Asian Insider, Oct 26: BN mulls replacing Malaysian PM Muhyiddin; Thai protesters to pressure Germany

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

Hi all, 

In today’s bulletin: Political uncertainty deepens in Malaysia; Thai protesters up pressure for reforms in the country; China begins discussions on next five-year plan; Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga targets carbon neutrality by 2050, and more.

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BARISAN NASIONAL MULLS REPLACING MALAYSIAN PM MUHYIDDIN

Malaysia headed for another period of uncertainty as members of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition met to discuss replacing Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin with a senior MP from their own ranks. 

The meeting today came just a day after the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, rejected the PM's request for emergency powers ostensibly to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic without political distractions. 

It is believed that the premier had considered resigning on Sunday night after his request was rejected, writes Shannon Teoh, Malaysia Bureau Chief. But he was persuaded to stay on till a solution could be found.

Meanwhile, all eyes were on the Umno-led Barisan Nasional meeting with speculation high on its likely outcome. 

If you're interested in Malaysian politics, read it all as it unfolds here: 

Live on Straits Times: Barisan Nasional MPs meet 

Delve deeper 

Political logjam drags Malaysia's royal households into the fray by Leslie Lopez, Regional Correspondent 

Malaysia's King rejects state of emergency plan: What's next? by Lim Ai Leen, Deputy Foreign Editor 

Malaysians hail King's decision not to declare state of emergency by Hazlin Hassan, Malaysia Correspondent 

Malaysia, amid political turmoil, to host virtual Apec summit in November

THAI PROTESTERS TO PRESSURE GERMANY ON KING'S LEGAL STATUS

Thailand's protesters tried to step up pressure on the country's ruling government by planning to march to the Embassy of Germany where they plan to submit a letter questioning King Maha Vajiralongkorn's legal status in the European country.

The move comes even as the issue has come under the spotlight in Germany as well with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas saying this month that Thailand's king should not be conducting state business from the European country.

The march in Bangkok was held as lawmakers began a debate on the pro-democracy demonstrations and the demands of protesters. These include the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, changes to a constitution written after a 2014 coup and greater accountability and transparency for the monarchy. 

Also read: 

Amending Thai Constitution may be only way to reach political resolution by Tan Hui Yee, Indochina Bureau Chief

Thai King in the spotlight as pro-democracy protests continue

S. KOREA URGES PEOPLE TO GET FLU VACCINATIONS DESPITE DEATH TOLL

South Korean officials called on people to get themselves vaccinated against influenza and kicked off a campaign for fresh vaccinations, even as 48 people died following the vaccinations, heightening public anxiety. 

Seoul has said the deaths are not linked to the vaccinations. Meanwhile, Singapore became one of the first nations to call for a temporary halt to the use of two influenza vaccines, as a precaution.

CHINESE OFFICIALS BEGIN DISCUSSIONS ON NEXT FIVE-YEAR PLAN

Chinese President Xi Jinping began meetings today with senior officials to discuss China's next five-year plan that market watchers say will focus on technological innovation, economic self-reliance and a cleaner environment.

China is set to declare that it has reached its goal of having a "moderately prosperous society in all respects" and officials will commence work on the next 15 years.  

Some insights into their plans are expected to be shared later this week, but it will be weeks and months before policies are made and details emerge. 

Delve deeper 

Four things to watch as China's leaders map out the next five years

Don't miss 

Is China overdeveloping economic zones? by Elizabeth Law, China Correspondent

SUGA PROMISES TO MAKE JAPAN CARBON-NEUTRAL BY 2050

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has set a target to make Japan carbon-neutral by 2050, a decade before China will do so. His announcement today reflects a major shift in Japan's position on climate change as Tokyo, previously declined to set an explicit date. The country is the world's fifth-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide.

IN OTHER NEWS

TYPHOON MOLAVE THREATENS THE LIVES 1.3 MILLION VIETNAMESE: Vietnam is preparing to evacuate nearly 1.3 million people as it braces for the impact of typhoon Molave, which lashed the Philippines overnight causing flooding, landslides and leaving at least a dozen fishermen missing on Monday. 

CHINA TO SANCTION BOEING, RAYTHEON: China is set to impose sanctions on the defence unit of Boeing Co Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp after the US State Dept approved US$1.8 billion (S$2.45 billion) in arms sales to Taiwan last week.

PAKISTAN PM IMRAN KHAN ACCUSES FRANCE OF ATTACKING ISLAM: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accused French President Emmanuel Macron of "attacking Islam", after the European leader criticised Islamists and defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading this newsletter and The Straits Times. We’ll be back with you tomorrow.   

Shefali