Thursday, June 30, 2022

Putin still wants most of Ukraine, war outlook grim, says US intelligence chief

A Ukrainian soldier wounded by an artillery strike in Bakhmut, Ukraine, on June 23, 2022. PHOTO: NYTIMES

30 June 2022

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to seize most of Ukraine, but his forces are so degraded by combat that they likely can only achieve incremental gains in the near term, the top US intelligence officer said on Wednesday (June 29).

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, outlining the current US intelligence assessment of the more than four-month war, said that the consensus of US spy agencies is that it will grind on "for an extended period of time."

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

BBC asked Shanmugam about S'pore's 'social controls', 'draconian' drug laws and Section 377A. Here's how he responded

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam (left) was a guest on BBC journalist Stephen Sackur's podcast HardTalk.

  • Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam was a guest on the BBC's HardTalk programme, hosted by British journalist Stephen Sackur
  • Mr Sackur questioned the minister on Singapore's "social controls" and controversial laws such as the death penalty
  • Refuting facts presented by the journalist at several points, Mr Shanmugam set out why the Republic takes a tough stance on drugs
  • He also explained Singapore's approach on Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex
June 29, 2022

Monday, June 27, 2022

The Armed Uprising of 2024 (Or the Second American Civil War)

[These are excerpts from: 
Newsweek January 07 - 14, 2022
It makes a case for how American politics have become so fractured and the schism between Republicans and Democrats is widening into an unbridgeable chasm. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) have struck down a New York law that requires applicants for concealed carry permits to show that they have an actual need for a concealed weapon. This means anyone in New York can carry a concealed firearm. And that means that the next Storming of the Capital could be by armed protestors. The suggestion is that this schism might well lead to the Second American Civil War.]

A growing number of RADICALIZED REPUBLICANS are willing to grab their guns if the next presidential election doesn't go their way



MIKE “WOMPUS” NIEZNANY is a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who walks with a cane from the combat wounds he received during his service...

...Nieznany is no loner. His political comments on the social-media site Quora received 44,000 views in the first two weeks of November and more than 4 million overall. He is one of many rank-and-file Republicans who own guns and in recent months have talked openly of the need to take down—by force, if necessary—a federal government they see as illegitimate, overreaching and corrosive to American freedom...

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Large crowds outside The Cathay as people gather to watch busker perform

[Buskers don't usually attract thousands of people as an impromptu audience. Let alone in Singapore. 
So this is unusual. This is newsworthy. This is... an indication that Singaporeans are badly deprived of live (or free) entertainment?]

Eileen Chew
Lakeisha Leo

25 Jun 2022 

SINGAPORE: Large crowds were seen outside The Cathay at Handy Road in Dhoby Ghaut on Saturday (Jun 25) as people gathered to watch a popular busker perform.

Lessons for Singapore: Ukraine, Chinese Narrative, and Influence on Singaporeans

[This was from March 11, 2022, with related commentaries/opinions from April and March 19. It had languished in draft for too long.]

In defending principle of sovereignty, the only side S’pore is taking is our own: Bilahari Kausikan

It's "dangerous" to think that Singapore shouldn’t take sides since it's a small country.

Bilahari Kausikan

March 11, 2022

COMMENTARY: It is wrong for big countries to try to subjugate small countries by force. By defending this international norm, the only side Singapore is taking is its own, retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan opined.

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

He was previously Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from 2013 to 2018. Prior to this appointment, he was the Permanent Secretary of MFA from 2010 to 2013, and Second Permanent Secretary from 2001.

By Bilahari Kausikan

Nobody can read Putin’s mind. But I think whatever his goals may have been at the beginning of this war, they have surely changed by now.

Even if he had intended to move beyond Ukraine, that is now not on the cards. Putin has his hands full. Ukrainian resistance and the international response has been firmer and more widespread than Putin probably expected.

Friday, June 24, 2022

The US, divided within, needs to reinvent itself: Harvard's Graham Allison

Nirmal Ghosh
US Bureau Chief

5 MAY 2022

WASHINGTON - Psychologically, and perceptually, it is a difficult adjustment for the United States to accept a resurgent China, said Professor Graham Allison from Harvard, author of the seminal 2017 book Destined For War: Can America And China Escape Thucydides's Trap?

It was Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew who had predicted that China would be the biggest player in the history of the world, Prof Allison told The Straits Times in an interview for the video series Conversations on the Future.

Revanchism ala Mahathir

[Nostalgia. The one thing you can learn from the past, is to return to the good ole days. ]

Malaysia should demand for return of Singapore and Riau: Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir Mohamad spoke at Aku Melayu: Survival Bermula (I'm Malay: Survival Begins) on Sunday 19 June 2022. 

