Friday, December 31, 2021

Commentary: Joe Biden is missing the opportunity to reset 50-year progress in US-China relations

The US is no longer the world hegemon, but behaves as if it is in dealing with China, say Hong Kong observers.

United States President Joe Biden listens as he meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the 
Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on Nov 15, 2021. (File photo: AP/Susan Walsh)

Andrew Sheng

Xiao Geng

30 Dec 2021

HONG KONG - Next year will mark 50 years since US President Richard Nixon travelled to China to meet with Communist Party of China Chairman Mao Zedong and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai - a major step toward restoring relations after decades of estrangement and hostility.

A half-century later, the progress they launched has been all but lost, and US President Joe Biden is partly to blame.

The ideological differences between the United States and China in 1972 could not have been starker. But both sides recognised the vast benefits of a détente.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Commentary: Myths about the South China Sea stoke tensions with Beijing

A major shipping route, yes, but vital? False claims about the value of these waters only make diplomacy harder, says an economist.

John Quiggin

29 Dec 2021

BRISBANE: US officials regularly present China as an aggressive and expansionist military power while Chinese state sources criticise the United States in similar terms.

The verbal sparring has only increased concern about the prospect of a future war between China and the United States

The most likely casus belli is seen as arising either from an attempt by China to take control of shipping routes and disputed territory in the South China Sea, or from an attempt to forcibly reincorporate Taiwan into the People’s Republic of China.

Tension has been stoked by a series of myths about the South China Sea. Five of these shibboleths in particular should be refuted.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Dark shades, beige berets, submachine guns: The police counterterrorism unit made up mostly of NSFs

Police officers from the Protective Security Command (ProCom) clearing a room. (Photo: Calvin Oh/CNA)

Aqil Haziq Mahmud

19 Dec 2021

SINGAPORE: On Dec 29, 2019, Inspector (INSP) Herman Mohamed Sidek was on a regular patrol with three other police officers – all full-time national servicemen (NSF) – near Paragon shopping centre when he heard a loud bang in the direction of Lucky Plaza nearby.

“We thought that something exploded,” the 43-year-old regular from the Protective Security Command (ProCom) told reporters on Thursday (Dec 16). “So, my first thought was to run (to the incident).”

Friday, December 17, 2021

Commentary: All I want this Christmas is an end to eco-friendly gifts

Metal straws or bamboo cutlery don’t move the needle on the waste problem, says CNA’s Erin Low.

Reusable straws at a bulk store. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

Erin Low

17 Dec 2021 

SINGAPORE: Shopping for Christmas gifts? Please take my advice: Do not buy reusable straws. Or anything reusable, really.

My kitchen cabinets are spilling over with sustainable stuff: Glass tupperware, beeswax wraps, grocery bags and more.

Of metal straws, I have a silver one, a chrome blue one, a multicoloured one, and a golden one with a crook on top so it looks like a bendy straw – but because it can't actually bend, it always catches on my drawer whenever someone opens it.

To add to the clutter, each straw comes with a thin brush that can be slipped in to clean the inside. They resemble tiny toilet brushes but serve no other purpose.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Taiwan says it is confident Chinese invasion would be very hard

Pilot and navy officers pose in front of an F-16V fighter at the commission of the first squadron of the upgraded
F-16V fighters in Chiayi Air Force Base, Chiayi, Taiwan, Nov 18, 2021. (File photo: REUTERS/Ann Wang)

13 Dec 2021

TAIPEI: A full Chinese invasion of Taiwan with troops landed and ports and airports seized would be very difficult to achieve due to problems China would have in landing and supplying troops, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said in its latest threat assessment.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Commentary: China's economy is faltering. The world just doesn't know it yet

As China's run of constant exponential economic growth hints at coming to an end, Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma explains why its effect on the global economy will be underwhelming.

Ruchir Sharma

08 Dec 2021

NEW YORK CITY: China’s surprisingly rapid slowdown is eliciting familiar warnings that, as China goes, so goes the global economy. Only China may not matter as much as it once did.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Where does the truth lie? Comparing the accounts of Raeesah Khan and WP chief Pritam Singh


DECEMBER 04, 2021

  • A special report by Parliament’s privileges committee on Dec 3 revealed what transpired in the run-up to former Workers’ Party MP Raeesah Khan’s resignation 
  • This was over a lie she made in Parliament on Aug 3
  • In several areas, however, Ms Khan's account to the commitee differed from assertions made by WP chief Pritam Singh at a press conference on Dec 2

SINGAPORE — New revelations emerged late on Friday (Dec 3) in a special report by Parliament’s Committee of Privileges that shone a light on what transpired in the run-up to former Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament Raeesah Khan’s resignation over a lie she made in the House.

The report, presented to Parliament on the same day, set out Ms Raeesah’s testimony that WP’s leaders had told her to stick to the lie she made during a sitting of Parliament on Aug 3.

Testifying under oath before the committee on Thursday and Friday, Ms Raeesah said that she was told by WP chief Pritam Singh, chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chairman Faisal Manap that if she and the party could get away with it, there was no need to clarify the lie.

In several areas, her account differed from assertions made by Mr Singh at a press conference on Thursday — raising fresh questions over what led Ms Raeesah to persist with the lie before she made her confession to Parliament on Nov 1.

Former Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament Raeesah Khan (left) testifying before Parliament's Committee of Privileges on Dec 2, 2021. WP chief Pritam Singh (right) speaking at a press conference on the same day.

Here is a comparison of their accounts, based on what Mr Singh said at the press conference and what Ms Raeesah told the committee:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Commentary: Singapore’s plans to import clean electricity could meet resistance abroad

Importing electricity helps Singapore meet energy needs and climate goals, but such plans are contingent on benign political conditions within exporting countries, say researchers.

Quah Say Jye

Kevin Chen

29 Oct 2021 

SINGAPORE: As COP26 approaches, Singapore has made several announcements regarding plans to decarbonise its energy sector.

Chief among them is its plan to import 30 per cent of its electricity from low-carbon or renewable sources by 2035.

Amid the global energy crunch and disruptions to the local electricity retail market, Singapore’s plans to diversify its energy sources are a welcome development.

