January 22, 2020

Asia

DailyHum News
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As intensity fades, Hong Kong protesters mull tactics
Asia

HONG KONG: A sharp dip in the frequency and ferocity of Hong Kong's protests has raised questions over the future of the leaderless movement, rattled by a spike in arrests and increasingly aggressive police tactics. At a recent rally in the heart of Hong Kong's financial district, 36-year-old clerk Freesia held mixed emotions.Like so many Hong Kongers, he has spent much of the last seven months risking injury and prosecution by attending protests pushing for greater democracy and police accountability.But after 7,000 arrests and little sign of Beijing making any concessions, he wondered whether it was time for a change in tactics."We have to think of another way to fight for democracy instead of purely relying on street protests," he told AFP, waving a flag with the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times".
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Checking on friends and missing class: Protests bring fear to India's campuses
Asia

BENGALURU/ NEW DELHI: One of India's most famous universities is half-empty and some students who are on campus track each other on mobile devices to ensure people are safe, as violent clashes spill on to campuses that are seen as a hotbed of anti-government protests. The country has been rocked by demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new citizenship law that some say discriminates against Muslims. At least 25 people have died and thousands of people have been arrested.Many of the most visible and persistent protests have been in and around universities, and some students now fear for their safety following clashes with police and unidentified mobs in recent weeks."I don't think I can ever feel completely safe, either in the girls' hostel or on campus," said Nayla Khwaja, a student at New Delhi's renowned Jamia Millia Islamia university.
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Malaysia to follow in China’s footsteps with 5G airwaves on the cheap
Asia

Malaysia is offering airwaves for 5G networks at little cost to carriers to reduce the investment needed for the speedier wireless service, a model followed by China in its roll-out of the technology last year.The government will forgo revenue from spectrum auctions and instead will allocate airwaves to a consortium of carriers via a tender starting after April, Al-Ishsal Ishak, chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, said in an interview.Malaysia’s Mahathir backs…
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Wuhan virus: WHO holds on decision to declare global health emergency
Asia

As the number of cases from the Wuhan virus outbreak continues to rise, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday (Jan 22) that it needs "more information" before deciding whether to declare a global health emergency. (Video: AP, Reuters) Read more: https://cna.asia/2GfysCn Latest developments on the Wuhan virus outbreak: https://cna.asia/wuhan-virus
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Wuhan virus outbreak: Will the travel ban help?
Asia

Will the travel ban to and from Wuhan help curb the spread of the virus that has infected hundreds? Daniel Lucey, Adjunct Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center weighs in. For the latest developments on the Wuhan virus outbreak: https://cna.asia/wuhan-virus
DailyHum News
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Commentary: The success of movie Parasite shows the Korean wave is about to get bigger
Asia

LONDON: The international success of Parasite, the black comedy thriller by Bong Joon-ho, has been rather spectacular.It started with a slew of early season awards, including the prestigious Palme d'Or (by unanimous vote) at Cannes. It has now won Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language at the Golden Globes, multiple nominations at the Baftas, and six Oscar nominations, including in some of the most distinguished categories (film, director and screen play).If it wins an Oscar, it would be the first Korean film to do so and a testament to the rising popularity and success of the Korean film industry internationally.The estimated export value of the Korean film industry in 2018 was US$41.6 million. South Korea is the fifth leading film market by gross box office revenue after the US, China, Japan and the UK.
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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam insists to stay on to tackle crises
Asia

DAVOS, Switzerland: A confident Carrie Lam said on Wednesday (Jan 22) that Hong Kong had several crises to manage, but insisted she was staying on as the city's leader, dismissing calls to step down.At times laughing and smiling, Beijing-backed Lam told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos that she had to stay on to tackle an economic crisis and the coronavirus, which has killed 17 people in mainland China.Lam is on a mission to the Swiss Alps to reassure global leaders meeting there that the Asian financial centre is open for business, despite months of anti-government protests and "nothing is more important than the rule of law"."It would be very easy to just run away from a situation. It's very difficult to govern and implement policies. For those who understand the political structure, leaving that position vacant would only create more confusion," she said.
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Wuhan virus: Number of confirmed cases in China exceeds 570
Asia

BEIJING: China said on Thursday (Jan 23) that the number of people infected by a new coronavirus has hit 571, as authorities took a drastic step to contain the outbreak by suspending all flights and trains out of Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic.At least 17 people have died from the SARS-like virus, which has also spread to other major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, as well as provinces in northeastern, central, and southern China.The first case of the new virus was confirmed on Dec 31 and it has since been detected in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United States.The virus, which causes respiratory symptoms similar to a cold or flu, has been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, the largest city in central China with a population of about 11 million. That market has since been shut down.
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Wuhan: Virus-hit Chinese city to shut public transport
Asia

Wuhan, a Chinese city of nearly nine million people, is to temporarily shut public transport amid a virus outbreak.Those living in the city have been advised not to leave, in a week when millions of Chinese are travelling for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.The airport and train stations will be closed to outgoing passengers.Bus, subway, ferry, and long-distance transport networks will shut down from 1000 local time on 23 January.Those living in the city had already been told to avoid crowds and minimise public gatherings.The outbreak has killed 17 people, and there are more than 500 confirmed cases.The virus originated in a seafood market that "conducted illegal transactions of wild animals", authorities said.
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China halts flights and trains out of Wuhan as WHO extends talks
Asia

BEIJING: China said it was halting flights and trains from Thursday (Jan 23) out of Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the centre of a deadly SARS-like virus outbreak, as the UN extended emergency talks on the disease.The central city's special command centre against the virus also said that residents should not leave without a special reason and that the measures would be effective from 0200 GMT (10am Singapore time), according to state broadcaster CCTV.The move is meant to "resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading," the centre was quoted as saying.WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meanwhile said he was postponing a decision on whether or not to declare a global health emergency - a rare instrument used only for the worst outbreaks - saying he needed "more information".
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Pricier kumquat trees this Chinese New Year season
Asia

Auspicious plants, flowers and bright decorations are an essential part of Chinese New Year. One evergreen is the Kumquat tree, which symbolises good fortune, but consumers can expect to fork out a little more in 2020. Suppliers said the quality of Kumquat trees has been affected by rainy weather, and gardeners have also been hard to come by. So, some wholesalers have cut down on orders, which means trees that are small to medium in height may cost one to two dollars more. Larger kumquat trees, about 1.8 metres tall, are about 3% to 5% more expensive.
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Commentary: Snakes possible source of Wuhan virus but more research needed
Asia

