April 28, 2017


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It’s Tuesday, June 30 and we hope you’ve got over your first-day-of-school blues. Well, the children of Tanjong Katong Primary who lost seven school mates and two teachers in the wake of the Sabah quake are trying to, with principal Caroline Wu rallying the school to “bounce back”. Our best wishes to them.

On a more upbeat note, Singapore and Australia are aiming to be more than just friends, but “family”, a description used by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who was here for a visit. The two countries are getting more than mate-y with a comprehensive strategic partnership signed yesterday. Basically, it means both sides are throwing open its doors wider to each other, whether for business, investment or for people to move in and out for work or play.

Singapore is now also part of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, one of 50 countries to have signed on the dotted line yesterday. The United States and Japan, worrying about China’s increasing clout in the region, were notable absentees.

Following the explosion in Taiwan which may have been sparked by a cigarette butt in contact with coloured powder thrown into the air, questions are being asked about the safety of the Sentosa Colour Run that will take place on Aug 22 and 23. Organisers point out that they have held more than 500 global events with zero fire incidents. Their coloured powder is made of “food grade corn starch and is 100 per cent natural and safe”, is not the same as the one used in Taiwan and has successfully passed European Union standards for flammability. SCDF says it doesn’t regulate corn starch (!) but warns that fine particles dispersed in the air could cause a flash fire when in contact with a heat source. In other words, it’s up to you whether you want to take part or not.

Here’s what Ms Siti Nadzirah Samsudin, a research assistant at the Institute of Policy Studies of the National University of Singapore wrote in TODAY about the LGBT debate here which will doubtless fire up following the nod given to gay marriage in the US.

The lack of diversity in the debate is worrying for two reasons. First, the religion-versus-rights-only debate does not lead to mutual understanding. This is illustrated through a 2014 study done by researchers from Nanyang Technological University. They analysed nearly 10,500 comments left on two different online petitions in 2007 that called for a repeal or retention of Section 377A, the law that criminalises male homosexual sex.

They found that the “retain” side argued almost exclusively from a religious perspective. The “repeal” side, however, focused on the rights perspective. Neither side engaged one another or invoked other perspectives.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Government justifies its LGBT policies based on public opinion. At a Singapore Perspective Conference 2013 organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said “the conservative roots in society” is the reason that the “status quo will remain”. The question, then, is on what basis are the uninformed middle ground, whose views influence state policies, forming their opinions on LGBT issues?


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It’s June 29, Monday, the start of the work week, and half of 2015 is about to be over soon. The news today is mainly about “closings” and “openings”.

If you’ve been thinking of catching the Lee Kuan Yew memorial exhibition in the National Museum, you’re too late! It closed yesterday, three months after his funeral on March 28. But the exhibits will be curated and placed in the Permanent Galleries of the museum, according to a TODAY report. It isn’t clear what this means, such as whether the exhibits will be simply be moved from one place to another – and when you can catch a glimpse of the late Mr Lee’s famous “red box”.

Alexandra Hospital closes its doors today, while Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong will throw theirs open tomorrow. In case you didn’t know, there’s plenty of history in that old colonial style hospital that was built in the 1930s as a military hospital for the British. In February 1942, Japanese soldiers invaded the hospital and massacred wounded patients and medical staff. It will be closed for maintenance works, and is expected to be re-opened in the third quarter.

Nightclub Zouk has found a new home, in Clarke Quay. Told to move from its Jiak Kim Street premises by next May, it’s finally secured a spot vacated by LifeBrandz group in Block C. It will be opened in the middle to third quarter of next year. By the way, it will occupy a smaller place, about 30,000sq ft compared to its current 40,000 ft.

The construction of Stage 2 of the Down Town line, which ran into problems because its contractor went bust, is back on track and slated to open in December. Bukit Panjang residents, who were told earlier this week that their ageing LRT network will have a “mid-life overhaul”, will be able to shave off 20 minutes of travelling time into town.

And here are a couple of mysteries:

a. What exactly caused the fire that injured more than 500 people, including one Singaporean at a Taiwan festival at a water park? Some say that a coloured powder strewn from the stage ignited. Except that it is made from cornstarch…

b. The National Day mobile column – the one with the tanks and such – will be a tribute to pioneers, according to organisers. But it won’t be travelling through the heartlands. It is sticking to the Marina Bay area because, its spokesman said,  “we wanted to bring the mobile column closer to the people, closer to Singaporeans around the bay”. Hmm, who exactly is he talking about?


AFTERNOTE: According to BBC, the powder in the fire in Taiwan is made of “dried corn and can be highly flammable”, which may have ignited from sparks from machinery or the heat from the lights on the stage.



