Daily recap, September 12: Guarantees for Singapore’s new work permit; former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi suffering from dementia; Japan to ease tourist visa rules

Let’s catch up on the stories of the day.

Singapore will put safeguards in place to ensure that a new work pass for top talent is not abused, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told parliament on Monday (August 12).

The Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass (ONE Pass) is a new five-year work pass in Singapore with a monthly salary threshold of S$30,000 or more.

Dr Tan said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was already carrying out pre-checks to weed out potential cases of misrepresentation of wages and this would also apply to all ONE Pass applications. Once the application is approved, MOM will continue to engage pass holders during their stay in Singapore, he added.

Applicants who do not meet the salary threshold may also apply if they have outstanding achievement in the arts, sports, sciences or academia.

When asked how these talents would be assessed, Dr. Tan said these candidates would be able to “help us push new frontiers, attract more investment and interest to grow our local ecosystem and, above all, to create a wide range of opportunities for Singaporeans”. .

He said the pass is not intended to be used as a visit or travel document and that “MOM reserves the right to cancel the pass if there are long periods of economic inactivity without good reason” .

Along with the ONE Pass, other adjustments will be made to Singapore’s working environment, such as a higher benchmark salary for top PE holders to be exempted from certain requirements. Dr Tan said these changes are not a relaxation of existing policies.

Responding to questions on whether the increase in tax revenue collected in the 2021/22 financial year could help postpone the planned increase in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2023 and 2024, the Minister of Finance, Lawrence Wong said Singapore could not rely on collections such as stamp duty. as a stable and sustainable source of income to meet growing recurrent expenditure needs.

Wong, who is also deputy prime minister, noted that these revenues can fluctuate from year to year.

S$60.7 billion in tax revenue was collected in the 2021/22 financial year, a 22.4% jump on the previous year as the economy rebounded after the easing of restrictions related to COVID-19. The increase was also driven by higher-than-expected “sentiment-based” revenue collections.

Wong said the increased tax revenue was being used to meet new spending needs, including enhancements to the Graduated Wage Credit Program, as well as to provide short-term relief to businesses and families.

On inflation, Wong said the GST hike will continue as planned despite rising inflation, but the government will “also ensure that the majority of Singaporean households do not feel the impact. of the GST increase for at least five years, while low-income households will not feel the impact for about 10 years.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has dementia, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also Abdullah’s son-in-law.

Abdullah, affectionately known as Pak Lah, was Malaysia’s fifth prime minister, serving between 2003 and 2009.

According to Khairy, Abdullah’s condition is deteriorating and he cannot remember the names of his family members. “He can recognize them; he seems to, but he’s gotten to the level of having difficulty speaking,” Khairy said.

Khairy also said it was difficult for the family to watch Abdullah’s cognitive function deteriorate.

The Japanese government plans to scrap tourist visa requirements from some countries, local media reported on Monday (September 12).

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could decide as early as this week on the easing, which would also allow individual travelers to visit Japan without bookings from travel agencies. The government could also remove the daily cap on arrivals by October.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has removed most of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including the need for tourists to get vaccinated to visit the country.

North Korea has formally enshrined the right to use preemptive nuclear strikes to protect itself in a new law that leader Kim Jong Un says makes its nuclear status “irreversible” and bans denuclearization talks.

The law comes as North Korea appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.

CNA takes a closer look at what North Korea’s new law entails and what it could mean for neighboring countries as well as the United States.

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