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Raeesah Khan Supports Minimum Wage After Her Experiences With Low-Wage Workers

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This week The Workers' Party (WP) MPs like Pritam Singh and Jamus Lim put up a strong proposal to implement a $1,300 monthly minimum wage to support low-income workers. Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan has also spoken up on this issue. She offers a perspective as someone who has worked with those who earn below livable wage.

Raeesah Khan has experience working with some of the 100,000 people who earn less than $1,300 monthly. She has seen for herself their living conditions in cramped houses or in bench tents or at temporary shelters. The feedback she received from interacting with this segment of Singaporeans was a trapped feeling of an never-ending cycle they cannot break free off without aid.

During her Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS), many low wage workers have also approached Raeesah Khan and the WP volunteers for help.

In a time when Singapore is facing a pandemic, people focused on calling for solidarity with Singaporeans from all segments of the population while saying that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable. Citizens should therefore ensure that people earn a liveable wage even after the majority of Singapore recovers from these tough times.

Will those who oppose a minimum wage be able to look these low wage workers in the eye and tell them in the face that a $1,300 monthly wage is justifiable?

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Amos Yee Charged With Child Porn And Risks Losing Asylum Status

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Amos Yee is back in the news after being arrested by the US police for child porn related charges. According to the US media, Amos Yee had allegedly exchanged nude photographs and a few thousand WhatsApp messages with a 14-year-old girl from Texas. Amos Yee had been living in Chicago during this time. US prosecutors claimed Amos Yee had exchanged messages in April and July 2019 which consisted of nude photos he asked and obtained from the Texan girl, and also his naked photos which were sent to the same girl.

The US Homeland Security officials came to know of this incident after the relationship between Amos Yee and the girl turned sour, and she informed a group dedicated to exposing pedophiles.

When Amos Yee appeared at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for his bond hearing, was not given a chance to speak up. The assistant public defender repeatedly silenced Amos Yee even though he said he had information about the case which could aid in his defense.

Amos Yee's attorney added that Amos Yee is an "internet troll" who is well-known for saying fantastic things online. Therefore his online comments should be taken with skepticism.

Let it be reminded that Amos Yee first gained internet fame when he was first slapped with a jail term at the tender age of 16 for making a "controversial" and "obscene" social media posts cheering the death of Lee Kuan Yew back in 2015. An 18-year-old Amos Yee was persecuted again in 2016 when the Singapore government jailed him for "wounding religious feelings" of Christians and Muslims with online commentaries about these religions. Fearing further political persecution, Amos Yee was forced to flee Singapore and eventually granted US Asylum.

However the US Judge was unmoved by this "online troll" argument and put him on a US$1 million bail along with an internet ban while awaiting trial. His next court hearing will be on 5 Nov 2020. If Amos Yee is convicted with these child porn charges, his asylum status could potentially be terminated.

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SDP Bryan Lim: Rats Brazenly Roam Woodlands In The Daytime

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Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) politician Bryan Lim Boon Heng received photos of rats roaming around the area of a Woodlands HDB. The photos were taken by a resident at Blk 366 Woodlands Ave 5 in the evening.

Bryan Lim highlights this as a point of concern as there is still daylight but the rats have already come out in search of food. The rats appear desensitised to the high volume of human traffic during the evening rush hour. The resident also said that the largest rat spotted during this time was bigger than the palm size of an adult man. He had previously spotted bigger ones.

A few weeks ago, Bryan Lim also received residents' feedback about a worsening rat infestation around a triangular area of Woodlands Ave 5, Woodlands Drive 14 and Woodlands Civic Centre. The residents believe that the construction works for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT station is to blame for this infestation.

This particular area is under the Marsiling - Yew Tee GRC currently held by the PAP Lawrence Wong, Alex Yam, Zaqy Mohamad and Hany Soh. Bryan Lim notified the relevant authorities but has yet to receive a reply from the Town Council. He also urged the National Environment Agency (NEA) to look into this growing rat problem once more.

