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Malaysian PM confirms Anwar will be successor

May Taylor

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Malaysian PM confirms Anwar will be successor | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Malaysian PM, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad inspecting some Malaysian silks on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok – Twitter

The Malaysian PM, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed publicly that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, president of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) will be his successor. The 94 year old PM was speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in Bangkok yesterday, where he has been attending the ASEAN summit.

Dr Mahatir confirmed he will stand down before the next general election, despite some calls for him to remain until the end of the current government’s mandate.

“Yes, I will. Although there are lots of other people who have been asking me to carry on until the next election but that is their view. My commitment is to step down before the next election, certainly.”

The Nation reports that he also re-affirmed that Anwar will be his successor, and not Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Dr Mahatir stopped short of providing a transition timeline and his reluctance to commit to a deadline has been a bone of contention in the past.

“I cannot say whether it is two years or three years, but I will certainly step down as I promised.”

The two have had a tortured relationship for decades but came together last year to topple the former Malaysian PM, Najib Razak, who is currently battling numerous legal battles over his involvement with the 1MBD development bank scandal.

SOURCE: The Nation

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ASEAN

Thailand is the leading ASEAN nation in annual suicide rates

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand is the leading ASEAN nation in annual suicide rates | The Thaiger

“Thailand, which ranks in 32nd place with 14.4 of suicides per 100.000 population – or nearly 10,000 suicide deaths last year.”

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide and nearly 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, according to the World Health Organisation. In Thailand, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds, after road injury.

Thailand, which ranks in 32nd place with 14.4 of suicides per 100.000 population – or nearly 10,000 suicide deaths last year – holds the unenviable position of number 1 among ASEAN countries on the WHO suicide list, followed by Singapore (Rank 67 with the ratio of 11.2) and Laos (Rank 84 with the ratio of 8.6. The Philippines has the ASEANS’s least rate (Rank 163 with the ratio of 3.2). Brunei wasn’t on the 183-country list.

While noting that the number of countries with national suicide prevention strategies had increased to 38 in the five years since the publication of WHO’s first global report on suicide, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that this was still far too few and governments need to commit to establishing them.

“Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide,” said Ghebreyesus.

“Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues. Yet suicides are preventable. We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way.”

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

The “40 seconds of action” campaign held last October provided an opportunity for people to help improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

The WHO also urged people to share their messages, photos, illustrations and videos that are not of a private nature on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #40seconds and #WorldMentalHealthDay.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand is the leading ASEAN nation in annual suicide rates | News by The Thaiger

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ASEAN

ASEAN aiming to develop Universal Healthcare Coverage for all member states

The Thaiger

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ASEAN aiming to develop Universal Healthcare Coverage for all member states | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pacific Health Care

Promoting universal healthcare coverage for citizens is now a common goal of ASEAN member states. The aim is to grant people access to healthcare without barriers to improve nations’ health and wellbeing of all citizens. Universal healthcare is a hallmark of civilised governments around the world with the UN describing UHC as a right of all citizens.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of Public Health Ministry Dr Supakit Sirilak says the ASEAN Bloc hopes to assist some member states lift the standard of their medical services to provide full universal healthcare, understanding that each nation is at a different stage of economic development. Supakit oversees ministerial collaboration on the health agenda for the ASEAN states.

“Governments of some countries have yet to provide health coverage to civil servants. It would be difficult for them to implement UHC in the near future.”

ASEAN countries fall into three groups progressing on their healthcare development journey.

• Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have succeeded in setting up successful UHC (Universal Health Care).

“The entire populations of these countries are covered by healthcare insurance.”

• Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam are halfway through the journey to UHC.

“Their governments have passed laws to guarantee healthcare access to citizens but their health insurance programs do not cover every citizen at this stage.”

• Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar lack financial resources to fund free healthcare for citizens at this stage.

“Each ASEAN nation has a different level of health expenditure, showing the gap in health access among citizens in the region.”

