March 27, 2017

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morning call

Green alarm clock showing 8.30.

A CABBY who lied about being attacked by his Norwegian passenger was sentenced to 19 weeks jail yesterday.

Here’s what his victim, Mr Arne Corneliussen, said about the case: “In the greater scheme of things, he is going through what I went through as well. But I still lost my job, I lost money to him and I also spent a lot on legal fees, so I can’t say I feel like justice was done. He has yet to reach out to me to offer compensation of any sort.”

Cabby Chan Chuan Heng had pinned the blame on Mr Corneliussen, who was jailed 10 weeks and had to pay him $30,000. Later, Mr Corneliussen was re-tried and fined $2,000 for causing hurt. The former DHL director had already served more than half his 10-week sentence.

Mr Corneliussen has a point. How is he going to get his money back? Sue the cabby?

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What was also interesting is how this was missed out earlier in the investigations. According to ST, Chan also deliberately did not submit the in-car camera footage that would have captured the sound of his earlier altercation with Mr Corneliussen, and would have cast the entire incident in a different light.

We move from Singapore and Norway to Singapore and China now…

Nothing was said about the retention of Terrexes in Hong Kong when Singapore’s high-powered team went to Beijing to meet their counterparts for the delayed meeting of the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation. Instead Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean emphasised the need to be “forward-looking”. So we don’t know if the Terrexes were discussed or not, although Mr Teo did make clear that Singapore was sticking to its One China policy and that biltateral relations were deep and broad enough to weather disturbances.

Much was made of the composition of his team members, younger ministers whom he brought along to build ties with their generational counterparts in China. In the old fold were Ministers Lim Hng Kiang and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Cabinet ministers in the young set were Ms Grace Fu, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Lawrence Wong, Mr Ng Chee Meng and Mr Ong Ye Kung. The second liners or junior ministers were Dr Amy Khor (although she can be considered as part of the old fold), Mrs Josephine Teo, Ms Sim Ann and Dr Koh Poh Koon.

Perhaps, he should have brought along a young non-Chinese as well, to make the point that Singapore is multi-racial society that won’t dance to the Chinese tune, now as well as in the future.

 

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Black strap watch with gold face showing 8.30.

WHENEVER there’s money to be given out, you can bet somebody will find a way to get hold of it via dubious means. Remember how companies took advantage of Productivity and Innovation Credit schemes to get cash? Now, that $500 SkillsFuture credit dangling in front of each adult Singaporeans is too tempting for some.

Some people – about 4,400 people – decided to pluck such tempting fruit by submitting false claims for a SkillsFuture course they didn’t attend. It’s intriguing because they all went to the same course by the same service provider – which remains un-named. MSM reported how the scam was uncovered because of data analytics which flagged a sudden spike in claims. The total amount claimed: $2.2 million.

Now the question is whether the system worked before – or after – the claims have been processed and money given out. Well, some 4,400 people are richer by $500 each, more than a GST voucher for most. The G has sent the people letters to return the money in 30 days, but it didn’t say what will happen to those who don’t.

SkillsFuture Singapore said its course directory and claims process were designed to be simple, inclusive and user-friendly, to encourage usage. “It is regrettable that some individuals have abused the system and submitted false claims,” the agency said.

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Investigations are still going on but it’s a wonder how 4,400 people can somehow be making claims for the same course. Was there a mastermind or did they somehow get wind of money to be made this way? If so, how did they get the supporting documents, like receipts for the course fees, to make the claims?

The other theory of course is that they have been unwitting accomplices who had their names used without their consent. If so, no one came forward to say so. Cash in hand is not to be sniffed at?

According to TODAY, SkillsFuture Singapore was asked if there is a risk of the claims system. Its reply: “The SkillsFuture Credit System has never been compromised … SSG’s enforcement system involves data analytics to detect anomalies, regular audits of training providers, and manual audits of individual claims. These measures have allowed SSG to uncover false SkillsFuture Credit claims. We will continue to strengthen the sensitivity of our data analytics system in flagging out anomalies.”

What a thing to say! If giving out $2.2m is not a compromise of the claims system, then what is it?

Still on training – but something that doesn’t look like it can be abused: two universities here are offering work-study degree programmes for its students. The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and SIM University have 65 such places which integrate work and training.

