SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has been defeated for the second time in eight months in by-elections, signalling widening discontent over immigration policies and rising income inequality.
Saturday's defeat gives the opposition Workers' Party another seat in parliament - candidate Lee Li Lian won 54.5 percent of almost 29,800 votes cast in the Punggol East district, faring better than three other candidates including the PAP's Koh Poh Koon, who received 43.7 percent.
The Workers' Party now has seven seats in parliament and the PAP has 80.
"Despite this victory, the Workers' Party is still a small party with much to do and improve upon," said party chairwoman Sylvia Lim.
The PAP, which has ruled the country since 1959, has seen its support decline in recent years due to rising discontent over the high cost of living, an influx of foreigners and rising income inequality.
It won only 60 percent of the votes in the 2011 general election.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the PAP "will continue to work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, and present our report card for voters to judge in the next general elections".
Analysts say PAP's defeat forces the party to re-examine policies that have brought about popular discontent in the city-state.
"This is a shock for the PAP," said Bridget Welsh, an associate professor of political science at the Singapore Management University.
"They went to the polls so quickly with confidence and had expected to win. It forces the PAP to have a very serious evaluation of their policies, and what they've done wrong."
Andrew Loh, a political blogger, said the PAP's loss "is a reflection of the uncertainty that Singaporeans have about their future. They also want stronger voices in parliament."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- An Indian woman whose gang rape in New Delhi triggered violent protests died of her injuries on Saturday in a Singapore hospital, bringing a security lockdown in Delhi and recognition from India’s prime minister that social change is needed.
The Indian capital braced for a new wave of protests, closing metro stations and banning vehicles from the city centre district where young activists had converged to demand improved women’s rights. The news came in the early hours of the morning in India and there were no signs of protests as morning broke.
The 23-year-old medical student, severely beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday for specialist treatment.
“We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4:45 a.m. on Dec 29, 2012 (2045 GMT Friday). Her family and officials from the High Commission (embassy) of India were by her side,” Mount Elizabeth Hospital Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Loh said in a statement.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement he was deeply saddened by the death and described the emotions associated with her case as “perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change.
“It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelize these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action.“
Delhi’s Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, expressed revulsion.
“It is a shameful moment for me not just as a chief minister but also as a citizen of this country,“ she said.
The woman, who has not been identified, and a male friend were returning home from the cinema by bus on the evening of Dec. 16 when, media reports say, six men on the bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The reports say a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived the attack.
Singh’s government has been battling criticism that it was tone-deaf to the outcry that followed the attack and was heavy handed in its response to the protests in the Indian capital.
Most rapes and other sex crimes in India go unreported and offenders are rarely punished, women’s rights activists say. But the brutality of the Dec. 16 assault sparked public outrage and calls for better policing and harsher punishment for rapists.
VEHICLES BARRED FROM DELHI CITY CENTRE
T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, told reporters hours after the woman’s death that a chartered aircraft would fly her body back to India on Saturday, along with members of her family. The woman’s body had earlier been loaded into a van at the hospital and driven away.
In New Delhi, the Joint Commissioner of Traffic Police, Satyendra Garg, told NDTV news channel that residents and commuters were advised to avoid the city centre.
The case has received blanket coverage on cable television news channels. Some Indian media have called the woman “Amanat“, an Urdu word meaning “treasure“.
Talking to reporters earlier on Saturday, Raghavan declined to comment on Indian media reports accusing the government of sending her to Singapore to minimise the possible backlash in the event of her death.
Some Indian medical experts had questioned the decision to airlift the woman to Singapore, calling it a risky manoeuvre given the seriousness of her injuries. They had said she was already receiving the best possible care in India.
But Dr B.D. Athani, medical superintendent of the New Delhi hospital where she had initially been treated, told Indian television the intention was to give the victim the best chance of surviving in what he described as “an extreme case“.
