Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Watz Online - 29 May 2012

S'porean Navy officer charged with committing 'indecent acts': reports

Yong Chuean Benedict Ang has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent acts on a fellow ADFA cadet in Australia.
Yong Chuean Benedict Ang has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent acts on a fellow ADFA cadet in Australia.
A Singaporean Navy officer training in a military college in Canberra has been charged with committing indecent acts on a fellow student, reported Australian media.

Lieutenant (LTA) Benedict Ang Yong Chuean, 21, an international student with the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), is reported to have committed the acts on a female fellow cadet officer on May 6.

Ang, who is a former Sword of Honour (Navy) winner, has since pleaded not guilty to two charges of committing an act of indecency. The Sword of Honour is given to the best officer cadet in each cohort training batch.

He is currently out on bail but his passport has been impounded. His bail was continued when he appeared in a Canberra court earlier on Tuesday morning.

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Opposition must keep Hougang momentum going: Tan Jee Say
Former presidential hopeful Tan Jee Say sees the Workers’ Party’s (WP) victory in the Hougang by-election as evidence that the “fire of democracy” is spreading in Singapore.

The 58-year-old, who lost out to Tony Tan in the race for the presidency last August, congratulated the WP on his Facebook page on Tuesday, saying the WP’s win is a good sign for opposition parties contesting in the next General Elections in 2016.

“With this solid endorsement from Hougang, ‘the fire of democracy’ will surely spread to East Coast, Joo Chiat and beyond as described by Mr Png [Eng Huat],” he wrote.

“There is much for WP and all the other opposition parties to do in the rest of Singapore to keep the Hougang momentum going. The road to GE 2016 has already started.”

S'pore expats have second highest incomes globally
SINGAPORE - Expatriates in Singapore rank second in the world for income, with half earning over US$200,000 ($254,973) a year, a recent survey found.

The 2011 Expat Explorer Survey by HSBC also revealed that expat wealth remained widely immune to global economic troubles.

Expats in Singapore ranked top in Asia and third in the world for expat wealth and finances in areas such as earning levels, disposable income, spending, saving, investing patterns and the impact of the current global financial climate.

As such, it is no surprise that the survey results concluded that Singapore is regarded as the ideal expat destination - able to offer the best balance of career prospects, economic returns, quality of life and raising of children.

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MP, lawyers and businessmen lose over $10m in investment 'scam'
SINGAPORE - A group of more than 20 investors are crying foul after investing more than $10 million in a Hong Kong-based start-up which has failed to take off.

They include an MP, several businessmen and lawyers, who are unnamed due to requests of anonymity.

The business was supposedly an online marketing portal for regional suppliers looking to sell products in China, started by a Hong Kong businessman who appeared to have links to Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

According to a report in The Straits Times (ST), eight of the investors claimed to have been approached by a trusted stockbroker in 2006 and 2007.

The investors claim that they were told that the company, which had been developed over a period of six years, was worth HK$857 million (S$140 million).

They said that they were not allowed to see the business' accounts, and were led to believe that it was doing well.

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More foreign law firms will be allowed to practise here later this year.

So far, six foreign law practices have been awarded qualifying foreign law practice licences here.

The second round will see applications open from July 1 till Aug 31, and the Ministry of Law will announce which firms are awarded the licences by the end of the year.

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No political intentions: Rotary Club of Singapore

The Rotary Club of Singapore is going ahead with a plan to help retrofit old toilets in Hougang, but dismissed suggestions that it was linked to political intentions.

The club had raised eyebrows last week when it said it would raise $100,000 to support a scheme by People's Action Party candidate Desmond Choo.

The announcement, which came during the Hougang by-election campaign, prompted some to question its timing.

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Pinoy Cuisine's owners fined for employment offences

Two partners of a restaurant were fined $5,000 each on Tuesday for making a false declaration to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Jackson Tan, 44, also known as Muhammad Rafiq Tan Abdullah and Canares Lualhati Sikat pleaded guilty in a district court to engaging in a common intention to falsely declare information to the Ministry of Manpower in a work pass application. Another charge of employing a foreigner without a valid work pass was taken into consideration by the judge.

