Southeast Asia

Dateline Southeast Asia – November 24 to 30, 2020

Dateline Southeast Asia – November 24 to 30, 2020


Like the rest of the world, Southeast Asia anxiously waits for the arrival of the vaccines that would eradicate the highly-infectious COVID-19. But already countries like Indonesia, the region’s largest, have voiced their anxieties over the logistical enormity of the situation they would face.

How is Southeast Asia ready to vaccinate its population of about 670 million?

We bring you the latest from Indonesia, and 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.


Thai protest leaders charged with royal defamation

Thai police charged 5 key leaders of the country’s pro-democracy protest movement Monday, November 30, under the kingdom’s tough royal defamation laws, the first such use of the controversial legislation in two years.

Section 112 of the Thai penal code is one of the world’s toughest lese majeste laws, shielding the ultra-powerful King Maha Vajiralongkorn from criticism.

But in recent months leaders of the pro-democracy movement have called for reforms to the monarchy – including for the law’s abolition – a move that has sent shockwaves through Thai society.

Read more here.

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

Vietnam reports 1st community virus in almost 3 months

Vietnam reported its first local transmission of COVID-19 in nearly 3 months on Monday, November 30, with officials scrambling to prevent a wider outbreak in the country’s most populous city.

The communist nation was applauded earlier this year for controlling the pandemic with strict restrictions on movement, extensive quarantine measures, and a robust track-and-trace regime.

But late on Monday, the health ministry announced that that it had detected coronavirus in a 32-year-old man in Ho Chi Minh City, a relative of a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant who tested positive on the weekend.

“A temporary lockdown has been made on locations (in the city) where the patient had visited,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that dozens of people in contact with the latest case had been put under quarantine.

Vietnam has recorded just 1,347 coronavirus cases and 35 deaths across a country of 95 million.

Life has almost returned to normal in the country over the past almost 3 months, despite a summer outbreak centered on the beach resort city of Danang that put health authorities back on high alert. 

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

‘World’s loneliest elephant’ lands in Cambodia, greeted by Cher

An elephant dubbed the “world’s loneliest” landed in Cambodia Monday, November 30, from Pakistan, receiving a warm welcome from American superstar Cher who will accompany him to a sanctuary housing potential mates.

The case of Kaavan – an overweight, 36-year-old bull elephant – sparked global uproar from animal rights groups, who petitioned for his move from an Islamabad zoo accused of substandard care and conditions.

His cause was boosted by a spirited social media campaign by Cher, who travelled to Pakistan to see him off.

Read more here.

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

SINGAPORE: More men choosing to be pre-school teachers

Slowly but surely, more men are applying to become early childhood educators, with pre-schools still looking to recruit despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to The New Paper, there are now about 160 men among the 21,000 pre-school educators in the nation, up from 130 in 2018. While the numbers are still small, some pre-school operators express hope for more positive male role models for their students.

“As long as you are sincere, whatever misconceptions parents may have, they will slowly change. You have to earn the trust, you cannot demand it,” says See Weng Hong, a newly-hired teacher at PCF Sparkletots.

Marguerite de Leon

Malaysia election after pandemic ends – PM Yassin

INDONESIA: ISIS-linked militants kill 4 Christians

Islamic State-linked extremists killed 4 people in a remote Christian community on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, authorities said Saturday, November 28, with one victim beheaded and another burned to death.

The group of sword-and-gun wielding attackers ambushed Lembantongoa village in Central Sulawesi province Friday morning, November 27, killing several residents and torching half a dozen homes, including one used for regular prayers and services, police said.

No arrests had yet been made and the motive for the attack was not immediately clear. Read story here.

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

Thai protesters practice ‘coup prevention’ in latest rally

INDONESIA: Man collapses during flogging for child rape

An Indonesian man collapsed as he was flogged nearly 150 times Thursday, November 26, for raping a child in conservative Aceh province, where public whipping is a common punishment for violating Islamic law.

The 19-year-old grimaced and cried out as a masked sharia officer lashed his back with a rattan stick in the town of Idi.

He pleaded for the punishment to stop and was briefly treated by doctors before the flogging restarted. Read the story here.

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

Thai protesters practice ‘coup prevention’ in latest rally

Thousands of democracy activists blocked a major junction in Bangkok Friday, November 27, to rehearse “coup prevention” strategies in the latest round of Thailand’s anti-government protests.

The country has for months been rocked by youth-led protests demanding a new constitution, reform of the untouchable monarchy, and for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha to resign.

Prayut, who came to power in a 2014 coup, this week played down the prospects of being overthrown or introducing martial law.

Read more here.

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

The Vietnamese designer convincing the young to choose tradition