Asian Insider, Jan 8: Iran strikes back, Boeing crashes in Iran, 1MDB recordings

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

Hi,

In today’s bulletin: Iran fires back, launching 22 missiles at US bases in Iraq; a Boeing plane bound for Ukraine with 176 aboard crashes in Iran, leaving no survivors; Malaysia’s graft-buster implicates Najib with 1MDB recordings; the Indonesian father of Britain’s ‘worst rapist’ says ‘punishment fits the crime; and a Japanese man fights a retail giant for the right to a day off.

Want to receive the latest developments to the biggest stories in Asia every evening? Just click on this link to sign for The Straits Times’ Asian Insider.

IRAN FIRES BACK WITH 22 MISSILES, SAYS 80 US SOLDIERS KILLED IN IRAQ

Iran retaliated against the US early Wednesday by firing some 22 ballistic missiles at US bases hosting coalition personnel in Iraq. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed that they fired the rockets as retaliation, claiming that the strikes killed 80 US “terrorists” but the Pentagon has yet to release casualty figures.

Soon after the strikes, President Donald Trump tweeted that “all is well” and that “assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!”

Read more on this issue:

How US troops are preparing for the worst in the Middle East

The missile strikes put the ball in Trump's court, but give him breathing space.

BOEING 737 CRASH KILLS ALL 176 ON BOARD IN TEHERAN

A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed outside Teheran minutes after take-off, killing all 176 people on board, including 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians. The Kiev-bound airliner fell to the ground in a fiery ball early on Wednesday. There was no distress call before the crash and the black boxes were recovered from the wreckage of the aircraft, which was delivered in 2016 and had passed safety checks just two days ago. President Zelenskiy ordered a criminal investigation into the crash.

Read more:

Boeing is already mired in crisis following crashes in October 2018 and last March.

MALAYSIA’S GRAFT BUSTER CLAIMS CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY AT ‘HIGHEST LEVEL’ IMPLICATING FORMER PM AND HIS WIFE

Malaysian investigators played audio recordings of former premier Najib Razak seeking help from people including a member of Abu Dhabi royalty and former prosecutors to try to untangle himself from the 1MDB scandal in 2016 in which US$4.5 billion was embezzled from the sovereign wealth fund. In a recording dated Jan 5, 2016, then-public prosecutor Dzulkifli Ahmad said to Najib he was worried that the 1MDB investigation papers were known to about 20 people, and asked, "how can we cover this up?".

Don’t miss the blame game:

Najib's lawyer refuted a claim by Jho Low he is 'victim' in 1MDB scandal.

And, in an interview with the Straits Times, Jho Low explained why he is not returning to face justice.

INDONESIAN FATHER OF BRITAIN’S WORST RAPIST SAYS PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIMES

The father of Reynhard Sinaga, the Indonesian man named as Britain's worst rapist, said his son's punishment "fits his crimes."

"We accept the verdict. His punishment fits his crimes," Mr Saibun Sinaga said. Sinaga, 36, was found guilty of luring 48 men from outside bars and clubs in Manchester back to his flat, where he drugged and assaulted them.

See also:

The Indonesian embassy in the UK said it had followed the case closely to ensure Sinaga was afforded his rights.

JAPANESE MAN FIGHTS 7-ELEVEN AFTER LOSING FRANCHISE FOR TAKING A DAY OFF

A Japanese man who closed his 7-Eleven store on New Year’s Day to take a day off is fighting back after the company that controls the 7-Eleven chain terminated his franchise and stopped supplying him. Mr Mitoshi Matsumoto’s battle highlights the harsh working conditions in the Japanese convenience store industry, with one of Japan’s best-known companies demanding that stores stay open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for all 365 days a year.

More on Japan’s “worked to death” culture:

Japan is seeking to improve productivity in a country where long hours are often more a custom than business necessity.

IN OTHER NEWS

FACEBOOK SETTING UP NEW TEAM IN SINGAPORE TO GROW CHINA AD BUSINESS

Facebook is setting up a new engineering team in Singapore to focus on its lucrative China advertising business, even as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg ramps up criticism of a country that blocks the social network.

INDONESIA WILL NOT NEGOTIATE ITS SOVEREIGNTY IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

Indonesia deployed fighter jets and warships to patrol islands near the disputed South China Sea, the military said Wednesday, escalating tensions with Beijing after a diplomatic spat over “trespassing” Chinese vessels.

JAPANESE BILLIONAIRE TO GIVE AWAY US$9 MILLION IN ‘SOCIAL EXPERIMENT’

Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa is giving away US$9 million to his Twitter followers in what he says is a "social experiment" to see if the payment boosts their happiness. Mr Maezawa will give 1 million yen (US$9,000) to 1,000 followers selected at random from those who retweeted a Jan 1 post, with the impact of the money to be tracked through regular surveys.

That’s it for today. We’ll be back with you tomorrow - thanks for reading.  

Tom

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