Asian Insider, Jan 27: 16-year-old detained here for planning Christchurch anniversary terror attack

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

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In today's bulletin: Singapore detains 16-year-old for planning attacks on two mosques to mark the anniversary of Christchurch attacks; Vietnam's Communist Party chief nominated for re-election; Myanmar's military threatens coup after alleging voter fraud in recent elections; and more.

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16-year-old detained for planning attacks on Christchurch anniversary

Singapore has detained a 16-year-old school student for planning to attack two mosques and kill worshippers here on March 15, to mark the second anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks.

The youngster is the youngest person ever to be detained here on terrorism-related charges under the Internal Security Act. Inspired by far-right extremist ideology, the Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity had actively prepared for the attacks.

The self-radicalised individual watched the live-streamed video of the terrorist attack on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and had read the manifesto of the Christchurch attacker Brenton Tarrant, said Singapore's Internal Security Department.

Vietnam's Communist Party chief nominated for re-election

Vietnam's ruling Communist Party chief and the architect of the country's anti-corruption programme, Mr Nguyen Phu Trong, is set to gain a rare third term if early media reports prove accurate.

Over 1,600 party delegates have been holding a nine-day long closed-door meeting to elect the country's future leaders. But, reports hinted, that an exception has been made for the 76-year-old Mr Trong, who is also Vietnam's President, despite his health issues.

Mr Trong emerged on top in a power struggle against the former prime minister during the last congress in 2016 and has remained powerful since. The appointment of the new leadership comes at a crucial time for the country, as it navigates its way through the widening rift between the US and China and seeks to set its economy back on a track of high growth after containing the pandemic.

Also read:

Vietnam's communists look to Biden to offset growing Chinese power

Myanmar army raises prospect of coup after voter fraud claims

Myanmar's powerful military has raised the spectre of staging a coup if it doesn't get a satisfactory response to its allegations of widespread voting fraud in elections last November, which handed Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling party a landslide victory.

Claims of voter fraud have been made both by the military-aligned opposition as well as the army. Together, they've claimed to have found nearly 8.6 million cases of fraud.

Military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun today reiterated his demand that the election commission provide the final voter lists for cross-checking - a demand which has not been met so far.

Philippine cancels airport project with China Communications

A province in Philippines has withdrawn permits given to a Chinese firm to build an airport south of the capital, after finding deficiencies in the consortium's documentation.

The contract - worth US$10 billion (S$13.25 billion) - awarded to the China Communications Construction Co (CCCC), was one of the biggest projects given to a Chinese firm by President Rodrigo Duterte's government.

CCCC and Philippines company MacroAsia Corp won the auction in 2019 to partner with the Cavite provincial government to upgrade the Sangley airport.

The project, together with another airport planned by the government, was part of an initiative to take the pressure off Manila's international airport. Incidentally, CCCC was among the Chinese firms blacklisted by the United States in August for their roles in constructing and militarising artificial South China Sea islands.

China's ByteDance to slash India workforce after TikTok app ban retained

China's ByteDance has written to its employees in India saying it is cutting back on its 2,000 strong workforce and is unsure when it will make a comeback, after India announced yesterday that it will retain a ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps.

The ban came into place last year as political tensions escalated between the two countries over border clashes.

In other news…

Japan PM Suga apologises after lawmakers' night club outings: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologised today after lawmakers from his ruling coalition visited night clubs despite his government's call for people to avoid unnecessary outings to curb the spread of Covid-19.

New Delhi tightens security after farmers storm capital city: India's government increased security in the capital New Delhi after thousands of protesting farmers broke police barricades and stormed key landmarks in a serious escalation of months-long demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new agriculture laws. Protest leaders are now set to be meeting to decide the next steps in their campaign.

Pakistan's electricity problem: After spending decades tackling electricity shortages, Pakistan now faces a new and unfamiliar problem: too much generation capacity. The South Asian nation's power supply flipped to a surplus last year after a flurry of coal and natural gas-fired plants were built, mostly financed by the Belt and Road Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

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