Monday, October 31, 2022

Branson says no to TV debate with Shanmugam, says conversation on death penalty 'needs local voices'

A composite photo showing British billionaire Richard Branson and Singapore Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.
(Photos: AFP, CNA)

31 Oct 2022

SINGAPORE: British billionaire Richard Branson declined the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) invitation to a debate on Singapore’s approach towards drugs and the death penalty, saying the conversation “needs local voices” and that a television debate “cannot do the complexity of the death penalty any service”.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Need for speed: Xi's new generals offer cohesion over China's possible Taiwan plans

Visitors stand in front of a giant screen displaying Chinese President Xi Jinping next to a flag of the Communist Party of
 China, at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing, China, Oct 8, 2022.
(File photo: REUTERS/Florence Lo)

27 Oct 2022 

HONG KONG: Chinese President Xi Jinping's new generals may have been selected for their political loyalty to him, but those ties could serve at least one vital military purpose in any Taiwan invasion plan: ensuring cohesion and decisiveness.

Although the Politburo's seven-man Standing Committee would make the ultimate decision on any Taiwan action, the Central Military Commission would forge and execute the battle plan, eight Asian and Western military attaches say.

What happened before Hu Jintao was escorted out of Congress? CNA captured rare footage in lead-up

A rare look at the moments leading up to the unexpected exit of former Chinese president Hu Jintao from the closing of the Communist Party Congress on Oct 22. Mr Hu was seen speaking to Mr Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature.

Chairman of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu speaking to former Chinese President Hu
Jintao moments before Mr Hu was unexpectedly escorted out of the Communist Party Congress. (Image: CNA)

Olivia Siong

25 Oct 2022

BEIJING: Rare footage captured by CNA in the moments before former Chinese president Hu Jintao's unexpected departure from the closing session of the Communist Party Congress on Saturday (Oct 22) may shed new light on the incident.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Commentary: Xi cements power at Chinese Communist Party congress, but is still exposed on the economy

For Chinese President Xi Jinping, getting the numbers to endorse himself and his underlings in leadership roles is one thing; shifting the economy back on track is quite another, says this writer.

A screen shows live news coverage of China’s President Xi Jinping speaking after introducing China’s new Politburo
Standing Committee, at a restaurant in Foshan city, in China’s southern Guangdong province on Oct 23, 2022.
(Photo: AFP/Jade Gao)

Tony Walker

25 Oct 2022

MELBOURNE: Xi Jinping’s clean sweep in elevating trusted allies to the commanding heights of the Chinese Communist Party is a political outcome that has implications beyond China’s borders.

Xi sits virtually unchallenged, for the time being, at the apex of a political organisation that oversees a country with the world’s second-largest economy, a rapidly modernising military and, perhaps most importantly, global ambitions to match its growing economic and military strength.

Global warming palpable for 96% of humans: Study

The researchers' tool measures the likelihood that unusually warm weather at a specific location on any given day
is due to climate change (Photo: AFP/Asaad NIAZI)

28 Oct 2022 

PARIS: Whether they realised it or not, some 7.6 billion people - 96 per cent of humanity - felt global warming's impact on temperatures over the last 12 months, researchers have said.

But some regions felt it far more sharply and frequently than others, according to a report based on peer-reviewed methods from Climate Central, a climate science think tank.

People in tropical regions and on small islands surrounded by heat-absorbing oceans were disproportionately impacted by human-induced temperature increases to which they barely contributed.

China’s chest-thumping nationalism now goes too far, movement’s godfather says

The New York Times

Mr Wang Xiaodong, a writer once called the standard-bearer of Chinese nationalism, at a bookstore in Beijing on Sept 1, 2022.

October 27, 2022

BEIJING — Mr Wang Xiaodong once gave a speech declaring that “China’s forward march is unstoppable”. He published essays calling on China to build up its military. He co-wrote a book, bluntly titled “China Is Unhappy”, in which he said the country should aim to control more land and shape global politics. “We should lead this world,” he said.

Now, Mr Wang, a 66-year-old Beijing-based writer once called the standard-bearer of Chinese nationalism, has another message: That nationalism has gone too far.

