Philippines ‘learning crisis’ as kids face second year of remote schooling

  by Cecil MORELLA Agence France Presse MANILA, Philippines (AFP) — Classrooms in the Philippines were silent Monday as millions of school children hunkered down at home for a second year of remote lessons that experts fear will worsen an educational “crisis”. While nearly every country in the world has partially or fully reopened schools to in-person classes, the Philippines has kept them closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN says. President […]

China gifts new $150 million national stadium to Cambodia

China handed over to Cambodia a $150 million stadium in Phnom Penh, with officials saying Sunday it is the result of Beijing’s biggest ever infrastructure grant to the country. The 60,000-capacity venue is the latest project under China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative, a plan to fund infrastructure projects and increase its sway overseas. The presentation of the arena, intended as the main venue when Cambodia hosts the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2023, was […]

Mass Covid testing launched in Bangkok’s biggest slum

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — For families struggling to survive on $150 a month in Bangkok’s biggest slum, coronavirus swab tests are a luxury that few can afford. The Khlong Toei slum, where an estimated 100,000 people live packed into tiny, overcrowded dwellings, has been a major concern as Thailand battles its third wave of the pandemic. Now the Bangkok Community Help Foundation, a charity, has launched a mass testing drive to try to identify cases […]

Indonesian prison fire kills 41

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — A fire tore through an Indonesian prison on Java island on Wednesday, killing 41 people and injuring dozens of others, an official said. The blaze at the Tangerang Penitentiary, just outside the capital Jakarta, broke out in the early hours when most inmates were asleep. Rescue teams were able to put out the fire, which was mostly contained in one block that housed prisoners jailed over drug charges, at around 3:00 […]

Vietnam jails man for five years for spreading Covid

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — A Vietnamese man has been sentenced to five years in jail for spreading Covid-19 after he breached home quarantine rules. Le Van Tri was convicted of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to other people” after he travelled to his home province Ca Mau from coronavirus hotspot Ho Chi Minh City in July, according to a report on the website of the provincial People’s Court. The 28-year old was accused of breaching a […]

US VP Harris’ trip to Hanoi delayed due to ‘health incident’: embassy

US Vice President Kamala Harris’ flight from Singapore to Vietnam was delayed by three hours Tuesday after an “anomalous health incident” took place in Hanoi, the US embassy said. Harris was due in Vietnam after a two-day stop in Singapore as part of a regional trip. “The Vice President’s travelling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the Vice President’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in […]

Beijing continues to coerce, intimidate in South China Sea: Harris

US Vice President Kamala Harris accused Beijing on Tuesday of coercion and intimidation in the hotly disputed South China Sea, as she sought to rally allies against an increasingly assertive China. “Beijing continues to coerce, to intimidate and to make claims to the vast majority of the South China Sea,” she said in a speech in Singapore, laying out her administration’s foreign policy goals for Asia. “Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and […]

Indonesian ex-official jailed for 12 years in virus graft case

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia’s ex-social affairs minister was jailed for 12 years on Monday after being convicted of taking $1.2 million in bribes linked to food aid for poor families hit by the coronavirus pandemic. A Jakarta court handed out the stiff sentence to Juliari Batubara following his December arrest and a sting operation that turned up suitcases, backpacks and envelopes stuffed with cash. “The court sentences the defendant to 12 years in prison […]

Malaysia’s new PM pleas for unity to fix virus-hit economy

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia’s new prime minister called on his colleagues Sunday to end a months-long political crisis and come together to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, in his first speech as the country’s fourth premier in as many years. Just days after the previous government collapsed in a storm of political infighting, Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged lawmakers to unite to help the country recover from the pandemic. “The political crisis that has hit […]

US VP Harris vows ‘enduring engagement’ in Asia

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — Vice President Kamala Harris vowed “enduring engagement” in Asia on Monday, offering reassurances of Washington’s commitment to the region following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover. “Our administration is committed to enduring engagement in Singapore, into Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific,” Harris said on a visit to Singapore, just days after the hardline Islamists seized power in Kabul. “The reason I am here is that the United […]

US VP Harris begins Asia trip amid Afghan debacle

Vice President Kamala Harris began a trip to Asia Sunday where she will offer reassurances of Washington’s commitment to the region after the chaotic US pullout from Afghanistan and Taliban takeover. The hardline Islamists’ swift return to power a week ago, and desperate scenes of thousands trying to flee, have cast another shadow over the United States’ status as a global superpower. But on her visit, which includes stops in Singapore and Vietnam, Harris will seek to […]

Malaysian king meets party leaders in hunt for new PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia’s king met political party chiefs Tuesday as the hunt began for a new prime minister, a day after the last leader quit. Muhyiddin Yassin resigned Monday after a turbulent 17 months in office, plunging the country into political turmoil as it battles a worsening coronavirus outbreak. He fell on his sword after members of his crisis-riven coalition pulled support, and amid mounting public anger at his government’s handling of […]