Forum Posts

Ah Sam Boi Boi
Jun 14, 2022
In Chillin' In The Lounge
Another fight breaks out at Geylang content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
May 12, 2022
Bullshit: The Game Show (starring real-life clowns from the PAP) content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Mar 20, 2022
In Current Affairs
Guess when there's no major agenda to fix the opposition, let's all just play truant eh?
[SHAMEFUL] Near empty parliament in session content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Feb 20, 2022
In Current Affairs
QuaDream was founded in 2016 by Ilan Dabelstein, a former Israeli military official, and by two former NSO employees, Guy Geva and Nimrod Reznik, according to Israeli corporate records and two people familiar with the business. Reuters could not reach the three executives for comment. Like NSO's Pegasus spyware, QuaDream's flagship product - called REIGN - could take control of a smartphone, scooping up instant messages from services such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal, as well as emails, photos, texts and contacts, according to two product brochures from 2019 and 2020 which were reviewed by Reuters. REIGN's “Premium Collection” capabilities included the "real time call recordings", "camera activation - front and back" and "microphone activation", one brochure said. Prices appeared to vary. One QuaDream system, which would have given customers the ability to launch 50 smartphone break-ins per year, was being offered for $2.2 million exclusive of maintenance costs, according to the 2019 brochure. Two people familiar with the software's sales said the price for REIGN was typically higher. Over the years, QuaDream and NSO Group employed some of the same engineering talent, according to three people familiar with the matter. Two of those sources said the companies did not collaborate on their iPhone hacks, coming up with their own ways to take advantage of vulnerabilities. Several of QuaDream's buyers have also overlapped with NSO's, four of the sources said, including Saudi Arabia and Mexico - both of whom have been accused of misusing spy software to target political opponents. One of QuaDream's first clients was the Singaporean government, two of the sources said, and documentation reviewed by Reuters shows the company's surveillance technology was pitched to the Indonesian government as well. Reuters couldn't determine if Indonesia became a client. Mexican, Singaporean, Indonesian and Saudi officials did not return messages seeking comment about QuaDream. https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-iphone-flaw-exploited-by-second-israeli-spy-firm-sources-2022-02-03/
The Singapore Govt is a client of Israeli spyware company QuaDream content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Jan 16, 2022
Victim of OCBC phishing scam recounts nightmarish experience content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Dec 15, 2021
In Current Affairs
A snowballing controversy involving a lawmaker who resigned after lying in parliament is threatening the Singaporean opposition leader, Pritam Singh, less than 18 months after his party made historic electoral gains with the backing of the city state’s younger generation. The saga initially seemed to only involve Raeesah Khan – a darling among Gen Z and millennial voters – but an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the case has dragged Singh and other high-ranking leaders of the Workers’ Party (WP) into the picture. In a nine-hour testimony last Friday before the parliamentary Committee of Privileges, Singh repeatedly denied suggestions that he acted improperly by failing to take Raeesah to task even though he and two other top party leaders knew within days that her August 3 speech about the police mishandling a sexual assault case contained falsehoods. Apart from scrutinising Raeesah’s breach of parliamentary rules, the committee – made up primarily of MPs from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) – has also been probing the WP’s seemingly lackadaisical internal handling of the matter. Edwin Tong, a legally-trained cabinet minister and member of the panel, had suggested to witnesses including Singh that the WP leadership might have initially sought to suppress Raeesah’s transgression as it would put them and the party in a negative light. A consensus view among local political analysts interviewed by This Week in Asia was that it was almost certain that the scandal took the shine off the WP’s achievement last July in the country’s most contested elections since independence. At the same time, some of these observers cautioned against viewing the scandal as an “existential crisis” for the party. WP’s integrity under scrutiny WP chief Singh’s high levels of popularity among supporters and a perception among opposition loyalists that the parliamentary probe was a partisan exercise were factors that benefited the embattled WP, said Bilveer Singh, a political-science professor at the National University of Singapore. “The key [in the deliberations of the Committee of Privileges] is proportionality – if someone has done something wrong then that person should be punished,” said Singh, a veteran observer of local politics. It would be “overkill” if the committee recommended punishments for Singh and other top WP leaders, he said. In the polls in July last year, the WP party took 10 out of 93 seats – a major coup given that no opposition party has held double digit seats in the island nation since the 1960s. The result – widely attributed to a clinical campaign run by Singh – raised hopes that the WP would continue its ascendance as a formidable check against the dominance of the PAP, which has been in power since 1959. “Depending on how public opinion is shaped by the Committee of Privileges’ finding and recommendations, the matter could be a body blow to the WP,” said Tan, a Singapore Management University law professor. Nydia Ngiow, the managing director of the BowerGroupAsia strategic consultancy in Singapore, said revelations thus far had raised “serious questions” over the WP leadership’s “inability and lack of appetite towards tackling the issue”. “The recent saga threatens to undo the [WP’s] good work in recent years, and it remains to be seen if the party is able to move past this crisis with its credibility intact,” she said. Lying saga takes centre stage Since Raeesah’s speech in August, when she initially lied to parliament, the issue has been in the national spotlight. The first-time MP had said during a debate on empowering women that she accompanied a sexual assault survivor to a police station only to have an officer make insensitive comments towards the complainant. Subsequently pressed for details by senior officials, including the law and home affairs minister K. Shanmugam, Raeesah said she was not able to divulge further information due to confidentiality. But in a bombshell turn of events