RFA in the News (May 2016)



May 29 “Daughter of Top N.Korean Actress Among Defectors

The daughter of decorated North Korean actress Choe Sam-suk is among 13 North Korean restaurant workers who recently defected from China, Radio Free Asia reported Saturday.


May 29 “China calls for naval exercise with Asean

China is stepping up its efforts in resolving the disputes in the South China Sea by calling for a joint military exercise with all Southeast Asian nations. … China has problems with some Asean countries over its claim of sovereignty of everything within the red-dotted line in the South China Sea. (Illustration courtesy Radio Free Asia/RFA.org)


May 29 “Impact of int'l sanctions on N. Koreans remain minimal: RFA

North Koreans seem to feel minimal impact from the recent economic sanctions, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Sunday, citing price data surveyed by Japan's Asia Press.


May 27 “Apparently Taiwan’s President Practices ‘Emotional’ Politics Because She’s Single

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing Wen practices “emotional” and “extreme” politics because she is a single woman, according to a member of China’s political body that handles relations with the self-ruled island of Taiwan. … Taiwan has been self-governed separately from mainland China during the Japanese occupation between 1895 and 1945 and since 1949, it has never been a part of communist China, Radio Free Asia indicated.


May 27 “RFA: N. Korea Continues to Import Swiss Watches

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Friday that North Korea continues to try importing luxury goods, state-of-the-art medical equipment and medicine from Switzerland, despite a massive trade embargo put in place as part of sanctions slapped on the North by the UN Security Council.


May 27 “Former MPs: Where are they now?

Hundreds of politicians – most of them from the National League for Democracy – took their seats in parliament for the first time on January 31 following their victories in the November 2015 election. … Aside from party activities, U Hla Swe hosts a weekly six-minute program on Radio Free Asia, recounting his experiences in the military and as a lawmaker, and sometimes commenting on current affairs.


May 26 “Vietnam jails four asylum seekers over voyage to Australia despite 'no retribution' promise

Four people sent back to Vietnam by the Australian Government after trying to flee the country by boat have reportedly been jailed by a Vietnamese court. … Tran told Radio Free Asia (RFA) before sentencing that both Australian and Vietnamese officials had given the group assurances they would not be punished, before they were returned.


May 25 “North Korea takes big bite of workers' pay

The lives of North Korean workers in China have not improved due to the amount of money they have to pay their government, the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Wednesday.


May 23 “Chinese blogger detained for 'provoking trouble'

Chinese authorities should immediately release blogger and commentator Wei Manyi, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police have detained the blogger for almost a week on suspicion of "provoking trouble." … Police told the U.S.-government-funded Radio Free Asia that they had not heard of Wei.


May 23 “Russian Central Bank Halts Dealings with N.Korea

Russia has halted financial transactions with North Korea, and the EU has added 18 individuals and one organization to its North Korea sanctions list. … The Russian central bank last Thursday told all Russian banks to halt financial dealings with North Korean agencies, organizations and individuals on the UN Security Council sanctions list, Radio Free Asia reported.


May 20 “N. Korea military items loaded for online sale

Fancy some North Korean military memorabilia? More than 7,000 items, including medals, military uniforms and propaganda posters, were on sale on international auction websites last year, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).


May 20 “A Fragmented Ethnic Bloc Impedes Suu Kyi’s ‘Panglong’ Vision

While State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi beats the drum for a “21st Century Panglong Conference” to resolve decades-long ethnic conflict in Burma’s border regions, the division between the minority of ethnic armed groups who signed last year’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and the majority who did not appears to grow sharper by the day. … Mahn Nyein Maung, a senior figure in the KNU, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that although Suu Kyi has proposed holding a 21st Century Panglong Conference within two months, political dialogue should only begin once NCA non-signatories sign the NCA.


May 19 “Switzerland hits North Korea with tough sanctions

Switzerland is applying powerful and comprehensive financial sanctions on North Korea. The new policy went into effect Wednesday, and includes the freezing and closing of North Korea-related bank accounts in the European country, Radio Free Asia reported.


May 19 “Old conflict flares again in northern Shan

Tatmadaw aircraft were said to have bombed positions of the Shan State Progressive Party and Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) yesterday afternoon as the new government stepped up preparations to hold a national peace conference. … According to Radio Free Asia, a TNLA official said the reason was to give freedom to the rest of the UNFC to negotiate peace.


