REPORT ON PAGE 8
Giraffes Adhil and Balaji with Singapore Zoo curator Parmasivam Ramasamy, who brought them safely to Mandai from Mysuru in India after an arduous 22-hour inter-state road journey
and seven-day sea voyage.
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
OCTOBER 29, 2021
MCI (P) 034/10/2021
IN ARYAN CASE
THANKS TO SIA
Top court orders probe of government’s
alleged use of Pegasus spyware
India’s Supreme Court has ordered a panel of
experts to investigate whether Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s administration used the Pegasus
spyware for surveillance against opposition leaders,
activists, tycoons, judges and journalists.
The top court’s bench of three judges headed by
Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said in its order on
Wednesday that the possible violation of citizens’
right to privacy and free speech compelled it to seek
out the truth in the matter.
The government cannot always get a “free pass”
by using the argument of national security, the order
Probe against students for cheering Pakistan
Police have launched an investigation after several
hundred students in Kashmir celebrated India’s
recent defeat by Pakistan in the cricket World Cup.
Around 300 students in two Srinagar medical
colleges gathered in two hostels to watch the match
last Sunday and burst into celebrations when
Pakistan crushed India in Dubai.
On Tuesday, police opened two investigations
under the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act
(UAPA) and raided one of the hostels, but no one
India rejects net zero carbon emissions target
India on Wednesday rejected calls to announce a net
zero carbon emissions target and said it was more
important for the world to lay out a pathway to
reduce such emissions and avert a dangerous rise in
India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of
greenhouse gases after China and the United States,
is under pressure to announce plans to become
carbon neutral by mid-century or thereabouts at
next week’s climate conference in Glasgow.
But Environment Secretary R.P.Gupta said that
announcing net zero was not the solution to the
Bollywood stars, Indian celebrities launch
NFTs amid global craze
Indian celebrities from Bollywood and cricket are
increasingly launching digital memorabilia through
non-fungible tokens (NFT), hoping to rake in
thousands of dollars by cashing in on growing
interest in such assets.
NFTs are a type of digital asset which use
blockchain to record the ownership of items such as
images, videos and other collectibles. Their roaring
popularity has baffled many but the explosive
growth shows no sign of abating.
Kalamandalam admits girl students for first
time in 90 years
Kerala Kalamandalam that teaches the globally
recognised art form of Kerala – Kathakali – has for
the first time admitted girl students.
In class 7, out of the 10 students admitted, nine
Kathakali is a highly masculine art form with
even the female characters being portrayed by men.
Unnatural deaths of elephants in Assam
A lactating elephant died due to electrocution in
Golaghat district last Sunday, registering unnatural
deaths of two pachyderms in 10 days in Assam.
On Oct 15, a six-year-old elephant was found
dead in a paddy field at Shantipara under
Kanyakuchi Reserve Forest in Goalpara district.
At least 13 elephants have been killed this year
in various parts of Assam by illegal electric fences
put up by farmers to protect their crops.
School girl turns to YouTube for delivering
baby at home
A 17-year-old schoolgirl in Kerala delivered a baby
at her home on Oct 20 while watching YouTube for
According to doctors, the mother and child are
A police officer at the Kondotty police station in
Malappurram district told IANS that a 22-year-old
man, who was allegedly having an affair with the
girl, has been arrested.
Train turns back to save woman, newborn
The Ananda Vihar-Bhuvaneshwar Sampark Kranti
Express was reversed on Wednesday to enable a
woman to deliver a baby.
The train, en route to Bhubaneshwar from Tata
Nagar, went back 2.5km to Khasmahal station,
where a railways medical team rushed Ms Ranu Das
to the Sadar Hospital in Khasmahal.
She later delivered a baby girl.
500,000 people sing Kannada songs to spread
love for language
In a unique programme to promote the Kannada
language, the Karnataka government called upon
500,000 people across the state to simultaneously
sing three songs on Thursday.
The programme was organised ahead of Kannada
Rajyotsava celebrations to mark unification of all
Kannada speaking regions.
