March 27, 2017

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BUT first, today is Budget Day. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will announce the national budget and measures to tackle the current economic slowdown and its attendant problems. Stay tuned to The Middle Ground as we report on and react to the announcement in the late afternoon.

Malaysia is looking for four North Korean men in connection with the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam. Rhi Ji Hyon, 33; Hong Song Hac; 34, O Jong Gil, 55; and Ri Jae Nam, 57 left for Jakarta after the attack last Monday (Feb 13) and Malaysian paper The Star reports that they are back in North Korea via the UAE and Russia.

Four others remain in custody – two women (Vietnamese and Indonesian), a Malaysian man, and a North Korean man. The whereabouts of three other men, one North Korean and two other unidentified men, are unknown.

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A larger proportion of each local university cohort can now be admitted through the discretionary admissions scheme. The shift away from a grades-only approach means that 15 per cent of each cohort, up from 10 per cent, can rely on interviews, essays, aptitude tests and portfolios to secure a place instead.

The G has also targeted that by 2020, 40 per cent of all students each year will attend local university.

Hiker Steward Lee, 27, is still missing in spite of a 70-man search of forested and nature reserve areas yesterday. The search team, comprising police, park rangers and volunteers who had responded to Mr Lee’s elder sister Lee Yunqin’s appeal on Facebook, spent four hours on the search.

Mr Lee was last seen at 2pm on Friday at Block 407 Fajar Road. He was wearing a plain black short-sleeved T-shirt and blue jeans with slippers and glasses.

If you have information on the missing hiker, please call the Police hotline (1800-255-0000) or make a report at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

 

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GROWING ambiguity of the global environment highlights not only Singapore’s vulnerability, but also the need for policies to adapt quickly to changes, to guarantee safety and prosperity.

On the geopolitical and military fronts: While the administration of President Donald Trump has not made active reference to the Asia-Pacific region or the engagement of the country in the region, Singapore’s defence minister Ng Eng Hen – at the sidelines of a security conference in Germany – met with new United States defence secretary James Mattis. They reaffirmed the “excellent and longstanding” bilateral ties between the two countries, and Dr Ng added that this first meeting gave assurance of stability and progress, with the hope that they had “moved things towards a much more predictable and stable environment that we all hope for.”

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On the economic front: Finance minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver his budget address tomorrow afternoon, and following mixed reviews of the report and recommendations proffered by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), even more strategies are expected: to help displaced workers, to support small and medium enterprises through a high-cost environment, and to focus on macroeconomic changes. Mr Heng must also navigate around the growing predilection for protectionism and the threats of disruption to older industries, both of which leave Singapore vulnerable to lower economic growth rates as well as higher competition rates.

In other news, on another form of vulnerability: Malays in Singapore are three times more likely than the Chinese and two times more likely than the Indians to suffer from kidney failure, and over the past 10 years the kidney failure rate among Malays has increased by 50 per cent. Doctors and medical researchers have attributed these trends to the higher incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure, the levels of exercise and smoking, and delayed diagnosis too. Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said health and wellness programmes are in place: “We need to focus more on the young, rather than waiting until [the] illness strikes.”

Overall, every two days in Singapore nine lose the use of their kidneys, and based on the number of patients on dialysis per million people, the country is ranked third in the world.

And finally, the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) celebrated its 25th anniversary yesterday, and to complement its counselling endeavours and the projects to raise awareness of cancer in Singapore, the organisation is looking to help vulnerable beneficiaries through two new programmes – during the treatment period and beyond – to provide psychosocial support and nutritional care. CCF will be working with the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital on these new programmes.

 

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MEDIAN household income grew by 2.6 per cent to $8,846 in 2016, lower than 2015’s 4.9 per cent. The slower growth most affected the ends of the spectrum, with the bottom 10 per cent of earners seeing growth of only 1.4 per cent, compared to 10.7 per cent in 2015, and the top 10 per cent of earners saw their growth slow to 0.2 per cent from 7.2 per cent in 2015.

At the same time, the Gini Coefficient, which measures income inequality, also fell to 0.458 in 2016, lower than 0.463 in 2015. After transfers from the G in the form of subsidies and taxes are taken into account, the Gini stands at 0.402.

