Friday 30 June 2017

Guarding against a Grenfell-like fire disaster in Singapore

By Justin Ong, Channel NewsAsia, 28 Jun 2017

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Tuesday (Jun 27) said it maintains a high standard of fire safety for all buildings, but in the wake of a London inferno believed to have killed 79, experts suggested there could be room to make further enhancements.

The 24-storey Grenfell Tower was gutted by fire on Jun 14, with the residential block’s newly installed cladding - or facade coating - suspected to have aided in the blaze’s intensity and impact.

An SCDF spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia the number of fire fatalities per 100,000 population in Singapore is “among the lowest in the world”, backed by “strict” enforcement of a Fire Code - last reviewed in 2013 - to ensure the safety of occupants in buildings.

“The Fire Code mandates stringent fire safety standards for construction materials and cladding used in all buildings,” said SCDF. “Flammable materials are not allowed to be used as cladding, and construction materials must not allow fire to spread along the material’s surface when ignited.”

“These materials must also undergo testing by accredited laboratories to ensure product integrity and compliance.”

“Specifically for cladding materials, testing is required to be conducted annually,” added the emergency services provider.

SCDF also noted that registered architects and engineers are required to submit building plans to them for approval. The building works must be inspected and endorsed by a registered professional before occupancy.

While praising SCDF’s “detailed” regulations for building fire safety, Professor Richard Liew of the National University of Singapore’s civil and environmental engineering department noted that modern high-rise buildings are being built in more complex ways which introduce potential fire risks that need to be assessed.

“For example, the concave structure is currently typical of building facades in architectural design, but it increases the flame spread rate increases,” he explained. “In addition, window glass facades, as the weakest part of a building, may break easily when subject to a fire, significantly accelerating fire spread.”


When it comes to HDB buildings, every residential apartment is designed as a fire compartment to prevent the spread of fire to adjacent units, said SCDF.

“The fire-rated entrance door, walls and floors of each unit act as effective fire barriers. Common corridors, lift landings and staircases in HDB residential buildings are designed to have open ventilation for smoke dispersal. This is a key design feature of our fire safety measures.”

Thursday 29 June 2017

Harassment of pro- and anti-LGBT activists unacceptable: Shanmugam

Harassment over views on LGBT issues 'unacceptable': Shanmugam
Govt opposed to harassment of any group, whether for or against cause
By Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2017

While people will have strong views on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, the way to deal with it is through discussion and persuasion, not harassment.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam made this clear in a Facebook post yesterday evening, in which he said Oogachaga executive director Bryan Choong had told him that sponsors of Saturday's Pink Dot rally had been harassed.

Oogachaga is a counselling group for people in the LGBT community, while the Pink Dot rally is an annual event in support of the community.

"I told him that the Government is strongly opposed to any harassment of any group.

"The Protection from Harassment Act offers civil remedies to those harassed. And if the harassment crosses the line, and is criminal, then the Government will not hesitate to take action," said Mr Shanmugam.

"Subsequently, I met with other people, some of whom are opposed to LGBT lifestyles. They also raised with me the issue of harassment, this time, by LGBT groups against those who don't support the cause. I gave them the same answer: Harassment is not acceptable. If a line is crossed, action will be taken."

The conversation took place in Oogachaga's office in Chinatown, where Mr Choong also spoke on the group's work with those in the LGBT community affected by drug use.

Mr Shanmugam said some people have told him that young people working in foreign financial institutions are subject to a "great deal of pressure" to support the LGBT cause despite their personal beliefs. He said in his post that he had asked them for more details.

The minister also said that the Government's position on Pink Dot is that the rules of the Speakers' Corner allow for the event to be organised, and that should be respected.

"Likewise if anyone wanted to organise an event opposing the LGBT cause, they will have the right to do so, in Speakers' Corner," he said.

"The Government is neutral about the underlying causes. People have the right to organise for whatever cause they wish, as long as the Speakers' Corner rules are complied with."

During the conversation with Mr Choong, Mr Shanmugam explained the need for stricter security rules at the upcoming rally.

"In view of the current security climate, increased security measures are absolutely required," he said. "Any large public gathering, with high profile, will be an attractive target. Pink Dot will attract a large crowd and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events."

He added that similar requirements will be imposed at other events, including those held outside of Speakers' Corner.

2017 GST vouchers and Medisave top-ups for 1.57 million Singaporeans

$1.2 billion in GST vouchers, Medisave top-ups
By Lee Min Kok, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2017

Around 1.57 million eligible Singaporeans will be notified of their GST vouchers (GSTV) and Medisave top-ups for the year, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

This year's vouchers and top-ups will cost the Government $1.2 billion. About 1.37 million Singaporeans will get up to $500 in GSTV - which comprises up to $300 in August and a one-off special payment in November.

They are encouraged to update their payment mode to direct bank crediting at, as cheque payments take two weeks longer to process.

As for Medisave top-ups, some 450,000 Singaporeans aged 65 years and above are eligible to receive them. Each will get up to $450 in August. Pioneers will also receive their Pioneer Generation (PG) top-ups of $200 to $800 next month. In addition, Singaporeans born on or before Dec 31, 1959, and do not receive PG benefits will receive a Medisave top-up of up to $200 this year and next year.

The top-up this year is expected to benefit 520,000 Singaporeans and will be credited in August.

Households are also set to receive a permanent increase of between $40 and $120 to the annual U-Save rebate - given every three months to help offset utility bills directly - from next month. Following the increase, the rebate will cost about $265 million and benefit about 880,000 HDB households.

There is also an extension to the one-off service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebate. It will be raised by half a month across all flats. This means around 880,000 eligible HDB households will get 1.5 to 3.5 months of S&CC rebate this year, depending on flat type.

PayNow: Send cash with just recipient's mobile phone or identity card number from 10 July 2017

Go cashless with PayNow fund transfers from July 10
By Lee Xin En, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2017

Singapore made another step towards becoming a cashless society with a new fund transfer option that requires just a mobile phone number or NRIC number.

The PayNow system, which will start on July 10, will be offered by seven banks.

People who want to receive payments will have to link their mobile and NRIC numbers to their accounts, either on the bank's website or through its mobile app.

One bank account can be linked to one mobile number and one NRIC number, and the sender will be able to see the recipient's name before confirming the transfer.

The push towards innovation in payments will help address an issue highlighted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this year when he said that compared with other countries, Singapore could do more to promote cashless payments, in hawker centres, in shops and between people.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told the annual Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) dinner last night that a Payments Council led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will be set up. Its 18 representatives from banks, payment companies, industry associations and businesses will discuss payment strategies and promote solutions.

MAS is also reviewing the regulatory regime for payments, he said.

He added that the Government is looking into using PayNow to make payments directly to people's bank accounts using their NRIC numbers.

This would eliminate the need to "update each government agency one by one when we change banks. We will just need to link our new bank account to our NRIC via PayNow".

Graciousness Survey 2017

Singaporeans prefer privacy to mingling with neighbours: Poll
Lack of interest in interaction may be due to lack of time, says kindness movement's head
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2017

The kampung spirit in Singapore seems to need revitalising.

People here have been mixing less with their neighbours, with more indicating a need to maintain their privacy and putting less emphasis on greater neighbourliness.

These findings, released yesterday, are from the latest Graciousness Survey by the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), which tracks kindness and graciousness among residents.

In the face-to-face poll of 3,066 Singaporeans, permanent residents and non-residents, only 23 per cent said they exchanged greetings with their neighbours more than three times a week, down from 29 per cent in last year's survey. In terms of striking up a casual conversation, only 11 per cent did so more than three times a week, falling from 17 per cent last year.

And when asked if they wanted to have greater neighbourliness, 26 per cent said yes - lower than the 29 per cent in the previous year.

More than half said they think the "current situation is good enough now", 15 per cent said they preferred to maintain their privacy - up from 11 per cent last year - while the rest said it was unnecessary to socialise with neighbours.

SKM general secretary William Wan said people's lack of interest in interacting more with neighbours could be due to their lack of time.

"Surveys have shown that Singaporeans have longer working hours than others in the world.... by the time they go home, they have dinner, watch the news for a while, then it's time to go to bed. They're tired after a long day at work."

