Sunday, June 28, 2020

What the pandemic reveals about the male ego

By Nicholas Kristof

The author noted that leaders who bungled the response were mostly a particular type: Authoritarian, vainglorious and blustering.


15 June, 2020

Are female leaders better at fighting a pandemic?

I compiled death rates from the coronavirus for 21 countries around the world, 13 led by men and eight by women. The male-led countries suffered an average of 214 coronavirus-related deaths per million inhabitants. Those led by women lost only one-fifth as many, 36 per million.

If the United States had the coronavirus death rate of the average female-led country, 102,000 American lives would have been saved out of the 114,000 lost.

“Countries led by women do seem to be particularly successful in fighting the coronavirus,” noted Anne W Rimoin, an epidemiologist at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

“New Zealand [4], Denmark [104], Finland [59], Germany [107], Iceland [29], Norway [45] have done so well perhaps due to the leadership and management styles attributed to their female leaders.”

Let’s start by acknowledging that there have been plenty of wretched female leaders over the years.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Trapped abroad, China’s ‘little pinks’ rethink their country

Young and patriotic, Chinese students abroad often defend their nation against its critics. But when many tried to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic, they became targets themselves.

26 June, 2020

NEW YORK — Mr James Liu has always considered himself a patriot.

With a lump in his throat, he watched a military parade on National Day, China’s birthday, that showed a once backward nation that had become strong and powerful. He got goose bumps watching “Wolf Warrior 2,” a “Rambo”-like Chinese blockbuster featuring a superhero veteran who single-handedly rescues his countrymen trapped abroad.

When China came under attack online, Mr Liu was one of the legions of Chinese students studying abroad who posted in its defense. He condemned the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which he saw as an effort to split a uniting China.

After US President Donald Trump called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus”, Mr Liu turned to Twitter to correct those who used the term.

“I was a real little pink,” he said, using a somewhat derogatory term for the young, Communist-red Chinese nationalists who use the internet as a patriotic battleground to fight those who disparage China.

GE2020: Political comeback unlikely, says former Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang

By Lianne Chia

By Afifah Ariffin 

27 Jun 2020

SINGAPORE: Former Workers' Party (WP) secretary-general Low Thia Khiang on Friday (Jun 26) said it was unlikely he would make a political comeback in the future.

This follows the announcement made by the party on Thursday that Mr Low would not contest the upcoming General Election.

In an interview with CNA, Mr Low said he was stepping down because he wanted to see a “more resilient” and younger WP team to build on the base formed by the party to “provide Singapore a more balanced political system and safeguard to Singaporeans”.

“If I were to one day offer myself as a candidate, it’s a back step,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see that, and I believe that it should not happen.”

Monday, June 22, 2020

We are not power crazy, say Pakatan Harapan leaders as they seek a common ground for PM candidate

22 Jun 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s opposition parties have denied that they are power crazy for their attempt to wrest back control in parliament, adding that Pakatan Harapan (PH) and its allies must work towards a common ground to reclaim electoral mandate.

The statement, jointly issued by Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) president Mohamad Sabu and Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Lim Guan Eng on Monday (Jun 22), came amid a difference of opinion within PH over the candidates for the prime minister post.

“We have been criticised for not quickly regaining our rightful government and yet when we find the only realistic route left for success we are criticised as power crazy. This is unfair because while we are not afraid to be in opposition, the rakyat (people) voted for us in 2018 to be in government,” the statement read.

PH was voted into Putrajaya in the 2018 general election with Dr Mahathir at the helm, but the administration collapsed in February after Mr Muhyiddin Yassin led Bersatu out of the coalition. Mr Muhyiddin, who is backed by Barisan Nasional and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, was sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister leading the Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact.

PH, which finds itself as the opposition coalition again, was strategising its moves to return to federal power but reached a stalemate when component parties and their allies could not agree over the candidacy for premiership.

Uncertain future as Covid-19 infection rate sets global records

22 June, 2020

HONG KONG — Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic and the good news is a number of countries are easing lockdown measures, allowing a semblance of what was normal life to return. The bad news is global infection numbers are surging.

The number of newly infected people set records on multiple days in June, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in the US. The World Health Organisation issued a telling statistic of its own, noting that 85,000 cases were reported in the first two months of the outbreak; in the past two months, it was 6 million. The WHO's grim figures coincided with a new flare-up of the disease in Beijing.