It’s a sign of the times, as an embattled economy drags down overall growth in spite of bright spots in tourism and manufacturing. Oil and gas remain in a critical state, which has had a knock-on effect on banking, finance and insurance companies, from which a larger proportion of high earners derive their income.

DBS reported a 9 per cent drop in Q4 profits, and on Tuesday (Feb 14) OCBC said its fourth quarter earnings had fallen by 18 per cent.

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A second woman and a man, said to be her boyfriend, have been arrested in connection with the killing of Mr Kim Jong-Nam in Malaysia. Malaysian police confirmed that the first woman arrested, a 28-year-old with a Vietnamese passport, was the suspect pictured wearing a white shirt with “LOL” printed on it.

The second woman, identified as Siti Aishah in her Indonesian passport, worked with her partner. Siti Aishah distracted Mr Kim by standing in front of him while the other woman grabbed Mr Kim from behind in a chokehold and administered the fatal poison.

Their escape was short-lived thanks to the many cameras deployed at the airport. Authorities are still seeking other suspects as “there are definitely other individuals involved” according to Malaysian Police Special Branch director Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

Word is emerging from sources close to China that North Korea had nothing to do with the assassination, even as Malaysian authorities continue to track the work of “foreign agents”. Malaysia has now said that they could release Mr Kim’s body to North Korea once all due process had been followed in Malaysia.

 

 

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FIRST up on our list is Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore‘s (AVA) new reason for culling chickens (or was it *gasp* red junglefowl?) In a letter to Today’s Voices page, Dr Yap Him Hoo, director-general of the AVA, says that the birds were culled because of the risk of bird flu due to rising populations getting infected by migratory birds.

Dr Yap said that media reports had given the wrong impression that the birds were killed because of complaints about noise, when in fact it was the noise complaints that drew AVA’s attention to a rising risk of bird flu.

No mention was made of why the clarification came only two weeks after the first news reports. No word of the clarification was published in ST.

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Second: the case of the golden anus. A man has been arrested after landing in Hyderabad coming from Singapore because he was smuggling 2kg of gold bars, 1.2kg of which were shoved up his yoo-hoo. The rest were hidden in LED lamps, which would have helped with the search where the sun don’t shine.

The total gold seized was worth $126,000, although it is unclear if there is a post-rectal discount when buying bars that have been ‘processed’ through the ‘Hershey Highway’.

Gold smuggling is a regular pain in the ass for customs officials in India, the world’s largest consumer of gold. Smuggled gold often comes in through the back door from places like Singapore and Dubai.

Third: a second falling tree lands a 48-year-old woman in the hospital. The incident happened in a car park in Yuan Ching Road on Monday (Jan 13) afternoon.

The large tree also crushed the open passenger door of a parked lorry. It’s been a windy few days – please be alert for danger.

Fourth: one taxi driver’s reason for this behaviour:

The unnamed 69-year-old driver told Lianhe Wanbao that the incident happened because his taxi was spoiled and because he was being considerate.

He said that he wanted to be considerate and leave more space for the car in front after parking, but when he put the car in reverse, nothing happened, and then when he shifted into neutral, the car moved forward.

“I was already parked, if I hadn’t been so considerate, none of this would have happened,” he told Wanbao. Consideration remains a possibility as police have only ruled out drink driving or dispute as causes of the accident.

And finally, a Public Transport Council poll of 1,526 commuters (1,004 were polled after getting off a taxi, and 522 after getting off a private car) showed that Grab and Uber have not had a significant impact on the number of daily taxi rides (967,000 average daily rides in 2013 vs 954,000 last year).

It seems that private car drivers aren’t eating that much into the taxi pie – most of it is new demand.

Grab and Uber fared better than taxis in all comparable categories: waiting time, ease of booking, information on services, ride comfort, knowledge of routes, customer service and safety.

Overall,  97.3 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with private hire car services, compared with 94.4 per cent for taxis.

So, tell us whether you believe all this.

 

 

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CAN we tell when a tree will fall? The National Parks Board (Nparks) was quick to say that all trees in the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Palm Valley had been inspected and were safe, after a woman was killed and four others were injured by a falling heritage tree on Saturday (Feb 11).

But at the same time, authorities were quick to point out that the fallen 270-year old tree had been inspected in September 2016 and was healthy. So, is the announcement about healthy trees supposed to reassure the public, or is it that any tree could fall, even a seemingly healthy one?

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A North Korean ballistic missile test was testing US President Donald Trump’s reaction to the hermit kingdom. Mr Trump said that the US is “behind Japan, its great ally, 100 per cent”, and issued a joint statement rebuking North Korea for the launch.

White House adviser Stephen Miller also said that the US would “reinforce and strengthen our vital alliances in the Pacific region as part of our strategy to deter and prevent the increasing hostility that we’ve seen in recent years from the North Korean regime.”

The reaction hints at Mr Trump’s willingness to get tougher on Pyongyang than previous administrations did. Which policy levers he will use to put pressure on the North, however, are not yet clear.

Mr Trump also said he will bring down the cost of the wall he wants to build along the Mexican border. The initial cost estimated was for US$21.6 million, much higher than the US$12 million figure that Mr Trump had floated during his presidential campaign trail. He pointed to how the cost of the F-35 and Air Force One projects dropped after he got involved, tweeting that for the wall, the “price will come WAY DOWN!”

Another wall to come down is the one between Singapore’s Jobs Bank website and the Individual Learning Portfolio ran by SkillsFuture Singapore. The new site will integrate training, learning and landing a job, and could provide data on training and job matching, helping to guide individual choices and pathways as well as policy-level decisions. The Jobs Bank will also be enhanced this year based on feedback from users.

 

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FOR a paper published in this month’s issue of the Environmental Research Letters journal, Ms Yuan Lin, Mr Lahiru Wijedasa and Dr Ryan Chisholm from the National University of Singapore (NUS) asked 390 people of varying ages and income brackets this: from a range of 0.05 per cent to 5 per cent, how much of one’s annual income is worth giving to secure clean air?

About 0.97 per cent, it turns out. In real terms, that amounts to USD$643.5 million (SGD$913 million) a year.

Transboundary haze is a long-standing problem in the South-east Asian region, largely caused by the drainage of carbon-rich peatland as well as companies and farmers in Indonesia using fire to clear land. Singapore experienced its worst haze episode in 2015 from September to November, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels.

“[Sufficiently] negative impacts” from the air pollution make compelling enough the reason to trade-off “personal financial gain” for an improved environment, the NUS researchers concluded. At least it is, to a certain point, and to most people. Three out of 10 interviewees remained unconvinced of the need to pay at all.

The underlying challenge between personal comfort and environmental responsibility is valid too for people of these countries. 

 

1. Beijing, China – smog data control tightened

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Image from Flickr user Kevin Dooley.

It was announced on Tuesday (Feb 7) in People’s Daily, China’s state newspaper, that the Beijing government has established a national network that will track the smog affecting several major cities. It will use a combination of data gathered from manual sampling stations, satellite sensing and airborne platforms to generate reports about the air quality. This national system replaces the manual smog tracking system of local meteorological stations, which smog alert services the China Meteorological Administration suspended on Jan 17.

The People’s Daily’s article reported that this change of monitoring structure was to better pollution reduction and prevent falsified data. Last year in October, environmental protection officials in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, were caught producing false numbers about the air quality by tampering with the monitoring equipment.

Public anger against China’s infamous smog condition has been rising. When the local smog alert service was suspended, citizens took to severely criticising the authorities online and raising suspicions of information suppression. Independent media outlets have complained about being told to take down articles that are derisive of Beijing’s efforts.  A Peking University study published on Feb 4, 2015, claiming that the smog had caused 257,000 excess deaths in 31 Chinese cities cannot be found online.

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2. Fukushima, Japan – radiation reading the highest since 2011

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Image from Wikimedia Commons by Digital Globe.

On Monday (Feb 6), China urged the Japanese government to detail plans on how to tackle the radiation from the broken reactors of the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It was responding to utility operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revelation that radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor 2 was at 530 sieverts per hour.

