Asian Insider, June 23: Singapore goes to polls, Mahathir to pull out of Pakatan Plus, China & India agree to reduce tensions

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

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In today's bulletin: Singapore elections, Mahathir threatens to quit Pakatan Plus, India & China agree to cool tensions, US-China ties on trade and media curbs, Trump extends immigration curbs, Japan's new supercomputer, and more.

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Singapore will go to polls on July 10 to elect a new government. The widely anticipated announcement came today when President Halimah Yacob dissolved Singapore's 13th Parliament and issued the Writ of Election.

The Nomination Day will be on June 30, with the minimum of nine days to campaign before Cooling-off Day on July 9.

The election is likely to again see the People's Action Party (PAP) challenged for all seats and a total of 93 elected seats are at stake - in 17 group representation constituencies and 14 single-member constituencies, writes Deputy Political Editor Royston Sim.

This coming election will see Mr Lee lead the PAP into battle for the fourth, and what looks set to be the final, time as prime minister, he says.

Read also:

The hot seats to watch this election

Don't miss:

The Big Story: S'poreans will go to the polls on July 10; how will PAP, WP fare in GE2020?

Catch the latest here:

GE2020: Singapore votes


Another chapter unfolded in Malaysia's ongoing political turmoil with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad saying in an interview that he will quit the opposition alliance Pakatan Plus, that comprises the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and other MPs aligned to PH.

He made the remark after the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) - a key party under the PH coalition led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim - rejected a combination of him and Datuk Seri Anwar for prime minister, should they get a chance to form the government

Tun Dr Mahathir told Sin Chew Daily that he would not contact PKR for talks on future cooperation.

Read also:

Malaysia's PKR says it will support only Anwar as its PM candidate, not Mahathir

Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh: With opposition split over Mahathir or Anwar for PM, Muhyiddin could be safe


China and India agreed to lower tensions a week after the worst clash in the border area since 1975, that left 20 Indian troops dead.

The announcement was made by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian who said that the agreement was reached to cool tensions after talks between the top regional military commanders on Monday.

There was no official comment from New Delhi. But an Indian army source was quoted as saying in a report that after the meeting, that lasted almost 11 hours, there was a "mutual consensus to disengage".

The announcement was made before virtual talks being held between the foreign ministers of India, China and Russia today.

Read also:

India Bureau Chief Nirmala Ganapathy: India changes rules of engagement with China in border area


US President Donald Trump reiterated that the US-China trade deal is fully intact, moments after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was quoted as saying that the deal was "over", in a statement that rattled markets.

Mr Navarro said his remarks, made during an interview with Fox News, had been taken out of context.

Asian shares rebounded after the assurance from President Trump. MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan rose 0.6 per cent to 516.6 points after earlier going as low as 509.9. Chinese shares regained lost ground too, with the blue-chip index last up 0.3 per cent.

In another development, Washington reclassified four Chinese state media organisations as foreign missions rather than media outlets, making it important for them to report details of their US-based staff and real estate transactions to the State Department. China has threatened to launch an appropriate response.


Faced with a battered economy and growing unemployment US President Donald Trump moved to temporarily block entry of foreign workers till the end of the year.

Many of these visas go to immigrants from Asia. The H-1B visa, for instance, given to "high-skilled" workers in the technology industry goes to Indians and Chinese citizens. In 2019, of the 188,123 H-1B visas issued, some 131,549 were for Indian citizens, followed by 28,483 for mainland Chinese citizens.

The President's proclamation is expected to open up 525,000 jobs for US workers.

Also read:

Who is affected by Trump's new rules on work visas?


The European Union asked China to open up its economy and warned of "very negative consequences" if Beijing proceeds with the new Hong Kong national security law, during their first video summit yesterday. The meeting ended without a joint statement.

European Council President Charles Michel said China was not reciprocating the welcome that Chinese companies receive in Europe while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the relationship as "strategically important and one of the most challenging that we have".

Chinese state media quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as expressing optimism about the relationship.


Japan's Fugaku supercomputer is now ranked as the world's fastest, beating the US Summit supercomputer that was ranked second. Fugaku, which means Mount Fuji in Japanese, took the top spot on the Top500, a site that has tracked the evolution of computer processing power for more than two decades.

Read more:

America's US$500m supercomputer project


CHINA LAUNCHES FINAL SATELLITE OF BEIDOU NAVIGATION NETWORK: China successfully put into orbit the final satellite of its Beidou navigation network, as estimated US$10 billion (S$13.95 billion) project meant to be Beijing's answer to the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).

CARRIE LAM WILL NOT SELECT JUDGES FOR NATIONAL SECURITY CASES: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said today she will not hand pick judges to preside over cases brought under the city's new security law, an apparent attempt to assuage concerns about the controversial legislation. Lam said that, as chief executive, she would instead appoint a panel of judges for all courts based on recommendations from a judicial body.

APPLE TO REDESIGN IPHONE HOME SCREEN: Apple Inc will make the most drastic changes to the iPhone home screen since the product's release in 2007 as part of a software update expected later this year. The new home screen will allow users to place widgets that sit between the typical grid of apps, Apple said Monday, at a virtual conference for developers.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DECLINE FOR GLOBAL ADVERTISING: The global advertising industry is expected to decline nearly 12 per cent this year, a report from ad agency GroupM said. While most of the decline will be in television and out-of-home advertising, such as billboards, the company said digital advertising will decline 2.3 per cent this year and will account for 52 per cent of the advertising market, up from 48 per cent last year. A global ad market recovery is expected to begin next year with 8.2 per cent growth, GroupM projected.

That's it for today. Have a good week ahead, stay safe and we'll be back with you tomorrow.


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