ASLI INSIGHTS: Asia Unpacked | 28 June 2024

ASLI is back with more ASLI INSIGHTS: Asia Unpacked!

Stay tuned for more top news in Asia handpicked by ASLI and for our curated weekly roundup!

This week’s Asia top news:

1) UNDP Report: Myanmar’s Middle Class Shrinks by Half, Millions Pushed into Poverty

Myanmar's middle class has halved over the past three years, with 42 million people now facing poverty and hardship, according to a UNDP report. The report states that 75% of the population is at risk of severe poverty, and 13.3 million people suffer from food insecurity. From 2020 to 2022, development aid to Myanmar decreased by over 40%, and humanitarian programs faced funding shortages. Despite these challenges, the UNDP has assisted over two million people and aims to reach eight million by 2025, focusing on cash assistance, agricultural support, and reconstruction projects. The World Bank also reported that 32% of Myanmar's population was living in poverty at the beginning of 2024, with the overall number of impoverished people increasing by seven million since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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2) Singapore Boosts Household Spending with $300 CDC Vouchers

Every Singaporean household can now claim $300 in Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers for daily expenses. These vouchers, available at, can be used at participating hawkers, heartland merchants, and supermarkets. Earlier this year, households received $500 in CDC vouchers, bringing the total to $800 for 2024. This initiative, first introduced in 2020, aims to help with cost-of-living concerns and support local businesses. The government plans to continue the scheme, with additional vouchers to be disbursed in January 2025, providing ongoing financial relief to households amidst high inflation.

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3) EU and China to hold discussions on electric vehicle tariffs

Last month, the EU noted that they would impose tariffs of up to 38% on Chinese electric vehicles, a move which risks a trade war between the countries. However, both agreed on Saturday to hold further talks to open a crucial line of negotiation to reduce an escalation in trade tensions. China has denied using unfair practices to make their prices more competitive, however it is now largely up to the EU to respond accordingly. Several countries in the EU, including Germany, have expressed concern over the impact these tariffs are projected to have on vital trade relations with China.

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4) Indonesia and Thailand Partners in Education

Thailand plans to enhance education collaboration with Indonesia, focusing on Indonesian cities like Yogyakarta, a popular destination for Thai students. This interest was discussed during a visit from Thai parliament representatives to Indonesia, aiming to strengthen bilateral relations. Both nations see potential for cooperation in various fields, including tourism and agriculture. Additionally, they discussed implementing the ASEAN resolution on Myanmar, with Indonesia advocating for a task force to mediate peace and democracy efforts. The visit also included plans for the Thai delegation to visit Bali, further solidifying the cultural and educational exchange between the two countries.

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5) Malaysia Invests in Inclusive Training: HR Ministry Funds OKU Talent Enhancement Programme (RM2 Million)

The Human Resources Ministry has allocated RM2 million to the Human Resources Development Corporation (HRD Corp) to continue the OKU Talent Enhancement Programme (Otep) this year. Minister Steven Sim highlighted that the programme focuses on providing specific skills training for persons with disabilities (PwDs), including neurodivergent individuals, and mapping them to suitable jobs. Last year, 30 PwD individuals received specialised training through Otep, with 15 securing jobs in a pilot project. Steven Sim emphasised the government's commitment to inclusivity and ensuring all Malaysians can achieve their aspirations. The announcement was made during the Neurodiversity Inclusion Impact programme for National Training Week (NTW) 2024, where HRD Corp had already accumulated over 65,000 free training courses and 280,000 enrolments by its third day. HRD Corp also presented 13 Certificates of Appreciation to participating employers and training providers.

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