Some Friday ASEAN links:
Singapore Customs officials announced that they have seized 1.9 million packs of contraband cigarettes from the start of the year until the end of September. That number represents an 84 percent increase compared to the 1 million packs seized during the same nine months last year. Enforcement agents chalked the increase up to strict customs controls and increased cooperation with police.
In September, customs officers confiscated 13,300 cartons of illegal cigarettes from a single suspect. The duty-unpaid tobacco had a street value of roughly $965,000, with the tax payable exceeding $800,000.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
“Singapore Customs warned that buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing and dealing in duty-unpaid cigarettes are serious offenses,” reported Channel NewsAsia. “Repeat offenders caught with more than two kilograms of tobacco products face mandatory imprisonment [and] vehicles used in such offences can also be seized.”
In Myanmar, a mysterious spree of bombings continued on Thursday, leaving another person dead and wounding six bystanders. The most recent blasts took place in Namkham, at the northern end of Myanmar’s Shan state on Thursday morning. The two blasts there bring the total numbers of explosions this week to nine, with three casualties thus far.
“Acts of violence like those perpetrated and attempted over the past week have no place in civilized society,” read a statement by the United States Embassy in Yangon, according to Bangkok Post, where a bomb placed in an upscale hotel wounded an American woman.
Police continue to investigate, though no group has claimed responsibility for the seemingly random attacks.
In Laos, a passenger aircraft crash has taken the lives of all 49 on board. The Lao Airlines plane, a French-made ATR turboprop, encountered severe turbulence and inclement weather before plunging into the Mekong River.
According to The New York Times, a member of Thailand’s foreign ministry confirmed that passengers on the flight hailed from Laos, Vietnam, Australia, Canada, China, France, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. There were 44 passengers and five crew members.
Laos, a highly-secretive Communist nation, may be unprepared to recover bodies and conduct a thorough investigation of the crash. A Thai volunteer organization on the Laotian border has offered to send divers to locate those missing.