Saturday, 14 July 2012

Watz Online - 14Jul 2012

US urged to respect China's interests in Asia

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Asean splits on South China Sea spats as US urges talks

Traffic rides past the front of the Peace Palace, the main venue of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) annual ministerial meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum, in Phnom Penh on July

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed to reach consensus on handling disputes in the South China Sea, reflecting a rift between China and the US over rules to keep peace in the trade lane.

Cambodia, which holds the group’s rotating chairmanship, rejected a compromise on the wording of a joint communiqué among the other nine members in Phnom Penh, according to Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Thailand’s top foreign ministry bureaucrat. The bloc’s inability to agree on a communiqué is unprecedented, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

“This is strange territory for me,” he told reporters yesterday after a week of meetings. “It’s very, very disappointing that at this 11th hour Asean is not able to rally around a certain common language on the South China Sea. We’ve gone through so many problems in the past, but we’ve never failed to speak as one.”

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ASEAN fails to reach consensus
Chair Cambodia rejects compromise wording of joint communique over how to handle disputes in South China Sea

South China Sea: ASEAN talks fail; no joint statement

Phnom Penh: The conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ended without issuing a joint statement on Friday, amid differences over how to deal with a territorial dispute involving China.

It is for the first time in 45 years that any ASEAN meeting has ended without a joint statement.

There are deep divisions within the 10-member bloc amid conflicting territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea involving four of its members plus China and Taiwan. And the failure to issue a customary statement following the meeting of foreign ministers underscores the differences.

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US, S'pore reiterate commitment to strengthen partnership and cooperation

PHNOM PENH: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam have acknowledged the excellent state of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Both countries have reiterated their common commitment to further strengthen their partnership and cooperation for the benefit of ASEAN and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

Mrs Clinton and Mr Shanmugam met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum.

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S'pore explains why passports of trafficking victims are held

Singapore's Inter-agency Taskforce has called on the United States to improve the credibility of the United State's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which saw the Republic ranking Tier 2 in its watch list.

The Taskforce met up with the US Embassy in Singapore to share with them what it says are inaccuracies and misrepresentations found in the TIP Report.

It told the US to improve its credibility by "ensuring greater accuracy of facts and by making the report's methodology more objective", as well as to take into account the different legal structures and domestic context of countries ranked in the report.

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China seeks to wrest offshore rig crown from Singapore, Korea

HONG KONG/SEOUL, July 13 (Reuters) - China is emerging as a strong contender to the traditional offshore oil rig manufacturing powerhouses of Singapore and South Korea as shipyards such as COSCO Corp fight for a bigger market share in a deepwater exploration boom.

China started making jack-up rigs for shallow-water drilling and semi-submersibles for deepwater operations about seven years ago. In that short span of time, industry data shows it managed to secure a fifth of the $72 billion orders placed, tempting customers with aggressive pricing.

China also topped the annual orders lists at least twice during that period. In 2009, it outpaced Singapore, traditionally the dominant producer of jack-ups, and in 2006 and 2011, ousted South Korea on semi-submersibles.

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Singapore GDP Unexpectedly Shrinks as Europe Crimps Exports

Singapore’s economy unexpectedly contracted last quarter as manufacturing fell, adding to signs of a deepening slowdown in Asian expansion as Europe’s debt crisis curbs demand for the region’s goods.

Gross domestic product fell an annualized 1.1 percent in the three months through June from the previous quarter, when it climbed a revised 9.4 percent, the Trade Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. The median of 14 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 0.6 percent gain. The economy expanded 1.9 percent from a year earlier.

The Asian Development Bank cut its growth forecast for the region, and a report today showed today China’s expansion eased for a sixth quarter to the slowest pace since 2009. Singapore’sexports declined in May from the previous month, and a shrinking economy could put pressure on the central bank to ease monetary policy, according to Bank of America Corp.

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Taiwan to stage first same-sex Buddhist wedding

Two women plan to tie the knot next month in Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding, as gay and lesbian groups push to make the island the first society in Asia to legalise gay marriage

Fish Huang and her partner You Ya-ting, both 30, will receive their blessings from Master Shih Chao-hui at a Buddhist monastery in north Taiwan's Taoyuan county on August 11.

"We decided to get married last year," Huang told AFP Wednesday. "After being together for six years, we feel we need to make a life-long commitment to each other."

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Aust-Indonesia relations 'dysfunctional'

Aust-Indonesia relations 'dysfunctional'

Australia's relationship with Indonesia is dysfunctional because of unauthorised boat arrivals, the opposition's immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says.

The comments come as Foreign Minister Bob Carr warns that relations with Australia's northern neighbour would be unwound if Opposition Leader Tony Abbott became prime minister.

Mr Morrison said Indonesia was blaming Labor's asylum seeker policies for the flotilla of unauthorised boat arrivals, even though it had a responsibility to save asylum seekers north of Christmas Island.

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Yahoo confirms theft of 450,000 users' passwords

Yahoo Inc. offices, housing its Search Marketing Group, are pictured in Burbank, California, in this file picture taken October 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files)
Yahoo Inc. offices, housing its Search Marketing Group, are pictured in Burbank, California, in this file picture taken October 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files)

LONDON: Some 450,000 Yahoo users' email addresses and passwords have been leaked because of a security breach, the company confirmed Thursday, adding that just a small fraction of the stolen passwords were valid.

