Weekly News Summary – May 27

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

ASIAWATCH –The US military announced it would withdraw a number of troops from Pakistan in response to a request from the Pakistani government to reduce its presence in-country.

The request followed the US special forces assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, which despite being on Pakistan soil was not sanctioned by its government.

Following the announcement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew into Islamabad to meet with senior leaders. She rejected suggestions that senior people had known where the 9/11 mastermind had lived.

Clinton did reiterate Washington’s “strong commitment” to relations with Pakistan, but warned that more needed to be done to battle Islamist militancy.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also this week defended the conduct of his military in respect to its conduct during fighting at the end of the country’s protracted civil war.

A UN panel of experts recently accused both sides of war crimes during the last days of conflict in 2009. Whilst the President did not directly refer to the controversial report, he said that his military had followed international human rights law as they fought the insurgent Tamil Tigers.

A South Korean court handed out a life sentence to a Somali pirate convicted of attempting to murder the captain of a cargo ship hijacked in the Arabian Sea.

The pirate was one of five arrested by South Korean special forces during a high-stakes raid on the vessel in January.

The trial marked the first attempt by the major seafaring nation to punish foreign pirates.

State media across the border in North Korea confirmed that its leader Kim Jong-il had recently visited China for the third time this year.

The dictator received much needed political support during the visit, marked by warm coverage and flattering official comments from China.

North Korean officials also announced this week that it would be releasing an American citizen it had held for six months on unspecified charges, speculated to relate to missionary work.

Another American was in trouble in Thailand for allegedly insulting the monarchy.

The 54 year old man was arrested after he reportedly posted on his blog a link to banned book about the royal family.

Freedom of the press was also under attack in Singapore, where an appeals court upheld a six-week jail sentence imposed against a 76 year old British author who criticised the judiciary.

Alan Shadrake had published a book alleging a lack of impartiality in the implementation of Singapore’s laws.

American lawmakers meanwhile quite blatantly avoided being impartial this week by barring Chinese defence firms from receiving Pentagon contracts.

In financial news, March’s twin disasters in Japan have enabled the embattled nation to beat deflation for the first time in two years.

Fuel imports surged following the earthquake and tsunami, leading to a modest annual increase in consumer prices.

And Hong Kong’s tabloid media was captivated with news that the former boyfriend of a late billionairess had been charged with forging her will.

Feng shui master Tony Chan had claimed the will entitled him to the USD12 billion fortune of the colourful Nina Wang.

About Webmaster 857 Articles
Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.