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24.07.20 - 30.07.20 Sup SEAkers!

For Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at the court house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

This Week's News Spotlight:

The importance of mangroves in ASEAN | Malaysia’s ex-PM sentenced to 12-year jail term | ASEAN’s largest wind farm to be built in Laos | Laos’ poverty rate decreases to 18.3% | Uptake of e-learning exacerbates inequality in education in ASEAN


The importance of mangroves in ASEAN - Philippine Information Agency

Mangroves in Myanmar’s Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected area that is a designated ASEAN Heritage Park

ASEAN is actually home to 42% of the world’s mangrove forests, according to the latest ASEAN Environment Report. In fact, 36-47 out of 70 of the world’s known mangrove species can be found in ASEAN.

However, from an estimated total of 63,850 square kilometers of mangroves in 1980, ASEAN now only has 42,914 square kilometers of mangroves in 2020—a rapid decline of 33 percent, in just forty years.

ASEAN is an incredibly ecologically diverse region, and conservation is becoming increasingly important in recent years.

Thailand, for instance, has made efforts to minimise the loss of its mangroves, coral reefs, and wetlands. The Philippines has also crafted a “master plan for climate-resilient forestry development” for 2015-2028; this plan focuses on integrating mangrove conservation with national programmes and initiatives to address ecosystem resilience.

Malaysia’s ex-PM sentenced to 12-year jail term - BBC

Najib pleaded not guilty to all chrages, claiming that he was “misled” by financial advisers

The 1MDB corruption scandal, in which Malaysia’s ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak was accused of transferring approximately US$700 million from a government-run company to his personal bank accounts, is starting to see a resolution.

Although Najib pleaded not guilty to all charges, the Malaysian court found him guilty on all seven counts. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for abuse of power, and 10 years for each of the six counts of money laundering and breach of trust.

However, these sentences do not signal a definite conclusion to the 1MDB saga, as Najib intends to appeal the charges.

ASEAN’s largest wind farm to be built in Laos - Bangkok Post

BCPG’s wind farm in Nakhon Si Thammarat, a city located in southern Thailand

BCPG, a Thailand-based company that works with renewable energy, intends to build Southeast Asia’s largest wind farm in Laos. The facility will cost approximately US$840 million and be built near the Mekong River.

Electricity generated from this farm “will be sold to Vietnam’s state-run Electricity Vietnam (EVN)”. Laos and Vietnam have agreed to trade power over the border, according toBundit Sapianchai, President and Chief Executive of BCPG, said. 

BCPG’s plans for expansions also include the ongoing purchase of a solar farm. 

Laos’ poverty rate decreases to 18.3%

The Lao Consumption and Expenditure Survey has been conducted every five years since 192-1993

According to the Lao Consumption and Expenditure Survey (2018-2019), poverty in Laos is declining, and is now down to 18.3%. 

This is primarily due to improvements in infrastructure accessibility. Household consumption and expenditure have also increased significantly; families are “shifting their rice consumption to other healthy food” and purchasing food from markets, instead of consuming their own produce.

Uptake of e-learning exacerbates inequality in education in ASEAN - ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership

Other than Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia, other countries in the region still struggle to provide access to the internet for the majority of their population.

In the first half of 2020, piracy in South and Southeast Asia reached a five-year high. There were 51 incidents reported between January to June, compared to 28 in the same period one year ago.

Within the Singapore Strait itself, “one of the world’s busiest commercial maritime routes”, piracy and armed robbery doubled from last year. 

Southeast Asia’s waters were termed as “The World’s Most Dangerous Waters” according to a 2014 article by TIME Magazine. More than 120,000 ships traverse the Malacca and Singapore Straits every year, making the area a prime target for pirates.Between 1995 and 2013, 41% of the world’s pirate attacks occurred in Southeast Asia.

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