Monday, 11 June 2012

Watz Online - 11 Jun 2012

Millionaires who don’t feel rich

Singapore, the third richest country in the world on a per capita basis, may be good at accumulating wealth but it fares less well when it comes to distributing it.

WHEN I read last week that one in six households in Singapore is a millionaire in investable wealth, it stirred mixed emotions of pride and worry.

Bloomberg had earlier reported that the city state had become the third richest country in the world on a per capita basis.

Many Singaporeans probably share these mixed feelings, if they could take time away from work to think about it. (More on that later.)

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Can Singapore actually learn something from Estonia?

Commentary: Can Singapore actually learn something from Estonia? 
"We don’t put getting high economic numbers above preserving our heritage and the happiness of our people."
That’s the response from one Estonian official from the country’s foreign affairs ministry when I casually asked why his country is not getting more new citizens and foreign talent. Coming from Singapore, that seems like a surprising notion for a country to heed, but it seems to be working. 
A little background with some numbers 
The Baltic state is 700 times bigger than Singapore but only has a population of 1.3 million. Even though half the country is covered by forests, Estonia has managed to produce world-renowned companies like SKYPE and many Estonians have come up with other cool applications and software.
The Estonians are at the forefront when it comes to utilising information technology. To cite just one example, my tour bus in Tallinn - the capital of Estonia – had wi-fi.
During my visit to the country, Aigar Kallas, CEO of Riigimetsa Majandamise Keskus (RMK), the country’s forestry agency mentioned he was flying to another European country to showcase a new app developed by the Estonians. This app allows one to find a number of edible fruits and berries in the forest and has other capabilities to allow a hike up the forest to become more enjoyable.
The country also has been enjoying the high economic growth rates in the European Union. It's economy had grown by 4.0 per cent in the 365 days ending March 2012 and it's the only EU nation to have budget surpluses for the last two years. 
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The sleazy side of teenage models in the industry

A private school student has revealed some intriguing aspects of teenage models and the industry here in Singapore.
The 18-year-old student, known only as Kiyomi, is a former part-time model.

One revelation she provided seemed to suggest that young models may fall prey to selling their bodies for cash.
She mentioned one of her 16 year-old model friends who could not resist the temptation of money and decided to sell her body.

Kiyomi said she left the industry because these days, young models like to take skimpy pictures, leading the public to have misconceptions about them, said Kiyomi.

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China on the launch pad 

BEHIND A VEIL of secrecy, China’s development of strategic and tactical missiles is well into its third generation of modernisation.

While the development of Chinese long-range missile and nuclear forces has traditionally been characterised as conservative, incremental, and slow, it has taken place against a backdrop of steadily growing official emphasis on the country’s defence-industrial complex, particularly its aerospace sector.

This process has been accelerated by a confluence of defence-industry reforms, comprehensive military upgrading, and integration of innovative operational concepts. The net effect is a growing capability of China’s strategic missile forces and military space platforms.

Various reports suggest that China is selectively enhancing its strategic and tactical missile capabilities by developing solid-fuel motors; diversifying its range of warheads and increasing their accuracy; deploying missiles with multiple warheads; and upgrading its ballistic-missile defence countermeasures, such as decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding, and possibly maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).

In particular, China is developing, testing, and deploying a new generation of solid-propellant, road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). These include the DF-31 and DF-31A, which are equipped with nuclear payloads. It is also designing and developing new classes of conventional short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), such as the DF-21 – mobile, solid-propellant, longer range, more accurate, and able to exploit vulnerabilities in ballistic missile-defence systems.

Girl in iconic Vietnam War photograph honoured four decades later

Nick Ut / The Associated Press
The girl in the picture: Nine-year-old Kim Phuc Phan Thi , centre, flees a napalm strike on her village in South Vietnam on June 8, 1972, in this iconic photograph that won a Pulitzer prize for photojournalist Nick Ut. After taking the photo, Ut transported the girl to hospital.

Associated Press photographer Nick Ut poses with Kim Phuc in Toronto on Friday, June 8, 2012.  The girl who came to symbolize the horrors of the Vietnam War will honor those who saved her on the 40th anniversary of The Associated Press photo that made her famous. Kim Phuc was just 9 years old when on June 8, 1972, a single photo communicated the horrors of the fighting in a way words could never describe, helping to end one of the most divisive conflicts in American history. AP photographer Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut heard the little girl's screams and couldn't turn away. The 21-year-old Vietnamese photographer didn't know the power of the image he had just taken, but he knew what he had to do. He drove the badly burned child to a small hospital. There, he was told she was too far gone to help. But Nick flashed his American press badge, demanded that doctors treat the girl and left assured that she would not be forgotten. Photo: Robert Gillies / AP

TORONTO — A woman who came to symbolize the horrors of the Vietnam War was honoured Friday on the 40th anniversary of the photograph that made her famous.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi was only nine years old when she was photographed fleeing a napalm strike on her village in South Vietnam on June 8, 1972.

The image of her running naked down a road captured worldwide attention and later won a Pulitzer prize for photographer Nick Ut.

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 Obama backs Philippines on sea freedom

President Barack Obama meets with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday, June 8, 2012, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. - AP

The United States and the Philippines on Friday called for freedom of navigation in the tense South China Sea as the White House offered a robust show of support for President Benigno Aquino.
President Barack Obama welcomed Aquino to the White House in the latest high-profile gesture to put a focus on US ties to Asia, where a number of countries are embroiled in territorial conflicts with a rising China.

Addressing reporters next to Aquino in the Oval Office, Obama said the two leaders spoke about “trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region.”

In a joint statement released afterward, the two leaders “underscored the importance of the principles of ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce.”

Aquino and Obama called for diplomacy to resolve territorial disputes “without coercion or the use of force.”

