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04.06.21 - 10.06.21 Sup SEAkers!





A string of Malaysian political leaders had separate audiences with the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, at the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PHOTO: BERNAMA


This Week's News Spotlight:

ASEAN, China foreign ministers discuss COVID-19, South China Sea, and Myanmar | Indonesia inching closer to Beijing, if South China Sea doesn’t ‘blow up’ ties | Azmin Ali, Malaysia’s power grab architect, under fire for ‘half-baked’ coronavirus lockdown | Thai oil giant invests in plant protein to power new growth | ‘Lying flat’ is the new resistance movement to materialism


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ASEAN, China foreign ministers discuss COVID-19, South China Sea, and Myanmar - Straits Times





The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held in the Chinese city of Chongqing this year.


During a meeting between foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China in the city of Chongqing on Monday, at least three ministers spoke up about the lack of progress in handling the Myanmar crisis. Foreign ministers from Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia expressed via a proxy their disappointment that Myanmar did not keep to the “five-point consensus” that was laid out during a summit in April with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.


The meeting was part of the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Other issues tackled included reopening borders and tensions regarding the South China Sea.





Indonesia inching closer to Beijing, if South China Sea doesn’t ‘blow up’ ties - SCMP






Last year, China was Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with US$71.4 billion in total trade volume.


China and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last week, which would create “a platform for closer dialogue” between their governments. Although this move could bring the countries closer together, experts noted that tensions in the South China Sea present challenges for both parties.


Former Indonesian diplomat Ple Priatna said that the move could speed up Chinese investment in Indonesia. The MoU demonstrates the importance of Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, to China, as the latter continues to invest in the region. However, Ple warned that issues such as anti-China sentiments and tensions regarding the South China Sea could threaten the relationship.





Azmin Ali, Malaysia’s power grab architect, under fire for ‘half-baked’ coronavirus lockdown - SCMP






Despite multiple state-level partial lockdowns and wider shutdowns, the third wave of COVID-19 has continued to strain the Malaysian healthcare system.


More than 80,000 people have signed an online petition which called for Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali to resign, as many businesses have been allowed to operate despite an ongoing nationwide lockdown due to a new wave of COVID-19. Some of these waivers have been handed to non-essential businesses.


Responding to criticism, the second in command in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government said that his ministry was not the only department responsible for vetting applications. So far, 128,150 of 586,308 companies have received approval to continue operating during the lockdown, amounting to a total of 1.57 million workers.





Thai oil giant invests in plant protein to power new growth - Bloomberg





Plant-based protein is a global US$16 billion industry growing at 10 to 15 percent a year.


Thailand’s largest company by market value, the state-controlled PTT Pcl, is investing in plant-based protein as part of its move to reduce dependency on fossil fuel businesses. The oil giant announced a US$9.6 million partnership with NR Instant Produce Pcl, which produces protein from jackfruit. Commercial operations are slated to start by end-2022.


Non-traditional businesses like plant-based protein production will comprise as much as one-fifth of PTT’s revenue within the next ten years, said senior executive vice president Buranin Rattanasombat. Currently, the company obtains more than 95 percent of its revenue from energy refining, processing, trading, and retailing.





‘Lying flat’ is the new resistance movement to materialism - Caixin Global





The concept of “tang Ping” appeared after the growth of “involution”, or intensification without advancement.


“Tang ping” literally means to lie flat or do nothing. In China, it is a concept that has developed as a response to excessive competition in society, and is rapidly gaining popularity in China.


Those who choose to “tang ping” adhere to the principles of no consumption, no work, and no communication. While youth movements steered China’s transition towards a modern society in the 20th century, it can be argued that “tang ping-ism” has become the new “New Culture Movement”, with youths realizing that they themselves are unable to resist “involution”.


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