Friday, 23 Oct 2020

Asian Insider, Oct 2: Chinese netizens poke fun at Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, Indonesia’s stimulus plan draws fire, M’sian leaders draw flak after post-election coronavirus jump

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: Chinese netizens poke fun at Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, Protests erupt in India following woman’s death in rape case, Indonesia’s stimulus plan draws fire, Demand for service robots set to ‘explode’ in China, Malaysian leaders draw flak after post-election coronavirus jump, and more.

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As news of US President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis reached Beijing, Chinese netizens and state media reacted with a palpable sense of schadenfreude. Their reactions indicate the level of unhappiness amongst the Chinese over what they see as Mr Trump’s unfair and unreasonable pressure on China over the last few months on disputes, including his threat to ban popular Chinese-made apps WeChat and TikTok.

Mr Trump’s tweet on Friday (Oct 2) to announce his diagnosis was widely reported by Chinese state media and the hashtag #TrumpcoupletestpositiveforCovid-19 became the top trending topic on micro-blogging site Weibo, with over 800 million views as of Friday 4pm in Beijing, China correspondent Danson Cheong reports.

Read more: 

Trump tests positive for Covid-19: What happens if a US presidential candidate is incapacitated or dies before the election?

Trump tests positive for Covid-19: How the world reacted to US President’s announcement

US State Secretary Pompeo reconsidering his trip to Asia after Trump tests positive for coronavirus


A series of brutal rapes committed against women from India’s lowest castes are making national headlines across the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion, fuelling street protests and social media outrage that’s put Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration under the spotlight.

A 19-year-old woman from the Dalit caste – the lowest rung in Hinduism’s complex social hierarchy – died in a New Delhi hospital on Sept 29, two weeks after she was allegedly gang-raped by upper caste men from her north Indian village. Her mutilated body was found by her mother in the fields of her village in Hathras, in Uttar Pradesh.

For more:

Curbs on Indian village following anger over gang rape of teen

Anger after Indian police cremate gang-rape victim


Indonesia’s Parliament is on the verge of approving a sweeping coronavirus stimulus package that opponents charge would undermine worker protections and permit widespread destruction of the country’s rainforests. The legislation is backed by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and is seen as a way to attract investment and stimulate the creation of new jobs by reducing regulations on businesses. 

Its supporters hope to win passage before Parliament ends its session next Friday (Oct 9), even as opposition to the measure grows. A confederation of labour unions is calling for a three-day national strike starting next Tuesday over provisions in the Bill that would reduce job security, wages and mandatory days off. 

Read more on Indonesia’s economy:

Indonesia Parliament approves 2021 budget, aims for 5 per cent growth


Industry experts are expecting demand for service robots to rise in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic as businesses look to automation to both reduce risk of transmission of the virus as well as manpower costs, China correspondent Danson Cheong reports.

Before the pandemic, in August last year, the Chinese Institute of Electronics had already projected that Chinese sales of service robots would rise 33 per cent in 2019 to US$2.2 billion (S$3 billion) with growth outstripping markets elsewhere.

Read more:

Will robots take over jobs at restaurants?

Chinese ‘robotaxis’ take riders for a spin


Malaysians took to social media on Friday (Oct 2) to lambast the country’s politicians for violating social distancing protocols and refusing to self-isolate after the country recorded its second-highest spike in daily coronavirus cases following a state election last week.

The hashtags #PoliticiansCauseVirus and #MinisterCluster were trending on Twitter in Malaysia after ministers and political figures were reported attending public events upon their return from campaigning in Sabah. At least two politicians tested positive on the campaign trail, while cases linked to travel to Sabah have been recorded in all 13 Malaysian states.

Read more:

All schools in Sabah to close for two weeks after teacher dies from Covid-19, official says

Get the latest Covid-19 updates at our dedicated website.


SUGA’S EARLY SIGNALS HINT AT ASSERTIVE JAPAN: Mr Yoshihide Suga’s first major diplomatic initiative is the meeting of Quadrilateral Dialogue foreign ministers he is hosting in Tokyo next Tuesday (Oct 6), and there are strong indications that his first overseas trip as prime minister could be to Vietnam, which Tokyo has been assiduously wooing for years as it seeks reliable partners to balance China, says ST Associate Editor Ravi Velloor.

INDONESIA REVISES RULE ON ENTRY BAN FOR SINGAPORE TRAVEL: Indonesia is opening travel corridors to allow businesspeople, experts, investors and state officials to enter the country, the minister of law and human rights Yasonna Laoly has said. The country is in talks with Singapore, after agreeing to arrangements with the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and China. 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES PARENT COMPANY SAYS GROUP IS RUNNING OUT OF CASH: Malaysia Aviation Group, the holding company for Malaysia Airlines, said in a letter to lessors the group is unlikely to be able to make payments owed after November unless it receives more funding from state fund Khazanah. The letter, reviewed by Reuters, follows a request by the troubled carrier for steep discounts on aircraft rentals from its lessors as part of a broad restructuring plan, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed today’s stories, and do check back next week for more insightful reads. 

Choo Kiong

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