Asian Insider April 11: Changi’s new Jewel

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

JEWEL IN CHANGI’S CROWN

A city already known for its gleaming malls just got its most impressive one yet. Jewel Changi Airport - a $1.7 billion complex housed in a 10-storey glass dome - was open for a limited public preview today. The distinctive structure, designed by Moshe Safdie, includes 40m-tall indoor waterfall and 2,500 trees in addition to the hundreds of shops and eateries - all of it linked to three Changi Airport terminals.

The big picture: Being in transit at an airport is ordinarily no one’s idea of a good time. The food is mediocre and overpriced and the shopping is often perfunctory. Changi has been trying to subvert that formula for years, which is why it often at the top of world airport rankings. The belief is that the quality of an airport can sway travel decisions. In a very competitive market, having a world-class attraction at your airport can mean the difference between a traveller picking to fly through Singapore or some other air hub. Jewel is Changi doubling down on this strategy.

So what’s in it?: There are 280 shops and eateries; a 50m long suspended bridge with a glass floor, a 250-m bouncing net, an early check-in lounge, the first Pokemon Centre outside Japan and a Yotel with 130 cabins, among others.

See more:

Our lifestyle team pick out the highlights

See more pictures and watch a walkthrough video here

Senior Aviation Correspondent Karamjit Kaur dives into Changi Airport’s strategy

WILL MOON-TRUMP GET KIM JONG UN TO DENUCLEARISE?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in managed to mediate talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after Mr Trump called it off just weeks before the meeting was expected to take place. It eventually did in Singapore, last year. Now expectations are up again following the failed efforts in Vietnam earlier this year. What will he achieve? 

Go deeper: 

Moon Jae-in: The man who brought Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to the table

Moon Jae-in faces balancing act at meeting with Trump

MAHATHIR VS THE ROYALS

The resignation of the chief minister of the state of Johor in Malaysia is reigniting tensions between the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the royal houses. The regent of Johor and Dr Mahathir have been engaged in a war of words since Datuk Osman Sapian resigned on Monday ostensibly over who decided the minister should leave and who gets to pick his successor.

The big picture: Dr Mahathir has had a long history with the royals and in his first term as prime minister 15 years ago, he reined in the power of the monarchs, moving to, among others, remove their long-held immunity from criminal prosecution. That baggage is coming into play again in this saga, notes correspondent Leslie Lopez, with both sides eager to prove their clout. After all, just last week, Dr Mahathir is said to blame the Johor Regent for his awkward U-turn on ratifying the Rome Statute last week. If you are unfamiliar with that statue (and I don't blame you) all you need to know is that ratification is a prerequisite for Malaysia' admission to the International Criminal Court but critics claimed it would undermine the status of the rulers.

Why it matters: Coming at a time when the ruling coalition is trying to bolster its support among the majority Malay voters, this fight with the monarch has higher than usual stakes for the PM. .

Read the full analysis: Test of strength between royal households and Mahathir looms

JAPAN REINSTATES SUZUKI AS OLYMPICS MINISTER AFTER GAFFE-PRONE SAKURADA RESIGNS

This was one mistake too many. At a political gathering, the outgoing Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada reportedly held the re-election of a lawmaker more important than the recovery in an area hit by the tsunami and nuclear meltdown some time ago that claimed more than 18,000 lives. Japan didn't take kindly to that and late Wednesday, he resigned. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked Shunichi Suzuki, who was Olympics Minister between 2017-2018, to return to the job and restore trust in Tokyo's preparations for the 2020 Olympics.

Meanwhile, preparations are in full swing. Here are some updates:

Japan unveils chatty robot volunteers for Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo unveils 'cherry blossom' Olympic torch

Tokyo 2020 plans weather monitoring after heatstroke fears

INDIA VOTES

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bid for a second term in office commenced as India launched the first phase of polling today, which covers 142 million people. In all, about 900 million people are eligible to vote during the seven rounds of polling across 20 states. There are 543 seats at stake. The final phase will end on May 19 and results are expected to be announced four days later.

Visit the India election microsite for updates.

More on elections in the Asia-Pacific region:

Australian PM Scott Morrison announces May 18 election with campaign to focus on economy, climate

Time for a change in system of Indonesian elections, say experts

Prabowo woos voters in Jokowi stronghold of Solo

CHINESE BYTEDANCE COMPLAINS ABOUT INDIA’S BAN ON TIKTOP APP

China's Bytedance Technology, one of the world's most valuable start-ups, has requested India's Supreme Court to quash a court directive to ban the popular video app TikTop. The app lets users create and share short videos with special effects and has gained over 240 million downloads in rural India, where most of the country resides. The court ban followed allegations that the app encouraged pornography.

In other developments:

South Korea Constitutional Court overturns decades-old ban on abortion

Will China join the Pacific Trade pact?

China seeks to deepen ties with Myanmar

Asia on high alert for invasive fungus

A Malaysian helped take historic first image of a black hole

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed reading this edition of Asian Insider. We'll be back tomorrow.

Shefali