Week in Focus: Indonesia Terror Attacks, Anwar Released from Malaysian Prison

Week in Focus: Indonesia Terror Attacks, Anwar Released from Malaysian Prison
CreditNanda Andrianta/Associated Press

What you need to know

A weekly roundup of the region's most important news.

Malaysia:

[Anwar], the standard-bearer of Malaysia’s reform movement, was released from prison and granted a royal pardon Wednesday in one of the most dramatic developments since an opposition alliance scored a stunning win in national elections last week. — The Washington Post

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The police investigating Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak, said they seized more than 350 boxes and bags containing cash, jewelry, and designer handbags early Friday during searches of three residences. — The New York Times

Malaysia’s new government is taking an aggressive stance with its criminal investigation of former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his family, broadening its probes beyond a multibillion-dollar sovereign-wealth fund scandal to include a 12-year-old murder case and abuse of power allegations. — The Wall Street Journal

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Malaysia's annual economic growth slowed to 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018, leaving the country's new government with the task of turning around an economy that has decelerated for two consecutive quarters. — Channel News Asia

Affirmative action drove many Chinese Malaysians abroad, now they’re thinking about coming home. — The Wall Street Journal

North Korea:

Records of an undercover agent who lived as a businessman in Malaysia reveal the ways he kept goods flowing to North Korea, despite sanctions. — The Wall Street Journal

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Trump told reporters that if the meeting were to go ahead successfully, Kim "will get protections that will be very strong." — Channel News Asia

South Korea:

Who was that white-haired Korean American man sitting at the table with Pompeo and Kim on May 9? The one smiling and laughing with Kim and Pompeo, the one featured on the front page of North Korea’s Rodong newspaper and on the state television channel. The mystery man was the subject of intense speculation in the South Korean media. — The Washington Post

China:

China launched its first privately developed rocket from a launchpad in northwestern China on Thursday (May 17), state media said, the latest milestone in the country's ambitious space exploration program. — Reuters

China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by “at least $200 billion” Friday (May, 19) as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said. — The Washington Post

Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture. — The Washington Post

A Chinese bank said on Friday (May,19) it was tightening up its management after some staff was caught offering elite clients the chance to attend a dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump and get their pictures snapped with him for US$150,000. — The World News

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Australia’s trade minister said on Friday there was 'limited scope' to resolve irritants in ties with major trading partner China, including customs delays for an Australian winemaker, during his visit to Shanghai this week. — Reuters

The Chinese government has expressed 'deep concern' over published reports that a University of Southern California gynecologist was allowed for years to treat students, many of them from China, despite accusations of sexual abuse and harassment. — Reuters

A multinational committee probing a collision between an Iranian oil tanker and a freighter off China has come to different conclusions over the causes of the accident that led to one of the worst oil spills in decades, according to an investigation report seen by AFP. — Channel News Asia

Hong Kong:

A Hong Kong court on Friday found a prominent independence activist in the Chinese-ruled territory guilty of rioting, a verdict that could see him put behind bars for up to 12 years. — Channel News Asia

A cameraman from a Hong Kong news station was roughed up and detained by the police in Beijing while trying to cover a human rights lawyer’s disciplinary hearing. — The New York Times

Hong Kong democracy activists have found an unlikely new way to get their message across - using the words of the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong. — Channel News Asia

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Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Hong Kong and often those who have a ceremony say they prefer to do it privately, away from the public gaze. — Channel News Asia

Taiwan:

As Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen reaches the half-way mark in her first term on Sunday (May 20), she is under growing pressure from a public tired of economic stagnation but critical of her reform efforts. — Channel News Asia

Japan:

After months of taking hits from the United States over North Korea policy and trade, Japan has decided that it will only be pushed so far, and is threatening to punch back. — The New York Times

Three people who were forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct eugenics law in Japan are suing the government on Thursday (May 17) as part of a movement seeking an apology and compensation for victims. — Channel News Asia

Japan's parliament on Wednesday (May 16) passed a law to encourage female candidates to stand for elections in a country where women are vastly underrepresented in politics.— Channel News Asia

India:

Elections in India are now fought and won on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app. But the service is also providing an unfiltered platform for fake news and religious hatred, activists and observers say. — The Washington Post

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The Indian government said it would halt operations against separatist militants in Jammu and Kashmir State during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Thursday. It was the first time in 18 years that the Indian government declared a cease-fire for Ramadan in the territory. — The New York Times

Large parts of Indian Kashmir closed down Saturday (May 19) to protest a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Muslim-majority region gripped by deadly new tensions and clashes with rival Pakistan. — Channel News Asia

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Cambodia

The United States has been busy in Cambodia these past few months if Hun Sen’s government is to be believed. Between trying to overthrow the government and secretly backing the now-dissolved opposition party, it has been supporting journalists who report “fake news” and spy for Washington. — The Washington Post

The new owner of Cambodia's beleaguered Phnom Penh Post on Friday (May 18) denied links to the country's authoritarian government and defended a stormy takeover which saw journalists resign en masse over fears for editorial independence. — Channel News Asia

Hundreds of Cambodians have changed profile pictures on Facebook in support of a government campaign to show their intention of choosing "stability" in general elections, despite widespread concerns that the July vote will not be free or fair. — Reuters

Indonesia:

The bombers next door: how an Indonesian family turned into suicide attackers. — The Guardian

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Following a week of deadly attacks that raised fears of a worsening terrorist threat, Indonesian prosecutors pushed Friday (May,19) for stronger action against those whipping up extremist ideas—including the death penalty. — The Wall Street Journal

Indonesian prosecutors on Friday (May 18) sought the death penalty for radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman who is on trial accused of masterminding a series of attacks, including a deadly 2016 gun and suicide bomb assault in Jakarta, from his jail cell. — Channel News Asia

Philippine:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered on Wednesday the 'total' lifting of a ban on Filipinos working in Kuwait after the two countries agreed on measures to regulate employment following a diplomatic row over alleged abuse of workers.— Channel News Asia

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The Marawi siege of a year ago stole a year of education and a piece of childhood from young Maranaos. Now they’re finding a way to move forward in spite of what they have lost. — Channel News Asia

Vietnam:

Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Friday (May 18) it had launched an in-depth investigation into ride-hailing company Grab's takeover of Uber Technologies' Southeast Asia business after an initial probe found it might breach antitrust law. — Channel News Asia

Thailand:

Hundreds of people gathered in Bangkok on Saturday (May 20) to mark the anniversary of a deadly army crackdown on an anti-government protest in 2010 that killed 91 people and injured hundreds, as pressure builds on the ruling junta to hold a general election. — Reuters

Editor: Morley J Weston


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