Sunday, May 8, 2022

Govt petition platform ‘never been live’, idea now canned: GovTech

iStock The Straits Times reported that PetitionsSG was created with the aim of empowering citizens
to push for change and to connect important ground sentiment to government ministries.


May 5, 2022

SINGAPORE — The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said that it has canned an idea in which a petition website would reportedly have been used to submit petitions to relevant government ministries if more than 10,000 signatures were garnered. GovTech added that the platform has "never been live".

In an email on Thursday (May 5) in response to TODAY's queries, GovTech said that the Government “actively seeks out views and concerns of citizens through various channels but we do not make decisions on the basis of petitions”.

The agency's response came less than a day after The Straits Times published a report about the PetitionsSG website developed by GovTech's Open Government Products unit.

The report stated that Singaporeans "may soon get a new avenue to voice their concerns through a platform where petitions that garner 10,000 supporters will be submitted to the relevant ministries for review".

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Commentary: Why is Ukraine so keen to join the European Union?

Joining the European Union would be Ukraine's symbolic act of placing a stake in the ground, claiming an identity and a heritage, and building towards a peaceful and prosperous future, say two academics.

Members of the European Parliament sit behind signs in support of Ukraine during an extraordinary session on Ukraine in Brussels on Tuesday, Mar 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Mathew Doidge

Serena Kelly

03 May 2022 

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: With the weight of Russian military might bearing down on it, Ukraine applied to join the European Union (EU) on Feb 28. While the Russian invasion provided the immediate pretext, membership had been on the Ukrainian political agenda since the Orange Revolution of 2004–2005.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Hawkers say they have to raise prices to survive, as rising cost of ingredients hits hard

Jalelah Abu Baker

29 Apr 2022 

SINGAPORE: On Monday (Apr 25), chwee kueh seller Theresa Tan's chye poh (preserved radish) supplier told her that he will increase his prices.

A tin of chye poh, which she can easily go through in a day, will cost S$158 from May 1, up from S$130 now.

This additional cost for the ingredient, an essential in the making of the steamed rice flour cake dish, would come on top of others.

Speaking to CNA at her stall at Bendemeer Market and Food Centre on Wednesday, Ms Tan rattled off a list of ingredients that have become more expensive recently – cooking oil, sugar, garlic and onions.

As a result, Ms Tan will also raise her prices from May 1. Four pieces of chwee kueh will cost S$1.60, up from S$1.20, while eight pieces will cost S$3.20, up from S$2.40.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Singapore's core inflation rises to 10-year high in March

Gabrielle Andres

25 Apr 2022 

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s core inflation rose to a 10-year high of 2.9 per cent year-on-year in March, up from 2.2 per cent in February, official data released on Monday (Apr 25) showed.

The last time core inflation was at 2.9 per cent year-on-year was in March 2012.

The increase was driven by higher inflation for food and services, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint release.

Friday, April 22, 2022

EMA issues Request for Information to assess geothermal energy potential across Singapore

Sembawang Hot Spring Park is one of the sites of the exploratory studies currently conducted by the
Nanyang Technological University. (Photo: CNA/ Jeremy Long)

Ang Hwee Min

20 Apr 2022 

SINGAPORE: The Energy Market Authority (EMA) has issued a Request for Information in its bid to assess the geothermal energy potential across Singapore, as part of moves to decarbonise the power sector for a more sustainable energy future.

The Request for Information is to facilitate a geophysical investigation into possible approaches, methodologies and execution details in carrying out the geothermal potential assessment, said EMA in a press release on Wednesday (Apr 20).

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Commentary: The 'Battle for Donbas' will be protracted and bloody

A reorganised Russian army, backed by loyal separatists, has begun its assault on Donbas in Ukraine. But an experienced Ukrainian defence, reinforced by supplies from the West, is ready to put up a dogged fight, says this military expert.

After encountering fierce resistance around Kyiv, Moscow is focusing on the eastern region of Donbas.

Frank Ledwidge

20 Apr 2022

PORTSMOUTH, England: There will be no peace deals, no ceasefires and no surrenders in Ukraine. The next two months will bring what United States defence officials have called “a knife fight” in the area that the Ukrainian army calls “The Joint Forces Operation”. We know this region better as Donbas.