on November 1, she admitted that the anecdote had been fabricated. She did not in fact follow the victim to the police station, but had heard the account in a sexual assault survivors support group that she was part of. The lawmaker said she herself had been sexually assaulted at the age of 18 while studying overseas, which is why she had attended the group session. Raeesah suggested that this experience influenced the way she narrated the episode, saying in a tearful speech that she did not have the courage to report her own assault. On November 30, she resigned from the WP before its top decision-making body was to decide on whether to sack her. The saga has dominated local headlines since December 1, when the Committee of Privileges proceedings began. The panel is continuing to interview witnesses, but has thus far issued four interim reports following the testimonies it has heard so far. It also released footage of the depositions. A lot more at https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3159812/can-singapores-opposition-workers-party-ride-out-scandal-its
Can Singapore’s opposition Workers’ Party ride out scandal of its lying lawmaker Raeesah Khan?  content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Dec 01, 2021
In Current Affairs
The South African scientists tracking the new coronavirus variant believe it probably evolved in a patient with HIV/Aids with a chronic Covid-19 infection. If so, it will not be the first time a variant has emerged in a patient with a long-running Covid infection, scientists told the The Telegraph. In fact, many experts believe it could be how some of the other variants sprang up, including alpha, the first global "variant of concern", which emerged in Kent last autumn. Across the world, scientists have traced the virus evolving in immunocompromised patients with months-long Covid infections. Patients with untreated HIV or other conditions that weaken the immune system - such as cancer, for example - can struggle to see off Covid, leaving their body fighting the virus for prolonged periods. They effectively act as an evolutionary training gym for the virus to mutate to find new ways around their immune responses. The difference in South Africa is the sheer numbers of people this potentially covers: 8.2 million South Africans are infected with HIV and only around 71 per cent of adults, and 45 per cent of children, are on treatment, leaving a large pool of people vulnerable. Professor Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases expert at the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP), part of the team that first alerted the world about the spread of the new B.1.1.529 variant, said it is likely that the new variant was incubated in an untreated HIV/Aids patient. "It doesn't seem to have emerged from a normal evolutionary process," Prof Lessells told The Telegraph. "There's been an evolutionary jump. This hasn't evolved from the delta variant." Prof Sharon Peacock, Director of COG-UK Genomics UK Consortium, and Professor of Public Health and Microbiology, University of Cambridge, said this genetic difference was the clue - as it had also been with alpha. “The genetic difference of B.1.1.529 has led to the hypothesis that this may have evolved in someone who was infected but could then not clear the virus, giving the virus the chance to genetically evolve (the equivalent of an evolutionary gym)," she said. "The same hypothesis was proposed for the alpha variant, and studies have been done in individual immunocompromised patients that show changes occur in the virus over time, and in response to antibody therapy." However, she added: "But the index (original) case of alpha was not determined – and trying to pinpoint the index case of a variant of concern does not aid the pandemic response, could be counterproductive by looking back rather than putting all efforts into looking forward, and is to be avoided." Others said it was "certainly plausible" that this was how B.1.1.529 developed, although some scientists suggested that the gap between the existing virus and the new variant may instead represent a gap in sequencing data in countries lacking surveillance capabilities. Professor Stuart Neil, a virologist at King's College London, told The Telegraph: "It's speculative, but it's something that has certainly been worrying people for a while, that persistent infection in immunocompromised people could be driving certain levels of viral diversity." He said this route of viral evolution has been theorised before, for example for influenza. The concern for many global health experts is that this has not fed into global vaccination strategies for Covid. It also shines a fresh light on the risks of the long-running inequality in HIV prevention, treatment and diagnosis globally. In South Africa, only 24 per cent of people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19; although the gap seems to be more about hesitancy than supply. However, this is not the case in other African countries which also have high burdens of HIV. Scientists pointed out that it is feasible that B.1.1.529 came from one of these countries and was simply spotted in South Africa, which has strong viral surveillance networks. "What we're seeing is exactly what we've warned about for the last year," said Prof Lessells in South Africa. "If we leave parts of the world behind... then the disease will continue to evolve. We could have reduced the risk of this happening and we still can if we deal with the vaccine apartheid." https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/scientists-think-new-variant-may-have-emerged-hiv-patient/
The new Omicron variant may have originated from an HIV patient! content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Nov 10, 2021
In Current Affairs
Singapore – After being let go from his part-time job as a waiter last year during the pandemic, Danny Goh hit rock bottom. For eight months, he struggled to find work to support his wife and four young children. The family survived on instant noodles, bread dipped in coffee, and biscuits, getting by on the goodwill of relatives and church friends. While Goh has found a new commission-based job getting people to sign up for government skills upgrading and training courses, his income fluctuates between 800 Singapore dollars ($594) and 2,800 Singapore dollars ($2,078), which is barely enough for their large family. He perpetually finds himself cash-strapped. To save money, the family has started eating only two meals a day – simple dishes like chicken soup with rice or potatoes. Goh often skips meals or eats once a day so that his children can have a bigger share. Where their fridge used to be stuffed with fresh fruit, chicken, pork and beef, soft drinks and snacks, all of this is now a luxury, and eating out is out of the question. “It’s a huge pay cut, and honestly it’s one of the hardest and most demoralising periods of my life. Times are