France to deepen ties with Asia after losing ‘privileged’ partnership with Australia in Aukus snub, diplomat says

France’s exclusion from the Aukus security alliance has given the European powerhouse an impetus to step up its engagement with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region while it mends frayed ties with Australia, one of its senior diplomats has said.France’s ambassador for the Indo-Pacific Christophe Penot said France had been engaging with countries including Japan and India before the pact between Australia, Britain and the United States was announced in September, and it hoped to strengthen…

Appeal court verdict looms for Malaysia’s Najib after failed bid to stall 1MDB-linked case

Malaysia’s second-highest court will decide on Wednesday morning whether to uphold a 1MDB-linked conviction against Najib Razak, after judges on Tuesday dismissed the former prime minister’s application to introduce fresh evidence.Najib, 68, was sentenced in July last year to 12 years in jail and issued a 210 million ringgit (US$49.6 million) fine after the High Court found him guilty of all seven counts in the first of several trials linking him to the multibillion dollar plunder of the 1MDB…

India ‘a great power’, says Russia’s Putin at New Delhi summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded India as “a great power” on Monday as he arrived in New Delhi to bolster military and energy ties with a traditional ally being courted by Washington.It is only the Russian leader’s second trip abroad since the coronavirus pandemic began – he skipped both the G20 and COP26 summits this year – after a June summit with US President Joe Biden in Geneva.“We perceive India as a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend,” Putin said in the Indian…

Sarawak state polls expected to boost Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob

The incumbent Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition is likely to retain control of Sarawak in state elections to be held on December 18, analysts believe, in what would be a boost for Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.The coalition is an ally of the federal government headed by Ismail Sabri, and is expected to comfortably beat the opposition, led by Anwar Ibrahim, which is in disarray.The Election Commission said that by the time nominations closed on Monday, 349 candidates had been…

Japan’s Princess Aiko marks coming-of-age with official ceremonies

Princess Aiko, the only child of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, went through official ceremonies on Sunday to mark her coming-of-age as she was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown at the Imperial Palace.The princess, who became an adult member of the imperial family when she turned 20 last Wednesday, earlier in the day visited sanctuaries that enshrine the family’s ancestors and Japanese gods to offer prayers.Dressed in formal wear, the princess stood…

Will China and its E7 emerging economies render the G7 a redundant clique?

What is the E7?The Emerging 7 (E7) consists of the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China plus Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey.Unlike the Group of 7 (G7), the E7 is not an actual forum or alliance, but merely a concept created by economists John Hawksworth and Gordon Cookson in 2006 to highlight the economic potential of emerging countries versus advanced economies.In comparison, the G7 was created in 1973 and includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the…

Pakistan arrests dozens for killing Sri Lankan factory manager accused of blasphemy

Up to 120 people have been arrested in Pakistan after a Sri Lankan factory manager was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob who accused him of blasphemy, officials said on Saturday.The vigilante attack has caused outrage, with Prime Minister Imran Khan calling it a “day of shame for Pakistan”.Few issues are as galvanising in Pakistan as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests and incite lynchings.The incident took place on Friday in Sialkot…

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, sending panicked villagers fleeing

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano on Java island erupted on Saturday, killing one person and injuring 41 as it spewed out huge clouds of smoke and ash, officials said.Videos shared by emergency officials showed residents running as towering plumes of smoke and ash blanketed nearby villages in East Java province. Some were heard shouting “Allahu akbar!” or God is greatest.The deputy chief of Lumajang district, Indah Masdar, told a news conference one person had died and 41 people had suffered burn…