Coronavirus: Indonesia capital Jakarta gets tough on social distancing rules

The Indonesian capital of Jakarta decided late on Tuesday to impose “large-scale social restrictions” to curb the spread of coronavirus, introducing limits on public activity and enforcement patrols after an alarming surge of infections.In announcing the policy, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan told a press conference that the restrictions, which take effect on Friday, were for an initial period of two weeks, with the possibility of extension.Indonesia warned to be on guard for anti-Chinese…

Can Yale teach the secret of happiness in the time of coronavirus? A Singapore minister is finding out

When Singapore decided to close schools in its battle against the Covid-19s pandemic, education minister Ong Ye Kung had something extra in his portfolio to help him help students stay upbeat – a Yale University course on the “science of happiness”. “It was an eye opener, and helped me understand the challenges students are facing today, which youths of previous generations might not have encountered,” he said. Ong joined millions of people from more than 160 countries who have signed up for…

Australia High Court quashes Cardinal George Pell’s sex abuse convictions

Australia’s highest court has overturned the convictions of the most senior Catholic found guilty of child sex abuse.High Court Chief Justice Susan Kiefel announced the decision of the seven judges on Tuesday in the appeal of former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell. The decision means he will be released from Barwon Prison outside Melbourne after serving 13 months of a six-year sentence.Pope Francis’ former finance minister was convicted by a Victoria state jury in 2018 of sexually…

Coronavirus: Chinese experts to share frontline experience in Hubei with Philippine doctors

Two of the Philippines’ oldest hospitals hope to gain “precious” knowledge from a group of Chinese medical experts who have arrived in the Southeast Asian country to share their frontline experience fighting and containing the coronavirus pandemic.The 12 doctors are specialists in respiratory and infectious diseases, critical care, and integrated traditional Chinese and western medicine, said Huang Xilian, China’s envoy to the Philippines, who on Sunday welcomed the group on the tarmac. Huang…

Coronavirus: Singapore couple arrested for leaking notice of school closures

A public servant in Singapore accused of leaking a draft media statement on school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic has been arrested under the city state’s Official Secrets Act.The 37-year-old woman allegedly shared the statement by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education with her husband, 38, who is not authorised to receive such information. He has also been arrested under the act.Singapore millennials bond on Instagram during stay-home noticesThe…

Coronavirus quarantine murders and domestic violence mean Malaysian ministry’s sexist advice is no laughing matter

Confirmed coronavirus cases crossed 1 million last week and most of the world remains under lockdown or practising social distancing. One of the best pieces of advice on how to cope is to keep getting “ready in the morning” – get out of bed, change out of our pyjamas and try to maintain a semblance of normality as much as possible. When our days morph into night and night into day, and we lose count of how many days we’ve been living in our PJs, we are at risk of getting depressed. That’s no…

‘Slow-motion genocide’: coronavirus fears grow among refugees in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand

At the beginning of March, the Rohingya and Somali refugees housed at the Pelangi Hotel in Medan, in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra, received a visit from an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) representative. There was a deadly virus on the loose, the representative said, one which was already strangling China, Iran and Italy. Good hand washing was essential, the refugees were told, as was social distancing. The refugees, many of whom came to Indonesia more than nine…

‘Children in a dog cage’: how coronavirus puts Asia’s most vulnerable at greater risk of homelessness, human trafficking

In Ha Giang, on Northern Vietnam’s border with China, dozens of ethnic minority communities live untouched by modernity, scattered between limestone pinnacles, snaking roads and dramatic valleys.In more normal times, many of the children born into these communities are cared for in government-run boarding schools. But, since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus these schools have shut, forcing the children to return to their homes, where many find broken families, domestic violence and little…

Coronavirus is paving the way for a return to military rule in Asia

As governments in Southeast Asia struggle to contain the spread of Covid-19, poor leadership, weak institutions and high levels of public mistrust have exposed the fragility of countries that made a transition to more democratic government over the past two decades. The worry is that coping with Covid-19 will mean a return to authoritarian habits, backed by military power. Two trends are discernible. The first is the tendency in those countries that have experienced either direct military rule…

Coronavirus: food security, Asia’s next battle in a post-Covid world

In the mist-covered Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, vegetable and fruit farmers are struggling to package and transport their produce as they face a logistical nightmare caused by a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.In the Philippines, farmers’ rights activists are worrying more than ever about malnutrition among smallholders who – also faced with movement restrictions – are turning to subsisting on their own crops as money needed to buy vegetables and meat dries up.In Singapore – one of the world…