The News Lens international edition is sponsored by Tutor A B C

Thailand: Two Burmese sentenced to death for controversial murder of British tourists in Thailand

On December 25, a Thai court sentenced two men from Myanmar to death for the murder of two British tourists last year, ending a high-profile trial shadowed by allegations that the police had mishandled the investigation.

The bodies of the two Britons, David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found on a Koh Tao beach in September 2014. The police said that Witheridge had been raped.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both workers on the popular resort island of Koh Tao, were arrested two weeks after the murder, when the police were under pressure to solve the crime.

The police were criticized for failing to preserve evidence and the suspects testified that the police had tortured them during interrogation.

Around 1000 people gathered in front of the Thai embassy in Yangon on December 25, police said, calling for the two to be freed. Dozens of police stood guard and closed a lane in front of the building.

U Win Maung, Myanmar’s Ambassador to Thailand, said the verdict would not affect diplomatic ties.

“Everyone who is a human, if they hear that they are getting the death sentence, they will be sad, but this is the legal procedure so we have to adhere to the legal procedure," U Win Maung told reporters in Bangkok.

During the interrogation, defense lawyers claimed that the police did their job inappropriately and did not preserve the evidence well. The court said the allegation was “groundless,” saying the defendants had no evidence of abuse. Both lawyers of the workers said they would appeal.

So far, 540 prisoners have died in jail and the country has not executed the death penalty since 2009.

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Vietnam: China and Vietnam sign their first cooperation agreement

Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung led the top legislators of Vietnam to visit China for five days starting from December 23. He held talks with chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China (NPC), Zhang De-jiang.

On December 24, the leaders of both sides exchanged views on the Vietnam-China ties and reviewed achievements in bilateral cooperation of the last 65 years.

China also emphasized the need to boost people-to-people exchange between the two countries to further foster comprehensive cooperation, especially in economics and trade, hoping to solve the current imbalanced economic relationship between the two nations.

The East Sea issue was also discussed during the talks and meetings, where the Vietnamese legislative leader underlined the importance of the issue, as it concerns the sovereignty, jurisdiction and core interest of the two nations as well as the benefits of the people in both countries.

NA Chairman Hung and NPC Standing Committee Zhang Dejiang signed a cooperation agreement between the two legislative bodies, opening up a new cooperation period between their agencies.

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Cambodia: Authorities refuse to pay wages to garment workers on strike

The Cambodian government made an announcement saying the managers and garment workers have reached four consensuses to ease the weeklong protest for increasing minimum wage. But whether to pay salary during the strike and whether to release the workers allegedly destroying factory property during the protest remain controversial.

On December 23, the Svay Rieng provincial police commissioner revealed that the authorities, managers and representatives of the reunion summoned an urgent meeting and reached four consensuses, including leaving the workers two days off on December 23 and 24. The union says that it will ease the workers’ anger and stop taking to the streets and will require to the court to release the four workers who were alleged to damaging factory property.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a statement on December 21, condemning the acts of a “number of extremist groups of unions and workers” who damaged factories, and stresses that it strongly opposes to provide the usual allowance and payment for the workers.

The statement says that it is fair and logical to say you won’t get paid if you don’t work, and they will stick to the managers’ position based on Cambodian labor laws.

The Cambodian labor ministry condemned the organizers in the statement of the seven-day-strike and says that this has severely affected both the interest of the workers and the factory.

With the technical help of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the government, the managers and the laborers started the negotiation from July and it resulted in the minimum wage increasing from US$128 to US$140 in 2016.

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

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