PITTSBURG, Pennsylvania: Snakes – the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra – may be the original source of the newly discovered coronavirus that has triggered an outbreak of a deadly infectious respiratory illness in China this winter.The illness was first reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan, a major city in central China, and has been rapidly spreading. Since then, sick travelers from Wuhan have infected people in China and other countries, including the United States.Using samples of the virus isolated from patients, scientists in China have determined the genetic code of the virus and used microscopes to photograph it. The pathogen responsible for this pandemic is a new coronavirus.
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Bangkok street food stalls struggle to give up plastic bags as ban looms
Asia

Two things Thailand is famous for are its delicious street food and its wonderful beaches. Sadly, the first typically comes in plastic bags that often wash up on the second – not good for a country that relies on tourism for a fifth of its revenue.Thailand’s love of plastic bags helped make it the sixth-worst maritime polluter. The country generates more than 5,000 tonnes of plastic trash a day, three-quarters of which ends up in landfills.So the Thai government decided to clamp down, promising…
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Wuhan: The London-sized city where virus began
Asia

Wuhan may not be a well-known Chinese mega-city like Beijing or Shanghai.But the place where the coronavirus outbreak emerged is, in fact, a crowded metropolis with connections to every part of the globe.Estimates vary on the exact size of the population, with local government officials putting the figure at 11 million, though UN data from 2018 says 8.9 million people live in the central Chinese city. Either way, the city is around the same size as London, but much bigger than Washington DC. One estimate makes it the 42nd biggest city in the world, and the seventh biggest in China.And it's the size - and economic clout - of Wuhan that explains why the virus has travelled quickly across Asia, and even to the US.
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Three generations join Delhi women's citizenship sit-in
Asia

Since early December, India has witnessed widespread protests against a new citizenship law which many see as anti-Muslim and anti-constitutional.The Muslim suburb of Shaheen Bagh in Delhi has become a protest hub, with thousands of women camping out day and night for over a month, making it the longest sit-in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).The BBC's Shalu Yadav met three generations of one family who have been attending the protests regularly. Filming by Pritam Roy and Anshul Verma
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Back Hitler, bash Mao: the tweets of Philippine foreign secretary Teddy Locsin make Trump look diplomatic
Asia

He called an archbishop a “moron in a white mu-mu”, and addressed the vice-president as “hey, stupid”. He messaged a reporter, “did you get my f*** you?” And in Berlin last year he refused to take back statements endorsing Hitler and the Holocaust.Foreign secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr, the Philippines’ top diplomat, is not famed for his diplomacy.“Compared to other [foreign secretaries], he’s more aggressive in his tone, in language, maybe in his ideas,” said retired ambassador Lauro…
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Why is North Korea clamping down on ethnic Chinese over Lunar New Year?
Asia

For North Korea’s ethnic Chinese minority, the Lunar New Year is an especially important time of year. Over the annual holiday period, many members of the small minority travel back to China to visit family and to purchase goods that they can resell in North Korea for a profit. Ethnic Chinese in North Korea, called hwagyo in Korean, have for decades led tenuous lives as an ethnic minority in a decidedly homogeneous country. As such, hwagyo, who are estimated to number anywhere between 4,000…
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Hong Kong leader Lam insists to stay on to tackle crises
Asia

DAVOS, Switzerland: A confident Carrie Lam said on Wednesday (Jan 22) that Hong Kong had several crises to manage, but insisted she was staying on as the Chinese-ruled city's leader, dismissing calls to step down.At times laughing and smiling, Beijing-backed Lam told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos that she had to stay on to tackle an economic crisis and the coronavirus, which has killed 17 people in mainland China.Lam is on a mission to the Swiss Alps to reassure global leaders meeting there that the Asian financial centre is open for business, despite months of anti-government protests and "nothing is more important than the rule of law"."It would be very easy to just run away from a situation. It's very difficult to govern and implement policies. For those who understand the political structure, leaving that position vacant would only create more confusion," she said.
DailyHum News
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World Court to rule on emergency measures in Rohingya genocide case
Asia

THE HAGUE: The International Court of Justice on Thursday (Jan 23) will rule on a request for emergency measures by Gambia, which has filed a case against Myanmar against the Muslim minority Rohingya population.The small West African country launched the lawsuit at the UN's highest body for disputes between states in November, accusing it of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.The case has not yet been heard in full and the ruling on Thursday only deals with Gambia's request for so-called preliminary measures. It does not indicate how the court may rule in a final decision, which could take years to reach.Gambia has asked for a series of protective measures, the equivalent of a restraining order for states, including an immediate stop to the violence. It has also called on judges to order Myanmar to grant access to UN bodies investigating alleged crimes against Rohingya.
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Why a merger between Grab and Gojek makes sense
Asia

Does a merger between Grab and Gojek make sense? The short answer is yes. But the more complete answer is, “it depends.”
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Rohingya crisis: The Gambian who took Aung San Suu Kyi to the world court
Asia

Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou's actions brought Aung San Suu Kyi to The Hague to deny that her government was committing a genocide. As the UN's highest court is about to rule on the case, Anna Holligan takes a look at the man taking on the Nobel laureate. It was an unexpected detour that led Abubacarr Tambadou from his home in the tiny West African country of The Gambia to experience an epiphany on the edge of a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar. Listening to survivors' stories he said the stench of dead bodies began drifting across the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar. "I realised how much more serious it was than the flashes we'd seen on television screens," he told the BBC. "Military and civilians would organise systematic attacks against Rohingya, burn down houses, snatch babies from their mothers' arms and throw them alive into burning fires, round up and execute men; girls were gang-raped and put through all types of sexual violence."
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Chinese belt and road workers could spread coronavirus, Pakistanis fear
Asia

Pakistan has alerted hospitals and clinics across the country to the threat posed by the Wuhan coronavirus, amid fears that the thousands of Chinese and Pakistani nationals who travel between the two countries every month could help spread the disease.A letter issued by Pakistan’s health ministry on Wednesday said that following a report by the China National Health Commission that the virus could be transmitted between people, it was directing the Disease Surveillance Division and Central…
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Vladimir Putin says Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore not suitable model for Russia
Asia

Russia must remain a strong presidential republic, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday when asked about a possible transitional period once he steps down in 2024.He also rejected Singapore as a model for leadership transition in Russia.Last week Putin, who under the constitution cannot run for another presidential term, proposed constitutional changes that would give him scope to extend his grip on power after leaving the presidency.The suggestions include reducing the powers of the…
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Autism Resource Centre opens its largest social enterprise Professor Brawn cafe at Enabling Village
Asia

