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PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will cut the salaries of its Cabinet ministers by 10 per cent, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced on Wednesday (May 23).

Dr Mahathir was speaking to media on Wednesday (May 23), after chairing the first Cabinet meeting at Putrajaya. He said the Cabinet also discussed ways to reduce the government's debt which is in excess of RM1 trillion (US$250 billion).

Dr Mahathir added that some projects committed to by the old government may be dropped. Regarding the Singapore-KL high-speed rail link, Dr Mahathir said the government will decide “very soon” on whether to continue with the project.



Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s latest Facebook post has prompted yet another round of calls for him to ‘do a Mahathir’ and lead the opposition to victory at the next General Election.

Yesterday, Dr Tan posted a photo of himself seated at a busy food centre. Titling the post “LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE,” Dr Tan wrote: “Last weekend l was at Blk 726 West Coast Market and Food Centre. I was having breakfast with friends and sharing our views on current issues. There, I also enjoyed meeting and speaking to the many other people who were there at the Centre . Some of them were surprised to see me. The food centre was packed and doing well.”

The title of Dr Tan’s latest social media post is notable and many appear to have drawn links between Dr Tan’s post and what Malaysia’s Dr Mahathir Mohamad did during the watershed 2018 Malaysian General Election – Dr Mahathir listened to the people and led the opposition coalition against his former party to victory.

The 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad not only soundly defeated the incumbent at the polls but he also ushered in Malaysia’s first transition of power since independence. Interestingly, it was Dr Mahathir himself who helped establish the ruling Barisan National (BN) coalition in power and served as Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

During the last General Election earlier this month, Dr Mahathir stepped out of retirement and left the ruling party to lead the opposition. Breaking the BN’s six-decade long monopoly, Dr Mahathir beat his one-time protégé Najib Razak and became the world’s oldest head of government.

Dr Tan congratulated Dr Mahathir for his historic win on Facebook after the Election. He wrote, in part: “You have shown that age has not prevented you from doing what u believe is right.”

Dr Mahathir’s win prompted many Singaporeans to draw parallels between the 92-year-old and Dr Tan. At 78, Dr Tan is 14 years junior to Mahathir. Much like Mahathir, Dr Tan was also with the ruling party previously and served as People’s Action Party ([email protected]) parliamentarian for 26 years, between 1980 and 2006. He was also elected into the [email protected]’s Central Executive Committee in 1987 and remained a member until 1996.

Dr Tan’s latest post has renewed calls for him to unite the opposition to take on the ruling party at the next Election:


Any lingering doubts that socio-economic inequality is – or will be – a problem in Singapore were probably laid to rest in the past week, when President Halimah Yacob, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made inequality and social mobility key themes in their speeches in parliament. In comparison, neither “inequality” nor “social mobility” featured in former President Tony Tan’s three addresses to parliament in 2011, 2014, and 2016, and social mobility in the context of Singapore has only been referenced in two of Mr. Lee’s 14 National Day Rally speeches, in 2005 and 2017 (inequality was mentioned in two other speeches, in 2008 and in 2013, in the Malaysian and global context). This year, that Mr. Ong’s speech centred on inequality also points to a belief that education is the site for intervention.

In the past year too, a study on social capital and class divide published by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and the widely reviewed “This is What Inequality Looks Like” by sociology professor Teo You Yenn have advanced the public discourse on inequality.

Yet the speeches of Mr. Ong and Mr. Lee (in fact, the IPS study too) were scant on substantive policy solutions. Part of this stems from the way the government talks about inequality, either by hedging (the “there may be some inequality in Singapore, but we have not fared that badly…” approach) or by lacking precision with measures of inequality. Another part of the problem are the principles which undergird the government’s approach to social policies – that of self-reliance, familial support, and “many helping hands”, which were characterised most recently in 2015 by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam as a “trampoline” – which as a result of our general prosperity have rarely been challenged. Finally, and relatedly on these perceived sacred cows, an apprehension towards policy experimentation.

Instances of hedging and the lack of precision can be gleaned in these latest speeches delivered in parliament. The prime minister spoke about how Raffles Institution (RI) has become less diverse – presumably in terms of the demographic and socio-economic backgrounds of its students – noting that: “Just over half the students live in public housing, 53 per cent, and all the students get along confidently and comfortably”. Notwithstanding the observation that “public housing” is a broad category which does not necessarily speak to the actual distribution of students (since they could be living in bigger apartments) as well as the proposal for the Ministry of Education to work with top schools like RI so that they “never become self-perpetuating, closed circles”, the 53 per cent still compares poorly to the approximately 80 per cent of Singaporeans who live in public housing. Remember the brouhaha in 2008, for instance, when it was revealed that just 47 per cent of public service scholars lived in public housing. More critically, the systemic reasons causing these disproportions remains unexamined.