For eight years, the two sides have fought there, with Russian regular army elements supplementing separatist units. Now, after Kyiv, Russian forces are redeploying there to take on Ukraine’s best and most experienced units.

The battles to come will resemble more the manoeuvre battles of World War II than those fought around the cities of Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy in the seven weeks that the war has raged so far. Nonetheless, the Russians are unlikely to prevail.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Polder project at Pulau Tekong more than halfway complete: Desmond Lee

Screengrab from a video showing the polder project at Pulau Tekong. (Screengrab: Facebook/Desmond Lee)

17 Apr 2022 

SINGAPORE: A project to build polders at Pulau Tekong is more than halfway complete, and is set to finish by the end of 2024, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said on Sunday (Apr 17).

Polders are tracts of land that lie below sea level and are reclaimed through the building of dykes, drainage canals and pumping stations. They will help to protect Singapore against rising sea levels brought about by climate change.

Singapore officially opens fifth desalination plant

An aerial view of the Jurong Island Desalination Plant.

April 17, 2022

SINGAPORE — Singapore on Sunday (April 17) officially opened the country’s fifth desalination plant, which is about 5 per cent more energy efficient than conventional desalination plants.

Due to its co-location with an existing power plant, the Jurong Island Desalination Plant can save about 5,000 megawatt hours per year, equivalent to the annual power needs of nearly 1,000 Housing and Development Board households.

The new facility, which has been operational since earlier this month, was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Sunday.

The 3.7-hectare plant can produce up to 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, equivalent to 55 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water or up to 7 per cent of Singapore’s daily water demand.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Commentary: With egg freezing, Singapore women aren’t forced to sacrifice career and self to become mothers

The ageing population and total fertility rate have long been topics of national discussion. With elective egg freezing set to be allowed, the Institute of Policy Studies’ Kalpana Vignehsa discusses what this means for Singapore women.

With egg freezing, Singapore women aren’t forced to sacrifice career and self to become mothers. (Illustration: Rafa Estrada)

Kalpana Vignehsa

15 Apr 2022 

SINGAPORE: If things go as we hope, my family will soon welcome our much-awaited second child. Getting here hasn’t been smooth – obstetricians consider this a “geriatric pregnancy” due to my “advanced maternal age”.

Still, I count myself lucky. Last year, I had a heartbreaking miscarriage late in my first trimester, a few months before this pregnancy. Two close friends had stillbirths and others struggled through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). 

MH 2664: MAS Boeing flight 'dives', passengers 'float' in their seats

(Pic for illustration purposes) The incident last Sunday, involving Flight MH2664 to the Sabah coastal town, resulted in the flight turning back to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), after what the airline termed as having encountered ‘technical issues’ during inclement weather. -NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

By Adrian David
New Straits Times

April 5, 2022

The incident last Sunday, involving Flight MH2664 to the Sabah coastal town, resulted in the flight turning back to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), after what the airline termed as having encountered ‘technical issues’ during inclement weather. -NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

SEPANG: Several passengers 'floated' in their seats, as a Malaysia Airlines flight to Tawau suddenly "dove" 7,000ft.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Nine ways Russia botched its invasion of Ukraine

By Liz Sly

April 8, 2022

The ineptitude displayed by the Russian military in its initial attempt to overrun Ukraine has astounded military professionals. The world’s second-most-powerful army has bungled almost every move since the first hours of the invasion. Now, seven weeks into a war that Russia as well as the West had expected would last only days, the Ukrainians have the momentum. They have forced the Russians to make a humiliating retreat from the north of the country and stalled or reversed Russian advances on most other fronts.

As Russia refocuses its energies on capturing Ukraine’s eastern region, the crucial question will be whether its military can redress the mistakes of the early assault. Here are nine of the most important mistakes identified by military experts.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Benz Hui claims S'poreans are spoiled by the govt & like to complain

An observation the actor made while living in Singapore.

Karen Lui 

April 13, 2022


Complaining is a national hobby in Singapore, and even Hong Kong veteran actor Benz Hui agrees.

In a video interview with Lianhe Zaobao, the 73-year-old shared his observations of Singaporeans during his prolonged stay in Singapore due to the pandemic.

Singaporeans are complain kings and queens

Towards the end of the interview, he described himself as someone who speaks his mind, unlike some people who are afraid of doing so.

