ASEAN IN FOCUS

Malaysia eases travel curbs as Covid outbreak slows

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia eased domestic and international travel curbs on Sunday for those fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as a fierce outbreak slows and inoculation rates rise. The Southeast Asian nation had faced its worst Covid-19 wave in recent months, prompting authorities to impose a tough nationwide lockdown. But with case numbers falling and the inoculation rollout picking up speed, authorities began lifting curbs, with businesses allowed to reopen and workers slowly […]

UN alarmed by Myanmar military moves

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — The United Nations voiced alarm Friday at Myanmar’s military junta deploying heavy weapons and troops to particular townships, fearing for the civilian population. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the deployment of two high-ranking commanders represented a worrying escalation in the situation. “Alarming reports indicate that there has been substantial deployment of heavy weapons and troops by the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, over the past few […]

ASEAN in talks on barring Myanmar junta chief from summit: envoy

BANDAR SERI BAGAWAN, Brunei (AFP) — Southeast Asian nations are discussing whether to exclude Myanmar’s junta chief from a summit due to slow progress on a plan to address turmoil after a coup in the country earlier this year, a top diplomat said Wednesday. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been under pressure to address unrest in the aftermath of the military power grab in February and a subsequent crackdown on dissent. But […]

Indonesia to partially reopen resort island Bali

  JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia will reopen the resort island of Bali to select international travellers next week, a senior minister said, after the pandemic starved the holiday hotspot of one of its primary sources of income. The island’s Ngurah Rai International Airport will be open to international travelers from South Korea, China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, and New Zealand as of October 14, maritime and investment minister Luhut Panjaitan told a […]

Malaysia summons Chinese envoy to protest South China Sea incursion

  KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia late Monday summoned Beijings’s envoy to the Southeast Asian country in protest after Chinese vessels entered its maritime economic zone in the disputed South China Sea. Kuala Lumpur summoned Chinese ambassador Ouyang Yujing “to convey Malaysia’s position and protest against the presence and activities of Chinese vessels, including a survey vessel, in Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone”, the foreign ministry said in a statement. The ministry accused China of […]

Six dead as Thai military battles rebels in restive south

NARATHIWAT, Thailand (AFP) — Six days of gun battles between soldiers and militants in Thailand’s restive south have left six people dead, the military said Monday, as troops hunt insurgents hiding in a swampy forest. Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been in the grip of a 17-year conflict that has killed more than 7,000 people, the majority civilians, as militants in the Muslim-majority region fight for more autonomy from the Thai state. The pandemic had […]

Trial of Myanmar’s Suu Kyi taking toll on her health: lawyer

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s health has suffered from her frequent appearances before a court run by the military junta that deposed her government, her lawyer said Monday. Suu Kyi went on trial in June, four months after she was taken into custody in a coup that plunged the country into turmoil. The 76-year-old faces a raft of charges, from sedition to illegally importing walkie-talkies, which could see her […]

Philippine election season kicks off

  by Allison JACKSON Agence France Presse MANILA, Philippines (AFP) — The Philippines’ election season kicked off Friday with TV celebrities, political scions and at least one inmate expected to be among thousands of candidates vying for posts from president to town councillor. A week-long registration process launches a typically noisy and deadly seven months of campaigning for more than 18,000 positions — but the raging pandemic and economic misery caused by Covid lockdowns could […]

Seven killed in Indonesia landslide

PADANG, Indonesia (AFP) — Seven people were killed in a landslide triggered by torrential storms on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, authorities said, as they warned continuing rainfall could cause further ground movement on Friday. A day after the landslide hit two adjacent houses in Padang Pariaman district on Wednesday, seven bodies were pulled out of the mud, while another person was rescued alive with broken bones. “All victims have been found after we were […]

Thai flood victims ‘start from zero’ after killer storm

LOPBURI, Thailand (AFP) — Watching his fridge float across the kitchen and bed disappear underwater was not how Samran Buachumsuk hoped to begin retirement at his newly built home in central Thailand. Flooding after tropical storm Dianmu has hit 31 provinces, killed seven people and inundated more than 215,000 households, authorities say. About 150 kilometres (93 miles) south, the capital is on alert — with floodwater expected to reach Bangkok late next week. In the […]

Bangkok on alert as 70,000 homes flooded in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Thai authorities on Tuesday rushed to protect parts of Bangkok from floodwaters that have already inundated 70,000 homes and killed six people in the country’s northern and central provinces. Tropical storm Dianmu has caused flooding in 30 provinces, with the kingdom’s central region the worst hit, the Thai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said. The level of the Chao Phraya River — which snakes through Bangkok after winding almost 400 kilometres […]

Thailand to cut quarantine for vaccinated tourists

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Thailand is to cut the quarantine for vaccinated travellers to seven days starting in October, officials said Monday, as it seeks to revive its battered tourism industry. Pre-pandemic Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year, but Covid-related travel restrictions have hammered the sector, contributing to the economy’s worst performance in more than 20 years. The kingdom is pushing to reopen despite still being in the grips of a deadly third […]