Asian Insider: Turmoil in South Asia | New chapter for HK

Dear ST reader,

This week, the focus is on the crises plaguing two South Asian countries - Sri Lanka and Pakistan. We are also keeping a close watch on who will likely be the next Hong Kong leader after Carrie Lam.

Sri Lanka in crisis

The Sri Lankan government is in disarray after dozens of lawmakers walked out of the ruling coalition this week, leaving the Rajapaksa government in a minority in parliament as it struggles to quell protests against a worsening economic crisis.

The country's healthcare system is on the verge of collapse as hospitals run out of essential supplies, India correspondent Rohini Mohan reports.

In Singapore, the Sri Lankan community worries for their friends and families back home as the people struggle to secure essentials such as food and fuel amid rolling blackouts.

The roots of the country’s troubles are deep and getting rid of the Rajapaksa clan won’t be enough to get it out of its predicament, writes Associate Editor Ravi Velloor.

Just who are the Rajapaksa brothers who have dominated Sri Lankan politics for decades? Global affairs correspondent Ashwini Devare finds out. 

Debrief: How did Sri Lanka end up in an economic crisis? 

Pakistan in the balance

In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan's fate hangs in the balance as the country's supreme court decides on the legality of his recent move to dissolve Parliament and call for a fresh election after a no-confidence vote was blocked. 

Mr Khan’s actions have worrying implications for Pakistan's democracy and foreign policy and will make an economic recovery even more difficult, analysts tell India correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta.

Debrief: Why is Pakistan facing a constitutional crisis?

Opinion: Pakistan's political future at stake

Who will be the next HK chief?

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced this week that she will not be running in the May 8 elections. 

All eyes are now on the city's No. 2 official John Lee, who resigned yesterday and said he plans to run for the top post, Hong Kong correspondent Claire Huang reports. Do look out for this Saturday's Asian Insider feature where ST correspondents review Mrs Lam's leadership, look at her likely successor and decipher what Beijing's expectations are.

Potential flashpoint in East Asia

In East Asia, China is keeping a close watch on South Korea's incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol who takes office on May 10. Openly pro-Washington, Mr Yoon is likely to push through his campaign pledge to strengthen South Korea's security and trade ties with the United States, writes South Korea correspondent Chang May Choon in the weekly Power Play column.

Also keeping Chinese president Xi Jinping awake at night is Japan, which is considering amending its pacifist constitution and becoming a normal nation with a full military, writes global affairs correspondent Benjamin Kang Lim.

Listen: China bureau chief Tan Dawn Wei discusses this week's hot issues in her China Perspective Podcast.

Reopening, reunion, revival

There was joy, tears and lots of shopping and eating over the weekend as the Singapore-Malaysia border reopened after two years due to Covid-19.

Businesses in Johor, which were badly hit when the land crossings closed, are optimistic about economic revival, Malaysia correspondent Ram Anand reports.

But tourism players like hotels warn that issues such as labour shortages will continue in the short-term, reports Malaysia correspondent Hazlin Hassan.

Meanwhile, the authorities and experts are warning Malaysians not to let their guard down, even as daily Covid-19 cases continue to fall, Malaysia bureau chief Shannon Teoh reports.

No-no zones

Restaurants or shops that do not allow pets are common, but what about those barring kids, or even YouTubers? In South Korea, the proliferation of such "no-no" zones has seen campsites banning people aged above 40 and bars that do not welcome professors. Read about it in our Letter from Seoul.

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