Monkey Pox

Written By: Lye Jae Vir (22-I1), Nur Khairunnisa (22-I1), Tan Ken Shin (22-A2), Hao Rui (22-A4)

Designed by: Alexia Teo (22-U1)


How it all started : 

In 1958, monkeypox was first identified in colonies of monkeys during an outbreak at an animal research facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, the first human case occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a nine month old old boy. This occurred in a region that had just recovered from smallpox in 1968.

Since 1970, cases of monkeypox have arisen in Africa, such as in West and Central Africa. An outbreak outside of the Africas occurred in 2003 in the United States of America due to imported infected prairie dogs from Ghana, which led to over 70 new cases. 

Prior to 2022, several travel associated cases had been reported in the UK, Israel and the USA due to travellers from Nigeria. 

How did it come to Singapore?

On the 21st of June 2022, the first case of Monekypox was reported in Singapore. This came from a 42-year-old British male national who works as a flight attendant. He tested positive for monkeypox on 20 June. He is currently admitted to the National Centre for Infection Diseases. 

At the time of reporting, there are 10 reported cases of monkeypox which are unrelated. 

Photo from REUTERS

How it transmits : 

  1. Interpersonal transmissions include through direct contact with the skin, infection rash, scabs or bodily fluids of an infected individual. 
  1. It can also be transmitted via respiratory secretions during prolonged physical and face-to-face contact. 
  1. Touching belongings such as clothing that have made contact with the infection rash or bodily fluids is also 
  1. Foetuses can also be infected through the placenta should their pregnant mothers be infected.

Symptoms of infection. 

Common flu symptoms such as fever and headache. More unique symptoms include swollen lymph nodes and rashes across the body. Symptoms may appear from 5 to 21 days following infection. People with the infection are generally infectious from onset of fever until the skin lesions have scabbed over.

Photo from the Indian Express 

What does this mean for us?

Since monkeypox is spread primarily through direct contact rather than respiratory droplets, the likelihood of another pandemic as severe as COVID-19. Furthermore, our government would be more prepared for the pandemic with the covid measures still in place. However, we should still be vigilant and aware of this virus. Stay safe Eunoians!

PERISCOPE APRIL 2022 SUMMARY

Written by: Lye Jae Vir (22-I1), Nur Khairunnisa (22-I1), Tan Ken Shin (22-A2), Hao Rui (22-A4)

Designed by: Alexia Teo (22-U1)


Welcome back to another edition of our monthly summary of the happenings around the world! From China’s successful satellite launch to changes in adoption laws, we have various interesting news summaries in store for you! Read on to find out more!

Global

China’s successful launch of the new satellite for earth observation

On April 7th this year, China launched their new Earth Observation Satellite, Gaofen-3 03, from a Long March-4C and it has since entered orbit successfully. The aim of this new launch is to improve the observation of our land, water and atmosphere via stable synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. These images boast  a 1-metre resolution together with a one-day revisit period, which improves networking capabilities. This new satellite will be networked with the existing orbiting Gaofen-3 and Gaofen-3 02 satellites to form a revolving “Sky eye’ in space. 

This new satellite would improve global coverage and revisiting capabilities, as while the original satellite took 3.5 days to revisit the same area, with the addition of another, that interval has been reduced to 5 hours. This enhances data support for China’s marine development, terrestrial environmental resource monitoring and emergency disaster prevention and mitigation. It would also improve China’s research and development in the meteorology, agriculture and water conservancy sectors. 

The satellite and carrier rocket were developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. This launch also marks the 414th mission for the Long March series carrier rockets.

What’s going on with Pakistan in April 

Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, no Pakistani prime minister has finished their five-year term. National cricket champion turned devout Islamist politician, former Pakistani prime minister – Imran Khan – has been ousted in a no-confidence vote that took place on 10 April 2022.

Imran Khan, who was elected in 2018, campaigned on an anti-establishment platform to root out corruption and to tackle poverty, riding on a wave of populist sentiment from people who had grown disillusioned with the country’s political dynasties.

Despite this, his downfall occurred against the backdrop of record double-digit inflation and the withdrawal of political support from both coalition allies and the military. In a last-bid attempt to stop the vote, Imran Khan dissolved parliament and declared that fresh elections would occur soon. The opposition appealed to the Supreme Court, who overturned the decision and allowed the vote to pass.

With Pakistan in political turmoil, parliament has elected Shehbaz Sharif, a member of the dynastical politics that Imran Khan campaigned against back in 2018. 

Adding on to the politically precarious climate, there are signs that Imran Khan is not letting up. Holding three public rallies that have attracted thousands since his removal, Khan has propagated unproven allegations of Western conspiracies against him.

He is expected to contest the next election in 2023.

In a speech at a rally on 13 April, Khan thundered, ‘’I wasn’t dangerous when I was in government – But I will be now.”

Decades of political volatility in Pakistan do not seem to be subsiding anytime soon.

Regional

How the Ukraine War will Affect Asia

On the 24th of February, Russia invaded Ukraine, escalating the tensions between the two countries greatly. Ever since the start of the war, many sanctions have been imposed on Russia, namely the banning of Russian oil and gas imports as well as the international sanctions on technology by the US and UK. Unsurprisingly, these bans, as well as other outcomes of the war, puts Asia in an uncomfortable position. 

For instance, many Chinese technological companies rely on Russia’s consumer market to earn profits. This poses a detrimental threat to China’s economy. The invasion also puts pressure on Asian countries to choose sides in this conflict. Additionally, the US has also put considerable pressure on South Korea, Singapore, and Japan to fully condemn Russia’s invasion. 

However, India’s case is not as straightforward. Given that India is the second-largest market for the Russian defence industry, as well as the two countries having a strong diplomatic relationship, India is very careful not to fully condemn Russia’s actions in the war. 

To sum up, the Russia-Ukraine war does not only pose challenges to those who align themselves with Russia, but to the entirety of Asia. 

Ramadan amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia

Bazaars and group gatherings are back in Asia during Ramadan this year as Covid-19 curbs eased across the region. 

