Thursday, 30 May 2019

Singapore the top country for children to grow up in: NGO report

Singapore has been ranked the best country in the world for a child to grow up healthy, educated and protected, with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

For the second year in a row, the annual Global Childhood Report, compiled by non-governmental organisation Save The Children, placed the nation at the top of a list of more than 170 countries.

Its latest End of Childhood index compares the latest data from 176 countries – more than any year before – and assesses where the most and fewest children are missing out on vital aspects of childhood.

“The United States, China and Russia may be the three most powerful countries in the world – in terms of their economic, military and technological strength and global influence – but all three badly trail most of Western Europe in helping children reach their full potential,” noted the report.


Singapore overtakes US, Hong Kong to be world’s most competitive economy

Singapore is the world’s most competitive economy in a yearly ranking of 63 economies released on Wednesday (May 29) by Switzerland-based research group IMD World Competitiveness Centre.

Singapore’s return to the top spot – its first time since 2010 – was due to an advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labour, favourable immigration laws and efficient ways to set up new businesses, the report said.

Hong Kong – the only other Asian economy in the overall top 10 – held on to the second spot due to a benign tax and business policy environment, as well as access to business finance.

The United States, which was last year’s leader, slipped to the third position.

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No record of Singapore importing Thai pineapples containing cyclamic acid: SFA

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said on Tuesday (May 28) that a brand of frozen peeled pineapples from Thailand rumoured to contain cyclamic acid has not been imported here.

According to the SFA, cyclamic acid is a sweetening agent that is allowed for use in certain food products at levels specified in food regulations here.

However, the agency said that the use of the agent in frozen and chilled fruits is “not permitted in Singapore”.


My photo: Abstract - fan dancing

A public domain photo by me

Forum: Personal mobility journey must go on

In view of the recent spate of Forum letters on personal mobility devices (PMDs), I applaud policymakers for not taking the easy way out by going for an outright ban.

While this might immediately quell voices of dissent, it would prevent many others from ever benefiting from new micro-mobility options.

Technology will only move forward. Even if regulators cave in now, new micro-mobility alternatives will emerge in time to come. For example, the hoverboard that was mooted more than two decades ago in the movie Back To The Future could well become reality in the near term.

Should we as a society, continue to apply a carte blanche ban on all such devices?

Some writers also pointed to similar curbs in countries such as Germany as the way forward. In Germany, e-scooters will soon be allowed on roads but not pavements. However, what many reports failed to mention is the fact that cycling lanes in Germany are considered roads, and that there are increased fatalities resulting from accidents between cyclists and motorists. This number can only go up when the new e-scooter rules kick in.

In fact, I believe what Germany is doing is not all that different from Singapore. It has not banned e-scooters outright. It is also looking at building better infrastructure, possibly akin to Singapore's plans to build more cycling paths to better segregate mobility devices from pedestrians and cars.

E-scooters are a relatively new phenomenon here but, even then, laws have been swiftly passed to govern their specifications and usage to protect users and pedestrians. Regular reviews are undertaken by the authorities as well as the Active Mobility Advisory Panel to plug gaps and keep regulations up to date. This is supplemented by extensive public education. This approach is a robust and sustainable one.

We must continue to chart a new era of micro-mobility transportation that is not only safer for everyone, but also responsible to the environment, our city and our pockets.

I am confident that we will eventually get there, but it is inevitable that there will be some bumps along the way. Our culture of tolerance, graciousness and responsibility must always prevail and never erode. It is what makes us uniquely Singapore.

Denis Koh Teck Leong


You may want to read Forum: Evolution of active mobility in S'pore is encouraging

Technology: 5G could mean less time to flee a deadly hurricane, heads of NASA and NOAA warn

It has become increasingly clear that the wireless industry is trying to push the idea of speedy 5G wireless networks before the technology is actually ready. But until today, we had not realized that people’s lives might also be at stake.

As reported by The Washington Post and CNET, the heads of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warn the issue could set back the world’s weather forecasting abilities by 40 years — reducing our ability to predict the path of deadly hurricanes and the amount of time available to evacuate.

It is because one of the key wireless frequencies earmarked for speedy 5G millimeter wave networks - the 24 GHz band - happens to be very close to the frequencies used by microwave satellites to observe water vapor and detect those changes in the weather. They have the potential to interfere. And according to NASA and NOAA testimony, they could interfere to the point that it delays preparation for extreme weather events.