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    When the government warns us that we're soon going to pay more for something, you can bet it'll happen. Recently, PM Lee said in no uncertain terms that raising taxes is inevitable as the government's spending needs increase.

    Most people grudgingly accept that, given the aging population and the need to maintain and improve our current infrastructure, more tax money must be collected. But the big question is, where is this money is going to come from?

    Are the rich going to bear the burden of the tax hike, or will middle income Singaporeans get squeezed even more?

    There's been a lot of speculation about where the money is coming from. Here are our top guesses.

    GST

    The hot favourite candidate for the impending tax hike is the GST, as it has not been raised since 2007. The current GST rate is 7 per cent.

    While some might argue that the rich spend more money on GST-chargeable goods and services than the poor, a GST hike would actually affect lower and middle income earners more. That's because a low income earner is likely to spend a larger proportion of his income on GST-chargeable goods and services than a rich person.

    The government's GST vouchers are meant to address this problem, but this isn't a perfect solution. GST voucher amounts are determined according to the annual value of your home. So if you are a low income earner who happens to be living in a property with an annual value above the limit (eg. because it is owned by your parent or guardian, or because you are renting a room in one), you could get nothing.

    How to deal: You are charged GST when you pay for goods and services provided by GST-registered businesses. But even businesses that are not GST-registered will hike up their prices, since their costs are likely to rise. That also means that by controlling your spending and budgeting strictly, you stand to save even more. If there are things you habitually pay for in other countries (e.g. contact lenses in Malaysia, clothes in Thailand), you could benefit even more by doing so now. The same applies to online shopping, but only if the government doesn't start taxing online purchases. Which brings us to…

    ONLINE SHOPPING

    Unfortunately, another likely candidate for taxes is online shopping. Right now, you're only obliged to pay GST if the value of your goods in a single shipment costs $400 and above.

    But the government appears to be studying ways to tax e-commerce further. This could come in the form of blanket GST being imposed on all purchases regardless of value. But it could also come in the form of a separate tax to be applied to all goods and services being sold online to Singapore consumers.

    The worst thing is that you don't need to be receiving an actual parcel in the mail to be taxed in this way. You could also be taxed on digital services like e-book downloads or mobile apps.

    How to deal: The online stores which you usually patronise because their products are cheaper than local retailers' may no longer offer as good a deal. So make sure you comparison shop to check that the things you routinely buy online are still worthwhile. Making sure you at least benefit with a good online shopping credit card might become significantly more important now as well.

    INCOME TAX

    Singapore's income taxes are famously low. It's possible they'll go up by a bit in order to raise tax revenue, but the government will still want to keep them relatively low for fear that all the rich people will up and leave.

    The real question here is which tax brackets will be affected most. It is also possible that the tax brackets themselves will be adjusted so that some people get bumped up into a higher bracket.

    How to deal: It is unlikely the government will raise income tax to the point where it becomes worthwhile to work less just so you fall into a lower tax bracket. So just budget for higher annual tax expenditure if you are affected, and cut back in other spending areas to make room for it.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 15:23

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    Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 15:37
    Mindef to invite 300 hackers to hack its Internet-connected systems
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    Stomp contributor Adrian was enjoying Axwell Λ Ingrosso's set at the ZoukOut music festival when suddenly a man passed out in front of him.

    "He dropped right in front of me," said the Stomp contributor.

    The incident happened towards the end of the duo's set at around 5am on Dec 10.

    Adrian told Stomp, "I was at the DBS booth enjoying the music when suddenly there was a commotion."

    In the video, a man wearing a cap can be seen attending to the unconscious man and was holding him up using his hands. A crowd had also surrounded the unconscious man.

    The Stomp contributor had heard someone call the unconscious man 'Edmund'. The man wearing the cap, together with Edmund's friends helped to carry Edmund and set him down at the booth.

    "Apparently, he was not responding and his group of friends started shouting his name and crying. They thought he was dead," said the Stomp contributor.

    Water was poured on his head. His leg was also shaking uncontrollably, according to the Stomp contributor.

    He added that the man wearing the cap who had helped the unconscious man was apparently a medic.

