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SINGAPORE: The Singapore economy grew 3.6 per cent last year, faster than initial estimates of 3.5 per cent, according to data released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Wednesday (Feb 14).
That  is faster than 2016’s 2.4 per cent growth and marks the Republic’s fastest growth since 2014, helped largely by a strong performance in the manufacturing sector.

For the final three months of  2017, gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 3.6 per cent from a year  earlier, easing from the 5.5 per cent rise in the third quarter but quicker than the Government’s earlier estimate of 3.1 per cent growth for the fourth quarter.

On a quarter-on-quarter  seasonally adjusted basis, the economy grew by 2.1 per cent in the  fourth quarter. This compared with the 2.8 per cent initially expected and 11.2 per cent growth during the July to September period.

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Chit Chat Corner / Albert Yeung showers Gillian Chung with wedding gifts
« on: February 10, 2018, 03:09:01 pm »
8 Feb – Gillian Chung is one lucky lady. Not only is she getting married to her handsome fiancé, she is also getting lots of presents from her boss for her upcoming wedding.

As reported on ET Today, sources revealed that EEG Chairman Albert Yeung has decided to purchase a building worth RMB 6 million as a wedding gift to the singer, along with a custom-made Dragon and Phoenix gold bangle.

Yeung also promised to bear the cost of the singer's wedding.

When asked why he is being so generous towards Gillian, the business magnate said that he is just happy that the singer, whom he treats like his own daughter, is finally getting married.

"Everyone knows how hard it was for her to get married," he added.

On the other hand, his response about Gillian's love life has drawn the ire of some the singer's fans. One fan commented, "Why is it when Edison [Chen] becomes a father, everybody gave him their blessings, but Gillian was not treated equally? The society is really cruel towards women."

From Eric Clapton to Dennis Rodman, she has scripted an image makeover with a finesse few would have expected of the hermit kingdom.

As North Korea takes the stage with the opening of the Pyeongchang Olympics, its sudden shift from menacing hermit to engaging debutante is attributed to Kim Jong-un’s baby sister Kim Yo-jong, who is said to be the mastermind behind a rebranding campaign that includes her brother befriending Dennis Rodman, staging photo ops at amusement parks and possibly even accepting South Korea’s invitation to the Olympics.

Kim Jong-un’s sister arrives in South Korea in landmark visit

The deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department within the Worker’s Party, she first entered the public eye in 2011 at one of the darkest points in North Korean history, during the funeral of her father, Kim Jong-il. Now she appears on the world stage at arguably the brightest moment in its recent history, blazing the trail with a stunning Olympic charm offensive.

That offensive intensified this week, with the announcement that she would attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics, marking the first time a member of the Kim family has ever entered the country, and sparking hope in the hearts of South Korean liberals that this is a genuine shot at peace. Some worry, though, that the two Koreas have all their work still ahead of them when it comes to peace. “Unification is needed,” said Kim Moon, a coffee shop manager in eastern Seoul, “but the logistics for both countries to adapt to each other’s cultures might not be possible”. 

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Whoever emerges as Singapore’s premier-designate, two things are certain. First, he will come from the People’s Action Party (PAP), the  only ruling party Singapore has known since it became self-governing in  1959. Second, he will want to preserve the PAP’s  pro-business-but-socially-responsive philosophy, and its  security-focused state apparatus with a dominant executive at its core.

Despite these givens, the succession question is currently a key preoccupation in the city-state. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said he would step down by the age of 70, which is now four years away. Three fourth-generation (“4G”) leaders  are said to be on the shortlist to take over: Finance Minister Heng  Swee Keat, 56, and two 48-year-olds, Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung. The  uncertainty is testing people’s faith in a political brand associated  with surprise-free long-term planning. Less talked about in mainstream  media, but more troubling, is how the PAP has sidelined the individual  who most inspires confidence—Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

In the larger scheme of things, these career technocrats may seem to be just different shades of white. Yet who will succeed Prime Minister  Lee is not a trivial matter. Within the parameters of PAP ideology,  there is scope for a new leader to embark on meaningful changes—or not.  Despite the party’s strong showing in the 2015 general election,  when it won 70% of the popular vote, one should not underestimate the  need for internal reform. On Singapore’s political spectrum, people who  prefer the PAP to stay the same—or, at the other extreme, to lose  power—are probably outnumbered by those in the middle, who want a  much-improved PAP.