Amir Hussain

Tue, 21 June 2022

Singapore belonged to Johor and should be returned to the state and Malaysia, said former two-time Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"We should demand not just that Pedra Branca, or Pulau Batu Puteh, be returned to us, instead we should also demand for the return of Singapore and the Riau Islands to Malaysia as Malay lands," said the 96-year-old MP for Langkawi in a speech on Sunday (19 June). His comments drew applause from his audience.

Historically, Malay lands stretched from the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand to the Riau Islands, according to Dr Mahathir, whose speech was uploaded online by Astro Awani.

"But today, we are left with only the peninsula... I wonder whether we will continue to own this peninsula. I am worried for the future of Malays, whether the peninsula land will also be owned by another party," he added.

The reason for this future possibility is that the Malays are poor and those who are poor cannot enforce their rights, said Dr Mahathir.

Already, half of Malaysian land is owned by foreigners, he claimed in his speech titled Melayu dan Kelangsungan Bangsa (Malays and National Continuity).

"Many Malays are not aware that their country which once used to be big has become small. And even this small country they will lose because they are poor," he added.

Dr Mahathir was speaking at the event Aku Melayu: Survival Bermula (I'm Malay: Survival Begins) in Selangor. It was organised by Kongres Survival Melayu (Congress for Malay Survival), a grouping of several NGOs.

[Malay Survival? Clear-eyed pragmatic realism? Characteristic Malay humility? Exploitative appeal to sympathy? Or provocative subtle call to action? Such a manipulative event title.]

In 2008, the International Court of Justice awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore. Malaysia applied for a review of the judgment in 2017 but withdrew the review application a year later after Dr Mahathir became prime minister for the second time.

Dr Mahathir says ‘reclaim Singapore’ remark reported out of context

Malay Mail

June 23, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad clarified on Thursday (June 23) that a report of him saying Johor should reclaim Singapore and the Riau islands lacked the context to show he was mocking the idea.

On June 20, Singapore news outlet The Straits Times reported him as making the remarks in a speech the previous day [see below], which Dr Mahathir categorised as “inaccurate”.

“I am not asking Malaysia to claim the land that we had lost. I am trying to point out that we are so concerned over losing a table-size rock, Pulau Batu Puteh, but never about bigger parts of Malaysia when they were taken from us. Losing is no big deal. It was the mistake of the Johor government to deny that the rock belonged to Johor.

“Had that denial not been made, there would be no dispute now. We should be grateful that the world court awarded Pulau Ligitan and Sipadan to us. They are much more valuable than Pulau Batu Puteh — just a rock outcrop. We should be thankful that Indonesia has not disputed the award. Really, we are not grateful for our gains,” he said in a statement.

The Straits Times reported Dr Mahathir as saying Malaysia should not stop at claiming Pedra Branca, but also Singapore and the Riau islands as these were once part of the country.

In 2008, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) belonged to Singapore, while sovereignty over the nearby Terumbu Karang Tengah was awarded to Malaysia.

In 2017, the Malaysian government filed an application for review of the decision of the ICJ but the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under Dr Mahathir withdrew the application before the case was scheduled to be heard on June 11, 2018. 


[While it is good that he clarified, his statement was characteristic of him. So, being sarcastic requires one to have a reputation for NOT saying the sarcastic remarks sincerely, or the sarcasm fails. Alternatively, if your sincere (but stupid, revanchist) remarks are mocked, you can save face by saying you were just being sarcastic. The children should be fooled!] 

Ex-PM Mahathir says Malaysia should claim Singapore and Riau Islands

20 JUN 2022, 

Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that Singapore was once owned by Johor and the state of Johor should claim that Singapore be returned to it and to Malaysia.

"However, there is no demand whatsoever of Singapore. Instead, we show our appreciation to the leadership of this new country called Singapore," he added [mockingly?] during a speech on Sunday (June 19).

Tun Dr Mahathir also said the Malaysian government deemed it more valuable that they won control over the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan off Borneo against Indonesia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), while giving up a piece of rock "the size of a table" - Pedra Branca - to Singapore.

"We should demand not just that Pedra Branca, or Pulau Batu Puteh, be given back to us, we should also demand Singapore as well as the Riau Islands, as they are Tanah Melayu (Malay land)," he added to applause from the audience. [Playing to the crowd. Vintage Mahathir.]

The 96-year-old former premier, known for his controversial remarks, was speaking on Sunday at an event in Selangor organised by several non-governmental organisations under the banner Kongres Survival Melayu (Congress for Malay Survival) and titled Aku Melayu: Survival Bermula (I am Malay: Survival Begins).

In his opening speech, which was live-streamed on social media, Dr Mahathir, who is MP for Langkawi, said that what was known as Tanah Melayu used to be extensive, stretching from the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand all the way to the Riau Islands, and Singapore, but is now confined to the Malay Peninsula.