Without mincing his words, Hui candidly remarked, "Singaporeans have been spoilt by the government and like to complain."

Sunday, April 10, 2022

‘Nobody will look after us’ if S’poreans can’t look after ourselves: Bilahari on Ukraine in 2014

8 years later, his reflections still hold weight.

Bilahari Kausikan 

February 25, 2022

COMMENTARY: In March 2014, former permanent secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilahari Kausikan, published a commentary on lessons for Small States from Ukraine in The Straits Times.

He visited Ukraine in December 2013 and had the opportunity to observe the EuroMaidan demonstrations. After his visit, he reflected on how a country has fallen prey to Great Power politics and what this means for Singapore and Singaporeans.

The essay was written in the wake of Russia's invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea in early 2014. It can be found in Bilahari’s 2017 “Singapore Is Not An Island: Views on Singapore Foreign Policy” book. Published by Straits Times Press, you can get a copy of his book here.

Bilahari Kausikan is chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The coronavirus is still mutating. But will that matter? ‘We need to keep the respect for this virus.’

A drop in infections offers hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight. The virus may have something to say about that.

By Joel Achenbach, Ben Guarino and Aaron Steckelberg

October 18, 2021 

[Note the date. As we open up, we need to keep an eye on the ball, and be prepared to respond again, if necessary. But let's all hope for the best. There's an overseas vacation calling to me!]

Coronavirus infections are down across much of the United States. Hospitalizations, too. Deaths are finally dropping from their dismaying late-summer peak of more than 2,000 a day. Most people are vaccinated, and booster shots are gaining approval. Officials in the United States are hoping the worst of the pandemic is over.

But so much depends on the virus itself. It is not static. It mutates. Delta, the variant of SARS-CoV-2 now causing virtually all infections in the United States, is more than twice as transmissible as the virus that emerged in Wuhan, China. The possibility of further significant mutations in the virus looms like a giant asterisk over any discussion of the trajectory of the pandemic.

In recent weeks, scientists who closely monitor the virus have said it still appears to have plenty of room to evolve.

What it means to have nuclear energy in Singapore power sector’s net zero emission aim

Deemed unsuitable due to safety and reliability concerns in a pre-feasibility study conducted in 2012 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Energy 2050 committee projects that nuclear energy could supply about 10 percent of Singapore’s power needs by 2050 due to technological advancement.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Report: Americans are deeply ambivalent about emerging technologies

Pew surveyed over 10,000 US adults about AI, exoskeletons, and brain-machine interfaces.

By Dan McCarthy

March 25, 2022

Whether you’re a luddite or a tech solutionist, whatever—that’s your business. But new research from Pew provides a window into where a broad swath of the American public—10,260 US adults, to be exact—falls along that spectrum.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Research raises fresh questions on adverse impact of ‘long Covid’. Here’s why a vaccine-plus approach is needed


March 28, 2022

A mild infection changed my life.

In the final year of high school, shortly before my final exams, for around six weeks, I caught Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and developed mononucleosis or glandular fever.

The months of fatigue, a hallmark of EBV infections, took their toll on my exam performance, and I missed admission to law school by a single point.

While the effect on my vocation was arguably positive, mild EBV infections can, in some cases, have a devastating long-term impact on health.

EBV was recently discovered to be the leading cause of multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the nervous system with symptoms from incontinence to depression to blindness.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Commentary: Countries that focus the most on happiness may make people feel worse

Measuring a country’s subjective levels of happiness has become something of an international sport, say two researchers, but focusing on happiness may backfire, say two researchers.

A woman is seen smiling. (Photo: Unsplash/Constantinos Panagopoulos)

Brock Bastian

Egon Dejonckheere

20 Mar 2022 

MELBOURNE: Have you looked at the international rankings of the world’s happiest countries lately?

Measuring a country’s subjective levels of happiness has become something of an international sport. People look with interest (and a little jealousy) to nations such as Denmark, which consistently tops the world happiness rankings.

It has also led to Danish practices such as the “hygge” lifestyle gaining popularity elsewhere. If only we could add more cosiness to our lives, perhaps we would be as happy as the Danish!

Friday, March 25, 2022

How countries can respond to a perfect long storm

In a speech at the Investment Management Association of Singapore (IMAS)-Bloomberg Investment Conference on Wednesday (March 9), Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam spoke about how countries can navigate the current problems and “five fragilities” the world faces. Below is a transcript of his speech.


