Asian Insider, Oct 7: Will Indonesia’s Omnibus Law break Jokowi’s legacy?; ‘Crazy rich’ Asia tops billionaires global list

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In today’s bulletin: Will Indonesia’s Omnibus Law break Jokowi’s legacy?; China’s experimental coronavirus vaccine appears safe; Japan, Australia, India discuss strategic ties, regional security; ‘Crazy rich’ Asia tops global list; Taiwan military budget boost insufficient for ‘resilient defence’; and more.

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When Mr Joko Widodo was re-elected as Indonesia’s president last year, his dream was to transform the country into one that would have an annual per capita income of 320 million rupiah (S$29,500) and a gross domestic product of US$7 trillion (S$9.5 trillion) by 2045.

But the “omnibus law” – a single overarching law that allows companies to keep workers on contract infinitely among other things – he introduced and was passed in Parliament on Oct 5 has sparked street protests across the country.

This anger could have been minimised had there been greater transparency, legal experts, labour unions and green groups told Regional Correspondent Arlina Arshad.

For more about Indonesia’s economic woes:

Indonesia sees deeper contraction for 2020 than earlier forecast

Indonesia president Jokowi calls to ‘reboot’ economy amid coronavirus pandemic


A Chinese experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Institute of Medical Biology under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was shown to be safe in an early-stage clinical trial, researchers said.

In a Phase 1 trial of 191 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59, vaccination with the group’s experimental shot showed no severe adverse reactions, its researchers said on Tuesday (Oct 6) in a paper posted on medRxiv preprint server ahead of peer review.

Read more:

Rich world could be close to normal by late 2021 if Covid-19 vaccine works, Bill Gates says

WHO’s chief holds out hope for Covid-19 vaccine by end of the year

Indonesia seeks AstraZeneca vaccine while pursuing own trials


Japan and Australia on Wednesday (Oct 7) discussed what Tokyo termed their special, strategic partnership, agreeing to broaden security measures and deepen cooperation in the face of “changing” regional conditions.

The meeting between Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne took place a day after four-way talks between the foreign ministers of Japan, the United States, Australia and India in which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for deeper cooperation with Asian allies as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence.

Mr Motegi also met Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and said Tokyo will continue to emphasise its strategic partnership with India under the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who took office last month.


The Asia-Pacific region hit a record of 831 billionaires, about 38 per cent of the total number globally, according to a report by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), whose annual study period of March 6, 2019, to April 7, 2020, was extended to July 31 this year to take into account the transformative effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore, it says, has a total of 25 billionaires - four emerged since the last survey, but one dropped off the ranks from April to July this year.

Read more:

Ex-labourer briefly overtakes Jack Ma as China’s richest man

Hotpot billionaire couple Zhang Yong, Shu Ping top Forbes list of Singapore’s richest

Singapore billionaire giving restaurant-quality meals to needy


A senior US defence official has said that Taiwan’s plan to boost defence spending by US$1.4 billion (S$1.91 billion) was a step in the right direction, but insufficient to ensure resilient defence in the face of an increasing Chinese threat.

The move comes as China has significantly stepped up military activity near Taiwan, which it regards as a breakaway province, raising fears it might one day attempt to retake the island by force.

“Taiwan can, through smart investments, send a clear signal to Beijing that Taiwan’s society and its armed forces are absolutely committed to the defence of Taiwan,” said Mr David Helvey, the acting US assistant secretary of defence for East Asia.

Delve deeper:

Taiwan says military under pressure from China as missions mount

China ramps up a war of words, warning the US of its red lines

Taiwan’s narrowing defence options


MUHYIDDIN TESTS NEGATIVE FOR COVID-19: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has tested negative for the coronavirus, his office said on Wednesday (Oct 7), after a minister who attended a high-level meeting chaired by the Premier last Saturday contracted the virus. Tan Sri Muhyiddin, along with 13 ministers and deputy ministers, started home quarantine on Monday after it was discovered that Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri had Covid-19.

RECIPES FOR THE REGION TO ‘BUILD BACK BETTER’: The World bank’s October update on the developing economies of East Asia and the Pacific after nine months of grappling with the Covid-19 points out that the pandemic is not only keeping people in poverty, but also creating a class of “new poor”. What’s more, the impact could last as long as a decade. The report makes for grim reading, but also points to some silver linings, says ST Associate Editor Vikram Khanna.

CASINO TYCOON ‘FORGOT’ HIS FIRM BANNED FROM DEALING WITH HK TYCOON AND ASSOCIATES: Australian billionaire James Packer said on Wednesday (Oct 7) he “forgot” that his casino firm Crown Resorts was banned from dealing with associates of Hong Kong’s Mr Stanley Ho when he orchestrated a part-buyout by a firm controlled by Mr Ho’s son. Mr Packer’s actions as Crown’s largest shareholder are being scrutinised as the New South Wales state government holds an inquiry to decide if the company should be allowed to go ahead with its A$2.2 billion (S$2.14 billion) casino tower in Sydney just months before its scheduled opening.

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed today’s stories, and do check back tomorrow for more insightful reads. 

Choo Kiong 

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