The Southeast Asian Times
NEWS FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
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established 2000
 
Sunday 20 January 2019
GATHERINGS:
An informed guide to happenings throughout the region.
 

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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Israeli athletes banned from para olympics in Malaysia

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (MOM) warns that barring Israeli athletes from Malaysia may result in Malaysia losing the chance to host the World Para Swimming Championships in Kuching in Malaysia's Sarawak

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 20: The Mahathir government said on Wednesday that it would not move from its ban on Israeli athletes from participating in the World Para Swimming Championships to be held in Kuching in Malaysia's Sarawak in July or from entering Malaysia, reports the Star.
"The government will refrain from hosting events including Israeli participants in the future," said Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah .
He said that the decision made by the cabinet to ban the Israeli athletes from the World Para Swimming Championships was made for humanitarian reasons.
"The decision made by the cabinet last week was about fighting on behalf of the oppressed", he said.
Malaysia’s ministerial decision last week to bar the athletes reportedly has the support of 29 non-governmental organisations including the Palestine Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM).
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September that" the world rewards Israel for breaking international laws of armed conflict in Palestine, saying that "recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is provoking”.
Senior Advisor for International Affairs, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI), Oh Ei Sun said that it was not just Mahathir who held a strong stance on Israel, saying that “successive Malaysian governments have never relented when it comes to admitting Israelis to Malaysia, much less establishing formal ties”.
“Although Malaysia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, Israel is a full-fledged member of the international community, being a member of both the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee, as well as many other established international organisations and sports bodies,” he said.
“So countries hosting the related sports events are obliged under international rules and customs to allow Israeli athletes to compete if they are qualified.”
The Olympic Council of Malaysia (MOM) secretary-general Nazifuddin Mohd Najibt has warned that barring Israeli athletes from Malaysia may result in Malaysia losing the chance to host the World Para Swimming Championships and strain ties with international sporting bodies.
"Another country would likely be chosen to host the swimming tournament", he said .
He said that Malaysia’s relations with the International Paralympic Committee, International Olympic Committee (IOC), and International Swimming Federation (Fina) among others would be affected.
The Southeast Asian Times


Vietnamese sentenced to prison for illegal logging and bribery

The Peoples Court in Vietnam's Dak Nong Province hands down prison sentences of up to seven years for illegal logging and bribery

From News reports:
Hanoi, January 19: The Peoples Court in Vietnam's Dak Nong Province in the southern highlands sentenced six Vietnamese from Ðak G’Long District Quang Son Commune to up to seven years in prison for illegal logging and bribery last week, reports the Vietnam News Service.
Phan Thành Nghia, 52, Nguyen Cong Danh, 40, Nguyen Van Tuong, 31, Phung Minh Chien, 38 and Y Kruih Hmok, 34, and Ðinh Gia Tuon, 34 were sentenced to between two to seven years in prison for illegal logging of 6.4ha valued at VND78.8 million (US$3,400) between October 2017 and February 2018.
A bribe of VND10 million (US$430) and hand carved traditional Vietnamese furniture valued at VND5.5 million (US$236) was reportedly offered to the former deputy head of the Forest Protection and development Management Department, Ðinh Gia Tuon, 34, who was sentenced to two years in prison for accepting a bribe.
The Dak Nong Province Police reportedly said that five employees of the Forest Protection and development Management Department, who were found to be involved in illegal logging could not be charged.
"The exact location of the illegal logging could not be determined", police said.
In October 2018 Vietnam and the European Union (EU) signed the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA) in an effort to stop illegal logging in Vietnam.
The Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA) between Viet Nam and the European Union includes the Vietnam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS) that reportedly ensures that wood and timber products exported from Vietnam to the European Union have legal origins.
In August 2017 Three officials of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development including Forest Protection were sentenced to up to three years in jail for illegal logging of the Thanh Phu nature reserve in the Mekong Delta.
An official of the provincial Protection Forest Management Committee claimed that trees in the Thanh Phu nature reserve in the Mekong Delta had stopped growing due to disease and infestation.
The official reportedly directed his subordinates to make a false report of infestation, requesting the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to allow the logging of 25.8 hectares of forest in the Thanh Phu nature reserve.
An examination of the Thanh Phu nature reserve by the Ben Tre Plant Protection Department showed that trees in the section of forest that had been logged were reportedly "perfectly healthy" and not affected by any disease as claimed.
The Southeast Asian Times

