 10 percent of the Thai economy.
Data from the Thai Department of Tourism shows that inernational tourist arrival numbers in July fell by 10.9 percent compared to the same time last year.
International arrivals in July totalled 1.91 million compared to 2.15 million in July 2013.
Arrivals from China with a18 percent share of all visitors to thailand and the largest group of visitors to Thailand, fell by 25.3 percent.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom with a 4 percent share of all visitors to Thailand, was one of the few large markets to record a gain, of 6.2 percent
The Southeast Asian Times

US Senate approves sales of nuclear equipment to Vietnam
From News Reports:
Hanoi, July 31: The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed legislation approving a 123 agreement on civil nuclear commerce with Vietnam at a business meeting of the committee last week.
The 123 agreement under the US Atomic energy Act of 1954 establishes a civil nuclear commerce agreement that allows the US to export nuclear reactors, research information and equipment to Vietnam.
The civil nuclear commerce agreement between the US and Vietnam is "part of Vietnam's effort to ease its shortage of energy towards meeting over 10 percent of the domestic power demand by 2030", reports the Vietnam News Service
The Southeast Asian Times

Court for construction
Industry
established
in Malaysia
From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, May 3: The first two Construction Courts for Malaysia were opened by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam last week, reports the Star.
The courts will deal with disputes in the construction industry.
Works Minister Datuk Haji Fadillah bin Haji Yusof said that the establishment of the courts will transform the way the construction business in the country operates.
"The construction industry stakerholders can now have their disputes resolved by judges with expert knowledge and experience in construction industry disputes', he said.
The proposal by the Construction Industry Board (CIDB) for the establishment of the construction courts was first put to the Judiciary in January 2013.
Britain is the only other country that has a specially designated court that deals with construction industry disputes.

The Southeast Asian Times

Bali communities want larger share of tourism revenue

From News Reports:
Denpasar, April 14: Bali community-based tourism operators have called for amendments to regulations that stipulate that the local community pay the Bali regency administration 60 percent of their total tourism revenue.
Penglipuran tourist village in Bangli, community-based tourism manager, Nengah Moneng, said that he objected to the fact that his community received only 40 percent of the total revenue.
"We want to have 60 percent share of the tourist revenue to pay for operating costs", he said.
The Penglipuran tourism manager said that operating costs for trekking, traditional dance, cultural shows including religious rituals had increased.
The cost of operating lodges and community halls for tourism had also increased.
"An increase in revenue for not only the Bangli community but for tourism based communities across Bali would benefit tourism island-wide" said the tourism manager.
The Southeast Asian Times

Riau forest fires force Chevron to shut down oil wells
From News Reports:
Jakarta, March 21: PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI), the Indonesian subsidiary of US-based oil company Chevron has shut down 573 oil wells in the Riau province of Sumatra.
The deteriorating quality of air due to forest fires that have been raging for the last month has forced PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI) to shut down its oil wells and evacuate workers and there families.
Indonesia's upstream oil and gas regulator, SKK Migas, public relations officer, Handoyo Budi Santoso, said that oil assets in Riau province are important to national crude oil production.
"The biggest production loss came from the shutdown of Rokan block, operated by Chevron Pacific Indonesia, the country's biggest producer of crude oil production", he said
The Jakarta Posts reports that potential losses are estimated at about 12,000 barrels of oil a day.
The Southeast Asian Times


Sabah caters to influx of tourists from China

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, March 5:
The New Straits Times reports that there was an 86 percent increase in tourist arrivals from China
to Sabah in the last two years.
Data from the Sabah Tourism Board reportedly shows that 193,010 tourist tourists arrived in Sabah from China in 2011 increasing to 360,361 in 2013
Sabah West Coast Coffeeshop Association chairman, Yong Chee Yun, said coffee shop operators were catering to the influx of tourists from China.
"Coffee shops displayed tourist friendly signs in Chinese saying 'how are you?' and menues included China's favourite foods", he said.
Sabah and Labuan Chapter chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels and general manager of the At Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort,
said that staff members are encouraged to learn Mandarin.
"So that they can converse better with guests" he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Pilots strike forces Merpati to cancel
flights

From News Reports:
Jakarta,January 29: A pilots strike forced State-owned PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines to cancelled all scheduled flights to Surabaya, Merauke and Timika on Saturday, reports The Jakarta Post.
Merpati corporate secretary Riswanto Chendra Putra said that the airline had not paid salaries to pilots and cabin crew for two months.
The Jakarta Post reports that PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines was required to restructure its operations.
Merpati corporate secretary Riswanto Chendra Putra says that Merpati has signed a memorndum of understanding (MoU) with PT Armagedon Indonesia and PT Bentang Persada Gemilang to restructure the company.
The airline has debts of Rp 6.5 trillion (US$533 million) reports the Jakarta Post.
"The management would pay the salaries around March or early April, said the Merpati corporate secretary.
Merpati’s workers union advisory board official, Erry Wardhana, said about 200 Merpati pilots planned to strike again next Saturday for an indefinite period.
"The pilots would strike until 1,600 Merpati employees were paid", he said.
The union advisory board official says that this is the first time that Merpati workers have gone on strike over unpaid wages.
The pilots are owed wages for December and January reports the Jakarta Post.
The Southeast Asian Times