US warship collision exposes Singapore-Malaysia sea dispute

Kuala Lumpur - A collision between a US warship and an oil tanker near the Straits of Malacca on Monday has shone a light on a territorial dispute that has simmered between neighbours Singapore and Malaysia for nearly 40 years. The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with merchant vessel Alnic MC to the east of Singapore, while heading to the city-state for a routine port call. Ten US sailors are missing and five were injured in the collision, which resulted in significant damage to the hull of the US vessel and the flooding of some of its compartments. Singapore and Malaysia both said the incident took place in their territorial waters, as the warship and oil tanker collided near the rocky outcrop of Pedra Branca, an area that has long been contested by both countries. Both countries said they were leading the search and rescue operation for the missing sailors. Singapore was once part of Malaysia but they separated acrimoniously in 1965, clouding diplomatic and economic dealings for years. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2008 that Pedra Branca, which means "white rock" in Portuguese, belonged to Singapore and a nearby feature called Middle Rocks belonged to Malaysia. Malaysia sought a review of the ruling this year, reopening the dispute. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it was notified just before dawn of the collision in "Singapore territorial waters" in the Singapore Strait, and Singapore was leading the search and rescue operations. Malaysia insisted that the incident happened in its waters, just miles off its southern state of Johor. Malaysia's navy chief, Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin, told Reuters the KD Handalan was the first to respond to the distress call from the US ship. "KD Handalan was just three miles from the USS McCain when it first received the distress call," he said. Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Agency Director General Zulkifili Abu Bakar told reporters Malaysia disputed Singapore's assertion that the accident happened in its waters. He said the Malaysian search and rescue operation was independent of Singapore's and Malaysia had not communicated with its neighbour about the incident. "What is important is, we do not want to have another collision between assets on the ground," Zulkifili said. "For the time being, we shouldn't be arguing about whose waters it is, the most important thing is to focus on search and rescue." The Malaysian navy assigned four vessels and a Super Lynx helicopter for the search and rescue, while the Malaysian armed forces and maritime authorities also deployed more assets. The Indonesian navy said it had deployed two warships. The US Navy said Singapore and US assets were involved in search and rescue. It said in a statement late on Monday that Malaysian navy vessels and a helicopter had joined the search in the afternoon and Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, thanked Malaysia for its "great support".

Diabetes a hot issue not just in Singapore – here’s how tech and healthcare giants plan to take it on

The New Paper
Do you know anyone who suffers from diabetes? You probably do. By now, this should come as no surprise: the number of people with diabetes has been hitting all-time highs across the globe over the years. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, 422 million adults worldwide had diabetes in 2014, and 96 million of these cases were in Southeast Asia. In Singapore, a concerned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke extensively about the issue during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday. Today, one in nine Singaporean adults have diabetes, the PM said, adding that the sobering number rises to three in 10 for citizens above the age of 60. Moreoever, these numbers are not expected to decline anytime soon. With such statistics, many large corporations are seeing huge growth potential in the global market for self-management devices and technology. Rumours of Apple secretly developing its own such device have been rife. According to Business Insider and CNBC, the iPhone maker could now be designing a watch blood glucose monitoring feature to its watches. Similarly, in a bid to occupy this market space, Google's parent company Alphabet has also started experimenting with a contact lens that can read blood sugar levels in tears. If successful, these non-invasive products would truly be revolutionary, as the industry has largely failed at creating a glucose-monitoring device that does not need to pierce the skin or draw any blood to perform accurately. You know it's going to be big if even the tech giants are jumping on the bandwagon. Meanwhile, Abbott has reported optimistic results from the 2014 European launch of its FreeStyle Libre, a one-of-a-kind flash glucose monitoring system. The device can conduct a scan in a few seconds, even through clothes - completely eliminating the need to use the traditional finger-prick technique.
Abbot's FreeStyle Libre
FreeStyle Libre
In a study conducted over an 18-month period, Abbott found that users actively checked their glucose levels an average of 16.3 times a day - definitely way more than they previously could with a finger-pricking device. The health care company says its study also found that the ability to monitor glucose levels freely also resulted in a drop of average glucose levels, a reduction in hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and an increase in time spent in the optimal glucose range. The fact that the sensor is small in size (35mm x 5mm), durable and water-proof also helps. But the FreeStyle Libre still requires skin insertions, and is by no means cheap at a price of S$92 for a sensor which lasts 14 days plus another S$92 for a reader that scans for results. Such products show a clear indication of the trend towards the need for self-management devices in an evolving healthcare environment. With demand booming, corporations big and small in both the healthcare and tech industries are looking to fill the gap in a market which has yet to resolve the issue of invasive monitoring technology. While a clear winner remains to be seen, it's only a matter of time before expectation becomes reality.

