Asia Briefs: Haze closes down 77 schools in Sabah

Haze closes down 77 schools in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU • A total of 77 schools in three districts in Sabah state will be closed today due to the haze.

While 53 of the schools are in Beaufort, where the Binsuluk forest fires were recently put out, another 10 schools in Papar and 14 schools in Kuala Penyu will also be closed.

Sabah Education Department acting director Maimunah Suhaibul said the schools would reopen tomorrow if weather conditions improve.

Approximately 20, 000 pupils will be affected by today's closure.

Air quality in the area was recorded at a very unhealthy 279 points on an index at 4pm yesterday.


Bookseller expresses relief on Facebook

HONG KONG • Mr Lee Bo, the bookseller whose recent disappearance sparked concerns he had been arrested over the smuggling and sale of banned books critical of China's leaders, has said he feels relieved for the first time in his life in a gushing Facebook post detailing his latest trip to the mainland.

The pro-Beijing Sing Tao Daily reported on Saturday night that Mr Lee took to social media after going to the southern mainland city of Xiamen, where he visited the graves of his ancestors ahead of the Qing Ming tomb-sweeping festival.

"I feel clear and relieved. I have never felt that ever in my life," Mr Lee, who returned to Hong Kong last month, said in the post according to the newspaper.

Taleban develops propaganda app

KABUL • Afghanistan's Taleban guerillas have developed an online application for Android smartphones, signalling that the militant group is becoming more adept at using Internet and wireless technologies to increase visibility.

The launch of the app was reported by the US-based Site Intel Group, which monitors extremist social media, on Friday. The Pashto-language app includes content such as official statements and videos from the Taleban, which has sought insurgency in the country for more than 14 years since it was ousted in 2001 with help from the US.


'Political' red bowls seized in Thailand

BANGKOK • The Thai authorities have confiscated some 8,000 red bowls bearing a message from ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, in the junta's latest attempt to block the resurgence of the political party it toppled.

The raids on Saturday followed the arrest last week of a woman seen posing with one of the bowls in photos on social media.

She has been charged with sedition, a move slammed by a rights group as absurd.

The plastic scoops, used for pouring water in Buddhist ceremonies during Thailand's upcoming new year, bear a note signed by Thaksin: "The situation may be hot, but brothers and sisters may gain coolness from the water inside this bucket."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2016, with the headline 'AsiaBriefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe