RFA in the News (January 2016)



Jan. 29 “Bombing in Central Laos Kills 2 From China

Two people from China were killed and a third was wounded by a recent bomb blast near a military camp in Laos, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, state news reports and an article by Radio Free Asia. The explosion took place in the mountainous Xaysomboun Province in central Laos on Sunday, although details of the attack were slow to trickle. The men were in a truck when a bomb exploded nearby.


Jan. 29 “Lack Of Election Complaints Smoothes NLD Transition

The Union Election Commission has told the Minister for Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, U Ohn Myint, to withdraw a complaint against the National League for Democracy candidate who defeated him in the November 8 election.… In an interview with Radio Free Asia last week on the sidelines of the Union Peace Conference in Nay Pyi Taw, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said “the real peace conference” would need to be organised by the next government.


Jan. 25 “Leadership Change in Laos: A Shift Away From China?

The leadership of Laos’ communist party and government has been replaced with a fresh slate, ending a five year-rule by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong who was dogged by allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement and criticism that he was leaning too heavily on China. … Acccording toRadio Free Asia (RFA) report, the former minister of finance Phouphet Khamphounvong and the central bank governor Somphao Sayasith have been arrested for corruption.


Jan. 25 “Cold wave hits Korea, strands tourists on Jeju

The southern resort island of Jeju was cut off by snow over the weekend in Korea’s coldest weather in more than a decade. … North Korea reportedly withdrew 40,000 workers from construction sites, according to Radio Free Asia


Jan. 22 “Activist in China’s Troubled Xinjiang Region Is Handed 19 Years in Jail

China has handed prison sentences totaling more than 19 years to an activist in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, the home of the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic group. Zhang Haitao, who is himself Han Chinese, was given 15 years for “incitement to subvert state power” and a shorter term for “providing intelligence overseas,” Radio Free Asia reports.


Jan. 22 “Tor Project raises over $200,000 in attempt to ‘diversify’ its funding

As a result of its recent crowdfunding campaign, the Tor Project announced Thursday that it had raised over $200,000 from more than 5,000 individuals over nearly two months. The organization also released its 2014 Form 990, the financial document that all nonprofits must file with the IRS. As of 2014, the organization took in about $2.5 million annually, roughly 75 percent of that coming from grants from US government institutions such as Radio Free Asia and the State Department.


Jan. 19 “Special report: Hunting for jade in a corner of hell

From the dispassionate eye of a satellite in space, the area around Hpakant, a town in Myanmar's Kachin state, looks like a dry brown moonscape in a sea of green. … On Nov 26, just days after the deadly disaster that killed 114, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi told Radio Free Asia's Myanmar service: "This sort of accident is common just because there is no rule of law. It also reflects lack of due consideration for the safety of people's lives and property."


Jan. 18 “Peace Conference Closes With Promise of Prompt Restart

A five-day Union Peace Conference concluded in Naypyidaw on Saturday, as participants representing ethnic armed groups, the government and the Burma Army agreed to a set time-frame for political dialogue. … In an interview with Radio Free Asia aired last Wednesday, Suu Kyi downplayed the conference as an effort to legitimize the ceasefire agreement reached in October, which the government refers to as “nationwide” despite its exclusion of a number of major non-state armed groups. …


Jan. 16 “A Kim in his counting house

A powerful army usually depends on a strong economy. Not in North Korea. Per head, the country has more soldiers than any other: 1.2m out of a population of 25m. As well as a huge conventional arsenal, it also has a dozen nuclear warheads and spends perhaps $3 billion a year on a nuclear programme that involves rocket launches and nuclear tests—the latest took place last week, the fourth since 2006. Yet the performance of the economy over the past four decades has been little sprightlier than that of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, since he was embalmed in 1994. … Yet local officials are not distributing the promised shares, perhaps to make up a shortfall at co-operatives, according to a report byRadio Free Asia.


Jan. 15 “Myanmar ethnic leader calls on Suu Kyi to clarify stance on peace process

A key signatory to a ceasefire brokered by outgoing President Thein Sein with some of Myanmar's ethnic armed groups has expressed concern over lack of clarity from Aung San Suu Kyi and called on her to keep the team that struck the deal intact. … After spurning peace efforts undertaken by the quasi-civilian government of Thein Sein that took power in 2011, Suu Kyi spoke on Monday of a more inclusive process but was highly critical of Thein Sein's efforts during an interview with Radio Free Asia broadcast on Friday.


