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Archive for Singapore

Newsline: Singapore Top Diplomat Says ‘Peace Dividend’ Is Over

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said growing defense spending, including by China and across Asia, is evidence a peace dividend after World War II that fueled global economic growth is largely over. “The last seven, eight decades of the peace dividend after the Second World War is over, and you’re going to see increased defense expenditure literally all over the world,” he said on Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin. “Certainly in the case of Europe, America still spends more than anyone else, several times more than even China.” (https://news.yahoo.com/singapore-top-diplomat-says-peace-022357124.html) Southeast Asia has grown more vocal over the prospect of a conflict in Asia amid fierce competition between the US and China, as Russia’s war in Ukraine further sours ties between global powers. The region’s concerns lie in the brewing tensions over Taiwan, and China’s military assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.

Newsline: Singapore’s Former Top Diplomat Warns to Not Underestimate China on Taiwan

Singapore’s former top diplomat warned on Monday that a conflict in Taiwan would trigger a strong Chinese response. Former Foreign Minister George Yeo told Bloomberg Television, without naming anyone, that “people” don’t understand just how deep an issue Taiwan is for China and underestimate the severity of a conflict if one were to come. Already fraught ties between the US and China have continued to deteriorate since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visited the self-governing island last month amid concerns a miscalculation could lead to conflict. “If there is conflict over Taiwan — let us say that China loses the first few battles, gets bloodied — it will evoke in the Chinese body politic a reaction as profound as that in the US of Pearl Harbor,” he said. “This is that serious, and people who do not know the history do not realize the game they’re playing.” “There are people who think that Taiwan is a card to be played,” Yeo said. “They don’t realize how serious this game is. For China, it’s deeply emotional.” (https://news.yahoo.com/singapore-ex-diplomat-warns-not-062145528.html) Since Pelosi’s visit, China has sent warplanes across the Taiwan Strait’s so-called median line almost daily, shrinking a buffer zone that has helped keep the peace for decades. The flights show how Beijing is attempting to use the visit to establish a lasting presence closer to Taiwan.

Newsline: Serial protestor outside US embassy in Singapore gets maximum jail term

A serial protestor who held illegal demonstrations nine times in six years was sentenced to a maximum jail term of 12 months, just 18 days after he was out of jail for similar offences. Yan Jun, a 46-year-old Singaporean, was also jailed an additional 53 days after he committed the latest offences during his remission order, according to a report by The Straits Times. He will serve an additional six months in jail as he was unable to pay the $5,000 fine imposed on him. (https://news.yahoo.com/serial-protestor-us-embassy-given-maximum-jail-term-144954106.html) On 12 June, Yan protested and displayed placards in front of the US embassy at Napier Road against the governments of Singapore, the US and Canada. He had also notified media outlets and some authorities ahead of his planned protest. In addition to the US embassy, Yan has demonstrated at locations including outside the Istana and Raffles Place MRT station since 2016. Among the individuals he has targeted during his protests include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, Court of Appeal Judge Chao Hick Tin, and Commissioner of Prisons Desmond Chin.

Newsline: 3 on trial in Singapore over graft charges involving Indonesian embassy worker

An Indonesian Embassy labour attache allegedly tasked a Singaporean freelance translator to look for insurance firms or agents willing to give them a share of the premiums linked to performance bond guarantees for Indonesian maids. A district court heard on Monday (Nov 4) that the insurance firms or agents would then allegedly receive accreditation from the embassy in return. James Yeo Siew Liang, 48, who represented AIG Asia Pacific Insurance and Liberty Insurance, is accused of agreeing to be part of the plan. He is accused of giving more than $21,000 in bribes to the translator, Abdul Aziz Mohamed Hanib, 64. Yeo is also said to have given more than $71,000 to the labour attache, Agus Ramdhany Machjumi, who is no longer in Singapore. (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/3-on-trial-over-graft-charges-involving-embassy-worker-and-bond-guarantees) The court heard that Aziz allegedly found Yeo through an intermediary, Benjamin Chow Tuck Keong, 56, who was a corporate development director of a firm dealing with organic products. According to court documents, Chow did not give or receive any money. Aziz, Yeo and Chow are on trial, with Aziz and Yeo facing more than 15 graft-related charges each and Chow, one.

Newsline: Czech Republic to have embassy in Singapore

The Czech government approved the establishment of a new embassy in Singapore and diplomats will start work as of January 2020, local media reported. (http://www.china.org.cn/world/2019-08/27/content_75142165.htm) So far, Czech interests in Singapore have been represented by the embassy in Indonesia and there was a Czech honorary consul in Singapore. In January this year, Prime Minister Andrej Babis visited Singapore. Calling Singapore trade center of Southeast Asia, Babis said the Czech Republic needs to have a full-fledged representation in the country.

