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BRUNEI

Travel agents, London's transport network and finance houses were among a rising number of companies to cut ties with businesses owned by Brunei to protest over the Sultanate's introduction of the death penalty for gay sex and adultery. The move --which rolled out further Islamic Syariah laws which punish sodomy, adultery and rape with death--prompted a corporate backlash after actor George Clooney and singer Elton John called for a boycott of hotels owned by the country, including the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. The backlash also spread to universities. More than 50,000 people signed a petition calling on Oxford University to rescind an honorary degree awarded to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, the world's second-longest reigning monarch and prime minister of the oil-rich country.

MANILA, Philippines

The presence of more than 200 Chinese fishing boats near an island occupied by Manila in the disputed South China Sea is illegal and a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, the country's foreign ministry said. The Philippines has monitored more than 200 Chinese boats near Thitu, also known as Pagasa in the Philippines, from January to March this year, according to military data. "These are suspected maritime militia," Capt Jason Ramon, spokesman for the military's Western Command said this week. "There are times when they are just there without conducting fishing. At times, they are just stationary." The Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims of sovereignty in the busy South China Sea, a conduit for goods in excess of $3.4 trillion every year.

SEOUL, S. Korea

A giant forest fire swept across swathes of South Korea last weekend, as authorities declared a rare national disaster, deploying 900 fire engines and tens of thousands of personnel to bring it under control. Apocalyptic images on television and social media showed walls of flame lighting up the night, buildings engulfed in flames, and clouds of smoke billowing across hillsides during the day. The blaze broke out late Thursday alongside a road in the town of Goseong, in the far northeast of the country and only around 45km from the border with the nuclear-armed North. Fanned by strong winds it quickly spread through the mountainous area, incinerating 400 homes and 500 hectares of land, according to the government. Nearly 4,000 people were evacuated and one person died, authorities said, while 11 were injured. The military sent 32 helicopters, and 16,500 soldiers, to help.

KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan will release 360 Indian prisoners this month, the foreign office said on Friday, as the nuclear-armed neighbours scale back from a confrontation that prompted world powers to urge restraint. Tension has been running high since a suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-administered Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on February 14, but the risk of conflict rose dramatically on February 27, when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base. The following day Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot who was later released. Pakistan has decided that 360 Indian prisoners - 355 fishermen and five civilians, who have completed their term of sentence, will be released from April 8, an official said.

MUMBAI, India

An Irish international human rights lawyer who was caught on camera making abusive rants at Air India crew after she was refused alcohol on a flight from Mumbai to London has been jailed for six months in the UK. Simone Burns, was described as "drunk and obnoxious" during a hearing in London, where it emerged that she also spat at a flight attendant during her foul-mouthed racist tirade after she was refused alcohol on the flight in November last year. Judge Nicholas Wood, as he sentenced the 50-year-old to six months in prison for being drunk on an aircraft and two months for assault, sentences to run concurrently. "You were drunk and obnoxious almost from the beginning to the end. You were abusive, contemptuous and confrontational and used appalling language," he said.

TOKYO, Japan

Japan's head of 7-Eleven convenience store business, is being replaced amid pressure to abandon its 24-hour store policy due to a shortage of workers. Seven-Eleven Japan Vice President Fumihiko Nagamatsu will replace President Kazuki Furuya, the company said. The company has come under pressure to change after complaints by franchise owners, some of whom were forced to keep working amid massive snowstorms or in the wake of a family death, attracted nationwide attention. The company's franchise system has helped buffer the impact of Japan's tightest labour market in 40 years, as store owners are on the hook to pay wages after handing over royalty fees. Faced with criticism from store owners and recent calls for change by politicians, the company recently began testing shorter hours at 10 of its more than 20,700 stores.

BANGKOK, Thailand

The telegenic leader of an anti-junta political party who rose to prominence in Thailand's election last month was charged with sedition, drawing hundreds of his supporters onto the streets urging him to "fight". Billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit heads the youth-oriented Future Forward Party which won more than six million votes in the March 24 poll, the first since a 2014 coup, with its message of ousting the military from politics. It had joined an anti-junta coalition with six others claiming the right to form a government in the aftermath of the disputed vote whose full results are expected by May 9. Earlier this week he posted on Facebook that police had summoned him to appear yesterday to face a sedition charge relating to an anti-junta rally in 2015.

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Publication:South Asian Post
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 11, 2019
Words:943
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