May 19 “N.Koreans Toil for Global Clothing Labels in China

North Korean workers are toiling for Chinese factories that make clothes for global labels like Ralph Lauren and Burberry, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday. One of their employers is Mei Dao Garment in Hebei Province, a source told the radio station.


May 18 “Kim Jong Un's unequal gift-giving irritates North Koreans

Pyongyang distributed presents to the population during the Seventh Party Congress, but some of the gifts were of such poor quality ordinary North Koreans are grumbling about the regime. The presents also varied by recipient and the best products went to Workers' Party members in attendance at the Seventh Party Congress, Radio Free Asia reported.


May 18 “Headcount of Muslim quarter in Sittwe ordered

Authorities in Sittwe are to carry out a headcount in the city’s Muslim quarter of Aung Mingalar following pressure from residents of the Rakhine State capital, according to officials and locals. … Radio Free Asia yesterday quoted U Than Tun, a Sittwe resident, as saying that about 700 residents had sent a signed letter to state Chief Minister U Nyi Pu on May 13, demanding that he expel all Muslims from Aung Mingalar.


May 16 “Government to Review Media That Shun ‘Samdech’

The Information Ministry will in July start reviewing the operating licenses of media outlets that fail to abide by a recent order that they refer to Prime Minister Hun Sen by his royally bestowed title of “samdech,” a ministry official said on Sunday. … In the past few weeks, a CPP spokesman has sued a political analyst for defamation over his comments to Radio Free Asia about the government’s investigation of an opposition leader’s sex scandal, and Mr. Hun Sen has threatened legal action against The Cambodia Daily over a headline on an article about one of his speeches, which he said misrepresented his remarks.


May 13 “Analyst Ou Virak Questioned Over Defamation Complaint

Political analyst Ou Virak was questioned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday over a defamation suit filed against him last month by the CPP, which claims he affected the “dignity” of the ruling party in comments he made in a radio interview. Mr. Virak, who runs the Future Forum think tank, is being sued over remarks made in a Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcast last month, when he suggested that the sex scandal involving deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha was being used as a political tool by the ruling party.


May 13 “Pyongyang celebrates its congress with toothpaste

To celebrate its seventh congress, Pyongyang distributed one tube of toothpaste, one toothbrush and one bottle of liquor per household, the Tokyo-based Asia Press reported on Wednesday, citing sources in North Korea. Not only were the gifts sets depressingly mean - they weren’t even free. … The Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported in April that confectionery gifts were traded at street open markets in the North known as jangmadang, but they failed to generate much interest because they were of such poor quality.


May 12 “North Korean elites paying bribes to keep kids out of military, source says

North Korea's elite expend up to $500 every month in bribes to exempt their sons and daughters from military service. A source in North Hamgyong Province who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia a new ordinance requires teenage boys and girls to complete military duty.


March 12 “Analysis: Fading mirage of the CPP

Cambodia's political crackdown reached a new low on May 9, when eight human rights defenders were detained for the unauthorised wearing of black T-shirts. … In recent comments to Radio Free Asia, Ou Virak, the head of the Future Forum policy institute, pointed out what should surely be obvious: that the Kem Sokha “sex scandal” is a towering political confection. In response, he was sued for defamation.


May 12 “CPJ Condemns N. Korea's Detention, Expulsion of BBC Crew

The Committee to Protect Journalists(CPJ) has repeated its criticism against North Korea’s detention and expulsion of a BBC crew visiting Pyongyang. CPJ Asia Program Senior Research Associate Sumit Galhotra told U.S. international broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Wednesday that it is a humiliation that journalists are obstructed and expelled, condemning the North’s actions.


May 10 “China sentences man to 7 years in jail for watching a film

Authorities in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang gave a seven-year prison sentence to an ethnic Uighur man for watching what reports claim was a politically "sensitive" film. According to Radio Free Asia, officials claimed the man, identified as Eli Yasin, a resident of Chaghraq township in Aksu prefecture, had watched a film on Muslim migration and was possibly "planning to go abroad 'to wage jihad.'"


May 10 “Free English Press Masks an Unfair Media

When 53 opposition lawmakers wrote to King Norodom Sihamoni last month asking him to intervene to end increasingly grave political repression in Cambodia, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan had a withering response. … This firm stance against criticizing the upper echelons of the government is not shared by Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Voice of America (VOA), which have long been two of the only broadcast media outlets to regularly offer a voice to opposition politicians.


