Four-way street

'China versus the Quad" emerged as the theme of a recent panel discussion about the four-nation grouping and how it could shape its relations with other major players in the Indo-Pacific region.

13 Sep 2021

NEWSPAPER SECTION: ASIA FOCUS

WRITER: ISMIRA LUTFIA TISNADIBRATA



The Zeronomics challenge

The transition to net zero carbon emissions is one of the biggest challenges facing our generation. The Paris Agreement -- intended to stave off the worst effects of climate change by keeping global warming below 2°C -- requires companies and economies to move at an unprecedented pace.

13 Sep 2021

Hydrogen belongs in Asean's energy mix

Almost 20 years ago, I was at the forefront of the rapidly emerging hydrogen economy. As an engineering research fellow at the US Department of Energy, I was part of a team tasked with demonstrating low-carbon methods of producing the energy-dense gas suitable for large-scale production.

13 Sep 2021

Next in healthcare

Most Southeast Asian nations were praised last year for their swift response to Covid-19, but now they're scrambling to curb a more infectious Delta variant that is surging across the world.

6 Sep 2021

AROUND ASIA

Buzz

Japan, the United States, Australia and India are finalising a plan to hold their first face-to-face summit under the Quad grouping in Washington on Sept 24 to discuss their ties to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, Japanese and US diplomatic sources said last Thursday. The leaders of the four nations are also expected to discuss Afghanistan, where China could recognise the new Taliban government. The development comes as US President Joe Biden has proposed the summit in hopes of facilitating cooperation among the four countries, and as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga seeks to assure that Tokyo's commitment to the Japan-US alliance will continue after he leaves office.

  • Philippines

    The daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday she would not run for higher office in next year's general election, a remark that did little to dampen speculation that she has her eye on the presidency. Sara Duterte-Carpio, 43, the mayor of Davao City, has topped all opinion polls this year on preferred candidates for the top post but has given mixed signals about the possibility of running. Her father is barred by the constitution from seeking a second term, but has accepted his PDP-Laban party's nomination to run for vice-president. "I am not running for a national position as we both agreed only one of us will run for a national position in 2022," Ms Duterte-Carpio told reporters, referring to her father.

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  • Malaysia

    A group of Malaysian mothers won a landmark legal challenge on Thursday, when the High Court overturned what they described as discriminatory citizenship rules affecting women who gave birth overseas. The rules had meant a woman with a foreign spouse who had a child abroad was barred from automatically passing on her Malaysian nationality. Similar restrictions did not apply to men who enjoy a straight path to citizenship for their offspring. "This judgement … marks one step forward to a more egalitarian and just Malaysia," said Suri Kempe, president of the NGO Family Frontiers.

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  • Indonesia

    The death toll from a blaze that tore through an Indonesian jail has risen to 44, as authorities pledged to look at whether more inmates could receive rehabilitation for drug-related offences to ease chronic overcrowding in the prison system. The fire on Wednesday at the penitentiary in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, broke out in a prison block housing more than three times the number of prisoners it was designed to contain. Built for 38 inmates, it held 122, mostly imprisoned for drug-related offences.

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  • Myanmar

    Myanmar's shadow government, formed by opponents of military rule, called for a nationwide uprising against the junta on Tuesday, amid reports of new protests and a flare-up in fighting between the army and ethnic military groups. Duwa Lashi La, acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), said the shadow government was launching a "people's defensive war", signalling what appeared to be a bid for greater coordination of armed militias and ethnic forces after months of fighting the military. Duwa Lashi La called for a "revolt against the rule of the military terrorists led by Min Aung Hlaing in every corner of the country". Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the NUG was trying to destabilise the country.

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  • Singapore

    Singapore said on Thursday it would start easing movement restrictions for migrant workers, mainly from South Asia, living in dormitories starting this week, more than a year after the curbs were imposed due to a surge in infections in their often cramped quarters. The announcement by the manpower ministry came after more than 90% of the workers in dormitories were fully vaccinated, higher than the city-state's overall rate of 81%. Under the new rules, up to 500 vaccinated migrant workers will be allowed to visit pre-identified public locations for six hours each week.

