Asia Briefs: Thai police to charge 11 activists

Thai police to charge 11 activists

BANGKOK • Thai police said yesterday they will charge 11 activists, who tried to stage a protest over suspected corruption in an army-built park, with illegal assembly as allegations of irregularities in the park's funding persist.

Dozens of student activists were arrested on Dec 7 while trying to protest against alleged army corruption, after a train they were travelling on was intercepted.

Police and soldiers held the students before they could rally outside the multimillion-dollar Rajabhakti Park, built in the seaside resort town of Hua Hin in the south of Bangkok, and dedicated to the monarchy.

They were later released.


Thai-Malaysia train service launched

BANGKOK• Thailand and Malaysia launched yesterday a cross-border train service said to be a major step in the formation of the Asean Community by the end of this year, media reports said.

The service runs from Hat Yai in southern Thailand to Padang Besar in northern Malaysia, from where travellers can take connecting trains to Butterworth, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur, Bernama news agency reported.

Four trips will be operated daily and the fare will be 80 baht (S$3), the report said.

'Lian' the Chinese character of the year

BEIJING • The Chinese character "Lian", or "clean governance", has been chosen by Chinese netizens as the character of the year for 2015, and "Internet Plus" as the word/phrase of the year. The winners were chosen in an online poll from more than 11,000 candidate characters and words recommended by Internet users, the organisers - the Chinese National Language Monitoring and Research Centre and the Commercial Press - announced yesterday.

Also, the character "Kong" (terror) and the word "counterterrorism" were chosen as representative of international affairs. Runners-up included "slump", "second child", "chaotic" and "Islamic State", with "smog", "Belt and Road" and "refugee" also popular candidates.

Cultural experts believe that the Chinese character and word/phrase of the year indicate individual sentiment and the social values of Chinese people.

Last year's character and word/phrase were "law" and "anti-corruption".


Tycoon at 2009 1MDB meeting 'as Saudi rep'

Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho attended a 2009 meeting of state investment vehicle 1MDB's board of directors as a representative of the Saudi royal family, Malaysia's Finance Ministry was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini news portal yesterday.

The ministry was responding to opposition lawmaker Tony Pua's query on whether Mr Low, who has been found to have been involved in business deals with the debt-ridden 1MDB, attended the meeting which discussed a joint venture with Petro Saudi International.

According to Malaysiakini, the Finance Ministry said Mr Low merely extended the Saudis' courtesy to the 1MDB board of directors before leaving the meeting.•

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2015, with the headline 'Asia Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe