Some Thursday ASEAN links:
The Japanese Embassy in Manila announced PHP 3 billion ($66 million) in grants intended to speed up recovery in the heavily damaged Visayas region, following the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe, joined by the Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, said the funding would “focus on rehabilitation and improvement in the fields of infrastructure and communications.”
“Owing to the disasters of last year and the relentless efforts of the Government of the Philippines to propel the [country] toward progress, the Government of Japan sincerely extends its support to a friend in need,” said a statement released by the Japanese Embassy. “Japan believes that these projects will signify its unflagging commitment to the ‘Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries and continue to strengthen the friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines.”
The monetary pledge confirms earlier promises made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who offered his support to President Benigno Aquino last December.
Approximately PHP 2 billion will be used on rebuilding, while PHP 1 billion will be split between improving the Philippine Coast Guard’s communications technology and upgrading the water supply system in Cebu.
Over in Malaysia, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim pressed parliament to recognize abuses against the opposition Pakatan Raykat leaders. He cited a “grave concern” over an apparent trend of legal judgments against opposition figures and ethnic minorities.
“There are more pervasive series of judgments that are contrary to the rule of law and principles in the country,” Anwar announced in a press conference. “Where is the separation of powers? Parliament must be assertive about this… if not Parliament, where do we raise this concern?”
He added: “Do we go to the courts? Do we go to the streets?”
Anwar cited the conviction of Pakatan colleague Karpal Singh for sedition earlier this month, as well as his own conviction on charges of homosexual activity.
Elsewhere in Malaysia, a country still reeling from the loss of Malaysia Air Flight MH370, reports of a domestic flight catching fire in mid-air added to a string of mishaps.
The Malindo Air flight was headed from Subang to Kuala Terengganu when one of the aircraft’s engines burst into flames. The flight successfully turned back to Subang Airport, avoiding catastrophe.
The flight was carrying Terenganu’s Super League soccer team after playing a match against the Armed Forces on Tuesday night.
A photo of the burning engine went viral on social media after being posted online by Mohd Faiz, a Terengganu midfielder.
“I could only pray that nothing bad would happen to us. Furthermore, it was the first time I encountered this kind of emergency,” Faiz told Channel NewsAsia. “All of us were quite in a panic, but the pilot and crew acted professionally to calm us down.”