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GrabFood Rider Seeks Public Understanding On Challenges Faced By Delivery Riders

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A GrabFood delivery rider shared her feelings of frustration about making a perfect delivery. Her post was sparked by an unfortunate incident where one of the drinks she delivered was spilled and even made her delivery bag drip.

She explained that delivery riders do not want to spill their food or drinks on purpose. Unluckily for her the restaurant handed over a drink which did not have its lid closed properly. As she was also in a rush to send her stacked orders, she did not check if the lids were tight. She hopes that restaurants and merchants will consider using special cups for delivery to prevent such unwanted spillage.

The delivery rider then wrote about other challenges delivery riders face on a daily basis as they send orders in a timely and professional manner. Even when the cups have their lids tightened, delivery riders sometimes ride on bumpy roads. They will either spill the drinks without knowing or will have to ride slowly to prevent spilling.

At times when they ride too slowly on the roads, impatient cars will honk at riders or give a "what the heck" look. She says that delivery riders do not want to inconvenience other road users, and sometimes they cannot ride faster due to LTA speed regulations.

Overall she hopes the public will be more understanding as delivery riders are trying to work for a living and doing all they can to send the food as perfectly as how the the restaurant had given to them.

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Grabfood Customer Tried to Cancel Wrong Order But Told Food Would Be Disposed Instead

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I placed order with GrabFood for Mcdonald's delivery on 19 Oct at 5.29pm. While placing the order, I realised the delivery address wrong at the wrong place.

Subsequently, I tried to cancel the order via the app but was not able to. When a rider accepted my order, I texted him if he can deliver to my actual location. However, he mentioned that he only deliver to the app's chosen location.

So I told the rider I try to call up GrabFood and ask for cancellation. In the call, the CSO told me that they cannot cancel the order as it is my fault as the customer to choose the wrong address.

I told the CSO "but there is no one there to collect these food". She replied me this "the standard internal SOP is that if no one collect the food at the location, they are to dispose the food".

My opinion, I do not mind paying a bit more to the rider for him to make the effort to send to me at the actual location. But is GrabFood actually a good platform to use when it is against the customers?

Why did Grabfood ask the riders to throw away the food when there is no one to pick up at the wrong location?

Is it because GrabFood only cares for their incentive earn from the merchant and ignore the fact that they are encouraging their rider to throw away food?

In the end, the rider personally agree to deliver to me, and I top up cash to him.. so as not to waste food.

<Reader's Contribution>

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Koh Poh Koon Justifies Increasing MediShield Life Premium Despite $4.3 Billion Surplus Over 4 Years

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The PAP Senior Minister of State and colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon tried to justify the increase in MediShield Life premiums in 2021 by saying that delaying such an increase will only result in "steeper hikes down the road to catch up with rising claims." MediShield Life premiums are expected to increase by up to a third despite the current economic impact due to Covid19, yet Koh Poh Koon tries to reassure that premiums will be kept sustainable. The government is also trying to sweeten the deal by dangling a $360 million Covid19 subsidy for the first two years.

It is interesting to note that between 2016 and 2019, about $7.6 billion in premiums were collected from MediShield Life premiums but only $3.5 billion was paid out as claims. This means that there is an excess of $4.3 billion in the reserves.

Despite such an huge surplus, Koh Poh Koon claims that the increased premiums are determined based on both current claims and future commitments. He says that between 2016 and 2019, Singapore has seen an increase in of claimants by 30% while the average payout has risen by about 7%. Therefore the MediShield Life Council foresees premiums collected were "slightly less" than total monies required for current and future claims.

However netizens appear unconvinced by the impending fee hike. Some argued that the government should look into the root of the problem: why medical costs are rising so rapidly and if there is an over-consumption of medical services by certain segments of the population. There are others who pointed out that the increased premiums come around 5 years since MediShield Life was launched, and wonder if the actuaries who estimate the premiums are working on accurate numbers. Other netizens also appear confused how private Integrated Shield plans seem useful even though they are supposed to cushion healthcare costs.

