Singaporeans open their hearts and wallets to donate to the needy during coronavirus outbreak

The early months of the Covid-19 pandemic sent Nirmala Murugaian into a blind panic. As Singapore slipped into an economic downturn, funds plummeted at Child at Street 11, the non-profit childcare centre that she runs.Parents could no longer afford to pay childcare fees as they were hit by job losses or pay cuts. Funds from corporate donors quickly dried up as cost-cutting measures kicked in.The centre, which currently has 55 children from low-income families and largely relies on donations,…

In otter-loving Singapore, growing calls for crackdown after animals raid spa during coronavirus circuit breaker

Life was already hardscrabble for the seven river otters known as the Zouk family.Prime land next to Singapore’s sparkling waterways brimming with fish had been seized by other clans, forcing the hapless group to wander the city state each day in search of food and shelter. But few noticed their forays until a coronavirus shutdown known as the circuit breaker was imposed in April.With the streets nearly emptied, the Zouks – named after a local nightclub – started appearing in unexpected places:…

Chinese students in South Korea indicted for defacing pro-Hong Kong Lennon Walls in October 2019

A group of Chinese students in South Korea, who last year removed pro-Hong Kong posters from a university campus, are facing fines after being charged with damaging property, according to local media reports.The eight students are accused of defacing Lennon Walls created by Korean students at Yonsei University expressing support for Hong Kong, where a proposed extradition bill sparked months of anti-government protests from June last year.The banners, which contained slogans such as “Liberate…

Philippines bolsters posture in South China Sea after navy ship docks at new Spratly Islands port

Two recent developments in the South China Sea are poised to enhance the Philippines’ position in the increasingly tense flashpoint and allay criticism that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration is lacking resolve in defending the country’s interests.On May 13, Philippine Navy ship BRP Ivatan became the first vessel to dock at the nearly-completed port of Pag-asa (Thitu Island), Manila’s largest occupied feature in the Spratly Islands in the disputed sea.And last weekend, the country’s…

Coronavirus: thousands of migrant workers in Maldives stranded as tourism dries up

Tens of thousands of impoverished foreign labourers have been left stranded and ostracised in one of the world’s most densely packed cities as the tourist paradise of the Maldives battles the novel coronavirus.The turquoise waters and pristine beaches that draw honeymoon couples from around the world have been empty for weeks since a government order to close all resorts. That has left an army of migrant workers jobless.Like Singapore, which recorded a large number of coronavirus cases among…

Singapore unveils fourth stimulus budget of US$23.2 billion to save jobs

Singapore on Tuesday unveiled a staggering S$33 billion worth of fresh stimulus measures to bring the total injections this year to nearly S$100 billion (US$70.4 billion), with the government stressing it will go all out to save as many jobs as possible as the coronavirus-battered economy heads into a tailspin.Economists and market watchers had expected the fourth round of measures to have amounted to no more than S$10 billion, and had viewed today’s announcement as an extension to the over S…

Domestic flights in India to resume, even as coronavirus cases rise

Domestic flights will resume across India on Monday after a day of “hard negotiations”, the federal civil aviation minister said on Sunday, after some states sought to limit the number of flights.Flights will restart under an easing of restrictions imposed over the coronavirus, though the number of new cases rose by a record 24-hour amount on Sunday. The 6,767 new cases took the total to over 131,000.Airlines are preparing to resume about a third of their domestic flight operations from Monday,…

Malaysian workers in Singapore spend emotional Hari Raya Puasa without loved ones

Alone in her rented room in Singapore, Malaysian worker Siti Fatimah Awang waited for a video call on Sunday.The morning of Hari Raya Puasa was to her, utterly unfamiliar. Back in her village in Johor Baru, the dawn of this festive occasion – which marks the end of the fasting month – was usually a race against time getting everything ready before her husband and other male relatives returned home from prayers at the mosque.She would run after her two sons to get them dressed, before helping…

Soaring coronavirus infections dampen Eid celebrations in Asia

Millions of Muslims in Indonesia were marking a muted and gloomy holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan – a usually joyous three-day celebration that has been significantly toned down as coronavirus cases soar.The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, with more than 240 million people, has reported nearly 22,000 infections and 1,350 fatalities, the most in Southeast Asia. It means no congregational prayers at mosques and open fields, no family reunions, no relatives…

Coronavirus: Philippines braces for ‘perfect storm’ as rainy season brings dengue, flu, measles

As the Philippines’ rainy season approaches, experts are warning that “a perfect storm” of diseases could overwhelm the country’s weak health care system, which is already struggling to cope during the coronavirus pandemic.Apart from concerns about the capacity of health centres to treat patients, many of the seasonal illnesses, such as dengue, exhibit similar symptoms as the novel coronavirus in the beginning stages, worrying doctors.“June is [the onset of] the rainy season. That means dengue,…