Saturday, 17 August 2019

Singaporeans advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong: MFA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a travel advisory advising Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong as "increasingly unpredictable" protests continue to take place across the city.

“There have been large-scale protests taking place across Hong Kong since June 2019 which have become increasingly unpredictable. These protests can take place with little or no notice and could turn violent,” the MFA said on Friday (Aug 16).

Recent protests have even affected operations at Hong Kong airport, with many flights cancelled and travellers stranded on Aug 12 and Aug 13, the ministry noted.

"Singaporeans are thus advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong, given current developments.

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Charities watchdog suspends Crisis Centre Singapore from conducting fund-raising appeals

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) on Thursday (Aug 15) suspended all charitable fund-raising appeals conducted by Crisis Centre (Singapore) for a period of six months.

The suspension order, issued under the Charities Act, will take effect on Thursday, the COC said in a press statement.

"Investigations to date have raised serious concerns about the charity’s governance, record-keeping practices and ability to be accountable to its donors."

The COC said that suspension was imposed to "safeguard the public interest" pending further investigations.

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Forum: Integration cannot be forced

Singaporeans must anticipate the social problems that may arise before they fester on the ground and lead us astray (Integration of new Singaporeans is key, by Dr Thomas Lee Hock Seng, ST Online, Aug 13).

When many new immigrants arrive within a short period of time, there will be an impact on the existing way of life.

Our sensitive social composition makes us particularly susceptible to external influences that may fracture our hard-won harmony.

We have been brought up to be friendly and considerate to others. But it cannot be that such ingrained attitudes make us beholden to those who have no intention of being one of us.

We need foreigners to keep our economy abuzz and we welcome those who can make worthy contributions.

But they should not believe that they are doing us a favour. Both the host country and immigrants have much to gain.

We cannot force integration. It takes all sides to come out of their comfort zones to make it work. Short of pretending that all is well, we must anticipate social problems that may arise lest we begin a painful process of disintegration, not integration.

We must ask some tough questions. Are we worthy of patronage if not for the pay cheques and study grants we dish out to foreigners? When the need arises, who will stay to defend this land? And is it worth fighting for?

Lee Teck Chuan


Skeletal 70-year-old elephant mistreated in Sri Lanka, alleges animal foundation

A photo shared by the Save Elephant Foundation showed an elephant with its ribs and other bones clearly visible, and a chain wrapped around its leg.

According to the foundation, Tikiri was made to walk "many kilometres" for ten consecutive nights amidst noise, fireworks and smoke as part of the annual Buddhist festival’s celebrations in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The Save Elephant Foundation has called for people to write to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe, asking him to release Tikiri and bring about the "end of this cruelty".


Scientists find microplastic in the Arctic

Tiny pieces of plastic have been found in ice cores drilled in the Arctic by a US-led team of scientists, underscoring the threat pollution poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.

The researchers used a helicopter to land on ice floes and retrieve the samples during an 18-day icebreaker expedition through the Northwest Passage, the hazardous route linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

"We had spent weeks looking out at what looks so much like pristine white sea ice floating out on the ocean," said Mr Jacob Strock, a graduate student researcher at the University of Rhode Island, who conducted an initial onboard analysis of the cores.

"When we look at it up close and we see that it's all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools - it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut," he told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.