Ani Hasanah

Ani Hasanah

13
February

Fears that the novel-Coronavirus may be spreading at a faster rate than previously estimated have arisen after a new diagnosis technique uncovered far more suspected cases since Tuesday.

According to CNA’s Beijing correspondent Olivia Siong, in their studio on Wednesday, Medical staff using CT scans in Hubei Province, China, say diagnoses of pneumonia and possible novel-Coronavirus cases have elevated sharply since Tuesday (11/02/2020), with up to 15,000 new infections discovered.

Following the outbreak in December 2019, the virus has infected an estimated 60,000 people and claimed the lives of 1,300. The increase in infections comes as a blow to the province, which has experienced shortages in medical supplies since transport lockdowns came into effect at the end of January and quarantining an unprecedented 50 million people in the province, according to The New York Times. The global infection rate sits at just above one per cent while the infection rate in Hubei hovers around four per cent, raising concern about the effectiveness of Chinese authority’s efforts to slow the spread.

Ms Siong explained the discontent within Mainland China over methods officials used to deal with the issue. The punishment of doctors who initially sounded the alarm of a “SARS-like” virus early on sparked anger among the Chinese people. Ms Siong said they believe authorities could have prevented the emergency sooner had they not ignored the doctor’s warnings.

"With the case of Dr Li, he was one of the first to sound the alarm of a SARS-like virus but if you recall, eight people in Wuhan were reprimanded for spreading so-called rumours and false information. And so many people feel that if they had been taken seriously, the situation may not have gotten to this stage that we are seeing today," Ms Siong told CNA. 

She mentioned the further fallout China was facing following the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations. 160 million Chinese people’s travel has been disrupted following the Lunar NY break, alongside fears that China’s slowing economy, at its lowest point in 30 years, will be unable to recover from the losses they are feeling in tourism, trade, and labour-power. Many countries, including Indonesia have begun placing harsh travel restrictions and bans on Chinese citizens. (VOI/LAURA GREEN)

12
February

Russian Ambassador to Indonesia Mrs Lyudmila Vorobieva, at a press conference at her home in Jakarta on Wednesday (12/2), said she was optimistic about upcoming Indonesia-Russia defense dealings, which would include a navy force training program and 100 navy ships commissioned from Russia. The program, which was agreed amidst the two country’s 70th anniversary celebrations of their relations, was signed off after meetings between Russian and Indonesian defense delegates.

As I always say, Indonesia is our friend, and we want our friends to have the best. We produce all kind of equipment, any kind. Any kind of equipment Indonesia has, we can supply, but we respect the right of Indonesia to choose from who and what they buy,” the Ambassador said.

The countries have a long history of defense relations, with past deals centring around Indonesia’s arms purchases from Russia. Indonesia’s current efforts to improve their defense forces aim to safeguard their valuable territorial waters, such as the Malacca Strait, a major trade route in the Asia-Pacific under Indonesian administration. Russian Ambassador to Indonesia Lyudmila Vorobieva said she was excited for future deals between her country and Indonesia, particularly with furthering defense agreements alongside goods trading such as Indonesian palm oil imports to Russia.

“We just want to have cooperation that makes both of our countries stronger,” Ambassador Vorobieva said. (VOI/Laura Green)

13
February

New BP boss Bernard Looney has said he wants the company to sharply cut net carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. Mr Looney said the 111-year-old company needed to "reinvent" itself, a strategy that will eventually include more investment in alternative energy. BP will have to fundamentally reorganise itself to help make those changes, said Mr Looney, who took over as chief executive last week. It follows similar moves by rivals, including Royal Dutch Shell and Total.

Mr Looney said: "The world's carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero. "Trillions of dollars will need to be invested in re-plumbing and rewiring the world's energy system." "This will certainly be a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. It is clear to me, and to our stakeholders, that for BP to play our part and serve our purpose, we have to change. And we want to change - this is the right thing for the world and for BP."

He outlined his plans in a keynote speech on Wednesday. "Providing the world with clean, reliable affordable energy will require nothing less than reimagining energy, and today that becomes BP's new purpose," he said. "Reimagining energy for people and our planet." "We'll still be an energy company, but a very different kind of energy company: leaner, faster moving, lower carbon, and more valuable." BP's announcement that it intends to become a zero carbon emissions company by 2050 was not short of fanfare. It's new boss, 49-year-old Irishman Bernard Looney, delivered what the company described as a landmark speech in front of hundreds of journalists and investors.

But while he was clear what he wanted and why, he was less clear on how and when. There was a commitment to reduce the company's investments in oil and gas exploration, and increase investment in zero and low-carbon energy over time. But there were no commitments to specific targets in the intervening 30 years. Indeed he said that BP would still be in the oil and gas business three decades from now but in a sustainable way. Ultimately, it will fall to his successors to make good on promises made today. But Mr Looney said in order to start a journey you need a destination. His critics would say you need a more detailed map on how to get there.

On Instagram, which Mr Looney recently signed up to, he said: "Rest assured - a lot of time - and listening - has gone into this." "All of the anxiety and frustration of the world at the pace of change is a big deal. I want you to know we are listening. Both as a company - and myself as an individual."In the longer term, BP's plans will involve less investment in oil and gas, and more investment in low carbon businesses. The company said it wanted to be "net zero" by 2050 - that is, it wants the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations, and from the oil and gas it produces, to make no addition to the amount of greenhouse gases in the world's atmosphere by that date. It also wants to halve the amount of carbon in its products by 2050.

