Tuesday, June 18, 2019

China shoots itself in the foot with divide and rule tactics in Asean

Photo: Reuters

By Tang Siew Mun

Following the Asean-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Tuesday, Malaysia issued a statement on escalating tensions in the S China Sea which was taken back hours later. 

17 June, 2016

Relations between the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) and China suffered yet another blow during the Special Asean-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that ended in Kunming, China, on Tuesday.

From Asean’s standpoint, the meeting was intended to help repair its fraying relationship with China due to developments in the South China Sea. In fact, the proposal for the meeting was initially met with scepticism within Asean for fear that China will use the meeting as a public relations exercise to serve Beijing’s ends. This concern turned out not to be unfounded as China attempted to have the Asean foreign ministers endorse a 10-point consensus in Kunming.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hong Kong’s extradition bill will only drive businesses to Singapore and elsewhere

By Richard Harris

14 June, 2019

I am just coming up to 50 years in Hong Kong. I saw through 1997, and there’s a pretty good probability that I will see through 2047. That makes me a very connected observer of my city.

Last Sunday, a million people surged onto the pavements like the floods of a June rainstorm. In 1997, there was an air of hope and confidence in the special administrative region, thanks to the Basic Law.

It allowed Hong Kong to have many years of relatively independent development, interspersed with some increasingly frequent cack-handed interventions. Hong Kong’s troublesome insistence on defending its 155-year-old way of doing things has clearly irritated Beijing.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?

Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change.

09 June, 2019

NEW YORK — The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under.

Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction.

To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption.

Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

And yet we fly more and more.

US-China trade war: here are Beijing’s options – and not one looks any good

by Tom Holland

Hit by a hike in US tariffs China could: respond with equal tariffs (impossible); dump US Treasury bonds (ineffective and impractical); let the yuan weaken (expensive)
Or it could give in to Trump and lose face (for Xi, unthinkable)

21 May, 2019

From the volume of bellicose rhetoric in China’s state media, you might think Beijing is digging in for a bloody fight to the finish in its trade conflict with the United States.
But after the US administration this month jacked up import tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 per cent, and threatened equal tariffs on another US$340 billion, the Chinese government faces a problem.

The policy responses it is considering are all either impossible, impractical, ineffective or expensive. This leaves Beijing in an unenviable position.

The usual trade-war response to the imposition of tariffs is to impose countervailing tariffs of your own, inflicting enough pain on your antagonist to bring him back to the negotiating table.

But that’s impossible in the US-China dispute. Yes, last week the Chinese government slapped 25 per cent tariffs on US$60 billion of imports from the US. But that just highlights Beijing’s problem.

Last year, the US imported US$540 billion of stuff from China, whereas China bought just US$155 billion from the US (or maybe as much as US$180 billion, if you include all the US goods shipped to Hong Kong).

So, if the US imposes 25 per cent tariffs on everything it buys from China, and China retaliates by doing the same, its retaliation will be ineffective in comparison.

Spend money on what makes you and others truly happy

By Richard Hartung

Assistant Professor Peter Caprariello of Stony Brook University in the US found that spending money on socially shared experiences brings more happiness than spending money on experiences people do alone or on buying material possessions.

08 June, 2019

Millennials are often criticised for spending too much on frills, from fancy coffee to new mobile phones.

In reality, millennials are more careful than many people think, even though there is still a tendency for them to follow the crowd.

What’s important is spending wisely on experiences that bring long-lasting enjoyment.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Japan’s recluses already faced stigma. Then came 2 shocking acts of violence

Experts worry that a new wave of fearmongering will leave the recluses known as hikikomori even more vilified and painted falsely as prone to heinous crimes.

08 June, 2019

TOKYO — After the stabbing of 17 schoolgirls and two adultsat a bus stop near Tokyo last week, a shocked public has been grasping for answers as to what could possibly have driven someone to commit such a horrific act.

Investigators and the news media have zeroed in on the fact that the attacker, who killed himself after the assault, which left two dead, lived as an extreme recluse — or “hikikomori,” as the condition is known in Japan.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Thirsty Singapore taps into innovation to secure its water future

Singapore is the fifth most likely country in the world to face extremely high water stress by 2040, according to the US-based World Resources Institute.

07 June, 2019

SINGAPORE — Every day after his morning run, Mr Adam Reutens-Tan washes under a half-full camping shower hooked on the ceiling of his bathroom.

The modified shower, which uses just four litres of water, is one of several ways the Reutens-Tan family conserve water as part of a countrywide push to cut Singapore's daily consumption by 8 per cent by 2030.

The nation currently uses 141 litres per person each day — about enough for two typical eight-minute US showers, according to Harvard University statistics.

Singapore, a steamy, low-lying island city-state, is the fifth most likely country in the world to face extremely high water stress by 2040, according to the US-based World Resources Institute.

How to raise CPF returns

[Note date of publication]

Jun 6, 2014

Hui Weng Tat, For The Straits Times

WHETHER or not the amount in a Singaporean's Central Provident Fund (CPF) account is adequate for retirement does not just depend on the amount saved. The rate of return on the savings is also important. At the very least, the rate of return on CPF savings must be enough to offset increases in the cost of living.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Anwar warns of new ‘racist’ narrative among Malaysians

Mr Anwar Ibrahim said the views of the minorities
on their views of Islam should not be shunned and
they should be given the space to express their opinions.
17 May, 2019

SELANGOR — Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday (May 16) that there is a new narrative on racism that needs to be addressed before Malaysia can move forward.

He said the narrative does not only exist within the Malay community, but also in the Indian and Chinese community.

“Some have the perception that racist tool is only within the Malays but this is not true. It is also within the Indian and Chinese races.

["Racist Tool"? Such language from someone who is to be PM!}

From making waves to drowning in red ink: Hyflux, Tuaspring and how a business giant came undone

As Hyflux’s dramatic debt restructuring continues to unfold, its flagship Tuaspring desalination plant was taken over on Saturday (May 18) by PUB at no cost. CNA looks back at how the ambitious project started - and then floundered.

ByTang See Kit

18 May 2019

SINGAPORE: As they arrived, the guests would have been in no doubt they were attending a high-profile event.

Huge balloons and congratulatory flowers festooned the area. Drummers and a Chinese orchestra revved up the celebratory atmosphere. Photographers clicked away as guests streamed in and warm handshakes were exchanged.

At the centre of it all was Olivia Lum, the founder of home-grown star company Hyflux.

Dressed in a black and white pant suit, the businesswoman, whose name was synonymous with the water treatment giant she built, had a broad smile when the day’s special guest, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, arrived.

It was a happy day, as seen from the scenes captured by a video on Youtube.

The event was the opening of Tuaspring desalination plant – Singapore’s second and largest seawater treatment plant supplying 70 million gallons of treated water, or 125 Olympic-sized pools worth of water, per day for 25 years.

It was also the first water plant in Singapore and Asia to be integrated with a power generator.

Seniors each need at least S$1,379 monthly to meet basic needs: Study



23 MAY, 2019

SINGAPORE — A Singaporean senior citizen aged 65 and above and living alone needs about S$1,379 a month to meet basic standards of living.

The amount increases to S$1,721 for those aged between 55 and 64.

As for couples aged 65 and older, they need S$2,351 a month.

That is what a team of researchers found after conducting focus-group discussions with more than 100 people who come from various ethnic groups, housing types and educational levels. Almost nine in 10 (89 per cent) were aged 55 and above.

Led by Assistant Professor Ng Koe Hoe from the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the study seeks to find out the amount of money needed for older people to achieve a basic standard of living in Singapore today.

The heat is on: Earth is getting ‘very, very close’ to crossing tipping point, scientist warns

By Low Youjin

06 June, 2019

SINGAPORE — Just days after an Australian think tank issued a gloomy report warning that climate change will end human civilisation by 2050, another scientist has made a similarly dire forecast.

[Right. Humans are so unadaptable. We're doomed.]

Speaking at the Ecosperity conference in Singapore on Thursday (June 6), Dr Will Steffen, emeritus professor at the Australian National University, said that Earth is “getting very, very close to crossing tipping points we won't be able to get back from”.

He added: “We scientists are getting really concerned.”

[We are GOING to go past the tipping point!]

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

30 years after Tiananmen, a Chinese military insider warns: Never forget

29 May, 2019

BEIJING — For three decades, Ms Jiang Lin kept quiet about the carnage she had seen on the night when the Chinese army rolled through Beijing to crush student protests in Tiananmen Square.

But the memories tormented her — of soldiers firing into crowds in the dark, bodies slumped in pools of blood and the thud of clubs when troops bludgeoned her to the ground near the square.

Ms Jiang was a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army back then, with a firsthand view of both the massacre and a failed attempt by senior commanders to dissuade China’s leaders from using military force to crush the pro-democracy protests.

‘Wow, what is that?’ US Navy pilots report unexplained flying objects

01 June, 2019

WASHINGTON — The strange objects, one of them like a spinning top moving against the wind, appeared almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015, high in the skies over the East coast.

Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds.

“These things would be out there all day,” said Lt. Ryan Graves, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who has been with the Navy for 10 years and who reported his sightings to the Pentagon and Congress. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”

In late 2014, a Super Hornet pilot had a near collision with one of the objects, and an official mishap report was filed. Some of the incidents were captured on video, including one taken by a plane’s camera in early 2015 that shows an object zooming over the ocean waves as pilots question what they are watching.

“Wow, what is that, man?” one exclaims. “Look at it fly!”

Coming in 2050? The end of human civilisation due to climate change, warns report

By Faris Mokhtar

04 June, 2019

SINGAPORE — A dystopian world beset by “outright chaos”, overwhelming threats to global security and political panic, could be upon mankind by 2050, a report from an Australian think-tank has warned.

Climate change, if left on its current trajectory, could by then spell the end of global civilisation as it is known, as devastating floods, lethal heat conditions “beyond the threshold of human survivability” and the collapse of ecosystems, grip the planet.

This nightmare 2050 scenario was presented in a policy paper published on May 30 by independent Australian think-tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration. It has also been endorsed by a former Australian defence chief.

“Climate change now represents a near to mid-term existential threat to human civilisation,” said the authors of the paper, Mr David Spratt, a research director at the think-tank and Mr Ian Dunlop, a former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and a former international oil, gas and coal industry executive.

Friday, May 17, 2019

IM Pei, world-renowned architect, is dead at 102

IM Pei, the Chinese-born American architect,
was probably best known for designing the East Building
of the National Gallery of Art in Washington
and the glass pyramid that serves as an entry for the Louvre in Paris.


17 May, 2019

NEW YORK — IM Pei, the Chinese-born American architect who began his long career working for a New York real-estate developer and ended it as one of the most revered architects in the world, has died. He was 102.

His son Chien Chung Pei said on Thursday (May 16) that his father had died overnight.

Pei was probably best known for designing the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the glass pyramid that serves as an entry for the Louvre in Paris.

Why Hong Kong cannot copy Singapore’s approach to public housing

Hong Kong’s struggles to house its population don’t just stem from its shortage of land, and looking to the Lion City as a model is unrealistic
Public housing in Singapore by its Housing and Development Board. Photo: Roy Issa

Hongkongers have long looked at Singapore as a model for how to provide good quality public housing. The latest example was laid out by University of Hong Kong adjunct professor Tony Kwok in his piece for this newspaper, “How would Lee Kuan Yew have solved Hong Kong’s housing and health care problems?” published on April 17.

He argued Singapore’s solution had simply been land reclamation, but this is an oversimplification of the city state’s approach to its acute home shortage of the 1960s. The reasons behind Singapore’s successes have little to do with reclaimed land, and the conditions in Singapore when Lee was prime minister are vastly different from those in Hong Kong today.

Reclamation was never a key feature of Singapore’s public housing policies. Most of the country’s reclaimed land has been put to non-residential uses such as the airport, industrial parks, ports, the new financial district at Marina Bay, and recreation. Only a thin sliver in the southeast has been set aside for public housing. Most future residential land parcels are also not on reclaimed land.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Looking beyond the vague terms in Singapore's fake news laws

By Benjamin Joshua Ong

Benjamin Joshua Ong is an Assistant Professor of Law at Singapore Management University.
"Often, an Act that is at first glance vague, overly broad, or open to abuse by the Government, turns out not to be when read against the backdrop of the case law."

14 May, 2019

In recent debates about the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), some criticised it for being too vague. Yes, at first glance, Pofma contains words and phrases whose meaning is not explicitly clear.

But such criticisms only consider Pofma on the surface in isolation from its legal context. Much of the Act makes sense when one understands how it will operate in the light of other relevant legal principles.

First, Acts passed by Parliament (such as Pofma) are not the only source of law in Singapore. Another important source of law is case law. This is the law developed and nuanced by the courts over time.

Many areas of our law, such as the laws of contracts, defamation, and negligence, consist mainly of rules from case law. These rules are the product of decades or centuries of development, first by the English courts, and now by independent Singapore's courts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A year on, PH government finds that change is hard to come by in Malaysia

By Adrian Tan

13 May, 2019

When Pakatan Harapan (PH) won its historic and surprising victory in the May 2018 Malaysian general election (GE14), many were quick to say that this will bring in an era of change. It has been a year since the new government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad took over power. Has Malaysia changed?

