Huawei Loses 5G Bid In Singapore To Nokia, Ericsson

This photo taken on June 23, 2020 shows a Huawei global flagship store ahead of its opening in Shanghai. STR / AFP
This photo taken on June 23, 2020, shows a Huawei global flagship store ahead of its opening in Shanghai. STR / AFP

 

Nokia and Ericsson have been chosen as Singapore’s main 5G network providers, telecom operators said, leaving Huawei with only a minor role as the Chinese tech giant faces growing US pressure.

Huawei has been dogged by allegations of stealing American trade secrets and aiding China’s espionage efforts, with Washington pushing countries to bar the company from involvement in their next-generation networks.

Huawei has denied ties with the Chinese government.

Singtel, one of the city-state’s main telecom operators, on Wednesday said it had chosen Sweden’s Ericsson to build its 5G network after the government gave final approval.

A joint venture that includes the country’s two other major telecom operators, M1 and StarHub, announced it had opted for Nokia to build its main 5G infrastructure.

However both M1 and Starhub said that other firms, including Huawei, could have some involvement in the project.

Huawei only won the contract to be a provider for a smaller, local network system, operated by TPG Telecom, a more minor player.

The Southeast Asian city-state tries to maintain good relations with both the US and China, and Information Minister S. Iswaran insisted that no company had been excluded in the selection process.

“We have run a robust process spelling out our requirements in terms of performance, security and resilience,” he said, adding that mobile network operators also had their own criteria.

“There is a diversity of vendors participating in different parts of the 5G ecosystem, and… there remain prospects for greater involvement in our 5G system going forward.”

Singapore is aiming to have ultra high-speed internet coverage for half of the country by the end of 2022, and expand it to cover the entire island by the end of 2025.

The US government launched a worldwide campaign against Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecom network equipment and the planet’s number two smartphone maker, about 18 months ago.

Washington essentially banned Huawei from the US market last year, although earlier this month it let the firm back into the fold when it comes to companies working together to set standards for 5G networks.

 

AFP

Singapore Approves Anti-Viral Drug For COVID-19 Patients

A health worker takes a nasal swab test sample from an essential worker to detect the COVID-19 novel coronavirus before the workers return to work in Singapore on June 10, 2020. Roslan RAHMAN / AFP.

 

Singapore has approved the use of the anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat seriously ill coronavirus patients, authorities said Wednesday, becoming the latest country to do so.

The US authorised the emergency use of remdesivir in hospitals at the start of May, followed by Japan and South Korea, while Europe has been considering following suit.

It has been granted conditional approval in Singapore for treatment of some adult virus patients, such as those who require intensive breathing support, the country’s health products regulator said.

The regulator, the Health Sciences Authority, said it had “expedited the review of remdesivir given the urgent public health need during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

As a condition for the approval, the authority requires US-based Gilead Sciences, which developed the drug, to collect safety data and monitor its use.

READ ALSO: Elevated Extreme Poverty To Persist Through 2021 – World Bank

Singapore initially kept the virus in check with a strict regime of testing and contact tracing, only for serious outbreaks to emerge later in dormitories housing low-paid foreign workers.

The city-state now has the highest recorded number of infections in Southeast Asia with nearly 39,000 cases, mostly among foreign workers. The death toll stands at 25.

AFP

Singapore Airlines Reports Nearly $150 Million Virus Loss

Singapore Airlines reported an annual loss of almost $150 million Thursday, driven by the collapse in air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the latest sign of the outbreak’s devastating impact on the aviation sector.

The airline group – which includes subsidiaries SilkAir and Scoo – suffered a net loss of Sg$212 million (US$148 million) for the financial year that ended on March 31, compared to a profit of Sg$683 million last year.

The city-state’s flag carrier lost Sg$732 million in the fourth quarter, mainly due to a reduction in passenger revenue as the virus crisis exploded.

“Fears about the spread of the virus, as well as global travel restrictions and border controls, led to a collapse in the demand for air travel during the quarter,” the airline said in its financial report.

