Monday, December 30, 2019

Chinese Restaurants Are Closing. That’s a Good Thing, the Owners Say.

The share of Chinese restaurants has fallen in metro areas across the country in the last five years. Many owners are glad their children won’t be taking over.
New York Times

By Amelia Nierenberg and Quoctrung Bui

Dec. 24, 2019

KINGSTON, N.Y. — More than 40 years after buying Eng’s, a Chinese-American restaurant in the Hudson Valley, Tom Sit is reluctantly considering retirement.

For much of his life, Mr. Sit has worked here seven days a week, 12 hours a day. He cooks in the same kitchen where he worked as a young immigrant from China. He parks in the same lot where he’d take breaks and read his wife’s letters, sent from Montreal while they courted by post in the late 1970s. He seats his regulars at the same tables where his three daughters did homework.

Two years ago, at the insistence of his wife, Faye Lee Sit, he started taking off one day a week. Still, it’s not sustainable. He’s 76, and they’re going to be grandparents soon. Working 80 hours a week is just too hard. But his grown daughters, who have college degrees and well-paying jobs, don’t intend to take over.

Bamboo rats – eco-friendly answer to growing appetites for meat?

Two vloggers may have found the perfect solution to China’s rising meat consumption – a critter some consider pests, the programme China’s Growing Appetite discovers.

China bamboo rats main

Bamboo rats are considered pests by farmers because they eat root crops. But now the rodents are being farmed for their meat.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A decade to remember: 10 news events that shaped Singapore from 2010 to 2019

By Kenneth Cheng

29 December, 2019

For Singapore, the past decade has been by turns turbulent, mournful and jubilant.

The 2010s bore witness to a brazen show of public disorder when a riot erupted in Little India. To a nation grieving the death of its founding prime minister. To an awe-inspiring 50th birthday bash. To Singapore’s first Olympic gold. The list runs on.

Summing up the decade, sociologist Tan Ern Ser of the National University of Singapore said a watershed General Election in 2011 — which saw the country’s ruling party record its lowest share of the vote since independence — was the first major event of the decade that underlined Singaporeans’ unhappiness with an influx of foreigners, among other things.

The cost of living and widening social inequality were also uppermost on people’s minds over the decade. Digital disruption has also gathered speed, with the attendant challenges making it more urgent for Singaporeans to sharpen their skills to ride out the industrial transformation taking root here and globally, said Associate Professor Tan.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Why we need to keep our memories of familiar Singapore places alive

By Prakash Nair

20 December, 2019

My full name — Prakash Kuttickattu House Ramanpillai Gokkallan Nair — is 47 letters long.

[Must be a joy filling up forms requiring full name as in NRIC. See below "About the Author" for a hint as to why he put his full name out.]

Most people know me as Prakash, and most people would consider Nair to be my surname. Gokkallan and Ramanpillai are my father’s and grandfather’s names respectively.

On the other hand, Kuttickattu (roughly meaning “small forest” in my mother tongue, Malayalam), is actually the name of my ancestral home in Kerala, India.

And it is from Kuttickattu that I write this piece.

Eruption of protests around the globe in 2019 could be the new norm

By Eugene K B Tan

18 December, 2019

2019 will be remembered as a year of mass street protests, including violent ones. The sharp disruptions to normalcy highlight the resistance to the dysfunctional status quo and the quest for political and socio-economic change in increasingly polarised societies.

While taking to the streets in protest is not new, this year’s unrest in at least 18 countries in different corners of the world is characterised by the breadth and intensity of the protests.  

What else can we glean from these protests and what do they say about governance today?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Explainer: How bickering over a carbon trading system led to the failure of international climate talks

By Navene Elangovan

18 December, 2019

On Sunday (Dec 15), an international meeting to push through bolder measures to tackle climate change fell through, after countries were unable to come to an agreement on the details.

The 2019 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, also known as COP25, was held in the Spanish capital of Madrid, and had brought together close to 200 countries over a span of two weeks to sort through the details of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change signed in 2016.

Despite running for two days longer than initially expected, making it the longest-running climate change conference in the UN’s history, little was achieved beyond broad statements calling for countries to do more to fight climate change by next year.

TODAY looks at what the COP25 was supposed to achieve, why it was so pressing to achieve these targets and what were the sticking points at the conference.

It’s 2020 — here comes the future

By Adrian W J Kuah

26 December, 2019

As someone who works in the field of scenario planning, I find that every end of year brings no shortage of amusement and more than a little dose of humility. This is because this is the season for us working in the field to review forecasts and predictions made 12 months earlier, and see how hilariously and hideously we got them mostly wrong.

In a matter of days, we will welcome 2020, marking not only the end of a year, but also an eventful decade.

More than that, 2020 is one of those time horizons that Generation Xers like myself thought would always be distant and mythical enough that it could be the basis for long-term scenarios.

Indeed, the first-ever set of national scenarios that the Singapore Government crafted more than two decades ago used the year 2020 to imagine the nation’s future. But more on that later.

