Top Asian News 3:59 a.m. GMT

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian Parliament was shut down Thursday as pressure mounts on the prime minister to allow his ruling party to elect a new leader and end a leadership crisis that's the latest in more than a decade of political instability. Senior ministers Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash and Mitch Fifield had earlier told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he had lost his government's support and must hold a ballot of conservative Liberal Party lawmakers to elect a new leader quickly. It was a major blow to Turnbull's chances of staying in office. Former minister Peter Dutton wants to stand for election as prime minister on Thursday.

Australia's prime minister says he'll quit Parliament if his party wants a leadership ballot. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he plans to hold a party meeting on Friday if a majority of his ruling conservative Liberal Party lawmakers want it. If that meeting calls for a leadership ballot, he will quit Parliament. That would create a by-election that could cost the government its single-seat majority or spur his replacement to immediately call a general election.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — No Australian prime minister in the past decade has lasted a full three-year term before being dumped by his or her own party. It's a new era of political instability that most Australians hate. Voters expect that they will get to judge their leaders at the ballot box. Many feel hoodwinked when they go to elections expecting one national leader, then later have another imposed upon them. The tactic of swapping leaders in the hope of boosting governments' standing in opinion polls as elections loom has left parties bitterly divided. Foreign governments are left wondering whether Australian leaders will be around long enough to fulfill bilateral agreements.

UKHIYA, Bangladesh (AP) — The little boy emerges into view amid a chorus of panicked shouts and the thunder of feet from the horde sweeping past us. He is slumped over the shoulder of a man, his skinny arms flopping around like a marionette's. And though we cannot see his face, we know from his limp body that he is in danger. My translator, Habi, and I are walking along a dirt road through Bangladesh's refugee camps, where 700,000 Rohingya people have fled since the military launched a violent campaign in neighboring Myanmar last August. Listening to the shouts from the crowd, Habi works out what has happened: The boy fell into one of the fetid waterways that snake through the camps.

SAMJIYON, North Korea (AP) — Thousands of North Korean "soldier-builders" in olive green uniforms and bright red hardhats are doing everything from digging ditches to putting up walls on multi-story apartment blocks and government buildings in this northern city near the Chinese border. Samjiyon is one of the main focuses of a massive nationwide construction campaign ahead of North Korea's 70th anniversary in what leader Kim Jong Un has described as a symbolic battle against anyone who would oppose his country. The Sept. 9 anniversary is shaping up to be the biggest event since Kim assumed power in late 2011. Along with huge rallies in Pyongyang on the day itself and the revival of North Korea's trademark mass games at the stadium, Kim has deployed soldiers and ordinary citizens alike to erect buildings, improve roads and work on other infrastructure on a scale unseen in recent years.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has rejected an invitation to join Russia-led talks on Afghanistan because they are unlikely to help bring peace, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday, as the Trump administration prepared to appoint a diplomatic veteran as a new special envoy for the war-battered nation. Russia said that the Taliban will be joining the Sept. 4 talks in Moscow, along with representatives of several neighboring countries. It will be one of the insurgent group's biggest diplomatic forays since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. The State Department official said that as a matter of principle, the U.S.

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii residents emptied store shelves Wednesday, claimed the last sheets of plywood to board up windows and drained gas pumps as Hurricane Lane churned toward the state. The category 4 storm could slam into the islands Thursday with winds exceeding 100 mph (161 kph), making it the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Unlike Florida or Texas, where residents can get in their cars and drive hundreds of miles to safety, people in Hawaii are confined to the islands and can't outrun the powerful winds and driving rain. Instead, they must stay put and make sure they have enough supplies to outlast prolonged power outages and other potential emergencies.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — As her two North Korean daughters, both in their 70s, wailed outside her bus, 99-year-old Han Shin-ja pounded the windows from inside in despair, moving her lips to say "don't cry" and "farewell." As her bus left for South Korea on Wednesday, Han's daughters chased the moving vehicle before being stopped by a North Korean official, a predictable but no less heart-wrenching departure that's likely to be the last time they see each other after decades of separation. Han's family was among hundreds of elderly Koreans who tearfully said their final goodbyes at the end of the first round of rare reunions between relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — Officials and local groups held a religious ceremony on Wednesday in honor of 47 Chinese tourists who died last month when their boat sank in rough weather off Thailand's resort island of Phuket. The ceremony included Chinese and Buddhist rituals, as well as prayers by Christian, Hindu and Sikh priests. Two boats carrying tourists sank off Phuket in stormy weather on July 5. Everyone on one small boat was rescued, while 47 Chinese died on the double-decker tour boat Phoenix. The accident was one of Thailand's worst tourism-related disasters in recent years. Officials say both boats went to sea despite official warnings about the rough weather, and they have been pursuing legal action against those involved.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's Supreme Court denied a bail request Wednesday for Kem Sokha, the leader of the now-dissolved main opposition party who has been detained for nearly a year without trial on a treason charge. As with his previous bail hearings, he was not taken to court for what has previously been explained as security reasons. The ruling followed an apparent softening of the government's harsh stance toward critics. Four land rights activists were pardoned and released from prison on Monday, and two journalists who formerly worked for U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia were released Tuesday on bail as they await trial on espionage charges.