really tough,” said the 61-year-old who rents a two-room public housing flat in the northern part of the island. In a food paradise and wealthy city-state like Singapore, food insecurity is a phenomenon that exists primarily behind closed doors. But as elsewhere in the world, COVID-19 has hit the disadvantaged the hardest, typically the lowest earners in precarious jobs, who have few safety nets and insufficient wage and labour protections. Earlier this year, a six-month study by local charity Beyond Social Services found that the median household income of families who sought the group’s help had plunged from 1,600 Singapore dollars ($1,187) before the COVID-19 pandemic to just 500 Singapore dollars ($371). More worryingly, a second study, which detailed the effect of the pandemic on people renting government-owned flats between July and December 2020, found food insecurity was increasingly prolonged. Residents told Beyond that they sometimes coped with the lack of food by filling themselves up with liquids or starches, buying cheap and filling items, and making choices based on financial considerations rather than nutritional value. For instance, some families would eat only one meal a day or give their children coffee creamer in hot water because they could not afford formula milk. The report warned the issue could escalate into a serious public health matter, with links to increased mental stress and the development of chronic health conditions. In 2019, Singapore ranked as the world’s most food-secure nation in the Global Food Security Index. However, one in 10 Singaporeans experienced food insecurity at least once over 12 months, reported a study by the Singapore Management University’s Lien Centre for Social Innovation. Out of this, two in five experienced food insecurity at least once a month and many of these households did not seek food support, citing embarrassment, being unaware of what was available and the belief that others needed it more than themselves. “To a regular Singaporean, food is a national pastime,” said Beyond’s Deputy Executive Director Ranganayaki Thangavelu. “But we may not realise how poorly others are eating, how they have to make difficult choices for each meal, and how food is just a necessity to sustain them. When they are confronted by this inequality daily, it wears them down over time.” Barely ‘staying afloat’ Before COVID-19, eating out used to be a regular affair for 35-year-old Joshua (not his real name), his homemaker wife and their 6-year-old daughter. But all that changed when the former studio technician was abruptly let go due to massive cost-cutting measures during the pandemic last March. He took on a contract job as a security guard, clocking 12-hour night shifts four times a week, earning 1,400 Singapore dollars ($1,039) a month – half his previous salary. These days, every time Joshua gets his pay, the couple sits down to figure out how to stretch their monthly food budget of 400 Singapore dollars ($297). Usually, that means buying frozen chicken rather than fresh, looking out for value buys and discounts, buying in bulk and switching to cheaper brands. The remaining money goes to paying rent for their flat, utilities, phone and internet bills and other day-to-day expenses, with little to no buffer of savings. For a treat, they take their daughter out for a fast food meal once a month. Joshua says that so far, they have been able to get by, helped by rations of dried food, fruit and vegetables from a local charity. Despite the uncertainty, he is sanguine about the situation, saying that he is lucky he is still young and able to find work. “We manage to stay afloat. For now, this is enough for my family and me to manage,” he said. “The pandemic has taught us a lesson about resilience and fighting on.” Charities that Al Jazeera spoke to say that new sectors of society have been seeking food aid because of the pandemic, including younger “gig” workers whose projects have dried up and even middle-income families living in bigger public housing flats or private homes. About 85 percent of Singaporeans live in government-subsidised apartment blocks. “On the outside, the house looks cushy and polished, but then the kids tell us that their mother hasn’t eaten for two days,” said The Food Bank Singapore co-founder, Nichol Ng. “For the food to be impacted, it means they are scraping the very bottom of the pot.” Each time the government’s multi-ministry task force handling COVID-19 announces new restrictions, the charity is flooded by requests from people writing in to ask for food. Singapore recently announced that its COVID-19 restrictions would be extended until November 21, after registering thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily. “This means we have a lot of people who are super vulnerable and who can’t feed themselves. To know they are literally a paycheque away from not eating, it’s really scary and worrying,” Ng said. Offering a Lifeline Under its Feed the City initiative last year, The Food Bank Singapore distributed one million meals. Driven by a belief in giving beneficiaries the “autonomy of choice and dignity”, it also rolled out more neighbourhood vending machines stocked with anything from frozen bento meals to drinks, snacks and rice. The group says the machines, which the residents access with special cards, reduce the risk of the food going bad when left outside someone’s house in the tropical heat. The charity has also rolled out other innovations, including a bank card programme that allows beneficiaries to redeem meals from food establishments. Food from the Heart, another charity, has also seen demand surge and is now delivering 10,000 ration packs a month compared with 5,000 before COVID-19 hit. They have also enlarged the size of their food packs after families ran out of supplies during coronavirus-related lockdowns. “With more conversations about food insecurity, there’s less stigma of people admitting they get food support, especially those more able-bodied who have lost a job,” said chief executive Sim Bee Hia. “We expect the pandemic’s impact to be prolonged and we just have to react and be nimble to make sure we keep the food going to those who need it as long as they need it.” Despite the proliferation of initiatives and the rising volume of food aid, the Beyond report notes that efforts remain patchy and ad hoc, with some getting too much assistance and others not knowing how to get the help they need. Ng said: “There’s too many ground-up initiatives and corporations with big hearts but they assume it is these few places that need help. As a result, there’s duplicated food efforts in certain neighbourhoods, while others fall through the cracks.” To solve this, her team plans to create an online database – or “feeding directory” – detailing the range of food aid initiatives by neighbourhood. It is also working on a food-banking app where beneficiaries can submit real-time food requests to donors, while donors share the type and quantity of food they have on hand. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) says it “recognises” that there is food insecurity in Singapore and has introduced a series of measures to address the issue since the pandemic, including grants and income relief as well as grocery and food vouchers for the less well-off. These measures come on top of the existing ComCare programme, which provides social assistance for low-income individuals and families. “In terms of food insecurity, Singapore has fared relatively well internationally, with rates remaining consistently low, due to our economic and social policies and collective community efforts to support those in need,” an MSF spokesperson said in an email response to Al Jazeera. The ministry noted that about 4.5 percent of the population in Singapore was estimated to face moderate to severe food insecurity, according to the 2021 report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This was lower than in other developed economies such as the United States (8 percent), New Zealand (14 percent), Australia (12.3 percent) and South Korea (5.1 percent), it added. But as the pandemic rages on and businesses continue to bleed, Goh is fearful of the prolonged economic impact on families like his. “I never imagined that the situation would become worse,” he said. “There seems to be no end in sight.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/10/as-covid-19-rages-more-in-singapore-go-hungry
As COVID-19 rages, more in Singapore go hungry content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Nov 05, 2021
Indian family playing with sparklers had an egg thrown at them..... content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Oct 11, 2021
In Current Affairs
https://www.change.org/p/lee-hsien-loong-ong-ye-kun-allow-unvaccinated-people-to-enter-malls-in-singapore
Allow unvaccinated people to enter malls in Singapore! content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Oct 05, 2021
In Current Affairs
Facebook employees and contractors complained Monday that they were unable to log on to their work accounts during the company’s worst service outage since 2008. The outage, which lasted six hours Monday, not only made it impossible for the company’s 3 billion-plus users to access Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp services, it also affected internal systems for employees, some workers told CNBC. Specifically, employees said the outage was preventing them from accessing the tools they use to track information, such as how many people are using certain services, as well as internal chat functions. The workers requested anonymity because they were discussing internal confidential matters. The outage was so bad that engineers who were tasked with helping resolve service issues were unable to even log on and get involved to fix the problems, one person familiar with the situation told CNBC. The outage comes a day after Frances Hague, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic integrity team, revealed herself to be the whistleblower behind the numerous internal documents cited in The Wall Street Journal’s “The Facebook Files” series of reports. One Instagram employee told CNBC that some employees were saying the outage was karma for the recent whistleblower ordeal. The employee added that they felt bad for any creators or brands who had ad campaigns scheduled to roll out on Monday. Workers have to be online every five minutes to see if something has changed, creating a stressful environment for them, one Facebook contractor told CNBC. In a text message, a spokesman for the company said his email was not working and directed CNBC to a tweet from Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer as the company’s official statement on the matter. ″*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now,” tweeted Schroepfer, who last month announced his resignation from the company. “We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.” https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/04/facebook-workers-lose-access-to-internal-tools-following-outage.html
Karma for recent whistleblower ordeal? Facebook employees were unable to access critical work tools during six-hour outage content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Oct 04, 2021
In Current Affairs
The secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents. Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers. They reveal the King of Jordan secretly amassed £70m of UK and US property. They also show how ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office. The couple bought an offshore firm that owned the building. The leak also links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, and shows the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis - facing an election later this week - failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for £12m in the south of France. It is the latest in a string of leaks over the past seven years, following the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks. The examination of the files is the largest organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with more than 650 reporters taking part. BBC Panorama in a joint investigation with the Guardian and the other media partners have had access to nearly 12 million documents and files from 14 financial services companies in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland. Some figures are facing allegations of corruption, money laundering and global tax avoidance. But one of the biggest revelations is how prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK. The documents reveal the owners of some of the 95,000 offshore firms behind the purchases. It highlights the UK government's failure to introduce a register of offshore property owners despite repeated promises to do so, amid concerns some property buyers could be hiding money-laundering activities. The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family, who have been accused of looting their own country, are one example. The investigation found the Aliyevs and their close associates have secretly been involved in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m. The revelations could prove embarrassing for the UK government, as the Aliyevs appear to have made a £31m profit after selling one of their London properties to the Crown Estate - the Queen's property empire that is managed by The Treasury and raises cash for the nation. Many of the transactions in the documents involve no legal wrongdoing. But Fergus Shiel, from the ICIJ, said: "There's never been anything on this scale and it shows the reality of what offshore companies can offer to help people hide dodgy cash or avoid tax." He added: "They are using those offshore accounts, those offshore trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of property in other countries, and to