Saturday, June 30, 2018

Two dead, three injured in traffic accident at Causeway on Saturday morning, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Two dead, three injured in traffic accident at Causeway on Saturday morning, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Two dead, three injured in traffic accident at Causeway on Saturday morning

SINGAPORE - Two people died and three were injured in a traffic accident involving a trailer, lorry and three motorcycles at the Causeway on Saturday (June 30).

A 30-year-old trailer driver has been arrested for suspected drink driving, while a 23-year-old lorry driver, who was one of the injured, has been arrested for allegedly causing death by rash act. 

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call for an ambulance at 1am from Woodlands Causeway Bridge.

It dispatched three ambulances and one fire engine to the scene.

Paramedics pronounced one 21-year-old man dead at the scene, SCDF said.

In response to queries, a police spokesman said three men - a 23-year-old lorry driver, 37-year-old motorcyclist and 42-year-old motorcyclist - were sent to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The 42-year-old motorcyclist was unconscious when he was sent to the hospital, and subsequently died from his injuries, added the spokesman. 

According to the SCDF, a fourth man received minor abrasions and did not want to be taken to the hospital. 

The Straits Times understands that all the men involved are Malaysians, apart from the 42-year-old motorcyclist, who is a Singapore permanent resident. 

Police investigations are ongoing, said the spokesman. 

The accident caused departure lanes at Woodlands checkpoint to be closed temporarily.

A Facebook post by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) at 2.30am advised travellers to use Tuas checkpoint.

In an update at 4.55am, it said that two out of three departure lanes had reopened.

It advised travellers to check One Motoring website before embarking on their journey.

[30 June, 8.00am] All Departure lanes at the Causeway have re-opened and operations at Woodlands checkpoint have resumed normalcy. We would like to thank travellers for their cooperation.

— ICA (@ICASingapore)

Massive jam at Woodlands Checkpoint. All buses diverted! Had to walk from Woodlands Train Checkpoint to bus stop opp former Woodlands Town Garden (now Marsiling Park) to ride bus service 178 that is enroute to Boon Lay. Thanks to the driver for helping me! @LTAsg @SMRT_Singapore

— #DirtyAt30 (@hanafiehallil)

At 8am, some seven hours after SCDF received a call about the accident, ICA said that all departure gates had opened and normal operations at Woodlands checkpoint had resumed.

Photos and videos of the accident posted on social media showed a lorry crashing across the road divider and into traffic travelling in the opposite direction. Visuals of the aftermath of the accident also showed a string of motorcycles strewn along the road, with a motorcycle underneath a lorry. 

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TODAYonline | Islamic community ‘must act to counter growing influence of Salafism’

TODAYonline | Islamic community 'must act to counter growing influence of Salafism'

Islamic community 'must act to counter growing influence of Salafism'

SINGAPORE — Expressing concerns that Salafism — a purist and conservative brand of Islam — has the tendency to promote intolerance, religious studies' experts nevertheless said on Monday (June 18) that it is up to the Islamic community to counter hardline teachings instead of relying on the authorities to step in.

Professor Maarten Bruinessen, a visiting academic at the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute (MEI), was speaking at a panel in conjunction with a book launch held at the Yale-NUS College. The book, titled Salafism in Lebanon: Local and Transnational Movements, was authored by Dr Zoltan Pall, who was also on the panel and is an MEI research fellow.

Prof Bruinessen said that for decades, "Arabisation" — or the propagation of Saudi Arabia's Islamic doctrines — has been going on in the Middle East and South-east Asia.

The influence of those doctrines, in particular Salafism, became "more prominent" following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which was a move by the Saudis to halt Iran's attempt to spread its revolution across the Middle East, he added.

Within South-east Asia, Salafist influence intensified in the last 20 to 25 years, given the increasing number of Muslim students who pursue their Islamic studies in universities in Saudi Arabia.

Photo: Najeer Yusof/TODAY

"So, they become indoctrinated. Salafism is intolerant of other ideas and opinions. It propagates that it's not good to be Indonesian-Muslim, for example. It is better to be Arab-Muslim," Prof Bruinessen explained.

In recent years, Salafism has come under scrutiny, with its supporters conducting acts of violence and promoting a political Islam.

