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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cosmetics and sunscreen chemical raises cancer risk: Study

29 Nov, 2011 1:55 PM
SINGAPORE - A Singapore research team has said a chemical commonly found in cosmetics and sunscreen may potentially cause cancer.

The preliminary study on nanotoxicology was led by the research team from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The study found that when the chemical, zinc oxide, is turned into nano-sized particles, it is able to enter human cells that may damage the user's DNA.

When in contact with cells that lack a tumour suppressor, called p53, cancerous cells may develop.

The team said the findings suggest that companies may need to reassess the health impact of nano-sized zinc oxide particles used in everyday products. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

- Posted using BlogPress from my 4GiPhone

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Manulife sees its future in South-east Asia

Its insurance business in region grows 30% yearly

(TORONTO) For Manulife Financial, the present is Canada and the United States, but the future will increasingly be South-east Asia, where its insurance business is growing by 30 per cent a year with the potential to improve, a senior executive said on Wednesday.

Mr Hampden- Smith: 'My objective in Cambodia is I would like to see a 30, 40, 50 per cent share of that market by dint of being the first mover.'

Premium growth in the six Asean countries that Manulife operates in will benefit from out-sized economic growth in the region, as well as from demographics and expansion into new territories such as Cambodia, Philip Hampden- Smith, general manager of Manulife's South-east Asian operations, told Reuters.

'Really our business in South-east Asia, the whole positioning of it is to take advantage of this demographic wave that we have,' he said.

The company, Canada's largest insurer and owner of US insurer John Hancock, hopes to mine both growing affluence and underpenetration by insurers in the region. In addition to insurance, Manulife also sells wealth management and banking products.

Manulife first entered Asia in Shanghai in 1897 and has since spread slowly throughout the region, benefiting as the first foreign player in some markets.

In South-east Asia, the company has a presence in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Last week, the company said that it planned to establish operations in Cambodia next year.

In Cambodia, Manulife will be the first foreign player and holder of one of only two licences, giving it the chance to help create a market in a country of 14 million people.

'My objective in Cambodia is I would like to see a 30, 40, 50 per cent share of that market by dint of being the first mover,' Mr Hampden-Smith said, adding that market penetration of one million people would not be inconceivable.

But while any profit contribution from Cambodia is still years off, the company has plenty to keep it busy in the region.

Last month, the company inked a strategic partnership with Indonesia's PT Bank Danamon that will allow Manulife to sell banking, wealth management and insurance products to the bank's customers starting next year.

'There are about 80 million bank customers in Indonesia, and there are only about 11 million insurance customers,' of which Manulife has two million as customers, Mr Hampden- Smith said.

'By doing the bank deals we're doing, on top of having our existing distribution through our agency of 7,000 sales people, we're going to be able to access some of that 70 million that we don't access at the moment.'

Manulife does not break out its South-east Asian division's profit, but its total profit from Asia last year - which also includes Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan - was C$623 million (S$778.6 million). -- Reuters

Sunday, November 20, 2011

M1 fined S$300,000 for mobile service disruption, intends to appeal

From iTODAY:June Yang | 14 Nov, 2011 6:22 PM

SINGAPORE - The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has fined M1 S$300,000 for the service disruption on 18 May which caused subscribers in the western part of Singapore to experience difficulty in making and receiving calls.

Subscribers also had difficulty accessing SMS, MMS and mobile data services via mobile phones.

IDA said it has investigated the disruption and found that M1 had not fulfilled its obligation to provide resilient mobile telephone services.

The service disruption was caused by faulty hardware cards in M1's back-end systems.

This affected the normal functioning of a database in M1's network that is used to identify and update the location of M1 subscribers at the western part of Singapore.

The service disruption affected more than 5 per cent of M1's base stations.

Due to the unique nature of the service incident, no alarms were triggered in M1's monitoring system, which affected M1's initial efforts in identifying and isolating the cause of the service disruption.

IDA noted that the fault that caused the service disruption was not foreseeable and not within M1's control and that M1 needed time to identify and restore service.

But it said it deemed that M1's efforts to restore the services expeditiously were not satisfactory.

In making its decision, IDA had considered the prolonged delay in isolating and identifying the fault, and to restore services, and also considered mitigating factors such as M1's efforts to compensate end-users.

M1, however, disagreed with IDA's conclusion, saying that the service disruption was not significant enough to warrant the fine.

In a press statement released today, M1 said, "M1 is fully committed to providing uninterrupted mobile services to our customers at all times and regrets any inconvenience caused. The mobile service disruption is of utmost concern to us and we have taken steps to further enhance our network systems and processes.

"However, M1 disagrees with IDA's enforcement action, and the basis on which the fine was imposed. We do not agree with IDA's determination that M1 had crossed the impact threshold of 5% of base stations under the Code, especially since none of our base stations were down.

"It was an isolated case and M1 had taken all the necessary course of actions to restore services to end users. As the problem was intermittent, the trouble shooting process was prolonged."

M1 says it intends to appeal the results of IDA's decision.

- Ref:itoday-Posted using BlogPress from my 4GiPhone

Saturday, November 19, 2011

iOS5 update did not fix battery glitch

5 days ago by Ellyne Phneah

Apple customers have lamented that devices with the latest iOS 5 operating systems still suffer from weak battery life, even after the company last week issued an update meant to fix the bug.

Users took to Apple's message boards to complain that iOS 5.0.1 delivered yesterday did not resolve the problem. Criticisms had surfaced after Cupertino released the mobile operating system last month, in conjuction with iPhone 4S, where users experienced shorter battery life lasting just a few hours after a full charge.
One user said he was not having "major issues" with his battery until he upgraded to the new software and things became worse--within three hours of unplugging the phone from the charger, his battery dipped to 70 percent after he made a five minute call.

Another said his battery drained 2 percent to 3 percent in less than 5 minutes when his iPhone was not running any apps. "I hope there is a fix soon, else I will have to take this back to the store," he said on Apple's message board.

"The recent iOS software update addressed many of the battery issues that some customers experienced on their iOS 5 devices," Trudy Muller, a company spokesperson said in a statement. "We continue to investigate a few remaining issues."

Apple last week acknowledged problems with the iPhone battery life, saying that a "few bugs" had affected a "small number" of customers. Cupertino did not elaborate on what caused the problem.

The company last year also faced much criticism over a design flaw involving the iPhone antenna, dubbed "Antennagate", which would experience a significant drop in network signal when the device was gripped in a certain way. Apple later gave away free cases and updated the software to address the complaints.

For a Changing Myanmar, the Real Tests Lie Ahead

Video | TimesCast | A Milestone For Myanmar November 18, 2011 - Democracy campaigner Daw Aung Sann Suu Kyi returns to politics, a show of Myanmar's sudden and stunning pace of change.
Last Updated: 2:23 AM GMT+08:00

BANGKOK — From dictatorship to quasi democracy in less than a year, the pace of change in Myanmar has stunned even the most cynical observers of the country.

The decision by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to rejoin the country’s military-backed political system has offered a veneer of legitimacy for the reform efforts of President Thein Sein.

The changes appear real, analysts say — the government’s courting of the opposition, the release of some political prisoners, the rewriting of hundreds of laws, the easing of some restrictions on the media. But there is no telling if they are permanent.

Mr. Thein Sein has a “critical one-year window” to show that this liberalization can work, said Thant Myint-U, a historian, former United Nations official and one of the leading experts on the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi shook hand with people outside the National League for Democracy head office after a meeting in Yangon, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar remains beset by grinding poverty and economic dysfunction. Many parts of the country are not at peace. Ethnic groups and their large and well-equipped armies regularly clash with government troops along the borders with China and Thailand, areas that produce vast quantities of heroin and methamphetamines sold across Asia.

“It’s increasingly easy to be very optimistic at this point, to imagine the further release of political prisoners, Aung San Suu Kyi entering Parliament and free and fair elections,” Mr. Thant Myint-U said, referring to the 1991 Nobel laureate who was released from house arrest last year. “It’s far harder to be optimistic about the economy. There’s no proper judicial system. There’s no proper banking system, no system to help finance economic growth, where businesses can go get a loan.”

President Obama, in Bali, Indonesia, attending a summit meeting of Pacific Rim countries, said on Friday that “of course there’s far more to be done” in Myanmar.

“For decades Americans have been deeply concerned about the denial of basic human rights for the Burmese people,” Mr. Obama said. “The persecution of democratic reformers, the brutality shown toward ethnic minorities and the concentration of power in the hands of a few military leaders has challenged our conscience and isolated Burma from the United States and much of the world.”

But he added that “after years of darkness, we’ve seen flickers of progress in these last several weeks.”

Political harmony in the country may to some degree now depend on whether the détente between Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and the military-backed government lasts.

During the coming months, the government faces a potential backlash from business tycoons who made their fortunes in the old political system and from elements in the military uncomfortable with the overtures to the opposition.

Above all, perhaps, the country faces huge challenges in fixing its economy, especially in the realm of banking and finance.

There are no mortgages in Myanmar, and banks are barred from lending for terms of more than one year. Private banks are forbidden to lend to farmers, who make up 70 percent of the country’s population of 55 million people.

The only readily available credit is from informal money lenders, who charge around 180 percent interest per year, according to Sean Turnell, a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney and a leading expert on Myanmar’s economy.

