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  1. #1701
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Ionescu still has 'immunity'

    The Straits Times
    Apr 26, 2010

    By Teh Joo Lin

    ROMANIA sent Singapore a diplomatic note last Friday asserting that former charge d'affaires Silviu Ionescu continues to enjoy diplomatic immunity for the hit-and-run case of Dec 15.

    This is puzzling, said Foreign Minister George Yeo, as 'it seems to imply that Romania is now claiming that Dr Ionescu was engaged in official duties at the time of the accident and we do not understand how this can possibly be the case'.

    On the other hand, Romanian media reports suggest that the Romanian police may be preparing to arrest the suspended diplomat. The police there have told Interpol that they have the competence to prosecute him and they have started criminal proceedings against him.

    'With these conflicting accounts, the sooner the Romanian legal experts visit us to clarify the situation, exchange views and review the evidence with our legal experts, the better,' said Mr Yeo.

    He was speaking in Parliament on Monday in response to a question from MP Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) who asked for about the case.

    A Coroner's Court had found that Ionescu was behind the wheel of a car that hit three pedestrians along Bukit Panjang Road on Dec 15. One of them later died. Following this, Singapore issued an arrest warrant for Ionescu, and Interpol issued a red notice against him. The notice requests all Interpol member states to look out for him and arrest him, with a view to his extradition.

    The Government had also said that based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rights, Ionescu was not protected by diplomatic immunity for his deeds. Based on Article 39(2), a diplomat loses immunity for private acts once he leaves his post in the host country.

    On Monday, Mr Yeo told Parliament that the red notice has been suspended because of the disagreement over the intepretation of the article. In his speech, Mr Yeo also noted that other diplomats in Singapore have told the Government that Dr Ionescu has disgraced the entire diplomatic corps.

    'Romania is a member state of the European Union which prides itself on its reputation as a community of values. Bucharest understands that more than Romania's own reputation is at stake and that it must live up to the EU's high standards,' added Mr Yeo.

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    Singapore can forget about having the ex-Romanian diplomat arrested. That on and off again red alert through Interpol has become an embarrassement. It was poorly done because things like this take two to tango-it cannot be done by one side. After being named and shamed all over Singapore news media, Romania is now throwing the book at Singapore.
    Of course Romania will prosecute their ex-diplomat but it will be within Romania territory under Romanian law, not Singapore law because of his immunity. Immunity for diplomats can sometimes be very unfair but this is international law.

  3. #1703
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    Singapore's mentor minister Lee Kuan Yew said recently at a conference, about Singapore's proper place in the scheme of nations, in particular with reference to China and India. He said that Singapore is a small country and must behave like a small country and be humble. It should never give any advice to others, i.e. China or India because they will just tell Singapore "you are out of your depth".

  4. #1704
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    That was also the advice of some senior ministers from China some years back. Back then China was still on the learning curve and depended heavily on Singaporeans like Goh Chok Tong as economic adviser and Malaysian Tan Koon Swan as adviser for Hainan, amongst many others.
    Fast forward a few years and roles have reversed, i think China and India have outgrown all these.
    Just a few years back Lee Kuan Yew was blasted by Taiwan for his advice on China relations. As usual Lee Kuan Yew is still sharp and world-wise, probably Singapore is still able to advise their Asean neighbours (assuming they are smart enough to listen).

  5. #1705
    Regular Member Bbn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taneepak View Post
    Singapore can forget about having the ex-Romanian diplomat arrested. That on and off again red alert through Interpol has become an embarrassement. It was poorly done because things like this take two to tango-it cannot be done by one side. After being named and shamed all over Singapore news media, Romania is now throwing the book at Singapore.
    Of course Romania will prosecute their ex-diplomat but it will be within Romania territory under Romanian law, not Singapore law because of his immunity. Immunity for diplomats can sometimes be very unfair but this is international law.
    What is the point in harping about all these "Diplomatic Immunity " hype?
    most people know enough about it. As someone mentioned, have a heart , someone has died and an injustice done, why keep on harping about all these protection stuff? Let's take our hats to the people who pursue justice against all odds, thisi is the mark of a progressive society and path to civilisation.
    People who really understand democracy and law will understand that laws stand for justice, not about implementing the fine print or blindly reading written codes.Any lawyer can tell you that.

  6. #1706
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loh View Post
    The Straits Times
    Apr 26, 2010

    By Teh Joo Lin

    ROMANIA sent Singapore a diplomatic note last Friday asserting that former charge d'affaires Silviu Ionescu continues to enjoy diplomatic immunity for the hit-and-run case of Dec 15.

    This is puzzling, said Foreign Minister George Yeo, as 'it seems to imply that Romania is now claiming that Dr Ionescu was engaged in official duties at the time of the accident and we do not understand how this can possibly be the case'.

    On the other hand, Romanian media reports suggest that the Romanian police may be preparing to arrest the suspended diplomat. The police there have told Interpol that they have the competence to prosecute him and they have started criminal proceedings against him.

    'With these conflicting accounts, the sooner the Romanian legal experts visit us to clarify the situation, exchange views and review the evidence with our legal experts, the better,' said Mr Yeo.

    He was speaking in Parliament on Monday in response to a question from MP Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) who asked for about the case.

    A Coroner's Court had found that Ionescu was behind the wheel of a car that hit three pedestrians along Bukit Panjang Road on Dec 15. One of them later died. Following this, Singapore issued an arrest warrant for Ionescu, and Interpol issued a red notice against him. The notice requests all Interpol member states to look out for him and arrest him, with a view to his extradition.

    The Government had also said that based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rights, Ionescu was not protected by diplomatic immunity for his deeds. Based on Article 39(2), a diplomat loses immunity for private acts once he leaves his post in the host country.

    On Monday, Mr Yeo told Parliament that the red notice has been suspended because of the disagreement over the intepretation of the article. In his speech, Mr Yeo also noted that other diplomats in Singapore have told the Government that Dr Ionescu has disgraced the entire diplomatic corps.

    'Romania is a member state of the European Union which prides itself on its reputation as a community of values. Bucharest understands that more than Romania's own reputation is at stake and that it must live up to the EU's high standards,' added Mr Yeo.
    Let me ask Loh this, do you consider Romania to be a third world country
    incapable of meting out justice against its citizens who have committed Tort
    and caused loss of life ? I don't know myself but I would have thought Romania is no backward third world country with a flawed legal system judging from history.
    Let's thank the Singapore government in fighting so hard for justice for a Malaysian, in other lesser places the case would have been conveniently closed.
    On the other hand, just observe the behavour of certain Western European countries when their citizens are caught peddling drugs in Malaysia, or defacing public property in Singapore,(drug peddling is subject to the death sentence) they demand that their citizens be tried under their own laws.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bbn View Post
    That was also the advice of some senior ministers from China some years back. Back then China was still on the learning curve and depended heavily on Singaporeans like Goh Chok Tong as economic adviser and Malaysian Tan Koon Swan as adviser for Hainan, amongst many others.
    Fast forward a few years and roles have reversed, i think China and India have outgrown all these.
    Just a few years back Lee Kuan Yew was blasted by Taiwan for his advice on China relations. As usual Lee Kuan Yew is still sharp and world-wise, probably Singapore is still able to advise their Asean neighbours (assuming they are smart enough to listen).
    Tan Koon Swan an adviser for Hainan? I think he might be a Hainanese. Koon Swan was an old friend of mine and he went on to become MCA head and into big business but finally to jail. As a matter of fact he was sent to jail in Singapore by a high court judge named Errol Foenando who happened to be one of my best friends.
    To be frank I was a little perplexed how he managed to scale such heights.

  8. #1708
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bbn View Post
    Let me ask Loh this, do you consider Romania to be a third world country
    incapable of meting out justice against its citizens who have committed Tort
    and caused loss of life ? I don't know myself but I would have thought Romania is no backward third world country with a flawed legal system judging from history.
    Let's thank the Singapore government in fighting so hard for justice for a Malaysian, in other lesser places the case would have been conveniently closed.
    On the other hand, just observe the behavour of certain Western European countries when their citizens are caught peddling drugs in Malaysia, or defacing public property in Singapore,(drug peddling is subject to the death sentence) they demand that their citizens be tried under their own laws.
    I think I know less of Romania than you do, but I believe it is one of the more progressive countries among the former satellites of Russia.