enrich their own families, at the expense of their citizens." The ICIJ believes the investigation is "opening a box on a lot of things" - hence the name Pandora Papers. King of Jordan's Malibu mansions The leaked financial documents show how the King of Jordan secretly amassed a property empire in the UK and US worth more than £70m (over $100m). They identify a network of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens used by Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein to buy 15 homes since he assumed power in 1999. They include £50m on three adjacent ocean view properties in Malibu, California, and properties in London and Ascot in the UK. His property interests have been built up as King Abdullah has been accused of presiding over an authoritarian regime, with protests taking place in recent years amid austerity measures and tax rises. Lawyers for King Abdullah said all the properties were bought with personal wealth, which he also uses to fund projects for Jordan's citizens. They said it was common practice for high profile individuals to purchase properties via offshore companies for privacy and security reasons. Among the other revelations in the Pandora Papers: • Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and six members of his family secretly owned a network of offshore companies. They have been linked to 11 firms - one of which was valued as holding assets of $30m • Members of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's inner circle, including cabinet ministers and their families, secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars • The law firm founded by President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus appears to have provided fake owners to disguise the real owner of a series of offshore companies - a former Russian politician who had been accused of embezzlement. However, the law firm denies this • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky transferred his stake in a secret offshore company just before he won the 2019 election • Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, replaced a Panamanian foundation that made monthly payments to his close family members with a trust based in South Dakota in the US No stamp duty on Blair office buy There is no suggestion in the Pandora Papers that Tony and Cherie Blair were hiding their wealth. But documents show why stamp duty was not payable when the couple bought a £6.45m property. The former Labour prime minister and his barrister wife Cherie acquired the building in Marylebone, central London, in July 2017 by buying the offshore company that owned it. It is legal to acquire properties in the UK in this way and stamp duty does not have to be paid - but Mr Blair has previously been critical of tax loopholes. The townhouse in Marylebone, central London, is now home to Mrs Blair's legal consultancy, which advises governments around the world, as well as her foundation for women. Mrs Blair said the sellers had insisted they buy the house through the offshore company. She said they had brought the property back under UK rules and will be liable to pay capital gains tax if they sell it in future. The ultimate owners of the property were a family with political connections in Bahrain - but both parties say they did not initially know who they were dealing with. The boy who owned a £33m London property Other documents show how Azerbaijan's ruling Aliyev family have secretly acquired UK property using offshore companies. The files show how the family - long accused of corruption in the European nation - bought 17 properties, including a £33m office block in London for the president's 11-year-old son Heydar Aliyev. The building in Mayfair was bought by a front company owned by a family friend of President Ilham Aliyev in 2009. It was transferred one month later to Hedyar. The research also reveals how another office block owned by the family nearby was sold to the Crown Estate for £66m in 2018. The Crown Estate said it carried out the checks required in law at the time of purchase but is now looking into the matter. The UK government says it is cracking down on money laundering with tougher laws and enforcement, and that it will introduce a register of offshore companies owning UK property when parliamentary time allows. The Pandora Papers is a leak of almost 12 million documents and files exposing the secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and has led to one of the biggest ever global investigations. More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet. BBC Panorama and the Guardian have led the investigation in the UK. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-58780465
The boy who owned a £33m London property and a whole lot more:  Pandora Papers lay bare secret wealth and dealings of world leaders content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Sep 21, 2021
In Current Affairs
When the troubled Chinese property giant Evergrande was starved for cash earlier this year, it turned to its own employees with a strong-arm pitch: Those who wanted to keep their bonuses would have to give Evergrande a short-term loan. Some workers tapped their friends and family for money to lend to the company. Others borrowed from the bank. Then, this month, Evergrande suddenly stopped paying back the loans, which had been packaged as high-interest investments. Now, hundreds of employees have joined panicked home buyers in demanding their money back from Evergrande, gathering outside the company’s offices across China to protest last week. Once China’s most prolific property developer, Evergrande has become the country’s most indebted company. It owes money to lenders, suppliers and foreign investors. It owes unfinished apartments to home buyers and has racked up more than $300 billion in unpaid bills. Evergrande faces lawsuits from creditors and has seen its shares lose more than 80 percent of their value this year. Regulators fear that the collapse of a company Evergrande’s size would send tremors through the entire Chinese financial system. Yet so far, Beijing has not stepped in with a bailout, having promised to teach debt-saddled corporate giants a lesson. The angry protests led by home buyers — and now the company’s own employees — may change that calculus. Evergrande is on the hook to buyers for nearly 1.6 million apartments, according to one estimate, and it may owe money to tens of thousands of its workers. As Beijing remains relatively quiet about the company’s future, those who are owed cash say they are growing impatient. “There isn’t much time left for us,” said Jin Cheng, a 28-year-old employee in the eastern city of Hefei who said he put $62,000 of his own money into Evergrande Wealth, the company’s investment arm, at the request of senior management. As rumors rippled through the Chinese internet that Evergrande might go bankrupt this month, Mr. Jin and some of his colleagues gathered in front of provincial