Indonesian fisherman abducted in waters off disputed Sabah, set free

From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 18: The second of two Indonesian fishermen abducted in the waters off the disputed Malaysian state of Sabah and held hostage by Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo in Sulu in the Southern Philippines was set free on Tuesday, reports Antara.
Indonesian fishermen Samsul Saguni and Usman Yunus were taken from their fishing boats in the waters of Pulau Gaya off Semporna in the Malaysian state of Sabah on November 11, 2018.
Usman Yunus was set fee on December 7, 2018.
Indonesia's Foreign Ministry Director for Protection of Indonesian Citizens and Legal Entities, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said that "Samsul Saguni was at the Westmincom Military Base in Jolo in the Southern Philippines where he is undergoing a medical examination.
"He will be flown to Zamboanga City and handed over to the Indonesian Embassy for repatriation to Indonesia", he said.
He said that a video of Samsul Saguni shown pleading for help on social media in Malaysia earlier this year drew attention to his plight.
"Abductors frequently sent such videos to the relatives of hostages in order for the relatives to make ransom payments for their release".
The Indonesian fishermen were caught in an ongoing territorial dispute over Sabah between Malaysia and the Philippines with territorial claims leading to a raid in 2014 by the Malaysian Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) on the Sabah disrict of Kunak.
Former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said then that Sabah had gained its independence through Malaysia with the agreement of the United Nations in 1963.
"No one can stake a claim on Sabah," he said.
The raid by Malaysia that included ground troops and airstrikes resulted in the arrest of 121 alleged illegal Filipino immigrants including supporters of the of the territorial claim made on Sabah by the late Sultan of Sulu in the southern Philippines.
The self proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram, said on his death bed in the Philippines in October 2013 that the fight to repossess Sabah from Malaysia "must continue on behalf of all Filipino's,"
The death of the self proclaimed Sultan of Sulu was followed by an attack by the sultans younger on Sabah with about 200 armed supporters and with the Philippines giving Malaysia notice that it would file an "ejectment" suit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Philippine president elect Rodrigo Duterte said in 2016 that he recognised the claim of the late Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram, on Sabah, saying that Sabah was leased not ceded to the British North Borneo Co., saying that the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu continue to receive lease payments for Sabah.
"We have to stake our claim," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Philippine military calls on municipalities nationwide to declare communists persona non grata

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. commends Sibagat town municipality in Agusan del Sur for declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - New People’s Army (NPA) persona non grata

From News Reports:
Manila, January 17: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have called on Local Government Units (LGU) nationwide to follow the the example of Sibagat town in Agusan del Sur that has formally condemned the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the armed wing New People’s Army (NPP), calling the CPP-NPP "persona non grata" reports the Philippine Inquirer.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. commended Sibagat town municipality in Agusan del Sur on Monday for declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - New People’s Army (NPA) "persona non grata" in a council resolution on 21 December 2017.
The council Sibagat town municipality in Agusan del Sur effectively banned the CPP-NPA from the Philipines following the abduction of two Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers and 12 militiamen by reportedly 50 Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - New People’s Army (NPA) during a raid on a Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) new Tubigon patrol base in Agusan del Sur on December 16, 2017.
Sibagat Mayor Maria Liza Evangelista and the municipal legislative council unanimously approved the resolution condemning the CPP-NPA.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr who referred to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - New People’s Army (NPA) as Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) said “we hope that more Local Government Units (LGU) will finally recognize the need to take similar action against the New Peoples Army (NPA) and its front organizations and join the whole-of-nation approach to completely annihilate the communist armed conflict,” he said.
On December 22, 2017 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly called for the implementation of tactics used by President Suharto in 1965-66 to eliminate communists in Indonesia in order to eliminate the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New Peoples Army (NPA).
He said in a speech to the 10th Infantry Division Headquarters at Camp General Manuel T. Yan Sr. in Mawab, Compostela Valley Province in Mindanao in the southern Philippines that he would adopt the late President Suharto's campaign against communism that led to the killing of up to two million Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters.
Philippine President Duterte said in his speech that he did not subscribe to the unilateral declaration of a ceasefire by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New Peoples Army (NPA), over Christmas, saying “do not fight them, destroy them".
"Destroy them, kill them,” he said.
In November 2015 Judges of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in The Hague concluded that the Indonesian government was responsible for the 1965-1966 killings of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters.
The judges said then that the killings under president Suharto of up to two million Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters had "the political objective of removing the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and its sympathizers from the Indonesian political scene".
The Southeast Asian Times


Rainmaker aircraft deployed to douse smog over Bankgok

The Thai Pollution Control Department (PCD) reports that hazardous dust that has engulfed Bangkok has exceeded the Thai safety limit

