Friday, 20 April 2018

Singapore's 23 key industries to be grouped into 6 clusters as economy begins next phase of transformation: Heng Swee Keat

Six industry clusters to drive economic transformation
Heng outlines plan to position Singapore as key node for technology, innovation and enterprise
By Chia Yan Min, Economics Correspondent, The Straits Times, 19 Apr 2018

The next phase of Singapore's economic transformation will involve deepening linkages between complementary industries by grouping them into clusters, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The aim is to position Singapore as a key node for technology, innovation and enterprise in Asia and around the world.

The latest move comes after the Government rolled out 23 sector-specific road maps for transforming key industries, called Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs). A total of 23 road maps covering 80 per cent of the Singapore economy have been launched.


These sectors will now be grouped into six clusters to maximise opportunities for collaboration, Mr Heng said at a media briefing yesterday.

The six clusters - each helmed by a minister and at least one private-sector or union representative - will be unveiling plans in the coming months to promote innovation and encourage partnerships within these sectors.

The clusters are: manufacturing, built environment, trade and connectivity, essential domestic services, modern services and lifestyle.

Such an approach will help bring diverse capabilities together, said Mr Heng. For example, in the lifestyle cluster, there is scope to explore how firms in hotel services and food services can work together to bring major events and conferences to Singapore, as well as improve experiences for tourists.

Citing hawker centres as an example, he added: "In a hawker centre, stalls sell different food and are competing but at the same time they are cooperating - people know that hawker centres will always have a great variety of good food.

"This is what I hope Singapore companies can also do. Everyone is good at something, and together we can build a reputation as the best 'hawker centre' in town."

The aim is to cement the Republic's position as a "global Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise", said the minister.

This means making innovation pervasive, building deep capabilities in companies and among workers, as well as developing strong partnerships locally and around the world.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

New Singapore jobs portal MyCareersFuture.sg uses technology to better match jobseekers and employers

By Joanna Seow, Manpower Correspondent, The Straits Times, 17 Apr 2018

A high-tech national jobs portal was launched on Tuesday (April 17) to better match local jobseekers with employers.

It can prioritise search results according to the relevance of a jobseeker's skills, and filter results to show those under government schemes that support training, among other key features.

The new portal, called MyCareersFuture.sg, is developed by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).

It replaces the interface of the existing Jobs Bank for users, and WSG said it aims to roll out the function for employers to post jobs by the end of this year.

For now, employers will still post jobs on Jobs Bank, and the posts will be shown on MyCareersFuture.sg

A pilot run of the new portal was conducted with 100 users in the last three months of 2017, and the site went live in January this year. It has received 280,000 visitors as of the first week of April.

Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo told reporters on Tuesday that the portal is aimed at providing jobseekers a “smarter and faster way” to find the right opportunities in the next phase of their careers.

“Today, some jobseekers send out many resumes, not knowing whether there is a good job fit and whether they have the skills employers are looking for. Employers also have a similar problem – they have to sieve through a lot of CVs (curricula vitae), and sometimes it is hit and miss, they may not find who they are looking for,” she said at Suntec City mall, on the sidelines of a roadshow on government job schemes

The portal is timely because new jobs keep coming up and the skill profiles of jobs are changing very quickly, said Mrs Teo. She added that with the portal showing the level of skill relevance to jobs, even those who are currently working can see areas where they can enhance their skills.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

It's not just America: Zuckerberg has to answer for Facebook's actions around world

By Karen Attiah, Published The Straits Times, 13 Apr 2018

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in the hot seat in Washington. The social media platform now admits that the data of up to 87 million profiles may have been improperly used by data firm Cambridge Analytica. US lawmakers are demanding answers - and rightfully so.

But while Facebook is facing the most heat in the United States, it is a multinational corporation and, some would argue, a sort of nation-state unto itself.

In many countries around the world, Facebook is the Internet. And with little ability to influence how the social media site operates, such nations are vulnerable to any policy action - or inaction - the company decides to take.



So while Mr Zuckerberg struggles to answer for how his company is affecting Americans, let's not forget that he has a lot more to answer for.

ELECTION INTERFERENCE

Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal is truly global in scope, with countries in almost every continent affected by the data breach.

In Britain, law enforcement officials raided the offices of Cambridge Analytica and have opened an investigation into Facebook after news of the leak broke. Former Cambridge Analytica data scientist and whistle-blower Christopher Wylie testified before British lawmakers last month (Mr Zuckerberg declined a request to appear before Parliament). Mr Wylie alleged the social data Cambridge Analytica improperly collected was used by the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum.



Lawyers from Britain and the United States have now filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, arguing that the data breach "effectively abused the human right to privacy" and "undermined the democratic process".

But the damage is also palpable in developing democracies, where ethnic tensions remain some of the most potent political issues. In India, where Cambridge Analytica may have improperly accessed the data of over half a million Facebook users, politicians from both of the major parties have accused the other side of using the data for campaign purposes.

