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Mar 25, 2014

New-style Indonesian leader takes on world’s oldest profession

SURABAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) – She has revamped its parks, kickstarted its port development and given free health and education to its poor. But for Tri Rismaharini, the celebrated mayor of Indonesia’s second-largest city of Surabaya, one big challenge remains: shutting down Dolly.

That’s the name of a brothel complex established in the 1970s in what is now central Surabaya. Each of Dolly’s 60 or so brothels hosts up to 100 sex workers, according to Yayasan Abdi Asih, a local NGO. A thousand more women work at hundreds of smaller brothels in neighboring Jarak.

Mar 17, 2014

Despite scandal, Indonesia election could entrench political dynasties

MAKASSAR, Indonesia (Reuters) – Makassar is a scrappy, traffic-choked port city in South Sulawesi where everybody knows your name. If, that is, your name is Limpo.

The family of Syahrul Yasin Limpo, the second-term governor of this resource-rich Indonesian province, has dominated local politics for three generations, and a fourth waits in the wings. Eight of Limpo’s close relatives will run in the country’s parliamentary elections on April 9: two sisters, one brother, two brothers-in-law, two nephews and a daughter.

Mar 14, 2014

Suspected Uighurs rescued from Thai trafficking camp

- HAT YAI, Thailand, March 13 (Reuters) – About 200 people rescued by police from a human trafficking camp in southern Thailand are suspected Uighur Muslims from China’s troubled far-western region of Xinjiang, Thai police sources said on Friday.

The discovery is further evidence that human smugglers in southern Thailand – already a notorious trafficking hub for Rohingya boat people from Myanmar – are exploiting well-oiled networks to transport other nationalities in large numbers, despite an ongoing crackdown by Thai police.

Feb 13, 2014

Thai police target human traffickers but rescued Rohingya may face more abuse

SADAO, Thailand (Reuters) – Thai police have announced a new campaign against human traffickers, although the officer in charge said hundreds of recently rescued Rohingya boat people could end up back in the clutches of the regional smuggling networks they had escaped from.

After two raids last month freed a total of 636 people, mostly Rohingya, police said they planned to target the trafficking “kingpins” who routinely smuggle humans through southern Thailand to Malaysia with impunity.

Feb 2, 2014

Political paralysis looms as Thais start voting

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand went to the polls under heavy security on Sunday in an election that could push the divided country deeper into political turmoil and leave the winner paralyzed for months by street protests, legal challenges and legislative limbo.

The risk of bloodshed at the ballot remains high, a day after seven people were wounded by gunshots and explosions during a standoff between supporters and opponents of embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a north Bangkok stronghold of her Puea Thai Party.

Jan 31, 2014

Insight: How Thaksin’s meddling sparked a new Thai crisis for PM sister

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Yingluck Shinawatra’s journey from political nobody to prime minister was breathtakingly swift. Her premiership’s descent into crisis has been just as rapid.

A political neophyte when she took office in 2011, the 46-year-old former business executive surprised many observers by steadying Thailand after years of often bloody political unrest.

Jan 30, 2014

Insight: Thailand braces for violence as PM Yingluck’s charm runs out

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Six unmarked vehicles with pitch-black windows threaded quietly through Bangkok’s northern suburbs on a recent Thursday afternoon. Inside one sat the curiously unruffled figure at the heart of Thailand’s latest political maelstrom: caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Four months ago, police cars with wailing sirens would have whisked her through the city.

Jan 30, 2014

Thailand braces for violence as PM Yingluck’s charm runs out

BANGKOK, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Six unmarked vehicles with
pitch-black windows threaded quietly through Bangkok’s northern
suburbs on a recent Thursday afternoon. Inside one sat the
curiously unruffled figure at the heart of Thailand’s latest
political maelstrom: caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra.

Four months ago, police cars with wailing sirens would have
whisked her through the city.

Jan 27, 2014

Thai police rescue hundreds of Rohingya in raid on suspected traffickers’ camp

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai police have rescued hundreds of Rohingya Muslims from a remote camp in a raid prompted by a Reuters investigation into human trafficking, police officials said on Monday.

Police detained 531 men, women and children in Sunday’s raid at a camp near the town of Sadao in the southern province of Songkhla, on a well-established route for human smugglers near Thailand’s border with Malaysia. It was the first raid on illegal Rohingya smuggling camps since January 9, 2013.

Jan 16, 2014

Thai protesters target revenue offices, government awaits graft ruling

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Protesters in Thailand trying to force out the government marched on revenue offices on Thursday, but their numbers appeared to be dwindling and ministers said the movement could be running out of steam.

A state anti-corruption panel is due to give a ruling later in the day on a rice-buying scheme introduced to support farmers, a money-guzzling subsidy program that has been a lightning rod for government critics, and that could give new ammunition to opponents of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

    • About Andrew

      "I am Southeast Asia Special Correspondent for Reuters and winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. I have lived in and reported from Asia for 20 years. I am the author of The Trouser People, a political travelogue about Myanmar and football, and co-author of The Cult at the End of the World, about Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth Cult and high-tech terrorism."
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