    Glancing through Wikipedia, Romania certainly has a much more longer history than Singapore and its association with the other European countries over the years would have benefitted its development, particularly in democracy and the concept of justice.

    So despite what Mr T's negative comments on Singapore's single-mindedness on getting justice done on this matter, I harbour hope that it will be done, whether on Singapore soil or in the Romanian courts of law.

    It may take longer than expected, but it is a good learning process for our legal minds and our parliamentarians.

    Like you, I am most appreciative of what our government has done for a non-Singaporean who had the misfortune of being killed by a foreign diplomat who tried to escape from responsibility under the guise and protection of 'diplomatic immunity'.

  9. #1709
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NEWater to meet 40% of needs

    The Straits Times
    May 3, 2010

    By Cassandra Chew

    NEWATER will play a bigger role in meeting Singapore's water needs over the next decade.

    By 2020, this reclaimed water will meet 40 per cent of Singapore's water needs, up from the current 30 per cent.

    The move is in line with the Government's aim to be self-sufficient in water by 2061, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Monday, when he opened Singapore's fifth and largest Newater factory in Changi.

    Designed, built and operated by utilities and marine group Sembcorp Industries, the $180 million plant will supply 50 million gallons of water daily.

    This huge volume is a significant addition to lift Newater supply, which can now meet 30 per cent, instead of 15 per cent, of Singapore's needs.

    The earlier four plants are in Ulu Pandan, Kranji, Seletar and Bedok.

    Together with the existing four NEWater plants, the Sembcorp NEWater Plant will be able to meet 30 per cent of Singapore's total water demand, up from 15 per cent previously. -- PHOTO: SEMBCORP
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  10. #1710
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Tour to help ease maids in

    The Straits Times
    May 3, 2010

    New scheme includes info on local festivals, help on stress relief

    By Melissa Sim

    THIRTY foreign domestic workers were given a tour of a few historical and cultural sites in Singapore yesterday as part of a new programme to help them feel more at home in the country.

    The four-month pilot 'Settling In' Programme (SIP), which started yesterday, is run by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training (Fast), a non-profit organisation.

    The first stop of the morning was Raffles' Landing Site along the Singapore River. For many of the participants, this was their first glimpse of Singapore's founder Sir Stamford Raffles - not to mention, the river.

    They also toured the Merlion Park, Chinatown and the Kampong Glam Heritage Village, passing through Little India and Orchard Road.

    Earlier in the morning, they had learnt about Singapore's various festivals and received a quick Mandarin lesson of common terms and greetings.

    Employer Peggy Leong, an administrative officer in her early 40s, said she immediately signed her helper up for the programme after reading about it in The Sunday Times.


    Foreign domestic workers being briefed yesterday on how Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore. They were on a tour of historical and cultural sites in Singapore as part of a programme to help them feel more at home here. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER
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  11. #1711
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Copenhagen not a failure

    The Straits Times
    May 3, 2010

    But political expediency makes it hard for countries to act, he says

    By Jeremy Au Yong

    THE Copenhagen climate change summit last December was not a complete failure, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, although world leaders failed to agree on carbon emission targets.

    His reason: 'It brought minds to bear on the matter and everybody knows if you want me to do this, you got to commit yourself.'

    But this lack of agreement to commit stems from one main stumbling block: the lack of political will of governments to tackle a long-term problem.

    'Governments stay in power not by promising to cut down growth rates, but by promising a better life...So the idea of taking tough action now as against putting it off to a future generation - anyway, they will be out of office - the result is, let's put it off, we'll talk about it,' he told more than 1,000 delegates attending an international law conference.

    MM Lee gave this frank assessment during a dialogue yesterday, the first day of a four-day conference of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association. Its theme was 'Climate Change and Legal Practice'.

    He had been asked by the session's moderator, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, what lessons could be learnt from the disappointing summit.


    Professor Kishore Mahbubani (left) introducing Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at the special question and answer session on 'Climate Change in the 21st Century' yesterday at the lnter-Pacific Bar Association conference. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
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  12. #1712
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    Default Sembcorp to buy water firm

    The Straits Times
    Apr 26, 2010

    By Francis Chan

    SEMBCORP Industries could become one of Asia's top five providers of water and wastewater services after its planned acquisition of New York-listed water firm Cascal.

    The deal, which could be worth up to $289 million, is set to boost the conglomerate's operating capacity in this fast-growing sector by about 50 per cent.

    Sembcorp chief executive Tang Kin Fei said on Monday that the acquisition would also help the firm venture into new markets such as South Africa and Latin America where Cascal already has a presence.

    'We will have water and wastewater facilities in 31 operating locations in 11 countries around the world,' he said.

    The company said it made a voluntary tender offer, via its utilities unit, to buy almost 18 million Cascal shares from Biwater Investments.

    Under the deal, Biwater - a major shareholder of Cascal - will tender its 58.4 per cent stake in Cascal at an offer price of US$6.75 a share, if at least 80 per cent of outstanding shares are validly tendered and not withdrawn. However, for anything less than 80 per cent, the offer price will be reduced to US$6.40 a share.

  13. #1713
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    Default MBS gets casino licence

    The Straits Times
    Apr 26, 2010

    By Lim Wei Chean

    ONE of the most important pieces of the jigsaw puzzle - the casino licence - has fallen in place, just in time for Marina Bay Sands' (MBS) opening on Tuesday.

    The Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) issued MBS its casino licence on Monday morning.

    The US$5.5 billion project is slated to open Phase One of the project on Tuesday, and speculation had been rife on whether or not it could secure its licence on time to open its casino.

    Its rival, Resorts World Sentosa, secured its casino licence eight days before its casino opening on Feb 14.

    MBS is slated to open Phase One of its project, with 963 hotel rooms, part of the exhibition and convention centre, some restaurants and bars, retail shops, the events plaza and the casino.

    The US$5.5 billion project is slated to open Phase One of the project on Tuesday, and speculation had been rife on whether or not it could secure its licence in time to open its casino. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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  14. #1714
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    Default Jurong Gateway site for sale

    The Straits Times
    Apr 26, 2010

    By Lin Yingxin

    THE first land parcel in Jurong Lake District was put up for sale by tender on Monday, after a developer has committed to bid at least S$350 million for it, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

    The 1.9ha site, with a potential yield of 107,098 sq metres of gross floor area, was made available for sale via the Reserve List system on Nov 28, 2008. The tender will close at noon on June 24.

    The Jurong Lake District consists of two unique but complementary precincts - Jurong Gateway and Lakeside. Occupying a total site area of 360 ha - about the size of Marina Bay - it will be a major regional centre in the west of Singapore.

    The land parcel launched for sale on Monday is located in the heart of the Jurong Gateway precinct, which has a total land area of about 70 ha. It is strategically located next to the Jurong East MRT station.

    With more than 3,000 multinational and global businesses clustered in the nearby International Business Park and Jurong/Tuas industrial Estates, and a catchment of one million residents from the surrounding towns, the Jurong Gateway precinct will be the biggest commercial hub outside the city centre. It will have a unique lakeside setting and a good mix of office, retail, hotel, entertainment, food & beverage and other complementary uses.

    The Lakeside precinct, which spreads over 220 ha of land and 70 ha of water body, is envisioned to be developed into a world-class leisure destination for locals and tourists. Several government agencies will also relocate their offices to the Jurong Lake District in the near future.


    The Jurong Gateway precinct will be the biggest commercial hub outside the city centre. It will have a unique lakeside setting and a good mix of office, retail, hotel, entertainment, food & beverage and other complementary uses. -- PHOTO: URA
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  15. #1715
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Marina Bay casino opens

    The Straits Times
    Apr 27, 2010

    By Lim Wei Chean

    SINGAPORE'S second casino - the US$5.5 billion (S$7.5 billion) Marina Bay Sands - opened its doors to the public at the auspicious time of 3.18pm on Wednesday, giving a fresh boost to the city's tourism sector.

    Built by US gaming giant Las Vegas Sands, it is the group's first casino in Asia outside Macau. Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson, who flew here for the opening, said he expects to recoup his Singapore investment in five years.

    'Most of the high-end players are reputable business people. They have to travel anyway so they typically would travel to the major cities, like Hong Kong and Singapore, wherein they do business,' he told reporters.