March 9, 2022

I am very happy to join you this morning. It is an important conference, both because it’s IMAS’ 25th anniversary, and importantly because of the theme that you're focusing on — investing for a green future.

Let me put this in the context of the era of profound uncertainty and fragility that the world has entered.

Investing for the future has become a much more complex game. It's more complex than it was pre-pandemic. It's also more complex than it was two weeks ago.

Biden to join allies in revoking Russia's favoured trade status

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Winter Meeting in Washington, U.S., March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

11 Mar 2022 

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden will move on Friday (Mar 11) to revoke Russia's "most favoured nation" trade status, joining with allies to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Biden will announce the plans at the White House at 10.15 am.

The White House said Biden would announce "actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine". Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation".

The administration will revoke Russia's "most favoured nation status" over its invasion of Ukraine, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference earlier on Friday.

Russia-Ukraine war is ending globalization

BlackRock’s Larry Fink, who oversees $10 trillion, says Russia-Ukraine war is ending globalization

THU, MAR 24 2022

Yun Li

  • Larry Fink, CEO and chairman of the world’s biggest asset manager, BlackRock, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reversing the long-running trend of globalization.
  • “I believe this has exacerbated the polarization and extremist behavior we are seeing across society today,” Fink said in his 2022 letter to shareholders.
  • Fink, whose firm oversees more than $10 trillion, said BlackRock has suspended the purchase of any Russian securities in its active or index portfolios.

Larry Fink, CEO and chairman of the world’s biggest asset manager, BlackRock, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the world order that had been in place since the end of the Cold War.

China's Strategic Dilemmas

Confronted with irreconcilable objectives, China is putting on a brave face as it deals with a serious dilemma

23 Mar 2022

By: Bilahari Kausikan

Bilahari Kausikan (above) is former Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Foreign Ministry and presently Chairman of the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore. He delivered this as the keynote address to the Royal Australian Air Force Air and Space Power Conference in Canberra on March 22. While it is considerably longer than most of our submissions, we reprint it here in full because of its importance.

The war in Ukraine has lasted a month. Russian President Vladimir Putin badly miscalculated and Xi Jinping followed him into a strategic dead-end with no easy exit.

We will never know exactly what Putin told Xi Jinping when they met before the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics on 4th February and declared that their partnership had “no limits.” That Putin waited until the Olympics ended before invading Ukraine, argues for a degree of foreknowledge on China’s part.

But Beijing nevertheless seems taken aback by the scale of Russia’s attack, the resoluteness of Ukrainian resistance, and by the tough and united Western response to the invasion. Putin may well have misled Xi because he misled himself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Commentary: Do not expect the war in Ukraine to end quickly

A peace deal or political upheaval in Russia could end the Ukraine war, but the likeliest outcome could be a bloody war of attrition lasting many more months, says the Financial Times' Gideon Rachman.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R in this combination photo) urged direct talks with Russian counterpart
Vladimir Putin as the only way to end the war. (Photo: POOL/AFP/File/Evgenia NOVOZHENINA, Sergei CHUZAVKOV)

Gideon Rachman

22 Mar 2022

LONDON: “Tell me how this ends?” is one of those things that people say in films, and sometimes also in real life. It is the crucial question about the war in Ukraine - but one that is sometimes obscured by the sheer drama and horror of day-to-day events.

Just before the outbreak of the war, most military experts expected a swift Russian military victory. That turned out to be wrong — and there will be more surprises in store. So all predictions have to be made with humility.

That said, there are three Ukraine scenarios that currently seem most likely. The first - which is both the most tragic and the most probable - is that this war continues for many months. The second possibility - put it at maybe 30 per cent - is that there is a peace settlement.

The third scenario - which is perhaps 10 per cent - is that there is some sort of political upheaval in Russia, involving the overthrow of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a new approach to Ukraine. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Possible Outcomes of the Russo-Ukrainian War and China’s Choice

by US-China Perception Monitor 

March 12, 2022

Update on March 13, 2022: The following article was submitted by the author to the Chinese-language edition of the US-China Perception Monitor. The article was not commissioned by the US-China Perception Monitor, nor is the author affiliated with the Carter Center or the US-China Perception Monitor.

