October 26, 2020

Asia

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US announces US$2.4 billion sale of coastal defence systems to Taiwan
Asia

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday announced it had approved a US$2.4 billion sale of 100 Harpoon coastal defence systems to Taiwan, a move sure to anger Beijing following Washington's US$1 billion missile deal last week with the self-ruled island.The proposed sale of the Harpoon systems "will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance ... and progress in the region," the State Department said in a statement.The deal involves 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS), which includes 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles with a maximum range o125 kilometres.The missiles, manufactured by Boeing, can be positioned on fixed platforms or mounted on trucks.
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US presidential election: Chinese leaders watching campaign and outcome very closely
Asia

Countries around the world are tracking the US presidential election campaign and awaiting the result -- China among them. Under the Trump administration, relations between Washington and Beijing have plunged dramatically. With tit-for-tat actions on a number of fronts, from trade to visa restrictions for journalists, students and scholars. But even if Mr Biden wins, relations between the US and China will almost certainly remain sour. Despite a polarised political climate, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have overwhelmingly been in favour of tougher actions against Beijing.
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COVID-19: Malaysian families board yacht to see loved ones in Singapore
Asia

Some Malaysian families have been living apart for months -- separated by the Causeway -- due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But some were finally able to catch a glimpse of their loved ones as their families sailed on a yacht. Many are using tech to stay in touch, but it's just not the same.
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Singapore to plant 170,000 more trees in industrial estates by 2030
Asia

Working in industrial estates is about to get cooler and more conducive with the planting of more trees. There are plans to plant 170,000 more trees by 2030, adding to the current 90,000. This could cool surfaces by up to 6°C, according to studies by NParks. At Jurong Island, about a hundred trees were planted by 32 companies from the island, members of the community and National Development minister Desmond Lee. By 2022, about 21,000 more will be planted. This is the first community tree-planting event in an industrial estate.
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Singapore government sets aside S$49 million for low-carbon energy research
Asia

Singapore has unveiled plans to use the sun and the sea to become a "bright green spark". Another way for Singapore to achieve its green goals is to look to low-carbon energy solutions. The government has set aside S$49 million to fund low-carbon energy research, as well as test-bedding efforts in hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage. Dr Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU, discussed the significance of the funding.
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Pollution in India’s capital worsens as Hindus burn effigies during festival
Asia

The appalling air quality in India’s capital turned a lot worse over the weekend as Hindus in New Delhi burned effigies of the mythological demon king Ravana and lit firecrackers to celebrate the triumph of good over evil during the Dussehra festival.As pollution spiked on Monday morning, India Gate – a monument near the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office – was blanketed in smog, and the mega-city’s 20 million people breathed in “very poor” air, even “hazardous” in some places.US President…
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Japan vows to become carbon neutral by 2050
Asia

In his first policy speech since taking office, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed that the country will become carbon neutral by 2050. Japan is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The government had previously only pledged to go carbon neutral sometime in the latter half of the century. Japan is heavily reliant on coal. That was made worse after some nuclear reactors were shut down following the earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011.
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Singapore making plans to host next Shangri-La Dialogue: Dr Ng Eng Hen
Asia

Singapore is making concrete plans to host the next Shangri-La Dialogue. The defence summit was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen gave the update on Oct 26, during a military graduation ceremony at SAFTI Military Institute. He also intends to be in Vietnam for the upcoming ADMM-Plus event. It's part of stepped-up efforts in defence diplomacy, so that countries don't neglect existing security challenges despite the pandemic.
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‘Where’s our democracy?’: Thai protesters march on German embassy, urge Berlin to pressure king
Asia

Thailand’s pro-democracy protesters massed outside the German embassy in Bangkok on Monday night as their movement sought a wider international spotlight, pulling the monarchy deeper into the heart of their demands for reform. Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends much of his time in Germany, angering many Thais who receive snippets of his high living through the European country’s tabloid press. Now, the protesters are demanding accountability of the king, with about 10,000 of them…
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UMNO to continue backing Muhyiddin's government, will not work with PKR and DAP: Ahmad Zahid
Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) will maintain its support for Muhyiddin Yassin's government, it said early Tuesday morning (Oct 27) after a supreme council meeting on Monday night.UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the council agreed the party would not cooperate with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in the opposition."UMNO members of parliament will continue to support the Perikatan National (PN) government," Zahid said in his statement."UMNO urges for the principle of cooperation to be improved, which should revolve (around) respect and political consensus," he added. The party called for a national reconciliation initiative or a peace agenda to be quickly undertaken.
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National Museum receives over 180 submissions documenting Singaporeans' experiences during COVID-19
Asia

