Vietnam’s defence minister Phan Van Giang (left) and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Hanoi on Thursday. Photo: EPA-EFE
This Week's News Spotlight:
Myanmar Rulers Extend State of Emergency - WSJ| AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes on building the ‘low-cost unicorn’ of Asian super-apps, digibank hopes and possible SPAC listing - SCMP| Malaysian Opposition MPs March to Parliament, Demand PM Quit -Bloomberg| Coronavirus: Prayuth takes aim at Thailand’s celebrities as vaccine outrage mounts - SCMP| Singapore to grant first crypto licence in bid to lure digital asset groups - FT |The missile tech firing up China’s Olympic swimming rockets - SCMP
Myanmar Rulers Extend State of Emergency - WSJ
Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, shown in March, said his State Administration Council is ‘working as quickly as possible’ to prepare for fresh elections. PHOTO: REUTERS
Myanmar’s junta leader has pledged to hold democratic elections within two years, extending a state of emergency imposed by the military when it overthrew the country’s elected government in February.
Speaking in a televised address on Sunday, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said his State Administration Council is “working as quickly as possible” to prepare for fresh elections after voiding the results of a 2020 vote that dealt a landslide victory to the party of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Sunday’s announcement signals the military’s intention to remain in power as long as legally possible under the country’s military-drafted constitution. After the coup, the junta enacted a yearlong state of emergency that could be extended twice by six months each time. Mr. Min Aung Hlaing said in his address that authorities would need another six months to prepare for the polls.
AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes on building the ‘low-cost unicorn’ of Asian super-apps, digibank hopes and possible SPAC listing - SCMP
Tony Fernandes says AirAsia is eyeing more acquisitions as it steps up its super-app ambitions. Photo: AFP
Now, in the eye of the current pandemic-induced storm, Fernandes is plotting a new course of expansion into Southeast Asia’s crowded field of so-called super apps that serve as a one-stop shop for everything from travel bookings to ride hailing and food delivery.
Its fintech unit BigPay, meanwhile, is seeking digital banking licences – seen as the holy grail for super apps – in the region, with a consortium-backed bid put in for such an accreditation in Malaysia as a start.
In early July, AirAsia said it was buying the Thai operations of Gojek, the Indonesian ride-hailing giant which has super-app ambitions of its own.
In an interview with This Week in Asia, Fernandes said more such acquisitions were in the works. The new digital business needs about US$300 million in the near term to meet its ambitions, and Fernandes said a US$100 million investment was expected soon from a “very top-class investor”.
Malaysian Opposition MPs March to Parliament, Demand PM Quit -Bloomberg
Members of the opposition gather at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur, on Aug. 2.
Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg
Malaysian opposition lawmakers marched toward the parliament building in Kuala Lumpur to demand Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation on Monday, after officials postponed the day’s sitting indefinitely to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the house.
Malaysia’s parliament sat for the first time this year last week, but was suspended again shortly after the king on Thursday publicly rebuked a government minister for misleading the house on the status of emergency laws. Health-Director General on Sunday said the building was at high-risk of a spread in infections after the discovery of positive cases last week.
The opposition, which has filed a motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin, said the Covid risk is an “excuse” to adjourn Monday’s sitting. Health groups have said parliament can still function if virus protocols are followed.
Coronavirus: Prayuth takes aim at Thailand’s celebrities as vaccine outrage mounts - SCMP
Thai celebrity Nisamanee Lertworapong dressed as Katniss Everdeen. Photo: Instagram
On Sunday hundreds of protesters in cars and on motorcycles took part in a “car mob”, driving around central and northern Bangkok and hooting their horns to demand Prayuth’s resignation. They were met by riot police deploying water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas.
Instead of apologising, authorities have gone into attack mode. Police last week warned they would pursue defamation charges against anyone who posted online criticisms of the government’s vaccine efforts or the efficacy of vaccines.
An emergency decree on Friday also banned the dissemination of “false messages” that cause panic, misunderstanding or confusion – an order the media says is an attempt to muzzle reporting of the virus outbreak.
Singapore to grant first crypto licence in bid to lure digital asset groups - FT
Australian exchange Independent Reserve has secured an ‘in principle’ approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore that will allow it to offer digital payment token services © Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg
Australian exchange Independent Reserve has secured an “in principle” approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore that will allow it to offer digital payment token services.
The company is the first exchange to be granted formal permission to operate in Singapore out of about 170 applicants, including global exchanges Binance and Gemini.
The south-east Asian hub has become a magnet for cryptocurrency companies and executives as many see it as a friendly regulatory environment. Global financial regulators are increasingly scrutinising the fast-growing digital asset industry, trying to balance it against investor protections and snuffing out the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering, the financing of terrorism and fraud.
Eric Anziani, chief operating officer of Crypto.com, a digital currency exchange platform that has a large presence in Hong Kong but is growing quickly in Singapore, said the geopolitical risk in Hong Kong had escalated. “Singapore is also more favourable to retail investors,” he said. “I think there are now more opportunities there in terms of talent as well.”
The missile tech firing up China’s Olympic swimming rockets - SCMP
Scientists and athletes team up to find ways to cut drag in the pool. Photo: CASC
China’s swimmers have shot off the blocks like rockets at the Tokyo Olympics and, along with hard work and talent, the success is in part thanks to missile-related technology, according to the country’s biggest state-owned space company
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) said on Friday space scientists came up with a compact version of a guidance system used in rockets to help swimmers refine their technique and cut down on drag.
“Swimming position directly affects the forward speed,” CASC said.
The technology worked with a traditional camera-based system to “provide a scientific basis for the coaching staff to draw up training plans, optimise techniques and reduce drag”.