Thursday, December 6, 2018

The problem in France

France’s protesters are part of a global backlash against climate-change taxes

France suspends planned fuel tax to 'bring back peace and calm’

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Dec. 4 that fuel tax hikes would be suspended in response to nationwide anger that he said has “deep roots.” (Reuters)

By Steven Mufson and
James McAuley

December 4, 2018

The single most effective weapon in the fight against climate change is the tax code — imposing costs on those who emit greenhouse gases, economists say. But as French President Emmanuel Macron learned over the past three weeks, implementing such taxes can be politically explosive.

On Tuesday, France delayed for six months a plan to raise already steep taxes on diesel fuel by 24 cents a gallon and gasoline by about 12 cents a gallon. Macron argued that the taxes were needed to curb climate change by weaning motorists off petroleum products, but violent demonstrationsin the streets of Paris and other French cities forced him to backtrack — at least for now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Singapore-Malaysia relations - Transportation


Southern Johor airspace arrangements 'have worked well', changes will affect many: MOT
04 Dec 2018

SINGAPORE: The current airspace arrangements over southern Johor have benefitted both Singapore and Malaysia, and any changes will impact many stakeholders, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec 4).

The statement was made in response to remarks by Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who said in parliament on Tuesday that Malaysia wants to reclaim its "delegated airspace" in southern Johor.

In its statement, MOT pointed out that under current airspace arrangements, the provision of air traffic services in the airspace over southern Johor was delegated to Singapore, and that airspace in this region was one of the "most complex in the world".

"Air traffic growth is one of the fastest in the world. The benefits to both our economies and our people have been tremendous," said MOT. "The current airspace arrangements have been working well and have facilitated this growth.

"Hence, any proposed changes will impact many stakeholders. Consultations will therefore be required to minimise the impact on airlines and passengers."

Monday, December 3, 2018

Behind a tall order: Goh Chok Tong reflects on succession and politics past and present

By Jaime Ho

Chief Editor, Digital News


02 Dec 2018

SINGAPORE: My interview with Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong following the publication of his authorised biography, Tall Order,happens at a fortuitous time.

We speak three days after the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) announcement on Nov 23 that Mr Heng Swee Keat had been chosenas the party’s presumptive next-generation leader.

Political succession within the PAP today and Mr Goh’s story of his own ascension within the party as told in the book are natural parallels. We therefore start by discussing Mr Heng’s appointment.

The former prime minister gives a solid endorsement– not only of the finance minister’s capabilities and experience – but also of the team that has emerged, with Mr Heng having chosen Mr Chan Chun Sing as his deputy in eventually leading the party.

He agrees with the notion that had it not been for the stroke that Mr Heng suffered in May 2016, the fourth generation of PAP leaders might have come to the decision on their leader earlier.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Facebook admits 'serious mistake' after Edwin Tong questions failure to remove hate post in Sri Lanka

28 NOVEMBER, 2018


LONDON — A Facebook executive has admitted that the company “made a mistake” in not removing a post that incited racial hatred in Sri Lanka, an international hearing on fake news and disinformation in London heard on Tuesday (Nov 27).

Mr Richard Allan, Facebook's vice-president of policy solutions, was questioned by Singapore Member of Parliament Edwin Tong over a post, written in Sinhalese in March, which called for the killing of all Muslims. Mr Tong asked if the post breached the social media company’s terms of service.

Mr Allan agreed it did.

Was the Great Recession worse than the Great Depression?

By Robert J. Samuelson
Washington Post

November 26 2018

Here’s today’s economic quiz: Was the 2007-09 Great Recession more damaging than the Great Depression of the 1930s? Surely the answer is “no.” During the 1930s, unemployment reached 25 percent. By contrast, the recent peak in the jobless rate was 10 percent. Case closed.

Not so fast, objects economist J. Bradford DeLong of the University of California at Berkeley. “Fifty years from now, historians will . . . write that President Franklin Roosevelt, Congress and the Federal Reserve provided a collective policy response that was, if not optimal, at least respectable. . . . By contrast, they will [argue] that the responses of President Barack Obama, Congress and the Federal Reserve did not come up to the standard [set by] the mid-1930s policy-makers.”

Could DeLong be correct? The answer matters, because if he’s right, the economy — despite its present strength — faces a future of long-term sluggishness.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The dangerous naivete of Trump and Xi



22 NOVEMBER, 2018

Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are a bit alike, and that presents a danger to the global order.

The American and Chinese leaders are both impetuous, authoritarian and overconfident nationalists, and each appears to underestimate the other side’s capacity to inflict pain. This dangerous symmetry leaves the two sides hurtling toward each other.

The 10 per cent tariffs already imposed in the trade war are scheduled to rise to 25 per cent in January, but there’s also a broader confrontation emerging.

Mr Trump and Mr Xi may well be able to reach a ceasefire in their trade war when they meet for the Group of 20 end of the month. Even if a deal is reached, though, it may be only a temporary respite that doesn’t alter the dynamic of two great nations increasingly on a collision course.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

US-China clash at Apec was over more than words

20 November, 2018

BEIJING — The tensions were already high.

At a major international gathering in Papua New Guinea over the weekend, the United States wanted to end with a group statement emphasising free trade. China objected.

But instead of working out the disagreement through dialogue, Chinese officials barged uninvited into the office of the host country’s foreign minister demanding changes in the official communiqué.

China’s action marked a striking break with diplomatic decorum at a meeting that is normally used to promote cooperation among countries that ring the Pacific Ocean.