Monday, 25 June 2012

Watz Online - 25 Jun 2012

Women who seal the deal with sex

One former financial broker knows at least two financial instrument brokers who play the "sex for contracts" game: They get into the sack with corporate clients even though they have more—than—generous expense accounts with which to woo these clients.

With each swap going for an average of tens of millions of dollars, the payouts are temptingly high for those who manage to clinch the trade, the 35—year—old told MediaCorp.

But with very little to differentiate the services of one brokerage from another, some women brokers resort to sleeping with traders who may then pay them bigger commissions if they are happy with the "service", he said, describing the practice as "rife" within the profession.

A professional in the IT industry, which also sees stiff competition for multi—million—dollar contracts, knows of at least one peer in her circle who has gone to such lengths — usually as part of her after—dinner entertainment for the client.

According to the 38—year—old, who has been in the IT line for about 15 years, a mix of lucrative incentives and the pressure to deliver makes for powerful motivation.

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Woffles Wu and Singapore Law

Are there indeed two laws for the rich and poor in Singapore? Bloggers say yes

A plastic surgeon with the unlikely name of Woffles Wu has sparked an online row about whether Singapore’s justice system is biased in favor of the wealthy. To many of the island nation’s increasingly feisty citizens, the government’s denials have been less than convincing.

The curious case of Woffles Wu Tze Liang began with two speeding tickets. In September 2005, a motor vehicle registered to Wu was caught on a speed camera to be driving at 95 kilometers per hour on Lornie Road, which had a posted speed of 70. In November 2006, a Wu vehicle was clocked at 91 kilometers per hour on Adam Road, which had the same speed limit.

Per the nation’s automated ticketing program, the authorities sent a letter to Wu demanding to know who was driving on those occasions. Unlike the jurisdictions which protect a person’s right to remain silent in the face of criminal accusations, Section 81 of the Singapore Road Traffic Act requires people to disclose evidence in response to official requests for information about moving violations. Failure to disclose information is itself a criminal offense.

In response, Wu allegedly concocted a cover up. In an attempt to avoid paying a fine and having demerit points charged to his driver’s license, Wu convinced an elderly maintenance technician on his payroll, the then-76-year-old Kuan Kit Wah, to falsely take the rap and claim that he was driving the vehicle at the time.

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Different strokes of justice

The recent spate of court sentences has got Singaporeans wondering whether judicial decisions favour the elite.

LIKE its economy, Singapore’s judiciary, left behind by the British, has been a strong national asset.

Now people who wish the city well are hoping that society’s widening “elite vs commoner” divide will not be allowed to creep into the courtrooms.

Their concerns stem from society’s growing wealth inequality and several recent court sentences that they saw as favouring the rich and prominent.

“These may be early days, but unless the Government acts decisively it may affect the court’s integrity,” one lawyer commented.

“Don’t forget, justice lies very much in the hands of judges and prosecutors, who mostly hail from the elite class.”

If that happens, it would cast a dark shadow across one of the least corrupt countries in the world, shaped largely by its strict anti-corruption laws and judiciary.

The British left more than 50 years ago, but the legal system and the civil service they created still largely remains.

Singapore’s legal system has been ranked along with Hong Kong’s for its “all are equal” reputation. This refers particularly to criminal and commercial cases, as well as most non-political ones.

Politics, however, is a different proposition in Singapore since there are special laws that crack down on the opposition. One is the Internal Security Act allowing imprisonment without trial, which is still in operation. And Singapore’s defamation laws are notorious for bankrupting political rivals.

In recent years, as elitism reared its head, several controversial verdicts or sentences meted out on the prominent and the rich had many people confused.

The most recent were two cases – one against a prominent doctor and the other a salesman – involving a similar offence, getting someone to take the rap for speeding offences.

The salesman, Charlie Lim was sentenced to six weeks’ jail for having “intentionally perverted the course of justice”.