Tan, a Singaporean and Canares, a Filipino national, are partners of the Pinoy Cuisine restaurant along East Coast Road

Investigations revealed that they paid an employment pass holder a monthly salary of only $1,600 from Jan 7, 2011 to Feb 7, 2012.

However, they lied to MOM that the monthly salary was $2,500 to satisfy the salary criteria for work pass applications. Canares signed the declaration form while Tan was the one who submitted it to MOM. They had also employed another foreigner to work in their restaurant as a waiter without a valid work pass from Dec 10, 2011 to Feb 7, 2012.

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37% of employers in S'pore struggle to fill job positions
SINGAPORE - A manpower survey released today has revealed that 37 per cent of employers in Singapore struggle to fill job positions; compared to the global average of 34 per cent.

ManpowerGroup's seventh annual Talent Shortage Survey found that the jobs Singapore employers have most difficulty filling are production operators, accounting and finance staff and engineers.

For another consecutive year, engineers and sales representatives have stayed on the top ten chart as the most difficult roles to fill.

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Maid dies after church lift falls on her

SINGAPORE - A Filipino maid died after a church lift fell on her in a freak accident at the Catholic Church of St Michael off Serangoon Road, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

Ms Clarita Abanes, 46, was on the ground floor of the four-storey church helping a 70-year-old woman enter the lift when the accident occurred on the evening of May 16.

She was going to the second floor for mass, her friends and relatives said.

According to Ms Abanes' cousin, who gave her name as Ms Logie, it was likely that Ms Abanes did not notice that the lift had not descended to touch the ground floor when she pulled open the glass doors of the lift.

The lift then fell on both Ms Abanes and the elderly woman and trapped them underneath.

KL-Singapore high-speed rail link gaining traction?

IT LOOKS like there's going to be war between sky and land, if the second technical study being conducted by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) finds it feasible to give the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project the green light.

The sky between the two cities was already in war mode when budget carriers started providing shuttle services since the implementation of the Asean Open Sky Policy in 2009.

Competitive fares, as a result of the policy, have benefited travellers, who are basically tourists and businessmen. Bilateral trade and tourism activities are the long-term benefits that Malaysia and Singapore are set to gain.

When the high-speed rail project was proposed six years ago, Khazanah Nasional Bhd conducted a feasibility study but shelved it as the country could not afford such a mega project then.

In 2010, a similar proposal was raised again.

Last year, SPAD set up a technical committee to conduct the first phase of a feasibility study to ascertain whether it is feasible to embark on the massive project.

Made by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Heron-1 UAV is capable of remaining in the air close to two days without refueling.

Photo: Reuters

In the latest glimpse into ties with Singapore, the island nation inaugurated a squadron of Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles last week, according to The Straits Times newspaper.

Made by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Heron-1 UAV is capable of remaining in the air close to two days without refueling. In comparison, the UAV used before by the Singapore Air Force – called the Searcher and also made by IAI – can only remain in flight for 12 hours.

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A Spectacular Ferrari Crash In Singapore And The Rise Of Anti-Chinese Resentment

A deadly car crash in Singapore by a wealthy driver from China has sparked a new round of national resentment toward the Chinese. And Singapore is not alone.
Chinatown in Singapore (INABA Tomoaki) 
by: bertrandChinatown in Singapore (INABA Tomoaki)

By Zhu Chong

BEIJING - Ten days ago in Singapore, a 31-year-old Chinese man driving a Ferrari 599 GTO went speeding through a red light. His car crashed into a taxi, killing two people in the taxi as well as himself. Shocking video footage of this accident circulated on YouTube.

For days, headlines of the local media were full of anti-Chinese sentiment. Public opinion and websites were charged up with Singaporean indignation, calling on the Chinese to “Get out!” One commentator even quipped that the ashes of the Ferrari driver should not stay to pollute the very limited land of this city-state.

