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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 2:00 PM

 

Cambodia allocates US$1.16bil for economic, social supports amid Covid-19 outbreak

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 2:00 PM


PHNOM PENH : The Cambodian government has allocated US$1.16 billion to address the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Economy and Finance Ministry Secretary of State Vongsey Vissoth said here on Wednesday (July 8).

"The amount of $564mil has been allocated for health and social assistance and $600mil for economic support through lending to small and medium enterprises," he said during a press conference.

Since the virus outbreak, the government has released $364mil for economic and social supports, he said.

Vissoth said the stimulus package did not include tax breaks granted to affected companies, especially to those in garment and tourism industries.

Labour Ministry secretary of state Heng Sour said due to the pandemic, the Southeast Asian nation has experienced a decline in the exports of garment, footwear and travel goods in the first half of 2020.

He said the kingdom exported those products worth $3.78bil during the January-June period this year, down 5.4 per cent over the same period last year.

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for garments has dropped globally, affecting not only Cambodia but also other producing countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam," Sour said.

To date, 450 garment, footwear and travel goods factories in Cambodia have suspended operations, he said, adding that unemployed workers receive a stipend of $30 from the factory and $40 from the government per month.

The garment, footwear and travel goods industry is Cambodia's biggest export sector, employing about 750,000 people in approximately 1,100 factories and branches.

For the impact of the pandemic on tourism, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said early last month that nearly 3,000 tourism-related establishments such as hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, massage parlours, karaoke clubs, nightclubs and tour and travel companies had been either suspended or closed, affecting 45,405 workers.

Cambodia has recorded a total of 141 confirmed Covid-19 cases to date, with 131 patients cured and 10 remained hospitalised, according to the Ministry of Health.

 - Xinhua

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Buffett dropping down world’s richest ranks as tech titans surge

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 1:57 PM


LONDON (July 9): Warren Buffett’s US$2.9 billion gift this week means he has now given away Berkshire Hathaway Inc shares valued at more than US$37 billion since 2006.
 
His philanthropy — along with Berkshire’s underwhelming stock performance recently — is finally starting to weigh on his net worth after years where his fortune defied his annual giveaways to rise ever higher. Buffett’s US$68.6 billion is enough for eighth-place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his lowest position since the index started in 2012. He ranked in the top 5 as recently as June.
 
But in recent weeks the 89-year-old has been leapfrogged first by Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft Corp chief executive officer, and this week by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The changes underline the extent to which technology fortunes now dominate the upper echelons of the world’s richest people.
 
Six of the seven richest people on the planet owe their wealth to the sector, including No. 1 Jeff Bezos, who has added US$68 billion to his net worth this year, and Ballmer, who’s gained US$18 billion. Tech fortunes are the best performing on the index, up 25% in 2020.
 
Ballmer’s fortune has soared thanks to the 4% stake he’s estimated to have retained since leaving Microsoft’s board in 2014. The software company’s shares have risen almost fivefold since then, boosting his fortune to US$76.5 billion. Ballmer declined to comment on his Microsoft stake. Berkshire didn’t respond to a request for comment.
 
Buffett may welcome signs his gifts are shrinking his fortune. His pledge to give away his fortune only got harder as his fortune continued to rise. In his latest letter to shareholders he said he expects it will now take 12 to 15 years for his estate to dispose of all the shares he holds at the time of his death.
 
 
 - Bloomberg
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PappaRich restaurant group faces winding-up petitions

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 1:39 PM


SINGAPORE, July 9 : Winding-up petitions have been filed against Papparich Group Sdn Bhd, which runs a chain of namesake restaurants serving Malaysian cuisine.

The Malaysian company is a joint venture partner of Singapore-listed ST Group Food Industries, in connection with ST Food Group's indirect subsidiary Papparich Australia.

There are 125 Pappa Rich restaurants worlwide, 83 of which are in Malaysia, with six in Singapore.

The petitions were filed by Chen Khai Voon, and investment holdings firm Agathisfour in the High Court of Malaya on May 15 and May 22, respectively. They are due to be heard on Sept 21 and Nov 3 respectively.

ST Group Food, which does not operate the PappaRich restaurants in Singapore but has 29 outlets in Australia and five in New Zealand, said it does not expect the petitions to have any impact on its business and operations. "Our group will continue to hold the exclusive rights to the PappaRich brand in Australia and New Zealand," it said.