In recent years, Singapore academics have contributed suggestions for  radical reform that a bolder PAP should find thinkable and doable.  Public policy scholar Donald Low, for example, has argued that Singapore  needs to shake up its governance principles if it wants to respond  effectively to current socio-economic challenges (Hard Choices, 2014). Sociologist Teo You Yenn makes the case for more compassionate social policy to address an alarming income divide (This is What Inequality Looks Like,  2018). In my own recent book, I contend that enlightened self-interest  should persuade the PAP to embark on liberal political reforms (Singapore, Incomplete,  2017). Even among Singaporeans who are generally pro-establishment,  there is dissatisfaction with government leaders who seem far too quick  to brush off lapses, whether it’s chronic breakdowns of the mass transit system or the massive corruption scandal involving the government-linked Keppel corporation.

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From ‘CNB to keep very close watch on Escobar eatery named after Columbian drug lord’, 8 Feb 2018, article in CNA

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) will be keeping a “very close watch” on a bar named after Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, following an angry complaint lodged last Friday (Feb 2) by the country’s embassy to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“CNB and the Singapore Police Force will be engaging the owner of the bar and will take the necessary action to uphold our strict anti-drug policy,” said a CNB spokesperson.

“It will also be keeping a very close watch on the bar and its patrons to ensure that no illegal drug activities take place there,” said the spokesperson, adding that the agency understood that the Colombian embassy and community, as well as some Singaporeans were upset about the matter.

In a three-page letter, the Colombian embassy expressed “serious concern” over the eatery in China Square Central, saying that it was paying tribute to the “worst criminal in the history of Colombia”.

The way that Pablo Escobar’s name and image are being used to promote the outlet runs counter to Singapore’s approach towards drugs and government efforts in preventive drug education, the CNB spokesperson added.

“The glamorisation of a drug kingpin and associated drug use is irresponsible and insensitive.”

CNB should also be keeping an eye on Mcdonalds’ because they name one of their breakfast staples a ‘HASH’ brown. They should also check out ACID bar at Peranakan place, and review a classical performance named ‘Poem of Ecstasy‘. Seriously, what exactly is CNB expecting? If I’m going to run an underground drug ring, the last thing I want to do is blow my cover by naming it after a crime lord, and choose something seemingly playful and innocuous like Gudetama cafe instead.

Some years back, people complained about a pub that called itself Aushwitz because it reminded everyone about the Holocaust. Yet nothing was done about a hotpot restaurant that honoured a brutal Chinese dictator responsible for 45 million deaths (House of Mao Hunan Hot Pot). Nor did we touch restaurants with suspiciously subversive communist elements, like Red Star Restaurant.

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SINGAPORE: Online users were  unable to access SingPass and CorpPass services at around noon on Friday (Feb 9), the second time it had happened in a week.

Responding  to an email from Channel NewsAsia, the Government Technology Agency of  Singapore (GovTech) said on Friday that "some users of SingPass and CorpPass may have encountered intermittent access since late morning".

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The bar whose logo is based on drug lord Pablo Escobar will keep its name but change its design following the advice of local authorities amid strong condemnation by the Colombian community in Singapore over its theme.

Speaking to Yahoo News Singapore at Escobar bistro on Thursday (8 February), the owner of the bar, Stan Sri Ganesh, 35, said that he met up with six officers from Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Wednesday (7 February) to discuss the proposed changes, which will take at least a month to implement.

“We are very sorry, our intention was never to offend a particular individual or a community. Our intention was to have everyone come here and enjoy this place as how it is, without having to feel like there is a hole in their wallet,” said Stan. The bar also posted its statement and apology on its Facebook page on Wednesday night.

The bar, which is located in China Square Central, first made headlines on Monday after Yahoo News Singapore reported that the Colombian embassy wrote a letter condemning the theme of the bar. In the letter directed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the embassy expressed its concern, saying the theme “pays tribute to the worst criminal in the history of Colombia”.

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Singaporeans have grown used to the PAP’s media monopoly on a regular basis citing studies showing Singapore topping one or more global  indices or statistics proving that we are one of the richest countries  in the world. These include indices for global competitiveness,  transparency and lack of corruption and economic freedom. Singapore also is at or near the top of the PISA rankings for maths and science. Our  universities are also ranked ahead of many more prestigious and venerable institutions despite the fact that academic freedom when it comes to Singapore is non-existent.

