Top Asian News 1:41 a.m. GMT
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian police detained 12 activists and tightened security ahead of a rally Saturday by electoral reform group Bersih seeking Prime Minister Najib Razak’s resignation over a financial scandal. Police barricaded key roads in downtown Kuala Lumpur and put water-cannon trucks on standby, but it did not stop protesters who began trickling in. Some were chanting “Save Democracy” and “Bersih, Bersih”— which means “clean” in the Malay language. The protesters were gathering at several meeting points and plan to march on Independent Square, the main venue that was locked down. Bersih said on Twitter that police raided its office on Friday and detained its chairwoman Maria Chin and another official Mandeep Singh.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — For the fourth straight weekend, masses of South Koreans were expected to descend on major avenues in downtown Seoul demanding an end to the presidency of Park Geun-hye, who prosecutors plan to question soon over an explosive political scandal. Police expected about 50,000 protesters to turn out on Saturday near City Hall and a boulevard in front of an old palace gate, where hundreds of thousands a week before marched in what may have been the country’s largest demonstration since it shook off dictatorship three decades ago. Organizers anticipated a crowd as large as half a million.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Long-dead former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried Friday at the country’s Heroes’ Cemetery in a secrecy-shrouded ceremony, a move approved by President Rodrigo Duterte that infuriated supporters of the “people power” revolt that ousted Marcos three decades ago. Marcos’s daughter, Imee, expressed relief after her father’s interment at the heavily guarded cemetery in metropolitan Manila, which she said fulfilled his last wish. Enraged pro-democracy activists, however, stressed the decades-long debate over the ex-president’s final resting place was far from over and protested across the metropolis. Bonifacio Ilagan, a left-wing activist who was detained and tortured during Marcos’s rule, said the dictator was buried “like a thief in the night” in a stealthy fashion similar to when he suddenly placed the country under martial rule.
LIMA, Peru (AP) — An expected U.S. economic retreat from Latin America under Donald Trump is causing the region’s leaders to look halfway around the world, to China, for help weathering the possible financial headwinds. They’ll have the perfect opportunity to make their appeal this week when Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a Pacific Rim summit as part of a visit to Ecuador, Peru and Chile. This is Xi’s third time in Latin America since taking office in 2013, and when he wraps up the tour he will have visited 10 countries in the region — the same number as President Barack Obama, who has been in office twice as long.
LIMA, Peru (AP) — The U.S. presidential election is a sign of growing hostility to free trade that threatens the global economy, the president of Peru warned Friday as he opened an Asian-Pacific summit hosted by his nation. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski told delegates gathering in Lima for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum that global trade already stopped growing in the last two years and would get much worse if nations close off their economies. “It is fundamental that world trade grow again and that protectionism be defeated,” Kuczynski said. The Peruvian leader cited the U.S. election, though he did not specifically mention President-elect Donald Trump, who pledged to overhaul U.S.
Mexico isn’t throwing in the towel on free trade despite Donald Trump’s threats to break up NAFTA and abandon other multilateral trade deals. Mexican Finance Minister Idelfonso Fajardo said Friday that he met with officials from five other signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership — Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore — on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima, Peru. He says they agreed to forge ahead with the agreement regardless of what the new U.S. administration decides. It’s unclear if they’ll succeed. Under terms of the TPP agreement signed this year in New Zealand, the vast free trade agreement can only be implemented if it is ratified by at least six countries that account for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic production of the 12 TPP nations.
MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) — Shunned by Myanmar’s new government and its Buddhist hierarchy, a nationalist monk blamed for whipping up at times bloody anti-Muslim fervor said he feels vindicated by U.S. voters who elected Donald Trump to be president. Wirathu, a high-profile leader of the Myanmar Buddhist organization known as Ma Ba Tha, drew parallels between his views on Islam and those of the Republican president-elect. Trump’s campaign was rife with anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposals that included banning Muslims from entering the country and heightening surveillance of mosques. The form his actual policies will take remains unclear. “We were blamed by the world, but we are just protecting our people and country,” Wirathu said.
BANGKOK (AP) — Just weeks after Thailand’s military government imposed an unprecedented $1 billion fine against an ousted prime minister for her handling of an ill-fated rice subsidy program that racked up huge losses, the junta did something else extraordinary: It announced a major assistance plan of its own. The $1.5 billion effort, which helps struggling rice farmers in part by guaranteeing prices well above market rates, is ironic given its similarities to the larger subsidy program for which the junta has castigated ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra. But the current government may have had little choice but to act. Global prices for the grain have plummeted to their lowest in nearly a decade, severely weakening an industry crucial to Thailand’s economic well-being.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s royal palace says Queen Sirikit is being treated at a hospital for a high fever and lung infection a month after the death of her husband, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Sirikit, who has been staying at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, was transferred to Chulalongkorn Hospital, where specialists succeeded in bringing down the 84-year-old queen’s fever on Thursday, the palace said in a statement Friday. It said she was able to “breathe well and eat.” It said an X-ray revealed a lung infection for which she was being treated with antibiotics. The queen has been in poor health for years and is known to have suffered a stroke.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says a Taliban attack in the country’s western Farah province has killed at least eight police officers. Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesman for the provincial governor in Farah, says the attack happened around midnight on Thursday in the Bakwa district, when a police convoy came under attack. He says Taliban insurgents ambushed the convoy from different directions, killing the policemen. Mehri says the attack was repelled when reinforcement reached the scene. Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack in Farah. Ahmadi says Taliban fighters seized much weapons and ammunitions from the convoy they attacked.