Has the government been able to execute its electoral manifesto, which was one of reforms? Looking at domestic developments since GE14, it has not been easy for the PH government, and many a time, this is not for want of trying.

Four key areas reveal the immense challenges facing this government.

Monday, May 13, 2019

How to prepare students for the rise of AI in the workforce

By Greg Naterer

09 May, 2019

The future impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on society and the labour force have been studied and reported extensively.

In a recent book, AI Superpowers, Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China, wrote that 40 to 50 per cent of current jobs will be technically and economically viable with AI and automation over the next 15 years.

Artificial intelligence refers to computer systems that collect, interpret and learn from external data to achieve specific goals and tasks.

Unlike natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals, it is an artificial form of intelligence demonstrated by machines. This has raised questions about the ethics of AI decision-making and impacts of AI in the workplace.

With computing power increasing rapidly in recent decades, the capabilities of AI have also risen dramatically. Vincent Müller, a philosopher at Eindhoven University of Technology, and Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, conducted a survey in 2016 about AI’s future potential.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Biggest threat to Johor River’s sustainability is lack of environmental protection: Vivian Balakrishnan

By Aqil Haziq Mahmud

08 May 2019

SINGAPORE: Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (May 8) warned that the "biggest threat" to the sustainability of the Johor River was a lack of environmental protection, as he urged Malaysia to safeguard water quality for the benefit of both sides.

"The biggest threat to Johor's own water supply is actually the lack of environmental protection," Dr Balakrishnan told Parliament. "And the seven episodes since 2017 ... are a clear and present amber warning light."

MAS to disclose more information on monetary policy operations

TODAY file photo

08 May, 2019

SINGAPORE — The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will start releasing more information on its exchange rate-based monetary policy operations this year, as it announced a transfer of S$45 billion from official foreign reserves to the Government.

In a media release on Wednesday (May 8), the central bank said it had decided to release data on its foreign exchange intervention operations on a six-month basis, beginning with data for the second half of 2019.

The data will comprise MAS’s net purchases of foreign exchange on a six-month aggregated basis, and with a six-month lag from the end of the period.

"This further disclosure initiative will provide market participants a better indication of the actions that MAS has undertaken to implement its monetary policy stance, while preserving MAS’s operational effectiveness," said MAS.

PUB's Johor River Waterworks temporarily shut down in 7 pollution incidents since 2017: Masagos


07 May 2019 

SINGAPORE: There have been seven pollution incidentsalong the Johor River since 2017 that caused PUB's Johor River Waterworks to be temporarily shut down, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Monday (May 6).

Mr Masagos said this in a written response to parliamentary questions by Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng on the impact that prolonged stoppage of the water treatment plant's operations had on Singapore, as well as Singapore's obligations to provide treated water to Johor under such a scenario.

"PUB will shut down its Johor River Waterworks when the Johor River is affected by pollution upstream of our waterworks," said Mr Masagos.

"Johor also has water treatment plants along the Johor River, upstream of the Johor River Waterworks, and will shut down the plants when pollution occurs upstream of them."

Monday, May 6, 2019

If China thinks it’s overtaking the US any time soon, here’s a wake-up call

There’s no guarantee that China’s economy will surpass America’s – and even if there was, it wouldn’t mean much

Cary Huang

23 Apr, 2019

The warning by the former commerce minister Chen Deming that China should not assume it will overtake the United States to become the world’s top superpower should serve as a wake-up call to those harbouring illusions about China’s place in the world while ignoring the challenges ahead.

“Do not take it for granted that China is No 2, and do not make the assumption that we will be No 1 sooner or later,” Chen told a forum organised by the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing-based think tank, last Sunday.

The perception that China is the No 2 global power and on the path to become No 1 is based on two questionable assumptions – that China’s stellar growth levels, which outpace those of its main competitors, will continue on the same path, and that gross domestic product or the size of the economy equates to national power.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

How US went from telecoms leader to 5G also-ran without challenger to China’s Huawei

Verizon and Sprint chose the CDMA mobile standard, developed by US firm Qualcomm, which operated on different frequencies than GSM, adopted by Europe
After the initial boom in the mobile industry following deregulation, the US telecommunications industry began to decline from 2001

Zen Soo

3 Apr, 2019

For well over a century, the US was known for its telecommunications prowess – first for the invention of the single-wire telegraph, and then for Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the modern-day telephone in the 1800s. Bell went on to found the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (known today as AT&T), which became one of the world’s largest telecommunications firms.

But as 2020 draws near and the world is on the cusp of ultra-fast 5G networks, the US has found itself without a telecommunications hardware champion that can compete with major 5G players such as China’s Huawei Technologies, Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson.

China’s population to peak in 2023, five years earlier than official estimates, new research shows

Findings suggest Beijing waited too long to abandon the one-child policy, founder of one of the firms behind the report says
New research suggests that China’s population will hit
a high of 1.41 billion people in 2023. Photo: Xinhua
Finbarr Bermingham 

2 May, 2019

China’s population will peak in 2023, five years earlier than official forecasts, according to a new report.

Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence, one of the co-authors of the report, said the findings should be a cause for concern for Beijing’s policymakers, who waited too long to lift the controversial one-child policy for its rapidly greying society.
China abandoned the policy in 2015 to allow couples to have two children. But the birth rate last year fell to its lowest since 1961, indicating that most, if not all, of those parents who wished to have a second child already had done so, the study found.

China’s ‘charming towns’ plan turns into a nightmare for investors, amid legal crackdown

Initiative was to dot the countryside with themed villages, like Crayfish Town, Poetry Town, Fairyland Town, and Happy Town
Collapse of a funding company has seen senior executives detained by police, and thousands of investors scrambling for answers

He Huifeng

2 May, 2019

An artist's impression of the Crayfish Town, created by JC Group. Photo: Handout

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Can humans help trees outrun climate change?

Most trees can migrate only as fast as their seeds disperse — and if current warming trends hold, the climate this century will change 10 times faster than many tree species can move, according to one estimate.
Most trees can migrate only as fast as their seeds disperse — and if current
warming trends hold, the climate this century will change
10 times faster than many tree species can move, according to one estimate.
01 May, 2019

SCITUATE (Massachusetts) — Foresters began noticing the patches of dying pines and denuded oaks, and grew concerned. Warmer winters and drier summers had sent invasive insects and diseases marching northward, killing the trees.

If the dieback continued, some woodlands could become shrub land.

Most trees can migrate only as fast as their seeds disperse — and if current warming trends hold, the climate this century will change 10 times faster than many tree species can move, according to one estimate.

