MONTH IN BRIEF
Plea to cancel Olympics
A top Japanese medical organisation has joined calls to cancel the Tokyo Olympics, saying hospitals are already inundated as the country battles a spike in coronavirus infections less than three months from the start of the Games. The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, representing about 6,000 primary care doctors, ‘strongly requests’ that the authorities convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel the Games for a second consecutive year.
Seeking Indian shelter
More than 15,000 people from Myanmar have sought refuge in India, with numbers likely to swell further as fighting intensifies following the Feb. 1 coup. The influx into the small, north-east Indian state of Mizoram, which shares a mountainous border with Myanmar, began in late February as policemen fled to avoid having to take orders from a junta trying to suppress opposition. By May, over 15,400 more Burmese – including several lawmakers – had crossed the border, according to the vice chairman of Mizoram’s State Planning Board, Mr H. Rammawi.
Thailand is considering cutting its prison population by as much as 16 per cent to counter the
rapid spread of coronavirus infections among inmates and workers in overcrowded facilities. Over 10,000 new Covid-19 cases have been reported in some dozen densely packed Thai prisons, which have pushed the country’s daily case count to record highs. More than two-thirds of the 9,635 infections reported on May 17 were in prisons, official data showed. The situation in jails reflects conditions in many parts of metropolitan Bangkok, where infections have spread quickly in densely populated slums and housing complexes.
New Zealand plans to reset its immigration policy, with cuts to overall migrant numbers, particularly those who are low-skilled, when it reopens its borders post-Covid. However, the country of 5 million will be seeking to attract more highly skilled workers, as well as wealthy investors, according to Tourism and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash. New Zealand’s net immigration fell to just 6,600 in the year up to end-of-March, after it closed its borders to control the spread of the coronavirus. This was down from a record 91,900 in the same period a year earlier.
A cyclone that struck India’s west coast has killed at least 19 people and ravaged infrastructure and agriculture. Cyclone Tauktae, which made landfall in the western state of Gujarat late on May 17, hit power supplies in 2,400 villages in the state, damaging a thousand electricity pylons, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in a media address. Nearly 160 roads have been destroyed, 40,000 trees uprooted and several houses damaged.
One of China’s tallest skyscrapers, in the southern city of Shenzhen, has been evacuated after it began to shake, sending terrified shoppers running for safety. Videos by bystanders, published on social media site Weibo, showed the 300-metre tall SEG Plaza in Shenzhen’s Futian district – which houses various offices and a major electronics market – trembling on its foundations. Emergency management officials are investigating what caused the building to wobble, and have so far ruled out an earthquake as the cause.
An elderly Japanese man has donated his life-savings, in cash, to the city of Yokosuka near Tokyo. The man, who did not identify himself, arrived at Yokosuka’s city hall with a backpack, asking that it be given to the mayor. The bag contained 60 million yen (S$732,660) in cash, and a letter saying: ‘This is the money I’ve been saving since the first grade. Please make use of it. It’s a donation.’ The anonymous gift is a welcome windfall for the city, whose economy is staggering from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Heroine dog dies
A dog who lost her snout while preventing two young girls from being run over by a motorbike ten years ago has died in her sleep in Barangay Pasonanca, the Philippines. Kabang became famous in the Philippines after she came to the rescue of owner Rudy Bunggal’s daughter and a cousin, as they crossed a busy street in December 2011. The dog jumped over the girls to take the impact from a speeding motorcycle, saving the girls but losing her snout as a result.