7 Crazy Laws From Countries Around the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Crazy Laws From Countries Around the World

Laws enacted by government officials are supposed to keep citizens safe and countries in order. But what happens when some of these laws are completely crazy? From laws prohibiting the use of undergarments to laws about life after death, here’s a list of some of the craziest laws from around the world.

Italy

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In the city of Rome, goldfish are not allowed to live inside bowls. In order to keep pets healthy and happy, a law was created to ensure better treatment of dogs, cats and even pet goldfish. As a result, goldfish must reside within a full-sized aquarium, a luxurious upgrade from the traditional goldfish bowl.

Scotland

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In Scotland, choosing to wear underwear can have consequences. According to The Scotsman, if you are wearing underwear beneath your kilt, you can be fined two cans of beer. It’s safe to say that this isn’t a strictly enforced rule, but Scots may want to stock up on beer, just in case.

Portugal

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Portugal, a popular seaside destination, has a law against urinating in the ocean. Presumably, this law was made to protect the quality of the water at crowded beaches, but we have to wonder how this law is enforced? If you find a short line at the beach bathroom in Portugal, there may be some lawbreakers in your midst.

Singapore

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Since 1992, gum chewing has been banned in Singapore. The country has also banned littering and jaywalking. Oh, and when you use a public toilet, you are legally required to flush it. All of these laws are an effort to keep the country clean and welcoming for its residents and visitors, so we can’t complain about them too much.

Poland

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Winnie the Pooh, the beloved storybook character, was banned from a public playground in Poland due to the bear’s crude way of dressing. This is because Winnie the Pooh does not wear pants. Pooh’s outfit was deemed “inappropriate” by city council members, and children are no longer allowed to bring any items bearing Winnie the Pooh’s likeness to the town playground.

Japan

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In Japan, those extra pounds you gain around the holidays could get you into big trouble. This is because it’s illegal to be fat in Japan. In order to enforce the law, Japanese higher-ups have a mandatory waistline maximum for anyone over the age of 40. According to Pri, a man’s waistline measurement cannot exceed 33.5 inches, while a woman’s waistline cannot exceed 35.4 inches.

Greece

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In 2009, Greece went as far as creating a law to ban certain types of footwear. High heels are not allowed to be worn at archeological sites around the country. Apparently, the fashionable ladies’ footwear was causing major damage to the Odeon in Athens and lawmakers decided to take a precautionary measure to protect the country’s historical monuments.

10 Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

From towering skyscrapers to the ancient Colosseum, the world is filled with architectural marvels. And since architecture is best enjoyed in person, here are 10 cities that architecture lovers simply must visit.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Credit: Semmick Photo/Shutterstock

It’s called the “City of Big Shoulders” for a reason. Chicago is home to some of the oldest skyscrapers, such as the Manhattan Building, built in 1891; the Reliance Building, built in 1895; and Chicago Savings Bank Building, completed in 1905. Most of Downtown Chicago was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, but the iconic Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869, was left standing. Built solely of yellow Lemont limestone, seeing the 182-foot tower firsthand should be on every architecture lovers bucket list.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

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Rome is home to some of the world’s most photographed structures, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Trajan’s Market. Had it not been for the Romans, designs like the arch and the dome would never have come to be. Rome’s classical structures are a must see. That’s a given. But the city’s Baroque style buildings, which were mostly constructed during the 17th century, are also well worth your time. The sheer grandness of structures like St. Peter’s Basilicaand the Trevi Fountain can’t be captured in a photograph. Few things in life will leave you as awestruck as taking a stroll inside St. Peter’s, with its massive dome, and looking up. You may never want to look down again.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

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Influenced by the legendary 19th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s architecture, much like the city itself, is imaginative and colorful. One sight that’s a must see is Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. The façade of the building is constructed of broken ceramic tiles, thus creating an eye-popping mosaic that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Other structures that are inspired by Gaudi’s vivid imagination include Jean Nouvel’s Tower, which is designed to resemble a geyser of water shooting through the air, and Frank Gehry’s Fish.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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In addition to being home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyline is filled with twisty-turny steel buildings. If you find yourself wandering in this desert city, be sure to check out the Burj al Arab, which is designed to look like an Arabian dhow ship, as well as the curving Cayan, with its seemingly impossible 90-degree twist. There’s also the famed underwater zoo located in the Dubai Mall, which features 300 different species of aquatic life, including all types of fish, sting rays and sharks.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

