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US badly needs masks, but reluctant to get N95 alternative from China – – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

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The United States is facing a mask shortage at the moment after getting caught in the fast-spreading Covid-19 pandemic.

The rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country makes the problem an acute one.

As of Tuesday, March 31, the U.S. has reported a total of 163,539 infections, and 2,860 deaths.

The country has even overtaken China with the most number of reported cases on March 27.

Medical workers severely lack masks & other protective gear

Healthcare professionals working on the frontline, overwhelmed with the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country, have resorted to reusing protective gear such as masks and eye masks, Vox reported.

Some have even turned to makeshift equipment to replace masks and protective suits.

A nurse who works in the city of Chicago was also pushed to the brink after she was forced to make a decision between working mask-less — her hospital did not allow staff to wear their own masks — and not working at all.

She eventually chose the latter for her own safety.

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I chose 𝓂𝓎 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒 today… ⠀ & my family members who have pre-existing conditions that wouldn’t get a ventilator if they contracted #COVID19 from me ⠀ I had a different idea in mind when I got to my #ICU this morning; I expected to see ALL OF OUR #NURSES & STAFF wearing #N95 masks but 𝙣𝙤 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝘼𝙉𝙔𝙏𝙃𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙊𝙉… ⠀ Each ICU room had ‘make-shift’ ante-rooms attached to them created with plastic tarp & massive amounts of tape.. ⠀ A charge Nurse was passing out single N95 masks to nurses with a brown paper bag for them to store their mask in which was to be in inside their plastic ante-rooms & to 𝙗𝙚 𝙧𝙚-𝙪𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙧𝙚-𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙙𝙖𝙮… ⠀ I asked “well what if there’s possible contamination to that N95 mask..? What about my safety” ⠀ My manager told me “well our staff safety is our main priority right now … if we get enough masks, we may consider having staff wear surgical masks in the weeks to come..” ⠀ I replied, “But it’s Airborne… those surgical masks won’t protect us ..” ⠀ My manager then tells me “ we’ve kept up with the CDC & it is only when the COVID patient has any aerosol type treatments like a ventilator, nasal cannula, nebulizer etc that’s it’s airborne..otherwise it’s droplet ..” ⠀ I replied “& 90% of our patients are intubated, paralyzed, & positive for COVID.. people not even in the hospital environment are spreading it .. we have to assume everyone is infected..especially in the hospital environment, & 𝕟𝕠 𝕠𝕟𝕖 𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕖 𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕟 𝕙𝕒𝕤 𝕒 𝕕𝕣𝕠𝕡𝕝𝕖𝕥 𝕞𝕒𝕤𝕜 𝕠𝕟” ⠀ I then told her of nurses wearing a surgical droplet masks on their units & now intubated & fighting for their lives … ⠀ Tears were streaming down my face & fog in my glasses at this point.. ⠀ I thought to myself.. 𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘰𝘳 𝘣𝘶𝘺 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴, 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘴..? ⠀ I asked one last time pleading with tears in my eyes.. ⠀ “Can I please just wear 𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐍𝟗𝟓 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐤… I understand we have a shortage but I have my OWN ” ⠀ My manager told me that they couldn’t allow me to wear it. ⠀ So I gave report, & left. ⠀ America is NOT prepared & Nurses are NOT safe. Plz DM me any telehealth jobs.

A post shared by ❥ Imaris | Nursing & Lifestyle (@nurse.iv) on Mar 30, 2020 at 5:43pm PDT

The situation is so bad a doctor in New Jersey said going to work now is like sending “lambs to the slaughterhouse”.

Refuses to import readily-available alternative from China

Despite the drastic lack of masks, the U.S. federal government has refused to import an alternative to the N95 masks that is in abundance — the KN95 masks, which are largely manufactured in China.

The KN95 functions like the N95 mask, and is said by the American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be as effective as the latter.

The CDC has also listed the KN95 mask as one of the “suitable alternatives” when it comes to providing protection during the Covid-19 response when “supplies are short”.

However, KN95 masks cannot be legally imported by American hospitals as they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

And in spite of the pressing need for masks, the FDA had failed to include KN95 masks from China in an emergency authorisation for non-N95 masks, BuzzFeed News pointed out.

Other alternatives from countries and regions, such as Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, were approved instead.

People fundraising to get masks to hospitals

But mask importers are at work to get KN95 masks to hospitals as donations, which are accepted.

To do this, fundraisers and volunteer organisations navigate “a newly formed unofficial grey market”, Vox reported.

The U.S. has also accepted donations of N95 masks, gloves, gowns, and other medical supplies from China, The New York Times reported.