Hu Wei is the vice-chairman of the Public Policy Research Center of the Counselor’s Office of the State Council, the chairman of Shanghai Public Policy Research Association, the chairman of the Academic Committee of the Chahar Institute, a professor, and a doctoral supervisor. To read more by Hu, click here to read his article on “How did Deng Xiaoping coordinate domestic and international affairs?”

Written on March 5, 2022. Translated by Jiaqi Liu on March 12, 2022.

The Russo-Ukrainian War is the most severe geopolitical conflict since World War II and will result in far greater global consequences than September 11 attacks. At this critical moment, China needs to accurately analyze and assess the direction of the war and its potential impact on the international landscape. At the same time, in order to strive for a relatively favorable external environment, China needs to respond flexibly and make strategic choices that conform to its long-term interests.

Commentary: Pressure from China might be key in bringing Russia to heel

With Russia remaining steadfastly unwilling to compromise with Ukraine, pressure from China may be the West's chance of changing Putin's mind, says Richard Haass.
In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook,
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on early Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Richard Haass

17 Mar 2022 

NEW YORK: “Ripeness is all”, noted Edgar in Shakespeare’s King Lear. When it comes to negotiations to limit or end international conflicts, he is right: Agreements emerge only when the leading protagonists are willing to compromise and are then able to commit their respective governments to implement the accords.

This truth is highly relevant to any attempt to end the war between Russia and Ukraine through diplomacy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a number of reasons to end a conflict that has already killed thousands of his citizens, destroyed large parts of several major cities, rendered millions homeless and devastated Ukraine’s economy. And his standing has grown by the hour, giving him the political strength to make peace – not at any price, but at some price.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Commentary: Has US regained credibility by leading a global coalition against Russia?

Against the backdrop of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden’s ability to rally allies is winning support, says an international affairs writer.
FILE PHOTO: President Joe Biden listens during a secure video call with French President Emmanuel Macron,
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House, Mar 7, 2022.
(Photo: Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)

Erin Hurley

16 Mar 2022 

WASHINGTON DC: The Biden administration played a critical role in assembling the European and global coalition to punish Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, and in so doing displayed American diplomatic power at its best: Leading without dominating.

The White House overcame well-founded concerns among allies about the integrity of United States intelligence after the Afghanistan pull-out, and the capacity of the United States to lead given the past and future threat former president Donald Trump poses to the alliance structure.

President Joe Biden personally deserves credit for rebuilding trust among European allies, whom he treated as equals. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Commentary: China should be troubled by these unprecedented US-led sanctions on Russia

A lack of a military response from the United States could inspire the hawks in Beijing but the sanctions implemented are also a warning, says Christian Le Miere.

President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Christian Le Miere

13 Mar 2022 

LONDON: In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, attention has focused on the West’s reaction. While the United States and the North Treaty Atlantic Organization (NATO) have ruled out sending troops, several countries have responded with an onslaught of unprecedented sanctions and arms deliveries.

The effect has been twofold: To bolster Ukrainian resistance and weaken Russia’s economy.

Now, with US President Joe Biden announcing a ban on Russian oil imports on Tuesday (Mar 9), the heart of Russia’s commodity-fuelled economy is being targeted.

Moscow’s reaction has been unsurprisingly strident: Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier called the sanctions “akin to an act of war”.

But the response by the US and its allies is having an effect not just on thinking in Moscow, but also in Beijing, which will have longer-term consequences for stability in East Asia.

The war in Ukraine has laid out just how far the West is willing to go militarily and economically against an aggressor in a conflict. And it’s a forerunner of what could occur in a Taiwan contingency.

Both Beijing and Taipei are watching the US response carefully. And there are warnings for both.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Commentary: Ukraine and NATO shouldn’t rush to dismiss Putin’s latest peace terms

If Ukraine and NATO want to achieve lasting peace, they must be open to making mutual compromises with Russia, instead of determinedly demanding retribution for the invasion, says a military historian.

Alexander Hill

09 Mar 2022 

CALGARY, Canada: There have been few positives to report regarding the war in Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of the country, but Vladimir Putin’s latest offering of Russian peace terms is cause for muted optimism.

The Russian invasion is not going according to plan, and at least Putin wants to talk. He’s demanding four things.

