Asian Insider, Aug 19: Morrison to make coronavirus vaccine mandatory; flooding in China reaches Buddha heritage site; Goldman Sachs-Malaysia 1MDB deal

Hi, 

In today’s bulletin: Australian PM Scott Morrison says coronavirus vaccine might be made mandatory; China flood waters raise alarm; China’s top diplomat visits Singapore, South Korea amid worsening ties with US; Goldman Sachs & Malaysia sign 1MDB deal, the fight over Myanmar’s marble hills, the world’s biggest solar farm in Singapore, and more.

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MORRISON TO MAKE VACCINE MANDATORY AS INQUIRY TRACES OUTBREAK TO RETURNING OVERSEAS TRAVELLERS

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Canberra is considering making the coronavirus vaccine compulsory for its 25 million citizens barring those that should be medically exempt, in a statement that is set to stoke debate around the ethics of doing so.

His announcement came after Australia reached a deal to manufacture the  vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, widely seen as the front -runner in the race to develop one against coronavirus.

Another report quoted him as saying it would be free as well for the entire population even as anti-vaccine campaigners began to flood online forums with conspiracy theories and misinformation about the risks.

Meanwhile, an official inquiry blamed the latest outbreak in Victoria almost entirely on a hotel quarantine scheme that was intended to house returning overseas travellers. Evidence showed multiple lapses of protocol and almost 99 per cent of the cases in the state could be traced to people returning from overseas.

For more updates on regional coronavirus situation, please click below: 

Indonesia displays dummy coffin as coronavirus warning

India records single day spike of 64,531 Covid-19 cases

South Korea warns of nationwide coronavirus spread as church outbreaks spread

CHINA EVACUATES 100,000 AS FLOOD WATERS REACH 1,200-YEAR-OLD GIANT BUDDHA’S TOES

More than 100,000 people have been evacuated as murky flood waters on the upper reaches of China’s Yangtze river continued to spread, threatening even a 1,200-year-old Buddha heritage site.

Sichuan, through which Yangtze river flows, raised its emergency response to the maximum level as the torrential rainfall resulted in flood waters reaching the toes of the 71-metre Leshan Giant Buddha World Heritage site. This is the first time that flood waters around the site have risen so high, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping inspected flood-control measures on the Huai River, another flood-prone waterway in the Anhui province, and urged efforts to modernise flood prevention measures.

Read also: 

Danson Cheong, China Correspondent: Heavy rain, late typhoon season in China raises climate concerns

After 500 years trying to tame fatal floods, China tries a new way

CHINA’S TOP DIPLOMAT VISITS SINGAPORE, SOUTH KOREA

China’s top diplomat commenced a visit to Singapore and South Korea in a trip that could be viewed as an effort to strengthen ties with its Asian neighbours, amid deteriorating relations with the United States. Mr Yang Jiechi is a member of China’s powerful politburo and head of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign affairs office. 

His two-day visit to Singapore will be followed by a trip to Busan to meet security adviser Suh Hoon. A South Korean spokesman said their talks will centre on Covid-19 response cooperation, bilateral relations and the situation in the Korean peninsula. 

Meanwhile, in another development, China’s military criticised the sailing of a US navy ship near Taiwan and described it as “extremely dangerous”.

GOLDMAN SACHS, MALAYSIA SIGN DEAL ON 1MDB SETTLEMENT

Goldman Sachs and Malaysia signed an agreement to finalise the bank’s US$3.9 billion (S$5.32 billion) settlement over the 1MDB scandal, as part of which the US bank will need to make a US$2.5 billion cash payment to Malaysia within 10 days, reports said. 

The agreement is a major step towards resolving the scandal surrounding the 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund at the centre of a probe into corruption and money-laundering. 

The case against the bank focused on its work raising US$6.5 billion in 2012 and 2013 for the fund formerly known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd., much of which was allegedly siphoned off by people connected to the country’s former prime minister.

Read also:

Inside Goldman’s five-day race to seal a 1MDB deal with Malaysia

Malaysia court rejects ex-PM Najib’s bid to drop 1MDB audit charges

THE FIGHT OVER MYANMAR’S MARBLE HILLS

Could shadowy Chinese and Myanmar’s military-linked companies be reason for the growing anguish of a group of villagers living near Sagyin village, north of Mandalay, who complain about the disappearing hills of cherished white marble, in their region. Nearly 80 per cent of the village of some 2,000 households work in the marble business, but people fear they are being pushed out.

IN OTHER NEWS

WORLD’S LARGEST SOLAR FARM IN SINGAPORE: Singapore will soon have a floating solar farm in Tuas, which will convert solar energy into electricity and have a maximum capacity of 60MW. The system will help reduce the Republic’s dependence on fossil fuels, slash carbon emissions and strengthen national climate resilience. 

JAPAN REVIEWS TIKTOK DATA SECURITY: A change in control of the Japanese unit of TikTok, the popular video-sharing app owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, could be one way to address user data security concerns in Japan, lawmaker Norihiro Nakayama, from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party who is looking into Chinese apps said. He said his group is unlikely to seek a ban on TikTok and other apps but would push for measures to ensure the protection of user data.

TAIWAN’S NEW SOMALILAND TIES ANGER BEIJING, MOGADISHU: China and Somalia have hit out at Taiwan for opening a representative office in the breakaway state of Somaliland after the two sides, which lack international recognition, wove stronger ties. Taiwan opened its office in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa on Monday, with the flags of both sides raised and their anthems played.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with you tomorrow. 

Shefali 

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