Asia Briefs: UN chief to make historic visit to North Korea

UN chief to make historic visit to North Korea

SEOUL • United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon is set to be the first head of the world body to set foot in North Korea for more than 20 years, South Korea's Yonhap news agency has reported.

Citing an unidentified high-level UN source, Yonhap yesterday said Mr Ban would visit Pyongyang in his official capacity as secretary-general later this week, though no precise dates were given.

Yonhap said Mr Ban was almost certain to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - a meeting which, if it happens, would mark a major diplomatic opening by Pyongyang. Since taking over in 2011, Mr Kim has yet to receive a single head of state.


Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen names running mate

TAIPEI • The front runner for the 2016 Taiwan presidential election, opposition Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen, yesterday named the island's former health minister as her running mate.

Independent Chen Chien-jen was widely praised for leading the battle against the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

He served as an epidemiologist in universities in Taiwan and the United States for more than 25 years before joining the government in 2002.


Malaysian Parliament passes 2016 Budget

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's 2016 Budget was passed yesterday after a bloc vote was called by opposition MPs in Parliament.

However, the opposition failed to prevent its passage, with 128 votes cast for the Budget to proceed to the next stage and 74 votes against.


Penang politicans' allowances to go up

GEORGETOWN • All 40 assemblymen and women in Penang, including Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, will almost double their allowances next year to RM11,250 (S$3,650), from RM6,000, in amendments set to be passed this week.

State executive councillors will see their pay rise to RM 12,101.29, the New Straits Times also reported yesterday.

Another opposition-held state, Kelantan, raised salaries of their assemblymen this month, at a time when Malaysians are complaining about the high cost of living.

Communist Party sacks 2 after corruption probes

BEIJING • A deputy Communist Party boss in Beijing and the vice-mayor of Shanghai in charge of its experimental free trade zone have been sacked following corruption probes, state news agency Xinhua said.

Xinhua released the news yesterday in two separate brief reports on one of its official microblogs.

The Beijing official, Ms Lu Xiwen, and the Shanghai official, Mr Ai Baojun, were accused by the Communist Party last week of suspected "serious breaches of discipline", the usual euphemism for corruption.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Asia Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe