South China Sea: why did Duterte bar Philippine military from US exercises?

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine navy not to join US-led military exercises in the South China Sea.“The president has a standing order … that we should not involve ourselves in naval exercises in the South China Sea, except in our national waters, [within] 12 miles of our shores,” defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday.South China Sea: beware of US ‘sabotage’, Beijing warns Southeast AsiaLorenzana said the ban was aimed at keeping a lid on tensions in the area,…

Indonesia, Singapore stay neutral on US-China dispute despite Pompeo’s South China Sea outreach

Following Malaysia’s unusually strong rebuke last week of China’s “nine-dash line” claim in the South China Sea, the United States has reached out to the Southeast Asian nation’s immediate neighbours to reiterate American support for international law in the disputed waters.
Analysts said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Monday calls to foreign ministers Vivian Balakrishnan of Singapore and Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi were in keeping with Washington’s bid to denounce Beijing’s expansive claims…

Philippine coronavirus: Manila braces for lockdown, Duterte accuses doctors of seeking ‘revolution’

Metro Manila is gearing up for the return of strict lockdown measures that will force most businesses and metropolitan trains to shut down, putting pressure the country’s faltering economy, as it seeks to prevent its health care system from collapsing under the pressure of the Covid-19 crisis. Under a return to more stringent “modified enhanced community quarantine”, checkpoints will be re-established, requiring travel passes for commuters seeking to leave their houses. Domestic flights will…

British woman jailed in Malaysia for killing husband, avoids death sentence

A British woman accused of stabbing her husband to death at their Malaysian resort home avoided the gallows and was sentenced to 42 months in jail on Monday after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo said prosecutors reduced the murder charge against Samantha Jones, 51, to culpable homicide, which is murder without intent, after the defence appealed to the attorney general’s office.A conviction for murder carries a mandatory death sentence by hanging.“I was scared, and…

Red Bull heir crash: Thailand orders second autopsy of key witness

Thailand’s prime minister has ordered a second autopsy be conducted after the death of a key witness in a deadly hit-and-run case linked to the heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune, amid public anger that the charges were dropped.Jaruchart Mardthong, 40, died in what police said looked like a motorcycle accident on Thursday, amid public suspicion about the exact cause of his death.Results of an initial autopsy have not yet been released. Local media said his family had planned to cremate…

Philippines coronavirus cases top 100,000, amid fears of a ‘losing battle’

Coronavirus infections in the Philippines surged past 100,000 on Sunday in a troubling milestone after medical groups declared that the country was waging “a losing battle” against the virus and asked the president to reimpose a lockdown in the capital.The Department of Health reported a record daily tally of 5,032, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 103,185, including more than 2,000 deaths. The Philippines has the second-most cases in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, and has…

New Zealand man arrested in Cambodia after stabbing girlfriend in head with scissors

A 56-year-old New Zealand man has been arrested in Cambodia after he allegedly stabbed his girlfriend in the head with scissors.The man was arrested by police in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on July 30.The Cambodian woman who was the victim of the attack suffered a gash in the side of her head that required 15 stitches.The Cambodian News English portal reported the attack occurred after an argument in which the man accused his girlfriend of stealing money from him on July 29.During the…

Coronavirus: Philippines’ doctors cry out for fresh lockdown as virus cases surge

Doctors in the Philippines are urging the government to reimpose a lockdown in the capital of Manila for two weeks to recalibrate its response to the pandemic, amid a warning that the country is losing the battle against Covid-19.In an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, nearly 70 groups of doctors, nurses and other health care workers called for a two-week “time out” amid the government’s efforts to reopen the economy, which has included easing restrictions throughout the country.Duterte…

Ex-Coutts banker found guilty in US$700 million transfer from 1MDB to Jho Low

A former Coutts & Co. banker was found guilty of failing to flag money laundering concerns related to a US$700 million transfer into an account controlled by Jho Low , the alleged mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.The man, who was only identified as A., was fined 50,000 Swiss francs (US$55,000) by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in a ruling on Friday.“There were numerous signs that there were serious indications of money laundering, which grew over time,” the court said in a statement. …

Coronavirus: Muslims across Asia mark subdued, socially distant Eid al-Adha

Muslims across Asia, taking precautions against the novel coronavirus such as wearing face masks and temperature checks, performed prayers on Friday to mark the festival of Eid al-Adha in mosques with reduced capacity as well as on the streets.In Indonesia, worshippers were advised to maintain social distancing during the prayers as the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country struggles to contain the spread of the virus.Indonesia’s religious ministry also asked mosques to shorten ceremonies…