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Top Asian News 4:57 a.m. GMT

March 22, 2016 5:13 AM
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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's president-elect on Tuesday proposed an 18-member Cabinet that will include party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the former dissident who for decades had campaigned for a democratically elected government to replace the country's military junta. President-elect Htin Kyaw submitted the list of the names to the parliament for formal approval. The Cabinet positions of the ministers will be decided later. Notable, and top on the list is Suu Kyi, who was not able to become president because of a constitutional block, even though she led her party to a landslide win in general elections last November.

BANGKOK (AP) — Dong Junming was detained several times in his Chinese homeland before he and his family fled to Bangkok in February 2015. A year later, he was preparing to make a more desperate journey to evade Chinese authorities who still felt dangerously close. In the months since he arrived in Thailand, dozens of Chinese asylum-seekers have been sent back home by Thai authorities. Other dissidents have simply disappeared from Thailand and Hong Kong before re-emerging in mainland Chinese custody. Beijing appears increasingly eager to snatch back countrymen who have attempted to escape its grasp. Dong is a practitioner of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China and whose members are persecuted there.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired five short-range projectiles into the sea on Monday, Seoul officials said, in a continuation of weapon launches it has carried out in apparent response to ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills it sees as a provocation. The projectiles launched from a site near the northeastern city of Hamhung flew about 200 kilometers (125 miles) before landing in waters off North Korea's east coast, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The South Korean military was attempting to determine whether the projectiles were missiles, artillery shells or rockets. The firings came three days after Seoul said North Korea launched its first medium-range ballistic missile into the sea since early 2014, ignoring U.N.

VRINDAVAN, India (AP) — Aruna Samaddar threw fistfuls of colored powder into the air. Blue and red and green, the cheerful colors settled on her white sari and all over other women nearby. In most of India, widows like Samaddar have no place in this joyful celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors. The country's millions of observant Hindu widows are expected to live out their days in quiet worship, dressed only in white. They are typically barred from all religious festivities because their very presence is considered inauspicious. So for Samaddar, Monday's celebration was a joy long denied. "I am so happy.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Britain's Prince Harry stayed at the village home of a former Nepalese Gurkha soldier who had served in the British army Monday as the prince continues his tour of the Himalayan nation. The prince flew to the Leurani village, northwest of the capital Kathmandu, Monday where he spend time with the villagers dancing and later feasting with the family of Mangali Tamang, 86-year-old widow of a former soldier. Villagers lined up the trail to the village offering flowers and cream-colored scarf which is offered to special guests. He stopped to visit two families who are building their homes after it was destroyed in last year's earthquake.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India has the world's highest number of people without access to clean water — imposing a major financial burden for some of the country's poorest people, according to a report released Tuesday. The international charity Water Aid says 75.8 million Indians — or 5 percent of the country's 1.25 billion population — are forced to either buy water at high rates or use supplies that are contaminated with sewage or chemicals. That accounts for more than a tenth of the 650 million people worldwide without clean water access — more any single country in Africa or in China, where 63 million have no access.

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's new parliament voted Monday to reduce the number of government ministries, with President-elect Htin Kyaw assuring lawmakers that no civil servants will lose their jobs and that the nation will save $4 million by getting rid of 15 ministers. The 611-3 vote by a joint session of parliament was the first legislative act by Aung San Suu Kyi's party, which came to power after a decades-long struggle for democracy followed by a historic landslide victory in the Nov. 8 general election. In his first speech to parliament since having his nomination confirmed last week, Htin Kyaw, who will formally take office on April 1, said that currently "a lot of different ministries scattered around" are doing duplicate work, and that he intends to combine them so their number will come down from 36 to 21.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister and the man he replaced clashed Tuesday in an indication that splits in the ruling party are still wide as the country heads into a possible early election in July. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Monday that he will call an early election on July 2 unless the Senate agrees to pass contentious legislation next month. The opposition argues that Turnbull had effectively kicked off a 15-week election campaign, with key senators talking down the prospects of legislation to create a construction industry watchdog getting majority support. Tony Abbott, the unpopular prime minister who was replaced by Turnbull in September after two years in power, claimed credit for the center-right government's main achievements.

SYDNEY (AP) — Police on Tuesday charged a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old school girl in Sydney with raising money for the Islamic State group. The pair were arrested in the western suburb of Guildford, New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said. They were to appear in a Sydney court on Tuesday charged with financing terrorism, an offense which carries a potential maximum 25 year prison sentence, she said. "There is a lot of work being done to identify particularly young people, particularly people who are of school age and who are getting involved in activities that they should not be getting involved in," Burn told reporters.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Tuesday reported the country's first case of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that has been linked to birth defects and other health issues. A 43-year-old man who recently returned from Brazil was diagnosed with the virus after suffering fever, muscle pain and rash, according to a statement from the state-run Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The tropical disease, which has become epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean, usually causes a mild illness. But the World Health Organization last month declared the explosive spread of Zika in the Americas to be a global emergency, due to its link to the spike in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads and the rise in a rare neurological syndrome that can cause paralysis and death.


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