Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories
9 May 2017
Outgoing Jakarta governor found guilty of blasphemy
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, has been sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy and inciting violence, after a doctored video of a speech he made in October went viral. Prosecutors had only recommended probation for Ahok.
Despite high approval ratings throughout his governorship, Ahok lost the recent Jakarta Gubernatorial election to Anies Baswedan, a moderate Muslim candidate backed by Indonesia’s entrenched political interests who courted the conservative Islamic vote. [BBC]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: New governor faces uphill struggle to unite Jakarta after divisive election
Malaysian IS member confirmed dead
The man who planned the only Islamic State (IS) terrorist attack on Malaysian soil has been killed in Syria, Malaysian authorities have confirmed. Rumours of Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jadi’s death began to circulate after his wife announced he had be killed in Raqqa in a Facebook post last month.
Malaysian police were initially concerned his death might have been faked to help him avoid detection, but police chief Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted last night that “[a]fter reviewing intelligence, the Royal Malaysian Police can confirm that Muhammad Wanndy has been killed in an attack in Raqqa, Syria on April 29”.
A third of the more than 250 people arrested for IS-linked activities in Malaysia between 2013 and 2016 were recruited by or linked to Wanndy, who also operated under the alias of Abu Hamzah Al Fateh. [Al Jazeera]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: New measures give Malaysian PM unprecedented security powers
Duterte comes under fire at UN for ‘war on drugs’
A representative of the Philippines’ government was unable to convince most UN member states on Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs was nothing to worry about.
Delivering a slideshow presentation to the UN’s Human Rights Council, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said the war on drugs is in accordance with the law and that estimates of 7,000 related deaths are inaccurate “One: There is no state-sponsored killing in the Philippines. Two: There is no sudden wave of killings,” he said.
In their one-minute response, most delegates on the council said they remained concerned. Australia called on the Southeast Asian nation to “end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture and harassment”.
China said the senator’s presentation was “very convincing”, adding that drugs were “the public enemy of mankind”. [Deutsche Welle]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Why the Philippine public is getting behind Duterte’s death penalty bid
Handmade bombs kills two in Myanmar’s Rakhine state
An accidental explosion of a handmade bomb in Buthidaung township in western Rakhine State left two dead and three injured, the Office of the State Counselor announced on Monday. The blast took place on 4 May as the victims assembled the bombs from potassium nitrate, sulphur and coal, the announcement said.
Following the release of a report in March calling on Myanmar to shut down refugee camps in Rakhine State and facilitate the repatriation of the Rohingya who fled during October’s military crackdown, the Rakhine Advisory Commission met with religious leaders in Yangon on Monday, as talks to find a solution to the crisis continue. [Radio Free Asia]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Could Myanmar’s Rakhine State become the next Isis recruiting ground?
Despite ban, timber trade between Vietnam and Cambodia is flourishing
Cambodian timber exports to Vietnam increased in the first quarter of 2017, according to new Vietnamese customs data that lend further support to a damning report released this week on the supposedly banned trade.
The Cambodian government issued a ban on all timber exports in January 2016, which initially curtailed a racket that has left vast swathes of forest destroyed or degraded. But the latest data reveals a surge in exports that is comparable with historically high levels.
The latest data confirms the findings of a recent undercover investigation by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, which revealed an industrial-scale timber laundering operation between Ratanakkiri province and Vietnam that started late last year. [The Cambodia Daily]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Cambodia’s logging committee: clampdown or shakedown?
Football diplomacy: North Korea to play Malaysia in Pyongyang
North Korea will play Malaysia in Pyongyang in an Asian Cup football qualifier on 8 May, the Asian Football Confederation announced Monday, a sign that the two countries may be mending relations after a tense few months.
Following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korea’s leader, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February, diplomatic ties between the two nations broke down. Both countries issued temporary travel bans, and many thought the game would not go ahead. [Channel News Asia]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Assassination of Kim Jong-nam highlights Malaysia’s close ties to North Korea