Top stories from The Straits Times on Thursday, May 31

Good morning! Here are our top stories to kickstart your Thursday, May 31.

Domestic priorities behind Malaysia's move to drop Pedra Branca challenge: Analysts

Malaysia could have concluded it may not be beneficial to revisit the old issue of Pedra Branca, said Dr Norshahril Saat. Dropping the case is "a way for Malaysia to signal to Singapore that it is mainly interested in tackling domestic economic issues, and not creating tensions via foreign policy", he added. ST FILE PHOTO


Two other factors could also have influenced the new government's decision: the move to scrap the KL-S'pore high-speed rail and that it has a weak case with Pedra Branca. 


PM Lee: Cabinet changes among my most difficult responsibilities as PM

(From left) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with retired ministers former Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, former Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim and former Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR


Political renewal and Cabinet reshuffles involve striking a fine balance, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at an appreciation dinner for three ministers who retired last month. 


Top North Korean official seen in Sentosa for possible meeting with US officials

Mr Kim Chang Son, the de facto chief of staff of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, flew into Singapore on Monday night and is believed to be staying at The Fullerton Hotel. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO


Mr Kim Chang Son spent a few hours at the Capella Hotel on Wednesday, where he is believed to have been involved in high-level meetings ahead of the June 12 Trump-Kim summit.


Malaysia to continue with JB-S'pore RTS link but looking at ways to reduce costs: Transport Minister

Artist's impression of the Woodlands North Station along the Rapid Transit System link. PHOTO: LTA


Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Malaysia is committed to continue with the 4km cross-border MRT line that will connect Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru to Woodlands North. 


India PM Narendra Modi in Singapore for 3-day official visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Hyderabad House in New Delhi during a bilateral meeting on Jan 25, 2018. Mr Modi will begin a three-day official visit to Singapore on May 31, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE


Mr Modi will kick into high gear a new digital era in the growing ties between Singapore and India. He will also deliver the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue. 


NUS, NTU rise in world university rankings

The National University of Singapore climbed three places to the 24th position while Nanyang Technological University moved up to the 51-60 bracket. PHOTOS: ST FILE


NUS climbed three places to the 24th position in the latest Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, while NTU moved up from the 81-90 band to the 51-60 bracket. 


Underground substation to supply power to Labrador by 2025, as Singapore digs deeper

Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong attends the Underground: Singapore’s Next Frontier exhibition at The URA Centre, on May 30, 2018. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG


The substation, to be located at the former Pasir Panjang Power District, will form part of a nationwide push to use more subterranean space in Singapore.


Bad air days? The problem could well be domestic

Using data from computer simulation models and observations, Dr Lee Hsiang-He's study showed that about 40 per cent of bad air days in Singapore were caused by a combination of both domestic and foreign sources of air pollution. It suggested that a further 25 per cent of bad air days here were caused by local sources of air pollution, such as traffic, power generation and industry. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN


Forest fires in the region are often blamed for bad air days here, but new research has pointed to a different source of pollution - home.


Jail, cane for Police NSF who harboured alleged murderer and committed drug-related offences


Muhd Firdaus Abdullah was in the same secret society as four other men who were involved in an attack on two men near St James Power Station on March 12 last year.


'Murdered' Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turns up alive after faking own death

"I would like to apologise for what you have all had to go through," Babchenko, who looked on the verge of tears at times, told reporters. PHOTO: AFP


A critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the 41-year-old said he had been part of a special Ukrainian operation to thwart a Russian attempt on his life.