Based on how things are going, certain netizens are skeptical if this round of premium adjustments will be the last.

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Government Forces Singaporeans To Use TraceTogether After Low Take-Up Rate

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The Covid19 multi-ministry taskforce announced that by end-Dec 2020, the public can no longer gain entry into popular venues by scanning SafeEntry QR codes or their NRIC barcodes. The government will be making it compulsory for members of the public to check in using the TraceTogether app or token instead.

While the taskforce Minister Lawrence Wong tried to justify this mandatory move as a criteria before Singapore can enter phrase three, he ironically says that having 70% of Singapore's population using TraceTogether is sufficient. What is the purpose or effectiveness of TraceTogether if not 100% of the population adopt this contact tracing technology?

Some netizens wonder if the government is making TraceTogether compulsory due to its low take-up rate. Indeed Lawrence Wong revealed only 45% of the population are currently using the TraceTogether app or token.

Despite initial skepticism on developing such contact tracing technology when Google and Apple have created their in-house contact tracing functions like Exposure Notification, the government bulldozed its way into awarding tenders to built the TraceTogether dongle. The end product was an unimpressive bulky dongle which requires the use of Bluetooth to exchange short-distance "encrypted" signals. However Singaporeans remain unconvinced about their privacy concerns and data safety.

TraceTogether looks to be another wasteful government project as the resources ($6 million tender) put to building this bulky dongle could have been used to aid Singaporeans facing tough times during Covid19.

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PHV Driver Makes Startling Discovery Under Seat

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Many Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) drivers work long hours and they can meet a variety of passengers while doing their rounds. Unfortunately for PHV driver Fyzal Anwerbag, one of his passengers would cause him to end up at the police station.

Fyzal recounted how he had just finished his shift, and probably out of habit he checked the interior of his PHV car. It was then he discovered someone had discreetly left a police ankle tag under the driver's seat. Based on his photos, the black tracker appeared to be a cleanly cut with some tool. These trackers are usually attached to the ankles of offenders, so this particular passenger might have been trying to make an escape.

Fyzal eventually decided to hand over this evidence to the police station. He spent over three hours at the station as the police officers had to check with various departments and many offices were not working as it was after hours.

He reminds other PHV drivers to do similar checks every time they end a shift.

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Dr Ho Ting Fei: Give Dignity And Respect To Workers Earning Less Than $1300

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Clinical physician and ex-NUS professor Dr Ho Ting Fei recently wrote in to The Straits Times over the whole minimum wage saga. The PAP stubbornly remains opposed to the idea of implementing a minimum wage of $1,300 as proposed by The Workers' Party (WP) MPs. The PAP argues that only 32,000 full-time workers work less than $1,300 monthly and they have already implemented measures like the Progressive Wage Model (PWM).

However as a slap to remind how detached the PAP are from reality, renowned Dr Ho Ting Fei has spoken up for these low-wage workers. She says the PAP should not prioritise their efforts into defending against a minimum wage using statistics and policies. She tells the PAP to consider how any person or family hope to survive on anything less than $1,300 a month due to Singapore's high cost of living.

She correctly points out that these low-wage workers urgently need help and not be treated as mere numbers in the PAP's statistics. These workers need to have their daily needs solved to some extent, before they can even think about upgrading their skills or increasing productivity.

Dr Ho Ting Fei pleads that these workers are our fellow citizens and the PAP should not let them fall between the cracks. A minimum wage should not be denied to these people as they struggle need to put food on their tables. Dr Ho believes they need to have their dignity and respect restored.

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Don't Steal Vouchers From People

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Fellow Singaporeans. As we march through the pandemic, it seems that the social fabric of nations are crumbling.

The West has an identity crisis from an extreme ideology they thought was defeated 30 years ago. The Chinese Dragon now marching angrily, secretly thinks why he was instigated into fighting an uphill battle in the first place.

