Over a cup of tea

The two-week long celebrations of Chinese new year of the horse started on Friday, with the second new moon of 2014. Originated during the Han dynasty era (206-220BC), the Chinese zodiac – or lunar calender system – names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. 

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Over a cup of tea

A way to look at what Singapore has achieved in the last five decades or so is to celebrate the collective conscious of that “being” called the “Singapore worker”. Granted that there were leaders who showed the way but a nation, especially a new one, couldn't have progressed unless each and everyone had faith in those dreams and worked hard towards achieving it. We dedicate this issue to that “being”, who made today's Singapore possible. 

And if you can do it once, you can do it again. Thus, the government focussing on a “Singaporean core” to restructure the economy is a good thing and augurs well for the country's future. But till such time this restructuring is complete, stagnant or declining real wages and negative labour productivity growth remain a concern. The situation is all the more precarious for cleaners, who contrary to popular perception are mostly locals.  

Another concern for Singaporeans in recent times has been the discrimination they face from employers who sometimes prefer to hire overseas workers. How far the newly introduced Fair Consideration Framework will go in allaying such concerns can only be known after the framework is implemented in a year's time. 

We also analyse the recently published report by the Institute of Policy Studies on strengthening the National Service in our section, Majullah Singapura! 

A special two-part feature detailing the lessor-known history of the role played by the Indian National Army during the Japanese occupation of Malaya in 1940s winds up the issue. 

Finally, a word about our website. We have introduced a new web-only section, diary, on newzzit.com

Our e-newspaper comes out every fortnight and a lot of relevant events happen between each issue, which we feel must reach our readers. Additionally, while doing field reporting, we observe lots of stuff that doesn't necessarily translate into a Newzzit story but is an interesting read nevertheless. In a nutshell, this section is Newzzit's reporter diary. 

Do have a look. 

- Gaurav

Over a cup of tea

TWO significant events happened in Singapore during the last fortnight.

The lady, to use a celluloid name given to Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, visited the city-state, and Lee Kuan Yew, father of modern Singapore, celebrated his 90th birthday. We draw a parallel in these two extra-ordinary lives in our section, The Fourth Estate.

Then, we take a hard look at the (in)existence of poverty in Singapore. Since poverty is an abstract and a very relative concept, it will take some time before this debate is settled for once.

As the underlining theme of this issue is economy, we take a look at two of the most important drivers of the country's economy in Kaleidoscope section – banking and tourism.

While there is no doubt that the local banks in the city-state has consistently been ranked among the strongest in the world, how well they cope as the government tightens its grip on them to curb cross-border tax-crimes will be interesting.

Another issue that has caused some concerns recently is the rising debts, both household and public. While the government's house seems to be in perfect order [a testimony to it getting the highest short and long-term credit ratings from international agencies], worrying signs have indeed emerged in terms of household debts.

We wind up the issue with an overall analysis of a report by the Monetary Authority of Singapore on recent economic developments. With US showing some signs of recovery, the government has raised its yearly growth forecast to 2.5-3.5%, which augurs well for the country's future.

Before I end, a special mention of our story marking the opening of Dolphins Island in Sentosa. If you're planning to visit it soon, just remember that those creatures have been designated as “non-human persons” by India recently.

May be its time for us to revisit our definition of entertainment!


Over a cup of tea

Singapore has a history of racial violence. But as noted in one of Newzzit's earlier stories, it is commendable that its first-generation leaders recognised that a racially harmonious Singapore, where everyone respects each-others belief and faith, was the way forward. Indeed, the city-state has left those horrible times of the 1960s far far behind.

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