Read Also: Nigerian Airlines Lose N17bn Monthly To COVID-19 – Sirika

The recent collapse in oil prices also led to Sg$710 million of fuel hedging losses in the fourth quarter.

Singapore Airlines cut passenger capacity by 96 percent from April to June and grounded most of its fleet as people stopped flying due to the pandemic.

The airline’s majority shareholder, state investment fund Temasek, has thrown its weight behind a rescue package to help the carrier weather the pandemic.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion of revenue this year.

The trade body said last month that global air traffic suffered a 52.9 per cent drop in March compared with the same period last year – the “largest decline in recent history” – due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Singapore Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Gay Sex Ban

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

A fresh bid to overturn a Singapore law banning gay sex failed Monday as a court dismissed several challenges, a setback for efforts to promote greater LGBT rights in Asia.

Inherited from the British colonial era, the law is rarely enforced but campaigners say it nevertheless jars with the affluent city-state’s increasingly modern and vibrant culture.

Others however argue that Singapore remains at heart conservative and is not ready for change, while officials also believe most would not be in favour of repealing the legislation.

The latest attempt to overturn the law was spearheaded by three people — a retired doctor, a DJ and an LGBT rights advocate — who lodged court challenges seeking to prove the law is unconstitutional.

But the High Court dismissed all three after hearing them together behind closed doors, ruling the law does not violate articles of the constitution regarding equality and freedom of speech.

The court also found the fact the legislation was not enforced did not “render it redundant”.

“Legislation remains important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs,” according to a summary of the judgement.

M. Ravi, a lawyer for one of the complainants, told reporters outside court he was “very disappointed”.

“It’s shocking to the conscience and it is so arbitrary. It is so discriminatory this legislation,” he said.

A first challenge to the law was dismissed in 2014. The repeated failure to overturn it contrasts sharply with progress made elsewhere in the region on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

In 2018, India’s Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex by overturning legislation from its own period under British rule — a decision that spurred campaigners in Singapore to renew their efforts.

And in Taiwan, lawmakers took the unprecedented step last year to legalise same-sex marriage, making the island the first place in Asia to do so.

Singapore’s ban, introduced in 1938, carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail for homosexual acts.

AFP

Coronavirus: Singapore Charges Man With Virus For Lying To Health Officials

This photograph taken on February 22, 2020 shows a volunteer (L) taking a temperature of a church member attending a small group service as a protective measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Heart of God church in Singapore. Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

 

A Chinese man infected with coronavirus and his wife have been charged in Singapore for lying to health authorities investigating whether they had passed the illness to others, officials said Wednesday.

Singapore has recorded nearly 100 cases of the COVID-19 infection since the illness first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December.

With nearly 2,800 confirmed deaths and more than 81,000 cases worldwide, Singapore has banned the entry of visitors who have travelled through China or parts of South Korea within two weeks of their arrival.

Hu Jun, originally from Wuhan, arrived in Singapore on January 22 and later tested positive for the illness. The 38-year-old has since recovered and been discharged from hospital.

His Chinese wife, a resident of the city-state, was issued a quarantine order.

Singapore’s health ministry said the couple “had given false information… about their movements and whereabouts” to officials investigating whether they could have passed the infection on to others.

They were charged because of the potentially serious risk their actions had posed to public health, the ministry added.

The pair face a fine of up to US$7,150 and six-month imprisonment if convicted.

Retracing the movements of those infected with the virus is crucial in tracking down individuals who may have been exposed, and prevent further spread.

In a separate case, immigration officials said Wednesday it had withdrawn an unnamed foreigner’s permanent resident status for violating an order to stay at home in self-quarantine after his recent travel to China.

AFP

Singapore Confirms First Case Of Coronavirus

Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on January 18, 2020.  STR / AFP

 

Singapore Thursday confirmed its first case the new SARS-like virus which has killed 17 people in China and spread to multiple countries including the United States.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patient was a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.

He was immediately isolated after arriving at a hospital with a fever and cough, and test results later confirmed he was infected with the coronavirus.

One of his travelling companions, a 37-year-old man from Wuhan, has also been admitted to hospital as a suspect case.

