January 23, 2021

Asia

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Malaysia's 'Uncle Potato' helps the needy for as little as RM0.10
Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Daily necessities at RM0.10 (US$0.03), a taxi ride at RM0.10 and a transit hostel that costs RM1 a day. These are some of the philanthropic initiatives by Kuan Chee Heng, 57, who founded non-governmental organisation (NGO) Community Policing Malaysia to assist the less fortunate. For events dubbed "10 sen pasar (market)", he receives pre-loved items from the public, ranging from clothes to appliances and even a car one time, and then "sells" them to residents at RM0.10 each in less well-off communities. "Actually, we started by giving food, then we found out people in these communities needed other things," Kuan told CNA.  "The nominal 10 sen is so that we don't give the items out for free, otherwise some would not treasure them," he said. 
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Endangered Siamese crocodile in rare sighting at Thai national park
Asia

BANGKOK: The critically endangered Siamese crocodile has been spotted for only the second time in a decade at Thailand's largest national park, according to photos released on Saturday (Jan 23).The freshwater reptile - snapped by camera traps sunning itself at Kaeng Krachan National Park near the Thai border with Myanmar - was once ubiquitous across Southeast Asia, but its numbers have plummeted in the region.It is currently listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list.National park officials estimate only about 20 remain in the wild because of hunting and habitat loss, but on Saturday the nature reserve shared a rare spot of good news.The crocodile - never seen before by officials - was captured by cameras slithering out of the water, before it parked itself on the river bank open-jawed under the sun.
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China law empowers coast guard to use force amid disputes
Asia

BEIJING: China has authorised its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy structures on features it claims, potentially raising the possibility of clashes with regional maritime rivals.The Coast Guard Law passed on Friday (Jan 23) empowers the force to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organisations or individuals at sea".The law also authorises the coast guard to demolish other countries’ structures built on reefs and islands claimed by China and to seize or order foreign vessels illegally entering China’s territorial waters to leave.China's coast guard is the most powerful force of its kind in the region and is already active in the vicinity of uninhabited East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing, as well as in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety. 
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Malaysia reports record 4,275 new COVID-19 cases
Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia health authorities reported 4,275 new coronavirus cases on Saturday (Jan 23), the highest daily infections so far, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 180,455.The country also reported seven new fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to 667.The record number comes just a week after the previous daily high of 4,029 cases was reported on Jan 16, said the country's health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. "Of the total number of new cases today, 4,264 are local transmissions, while 11 are imported cases," he said in a statement on Saturday."This brings the cumulative number of new cases to 180,455 cases, with 42,769 of them still active." He added that there were 260 cases being treated in the intensive care unit, including 103 who require respiratory assistance.
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Vietnam beat coronavirus. With its economy booming, can it face up to China?
Asia

Vietnam’s Party Congress beginning on Monday will elect the country’s next leaders and unveil its economic goals. Held amid a pandemic and uncertain geopolitical winds, the once in five years event is also widely seen as a coming-of-age moment for Vietnam, given its effective handling of the coronavirus and the strong growth of its economy in recent years.While the case for the Southeast Asian country to be considered a rising middle power is growing, experts warn it faces challenges ahead,…
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Hong Kong orders thousands to stay home in 2-day COVID-19 lockdown
Asia

HONG KONG: Thousands of Hong Kong residents were locked down Saturday (Jan 23) in an unprecedented move to contain a worsening outbreak in the city, authorities said.The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan in Kowloon from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test.Officials said they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district".The government said in a statement there are 70 buildings in the "restricted area". Sewage testing in the area had picked up more concentrated traces of the virus, prompting concerns that poorly built plumbing systems and a lack of ventilation in subdivided units may present a possible path for the virus to spread.
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A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in COVID-19 cases
Asia

SHANGHAI: China on Saturday (Jan 23) reported a slight increase in new cases of COVID-19 as it marks the anniversary of the world's first coronavirus lockdown, in the city of Wuhan where the disease emerged in late 2019.The National Health Commission said 107 new COVID-19 cases had been identified on Saturday, up from 103 cases the day before.The commission said in a statement that 90 of the new cases were local infections. The northeastern province of Heilongjiang recorded 56 new cases and neighbouring Jilin province had 13. Both Beijing and Shanghai recorded three new cases each, and the province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, recorded 15 new cases.The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 99 from 119 cases a day earlier.
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Coronavirus: Japan death toll tops 5,000; Malaysia cases hit new daily high
Asia