May 7 “Unpaid teachers in Hunan scuffle with riot police

More than 1,000 teachers picketed outside a government headquarters in central China this week, prompting the authorities to send in riot police.  … The two-day protest began on Tuesday and most teachers resumed teaching on Thursday, according to the Chinese website of Radio Free Asia.


May 7 “'Big Daddy Xi' no more. Why China's President has been tamped down

On a mission to bring the most powerful man in China closer to the people, Zhang Hongming began to experiment. The migrant worker wanted to find a name that might show a softer side of Xi Jinping, whose official titles bristle with authority: President, General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. … Gone, too, is “Peng Mama,” the nickname for first lady Peng Liyuan, according to Radio Free Asia – an abrupt shift for a country that had gone all-in on Papa Xi, as Xinhua once translated the term.


May 6 “Criticism on human rights overshadows congress

The United Nations and other international organizations dealing with North Korea's dire human rights situation have renewed calls this week for its leader Kim Jong-un to be put on trial for state-perpetrated crimes. … Darusman said Kim holds the "ultimate responsibility" for ignoring the U.N.'s demands to improve North Korea's human rights in line with the U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI) report, according to the Korean-language website of Radio Free Asia.


May 5 “A Man Jailed Over Tiananmen Square Anniversary Has Gone on Hunger Strike

A man detained by Chinese authorities without trial for two years has launched what supporters say is a risky hunger strike to protest his ongoing incarceration. Radio Free Asia reports that Yu Shiwen has begun refusing food and plans to go without eating for one month leading up to June 4, which this year will be the 27th anniversary of the day Chinese security forces opened fire on peaceful pro-democracy protesters in the center of Beijing.


May 4 “Gov’t touts free press record

The Ministry of Information yesterday trumpeted Cambodia’s free press credentials during an event for World Press Freedom Day yesterday, though a political observer being sued over remarks he made on radio said the situation for freedom of expression was still grim. ... Prominent analyst Ou Virak – currently being sued by the CPP over comments he made during a Radio Free Asia interview – said while Cambodian press freedom has increased in recent years, the overall situation of freedom of expression had deteriorated.


May 4 “Animals die as Cambodia is gripped by worst drought in decades

Behind a clutch of huts that hug the major route between Cambodia’s capital and its famed Angkor temples, rice farmers Phem Phean and Sok Khoert peer into a cement hollow. … In Battambang province in the northwest – one of the hardest-hit regions in the country – Radio Free Asia reported that at least 30 monkeys died after the heat claimed the last tracts of water in their flooded forest habitat. RFA also said at least 200 water buffalo and cows have perished in the northern province of Stung Treng.


May 4 “N. Korean residents complain about fatigue from 70-day campaign: report

North Korean residents are feeling depressed and exhausted from a "work-hard" campaign pushed ahead of the rare congress of the ruling Workers' Party, a U.S.-based media said Wednesday, quoting a Japanese journalist. The Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted Jiro Ishimaru, the chief editor of Japanese media Asia Press, as saying North Korean residents are complaining about fatigue, and want to put the party congress behind them.


May 3 “Chinese importers ditch Dandong amid N. Korea sanctions

Most Chinese companies doing business with North Korea have left the border city of Dandong amid U.N. sanctions on the rogue state, Radio Free Asia (RFA) said Tuesday. "Empty offices are increasing in the 30-story twin buildings in Dandong as small and midsize Chinese trading companies closed their businesses with North Korea," a source told RFA.


May 3 “Political analyst Virak summonsed to court

Political commentator Ou Virak has been summoned to appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on May 12 in relation to a defamation suit filed by Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan last week.

… The complaint stems from an interview on Radio Free Asia conducted with Virak in which he allegedly claimed the CPP had orchestrated the recent scandal involving CNRP acting president Kem Sokha and an alleged mistress. Virak has rejected the allegation.


May 1 “N. Koreans get information from South 'through phone calls'

North Koreans living close to China learned about the recent mass defection of North Korean restaurant employees in China through phone calls with their "friends" in South Korea, even before the North's state media reported the incident, according to the Radio Free Asia (RFA).


May 1 “Localist activist Edward Leung Tin-kei in talks with Dalai Lama

Radical localist activist Edward Leung Tin-kei met with Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, along with 60 other individuals from the mainland, Macau, Taiwan, Europe and the United States. The two-hour meeting took place on Thursday according to Radio Free Asia, with the Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman describing the encounter as a “rare opportunity”.