Rhode Island is already seeing more heat and drought, shifting precipitation and the intensification of plagues such as the red pine scale, a nearly invisible insect carried by wind that can kill a tree in just a few years.

The dark synergy of extreme weather and emboldened pests could imperil vast stretches of woodland.

So foresters in Rhode Island and elsewhere have launched ambitious experiments to test how people can help forests adapt, something that might take decades to occur naturally.

Economic injustice of climate change: Why poor countries suffer more than rich ones

Photo of Brown Bare Tree on Brown Surface during Daytime

By Nicholas Beuret

30 April, 2019

Those least responsible for global warming will suffer the most. Poorer countries — those that have contributed far less to climate change — tend to be situated in warmer regions, where additional warming causes the most devastation.

Extreme weather events such as Syria’s prolonged drought, South Asia’s catastrophic monsoon floods, and Cyclone Idai in South-East Africa, the third deadliest cyclone on record, are becoming more likely and more severe.

These events are disproportionately bringing death, displacement, and crop failure. As a result of this, projections estimate that the economies of poorer, warmer countries will be gravely harmed by climate change over coming decades, while the cooler, richer countries responsible for the vast majority of the extra CO2 in the air may even benefit in the short term.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Who controls Huawei? Chinese telecom leader’s ownership structure explained in more detail

01 May, 2019

HONG KONG — A research paper questioning the independence of Huawei Technologies put the world’s biggest telecoms network gear maker back on the offensive last week, as it held a press conference to rebut the paper’s central assertion that it may ultimately be controlled by the government.

The paper, jointly written by Dr Donald Clarke of George Washington University and Dr Christopher Balding of Fulbright University Vietnam, said that Huawei’s controlling holding company – 99 per cent of which is held by an entity called a “trade union committee” – could mean Huawei is owned and controlled by the government, if the committee functions like similar organisations in China.

Huawei dismissed this claim at a press conference in Shenzhen on Thursday (April 25), saying the trade union committee had been established to meet legal requirements and that it only had oversight of after-hours staff activities, such as badminton and hiking.

The truth behind 'healthier' food labels and terms

Take these food labels with a pinch of salt
Apr 29, 2019 06:00 am

We are surrounded every day by so many catchphrases and misleading terms that it is hard to tell fact from fiction.

Even though they do not mean what you think they do, each of these labels is so insidious that marketers simply have to slap them somewhere on the packaging and they can start charging more.

No Added Sugar

The next time you indulge your sweet tooth, save yourself the trouble of hunting down "no added sugar" versions of your favourite desserts.

Just go with the regular ones, and make a plan to work off the extra calories if you really must.

Basically, a food labelled as such already has enough sweetness to start with (like juice), or you are simply being fed other forms of sweeteners.

And what a wonderful variety of sugar substitutes the food industry has to play with. From high-fructose corn syrup to exotic-sounding variants such as stevia and agave and the latest compounds known as sugar alcohols, each of these can be readily found in processed foods these days. Not only do some of these raise health concerns, but some manufacturers also use sugar substitutes simply to jack up prices.

Low-Fat or Fat-Free

For manufacturers, introducing low-fat or fat-free foods seems like a logical choice to give customers what they want.

The problem is, lowering fat or removing it entirely makes the resulting product unappealing, and manufacturers are forced to compensate with food additives, most commonly sugar or sugar substitutes.

This brings you back to square one if you are trying to eat healthier, as you are simply swapping fat for sugar (or worse).

Remember, fat-free doesn't mean calorie-free. In this case, sticking with the regular product may be more beneficial.


Choosing products labelled as such were believed to be a responsible, healthy, adult choice.

But 'all-natural' means absolutely nothing, because authorities have not come up with any concrete definitions of the term.

That does not stop manufacturers from slapping it on anything they think they can get away with, even though many foods marketed as 'all-natural' are processed products.

"All-natural" food does not contain added colour, artificial flavours or synthetic substances, but can still contain ingredients that can be harmful under specific circumstances (such as if consumed in excessive amounts).

White Tuna

Even though you may see "white tuna" listed as an ingredient in some processed foods or menus, what you might be getting may not be tuna at all.

Instead, white tuna is an industry term that stands in for any number of white fish meat.

Just pray that you do not end up with escolar, which is known for causing intestinal distress that will make you develop trust issues around fish.

Chilean Sea Bass

The fish actually looks like the pet of Xenomorph creatures and originally had a name to fit - toothfish. Like any entity with an image problem, toothfish hired a really good PR agency and underwent a branding exercise, now going by the vaguely exotic-sounding "Chilean Sea Bass".

Restaurants also (wisely) refuse to serve the fish whole.

Just know that you are paying inflated prices for a fish that nobody wanted to take home to their mothers once.

[Note that while the fish is UGLY, nothing in this section actually says that the fish is unhealthy or bad for you.]


We do not really know how the panic around genetically modified organisms started, or why.

We have been cross-breeding plant species until desired traits such as sweetness became dominant - watermelon, corn and bananas are just some examples of "genetically modified" foods that we safely consume every day. Marketers seizing upon (unfounded) fears promoted non-GMO into a hero label, charging you higher prices to keep so-called "frankenfoods" out of your diet. But what we should be really worried about is the highly processed ingredients that are used in many modern foods.

Cage-free and Free-range

Happy chickens strutting about in the open, contentedly pecking in the rich earth for fat juicy earthworms, living comfortable fulfilling lives until they generously give their eggs or lives for our sustenance.

Is that not what "cage-free" and "free-range" mean? Yeah well, maybe in a cartoon.

The reality is these terms sound much nicer than they actually are. Instead of being crammed into individual wire cages in darkened barns, "cage-free" chickens (or other poultry) are kept in a massive communal pen. Their "free-range" brethren have it even better; with stipulated time spent basking in the sun.

Both these farming practices sound more humane, but the animals can still face overcrowding and fights which cause illness and injuries.
[Also, while more humane treatment of animals is better ethically, nothing in that treatment makes the food healthier. This is an ethical choice, if it works and is true. But it does not result in healthier eggs or chickens for you.]

This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg).

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

60% of Singaporean households recycle regularly, but many not doing it right: Surveys

Around 60 per cent of Singaporean households recycle regularly, but many still find it difficult to identify contaminants and non-recyclables, surveys conducted by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have found. Gwyneth Teo reports.

29 Apr 2019

SINGAPORE: Can plastic toys, clothes and glass pots be recycled? If you say yes, you're not alone, but these items do not belong in a recycling bin, according to authorities.

Around 60 per cent of Singaporean households recycle regularly, but many still find it difficult to identify contaminants and non-recyclables, surveys conducted by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have found.

The two surveys, which were conducted between June 2018 and February 2019, covered different aspects of household recycling, said the agencies in a joint media release on Monday (Apr 29).