However, purchasing electricity overseas exposes Singapore to the internal political dynamics of its partners.

Importing electricity is not simply a convenience for Singapore, but a necessary measure to meet its electricity needs and climate goals.

Around 95 per cent of Singapore’s electricity supply is dependent on imports of natural gas.

Plans to indigenously produce renewable energy through rooftop and floating solar installations are important steps but would at best fulfil 4 per cent of the island’s electricity needs by 2030.

3D-printed steaks are now being served at restaurants across Europe

Redefine Meat, an Israeli fake meat startup, plans to expand beyond these 30+ restaurants, and eventually into grocery stores.

NOVEMBER 17, 2021



Frankly, we don’t talk often enough about the versatility of 3D printers: They can produce mechanical parts, figurines, housing developments, and...also…steak.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

7 reasons global transport is so hard to decarbonise


NOVEMBER 12, 2021

Even if current and committed emission policies were to succeed, transport’s carbon emissions would still grow almost 20 per cent by 2050.

Transport accounts for 21 per cent of global carbon emissions.

It is now the largest emitting sector in many developed countries. While Europe and North America dominate historic transport emissions, much of the projected growth in emissions is in Asia.

Even if current and committed policies were to succeed, transport’s carbon emissions would still grow almost 20 per cent by 2050.

Highly ambitious policies could cut these emissions by 70 per cent — but not to zero.

Here are seven reasons global transport is particularly hard to decarbonise.\

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Commentary: Worrying signs COP26 is being set up for failure

There are worrying signs to suggest these most consequential of climate change talks are being set up for failure, says a climate researcher.

Anthony Burke

30 Oct 2021

CANBERRA: In just days, the most consequential climate meeting in human history begins in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Earth has warmed by up to 1.3 degrees Celsius since 1880. Devastating fires, cyclones and weather are wreaking havoc around the world.

And current emissions trends put the world on a path toward 3 degrees Celsius of catastrophic heating by 2100, which would trigger tipping points such as the melting of the poles, the loss of the Amazon rainforest, and a drastic slowdown in the Atlantic ocean circulation.

Under the Paris Agreement, this year countries must submit new nationally determined commitments (NDCs) to reduce emissions consistent with holding global heating well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.

Yet a recent United Nations assessment of existing NDCs estimates that they will only hold heating to 2.7 degrees Celsius – and then only if they are implemented. The UN’s recent Production Gap report, which finds that countries are planning to produce 190 per cent more fossil fuels by 2040 than is consistent with the 1.5 degrees Celsius guardrail, puts the sincerity of these commitments in doubt.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Plans to import 30% of S’pore’s energy from low-carbon sources by 2035: EMA


OCTOBER 25, 2021

SINGAPORE — Plans are afoot to diversify Singapore’s power supply, as well as lower the nation’s carbon footprint by importing around 30 per cent of its energy from low-carbon sources by 2035.

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced on Monday (Oct 25) during the Singapore International Energy Week that it will be issuing two requests for proposals for up to 4 gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon electricity imports.

The authority said the first request for proposal will be launched in November this year and it will begin importing up to 1.2 GW of electricity by 2027.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

“Heard of Abu Nuwas liquor?”: Siti Kasim shares her thoughts on the Timah controversy

By G Vinod

19 Oct 2021

WITH the Timah whiskey controversy riling up the right-wing movements in Malaysia, a lawyer-activist told the latter of how the Arab world itself has its own popular alcoholic beverage.

According to Siti Kasim, Haddad Distilleries of Jordan is selling their own alcoholic beverage called Abu Nuwas Arak.

“The name denotes Abu Nuwas, a weird drunk poet who lived during the time of the Abbasid Caliphate. He was born in Iran, in 756, but died in Iraq, in 814. He lived during the reign of Caliph Harun Al Rashid and was even mentioned in the popular Arabic tale, One Thousand and One Nights.

“The man was also said to be a hafiz (those who memorised the al-Quran),” she said in a Facebook post.

Recently, the award-winning local liquor brand Timah got embroiled in a controversy after several groups called it being disrespectful to the Malays and Muslims.

Majlis Perundingan Pertubuhan Islam Malaysia (MAPIM) president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said that using the name Timah for a whiskey brand was insulting Muslims, claiming Timah was short for Fatimah, who was Prophet Muhammad’s daughter.

He also argued that the image of the bearded man on the bottle resembled a Muslim man in a kopiah.

“More insolent is the liquor’s advertisement uses the image of a man in kopiah with a long beard as if showing the someone with Muslim image is promoting liquor,” Azmi was reported saying.

Surprisingly, even the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) took offence to the whiskey brand, claiming it was insulting to Muslims.

“Apart from the alcohol content, CAP does not understand how the ministry could approve the name and image (of the product) which can cause anger,” its education officer NV Subbarow added.

However, the company shot back at its critics by saying that the man featured on the bottle was not a Muslim man but a British officer named Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy, or more popularly known as Captain Speedy.

Arab man’s face on Abu Nuwas Arak

Speedy served in British Malaya from 1861 to 1874 as an administrator to restore order during the Larut wars in Perak. He was also credited of bringing the whiskey culture in the local tin mining sector back then.

“And the word Timah is a local word meaning tin. The name ‘Timah Whiskey’ harks back to the tin mining era during British Malaya. Any interpretation of our name unrelated to Malaysian mining is false,” it mentioned.

On MAPIM’s argument that attributing the word Timah to a whiskey was offensive, Siti Kasim pointed out that the Abu Nawas liquor has Arabic script on it, complete with an Arab man’s face attached to the bottle.

“If our religious fellows read all these, they will tear off in rage their beards, the hairs from their armpits, pubic areas, nostrils and if they can reach for it, their anal hairs,” she added in jest. – Oct 19, 2021.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Commentary: Japan’s baby bust should force a rethink about demanding jobs and never-ending growth

Efforts to boost Japan’s low fertility rate will not solve near term labour shortages and other pressing burdens without embracing a new mindset, says a professor.