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  • Vietnam

    Vietnam plans to reopen the beach-fringed island of Phu Quoc to fully vaccinated foreign tourists from next month, authorities said, as the country looks at ways to revive an economy suffering from extended lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. The island, 10 kilometres off the coast of Cambodia, is expected to open for a trial period of six months, the tourism ministry said. Vietnam, which is currently closed to all visitors apart from returning citizens and investors, had managed to contain the virus for much of the pandemic but in the past three months has faced a surge in infections driven by the Delta variant.

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  • Cambodia

    The National Assembly of Cambodia has unanimously ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade agreement, which comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries. Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said the government has projected that the RCEP accord will boost the country's gross domestic product by 2%, exports by 7.3% and investment by 23.4%. The RCEP will enter into force 60 days after six Asean member states and three of the five non-Asean signatories ratify it. So far, the pact has been ratified by China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia.

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  • Japan

    Japan's popular vaccination minister, Taro Kono, on Friday announced his candidacy for leader of the country's ruling political party and, by extension, its next prime minister. Mr Kono's decision to throw his hat in the ring for the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), left open by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's decision to step down, takes the number of candidates to three. Mr Kono appears to have an edge on former foreign minister Fumio Kishida and former internal minister Sanae Takaichi. Nearly a third of respondents in a poll conducted by major domestic media last week said Mr Kono, 58, was the most suitable to succeed Mr Suga. The winner of the Sept 29 vote of party members and lawmakers will lead it in the lower house election that must be held by Nov 28.

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  • India

    More than 250,000 people were evicted across India during the coronavirus pandemic, and millions more are at risk of being uprooted as authorities eye projects for faster economic growth, housing rights campaigners have warned. From March 2020 to July 2021, authorities demolished more than 43,000 homes and evicted about 21 people every hour, according to the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN). In nearly all cases, officials did not follow due process including giving sufficient notice, and a majority of those evicted did not receive compensation from the government, it said in an annual report.

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  • China

    Chinese women will be the main drivers of an expected US$5.3-trillion boom in consumer spending over the next decade as their incomes rise, according to UBS Group. Consumption growth through 2030 will be 80% driven by expansion in women's income, said Christine Peng, head of Greater China consumer research at the Swiss investment bank. "We expect the effects of the significant progress in Chinese women's education in the past 20 years to materialise, improving their social standing, particularly their status in the workplace," she said. The estimated jump in household consumption in the next decade means China will contribute about 27% of global consumption growth by 2030, UBS forecast. That compares with a projected 19% for the US.

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  • South Korea

    South Korea is drawing up a plan on how to live more normally with Covid-19, expecting 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated by late October, health authorities said on Wednesday. "We'll review measures that will allow us to live more normally, but any such switch will be implemented only when we achieve high vaccination rates and overall (Covid-19) situations stabilise," said Son Young-rae, a senior health ministry official.

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  • Australia

    China is lobbying the Australian government for its support to join a multilateral regional trade pact — despite the worsening geopolitical dispute between the two countries that has spilled over into economic reprisals. "China's accession to the CPTPP would yield large economic benefits," Beijing's embassy in Canberra wrote in a submission to an Australian parliamentary inquiry into broadening the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. "China is committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind, and stands ready to work together with all the other parties to promote globalisation and regional economic integration."

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  • Hong Kong

    Organisers of an annual vigil in Hong Kong to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown were in court after being charged with offences under a Beijing-imposed national security law, as authorities push ahead with a campaign to silence a group known for its support of freedom of speech. Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, and deputies Albert Ho and Chow Hang Tung appeared in West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts on charges of inciting subversion. Ms Chow was denied bail, while Mr Ho and Mr Lee were already serving jail time on charges related to unauthorised protests. The government accused them of inciting people to "organise, plan, commit or participate in acts by unlawful means with a view of subverting the state power, namely overthrowing or undermining the basic system of the People's Republic of China", according to court filings.

