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    Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 17:20

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    SINGAPORE - A 60-year-old man is being investigated after toothpicks were found embedded into a public bus seat, presumably to prank unsuspecting commuters.

    Last month, photos of three toothpicks sticking out of a seat went viral on social media, with many netizens calling it a 'sick' act.

    Without confirming that it was the same case, police said in a statement today (Aug 8) that a report of such an act was lodged by a bus company on Aug 4.

    The suspect was identified with help from CCTV footage and ground enquiries, police added.

    Anyone convicted of mischief faces a jail term of up to two years, a fine or both.

    huizhen@sph.com.sg

    Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 18:39
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    SINGAPORE - Singapore's Olympic champion swimmer Joseph Schooling insisted Tuesday he meant no offence with a vow to teach Malaysians "a thing or two" when the neighbouring country hosts the Southeast Asian Games this month.

    Schooling, who is a national idol after winning the city-state's first gold medal at last year's Summer Olympics, made the comments on his return to Singapore last week from the world swimming championships in Budapest, sparking an online furore.

    "We have a chance to do something special at the SEA Games; 2015 was something special for us, I think it will be nice to go to Malaysia's backyard and teach them a thing or two," he said.

    His reaction triggered anger online, especially in neighbouring Malaysia, which has a historically prickly relationship with Singapore.

    "That comment is uncalled for. Very distasteful; coming from so called pride of Singapore," one web user Paul Kin Lim, posted under an online version of the article.

    "It is better to be humble," said another post.

    On Tuesday Schooling responded to the online anger, saying his comments were "taken out of context", Singapore's Straits Times newspaper reported.

    "I was speaking about how we have a younger team, and I threw in Malaysia somehow - must've been the 17 hours' of jet lag - and then I said I can't wait to go into their backyard and teach them a lesson or two," he was cited as saying in the paper.

    "Which made it sound like I was criticising Malaysia, I was actually talking about our younger kids going there and teaching (our) rookies a thing or two about the launch pad that we have in the SEA Games to bigger and better meets in the future."

    Schooling is taking part in six events at the Southeast Asian Games, which take place in Kuala Lumpur from August 19 to 30.

    Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 18:55

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    SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered his National Day Message at Gardens by the Bay earlier today (Aug 8).

    He highlighted three things that will benefit Singaporeans in the long term: preschool, the war on diabetes, and a Smart Nation. Watch the full speech:

    Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 19:42
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    Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 12:09
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    PEKAN NENAS: Despite repeated reminders, Malaysians working across the Causeway continue to flout the law, not showing their passports when exiting or entering the country.

    This month alone, more than a dozen Malaysians paid heavy fines for the offence.

    In the latest case, at least six people who were returning from work from the city state were fined after they pleaded guilty to failing to report to the immigration officers at the checkpoint.

    Session court judge Salawati Djambari fined each of the workers RM1,900 in default two months’ jail.

    The three men and three women, aged 19 to 27, paid the fines.

    According to the charge sheet, the six were detained near the toilet of Komplex Abu Bakar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex in Tanjung Kupang at 6.20pm on July 28.

    They were nabbed near the bus lanes.

    At the same special court at the Pekan Nenas immigration detention camp, 12 Vietnamese women were fined for working as waitresses at a cafe in Sg Abong, Muar on July 16.

    Immigration officers Norhasimah Othman and Mohmad Hanapiah Rosdi prosecuted the cases. 

    Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 13:00
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    [Update, Aug 10]: The pupil who made a rude gesture on TV during the National Day Parade is "deeply apologetic" and has been counselled by the school, reported The Straits Times


    You might have seen it by now either on national TV or all over the internet: A schoolboy flashes his middle finger to the camera during the National Day 2017 celebrations, and did so without a care in the world.

    Thanks to the internet and everyone who was watching NDP, the boy becomes a viral sensation in a matter of minutes.

    Footage of him flipping the bird at the Marina Bay floating platform before the camera cuts away has been uploaded onto YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with tons of comments on various Facebook pages that have shared the video.

    SBS - Sure Boh Singapore's Facebook page already garnered over 19,000 views within an hour the video was uploaded.

    While it is not immediately clear which school the boy is from, some people on forums and social media are finding the boy's gesture rude and disrespectful, especially on a significant day, such as the nation's 52nd birthday.

    However, most found his nonchalant attitude and penchant for being a badass to be rather hilarious - and why not, when everyone seems to be in high spirits after a successful National Day Parade.

    Photo: Internet

    Although his identity has not been established (it really doesn't matter, does it?), a photo circulating on the internet seems to show him getting a dressing down by an adult, whom some are assuming is the boy's teacher. 

    Let's hope he didn't get scolded too badly. Because some of us would probably want to thank the boy for adding a bit of humour to the yearly event.

    Now, let the memes ensue.

    klim@sph.com.sg

     
    Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 23:36
    Boy who made rude gesture on TV during NDP is 'deeply apologetic'
    Original

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    Police have arrested a 66-year-old man who is suspected to be involved in multiple cases of employment scams. 

    According to police reports made between March and May, the suspect would promise victims that he could assist with work visa applications to Australia. However, after collecting deposits from victims, he failed to deliver on the promises and became uncontactable.

    Preliminary investigations revealed that he might have collected about $30,000 in total. After establishing his identity, the suspect was arrested on Tuesday (Aug 8).

    Investigations against the suspect are in progress.  

    Anyone found guilty of cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code may be punished with an imprisonment term of up to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

    Police would like to advise the public to be wary of such scams and to verify the credentials of any prospective agents with the relevant authorities
    before proceeding with the applications and making payment.

    a1admin@sph.com.sg

    Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 09:44

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    HONG KONG - China is worried it could face fresh criticism over its actions in the South China Sea when Singapore becomes chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations next year, and is putting pressure on the city-state to make sure that doesn't happen, according to people familiar with the situation.

    They say that Chinese representatives have told Singapore counterparts in private meetings over recent months that they don't want trouble for Beijing when Singapore takes over the annual leadership of the 10-nation group in 2018.

    Diplomats say they believe that Beijing has used its influence over countries who have chaired ASEAN in the past to dilute the group's stand on the South China Sea row, potentially one of the most volatile disputes in Asia.

    The current chairman is the Philippines, which hosted the group's foreign ministers last weekend. ASEAN failed to issue its customary statement on Saturday because of what diplomats said was disagreement about whether to make oblique references to China's rapid expansion of its defence capabilities on artificial islands in disputed waters. The statement was finally issued on Sunday.

    A Beijing-based Asian diplomat familiar with the situation said there are concerns that Singapore could use the ASEAN chairman position to try to "internationalise" the South China Sea issue, when China wants it limited to the countries directly involved.

    "China thinks Singapore, as a Chinese-majority nation, should listen a bit more to Beijing," the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

    "Beijing has made it very clear to Singapore what it expects on the South China Sea issue," said another Asian diplomat in Hong Kong who is familiar with the situation.

    Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment for this story.

    In a statement sent to Reuters, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China supported Singapore's work and "believes Singapore will lead ASEAN to work with China to promote the raising and upgrading of practical cooperation...and build an even closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny".

    Singapore is not a claimant to any disputed part of the South China Sea but is home to the biggest port in Southeast Asia, and has made clear its open economy depends on continued free navigation in the area.

    China claims almost the entire sea, which includes one of the world's most busy trade routes and sits stop valuable oil and gas reserves. Taiwan and four ASEAN states - the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia - have overlapping claims.

    The United States says it does not have a position on the South China Sea dispute but will assert freedom of navigation rights in the waterway.

    BACK ON TRACK

    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan during a meeting in Manila on Sunday that ties had come back on track of late.

        "Relations between China and Singapore have experienced ups and downs. But close exchanges between the two countries' leaders recently have enhanced mutual trust, which is essential to healthy bilateral relations between China and Singapore," Wang said, according to China's foreign ministry.

