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Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued an alert on Tuesday (18 June) of phone scammers who claimed to be from the ministry.

The ministry stated on a Facebook post that on 18 June 2019, three members of the public informed MFA that they have received suspicious calls from a person claiming to be from MFA, and asking them to log on to a certain website to make monetary transfers.

The ministry noted that the phone number displayed on the receivers’ phones is that of the MFA Main Line – 6379 8000.

However, according to the ministry, the members of the public were unable to recall details of the said website.

“This is a scam,” the ministry stressed, saying that scammers are able to use spoofing technology to mask the actual phone number to display MFA’s number.

The ministry then asked members of the public to take the following precautionary measures when they receive unsolicited calls:

– Do not send money to the caller. MFA officers will not make calls to ask for fund transfers.

– Do not provide personal information such as your name, identification number, passport information, bank account or credit card details to suspicious or unknown parties.

– If you receive suspicious calls claiming to be from MFA, hang up, wait a few minutes, then call MFA at 6379 8000 to verify its authenticity.

MFA also asked members of the public who happen to have any information on such scams to call the Police hotline at 1800-255 0000 or submit a report online.

The post MFA alerts members of the public of phone scammers asking to make monetary transfers appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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As journalists do their best to cover the historic extradition bill protests in Hong Kong this past few days, stories are surfacing about the violent treatment of on-the-ground reporters and media personnel by the police. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has filed a complaint to a police watchdog over 27 such cases.

According to allegations lodged with the Independent Police Complaints Council on Monday (17 June), journalists in Hong Kong fell victim to tear gas deployed by police forces, baton beatings and violence, and unjustified searches and obstruction.

The HKJA at the same time wrote a letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor calling for an independent investigation to look into whether the police were acting on official orders to respond in the manner they did.

“The association has sufficient reason to believe that [the police officers involved] used unnecessary violence and intimidation against some people who were evidently journalists, that far exceeded the legal enforcement rights the police can use to keep public order,” the HKJA said

The association listed 10 cases of police firing tear gas in the direction of reporters at a short range – three of those cases resulted in reporters being hit on the head directly with the substance. There were also incidents officers damaging journalists’ equipment with batons or harming the journalists themselves. In one case, a reporter was allegedly injured by rounds of rubber bullets or beanbags.

Additionally, the HJKA listed eight complaints involving the police pushing or chasing reporters with shields and batons to prevent them from observing the clearance of protesters by police forces. At least one reporter was injured in the scuffle.

Finally, there were also two cases of officers using their flashlights to disrupt photo-taking and three cases of searches without justification.

The association pointed out that in all cases the victims were clearly identifiable as journalists or media personnel from their reflective vests and helmets with the word “PRESS” written on them on to of media badges. Journalists also clearly identified themselves to the police and were not among protesters.

SCMP reported that the HJKA informed the independent council that most of the reporters were willing to submit evidence to the council to back their complaints. The few who did not want to come forward out of safety concerns or employer restrictions had already provided the relevant evidence to the association.

What if this happens in Singapore?

Reading reports of unfolding events in Singapore, in particular these complaints lodged by the HJKA to an independent council against the police, it begs the question of how the same incident would play out in Singapore. Can journalists make any complaints against the police to an independent watchdog in Singapore?

A key thing to note is that there is no such independent watchdog here. Should a media personnel have a complaint against the police, the only formal avenue they have is to file that complaint with the internal affairs department of the police. But really, that’s just the police policing themselves.

In fact, we could say that TOC is the closest thing to an independent watchdog when it comes to monitoring complaints from the public. We get messages and emails every day from the public sharing their concerns and complaints.

But clearly, an organised independent body whose authority is respected and relied by all parties will be more effective.

Another point to note is the Public Order Act amendments. The POA enables the police to seize recordings made of law enforcement activities:

Basically what this means is that the police are effectively allowed to hold onto any incriminating evidence against them. Will the authorities release such evidence in the case of complaints made against them?

For example, the case of 14 year old Benjamin Lim who was picked up at school by the police when a complaint was made against the boy for outrage of modesty. In that case, the police claimed that their officers who went to the school did not wear any t-shirts with the word ‘police’ or the police logo, but there is not video or photo evidence every provided to corroborate their stance.