Malaysia is in the endemic phase of living with the coronavirus, with 79.3% of its total population fully vaccinated and 48.7% having taken booster shots. Except for face masks, which remain compulsory for everyone, most of the Covid-19 restrictions imposed from March 2020 have been lifted. Businesses have been allowed to operate at full capacity from April 1. Not surprisingly, the Malaysian government’s move to ease most restrictions have brought cheer to the bazaar traders, who said they were ready to return to “normalcy” and, hopefully, recover financially after spending more than two years in a slump. The Ramadan bazaars are pop-up food stalls which are allowed to operate during the fasting month that started last Sunday. Most, if not all, offer a large variety of food on street corners. Business is booming at Malaysia’s Ramadan bazaars as vendors report a spike in sales with thousands thronging the stalls after two years of strict Covid-19 restrictions crimped visitors and profits. 

The ever-popular Geylang Serai Bazaar also returned to  Singapore this month after a 2-year halt due to COVID-19. The Bazaar is back with fan favourites, such as “The Original Vadai”, as well as more novel items such as paellas and yakult cakes.

Down south in Indonesia, the country is gearing up for its largest ever movement of people, with more than 85 million returning home to towns and villages across the sprawling archipelago, ahead of Hari Raya Aidilfitri early next month. Extra measures are being put in place to prevent a surge in Covid-19 cases. Most of those involved in the annual exodus – better known as mudik – live in Greater Jakarta and other major cities and they will start heading home by air, land and sea from the fourth week of this month, according to government surveys.

Local

Parliament endorsed White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development

After nine and a half hours of debate, Parliament endorsed the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development on April 5 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the White Paper’). The White Paper’s first section summarises key milestones in Singapore women’s development from 1959 to 2022. It then introduces the government’s 25 action plans in 5 main areas to improve the lives of women in Singapore. The five main areas include equal opportunities in the workplace, recognition and support and caregivers, protection against violence and harm, other support measures for women, and mindset shifts. All of the plans aim for tackling gender stereotypes and gender inequality in Singapore. 

The discussion about the White Paper started early ago in September last year. Three female political officer holders conducted a virtual dialogue titled ‘Conservations on Women Development’ to collect feedback and recommendations on the topic. There were 160 conversations in total, with over 5,700 participants. According to Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K.Shanmugam, all these responses would then form the basis of the White Paper. 

In the conclusion of the White Paper, it mentions that the action plans will be implemented in a ten-year roadmap. The Government will continue to review and enhance measures to support Singapore women with community partners and will conduct a mid-point review in 2027. 

Extensive changes being made to adoption laws 

Amendments to the current set of adoption laws are being made, with three main aims in mind; to ensure that adopted children are adopted into good homes, having stated that is mandatory for prospective parents to be free of convictions of serious crimes including sexual, violence, or drug-related offences. The set of laws will also define what it means to be suitable to adopt; which has been clarified that only heterosexual married couples fall under this description. 

Another aim of the amendments is to deter undesirable practices in the adoption sector by ensuring transparency. To elaborate, agencies will be required to publish a list of both monetary and non-monetary payments and rewards regarding all adoption-related matters. The new rules will help deter large handouts from being given to birth mothers, with the intention of tempting them to drive their child up for adoption. Such handouts to the child’s biological or adoptive parents for the adoption are now made illegal, in order to prevent the child in question from being treated like a commodity. 

Additionally, all payments related to adoption will now be regulated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to ensure adoption agencies only charge for reasonable adoption related expenses.

In short, the changes introduced seek to provide children who are being adopted with good homes, prevent unethical practices revolving around money, and break cycles of abuse. 

Conclusion

We have now come to the end of this month’s summary. See you in June! 

Bibliography:

China’s successful launch of the new satellite for earth observation

What’s going on with Pakistan in April 

  1. Ellis-Peterson, H; Shah, M, B. (2022, April 9). Pakistan Parliament Ousts Imran Khan in Last-minute Vote https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/09/pakistan-on-brink-of-crisis-as-imran-khan-blocks-no-confidence-vote

How the Ukraine War will affect Asia

  1. Carter, L., Krishnan, M., Hutt, D., & Ahmed, Z. (2022, March 21). Ukraine war: Asian nations feel economic brunt of conflict. DW. https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-war-asian-nations-feel-economic-brunt-of-conflict/a-61201302
  2. Stavridis, J. (2022, February 24). Ukraine conflict will have a significant impact on Asia. Nikkei Asia. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Ukraine-conflict-will-have-a-significant-impact-on-Asia 
  3. BBC. (2022, April 11). What sanctions are being imposed on Russia over Ukraine invasion? BBC News. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60125659 
  4. Xi, J. (2022, March 9). How Russia’s Ukraine invasion weighs on China’s economy. VOA. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.voanews.com/a/how-russia-s-ukraine-invasion-weighs-on-china-s-economy-/6476439.html 
  5. Council on Foreign Relations. (n.d.). Russia’s ties to Southeast Asia and how they affect the Ukraine War: Part 3, Singapore and Vietnam. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.cfr.org/blog/russias-ties-southeast-asia-and-how-they-affect-ukraine-war-part-3-singapore-and-vietnam 

Ramadan amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia

  1. Rodzi, N. H. (2022, April 9). Thousands throng ramadan bazaars in Malaysia, raising crowd control worries. The Straits Times. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thousands-throng-ramadan-bazaars-in-malaysia-raising-crowd-control-worries 
  2. Yulisman, L. (2022, April 9). In Indonesia, Stallholders, customers cheer return of tradition during Ramadan. The Straits Times. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/in-indonesia-stallholders-customers-cheer-return-of-tradition-during-ramadan 

Parliament endorsed White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development

  1. Mei, T. (2020, September 20). Singapore to conduct review of women’s issues to bring about mindset change for gender equality. The Straits Times. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-to-conduct-review-of-womens-issues-to-inculcate-mindset-change-for-gender
  2. Min, C. H. (2022, April 5). MPs unanimously endorse White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development. CNA. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/parliament-debate-singapore-women-development-white-paper-2609711
  3. Min, C. H. (2022, April 5). MPs unanimously endorse White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development. CNA. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/parliament-debate-singapore-women-development-white-paper-2609711
  4. WHITE PAPER ON SINGAPORE WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT. (n.d.). Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.scwo.org.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/White-Paper-on-Singapore-Womens-Development.pdf
  5. Ng, M. (2021, September 18). Concrete proposals to tackle women’s issues to be presented in early 2022: PM Lee. The Straits Times. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/community/concrete-proposals-to-tackle-womens-issues-to-be-presented-in-early-2022-pm-lee
  6. Yuen, T. (2022, March 28). Egg freezing, more flexi-work among policy changes in White Paper on S’pore women. The Straits Times. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/egg-freezing-more-flexi-work-among-policy-changes-in-white-paper-on-spore-women

Space Tourism – Traversing the Unknown

Written by:  Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4), Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Murugan Rakshita (21-E1), Tiew Zuo Yuan Richard (21-I2)

Designed By: Ashley Lay (21-O1)


Crossing the Final Frontier 

Having crossed the vast continents (with attractive travel packages) and fared the deep oceans (on luxurious cruise ships), humanity has already explored most of our globe (with guided tours!). Outer space, the place that lies beyond the bounds of our skies, has now become the final frontier; for the tourism industry, that is.