However, well-known plastic surgeon Woffles Wu Tze Liang was charged under a different Act when he got his 75-year-old employee to take the rap for speeding – twice in two years. He drew only a fine.

The major difference was that Wu, one of the top cosmetic surgeons in Singapore, was charged with “abetting” his employee to provide misleading information to the police – a less serious act.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam denied that Wu was spared a jail sentence “because he’s rich”.

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They are super rich and super eager to call Singapore home

They are super rich and super eager to call Singapore home

Australian coal magnate Nathan Tinkler is setting up home in Singapore with his family, The Wall Street Journal reports. And he will be joining a growing list of high-net-worth individuals who have chosen to relocate to the city.

Forbes magazine also reported that Mr Tinkler, 35, is Australia’s 26th-richest person, with a net worth of US$825 million (about S$1 billion) in 2012. He is married with four children.

His publicist Tim Allerton said Singapore is “an essential part of Asia… and he’s got some financiers and investors in Singapore - he just feels it’s more comfortable, he enjoys the city and wants to base himself there”. He would not say if his client was attracted to Singapore’s low taxation system.

The other notable billionaire who chose to live Singapore is Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin, 30, who has been residing here since 2010. Earlier this year, he created a controversy when he renounced his US citizenship, which was seen by analysts as a move to try to save on taxes.

Mr Saverin’s spokesman, Mr Tom Goodman, told The Wall Street Journal that his move had “a financial rather than a tax motive”. “US citizens are severely restricted as to what they can invest in and where they can maintain accounts. Many foreign funds and banks won’t accept Americans,” Mr Goodman had said.

Singapore could be shaping up to be a playground for the rich and powerful as the wealthy in western countries are starting to bank on their mobility due to economic power shifting to Asia and the increasing restrictions they face back home.

Singapore was also in the news this month for having the highest proportion of millionaire households (relative to its population) in the world in 2011 – one in six households.

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Singaporean Sony exec takes US$2.6m in bribes from Indonesians

A former manager of an electronics company pleaded guilty to accepting nearly S$3.3 million (US$2.58 million) in kickbacks on Friday.

Pheh Boon Leng, 46, committed the 19 offences over two years, starting in January 2003 while he was a manager at Sony Electronics Asia Pacific.

He continued after he was promoted to senior manager in July 2004. The last kickback he received was on Sept. 9, 2004.

He was dismissed in November 2006 for the unauthorized selling of the company's products and is now unemployed.

The court heard that Sony's policy here was that employees could sell only to other Sony companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

In countries where Sony did not have a presence, sales had to be to the country's authorized distributors.

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Cases of families defaulting on nursing home payments on the rise

Some eldercare facilities in Singapore are seeing more cases of families defaulting on their payment and also facing the challenge of trying to contact family members.

About half of the 110 patients at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home have defaulted on their payments, which range from about one to two months.

To help these financially strapped families, the home works out instalment plans and even offers subsidies, but more often than not its hands are tied as families are just not able to fork out the expenses. Some remain uncontactable, simply abandoning their loved ones.

The home said it has tried to seek help from the Small Claims Tribunal and the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents, but it is not as easy as it seems.

Manager of the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home Then Kim Yuan said: "We as a caregiver of the patient can help apply for this tribunal (The Maintenance of Parents Act), but we have to be authorised by the patient or by the parents.

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Police arrest 7 for online vice-related activities

Police have arrested seven people for suspected involvement in online vice-related activities.

They include a 34-year-old man and six women aged between 23 and 29.

The arrests came after a raid conducted on June 15 at three rented apartments at St Michael's Road, Upper Thomson Road and Upper Changi Road.

Initial investigations revealed that the illicit activities were advertised via the internet, where potential customers could book services.

A handphone, some transaction records and cash of more than S$4,600 were seized.

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Singapore at Tier 2 in US Trafficking in Persons Report

The recent court cases of men allegedly having paid sex with an underage girl have made their way into the Trafficking in Persons Report 2012 released by the US State Department.