The Autism Resource Centre opened its third and largest social enterprise cafe on Jan 22. Unlike the other two, this outlet employs persons with all disabilities, and not just autism. Professor Brawn is a social enterprise cafe chain run by Autism Resource Centre (ARC). Its mission is to empower individuals with autism through training and employment. Persons with disabilities make up nearly 50% of the staff in all three cafes. Other than the food and beverage franchise, ARC also runs the "Art Faculty", a platform that promotes art talents of people with autism and pays them for their artwork.
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Wuhan virus: SIA, Scoot step up precautionary measures for all China flights
Asia

SINGAPORE: Precautionary measures for all flights from China are in place, Singapore-based airlines told CNA on Wednesday (Jan 22), as the world struggles to contain a deadly coronavirus following an outbreak in China. The virus which has been traced to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan has killed nine people and infected hundreds in China, while cases have been detected in parts of Asia and the US.With travel to and from China expected to increase ahead of the Chinese New Year, Singapore Airlines and Scoot have implemented measures that include standard protocol for suspected cases of the coronavirus, inflight health advisories and temperature screening of passengers on the ground.
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Singapore PM’s estranged nephew Li Shengwu will not ‘participate’ in contempt case, will unfriend cousin on Facebook
Asia

A grandson of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew says he will no longer take part in a contempt of court case brought against him by the city state’s Attorney General’s Chambers.Li Shengwu in a public Facebook post on Wednesday said the AGC had recently sought to strike out parts of his defence affidavit and this meant part of his court filings would not be considered at the trial. The AGC also wanted those parts to be sealed in the court record and not made public, he claimed.“This is…
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What's next for China-Taiwan cross-strait relations? | Insight | Full Episode
Asia

What will Tsai Ing-Wen's resounding victory in the recently concluded Taiwan's Presidential election mean for cross-strait relations? For more great INSIGHT into the top issues affecting Asia: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkMf14VQEvTYAVU8dsviDcQ4WbQ6D66T6 ========================== ABOUT THE SHOW: Insight investigates and analyses topical issues that impact Asia and the rest of the world. ========================== #CNAInsider #CNAInsiderInvestigates #Insight #Taiwan
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COE prices end mixed in Jan 22 bidding exercise
Asia

COE premiums closed mixed in the latest bidding exercise on Jan 22. Premiums for Category A cars closed at $35,010, down from $35,320, while COEs for larger and more powerful Category B cars rose to $37,705. Premiums for commercial vehicles also went up, closing at $25,001. Motorcycle premiums also rose, closing at S$4,610, while open category COEs fell to $37,500.
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Singapore, Malaysia to begin talks on delimiting maritime boundaries around Pedra Branca
Asia

Malaysia and Singapore will begin negotiations on delimiting the maritime boundaries around Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. This, according to a joint statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministries of both countries, after they met in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 21. A joint committee discussed the implementation of a judgement over the area, where the International Court of Justice awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore and Middle Rocks to Malaysia in 2008.
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Masks, disinfectants in low supply as China virus spreads
Asia

BEIJING: Pharmacies in Beijing and Shanghai were running low on surgical masks and disinfectants Wednesday (Jan 22) as a deadly new SARS-like virus spread ahead of the busy Chinese New Year travel period.More people than usual were seen wearing masks on the streets and several stores AFP visited had run out of stock - to the dismay of customers.The rush to step up protective measures against the new coronavirus came after it infected more than 400 people across China. The illness, first discovered in the central city of Wuhan, is spreading just as hundreds of millions of people take to packed trains, planes and buses around the country on their way to reunions with family and friends for the festive period.
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South Korea transgender soldier to sue over dismissal
Asia

A transgender soldier in South Korea says she will sue the army after it dismissed her for violating regulations following her sex change.Byun Hui-soo, 22, joined the army as a man but had gender reassignment surgery last year after suffering from gender dysphoria and mental health issues.She accused the military of "deep-rooted intolerance" of sexual minorities.South Korea remains conservative on matters of sexual identity.Ms Byun's case has led to debate over the treatment of transgender soldiers as well as those from the wider LGBT community. All able-bodied South Korean men are required to carry out military service for nearly two years. During an emotional 45-minute appearance, the staff sergeant said she had wanted to stay in the army after her operation, which took place in Thailand in November.
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Malaysian Air Force Chief in Singapore for two-day introductory visit
Asia

Singapore and Malaysia reaffirmed their defence ties on Jan 22, as the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force called on Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. During the meeting, they also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining strong ties between the air forces of the two countries. General Ackbal Abdul Samad is in Singapore for a two-day introductory visit. He also visited Paya Lebar Air Base and viewed the F-15SG fighter aircraft on static display.
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Wuhan virus not as serious as SARS, Singapore is well-prepared: Expert
Asia

Singapore's transport sector is doing its part to prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus. Companies say they are increasing communications to users and employees about precautions and practising good hygiene. Meanwhile, a professor who has done extensive research on the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak said the Wuhan coronavirus is not as severe. Professor Linfa Wang also added that Singapore is well-positioned to manage the Wuhan virus.
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Ministerial taskforce set up to deal with 'eventuality' of Wuhan virus in Singapore
Asia

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced on Jan 22 that a ministerial taskforce will be formed to deal with the Wuhan virus. It will be co-chaired by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. So far, Singapore has identified 10 suspect cases of the novel coronavirus. Seven have been ruled out, while three are still being tested. Meanwhile, Acting Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said Singapore must be ready to mount an effective response if the Wuhan virus comes to the Republic's shores.
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Malaysian rights group ‘absolutely stands by' claims on Changi prison execution methods, will not comply with correction direction
Asia

SINGAPORE: A Malaysian human rights group said on Wednesday (Jan 22) it would “absolutely stand by” its claims that prisoners on death row in Changi prison are executed brutally, adding that it will not comply with a correction direction issued by Singapore's POFMA (Protection From Online Falsehoods And Manipulation Act) Office. This came after Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said Lawyers for Liberty's (LFL) allegations were "untrue, baseless and preposterous", as it invoked the online falsehoods law against the group and three parties for spreading the allegations. In a statement, LFL's director Melissa Sasidaran said: “We absolutely stand by our statement that prisoners on death row in Changi prison are executed brutally and unlawfully by kicks to the neck whenever the rope breaks.”
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A Sydney welfare office held at gunpoint | The Negotiators | Full Episode
Asia