[If the invasion had gone according to plan, then Putin would not want to talk...]

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Commentary: Even Google agrees there’s no going back to the old office life

As the workforce rethinks how and why they work, employers who don’t provide flexibility will lose out in the war for talents, says this professor.
FILE PHOTO: The Google office located in Singapore. (Photo: Tang See Kit)

Libby Sander

09 Mar 2022 

GOLD COAST, Australia: The great enforced global experiment in working from home is coming to an end, as vaccines, the Omicron variant and new therapeutic drugs bring the COVID-19 crisis under control.

But a voluntary experiment has begun, as organisations navigate the new landscape of hybrid work, combining the best elements of remote work with time in the office.

Yes, there is some push for a “return to normal” and getting workers back into offices.

But ideas such as food vouchers and parking discounts are mostly being proposed by city councils and CBD businesses keen to get their old customers back.

A wide range of surveys over the past 18 months show most employees and increasingly employers have no desire to return to commuting five days a week.

The seismic shift in employer attitudes is signalled by Google, long a fierce opponent of working from home.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Singapore: Asia's Smallest Military Powerhouse

This city-state is ready to fight.
July 22, 2021

Here's What You Need to Know: The backbone of the RSAF is a fleet of F-15 and F-16 fighters.

Despite its small geographical size, Singapore fields one of the most advanced and well-equipped militaries in South East Asia. It spends more on its military than any of its neighbors. Being a tiny city-state, one of the strongest arms of the Singaporean military is the Republic of Singapore Air Force. But how does it stack up against its neighbors, from the small to the big? Does Western tech really provide the level of advantage it needs to defend itself?

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Commentary: Singapore’s climate ambition finally up to speed with international developments

Moves to strengthen Singapore’s net zero goals or aggressively hike carbon tax show calls for more ambition have not gone unheard, says Melissa Low of the Energy Studies Institute.

Solar panels with cityscape of Singapore. (Photo: iStock)

Melissa Low

19 Feb 2022

SINGAPORE: Singapore has made bold moves with revised carbon tax rates, and plans to achieve net-zero emissions by or around mid-century.

On Friday (Feb 18), Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong announced that Singapore’s carbon tax rate will be revised from S$5 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent to S$25 per tonne from 2024 and 2025.

It’ll then increase to S$45 per tonne from 2026 to 2027 and fall within the range of S$50 to S$80 per tonne by 2030. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Commentary: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a timely reminder of hard truths for Singapore


February 24, 2022

After months of building up a huge, powerful force surrounding its neighbour, Russia on Thursday (Feb 24) began what many regarded as unthinkable a few weeks ago: An invasion of Ukraine.

Despite President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that he had ordered a “special military operation” — what most initially took to mean limited armed action in the self-declared independent areas in the eastern part of the country — reports from correspondents on the ground revealed this to be an all-out assault, with explosions heard in many cities.

Apart from news junkies and others interested in international affairs, the gathering clouds of war in Europe attracted little interest in Singapore.

Various media outlets have tried to frame the issue, and its impact on us, in terms that most Singaporeans would relate to: Rising prices, supply chain disruptions and the like.

These impacts will hurt our wallets, and there is nothing more likely to make us perk up than having to pay more at the pump or supermarket, or having our orders from Amazon delayed.

But these explainers miss a larger, and much more important, point. The invasion of a sovereign nation by a much more powerful one rubs up against a fundamental tenet of Singapore — adherence to international law.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Commentary: Just how concerned should we be about COVID-19 reinfections?

Reports of COVID-19 reinfection have become common since the Omicron variant emerged, but many cases are still likely to go undiagnosed, says a medical professor.

Paul Hunter

20 Feb 2022 

NORWICH, United Kingdom: We’ve known since early on in the pandemic that COVID-19 reinfections could occur. One of the first reinfections reported was in a 33-year-old man from Hong Kong. His initial infection was diagnosed on Mar 26, 2020, with his second infection, with a genetically distinct virus, being diagnosed 142 days later.

Since then, reports of reinfection have become common, especially since the emergence of the Omicron variant. Early research from South Africa (awaiting review by other scientists) suggests that the risk of reinfection increased quickly and substantially after the variant arrived.

