Southeast Asia – Southeast Asian nations are battling a surge in dengue cases, amid signs that climate change could make 2007 the worst year on record for a disease that often gets less attention than some higher-profile health risks.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysia’s top civil court has rejected the appeal of Muslim convert Lina Joy to be recognized as a Christian in a landmark case that has been seen as a litmus test of religious freedom in the moderate Islamic country. Within days of the ruling, a Malaysian Muslim man switched at birth in a hospital mix-up filed a lawsuit seeking to become a Buddhist and have his name changed. In practice, sharia courts do not allow Muslims to formally renounce Islam, preferring to send apostates to counselling and, ultimately, fining or jailing them if they refuse to desist.
Mumbai, India – In the most conspicuous sign yet of India’s unprecedented prosperity, the country’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is building a new home in the financial hub of Mumbai: a 60-storey palace with helipad, health club and six floors of car parking.
Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesian police have captured the country’s most wanted terrorist – Abu Dujana, the head of the military wing of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network.
Tokyo, Japan – Japan has a new nursing home for a swiftly graying population — dogs. The country’s first nursing home for dogs comes with round-the-clock monitoring by veterinarians and a team of puppies to play with the aging pooches to help them keep fit,
Seoul, South Korea – 14,075 animals have been reported to be abandoned in Seoul in 2006, 79 percent of which were dogs and 20 percent cats. Between 1,600,000 dogs and 2,000,000 dogs are consumed every year for meat or soup in South Korea. An average person eats 1.38 kg of dog meat per year, making it one of the most popular dishes in South Korea.
Bhutan – The only trouble with the recent mock elections in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is that most Bhutanese don’t want democracy. They want their king to be in charge. It’s the king who wants democracy.
Elsewhere – Indian-born billionaire Lakshmi Mittal – the fifth richest man in the world – has emerged as a contender to buy Birmingham, while Arsenal faces a takeover bid from an Arab tycoon Mohammed Al Hashimi who was a partner in a £450million bid to buy Liverpool. In the meanwhile, ousted billionaire Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is reportedly poised to buy English football’s Manchester City, although the Bank of Thailand said it has not received a money transfer request from Thaksin. Are Asians going to take over the English Premier League someday?
*Image of a group of dogs transported in a truck in South Korea to end up as a meat or soup in restaurants from The Seoul Times.