Asian Insider, July 29: Hong Kong faces worst wave of coronavirus, Japan may curb TikTok, Indonesian Muslims go online for Hari Raya rituals

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: Coronavirus continues its rampage across Asia, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin asks countrymen to have faith in the country’s judicial system after verdict on Najib Razak, Japan lawmakers seek to curb TikTok, Big tech firms face antitrust grilling in US, Indonesian Muslims go online this Hari Raya, and more.

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HONG KONG FACES WORST WAVE OF CORONAVIRUS; 400 TOURISTS STRANDED IN VIETNAM

The coronavirus pandemic continues its assault on regions in Asia, adding new victims to the number of those infected and dead.

Hong Kong, which managed to contain its first and second waves effectively, is having a tough time containing its latest wave with the number of coronavirus infections in the city now over 3,000 cases. New infections have broken records in nine of the last 20 days.  

Vietnam was bracing for its second wave with newer cases still being reported in Danang, from where infections have spread to other locations in the country. Vietnam was among the first countries in South-east Asia to restart businesses after the first wave of coronavirus, once it successfully contained the spread of the pandemic.

Thailand, meanwhile, extended its state of emergency to curb Covid-19, by one more month as a precautionary measure.

Here are some of the latest updates: 

Japan’s daily Covid-19 toll worse than during state of emergency

North Korea tells foreigners in capital to follow rules amid coronavirus crackdown

New coronavirus turns out to be decades old – in bats

MUHYIDDIN SAYS HIS GOVT WILL UPHOLD RULE OF LAW AFTER NAJIB’S VERDICT

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called on Malaysians to continue to have faith in the country’s judiciary following the High Court’s guilty verdict against ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, on seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. 

He said the government respects Najib’s right to appeal and asked for space for the legal process to take place to ensure justice is upheld.

Meanwhile, Najib today paid his RM1 million bail, to remain free pending his appeal in the 1MDB case. 

Read also: 

Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh: Najib out of running if KL calls snap polls

JAPAN MAY CURB USE OF CHINESE-OWNED TIKTOK

Lawmakers in Japan, seem to be following those in the United States, to push for measures to restrict the use of Chinese video app TikTok. Their concerns largely stem from data privacy issues.

A group of lawmakers led by former economy minister Akira Amari made the decision at a meeting yesterday and plan to submit a proposal to the government as early as September.

ByteDance Technology’s popular TikTok app is facing scrutiny in the United States over concerns that China could force the company to turn over its user data.

Also read: 

US Senate panel okays Bill banning TikTok app on govt-issued devices

China’s TikTok halts plans for global base in UK 

BIG TECH CEOS TO FACE GRILLING IN US CONGRESS

The chief executives of the world’s four largest tech companies – Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet’s Google – will argue that they face competition from each other and other rivals, at a congressional hearing on antitrust, being watched globally, today.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai will testify before a panel of US lawmakers investigating how their business practices and data gathering have hurt smaller rivals as they seek to retain their dominance.

The questions from the panel will be a pointer to the likely direction of recommendations that could emerge eventually – which could range from new competition laws to company breakups. Given the reach of the four big tech firms, the recommendations could have a bearing on their business operations in Asia.

The US panel has been looking at how the dominance by the four companies has impacted digital advertising and e-commerce. The focus is on antitrust and how the four global giants have harmed competition and consumers.

Also read: 

Philippines moves closer to taxing tech giants

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have made close to $159 billion this year

INDONESIAN MUSLIMS GO ONLINE FOR HARI RAYA RITUALS

This year Hari Raya Haji will be marked differently on Friday (July 31). Muslims in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country of 270 million people, have taken tradiitons and rituals online. Organisations and online marketplaces are offering special korban services online. Through websites and apps, Muslims buy live cattle, goat or sheep from local breeders and have the slaughtered meat delivered to the poor and disadvantaged. Regional Correspondent Arlina Arshad reports.

IN OTHER NEWS

AUSTRALIA FAST-TRACKS PLANS TO SELL SOLAR POWER TO SINGAPORE, INDONESIA: Australia granted “major project status” to an ambitious A$22 billion (S$21.7 billion) plan to export power from a giant solar farm in the country’s north to South-east Asia via undersea cable. The Australia-Asean Power Link envisions connecting the world’s largest solar farm and battery system in Australia’s Northern Territory to Singapore and Indonesia via a 3,700 kilometre undersea cable. 

SINGAPORE PM’S NEPHEW FINED $15,000 FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT: Singapore High Court today fined Mr Li Shengwu, nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, $15,000 after finding him guilty of contempt by scandalising the court in a Facebook post he made in July 2017. Mr Li, who is an associate professor at Harvard University in the United States, later responded to the verdict with a Facebook post saying that he disagreed with the judgment.

SEOUL TO PROBE TESLA VEHICLE SAFETY: South Korea said it is investigating suspected safety issues with vehicles made by US automaker Tesla, which is competing strongly with Hyundai Motor Co in the South Korean electric vehicle market. Braking and steering systems including the Autopilot function were part of the investigation, a transport ministry official said.

BIRD FLU IN PHILIPPINES: The Philippines has slaughtered nearly 39,000 chickens in a poultry farm north of the capital Manila to curb a bird flu outbreak, more than four months after detecting infections in a nearby province. The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry has detected the presence of the highly infectious H5N6 subtype of the influenza A virus in an egg-producing farm in San Luis town in Pampanga province.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Stay safe and we’ll be back with you tomorrow. 

Shefali

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