Singapore Turns Sewage Into Ultra-Clean Water

This picture taken on July 27, 2021 shows the reverse osmosis treatment on used water equipment at the Bedok NEWater plant in Singapore. – Giant pumps whir deep underground at the plant in Singapore that helps transform sewage into water so clean it is fit for human consumption while reducing ocean pollution. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP) / TO GO WITH Singapore-environment-water-pollution,FOCUS by Martin Abbugao

 

 

Giant pumps whir deep underground at a plant in Singapore that helps transform sewage into water so clean it is fit for human consumption while reducing ocean pollution.

The tiny island nation has little in the way of natural water sources and has long had to rely principally on supplies from neighbouring Malaysia.

To boost self-sufficiency, the government has developed an advanced system for treating sewage involving a network of tunnels and high-tech plants.

Recycled wastewater can now meet 40 percent of Singapore’s water demand — a figure that is expected to rise to 55 percent by 2060, according to the country’s water agency.

While most is used for industrial purposes, some of it is added to drinking water supplies in reservoirs in the city-state of 5.7 million people.

And the system helps reduce maritime pollution, as only a small amount of the treated water is discharged into the sea.

This is a contrast to most other countries — 80 percent of the world’s wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused, according to UN estimates.

“Singapore lacks natural resources and it is limited in space, which is why we are always looking for ways to explore water sources and stretch our water supply,” Low Pei Chin, chief engineer of the Public Utilities Board’s water reclamation department, told AFP.

One key strategy is to “collect every drop” and “reuse endlessly”, she added.

This is in addition to the city-state’s other main approaches to securing water supplies — importing it, using reservoirs and desalinating seawater.

At the heart of the recycling system is the high-tech Changi Water Reclamation Plant on the city’s eastern coast.

Parts of the facility in land-scarce Singapore are underground — some as deep as 25 stories — and it is fed by wastewater that flows through a massive, 48-kilometre (30-mile) tunnel, linked to sewers.

The site houses a maze of steel pipes, tubes, tanks, filtration systems and other machinery, and can treat up to 900 million litres (237 million US gallons) of wastewater a day — enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 24 hours for a year.

In one building, a network of ventilators have been installed to keep the air smelling fresh, although a putrid whiff still hangs in the air.

– ‘Limited amount of water’ –
Sewage that arrives at the plant undergoes an initial filtering process before powerful pumps send it flowing to facilities above ground for further treatment.

There, the treated water is further cleansed, with impurities like bacteria and viruses removed through advanced filtration processes, and disinfected with ultraviolet rays.

The end product, dubbed “NEWater”, is mainly used in microchip manufacturing plants — which are ubiquitous in the city-state and require high-quality water — and for cooling systems in buildings.

But it also helps boost drinking water supplies. During the dry season, it is sent to top up several man-made reservoirs and, following further treatment, flows to people’s taps.

Singapore is expanding its recycling system.

It will add an extra underground tunnel and a major water reclamation plant to serve the western half of the island, which should be completed by 2025.

Singapore will have spent Sg$10 billion (US$7.4 billion) on upgrading its water treatment infrastructure by the time the expansion is finished.

One impetus to seek greater self-sufficiency are the city-state’s historically fractious relations with key water source, Malaysia.

The neighbours have had stormy ties since Malaysia ejected Singapore from a short-lived union in 1965, and they have in the past had rows over water supplies.

Stefan Wuertz, a professor of environmental engineering at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, stressed the importance for other countries to treat wastewater more effectively, warning of serious long-term impacts otherwise.

“There is a limited amount of water on the planet,” he told AFP.

“If we were to keep polluting the freshwater, at some stage we would reach the point where… treatment becomes extremely expensive.”

Singaporean Woman Jailed 30 Years For Torturing, Killing Maid

Gaiyathiri Murugayan admitted to starving, torturing, and ultimately killing her help, Piang Ngaih Do.

 

 

A Singaporean woman who starved, assaulted and ultimately killed her domestic worker was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday, with the judge describing the case as “among the worst types of culpable homicide”.

The affluent city-state is home to about 250,000 domestic workers who mostly come from poorer Asian countries, and stories of mistreatment are common.

But the abuse inflicted on Myanmar national Piang Ngaih Don, 24, was particularly awful and captured on CCTV installed in the family’s home. The domestic worker was stamped on, strangled, choked, battered with brooms and burnt with an iron, according to court documents.

