Asian Insider Jan 25, 2019: Soros calls Xi 'most dangerous enemy'; another Gandhi enters politics

Soros says Xi is 'most dangerous enemy'

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, billionaire investor George Soros said Chinese President Xi Jinping was "the most dangerous enemy" of democracies for presiding over a high-tech surveillance regime.

"China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced," he said. But he drew a distinction between Mr Xi and the Chinese people, saying the latter remain a main source of hope.

The 88-year-old Hungarian-born philanthropist also said tech giants such as Facebook and Google must be reined in for the good of democracy, comparing them to gambling firms that foster addiction among users.

Another billionaire, Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates, shared updates on how he was trying to make the world a better place. His foundation has donated more than US$10 billion to improve healthcare in the world's poorest countries.

Also at Davos: Time to 'get angry', teen climate activist says

Follow our coverage here.

Another Gandhi enters politics

Mrs Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a member of India's powerful Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, has formally entered politics after being appointed the Congress Party's general secretary in charge of east Uttar Pradesh. Analysts say the surprise move will give a big boost to the opposition party ahead of general elections to be held in three months.

Mrs Vadra, 47, younger sister of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, has for the most part, stayed out of public view. While she remains politically untested, Mrs Vadra's supporters say her uncanny resemblance to her grandmother, former prime minister Indira Gandhi, her ability to connect with the masses, and her charisma, make her a natural politician.

More about her: Who is Priyanka Gandhi Vadra?

India in election mode: 2 rival parties tie up to take on BJP at polls

Cool Cameron Highlands a hot seat

About 32,000 registered voters in Cameron Highlands, a hilly constituency in the Malaysian state of Pahang, will pick a new MP tomorrow in a four-corner by-election, seen as a first bellwether test for the eight-month-old Pakatan Harapan government.

A popular tourist destination famous for its tea and vegetable plantations and cool air, Cameron Highlands has been plagued by problems such as water pollution and landslides caused by an increase in farming activity. The indigenous Orang Asli are also being forced out of their homes to make way for farmland.

Why it matters: Pakatan Harapan government faces first bellwether by-election

Political comeback for Ahok?

Following his release from prison yesterday, supporters of Ahok, whose real name is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, were hoping that the former Jakarta governor will make a quick return to politics, amid the ongoing campaign for Indonesia's next president.

But they might have to wait a bit longer as politics seems to be far from Mr Basuki's mind, at least for now.

Depends on who you ask, his to-do list include a possible foray into the oil business, hosting his own TV talk show, hitting the global lecture circuit, and marrying his 21-year-old girlfriend, who was once his ex-wife's aide.

Find out more: Will Ahok make a political comeback?

Wedding bells soon?: Who is Ms Puput Nastiti Devi?

And here's a webbed sensation to kickstart your weekend

Ms Erica Lim, an urbanite from Kuala Lumpur, has an unusual pet - a duck called Bibit which was hatched from an egg she bought from a Vietnamese cafe that served fertilised bird embryos known as balut.

She and Bibit are now inseparable - they watch movies and listen to music together and Ms Lim even took Bibit out on her dates. "She is a city duck, so she knows how to enjoy city life," Ms Lim says.

And she is never short of duck eggs. "Bibit lays one egg every 25 hours... I've made lots of salted duck eggs that I share with friends and family."

Hope you enjoy today's Asian Insider. Have a good weekend.

What else you need to know today:

- Microsoft 'waiting to find out' why Bing went offline in China

- Remains found of British explorer who put Australia on the map

- US warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions

- Bangkok air full of toxic heavy metals from vehicles, body cremations, researchers say

Want more insights into fast-changing Asia from our network of correspondents? Get this article in your inbox by signing up here.