Monday, April 29, 2019

Commentary: Career Mobility is the new Career Stability

Long gone is the notion that the ideal CV has a narrow, vertical progression, says Forest Wolf’s Crystal Lim-Lange.

By Crystal Lim-Lange

29 Apr 2019

SINGAPORE: You’ve probably heard the rule that one year to a human equals seven years for a dog.

These days, career coaches joke that one year in a single role for a millennial is the equivalent of seven years for a Gen X-er.

Frequent career transitions used to be a sign of failure but today, being career mobile and having a diverse array of experiences is not only common, but is rapidly becoming aspirational.

Long gone is the notion of the career ladder, where the ideal CV looks like a narrow, vertical progression. Today’s gold-standard CV looks like a career matrix, with horizontal and vertical moves signifying depth and breadth of experience, skills and exposure to different cultures.

Employers have gone from being cynical about hiring job-hoppers to becoming accustomed to seeing diverse CVs from top talent who are in frequent demand.

I recall being asked “Why didn’t you stay for longer?” in job interviews 10 years ago. Today I hear many employers asking candidates “Why did you stay in one role for so long and not stretch yourself?”. It smacks of complacency.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Economists often get their forecasts wrong. Here’s why.

By Faris Mokhtar

Image result for monetary authority of singapore
26 April, 2019

SINGAPORE — Economists are paid to predict how the economy will perform — whether it will grow or shrink, and by how much.

But these professional forecasters do not always get it right. In fact, they can miss the mark by a wide margin.

In its latest macroeconomic review, published on Friday (April 26), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) waded into the issue of the difficulties that economists face when trying to predict a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth as well as upcoming economic recessions and recoveries.

Citing studies and media reports, it pointed out that forecasters, though aware that recession years are anomalies, tend to “miss the magnitude of a recession by a wide margin until the year had drawn to a close”.

They also made the largest errors ahead of GDP contractions, according to an assessment by The Economist.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sports is not a guide to life, and this is why Tiger Woods ain't a role model

By Janan Ganesh

New York Times

The author says that sport is a meritocracy, but in real life, it is entirely possible for a person to possess talent, work hard and get nowhere.
Tiger Woods shakes hands with Patrick Reed, last year's winner, in a ceremony
after winning the Masters on April 14. 
22 April, 2019

In happy news, a world that used to regard Tiger Woods as a tragicomic case of fallen celebrity, citing his broken marriage and major-less decade, now regards him as an inspirational tale of endurance, citing his broken marriage and major-less decade.

The narrative change occurred on April 14 between 2.28pm and 2.29pm local time in Augusta, Georgia, when the golfer sank a decisive puttat the second attempt. A centimetre wide and he would have had to do without our upward revision of his moral worth.

Woods reclaimed two titles that day. One comes with a green jacket; the other promises the highest decorations of state. One comes with a cheque; the other will earn him millions of dollars in a more roundabout way.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Thai king confers awards on two Australian divers for rescue of cave boys

19 April, 2019

BANGKOK — Two Australian cave divers who were instrumental in the rescue last year of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave received on Friday a royal honour from King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a ceremony in Bangkok.

The “Wild Boars” soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped on June 23 while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

A 17-day effort to rescue them gripped the world with experts from various countries volunteering to help.

Mr Richard Harris and Mr Craig Challen were members of the main rescue team, made up of 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy divers, that brought the boys and their coach out to safety.

The Mueller report is 448 pages long. You need to know these 7 key things.

19 April, 2019

The special counsel, Mr Robert Mueller, produced a report of more than 400 pages that painted a deeply unflattering picture of US President Donald Trump but stopped short of accusing him of criminal wrongdoing. Here are seven takeaways.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can we grow more food on less land? We’ll have to, a new study finds

08 DECEMBER, 2018


WASHINGTON — If the world hopes to make meaningful progress on climate change, it won’t be enough for cars and factories to get cleaner. Our cows and wheat fields will have to become radically more efficient, too.

That’s the basic conclusion of a sweeping new study issued Wednesday (Dec 5) by the World Resources Institute, an environmental group.

The report warns that the world’s agricultural system will need drastic changes in the next few decades in order to feed billions more people without triggering a climate catastrophe.

The challenge is daunting: Agriculture already occupies roughly 40 per cent of the world’s vegetated land and is responsible for about a quarter of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.

But with the global population expected to grow from 7.2 billion people today to nearly 10 billion by 2050, and with many millions of people eating more meat as incomes rise, that environmental impact is on pace to expand dramatically.

News analysis: A ‘new Malaysia’ but same old racial, religious divide

By Faris Mokhtar in Kuala Lumpur

11 December, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, which swept into power in May through a significant swing in the Malay vote, should be under no illusion that the Malay voters bought into its progressive ideology, analysts told TODAY.

If there were ever any doubt, the 50,000-strong turnout for last weekend's rally at the historic Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) sent a loud and clear message: Malay rights and Islam’s status as the national religion must remain enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

As it becomes increasingly clear that the groundswell of support for PH during the elections had largely stemmed from voter dissatisfaction with corruption in the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, the opposition United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) are now ready to pounce and play the race and religion cards to win over the hearts and minds of the majority Malay population, the analysts said.

[Ok. So BN's corruption not an issue anymore?]

Tough to get ‘balance right’ when pricing HDB flats in central areas: Lawrence Wong

TODAY file photo


It is difficult to get the “balance right” when it comes to pricing public housing flats, particularly for those located close to the city centre, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

07 MARCH, 2019

SINGAPORE — It is difficult to get the “balance right” when it comes to pricing public housing flats, particularly for those located close to the city centre, as the Government has to weigh between pricing them to market value and keeping housing affordable, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Speaking during his ministry’s Budget debate on Thursday (March 7), Mr Wong was responding to a concern raised by Nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Walter Theseira about social stratification in housing estates.

Associate Professor Theseira, a labour economist with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, had pointed to the widening price disparities between Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats located close to the city centre and those that were not.

Acknowledging the challenges that the Ministry of National Development (MND) faces, Mr Wong said: “It’s difficult to get this balance right”

“If you price it to market, then only the very well-off can afford. If you want to make it affordable, the only way is through a big discount to the BTO (Build-to-Order) price.”

New CPF rules for purchase of older flats to kick in by May

TODAY file photo


When National Development Minister Lawrence Wong first signalled in August last year that CPF rules will be tweaked for the purchase of older flats, analysts told TODAY the move could help reassure flat owners that their ageing properties still held value.

07 MARCH, 2019
[Note date]

SINGAPORE — Homebuyers looking to purchase older flats from May onwards will be able to benefit from new Central Provident Fund (CPF) rules, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Thursday (March 7).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Singapore's Food Security "30 by 30" plan

[Two articles on the state of SG's urban farming endeavours.