Dr Wan felt various government efforts to build neighbourly ties had succeeded, but "people are quite content with superficial relationships and have not considered the advantages of stronger bonds with neighbours".

Sunday 25 June 2017

38 Oxley Road: Symbol of the Singapore story

By Derwin Pereira, Published The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2017

Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was no ordinary Singaporean. His house is no ordinary house. These facts give Singaporeans a stake in its preservation, no matter how the tussle among his children ends.

As a citizen and former journalist who met him several times, the symbolic meaning of the house for me takes precedence over Mr Lee's own will. From a strictly legal perspective, the will says the last word on what should be done to 38, Oxley Road. But from a national perspective, the demolition of the house would represent a blow to a visual artefact that represents the nation's journey from Third World to First.

Singapore's political history literally was made there. The meetings in the basement, of anti-colonialists who would come to form the People's Action Party (PAP), laid the foundations of independent Singapore metaphorically.

Of course, the quest then was not for independence but for self-governance, and merger with Malaysia interceded between that period and eventual independence. However, the walls of 38, Oxley Road witnessed history in the making. The concrete habitation of that history cannot be demolished without injuring Singapore's self-awareness as a nation.

I have heard talk that the house possesses special properties which could help the future political prospects of Lee family members. Whether that is so or mere talk based on superstition is immaterial to someone like me. The pragmatic fact is that the public is unlikely to vote for someone merely because of his or her connection with a piece of property associated with Mr Lee.

A seemingly more credible view is that a museum set up in the house could brainwash the young into supporting the PAP when they come of political age. Museums and mausoleums in communist countries once served a comparable purpose vis-a-vis their regimes.

However, the notion of the house being turned into a propaganda centre belittles the political evolution of Singapore, the maturity of its citizenry and the moods of time. There is no guarantee that the PAP will last forever, and thus there is no need to invest the house with teleological significance that might be lost on future voters.

Instead, it is important to differentiate between the cultural or sentimental hold that it might exercise on members of the Lee family, and its importance to succeeding generations of Singaporeans.

For the latter, it would mark a milestone in the historical development of Singapore.

Mr Lee's house would not be the first to do so. The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall legitimately embodies the legacy of Dr Sun's revolutionary activities in South-east Asia, capturing both the impact of the 1911 Chinese Revolution on Singapore and Singapore's contributions to the dawning of modern Chinese political history.

No one would suggest that the memorial serves an ulterior ethnic purpose by glorifying Singapore's links with the ancestral land of its majority race. The memorial records for all Singaporeans the role which the period played in a history that belongs to all the races of Singapore today.

Similarly, the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hall commemorates the remarkable life and achievements of the leader of India's independence movement. It pays concrete tribute to a person whose ideas of non-violence became a motif of many other anti-colonial movements apart from India's. The centrality of non-violence came to demarcate the constitutional struggle for independence from its violent communist counterpart here in Singapore as well.

No one would argue that the memorial celebrates India's connection with Singapore at the expense of the city-state's relations with countries in North-east and South-east Asia.

Surely, if buildings associated with Dr Sun and Gandhi can belong to the shared heritage of Singaporeans, it would appear incomprehensible that Mr Lee's house should be viewed as a partisan structure. Surely, he had - and has - greater influence on the destiny and direction of Singapore than the other two luminaries, great though they are in their own right.

It is essential to reiterate here that the national value of 38, Oxley Road exceeds its private value to the Lee family. If the Government were to gazette it, it would be recognising that national significance, even if Mr Lee's wishes were to be overruled in the process.

The conservation of the house would do no more than honour Mr Lee's lifelong belief that the public interest should supersede private interests and desires - even when it comes to the man with whom Singapore is identified, even today.

I disagree that retaining the house would contribute to the creation of a political cult around Mr Lee. Were that to be the intention of those hoping to preserve it, a much better way of reminding Singaporeans of his lasting influence would be to rename Changi Airport after him. After all, Jakarta has the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, New Delhi the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New York the John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Washington DC the Ronald Reagan National Airport. Mr Lee's name would then preside over the millions of air departures and arrivals on which Singapore's economy depends heavily.

Instead of viewing 38, Oxley Road as a house around which to sustain the PAP's political legitimacy, it is important to see that building for what it is: a house that belongs not only to the Lee family, nor even to the PAP, but to the people of Singapore.

