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02.04.21 - 08.04.21 Sup SEAkers!



Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat is stepping aside as leader of the People's Action Party's fourth-generation team. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO



This Week's News Spotlight:

ASEAN-UK Troika Dialogue focuses on post-pandemic recovery | ASEAN leaders to meet over Myanmar, chair Brunei says | Vietnam partners South Korea’s Naver to drive AI ambitions | Thai cabinet becomes COVID hotspot as ministers quarantine | Thailand’s captive elephants face uncertain future


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ASEAN-UK Troika Dialogue focuses on post-pandemic recovery - Straits Times




The ASEAN-UK Troika Dialogue comes in the wake of a Troika Virtual Meeting held in September last year.



Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan discussed future cooperation as part of post-pandemic recovery with other representatives from ASEAN and the United Kingdom during the ASEAN-UK Troika Dialogue on Thursday, which was chaired by Brunei Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Erywan Pehin Yusof.


Among other issues, the foreign ministers also discussed how to work towards the safe resumption of travel and shared their national vaccine roll-out plans.




ASEAN leaders to meet over Myanmar, chair Brunei says - Nikkei Asia




Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, pictured at an ASEAN summit in 2017, has backed calls for the bloc to meet about the Myanmar crisis


Brunei, this year’s ASEAN chair, is supporting a regional leaders’ meeting to discuss developments in Myanmar and has asked officials to prepare for a meeting in Jakarta.


Following the military coup on February 1, Indonesia has led efforts by members of ASEAN to encourage a negotiated solution despite a policy of not commenting on other member countries’ domestic problems. While Brunei and Malaysia announced their intentions for a meeting in Jakarta in a joint statement, they did not say when the meeting would be held.



Vietnam partners South Korea’s Naver to drive AI ambitions - Nikkei Asia




Vietnam’s AI strategy is part of its economic goals for 2030 set out by the ruling party in January.


Vietnam has partnered with South Korea’s Naver, the country’s largest internet company, in a bid to transform itself into a global player in artificial intelligence (AI).


Naver Group is collaborating with the Hanoi University of Science and Technology to launch Vietnam’s first AI research centre in the capital. The research centre will play a major role in Hanoi’s goal of developing its high-tech sector and becoming an AI research and development leader by 2020. Meanwhile, for Naver, the partnership with Vietnam is part of an international network for AI research and development.



Thai cabinet becomes COVID hotspot as ministers quarantine - Nikkei Asia




On Wednesday, the cabinet was forced to hold its regular weekly meeting over video call instead of in person.


The Thai cabinet is becoming the latest hotspot of Thailand’s third wave of COVID-19 infections, after Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. As the secretary general of Bhumjaithai Party, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, his infection could pose a serious threat to the country’s administrative and policymaking capabilities.


Currently, party leader and Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is on a 14-day self-quarantine from Wednesday. All members of the party will also be absent from parliamentary sessions until they test negative for COVID-19.




Thailand’s captive elephants face uncertain future - Nikkei Asia




Elephant camps in popular tourist sites like Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai are seeing elephants return to their home villages.


With scores of elephant camps forced to either close or scale down due to the suspension of international travel, discharged elephants and their keepers have no choice but to return to their villages of origin. Many of the country’s approximate 3,800 captive elephants are now leaving tourist sites for their home villages in what is one of the largest known elephant migrations in memory.


However, the villages have to grapple with how to suddenly deal with the appearance of tens or dozens of elephants. The villages are no longer the same as when the elephants left, with once-abundant forests now gone and the soil doused with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilisers.


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