10 must-reads for today

Residents salvaging their belongings from the rubble of a damaged house in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal, India, yesterday.
Residents salvaging their belongings from the rubble of a damaged house in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal, India, yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

1 $188m aid for W. Bengal

India will give 10 billion rupees (S$188 million) in emergency aid to West Bengal state, which has been hit hard by Cyclone Amphan. It has killed at least 96 people in India and Bangladesh, with most of the victims in West Bengal. The emergency aid to help the state comes at a time when it and the rest of India are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. 

2 Right time to tap reserves 

Singapore must draw on its past reserves only in exceptional circumstances - when its very existence is at stake - and now the country must do so to take care of its people, said President Halimah Yacob. She said the Covid-19 outbreak fits this definition, and she has already given her assent for about $21 billion to be drawn from the reserves. 

3 Joint effort to boost testing 

Major players in Singapore's biotechnology industry are coming together to ensure that the nation is self-sufficient as it ramps up testing efforts amid the easing of circuit breaker measures. The scaling up of testing capabilities is vital for the country as it looks towards easing restrictions from June 2. 

4 Manila's unusual measures

The Philippines is taking some unusual precautions as it starts to ease Covid-19 restrictions. For example, bus and jeepney drivers are compiling a "passenger manifest", malls are issuing time cards to shoppers and churches are collecting the names and contact numbers of those attending mass. 

5 Aussie foreign policy woes

The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a major foreign policy crisis in Australia. On the one hand, it has highlighted the fragility of the country's ally, the United States. On the other, it has offered a frightening portent of the costs and risks of Australia's economic dependence on China, says Professor Hugh White. 

6 COE bidding freeze to stay

Certificate of entitlement (COE) bidding will continue to be suspended until motor dealerships and showrooms are allowed to reopen. But consumers can continue to buy vehicles online and dealers may continue to use their existing stock of unused COEs to register vehicles. 

7 Simplified track divorces up

More couples are splitting up via the simplified track system, with almost six out of every 10 divorce cases last year filed in the family court this way. The 58 per cent of divorces filed through the simplified track last year is an increase from the 37 per cent in 2016. In these cases, all matters, such as those relating to children, maintenance and the divorce itself, are uncontested. 

8 Life insurance sales up 10%

Singapore's life insurance industry saw new business, in terms of total weighted premiums, grow 10 per cent from January to March, reaching $965.8 million from $877.8 million a year ago. This comes as more consumers took action to secure their financial futures in view of Covid-19's drastic impact on markets. 

9 Sports bodies tough it out

Many national sports associations say they are committed to keeping their full-time staff and pledged not to reduce pay, even as they seek to cut costs in other areas. And although they still receive government funding, their revenue has fallen, with the shutdown in Singapore sports amid the coronavirus crisis approaching two months. 

10 Rare BMW car

The BMW 3-series has been around for 45 years, with seven generations chalking up more than a third of the brand's total sales. Strategic project consultant Fong Kwok Shiung owns a rare one - a 1982 two-door, 2-litre, six-cylinder manual 320. He says the 1982 BMW 320 (below) is one of a few first-generation 3-series cars still found here. 



Gradual reopening

Singapore's circuit breaker period ends on June 1, with three gradual phases planned in the reopening. Here are details of what you can and cannot do from June 2. str.sg/blurb385


Indonesians pack shops, malls ahead of Hari Raya

With Hari Raya Aidilfitri approaching, Indonesia has been facing an uphill task in ensuring that people comply with social distancing measures. Some have said it is God's wish if they contract the coronavirus. str.sg/blurb386

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline '10 must-reads for today'. Print Edition | Subscribe