From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 16: The Royal Thai Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department has deployed two aircraft with artificial rainmaking technology to douse the thick smog that has engulfed east Bangkok, reportedly exceeding the Thai Pollution Control Department safety limit, reports the Bangkok Post.
A meeting was reportedly held by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) secretariate office, chaired by the Deputy Chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces on Monday ahead of the decision to deploy the rainmaking aircraft with Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who is also the Commander of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) attending the meeting.
Royal Thai Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department, official, Surasee Kittimonton, said that depending on weather conditions, rainmaking is to be conducted over three days, beginning Tuesday.
"Two rainmaking Casa aircraft will be deployed from Rayong airport", he said.
He said rain will fall over eastern Bangkok, over Bang Na, Sai Mai, Lat Krabang and Bang Kapi, in the evening.
The Thai Pollution Control Department (PCD) reports that various areas of Bangkok and its vicinity are engulfed with PM2.5 hazardous dust particles that exceed the Thai safety limit of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre.
PM2.5 levels in Bangkok ranged between 70 and 100 microgrammes per cubic metre according to readings taken by 10 air quality stations in Bangkok at 6pm Monday.
Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) was working on both short- and long-term measures to reduce pollution.
He said that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will wash down roads, pavements and the route for the construction of the electric train project in order to reduce pollution.
"In the long run, electric train construction projects must be expedited to reduce air pollution", he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Muslim Mindanao mayors escape arrest for gun possession and illegal drugs
From News Reports:
Manila, January 15: The mayor's of Montawal town, in Maguindanao province in Muslim Mindanao in the southern Philippines, who were named by Philippine President Duterte, a former Mindanao mayor, as politicians involved in drugs, escaped arrest for gun possession and illegal drugs in a raid on their compounds last week, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
Mayor Vicman Montawal, of Datu Montawal town, his father, Vice Mayor Ottoh Montawal, and his brother Andy fled before 50 heavily armed police officers from the Philippine National Police-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PNP-ARMM) raided their compounds with search warrants for gun possession and illegal drugs.
The mayor, vice mayor and his brother are believed to be "on the run" after the three men reportedly used a secret escape route located at the rear of the vast Montawal compound, fleeing towards Bulod, a swampy village accessible only by motorboat.
Two of the mayor's armed security men were reportedly killed when they traded shots with police.
Wife of vice Mayor Montawal, Krishel Montawal, reportedly said that police confiscated P3 million worth of jewelry and almost P400,000 in cash from the family home.
"The police found no illegal drugs", she said.
Philippine National Police-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PNP-ARMM) are reportedly coordinating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in their search for the Montawals.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) Bill that was designed to end more than 40 years of conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government in Muslim Maguindanao in the southern Philippines was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 26, 2018.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that would disarm Muslim Maguindanao allows for a wealth and power sharing arrangement between the Philippine government and the proposed Bangsamoro political entity and includes the surrender of weapons in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), that was to be dissolved with the passing of the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) Bill.
The Southeast Asian Times


Myanmar Court rejects appeal for release of reporters, calling for proof of innocense

The appeal for the release from prison of Myanmar reporters Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and Wa Lone, 32, was rejected by the Myanmar Supreme Court last week

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, January 14: The Supreme Court of Myanmar has rejected the appeal for the release of Myanmar reporters, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who were found guilty of breaching Section 3.1 (c) of the Burma Official Secrets Act of 1923, with the Supreme Court judge placing the burden of proof on the reporters, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Supreme Court judge Aung Naing said that the burden of proof was on Myanmar reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who were employed by Rueters, to provide sufficient evidence to prove their innocence.
The Supreme Court Judge said that the sentence handed down by Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin in Septemeber was "a suitable punishment" for the crime committed by the reporters.
Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin, sentenced the two reporters to seven years imprisonment in Septemeber, saying that the court had taken into account the time served since their detention.
Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been held in custody at the Insein prison in Yangon since their arrest in December 2017 have pleaded not guilty to breaching the secrets act.
The reporters claim that they were investigating alleged abuses by Myanmar government security forces against the Muslim Rohingya's in Myanmar's Rakhine State when arrested.
Laywer for the reporters during their trial in April last year, Than Zaw Aung, claimed that the arrest of the reporters "amounted to entrapment by police."
He said that the reporters had been arrested immediately after they had been handed documents, believed to contain information about "the situation in northern Rakhine" at a meeting in Yangon that was arranged by two police officers.
Myanmar Police Captain, Moe Yan Naing reportedly told the Yangon court during the trial in April that a high ranking police officer had ordered two policemen to meet the reporters employed by international news agency, Rueters, and hand over documents believed to contain information that reportedly contravened the Burma Official Secrets Act.
He told the court that the order to entrap the two Reuters reporters found with documents that contained "details of police strength and weapons and the position of security forces in northern Rakhin State", was given by Brig Gen Tin Ko Ko.
"Brig Gen Tin Ko Ko ordered two police officers to hand over secret documents to the two reporters", he said.
He claimed that the meeting between the two Rueters reporters and the two police officers was arranged at a restuartant outside Yangon, saying that a police team intercepted, arresting the reporters with the documents.
The Southeast Asian Times

Hundreds arrested in raids in Thailand in "Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner"
From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 13: Thailand's Immigration Bureau made 490 arrests in raids on 239 locations across Thailand at hotels, language schools, shops, nightspots, dormitories and other locations under "Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner" on Friday, reports the Bangkok Post.
Immigration Bureau commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, said that 375 arrests were non-Thai nationals, 115 were Thai nationals.
He said that the majority of offenders, who were from India, Laos, Myanmar, Germany, Sweden, Vietnam, US, Russia and Italy, were arrested for overstaying their visas.
He said that offenders also from Myanmar and Laos and from Cambodia and Pakistan were arrested for illegal entry.
"Foreigners also from Cambodia, Myanmar, China, Laos, India, Japan, Italy and the US were arrested for related offences including working without a permit", he said.
The arrests on Friday under "Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner" reportedly replaced “Operation Black Eagle”, introduced in 2017, reportedly aimed at Nigerians residing illegally in Thailand.
Friday's arrests reportedly marked the 42nd raid across Thailand at 6,252 locations resulting in 6,468 arrests in two years by agencies including the Patrol and Special Operation Division, the Arintarat 26 task force, the Narcotics Suppression Bureau's Sayop Pairee special task force, the Tourist Police Bureau, the Immigration Bureau and Bang Rak police station in Bangkok.
The Southeast Asian Times

Philippines takes 600 alleged terrorists off terrorist list

Joan Carling, activist from the Kankanaey tribe of the northern region of Cordillera in the Philippines, has been taken off the "terrorist" list

From News Reports:
Manila, January 12: The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) has amended the petition it filed in December in which it declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New Peoples Army (NPA) "terrorist organisations", removing hundreds of alleged "terrorists" from the list, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
The amended petition removed 600 alleged "terrorists" from the list of alleged "terrorists" was submitted to the Manila Regional Trial Court last week included Joan Carling who was bestowed the title "2018 Champion of the Earth by the UN Environment Program."
Joan Carling , activist from the Kankanaey tribe of the northern region of Cordillera in the Philippines ,who is also the former chair of the urban poor group Tongtongan ti Umili and a coordinator for the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said the amended petition only removed the immediate danger of being tagged a "terrorist".
"This is a partial victory, but we cannot let our guard down,” she said.
She said that the Philippine government's spying on political groups and nongovernment organizations remained a threat to free speech and the assertion of human rights.
UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and five Baguio-based activists, including Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding were also removed from the "terrorist" list.
In December Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte signed the proclaimation that classifies the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People's Army as terrorists under the Republic Act 10168 and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.
Organizations or group or persons under the Acts are reportedly defined as "any person or entity designated and/or identified as a terrorist, one who finances terrorism, or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council Resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for the implementation of tactics used by President Suharto in 1965-66 to eliminate communists in Indonesia in eliminating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New Peoples Army (NPA) in a speech to the 10th Infantry Division Headquarters at Camp General Manuel T. Yan Sr. in Mawab, Compostela Valley Province in Mindanao in the southern Philippines in December.
The President said that he would adopt the late President Suharto's campaign against communism that led to the killing of up to two million Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters.
The Southeast Asian Times


China's warships dock in Cambodia to inaugurate new naval base

China's warships at dock in Port Sihanoukville in Cambodia's Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, January 11: China's People’s Liberation Army Navy ships docked at Port Sihanoukville on Cambodia's south west coast on Wednesday to celebrate the inauguration of a new naval base on Koh Rong island, despite Prime Minister Hun Sen's denial that a naval base was under construction, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy, Tea Sokha, who is also secretary-general of the National Committee for Maritime Security (NCMS) said that the visit of three People’s Liberation Army Navy ships to Cambodia "strengthens bilateral ties"
"The new naval base was constructed to ensure maritime security", he said.
He said that the new naval base on Koh Rong island includes the construction of bridges that connect the island with nearby islands and the installation of an artificial marine life habitat.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said on an official visit to Tokyo in October last year that "Cambodia will not allow foreign military bases on its soil"
"The Constitution of Cambodia bans the presence of foreign troops or military bases on its territory, whether naval forces, infantry forces or air forces," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


Malaysian workers sacked for anti-monarchy postings on social media

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1984 that makes it a crime to insult the monachy in October last year

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 10: Three employees have been sacked for social media postings deemed as insults and as such seditious against the Malaysian monarchy following the unprecedented abdication of King Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan on Sunday, reports the Star.
Pemandu Associate, a consultancy that was associated with the former ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak administration, reportedly suspended an employee for tweeting alleged profanities against the monarchy, saying that "the employee was suspended with immediate effect on Tuesday".
The suspension of the employee reportedly followed complaints from the public who urged the consultncy to take action against the employee.
"Pemandu Associates takes the postings seriously," the consultancy said.
Cisco Asean reportedly sacked an employee for allegedly insulting the King -Yang di-Pertuan Agong - on Facebook on Tuesday, also following public pressure.
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) also suspended an employee for allegedly insulting Malaysia's royal institution on social media, saying that "action was taken after an investigation."
"The statement made by the employee on a social media account was her own opinion and differs from the company’s principles", Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) said in a statement.
In July last year lawyer, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, was summoned for questionong by police under the Sedition Act 1984 after reports were lodged against her by the Malay rights group Perkasa over an article she wrote.
The Malay rights group Perkasa reportedly accused the lawyer of sedition and inciting hatred towards the Conference of Rulers by questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy in a democracy.
The lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, who is also a Pakatan Harapan (PH) political party activist said that "the monarchy was outdated and that it could no longer be accepted or defended."
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is chairman of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM) and that is a part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition political party, called for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1984 in October last year.
The Southeast Asian Times