Let it last.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Racial stereotypes in media: Not just a bit of harmless fun

By Leonard Lim and Mathew Mathews, Published The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2017

Singapore, with its polyglot population living and working together peacefully for the past five decades, often strikes international visitors as an oasis of social harmony.

However, undercurrents of racism do surface from time to time. Insensitive remarks or actions based on stereotypes about a certain race may cause offence, and social media amplifies both the effect and reach of the offence and the grievances of those who feel victimised.

But these incidents also offer good opportunity for Singaporeans to have open and civil conversations on what constitutes racial discrimination, as there are sometimes no clear lines, and these shift over time as social mores evolve.

In some instances, the markers are quite clear. There was a strong backlash against "blackface", or the use of make-up by ethnic Chinese to impersonate a dark-skinned character, last year (on a Mediacorp television programme) and in 2012 (at a dinner and dance event).

Many, including Chinese Singaporeans, spoke out against what they regarded as appropriating someone else's ethnicity and treating it like entertainment. The authorities also imposed a financial penalty on Mediacorp for what was deemed racially insensitive content.

There is relatively strong consensus when it comes to employment practices, and this is probably shaped by fair-hiring legislation. About four in five respondents in last year's Channel NewsAsia - Institute of Policy Studies (CNA-IPS) survey on race relations deemed not hiring someone because of his or her race as racist (the make-up of the 2,000 surveyed reflects Singapore's racial composition).

But when it comes to poking fun at someone's race, especially through stereotypes, the picture does not seem so clear. This was displayed in the range of opinions that surfaced after a local Indian actor's recent post on Facebook. Mr Shrey Bhargava had expressed disappointment over how he was asked to adopt a thick Indian accent and "make it funny" during an Ah Boys To Men audition.

The CNA-IPS survey brought out similar sentiments. Compared to employment practices, there was relatively less consensus on whether making jokes about another race was racist.

About one in three said they would not consider this racist. In fact, 42 per cent of respondents reported that it was at least sometimes acceptable to make those jokes in the company of friends, although the proportion dropped to 23 per cent when the respondents were asked if it was acceptable to make such racist jokes in public.

Such "casual racism" may be more commonplace than we think. About 60 per cent of respondents (regardless of race) had heard racist comments.

Singapore wins Most Improved Jurisdiction award at Global Restructuring Review Awards 2017

London awards boost to Singapore's efforts to be global insolvency and restructuring hub
Republic lauded for efforts to help troubled firms
By K.C. Vijayan, Senior Law Correspondent, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2017

Singapore's efforts to be positioned as a major restructuring and insolvency hub received a boost in London on Wednesday when it was named the Most Improved Jurisdiction, fending off the likes of Germany, India and other nominees at an international awards event.

The inaugural award by the Global Restructuring Review (GRR) recognised recent ground-breaking legislative changes made by Singapore to its debt restructuring framework, resulting in a hybrid regime that incorporates the best features of the world's leading regimes, said the Law Ministry yesterday.

Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the recognition was significant because "we are positioning Singapore as a restructuring centre in Asia and it is the first time we have won these awards".

She added on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for Maxwell Chambers Suites: "In the past few years, we've seen many companies which have had difficulties. There's Swiber, there's Ezra, there's Hanjin Shipping. There's clearly a need in Asia for a place where such companies can be restructured, and Singapore has positioned itself to be such a place."

GRR is a daily information service providing cross-border insolvency and restructuring news, features and events.

Singapore also received the award for Most Important Overall Development, for the guidelines on cross-border insolvency matters that were drawn up and released by the Judicial Insolvency Network (JIN).

The JIN, made up of judges from 10 jurisdictions, including the Singapore Supreme Court, met in Singapore last year to discuss and draw up the guidelines.

Two Singapore High Court decisions were also nominated for Most Important Recognition Decision and Cross Border Cooperation in a Specific Insolvency or Restructuring Matter.

The inaugural GRR Awards celebrate the most important firms, cases and marketplace developments in cross-border restructuring and insolvency, said the ministry.