What's Happening

After US destroyer collision, Chinese paper says US navy a hazard

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain arrives at Changi Naval Base in Singapore August 21, 2017.
Reuters
BEIJING, Aug 22 - The US navy's latest collision at sea, the fourth in its Pacific fleet this year, shows it is becoming an increasing risk to shipping in Asia despite its claims of helping to protect freedom of navigation, an official Chinese newspaper said. The USS John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided while the guided-missile vessel was nearing Singapore on Monday. The collision tore a hole in the warship's port side at the waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area. Ten sailors are missing. The collision - the fourth major accident in the US Pacific fleet this year - prompted a fleet-wide investigation and plans for temporary halts in operations to focus on safety. The state-run China Daily said in an editorial on Tuesday that people will wonder why such a sophisticated navy keeps having these problems. "The investigations into the latest collision will take time to reach their conclusions, but there is no denying the fact that the increased activities by US warships in Asia-Pacific since Washington initiated its rebalancing to the region are making them a growing risk to commercial shipping," it said. China has been upset at US freedom of navigation operations near Chinese controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea, where China has been reclaiming land, building air bases and increasing its military presence. "While the US Navy is becoming a dangerous obstacle in Asian waters, China has been making joint efforts with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to draw up a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea and it has boosted navigational safety by constructing five lighthouses on its islands," the China Daily said. "Anyone should be able to tell who is to blame for militarising the waters and posing a threat to navigation." READ ALSO: US warship collision exposes Singapore-Malaysia sea dispute

Chinese visitors surprised by Singapore’s ‘backward’ transactions: Here’s why we need to adopt e-payments

Prime Minister Lee speaking at the National Day Rally 2017.
YouTube account of Prime Minister's Office, Singapore
Singapore is a technologically advanced nation, right? Well, yes and no, depending on how you look at it. In fact, some may even call us "backward". During the National Day Rally on Sunday night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the story of how Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say had a "suaku" (country bumpkin in Hokkien) moment at a street stall in Shanghai. Mr Lim was queuing to buy chestnuts when he saw other customers waving their phones when making their purchase. Thinking they were doing so to get a special discount, he told the stall holder that he would be paying the full price. Soon after that, he realised that the customers were actually scanning the stall's QR code with their phones to make payment through an e-payment system. In recent years, China has become a huge adopter of e-payment systems. Even roadside stalls and landlords accept payments done through mobile apps such as Alipay and WeChat. "In major Chinese cities, cash has become obsolete. Even credit and debit cards are becoming rare," PM Lee said in his speech. Data from iResearch has shown that a total of $8.8 trillion (S$12 trillion) flowed through Chinese mobile wallets in 2016, and this number is expected to grow massively over the next couple of years. Singapore, in contrast, still relies heavily on cash and cheques. Although e-payment systems have been introduced here for some time, most people and businesses prefer to transact using real money because e-payments are seen as cumbersome and costly to maintain. "We have too many schemes and systems that don't talk to each other. So people have to carry multiple cards and businesses have to install multiple readers," PM Lee said. "It's inconvenient for consumers, (and) it's costly for businesses. And the result is most of us still prefer cash and cheques. Six in 10 transactions are cash and cheques." This often surprises visitors from countries where e-payments have become the norm. "When visitors from China find they have to use cash here, they ask: 'How can Singapore be so backward?'," PM Lee said. The Prime Minister's concern is not a new one. In the past year, a number experts in Singapore have voiced concern over the city's less-than-enthusiastic reception of e-payments. When Business Insider spoke to Google's head of marketing solutions for Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Emerging Markets in July, he told us that Singapore's reliance on cash is a major factor delaying the rise of e-commerce here. Rahul Shinghal, general manager of PayPal in Southeast Asia told Business Insider on Monday that there is a need for Singapore to stay ahead of the curve - especially in the realm of technological innovations - if it wants to remain economically viable and relevant on the world stage. "Digitalisation of payments and processes will go a long way in improving systems and productivity, enabling our Singapore SMEs to stay ahead. Hence innovations in these areas must be able to identify and address gaps and pain points, not just innovate for the sake of innovation," he said. In a similar vein, Jayajyoti Sengupta, Cognizant's head of Asia-Pacific, called PM Lee's message "very timely", adding that Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative "must inspire bold decision-making on part of business leaders to drive digital innovation". Mobile e-payment systems bring with them a number of benefits for both consumers and businesses, ranging from convenience to lower operating costs. But with new technology comes new risks, and FinTech providers in Singapore must be equipped to deal with a new type of cyber risk. "Cashless payments no doubt deliver convenience, ease of transaction and allow individuals to better keep track of spending. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in text message scams called 'smishing,' which can infect smartphones and result in the theft of personal information," Sanjay Aurora, managing director of Darktrace in Asia-Pacific said. While there are many cyber threats out there today, solutions are also on the rise, Mr Aurora said. Governments around the world, including Singapore's, are now focusing on how AI can be used to halt novel attacks. If Singapore wants to move forward in its Smart Nation initiative, it is imperative that the government, businesses, banks and consumers are all on the same page. The technology is already here. The only question now is: How do we move forward and embrace it in a way that benefits us? It looks like Singapore is on track to becoming a cashless society, but a lot needs to be done to get the movement going at a faster pace.