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Fueled by government investment, Shanghai has grown rapidly in recent years. It’s almost as if a glossy new structure pops up each month. The architecture in Shanghai is modernistic, and best represented in buildings like the Hongkou Soho office building, with its pleated exterior. Shanghai is also home to the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, which features a twisted, glass façade that stretches upward for 2,073 feet.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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The birthplace of Art Deco and Gothic architecture, Paris is a city whose rich architectural history stretches back centuries. Gothic style, which is marked by colorful stained glass windows and flying buttresses, can be seen in a number of Paris cathedrals, including the Sainte-Chapelle, the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais and, most famously, Notre-Dame, which was in the news earlier this year after sustaining serious damage during a 15-hour fire. Paris’s famed Art Deco buildings, with their notable exteriors that feature numerous horizontal lines, began popping up shortly before World War I and were dominant in the ’20s and ’30s. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Rex movie palace are two prominent structures that exhibit this style. This is a small sample of the numerous architectural wonders in the City of Light.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

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The Russian capital is home to some of the most recognizable architecture in the world with a style known simply as Russian architecture. Arguably the most renown structure in the Russian style is Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Constructed in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is known for its vibrant, onion-shaped domes. Moscow is also home to more recent architectural wonders like the Ostankino Tower, which was completed in 1967 and was for a period of time the tallest building in the world, and a group of Moscow skyscrapers known as the Seven Sisters. The seven buildings, which were built during the reign of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, are wide and blocky, and scattered throughout Moscow. They were constructed in the Stalinist style of Russian architecture, which borrows elements of the Russian baroque.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

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Several ancient monuments from Athens’s classical era are still standing, most notably the Parthenon, with its enormous stone columns. There is also the Theatre of Dionysus, which was the birthplace of Greek tragedy and the first theater ever constructed. And what would a historically rich city like Athens be without its ancient temples? During its heyday, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was completed around the 2nd century, had an unthinkable 104 columns, although only a few remain standing today.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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The most populous city in Turkey is known for two distinct styles of architecture: Byzantine and Ottoman. The Hagia Sophia, which was constructed in the 6th century, is a church that is emblematic of the Byzantine style, with its massive dome and elegiac mosaics depicting Christ and other biblical figures. The Ottoman style of architecture also flourished in Istanbul. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries a number of imperial mosques were constructed throughout the city, including Faith Mosque, Yeni Mosque\ and Bayezid Mosque. The mosques all have the key features of the Ottoman style, with extensive use of domes and columns, and are an absolute marvel to experience in person.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

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From the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Chrysler Building (1930), to the Gothic Revival design of the Woolworth Building (1913), to the more recent green design of the Conde Nast Building, New York City’s skyscrapers employ a wide range of stylistic elements. The character of the city can also be seen in the architectural designs used in its residential neighborhoods. From the brownstones in Brooklyn to the tenements on the Lower East Side, New York’s five boroughs are an architectural cornucopia whose styles are as diverse as the city itself.

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade free trade agreement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNA NEWS)

 

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade free trade agreement

 

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade FTA

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (left) with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce and China International Trade Representative Fu Ziying. (Photo: MTI)

SHANGHAI: Singapore and China have concluded talks to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA), Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement on Monday (Nov 5).

This was announced following a meeting between Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Fu Ziying, who is China’s Vice Minister of Commerce and the China International Trade Representative, on Monday. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the China International Import Expo.

Under the current CSFTA, there are no tariffs on 95 per cent of Singapore’s exports to China, while there are no tariffs on all Chinese exports to Singapore.

The upgraded CSFTA is expected to provide Singapore businesses with greater trade facilitation and investment protection in China.

It is also expected to provide Singapore businesses with improved market access and will cover cooperation in new areas, including legal and financial services, e-commerce and the environment.

Mr Chan said this development marks “an important step forward” for bilateral economic relations between Singapore and China.

“The upgrade signals our joint commitment towards greater economic collaboration and trade liberalisation. Singapore businesses can expect to enjoy greater access to the vast Chinese market and greater certainty in their investments when the upgraded CSFTA takes effect,” he said.