Did your eyes glaze over because you’ve heard about such programmes before? The difference is that the students will be spending a lot more time in a hands-on job, like up to four days a week, than in class. Free labour for companies? Nope. They will be contract staff and it will be for employers to decide if they should be given permanent positions after their graduation.

Minister for Higher Education Ong Ye Kung who announced this yesterday noted that with more people getting into universities, “employers need to ensure a good match between talents and skills of the graduates they hire and organisational needs.”

In other words, when the Singapore graduate cohort hits 40 per cent, employers need to be able to tell one grad from another and this scheme will give some students a cutting edge. The universities are beginning to look like polytechnics, aren’t they? It will be more so when the other universities add this scheme to their current internship and exchange programmes.

What sorts of courses are being offered? They include information security, software engineering, hospitality business, electrical power engineering, civil engineering and finance and business analytics.

Now why would anyone want an arts and social science degree?

 

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8:30am alarm
8:30 am clock face

FINALLY, the PUB has given some answers on the cost of producing water. What was so difficult about that? Does it think that big words such as “resilience”, “sustainability” and “water security” are enough to move people to accept a 30 per cent hike in water price? Or is it waiting for the Committee of Supply debate on the budget of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources to unveil the figures? In this day and age, it’s not good to let speculation and discontent fester, simply because they can be spread so much faster via the Internet.

So what do we know now? In response to queries from the MSM, it said that in 2000, it cost $0.5 billion to operate the water system. In 2015, it was $1.3 billion. The money was spent on NEWater production, desalination, used water collection and treatment, and the maintenance of the island-wide network of water pipelines, among others. It did not say which contributed the most to rising cost, although one guess would be desalination plants.

PUB also said that from 2000 to 2015, it invested $7 billion in water infrastructure, and it expects to spend another $4 billion on such infrastructure from this year to 2021. What water infrastructure? Presumably the NEWater and desalination plants that are in the pipeline.

ST reported that besides the cost of producing water, it’s also getting more difficult to distribute water. PUB, for instance, can no longer just dig trenches to lay water pipes underground because the country is so built-up. It has to use pipe-jacking, a more expensive method which involves assembling pipes into shafts and then pushing them into position with a hydraulic jack.

In our heart of hearts, we probably know that it’s time for a rise in water prices, especially since it was last raised 17 years ago. The question is why now and why this much? Minister of State for Finance Lawrence Wong said there is never a good time for water price rises, which is true.

But a hiatus of 17 years?

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CIMB economist Song Seng Wun said at a forum yesterday that the fact that “we are finally charging a bit more for water after 17 years reflects that somebody forgot it hasn’t been done yet”.

Going by what experts say, the 30 per cent rise isn’t good enough. It should be way higher, like doubled. Say this to the people though. At forums on the Budget statement yesterday, the water price was a key issue, which is probably to the G’s chagrin since it wants to bill the Budget as a tool to shift the economy into high gear.

Although the argument is about water security (read: what if we get no more water from up north?), the price rise is also to add to the G’s coffers, which is increasingly under strain.

Now before you get your hackles up because the G is “rich”, consider what the experts have to say about the Budget.

Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin was reported in ST as noting that despite projecting a small overall fiscal surplus of $1.91 billion for the 2017 financial year, the G is looking at a primary deficit of $5.62 billion, worse than it was during the 2009 financial crisis.

A primary fiscal deficit does not take into account investment contributions from GIC or Temasek Holdings, and broadly implies that tax revenues are not keeping up with government spending.

He might as well add we can always tweak the formula on investment contributions, but that would be cheating, won’t it?

Economists are asking for more transparency in accounting and even the setting up of an independent agency to look at the effectiveness of G spending.

They have a point: We’ve seen so many announcements about millions and even billions on this or that G scheme over the years but what have they resulted in so far?

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat made no bones about the need to raise revenues, especially since he has ordered G agencies to trim their budgets. So far, he has only talked about making non-GST registered companies which do cross-border businesses here pay the tax. That means the likes of Taobao and Amazon and e-retailers.

But if the G wants to persuade people to part with more money, it has to do better at telling people what things cost. It can start with this: What in heaven’s name is “long-run marginal cost of water supply”, the formula which underpins water prices?

