- Taiwan shows off its first submarine hunter aircraft
- Lee: S’pore remains a ‘sampan’
- New Paper editor takes the stand in match-fixing trial
PINGTUNG (Taiwan): Taiwan displayed its first long-range submarine-hunting aircraft, days after Beijing showed off its nuclear-powered submarine fleet in yet another sign of China's fast expanding military might.
Taiwan's military introduced the Lockheed P-3C Orion at a ceremony presided over by President Ma Ying-jeou at an airbase in the southern county of Pingtung.
"As the president of the country, I'm proud that the aircraft is joining the force," Ma said.
The aircraft was delivered late last month.
The air force will receive three more by year-end and eight others by 2015, the military said.
Ma said the fleet of 12 P-3C Taiwan ordered from the United States "is the most advanced among the hundreds that are serving many countries in the world".
"I believe that after the aircraft joins the air force, we will see our underwater anti-submarine, ship-to-ship and air attack capabilities greatly enhanced."
Experts say the refurbished P-3C, which can stay in the air for up to 17 hours and is armed with Harpoon missiles and MK46 torpedoes, will expand the surveillance range of Taiwan's current anti-submarine fleet tenfold.
The P-3C fleet, which will cost around US$1.96bil (RM6.17bil), will supersede the ageing S-2T anti-submarine aircraft.
Yesterday's high-profile ceremony came after several state-run papers in China ran front-page stories on the four-decade-old submarine fleet, in an overt declaration of China's high-seas strength.
"China is powerful in possessing a credible second-strike nuclear capability," the Global Times said in an editorial on Tuesday, adding: "Some countries haven't taken this into serious consideration when constituting their China policy, leading to a frivolous attitude toward China in public opinion."
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since Ma of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became Taiwan's president in 2008. He was re-elected in January 2012.
However, Beijing still regards the island as part of its territory and has refused to rule out the use of force against Taiwan. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.
That prompted Taiwan to keep modernising its armed forces despite the fast-warming relations.
"Although ties with the Chinese mainland have improved significantly in the last five years, they have not changed their military deployments targeting Taiwan. We must not relax our military preparations," Ma said, adding that Taiwan aims to build a leaner but stronger deterrent.
Taiwanese experts estimate the People's Liberation Army has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island. — AFP
SINGAPORE will be in trouble if it thinks it has arrived and can afford to relax, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated.
The country is small, and while it is no longer as poor and defenceless as it used to be, it must continue to be on its toes and work hard to improve.
Speaking to the at the end of his official visit to France yesterday, he said "my eyes popped out" when he read a commentary in The Straits Times likening Singapore today to a cruise ship.
Commentator Koh Buck Song had argued in Monday's Opinion pages that Singapore politicians' oft-used metaphor of the country as a sampan, easily tossed about by the waves of global competition, was no longer valid.
He said it risked promoting small-mindedness and cramping national self-confidence and ambition.
Instead, Koh said, Singapore was more like a well-oiled cruise ship that caters to every need.
As it offers the smoothest of journeys, passengers can relax because they feel secure, he added.
Lee, however, warned: "Once you think you are in a cruise ship and you are on a holiday and everything must go swimmingly well and will be attended to for you, I think you are in trouble.
"We are small, we are not as poor as we used to be, we are not defenceless, we are able to fend for ourselves and to make a living for ourselves, and we are better off than before, and I think that we need to keep on working hard, to continue improving."
As to what might be a more appropriate metaphor, he said with a laugh: "I think we have upgraded our sampan. It's sampan 2.0."
He made these remarks when asked about the meetings he had held with French business leaders since he arrived on Sunday.
The businessmen were keen to find out more about Singapore's long-term strategy for economic development, and asked about the tightening of foreign talent and workers in recent years.
Lee reiterated that Singapore had to find a balance when it comes to foreigners.
He said the number of foreign workers was "still a little higher than what we would like", but that was dependent on the state of the economy.
He also reiterated the need for society to integrate such that foreigners adapt to Singapore norms, and Singaporeans are open to them "in order to help ourselves prosper".
"This is going to be work in progress for some time to come but we have to persevere."
Lee left Paris for Warsaw, Poland, yesterday. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
The trial against alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang resumed with The New Paper editor Dominic Nathan taking the stand.
Nathan yesterday flatly denied defence counsel Hamidul Haq's claim during the first tranche of the trial in July that Ding "does investigative journalism to gather information for his colleagues in the newspaper to develop stories".
Ding was never asked to work on match-fixing stories, said Nathan, although he was asked if he knew anything about personalities in match-fixing syndicates after reports broke about Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal's arrest in Finland in 2011.
The 31-year-old businessman is accused of bribing three Fifa-accredited Lebanese officials – referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, and linesmen Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37 – with prostitutes to induce them into fixing a match.
The court heard that The New Paper had engaged Ding as a freelance writer from March 2006 until May 2012, during which he published a weekly column titled From The Ground and was on a panel of tipsters.
Known as the Lobang King, Ding was supposed to be the tipster who gave the feel of punters on the ground, of "somebody in the coffee shop, keeping tabs on what the common guy or the average Joe was talking about", said Nathan. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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