Growing up, I always thought of “the future” as 2020. But now, here 2020 comes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How Trump lost his trade war

By Paul Krugman


17 December, 2019

Trade wars rarely have victors. They do, however, sometimes have losers. And United States President Donald Trump has definitely turned out to be a loser.

Of course, that’s not the way he and his team are portraying the tentative deal they’ve struck with China, which they’re claiming as a triumph. The reality is that the Trump administration achieved almost none of its goals; it has basically declared victory while going into headlong retreat.

And the Chinese know it. As The New York Times reports, Chinese officials are “jubilant and even incredulous” at the success of their hard-line negotiating strategy.

To understand what just went down, you need to ask what Mr Trump and company were trying to accomplish with their tariffs, and how that compares with what really happened.

First and foremost, Mr Trump wanted to slash the US trade deficit. Economists more or less unanimously consider this the wrong objective, but in Mr Trump’s mind countries win when they sell more than they buy, and nobody is going to convince him otherwise.

So it’s remarkable to note that the trade deficit has risen, not fallen, on Trump’s watch, from US$544 billion in 2016 to US$691 billion in the 12 months ending in October.

Friday, December 13, 2019

French exchange student at NUS gets scolded for questioning chicken rice stallholder about food’s origins

Jason Fan

December 10, 2019


Is it considered rude to ask your local hawkers where they source their food?

This was a question posed by an exchange student on NUSWhispers, an anonymous confessions platform that caters mainly to students from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Commentary: So this latest attempt at impeachment is rather awkward

By Edward Luce

11 Dec 2019

NEW YORK: History will record Dec 10, 2019 as the day Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats drew up articles of impeachment against Donald Trump.

But his decision to meet the same day with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, gave a clearer pointer about the tide of US politics.

Had Mr Trump been worried about being convicted in the upcoming Senate trial he would have avoided any contact with Russians.

As it happened, Ms Pelosi omitted direct reference to Mr Trump’s Russia ties. The impeachment articles focused on his “abuse of power” over Ukraine and “obstruction of Congress”.

Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation did not even merit a footnote. This allowed Mr Trump to declare victory on a report that he falsely claimed had exonerated him.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

China too distracted to worry about Taiwan, Taipei mayor says

05 Dec 2019

TAIPEI: China has too many other issues to worry about at the moment, from protests in Hong Kong to a slowing economy, to give much thought to Taiwan, the mayor of Taipei, sometimes seen as a potential future president, said on Thursday (Dec 5).

China claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own territory, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if necessary. It regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive issue in China-US ties, Washington being Taiwan's main arms supplier.

But Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, who has advocated for better relations with China, told Reuters that while Taiwan was important to China, it was not currently the "core issue" that Beijing likes to portray.

"They say that Taiwan is a core issue, but I'm very clear that it isn't. Taiwan is not China's core issue," he said.

"In comparison to Hong Kong, to Xinjiang, Taiwan is not on the top of the priority list. For mainland China, there are their economic problems, their GDP has already fallen to below 7 per cent," Ko added in an interview, where he switched between Mandarin and English.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

In calling for action on climate crisis, it is not enough to say ‘listen to the science’

By Sofiah Jamil

25 November, 2019

Within the span of a year, Greta Thunberg’s weekly lone ranger act of skipping school to stage a climate strike outside the Swedish parliament has spread globally into what is known as the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement. Despite being at the tender age of 16 and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Greta’s display of her commitment to the cause has been impressive.

By refusing environmental awards and refraining from travelling by air for international conferences, she has catapulted herself as a leading climate change campaigner, and earned audiences with various international leaders and politicians.

Her message to them: To “listen to the science”, and also understand the acuteness of impending environmental disasters.

Commentary: The Hong Kong Act complicates world’s most important relationship

By Tom Mitchell 

28 Nov 2019

BEIJING: In the end, it took only 20 years for US-China relations to come full circle.

Donald Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law will further complicate the world’s most important bilateral diplomatic relationship.


Under the Act, the US secretary of state is required to make a determination every year as to whether the “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees Hong Kong’s independent legal system and civil liberties is intact.

If it is not, the US could revoke special economic and commercial privileges that it extends to the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

That, in turn, has provoked a response from China and could enrage Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose administration insists that it continues to honour one country, two systems and is hypersensitive to any suggestions to the contrary.

Trump signs Hong Kong Bills; Beijing vows retaliation: Now what?

28 Nov 2019 

SHANGHAI: US President Donald Trump signed into law congressional Bills that back protesters in Hong Kong and threaten China with possible sanctions on human rights, prompting China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday (Nov 28) to warn of "firm countermeasures".

Mass protests for more democracy and autonomy have rocked the former British colony and more than 5,800 people have been arrested since June, with the escalating violence raising fears that China will ratchet up its response to end the unrest.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the Senate and House passed last week, puts the special treatment Hong Kong enjoys under US law under tighter scrutiny linked to the extent of the territory's autonomy from Beijing.

A second Bill, which Trump also signed, bans the export to the Hong Kong police of crowd-control munitions, such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns.