Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Rising costs, income uncertainty a worry for younger Singaporeans: MPs

By Faris Mokhtar

27 February, 2019

SINGAPORE — Young couples today are being “squeezed” financially as they start their own families due to rising costs and uncertainty over income, said Member of Parliament (MP) Ong Teng Koon on Wednesday (Feb 27).

He was among several MPs who raised issues that concern younger Singaporeans on the second day of the Budget debate in Parliament. Others also touched on mental health well-being and Singapore’s commitment to climate change as younger people become more environmentally-conscious.

Focusing on young couples in his speech, Mr Ong, the MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC), noted that they come under “intense financial pressure” as they have to cope with wedding expenses, purchasing their first marital home and starting a family.

[Wedding Expenses? That is entirely voluntary expense. Or rather, how much you want to splurge is entirely within your control. If you are financially squeezed, don't go for a lavish wedding. There is either NO correlation between the cost of a wedding, and the strength of the marriage. There may even be a inverse correlation.]
Pointing out that companies seem to be moving towards contract and freelance work, couples face uncertainty over income, said Mr Ong, who also noted that “retrenchment is also no longer a blue moon event”.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Nine out of 10 elderly buyers of two-room flexi units opt for shorter leases

By Janice Lim

24 February, 2019

SINGAPORE — A housing scheme that allows senior citizens to buy two-room flats on shorter leases has remained popular among the elderly, with nine out of 10 taking up the option, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Sunday (Feb 24).

Launched in 2015, the “2-room Flexi Scheme” lets elderly buyers pick a lease length that is best suited for their needs, as opposed to the full 99-year lease.

The lease length ranged between 15 and 45 years, with minimum lease periods differentiated based on the buyer’s age.

For example, an elderly buyer aged between 55 and 59 is only allowed to buy flats that have minimally 40 years of lease left.

A buyer who is 80 years old and above can opt to purchase a unit with just 15 years of lease left.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Will the GE be held in 2019 or 2020? We look at the case for each

By Faris Mokhtar

23 February, 2019

SINGAPORE — Amid earlier speculation that snap polls could be held this year, political analysts are divided on whether this year’s Budget provided sufficient hints of an imminent General Election (GE).

Traditionally, the presence of Budget goodies has been seen by some as an indication of an impending GE, with the Government sharing its surpluses with the people before its current term is up.

While Budget 2019contained what the analysts described as “generous” measures, some of those interviewed by TODAY expect the GE to be held next year, following a string of incidents since the turn of the year which could have affected public confidence.

These included the death of actor Aloysius Pang, which was the fourth NS training fatality in 16 months, SingPost’s postal service lapses, and the leak of confidential information of 14,200 individuals diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

While the Government has acted quickly to address the lapses, the analysts noted that it would take time to restore public confidence.

Murdoch University's Associate Professor Terence Lee, who researches Singapore and Malaysia politics, said he believed the Government had initially crafted Budget 2019 with a GE in mind, but had second thoughts after the recent incidents.

Bicentennial Bonus CPF top-up a nice gesture but won’t guarantee retirement adequacy: Expert

By Alfred Chua

22 February, 2019

SINGAPORE — Among the slew of announcements in the Budget earlier this week, one thing that stood out for financial experts was this: that there are some 300,000 Singaporeans aged between 50 and 64 who have less than S$60,000 in retirement savings in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat revealed this statistic in his Budget speech as he unveiled the Bicentennial Bonus, which among other things will provide a CPF top-up of up to S$1,000 to this group.

Based on data from the Department of Statistics, they make up a third of all Singaporeans aged 50 to 64.

Of the 300,000, 60 per cent are women, the Ministry of Finance told TODAY.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The $247 trillion global debt bomb


July 15, 2018
[Note date]

The untold story of the world economy — so far at least — is the potentially explosive interaction between the spreading trade war and the overhang of global debt, estimated at a staggering $247 trillion. That’s “trillion” with a “t.” The numbers are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.

It’s China’s Huawei against the world as spying concerns mount

17 FEBRUARY, 2019

HONG KONG — Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has been under intense scrutiny around the world in recent months amid concerns its technologies and products could be used for espionage by Beijing.

In December, its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States Justice Department on charges she helped the company evade US sanctions on Iran. Although she has denied any wrongdoing, Meng is currently awaiting extradition proceedings and a hearing has been set for March 6.

Here is a round-up of what the world thinks about Huawei:
(and my interpretation)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

First new-generation neighbourhood centre opens along Punggol Waterway


Raj Nadarajan/TODAYOasis Terraces, HDB’s first new generation neighbourhood centre in Punggol Drive, Feb 17, 2019.

17 FEBRUARY, 2019

SINGAPORE — Cascading garden terraces overlooking the Punggol Waterway, access to a polyclinic and childcare centre, and more than 100 shops across seven storeys — these are what Punggol residents can look forward to at their new neighbourhood centre.

What you can find on the dark web besides drugs and child porn: military secrets, stolen art and more

17 FEBRUARY, 2019

HONG KONG — Although most people have no idea how to access the dark web, their exposure on this hidden, crime-ridden corner of the internet continues to grow.

Six million hacked personal accounts were added to the dark web last week, adding to the 6.5 billion personal records already available in the internet’s netherworld, stolen from websites where internet users entrust their personal information every day.

This leaked data is passed around in forums where hackers gloat about their recent cybercrimes, and scammers go shopping for identities to steal.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Why Workfare works better for Singapore than a minimum wage


13 FEBRUARY, 2019

In recent months, there has been some discussion on whether Singapore should have a minimum wage and whether that would be better than the current Progressive Wage Model and the Workfare scheme.

Here, we will explain why Workfare is still a better scheme than a minimum wage.

As pure market forces will determine the prices of private goods and services as well as wages, government intervention in the labour market to set a minimum wage is usually deemed necessary only when there is some market failure.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

If we leave it to our kids to fix the planet, it may be too late

By Kim Stengert

06 February, 2019

The other day, sipping on my strawless kopi-o peng at Orchard Road I witnessed an army of National Environment Agency volunteers in white polo shirts walking down the street, checking for errant smokers outside of smoking areas marked by orange lines.

It is clear that when it comes to public health, the laws here are strict, and for good reason.

Globally, seven million deaths a year are linked to tobacco, and 1.6 millionto diabetes.

Now let me share another set of numbers: 6.1 million deaths are linked to air pollution and nearly 30 million people were affected by extreme weather events last year.

Environment-related threats impact us in a way that is as real and tangible as drugs and chemicals. Natural disasters like extreme weather events have escalated at an unnatural pace. New Zealand just named climate change as its “greatest security threat”.

But despite the imminent threat that environmental problems pose to humans, accountability for these problems has been murky and actions, downright passive.

China’s pigs are vanishing as consumers go the whole hog for leaner pork

Pigs are seen at a backyard farm on the outskirts of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China on September 5, 2018. Reuters file photo

06 February, 2019

HONG KONG — The Year of the Pig may be at hand, but in China the animals themselves — central to Chinese cuisine for thousands of years — are disappearing.

Across the country hog breeds are vanishing rapidly, taking with them some of China’s signature dishes and, more worryingly, exposing the remaining swine to increased risk of disease, agricultural specialists said.

As the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork, China has been domesticating pigs for 8,000 years.

But indigenous Chinese pig species dropped from 90 per cent of the market in 1994 to less than 2 per cent in 2007, the last year the Ministry of Agriculture made such figures available to the public.

Breeds like Jinhua and Chenghua, which used to be associated with specific regional dishes, have been depleted because of changing market demands and diets that have allowed Western breeds to increasingly take over the Chinese market.