Mr. Turnell says the country faces a transition to a market economy similar to what former Eastern European countries experienced after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“They are starting with a blank sheet,” Mr. Turnell said. The government’s tone and talk have “changed dramatically” but the reform process will be “strewn with crises.”

Billions of dollars worth of revenues from the government’s sales of natural gas have been “squirreled away,” he said, and the country has not published a full government budget in many decades.

“There are many theories about where the money is,” Mr. Turnell said.


Friday, November 18, 2011

No force used on protesters at Changi Airport: Police

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 | AsiaOne
Auxiliary and airport police officers discharged their duties professionally in restoring order, said a spokesperson for the police who was responding to a protested staged by travellers at Changi Airport on Tuesday.

A group of Chinese national travellers alleged that police 'assaulted' them while they were blocking a passageway at the airport to protest the 9-hour delay of a Hong Kong Airlines flight from Singapore to Hong Kong.

They later claimed that the police officers had 'assaulted' and even threatened them with their handcuffs and weapons.

A spokesperson from the airline said that security camera footage of the incident showed that Singaporean ground staff had acted appropriately to the situation.

According to the statement from the Singapore Police Force, they had received a call for assistance from Changi Airport Group Customer Service Officer manning the Terminal 2 Information Counter.

The police was told that there was 'rowdy boisterous behaviour from a group of frustrated passengers over issues of compensation they had with their airline arising from a flight delay'.

"Several members of the Auxiliary Police who were in the vicinity, interfered to get the crowd to remain calm and to co-operate with airline representatives. When Airport Police officers arrived, they assisted the Auxiliary Police to restore order," wrote the spokesperson.

"The CCTV also showed that Auxiliary Police officers who were engaging the passengers did not use a trolley to push it into the group.

"A female Auxiliary Police officer was in fact, seen drawing her handcuffs when a section of the group began to taunt her.

"Both Auxiliary and Airport Police officers discharged their duties professionally in restoring order and have ensured that airport operations at the terminal were not interrupted," said the statement.

Police investigations into the incident are ongoing.

Continued to protest in Hong Kong

The Chinese passengers were reported to have continued their protest in Hong Kong International Airport, by refusing to get off the plane when it landed.

The protest sparked off when the Airbus 330 carrying 159 passengers had been delayed in Singapore for almost nine hours due to a technical fault, The South China Morning Post reported.

The airline could not be reached for comment but a spokeswoman told The South China Morning Post that the passengers had been offered meals and drinks at Singapore while another aircraft was prepared.

When the plane landed in Hong Kong at around 5.30am on Nov 16, 80 of the 159 passengers staged a sit-in and refused to leave the aircraft. The airline's offer of HK$400 (S$67) to compensate each passenger was rejected and more money was demanded.

Fifty nine passengers gave up their sit-in and left the aircraft at 9:00 am but the remaining 21 - including a tour group from Shenzhen and four travellers from Hong Kong - remained on board. Ninety minutes later they agreed to disembark, but they continued their protest inside the airport.

The protest finally ended around 1:30pm when the airline reportedly raised their compensation to HK$1,200 each.

"The amount of the compensation is not important. Their (Hong Kong Airlines) attitude was very poor," one of the passengers from mainland China was quoted as telling Hong Kong's iCable TV.

- Ref:asiaone,
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

17 nabbed in Bugis sting

From iTODAY:

Esther Ng | 17 Nov, 2011 3:00 PM

SINGAPORE - Barely a year after steamboat restaurant Chuan Yi Pin was fined for having hired nine illegal China nationals, it is suspected of committing the same offence.

When Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers checked the North Bridge Road restaurant yesterday, they found seven China nationals who were believed to be working illegally in the restaurant.

The two-hour raid on 10 food and beverage restaurants in the Bugis area led to 17 suspected illegal foreign workers being rounded up.

Those arrested hardly put up a fight.

Among those busted were five holders of student passes. Two of them were reportedly paid S$300 a month to bus tables. Those on student passes here can work - as long as they are full-time students from an approved list of institutions, such as polytechnics and universities.

There were also cases which involved the misuse of work passes. For example, a foreign domestic worker (FDW) was found washing dishes at a coffeeshop in Liang Seah Street. An FDW has to be employed at her employer's residential address as stated on the latter's identity card.

Between January and last month, the MOM carried out 404 inspections at food and beverage outlets, and found 208 companies infringing work pass conditions. Out of the 406 foreigners arrested during these inspections, 152 were on social visit passes.

Last year, the MOM conducted 655 inspections and found 263 employers who had committed work pass infringements - 70 per cent of the infringements were related to illegal employment and deployment of workers. A total of 382 foreigners were arrested during the inspections, with 161 of them social visit pass holders.

