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President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meeting will take place at the five-star Capella Hotel on the Singaporean island of Sentosa, the White House has confirmed.

The June 12 summit was called off two weeks ago by President Trump but has since been salvaged after a flurry of contacts between the two sides.

On June 5, President Trump said that plans were “moving along very nicely”.

The US wants Kim Jong-un to commit to giving up his nuclear weapons.

However, it is unclear exactly what is on the table for the discussions in Singapore. President Trump has suggested the first meeting will kick off a longer process of negotiations, calling it a “get-to-know-you situation”.

He told reporters: “A lot of relationships being built, a lot of negotiations going on before the trip.

“It’s very important – it’ll be a very important couple of days.”

The summit would represent the first ever meeting between a US sitting president and a North Korean leader.

Photo AP

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed on Twitter that the summit would take place at the Capella Hotel.

However, it appears that the two leaders will stay elsewhere. President Trump will likely be at the Shangri-La Hotel, where US presidents have stayed before, while Kim Jong-un will probably stay at the St Regis Singapore, the Straits Times newspaper reports. The two hotels are on the main island, near the famous Orchard Road shopping strip.

Sentosa is one of 63 islands that make up Singapore.

The 500-hectare island, only a short distance from the main island, is home to luxury resorts, private marinas and plush golf clubs.

The island also has a dark history of piracy, bloodshed and war.

Singapore was established as a British trading post in the 19th Century. Its prime location on the major sea route between India and China made it an ideal choice.

Even before British rule, Singapore was a flourishing trade centre, frequented by merchants and traders, as well as pirates.

Sentosa was known at that time as Pulau Blakang Mati, which directly translates as the “island behind death” – a reference to its violent piracy reputation.

The island’s population was mostly Malay, Chinese and the Bugis – seafarers originally from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Singapore has decided to suspend all trade with North Korea, a customs notice showed, as the UN and US seek ever tougher measures against the state.

According to Singapore Customs, commercially traded goods from or to North Korea were banned from November 8. Offenders may be fined or jailed for up to two years.

The move comes as UN sanctions were imposed after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.

Singapore was North Korea’s eighth biggest trading partner in 2016, but that only made up 0.2% of the North’s trade.

Image source Flickr

China to Close Down North Korean Companies Operating In Its Territory

North Korea Warns that More Sanctions Will Accelerate Its Nuclear Program

North Korea Crisis: US Imposes Sanctions on Chinese and Russian Companies

The vast majority of North Korea’s trade is conducted with China, Pyongyang’s biggest economic supporter.

The latest round of UN sanctions targeted several companies and individuals, including two businesses in Singapore.

In January 2016, a Singapore company was fined $125,700 for facilitating a shipment of arms from Cuba to North Korea.  A court found the Chinpo Shipping Company was in breach of the UN sanctions on North Korea.

Tension in the Korean peninsula reached unprecedented levels earlier this year after North Korea’s repeated missile tests, including two long range missiles that flew over Japan, and its sixth and biggest nuclear test.

The US and the UN are hoping that sanctions will starve North Korea of the means to pursue its aggressive program of nuclear weapons development.

Singapore still retains diplomatic ties and North Korea maintains an embassy in its financial district.


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When people talk about expats, images of the retired often spring to mind. But there are plenty of reasons why people may move to another country at any point during your life. Embarking on a journey to another country can be extremely daunting, especially if you’re used to having lived in your country of birth for the majority of your life. You can move to almost anywhere you please and the place that you are used to or have been raised in may not be the location that your personality is best suited to. So, always bear in mind that the world is your oyster. There are 195 unique countries out there, each with their own pros and cons. But there are certain countries that retain popularity for expats year after year. Belgium, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong all prove amiable choices for various reasons. But for now, let’s focus on Singapore. After all, this area’s benefits are reflected in the soaring prices for expats. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest league tables, Singapore has retained its position as the most expensive city in the world for expatriates for the fourth year in a row. Here are a few reasons why this investment is entirely worth it!

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Singapore is densely populated, so most accommodation is relatively small and majoritively takes the form of high-rise apartments or condos. So, if you are looking for a large family home with a garden, the inner city probably isn’t the place for you. However, you will have more luck in the suburbs. If you’re happy living in a smaller space and frequenting the numerous green spaces that the city has to offer rather than confining yourself to a private backyard, then you could easily fit right into the inner city. There is plenty of housing available, as tower blocks and other highrise developments spring up around the entire city. If you want a privately owned property, you will be able to find one. These increasingly have access to pools, gyms and function rooms on site. Rent is typically high, as land is high demand, especially in the city centres or desirable neighbourhoods such as Orchard Road and Holland Village. However, you can lower the cost by making the most of an HDB (or government owned) property. For more information on hdb resale price, check out this page of Singapore property news.