If Hong Kong as a similar provision to Singapore (Section 38 of the Public Order Act), the journalists who were victims of harsh treatment by the police wouldn’t be able to present their evidence to the council.

The post Hong Kong Journalists Association lodges complaints to independent watchdog against police treatment of media during protest; Would Singapore journalists have the same means? appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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Come 2020, the old Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system will be replaced with a new one that will charge motorists based on the distance they travel on congested road, instead of the flat-fee that they currently pay.

This can be done as motorists will be charged using an advanced satellite system with this new ERP system.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) told The Straits Times that the existing ERP in-vehicle units (IUs) will be replaced with new on-board units (OBUs) in stages from 2020.

It is said that in term of size, OBU will bigger than the current IU as it will show more information like charges given to motorists for a particular journey.

Photo Credit: mycarforum.com

According to LTA, the new OBUs will offer motorists more “value-added” services which include:

  • Automatic payment for Off-Peak Cars usage;
  • Electronic payment for roadside parking;
  • Electronic payment for checkpoint tolls; and
  • Provision of relevant real-time traffic information tailored to one’s location

Upon full installation of the distance-based charging system in the whole of Singapore, about 80 ERP gantries will be removed. However, the current and new ERP system will co-exist during the transition period.

As for the transition period, it will most likely take more than a year, and about one million OBUs will be installed in vehicles.

The first replacement most probably will take place at vehicle inspection centres and appointed workshops, and will be free of charge.

Upon reading this new announcement, netizens raised their concerns on privacy issues that this new satellite-based ERP will cause.

Commenting on Mothership’s and ST‘s Facebook pages, they said that the Government will now know the whereabouts of all vehicles due to its GPS tracking system.

Others added that this system may cause motorists more money as they will now have to pay just to go somewhere nearby like to the supermarket. People who stay far will also have to suffer as distance-based charges will badly affect them. Since the Government has been pushing citizens to “live in far flung areas” this will be unfair to them.

Others were totally unimpressed with the Government’s move as they are not doing anything to ease the citizens’ high cost of living. They added that instead of trying to hike Singaporeans’ salary to meet the country’s demands, the Government is doing all in their power “to make more money” for themselves.

The post Online users raise privacy concerns with the soon-to-be implemented satellite distance-based ERP appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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The Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s lawmaking body, has passed a resolution urging the government of Hong Kong to withdraw its divisive extradition Bill.

The resolution, which was passed on Mon (18 Jun) after negotiations during an extraordinary meeting, also called upon the city’s government to “listen to its people with humility and minimize conflict”.

“Hong Kong people have voiced their concerns through massive protests. The Legislative Yuan caucuses do not agree with the Hong Kong government’s forceful way of handling the mass movement.

“In accordance with the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights, anti-crime cooperation should not be codified in a bill that erodes human rights.

“Hong Kong people have the right to seek their own democracy and freedom. We will always support those universal values and oppose any violation of human rights and freedom,” according to the Legislative Yuan’s resolution.

The lawmaking body also urged the Taiwanese government to offer assistance to the people of Hong Kong.

“To support Hong Kong’s democracy, rule-based system, freedom and democracy amid mass action that turned bloody, the government should provide necessary assistance to Hong Kong residents whose safety is at risk for political reasons, pursuant to Article 18 and related clauses of the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macao Affairs.”

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan was quoted by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) as saying in his address to the people of Hong Kong: “You are not alone; Taiwan is with you.”

Previously on Sun (16 Jun), an estimated 10,000 people – including Taiwanese youth, Hong Kongers residing in Taiwan, and members of civil society – had attended a rally outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Taiwan’s CNA reported that organisers of the protest had branded Mrs Lam’s decision to suspend any legislative debate on the extradition Bill the day prior as simply a “delaying tactic”.

A Hong Kong citizen who requested to be identified only as “Cynthia” told CNA that she had attended the rally because she believes that “suspension does not equal withdrawal.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia Bureau chief Cédric Alviani reportedly told the protestors that “Beijing would no longer have to resort to abduction” should the Bill be tabled, approved and subsequently passed.

“They would simply have the Hong Kong authorities hand over whomever they wish to silence,” CNA reported Alviani as saying. “Suspending the bill is not enough, it must be rejected once and for all.”

