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Thailand: Thai fortune teller, policeman charged with royal defamation

Three Thais, including a well-known fortuneteller and a senior police officer, were charged with royal defamation on October 21.

The fortuneteller, Suriyan Sucharitpholwong, a senior police officer and a royal consultant were charged for furthering their personal interests in the name of the royal family.

Fortune telling is has a huge market in Thailand, with top oracles charging more than US$ 150 per session and appearing on daily television shows and in newspaper columns.

In addition, a police officer (Prakrom Warunprapa) was arrested for protesting against the royal family and committed suicide in the military prison on October 23.

Prakrom tried to hang himself with a shirt in his room at a temporary detention facility. A night-shift guard found Prakrom hanging and saved him. He was still alive at the time and was taken to the Corrections Department’s hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Vietnam: Vietnam blocks Chinese apple imports over island dispute

China’s apple exporters will have to come up with new, non-controversial packaging if they want to resume sending the fruit to Vietnam, authorities said on October 22.

Customs official at Quang Ninh province, which borders China’s Guangxi province, started refusing the Chinese apple shipments in late September after noticing that cartons were printed with the claim “Diaoyu Island belongs to China" in English and Chinese.

The carton messages violate international and Vietnamese law, according to a statement on the official Vietnamese customs’ website.

In addition, China’s territorial claims are under protest from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Brunei.

China’s propaganda campaign, critics say, includes maps that assert a vast Chinese dominion over the South China Sea and imagery on official travel documents.

According to, the apples in Vietnamese market are imported mostly from China. Apples from the US will be labeled as imported from the US; apples imported from other region do not have to label its origin.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Myanmar: Myanmar to curb use of US dollar to stabilize domestic currency

Myanmar has announced it will curb the widespread use of US dollars by firms, to stabilize the tumbling domestic currency, the kyat.

The central bank has revoked foreign exchange licenses from businesses ranging from hotels, travel agencies and airlines to souvenir shops.

The bank said the move was intended to promote the use of kyat in making payments for goods and services within the country and to cut down the use of cash by encouraging domestic debit cards and credit cards, internal payment cards and online payment system.

According to the statement, all hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, duty free shops, airlines, hospitals, freight forwarders, telecom enterprises, media, apartments, super markets, souvenir shops, gold clubs and the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holding will have to give back their licenses.

Myanmar is not the only country in Asia where the US dollar is used as an unofficial second currency, essentially replacing the national currency for all larger transactions.

In Cambodia, the US dollar is also used alongside the domestic currency.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Translated and compiled by Eric Wong and June
Edited by Olivia Yang