The company said in a statement that an "old file" from the Yahoo Contributor Network was compromised Wednesday. Among the stolen emails and passwords were many from Yahoo's own email service along with those of other companies. The Yahoo Contributor Network is a content-sharing platform.

Yahoo said it is fixing the vulnerability that led to the disclosure, changing the passwords of affected Yahoo users, and notifying other companies whose users' accounts may have been compromised.

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3 in 5 Singaporeans would pay a 'ransom' to recover their phones: Norton survey

Going online is increasingly becoming mobile. According to the Norton Mobile Survey 2012 released by security provider Symantec today, 91 per cent of the online population in Singapore own a mobile phone, with 69 per cent surfing the Internet via their phones.

The top three mobile phone activities are SMS (95 per cent), phone calls (92 per cent), and photos and videos (74 per cent). The top three online mobile phone activities are social networking (57 per cent), reading news and feeds (55 per cent) and online messaging (39 per cent). These are followed by higher security activities such as mobile banking and payments (27 per cent), and online shopping (19 per cent).

However, with prevalence of users going online via mobile, there are still not enough people who protect their mobile devices. According to the study, even though 61 per cent of respondents feel they are susceptible to cybercrime, only 45 per cent password protect their phones. Fifty-five per cent did not know they have the capability to lock or wipe their phone memory, and 27 per cent were not even aware they could lock or wipe a phone's memory. Thirty per cent of respondents are unaware they can remotely track their mobile phone through GPS.

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Ferrari driver Ma Chi was not drunk: HSA report

A screenshot of the accident, as the red Ferrari crashed into the taxi. (YouTube screengrab)
A screenshot of the accident, as the red Ferrari crashed into the taxi.(YouTube screengrab)

The Ferrari driver who allegedly sped past a red light and rammed into a taxi at a junction in Bugis was not drunk at the time of the horrific crash.

The accident, which happened in the early hours of 12 May, left three people – Ma Chi, the man behind the wheels of the supercar, the taxi driver and his passenger – dead.

According to The Straits Times, a Health Sciences Authority toxicology report showed that analyses of Ma’s blood and urine did not detect any traces of alcohol or controlled substances.

Parliament casts doubt upon SMRT's rental and ad business

Rental and ads comprise just 10% of SMRT's revenue but it contributes 55% of total profit.

Here's from MayBank KimEng analyst Bernard Chin:

The COI had recommended for SMRT to pay more attention to engineering and transport aspects of the business. In addition, the Minister for Transport’s response to questions about the incompatibility of an operator’s profit-motive with that of running a reliable system added further uncertainty about SMRT keeping its retail rental and advertising businesses in the long term.

SIA's earnings to crash in 2013

Will Scoot be successful enough to save SIA when it flies 20% more hours?

According to Nomura, the success or not of SIA’s new long-haul low cost carrier will be a swing factor for earnings and valuations when it starts commercial operations with four B777 by mid-2012 and six by mid-2013.

While Scoot is expected to have significantly lower unit costs than incumbents, as its planes are to be configured to have 25% more seats and to have 20% higher asset utilisation (fly 20% more hours in a day), SIA would not provide a target timing the break-even of Scoot.

Qatar Airways is world's best airline again

Qatar Airways is world's best airline again

For the second time running, Qatar Airways has been named the world's best airline at the annual Skytrax awards.

Asiana Airlines and Singapore Airlines were in the second and third spots respectively.

The awards, which honours the best in the aviation industry, was held on Thursday at the Farnborough Air Show in UK.
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Former sales executive jailed 6 years for cheating

A former Taka Jewellery sales executive has been sentenced to six years' jail for cheating an elderly woman of S$2.3 million over two years.

31-year-old Lim Kah Yong pretended to be an investigator from the Bedok Police Station as part of his scam to cheat 68-year-old Choo Ah Wah.

The court was told that Madam Choo was a regular customer of Lim, who was then working at the Taka Bedok North branch.

Nude video scam man gets 5 years' jail and caning

A young man who extorted money from men by threatening to upload their nude videos was jailed for five years and ordered to be given five strokes of the cane on Friday for various offences.

Alexander Soh Zhi Ren, 22, had pleaded guilty to 10 of 23 charges which included theft, receiving and disposing of stolen goods and forgery.

The total amount involved for extortion was $104,500 and $19,000 for attempted extortion.

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Man accused of molesting 74-year-old woman

A cleaner was charged in court on Friday with molesting a 74-year-old woman.

Tan See Kwan, 45, is accused of pulling the woman's blouse and grabbing her neck in Toa Payoh North on Tuesday evening.

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Ex-teacher pleads guilty to installing cameras in girls' toilet

Stemming the Singapore PR tide

Ruling PAP races against time to curb the flow of foreigners swarming into the city state.

AFTER years of being greeted with a welcome mat, the foreign permanent resident (PR) is encountering less official warmth and more restrictions.

In a shift of strategy, the government has announced measures to control the foreign inflow, alienating a large portion of the population.

The move comes at a time when the economy – globally and at home – is heading for a decline that may threaten jobs and businesses.