Ever since mankind has gazed up at the stars, we have always pondered one simple question: will we ever get to venture out there? As the space tourism industry takes shape in the future, perhaps we will be starting to ask several additional questions, namely: How much does a seat on a space shuttle cost? Is the food good? Are the accommodations comfortable? And how on (correction: off) earth does using the bathroom work out there, anyways?

What is Space Tourism? 

Much of the hype around space tourism revolves around the desire to explore beyond the concepts that we have already mapped. In other words, educating ourselves of the unknown has always been one of humanity’s pursuits, and efforts in exploring the cosmos has seen immeasurable progress. 

Today, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Space foundation works with many educational institutions to spark the space curiosity in potential future space leaders. The more we learn about space, the more it appeals to us, and the probability for a human livelihood outside of the only planet that can sustain life causes us to put on our thinking caps to attain precisely those aspirations. Additionally, this pursuit of space tourism inadvertently benefits us as we brainstorm sustainable ways to make it happen. For instance, consider the ambitious quest of SpaceX—to build a colony on mars— to achieve it, the company has created the Falcon9, an eco-friendly rocket. 

Instead of ending up as waste in the sea after its space venture, it would be retrievable from designated landing sites and relaunched within a day. Falcon9’s rockets are fuelled by liquid oxygen and methane, which are cheaper and cleaner alternatives to conventional fuel. The use of methane and oxygen complements the colonisation project as carbon dioxide in mars’ atmosphere and frozen water on its surface can be used to generate methane for its return trips to earth. In a way, we realise that the advent of space tourism allows us to seek new horizons for metacognition.

Hall of Fame – Space Tourist Edition 

Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor 

The iconic Academy Award winning actor, best known for his lead role in 1997’s  Titanic boarded Richard Brandon’s Virgin Galactic space rocket with a round trip ticket back in 2013.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Jeff Bezos is no stranger to the global E-commerce arena, helming arguably one of the most influential businesses globally. He happens to also be the founder of Blue Origin, an American aerospace company- one of the up and coming contenders in the space tourism industry. So, it’s no surprise how he landed his trip to the final frontier!  

Dennis Tito, Engineer 

We’ve saved the best for last! Introducing… the first space tourist! Tito was the first person to traverse space for leisure purposes and all at his own expense. He spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station all the way back in 2001!

The Space Tourist’s Travel Guide  

Hello there! Welcome to ‘Uncharted Exploration’, your one-stop destination to get all the latest space travel deals! It is my company’s pleasure to serve such an honorable customer. Now, let me show you all the travel packages available: 

  1. Virgin Galactic’s 90-Minute Suborbital Ride

Destination: The edge of the Earth’s atmosphere 

Costs: USD$250,000 per person 

Set to launch: Late 2020

  1. NASA’s Multi-Day ISS Gateway

Destination: The International Space Station

Costs: USD$35,000 per night

Set to launch: Late 2020

  1. SpaceX’s ‘Back to the Moon’ Package

Destination: The Moon

Costs: roughly USD$150 million per seat

Set to launch: 2023

Preparations and expectations

1. Ensure physical and mental fitness

As the human body will undergo a range of forgein experiences in entering space, it is very important to keep your body in optimal condition prior to launch. This means you must be healthy: void of any and all serious health conditions. You should exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong as spending extended periods in microgravity will lead to muscle inactivity, debilitating your muscles. You must also attune your mind to possible challenges you will face in space like dealing with space adaptation syndrome (motion sickness), which tends to be an issue for longer trips. 

Thus, depending on the length and nature of your trip, you’ll accordingly undergo the necessary training so that in case things go awry, you’ll be prepared. This includes undergoing resistance training, numerous safety briefings and practising movement in zero gravity capsules.

2. The likely levels of G-force to be experienced 

G-forces are the sensations of weight we feel during acceleration as a result of movement against gravity. Let’s just say, what’s portrayed in the movies, where astronauts get crushed into their seats after exposure to high G-forces is far from reality! Given that you have passed the medical test to take this trip, you should be able to withstand the G-forces experienced on launch and on re-entry back to Earth. 

3. How to get used to the feeling of weightlessness

A good practise is to try scuba diving as it helps you get ready for all the ‘floating’ you’re about to do in space by getting you familiar with the sensation of being weightless. However, a better alternative would be taking a zero-G flight as it more accurately simulates the zero gravity environment of a spacecraft. 

Where to stay? 

Looking for comfortable accommodation? Well, look no further! We have exciting news on lodgings in space: 

The Voyager Station- The world’s first luxury space hotel

You heard that right! Earth’s very first official space lodging will be up and ready soon. This monumental achievement is the brainchild of the California-based company, Gateway Foundation and in the midst of being created by the Orbital Assembly Corporation. The Voyager Station is set to be completed by 2027 and will accommodate up to 280 guests and 112 crew members upon its opening! Curious about what this magnificent creation within its walls? Well, let’s take a peek, shall we? 

The Suites 

Engineers behind the project aim to make the luxury suites similar to those found in traditional hotels back on Earth, so you won’t be missing out on anything!

The Common Dining Hall

Enjoy a scrumptious meal as you gaze out into space! Let your eyes feast on the vast inky blackness of our cosmos, characterized by its swirls of purple, blue, pink, and dotted with millions of tiny stars. The Voyager Station will truly afford you a view like no other!

That’s not all! The Voyager also houses restaurants, a cinema, a spa, a library, a concert hall, bars and a sports hall. Are you getting déjà vu? I know I am! This soon to be futuristic reality seems to have been taken straight out of the plot of the widely acclaimed Science Fiction movie, Passengers!

