Regional Outlook, Global Perspective
MALAYSIA’S MAHATIR AIMS TO SCRAP CHINA DEALS

Malaysia is looking to cancel multibillion-dollar Chinese-backed infrastructure projects signed by the previous scandal-tainted government as it digs itself out of debt, Malaysia’s prime minister said Monday during an extensive interview with the Associated Press. Under Mahathir, China’s infrastructure project in Malaysia are under threat. The Prime Minister has halted projects, including the multibillion-dollar rail line that was supposed to connect Malaysia’s east coast to the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and Thailand. During the interview, the prime minister also expressed his wish to see the price of raw water sold by Malaysia to Singapore increase by more than 10 times. Singapore pays 3 Ringgit cent per 1,000 gallons of raw water from Johor and sells treated water at 50 sen per equal volume.

FORMER MALAYSIAN PM FILES APPEAL AGAINST GAG ORDER REFUSAL

Lawyers of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday filed a legal appeal against the High Court’s refusal to issue an order restraining the media and the public from publishing statements on the merits of his case, Channel News Asia reports. The Court has dismissed an application by Najib on Friday for a gag order on the media. In his decision, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said the application was unsustainable as there are existing laws available. Najib is facing charges on money laundering in connection with the multi-billion-dollar scandal involving 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The charges are connected to the transfer of RM42 million ($10.3 million) from SRC International, a 1MDB subsidiary, to Najib’s personal bank accounts.

US NAMES NEW AMBASSADOR TO CAMBODIA

US President Donald Trump has appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt, the Phnom Penh Post reports. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US State Department. Relations between Cambodia and the United States have hit their lowest in years after the arrest of a rival of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, Kem Sokha, and the dissolution of his opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). On February, The White House announced that the US is cutting aid to Cambodia because of “recent setbacks to democracy” in the Southeast Asian country.

PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE TO VISIT ISRAEL NEXT MONTH

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is to make an official visit to Israel next month, his government said on Monday, nearly two years after he sparked outrage by likening his deadly drug war to the Holocaust, Channel News Asia reports. Jewish leaders reacted angrily at Duterte’s comparisons. His comment – wrongly citing numbers killed by the Nazis – was inhumane and deeply offensive, they said. Duterte said he would kill as many addicts as Hitler did Jews in his crackdown on users and dealers. Several days later he apologized to Jews worldwide. He said his apology was intended only for Jews. However, he lashed out again at Western critics and human rights advocates who have raised concerns over his brutal crackdown on drugs in Philippines.

LIGHTS OUT FOR INDONESIA’S LRT JUST DAYS BEFORE ASIAN GAMES

Indonesia is investigating a series of malfunctions that have plagued its first light rapid transit (LRT) system, which is located in Palembang, just days ahead of the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, the Agence France-Presse reported on Monday, quoting the transportation ministry. Some 40,000 troops and police officers will be deployed in the capital Jakarta and Palembang in Sumatra, which are co-hosting the Aug 18 to Sep 2 Games. While Indonesia will host the Asian Games for the second time, after the Jakarta Asian Games in 1962, it is the first time that the games are being hosted by two cities together. The opening and closing ceremonies of the 18th Asian Games will be held at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in Jakarta.