Asian Insider, Nov 24: Singapore on heightened terror alert; Race to build ultra-fast trains

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

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In today's bulletin: Singapore investigates 37, deports 16 following terror attacks in France & elsewhere; China eradicates extreme poverty; Asia grapples with a fresh wave of coronavirus infections; China and Japan race to build the world's fastest high-speed trains; Malaysia's government appears shaky, again, and more.

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Singapore investigates 37, deports 16 for suspected radicalisation

Singapore has investigated 37 people - including 14 Singaporeans - for suspected radical inclinations or for making comments which incite violence or stoke communal unrest.

Along with this, 16 foreigners were deported while a radicalised 26-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker was detained under the Internal Security Act on Nov 2 for terror-related activities, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The announcement follows intensified security efforts here in Singapore, in the wake of terror attacks in France, and elsewhere. The 16 foreigners include 15 Bangladeshis who were working in the construction industry and 1 Malaysian.

Also read:

Bangladeshi construction worker, 26, arrested under ISA for terrorism-related activities

China announces eradication of extreme poverty

China announced today it has reached President Xi Jinping's long standing goal of eliminating extreme poverty as the last remaining countries were removed from a list of poor regions.

Nearly 93 million people have moved out of poverty since 2013, China's government said. However, this was based on China's own national standard of extreme poverty.

China's guidelines on extreme poverty is based on a per capita income threshold of 4,000 yuan (S$816) per year, or around $1.52 per day, and other factors such as access to basic healthcare and education. The World Bank's measure to estimate extreme poverty globally is set at US$1.90 (S$2.55) per day.

Delve deeper

Xi push to end poverty underpins party support in rural China

Asia grapples with fresh wave of coronavirus infections

Shanghai airport, one of China's busiest, cancelled hundreds of flights today as health officials raced to bring a new coronavirus outbreak under control. Thousands have been tested after seven new infections were found among cargo handlers.

Thousands of kilometres away, Japan halted its domestic "Go To Travel" promotion campaign for the cities of Sapporo and Hokkaido till December 15, following a sharp increase in the number of infections. The capital of Tokyo was also reeling from more infections with new daily infections past 500 while serious cases reached 51 on Tuesday, the most since a state of emergency was lifted in May.

The city of Hong Kong, which is experiencing a rather sudden downturn in the number of new infections, ordered the closure of more businesses while orders were issued for people linked to a ballooning dance cluster to take mandatory Covid-19 tests.

While in South Asia, concerns were growing about a fresh new wave after India's neighbours beat the first wave.

Also read:

India first priority for Covid-19 vaccine delivery: Serum Institute

China and Japan race to dominate the future of high-speed rail

Japan and China are racing to build tomorrow's ultra-fast, levitating trains that could well be the world's first long-distance intercity lines. At stake is a share of the estimated more than US$2 trillion (S$2.69 trillion) global market for rail infrastructure projects. While Japan is the creator of the world's first bullet train, or shinkansen, China has caught up.

Beijing's 100 billion yuan (S$20.41 billion) on-again, off-again maglev project that will run between Shanghai and the eastern port city of Ningbo, is now forecast to be completed by around 2035. While Japan's 9 trillion yen (S$115 billion) maglev, that's expected to connect Tokyo and Osaka, is expected to be ready by 2037. The latter is more expensive largely because of tunnel excavation to be done through the mountainous countryside.

Malaysian Premier Muhyiddin's government looks shaky - again

Malaysian politics seems headed for another storm with rumblings ahead of a crucial Budget 2021 vote. These follow talk that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is making yet another attempt to form the government, with support from Umno's 38 federal lawmakers.

"It has become abundantly clear that there are Umno MPs willing to defeat their own government's budget," writes Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh. "But for that to become a reality hinges on whether anyone can gather the numbers to oust the current PM."

Also read:

Malaysia's crucial Budget 2021 vote likely to be delayed

In other news...

11-year-old Australian girl rescues shark trapped in rock pool: Eleven-year-old Billie Rea didn't think twice before rescuing a shark trapped by the low tide in a rock pool, on the edge of Kingston Beach, Tasmania, and carrying it to deeper water.

China's top diplomat Wang Yi visits Japan: China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to visit Tokyo starting today, marking the first such high-level trip since Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took over. The meeting comes at a time when Japan has been reinforcing its regional partnerships with Mr Suga having travelled recently to Vietnam and Indonesia and hosting discussions with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Taiwan to protect sovereignty with new submarines: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to defend the democratic island's sovereignty with the construction of a new fleet of domestically-developed submarines, as part of a project supported by the United States to counter neighbouring China. Taiwan officials have said the first of the eight planned submarines would be ready in 2025.

Thanks for reading this newsletter & The Straits Times. We'll be back with you with more on all that's happening in this region, tomorrow.


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