This is the highest reading calculated since the March 2011 meltdown of the three reactors in the plant, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami and followed a few days later with the breaking down of the fourth reactor. The previous highest reading was 73 sieverts per hour.

According to Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4 sieverts of radiation exposure already would kill 1 in 2 people. Japan Times, an English language newspaper in Japan, reported that experts have claimed this reading as “unimaginable” and that an institute official said medical professionals have never considered dealing with this level of radiation.

Mr Azby Brown, a member of a radiation-monitoring citizen science organisation called Safecast cautioned against unnecessary alarm by noting that this reading reflected radiation activity inside the reactor and not what was happening in the wider area of Fukushima.

 

3. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – toxic smog failed to abate

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Image from Flickr user Einar Fredriksen.

Reuters, the international news agency, produced an article this week about the smog that has been shrouding the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, created from the smoke from thousands of chimneys. The World Health Organisation has set acceptable standard of harmful breathable particles existing in the air, known as PM2.5, at 20-25 micrograms per cubic metre. Late last month, the reading in Ulaanbaatar hit 855 micrograms per cubic metre, at least over 30 times that limit.

But this pollution is also a socio-economic problem.  About 80 per cent of the smog comes from what is known as the “ger” districts found at the edge of the city, said Mr Tsogtbaatar Byamba, director of Mongolia’s Institute of Public Health. “Ger” districts are a mass of traditional tents, housing ex-herders who migrated to the city upon losing all their livestock to the harsh environment and weather conditions. Winter could be fierce in Ulaanbaatar and these poor would burn whatever they can get their hands on – coal, wood and even trash – to keep warm.

To tackle the smog, the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Mr S. Batbold, had announced on Jan 9 measures that heightened restriction of migrants to the capital. It would accept only those who need long-term medical care, already owning homes or mortgage loan.

Still, the pollution failed to abate. So, on Jan 28, near 7,000 protestors gathered in the capital’s Chinggis Square to signal their dissatisfaction against the authorities’ inability to improve air condition.

 

4. London, United Kingdom – multiple failings in applying environmental laws

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Image from Flickr user David Holt.

The European Commission released the Environmental Implementation Review on Monday (Feb 6) which pointed at the United Kingdom (UK) as one of the 23 member states within the European Union (EU) that failed to meet air pollution quality standards.

The review aimed to improve implementation of EU’s current environmental legislation and policies, which UK has been in breach of since 2010 when it first crossed safety limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). In fact, within just five days of 2017, it was reported that London overshot its annual air pollution limit. Not only has UK failed in effectively applying laws on air quality, laws on water standards and conservation of several species, particularly marine porpoises, have not been followed. Until the Brexit deal is realised, UK remains obliged to fulfill all EU’s environmental regulations.

According to the review, about 50,000 Britons have died prematurely from illnesses related to the country’s air pollution. Also, six million working days are wasted, at the cost of €28 billion (or SGD$49.7 billion) per year.

 

5. Dakota, United States – US Army has given approval to complete Dakota Access pipeline

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Image from Wikimedia Commons by Pax Ahimsa Gethen.

On Tuesday (Feb 7), the United States (US) Army granted the last permit, or easement, needed to allow the final section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline to be built under North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, which forms part of the Missouri River system. Should construction process goes well, the USD$3.8 billion pipeline can begin operation by June.

This project became controversial because of resistance by The Standing Rock Sioux, a native American tribe which contended that the pipeline desecrates sacred sites and could potentially pollute its water source. Protest camps sprung up in the North Dakota plains, where thousands gathered last year to show their support for the tribe. Activists clashed several times with law enforcers, with more than 600 people arrested. In late November, the police even used water cannons in the -4°C weather against them. The previous US president, Mr Barack Obama, allowed a delay in the completion of the pipeline because of this protest and instructed last December for an environmental study to be carried out.

However, the suspension of the project was overturned when the current president, Trump, ordered on Jan 24 a continuation of the construction. Supporters of the pipeline believe that it is safer to transport oil using a pipeline than by rail or trucks. Then, less than a fortnight after, the Army said that it would cancel the study. Mr Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army stated that there was already enough information on the likely effect on the environment to make a decision about whether to grant the easement.