Man orders iPhone, gets soap bar
A man from Kerala ordered an Apple iPhone 12
from Amazon but received a bar of soap and a coin
instead earlier this month.
Mr Noorul Ameen later told Mathrubhumi.com
that his account has been credited with the
Rs 70,900 he paid to buy the phone using an
Amazon Pay card.
Ganguly quits director post to avoid conflict of
Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly quit
his position as a director of Indian Super League
football club ATK Mohun Bagan on Wednesday.
His move is seen as a bid to avoid conflict of
interest as RPSG group, which owns Mohun Bagan,
won the rights for the new Indian Premier League
cricket team Lucknow on Monday.
Dengue cases cross 1,000 in Delhi
A South Delhi Municipal
Corporation (SDMC) worker
fumigating an area to prevent
mosquito breeding in
New Delhi on Wednesday.
India’s capital has
witnessed a sharp increase in
the number of dengue
infections with 283 cases
reported over the past week.
The new cases have
pushed the total tally to
1,006 since the beginning of
this year, according to the
“One death due to dengue
and a total of 1,006 cases
have been recorded this
season, which is the highest
case count since 2018 for the
same period,” it said.
The highest number of
dengue deaths in New Delhi
in a single year was reported
in 2015 when a deadly
outbreak claimed at least
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Channel Excellence Lead
Mr Sameer Wankhede and (right) private investigator K.P. Gosavi with Aryan Khan after his
Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB)
zonal officer Sameer Wankhede was
questioned on Wednesday for nearly
hours in Mumbai in connection
with the bribery allegations against
him, which is being investigated inter-
nally by the Indian anti-drugs agency.
The officer will stay in charge of the
cruise ship raids case – in which
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh
Khan’s son Aryan Khan was arrested
on Oct 2 – unless substantial informa-
tion is found against him, senior NCB
officer Gyaneshwar Singh said, accord-
ing to news agency ANI.
Mr Singh added that the probe
team has collected documents and
other evidence from Mr Wankhede
and he has submitted his version on
the issue. “If needed, we shall probe
further and ask for more documents in
the case,” Mr Singh said.
Earlier this week, bribery allega-
tions were made against Mr Wankhede
by a man named as a witness in the
The officer is also facing a series of
allegations from Maharashtra Minister
Nawab Malik which range from extor-
tion to illegal phone tapping and
getting into the Scheduled Castes
quota through forged documents.
The NCB asked its vigilance section
to investigate the issue – stung by
allegations made by Mr Prabhakar
Sail, a bodyguard to private investiga-
tor K.P. Gosavi, whose selfie with
Aryan after his arrest went viral.
Mr Sail alleged that Mr Gosavi
planned to demand Rs 18 crore ($3.2
million) from Shah Rukh’s manager
Pooja Dadlani to get Aryan released, a
portion of which was earmarked for
“Mr Gosavi said they should ask
for a ‘bomb 25 crore’ and then settle
at 18 crore, of which 8 crore was for
Sameer Wankhede,” Mr Sail said in
Mr Gosavi told NDTV that he has
no knowledge about this.
“I’m hearing this for the first time,”
he said, adding that he had not met
Mr Wankhede before Oct 2.
Mr Wankhede wrote to Mumbai
Police commissioner Hemant Nagrale
seeking protection from possible legal
action against him by unknown per-
sons to “falsely frame him concerning
an alleged vigilance-related issue”.
He, however, failed to get any
action from court when he filed an
affidavit on the issue.
A special court said it cannot pass a
blanket order barring courts from tak-
ing notice of the document.
The NCB has backed the officer,
saying in a statement on Monday that
he has an “impeccable service record”.
Meanwhile, Mr Gosavi, NCB’s con-
troversial “independent witness” in
the drugs-on-cruise-ship case, was de-
tained in Pune on Thursday, three days
after he claimed he would surrender at
a police station in Uttar Pradesh’s
Mr Gosavi, against whom a lookout
notice was put out for his involvement
in a cheating case lodged in 2018, had
said that he wanted to surrender to
the Uttar Pradesh Police as he felt
“threatened” in Maharashtra. The Luc-
know Police later refuted the claims.