The domestic worker died in July 2016, after her employer, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, repeatedly assaulted her over several hours.

Gaiyathiri, 41, pleaded guilty in February to 28 charges including culpable homicide. Another 87 charges were taken into account in sentencing.

She appeared in court on Tuesday wearing glasses and a black mask, and sat silently with her eyes closed and head bowed as the judge read his decision.

After hearing an additional plea of mitigation submitted by Gaiyathiri in a bid to avoid the life sentence sought by the prosecution, Justice See Kee Oon sentenced her to 30 years in prison starting from the date of her arrest in 2016.

See cited the “abject cruelty of the accused’s appalling conduct” in his sentencing, which he added must signal “societal outrage and abhorrence” at the crime.

But taking into account the defendant’s obsessive compulsive disorder and the depression she developed around the time she gave birth, See said he did not think that life imprisonment was “fair and appropriate”.

The prosecution had sought a reduced charge of culpable homicide rather than murder — punishable with the death penalty in Singapore — after taking into account her mental health.

The maid was employed by Gaiyathiri and her husband, a police officer, in 2015 to help take care of their four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son.

But Gaiyathiri physically assaulted the victim almost daily, often several times a day, with her 61-year-old mother sometimes joining in, according to court documents.

The domestic worker, who had been employed by the family for over a year at the time of her death, was only allowed to sleep for five hours a night, and was forced to shower and relieve herself with the door open.

Provided very little food, she lost about 38 percent of her body weight during her employment, and only weighed 24 kilogrammes (53 pounds) at the time of her death.

Gaiyathiri’s lawyer Joseph Chen had asked for a sentence of eight to nine years, arguing that a “combination of stresses” had turned the struggling mother into an abuser.

He argued that a harsh sentence would deter mothers in a similar situation from asking for help — an argument that the prosecution called “disingenuous”.

Centuries-Old Shipwrecks Found Off Singapore

This undated handout photo from the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute released on June 16, 2021 shows a cannon, discovered from a shipwreck, being brought onboard a ship in the waters off Pedra Branca, Singapore. (Photo by Handout / ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute / AFP)

 

Two centuries-old shipwrecks packed with ceramics and other artefacts have been found off Singapore in a rare discovery that will shed light on the city-state’s maritime heritage, archaeologists said Wednesday.

The prosperous island nation has long been a key trading hub on global shipping routes connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

The wrecks were found off Pedra Branca, a rocky outcrop east of Singapore, according to the National Heritage Board and think tank the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, which worked together on the project.

The first wreck, discovered after divers accidentally came across ceramic plates in 2015, was carrying Chinese ceramics that possibly date back to the 14th century, when Singapore was known as Temasek.

Some of the items were similar to artefacts found in archaeological digs on land, which showed that Singapore was a trading hub well before the arrival of British colonisers in 1819.

Undersea excavations on the first wreck led to the discovery of the second, which is likely to be the Shah Munchah, a merchant vessel built in India that sank in 1796 while sailing from China to India.

Items recovered from the second wreck ranged from Chinese ceramics to glass and agate objects, as well anchors and cannons, the heritage board and think tank said.

The survey and recovery of artefacts from the two wrecks was completed this year.

Such cannons were typically mounted on merchant ships used by the East India Company — the trading behemoth through which the British empire expanded in Asia — in the 18th and 19th centuries, they added.

The vessel discovered in 2015 was the first ancient shipwreck to be found in Singapore’s waters.

It was carrying “more Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelain than any other documented shipwreck in the world,” said Michael Flecker, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s archaeology unit.

“Many of the pieces are rare, and one is believed to be unique.”

The Yuan dynasty existed in what is now China in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Much of the Chinese cargo in the second wreck was destined for eventual shipping to Britain, said Flecker.

AFP

Singapore Limits Contact-Tracing Data Access After Outcry

FILES: (Photo byRoslan RAHMAN / AFP)

 

Singapore’s parliament passed a law Tuesday limiting the use of data collected for coronavirus contact-tracing after the government admitted it could be accessed by police, sparking privacy concerns.

The city-state last year rolled out a programme called “TraceTogether” for tracking close contacts of Covid-19 patients that works via both a phone app and dongle, but uptake was initially slow.

It rose to more than 80 percent of residents after government assurances the data would only be used to fight the virus and a decision to make it mandatory for accessing some public places.

