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Virus rules cause voting delays in Singapore elections

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Virus rules cause voting delays in Singapore elections

Officials in Singapore apologised for long queues outside polling stations on Friday, where voting was slowed down by hygiene and distancing rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.


“We are sorry for the wait and inconvenience to voters,” the Elections Department Singapore said.

With voting compulsory, 80 per cent of the 2.65 million-strong electorate had cast their ballots by 5 pm (0900 GMT), the ELD said.

Voters are having their temperatures taken before entering booths to choose from 192 candidates representing 11 political parties chasing 93 seats.

The ELD announced on Friday afternoon that voters no longer need to pull on disposable gloves before marking ballot papers after the requirement caused delays during the early hours of voting.

With people over 60 deemed most at risk from serious illness if infected by the coronavirus, older voters were requested by officials to cast their ballots before noon, with younger voters expected to wait until later in the day.

Voting began at 8 am on Friday after a short campaign in which public rallies were not allowed due to the virus.

Voting closes at 8 pm, with results expected from around three hours later.

The outcome is expected to be business as usual: the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) took 83 seats in the 2015 elections and has won at least 60 per cent of the popular vote in every contest held since Singaporean independence in 1965.

The small chance of success has left opposition parties to appeal to voters not to issue a “blank cheque” to PAP.

PAP is led by Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister since 2004 and son of Lee Kuan Yew, an autocrat who steered the tiny city-state toward prosperity and was one of Asia’s best-known politicians during the late 20th century.

But in late June, the prime minister’s brother Lee Hsien Yang shook up what would ordinarily be a staid campaign by backing the new Progress Singapore Party (PSP) – after a sibling squabble over the late Lee’s estate.

PAP candidates have repeatedly raised the need for a “strong” government to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, as thousands lined up to vote, the Ministry of Health confirmed 191 new cases, taking the total to 45,614. Singapore’s gross domestic product could contract by up to 7 per cent in 2020, according to official projections.

“Our economy has been badly hit, though the full economic impact of the outbreak is still ahead of us,” the prime minister said in a final pre-vote statement.

Lee called on Singaporeans to “not just to return the PAP to government. But also to give it a strong mandate.”

Sylvia Lim, chair of the Workers’ Party, which won six seats in 2015, said that “robust democracies where changes of the party in power at election time are considered normal” also dealt successfully with the pandemic, citing countries such as New Zealand and South Korea.

PSP leader Tan Cheng Bock called for a legislature that “that reflects all views, and not just the PAP view or the group-think of a single political party.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

Emmanuel Yashim: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Economy

Dollar slips after political wrangling slows rally

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A dollar rebound faltered on Tuesday as political wrangling over a United States relief plan and the gloomy outlook weighed on the currency.


After its worst month in a decade in July, the greenback started August on a firm note as some investors trimmed their short positions.

That only carried it so far, and the dollar edged down 0.2 per cent on Tuesday against a basket of currencies.

The euro – which gained five per cent at the dollar’s expense in July – inched up on the day, last up 0.2 per cent at $1.17875.

“I think the eurozone recovery will be a lot faster than the United States recovery and that growth differential will continue to drive higher,’’ Marshall Gittler, FX analyst at BDSwiss, said in a note.

The Aussie dollar edged ahead nearly 0.3 per cent after the central bank delivered no surprises by holding policy steady.

Australia’s central bank predicted the economic recovery will be uneven as the country’s second biggest state Victoria locks down to fight a resurgence of the virus.

Despite a slowdown in new United States virus cases and encouraging factory data, investors are reserving judgment on whether a United States economy with 30 million people out of work can really lead the world’s recovery.

Talks on a potential further economic relief package are ongoing, though top Democrats in the United States Congress and White House negotiators on Monday said they had made progress.

“We’re still in a situation where the market wants to believe the recovery is on track but is still worried about the COVID situation,’’ said Bank of Singapore FX analyst, Moh Siong Sim.

“The fiscal wrangling in the United States is the next key test for risk sentiment and if they manage to get a deal – which seems likely – that could be supportive of risk sentiment.’’

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

Early voting in Belarusian presidential election begins

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Polling stations for casting ballots in the Belarusian presidential election have opened in most regions of the country for citizens unable to vote during the national election day on Aug. 9, according to a Sputnik correspondent.


Early voting will take place from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8.

Polling stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (from 07:00 to 11:00 GMT) and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The voting is taking place in the presence of at least two members of the precinct election commission at the commission’s office.

According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, more than 6.8 million citizens will be able to vote in the current presidential election, including 5,319 people currently residing abroad.

A total of 5,767 polling places have been set up for the vote, including 44 in Belarusian embassies and consulates in 36 foreign countries.

However, early voting is not being held in sanatoriums, preventoriums, hospitals, and other health organisations providing medical care in stationary conditions.

The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for Aug. 9.

Five people are registered as candidates, including the current head of state, Alexander Lukashenko.

The campaigning started on July 14 and will last until Aug. 8.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

BP posts second-quarter post-tax loss of $16.8bn

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Global energy giant BP on Tuesday reported a post-tax loss of 16.8 billion dollars in the second quarter amid lower oil prices and writedowns.


The loss compared to a post-tax profit of 1.8 billion dollars in the April to June period a year ago.

The company said that costs for writedowns of inventories and exploration charges weighed heavily on the results.

Second-quarter oil prices were down by over one half compared to a year ago in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and a oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia earlier this year.

“These headline results have been driven by another very challenging quarter, but also by the deliberate steps we have taken as we continue to reimagine energy and reinvent BP,” chief executive Bernard Looney said.

By the end of decade, Looney said BP would be investing around 5 billion dollars in low-carbon projects a year, and during the same period expected daily oil and gas production to drop by 40 per cent from 2019 levels.

The company said it would cut its dividend payout for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Shareholders were to receive 5.25 United States cents per share, compared with the previous quarter’s 10.5 United States cents per share.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

S/Korea’s heavy rain leaves 13 dead, 13 missing for 4 days

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Heavy rain South Korea, which lasted for four straight days, has left 13 people dead and 13 others missing as of Tuesday, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.


As of 10.30 a.m. local time, 13 people have been found dead and 13 others missing, with seven wounded because of the downpour that continued since Aug. 1 in the country’s central region, including Seoul and the metropolitan area.

A total of 1,025 people from 629 households were forced to evacuate their homes, including 555 residents in North Chungcheong province, 391 in Gyeonggi province surrounding Seoul, 70 in Gangwon province and nine in Seoul.

About 5,751 hectares of farmland were swamped or buried, while 2,958 cases of property damages were reported, including 1,483 private assets and 1,475 public facilities.

Houses, cattle shed, warehouses and agricultural plastic houses were flooded or engulfed by landslides, while roads, railways, bridges and water reservoirs were destroyed or damaged.

More than half of the damaged properties were restored, with over 25,000 police officers, firefighters, government officials and volunteers mobilised.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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