Asian Insider, March 5: Coronavirus slows in China, Super Tuesday, durians the batteries of the future?

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


In today's bulletin:

Coronavirus slows in China, Malaysia's Malay party grassroots eye cabinet posts, the US strikes the Taleban, Durians the battery of the future?, Philippines' police chief survives helicopter crash, data breaches and more.

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As the coronavirus epidemic accelerates across the world, there are signs of the virus slowing down in China - the centre of the outbreak, with new cases slowing dramatically and recoveries gathering pace. Still, doubt remains over whether the government's statistics show the full picture as homesick Wuhan residents slowly return home. As the global battle with the virus continued, 290 million students are out of school.

Meanwhile, the virus has spread to a new part of Japan, but the IOC stood firm on its commitment to start the Olympic Games on schedule.

Indonesia is going to curb the entry of visitors from Iran, Italy and South Korea, while Japan will quarantine all Chinese and South Korean visitors.

See also: Singapore research shows coronavirus lingers in rooms and toilets.

Must read: South Korea's coronavirus total nears 6,000, with 35 deaths. A testing blitz appears to be keeping South Korea's death rate low.

Taiwan says China forced Malaysian state Sarawak to ban Taiwanese entry on virus fears.

Finally, virus-hit Australia was in a tissue tizzy as a toilet paper truck caught fire,and a man was tasered in a store brawl.

Don't miss: Asian Insider video: Cooperation key in war on coronavirus, says expert


Malaysia's fledgling coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) government is barely two weeks old but its two major blocs, Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), are facing challenges tempering expectations among party members over Cabinet posts.

Both parties have openly voiced that Cabinet appointments would be left to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's discretion, but at the grassroots, an omission of party leaders from the Cabinet lineup is seen as unacceptable.

Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh: Reeling from ouster, PKR trains guns on pro-Azmin 'traitors'

Read more:

Malaysia PM Muhyiddin Yassin a one-man show

Anwar could have been PM, but refused to betray people's mandate, says PKR MP

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin asks voters to give his government a chance to prove itself in first public address

Mahathir places blame on Muhyiddin and Anwar for Pakatan Harapan's downfall


The United States on Wednesday carried out its first air strike on Taleban fighters in Afghanistan since the two sides signed a troop withdrawal agreement on Saturday.

A US forces spokesman confirmed the incident in southern Helmand province, hours after President Donald Trump spoke by phone with chief Taleban negotiator Mullah Baradar Akhund on Tuesday, the first known conversation between a US leader and a top Taleban official.

The Taleban fighters "were actively attacking an (Afghan National Security Forces) checkpoint. This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack," Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US Forces, Afghanistan, said in a tweet.

See also:

Taleban attack Afghan army bases, throwing peace talks into doubt

Peace, but at what price? Afghan women fear Taleban return will strip them of new freedoms

Must read: A deal to end Afghan terror havens

US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh: Peace deal between US and Taleban marks tentative step towards US exit from its longest war


Joe Biden cemented a remarkable comeback on the biggest primary night of the Democratic presidential campaign with victories in nine states across the US, including upsets in Texas and Massachusetts, even as Mr Bernie Sanders took the biggest prize of the night, California.

Mr Biden, whose campaign was faltering just days ago, scored wins in Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama and Minnesota. His victories in Texas and Massachusetts were especially stinging for Mr Sanders, who had supplanted Mr Biden at the top of polls in recent weeks.

US Correspondent Charissa Yong: Five takeaways from Super Tuesday

See also: Bernie Sanders calls race against Joe Biden 'conflict of ideas' after dismal Super Tuesday; Elizabeth Warren weighs campaign future

US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh: A vote for safety and stability

And Michael Bloomberg drops out of Democratic presidential race after Super Tuesday losses, backs Joe Biden.


Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific has been fined HK$5 million (S$890,000) by Britain's privacy watchdog over a huge data leak of more than nine million customers including passport numbers and credit card details.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said in a statement on Wednesday (March 4) that it has ordered the airline to pay the fine for "failing to protect the security of its customers' personal data".

See also:

Look back 2019: Public sector data security revamped after large breaches

Love, Bonito customers' data breached, credit card details exposed, watchdog investigating

US charges four Chinese military hackers over 2017 Equifax breach

Public agencies have 72 hours to decide to notify people affected by data breach under new data security rules

Watchdog probing customer data breach at retailer Sephora

Malaysia's Malindo Air confirms passenger data breach, advises frequent flyers to change passwords

Must read:

How data security review committee's recommendations could have prevented govt data breaches and leaks


PHILIPPINES POLICE CHIEF AND TOP AIDES SURVIVE HELICOPTER CRASH: A helicopter carrying the Philippines' top police official and his aides crashed at a police camp south of Manila early on Thursday. General Archie Gamboa, head of the 191,000-strong Philippine National Police (PNP), survived. He was conscious when taken to a hospital, PNP Highway Patrol Group chief Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson Doromal told CNN Philippines.

DURIAN, JACKFRUIT ARE THE 'POWER BANKS' OF THE FUTURE: Local fruits like durian and jackfruit could change the way we charge our smartphones or electric cars in the future, according to a study highlighted in website Popular Mechanics. A group of scientists led by associate professor Vincent G. Gomes at the University of Sydney in Australia has found a way to turn fruit cores from durian and jackfruit into potentially high-performing electrochemical supercapacitors, or energy storage devices with high energy density, which can then be further developed into applications such as batteries for electronic devices and transportation.

INDONESIA DETAINS VIETNAMESE FISHING BOATS NEAR DISPUTED WATERS: Indonesia says it has detained dozens of crew from Vietnamese boats fishing illegally in waters that were the scene of a diplomatic spat with China earlier this year. The maritime ministry said five fishing boats and some 68 crew members were seized after being intercepted on Sunday near Indonesia's Natuna islands, which border the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by Beijing.

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



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