Friday, 31 August 2012

Behind Singapore Inc.

Part I: The growing class of 'working poor'


Former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong shares his views on the cogs running behind "Singapore Inc.". (Yahoo! photo/Jeanette Tan)

Could Singapore’s immigration policies over the past 15 years have created a separate, growing class of poor citizens?

Former chief economist to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) Yeoh Lam Keong believes that may be the case.

Using a term he calls “the working poor” — a term he uses to refer to the bottom 10 per cent of working household breadwinners, who hold full-time jobs, but yet find themselves entrenched in the poverty cycle – he said, “In other words, even if you’re fully employed, you may barely earn enough money to bring up a family decently or to improve your children’s economic opportunities.”


Part II: ‘Gov’t must rethink delivery of public services’


There is no need to peg BTO flat prices to the resale market, says former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong. (Yahoo! file photo) 

Why peg public services to market prices?

In a recent hour-long interview with Yahoo! Singapore, former chief economist at the Government of Investment Corporation Yeoh Lam Keong asked this question.

A former schoolmate of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s at the Anglo-Chinese School, and later the London School of Economics, Yeoh spent almost all his adult life working on government economic policy, and in that time experienced a social awakening to what he feels are inherent problems in the system. 


Part III: ‘PAP must return to its roots’


Singapore's government needs to return to its roots of pragmatism and its priority of serving the needs of the ordinary citizen, says former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong. (AFP file photo)

Former top financial sector economist Yeoh Lam Keong says the government should be more pragmatic in its approach and return to its roots to meet and serve the needs of the ordinary citizen.

The 54-year-old, who was the chief economist at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation for a decade, said the ruling People’s Action Party succeeded and even exceeded expectations in doing this, from Singapore’s early years right up to the mid-1990s.

“One of its founding values, which is still found in large measure in government today, is pragmatism — ‘I will do what works to get what I need done, done successfully, regardless of ideology, convention or dogma’ — that’s a great strength of our government,” said Yeoh, who left GIC last year to spend more time with his family

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Watz Buzzing - 30 Aug 2012

On Foreigners, Xenophobia and The Straits Times



In this year’s National Day Rally (NDR), besides announcing new policies, such as the construction of more universities and increase in social security, Prime Minister Lee also brought up the issue of xenophobia and hostility towards foreigners as well as the need for foreigners to integrate. However, the big picture has been missed once again, by the PAP establishment. 

The Issue With Foreigners

The issue with foreigners, unfortunately for PM Lee is not a simplistic case of a few black sheep in society who are openly hostile and xenophobic.

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Xenophobia: Singapore trying to stay extraordinary



Link to Yahoo's article.

Xenophobia is a non-issue here. The government is over reacting because our exceptional reputation is at risk. Just imagine and I bet it has happened when foreign leaders meet with our leaders and query our recent anti-foreigner sentiments. Can you imagine visitors asking President Obama about rising high profile gun incidents in America? America is being America but Singapore is turning into something else and these visitors unthinkingly thought that we can have our cake and eat it. You can't.

This government forgets that its policies are causing us to become just like any other global city, albeit trying to the among the best. They forget that you cannot be uniquely Singapore as we have come to be known from how we got here when they execute strategies for us to wear it like London or New York for global citizens work and play here. You must choose.

As usual they want to have everything. It is all rhetoric because when life is lived you start trying to have everything but eventually are forced to choose when you have become so exhausted and stressed. There is work-life, lots of it but just ignore the balance and cut out the babies to get more life.


SDP responds to PM Lee's National Day Rally Speech


SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan says that Singapore needs alternative democratic leadership to avert a disaster brought about by the PAP's immigration policy.

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PM Lee: I’m heartened that many of you liked my speech



Three days after giving his speech at the National Day Rally 2012 on Sunday, PM Lee wrote on this Facebook page yesterday night (29 Aug) that he is heartened by the “many Singaporeans who liked his speech”.

On his Facebook page, some indeed have indicated that they did like his speech.

Edwin Siew said, “Sunday’s speech was one of the best I’ve heard from you, Sir. Let’s continue to make Singapore a shining beacon of the East and a great home for all!”

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Online poll: 8 in 10 say NDR 2012 did not meet expectations

In an online poll on a Facebook page [Link], almost 80% of the respondents said the National Day Rally 2012 held on Sunday (26 Aug 2012) did not meet their expectations.
The question asked in the poll was “Did NDR2012 meet your expectations?“.
As at today (29 Aug) 12pm, 657 people have responded and the result is as follows:

Yes – 132 (20.1%)
No – 525 (79.9%)
A respondent, Delson Moo, said sarcastically, “Yes, I found NDR2012 meet my expectations. I expect them to bullshit their way and talk cock and blaming the citizens for the shit they created, and so far, they did!!!”

Lauschke Amy said, “One thing that came to my mind now: he said that he would ensure HDB flats to be affordable to Singaporeans. How? By allowing BTOs prices to be pegged to market resale flats’ prices? He has no solutions. Rhetorics. Talk is cheap.”

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Higher education participation rate to rise to 40% by 2020 – PM Lee

Question: The rise of 40%, is it for Singaporeans or foreigners?

University World News, 28 Aug 2012
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced that the proportion of young people attending higher education will rise to 40% by 2020 compared to 27% now, with two new publicly-backed universities slated for the city-state.

Education is “Singapore’s most important long-term investment in its people and it is a key response to the changing world”, Lee said during his annual National Day Rally policy speech, delivered at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) on 26 August.

Lee said that SIT and the Singapore Institute of Management University (UniSIM) would be upgraded to become Singapore’s fifth and sixth universities offering applied as well as part time degrees. Full story

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More Universities More Hope or Despair?

Good with more universities! Depending on whether the graduates churned out are needed by industries or not though. If they get useless degrees like BSc Modernist Flower Arrangement for the local economy, then lots of unhappy unemployed grads around unless Singapore turns into a global decorative flower export hub. Even if there is abundance of jobs for grads in the market, these grads expect cushy high pays, to be advanced upwards fast, all hopefully with minimal and maximum office politics.

What should be in the works for courses in the universities? Easy to say have more unis but exactly what courses which the 6 universities each have their own niche and therefore customer-student base? NUS and NTU are increasingly so alike that they are just monkey see monkey do. If I'm a million $ salaried minister, I would say - technical and applied skills, those with logical degree extensions of current poly diplomas as an alternative of going to some bush university in Australia. Do you know that with the current AUD exchange rate, it might be cheaper to send your child to USA rather than Australia! Traditionally unglam skills like cooking, nursing, maritime and shipping, contracting and construction? Besides, 2 more universities in Singapore also not much use unless these unis are kept "affordable". SMU! With real estate like that, of course it is expensive!

