Southeast Asia Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Mon, 26 Jan 2015 00:17:57 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb Chinese mother charged for $7,000 sale of baby: Xinhua$7000-sale-of-baby-xinhua.html$7000-sale-of-baby-xinhua.html imageBEIJING: A Chinese mother has been charged with human trafficking for allegedly conspiring with a doctor to sell her baby boy for almost $7,000, media reported Sunday.

The mother-in-law of the woman initially notified police in central Henan province that she suspected the child had been sold, a report by state news agency Xinhua said.

The woman, who was surnamed Huang, had previously told the family that the baby died soon after birth, said the report, which cites local prosecutors.

The woman had a son from a previous marriage and often "quarrelled" with her current husband, Xinhua said. She "was worried that the new baby would affect the life of her first child", it said.

A couple paid 42,000 yuan ($6,740) for the child, 7,000 yuan of which went to the obstetrician who helped find the buyers, according to Xinhua. The woman has been charged with human trafficking, other Chinese media outlets reported, while the doctor has also been prosecuted.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) South East Asia Sun, 25 Jan 2015 19:46:10 +0000
China facing 'unprecedented' security risks, says Party imageBEIJING: China is facing "unprecedented national security risks", the ruling Communist Party's top leaders said Friday after a monthly meeting led by General Secretary Xi Jinping.

The elite 25-member Politburo said in a statement that "some of the security challenges and risks are unpredictable so the country must always be mindful of potential dangers", according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Beijing will protect its national security in "a pattern with Chinese characteristics," it added, without elaborating.

China's relations with its Asian neighbours -- particularly Japan -- have been strained in recent years by a series of territorial rows in the East and South China Seas.

It also sees the US foreign policy "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region as an attempt to contain it, a claim Washington denies.

Beijing maintains that its actions are solely in defence of its own sovereign territory.

At the same time, China has cited cybersecurity as a growing concern, with Beijing frequently describing itself as a victim of hacking -- while last May Washington charged five members of a shadowy Chinese military unit with hacking US companies to winkle out their trade secrets.

Violence within China's borders has also intensified over the past year, with at least 200 people killed in a series of clashes and increasingly sophisticated attacks in the restive Xinjiang region and beyond it.

The state-run China Daily newspaper reported Friday that prosecutors in the far-western region -- home to the mostly-Muslim Uighur minority -- had approved the arrest of 27,164 criminal suspects in 2014, up more than 95 percent on the previous year.

Beijing, which blames Xinjiang-related violence on "religious extremists," "separatists" and "terrorists," has responded by launching a severe crackdown in recent months, with around 50 executions and death sentences publicly announced since June.

The ruling party has also warned that terrorists from outside of the country's borders -- including an organisation it calls the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) -- are seeking to enter and launch attacks.

But Beijing has produced little evidence linking the attacks to organised extremist groups, and some analysts doubt that ETIM exists as a significant force in the region.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) South East Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:01:43 +0000
Widodo calls for calm after arrest of top graft fighter imageJAKARTA: Indonesian president Joko Widodo urged the national police and the country's most powerful anti-graft agency to avoid "friction" after the arrest of a prominent corruption fighter sparked an outcry on Friday.

The shock arrest of Bambang Widjojanto, deputy chief at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), comes about a week after the agency accused a high-ranking police general of corruption, postponing his appointment as the country's new police chief.

Hundreds of activists gathered for a noisy protest outside the KPK headquarters in Jakarta, claiming Widjojanto's arrest for allegedly interfering in a legal case was police acting out of revenge.

Indonesia's millions of social media users called on Widodo, who made combating corruption a cornerstone of his leadership, to speak out with #WhereAreYouJokowi just trailing #SaveKPK as the top mentions on Twitter.

The president, speaking after meeting with the KPK chairman and deputy police chief, urged both parties to act objectively.

"As head of state I also asked the national police and KPK not to let friction occur when performing their duties," Widodo told reporters.

Earlier national police spokesman Ronny Sompie said Widjojanto could face seven years in prison if found guilty of the allegations.

He was accused of ordering witnesses to give false evidence during a 2010 constitutional court challenge to a local election result, Sompie added.

"We have enough strong evidence of his suspected involvement in the case," he said.

Sompie insisted the investigation was focused on Widjojanto and unrelated to the KPK, an institution that has butted heads with police in the past.