Jan. 14 “Heavy-Lifting on Peace Process Is Yet to Come: Suu Kyi

As the five-day Union Peace Conference continued in Naypyidaw this week, Aung San Suu Kyi said the event was held only to “legitimize” a so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement signed in October between eight of more than 20 non-state armed groups and the outgoing government of President Thein Sein. “What I understand is that this peace conference is something to legitimize what they have done with regard to the NCA [nationwide ceasefire agreement]. The new government will have to carry out a genuine peace conference. How can you end a peace conference in five days?” the National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman told Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a story published on Wednesday.


Jan. 13 “Power schism in Pyongyang pits insiders versus outsiders

A power struggle has erupted within North Korea’s elite, a Washington-based media outlet reported Tuesday. A report by Radio Free Asia said that the struggle is between North Korean officials who have led careers inside the country and officials of the foreign ministry or others who were stationed overseas. 


Jan. 11 “In private, N. Koreans show mixed reactions to N-test

North Korea has been in a festive mood, holding public rallies in major cities, since the isolationist regime conducted its fourth nuclear test last Thursday, a foreign envoy in Pyongyang said Saturday.  … According to Radio Free Asia, however, North Korean citizens are showing mixed reactions to the latest test. 


Jan. 11 “Than Shwe has no influence over political transition

Presidential spokesperson Ye Htut on Thursday played down the significance of a recent meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and former junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe, stressing the latter had no influence over government policy. … While few details have emerged, Suu Kyi told Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service on Wednesday that the dialogue was significant for the country, without elaborating.


Jan. 10 “Myanmar Government Speeds Through Contracts, Legislation

The military-linked government here, in its final weeks in power, is passing legislation that benefits departing lawmakers and awarding large business contracts, including one to a Chinese-led group to build a sea port. … In a Dec. 31 interview with Radio Free Asia, Ms. Suu Kyi said lawmakers from her party will donate their pensions to charity.


Jan. 8 “Chinese authorities warned a Tibetan monk about publishing a book about India

The Chinese authorities have arrested a Tibetan monk and warned him against publishing a book which is about his travels in India reports Phayul.com on Jan. 6, 2016. … Radio Free Asia reports that Konchok was warned by the Chinese authorities that he would be arrested again if he moves forward with plans to distribute his very politically sensitive book.


Jan. 8 “World sets out to detect traces of radioactive gases

South Korea, the U.S., Japan and other countries and organizations are spurring efforts to discover traces of radioactive materials released during North Korea’s recent nuclear test to better decipher the event and ratchet up pressure on the wayward regime. … With the monitoring activities taking place around the globe, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which runs 337 facilities worldwide, said it may be able to gather proof at two stations in Takasaki in central Japan and the U.S.-administered Midway Island in the North Pacific Ocean. “The earliest we expect results would be tomorrow morning,” Elisabeth Wachter, a spokesperson of the Vienna-headquartered institution’s preparatory commission, was quoted as saying Thursday by Radio Free Asia


Jan. 7 “Let's Use What North Korea Is Most Afraid of: Ideological Warfare

North Korea claims to have successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb. While analysts and scientists test the validity of its claim, what we know for sure is this is North Korea's fourth nuclear test -- the third during President Obama's administration. … Despite these draconian measures, a quiet information revolution is taking place inside North Korea. Between second-hand Chinese radios and do-it-yourself construction, many ordinary North Koreans use black-market radios to secretly listen to foreign programs such as Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Free North Korea Radio and Radio Free Chosun.


Jan. 6 “Senior NLD Member Chides Reporter for Probing Party Plans

Burma’s incoming leadership has already made strides in alienating the fourth estate, drawing sharp criticism from journalists who claim Aung San Suu Kyi’s winning party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) is too opaque with the country’s ardent media. In the party’s latest brush with the press, central committee member Win Htein lashed out at a reporter during an interview with Radio Free Asia that aired on Tuesday. At the tail end of the two-minute clip, as the reporter thanked the veteran party member for his participation, Win Htein barked with annoyance.


Jan. 6 “Chinese Court to Hear Same-sex Marriage Case

A Chinese court has accepted the country's first same-sex marriage case, filed by a gay man in Hunan province against the government for refusing his application to marry his male partner. The decision is being hailed as a step forward for gay rights and as a major test case for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in China, his lawyer told Radio Free Asia.


Jan. 5 “Lawmaker apologises over icon comparison

Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang has issued a written apology for a public statement last month in which he compared party leader Sam Rainsy to a martyr of Kampuchea Krom, a section of southern Vietnam to which Cambodian nationalists have long claimed ownership. … Soubert condemned Chhay Eang for likening the exiled Rainsy to Son Kuy – a provincial governor who was allegedly decapitated by the Vietnamese in 1841 – during a Radio Free Asia interview. Soubert’s father, the late statesman Son Sann, claimed to be a grandson of Kuy.