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10.07.20 - 16.07.20 Sup SEAkers!


The World Bank said Malaysia will become an ageing society this year, which means 7% or more of the country's population are aged 65 and above.



This Week's News Spotlight:

Brunei's BSP to complete construction of solar plant by 2021 | Cambodia's new bilateral border gate under review | China’s TikTok enters race to digitize SMEs in Indonesia | Digital 2020 Report on Laos released | Malaysia is becoming an ageing nation with a decreasing working population | Myanmar's COVID-19 measures extended to 31 July | Philippines' LGUs, PNP to conduct house-to-house in search for suspected COVID cases | Singapore in technical recession after GDP shrinks 41.2% in Q2 from preceding quarter due to COVID-19 | Thais in Thailand treated 'with contempt' over Egyptian visitors | Vietnam's flights to and from China to resume soon


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Brunei's BSP to complete construction of solar plant by 2021

L to R: BSP head of onshore projects & construction Norhayati Merzuki; BSP managing director Dr Ceri M Powell and BSP head of energy transition Shirley Sikun break ground on BSP's solar plant on July 10, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of BSP



Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) has began construction of its 3.3 MWp utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plant on Friday, which is set to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its headquarters in Seria.


The multi-million dollar project, which is set to be completed early next year, will see 7,000 solar panels installed at the solar PV plant. The exact amount of investment was not disclosed. The solar panels will generate power equivalent to the electricity consumption of about 600 households per year.


She said the solar project is a demonstration of BSP’s commitment in increasing uptake of renewable energy within its operational and non-operational assets such as its offices, and in pursuing energy diversification and decarbonisation. BSP added that the solar project will provide a platform in expanding Bruneians’ skill set in renewable energy.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is good progress and exemplifies forward thinking, the government will need to wean the economy’s reliance on oil exports slowly as the supply runs out. The bet on renewable energy could be the key in ensuring the sustainability of the economy in the long run.


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Cambodia's new bilateral border gate under review

The Trapaing Kriel International Border Checkpoint connects Cambodia’s Stung Treng province with Laos’ Champasak province. Nokorwat News



Cambodia’s Ratanakiri and Laos’ Attapeu provincial authorities have been conducting assessments on the possibility of opening a new bilateral border gate and an interconnecting road to cater to the interests of the peoples of the two nations.


If the request is granted, Savon said the project will lead to easier travel for the Cambodian and Lao people, as well as attract tourism and strengthen trade, given Ratanakiri’s strong agricultural potential.


The northern region of Ratanakiri currently shares a border with Laos’ Attapeu province, with the stretch spanning 165 kilometres.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Looking forward to the border gate, definitely a win-win for both countries involved!


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China’s TikTok enters race to digitize SMEs in Indonesia

A man arranges waste bins made of recycled materials in Cibinong, Bogor, West Java, on June 5. TikTok’s owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, plans to take a US$100 million loss this year to provide free advertising credits to SMEs worldwide willing to try the platform’s new services.



TikTok, one of the world’s fastest-growing social media platforms, has entered the race to digitize pandemic-worn small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia. A TikTok Indonesia representative said on Friday that the Chinese video-sharing platform wanted to capture as many of Indonesia’s 6 million SMEs as possible with its new advertising service for businesses.


With Friday’s announcement, TikTok added to a list of tech heavyweights, including photo-sharing platform Instagram and e-commerce platforms Tokopedia and Lazada, taking part in Indonesia’s plan to digitize 2 million small businesses this year.


“This is to push SMEs, whether online or offline, so they can continue to exist,” said Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Ministry undersecretary Odo Manuhutu on Friday.


Overall, digitalized MSMEs can help reduce 1.5 percent of the economic burden on Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) that has resulted from COVID-19, the study concludes.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Digitalisation of SMEs is a critical process for all the SMEs in ASEAN, we should advance this agenda on the ASEAN level so that the regional digitisation efforts will be able to bring the region more opportunities in the future!


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Digital 2020 Report on Laos released



We Are Social and Hootsuite have released their joint annual global digital overview report for 2020, detailing global statistics for digital, mobile, and social media use.


According to the report, 79% of the population in Laos now has a mobile phone, with internet penetration standing at 43% of the population. Internet speeds average 25.54 Mbps in Laos, with a year-on-year increase in the speed of fixed internet connections by 68%. Web traffic in Laos is dominated by mobile phones, at 56.4%, while 42.2% of web traffic was downloaded to laptops and desktops, with only 1.5% being accessed by tablet computers.


Regarding Laos' social media use, the total number of active social media users in Laos was 3.10 million, or 43% of the total population. The number of users increased by 12% between 2019 and 2020, with 100% of users accessing social media by mobile phones. Facebook was accessed via mobile phone by 99.6% of the population, with only 0.4% of the population accessing the social media platform by desktop or laptop computer. 6.3% of users accessed Facebook via both phones and computers, with 93.3% accessing Facebook via mobile phone only.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Looking at the numbers, it is pretty that Laos is a mobile-first population, this will have ramifications on what platforms businesses choose to advertise to the Laotians. We are particularly impressed with the high yoy growth of the internet speed in Laos, this isprecondition if Laos aims to move into a digital economy in the future


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Malaysia is becoming an ageing nation with a decreasing working population

Malaysia's Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin.



Malaysia is heading into an ageing nation, with the percentage of population aged 0-14 years decreasing to 23.3% compared to 23.5% in 2019, says the Malaysian Statistics Department.

The overall percentage of 15-64 years, or the working age, also decreased from 69.8% in 2019 to 69.7% in 2020.


Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin (pic) said that this is due to the reduction in the non-citizens population, which mostly comprises of foreign workers. "The percentage of the population aged 65 years and over, or old age, also increased from 6.7% to 7% over the same period," he said.


Meanwhile, Malaysia's population this year is estimated at 32.7 million compared to 32.5 million in 2019 with an annual growth rate of 0.4%. Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the decline in the population growth rate was due to the decrease in the number of non-citizens from 3.1 million in 2019 to 3 million this year.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Malaysia has the capacity to import younger foreigners into the country to counter the increase in elderly population, therefore this will not pose a problem at least in the short term.


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Myanmar's COVID-19 measures extended to 31 July

Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) aircraft parked on the tarmac as commercial flights remain temporarily suspended as part of the measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease, at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar.



Myanmar's national-level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment on COVID-19 announced late Monday extension of effective period for preventive measures against COVID-19 until 31 July to contain the spread of the pandemic, Xinhua reported.


According to the announcement, the extension will not reinstate the measures which had been lifted, but measures such as restrictions of mass gatherings and others continue to remain in effect.


Myanmar has extended the temporary entry restrictions for visitors from all countries and the suspension of operating all international commercial passenger flights at the Yangon International Airport until 31 July.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Moving forward, we expect Myanmar to gradually open its borders for tourists, just as what Thailand and Vietnam is doing, it is not pragmatic to remain closed for the rest of the year as the tourism sector is in a lot of financial distress as a result of this.


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Philippines' LGUs, PNP to conduct house-to-house in search for suspected COVID cases

Philippines' Department of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año



Local government units (LGUs), together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), will go house-to-house to move out mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from their homes and transfer them to a quarantine facility.


“We are discouraging home quarantine for positive patients, especially if their houses don’t have the capacity for it” Department of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año said in a press briefing in Taguig on Tuesday. Año also sought the cooperation of the public to report to them cases within their neighborhood or among persons they know of.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Desperate times call for desperate measures, we suspect the local governments must have faced considerable difficulties in convincing suspected cases to move out of their homes, hence the need to get the police involved for enforcement purposes. This also highlights the importance of getting the citizens to cooperate with the government if they bring the spread of cases under control.

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Singapore in technical recession after GDP shrinks 41.2% in Q2 from preceding quarter due to COVID-19

The GDP plunge was due to the circuit breaker measures that were implemented to slow the spread of Covid-19.



Singapore has entered a technical recession after its economy contracted 41.2 per cent in the second quarter from the previous three months, dragged down by weak external demand and COVID-19 "circuit breaker" measures.


Several months of COVID-19 restrictions and workplace closures have battered Singapore's construction, retail and tourism sectors, with little sign of the pain abating. The authorities have flagged that they expect Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink between 4 and 7 per cent this year, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to pose severe strains on the economy.


This means that Singapore has entered a technical recession, defined by economists as two consecutive quarter-on-quarter contractions. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 37.4 per cent shrinkage. Year-on-year, the economy shrank 12.6 per cent, deteriorating from the first quarter’s revised 0.3 per cent decline.


The construction sector was the worst hit in the second quarter, contracting 54.7 per cent year-on-year after the first quarter's 1.1 per cent fall. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the construction sector plunged 95.6 per cent.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: It will get worse before it gets better, nonetheless, the prospects of an economic recovery in Singapore remains bleak as long as the vaccine to COVID-19 is not developed, Singaporeans will need to buckle up for the long and bumpy ride ahead

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Thais in Thailand treated 'with contempt' over Egyptian visitors

The opposition has lambasted the government after foreign nationals were allowed to enter Thailand without enforced quarantine.



Opposition members from the Seri Ruam Thai and Move Forward parties took to the floor in the House of Representatives after filing a motion demanding the government explain the movements of an Egyptian delegation, including a soldier confirmed to be infected with Covid-19, which was found to have visited shopping malls in Rayong.


Gen Prayut and the CCSA have apologised for the oversight and the PM on Tuesday ordered the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to review the easing of restrictions and plug loopholes in disease control measures. Besides diplomats and their families, all flights from foreign countries, including military aircraft, will have to follow those measures from now on, said the premier, who publicly criticised the Egyptian visitors for being irresponsible.


Hotel bookings are reported to have plummeted 90% since news of the Egyptian delegation broke.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is a unfortunate incident and might have left a bad impression amongst most Thais if they perceive the government in putting foreign interests above the health of the Thais. It might also influence when and how Thailand decides to open its borders to tourists.


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Vietnam's flights to and from China to resume soon

Vietnam Airlines' aircrafts grounded at Nội Bài International Airport.



Commercial flights between Việt Nam and China will soon resume, according to an announcement from the Government Office. Conditions for allowing which passengers on the flights still have to be agreed by both countries’ aviation authorities and no firm date for resumption was released.


The announcement includes Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s conclusions at a meeting with the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control on July 10.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Positive step forward, when it eventually materialises, it may be similar to the green lane arrangement that China has with Singapore


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