"I wonder whether the Malay Peninsula will belong to someone else in the future," he said.

He also said Malaysia today is not owned by bumiputera, because many Malays remain poor and they tend to sell their land.

Urging his audience to learn from the past, he said: "If we find we were wrong, we should rectify these wrongs so that our land remains Malay land."

The ICJ had in 2002 ruled that Sipadan and Ligitan belonged to Malaysia and not Indonesia.

In 2008, the ICJ ruled that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, while sovereignty over nearby Middle Rocks was awarded to Malaysia.

In 2017, Malaysia applied to the ICJ to revise this judgment. But in May 2018, after Dr Mahathir became prime minister again, Malaysia announced that it would discontinue the proceedings.

[One comment was that this was a veiled message to the Johor Sultan, or a challenge to the Johor Sultan. Their antagonism towards each other is known. Mahathir is trying to embarrass the Johor Sultanate.]

The rise of pro-China Singaporeans and what it means for Singapore

Justin Ong
Political Correspondent

20 MAR 2022

SINGAPORE - He runs his own tuition business, but Mr Michael Chan's biggest classroom is the website Quora.

There, the 50-year-old father of four has amassed millions of views over nearly a decade of responding to thousands of questions - many of which are about China.

Through posts that explain communism or rebut what he sees as Western media bias against Beijing, he sees his role as helping people better understand China.

This mission to enlighten comes from what he describes as a "pro-China" position - at a time of heightened tensions between the Asian giant and the United States.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Singapore begins importing renewable energy from Laos through Thailand and Malaysia

Ng Hong Siang

23 Jun 2022 

SINGAPORE: Singapore started importing renewable energy from Laos through Thailand and Malaysia on Thursday (Jun 23), after an initial two-year power purchase agreement was signed between Keppel Electric and Laos' state-owned Electricite du Laos (EDL).

The Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP) will import up to 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable hydropower using existing interconnections, marking the first multilateral cross-border electricity trade involving four ASEAN countries.

This is equivalent to about 1.5 per cent of Singapore's peak electricity demand in 2020, enough to power about 144,000 four-room HDB flats for a year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Commentary: Why China is not rising as a financial superpower

Unlike the US and Japan, China’s economic rise has not resulted in the yuan becoming a global currency. Beijing has not found the confidence to lift capital controls and make the yuan fully convertible, says the Financial Times’ Ruchir Sharma.

Ruchir Sharma

21 Jun 2022

NEW YORK: China’s rise on the world stage is perhaps this century’s most frequently repeated news story. The country’s economic footprint has expanded spectacularly. Its widening military reach has made recent headlines.

Yet as an aspiring financial superpower, China is going nowhere.

This has not happened before. The United States rose as an economic force and then as a financial power, before the dollar became the world’s leading currency in the 1920s. Previous empires, from Britain to 15th century Portugal, followed a similar arc, as investor Ray Dalio recently showed.

China is breaking the mould, rising rapidly as an economic force but glacially as a financial power.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Some Ang Mo Kio residents dismayed by top-up for similar-sized Sers replacement units

The HDB announced in April that four Ang Mo Kio HDB blocks had been selected under Sers.

Michelle Ng and Nellie Toh

15 JUN 2022

SINGAPORE - When part-time hairdresser Janice Ong learnt in April that her Ang Mo Kio Housing Board block was among the four picked for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), she thought she would be getting a brand-new flat with little to no extra money out of her pocket.

So it came as a shock to the 54-year-old when she realised that she might have to fork out more than $100,000, if she were to pick a similar-sized four-room flat at the Sers replacement site.

"I thought I could live here for the rest of my life, but now that I've just finished paying for the flat, they want me to pay another $100,000," said Madam Ong, who moved into the flat at Block 562 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 around six years ago with her husband. Their two daughters and a son-in-law live with them.

Friday, June 17, 2022

China launches third aircraft carrier, named after province opposite Taiwan

17 Jun 2022

This screengrab made from video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV shows the launch ceremony of the Fujian, a People's Liberation Army aircraft carrier, at a shipyard in Shanghai on Jun 17, 2022. (Photo: AFP/CCTV)

BEIJING: China launched its third aircraft carrier on Friday (Jun 17), the Fujian, named after the province opposite self-ruled Taiwan, sending a statement of intent to rivals as it modernises its military.

HDB facebook page on new drying racks hung out to dry for promoting same sex couple

 HDB amends graphic 'to avoid misunderstanding' after suggestions that original depicted same-sex couple

In Pakistan, people are being asked to drink less tea. Because, economy.

China is still trying to contain Covid. With lockdowns.

In the US, Gas (petrol) prices exceed US$5 (a gallon).

And the Malaysian government cannot keep prices of chicken low for their people. Even with a ban of chicken exports to Singapore.

And of course, over in Ukraine, they are fighting Russian invaders.