680 Chinese held in Malaysia over online scam targeting WeChat Pay users

Nearly 700 Chinese nationals have been detained in Malaysia after the Immigration Department raided the call centre of a suspected online scam syndicate based in the science park town of Cyberjaya. National news agency Bernama described the raid, carried out on Wednesday, as the largest this year. In addition to the 680 Chinese detained, a further 100 people escaped as immigration officers approached the six-storey building thought to house the call centre. The office had security guards,…

Vietnam tells importers to reject goods showing China’s nine-dash line claims

Vietnam wants its importers to ensure that nothing they bring into the country contains a disputed South China Sea map that has been spotted in items from vehicle navigation to solar inverter software.The Ministry of Industry and Trade, in a statement on its website, said companies must review contracts and improve their monitoring of imported goods. For high risk items like maps, publications and gadgets, importers must ask sellers for a “written commitment” that none of the products violate…

China can turn off the Philippine national power grid, officials say

Philippine senators have called for an investigation into the security implications of China’s part ownership of the national energy grid after officials said engineers in Beijing could black out the entire country with the flick of a switch.National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) president Melvin Matibag confirmed there was a “possibility” of such a scenario during deliberations in the Senate on Tuesday over the government budget for 2020.The State Grid Corporation of China holds a 40 per…

US gifts ship to Vietnam to boost patrols in disputed South China Sea

The United States is giving Vietnam’s coastguard a second cutter vessel, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday, vowing to maintain a routine military presence in the disputed South China Sea.The new security ship “represents another concrete symbol of our strengthening relationship”, Esper said at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam after a tour through South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.Washington intends to counter Beijing’s expanding influence in the region and the fiercely…

US to boost military alliance with Philippines as South China Sea tensions grow

United States Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday vowed more support for the Philippines in efforts to modernise the country’s military and improve maritime security as tensions build over the disputed South China Sea.Esper, who was in Manila for a one-day visit, said he and Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana discussed various ways to strengthen cooperation and further boost the two countries’ decades-old alliance.“The United States will continue to support and to help modernise…

Caned for gay sex: Malaysian men’s punishment condemned by rights group

Four men in Malaysia have been caned for having gay sex in violation of Islamic laws, in a move described by activists on Tuesday as “vicious punishments” that highlighted a crackdown on the nation’s LGBT community.Rights groups say there is a worsening climate for gay people in the Muslim-majority country, where authorities have maintained a colonial-era ban on sodomy and mete out harsh physical punishments for same-sex relations.The men, aged 26 to 37, received six strokes of the cane each on…

Why are Singapore and Hong Kong lagging in workforce talent retention?

Singapore and Hong Kong are lagging behind European countries in developing and attracting workforce talent as a result of their higher living costs and lower government spending on education, according to Swiss business school IMD.The annual IMD World Talent Ranking, released on Monday, ranked Switzerland in top position followed by Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg.Singapore was the only Asian entry in the top 10, coming in at tenth position, while Hong Kong was ranked 15, ahead of…

Singapore detonates unexploded WWII bomb found in city centre

A 50-kilogram unexploded bomb from world war two was detonated by army personnel in Singapore on Monday in a large-scale planned operation that involved the evacuation of nearby condominiums and a hotel, and halted traffic.Though such bombs have been found in the city state from time to time, usually at construction sites, this time caused more disruption as the construction site is within a residential area.If Singapore is so wealthy, why do its citizen feel stuck?Nearby roads were closed off…

Killer Indian elephant nicknamed Osama bin Laden dies after week in captivity

A rogue elephant named after the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has died in captivity after he was captured following a massive hunt in northeastern India, officials said on Sunday.The male animal – nicknamed “Laden” – was tracked for days by forestry officers and tranquillised on Monday after a deadly October rampage killed five villagers in Goalpara, in the northeastern state of Assam.It was renamed after the Hindu god Krishna and moved to Assam’s Orang National Park where officials…

Duterte’s stark warning to his VP about drug war ‘state secrets’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to remove the vice-president from her “drugs tsar” post if she shared state secrets with foreign individuals and entities.The warning, which the president made in a television interview, came a few days after he offered Leni Robredo a lead role in his brutal war on drugs, which she later accepted to reassess a campaign she said was fraught with senseless killings.Robredo, a political rival of the popular Duterte, said on October 23 that…