The Australian-based food and beverage group has other international brands such as Gong Cha, Ne Ne Chicken, Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart, Ippudo, IDarts and Go Noodle House.

ST Group Food said it will provide further updates to its shareholders and potential investors when there are material developments.

The company's shares were trading unchanged at 11.4 cents as of 10:13am on Thursday.

 


  - ANN

 

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DickyMe "There are 125 Pappa Rich restaurants worlwide, 83 of which are in Malaysia,..."
===================================================================

This shows the standard of entrepreneurship of Malaysia.

Rent seeker's mentality in franchise business.

No hard work but simply putting hope on popular "namesake" business.
09/07/2020 3:03 PM

Long-term effects of Covid-19 infection being studied in Singapore

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 1:39 PM


SINGAPORE : More than 500 Covid-19 patients here who have recovered are part of an ongoing study to monitor the long-term effects of infection.

The effort, which will continue for up to two years, is helmed by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

Numerous studies worldwide have found that the disease can wreak havoc on almost every organ, including the kidneys, liver, heart and brain. Patients have died not only from lung failure, but also from kidney failure, blood clots, liver abnormalities and neurological manifestations.

In Singapore, for example, a 41-year-old Covid-19 patient died of a massive pulmonary thromboembolism - when a blood clot gets lodged in the lungs, more than two weeks after he was discharged.

But most patients here do not suffer the long-term complications seen overseas, as many are young and do not develop severe infections, said Associate Professor David Lye, a senior consultant and director of the Infectious Disease Research and Training Office in NCID.

He noted that a small number of them do suffer persistent lung issues and were referred to lung specialists. The death rate in Singapore from the virus is also among the world's lowest.

Agreeing, Associate Professor Sophia Archuleta, head and senior consultant of the division of infectious diseases at the National University Hospital, said that the recovery process has been predictable for the vast majority of patients here.

"It is unlikely that a year from now, someone will have a complication that wasn't on our radar earlier."

Doctors and scientists say, however, that the disease needs to be studied further.

"This is still a very new disease with only around six months of history, more research is needed," Prof Archuleta stressed.

This is where the NCID's study plays a crucial role.

For one, doctors are keen to find out if there is a link between Covid-19 and heart inflammation, amid mounting evidence that while the virus initially affects the airways and lungs, the inflammatory response of the body can affect the heart too.

Professor Tan Huay Cheem, a senior consultant and director at the National University Heart Centre, Singapore, explained that troponin, a blood cardiac marker, is found at elevated levels in up to 30 per cent of Covid-19 patients, a sign of heart injury possibly from heart inflammation or myocarditis.

Patients with myocarditis can go on to develop permanent enlargement and weakening of the heart, a result of a persistently overactive immune system, he said.

Explaining that the heart damage is caused by an immune response due to the infection rather than an attack by the virus itself, Harvard Medical School cardiologist Michael Gibson said: "To date, no virus particles have been found inside the heart muscle cells, although there have been numerous inflammatory cells seen surrounding the heart muscle cells."

NCID's latest study is part of a broader effort called Protect - A Multi-centred Prospective Study To Detect Novel Pathogens And Characterise Emerging Infections, which began in 2012 and aims to put novel pathogens under the microscope.

Under the scheme, information and biological samples are collected from all public hospitals here. NCID collaborates with public hospitals, Duke-NUS Medical School, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and DSO National Laboratories - Singapore's defence research and development organisation.

Hospitals abroad are also tracking their patients.

For instance, Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States has a clinic exclusively dedicated to following up on Covid-19 patients from the intensive care unit or medical ward, and has seen more than 125 patients so far.

For most mildly symptomatic patients, they tend to experience fever, cough and fatigue. Some might have shortness of breath, muscle and joint pain and loss of smell and taste.

For those hit hard by the virus, however, the story is different.

For patients with severe symptoms and have to be placed under intensive care or need a ventilator to breathe, the side effects can come not just from the body's reaction to the virus, but also from being bed-bound for long periods.

Some, for instance, might suffer blood clots and might need blood thinners for several months. It is hypothesised that the virus enters the blood vessel lining, causing inflammation which results in clots.

Dr Dale Needham, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a leader in the field of intensive care recovery, told The Straits Times that prolonged muscle weakness, lasting for months or longer, is not just limited to the limbs, but also extends to breathing muscles, since Covid-19 is a respiratory illness that attacks the lungs.

Post-Covid-19 care is needed not just for the body, but also for the mind.