While we should be proud of Singapore’s achievements, which owe next to nothing to the PAP,  we should rightly be sceptical of the fake news  machine of our state media. Many of the announcements and economic  statistics do not stand up to scrutiny. For instance the PAP is fond of citing Singapore’s very high GDP per capita. However this is inflated both by a very low dependency ratio, because so much of Singapore’s  population consists of foreign workers without dependents, and by the long hours we work. When measured as GDP per hour worked Singapore’s  record is appalling, coming in at around the same level as countries  like the Czech Republic or South Korea. This is despite the fact that Singapore is a city with a relatively small population and should rightly be compared with other global cities such as London, New York or  Los Angeles, which boast much higher GDPs per capita. It is also difficult to understand how Singapore can rank highly for economic freedom when the Government controls so much of the economy and owns most of the land as well as having a stranglehold on people’s savings.

A good example of the way state media aims to deceive foreign observers by comparing Singapore as a city with countries, all in the  interest of boosting the PAP’s argument that authoritarian kleptocratic  government is good for you, is the announcement in Today Online on 24  January that Singapore had maintained its second position in the INSEAD Global Talent Competitiveness Index. This supposedly measures the way nations and cities lure, develop and retain talented people. The first sentence reads:
“Switzerland,  Singapore and the US are the top three countries in the world when it  comes to fostering and attracting talent, according to an index compiled  by INSEAD business school.”

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SINGAPORE — Moving from a “human resources” to a “human capital” mindset will be key in Singapore’s new phase of growth, Second Minister  for Manpower Josephine Teo said on Wednesday (Feb 7), as she outlined measures to help companies achieve this.

These include boosting programmes that help employers to transform their business strategies and that support workers in picking up fresh skills.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Mrs Teo said, for example, that the SNEF Agency for Productivity Practices, Human Resource and Industrial  Relations (Sapphire), which was launched last year, has been helping companies to enhance their competitiveness, with a keen focus on the human capital strategy.

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Suspicious that his wife was having an extra-marital affair, a police officer looked up information on his wife’s male friend through the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) computer network.

For his actions, Station Inspector Sharul Osman was fined $8,000 by the State Courts on Wednesday (7 February) after he pleaded guilty to two charges under the Computer misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

The court heard that in January 2016, Sharul noticed from his telephone bills that his wife had been making frequent calls to a particular phone number. He looked up the number on Facebook and found a man’s profile.

He then sent text messages to the man. When the man said there was nothing wrong with him talking to Sharul’s wife, Sharul became annoyed and wanted to confront the man in person. He decided to perform a background search on the man in order to prepare for the confrontation.

Sharul did so using the SPF’s FOCUS computer system, which is meant to allow officers to lodge police reports as well as search for details on reports made by members of the public.

On 15 February 2016, Sharul logged into FOCUS using the username and password belonging to a colleague so that he could avoid detection. He then looked up information on the man in question.

Sharul’s offences were discovered while the SPF’s internal affairs officers were investigating unauthorised screenings conducted by Sharul’s colleague.

Asking for leniency, Sharul’s lawyer Sng Kheng Huat called his client’s actions a momentary lapse of judgement and asked for a fine. Conversely, Deputy Public Prosecutor Alexander Woon noted that all SPF officers who use the FOCUS system are aware that it should be used only for official purposes.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that Sharul has also been interdicted from the police force.

Under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, a person who uses a computer to access unauthorised information can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to two years, or both, on a first conviction. A second or subsequent conviction will attract a fine of up to $10,000, a jail term of up to three years, or both.

SINGAPORE - Taking a leaf out of travel websites and ride sharing apps, the real estate industry is introducing customer ratings of real estate agents, and publish property transaction histories  to improve transparency and enhance professionalism in the industry.

The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) is working with agencies to publish property transaction details - such as the price, location and the agent who closed the deal - and "TripAdvisor-like" customer ratings of the 28,000 property agents. It said this will allow consumers to find an agent who best fits their needs.

The initiative will be implemented in two phases, starting with Housing Board transactions from the end of 2018, and for private residential transactions from the end of 2019.

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SINGAPORE — A bar named after Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar found itself in a tricky situation after the Embassy of Colombia here and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) took issue with its theme.

The embassy confirmed on Tuesday (Feb 6) that it had sent an official note to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to denounce the three-week-old nightspot named Escobar in China Square Central. The venue features themes related to the late Colombian, who led the Medellin drug cartel known for its cocaine trade.

A CNB spokesperson said that the manner in which Pablo Escobar’s name and image are being used to promote the bar is highly objectionable and runs counter to Singapore’s zero-tolerance approach towards drugs and to the Government’s efforts in preventive drug education.

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