Recent Developments in Space Tourism 

In the capitalistic moils of the world buds a new market: the space tourism market. It is no wonder that companies like SpaceX, Virgin Atlantic and Blue Origin are seizing this lucrative business venture in order to cash in on the growing demand for space tourism, a projected market value of 3 billion USD by 2031. This ardent dash towards being the first to provide a fully commercialised air travel experience is not unexpected. Seeing how quickly air travel took off amongst the masses, companies looking for their next business opportunity can only assume the same for space travel.

Additionally, Elon Musk has hatched ambitious plans to materialise low-earth orbital travel. These planks have crystallised with four, first-ever civilians being sent on a three-day trip around the world. Whilst the feasibility of mass commercialisation is still under question, this has no doubt proven to be a remarkable feat for mankind and Elon Musk’s billionaire competitors.

Conclusion 

In many ways, the growth of space tourism and the development of space travel are closely intertwined: if space tourism becomes a lucrative field, our progress in space travel may very well accelerate.

When our forefathers pondered man’s place among the stars, they probably never expected it to be on a commercial space flight of recreational nature, admiring the otherworldly scenery out of a viewport. But indeed, that seems to possibly be what space tourism can bring to the near future, even if such an experience is reserved only for those of significant capital for now. Perhaps there will eventually come a time when a seat on a space shuttle is much cheaper, and maybe even comparable to a seat on a commercial plane of today. Until that fateful day comes, we can all marvel at the field’s current breakthroughs, and also keep our fingers crossed on a potential, future galactic getaway…

Bibliography

  1. Keeter, B. (2020, September 2). Long-term challenges to human space exploration. NASA. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.nasa.gov/centers/hq/library/find/bibliographies/Long-Term_Challenges_to_Human_Space_Exploration. 
  1. Editors, P. M. (2021, November 2). Read this before you go to space. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/solar-system/a26454631/how-to-go-to-space/.   
  1. Mafi, N. (2021, March 5). The world’s first space hotel to open in 2027. Architectural Digest. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/worlds-first-space-hotel-open-2027. 
  1. Stefanie Waldek Updated August 31, 2021. (n.d.). 13 things space tourists should know before traveling to space, according to astronauts. Travel + Leisure. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/space-astronomy/what-space-tourists-should-know-before-traveling-to-space-according-to-astronauts. 
  1. Hospitality On. (2021, March 11). Voyager station: The first hotel in space could be ready by 2027. Hospitality ON. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://hospitality-on.com/en/innovation/voyager-station-first-hotel-space-could-be-ready-2027. 
  1. Street, F. (2021, March 4). World’s first Space Hotel scheduled to open in 2027. CNN. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/voyager-station-space-hotel-scn/index.html.  
  2. Cao, S. (2020, July 18). Every space tourism vacation you can book right now, if you’re rich. Observer. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://observer.com/2020/07/space-tourism-package-comparison-virgin-galactic-spacex-blue-origin-nasa/.

Periscope August Summary 2021

Written by: Emma Shuen Lee (21-O1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), He Jizhao (21-U5), Zuo Yuning (21-A1), Zexel (21-E2), Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)

Designed by: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)

Here’s August’s edition of bite size current affairs, a monthly summary of the happenings around the world! From USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan to NUH’s smallest baby, we have all the news for you.

Global

USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan 

Following through on his campaign promises, President Biden has been keen on removing the USA from conflicts overseas, including that in Afghanistan. Adopting the deal negotiated by his predecessors, Biden announced that the USA will complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan by 11 September, just in time to commemorate 20 years after the 9/11 attacks. 

This move comes after many years of fighting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, one which cost trillions of dollars and had united both the left and right in their desire for American withdrawal. Thus, the withdrawal was highly needed, though Biden has been criticised by both political allies and rivals alike for the hastiness of it, which has left disastrous repercussions on locals and US citizens who are based in Afghanistan. 

Several human rights organisations worry for the future of the situation, expecting a great exodus of refugees, especially given the Taliban’s human rights records. Women are especially at risk. 

The world also witnessed the futility of US intervention in the Middle East —the Afghanistan government fell almost immediately after the US withdrawal. This sufficiently showed that US intervention was never about building long term foundations for democracy to flourish overseas, but simply short term solutions to temporarily benefit the superpower itself, giving it strategic gains in the territory. 

UN Report Stern Warning for Humanity

Humans are altering the climate in unprecedented and irreversible ways, a UN scientific report asserts. The study warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a temperature cap being broken in just over ten years.The report “is a code red for humanity”, showing the severity of the situation.

The solemn assessment of our planet’s future has been delivered by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group whose findings are endorsed by governments worldwide. In strong, confident tones, the IPCC’s document says “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land”.

Nevertheless, scientists say we can be saved if the world acts fast. Hopefully, deep reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can stabilise rising temperatures. Similarly, UN Secretary General António Guterres said: “If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”

It is clear that if we do not act fast, the only ones to suffer are ourselves.

Regional

Alibaba rape allegation and toxic work culture

Two former employees of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba were detained by the police after being accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague at a work event. While the Chinese tech industry and the general public may have been taken aback by the allegations, women have long suffered the constant objectification and sexual violence in the male-dominated sector. For instance, not long ago, Chinese tech companies invited popular Japanese porn stars to their events to boost publicity. Qihoo 360, a cybersecurity company, had a Japanese porn star dance with its programmers in 2014 while some of its female employees wore revealing outfits. 

Worse, when women are brave enough to speak out about it they are immediately shot down and shunned by society. Three years ago, a student at the University of Minnesota accused Richard Liu, the founder of one of China’s biggest conglomerates, JD.com, of raping her after being forced to drink at a business meal. When Mr Liu denied the allegations and the police remained silent, the Chinese internet and tech industry supported him and denounced her as a gold digger.

However, the fact that the police took action to these public accusations has rekindled hope for China’s #MeToo movement, which seemed to have lost steam due to censorship and nationalist attacks from the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Flooding in Hubei province

Just as people breathed a sigh of relief after the “once in a millennium” rainfall in Zhengzhou, heavy downpours struck China’s Hubei province. In Hubei, torrential rains caused power cuts and landslides destroying hundreds of homes and forcing the evacuation of over 6000 people. It was reported by Xinhua that 21 people were killed and four others are missing as heavy rain lashed townships. Hundreds of firefighters, police and military have been dispatched to the worst affected areas. 