The supplies, however, will barely meet the need of what American hospitals need.

China responds

China has responded to the FDA’s rejection of China-made KN95 masks.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Wednesday, April 1, that while the certification standards of medical supplies can vary across countries, it should not be stopping them from cooperating to fight against the viral outbreak, Xinhua reported.

She also said she does not know why the U.S. had chosen to reject the masks.

Previously, in a pointed remark made by another Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, on March 20, China had also suggested for others not to use “made in China” masks should they believe China-made goods are contaminated with the virus.

Avoid ‘Made In China’ masks if you believe China-made goods contaminated with Covid-19, China says

The comment was likely referring to China’s ability to manufacture the masks that the U.S. currently needs.

U.S.-China tensions continuing

The U.S. and China could not be any more different now in terms of where they stand with regards to the pandemic.

While China is now in a position to help others, with Chinese President Xi Jinping recently pushing for a “health silk road”, U.S. President Donald Trump is under pressure domestically for his perceived mishandling of the crisis.

Critics said his response to the viral outbreak was slow and dismissive.

He was also slammed for sending medical supplies to China in early February, in a sign of a lack of preparation for the pandemic that was to come.

And while Trump had stopped using the term “Chinese virus”, and spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the phone, indicating a deescalation of tensions between the two major countries, his administration had kept up the hostility towards China.

US & China pledge to set aside differences, work together to fight Covid-19

For instance, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had accused China of spreading disinformation about the pandemic, avoiding responsibility and confusing the world about the originator of the virus.

US & British govts can’t deal with Covid-19 effectively as their populations don’t trust them

Top image by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

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11 cases, including 102-year-old resident, linked to new cluster at Thomson old aged home – – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

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Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates on Covid-19: https://t.me/mothershipsg

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced 74 new cases of the Covid-19 infection on Apr. 1, bringing the total number of cases in Singapore to 1,000.

10 of the newly confirmed cases (Cases 973, 976, 983, 984, 985, 986, 987, 988, 989 and 990) are linked to a previous case (Case 918), forming a new cluster at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home (1 Thomson Lane).

The first reported case at the home is a 86-year-old resident.

The new cases announced on Apr. 1 range from a 42-year-old Singapore Work Pass holder from India, to a 102-year-old Singapore Citizen.

A handful of other patients are in their 80s.

Home closed to visitors

On Mar. 31, the home announced that they have conducted “thorough cleaning and disinfection of the ward and affected areas” after being informed by MOH.

This is in addition to the daily precautions such as temperature taking and increased environmental cleaning.

Both Thomson and Silat Homes will not be allowing any visitors until Apr. 30, 2020.

The institution added that they are working closely with MOH and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to identify staff and residents who may have been in close contact with the affected resident.

Staff who may be affected will not be allowed to work.

Top image via Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home on Facebook

About Mandy How

Mandy is a pantry rat. She eats everything in the pantry (except other people’s food).

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3 cases linked to new cluster at Sungei Kadut Loop dormitory – – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

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Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates on Covid-19: https://t.me/mothershipsg

The Ministry of Health reported a new cluster at 55 Sungei Kadut Loop on Apr. 1.

Singapore has also hit 1,000 confirmed cases on the same day.

According to the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) directory, the building is registered to TENDA Equipment & Services Pte Ltd.

Total of three confirmed cases

Two of the confirmed cases (Cases 972 and 974) reported today are linked to a previous case (Case 868), forming a new cluster at a dormitory located at 55 Sungei Kadut Loop.

Case 868 is a 29-year-old male Bangladeshi who was admitted to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. He was confirmed to have Covid-19 on Mar. 29.

Case 972

Case 972 is a 28-year-old male Bangladeshi, who is a long term pass holder and the case is locally linked to Case 868.

Case 974

Case 974 is a 30-year-old male Bangladeshi, who is a long term pass holder and the case is locally linked to Case 868.

Both cases have been admitted to National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

Top screenshots via Google Maps

About Sumita Thiagarajan

Sumita dreams of a world where humans live in perfect harmony with animals, including rats, pigeons and cockroaches. If you’re bored, you can always ask Sumita to tell you cool facts about our native snakes, or bomb-sniffing hero rats.

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No visitors at all S’pore nursing homes for rest of April 2020 – – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

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Visitors will be disallowed at all nursing homes in Singapore from Thursday, April 2 until April 30.

This was following the emergence of a new cluster at a nursing home on Wednesday, April 1.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) said that nursing homes with more than 200 beds will also begin to implement split-zones.

