INDONESIA’S COFFEE KILLER SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS JAIL AFTER CASE THAT CAPTIVATED A NATION

An Indonesian court jailed a woman for 20 years for murdering her college friend by poisoning her coffee, ending a dramatic case that gripped the country for months. Jessica Kumala Wongso, 27, an Indonesian citizen and permanent resident of Australia, was convicted of murdering 27-year-old Wayan Mirna Salihin in January by slipping cyanide into her drink in a cafe at one of Jakarta’s most upmarket shopping centres. The soap opera-style tale of two members of the wealthy elite having a dramatic fallout culminating in murder was dubbed “the poisoned coffee” case. Prosecutors said Wongso “meticulously” planned to murder Salihin after the victim advised the defendant to break up with a boyfriend who was using drugs.

What next? The 20-year sentence was in line with prosecutors’ demands. Wongso had denied the charge of premeditated murder. President Joko Widodo’s administration waded in on the case, saying Wongso would not be executed if she got the death penalty. Her lawyers said they would appeal.

XI JINPING JOINS THE LIKES OF MAO ZEDONG, DENG XIAOPING AFTER PARTY DUBS HIM ‘CORE’ LEADER

The Communist Party elevated President Xi Jinping’s political status on Thursday, referring to him as the “core” of its leadership ahead of the party’s five-yearly congress late next year. The status gives Xi greater power to shape the party’s top ranks at the gathering. Analysts said the “core of the leadership” often represented the power of final approval or veto. The term was used by late leader Deng Xiaoping in 1989 to describe Mao Zedong, himself and his successor Jiang Zemin. The title however eluded Jiang’s successor and Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

What next? With his new core status, Xi is expected to play a more dominant role in orchestrating next year’s reshuffles – a sharp contrast to Hu’s position 10 years ago. Next year’s congress will see the election of more than 300 full members and alternate Central Committee members. Up to 11 seats on the 25-strong Politburo will also be vacated, including up to five members of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee who are expected to retire.

SOUTH KOREAN PROBE TO REVEAL ‘WHOLE TRUTH’ BEHIND INFLUENCE PEDDLING ALLEGATIONS

South Korean prosecutors have set up a high-powered “task-force” to probe allegations of influence-peddling involving a close confidante of President Park Geun-hye. Choi Soon-sil, who has no government position, was already being investigated over allegations that she used her relationship with the president to strong-arm conglomerates into multimillion-dollar donations to two non-profit foundations. The scandal snowballed when it emerged that Choi was been given advanced access to presidential speeches and other documents. Prosecutor General Kim Soo-nam told the task force to “investigate thoroughly and reveal the whole truth”.

What next? The scandal has been extremely damaging for Park whose approval rating has slumped to a record low of 17.5 per cent, according to a Realmeter poll. It comes at a time of elevated military tensions with the North, skyrocketing household debt and falling exports in South Korea. Park is set to face presidential elections slated for December 2017.

HONG KONG’S LEGCO PARALYSED BY LOCALISTS OATH TAKING SAGA, JUDICIAL REVIEW LAUNCHED

A row has erupted in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council after new young lawmakers adapted the standard induction oath in a way which was deemed insulting to China. On October 12, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching altered their oaths to instead pledge allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation”, referring to the sovereign state as “Chee-na”, a variation of the derogatory term “Shina”, which was used by Japan for China during the second world war. The pair held a banner that read “Hong Kong is not China”. Their oaths were deemed invalid and they were subsequently banned from entering the chamber. Chaotic scenes followed this week when they stormed the chamber flanked by other pan-democrats.

What next? The government has been granted a judicial review into allowing the pair to retake their oaths after pro-Beijing groups protested and demanded the two resign. It is likely that while the court examines the case, the city’s Legco will remain paralysed by the political gridlock, with meetings disrupted indefinitely.

OUSTED TATA CHAIRMAN MISTRY WARNS OF MASSIVE LOSSES AFTER BOARD REMOVES HIM FROM POST

Former Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry accused directors at India’s largest conglomerate of wrongfully dismissing him and warned that the tea-to-software giant may face 1.18 trillion rupees (HK$136 billion) in write downs because of five unprofitable businesses he inherited. Mistry, Tata’s chairman for almost four years, was abruptly removed from his role on Monday for non performance without the opportunity to defend himself, the executive wrote in an email to the board of the group’s holding company Tata Sons. In his own defence, Mistry said he inherited a debt-laden enterprise saddled with losses.

What next? The comments shed light on the power struggle occurring at the US$100 billion conglomerate in the run-up to Mistry’s exit, which stunned India’s business community. Mistry had been pushing to transform Tata Group into a more prudent enterprise.

GRISLY DETAILS OF HONG KONG DOUBLE-MURDER CASE REVEALED

Hong Kong’s highest-profile murder trial in recent memory began last week when British banker Rurik Jutting appeared in the High Court over the double murder of two Indonesia women in his flat in Wan Chai two years ago. Jutting, 31, pleaded not guilty to murdering Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, by reason of diminished responsibility. Nevertheless, the court was presented with chilling footage recorded by Jutting where he spoke about holding Sumarti captive for three days, raping and torturing and finally killing her. “It’s Monday night. I’ve held her captive since early Saturday. I’ve raped her repeatedly. I tortured her, tortured her badly,” Jutting said in the clip. “At the time it felt really good. Yeah, it’s good.”

What next? The jury trial continues before deputy High Court judge Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore on Monday, with the defence opening its case.

TOKYO SUBWAY OPERATOR REVISES ITS NEW, ‘SEXED UP’ CARTOON CHARACTER AFTER REDESIGN

The operator of Tokyo’s subway system has backtracked on a radical makeover for its promotional character after the new anime incarnation of Michika Ekino was deemed more than a little inappropriate. Described as the “eternal 23-year-old” station attendant for the Tokyo Metro, the Ekino character first appeared in 2013 as a conventionally two-dimensional character dressed in the subway employee uniform. In an ill-advised effort to “sex-up” her character, however, the designers seem to have gone overboard. In the new design, released on October 13, Ekino had become a doe-eyed “moe” character with parted lips, flushed cheeks and a submissive look in her big, round eyes.

What next? Tokyo Metro authorities responded swiftly to the criticism, releasing an amended image of the poster girl five days later. Gone was the pout, the enhanced bust, knock-knees and see-through skirt, although she still looked a little flushed. The new, new Ekino had also adopted a more sensible and helpful posture.

Compiled by Thomas Sturrock