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It’s Sunday, June 28 and our first batch of SAF Volunteers has completed their training. The group, which included women, permanent residents and new citizens, capped their two-week stint off with a ceremony at Maju Camp and will be serving up to seven days a year in their assigned vocations.

More developments have emerged on the triple terror attacks: Britain faces the prospect of its worst terror death toll in a decade as reports emerge that the majority of the 38 deaths in the Tunisia shooting are British. Travel agencies have begun evacuating tourists from the areas near the attack site.

Thousands took part in the funerals of the 27 victims of the Kuwait suicide bombing of a shi’ite mosque. Participants chanted that “Sunnis and Shi’ites are brothers”, even as sectarian tensions come under scrutiny in majority-Sunni Kuwait.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Tunisia and Kuwait attacks but no group has yet taken responsibility for the French beheading of transport firm owner Herve Cornara by his employee.

Along with grief and fear is jubilation from the ruling that legalises gay marriage across the USA. The Supreme Court ruled that it was a constitutional right that gay couples should enjoy. Even as the announcement spread throughout social media worldwide, members of the judiciary in the Deep South decried the ruling, vowing to do what it takes to overcome the “errant” Supreme Court.



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It’s Saturday, June 27, and we’re living in a dangerous world.

A gunman opened fire at a resort in Tunisia, a suicide bomber detonated himself at a Kuwaiti mosque and a few terrorists stormed a US-owned industrial plant in France, where they decapitated a man and pinned his head to the gate. All three attacks happened about the same time yesterday but it isn’t clear if they were co-ordinated. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Kuwaiti attack, which killed at least 27 people and injured more than 200 worshippers. ISIS described the mosque as a “temple of the rejectionists”, which means it doesn’t agree with the Kuwaiti brand of Islam. And hence, the extermination.

On the homefront:

a. SAF will have its first female general in Colonel Gan Siow Huang, 40, a mother of three. (More to come)

b. If you are on an integrated health insurance plan or IP, you don’t have to worry that your insurer kicks up your premium when Medishield Life kicks in. The insurers have pledged zero increase in premiums for the first year, even if your IP is for coverage at private hospitals.

c. The 23 SCDF officers caught on video trashing their dorm are going to be demoted OR fined OR put in detention OR dismissed. That’s what the SCDF said after spending TWO months investigating the incident. And it didn’t say when it will decide on the punishments. Maybe in another two months?

It’s going to be hotter and drier here in the coming months, if you like your weather that way.


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Morning call at 8.30!

Yay! It’s Friday, and here’s to the weekend to come!

If you are driving under the influence of medication, please stop and park the car somewhere, and take the bus or train. Another motorist has killed a man because he was driving while on medication for his wisdom tooth, the court heard yesterday. Remember the driver who knocked down a group of people standing around the stationary car along the CTE? Yes, the Korean family. He, too, was on a whole lot of tranquillizers.

The ageing and problem-ridden Bukit Panjang LRT is going through a massive upgrade over the coming months. Residents can expect fewer delays and smoother rides but some experts are asking if the whole design of the system should be re-looked. Unlike LRT lines in Sengkang and Punggol where the network was integrated into the development making them accessible, the Bukit Panjang LRT was added on to an already built-up estate.

Please also note that a phishing e-mail is making its rounds asking you to verify your SingPass account. Don’t be silly enough to respond to it. Someone is just trying to get your personal details.

Also, a think tank here has published a survey on what Singaporeans think of the future. Eight in 10 are upbeat, ST reported. Asked about the biggest challenges ahead, their top concerns are on dealing with population growth/overcrowding and maintaining political stability and good governance.

Since the weekend is nearing, you might want to mull over what these people said as reported in MSM.


How much does Singapore’s success depend on narrowing our moral vision on our own country and blinding ourselves to global injustice?” 

– Dr Cherian George, journalism professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, suggesting that it’s time for Singapore to think about its obligations to help others in need even as it ponders its own future.

“The Advance Medical Directive could not be used for my father, because it does not go far enough. It applies only to the unconscious patient. It is the dying patient who is conscious and suffering who needs to be relieved of his suffering. The dying patient should have the right to decide for himself how and when he should go.” 

– Dr George Wong Seow Choon, writing in ST Forum page, on how his father who was suffering from terminal cancer was kept alive despite his wish to go peacefully.

“There are many nudge effects in the online space. For example, the first few comments on a new article may have a disproportionate influence on the tone of the subsequent discussion. Also, how can the silent majority be nudged to speak up in the online space so that a better balance of views is captured?

– Mr Peter Ong, Head of Civil Service at a conference to discuss behaviorial economics.

