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16.04.20 - 23.04.20 Sup SEAkers!

Updated: May 17


Delivery riders and Singaporeans queueing for bubble tea from Koi at Yew Tee MRT station on 21 April 2020 before extended and stricter Circuit Breaker order.



This Week's News Spotlight:

IMF lowers Brunei's 2020 GDP growth forecast to 1.3% | Cambodia says no need to declare State of Emergency with COVID-19 under control | Indonesia's Jokowi bans 'mudik' with Ramadan approaching | Busy streets in Vientiane spotted in midst of Laos national lockdown order | Malaysia's Prihatin stimulus package requires longer-term strategy | Myanmar’s 2nd largest city announces new quarantine rules | Philippines’s DepEd gets ready for the ‘new normal’ in education | Singapore’s COVID-19 circuit breaker extended until Jun 1 | Thailand begins first human trials of virus vaccine in coming 4 months | Vietnam’s undergraduates and teachers make robots, medical devices to combat Covid-19


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IMF lowers forecast to 1.3% for Brunei's 2020 GDP growth

Exterior view of the International Monetary Fund building in Washington D.C.

Brunei Darussalam’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is projected to be 1.3% this year and 3.5% next year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlighted last Tuesday, in its first World Economic Outlook report since the pandemic shut major economies. In its earlier forecast in October last year, IMF said for 2020, it has projected the country’s GDP growth at 4.7% and 3.6 % for next year.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Brunei’s revenues from the petroleum sector accounts for over a half of the country's GDP. With WTI crude oil futures contract (Benchmark for US oil prices) crashing into negative territory a few days ago, this does not bode well for Brunei’s economy. The recovery for Brunei might be a slow one as the global demand for oil remains mellow in the short run.


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Cambodia says no need to declare State of Emergency with COVID-19 under control

Deployment of security personnel for emergency not required anymore at present.


Cambodia is stricter than other countries because to put a nation in emergency, there are two conditions – when the nation faces danger, and after agreement with the Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly and President of the Senate that the King shall make a proclamation to the people putting the country in a state of emergency, he explained.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: There were a lot of international concern when the Cambodian government announced the new State of Emergency Law. Currently, the situation in Cambodia seems to be under control, with the government lifting the inter-provincial travel ban on 16thApril.

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Indonesia's Jokowi bans 'mudik' with Ramadan approaching

Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gives a press statement on Covid-19 at Bogor Palace on 13 April 2020.

President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo announced his decision to ban the Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) to curb the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan. The decision is an about-face from the Jokowi administration's previous policy of merely advising the public not to participate in the mudik.

Annually, some 20 million people from Greater Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, travel to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is a difficult and unpopular decision to make, Jokowi is able to do this because this is his last term as President. Nonetheless, this is a wise and decisive move to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 from happening, especially in the other cities and islands of Indonesia.


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Busy streets in Vientiane spotted in midst of Laos' national lockdown order

Residents of Vientiane Capital takes to the road on 19 April 2020.

Residents of Vientiane Capital have taken to the road following the end of the Lao New Year holiday, despite an order from the Prime Minister to stay at home. Social media has been flooded with images of busy streets as Vientiane residents take to the road in clear violation of the national lockdown order.


Laos went into full lockdown on 30 March, with measures prohibiting all residents to leave their homes except for essential grocery shopping, hospital visits, and any other tasks authorized by the government.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is clear breakdown from the issuance to the implementation of the lockdown order. Although Laos has controlled the COVID-19 situation very well thus far, will this exodus be the origin of a new wave of cases across the nation?

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Malaysia's Prihatin stimulus package requires longer-term strategy

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin speaks on Additional Prihatin SME Economic Stimulus Package on 6 April 2020.

The RM260 billion Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package could well be a short-term solution to a long-term problem, say experts in R.AGE’s latest Newsflash episode. “Official numbers from Bank Negara show that (the economy) will contract for the entire year, ” said Khazanah Research Institute Deputy Director of Research Christopher Choong. Choong noted that most of the Prihatin measures announced so far are short-term and we must begin strategising for post-MCO, when there’s resumption of economic life.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is an obvious problem that the government has to resolve, but most of all its efforts are focused on keeping the number of COVID-19 cases under control. On apositive note, most of the other countries are also facing similar problems with their dampened economy, so perhaps the Malaysian government can take reference to the best practices of other governments in implementing their medium to long term recovery strategy.

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Myanmar’s 2nd largest city announces new quarantine rules

The international airport in Mandalay, Myanmar

The Committee for Emergency Response and Control against COVID-19 in Mandalay Region has issued an announcement that those who come back into the region from states and regions with positive cases of the disease must complete a 21-day compulsory facility quarantine and 7-day home quarantine. Those who come back from areas which are still free of COVID-19 will first have to receive medical checkups. Quarantines will be carried out only if necessary.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: With an emerging 2ndwave of COVID-19 cases worldwide, this move might help Myanmar to further clamp down on the rise of cases. What is interesting about these new rules is the 21-day quarantine, because the standard duration is 14 days. In view of cases who tested positive only after 14 days of quarantine, Myanmar is not taking any chances here.

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Philippines’s DepEd gets ready for the ‘new normal’ in education

Philippines' DepEd Undersecretary and Spokeperson Annalyn Sevilla

In response to COVID-19, Sevilla explained that members of the DepEd Management Committee—led by Education Secretary Leonor Briones—have been “discussing policies and possible adjustments” to the school opening of the SY 2020-2021 which was originally scheduled to start on June 1 for public schools.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Close contact of students in school can create potential clusters. E-learning is rarely as effective as physical learning, the government will need to spread its scarce resources in combating COVID-19 as well as ensuring life goes on as much as possible for students from primary schools to universities.

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Singapore’s COVID-19 circuit breaker extended until Jun 1

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong providing an update on Covid-19 situation on 21 April 2020.


Singapore will extend its COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period by four weeks until Jun 1, as well as implement tighter measures such as closing more workplaces, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Apr 21).


In a televised address to the nation, Mr Lee said that the aim is to "decisively" bring down the number of coronavirus cases in the community, and to make sure that if any "leakage" occurs from the foreign worker dormitories to the wider community, Singapore can detect and contain it early.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: With the recent surge of cases, primary from the migrant workers’ dormitories, many saw this move coming as Singapore has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia now. There are serious concerns on whether the healthcare system is able to cope with the sudden surge, hence an extension of the circuit breaker is a sensible move by the government.

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Thailand begins first human trials of virus vaccine in coming 4 months

Thailand's Department of Disease Control chief Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai

Human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand are expected to begin within the next four months, says the Department of Disease Control (DDC). The announcement follows an initial agreement by the Ministry of Public Health to cooperate with Chinese pharmaceutical companies in the development of a vaccine.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: The vaccine is humanity’s hope of eradicating the virus. In the meantime, we must collaborate with the government to limit our movements to prevent new clusters from forming.


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Vietnam’s undergraduates and teachers make robots, medical devices to combat Covid-19

Hanoi University of Science and Technology's students have made an automatic hand sanitiser.

Students and lecturers from several universities in the country have made and donated robots and medical devices to hospitals and quarantine areas to serve the fight against COVID-19.


A team from Tôn Đức Thắng University in HCM City’s District 7 has created two robots that could be used for disinfection and donated them to the quarantine area at the Việt Nam National University-HCM City dormitory.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: When there is a crisis, there is an opportunity. Students are creating new and innovative creations to help the healthcare professional deal with the situation, which is admirable.


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