But there was an outcry last month when officials admitted police could access information gathered in the scheme as part of investigations, and had already done so during a murder probe.

READ ALSO: Japan Says EU Export Curbs Delaying Its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved legislation limiting the cases in which police can get hold of the data.

It did not cut them off entirely but will give them access only during investigations into seven categories of serious offence, including possession of firearms, terrorism and rape.

Before the legislation was passed, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan acknowledged in parliament it was a mistake for the government not to have made it clear early on that police would have access.

“I take full responsibility for this mistake and I deeply regret the consternation, the anxiety that was caused by my mistake,” said Balakrishnan, who has overseen the scheme.

The government’s admission that police could access the data sparked a furious backlash, with many in the tightly regulated city saying they felt betrayed and activists accusing authorities of undermining the right to privacy.

Singapore has only suffered a mild outbreak, with nearly 60,000 cases and 29 deaths.

Many countries have rolled out contact-tracing programmes that work via smartphone apps, but uptake has been low in some due largely to privacy concerns.

Singapore Begins COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

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 began a coronavirus vaccination campaign Wednesday with a nurse receiving the first jab, making it among the first Asian nations to roll out inoculations.

The city-state, which has suffered a mild outbreak, became the first country in Asia to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this month, and its programme kicked off with healthcare workers.

Nurse Sarah Lim, 46, whose work includes screening suspected Covid-19 patients, was the first to be immunised, the health ministry said.

“I feel grateful and thankful for being the first to be vaccinated,” the nurse from the national centre for infectious diseases was cited as saying by the Straits Times newspaper.

More than 30 staff from the centre are receiving the first dose of the two-shot vaccine Wednesday, and will get the second next month.

After healthcare workers, the city-state will vaccinate the elderly, and then the rest of the population.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Five Things To Know About Landmark UK Vaccine

The government expects to have enough vaccines for all 5.7 million people in the city by the third quarter of 2021, with the voluntary vaccine free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents.

Other countries that have started immunisations include Britain, EU nations, and the United States, although most Asian nations are yet to begin.

In China, where the virus emerged, at least one million people have already received jabs after vaccine candidates were approved for emergency use, although they have so far been limited to priority groups such as state employees.

The inoculations are yet to receive official approval.

Vaccinations have been given in limited numbers in other parts of the region, including to members of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team, and to US troops stationed in South Korea.

Singapore has recorded about 58,000 infections, mostly among low-paid migrant workers living in crowded dormitories, and just 29 deaths.

Singapore Approves Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached, with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached, with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Singapore has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, and expects to receive the first shipments of the shots by the end of December, the prime minister said Monday.

The city-state joins a handful of other countries around the world, including Britain and the United States, which have approved the jab.

Singapore hopes to have enough vaccines for its 5.7 million population by the third quarter of 2021, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised address.

Priority will be given to those at most risk, such as health care workers, the elderly and vulnerable.

READ ALSO: SGF, Wife In Isolation As Household Members Test Positive For COVID-19

Vaccination would be voluntary, Lee said, but he was “strongly” encouraging people to get the shot.

“Because when you get yourself vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself. You are also doing your part to protect others, especially your loved ones,” he said.

Lee also announced a further easing of virus curbs from December 28 as Singapore’s outbreak slows markedly, with weeks of barely any local transmissions.

The maximum number of people who can gather outside their homes and the number of visitors a household can host will be raised from five to eight, he said.

The number of people allowed in shopping malls, places of worship and attractions such as museums will also be raised.

Singapore initially kept Covid-19 in check through rigorous contact tracing but the virus later swept through dormitories housing low-paid migrant workers, prompting authorities to implement a partial lockdown.

Many businesses and schools were allowed re-open in June but Monday’s announcement is the biggest easing of curbs for months.

But Lee warned the situation was volatile and urged residents to continue to keep their guard up.

“This is absolutely not the time to relax and let our guard down, or to hold a big party imagining the problem has disappeared,” he said.

Singapore has reported more than 58,000 cases and 29 deaths.

While the city-state’s borders remain closed to most international visitors, life has slowly been returning to normal for many.

Drug Trafficking: Singapore’s Appeal Court Frees Nigerian After Nine Years

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo

 

The Court of Appeal in Singapore has acquitted and discharged a Nigerian, Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi, on death row for drug trafficking, nearly a decade after he was arrested.