See also the 2015 post on this.]

Singapore’s ‘30 by 30’ food production target: Is it feasible?

By Paul Teng and Jose Montesclaros

 09 April, 2019

The recent announcements in Parliament to raise Singapore’s food self-production level from the current 10 per cent to 30 per cent of total food needs by 2030, the “30 by 30” strategy, have raised some pertinent questions on capacity, investment and exportability.

Singapore’s huge dependency — 90 per cent — on imports for its food supply puts it at the mercy of external forces in the exporting countries, most of which are beyond the Republic’s control.

So it is laudable and indeed even overdue, that the government would want to reduce the country’s vulnerability and achieve greater stability in its supply of food as part of food security.

Climate change: Yes, your individual action does make a difference

By Steve Westlake

16 April, 2019

What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming.

It’s a debate that has been raging for decades. Clearly, in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions, a single person’s contribution is basically irrelevant (much like a single vote in an election).

But my research, first in my masters and now as part of my PhD, has found that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”.

Friday, April 12, 2019

China’s state pension fund to run dry by 2035 due to shrinking workforce: Study

The urban worker pension fund, the backbone of the country’s state pension system,
held a reserve of 4.8 trillion yuan (US$714 billion) at the end of 2018.
It is predicted to peak at 7 trillion yuan in 2027, then drop steadily to zero by 2035.
12 April, 2019


HONG KONG — China’s main state pension fund will run out of money by 2035 due to a decline in the available work force, according to new research.

The urban worker pension fund, the backbone of the country’s state pension system, held a reserve of 4.8 trillion yuan (S$968 billion) at the end of 2018. It is predicted to peak at 7 trillion yuan in 2027, then drop steadily to zero by 2035, a report by the World Social Security Centre at the government-supported Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has said.

And the gap between contributions and outlays could be as high as 11 trillion yuan by 2050, with each retired citizen supported by only one worker, down from the current level of two, the government think tank calculated.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Video Compilation: Nuclear Fear, Nuclear Power, and the way to save our planet, save our climate, and save our environment.

Drafted 1 April 2019 

In an earlier blogpost on Climate Change, I compiled a list of videos to support the position that Climate Change is already irreversible.

The solution for clean energy is already with us. But we have been manipulated to believe that it is dangerous and worse than the problem.

This first video is about how the fear of Nuclear power was created. It is intriguing.

Monday, April 8, 2019

With no Tan Cheng Bock-led alliance in sight, opposition parties turn to plan Bs

Tan Cheng Bock being pestered by Chee Soon Juan

By Kenneth Cheng and Wong Pei Ting


08 April, 2019

SINGAPORE — Inspired by last year’s shock victory of the Pakatan Harapan alliance in the Malaysian General Election (GE), hopes were briefly raised among the opposition circles on this side of the Causeway that several parties could band together, led by former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock.

It was touted as a possible game-changer given the fragmented opposition landscape dotted by fewer than a handful of established parties and several fringe ones that have struggled to make any impact at recent polls.

Eight months on, however, the proposed coalition of seven opposition parties appears dead in the water, with several party leaders fast losing hope and turning to plan Bs.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

All you need to know about Singapore’s proposed fake news law

By Asyraf Kamil
iStock photo
02 April, 2019


SINGAPORE — After two years spent studying the threat of fake news, the Republic is taking things a step further with the introduction of sweeping new laws that will, among other things, give Government ministers broad powers to quickly stop the dissemination of online falsehoods and punish those who create and spread them.

These new laws, which will come under a new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, were tabled in Parliament on Monday (April 1).

Friday, April 5, 2019

Investment talks with MBS, RWS were on Singapore’s terms due to economy’s strength: Chan Chun Sing

TODAY file photo


By Faris Mokhtar

05 April, 2019

SINGAPORE — Negotiations with the integrated resorts to commit about S$9 billion of non-gaming investments took more than two years, but the Singapore Government was able to iron out a deal based on its own terms, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

Singapore has to be in a position of strength to negotiate, and ensure that the country is “never held ransom” or “overly dependent” on one particular sector, he said at a media briefing on Friday (April 5) to talk about the negotiation process.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Why an ageing China will never overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy

Business photo created by onlyyouqj
- www.freepik.com
By Yi Fuxian


02 April, 2019

Forecasts that China will dethrone the United States as the world’s biggest economy neglect the country’s ageing population and its drag on growth, says the author.

In 2010, China replaced Japan as the world's second-largest economy. Many economists believe it is just a matter of time before China dethrones the United States as the world’s biggest economy – some have argued that it could happen before 2030.

They have cited the history of other Asian economies as evidence to back the claim. The nominal per capita gross domestic product of China was just a sixth of America’s in 2018 – a level similar to Japan in 1960, Taiwan in 1978 and South Korea in 1986.

In the following two decades, the three Asian economies achieved annual growth rates of between 7 per cent and 8 per cent.

As such, economists including Justin Lin Yifu, the former World Bank chief economist, have argued that China would go through a similar trajectory and the nation would be able to achieve a 6 per cent annual growth rate from now until the 2030s.

Johor crown prince accuses Mahathir of lying about shipping hub project

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, in a Facebook post, said neither he, his father Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian nor the state government was aware of the project.
Johor Southern Tigers/Facebook
Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, in a Facebook post, said neither he, his father Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian nor the state government was aware of the project.

KUALA LUMPUR — Johor’s crown prince has launched an attack on Putrajaya, denying Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s claim that a new shipping hub project at the Johor Baru port is public knowledge.

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, in a Facebook post, said neither he, his father Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian nor the state government was aware of the project.

“Whoever says Johor is aware is lying. Anything within three nautical miles of the shores of the state — in particular, land and water matters — is the sole prerogative of the state.

[Note the limits of Johor's jurisdiction - 3 nautical miles.]

“Is Putrajaya trying to usurp the powers of the state?”

Update on Climate Change - Video Compilation. Commentary

It may seem to you that everyday, there is news or updates or a new breathlessly reported fact about Climate Change and what you can do to stop or even reverse Climate Change.

David Wallace-Wells, author of "The Uninhabitable Earth" was interviewed and asked if he intended his book to spur people to action, to slow, stop or even reverse climate change.

How Singapore’s hawker culture started

TODAY file photo
The Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre. On March 27, Singapore submitted a nomination for Singapore hawker culture to be inscribed on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a year after after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the move.
03 APRIL, 2019

On March 27, Singapore submitted a nomination for Singapore hawker culture to be inscribed on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a year after after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the move.

