WHO designates coronavirus strain in India as ‘variant of concern’

A Covid-19 variant spreading in India, which is facing an explosive outbreak, appears to be more contagious and has been classified as being “of concern”, the World Health Organization said on Monday.The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 first found in India last October might also have some increased resistance to vaccine protections.“There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of the B.1.617,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s lead on Covid-19,…

Malaysian investment fund 1MDB sues global firms in effort to recoup US$23 billion

Malaysian state-owned investment fund 1MDB and a former unit have filed a combined 22 civil suits against entities and individuals for the recovery of assets worth more than US$23 billion.1MDB, whose full name is 1Malaysia Development Berhad, filed six suits against nine entities, including two foreign financial institutions, and 25 individuals for various wrongdoings, including fraud and conspiracy to defraud the fund, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Monday.SRC International Sdn…

New Zealand’s bid to find middle between its Western allies and China not lost on Beijing: experts

The New Zealand parliament’s unanimous declaration last week that human rights abuses were occurring in China’s Xinjiang province drew condemnation from Beijing, but the removal of the term “genocide” suggested Wellington is unwilling to jeopardise relations, analysts said.The experts also said the attempt to find a middle ground between New Zealand’s largest trading partner and its “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance – which includes the US, Britain, Australia and Canada, who have all…

Ramadan dos and don’ts spark debate among Asia’s Muslim communities

As Ramadan enters its final days, a spate of incidents has led to renewed debate online about religious piety and whether behaviour during the Muslim fasting month should be policed. In Singapore, where about 15 per cent of the population are Muslim, a viral video has emerged showing a woman scolding an Indonesian worker for eating during daylight hours, threatening to report the worker to MUIS, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. Internet users rushed to the worker’s defence,…

Coronavirus: Britain unveils countries on travel green list, including Singapore, Australia and New Zealand

Britain will allow people in England to resume international travel from May 17 but is limiting the number of destinations open for quarantine-free holidays to just a handful of countries as it cautiously emerges from lockdown restrictions.Portugal, Israel, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore all made the green list for travel in a system that will be reviewed every three weeks, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. Popular destinations such as France, Spain and Greece did not.Airlines,…

Give Singapore’s 4G ministers space to pick new leader, says former PM Goh Chok Tong

Singapore’s former prime minister Goh Chok Tong has urged citizens to give space to the younger ministers of the ruling People’s Action Party as they pick a new leader among themselves following the “hiccup” of the country’s prime-minister-in-waiting stepping aside.Goh said the process, which will in effect determine who will succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, was not just an “internal PAP problem” but a national issue. “This is an important decision for Singapore,” said Goh, who led the…

Vexed over coronavirus response, young Thais set up Facebook group to share tips on moving abroad

Hundreds of thousands of Thai students and young professionals dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the slow pace of vaccinations have formed an online group to discuss ways to quit the country for good.The Facebook group called “Migrate” has garnered more than 800,000 members in less than a week of being set up. It has become a platform for people to discuss pathways for emigration, with participants seeking advice and Thais already living abroad sharing…