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It’s Thursday June 25, and unless you unplugged yourself from all forms of media yesterday, you would have known that a big-time fugitive has surrendered after 35 years on the run. Former NTUC President and PAP MP Phey Yew Kok who skipped town while facing criminal breach of trust charges turned himself in at the Singapore embassy in Bangkok at the ripe old age of 81. He was charged in court yesterday and remanded for four weeks while the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau looks over the old cases and figure if new charges should be brought against him. Maybe by then, the bigger mystery will also be solved: Why did he decide to surrender after all these years?

Those complaints about Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) developments have made it into MSM:

a. Pasir Ris One

ST decided to highlight the plight of Pasir Ris One residents who will be banging into each other if they meet along the common corridors. Yes, they are that narrow.

Response from developers SingHaiyi Group and Kay Lim Holdings: “The designs and plans for this development have been approved and fall within all the guidelines stipulated by the BCA, which were established with safety and comfort of residents in mind. That said, we take the residents’ views seriously and will take all feedback on board for review.” So the BCA is to blame? What’s the bet that residents will be petitioning the MPs of the ward?

b. Centrale 8

TODAY decided to see if there were new developments after residents of Centrale 8 in Tampines complained about faulty locks, cracked tiles, burst water pipes, awkward design features and sanitary pipes taking up space in the service yards. They’ve petitioned the developer Sim Lian, wanting compensation and defects to be rectified and roped in the National Development ministry, Housing Board and the ward’s MPs as well. Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, an MP for Tampines GRC, will personally supervise the taskforce looking into the complaints.

c. Parkland Residences

Both newspapers also reported a case of a resident of Parkland Residences in Upper Serangoon, taking the Workers’ Party town council to the Small Claims Tribunal for a refund of $367.20 in service an conservancy fees which she paid out before June. She argued that the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council is not entitled to the S&C fees since it only started cleaning the estate this month, following a dispute over the handing over of paperwork to Kwan Hwee Investments. She was among more than 300 residents who had petitioned the town council for a waiver of fees during last November and June.

Seems like Singapore’s politicians are going to be very busy dealing with “local” issues.

Moving on to upper class housing, Business Times published an interesting experiment it conducted on “dark condos”. A year ago, it ran photographs of high-end condos at night, to show that very few units were lit up, raising the question of whether they were lived in. The newspaper did the same recently with more or less the same results. So analysts and experts have weighed in with possible explanations: Maybe they were bought by expatriates who are always on the move? Perhaps investors are holding on to them before renting them out? Or it could be holiday homes for some people?

By the way, ladies, if you’re thinking of heading to Malaysia this weekend, keep a sarong handy. There are plenty of “cover up” news reports on government departments declining to serve the inappropriately clad.


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Hello everyone, it’s Wednesday, June 24, smack in the middle of the work week which means the weekend is nearing.

The biggest news on the home front is about, hmm, homes. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan went on radio last night and talked about giving every Singaporean couple a chance to stay in a HDB flat. He’s dropped hints in the past that the income ceiling for BTO and Executive Condominiums might be raised and now, it seems an announcement will be made in August or September. The ceiling is now a monthly $10,000 for BTO flats and $12,000 for ECs.  They were last raised by $2,000 four years ago. So by how much? He didn’t say but he did point out that incomes have gone up since the last change. Median monthly income from work was $8,292 last year, compared to $7,037 in 2011.

Inflation is still below zero, for the seventh straight month, and core inflation which is a gauge of everyday expenses is dipping too. You’d probably go “it can’t be” and point to how “everything is going up”. But it seems like a combination of policy measures like lower maid levies and exam fee waivers, as well as lower oil prices are contributing factors. But this may not be a good thing. It could be that people aren’t buying very much, that is, demand is down.

Teen terror Amos Yee will be remanded at IMH to be assessed if he needs psychiatric help. The judge thinks that he might be suffering from an “autism spectrum disorder”. Before you only see the word “autistism” and think intellectually-challenged, note that this disorder is characterised by difficulties in socialisation and communication, and restricted or repetitive pattern of behaviours and interest. Would his repeated forays into social media to post what he was told not to count? Or his insistence on going to jail?

Leaving the bigger horror for last.

Here’s what police found in an Aloha Changi chalet on Monday night: a meat mincer, chainsaw, kitchen knives, gas cooker, gas cylinder tank, a tool set, trolley bags, plastic sheets, cable ties, cleaver, aprons, chopping board and rubber boots. Did you say so what? After all, a well-equipped chalet would have most of the implements….except a chainsaw? But it seems these are what three men conspiring to commit murder armed themselves with. They almost succeeded but their victim, a Myanmar national, cried out for help when they assaulted him in a Pasir Ris carpark. Police have arrested the conspirators. Score one for the cops!