The post Taiwan’s legislative body passes resolution in support of Hong Kongers’ opposition to extradition Bill appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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The Hong Kong protests have had a ripple effect across the globe, even in Singapore, sparking conversations and debate over the issues being protested in Hong Kong and shining a light on certain matters at home as well.

In Hong Kong, people are protesting the controversial Extradition Bill that the city’s Executive Council is trying to push through the legislative branch. This law, should it pass, would drastically alter Hong Kong’s current extradition laws and would allow China to extradite fugitives in Hong Kong over to the mainland. This, many experts and critics of the Bill say, is a deadly threat to Hong Kong’s autonomy from China under the One Country, Two Systems policy.

Taiwan-based Singapore activist and blogger Roy Ngerng took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the effects that the Hong Kong protests is having on people living in Singapore.

A divided Singapore

Noting that while the protests have united Hong Kongers, the same event has split the Singaporean public into two camps: those concerned about similar protests in Singapore and those hoping for the same.

Mr Ngerng wrotes, “The strength in Hong Kong’s protests have caused concern among those in Singapore who have benefited from the system in Singapore, to be concerned that they will lose what they have if those who have not benefited were to do a similar protest. What you are hearing from this group is, Singapore is such a good place, Singapore is so stable, we must not have the same riot in Singapore.

Conversely, he pointed out that the other group are “people who have been forgotten by the system in Singapore, the people who feel left behind, or who have been hurt by it.” These people, he says, support the protestors in Hong Kong who are fighting for their rights and for their autonomy.

A victory for the Hong Kong people “is a victory for us living in authoritarian regimes who feel powerless, to have a sense of hope, that the same is possible.”He elaborated that those who have benefitted from the system want to protect it. They want to protect the wealth and prestige that the system has afforded them. Specifically, Mr Ngerng says that “they fear that when Singapore becomes a more equal place, they can no longer hoard their wealth and power.”

Acknowledging that his outline of the scenario is ‘simplistic’, he says that the protests in Hong Kong have brought about “verbal output of fear from one side, and a silent hope on the other side”, a development that he thinks is necessary.

However, he laments that he doesn’t think people will ‘learn enough’ to actual transform Singapore into a ‘more equal place’. He says, “You are talking about a group of people who have benefited from the system for the past few decades, and suddenly you want them to give it all up?”

Candidly, Mr Ngerng adds that “change will never come under the PAP because they have already taken too much that it’s too painful for them to give it up.”

Pointing to the Hong Kong protests, Mr Ngerng says it is a sign to the ruling party in Singapore that ‘their power is not limitless’ and that there will come a day when they will lose. This, he says, is why many Singaporeans are inspired by Hong Kong and it’s over 2 million protesters. “That they can march…and their government will be scared.”

Democracy for all

Referring to his own activism, Mr Ngerng – who was a prominent opposition politician in Singapore  before moving to Taiwan in 2016 – says he is fighting for a more equal society where the poor will be able poor no more, where the elderly can retire comfortably with respect and dignity, and where the ill are able to seek treatment without having to worry about finance.

“And I believe in democracy. I know that when people have the freedom to speak, the freedom to think, they will learn to come together and discuss ideas, solutions, and such exchanges will enrich the solutions we can develop, and make Singapore a better place. And I believe in this freedom for everyone,” he says, adding that Singapore would not be so divided if there was ‘real’ democracy and freedom.

He then slams those who think that Hong Kong should not fight, those who think the city should let China take over. He asks, “How is it fair that we want democracy for ourselves, that we want a voice for ourselves, but we do not want democracy for others? How can it be fair when we know what it is like to be under an authoritarian regime which robs us of our power, but we would gladly allow another authoritarian regime to rob others of theirs?”

Mr Ngerng argues that if we know that democracy and freedom are the foundations upon which societies are built, then we should wish for those values in Hong Kong, not only for the people in Hong Kong but for people in mainland China as well, who are generally afforded fewer freedoms.

Bringing it back to Singapore, Mr Ngerng urges citizens on the island to know their strength. “You fight to reclaim your home, to reclaim your right to be who you are, to be free, to be able to think, to be able to dream, and to fight for one another, and to make your home a better place.”

