Filipino Prisoners Live Like Kings; Bird Flu in Japan; US-Philippines Discuss Marine; Indonesia IS Recruits


Some prisoners in the Philippines are living like kings while Japan struggles with bird flu. Plus the US Marine charged with murder may be transferred as Indonesia reports an uptick in ISIS recruits.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Prisoners live like kings

A recent raid uncovered drug lords in Bilibid prison living in luxury cells, complete with stripper bars and jacuzzis. According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, there were 20 premium villas outfitted with air conditioning, including some with methamphetamine.

“The military should take over the prison, and all the people involved from top to bottom must be fired,” said Dante Jimenez, founder of the Manila-based watchdog group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in an interview with AFP. The Bilibid prison was designed to house 8,900 prisoners, but currently has an inmate population of 23,000.

Japan struggles to contain bird flu outbreak

Bird flu was detected at a poultry farm in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan, after which government agencies began screening poultry and sanitizing chicken coops. It’s also been detected in cranes in Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, dating back to November.

In 2011 a bird flu outbreak was responsible for an economic loss of 10 billion yen in the region. Kagoshima prefectural government also held an emergency meeting to discuss how best to prevent the virus’ spread.

Philippines wants custody of US Marine

A US Marine stands accused of murdering a transgendered woman in October. PFC Pemberton has been in US custody since the crime took place, but was recently transferred to a Filipino jail. Now, the Philippines is seeking formal custody, although the US isn’t keen on letting it happen.

Indonesia reports more fighting with ISIS

Indonesia estimates 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq, fighting with the Islamic State; fifty more than the previous month. Wawan Purwanto, an expert with the Anti-Terrorism Management Agency, said that most are not coming from Indonesia itself, but rather from countries abroad where they are working.

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How the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect Works… or Does It?


It was expected to bring in over $3 billion a day in trading. A month after its launch, how is the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect performing? That's today's conversation taking place in Asia… now.

November 17th marked the first day of open trading on the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. It was supposed to channel more money between the two exchanges. At one point, some optimistic analysts predicted an almost US$4 billion per day rate in trading.

What we saw was about US$2.1 billion opening day and then a quarter of that the next. A month has passed, and I think it’s worth checking in to see how this potentially influential market is performing. Steve Cheng, Managing Director of RHB OSK Investment Bank joins me to discuss.

After listening to our conversation, please answer these questions in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Do you dabble in Asian stocks? If you do so, do you trade in either Hong Kong or Shanghai? What’s your impression of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect?

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Sydney begins to heal; Former “Nut Rage” Executive to be summoned; Xi’s China Graft Hunt Continues; 300 Chinese Fight for ISIS


Sydney begins to heal; Former “Nut Rage” Executive to be summoned; Xi’s China Graft Hunt Continues; 300 Chinese Fight for ISIS.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sydney begins to heal

In the wee hours Tuesday morning, police stormed Lindt Cafe in Sydney. While the action put an end to the hostage crisis, it also came with a sacrifice.

Reportedly, Tori Johnson saw an opportunity during the standoff and attempted to seize the gun held by Man Haron Monis, but it went off, killing him. However, that action gave the police the opening they needed to move in.

Katrina Dawson is said to have shielded her pregnant friend from gunfire. These heroes were willing to lay down their lives so others might live, said New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn.

Former “Nut Rage” Executive to be summoned

South Korea’s transport ministry said Korean Air Lines will face sanctions for pressuring employees to lie during a government probe into the so called “nut rage” incident. The ministry will also look into the organization’s corporate culture to determine if it poses safety risks to passengers.

South Korean prosecutors are investigating unconfirmed allegations that former executive Hyun-ah “Heather” Cho used violence against cabin manager Park Chang-Jin. She’s expected to be called in for questioning today and may have an arrest warrant issued for her detention.

Xi’s China Graft Hunt Continues

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the military to learn from the mistakes of others his net has snagged, especially those from the corruption case involving Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission. He said that further measures would be taken to make sure all those in positions of authority followed established guidelines and his zero-tolerance for graft would continue.

