Hot Off The Press

These are the top stories making the front pages of major newspapers from across Southeast Asia today.

Get up to speed with what’s happening in the fastest growing region in the world. 

Stay informed with The ASEAN Post. 

Twin boys found dead in Upper Bukit Timah canal: Father charged with murder

The father of the 11-year-old twin boys who were found dead in a canal in Upper Bukit Timah has been charged with murder.

On Monday (Jan 24), Xavier Yap Jung Houn, 48, appeared before a district court via video link to have one charge read out to him.

He is accused of murdering Ethan Yap E Chern at the covered canal in Greenridge Crescent playground on Friday (Jan 21) between 4.23pm and 6.25pm. 

Yap wore a white polo shirt, a blue disposable mask and had his hair combed back as he listened to proceedings without expression.

The police prosecutor asked for Yap to be remanded for one week with permission to be taken out for investigations, including scene visits.

Only one charge was tendered in court on Monday morning.

The offence of murder carries the death penalty.

Yap's lawyer, Mr Anil Singh Sandhu, told the court the family was grieving the loss of the two young children.

He said: “The media is present this morning in court and the victims here are two young children aged 11. (Over) the past few days, the media has been quite active in reporting this matter, but I’m sincerely urging the media to give the family some space and privacy to deal with the loss of two young children.”

On Saturday, the police said it had received a call at about 6.25pm on Friday from a man asking for help at the playground.

When officers arrived, the man's two sons were found lying motionless nearby.

They were pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic. – Straits Times 

Zahid ordered to enter defence over corruption, CBT and money laundering charges 

Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been ordered to enter his defence against all 47 criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering charges involving funds from Yayasan Akalbudi, a charity foundation which he had set up.

High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the 68-year-old Umno President on all 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight corruption and 27 money laundering charges.

"After conducting maximum evaluation of the evidence I find the prosecution has proven all ingredients of the charges against the accused.

"I therefore order you to enter your defence against all the charges," he said. Earlier, Sequerah dismissed the defence's arguments that Zahid, who is also Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament, should be granted immunity from the charges.

Sequerah said he found no merit in granting immunity to Zahid against the charges as had been argued by the accused's lawyers.

He later told Zahid's lawyers to explain to their client the choices he had in entering his defence and Zahid immediately said he would be giving sworn testimony from the witness stand.

It was previously reported that Zahid's lawyers had argued that their client should be granted immunity as he had truthfully disclosed all information pertaining to the transactions involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds during investigations conducted by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).

However, this argument was rubbished by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran who described the defence's literal interpretation of the MACC Act as absurd.

Meanwhile, Zahid's lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik later asked for the court to fix Apr 26 onwards for Zahid to enter his defence.

He said the defence needed time to interview the 37 witnesses that had been offered by the prosecution.

"We will be unable to meet the original date of March 28 that has been fixed as we would need to interview the witnesses, check and vet everything.

"It would be best if we can start from Apr 26 onwards," he said, adding the defence expected to call about 20 witnesses to testify in Zahid's defence. – New Straits Times

Locals recall HM King fighting with troops

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) will upgrade Ban Mak Khaeng Thed Phrakiat Park in Loei to honour HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua on his 70th birthday this year.

The army will build a sculpture of the King, and open a museum to portray the historical moment when the King, who was Crown Prince at the time, fought alongside troops against communist rebels in Ban Mak Khaeng, said Lt Gen Chanvit Attatheerapong, director of the Army Tourism Promotion Agency (ATPA).

The army has surveyed the landscape of the park in preparation for major improvements on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King Rama X's 70th birthday on July 28.

The park was built by the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) of Loei to mark the battlefield in which His Majesty the King Rama X joined soldiers in fighting Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) insurgents in tambon Kok Sathon of Dan Sai district.

The period of the 1970s was the height of the Cold War, when communist revolutions toppled governments and monarchies in Laos and Cambodia and when relations between the Thai monarchy and military were reshaped by dramatic and rapid shifts in domestic politics. – Bangkok Post

PH, US troops to join 'Salaknib' exercises March 5-24

This year's "Salaknib" exercises between Filipino and American military units is slated March 5-24.

The participants are troops from the Philippine Army's (PA) 1st Brigade Combat Team, Training and Doctrine Command, Army Support Command, 51st Engineer Brigade, Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Army Artillery Regiment, Aviation Regiment, Armor Division, Light Reaction Regiment, Special Forces Regiment, and First Scout Ranger Regiment and their counterparts from United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC).

"Salaknib, which means shield in Ilocano, is a testament to our enduring ties with the US Army. It is anchored on the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty and has been ongoing since 2015," PA commander, Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in a statement Sunday.