High costs of living in this Singapore fall down to more than high demand on space alone. The island has surprisingly low crime rates, making it an extremely safe place to live. Though there aren’t all that many police officers and police cars about, you can feel comfortable walking the streets. In the whole of 2016, there were just over 30,000 crimes committed by a population of more than five million and the majority of crime in the area remain commercial offences over the internet. Already low crime rates concerning violent or serious property offences, housebreaking, theft, and unlicensed money lending harassment have decreased, and risks of terrorism are some of lowest in the world. One area of safety to watch out for is road safety, as pedestrians and cyclists do not have right of way on the roads. You should also use dedicated crossings to make your way from one side of the road to another. Bear in mind that cyclists may use the pavement and as pavements are often narrow (for the sake of sparing space), you should be extra wary when walking. However, Singapore are trialling new safety measures, such as flashing pavements at crossing spaces.

Health Care

Healthcare in Singapore is astounding. It ranks sixth in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of health care systems! It largely falls under the jurisdiction of Singapore Government’s Ministry of Health, which places strict rules on compulsory savings, subsidies and price controls in order to ensure that it is accessible and affordable. Sadly, there is no free healthcare system, so you will have to pay for treatment, however, this is mainly to reduce overuse of the healthcare system rather than being instated purely as a means of profit. If you have the means available to you, you can make use of the completely private sector in Singapore, which will reduce waiting times for surgery and other procedures dramatically. All in all, any healthcare experience that you may have in Singapore is more likely than not to be positive.


As aforementioned, you should be wary when cycling or walking in Singapore. However, the road networks and public transport systems are extremely well developed. Public transport is surprisingly cheap, and new links are being regularly built. Taking taxi cabs is also an affordable option. If you plan on driving, you are looking at spending more cash. There are heavy customs fees, high taxes and insurance generally cost a lot. To add to this, there are high parking fees and toll charges. However, with the brilliant public transport available, this isn’t absolutely necessary and could just be seen as an optional extra.


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Things to Do

There’s a multitude of things to do year round in Singapore, so whatever your tastes or interests, there will be something to please you. If you’re into art, the state has a national art week in January, consisting of over one hundred individual and distinct events including art fairs, gallery openings, art walks, and interactive exhibits. Specialist talks inform you of Singapore’s art history as well as the direction that local art is taking in the present day. Other cultural days out can see you immerse yourself in nature. Singapore’s Botanic Gardens are a UNESCO world heritage site and rightfully so: over 60,000 plant species make it a paradise for anyone in touch with nature and the natural world. The orchid gardens are beautiful beyond belief and there are rubber seedlings that have come on leaps and bounds since their transportation to Singapore from London’s Kew Gardens. Occasionally free concerts are held in the park too! If music is more your thing, you may want to check out ZoukOut, one of Asia’s largest music festivals. This expansive outdoor beach party draws DJs and music fans from around the world and is commonly referred to as Singapore’s biggest party. Techno, trance and hip-hop combine to put together one of the most exciting weekends you could wish to be a part of. For partygoers, the city’s nightlife is amongst the best. Zouk (the club which inspired the name of ZoukOut festival) is Singapore’s central nightclub and revellers can’t seem to get enough of it. If you prefer alternative sounds, head over to hipster bar Blu Jaz Cafe in the Kampong Glam Area. Upstairs you can find hip-hop, jungle and unique events. More casual drinkers who want a tasty beverage in a more laid back atmosphere have a whole host of options too. Bespoke cocktail bars are springing up around the city. Some require reservations, while others are more relaxed, allowing you to walk right in, so always call up before heading out to reduce chances of disappointment or being turned away.


There are numerous festivities throughout the year in Singapore. Chinese New Year is one of the biggest and falls early in the year, between January and February (as it runs on a lunar cycle). Many individuals celebrate by meeting up with family and friends for steamboat dinners and offering loved ones ang boa (red pockets containing money). There is also an annual celebration called River Hongboa, which is an exciting festival held on the floating platform at Marina Bay. The Chingay Parade, filled with stilt walkers and other costumed performers is also one to watch out for. Later in the year in September, the mid-Autumn festival sees people gather together to celebrate the harvest by carrying lanterns and eating traditional mooncakes. If you’re a big fan of Christmas, don’t fret. The event is just as big in Singapore as any other celebration. While there’s no chance of real snow and reindeers are highly unlikely, but you will definitely be able to get plenty of gingerbread, mulled wine and other festive treats at the city’s Christmas Wonderland. This beautiful array of over 20,000 lights is set up near the world renowned Garden by the Bay draws in around 1.6 million people visiting the event each and every year. An astounding ice palace is home to a rink and has a snow playground too! So the region’s warm and humid weather won’t stop you from getting your dose of frosty fun. These are just a few of the varied holidays and festivities. Singapore is extremely multicultural, so there are many more celebrations to be experienced!

As you can see, Singapore has so many benefits. It’s not surprising that so many people place it top of their list of places to live. Its rich culture, history and constantly expanding and improving structure see it becoming highly desirable. So if you’re considering a move, start looking sooner rather than later.


Red Bull empire heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya, who is wanted in Thailand over the death of a police officer, has fled to Singapore, Thai police say.

Thai authorities have said Vorayuth Yoovidhya left on April 25, days before an arrest warrant was issued for him after he failed to show up to face charges.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya allegedly knocked down the officer while speeding in 2012.

The high-profile case has attracted criticism that the elite enjoy special treatment from Thai authorities.

Singapore airport authorities had confirmed with them that Vorayuth Yoovidhya’s private plane was in the country as of April 25, the AP reports.

Singapore does not have an extradition agreement with Thailand, but the two countries frequently co-operate in transnational cases.

Image source EPA

Vorayuth Yoovidhya has repeatedly failed to meet Thai police to face charges of speeding, reckless driving causing death, and fleeing the scene of an accident. Some charges have since expired.

Red Bull heir’s representatives have said each time that he was either away for business or too ill to meet police.

Thai news outlets quoted police as saying that Vorayuth Yoovidhya traveled to Singapore on April 25, and that they were unable to stop him as this was before the warrant was issued on April 28.

A police spokesman also told The Nation newspaper that they did not put in place a travel ban as the case was about recklessness rather than one of criminal intent.

Thai investigators are now seeking to cancel Vorayuth Yoovidhya’s passport.


A recent study by expat company, InterNations, reveals that Singapore is the best place to move abroad. According to metrics including quality of life, security, and healthcare, the country comes out on top. Ecuador and Austria took second and third place, respectively. Interestingly, many South American countries ranked highest for happiness. There must be something in the water there! Back in Singapore, it’s clear that the modern mix of business, social life, and public services puts it on top. We decided to take a look in more detail.



Economy – The World Bank recently named Singapore as the best country on the planet to do business. With its crucial position within emerging Asian markets, there is a HQ here for nearly every major company. Finding a job certainly isn’t difficult here, and the salaries are higher than back home. Meanwhile, starting a business takes only three days on the island, so entrepreneurs will feel at home here. High wages and high-tech economy defines Singapore. Find out more about the Singapore economy at doingbusiness.org.

Housing – There is no shortage of good quality housing here in Singapore. In fact, the country has the fourth fastest-growing real estate market on the planet. It’s a great place to make an investment in property. Even the rental market looks good here, with stunning high rise flats, and generous condos. Take a look for yourself at GreyLoft.com, and get settled into the Asian lifestyle.

Public services – One of the biggest reasons for topping the quality of life index is the public services. Yes, you’ll pay more tax here. But, in return, you get access to wonderful services. The healthcare system is affordable, even to foreigners. As for the public transport, making your way around the small island is easy. These services are what gives expats a feeling of security while living here.



Low crime rate – The locals and expats also feel incredibly safe on the streets of Singapore. There’s a strict no-tolerance policy to drugs here, and they crack down hard on crime. Having said that, you’ll rarely see a policeman on the streets, and public disturbance is rare. There’s a safe and comfortable feeling in the city, even at night.

Education – If you’re looking to bring children up in Singapore, you’re well catered for. The schools here are impeccable, with very high standards. All children are required to learn a second language, so everyone grows up bilingual. They also place an importance on arts and sports here, so every child gets a fully rounded education. The private schools are much more expensive, but that is the case across the globe.

Weather – If there’s one thing that always affects our quality of life, it’s the weather. When you move to Singapore, you enjoy year-round sun and warm temperatures. It’s hard to feel downhearted when it feels like summer all the time. There is one caveat here though, it rains a lot! So, keep an umbrella handy at all times.

If you’re looking for a change in the pace of life, consider making the move to Singapore. Great for business, great for public services, and great for your quality of life.


China and Taiwan have held historic talks in Singapore – their first in more than 60 years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands at the start of the talks, which were seen as largely symbolic.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.

However, many Taiwanese see it as independent and are concerned at China’s growing influence.

“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life,” Ma Ying-jeou said as the talks began at a luxury hotel.

Xi Jinping told the Taiwanese leader: “We are one family.”China and Taiwan talks in Singapore

“The meeting between the leaders across the Taiwan Strait has opened a historic chapter in the cross-Strait relations, and history will remember today,” he added.

The meeting took place in neutral territory on the sidelines of a state visit by Xi Jinping to Singapore.

Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under Ma Ying-jeou since he took office in 2008, with better economic ties, improving tourism links, and a trade pact signed.

The two sides split in 1949 when the Kuomintang lost to the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war and set up a new government in Taiwan.

Ma Ying-jeou described the talks as “positive and friendly”, but no major agreements or deals appear to have been reached.

He said in advance that the issue of the South China Sea disputes, which has dominated recent concerns in the region, would not be brought up.

Xi Jinping raised the issue in a speech at the National University of Singapore before the meeting, saying China has always hoped to settle the disputes peacefully.

Ma Ying-jeou proposed reducing hostility across the Taiwan Strait, expanding exchanges and establishing a cross-strait hotline, according to Taiwan’s central news agency.

He said this was part of consolidating the “1992 consensus” – the agreement under which both sides recognize the principle of “one China” but define it in their own ways.

Similar remarks were made by Xi Jinping, who said upholding the consensus would help “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

In Taipei there were protests before the talks and one group tried to enter the Taiwanese parliament building.

AFP said there were arrests at Taipei’s Songshan airport as Ma Ying-jeou left early on November 7, where opponents of closer ties between Taiwan and China tried to set fire to images of the two leaders.

A small group supporting Ma Ying-jeou also turned up at the airport.

State media in China have heralded the meeting, though Taiwan has had a more divided reaction where opposition parties and activists have called for Ma Ying-jeou to back out.


Taiwan and China will hold a historic summit in Singapore as President Ma Ying-jeou will meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, on November 7.

The summit will be the first ever meeting between leaders of the two sides.

Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping said the talks would focus on relations across the Taiwan Straits.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and views the island as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.

However, ties have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

The Chinese government threatens to use military force against Taiwan if it ever attempts to gain outright independence.China and Taiwan summit Singapore 2015

Taiwanese spokesman Chen Yi-hsin said President Ma Ying-jeou’s aim was “to promote peace cross the Taiwan Strait and maintain status quo”.

Ma Ying-jeou will hold a news conference on November 5 to explain his decision to hold the talks. More details are also expected from Taiwan’s mainland affairs council on November 4.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said the two sides would “exchange views on promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations”.

In a sign of how politically sensitive the meeting is, the two leaders will address each other as Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma, rather than president, one Chinese government official has said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US welcomed any steps to reduce tensions and improve relations, but added: “We’ll have to see what actually comes out of the meeting.”

Ties with China have improved under President Ma Ying-jeou, whose Kuomintang (KMT) party is seen as pro-Beijing.

In July 2009, the two leaders exchanged direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years, albeit in their respective party functions, and not as national leaders.

In 2010, China and Taiwan signed a historic trade pact.

However, correspondents say growing fears over China’s influence has led to widespread dissatisfaction in Taiwan.

The KMT party suffered a crushing defeat in local elections in 2015, a result that was widely seen as a rejection of President Ma Ying-jeou’s push for closer ties with China.

Ma Ying-jeou steps down next year having served two terms, and earlier this month the KMT dropped its candidate for January’s presidential election following a series of poor ratings in opinion polls.

Analysts say China is likely to see a meeting between the two leaders as a final chance to press its case for improved ties, in case the KMT loses the election.

China has insisted that countries cannot have official relations with both China and Taiwan, with the result that Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with only 21 UN member states.

Taiwan also has no seat at the UN, having lost it to China in 1971. Repeated attempts to regain representation at the UN have been blocked.


The funeral of Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, who died on March 23 at the age of 91, is being held in the city-state.

Despite torrential rain, thousands of people are lining the streets to view the funeral procession carrying Lee Kuan Yew’s coffin from parliament, where it has been lying in state, across the city.

Following a state funeral attended by world leaders, Lee Kuan Yew’s body will be cremated in a private family ceremony.

One million people have visited tribute sites this week, say local media.

More than half a million people – 12% of Singaporean citizens – visited Parliament House to see Lee Kuan Yew ‘s coffin, while at least 850,000 others went to community sites to pay tribute.

The funeral procession began on Sunday, March 29, at 12:30 PM as Lee Kuan Yew’s body was taken from Parliament House on a gun carriage.Lee Kuan Yew state funeral held in Singapore

A 21-gun salute sounded, echoing across the city, as the procession moved on into the business district and Tanjong Pagar, the docklands constituency Lee Kuan Yew represented for his whole political life.

Military jets flew overhead while two Singaporean navy vessels conducted a sail-past of the Marina Bay barrage – the massive water conservation project spearheaded by Lee Kuan Yew.

Despite the pouring rain, crowds lined the route. They have been waiting almost silently but erupting in cheers and shouting Lee Kuan Yew’s name as the procession passes by.

The funeral service is expected to begin at 14:00 at a cultural centre in the west, with foreign leaders including former President Bill Clinton, Indian PM Narendra Modi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Australian PM Tony Abbott and UK House of Commons leader William Hague attending.

The country will also observe a minute’s silence in the afternoon before singing the national anthem. The private cremation is taking place at the Mandai crematorium.

Singapore’s current PM Lee Hsien Loong, who is Lee Kuan Yew’s son, has described the past week as a “deeply moving experience” saying Singaporeans had “expressed their grief overwhelmingly”.

Many of the city-state’s shopping and commercial centers are expected to be closed on Sunday as a mark of respect to Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s prime minister for 31 years. He stepped down in 1990 but remained hugely influential in political life and was held in deep affection by Singaporeans.

Lee Kuan Yew oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia, and was widely respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity – the city-state’s GNP per capita increased 15-fold between 1960 and 1980.

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The body of Singapore’s late statesman Lee Kuan Yew has been transferred for lying in state at Parliament House.

Thousands of people are queuing to pay tribute to the father of the city-state.

Lee Kuan Yew’s body was moved by gun carriage on Wednesday morning from his official residence and through the city.

He died in hospital on March 23 at the age of 91.

Lee Kuan Yew led the city-state to independence and served as its prime minister for 31 years.

Singapore is observing a week of mourning ahead of Sunday’s funeral.

Lee Kuan Yew’s body has been resting at the Istana – the compound which houses the president’s official residence and the prime minister’s office – for a private family mourning period. Thousands have already left flowers and message at its gates and signed books of condolence.

His flag-draped coffin, accompanied by representatives of the military and government, was then carried from the Istana through the main shopping and business districts, before arriving at Parliament House.

Many organizations and businesses are giving employees time off to pay their respects. By midday, huge queues had formed in the area around parliament. The first in line had begun queuing the night before.Lee Kuan Yew coffin transferred for lying in state at Singapore's parliament

Visiting hours have been extended until midnight in response to the turnout.

On Tuesday, Singapore’s current prime minster, Lee Kuan Yew’s son Lee Hsien Loong, thanked all who had paid tribute, via his Facebook page.

He also announced that a new orchid – Singapore’s national flower – had been named after his father. The orchid, named Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, is on display at Parliament House.

Lee Kuan Yew – widely known as LKY – oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia and co-founded the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since 1959.

He was the architect of Singapore’s transformation from a dependent, port city to a stable, prosperous independent state and a global financial hub.

However, he also introduced tight control. One of his legacies was a clampdown on the press – tight restrictions that remain in place today – while measures such as corporal punishment have been criticized as repressive.

Today, PAP remains firmly in control. There are currently six opposition lawmakers in parliament.

Lee Kuan Yew was widely admired by world leaders, but criticized what he saw as the overly liberal approach of the US and the West.

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Singapore has declared seven days of national mourning following the death of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee Kuan Yew, who was 91, led Singapore’s transformation from a small port city to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

World leaders have paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, who served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years.

President Barack Obama described Lee Kuan Yew as a “giant of history” whose advice had been sought by other world leaders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Lee Kuan Yew was a widely respected strategist and statesman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as one of the “patriarchs” of world politics.

The period of national mourning will culminate in a state funeral next Sunday and Lee Kuan Yew ‘s body is to lie in state at parliament from March 25 to 28.Singapore declares seven days of national mourning for Lee Kuan Yew death

A private family wake is taking place on March 23 and 24.

News of Lee Kuan Yew’s death came in a government statement that said he had “passed away peacefully” in the early hours of Monday at Singapore General Hospital.

Lee Kuan Yew had been in hospital for several weeks with pneumonia and was on life support.

State television broke away from its normal schedules and broadcast rolling tributes.

As evening fell, many Singaporeans were continuing to arrive at the Istana, the compound housing the president’s official residence and the prime minister’s office, where a book of condolence has been placed.

Earlier, some chanted “Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee” as a hearse carrying the former leader’s body arrived at the compound.

An area has also been set aside outside the hospital for flowers and other tributes.

Books of condolence have also been opened at all Singapore’s overseas missions.

In an emotional televised address, Lee Kuan Yew’s son, PM Lee Hsien Loong, paid tribute to him.

“He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him,” he said.

Business in bustling Singapore carried on as normal. At the stock exchange, the normal stream of market prices displayed on a bank of screens instead read: Remembering Lee Kuan Yew, September 16, 1923 to March 23, 2015.

Lee Kuan Yew – widely known as LKY – oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia and co-founded the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since 1959.

He set about creating a highly educated work force fluent in English, and reached out to foreign investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub.

Lee Kuan Yew embarked on a program of slum clearance, industrialization and tackling corruption. He was a fierce advocate of a multi-racial Singapore.

However, Lee Kuan Yew also introduced tight controls, and one of his legacies was a clampdown on the press – tight restrictions that remain in place today.

Dissent and political opponents were ruthlessly quashed. Today, PAP remains firmly in control. There are currently six opposition lawmakers in parliament.

Other measures, such as corporal punishment, a ban on chewing gum and the government’s foray into matchmaking for Singapore’s brightest – to create smarter babies – led to perceptions of excessive state interference.

Lee Kuan Yew criticized what he saw as the overly liberal approach of the US and the West, saying it had “come at the expense of orderly society”.

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Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed the island country from a small port city into a wealthy global hub, has died at the age of 91.

Lee Kuan Yew served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years, and continued to work in government until 2011.

Highly respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity, Lee Kuan Yew was also criticized for his iron grip on power.

Under Lee Kuan Yew freedom of speech was tightly restricted and political opponents were targeted by the courts.

The announcement was made “with deep sorrow” by the press secretary of PM Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew’s son.Lee Kuan Yew dead at 91

“The prime minister is deeply grieved to announce the passing of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding prime minister of Singapore,” his office said in a statement.

It said Lee Kuan Yew died peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital at 03:18 local time on March 23.

Lee Kuan Yew had been in hospital for several weeks with severe pneumonia. Over the weekend, people left tributes and messages of goodwill at the hospital as his condition deteriorated.

A charismatic and unapologetic figure, Lee Kuan Yew co-founded the People’s Action Party, which has governed Singapore since 1959, and was its first prime minister.

The Cambridge-educated lawyer led Singapore through merger with, and then separation from, Malaysia – something that he described as a “moment of anguish”.

Speaking at a press conference after the split in 1965, Lee Kuan Yew pledged to build a meritocratic, multi-racial nation.

But tiny Singapore – with no natural resources – needed a new economic model.

“We knew that if we were just like our neighbors, we would die,” Lee Kuan Yew told the New York Times in 2007.

“Because we’ve got nothing to offer against what they have to offer. So we had to produce something which is different and better than what they have.”

Through investment in schooling, Lee Kuan Yew set about creating a highly-educated work force fluent in English.

He reached out to foreign investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub, introducing incentives to attract foreign companies.

The city-state grew wealthy and later developed into a major financial centre. But building a nation came with tight controls – and one of Lee Kuan Yew’s legacies was a clampdown on the press.

These restrictions remain today. In 2014, Singapore stood at 150 in the Reports Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, below countries like Russia, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

Dissent – and political opponents – were ruthlessly quashed.

Today Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP remains firmly in control. There are currently six opposition lawmakers in parliament.

Other measures, such as corporal punishment, a ban on chewing gum and the government’s foray into matchmaking for Singapore’s brightest – to create smarter babies – led to perceptions of excessive state interference. However, Lee Kuan Yew remained unmoved.

“Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up,” Lee Kuan Yew told a rally in 1980.

“I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.”

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AirAsia flight QZ8501 with 162 people on board travelling from Indonesia to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control.

Flight QZ8501 lost contact at 07:24AM, Malaysia-based AirAsia tweeted.

Search and rescue operations are under way.

Malaysia’s national carrier Malaysia Airlines has suffered two disasters this year – flights MH370 and MH17 – but AirAsia has never lost a plane.

Flight MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew, and MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.

The AirAsia flight had been due to arrive in Singapore at 08:30AM.Missing AirAsia plane December 2014

The missing jet had requested a “deviation” from the flight path due to bad weather, the company said.

There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and one infant, the company said in a statement. Also on board were two pilots and five cabin crew.

Most of those on board were Indonesian, but there were six others on board, three South Koreans, and one each from France, Malaysia and Singapore, AirAsia has said.

An official with the transport ministry, Hadi Mustofa, told local media the plane lost contact over the Java Sea, between the islands of Kalimantan and Java.

He said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact and that the weather had been cloudy.

AirAsia has set up an emergency line for family or friends of those who may be on board: +622 129 850 801.

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Serena Williams gave a fiery display of her fighting spirit on October 25 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium during her WTA Finals semi-final against good friend Caroline Wozniacki.

Serena Williams beat Caroline Wozniacki in a thrilling contest to reach her third consecutive final at the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore.