The report alleges that child sex trafficking occurred in Singapore.

In the 2012 Report, Singapore has been classified under Tier 2 of countries reported upon and this refers to countries where governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

The US report noted that the Singapore government has increased its efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the year.

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Malaysia summons Singapore envoy after poll reform rally

Malaysia has summoned Singapore's High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong over the alleged involvement of three of the city-state's diplomats in an opposition backed rally on electoral reforms.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman said he had called Ong to his office yesterday evening to convey the displeasure of the Malaysian government over the trio's participation in the rally.

He said the ministry had received reports from the authorities on the participation of the three diplomats in the rally on April 28.
"As foreign minister, I regard this matter with utmost seriousness," he said.

In the meeting with Ong, Anifah said he explained the position of the Malaysian government that the participation of diplomats in the rally was inappropriate.

Anifah said he also stressed to Ong that the ministry would not hesitate to take stronger diplomatic action against errant diplomats.

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Singapore refutes allegations of inteference in M'sian politics

The Singapore Government has dismissed allegations in the Malaysian media and some online reports that it interferes in the country's domestic politics.

Local television Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry as saying, such allegations were "baseless".

This follows allegations that Singapore officials were involved in the April 28 Bersih 3.0 protests in Kuala Lumpur.

There were also reports that some youths were being trained in Singapore as polling and counting agents for the upcoming Malaysian general election.

In a statement Friday, the ministry said its officers were present at the Bersih 3.0 rally as impartial observers.

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Friends question probe into senior MFA official's alleged misdoings

2nd body found at MBS has been identified

The mystery body has been identified.

The second dead person to surface at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is an Indonesian man, reported Channel NewsAsia.

It is believed that the hotel guest fell from the 52nd floor and his body was found in pieces at the hotel lobby near the Rise restaurant at about 9pm on 20 June.

The first death at MBS occurred on 12 June when a 42-year-old German - also a hotel guest - fell from the SkyPark and landed next to the East Coast Parkway.

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Singapore beating Switzerland at its own game - taxes

GENEVA - Switzerland's low corporate taxes, business-friendly regulations and reputation for discretion have attracted multinational commodities trading firms "as a dunghill attracts flies".
A Swiss airline aircraft lands in front of the Mont-Blanc mountain at Cointrin airport in Geneva June 22, 2012. / REUTERS

This is how The Berne Declaration - a Swiss NGO which campaigns to ensure local companies act responsibly - describes Switzerland's appeal in a new book that aims to shed light on the methods of an industry that traditionally prefers to conduct its business away from the gaze of regulators and journalists.

But that may be changing. The country's pre-eminent position in commodities is under threat from Singapore just when it most needs the business after a series of blows to its banking industry.

In one of the highest-profile moves, the world's no. 3 commodities trader Trafigura said in May it is shifting its trading centre and a key executive to the city state.

One of Singapore's attractions is that unlike land-locked Switzerland, it sits at the centre of Asia's booming demand for raw materials, close to many key physical markets.

But Singapore is also beating Switzerland at its own game - on taxes.

"Singapore has become more attractive than Switzerland on tax. There's no doubt about it," said Benjamin Knowles, a London-based partner advising commodities firms for Clyde & Co.

Official corporate tax rates in Singapore have fallen by around 3 percent to 17 percent over the past five years but held steady at just above 21 percent in Switzerland, according to accountancy firm KPMG.

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Inequality lessons from Singapore

One might have thought that Michael Gove would be more careful drawing lessons from Asian education systems.

In 2010 he called on Britain to emulate the Chinese by embarking on a “cultural revolution” in education, apparently unaware that Mao’s cultural revolution involved Chinese students beating their teachers to death.

But this most thoughtful of politicians was at it again yesterday in the Commons, citing the stratified Singaporean education and examination arrangement as a justification of his leaked proposal to re-introduce a two tier general exam here in Britain.