Also, if 40% of each cohort is a grad, there would be more competition in the job market, like in Korea and China, and everyone wants to be a management associate or something equivalently glam sounding.

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Lee’s economic goals need adults, not your babies!



Whatever the incentives offered, I believe the Government is smart enough not to expect too many babies will be produced by the citizens. Over the decades, it has created an environment that is no longer conducive to producing babies and raising kids – high cost of living, low income, unstable job, a competitive and stressful society, global trend of falling birth rate among developed societies, and in Singapore at least a generation of population being indoctrinated (since young) about the negative aspect of marrying young and having more than two babies.

The Government knows all these problems – largely created by them.

What the Government is doing and it will soon intensify its effort on it, is to build a “strong case” to justify bringing in more non-citizens here – through pushing the blame to the citizens. To be honest, the Government has been quite successful so far : a complaint of too many foreign adults here has now gotten the population to talk in media or public about whether they could produce an additional or two more babies! An issue of too many foreign adults has now become an issue of how to encourage the citizens to give birth to more babies! Either the Government is too cunning or its citizens are too daft!


Singletons Also Have Rights



Even in traditionally conservative countries like the United Arab Emirates, 60 percent of women over 30 are unmarried. Half of American adults are unmarried, up from 22 percent in 1950. Nearly 15 percent live by themselves, up from 4 percent. The march of singledom is global. Research firm Euromonitor predicts that "singletons" will form the fastest growing household group in most parts of the world. It is anticipated 48 million new solo residents will be added by 2020, an increase of 20 percent.

In Singapore, most singletons are staying with their parents, primarily because their own housing needs have long been neglected. Only those above 35 are allowed to buy from the rip-off resale market. Like most policymakers worldwide, our planners also tend to ignore singletons, saving the best of tax incentives and housing grants for benefit of the married only.

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Raising Future Tax Revenue from Personal Income Tax not GST

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last Sunday (26 August 2012) that as spending on social services increases, taxes would have to go up sooner or later within the next 20 years.

When Channel News Asia interviewed some tax practitioners, their response was that there was scope for the Goods and Services Tax rate to be increased or some other tax e.g., carbon tax to be introduced.

Ernst & Young partner Kang Choon Pin, for instance, cited the case of Japan, which despite political opposition recently passed legislation to increase its consumption tax rate from 5 per cent currently to 8 per cent and subsequently to 10 per cent (he did not mention that the increase was conditional upon economic conditions).  Singapore's 7 per cent GST rate would then probably be the lowest GST or equivalent consumption tax rate in the world.  Many countries in Europe have consumption tax rates in the high 20 per cent 

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Cheers to PM Lee and Khaw Boon Wan – for now » flats



Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement that singles may be allowed to buy HDB flats directly from the HDB is something which I am particularly happy about. And many other singles would too, I suspect. (I had brought up this issue with a minister several weeks ago and he had said yes, the MND is taking a look at it.)

For the longest time, we singles have felt marginalised, discriminated against – all because we do not conform to what the state deems fit to qualify for a flat. We felt like we were being treated no better than even permanent residents. (By the way, two PR siblings can also buy a resale HDB flat, I am told. But I can’t find any confirmation of this. If you know where I can find such stipulations, please let me know.)

Of course, we could buy from the resale market – but only if you’re 35 and above. (See HDB rules for singles here.) In any case, with the mad escalation of resale prices in the last few years, purchasing from the open market is beyond us. So, we’re left to live with parents, or to rent a room which itself is costly.

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Renewing Perspectives on the MDP



Jointly organised by the National Solidarity Party and the Think Centre, the Public Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Mandatory Death Penalty drew a crowd of more than 100, packed into a tight room to hear from both the legal and human rights perspectives.

The event follows on the trail of the Singapore government’s announcement on 9 July 2012 to grant the courts discretion in considering specific mitigating factors when passing sentence on drug trafficking and homicide cases. Many saw this to be, effectively, the first step in the eradication of the MDP, although others were less optimistic and still see areas for improvement.

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Behave

The Prime Minister has just finished his National Day Rally speech for the year and everyone is busy chatting about his speech. The mainstream media published the uplifting bits of his speech, while the online chaps did their song and dance about being more 'liberal' in his approach to government.

One of the things that caught my eye was the fact that he spent a good portion of his speech telling Singaporeans how to behave better. This portion of the speech was devoted to dealing with ugly online behaviour towards our new arrivals from elsewhere and the thrust of his comments was that such bad behaviour ruined Singapore's international reputation.

For the record, I agree with what he said. Perhaps it's just me but the attitudes towards foreigners, particularly those who happen to be dark skinned and from other parts of Asia disgusts me. I feel like vomiting whenever I hear highly educated professional people in Singapore talk about the unfortunate darkies doing the 'dirty' jobs.

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PM calls on Singaporeans to draft the nation's future

The rising anti-foreigner sentiment in Singapore was a major theme in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's annual National Day Rally speech.

He gently chastised Singaporeans for using the internet anonymously to further the phobic sentiments against foreigners, saying that this can only hurt the city-state's global reputation.
But unlike the paternalistic leadership of the old, Mr Lee seems to be reaching out to the people.

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Heng Swee Kiat committee – behind closed doors and closed minds?



Another one? Education minister Heng Swee Keat will lead yet another committee that “should review what needs to change and where we should act more boldly”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message.

“We will engage Singaporeans in this review, and build a broad consensus on the way forward.”

Rachel Chang of the Straits Times spoke to academics, political observers and ordinary Singaporeans, and reported in her blogpost that there were two main reactions: 

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Indian-origin judge named next chief justice of Singapore

The Times Of India, 28 Aug 2012
SINGAPORE: An Indian-origin judge has been named as the new chief justice of Singapore, making him the first from the community to head the courts.

Sundaresh Menon, presently Singapore's judge of appeal, will assume the office of the chief justice from November 6.

He would take over from Justice Chan Sek Keong, who retires at the age of 75, said a statement from the Prime Minister's office on the appointment announced by President Tony Tan. Full story

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Six proposals to turn Sinkies into baby making machines

4 women from the PAP Women’s Wing, including MPs Jessica Tan and Intan Azura Mokhtar, have came out with 6 recommendations to make Singaporeans to produce more babies. And the recommendations are sensible.

