MONTH IN BRIEF
Tensions over Pyongyang missile tests
North Korea fired an artillery barrage into waters off its coast overtwo consecutive days, targeting a maritime ‘buffer zone’ set up in 2018 to reduce tensions with the South.Pyongyang has dramatically increased missile launches and military exercises in recent weeks, as Seoul and Washington say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is on the verge of conducting what would be his country’s seventh nuclear test.Around100 artillery shells were fired from South Hwanghae province into the West Sea at around 12.30pm on Oct. 19, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, calling it a ‘clear violation’ of the 2018 agreement.
New president for Congress
A former railways ministerhas been elected president of India’s Congress party, becoming the first leader outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to hold the post in over 20 years, as the party seeks to revive its fortunes. Veteran politicianMallikarjun Kharge defeated former UN diplomat-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor, winning 90 per cent of votes. However, the Nehru-Gandhis, who have led Congress for the most partsince India’s independence, are not expected to loosen their hold on the party. Mr Kharge is a staunch supporter of the family and was widely seen as their unofficial choice for president.
Oz and UK probe China military training
Australia is investigating reports that its former military pilots are accepting training roles in China, as Britain considers taking legal action to stop its pilots from being similarly recruited on national security grounds. The British government has said it is taking steps to prevent China from trying to engage serving and former British military pilots to train the Chinese armed forces. The BBC reported that up to 30 former military pilots had gone to train China’s People’s Liberation Army.
Khan plans protest march
Building on momentum from a recent by-election win,Pakistan’s former premier Imran Khan says he will plan a protest march to Islamabad if the government does not announce a date for early elections.Preparations for the peaceful demonstration in the capital are almost complete, the ex-cricket-star-turned-politician said at a news conference, though he did not disclose the date.Khan’s warning to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government came a day after his party won six of the eight seats being contested in the by-election.
Tourists lured by weak baht
A weaker baht is attracting tourists toThailand and supporting the nation’s post-pandemic economic recovery, according toFinance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith. ‘Thailand is value for money,’ he said in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting of finance ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Bangkok, highlighting the destination’s appeal to travellers looking for bargains. The weakness in the local currency – South-east Asia’s second-worst performer so far this year – may linger through 2024, said the minister, adding that it is still competitive and the central bank need not worry about capital outflows as much as other economies.
Jail risk over Diwali firecrackers
Festival-goers who let off firecrackers in New Delhi during this year’s Diwali face up to six months in jail, the city’s Environment Minister said, under a broader ban introduced to help combat extreme winter pollution.Delhi, a city of about 20 million, is the world’s most polluted capital and particle levels climb steeply during winter months, when cold air traps smoke and dust from many sources.Firecrackers have for generations been an integral part of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which takes place throughout India in October or November.
Conscription for boyband
The members of South Koreanboyband BTS are toundertake mandatory military service, their management company stated. Big Hit Music said the band’s oldest member, Jin, would revoke his request to delay his conscription and fulfil his militaryduties,as required under South Korean law. The six other members of the hugely successful pop group also plan to serve in the military, according to the company’s notice to financial regulators. Big Hit issued another statement on Twitter, saying the company and BTS members look forward to reconvening as a group around 2025, following their service commitment.
Sri Lanka celebrates Booker win
Colombo has welcomed Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka’s Booker Prize win, despite his novel’s focus on the island’s civil war, in which government forces are accused of committing atrocities. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida tells the story of a dead war photographer who in the afterlife seeks to expose the brutality of the conflict, which claimed at least 100,000 lives. Booker Prize judges called it a ‘whodunnit and a race against time, full of ghosts, gags and a deep humanity’, while government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana congratulated Mr Karunatilaka on his award, saying his ‘great achievement’ had ‘brought honour to the country’.