Workers' Party MP Low Thia Khiang discharged from hospital following fall at home

SINGAPORE – Aljunied GRC MP Low Thia Khiang was discharged from hospital on Thursday (May 21) after being treated for a fall at home last month, said the Workers’ Party (WP).

In a Facebook post on Friday (May 22), it said the former party secretary-general is currently on hospitalisation leave.

“He is recuperating at home and undergoing rehabilitation,” the party said.

Mr Low, 63, suffered a head injury after a fall at home on April 30, and warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

He was transferred to a general ward on May 4 after five days in ICU.

“Mr Low and his family wish to express their thanks to the staff of the ICU and Ward A82 of the Khoo Teck Puat General Hospital for their dedication and professionalism during his stay,” the party said.

In Mr Low’s absence from work, the other Aljunied GRC MPs have been covering his constituency duties, assisted by former NCMP Gerald Giam.

Mr Low is the longest serving opposition MP in Singapore.

He entered politics in 1988, losing in his first outing as a WP candidate in Tiong Bahru GRC.

He became a Member of Parliament after winning the Hougang seat at his second election in 1991, and has served as an MP since.

Mr Low took over as secretary-general of the WP from Mr J.B. Jeyaretnam in 2001 and went on to lead the party for 17 years.

He stepped down as secretary-general in 2018 and was succeeded by Mr Pritam Singh.

Mr Low is credited with being the first opposition leader to win a group representation constituency when the WP team he led won Aljunied GRC in 2011.

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Brazil’s health workers battle Covid-19 ‘fake news’

On Nurses Day last week, Elaine Oliveira posted a picture of herself in full protective gear on Instagram and begged people to stay home.

The 33 year old was too exhausted to get out of bed after working through the night at a hospital in Fortaleza, in north-eastern Ceará state.

She had not seen her parents in two months. “I miss them deeply and it hurts,” Ms Oliveira wrote.

“As I write this, my fellow colleagues are working hard at someone’s bedside, trying to save their lives or give them some dignity.

“I don’t want applause or congratulations, I want you to stay home to protect you, me and your family.”

Flouting lockdown

Ms Oliveira had wanted to get those words off her chest for some time, she told the BBC.

She had been watching while so many fellow Brazilians ignored or pointedly flouted measures intended to protect the population from Covid-19.

Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, in particular, have tried to play down the seriousness of the disease.

They have organised protests against, and in defiance of, social distancing rules.

“Today is Nurses Day and the president of my country rides a jet ski and says, ‘So what?’” Ms Oliveira wrote on Instagram.

“These are not just numbers, they are people who have children, parents, partners. They’re loved and they want to live.”

‘Very deflated’

Brazil now has the third highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world – around a quarter of a million, ,according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

But experts suggest the figure could be more than three million.

“I can categorically say that Brazil has become the most important epicentre for the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the world,” Domingos Alves, a professor at the Ribeirao Preto Medical School told BBC News Brasil.

Almost 18,000 people have died according to official figures, but Prof Alves warns that the death toll has been massively underreported.

And yet President Bolsonaro insists that Covid-19 is “only a mild flu”.

The far-right leader has been attending anti-lockdown demonstrations, shaking hands with supporters, and even promising to hold a barbecue “for about 30 guests” in the middle of the pandemic.

Questioned by journalists last month after Brazil’s death toll exceeded 5,000, he said: “So what? I am sorry, but I can’t work miracles.”

Italo Lennon, an epidemiologist tracking the pandemic at Ceará’s public health department, says the situation is making him feel “very deflated”.

“When this all started, I thought I would be able to put my most important skills to use. I thought we were going to face a difficult pandemic but that I would be able to help the population,” Mr Lennon told the BBC.

“I feel we are trying to roll a boulder up a hill.”

‘We are having to choose who lives and who dies’

Ceará state has recorded the second-highest number of cases, after São Paulo. Intensive care units are at near-full capacity, despite the number of beds having doubled since the pandemic began.

Ms Oliveira works at an emergency unit treating Covid-19 patients. “We are having to decide who is going to be ventilated and who isn’t,” she says.

Many patients have died waiting and all staff can do is give palliative care “to let them go in peace”, she adds.

The city has installed large refrigerated containers to store the bodies of coronavirus victims but the gravity of the situation is not appreciated by all Brazilians, argues Italo Lennon.

“Many people are choosing not to believe reality,” he says.

“People are ignoring social distancing rules, they are refusing to wear masks, they are taking part in gatherings.

“We hear about parties that happened at the house of so and so,” Mr Lennon says. “We are trying to convince people of the problem that is right in front of them. Our biggest problem is fake news.”

Earlier this month, Instagram removed a post shared by a state legislator in which he claimed the death toll was being exaggerated by officials to instil fear in the population.

The information was subsequently found to be false and removed – but only after being shared by Mr Bolsonaro.

In March, Twitter and Facebook deleted presidential posts after identifying them as fake news.

Last month, rumours – which have since been disproved – that authorities in the Amazonian city of Manaus were filling graves with empty coffins to inflate the death toll went viral on social media.

Divisions run deep and are even splitting families apart.

Ms Oliveira says she has stopped talking to her four brothers because they have all been following Mr Bolsonaro’s advice.

She says she got “very upset” because they will not take any precautions or stop visiting her elderly parents.

Frontline staff like her are making sacrifices during the pandemic – such as being separated from their children and partners for weeks – sacrifices she feels are not being respected by those ignoring restrictions.

For Ms Oliveira, denial only worsens the situation – and increases her anguish.

“If it weren’t for all this political polarisation, we could save more lives.”

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Jersey jackpot of $2 million awaits Deutsche's lost shareholders

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – While Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) employees fret about their jobs and pay, Germany’s largest lender is trying to track down several hundred former staff to claim share payouts it has been holding in Jersey.

The loss-making bank began transferring the assets, which are now worth a total of around $2 million, to a government body on the island last month as part of efforts to streamline its sprawling global network and cut costs.

The assets, which are in the form of stock as well as accrued dividends, have been held for years by the outpost, which was the central depository for awards for Deutsche Bank employees globally, excluding those in Germany and the United States.

Jersey court documents show that over the past year Deutsche Bank has used resources including LinkedIn, 192.com, Google, and the investigative group Kroll to hunt down the ex-staffers.

Although the documents show the effort has had some success, 274 “lost shareholders”, some of who could lay claim on up to 50,000 pounds ($61,460), have yet to be found.

Deutsche Bank said it was hard to speculate on why the former employees had not been located. The relatively low value of their assets partly reflects an 80% drop in Deutsche Bank’s share price over the past decade to record lows.

Employees, mainly those in senior roles, were given shares as part of their remuneration and in 1998, during a period of rapid global growth, Deutsche Bank began depositing these in Jersey, where at one stage it employed more than 100 staff and generated revenue of close to 30 million euros ($33 million).

However, in 2018, Fabrizio Campelli, then in charge of wealth management and now on Deutsche Bank’s board, struck a deal with Bermuda-based Butterfield Bank to take over the business in Jersey, Guernsey and the Cayman Islands.

Although the Jersey administrator normally charges individuals a 500 pound fee to collect assets it stores, Deutsche Bank is paying 75,000 pounds upfront so that its former employees will be off the hook.

But the clock is ticking. If the ex-Deutsche Bank staff do not come forward within 15 years to claim their assets, then ownership will automatically transfer to Jersey.

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