Asian Insider, Sept 23: Anwar claims support of 'formidable majority' of MPs, Facebook shuts hundreds of fake accounts in Philippines, China; Thai royalists march against change


In today’s bulletin: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claims ‘formidable majority’ to form government; US-China tensions at United Nations; Facebook shuts hundreds of fake accounts in Philippines & China; Asian business sentiments look up; Singapore-India bourses end dispute; Thai royalists oppose constitutional amendments, and more.

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Malaysia seemed headed for more political turmoil after Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim declared today that he has a “strong, convincing, formidable majority” to form a new government and that the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has “collapsed”.

Datuk Seri Anwar told a news conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur that the MPs with him now include those from the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance. But he didn’t disclose the number of MPs supporting him. A minimum of 112 MPs is needed to control Parliament in the 222-seat House. 

His claim was slammed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who said he is still the country’s legitimate leader and his PN government remains in power, until it was proven through constitutional means that Datuk Seri Anwar had majority support from federal lawmakers.

Meanwhile, addressing a virtual summit, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who formed the Pakatan Harapan government with support from Datuk Seri Anwar earlier, said it wasn’t the first time the latter had made the claim.

“We will have to wait to see if this is another episode of making claims that cannot be substantiated,” Dr Mahathir said. 

Delve deeper: 

Malaysia’s political manoeuvring, next episode

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Fears over consequences of worsening ties between the United States and China lingered long after the two presidents addressed the United Nations.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo used his first address to the UN General Assembly to warn that global stability could be “destroyed” if growing geopolitical rivalries persist.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated the same concern as he said: “Given the size and military might of the contenders, we can only imagine and be aghast at the terrible toll on human life and property that shall be inflicted if the ‘word war’ deteriorates into a real war of nuclear weapons and missiles.” 

Chinese President Xi Jinping took a conciliatory tone at the forum maintaining that Beijing has “no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country.” But US President Donald Trump said China should be held accountable for having “unleashed” Covid-19 on the world.

Also read: 

Duterte gets tough on China, leaning back to old ally America

China calls for global ‘green revolution’ and sets 2060 goal to go carbon neutral


Facebook, on Wednesday, removed 300 fake accounts run by networks in China and the Philippines. The activity of the accounts was described by Facebook cyber security policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher as “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

Philippines Correspondent Raul Dancel reports that the Chinese network, comprising 155 Facebook accounts, 11 Facebook pages, nine Facebook groups and six Instagram accounts, praised Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, backed a presidential run for Mr Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter – Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio – and attacked an online news site that had been critical of Mr Duterte’s policies.

The Philippine network of 57 Facebook accounts, 31 Facebook pages and 20 Instagram accounts was linked to Philippine security forces and targeted left-leaning groups. Many of the accounts were linked to China’s Fujian province and had amassed 133,000 followers.

Read also: 

Manila probes rise in fake Facebook accounts after anti-terror law protest


Business sentiment among Asian firms rebounded in the third quarter with countries opting to ease coronavirus related movement restrictions, a new survey by Thomson Reuters/Insead showed. 

Asian firms’ outlook for the next six months tracked by the Thomson Reuters/Insead Asian Business Sentiment Index jumped to 53 in the third quarter from an 11-year low of 35 in the second, according to the survey of 103 companies across 11 Asia-Pacific countries.

But more than two-thirds of the companies polled said they saw the pandemic, or a fresh spike in Covid-19 cases, as a top risk.

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Coronavirus pandemic slashes worldwide income from work by a tenth: ILO


The Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) have agreed to end a disagreement related to derivatives trading by withdrawing arbitration proceedings over a 2018 dispute related to the trading of Indian stock-based derivatives in Singapore. The two bourses will launch a cross-border trading link.


THAI ROYALISTS OPPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THAI CONSTITUTION: Hundreds of Thai royalists marched to Parliament on Wednesday to oppose calls from anti-government protesters for changes to the Constitution as a special session of Parliament convened to consider amending it.

SUGA TO CREATE NEW DIGITAL AGENCY: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he wanted to compile a basic policy on a new digital agency by the end of this year and submit necessary bills to next year’s ordinary session of parliament. The new agency is to lead digitalisation in Japan.

TESLA IN SINGAPORE?: Tesla has posted fresh job ads for roles based in Singapore, signalling chief executive Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle maker is preparing to set up shop in the wealthy city-state it has so far skirted.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading the Asian Insider newsletter. We’ll be back with you tomorrow. 


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