PLA pressure on Taiwan

China’s air force has sent 28 aircraft close to Taiwan, further fuelling military pressure on Taipei as it seeks to fortify ties with the US. The PLA aircraft were detected in Taiwan’s southwestern air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on June 15, and Taipei’s military sent patrol aircraft, issued radio warnings and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor the activity.Chinese military aircraft have frequently entered the southwest area of Taiwan’s ADIZ over the past year as the PLA has stepped up its military sorties around the democratically-governed island.

‘Covid’ tax on Indonesia’s rich

Indonesia is planning to levy higher taxeson wealthy citizens to boost state revenue, in an effort to offset the economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.The government is proposing a 35 per cent personal income tax for high-net-worth individuals earningover five billion rupiah (S$465,500) a year.Indonesia, South-east Asia’s largest economy, currently has four tax brackets, from 5 per cent to 30 per cent, for those with an annual income of less than 50 million rupiah to above 500 million rupiah.

WA premier calls for ‘reset’ in Oz-China relations

The premier of Western Australia, Australia’s top exporting state,has urged the government in Canberra to stop provoking China, in a bid to improve trade links between the two countries. At a conference in Perth, Mark McGowan said this was not about ‘kowtowing to other countries’ but ‘there needs to be a national reset’ in the relationship.Ties with China – Australia’s largest trading partner – deteriorated last year when Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19, which sparked trade reprisals from China, impacting many Australian goods, including barley, coal and wine.

Bhutan & Nepal floods

Flash floods caused by heavy rainfall washed away a remote mountain camp in Bhutan, killing ten people and injuring five, while seven people are missing following floods in neighbouring Nepal. The Bhutan villagers, who had been on the mountain collecting cordyceps– a fungus believed to have health benefits – were asleep when the floodwaters hit just after midnight, sweeping away their camp near Laya, about 60km north of the capital Thimphu.Two helicopters were mobilised to evacuate the injured.

Philippines’ silent pandemic

The Philippines is suffering from a silent pandemic affecting children’s growth, according to the World Bank.In a report titled ‘Under-nutrition in the Philippines: Scale, Scope, and Opportunities for Nutrition Policy and Programming’, the World Bank found that in 2019, 29 per cent of Filipino children aged five or younger – or one in every three of these children –  had stunted growth as a result of being undernourished.This meant they were smaller in height compared with healthier children of the same age.

Recruitment drive

Australia is seeking to recruit South-East Asian farm workers as the Covid pandemic and a new free-trade deal with Britain exacerbates labour shortages in the country’s A$66 billion-a-year agriculture industry.The government aims to offer three-year working visas by the end of the year to citizens from the ten ASEAN nations, which include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, Agriculture Minister David Little proud told reporters in Canberra that Australia already has a similar arrangement in place with Pacific Island nations.

Youth seek life insurance

Young Indians are scrambling to buy life insurance, as India faces large numbers of Covid deaths, including those among younger people. When a devastating second wave of the pandemic peaked in India during April and May, the numbers of people aged between 25 and 35 buying term insurance was 30 per cent higher than in the previous three months combined, according to PolicyBazaar, India’s largest online insurance aggregator.Term insurance purchases via online insurance aggregator Insurance Dekho’s website rose 70 per cent in May compared with March.

Bears on the mend

Two orphaned Asiatic bear cubs found on the Pakistan side of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir are thriving at a compound near the village of Dawarian, 106 km north-east of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Sharda and Narda were discovered late last year by villagers at an altitude of 14,000 feet, alone and unable to open their eyes. There was no trace of their mother, who may have been killed by a landmine or shell. Nursed with bottled milk for two months, then gradually introduced to other foods, the duo are now thriving and their antics draw a daily audience.

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