Thailand to drop jail terms and fines as it decriminalises marijuana

Thailand plans to decriminalise marijuana, moving a step closer to clearing its use for recreation, after becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise medical cannabis and its use in food and cosmetics.The nation’s Food and Drug Administration is set to propose the removal of marijuana from a list of controlled drugs to the narcotics control board on Wednesday. Once cleared by the board, the proposal will need to be approved by Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul before it becomes…

As Indonesia names its new US$34 billion capital ‘Nusantara’, historically minded critics say it’s ‘hard to see the idea’

The construction of Indonesia’s US$34 billion new capital is moving ahead, with lawmakers on Tuesday passing into law the bill governing the administrative centre, which will be named Nusantara.The name Nusantara (literally, “archipelago”) was chosen by President Joko Widodo to underline the country’s motto of “unity in diversity”.Minister of National Development Planning Suharso Monoarfa told parliament on Monday that the president wanted the new capital to showcase the diversity Indonesia –…

Missing British woman’s family ‘devastated’ as body found after Tonga tsunami

The body of a British woman who went missing after a tsunami swept Tonga has been found, her brother said on Monday.Brighton-born Angela Glover was washed away by a wave when she and her husband, James, who own the Happy Sailor Tattoo in Nuku’alofa, had gone to rescue their dogs.James managed to hold onto a tree, but Glover and their dogs were swept away, New Zealand state broadcaster TVNZ reported.Glover was the founder of the Tongan Animal Welfare Society, and had a “a deep love of dogs”, her…

Philippine election body dismisses petition to bar Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jnr from presidential election

The late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ son Bongbong faces one less obstacle in his path to the May presidential election, after the election commission dismissed a petition to bar the former senator from running.The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday threw out the petition – one of multiple complaints the poll body had consolidated into seven cases – against Ferdinand Marcos Jnr’s bid to replace President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that while Marcos had failed to file income tax…

South Korean president visits UAE, seals deal for US$3.5 billion Seoul missiles

On a trip to the United Arab Emirates, the president of South Korea on Sunday reportedly reached a preliminary multibillion-dollar deal to sell Seoul’s surface-to-air missiles to Abu Dhabi and pledged deeper cooperation with the Gulf Arab federation.After South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Emirati Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai, the countries signed a memorandum of understanding for the UAE’s purchase of a South Korean mid-range missile defence system valued…

Aung San Suu Kyi is ‘indispensable’ in Myanmar peace process, Philippines says

Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is “indispensable” in restoring democracy to the military-ruled country and must be included in any peace talks, regardless of her conviction, the Philippines’ foreign secretary said on Sunday.In a strong rebuke of the Myanmar junta that overthrew Suu Kyi’s elected government last year, Teodoro Locsin condemned last week’s sentencing of the Nobel laureate and accused the military of using the judicial system to crush its opponents.Locsin said he would …

Japan’s Pacific coast hit by tsunami following Tonga volcano eruption

Japan’s Pacific coast was hit early Sunday by a tsunami following a massive underwater volcanic eruption in the South Pacific island country of Tonga the previous day, prompting the weather agency to issue a tsunami warning and advisories while urging residents to move to high ground.The Japan Meteorological Agency said a three-metre tsunami may hit some of Japan’s southwestern islands including Amami Island, and a 1.2-metre tsunami was observed in the city of Amami soon before Saturday…

Singapore PM says Asean should keep excluding Myanmar junta from meetings

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Asean should continue to exclude Myanmar’s junta leaders from meetings until headway is made on an agreement which includes a cessation of violence in the country.The Association of Southeast Asian Nations should keep to its decision made at the bloc’s summit last year of inviting only a non-political representative from Myanmar to meetings until “significant progress” is made in implementing a five-point consensus between the grouping and Naypyidaw…