Recovered patients can experience psychological effects ranging from mild adjustment to severe depression and anxiety disorders, said Dr Michael Yong, group chief in Psychological Medicine at the National University Health System.

"The causes range from the trauma of having the illness to being isolated from others; lack of contact with friends and family for some people like foreign workers; worries about finances and employment; to the guilt of being infected," said Dr Yong, who is also the head of the Department of Psychiatry at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

 - ANN

 

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Asian markets track record Wall St lead on recovery hopes

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 1:39 PM


HONG KONG : Most Asian markets rose Thursday (July 9) following another record close on Wall Street as concerns about a new spike in infections around the world were overshadowed by optimism for the economic recovery.

The giant wall of money stumped up by governments and central banks was also providing crucial support to nervous equity traders, even as certain countries reimpose some containment measures.

And analysts expect the colossal cash back-up will likely continue to push asset prices higher.

As long as central banks "have the intention of continuing to try to provide stimulus to the global economy, markets will continue to drive higher even as they dislocate from the fundamentals that would otherwise normally drive earnings and stock prices", Shana Sissel, at Spotlight Asset Group, told Bloomberg TV.

In early trade, Hong Kong and Shanghai were each up 0.5 per cent, while Tokyo gained 0.1 per cent by lunch.

Seoul, Taipei and Jakarta all added 0.5 per cent and Singapore edged 0.1 per cent higher.

Sydney jumped 0.7 per cent following Wednesday's sharp drop as Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne imposed a fresh lockdown on five million residents to combat a new virus outbreak.

However, Wellington and Manila fell.

The broad advance came after all three main New York indexes rose, with the Nasdaq rallying 1.4 per cent to its fourth record in five sessions.

The easing of lockdowns and a healthy run of economic data have provided a boost to world markets in recent weeks -- with some up around 30-40 per cent from March lows -- though the major driver has been the trillions of dollars in stimulus and cheap credit.

Britain on Wednesday unveiled a $40 billion budget to kick-start the economy, which tops up the $350 billion already set aside.

"The US is also likely to continue its spending spree in August, with up to $1 trillion of additional stimulus, and should the EU's package be nearly as big as the initial proposal, liquidity won't be an issue in the developed world this year," said Ken Berman at Gorilla Trades.

"China is also in the midst of an unprecedented liquidity 'experiment' and should the global economic recovery remain on track risk assets could be on fire in the second half of the year. Stay tuned!"

While there are hopes for the economic recovery, investors also remain on edge about the spread of the coronavirus, which is surging across the US, forcing several states to reclose bars and restaurants.

Measures are also having to be reimposed in Serbia, while France, which had flattened its curve by imposing a strict early lockdown, said Wednesday it was girding for a possible surge in cases, leading its new prime minister to soothe fears by promising no new full shutdown.

Uncertainty about the outlook, along with an expectation that borrowing costs will remain anchored for some time, have sent gold prices soaring about a fifth this year and are now sitting above $1,800 for the first time since 2011.

And because gold is seen as a good store of value, it is also winning support from fears of high inflation caused by central bank stimulus, analysts said.

 - AFP

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Vietnam busts large-scale drug trafficking rings

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 1:38 PM


HANOI : Vietnamese police have cracked down three big drug trafficking rings in late June, seizing a large number of illicit drugs, Vietnam News Agency reported on Wednesday (July 8).

The first ring was busted on June 20 in southern Ho Chi Minh City. The authorities arrested five suspects aged 27 to 42, seizing 53.3kg of and 18,200 pills of synthetic drugs.

On June 29, the police of capital Hanoi city caught red-handed three people trafficking illicit drug in Dong Anh District, confiscating 54 cakes of heroin, arresting three other smugglers, including the ring leader. All the suspects are from northern Cao Bang and Dien Bien province, said the report.

On June 30, the police of southern Ho Chi Minh City cracked down another drug trafficking ring, detaining six people and seizing a total of 6kg of methamphetamine. Further investigation into the cases is underway.

According to the Investigation Police Department on Drug-related Crimes of the country's Ministry of Public Security, trafficking rings would likely increase their activities in the coming time after Covid-19 has been well controlled in Vietnam and social distancing orders have been eased.

As stipulated in Vietnamese laws, those convicted of smuggling over 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5kg of methamphetamine are punishable by death. Making or trading 100gm of heroin or 300gm of other illegal drugs also faces death penalty.

 


  - Xinhua

 

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