- Beefing up security at Woodlands, Tuas checkpoints
- Many in Geylang speak of undercurrent of fear
- Japanese brace for sales tax hike
Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT
THE police want to beef up security at both of Singapore's land checkpoints with a new perimeter detection system.
Vendors were invited from March 13 to submit proposals for a Perimeter Intrusion Detection System for the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints. The system will provide an additional layer of security to existing fencing at the checkpoints.
It must be able to immediately detect and locate any physical intrusion at the checkpoint fences, whether by someone attempting to scale or cut the fence. It should also be able to detect when and where sensors or electronic parts are being tampered with.
A police spokesman said the new system would improve checkpoint security by pinpointing the location of any attempted intrusion, thus allowing security forces to respond "in a timely manner".
He added that the idea for such an intrusion detection system came from a review in 2012.
The Woodlands checkpoint suffered two recent security breaches, which prompted calls for stronger security measures. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT
AT dusk, like clockwork, streetwalkers in skimpy outfits emerge from alleyways. They flirt with men, both foreign and local. Off-corner massage parlours and hotels with hourly rates do a roaring trade.
Nearby, peddlers sell sex drugs with names such as Super Magic and Tiger's Prestigious Life.
This is Geylang, Singapore's notorious red-light district and another foreign worker hot spot now in the spotlight after police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said last week that the area was a bigger concern than Little India, where last December's riot took place.
"If Singaporeans are irked by the littering, the noise and the jaywalking in Little India, they'll certainly sense that there exists a hint of lawlessness in Geylang," he told the Committee of Inquiry into the riot.
Last year, Special Operations Command forces were deployed to Geylang on 41 occasions, compared with 16 in Little India.
Hooligans, Ng said, are not afraid of standing in the way of police work. He recalled how an officer was once beaten up when he tried to detain an illegal gambling stall operator.
Residents say some shops in Geylang are just fronts for criminal activities. Yet Geylang is also home to many migrant workers.
Electrician Chai Zhi Yuan, 41, from Jiangsu, China, admits it could get "chaotic" at night and on weekends.
Bangladeshi construction worker Tarikul Islam, 20, prefers to stay in at night.
"When I go out to buy food at night, the police often stop me and ask for my permit," said Tarikul.
"Maybe I am somewhere, not doing anything bad or causing trouble, but because they see me there, they think I'm also trouble."
Although MPs, grassroots activists and most residents are calling for Geylang to be cleaned up, the businesses have a different perspective.
One provision shop owner said: "I really think no shop in Geylang will tell you, I want all this crime to stop. All these activities attract people, attract money."
Added a liquor wholesaler: "Yes, police patrols will be good to bolster security, but it won't do us any good if the vice is completely stamped out either." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Posted: 30 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT
TOKYO: Japan is bracing for its first sales tax rise in years, with last minute shoppers buying up a host of goods from gold to ice cream, as the government tries to tackle its crushing national debt.
Millions of shoppers are making a mad dash to stores ahead of tomorrow's tax rise to 8% from the current 5% amid fears the increase could spark the return of a protracted economic slump.
The last time Japan brought in a higher levy in 1997, it was followed by years of deflation and tepid economic growth.
On Friday, fresh data showed Japanese consumer prices rose again in February, suggesting Tokyo's efforts to slay 15 years of deflation was gathering steam.
But the increase was largely driven by rising post-Fukushima energy import costs, rather prices going up on the back of strong, across-the-board consumer demand – dubbed "good" inflation by some economists.
A key worry is that Japan's last tax rise deterred consumers and foreshadowed the drop into a cycle of falling prices – although other factors, including the Asian financial crisis, were also blamed.
The slowdown saw Japan's powerhouse economy descend into a protracted slump.
Opinion is mixed over whether history will repeat itself.
Tokyo's special budget to counter a tax-linked slowdown and the Bank of Japan's unprecedented monetary easing were likely to offset a drop in spending, according to some analysts.
"Daily necessities may not be affected very much by the tax hike, but demand for cars, furniture and houses is likely to drop temporarily," said Kenji Yumoto, vice-chairman of the Japan Research Institute.
"We'll see whether the inflation is good or bad only after we see the impact of the tax hike. If demand later recovers, that could lead to good inflation."
Few shoppers seemed inclined to wait for prices to go up in a country where consumers have become used to paying pretty much the same, year after year, for their televisions, beer and sushi.
Falling or static prices may sound great for household budgets, but Japanese wages have barely moved over the years and the cycle has meant shoppers tended to hold off buying in the hope of getting goods cheaper down the road.
That, in turn, hurt producers and slowed economic growth.
The tax rise – a seemingly modest increase compared with many countries' consumption levies – has ushered in some less-than-typical shopping habits.
Staff at jewellery chain Tanaka Kikinzoku watched wide-eyed as gold sales surged five-fold this month from a year ago with customers converging on a shop in Tokyo's glitzy Ginza district so they could buy 500g bars for 2.3 million yen (RM73,379) apiece.
"We've seen unusual demand for gold," Tomoko Ishibashi, a spokeswoman for parent company Tanaka Holdings, said.
With prices on the rise across the nation of 128 million, some gold-hungry customers may be betting on the perceived safety of the yellow metal, she said. — AFP
|You are subscribed to email updates from Regional Feed |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|