    Hours before the official opening, earlybirds started streaming into the integrated resort, hoping to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the new tourist attraction. Those waiting to enter the casino were ushered into the Sands Expo and Convention Center to take a queue number and wait in comfort. They were later allowed to enter the casino in the order that they have arrived. This was a measure taken by MBS to prevent a repeat of the overcrowding and crush at the Resorts World Sentosa opening on Feb 14.

    Marina Bay Sands was originally set to open at the end of 2009 but faced repeated delays caused by a number of factors, including material and labour shortages and financial problems due to the downturn. It managed to clinch the casino licence only on Monday.

    Tuesday's opening includes the casino and 963 out of 2,560 hotel rooms, a portion of the shopping mall, some restaurants, an exhibition and convention centre and the events plaza. The remaining hotel rooms and suites, a skypark and more shops will open on June 23, while a museum, theatres and other stores will start operations later in the year, the management said.


    Hours before the official opening, earlybirds started streaming into the integrated resort, hoping to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the new tourist attraction. Those waiting to enter the casino were ushered into the Sands Expo and Convention Center to take a queue number and wait in comfort. -- ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
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  16. #1716
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default No need to renew water deal

    The Straits Times
    Apr 27, 2010

    By Nur Dianah Suhaimi

    SINGAPORE will not be renewing the first of its two water agreements with Malaysia when it expires next year.

    The reason: Extra reservoirs and another Newater plant being built can increase supply to meet the country's needs, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday.

    He was replying to Nominated MP Mildred Tan who had asked whether the expiry of the first water agreement next year will lead to higher water tariffs in future and what steps Singapore has taken to become more self-sufficient in water.

    Over the years, supply has been bolstered with more Newater plants, new reservoirs and desalinated water, Dr Yaacob noted. 'With these new sources, we have diversified our water supply and built up a robust system.' He added that, as a result, there is no need to renew the first water agreement with Malaysia. Under the agreement, signed in 1961, Singapore will buy water from Malaysia at three sen for every 1,000 gallons for 50 years.

    Singapore aims to be self-sufficient in water by 2061 when its second water agreement with Malaysia expires. This agreement, signed in 1962, allows it to buy more water at the same price.

    Dr Yaacob said Newater supply is expected to meet 30 per cent of Singapore's water needs when the fifth and largest Newater plant in Changi is completed later this year. It will produce up to 50 million gallons of ultra-clean reclaimed water daily - enough to fill 94 Olympic-size swimming pools. Also, the desalination plant in Tuas can meet 10 per cent of Singapore's needs.


    This picture shows the Sembcorp Changi NEWater Plant (SCNP). Singapore aims to be self-sufficient in water by 2061 when its second water agreement with Malaysia expires. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
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  17. #1717
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    Default MBS to recoup losses

    The Straits Times
    Apr 27, 2010

    SINGAPORE - LAS Vegas Sands, the world's most valuable casino firm, expects to recoup its US$5.5 billion (S$7.5 billion) investment in its Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore within five years, CEO Sheldon Adelson said on Tuesday.

    His comments came at the opening of Singapore's second casino resort as global operators such as Las Vegas Sands and Steve Wynn's Wynn Resorts seek growth in Asia, lured by the region's growing wealth and Chinese passion for gambling. 'The Asian people see gaming as a form of entertainment. In the West, we have a different approach,' Mr Adelson said.

    Las Vegas Sands said it hoped to attract 70,000-80,000 visitors a day to its casino and other facilities. Marina Bay Sands is the world's second-most expensive casino after MGM Mirage's CityCentre in Las Vegas.

    Mr Adelson said the Singapore casino will provide credit to selected gamblers rather than rely on junket operators as is the practice in Macau. Feedback from junket operators indicates most of them are not keen to operate in Singapore because of the disclosure requirements demanded of them by authorities, said Mr Adelson.

    'We don't have junket reps in Las Vegas,' said Mr Adelson, who is also the firm's founder and major shareholder. 'It's not a system that is seen worldwide. It's uniquely Asian and primarily in Macau.'

    Singapore legalised casino gaming in 2005, but not all Singaporeans welcomed the decision, fearing the casinos would attract crime and lead to problem gambling among it citizens. -- REUTERS


    Las Vegas Sands said it hoped to attract 70,000-80,000 visitors a day to its casino and other facilities. Marina Bay Sands is the world's second-most expensive casino after MGM Mirage's CityCentre in Las Vegas. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
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