Mr Gosavi was present during the
cruise ship raid earlier this month and
later at the NCB office with Aryan.
His selfie and videos with Aryan at
both places indicated that he had
unlimited access to Shah Rukh’s son.
It fuelled questions from Maharash-
tra’s ruling alliance about the anti-
drugs agency’s investigation.
Several political leaders questioned
why an “independent witness” of the
agency was present at the raid and its
office and taking selfies with the
Asked about his involvement in the
Aryan case, Mr Gosavi earlier told
India Today: “I have to sort out the
case in Pune but NCB officials who
have come from Delhi have sent me
summons. They went to my residence
in Mumbai but it was locked. They are
tracing my location through the depart-
ment and private agencies, which is
why I am not switching my cell phone
“I will go to the NCB office in
Mumbai and record my statement
before going to Pune.”
Indo-Asian News Service
Lead investigator in Aryan case questioned
Economy to grow at faster than usual pace
After suffering fits and starts for
most of 2021, the Singapore econ-
omy is now set to grow at a faster
than usual pace, with economic
output already returning to its pre-
pandemic level in the third quarter,
the central bank said on Thursday.
With the resurgence of Covid-19
a lingering threat, the Monetary
Authority of Singapore (MAS) also
expects rising inflation – both at
home and abroad – to challenge
the outlook for Singapore’s trade-
But, if all goes well, MAS said
the growth momentum in the last
three months of the year and
through 2022 would be supported
by ebbing infection waves of
Covid-19 and rising vaccination
rates worldwide, allowing more
countries – including Singapore –
to gradually lift pandemic-related
curbs on economic activity.
In its macroeconomic review re-
leased on Thursday, MAS kept its
2021 forecast for Singapore’s gross
domestic product (GDP) growth at
6 per cent to 7 per cent and said
expansion in 2022 should be
slower but still “above-trend”.
With regards to “above-trend”
growth, economists estimate that
the Singapore economy has ex-
panded at an average of 2 per cent
to 3 per cent in the last several
years before the pandemic.
Most of them have pencilled
GDP growth of 4 per cent to 5 per
cent for 2022.
The Straits Times
New Covid-19 cases breach 5,000 mark
There were 5,324 new Covid-19 infections
reported in Singapore on Wednesday by the
Ministry of Health (MOH), the first time the
daily case number has breached the 5,000
The ministry said the infection numbers
were unusually high because many Covid-19
cases were detected by testing laboratories
within a few hours on Wednesday afternoon.
It added that it is looking into the “unusual
surge in cases within a relatively short
window” and will closely monitor the trend
for the next few days.
Digital IC in Singpass app can be used
to access public services in person
From Nov 1, all government agencies will
accept digital ICs when individuals use or
apply for public services in person, the Smart
Nation and Digital Government Office
(SNDGO) and Government Technology
Agency (GovTech) said on Thursday.
Besides patient registration, the digital IC
can also be used to book appointments at
public clinics, register at government
buildings for entry, borrow books from
public libraries, collect passports, as well as
book Housing Board flats and pick up the
Watten Estate Condominium in
Bukit Timah goes for $550.8 million
A joint venture between UOL Group and
Singapore Land Group (SingLand) has won
the tender for Watten Estate Condominium
in Bukit Timah with a $550.8 million bid.
If successfully completed, it will be
Singapore’s biggest residential collective sale
by quantum to date this year.
Subsidy clawback, 10-year MOP for new
prime location HDB flats
Future Housing Board (HDB) flats built in
prime, central locations will be subjected to a
10-year minimum occupation period (MOP)
and additional subsidies will be clawed back
by the Government upon their resale.
These are among the key measures under
a new prime location public housing (PLH)
model, aimed at keeping prime HDB flats
affordable and inclusive, announced by
National Development Minister Desmond
Lee on Tuesday.