What is more alarming is that as many as 774 reservoirs in Hubei had exceeded their flooding warning levels on the evening of 12 August. So far, the extreme weather in the province has already damaged more than 3600 houses and 8110ha of crops, with total losses estimated at 108 million yuan. 

Even though China regularly experiences flooding during its wet summer months, the scales of and damages by recent torrential rains are unprecedented. China is now facing the daunting challenges of climate change after modernizing at a time when its leaders favoured economic growth over climate resilience. As such, many cities are ill-equipped to absorb water from heavy downpours.

Local

Flash flood at Tampines and Pasir Ris

Water levels rose rapidly during a heavy rain shower in the early hours of Friday morning, August 20th, along the junction of Tampines Avenue 10 and Pasir Ris Drive 12.  The pooling waters quickly swelled into a flash flood, stretching as far as the Tampines Expressway entrance by 7:58 A.M. When the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived at the site, at least 13 vehicles were found stationary and partially submerged in the floodwaters, with 25 people having been evacuated prior. In a statement released by the SCDF, one person who complained of leg pains was taken to the Changi General Hospital. The SCDF also took five other people to nearby sheltered areas for safety. The flood finally subsided around 9:40 A.M.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) is currently investigating the cause of flooding, with nearby construction work falling under suspicion. Several of those affected by the flood claimed the authorities said that a drain was blocked. It is believed that a roadside drain is of key interest in ongoing investigations.

NUH’s smallest baby 

Kwek Yu Xuan was born on June 9 last year at the National University Hospital. She was born four months earlier than expected. Doctors expected her weight to be at least 400g. However, Kwek was only 212g at birth, which is about the weight of an apple. She spent 13 months at the hospital and was discharged on July 9. Yu Xuan is now a healthy 6.3kg baby. She is believed to be the world’s smallest baby to survive a premature baby.

Her birth came as a shock to both parents and the care team for the infant. Ms Zhang is a nurse clinician and became part of the care team said in her 22 years of being a nurse, she has not seen such a small newborn baby. Yu Xuan’s parents had planned to return to Malaysia for the birth so they could reunite with their four-year-old son, who is under the care of Mr Kwek’s parents.

The family has no intention to return to Malaysia as Yu Xuan requires follow-up care from the hospital. Yu Xuan’s discharge was a joyous occasion and the family are thankful for the nurses who took care of Yu Xuan.

Bibliography 

  1. SUN, D., 2021. PUB investigating if construction works caused flood at Pasir Ris-Tampines junction. [online] The Straits Times. Available at: <https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/pub-investigating-if-construction-works-caused-flood-at-pasir-ris-tampines-junction> [Accessed 20 August 2021] 
  1. CNA. 2021. SCDF evacuates 5 people after vehicles were stuck in flash floods at Pasir Ris; 1 person taken to hospital. [online] Available at: <https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/scdf-evacuates-5-people-after-vehicles-were-stuck-flash-floods-pasir-ris-1-person-taken-hospital-2124966> [Accessed 20 August 2021].
  1. LIEW, I., 2021. Pasir Ris flood: 1 person taken to hospital, 5 others rescued from vehicles by SCDF. [online] The Straits Times. Available at: <https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/heavy-rain-leads-to-flash-floods-and-traffic-snarls-in-parts-of-singapore> [Accessed 20 August 2021].
  2. Yuan, L. (2021, August 12). Alibaba rape Allegation Reveals China Tech’s seamy side. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/technology/china-alibaba-technology-sexual-assault.html
  3. Shepherd, C. (2021, August 21). High-profile rape Allegations Revive CHINA’S #MeToo movement. Subscribe to read | Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/414d7956-5341-4d6d-8c02-95daaadfc002
  4. Former Alibaba employee detained in China over sexual assault allegations. South China Morning Post. (2021, August 15). https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3145075/former-alibaba-employee-detained-china-over-sexual-assault
  5. Victor, D. (2021, August 13). Flooding in China Kills 21, as THOUSANDS escape to shelters. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/world/asia/china-flooding-evacuations.html
  6. Hermesauto. (2021, August 13). 21 killed, 4 missing as heavy rain HITS central China. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/china-cities-declare-rain-red-alerts-amid-power-cuts-floods
  7. Tan, A. (2021, August 7). Discharged after 13 months at NUH, world’s tiniest baby is now a healthy 6.3kg. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/baby-believed-to-be-worlds-smallest-discharged-from-nuh-after-13-month-stay
  8. Martinez, L., Conor Finnegan, Theodorou, C., Cathey, L., King, L., Winsor, M., Seyler, M., Lenthang, M., Deliso, M., & Hutchinson, B. (2021, August 23). Afghanistan updates: Taliban warns US withdrawal deadline is “a red line.” ABC News; ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/live-updates/afghanistan-withdrawal-live-updates/?id=79482353 
  9. Pannett, R. (2021, August 23). Live updates: Taliban rejects extending Aug. 31 U.S. pullout, calling it a “red line.” Washington Post; The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/23/afghanistan-kabul-taliban-live-updates/ 

Olympians’ Trials and Tribulations with Mental Health

Written by: Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4), Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), Emma Shuen Lee (21-O1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Lim Zi Loong, Zexel (21-E2), Rakshita Murugan (21-E1), Tiew Zuo Yuan, Richard (21-I2)

Designed by: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)
 


Introduction

Everyone expected American gymnast Simone Biles to come to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to make history — after all, with a total of 32 Olympic and world medals, she is arguably the most accomplished athlete of all time. And she did, albeit not in the way the world anticipated. 

After stumbling during the qualifying rounds and losing herself midair during the Yurchenko double pike (which she usually completes with ease), Biles pulled out of the women’s team final, citing the reason of safeguarding her mental health. It was one of the first times an athlete of her calibre made such a strong statement on setting their boundaries. 

While broadly positive, the reactions to her withdrawal remain divided, with some saying that quitting reflects poor mental resilience; while others hails her courage and strength to prioritise her health as an inspiration. 

