YOU may be up to date with the latest famiLEE news, but are you up to speed on what else is happening in Singapore? The past few days also had news on the arrest of two Singaporean auxiliary police officers under the ISA, a report that long-term unemployment rates have increased, a Singaporean teenager setting a world powerlifting record, report that obesity rates have increased and the G said that new laws to battle fake news will be out next year.
We’ve summarised these developments in bite-sized form:
1. Terrorism: Two more Singaporeans arrested under ISA; radical publications banned
Two Aetos auxiliary police officers were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in May, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revealed yesterday (Jun 20). Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 24, has been detained for planning to fight against Shi’ites alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) militia in Syria. His colleague Mohamad Rizal Wahid, 36, has been issued a Restriction Order (RO) for failing to report Khairul and suggesting ways to get to Syria.
Separately, the G has banned nine publications by extremist Singaporean preacher Rasul Dahri under the Undesirable Publishing Act, the Ministry for Communications and Information announced yesterday. In some of his works, the preacher called for Muslims to reject secularism and establish an Islamic state. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) called Rasul Dahri “exclusivist” and “hardline”, advising Muslims to “avoid such teachings”.
2. Economy: 2017 growth forecast raised, exports shrunk, no improvement in long-term unemployment
There’s mixed news in the economic sphere. The job market remains tough as long-term unemployment is at an eight-year high of 0.8 per cent in March, up by 0.1 percentage point from a year ago. The majority of those retrenched are professionals, managers, executives and technicians, who are also finding it difficult to re-enter the workforce.
There are some silver linings though. Unemployment in the first quarter was lower than projected by the Ministry of Manpower. Some 4,000 workers were laid off between January and March, down by nearly 1,500 from a year ago. And projections for economic growth are up, with private sector economists predicting 2.5 per cent growth, up from their forecast of 2.3 per cent in March.
3. Sports: Singapore Athletics feud; SG teen sets powerlifting record
Disputes between Singapore Athletics (SA) and track and field coach Ms Margaret Oh over the schedule for Ms Shanti Pereira’s training sessions and participation in events have been resolved. Ms Margaret Oh is the coach of 200m champion Ms Pereira, who won gold at the 2015 SEA games. Ms Pereira told The Straits Times on Monday (Jun 19) that “they had a good, positive discussion.” Both Ms Oh and Ms Pereira have agreed to join the pre-SEA Games centralised training camp next month. Ms Pereira will be competing in the Women’s 100m and 200m at this year’s SEA Games.
On a happier note, 17-year-old Mr Matthew Yap set a new world squat record at the World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Minsek, Belarus on Sunday. He lifted 208kg in his third attempt, overtaking Kazakhstan’s Mr Dmitriy Chebanov on the leaderboard to win a Gold medal. In addition to the win, Mr Yap has also won a bronze medal in the bench press and a silver medal for the overall standing in the competition.
4. Health: Obesity and STIs
Singapore is a makan paradise for the foodies. But overeating can take a toll on the health of the average Singaporean. Findings from the Health Promotion Board (HPB) showed that while Singaporeans are exercising more, they are also eating more. Six in 10 are exceeding the recommended food intake.
What’s worrying is that obesity rates could reach 15 per cent in seven years. ST reported that on average, the median body mass index (BMI) score for adults last year was 23.15 – outside of the healthy range.
In other health news, the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control (DSC) Clinic recently released figures that showed an increase in adolescents getting diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STI). In 2015, 421 boys and girls aged 10 to 19 contracted STIs. The year before there were 391 cases. This is an increase of 8 per cent from the year before, reported The Straits Times. The highest number of cases occurred in 2007 with 820 adolescents contracting STIs. Since then, the figure had been on a steady decline. Experts suggest that while adolescents here are generally aware that condoms are used as protection against STI, many simply choose to forgo using condoms.
5. Law: Fake news laws likely out next year
The G has decided to come up with new laws to battle fake news, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said on Monday at the opening of a two-day conference on fake news. Mr Shanmugam cited a poll by the G which showed the need for such laws. He said:“Around two-thirds [of Singaporeans] could not recognise fake news when they first saw it. And only around half are confident of their own ability to recognise fake news.”
In an ideal case, “most misinformation will be dealt with through a resilient society, responsible and effective media, and the innovation of Internet companies”. But in reality, the Minister said: “We cannot always rely on the content standards of the Internet giants… The Government will also need to update our toolbox.”
To achieve this, Minister Shanmugam said the G had surveyed the positions of three other jurisdictions: the European Union, Germany, and Israel. These jurisdictions are considering laws to compel social networks to take down illicit content.
Text by Sharanya Pillai, Danielle Goh, and Johannes Tjendro.
Featured image by Sean Chong.
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