Land eight times the size of Bali burned in Indonesia in last five years: Report

Greenpeace blames Indonesia’s poor law enforcement for the recurring crisis, stating that the government has failed to uphold pledges to prevent fires and punish companies behind the blazes, made after the catastrophic fire episode in 2015.

Broken promises

Indonesia’s 2015 fire season, which destroyed 2,6 million ha of land, was its worst in nearly two decades, with the blazes generating more carbon dioxide emissions than the United States’ entire economy for almost a month.

They also shrouded much of Southeast Asia in toxic haze that resulted in an estimated US$16 billion in economic losses and caused respiratory illnesses in hundreds of thousands of people across the region, sparking a diplomatic row with neighbouring Singapore and Mala

Indian stoners face a moral crusade

ONE MIGHT expect India to be at peace with marijuana. Before time itself, the god Shiva is supposed to have discovered the stuff. He sits high in a mythical Himalayan abode, eating gobs of it while pondering the mysteries of the universe; so do religious mendicants who emulate him today. Victorian India exported ganja to Jamaica with indentured labourers in the first half of the 19th century, long before the West surrendered to its mellow charms. But this monsoon season, moralists have raised the alarm: cannabis-crazed Bollywood stars are corrupting

ABN Amro Asia Pacific sustainability chief departs as bank cuts non-European corporate finance business

The Asia Pacific head of sustainability of ABN Amro has left the business, as the Dutch multinational bank scales back its operations in the region in the wake of the economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

ABN Amro exited the corporate and institutional banking sector outside of Europe in August after reporting second-quarter losses, at an estimated cost of about 800 jobs globally. 

The restructures sees APAC sustainability head Ghislaine Nadaud move on after 14 years with the company.

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North Korea is lonelier than ever

IT WAS SATURDAY morning on the Korean peninsula and Friday evening in America when pundits and policymakers around the world tuned into North Korean state television. They had hoped to watch a military parade in Pyongyang, the capital, to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling party’s creation on October 10th. But instead of the expected display of military hardware, they were treated to patriotic soap operas and a programme on how to care for ornamental fish. It was only at 7pm in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, that a special broadcast confirmed earlier r

A hard task ahead for Jacinda Ardern’s new government

EVERYONE KNEW that the Labour Party would win. But even its leader, Jacinda Ardern, seemed startled by its landslide victory in New Zealand’s general election on October 17th. Ballots must still be counted from prisoners and expats, but so far Labour has mopped up 49% of the vote, compared with 27% for the main opposition, the conservative National Party. New Zealand’s proportional voting system is designed to curb the power of big parties, by making it hard for them to govern without smaller coalition partners. Yet with an absolute majority in parliament (64 seats out of 120), Labour will be able to do just that.

Although she does not need them, the prime minister is now in talks with

The pandemic has exposed South-East Asia’s poor governance

IT HARDLY FOLLOWED the script intended by Thailand’s army-backed government. In the face of growing demonstrations calling for the resignation of the prime minister, a new constitution and a reformed monarchy, on October 15th the government imposed a “severe” state of emergency, banning gatherings of more than five people. Far from being cowed, a formless protest movement morphed into a determined opposition.

Young activists, many still at school, poured onto the streets of Bangkok. They brandished symbols of defiance, such as a three-fingered salute borrowed from the “The Hunger Games”, a dysto

COVID-19 alert on Koh Samui as French woman is found infected post-quarantine

Health officials on Thailand’s Samui Island are scrambling to trace people who were in close contact with a French woman, who has fallen sick and tested positive for COVID-19 since she completed her 14-day mandatory quarantine in Bangkok.

At a hastily-called media conference on the resort island this afternoon (Friday), Dr. Sophon Iamsirithavorn, Director of the country’s General Infectious Diseases Division, said that the 57-year old woman arrived in Bangkok, with two family members,on Thai Airways International flight TG933 on September 30th. They entered hotel based quarantine in the capital for 14 days. She underwent two swab tests and both returned negativeresults.

After leaving quarantine on October 15th,

TAT announces compulsory medical insurance for foreign visitors

Bangkok, 23 October, 2020 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is pleased to share the latest announcement from the Office of Insurance Commission (OIC) that foreign visitors will be able to purchase compulsory COVID-19 insurance policy online prior to visiting the Kingdom.

TAT Governor, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, said, “A medical insurance policy with at least USD $100,000 coverage or about 3.16 million Baht for possible COVID-19 treatment is among the official documents required from foreign visitors planning to visit Thailand during this challenging public health crisis.

“TAT hopes the COVID-19 insurance protection programme, under the regulation of the OIC, offers additional peace-of-mind for foreign visitors and hopefully makes it easier for inbound trave

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin seeks king’s assent to declare emergency: sources

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin / REUTERS

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is seeking the king’s assent on Friday for the monarch to declare a state of emergency, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The proposed emergency will include a suspension of parliament, which was scheduled to reconvene in November, one of the sources said.

The sources did not want to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media. They did n

New Zealand PM Ardern urged to apply crisis skills to climate change

New Zealand’s re-elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should use the skills she honed in successfully crushing the threat of Covid-19 to focus on a green recovery and help farmers tackle climate change’s “nuclear-free moment”, environmentalists said.

Ardern, whose Labour Party won a landslide victory in the general election last weekend, made a name for herself by responding decisively to the coronavirus pandemic and healing the nation after the killing of Muslims by a white supremacist.

Having previously formed a coalition government with the Green Party, which secured a bigger 8 per cent mandate this time, Ardern famously called climate change “

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