Top Asian News 3:55 a.m. GMT
UTHAI SAWAN, Thailand (AP) — Relatives wailed and collapsed in grief over the small coffins of children Friday after a fired police officer stormed a rural Thai day care center at naptime and massacred dozens of people. Thailand’s deadliest mass killing left virtually no one untouched in the small community nestled among rice paddies in one of the nation’s poorest regions. Grief also gripped the rest of the country, where flags were lowered to half-staff and schoolchildren said prayers to honor the dead. At least 24 of the 36 people killed in Thursday’s grisly gun and knife attack were children, mostly preschoolers.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s president said the country will not face sanctions from soccer’s world governing body after the firing of tear gas inside a half-locked stadium caused a crush at the exits, killing 131 people, including 17 children. Joko Widodo said FIFA President Giani Infantino wrote in a letter to him about potential collaborations between Indonesia and FIFA and the country will remain the host of next year’s U-20 World Cup joined by 24 countries from five continents. “Based on the letter, thank God, Indonesian football is not sanctioned by FIFA,” Widodo said in a video posted on the presidential office’s YouTube channel late Friday.
NEW DELHI (AP) — A bus caught fire after hitting a truck on a highway in western India early Saturday, killing at least 11 passengers, an official said. Another 24 people were injured and taken to a hospital in Nashik, a city in Maharashtra state, said Eknath Shinde, the top state elected official. Most passengers were sleeping when the bus caught fire around 5 a.m. and the vehicle was completely burned, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Shinde said the cause of the fire is being investigated. Nashik is nearly 200 kilometers (120 miles) northeast of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Belarussian pro-democracy campaigner Ales Bialiatski, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with human rights groups in Russia and Ukraine, is the fourth person in the 121-year history of the Nobel Prizes to receive the award while in prison or detention. Bialiatski, 60, who founded the non-governmental organization Human Rights Center Viasna, was detained following protests in 2020 against the re-election of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. He remains in jail without trial and faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen urged Belarus to release Bialiatski but acknowledged that chances of that happening in time for the Dec.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the midst of increasingly aggressive North Korean missile launches this week, the U.S. on Friday imposed sanctions on people and firms in Asia accused of helping North Korea procure fuel in violation of U.N. sanctions. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted two people and three firms from Singapore, Taiwan and the Marshall Islands. The U.S. accused them of moving fuel through an “illicit ship-to-ship transfer” that circumvents United Nations sanctions restricting the import of petroleum products and supports the development of North Korea’s weapons programs and military. The sanctions are the first directed toward the isolated Asian country since the start of its most recent round of missile launches — six rounds of tests in less than two weeks.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government on Friday said it has rescued about 130 Indian workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia after they were lured by agents for fake job opportunities in the information technology sector in Thailand. Arindam Bagchi, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, said some fraudulent IT companies appear to be engaged in digital scamming and forged cryptocurrencies. The Indian workers were held captive and forced to commit cyber fraud, he told reporters. The companies appear to be operating through agents in Dubai, Bangkok and some Indian cities and were recruiting Indian workers through social media advertisements for fake highly lucrative jobs in Thailand, he said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. on Friday targeted an alleged Malaysian wildlife trafficker and what officials called his transnational criminal organization for financial sanctions related to the illegal shipment of rhino horn, ivory and other specimens. The Treasury Department said Malaysian national Teo Boon Ching, his alleged trafficking organization and the Malaysian firm Sunrise Greenland Sdn. Bhd. engage in the “cruel trafficking of endangered and threatened wildlife and the products of brutal poaching.” The U.S. said Teo specializes in the transportation of rhino horn, ivory, and pangolins — also known as scaly anteaters — from Africa, using routes through Malaysia and Laos to consumers in Vietnam and China.
HONG KONG (AP) — A superyacht connected to sanctioned Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov has anchored in Hong Kong as Western governments move to seize yachts connected to Russian businessmen. The megayacht Nord, worth over $500 million, arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon after traveling for over a week from Vladivostok, Russia, its last port of call. Mordashov has estimated wealth of over $18 billion, according to a Bloomberg estimate. He is the main shareholder and chairman of Severstal, Russia’s largest steel and mining company. He was sanctioned by the U.S., the United Kingdom and the European Union in February after Russia invaded Ukraine.
TOKYO (AP) — A United Nations human rights expert urged Japan’s government on Friday to provide evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster with more support, including housing, jobs and other needs, regardless of whether they fled forcibly or not. Wrapping up an investigation of the evacuees’ human rights conditions, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary said Japan has adequate laws to protect internally displaced people. They include a nuclear disaster compensation law that requires the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, to cover damages, and other government-led revitalization and reconstruction programs. But she said they have not been effectively used to address the vulnerability of the evacuees.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia plans record development spending in 2023 despite a proposed smaller national budget Friday that is also laden with the usual cash handouts, tax cuts and other goodies ahead of impending general elections. Finance Minister Zafrul Aziz unveiled in Parliament a budget proposal of 372.3 billion ringgit ($80 billion), down from estimated spending of 385.3 billion ringgit ($85 billion) in the current year. With the economy expected to slow next year amid global uncertainties and an anticipated drop in government revenue, he said the budget aims to balance economic needs with fiscal consolidation. The government’s budget deficit is expected to narrow to 5.5% from 5.8% this year, he said.