Only 5% of plastic waste generated by US last year was recycled, report says

Americans discarded 51m tons of plastic in 2021 – of which almost 95% ended up in landfills, oceans or scattered in the atmosphere

Not a single type of plastic packaging in the US meets the definition of recyclable used by either the FTC or
the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new plastic economy initiative. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Nina Lakhani 

Mon 24 Oct 2022

Only 5% of the mountains of plastic waste generated by US households last year was recycled, according to new research by Greenpeace.

Americans discarded 51m tons of wrappers, bottles and bags in 2021 – about 309lb of plastic per person – of which almost 95% ended up in landfills, oceans or scattered in the atmosphere in tiny toxic particles.

The plastics problem is not just down to wanton consumerism or laziness – in fact the situation would still be bad even if every household separated every piece of plastic and disposed of it in a dedicated recycling plant, according to Greenpeace.

Not a single type of plastic packaging in the US meets the definition of recyclable used by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new plastic economy initiative, the report found.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

It's a man's world: No more women leaders in China's Communist Party

Veteran politician Sun Chunlan was absent from the Central Committee list published on state media
(File photo: AFP/Leo Ramirez)

24 Oct 2022

BEIJING: The Communist Party Congress has laid bare the striking gender imbalance in the upper echelons of Chinese politics, with not a single woman making the 24-person Politburo for the first time in at least a quarter of a century.

As Xi Jinping and his allies concentrated power over the weekend, the party's highest-ranking woman leader retired.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Relocation of otters from Seletar was 'last resort' given the presence of pups and location of burrow: Experts

Setting up barriers to prevent the otters from accessing private estates and ponds is still a critical first measure, said experts.

Otters at Seletar estate in Singapore. (Photo: Otter Working Group/Marjorie Chong)

Koh Wan Ting

18 Oct 2022

SINGAPORE: The otters that were relocated from Seletar had been moved as a last resort due to the location of their burrow and the presence of pups.

Experts who spoke to CNA on Tuesday (Oct 18) said that exclusion measures – setting up barriers that would prevent otters from accessing compounds or fish ponds – remained a priority.

Last week, the family of six smooth-coated otters – three adults and three pups – were moved to an undisclosed area where they could access their natural food sources, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Monday.

The authorities carried out the operation with other members of the Otter Working Group, which includes the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), Mandai Wildlife Group, National University of Singapore (NUS), OtterCity, and OtterWatch.

China sees 'much faster timeline' on taking Taiwan, Blinken warns

Blinken made his comments on China at Stanford University (Photo: POOL/AFP/JOSH EDELSON)

18 Oct 2022

SAN FRANCISCO: Beijing wants to seize Taiwan "on a much faster timeline" than previously considered, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday (Oct 17), warning that President Xi Jinping was leading China in a more aggressive direction.

Xi is on the cusp of securing a third five-year term at the helm of the world's most populous nation, delivering a landmark Communist Party Congress speech on Sunday that hailed his decade in power and restated his vow to one day "reunify", or forcefully take, Taiwan.

"We've seen a very different China emerge in recent years under Xi Jinping's leadership," Blinken told a forum at Stanford University with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

"It is more repressive at home; it's more aggressive abroad. And in many instances that poses a challenge to our own interests as well as to our own values," he added.

Blinken accused Xi of "creating tremendous tension" by changing the approach toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China's Communist Party has never controlled but claims as its own.

He said China had made a "fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable, and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline", though he gave no hard estimate or date.

Senior US military figures have previously sounded the alarm that China has expanded its military forces to the point where it could soon have the capability to pull off an invasion of Taiwan.

China's stance has long been that it seeks "peaceful reunification" with Taiwan but reserves the right to use force if necessary, especially if the island ever formally declares independence.

But the rhetoric and actions towards Taiwan have become more pronounced under Xi, China's most assertive leader in a generation.

He has tied taking Taiwan to his landmark "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" and has previously said the goal of reunification cannot continue to be passed indefinitely from generation to generation.

In Sunday's speech, he repeated similar themes, saying the "wheels of history are rolling on towards China's reunification" and that "we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary".


Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine, which China has not condemned, has also raised fears that Beijing might try something similar against Taiwan's 23 million people.

Ties between Washington and Beijing have been at a decade-low ebb under both the administrations of Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden, over a range of issues from trade to security and human rights.

But Blinken said the world's two largest economies should be willing to cooperate on shared interests.