 

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Black clock showing 8.30

HOUSING and Development Board (HDB) households in People’s Action Party town councils will be paying more in service and conservancy charges. How much? Between $1 and $17 altogether depending on flat type. When? Not clear. But the rise will be staggered over two years. The first increase will take place from June 1 while the next increase is slated for June next year. Why? Higher pest control, cleaning charges as well as the new provision that town councils must set aside money for lift upgrading.

Before re-looking your household budget, wait for the Budget announcement on Monday. The bet is that there will be S&CC rebates that will relieve you for a couple of months or so.

Going by the news yesterday, what else can we expect from the Budget? Motor industry people are wondering what will be announced for vehicles given that next week’s COE tender exercise had been postponed by two days pending “an upcoming announcement”. It usually starts on Monday but it will start on Wednesday next week. Since no details were given, people are speculating like crazy.

Is it to stop private hire car companies from bidding and jacking up the price of COEs? After all, taxi companies were taken out of the public process and given a new scheme. Is it about announcing a lower car ownership rate for the future? Then again, do you need to suspend the bidding exercise for this? Or has it got to do with re-calibrating rebates on vehicles with lower carbon emissions? But the current scheme is supposed to run till June this year…

Before rushing to the showrooms this weekend, maybe we should just wait till Monday.

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Digging into the fine print of news reports, we’ve unearthed a couple of nuggets that you might have missed:

a) Senior Counsel Hri Kumar is no longer a member of the People’s Action Party, reported TODAY. It was announced two days ago that the former PAP MP will be appointed Deputy Attorney-General, sparking talk about what this does for the impartial image of G lawyers. The PAP, however, didn’t say when he quit the party. Was it the year before when he decided not to go for a third term? Or yesterday? Or does that matter?

b) Remember former tour guide Yang Yin, the Chinese national who scammed his way into getting Singapore permanent residency? Well, his PR papers have been revoked, ST reported the Immigration and Customs Authority as saying. This was done on November 1 last year, after he was convicted of cheating a rich Singaporean widow.

c) Complaints about motor vehicles have been going up, from 844 in 2014 to 1,477 last year, mainly about defects in cars. So, too, are complaints about pressure selling tactics in spas and beauty salons. TODAY reported the consumer watchdog, Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), as saying that one tactic was to withhold a customer’s credit or debit card unless he or she said okay to a sale. It’s an unethical practice, but isn’t it also illegal?

d) Muslims will be glad to know that the number of haj places will go up from 680 to 800 a year. Saudi Arabia uses a 1987 formula which sets the quota at 0.1 per cent of the Muslim population. The Muslim population has grown by 20 per cent since then, to 800,000 now, reported TODAY. Now, how did that increase come about? Has the proportion of Muslims in the country increased as well?

 

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Morning Call, 0830, clock

THE toppling of a tembusu heritage tree in the Botanic Gardens last afternoon – 35 minutes before the start of a concert celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary – killed an Indian national. Her husband and their two children were also injured, and right after the incident many rushed to heave the tree off the victim. More than 270 years old, the tembusu heritage tree was found to be healthy when it was last inspected in September 2016. The National Parks Board (NParks) said it is now investigating the cause of the tree fall, though according to a botany expert interviewed by ST, the recent heavy rains and the “gusty winds” yesterday could have been contributing factors too.

In another unfortunate case in Singapore, the death of an auxiliary police officer at Tuas Checkpoint on Friday (Feb 10) – who died when he was knocked down by a car while diverting traffic – is believed to be the first on-duty Certis Cisco officer killed in an accident by a member of the public. The Malaysian driver is said to have been drink driving, when he made a sudden swerve into another lane and made contact with the police officer. In addition to the assurance of safety measures in place and the conducting of a review by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, financial assistance will be provided by Certis Cisco to the family

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Other cases of deaths and casualties around the world have left many stunned:

  • Following a rush-hour arson attack on a Hong Kong subway train on Friday (Feb 10) – suspected to be the work of a man with a history of mental illness – three people remained in critical condition. 18 people in total were injured.
    .
  • An earthquake yesterday in the southern Philippines has killed at least six people, and rescue workers are now looking for more survivors. At least 126 were injured, and thousands were forced to flee their homes. Power and water services were knocked out.
    .
  • In Iceland – which has an annual murder rate of two – the murder of a young woman has shocked the country. The body of the department store sales assistant was found after a search operation involving 775 rescue workers, and the suspect has been arrested.