Of the F&B outlets found to have illegally hired workers without valid work passes last year, 54 were issued advisory letters, 132 warned and 46 issued with composition fines amounting to more than S$174,000. Another 51 employers were prosecuted and fined up to S$10,000 or jailed up to six months.

The MOM's divisional director of the foreign manpower division, Mr Aw Kum Cheong, said: "The Ministry of Manpower will not condone foreigners and employers who flout our employment laws and regulations.

"Such acts of dishonesty distort the labour market and accord an unfair advantage over employers and workers who play by the rules."

Those with information on illegal employment can call 6438 5122 or email mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Girls' Generation rock the Seoul Olympic stadium


August 1, 2011 - 4:49pm


Photos Courtesy of SM TOWN
THEY may be nine-member strong.
But at their recent concert at the Seoul Olympic Stadium, the girls of Korean group Girls' Generation proved they can perform solo.
While their collective efforts as a group roused the audience during the three-hour show, it was their solo performances that made the biggest impact.
The girls, better known to their Korean fans as So Nyeo Shi Dae (SNSD), were each given the stage for one song.

Ref:the new paper

Gaze into the life of Aung San Suu Kyi with never-seen-before family photos

Posted on 05 Nov 2011

STOMPer Alex sent in photos of Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi which were previously unreleased until her 65th birthday. The photos were taken before she received her Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

The 66-year-old was detained under house arrest om Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from July 20, 1989, to Nov 13, 2010.

Wrote Alex:

"On the 65th anniversary of her birth, the family of Aung San Suu Kyi released old family photographs of the human rights activist long before her Nobel prize.

"She’s of interest in relation to Bhutan as her late husband, Michael Aris, was a former royal tutor in the Kingdom and a scholar of both the nation’s history and of the Himalayas more generally.

"One of her most famous speeches is the 'Freedom From Fear' speech, which begins: 'It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.'

"She also believes fear spurs many world leaders to lose sight of their purpose. 'Government leaders are amazing', she once said. 'So often it seems they are the last to know what the people want.'

"These photographs are priceless!"

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China says Johnson & Johnson should 'practise morality'

Mon, Nov 07, 2011 | Reuters

China said on Monday Johnson & Johnson should “practise morality”, a week after the U.S. consumer and healthcare group was accused of continuing to sell baby shampoo with a possible cancer-causing ingredient.

A U.S. coalition of health campaigners said last week consumers should boycott a J&J baby shampoo until the company stopped using a preservative considered by the U.S. government to be a possible carcinogen and allergy trigger.

“Abiding by laws and regulations is the minimum compliance,”said a signed commentary on state-run news agency Xinhua on Monday, adding: “Responsible businesses should have ‘moral blood’ flowing in their veins.

“Enterprises should fulfill their social responsibilities, and are not only bound to obey laws and regulations but must also practise morality and self-discipline.” Such commentaries are tantamount to official government positions.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said last week J&J used the preservative quaternium-15 in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in the United States and elsewhere. Quaternium-15 is added to many cosmetic products to prevent spoiling and contamination, and works by releasing formaldehyde to kill bacteria.

Formaldehyde can cause cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Health, although exposure to it is common as it is widely used in consumer products and traces of it exist in the air, particularly inside homes.

“If you conduct a market survey, it is obviously very difficult to find consumers who could accept products containing carcinogens,” the Xinhua commentary said.

J&J, which was not available to comment, said last week said its products met or exceeded safety regulations in every market in which they were sold.

“We know that some consumers are concerned about formaldehyde which is why we offer many products without formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and are phasing out these types of preservatives in our baby products worldwide,” it said.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said J&J was selling baby shampoo that does not contain formaldehyde in Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, and other countries, adding J&J should say when all its products will be formaldehyde-free.

The Johnson’s Baby Shampoo story has been carried by some Chinese media, though not to the extent that Wal-Mart’s woes were covered.

China’s criticism of J&J came two weeks after U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores reopened its stores in a central Chinese region following a 15-day closure for selling mis-labelled pork.

Authorities in the province-sized municipality of Chongqing last month ordered all 13 Walmart stores in Chongqing be closed in response to ordinary pork as being labelled organic meat.

The punishment, along with a 2.7 million yuan (S$539,190) fine and the arrest of two Walmart managers, were the toughest China has meted out against a foreign retailer.

The criticism of foreign companies is seen by some western businessmen as a pattern of China singling out foreign companies but going easier on local firms.

Chinese companies themselves are frequently accused of producing or selling fake products or adding toxic ingredients, often to mimic freshness or increase shelf life, but have not been hit with similarly tough sanctions.

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