The KPK this month launched a corruption investigation into three-star general Budi Gunawan, who just days earlier had been named the sole pick for national police chief by Widodo.

The president refused to revoke Gunawan's nomination, but later postponed his appointment until the KPK investigation was complete.

At the protest outside KPK headquarters, demonstrators were adamant Widjojanto's arrest was retaliation for the Gunawan case.

"The arrest was symbolic of what is happening. The police are trying to kill the KPK," 26-year-old lawyer Veronica Koman told AFP.

Widjojanto was widely seen as a clean figure in a nation that has seen more than its share of high-profile graft cases.

Anti-corruption group Transparency International ranked Indonesia 107th out of 175 countries in its annual corruption perceptions index last year. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) South East Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:30:14 +0000
Iran offers condolences to Saudi after king's death imageTEHRAN: Iran offered condolences Friday to the people and government of Saudi Arabia upon the death of King Abdullah and said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would travel to Riyadh.

In a statement on its foreign ministry website, Iran said Zarif would represent the Islamic republic at an official ceremony in the Saudi capital on Saturday.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) South East Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 09:51:48 +0000
10 missing in boat crash off South Korea imageSEOUL: Ten crew members are missing after a Chinese fishing boat collided with an unidentified cargo ship off South Korea's southern island of Jeju, coast guards said Friday.

The cargo ship fled the scene as the 138-tonne Chinese boat sank in the open sea, some 160 kilometres (100 miles) off the resort island.

"Ten people are missing and three others were rescued," a Jeju coast guard spokesman told AFP.

Three South Korean rescue boats and two Chinese rescue boats were searching the area, backed by six Chinese fishing boats, he said.

The collision took place late Thursday as the Chinese fishing boat was anchoring because of rough seas.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) South East Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 06:46:58 +0000
6.8-magnitude quake off Vanuatu, no tsunami threat imageSYDNEY : A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific nation of Vanuatu Friday, the United States Geological Survey said, but no tsunami threat was detected.

The quake hit at a depth of 218 kilometres (135 miles) about 84 kilometres from Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, at 5.31pm local time (0331 GMT), the USGS said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a tsunami. The USGS originally put the magnitude at 6.9.

Government agency Geoscience Australia duty seismologist Marco Maldoni said the threshold for an undersea earthquake that could potentially generate a tsunami was a magnitude of 6.5 and a depth of 100 kilometres.

"This one, being 200 kilometres deep, does not meet that requirement. The deeper the earthquake is, the less likely it is to generate a tsunami," Maldoni told AFP.

"They (Vanuatu) would have felt some tremor, but no damage. It's quite normal for that part of the world to have these sorts of earthquakes."

Vanuatu is part of the "Ring of Fire", a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The last powerful tremor that struck off the South Pacific island was in July. It had a magnitude of 6.3 and was 114 kilometres deep.

In 2013 the neighbouring Solomon Islands were hit by a tsunami after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the region. That tsunami left at least 10 people dead, destroyed hundreds of homes and left thousands of people homeless.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) South East Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 06:46:12 +0000
Park names new premier amid falling support imageSEOUL: South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Friday appointed a new prime minister in an apparent bid to bolster her sagging approval ratings, hit by a scandal involving her aides.

Park named Lee Wan-Koo, parliamentary floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, to replace Chung Hong-Won as prime minister, the presidential Blue House said in a press statement.

But she retained her embattled chief of presidential staff Kim Ki-Choon, who faces a storm of criticism over the reported power struggle among presidential aides that has gripped the headlines for months, with allegations they wielded undue influence.

Park's approval rating has fallen sharply this month, plunging from 43 percent on January 9 to an all-time low of 34 percent on Thursday, posing a growing threat to the government's drive to resuscitate the country's sluggish economy.

The decline in her popularity accelerated after she rejected calls from critics to let go of three long-time aides accused of monopolizing access to the president and interfering with government personnel changes.

Park has denied the allegations, however Friday's statement said that the official roles of the three aides will now be curtailed.

Park's support base has also been undermined by a recent public backlash against changes in tax codes that apparently resulted in more levies on the middle class.

She faces mounting attacks that her government has idled away two years of its five-year term as the country is dogged by a slowing economy, growing gaps between the rich and the poor, high youth unemployment and lingering tensions with the nuclear-armed North Korea.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) South East Asia Fri, 23 Jan 2015 04:03:42 +0000
NZ govt deficit less than expected in November imageWELLINGTON: The New Zealand government's deficit was smaller than expected in the first five months of its fiscal year, according to official figures published on Friday.

