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700 Malaysians tricked by human traffickers are held for ransom in Laos

  • An estimated 700 Malaysians who were lured by human traffickers are being held for ransom in a casino and hotel resort in northern Laos.
  • Resort managers reportedly put them to work as online scammers and ensure their compliance by beating and torturing them.
  • Four Malaysians managed to escape by digging a tunnel at their work site, and six others were rescued by the Malaysian embassy in Laos.
  • The Malaysian embassy has contacted the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Interpol to ask for help in rescuing the trapped Malaysian victims.

An estimated 700 Malaysian victims who were lured by human traffickers are being held for ransom in a casino and hotel resort in northern Laos.

The victims were lured with promises of employment at the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GTSEZ) in Bokeo province. The area reportedly has a gambling hub that caters to Chinese citizens. 

Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong lift COVID-19 restrictions on inbound travelers after more than 2 years

goodbye covid
  • On Thursday, Japan’s government announced that the country would be reopening its borders to all individual tourists starting on Oct. 11.
  • Taiwan also announced its plan to remove inbound quarantine for international arrivals by Oct. 13.
  • Similarly, the Hong Kong government announced on Friday its conclusion of hotel quarantine for inbound travelers starting Sep. 26.
  • As for mainland China, the government maintains its “zero COVID” policy that still requires travelers to quarantine at a hotel for 10 days at their own expense.

After more than two years of strict border restrictions, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong have lifted COVID-19 restrictions on inbound travelers.

On Thursday, Japan’s government announced that the country would be resuming visa-free access for certain countries and reopening its borders to all individual tourists starting on Oct. 11. 

Vietnamese consulate receives ‘constant calls day and night’ by victims of human trafficking in Cambodia

human trafficking
  • The Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, has been receiving dozens of rescue requests from victims of human trafficking on a daily basis.
  • Crime syndicates operating in Cambodia have targeted individuals from Southeast Asian countries. Thousands of people are lured by traffickers who promised them “easy jobs with high wages,” when in reality, they are exploited and held as prisoners.
  • Consul General Vu Ngoc Ly said one major issue that rescuers face is incomprehensive information given by the Vietnamese victims.
  • Several trafficking groups operate in deep forests under the guise of being legitimate companies.
  • Ly said it is important to educate people about the dangers behind “easy jobs with high pay” in foreign countries.

The Vietnamese consulate in Cambodia has been receiving dozens of rescue requests from victims of human trafficking as rescue efforts face several challenges.

Amid the ongoing human trafficking crisis in Cambodia, the Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville has been receiving numerous calls from victims on a daily basis. 

118 Malaysians, 50 Filipinos rescued from human traffickers in Cambodia

  • Human trafficking operations in Cambodia have been targeting individuals from various South East Asian countries by promising them jobs with “high wages,” when in reality, they are exploited and held as prisoners.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia Saifuddin Abdullah said that 118 citizens have been rescued from human traffickers while 30 remain missing in Cambodia.
  • There were 24 Malaysians sent home on Friday while 29 others await the completion of investigations and paperwork processing at immigration centers.
  • On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines reported that 50 Filipinos, who were recruited to work illegally in Cambodia, were also rescued and returned home.
  • Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N. special rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, said Cambodia must implement stronger countermeasures as well as receive better international cooperation.

According to the latest human trafficking rescue operation reports, authorities have rescued more than 100 Malaysians and 50 Filipinos who were lured to Cambodia and held as prisoners.

Out of 148 Malaysians reported missing, 118 have been rescued from human traffickers while 30 remain missing. According to Malaysia’s foreign minister, 24 citizens were sent back home on Friday and 29 others remain at immigration centers in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn says China part of ‘New Axis of Evil’ in op-ed supporting Taiwan independence

Senator Marsha Blackburn
  • In an opinion piece released Friday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) condemned the actions of the Chinese Communist Party and called the country the “New Axis of Evil.”
  • Blackburn was part of a late-August congressional delegation to Taiwan, which followed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s earlier trip to the island.
  • Blackburn stated that “it [is] abundantly clear that the leaders in Taiwan want the United States and our allies to stand with them.”
  • To conclude her piece, Blackburn proposed legislation to strengthen supply chains and relationships and vowed to defend democracy.

Senator Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) latest opinion piece clarifies her position in support of Taiwan’s independence against China’s “mission for dominance.”

In an op-ed titled “We must stand with Taiwan” published in The Tullahoma News, Blackburn condemned the actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and said the country was “at the helm of the New Axis of Evil.”

Vietnamese parents forced to buy back children as human trafficking crisis in Cambodia escalates

  • Chinese crime syndicates are believed to be behind the human trafficking operations in Cambodia that have targeted individuals from Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
  • Thousands of people have been lured by human traffickers who promised them “easy jobs with high wages,” when in fact, they were taken to production facilities and casinos and held as prisoners.
  • In April, four families in Hai Phong City had to pay thousands of dollars in ransom to buy back their children after they were tricked by a close friend. 
  • On Aug. 18, 40 Vietnamese nationals managed to escape from the Golden Phoenix casino in Cambodia’s Kandal province by swimming across the Binh Di River. 
  • So far, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities have rescued over 250 people who were lured to Cambodian casinos.

In the first half of this year, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities have rescued 250 people who were lured to Cambodian casinos by human traffickers. In a joint operation, authorities are continuing to bring home Vietnamese nationals.