The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Japan surpassed 5,000 on Saturday as the country struggles to curb a third wave of infections, according to a Kyodo News tally.The pace of deaths linked to the virus has accelerated recently, forcing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to declare a state of emergency in 11 of the country’s 47 prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, earlier in the month.Of the total, more than 3,000 deaths were reported since the ongoing resurgence emerged in…
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Sri Lankan health minister who took ‘magic potion’ tests positive for Covid-19
Asia

Sri Lanka’s health minister, who publicly endorsed sorcery and magic potions to stop surging coronavirus infections in the island, has tested positive for the disease and will self-isolate, officials said Saturday.Pavithra Wanniarachchi had publicly consumed and endorsed a magic potion, later revealed to contain honey and nutmeg, manufactured by a sorcerer who claimed it worked as a lifelong inoculation against the virus.She also poured a pot of “blessed” water into a river in November after a…
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Sri Lankan health minister tests positive for COVID-19 after endorsing sorcery
Asia

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's health minister, who publicly endorsed sorcery and magic potions to stop surging coronavirus infections in the island, has tested positive and will self-isolate, officials said on Saturday (Jan 23).Pavithra Wanniarachchi had publicly consumed and endorsed a magic potion, later revealed to contain honey and nutmeg, manufactured by a sorcerer who claimed it worked as a life-long inoculation against the virus.She also poured a pot of "blessed" water into a river in November after a self-styled god-man told her that it would end the pandemic.The island nation of 21 million on Friday approved the emergency use of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University only hours after Wanniarachchi tested positive, officials said.
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South Korea orders Japan to pay damages to group of former ‘comfort women’ over treatment in military brothels
Asia

A South Korean court ruling that ordered the Japanese government to pay damages to a group of former “comfort women” over their treatment in Japanese military brothels became final Saturday as a deadline for Tokyo to appeal expired.The Japanese government had until Friday to appeal the first such ruling in South Korea, but it refused to participate in the case from the outset, citing sovereign immunity – a principle under international law that allows a state to be shielded against the…
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'Uncle Kentang' bantu golongan miskin Malaysia dengan bayaran serendah 10 sen
Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Barangan keperluan harian 10 sen (US$0.03), perkhidmatan teksi 10 sen dan rumah transit yang mengenakan bayaran RM1 sehari.Semua ini merupakan sebahagian daripada usaha murni Kuan Chee Heng, 57, pengasas Persatuan Kepolisan Komuniti Malaysia iaitu sebuah organisasi bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang membantu golongan kurang bernasib baik.Untuk Pasar 10 Sen anjuran beliau, Kuan menerima barangan terpakai yang disumbangkan oleh orang ramai termasuk pakaian, perkakas, malah pernah juga sebuah kereta. Barangan tersebut kemudian “dijual” kepada penduduk di komuniti kurang berkemampuan pada harga 10 sen satu.“Asalnya kami hanya memberi makanan, kemudian kami dapati penduduk di komuniti ini memerlukan perkara lain juga,” Kuan memberitahu CNA.
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When President Biden gets tough on China, can US count on Vietnam?
Asia

Vietnam must navigate the troubled relationship between the United States and China – its two most important trade partners – at a particularly complex time, just as new leaderships emerge in both Hanoi and Washington.With Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president and a leadership shake-up expected at the Vietnamese Communist Party’s National Congress, which starts on Monday, experts say there will be opportunities in the months ahead to strengthen the relationship between Vietnam and its former…
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Ships continue to transport coal to China, despite ban on Australian imports
Asia

After loading up with coal, the DZ Weihai slipped into the turquoise waters off the coast of Australia earlier this month and began a 14-day voyage to the southern Chinese port of Yangpu. How long the ship waits to discharge its cargo upon arrival is anyone’s guess.Despite a Chinese ban on coal imports from Australia that has left about 70 ships, 1,400 seafarers and 6.4 million tons of the fuel in offshore limbo, some vessels continue to make the voyage.While the stranded cargoes and crew are…
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Inside the world's biggest vaccine factory, India's Serum Institute
Asia