China, where the coronavirus was first identified at the end of last year, had earlier locked down a region of 60 million people and shut its borders to foreigners to control the disease. Even after those stringent measures, the virus surfaced again in the capital.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

China's young spenders say #ditchyourstuff as economy sputters

04 May, 2020

BEIJING - Tang Yue, a 27-year-old teacher from the city of Guilin in southwest China, steam-presses a blue dress and takes dozens of photographs before picking one to clinch her 200th online sale.

For a growing number of Chinese like Tang, hit by job losses, furloughs and salary cuts, the consumer economy has begun to spin in reverse. They are no longer buying - they are selling.

Instead of emerging from the coronavirus epidemic and returning to the shopping habits that helped drive the world's second-largest economy, many young people are offloading possessions and embracing a new-found ethic for hard times: less is more.

Break the China habit? Lobsters, lights and toilets show how hard it is

20 June, 2020

NEW YORK — As the coronavirus pandemic amplifies long-standing concerns over the world’s economic dependence on China, many countries are trying to reduce their exposure to Beijing’s brand of business.

Japan has set aside US$2.2 billion (S$3.06 billion) to help companies shift production out of China. European trade ministers have emphasised the need to diversify supply chains. Several countries, including Australia and Germany, have moved to keep China, among others, from buying businesses weakened by lockdowns. Hawks in the Trump administration also continue to press for an economic “decoupling” from Beijing.

But outside government circles, in the companies where the decisions about manufacturing and sales are actually made, the calculations are more complex.

China is a hard habit to break.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Commentary: Is this the end of China’s peaceful rise?

China’s latest military stand-off with India suggests that it wants to demonstrate its power to the world, says Shashi Tharoor.

By Shashi Tharoor

15 Jun 2020 

A Chinese soldier (left) and an Indian soldier stand guard on the remote Nathu La border
crossing between India and China in July 2008. (AFP/DIPTENDU DUTTA)

A Chinese soldier (left) and an Indian soldier
NEW DELHI: COVID-19 isn’t the only threat that has crossed India’s borders this year.

According to alarming reports from India’s defence ministry, China has deployed a “significant number” of troops across the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the countries’ Himalayan frontier.

So far, these transgressions have occurred at four points on the world’s longest and most highly disputed border, with thousands of Chinese troops showing up in Sikkim and in parts of the Ladakh region, northeast of the Kashmir Valley.

Neither government disputes the fact that Chinese soldiers have occupied territory that India considers its own.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Covid-19: Less air pollution means thousands fewer die

30 April, 2020

PARIS — There will be 11,000 fewer deaths in European countries under coronavirus lockdown due to a sharp drop in fossil fuel pollution during April, according to research released Friday (April 30).

Measures to halt the spread of coronavirus have slowed the region's economies to a crawl, with coal-generated power falling by nearly 40 per cent, and oil consumption by a third.

"This will result in 11,000 avoided deaths from air pollution," said lead author Lauri Myllyvirta, senior analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Commentary: China’s removal of GDP targets reveals its new economic strategy

China can now focus on critical economic issues and accommodate the realities of a post-coronavirus world, says Principal Global Investors’ Binay Chandgothia.

By Binay Chandgothia

04 Jun 2020 

SINGAPORE: The removal of a GDP growth target for China is sensible, given the current circumstances, as setting a lower, more feasible target may have sent negative signals to global markets.

Released from its GDP target, China can now focus on critical issues facing the economy – such as employment, social stability and national security – and begin to accommodate the realities of a world that has only just started limping back to normality following COVID-19 related disruptions.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Commentary: No country will survive deglobalisation

Building resilience in the current open system does not mean tearing down the entire system and starting over again, says Professor Kenneth Rogoff.
By Kenneth Rogoff

06 Jun 2020

CAMBRIDGE – The post-pandemic world economy seems likely to be a far less globalised economy, with political leaders and publics rejecting openness in a manner unlike anything seen since the tariff wars and competitive devaluations of the 1930s.

And the by-product will be not just slower growth, but a significant fall in national incomes for all but perhaps the largest and most diversified economies.

In his prescient 2001 book The End of Globalization, the Princeton economic historian Harold James showed how an earlier era of global economic and financial integration collapsed under the pressures of unexpected events during the Great Depression of the 1930s, culminating in World War II.

George Floyd 2020

[First, Trevor Noah explains the riots.]

Friday, June 5, 2020

Singapore bank deposits jump as Hong Kong, COVID-19 sow uncertainty

05 Jun 2020

SINGAPORE: A record jump in money flowing into Singapore bank accounts from abroad underlines the country's safe haven appeal during the COVID-19 pandemic and political uncertainty in rival financial centre Hong Kong, analysts say.