So why are reinfections increasing? The simple answer is because our immunity is often no longer sufficient to prevent an infection.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Commentary: WP’s woes underline pivotal choice facing Singaporeans

February 14, 2022 Committee of Privileges has recommended that Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (left) and
vice-chair Faisal Manap (right) be referred to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations for
lying under oath in their testimonies.


Is it the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?

The release of the Parliament’s Committee of Privileges (COP) report on Thursday (Feb 10) marked the end of the committee’s investigations into the lies told by former Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan in Parliament last August and October.

The COP has recommended that WP secretary-general and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and the party’s vice-chairman Faisal Manap be referred to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations for lying under oath in their testimonies.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Migrant worker’s tale of inequality grips China, then is erased

Jialun Deng/The New York Times

A migrant worker, who revealed a parallel universe to well-off Chinese, became a symbol of inequality that the Chinese government had to erase.

February 13, 2022

HONG KONG — He visited 28 places in the first 18 days of 2022, including a puppet theater, a few luxury residential compounds and a shopping mall in the heart of China’s equivalent of Silicon Valley.

He didn’t go to any of these places for fun. He was often there in the wee hours when they were deserted, to unload concrete and sand from trucks that weren’t allowed in the city until after midnight. He would be gone before day broke.

The migrant worker, surnamed “Yue,” toiled in obscurity until he tested positive for Covid-19 and authorities released the extensive details of his movements. After that, he became known as the hardest working person in China.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Why are young children contracting COVID-19 at such a high rate and what can parents do?

Jalelah Abu Baker

09 Feb 2022 

SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (Feb 8), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung revealed that among all age groups in Singapore, children are contracting COVID-19 at the highest rate.

The infection rate for children between the ages of five and 11 is about 67 per 100,000, followed by those aged 12 to 19, with an infection rate of about 55 per 100,000.

The Omicron variant is more likely to infect children than the Delta variant, added Mr Ong. To this end, public and private hospitals are setting up more beds for children, he said, and COVID-19 treatment facilities are also converting more beds for children and their caregivers.

But admitting children to hospitals and facilities is often “precautionary” in nature, he added, with short stays of about two to three days.

CNA spoke to health experts to find out why this age group has the highest infection rate and what parents should do.

Peng Shuai’s Weibo Post (with translation)

[Disclaimer: My Mandarin is VERY limited. So I cannot attest to the accuracy or veracity of either the original post, or the translation. Peng Shuai may well refute either the authenticity of the (alleged) Weibo post (but she has not!), or the translation or misunderstanding (which she has, but only to state generally, that it was an "enormous misunderstanding" but has not provided any specifics, or even the purpose of the Weibo post. So here's the text (in Mandarin) of her (alleged) original Weibo Post, and the translation provided by "What's on Weibo"]

Full Text Translation of Peng Shuai’s Weibo Post   

In a previous post, What’s on Weibo gave a partial translation of Peng’s Weibo post. Here, we will provide a full translation. Please note that this is a translation provided by What’s on Weibo and not an official translation issued by any other party.  

Monday, February 7, 2022

Singaporeans doing Italian (food)

 So there's a survey of what Italians think are the worst food crimes against Italian food, and how people around the world agree or disagree with the Italians.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Explainer: Why EU nations are lifting Covid-19 restrictions despite high case numbers and should Singapore do the same?

Several European Union countries are doing away with infection controls for Covid-19
Denmark has had none since Feb 1 and France said on Feb 2 that it will be lifing most restrictions
This is even though they have a high number of Covid-19 cases
The World Health Organization is, however, cautioning against relaxing curbs too quickly
Infectious diseases experts in Singapore said that the Government here may consider easing some restrictions


February 4, 2022

SINGAPORE — Several European Union (EU) countries are lifting most, if not, all of their Covid-19 restrictions, despite recording high number of Covid-19 cases.

Denmark removed all restrictions, including mask-wearing and Covid-19 vaccination passes, on Tuesday (Feb 1) — the first EU country to do so. 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story.

Original Article (link).

Splashy headlines have long overshadowed inconvenient truths about biology and economics. Now, extensive new research suggests the industry may be on a billion-dollar crash course with reality.

Alternative protein company Eat Just started selling small amounts of cultured chicken in Singapore earlier this year (2021).

Alternative protein company Eat Just started selling small amounts of
cultured chicken in Singapore earlier this year.

