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11.06.21 - 17.06.21 Sup SEAkers!





People receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine inside a gymnasium at Thammasat University, in Pathum Thani, Thailand, on June 7. © Reuters


This Week's News Spotlight:

Aung San Suu Kyi faces most serious corruption charge yet - BBC | Data centre operators eyeing Batam as new digital hot spot - Straits Times | Flash Group becomes first Thai unicorn - Bangkok Post | Philippines again suspends scrapping of VFA troop pact with US, amid South China Sea tensions, COVID-19 vaccine donations - SCMP| China’s anti-sanctions law: What we know - CNA


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Aung San Suu Kyi faces most serious corruption charge yet - BBC





Since the military coup on Feb 1, Suu Kyi has been under house arrest.


Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with corruption by the country’s military authorities. Specifically, she was accused of accepting US$600,000 in cash and seven pieces of gold in bribes. If found guilty, she faces up to 15 years in jail.


She has also been charged with violating the official secrets act, import-export laws, telecommunications law, a natural disaster law, and inciting public unrest.





Data centre operators eyeing Batam as new digital hot spot - Straits Times





Southeast Asia’s data centre market is predicted to grow by US$10.57 billion between 2019 and 2023, according to market research company Technavio.


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.





Flash Group becomes first Thai unicorn - Bangkok Post





Flash Group, which includes delivery service Flash Express, was started in 2018 and is now valued at more than US$1 billion.


Thailand e-commerce logistics company Flash Group has raised US$150 million in its Series D+ and E funding rounds, making it the first Thai unicorn startup. The company intends to climb its way to the top three in Southeast Asia’s logistics industry in the next five years, shaping Thailand up to become a regional logistics hub.


Flash’s founder Komsan Lee said that the company will expand service points in rural areas to ensure that deliveries can be made during one day. The company also intends to increase the number of employees from 30,000 to 40,000 by the end of this year, with 70 percent of employees being delivery workers. Furthermore, the company also intends to expand into other Southeast Asian countries and will launch Flash Pay, a financial service, by the next quarter.





Philippines again suspends scrapping of VFA troop pact with US, amid South China Sea tensions, COVID-19 vaccine donations - SCMP





Several military agreements are dependent on the VFA, which provides guidelines for thousands of US troops coming in and out of the Philippines for drills and exercises.


Amidst tensions with China in the South China Sea, the Philippines has suspended for the third time a decision to scrap a 20-year-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States. The suspension will last for another six months while President Rodrigo Duterte “studies, and both sides further address his concerns regarding, particular aspects of the agreement”.


Duterte’s decision to extend the VFA for a third time comes as the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea are escalating, and the United States’ announcement that the Philippines would receive part of the 80 million COVID-19 vaccines that it was donating.




China’s anti-sanctions law: What we know - CNA





The law comes one week after the United States expanded a list of Chinese companies in which Americans are not allowed to invest in.


Late last week, China enacted a new anti-foreign sanctions law that was designed to protect Beijing from international pressure, but the new law could present problems for foreign businesses operating in China.


Specifically, the law aims to protect Chinese individuals or organizations in that situation that a country “uses various pretexts or its laws” to take “discriminatory” action against them. Countermeasures include denying visas, deportation, or seizing of assets.


For businesses, the law could create compliance issues, especially for multinational corporations. Businesses could also potentially lose access to the Chinese market.


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