09/20/2023, 09.58
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Thailand's king's son calls for 'open discussion' on lèse-majesté law

Today's headlines: Monsoons hike vegetable costs in Malaysia; Two environmental activists released in the Philippines; India is proposing a bill to reserve some seats in Parliament for women;  Saudi Arabia, the talks with the Houthi representatives for peace in Yemen were positive; In Russia, the Chinese yuan is increasingly used; Moldova is implementing a "war mobility" project.


Through a Facebook post, one of the sons of the king of Thailand called for an open discussion on the lèse majesté law (or law 112 from the section of the penal code in which it is contained), which punishes those accused of insulting the royal family but are often used to repress dissent. Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, second son of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and who lives abroad, made the comment after visiting the "Faces of Victims of 112" exhibition at Columbia University in New York. The king has seven children from four marriages and has not formally named an heir.


Vegetable prices will increase in Malaysia due to the monsoon season, Federation of Vegetable Sellers Associations president Lee Kha Shiuann said. “It has rained in several places and there is a slight shortage of supply,” he explained. “The wholesale price of tomatoes has increased. Two weeks ago it was 3 ringgit per kg (0.60 euros), but now it has doubled to between 6 and 6.50 (1.20-1.30 euros)".


Two environmental activists allegedly kidnapped by the Philippine army more than two weeks ago and accused by authorities of being linked to "left-wing organizations" were freed yesterday. Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, 21 and 22, were working with coastal communities opposed to land reclamation activities in Manila Bay when they disappeared on September 2 in Bataan province, near the capital. The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for land defenders, with 11 deaths in 2022, according to the Global Witness observatory.


The Indian government has introduced a bill to reserve a third of the seats in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) and state assemblies for women. The announcement was made yesterday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a special session of Parliament, eight months before national elections, scheduled for May 2024. Women represent almost half of the 950 million registered voters in India, but they constitute only the 15% of the House and approximately 10% of state legislatures.


Japan's exports to China fell 11% in August from a year earlier, falling for the ninth consecutive month. The block on imports of fish products from Japan after the release of treated water from the Fukushima plant may have affected the data, but there was also a sharp decrease in trade in mineral fuels and steel, reflecting political tensions.


The Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed satisfaction after talks with Houthi representatives to establish the implementation of a peace process in Yemen, where the conflict has lasted for eight years. Envoys from Yemen left the kingdom yesterday after a five-day round of talks, during which some progress was made on key sticking points, including a timetable for the exit of foreign troops from Yemen and a mechanism for payment of public wages, some sources added.


In Russia, alternatives to the ruble are being sought, the national currency increasingly in free fall, recalling the katanovka, the "Khakasia ruble" issued at a regional level in 1996, a kind of coupon with which one could pay for essential services, distributed instead of pensions, and now several regions are thinking of imitating that initiative. Alternatively, the use of the Chinese yuan is becoming increasingly widespread throughout the country.


Moldova has decided to ensure an uninterrupted rail transport line between the cities of Reni in Ukraine, Giurgiulest in Moldova and Galac in Romania, to allow deliveries of necessary materials, starting with armaments, between Chişinău and Kiev, as explained the Moldovan Minister of Infrastructure Andrej Spynu, as part of the European project called "war mobility".

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