Wednesday, 1 Apr 2020

Asian Insider Oct 7: Hong Kong picks up the pieces, electric cars in India, PMDs on notice in Singapore


In today’s bulletin: Hong Kong is slowly returning to normalcy after three days of violence; Malaysia is trying again to repeal a controversial fake news law; electric cars fail to make a dent in the Indian car market; Singapore raises the possibility of a PMD ban, and more…

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Train services resumed on a limited basis and shuttered supermarkets reopened as normalcy returned slowly to Hong Kong after three days of rampaging by protesters. The mood on the ground was largely muted on what was a public holiday in the city but no one expects the calm to last for long. A variety of business – including betting outlets and supermarkets – announced they would be closing early in anticipation of further unrest later today. Authorities meanwhile indicated they don’t intend to back down, with two anti-government protesters – the first people arrested after an anti-mask law was put in place were charged in court for illegally wearing a mask. China also demonstrated its willingness to punish foreigners who may want to intervene in Hong Kong. Chinese firms today suspended cooperation with the NBA’s Houston Rockets over a pro-Hong Kong tweet from the team’s general manager.

What you need to know about Hong Kong Today:

First Hong Kongers appear in court for defying mask ban

Chinese businesses, broadcaster punish Houston Rockets over manager’s Hong Kong protest tweet

Owner of NBA team Brooklyn Nets says China sovereignty off-limits after Rockets-Hong Kong row

Video of mainlander assaulted in Hong Kong sparks outrage in China


Nearly four months of protests have inflicted a heavy toll on Hong Kong on all fronts. With the movement showing few signs of abating, our correspondents on the ground look at the price Hong Kong is paying for the long-drawn protests through the eyes of the ordinary folk who have to live through the effects of the unrest every day. In this special report, our correspondents speak to a mother who has been shunned by her sons because she supports the government; a government supporter who now turns up at street battles with the police and veteran of the metro network who says he no longer recognises the city he knows.

A society split, families divided

A mother’s anguish

How government supporter became front-line protester

This is not the city I know, says MTR veteran

Interactive: The march of Hong Kong’s protest movement


In this day and age, it is perhaps more common to hear of a country attempting to enact a fake news law rather than repeal one but that is exactly what Malaysia is trying to do.  To be fair, Malaysia’s fake news law is a little different – having been widely criticised as a means of stifling dissent when it rushed through the legislature just before the election last year. Still, an earlier attempt to repeal it failed when Malaysia’s senate did not go along with the Lower House.

See also: Fending off foreign threats: How 6 countries are working to curb interference in national politics


India’s car market remains something of an enigma for car manufacturers. It is a country million drivers with density of 27 cars for 1,000 Indians (There are 570 cars for every 1,000 Germans). And while that suggests potential, few car makers have managed to succeed there. Instead, Maruti, a Japanese brand dominates the market with almost every other car on the road coming from the unit of Suzuki Motors. Electric vehicles was thus seen as one possible way in, especially given the Indian government committed to spending US$1.4 billion in subsidies, infrastructure and publicity to promote green vehicles. But that hasn’t been working out either. Hyundai launched the country’s first electric SUV there this summer and since then, only 130 have been sold to dealers. 

India’s push for green vehicles:

Green cars in spotlight as India eyes electric revolution

India plans to order taxi aggregators like Uber, Ola to go electric


Personal mobility devices: some consider them the bane of pavements while others as an integral piece of a holistic transport system. However, a spate of accidents involving PMDs – many of them that did not comply with regulations – is raising the question in Singapore of whether should be banned outright. Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament today that a complete ban is a possibility if the behaviour of users does not improve.

The PMD debate in Singapore: PMDs – Bane of many, Boon to others


Nobel Prize for Medicine:  Two scientists from the United States and one from Britain won the 2019 Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday (Oct 7) for finding how cells adapt to fluctuating oxygen levels, paving the way for new strategies to fight diseases such as anaemia and cancer.

Impeachment saga:  A parade of United States diplomats will head to Capitol Hill for closed-door testimony this week as Democrats build their impeachment case against President Donald Trump, while the White House considers ways to slow down the process.

Syria: US forces in Syria started pulling back on Monday (Oct 7) from Turkish border areas, opening the way for Ankara’s threatened military invasion and heightening fears of a militant resurgence. 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.


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