“Her condition was very critical from day one. We had managed what best we could do at our end ... she had to be shifted to a centre with much better facilities.“
On Friday, the Singapore hospital had said the woman’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. It said she had suffered “significant brain injury“. She had already undergone three abdominal operations before arriving in Singapore.
The suspects in the rape - five men aged between 20 and 40, and a juvenile - were arrested within hours of the attack and are in custody. Media reports say they are likely to be formally charged with murder next week.
Commentators and sociologists say the rape tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social and economic issues.
Many protesters have complained that Singh’s government has done little to curb the abuse of women in the country of 1.2 billion. A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17% between 2007 and 2011.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- This Southeast Asian city-state was once described as "Disneyland with the death penalty" by science fiction writer William Gibson - highlighting the contrast between its easy-going lifestyle and zero-tolerance for serious criminal offences with hundreds hanged during the past few decades.
But Singapore's hardline, exemption-free policy of death for convicted killers and drug-traffickers was recently relaxed. As it prepares to change its laws on the death penalty, defence lawyers such as M Ravi are trying to obtain newly introduced "certificates of co-operation" for clients on death row.
Judges will now be given more discretion in dealing with death penalty cases, enabling them to commute death sentences to life imprisonment under certain conditions.
"It is the universal notion that life is irreversible and once you claim a life, you can never get it back," says Ravi, a human rights lawyer from Singapore who represents two men in prison on death row. "I welcome any amendment that preserves lives and gives hope to prisoners."
If granted, the certificates will show the courts those convicted had co-operated with authorities by providing information needed to bust bigger players in the lucrative narcotics industry - thereby allowing them to escape the gallows.
Under the amended legislation, a judge now has the discretion to impose life imprisonment on a person convicted of murder, if that individual has been found not to have intended to cause death.
For drug offences, courts can impose a life term if the accused is found to be "only a drug courier" or "suffering from such an abnormality of mind that it substantially impaired his mental responsibility for committing the offence".
Qualifying for these exceptions, however, will be no easy feat - as there is a lot more at stake now in Singapore's legal system.
"One of the requirements now in proving one's innocence is giving information of drug masterminds behind the act. But mere couriers will not be able to do that, because they are not the masterminds, but just cogs in the wheel," said Subhas Anandan, a prominent criminal lawyer in Singapore.
Anandan once represented a man who stabbed his girlfriend to death, but managed to have his client's death sentence overturned.
The man is now serving 20 years in jail. Anandan told Al Jazeera that defence lawyers will now have to work "extra hard" to hand over information on kingpins, producers, distributors and retailers to the authorities.
"A person can only tell you so much, like who passed him the drugs. But the moment he is arrested and that third party disappears, how will that be satisfactory to anyone?"
"It's very unclear what the law wants," said Ravi, who received a letter from the courts asking for two of his clients to submit the substantive information required by the courts by December 3.
"How can we give the authorities substantive information or statements now? It would have been better at their time of arrest when they would have given their statements. So this is actually a big problem. What happens if one gives substantial information and it doesn't lead to the disruption of such activities?"
'Disneyland with the death penalty'
Singapore's death penalty is designed to deter crimes such as murder, kidnapping and firearms offences. It also reinforces the country's zero-tolerance policy on narcotics - hanging hundreds of people, including foreign citizens.
But recent reports have suggested a rise in the number of young drug abusers. In response, the government has set up rehabilitation centres and passed laws barring drug parties. Those found guilty will be sentenced up to 20 years in jail and caned.
More often than not, drug couriers - mainly from neighbouring Malaysia - have borne the brunt of Singapore's strict drug laws. A recent parliament session revealed that Malays made up nearly half of all drug-related arrests.
According to the country's attorney general, 34 prisoners are currently being held on death row.
"Justice has not been served when you have people still coming here and basically being couriers for the big drug barons who are based in places like the Golden Triangle," said Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), an opposition political party that advocates a liberal human rights agenda.
Alan Shadrake, a former journalist convicted of contempt of court in Singapore in 2010 after the publication of his book Once a Jolly Hangman, served five-and-a-half weeks in prison and is now based in Penang, Malaysia.
"Hanging almost 1,000 men and women in Singapore since the late 1950s has obviously been a complete waste of time. Fear of the death penalty does not deter crime and never has," Shadrake told Al Jazeera. "History will tell you this."
Shadrake's book, banned in Singapore, has been credited with raising international awareness of the country's judicial system, and its flawed use of the death penalty.
"I think the stupidity in arresting me for criticising the way the death penalty is meted out in Singapore drew more international criticism than the government anticipated, and I think the global outcry had a major impact."
A growing human rights movement
Human rights groups have long called for the abolition of capital punishment in the country, but the government has been careful to state that the amendments were only made after continuously reviewing the laws.
We Believe in Second Chances, a group that advocates for the complete abolishment of the death penalty, is one of a growing number of human rights groups in Singapore campaigning for inmates on death row.
"Previously the death penalty used to be a very taboo subject," said co-founder Damien Chng. "Now it seems like the issue has been brought out into the open now that local politicians are also representing a more diverse range of opinions."
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said the changes are not a reversal of the country's "zero-tolerance" stand on drugs, but are instead designed to make "measured and carefully designed exceptions" on the mandatory death penalty.
He also rejected calls to abolish executions, saying the death penalty still proves necessary in deterring serious crimes.
The SDP's Chee said, while it was not surprising for a minister to say this, it could also be seen as a means of discouraging activism in the country - where a legal permit is need to hold protests. "All this came about because activists are willing to fight to highlight some of these discrepancies and that will really embarrass the government."
Despite the efforts of human rights groups, the majority of the country remains deeply divided on the issue of the death penalty.
Many are unsettled about a possible future without a death penalty to "keep them safe", said Aloysius Foo, a technical support officer, who felt the government's decision to change the law would send the wrong message to the narcotics industry. "I feel uneasy, like we will become easy targets for drug lords watching us out there."
Jeanne Pereira, a retired schoolteacher, opposed the revision when it was announced in July.
"In the eyes of others, we may seem heartless," she said. "But why should we sell our security just to appease our critics?"
Eugene Tan, an assistant law professor at the Singapore Management University and a member of the Singaporean parliament, said he thinks the movement to abolish the death penalty will "gain strength with time".
"Societal attitudes are evolving and the younger generation of Singaporeans are not in awe of the death penalty as the older generations."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)The most emotionless society is Singapore's despite its reputation for being among the world's richest, a new survey has revealed.Gallup looked at 150 countries where about 1,000 residents were asked whether they experienced five positive and five negative emotions a lot during the course of a day. The results were based on interviews taken over a three-year period. Questions included whether people felt well-rested or enjoyment, smiled and laughed or felt worry, sadness, stress or anger. The 36% in Singapore who reported feeling anything is the lowest in the world, the Washington-based research and analytics organization found. This figure is an aggregation of data from 2009-2011; in Gallup's latest measure taken last year, just 30% of those surveyed in Singapore felt anything at all. The findings belie Singapore's 1.9% jobless rate in the third quarter and per capita GDP of more than US$50,000 -- among the highest in the world. "The implications for an emotionless society are significant," wrote Jon Clifton, a partner at Gallup and director of the Gallup Government Group. "To continue to be competitive in today's world, Singapore must begin focusing on behavioral-based indicators that move beyond GDP. "The bottom line is that Singaporeans are productive, highly disciplined citizens who are not enjoying their lives much," he wrote in an accompanying article for the Gallup Business Journal. "This culture has won historically, but it will not move to the next level until its leadership takes wellbeing seriously." Trailing right behind Singapore were nearly half of the 15 former Soviet republics: Georgia and Lithuania, with 37%; and Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, with 38%. Tying at 38% were Madagascar and Nepal. The Philippines, meanwhile, registered as the most emotional nation, with 60% of those interviewed responding "yes" to experiencing a lot of feelings daily.