This occurred after the announcement of the new cluster at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, which is linked to 11 cases.

There will be safe distancing for all nursing home residents, and caregivers will be allowed to communicate with nursing home residents through telephone or video calls.

MOH and AIC also said nursing home staff should not turn up for work if they feel unwell.

MOH will review the situation again closer to the end of the month.

Top photo via

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce “tchotchke”.

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All 7 confirmed Covid-19 cases from Hero’s bar cluster are non-S’poreans, latest case is Cameroonian – – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

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Hero’s, a sports bar located at 69 Circular Road, emerged as a new cluster on March. 30, as announced by the Ministry of Health.

Currently, as of April 1, it has seven confirmed cases.

All seven individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 are foreigners.

The first case was Case 192, from the United States, who was confirmed on March 13.

The latest case to be confirmed is Case 940, a Cameroonian, who was confirmed on April 1.

Details:

Case 192: Male, 32, confirmed on March 13, warded at NCID from US

Case 556: Female 27, confirmed March 24, warded at NCID, from Australia, Singapore Work Pass holder

Case 657: Male, 46, confirmed on March 25, warded at NCID, from UK, Singapore Work Pass holder

Case 670: Male, 34, confirmed on March 26, warded at NCID, from Australia, Singapore Work Pass holder

Case 714: Female, 27, confirmed on March 26, warded at NCID, from South Korea, Singapore Work Pass holder, contact of Case 670

Case 813: Female, 29, confirmed on March 28, warded at SGH, from UK Singapore Work Pass holder

Case 940: Male, 36, confirmed March 31, warded at NUH, from Cameroon, local linked to Hero’s

How spread might have occurred

After Case 192 was confirmed on March 13, cases 556, 657, 670 and 813 went to the same bar on March 14.

They reported onset of symptoms between March 17 to 23.

Case 556 link between Hero’s and Dover Court International School

Contact tracers have since established links between two Covid-19 clusters in Singapore: Dover Court International School (DCIS) cluster and Hero’s bar cluster.

This was revealed in a press conference on March 31 by the Health Ministry’s Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak.

The DCIS cluster was identified by MOH on March 25.

The DCIS cluster currently has eight cases: 556, 618, 626, 662, 686, 713, 729 and 761.

The linking case in both clusters is Case 556.

Case 556 is a teacher at DCIS.

Top photo via

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The best antimalware/AV for industrial IoT (IIoT) in 2020: Darktrace

Historically, when CISOs thought about cybersecurity, they typically prioritized implementing measures for software systems over those for physical assets. But the threat landscape has rapidly evolved over the past few years, and a new kind of threat is on the rise. Sophisticated attackers have set their eyes on a different type of target: the technology systems that support manufacturing, energy generation, and transportation. CISOs are now held responsible not only for securing the digital business, but also its physical infrastructure. And as Operational Technology (OT) becomes more and more digitized, from the advent of AI-powered cranes to automated trains, this challenge has become nearly insurmountable.

Our new reality is that physical assets are just as susceptible to cyber-attacks as their purely digital counterparts and demand just as much protection. Indeed, if hacked successfully, OT systems are capable of generating far more considerable damage than a standard hijacked IT device; the potential carnage arising from unauthorized access to a nuclear power plant hardly needs to be spelled out. And with the digitalization of a host of industrial technologies continuing apace, the number of entry points for cyber-criminals increases, making the situation even more fraught.

A growing number of workspaces are now leveraging new and interesting applications of intelligence-powered, connected devices. According to the World Economic Forum, there are already 21 billion IoT devices worldwide; by 2025, this number is predicted to have doubled. Unsurprisingly, the industrial sector is one of the principal beneficiaries, using smart devices in an array of forms, from monitoring machinery to facilitating the production flow. Even oil rigs have gone digital, streamlining and partially automating operations.

IoT has precipitated such efficiency and cost-saving benefits, making it a savvy investment for many organizations. But, the unfortunate counterpoint to smart technologies’ proliferation is the exponential widening of the attack surface, leaving companies more vulnerable than ever before.

To protect these deployments, organizations need a smart cybersecurity solution that is capable of neutralizing all types of cyber-threat across both OT and IT systems.

Many companies facing the challenge of defending both cyber and physical infrastructure have turned to Darktrace, a world-leading cyber AI company, for the answer. Using an ‘immune system’ approach to cybersecurity, its technology works by learning the unique ‘DNA’ of each organization. Through a combination of unsupervised and deep learning techniques, the cyber AI understands ‘normal’ for every user, device, and container across both IT and OT environments – enabling it to detect deviations indicative of a threat in real-time.

