10 must-reads for today

An injured koala being treated for burns at a makeshift field hospital in Australia's Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Tuesday.
An injured koala being treated for burns at a makeshift field hospital in Australia's Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

1 Fires kill a billion animals

Australia's bush fires have killed more than a billion animals, raising questions about whether the nation's natural environment can fully recover. Experts have warned that some species may have become extinct and that vast swathes of bushland could be transformed into entirely new ecosystems if such events keep happening. 

2 Taiwan is independent: Tsai

President Tsai Ing-wen yesterday called on China to reconsider its current policy on Taiwan, saying that the island is already an independent country. In an interview, Ms Tsai said the island called itself the Republic of China, Taiwan. China's Taiwan Affairs Office said Taiwan's future should be decided by "all the people of China". 

3 More choosing poly route

The proportion of school leavers choosing the polytechnic route has risen to slightly more than half, from 45.7 per cent 10 years ago. For students choosing to enrol in junior college and Millennia Institute, the figure has only inched up from 27.6 per cent in 2009, to 29 per cent last year. 

4 By-election test for PH

Malaysia's Pakatan Harapan (PH) government faces another litmus test at the ballot box on Saturday, as its ally Parti Warisan Sabah takes on former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional in a by-election in Kimanis marked by issues of immigration and economic development. 

5 Keeping taxi firms viable

The taxi population has dwindled in the face of competition from ride-hailing firms. Taxi firms need to get together to ensure taxis remain viable - for the public good, says senior transport correspondent Christopher Tan. 

6 Piracy up in S'pore Strait

The number of robbery incidents against ships in the Singapore Strait rose sharply from seven in 2018 to 31 last year. The number of armed robbery and piracy cases in Asia last year also increased. There were 82 reported incidents last year, compared with 76 in 2018, which was the lowest since 2007. 

7 Benefits of integration

The developing economies of South-east Asia and the Middle East are respectively underperforming by about 2 and 4 percentage points of growth each year, said Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. But these countries can still reap "very significant" benefits from integrating with the world, despite the global economic slowdown, he added. 

8 Foreign funds return to KL

Foreign funds are flowing back into Malaysia after fleeing in 2018, when an unprecedented change of government panicked investors. Analysts are heralding it as a positive sign of market reforms under the Pakatan Harapan administration. 

9 13 locals in S'pore Open

No local has won the Singapore Open since the inaugural edition in 1961, but 13 Singaporeans - the most since the competition moved to the Sentosa Golf Club in 2005 - will try to claim their home championship this week. The event, which begins today, is headlined by Olympic champion Justin Rose. 


10 Actor with a difference

Muhammad Nur Arif Muzani (above) is an intellectually disabled actor who appears in the short film Layang Layang Terbang Melayang (The Kite Soars High). He plays a young man whose main caregiver, his mother, has died. Caregiver-sibling support, as shown in the work, is the focus of the Minds Film Festival this year.


Wuhan’s nonchalance towards outbreak

Many residents in Wuhan are unconcerned even as its seafood wholesale market, the site of the pneumonia outbreak, remains shuttered while the Chinese authorities continue their probe. str.sg/blurb161


Antarctica up close

To see Antarctica up close is to be spellbound by its raw beauty and captivated by its amazing wildlife, as about 200 Singaporeans on board an Antarctica Expedition Cruise found out. str.sg/blurb162

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline '10 must-reads for today'. Subscribe