In awarding Singapore the Most Improved Jurisdiction prize, accepted by Justice Kannan Ramesh at the event, the organisers noted that the Republic had made changes to its Companies Act relating to restructuring and insolvency. It had also introduced refinements to its scheme of arrangement incorporating elements from abroad.

Friday 23 June 2017

Singapore Is Not An Island: Views on Singapore Foreign Policy by Bilahari Kausikan

Singaporeans urged to critically assess news they read
Be aware of how foreign media and agencies can manipulate public opinion: Diplomat
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 22 Jun 2017

Singaporeans need to be aware that the manipulation of public opinion has long been used as a tactic by many to pressure governments to change policies, said Ambassador-at-Large and former permanent secretary of foreign affairs Bilahari Kausikan.

For this reason, it is important that they critically evaluate the news they read and develop "clear, independent and balanced judgments", he told about 200 people yesterday at the launch of his book, Singapore Is Not An Island: Views On Singapore Foreign Policy.

Citing the flood of criticism in the Western media about United States President Donald Trump, he said it would lead one to conclude that nothing the US administration has done is right.

For instance, Mr Trump's reaffirmation of the "one China" policy was depicted as weakness though it has been a stance the US held since 1972, Mr Bilahari said at the event organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

And while acts like the pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership undermine American credibility, it is "factually incorrect to suggest nothing in Mr Trump's administration is right", he said.

For example, Mr Bilahari, 63, said it was correct for President Trump to deploy carrier strike groups to and near Korean waters in response to recent North Korean missile tests. Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama had adopted the policy of strategic patience - "a serious mistake that gave Pyongyang eight years to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities", he said.

These criticisms by the Western media and foreign policy establishments are often driven by their inability or unwillingness to come to terms with the election of Mr Trump, he said. Their motivations may be understandable "but are none of our business", he said.

"Rushing to judgment based on unprincipled acceptance of other people's assessments... may lead to wrong policy choices," he said.

Singapore as a small country has to work with all governments, he said, regardless of whether their policies suit its preferences.

Former foreign minister S. Jayakumar, who was the guest of honour at the book launch, urged Singaporeans to take a greater interest in foreign policy.

While people are often vocal about foreign policy, they are not always well informed and may sometimes become unwitting tools of other countries, he said.

There were also some who have fallen to the temptation of using foreign policy as a tool of partisan politics, he said.

"Not only must we be aware of national interests which lie at the heart of our foreign policy, but we must also not be blind to the fact that other countries will and have mounted rather clever and cunning tactics to influence various segments," he said.

He urged people to be wary of external influences that "don't have the best interests of Singapore at heart".

Thursday 22 June 2017

2 Singaporean auxiliary police officers arrested under ISA for terrorism-related offences in June 2017

One detained for planning to fight in Syria; friend on Restriction Order for supporting him
By Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent, The Straits Times, 21 Jun 2017

Two Singaporean auxiliary police officers have been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for their links to terrorism, in what is believed to be the first such case involving uniformed personnel.

Describing the arrests as "chilling", Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said: "These two were trusted to protect our society, but instead chose to endanger it."

The men were fellow AETOS officers at Woodlands Checkpoint when they were nabbed last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday.

Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 24, has since been detained for planning to travel to Syria to fight against the Syrian government, while Mohamad Rizal Wahid, 36, has been placed on a Restriction Order for supporting his plan.

When Khairul was arrested, his job as an outrider with traffic enforcement duties did not require him to be armed, the ministry said. The Straits Times understands, however, that he has had weapons training and has performed armed duties before.

News of the arrests comes one week after MHA revealed last Monday that Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, had become the first Singaporean woman to be detained for radicalism under the ISA. The infant care assistant planned to travel to Syria with her child to become a "martyr's widow", fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Like her, Khairul became radicalised after going online to gather information about the conflict in Syria. He started to do so in 2012.

"Khairul perceived the Syrian conflict to be a 'holy war' in which he was prepared to die in battle as a 'martyr' and receive divine rewards," MHA said. In 2014, he tried to contact a foreign militant and Free Syrian Army (FSA) supporters on Facebook.

At the point of his arrest, he was still interested in engaging in armed violence in Syria. The ministry said his readiness to resort to violence in pursuit of a religious cause makes him a security threat to Singapore.

Several of Khairul's relatives and friends knew of his intention to fight in Syria, but none of them came forward, said MHA.

His colleague Rizal was working as an armed officer conducting general security duties at the checkpoint when he was arrested.

He knew about Khairul's plan to travel to Syria to fight, the ministry said, but he "not only failed to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities or the AETOS management, he even suggested to Khairul various ways to get to Syria and die there as a 'martyr' ".

As an auxiliary police officer, he should have tried to dissuade Khairul and reported him to his superiors, MHA said. Rizal was placed on a Restriction Order that curtails his movements and activities. Both men are no longer with AETOS. Their last day of service was June 1.

The ministry said: "The Government takes a serious view of anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where the violence takes place. This is particularly so if the person involved is a public servant, and especially if he or she is a uniformed officer."

AETOS said it will seek to educate its staff on the risks of self-radicalisation and train its supervisors to spot the signs.

The ministry added: "We strongly urge the public not to let the cases of Khairul and Rizal detract from the good work of the wider pool of Muslim police officers, or affect their confidence in our police officers."

Wednesday 21 June 2017

New laws against fake news to be introduced in 2018: Shanmugam

Laws to tackle fake news likely out next year
By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 20 Jun 2017

New legislation to tackle fake news is in the works, and can be expected to be introduced next year.

The move, announced by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday, follows his parliamentary statement in April that current laws for dealing with such falsehoods are limited.

Singapore officials had been to Europe, visiting Germany and Britain, to study measures these countries have taken or are planning to take to counter fake news, he said.

Consultations with stakeholders on the pending laws will be held in the second half of this year, he added.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking at the start of a two-day conference on fake news, Keep It Real: Truth And Trust In The Media, organised by The Straits Times and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

Citing a survey of 1,617 Singapore residents conducted last month, he said that 91 per cent of them supported stronger laws to ensure fake news is removed or corrected.

Later, elaborating on the prospective legislation, he told reporters: "We know what the end point should be. It should be to de-legitimise fake news, help people identify what is and what is not fake news, and to deal with the perpetrators of fake news."

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Dear students, what you post online can wreck your life

Your posts can shape your future
Getting into colleges, jobs hinges on online reputations nowadays
By Thao Nelson, Published The Straits Times, 19 Jun 2017

Dear Student,

Harvard recently rescinded admission offers for some incoming freshmen who participated in a private Facebook group sharing offensive memes. The incident has sparked a lot of discussion: Was Harvard's decision justified? What about freedom of speech? Do young people know the dangers of social media?

I am a business school lecturer, career service counsellor and former recruiter, and I have seen how social media becomes part of a person's brand - a brand that can help you or hurt you. College admissions staff, future employers and even potential dates are more and more likely to check your profile and make decisions or judgments about you.

Here is what you should know, so you do not end up like those Harvard prospects.


Let us be clear about one thing: You have been building your online reputation since your first Snapchat. Think the posts disappear? Think private pages are private? Think again.

You might feel like your life and opinions are no one's business, but you cannot always control who sees what you post. Every photo, video, tweet, like and comment could be screenshot by your friends (or frenemies). You might make a mistake with your privacy settings or post to the wrong account. And a determined online sleuth can sometimes find ways around privacy settings, viewing photos and posts you might think are well hidden.


Your profile will very likely be scrutinised by college admissions officers and employers. According to a recent CareerBuilder recruitment survey in America, social media screening is through the roof:

• 600 per cent increase since 2006 in employers using social media to screen candidates

• 70 per cent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates

• 34 per cent of employers found online content that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee

This trend is common with admissions as well. Kaplan Test Prep's 2017 survey of over 350 US college admissions officers found that 35 per cent checked applicants' social media profiles. Many who do said social media had influenced their admission decisions.

PM Lee Hsien Loong apologises for damage to Singapore caused by family dispute over Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38 Oxley Road

• Decision on Oxley house lies with Govt: DPM Teo Chee Hean

• No mystery surrounding ministerial panel: DPM Tharman

• 38 Oxley Road debate in Parliament:
Day 1 - 3 July 2017
Day 2 - 4 July 2017

PM Lee will deliver a ministerial statement in Parliament on July 3 to refute accusations
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 20 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong apologised to the nation yesterday for the harm caused by a protracted and publicly aired dispute with his siblings, which has affected Singapore's reputation and its citizens' confidence in the Government.

