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Datuk Seri Tajuddin is being probed by the authorities for failing to wear a face mask at the press conference. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

This Week's News Spotlight:

Myanmar excluded from WHO annual meeting | The Super Rich Are Choosing Singapore as the World’s Safest Haven | COVID-19 wave challenges Vietnam’s national election Sunday | Fury in Malaysia as new surge in cases swamps health system | China crackdown forces crypto mining operators to end operations


Myanmar excluded from WHO annual meeting - The Star

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, this year’s World Health Assembly is considered one of the most important ever.

Myanmar has been excluded from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual meeting following the dilemma of who to recognize as the country’s legitimate representative after the military coup in February. The assembly received requests to represent the country from both Myanmar’s military junta as well as ousted civilian authorities.

A WHO committee in charge of verifying country delegation credentials for this year’s 74th World Health Assembly proposed to defer the decision on who should be Myanmar’s representative.

The Super Rich Are Choosing Singapore as the World’s Safest Haven - Bloomberg

Despite a recent spike in COVID-19 cases that has led to stricter measures, case numbers are still a far cry from the several hundreds or thousands plaguing other countries in the region.

With COVID-19 raging on in Southeast Asia and political turmoil in the economic hub of Hong Kong, Singapore has become a safe harbour for some of the region’s wealthiest.

Though Singapore has long attracted wealthy Chinese, Indonesians, and Malaysians for short stints or vacations, the pandemic has prompted many to stay for months instead of weeks, seeking to ride out the pandemic in what they view as a safe haven. The number of single family offices in Singapore has doubled since the end of 2019 to about 400, including firms by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Shu Ping, a billionaire of Haidilao fame.

COVID-19 wave challenges Vietnam’s national election Sunday - Nikkei Asia

Out of 866 candidates in Sunday’s election, 74 are not Communist Party members.

Despite holding a general election on Sunday for 69 million voters, Vietnam has gone on high alert to contain COVID-19 outbreaks in the north of the country.

The latest wave of the pandemic has pushed its community tally to 1,892 since April 27. Bac Giang province, the epicenter of the latest wave, and neighbouring Bac Ninh, which is home to multiple industrial parks and zones, essentially went into lockdown.

However, the Communist Party always wants to secure more than 95% voter turnout in order to maintain democratic legitimacy, said Duong Quoc Chinh, a Hanoi-based political expert. During the last election in 2016, turnout totaled 98.77 percent.

Fury in Malaysia as new surge in cases swamps health system - SCMP

The hashtag #KerajaanGagal, or ‘failed government’, has been used by Malaysians for weeks to voice their anger at the management of the country’s COVID-19 situation.

Despite imposing a state of emergency in January, Malaysia is struggling to rein in the infections, especially in the wake of record numbers of cases in recent weeks, leading to outcry among civilians.

Although the country has reported fewer cases than its neighbours Indonesia and the Philippines, its ratio of infections is Southeast Asia’s highest, at more than 16,000 per million. Malaysia’s healthcare system is also being overwhelmed, with occupancy rates exceeding 70 percent last week in beds and intensive care units for COVID-19 patients.

China crackdown forces crypto mining operators to end operations - Al Jazeera

After Beijing banned crypto exchanges in 2017, China lost its position as a global cryptocurrency trading centre.

Beijing’s crackdown of Bitcoin mining and trading on Friday sent the digital currency tumbling, causing operators, such as Huobi Mall and BTC.TOP, to suspend their operations in China. This was the first time the State Council targeted virtual currency mining.

Following the move by Chinese authorities, Bitcoin was down nearly 50 percent from an all-time high. For governments and financial regulators, investor protection and money laundering are specific concerns. Some operators are looking to move their operations overseas, with Huobi Mall reassuring clients that it is in contact with overseas service providers and BTC.TOP stating that it will primarily conduct crypto mining in North America in the future.

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