    Balakrishnan said the tone of his meeting with Wang was positive, Singapore media reported.

    The worry for China is that Singapore has long-standing defence relationships with the United States and its allies, although the city-state says it is equally friendly with Beijing.

    China is Singapore's largest trading partner, and Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor.

    The United States and Singapore announced an enhanced defence relationship in late 2015, which included deployments of long range P-8 surveillance planes out of Singapore - aircraft which freqently track Chinese submarines.

    Singapore also has some ties with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province.

    Tensions between the two countries burst into the open last November when Hong Kong port authorities impounded nine Singaporean armoured military vehicles being shipped home from training grounds in Taiwan. Hong Kong released the vehicles earlier this year amid rare open debates in both Singapore and China about a deteriorating relationship.

    The Global Times, an influential state-run Chinese tabloid, said in June that the once "special relationship" between the two nations was fading away amid mistrust over the South China Sea.

     
    Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 09:46
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    PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara has hit out at the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in Singapore after the bourses introduced the trading of ringgit futures on their exchanges that went against the country's policies.

    Saying the introduction of the derivative contracts was inconsistent with Malaysia's foreign exchange administration (FEA) policy and rules, the central bank reminded all market participants to observe existing FEA rules.

    "Contravention of the FEA is an offence under the Financial Services Act 2013 and Islamic Financial Services Act 2013," it said in a statement yesterday.

    "Appropriate action under the law will be taken against any person that does not comply with prevailing rules and regulations.

    "Foreign participants should access the onshore ringgit foreign-exchange market to meet their financial needs, either directly with onshore licenced financial institutions or their appointed overseas office."

    The ringgit is a non-internationalised currency, and thus, Bank Negara said the offshore trading of the ringgit in any form, whether as a non-deliverable forward (NDF) traded out of offshore financial centres or as a futures, options and other derivative contracts on exchanges outside of Malaysia, is against Malaysia's policy.

    Bank Negara has taken great effort to restrict the trading of the ringgit offshore. It decided to act in December last year against the offshore NDF market after seeing how the onshore rates were taking their cue from abroad on what the ringgit's value against the US dollar should be.

    Its action stemmed from the fact that much of the trading offshore in the NDF market was speculative and had a huge influence on the ringgit's value against the US dollar.

    At Invest Malaysia recently, Bank Negara governor Datuk Seri Muhammad Ibrahim said 80 per cent of transactions of ringgit/dollar trading in offshore markets were speculative transactions.

    Malaysia has long maintained that the trading of the ringgit should be tied to trade-related activity. "We cannot afford to have the exchange rate dictated by others," he told an audience at Invest Malaysia in July.

    In quashing the influence of the NDF market, Bank Negara directed local and foreign banks dealing in ringgit to refrain from dealing in ringgit in the settlement for trades done in the NDF market abroad, and imposed a requirement for exporters to convert at least 75 per cent of their export proceeds to ringgit.

    The Financial Markets Committee in June said that in 2017, six additional non-resident banks have attested against the offering or trading of ringgit NDF in the offshore market, with a total of 22 institutions attested since November 2016. It said Bank Negara would continue to seek wider compliance to the non-facilitation rule from offshore financial market players.

    Moves to slowly neutralise the NDF market were key in shoring up the value of the ringgit, and in time, Bank Negara saw more trades being done onshore as it moved to deepen the ringgit trading market in Malaysia.

    It is not surprising that Bank Negara has issued a strongly worded statement against the introduction of new ringgit futures markets in the two bourses in Singapore, given the length and effort it took to draw in trade of the ringgit onshore from offshore markets.

    Open interest and trading volume of the ringgit derivative contract on the SGX market appears to be small after the product was launched last month. But Bank Negara has been trying to stop the introduction of the ringgit futures contract on SGX for the past few months.

    Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/08/10/bank-negara-hits-out-at-sgx-and-ice/#Uq0HReDRWCuuqMvS.99

    Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 11:39

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    For the seventh year running, Universal Studios Singapore's (USS) Halloween Horror Nights is back to terrify Singaporeans and thrill-seekers all over once again.

    The month-long Halloween special happening on Sep 29 till Oct 29 will include the usual haunted houses and scare zones, but there's an all-new experience to look forward to: Zombie laser tag.

    That's right, the organisers have upped the ante by incorporating modern technology into their scare tactics.

    The live-action zombie experience will make use of brainwave technology and select participants will wear headbands that sense concentration levels to help unlock clues in their quest, said USS in a statement. Guests will have to upgrade their tickets at $38 each to have a go at fending off zombies.

    Photo: Resorts World Sentosa

    As the event comes to its seventh edition, the scare fest is themed after seven new incarnations of deadly sins present in our modern society: Cruelty, Deception, Malice, Manipulation, Narcissism, Perversion and Obsession.

    Said senior vice president of attractions at Resorts World Sentosa, Jason Horkin: "This year's theme is among the most disturbing ones, drawing upon seven new incarnations of deadly sins to reflect the zeitgeist of today's society where people are preoccupied with individualism, beauty and power."

    He added that Halloween Horror Nights 7 is the "most technologically advanced edition" yet.

    There will be a total of five haunted houses, two scare zones, and two all-new shows at this year's event.

    Headlining the haunted houses is the Death Mall, an abandoned building that suffered a structural failure and is now home to malicious ghosts.

    Photo: Resorts World Sentosa

    One of the new killer shows, Laboratorium, exposes the deception of plague doctors who treat humans as test subjects to find cures during the Black Death, and it features death-defying stunts performed by international acts.

    In addition, many of the park's rides and attractions will stay open for guests to to enjoy (and continue screaming themselves hoarse) till late.

    Photo: Resorts World Sentosa

    Halloween Horror Nights 7 starts at 7.30pm and runs for 14 select nights across five weekends. As part of an early bird promotion available now till Sep 5, guests can purchase tickets at $55 each, or purchase three tickets to enjoy one free.

    A standard event ticket costs $68. Tickets are available online and at Universal Studios Singapore ticket booths.

    So if you've always wanted to be chased by flesh-eating zombies from just about every corner, you might want to make a date with the ghouls of USS this year.

    Be afraid, be very afraid as USS Halloween Horror Nights is back for 7th year running

    ssandrea@sph.com.sg

    Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 13:00
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    Are Singaporeans afraid of 'losing face' if they lose their jobs?

    The results of a recent survey seemed to suggest this, especially with mature workers.

    Worried about the prevailing economic uncertainty, more than half of Singaporeans said they were willing to accept a pay cut or even a demotion to stay employed.

    The study revealed a significant 61 per cent of Singaporeans were ready to make such adjustments compared to the global average of 43 per cent.

    The Randstad's latest Workmonitor Research for the second quarter of this year also showed that more senior workers in their mid-30s and above (6 in 10) were willing to do that compared to their younger counterparts (5 in 10).

    THE 'FACE' FACTOR

    Its research, which also analysed Malaysia and Hong Kong, showed their residents were a little less worried than Singaporeans.

    Although fewer than 5 in 10 of Malaysians and Hong Kong residents were prepared to make such sacrifices, their figures were still higher than the global average.

    Overall, older workers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia were more willing to accept a decrease or demotion than younger employees to stay in the job.

    But the global trend showed the reverse, with younger employees being more receptive than senior employees to the idea of getting a smaller pay check.

    Mr Michael Smith, the managing director for Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, said in a press statement: "It's interesting to note the higher willingness of employees in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia than that of the global average to take a demotion or salary decrease.

    "We expect this falls down to a mix of the recent global economic sluggishness and the fear of staying unemployed, coupled with traditional mindsets where losing a job would result in 'losing face'."

    chenj@sph.com.sg

    Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 17:22
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