The Region Today: Southeast Asia Globe’s daily news rundown
16 May 2017
Duterte dodges impeachment effort in congress
An impeachment complaint against Phillipine President Rodrigo Duterte accusing him of ordering murders and encouraging extrajudicial killings has been declared insufficient by the Justice of the House of Representatives.
Rudy Fariñas, the majority leader, said that Congressman Gary Alejano’s complaint was largely based on news reports and that he lacked “personal knowledge” of the allegations. The decision means that another impeachment complaint against the president cannot be filed until March 2018.
As many as 7,000 people have been killed in the leader’s war on drugs, according to human rights groups. In February, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines labelled the anti-drug operation a “reign of terror in many places of the poor”.
“Institutions are just unwilling and are unable to prosecute the president,” said Mr. Alejano. “What is the people’s recourse? Where will you complain? We will look for other ways to seek justice.” [The New York Times]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Can the Philippines’ embattled vice president lead the opposition against Duterte?
Cambodian defence minister promises to crush election protests
Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh warned crowds at the opening of a new government office complex in Siem Reap on Sunday that the armed forces would react violently to end any protests following local elections on June 4.
“If you lose the elections and contest the results by taking to the streets to protest, we will smash your teeth,” the defense minister said. “I’m warning you in strong terms that we won’t allow such protests again.”
Banh’s comments come a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there would be civil war if his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) lost power. Mass protests followed the disputed 2013 national election, in which the CPP claimed a narrow victory. [Radio Free Asia]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: The price of loyalty: is Cambodia’s ruling party losing its traditional strongholds?
Indonesia’s chili mafia manipulating prices to devastating effect
When the price of chili in Indonesia tripled overnight in February, the country’s competition watchdog suspected foul play. A trip to the resource-rich province of East Kalimantan revealed that “it was the mafia running the distribution chain”.
Since then, Bank Indonesia has been working with the police to break the cartel’s stranglehold on the country’s favourite spice, which has caused inflation to jump to 4.17% from a year earlier, wreaking havoc for about half of the nation’s 260 million people who still live below or marginally above the official poverty line. [Bloomberg]
How Cambodian children are still being hit by Japan’s tsunami
For some two decades, nutritionists and public health experts in Cambodia have been battling an epidemic of iodine deficiency, which negatively affects the development of children’s brains. Idoized salt use jumped from 13% in 2000 to 70% in 2011 after a government law making it mandatory to iodize table salt.
But after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the global price of Iodine tripled, and Cambodian importers started to bring in cheaper non-iodized salt from Vietnam. While there is still a chance to save children from permanent damage, time is running out, according to Unicef. [The New York Times]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Private firms fill the healthcare void amid rapid growth in Southeast Asia
Singapore is home to the “world’s largest luxury car vending machine”
Autobahn Motors’ 15-story luxury car ‘vending machine’ not only helps it stand out from its competition, but is also an efficient use of Singapore’s scarce land, according to general manager Gary Hong.
On the ground floor, customers peruse a touchscreen menu comprising Ferraris and Lamborghinis, which, when selected, are delivered within one to two minutes by the company’s Automotive Inventory Management System.
“We needed to meet our requirement of storing a lot of cars. At the same time, we wanted to be creative and innovative,” said Hong. [Reuters]
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