He will deliver a ministerial statement to refute the "baseless accusations" his siblings made against the Government, when Parliament sits on July 3.

PM Lee issued a statement and a video on the matter yesterday, on his first day back at work after a vacation. He expressed deep regret about the harm caused by the dispute with Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang over whether to demolish their late father Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38, Oxley Road.

His siblings had released a statement last Wednesday accusing him of misusing his power in a bid to preserve their father's house, among numerous other allegations.

PM Lee yesterday said these "serious allegations" went beyond private and personal matters, extending to the conduct of his office and the integrity of the Government.

"Much as I would like to move on, and end a most unhappy experience for Singaporeans, these baseless accusations against the Government cannot be left unanswered. They must be and will be dealt with openly and refuted," he said.

PM Lee said all MPs will have the opportunity to raise questions after his statement next month, adding that he has instructed that the People's Action Party whip be lifted. This will allow PAP MPs to speak according to their conscience and not be bound by the party position.

PM Lee yesterday urged all MPs, including opposition MPs, to "examine the issues thoroughly and question me and my Cabinet colleagues vigorously" about the matter.

Friday 16 June 2017

Was Lee Kuan Yew rushed into signing his last will?; Lee Suet Fern found guilty of improper conduct in handling LKY’s will

• PM Lee Hsien Loong releases summary of statutory declarations to ministerial committee looking into options for Oxley Road house

• PM Lee questions the role of brother Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Lee Suet Fern in making of final will

• Clause to demolish 38 Oxley Road house re-appeared in Lee Kuan Yew's final and seventh will having previously been removed from his fifth and sixth wills

• Lee Wei Ling's extra share of father's estate removed in final will

• Lee Wei Ling, Lee Hsien Yang threatened to air dispute during 2015 General Election

• PM Lee agreed to sell Oxley house to resolve dispute

• 'Nothing secret' about ministerial committee on Oxley Road home: Committee chair DPM Teo Chee Hean

• Lee Hsien Yang unhappy over delay and uncertainty in demolishing Oxley Road House: Goh Chok Tong

• Singaporeans 'sick and tired of endless' Oxley Road allegations: Shanmugam

• Lee Hsien Yang says wife's firm did not draft Lee Kuan Yew's final will

• Lawyer Kwa Kim Li says she did not prepare Lee Kuan Yew's last will, so who did?

PM Lee Hsien Loong apologises for dispute with siblings, will deliver ministerial statement in Parliament on 3 July 2017

• Lee Kuan Yew's final will 'accepts' Oxley house demolition may not take place, says Indranee Rajah

• Identify lawyer who drafted Mr Lee's final will: Indranee

PM Lee Hsien Loong details 'deeply troubling' way Lee Kuan Yew's will was made
He says last will prepared in haste with help of Hsien Yang's wife, conflict of interest an issue
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday raised serious questions about the way his father Lee Kuan Yew's last will was made, and whether there was a conflict of interest when his sister-in-law Lee Suet Fern helped prepare the will.

In a statement issued by his lawyers at Drew and Napier last night, PM Lee set out in detail the "deeply troubling circumstances" surrounding the seventh and final version of the will, and said he has "grave concerns" about whether the late Mr Lee was "properly and independently advised" on its contents before he signed it.

PM Lee's five-page statement, which he later uploaded on Facebook, raised a notch the long-running dispute with his younger siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, over whether to demolish their father's house at 38, Oxley Road. In it, PM Lee also questioned if Mr Lee knew that a clause to demolish the house was reintroduced in the last will. He noted that this demolition clause first appeared in his father's first will dated Aug 20, 2011.

It was removed in the fifth and sixth versions of the will, but "somehow found its way back into the last will", he noted.

The dispute spilt into the public sphere on Wednesday, when PM Lee's siblings released a statement saying they had lost confidence in him and feared the use of state organs against them.

The two siblings alleged that PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching wanted the house preserved for their own political gain, and said their brother had abused his power by making extensive representations to a ministerial committee, raising questions over the last will.