Call for Conference of Rulers to decide on next King of Malaysia

The Conference of Rulers main task is to elect the King of Malaysia -Yang di-Pertuan Agong - every five years in rotation from nine rulers

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 9: Constitutional lawyers have called on the Conference of Rulers not to take too long to decide on the next King despite the Constitution that does not stipulate a time for the "ascension of the King" following the unprecedented abdication of King Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan on Sunday, reports the Star.
Constitutional lawyer, Prof Dr Aziz Bari, cautioned that taking too much time to decide on the next King - Yang di-Pertuan Agong - "may not be advisable", saying that "the King is the repository power of authority."
“It is important for the Conference of Rulers not to depart from the succession plan following the line of rotation," he said
He said that althought the rotation system for the installation of the King allows every state to have a turn there are situations where the Conference of Rulers can exercise discretion and change the line of rotation.
"The Conference of Rulers can extend a period of time to allow for a Regent to be installed as the Sultan before he is installed as King,” he said.
He said that breaking away from tradition would have to be done very carefully by the Conference of Rulers as the monarchy is deemed the most stable institution in Malaysia.
"This is what places us above a republic," he said.
In June the now former King Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan gave his consent to the appointment of lawyer, Tommy Thomas as the new Attorney General on the advice of newly elected Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad despite opposition to the appointment by the Institute of Islamic Strategic Research Malaysia (Iksim) on the grounds that the attorney general was a non-Muslim.
Institute of Islamic Strategic Research Malaysia (Iksim) official, Prof Mahamad Naser Disa said that because the new attorney general is not a Muslim he cannot assist the King -Yang di-Pertuan Agong - in preserving the sanctity of Islam at all times, saying that "the appointment of the new attorney general is in breach of Article 145(2) of the Federal Constitution."
In August the newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the parliament that the Malaysian government will not amend the Federal Constitution that would allow the King - Yang di-Pertuan Agong - to reject laws passed by Parliament, saying that "there will be no return to absolute monarchy."
The amendments to the Federal Constitution in 1994 took away the King - Yang di-Pertuan Agong - power to reject a Bill passed in both houses of parliament.
Dr Mahathir told the Parliament that the constitutional amendments were not aimed at eroding the special position of the Conference of Rulers but to ensure Bills passed by both Houses of Parliament became law as soon as possible.
The Southeast Asian Times

Malaysian King who swore in Mahathir and pardons Anwar, abdicates

Malaysian King Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, head of state of the federation of Malaya, has abdicated

From News Reports:
Kuala Lumpur, January 8: Malaysian King Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, head of state of the federation of Malaya, who swore in Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister of Malaysia in May last year and granted jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim a royal pardon, has abdicated, reports the Star.
"The National Palace informs that His Majesty has resigned as the 15th King effective January 6," the Royal Palace said in a statement on Monday.
King Muhammad V reportedly expressed his gratitude to the Malay Rulers who elected him as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on December 13, 2016 on his unprecedented abdication on Sunday.
Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V, granted former Deputy Prime Minister, Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh and People's Justice Party opposition party founder, Anwar Ibrahim, 70, a royal pardon after serving three years of a five-year jail sentence for sodomy following the election of Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister.
An application for a royal pardon of Anwar Ibrahim in 2015 was rejected by then King Abdul Halim, Sultan of Kedah who said that the five year jail sentence imposed on the former Deputy Prime Minister should be carried out.
The former Deputy Prime Minister, Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh and People's Justice Party opposition party founder, Anwar Ibrahim who was disqualified as a member of parliament under Article 48(4)(c) of the Federal Constitution was banned from political activity for the duration of his prison term of five years.
The Royal Palace reportedly did not give a reason for the abdication of King Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan that had cut short his five year term.
The Southeast Asian Times

Military bans books on defunct Indonesian Communist party

Malang Public Literacy Movement (GPMB), Hutri Agustino, who is also a teacher at the Social and Political Sciences Department of Muhammadiyah University Malang (UMM), says that the military confiscation of books on the defuct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) "is a joke"