The tribe and its supporters are not accepting the recent development. Mr Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the activist groups, promised even greater “mass resistance”.

 

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SO THE United States President has scaled down his antagonism towards China. Mr Donald Trump decided that the US should honour the One China policy acknowledging its sovereignty over Taiwan. But, according to the White House, he did it “at the request of” Chinese President Xi Jinping.

What gives? Did the Chinese have to persuade or cajole or threaten or grovel before he made the statement? Whatever transpired during the phone call between the two men, China is content to put its best face forward.

Its PR machinery has been in overdrive in the past two days painting an improved relationship between the two countries. China made much of a letter by Mr Trump, received 11 days after Chinese New Year, recording his new year wishes and how he “looks forward to working with President Xi to develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China”.

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Now, it has a phone call to add to the tally of nice Trump language. Analysts are saying that Mr Trump had no choice but to dial back on his rhetoric given Chinese sensitivities over the Taiwan issue. He had taken a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-Wen, provoking an angry response from China which views Taiwan as a renegade province. He had also committed a grave diplomatic sin by questioning the One China policy and had seemed intent to use it as a bargaining chip in US-China ties.

The Taiwan phone call was panned but the latest phone call seemed to have papered over the damage.

An editorial in a Chinese newspaper, Global Times, said the phone call “is a sign that some confusion in the relationship has been sorted out at the current stage… The Sino-US ties have, after a little shiver, returned to where they are supposed to stand.”

Has Mr Trump also taken back his words on China being a currency manipulator and his intention to put 45 per cent tariffs on Chinese imports? Was any deal done to secure the statement from the White House? And what about the South China Sea where the Chinese are going ahead with its military construction activities on disputed isles? Various conflicting noises have come from Mr Trump’s team including denying China access to the isles, which looked like an invitation to a showdown.

The US Pacific Fleet said yesterday that two military aircraft from China and the US had an “unsafe” encounter on Wednesday over the disputed Scarborough Shoal, reported Bloomberg.

A People’s Liberation Army Air Force KJ-200 surveillance plane had “an interaction characterised by US Pacific Command as ‘unsafe’ with a Navy P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft”, said a Pacific Command spokesman Robert Shuford.

Plenty of euphemisms here. Is an unsafe encounter the same as a dangerous encounter?

Hopefully, the resourceful American media will get hold of the transcript of the phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Xi, even though they have been put on notice by the White House which is cracking down on leaks.

 

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THE Committee on the Future Economy, tasked with keeping the Singapore economy competitive, announced a seven-point roadmap to position Singapore for the future:

1. Deepen and diversify international connections
2. Acquire and utilise deep skills
3. Strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate and scale up
4. Build strong digital capabilities
5. Develop a vibrant and connected city of opportunity
6. Develop and implement Industry Transformation Maps
7. Partner each other to enable innovation and growth

What’s that work out to? What changes now? Read it all in CFE report: So what’s the big idea?

If only there was also a committee to stop the Yishun cat killer. Two more cats were found dead, one with its throat slit and another with its face mangled, in photos posted in the Yishun 326 Tabby Cat group on Facebook.

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Just how many of these criminals are out there? Two men have already been arrested in relation to cat abuse in the area, one of whom has been sentenced to 18 months of probation. But the killing goes on.

Two other notorious alleged criminals are also in the news. Canadian James Roach is being investigated by Thai authorities for failing to declare to customs that he was bringing in more than US$20,000 in cash.

Roach has been held in remand in Thailand since allegedly robbing the Holland Village Standard Chartered bank branch in Singapore of S$30,000 in July 2016. Thailand has rejected Singapore’s request for extradition, saying that it is “not in the position to consider it”.

Lim Chai Heng, the driver of the Mercedes that went against traffic on the AYE in December 2016, killing one and injuring four others, has been offered bail of S$50,000. He has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine.

The prosecution had asked for S$100,000 but the defence asked for $30,000, claiming that the family could not raise the money. One is forgiven for wondering how much a Mercedes costs.

