Dear ST reader,
We hope you’ve been keeping well.
In our Asian Insider newsletter this week, Malaysia’s former premier Najib Razak’s final appeal against his graft conviction and jail sentence gets rolling despite his lawyer’s attempt to quit in a bid to postpone the proceedings. Over in Indonesia, find out more about its efforts to go green while tensions over Taiwan remain high amid deteriorating US-China relations.
Najib’s final appeal hearing
Malaysia’s top court begins hearing former prime minister Najib Razak’s appeal to overturn his corruption conviction and a 12-year jail sentence related to the 1MDB scandal after the Federal Court rejected his bid for a retrial.
Najib’s defence team has chosen not to present oral arguments to the Federal Court, after the court rejected the ex-PM lawyer’s eleventh hour attempt to discharge himself in a bid to postpone Najib’s trial.
Read more: Najib’s son talked up as GE candidate
Meanwhile, the fallout over the RM9 billion Littoral Combat Ship scandal continues to reverberate with protests and calls for royal inquiries, while former navy chief Ramli Nor, in his capacity as managing director of contracted firm Boustead Naval Shipyard, became the first person to be charged with graft in relation to the deal.
A government investigative report on the project has been declassified in line with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob's pledge to carry out a public and transparent probe but experts say it is a high-risk gambit that could backfire on ruling party Umno and the government, writes Regional Correspondent Leslie Lopez.
US-China tensions continue
China bristles at yet another US congressional delegation visit toTaiwan, this time led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey. Analysts tell Taiwan correspondent Katherine Wei that there will be more similar calls to the island in the future, fuelling worries of further tensions in the already strained US-China relations.
As it is, the geopolitical rivalries between the two giants have extended towards the Pacific and fuelled tension among Pacific states, reports Jonathan Pearlman.
Experts warn that Beijing and Washington are increasingly edging towards confrontation. This dangerous trajectory is not helped by Western politicians increasingly seeing things through the prism of China as a global bogeyman, China Correspondent Danson Cheong writes in this week’s Power Play column.
Indonesia goes green
North Kalimantan province will become the biggest green industrial park in the world, pledges Indonesia President Joko Widodo, as he underlines his government's commitment to build an integrated ecosystem which will support the development of the global green economy.
Already Indonesian businesses are greening their operations to lure investors and pursue profits in the renewables sphere, reports Indonesia Correspondent Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja. Meanwhile, foreign players such as Chinese and South Korean carmakers are leading Indonesia's drive towards green mobility by producing electric vehicles locally, writes Indonesia Correspondent Linda Yulisman
A hotter East Asia
China is facing its worst heatwave in 60 years, with the extreme heat causing a spike in electricity demand, forcing at least four provinces to ration power, reports China Correspondent Danson Cheong. Scientists have warned that heatwaves are predicted to become more frequent and intense in East Asia, writes Climate Change Editor David Fogarty.
Over in the Himalayas, change in weather patterns at high altitudes leads to heavy rainfall which in turn triggers landslides that threaten homes and livelihoods. Check out how climate change is affecting Nepal in this special report.
World’s going nuclear?
More nations are in pursuit of nuclear weapons after the Ukraine war. In the latest edition of Conversations on the Future, veteran diplomat Bilahari Kausikan speaks to US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh on whether this means a more dangerous or a more stable world.
Afghanistan: One year after Taliban takeover
Life has become harder for most Afghans one year after the Taliban returned to power. In this Asian Insider special report, find out how Afghanistan has changed for its people and in its ties with the world.
A helping hand out of poverty
China's rural villages are getting help to lift themselves out of poverty through the government's rural revitalisation drive aimed at boosting the local economy and bridging the inequality gap. The efforts include building roads, promoting rural tourism and seed technology to improve yields, reports China Correspondent Aw Cheng Wei in the latest dispatch of Letter from the Bureau.