ASEAN IN FOCUS

Indonesia province declares state of emergency over forest fire risk

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — An Indonesian province declared a state of emergency Wednesday as officials said they had pinpointed hundreds of spots at risk of erupting into smog-belching forest fires that plague the region every year. Central Kalimantan on Borneo island was ravaged last year by fires blamed for blanketing swathes of Southeast Asia in toxic haze. Last year’s blazes were the worst since 2015 due to dry weather, with around 1.6 million hectares (3.95 […]

Thailand schools reopen with strict hygiene rules

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Mask-wearing pupils catching up with friends at one Bangkok high school were quickly told to spread out as they headed back to lessons on Wednesday after months of distance learning due to coronavirus restrictions. The teenagers, resuming classes along with all other public school students in the kingdom, chatted animatedly before being called to sit in widely spaced rows for the opening session. The school principal, Arwuth Meekhanphet, warned them all […]

Vietnam PM warns of economic calamity at ASEAN summit

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — Vietnam on Friday warned the virus pandemic had swept away years of economic gains as Southeast Asia leaders met online for a summit that will also be dominated by anxiety over Beijing’s moves in the flashpoint the South China Sea. The current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also wants to use the summit to inject momentum into talks on a sprawling China-backed trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive […]

Stranded Rohingya pulled to shore by sympathetic Indonesians

LHOKSEUMAWE, Indonesia (AFP) — Nearly 100 Rohingya asylum seekers stranded off the coast of Indonesia were pulled to shore Thursday by locals angered at the refusal of authorities to give them shelter over coronavirus fears. Some 94 people from the persecuted Myanmar minority — including 30 children — were reportedly plucked from a rickety wooden boat by fishermen this week before being intercepted by maritime officials from Sumatra island who pulled them closer to shore. […]

36th ASEAN Summit opens Friday; ASEAN leaders to attend historic summit online amid virus pandemic

  (Eagle News) — ASEAN Leaders are set to convene at the 36th ASEAN Summit via teleconference Friday, June 26, to “discuss how to further strengthen cooperation on public health emergencies and put in place a robust post-pandemic recovery plan.” The ASEAN Chair for this year is Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who will preside over the opening ceremony of the Summit. He will be joined by Leaders of other ASEAN Member […]

Singapore PM’s brother joins opposition before polls

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — The Singapore prime minister’s estranged brother said Wednesday he has joined an opposition party ahead of elections next month, presenting a new challenge to the country’s long-ruling government. The city-state’s parliament was dissolved Tuesday for a general election on July 10, even as the country struggles to recover from a major coronavirus outbreak that has swept through migrant worker dormitories. Lee Hsien Yang is locked in a long-running row with his […]

Strong quake jolts Indonesia’s Sulawesi island

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — A 5.9 magnitude earthquake jolted Indonesia’s Sulawesi island on Tuesday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, but there was no tsunami warning or immediate reports of damage. The strong offshore quake struck at a relatively deep 102 kilometres (63 miles). The epicentre was some 97.5 kilometres east south-east of Gorontalo city in North Sulawesi, according to USGS. Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones. The Southeast Asian […]

Indonesia’s Mt Merapi erupts, spewing ash 6 km high

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia’s Mount Merapi, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupted twice on Sunday, sending clouds of grey ash 6,000 metres into the sky, the country’s geological agency said. The two eruptions lasted around seven minutes, according to the agency, and prompted local authorities to order residents to stay outside a three-kilometer no-go zone around the rumbling crater near Indonesia’s cultural capital Yogyakarta. The agency did not raise the volcano’s alert […]

Cafes, shops reopen as Singapore eases virus curbs

  SINGAPORE (AFP) — Shops and cafes reopened in Singapore on Friday as coronavirus measures were relaxed — but the city-state’s leader warned people “not to go overboard celebrating”. More than two months after a partial lockdown was imposed, massage parlours and spas also resumed operations while beaches were no longer off limits and sports and other facilities opened again. “I feel happy because I can come out… a few restrictions still apply but I’m […]

Laos government declares victory over COVID after all 19 patients recover from virus

  (Eagle News) — EBC correspondent Marianne Leal in Laos reports how the Laos government has declared victory over COVID-19. Laos only has a total of 19 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak of the disease that had severely affected countries all over the world. Laos is one of the few countries with no COVID-19 fatality. All of the 19 coronavirus patients in Laos have already been discharged from hospitals. No new cases have also been […]

Indonesian military jet crashes into residential area

KAMPAR, Indonesia (AFP) — An Indonesian military fighter jet ploughed into a residential area in Sumatra on Monday, but the pilot ejected safely and there were no injuries on the ground, the air force said. The one-seater Hawk 209 was returning from training maneuvers when the pilot reported engine problems and ejected from the British-built plane, which then crashed into a group of empty houses, according to officials. No one on the ground in Kampar […]

Indonesia posts record virus infections as restrictions eased

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia posted a record number of coronavirus infections Wednesday, sparking calls from health experts for the world’s fourth most populous country to slam the brakes on easing restrictions. Last week, the capital Jakarta opened mosques for the first time in nearly three months, as its governor announced the gradual reopening of shuttered offices, restaurants, shopping malls and tourist attractions. Similar easing measures are happening across the vast archipelago, home […]