In 1992, police negotiators are called in to a local welfare office in Sydney. 27 people have been taken hostage by an armed couple threatening to blow everyone up unless their 3-month-old baby is returned to them. Watch more episodes! Kidnapped by Somali pirates https://youtu.be/mg0i7L_FFLw A South African diplomat taken hostage by Taiwan's most-wanted criminal https://youtu.be/NYl5_2Xs1po New episodes coming soon! Myanmar embassy in Thailand under siege (Coming Soon 23/01) =========== About The Negotiators: They face high-pressured situations as part of their job. Meet the uniquely-skilled people who have mastered the art of negotiating in high-stakes situations. =========== #CNAInsider #CNAInsiderDocumentaries #TheNegotiators #HostageSituations
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On the menu at Wuhan virus market: Rats and live wolf pups
Asia

SHANGHAI: The food market where China's deadly virus surfaced was a smorgasbord of exotic wildlife ranging from wolf pups to species linked to previous pandemics such as civets, according to vendor information and a Chinese media report.The Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan came under greater scrutiny on Wednesday (Jan 22) as Chinese officials said that the virus which has so far killed 17 people and infected hundreds may have originated in a wild animal sold at the food emporium.Past deadly epidemics have been blamed on wild animals - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was linked to Chinese consumption of civet meat - setting Chinese authorities up for potential embarrassment if lax supervision of wildlife trafficking is found at fault in the latest outbreak.
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Preserving the charm of Bangkok's Chinatown
Asia

Bangkok's Chinatown -- also known as Yaowarat in Thai -- has always been a draw for locals and visitors, even more so as Chinese New Year approaches. But, its atmosphere is starting to change as new shops, bars and cafes open in the area. CNA's Thailand correspondent Saksith Saiyasombut looks at whether the old neighbourhood can avoid losing its identity through gentrification.
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Cambodian opposition leader admits US funding, denies overthrow plot
Asia

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's opposition leader admitted in a 2013 video clip played in court on Wednesday (Jan 22) to receiving funding and advice from unspecified Americans but denied trying to overthrow the government of strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen.Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 and his party banned in a crackdown by Hun Sen on opposition, civil society groups and the media in the run-up to the 2018 parliamentary election, in which the ruling party won every seat.Sokha, 66, is on trial on charges of treason, accused of having conspired with the United States to topple Hun Sen. He denies the charges, calling them politically motivated. If convicted, Sokha would face up to 30 years in prison.Some reporters were allowed to view trial proceedings on Wednesday after being barred from sessions last week.
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More organisations thinking deeper into how to implement artificial intelligence responsibly: IMDA
Asia

Many more organisations are now looking into how they can implement artificial intelligence responsibly, and prioritise earning the public's trust in AI. Singapore-based start-up UCARE.AI has an AI cost predictor system that generates a tighter estimate of hospital bills, with more than 80% accuracy. UCARE.AI is one of 15 global companies that has adopted Singapore's Model AI Governance Framework. It has been highlighted by the IMDA as an example of how AI can be implemented to build trust in consumers.
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The shadow of SARS: China learned the hard way how to handle an epidemic
Asia

SHANGHAI: The emergence of a new virus in central China has brought back painful memories of another virulent respiratory disease that wreaked worldwide havoc and left the country's health authorities struggling to rebuild public trust.But global health experts said China has come a long way since 2003, when it was accused of trying to cover up a major outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a previously unknown virus believed to have emerged from the wet markets of Guangdong province before spreading into major cities. As many as 774 people died in an epidemic that reached nearly 30 countries. Now, nearly 17 years later, government officials insist they have learned from past mistakes as they try to contain the latest deadly viral pneumonia strain, which has infected 440 people, mostly in Wuhan city, and killed nine since it was first identified at the end of last month.
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No time to waste 'fighting yesterday's battles', says Vivian Balakrishnan on ties with neighbours
Asia

SINGAPORE: Rather than "fighting yesterday's battles", Singapore needs to look to the future to see how it can cooperate with immediate neighbours, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (Jan 22).Speaking at the Singapore Management University, Dr Balakrishnan noted that Singapore is "intertwined" with Malaysia and Indonesia and shares a "common destiny" with these countries."We share deep historical links with Malaysia and Indonesia, and our countries are economically, financially, socially and even related by blood," he said. "We are intertwined, our futures, we do have a common destiny within ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)."Dr Balakrishnan's speech was part of a series by Singapore's 4G leaders under the ambit of the SG Together initiative. The event was organised by the Ministry of Education’s Humanities Branch, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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International Chamber of Commerce joins Singapore's TradeTrust network
Asia

Singapore is partnering 18 major players to advance and anchor trust in digital trade globally, with an agreement signed today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Partners include the International Chamber of Commerce, which has 45 million institutional members. They can develop further platforms and capabilities on top of TradeTrust, an open source network pioneered by Singapore. This will make exchange of trade documents more timely, shaving costs for businesses.
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Man quarantined after Hong Kong's first preliminary positive test for Wuhan virus
Asia

HONG KONG: Hong Kong quarantined a 39-year-old man on Wednesday after the city's first preliminary positive result in a test for the new flu-like coronavirus found in an outbreak in central mainland China, authorities said.The tourist from Wuhan came to Hong Kong on Tuesday via high-speed rail from nearby Shenzhen and was detected having fever at the border. He was in stable condition in an isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Minister Sophia Chan said.The outbreak has spread to more Chinese cities including the capital Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, and cases have been reported outside the country's borders, in the United States, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.Nine people in China have died.
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CPF nominations can now be made online using SingPass
Asia

CPF nominations can now be made online using SingPass. CPF members will need to provide the particulars and contact of two witnesses, which can be friends or relatives. The witnesses will then receive the notification via email or SMS, to confirm the nomination. Over 900 members have used the service since it was made available on the CPF website in January.
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Wuhan virus deaths rise to 17, heightening global alarm
Asia

BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Deaths from China's new flu-like virus rose to 17 on Wednesday (Jan 22), heightening global fears of contagion from an infection suspected to have come from animals.The previously unknown and contagious coronavirus strain emerged from the central city of Wuhan, with cases now detected as far away as the United States. Officials believe the origin to be a market where wildlife is traded illegally.The latest death toll in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, had risen to 17 late on Wednesday, state television quoted the provincial government as saying. Hours earlier, officials had put the toll at nine dead, all in Wuhan, and more than 470 cases confirmed in China.Contrasting with its secrecy over the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, China has this time given regular updates to try to head off panic as millions travel at home and abroad for the Chinese New Year.
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Singapore must continue to support multilateralism, free trade: Vivian Balakrishnan
Asia

