Southeast Asia

Dateline Southeast Asia – December 1 to 7, 2020

Dateline Southeast Asia – December 1 to 7, 2020


As vaccine news brings hope to the world, here in our region, countries with success stories like Vietnam are seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases, leaving officials scrambling to prevent wider outbreaks.

Will a proposed ASEAN travel bubble push through in early 2021?

In the Philippines, one of the countries with the longest lockdowns in the world, minors may soon be allowed to leave their homes and enter malls as long as they are accompanied by their parents.

We bring you the latest from across the region on Dateline Southeast Asia, our dynamic wrap of the latest from 10 countries each week.

Bookmark and refresh this page for updates and analyses of the latest news in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


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Trash tracking satellites help Indonesia tackle marine waste

Trash tracking satellites help Indonesia tackle marine waste

VIETNAM: China must respect our sovereignty on East Sea

Vietnam demands that China respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said Thursday, December 3, according to a report by VietnamPlus.

All activities without Vietnam’s permission at the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos violate their country’s sovereignty and international law, thus having no legal validity, Hang said in reply to a reporter’s question regarding China’s recent moves in the East Sea.

The reporter mentioned China’s latest moves in the East Sea, including Hainan province’s announcement to resume travel tours to Hoang Sa, and the Chinese navy receiving a hospital ship at the wharf on Da Chu Thap (Fiery Cross Reef) in Truong Sa archipelago.

THAILAND: Floods kill 9 in southern region

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

FLOODS. This undated handout photo released by the Royal Thai Army on December 3, 2020 shows security forces wading through flood waters in Surat Thani province in southern Thailand, following days of heavy rains. (Photo by Handout / ROYAL THAI ARMY / AFP)

Flash floods have claimed at least 9 lives in southern Thailand and affected half a million people, officials said Thursday as the region braced for even more rain.

The deaths all came in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, where a state of emergency has been declared. The youngest victim was just five years old.

Scores of homes have been damaged and more than half a million people from 210,000 households are affected. Almost 150,000 hectares of farmland is under water. Read complete story here.

SINGAPORE: US$5 million pledged to ensure COVID-19 vaccine for poor nations

Marguerite de Leon

According to a report in The Straits Times, Singapore will be contributing US$5 million to the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) under the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. The AMC aims to ensure that manufacturers also produce enough COVID-19 vaccines so that poorer nations may also get vaccinated.

AMC-eligible countries include several from the ASEAN, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam.

“The virus does not respect borders, and no one is safe until everyone is safe,” said the Health Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry.

THAILAND: Protesters seethe over acquittal of PM

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

Demonstrators by the thousands jam the streets of Bangkok angered by the kingdom’s nine-member constitutional court ruling that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha was not guilty of conflict of interest by living in an army residence after leaving the military. Read the story here.

INDONESIA: Because of infection surge, hotels to be tapped for COVID isolation

In light of the rising COVID-19 hospitalizations in South Tangerang, Banten, Mayor Airin Rachmi Diany is looking at providing hotel rooms for self-isolating asymptomatic carriers. On Monday, November 30, the South Tangerang COVID-19 task force reported 19 new patients, bringing the total of people in hospital to 331.

A report in the Jakarta Post said, several COVID-19 hospitals in the city have started to run out of beds, with a report from the South Tangerang Health Agency saying that 22 referral hospitals are now at 80% occupancy, well above the 60% bed occupancy rate suggested by the World Health Organization.

Earlier in mid-October, the mayor had suggested using hotels as an alternative facility for asymptomatic carriers to self-isolate. “Hotels are willing to accommodate [asymptomatic carriers] if they are asked to,” Airin added.

Vietnam, Laos resume flights

Vietnam and Laos have restarted commercial flights between their, following months of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the news site TTG Asia.

The inaugural flight between Hanoi and Vientiane was operated by national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines from November 29-30, at the time of Vietnamese deputy prime minister and foreign minister Pham Binh Minh’s visit to Laos, reported the Hanoi Times.

Minh had visited Laos to co-chair the 7th annual foreign ministerial-level political consultation with Lao foreign minister Saleumxay Kommasith, and boost the implementation of key joint projects between the two countries, according to the report.

As of December 1, Vietnam has reported 1,351 Covid-19 infections and 35 deaths, while Laos has had 39 cases and no deaths.

INDONESIA: Look at villages near restive volcano

Here’s a look at the restive Mt. Semeru of Indonesia.

MYANMAR: 100 poll workers got COVID-19 during elections

More than 100 educators contracted COVID-19 while serving as poll workers in the November 8 elections, including two who have died, according to the Myanmar Teachers Federation (MTF).

“The number has reached 100. Most of those infected started showing symptoms within 3 to 5 days before going to a health clinic. They were sent to a quarantine centre, and some were sent to hospital on November 20. After 11 days, they were discharged (on December 1),” said U Zaw Myo Hlaing, federation secretary in a report by the Myanmar Times.

He added that most of the patients had been discharged, and those who are still in hospital are in good condition.