And finally, for apparently flouting immigration rules, a Singaporean grandmother who has been married to a British man for the past 27 years faces the prospect of deportation back to Singapore. She was first granted an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) – issued to foreign spouses of British citizens – in 1990, but the ILR lapsed when the couple moved to Singapore in 1992 and subsequent applications have since failed. Her family and she moved back to Britain, in 1998 and in 1999 respectively. Britain’s Home Office, which is responsible for immigration, has said that she has no legal basis to remain in the country.

 

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A Casio digital watch showing 8:30 by Shawn Danker
A Casio digital watch showing 8:30

THE Labour Movement has outlined its recommendations for Budget 2017, with a focus on getting workers, employers and the G to adapt more quickly to the changing economy.

For workers:

  • More modular courses (for constant skills upgrading)
  • “Returnship” programmes for women re-entering the workforce (like internships, where workers get to try out the job before deciding to train/retrain)
  • Special Employment Credits for older workers and returning women
  • More legal protection, CPF help for freelancers

For employers:

  • Support hiring that is skills-based instead of academic qualification-based (because that’s what gets the job done)
  • Improved apprenticeship programmes (the best way to learn job-related skills is to do the job)
  • Targeted productivity funding (tailored for each sector’s needs)
  • Funds for SMEs to improve workplace safety and health

For the G:

  • Paid training leave for SkillsFuture courses (because $500 doesn’t buy you time off from work)
  • Skills and salary data from the Jobs Bank (to know what’s in demand and prepare for it)
  • Amend procurement law to allow vendor contract renegotiations (in situations where productivity/technology improves, for example)

Will NTUC’s wishes come true? We’ll find out on Feb 20 when Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivers the Budget speech.

It’ll be a hard Brexit. Another widely-watched list is UK PM Theresa May’s speech that underscored her administration’s “Brexit means Brexit” stance. Markets rallied when she pledged that Parliament will have to agree to the deal.

A hard Brexit means that the UK will not want any half measures like staying partially in the EU single market. It will then negotiate trade, immigration and other international agreements as an independent nation.

She warned her EU counterparts against trying to punish the UK with a raw deal, saying that she would rather Brexit with no agreement from the EU than accept a “bad deal”.

The Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, the highest Singapore-China forum, will be held next month, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting is co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Observers had noted that the annual meeting failed to take place last year and with the Terrex seizure issue straining bilateral ties, speculation was that the missed meeting was another sign of deteriorating relations.

Both foreign ministries are upbeat about relations but mum on what is on the agenda. Everyone is guessing: Taiwan? Terrexes? Territorial disputes?

 

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That’s what a new World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness report now says. Singapore used to be second, behind Switzerland. What happened? The WEF has included a new component in its indices: social inclusion.

ST reported that this was part  of “the WEF’s call to governments to shift their economic policy priorities to respond more effectively to the insecurity and inequality that accompany technological change and globalisation.

“This means countries that prioritise widespread enjoyment of the fruits of economic growth rank higher than under the old gross domestic product-prioritising competitiveness model.”

Singapore was actually unplaced in this new report because of “missing data”. But the WEF said average scores put it about eighth place.

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The report gives ammunition to those who think Singapore is gunning for growth at the expense of spreading the rewards around. But what was the data that was not available? The ST report didn’t say. The areas where Singapore scored near the bottom among the 30 advanced countries surveyed are access to education and skills, how concentrated wealth is and social welfare.

Access to education and skills? Policymakers are probably scratching their heads over this given the amount of attention paid to opening the education door to all children, right from pre-school level. Then what of SkillsFuture and SkillsFuture credits which gives citizens $500 in credits to spend?

In the area of fiscal transfers, Singapore was placed 29th; that is, second to last, in a sub-category known as social protection. How does this square with the amount of “transfers” that go to the lower income classes here, which the G is quick to enumerate when it is attacked for not helping the lower income group enough?

The G has always touted the rankings as evidence that Singapore is doing well. It will be interesting to see its response to this latest report, especially with the Budget announcements due next month. Can it be that steps to make Singapore more inclusive doesn’t go as far as those implemented in the Nordic countries which hog the top slots? Or that inclusiveness and economic output don’t go together? If so, it’s worth noting that Switzerland, which was No. 1 in the old ranking method fell to just No.3 now, which isn’t too bad at all.