Taking to social media, Biles tweeted, “the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.” Her exit from the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the resulting opinions, are significant because it fuels the conversation of the place of mental health in the realm of competitive sport. Is it fair for athletes to continue being treated like commodities, a means for gaining national pride and prestige, or should we instead start valuing them as human beings who make mistakes? In the following paragraphs, we delve deeper into the issue of mental health in relation to sports and how it is being dealt with.

The mental health of Olympics athletes

    The mental health problem among athletes has long been left unnoticed by the public. People are so used to the idea that athletes are “superhuman”. As such, the high expectations form both the audience and the athletes themselves put athletes’ mental health at stake. This has led to some specific mental health disorders, such as eating disorders, depression and even suicide. 

    Before Biles, many athletes had also voiced out their struggle against mental problems. For example, Michael Phelps, a swimmer with a record 23 gold medals, once mentioned that he contemplated suicide after the 2012 Olympics while wracked with depression.

Biles is not alone in suffering from mental health issues during the Tokyo Olympics. Skateboarder Nyjah Huston also opened up about his struggles. He was placed seventh in the street skateboarding tournament on 25 July this year. He shared in an Instagram post that the pressure of being an internationally renowned athlete “isn’t easy at times” and that he’s often “really hard” on himself when he does not win. Sprinter Allysom Felix is also learning to make mental health a “priority” and knowing when to seek help.

It is evident that mental health issues are highly prevalent among Olympians. In fact, these athletes are especially vulnerable due to the public and financial pressures and a lack of mental health resources.

How the Olympics deals with it 

There is no doubt that the Olympics is proof for the physically well, but its grip on ensuring the mental health and stability of its athletes begs to differ. On the 30th of July, Biles, who had been expected to win six golds in Tokyo, took to Instagram, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.” 

The Olympics’ blatant disregard for athletes’ mental health shows a clear lack of respect for the athletes as human beings, and instead reduces them to mere pawns in a cruel and relentless race to the top. Olympians are not superhuman beings exempt from the laws of physiology; mind and body cannot be mutually exclusive. 

Conclusion 

Underneath the international event’s shiny prestige, the Olympics has some issues it needs to settle. Certainly, before it can achieve its goal of uniting nations in world peace, it must first care for the mental health of its athletes. While more athletes opening up about their personal struggles is a big step in the right direction, the International Olympic Committee itself needs to do more as the governing body of the event. It can possibly start by raising awareness and bringing more attention to mental health issues. 

At the same time, the cheering audiences around the world should also remember that every athlete they are watching is a human being who requires support and kindness just like any other person. The public should adopt an understanding attitude that encourages athletes at both their highest moments, and their lowest.

Bibliography

  1. Rhodes, J., & Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Face. (n.d.). Commentary: Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 should be applauded. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/simone-biles-gym-tokyo-olympics-2020-vault-team-us-mental-health-2080311
  2. Guardian News and Media. (2021, August 1). Simone Biles on last olympic chance after withdrawal from Floor final. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/aug/01/simone-biles-gymnastics-floor-exercise-olympics-tokyo-2020-withdrawal
  3. ‘OK not to be OK’: Mental health takes top role at Olympics. AP NEWS. (2021). Retrieved 11 August 2021, from https://apnews.com/article/2020-tokyo-olympics-swimming-gymnastics-sports-mental-health-0766e3e512f877254b11b1cf99710473.
  4. Orbey, E. (2021, July 27). The radical courage of Simone Biles’s exit from the Team USA Olympic Finals. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/sports/replay/the-radical-courage-of-simone-biless-exit-from-the-team-usa-olympic-finals
  5. Leiker, E. (2021, August 3). Simone Biles at the OLYMPICS: Everything to know about Team Usa star at Tokyo Games. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2021/07/21/get-know-simone-biles-olympics-stars-schedule-age-medal-count/8002480002/

The Activision Blizzard Lawsuit: A Storm of Controversy

Written by: Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4), Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), He Jizhao (21-U5), Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1), Rakshita Murugan (21-E1), Tiew Zuo Yuan, Richard (21-I2), Zuo Yuning (21-A1)

Designed by: Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1)

Introduction 

Does the considerable success of a company excuse it to overlook workplace discrimination? It seems that the pursuit of success for such corporate giants seems more important and therefore outweighs the importance of shaping a just workplace, and it is thereby hard to pick a side in the case of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit. Activision Blizzard Inc. is an American video game company, and if there is one thing you know about them, it is their Call of Duty series. But what exactly happened and what does this reflect about the video game industry as a whole? 

The Lawsuit 

The backlash against Activision Blizzard began with a lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The lawsuit not only alleged a “frat boy” work culture, where multiple female employees were subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay, but also that “the company’s executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and retaliated against women who complained”.

In the wake of the lawsuit, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack emailed company staff, acknowledging that the behavior detailed in the suit was “completely unacceptable.” Activision President Rob Kostich then followed up by emailing staff calling the allegations “deeply disturbing” and saying that Blizzard “take[s] every allegation seriously.” Meanwhile, several videos regarding statements made by Blizzard executives promoting sexualisation of women went viral on Twitter, further adding to the criticism against the work culture at the company. However, Activision Blizzard chief compliance officer Fran Townsend instead claimed that the lawsuit’s allegations were “distorted and untrue”. 

Then, on 26 July, over 1000 current and former employees signed an open letter to management, calling Townsend’s statement “abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for.” On the same day, Activision held an “all-hands” meeting, though only with 500 staff. Executives tried to address the lawsuit, though statements were again filled with cliches such as that there is “zero tolerance” for the work culture alleged in the lawsuit. 

Since then, the World of Warcraft team has announced that it would remove references from the game that would come across as inappropriate while many executives have decided to leave the company. Employees also held a walkout at the Blizzard Headquarters on 28 July, while more joined in the work stoppage, criticising executives for their lack of efficacy in managing concerns voiced out by employees. 

Since the initial lawsuit and netizen’s calls to boycott the company, many other firms such as Kellogs, Coca-Cola and T-Mobilehave withdrawn their sponsorships with the Overwatch League, including Kelloggs, Coca-Cola and T-Mobile. Prior to the scandal, such companies were active in promoting their products over the league. Not only were there advertisements for such products, the signature red Coca-Cola cups were also placed next to commentators for the game. Undoubtedly, sponsorships were one of the biggest parts of revenues for the company. 