And while I will admit that the shortcomings we have to face are incredibly mild as compared to the decay of superpowers or the implosion of anarchy in failed states, this horrid act a few days ago entails that the cracks within our society are opening faster.

A woman in Toa Payoh went through a HDB block and decided to steal $10 vouchers given out to people via Budget 2020 to buy groceries. Groceries... that are getting stretched thinner and thinner as a result of international trade crippling the means for a farmer an ocean away to sell off his crops to end up on your bowl.

What the hell is wrong with us ?! I know we have several underlying issues like the lack of civil rights or undervalued standards of living... but how can a person even consider stealing something important to someone who may have less than you?

Especially in these times of struggle behind the usually clean-cut architecture of our nation ? Where is this "Kampung Spirit" my Ah Kong used to reminisce about so long ago ? Neighbours helping neighbours, enough collective trust to not lock doors and the feeling of community ? Are we all forced to shield ourselves in our homes as our hearts get darker and our brains corrupted by wanton greed ?

I am not even sure if it is something to rant on, I mean it was a small handful at most. But the fact that one person got caught means that there could be dozens more who have done something similar and got away with it.

At this moment, the small amount of monies that the government has tossed to try and help and suddenly your neighbour could try and snatch it to spend the $10 he has in physical money for his own leisure purposes.

To bring the point home: DON'T STEAL ANYTHING. As if I actually had to lecture people on this. And if this actually convinced you NOT to steal from your nearest stack of postboxes... God(s) help us all

Until the next incident or injustice, I am your loyal reader Justin

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Woman Gets Hit By Golf Ball From Nearby Tanah Merah Country Club While Visiting Changi Jurassic Mile

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<Reader's Contribution>

Yesterday 22 October 2020 at 6pm, I took the family and my helper to the newly opened Changi Jurassic Mile near to T4.

All was well until when we were walking past the 2 Parasaurolophus exhibit (Zone J). A loud thud was heard before I turn around and see my helper dropping on her knees onto the floor. She held her head and started crying. That was when we realised she was hit by a golf ball from Tanah Merah Country Club. The golf course was literally right beside the exhibit, along the entire Changi Jurassic Mile.

Thankfully there was a Certis Cisco security staff nearby and she immediately informed her supervisor. He arrived shortly and an airport ambulance was activated. We walked to the Tanah Merah end of the walk way and the ambulance arrived shortly. The doctor did all the necessary checks and confirmed it is a head injury with bruising but advised that we monitor at home since we might need to stay for hours in the hospital if admitted. Thankfully my helper is fine so far.

A Changi Airport Group’s Arrival Experience manager was also there and mentioned to us that they had brought up the possibility of golf balls hitting the public when building this pathway. However upper management from Tanah Merah Country Club Garden Course assured that the golf balls will not hit the public due to wind direction, hence there is no need for nettings to be built to protect the public.

We were also told that this is the first case that has happened. They have already put this up but will be up for discussion if they need to put anything in place. I am sharing this so that people are aware, I can’t imagine how it will turn out if the golf ball were to hit my kids or any other children or elderly who will be there every single day.

At the mean time, I would suggest those cycling to keep their helmets on. And those walking with kids to have umbrellas opened. That is until some sort of protection is put in placed.

Special thanks to Changi Airport ‘s team for doing all they can to help. Please help to share this and keep your loved ones aware as many more are going to visit this new attraction over the next few weeks.

Derek Yap

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Financial Transparency Needed For MediShield Life And MOH Holdings

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Singapore has become "Pte Ltd" gov.

Public hospitals are divided into geographical clusters and operated by private companies. The private companies are Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd (SingHealth), National Healthcare Group Pte Ltd (NHG) and National University Health System (NUHS).

Shares in SingHealth and NHG are held by the Ministry of Health Holdings Pte Ltd (MOH Holdings). NUHS is a joint venture between NUS and MOH Holdings. In turn, MOH Holdings is privately owned, wholly or partially, by the government.

