What's Next: December 23, 2017

Rethinking holiday on Akihito's birthday

Emperor Akihito celebrates his 84th birthday today, as the Japanese government mulls over whether to turn his birthday, which is a public holiday, into a working day after his abdication. The birthdays of past emperors were made national holidays, but officials fear that making Dec 23 a holiday could be seen as suggesting dual authority, as Emperor Akihito is to be given the title of "retired emperor" after his son ascends the throne, Jiji Press reported.

Ceasefire with Philippine rebels

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a 10-day unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels starting tomorrow to allow Filipinos to celebrate a "stress-free"Christmas season, after peace talks with the insurgents were formally scrapped last month. The rebel forces, estimated to number around 3,000, have been waging a protracted guerilla war in the countryside for nearly 50 years in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.

Back-to-school vouchers from Muis

Haji Abdul Razak Maricar, chief executive of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), will be presenting back-to-school vouchers to 50 primary and secondary school students today. Muis has disbursed $2.3 million this year as part of its annual year-end grant to help alleviate expenses incurred by low-income families.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2017, with the headline 'What's Next'. Print Edition | Subscribe