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12.06.20 - 18.06.20 Sup SEAkers!


Many motorists wear face masks in Phnom Penh.


This Week's News Spotlight:

Brunei's Darussalam Holdings offers full refunds for Haj pilgrims | Cambodia Government calls on buyers to continue supporting the local garment sector | Indonesia's Garuda to drop face masks after passengers complain they can’t see cabin crew’s smiles | Laos' Vientiane-to-Vang Vieng Expressway 70% Complete | Experts concerned over people's attitude towards virus in Malaysia | Legislators bridle at Rakhine martial law proposal in Myanmar | Life in Philippines' worsened for 83% Filipinos | Singapore shortlists 14 applicants for digital bank licences | Foreigners to be allowed entry to Thailand | Phú Quốc seeks to become Vietnam’s first island city


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Brunei's Darussalam Holdings offers full refunds for Haj pilgrims

Pg Hj Ibrahim Hj Bakar, head of Haj and Umrah Department at Darussalam Holdings, speaks to media on June 12, 2020.


Travel agency Darussalam Holdings will issue full refunds to 802 prospective Haj pilgrims following the announcement from the religious affairs ministry that Brunei will not send its citizens to Mecca due to COVID-19 concerns.


The sultanate joins other ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in skipping the Haj this year, even though the Saudi government has yet to announce a formal decision cancelling the annual pilgrimage. A total of 1,000 Bruneian Haj pilgrims were scheduled to depart for Saudi Arabia beginning July 6.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Thisis not an easy decision to make. For a practicing Muslim, the haj pilgrimage is the most important milestone in one’s life that take many years to prepare. But we don’t see any ways of this happening, it is better to take precautions now to ensure the safety of everyone


Click HERE to learn more about this news!

Cambodia Government calls on buyers to continue supporting the local garment sector

The garment factory workers in Cambodia



The Minister of Commerce has called on Adidas and H&M, the biggest global apparel and textile product buyers to continue ordering garment product from Cambodia.


The call was made during a meeting between Minister Pan Sorasak and representatives from Adidas led by Matthew Armstrong and Christer Horn af Aminne, H&M’s production manager in charge of Cambodia and Vietnam on Tuesday.


In the meeting, the Minister informed the companies about the government’s policy to diversify the markets by preparing bilateral free trade agreement with many countries.

“We would like to ask the companies to join the government to support the Kingdom’s garment sector after the end of COVID-19,” the minister said.


During a press conference at the Office of the Council of Ministers, municipal labour department director Choun Vuthy said out of the 706 garment factories in Phnom Penh, 121 have temporarily halted operations due to a raw materials crunch and production setbacks experienced amid the COVID-19 crisis.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: It is clear that Cambodia’s economy is under a lot of stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, we wonder if this call will be heeded by the companies in the backdrop of EU’s Everything But Arm scheme, which will see Cambodia’s garment sector losing 20 percent of exports starting next August.


Click HERE to learn more about this news!

Indonesia's Garuda to drop face masks after passengers complain they can’t see cabin crew’s smiles

Garuda Indonesia stewardess welcomed the guests at the launch of the NEO Airbus A330-900 at the Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten.


National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is planning to replace the face masks worn by its flight attendants with an alternative form of personal protective equipment (PPE) after passengers complained that the masks affected their perception of the cabin crew’s hospitality.


Since the airline resumed domestic flights on May 7, flight attendants have worn face masks and gloves as part of the health protocols put in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission.


However, Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra said the company received many complaints from passengers saying that they could not see the faces of the cabin crew clearly when they had face masks on.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: I mean, as much as it is true that the customer is always right, it is quite worrying that the national airline has succumbed to customers’ irrational wants. The masks are to protect the staff AND the passengers themselves.


Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Laos' Vientiane-to-Vang Vieng Expressway 70% Complete

A bike parked on the Vientiane-Vang Vieng Expressway.


Construction of an expressway linking Vientiane to Vang Vieng is now 70 percent complete and is expected to be ready for use at the end of this year.


The road, which stretches some 113 kilometers, has had the first layer of asphalt laid on over 50 kilometers so far. The Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway will shave 43 kilometers off the existing route by tunneling some 900 meters through Phoupha Mountain.


The Vientiane-Vang Vieng expressway is the first section of the planned Vientiane-Boten expressway, which the Lao government and the Chinese developer, a state construction enterprise from Yunnan province, plan to jointly build to link Vientiane with the northern province of Luang Namtha, which borders China.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: There is a Chinese saying that says, ‘If you want to get rich, start by building roads’. The Chinese are definitely exporting this mindset to the neighbouring countries. Road networks are essential in moving people and goods in an efficient manner, we hope this will eventually lead to increased trade within Laos and between Laos and China!


Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Experts concerned over people's attitude towards virus in Malaysia

Academy of Medicine of Malaysia master Prof Dr Rosmawati Mohamed


Health experts are concerned that some Malaysians are behaving as though there is no more Covid-19 after the country’s shift to recovery movement control order (MCO) and they have warned that the impact is expected to be seen as early as these few days if no precautions are taken.