Rapidly-greying Japan has one of the world's lowest birth rates (Photo: AFP/KAZUHIRO NOGI)

Chelsea Szendi Schieder

17 Oct 2021 

TOKYO: Japan has been declared the world’s first super-aged society and a pioneer shrinking society, rapidly inverting the demographic pyramid upon which the modern state has been built.

Since 1989, when the low fertility rate of 1.57 became a major social concern, numbers have continued to trend downward. In June 2020, the Japanese government announced the preliminary results of the 2020 census, revealing that the number of births in that year was the lowest on record.

Covid Deaths in Singapore - First Half of October

May be an image of text that says "SINGAPORE COVID-19 DEATHS IN OCT 2021 As of Oct 14, 2021 15 Unvaccinated 14 Partially Partialyva Vaccinated 13 12 10 8 of Numbe Oct1 3 8 Infographic: Kenneth Choy Source: Ministry Health 10 11 12 13 14 A cna"

Friday, October 15, 2021

Singapore studying how to expand wealth tax system as it relooks fiscal strategies: Lawrence Wong

Tang See Kit
15 Oct 2021 

SINGAPORE: Singapore continues to study how it can expand its wealth tax system as the country re-examines its fiscal strategies in the face of key challenges such as inequality and climate change, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday (Oct 15).

Speaking at the 35th Singapore Economic Roundtable organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, Mr Wong said Singapore has succeeded so far in running a prudent and effective fiscal policy.

He said the task at hand will only become harder with three key challenges - inequality, a rapidly ageing population and climate change - that will determine the trajectory of the country’s fiscal strategies.

[This is just the start of the news article as it does not have any proposals or suggestions as to how the tax system could be revised. Merely a speech on what Singapore is looking to do.]

Fourteen US attorneys general press Facebook on vaccine disinformati

15 Oct 2021 

WASHINGTON: The attorneys general of 14 US states sent a letter to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg asking if the top disseminators of vaccine disinformation on the platform received special treatment from the company.

The line of inquiry was generated after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen used internal documents to disclose that the social media platform has built a system that exempts high-profile users from some or all of its rules.

In the letter, which was sent on Wednesday (Oct 13), the 14 Democratic attorneys general said they are "extremely concerned" with recent reports that Facebook maintained lists of members who have received special treatment, and want to know if the "Disinformation Dozen" were part of those lists.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate describes the "Disinformation Dozen" as 12 anti-vaxxers who are responsible for almost two-thirds of anti-vaccine content circulating on social media platforms.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Commentary: Why is Bitcoin appealing to many despite the risks and uncertainties?

Is Bitcoin worth investing in? And will it really confer gains on people now that it’s reached new highs? MIT economist Daron Acemoglu unpacks its upsides and risks.

A sign reads, "Bitcoin accepted here", outside a store where the cryptocurrency is accepted
as a payment method in San Salvador, El Salvador on Sep 24, 2021.
(File photo: REUTERS/Jose Cabezas)

Daron Acemoglu

11 Oct 2021 

CAMBRIDGE: With the price of Bitcoin reaching new highs, and El Salvador and Cuba deciding to accept it as legal tender, cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

What implications will this have for money and politics?

Money depends on trust. It is accepted in exchange for goods and services only because people can confidently assume that others will accept it in the future.

This is as true for the US dollar as it is for gold. To argue that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are merely a confidence game – or a speculative bubble, as many economists have emphasised – is to ignore their popularity.

And yet, cryptocurrencies lack the stable institutional foundations needed to bolster the public’s trust in them. Trust thus ebbs and flows, making them fragile and volatile, as Bitcoin’s wild gyrations have amply demonstrated.

Moreover, with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that rely on “proof-of-work” mechanisms, transactions must be continuously verified and logged in a decentralised ledger (in this instance based on blockchain).

This requires millions of computers to operate continuously to update and verify transactions – work that is incentivised by the opportunity to be rewarded with newly minted Bitcoin.

The energy consumed in these “mining” operations now exceeds that of a medium-sized country like Malaysia or Sweden. Now that the world has awoken to the dangers of climate change (and to the paltriness of our response to it so far), this massive waste should make Bitcoin highly unattractive.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Separation of powers, rule of law fundamental principles but need to ‘look at what works’: Shanmugam


OCTOBER 05, 2021

  • The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act was passed into law after an almost 11-hour debate
  • The debate saw Workers’ Party MPs moot amendments to the law, including a key push for judicial review by the courts
  • Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said he agreed with the party on the principles but exceptions need to be made in some situations
  • Most of the party's proposals were rejected except for one
  • 11 parliamentarians voted against the Bill and two Nominated MPs abstained from voting

SINGAPORE — Singapore will not be where it is today if the People’s Action Party (PAP) Government did not uphold the fundamental principles of separation of powers and the rule of law, but it is necessary to “get out of this colonisation of our minds... (and) look at what works”, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said.

Mr Shanmugam was responding on Monday (Oct 4) to the Workers’ Party (WP) as he wrapped up a marathon debate on the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act, or Fica. The debate started around 12.30pm and ended almost 11 hours later.

In that time, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and several fellow WP Members of Parliament (MPs) spoke at length on the opposition party’s key proposal: For judicial oversight of the new law.

Mr Shanmugam said that the PAP Government agrees with WP on the importance of the principles but it differs on where exceptions need to be made.

Parliament repeals Sedition Act, amends Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to cover relevant aspects

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam in Parliament on Oct 5, 2021.

Cindy Co
05 Oct 2021

SINGAPORE: Parliament voted to repeal the Sedition Act on Tuesday (Oct 5), while amending the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to cover aspects of the Act that “continue to be relevant”.

The Sedition Act has been in existence since 1938, and criminalises conduct with seditious tendencies including promoting disaffection against the Government and feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes.

Some aspects of the Sedition Act are “no longer relevant and have not been relevant for a long time”, Law Minister K Shanmugam told the House on Tuesday.

“For instance, the excitement of disaffection against the Government shouldn’t be criminalised. I think if it is, a lot of people, including many in this house, would be considered criminals.