Last night, PM Lee refuted his siblings' claims that he had motives for raising questions about the will in a statutory declaration to the ministerial committee. Noting that his siblings continued to make allegations, he said: "This makes it untenable for me not to respond publicly to the allegations and to explain why I have serious questions about how my father's last will was prepared."

Thursday 15 June 2017

Lee Kuan Yew's legacy is about to be destroyed by daughter and other son; Lee Wei Ling and Hsien Yang use Facebook to demand demolition of LKY's house

• In young nation where numerous useless buildings receive petitions for conservation, fate of iconic house where modern Singapore was founded fuels public show of sibling rivalry

• Lee Wei Ling, Lee Hsien Yang issue statement to say they have 'lost confidence' in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

• PM Lee refuted allegations by his siblings that he had misused his power in relation to their late father's house, saying he was disappointed and sad they had chosen to air a private family matter in public

• PM Lee officially rebutts with an explosive account of events regarding changes in LKY's 7 wills

• Was Lee Kuan Yew rushed into signing his last will?

• PM Lee Hsien Loong apologises for dispute with siblings, will deliver ministerial statement in Parliament on 3 July 2017

• Lee Hsien Yang’s goal is to bring Lee Hsien Loong down as Prime Minister: ESM Goh Chok Tong

• 38 Oxley Road dispute debate in Parliament: Day 1 & Day 2

• Lee Hsien Yang and Wei Ling say they accept offer to settle dispute in private or go to court

PM Lee Hsien Loong saddened by siblings' Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang allegations
He denies charges and will consider matter further after he returns from overseas leave
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor and Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has refuted allegations by his siblings that he had misused his power in relation to their late father's house, saying he was disappointed and sad they had chosen to air a private family matter in public.

"I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made. Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son," PM Lee said in response to a six-page statement his two siblings issued yesterday.

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said they had lost confidence in their brother, PM Lee, adding that they feared the use of state organs against them.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said he and his wife Suet Fern felt compelled to leave Singapore "for the foreseeable future" because of this.

Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their statement is the latest development in a long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38, Oxley Road.

The two siblings are joint executors and trustees of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's estate, and have pushed for the Government to honour his wish, as stated in his will, for the house to be pulled down.

They alleged that PM Lee and his wife wanted the house preserved for their own political gain, adding that the PM had abused his position to drive his personal agenda. They further alleged Mrs Lee had outsized influence and power that went beyond her role as the PM's wife.

PM Lee said: "While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family. Since my father's passing in March 2015, as the eldest son, I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents."

He added: "My siblings' statement has hurt our father's legacy."

After the statement was publicised on the duo's Facebook pages around 2am, it was widely shared online and picked up by media.

The news also sparked talk in the legal fraternity about possible changes at law firm Morgan Lewis Stamford, at which Mrs Lee Suet Fern is managing partner.

Last year, Dr Lee had also called PM Lee a "dishonourable son" in a Facebook post, because of their disagreement over the house.

This time, she and Mr Lee Hsien Yang said PM Lee and his wife had opposed their father's wish for the house to be pulled down, as "the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital".

In December 2015, PM Lee had said in a joint statement with his siblings that he hoped their father's wish would be honoured, adding that he would recuse himself from all government decisions on the house. The Government also said it would not make any decision on the house as long as Dr Lee resided there.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang told The Straits Times that PM Lee had not kept his promise, citing the formation of a ministerial committee on the house. To him, this was a sign of PM Lee's interference.

But Cabinet Secretary Tan Kee Yong said in a statement the committee was formed to consider options for the house and their implications.

He also said PM Lee "has not been involved in Cabinet's discussions concerning this committee. As he had previously stated, he has recused himself from all government decisions (on) the house."

The two siblings also alleged PM Lee and his wife harbour political ambitions for their son Hongyi. PM Lee called it an "absurd claim".

He said: "I will do my utmost to continue to do right by my parents. At the same time, I will continue serving Singaporeans honestly and to the best of my ability. In particular, that means upholding meritocracy, which is a fundamental value of our society."

He ended his statement saying: "As my siblings know, I am presently overseas on leave with my family. I will consider this matter further after I return this weekend."