Month in Brief

Prayut: death penalty must stay

Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted that the country must retain capital punishment in order to deal with severe crime and ensure national peace. He was responding to critics of the June 18 execution of a 26-year-old man convicted of murdering a love rival, a crime committed when he was 19. Gen. Prayut said the people of Thailand back the death penalty, though Amnesty International denounced Thailand for ‘putting itself out of step with the current global shift away from capital punishment’.

BJP withdraws from Kashmir alliance

India’s governing BJP has withdrawn from the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, where militant violence has intensified in recent months. Following an inconclusive election in 2014, the Hindu nationalist BJP entered into an unlikely alliance with a regional party to govern the state, where Indian forces have struggled to control an armed revolt for decades.

The BJP’s National General Secretary, Ram Madhav, said it had ‘become untenable’ for the party to continue in the alliance government in J & K.

Taliban chief ‘killed in drone strike’

The head of the Pakistan Taliban, most notorious for ordering the 2014 massacre at an army school in Peshawar and the failed assassination of schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai, is believed to have died in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan. According to Afghan officials, Mullah Fazlullah, one of the world’s most wanted militant leaders, was killed in the northeastern Kunar province. Besides terrorist acts, Fazlullah also led a campaign against a government polio vaccination programme, claiming it was a ‘conspiracy’ against Muslims.

UK banks should help fund BRI

The City of London Corporation says British banks should play a bigger role in financing China’s ambition to create a ‘modern Silk road’ trade corridor between East and West. Catherine McGuiness, the City’s policy chief, urged London to take the opportunity to become a ‘natural western hub’ for bankrolling China’s so-called ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, launched in 2013 by Chinese President Xi with the aim of extending the country’s sphere of influence by boosting trade links with countries throughout Asia and into Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Staged confession on Vietnam TV

An American student arrested in Vietnam for causing public disorder at violent demonstrations against proposed special economic zones has appeared on state television to apologise for breaking the law, promising to stay away from future rallies. William Nguyen, a postgraduate student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, was detained on June 10 in Ho Chi Minh City after attending the rally. Such ‘choreographed confessions’, common in Vietnam, cause concern among human rights groups.

Another quake rocks Japan

Osaka, Japan’s third most populous city, has been hit by a powerful earthquake that struck at the height of rush hour, killing four people, including a nine-year-old girl, and injuring hundreds more. Although buildings swayed and water churned from burst pipes after the quake, there was no significant destruction and the authorities did not issue tsunami warnings. However, commuters were stranded and tens of thousands were left without power.

Thuendrel: inter-faith chanting

Bhutan’s scenic capital, Thimphu, played host to a unique inter-faith chanting event on June 9. Part of the year-long celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India, the ‘Thuendrel’unified two diverse cultures and three different faiths. India’s Ambassador to Bhutan, Jaideep Sarkar, said such events ‘are important in today’s world to build mutual understanding and harmony among people of different faiths and persuasions’.

Busy doing nothing

A new global YouTube star has emerged. South Korean student Bot-No-Jaem became famous as a result of viral YouTube videos in which he does almost nothing in front of the camera, and all in total silence. Video highlights include him adjusting his spectacles, drinking from a mug and turning the pages of a book, as well as doing a silent gym workout. His videos have brought him primetime TV appearances and hordes of adoring fans.

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