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The Asian Reporter 20th Annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet -
Thursday, April 26, 2018 

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From The Asian Reporter, V28, #8 (April 16, 2018), page 2.

Woman mayor protests sumo sexism in off-ring speech

TOKYO (AP) — A woman mayor in western Japan has protested sumo’s male-only tradition in a speech she was forced to make outside of the ring — unlike her male counterparts who were allowed in. Takarazuka City mayor Tomoko Nakagawa said she is frustrated and pained by the sexist tradition. In sumo’s tradition, the ring is considered sacred and women are prohibited from entering. Sumo officials cited their male-only tradition when they rejected Nakagawa’s request to speak in the ring. The Japan Sumo Association also caused an uproar this month after asking women first responders to leave the ring while attempting to revive an official who collapsed at an event in Kyoto. They then apologized over the incident. Top government officials asked the association for flexibility.

Groups say Facebook hasn’t controlled hate speech

BANGKOK (AP) — Civil society and rights groups in Myanmar say Facebook has failed to adequately act against online hate speech that incites violence against the country’s Muslim minority. Phandeeyar, a digital innovation lab, and five other groups wrote an open letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, challenging his contention in a recent interview that the social-media platform had effectively combatted hate speech targeting the Rohingya community that’s being persecuted in western Myanmar. Htaike Htaike Aung, executive director of one of the groups, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization, says Facebook has been a useful tool for people in Myanmar to exercise freedom of expression, but it had failed to effectively enforce rules to make it a safe community for all.

Singapore court imposes hefty fines for Airbnb rentals

SINGAPORE (AP) — A court in Singapore has fined two men 60,000 Singapore dollars ($45,800) each for breaching laws banning short-term rentals by renting out condominiums through online services such as Airbnb, Craigslist, and HomeAway. Terence Tan En Wei and Yao Songlaing pleaded guilty at State Court in February to four charges of illegally renting out four units last year, in the first case of its kind in the Southeast Asian island nation. Defense lawyer Wong Soo Chih said prosecutors requested a fine of 20,000 Singapore dollars ($15,267) per charge, but the judge set it at 15,000 Singapore dollars ($11,450) per charge. Airbnb said in a statement after the sentencing that it will work with Singapore authorities to allow the fair use of home sharing.

Indonesia’s Aceh to take caning indoors after backlash

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province says it will no longer allow canings for violations of Shariah law to be carried out in public, apparently in response to international condemnation of the caning last year of two men for gay sex. A memorandum of understanding signed by Aceh Gov. Irwandi Yusuf and Yuspahruddin, head of the provincial Law and Human Rights office, stipulates that caning can only take place inside prisons or other places of detention. It says adults can still witness the punishment, but the numbers will be much smaller than the hundreds who regularly cheered the outdoor proceedings. Hundreds of people have been publicly caned since it was introduced as a punishment in Aceh in 2005. Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia that practices Shariah law.

Thais help boat with presumed Rohingya refugees

BANGKOK (AP) — A boat with 56 people claiming to be Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar was helped back to sea by Thai fishermen and navy craft after being damaged in a storm and stopping temporarily in southern Thailand. An official in Thailand’s Krabi province said those aboard were seeking to go to Malaysia when their boat was damaged. He said Thai villagers supplied them with food and fuel before sending them on their way. Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, flee by sea by the thousands each year. The numbers peaked in 2015, sparking a crackdown on their escape route. About 700,000 have fled western Myanmar.

43 Cambodians convicted of felonies repatriated from U.S.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Forty-three Cambodians arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, after being deported from the United States under a law allowing the repatriation of immigrants who have committed felony crimes and have not become U.S. citizens. The group is the largest to be sent to Cambodia under a 2002 bilateral agreement. More than 500 other Cambodians have already been repatriated. The program is controversial because it breaks up families, and in some cases, the returnees have never lived in Cambodia, having been the children of refugees who fled to camps in Thailand to escape the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Critics of the deportation policy say many of those convicted fell into crime as a result of social dislocation. The returnees are seen as having difficulty reintegrating into Cambodian society because many have spent most of their lives in the United States. Two Cambodian ex-convicts on March 30 received pardons from California governor Jerry Brown, at least temporarily removing the risk they might be deported. Gen. Dim Ra, a senior immigration police officer overseeing the returnees, said the group that arrived included three women. He said any returnees who still have family members in Cambodia will live with their relatives, and those who do not will receive vocational training by a private group funded by the U.S. government before being integrated into Cambodian society. The deportation policy has hurt already cool relations between Cambodia and the United States.

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