Prior to admission, they had stayed at a hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, the ministry said.

It added that Singapore was expecting more cases and alarms “given the high volume of international travel”.

Singapore’s Changi Airport started screening flights from Wuhan at the beginning of the month, and on Wednesday extended the checks to all flights from China.

The travel hub receives over 430 flights from China every week.

The virus has caused alarm in China and abroad because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Singapore was among the hardest hit by SARS with 33 deaths.

AFP

US Approves $2.75bn Fighter Jet Sale To Singapore

 

 

The United States has approved the sale of up to 12 F-35 fighter jets — one of the most advanced warplanes ever built — to Singapore for around $2.75 billion, officials said Friday.

The city-state last year said it planned to buy four of the jets, with an option to purchase eight more, picking the Lockheed Martin model over rivals from Europe and China.

Despite its small size, Singapore has one of the region’s best-equipped armed forces and spends a large chunk of its national budget on defence.

The State Department had approved the jet sale, said the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, adding Congress had been notified and must now also give the green light.

“Singapore is a strategic friend and major security cooperation partner and an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” said the agency.

It added that the deal “will not alter the basic military balance in the region”.

The affluent city-state spent several years assessing which fighter jet should replace its aging fleet of F-16s before choosing the F-35s.

It is a supersonic plane whose advanced stealth characteristics allow pilots to avoid detection by radars, according to Lockheed Martin.

Its advanced electronic warfare capabilities enable pilots to locate and track enemy forces, jam radars and disrupt attacks.

The Singapore military also has F-15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and submarines in its arsenal.

Top Ten Most Powerful Passports To Hold In 2020

 

 

The most powerful passport to carry in 2020 is a Japanese passport. 

This is according to a list by the Henley Passport Index which occasionally curates a list of the world’s most travel-friendly passports.

In its first report for the new decade, Japan has the most powerful passport availing those who possess it visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to about 191 destinations around the world.

The list also shows another Asian country – Singapore sitting in second place, with other European countries trailing right behind.

Below are the top ten most powerful passports to hold in 2020, according to the Henley Passport Index.

1. Japan

2. Singapore

3. Germany/ South Korea

4. Finland/Italy

5. Denmark/Luxemburg and Spain

6. France/Sweden

7. Austria/Ireland/Netherlands/ Portugal/ Sweden

8. Belgium/Greece/Norway/United Kingdom/United States

9. Australia/Canada/Czech Republic/Malta/New Zealand

10. Hungary/Lithuana/Slovakia/

According to the list, Nigeria ranks 95 alongside Djibouti. The nation is just above countries like South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Eritrea, Congo Democratic Republic, Bangladesh, and eleven other countries.

The Henley Passport Index ranks all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Google Bans Political Ads In Singapore

 

 In this file photo taken on November 20, 2017 shows logos of US multinational technology company Google displayed on computers' screens.
In this file photo taken on November 20, 2017 shows logos of US multinational technology company Google displayed on computers’ screens.

 

Google has banned political ads in Singapore ahead of elections, an opposition party said Wednesday, sparking accusations the tech giant was “kowtowing” to the tightly-controlled city’s government.

The ban was imposed under controversial new rules aimed at fighting disinformation in the city-state, which critics fear could be used to stifle dissent.

General elections are widely expected within months and weak opposition parties are relying on social media to reach voters in a country where the mainstream media typically backs the long-ruling government.

But the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), a key opposition group, said that Google had refused their request to buy ads on the site.

Google had cited the new regulations, which prohibit adverts seeking to influence public opinion, according to correspondence between the US firm and the party posted on the SDP website by chairman Paul Tambyah.

“We have been highly dependent on social media and the internet to get our message across to the people of Singapore,” Tambyah said in a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai.

“This new policy is alarming and very disappointing.”

Ted Osius, Google’s vice president for government affairs and public policy, replied that banning political ads “was not an easy decision to make”, according to a copy of his letter posted by the party.

Google, which has its regional headquarters in Singapore, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tambyah’s party does not currently hold any seats in parliament, and the city’s fractious opposition groups are not seen as a threat to the long-ruling People’s Action Party.

