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The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore10/23/2020 07:00 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
This week: South Korean deaths spark flu vaccine safety fears, Thailand lifts protest ban and fund manager gets charged.
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Quoteworthy: "It’s not a matter of yes or no — it’s a matter of how much I can get." –— Paul Schulte of equity research firm Schulte Research, referring to appetite among investors for Ant Group’s hotly-anticipated US$35 billion ($47 billion) IPO.

South Korean deaths spark flu vaccine safety fears

South Korean officials refused to suspend the country’s seasonal flu inoculation programme on Oct 22, despite growing calls to do so following the deaths of at least 13 people who were vaccinated in recent days.

Health authorities said they have found no direct links between the deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy, and the vaccines being given under a programme to inoculate some 19 million teenagers and senior citizens for free.

“The number of deaths has increased, but our team sees low possibility that the deaths resulted from the shots,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, told parliament.

South Korea ordered 20% more flu vaccines this year to ward off what it calls a “twindemic” of people with flu developing potential Covid-19 complications, and overburdening hospitals over the winter.

The country’s free vaccine programme uses doses manufactured by local drug makers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical, along with France’s Sanofi and Britain’s Glaxosmithkline (GSK). The vaccines are distributed by local companies LG Chem and Boryung Biopharma, a unit of Boryung Pharm.

GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to comment. Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

It was not immediately clear if any of the South Korean-manufactured vaccines were exported, or whether those supplied by Sanofi and GSK were also being used in other countries.

The free programme has proved controversial from its launch last month. Its start was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility. — Reuters

Thailand lifts protest ban that backfired

Thailand on Oct 22 rolled back an emergency decree aimed at ending months of protests against the government and monarchy that had only inflamed anger and brought tens of thousands of people onto Bangkok streets.

A government statement published in the official Royal Gazette said that as of 12 noon (1pm Singapore time), it would mean an end to measures that include bans on political gatherings of five or more people and publishing news that could affect security.

“The current violent situation that led to the announcement of the severe situation has eased and ended to a situation in which government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws,” the statement said.

The only specific incident given for the ban was one in which protesters jeered at Queen Suthida’s convoy, but it came after protests that are the biggest challenge in years to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Protesters who have given Prayuth a three-day deadline to quit said that withdrawing the measures was not enough.

“He’s still seeking to stay in power while ignoring all the people’s demands. The emergency decree shouldn’t have been issued in the first place,” said Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat, one of the leaders.

Dozens of protesters — including many of the most high-profile protest leaders — were arrested during the crackdown.

Among them was Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon, who was released on Oct 22 after being arrested a day earlier. Patsaravalee told reporters after being freed that the court had deemed the charges were not serious and that she still needed to attend classes and exams, so bail was granted without having to submit any guarantees.

Protesters say Prayuth rigged an election last year to keep hold of power he seized in a 2014 coup. He says the election was fair. Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling years of military domination and want to curb the king’s powers.

The palace has a policy of making no comment to the media. — Reuters

Former fund manager Sun charged for acts likely to defraud investors

Former fund manager Sun Weiyeh was charged in court on Oct 22 under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) for acts that were likely to defraud investors.

Sun was a director of One Asia Investment Partners (OAIP) from October 2014 to January 2017. OAIP’s licence was revoked by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in April 2017.

He faces two charges under section 201(b) of the SFA for engaging in acts that were likely to defraud investors of a fund managed by OAIP.

Sun is accused of selling two bonds at lower than market prices from the fund to another OAIP fund when he knew that there were offers at higher prices for the bonds.

Sun, as part of running OAIP, was managing a fund called Arion Asia Credit Fund – High Yield Basis Fund. According to the charge sheet, back in Jan 19, 2016, Sun sold US$2.5 million worth of bonds, known as MIEHOL 180206 Mie Holdings Corp 2013/2018, at US$25.375 to Pareto Securities.

According to the charge sheet, Sun did so even though he was aware that there was an offer of US$33 for the same block of bonds. Then, he bought back the same block of bonds through Pareto, at US$25.50, and put those bonds back into another fund also managed by OAIP: Arion Asia Credit Fund — Investment Grade Bond Fund II.

In a second charge, Sun on Jan 19, 2016 allegedly repeated the same actions but on a different block of bonds. From the Arion Asia Credit Fund — High Yield Basis Fund, he sold US$1.5 million worth of MIEHOL 190425 Mie Holdings Corp 2014/2019 at US$21.875 to Pareto, even though he knew there was an offer at US$32. He then bought back the same block via Arion Asia Credit Fund — Investment Grade Bond Fund II at a price of US$22.

The investigation was jointly conducted by MAS and the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force.

If convicted, for each charge of section 201(b) of the SFA, he faces a fine of up to $250,000 or an imprisonment for a term of up to seven years, or both.

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