In 2011, its followers were responsible for attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Egypt. Then, in the last few years, some European countries, including Germany, have conducted crackdowns on the movement, which they see as trying to topple Western governments.

Other experts have noted that Salafism is often associated with the ideology of terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and Islamic State, despite the adherents of the sect condemning such association. For example, popular televangelist Zakir Naik, jailed radical Muslim preacher Anjem Choudary, and Ismail Menk (the Mufti of Zimbabwe) all belong to the Salafi sect.

Mufti Menk had infamously denounced a Muslim wishing a non-Muslim friend "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Deepavali/Diwali" as "the highest form of blasphemy".

The ideology of Salafism is rooted in a narrow definition of religious text, similar to another conservative doctrine known as Wahhabism. Followers of both doctrines believe that any other teachings outside the religious texts are considered heresy or blasphemy.

However, scholars have pointed out that Wahhabism, which came to existence from the mid-18th century, is a permutation of Salafism, which has existed for centuries.

Dr Pall said that another reason why Salafist teachings have gained traction is because of its uncomplicated nature. "They are based on what can be found in the religious texts. So, Salafism is a way that is black-and-white or clear-cut, and this appeals to people who want simple answers to religion."

While both Prof Bruinessen and Dr Pall acknowledged that Salafism is seen as promoting intolerance, they cautioned against "exaggerating" its role. Intolerance, they added, is due to a confluence of factors that include economic and social practices.

Given the concerns over Salafism, there have been calls for government interference, but Dr Pall noted that it could be counter-productive if they are just a "simplistic ban of Salafist materials".

Prof Bruinessen argued that it is important for the Islamic community to adopt a philosophical approach when it comes to Islamic education, saying that "a contest of ideas" is needed in order for individuals to be more informed.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 11, 2018

Trump and Kim can learn a lot from Singapore: US economist Tyler Cowen, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Trump and Kim can learn a lot from Singapore: US economist Tyler Cowen, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Trump and Kim can learn a lot from Singapore: US economist Tyler Cowen

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are spending such a short amount of time in Singapore this week.

Maybe they should stick around longer to see what makes its economy tick.

Singapore is an especially wealthy nation, with a per capita income of about US$90,000 (S$120,000), well above that of the United States.

But how is this prosperity maintained, and why has Singapore commanded so much admiration from liberals and conservatives alike?

Singapore has many features shared by other wealthy countries, such as a high capital stock, a predictable legal environment and a well-educated workforce, but what are some of the less common factors behind its success?

Strikingly, Singapore is one of the few countries where there is brain drain into the public sector. This stems partly from the high salaries paid.

Top bureaucrats typically receive more than their American equivalents, and Cabinet level pay may exceed US$800,000, with bonuses attached that can double that sum for excellent performance.

Yet it is not just about the money.

Since independence in 1965, Singaporean leaders have cultivated an ethos of public service in the bureaucracy.

The country moved from being relatively corrupt to having one of the best ratings on transparency indexes. There are now complex and overlapping incentives whereby top public sector workers are paid well, respected highly, and develop the personal networks for subsequent advancement in either the public or private sectors.

I've met a number of times with Singaporean government officials, and I've always been impressed with their state-of-the-art social science knowledge.

The participants typically have top educational backgrounds (doctorates from Harvard or Princeton are common, and now two of Singapore's universities have achieved world class status). Their analysis is pragmatically geared towards finding the right answer or at least a workable solution.

I view the development of Singaporean civil service culture as one of the world's great managerial and political success stories of the last 50 years, though it remains understudied and underdiscussed in the West.

Singapore also mixes many of the virtues of both small and big government.

The high quality of the civil service means the country gets "good government", which pleases many liberals and progressives.

The high quality of the decision-making means Singapore often looks to market incentives - congestion pricing for the roads is one example of many - which pleases conservatives and libertarians.

Singapore's health-care system has been praised by both liberals and conservatives.

The country has some of the world's best health outcomes, while spending only about 5 per cent of gross-domestic product on the medical sector, as compared with more than 17 per cent in the US. A statist perspective would emphasise that the government owns most of the hospitals, but market-oriented economists would stress that the hospitals are instructed to compete with one another.

Is Singapore a small government or a big government country?

The correct answer is both.

Government spending is about 17 per cent of GDP, which makes it look small and helps hold down taxes, which is good for business and productivity. (And there are no additional state and local governments.)