Are they smarter than those that are paid millions to come up with such good proposals? Or when can’t those who are paid in the millions come out with such good proposals?

The talents in the Women’s Wing cannot be more talented than the million dollar talents right? If they are, then the Women’s Wing talents should be paid the million dollars instead. 

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Japan, US conduct island defense drill near Diaoyu Islands
   US Moves in E. Asia

Japan, US to conduct joint drills near Diaoyu Islands

S. Korea, US launch joint military drill


Private deals between US, Japan concerning Diaoyu Islands "invalid": Chinese FM

US-Japanese strategies put region at risk

Japan’s tough Diaoyu position aimed at US

The reason was exactly the incident that happened in September. Japan and the US assumed that the waters near the Diaoyu Islands might be threatened by Chinese military forces, although in ordinary people's eyes a fishing boat barely represents a nation.

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Inventing the Chinese Threat

"Since the disappearance of the Soviet Union,” writes James Dobbins at RAND Corp., “China has become
America’s default adversary, the power against which the United States measures itself militarily, at least when there is no more proximate
enemy in sight.”


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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Watz Buzzing - 29 Aug 2012

PM Lee highlights 'Hope, Heart, and Home' in National Day Rally


Yahoo! News Singapore, 26 Aug 2012 

Hope, heart, and home – the three Hs were the overarching themes in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally Speech on Sunday evening.

During his two-hour rally at the University Cultural Centre, PM Lee asked of Singaporeans at home and the 1,500-strong audience in front of him, "What is the next chapter of the Singapore story?".

Speaking first in Malay, Mandarin and then English, the 60-year-old unveiled a series of new measures to tackle education, popluation and healthcare challenges to ensure the city-state stays competitive and relevant over the next 20 years. Full story

Related:
Paternity leave, HDB for singles welcomed - Yahoo! News Singapore
PM Lee's NDR speech a break from the past: analysts - Yahoo! News Singapore

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All the ideas are there - it is a question of political will!

The full report of this year's National Day Rally is found here.
.
. "Think seriously about our future, contribute your ideas and work together to make it happen," 
PM Lee, National Day Rally 2012.
,.
PM Lee invites us to contribute our ideas to the new committee headed by Heng Swee Kiat to engage Singaporeans on where the country should be in the future. Yes, another committee, another conversation and another round of ideas. There is no lack of ideas. That is not the problem. What is lacking is the political leadership and will to implement them. 
Lets start with 6 ideas from the PAP Womens Wingn[Six proposals to turn S'poreans into babymakers] to arrest falling birth rates: 

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Same old story: National Day Rally 2012



No one, except newly minted citizens and PRs, is surprised by the overall tone and thrust of quiet PM Lee’ s National Day Speech. In line with previous ND rallies, Singaporeans who succeeded in overcoming the odds were singled out for the spotlight to fall on them to generate the feel-good factor.

All the goodies to be dished out like help for the low and middle income groups, support for part-time degree students, changes to pre-school education, more buses, two more universities are laudable and will improve the quality of life and give more opportunities for Singaporeans (using my two eyes here).

PM Lee bemoaned the the lack of graciousness of Singaporeans and nasty anti-foreigner comments particularly online. The finger points at the regime for its ultra generous immigration policies to all and sundry, mainly from third world countries.

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PM Lee Hsien Loong warns taxes will rise if social spending increases. 9% GST coming


BusinessWeek, 26 Aug 2012 

Singapore will need to raise taxes in the next two decades as the government boosts social spending to support an aging population, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as he proposed measures to boost the country’s birth rate.

“With a shrinking working population, an inadequate birth rate and a higher dependency ratio, there is an inevitability that taxes will have to be raised,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. “I don’t think anything will change in our tax policy to make us less competitive in the next five to 10 years, but the prime minister is talking about something much further out.” Full story

Related:

PM Lee, cut excessive defence spending, Brompton bikes, Herman Miller chairs before talking about raising taxes

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Same man, Same Speech, No Solution and he is on every channels!

I tried to watch the PM rally yesterday; actually it was quite easy as every channels on TV are showing it. I really make me wonder the logic behind it?

As usual, the same old stuff.

I didn’t really paid 100% attention to him (not like those at the auditorium who spontaneously break into laughter at every punch lines PM said) so these are some points I caught. 

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All Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing

The indelible image from the National Day Rally (NDR)speech was a poor girl squashing herself into her seat by the wall, hoping it will open up and swallow her whole to spare her the embarrassment of her life. The other cringe worthy moment was the yarn about an 87 year old auntie shooting 50 hoops every morning at Teck Ghee. Maybe Lance Armstrong should have adopted her porridge and Horlicks diet instead of performance enhancing potions.

The NDR delivery was supposed to be our equivalent of the American State of the Union address. Once upon a time Lee Kuan Yew used it as a powerful platform to launch his epochal plans for the nation, such as the stop at two(1960s - stop making babies) and graduate mother(1983 - start making babies) policies.

Sometimes he would use the occasion to remind Singaporeans who's in charge "‎..and even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me to the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I'll get up!" (NDR 1988).

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PM Lee National Day Rally Speech

It's about 10:15 am now. I collected those comments on the PM's NDR speech with 11 or more likes. My proxy for resonance. I am particularly worried about Lois Lai "free this, free that" suggestion. Aichi Chong garnered 38 likes (I added myself later) which is way ahead of any other comment.

These days practically nobody view their children as their old age pension. This is good but we have forgotten a very important reason why people have so many kids in the past. Even biologists concluded that having many offspring is Nature's way of ensuring survival of the species. However we have interfered so successfully with Nature and gone to the other extreme. Poorer societies are closer to nature than us. They use less energy, control their environment less and they also have more children.

We will not solve our problem of low birth rate. Let's hope we are lucky since we aren't willing to pay the price to overcome a declining population.

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One or two?

The PM announced last evening that men will also be entitled to paternity leave, similar to women's maternity leave, to look after their just borned child. Everyone in the University Cultural Centre auditorium that I could see through the TV broadcast clapped in approval, particularly the women amongst them. The rationale? PM related an example of a women who voiced her fears that she would be forgotten by her employer if she took as long as 6 months maternity leave.

So fathers should step in to shoulder this burden by being allowed to take similar leave to share the burden of nursing the baby. All of which is dandy, until you think about it further.