Friday, 13 April 2018

St Andrew's Secondary hockey players lose match but win admiration for sportsmanship

St Andrew's Secondary hockey team requests umpire not to count a goal, earning opponents' respect for fair play
By Natalie Choy Ching Mun, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2018

The St Andrew's Secondary hockey team lost a match and a potential medal, but won widespread respect following an act of sportsmanship.

During the Schools National B Division boys' bronze-medal play-off on March 29, the score was tied at 1-1 in the third quarter of the game when Northland Secondary's Muhammad Raihan Adris went down with a sprained ankle.

After a time-out, the umpire blew the whistle to resume play. The Saints defenders threw the ball to the other side of the pitch for their opponents to start, but a miscommunication saw one of their forwards taking the ball and scoring a goal, giving them a 2-1 lead.

The Saints then requested that the umpire overturn the goal when they realised the ball should have been in Northland's possession and their opponents were not ready.

The score reverted to 1-1 and remained unchanged until the end of regulation, resulting in a penalty shoot-out which Northland went on to win 4-3, taking the bronze.

"It wasn't the right thing to do, to let the goal be counted, because it wasn't fair. We scored even though it was supposed to be their ball," captain and centre-back Sean See, who made the decision, told The Straits Times.

"It was too sudden. They (Northland) were caught off guard, they weren't ready. So I asked the umpire not to count the goal," added the Secondary 4 student, who said that his teammates supported his decision.

The Saints may not have won the match, but their act of sportsmanship earned them the respect of their opponents, who clapped and thanked them for playing fair.

The boys also won praise from umpire Miskarmalia Mohd Ariffin, who said she had "never seen anything like this" in her 12 years of umpiring.

"I was honestly very impressed by the boys. It shows that they have been really brought up well, by their parents, teachers and coaches," she said.

Foreign interference in Singapore politics: ACRA rejects company application from Thum Ping Tjin, Kirsten Han; says it has foreign funding links to George Soros

Purposes of proposed firm clearly political in nature: ACRA
It rejects company application, saying it has links to foreign funding from group with political agenda
By Joanna Seow, Manpower Correspondent, The Straits Times, 12 Apr 2018

An application by historian Thum Ping Tjin and freelance journalist Kirsten Han to register a company has been rejected on the grounds that the registration would be contrary to Singapore's national interests.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) said yesterday that the purposes of the proposed company, OSEA Pte Ltd, "are clearly political in nature".

OSEA Pte Ltd, it said, has links to foreign funding from a group led by billionaire George Soros, which was set up to pursue a political agenda the world over.

ACRA noted that OSEA was to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of a British-registered company called Observatory Southeast Asia (OSEA UK).

OSEA UK has received a grant of US$75,000 (S$98,000) from a Swiss charitable entity, Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), said ACRA.

FOSI is closely associated with Open Society Foundations (OSF), founded and led by Mr Soros, it added.

In a statement, the authority said that what happens in other jurisdictions is not the concern of the Singapore Government.

"OSF and FOSI, and other foreign philanthropies and groups, can fund whatever causes they like elsewhere," it said.

"In Singapore, however, our position is that none of them can be allowed to fund Singaporean organisations or individuals participating in our domestic politics. The registration of OSEA Pte Ltd would therefore be contrary to Singapore's national interests.


ACRA said an application was made to register OSEA Pte Ltd on Feb 8. Dr Thum - a research fellow and coordinator of Project Southeast Asia at the University of Oxford - was cited as its director and Ms Han its editor-in-chief.

Its proposed activities included organising discussion fora, workshops and other events in Singapore, such as "Democracy Classroom" sessions.

Another of its objectives was to provide editorial services to a website named New Naratif, which both are involved in.

ACRA said New Naratif has been publishing articles "critical of politics" in the region, such as articles claiming that certain governments are using violence to maintain political control, had manipulated events or framed them for political gain, and have "rigged" their electoral systems.

"The purposes of the proposed company are clearly political in nature," said ACRA.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

PM Lee Hsien Loong, Chinese President Xi Jinping express support for open global trading order at Boao Forum for Asia 2018

By Danson Cheong, China Correspondent, The Straits Times, 10 Apr 2018

BOAO, HAINAN - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping both expressed support for an open global trading order during their meeting on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia on Tuesday (April 10).

The rules-based multilateral trading system has benefited countries big and small.

The two leaders also agreed that any trade dispute should be resolved within the World Trade Organisation framework, said a statement by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Earlier on Tuesday, PM Lee delivered a speech at the Boao conference on trade tensions between China and the United States, and why China should uphold openness and multilateralism.

At the meeting with Mr Xi, the Chinese leader said he welcomed PM Lee's speech.

"PM Lee stressed that if unilateral and tit-for-tat actions escalated into trade wars, the multilateral trading system that had brought prosperity to other countries for decades would be severely undermined," said the PMO.

Both leaders reaffirmed the "special and forward-looking relationship between the two countries" based on the foundation laid by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

They also welcomed the success of the three government-to-government projects, namely, the Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.

Mr Xi mentioned his intention to elevate the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City to a state-level project, which was welcomed by PM Lee, said the PMO.

The two leaders reviewed the progress made under the various bilateral platforms, and said they looked forward to the conclusion of the Singapore-China Free Trade Agreement upgrade negotiations this year.

"They also welcomed the improved situation in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the steady progress made in the negotiation of the code of conduct," said the PMO.



PM Lee congratulated Mr Xi on the successful conclusion of China's 19th Party Congress last year and the recent "lianghui", or legislative meetings, which saw Mr Xi reappointed as President.

"You have set directions for China to play a constructive and stabilising role in the region and in the international system," PM Lee said, adding that Mr Xi has laid out a clear vision and long-term goals for China.

Mr Xi thanked PM Lee and said that since their last meeting in September, both countries have "consolidated their longstanding friendship".

"Your visit to China again and attendance at the Boao Forum demonstrates the importance you attach to China-Singapore relations," Mr Xi said. He added he was willing to work with PM Lee to exchange views on bilateral ties and common concerns.



In his opening remarks, PM Lee noted that with a fresh team of leaders at the helm in China, and with Singapore also in a period of leadership transition, this was a "timely meeting for us to take our partnership forward".

"I brought along several of my younger ministers, my younger colleagues, on the trip, in order to establish ties with their counterparts and be able to bring our relations further forward," he said.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Tackling the real issue of fake news

By Ang Yiying, The Straits Times, 9 Apr 2018

Discussions on how to combat fake news have surfaced in Parliaments in different countries, including Singapore in the last two years, as widely spread falsehoods have resulted in very real consequences.

For instance, the lead-up to Brexit, the shock result of a 2016 referendum in which Britain voted to leave the European Union, was seen to be rife with false claims from the "leave" camp, such as Britain sending the EU £350million (S$649 million) a week, or that Turkey would soon be admitted to the EU and many of its largely Muslim citizens would head to Britain. Last year, Britain started a probe into whether there had been Russian interference in the Brexit vote.

There has been concern too over whether fake news affected the outcome of the 2016 United States presidential election, which was won by property tycoon Donald Trump.



Q WHAT IS "FAKE NEWS"? ISN'T IT A CONTRADICTORY TERM?

A Fake news is an oxymoron because it is seemingly contradictory. After all, news is generally defined as information or reports of recent or previously unknown events, which means it has to be true.

However, the term has now entered popular lexicon - to the extent that Collins Dictionary named "fake news" its word of the year for 2017, saying that it saw an "unprecedented usage increase" of 365 per cent since 2016.

It did not elaborate on what contributed to the uptick in usage. But media outlets such as The Guardian have observed that US President Trump has helped popularise the term, and it has been increasingly used by other world leaders as well.

In a statement on its website, Collins defined fake news as "false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting".

Some academics and those who work in the media or related industries have pointed out that the use of the phrase "fake news" was problematic because it was imprecise.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Owners of older motorcycles will get up to $3,500 for de-registering bikes on or before 5 April 2023

Owners get incentives to deregister older, more pollutive motorcycles
NEA offering up to $3,500 over next 5 years in effort to cut emissions, improve air quality
By Ervin Tan, The Straits Times, 7 Apr 2018

Owners of older and more pollutive motorcycles are being offered up to $3,500 to deregister their vehicles over the next five years, an incentive from the National Environment Agency (NEA) to improve air quality.

NEA said yesterday that those who own motorcycles registered before July 1, 2003, are eligible for the incentive if their vehicles have a valid 10-year certificate of entitlement (COE) as of April 6 this year, and are deregistered on or before April 5, 2023.

Around 27,000 motorcycles are eligible, said the agency.

The incentive scheme does not apply to owners of motorcycles on the five-year non-renewable COE, or those on the Classic Vehicle, Vintage (Restricted) Vehicle and Revised Vintage Vehicle schemes as of April 6 this year.

Older motorcycles will also have to meet tighter in-use emission standards from April 6, 2023, and will no longer be allowed on the road from July 1, 2028, unless they are on the above schemes.

NEA said the latest incentive has two components, provided owners deregister their motorcycles on or before April 5, 2023.

An owner will receive $3,500 if the motorcycle's COE is not renewed on or after April 7 this year, while an owner will receive $2,000 if the motorcycle's COE is renewed on or after April 7 this year.

The owner will also get a rebate for the unused COE period, upon its deregistration, as part of the existing Preferential Additional Registration Fee and COE rebates when motorists deregister their vehicles before 10 years.

NEA said that the new incentives have been introduced to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and ozone released into the air, which are known to impair respiratory functions. Carbon monoxide is also known to be toxic at high concentrations.