As these are private companies, they are therefore funded privately, either by private owners, the government or profits from running the hospitals, or all three. They do not issue shares to the public. As such, they do not need to submit financial statements to the stock exchange for public scrutiny. Needless to say, they are profit seeking entities.

The good thing is that since they are subject to market forces, at least partially, standards of health care is good. Also, even though they charge market prices, Singaporeans and PRs are subsidized.
I am writing this because I am rather vexed that the Government is running profit seeking private companies, because, one way or another, state resources will be used, but it is not accountable to the public. Also, besides the Government, there may be other corporate or individual shareholders, who would be benefiting from state resources. If there are, who are these shareholders?

What’s worse, they operate public hospitals providing essential medical services which every citizen should have access. Yet, they are profit seeking entities purporting to provide a public good. In time to come, the people may have to pay an arm and a leg, for essential medical services. Certainly, something is not right and there is a conflict of interest.

This brings me to Medishield Life. It is a non-profit, mandatory hospitalization insurance for Singaporeans and PRs administered by CPF, a government statutory board. As the entity representing the people, Medishield Life has a duty to ensure that the people get their money’s worth for every cent that they pay in insurance premium.

Yet, Medishield Life and MOH Holdings both report to the Government. What is to prevent the Government from getting Medishield Life to increase premiums so that MOH Holdings can have a better bottom line?

Therefore, decisions to increase premiums cannot be made unilaterally, but has to be debated in parliament. Medishield Life has to be transparent with its accounts and MPs have to scrutinize all financial assumptions, including basis for so-called medical inflation.

Unfortunately, we now live in a business-run society. Public good that were once provided by the state for a minimal sum, is now privatized to seek maximum profit, benefiting a small segment of society enormously. The people have to be ever vigilant.

Andrew

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Inconsiderate Ladies Hog Starbucks Tables Despite Covid19 Measures

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According to reader Kayo, two studious ladies occupied a corner table at the ION Orchard Starbucks branch despite not ordering any drinks. Our reader was at Starbucks on the morning of 25 Oct when these two ladies walked in, sat at a table and simply started to use their laptops.

When the ladies did not order anything from the cafe, our reader thought they were just waiting for the breakfast to be over. Instead they conveniently placed a Starbucks cup of water on their table.

It was until an hour later when one of the Starbucks staff went up to these ladies to ask if they have ordered anything. One of the ladies gave a hushed reply. After 5 to 10 minutes later, both ladies packed their stuff and left the premises.

Our reader recalled seeing these same ladies while passing by a nearby The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch. They were using the power outlets and just as busy doing their studies or work.

Our reader feels these ladies should be mindful not to occupy tables for hours as eateries like Starbucks, Coffee Bean, McDonald's are not the place to study and occupy the place for a small cup coffee. Things are worse now that eateries have lesser tables for genuine customers due to Covid19 safe distancing measures. These places will lose business if such inconsiderate people continue to hog tables for hours.

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Architect Tay Kheng Soon: Singapore Must Think Beyond The Defunct LKY Vision

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NUS professor and veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon believes Singapore needs to have a new vision beyond the defunct Lee Kuan Yew vision of a "Global City." Noticing how the Covid19 pandemic has wrecked the global economy, Tay Kheng Soon says it shows the vulnerabilities and outdatedness of LKY's vision. The world has changed since Singapore achieved its status as a Global City.

Singapore needs to move beyond being a little red dot that services the world. Even though Singapore is a small country, the new vision has to focus on using our resources, infrastructure, banks, logistics, education, connections and most of all our Asia-ness to start an ASEAN rebirth.

Tay Kheng Soon believes this new vision can be achieved in the following ways:

1. Start by renewing our own democratic spirit and grow opportunities with our neighbours within the next 5 to 10 years instead of being a victim of global stagnation.