Brad Bowyer, a member of another opposition group, the Progress Singapore Party, told AFP it was “very disheartening when the national media is controlled and now social media is kowtowing”.

Bowyer had to put up a correction by one of his Facebook posts last week after authorities ordered him to under the new law.

At the weekend, Facebook posted a correction by a post in Singapore for the first time after receiving an official request.

 

AFP

UK Ex-Headmaster Jailed In Singapore Over Drug Case

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

A British former headmaster of an international school in China has been jailed for 10 months in Singapore after admitting possession and consumption of methamphetamine, officials said Tuesday.

Damien Michael Charnock used to be the head of Dulwich College Shanghai, a branch of the exclusive London private school.

Police arrested the 60-year-old in March at an apartment in the city-state and discovered bags containing the drug and a glass contraption for smoking it, according to court documents.

The case has echoes of hit American TV show “Breaking Bad”, which tells the story of a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and turns to making meth to raise money to secure his family’s future.

Charnock pleaded guilty to three drug charges, and the attorney-general’s chambers confirmed he was jailed on Friday.

His offences represented “a precipitous fall from grace”, defence lawyer Remy Choo was cited as saying by Singapore news outlet CNA.

“His life’s work as a talented and immensely devoted educator lies in tatters.”

He had been smoking crystal meth since 2017 and was employed as a curriculum developer at the time of the offences, the court documents said, without mentioning who his employer was.

Singapore — which has tough anti-narcotics laws — punishes consumption of methamphetamine with a jail term of up to 10 years, and a fine of up to Sg$20,000 ($14,700).

In an interview in 2015, Charnock said he was appointed to work at the Shanghai institution in 2014 after years as a headmaster at a school in London.

Dulwich College, founded in the 17th century, now has several branches in Asia, including in Singapore.

Super Eagles Train In Singapore For Brazil Match

A file photos of Super Eagles of Nigeria during a training session.

 

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have begun training sessions in Singapore ahead of Sunday’s international friendly match with five-time world champions Brazil.

Stoke City of England’s Oghenekaro Etebo was a late withdrawal from the roster, but all the other 21 players trained on Thursday morning and would train twice on Friday.

The official training session would take place on Saturday, with the match scheduled to kick off at 1pm Nigeria time the following day.

Eagles’ Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has opted not to call any more players following the withdrawal of Etebo, and Wednesday’s withdrawal of defender Olaoluwa Aina as a result of injury.

The Franco-German already replaced defender Kenneth Omeruo with Tyronne Ebuehi, while Efosa Solomon-Otabor joined the camp following Samuel Kalu’s unavailability.

Solomon-Otabor and forward Peter Olayinka joined the team for the first time while Ebuehi returned for the first time since the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

Former junior international midfielder Ramon Azeez also made a return, and defenders Abdullahi Shehu and Chidozie Awaziem, as well as midfielder Wilfred Ndidi also returned after missing the 2-2 draw with Ukraine in Dnipro in September.

See the names of the 21 Super Eagles to battle Brazil below:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Emil Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)

Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Tyronne Ebuehi (SL Benfica, Portugal); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Midfielders: Alexander Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Anderson Esiti (PAOK Salonica, Greece); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain)

Forwards: Victor Osimhen (Lille OSC, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Efosa Solomon-Otabor (PFC CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Emmanuel Dennis (Club Brugge, Belgium); Peter Olayinka (SK Slavia Prague, Czech Republic).

Brazil Names Strong Squad For Super Eagles Friendly

 

Five-time world champions, Brazil have named a strong squad made up of the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus for next month’s friendly against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Singapore.

The 23-man squad also has Manchester City’s goalkeeper, Ederson as well as Premier League stars, Roberto Firmino, Fabiano and Richarlison.

Coach Tite has also invited uncapped goalkeeper Santos, Renan Lodi and Matheus Henrique.

The Super Eagles and Selecao will clash for the second time on October 13 at the National Stadium in Singapore.

In 2003, Brazil defeated Nigeria 3-0 in a friendly game played in Abuja.