Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 2 June 2017
Region Today – 2 June 2017
At least 25 dead after casino shooting in the Philippines
At least 25 people died while attempting to escape from a the largest hotel-casino in the Philippines after a lone gunman set a number of gambling tables on fire and attempted to flee with about $226,000 in casino chips.
While initial speculation on social media suggested it was an Islamic State-coordinated attack in response to fighting on the southern island of Mindanao, authorities dismissed the rumors and said the suspect was more likely a gambler with a grudge.
The assailant was found dead in a hotel room, apparently having killed himself. [BBC]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Philippines deploys tanks and helicopters in attempt to reclaim southern city
Cambodia puts civil society groups on alert over claims of aiding opposition
Cambodia’s Interior Ministry is keeping a close eye on an unspecified list of civil society organizations, which it has accused of working with the country’s political opposition in the leadup to bellwether commune elections.
While ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said no organization has been put on its “blacklist,” used to initiate formal investigations, he said “we will take action if we find those organizations are working to serve the opposition party.”
The punishment for violating laws requiring political neutrality by non-government groups include potential dissolution. The ministry’s warning comes days before local elections set for 4 June, in which both the ruling and opposition parties are predicting victory. [Cambodia Daily]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Cambodia’s premier enters campaign fray as opposition predicts victory
Thai authorities arrest suspected Russian hitman and three others
Four Russians, including a hitman who was on the Russian government’s most-wanted list, were arrested in a series of raids throughout Thailand and will be extradited immediately, according to Thai Immigration Bureau commander Nathathorn Prousoontorn
The men were wanted for crimes ranging from murder to robbery and prison escape. Some of the men had been living in Thailand for years, either undetected or actively avoiding authorities. [Bangkok Post]
Bank of Thailand governor dispels rumors of real estate bubble
In response to claims from a prominent economist that there could be a real estate bubble emerging in Thailand, Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said such concerns were unfounded.
The concerns were raised by Supachai Panitchpakdi, a former director-general of the World Trade Organization and secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Veerathai played down the concerns on the sideline of on the sidelines of the Greater Mekong Investment Forum.
“The spike in real estate prices we are observing is not alarming and will not create systematic risk like what happened in the 1997 crisis where speculators’ funding was mainly concentrated in borrowing,” he said. [Bangkok Post]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Thailand attempts to revive weakening economy
Wild fishing cats photographed in Cambodia for first time since 2015
Native to the mangroves and marshlands across South and Southeast Asia, the fishing cat, a “vulnerable” species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list, has been photographed for the first time in Cambodia since 2015.
Recent sightings in the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary by fishermen and boat drivers, coupled with the new photographs, offer reason for hope that the species is making a comeback. [Daily Sabah]