Five Plainclothes Police Officers Gunned Down in Thailand’s South

Also: Indonesia’s finance minister is pushing reforms, and Singapore has a World Heritage bid.

Five officers from a Thai police unit that investigates oil smuggling were murdered during a vehicular shootout with militants. The plainclothes police officers were followed in their pickup truck by a vehicle carrying five or six men in the southern border province of Pattani.

After gunfire erupted from the trailing vehicle, the officers attempted to pull over and take cover. Four were found next to their vehicle and the fifth was found still inside. The militants also looted guns and ammunition from the victims.

“More than 5,000 people have been killed in predominantly Buddhist Thailand's three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004,” said The Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, on an economic note, Indonesia‘s finance minister is pushing for reforms that will prop up the struggling rupiah. The currency has fallen against the dollar as the economy faces a steady decline. Inflation has also risen as investors express unease ahead of next year’s presidential election – which will usher in a new president after a decade under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Regardless, Chatib Basri, the nation’s finance minister, is confident that a package of reforms can reverse the negative trend. Basri plans to open additional sectors of the economy to foreign investors while cutting back on trade restrictions.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

“From my side this is the best time to do reform,” Basri said in an interview with the Financial Times. “Not many people realize that we had the same problem in 2008, just before the last election. You’ll be surprised. If we are in a crisis, we can unite.”

Over in Singapore, the National Heritage Board and National Parks Board have asked for public opinion on the country’s bid to make the Singapore Botanic Gardens the Lion City’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Until December, members of the public will be able to comment on the official bid documents – including the Nomination Document and the Site Management Plan.

“Where possible, relevant feedback and information gathered from the public consultation process will be included in the Nomination Document,” reported Channel NewsAsia. “The Nomination Document will also be available for viewing at the three Visitor Information Counters at the Gardens.”

The bid is scheduled for submission on February 1, 2014.

J.T. Quigley is assistant editor of The Diplomat.