International News
Five countries push for 50 million tourists by 2015
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 , Written by « Vientiane Times »   
Published: 17-Sep-13

Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ ANN) -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will work together to lift tourist arrivals across the five countries to 50 million by 2015 following a meeting in Vietnam last week.

The Lao delegation to the first Ayeyarwady–Chao Phraya–Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Tourism Ministerial Meeting in Ho Chi Minh City from September 10 to 12 was led by Information, Culture and Tourism Minister, Professor Dr Bosengkham Vongdara.
China and ASEAN Discuss South China Sea Code of Conduct
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 , Written by « William Ide »   
17 September 2013

BEIJING - In recent days representatives from China and ASEAN held long anticipated talks about a code of conduct for the South China Sea, but few details about what the meeting accomplished have been released.  China says participants agreed to discuss the process of creating a legally binding agreement for the area that is crisscrossed by territorial claims and rich in natural resources.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been trying for more than a decade to reach an agreement with China on a code of conduct in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Southeast Asia Governments Looking to Emulate China to Squelch Social Media Commentary
Monday, 16 September 2013 , Written by « Steve Herman »   

02 September 2013

BANGKOK — China's suppression of public comment on political and other topics on social media is well known. Some Southeast Asian nations appear to be moving to emulate China in this regard.

Warnings from authorities and new regulations in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam may have some users of social media thinking twice about what they post or even click "Like" on the popular Facebook site.

Thailand has 15 million Facebook users, more than one-fifth of the country's population. And an estimated 40 percent of Vietnamese are now on the internet, with the surge in smartphones. Social media sites such as Facebook and Zing Me each have an estimated 12 million users in Vietnam.


Thousands fall for Korean work scam
Monday, 09 September 2013 , Written by « Sen David »   
Mon, 9 September 2013

Alleged ringleaders of an overseas employment scam the Ministry of Labour says bilked thousands of clients out of money were charged with fraud in Phnom Penh on Friday.

Oun Sarath, 30, and Kim Sophat, 29, the director and marketing manager, respectively, of recruiting firm You Can Win Co Ltd, allegedly charged their clients $100 for forms the company advertised would permit them to legally work in South Korea, said Than Thavorak, an attorney representing the Ministry of Labour.

But the illegitimate forms the company sold were not authorised by the ministry, and provided clients no legal permission to work abroad.

“The Ministry of Labour did not approve the forms; it is illegal,” Thavorak said. “They cheated the residents who bought the forms.”

Representatives of You Can Win could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Officials from the Ministry of Labour began investigating the alleged scam in June, when You Can Win began advertising its service on Facebook, Thavorak said. Police had arrested Sarath and Sophat after Heng Sour, general director of the ministry’s overseas training unit, filed a complaint with Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

You Can Win is in the process of obtaining a license with the ministry to provide training for workers, but lacks any legal authority to approve Cambodians to work abroad, Thavorak said.

Lim Mony, a project manager for rights group Adhoc, was glad to hear of the arrests last week, as Adhoc had also received complaints about You Can Win, she said.

“They paid a lot of money to work in South Korea, but they were never permitted to work there,” Mony said.

Since the arrests, the ministry has advised victims to file complaints in order to receive compensation for bogus permits, Thavorak said, adding that authentic ones can be obtained through the ministry, Sarath and Sophat are both in custody and awaiting trial, according to Khieu Phalla, a deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Chinese Official, a Symbol of Greed and Corruption, Is Sentenced
Friday, 06 September 2013 , Written by « By NEIL GOUGH »   
September 5, 2013

Yang Dacai, a safety official branded "Brother Watch" by Chinese Internet users because of his expensive taste in timepieces, was sentenced on Thursday to 14 years in prison for graft.

HONG KONG — A court in northwest China sentenced a former provincial safety official on Thursday to 14 years in prison for graft, a year after he became a symbol of a callous and corrupt bureaucracy when Chinese Internet users circulated photographs suggesting he had been living beyond his means.

The Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court issued the sentence after convicting Yang Dacai, a former safety inspection official in Shaanxi Province, on charges of taking bribes and possessing assets of unclear origin, Chinese state-run news outlets reported Thursday morning. Phone calls to the court in Xi’an seeking confirmation of the sentence went unanswered Thursday.

Mr. Yang’s case is one of many in China in recent years to demonstrate how local officials can be held accountable to public opinion, as ordinary citizens frequently turn to microblog posts and other online social networks to vent complaints against rampant corruption or other abuses of power.

However, such complaints against senior or national-level officials remain taboo and are actively scoured from the Internet by government censors and employees of the companies that operate online forums.

At the same time, the Chinese government has started a nationwide campaign in recent weeks against the spreading of so-called online rumors. Celebrity bloggers have been told to be careful what they say in online comments, dozens of microbloggers have been arrested and several Web sites and other Internet companies have been shut down.

At his trial last month, Mr. Yang had pleaded guilty to charges of taking bribes worth 250,000 renminbi, or $41,000, and possessing 5 million renminbi, or more than $800,000, in funds of doubtful origin.

Chinese news reports over the past year have commonly referred to Mr. Yang as Brother Watch for his habit of wearing expensive wristwatches, which was first publicly exposed by Chinese Internet users in widely circulated microblog postings and eventually led to his downfall.

After a multivehicle pileup killed 36 people on a highway in Shaanxi on Aug. 26 of last year, news photos showed Mr. Yang at the scene of the accident with a smile clearly visible on his face.

Offended by what they saw as an inappropriate expression, some Chinese Internet users began a collective online campaign to dig up dirt on Mr. Yang, in what is referred to in China as a “human-flesh search engine.”

Internet users scrutinized photos of Mr. Yang attending public functions and soon discovered one showing him wearing an expensive watch. Other photos of Mr. Yang wearing different expensive watches quickly emerged and were widely circulated on the Internet.

The state-run news media then began to cover the story of Brother Watch. For example, a screenshot from a China Central Television news program that was circulated online shows Mr. Yang wearing flashy watches on 11 different occasions.

Provincial party officials in Shaanxi started an investigation. In February of this year, Mr. Yang was stripped of his posts for “serious disciplinary violations,” and his case was referred to prosecutors.

Footage broadcast Thursday morning on China Central Television showed a judge in the Xi’an court reading out the verdict. Mr. Yang stood facing the judge, wearing an orange defendant’s uniform and looking notably thinner than he had appeared in photos a year earlier. A faint smile was clearly visible on his face.

“History’s most unfortunate smile and costliest smile belongs to ‘Brother Watch’ Yang Dacai,” read one widely circulated posting on Thursday to Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform. “Given the sentence of 14 years, I reckon in the future officials will definitely popularize sullen faces.”

Chen Jiehao contributed research from Beijing.

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