But if you look at stocks rather than flows, the government owns shares in many critical Singapore businesses, plus it de facto controls lucrative sovereign wealth funds.

The government claims ownership of the land, although it allows for active markets for transferring rights of use. All of these resources give the government the ability and credibility to get things done.

One of the most common caricatures of Singapore is as an authoritarian state where you can be tossed in jail for chewing gum.

The government does still regulate chewing gum, in part because it was being used to jam the sensors on subway doors.

But is this so different from a wide array of proscribed substances and public health regulations elsewhere?

These days, it is best to think of Singapore as a democracy with legitimate elections, although it is a democracy with some restrictions on political entry and political speech (attacking political figures by name and character can lead to expensive libel suits).

The most significant barrier to entry probably is that the dominant political party, the People's Action Party, has amassed so much talent, and is such a vehicle for career advancement, that potential competitors find it hard to mount serious challenges.

There are also plenty of American states and cities where a single party has a dominant, persistent advantage.

Overall, I see the government of Singapore as more responsive to public opinion than the federal government in the US, or for that matter the European Union.

You don't have to approve of everything that goes on in Singapore to grasp what a unique and successful blend of political and economics the nation has created.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, June 1, 2018

Cracks on Adam Road cause 'massive' traffic jams - Channel NewsAsia

Cracks on Adam Road cause 'massive' traffic jams - Channel NewsAsia

Cracks on Adam Road cause 'massive' traffic jams

Road crack on Adam Road
A crack appears on Adam Road causing jams on Friday morning (Jun 1), seen in this photo circulating on social media.
(Updated: )


SINGAPORE: Cracks on Adam Road caused a "massive" traffic jam in the area, as well as along Lornie Road on Friday morning (Jun 1).

The road was partially closed for about two hours while it was being repaired.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement that it discovered the cracks at about 8am on Friday along a stretch of Adam Road towards Queensway after the MacRitchie Flyover.

Motorists were warned in the morning via the Expressway Monitoring Advisory System (EMAS) that there was a "massive jam" on Adam Road due to an "uneven road".

A video and photo sent to Channel NewsAsia showed a large crack across two lanes and depressions on the road before the entrance to the Pan-Island Expressway on Adam Road.

Motorist Augustine Low, 33, said that the traffic jam appeared to begin from Braddell Road and extended until Adam Road.

"It took me about 20 minutes on a motorcycle to clear the road. Normally it takes me five minutes," Mr Low told Channel NewsAsia. 

"Two out of four lanes were immediately closed to facilitate repairs," confirmed an LTA spokesperson.

LTA also posted updates on their social media accounts warning motorists of heavy traffic on Adam Road because of an "obstacle".

Obstacle on Adam Road (towards Queensway) after MacRitchie viaduct

— LTATrafficNews (@LTAtrafficnews)

SBS Transit cautioned commuters that bus services like 52, 74, 93, 157, 165, 852 were delayed along Adam Road towards Queensway due to "urgent roadworks".

Please be informed that Services 52, 74, 93, 157, 165, 852 are delayed along Adam Road towards Queensway due to urgent road works.

— SBS Transit (@SBSTransit_Ltd)

LTA later added that all the lanes were re-opened to the public at around 9.55am after it was deemed to be "safe for use". It also said investigations into the cause of the crack are ongoing.

lta fixed road
An image showing the repaired road on Adam Road after a large crack appeared earlier on Friday (Jun 1) morning. (Photo: LTA)


In a media statement on Friday evening, the LTA said that the cracks were caused by water that had accumulated at the roadside due to heavy rain and were not due to nearby construction works. 

"The built-up pressure from the water caused the temporary section of the road to heave, thus resulting in the cracks on the road surface," LTA said, adding that the cracks "do not pose any structural risks". 

LTA Adam Road cracks illustration

The authority also said the water had been drained before re-opening the lanes. 

"To prevent any further similar incidents, LTA's contractor has implemented preventative measures to ensure water is drained away at all times to reduce the risk of accumulation of water at the road side," LTA said. 

This story came from a reader tip-off. If you would like to send in photos or videos of something newsworthy, WhatsApp our Mediacorp news hotline at +65 8218 8281 or message us on Facebook.

Sent from my iPhone