Paul Wood didn’t buy it.

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress

[From Sunday Times Jan 10, 2010]


Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives Michael Specter Penguin Press (2009)

A science and public-health writer for the New Yorker, Michael Specter tackles the disturbing trend of the 'denial of scientific advancement' among some Americans: perceiving science as harmful and turning to natural remedies as alternatives.

There's a lot to be said for buying locally grown produce: it can help sustain community farmers and focus attention on the quality of the environment. It tastes better, too.
But is organic food healthier for you than food that contains genetically engineered ingredients or that has been harvested by robot-guided combines instead of human hands? Is it more likely to sustain the planet or the majority of its inhabitants? And are organic fertilisers and pesticides clearly a more virtuous and earth-friendly choice for the consumer than those made of synthetic chemicals?
There are no short answers to those questions (at least none that are true). But there has certainly never been a study that would suggest the answer to any of them is a simple yes. There is no evidence, for example, that a single person has died or become seriously ill as a result of the accumulated residue of pesticides in their food.
The same cannot be said of the toxins contained in 'natural' food - as any number of salmonella outbreaks or raw milk poisonings in the United States continually demonstrate. In 2009, after salmonella and listeria contamination sent dozens of people to hospitals in six states, the Food and Drug Administration even warned Americans to avoid raw alfalfa sprouts - perhaps the signature food of a healthy, organic lifestyle.

Extracted by Chong Thong Yang from the National Library Board.
The book is available at NLB's public libraries. Call No.: English 306.45 SPE

Organic food just means that there are no inorganic (and thus artificial) fertilisers and pesticdes used to grow the food. Without pesticides to protect the fruit, pests may invade the fruit, so that organic fruit juice may just contain the ground up remains of an insect or other pests. But guess what? Those things are organic! So no false advertising there when they tell you the juice is 100% organic. Me, I'd prefer my juice to be 100% fruit.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Singapore could see more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases a day as Omicron wave hits: Health ministry

The Omicron variant now causes at least 70% of daily cases, says task force co-chair Gan Kim Yong.

Ang Hwee Min

21 Jan 2022 

SINGAPORE: Singapore will likely see a “significant wave” of COVID-19 soon, with the more infectious Omicron variant now causing at least 70 per cent of daily cases, said co-chair of the multi-ministry task force Gan Kim Yong on Friday (Jan 21).

“But in reality, the proportion is likely to be higher, perhaps close to 90 per cent or more. Omicron has clearly dominated over Delta variant in Singapore,” Mr Gan said at a press conference.

“Given that the Omicron variant is more infectious, it is likely that we will soon see a significant wave.” 

We are Taiwanese’: China’s growing menace hardens island’s identity

A shopping district in Taipei on Oct 5, 2021. More than ever, Taiwanese are embracing an identity that is distinct from
that of mainland China, a shift that is partly generational.  - 
The New York Times

January 23, 2022

CHIAYI (Taiwan) — When Ms Li Yuan-hsin, a 36-year-old high school teacher, travels abroad, people often assume she is Chinese.

No, she tells them. She is Taiwanese.

To her, the distinction is important. China may be the land of her ancestors, but Taiwan is where she was born and raised, a home she defines as much by its verdant mountains and bustling night markets as by its robust democracy.

In high school, she had planted a little blue flag on her desk to show support for her preferred political candidate; since then, she has voted in every presidential election.

“I love this island,” Ms Li said. “I love the freedom here.”

Friday, January 21, 2022

'If it's your time to go, it's time to go': Henan survivors pick up the pieces after deadly floods

Rescue teams try to reach flooded villages in Zhancheng, Henan province. (Photo: Olivia Siong) 

Olivia Siong

05 Aug 2021

ZHENGZHOU, Henan: For 11 hours, Zhu Gongjun perched precariously on a ladder in his home, watching floodwaters rise at an alarming rate.

Similar scenes played out across the city: Residents holding hands to cross streets covered in torrents of water, shop owners frantically moving goods to higher ground and people forced to stay the night at their workplace as the city's electricity and water supply came to a juddering halt.

And pure terror in Zhengzhou's subway system where more than a dozen people drowned in a flooded carriage.

CNA witnessed the aftermath of the deadly floods in July and spoke to survivors. These are their stories.