Top stories from The Straits Times on Tuesday, Jan 1

Good morning! Here are our top stories to kick-start your Tuesday, Jan 1.

Singapore ushers in 2019 with spectacular fireworks show at Marina Bay

The show at the float culminated in an hour-long fireworks musical involving pyrotechnics, lights, and performance acts by Taiko drummers, dancers and fire performers.

The Marina Bay celebrations was one of a number of countdown parties islandwide. Other celebrations include a movie marathon at Our Tampines Hub while revellers at Heartbeat @ Bedok set a new Singapore record for "largest silent disco".


Lease Buyback Scheme extended to all HDB flats, including 5-room and larger units

Part-time security guard Tang Lum Sui, 68, a widower who lives alone in his Jalan Bahagia five-room flat, had petitioned his MP several times to have the scheme extended to home owners like him. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Seniors living in five-room and larger flats will be able to sell part of their leases back to the Housing Board from Tuesday (Jan 1). This allows them to monetise their homes, while continuing to live there.


President Halimah calls for unity amid volatility in 2019

President Halimah Yacob said in her New Year Message that "as we enter 2019, the uncertainties and volatility we have to deal with have intensified". PHOTO: FACEBOOK/HALIMAH YACOB

In her video posted on Facebook, President Halimah Yacob also thanked Singaporeans for their generosity in contributing to the President's Challenge and for their support of worthy causes.


PM Lee Hsien Loong’s New Year message: Eventful year for Singapore abroad and at home

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says the Government is focused on people’s concerns, and working with citizens to create a better tomorrow for all. He adds that despite the uncertain external environment and economic outlook, Singapore is entering its Bicentennial Year with renewed vigour and purpose. PHOTO: ST FILE

2018 was a productive year for Singapore. Our economy grew steadily at 3.3 per cent - close to 2017, and above our expectations. We expect to make 1.5-3.5 per cent growth in 2019, but there are major uncertainties in the global economy, with growing trade conflicts, nervous financial markets and signs of slowing growth.


Time for new beginnings amid uncertainty

Beijing's plan to remove tariffs on alternative raw materials that can be used to make animal feed starts today. It has resumed some purchases of soya beans, such as those from this farm in the United States, after imposing tariffs of 25 per cent amid its trade spat with Washington. PHOTO: REUTERS

After the upheavals and shocks of 2018, the New Year is set to usher in change and hopes of improvement on many fronts.


China's Xi Jinping, in New Year's address, says pace of reform won't 'stagnate'

China's President Xi Jinping gives a speech during a celebration meeting marking the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec 18, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

China's pace of reforms will not "stagnate" and its door will open wider and wider, President Xi Jinping said in his New Year message, as he also warned of challenges ahead.


Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock retiring from medicine after 50 years

Dr Tan Cheng Bock said in a Facebook post that he looks forward to serving Singapore "in a new way". PHOTO: ST FILE

"I always say that medicine is my love, but politics is my calling," said Dr Tan Cheng Bock in a Facebook post on Monday, adding that he looks forward to serving Singapore "in a new way".


Elizabeth Warren announces she is running for president

US Senator Elizabeth Warren said that she's launching an exploratory committee for a presidential run, which would give her a potential early edge in fundraising and organisation. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Massachusetts progressive said in a New Year's Eve e-mail and video message to supporters that she was launching an exploratory committee for a presidential run, which would give her a potential early edge in fundraising and organisation.


356 passengers on delayed Scoot flight from Taipei to Singapore to return 2 days later than expected

Passengers of the delayed Scoot flight at Taipei Taoyuan Airport on Dec 31, 2018. PHOTO: W.L. XIE

Flight TR899 was supposed to depart on Sunday (Dec 30) at 4.10pm. However, due to an electrical component defect, the flight had to be grounded while replacement parts were flown in from Singapore, said a Scoot spokesman.


Turn a new page with these 10 book-to-screen adaptations in 2019

Good Omens stars David Tennant, Michael Sheen and Jon Hamm and is expected to appear on our screens in early 2019. PHOTO: CHRIS RAPHAEL/AMAZON STUDIOS

Love them or hate them, book-to-screen adaptations fill 2019's calendar, whether in cinemas or on the small screen.