Compiled by Eric Wong

Singapore to hold general election on September 11

Singaporeans will go to the ballot box on September 11 to elect 89 Members of Parliament in 29 constituencies. Polling Day was announced after President Tony Tan Keng Yam, on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, dissolved Singapore’s 12th Parliament on August 25. Acting on the Prime Minister’s advice, the President also issued a Writ of Election. The Writ specifies that Nomination Day is on September 1.

China NewsAsia reports, the recently-issued report of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee carved up Singapore’s political landscape into a total of 89 seats in 29 constituencies – comprising 13 Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) and 16 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). This is up from the 87 seats in 27 constituencies in the previous Parliament.

So far, a total of ten parties is believed will be running in the election. Among the nine Opposition parties, the Workers’ Party (WP) is expected to field the largest slate.

The candidate’s campaign can only be held after the Nomination Day and the Election Day will be held after the nine days of campaigning and one “Cooling-off Day".

The People’s Action Party, which has ruled for more than 50 years, is facing a mix of serious challenges. Behind Singapore’s booming economy, there are several underlying social problems such as increasing contradictions and widening gap between the rich and the poor and the faltering national identity of the citizens due to the rising of immigrants.

The PAP only won 60 percent of voters in the 2011 election, marking the lowest in history. It was the first time the PAP lost seats in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency since the electoral system of Group Representation Constituencies launched in 1988.

PAP Organising Secretary and Minister of Defence Dr. Ng Eng Hen said earlier that this will be Singapore’s first election in the post-Lee Kuan Yew generation. The election without Lee Kuan Yew will be a milestone for Singaporeans to make a significant choice for the country.

View of the Parliament House next to the central business district in Singapore

Photo Credit: Reuters

24 bodies discovered on Malaysia-Thailand border

New mass graves with 24 bodies thought to be those of migrants have been found in Malaysia, police say. The graves were found in the state near the Thai border not far from 139 grave sites unearthed in May. Authorities believe they may belong to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

Malaysian Police believes the graves were part of the original graves discovered earlier. The authorities exhumed 24 more skeletal remains at Bukit Wang Burma, located not far from the graves that we found last May.

The bodies retrieved from the new graves were sent to Hospital for postmortem.

The bodies found in early May are believed to be migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar trying to steal into the borders.

A Malaysian policeman leaves the site of the place where human remains were found, near an abandoned human trafficking camp, in the jungle close to the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia

Photo Credit: Reuters

Govt to waive free-visa travel for 30 countries including Taiwan

In a bid to boost tourism, the Indonesian government will continue to offer free visa for citizens from 30 countries visiting Indonesia, including Taiwan.

Currently, free-visa travel requirements have been waived for 15 countries. More will come in the future,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Arief Yahya said, and revealed that Malaysia had waived the visa requirements for more than 160 countries, and Thailand had offered free-visa travel for 56 countries.

Arief added that Taiwan and China were among countries with huge market potential for Indonesian Tourism. According to UNWTO statistics, 201,225 people visited Indonesian in 2014, which is an increase of 17.95 percent compared to 2013.

The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism planned a goal of attracting 250,000 Taiwanese tourists this year. Apart from Bali island already being a famous tourist resort, the island of Batam, Lombok, Yogyakarta all welcome Taiwanese tourists.

CNA reports, an Indonesian official of the Ministry of Tourism reveals, authorities have currently planned to put Taiwan on the visa-free list for next year and the negotiation is going smoothly between the two countries. The final list has not yet been checked by the President Joko Widodo.

Authorities announced in early June that 30 free-visa nations and regions will be added, including China, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, America and other countries. According to the regulations, visitors that hold a visa-free stamp can not stay over 30 days, extend the duration of the stay or transfer to other visa statuses.

A tourist holds a surfboard as he walks in Kuta beach on the resort island of Bali

Photo Credit: Reuters

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang