Thursday, 14 November 2013

Watz Buzzing - 14 Nov 2013

Life is short in Singapore for dating website Ashley Madison

The Canada-based dating website Ashley Madison - whose slogan is "Life is short, have an affair" - has been banned in Singapore a few days before it was due to be launched there.

Since prostitution is legal in Singapore, this has led to criticism that the outlawing of the site underlines the corporate nature of the state - that adulterous relations are acceptable only if they are also commercially transacted.

Wall Street Journal: Singapore Ignites Passions With Ban of Infidelity Website
Sci-Tech Today: Singapore Bans Adultery Web Site Ashley Madison
The Independent: All this fuss about Ashley Madison
Channel News Asia: Ashley Madison unlikely to take up ads in S'pore: Yaacob Ibrahim
My Karma is Contraband: On State Nannying
Noel Boyd: My Point of View: Ashley Madison Singapore Ban
Today:Majority consensus or not, Ashley Madison ban justified

S’pore welcomes US to continue deepening engagement in Asia-Pacific region

Two assistant sports teachers broke into the homes of three students undergoing cricket training at St Andrew's Secondary School and stole more than $65,000 in cash, jewellery and valuables. While Vigineswari Pasupathy, 24, was placed on probation for two years on Wednesday, her elder sister Rajeswari 26, was jailed for 15 months.

District Judge Mathew Joseph noted that the older woman had played "a leading and masterly role" and had "manipulated" her sister into committing the crimes. Rajeswari had also re-offended while serving 11/2 years of probation for a 2011 conviction for theft, the judge added.

Both women had pleaded guilty on Oct 2 to committing housebreaking and theft. Then, the court heard that Rajeswari had hatched the plan of taking the housekeys of students attending the cricket sessions so as to burgle their homes but only if the other family members were overseas. She roped in her sister and the school's full-time cricket coach Jeraj Puvaneshen. His role was to keep the victims occupied.

Times of India: Indian origin sisters sentenced for theft
Business Standard: Singapore court jails Indian-origin sisters for housebreaking

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Detention without trial extended for 5 more years

An act that allows for detention without trial was extended for five more years, starting Oct 21 next year.

This is the 13th time the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) has been passed since it was introduced in 1955 to fight organised crime, but it did not come without lengthy debate.

Eight Members of Parliament, the majority of whom are lawyers by profession, voiced their thoughts about the controversial act, asking questions about its scope and lack of transparency.

Court application filed to challenge denial of access to lawyers

James Raj's lawyer M Ravi (Photo CNA)

An application is being filed this morning (13 Nov) in Singapore’s High Court on behalf of Mr James Raj to seek a declaration from the Court that immediate access to an attorney by an accused is a constitutionally protected right. Article 9(3) of the Constitution of Singapore provides that,
“Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.”
However, at present, the current practice employed by the police and supported by the public prosecutor allows for Singaporeans to be detained by authorities for up to 14 days without allowing the accused to consult with an attorney. To defend this practice, the public prosecutor has relied on a nearly 20 year-old High Court decision.

However, human rights standards globally have evolved towards granting the accused with immediate access to counsel, as reflected in statements issued by United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders,

The Judgement in the IMF Loan Appeal Confirms Government Is above the Law

The Appeal Court judges do not address this issue only saying that they sided with the original judge in his interpretation. They also say that it is not ordinary parlance to speak of “raising” a guarantee and that therefore “raised” in Article 144 must be applied to “loan” only and “given” to “guarantee” only. I fail to follow the judges’ logic here. Just because one noun may not make sense when paired with one of the verbs, it does not follow that therefore we can exclude the other noun from being paired with both verbs if it makes perfect grammatical sense to do so.

In any case I showed that it is common parlance to speak of raising a letter of credit. A guarantee is to all intents and purposes very similar to a letter of credit. Both instruments require the issuer to pay out if the party that is covered by the guarantee or letter of credit fails to do so. The judges say that they are different instruments and serve different purposes.  However as their accounting treatment and risk profile for the issuer would be identical it is difficult to see why the example for letters of credit should not apply to guarantees

However whilst it may be possible to argue about the meaning of the words the judges completely failed to deal with my main point as set out in (b) above. This is that this is a loan commitment and not a loan. If they were ill-placed to comment on the validity of my arguments, not having seen any written submissions from either me or the AG, then why not call for written submissions from both sides after the hearing was over. Alternatively they could have adjourned the hearing to allow both sides to make written submissions. Counsel for the AG called for my submissions to be stricken from the record on the grounds that they involved complex financial and accounting matters for which she had not prepared.

Singaporeans need more space, not more rules

People walking in Singapore's business district. (AFP photo)

One can never accuse Singapore of having too much space. The island is tiny. Space is at a premium. In preparation for a growing population there are measures that need to be taken. Resources need to be re-calibrated to make sure that there is enough for everyone, and policies may need to be re-looked or even re-written.

Speaking at the Institute of Policy Studies’ Conference on Civil Society, former Attorney-General Walter Woon took advantage of this situation to advocate for more rules in Singaporean society. Conflating the issue of physical space with that of civic and political space, he said that Singaporeans would need to “learn to disagree without being disagreeable” as interests groups competed for space.

The TODAY article backed up his point with comments from Law Minister K Shanmugam saying that not all engagement with civil society groups has resulted in a “positive experience”.

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How Should Singapore Evolve Into The Next Era?

There is a growing proportion of Singaporeans who believe in having a more equal society. As such, the more egalitarian values of the Worker’s Party (WP) and the more progressive policies of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) have appealed to this segment of Singaporeans, which would make up between 35% to 45% of the population at this point.

This also explains why the PAP is now trying to appear more “equal” in their manner of speech. This is also why Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had wanted to pursue a perspective that within the PAP, the “weight of thinking (has shifted to) left-of-centre.”

However, it is not sufficient for a political party to make claims of their standpoints. To have a fuller appreciation of their value system, we would need to look at the policies they put out. For example, in the area of health, the PAP government spends only 1.4% of GDP, whereas the Singapore Progressive Party (SPP) and the Worker’s Party (WP) have both called for between 5% to 6% of GDP spending. Also, whereas the PAP government is only spending 31% on total health expenditure (with the rest paid privately and out-of-pocket), the SDP has called for the government to increase its contribution of the total health expenditure to 70%. All the other political parties – SDP, SPP and WP – have called for expenditure rates that are much closer to what high-income developed countries should be spending, and which would also reduce the income inequality that has been growing under the PAP.

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See what Novena mall's glue trap does to cats!

Animal lovers are up in arms over glue traps placed near Square 2, a mall in the Novena area.

While the traps were originally meant to trap rats on the premises, two kittens were caught by the traps instead and were rescued by passers-by.

Here are excerpts from a cat rescue group's letter sent to Square 2's building management commitee:

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Taxi in Bukit Timah condo swimming pool

How on earth did taxi end up in Bukit Timah condo swimming pool?
How on earth did taxi end up in Bukit Timah condo swimming pool?

Cabbie had a rough night
Cabbie had a rough night

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 4
A case of overworked cabbies or bad infrastructure

No wonder taxi ridership has taken a plunge

How does one even get a CRANE in there?

Not a set on ‘The Italian Job’

There’s no escape from this trap. NONE at all

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