“But it hasn’t been done away with sooner, because some of the other provisions were relevant,” said Mr Shanmugam, who is also Minister for Home Affairs.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

South Dakota - Tax Haven?

[From The Washington Post Daily 202 newsletter:]

"...the rise of the Mount Rushmore state — and several others — as a harbor for shielding global wealth is interesting inasmuch as America has always lectured smaller countries about the necessity of unimpeachable financial hygiene and transparency...

From Sioux Falls, S.D., my colleagues Debbie Cenziper, Will Fitzgibbon, and Salwan Georges reported on a seven-year-old financial firm called “Trident Trust” that enticed clientele with “The South Dakota Advantage” — essentially laws making it easier to hide who owns what and where. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Commentary: Is China’s economic growth model superior and worth copying?

Should US leaders emulate Chinese policies to back firms in strategic industries to strengthen the country’s hand? Chang-Tai Hsieh explains what’s really powering China’s industrial policy.

Chang-Tai Hsieh
03 Oct 2021

CHICAGO, Illinois: US political leaders have long tried to counter Chinese industrial policy. And now they seem to have decided that the best way to do that is to emulate it.

But their agenda betrays a profound lack of understanding of the unique challenge posed by China’s coupling of an centralised political regime with a dynamic market economy.

Millions of Chinese firms, including some of the world’s most innovative, are occasionally asked to serve the regime’s political objectives – an unprecedented marriage of pioneering private companies and a Leninist one-party state.

Western countries cannot match it, and should not begin to try. But much of the US economic policy response to China is misdirected.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Singapore addresses death penalty, foreign interference law during UN human rights review

Freedom of assembly, LGBT issues and conscientious objection were also discussed in Singapore's national statement.

Ng Hong Siang

02 Oct 2021

SINGAPORE: Singapore can support 210 out of 324 recommendations it received in the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council's universal periodic review (UPR), the country's Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva, Ambassador Umej Bhatia said on Friday (Oct 1).

The outcome of the review, which happens every five years and is Singapore's third, was adopted on Friday.

Singapore's national statement during the adoption also addressed the Government's position on the death penalty, freedom of assembly, LGBT issues and the draft Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

3 more seniors die from COVID-19 complications in Singapore; 120 new locally transmitted cases

27 Aug 2021 

SINGAPORE: Three more senior citizens have died of complications from COVID-19, bringing Singapore's death toll from the virus this month to 18.

All three cases were not vaccinated against COVID-19, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its daily update on Friday (Aug 27).

Two of the cases died on Thursday.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Transition to cleaner energy will involve 'trade-offs', EMA to reduce cost impact where feasible: C

Matthew Mohan

16 Aug 2021

SINGAPORE: Trade-offs are inevitable as Singapore transitions to cleaner energy, but the Energy Market Authority (EMA) will seek to manage this and minimise the impact of costs where feasible, its CEO Ngiam Shih Chun told CNA.

[Translation: It's gonna get expensive.]

Mr Ngiam noted that the "four switches of supply" – natural gas, solar, regional power grids and emerging low-carbon alternatives – will aid Singapore with such a transition. However, he pointed out this could result in higher energy costs.

"While the four switches will help us transition to cleaner energy, this transition will inevitably involve trade-offs. For example, as we tap onto regional power grids and other low-carbon technologies, energy costs may increase," he said in an email interview.

Mr Ngiam noted that low electricity prices are not "commercially viable" for power generation companies in the long run.

[Translation: we have to increase prices to cover costs.]

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

69-year-old Singaporean man dies of Covid-19 complications; 6th such death in August as death toll hits 43


AUGUST 11, 2021

SINGAPORE — A 69-year-old Singaporean man died on Wednesday (Aug 11) from complications due to Covid-19.

In a media statement, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the man developed symptoms on July 28 and was admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital the next day where he tested positive for Covid-19 infection.

“He had not been vaccinated against Covid-19, and had a history of stroke, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia,” MOH said.

Hyperlipidaemia, a blood condition, is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke.

This is the sixth death from Covid-19 this month. The first was a 34-year-old Ukrainian man who died on Aug 1 while the fifth death this month was an 80-year-old Singaporean woman who died on Aug 7.

There are now 43 people here who have died in Singapore after contracting the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Singapore recorded 63 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total tally to 65,953 since the outbreak began.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Singapore studies latest UN’s climate change report as it continues to plan and implement adaptation measure

Vanessa Lim

09 Aug 2021 

SINGAPORE: The Centre for Climate Research Singapore is studying findings from the UN’s latest climate change report to see how they impact Singapore and to inform its policy recommendations.

On Monday (Aug 9), the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a major report detailing the latest scientific assessments of climate change. It is the first of three reports which will make up the panel’s Sixth Assessment Report.

The panel’s key findings include the clear influence of humans on climate change, resulting in the warming of the atmosphere, ocean and land.

It warned that unless deep – and quick – cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are made, global surface temperatures will cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement sometime in the early 2030s.

In the most aggressive emission scenario, the world could exceed that mark by the end of this decade.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

American Prof: SGs should think again when they complain, given that SG a “pretty good place to live”


In an opinion piece published by the Straits Times on Sat, American Prof Peter Coclanis wrote that Singaporeans should think again when they complain, given that Singapore is a “pretty good place to live”, all things considered (‘Singaporeans, you think you’ve got problems? Think again‘, 31 Jul).

Prof Coclanis is Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History and director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has lived and taught in Singapore, and often visits Singapore.

“It doesn’t take a visitor long to appreciate the fact that Singaporeans are perhaps most comfortable while complaining and, as a result, have developed the verbal remonstrance into something akin to an art form – or national sport,” Prof Coclanis pointed out.

‘This business trip could have been a Zoom call’: Companies rethink travel

AUGUST 08, 2021

NEW YORK — Boeing chief executive officer David Calhoun has access to company aircraft as part of his job. Even so, he told an interviewer that he didn’t expect to fly nearly as much for internal company meetings after the pandemic.

Mr Calhoun, like some of his peers, found that video calls were remarkably effective for checking in with colleagues, allowing him to pack in more meetings and schedule them with minimal advance notice, according to an account in “Leading at a Distance,” a recent book by authors James Citrin and Darleen DeRosa.

“I will do as much or more customer travel, because that’s still the most important way to build relationships,” Mr Calhoun told them. “But most travel when leading big companies is visiting your own teams. I won’t be doing that nearly as much.”

There’s broad consensus that how often we fly for work and what we travel for will shift significantly post-pandemic.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Not yet time to consider making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory: Ong Ye Kung


JULY 26, 2021

  • Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said it was not yet time for the Government to think about making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory
  • The vaccines were being rolled out under a scheme for emergency authorisation in the pandemic, he said
  • When Covid-19 becomes an endemic disease, governments around the world may consider making vaccination mandatory, he added

SINGAPORE — It is not yet time for the Government to think about making Covid-19 jabs mandatory as they are being rolled out under emergency authorisation, though perhaps it is a policy that “governments around the world will have to consider” when Covid-19 becomes endemic, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday (July 26).

Member of Parliament (MP) Alex Yam of Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC) asked in Parliament about making Covid-19 jabs mandatory, an issue he said he had raised at the beginning of the vaccination programme.

Mr Yam said it was “our civic duty to be vaccinated, if there are no medical grounds to refuse”.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Commentary: A different Malaysia may emerge from the ashes of its COVID-19 crisis

By Bridget Welsh

21 Jul 2021

SEMENYIH, Malaysia: Across Malaysia the hashtag #Kerajaangagal (failed government) is trending.

Malaysia is not alone in grappling with a debilitating pandemic. Yet what makes this crisis different is how it is playing out politically.

Malaysia is arguably experiencing its largest broad crisis since the 1969 racial riots. Then the riots were elite driven, but the policies in their wake fundamentally transformed Malaysia.

The same could be said of the aftermath of the 1997 to 1999 Asian financial crisis which provoked an elite struggle that gave birth to the Reformasi movement.

The government’s handling of COVID-19 has evoked unprecedented social reaction and, in the government’s failings, transformed political narratives and mobilisation.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Explainer: Which drugs are proving most effective at treating those who fall ill from Covid-19?


JULY 09, 2021

  • The global race for effective Covid-19 treatments is ongoing
  • Large-scale clinical trials are still underway in search of the most promising drugs
  • Infectious disease experts here said much progress has been made in the past year
  • Unlike in the early days of the pandemic, data now shows which treatments are effective

SINGAPORE — As nations around the world race to get their people inoculated as an exit strategy to Covid-19, using vaccines hailed as a "scientific miracle" given their rapid development, medical experts are still working to find the best treatments for those who become ill from the coronavirus.

Several large-scale clinical trials are still underway around the globe to assess and determine the most promising drugs that can be used to treat Covid-19 even when most people are fully vaccinated.

TODAY takes a closer look at how Covid-19 treatments have progressed over the course of the pandemic.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Commentary: Even if PM Muhyiddin steps down, few good options for Malaysia’s top role

Malaysian political parties are each making secret moves behind the scene leading up to Aug 1 when the state of emergency ends, says James Chin.

By James Chin

06 Jul 2021

HOBART: After tremendous pressure was applied by the Agong and the general public, the two houses of the Malaysian Parliament will now sit before 1 Aug.

Initially, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government had announced that Parliament will only sit in September, more than two months away, to give the government a chance to catch up on the vaccination programme and, perhaps more importantly, give Muhyiddin time to crunch the numbers to stay in power.

Other than Muhyiddin and his allies, everyone wants Parliament to sit as soon as possible and for the emergency to be lifted as planned on Aug 1.

Malaysians have been incredibly unhappy with the performance of the government towards mitigating COVID-19, the vaccination rollout and shutdown of the economy. Many are waving the white flag in a #BenderaPutih movement to seek help.

For Muhyiddin, there is the added pressure of UMNO, the most powerful party in the ruling coalition, wanting to pull out of the government to force a general election.

People are saying the political pressure became so overwhelming, it led Muhyiddin to check himself into a hospital on Jun 30.

Monday, July 5, 2021

What’s fuelling China’s new online nationalists


JULY 01, 2021

Last summer, a friend of mine told me that she found China’s biggest social media platform Weibo was becoming “unusable” for feminists and liberals such as her. Tempers were so heated, Bao told me, that disagreements easily became personal pile-ons.

After a friend became the centre of a social media storm, she posted a message: “We’re all just blades of grass, what’s the point of fighting with each other?”

Bao ended up becoming the next target.

At the time, we put it down to Covid-19, which, across the world, left people stuck at home, bored and anxious. They were just venting.

But a year on, Chinese nationalist sentiment is even greater online. It used to be outsiders, a United States politician criticising the government for instance, who received the worst of the attacks from bloggers.

Now insiders bear the brunt.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Most S'poreans say elections are fair, offer ‘genuine choice’ but 1 in 4 feels opposition candidates ‘prevented from running’: IPS report


JULY 02, 2021

A survey found that Singapore had the second-highest proportion of respondents who believe that genuine choices are offered to voters in elections, behind Taiwan.

  • A 2020 global survey that polled more than 2,000 Singapore respondents was analysed by IPS
  • It found that Singaporeans were among the most political apathetic and least politically active in the world
  • Most people said they had some, though not much, power to effect changes on government decisions or on politics
  • Most said elections are fair and viewed treatment of voters positively
  • Despite political apathy, Singaporeans do take part politically by signing petitions, donating to groups

SINGAPORE — Most people in Singapore are likely to believe that national elections are fair, that they have some say in what the Government does, and that they are given a genuine choice in the polls, findings by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) showed.

Monday, June 21, 2021

IPS lecture: Govt review needed to promote positive masculine norms in S’pore, says Aware executive director


MAY 25, 2021

  • Ms Corinna Lim called for a study on masculinity to be done as part of the Government’s review on gender equality
  • She said this can help promote more positive masculine norms among men
  • She pointed out that few studies on men have been done here
  • She also renewed calls to expand National Service to include non-combat roles

SINGAPORE — To better promote positive masculinity norms among men and boys here, the Government could commission a study on masculinity in Singapore as part of its review on gender equality.

