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A summit of hope for peace – Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A summit of hope for peace – Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore | The Thaiger

By Wasamon Audjarint and Supalak Gangjanakhundee

The leaders of the US and North Korea are now in Singapore for an unlikely but historic meetingExperts believe the Trump Kim meeting in Singapore tomorrow may see some commitment on denuclearising Korean peninsula.

A historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was expected to be a success, according to experts, as Kim was likely to offer a vague promise on denuclearisation when they meet in Singapore tomorrow, leaving tough negotiations over implementation for later.

“Kim’s most urgent need is to alleviate the threat of a US preventive military strike and to get at least some of the economic sanctions lifted,” Hawaii-based East West Centre’s senior fellow of research program Denney Roy told The Nation in an interview via e-mail.

North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests over the past few years have brought the secretive communist regime to the brink of a nuclear state, which has given it strong bargaining powers with Washington.

A summit with the US president is critical for the Pyongyang leader to make his regime secure. “He also wants to gain international prestige, establish a normal relationship with the US where he is treated as an equal, and make progress towards weakening the US-South Korea security cooperation,” Roy said.

Kim likely wants to get North Korea into a position where both Beijing and Washington are competing with each other to gain influence in Pyongyang by granting favours, he said. While denuclearisation is the ultimate goal to stabilise the Korean Peninsula, President Trump is likely to hold his cards close to his chest.

“I think that very quickly I’ll know whether or not something good is going to happen,” Trump told reporters in Quebec over the weekend. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has met Kim Jong-un twice, said earlier that the reclusive North Korean leader had indicated the regime was prepared to denuclearise.

The top US diplomat refrained from talking about the plan, saying the two leaders would discuss the issue during their summit. An expert on Korean affairs, Roy said the summit could be called a success if there were any commitment on denuclearisation, with the hard bargaining over implementation left for later negotiations. However the key to the success of the summit also depends on the diplomatic style and negotiating skills of the two leaders.

While Trump is unpredictable, Kim is virtually unknown. His first appearance in the diplomatic world was only when he was on camera with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom in late April.

“At that time, he managed to not look like a monster, which is not very difficult. We don’t know how he might perform one-on-one with Trump. I would expect he will be well-prepared and wily,” Roy said.

The success or failure of the Singapore summit would have implications for other countries in the region too. China, Japan and South Korea are also stakeholders in the peace and security in the Korean Peninsula. All of them have different interests and agendas in the summit, Roy said.

“So a result that is good for the US might not be so good for Japan, a result that is good for China might not be that good for the US, and so on.”

Southeast Asia, where the summit will take place, would also benefit from the historic meeting, Thammasat University political science expert Viboonpong Poonprasit said.

“While this summit would not follow the normal protocol with both leaders making on-the-scene talks, the outcome should be positive or neutral at the least and help guarantee more stability in the concerned regions,” he said.

“While Trump looks for denuclearisation of North Korea, Kim would wish for the US to phase out from the Korean Peninsula as well as reduce sanctions,” he said, adding, “Their efforts should at least maintain a peaceful atmosphere.”

Irrespective of the summit outcome, Thailand’s situation would not change as far as abiding with international orders, including economic sanctions regarding North Korea, is concerned, he said.

“Our decreased economic ties with Pyongyang, which is not economically significant, has been to keep the status quo with the international community. I see no need to be eager to change that,” he added. Trump indicated that Pyongyang would be rewarded with economic assistance if the regime complied with the denuclearisation programme and Washington expected that developed economies in the peninsula would actively participate.

State Secretary Pompeo said economic assistance and North Korea’s denuclearisation are “incredibly linked”

“For North Korea to have the security assurances it needs, it needs to know that it has an economic – economically viable path forward. It has to know that its people can eat and that they can have the wealth that the North Korean people so richly deserve,” he said. “So, these are very closely linked issues; it’s difficult to separate them out.

And so not only Japan, but South Korea, China – I imagine many nations will want to participate in the North Korean economy if we are successful in Singapore,” Pompeo said in an interview with NHK last week.

STORY: The Nation

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Expats

Thailand’s immigration police catch thousands of overstayers thanks to airport biometrics

May Taylor

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Thailand’s immigration police catch thousands of overstayers thanks to airport biometrics | The Thaiger

The chief of Thailand’s immigration police says the biometrics system in place at sixteen airports across the country has so far netted 1,000 people who are blacklisted or on watch lists, 700 who have arrest warrants out for them, and 45,000 who have overstayed in the country.

The Nation reports that the system is also used to detect fake passports as it uses UV and infrared light to compare the information stored in a chip in the passport with facial features.

It’s understood that in just three days, police were able to arrest 8,000 people for being in possession of fake passports, illegal immigration, overstaying their visas or criminals with arrest warrants out for their capture.

The notorious fake billionaire who married in a lavish ceremony costing over 3.5 million baht and then left his wife to pick up the tab, was recently arrested at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport after being caught by the biometrics system. See story HERE.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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ASEAN

Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations

May Taylor

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Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations | The Thaiger

The President of Thai Airways International says the airline is set to cancel six flight routes to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

The Nation reports that Sumeth Damrongchaitham says the routes in question are all from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Yangon.

“These routes are all covered by a small number of flights and have low customer capacity. Once the cancellation plan is finalised, THAI will assign Thai Smile Airways to cover these routes instead.”

Sumeth cites increased competition as the reason behind the decision and the difficulties presented by rival airlines slashing prices to remain ahead of competitors.

“THAI needs to adjust our strategies too to preserve our reservation rate. We will focus on rolling out promotional campaigns until year end. However, next year’s strategy remains to be seen. Our prices this year have been reduced to a record low and if this strategy doesn’t work, we may take a different direction, such as seeking more partners for organisation tickets, increasing online channels, or giving privileges to frequent fliers.”

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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