The operating balance excluding gains and losses (OBEGAL), which strips out unrealised investment gains or losses, for the five months to Nov 30 was a deficit of NZ$1.54 billion ($1.15 billion), 7.3 percent less than the Treasury's forecasts in the half-year economic and fiscal update in December.

The department said core tax revenue income was lower than forecast but offset by income from commercial activities and state enterprises, while expenses were also lower.

Finance Minister Bill English said in December he was confident the government would post a surplus despite the tax take being hurt by a slump in dairy prices and low inflation.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) South East Asia Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:28:39 +0000
Hong Kong financiers challenge China in newspaper advert imageHONG KONG: A group of pro-democracy financiers in Hong Kong took out an advert in the Wall Street Journal Thursday challenging China to respect the city's autonomy and introduce free elections.

The advert which appeared in the newspaper's Asia edition takes up a quarter page and lists "10 requests" to the Chinese Communist Party.

They include asking it to "refrain from interfering in the administrative affairs of Hong Kong" and to "establish a system of genuine universal suffrage" as well as defend the city's freedoms.

The advert comes as tensions remain high after more than two months of rallies for fully free leadership elections ended in December, when protest camps were cleared.

Pro-democracy campaigners want the government to scrap political reform plans which they say would only deliver "fake democracy".

Beijing has pledged that the city can elect its own leader for the first time in 2017, but says that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee. Hong Kong authorities insist that reforms to grant universal suffrage in the leadership elections must stick to China's strict parameters.

"Three years ago, I was just like any other trader in Hong Kong. I didn't care about politics... but things have changed so much it is important for finance people to speak up and to stand together to fight for true democracy," said hedge fund manager Edward Chin of new group HK Finance Monitor 2047, which took out the advert.

He added that a letter outlining the 10 points would also be sent to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The campaign group -- which consists of 70 finance workers -- grew out of a previous band of financiers and bankers who supported the Occupy Central campaigners who first galvanised support for civil disobedience over the election proposals.

The group's reference to 2047 in its title comes from the Sino-British joint declaration, signed before the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, which says that Hong Kong's economy, freedoms and way of life will be protected for 50 years.

The advert appeared on page 25 of the Thursday edition of the Wall Street Journal and was flagged as a "political advertisement".

"The economy is being hindered by the lack of democracy here," said corporate governance activist David Webb, who is also part of the campaign group.

"Hong Kong has to start looking at whether we're going to... preserve the current systems that we have, or whether we are now on the slippery slope of erosion and assimilation and absorption into the mainland system."

The advert comes two days after the city hosted the Asian Financial Forum which saw high-profile international figures including finance ministers gather at Hong Kong's convention centre.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) South East Asia Thu, 22 Jan 2015 04:42:39 +0000
Two workers die at separate Fukushima nuclear plants: operator TOKYO: A worker at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant diedimage Tuesday after falling into a water tank, the country's nuclear operator said, the second fatal accident to blight efforts to stabilise the tsunami-battered facility.

Separately on Tuesday, another worker died because of an incident at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, which is located several kilometres (miles) south of the damaged plant, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said.

The victim at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, reportedly in his 50s, was inspecting an empty water tank with two other workers when he fell from the top of the 10-metre (33-feet) container, according to TEPCO.

The worker was trying to remove the lid of the giant tank by himself when he fell into the unit.

"He was wearing a harness, but the hook was found tucked inside the harness. This means the harness was not being used," said a TEPCO spokesman.

"We are investigating whether safety measures were appropriately observed," he added.

The tank is one of thousands at the site used to store rain water that may have picked up radiation at the battered site.

The worker is the second to die during efforts to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after reactors went into meltdown in the aftermath of a huge tsunami in March 2011.

Last March, a worker died after being buried in earth and rubble while digging a hole.

While the earthquake and tsunami it caused four years ago killed more than 18,000 people, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of radiation released by Fukushima's broken reactors.

In the unrelated incident at the Fukushima Daini plant, which was largely unscathed by the huge natural disaster, a worker died after suffering a severe head injury after being caught in equipment, a TEPCO spokesman said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) South East Asia Tue, 20 Jan 2015 05:46:05 +0000