The suggestion came from Ms Corinna Lim, executive director of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), a gender advocacy group.

She was speaking on Monday (May 24) at a lecture series organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), a think tank under the National University of Singapore.

JTC, Shell tie up to explore building 60ha solar farm at Semakau Landfill


JUNE 17, 2021

SINGAPORE — A solar farm will be built at the Semakau Landfill, covering about one-sixth of its 350ha space, if plans by government agency JTC Corporation and oil giant Shell come to pass.

On Thursday (June 17), JTC and Shell signed a memorandum of understanding to explore developing this solar farm at the landfill on Semakau Island, which is south of mainland Singapore.

It is expected to have a capacity of at least 72 megawatt-peak, which is enough to cut Singapore’s carbon emissions by 37,000 tonnes a year.

The energy generated can power up to 17,500 households for a year.

[How sweet! 17,500 households? There are about 1 million households in Singapore. 17,500 is less than 2% of households. And the major consumer of power is industry and commerce, not households. But hey, every little bit helps, eh?]

Solar panels have been deployed on the island before, but on a far smaller scale, spanning some 0.95ha.

The solar farm, which is expected to take up 60ha, is thus set to be the first large-scale solar project in Singapore where a landfill is used for clean-energy generation.

It is supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) — which oversees the landfill — and the Energy Market Authority (EMA), and is in step with Singapore’s target to increase solar deployment to at least 2 gigawatt-peak by 2030.

This is equivalent to powering about 350,000 households for a year.

[Note that this (2 gigawatt-peak) is a target for 2030. Not going to achieve that with this exploratory solar farm on Semakau. What would it take? Here is the working from 2019:]

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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Why SPH news titles will continue with paid model despite government funding: Khaw

May 12, 2021

  • SPH’s media publications will maintain its paid-subscription business model
  • This is to keep it competitive and keep up the quality of their content, Mr Khaw Boon Wan said
  • The incoming chairman of SPH Media Trust added that it is important for newsrooms to have editorial independence
  • He said he will try to make a difference in helping newsrooms realise a bigger potential

SINGAPORE — News publications under Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will continue with their subscription-based business model even when they get substantial government funding.

Mr Khaw Boon Wan, 68, the incoming chairman of SPH Media Trust, its new non-profit media entity, said that this would press the newsrooms to answer a “higher call” to quality journalism and keep them on their toes to produce quality content.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

‘Hiccup’ in political transition: ESM Goh commends DPM Heng’s ‘selflessness’ in stepping aside as 4G leader

By Chew Hui Min

07 May 2021

SINGAPORE: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Friday (May 7) that he commends Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat for his “self-sacrifice” in stepping aside as leader of the 4G or fourth-generation leadership team.

At the launch of a second volume of his biography titled Standing Tall, Mr Goh said that there has been a “hiccup” in the political transition in Singapore but that it was “part of the process”.

“There were also hiccups before the Old Guard passed on the baton to the 2G. I recounted them in my first volume, Tall Order,” said the former Prime Minister.

“I commend DPM Heng Swee Keat for his self-sacrifice in stepping aside as leader of the 4G. It takes courage and selflessness to do this when one is only a step away from being prime minister.

“He has put the interests of Singapore first, like a good leader should.”

Thursday, May 6, 2021

SPH to restructure media business into not-for-profit entity


MAY 06, 2021

  • The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will set up a new subsidiary to house its media business, with injection of initial resources, funding
  • The subsidiary will eventually be transferred to a company limited by guarantee to be funded by private and public sources
  • The exercise will involve transferring the entire media-related business of the conglomerate, including employees and its news and print centres
SINGAPORE — The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will be restructuring its media business into a not-for-profit entity amid falling advertising revenue.

With this move — which is expected to be fully completed by October, subject to shareholders’ approval — SPH’s media business will eventually become a company limited by a guarantee, it announced on Thursday (May 6).

Commentary: Why the interest over TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi’s nationality and how Singaporean he is?

What does it take to be "one of us"? Singaporeans' obsessions in defining the "us" in this latest episode stems not only from a fixation on labels but insecurities amid seismic changes in society, says SUSS' Dr Leong Chan-Hoong.

By Leong Chan-Hoong

06 May 2021

SINGAPORE: Are you a Singaporean? Did you embrace our way of life?

It does not require a genius to see the subtext in discussions over our daily headline news whenever the term “foreign” is mentioned in the media. This happens both when someone has misbehaved or achieved an extraordinary feat in a profession.

We saw this most recently last week when TikTok, the social media giant named 39-year old Chew Shou Zhi its new CEO.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Indonesia - model for Myanmar

 [Two news articles on the Military in Politics, and how Myanmar might have used Indonesia as a model.]

‘We live in a different age now’: Why Indonesia’s military is unlikely to return to politics

February’s coup in Myanmar has turned the spotlight on other Southeast Asian countries whose militaries have played a significant political role. The programme Insight examines the situation in Indonesia and the prospects for its democracy.

JAKARTA: He was tortured, underwent forced labour and had to eat mice, snakes, lizards and snails to survive.

Arrested for being a suspected communist sympathiser, Bedjo Untung was never charged despite being detained from 1970 to 1979, under the authoritarian regime headed by Suharto, the former general.

It has been 23 years since Suharto’s fall, but Bedjo, now 73 and a human rights activist, worries that Indonesia’s military “will always try to play a role” in government.

That has been the case in Thailand, for example, and February’s military coup in Myanmar has cast the spotlight on other Southeast Asian countries whose militaries have played a significant political role over decades.

But is Indonesia’s military capable of making a political comeback following the country’s transition to the multi-party democracy it is today? The programme Insight examines the balance of probabilities.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Singapore tops ranking of world's best places to be amid Covid-19 pandemic

Singapore topped Bloomberg's Covid Resilience Ranking this month.PHOTO: ST FILE

APR 27, 2021

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - A combination of nailing the virus and rolling out vaccines at one of the fastest rates in Asia saw Singapore top Bloomberg's Covid Resilience Ranking this month, dethroning New Zealand for the first time in the measure of the best and worst places to be in the pandemic era.