The world No 1 had a 9-1 head-to-head record going into the game against the Dane, but got off to a slow start in the opening set.

Her frustration came to a boil when she went 5-2 down after sending the ball into the net.

Serena Williams, 33, proceeded to smash her racket multiple times into the ground, leaving it in an obliterated, mangled mess. Her act left the crowd gasping and earned her a warning from the chair umpire.

Serena Williams gave a fiery display of her fighting spirit at the Singapore Indoor Stadium during her WTA Finals semi-final against good friend Caroline Wozniacki

Serena Williams gave a fiery display of her fighting spirit at the Singapore Indoor Stadium during her WTA Finals semi-final against good friend Caroline Wozniacki

“I don’t know how many times I hit it, but boy, that racket will never do me wrong again, I tell you,” Serena Williams said of her angry outburst in the first set.

“It was definitely legendary. I kind of lost my cool a little bit. I thought, well, at least you know I’m passionate. I give 200%.

“When I play, doesn’t matter how I feel, I’m going to give everything I have for every shot and every point.”

Serena Williams will face a rematch against Simona Halep on October 26, four days after suffering her heaviest defeat in 16 years against the Romanian in the group stage.

Simona Halep, 23, broke Agnieszka Radwanska’s serve five times and hit 26 clean winners as she swept past the Pole to reach the final on her first appearance at the WTA season finale.

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Singapore is the world’s most expensive city to live in 2014, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey.

The city has topped 131 cities globally on the EIU list.

Singapore’s strong currency combined with the high cost of running a car and soaring utility bills contributed to its topping the list.

The city is also the most expensive place in the world to buy clothes.

Singapore replaces Tokyo, which topped the list in 2013.

Other cities making up the top five most expensive cities to live in are Paris, Oslo, Zurich and Sydney, with Tokyo falling to sixth place.

The EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey is a relocation tool that uses New York City as a base. It looks at more than 400 individual prices.

The top 10 cities this year have been dominated by Asian and Australasian cities as well as some in Europe.

Most Asian cities that top the list are there for predominantly higher costs of groceries. Tokyo is still at the top of the list for everyday food items.

Singapore is the world's most expensive city to live in 2014

Singapore is the world’s most expensive city to live in 2014

However, not all Asian cities are tough on the wallet.

India’s major cities – including Mumbai and New Delhi – were found to be among the least expensive in the world.

Mumbai’s prices are kept low by large income inequality.

The low wages of many of the city’s workers keep spending low, and government subsidies have helped them stay that way.

Outside of the subcontinent, Damascus in Syria saw the largest drop, becoming the fourth cheapest city in the world as the country’s ongoing conflict has led to plummeting prices.

While the EIU’s survey takes into account the cost of living, other firms employ different research methods.

Mercer conducts research to determine the most expensive cities for expatriate living.

It found that in 2013, Luanda, Angola was the hardest on expatriate wallets due to the difficulty of finding adequate secure housing, and the high price of imported goods.

Top 5 most expensive cities:

  1. Singapore, Singapore
  2. Paris, France
  3. Oslo, Norway
  4. Zurich, Switzerland
  5. Sydney, Australia [youtube 1hIpf76Re50 650]

Singapore pollution levels reached a new record high for a third day in a row, as smoky haze from fires in Indonesia shrouded the city state.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit 401 at 12:00 on Friday – the highest in the country’s history.

The haze is also affecting Malaysia, with another 100 schools closed in the south of the country.

Indonesia has prepared helicopters and cloud seeding equipment to try to tackle the fires.

Singaporean PM Lee Hsieng Loong warned on Thursday that the haze could remain in place for weeks.

“We can’t tell how this problem is going to develop because it depends on the burning, it depends on the weather, it depends on the wind,” he said.

“It can easily last for several weeks and quite possibly it could last longer until the dry season ends in Sumatra which may be September or October.”

A PSI reading above 300 is defined as “hazardous”, while Singapore government guidelines say a PSI reading of above 400 over 24 hours “may be life threatening to ill and elderly persons”.

“Healthy people [may also] experience adverse symptoms that affect normal activity,” the government says.

Singapore pollution levels reached a new record high for a third day in a row, as smoky haze from fires in Indonesia shrouded the city state

Singapore pollution levels reached a new record high for a third day in a row, as smoky haze from fires in Indonesia shrouded the city state

The PSI dropped back down to 245 at 14:00, although this is still in the “very unhealthy” range, and above peak levels during the 1997-1998 South East Asian Haze.

Philip Koh, a doctor, told AFP news agency that the number of medical consultations he had had in the past week had increased by 20%.

