Asia News In Brief

14:41' 26-06-2017
According to a report on obesity in ASEAN nations prepared by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Malaysia has the highest obesity rate in Southeast Asia. It indicated that the obesity rate in Malaysia was 13.3%, while the overweight rate stood at 38.5%.

    Global marvel:Sơn Đoòng, the largest cave in world, located Quang Binh Province.



    Vietnamese women granted refugee status

    Two Vietnamese women who fled Vietnam in January, after living in constant fear of a harsh jail sentence, have been granted refugee status.

    Mother-of-four Tran Thi Thanh Loan and mother-of-three Tran Thi Lua, in a group of 46, were forcibly returned by Australia to Vietnam two years ago. Tran's husband was jailed for organising the trip, but was released early this month.   

    They were picked up by Indonesian authorities after their boat broke down off the Java coast. Recently, officials from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees visited a group of 18 Vietnamese asylum seekers  in Jakarta to tell them they have been granted refugee status.

    According to Tran, her family left in 2015 because the state had seized their land, they had lost their livelihood due to Chinese invading their fishing grounds, and also because of discrimination against Catholics.

    Australia has continued to return Vietnamese intercepted in the Timor Sea. Last December, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton signed a formal agreement with Vietnam's public security minister, Lieutenant-General To Lam, to return “Vietnamese nationals with no legal right to enter or remain in Australia”.

    It is not yet known where the women will be resettled.


    Malaysia has highest obesity rate in SE Asia

    According to a report on obesity in ASEAN nations prepared by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Malaysia has the highest obesity rate in Southeast Asia. It indicated that the obesity rate in Malaysia was 13.3%, while the overweight rate stood at 38.5%.

    The report was based on surveys in six Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. 

    Obesity costs Malaysia between 4.26 billion MYR and 8.53 billion MYR (US%1-2 billion), equivalent to 10-19% of the country’s healthcare spending.

    There are many factors driving the high obesity rate, such as Malaysians’ love for fast food and their rich culinary culture. Moreover, Malaysians hardly consider obesity as a dangerous health problem.

    The obesity rates varied depending on ethnic, genetic, regional and economic differences, according to the report. The EIU emphasized that policy makers play an important role in  identifying at-risk communities to introduce policies and targeted interventions.

    E-visa applications from China and India increase

    There is a sharp increase in the number of Chinese and Indian tourists to Malaysia registering e-visa services, according to the New Straits Times.

    A total of 284,606 Chinese tourists applied for e-visas between March 2016 and April 2017, while Indian tourists’ e-visa applications rose from 36,442 in March 2017 to 69,635 in April 2017, up 91%, said Tourism Malaysia Chairman Siew Ka Wei.

    It is expected that the number of e-visa applications from the world’s two most populous markets will further rise as the country finalises policies related to multipurpose visas, enabling travellers to Malaysia to visit other nations inside and outside the Southeast Asian region.

    Regarding China and India as the important markets for its tourism sector, Malaysia has adopted a number of measures, including e-visa and special price treatment, to attract visitors from those markets.

    The Southeast Asian country is pursuing its aim of drawing 6 million Chinese and 1.5 million Indian tourists by 2020.


    Buddhist monk blocked from Facebook

    Buddhist monk Wirathu says he has been banned from using Facebook, because of the site's efforts to clamp down on hate speech, according to South China Morning Post.

    For years Wirathu has gained hundreds of thousands of online followers as he rails against the country’s Muslims, comparing them to dogs and accusing them of raping and killing Buddhists. His posts have have been blamed for stoking deadly sectarian violence, including riots in 2013 outside Mandalay which killed dozens of people.

    On Friday 9 June, he said he had been banned for 30 days for posting content not allowed by Facebook’s monitors. “I am not sure (if I can keep using my account),” he said, “as Facebook’s team is in the hands of Muslims.”

    A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


    Besieged city still occupied by militants      

    Marawi City, on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, remains in the hands of hundreds of Islamist militants. Most of the city's population of 200,000 have fled, but up to a hundred are trapped there, with some being used as human shields.

    The city has been in the control of the Maute group, a Muslim militant force, since May 23, when the militants killed and abducted Christians, and burned down St Mary's Cathedral. The Maute Group is believed to be associated with Islamic State, which has urged fighters who cannot reach Syria to join the jihad in the Philippines instead.

    On Monday 12 June, Philippines Independence Day, a flag-raising ceremony was held, while attack fighters bombed areas held by militant fighters.

    The Philippine military claims more than 200 people have been killed, including 24 civilians, 58 soldiers and police officers and at least 138 militants. The military has cleared most of the city, but militants remain in three central neighborhoods, mixed in with hundreds of civilians.

    Muslims make up only about 5% of the country’s population, but 20-40% of the population of  Mindanao.


    Australia to resume shrimp imports

    The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) has received a document from the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) affirming that Vietnam can fulfil all requirements in Australia’s new import conditions for processed shrimps.

    Vietnam’s Trade Office in Australia said that the DAWR has officially accepted Vietnam’s application to import raw shrimps caught in Australia for processing, and then re-exported to Australia.

    Australia’s Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON) updated the new requirements.

    In January DAWR imposed a ban on importing prawn and uncooked shelled shrimp from Asian nations, including Vietnam, in fear of white spot disease outbreaks in Australia. The ban came into force on January 9 and lasts for six months.

    Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has proposed Australia lift the ban soon and support Vietnam's fresh shrimp export as soon as possible.

    Quang Binh Cave Festival begins

    The World Records Union and the World Record Association have recognised Son Doong Cave in central Quang Binh province in Vietnam as the world’s largest and most beautiful natural cave.

    The title-granting ceremony took place two weeks ago as part of the Quang Binh Cave Festival 2017, themed “Cave Kingdom - Glamorous and Legendary”, at Bao Ninh Square in the province.

    The festival is held every two years to introduce and promote Quang Binh and its outstanding resources, with more than 300 alluring, unique and grand caves, with unique geology and rich biodiversity, as well as making Quang Binh’s tourism a spearhead industry of the locality.

    This year's Festival ran from June 17 to June 25. It featured a range of activities, including Quang Binh cave discovery, a parade, boat and kayak racing, sports contests and an EDM Beach Party.

    American fantasy movies Pan in Neverland and blockbuster Kong: Skull Island were filmed in the province.

    Phung Nguyen and Span Hanna




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Keywords: e-visa applicationsquang binh cave festivalshrimp imports

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