Good morning! Morning Minutes is a round-up of stories that will break on Monday, March 14, and which we think you'd be interested in.
It appears on weekdays, available by 7am.
Parliament to sit today
Proposed changes to rules governing the sale of tobacco products will come up for debate when Parliament sits today.
The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Bill will require stores to keep tobacco products, such as cigarettes, out of sight, and hand them over to customers only on request.
The House will also debate changes to the Mental Capacity Act, that will better protect people who lose the mental ability to make key decisions on their personal welfare and financial matters.
MPs have also filed 45 questions, including two about the mental health of school students.
Also up for discussion is the next-generation Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, due to be rolled out in 2020. It will rely on satellite navigation to track vehicles and have the ability to charge according to the distance travelled. - RACHEL AU-YONG
Whale exhibit to open today
Singapore’s very own whale exhibit is being launched at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum today.
The carcass of the 10.6m sperm whale was discovered floating off Jurong Island on July 10 last year – the first time that the marine mammal has been spotted in Singapore waters. It was named Jubi Lee by museum staff since it had been found during the nation’s Golden Jubilee year.
The staff worked around the clock for months to preserve the skeleton. - AUDREY TAN
Indirect talks on Syria to start
A new round of indirect peace talks beginning today will see Syria’s government and opposition engage for the first time in concrete discussions on the future of the war-torn country. The negotiations at the United Nations in Geneva are part of the biggest international effort to date to end Syria’s conflict, which has killed more than 270,000 people. Analysts say much has changed since the last round collapsed in February, but that the huge government-opposition divide will complicate a settlement. The central obstacles are the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, presidential elections and the type of new government.
BOJ board may discuss rate exemption
The Bank of Japan's policy board will hold a two-day meeting starting today. Media reports say that the BOJ will discuss whether to exempt US$90 billion (S$123 billion) in short-term funds from its newly imposed negative interest rate. The Japanese securities industry has warned that negative rates will cause investment money to be driven into bank deposits instead, defeating the aim of encouraging investments to kick-start growth and defeat deflation.