“My patients are telling me they are worried about how long this is going to last and how much higher this is going to go,” he said.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency has started providing hourly PSI updates on its website, in addition to the three-hourly updates it previously provided.

Around 300 schools in southern Malaysia have now been closed as a result of the smog. Schools in Singapore are currently closed for the holidays.

There are also reports of flight delays in both Singapore’s Changi airport and Riau province in Indonesia.

The fires are caused by illegal slash-and-burn land clearance in Sumatra, to the west of Singapore.

The smog has strained diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia – two countries that usually share good relations.

PM Lee Hsieng Loong said Singapore had provided satellite date to Indonesia to help it identify companies involved and said that if any Singapore firms were involved, that would be addressed.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency said it would deploy two helicopters to conduct “water-bombing” operations, as well as planes with cloud seeding equipment.

Reports say around 100 Indonesian firefighters are attempting to put out the fires in Sumatra.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said “all the country’s resources” would be mobilized to extinguish the fires.

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Smog in Singapore soared to hazardous levels again on Thursday, prompting government health warnings.

At 13:00 local time Singapore’s pollution standards index (PSI) reached 371, breaking all previous records.

The haze is caused by illegal forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

Singapore and Indonesia are to hold an emergency meeting, with Singapore’s environment minister demanding “definitive action” from Jakarta.

Andrew Tan, the chief executive of Singapore’s National Environment Agency, will lead Singapore’s delegation at the emergency meeting, hosted by Indonesia’s foreign ministry in Jakarta.

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister, wrote on his Facebook wall that: “Singaporeans have lost patience, and are understandably angry.”

“No country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans’ health and wellbeing,” he added.

However, Indonesia’s Minister for People’s Welfare, Agung Laksono, said that Singapore was “behaving like a child”.

“This is not what the Indonesian nation wants, it is because of nature,” he said.

Smog in Singapore soared to hazardous levels again on Thursday, prompting government health warnings

Smog in Singapore soared to hazardous levels again on Thursday, prompting government health warnings

Singapore’s buildings have been obscured by the polluted air and the smell of burnt wood has permeated the city-state.

PM Lee Hsieng Loong has asked Singaporeans to “stay indoors where possible and avoid heavy outdoor activities”.

Air traffic controllers in Singapore have been told to work with extra caution given the poor visibility, while McDonald’s has temporarily cancelled its delivery service.

The Singaporean military has also reportedly suspended all outdoor training.

The poor air quality has prompted widespread buying of disposable face masks, leading shops to run out of stock.

A PSI reading above 200 indicates “very unhealthy” air, while a PSI score above 300 is “hazardous”.

Parts of Malaysia have also recorded “hazardous” pollution levels, with over 200 schools in the country’s south ordered to shut.

Malaysia’s Department of Environment has also banned open burning in some states.

Indonesia’s forestry ministry said it intended to use cloud seeding to try to induce rain on Sumatra, AFP news agency reported.

The fires are started to clear land for plantations.

Indonesian officials have suggested that foreign palm oil investors, including Singaporean companies, may bear some responsibility for the fires.

However, several major Singapore-based palm oil companies have denied any involvement.

In 1997 and 1998, many countries in the region were affected by the South East Asian haze, which was caused by smog from Indonesian fires.

Road and air traffic was disrupted, and reports said the smog made around 20 million people ill.

The haze led to an agreement on transboundary haze pollution being approved by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2002.

However, Indonesia has yet to ratify the agreement.

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The European Union and Singapore have clinched a free-trade agreement (FTA) – the second such deal between the 27-nation bloc and a major Asian trading partner.

Last year EU-Singapore trade was worth about 74 billion euros ($97 billion).

Singapore is the second largest Asian investor in the EU after Japan. The EU Commission says the deal – not yet signed by politicians – will help EU exports of cars and financial services.

An EU-South Korea FTA has been in operation since July 2011.

The EU is Singapore’s second biggest trade partner after neighboring Malaysia, Reuters news agency reports. The plan is to initial the FTA in early 2013.

The EU is also conducting FTA negotiations with Malaysia and Vietnam – like Singapore, members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The new deal is expected to ease EU companies’ access to Singapore’s banking and financial services, and to its public procurement markets.

Acceptance of common standards should also help European car exporters – among the sectors hit especially hard by the current economic downturn.

The EU’s trade surplus with Singapore last year was 8 billion euros, with cars accounting for a big slice of the bloc’s exports.

Conservative MEP Syed Kamall will be the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the FTA. He said it would offer London’s professional services sector “excellent opportunities”.

He called Singapore “a massive and growing market” and “a key trade hub” which would open up European access to other markets in South-East Asia.