Academy of Medicine of Malaysia master Prof Dr Rosmawati Mohamed said that from her observation in public areas and on social media, people were behaving as though there was no pandemic.


“Every individual should continue taking precautions. We are not out of the woods yet, ” she cautioned.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is definitely not the time to let down your safeguards, as we have seen from the surge in cases in Beijing, the situation can turn for the worst in a very period of time! The people’s cautious mentality and attitudes towards COVID19 is the best prevention until the vaccine is found!


Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Legislators bridle at Rakhine martial law proposal in Myanmar

Myanmar Army spokesman Brig-gen Zaw Min Tun speaks to journalists about the conflict in northern Rakhine State, during a press conference at the Defence Services Museum in Nay Pyi Taw in May 2019.


Legislators have scoffed at a proposal by the Tatmadaw (military) to impose martial law in Rakhine State to quell attacks by the Arakan Army, calling such a move unwarranted.


Tatmadaw spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said the Tatmadaw was concerned about the escalation of attacks by the AA, such as a raid on a remote police outpost in Rathedaung township at the weekend that forced almost 1000 villagers to flee their homes.


But state lawmakers said there is no need for military rule in Rakhine. U Pe Than, a Rakhine parliament MP for Myebon township, said the civilian government retains control of most areas in Rakhine. "The situation here is not getting worse as they claimed," he said. Other lawmakers said martial law is unnecessary, especially as the election is just a few months away.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: I hope this will help to ease or dispel the misconceptions that the outside world have of the Burmese government stance towards the Rohingyas. The Burmese are trying to solve this internal problem which is extremely complicated, and there is limited internal consensus between the legislators and the military (which remains a powerful voice in government)


Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Life in Philippines' worsened for 83% Filipinos

Workers ride their bicycles home in Manila on May 20, 2020.


More Filipinos said their quality of life worsened in the past 12 months, dropping to a new record-low as the “worst trend in survey history” in the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The survey which was conducted from May 4 to 10 among 4,010 respondents found that 83 percent said their quality of life got worse (termed by SWS as Losers), while 10 percent said it was the same (unchanged), and only six percent said it got better (gainers), compared to a year ago.


According to the SWS, the 83 percent proportion of losers in May 2020 is a “new peak” in the 37-year series of 135 SWS surveys, breaking the previous record 62 percent losers in June 2008. The six percent proportion of gainers is a new “all-time low”, breaking the previous record of nine percent gainers in July 1985.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: The COVID-19 has had a negative impact on every country to varying degrees, we hope our Filipino friends stay positive amid this difficult times and perhaps the government might need to increase financial and non-financial support to those that are most affected

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Singapore shortlists 14 applicants for digital bank licences

A general view shows the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building in Singapore on April 14, 2016.

Singapore’s central bank has shortlisted 14 applicants for up to five digital bank licences on offer in the city’s biggest banking liberalisation in two decades.

The shortlist, out of the 21 applications received, comprises five digital full bank applicants and nine digital wholesale bank applicants who will now move to the next round of the selection process, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Thursday (Jun 18).


It expects to award the licences by the end of the year.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Finally some positive news, we are actually quite excited about the future of digital banking in Singapore, it could set the precedence and case study for the other countries in ASEAN to emulate in the future!

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Foreigners to be allowed entry to Thailand

An expressway interchange, photographed from Baiyoke Tower II on 14th June 2020, shows light traffic.



One thousand foreign visitors are expected to be allowed entry to Thailand per day and the standard 14-day Covid-19 quarantine rule will be waived, according to an implementation plan for "travel bubbles" to be submitted for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)'s approval on Wednesday.


These visitors, who in the beginning will be mostly business people and patients seeking medical treatment in Thailand, must come as part of bilateral cooperation on tourism between Thailand and selected countries which have managed to contain the coronavirus, Traisuree Taisaranakul, deputy government spokeswoman, said on Sunday.


General foreign tourists will later be allowed to visit Thailand if the tourism promotion programme proves successful in terms of the transmission control, she said.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This government decision is in tandem with other neighbouring countries who are adopting a similar policy for allowing entries into Thailand, however it must be noted that this is against what the Thais want. From another Bangkok post article,majority of people do not want foreign tourists to return soon while the Covid-19 situation in the country is improving, saying foreigners could spread the disease and Thai people should be able to enjoy the country first, according to the results of an opinion survey by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, or Suan Dusit Poll.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Phú Quốc seeks to become Vietnam’s first island city

Visitors to Dinh Cậu Rock on Phú Quốc Island, Kiên Giang Province.


The island district in the Mekong Delta province of Kiên Giang has become an international beach holiday, eco-tourism and entertainment destination after the local government began an ambitious plan to develop it into an island city, a unique concept in Vietnam.


Phú Quốc is the largest island in the country at some 590,000sq.km, almost the same size as city-state Singapore. It expects to have 12,000 five-star hotel rooms by the end of this year and become a leading tourism resort city in Southeast Asia. Phú Quốc is close to most of Southeast Asia and part of international freight routes, and less than two hours by air from many capitals in the neighbourhood.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Looks like a great place for a post COVID-19 vacation, can’t wait to visit!


Click HERE to learn more about this news!

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