What’s nice to know is that Singapore is No. 2 in basic services and infrastructure and the top scorer in health services.

Is this nice or not nice to know? In ST ‘s continuing coverage of the taxi industry, it reported that the total taxi fleet has shrunk: from 28,300 in 2015 to 27,500 now, with the average rate of unhired taxis going up from 4.2 per cent in 2015 to 5.9 per cent at the end of last year. It’s not good for the cab companies which have to decrease its rents to keep cabbies, but the increased numbers of Grab and Uber cars might well give plenty of part-time and flexible work opportunities to others. But what of those who drive for a living? Will they make enough money?

What’s not reported might be good news too. We’re talking about the haze, which is NOT here. It seems that after alerts were sent out about hot spots in Sumatra and the Riau islands last week, the Indonesians have gotten the fires under control. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

 

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Photo By shawn Danker
8:30 Clock face

Malaysian motorcyclists

EVERYBODY is taking aim at somebody these days.

Who’s up first? Malaysian motorcyclists. They have been targeted in recent comments on biker safety here.

Data, which Khoo Teck Puat Hospital shared with The Sunday Times, show that overall, 42 per cent of seriously injured riders it saw between 2011 and 2015 were Malaysians. Malaysian work permit holders, who come in daily from Johor, made up the majority of this group.

Riding speeds has been identified as an issue as many riders might go faster to make up for time lost in jams.

Mr Bernard Tay, chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, said: “If you anticipate a jam, start your journey early.

“Malaysian riders need to understand that the terrain is different because Singapore is a city and not a small town.”

(But one Malaysian worker said he already wakes up at 4.30am daily to skip the heavy traffic…)

And Mr Ong Kim Hua, president of the Singapore Motorcycle Safety and Sports Club, takes aim at the riders’ basic training and riding culture.

The 50-year-old said: “These are not young Malaysian riders. The need to be first in line, the first to reach the checkpoints, the first to get home is a culture that needs to be replaced with safety in mind. But bad riding habits become entrenched if you do not address them early.”

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Najib… again

Speaking of Malaysians, ex-Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamed has taken aim at Prime Minister Najib Razak for allowing “foreigners” to own, build on and develop large tracts of land that would be occupied by them.

While not naming specific countries during his speech at the launch of his political party, Dr Mahathir has spoken and blogged before about his concern that Mr Najib is allowing mainland Chinese companies to buy huge areas of land, particularly in Johor.

Dr Mahathir said: “Singapore was our territory but not now. If we think a little bit, this is happening again.

“Our heritage is being sold, our grandchildren won’t have anything in the future.”


 

Trump… again

And another world leader on the someone’s target board? No surprise here – Donald Trump, and this time, he’s got himself right in China’s crosshairs.

China’s foreign ministry has come out to state on its website that the “One China” principle was non-negotiable. It urged “relevant parties” in the United States to acknowledge the sensitivity of issues surrounding Taiwan.

These comments were a direct response to remarks by the US President-elect – he had said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that there was room for negotiations regarding the “One China” policy.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has had stopovers in US cities in the last week, as part of her week-long trip to Central America. She had also sparked a diplomatic row when she rang Trump to congratulate him after his Nov 8 victory.

 

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Black clock showing 8.30.

ELECTRIC bicycles will soon have to be registered to an owner, display license plates and riders will have to wear safety gear, buy insurance and face legislated fines and jail if they break any rules. This is all in addition to the laws regarding personal mobility devices (PMDs) and bicycle use, including speed limits, weight limits, and where they can be used, that are due to come into force later this year.

To match the harsher laws for PMDs, motorists found to have been modifying their vehicles may now face tougher penalties too in a Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill and punishments for reckless and dangerous driving have been upped. New laws that penalise vehicles left on the road in a dangerous manner are also being proposed, as well as a law against deliberately obstructing autonomous vehicles.

Parliament’s debate over transport issues also included a proposal to give the G the power to clamp down on private car services if drivers operate without proper insurance and licenses. If three or more such incidents happen in a month, authorities could have the power to block the service for up to a month.