 

 

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THE price of water will go up this year after 17 years, and the hike will pay for Singapore’s increased reliance on more expensive sources of water like desalination plants and NEWater, which make up about 25 per cent of supply. Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli framed the new pricing as a way to boost Singapore’s water security.

Cheaper water sources – local catchment and water from Johor – have not been able to supply all of Singapore’s 430 million gallon per day consumption, especially when weather patterns are erratic. A price hike will better represent the current cost of consumption.

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By 2060, about the time our water deal with Malaysia ends, Singapore will rely on desalination and NEWater for 85 per cent of its supply, and total consumption is expected to be double what it is today. Guess water will be even more costly then.

Will higher prices make us more mindful of how much we use? The current average consumption per person per day is about 151 litres, and PUB hopes to reduce this to 147 litres per day by 2020, and 140 litres per day by 2030. Someone’s got to show me where all of that 151 litres goes.

Have you served your National Service? To mark 50 years of NS, more than a million Singaporeans who have ever served or are currently serving NS will get $100 worth of vouchers and one year’s free membership to Safra or HomeTeamNS. You’ll get your vouchers in the mail.

The goodies are part of a year-long celebration of NS and those who served, so expect a series of events to mark the occasion, including an NS50 Week, to be held from Aug 1 to 10.

Service to the nation will start again for the nine Terrex Infantry Carriers that returned to Singapore last week after being seized by Hong Kong for two months. Inspections of the vehicles have concluded and they will be put back into action.

Finally, on the job front, Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say spoke out against Surbana Jurong’s labelling of terminated workers as “poor performers”. He answered questions in Parliament about the case, which were mostly clarifications on process and standards pertaining to terminations and performance appraisals. The option to file an appeal with MOM is open to any worker who believes he has been unfairly dismissed.

 

 

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IN SPITE of the longstanding efforts to raise awareness, the raising of the maximum fines, and the recent enlistment of community volunteers to catch litterbugs, the number of fines meted out for littering reached a seven-year high in 2016. More than 31,000 fines – a 19 per cent increase from 2015 and a 55 per cent increase from 2014 – and more than 1,700 corrective work orders (CWOs) were issued last year. Public Hygiene Council chairman Edward D’Silva is now calling for even tougher enforcement efforts so as to revive the “stick”, while chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for the Environment Lee Bee Wah said that: “Even as Singaporeans become richer and more educated, some of them have lost their civic consciousness.”

It is not clear, however, whether the number of fines and CWOs were adjusted for population increase, on a per-capita basis, and whether both Mr D’Silva and Ms Lee had access to demographic information of these offenders.

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Littering and poor waste management have adverse effects on the environment too. On the eighth day of the Chinese New Year, the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and its 67 volunteers collected 888 kilograms of rubbish – a figure which may be auspicious to some, since the number eight sounds like prosperity in some Chinese languages – from the Lim Chu Kang mangrove. The group has been regularly cleaning the mangrove since 1992, and the cleanup effort is an extension of the regular cleanups at the coasts along the island. Among the waste items collected? Small items such as drinking straws and plastic cups, as well as bigger items such as tyres, water drums, and motorcycle helmets.

Old habits may die hard, but getting people to pick up new, healthy habits can be difficult too. The G – through ActiveSG, the national movement for sports – is looking to get more senior citizens to be involved in fitness activities. These senior citizens currently make up 11 per cent of the 1.2 million ActiveSG members in Singapore, and the G is now working with young people to reach out to even older Singaporeans. In addition, Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin said that a senior sports club is in the pipeline, which he hopes will further “encourage seniors to rope in their friends to exercise”.

And finally, Singapore on the whole too must pick up new habits, if it is to thrive in an uncertain future. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing highlighted three things to be done: for business to reduce their need for manpower, for firms to expand beyond Singapore, and for Singapore to create an innovation-friendly environment. Along this tangent – and ahead of the forthcoming report by the Committee on the Future Economy – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong focused on the challenges and opportunities in the geopolitical arena. “We have to stay united, understand what is important to Singapore as we manage our foreign relations and we find news paths ahead together,” he added.

 

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