South China Sea: Philippine navy chief warns of Chinese ‘provocation’

The Philippine navy chief has called for a diplomatic protest to be filed against the presence of two Chinese research ships in a disputed area of the South China Sea.Vice-Admiral Giovanni Bacordo told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on Monday the Chinese vessels had been near the Reed Bank for “about a week already” and that due to their speed of “about three knots” the navy had concluded they were “conducting surveys”.Explained: South China Sea dispute“We have…

Coronavirus a ‘test of competence’ for Philippine government, says Duterte critic Maria Ressa

The Philippine government’s priorities “have not focused enough” on containing the coronavirus pandemic, prominent journalist Maria Ressa has said, as the number of infections crossed 140,000.President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has launched attacks on politicians and journalists, leading to a divided society, Ressa told Kyodo News in an interview.“It sees the problem by dividing society, by demonising people,” Ressa said. “Journalists are demonised. Opposition politicians are demonised…

Indian millennials escape big cities for more low-key small town lifestyles

Pradyumna Damani wakes up to the sight of coconut trees outside his windows and the sound of mooing cows on his dairy farm in the small village of Munnur on the South Indian coast. The 27-year-old’s day begins early, supervising the milking of cows, pasteurisation, packing and delivery.He runs his two-year-old company Fat Cow Dairy with his younger brother and they have more than 150 cows on 55 acres.The brothers are meticulous about sustainable farming, ensuring fresh grass for indigenous cows…

Plastic pollution plagues Southeast Asia amid Covid-19 lockdowns

Adam Reza is among those for whom environmental awareness took a back seat to health concerns during Malaysia’s national lockdown earlier this year to curb the spread of Covid-19. Despite making a conscious effort to be mindful, he estimates his use of plastics increased by up to 80 per cent as people were confined indoors for more than 90 days as the pandemic raged.“I’m not exactly a green conscious guy, but before the lockdown I did make a conscious effort to be mindful,” said management…

Survivors of deadly Air India crash describe how plane swayed, nosedived after landing

Seated on the last row of the plane, Muhammed Junaid sensed something was amiss when Air India Express flight IX 1344 from Dubai was jerked around by strong winds as it approached the southern Indian city of Kozhikode late on Friday.After an aborted attempt, the aircraft swung around and touched down on the runway, said Junaid, who like many others on-board worked in the Middle East but was forced to return home when his salary halved because of the Covid-19 pandemic.But instead of slowing down…

Singapore coronavirus cases to ‘taper down significantly’ as migrant workers’ testing ends

Singapore’s daily coronavirus case count is set to dip significantly in the coming weeks, authorities say, turning a corner as the testing of some 300,000 migrant workers living in cramped dormitories – once the epicentre of the city state’s outbreak – is completed.From a peak of 1,426 new cases in one 24-hour period on April 20, Singapore now records between 200 and 400 new infections each day, on average. Occasional spikes, such as the 908 cases reported on Wednesday, have been caused by a…

China no longer top clothes exporter to US as Vietnam gains market share

Seven months ago, China was still the largest supplier of products for fashion companies in the United States, but its significant advantage over Vietnam has since evaporated because of the coronavirus and the decoupling tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. US apparel imports from China, by value, dropped from almost 30 per cent in 2019 to 20 per cent in the first half of 2020, now on par with Vietnam after the Southeast Asian nation improved its market share from 16 per cent…

Mahathir launches new party as Malaysia’s power struggle intensifies

The Malaysian elder statesman Mahathir Mohamad on Friday took another throw of the dice in the country’s relentless power struggle as he launched a new political party to contest elections against rivals who seized power from him in March. Mahathir, who has felled three prime ministers in seven decades and occupied the hot seat twice himself, said in a press conference the new Malay-centric party would not align itself with either of the country’s major political blocs – Prime Minister…

Malaysia’s former finance minister arrested on graft charges over China-linked tunnel project

Former Malaysian finance minister Lim Guan Eng has been arrested following corruption investigations into a China-linked US$1.5 billion undersea tunnel project, the government said on Thursday.Lim, a key member of the Pakatan Harapan government ousted in March, will spend the night in detention before appearing in court on Friday to face corruption charges.In a brief statement, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said Lim faced three separate arraignments on Friday, Monday and…

Malaysian foreign minister sorry after caught vaping in parliament

A video depicting Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein vaping during Parliamentary proceedings is making its rounds on social media.The video shows Hishammuddin sneaking a vape behind his face mask while his colleague, Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong, is speaking during Parliamentary proceedings.The eight-second video is believed to have been taken on Monday, when Dr Wee was delivering his winding-up speech. Hishammuddin, however, apologised on Twitter and promised not to vape…