Thailand approves long-delayed US$5.2 billion rail link to China

Thailand’s military government on Tuesday approved US$5.2 billion to build the first stretch of a high-speed railway that will ultimately link Bangkok to southern China, a massive joint infrastructure project with Beijing that has been dogged by delays. The project is part of China’s huge regional infrastructure plan to build a high-speed rail network connecting the southern city of Kunming with Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Construction has already begun in Laos but…

The short arm of the law: Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal says very few ‘will ever be prosecuted for atrocities’

The UN-backed Cambodian tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocities committed while they ruled the country has acknowledged that only a handful of former high-ranking officials will ever face justice for their crimes.
In a statement released on Monday, the tribunal sought to explain the dismissal in February of a case against Im Chaem, a middle-ranking Khmer Rouge district chief whom prosecutors had charged with crimes against humanity, including murder, extermination and enslavement….

North Korea admits being hit by months-long surge in petrol prices as sanctions bite

North Korean officials on Monday for the first time admitted a months-long surge in petrol prices in the capital city in the wake of international sanctions.
The prices shot up to one and a half times higher than before starting around April and they remained high, the director of the country’s major think tank said in an interview with Kyodo in Pyongyang.
But Kim Chol, who heads the Economic Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences, said: “The situation is not that the prices…

Kids and hostages forced to fight alongside Filipino militants in southern town, army says

Children and hostages are being forced to fight alongside pro-Islamic State gunmen waging a seven-week battle for a Philippine city, the country’s military said on Monday.
Militants seized Marawi, considered the Muslim capital of the largely Catholic Philippines, on May 23 in a bid to create an IS province, and over 100 remain holed up in the city despite intense military efforts to oust them.
Some of the extremists are teenagers who may have been recruited and trained to use guns when…

A break-up of Air India could be an option as Modi pushes for quick sale

India is considering selling state-owned Air India in parts to make it attractive to potential buyers, as it reviews options to divest the loss-making flagship carrier, several government officials familiar with the situation said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet gave the go-ahead last month for the government to try to sell the airline, after successive governments spent billions of dollars in recent years to keep the airline going.
Air India – founded in the 1930s and known…

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe has ‘routine medical check-up’ … in Singapore

Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore for a “routine medical check-up”, state media reported on Sunday.
“President Mugabe on Friday left the country for Singapore for a routine medical check-up,” the Sunday Mail newspaper reported.
The paper said the veteran ruler is expected back in Zimbabwe midweek.
Mugabe’s medical trips to the Southeast Asia city state have become more frequent in recent years. His previous visit was in May, also…

Death toll rises to 15 in flood-hit southern Japan as search for survivors continues

The death toll from heavy rains and flooding in southern Japan has risen to 15, a government official said on Saturday, as rescuers continued work to evacuate isolated survivors.
Raging rivers overflowing with water and mud have devastated swathes of Kyushu – the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands – after heavy rainfall, sweeping away roads and houses and destroying schools.
Thousands of rescuers have been fighting through thick mud and battling rain to search for…

Thai police claim successful crackdown on ivory trafficking

Efforts by Thailand’s government to curb sales of ivory have been successful following criticism of widespread trafficking in the country, police and conservationists said.
Police announced on Friday that since January, officials have seized two elephant tusks and 422 tusk fragments in a single case, while in all of last year they seized 99 tusks and 22 fragments. Deputy Police Commissioner General Chalermkiat Sriworakhan said the drop in the number of cases showed that strict enforcement…