Operative in industrial environments, Darktrace monitors this sense of normal across both OT and IT networks, observing the entire digital business in one, unified view. Technology, industry, and protocol agnostic, Darktrace’s Industrial Immune System is adaptable to both the newest and oldest technological devices. Everything from the latest after-market sensors, through to the “traditional” attenuators are protected.

Such contextual knowledge of the entire digital estate enables the identification of the most subtle indicators of threat. With Darktrace’s module Antigena, the AI goes one step further, autonomously responding to threats at machine speed, and neutralizing them in their tracks. Antigena’s surgical precision means that only malicious activity is stopped – normal business actions are free to continue, even on infected devices or systems.

These capabilities are vital for the business continuity of Industrial Control Systems – downtime is not an option. Continually examining the digital environment, Darktrace can take action against emerging threats as soon as they occur. And with the cyber AI’s evolving understanding of ordinary, these anomalies are always current and relevant.

This means that ROI is protected by the most up-to-date technology and digital insights, so malware cannot take over or jeopardize what are, in some cases, multi-million-dollar investments.

In turn, uptimes are maximized, and productivity can be guaranteed, as no malware is allowed into any part of the network, from remote installations to main facilities. Thanks to cyber AI, Darktrace can detect and contain the silent threats that consistently bypass traditional defense mechanisms.

Already protecting industrial environments around the world, from Drax, the UK’s leading power infrastructure company, to King’s Hawaiian, a favorite US food manufacturer, Darktrace is at the forefront of industrial cyber defense.

To learn more about Darktrace Industrial, and understand its specific features in the context of your environment, visit the Darktrace website today.

Darktrace

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Despite incurring S$500,000 costs for 1-month closure, Teo Heng KTV studio boss continues to pay employees salary – – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

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All bars and entertainment outlets have been forced to close from March 26 to April 30 as they have been classified as places with high risks of spreading Covid-19.

Safe distancing: All bars, clubs, cinemas & tuition centres in S’pore to close from Mar. 26, 2020

While the regulation serves as an enhanced measure against the spread of Covid-19, it has dealt a blow to many local businesses.

Teo Heng pays 100 over employees salaries during month-long closure

Popular karaoke chain, Teo Heng KTV Studio, is one of the affected businesses in the entertainment industry.

According to a report by the Chinese evening daily, Lianhe Wanbao, Teo Heng KTV Studio has closed all its 14 outlets since March 26.

The karaoke chain is expected to incur up to S$500,000 losses for the month-long closure.

However, the boss of Teo Heng, Jackson Teo said that he will continue to pay all 100 over staff members their salaries and the staff will be sent for training during the hiatus.

“Employees are our wealth”

In a late-night Facebook post by Teo on March 25, after the final night of operation, Teo said the news came like a bolt from the blue.

When he first knew about it, he recalled feeling the pain about the heavy losses he would incur while driving back home to hold an emergency meeting with the key personnel of Teo Heng.

However, he quickly adjusted his mindset and thought as long as he’s well and alive, there’s nothing to be afraid of and this is not the end.

He felt more relaxed afterwards and achieved a consensus with the rest later at the meeting that they should not cut employees’ salaries.

Teo explained that the employees have their families to support and they have been contributing to the success of the company.

“Employees are our wealth and we should take care of them even more during this critical period,” he added in his Facebook post.

He also expressed his faith in Singapore government to help local enterprises to tide over this difficult period.

“As long as we can contain the Covid-19 without a lockdown and live normally, all these problems will pass eventually. A better tomorrow will come soon,” Teo ended his post on an encouraging note.

Top photo via Teo Heng’s Facebook and Jackson Teo’s Facebook

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Why Netflix is reducing the quality of video streaming

Consumers want more control over their media consumption, and tech companies like Apple want in on this high-growth category. 

The so-called ‘streaming wars’ have begun. It’s a bit of a misnomer. In the long-term, consumer demand will likely support the existence of multiple, well-constructed OTT media services. 

Right now, a global pandemic has disrupted the entertainment industry and increased the demand for internet bandwidth.

Film and TV productions have been shut down in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus among crew and cast members. Cultural icons like Tom Hanks and Idris Elba have already fallen ill. Content creators, distributors, and agencies have undergone layoffs and salary cuts. Even completed content has uncertain release dates. Indoor movie theaters are closed. Digital releases may not result in the gross required to break even.

In this new, chaotic environment, digital content delivery also raises issues of technology ethics. 

Bandwidth politics

Even in ordinary times, high-quality video consumes limited bandwidth. Some of those infrastructure constraints will fundamentally change as more 5G spectrum is commercialized, as spectral efficiency is maximized, and as entirely new edge computing technologies are introduced. But for now, we are where we are.

This has placed Netflix at the center of the fight for net neutrality. Some ISPs want streaming services to pay a toll because of their usage. On its website for investors, Netflix expressed the flip side of that argument: “We don’t intend to try to collect a percentage of broadband revenue from ISPs, despite the fact that we are a substantial portion of what consumers do with their internet connection, and that this payment would parallel the payments to basic cable networks.”

The site also notes that the company offers an “Open Connect” program, which allows ISPs to directly and freely interconnect with Netflix’s network in regional locations, rather than going through third-party transit providers. This lowers the costs for both parties.

In 2017, net neutrality became a particularly heated political conflict and diverse religious leaders weighed in on the topic through an open letter. The moral and technical implications of net neutrality remain unchanged. But there is now an acknowledgement that bandwidth is, necessarily or unnecessarily, a scarce resource during this time of severe crisis and rapid, major adaptation.

Online media consumption has gone up dramatically, which isn’t surprising given the millions of people who are currently quarantined at home. Some of them don’t know what to do and they’re longing for escape. But society needs to prioritize all of its resources. Netflix and other media providers are capping video quality to preserve bandwidth for more critical functions and new remote work arrangements.

The fact that Netflix is willing to remove its highest bandwidth streams says something about the exceptional nature of these times. Some of the companies that are new to streaming have initially stumbled as the result of traffic surges, coding errors, and unfamiliar, technical complexity. 

But Netflix takes pride in its robust, scalable, cloud-native technology and its status as a data-driven company. They have built a massive suite of well-integrated, incredibly sophisticated tools that can slice and dice data across various dimensions, detect anomalies, test systems for resilience, personalize content, and optimize streaming.

Netflix has been reticent about disclosing content-specific viewership data or “ratings” because they originally wanted to keep the focus on the narrative form. 

However, the company has been atypically transparent about some of the innovations from its product engineers. The company’s GitHub and dedicated tech blog demonstrate a commitment to the open-source movement. Perhaps they’re simply trying to attract the very best tech talent by showcasing the corporate culture and potential colleagues.

Either way, the company clearly values the technological components that are integral to large-scale, on-demand media delivery. They know that high quality and reliability lead to greater acquisition and retention. They know about the politics of bandwidth. And they also know that we’re currently living through challenging, unprecedented times. 

It’s all hands on deck. Some compromises must be made for the greater good.

David Pring-Mill

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PSP celebrates 1st anniversary, releases year in review and pushes for a change in governing model –

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Singapore –Opposition party, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) celebrated their first year anniversary on Saturday (March 28) and released a commemorative statement, reminiscing on the path toward a “changed Singapore” and pushing the need for a change in governance.

PSP’s Assistant Secretary-General, Mr Leong Mun Wai, in his commemorative message celebrating the party’s first anniversary looked back to see if “they did enough (for the country) given a chance.

“When Dr Tan Cheng Bock started an alternative party to the ruling PAP (People’s Action Party) exactly one year ago, many Singaporeans saw a new glimmer of hope,” said Mr Leong. Now, the party has over 1,000 members.

Singapore is a changed country today

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“Beneath the veneer of prosperity, many Singaporeans face a myriad of problems in their day-to-day lives,” said Mr Leong.

Problems such as a stagnant wage growth amid a possible increase in population, the difficulty for low-wage workers to jump to a higher wage bracket or the increasing concern for personal pursuits while forgetting about the plight of fellow countrymen were mentioned in the statement, leading to a call for change.

“While progress should come with happiness, it should also include transparency, independence and accountability,” said Mr Leong. “Over the years, it is observed that these three fundamental values of good governance have been compromised.”

He mentioned a few examples of compromises such as the constitutional changes on the 2016 Presidential Elections, the 2018 leakage of private health information and the frequent MRT system breakdowns since 2011 despite increasing Government expenditures.

“For transparency, (the) Government can look to justify the spending by way of public disclosure of the details of such expensive projects.”

The PSP is also calling for more accountability by increasing the number of alternative voices in Parliament. “Right now, the PAP has a majority in Parliament with 93% of the seats. This gives the Government the power to change the Constitution at will.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with walkabouts and ground campaigns placed on hold and the public urged to stay home and practice social responsibility, “we may be asked to participate in the General Elections,” noted Mr Leong. “While the expectations is for PAP to win another big landslide if elections are called in the near future, you have the final say.”

Attached in the PSP’s statement is a video, entitled “Building the Dream – A Year in Review” which highlights their journey, thus far.

Building the Dream – A Year in Review

Excerpts of the Commemorative Message for PSP’s First Anniversary by Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Leong Mun Wai* For the full message, please visit: https://psp.org.sg/commemorative-message-for-psps-1st-anniversary/”Since the founding of the PSP on March 28, 2019, over 1,000 Singaporeans have signed up as members of this new party. Now under the current Covid-19 pandemic when we should stay home to be socially responsible and take care of our families, friends and countrymen, we may be asked to participate in the General Elections. While the expectations is for PAP to win another big landslide if elections are called in the near future, you have the final say. Remember your decision will affect you for the next five years, while Covid-19 could be over in not more than a year. Singapore is a changed country today. Beneath the veneer of prosperity, many Singaporeans face a myriad of problems in their day-to-day lives. Without our fully realizing it, compassion has diminished in Singapore. Today, some are only concerned with their own material pursuits, but have little care for their countrymen who are left behind in increasing numbers. In the name of continued economic growth, various employment and immigration policies have enabled our population to be doubled. This has weakened the national identity that we had so painstakingly cultivated over the past few decades.Our ancestors were immigrants many generations ago, but the rate of growth of immigration in Singapore in the last thirty years has been fast by any standards. Such rapid growth happened during British colonial rule, especially around the turn of the last century when Indian and Chinese immigrants known as “sinke” (新客) arrived by the thousands. Many lived in squalid conditions, working long hours for meagre pay. Today, Singapore is no longer a coolie economy. We seek reasonable immigration, where Singapore thrives on the labour of both newcomers and local Singaporeans, who both enjoy good jobs. We welcome foreigners from any country of any race or religion, in keeping with the Singapore pledge, “regardless of race, language or religion”. Honest, hardworking, talented immigrants benefit any country. “”While progress should come with happiness, it should also include transparency, independence and accountability. Over the years, it is observed that these three fundamental values of good governance have been compromised.””At the end of the day, people want to build a good Singapore with a trusted political system. With good processes, and good people. This is positive, progressive politics. Which is what PSP stands for.For Country For People!”#progresssingaporeparty #psp #SGUnited #thetimeisnowSG #defendSG #peopleabovepoliticsSG #togetherwecan #singapore

Posted by Progress Singapore Party on Sunday, 29 March 2020

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Li Huanwu and Heng Yirui post photo on Instagram after challenges to Section 377A dismissed –

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Singapore—On Monday (Mar 30) three appeals to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A of the country’s Penal Code were scrapped in the High Court. Section 377A criminalizes sexual intercourse between men, and is a holdover from Singapore’s colonial past. Other former British colonies, such as India, have abolished similar laws.

Bryan Chong, who had brought one of the challenges to Section 377A’s constitutionality, had even pointed out that the law had intended to curb male prostitution during colonial times instead of being a blanket declaration against homosexuality, based on declassified British government archives.

Justice See Kee Oon presented a rebuttal to Mr Chong’s points, as well as others raised. He said that Section 377A had not only been aimed against male prostitution, but that it was meant to be a “general application” towards homosexual practices of men. Furthermore the law was meant to enforce a “stricter standard of societal morality” when it was passed.

On his Instagram account, Heng Yirui, the husband of Li Huanwu, posted a photo late on Tuesday night (Mar 31), showing the couple seated some distance apart and captioned “Societal moral disapproval.” This picture stands in stark contrast to the other photos of the couple, which usually show them close to one another.

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Dr Heng added the following hashtags: #lgbt #pride #tryagain #ready4repeal #repeal377a #wahlaoeh #socialdistancing #givechance

The couple made headlines last year when they got married in South Africa in May, given their high profile since Mr Li is the grandson of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, being the son of PM Lee’s younger son, Lee Hsien Yang.

Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, Lee Fern Suet, as well as their two other sons and Dr Heng’s family were in attendance at the wedding in South Africa. The two families also came out to support Dr Heng and Mr Li at last year’s Pink Dot, Singapore’s gay pride parade, the following month.

This was Mr Lee’s first time attending the Pink Dot. He said at the time of his son’s wedding, “I believe my father would have been thrilled to know this.”

The phrase Dr Heng used in his caption is a loaded one, having been used in the 1996 Report to US Congress that accompanied the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act. “Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.’ 

One person commenting on Dr Heng’s post thought that the photo was meant as an example of social distancing, but realized what it was for when he saw the hashtags.

Pink Dot SG, which aims to support the LGBTQ community in Singapore, issued a statement after the High Court dismissed the constitutional challenges to Section 377A, expressing disappointment but urging activists to keep fighting the good fight. Since this year’s pride celebration in June was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Pink Dot has asked supporters to “join us in taking a stand against discrimination by lighting up your homes and workplaces in pink on 27 June 2020 at 6:30pm.”

The group said in its statement: “The colonial-era law, which criminalises consensual sex between men, has long been weaponised against sexual minorities. Through its trickle-down effects, Section 377A has been used to justify the discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ+ Singaporeans in areas such as housing and immigration. It has also rendered the community invisible in areas like the media, the workplace and education. While the repeal of Section 377A would not have been a panacea for all of these problems, it would have been a milestone—a significant step toward building a more equal and inclusive society.” —/TISG

Read also: BREAKING: Lee Hsien Yang’s son Li Huanwu marries boyfriend Heng Yirui in South Africa

BREAKING: Lee Hsien Yang’s son Li Huanwu marries boyfriend Heng Yirui in South Africa

 

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Early polls will expose over 2.6m Singaporeans to Covid-19 –

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The Progress Singapore Party chief, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, has reiterated a suggestion that  elections should not be called early in order to avoid a Covid-19 health crisis.

Dr Tan issued a video statement on Saturday (March 28) in response to comments in Parliament on Wednesday (March 25) by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean that suggestions to delay elections and for the President to form a caretaker government were unconstitutional.

The PSP leader defended his earlier proposal for a caretaker government if elections cannot be held by the April 2021 deadline and added that a constitutional problem caused by delaying the elections is better than a health crisis.

In the 6-minute video on the party’s Facebook page, Dr Tan said: “I think (SM Teo) may have missed my main point.”

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He added that the Government had a choice to either call an early election in 2020, or to wait until the last possible date in April 2021.

“Senior Minister Teo also said in Parliament that an early general election will allow Singapore to decide who they want to captain the ship into the future,” said Dr Tan.

“But can he accept that an early general election means that the ship will potentially carry many more Singaporeans infected with Covid-19, and is this the risk he is prepared to take with our overtaxed health crisis?” he asked.

LATEST: STATEMENT FROM DR TAN CHENG BOCK/GE/COVID/TEO CHEE HEAN

LATEST: STATEMENT FROM DOCTOR TAN CHENG BOCK / GE Statement from Dr Tan Cheng Bock on the latest comments from parliament and the possible considerations for our Singapore. In reference to the statement herewith -below is a list of countries currently who have postponed elections (local, Parliamentary and others) in the light of the situation (COVID-19), for Singaporeans to look at and consider. POSTPONED ELECTIONS DUE TO COVID-19• Municipal and mayoral elections in Vorarlberg, Austria (originally scheduled for 15 March 2020)• Primary elections in Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana, USA (originally scheduled for 17 March 2020). Also, primary elections in Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana and Maryland are postponed (originally scheduled for March-May 2020).• All by-elections and voter registration activities in South Africa (originally planned for March-May 2020)• Second round of local elections in France (originally scheduled for 22 March 2020)• Single Constituency Referendum, Falkland Islands (British Overseas Territory (Originally scheduled for 26 March 2020).• Elections for the community action board, Colombia (originally scheduled for 29 March 2020)• Local municipal elections in Chipao, Ayacucho district, Peru (originally scheduled for 29 March 2020)• Municipal elections in the Cordovan City of Río Cuarto, Argentina (originally scheduled for 29 March 2020)• Municiple in elections in Hassi El Ferid, and Jbeniana , Tunisia (28-29 March 2020) • By-elections for senatorial district in Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau, Nigeria (originally scheduled for March 2020) • Local elections in South Carolina, USA (all elections scheduled for March and April 2020 are postponed)• Local council elections, Maldives (4 April 2020) • Referendum on changes to the constitutional court, Armenia (originally scheduled for 5 April 2020)• Regional elections in Euskadi and Galicia, Spain (originally scheduled for 5 April 2020)• Parliamentary elections in North Macedonia (originally scheduled for 12 April 2020) • Local elections in Kyrgyzstan (originally scheduled for 13 April) • Parliamentary elections in Syria (originally scheduled for 13 April, moved to 20 May 2020)• Second round of parliamentary elections in Iran (originally scheduled for 17 April, moved to 11 September 2020)• Constitutional referendum in Russia (scheduled for 22 April 2020),• Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka (originally scheduled for 25 April 2020)• Supplementary election for the position of senator in Mato Grosso Brazil (originally scheduled for 26 April 2020)• Constitutional referendum, Chile (originally scheduled for 26 April, moved 25 October 2020)• General elections in Serbia (originally scheduled for 26 April 2020)• Presidential Elections in Northern Cyprus (originally scheduled for 26 April, moved to 11 October 2020)• Local elections in the United Kingdom (originally scheduled for the first week of May 2020, moved to May 2021)• General elections in Bolivia (originally scheduled for 3 May 2020)• Federal vote, Switzerland (originally scheduled for 17 May 2020) and several local (municipal) elections in the cantons of Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Luzern and Geneva (originally scheduled for March-May 2020).• A referendum in Italy to reduce the number of seats in parliament (originally scheduled for 29 May 2020), in addition to numerous regional and local elections• Primary elections in Paraguay (originally scheduled for 12 July, moved to 2 August 2020) and Local (Municipal) elections in Paraguay (originally scheduled for 8 November, moved to 29 November 2020)Source: https://www.idea.int/news-media/multimedia-reports/global-overview-covid-19-impact-elections#singapore #psp #progresssingaporeparty #SGunited #DefendSG #covid19 #frontliners #ParliamentSG #SingaporeTogether #youdeservebetter #ForABetterSingapore

Posted by Progress Singapore Party on Friday, 27 March 2020

He said that Singapore’s ministers and ministries are already hard-pressed — and would have to spread themselves out even thinner if an election were to occur — figuring out how to safely carry out the electoral process.

The calls not to hold an early election were also addressed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a media interview at the Istana a day earlier, on Friday (May 27).

Mr Lee had said: “I think it is a very difficult decision because we are going into a very big storm and you want to have the strongest team and mandate, and the longest runway so that Singapore can have the best leadership to see it through this storm.” /TISG

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How 5G could help reignite the tourism industry next year

Besides being a cultural and tourism hotspot, in any normal year, Barcelona is an annual meeting point for the world’s largest gathering for mobile technology.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) attracts more than 100,000 technologists to the European city, and while the show was forced to cancel this year, Barcelona’s spirit of innovation certainly hasn’t been lost in 2020. 

This year, local telecom Telefónica, Mediapro Group, and Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) collaborated in one of the very firsts 5G AR (augmented reality) projects, which is set to give the tourism industry a taste of the city’s new digital pulse. 

Running as a pilot program, passengers on the tour bus were treated to an immersive experience in which digital content is projected onto the front window of the vehicle, superimposed on the landmarks and landscape while touring. 

The 5G Augmented Tourism pilot program integrates 5G data and location service capabilities to power an atypically-wide AR display where digital content appears.

In contrast with the current market, where AR development is focused on lighter and smaller screens, such as headsets or smartphone screens, equipping the tour bus with a large screen while allowing passengers to freely move, provides a collective and immersive experience. 

Customers can also interact with the touchscreen display for more information on attractions and monuments – the technology offers and alternative to traditional audio tapes or tour guides. 

The pilot program may demonstrate the power of AR in the tourism industry, with new experiences and technologies becoming crucial to rejuvenate the industry when widespread travel restrictions are eventually lifted. 

“5G networks will transform tourism by giving us almost unlimited real-time access to communications, data and computation services,” Arturo Azcorra, Director of IMDEA Networks, said in an interview

Due to 5G’s light speed and low latency capabilities, data-heavy technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), extended reality (XR) technologies, cloud, and edge computing rely on the wireless network to unleash its full potentials.

Azcorra emphasized that “Any country left behind in this [5G] race will suffer a severe setback in its appeal as a destination.”

Recognizing the rapidly essential role of 5G in bolstering tourism, the UK has also kicked started a 5G Smart Tourism project in the West of England. 

The Royal Crescent in Bath, a city in the West of England. Source: Shutterstock

In connection with the UK’s push to roll out 5G services nationwide, tourism is one of the industries that is set to profit. In the report, visitors contribute up to £2 billion (US$2.48 billion) to that region’s GVA (gross value added). 

While the project is adamant in establishing a robust and secure 5G infrastructure, its uses cases in tourism focus on providing “compelling experiences that add value to high-quality destinations, enhanced visitor safety, and wide awareness of 5G benefits,” as stated in the report. 

An increasing number of 5G-powered tourism projects are poised to kick-off as research by Telecom giant Ericsson, revealed: “25 percent of early adopters believe that in a year from now, we will be exploring destinations through AR-enabled information and maps overlaid onto our physical environment.”

Jia Jen Low

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