Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 28 June 2017
The Region Today – 28 June 2017
Duterte surfaces after week-long absence
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made his first public appearance for a week late Tuesday evening to give a 25-minute speech at the presidential palace, as rumours of his poor health continued to animate conversations across the country.
Duterte, who has made a habit of lengthy speeches, sometimes several times a day, has remained relatively silent during the biggest crisis of his presidency – the occupation of Marawi City by Islamic State-linked militants.
While Duterte is now 72 years old and has talked of his heavy use of painkillers, the government is trying to dispel all rumours that his health is failing. In his speech on Tuesday night, he railed against the militants in Mawari but did not bring up his own wellbeing. [Reuters]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Philippines attempts to quash rumours of President Duterte’s ill health
Detained Myanmar journalists to be charged for ‘unlawful association’
Three reporters from two independent Myanmar publications are set to be charged under a colonial-era law banning “unlawful association” after they travelled to the northern Shan State to cover a drug-burning event organized by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), an armed ethnic group fighting the military.
The reporters, along with four civilians arrested with them, are currently being held at an undisclosed location and if convicted could face up to three years in jail, according to government and military officials.
“We urge immediate action on this matter consistent with international standards of human rights and freedom of the press,” said US State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams. “A free press is vital to the success of peace and national reconciliation process.”
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has so far remained silent on the issue. [Reuters]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: One year after Myanmar’s historic elections, where is the country headed?
Indonesia arrests trespasser carrying knives at police headquarters
Indonesian police have arrested a 31-year-old man from Blitar regency in East Java for trespassing on Central Java Police headquarters. Police say they found two knives, used syringes and rusty nails in a bag the man was carrying.
“[The suspect] claimed to have jumped over the fence [of the police station] to search for food,” said Central Java police spokesman Djarod Padakova.
Tensions are already high in Indonesia, where two men, suspected members of a radical islamist group, stabbed and killed a police officer at a police station in North Sumatra on Sunday. [Straits Times]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Indonesia says it has arrested dozens of suspected militants since suicide bombings
Tourism a boon for Thailand’s state-run airports
Increased airport traffic due to tourism has resulted in Airports of Thailand’s shares jumping up by an impressive 18% this year.
The state-run firm is expecting a large influx of passengers in the years ahead and has begun planning major upgrades to its infrastructure. The company expects to receive 90 million annual passengers at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by 2022 and 40 million at its low-cost hub Don Mueang International Airport, according to the company’s president, Nitinai Sirismatthakarn.
“We’re about to invest in 10 years about $6 billion for our six airports,” said Sirismatthakarn in an interview on 22 June. [Bloomberg]
Indonesia plays host to the Obamas
On Friday, Former US President Barack Obama and his family arrived in Indonesia, where they have been seen white-water rafting on the Ayung River in Badung, Bali.
The Obamas are official guests of Indonesian President Joko Widodo and are scheduled to visit the presidential Bogor Palace in West Java during their nine-day trip. The former US President, who lived in Indonesia in 1967 when he was six years old, will also address the Indonesian Diaspora Congress in Jakarta on 1 July. [The Independent]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Obama’s Vietnam visit highlights ‘mutual respect’