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Grab has also made a new “law”. If you cancel too many of your Grab bookings, you’ll have to pay – $2. This applies for users who cancel more than 10 rides a week, because cancellations cause inconvenience to drivers and other users. Those who honour their bookings won’t be affected, of course, but those who believe that cancellations are part of the service, well, they will just have to pay for that service.

Uber already charges a fee of $2 to $10 if the cancellation is made five minutes after the booking, or if the rider is more than five minutes late.

Nearly half of Singaporeans don’t sleep enough on weekdays, a SingHealth survey conducted in 2015 found. Failing to get seven hours of sleep can affect the body’s immune system, memory, concentration and pose other long-term health problems.

The survey covered 350 people at two polyclinics and it was not clear how participants were selected. Singaporeans are often ranked poorly in international sleep surveys – earlier this year, TMG looked at 50 sleepy faces after one such report came out.

The SingHealth found that Malays and Indians were more likely to lack sleep than Chinese, and that certain habits were linked to a lack of sleep – studying, reading, surfing the Internet and playing computer games in the bedroom were related to sleep deprivation.

S-League clubs are in the spotlight again after the CPF Board sounded a warning to the clubs for failing to pay the reserve team CPF contributions for up to five years. One un-named club has made full restitution and claimed that it didn’t know that it had to pay CPF on allowances. Another club, also not named, said that “the rule has not been clear”.

Reserve team allowances for S-League clubs are typically up to $300 a month. And the S-League has been brought to task before on age-discriminatory employment practices and also for hiring players on 11-month contracts to avoid paying bonuses and other benefits.

Like that how to qualify for the World Cup, even though FIFA has expanded it from 32 to 48 teams?

Olympic swimmer Quah Zheng Wen is going to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) to train and study. The UCB swim team, the Cal Bears, is led by coach David Durden, who has led the team to three NCAA wins in nine years.

Quah has his sights set on Tokyo 2020, after reaching the semi-finals in the 100m and 200m butterfly in Rio. His performance earned him a deferment from National Service to train for the next Olympics.

If his application for clearance to compete in the NCAA comes through, Quah will be competing against Joseph Schooling, who represents the University of Texas at Austin in the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Quah leaves for the US on Jan 12.

 

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Black clock showing 8.30

IT LOOKS like former Member of Parliament Yaw Shin Leong has made a new life for himself in Myanmar. He’s calling himself Amos Rao, said ST, who managed to reach him in Yangon where he works for an education provider. The expelled Workers’ Party member, who triggered a by-election in Hougang in 2012 after he fled the country amid a sexual scandal, had worked in China before moving to Myanmar about four years ago.

It’s thanks to social media that Mr Yaw was “found” – through his Facebook account and LinkedIn profile among other things. Rao is the hanyu pinyin spelling of his surname.

No, there’s no clue on why he goes by Amos.

So while Mr Yaw is in Myanmar, Singapore’s Terrexes are still stuck in Hong Kong although Singapore seems to have hit on a way to get the nine vehicles back. You can read our report here. It has to do with how Hong Kong can’t detain the vehicles since it’s the property of the Singapore G. Put another way, a country cannot anyhow keep another country’s property under sovereignty immunity principles established in international law.

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But Hong Kong’s not a country, you say? It’s a Special Administration Region of China. Constitutional law expert Eugene Tan has weighed in in ST to point out that China too abides by the principle of absolute sovereign immunity and there have been past cases where Hong Kong has followed the line. So it seems that Singapore should get its vehicles back, and whatever problem the Hong Kong courts have should be with the shipping line APL for, supposedly, lack of proper documentation.  “Supposedly” because there’s still no official word from Hong Kong on why the vehicles were impounded in the first place beyond usual statements that investigations were going on. Surely, that’s not acceptable police or customs work?

There’s some good news for older folk. Your employers can’t cut your pay when you hit 60.

We will have a new law to say so and which also allows you to work till 67. That’s the new re-hiring age, up from 65. Now, remember that this is the re-hiring age, not retirement age which is still 62. What it means is that your employer should let you keep your job or offer you a new one at age 65, even at another subsidiary of the company. If he can’t, he should give you what is known as Employment Assistance Payment which should go up from the current recommended range of S$4,500 to S$10,000, to S$5,500 to S$13,000, or 3.5 months’ salary. This isn’t part of the law, by the way, its a guideline set by a tripartite group involving Manpower Ministry, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation.

 

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