It’s not the first time we Chinese have heard such voices. In Hong Kong, which counts mainland Chinese as is its biggest economic partner, there has been a huge parade protesting the massive number of Chinese women “dropping in for childbirth care.

Even though Chinese mainlanders bring tens of billions worth of consumption to this former British colony, the Hongkongese still call them locusts, accusing them of being low-class, noisy and dirty.

In Europe and the United States people covet Chinese tourists’ tremendous spending power with an average of $7,200 per capita of consumption when they go abroad.

The West tries in every way to attract the Chinese, so why is it that Chinese are, on the contrary, so unwelcome in places that also happen to be populated by the Chinese diaspora.

Are Chinese facing true discrimination, or are they just too sensitive? Are Singaporeans going overboard, or are there legitmate gripes?

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Jetstar faces claims it cut costs with cabin staff 

Budget airline … crews recruited in Thailand have allegedly been used to staff routes in Australia. Photo: Tamara Voninski

AIRLINE cabin crew recruited in Thailand have allegedly been staffing domestic routes in Australia for Jetstar - for half the cost of the budget airline's local staff.

The Gillard government's workplace ombudsman yesterday took the airline to the Federal Court, saying the pay rate offered to the eight workers involved is not good enough. The legal action may ultimately involve 300 international cabin crew rostered across Jetstar's domestic routes.

Jetstar yesterday refuted the claims and a spokeswoman said that it would contest them vigorously when the matter went to court in August.

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Finally there is some hope for freedom of expression

Unless the fickle finger of fate intervenes in a dastardly manner, tomorrow evening will witness a function in Bangkok that will bring great credit to Singapore and Thailand and will shame Vietnam.

On the surface, the event is innocuous.

Entitled “Prelude to the post-Lee Kuan Yew era”, it will take place at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand and will feature two Singaporean lawyers speaking about the recent history of their young nation.

No big deal you might think, but you would be wrong.

The FCCT’s first speaker, Tan Wah Piow, was president of the University of Singapore’s Students’ Union in the 1970s, and like most student activists the world over he was a bit of a sh*t stirrer.

He gave histrionic speeches about the “class struggle” between the “labouring proletariat” and the “ruling class” – the kind of heady stuff many young folks, myself included, applauded at the time.

But in those days, Singapore’s then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was at the peak of his power and at his most intransigent when it came to tolerating critics.

So Tan was arrested for agitating workers, fostering strikes and other Bolshie nonsense of the sort that Lee himself had embraced two decades earlier when supporting strikers in the post office and on the docks.

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65,000 Foreign Workers Wanted in USA

On April 1, USCIS began accepting H-1B visa applications for fiscal year 2013, which starts on Oct. 1.

The H-1B visa program enables U.S. employers to hire highly educated foreign professional workers for ”specialty occupations” jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in the field of specialty.

These foreign workers provide needed specialized or unique skills, fill a temporary labor shortage and/or supply global expertise.

Holders of these visas can stay in the United States for up to six years. H-1B visas can be extended beyond six years where the alien beneficiary has an approved I-140 (Petition for Immigrant Worker) but due to the backlog in issuing visas does not yet have a visa number available to them. This often occurs where the immigrant is a national of a country that has more visa applicants than visas available each year, such as Mexico, China, or India.

As of May 18, USCIS had received 42,000 petitions for H-1B visas subject to the 65,000 visa cap for fiscal year 2013. The agency had received 16,000 petitions toward the separate 20,000 cap for H-1B guestworkers with advanced degrees.

USCIS saw an uptick this year in the number of H-1B petitions filed, with 17,400 petitions filed toward the cap as of April 9 (6 WIR 233, 4/16/12). As of April 22 last year, USCIS had received only 8,000 petitions toward the 65,000 visa cap (5 WIR 228, 5/2/11).

Several years ago it was common for the H-1B cap to be met on the first day petitions were accepted, six months before the Oct. 1 start of the next fiscal year.

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