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Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade FTA

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing (right) and Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce and China International Trade Representative Fu Ziying meeting at the inaugural China International Import Exposition in Shanghai. (Photo: MTI)

The CSFTA was the Chinese government’s first such agreement with an Asian country.

Talks to upgrade the FTA, which entered into force in January 2009, have been three years in the making. They began after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Singapore in November 2015.

In September, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had said that the signing of the upgraded pact is expected when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Singapore for the ASEAN Summit next week.

READ: China-Singapore trade agreement upgrade to be concluded by year-end

Singapore and China enjoy close economic ties, with total bilateral trade between the two countries reaching S$137.1 billion in 2017.

China was Singapore’s largest trading partner, while Singapore was China’s largest foreign investor for the fifth consecutive year since 2013.

More than a third of outward investments related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative flows through Singapore.

Source: CNA/nh(ra)

 

UN: North Korea Still Building Nuclear Missiles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

A confidential UN report throws cold water on North Korea’s claim that it is committed to denuclearization

The launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile
The launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile
Uncredited/AP
  • North Korean officials insist that the country is committed to the Singapore agreement, which expressed a need for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  • A confidential United Nations report argues that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs” and continues to engage in illicit activities in violation of UN sanctions resolutions.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remains optimistic but notes that North Korea’s behavior is “inconsistent” with the pledge North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made to US President Donald Trump at their summit in Singapore.

North Korean officials insist the country is committed to upholding the provisions of the Singapore agreement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, but a confidential United Nations report reveals that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs.”

“The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] stands firm in its determination and commitment for implementing the DPRK-US Joint Statement in a responsible and good-faith manner,” North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said Saturday, arguing that North Korea has demonstrated its goodwill through the moratorium on weapons testing and the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

North Korea has also released American hostages and began dismantling parts of the Sohae Satellite Launch Station, a facility believed to have played a prominent role in the engine development for one of the new intercontinental ballistic missiles tested for the first time last year. But while Pyongyang has taken certain presumably positive steps, it remains a good distance from reaching the Trump administration’s desired outcome — denuclearization and disarmament. In fact, evidence suggests that North Korea may be moving in the other direction.

A 149-page report analyzing the implementation of United Nations sanctions over a six-month period was submitted to the United Nations Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee late Friday. North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the document put together by a team of independent experts stated, according to Reuters.

In recent weeks, North Korea has been spotted engaging in activities that cast doubt on its commitment to denuclearize. They include producing possible liquid-fueled ICBMs at a location in Sanum-dong,increasing nuclear fuel production at secret enrichment sites like Kangson, making key infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, and expanding an important facility in Hamhung dedicated to the development of solid-fueled ballistic missiles.

It is not just the weapons programs that are troubling, though. The United Nations report notes that not only has North Korea been collaborating with Syria’s military and attempting to sell weapons to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum have “increased in scope, scale and sophistication.”

North Korean vessels were involved in at least 89 illegal ship-to-ship transfers between January 1 and May 30, which resulted in the country importing as much as three times the amount permitted by the United Nations, NK News reported , citing US data.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Friday that North Korea’s behavior is inconsistent with Kim Jong Un’s promise to the president.

“Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearize,” Pompeo said , “The world demanded that they do so in the UN Security Council resolutions. To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are a) in violation of one or both the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and

b) we can see we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we’re looking for.”

Speaking at the Asian Regional Forum Retreat Session in Singapore Saturday, Pompeo urged Southeast Asian nations to maintain the pressure on North Korea by fully implementing sanctions. At the same event, the North Korean foreign minister said Pyongyang is alarmed by US attitudes.

North Korea has not stopped nuclear, missile program: confidential U.N. report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

North Korea has not stopped nuclear, missile program: confidential U.N. report

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs in violation of United Nations sanctions, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters on Friday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory and the Bus Repair Factory in Pyongyang, North Korea in this photo released August 4, 2018 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency. KCNA/ via REUTERS

The six-month report by independent experts monitoring the implementation of U.N. sanctions was submitted to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee late on Friday.

“(North Korea) has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the experts wrote in the 149-page report.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

The U.N report said North Korea is cooperating militarily with Syria and has been trying to sell weapons to Yemen’s Houthis.

Pyongyang also violated a textile ban by exporting more than $100 million in goods between October 2017 and March 2018 to China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay, the report said.