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  • New Zealand

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday said her government has reached a deal with Spain to receive more than a quarter of a million additional doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine. New Zealand reported 13 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, taking the total number of cases in the latest Delta outbreak to 868.

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  • North Korea

    North Korea staged its first military-style parade since Joe Biden became US president, with leader Kim Jong-un presiding over an event where displays of his state's weaponry were scaled down from previous exhibitions. There were no ballistic missiles rolled through the streets and national unity was highlighted in the event broadcast on Thursday on state television. It took place as the state battles one of its worst food shortages since Kim took power about a decade ago. Mr Kim didn't speak but he waved as thousands of goose-stepping paramilitary and public security forces marched through central Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

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IN NUMBERS

Nareerat Wiriyapong

COMMENTARY

We need better ways to work

Having worked from home since mid-April, I have found myself feeling burned out. It is true that working from home helps corporate employees like me to cut travel time and expense, but that commuting time allows our brain to relax. Chatting with a friend on Line or checking on Facebook while heading home gives me a short break from thinking about work.

READ MORE >

Other News

13 Sep 2021

We need better ways to work

Having worked from home since mid-April, I have found myself feeling burned out. It is true that working from home helps corporate employees like me to cut travel time and expense, but that commuting time allows our brain to relax. Chatting with a friend on Line or checking on Facebook while heading home gives me a short break from thinking about work.

13 Sep 2021
6 Sep 2021

Extreme weather a wake-up call

Waking up last Wednesday, I was surprised to see pictures of flooding on the Facebook page of my friend, whose house is not far from my place. I live on the eighth floor of a condo so I had no clue there was flooding in my neighbourhood, though it had been raining heavily when I went to bed.

6 Sep 2021 1
6 Sep 2021

Baby Talk

Growing up by the beach and the South Pacific Ocean, it's impossible not to fall in love with the spectacular scenery and the sport that allows you to enjoy it the most: surfing. But Steven McArthur also loves science, biology in particular. That passion has sustained his trailblazing career as a fertility specialist for three decades.

6 Sep 2021
6 Sep 2021

Best foot forward for sustainability

With the tangible effects of climate change -- record-setting temperatures, devastating floods and other ecological disasters -- clearly being felt by people around the world, consumers are increasingly making sustainability part of their everyday lives.

6 Sep 2021
30 Aug 2021

Asean matters to America

The pandemic has been causing many parts of the world to drift away from each other amid distancing and lockdowns, but the US-Asean relationship is bucking the trend.

30 Aug 2021 1
30 Aug 2021

CLMVT strategy refined

With the Covid-19 pandemic expected to leave long-term impacts on global investment patterns and consumer behaviour, the CLMVT countries are counting on closer economic cooperation within Southeast Asia to help them benefit from each other's strengths.

30 Aug 2021
30 Aug 2021

Making Thai gems and jewellery shine again

Thailand's gems and jewellery industry, like many others, has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

30 Aug 2021
30 Aug 2021

Getting warehouse automation right

The growth of e-commerce, which accelerated further with the Covid-19 pandemic, has drastically changed the logistics landscape in Southeast Asia. With consumers today increasingly shopping online and expecting fast delivery, brands, their supply chains and logistics players are seeking solutions that will help them fulfil orders more efficiently.

30 Aug 2021
30 Aug 2021

US and China spar on Asean stage

While all eyes were on Kamala Harris when she visited Southeast Asia last week, China loomed large over the event, partly because the US vice president several times mentioned China in public comments.

30 Aug 2021 3
23 Aug 2021

This is no time for instability

Politics dominated last week's developments in the region. Malaysia, once a bastion of stability in Southeast Asia, now has its fourth prime minister in less than 40 months after Muhyiddin Yassin stepped down last Monday.

23 Aug 2021