Anger at Singapore ads offering Indonesian domestic helpers for ‘sale’

Online ads in Singapore offering Indonesian maids for sale were Wednesday condemned as “unjust and demeaning”, in a rare flare-up of tensions between the neighbours over domestic helpers.
Singapore is home to almost 250,000 maids, mostly from poor parts of Indonesia or the Philippines, who head there to earn higher salaries than they can back home.
While Indonesia regularly protests about abuse and exploitation of helpers in Malaysia and parts of the Middle East, complaints about…

Another child bride in Malaysia: UN body condemns marriage of girl, 15, and groom, 44

Malaysia’s government has come under renewed pressure to outlaw child marriages after another case of a child bride surfaced in a poor rural state, the second in weeks.
A 15-year-old girl became the second wife of a 44-year-old man in northeast Kelantan state, The New Straits Times newspaper reported.
It said the union was approved by the Islamic sharia court in July after her parents consented on the grounds of the family’s poverty. However, the case only became public knowledge…

Typhoon Mangkhut: time running out for landslide victims as Philippines death toll climbs

Hundreds of Philippine rescuers used shovels and their bare hands Tuesday to sift through a massive landslide, with dozens feared dead in the region worst-hit by Typhoon Mangkhut as the storm’s toll climbed to 74.
The typhoon, 2018’s most powerful, smashed homes and flooded key agricultural regions in the northern Philippines before battering Hong Kong and southern China with fierce winds and heavy rain. The violent storm killed four in China’s southern province of Guangdong…

Seven Vietnamese dead and five in coma after taking unknown drugs at Hanoi rave

Seven people have died and five are in a coma after taking drugs at an electronic dance music festival in Hanoi late on Sunday, officials said, as authorities scrambled to trace the substance.
The victims – all Vietnamese – tested positive for an unspecified drug prompting officials to ban all electronic dance music festivals in the capital. The deaths have shocked the conservative city. “Police investigators are trying to figure out what type of drug that was,” deputy…

Accused 1MDB fugitive Jho Low proclaims innocence on new website

The man accused of looting billions from Malaysian investment fund 1MDB may be missing from the public eye, but he’s not keeping quiet.
Jho Low, wanted in Malaysia and Singapore and described by US prosecutors as orchestrating the theft of US$4.5 billion from 1MDB, is proclaiming his innocence on his website launched Monday.
“With hindsight I may have done things differently, like any young person, but any mistakes I made do not amount to the sweepingly broad and destructive…

‘Fat Leonard’, the Malaysian businessman behind US Navy’s worst corruption scandal, lives above doctor’s garage as he seeks cancer treatment

Five years ago, investigators with the US Navy knocked on the door of a San Diego hotel suite, waiting for the Malaysian businessman inside to answer – and in the process launch what has become the worst corruption scandal for the navy in decades.
Since the arrest of businessman Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis that day, US federal prosecutors in San Diego have methodically filed charges or secured indictments against 32 defendants, including 27 US Navy officials, for their…

Three Indonesian men freed after being kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants and held in Philippine hideouts

Muslim militants have freed three Indonesian men they kidnapped at sea early last year off Malaysia then brought them to their jungle hideouts in the southern Philippines, officials said on Sunday.
The Indonesians were freed on Friday with the help of the Moro National Liberation Front, a rebel group that signed a peace deal with the Philippine government, in Indanan town in Sulu province, police said.
The released hostages, Hamdam Salim, Subandi Sattuh and Sudarlan Samansung, were to be handed…

How Islamists stigmatise Indonesia’s transgender waria

Indonesia’s LGBTI community could be forgiven for thinking their search for equality is going backwards. During the pre-Islamic, Hindu-Buddhist period of Indonesian history, waria (third gender people) were not only accepted – they were respected and revered. Now, they are more likely to be hounded out of town, as Yulianus Rettoblaut – better known as Mama Yuli – can attest. She runs a shelter in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta that has helped more than 4,500…