government offices to pressure the authorities to step in. In the southern city of Shenzhen, home buyers and employees crowded into the lobby of Evergrande’s headquarters last week and shouted for their money back. “Evergrande, give back my money I earned with blood and sweat!” some could be heard yelling in video footage. Mr. Jin said employees at Fangchebao, Evergrande’s online platform for real estate and automobile sales, were told that each department had to put monthly investments into Evergrande Wealth. Evergrande did not respond to a request for comment, but the company recently warned that it was under “tremendous” financial pressure and said it had hired restructuring experts to help determine its future. Things were not always this way. For more than two decades, Evergrande was China’s largest developer, minting money from a property boom on a scale the world had never seen. With each success, Evergrande expanded into new areas — bottled water, professional sports, electric vehicles. Banks and investors happily threw in money, making a bet on China’s growing middle class and its appetite for homes and other properties. More recently, real estate has come under scrutiny from Chinese regulators who want to end the go-go years of the boom and have forced the industry to start paying off debt. The idea was to reduce Chinese banks’ exposure to the property sector. But in the process, the regulators took away the money that developers like Evergrande needed to finish building houses, leaving families without the homes for which they had already paid. “The Chinese financial system is really complex and when you see fissures like this you realize the impact it could possibly have on society,” said Jennifer James, an investment manager at Janus Henderson Investors. “If Evergrande were to disappear tomorrow, it could be a socially systemic issue.” Ms. James and other investors said they learned about Evergrande’s wealth management strategy involving its employees only this month, when the company disclosed that it owed $145 million in repayments. Evergrande has tried to sell off parts of its vast empire to raise new funds, but said last week it was “uncertain as to whether the group will be able to consummate any such sale.” It accused the news media of triggering a panic among home buyers with negative coverage. But Evergrande’s funding channels started drying up well before last week. According to interviews with employees, state media reports and corporate documents seen by The New York Times, the company started forcing staff members to help bail it out as early as April, when it began peddling the short-term loans. Around 70 to 80 percent of Evergrande employees across China were asked to put up money that would then be used to help fund Evergrande operations, Liu Yunting, a consultant for Evergrande Wealth, recently told Anhui Online Broadcasting Corporation, a state-owned news group. A version of that interview was taken offline on Friday. Anhui Online Broadcasting did not respond to a request for comment. The extent of the campaign and how much money it might have raised were unclear. Employees were told to each invest a certain amount of money in Evergrande Wealth products, and that if they failed to do so, their performance pay and bonuses would be docked, employees told Anhui. Company management said the investments were part of “supply chain financing” and would allow Evergrande to make payments to its suppliers, Mr. Liu said in his interview with Anhui. “Because we employees had to complete a quota, we asked our friends and families to put money in,” he said. Mr. Liu said his parents and in-laws had invested $200,000, and that he had put about $75,000 of his own money into Evergrande Wealth. Even before the protests last week, Evergrande was on Beijing’s bad side. Late last month, its executives were summoned to a meeting with regulators. Officials from China’s top banking and insurance watchdogs told executives to sort out their towering debt in order to maintain the stability of China’s financial market. The biggest concern for the authorities is Evergrande’s unfinished apartments. The company has nearly 800 developments in progress in more than 200 cities across China. Evergrande, which often presold apartments to raise cash before they were completed, may still to need to deliver as many as 1.6 million properties to home buyers, according to an estimate from Barclays. Under heightened scrutiny, Evergrande gathered its top executives earlier this month and asked them to publicly sign what it called a “military order” — a pledge to complete unfinished property developments. Wesley Zhang and his family are among the hundreds of thousands of families who are still waiting for their apartments, and they hope the company will be able to deliver. Mr. Zhang, 33, joined the other home buyers who protested in Hefei last week after he learned that Evergrande also owed money to its employees. “Everyone is anxious, we are a bit like ants on a hot pan, having no idea what to do,” Mr. Zhang said, using a Chinese expression to describe the distress of watching a $124,000 investment potentially vanish. He said he hoped the protests would prompt the government to act before it was too late. “We hope it will get the central government to pay enough attention,” Mr. Zhang said. “Then someone would come out to intervene.” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/19/business/china-evergrande-debt-protests.html
Evergrande Gave Workers a Choice: Lend Us Cash or Lose Your Bonus content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Sep 20, 2021
“Clowns” seen loitering outside primary schools content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Sep 12, 2021
In Current Affairs
SINGAPORE - There are plenty of cautionary tales about mishaps in the financial world but few come with a price tag of $670,000 plus tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. This sorry saga began in 2017 when a bank customer, Mr Andy Poh, plunged headlong into an investment on the recommendation of a bank relationship manager at UOB at the time. Mr Poh sunk US$500,000 (S$670,000) into a British investment company to supposedly earn 7 to 8 per cent of annual returns through its business of giving loans to big institutions. He did not read the documents he signed but still invested in the company because he had relied on what bank relationship manager Ashley Wong supposedly told him - that the company PixelTrade would continue to do well and that Mr Wong's own colleagues were allegedly also dealing with the firm. Mr Poh viewed Mr Wong as his friend as he had made substantial bond investments with the bank through his help and guidance. But about a month after he completed his transfer of funds to PixelTrade, the Monetary Authority of Singapore put the company on its Investor Alert List in January 2018 to caution the public that it was not licensed to do business here. Mr