Sustaining a vibrant, successful economy and continuing to support free trade and multilateralism -- these are two of the ways highlighted by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on how Singapore will respond to thrive and survive in a turbulent world. He was sharing his vision for the country's future at the Singapore Management University. Dr Balakrishnan's speech was part of a series by Singapore's fourth-generation (4G) leaders. The event was organised by the Ministry of Education’s Humanities Branch, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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Geopolitical challenges between US and China remain even with trade deal: PM Lee Hsien Loong
Asia

Speaking at a dialogue session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said geopolitical confrontation and competition between the US and China is not likely to cool off, even with the most recent trade deal between the two sides. This is because the two global powers have to accommodate each other, and also face domestic pressures. Mr Lee also said that despite these geopolitical challenges, Singapore will remain open, and not be forced to take sides.
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Singapore launches second edition of framework to guide responsible use of artificial intelligence
Asia

An updated Model AI Governance Framework to guide responsible use of artificial intelligence was unveiled by Singapore at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan 21. It comes with case studies and a self-assessment guide for companies to take stock of their implementation. The updated framework provides guidelines so that decision-making by AI is consistent, regardless of scenarios. It also details how to communicate the use of AI to more stakeholders, beyond customers. 15 global companies have adopted the framework since its launch in 2019.
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Singapore 'fake news' law: First correction direction issued against Malaysia-based group
Asia

Singapore's fake news law has been invoked against a Malaysia-based group for the first time. Lawyers for Liberty, a non-governmental organisation, had claimed on Jan 16 that Changi Prison practises unlawful methods in judicial executions. The Singapore Home Affairs Ministry said the statement contains untrue and baseless allegations. The ministry said the group falsely asserted that a brutal execution procedure is carried out whenever the rope for hanging breaks. It clarified that the rope has never broken before. It said all judicial executions in Singapore are carried out in strict compliance with the law. Government website Factually has more information on the falsehoods.
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First woman enters Japan's submarine academy
Asia

TOKYO: The first female student was admitted to Japan's national naval submarine academy on Wednesday (Jan 22) after the end of a ban on women on the country's submarines.Risa Takenouchi, 26, entered the academy in the western region of Hiroshima along with about 20 men, after the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force overturned previous restrictions."I hope not to put too much pressure on myself as the first woman," she told reporters."Instead I hope to work with my classmates and train to become a submarine crew member."The navy has long only allowed men to serve on submarines, citing the difficulty of accommodating gender privacy concerns.But it changed the rules in late 2018, after assessing that gender-specific privacy needs can be met without major submarine remodelling, a navy spokesman told AFP.
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Cycling: Ewan grabs Tour Down Under lead in fire-ravaged Adelaide Hills
Asia

ADELAIDE: Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan surged past defending Tour Down Under champion Daryl Impey to win the second stage and seize the overall race lead on Wednesday (Jan 22).Ewan, a three-time stage winner in last year's Tour de France, mastered the uphill finish in Stirling to claim the 135.8-kilometre second stage - the first to run through the fire-ravaged district of Adelaide Hills - for his Belgium team Lotto Soudal.South Africa's Impey, chasing a third straight TDU title for Mitchelton-Scott, hung on for second and was boosted by a six-second time bonus with Australia's Cofidis rider Nathan Haas third.Ewan bided his time in landscape lined by charred trees as his former Mitchelton-Scott team ratcheted up the pace on the final climb and the Australian unleashed a perfectly timed sprint to take the win by several bike lengths.
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State of Asian startups 2020
Asia

In the first project of its kind, we gather sentiments from Asia’s startup founders and employees about their prospects for 2020 and other questions.
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Citizenship Amendment Act: Court refuses to put controversial law on hold
Asia

India's Supreme Court has refused to put on hold the implementation of a controversial new citizenship law. The court also asked the government to respond within a month to a clutch of petitions challenging the law's constitutional validity. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in December last year, prompting outrage and protests across India. The law offers citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from three nearby countries.Around 30 people have died in over a month of protests against the law. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court hinted that it may refer the law to a larger constitution bench in the future - but for now, it has only asked the government to reply to pending petitions.
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Japan wants Britain to extradite three suspects, amid Ghosn’s accusations of unfair treatment
Asia

The announcement that Japan and Britain are discussing the extradition of three British nationals wanted in connection with a 2015 robbery in Tokyo has generated heated debate online, as Japan’s treatment of foreign criminal suspects comes under the microscope.Daniel Kelly, 41, Joe Chappell, 33, and a man who has not been named as he was 19 when the crime was allegedly committed are accused of entering a jewellery shop in Tokyo’s Shibuya district in November 2015, assaulting a security guard,…
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Headmaster arrested after jewellery store robbery that left three dead
Asia

BANGKOK: A headmaster was arrested on Wednesday (Jan 22) as the key suspect in a shooting spree, police said, after a manhunt for the masked gunman who killed three people including a toddler in an armed robbery.The teacher was hauled in by commandos to a police station in central Lopburi province, under the glare of TV cameras and with bystanders cheering the arrest.The robbery on Jan 9 was caught on CCTV, showing an attacker storming a jewellery shop and shooting indiscriminately before fleeing with loot worth 500,000 baht (US$16,500). A two-year-old boy was walking hand-in-hand with his mother when he was shot - an image that prompted Thais to call for swift justice.National police chief Jakthip Chaijinda told reporters the man did not deny the crime, adding that he was "confident" that police had caught the right person.
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Australia fires: Malcolm Turnbull accuses Scott Morrison of 'misleading' nation
Asia

Australian PM Scott Morrison has been accused of lacking leadership during the bushfire crisis - by the man he replaced after a party room coup. Malcolm Turnbull, who was deposed in 2018, told the BBC that Mr Morrison had misled the country by "downplaying" the influence of global warming.Mr Morrison apologised last month for taking a US holiday amid the fires. He has insisted his policies are adequate.But Mr Turnbull said he "cannot explain" his successor's approach.In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Turnbull also said US President Donald Trump was the world's "leading climate denier" and that America's lack of leadership was "extremely damaging".Mr Turnbull said "everybody knew we were in a very dry time" before the fire season, and that it "was likely to be very bad".
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Malaysian single mother charged with murder of two-year-old daughter
Asia

A Malaysian single mother has been charged at the Magistrate’s Court in Johor Bahru with murdering her two-year-old daughter.Nurul Shamira Mazlan, 22, is accused of intentionally causing the death of her only child, Nur Shahana Abdus Quddus, who died at Sultan Ismail Hospital on January 13.She nodded her head after the charge was read out to her in front of magistrate Rashidah Baharom here on Wednesday.According to the charge sheet, Nurul Shamira, who is unemployed, committed the offence…
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South Korean transgender soldier pleads to stay in army
Asia