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I have read Teo You Yenn’s coverage about inequality and feel a need to air some observations:

a.) What she observed about “falling through the cracks” is no different from what MPs have been raising in Parliament

Everyone from Amrin Amin to Zainal Sapari (A to Z in case you didn’t notice) had been speaking and finding ways to address this for the longest time (here’s an article from Zainal in 2013 ). The challenge is not about raising the issue. The issue is up there for all to study. The challenge is in seeking ways to close the said gap.

Her suggestions are uncomfortable. Teo talks about “universal basic income” (basically it means free money monthly for citizens) and quotes “success stories” such as those countries in Scandinavia. However, that is misleading. Had the reader been attentive to recent developments, he would have recalled that just a few weeks ago Finland itself had terminated its experiment on universal basic income because it did not work. (See Finland’s Universal Basic Income experiment falls flat | Coffee House )

Folks enjoy generous welfare and benefits but that is simply because their countries implement very high taxes – both income and sales taxes.

b.) It isn't as if Singapore hasn’t been doing anything at all to tackle the income inequality issue

In honesty, many programs have been spearheaded by community leaders, MPs and VWOs for example:

Community VWO programes: There are a myriad of funds, programs, schemes and initiatives to get people to volunteer, give or to lobby organisations for funding and to distribute funds and aid. Through these, the communities organised themselves and in so doing, better understood the texture of problems that each individual family unit faced.

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SINGAPORE – Singaporeans and Permanent Residents can apply for tickets to two previews and the National Day Parade (NDP) – which will feature the largest number of participants and military tattoo display for a parade to be held at the floating platform – from Wednesday (May 23) to June 3.

In a press release on Tuesday, the NDP's executive committee said that the event will be held at the Marina Bay floating platform under the theme "We are Singapore".
inRead invented by Teads

A crowd favourite, the Combined Schools choir will be returning in this year's event after a five-year hiatus.

The parade will also showcase enhanced aerial displays by the Republic of Singapore Air Force and, for the first time, aerial jumps by naval combat divers.

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A MAN driving a Singapore-registered car was caught on surveillance camera stealing a potted plant near Century Garden in Johor Baru.

Quoting Singapore’s Lianhe Wan­bao, Sin Chew Daily reported that a Facebook user posted a video showing the incident in the wee hours of Thursday.

The 40-second video showed the man arriving at a road shoulder and opening the passenger door of his car after alighting.

He was seen looking around before quickly putting the pot inside his car and speeding off.

The video was widely circulated on social media after it was shared, and received mixed reactions.

Many teased the man and called him the “plant thief”, while some joked that he did it because “plants in Malaysia were fancier”.

Some also questioned his nationality despite driving a Singapore-registered car.

> The daily also reported that seven senior citizens have been rounded up for suspected illegal horse-betting in a raid in Singapore on Friday night.

One of them even argued with the police officer for arresting an old man like him.

“I am already 70-something, just a step away from the coffin. Why arrest me?” he cried while being taken away.

Another old man also made a scene when he was arrested. He denied committing any offence and warned journalists there not to take his picture.

During the raid around King George’s Avenue targeting vice activity, nine men aged 60 and above were questioned.

LTA releases key guidelines for inward-facing in-vehicle recording devices in public service vehicles.

T.he Land Transport Authority on Tuesday (May 22) published a set of installation guidelines for inward-facing in-vehicle recording devices (IVRDs) in public service vehicles (PSVs) such as taxis, private hire cars (PHCs) and

buses. The guidelines will come into effect on June 22. Key requirements include: PSV owners must obtain LTA’s approval to install inward-facing IVRDs, with installations to carried out only at LTA-authorised installation centres IVRDs must be secured in a way that prevents unauthorised access to and downloading of the stored data IVRDs must be installed in a fixed position and cannot be rotated to prevent the capture of compromising visual records of commuters. IVRDs must not have any audio recording function.

All footage must clearly indicate a date and time stamp, and PSV’s licence plate number.

It was reported that lawyers Datuk Harpal Singh Grewal dan M Athimulan have withdrawn as legal counsels for Najib.

According to Harpal, who confirmed their withdrawal to the press last night, they had resigned voluntarily and had not been "sacked" by Najib.

"We were not dismissed; we withdrew after tonight’s discussion," he was quoted as saying by Channel NewsAsia.

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Fifty-three piracy websites, including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and have been blocked in Singapore following the most sweeping action taken by copyright holders here in more than a decade.

Last month, the Singapore High Court ordered Internet service providers (ISPs) Singtel, StarHub, M1, MyRepublic and ViewQwest to block these 53 sites, which were found to be "flagrantly infringing" intellectual property.

This followed a successful application by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) earlier this year to block them under Singapore's amended Copyright Act. "In Singapore, these sites are responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows," an MPAA spokesman told The Straits Times.

