Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Watz Online - 4 Dec 2012

Death penalty debate divides Singapore

A visitor arrival form to Singapore warns of the death penalty for peddling drugs [Heather Tan/Al Jazeera]

This Southeast Asian city-state was once described as "Disneyland with the death penalty" by science fiction writer William Gibson - highlighting the contrast between its easy-going lifestyle and zero-tolerance for serious criminal offences with hundreds hanged during the past few decades.

But Singapore's hardline, exemption-free policy of death for convicted killers and drug-traffickers was recently relaxed.   As it prepares to change its laws on the death penalty, defence lawyers such as M Ravi are trying to obtain newly introduced "certificates of co-operation" for clients on death row.

Judges will now be given more discretion in dealing with death penalty cases, enabling them to commute death sentences to life imprisonment under certain conditions

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Political dissidents decry Yale's Singapore campus plan

As plans for Yale University’s Singapore campus continue to move forward, so, too, does opposition to the idea.

On Friday, a pair of political dissidents added their voices to the debate at a panel discussion sponsored by the Yale International Relations Association and the Council on Southeast Asia Studies at Yale.

“We had hoped that given Yale’s proud history, that it would not allow Singapore’s government, or any other government, to dictate the kind of experience it provides for its students,” said Chee Soon Juan, a neuropsychologist who is secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party.

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‘(Filipino) talent is a million times better than the others’

The Philippines has been cited as one of the emerging companies in Asia and the only country that recently posted an impressive economic growth.

People are taking notice. One independent production house did an investment feature on the Philippines entitled “Philippines Moves Forward,” to be aired through Singapore-based cable Channel News Asia.

Asia Business Channel is coming up with a two-part series which will focus on various industries and sectors that helped the Philippines gain momentum on economic growth. 

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Delta bids for Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic

Sir Richard Branson might sell his majority holding in Virgin Atlantic after a Delta Airlines bid for a 49% stake. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Sir Richard Branson could sell his controlling stake in Virgin Atlantic after rival Delta Airlines made a bid for nearly half the business. Delta, the biggest US airline, is understood to have offered to buy Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic which could, in turn, lead to a bid to take a majority stake away from Branson.

Sources close to the negotiations confirmed weekend reports that Delta has approached Singapore over its stake, but cautioned that there is no certainty that it would bid for control of Virgin Atlantic, which Branson – who owns a 51% stake – launched in 1984.

Delta's move comes as Singapore aims to draw attention away from the crowded European market and concentrate on the rapidly expanding budget airline industry in south east Asia and Australia.

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Singapore Air Force turns up heat on dodgy hotel air con

If you can't stand the heat get out of the Plaza Hotel

That's what the Singapore Air Force seemed to be thinking when it complained about poor air-conditioning at the landmark Rockhampton hotel in 2007 and 2008.

The SAF told the hotel it would not return unless the problem was fixed - putting a $250,000 accommodation contract with the Plaza at risk.

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Top secret British colonial files missing

File photo of the interior of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Building in London. Some 170 boxes of top secret files on Britain's former colonial administrations have gone missing, while those relating to Singapore may have been destroyed in the 1990s, the government said Friday.

Some 170 boxes of top secret files on Britain's former colonial administrations have gone missing, while those relating to Singapore may have been destroyed in the 1990s, the government said Friday.

In a statement to parliament, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister David Lidington said the department knew the files had been returned to Britain from former colonies but did not know what had happened to them subsequently.

"It remains the case that the FCO is still unable to confirm the existence or destruction of 170 boxes of top secret colonial administration files known to have been returned to the UK," Lidington said.

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Steep rents push Singapore bridal shops into industrial parks

(Reuters) - Far from the madding crowds of Singapore's glitzy shopping malls, Cynthia Neo runs a bridal boutique tucked away in a nondescript industrial building in an old housing estate, pushed off the high street by pricey retail rents.

The owner of J&C Bridal Collections pays one quarter the rent she once shelled out for a shop in the heart of Chinatown, where a string of restaurants, hotels and retail shops meant a steady stream of shoppers.

But rising rents may be creeping into the industrial parks too. Industrial property prices have surged 27 percent this year after a government crackdown on residential investment pushed speculators into factories and warehouses.

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Malaysia, Singapore girls forced into sex taping

Malaysia, Singapore university girls tell of being forced into sex taping.

The girls sit at a local cafe. They don’t shy away from their anger and frustration. As university students from Malaysia and Singapore, they tell Bikyamasr.com they should have known better than to trust a group of men they met at a club last month, but they are young and wanted an “exciting experience.”

Instead it turned into a nightmare evening, with knives put into their face as they were forced to strip and perform sexual acts on each other as the men, at first, watched and then joined in, all while filming.

“It is our fault. We shouldn’t have gone with them to their flat, but we were stupid,” said Anna, a 21-year-old Singapore citizen, who added to Bikyamasr.com “that shouldn’t mean we should have been subjected to rape and forced to have sex with each other.”

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Temasek talks to Advent on Medreich stake sale

Temasek, the Singapore government-owned sovereign fund, has started discussions with private equity (PE) entities to offload its stake in Bangalore-based Medreich Pharma.

Sources say Temasek is in discussion with US-based Advent International to sell its 25 per cent stake, which it bought for Rs 110 crore in 2005. It is looking for a valuation of Rs 250-300 crore. Rothschild is advising Temasek on the stake sale. Beside discussion with PE companies, Temasek is also considering stake sale in Medreich to a strategic investor.

A contract drug manufacturer, Medreich claims a client base spread across 54 countries. Major clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Sanofi Aventis, Wyeth, Adcock Ingram, Mylan and Actavis. Its website says Medreich manufactures two of the top-selling drugs for GSK and Pfizer in India.

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Youku Tudou posts heavy losses, eyes mobile sector

China's biggest online video platform by the number of users, said on Friday that its mobile Internet business could help to boost revenues as third-quarter net losses increased.

The Beijing-based company reported third-quarter net losses of 91.5 million yuan ($14.6 million), compared to a net loss of $7.6 million for the same period in 2011. 

Youku merged with Tudou in August. The two websites now have more than 300 million viewers each week in China, according to Victor Koo, chairman and CEO of the company.

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Singapore's 2 casinos: We did the right thing - Hsien Loong

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that encouraging Singaporeans to have more children is the biggest challenge confronting the country if it wishes to remain an economic juggernaut in the developed world.

The Government has not succeeded in impressing on Singaporeans that “this is going to be a retirement home and not a vibrant city” if the population is not sustained, Mr Lee, 60, said in an interview at his office in the Istana on Monday.

“We’ll be dealing with it over the next 10 years, and longer,” he said of the falling birth rate. Mr Lee plans to unveil a package of measures in January aimed at boosting the fertility rate from 1.2 per woman.

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