Weekly News Summary – April 22

Stephen Tucker looks at the headlines making news this week from around south-east Asia and a little bit beyond.

On the eve of Good Friday, an Indonesian bomb squad thwarted a terrorist attack by defusing two boxes of explosives hidden near a Jakarta church.

Investigators arrested six suspects, who had allegedly posed as toy sellers when planting the 150kg bombs, which had been timed to explode during the religious sermon.

More details emerged about China’s plan to double salaries and raise income tax thresholds by 50 percent within the next five years.

The tax changes will cost the government USD18 billion per year and will result in an estimated 50 million more people becoming exempt from paying income tax.

Lawmakers appear determined to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in an attempt to avoid potential public unrest.

Such unrest was on display in Shanghai this week, when lorry drivers staged a protests over rising fuel prices. About 2,000 people clashed with police as they blocked cargo ports and key road junctures.

China Mobile’s quarterly profit outlook showed how the country’s extraordinary economic growth continues to change its society. A massive increase in the number of rural customers helped the world’s largest mobile operator surpass 600 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, another strong earthquake – measuring 6.1 magnitude – hit Japan this week. It struck as the Japanese government made it illegal to enter the 20km evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor.

In eastern Bangladesh, a ferry carrying more than 100 passengers capsized in a river leaving at least 30 people dead and dozens missing.

Police say the ferry hit the wreck of another vessel that had capsized just days earlier.

Pakistan’s spy agency was accused of having links with militants targeting troops in Afghanistan.

The US military’s top officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, said the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had a “long-standing relationship” with an Afghan insurgent militant group. Pakistan routinely rejects charges of collusion with militants.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted five of six men charged over a village-council sanctioned gang rape. A death penalty handed to a sixth man was commuted to life imprisonment.

The victim, Mukhataran Mai, made headlines worldwide after she bravely spoke out about her ordeal in 2002. She said she now feared for her life.

India’s Supreme Court was moving in the opposite direction of its Pakistani equivalent, by demanding states “ruthlessly stamp out” so-called honour killings. It warned senior officials who failed to act against offenders would be prosecuted.

There are recent reports of village-based caste councils demanding people be ostracized or even killed for defying age-old notions of tradition and family honour. Most victims are young couples marrying outside their caste.

Malaysia’s women’s minister called for a camp set up to correct effeminate behaviour of Muslim schoolboys be abolished because it violates the law.

Teachers had sent 66 “effeminate” schoolboys to four days of religious and physical education at camp designed to guide the boys back “to a proper path in life”.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, a 3D erotic comedy took the box office by storm, beating the first-day record set by Hollywood blockbuster Avatar.

Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstacy tells the story of a sexually frustrated scholar in ancient China and stars two Japanese porn stars. Takings have been boosted by an influx of viewers travelling from mainland China where it is not being screened.

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.