The country’s apex court, in a rare decision, reversed itself and found Ilechukwu not guilty, five years after the same court convicted him of the offence.

Ilechukwu faced a charge of trafficking almost 2kg (1,963.3g) of methamphetamine found in a black trolley bag he brought with him from Nigeria into Singapore on November 13, 2011.

The charge was punishable by death.

He had collected the luggage at the airport in Nigeria, found only clothes in it. The luggage passed several immigration checks in both countries without problems.

The Nigerian was said to have handed the bag to a Singaporean stall assistant named Hamidah Awang at a Clarke Quay bus stop.

Hamidah’s car was then searched at Woodlands Checkpoint in River Valley Road, Singapore and drugs were discovered in the luggage.

Ilechukwu was initially acquitted after a trial in the High Court in 2014 but the appellate court reversed that decision in 2015 and found him guilty of drug trafficking.

His lawyers — Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, Mr Suang Wijaya and Mr Johannes Hadi from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, as well as Ms Jerrie Tan from K&L Gates Straits Law — argued for the decision to be reviewed.

At the sentencing stage, they provided “material evidence” showing that Ilechukwu was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with dissociative symptoms.

The Court of Appeal then ordered a review of the case in light of the fresh evidence, given by the psychiatrist who was a prosecution witness.

At the review, the court upheld their submissions and found that Ilechukwu experienced PTSD symptoms while giving statements to authorities.

In a split decision on Thursday, four out of five justices on the case found that Ilechukwu did not know there were drugs in the bag, finding that he had been “deceived” unwittingly into transporting drugs.

The apex court quashed its own decision, setting the Nigerian free.

“The picture that emerges from the evidence is that he had grossly misjudged (his childhood friend and acquaintance), and naively believed that he was doing a simple favour in return for promised business contacts.

“Unwittingly, he had been deceived into transporting drugs on their behalf to (their) contact in Singapore,” the judges added.

Judge of Appeal, Tay Yong Kwang dissented, while Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Senior Judge Chao Hick Tin, and Judges of Appeal, Judith Prakash and Andrew Phang ruled in Ilechukwu’s favour.

In a statement, Ilechukwu’s lawyers said: “It has been a long and hard-fought pro bono case, involving specialist psychiatric evidence and issues of cross-cultural sensitivities…

“Had it not been for the fortuitous production of the IMH report, our client would have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment. We are delighted that justice has prevailed to acquit our client this morning.”

Ilechukwu’s acquittal makes it the second time in the last two years that a Nigerian citizen has defeated a capital drugs-related offence in Singapore.

In May 2019, Adili Chibuike Ejike, who had been sentenced to hanging for importing almost 2kg of methamphetamine, was cleared by the Court of Appeal.

Adili had similarly been arrested in 2011 in a related case.

Virus-Hit Singapore Plunges Into Recession As Economy Shrinks 41%

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 18, 2020, a couple wearing face masks walk past a fashion retail outlet along the Orchard shopping belt in Singapore,  a day ahead of further easing of restrictions in Singapore due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. - Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed on July 14. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 18, 2020, a couple wearing face masks walk past a fashion retail outlet along the Orchard shopping belt in Singapore, a day ahead of further easing of restrictions in Singapore due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

 

 

Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed Tuesday.

Year-on-year, the economy shrank 12.6 percent between April and June, according to the data from the trade ministry, as strict curbs were imposed to fight the virus.

It marks the second consecutive quarter of contraction, meaning that the city state — which has one of the world’s most open economies — has entered a recession for the first time in more than a decade.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 10, 2020, health workers takes nasal swab test samples from essential workers to detect the COVID-19 novel coronavirus before the workers return to work in Singapore. - Singapore plunged into recession in the second quarter as growth fell 41.2 percent quarter-on-quarter with the trade-dependent economy hammered by the coronavirus, preliminary data showed on July 14. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 10, 2020, health workers takes nasal swab test samples from essential workers to detect the COVID-19 novel coronavirus before the workers return to work in Singapore. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

The massive second-quarter drop in GDP was due to “measures that were implemented from 7 April to 1 June to slow the spread of COVID-19, which included the suspension of non-essential services and closure of most workplace premises,” the ministry said in a statement.

It also attributed to the contraction to “weak external demand amidst a global economic downturn”.

Tiny Singapore, viewed as a barometer for the health of global trade, is highly sensitive to external shocks, and the gloomy figures are another ominous sign for the global economy.

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