Wednesday, June 16, 2021

IN FOCUS: How Johor’s residential property market has been hit hard by COVID-19

The Johor skyline is now dotted with empty condominium units, due to an oversupply in the market and lack of foreign buyers.

By Amir Yusof

12 Jun 2021 

JOHOR BAHRU: When Singapore business owner Jonathan Gan purchased a 4-room condominium at Lovell Country Garden in 2018, he thought he had clinched his dream retirement home.

The freehold apartment located near Johor Bahru’s city centre was twice the size of his 3-room HDB flat in Singapore, but the cost was only half of the latter when he bought it directly from the developers.

“The best thing about the unit is the amazing view. You never get anything close to it at such value in Singapore,” added the 42-year-old, who lives with his wife and two daughters.

The apartment, like most units in the Lovell development, overlooks the Straits of Johor. The balcony opens up to a picturesque sea view and there is a sandy beach below.

“It was the ideal weekend home,” said Gan. “But now it’s becoming a bugbear.”

Commentary: The trickiness of dealing with stray aircraft when territorial lines are grey

Malaysia’s encounter with Chinese military aircraft in early June illustrates how tackling foreign aircraft coming close can be a grey area in a region of overlapping claims and different interpretations of airspaces, says Mike Yeo.

By Mike Yeo

16 Jun 2021 

MELBOURNE: The news that China sent 16 military aircraft to the vicinity of disputed shoals in the South China Sea on the last day of May and prompted the latter to scramble fighter jets in response raised eyebrows among regional defence watchers.

This new development has also understandably set off discussions in Malaysia about its response to what was seen as a show of strength by the regional power.

Malaysia has framed the issue as one of an intrusion into Malaysian airspace by multiple Chinese government aircraft.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) said in a news release on Tuesday (Jun 2) that 16 Xian Y-20 and Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) approached to within 60 nautical miles (112 km) of Malaysia’s coast, flying at speeds of 290 knots (537 kmh) at between 23,000 and 27,000 ft in a tactical line astern formation.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also said his ministry will issue a diplomatic note of protest and request an explanation from the Chinese Ambassador from Malaysia to explain the “breach of Malaysian airspace and sovereignty”.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Commentary: How COVID-19 lab-leak theory went from conspiracy theory to politically accepted possibility

By Jemima Kelly

11 Jun 2021 

LONDON: The conversation around COVID-19’s origins has shifted markedly in recent weeks.

Suddenly, the idea that the virus could have come from an accidental lab leak, once dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”, is considered a possibility – even a likelihood, by some.

Fact-checking site PolitiFact recently decided to “archive” a fact-check it published last year on whether the virus was “man-made”, which it gave its most censorious “pants-on-fire!” rating, but which it now says is “more widely disputed”.

Likewise, The Washington Post issued a correction on a story it published in February 2020 on Republican senator Tom Cotton’s efforts to press China for evidence to back up its claims that the virus had emerged naturally.

The Post said he was repeating a “conspiracy theory that was already debunked”; it now acknowledges there is “no determination about the origins of the virus”.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Opinion: Xi’s China can’t seem to stop scoring own goals

Opinion by Fareed Zakaria

May 28, 2021 

In a country that is divided on almost everything, one area of bipartisanship in the United States is alive and growing — fear of China. “The Chinese are eating our lunch,” says President Biden. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri says they “are well on their way” to achieving their goal of world “domination.” Experts warn that China’s Belt and Road Initiative and vaccine diplomacy are bolstering its soft power.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

'Aghast and disappointed’: Koh Poh Koon slams doctors for spreading myths, untruths in open letter on Covid-19 vaccine


MAY 22, 2021

SINGAPORE — Referring to an open letter by 12 doctors to parents questioning the long-term safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use on children, Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon said he was “aghast and disappointed” by the doctors’ conduct.

In a Facebook post on Saturday (May 22), he wrote that the “unscientific and unprofessional” way in which these doctors had interpreted scientific evidence and conducted themselves had also “created confusion and fear” in the public. 

“It created confusion and fear in the public and propagated myths and untruths,” wrote Dr Koh, who is a colorectal surgeon.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of the two Covid-19 vaccines approved for use here, was earlier this week approved by the Health Sciences Authority to be safe for use for those between the ages of 12 and 15.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Tesla Drivers Test Autopilot’s Limits, Attracting Audiences—and Safety Concerns

Some users brag online about how they misuse their cars by tricking the driver-assistance system

By Katherine Bindley and
Rebecca Elliott

May 20, 2021 

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk for years has been championing his vehicles’ driver-assistance system called Autopilot and forecasting that self-driving cars are an emerging reality. Some would-be social media stars and Tesla owners can’t seem to wait.

Param Sharma, 25, has posted multiple videos to Instagram in which he appears to operate a Tesla while in the back seat with nobody at the wheel. Police in California arrested Mr. Sharma on May 10 for alleged reckless driving after an officer said he saw him operating a Tesla Model 3 from the back seat on a Bay Area highway.

Similar videos abound on social media, even though Tesla’s technology is intended only as a way to assist drivers, who are instructed to keep their hands on the wheel. Echoing Mr. Musk’s penchant for pushing the envelope, some Tesla drivers over years have created an online-video genre out of testing what’s possible with their vehicles, in some cases appearing to override safety functions to perform stunts that they post to YouTube or TikTok.

One TikTok user shared a video last year that appeared to depict a Tesla going more than 60 miles an hour on a highway with no one in the driver’s seat while its passengers drank hard seltzer and sang along to Justin Bieber. The video, which refers to the car as the designated driver, has 1.7 million likes. The video’s poster didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Commentary: Israel's master plan for Palestine has fail

The hope that the Palestinian issue was safely sidelined has proved to be a delusion, says the Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman.

19 May 2021

Gideon Rachman

LONDON: Until about a week ago, it looked like Benjamin Netanyahu had a good chance of disproving the adage that “all political careers end in failure”.

His grip on power in Israel was weakening. But even if he lost office, Netanyahu would still leave politics as Israel’s longest serving prime minister ever – and one of its most consequential.

Last year, Netanyahu secured a historic breakthrough in the Jewish state’s relations with the Arab world. The Abraham Accords normalised relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Israel under Netanyahu was at peace, prosperous and breaking out of its international isolation. The long and often bloody struggle with the Palestinians was out of the headlines.

A world-beating COVID-19 vaccination programme had further burnished the country’s image. There was just the small matter of avoiding conviction in a corruption trial and a possible jail sentence – and his legacy would be secure.