SEOUL: A transgender South Korean soldier who enlisted as a man and underwent a sex change last year pleaded tearfully to be allowed to stay in uniform Wednesday (Jan 22) after the military decided to discharge her.The country remains deeply conservative about matters of sexual identity and is less tolerant of LGBT rights than some other parts of Asia, with many gay and transgender Koreans living largely under the radar.Byun Hee-soo, a staff sergeant in her 20s, enlisted voluntarily in 2017, and went on to have gender-reassignment surgery in November in Thailand.She had expressed her desire to remain in the army but a military panel ruled on Wednesday that she will be compulsorily discharged.
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New China virus: 'Don't go to Wuhan, don't leave Wuhan'
Asia

Chinese health officials have given one of their first public briefings on the mystery China virus since the outbreak began.National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin said travellers should avoid Wuhan, and that Wuhan residents should not leave the city, citing a top infectious disease expert's advice as well as the latest advisory from Wuhan officials.There are now more than 440 confirmed cases of the illness in China, with cases also detected in other countries.
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Tsai urges WHO to include Taiwan after Wuhan virus case confirmed
Asia

TAIPEI: Taiwan should not be blocked from international bodies such as the World Health Organization, its president said Wednesday, a day after the island confirmed its first case of a SARS-like virus from China.The self-ruled island has found itself blocked from major world bodies under pressure from Beijing, which views Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it by force if necessary.The emergence of a new deadly coronavirus in China has highlighted the island's isolated existence, something President Tsai Ing-wen said should change."Political considerations should not surpass protection for the people," she told reporters, adding that Taiwan's 23 million inhabitants face the same health risks and threats as the rest of the world.
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No mutation of influenza virus despite growing cases in schools, says Malaysian Health Ministry
Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite an increasing number of influenza cases in Malaysia, there has been no change or mutation of the virus, said the Health Ministry on Tuesday (Jan 21) amid fears of an outbreak in schools.In a statement, Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said based on analysis of influenza activity trends, the consultation rate for influenza-like illness (ILI) and the admission rate of patients with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) have indeed increased compared to the previous week. “However, a lab surveillance by the Institute of Medical Research and the National Public Health Laboratory found that there were no signs of changes or mutation to the virus that is currently spreading,” he said.
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Wuhan virus: 2 more cases found in Thailand
Asia

BANGKOK: Two more cases of Wuhan virus infection were confirmed in Thailand this week, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced on Wednesday (Jan 22). One of the patients is a 73-year-old Thai woman who travelled back from Wuhan and is currently recovering at a hospital in Nakhon Pathom province. The other patient is a male Chinese tourist. The 68-year-old was detected with a high body temperature at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Jan 19. He is being treated at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute in Nonthaburi province. Anutin said both patients are receiving treatment at medical facilities outside the capital Bangkok. He added: “I’d like to ask the people to be confident in Thailand's medical system and public health, which is modern and ready to handle the situation, although the virus is a new strain. 
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Singapore, Malaysia continue discussions on implementation of international court ruling on Pedra Branca
Asia

SINGAPORE: Government officials from Singapore and Malaysia met in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (Jan 21) to continue discussions on the implementation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Judgment on Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.This was announced in a joint press statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Singapore, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on Wednesday. The statement said that the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Technical Committee (MSJTC) met to discuss related issues arising from the ICJ judgement on the case concerning the sovereignty over Pedra Branca, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. "This follows the desire expressed by the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Singapore at the 9th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat in Kuala Lumpur on Apr 9, 2019 for both sides to resolve outstanding bilateral maritime boundary delimitation issues in the area," it added. 
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Hong Kong protests: did police use Israel’s Cellebrite hacking tech to crack protesters’ smartphones?
Asia

A former Hong Kong police detective and forensics expert says the city’s police have used controversial phone-cracking technology produced by an Israel-based forensics company, offering a likely explanation for how investigators got around common security features like passwords and fingerprint readers to get evidence against thousands of protesters during the ongoing anti-government unrest.Frances Chu, who spent more than three decades in the force and is now a computer forensics consultant,…
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Australia fires: 'I can't explain Morrison actions'
Asia

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Scott Morrison has failed to act like a leader during the bushfire crisis. Mr Turnbull, who was deposed in 2018, tells the BBC that climate denial in Australia and globally flies in the face of the science.
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Meng Wanzhou 'irreplaceable' to company, says Huawei executive
Asia

Huawei's chief security officer has told the BBC the firm's chief financial officer is "irreplaceable".Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition from Canada to the US - where she is wanted on charges of fraud and sanctions violations. But the chief security officer, Andy Purdy, told the BBC that - although Ms Meng was crucial to the firm - there was a "succession plan" in place.Prior to her arrest, Ms Meng was a key figure in the Huawei's 5G efforts.The latest iteration of high-speed wireless technology, known as 5G, will increase mobile connectivity and data speeds around the world. The start of her hearing comes as Huawei battles US efforts to block it from participating in the development of 5G.
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‘No Chinese allowed’: Japanese shop criticised for coronavirus sign
Asia

The owner of a store in the Japanese mountain town of Hakone has been criticised for blocking Chinese people from entering his shop on the grounds they might be carrying the Wuhan coronavirus.“No Chinese are allowed to enter the store”, said a sign attached to the shop’s door. “I do not want to spread the virus.”The owner of the confectionery store, who has not been identified, told the Asahi newspaper that he used a translation application to write the message in Chinese, adding, “I want to…
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South Korea army to discharge transgender soldier who had sex change
Asia

A transgender soldier who enlisted as a man and underwent a sex change last year will be discharged from South Korea’s army, with the military saying on Wednesday she had violated regulations.The country remains deeply conservative about matters of sexual identity and is less tolerant of LGBT rights than some other parts of Asia, with many gay and transgender Koreans living largely under the radar.Sex, lies and video threats: online ‘sextortion’ in KoreaThe soldier – a staff sergeant in her 20s…
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Will Australian wine be latest casualty of devastating bush fires?
Asia

The devastating wildfires that swept through the east and south of Australia in recent months could have yet another consequence – spoiling some of the 2020 wine vintage in a country that counts China, the US and Britain among its biggest customers.While most vineyards escaped direct damage from the inferno that claimed almost 30 lives and destroyed more than 2,700 homes, some growers are anxious to see if grapes have been contaminated by direct exposure to the choking smoke which has blanketed…
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Wuhan urges people to stay away in bid to contain China virus
Asia

