Weekly News Summary – April 29

A look at the headlines making news this week from around south-east Asia and a little bit beyond.

ASIAWATCH — A delicate truce between Thailand and Cambodia was left in tatters this week, after fresh border clashes broke out over two disputed jungle temples.

Both sides accused the other of starting the violence, which killed one Thai soldier. It is the bloodiest fighting in decades and has restarted a dispute that had already displaced tens of thousands of people and killed at least 15 troops.

Human rights remained at the forefront of the international community’s engagement with China, with a top US diplomat accusing China of “back-sliding” on the issue. The Chinese government hit back, telling the US not to interfere in its internal affairs.

Rights groups say the recent crackdown on dissidents and lawyers in China is the most extensive in years, with some suggesting it is due to government fears of unrest similar to that taking place in the Arab world. Others believe politicians looking to be promoted in next year’s leadership reshuffle are trying to demonstrate their strength and commitment to one-Party rule.

The International Monetary Fund warned some Asia-Pacific economies risk overheating due to robust growth, which is expected to remain at close to 7 per cent over the next two years.

Japan’s imperial couple travelled to tsunami-hit areas on the north-east coast to visit residents still sheltering in temporary accommodation.

Nearly 25,000 troops were deployed to search for the bodies of those 12,000 missing since the twin natural disasters struck more than six weeks ago.

Former US President Jimmy Carter visited North Korea as part of a push to resolve a stand-off over the reclusive dictatorship’s nuclear programme.

Carter led a group of former world leaders known as ‘the Elders’ on the three-day tour. He ended the trip by accusing the US and South Korea of human rights violations against North Koreans by withholding food aid, and said that North Korea was willing to hold unconditional talks with South Korea.

A Harvard University academic was elected prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile and will now take on the political role previously played by the Dalai Lama, who will remain as Tibet’s spiritual leader.

In Indonesia, a 14 year old boy was charged and detained after allegedly stealing a phone credit voucher valued at USD1.17.

Prosecutors demanded the schoolboy face seven years in jail. The boy claims it is all a misunderstanding – he says he picked up the discarded voucher on the road.

There were three bombings in Pakistan this week, the latest of which involved the death of five people in an explosion on a navy bus in Karachi.

Militant groups linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda have in the past carried out similar attacks, which are seen as retaliation for an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and their allies in the north-west of the country.

An Indian soldier shot and killed four other soldiers in Kashmir, an attack investigators believe may have been caused by stress. Since 2001, Stress has been blamed for more than 70 deaths in shooting incidents in India’s armed forces

And finally, with royal wedding fever striking throughout Asia as well as the rest of the world, a Sri Lankan jewellers’ organisation claimed to have solved an enduring secret surrounding Kate Middleton’s engagement ring.

The association says the famous sapphire at the heart of the ring, which originally belonged to Princess Diana, actually came from a mine in the centre of the country 35 years ago.

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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