The tiny city state had got locally transmitted cases down to near zero thanks to border curbs and a strict quarantine programme, allowing citizens to largely go about their everyday lives, even attending concerts and going on cruises.

At the same time, Singapore had already administered vaccines that cover the equivalent of a fifth of its population, an aspect of pandemic control that other virus eliminators like New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan are lagging on.

But if there's one lesson from April, it's that vaccination alone isn't ending the pandemic.

Monday, April 26, 2021

IN FOCUS: What does the future hold for Singapore's taxi industry?

By Zhaki Abdullah

24 Apr 2021

SINGAPORE: There was a time, in the not too distant past, when trying to get a taxi in Singapore during rush hour was a stressful experience, beset with doubt and uncertainty.

And if it was raining, the situation was even worse. Demand would seemingly far outstrip supply, leaving some commuters stranded as they tried in vain to hail a cab or book one.

The situation became so frustrating that it was raised in Parliament numerous times.

In 2014, former Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah asked how the Ministry of Transport was addressing the problem of taxi shortages during certain times.

Mr Lui Tuck Yew, who was then the Transport Minister, replied that the taxi availability standards introduced a year earlier had resulted in an additional 1,300 cabs plying the roads during peak periods.

The percentage of taxis plying at least 250km a day had also increased, as had the daily utilisation of taxis, he said then.

"In short, more taxis are plying the roads, and more commuters are using them," said Mr Lui then.

Yet it would seem that demand continued to outstrip supply as complaints persisted, and several taxi firms were fined for not being able to meet the availability standards. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Car ownership revisited

 Every now and then, someone will ask, "Is it better to own a car or take taxi everywhere in Singapore?"

And someone or some news organisation will try to answer that question.

So the latest attempt summarises it thus:

At a glance, here’s how the monthly bill of the various options looks like:
  • Regular car ownership (Honda Civic): $1,589
  • Cheaper car model: $1,200+
  • Red plate: $1,278.78
  • Cabbing: $822.40

monthly car ownership costs car in singapore


Sunday, April 18, 2021

'Violent' ducks? Hong Kong clothing brand cartoons rile China

APRIL 18, 2021

The owner of clothing brand Chickeeduck, Mr Herbert Chow, shows a cushion his company makes decorated with chickens and ducklings in Hong Kong on April 9, 2021.

HONG KONG — Cute cartoon animals have been at the heart of Hong Kong clothing brand Chickeeduck since 1990, displayed on everything from t-shirts and tote bags to baby rompers and pillows.

But owner Herbert Chow is now struggling to get his designs made in China, where his avian characters have been seized by authorities for "advocating violence".

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Commentary: US proposed global minimum corporate tax has implications for Singapore

Joe Biden’s move to raise taxes may be well-timed, given domestic demands for government expenditure and a growing global acceptance that corporate taxes must be raised. But this has implications for Singapore, says NUS Business School’s Assoc Prof Simon Poh.

By Simon Poh

13 Apr 2021

SINGAPORE: US President Joe Biden proposed an ultra-ambitious US$2.3 trillion infrastructure bill in end-March.

It was hailed as a “once-in-a-generation” investment that will reposition the US at the forefront of the global economic stage, ahead of China.

The cost will be largely funded by raising corporate tax, slated to go up from 21 per cent to 28 per cent, if the bill is passed.

This marked reversal of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump’s tax policy, which saw the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent in 2017, taps onto wider, popular calls for US Big Business to pay their fair share.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen followed up last week with calls for a global minimum corporate tax of 21 per cent for multinational corporations, signaling that a collective international effort is required to end the “30-year race to the bottom”.

These latest proposals surprised few as they were featured prominently in Joe Biden’s election campaign.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Commentary: How China will try to subdue Taiwan – without firing a bullet

The US is once again warning that China might invade Taiwan, but a more gradualist approach by Beijing seems more likely, says Christian Le Miere.

By Christian Le Miere

15 Apr 2021

Taiwan Strait

LONDON: Twenty-five years ago, war over Taiwan seemed imminent.

Chinese missiles flew in the direction of Taiwan and a US aircraft carrier sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a defiant signal of resolve.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Commentary: An unpopular opinion but the truth is foreign workers help, not hurt Singaporean livelihoods


APRIL 09, 2021

A study by the Institute of Policy Studies found that 43.6 per cent of Singaporeans believe that immigration will “increase unemployment".

One of Singapore’s biggest open secrets is its slow-festering anti-foreigner sentiment among some of its citizens in the social media sphere, even though most people here are not opposed to immigration per se but to the unfettered inflow of foreigners. Protected by the anonymity of private Facebook groups, these rants oftentimes verge on plain ugly racism and xenophobia.

The reasons for opposing immigration in Singapore are varied, but the biggest grievance among locals lies in the proverbial “bread and butter” issues. This is affirmed by a just-released study by the Institute of Policy Studies, which finds that 43.6 per cent of Singaporeans believe that immigration will “increase unemployment".

The problem is that the evidence contradicts this popular belief.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Commentary: Using the lessons of Covid-19 to tackle 4 types of inequality in Singapore


APRIL 06, 2021

The writer discusses four types of inequalities in Singapore that have been spotlighted by the pandemic: Wage, digital, residency and gender.

Economists use letters to describe the shape of recovery from recessions, and the current recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is given a new letter: K.

This depicts a shape where some industries and individuals ascend, but the rest decline. In the midst of wage cuts, job losses and business closings, stock market prices have been rising and the Big Techs have been thriving.

The K-shaped trend is said to reflect existing inequalities.

In this essay, I will discuss four types of inequality in Singapore that have been spotlighted by the pandemic: Wage, digital, residency and gender.

I would like to suggest going beyond a business-as-usual response to these areas of inequality, failing which we would be wasting the lessons learned from the pandemic and the inequalities that were already there will further divide our society.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Commentary: Why the Suez Canal accident is a worst-case scenario for global trade

The narrow strip is a critical artery where goods make way across the globe and an incident like this exposes weaknesses in the global system, say maritime researchers from Plymouth University.

