MONTH IN BRIEF
Nepal air crash: no survivors
Nepali rescue workers, who spent days scouring a debris-strewn ravine for bodies following the crash of Yeti Airlines ATR 72, found no survivors from the mangled wreckage of the plane, which had 72 people on board, including 53 Nepalese passengers, along with five Indians, four Russians and two Koreans. The aircraft plummeted into the steep gorge, smashed into pieces and burst into flames as it approached the central city of Pokhara on the morning of Jan. 15. The tragedy– whose cause is not yet known – is Nepal’s worst aviation disaster since 1992.
Covid protestors arrested
China has formally arrested nine people in connection with a wave of Covid-19 protests that swept the country last November, a human rights group said, even as Beijing loosens the curbs that provoked the demonstrations. Municipal prosecutors in Beijing have approved the arrests of nine people suspected of participating in demonstrations in the capital, according to Weiquanwang, a website that tracks human rights cases in China. They are accused of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’, the site said, a catch-all charge, often used against dissidents in China, which carries a possible sentence of five years in jail.
Anti-Islamic act stokes anger in Indonesia
Indonesia has summoned Sweden’s envoy over the burning of the Quran by a far-right activist in Stockholm.Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan torched a copy of the Islamic holy book in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital, provoking anger in Ankara, which said it would not support the Scandinavian country’s bid for NATO membership. Sweden’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Ms Marina Berg, was summoned as Jakarta lodged an official complaint against the anti-Islamic act. While Sweden’s leaders condemned Paludan’s actions, they defended their nation’s definition of free speech.
Thaw in Indo-Pak relations?
India has invited Pakistan’s Foreign Minister to a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that it is hosting in May, signalling a possible thaw in relations between the nuclear-armed rivals.The invitation came days after Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif called for talks with India over all outstanding issues, including the disputed Kashmir region. Street protests took place recently in India over comments Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of UN Security Council meeting, which India called ‘uncivilised’.
New premier for Taiwan
Taiwan’s former vice-president Chen Chien-jen will be the country’s new premier, as part of a Cabinet reshuffle following heavy losses for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at local elections last year.Premier Su Tseng-chang submitted his resignation on Jan. 19, along with that of his Cabinet ahead of the widely expected government reorganisation.Mr Su’s move followed the DPP’s trouncing at local polls in November, and comes as Taiwan gears up for presidential and parliamentary elections in early 2024.
Retreat from ‘sinking’ holy town
Authorities have evacuated panicked residents from one of the holiest towns in the Indian Himalayas after hundreds of houses began developing wide cracks and sinking.While the cause of the apparent subsidence in Joshimath in the northern state of Uttarakhand is unclear, residents blamed the building of roads and tunnels for a nearby hydroelectric project.Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a high-level meeting to discuss the problem after the government formed an expert panel to carry out a ‘rapid study’ into the cause.
Philippines general sacked over murder
The Philippine military has sacked a prominent army general after police named him as the ‘mastermind’ behind the murder of a model he was said to be intimate with.Brigadier-General Jesus Durante, who headed the security detail of Rodrigo Duterte when he served as Philippine president, ordered the killing of Yvonne Chua Plaza outside her apartment in December in the southern city of Davao, according to investigators.Durante was sacked as commander of the 101st Brigade after he was named as a person of interest in Ms Plaza’s murder.
Malaysia’s first bite of Apple
Technology giant Apple has begun hiring employees for a retail push into Malaysia, preparing to bring its chain to the Asian country for the first time.The company recently published job listings on its website for locations in Malaysia, seeking store managers, technical specialists and support staff, sales staff for businesses and operations experts.The listings indicate that the positions will be for Apple’s own retail stores, not third-party reseller locations that have long operated in Malaysia.