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Olympic champion Schooling apologises to Malaysians

Kuala Lumpur - Singapore's Olympic champion Joseph Schooling has apologised to Malaysians for saying he was going to teach their swimmers a lesson at the South East Asian Games, which opened on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. The 22-year-old, who won the city-state's first Olympic gold in the 100 metres butterfly in Rio last year, had told local media it would be "nice to go to Malaysia's backyard and teach them a thing or two". "If I offended anyone, I do apologise... that wasn't my intention," Schooling said on his arrival in the Malaysian capital on Saturday. "I'm really sorry for my comments and I definitely didn't mean it that way." Schooling won nine gold medals at the last SEA Games in Singapore two years ago but will race in fewer events this year. "I'll do my best in all of them. I'm just going to do my best and let the outcome speak for itself. We have two days to prepare so hopefully we'll put on a good performance in the Games," he added. "It's definitely not like training for me. Every race, my dad likes to say race fast, and that actually holds a lot of ground. There are a lot of great swimmers in the South East Asian region so I gotta be the best as I can to make my country proud." The 29th version of the biennial SEA Games will continue until Aug 30.

Shanghai Tang founder sends out party invites after being given 2 months to live: Report

Screengrab from BBC Hardtalk Youtube Channel
The billionaire founder of fashion label Shanghai Tang is throwing a party for his friends after being told that he has only "a month or two to last", The Asia Times has reported. According to the report, doctors had told 63-year-old Sir David Tang that he would have just a couple of months left to live, but instead of getting sufficient rest, Tang decided to welcome death by sending out invitations for a final farewell party. In the peculiar party invitation sent to his friends, Tang promised to throw a great party, writing: “As I have been given by my politburo of medical experts just a month or two to last, I thought the best way to go would be to give a party where we can see each other at least one time more, rather than at a memorial service where I shall be dead as a dodo.” The flamboyant businessman, socialite and cigar connoisseur, is the grandson of Tang Shiu Kin, one of Hong Kong’s most famous philanthropists. Tang is best known for his contribution to Shanghai Tang - making it one of the first Chinese labels to break the global boundary. Being a recipient of knighthood in 2008, Tang has had the privilege of dancing with Queen Elizabeth. He is friends with celebrities like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, and was also close friends with Princess Diana when she was alive. Through the years, the Hong Kong-born billionaire has managed to forge admirable relationships with foreigners interested in Eastern culture, through his shuttling between Hong Kong, London, and mainland China - further strengthening his personal brand name. In fact, his accomplishments are more than ample. With his weekly column in the Financial Times called “ Agony Uncle”, Tang shared his personal experiences with the world - including how the National Health Service (NHS) saved his life. The billionaire is also the man responsible for the distribution of all Cuban cigars in the Asia Pacific region, the starting up of The China Club brand in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, and the China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester Hotel. Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily reported last week that when contacted, Tang declined to comment and did not deny or confirm the news.

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