ASEAN/East Asia

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Jakarta tackles fake news as polls loom

JAKARTA: Indonesia is battling a wave of fake news and online hate speech ahead of presidential elections in 2019, as a string of arrests underscore fears it could crack open social and religious fault lines in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Billionaire forms new Thai party

BANGKOK: Thailand’s slow move from military to civilian governance has attracted dozens of new political parties to register in barely two weeks, including one by an Internet-famous billionaire who says he embraces democracy and wants to challenge the country’s traditional powers.

Moving forward: Thananthorn is all smiles after announcing the launch of his new party in Bangkok. — AP

Bali set to go quiet for ‘Day of Silence’

Denpasar: Indonesia’s bustling tourist island Bali is set to go quiet with Internet service and flights temporarily halted for a “Day of Silence”, while young people get ready to pucker up.

Getting ready: Balinese people preparing to pray during a Melasti ritual at Petitenget beach near Denpasar. -AFP

Criticising politicians now a crime in Indonesia

Jakarta: Indonesians could be jailed for criticising national politicians under a new law, in what critics slammed as a major step back for the world’s third-biggest democracy.

Britain warns of increasing Beijing pressure on Hong Kong

Hong Kong (AFP) - Britain warned Thursday of "increasing pressure" on Hong Kong from an assertive Beijing after a raft of jailings of democracy activists and the disqualification of rebel lawmakers from the city's legislature.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

S. Korea prosecutors indict 12 over deadly hospital fire

Seoul (AFP) - South Korean prosecutors have indicted 12 people over a devastating hospital fire that left 50 dead and more than 100 injured in January, Yonhap news agency reported Thursday.

The hospital blaze was the worst fire disaster in South Korea since 2003.

Australian, Cambodian trainers die in demining accident

Siem Reap (Cambodia) (AFP) - An Australian and a Cambodian were killed Thursday when war-era ordnance exploded during a demining training exercise in southern Cambodia, police said, adding three others were injured in the accident.

Decades of civil war left Cambodia as one of the most heavily bombed and heavily mined countries in the world.

Briton apologises in Cambodia 'pornographic party' trial

Siem Reap (Cambodia) (AFP) - A British expat facing up to a year in Cambodian prison for promoting a pool party with images deemed "pornographic" apologised during a court hearing on Thursday, saying he did not know the advertisements breached an indecency law.

Daniel Jones (L) was among 10 foreigners arrested in January after police raided their pool party at a private villa in Siem Reap.

Chinese doctor stabbed to death after row with patient’s husband

Man detained at scene on suspicion of murdering medic after his wife had complained of discomfort following a physical examination

Indonesia makes criticising politicians a crime

Jakarta (AFP) - Indonesians could be jailed for criticising national politicians under a new law which came into force Thursday, in what critics slammed as a major step back for the world's third-biggest democracy.

President Joko Widodo (C) refused to sign off on the controversial law which could see Indonesians jailed for criticising national politicians.