Tokyo suburb of Yamato bans pedestrians from staring at smartphones while walking

A Tokyo suburb on Wednesday imposed Japan’s first ban on a habit seen around the world: pedestrians glued to their phone screens while walking, sometimes dangerously oblivious to their surroundings.Visitors arriving at the railway station in Yamato City were greeted with banners announcing the new prohibition, which applies to all foot journeys around the neighbourhood’s public roads, squares and parks.“Using smartphones while walking is banned. Please operate your smartphones after you stop…

Najib’s 1MDB trial on hold to let him join Malaysian political events

The 1MDB trial for Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak has been put on hold, allowing him to join the political campaign at an upcoming by-election and deliver a speech when parliament sits.The judge agreed to continue the proceedings on July 17, after Najib’s lawyer submitted a request to vacate the trial on Thursday due to a foreign ministry meeting he had to attend.The lawyer then requested a later resumption to let Najib join the Chini state seat by-election campaign this week and attend a…

Singapore election: the parties taking on the PAP on July 10

The nomination process for Singapore’s July 10 general election closed on Tuesday with 192 candidates filing their papers to contest the 93 parliamentary seats.For the second consecutive election – and only the second time since the country’s independence – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party (PAP) will face opponents in all seats.Many political observers expect the ruling party to comfortably extend its uninterrupted rule of Singapore that stretches back to 1959.Singapore’s…

Thousands flee homes fearing military ‘clearance’ against Rakhine rebels

Thousands of people in an area of western Myanmar where there have been clashes between the government and ethnic rebels have been fleeing from their villages over the past week after an evacuation order from officials.The Rakhine state government in an order last Tuesday instructed village administrators in Rathedaung township to tell residents to stay away from their homes because of military plans to conduct a “clearance operation” against the rebels. “Clearance operation” is Myanmar…

At least 30 people dead after ferry capsizes in Bangladesh

At least 30 people died and a dozen are missing after a ferry capsized and sank on Monday in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka following a collision with another vessel, rescue officials said.The Morning Bird vessel was hit from behind by another ferry around 9.30am local time during the morning rush hour, when the country’s largest river port is packed with vessels.“We have collected 30 bodies, including 20 males, seven women and three children,” said Abul Khair, a diver in the fire brigade.“There…

In Vietnam, ‘lotto’ shows help boost tolerance of marginalised LGBT community

Each night that Nha Vy steps proudly on stage in her traditional Vietnamese ao dai, or sometimes mini dress and heels, memories grow fainter of the taunts she endured as a transgender woman in her rural village.Nha Vy is one of hundreds of LGBT performers in Vietnam who have found confidence, and a way to earn a living, through lotto shows, a form of entertainment similar to bingo that dates back to the French colonial era and is now wildly popular in the south.As India’s LGBT community stays…

Bangladesh braces for monsoon floods, putting hundreds of thousands at risk

With the monsoon setting in and waters from India rushing downstream, Bangladesh is facing a serious threat of floods that could cause extensive damage to farmlands across the delta nation’s vast northern regions, officials said on Sunday.The country’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre said water levels in many rivers were continuing to rise, posing threats to flood protection embankments that could burst, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of people in more than 20 districts.Abdur…

Malaysian home chef S. Pavithra shoots to YouTube fame with humble meals

A 28-year-old Malaysian home chef has hurtled to YouTube fame, winning more than 740,000 subscribers and the praise of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and celebrity chef Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan.S. Pavithra and her husband M. Sugu, 29, manage the Sugu Pavithra YouTube channel, where she showcases wholesome dishes such as steamed fish, mutton curry, and sweet and sour chicken, using basic cooking implements and speaking in fluent Bahasa Malaysia, the country’s national language…

In Japan, extreme bids to help hikikomori are causing them further distress

When the mother of a hikikomori social recluse in her 30s paid a Tokyo company 5.7 million yen (US$53,300), she had hoped they would reintegrate her daughter into society.Instead, workers from Elixir Arts broke down the woman’s front door, forcibly removed her from her flat, took her money and phone, and confined her to a company-run dormitory.On June 15, another hikikomori lodged a complaint with Tokyo police over a similar case in which his parents paid 7 million yen (US$65,400) to a…

Human trials for Thai Covid-19 vaccine could start as early as October

Thailand aims to produce its own vaccine for the coronavirus disease, rather than waiting to buy inoculations from abroad, and human trials could start as early as October, according to the scientist leading one project.“We learned a very painful lesson during the H1N1 pandemic when the government signed agreements to buy vaccines, but we did not get any until the outbreak was gone,” said Kiat Ruxrungtham, head researcher at Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research…