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Protest at London’s Dorchester Hotel as international protests against Brunei ramp up

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Protest at London’s Dorchester Hotel as international protests against Brunei ramp up | The Thaiger

Anti-discrimination demonstrators staged a protest outside the Brunei-owned luxury Dorchester Hotel in London yesterday. The protest is part of ongoing protests around the world over the tiny South East Asian Sultanate of Brunei’s adoption of harsh new Sharia laws. The new laws include death by stoning for gay sex and amputation of hands for theft.

The Dorchester Hotel is majority owned by the tiny nation situated on Borneo Island.

The London protests were headed up by human rights activist Peter Tatchell, where up to 100 people gathered outside the famous Park Lane hotel, many armed with rainbow flags demanding a revocation of the new draconian laws.

A tough penal code in the tiny country, ruled as a monarchy by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, came into force last Wednesday after several years slowly ramping up Shariah law in the Sultanate.

It has sparked a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities and rights groups, with actor George Clooney, pop star Elton John and TV host Ellen Degeneres, among others, calling for Brunei-owned hotels to be boycotted around the world.

“If the Sultan will not listen to reason and compassion we believe the British government should sever all diplomatic, economic and military ties with the regime,” said Tatchell.

Brunei is part of the wider British Commonwealth but the historic bloc of British colonies has so far resisted calls for a stronger response over the penal code, including expelling Brunei from the Commonwealth.

Brunei is also part of the ten ASEAN-country trading bloc. ASEAN leadership, at this stage, has been silent on the implantation of Sharia Law.

Meanwhile, the University of Oxford says it will reconsider its decision to award an honorary degree to the Sultan. A statement says the University shares the “international revulsion” of the laws and that the decision to confer the honorary degree of civil law by diploma to Bolkiah in 1993 would be reconsidered.

Deutsche Bank has removed the Brunei-owned Dorchester Collection group from the list of hotels its employees use and Virgin Airlines Australia said its staff would no longer travel on the Brunei state-weened airline and would consider its current code-share agreement with the airline.



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Southeast Asia

LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings

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LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings | The Thaiger

A wave of explosions rocked Sri Lanka up-scale hotels and churches on Easter Sunday around the capital Colombo. This is what we know…

• At least 215 people have been confirmed dead with up to 450 more injured in a series of bombings targeting churches holding Easter services and hotels in Sri Lanka. The toll is likely to rise during today or at least become more precise as officials tally information from emergency responders.

• Most of the dead are said to be Sri Lankans, but officials say up to 40 foreigners have lost their lives.

• Three UK nationals and two US-UK dual nationals were among the dead. One Dutch, one Chinese, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals have been killed, their respective foreign ministries have confirmed.

• There were six initial blasts, at three hotels and three churches, before two more explosions some time later, at a guest house and housing scheme, with two people reported to have been killed at the former. A government minister says the last two blasts appeared to have been carried out by the culprits as they fled from police.

• No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lanka’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene claims the culprits have been identified and were religious extremists. He said suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.

• Eight people are reported to have been arrested so far.

• The Sri Lankan government has issued a curfew and shut down social media and messaging services to prevent the spread of disinformation.

• Sri Lanka’s PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has condemned the “cowardly” attacks and urged people to remain “united and strong”.

• The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called it “a very sad day” and is urging the government to identify the attackers and “punish them mercilessly because only animals can behave like that”.

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Southeast Asia

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet

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Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Japan Times

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ new 88-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet is testing the skies just as rivals Embraer and Bombardier are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats to Boeing and Airbus.

At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is US$135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development.

More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington.

With fewer seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 3,220 kilometres. The seating is 2+2 instead of 3+3 in a small Airbus or Boeing single-aisle jet.

After spending at least US$2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings.

Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now, the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.

Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac) has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.

“The aviation market in Asia is expected to grow further in the coming years and there will be demand for these aircraft,” said analyst Lee Dong-heon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

“The shift in the regional aviation segment we have seen over the last year or so has opened opportunities.”

“The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | News by The Thaiger

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North East

Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew

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Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew | The Thaiger

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is leading a delegation to officiate at the opening of a new rail service between Thailand and Cambodia at Klong Luek railway station in Sa Kaew province. The Thai government funded the maintenance and restoration of the two kilometre rail track between Klong Luek station and Poipet station in Cambodia.

Rail services between Thailand and Cambodia were suspended for decades due to strained relationships between the two countries since the Cold War era. Although the relationship is much better these days there was little interest in the restoration of the rail link as people in both countries tended to prefer travel by road.

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