MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 04 MARCH
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Labourers at a dockyard where old cargo ships and cruisers are dismantled for parts. Workers break down the rusty, old supertankers, cargo ships and cruisers that are no longer in use to reuse their steel and parts in new ships. There are more than 35 shipyards in Old Dhaka’s Keraniganj area in the bank of the river Buriganga, where small ships, launches and steamers are built and repaired around the clock.
The wild card that will make or break Myanmar's coup
Since Feb. 1 coup, in which Myanmar's senior generals toppled and arrested the leadership of the country's civilian National League for Democracy government, a civil disobedience movement erupted in response. Growing steadily, it has brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets on a daily basis. The civil disobedience movement will not continue forever. Myanmar is a poor country badly hit by COVID-19, and most people can ill afford to miss a paycheck. The junta clearly believes it can ride these protests out.
Pakistan’s belt and road offer to Sri Lanka stokes India’s China concerns
Pakistan’s offer to Sri Lanka to join its multibillion-dollar trade and infrastructure scheme with China under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative has raised concerns in Indian policy circles, as New Delhi seeks to secure its influence in a region where China’s presence is growing. On a two-day visit to Colombo last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Colombo to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which comprises railways, power plants and the deepwater Indian Ocean port of Gwadar. The CPEC is aimed at offering China a major overland route from its western frontiers to the world but critics have accused it of being a debt trap for Islamabad. India has kept a close watch on the visit but has not commented on it.
Terror-financing grey listing costs Pakistan billions annually
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental, anti-money laundering watchdog, is keeping Pakistan on its grey list, and experts say this is a major encumbrance on the country's struggling economy. FATF announced last week that Pakistan would retain its grey status until June when it will be reviewed at an extraordinary plenary session. A government official, who requested anonymity, told Nikkei that blacklisting was possible given the lobbying by India -- Pakistan's arch-rival -- and the hardline stance adopted by France against Pakistan. The official credited the avoidance of FATF blacklisting as a win for Pakistani diplomacy.
How is Bangladesh's Digital Security Act muzzling free speech?
Protesters have taken to the streets of the Bangladeshi capital following the death of a writer in a high-security prison on February 25. Mushtaq Ahmed was arrested 10 months ago under Bangladesh's Digital Security Act (DSA), which allows security forces to carry out arrests without a warrant of anyone criticizing the government online. Ahmed was arrested for comments he posted on Facebook criticizing the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic in May. His bail petition was rejected six times. He was sitting in pretrial detention when he died. Although the circumstances behind the sudden death of Ahmed are not yet clear, protesters are demanding justice, as well as the release of other prisoners who have been arrested under the DSA. They also want the government to repeal the act. Shocked by the news of Ahmed's death, Bärbel Kofler, Germany's federal human rights commissioner, called on Bangladesh's government to conduct "an independent inquiry" into the circumstances of Ahmed's death.
Philippines signs agreement with India for world's fastest supersonic missiles
The Philippines and India have signed an agreement for a potential supply of BrahMos cruise missiles, a product of collaboration by India and Russia, which the Philippine government hopes would boost coastal defence. Philippine Defence Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran signed an implementing agreement on Tuesday (March 2) at Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to the Philippine Department of National Defence on Facebook. The agreement involved the procurement of defence material and equipment by the Philippines from India, an emerging superpower rival of China in Asia.
ASEAN eyes digital vaccine certificate for post-COVID travel
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are weighing a digital coronavirus vaccine certificate as they aim to revive the region's ailing tourism sector. Opening up travel to people who have been inoculated against COVID-19 could help resuscitate an intraregional market that counted more than 50 million annual visitor arrivals before the pandemic. Representatives from the 10 countries discussed the idea of a common certificate during the two-day ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting that ended Wednesday, according to Azmin Ali, Malaysia's minister of international trade and industry.