Balancing profit and motive

SINGAPORE (Dec 10): On Dec 5, the UK government published a trove of internal Facebook emails and other documents that suggested the social media platform sought to trade users’ data with advertisers, or wield it for strategic advantage with third-party applications. Facebook has been under increasing scrutiny amid privacy concerns, and the backlash to the news was to be expected. In its defence, Facebook said it was seeking a way to ensure the sustainability of its business.

Of planes, ships and chendol

SINGAPORE (Dec 10): When CNN dubbed the Singapore version of chendol one of the top 50 desserts in the world this past week, Malaysians reacted with predictable outrage. And, the bitterness over the sweet dessert quickly proved to be an ill omen for bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore. Now, Malaysia wants to reclaim the management of airspace over south Johor, while Singapore is protesting the intrusion of Malaysian vessels into its territorial waters.

Fintech boom is underway but stock market is wary

SINGAPORE (Nov 26): On Nov 22, loss-making circuit board manufacturer CPH said it was pivoting from its competition-ridden core business to financial technology via a reverse takeover (RTO) of alternative financing provider oCap in a deal worth $61.8 million.

Under the terms of the deal, CPH will issue 5.15 billion new shares at 1.2 cents apiece. oCap is now held by an entity called Delphinium Capital, in turn owned by insurer Swiss Life Holding. It has a paid-up share capital of $21 million.

Genocide can't be good for business

SINGAPORE (Nov 19): It was only three years ago, after the watershed elections in November 2015 that saw Aung San Suu Kyi transition from democracy icon under house arrest to Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto leader, that Myanmar began to emerge from years of economic isolation. In 2016, the US lifted some of its economic sanctions; in 2017, there were 3.44 million tourist arrivals into the country, 18% more than the year before.

Tech and ethics: Regulation is not the only way

SINGAPORE (Nov 12): Reid Hoffman, who co-founded LinkedIn and was chief operating officer at PayPal before that, has come out to say he is for “some regulation” in the tech industry — provided it does not stifle innovation and jeopardise the US tech industry’s leadership.

Asia's food security: Why do we care?

SINGAPORE (Nov 12): In 2010, electrical engineer David Tan made his way from Singapore to a remote village in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He worked with the villagers, who mostly farm rice and corn, to fix some irrigation problems at a children’s home. The community gained better access to water, while Lin gained an appreciation for the farming community. He eventually decided to start a farming cooperative in Singapore called CrowdFarmX, which aims to train Southeast Asian farmers to adopt better farming practices and technologies to raise yield.

The Public Service: Seeking diversity

SINGAPORE (Nov 5): In the 1980s, with the first two decades of frantic economy-building behind it, the Singapore government turned to fine-tuning its human resource policies. It tapped what Royal Dutch Shell, the multinational oil company, was already doing. The Civil Service adapted concepts such as the CEP, or current estimated potential, to assess how far individuals could progress within the bureaucracy.

Regardless of wage, language or religion

SINGAPORE (Nov 5): In 1957, while on a beach holiday in Wales, British sociologist and disillusioned Labour Party member Michael Young bumped into an old friend, who had started a publishing house. The following year, Thames & Hudson published The Rise of the Meritocracy, Young’s futuristic satire on the state of society in the UK. The thesis warned against allowing education to engineer a new social bifurcation — between the elites in power based on the notion of merit, and the disenfranchised masses of the less-merited.

Game, on

SINGAPORE (Oct 29): In August, the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta had a special showcase. The 5,000-capacity BritAma Arena, normally a venue for Indonesia’s top basketball league’s games, was the stage for quite a different kind of game. Speed, reflexes and dexterity were on display and the players donned team jerseys. But they were also rigged out with headphones and microphones; the battles were virtual, rather violent and high fantasy, fought among medieval soldiers, magicians, maidens and monsters.

Crooked bridge over troubled water

SINGAPORE (Oct 22): It must be exhausting for officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to have to constantly correct statements in Malaysia.

For instance, they had to disabuse Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian this past week of what he thought will be discussed during his visit to Singapore on Oct 27. Osman reportedly said the construction of the “crooked bridge” would be on the table. Other items he said would be on the agenda were the price at which Singapore buys raw water from Malaysia, as well as bilateral development and investments.

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