Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Raise CPF contribution rates for older workers to be on a par with younger workers: Study

By Faris Mokhtar

26 June, 2019

SINGAPORE — Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for older workers in Singapore should be raised so that they are on a par with the rates for younger workers, a new local study published on Wednesday (June 26) has recommended.

The aim of the move — lifting both employee and employer contribution rates — would be to encourage older workers to remain employed and to lift their savings for retirement, said the study from local think-tank, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

The question of contribution rates for older workers has been in the spotlight this year, with the Manpower Ministry set to unveil details of a review of raising the retirement and re-employment ages as well as the contribution rates in September.

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.