Asia Briefs: Agreement expected on South China Sea patrols

Agreement expected on South China Sea patrols

JAKARTA • Indonesia hopes to secure an agreement with Malaysia and the Philippines next week on conducting joint military patrols on the high seas where militants have been on a kidnapping spree, foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said yesterday.

The plight of hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf militant group could also be on the agenda when the foreign ministers and military commanders of the three neighbours meet next Thursday in Jakarta for talks.


China passes law governing foreign NGOs

BEIJING • China passed a controversial new law yesterday giving police wide-ranging powers over overseas charities and banning them from recruiting members or raising funds in the country, prompting an immediate outcry from rights groups.

The law, which will come into force in January next year, gives police the right to approve the registration of all foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), according to a text distributed by the National People's Congress .

At least 1,000 foreign NGOs are thought to operate in China.


8 Thais face sedition, computer crime charges

BANGKOK • Thai police charged eight people with sedition and computer crimes yesterday, part of a fresh wave of arrests as Thailand cracks down on online dissent before a referendum on a military-backed draft Constitution.

The eight were detained by troops on Wednesday over Facebook comments criticising the draft, which has been denounced by groups on both sides of Thailand's political divide ahead of the Aug 7 referendum.


Myanmar bans logging to curb deforestation

YANGON • Myanmar has banned lucrative logging operations as the newly elected government of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi steps up a battle on deforestation, an environment official said yesterday.

In April 2014, Myanmar banned export of raw timber logs to slow deforestation and boost its own production.

By 2010, forest cover had shrunk to 47 per cent of land area from 58 per cent in 1990, Forestry Ministry data shows.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Asia Briefs'. Subscribe