The Video Game Industry – The Ugly 

This putrefying treatment of women in the workplace is but a microcosm of the gaming industry’s attitude towards women. A mere review of the mainstream video games shows that female characters are more often than not, portrayed as subordinate, docile and hypersexual counterparts to the strong and dominant protagonistic male characters with recurring trends of crunch, gender discrimination, racism, toxicity, corporate greed. It is blatantly obvious that despite women taking up about 32 percent of all gamers in the gaming industry, the company’s leadership remains insular and “tone deaf” to the calls of female gamers to counter sexist stereotypes as seen in the 2010 Blizzcon viral video. Also, the majority of workers out of the core gaming culture perceive itself as a boy’s club, influencing the game industry culture to perpetuate an insidious cycle of sexism. Evidently, the unregulated boy’s club culture of silence, complicity and the enablement of toxic behaviour is deeply entrenched and makes it extremely unwelcoming for women.

The Video Game Industry – The Good

Despite all the controversies that have surfaced, humanity still shines in certain areas of the gaming industry. Humble Bundle, a digital storefront that prices bundles of multiple games at modest starting prices under a ‘pay-what-you-want’ model, is the antithesis to the all too common predatory pricing practices many game companies employ. Going beyond just being consumer-friendly, they also donate portions of their proceeds to charities. Other gaming companies have also helped charitable causes before, such as 343 Industries and Games for Change, just to name a couple.

In terms of work conditions, as the spotlight has increasingly shone on the plight of burnt out and mistreated employees in the game industry in recent years, companies have been changing their ways, and work conditions have steadily improved. On the side of the employees, unionisation efforts have been stepping up, further pushing video game companies for better conditions. Game Workers Unite, an organisation founded in 2018 that has grown to over a thousand members across the world, has been a driving force for unionisation, organising awareness campaigns and building relationships with existing unions.

With all that said, as a multi-billion dollar industry with over hundreds of thousands of workers, more certainly needs to be done at a faster pace. 

Conclusion

Discrimination and sexual harrassment against women in the workplace has always been an issue. However, it is still disappointing to face yet another case of such behaviour. Moreover, this hardly comes as a surprise as the video game industry has long been facing allegations of toxic workplace practices especially in relation towards women. In studying this lawsuit, it is thus hard to look at it as an isolated case but rather a symptom of the entire industry’s culture and standards. As the scandal and lawsuit itself is still unfolding, we await to find out if not only the company itself, but the industry will be held accountable for their behaviour. 

Looking at the situation broadly, perhaps as consumers, we can ever so slightly steer change in a positive direction through our personal decisions: by supporting the games of companies trying to make a difference, while boycotting and speaking out against the companies with reprehensible practices.

References 

  1. Matt T.M. Kim. (2021, August 6). Embattled Activision Blizzard Executive Steps Down as Women’s Network Sponsor. IGN Southeast Asia; IGN Southeast Asia. https://sea.ign.com/news/175127/embattled-activision-blizzard-executive-steps-down-as-womens-network-sponsor 
  2. Fenlon, W. (2021, August 3). Everything that’s happened since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit went public. Pcgamer; PC Gamer. https://www.pcgamer.com/activision-blizzard-lawsuit-controversy-timeline-explained/‌ 
  3. Matt T.M. Kim. (2021, August 6). Embattled Activision Blizzard Executive Steps Down as Women’s Network Sponsor. IGN Southeast Asia; IGN Southeast Asia. https://sea.ign.com/news/175127/embattled-activision-blizzard-executive-steps-down-as-womens-network-sponsor 
  4. Rishi Iyengar, C. (2021). The Activision Blizzard lawsuit could be a watershed moment for the business world. Here’s why. CNN. Retrieved 7 August 2021, from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/03/tech/activision-blizzard-employee-backlash-kotick/index.html
  5. Peckham. (2020) https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/21/confronting-racial-bias-in-video-games/

Periscope July 2021 Summary

Written by: Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Rakshita Murugan (21-E1), Tiew Zuo Yuan Richard (21-I2), Zuo Yuning (21-A1), Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4)

Designed by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)

Here’s July’s edition of bitesized current affairs, a monthly summary of the happenings around the world! From an interesting gauge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to speculation on Poland’s exit from the EU and even the next-door KTV cluster, we have all the news for you.

Global  

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Begins! 

The long awaited 2020 Tokyo Olympics has finally begun, except that it is now 2021 and the expected 40 million international fans and tourists leave the Japanese stadiums vacant.

Many have taken to social media to document their fanatic following on the Tokyo Olympics games, raving about the glory behind the sports, the heartwarming sportsmanship and drama of the Olympians, and the beautiful infrastructure of the Olympic village Japan has put together just for this long-awaited event.

However, the social and environmental consequences are not to be forgotten. Over 300 Japanese homes have been forcibly relocated by the Japanese government to accommodate the Games, and the building, transport and accommodation costs for the Olympic athletes has only added on to the hefty price tag that is borne by the Japanese government — upwards of 26 million USD. The number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo have also risen to upwards of 3000, of which numerous were caused by the spike in Olympian-related cases. Therefore, a question comes to mind when reviewing the rationality behind hosting such a large-scale international sporting event in the midst of a pandemic: is it really worth it?

South African unrest 

As of Thursday, 22 July, the government has reported 337 deaths due to the increasing unrest in South Africa.

Most incidents of unrest are in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, home province and support base of former president Jacob Zuma, and Gauteng, where capital Pretoria and main city Johannesburg are located.

The unrest originated from the Constitutional Court’s decision to sentence Zuma to 15 months in prison after he refused to turn up for trials for corruption allegations on 8th of July. Zuma supporters were infuriated, and hence decided to launch a series of protests throughout the country.

While Zuma’s prison sentence was a trigger to the widespread unrest,  long-standing, systemic issues like poverty, unemployment and wealth inequality have created deep resentment and could be the underlying cause for these violent protests.

Both explanations exemplify how political fragmentation among the electorate can endanger the legitimacy of the ruling government, and reveal how economic problems can erode social stability.

The army has been deployed in worst affected areas to suppress unrest, but until the root causes of violence are addressed, there can be no true stability in South Africa.

Poland’s speculated exit from the EU  

They are calling it Polexit, a portmanteau of ‘Poland’ and ‘Exit’. The issue started in 2017, when the international media speculated over Poland’s intentions to leave the EU. Later in 2019, Poland’s Supreme Court warned that judicial reforms could result in having to leave the EU. Currently, the conflict has reached a fever pitch with the Poles becoming ever determined to leave. 

