Personalities

Find out what Asia’s movers and shakers are up to ­– and how they spend their private time 
  1. When Gilbert Mvondo was hired to cut roads through pristine Cameroonian rainforest in 2015, he did so expecting to be paid.He had been recruited, along with a number of other residents of Meyomessala – birthplace of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya – to prepare the ground for representatives of the prime minister’s office and the Trade Park Corporation, a little-known but well-connected firm with a registered address in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district.The Hong Kong company had promised to create…
  2. Would-be defector Wang Liqiang seemed to confirm Australia’s worst fears of Chinese infiltration. The fresh-faced, bespectacled 27-year-old, dubbed the “first Chinese operative to ever blow his cover”, recounted alarming tales of espionage and political sabotage in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Wang recalled meeting with the head of a spy ring operating freely down under, coordinating a “cyber army” to manipulate public opinion during elections in Taiwan, working with a front company…
  3. More people speak Javanese than Malay, Burmese or Thai. Indeed, of Indonesia’s 265 million people, some 95 million speak Javanese. However, it is not the national language of the republic. That is Bahasa Indonesia, a variation of Malay. The two are very different and should never be confused.Moreover, Javanese is very much alive, both in popular culture and politics. For example, one of Indonesia’s most famous pop stars Via Vallen, has attracted more than 186 million YouTube views for her song…
  4. The deaths of K-pop stars Goo Hara and Sulli within six weeks of each other, as well as that of Jonghyun in December 2017, sent a shock wave of grief through their millions of fans in South Korea and around the world.Goo, a close friend of Sulli, was found dead in her flat on November 24, while Sulli and Jonghyun both took their own lives.Fans mourning their passing responded publicly and privately, with some flocking to Goo’s funeral home.Others are petitioning Twitter to make an exception to…
  5. Workers’ rights activists in the Philippines have accused authorities of abuse after revealing how they were swept up in President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on a long-running communist insurgency which he has vowed to “destroy” before leaving office. The performance artists from Teatro Obrero, the cultural arm of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, were arrested in a raid in Bacolod, central Philippines’ Negros island, on October 31. The group, best known for its cultural performances…
  6. When Jarat Chopra meets the siblings of Japanese soldier Hideo Shikata in Kyoto prefecture on Sunday, he knows precisely what he will say to them.The Kenya-based lawyer will tell them he took good care of the picture album Shikata had carried into his final battle in the Philippines in 1945, and that for the last two decades, he had been trying to track the family down to return it.He hopes its return, even after all these years, “will bring them some calm and peace”.Chopra, 55, had amassed a…
  7. A key witness in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial has been lauded as a “national hero” by Malaysians, after she revealed in court that she had recorded a meeting between top officials discussing a 1MDB audit report and kept a copy of a document she was meant to destroy.Former government auditor Nor Salwani Muhammad, 52, said yesterday that she had taped a 2016 discussion between senior government officials and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, although she maintained…
  8. A relative of Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose has renewed family calls for ashes stored at a temple in Tokyo to undergo DNA testing in an effort to put an end to claims that the freedom fighter survived a plane crash in Taiwan in August 1945, and a number of subsequent rumours about his fate. Surya Kumar Bose was recently in Japan and visited Renkoji Temple, in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, to examine the urn that contains what are believed to be the remains of his great-uncle, who is also…
  9. Manisha Uke checks herself in the tiny mirror on the wall, one last time before heading out. Gently, she dabs powder under her left eye where black patches have developed from clotted blood.“You have to show them you are tough,” says Uke, 29, “even if you are broken inside.”Uke has felt broken many times in the past two years. First, when her husband, Manoj, hanged himself in the family home. Manoj, a farmer, had despaired at his inability to repay a debt of US$1,122 as he battled repeated crop…
  10. Jammu and Kashmir on November 12 marked 100 days since India revoked the autonomy of the Muslim-majority region.Since then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has moved to bring the region under direct rule, cut telecommunications, and detained thousands of people, including pro-India politicians, to quell any unrest. Shops and businesses have remained shut to protest against the controversial decision, children have not been going to school, and streets are deserted…