Would men not also be forgotten at the workplace when they take paternity leave? The couple can now share equally the 4 months of maternity leave that women are entitled to, that is 2 months each. And even supposing it is 1 month out of the 4 for the men, it is probably 1 month too long for the men to be absent from the office. In this dog-eat-dog world, if you are not around, you need not be around, period. So sharing this load might lead to both of the couple, the mother and the father, to become expendable employees. Which is better - to have one expendable person or two?

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Singapore National Day Rally: Home Hope Heart HDB!

OK not necessarily in that order and beating down our cynicism down like beat the mole for once, that was a pretty good theme for the Rally speech. The speech inspired more or less depending on how cynical one was at different parts of the speech, especially near the end I was super frustrated. I wanted to watch Super 8 as it started at 10pm and wanted PM to rush through his speech. In the end, this year's message to me was simple with the touch of nostalgia, plus Mediacorp's programme on old school shops and Labour bar soap from yesteryear inserted into the interval before PM started his rhetoric was great spin!

Ever since the GE where PAP lost a GRC, there have been many symbolic changes on power sharing. Last year, for the first time ever since 1965, opposition MPs attended the Rally. That is a a good precedent and this year was no different signalling that the Rally should be party-neutral as much as possible.

Just like this year's NDP where the MPs discarded their whites and light blues, and wore hues of red when they took the grandstand seats and graced the parade party-neutral. Bravo, and I'm not sniggering, serious!

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PM Lee, cut excessive defence spending before talking about raising taxes

During PM's speech last night, a topic of raising taxes was brought up. It was made to make you believe that we have no alternative but to raise taxes in the near future. But we don't have to take that route. All we need to do is to cut down the mad, mad, over expenditure on defence.

As social spending rises, taxes will eventually go up

As spending on social services increases, so too must taxes - albeit not immediately but "certainly within" the next two decades, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Singapore is already relying on its reserves - by spending part of the returns from investing them - to pay for benefits, and the S$8 billion cut of Net Investment Returns Contributions last year helped to foot 14 per cent of Government expenditures including special transfers.

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Of Hope, Heart and Home

Hsien Loong’s main themes were the heart, hope and home. When the heart was not there, hope was dashed, and home became a big burden and a troublesome factor in their lives. Many pains were inflicted on the people because of the missing heart. Policies were shafted down the people’s throat in a very arrogant way, dismissing the people as non entities.

This is how I am going to do it. Like it or not, the people just have to live with it.

What is really needed, instead of reactionary piece meal solutions, is to flush the slimy little heart, if it is still there, with sulphuric acid to get rid of the black stains of the past, to start with a new heart. Instal a new set of heartware into the system and hope and home will fall into place.

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We will engage all Singaporeans in a national conversation: Heng Swee Kiat
Yahoo! News
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said government will engage all Singaporeans in a national conversation about how to take the country forward by "putting Singaporeans at the heart of our concerns".

He highlighted three goals that the national conversation will seek to achieve: reaffirm what is good and still relevant, see what has changed and recalibrate accordingly and, refresh and innovate by chartinhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifg new directions.

"It will be an opportunity for Singaporeans to come together, and ask: What matters most? Where do we want to go as a country, as a people?" Full story

Related:
Before PM had the idea of a national conversation - Singapore Democrats

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Law Society applies for order to determine M Ravi’s mental health


Yahoo! News Singapore, 24 Aug 2012

The Law Society of Singapore (LSS) has applied for a court order to have lawyer M Ravi checked by a registered medical practitioner to determine if he is fit to practise law in the city-state.

Based on the originating summons filed and served on Ravi on 14 August, the Society wants him to be given 14 days to comply, or else have his practising certificate suspended.

The Society also requests for Ravi’s certificate to be suspended if the medical report declares him unfit to practise law. Full story

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Law Society members want it to explain recent clash with lawyer M Ravi

A group of about 50 lawyers have filed a motion on Friday for the Law Society of Singapore (LAWSOC) to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to explain the recent debacle between one of its officials, Mr Wong Siew Hong and Mr M Ravi.

The group, who are all members of the LAWSOC, is led by Mr Noor Marican of Messer Marican & Associates.

According to Mr Marican who spoke to the local media on Thursdy (23rd August), some members have expressed concern over the incident and have not received a full explaination as to what had transpired.

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Law Society acting like headless chicken



The behavior of the Law Society of Singapore (LSS) leaves very much to be desired indeed. After a series of bungles, which give the impression of a society seemingly acting like a headless chicken, it now wants lawyer M Ravi committed to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

This comes after a lawsuit has been lodged against the society and one Mr Wong Siew Hong, its chairman of its Member Care committee; and a motion filed with the society and backed up by “more than 50 members” for the society “to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to explain what led to the recent debate between one of its officials, Mr Wong Siew Hong, and Mr Ravi.”

It all started on 15 July when Mr Wong received a letter from psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones, who had seen and assessed Mr Ravi’s state of mind on 14 July. In his letter, which was addressed to the “Law Society”, Dr Fones said Mr Ravi was “having a manic relapse of his bipolar disorder” and added that Mr Ravi “is currently unfit to practice law and his illness is likely to affect his professional capacity.”

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Exco of Lawless Society, not M Ravi, should see psychiatrist

The high-handed Lawless Society wants M Ravi to see a psychiatrist or else his practising cert would be suspended. I think the EXCO members of the Lawless Society need to see the psychiatrist or else the Registrar of Societies revokes their licence to operate as a society. Just who do these high handed guys think they are?

I have no love for M Ravi and neither do I support the causes he fights for. However, every person has a right to say his piece, as well as a right to a living. Lawless Society is trying to break M Ravi's spirit and rice bowl by giving all sorts of excuses to have his licence suspended. I feel the Lawless Society's licence to operate is the one that needs to be suspended.

This is not the first time the Lawless Society tried to stop M Ravi. Supporters of M Ravi, as well as his non-supporters (like myself), remember only too well the comical attempt Lawless Society made when they barged into a court hearing where M Ravi was representing a client. Here's that comical incident which the judge bundled off the Lawless Society's reps - Lawless Society gatecrashes M Ravi's party, gets buttkicked by Judge

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Pastor uses Woffles Wu case to argue against jail term for providing false information



The Woffles Wu case has opened a Pandora’s box for the judicial system in Singapore with subsequent offenders of similar offences now using it as a precedent to appeal against a jail sentence.