The report comes as Russia and China suggest the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for the first time in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.

The United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.

The U.N. experts said illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products in international waters had “increased in scope, scale and sophistication.” They said a key North Korean technique was to turn off a ship’s tracking system, but that they were also physically disguising ships and using smaller vessels.

The Security Council has unanimously sanctioned North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

The experts said “prohibited military cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic has continued unabated.” They said North Korean technicians engaged in ballistic missile and other banned activities have visited Syria in 2011, 2016 and 2017.

The report said that experts were investigating efforts by the North Korean Ministry of Military Equipment and Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) to supply conventional arms and ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi group.

A country, which was not identified, showed the experts a July 13, 2016 letter from a Houthi leader inviting the North Koreans to meet in Damascus “to discuss the issue of the transfer of technology and other matters of mutual interest,” according to the report.

The experts said that the effectiveness of financial sanctions was being systematically undermined by “deceptive practices” of North Korea.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Sanders and Toni Reinhold

‘Recalcitrant’ Activist Charged by Singapore Police for Organizing ‘Illegal Assemblies’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

‘Recalcitrant’ Activist Charged by Singapore Police for Organizing ‘Illegal Assemblies’

Jolovan Wham (person wearing red shirt) is joined by friends during a solidarity event. Photo from Facebook page of Lynn Lee.

On November 29, Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham was charged by the police for “organizing public assemblies without a permit under the Public Order Act, an offense of vandalism under the Vandalism Act, and for refusing to sign his statements under the Penal Code.”

Wham is an activist known for his campaigns promoting the rights of migrant workers, free speech in Singapore, and reform of the country’s laws on detention and death penalty.

Wham’s seven offences listed by the police are in connection several protest events: 1. July 14 candle lighting vigil in solidarity with the family of a person facing the death penalty 2. June 13 ‘silent protest’ inside a train about the arrest of “Marxist conspirators’ in 1987 and 3. November 26, 2016 indoor forum whose speaker included Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaking via Skype.

The police accused Wham of organizing these activities without securing the approval of authorities and described Wham as a ‘recalcitrant’:

Wham is recalcitrant and has repeatedly shown blatant disregard for the law, especially with regard to organizing or participating in illegal public assemblies.

Wham was briefly detained on November 29 but released after posting bail.

His case alarmed many activist groups which warned about the shrinking space for freedom of expression in Singapore.

An online petition signed by more than 3,900 people (as of this writing) urged the government to drop the charges against Wham:

The prosecution of Jolovan Wham has a chilling effect on free speech where the law is used as a tool of intimidation against peaceful and non-violent activists. These charges also violate his constitutional and universal rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Another online petition addressed to the country’s prime minister highlighted the importance of Wham’s activism:

He is a constant reminder that we, as a first world country, should strive to attain the standard of human rights enjoyed by other first world countries.

Function 8, a non-government organization (NGO), praised Wham as “the voice of the voiceless.”

We do not understand why the State is pursuing the seven charges against Jolovan Wham for events which were all peaceful and non-violent. He works for the good of our country, which we are told, aims to be inclusive and which respects diverse voices.

Community Action Network, another local NGO, appealed to the government to reconsider its policies restricting free speech:

The Singapore government has long used a range of public order offenses to manage public opinion. As a mature, advanced nation which exhibits the key forms of parliamentary democracy, the stifling of free speech has been widely condemned for its chilling effect on human rights.

The Singapore police should not proceed with charges against Wham. The government must reconsider its position on free speech and freedom of assembly. It is time for Singapore to recognize that peaceful protest is not a crime.

Aware Singapore, a human rights group, thinks it’s time to review regulations that undermine the people’s civil liberties:

Some regulation of public assembly may be necessary to safeguard the public interest in safety and prevent disruption. Yet it may be timely to reconsider how restrictive these regulations should be. Events that do not threaten the safety and well-being of any person, damage any property or cause disruption to ordinary affairs should not be made difficult to organize, and it is doubtful whether society’s interests are best served by making them liable to criminal prosecution.

MARUAH, another human rights group, insisted that Wham’s activism should not be treated by the police as a criminal act.

Mr Wham’s actions are merely public criticisms of the government’s stance on detention without trial, capital punishment and free speech. It is revealing that in the police press release announcing the arrest of Mr Wham, the police make a great deal of Mr Wham’s “recalcitrance” as if he were a child defying parental authority.

Wham’s supporters organized a solidarity event on December 10 in time for International Human Rights Day celebrations. Some of his friends also shared storiesof how Wham inspired many people through his activism.

Wham also got the support of 52 Malaysian NGOs which signed a statement urging the Singapore government to withdraw the charges filed against him.

This ironic tweet featuring reflects the determination of Wham and his colleagues to question the legitimacy of being labeled ‘recalcitrant’:

“Wham is recalcitrant and has repeatedly shown blatant disregard for the law, especially with regard to organising or participating in illegal public assemblies,” the police said.

Singapore’s flip-flop stance toward China hard to change

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GLOBAL TIMES OF SINGAPORE)

 

Singapore’s flip-flop stance toward China hard to change

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/11 23:48:40

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a recent interview with Australia’s ABC Radio National that many countries, including Singapore, see the Belt and Road initiative as a constructive way for China to integrate with other countries as China’s influence in the region continues to grow. He said his country supports the Belt and Road initiative as well as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

These could be the most positive remarks Lee has made on China recently. Since last year, China and Singapore have witnessed a cooling relationship due to the latter’s siding with the US and Japan regarding the South China Sea issue. The detention of nine armored vehicles of Singapore in Hong Kong added to the chill in the bilateral ties. Seven heads of state and governments of ASEAN countries participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held last month in Beijing, but Lee was absent. This sparked more controversy.

Through the interview, Lee seems to be showing a willingness to turn around the Sino-Singaporean relationship. As one of the core US allies among ASEAN countries, Singapore has long faced the difficulty of balancing between China and the US alongside Beijing’s rise. As the country tries its best to strike a balance between the two sides, it tilts toward the US when a balance is impossible.

The reason for its choice is that as a small country sandwiched between two giants – Indonesia and Malaysia – Singapore’s security is very fragile, and it has to rely on the US for the greatest security guarantee.

Singapore was the most active ASEAN country, besides the Philippines, that supported the South China Sea arbitration case. In addition, it opened its military base to US’ anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft for patrols over the South China Sea.

However, China is Singapore’s largest trading partner. Plus, the entire ASEAN bloc emphasizes the relationship with China, and most members advocate caution in dealing with the world’s two biggest countries.

More importantly, the administration of US President Donald Trump stresses cooperation with China and sent a delegation to the Belt and Road forum. This was followed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s subtle change on his posture toward China. Singapore must have felt an unprecedented isolation.

Lee’s positive comments on the Belt and Road are welcome. No matter what the Singapore government said and did previously, Beijing can move forward with it. It is the generosity a big country should have.

On the other hand, Singapore may not abandon its flip-flop diplomacy and China needs to be prepared for this. Singapore’s diplomatic thinking is hard to change shortly. Lee Hsien Loong is less adept at balancing diplomacy than his father Lee Kuan Yew, and geopolitical competition in Asia nowadays has become more complicated. Therefore, Singapore is confronted with more difficulties.

Singapore is a former a colony of Britain. Its dependence on the US, not so special compared with other ASEAN countries, is driven by pragmatism of safeguarding its own interests. As China grows more powerful, it will naturally readjust the balance between China and the US.

China sent a delegation led by a Lieutenant General to this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue. We feel that the level of this delegation is still a bit too high, and suggest a lower-level delegation be sent next year. The Shangri-La Dialogue is a platform Singapore built for the US and Japan, and China has no reason to show support to it.

In recent years, China sent fewer officials for training in Singapore, another sign of the decreasing influence of the country over China.

In a nutshell, China needs to take a normal attitude toward Singapore swinging between the US and China.

Former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew Created A Near Perfect National Healthcare System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SINGAPORE NATIONAL REVIEW)

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The key is to ensure that one generation won’t bankrupt future generations by living beyond its means. Obituaries of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore who died this week at age 91, broke down into roughly two camps: He was a hero, building a “clean as Disneyland” republic that runs like a Swiss watch. He was an autocrat, who built a successful economy but crushed opponents and journalists who challenged his “managed” democracy.  Both statements have big elements of truth. I take a third approach, based on a fascinating visit I made to Singapore earlier this month. Lee Kuan Yew, a member of Britain’s left-wing Labour party while a student at Cambridge, managed to create a workable welfare state, one that provides for people without creating Social Security–like Ponzi schemes or unsustainable entitlements. Both liberals and conservatives have much to learn from what he built, the details of which are missing in most of the tributes to him.  Lee’s first priority when he became prime minister in 1959 was to reimagine Singapore’s economy. “Back then, this place was a swamp, with no natural resources, and it even had to import its drinking water from Malaysia,” Jim Rogers, a noted American investor who has lived in Singapore for nearly a decade, told me during my visit there.  By embracing free trade, capital formation, vigorous meritocratic education, low taxes, and a reliable judicial system, Lee raised the per capita income of his country from $500 a year to some $52,000 a year today. That’s 50 percent higher than that of Britain, the colonial power that ruled Singapore for 150 years. Its average annual growth rate has averaged 7 percent since the 1970s. “A 2010 study showed more patents and patent applications from the small city-state of Singapore (population 5.6 million) than from Russia (population 140 million),” noted economist Thomas Sowell observes. But that wealth wasn’t used to create a traditional welfare state. Economist Mark Skousen notes that Singapore is rated along with Hong Kong as one of the two most free economies in the world. Any expansion of government is gradual and grudging. In 2013, when Singapore broadened its medical-benefits program, the local Straits Times newspaper made clear the government’s philosophy: “The first [priority] is to keep government subsidies targeted at those who most need them, rather than commit to benefits for all. Universal benefits are ‘wasteful and inequitable,’ and hard to take away once given, [finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam] said.” That mindset is embodied in Singapore’s philosophy of welfare, which rests on four pillars: Each generation should pay its own way. Each family should pay its own way. Each individual should pay his own way. Only after passing through these three filters should anyone turn to the government for help. But it will be there when needed. Singapore’s approach to the provision of health care, retirement income, and housing is in sharp distinction to that of other countries. People are required to make relatively high payments into savings plans from which they can later buy a home, pay tuition, and purchase a variety of insurance policies. For those under age 50, the employee contributes 20 percent of his income, and the employer 16 percent. A third of the employee’s share is put into a private Medisave account. When the balance reaches 34,100 U.S. dollars, any excess funds can be used for non-health-care purposes. All are enrolled in a catastrophic-health-care plan, although they can opt out.  MORE LEE KUAN YEW, FATHER OF THE SINGAPORE MIRACLE LEE KUAN YEW’S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN SINGAPORE’S ECONOMIC SUCCESS Health-care expert John Goodman is credited (along with economist Richard Rahn) with first proposing medical savings accounts in the U.S. He says Singapore shows that they can work as the backbone of a health-care system. “The issue is,” he says, “can individuals be counted on to manage their own health-care dollars responsibly, or does health care work better if all the dollars are controlled by government or insurance companies?” The answer is clear.  Not only is Singapore’s population healthy, but the private sector dominates health-care spending, and consumer choice keeps health-care costs down. In Singapore, the government’s share of health-care spending has fallen to 20 percent, down from 50 percent 30 years ago. “Singapore has found a rational way to provide services that are provided by legalized Ponzi schemes in the rest of the developed world,” Goodman told me in an interview. “Those governments have made promises they must either default on or impose draconian taxes to pay for. Singapore has avoided that problem.” It’s no wonder that other countries constantly consult Singapore for guidance on how to turbo-charge their economies. In 2011, Ghana’s vice president, John Dramani Mahama, told a visiting delegation from Singapore that his country “takes a lot of inspiration from Singapore in their economic transformation from a third- into a first-world country.” There is less to emulate from Singapore’s brand of politics. As Frank Lavin, a former U.S. ambassador to Singapore from 2001 to 2005, notes: “Lee believed that open politics can lead to demagoguery, rent-seeking, and short-term thinking. Yet over time, Singapore did become more open, allowing for both political debate and contested elections. . . . Of Lee’s many successes, his most important legacy might be the move to that more open political system to complement the open economics.” But from my visit there, I believe that the least appreciated part of Lee Kwan Yew’s legacy is his method of ensuring that one generation won’t bankrupt future generations by selfishly living beyond its means. It’s a welfare state that works, and one he always said was available to any political leader with the courage to tell his people the truth about the limits of government’s power to pass out goodies. — John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for NRO.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416071/singapore-lee-kuan-yew-built-welfare-state-works-john-fund

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