Starting off with some positive news, China and Singapore recently announced a mutual 30-day visa-free for travel, effective from 9 February.

This arrangement comes just in time for the Chinese New Year holidays, facilitating seamless travel between the two nations. It’s a fantastic opportunity for cultural exchange and exploration.

However, keep in mind that staying exceeding 30 days will necessitate a visa.

In another exciting development for the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities, Marina Baywaterfront will be illuminated with the ‘Legend Of The Dragon Gate’ drone show.

Running from 6 to 18 February, this show features a display of 1,500-drone dragon, highlighting the value of family, perseverance, and prosperity.

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Total Defence in 2024, Singapore will conduct its first islandwide Total Defence exercise to enhance its citizens’ readiness to handle crises and disruption from 15 to 29 February.

In tech news, there’s been a significant development at Vizzio Technologies as AI scientist Lee Kai-Fu steps down from the board following revelations about the founder’s credentials.

After public backlash, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat apologized this week for delays commuters faced in converting their EZ-link cards, and announced the cancellation of the original plan to transition to SimplyGo.

As of now, holders of older EZ-Link cards not on SimplyGo will no longer be required to update their cards by 1 June for public transport payments.

Nets FlashPay cards will also continue to be accepted for adult fare payments, with no need to exchange them for a Nets Prepaid card by 1 June.

Minister Chee also announced an additional investment of S$40 million meant for hardware replacement and system maintenance to enable commuters to continue using EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay cards.

Following LTA’s U-turn on SimplyGo transition and Minister Chee’s apology, Leong Mun Wai, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), has commended him for addressing the shortcomings.

The online community is now urging PSP NCMPs to seek justification from the Minister for the additional S$40 million investment, while also defending the use of old payment system.

Additionally, Mr Leong revealed this week that he and Hazel Poa, both NCMPs from PSP, had filed a motion to question the Government’s budget and reserve accumulation policies.

The motion will be debated at the next parliamentary sitting on 5 February.

Nevertheless, not all are on board with the decision of LTA shelving the SimplyGo plan.

Calvin Cheng, a businessman and former Nominated Member of Parliament, argued that the decision to retain the old system was made to appease those who still prefer it, suggesting that the public advocating for the old system should bear the cost of maintaining it instead.

On another note, data released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) indicates that Singapore’s core inflation increased to 3.3% in December 2023, slightly up from November’s 3.2%.

This rise was primarily fueled by an uptick in services inflation.

Community

Gilbert Goh, the founder of Love Aid Singapore and a prominent activist in Singapore, reported that they have successfully collected S$300,000 in donations during the third week of their Gaza Aid humanitarian work, with S$130,000 already utilized.

A Singaporean couple, whose newborn baby suffers from a congenital heart defect known as pulmonary atresia had also recently succeeded in raising S$70,000 to cover their newborn baby’s medical procedures.

On 25 January, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced that Singapore is facing a critical shortage of Group O blood stocks, with the country’s reserves dipping below a six-day supply.

International

A Japanese court has delivered a landmark verdict in the tragic Kyoto Animation Studio arson case, sentencing 45-year-old Shinji Aoba to death for an attack in 2019 that claimed 36 lives and injured dozens.

Previously, Aoba, who admitted to the crime, had his defense seek a more lenient sentence, arguing mental incompetence.

However, the court dismissed this argument, finding Aoba fully aware and responsible for his actions.

 

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