Christopher Cook of the FT has shown compellingly why “bringing back O-Levels” would set back social mobility in the UK, since the students who would presumably take the lesser qualification are highly concentrated in poorer areas of the North.

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“Singapore is (R)evolving”

I recently wrote to the New York Times to protest against Ms .Chan Heng Chee’ s letter. I thought it timely to bring up Orwellian newspeak being so close to the 62nd anniversary of the publication of 1984.

Note how these days our civil servants and ambassadors like to come out in support of our vibrant, robust or healthy democracy. (I believe my old friend Michael in the UK wrote a similar missive to the papers defending Singapore’s record on the death penalty and spoke of a robust debate). It’s as though they read 1984 and mistook it for one of those books, “ dictatorship for dummies” or some such. Well they lost no time adopting the idea of a ministry of double speak.

In November 1978 there was a sensational defamation trial held in Singapore. The defendant a Singaporean, engaged a famous British barrister and author John Mortimer. John Mortimer argued that the defendant’s remarks were fair comment. Indeed he went on to tell the court that the ability to engage in robust debate was the essence of democracy. He lost of course.

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Singapore is 'evolving'

Singapore’s approach to governance is evolving. Civic groups are more active, and the government engages them on many issues.

In the case of the Bukit Brown cemetery, the government engaged various groups before proceeding with the highway, with modifications to preserve more of the old cemetery.

Encouraging Singaporeans to think through issues is integral to a vibrant democracy. Although you describe Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean as “dodging pointed questions” by students recently, in fact he had an interactive dialogue and encouraged students to share their thoughts on Singapore’s challenges.

Even as Singapore evolves, we cannot forget our fundamental vulnerabilities as a small, multiracial society.

The Internal Security Act was used in the past to deal with a violent insurgency and active subversion by the Communists. It remains relevant as a pre-emptive tool to safeguard security, especially against the threat of terrorism

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As Singapore Loosens Its Grip, Residents Lose Fear to Challenge Authority

Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

Vincent Cheng, center, talked at an event in Hong Lim Park about his detention in the ’80s during a crackdown against activists.

Those accustomed to thinking of this booming city-state as a bastion of apolitical strivers and shopaholics might be stunned by the burst of civic activism sweeping this crowded flyspeck of an island.

On a recent weekend, hundreds clamored in a downtown park for a repeal of the country’s draconian antisubversion law, while a dozen urbane Singaporeans made a quiet stand by photographing the banyan trees and historic tombstones that the government plans to bury under a highway.

Across the city, gay-rights campaigners were finalizing plans for a rally that is expected to draw thousands.

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Yam Ah Mee's son charged for drink driving in the US

According to a news report by Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao, the eldest son of Chief Executive Director of the People's Association Yam Ah Mee was allegedly charged for drunk driving in Arizona, US.

Mr Yam famously shot to fame when his monotone voice and expressionless delivery of the General Elections 2011 results was broadcast on national TV.

Wanbao reported that his son Gabriel Yam was caught for drunk driving sometime in March or April while driving a sports car to a night club.

This happened around the same time China-born expatriate Ma Chi crashed his million dollar Ferrari into a taxi on May 12, which resulted in the deaths of three people.

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Students stumble upon sex video

Students stumble upon sex video
Sex, servers and teachers

We’re not sure if there was any spanking involved.

It’s not exactly the kind of sex education parents would approve of.
But students at an international school in Singapore have been getting all excited over a sex video they found stored in the school server.

And it’s not just any old Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian kind of sex video.

The 20-minute video is said to feature two former teachers behaving intimately.

The man is completely naked in the footage, while the woman is wearing a skimpy singlet, underwear and high heels.

The video has been circulating among students and now, some are saying it’s been leaked outside of the school.

A 17-year-old student who did not want to be named said that she has not seen the video, but a lot of her classmates have been talking about it on Facebook and Skype.

She said that once the racy footage surfaced, the school removed the information of the two teachers on its official website.

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