2. Turn all our Universities, Polys, ITEs into work-study and social learning places. Once our youth are not only book smart but also life smart, divide the island into four self administrative regions N.S.E.W to employ our people both young and old in managing our own municipal affairs. This way people learn to govern themselves by creating many earn and learn community projects. This way we grow a new mindset.

3. Turn Singapore into Education City, where friendships formed with Asean Students who have lived and learned with us and their families can develop into strong regional bonds for our Regional economic future.

4. Establish a Green Regional Bank based on huge idle funds drawn from Offshore Accounts at 0.5% interest to finance the Greening of our Regional economy in a win-win arrangement. Once this establishes a robust Johore, Malaca, Sumatra, Batam and Singapore economy, this model will expand outwards to the whole of Asean and onwards to India, Europe, China and East Asia even as USA sinks into decay.

5. There will be a tremendous growth of opportunity for creative and innovative jobs for everyone.

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Minimum Wage: Even CPF Millionaire Guru Feels $1,522 Monthly Barely Enough For Retiree Couple

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Senior Minister of State (Health) and Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Koh Poh Koon came under fire over his comments about minimum wage. He disagreed with The Workers' Party (WP) proposal for a $1,300 monthly minimum wage and chose to defend his PAP's Progressive Wage Model (PWM) as a better alternative. He quoted statistics that around 56,000 workers (of whom 32,000 are full-time workers) earn less than $1,300 monthly after Workfare disbursements and CPF contributions by employers.

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh gave a fiery response asking why the PAP cannot consider covering these low-wage workers immediately because 32,000 is a significant number and they are also Singaporeans who need help. Koh Poh Koon claimed that retraining and upskilling these low-wage workers will benefit them more than implementing a minimum wage. Perhaps he thinks earning anything below $1,300 monthly at this moment is acceptable? 

As a sign of how disconnected from reality Koh Poh Koon is, even CPF millionaire guru Loo Cheng Chuan has spoken out against bringing home anything less than $1,300. In a recent blog post, Loo Cheng Chuan was surprised to learn that retiree HDB households get an average of $1,522 monthly for their retirement needs. He views that a $1,522 monthly retirement income is barely enough even for a retiree couple due to Singapore's high cost of living.

If millionaires like Loo Cheng Chuan feel $1,522 monthly is barely enough for a retiree couple, it is questionable how elite minister Koh Poh Koon feels low-wage Singaporean employees can survive with less than $1,300 monthly.

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TraceTogether: Singaporeans Acting Based On Privacy Concerns Face Potential Jail Time

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In a backpedaling move, PAP Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced the mandatory use of TraceTogether app or token before residents can enter popular venues. He said having a 70% population take up rate of TraceTogether is one of the requirements before Singapore can move into Phase 3. This sudden announcement about TraceTogether sparked a rush of people heading down to collection points to take their TraceTogether tokens.

Forcing the use of TraceTogether on the population sparked another round of suspicion and fears of privacy concerns through government surveillance. Some netizens concerned about protecting their privacy from the prying eyes of the government have allegedly taken steps to modify their TraceTogether tokens. Based on their online discussions, some have tried methods like removing the battery or swapping the token's QR code with another device.

However the government is not amused by these acts of tampering. The state media recently interviewed a lawyer who said people caught tampering with their devices are liable for jail under Singapore's wide array of laws. A lawyer Joshua Tong from Kalco Law explained those caught for causing physical damage or alterations to TraceTogether tokens may be committing an offence of mischief simpliciter. This particular offence carries a fine and/or a jail term of up to two years.

There is another offence which can lead to a jail term of up to 10 years and/or a fine if a person is found to have committed a mischievous act which disrupts a public health service. Further laws like the Computer Misuse Act state that those who gain unauthorised access to computer material face a fine up to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to two years. Then those caught for making unauthorised modifications to computer material can be fined up to $10,000 and/or a jail term up to three years.

Unfortunately with the threat of fines and jail terms, it seems the authorities can be capable of coming down hard on Singaporeans who are acting based on concerns about state surveillance.

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