Here are some reasons for why: 

  1. Poland’s values are out of sync with many other EU countries

          The PiS is currently the largest political party in the Polish parliament, helmed by party leader, Jarosław Aleksander Kaczyński. Whether be it the EU rule of law, climate goals, abortion or protection of LGBTQI rights — many PiS politicians see it as the EU imposing “Western” or “liberal” values on conservative and Christian Poland. The conflicting beliefs and values makes it difficult for Warsaw and Brussels to find common ground on policies. For instance, the Polish government recently opposed a gender equality plan for EU foreign policy and the bloc’s artificial intelligence strategy because they included the word “gender.”

  1. There’s rising anti-EU sentiment amongst government backers

Most Polish officials do not like the EU, its institutions and the officials behind it.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s current prime minister, made a recent speech to the Polish parliament defending the budgetary veto to cancel the EU budget deals. He likened the bloc to Poland’s former communist regime, railed against “arbitrary decisions” by “Eurocrats” and “the European oligarchy.”

  1. Being in the EU might not be in Kaczyński’s long-term interest

Poland’s future rests in the hands of 71-year-old Kaczyński- Poland’s de facto leader. He feels the EU isn’t central to his vision of rebuilding Poland from the ground up. He aims to cut the country off from the years of reform dating back to the end of communism in 1989. For Kaczyński’s plans to be a success, PiS needs to tighten its grip on the courts, media, other institutions and build up its own loyal cadres and elites. The Polish government has already said it has no intention of backing away from further legal changes that have soured relations with Brussels.

Regional 

Cracking down on Didi Chuxing 

DiDi Chuxing, one of China’s tech giants, is under investigation by the Chinese government following its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the United States. The Chinese government claimed that it was simply in precaution of ensuring national security while removing its app from all app stores across the country. The Chinese Cybersecurity Watchdog (CAC) shared on the 2nd of July that they had launched a “cybersecurity review” of DiDi to “guard against risks to national data security” and “protect the public interest.”

Local

KTV and Jurong Fishery Port COVID-19 Clusters 

The latest KTV and Jurong Fishery Port clusters have caused a spike of hundreds of new infections, setting us back to Phase 2 with tighter measures.

While several KTV lounges, mainstays of Singapore’s nightlife scene, have been allowed to operate as F&B outlets with restrictions in place, many establishments have flouted these rules and operated underground with activities such as close socialisation and interaction with hostesses present. As a result, 227 cases, comprising many patrons and hostesses, have been discovered so far. This entire situation tells us that COVID-19 restrictions are there for a reason and are in fact protecting us; flouting them can only put the entire country at risk.

Meanwhile, the Jurong Fishery Port is a bustling site where thousands of workers, customers and suppliers do business, and 30% of Singapore’s seafood imports come through. While serious breaches of restrictions did not occur in this case, the sheer scale of the operations there and the frequent movement from the port to distributors and retailers around the country have led to 665 total cases and the temporary closure of the port. This situation teaches the hard lesson that now is not the time to get complacent, and we must still continue to diligently observe the “smaller” measures like proper mask wearing and social distancing.

Tragedy at River Valley High School  

On 19th July, a tragic event occurred at River Valley High School (RVHS) that sent our nation into mourning. A 16-year-old student had killed a fellow student of 13 years in the level four-bathroom of the high school compound. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) received a call for assistance at RVHS at about 11.40 am on Monday, and the victim was found lying motionless and was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic. The alleged teen assailant was arrested, and an axe was seized as evidence. The suspect was charged in Court the following day for murder. The judge ordered the accused to be remanded for psychiatric observation for three weeks and return to Court on 10th August. 

Since the incident, the Singapore community has shown great solidarity in helping RV emerge stronger. Several religious groups have come forward to pray with the bereaved and for the well-being of the affected students, and dozens of bouquets have been laid by public members outside the school. Several ministers have taken to social media to express their condolences, and MOE is working closely with RVHS to provide students and staff trauma support. Moving forward, MOE and schools will continue to be vigilant about campus security. 


Bibliography

  1. 130 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections in Singapore, 78 linked to Jurong Fishery Port. CNA. (2021, July 23). https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-new-cases-jurong-fishery-port-jul-23-cluster-moh-15274048
  2. Al Jazeera. (2021, July 22). South Africa unrest death toll jumps to more than 300. Jacob Zuma News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/7/22/south-africa-unrest-death-toll-jumps-to-more-than-300
  3. BBC. (2021, July 15). South Africa looting: Government to deploy 25,000 troops after unrest. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57848357
  4. Calland, R. (2021, June 29). Historic moment as Constitutional Court finds Zuma guilty and sentences him to jail. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/historic-moment-as-constitutional-court-finds-zuma-guilty-and-sentences-him-to-jail-163612
  5. Meldrum, A. (2021, July 19). EXPLAINER: What caused South Africa’s week of rioting? AP NEWS. https://apnews.com/article/africa-business-biden-cabinet-south-africa-2d0aaef63102a661c8e54d3bdf926566
  6. Mlaba, K. (2021, July 13). Poverty, Inequality and Looting: Everything You Need to Know About South Africa’s Protests. Global Citizen. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/everything-you-need-to-know-south-africa-protests/?template=next
  7. Steinhauser, G. (2021, July 16). What Is Happening in South Africa? Riots After Jacob Zuma’s Arrest. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/south-africa-riots-whats-happening-11626280457
  8. BBC. (2019, December 17). Poland may have to leave EU, Supreme Court warns. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50828516
  9. Wanat, Z., & Cienski, J. (2020, November 30). Polexit: 3 reasons why Poland will quit the EU and 3 why it won’t. POLITICO. https://www.politico.eu/article/polexit-poland-veto-kaczynski-morawiecki-polexit-brexit-eu/
  10. Ong, J. (2021, July 23). Solidarity in tragedy transcends race and Religion, says Chan. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/solidarity-in-tragedy-transcends-race-and-religion-says-chan
  11. Kai, N. W. (2021, July 27). How River Valley high School Tragedy UNFOLDED: Student seen holding Axe, asking others to call police. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/how-river-valley-high-school-tragedy-unfolded-student-seen-holding-axe-asking