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02.07.21 - 08.07.21 Sup SEAkers!





Tilda Kalaivani waves a shirt as a white flag from her apartment balcony in Kuala Lumpur.

Photographer: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty




This Week's News Spotlight:

COVID-19 sees Philippines President Duterte change tune on online gambling - IAG| Foreign students wait for green light to return to China with growing concern - SCMP| Daily COVID-19 deaths in Indonesia nearly double as Delta variant drives surge - WSJ| Myanmar military adopts ‘four cuts’ to stamp out coup opponents - Al Jazeera|

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COVID-19 sees Philippines President Duterte change tune on online gambling - IAG





Duterte previously quashed a US$500 million casino development in Boracay and cancelled a 50-year land lease deal for a US$1.5 billion integrated resort in Manila.


Despite being a strong critic of gambling in the past, the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning to online gambling as a source of revenue to fight COVID-19. Online gambling was among the topics of discussion during a meeting with party officials on Wednesday.


During the meeting, Duterte stated that the country is running out of funds to fight the pandemic, having used up its reserves. “Now that we need money the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities,” he added.





Foreign students wait for green light to return to China with growing concern - SCMP





Although business travel to China is now allowed, foreign students have still yet to receive any news about being allowed back on campuses.


For more than a year, tens of thousands of foreign students have been waiting to return to China for their studies. Foreigners have not been allowed into China since March last year, when the pandemic began, save for minor exemptions. Although visa applications for South Korean students were restarted in August last year, most of China’s international students come from developing countries, such as India and many African nations, and they have yet to receive any news about being allowed back on campuses physically.


With the new semester fast approaching, the hashtag “#TakeUsBackToChina” has regained traction. It was first used in February by thousands of Indian medical students who studied at universities in China. Other international students have also voiced concern at the lack of news from Beijing.





COVID-19 pandemic pushes millions of small Thai businesses into crisis - Straits Times





Despite debt-relief measures for SMEs in the form of low-interest loans, not all of them will be approved for the relief measures, said Bank of Thailand governor Sethaput.


Small Thai businesses are struggling with debt amidst the latest wave of COVID-19, which have crushed prospects of an economic recovery. Chairman of the Federation of Thai SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) Sangchai Theerakulwanich said that this year’s economic dip is much worse than 2020’s, and “millions of operators are suffering”.


Last month, the central bank reduced its economic growth forecast for this year to 1.8 percent, down from the previous 3 percent, due to low domestic consumption and a dim tourism outlook. Prior to the pandemic, tourism formed 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, but only 700,000 visitors are expected to travel to Thailand this year, compared to almost 40 million in 2019.




Daily COVID-19 deaths in Indonesia nearly double as Delta variant drives surge - WSJ





About 5 percent of Indonesia’s 270 million people are fully vaccinated.


Indonesia’s COVID-19 deaths skyrocketed on Wednesday, with fatalities nearly double that of just two days prior, largely due to the more contagious and severe Delta variant. With most of the country’s population still unvaccinated, the country’s healthcare system is being overwhelmed, something that public health experts have warned about for weeks.


On Wednesday, the country reported 1,040 COVID-19 deaths, up from 558 two days prior, and a record high of 34,000 new infections. Hospitals across the country are running out of beds and ventilators and healthcare workers who were fully vaccinated with China’s Sinovac have been infected with COVID-19, reducing manpower.





Myanmar military adopts ‘four cuts’ to stamp out coup opponents - Al Jazeera






Myanmar’s army staged a military coup on Feb 1, which has been met with strong resistance from pro-democracy demonstrators.


In response to the increase in armed resistance to the coup, Myanmar’s military has launched air and ground strikes on civilian areas, which has displaced 230,000 people since the coup on Feb 1. According to programme director of the Karen Human Rights Group Naw Htoo Htoo, this is the continuation of a strategy known as ‘four cuts’, which was first used against the Karen people in the 1960s and has since been used in other ethnic minority regions.


The four cuts include restricting access to food, funds, intelligence, and recruits. This strategy is aimed at weakening the support base of armed resistance and turning civilians against these resistance groups. The four cuts have previously been used against the Karen, Kachin, and Rakhine states.




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