10 must-reads for today

Sri Lankan Prime Minister-elect Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the President's brother, greeting supporters at his home yesterday after the victory.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister-elect Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the President's brother, greeting supporters at his home yesterday after the victory.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

1 Brothers win big in polls

Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections handed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his older brother an overwhelming majority, results showed yesterday, giving the family the power to enact sweeping changes to the Constitution, a move analysts say could push the country towards authoritarianism.

2 Layoffs as last resort: SBF

Employers should retrench workers only as a last resort and ensure, even then, that the proportion of local staff in the company is not eroded, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) said in an advisory to its member companies yesterday.

3 HK to roll out free testing

Hong Kong wants to roll out a free voluntary testing programme for Covid-19 to all residents in two weeks, with the help of the central government. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said yesterday that the programme had to be safe, secure and carried out as soon as possible to detect silent transmissions quickly. 

4 Accused of soliciting bribe

Former Malaysian finance minister Lim Guan Eng was charged yesterday at the Special Corruption Court with soliciting a bribe over a controversial RM6.3 billion (S$2.1 billion) undersea tunnel project during his tenure as Penang chief minister. He pleaded not guilty. He had been arrested on Thursday night. 

5 Go green, yet grow economy

Environmental problems can be viewed through economic lenses, as they involve scarcity of resources and competition. Applying economic tools yields some insights into how market mechanisms and green accounting can be used to help save the planet, says Professor Euston Quah.

6 National Day spirit online

The pandemic has not dampened online activity around this year's National Day, with related tweets increasing 2½ times compared with the same period last year. The Straits Times worked with research firm Quilt.AI to analyse more than 6,000 tweets over the same two-week period before National Day this year and last.

7 More charitable funds set up

More wealthy people are setting up charitable funds that give at least six-figure sums to their chosen causes. There were 143 donor-advised funds set up with the Community Foundation of Singapore, disbursing $20.2 million to charitable causes in the foundation's financial year that ended in March. 

8 OCBC's Q2 profit down 40%

OCBC Bank's net profit for the three months to June 30 fell to $730 million, 40 per cent lower than the $1.2 billion a year ago, after it set aside "significantly higher allowances against expected credit losses" amid a worsening economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. It missed the $930 million average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

9 How to train amid pandemic

Covid-19 has created unique challenges for coaches like Stephan Widmer, the national swimming head coach and performance director. To help swimmers stay sharp during the circuit breaker, when they were unable to train in the pool, Widmer and his colleagues had to think of innovative training exercises.

10 Defender back in a big way

Despite its industrial, rustic and impossibly boxy styling, the Land Rover Defender (below) has die-hard fans all over the world. After about seven decades and more than two million units built, Land Rover stopped producing the original model five years ago. Now, the new-generation Defender is here, and it is massive. 


Tech success

Entrepreneur Forrest Li, who transformed his Internet start-up in a Maxwell Road shophouse into a technology giant now listed on the New York Stock Exchange, talks about his improbable journey. 


Seniors' activities go virtual

Many social sessions at senior activity centres have been put on hold, but the centres are using digital means to engage seniors and to help them be more tech-savvy so they can connect with others. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2020, with the headline '10 must-reads for today'. Print Edition | Subscribe