Airlines, airports and passports
In this past week, news in ASEAN countries mainly focused on airports and the aviation sector. In Malaysia, AirAsia – the leading low-cost carrier in the region – announced that it is partnering up with SATS Ltd of Singapore to expand its reach in both countries. The low-cost carrier is also looking at beefing up its current fleet and is expected to bring in 23 new planes by the end of 2017. Similarly, the city state's national carrier, Singapore Airlines, will be spending about 850 million dollars to refit all of its SE A380 jets to set itself apart from the competition.
Singapore's Changi Airport has also launched its new and technologically-advanced terminal last Tuesday. Terminal 4 is equipped with a fully automated check-in system including facial scanning and computerised baggage drop points.
At the same time, Singapore passport has just claimed the top stop in the latest world ranking released by The Passport Index. The island nation enjoys a "visa-free score" of 159 and has outranked Germany when Paraguay removed its passport restrictions. It is the first time that an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world.
While Singaporeans rejoice, the Thais are getting increasingly frustrated when the junta-backed administration revoked four passports of former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Months after her arrest, Thai authorities are still on the hunt for the ousted prime minister who some believe is currently residing in the United Kingdom.
In this picture taken on July 25, 2017 shows a general view of the arrival hall at the newly built Changi airport terminal 4 in Singapore. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)
Global superpowers turned their focus to Southeast Asia ahead of the ASEAN Summit 2017. While each superpower is attempting to strengthen its foothold in the region, China organised the largest-ever joint maritime rescue exercise alongside several ASEAN nations including Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao and Brunei. Vietnam was notably missing from the exercise.
On the other hand, the UK was represented by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla who arrived in Singapore on Monday. On Tuesday Charles and Camilla received a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace where they were greeted by Singapore's President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The royal couple arrived in Malaysia on Thursday and will head to India next.
US President Donald Trump is also scheduled to visit its close ally, Japan, on November 5-7. He is expected to meet with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was recently re-elected amidst mounting tension in the Korean Peninsula.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly September 21, 2017 in New York City, USA. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
Over the week, The ASEAN Post also covered topics including the late Thai King's royal cremation ceremony in Bangkok, online child grooming in Southeast Asia, the boom of fundings for tech startups in the region, pangolin smuggling as well as The Youth Pledge (also known as the "Sumpah Pemuda") in Indonesia.