From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 7: Indonesia's Malang Public Literacy Movement (GPMB), says that "banning books is wrong" following the confiscation of books on the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) last week, reports the Jakarta Post.
Indonesia's Kedri Military Command confiscated books of the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), including Komunisme ala Aidit (Communism a la Aidit), The Missing Link G30S, Siapa Dalang G30S (Who’s Behind G30S) and Kabut G30S (The Mist of G30S) on the grounds that "the books were considered communist propaganda", reports the Jakarta Post.
Indonesia's Malang Public Literacy Movement (GPMB) official, Hutri Agustino, who is also a teacher at the Social and Political Sciences Department of Muhammadiyah University Malang (UMM) says that Indonesia's military confiscation of books on the Indonesia Communist Party (PKI) "is a joke", saying "this is the Reform Era"
He called for clear regulations on the banning of ideologies deemed to contradict Pancasila values, saying that "banning books is wrong"
"There should be a way for every Indonesian citizen to thoroughly learn about ideologies that might be in conflict with Pancasila,” he said.
In October 2017 President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is a Christian, reportedly said at a ceremony commemorating Pancasila that his administration would never allow communism to flourish in Indonesia, saying that "the 1966 Temporary People's Consultative Assembly Decree (TAP MPRS) on the disbandment of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) clearly stated that communism was banned in Indonesia.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called on Indonesians to "hold on to Pancasila to maintain unity" saying, "don't give room to the ideology of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)."
In July 2016 the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in the Hague found that Indonesia is guilty of Crimes Against Humanity under the 1948 International Genocide Convention for the 1965 killings of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members.
Presiding judge Zakeria Yacoob said that "the facts brought before the tribunal by the prosecution include acts that fall within those enumerated in the Genocide Convention,"
"Indonesia was bound by the 1948 Genocide Convention under international law," he said.
In April 2016 Indonesian Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), that is incorporated in Indonesia's largest Muslim clerical organistion, the Indonesian Ulema Council Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), called on the government to tell the truth about the 1965 -1966 massacre of members and supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) spokesman Imam Aziz, said then that the government should reveal the truth on the killing and the unjust imprisonment of millions of members and supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
"Revealing the truth would put an end to the “glorification” of the perpetrators, who regard themselves as victors and heroes", he said.
The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) was allegedly complicit in the Communist purge under former Indonesian president Suharto.
The Southeast Asian Times


Philippines call on Supreme Court to declare martial law unconstitutional

Albay1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, center, denounces the Supreme Court ruling that extended martial law, saying that the extention of martial law in Mindanao in the southern Philippines is unconstitutional

From News Reports:
Manila, January 6: Philippine opposition legislators called on the Supreme Court to void and declare as unconstitutional the third extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over the whole of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, saying that the state of rebellion does not exist, reports the Philippine Inquirer.
The legislators reportedly say that martial law could no longer be extended because its avowed purpose of ending the Marawi City siege in 2017 and annihilating the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorist leadership had been accomplished.
Seven opposition legislators filed the 46-page petition questioning the Resolution of Both Houses No. 16, approved on December 12, 2018, that extended martial law in Muslim Mindanao, saying the resolution "mocks" the 1987 Constitution because a state of rebellion does not exist in the southern Philippines region.
Opposition legislator, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that the Supreme Court had ruled in previous petitions questioning the imposition of martial law that there must be an actual rebellion and that public safety must be at risk before martial rule can be imposed or extended.
The opposition legislator argued that President Duterte’s December 6 letter to Congress that initiated a third extension of martial law “failed to demonstrate the sufficient factual basis for his request, while his allegations of lawless violence and terrorism were not connected to rebellion.”
"The President admitted that the alleged rebellion has been significantly placed under control,” he said.
In December 2018 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called on congress to extend martial law over the southern Philippine province of Mindanao for another year on the recommendation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo said President Duterte was “compelled” to extend martial law in Mindanao in order to strengthen economic development that can only be achieved if there is peace and order.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who was the mayor of Davao City in Mindanao before he was elected president in May 2016, declared martial law over the southern Philippines a year later following the occupation of Marawi City by Abu Sayyaf Maute ISIS fighters, saying then that "the proclamation will last 60 days."
The Southeast Asian Times


Cambodia's garment workers strike in support of sacked union representative

Hundreds of striking Prestige Garment Co Ltd garment workers call for the reinstatement of sacked union represenative at the Kandal Ministry of Labour on Thursday