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Today is Tuesday, June 23 and if you’re in accounting, finance, marketing, or PR and communications; a sales rep, engineer, or secretary (including receptionists and admin assistants) – and looking for a new job, congrats in advance. A new survey shows these are the hardest positions to fill in Singapore – though, it may just as well be because of our shrinking workforce?

You know what else is shrinking? Corridors. You won’t see it in the MSM this morning but the Internet is buzzing with photos of the new Pasir Ris ONE development under the G’s DBSS Scheme. These supposedly premium flats open up to a 1.2m-wide (minimum for fire safety) common corridor, which residents say is too narrow. Will HDB do anything about it? Or will it again say it’s DBSS so not its pasal?

Well, maybe the owners will get to know their neighbours better this way. After all, got something to complain about together.

Lots of news about homes today – a report by BNP says private home prices may fall another 10 per cent over the next two years, and if you’re looking to buy a resale flat near your parents, experts say the best way to help you is for the G to give you a higher resale grant or make such flats more available – something which the National Ministry of Development may be looking into.

Will Amos Yee be going home? Or is the fella headed for reformative training? Home, if the United Nations Human Rights Office had their way, after it called for his release yesterday in a statement for the G to review his conviction. Amos goes back to court today to find out what the judge has in store for him. If he’s sentenced to reformative training, he’ll be put away for at least 18 months with compulsory counselling and foot drills apparently, according to TODAY. No word if there’s going to be Internet.



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It’s Monday, June 22 and man, talk about the Monday blues.

When you see words like “death penalty” being thrown about in the MSM, it just feels like one of those days when you might be better off staying in bed. “Suspect faces death penalty”, says TNP; “Man could face death penalty” in TODAY, etc. All this, of course, is referring to news of the 24-year-old Singaporean man who shot an officer at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Saturday. The policeman is fine. Not much to update here – except that the young man will be brought to court this afternoon and charged with unlawful discharge of firearms under the Arms Offences Act. And, you know, could face the dealth penalty.

Better off staying in bed was probably also on the minds of the hundreds of Scoot’s passengers, too, when two flights were delayed over the weekend – one by 23 hours; the other by 36 hours. No reasons were given except for technical faults. An SQ plane had to make an emergency landing in KL yesterday after a cargo fire warning went off – everyone’s safe. And in Poland, hackers grounded around 1,400 passengers at Warsaw’s Chopin airport by hacking Polish airline LOT’s computer systems.

Speaking about the perks of travelling, just when we thought the virus’s spread was slowing, South Korea reported three new cases of Mers yesterday. No new infections in Thailand, though the number of people exposed to its single patient so far has climbed to 175.

Elsewhere in the world, Greece is probably going bankrupt and two more shootings were reported in the US, killing one and injuring 16. The injured victims included an 18-month-old toddler and a 10-year-old boy.

It’s expected to be a warm day today with highs reaching 34 degrees Celsius. Did I mention, you might be better off staying in bed?

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It’s Sunday June 21 and there’s good news and bad news on the Mers front. South Korea announced that there was only one new Mers case confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to TODAY (ST’s print edition had reported no new cases), signalling a possible tapering-off of the virus’ spread there. In Thailand, however, it was revealed that the single Mers patient there could have been exposed to more people than initially thought… and that it took four days to diagnose him as a Mers sufferer.

Statistically, however, Singaporeans are far more likely to die from cancer, with the number of cases steadily on the rise, according to figures released by the National Registry of Diseases Office. There were 13,416 diagnosed cases of cancer here last year, up from 12,651 in 2013. Colorectal cancer was the most common cancer for men and breast cancer led the charts for women. The figures have been rising steadily since 2010 (the report is for figures from 2010-2014) but have been attributed largely to an ageing population. Doctors recommend healthy living, such as not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, diet, exercise and cutting alcohol consumption. Regular cancer screening is also vital to catch cancers early, when they are more treatable.

In yet more hospital drama, a police officer was shot at Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital after a 24-year-old suspect, under arrest, struggled and managed to fire off three rounds from the officer’s revolver. The policeman received superficial injuries to his thumb and foot before the suspect was subdued, but is in a stable condition. The officer’s partner had just stepped out of the room at the time.

Durian supply has spiked after a bountiful harvest, sending prices down and the spirits of durian lovers up. The glut, which wholesalers say is supposed to happen every 15 years, means that Mao Shan Wang in Geylang can be found for nearly half its usual price (now $9.90 per kilo), and the less favoured Red Prawn fill your craving for the succulent fruit, with prices tumbling from $12 per kilo to just $2.90 per kilo. The Ramadan period also had a hand in driving demand, and prices, down.

Finally, here’s wishing a happy Father’s Day to all our daddies!


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