MPAA's six member studios are Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures Industries, Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal City Studios Production and Warner Bros Entertainment.

The 53 piracy sites, comprising 154 unique Web addresses, carry the latest box office hits such as American superhero films Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, among a host of other movies and TV shows.

"This action by rights owners is necessary to protect the creative industry, enabling creators to create and keep their jobs, protect their works, and ensure the continued provision of high-quality content to audiences," the MPAA spokesman added.

In 2016, was the first piracy website to be blocked under the amended Copyright Act after the MPAA filed its first salvo in the Republic in its war against piracy.
Singapore's amended Copyright Act, which took effect in December 2014, lets content owners seek a High Court order to get ISPs to block piracy websites. Before the revised law, they could not compel ISPs to block pirated content.

All the ISPs said they have complied with the court order to block the websites by last Friday.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will review the implementation of mega projects such as the high-speed rail line to Singapore, and a US$14 billion rail project connecting the country's east and west coasts, state news agency Bernama reported on Tuesday (May 22), citing the economic affairs minister.

Mohamed Azmin Ali also said the government will ensure projects that will be implemented in the future are transparent and open, without any direct deals, according to Bernama.
Malaysia's new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has vowed to review some projects approved by the earlier administration, including the East Coast Rail Line - a 55 billion ringgit (US$13.84 billion) rail project that will link Malaysia's east coast on the South China Sea to Kuala Lumpur and the strategic shipping routes of the Strait of Malacca in the west.

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In response to the collapse in prices of older HDB flats, MND Minister Lawrence Wong has insisted that “there is still value in older HDB flats”.  CNA

So long as the value of older HDB flats is not zero, Singaporeans can expect the million-dollar minister to keep repeating the same statement.

From 2013 to 2017, the price of a 4-room HDB flat above 40 years in Queenstown has plummeted by $124,000. A similar 5-room flat in the same estate lost $126,000 in value from 2015 to 2017.

Lessees of older flats are now KPKB-ing because they were ‘guaranteed’ by ministers – including LKY and son – that HDB flat prices would never fall.

Accordingly, most HDB lessees then planned to monetise their HDB lease, aka assets, for retirement and are increasingly feeling that they have been scammed.  The demand for HDB flats above 40 years have reduced to a trickle.

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Martial arts legend Jet Li Lianjie’s frail appearance in a Tibet temple has shocked many fans around the world, but it wasn’t too long ago the 55-year-old actor looked a picture of health – at least on the silver screen.

Struggling with hyperthyroidism and spinal problems as a result of decades of tough movie-making, the Beijing-born kung fu superstar’s health has been in decline since he revealed in 2010 that he was suffering from the debilitating condition.

The Hollywood icon, who starred in Lethal Weapon 4 and Romeo Must Die, admitted he has not been in the best of health in recent years.

“I’ve suffered from illnesses, for example hyperthyroidism. I am fat but I can’t lose weight because I am taking medication for my illness. The medication is to control my heart beat. That’s why I can’t do lots of exercise,” said Li, who revealed his resting heart rate was around 130 to 140 beats per minute (a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm).

Li’s manager, Steven Chasman told the Washington Post that the photo of Li in Tibet “was just a bad photo of someone who is 55 years old”.

“He has hyperthyroidism that he’s been dealing with for almost 10 years. It’s nothing life-threatening and he’s dealing with it,” Chasman told the Washington Post.

Li said he had tackled his condition “head-on” and “aggressively” when he was first diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and although treatment was successful at first, he suffered a relapse.

Li is the youngest in his family and experienced hardship at an early age when he lost his father at the age of two. Growing up in a middle-class family in Beijing, his mother had to take care of five children. Li took up kung fu at the age of eight when martial arts was growing in popularity.

Li made the Forbes list as one of the most highly paid actors in Asia but said a few years ago: “Money is not the most important thing. Your health is your life.”

For Nobukazu Kuriki, the 2012 attempt to summit Mount Everest was costly.

Strong winds from a sudden blizzard had derailed the Japanese climber’s fourth attempt up the world’s tallest mountain. For two days, he cowered inside an improvised emergency shelter that mountaineers call a snowhole as winds howled, and temperatures plunged below zero.

The snow shelter kept him alive — but by the time he emerged, Kuriki had frostbite so bad, he would ultimately lose parts of nine fingers. For a few despondent days in a hospital, he also lost the will to climb.

“Before my fingers were amputated, I phoned my father,” he said in recounting the incident on his YouTube channel. “The first thing he said was, ‘Congratulations.’ I asked him what for; he said because I survived.”

But, he continued: “My dream is not only climbing Mount Everest. My real goal is [to] overcome the barrier of negativity.”

Two years later, he made a triumphant return to climbing, scaling Broad Peak in the Himalayas — the 12th-highest point in the world.

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