Southeast Asia faces threats from Daesh, cyber-attacks, summit hears

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers his opening address at the 32nd ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Singapore on April 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 April 2018
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Southeast Asia faces threats from Daesh, cyber-attacks, summit hears

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia faces “very real” threats from Daesh despite their defeat in the Middle East, as well as cyber-attacks, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned Saturday as he opened a regional summit.
Parts of the 10-country region, encompassing about 650 million people, have long struggled with Islamic militancy and the emergence of Daesh has served as a new rallying point for radicals and re-energised extremist groups.
A deadly gun and suicide-bombing attack in Indonesian capital Jakarta in 2016 was the first Daesh-claimed assault in the region, while the Philippine city of Marawi was overrun last year by fighters loyal to the extremists, triggering a months-long battle that killed hundreds.
Fears are also growing that Southeast Asia, which is home to booming economies where a growing number of people are adopting digital technology in their everyday lives, could be increasingly targeted by cyberattackers.
Opening the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, Lee warned that Daesh continues to threaten the region despite their military defeat in Iraq and Syria, while the move toward digitalization has made countries more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
“Southeast Asia is at peace, but these threats are very real,” he said.
“We need to be resilient to both conventional threats, and also non-conventional threats such as terrorism and cyberattacks.”
The leaders at a working dinner Friday ahead of their formal summit agreed to increase coordination in cybersecurity.
Lee also warned that the open global trading system, which has allowed many of the region’s export-driven economies to flourish, has come under increasing threat due to protectionist policies in major economies.
“The political mood in many countries has shifted against free trade,” he warned.
“In particular, the trade tensions between the US and China are worrying concerns.”
Washington and Beijing have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods which analysts said could escalate into a global trade war and scupper global growth.
Lee said the answer to such rising protectionism is for ASEAN to further push for the deeper integration of their economies and bolster cooperation in other fields.
“Individually, the ASEAN member states will find it hard to make much impact on their own,” Lee said.
“But when we speak in one collective ASEAN voice, we can be effective.”
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Thousands of protesters try to storm Georgia parliament

Updated 8 min 8 sec ago
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Thousands of protesters try to storm Georgia parliament

  • Tens of thousands rallied in Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after a Russian lawmaker addressed the country’s parliament from the speaker’s seat
  • The Russian MP’s presence in Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow

TBILISI: Thousands of protesters attempted Thursday to storm the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi, furious that a Russian lawmaker addressed the assembly from the speaker’s seat during an international event.
Demanding that the parliamentary speaker resign, about 10,000 protesters broke riot police cordons to enter the parliament courtyard, an AFP reporter witnessed. Police pushed them back, but several protesters continued trying to enter the building.
Earlier, tens of thousands rallied in central Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after a Russian lawmaker controversially addressed the country’s parliament from the speaker’s seat.
Russian Communist lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov was speaking during an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), a forum of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox countries.
The Russian MP’s presence in fiercely pro-Western Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow over breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
A group of Georgian opposition lawmakers demanded the Russian delegation leave the parliament’s plenary chamber.
Many protesters held Georgian and EU flags and placards that read “Russia is an occupier.”
“This is a spontaneous protest by ordinary Georgians, it has not been organized by any political party,” an MP from opposition European Georgia party, Giga Bokeria, told AFP at the rally.
Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili — widely believed to be calling the shots in Georgia as the leader of his ruling Georgian Dream party — said in a statement that he “fully shares the sincere outrage of the Georgian citizens.”
He added that he told the speaker to suspend the session.
“It is unacceptable that a representative of the occupier country chairs a forum in the Georgian parliament,” Ivanishvili said.