300 Chinese Fight for ISIS

The state-run newspaper, Global Times, says about 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. It’s believed those fighting with ISIS are Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Chinese officials blame that group for carrying out attacks in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people.

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The Sydney Siege; Murder in Malaysia; US Marine Charged with Murder


The Sydney Siege; Murder in Malaysia; US Marine Charged with Murder

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Sydney Siege

It began sometime before 8am Monday morning, when at least one perpetrator took hostages at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe located in Sydney’s Martin Place. Witnesses in the area heard loud bangs that sounded like gun shots. Patrick Byrne, a producer at Channel Seven whose newsroom is opposite the cafe, said, “We raced to the window and saw the shocking and chilling sight of people putting their hands up against the panes of glass at the cafe.” Now, the situation is over.

Murder in Malaysia

A 44-year-old mother-of-three is recovering in a Kuala Lumpur hospital after her husband chopped off her hands and feet with a meat cleaver before hanging himself. Reportedly the woman is now in stable condition and has been moved to general care after being in the ICU.

US Marine Charged with Murder

A US Marine has been charged with the brutal murder of a transgendered woman in the Philippines. Pfc. Scott Pemberton is accused of killing Jeffrey Laude, who was also known as Jennifer in October. “We will not accept anything less than justice,” the victim’s sister, Marilou Laude, said.

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Japan’s Election; Causeway Bay to be Cleared; Indonesian Landslide; Ma Richest in Asia


Japan's Election; Causeway Bay to be Cleared; Indonesian Landslide; Ma Richest in Asia

Monday, December 15, 2014

Japanese Election Results

Exit polls released in Japan indicate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party scored its predicted landslide victory. The election had been billed as a referendum on his economic policies, but other had viewed it as a vote of no confidence in other parties. Abe said, “I have been pushing for Abenomics, the policies designed to create jobs and raise salaries. Japan can be much richer. This is the only way”.

Last Vestiges of Hong Kong Protests to be Cleared

Last week, Hong Kong Bailiffs and Police cleared the main pro-democracy encampment located in the Admiralty district. In doing so, several resisted and policed ultimately arrested over 200.

Police spokesman Hui Chun-tak told reporters, police will move into Causeway Bay today to clear obstructions and open the road. “I hope the protesters who might still be occupying the road illegally could cooperate with the police to avoid unnecessary confrontations.”

Indonesian Landslide

At least eight are dead and 100 missing after a landslide triggered by heavy rain on Indonesia’s main island of Java.

National Disaster Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, it was unclear whether those missing were buried under the landslide or had taken refuge. “Conditions on the ground are pretty tough and we need heavy machines to clear the road that has been covered by the landslide.”

Jack Ma Richest in Asia

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, has become the richest person in Asia. He surpassed Li Ka-shing, a Hong Kong property tycoon, who has held the top spot in since April 2012.

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Hong Kong Protests, Typhoon Hagupit, Japan’s Election, Xi’s Graft Hunt, and more


Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

The Hong Kong protests fade

For nearly three months, the residents of Hong Kong took to the streets demanding electoral reform. They denounced the plan to vet and presumably stack a list of viable candidates in 2017 ahead of the city’s first open vote with pro-Beijing supporters. The peaceful movement was dubbed the Umbrella Revolution and this week it came to an end.

Asia News Weekly host Steve Miller recaps the week’s events, even as Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, calls for more action, “It’s to demonstrate what we’re taking part is an act of civil disobedience action. That means although the government and police might use furious action on the protestors, we still resist till the last moment. It’s not simply for us to be arrested, but to demonstrate our spirit and we will resist till the last moment.”

Typhoon Hagupit

In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan raged across the Philippines, resulting in the death of more than 7,300 souls. This week, it was widely feared that another typhoon, following roughly the same path, would unleash a similar wave of destruction in an area still struggling with recovery.

