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26.06.20 - 02.07.20 Sup SEAkers!


People gather near the bodies of victims of a landslide near a jade mining area in Hpakant, Kachin state, northern Myanmar, July 2, 2020.



This Week's News Spotlight:

Brunei's Cinemas to resume operations from July 6 | Cambodia's new COVID-19 patient ‘viral shedding’ | Seven companies to relocate facilities to Indonesia, invest $850m | Laos further relaxes COVID-19 prevention measures | China ambassador to Malaysia promotes Musang King | Myanmar Election day set on November 8 | Philippines' Sotto backtracks, now wants National Capital Region back to ECQ | Singapore's Casinos, Universal Studios, Singapore Zoo among 13 attractions to reopen in July during Phase 2 | Thailand-based NokScoot goes out of business | Senior businessmen in Vietnam want to nurture start-ups


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Brunei's Cinemas to resume operations from July 6

L-R: Second Minister of Finance and Economy YB Dato Dr Hj Md Amin; home Affairs minister YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar; health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham; religious affairs minister YB Pehin Dato Hj Badaruddin; education minister YB Dato Hj Hamzah and culture, youth and sports YB Dato Hj Aminuddin pose for a group photo after the daily COVID-19 presscon on July 1, 2020.



Cinemas will resume operations from July 6 while eateries can host 80 percent of their total seating capacity as part of the third phase of easing coronavirus curbs, the home affairs minister said on Wednesday.


Cinemas must restrict the number of visitors at 30 percent of their maximum capacity at a time and use BruHealth’s QR code, said YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong.


Cinemagoers must reserve their seats and purchase their tickets online, but those who are aged 15 and below are not permitted to enter cinemas. Eating and drinking are banned at cinemas.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Brunei is systematically opening all the other leisure facilities, we are happy for our Bruneian friends and we hope that they do not become complacent with the prevention measures!


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Cambodia's new COVID-19 patient ‘viral shedding’

The returning passengers on 26 June 2020.



One of the two Cambodians who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Malaysia on June 26 was found to have been a former patient in the country and had been successfully treated and discharged from a Malaysian hospital before flying to Cambodia.


“We have informed the Cambodian authorities that this is not a new case, but one that has been already treated,” said Dr Noor Hisham.


He added although a patient has been discharged, the virus could still be detected through a RT-PCR (Reverse Transmission-Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. However, he said, the virus will be weak and inactive.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This will require close communication amongst countries, and pose a new challenge for the opening of countries as recovered patients will likely be flagged out by the test. Extra precautions will have to be made to verify that this person is not an active COVID-19 case.


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Seven companies to relocate facilities to Indonesia, invest $850m

A worker marks a stainless steel hot rolled coil (HRC) that just came out of the machine in Morowali Industrial Park’s HRC plant in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, on 18th September 2019.



President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Tuesday that seven foreign companies had confirmed plans to relocate production facilities to Indonesia, mostly from China, an encouraging signal for the country’s investment climate amid the pandemic.


The relocation of factories of the seven companies, which include South Korean industrial conglomerate LG and Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, is estimated to bring investment of US$850 million to the country and potential employment for 30,000 workers, according to the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: In recent times, there is an increase in companies relocating from China to Southeast Asia. This might be not a bad thing for China as it is looking to move its industries up the value chain to produce high value-added products. The main competition for all these outbound companies to Southeast Asia is between Indonesia and Vietnam. As of now, Vietnam seems to be performing in capturing the investment inflows, Indonesia is catching up fast!


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Laos further relaxes COVID-19 prevention measures

Laos Prime Minister Office in Vientiane.


A new government notice issued yesterday allows for the further easing of certain restrictions and Covid-19 prevention measures.


Speaking on behalf of the National Task Force Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, explained the latest notice released by the Prime Minister’s Office at a press conference held in Vientiane yesterday afternoon. Under the notice, a ban on sporting competitions has been lifted, however, organizers are to ensure stadiums do not become overcrowded.


Social gatherings, weddings, parties, and traditional festivals may now be held, however, organizers must follow strict guidelines laid out by the national taskforce. Meanwhile, entertainment venues including karaoke bars, nightclubs, and internet cafes will remain closed in order to prevent a second wave of the Covid-19 virus appearing in Laos. Also off-limits are traditional border crossings, which will remain closed with the exception of freight transportation.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Like Brunei, Laos is slowly and systemically lifting restrictions, however, the route to economic recovery remains long and arduous.


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China ambassador to Malaysia promotes Musang King

China Ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, lauded the merits of Musang King in a video posted on Douyin, calling it the most prestigious’ among varieties of durian produced in Malaysia.



Known for his love for the king of fruit, China’s ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian took to Douyin to promote the famed Musang King durian.


Dubbed “the ambassador with the greatest love for durian” and “the best durian promoter”, he released a 90-second long video praising the fruit, from its appearance to the taste and characteristics.


Since taking office in 2018, Bai has been promoting the fruit of his love in a creative way every year during the high season.


Following Malaysia’s inaugural export of homegrown frozen whole durian to China in June last year, Bai also tried his hand at making his first purchase of a frozen whole Musang King at Alibaba’s FreshHema mall in Beijing in July, earning him “the most convincing promoter of Musang King.”

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: What a wonderful perk to be an ambassador to Malaysia, sign me up please! We suggest that in the future, Malaysia should initiate durian diplomacy, good food is a great way to form strong friendships.