Singapore fiercely competes with Hong Kong as Asia's premier wealth centre and generally attracts capital flows during regional turmoil due to its political stability and AAA credit rating.
Deposits from non-residents into Singapore's banks jumped 44 per cent to a record S$62.14 billion (US$44.37 billion) in April from a year earlier, marking the fourth straight monthly rise, central bank data showed.

Deposits have risen in all but one month over the past year, a period marked by escalating political unrest in Hong Kong, a Sino-US trade row and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Commentary: Could Donald Trump not run for re-election?

With riots in the streets and the COVID-19 death toll rising, Trump doubles down on his 2016 anti-establishment strategy. But the odds are stacked against him, say Steven R Okun and Thurgood Marshall Jr.
By Steven R Okun

By Thurgood Marshall Jr

05 Jun 2020

SINGAPORE: Five months from election day, Donald Trump faces possibly the most daunting challenge ever for a sitting US president running for re-election.

A collapsing economy. Over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. Riots across the country.

A disapproval rating higher at this stage in a presidency than that of any of his post-World War II predecessors.

Donald Trump had a very narrow path to victory in 2016, but he successfully “threaded the needle” in the electoral college against a historically unpopular opponent while losing the overall vote by nearly 3 million.

There is no chance he wins a majority of the vote this time. In big blue states like California and New York, he could lose by better than two to one. A realistic loss in the popular vote could be by 4 to 5 million votes.

[That was also the conventional wisdom in 2016...]

‘Foreign interference’ in Hong Kong: Understanding China’s own history of doing so

By Dylan M H Loh & Chen Hao

15 November, 2019

A common refrain from Beijing on the ongoing protests, demonstrations and marches regarding the proposed Extradition Bill that have rocked Hong Kong since March 2019 is the claim that “external forces” are driving the protests.

The “black hands” of foreign Western interference, it is purported, are supplying the knowledge, resources and finance to sustain the movement.

Indeed, the passing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the United States’ House of Representatives on Oct 15 certainly gives the mainland government more fodder for this view.

The veracity of these allegations aside, we point to the often-elided historical antecedents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Hong Kong to understand the frequent references to “foreign interference” in the former British colony: The CCP’s own interventions in British Hong Kong.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Why in a cheap food paradise, some Singaporeans are still going hungry

16 Feb 2020

A cleaner unable to work, a family with a 4-room flat, a single dad in debt – those experiencing food insecurity are more diverse than you think. Here’s what they’re going through, in the first of a 2-part special report.

By Goh Chiew Tong

By Christy Yip

By Corine Tiah

The Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow

The first thing you should know? The dates, as we know them, have nothing to do with safety. J. Kenji López-Alt explains.

Credit...Jonathan Carlson

By J. Kenji López-Alt

April 14, 2020

With most of us quarantined in our homes, chances are you’ve been reacquainting yourself with the forgotten spices and fusty beans from the depths of your pantry. But how fusty is too fusty? When is the right time to throw something out? And what about fresh ingredients? If I’m trying to keep supermarket trips to a minimum, how long can my eggs, dairy and produce keep?

Here’s the first thing you should know: Expiration dates are not expiration dates.

3 reasons why Singapore is the smartest city in the world

14 Nov 2019

Sharmishta Sivaramakrishnan
Community Specialist, 
Young Global Leaders - Asia, World Economic Forum Geneva

It’s official: Singapore is the world’s smartest city. That’s according to a new survey Published by Swiss business school IMD and the Singapore University of Technology and Design - the IMD Smart Cities Index - which looked at how well cities are adopting digital technologies and improving the lives of the people who live there.

What is a smart city?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Commentary: Soon you may be competing with talent globally. The Fortitude Budget is a wake-up call

The huge spike in global unemployment and the rising trend of permanent remote working could buck the anti-globalisation shift that was highlighted in the Fortitude Budget, says employment and labour lawyer Amarjit Kaur.

By Amarjit Kaur

02 Jun 2020

SINGAPORE: Prior to COVID-19, few would have imagined that at least 80 per cent of Singapore’s working population, if not more, need not physically be at the office to do their jobs.

Employers – some of whom are my clients - were sceptical about how work could be done remotely, and were resistant to the concept of working from home (WFH).

They have since expressed surprise that employees can be just as productive, if not more, while WFH. Conversely, there are others employers who believe that remote working has led to a loss of efficiency and are waiting with baited breath for employees to return to the office.