The DailyBrief

Monday August 7, 2017

Regional security talks: The latest round of Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meetings in Manila, which saw foreign ministers from 27 countries in attendance, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, produced rather mixed results, Richard Javad Heydarian writes. The agenda focused on two key regional security issues: North Korea and the South China Sea. The regional grouping sanctioned North Korea but punted on Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea.

First family feud: A Facebook post has landed a relative of Singapore’s prime minister in trouble, Kirsten Han writes. The attorney general’s office is seeking criminal contempt of court charges against Lee Hsien Loong’s nephew, Li Shengwu, for questions he raised about judicial independence. Li shared a link to a Wall Street Journal article summing up the high-profile row over social media that pitted his father and aunt against his uncle on his Facebook page last month. The post included a link to a 2010 New York Times op-ed on the use of lawsuits as a censorship tool in the city-state.

Cooperation on Pyongyang: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump agreed to apply maximum pressure and sanctions on North Korea in a telephone call on Monday, while China expressed hope that North and South Korea could resume contact soon, Christine Kim and Christian Shepherd write. The UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday aimed at pressuring Pyongyang to end its nuclear program. The sanctions could slash North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood following Pyongyang’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

Brutal mountain offensive: Hizbollah had killed more than 140 members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and others were begging for safe passage from Lebanon to Syria when a ceasefire went into effect on July 27, Melinda Boh writes. The talks were handled by Abbas Ibrahim, the director of General Security in Lebanon who negotiated the surrender and exodus of what remains of the fighters in the country.

Beloved national symbol: Once known as “the land of a million elephants,” Laos is rapidly selling the last of its great beasts to Chinese circuses, zoos and wildlife parks, Sami Moubayed writes. Laos now has less than a thousand of the great beasts as the landlocked communist country sacrifices its wildlife legacy for a growth-dominated economy. There are now thought to be only around 350 elephants remaining in the wild and approximately 400 domesticated jumbos living in rural villages, most former beasts of burden for the logging industry. Others live in sanctuaries, conservation areas or tourist camps.

Asia Times app: The Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that will deliver the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. Asia Times Staff report that the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.