Monday, 30 Mar 2020

Asian Insider Nov 13: Suicide bomber in Indonesia, Hong Kong shuts schools, James Soong shakes up Taiwan race

Hi, 

In today’s bulletin: Six people were injured in the Indonesian city of Medan when a “lone-wolf” attacker blew himself up at the police headquarters there; continued violence in Hong Kong has forced schools in the territory to be shuttered tomorrow; a pro-China candidate throws his hat into the ring for the Taiwanese presidential election, which isn’t a good thing for China; and more…

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SUICIDE BOMBING IN MEDAN

A 24-year-old suicide bomber walked into the compound of the police headquarters in Medan on Wednesday morning and blew himself up in the parking lot. The blast injured six – 5 police officers and a civilian – and killed the bomber. Police are still investigating the motive behind the bombing and no group has yet taken responsibility. An ISIS-inspired militant group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah is a prime suspect, given they have targeted police in attacks in recent years. The attack highlights Indonesia’s ongoing struggles with militants. The blast comes just a month after the country’s former security minister, Wiranto, was stabbed by a suspected militant.

Read more on other attacks on police:

2019: Indonesian police shoot suspected militant after officer slashed

2017: Police officer stabbed to death in Medan terror attack; 4 held

HONG KONG SHUTS SCHOOLS FOR THE FIRST TIME

Despite the months of unrest and chaos in Hong Kong, schools in the territory had always kept its doors open. Today, however, the Education Bureau took the unprecedented step of announcing that all schools – including kindergartens and special schools – would suspend lessons on Thursday. The move comes as demonstrations targeted at disruption brought the city to a standstill. Two MTR lines have been shut because of objects thrown onto the tracks while many roads were impassable due to debris and barricades.

Don’t miss:

Analysis from Hong Kong correspondent Claire Huang: Differing views of Hong Kong unrest as violence increases

‘Blossom everywhere’: Hong Kong protesters evolve tactics

Mainland students flee Hong Kong campus stand-off with China help

Hong Kongers recreate protests with homemade virtual video game

TAIWAN ELECTION UPDATE: IN BLOW TO CHINA, BEIJING-FRIENDLY POLITICIAN JOINS RACE

James Soong, a veteran China-friendly politician who opposes formal independence for Taiwan, announced today that he would contest the upcoming presidential election on Jan 11. But the move is unlikely to be welcomed in Beijing as it threatens to draw support away from Kuomintang’s Han Kuo-yu, who had been seen as Beijing’s preferred candidate.

See also: China’s shadow over Taiwan elections

AS US DEFENCE HEADS VISIT SOUTH KOREA, TALK FOCUSES ON HOW TO SPLIT THE BILL

A seemingly perennial bugbear of president Donald Trump – how much the US pays to station troops in South Korea – is once again in the spotlight as US military chiefs head to Seoul for the annual Military Committee Meeting. A South Korean lawmaker said last week that the US is demanding Seoul pay up to US$5 billion a year, more than five times what South Korea had agreed to pay. This constant harping on how the bill is split is now threatening to undermine South Korea’s confidence in its security alliance with the US. 

Read about another item on agenda for US:​ The Japan-South Korea row

WILL BOEING 737 MAX JETS FLY AGAIN?

Boeing expects to receive certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration next month, which would pave the way for the jets – grounded since two deadly crashes – to return to the skies in January. Even if US FAA certification is granted, there is no guarantee that other jurisdictions will follow the same timeline. The EU had earlier said it did not expect a resumption of MAX flights in the first quarter of next year. Positions of individual countries will also vary greatly. Indonesia has said it will not approve the return until all major global aviation regulators do so.

Read more:

Independent review of Boeing 737 Max finds design changes ‘safe’

SilkAir’s 737 Max aircraft in Australia to await return to the skies

IN OTHER NEWS

Venice flood: Venice was hit by the second highest tide recorded in the lagoon city on Tuesday, which flooded its historic basilica and left many of its squares and alleyways deep underwater. 

Australian bushfires: Authorities issued a “leave immediately” warning, the highest level, for several areas including Noosa, a popular beachside holiday destination 150km south of Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland.

Christchurch massacre: An inquiry into whether the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand could have been prevented has been extended by five months, the government said on Wednesday, with investigators overwhelmed with submissions.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.

– Jeremy

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