The post Activist Roy Ngerng urges Singaporeans to be inspired by the fight for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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Workers’ Party’s Member of Parliament (MP) for Huogang SMC Png Eng Huat took to his Facebook on Saturday (15 June) to question who is in charge of implementing Housing Development Board’s Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP).

NRP was introduced by HDB in 2007 to handle block and neighbourhood improvements, and it is fully-funded by the Government.

In Mr Png’s post, he explained that the construction of the first void deck for elderly and adult fitness corner is currently taking place at Huogang.

Since the town council (TC) is actively implementing NRP initiatives in the area, residents have strangely been receiving publicity about the upgrading works from the previously defeated People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate, Lee Hong Chuang.

As such, Mr Png said it prompted the residents to wonder “who is actually carrying out the NRP plans for the estate, as they all understood it to be the WP-run TC.”

According to the MP, this question was actually answered by PAP three years ago during the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election. The ruling party clarified that if a candidate is not elected as a MP, he/she along with the party’s TC will not be allowed to carry out any NRP plans for the estate.

“The PAP added it is the TC that prioritizes and nominates the neighbourhoods for NRP, when it applies for government funding. The PAP candidate for the by-election also said that the implementation of NRP was incumbent on ‘whoever Bukit Batok residents choose..to lead the town council,” he clarified.

If that is not all, HDB also mentioned in its website that TC will be the one who implements the NRP, Mr Png added.

In fact, in 2016, PAP’s candidate Murali Pillai for the Bukit Batok by-election unveiled S$1.9 million worth of infrastructure plans for the neighbourhood, and noted that he will only be able to carry out the plans only if he is elected.

“If we don’t have the mandate, then we won’t have the ability to carry on because we will not form the town council. That’s the rule,” Mr Pillai was quoted by ST.

Since the Mr Lee was defeated in the last election, some Huogang residents asked how could he “claim or imply that he was implementing the NRP, when his own party said it cannot be done unless the candidate was elected”.

As such, Mr Png questioned: “Has the PAP gone back on its word or was the defeated candidate misguided? If a PAP candidate is expected to implement the NRP, come what may, even if he is not elected as MP, then why did the PAP mislead the voters of Bukit Batok in 2016. The party has to decide which is which.”

Having said that, Mr Png said that since the people of Huogang have selected him to lead the TC since 2012, he “will continue to implement the upgrading plans for the estate” and not think about the “political doublespeak to mislead, confuse, and divide the community over such public-funded programmes.”

TOC has reached out to Mr Lee for his comments.

The post MP Png Eng Huat questions who implements HDB’s Neighbourhood Renewal Programme – current WP MP or defeated PAP candidate? appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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On Sunday (16 June), Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim took to his Facebook to pen a Father’s Day wish to all.

In his post, he posted a picture with Workers’ Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh and stated that the Opposition politician and his team paid a visit to Nee Soon on Father’s Day, something that was “very infrequent in the last year”.

Dr Faishal added that he bumped into Mr Singh during his walkabout where he was with his volunteers greeting residents and handing out Father’s Day cards to them.

“The last time we saw them (Mr Singh and team) in Nee Soon was more than eight months ago – Nov 2018. And before that, we them in February last year,” he wrote.

Just to note, Dr Faishal is the MP for Nee Soon GRC since 2011, whereas Mr Singh oversees the Eunos division in Aljunied GRC.

Following Dr Faishal’s post, many netizens slammed him for his “classless low blow” and questioned his intention of uploading this post. They said that he is politicising the whole incident of meeting Mr Singh for his gain, and “backstabbing” him by noting his lack of attendance at Nee Soon in recent times.

Facebook user Jennifer Lee noted that Dr Faishal’s post “speaks volumes about the character of the writer and the other one who shared it”. She added that Mr Singh definitely has more courage to stand up to speak against policies that PAP tried to pass as some of them were to the disadvantage of Singaporeans. As such, she asked Dr Faishal’s contribution on matters like this, indicating that she prefers a politician that fights for his/her people’s right rather than those who pose at social events.

A group of online users also highlighted that it is not fair for Dr Faishal to judge Mr Singh’s attendance at Nee Soon because he is not actually the MP to the area. In fact, it makes more sense to see Dr Faishal more frequently at Nee Soon as the area is under his care.

On the other hand, some online users said that they’ve never heard of Dr Faishal before until this post, whereas noting that they’re well-aware of Mr Singh due to all the work he has done in years. An user named Ah Long mentioned that he heard that Dr Faishal has one of the poorest attendance in Parliament in two years, but Mr Singh has always been seen in all Parliament seating since 2011.

 

James Quah wrote that discrediting another politician openly shows that Dr Faishal has very little class, adding that he shouldn’t use social media for his personal agenda. If that is not all, he also expressed that the politician leaves a lasting impression on him after hearing about him for the first time.

The post Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim slammed for his ‘classless’ Facebook post on Father’s Day appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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The number of common cyber threats detected in Singapore saw a decrease in 2018, although Singapore continues to be the target of cyber-attacks by advanced actors. said the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) in the Singapore Cyber Landscape 2018 publication on Tuesday (18 June).

The authority stated that common cyber threats – such as website defacements, phishing, ransomware and Command and Control (C&C) servers – were observed to have decreased in 2018 compared to the year before.

According to CSA’s report, 605 website defacements were detected in 2018, as compared to 2,040 in 2017.

It said that most of the defaced websites belonged to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), although larger organisations, as well as two Singapore Government websites, were also affected.

Notably, CSA noted that it observed a spike in defacements in November 2018, likely caused by an attacker exploiting vulnerabilities in an unpatched web server. 101 websites – belonging to various businesses hosted on this web server – were compromised by the same attacker in a single day.

As for phishing, there was a 30 per cent decrease in phishing URLs with a Singapore-link, from 23,420 URLs in 2017 to 16,100 URLs in 2018.

Phishing emails typically spoof a legitimate source to trick users into clicking on dubious links or opening file attachments. Companies in the banking and financial services, technology and file hosting services made up almost 90 per cent of spoofed companies in 2018.

There were also 21 ransomware cases reported to CSA in 2018, a decrease from 25 in 2017. Ransomware remains lucrative and continues to evolve in sophistication.

CSA said that GandCrab, one of the more aggressive forms of ransomware, infected a private financial institution in Singapore in February 2018. Europol has warned that targeted attacks which are tailored to specific organisations such as GandCrab and SamSam, may become the new normal.

In 2018, CSA also observed about 300 unique C&C servers in Singapore, a 60 per cent decrease from 2017. In addition, almost 2,900 botnet drones with Singapore IP addresses were observed on a daily basis in 2018.

Of the 470 malware variants detected in 2018, five – Gamarue, Conficker, Mirai, WannaCry and Gamut – accounted for over half of the observed infections. The prevalence of these malware variants indicates that many users have yet to adopt protective measures such as patching their devices and using anti-virus software.

The Singapore Police Force reported that cybercrime continued to rise, with 6,179 cases reported in 2018 and accounting for about 19 percent of the overall crime in Singapore.

1,204 cases were investigated under the Computer Misuse Act, an increase of about 40 per cent compared to 2017. Online scams continued to be a concern, with about 2,125 e-commerce scams reported in 2018, where victims lost a total of about S$1.9 million.

According to the authorities, 70 per cent of such scams took place on e-commerce platform Carousell and involved electronic products and tickets to events and attractions. Separately, 378 business email impersonation scams were observed in 2018, up from 332 cases in 2017.

CSA noted that businesses in Singapore suffered losses of close to S$58 million in 2018, an increase of about 31 per cent from 2017.

Source: CSA. Source: CSA.

Despite the decrease in the number of common cyber threats detected in 2018, CSA stressed that Singapore has been, and will continue to be, the target of cyber-attacks by Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups and other actors.

In 2018, notable incidents included cyber-attacks on SingHealth and a number of universities in Singapore. Other incidents where SingCERT rendered assistance included a compromise on a training institute’s web servers by crypto-mining malware and an email extortion scam on a member of the public by a scammer using the victim’s leaked email address and password.

“These incidents highlight the need for organisations, businesses and individuals to stay vigilant and strengthen their cybersecurity to keep pace with increasingly targeted and sophisticated threats,” said CSA.

The report also identified six anticipated cybersecurity trends in the near future, which include more frequent data breaches, increased threat to global supply chains and more disruptive attacks against the Cloud.

Smart buildings and connected systems will also face greater risks of attacks, given the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and connected industrial control systems.

In addition, threat actors may leverage on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to search for vulnerabilities and create smarter malware. They are also likely to target and manipulate biometric data to build virtual identities and gain access to personal information.

Mr David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity and Chief Executive of CSA, said, “Cybersecurity incidents made some of the biggest headlines in 2018. Data breaches across various industries affecting high-profile organisations were reported but smaller businesses and individual users were not spared either. We have to learn from these incidents and push further in our cybersecurity efforts collectively as a nation, so that we can defend ourselves against increasingly sophisticated threats and prepare ourselves for a digital future.”

The post Fewer cases of common cyber threats detected in Singapore in 2018 appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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Residents of Sin Ming Court decided to take fate into their hands this time and voted to allow the red junglefowl in the area to continue roaming free.

Residents in that corner of Bishan didn’t want the fowls removed from the estate despite complaints of noise caused by the birds. This is a different outcome to what happened back in 2017 when authorities resorted to culling the resident birds after receiving multiple complaints.

A poll was conducted by the Thomson Sin Ming Court residents’ committee (RC) following the recent noise complaints from residents pertaining to the fowls. Residents could either let the authorities relocated the free-roaming fowls or leave them alone. No information was given on where the wild birds would be relocated to.

Over 90% out of more than 1,000 residents voted to leave them alone. Submitting their responses to the RC in a voluntary polled that closed on 31 May, residents decided to keep their feathery friends around.

Straits Times reported that they saw more than a dozen of these wild birds within the Sin Ming Court estate on a visit to the neighbourhood about two weeks ago.

Most residents told ST that the birds do not bother them but the early morning crowing did ruffle some feathers. An unnamed resident who had voted for relocation said the birds’ 4am calls would wake her light-sleeping helper.

“When I first moved here, I actually liked the kampung feel,” the 40-year-old homemaker said, describing the feeling she got with the fowls running free. But if it bothers one of my family members, (the birds) would have to go,” she told ST.

On the other hand, a Mr John Lee who did not vote in the poll said that the birds added a distinctness to the estate.

“I do hear the crowing in the morning, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s a sound of nature,” said the 66-year-old taxi driver, who has lived in the estate for more than 10 years.

Though sometimes difficult to tell apart at first glance, red junglefowl are the wild relative of the domestic chicken. These wild birds are larger than the domestic variety and have grey legs compared to the standard yellow legs of regular chickens.

The red junglefowl is actually native to Singapore and is considered an endangered species as its population has been dwindling since the 1980s. Habitat loss, poaching, and interbreeding with the domestic variety has led to a decline in their numbers. While these birds are usually found on Pulau Ubin and in the western catchment area near Lim Chu Kang, it appears they’ve been spotted making a home in other parts of Singapore in recent years.

Group director of community and animal management at the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) – a cluster of the National Parks Board – told ST that AVS employs a science-based approach in management free-range poultry.

The AVS studies movement and roosting patterns, puts in place measures such as removal of food sources by humans, and assess the risks that the birds might pose to public health.

She said, “The community can help mitigate human-animal interaction issues with free-ranging chickens and other birds by not feeding them or leaving food scraps, which would attract them.”

Touching on the consultative approach that the authorities adopted in response to complaints of noise by residents, National University of Singapore biology lecturer N Sivasothi welcomes the method and suggests that steps could be taken to understand the extent of feeding as well, which typically increases population levels.

“As we see the fruit of greening and connecting our urban environments, animals will be seen more often, and education about co-existence is important to introduce to communities which have had little contact with nature in the past.

“This also applies to those who feed wildlife deliberately or accidentally,” he said.

Fowl me once, fowl me twice

This isn’t the first time on the island we’ve heard complaints about our fowl friends. In January 2017, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) put down 24 chickens in Sin Ming following over 20 resident complaints of noise. The move sparked an outcry across Singapore, with people questioning the need for such drastic measures against relatively harmless animals and whether those birds were in fact the endangered red junglefowls instead of domestic chickens.

Later in April, another culling was done, this time in the Sungei Api Api area in Pasir Ris. A flock of 10 birds or more were culled down to just two or three. Residents were furious that AVA did the culling without even informing or consulting the residents. Again, residents noted that those were the endangered native variety.

During a parliamentary session on 2 February 2017 on the incident at Sin Ming, Nee Soon MP Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister of State for National Development Dr Koh Poh Koon about the authorities’ methods in dealing with these creatures.

Specifically, he questioned Dr Koh’s description of the animals as ‘chickens’.

Dr Koh said, “Some have suggested that the chickens could be relocated to the wild, for example, in places like in Pulau Ubin or other forested areas. But the chickens in Sin Ming and in most of our urban settings are highly unlikely to be of native stock and are therefore different from our indigenous breed of Red Junglefowl, which is an endangered species known to occur only in Pulau Ubin and the Western Catchment area. ”

Mr Ng, on the other hand, pointed out, “I have seen the photographs of the chickens or some of them at Sin Ming Avenue. They are indeed a Red Junglefowl. There are two birds there: the domestic chickens and the Red Junglefowl. Just to clarify because AVA had mentioned earlier that the free-ranging chickens seen on mainland Singapore are not the Red Junglefowl. That statement is inaccurate.”

In response, Dr Koh suggested that experts could be engaged and genetic studies could be done to determine the exact species of the fowls in question.

The thing is, the ST article reporting on the two incidents in 2017 also used the term ‘red junglefowl’ to describe the birds that were culled, noting that the residents in those areas were certain of the species and pointed out the distinctive grey legs as proof.

So did Dr Koh misrepresent the issue in parliament and to the general public when he continued to refer to the birds as chickens? And what is the argument for culling those animals without confident confirmation that they were actually domestic chickens and not red junglefowls?

The post Birds saved by Sin Ming residents – residents say its red junglefowl, authorities disagree appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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NTUC FairPrice issued a press release yesterday (17 Jun), announcing that both Merdeka Generation (MG) and Pioneer Generation (PG) members will be able to enjoy a 3% discount at FairPrice outlets every Wednesday starting from 1 July next month. This is the first time the discount scheme is extended to MG members.

Meanwhile, PG members will continue to enjoy an additional day of discount every Monday.

That is to say, on Mondays, PG members will get the 3% discount while on Wednesdays, both PG and MG members will get the 3% discount.

This FairPrice promotion for both PG and MG members, however, will only last for 1 year, ending in Jun 2020.

Previously, when the PG Package was announced by the government in 2014 for PG members, FairPrice followed suit by introducing the 3% discount scheme for them as well, but only for a year. It was then extended 4 times in end 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In the last extension for PG members in Dec last year, FairPrice announced that it would extend the discount for PG members by only 6 months until Jun 30 this month. However, with yesterday’s announcement, FairPrice extended the discount again – the 5th time – for PG members till end Jun next year, coinciding with the end of the discount promotion for MG members as well.

Speaking at the Bloomberg New Economic Forum last Nov, PM Lee said that general elections may be called as soon as this year. He was asked if Singapore’s bicentennial celebration of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival this year may be a reason to bring forward the general election which is due to be held in 2021. He then said, “It’s always possible. There are many reasons to bring elections forward for a party, so we’ll see.”

It’s not known if the 3% discount promotion for MG and PG members till next Jun is in anyway connected to the coming General Election.

Seah: Giving discounts also aims to encourage community to honour and show appreciation to seniors

FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng, who is also the a Member of Parliament in Marine Parade GRC, said, “This additional benefit to MG members is a simple gesture by FairPrice in appreciation to our seniors for their contribution in developing Singapore as a vibrant nation with a cohesive community.”

“We have also extended the PG Discount scheme for another year and consolidated the benefits so that both discounts may be enjoyed on Wednesdays and makes it easier for our customers to remember,” he added.

“Beyond helping seniors to save more on daily essentials, these efforts also aim to encourage the community as a whole to honour and show their appreciation for our seniors.”

The year-long extension of the PG Discount Scheme, along with the inclusion of the MG Discount Scheme and Seniors Discount Scheme is estimated to cost FairPrice more than $9.8 million over the next 12 months, NTUC said.

Still, the less than $10 million cost is a small price to pay if it helps to enhance the image of the ruling government in the coming election.

The post MP Seah: Fairprice’s 1-yr discounts to seniors in appreciation for their contribution to SG appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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