From News Reports:
Phnom Penh, January 5: Garment workers striking in Cambodia's Kandal province in support of a sacked union representative say they will
petition Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in negotiations for his reinstatement at the garment factory, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Sacked Prestige Garment Co Ltd workers union representative, Huon Sovith, said that the striking workers called on government intervention after negotiations with Prestige Garment Co Ltd to reinstate him failed.
"I was sacked for forming a trade union at the garment factory", he said.
He said that despite the failure of negotialtions to reinstate him, the Prestige Garment Co Ltd agreed to a number of demands.
“The factory agreed to register as a member of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)," he said.
He said that the Prestige Garment Co Ltd also agreed to abandon the practice of "forcing employees to begin work before their shift starts".
The garment factory also agreed to deduct less from employee wages for each day the employee was on leave.
The factory also agreed to stop daily lunch and dinner deductions while the employee was on leave.
Sacked union representative, Huon Sovith, said the striking workers will march on Prime Minister Hun Sen's house to petition him to intervene in his reinstatement at the garment factory.
"The factory discriminated against me because I dared to speak against the factory who exploits the workers,” he said.
Kandal provincial Ministry of Labour official, Thul Neang, said that he would send the case to the Arbitration council to seek a solution to the factory's reluctance to reinstate the union representative.
“We tried our best to negotiate with both sides but the two could not find common ground", he said.
The Southeast Asian Times


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

Indonesia takes over West Papua
pro-independence Timika headquarters

Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police officers paint the Indonesian flag on the wall of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) headquarters in Timika, Mimika Baru district, West Papua on Monday

From News Reports:
Jakarta, January 4: The Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police have taken over the headquarters of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) that seeks independence from Indonesia, in Timika, Mimika Baru district, Papua about 3,400 kilometres east of Jakarta, for use as a joint military-police post, reports the Jakarta Post.
Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Agung Marlianto said that the headquarters of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) was taken over by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police on Tuesday.
He said that the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) is prohibited from operating in Timika.
The Mimika police chief said that 80 Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police officers were instructed to remove all Free Papua Movement (OPM) insignia including the banned West Papua separatists flag, the Morning Star or Bintang Kejora.
"The West Papua pro-independence activists were ordered not to shout freedom slogans", he said.
He said that the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police officers painted the Indonesian flag on the wall the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) headquarters
"As from Monday Papuans are prohibited from using any Free Papua Movement (OPM) insignia and symbols including the separatists Morning Star or Bintang Kejora flag.
West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesman, Ones Suhuniap said that the takeover of the headquarters was immoral and unethical.
He said that the seizure of the headquarters was improper, saying "it was built by Papuans on their own land."
West Papuans have denounced the 1969 United-Nations-supervised Act of Free Choice that confirmed the Papuan resource-rich province that includes the Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Corporation’s Grasberg gold and copper mine as part of Indonesia and demand its independence.
The Southeast Asian Times


Coronation of new Thai King to be held in May

Coronation of Thai King, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, to be held in May

From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 3: The coronation of Thai King, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who was proclaimed the 10th King of the 234-year-old Chakri Dynasty at the Dusit Palace in Bangkok in December 2016, is to be held in May, reports the Bangkok Post.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun reportedly issued a command on Tuesday, saying that a three day coronation ceremony would begin on May 4.
The new King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun reportedly accepted the invitation made by the president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA ) in December 2016 in accordance with the will of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Constitution and Palace Law.
“I accept the invitation in order to follow His Majesty King Bhumibol’s will and for the benefit of all Thai people,” he said.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announed a year of mourning for the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej that included a 30-day moratorium on state events but excluded, tourism and public transport
"Thai's should wear mourning clothes for a year and refrain from entertainment for 30 days," he said.
The late Thai king who died at aged 88 in October 2016, was cremated in a purpose built nine spire crematoriam that went up in flames in October 2017
More than a million Thais reportedly travelled from across Thailand to Bangkok by bus, train, plane, car and truck to attend the five day crematorium ceremony.
Thousands of armed Thai military personnel formed a guard of honour for the funeral procession from the Grand Palace Throne Hall where the king lay in state for 12 months to the crematorium at Sanam Luang in Bangkok .
About 5000 Thai military personnel wore traditional Thai military uniform in the royal funeral procession that ended at the crematorium.
Thai authorities estimate that more than 12 million Thais paid their respects to the late King of Thailand at the Grand Palace Throne Hall in Bangkok where the late king lay in state.
The late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej began his rein in June, 9, 1946 and is the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.
The Southeast Asian Times

Thailand to push regional trade pact, as new ASEAN chair

Designs for the 2019 ASEAN logo on display at Government House in Bangkok in November ahead of Thailand's assumption of ASEAN chair January 1, 2019 that is rotated among the ten ASEAN member states in alphabetical order

