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.