In the lead up to the submission of the nomination, the official government website on hawker culture in Singapore described that street hawking in Singapore can be traced back to the mid-1800s when street hawkers sold a variety of food along the streets of Singapore.

The narrative leaps forward to the time period 1968 to 1986 when the Singapore government resettled street hawkers into hawker centres and markets.

Monday, April 1, 2019

'Anti-vax' movement fuels rise in measles, vaccine-preventable diseases in South-east Asia

A girl receives anti-measles vaccination drops at a health centre in
Tondo, Manila, on Sept 3, 2014. 

29 March, 2019

HONG KONG — Vaccination rates for measles have dipped across South-east Asia, falling below the 95 per cent mark which experts say is needed to fully protect a community from the infectious disease.

At the same time, cases of measles have spiked in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in recent years — part of a worldwide 50 per cent increase seen last year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Freedom with ‘Fire’: Living simply, saving heavily to retire young

By Richard Hartung

30 March, 2019

Having the option of retiring in your 30s or 40s sounds really attractive for many people.

“Fire”, short for “financial independence, retire early” is a growing movement that started in the United States. Its followers tend to be millennials who choose that goal in a bid to free themselves from what they see as a prolonged and unsustainable work life that takes its toll on them.

It’s not easy, though, so it may not be as enticing as it seems.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The emerging 737 MAX scandal, explained

It’s more than bad software.

By Matthew Yglesias


Mar 29, 2019

Boeing executives are offering a simple explanation for why the company’s best-selling plane in the world, the 737 MAX 8, crashed twice in the past several months, leaving Jakarta, Indonesia, in October and then Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March. Executives claimed Wednesday, March 27, that the cause was a software problem — and that a new software upgrade fixes it.

But this open-and-shut version of events conflicts with what diligent reporters in the aviation press have uncovered in the weeks since Asia, Europe, Canada, and then the United States grounded the planes.

Warnings of a dark side to AI in health care

Photo by Unsplash
In a paper published on Thursday (Mar 21) in the journal Science, the researchers raise the prospect of “adversarial attacks” — manipulations that can change the behavior of A.I. systems using tiny pieces of digital data.

30 March, 2019

NEW YORK — Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a device that can capture an image of your retina and automatically detect signs of diabetic blindness.

This new breed of artificial intelligence (A.I.) technology is rapidly spreading across the medical field, as scientists develop systems that can identify signs of illness and disease in a wide variety of images, from X-rays of the lungs to C.A.T. scans of the brain. These systems promise to help doctors evaluate patients more efficiently, and less expensively, than in the past.

Similar forms of artificial intelligence are likely to move beyond hospitals into the computer systems used by health care regulators, billing companies and insurance providers. Just as A.I. will help doctors check your eyes, lungs and other organs, it will help insurance providers determine reimbursement payments and policy fees.

Friday, March 29, 2019

What’s life like after climate change? One city offers plenty of clues

Residents collect water from a communal tap in a settlement
outside of Cape Town.

29 MARCH, 2019


In the flat where I stayed in Cape Town last month, the bathtub felt like a relic of a lost civilisation. It may never be used again. Beside it was a shower containing an egg timer. The two-minute wash has been standard here since the recent three-year drought. In the city’s public bathrooms, a dribble comes out of the tap. Posters everywhere warn against wasting water.

This is what adapting to climate change looks like. Last year, Cape Town nearly became the first big city on earth to run dry. Daily water rations dropped to 50 litres per person per day, with the spectre of 25 litres if supplies ran out on “Day Zero”.

The drought broke just in time, but the city’s planners now expect permanent water scarcity. Rationing, which initially felt like wartime austerity, has become normal.

Debt-relief can help poor make better decisions: Study



26 MARCH, 2019

SINGAPORE — A group of academics has called for a debt-relief programme to be made available to the less well-off here, after a comprehensive study showed that debt takes a huge toll on their ability to make good decisions.

Participants of a first-of-its-kind study by the Social Service Research Centre (SSR) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) viewed each debt as a separate “mental account”, according to the study released on Tuesday (March 26).

Being in the red in many debt accounts was “psychologically painful”, said the study’s authors, who are researchers from the NUS and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Thinking about their debts also increased their anxiety and worsened cognitive performance.

“This psychological impact may prevent the poor from making the right decisions to get out of poverty, further contributing to the poverty trap,” said the study. Its findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America scientific journal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Investor watchdog questions PUB after ‘serious concerns’ raised over takeover move for Tuaspring plant

By Kenneth Cheng

26 March, 2019

SINGAPORE — The Securities Investors Association Singapore (SIAS) has written an open letter to national water agency PUB about its move to take over Hyflux’s Tuaspringdesalination plant — if Tuaspring cannot fix its defaults by April 5 — after the firm’s investors raised “serious concerns”.

In its letter on Monday addressed to PUB chief executive officer Ng Joo Hee, SIAS president David Gerald said Hyflux’s retail investors were caught in a predicament, as the company possibly faces liquidation.

The SIAS is Singapore’s retail investor watchdog.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Singapore: Place or nation?

What makes a country a home? Is it emotional ties or purely economic self-interest?

June 19, 2006

[Note date. This is from 13 years ago. But may be pertinent in this bicentennial year. Is Singapore a nation or just a place?]

By For The Straits Times, Linda Lim

SINGAPORE'S economic development has never relied on its being a nation. First a colonial port where immigrant merchants and labour served the needs of the British empire, after independence in 1965 its economic policy still located the city-state within the regional trade and global production networks of foreign corporations.

Unlike Asia's other export-oriented 'developmental states' - Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - Singapore did not actively nurture or encourage a local capitalist class. Foreign and state enterprises were favoured, so 'national champion' outfits such as Toyota, Samsung and Acer never developed.

Instead, Singapore has always been a 'global city' - a place where parts and people are imported to produce goods and services that are exported to foreign consumers.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Can bringing young and old under one roof solve the world's housing crisis?

24 March, 2019

BRUSSELS — Home sharing initiatives that link cash-strapped young people with elderly home owners are becoming popular with governments around the world as they seek to tackle the twin crises of homelessness and loneliness, experts said on March 21.

Home sharing, which usually involves an older person offering a spare room at low cost to a young person in exchange for help and companionship, is increasingly seen as a solution to the problem of affordability faced by many countries.

Experiments in a number of countries suggest it could also alleviate loneliness among older people — a growing problem as populations age and more and more people live alone.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

When the benefits of statins outweigh the risks

By Jane E. Brody


24 March, 2019

NEW YORK — My column last April “Pros and Cons of Statin Therapy” has elicited nearly 700 online comments, many of them from people who accused me of selling out to Big Pharma.

Yes, statins are blockbuster drugs with sales in the billions, but some people question if they’re safe and effective. In this column, I will try yet again to explain my understanding of statins and help others deal sensibly with these potentially lifesaving drugs.

I do not own stock in any drug company, and no friend or relative works for one. My personal decisions and published statements about any medication are based on a thorough analysis of the best available medical evidence. Those decisions and statements may change if and when reliable new findings warrant. This is science, after all, and science is constantly evolving.

As I mentioned in last year’s column, I had taken a monthslong hiatus after more than a decade on a statin to see if it would relieve my periodic back pain. It did not. What it did do was allow my cholesterol level to soar back to a total of 248 milligrams per decilitre of blood and an LDL (the heart-damaging lipid) level of 171, 70-plus milligrams higher than it should be.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Americans are pessimistic about what life will be like in 2050. Here’s what they fear most.

The Daily 202 - 22 Mar 2019

with Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Americans, collectively, appear to be in a deeper funk about the future than Beto O’Rourke was after he lost his Senate race.
When adults are asked to think about what the United States will be like in 2050, they see the country declining in stature on the world stage, a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and growing political polarization. They think health care will be less affordable, public education will be lower quality and retiring will be harder.

They fear the growing national debt, the likelihood of an attack that’s as bad or worse than 9/11 and another 1970s-style energy crisis. Many people also think robots will take their jobs.

Few folks in either party believe the political class is up to the task of addressing the most pressing challenges. Part of the problem is that there is less agreement about what the biggest problems even are than there once was, let alone the best ways to tackle them.

Why we should be honest about failure

By Janan Ganesh

20 March, 2019

On a long-haul flight, Can You Ever Forgive Me? becomes the first film I have ever watched twice in immediate succession.

Released last month in Britain, it recounts the (true) story of Lee Israel, a once-admired, now-marginal writer who resorts to literary forgery to make the rent on her fetid New York hovel.

Her one friend is himself a washout who, as per the English tradition, passes off his insolvency as bohemia. Lee pleads with her agent to answer her calls and, in the rawest scene, confesses her crime with a wistful pang for the success it brought her.

There are serviceable jokes (including the profane farewell between the two friends) but the film is ultimately about failure: social, financial, romantic, professional.

Friday, March 22, 2019

From construction to cakes: What a man’s job switch tells us about how S'pore looks at skills

“Look, I spent my whole life putting cement as smoothly as possible on tiles and then lining them up straight on a wall. Or plastering the wall as smoothly as possible. Right? No different from icing a cake," said the author's friend.


20 MARCH, 2019

A friend of mine recently lost his job in the construction sector. He was a highly-skilled and experienced tiler and plasterer. I asked him if he was going to look for another tiling or plastering job. He said: “No lah, I'm going to help my wife in her bakery.”

Amused, I asked him: “What are you going to do in the bakery?”

He said, in all seriousness: “Icing cakes.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Why my first home purchase is a HDB flat I may just outlive


18 MARCH, 2019

I am 29 years old, know full well that a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat will be worth nothing when its 99-year lease expires, and even explored a Big Read surrounding the lease decay issue.

Monday, March 11, 2019

S'poreans should 'brace themselves' for more issues with M'sia: Bilahari Kausikan

08 March, 2019

SINGAPORE — Air pollution, stalled rail projects and constant antagonism by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad are just some of the issues Singaporeans must continue to bear with because of the instability of Pakatan Harapan, said retired Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan.

In a Facebook post on Friday (March 8), Mr Kausikan shared a TODAY report stating that the Rapid Transit System (RTS) rail system connecting Singapore with Johor would be delayed as Putrajaya had failed to meet project deadlines.

“This is just another example of the consequences of a fundamentally incoherent and thus ineffective, government across the causeway,” he wrote in a caption accompanying the report.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Budget ‘hongbao’ squeezed out of Government’s coffers: Heng Swee Keat

By Janice Lim

08 March, 2019

SINGAPORE — While he is often jokingly referred to as the God of Fortune, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Friday (March 8) that the “hongbao” (red packets, or goodies) dished out in the Budget have to be squeezed from the Government’s coffers.

To those who have asked him why the hongbao in this year’s Budget was so small, Mr Heng has replied: “This God of Fortune is not fat. This God of Fortune is quite thin, so money no enough. Whatever ‘hongbao’ given were squeezed out.”

Features of Budget 2019 include the S$1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonusand the S$6.1 billion set aside for the Merdeka Generation Package.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Loss in Semenyih by-election ominous for PH’s rule in Malaysia


05 MARCH, 2019

The recently concluded Semenyih by-election won by the Barisan Nasional (BN) is indeed a game changer for Malaysian politics. The by-election is a confirmation that many Malay voters have abandoned ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH), a trend that was discerned in the previous Cameron Highlands elections.

The key difference between Cameron Highlands and Semenyih is the demography of the Malay voters. Prior to the election, many political pundits predicted that PH will retain Semenyih due to the high percentage of Malays from middle and upper-middle class background, a traditional vote bank for PH.

However, the results indicated otherwise, though it is perhaps premature to suggest that the by-election is a referendum for the PH government.

What a Singapore Strait traffic jam says about the world economy

06 March, 2019

HONG KONG — Flying into Singapore’s Changi Airport, visitors often remark on the hundreds of vessels, from supertankers to freighters, anchored along the coastline. Why are there so many? What are they doing there?

A decade ago, the global recession created a maritime car park of apparent ghost ships in the Singapore Strait — vessels sat idle in the world’s busiest shipping lane as companies were going bust or did not have enough business to justify their use.

Now there’s a similar stockpiling of ships in the strait, but it’s more like a traffic jam. A growing global population that is getting materially richer means a burgeoning demand for goods.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

China defends belt and road strategy against debt trap claims

Reuters file photo - A map illustrating China's "One Belt, One Road" megaproject at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong.

05 March, 2019

BEIJING — China has sought to defend its ailing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) from mounting international criticism ahead of an important summit in April to fine-tune the multibillion-dollar infrastructure investment programme.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Explainer: What does a giant dislodged iceberg mean for us in Singapore?


03 March, 2019

SINGAPORE — An iceberg roughly two-and-a-half times the size of Singapore could break away from a western Antarctic ice shelf in weeks, said the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) last month.

It is the result of a rift, known as a Halloween crack, intersecting with another fissure which was stable for the past 35 years but which recently started accelerating northwards.

The two rifts are set to meet in a few weeks, experts estimate, which will lead to the iceberg calving, or being dislodged.

There is “no one reason” that can explain the calving at Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf, said Professor Benjamin Horton of Nanyang Technological University’s Asian School of the Environment.

Ice is melting everywhere, although the western Antarctic is the most sensitive and the fastest melting region, he said.