Top Asian News 5:14 a.m. GMT
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Grade and high school students in the Philippines began classes at home Monday after the coronavirus pandemic forced remote-learning onto an educational system already struggling to fund schools. The shift to distance-learning has been a logistical nightmare for the poverty-stricken Southeast Asian country that has long lacked enough classrooms, teachers and educational equipment. Nearly 25 million students enrolled this year in mostly 47,000 public schools nationwide that would have to be replicated in homes and enlist the help of parents and guardians as co-teachers. A majority of families, especially from poor and rural communities, opted to use government-provided digital or printed learning materials or “modules,” which students would read at home with the guidance of their elders before carrying out specified activities.
NOUMEA, New Caledonia (AP) — A majority of voters in New Caledonia chose to remain part of France instead of backing independence in a referendum Sunday that led the French president to call for dialogue after a three-decade decolonization effort in the South Pacific archipelago. In a televised address from Paris, President Emmanuel Macron welcomed “an expression of confidence in the Republic with a deep feeling of gratitude... and modesty.” Macron promised pro-independence supporters “this is with you, all together, that we will build New Caledonia tomorrow” and called on New Caledonians to look to the future. “We are facing our history in New Caledonia, an colonial history,” Macron said.
PARIS (AP) — Kenzo Takada, the iconic French-Japanese fashion designer famed for his jungle-infused designs and free-spirited aesthetic that channeled global travel, has died. He was 81. The family said in a statement to French media Sunday that Takada died from complications from COVID-19 in a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. A public relations officer for Kenzo’s brand confirmed that Takada died, but didn’t give a cause of death. “It is with immense sadness that KENZO has learned of the passing of our founder,” the fashion house said in a statement. “For half a century, Mr. Takada has been an emblematic personality in the fashion industry — always infusing creativity and color into the world.” Takada’s death came at the tail end of Paris Fashion Week, whose nine-day calendar is undertaking an unusual fashion season for spring-summer 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s military said it killed two militants on Sunday in a shootout in the country’s northwest, a former militant stronghold. A third militant was arrested following the operation in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan district. The army statement said the militants had been involved in several attacks on civilians and security forces. This was the second such operation in North Waziristan in recent days. Two militants were killed by the army some 6 kilometers (4 miles) north of Mir Ali on Friday The mountainous areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan served as a base for the Pakistani Taliban and other militants until a few years ago, when the army said it cleared the region of insurgents.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese talent took home many of the top prizes Saturday at the island’s annual Golden Melody Awards, which attracts celebrities and musicians from across the Chinese-speaking world and is the regional equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Wu Qingfeng, a Taiwanese singer, won Best Male Vocalist in Mandarin for his first solo album “Spaceman.” Waa Wei, another Taiwanese singer, won Best Female Vocalist in Mandarin for her 2019 album “Hidden Not Forgotten.” She cried as she accepted her award, thanking her parents in “heaven.” Taiwanese singer Abao, who had eight nominations, won three awards for her album “Kinakaian (Mother Tongue),” including Album of the Year.
GAUHATI, India (AP) — Ramananda Sarkar never wanted to burn bodies for a living, but he was deep in debt and desperate for money. The 43-year-old had fled his remote village in India’s northeastern Assam state after failing to pay back a loan he’d taken to start selling sugarcane juice on a wooden cart. But even in the state capital, Sarkar had trouble finding enough work. Then two years ago Sarkar walked onto a cremation ground in Gauhati and took up the job of lighting the funeral pyres. While Hindu’s believe cremation rights are sacred and release the dead person’s soul from the cycle of rebirth, those who actually deal with corpses are looked down upon.
BANGKOK (AP) — The head of Thailand’s state zoological agency was shot dead Saturday as he was pursuing an investigation into the suspicious disappearance of rare animals from a zoo in a southern province. Police Capt. Komalpan Srithep said that Suriya Saengpong, the director-general of the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, was shot several times in the offices of the Songkhla Zoo. Srithep said the suspected gunman, a senior official at the zoo, fled the scene of the shooting and killed himself in his living quarters. The motive for the killings was not immediately clear, though Srithep said the suspected gunman was one of four senior zoo officials being investigated.
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Government investigators on Saturday exhumed the bodies of three young men in disputed Kashmir, two weeks after the Indian military in a rare admission said its soldiers exceeded their legal powers in killing the men they described as Pakistani terrorists. A team of police and medical officials exhumed the bodies of three men in western Baramulla district and handed them over to their families for burial at their remote village in southern Rajouri district, police said. Mohammed Yousuf, the father of one of the victims, said the three were “murdered in cold blood.” “Our sons have been proved innocent and we are now waiting for justice,” Yousuf said.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide truck bomb attack on Saturday killed at least 13 people in eastern Afghanistan, government officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian says that at least 38 people were wounded in the blast in Nangarhar province’s Ghanikhail district, when it hit near a mosque as locals were gathering for the afternoon prayers. Provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani says that several armed men after the explosion wanted to enter the provincial district buildings but the Afghan forces killed them before reaching the facility. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both Islamic State affiliates and Taliban are active in the area.
NEW DELHI (AP) — South Africa and India have asked the World Trade Organization to waive some provisions in the international agreements that regulate intellectual property rights, to speed up efforts to prevent, treat and contain the COVID-19 pandemic and make sure developing countries are not left behind. The countries argue, in a joint submission to the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights dated Friday, that without a rapid waiver of some existing safeguards for intellectual property rights, some countries — particularly developing ones that have been “disproportionately impacted” — would find it hard to access vaccines or medicines quickly.