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Singapore’s ruling party contends with new voting majority

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Singapore’s ruling party contends with new voting majority | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Singapore’s ruling party contends with new voting majority
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: When Singapore celebrates its
50th year of independence on Aug. 9 and its older citizens eulogise the country’s economic feats, its ruling party founded by the late Lee Kuan Yew faces an unprecedented wave of young voters who may not be as nostalgic.

For the first time, citizens born after the country’s independence in 1965 will likely account for the majority of voters in a general election due to take place by January 2017.As of 2014, almost 54 percent of citizens above 20 were born in 1965 and later, compared with 46 percent born after independence in 2010. Singapore’s voting age is 21.

Voters born after 1965 grew up in an era of economic ascendancy as Singapore’s pioneer leaders turned the former British colony into a First World business hub. While they acknowledge the economic miracle engineered by the People’s Action Party (PAP), they are unhappy about the rising cost of living and an influx of foreign workers, particularly from China. Those issues took centre stage in the last poll in 2011. The PAP won its smallest ever share of votes since 1959, when it became the ruling party of a semi-independent Singapore. (Britain still had sway over external matters.)

Young Singaporeans are generally happy with the PAP-led government, but are less satisfied than older Singaporeans with public transport, population management and civil liberties, according to a survey in June by Singapore-based Blackbox Research. “To be fair, since the last GE (general election), the
PAP has done very well,” said 38-year-old Chung, who declined to disclose his full name. Nonetheless, he would not vote for the PAP and would like to see a greater presence in parliament of opposition lawmakers, who currently have just 10 percent of seats.

Local political commentator Catherine Lim told Reuters that younger people do not have the same sense of gratitude towards the government, which is a very powerful force with older people. That sentiment will be tested in an election without PAP founder and Singapore’s first prime minister Lee, who died in March. Philip Teo, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, said he will most likely vote for the PAP, but is concerned about the prospect of the government bowing to short-term populist demands. “Now that Mr Lee Kuan Yew is gone, I’m especially worried about the current government losing the political will to do what is the right thing to do for the long term, and give in to people’s short-term gratification,” Teo said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Crime

Thai women in Japan drug bust

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai women in Japan drug bust | The Thaiger

Japanese Police and Customs Officials at Fukuoka Airport reported the arrest of seven Thai women who smuggled in drugs weighing more than a kilogram into Japan. The women separated the drugs into tiny bags and hid them in random places on their bodies.

The women purchased tour tickets and tried to blend in as Thai tourists. When caught with the evidence, they admitted smuggling the drugs for foreigners living in Japan, alleging that they received orders from tourists to bring in the drugs.

Another recent arrest Thai women smuggling cocaine has prompted Japanese officials to consider tightening entry requirements for Thai tourists to protect against drug smuggling.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

The Thaiger

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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