Asian leaders began arriving yesterday for a summit in the Islamic sultanate of Brunei as strains start to show over support for the US bombing of Afghanistan. \nThe centerpiece of the ASEAN summit is a declaration of support for the war on terror and a commitment to coordinate ASEAN's anti-terrorist efforts. \nBut the group is divided over the US bombing of Afghanistan and a summit declaration ducks any reference to it. \n"Some ASEAN members are strongly aligned to the US and prefer to keep silent, while for instance Malaysia and Indonesia have already voiced their opposition to military action," a Malaysian official was quoted as saying by the Malaysian news agency Bernama. \nThe official said some countries were cautious about offending Washington. \nIndonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, and mostly Muslim Malaysia have already said the bombing of Afghanistan should stop and will seek backing within ASEAN. \n"We urge for a humanitarian pause. We have to be attentive to the problem of civilian sufferings," said Makarim Wibisono, head of foreign and economic relations at the Indonesian foreign ministry. \nASEAN begins its two-day annual summit today, along with the leaders of north Asian neighbors China, Japan and Korea, as civilian casualties in Afghanistan mount and with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan less than two weeks away. \nASEAN Secretary-General Rodolfo Severino said the organization's message was that it opposed terrorism in all its forms and was determined to take measures to combat it. \nBut the declaration would contain no reference to Afghanistan. \n"What is happening in Afghanistan is not part of the declaration because the declaration that the leaders may issue will be about ASEAN cooperation in combating [terrorism], especially in this area," Severino said. \nIndonesia's Wibisono said Afghanistan would be discussed on the sidelines as the continued US bombings could alienate moderate Muslim states and jeopardize the global coalition against terrorism. \n"The issue is being handled through the lobbies but not at the meeting proper," Wibisono said. "It will not be reflected in the final document. \n"This question of sensitivity to that issue is essential because it will [be needed to] guarantee the cohesiveness of an international coalition to combat terrorism." \nASEAN's broad commitment to Washington's campaign against terrorism echoes the pledge these same leaders made at the bigger Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Shanghai last month, but its focus will be how to counter cross-border militancy in the region. \nThe wording of the declaration is still being worked on, as some countries, such as Indonesia, want a binding convention ratified by national parliaments to cement coordination between the security and defense forces of the ten nations. \nIndonesia and the Philippines are fighting separatist movements and in the past three months Malaysia has locked up supporters of an opposition Muslim fundamentalist party on suspicion of belonging to an Afghan-inspired militant group. \nThe governments have raised the spectre of links between militant groups in the three countries. \n"Terrorism in Southeast Asia has a transnational dimension," Severino said. \n"In the summit, they will be looking at specific measures to deal with terrorism, perhaps the financial resources of terrorists, in terms of exchange of intelligence and border control," he said. \nThe summit will also address how to counter an economic slowdown and the long-term goal of linking the infant ASEAN Free Trade Area with the emerging power of the Chinese economy. It will also examine the fight against AIDS, which has already infected an estimated 1.6 million of the region's half a billion people.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
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The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a