For example, in 2016, the average Singaporean spent approximately 74,400 baht per person on health. A person in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand spent from 3,400 – 19,000 baht, while health expenditure per person in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar was less than 3,000 baht per person.

Using Thailand’s journey to UHC as an example, the Minister noted that the Kingdom was a middle-income country that could achieve UHC without getting rich first. Supakit said the success of introducing UHC in Thailand was de to two main factors: infrastructure readiness and long-term commitment from successive governments.

Prior to the introduction of UHC in 2002 (an initiative by PM Thaksin Shinawatra) the Thai government allocated large budgets to improve health facilities including building hospitals in every district and increasing the numbers of rural doctors. Successive political parties committing to the project improved UHC and expanded its benefits.

“But we don’t want just a few countries to achieve UHC. We want to see our neighbours, ASEAN members and the world do it.”

Achieving UHC is one of the main targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations is strongly encouraging the leaders of every country to introduce UHC for the good health and wellbeing of their citizens.

SOURCE: Thailand Today

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ASEAN

The baht keeps surging – and other predictions for the Thai economy in 2020

Tim Newton

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The baht keeps surging – and other predictions for the Thai economy in 2020 | The Thaiger

The last time the Thai baht’s value against theUSD touched 29 baht/US dollar was back in 2013. But the currency appreciation situation was quite different then. Today it’s floating around 30 baht in its 22nd year as a floating international currency.

How will all that affect the Thai economy in 2020?

Now the strong baht is a result of the Kingdom’s huge current account surplus, caused mainly by the export-weighted economy. The surplus, valued around US$26.4 billion, stems from lower import values when compared to the value of exports, the rising inflows of tourism revenue and near-record foreign reserves of about $222 billion.

The impressive foreign reserves make Thailand stand out as a safe haven for investor capital, both real investment and speculation. At the same time, the US dollar is in retreat, rattled by the soft global economy, the US Federal Reserve’s policy of monetary easing and the engineered trade tiff between the world’s two largest economies.

Thailand’s economic growth was 2.4% in Q3, up from Q2’s 2.3% but down from Q1’s 2.8% growth. And regionally, the Thai baht is the top-performing currency in Asia, gaining nearly 8% against the USD so far in 2019. All that is happening whilst Thailand’s local economy remains, well, sluggish.

The Bank of Thailand has rolled out a range of tepid measures to blunt the baht’s strengthening value… cutting the policy interest rate, cutting the short-term bond supply, and lowering the cap on the outstanding balance of non-resident accounts by a third

But all that work still leaves the strong baht a challenge for Thai exporters and the tourist industry. Despite the rise in costs for foreign tourists, some more than others, the country’s tourist intake will still end up higher in 2019 than last year.

The outlook is that the baht’s value is likely to keep surging next year, but analysts say the rise will be less dynamic than in the past few years.

Kasikornbank Bank projects the baht to reach 28.70 against the dollar in 2020, based on assumptions that exports will start to rebound and the number of inbound tourists will be greater than the locals heading overseas for holidays.

The big ‘unknown’ is the ongoing, and unpredictable, US-China trade war. The results of this could have a big effect on some world currencies, depending on how the two economies patch together a workable plan. Or perhaps they can’t and it will drag on, increasing uncertainly in a patchy world economy – neither China or the US will gain anything from that situation.

The two other economic ticking bombs are the US Presidential election in November 2020 and the on-again, off-again Brexit farrago which continues to bedevil attempts to keep the British economy out of recession.

With export shipments accounting for 70% of Thailand’s GDP, all eyes will be on the Thai Government’s attempts to stimulate exports and the new RCEP trade bloc, which Thailand is signed up to – the largest trading bloc in the world which should take effect from Q2 and Q3, 2020. The RCEP will involve countries covering about half of the world’s population and 39% of the world’s GDP. RCEP is all the ASEAN nations plus, China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The baht keeps surging - and other predictions for the Thai economy in 2020 | News by The Thaiger

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