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Myanmar Election day set on November 8

An electoral official counts the ballots at a polling station in Tarmwe township in Yangon during the 2018 by-elections.


The Union Election Commission (UEC) has set Myanmar’s general elections for November 8.

A total of 1171 national, state and regional seats would be up for grabs in the elections, the UEC said.


It said 330 seats would be contested in the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) and 168 in the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House), or 12 for each state and region. The polling body said that 644 regular seats and 29 for ethnic minorities would be contested in state and regional parliaments.


More than 37 million people are eligible to vote in the elections, according to the UEC, and 97 parties are eligible to field candidates. Of the 97 parties, 79 will contest seats nationwide, while 18 will focus on only one region or state.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts:The focus will be on whether NLD, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is able to win convincingly. Externally, it has been heavily criticised for its handling of the Rakhine State. Internally, it has to grapple with rising unemployment and the poor economic performance due to COVID-19. It will also be interesting to observe what post Tatmadaw (military) chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will get as he aims to enter politics after he retires from the military.


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Philippines' Sotto backtracks, now wants National Capital Region back to ECQ

Philippines' Senate President Vicente Sotto III


Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the National Capital Region (NCR) should be reverted to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the people’s “hard-headedness”. Sotto backtracked on Monday night and said the government’s health protocols were not to be blamed for the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.


Sotto issued the statement following the arrest of 121 individuals in a bar in Makati City on Sunday night, amid the general community quarantine (GCQ) being enforced in Metro Manila to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.


The Makati police said arrested persons crowded the bar and violated physical distancing.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) issued last week Resolution No. 48 allowing restaurants, cafes and bars to operate under the GCQ, but only at 30 percent capacity and until 9 p.m.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: To be fair, many of the people in other countries are getting complacent as well just because their governments have decided to lift restrictions. This type of mentality is dangerous because it can easily lead to a cluster outbreak and all the efforts for the past few months would have gone to waste.

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Singapore's Casinos, Universal Studios, Singapore Zoo among 13 attractions to reopen in July during Phase 2

Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and River Safari, will reopen to the public with COVID-19 safe management measures in place on Jul 6, 2020.

Tourism-linked businesses will be allowed to reopen in stages during Phase 2 of the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" reopening, beginning with 13 attractions from Jul 1, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Sunday (Jun 28).


After three months of closure, the casinos at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, Universal Studios Singapore and Singapore Zoo may resume operations after having had their safe reopening proposals approved, said STB in a media release.


The other attractions that can reopen from Jul 1 are: ArtScience Museum, Sands SkyPark and Observation Deck, Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, S.E.A. Aquarium, Madame Tussauds, Jurong Bird Park, River Safari, Bounce and Zero Latency.


Most attractions will be restricted to 25 per cent of their operating capacity "for a start". Attractions and tour operators must follow this rule and apply other safe management measures that are "tailored to reduce the COVID-19 transmission risks of each attraction or tour", said STB.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It is not feasible as well to keep attractions closed for the long run. These businesses are losing money on a daily basis, reminds me of the news articles that mentioned the world famous cirque du soleil is filing for bankruptcy because of 0 revenue for the past couple of months.

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Thailand-based NokScoot goes out of business

NokScoot cabin attendants pose in front of a Boeing 777-200 at Don Mueang airport on Feb 1, 2017.



The regional budget airline NokScoot is shutting down, saying it cannot recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The carrier said its board of directors decided on Friday to liquidate the airline, with the decision to be announced in a general meeting of shareholders to be held in two weeks.


The decision will leave 450 staff members unemployed, save for some who will work on the liquidation process. The company promised to pay them full benefits in accordance with Thai law.


NokScoot was established in 2014 as a joint venture between Singapore-based Scoot and SET-listed Nok Airlines Plc. Nok, a domestic budget carrier established in 2004, holds 51% of the shares and Scoot, a Singapore Airlines subsidiary, holds the remaining 49%. Thai Airways International, now under bankruptcy protection, holds a 13.28% shareholding in Nok Airlines.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Goodbye NokScoot, I will miss seeing your funky airplanes! On a serious note, I hope the other smaller airlines will be able to survive this crisis.


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Senior businessmen in Vietnam want to nurture start-ups

Chairman of real estate Apec Group and co-founder of Happitopia Academy, Nguyễn Đỗ Lăng (second from left) is in a conferemce on real estate organised by the academy in May.



Firms in Vietnam, like others across the world, have been suffered from negative impacts due to the pandemic, with many bankrupt, dissolved, suspended or downsized. To give some businesses a boost at this crucial juncture, Happitopia Academy launched 1,000 scholarships worth a total VNĐ50 billion (US$2.1 million) to train people working for small- and- medium-sized companies, start-ups, business households and young people with a passion for business.


In late May, the business academy founded by well-known businessmen in Vietnam hosted a series of conferences with leading experts discussing business difficulties in real estate, hotels, tourism, restaurants, agriculture and start-ups.


The non-profit academy hopes to train one million young entrepreneurs in the next 10 years according to an agreement signed between Apec Group and the Government project 844 on supporting start-ups and innovation.



Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is a great initiative from the private sector, as the saying goes, it takes a whole village to raise a child. This is a long term play, even though the results might not be significant early on, it will go a long way in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs in Vietnam!


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