Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 29 June 2017
The Region Today – 29 June 2017
Philippine army claims to have found five decapitated civilians in Islamic State occupied city
The Philippine military has discovered the mutilated remains of 17 civilians in Marawi City, which has been occupied by Islamic State (IS)-linked militants for over a month. According to a text message from Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia, five of the civilians had been decapitated.
“All they do is just to kill and destroy, and killing in a most brutal way,” said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. “They enjoy decapitating people in front of cameras. They have to be dealt with, with the same ferocity but not the brutality.”
Seeking a swift end to the conflict, Duterte encouraged soldiers to take the fight to the militants, assuring them that he would protect them from legal action should they accidentally kill civilians while doing so.
“And my orders to you: if he carries a gun, he is not a soldier, he is not a policeman, just kill him. That is my order, because they will kill us,” Duterte told his soldiers. [Reuters / The Guardian]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Philippines deploys tanks and helicopters in attempt to reclaim southern city
Indonesia imposes travel ban on Donald Trump’s business partner
Indonesian authorities are banning business tycoon and politician Hary Tanoesoedibjo from travelling overseas for the next 20 days while he is being investigated for allegedly sending threatening text messages to a prosecutor, who is currently working on a case involving Mobile 8, a telecommunications company previously owned by Tanoesoedibjo’s MNC Group.
According to Agung Sampurno, a spokesman for the immigration directorate, Tanoesoedibjo “is under investigation related to a violation of the information and electronic transactions law”.
The Indonesian billionaire, who was reported to be mulling over the possibility of running for the presidency in 2019, has close ties to US President Donald Trump, for whom he is building a number of resorts.
“If I am the leader of this country, then that’s where Indonesia will be changed and cleared of things that are not as they should be,” read part of the alleged text message according to Tanoesoedibjo’s lawyer. [Reuters]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: A brief guide to Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest in Southeast Asia
High-tech military equipment goes missing from Malaysian port
Military radar equipment worth millions of Malaysian ringgit has been reported missing from the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor, Malaysia.
The equipment was being held at the port because it lacked the permits necessary to be exported to the Netherlands, its final destination. The case is being investigated by the police, as well as the Customs Department. Authorities say it is possible that the equipment was loaded onto another boat headed for the Netherlands to avoid further complications.
Those found guilty of exporting such equipment without the necessary permits face fines of up to $2,328,691 and, in some cases, the death penalty. [The Star / Asia News Network]
Cambodian PM wages legal warfare against former opposition leader
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is calling on lawmakers to create new laws to prevent former leader of the opposition, Sam Rainsy, who is currently living in self-imposed exile in France, from undertaking any form of political activity in the future.
“We aren’t afraid of you, but we don’t want you to get involved in [our] country’s achievements,” Hun Sen said during a speech at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CCP)’s 66th anniversary celebration in Phnom Penh.
The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party made significant gains in the recent commune election, which were widely seen as a bellwether poll for next year’s crucial national elections. [The Cambodia Daily]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Former Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy not returning home although travel ban lifted
Harry Potter and owl trafficking more closely linked than one might imagine
The demand for illegal owls in Indonesia is directly correlated with the popularity of the Harry Potter series, a recent study into the country’s bird markets has strongly suggested.
In the popular children’s books, the main character, Harry Potter, has a pet owl named Hedwig.
Before 2001, there were only a few hundred owls sold in Indonesia, but after that, when the first Harry Potter book was translated and sold in Indonesia, the numbers surged up to 13,000 in 2016.
The popularity of owls in Indonesia has struck fear into many conservationists as some species of the owls are already endangered. “They [owls] are alive and cute when you see them on the market, but realistically they are already dead,” said Vincent Nijman, co-author of the study. [Nature]