South Korea president impeached
The National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to impeach South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye after weeks of public protests at her administration’s involvement in a corruption scandal. The Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, took over as interim president while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold Park’s removal. If it does so within six months, or Park quits, new elections would be held.
Thailand’s Crown Prince takes throne
Thailand’s new king, Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, succeeded his long-lived father, ending 50 days of uncertainty during which Prem Tinsulanonda, a 96-year-old former prime minister, served as regent. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October after seven decades on the throne, was the world’s longest-reigning monarch. His son, who will be known as Rama X, will mark his succession by giving pardons or reduced sentences to up to 150,000 prison inmates.
‘Child labour’ in palm oil industry
Children as young as eight work in hazardous conditions in Indonesia to produce palm oil found in many household products, including ice cream, toothpaste and cosmetics, Amnesty International alleged. The human rights group, investigating plantations in Kalimantan and Sumatra, said some of the children had dropped out of school to help their parents, and were working without safety equipment in areas exposed to pesticides.
Mosque drops ban on women
The famous Haji Ali Dargah mosque, on an island off Mumbai, dropped a ban on women entering its inner sanctum after a court battle. Women were barred five years ago from the 15th-century mausoleum, commemorating a wealthy Muslim who gave up his money and made a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Mumbai landmark attracts thousands of visitors a week, including Hindus and tourists as well as Muslims.
Earthquake revives old fears
An earthquake of 6.5 magnitude killed over 100 people in Aceh, Indonesia’s northernmost province, reawakening the trauma of the quake that struck the same area of Sumatra in December 2004. It took more than 120,000 lives in Aceh, and triggered a tsunami that killed tens of thousands more around the Indian Ocean. The latest tremor damaged or destroyed over 11,000 buildings and left more than 45,000 people homeless.
Cliff children get new ladder
Children in China’s Sichuan province who had to climb an 800-metre cliff to get to and from school have been given a new steel ladder with handrails after their plight was publicised. Members of the minority Yi people, they live in a clifftop village with no room for a school. It used to take them two hours to climb up a series of bamboo ladders, but the steel replacement has halved the time.
No coins by 2020
Moving towards a cashless society, South Korea’s central bank wants to abolish coins by 2020. The country’s highest-value coin is worth less than 50 US cents, and the central bank is urging citizens to transfer their loose change on to electronic payment cards. Paper money, meanwhile, is used for only a fifth of transactions, one of the lowest rates in the world.
Swap driving for noodles
Elderly drivers in Japan’s Aichi prefecture are being offered cheaper fast food if they agree to give up their licences. Accidents caused by older drivers are an increasing problem in an ageing nation where 4.8 million people aged 75 or older have a licence. Accident rates are rising among this group, while declining overall. Those who stop driving are given discounts at a popular restaurant chain selling ramen noodles, a staple dish.