Asian Insider April 4: Christchurch gunman faces 50 murder charges

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

Hi there,

In today's top news: Australian Brenton Tarrant is to be charged with 50 counts of murder for the mass killings in Christchurch, New Zealand and Singapore's two integrated resorts commit $9 billion in investments to expand operations.

CHRISTCHURCH TERROR ATTACK ACCUSED CHARGED

The 28-year-old shooter accused of killing 50 Muslim worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch has been charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 of attempted murder, by the New Zealand police, in the worst mass shooting incident in New Zealand.

What this means: The gunman could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, if he is found guilty. New Zealand does not have death penalty.

What comes next: Other charges could follow, if the court deems this a terrorist act. Tarrant is due back in court on Friday and will appear via a video link from a maximum security prison in Auckland. His appearance is likely to be brief, though.

Read more:

Clues of Tarrant's ties to far-right groups emerge

Australia threatens social media firms with fines, jail over violent crimes

SINGAPORE EXPANDS SPACE FOR LEISURE, CASINOS

Singapore's two integrated resorts (IRs) will make $9 billion worth of investments to build new attractions for tourists.

What's new: On the anvil are plans to build a fourth tower to the iconic Marina Bay Sands (MBS) development, three new hotels, a 15,000-seat entertainment arena and extensions to Universal Studios Singapore (USS).

MBS and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will be allowed to expand their casino operations, with their exclusive rights to run a casino here extended until the end of 2030.

On Sentosa, two new areas – Minion Park and Super Nintendo World – will be added to USS.

What's significant: The $9 billion investment is almost two-thirds of the IRs' initial investment of about $15 billion in 2006.

In a nutshell:

8 things to know about changes to Singapore's integrated resorts

Coming soon:

Changi's Jewel set to open its doors in April

CHINA'S TRADE NEGOTIATOR LIU HE TO MEET TRUMP

Will there be a deal? News that China's top trade negotiator and Vice-Premier Liu He will be meeting US President Donald Trump has improved market sentiments but many are watching to see if there will actually be an agreement.

What to watch for? The meeting date. US and Chinese officials are still discussing when the two leaders could sit down to sign off on their trade deal.

Current status? Read below to find out how discussions are shaping up.

US, China move closer to final trade deal

Tariff, enforcement issues still hurdles to trade deal with China, says US Chamber of Commerce

China’s Li heading to Europe to forge closer ties

PHILIPPINES SAYS PRESENCE OF CHINESE VESSELS IN DISPUTED WATERS IS ILLEGAL

Tensions seem to be building up in Philippines over the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels in waters close to their maritime borders. For now, the foreign ministry in Manila has said the presence is illegal and a violation of Philippine sovereignty. We're monitoring and we'll have more on this soon. 

Read more online: Are we a 'province of China'?: Inquirer columnist

MEANWHILE... IN A MIRACLE, AN AUSTRALIAN KITTEN SURVIVES 30-MINUTE WASHING MACHINE CYCLE

A six-month-old kitten living with a family in Tasmania has survived a 30-minute washing machine cycle and made a remarkable recovery, despite suffering head injuries and bruises. The incident happened three-weeks ago and the kitten's back to normal now, the family says. Phew!

IN OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Brand Modi is playing out in Indian elections. There's Modi TV, Modi app and more...

South Korea is getting a head start in 5G as US and China spar over Huawei

Detained again, Nissan ex-chief Ghosn says arrest is ‘outrageous’

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's budget is being seen as sweetener ahead of elections next month

An update on Thailand's general election: By-elections are to be held and ballots will be recounted in some areas

More government assets could be sold to manage national debt, says Malaysian PM Mahathir

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with more updates, tomorrow. 

Shefali