PUNE, India: The tiny clinking vials supervised by silent PPE-wearing technicians belie the excitement inside the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, a major player in the fight against coronavirus.The firm, founded in 1966 in the western city of Pune, is producing millions of doses of the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, for India and much of the developing world.Unlike the rival Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Covishield can be stored and transported using standard refrigeration.It is also significantly cheaper than the vaccines developed by Pfizer or the US firm Moderna, making it better suited for countries with poorer populations and rusty infrastructure.
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Enter 2021’s newest decacorn
Asia

Lalamove’s series F funding round leads this week’s top fundraises.
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'Everybody determined' to get Tokyo Games going: IOC chief
Asia

TOKYO: The entire Olympic movement is united in its determination to ensure the Tokyo Games happen in July and August, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in a video message to mark the six-month countdown to the opening ceremony.Britain's Times reported on Friday (Jan 22) that Tokyo was looking to get out of hosting the Games, drawing sharp criticism and flat denials. The Japanese government dismissed the report, while Japan Olympic Committee head Yasuhiro Yamashita told Reuters it was a "fabrication" and "wrong".Bach did not directly address the Times report, nor mention by name the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the postponement of the Games from last year, but said he was confident that they would go ahead from Jul 23 to Aug 8.
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Biden administration to review US-Taliban withdrawal deal
Asia

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration said on Friday (Jan 23) it will review a landmark US deal with the Taliban, focusing on whether the insurgent group has reduced attacks in Afghanistan, in keeping with its side of the agreement.Washington struck a deal with the Taliban in Qatar last year, to begin withdrawing its troops in return for security guarantees from the militants and a commitment to kickstart peace talks with the Afghan government.But violence across Afghanistan has surged despite the two sides engaging in those talks since September.President Joe Biden's newly appointed national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, spoke with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib and "made clear the United States' intention to review" the deal, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.
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How a US woman’s ‘elevated lifestyle’ tweet showed what Bali really thinks of privileged Western tourists
Asia

The social media firestorm ignited by an American “digital nomad” who promoted the perks of living in Bali for foreigners has revealed the frustrations that many Indonesians feel about the local government’s relentless pursuit of tourism to drive the economy, which has left residents with little else now that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted travel.Indonesian internet users this past week accused 28-year-old Kristen Gray – who went on Twitter to promote her US$30 e-book on how to move to…
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Why are Chinese car makers setting up shop in Pakistan?
Asia

A Pakistan-Chinese automotive joint venture recently sold out six months’ production of its first compact sedan car within five days of market launch, a success that investors and analysts believe could pave the way for Pakistan to become an export base for Chinese right-hand-drive vehicles. The stock-clearing sale of 15,000 Chang’an Alsvin passenger vehicles is the latest in a series of headlines about joint ventures between privately held Pakistani conglomerates and Chinese state-owned…
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Pride and caution in Wuhan on COVID-19 lockdown anniversary
Asia

WUHAN, China: Exactly one year after it thrust the word "lockdown" into the global conversation, Wuhan passes the anniversary on Saturday (Jan 23) with a mix of pride at recovering from the coronavirus and caution over a possible relapse.A year ago on Saturday, Wuhan shocked the world by ordering 11 million anxious citizens be confined at home, beginning a traumatic 76-day lockdown that underscored the growing threat of a then-mysterious pathogen emanating from the city.One by one, adjacent metropolises in hard-hit Hubei province quickly followed suit, as did cities and entire countries worldwide as COVID-19 went global. But while the world's pandemic struggles continue, Wuhan today is nothing like that locked-down ghost town of a year ago, with traffic humming, sidewalks bustling, and citizens packing public transport and parks.
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Animal activist in China's Wuhan happy to be back to routine rescues
Asia

WUHAN: On the anniversary of the world's first coronavirus lockdown, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, life for animal lover Du Fan has returned to something like normal.That means Du and his organisation, the Wuhan Small Animals Protection Association, can focus their energy on rescuing, caring and finding homes for stray cats and dogs.Twelve months ago, however, Du, 38, and his group were faced with a whole new problem - saving pets who had homes, but whose owners were unable to provide them with daily necessities when the city where the coronavirus emerged went into lockdown.So they began a project that eventually led to them saving more than 10,000 pets from more than 5,000 households, Du said.
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