Monday, August 20News That Matters

Top Asian News 9:38 am GMT


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Pardoned Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim said Thursday that decades-old affirmative action policies for the country’s Malay majority must be discarded in favor of a new program to help the poor regardless of race. In an interview with The Associated Press, the prime minister-in-waiting also said he plans to run in a by-election this year to become a member of Parliament but that he isn’t in a rush to take over the top job. Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case he said was politically motivated. His sentence expires June 8 but he was given a royal pardon on Wednesday and freed from custody after last week’s stunning electoral victory by his alliance led by former foe Mahathir Mohamad.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A seven-hour police search of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s property as part of a money-laundering investigation being pushed by his successor did not find any incriminating documents, his lawyer said Thursday. Najib’s lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal told The Associated Press that police seized several boxes of personal possessions including handbags and clothing. He said the search of Najib’s house and an upscale condominium in Kuala Lumpur that is occupied by his family was carried out under the anti-money laundering act. New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who pulled a stunning election victory last week that unseated Najib’s National Front coalition after 60 years in power, reopened a probe into a state investment fund that is being investigated abroad.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Thursday it’s pushing to reset high-level talks with North Korea and will communicate closely with Washington and Pyongyang to increase the chances of a successful summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on resolving the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons. The announcement by Seoul’s presidential National Security Council came a day after North Korea threatened to scrap next month’s historic meeting between Trump and Kim, saying it has no interest in a “one-sided” affair meant to pressure the North to abandon its nukes. The North also broke off a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest the U.S.-South Korean military exercises the North has long claimed are an invasion rehearsal.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China’s new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party. When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself. “The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group,” said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp.

BANGKOK (AP) — A Chinese-backed plan for Cambodia to build the Mekong River’s biggest dam would destroy fisheries that feed millions and worsen tensions with Vietnam, the downstream country with most to lose from dams on the waterway, according to a three-year study commissioned by the Cambodian government. The report, posted this month on the website of the U.S.-based organization that conducted the study, said the Sambor dam would “generate large power benefits to Cambodia, but at the probable cost of the destruction of the Mekong fishery, and the certain enmity of Vietnam.” It said the dam designed by China Southern Power Grid Co.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Who sits where? What’s on the agenda? Will they eat together? What’s the security plan? President Donald Trump and his team have a daunting to-do list to work through as they prepare for next month’s expected summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump’s plan to meet with Kim may have come as a surprise decision, but his team hopes to leave nothing to chance when they come together in Singapore. They’re gaming out policy plans, negotiating tactics, even menu items. With two unpredictable leaders, it’s hard to anticipate every possibility. But White House aides are expecting hard-ball negotiating tactics — already in evidence this week as the North Koreans cast fresh doubt on the sit-down.

TOKYO (AP) — Three Japanese who were forcibly sterilized under a government policy decades ago have filed lawsuits demanding an apology and compensation, in a growing movement seeking official redress. The two men and a woman, all in their 70s, are among at least 16,500 people who were sterilized without consent under a 1948 Eugenics Protection Law that was in place until 1996. The law, designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants,” allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. The three plaintiffs are seeking about 80 million yen ($730,000) in total. They filed their cases Thursday at district courts in Tokyo and the northern cities of Sendai and Sapporo.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — An opinion writer and three newspaper executives in Fiji are awaiting a judge’s verdict Friday on sedition charges in a case that has major implications for press freedom in the South Pacific nation. Each of the accused faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and the Fiji Times company, which has also been charged, could face a large fine. Many people consider the Fiji Times to be the last independent media voice in a country where many news outlets kowtow to the government. It’s not the first time the newspaper company has been the target of questionable charges.

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s military says security forces have raided a militant hideout, triggering a shootout in which an intelligence officer and a notorious militant wanted for over 100 deaths of minority Shiites were killed along with two other suspects. The military says Wednesday’s raid was carried out on a tip in Killi Almas village near Quetta, the capital of troubled Baluchistan province. It says three militants were killed, including Salman Badeni, a provincial commander of the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group. It says a military intelligence officer also died during the intense firefight. The raid came weeks after Shiites sought protection from the army, saying they had lost thousands of people in militant attacks in recent years.

TOKYO (AP) — North Korea has a message for U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of next month’s summit: Don’t listen to your new hard-line national security adviser, John Bolton. After announcing early Wednesday that it was pulling out of high-level talks with Seoul because of a new round of U.S.-South Korean military exercises, the North took aim at Bolton and said it might have to reconsider whether to proceed with the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because it doubts how seriously Washington actually wants peaceful dialogue. The moves give the clearest indication yet of North Korea’s mindset heading into the summit, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

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