    The man assessed that Edmund was not breathing properly and that he had a weak pulse.

    The unconscious man was later carried to the medical booth by St John's ambulance officers.

    Hailing him as a hero, the Stomp contributor added that the man 'never left Edmund's side and kept talking to him to make sure Edmund responded to him.'

    In a statement, Zouk told Stomp, "We've checked with our security team and confirmed the man in question passed out. He was then brought to the Sapphire Hall by the medic on station."

    "Upon further investigation and checks by the medic, we confirmed that he was extremely drunk and passed out."

    Zouk added that there were no signs of drug usage.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 09:52

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    <iframe width=100% height="450" src='http://players.brightcove.net/4802324446001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5676767557001' allowfullscreen frameborder=0></iframe>

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    A bus full of 'tourists' turned out to be plainclothes officers who conducted a surprise raid in the alleys of Geylang, nabbing more than 10 people in the operation.

    The incident happened in an alley between Lorong 14 Geylang and Lorong 16 Geylang on Sunday (Dec 10) at 9.30pm, reports Lianhe Wanbao.

    It is understood that there are many illegal stalls operating along the stretch and patrons would gather there to gamble.

    A witness, Mr Liang, said that he was passing by when he saw more than 10 people walking to Lorong 14 Geylang.

    He thought nothing of it, and subsequently spotted a tour bus which seemed to be ferrying some tourists.

    Over 10 of these 'tourists' alighted suddenly and ran into the alley.

    The other group which he had spotted earlier also suddenly ran towards the alley.

    According to Mr Liang, the atmosphere was charged, and he heard several people shouting.

    It was then he realised that there was a raid, and the 'tourists' were actually plainclothes officers.

    The two groups of officers surrounded the alley, even as stall operators and patrons attempted to flee.

    Mr Liang said:

    "It was very tense.

    "There were people running, and people chasing after them as well.

    "I saw over 10 people arrested by the police.

    "They were ordered to squat on the ground, handcuffed and led away."

    Mr Liang, who said that he is familiar with Geylang, added that he has seen the police conducting raids in Geylang but this is the first time he has seen them arriving on a tour bus.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 10:50

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    After remaining silent since news broke about the closure and rebranding of frozen yogurt chain llao llao, the company behind the popular dessert finally issued a statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday night (Dec 12).

    And yes, you've guessed it - llaollao will be "doing a Gong Cha"

    In the post, llaollao Singapore said it will be returning, after closing 29 establishments in Singapore last week.

    Operations were ceased on Dec 7 by master franchisee D+1 Holding. All outlets were rebranded and replaced with another yogurt brand, Yole.

    In the post, llaollao Singapore announced that they are "far from finished in Singapore" and are working to keep the froyo in the country. It added that they will be back with new stores soon.

    on Facebook

    We would like to clarify some aspects that many of you will be by now wondering about. The company with which we have...

    Posted by llaollao Singapore on Tuesday, 12 December 2017

    llao llao Singapore also emphasised that they have "absolutely nothing to do with Yole Frozen Yogurt".

    "It is a totally new brand in the frozen yogurt market that does not exist in Europe, even though it has been advertised as such. 

    "The product that is served in the establishments, since Dec 7, has nothing to do with us, llaollao, with our official network of suppliers or with our quality systems," the post read.

    Originating from Spain, llaollao opened in Singapore four years ago to much fanfare. Their photogenic dessert creations were a hit and very soon, long lines started forming at its outlets across the island. It also opened the world's largest outlet at Suntec City in August 2015. 

    Although the long queues at llaollao outlets have since stopped before its closure early this month, we might see overnight queues again once it returns. 

    Deja vu much? 

    klim@sph.com.sg

    Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:11

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    Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 16:11
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    Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 10:03
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    Couple Reuben Chow and Cindy Lim became parents to a baby girl in the back seat of Grab driver Mohammad Fazli Bin Omar's Toyota Altis on Nov 21 at 2.42am.

    Fazli did not expect the ride to Mount Alvernia Hospital to end with three passengers on board.

    "I booked a GrabCar as my wife wasn't having any regular contractions at that point, and based on our experience with our first two children, the entire labour process typically takes a couple of hours," said Reuben.

    "However, just before we left the house, my wife's contractions intensified and escalated very quickly. We took some time and effort to even get into the car and, barely a minute or two into the ride, my wife said that the baby was arriving!

    "We had to improvise on the spot and it was such a relief to hear the baby's first cry.

    "Our home is only a 5 to 7-minute drive to the hospital so you can imagine how quickly everything unfolded."

    Understandably, Fazli was shocked but he managed to compose himself to get the family to the hospital safe and sound.

    "I was definitely shocked when I noticed that Mdm Cindy Lim was in labour -- I have never been in such a situation while being on the job! I did my best to stay calm and focused on driving them safely to the hospital. Thankfully, it was a short drive and the night traffic was smooth," said Fazli.

    When they arrived at the hospital, Cindy and the newborn were brought into the emergency room after Fazli alerted staff to the situation.

    Reuben even offered to help Fazli clean up his car before they parted ways.

    "We are grateful that Mohammad Fazli waited patiently for us at the pick-up point and did not reject us after he realised what was going on. He was generally also very calm and nice about the whole situation," Reuben added.

    To celebrate the birth of Elora-Fae Chow, Singapore's second GrabCar baby, Grab organised a reunion for the passengers and driver-partner at its office in Midview City on 13 December.

    Andrew Chan, Head of GrabCar Singapore, presented Reuben and Cindy with a Grab voucher worth $8,000, and a special Grab onesie for baby Elora-Fae. Grab also awarded Mr Mohammad Fazli with fuel vouchers worth $800 for his 5-star service, and a hand-drawn thank you card from Reuben and Cindy's 5-year-old daughter, Sarah-Ann.

    Hand-drawn thank you cards from Reuben and Cindy's 5-year-old daughter, Sarah-AnnPhoto: Stomp
    Hand-drawn thank you cards from Reuben and Cindy's 5-year-old daughter, Sarah-AnnPhoto: Stomp

     

    "We couldn't have been more proud of our driver-partner, Fazli, who remained calm and brought both the parents and baby safely to the hospital. Our heartiest congratulations to Reuben and Cindy and the latest addition to their family, we're really glad to be part of this joyous occasion!" said Andrew Chan.

    This is the second baby to be born in a GrabCar. On Aug 12, a woman gave birth to a baby boy while travelling on the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

    Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 11:08
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    A 52-year-old man, Low Buay Huat, claimed that he became a loan shark to pay off gambling debts owed by his wife.

    Among his customers were taxi drivers, pimps and even contractors. Low charged them interest as high as 28 per cent every month.

    He was subsequently arrested on Jan 17, 2017, reported Shin Min Daily News.

    Low was sentenced to 33 months' jail and fined $400,000 on Monday (Dec 11).

    He faced a total of 38 charges and pleaded guilty to 10 of them under the Moneylenders Act, and one count of failing to submit to the Official Receiver a statement of affairs of HTR Technologies while he was a director of the company.

    Court documents revealed that Low and a co-accused, Seah Han Leng, 45, were drinking at Orchard Towers when a friend, Mark, told them that he knew a lot of pimps and taxi drivers operating near the Orchard Road building who were always in need of money.

    Low and Seah thus decided to start an illegal moneylending service, each raising $10,000 for their 'enterprise'.

    For every $1,000 Low loaned out, he would charge an additional $10 every day until the debtor paid off his debts.

    The business grew, and a friend introduced a contractor as a potential client and Low increased his investments to $70,000.

    From the sum, he loaned $30,000 to a taxi driver and a pimp, while the remaining $40,000 was loaned to a contractor.

    During the time of his arrest, Low was providing loans to over 21 individuals, with over $177,500 loaned out.

    He was collecting between 20 and 28 per cent interest every month.

    During his mitigation plea, Low's lawyer said that his client's wife was a gambling addict and Low was compelled to become an illegal moneylender so he could pay off her debts.

    Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 11:18

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    A resident in Marine Parade had complained of weird noises coming from a flat in Marine Parade.