Also scoring high were Latin American nations, with 10 of its nations -- led by El Salvador -- sharing top spots with Bahrain, Oman, Canada and the United States. Absent from the list is Bhutan, whose 4th king first coined the term "Gross National Happiness," declaring in 1972 that it was more important than Gross National Product. The country now has a Gross National Happiness (GNH) Commission with a mandate to pursue that objective. The country's latest GNH Index measures happiness based on 33 indicators grouped among nine domains: psychological wellbeing, health, time use, education, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards. Reflecting the growing need to address happiness, The Earth Institute at Columbia University published the first ever World Happiness Report commissioned for the U.N. Conference on Happiness in April. It reviews the state of happiness in the world today, the causes of happiness and misery, and policy implications.
The report was in answer to a resolution adopted last year by the U.N. General Assembly declaring "the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal" embodying the spirit of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. This year the U.N. declared March 20 of each year as the International Day of Happiness.
Last month the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents 34 countries, dedicated its fourth forum in New Delhi, India, to measuring well-being. The OECD's Better Life Index compares well-being across countries based on 11 topics identified as essential. It's another indication that there's more to life or success than wealth, and that measuring a nation on GDP alone can go only so far. Still, the Economist Intelligence Unit has named Singapore one of the best countries to be born in 2013. Ranked sixth on an index topped by Switzerland, Singapore was cited along with Hong Kong, ranked 10th, as being "well-known for their wealth, stability and relatively low levels of corruption," said Susan Evans, an analyst. "One determining factor of future life satisfaction for their residents, which is less easy to predict, will be the trajectory of civil freedoms," she added in a press release. The index looked at as many as 11 indicators, including GDP per head, life expectancy at birth, quality of family life, the state of political freedoms, job security, climate, safety, community life, governance and gender equality. Among the 80 countries covered, Nigeria ranked last.
their site reported : Singaporeans are the least likely in the world to report experiencing emotions of any kind on a daily basis. The 36% who report feeling either positive or negative emotions is the lowest in the world. Filipinos, on the other hand, are the most emotional, with six in 10 saying they experience a lot of these feelings daily.
Gallup measures daily emotions in more than 150 countries and areas by asking residents whether they experienced five positive and five negative emotions a lot the previous day. Negative experiences include anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, and worry. Positive emotions include feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, enjoyment, smiling and laughing a lot, and learning or doing something interesting.
To measure the presence or absence of emotions, Gallup averaged together the percentage of residents in each country who said they experienced each of the 10 positive and negative emotions.
Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences. Latin America leads the world when it comes to positive emotions, with Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela at the top of that list.
Behavioral indicators such as positive and negative emotions are a vital measure of a society's wellbeing. Leaders worldwide are starting to incorporate such behavioral-based indicators into the metrics they use to evaluate their countries because they realize that traditional economic indicators such as GDP and 40-hour workweeks alone do not, and cannot, quantify the human condition.
While higher incomes may improve people's emotional wellbeing, they can only do so to a certain extent. In the United States, for example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Angus Deaton found that after individuals make $75,000 annually, additional income will have little meaningful effect on how they experience their lives. Consider this finding in the context of Singapore, a country with one of the lowest unemployment rates and highest GDP per capita rates in the world, but a place where residents barely experience any positive emotions. This research shows that the solutions to improve positive emotions or decrease negative emotions go beyond higher incomes. Singapore leadership needs to consider strategies that lie outside of the traditional confines of classic economics and would be well-advised to include wellbeing in its overall strategies if it is going to further improve the lives of its citizenry.
Read more about Singapore's emotion deficit in Bloomberg Businessweek.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.
Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in each country each year between 2009 and 2011. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±0.4 percentage points to ±3.8 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
source : GALLUP World
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A lecturer offering pre-marriage courses has sparked outrage among Singaporean Muslims after advising Muslim men to beat their wives to control them.
