- Stricter rules for moneylenders
- Park: It’s ‘tantamount to murder’
- Abe sends shrine a gift instead of paying a visit
Posted: 21 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT
LICENSED moneylenders face the prospects of tighter lending rules from late next year.
The authorities are looking to set up a Moneylenders Credit Bureau by then, which moneylenders must use to run compulsory credit checks on potential borrowers.
Lending caps will kick in a year later. This means the total amount a person can borrow will be fixed, regardless of how many moneylenders he borrows from.
It is understood that these details were disclosed by the Law Ministry when it sought views from interested parties on the credit bureau last week.
But the ministry declined to give further details.
A ministry spokesman said: "We are currently reviewing the moneylending regulatory regime and we will share more information when ready."
The setting up of the bureau was first announced by Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah in Parliament last month, when the ministry's annual budget was debated.
Besides using the bureau to curb lending, the authorities are likely to use the data collected to track industry trends and improve controls over the sector, said a source, adding that no taxpayer money will be involved in setting up and running the bureau.
The ministry is understood to have made clear to prospective operators that they would bear the full cost of setting up and running the bureau, by charging moneylenders and borrowers.
Although licensed moneylenders give out less than 1% of consumer loans, the sector has come under recent fire for high interest rates and service fees.
Several MPs such as David Ong, Lim Biow Chuan and Zainal Sapari have called for tighter controls on these moneylenders in the past months, noting late payment interests amounted to a whopping 40% per week.
The ministry said it has stopped issuing new licences for moneylenders since 2012 and safeguards like interest rate caps exist for borrowers earning less than S$30,000 (RM780,000) a year.
There were 209 licensed moneylenders as at 2012.
David Poh, president of the Moneylenders' Association of Singapore which has more than 150 members, said compulsory credit checks will not pose problems for the industry.
"Some of us are already doing it," he said. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Posted: 21 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT
JINDO: The captain and crew of a South Korean ferry that capsized with hundreds of children on board acted in a way "tantamount to murder", says President Park Geun-hye, as four more crew members are arrested and the death toll rises to 80.
Park's denunciation, in which she vowed to hold all those responsible for the disaster "criminally accountable", followed the release of a transcript showing the panic and indecision that paralysed decision-making on the bridge as the ship listed and sank on Wednesday morning.
The confirmed death toll jumped to 80 as divers stepped up the recovery of bodies from inside the 6,825-tonne Sewol, but 222 people remained unaccounted for.
"The actions of the captain and some crew members were utterly incomprehensible, unacceptable and tantamount to murder," Park said in a meeting with senior aides yesterday.
"Not only my heart, but the hearts of all South Koreans have been broken and filled with shock and anger," said Park, who was heckled on Thursday when she met relatives of the hundreds of passengers still missing – most of them schoolchildren.
The families have criticised the official response to the disaster, saying the initial rescue effort was inadequate and mismanaged.
The president said it was increasingly clear that Captain Lee Joon-seok had unnecessarily delayed the evacuation of passengers as the ferry started sinking, and then "deserted them" by escaping with most of his crew members.
"This is utterly unimaginable, legally and ethically," she said.
Lee was arrested on Saturday along with a helmsman and the ship's relatively inexperienced third officer, who was in charge of the bridge when the ship first ran into trouble.
Three more officers and an engineer were detained by police yesterday and prosecutors said they could face similar charges of criminal negligence and deserting passengers.
A transcript of the final radio communications between the Sewol and marine traffic control suggested a scene of total confusion as the vessel listed sharply to one side.
In the end, the evacuation order was only given around 40 minutes after the ship ran into trouble, by which time it was listing so heavily that escape was almost impossible.
"Precious minutes just wasted," was the front page verdict of the Dong-A Ilbo daily yesterday.
Realistic hopes of finding survivors have disappeared, but families of the missing still oppose the use of heavy cranes to lift the ship before divers have searched every section.
Of the 476 people on board the Sewol, 352 were students from the Danwon High School in Ansan city just south of Seoul, who were on an organised trip to the holiday island of Jeju. — AFP
Posted: 21 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT
TOKYO: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a gift to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, sparking a Chinese charge that he was offering "a slap in the face" to US President Barack Obama days ahead of his visit.
The unapologetically nationalist Abe donated a sacred masakaki tree to coincide with the start of a three-day festival, a shrine official said.
The sending of a gift has been seen as a sign that Abe does not intend to go to the shrine – as he did on Dec 26, sparking fury in Asia and earning him a diplomatic slap on the wrist from the United States.
Yasukuni Shrine honours Japan's war dead, including some senior military and political figures convicted of serious crimes in the wake of the country's World War II defeat.
That, and the accompanying museum –which paints Japan as a frustrated liberator of Asia and victim of World War II – makes it controversial, especially in China and South Korea, where it is seen as a symbol of Japan's lack of penitence.
Abe and other nationalists say the shrine is merely a place to remember fallen soldiers. They compare it with Arlington National Cemetery in the United States.
Masaru Ikei, an expert on Japanese diplomacy and professor emeritus at Keio University, said that with Obama due to arrive on tomorrow for a state visit, Abe was always likely to stay away from the shrine.
"The prime minister does not want to worsen ties with China and South Korea before President Obama's visit, but he does want to maintain his creed that he should pray for the war dead," he said.
Ikei said Washington's public and slightly unexpected rebuke after his last visit meant Abe "will not be able to visit the shrine again for a while".
Japan's chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga yesterday sought to play down Abe's shrine gift, saying the government does not comment as the offering was "made in his capacity as a private person".
Asked about possible ramifications on the upcoming meeting between Abe and Obama, Suga said: "It won't affect the summit at all."
But Beijing offered a markedly different interpretation, lambasting the offering as "yet another provocative move detrimental to regional stability".
Coming just ahead of Obama's visit, "Abe's donation is nothing short of a slap in the face of the leader of Japan's closest ally," China's official news agency Xinhua said in a commentary. — AFP
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