This week, The Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced a 2 percent increase in the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) quota for the February to April 2024 quarter. This follows a significant slowdown from the 27 per cent surge observed in the previous November 2023 to January 2024 quarter.

In another development, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) unveiled plans for the expansion of the Woodlands Checkpoint. The project, set to commence in 2025, will see the checkpoint’s size multiplied by five.

The initial phase, focusing on extensions at the Old Woodlands Town Centre and Bukit Timah Expressway, is slated for progressive completion starting from 2028. The expansion project is expected to span over 10 to 15 years.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) made headlines with the dismissal of national football head coach Takayuki Nishigaya from his position following a series of disappointing results.

This decision has sparked discussions within the online community regarding the need for broader accountability and reform within the FAS team management.

The Lions previously occupied the bottom spot in their World Cup qualifying group after losing to Thailand and South Korea.

Former sports journalist Jose Raymond emphasized that Mr Nishigaya was appointed as the Lions’ head coach by FAS, despite lacking any prior international experience.

He asserted that blame for the failure should not be placed on Nishigaya but rather on the individuals responsible for his appointment within the FAS.

On 1 February, FAS announced the appointment of Tsutomu Ogura as the new Director for both Singapore’s senior and Under-22 men’s teams.

Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC, critiques the constitutional changes proposed in the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment No.3) Bill, voicing concerns regarding backdating laws.

He argues that when it comes to laws involving backdating, a more rigorous evaluation should be applied, expressing his view that constitutional changes permitting the president and ministers to privately assume roles in international institutions fall short of meeting this elevated standard.

Singaporean human rights lawyer Ravi Madasamy expressed disappointment with the Ministry of Law of Singapore over the terms under which he was honored with the International Bar Association (IBA) 2023 Human Rights Award.

Additionally, he criticized the Singapore High Court’s decision to deny representation by foreign counsels for four death row inmates.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), has not ruled out the possibility of contesting in the upcoming General Election (GE), amidst growing speculation.

Netizens are rallying behind the sentiment expressed by a National University of Singapore (NUS) business professor and payments expert, emphasizing that ‘systems should serve people – not the other way around.’

This response came after LTA’s announcement of the reversal of its decision to phase out adult EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards in favor of the SimplyGo platform for public transport.

Moreover, an attempt by Associate Professor Walter Theseira, head of the urban transportation program at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), to elucidate the reasons behind the discontent with SimplyGo sparked outrage among netizens, who perceived it as ‘condescending.’

In the 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), using a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) to rate perceived levels of corruption sees Singapore scoring 83, ranking 5th, while Denmark tops the rank with a score of 90.

The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) reported significant investment commitments in its year review, with S$12.7 billion in Fixed Asset Investment (FAI) and S$8.9 billion in Total Business Expenditure (TBE) per annum.

These figures are expected to create approximately 20,045 jobs and contribute S$26.7 billion in Value-Added per annum (VA) to the economy.

A report from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for the Labour Market Advance Release Fourth Quarter 2023 shows the number of retrenchments in Singapore rising to 14,320, up from 6,440 in the preceding year.

Meanwhile, in the annual Labour Force report, MOM reported a 2.2% drop in the real median income of Singapore, driven by a slowdown in nominal income growth.

This week, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad revealed that Singapore’s workplace fatality rate fell below 1 per 100,000 workers in 2023, marking the first time it dropped below that threshold since 2020.

The workplace fatality rate in 2022 reached 1.3 per 100,000 workers, the highest since 2015 and 2016. In 2016, there was also a record high workplace death, with 66 fatalities.

He disclosed these statistics during a speech at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) U Safe Forum and Awards 2024.

To combat this concerning trend, MOM implemented a heightened safety period from September 2022 to May 2023.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCPA) in Singapore has reported a 79% increase in cases of animal cruelty and welfare concerns in 2023 compared to the previous year, marking the highest number of reports received in over a decade.

According to its Animal Cruelty and Welfare Report 2023, the SPCA revealed that reported cases soared from 511 in 2022 to 915 in 2023.

Among these, 285 were instances of abandoned animals, and 30 cases involved hoarding, encompassing a total of 480 animals.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board reveal S$13.3M lost to scams in December 2023.

Among these incidents, there were three cases involving about S$488,000 in CPF withdrawals that were made from November to December 2023. Fraudsters posed as officials, tricking victims into divulging info or transferring funds

In an effort to curb gambling-like behavior, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs has announced that the value of prizes obtainable through games at amusement centers and fun fairs will be restricted to a maximum of S$100 starting from 1 March.

Additionally, two additional rules will be enforced simultaneously: amusement centers and fun fair operators are barred from providing cash, cash equivalents, credit, merchant vouchers, or coupons as prizes.

Furthermore, returning prizes to operators for resale will be forbidden.

Community

Dugong Pilipino SG, a migrant worker group in Singapore, successfully organized a blood donation event at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) Outram Park Blood Bank.

The group hosted the event voluntarily to help address the critical shortage of Group O blood in Singapore.

Love Aid Singapore, led by Gilbert Goh, recently sent two trucks to Rafah, reaching Palestinians in Gaza on 31 January. The first truck arrived in Rafah on Sunday (28 Jan), followed by the second truck on Monday (29 Jan).

As of 1 February, Goh noted that over 100,000 Palestinians are stranded, and Love Aid Singapore’s food kitchen is believed to be the only one currently operating since many others closed down when the war started four months ago. Additionally, Love Aid Singapore operates another food kitchen in Rafah, benefiting 1000 Palestinians.

To continue providing daily meals for the hungry Palestinians affected by the ongoing war in Gaza, Love Aid Singapore has donated US$40,000 for the two kitchens.

Goh emphasized the organization’s commitment to keeping the kitchens running for as long as possible, planning to allocate funds collected specifically for this feeding initiative.

International

Funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), vital for Gaza’s population, has been critically paused following allegations of staff involvement in the Hamas-led attacks.

This has heightened concerns about worsening the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In France, protesters in Paris targeted the iconic “Mona Lisa” painting, throwing soup at it in an act of vandalism to highlight food insecurity in the nation.

Norway’s mammoth sovereign wealth fund, the Government Pension Fund Global, reported a historic profit of 2.22 trillion kroner (approximately S$213 billion) for the year 2023.

This marks the fund’s highest-ever return in its native currency. The achievement is particularly noteworthy as it follows a substantial loss of 1.64 trillion kroner in 2022.

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