“Our job really is to calm them down to minimize any of the negative repercussions from an event such as this. So I’m pressing everybody: The checklist of what has to be done, preferably should have been done yesterday,” Philippine President Aquino said last week before Typhoon Hagupit struck.

While there were some unfortunate losses of life from this natural disaster, Miller provides context on why this storm didn’t provide the same results as Haiyan and the possible impact for Filipinos still recovering.

Japan’s Election

Sunday, December 14th, Japan heads to the polls in a snap election called by Prime Minister Sinzo Abe. He dissolved the lower house of Parliament following a tour of top-level Asian summits and is using this vote to seek validation of his economic policies amidst a recession worse than previously thought.

Miller shares the latest poll results and projections, and even thought the LDP is predicted to retain its power in the Diet, what it means for the future of Japan remains unanswered.

Xi’s China Crackdown

Over the past two years, President Xi Jinping has initiated a number of programs aimed at extending China’s influence and cleaning up politics to solidify his control across all levels of power. In what some experts have said is his biggest and boldest move yet, Xi arrested former public security czar Zhou Yongkang. Zhou represents the highest level official to be taken down in Xi’s war on graft. What happened, how did Zhou’s fall from grace occur, and why the story sounds more like a steamy soap opera are all explained.

The Weekly Brief

Michael Farrell returns to the podcast with a short round-up of other stories from the region. In The Weekly Brief, Farrell gives gruesome details on Chinese organ harvesting practices, an update on a Swiss man escapes from the Abbu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines, how cheap instant coffee is supplanting tea as Aisa’s go-to beverage and more.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Admiralty to be Cleared; China Snubbed; ASEAN Meets in South Korea


Admiralty to be Cleared; China Snubbed; ASEAN Meets in South Korea

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Admiralty Set to be Cleared

Protesters were told to pack up and get out of Hong Kong’s central business district, Admiralty, by 9am today (local time). Some estimates place the number of police set to help bailiffs carry out the court order to clear the area to be in the neighborhood of 7,000.

Hong Kong Police’s Senior Superintendent Cheung Tak-Keung said: “We would like to appeal to those who are still illegally occupying the roads to consider to leave as soon as possible from now on. Police will take resolute action to against anyone who obstructs or violently charges the bailiffs for executing their duties.”

Students were joined for one last sit-in by pan-democratic lawmakers, a move criticized by Hong Kong officials.

China Snubbed by North Korea

Kim Jong-il, the deceased father of current dictator Kim Jong-un passed away nearly three years ago. Yonhap News is reporting Beijing has yet to receive an official invitation to an official celebration according to an unnamed source.

ASEAN Summit

Today and tomorrow marks the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan, South Korea. It’s a celebration of twenty-five years of dialog and leaders are expected to review cooperative measures and discuss the direction of relations.

The Asia Brief is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Hong Kong Protests: Then, Now, and the Future


What’s it been like in Hong Kong during the protests and where are they headed? Bruce Lui of HK’s Baptist University joins me to discus.

Hong Kong came to be under British rule as part of a concussion made by China after its defeat in what’s commonly referred to as The First Opium war. The island remained part of the United Kingdom until July 1st, 1997, when it reverted back to China through what’s known as the Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which governs the island, outlines how the top office, or Chief Executive is to be selected in Article 45:

The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People’s Government.

The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.

It’s the interpretation of the term “universal suffrage” that led us to the current protests in Beijing. At its core, universal suffrage simply means the right to vote. Something Bejing says it’s granting under its plan for 2017. Protesters are object to the pre-selection of candidates by a centralized committee and feel the intention of the article refers to completely open nominations and subsequent voting.

December 2nd, I spoke with Bruce Lui, a Senior Lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication. We discussed the pro-democracy movement and I began our conversation by asking him to describe the mood of the protests from its inception up through the recent crackdowns.

After you listen to the podcast, I’d love to hear your interpretation of Article 45. Does it grant Hong Kongers the ability to nominate their own candidates or simply provide the privilege to vote? Sound off in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter.

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Thumbnail: Trey Ratcliff (Flickr)