April 2023

MONTH IN BRIEF

‘Seditious’ possession

Two men have been arrested in Hong Kong for owning books that authorities claim are ‘seditious’

Two men have been arrested in Hong Kong for owning books that authorities claim are ‘seditious’. The men are believed to be the first people detained for simply owning the books, following the arrest of the publishers last year. The books – part of a series called Yangcun –  tell the story of sheep trying to keep wolves from their village, which authorities have interpreted as an allusion to Hong Kong citizens aiming to keep out the Chinese government. Critics see the arrests as marking the deterioration of Hong Kong citizens’ rights, with Human Rights Watch calling them ‘shameful’.

Balochistan attack

Balochistan

A suicide bomber killed nine police officers and wounded 16 others in a March 6 attack on their truck in south-western Pakistan. The incident – in which the bomber, riding a motorbike, rammed the truck from behind – took place at Dhadar, the main town of Kachhi district, some 120km south-east of Quetta in Balochistan.Attacks have been on the rise in Pakistan since the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul in August 2021, emboldening militant groups along the border which have increasingly targeted security forces. 

Philippines water crisis

The Philippines is facing a water crisis, says the country’s President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, with some 11 million families lacking access to clean water as the dry season approaches.Speaking during the sixth Water Philippines Conference and Exposition in Manila, Marcos said the Philippines must tap modern water management technologies to address the problem. It is currently heavily reliant on underground aquifers and needs to improve its filtration systems to better manage surface water and give everyone access to potable water.

Gandhi guilty

A court in western India has found opposition leader Rahul Gandhi guilty of defamation for a speech he made during the country’s 2019 general election, in which he referred to thieves as having the surname Modi. Gandhi, who said in his court appearance that he had made the comment to highlight corruption and not against any community, was sentenced to a two-year jail term – suspended for 30 days – by the court in Surat, a city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

Rahul Gandhi guilty

Oz denies making Taiwan pledge

Australia ‘absolutely’ did not promise to support the United States in any military conflict over Taiwan in return for a deal to acquire American nuclear-powered attack submarines, Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles has insisted. Australia, Britain and the US unveiled the multi-decade AUKUS project in March, in which Canberra is buying the US Virginia-class military submarines, with Britain and Australia eventually producing and operating a new submarine class, SSN-AUKUS. Australia’s centre-left Labor government says the A$368bn deal is necessary, given China’s military build-up in the region. 

Berlin-Taipei accord

Taiwan and Germany have signed a scientific and technological cooperation arrangement in the education sector, witnessed in Taipei by Germany’s Minister for Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the first German minister to visit the island nation in 26 years, Stark-Watzinger called Taiwan ‘a highly esteemed collaborative partner of Germany’, adding thatbothnations ‘value democracy, transparency, openness, and freedom’. The newly signed cooperation agreement would, she hoped, help the two sides ‘pave the way for even broader cooperation in the future’.

aiwan and Germany have signed a scientific and technological cooperation

Oscar wins for India

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his pride and delight following two Oscar wins for the country on a historic night for Asian films. The spirited song-and-dance number ‘Naatu Naatu’ from Telugu-language film RRR was awarded the Oscar for best original song, beating competition from American superstars Lady Gaga and Rihanna. Another Indian production, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ – a story about an orphaned elephant calf – won the coveted statuette for best documentary short.

Jet-set pets

A video of a dog flying business class has gone viral, with Fifi, a miniature dachshund, seen snuggling under blankets on a flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul. The dog was said to be ‘calm and collected’ throughout the 11-hour flight, though some Instagram users were ruffled by what they considered to be an expenditure which could have been better usedto help people in need. There is, however, plenty of support for pets flying alongside their owners, as reports show that the booming pet travel sector, worth US$782.4m globally in 2021, is predicted to rise to US$1.3bn by 2031.