"Salaknib" is an annual exercise sponsored by USARPAC and hosted by the PA. It aims to enhance the defense readiness of both Filipino and American troops by developing tactical interoperability and at the same time, showcase the US government’s resolve to fulfil its alliance obligations in the region. – Philippine News Agency

President praises the valuable contributions made by Overseas Vietnamese

Vietnamese communities abroad have made valuable contributions to the country, including the initial success of the vaccine diplomacy, said President Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the “Xuan Que Huong” (Homeland Spring) programme 2022.

The cultural and art festival held annually by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for overseas Vietnamese took place at the Hanoi Opera House on Saturday evening.

This year, nearly 60 intellectuals and entrepreneurs representing Vietnamese people from 23 countries and territories returned to Viet Nam for the programme.

President Phuc said that the Party and State always paid special attention to overseas Vietnamese affairs with the implementation of many important related policies. 

He appreciated the results of tasks relating to overseas Vietnamese affairs in 2021 such as allocating funds to support communities in many regions affected by COVID-19; supporting medical equipment and basic necessities for overseas Vietnamese in more than 20 countries and territories; and calling on medical experts to provide online consultancy for overseas Vietnamese infecting with COVID-19.

Particularly, nearly 600 flights were sourced, helping to repatriate over 120,000 people. – Vietnam News

End-emic is nigh: Cambodia ‘transiting from C-19 pandemic stage’

The Health Ministry is confident that Cambodia is now entering the endemic stage of the coronavirus after putting in place adequate measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Ministry spokesman Hok Kim Cheng said one reason for this is because the current Omicron variant is milder than the previous Alpha and Delta strains.

Kim Cheng said that with vast experiences in responding to Covid-19 and its variants, Cambodia is no longer bothered about the virus and its variant anymore as the people have strong protection which has paved the way for the reopening and socio-economic recovery for the country.

“We have noticed that Omicron patients are experiencing mild conditions with nothing serious noticeably affecting the people,” he said.

“The key two factors that Cambodia is heading towards an endemic stage is the high vaccination rate and the solid experiences gained from the previous outbreak and lockdowns will allow us to better deal with Omicron and other variants to come,” Kim Cheng added.

He noted that because of the high vaccination rate, those who are infected suffer milder symptoms and this reduces fatalities.

“With the solid experiences we gained, we can respond to the new variant of Covid-19 transmissibility just as the Prime Minister has advised,” he said.

Kim Cheng noted that the government has urged everybody to learn to adapt to the new normal and live with the virus, saying, “because of this we are on the journey towards the endemic stage’.

“However, it doesn’t mean we stop protecting ourselves. In order to head to the endemic stage, strict health measures are in place,” he said. – Khmer Times

NUG to report Myanmar military atrocities in Chin State to international courts 

Two ministers from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) said in a press conference on Thursday that their administration was gathering information on crimes committed by the junta in Chin State to submit to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

Dr Sasa, the Minister of International Cooperation, said that the NUG is working collaboratively on the process with the Independent Investigative Mechanism Myanmar (IIMM) to share their documentation with the courts.

“We are doing all of these procedures along with the IIMM. We are also going to submit the evidence gathered by us and the IIMM to not only the ICC and the ICJ but also to other places such as Brazil, Australia and Germany where we can get international jurisdiction,” he explained. 

Minister of Human Rights Aung Myo Min said that the violations would also be reported to the UN Security Council with the aim of convincing the body to approve sanctions on arms exports to the Myanmar junta. 

“The NUG is filing reports and trying to bring about stronger action [against the junta], such as preventing airstrikes and stopping the imports of weapons and airplane fuel,” he said. – Myanmar NOW

Epidemiologist cautions on potential third wave of COVID-19 cases

Griffith University Australia epidemiologist Dicky Budiman has cautioned on the potential third wave of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia.

"The potential of the third wave is very clear. This potential is related to the population that doesn't yet have immunity to the virus and those whose immunity has decreased," said Dicky Budiman when contacted by ANTARA here on Sunday.

Based on studies, a person's immunity against COVID-19 transmission will decrease five months after receiving a complete vaccination.

"Nothing lasts long, that's a fact. So, the potential spike in cases caused by Omicron is very clear. Meanwhile, the infection rate of this variant is also faster than the Delta (variant)," he said.

Hence, the government needs to increase testing and tracing to address the Omicron variant.

"This should not be ignored, because we will not be able to cut off the transmission if we do not carry out massive early detection. Stopping transmission needs to be done by finding cases of infection and their contact cases, so that people can undergo isolation or quarantine effectively," he explained. – AntaraNews.Com