Poh tried to recover his money but when this proved futile, he lodged a police report against PixelTrade in October that year. Mr Wong had resigned from UOB by then due to personal reasons. As it turned out, Mr Wong had recommended the company to Mr Poh on his own, without the bank's knowledge because PixelTrade products had nothing to do with UOB. Mr Poh tried to get back his money from PixelTrade, and Mr Wong, who knew "the main person" at the company, helped to arrange a meeting. That attempt also failed, so Mr Poh asked UOB's senior management "to find a way" to recover his hard-earned cash. A UOB team met Mr Poh to discuss the situation but no compensation was offered because the investment was not made with the bank; Mr Poh had dealt with PixelTrade directly and signed its documents. Mr Poh's next step was to file a lawsuit, claiming that Mr Wong had defrauded him by making various false representations about investing in PixelTrade. But the suit was directed not at Mr Wong, but UOB, on the basis that as it was Mr Wong's employer, it was liable for his alleged fraud. Mr Poh also claimed that UOB had been negligent in not protecting him against the loss of the money that he had transferred to PixelTrade. But his case was dismissed by the High Court last year. Mr Poh appealed and the case was heard by two judges of the appellate court recently. Their decision last month upheld the High Court ruling on the case. Mr Poh's main argument was that he was misled by Mr Wong into thinking that PixelTrade was a UOB-approved investment, which was why he put in so much money. Importance of reading financial documents​ When Judicial Commissioner Andre Maniam heard the case in the High Court, he found that Mr Poh had failed to prove the manager had indeed said that, noting that he was no novice investor. Just before he bought into PixelTrade, Mr Poh had made four bond investments with UOB and he had to sign bank documents. If PixelTrade were indeed a UOB investment, he would also have signed similar documents. But in this case, he had signed PixelTrade's own documents and transferred money to it and not to UOB. "Indeed, Mr Poh's case is contradicted by the documents which he received from UOB and PixelTrade, all of which he claimed he did not read even though he had signed them and returned the signed copies to UOB and PixelTrade," noted the judge, adding that Mr Poh was clearly negligent in "blindly" investing hundreds of thousands of dollars. "Mr Poh says that if he knew the contents of the documents, he would not have signed them. The short answer to that is: Mr Poh should have read the documents, and if he did not agree with the contents, he should not have signed them," the judge added. Judicial Commissioner Maniam also noted other evidence that would have alerted Mr Poh that PixelTrade was not a UOB investment - UOB sent him trade confirmations for his bond purchases but there was no such confirmation for his PixelTrade investment. During the trial, Mr Poh said that he was very "risk-averse" and that he would not have bought into PixelTrade but for that fact that he was misled into thinking UOB was selling it. But this was contradicted by his own investment record with UOB because he had signed documents on "understanding your investment decision", and such documents stated that even the bonds that he bought were not risk-free.​ For instance, his wealth planning document dated Oct 4, 2017, stated: "I want to maximise my return. I am comfortable with taking significant levels of fluctuation to the value of my investments, including the possibility of losing more than my initial investments." Mr Poh said that he just signed documents whenever they were given to him without reading them, even though they warned customers not to sign if they did not understand the contents. The judge also looked at Mr Poh's police report against PixelTrade. The report focused on the company and made no mention that Mr Wong had deceived Mr Poh into thinking his investment in PixelTrade was "UOB-approved or UOB-guaranteed". "If Mr Wong had defrauded him, Mr Poh would surely have told the police that," noted the judge, who concluded that Mr Poh had known all along that PixelTrade had nothing to do with UOB. More at https://www.straitstimes.com/business/invest/mans-670000-investment-loss-a-cautionary-tale
Mr Andy Poh lost $670K after investing in PixelTrade content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Sep 02, 2021
In Announcements/Broadcasts
As per thread topic. Remember to stay vigilant always.
[Scam Alert] Beware of phone call purportedly from DBS  content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Aug 30, 2021
In Current Affairs
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed Singapore’s long-term economic prospects, job anxiety, and racial and religious fault lines in a wide-ranging National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 29). Support for lower-wage workers and responses to growing disquiet over foreign work pass holders were among the new policy and legislative announcements the Prime Minister made in his first rally in two years. A large part of Mr Lee’s speech was also devoted to addressing racial and religious harmony, which has come to the fore after several race-related incidents over the past year. Here are the key takeaways: 1. LONGER-TERM ECONOMIC GROWTH Singapore has survived its “worst economic crisis since independence”. But the country must now take itself off “life support” and change gears to generate new jobs and growth, said Mr Lee. To do this, Singapore must maintain its status as a business hub, which will mean opening up borders soon and allowing safe travel in and out of the country, he said. There remains a need to attract investments, with the Economic Development Board having secured a pipeline of projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. Singapore’s local companies and entrepreneurs must also be nurtured to make their mark in the new global economy. But while the Government will create conditions for entrepreneurs to succeed, “ultimately, it is their own resolve and resourcefulness which will secure their success”, said the Prime Minister. 