Chinese crime syndicates are believed to be behind the human trafficking operations in Cambodia that have targeted individuals from South East Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Nearly 6,000 glaciers in China have disappeared due to global warming

  • Scientists reported that 5,956 miniature alpine glaciers have disappeared in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, also known as the Tibetan Plateau in China, in the past 50 years because of global warming.
  • Besides the disappearance of the glaciers, 25,901 glaciers out of the 34,578 discovered in the region have also shrunk dramatically.
  • The scientists also noted that 1,907 glaciers became larger while 2,721 became smaller during that period.
  • Known as the “water tower of Asia,” there are over 48,500 glaciers found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with a total area of around 51,840 square kilometers (5,184,000 hectares).
  • Citing data from the China Academy of Sciences, Reuters reported that the glaciers in the neighboring Qilian Mountains retreated 50% faster during 1990 to 2010 than during 1956 to 1990.

Almost 6,000 glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, also known as the Tibetan Plateau in China, have reportedly disappeared in the past 50 years as the region saw a temperature spike because of global warming.

Scientists reported that 5,956 miniature alpine glaciers have disappeared in the region out of the 34,578 glaciers they discovered 50 years ago, while 25,901 glaciers have shrunk dramatically, according to Sixth Tone.

Malaysian man arrested for placing vape pen in baby’s mouth in viral video

  • A 23-year-old man was arrested on Aug. 8 in Johor, Malaysia, for placing an electronic cigarette in a baby’s mouth in an incident that was filmed and posted on social media.
  • The clip of the baby has amassed more than 947,000 views as of this writing.
  • The baby belongs to the man’s friend’s sister, according to North Johor Bahru district police commander Rupiah Abd Wahid. 
  • The child’s mother filed a police complaint after the incident went viral on social media.
  • Although the baby did not appear to be inhaling fumes from the allegedly non-functioning vape, the suspect may still be charged with exposing a child to danger. 
  • If the man is found guilty, he may face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

A man in Malaysia was arrested for placing an electronic cigarette in a baby’s mouth in an incident that was filmed and posted on social media.

The unidentified 23-year-old man was arrested on Aug. 8 in the Malaysian state of Johor following a police complaint filed by the mother of the child after the clip went viral, having received over 947,000 views on Twitter as of this writing.

India confirms Asia’s first recorded monkeypox death

  • A 22-year-old man from Kerala, India, has reportedly died of monkeypox, making this the first fatality of the current outbreak in the country, as well as the first one in Asia and the fourth outside of Africa.
  • According to local officials, the 21 people who had prior contact with the unnamed man have been isolated and did not show any symptoms.
  • Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya confirmed that the country has a total of eight infected individuals, five of whom have recently traveled abroad.
  • The young man’s death comes over a week after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency on July 23.
  • Last week, Spain reported two deaths related to the viral disease, while Brazil reported its first.
  • In the U.S., the current total number of recorded monkeypox cases has reached 5,811, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The current monkeypox outbreak has claimed its first death in India, its first death in Asia and its fourth death outside of Africa.

An unnamed 22-year-old man from Kerala state died from the viral disease on Saturday, as confirmed by health authorities on Monday.

Calling all allies: Here’s what happened on Biden’s mission-driven tour of Asia

  • In a news conference held on Monday in Tokyo, President Biden gave an unequivocal “yes,” when asked if the U.S. would get involved militarily if China were to attack Taiwan.
  • Tensions have grown between China versus the U.S. and Taiwan amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, during which the looming question of whether China would be next to invade Taiwan has led to nations scrambling to reinforce ties with allies.
  • Beijing diplomat Yang Jiechi responded with the warning, “If the U.S. side insists on playing the Taiwan card and goes further and further down the wrong road, it will certainly lead to a dangerous situation.”
  • Biden’s visit to the Indo-Pacific comes at a critical time in which the President appears to be rallying the support of allies to trump China’s reach in the region.
  • Biden also met with leaders from South Korea, Australia and India to discuss economic strategies that would encourage less of a dependence on China as a trading partner.

In a news conference held Monday in Tokyo, President Biden gave an unequivocal “yes,” when asked if the U.S. would militarily step in if China were to attack Taiwan.

In the joint conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a reporter asked Biden, “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily, for obvious reasons, are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”

Ho Chi Minh City resident becomes first Vietnamese woman to reach Mount Everest summit

  • Nguyễn Thị Thanh Nhã, who also goes by Céline Nha Nguyen, reached the summit of Mount Everest on Monday, becoming the first Vietnamese woman to do so.
  • A representative from Seven Summit Treks congratulated Nguyen and described her achievement as monumental for the Vietnamese climbing community.
  • Nguyen, who works as a lawyer in Hồ Chí Minh City, is determined to complete the Seven Summits, which refers to the seven highest mountains in the world.
  • She has now completed two of the seven summits including Vinson Massif in January, which is the highest peak in Antarctica at 4,892 meters (16,049 feet).
  • Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world standing at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet).

A lawyer from Hồ Chí Minh City is the first Vietnamese woman to reach the summit of the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. 

Manager of mountaineering company Seven Summit Treks, Thaneswar Guragai, confirmed that Nguyễn Thị Thanh Nhã, who also goes by Céline Nha Nguyen, successfully summited Mount Everest at 3:30 a.m. on Monday. Nguyen was praised by a representative from the company who pointed out that her achievement marked a monumental milestone for the Vietnamese climbing community.