The National Museum of Singapore has received more than 180 submissions so far, following its joint call with the National Library Board for public contributions of materials that document their experiences during the COVID-19. Among them are these dining plates painted by Daphane Loke, owner of local french joint Saybons, who has had to close three of five outlets during the height of the pandemic. National Museum of Singapore assistant curator Miriam Yeo and Yeo-Mama Batik founder Desleen Yeo shared their thoughts on the submissions and how they will be documented.
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COVID-19: Singapore begins antigen rapid testing at selected large-scale events
Asia

While getting swabbed for COVID-19 may still be a novel experience for many, it may not be the case soon. Singapore has begun pre-event rapid testing for selected large-scale events. At the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), onsite Antigen Rapid Testing (ART) was done for about 150 participants as the conference opened on Oct 26. Participants can only receive an event badge after getting a text message that says their COVID-19 results are negative.
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Singapore's industrial production jumps 24.2% in September on strong pharmaceutical output
Asia

Singapore manufacturing output surged by 24.2% in September 2020, marking the second month of double-digit growth. Biomedical manufacturing jumped 89.8% on-year, fuelled by higher demand for items like medical instruments. Pharmaceutical output also more than doubled, while electronics picked up 30.1% due to higher demand for cloud services and 5G-related technologies.
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Most Singapore clinics unaffected by suspension of flu vaccines after deaths in South Korea
Asia

Most GP clinics and medical groups in Singapore appear unaffected by the Ministry of Health's suspension of two flu vaccines. Those CNA spoke to said they do not carry the brands and are well-stocked with alternatives. The use of the two vaccines was "temporarily ceased" in Singapore as a precautionary measure after deaths were reported in South Korea following vaccinations. South Korean health authorities said they have found no direct link between the deaths and the flu shots.
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Use of TraceTogether now mandatory for entry to cinemas in Singapore
Asia

On Oct 26, many moviegoers were unaware that they had to use the TraceTogether app or token to get into cinemas. TraceTogether is now mandatory at cinemas, although there's a three-week grace period until Nov 16. People will need to use TraceTogether to access more public places by end-2020. The authorities are ramping up production of tokens. Long lines were spotted at several community clubs, despite the assurance that there will be enough, with distribution taking place progressively.
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EMA, Keppel O&M award research grant to pilot floating energy storage system
Asia

Envision Digital has been awarded a research grant from the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Keppel Offshore and Marine (Keppel O&M) to pilot an energy storage system that will float on sea. Soon to be located at Keppel Shipyard in Tuas, it will testbed a concept that could store hydrogen, LNG and solar energy by stacking them. Spanning the size of half a football field, it will have the capacity to power over 600 four-room HDB flats a day.
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Singapore's smallest premature baby, weighing 345g, beats the odds to survive
Asia

Born at 23 weeks and six days in March, Nur Zaiya weighed just 345 grams, or a bottle of peanut butter. Since then, she's gained more than 10 times her birth weight -- becoming possibly the tiniest newborn to survive and be discharged in Singapore. She had been delivered via an emergency c-section after her mother Rohani Mustani experienced abdominal pains and was found to have extremely high blood pressure. Over 131 days, Nur battled for her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the National University Hospital.
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Thai protesters, 'human beings, not dust', march in challenge to king
Asia

BANGKOK: Describing themselves as "human beings, not dust", thousands of Thai protesters demanding reforms of the monarchy marched to the German embassy in Bangkok on Monday (Oct 26) to put pressure on King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends much of his time in Germany.Germany has said it would be unacceptable for King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 68, to conduct politics there and Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said the European country continued to look into his behaviour during long sojourns in Bavaria.Months of student-led protests that began by demanding the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, 66, a former military ruler, have become the biggest challenge in decades to a monarchy that the Thai constitution says must be revered.
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Vaani Kapoor on shooting Bell Bottom and how Ghungroo changed her life
Asia

Bollywood actress Vaani Kapoor speaks to Haroon Rashid about her experience of shooting the first Hindi film to be made during the pandemic, Bell Bottom. They discuss what it was like on set, working with Akshay Kumar, how the film fits into Vaani's wider ambitions and how last year's Ghungroo from War changed her life.
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In Japan, ‘Demon Slayer’ kills at box office as movie-goers seek coronavirus escape
Asia

An animated movie with parallels to some of the challenges that many ordinary Japanese people are facing is setting box office records and is on course to be the most profitable domestically produced film of all time. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is based on a hugely popular manga series that has also been adapted for television. The release of the big-screen version had been eagerly awaited by fans, but the Japanese movie industry also had high hopes for it after being hit hard by restrictions…
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