Friday, 18 January 2013

Watz Online - 18 Jan 2013

Former prime minister of Singapore hears sermon of anti-gay pastor 

The pastor of a megachurch in Singapore has used a religious service as a platform to rally his audience, which included former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, to lobby the government to keep a law that criminalises gay sex. 

In August 2012, the Singapore High Court moved to consider whether Section 377A of the Penal Code is unconstitutional. This section states that a man who “commits any act of gross indecency with another man” will be punished by law. 

There will be two cases before the court on 25 January and 14 February, which will call for the law, in place since colonial times, to be declared unconstitutional

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Singapore: 'a wonderful place to work'

Professor Martyn Partridge

My affection for the country, its people and culture has grown,' says Prof Partridge. Photograpah: NTU

Professor Martyn Partridge has been in Singapore for two years as senior vice-dean at Nanyang Technological University's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, a joint partnership with Imperial College London.

"Helping to start and shape a medical school is the biggest, most challenging thing I've ever done," he says. "Singapore is a wonderful place to work, with excited, interested and well-trained colleagues. It's a safe environment with a strong emphasis on education and science. There are inevitably differences in leadership styles and school structure – but these don't matter when institutions share the same values.

"Relocation inevitably disrupts some professional and family connections but modern ways of communicating are so good that it's as easy to supervise PhD students from overseas as it is to talk to my grandchildren. My children have flown the nest – two out of three are temporarily in Australia, which makes visits a short haul while we're here.

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NUS law prof Tey contests 6 CPIB statements 

The National University of Singapore (NUS) law professor defending himself in the sex-for-grades corruption trial has contested the admissibility of his six statements to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Tey Tsun Hang, 41, said they cannot be counted as evidence as they were made under duress.

A hearing to determine the admissibility of the statements, also known as trial within a trial, took place today.

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Budget 2013: Tax professionals want more tax reliefs 

Cash top-up reliefs for Medisave accounts and maid levy reliefs for people caring for aged parents - these are a just couple of items on the Budget wish list for tax professionals in Singapore.

According to the wish list released by the Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals (SIATP) on Wednesday, tax professionals across various industries would like to see various reliefs extended to more individuals.

This includes CPF top-up reliefs for Medisave accounts, foreign maid levy reliefs for people caring for aged parents, and tax relief for tourists departing Singapore by land transport.

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Construction demand expected to remain strong in 2013 

Singapore's construction demand is expected to remain strong in 2013, fuelled by public sector projects.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is projecting a construction demand of between S$26 billion and S$32 billion for 2013.

This comes after the industry reported S$28 billion worth of contracts awarded in 2012.

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Singapore Exports Drop Most in 14 Months as Recovery Delayed 

Singapore’s exports declined the most in 14 months in December as manufacturers shipped fewer electronics and pharmaceuticals, hurting economic recovery.

Non-oil domestic exports slid 16.3 percent from a year earlier, after a revised 2.6 percent drop in November, the trade promotion agency said in a statement today. The median of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 7.6 percent decline. The drop was the most since October 2011, based on previously reported data. Exports rose 0.5 percent in 2012, the worst performance in three years, according to Bloomberg calculations.

The World Bank this week lowered its global growth forecast for 2013 as austerity measures, high unemployment and low business confidence weigh on developed economies. The decline in shipments in December raises the possibility that the island slid into a recession last quarter, in contrast to preliminary data showing otherwise, Bank of America Corp. economist Chua Hak Bin said. 

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Report: Silicon Valley Internet Surveillance Gear Used by Authoritarian Regimes 

California is not normally associated with draconian global censorship and surveillance initiatives. But that could be about to change with the release of a new report linking controversial American-made technology to authoritarian regimes across the world.

In recent months, a team of researchers part of Canada’s Citizen Lab have been conducting network scans of public servers in countries on almost every continent. Today, they released their findings—which appear to show that networking technology made by Blue Coat, a Silicon Valley-based company, is being used in a host of countries with questionable human rights records.

The equipment in question can serve a legitimate purpose—like filtering out spam or malware. But in the hands of an authoritarian regime it can easily be turned into a tool for monitoring users or blocking content. Citizen Lab says it found Blue Coat filtering technology capable of censorship operating in countries including Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It also found Blue Coat technology that can be used for surveillance and tracking of Web users in Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela.

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Singapore Curbs Industrial Property Sales to Avert Bubble 

Singapore’s industrial building sales may drop 10 percent this year after the city became the first in Asia to impose curbs on such properties, according to the world’s largest closely held commercial real estate broker.

The government on Jan. 11 imposed as much as 15 percent in stamp duties on sellers of properties such as warehouses and logistics buildings to curb speculation after prices doubled in the past three years and outpaced the increase in rents

“We foresee a substantial short-term impact on the industrial segment,” Priyaranjan Kumar, the Singapore-based regional director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield Inc., said in a Jan. 15 interview. “Measures targeting the industrial sector are appropriate given very vocal concerns by local small and medium scale industries of being increasingly priced out of the market.”

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