    MP for Marine Parade GRC Mr Tan Chuan Jin shared this in a Facebook post on Dec 12.

    on Facebook

    From time to time, we encounter issues that may be beyond an MP’s ability. And I mean waaaaay beyond. House visit this...

    Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday, 12 December 2017

    He had a house visit that evening and a resident had given feedback about chairs dragging on the floor in the flat above.

    Initially, he thought it was 'another neighbourly dispute' but later found out that the owner had passed on and the flat was unoccupied.

    He cited this as an example of how MPs may encounter issues that are 'way beyond their abilities'.

    Facebook user Tsui Kyit also shared a similar experience.

    "When I got pregnant, I always heard the strangle audible noises like door slamming, marbles dropping, sudden drop of things from 11pm onwards for consecutive nights, for many months," wrote the Facebook user.

    She then decided to tell the kids to refrain from playing marbles, however, when she reached the flat upstairs she found that the flat was empty.

    Tsui also added, "After the birth of my baby, "someone" always played with my baby's toys after midnight that we had to take out batteries or switch it off the sounds."

    This continued on for years until one day she saw the shadow of the supernatural figure. She eventually moved out, believing that her flat was 'unclean'.

    Tan Chuan Jin replied to the comment, saying, "Marbles seem a recurrent theme. Some of explained it to be from the pipes...pressure and some such natural occurrences... (sic)"

    Another Facebook user quipped that he should use his Speaker's Seal to 'chase the beings away'.

    Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 17:33

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    Christmas is just around the corner and homeowners are getting into the spirit as they deck their halls with festive trimmings. BTWeekend takes a peek into four homes which put a personal stamp on their holiday decor.

    If you're looking for something other than turkey and ham, why not go back in time and enjoy traditional Christmas dishes with a taste of nostalgia? We track down chefs and restaurants which are serving old school heritage favourites from all over the world.

    Also in the magazine, we talk to two luminaries in the arts field, namely the renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle, as well as the emerging contemporary artist Ruben Pang. And for watch-lovers who can't wait for Christmas, we bring you a line-up of limited edition timepieces to whet your appetite.

    Shopping for the festivities? Perhaps there's no better time than now to start thinking about consumerism, how to cut waste and shop sustainably. The rise of responsible consumerism is on the table for Brunch this week, in the main paper.

    'Tis the season once again for the great irony known as the annual office party; a time where everyone is encouraged to let their hair down and not talk shop, and yet there is no shortage of reminders everywhere - your boss's face, for example - that it is, after all, a work event. In Cubicle Files, we look at why attending the annual office party is not optional.

    Sass & The City, meanwhile, examines the concept of charity, and why we should give because we can.

    The Finish Line looks back on an action-packed year in sports. And in The Steering Column, a car that looks like a premium car and feels like a premium car, but it's Kia. Can a facelift for the Sorento finally get buyers here to overcome their badge snobbery?

    To subscribe, visit btsub.sg/weekend

    Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:30
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    A suspect for a series of high-rise littering cases, 20-year-old Danial Ali Liaqat Ali, was brought back to the scene of the crime yesterday morning (Dec 14) at around 9.30am.

    This comes after Danial was arrested on Tuesday afternoon (Dec 12) for allegedly hurling items off Block 52, Cassia Crescent.

    The items tossed included a can of sardines, locks, marbles, a chair, and a mahjong table among other things, reported Shin Min Daily News.

    He was charged in court with one count of committing a rash act on Wednesday (Dec 13) for tossing a can of sardines from the living room of his unit on the 16th floor.

    The court also noted that he may be involved in several other similar cases.

    As Daniel was escorted back to the scene by officers yesterday, he kept his head low and cried the whole time.


    Photo: Lianhe Zaobao

    Reporters also observed that Daniel moved unsteadily, and started crying as soon as he stepped out of the patrol vehicle.

    He was first brought back to his home, where he is alleged to have tossed a can of sardines from.

    After stopping in the unit for around 10 minutes, he was then brought around the corridors on the same level and subsequently the 13th floor, where officers questioned him.

    It is believed that he had tossed items from both the corridors.

    During the process, Daniel also pointed at a playground at the foot of the block, where it is believed that the mahjong table had landed.

    Friday, December 15, 2017 - 14:52

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