Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 20 June 2017
The Region Today – 20 June 2017
Indonesian ‘Shawshank Redemption-esque’ prison escape
A manhunt is on for four foreign prisoners who have escaped from the notorious Kerobokan prison on the Indonesian island of Bali by tunnelling under the prison walls. One of the four escaped prisoners, Australian Shaun Davidson, had less than 3 months left on his sentence, urging the question, ‘why risk it?’
The other three prisoners hail from Bulgaria, India and Malaysia, and each were facing between 5 and 12 more years behind bars.
The escape comes just one month after more than 400 prisoners escaped from a jail in Sumatra. Indonesian authorities blamed that incident on overcrowding and corruption among prison guards. [CNN]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Top five: most notorious prisons in Southeast Asia
Singapore’s PM apologizes for public dispute with siblings
Days after a feud between Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings offered a rare glimpse into troubles within the first family, the premier offered an apology to a public whose confidence in its government was shaken.
“I deeply regret that this dispute has affected Singapore’s reputation and Singaporeans’ confidence in the government,” the prime minister said on a video over Facebook. “These allegations go beyond private and personal matters, and extend to the conduct of my office and the integrity of the government.”
Meanwhile, Lee Hsien Yang, the brother who publicly condemned the prime minister, confirmed that he and his wife were leaving Singapore because they felt closely monitored and threatened. [Reuters]
Myanmar refugee camp plagued by ‘alarming’ suicide rates
The suicide rate and attempted suicide rate have reached new heights in recent years at Mae La refugee camp, the largest of 9 of its kind along the Thai-Myanmar border with 50,000 residents, many of whom have spent their entire lives in the camp.
28 refugees have killed themselves and 66 attempted suicide in the last two years at the camp, which was only meant to be a temporary safe haven. That rate is more than three times the global suicide rate, according to an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) study published to mark World Refugee Day on Tuesday.
“The number of suicides is very alarming, and we urgently need to address this,” said Harry Smith, IOM’s project officer in Thailand. [Reuters]
Malaysia-based BookDoc gets funding to enter Indonesia
Malaysia-based BookDoc, an integrated online platform where locals and travellers can easily find and book healthcare professionals, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from the Hamami family, one of the wealthiest in Indonesia.
Despite the secrecy of the deal, BookDoc released in a press statement that its valuation will reach “double-digit US million,” thanks to the new investment.
The still fledgling firm plans to use their new funding and powerful connection to aid an expansion into Indonesia, adding to their list of operations in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand. [The Independent]
Cambodian ‘Pol Pot regime porridge’ shop offers a dish with dark memories
A new restaurant in Siem Reap called “Pol Pot regime porridge” has started serving the watery rice porridge that was the staple food for millions who were forced onto forced labor camps during four years of Khmer Rouge rule in the 1970s.
Restaurant owner Tuon Tem lost 9 relatives under the Khmer Rouge and said he wants to remind young people of how difficult that period in history was.
However, some did not appreciate the reminder of Pol Pot, who died without ever facing justice. “He was a brutal killer,” said Siem Reap police chief Ho Vanny. “This is not appropriate.” [Reuters]