The first Build-to-Order (BTO) project
under this model will be located in Rochor
and launched next month.
Pump prices rise for the fourth time in
Pump prices are up again – the fourth time in
three weeks – in an ascending trend that
could see the most popular 95-octane fuel
hitting $3 a litre by next year, and the
priciest “special” grades crossing $4.
The latest increase was by Caltex on
Wednesday. A litre of 92-octane is now
$2.65 before discount at Caltex, while 95 is
listed at $2.69, diesel at $2.23 and a special
98-grade at $3.32.
Both 95-octane and diesel match Shell’s
prices and are up to 11 cents higher than
Hotel occupancy hits year-to-date high
Hotel occupancies and revenue per available
room (RevPAR) were at their highest all year
last month, Singapore Tourism Board (STB)
The latest uptick took overall hotel
industry room revenue to $79.1 million, up
from $68.6 million in August.
International arrivals rose by 19.7 per
cent month on month to 19,000 travellers –
led by mainland China, which sent 8,950
visitors last month, against 8,900 in August.
Digital transformation and public
health cooperation are priority ar-
eas Singapore is committed to pur-
suing as coordinator for Asean-In-
dia relations, said Prime Minister
Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday.
Speaking on the last of three
days of virtual meetings with lead-
ers from across the region, PM Lee
said the 10-nation Asean bloc
could tap on India’s vibrant technol-
ogy and start-up scene to grow and
facilitate finance and trade in practi-
There is also much scope for
collaboration on creating interopera-
ble digital financial systems that are
inclusive and present more opportu-
nities for communities and busi-
nesses on both sides, he told his
counterparts and Indian PM Naren-
dra Modi at the Asean-India sum-
On health, including Covid-19
vaccine provision and distribution,
PM Lee pointed out that India
plays a critical role in the global
pharmaceutical supply chain.
Singapore, as an aviation and
transhipment hub with robust cold
chain capabilities, can support India
as an effective vaccine tranship-
ment point for Southeast Asia and
beyond, he added.
In an opening statement deliv-
ered in Singapore’s capacity as
country coordinator for Asean-In-
dia dialogue relations, PM Lee
noted that to commemorate 30
years of ties, 2022 would be desig-
nated as a “Friendship Year” be-
tween the two parties.“We can do
much more together,” he said.
On tackling the pandemic,
PM Lee said Asean welcomes In-
dia’s move to resume exports of
safe and effective vaccines, includ-
ing to the Covid-19 Vaccine Global
Access (Covax) Facility.
The world’s largest vaccine-
maker stopped exports in April to
focus on inoculating its own popula-
tion as infections mounted. Last
month, India announced that, with
supplies increasing, it would start
exporting vaccines again from Octo-
ber, prioritising the worldwide shar-
ing platform Covax.
Asean also values India’s sup-
port for the bloc’s principle of
centrality, amid an evolving re-
gional architecture, said PM Lee.
He added it was important to
promote synergies between the
Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific
and India’s own Indo-Pacific
Oceans Initiative to “enhance mu-
tual trust, respect and benefit”.
The Outlook is a 2019 docu-
ment presenting a collective re-
gional voice on security issues seen
as a response to the Quad grouping
of Australia, India, Japan and the
On Wednesday, at the East Asia
Summit involving Asean and eight
external partners, Mr Modi reaf-
firmed India’s focus on a free, open
and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
On Thursday, Mr Modi noted
that Covid-19 was a test of the
India-Asean friendship and both
sides’ mutual cooperation during
this challenging time formed a base
for goodwill between their peoples.
“History is a witness that India
and Asean have had lively relations
for thousands of years. It is re-
flected in our shared values, tradi-
tions, languages, scriptures, architec-
ture, culture, food,” he added.
“That is why the unity and central-
ity of Asean has always been a
priority for India.”
The Straits Times
PM Lee: Asean, India can prioritise
cooperation on digital
transformation, public health
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