“He pulled out a chair, like this, and then started hitting the chair like it was the wife” an attendee told Bikya Masr website on Sunday, November 4.
The controversy erupted after several attendees at the pre-marriage course offered at Darul Arqam, Singapore’s leading association for Muslim converts, alleged that male students are encouraged to beat wives who refuse to submit to sex.
The students offered copies of the course materials supporting their allegations.
The materials quote an English translation of the Qur’an, stating “as to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, first admonish them, next refuse to share their bed, and last beat them”.
It also advise husbands, “it is your right that they [wives] do not make friends with anyone of whom you disapprove”, and wives are reminded that in the event of a marital disagreement “her husband has to make the final decision and [she has] to respect it.”
The course materials recommend that wives be beaten if they commit Al Nushooz.
Al Nushooz is defined in the course materials as “the disobeying of the wife toward her husband and elevating herself above what Allah has obliged upon her and her raising herself above fulfilling her obligatory role”.
Muslim scholars have long insisted that Islam does not condone violence against women or making a wife have sex with her husband against her will.
The word "beating" of wives is used in a verse of the Qur'an, but scholars maintain it does not mean "physical abuse".
Scholars stressed that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) generally used to discourage his followers from taking even this measure.
There is no record of the Prophet striking one of his wives; rather, he would withdraw when angered.
In Islam, the marriage of a man and a woman is not merely a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God, to lead a happy, enjoyable life.
Informed of the allegations, Singaporean gender equality advocacy group, AWARE, has launched an investigation into the claims.
Photocopies of course materials, which support the students’ allegations, have been passed to AWARE.
AWARE also forwarded an evidence based report to MCYS, says AWARE executive director Corinna Lim.
According to Lim, AWARE has discussed the allegations with the Minister of State for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS), Madam Halimah Yacob.
Muslims in Singapore are estimated between 450,000 to 500,000, making around 14 to 15 percent of the population.
The pre-marriage guidance courses, which are also supplied by other Singaporean Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM), are a compulsory requirement for all Singaporean Muslims to undertake before they marry.
The courses cost between $100-$200 each, and, according to the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) website, the courses are conducive to developing ‘harmonious family ties’ and ‘communication skills’.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — If you enjoy peering inside the minds of the world's super rich, take a spin through the 2012 "Wealth Report."
Compiled by Citibank, and a property consultancy called Knight Frank, it's a lengthy analysis based partly on interviews with the super rich. (Definition: people with more than $25 million in investable assets.)
Yes, the report contains musings on why yacht sales are down and the pros and cons of buying a sports franchise. But that's not the most interesting part.
The study predicts that Singapore -- that little Southeast Asian city-state with loads of Type A zeal -- will be the world's richest nation by 2050.
And by that, they mean its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity. (For those who skipped economics class, this attempts to more accurately measure the average income by considering inflation, cost of living and exchange rates.)
According to Citibank's 2050 prediction, the top five countries by this measure will be:
1. Singapore: $137,710
2. Hong Kong: $116,639
3. Taiwan: $114,093 (Congratuations, Taiwan, Citibank analysts think you'll make it 2050 without being consumed by China.)
4. South Korea: $107,752
And sliding in at number five, the only non-Asian nation, the U.S.: $100,802
But there are glaring questions about these numbers, which are based on Citibank's own analysis.
According to the report, Singapore is already the top GDP per capita champ with a figure of more than $56,000. But that doesn't account for tiny, oil-rich Qatar, which leads most rankings with an average of more than $92,000 according to the World Bank. And there's no mention of super-affluent Luxembourg either.
Regardless, Singapore is genuinely affluent and the report suggests why.
In interviews with "high net-worth individuals" around the globe, the Wealth Report asked the super rich about their "favorite things."
In response, Indians said cars and gadgets, Latin Americans said traveling and Africans said safaris.
The favored items of extremely wealthy Singaporeans?
"Books and reading materials."
Source: Business Insider