Woffles Wu (pic left) was sentenced to only a $1,000 fine instead of a usual jail term for providing false information to the traffic police by getting his elderly employee to take the rap for his speeding offences.

The verdict sparked a massive outcry among Singaporeans forcing the Attorney-General Chambers and the Law Minister to issue a public statement to explain the reasoning behind the uncharacteristic light sentence for Woffles.

Now, pastor Steven Yang from Eternal Life Baptist Church is using the Woffles case to appeal against his jail sentence of two weeks for giving false information under the Customs Act.

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Parliamentarians must set aside partisan interests

Mr Chiang thought that Dr Ong didn’t know what happened during the parliament discussions on Dr Wu. From Mr Chiang’s reply, it seems like the other way round – it was Mr Chiang who didn’t know what happened.

Law minister Shanmugam merely showed six cases, a tiny fraction of the thousands of cases relevant to Dr Wu’s case. These six cases were far from adequate to show that Dr Wu’s case was in line with all such cases. It was therefore meaningless to ask Ms Lim to clarify her position since any position based on six out of thousands of cases was bound to be inadequate and meaningless.

It was wrong of Mr Chiang to say that accepting Mr Shanmugam’s argument meant confirming the integrity of the system as there was no way of confirming the integrity of the system just by looking at six cases. To confirm the integrity of the system, all cases must be shown to be in line with Dr Wu’s case. If just one case is not in line with Dr Wu’s case, the integrity of the system is compromised.

Oral answer by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Questions on the Woffles Wu case, 13 Aug 2012, http://app2.mlaw.gov.sg/News/tabid/204/Default.aspx?ItemId=689

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Plastic Surgeon Woffle Wu's abeting case VS Singapore Pastor's Lie to Custom Officer 

Singapore Pastor Steven Yang Suan Piau was jailed for 2 weeks for lying to Custom officer about the 3/4 tank filled in his car even though he had installed a fuel tank switch. Plastic Surgeon Dr Woffle Wu had asked his elderly staff to take the rap for speeding offense to evade a fine and demerit points. Dr Woffle Wu was given a STERN warning and was fined $1500.

Law Minister Shanmugan said in Parliament that Dr Woffle's case was not a case of bias because there were many cases where offenders were let off with a light sentence.

Pastor Yang with a mandate from God had lied to custom officer about his less than 3/4 fuel tank to save on fuel and to evade GST of about $107.00 (assume he pump an equilvant of S$100 worth of petrol in JB) was given 2 weeks jail.

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Why The Double Standard? 

Singapore Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has explained why he made public the case involving a resident who made racial slurs against a neighbour. 

Many netizens had questioned Mr Shanmugam's motive, including what the incident said about Singapore and if Indians are being targeted. 

On August 21, Mr Shanmugam had written about a resident who was upset that he had to tolerate his Indian neighbours, their smell and unwashed bodies. Mr Shanmugam described the complaints as being quite disturbing as it appears the man sees his neighbour's race as being the problem. 

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State media: Singaporean man supports family of eight with monthly salary of $1800



Soon after Singapore’s Supreme Leader Lee Kuan Yew berates his subjects for not having babies, the state media has gone on a propaganda offensive to drive home the point.

The Chinese tabloids reported yesterday of a 36 year old Singapore man Liu Lin Wei who has five children and whose wife is currently pregnant with the sixth:

Mr Liu stayed with his wife and children in a 3-room HDB flat. After subtracting for CPF, he takes home only $1,500.

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Why people didn’t care to be the richest country in the world



It must have annoyed a lot of people to see on the front page of the Straits Times, Wednesday 15 August 2012, the boast that Singapore was the ‘richest country in the world’, validated by another hitherto unheard-of ranking study.

There might have been a time when people here would have taken pride in such an accolade. What better proof that all the sacrifices made in the decades post-independence had paid off, and that our city-state had arrived? But several people I spoke too pointed out that not only do we know it isn’t easy to be the richest country in the world, we look around us and we can clearly see so much that is wrong. “Richest country in the world” can’t possibly mean what it means in plain language.

It can only mean another empty boast.

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After A Watershed Election: Paradoxes, Perils, Promises

Someone once described the ideal audience as intelligent, highly educated and a little drunk. Well, you qualify except on the last point. But there’s somebody among you who’s probably now wishing for a stiff drink or two to calm her nerves. This is a nice, caring friend of mine who worries endlessly on my account, because of a what she calls my ‘ daring and dangerous’ political speeches.

When I told her that my talk this evening would be about Mr Lee Kuan Yew, she let out a little shriek of horror, threw up her hands, rolled her eyes, shook her head, and said in utmost exasperation, ‘You really are so mm-chai-see!’ And she genuinely believes that right here, hidden among you somewhere is this hall, is a PAP man in black with the handcuffs at the ready, to escort me out after the lecture!

I would like to say to my kind, nervous friend, ‘It’s okay. There’s no need to be afraid.’ Ten years ago, five years ago, maybe even as recently as one and half years ago, public speakers would need to be a little afraid if they dared to speak on politically sensitive topics, that is, those subjects forbidden by the famous out-of-bounds markers. But since the amazing General Election of last year, things have changed, and today it’s okay for Singaporeans to speak freely and openly (but civilly and respectfully, of course) on any issue of national interest and concern.

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Tackling the baby challenge

Why did we want to have kids? If we had we conducted a standard cost-benefit analysis (CBA), here’s how it would have looked like: High initial costs of prenatal and delivery fees, medical check-ups, infant care and childcare fees. There would be 25 years or more of continuous expenditure from diapers to degrees.

Since we don’t expect our kids to support us in our old age, the payback period is infinity. So using the CBA approach, the conclusion would have been that this child-raising project should not be undertaken.

This is a clear departure from previous generations, where the costs for raising kids were not so high, the period of upbringing was shorter (since children left school and went out to work earlier), and children were presumed to be the parents’ old age social security policy.

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Racism in Singapore

Recently the outcry against racism is getting louder. Many, even a minister, are raising issues of racism openly. Yes, there are incidents of racism in this island and there is nothing to hide, or better to sweep them under the carpet.

The case of this elderly man berating his Indian neighbour for unpleasant smell, unhygienic lifestyle, and turning his flat into a squalor, has been given special prominence by the minister in his Facebook posting.

What is the intent of the minister, to prove that there is racism, to use this as an issue in the national dialogue or to say that racism exists in little pockets in the society?

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Scholarships for foreigners, debts for Singaporeans



Finally, the foreign scholar issue has hit the papers.

I have struggled to comprehend this strange educational policy since I stepped into the National University of Singapore and realised that for my course’s cohort of around 60 pupils, 2 Singaporeans are on the NUS scholarship, 1 Malaysian is on the ASEAN scholarship and 17 Chinese Nationals are on the Undergraduate Scholarship for PRC students (website: National University of Singapore).

While foreigners enjoy the luxury of studying without worrying about monetary issues, my fellow Singaporeans step into society ridden with debt. Some of them work to finance their studies and others take bank loans which leave them with a debt of more than S$24,000 when they step out into society. They have to pay their tuition fees and accomodation, all out of their own pocket.

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Watz Online - 28 Aug 2012

PM Lee raises concern over S'poreans' changing behaviour

 
(Photo / Screen grab from parliament.gov.sg) 

The noise from the online community in Singapore and Singaporeans’ often times aggressive sentiments towards foreigners cannot be ignored.

Tonight at the National Day Rally, in one of its more impassioned moments, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave his take on the matter, saying Singapore cannot be a “one-eyed dragon”, where its people “slam the shortcomings of others and ignore our own transgressions".

He said it was fair for people to express concern or to disagree with immigration trends and policies, but some of the nasty views that he has come across are worrying, especially when they are expressed anonymously online. 

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Singapore May Raise Taxes for Social Spending as Nation Ages



Singapore will need to raise taxes in the next two decades as the government boosts social spending to support an aging population, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as he proposed measures to boost the country’s birth rate.

The prime minister pledged to ensure sufficient affordable housing for citizens, invest in pre-school education and add nursing homes for the elderly. He urged Singaporeans to build a more compassionate society, reject anti-foreigner sentiment and have more babies, saying the nation needs to re-invent itself as the economy faces slower growth after years of rapid expansion.

“As our social spending increases significantly, sooner or later, our taxes must go up,” Lee said late yesterday in his annual televised National Day Rally address, which ran for more than two hours. “Not immediately, but if we are talking about 20 years, certainly within that 20 years, whoever is the government will at some point have to raise taxes because the spending will have to be done.” 

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National Day Rally: What’s next for Singapore?

Lee Hsien Loong

Every August, after the hype and excitement of the Singapore National Day Parade has died down, our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes the National Day Rally speech.

Of course, there were the easily predictable buzzwords. Even before a single word was uttered on live television we all knew that there would be mention of increased engagement between the government and the people, and of course, almost excessive use of the word “inclusive”.

This year, three ministers – Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob and Senior Minister of State for Education and  for Information, Communications and the Arts Lawrence Wong – gave speeches before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took centre stage.

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Singapore PM says anti-foreigner sentiments hurting nation's reputation globally

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged citizens to be more tolerant of foreigners.

He said so after expressing concern over rising anti-foreigner sentiment that is hurting the city-state's reputation globally.

"I think it's fair enough to express concern, or to disagree with our immigration trends, or to oppose our immigration policies," Lee said in his annual National Day Rally speech, acknowledging that the influx of foreigners in recent years has aggravated socio-economic problems in the tiny Southeast Asian island.


We must continue to strengthen our Singaporean core: DPM Tharman

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam (Photo: Ministry of Finance)

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said efforts to strengthen the nation's Singaporean core must be kept up.

Mr Tharman said this can be done by providing the best opportunities for Singaporeans to develop their potential when young and have good jobs, and by ensuring that the country's social policies place Singaporeans at the centre.

The deputy prime minister, who is also the Minister for Finance, made the comments in a Facebook post following Sunday night's National Day Rally.

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Govt will hear all views, but not all will be taken into account: Amy Khor

Dr Amy Khor said the government will hear all views and suggestions, but not all can be taken into account. 

The chairman of the government's feedback unit, REACH, was speaking to MediaCorp 93.8 Live about the national conversation on the future of the country.

She said: "I think that the key really is to close the loop. Not all suggestions can be taken into account, of course. We will hear all views and all suggestions, but as in all things, there will always be trade-offs.

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A timely look at those 'other' issues



Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered Singaporeans a refreshing change at this year's National Day Rally: He shared the occasion with not one but three other government leaders. Stylistically, the change in format took away the element of jaded predictability.

There was also an important signalling effect - a subtle manifestation of a more inclusive leadership style, and how different perspectives have a place under the Singapore sun.

While recent rally speeches were gradually less heavily economic-accented, this time round the economy clearly took a back seat. Post-material concerns and aspirational issues took centre stage and, hopefully, mark definitively the first steps towards "right-sizing" our attitudes towards material and post-material aspirations. 

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Woman attacks man after she finds her girlfriend with him



She went to her girlfriend’s home and found a man coming out of the bedroom.

Enraged that her lover spent the night with the man, the woman later lunged at him and stabbed him a few times with a knife.

Yesterday, Teo Ming Min, 29, a graphic designer, was sentenced to two years’ probation by a district judge for voluntarily causing hurt to the man, Channel NewsAsia reported.

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Fortune teller gets 12 years' jail and caning for rape



A fortune teller was sentenced to 12 years' jail and six strokes of the cane for raping a teenage girl.

Siah Kwang Yung raped the teen in her own bedroom on the pretext of conducting demon exorcism rites.

According to Sin Ming Daily, the victim's mother was at Waterloo Street in September 2011 when she was approached by someone who told her that she was down in luck and recommended she see a fortune teller.

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Ex-police officer gets 12 weeks' jail in online vice ring case



A policeman's long career came crashing down after he was jailed 12 weeks on Monday for having paid sex with an underage girl in the high-profile online vice case.

39-year-old Tan Wee Kiat, who has been in the police force for 14 years, was one of several men charged for having paid sex with the same girl.

In his sentencing, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said that Tan, who did not verify the girl's age, "should have known better." However, he noted that Tan, a senior police officer, did not commit the offence while on duty.

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Australian charged with molest on SIA flight

An Australian citizen was charged on Monday with using criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. 

30-year-old Rajput Sandeep Singh allegedly molested the woman onboard a Singapore Airlines flight on August 25.

He allegedly touched her groin and thighs at about 5.30am during the Delhi-Singapore flight.

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Briton acquitted of molest but fined for swearing at police officer 

A Briton who molested a woman in Clarke Quay, was acquitted of the charge after he apologised to her in open court and was ordered by the court to pay her S$5,000 in compensation.

39-year-old Patrick Cormak Cusack, an engineer with a multinational corporation, apologised to the 29-year-old woman for causing her hurt or distress for the incident on May 1. Cusack, who is married with four children, added that it was "completely out of character" for him.

However, Cusack was still slapped with a S$2,000 fine for a second charge of hurling obscenities at a police officer who tried to arrest him for the offence. Cusack swore at Staff Sergeant Nazri Ahmad when he was being questioned.

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Neighbours fight over alleged illegal leasing of homes



He had seen two of his neighbours bringing people with luggages to their home at People's Park Centre.

However while trying to photograph evidence that the Indonesian sisters were illegally hosting tourists at three residential units, he got into a fight with them when they tried to stop him.

The 60-year-old man injured his right arm and back, and his shirt was also torn during the fight, which happened on Aug 17, reported The Straits Times (ST).

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Cheating on partners, SG women ranked 5th globally



It was Oscar Wilde who once said, “Those who are faithless know the pleasures of love; it is the faithful who know love's tragedies”.

And it looks like some Singaporean women may be prescribing to Wilde’s philosophy.

A recent global survey by condom maker Durex ranked Singaporean women fifth out of 36 countries when it comes to cheating on their partners, The Star newspaper reported.


Woman finds urine, faeces on front door



She has had what may be urine and faeces thrown at her door eight times in the last two weeks.

The fifth-storey resident of Block 966, Hougang Avenue 9, Madam Tina Lo, said she initially thought it was an accident.

"I thought it might have been a stray cat which made the mess," the sales executive officer told The New Paper in Mandarin last night.

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How China may be the next to land on the moon


Chinese astronauts Liu Wang (centre), Jing Haipeng (left) and Liu Yang in the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft during a manned space mission which includes China's first female astronaut.

BEIJING - Neil Armstrong's 1969 lunar landing marked a pinnacle of US technological achievement, defining what many saw as the American century, but the next person to set foot on the moon will likely be Chinese.

As the United States has scaled back its manned space programme to cut costs - a move strongly criticised by Armstrong, who died on Saturday - Asian nations have aggressively expanded into space exploration.

China, Japan and India all have their own space programmes. New Delhi, which envisages its first manned mission in 2016, recently unveiled ambitious plans to launch a space probe that would orbit Mars.


Law Society plans meeting on its clash with M Ravi

The Law Society of Singapore has informed its members of a requisition to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to explain its clash with lawyer M Ravi.

In an email sent out yesterday evening, the society said the requisition, which carried 51 signatures, wanted members to discuss the society's role in Mr Wong Siew Hong, one of its officials, appearing before Justice Philip Pillai in open court on July 16 purportedly with the authority of the society to present a confidential letter from Mr Ravi's psychiatrist. 

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Singapore to have two more universities

Singapore is aiming to raise the proportion of local youths admitted to universities to 40 percent by 2020 by increasing the number of national universities to six from the current four, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.

Lee said in his National Day Rally speech that the Singapore Institute of Technology, which was established by the government in 2009, will offer more places. The SIM University, a private institution which currently runs part-time courses, will offer full-time courses, too. The part-time students at these two institutions will also get more funding support.

The government will build on the strength and branding of the Singapore Institute of Technology and the SIM University, with an emphasis on degrees in applied sciences, he said. 

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With Opening Near, Yale Defends Singapore Venture


Students have started to be admitted, faculty members have been hired, and construction has begun on the site that will become the home of Yale University ’s first joint college in its 300-year history.

The first 150 students of the Yale-National University of Singapore College will begin a liberal arts curriculum, incorporating the study of East and West, on the existing N.U.S. campus in roughly one year. The new Yale-N.U.S. campus is expected to open in 2015.

The college could make a valuable contribution to higher education in Asia, some education experts say, but Yale has also received withering criticism for lending its name to an institution in Singapore, where freedom of assembly and association is restricted. 

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As Singapore Globalizes Its Schools, Locals Worry

“This is how our society treats us and our parents who pay taxes,” read a post this year on The Thinking Fish Tank, a Singapore-based blog. “They’d rather give scholarships to others than their own.” 

The writer, who identifies herself as G.T. and an engineering student at the National University of Singapore , is not the only one complaining online that international students, some of whom receive scholarships, are squeezing Singaporeans out of public universities.

Universities around the world have made attracting international students a fundamental goal. And Singapore has been successful in its pursuit, with foreigners representing 18 percent of the undergraduate student population. 

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Monday, 27 August 2012

Watz Online - 27 Aug 2012

Law Society applies for court order for Ravi to see psychiatrist

Lawyer files affidavit, says order is 'unnecessary, redundant and otiose'

The Law Society of Singapore has applied for a court order for lawyer M Ravi, who has bipolar disorder, to be medically examined by a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to determine if he is fit to practise law.

Should the order be granted, Mr Ravi will have to comply within 14 days of the date of the order. Otherwise, the society will suspend his practising certificate.

Dated Aug 14, the originating summons - copies of which were distributed to the media by Mr Ravi at a press conference yesterday - states that a report by the IMH on Mr Ravi's fitness to practise must be submitted within two weeks after his medical examination. Should the report state that he is unfit to practise, his practising certificate will be suspended. 

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Former SPH exec pleads guilty to corruption, CBT charges



Former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) senior executive Peter Khoo Chong Meng (picture) pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of corruption and one count of criminal breach of trust.

Seven other similar charges have been taken into consideration.

Khoo, 49, was Senior Vice-President of the English and Malay newspapers division and also headed the committee that held events to raise funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. He was dismissed from SPH in September 2010.

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Pastor questions jail term for false information

The penalty for giving false information under the Customs Act is a fine of up to S$5,000 or jail term of up to a year, or both, and Mr Ong argued Parliament did not prescribe a minimum sentence for the offence and had left it to the discretion of the courts.

The lawyer also drew similarities to the recent case of Woffles Wu, who was fined S$1,000 for giving false information to the police about his speeding offences.

In both cases, the false information given was to evade a small speeding fine or a "small amount of excise duty on petrol", said Mr Ong. 

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Minister says responses to Facebook posts show need for tolerance



Law Minister K Shanmugam has elaborated on why he chose to highlight a Singaporean’s racist email on his Facebook page, after online users questioned why he raised such a sensitive issue.

Channel NewsAsia reported that he said it was not a one-off case and while Singapore has done well as a tolerant society, its people cannot be complacent about it.

On his Facebook page on Tuesday, Mr Shanmugam said that he had received an email complaint from a Singaporean man “a few weeks ago” telling him about the “Indian sweaty smell and unwashed bodies” of the man’s neighbours. The minister found the man’s complaints about his Indian neighbours “quite disturbing”. 

Read report: Law Minister disturbed by Singaporean’s remarks on Indians

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Singaporeans, go forth and multiply

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WHETHER in office or out of it, Lee Kuan Yew has this knack for capturing the headlines.

On Aug 12, Singaporeans woke up to the founding prime minister's familiar black-or-white argument: get married and have children, or "this place will fold up because there will be no original citizens left to form the majority".

You can't be more stark and scary than this. The statistics are there for all to see: 

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Living in the richest country

By most standards, it would be reason to bring out the champagne bottle, but because of the extraordinary circumstances, the majority of Singaporeans are not cheering.

WHILE celebrating their 47th National Day, Singaporeans received news that people anywhere would die to hear that their country is now the richest in the world.

Technically speaking, this transformation from a poor, squatter island in less than 50 years has been impressive.

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Critics slam Miss China’s victory at Miss World 2012



Many beauty pageant fans are upset with the results of this year’s Miss World competition which saw the host nation, China taking the coveted tiara.

Miss World’s official Facebook page has been inundated with numerous negative comments – some even suggesting that the competition was rigged.

Ira Atenas Peñaloza Reynoso wrote: “Many things are wrong about this! Who bought the contest?”

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Study shows that semen may ward off depression in women



A new study is claiming that having unprotected sex or giving oral sex makes women happier – a claim that will no doubt make men happier as well.

Researchers at the State University of New York were analysing the effects of semen properties, which showed that it contains mood-altering chemicals that fights depression (at least three anti-depressants including serotonin), enhances mood (oxycotin and estrone), increases affection (cortisol) and induces sleep (melatonin).

The Medical Daily, a US website, reported that the study tapped into an anonymous survey of 293 female students on the University of Albany campus, which found that women who had oral sex or unprotected sex were more contented than those who used protection.

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Oral sex not outstripping intercourse among US youths



A federal study on the sexual behavior of young Americans released on Thursday countered a widespread belief that oral sex was increasing and vaginal sex decreasing among teenagers due to fears of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Two in every three young Americans have engaged in oral sex, about the same percentage as those who have engaged in vaginal intercourse, the study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Vital Statistics found.

It also showed that the rates of both practices among the U.S. youth have dropped since a decade ago.

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Porn film production on hold after syphilis cases



(LOS ANGELES) A porn industry trade group has announced a U.S. moratorium on production of adult sex films after several reported cases of syphilis among adult film actors, adding to the pressure on porn producers to require the use of condoms on sets.

The actors can return to work in 10 days after taking antibiotics, and doctors have recommended treating all adult film actors as a precaution, the Los Angeles-based Free Speech Coalition said in a statement on its website late on Monday.

It added that filming had been halted since the weekend.

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US gynaes alarmed by genital plastic surgery trend

LOS ANGELES - Trained as a gynecologist and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. John Miklos calls himself a "medical tailor," specializing in surgery to reshape a woman's private parts.

The Atlanta surgeon, who has performed gynecological surgery for nearly 20 years, cites cases of patients who say their sexual response improved after vaginoplasty, a procedure to surgically tighten a vagina stretched by childbirth or aging.

"Women come to me and say they don't have the urge to have sex anymore because they don't feel anything," Miklos said. "I guarantee that if a man didn't feel anything, he wouldn't have sex either." 

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New AIDS-like disease in Asians, not contagious

NEW YORK - Researchers have identified a mysterious new disease that has left scores of people in Asia and some in the United States with AIDS-like symptoms even though they are not infected with HIV.

The patients' immune systems become damaged, leaving them unable to fend off germs as healthy people do. What triggers this isn't known, but the disease does not seem to be contagious.

This is another kind of acquired immune deficiency that is not inherited and occurs in adults, but doesn't spread the way AIDS does through a virus, said Dr Sarah Browne, a scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Japan, China and their 'history problem'



When the Democratic Party of Japan took power three years ago, it promised a radical overhaul of foreign policy.

It wanted to rebalance relations with the United States and China, by addressing its "over-dependence" on the former and its strained relations with the latter. In a world moving from US unipolarity to multipolarity, in the words of Mr Yukio Hatoyama, then Prime Minister, Japan would rediscover Asia as its "basic sphere of being".

It was a grand vision. Today it lies in shreds. That became clearer this week with Tokyo's replacement of its ambassador to Beijing after a flare-up in Sino-Japanese tension. 

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UPDATE 1-Jury didn't want to let Samsung off easy in Apple trial-foreman

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Jurors felt Samsung Electronics Co Ltd should pay significant damages in the landmark patent trial against Apple Inc, even though they viewed Apple's demands as too high, according to the foreman.

Apple won a sweeping victory against Samsung on Friday in a federal courtroom in San Jose, California.

A nine-member jury found the Korean company had infringed on several Apple features and design patents and awarded the iPhone maker $1.05 billion in damages, which could be tripled because the jury also decided the Korean firm had acted willfully. 

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Sovereign wealth fund not always the correct answer

Dr Balding cited Singapore's Temasek as an example of a non-commodity-based fund. Temasek requires the country to amass current account and fiscal surpluses of 30% of gross domestic product to endow the fund.

"In countries without such clear funding sources, it is unclear that establishment is a wise idea due to the incredibly distortive policies it requires," he said.

"Sovereign wealth funds can simply become public savings that need to be paid for. In the absence of existing national wealth such as natural resources, countries should seriously review the distortion they introduce."

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Two S’poreans in world’s most powerful women list



This year’s Forbes Magazine’s top 100 World's Most Powerful Women list includes two Singaporeans.

SingTel group chief executive officer Chua Sock Koong was ranked 74th. Ms Chua started working at SingTel in 1989 and climbed the ranks to Group CEO in 2007.

Temasek Holdings’ CEO Ho Ching fell four places from last year to be ranked 76th this year.

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S'pore one of the least corrupt countries, says CPIB 

With the recent spate of scandals involving top civil servants, and a slip in ranking on a corruption index, is Singapore becoming more corrupt?

Not so, asserts the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Singapore slipped from 1st to 5th on the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index last year.

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