Mr Looney did not set out in detail how it intended to reach its "net zero" target, something that drew criticism from environmental campaign organisation Greenpeace. Charlie Kronick, oil advisor from Greenpeace UK, said there were many unanswered questions. "How will they reach net zero? Will it be through offsetting? When will they stop wasting billions on drilling for new oil and gas we can't burn? "What is the scale and schedule for the renewables investment they barely mention? And what are they going to do this decade, when the battle to protect our climate will be won or lost?" Mr Looney addressed this criticism after his speech, saying: "We want a rapid transition. A transition that is delayed, and then suddenly is a right-angle change that disrupts the world, would be destructive to our company."

"We're starting with a destination. The details will come," he said.

When asked whether that meant it's oil and gas business would cease to grow, Mr Looney said: "BP is going to be in the oil and gas business for a very long time. That's a fact. We pay an $8bn in dividends [to shareholders] every year. Not paying that is one way to make sure that we're not around to enable the transition that we want." However, he said the existing oil and gas business would shrink over time. Any remaining carbon produced by the use of BP products would have to be captured or offset, he said.

Climate Action 100+, a group of large investors that is trying to put pressure on major greenhouse gas emitters to clean up their act, said the BP announcement was "welcome".

"We need to see a wholesale shift to a net zero economy by 2050," said Stephanie Pfeifer, a member of the action group's steering committee. "This must include oil and gas companies if we are to have any chance of successfully tackling the climate crisis," said Ms Pfeifer, who is also chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.

She said that Climate Action 100+ investors, which have already been putting pressure on BP, will continue to look for progress from the company in addressing climate change.

"This includes how it will invest more in non-oil and gas businesses, and ensuring its lobbying activity supports delivery of the Paris Agreement," she said.(BBC)

13
February

Pope Francis has ruled against ordaining married men in the Amazon region as a means of addressing the shortage of Catholic priests. Bishops backed the measure last year, but the decision needed the Pope's approval to be implemented. Catholic priests are required to abide by the rule of celibacy upon ordination except in cases where married Anglican ministers have converted. Celibacy is seen as the devotion of one's life to God.

The conservative wing of the Catholic Church - particularly in Europe and North America - has spoken out against the idea of married priests, arguing that this could lead to the global abolition of celibacy. A statement from the Vatican said: "The Amazon challenges us, the Pope writes, to overcome limited perspectives and not to content ourselves with solutions that address only part of the situation." The Pope said there was a need for ministers who can understand Amazonian sensibilities and cultures from within. He urged bishops to "promote prayer for priestly vocations" and to encourage those who want to become missionaries to "opt for the Amazon region".

In October last year, a synod of 184 bishops met at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Church in the Amazon. It was argued that older, married men should be allowed to become priests. However, they would need to be men who are particularly well-respected and would preferably come from the indigenous communities where they intend to work. It is estimated that at least 85% of villages in the Amazon are unable to celebrate Mass every week as a result of a shortage of priests. Some are said to only see a priest once a year.

Bishop Robert Flock of San Ignacio, a remote diocese in the Bolivian Amazon, told the BBC's Newshour: "The Pope simply kicked the can down the road. He doesn't even mention the recommendation of the possibility of married deacons being ordained as priests which was what the synod conclusions had suggested. "The Catholic Church moves slowly in certain areas and this is one of those that could have caused terrible divisions in the church," he added. Pope Francis had previously said he would consider the possibility of viri probati (men of proven faith) carrying out some duties. "We have to give a thought to whether viri probati are a possibility," he told German newspaper Der Zeit.

Also on Wednesday, the Pope announced he had decided not to allow women to serve as deacons, a lower rank than priest. Separately he called for the environment in the Amazon to be defended due to its vital role in mitigating global warming. "We demand an end to the mistreatment and destruction of mother Earth," the Pope said. It might be convenient to conclude that Pope Francis' decision not to accede to the request from Amazon bishops is a victory for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and those traditionalists who regard him as their standard-bearer.

Last month it emerged that Benedict had contributed to a book, 'From the Depths of Our Hearts', written by Cardinal Robert Sarah, which repeatedly asserts that priests must be celibate. But when Pope Francis was asked about the issue, during a press conference on a flight back to Rome from Panama in January 2019, he was clear about his own preference. "Personally," he said, "I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no."

Pope Francis was also concerned that if celibacy became the key feature of his response to October's Synod, then other pressing issues for the region would not garner sufficient attention. As he writes in the first chapter of his response, "the Amazon region is facing an ecological disaster" and so he has opted to focus not on the internal issue of celibacy but the external challenge of climate change. The controversy about married priests is one of the longest-running debates in the history of the Catholic Church.

Priestly celibacy was introduced about 900 years ago, and before then clergy were often married. St Peter, considered to be the first pope, was a married man and many early popes had children. Many see celibacy as a key part of being a Catholic priest, one who is supposed to devote himself to the Church and not be distracted by what some consider to be worldly concerns like a wife or a family. Other churches including the Eastern Orthodox Church have permitted clerical marriage (though, in the case of the Orthodox Communion, bishops are required to remain unmarried).

In addition, former Anglican priests who left the Anglican Communion after it changed its laws to permit women to serve as priests and bishops have been received into the Catholic Church by a special papal dispensation and ordained as Roman Catholic priests even though some of them are married with children. The Catholic Church's rule is just that - a rule, which means that the church is free to change that practice if or when it believes change is necessary. (BBC)