03/02/2024, 12.25
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New surrogacy rules proposed in Thailand

Today's other headlines: Taylor Swift's shows in Singapore spark a row. A church reopens in Laos. The number of Indians seeking asylum in the UK is up. The singer and author of "Baraye", the anthem of the protests caused by the death of Mahsa Amini, gets three years in prison.


The Thai government wants to change the country’s legislation to allow foreign couples to access surrogacy services, a local official said yesterday. After a series of scandals, Thailand banned this practice in 2015. The Thai cabinet will vet proposed legislative changes as part of a wider reform of the rules that regulate in vitro fertilisation and artificial insemination. If approved, the proposal will go to parliament.


With the help of the authorities, a church in the village of Kaleum Vangke reopened after it was attacked earlier last month. Several villagers targeted local Christians on 4 February, destroying their homes and Bibles. Such attacks are frequent in Laos, despite laws that protect freedom of worship.


Taylor Swift's week of shows in Singapore has caused a small diplomatic incident. The country’s Minister of Culture, Edwin Tong, said that the singer was paid a certain amount to ensure that her six shows would be exclusive to the city-state; however, he did not mention the exact figure. Thailand’s prime minister criticised the move, and a Philippine lawmaker said, "this is not what good neighbours do." For Southeast Asian fans, Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the region.


The number of Indians trying to reach the United Kingdom in small boats has increased by nearly 60 per cent last year, 1,192 against 748 in 2022, mostly men between 18 and 39 years. The asylum applications of 57 Indians who arrived between January and March this year have all been rejected.


Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour yesterday announced on his Instagram profile that he had been sentenced to three years in prison. The Grammy Award-winning artist is the author of "Baraye", the song that became the anthem of the protest movement that followed the death of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. Iran's state media did not report the news. Hajipour has already served time in jail but was free on bail pending the court's decision.


According to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Security (CSIS), North Korea has supplied Russia with more than 2.5 million rounds of artillery shells and other munitions since August 2023. More than 25 transport ships have left the North Korean port of Rajin for ports in Russia’s Far East while an unprecedented number of railcars have moved between the two countries.


The chairman of the State Water Resources Agency of Azerbaijan, Zaur Mikailov, spoke at a hearing of the Azerbaijani parliament devoted to energy and natural resources. He said that meeting the challenge of water shortages will require “desalination of sea waters”. To this end, agreements have already been reached with 10 foreign companies for thorough sterilisation.

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See also
Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang rise as Cold War fears cast a shadow over Korea
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A thousand dollars for the lives of three North Korean children
The two faces of religious identity and pluralism in South and Southeast Asia
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Labour shortages threaten economic recovery in Malaysia and Thailand
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Beijing becoming a major weapons supplier in Southeast Asia
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