By Rory Hopcraft
By Kevin Jones
By Kimberly Tam

26 Mar 2021 

PLYMOUTH, England: It is estimated that 90 per cent of the world’s trade is transported by sea. As consumers, we rarely give much thought to how the things we buy make their way across the planet and into our homes.

That is, until an incident like the recent grounding of a huge container ship, the Ever Given, in the Suez Canal exposes the weaknesses in this global system.

High winds have been blamed for the container ship blocking the narrow strait, which serves as a trade artery that connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

But with shipping so heavily reliant on such narrow channels, the potential for these incidents is ever-present.

As researchers of maritime security, we often simulate incidents like the Ever Given grounding to understand the probable long and short-term consequences.

Cargo Ship Ever Given got stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal, blocking traffic in a crucial waterway for global shipping. (Photo: Instagram/fallenhearts17)

Suez Canal Ever Given cargo ship

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Commentary: Reducing household water consumption starts with the toilet bowl

Toilet bowl
Toilet bowl
Toilet bowlBy Ho Xiang Tian

22 Mar 2021 

SINGAPORE: Ask strangers on the street how much water they think a person uses per day at home, and the answers will range from 2 litres to 50 litres.

The answer that most people never got to: More than 140 litres per person, per day. This was something I used to do at outreach booths as part of my volunteer work with LepakInSG, a local environmental group.

We think we consume much less water because we only think about the water we drink, and severely underestimate the water used in other activities like showering, washing the dishes, and flushing.

According to PUB, households account for about 45 per cent of Singapore’s water use, which is significant compared to other metrics like waste generated (25 per cent) and carbon emissions (6 per cent).

Monday, March 22, 2021

Residents living near former Kallang Gasworks grow weary over odours, noise from soil treatment works


MARCH 21, 2021

  • Remediation works at the old Kallang Gasworks started last year and is expected to end in 2022
  • Some residents reported falling ill more often due to the fumes from the site
  • The authorities said the air released is treated and does not pose adverse health risks
  • They have also put in place mitigation measures in response to feedback from the public

Source: SLA

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Commentary: Keeping public housing in prime locations like Greater Southern Waterfront affordable and fair

To help low-income families afford those flats, while avoiding the lottery effect, consider awarding a housing grant tiered by income level, with levies to recovery subsidies depreciating over time.

By Sing Tien Foo

21 Mar 2021 

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s public housing model is changing.

During the early years of the country’s independence, the national goal was largely an operational one in ramping up construction to provide living spaces for growing numbers of families and resolve overcrowding.

Over the decades, a conscious belief that building a nation of homeowners would be the best strategy to give Singaporeans a stake in the nation and strengthen retirement adequacy took root.

And in the last 20 years, the national conversation has shifted towards how public housing goals can fulfil new aspirations while keeping homes affordable. New models like the Design Build and Sell Scheme and Executive Condominiums were rolled out.

More recently, public discussions have swirled around the subject of inclusiveness, with the announcement that spaces will be set aside for future public housing in the Greater Southern Waterfront, and how to keep such an exercise fair.

While many Singaporeans welcomed the redistributive aspects of this move so more Singapore families can afford housing in good locations, most have also cautioned against the lottery effect seen in past HDB projects.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

This mouse embryo grew in an artificial uterus

It was previously believed a fetus couldn't survive without a living womb.

March 17th, 2021

Hanna Embryo

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

China's military modernisation poses Taiwan threat: US officials

MARCH 16, 2021

TOKYO — China's accelerated military modernisation poses a clear and growing threat to Taiwan, and US intervention might only risk intensifying pressure from Beijing, US defence officials say.

Washington's top US military officer in Asia-Pacific Admiral Philip Davidson made waves last week by warning that Beijing could seek to invade Taiwan within six years.

And as Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin makes Asia the target of his first overseas trip, US defence officials have hammered home the threat they see posed by Beijing's rapid military build-up.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Malaysia government appeals ruling on Christians using 'Allah'

15 Mar 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government on Monday (Mar 15) appealed a court's decision to overturn a decades-old official ban and allow Christians in the Muslim-majority country to use "Allah" to refer to God.

The word has long been divisive in multi-ethnic Malaysia, with Christians complaining that attempts to stop them using it highlight the growing influence of conservative Islam.

But some Muslims accuse the sizeable Christian minority of overstepping boundaries, and the subject has fuelled religious tensions and sparked violence over the years.

Last week the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Christians can use "Allah" in publications, siding with a member of the minority and striking down a ban that dated back to 1986. [See below.]

Sunday, March 14, 2021

A timeline of Singapore’s public housing policy for singles


MARCH 13, 2021

  • Singapore's policy on singles living in public housing has evolved over the years.
  • In the 1960s, singles were not able to have their own public housing flat
  • The arrival of the Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) in the 1970s meant singles could buy these flats. HUDC catered to a segment of S'poreans able to buy a place better than typical public housing yet unable to afford private housing
  • It was only in 1991 that singles above 35 years old were able to buy resale HDB flats, but limited to three-room flats at selected locations
  • Since 2000, there have been a series of policy moves to provide more HDB options for singles  

SINGAPORE — Compared with their married counterparts, singles in Singapore have generally faced greater hurdles in acquiring a flat from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), perhaps most notably in having to hit the minimum age of 35 years old before one can purchase a flat. 

However, earlier in the Republic’s history, singles were not even allowed to buy public housing flats at all as housing policies were focused on meeting the needs of families.

Former National Development Minister S Dhanabalan said in 1988 that allowing singles to buy their own flats and live alone would also be in direct conflict with the Government’s efforts to preserve the traditional family unit.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Schoolgirl admits to lying about beheaded French teacher

MARCH 09, 2021

PARIS — A schoolgirl who sparked a deadly online hate campaign against a French teacher after he showed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to students has admitted to lying and spreading false claims about him, her lawyer said on Monday (March 8).

The girl had claimed the teacher, Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an Islamic extremist in the street in October last year, had asked Muslims to leave the class when he showed the cartoons.

The girl's father later lodged a legal complaint and amplified the allegations online, leading an 18-year-old Chechen refugee to track down Paty in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris.