Singapore jumps 11 spots, surpasses Hong Kong in EIU liveability ranking for the first time ever

Singapore moves up the Global Liveability Ranking list to its highest-ever spot this year.
The Straits Times
The perks of living in Singapore are increasing, the results of a new global study shows. Singapore jumped 11 places on the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Global Liveability Ranking this year to take the 35th spot among 140 cities across the world. For the first time ever, the city-state rose above Hong Kong, which fell two spots into 45th place despite an unchanged score. Cities in EIU's list are given scores for their lifestyle challenges. According to EIU, improving educational attainment indicators boosted Singapore to its highest-ever position in the ranking. "Singapore's jump up the rankings can be attributed to consistent and impressive improvements in educational attainment, which has delivered a perfect score for education and pushed the overall score for the city-state above 90% for the first time since the survey began," Jon Copestake, editor of the survey said. [caption id="attachment_373043" align="alignnone" width="370"] EIU 2017 Liveability Index[/caption] "However it is worth remembering that, although ten ranking places now separate Hong Kong and Singapore the difference between them is marginal at just 1.6% and both comfortably sit in the top tier of liveability where there are few, if any, challenges to lifestyle," Copestake said. As expected, Melbourne in Australia topped the ranking for the seventh year running, while Damascus remained at the bottom. [caption id="attachment_373044" align="alignnone" width="822"] EIU 2017 Liveability Index[/caption] Globally, 12 cities saw liveability improve while six cities which recorded declines. Half of the cities which improved were in Asia and included Singapore, Shanghai, Bandar Seri Begawan, Phnom Penh, Colombo and Port Moresby. Most of these improvements were largely attributed to infrastructural improvements and broadening cultural availability. After a decade of consecutive declines, global liveability is finally showing an improvement, EIU said in its announcement of the list. "Although it is marginal, with an annual average improvement of just 0.06 percentage points across the overall scores of the 140 cities surveyed, it does represent a potential milestone for the ranking," the statement said. And while liveability appears to have stabilised, the study also noted that recent attacks in Manchester, London and Stockholm have highlighted the continued threat from global terrorism.

SE Asia Stocks-Singapore hits 1-month low as financials drag

Reuters
Singapore shares hit a one-month low on Wednesday, dragged down by financials, while other Southeast Asian stock markets were subdued in line with Asia as tensions in the Korean peninsula simmered down a little. The Singapore index lost as much as 1.1%, with financial stocks accounting for more than half of the losses. Top lenders DBS Group Holdings fell as much as 1.4% and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) slipped 1.8%. "The interest rates have not really been rising as much as people are expecting, so that will definitely impact the interest margin going forward," said Joel Ng, an analyst with KGI Securities in Singapore. "Another reason has also been that many of the oil and gas companies are now having huge write downs on their assets. I think that is also affecting the banks somewhat." Singapore's offshore and marine industry has been hit by low oil prices, weak charter rates and delays to projects, forcing many firms to restructure debt and cut costs. Energy stocks also fell, with offshore rig builder Keppel Corp shares were down as much as 1.7% on Wednesday, while Sembcorp Industries was down 1.3%. In Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.1%, while the dollar rallied to its highest level against a basket of major currencies in nearly three weeks. Thai shares fell 0.1%, hurt by financials and energy stocks. Telecommunications company Samart Corp fell as much as 4.4%, on track for a fifth session of losses. Thailand's central bank on Wednesday is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged where it has been more than two years, a Reuters poll showed. Philippine shares were marginally higher, while Indonesia rose as much as 0.3%.

What's Happening

The new Nokia 8 phone lets you take ‘bothies’ along with selfies — here’s what that means

The new Nokia 8 smartphone has an odd but interesting new camera mode that takes not just selfies, but "bothies."

IMF: It’s time to worry about China’s ‘dangerous’ debt

Citing other countries which have fuelled growth via taking on debt aggressively, the fund warned that the current trajectory of China's debt is 'dangerous.'

Philippines says China agrees on no new expansion in South China Sea

Reuters
Manila - China has assured the Philippines it will not occupy new features or territory in the South China Sea, under a new "status quo" brokered by Manila as both sides try to strengthen their relations, the Philippine defence minister said. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also said the Philippines was working on a "commercial deal" with China to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea with an aim to begin drilling within a year. The defence minister, Delfin Lorenzana, told a congressional hearing the Philippines and China had reached a "modus vivendi", or a way to get along, in the South China Sea that prohibits new occupation of islands. "The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal," Lorenzana told lawmakers late on Monday, referring to a prime fishing ground close to the Philippines that China blockaded from 2012 to 2016. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a waterway through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area. Asked about the Philippine comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and their nearby waters, and China would continue to dedicate itself to peacefully resolving the dispute through talks with the parties directly involved. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June last year, has courted China and avoided rows over maritime sovereignty that dogged his predecessors, while berating traditional ally the United States over several issues. China has built seven islands upon reefs in disputed areas, three of which, experts say, are capable of accommodating fighter jets. They have runways, radars and surface-to-air missiles which China says are for defence. Lorenzana did not comment when lawmakers, citing reports from the military, told him five Chinese ships had showed up almost 5 km off the Philippine-held Thitu Island in the Spratly archipelago on Saturday. The military's public affairs chief, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, declined to comment until the armed forces had the "whole picture on the current situation". 'Contrary to constitution' Cayetano assured lawmakers on Tuesday any energy deal with China would not violate the constitution and would conform to a 60-40% revenue sharing, weighted towards the Philippines. "We can come up with a commercial deal that is better than Malampaya in the disputed areas," Cayetano said, referring to an existing natural gas project off Palawan island between the government and Chevron, a resource which is due to be depleted by 2024. "How can any Filipino argue with that? ... It cannot violate the constitution." But such an arrangement could be complex and sensitive as both countries claim the oil and gas reserves. Sharing them could be construed as legitimising the other's claim, or even ceding sovereignty. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China's claim over most of the South China Sea in July last year. China has refused to recognise the ruling, which clarified Philippine sovereign rights to energy reserves within its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Philippine energy department last month said it may resume drilling for oil and gas on the Reed Bank, which is within the Philippine EEZ, before the end of the year, offering new blocks to investors in a bidding in December. The Philippines suspended exploration in the Reed Bank in late 2014 as it pursued the international arbitration. Minority lawmakers Gary Alejano and Edcel Lagman opposed the plan for an energy deal saying it would be illegal. "This is contrary to our constitution because these areas should be exclusively for Filipinos," Lagman said. Cayetano declined to give details of the talks and requested an executive session of congress to divulge information about the venture with a Chinese energy company, which he did not identify. Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine oil and gas firm PXP Energy Corp, said this month any joint venture would likely be with "a company like CNOOC", referring to the China National Offshore Oil Corp Officials from the foreign and energy ministries have said privately any deal would likely be commercial only and both sides would keep the issue of sovereignty out of the equation to avoid complications.

An executive at one of Singapore’s largest IT retailers reveals the top 5 gadgets that get millennials excited

As we progress further into the digital age, it’s become more apparent that IT gadgets have become inextricably intertwined with our daily lives. In fact, a recent survey conducted earlier this month showed that most of us probably won’t last more than a day without access to our mobile phones. While smart phones have been seen as essential gadgets across all age groups for years, tech gadgets are increasingly infiltrating our lives in the form of watches, fitness trackers and robotic assistants. Judging by how rapidly the industry evolves today, it is safe to say that the millennial generation is at the receiving end of most of the market's newest and most cutting-edge tech. So other than the newest iPhone or Android, what other gadgets seem to get their hearts pumping in anticipation? Business Insider reached out to Ms Loo Pei Fen, chief marketing officer of Challenger Technologies, which runs Hachi.tech, for some insight on the top five IT products that millennials look out for today. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Bluetooth devices Favoured by busy go-getters, wireless devices are well-liked because they solve the issue of having to deal with pesky cables. Additionally, they connect to multiple devices simultaneously, so users won't have to physically unplug from one device to connect to another. According to Ms Loo, some of the more popular brands include the sleek and simple Jaybird range and designer audio electronics brand Bang & Olufsen.
Freedom wireless buds
Jaybird product page
Beoplay M5 wireless speaker
Bang & Olufsen product page
2. Power banks  Ever rushed out of the home with only to be greeted with the dreaded "battery is low" alert on your phone? We've all been there. The need to charge one's phone (and other gadgets) while out and about is why high-capacity power banks have been Challenger's top selling products in recent years, Ms Loo says.
iWalk Extreme Trio 6000mAh Power Bank
Challenger product page
3. Touchscreen hybrids Millennials lead a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle and their gadgets are reflecting their choices. "Flat, touchscreen hybrids like the Microsoft Surface and Lenovo Yoga that toggle between being a workhorse and an entertainment tablet have become increasingly the norm," disclosed Ms Loo. These snazzy gadgets are portable devices that can function as either a laptop or tablet computer, with the added advantage of a touchscreen user interface.
Microsoft Surface Pro
Microsoft product page
Lenovo Yoga 900
Lenovo product page
4. Fitness trackers In this age, not much of our lives can escape the smart revolution. Even our workouts are smart these days. Being health-conscious means that millennials love having wearable fitness trackers tell them how healthy they've been. Some of the more popular brands you might have noticed at the gym include Fitbit and Garmin.
Alta HR
Fitbit product page
Vívosmart® HR+
Garmin product page
5. Drones Drones are so popular that they were the highlight of the National Day Parade this year. Considered one of the most resourceful and multipurpose innovations of this century, these devices are unmanned aircrafts controlled from the ground, or even pre-programmed to follow a certain route. Although it's primarily used in the military, commercial drones are available and they're quickly becoming one of the trendiest gadgets millennials want. That's why whenever new stock arrives, brands like DJI and Parrot often sell out quickly, says Ms Loo.  
Inspire 2
DJI product page
Mambo
Parrot product page

The original ‘Game of Thrones’ outline has Jaime Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne — here’s how it would have happened

George R.R. Martin's original "Game of Thrones" outline described Jaime Lannister coming to power.

Employees in Singapore are among most disgruntled in the region – and it’s getting worse

Are you a disgruntled employee? Well, you're definitely not alone. According to a new report, employees working in Singapore have become increasingly dissatisfied over the last three years. While global employee engagement has risen in recent years to 82% in 2016, only 73% of the 42,000 employees surveyed in Singapore were satisfied with the companies they worked for.
Mercer
In fact, Singapore is in the bottom three regionally when in comes to employee engagement.
Mercer
The Singapore Employee Engagement Index published by human resource consulting firm Mercer also reported that Singaporeans were less likely to endorse their organisations as good employers. Only 68% of Singapore employees surveyed by Mercer said they were willing to do so, compared to 76% in APAC. Many employees in Singapore are also not getting the right opportunities to learn and grow, with 20% of employees indicating that they were not receiving necessary feedback from their immediate managers to improve themselves. And despite strong government support for innovation, one in three employees here indicated that their company did not support the development of new ideas. Although 85% of employees said they were proud of the products and services their organisations offered, 30% felt that there weren't continual efforts to innovate these products. With such figures, it doesn't come as a surprise that for every three employees in Singapore, there was one who said that it was difficult to meet personal career goals in the organisations they worked for. At the same time, 95% of employees surveyed said that they wanted to be recognised and rewarded for a wider range of contributions. “Improving employee engagement continues to represent a significant opportunity - not just for businesses but also for the economy as a whole, this is widely acknowledged.” said Kulshaan Singh, CEO of Mercer in Singapore. "The decline (in productivity) is primarily due to the lower feelings of pride in and satisfaction with organisations and our analysis shows that such views are largely driven by the employees’ concerns about innovation and career development.” But its not all bad news. Around 70% of employees here said they were sufficiently involved in decision-making for matters that may affect them. This is higher than the global figure of 67%. It seems immediate managers play a critical role in employees' perceptions of their involvement, with 80% of employees saying that their immediate managers notify them of important information related to their work. “Engagement represents the best opportunity for Singapore to optimise the human capital it has. If performance and productivity are a combination of individual talent and engagement, the best way to optimise talent is to ensure it’s engaged. Although this seems obvious, many organizations still struggle to build the work environment they need to fully realize engagement in the workplace,” Mr Singh said.

Millennials have a new attitude about cleavage that’s forcing ‘breastaurant’ Hooters to close locations and change its strategy

Millennials are less interested in breasts than elder generations — and it's bad news for Hooters.

Singapore court sentences 3 Britons to jail and caning for sexual assault of woman in hotel

[caption id="attachment_372136" align="alignnone" width="780"] Britons Michael Le (left), Khong Tam Thanh (right) were among the three men sentenced for aggravated molestation of a drunk woman at Carlton Hotel in 2016.[/caption] Three Britons have been sentenced to jail and caning in Singapore on Tuesday (Aug 15), a day after pleading guilty to reduced charges of aggravated molestation. The three men went on trial two weeks ago for the rape of a Malaysian woman who was drunk and fell asleep at Carlton Hotel in September 2016. According to The Straits Times, the trio took a week to consider the reduced charges and eventually pleaded guilty to outraging the woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her. Among the trio, Vu Thai Son, 24, was given the longest jail sentence of 6½ years, in addition to eight strokes of the cane. Khong Tam Thanh, 22, was sentenced to six years' jail and also eight strokes of the cane. The third man, Michael Le, 24, was sentenced to 5½ years in jail and five strokes of the cane. Thanh and Son each also admitted to another charge of outrage of modesty. The Straits Times reported that this was for committing another sexual act on the woman, who was 22 years old at the time. During sentencing, Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng said the men took advantage of the woman's vulnerable state. "In doing so, they showed no respect for her dignity and autonomy, and no regard for any harm and hurt they might cause to her," the judge was quoted as saying. For more on the case, go to The Straits Times.