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08.05.20 - 14.05.20 Sup SEAkers!


People line up to get their monthly financial aid, for a three month period, during the government's measures against the spread of the COVID-19 near the Finance Ministry office in Bangkok, Thailand, May 7, 2020.


This Week's News Spotlight:

Brunei's ministers to discuss on lifting restrictions | Cambodia's rice exports to resume | Indonesia to impose COVID-19 restrictions that keep businesses running in Denpasar, Bali | Laos' Former Prime Minister Sisavath Keobounphanh Dies at Age 92 | Malaysia to consider many factors before reopening borders | Myanmar’s tea shops in Yangon suffer | Majority of PhilippinesMetro Manila mayors voted for ECQ extension | American pilot jailed for breaching stay-home notice to buy masks, thermometer in Singapore | Thailand's CP group chief pushes for tourism reboot | Ho Chi Minh’s 130th birthday to be celebrated nationwide in Vietnam


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Brunei's ministers to discuss on lifting restrictions

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah speaks at the press conference.


Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said which premises will be allowed to open first is being discussed by various ministers.


Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew added that they will begin with premises which are deemed to be a lower risk, along with conditions which will be imposed on premises that are re-opened


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: The Bruneian ministers are expected to be very cautious in making this decision, they have rightly observed that countries that lifted restrictions saw an uptick of new cases. The good news for Brunei is that it has a relatively small population vis a vis to its land size. The bad news is that most of its population are congregated around a few cities.


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Cambodia's rice exports to resume

Workers preparing rice for export to foreign market. 



The government announced yesterday the private sector can resume the export of white rice to the international market on May 20 – one month after imposing an export ban – according to the Minister of Economy and Finance.


The announcement comes after Prime Minister Hun Sen, in late March, ordered the ban for all exports of white rice and paddy from April 5 until further notice. The decision was made to safeguard local supply in response to COVID-19 food shortage fears.


From January to April this year, Cambodia’s rice exports to China were 122,094 tonnes (41 percent), to the European Union 97,337 tonnes (32.4 percent), to Asean members 37,428 tonnes (12.5 percent) and to other destinations 43,393 tonnes (14.45 percent).


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Personally, I have never noticed Cambodian rice at the supermarkets before, it seems that in China and in Singapore, Thailand rice is the popular option. On the other hand, upon deeper thinking, if COVID19 persists for the rest of the year, will this result in a food crisis because these food generally have a limited shelf life. (Especially fresh agricultural products)


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Indonesia to impose COVID-19 restrictions that keep businesses running in Denpasar, Bali

Bali's pecalang (traditional guards) warn a motorcyclist who does not wear a face mask at the Intaran traditional village in Sanur, Denpasar, on April 27


The curbs, officially called restrictions of community activities (PKM), aim to limit people's daily activities, make masks mandatory in public, tighten security at all of the city's entry points and enforce a policy of physical distancing.


The city administration opted to impose community activity restrictions rather than the generally favored large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) as they wanted to keep the local economy running, said Dewa Gede Rai, the spokesperson of Denpasar’s COVID-19 task force.


“Under the PKM, people don't have to close their businesses. All economic activity keeps running with several conditions imposed,” Dewa told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.


“Under the PKM, people don't have to close their businesses. All economic activity keeps running with several conditions imposed,” Dewa told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: We are not entirely sure how much value add to Bali’s economy this new measure is because Bali is extremely dependent on the tourism sector, and we do not see that recovering anytime soon. We hope that it may provide some form of cushioning to the local economy


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Laos'Former Prime Minister Sisavath Keobounphanh Dies at Age 92

Laos' former Prime Minister, General Sisavath Keobounphanh


General Sisavath Keobounphanh was among the senior members of the first generation of Party revolutionaries. He was crucial to the Party’s eventual success in establishing a new nation-state based on Marxist-Leninist principles in 1975.He served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in 1991. He was then appointed Vice-President from 1996 to 1998 and then Prime Minister from 1998 to 2001. Following this, he was appointed as the Head of the Lao Front For National Construction in 2001. He fully retired from public office in 2011.


The Lao government has declared a five-day mourning period during which the late general’s body will be lying in state at the assembly hall of the General Political Department of the Ministry of Defence in Vientiane Capital, followed by a state funeral to be held on 16 May.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Our deepest condolences to our Laotian friends for the passing of their former PM.


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Malaysia to consider many factors before reopening borders

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah



There are a multitude of factors to consider before deciding to reopen Malaysia's borders, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.


Of the 360 Covid-19 positive cases from Malaysians who returned from abroad, he said 88 tested negative when their first swab samples were taken. He said the 88 only tested positive on the second swab on the 13th day of their quarantine.


He added that once local transmissions were contained, then the government would look at the global situation before deciding to open up the borders.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts:

Let us not jump the gun here, opening the borders will not happen in the near future. It is very likely there will be a new round of infections if the citizens do not cooperate with the government after the recent lifting of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

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Myanmar’s tea shops in Yangon suffer

Residents wearing facemasks walk past a roadblock with awarenesses signs after the government imposed an enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Manila on March 25, 2020.


With these kinds of restrictions, and no possibility of people being able to enjoy their tea and flatbread inside the tea shop, it’s not surprising to find that revenue for these businesses has declined.


“As only takeaways are allowed, we don’t make as much on sales anymore. With a shop that used to make K1 million in sales, they only receive around K300,000 right now. Many are grateful to have any income at all during this time,” Ko Maung Maung (not his real name), a waiter from a famous tea shop in Yangon, said.

As restrictions take hold around the city, people visit tea shops only for foods that are in high demand, such as rice and noodle dishes.


Tea shops normally attract dozens of people throughout the day, but now they only receive passersby stopping to order the occasional takeaway meal.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: It is only normal that the sales of the F&B will plummet during this period, I wonder if they have established food delivery platforms that may help to cushion some of these loss in physical sales. That said, if people are looking for the experience of drinking tea in the teashop, that experience will be hard to replicate online.


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Majority of PhilippinesMetro Manila mayors voted for ECQ extension

Residents wearing facemasks walk past a roadblock with awarenesses signs after the government imposed an enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Manila on March 25, 2020


Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago, MMDA spokesperson, said 10 mayors voted in favor of extending the ECQ in Metro Manila. But, she made no mention if the other seven mayors were in favor of transitioning to the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) or they abstained in the voting.


According to her, most of the mayors and health experts find it risky to the GCQ or to the new normal wherein some public transportations will be available, and some essential establishments will be opened.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts:There was another article which stated that a study conducted by a team from the University of the Philippines is urging the government to extend the ECQ. Failing to do so may result in an escalation of 24,000 cases and 1,700 deaths by June 15, 2020.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


American pilot jailed for breaching stay-home notice to buy masks, thermometer in Singapore

American commercial pilot Brian Dugan Yeargan is seen outside the State Courts on Apr 29, 2020

An American pilot working for Federal Express (FedEx) was jailed for four weeks on Wednesday (May 13) for breaching his stay-home notice to buy masks and a thermometer from Chinatown.


Brian Dugan Yeargan, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of breaching his stay order, which required him to stay in his hotel room for 14 days from Apr 3 to Apr 17.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: As Singaporeans always say, don’t play play. We need to send a clear message to all that the government will come down harshly on anyone who flouts the law for their personal interests, putting others in danger.

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Thailand's CP group chief pushes for tourism reboot

Thailand's CP group founder and chairman Dhanin Chearavanont in a file photo



Billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont is urging the government to relax lockdown measures and welcome foreign travellers as soon as possible, and turn the country into a "safe haven" for wealthy visitors.


Mr Dhanin, who is the senior chairman of the kingdom's largest food and agriculture conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, said the move would help revive the tourism sector.


"Thailand's economic losses from the lockdown are estimated to be at 16 billion baht per day or almost 500 billion per month," he told the Bangkok Post. "A longer lockdown will cost us more and more."

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: The tourism sector accounts for almost 1/6 of Thailand’s GDP, closing off itself to visitors with no end in mind will not be sustainable for Thailand. This article is worth a read, his ideas are unconventional, it might work but I do not think it will gain popular support among the masses because this poses a big risk of imported cases into Thailand.

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Ho Chi Minh’s 130th birthday to be celebrated nationwide in Vietnam

People rehearse for a show celebrating Hồ Chí Minh's 130th birthday in the central province of Nghệ An earlier this week.


Many arts and cultural activities like exhibitions, performances and a film week will be held nationwide to celebrate the 130th anniversary of President Hồ Chí Minh’s birthday, which falls on May 19.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: I hope Vietnam will limit the number of people congregating at these offline events, while there are good reasons to celebrate, safety should always come first.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!

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