BEIJING: The Chinese city at the centre of a SARS-like virus outbreak has urged people to stay away, cancelling a major Chinese New Year event, as it strives to contain a disease that has spread across the country.The death toll from the virus, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, has reached nine while more than 400 people have now been infected in 13 provinces and municipalities. The disease is spreading just as hundreds of millions of people are travelling in packed trains, planes and buses across China to gather with friends and family for the Chinese New Year holiday, which starts on Saturday (Jan 25). Wuhan's mayor Zhou Xianwang urged residents to not leave the city and visitors to avoid it so that the possibility of transmission can be reduced.
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Zindagi Tamasha: Pakistan film suspended after religious uproar
Asia

Pakistan has suspended the release of an award-winning film, after an Islamist political party objected to its portrayal of a struggling cleric.The party said the film "might lead [people] to deviate from Islam and the prophet", with officials warning screening it could lead to unrest.Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life) is about a man shunned after a video of him dancing at a wedding goes viral.The film's director said he never intended to offend anyone.Before the suspension, renowned Pakistani filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat, who made the film, had said he, his family and team had been subjected to bullying and threats."Don't spew hate, fear and anger in the name of religion."The controversy over the film has again revealed the deep divisions in Pakistani society as religious groups have grown more vocal in recent years.
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Wuhan virus: What we know so far on its spread, preventive measures in China
Asia

With Chinese New Year in just a few days' time, Chinese authorities are ramping up measures to prevent the spread of the new SARS-like disease from spreading further. CNA's Olivia Siong with the details. More details: https://cna.asia/30HNqKI For the latest on the Wuhan virus: https://cna.asia/wuhan-virus
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Wuhan virus: North Korea bans tourists as Asia braces for Lunar New Year rush
Asia

North Korea’s decision to ban all foreign visitors as a precaution against China’s coronavirus outbreak will hit its economy hard as tourists from the mainland account for 85 per cent of its 100,000 tourists each year, analysts say.Tourist earnings contribute US$45 million to Pyongyang’s economy, which has limited sources of foreign exchange due to sanctions over its nuclear programme.“This is bad news for North Korea but I suspect the greater concern is the public health risk,” said Daniel…
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Japanese maker pushes umami overhaul for much-maligned MSG
Asia

TOKYO: Umami-bomb or toxic allergen? There are perhaps few condiments as controversial as MSG, but most scientists say it's safe, and now a Japanese firm is trying to give it a reputation overhaul.In much of the world, monosodium glutamate or MSG is a beloved ingredient. It's in stock cubes and potato chips, and sprinkled on everything from soups to salads, adding a savoury flavour sometimes referred to as umami or the "fifth taste".It was invented in commercial form in Japan by Kikunae Ikeda, who founded the firm Ajinomoto to sell the product at home and abroad.At Ajinomoto's factory outside of Tokyo, a steady stream of visitors join tours where they sample miso soup with and without MSG, and snap selfies with the firm's mascot - the red and white AjiPanda.
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Singapore uses fake news law against Malaysian watchdog that alleged ‘brutal execution methods’
Asia

Singapore’s home affairs ministry on Wednesday said it would invoke its fake news law against a foreign entity for the first time, demanding that a Malaysia-based non-profit organisation correct “spurious” allegations against the city state’s judicial execution methods.In a statement, the government said a “correction order” would be issued to legal reform watchdog Lawyers for Liberty under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) over a January 16 statement on its…
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Wuhan virus: Rise in cases due to better understanding of disease, says official
Asia

As the number of confirmed cases for the new coronavirus rises, authorities are gaining more knowledge of the disease, said Mr Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday (Jan 22). For the latest on the Wuhan virus outbreak: http://cna.asia/wuhan-virus
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China warns Wuhan virus could mutate and spread as death toll rises
Asia

BEIJING: China warned Wednesday (Jan 22) that a SARS-like virus that has killed nine people, infected hundreds and spread to other countries could mutate, as authorities scrambled to contain the disease during the Chinese New Year travel season.The new coronavirus has caused alarm for its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.The illness is transmitted via the respiratory tract and there "is the possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease", National Health Commission vice minister Li Bin said at a news conference in Beijing.The World Health Organization (WHO) was to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to determine whether to declare a rare global public health emergency over the disease, which has also been detected in the United States, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
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Earth's oldest asteroid impact 'may have ended ice age'
Asia

Scientists have identified the world's oldest asteroid crater in Australia, adding it may explain how the planet was lifted from an ice age.The asteroid hit Yarrabubba in Western Australia about 2.2 billion years ago - making the crater about half the age of Earth, researchers say.Their conclusion was reached by testing minerals found in rocks at the site.The scientists say the find is exciting because it could account for a warming event during that era.The Curtin University research was published in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday.The crater was discovered in the dry outback in 1979, but geologists had not previously tested how old it was.Due to billions of years of erosion, the crater is not visible to the eye. Scientists mapped scars in the area's magnetic field to determine its 70km (43 miles) diameter.
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Malaysia’s states set to rapidly age as they fail to retain young talent
Asia

By Diyana PfordtenMalaysia’s Penang state will overtake Perak within the next two decades to become the country’s “oldest”, according to new government statistics.At present, 15.3 per cent of Perak’s population are aged 60 or older, followed by Penang with 14.9 per cent, Melaka with 13.9 per cent, Perlis with 13.1 per cent and Kedah with 12.8 per cent.But new projections from Malaysia’s Department of Statistics predict that by 2040, the proportion of over 60s in Penang will rise to 26.2 per…
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Wuhan virus: US confirms first case
Asia

The United States on Tuesday (Jan 21) confirmed its first case of the Wuhan virus. CNA's Danielle Robertson explains how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to tackle the potential spread of the coronavirus. More about the US' first Wuhan virus patient: https://cna.asia/2v4gmAO A timeline of how the virus has spread: https://cna.asia/2THpdTn
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North Korea to ban tourists over Wuhan virus: Tour operator
Asia

SEOUL: North Korea will ban foreign tourists to protect itself against a new SARS-like virus that has claimed at least nine lives in China and sickened hundreds, a major tour operator said. Several nations including the US have stepped up checks on airport passengers to detect the coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, but a ban on tourists would be a first.The virus has caused alarm in China and abroad because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.The vast majority of foreign tourists to North Korea are Chinese, and their numbers have swelled significantly in the last year as relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have warmed, generating vital foreign currency for the isolated country.
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Macau confirms first case of Wuhan virus: Reports
Asia