From News Reports:
Bangkok, January 2: Thailand is expected to push forward the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), that recognises ASEAN centrality, as the new chair of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, reports the Bangkok Post.
ASEAN member heads of state agreed to conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement at the handing over of the ASEAN chair for 2019 from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the 32nd Asean Summit in Singapore in November last year.
A statement issued at the end of the Summit reaffirmed the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) commitment to ASEAN centrality in the Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
The call for the completion of negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Singapore follows the failure of the 10 ASEAN member states and six country trade partnership to reach agreement at the 31st ASEAN Summit held in the Philippines in November 2017.
Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTIP) trade undersecretary, Ceferino Rodolfo, said then that "contentious issues remain unresolved" between the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and six partner countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
In July 2017 the Indonesian People Coalition for Economic Justice (IPCEJ) rejected the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on the grounds that the agreement includes an Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) that would grant corporations the exclusive right to bypass domestic legal systems and sue the Indonesia government for compensation at an international arbitration tribunal should government regulations such as rise in minimum wage limit corporate profits.
In June 2016 Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha urged the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states to unite and to strengthen their role in the building of a new balance of power in the Asia-Pacific "as the world's superpowers manoeuvered in the region"
He said that the US is "re-balancing" its foreign policy with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), China with its "One Belt, One Road" policy is seeking to advance business opportunities through the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The Southeast Asian Times

Philippine president grants land to farmers, says no need for communists

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte grants land under the Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (Cloa) to a beneficiary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) at Kidapawan City in North Cotabato Province on Saturday

From News Reports:
Manila, January 1: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has granted thousands of hectres of land under the Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (Cloa) to beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in North Cotabato province, saying that "farmers do not need help from communist rebels to own land", reports the Philippine Inquirer.
"Communist rebels were poisoning the minds of poor landless farmers to rise up against the government, he said.
President Duterte claimed that the non-implementation of the Comprehensive Agriarian Reform Program (CARP), a government initiative that aims to grant landless farmers and farm workers ownership of agricultural land, was a key reason for rebellion and violent conflict.
"Whenever there’s land conflict, armed conflict follows, he said.
He said that "war" between the Philippine government, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples Army (NPA) would not end "if land reform is not implemented" and "if farmers and farm workers continue to be deprived of land."
The President reportedly instructed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP), secretary John Rualo Castriciones to put all government land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that was enacted by Philippine congress under former President Corazon Aquino in 1988.
The President reportedly did not include private land in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) secretary John Rualo Castriciones said that the granting of land under the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (Cloa) sought to improve the livelihood of farmers.
He said that the 6,400 certificates that were granted by the President covered 11,243 hectres in 17 North Cotabato towns and one city.
"It is the largest single distribution of land in Philippines agrarian reform history," he said.
The Southeast Asian Times

Appeal for release of Myanmar reporters yet to be decided
From News Reports:

Yangon, December 31: An appeal for the release from prison of two Myanmar reporters, employed by an international news agency when arrested for violating the Official Secrets Act, will be decided next month, reports the Myanmar Times.
Yangon northern district court judge, Aung Naing, said last week that a ruling on the appeal for the release of Myanmar reporters, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who were found guilty of breaching Section 3.1 (c) of the Burma Official Secrets Act of 1923, would be given in January.
Myanmar government prosecution officer, Khine Khine Soe, said the evidence had shown the reporters had been found to have collected and kept confidential documents.
“It was found that they had the intention to harm national security and the national interest,” he said.
Lawyer for the Mynamar reporters, L. Khun Ring Pan, called on the court to overturn the Yangon northern district court decision in September that sentenced the reporters to seven years imprisonment.
Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been held in custody at the Insein prison in Yangon since their arrest in December 2017 have pleaded not guilty to breaching the secrets act.
The reporters claim that they were investigating alleged abuses by Myanmar government security forces against the Muslim Rohingya's in Myanmar's Rakhine State when arrested.
Laywer for the reporters during their trial in April,Than Zaw Aung, claimed that the arrest of the reporters "amounted to entrapment by police."
He said that the reporters had been arrested immediately after they had been handed documents, believed to contain information about "the situation in northern Rakhine" at a meeting in Yangon that was arranged by two police officers.
Myanmar Police Captain, Moe Yan Naing reportedly told the Yangon court during the trial in April that a high ranking police officer had ordered two policemen to meet the reporters employed by international news agency, Rueters, and hand over documents believed to contain information that reportedly contravened the Burma Official Secrets Act.
He told the court that the order to entrap the two Reuters reporters found with documents that contained "details of police strength and weapons and the position of security forces in northern Rakhin State", was given by Brig Gen Tin Ko Ko.
"Brig Gen Tin Ko Ko ordered two police officers to hand over secret documents to the two reporters", he said.
He claimed that the meeting between the two Rueters reporters and the two police officers was arranged at a restuartant outside Yangon, saying that a police team intercepted, arresting the reporters with the documents.
The Southeast Asian Times


"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

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 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




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
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

 

A cartoon goes inside the tour bus in Manila on the day that ended with the slaying of eight Hong Kong tourists ...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
The Yogyakarta Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) want the murder of Yogyakarta journalist in 1996 remembered in proposed Anti-Violence against Journalists Day...open here

 

What they're saying open page here

 

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

 

Timor-Leste justice threatened by firing of foreign judges
By Susan Marx ...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 dated 29 May 2012 from Vietnam Womens Union to International Olympic Committee...open here

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Australia

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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 local 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

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