Newsline: Indonesian Embassy staff member implicated in Singapore’s bribery case

Three Singaporeans, including an insurance agent, were charged in the State Courts yesterday over their alleged roles in a bribery case linked to performance bond guarantees for Indonesian maids. Freelance translator Abdul Aziz Mohamed Hanib, 63, is accused of collecting more than $92,000 in bribes for himself and Mr Agus Ramdhany Machjumi, an administrative and technical staff member at the Indonesian Embassy. In a statement, Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said Abdul Aziz, a Singaporean, allegedly received $71,200 from insurance agent James Yeo Siew Liang, 47. The alleged offence took place between March and June this year, court documents said. It was purportedly a reward for Mr Agus to show favour to AIG Asia Pacific Insurance and Liberty Insurance, two firms Yeo represented. Court documents stated that as a result, the Indonesian Embassy accredited both insurance companies as performance bond providers. The Straits Times had reported that since April this year, employers hiring a new Indonesian maid have been asked to purchase a performance bond guarantee from insurers approved by the embassy, which requires a one-off $70 payment. Under the terms of the bond guarantee, employers have to pay $6,000 if they breach a standard employment contract issued by the Indonesian Embassy. In its statement, the CPIB said the Indonesian Embassy was not complicit in the corruption offences. The CPIB added: “There is currently no evidence to suggest that AIG Asia Pacific Insurance and Liberty Insurance were complicit in the corruption offences.


Newsline: Two South Korean media staff arrested at North Korean ambassador’s home in Singapore

Two South Korean media staff have been arrested for trespassing at the home of the North Korean ambassador to Singapore, police said on Friday, just days before a high-stakes summit between the U.S. and North Korean leaders in the city-state. Police said the men arrested were from the Korean Broadcasting System News (KBS News), while a third man from the broadcaster and a fourth who was acting as a guide and interpreter were also under investigation. “Two South Korean men, aged 42 and 45, who were representing the Korean Broadcasting System News (KBS), were arrested,” police said in a Facebook post. KBS said in an emailed statement it was ready to take any action Singapore authorities deemed necessary.


Newsline: ‘Popiah King’ Sam Goi appointed Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Brazil

Businessman Sam Goi, also known as Singapore’s “popiah king”, has been appointed the country’s non-resident ambassador to Brazil, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced on Friday (Apr 20). The post was last held by former Keppel CEO Choo Chiau Beng, who was Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Brazil from 2004 to 2016. Mr Goi, his replacement, is currently the executive chairman of global food group Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing and regional real estate developer GSH Corporation. According to Forbes, the self-made entrepreneur has a net worth of US$2.1 billion (S$2.76 billion) and Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing, which he owns, is the world’s largest maker of popiah skins.


Newsline: Colombian embassy condemns Singapore bar named after drug lord

A bar named after Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar found itself in a tricky situation after the Embassy of Colombia in Singapore and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) took issue with its theme. The embassy confirmed that it had sent an official note to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to denounce the three-week-old nightspot named Escobar in China Square Central. The venue features themes related to the late Colombian, who led the Medellin drug cartel known for its cocaine trade. A CNB spokesperson said that the manner in which Pablo Escobar’s name and image are being used to promote the bar is highly objectionable and runs counter to Singapore’s zero-tolerance approach towards drugs and to the Government’s efforts in preventive drug education. While the embassy declined to disclose its official note to the bar, a report on Yahoo Singapore’s site quoted the embassy saying in the note that the bar would confuse customers and justify criminal actions, and undermine the work that the successive governments have been endeavouring. The embassy also took issue with the way the bar had modelled itself after the Netflix drama series Narcos, and asked the Singapore Government to give due attention to its concern and take necessary actions to reverse this harmful image.


Newsline: South Korea’s ambassador to Singapore ‘sacked’

South Korea’s ambassador to Singapore Lee Sang Deok has abruptly returned to Seoul, reportedly dismissed from his post for his leading role in a controversial 2015 settlement of the “comfort women” issue with Japan. A check by The Straits Times on the South Korean embassy’s website showed that the “ambassador’s greetings” page, which usually contains a message from the top diplomat, is under maintenance. Confirming Mr Lee’s departure, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) yesterday said he was asked to return permanently to Seoul on Monday, with no further duties assigned to him, The Korea Times reported. Mr Lee had been due to serve until April 2019. Mofa did not disclose the reason behind his sudden exit.