HONG KONG: Macau confirmed on Wednesday (Jan 22) its first case of pneumonia linked to an outbreak of a new coronavirus strain in the central mainland China city of Wuhan, China's state news agency Xinhua said.The patient is a 52-year-old businesswoman from Wuhan, RTHK reported.She was hospitalised with pneumonia and fever on Tuesday, two days after arriving in Macau via a high-speed train to Zhuhai.The woman is believed to have spent most of her time in a casino while in Macau.The death toll from the new flu-like coronavirus in China rose to nine on Wednesday with 440 confirmed cases.The virus, originating in Wuhan at the end of last year, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
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Wuhan virus: Confirmed cases of infection in China soars past 400, death toll reaches 9
Asia

Chinese authorities said on Wednesday (Jan 22) that there are 440 confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus in 13 provinces across the country, and number of deaths has increased to nine. Evidence also shows there is "possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease", says one health official. More details: https://cna.asia/30HNqKI For latest on the virus outbreak: http://cna.asia/wuhan-virus
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Fast response: How Tokyo Olympics will cope if earthquake strikes
Asia

TOKYO: It's 9.15am on Sunday Jul 26 and excitement is building at the Tokyo Aquatics centre as the first swimming medals are up for grabs. Nearby at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, US superstar Simone Biles is warming up for her first appearance at the 2020 Olympics.Without warning a 7.3-magnitude earthquake rips through Tokyo Bay, the ground shakes violently causing citywide damage, widespread panic and multiple casualties. Fortunately, this is just an imagined scenario at a disaster drill carried out just before Christmas, as Tokyo 2020 organisers prepare for the worst, while hoping they will never have to do it for real.At the gymnastics venue in Tokyo Bay the public address springs into action in Japanese and English.
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North Korea bans foreign tourists over China coronavirus fears
Asia

North Korea is temporarily banning foreign tourists over fears of the spread of a deadly new coronavirus that originated in China, according to a foreign tour operator.The vast majority of tourists to North Korea come from China, Pyongyang’s main supporter.Wuhan coronavirus: a visual explainerYoung Pioneer Tours, an adventure travel company based in China, said in a statement that from Wednesday North Korea will temporarily close its borders to all foreign tourists as a precaution against the…
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Wuhan virus: Number of cases soars past 400 in China, death toll rises to 9
Asia

BEIJING: The number of deaths from a new SARS-like virus has climbed to nine as of the end of Tuesday (Jan 21) with 440 confirmed cases, Chinese health officials said as authorities stepped up efforts to control the outbreak by discouraging public gatherings in Hubei province.Another 2,197 cases of close contact with patients had been confirmed and there was evidence of "respiratory transmission" of the virus, National Health Commission Vice-Minister Li Bin told reporters.The number of cases compares with the total of more than 300 reported earlier as of Tuesday. The coronavirus is transmitted via the respiratory tract and there "is the possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease", said Li.
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China takes more measures to protect healthcare workers in Wuhan virus outbreak
Asia

BEIJING: China is taking more strict measures in hospitals to protect healthcare workers in the new coronavirus outbreak, and will increase training for healthcare workers nationwide, officials from the country's health commission said on Wednesday (Jan 22).Infection of medical staff in the outbreak shows there are loopholes in treatment methods, Jiao Yahui told a press briefing in Beijing.Fifteen healthcare workers in Wuhan have been diagnosed with pneumonia, with an additional worker suspected of having the disease, it was reported on Tuesday. One of them is in critical condition.Gao Fu, head of China's Disease Control Centre, also told the briefing that authorities are still learning about the new virus, when asked to compare its deadliness to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003.
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New China virus: Officials warn it 'could mutate and spread further'
Asia

A new virus that has killed nine people could mutate and spread further, Chinese health officials have warned, as they step up containment measures.There are now 440 confirmed cases of the outbreak that originated from a market with illegal wildlife in Wuhan.It has now spread to several Chinese provinces as well as overseas including to the US, Thailand and South Korea.Authorities admitted that the country was now at the "most critical stage" of prevention and control. On Tuesday, it was confirmed that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place.In one of the first public briefings since the beginning of the outbreak, National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin said there was evidence that the disease was "mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract".
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Commentary: The Wuhan virus clock is running down on scientists
Asia

JAKARTA: Scientists are still trying to analyse a new strain of coronavirus that caused a pneumonia outbreak in China, with over 400 people in China infected and nine people dead as of Wednesday (Jan 22).The outbreak started in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province in December. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on Monday (Jan 20) that cases have been found in Beijing and Shenzen, adding to last week’s confirmed cases in Thailand and Japan from people who had travelled from Wuhan.The WHO refers to the unknown virus as novel coronavirus. The WHO states the most likely source of this is an animal, and there is some limited human-to-human transmission between those in close contact. 
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Singapore invokes online falsehoods law against Malaysian rights group's 'preposterous' claims on execution methods
Asia

SINGAPORE: Claims by a Malaysian human rights group that Singapore carries out "brutal" executions are "untrue, baseless and preposterous", said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which on Wednesday (Jan 22) invoked the online falsehoods law against Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and three parties for spreading the allegations.Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has instructed the POFMA (Protection From Online Falsehoods And Manipulation Act) Office to issue a correction direction against LFL’s statement on its website, Kirsten Han’s Facebook post, an online article by The Online Citizen and a Facebook post by Yahoo Singapore, said MHA in a press release.They will be required to carry a correction notice, stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods.
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Wuhan virus compounds Hong Kong's economic woes
Asia

HONG KONG: The emergence of a SARS-like virus in China is the last thing Hong Kong's struggling economy needs, analysts say, as the city reels from the twin storms of the global trade war and months of political unrest.The semi-autonomous financial hub is currently on high alert for any appearance of the new coronavirus, which first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread to the United States and around Asia.In 2003, nearly 300 people were killed in Hong Kong during an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which also began on the mainland and hammered the city's economy as tourists arrivals plunged."We are on extreme high alert and preparing for the worst," chief secretary Matthew Cheung told reporters on Tuesday. "We have not lowered our guard."
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Apple-supplier Foxconn tells employees not to visit China over holiday amid concerns over Wuhan virus
Asia

TAIPEI: Foxconn, a key supplier to Apple, has asked employees from its Wuhan plant in China who are in Taiwan for the Chinese New Year holidays to stay back given the new coronavirus outbreak in the city.Authorities have confirmed more than 400 cases of the virus in China, mostly in the central city of Wuhan where it originated at the end of 2019. So far nine people have died.The virus, which health officials have said can be passed from person to person, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai, with cases also confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, as well as Taiwan.Foxconn, however, said no health problems had been found so far in its Wuhan-based employees who had come back to Taiwan.

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