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24
June

photo : reuters

President Vladimir Putin review a spectacular Red Square military parade on Wednesday on the eve of a nationwide vote that could extend his rule until 2036, a patriotic display critics say is designed to lift his lower than usual ratings. The parade, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's World War Two victory over the Nazis, was postponed from May 9 because of the novel coronavirus outbreak and critics say it is irresponsible to go ahead with it now. The Kremlin has dismissed that however, saying new daily infections, though still in the thousands, are on the wane, especially in the Russian capital, the original epicentre of the outbreak, and that all safety precautions will be taken. Opening a military cathedral on Monday, Putin said the Soviet wartime victory remained a touchstone for modern Russia, calling it a sacred memory. 

"It's always with us and gives us strength, strength to serve our country and moral messages which we do not have the right to resile from and will never do so," said Putin.

The results of a survey released by state pollster VTsIOM on Tuesday showed that 95% of Russians regarded the 1945 Soviet victory as the most important event of the 20th century for Russia. The vote from June 25 until July 1 on constitutional changes, including an amendment that would allow Putin two more six-year terms as president if re-elected. Current constitutional limits bar him from seeking re-election when his mandate ends in 2024. Experts from state pollster VTsIOM have forecast that 67-71% of voters will endorse the changes. Kremlin critics say the vote is a sham they fear will be falsified. Putin's approval rating is 59%, according to Levada, an independent pollster whose research the Kremlin has said it is not inclined to trust. Though high by most countries' standards, it is at its lowest since 1999.

Polls show people's willingness to protest has risen as lower oil prices and a prolonged lockdown have battered the economy, unemployment has risen, and a Kremlin plan to reverse years of falling real wages has been knocked off course. More than 14,000 troops, over 200 armoured vehicles and 75 aircraft will take part in Wednesday's parade, as well as representatives from 13 other countries. Sergei Aleksashenko, an economist who has been critical of Putin, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Tuesday that the Russian leader was determined to hold the parade despite the pandemic.

"Vladimir Putin believes that the parade is a reaffirmation of his greatness, the greatness of the country and of our historical memory," said Aleksashenko//Reuters

24
June

 photo : Jakartapost

China and India have agreed to reduce tensions a week after clashes on their disputed Himalayan border left 20 Indian troops dead in brutal hand-to-hand fighting. The June 15 battle, reportedly fought with fists, clubs and rocks, was the first time troops have been killed on their border since 1975 and marked a major deterioration in ties between the two Asian giants. Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian said that after talks between the top regional military commanders on Monday (22/6), both sides agreed to take necessary measures to promote a cooling of the situation. The Press Trust of India reported that the meeting was between Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of the 14 Corps, and Major General Liu Lin, commander of the Tibet Military District. Zhao told a regular news conference, the holding of this meeting shows that both sides want to deal with their disagreement, manage the situation and de-escalate the situation through dialogue and consultations//JP

24
June

photo : reuters

 

 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday (Jun 23) he has called General Election 2020 to "clear the decks" for a fresh mandate for the Government. In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Lee said he has advised President Halimah Yacob to dissolve Parliament and issue the Writ of Election. An election now will give the new Government a fresh five-year mandate to focus on the national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make, the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister's Office said Madam Halimah has dissolved Parliament, and that Nomination Day will be on Jun 30. Polling Day will be on Jul 10, a Friday, the Elections Department said, adding that Polling Day in any General Election is a public holiday. Before deciding to proceed with the election, PM Lee said he had to be certain of two things – that voters can vote safely, and political parties can campaign effectively.

"On voters safety the election department will be implementing additional precautions on polling day. We’ve setting up more polling stations then the previous election to reduce crowding. There’ll be safe distancing major practice at the polling stations. Voters will be allocated specific time slot to vote and seniors will be given priority to vote before others. On effective campaigning the election department has also make an arrangement and issues guide lines. Candidates can still go house to house campaigning in person provided the observed the safe distancing precautions. Unfortunately physical election rallies will not be possible but we will make up with more opportunities for candidates to speak directly to voters on television and off course online for example via live streaming" Prim Minister said. 

During the election period, the Government will continue to govern, said Mr Lee, adding that the Cabinet remains in charge even after Parliament is dissolved and the public service will continue to function, as in every General Election. The ministerial task force leading Singapore’s response to COVID-19 will also continue its work, and businesses, workers and families will receive help and support.

"During the election period, the Government will continue to govern. The Cabinet remain in charge even after Parliament is dissolved, and the public service will continue to function normally. This is saw in every general election but I particularly emphasize this now because of the vital importance of ongoing operations against covid-19, sustaining the economy and protecting jobs. Therefore over the next view weeks you can expect the ministerial task force still to lead our response to covid-19" He explain. 

PM Lee added that this General Election will be like no other that Singaporeans have experienced – not only because of the special arrangements to deal with COVID-19 but the gravity of the situation and the issues at stake. The government that will be elect will have critical decisions to make. These decisions will impact the lives and livelihoods, and shape Singapore for many years to come, far beyond the five-year term of the next government//NK

23
June

photo : bbc

 

 

Saudi Arabia has banned international visitors from making the Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj, this year in a bid to control coronavirus. As quoted by BBC.com (22/6) an announcement on state media said only a very limited number of people currently living in the kingdom may take part. An estimated two million people would otherwise have visited Mecca and Medina this summer for the annual gathering. There had been fears the Hajj might be cancelled altogether. In normal times the pilgrimage is one of the most significant moments in the Muslim religious calendar. But only citizens from countries around the world who are already resident in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to attend this year//BBC