Nation's future depends on unity of Malays and Islamic race, says DPM 

PUTRAJAYA (June 9, 2012): Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today said Malaysians cannot refute the fact that the future of the nation depended on the unity of the Malays and Muslims who formed the majority.

He emphasised that if the Muslims split due to differences in politics or other fundamental issues related to religion, then it would be difficult to achieve peace and unity for the nation as a whole.

"Therefore I'm of the opinion that efforts to strengthen the race is something very important in ensuring stability, peace and harmony in our country," he said in a speech to launch the "Upholding of Islam and Strengthening of the Race" Convention, here today.

The speech was read out by minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and the event included the launching of a book by Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) president Ustaz Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman titled 'Melayu Sepakat Islam Berdaulat'.

Muhyiddin said the Muslims of today faced various challenges, especially with confusing Islamic teachings stemming from the indiscriminate acceptance of liberal Western thinking and culture by a handful of Muslims themselves. 

PM Lee: The greatest danger for Singapore

PM Lee warns Singapore cannot afford to slow down and lessen its focus on economic growth. (Yahoo! Singapore file photo/ Alvin Ho)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned on Friday that Singapore cannot afford to “slow down” in its pursuit of economic growth. 

Speaking at Economic Society of Singapore's annual dinner, he said that would be the greatest danger for Singapore.

"If we are content to just be above average in the league of cities, we will fail. That is the greatest danger if we tell ourselves to slow down, enjoy life today and not worry about tomorrow,” he said.

Instead PM Lee said that now more than ever, in the face of growing competition and the lessons from the US and Europe, Singapore could not afford to be less competitive.

Being near the front also means we must have a successful, growing economy. There is no other way we can achieve this. We cannot do it by spending what we have inherited from the older generation. We certainly cannot do it by pumping oil or gas from the ground," he said.

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China’s Slowing Consumer-Price Gains Give Scope for Easing

China’s consumer prices rose the least in two years in May and producer prices fell more than expected, evidence of weakening domestic demand that gives scope for more loosening after this week’s interest-rate cut. 

Inflation slowed to 3 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. That compares with 3.4 percent in April and the 3.2 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 30 economists. The producer-price index fell 1.4 percent, compared with a median forecast for a 1.1 percent drop.

Europe’s debt crisis and slowing domestic demand threaten to push China’s growth below the government’s 7.5 percent full- year target this quarter. Data later today may show industrial output expanded at close to the slowest pace in almost three years and the customs bureau may say tomorrow that exports rose less than the annual target for a third month.

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Temasek Hires Ex-BofA Banker Ghosh as India Managing Director

Temasek Holdings Pte has hired Promeet Ghosh, a former investment banker at Bank of America Corp.’s Indian unit as managing director in Mumbai. 

Tan Yong Meng, a Temasek spokesman in Singapore, confirmed Ghosh’s appointment today. Ghosh, 42, left Bank of America last year to start an investment bank, two people said in April 2011.

Singapore’s state-owned investment company which managed S$193 billion ($150 billion) as of March 31 last year, has been increasing its investments in India. The company in 2010 said it had invested S$280 million in GMR Energy Ltd. and S$240 million in the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. It agreed to buy a 4.9 percent stake in India’s Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. (GCPL) for 6.85 billion rupees in January. 

Rohit Sipahimalani, took over as head of Temasek’s Indian unit since Manish Kejriwal left to “explore a new fund platform” in the South Asian nation, Stephen Forshaw, a spokesman for Temasek said October.

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Elderly woman cheated of S$12,700 in "scratch and win" scam 

In the first five months of the year, 46 Singaporeans have fallen prey to "scratch and win" lottery scams in Johor.

In all they lost S$175,000 to con men.

he latest case happened last Friday morning.

The 64-year-old victim was in Johor Bahru to do some shopping.

While she was crossing the overhead bridge towards Johor Customs, she was approached by two Chinese men.

They told her she can win prizes in a "scratch and win" game.

The elderly woman played the game and was told to follow the two suspects to Happy Gardens in a cab, to claim her prizes.

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Police warn Woodlands residents of scam targeting elderly 

Police have issued a crime alert, warning residents in Woodlands of a scam targeting senior citizens.

An elderly woman was cheated of cash and jewellery by three suspects who are believed to be Chinese nationals.

The suspects, two women and a man, offered to perform prayers for the victim to help her ward off a mishap that could lead to her death.

In exchange, she would hand over her cash and jewellery.

Police have described the male suspect as 1.7 metres tall, medium built and in his 40s.

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152 arrested in 18-hour CID-led operation

SINGAPORE: 152 suspects were arrested in an 18-hour joint operation led by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The operation, which also involved the Police, Central Narcotics Bureau and Singapore Customs, ended early on Saturday morning.

It targeted entertainment outlets, lodging houses, coffee shops and back-alleys in areas such as Geylang, Bukit Batok, Selegie, Joo Chiat, Jalan Sultan, Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Clementi.

Of the 152 suspects arrested, 98 are males and 54 are females -- all aged between 17 and 54 years old.

They are suspected of offences linked to gang activity, drug abuse, illegal betting, immigration, vice and cigarette smuggling.

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China to launch manned spacecraft this month 

BEIJING: China will launch a manned spacecraft this month, state news agency Xinhua said Saturday, in the latest step in a programme aimed at giving the country a permanent space station by 2020.

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and its carrier rocket have already been moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, Xinhua said, quoting an official with the country's manned space programme.

The launch -- China's first manned space mission since September 2008 -- would occur "sometime in mid June", it said.

State media earlier reported that the mission would involve three astronauts manually docking with the Tiangong-1 module currently orbiting the Earth.

After the space rendezvous, the astronauts will move temporarily into the Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace), where they will perform scientific experiments.