2. SUPPORT FOR LOWER-WAGE WORKERS Mr Lee announced three measures aimed at supporting lower-wage workers. First, the Progressive Wage Model will be extended to cover more workers. The retail sector will be included from next year, followed by food services and waste management. Specific workers across all sectors, starting with administrative assistants and drivers, will also be covered. Second, companies that hire foreign workers will be required to pay all their local employees at least a local qualifying salary of S$1,400, expanding the current coverage from only some local employees. Third, consumers will know which companies are paying their workers “decent wages” via a PW (progressive wage) Mark. But all this will add to business costs, of which some will be borne by consumers. To this end, Mr Lee urged people to be ready to “pay a little bit more for some of our favourite things”. “It will not only enable the workers to keep their jobs at higher pay. It will also show that as a society, we value their work and contributions, and that they are part of us,” he said. 3. LACK OF “BASIC JOB PROTECTION” FOR DELIVERY WORKERS Among lower-wage workers, the Prime Minister singled out delivery workers for special attention, saying that he was especially concerned about this group. These workers are “for all intents and purposes just like employees”, yet have no employment contracts with the online platforms on which their living depends, he said. “Therefore they lack the basic job protection that most employees enjoy, like workplace injury compensation, union representation and employer CPF,” said Mr Lee. As more people are taking up this type of work, the Manpower Ministry is studying the issue and will conduct consultations on it to give these workers more secure futures. 4. TACKLING WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION What currently are just guidelines on fair treatment will become enforceable rules that have more “teeth”. Mr Lee announced on Sunday that Singapore will enshrine the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) guidelines in law to tackle workplace discrimination more effectively. Although work pass holders are here to complement the local workforce and grow the economy, Mr Lee acknowledged the “growing restlessness” over foreign workers and the sense of competition for jobs that some Singaporeans feel. However, Mr Lee said that legal redress should be a last recourse, with informal and amicable resolutions to workplace disputes still preferred. 5. NEW LAW ON RACIAL HARMONY Singapore will introduce a new Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act consolidating the Government’s powers to deal with racial issues. This comes after strains placed on race relations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracing the development of Singapore’s multiracial society, the Prime Minister stressed that racial harmony did not happen “spontaneously”, but took “hard work, sacrifice and wisdom”. While the real solution to racism is to change social attitudes, this takes time and effort, said Mr Lee, adding that legislation can play a role in that process. The law will include “some softer and gentler touches”, such as “the power to order someone who has caused offence to stop doing it, and to make amends by learning more about the other race and mending ties with them”, said Mr Lee. “This softer approach will heal hurt, instead of leaving resentment.” 6. NURSES ALLOWED TO WEAR THE TUDUNG Muslim nurses in the public healthcare sector will be allowed to wear a tudung with their uniforms from November. The Government had laid the ground for this announcement, with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in March indicating a likely change in the Government’s stance. On Sunday, Mr Lee said that after observations of interactions with Muslim women wearing the tudung, the Government was ready to change its position. “Specifically in hospitals, some of the non-uniformed staff do wear the tudung, and we saw that their relationship with patients and colleagues was alright,” he said. Calling it a “careful adjustment to keep our racial and religious harmony in good order”, Mr Lee said he hoped the move would be taken in the right spirit. 7. THE “CHINESE PRIVILEGE” DEBATE In his speech delivered in Mandarin, Mr Lee acknowledged the concessions made by Chinese Singaporeans to foster racial equality and harmony in the early years of nationhood. They included a shift to adopt English as the nation’s lingua franca so as to “put the ethnic minorities more at ease”, he said. “The use of English put those who spoke only Mandarin and dialects in a disadvantageous position. Therefore, it is entirely baseless to claim that there is ‘Chinese privilege’ in Singapore,” said the Prime Minister. But having lived through decades of peace, some Chinese Singaporeans may now take racial harmony for granted and be less sensitive to issues of race, he said. Raising the challenges that ethnic minorities face when renting homes or looking for jobs in Singapore, Mr Lee drew a distinction between “matters that concern our private lives and personal decisions” and “the common space that all races share and directly affect race relations”. “If we let the preferences of such employers and homeowners build up over time, they will become prejudice, and minorities will feel they are discriminated against,” said Mr Lee. “If left unaddressed, such preferences will gradually deepen the fissures in our society. Therefore, all of us must uphold the principle of racial equality to build a more inclusive society.” https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/national-day-rally-ndr-2021-workplace-discrimination-racial-harmony-2143201
From workplace discrimination to racial harmony: 7 things you need to know about NDR 2021  content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Aug 11, 2021
In Current Affairs
Jolibee Foods Corporation (JFC) is buying out its remaining partners in the fund that owns Michelin-starred dimsum restaurant Tim Ho Wan. JFC’s subsidiary, Jolibee Worldwide, will purchase the remaining 15 per cent owned by other investors in Titan Dining (the private equity fund that owns the Tim Ho Wan brand and stores). This represents S$71.56 million (US$52.7 million) of the shares. Tim Ho Wan operates 53 stores in Asia, including Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In Singapore, it has 10 outlets, serving popular dim sum delights including its baked BBQ pork buns, shrimp dumplings, and Hong Kong style egg tarts. JFC had in 2018 invested a S$45 million (US$33.1 million) sum to own a 45 per cent stake in Titan Dining. It then increased its stake to over 80 per cent after buying out other investors. The company has plans to aggressively expand Tim Ho Wan in mainland China with a target of reaching 100 restaurant outlets in the next four years. The Chinese food cuisine brand will join others managed by JFC, like fast-casual dining concept Chowking and Taiwanese food-inspired restaurant chain Yonghe King. JFC said sales have improved in the United States and are “well above” pre-pandemic levels, but sales in China and Southeast Asia are only just starting to improve. The group posted loses in 2020, as sales were impacted by the pandemic. https://www.msn.com/en-sg/money/startup/jolibee-buys-out-partners-to-fully-own-michelin-starred-dim-sum-chain-tim-ho-wan/ar-AANbbpm
Jolibee buys out partners to fully own Michelin-starred dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan content media
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Ah Sam Boi Boi
Aug 09, 2021
PSA: Fitness First will only reopen on 12 Aug content media
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