‘Listen to how quiet it is’: on the North Korean side of DMZ, change is in the air

Lieutenant Colonel Hwang Myong Jin has been a guide on the northern side of the demilitarised zone that divides the two Koreas for five years. He says that since the summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the presidents of South Korea and the United States, things have quieted down noticeably in perhaps the last place on Earth where the cold war still burns hot.
“A lot of things have changed. Listen to how quiet it is,” he said as he stood on the balcony of a large…

Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy charged under new ‘royal insult’ law

Cambodia’s former opposition leader faces royal insult charges punishable by a jail term, according to a court summons, the first prominent figure to be accused under the new law.
The adoption of the law in February triggered alarm from rights groups who warned it would become another tool for Prime Minister Hun Sen to stifle dissent.
The strongman premier is seeking to prolong his 33-year grip on power in a general election next month and has used the courts to cripple his opponents….

Mahathir Mohamad Q&A: Malaysian PM on Beijing, Jack Ma and why battleships in the South China Sea are a bad idea

In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post this week, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad opened up about relations with China and his ideas for getting his country going again. But he deflected questions on whether he wants to stay on as premier beyond the two years he has promised to stay in office. Below is an excerpt of the interview at his Putrajaya office.
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Q: Selamat Hari Raya. We hear you had a big Hari Raya celebration (to mark the end of Ramadan) at…

Top Philippine court hears landmark gay marriage case

The Philippines’ top court heard arguments on Tuesday for the legalisation of gay marriage, a historic first in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation.
Two same-sex couples denied licences to wed urged the Supreme Court to strike down a 1987 law that states marriage must be between a man and a woman.
“When the right to marry, a decision so personal, so intimate and so life-changing, is denied to LGBT people, the state is not valuing their dignity,” lawyer Jesus Falcis, who is also…

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘planning a third meeting’ with Xi Jinping

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to visit China as early as Tuesday to brief President Xi Jinping on his Singapore summit with US President Donald Trump and discuss a future negotiating strategy, Japanese publication Nikkei Asian Review reported.
Citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter, the report said Kim was expected to fly into Beijing, where security preparations were already under way.
Trump says North Korea stand-off ‘largely solved’ by giving Kim his number…

At least one person dead after a ferry with 80 passengers sinks in Indonesia’s Lake Toba

At least one person died after a ferry containing around 80 passengers sank in Lake Toba in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Monday, a disaster agency official said.
The Sinar Bangun ferry sank in rough weather at around 5.30pm about a mile from the port of Tigaras, while carrying passengers from the lake’s volcanic Samosir Island to the town of Parapat Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPT) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
A woman in Indonesia went to check her corn and was…

‘My people can’t compete’: as China’s influence grows in Pacific, so does local resentment and international worry

In the gritty, steamy streets of Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, signs of China’s push into the Pacific island nation are inescapable.
A Chinese worker stencils a logo for China Railway Group outside the new national courthouse it’s building; China Harbor Engineering Group labourers tar roads under the searing midday sun.
Little by little they are taking slices of our businesses. My people feel we can’t compete
Martyn Namorong, anti-China campaigner in Papua New…