‘Train vandal’ faces caning
A Swiss man has been arrested on suspicion of breaking into a high-security subway depot and spray-painting graffiti on a train, an offence punishable by caning, police said yesterday. “We confirm that a 33-year-old Swiss male national has been arrested in relation to the case,” a spokesman for the Singapore Police Force said. Subway operator SMRT said it was helping police with the investigation, but gave no further information. The Straits Times newspaper reported yesterday that the suspect was believed to have cut his way into the depot, a restricted zone surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire. Vandalism is punishable in Singapore by three to eight strokes of the cane as well as jail terms of up to three years and a maximum fine of S$2,000 (US$1,424).
Government hikes wages
The government has launched a round of minimum wage hikes to address the nation’s widening income gap, following growing labor disputes and a string of worker suicides, state media said yesterday. The minimum monthly salary in the capital will be raised 20 percent to 960 yuan (US$141) from July 1, the Global Times reported. The hike is about double the average annual increase of 10.02 percent since the city introduced a minimum wage system in 1994, the newspaper said. Beijing is one of around 30 provinces and municipalities across China that have raised or will increase their minimum wages this year, the report said, citing government figures. After recent hikes, Shanghai now has the highest minimum salary in the country at 1,120 yuan a month, the paper said. This year’s hikes come amid a debate over China’s fast economic growth and its poorly paid laborers sparked by a spate of suicides by frustrated factory workers.
Tropical cyclone weakens
Tropical Cyclone Phet hit the coast of the Gulf state on Thursday, but weakened from a Category 4 storm down to a Category 2, leaving oil and liquefied natural gas production unharmed. “So far, none of our productions or operations have been affected,” state-controlled Petroleum Development Oman said. “However, we are watching the situation very closely.” Oman’s crude oil is exported through the port of Mina al-Fahal, near the capital Muscat to the west. Muscat was to the east of the latest storm path forecast on Thursday, but Omani meteorologists said the capital would feel the affects of the cyclone yesterday and today.
Agency lauds ‘super drink’
Pyongyang is singing the praises of a “super drink” which apparently multiplies brain cells. The often-shrill KCNA state news agency softened its tone to advertise an anti-oxidation drink made by the Moranbong Carbonated Fruit Juice Joint Venture Company which contains 60 kinds of “microelements” extracted from more than 30 species of plants. “It, with effects of both preventive and curative treatment, helps improve mental and retentive faculties by multiplying brain cells,” the agency said. “It also protects skin from wrinkles and black spots and prevents such geriatric diseases as cerebral hemorrhage, myocardium and brain infarction by removing acid effete matters in time.” That is not all, KCNA said. It also makes skin fair. Company manager Jong Song Ho, 38, told KCNA that the drink was particularly “efficacious” among workers at a thermal power station, smelter and at medical institutions.