He said the world "fundamentally expects" the two powers to work together on climate change, global health and possibly drug trafficking.

Beijing "just has to be responsive to demand signals that it's getting from countries around the world to be a positive actor, not a negative actor, on issues that concern them".

China cut cooperation with the United States on climate change and drug trafficking in August as part of its protest against a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which also saw Beijing launch its biggest military drills yet around the island.

Xi is widely expected to meet President Biden on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit next month in Bali, their first meeting since the US leader took office.

Source: AFP/vc

Monday, October 17, 2022

China’s plans for military growth driven by ‘internal factors’, territorial security, say experts

File photo of a Chinese soldier holding his country's flag. (File photo: AFP/File/Vyacheslav Oseledko)

Jalelah Abu Baker

17 Oct 2022 

SINGAPORE: China’s plans for military growth, outlined by President Xi Jinping on Sunday (Oct 16), are driven by “internal factors” and territorial security, experts said.

Opening a week-long Chinese Community Party (CCP) meeting, Mr Xi said the country will accelerate the building of a world-class military and strengthen its ability to build a strategic deterrent capability.

“We will work faster to modernise military theory, personnel and weapons,” Mr Xi said in the nearly two-hour speech.

“This is mostly reaction to internal factors like history, like nationalism sentiment, rather than, you know some kind of ambition,” Dr Lance Gore from the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute told CNA’s Asia Now.

Friday, October 14, 2022

MAS tightens monetary policy for the fifth time in a year to dampen inflation

The central bank said that a further tightening of monetary policy is needed to help “ensure that price pressures are dampened over the next few quarters”.

Tang See Kit

14 Oct 2022 

SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has tightened monetary policy for the fifth time in a year, allowing a further strengthening in the Singapore dollar to help dampen inflation.

In its half-yearly monetary policy statement released on Friday (Oct 14), the Singapore central bank said it will re-centre the mid-point of the Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER) policy band “up to its prevailing level”.

The slope and width of the band were left unchanged.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Commentary: Putin has to be forced onto an off-ramp, not merely offered one

The West has argued President Vladimir Putin needs the option of calling a ceasefire that appears to offer Russia a degree of military success in Ukraine. But it is increasingly clear Putin will not take this option, says an academic.
A medical worker runs past a burning car after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct 10, 2022.
(AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)

Rod Thornton

12 Oct 2022 

LONDON: The world is now witness to a new phase in the Ukraine war. The attack on the Kerch bridge and the subsequent retaliatory Russian missiles strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities indicate that the war is escalating.

But just how far will this escalation go and is a full-scale nuclear exchange – however unthinkable – on the cards at some future point?

It is coming to be understood that the war in Ukraine needs to be prevented from assuming proportions that are dangerous for the entire world – and not just for Ukraine.

One argument advanced by US president Joe Biden last week is that the West should offer the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, an “off-ramp” – that is, a way out for him so that he can call a ceasefire that appears to offer Russia a degree of military success in Ukraine that Putin can take to his people and sell as a “victory”.

But it seems to be a pious hope. Putin, it is becoming increasingly clear, will have to be forced onto an off-ramp rather than merely being offered one.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Commentary: Don't put down 'overpriced' food in New York's first Singapore hawker centre

New York City’s first Singapore hawker centre has drawn flak for its high prices. Even amid rising food and energy costs, the burden is placed on hawkers to keep their dishes affordable, says cookbook author Pamelia Chia.

Pamelia Chia

01 Oct 2022 

DAYLESFORD, Australia: “Singapore is very pathetic, no Singaporean restaurants around the world … Hawkers should be looking overseas.”

So said KF Seetoh, one of Singapore’s biggest proponents of hawker food, in a January 2021 podcast episode that I recorded with him. We were speaking about the importance of Singapore hawkers earning a spot on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Singapore ranks No. 1 for best roads in the world, here's what some local drivers really think

OCTOBER 05, 2022


By now, it should not come as a surprise that Singapore typically crushes the competition in many world rankings.

And so it did, in a recent list of best roads around the world, where Singapore came in — you guessed it — first. 

It scored 9.44 over 10 points in terms of its road quality in a global study by Zutobi, which also took into account the number of road deaths and the relative size of the road network.