May 2024

MONTH IN BRIEF

Diplomatic move to host unity talks

China plans to host Palestinian unity talks between Islamist militant group Hamas and its rival Fatah, the two groups and a Beijing-based diplomat said on April 26. Fighters from Hamas, which controls Gaza, stormed into Israeli towns on Oct. 7 last year, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages. Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas in an onslaught that has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians. Fatah is the movement of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Billion-dollar Bills

US$8 billion under one Bill would be used to counter China, which claims Taiwan

Taiwan will work with the United States to ‘safeguard peace and freedom’ in the region, the island’s premier said on April 22, after Washington approved billions in military aid for Taipei in the face of an increasingly assertive China.The US House of Representatives has passed four Bills in a US$95 billion package, approving military aid to Ukraine and bolstering Israel’s defences.Some US$8 billion under one Bill would be used to counter China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to bring the democratic island under its control.

Win for Maldives’ pro-China party

Maldives’ pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu’s party has won control of Parliament in an election landslide

The Maldives’ pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu’s party has won control of Parliament in an election landslide on April 21, results showed, with voters backing his tilt towards Beijing and away from regional powerhouse and traditional benefactor India. Dr Muizzu’s People’s National Congress (PNC) secured more than two-thirds in the 93-member Parliament, according to provisional results from the Elections Commission of the Maldives.

In memory of Bondi victims

Crowds assembled at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on April 21 for a candlelight gathering

Crowds assembled at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on April 21 for a candlelight gathering in memory of the six people killed by a knife-wielding assailant at a nearby shopping mall. Several hundred people sat on the grass in a beachside park to grieve for the five women and a Pakistani male security guard who died in the April 13 attack by 40-year-old Joel Cauchi at the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping complex. Cauchi, who suffered from schizophrenia, was later shot dead by police inspector Amy Scott, who attended the service. The killings have had a deep impact on many Australians, for whom such violent crime is a relatively rare occurrence.

Phoney pilot nabbed in Delhi

Police in India have arrested a man at the New Delhi international airport for impersonating a Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot

Police in India have arrested a man at the New Delhi international airport for impersonating a Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilot, after he was found walking around the airport dressed in full pilot uniform.Sangeet Singh, 24, was spotted by security officials wearing a navy pilot’s uniform and with a fake SIA ID card around his neck, which gave him access to in-flight operations. Upon questioning and inspection by officials from the Central Industrial Security Force, a federal agency, Singh’s ID was found to be bogus.He had made it with an online app, Business Card Maker, and bought the uniform from Pilot 18, an aviation accessories store in Delhi.

Fierce rains sweep China

The Chinese authorities remain on high alert for worsening weather, after four people died and ten others went missing following heavy rain in parts of southern China. Guangdong province – China’s densely populated manufacturing powerhouse – has been the worst hit by the rain, which arrived unexpectedly early in 2024, on the weekend of 20/21 April. Cities along the Beijiang – a tributary of the Pearl River – such as Shaoguan, Yingde and Qingyuan, have reported landslides, flooding and evacuations.

 

Fierce rains sweep China

Rebirth of Islamabad’s ‘horror zoo’

Islamabad Zoo, forced to close four years ago over its ‘intolerable’ treatment of animals

Islamabad Zoo, forced to close four years ago over its ‘intolerable’ treatment of animals, has reopened as a rehabilitation centre for Pakistani wildlife, providing a refuge for orphaned leopard cubs, tigers seized from owners who kept them as status symbols, and bears forced to dance for the amusement of crowds.The zoo gained international notoriety in 2016 when American singer Cher launched a campaign to remove its shackled Asian elephant Kaavan, the last in Pakistan and dubbed the ‘world’s loneliest elephant’. Today, Ms Rina Saeed, head of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, said, ‘The whole energy of the place has changed ever since the zoo was emptied… The care shows.’

Japan’s ‘trans’ hippo

A 12-year-old hippopotamus at the Osaka Tennoji Zoo in Tennoji ward, Osaka, long believed to be male, has turned out to be a female. Gen-chan, born in March 2012, arrived from a zoo in Mexico in 2017 at the age of five. Mexican zoo staff said Gen-chan’s sex was male, and the documents required for importation reflected this. However,Tennoji zookeepers had wondered why Gen-chan did not display typical male behaviours, and a DNA analysis from an external research organisation in April subsequently confirmed that Gen-chan was, in fact, female.

 

12-year-old hippopotamus at the Osaka Tennoji Zoo in Tennoji ward