In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, with leisure travel grinding to a halt, several workers in Singapore find themselves in the odd situation — perhaps for the first time — of not making full use of their annual leave.

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While in other years these unused holiday days would have been washed out, some companies have allowed workers to carry over their leave days to the next year.

Others are yet to come up with other means to ensure that the paid leave days of their workers do not go to waste.

Employees contributed a combined 20,145 days of annual leave to student support and endowments at Nanyang Technological University.


A power curb has been lifted on vehicles ferrying workers. The change to remove the 25% reduction in carrying capacity is in line with the beginning of phase three of the reopening of Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday.

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The reduction in maximum passenger capacity was announced in late May as the country set out to resume business after the circuit breaker, which ended on June 1.

There will remain other secure management steps in place. MOM said staff should continue to wear a mask in the vehicle at all times and that when on board, they should not speak or communicate. …


Monsour del Rosario and Alvin Aguilar, veteran Filipino martial arts artists, predict an exciting boxing bout in Dubai next year between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

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Established as a taekwondo sensation since the mid-80s, Del Rosario claims that a rather durable McGregor, a two-weight category winner in the UFC, will face the defending World Boxing Association welterweight champion.

For them, every time he steps into the ring, the Senator still delivers an entertaining fight. Meanwhile, McGregor is a UFC champion and a strong striker as well, so they think it’s going to be an entertaining match. …


Indonesia has the highest number of infections with COVID-19 in ASEAN, but it remains the only country in the region to avoid the general lockdown. However, as with other ASEAN nations, air travel remains highly restrictive.

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The wait may be over for the vaccine, but before opening the borders, Indonesia or ASEAN can not afford to wait for it to function. We should begin working towards an ASEAN-wide travel bubble before we achieve herd immunity by extending, updating and consolidating the myriad of unilateral and bilateral travel agreements that currently exist in the area.

In ASEAN, travel corridors or ‘green lanes’ are the most common, which allow reciprocal travel under strict conditions, such as pre-arranged itineraries, with testing but without quarantine for select groups such as businessmen.


Digital health passports have been developed by Singapore companies that can check the COVID-19 test results of travelers, as the country is steadily reopening its borders with safe management measures in place.

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Affinidi said that it is working on trials for inbound travellers with government agencies and private sector partners, while two other companies said they were involved in pilots for the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble, which was expected to launch on Nov 22, but has since been postponed.

Digital health passports allow clinics and hospitals, using technologies such as blockchain, to securely exchange healthcare data across borders.

Developers issue a QR code with the test result, which travelers show to immigration authorities, after prospective travelers take their COVID-19 test at a healthcare provider operating with these applications. …


As of January, Singapore Airlines (SIA) will resume flights to Dubai, Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Moscow and Munich, the carrier said on Friday (Dec 18).

SIA said in a Facebook post that adjustments would also be made to the flight schedules for its SilkAir regional wing and Scoot budget carrier.

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“The changes are part of a “detailed analysis” to decide which airlines are “better suited to meet changing customer and cargo demand” in the SIA Group portfolio, it said.

As a result of these improvements, the passenger capacity of the Group is projected to hit approximately 25% of its pre-COVID-19 level by the end of March next year. …


According to a recent report, an increasing need for a sharper emphasis on sustainability issues is obvious in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Jointly conducted by the United Overseas Bank and the Institute for Emerging Market Studies of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the researchers also found that Chinese companies see the value of drawing on the diverse strengths of the ASEAN markets and the need for continued effective collaboration.

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Researchers centered on Chinese companies with BRI investments in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, six main emerging ASEAN markets. The aim of the study is to provide insights into the political, institutional and environmental factors that affect the design and execution of the BRI project, the potential for private investment by the BRI, and opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI) in ASEAN.


For its next five-year action plan, the Asean Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) prioritizes transparency, regulatory harmonization, and capital building, with the objective of sustainably growing regional capital markets and promoting transactions in the field of environmental, social, and governance (ESG).

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Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, Secretary-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC), virtually attended the 33rd meeting of ACMF Chairs yesterday to support five key goals for the 2021–25 Action Plan of ACMF.

The five priorities of the plan include improving accountability and disclosure levels, continuing regulatory harmonization, strengthening capacity building, enhancing communication and understanding, and reinforcing cooperation and coordination.

The meeting also welcomed the provision of technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support the implementation of the ACMF Roadmap on Sustainable Finance Initiatives in order to participate in the Climate Bonds initiative. …


The Aviation Institute of Singapore called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to consider a structure for travel bubbles in Southeast Asia.

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“While the Covid-19 pandemic has decimated the global aviation industry, the ten Southeast Asian countries comprising [ASEAN] have experienced declines in passenger traffic that have been much sharper than the global and Asia-Pacific averages,” says a whitepaper from the Technology and Design University of Singapore’s Aviation Studies Institute.

Data from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and other sources also suggest that ASEAN international travel has deteriorated even more than non-ASEAN travel connections,” the paper adds.”

The whitepaper, written by independent aviation consultant Brendan Sobie, states that this is not happening in Southeast Asia while air traffic is beginning to recover in other regions. Domestic passenger levels in the region are projected to be at 50 percent of usual levels, but this is not especially beneficial for airlines, considering that domestic sales are often inadequate to cover fixed costs. …


On Tuesday (Dec 15), Moderna said it had reached an agreement with the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Singapore to supply the country with mRNA-1273, its COVID-19 vaccine.

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The agreement will “support ongoing efforts to secure access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for the people of Singapore” the biotechnology company said.

The quantity of dosages and the financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.

“We recognize that it will take a number of vaccines and therapeutic options to address this global pandemic, and we are proud of the role Moderna has played in this global effort,” said CEO Stephane Bancel. …

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The Asian Affairs

Sharing the latest news from 4 different countries in SouthEast Asia!

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