SINGAPORE: Retrenchments rose in the first quarter of the year, driven by losses in the manufacturing sector, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (Jun 13).
According to MOM, retrenchments increased from 2,510 in the previous quarter to 3,230 in the first three months of 2019.
This, the ministry added, was driven by manufacturing (from 380 in the previous quarter to 1,040) and primarily affected production and related workers from electronics.
Electronics formed 18 per cent of retrenchments in the first quarter, followed by services industries such as wholesale trade (16 per cent) and transportation and storage (10 per cent).
Overall, the labour market held up in the first quarter, said MOM.
Total employment rates climbed higher than that of the same period last year, growing by about 10,700, excluding foreign domestic workers.
The services sector was the main driver of total employment growth, while construction posted its first employment gain in three years, reflecting an increase in both public and private sector construction activities.
"The tightness in the labour market may ease, as job vacancies declined for the first time in two years and retrenchments rose in this quarter," MOM said.
RESIDENT LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DIPS
The resident unemployment rate held steady at 3 per cent, while long-term unemployment rate declined from 0.8 per cent in December 2018 to 0.7 per cent in March 2019.
Among retrenched residents, professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) continued to make up the majority (69 per cent), as they form a higher share of the workforce, and were more prone to retrenchments
The six-month re-entry rate among retrenched residents rose for the second consecutive quarter to 66 per cent.
However, citizen unemployment rate rose slightly from 3.1 per cent in December 2018 to 3.2 per cent in March 2019. Seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rates remained unchanged at 2.2 per cent.
MORE JOB VACANCIES THAN SEEKERS, DESPITE DECLINE IN VACANCIES
The seasonally adjusted number of job vacancies declined from 62,300 in December 2018 to 57,100 in March 2019, the first decline after seven consecutive quarters of increase.
However, in the first quarter of the year, there continued to be more job vacancies than job seekers, despite the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipping slightly from 1.10 in December 2018 to 1.08 in March 2019.
SCDF ragging trial: I've never witnessed a 'kolam' ritual but I would've stopped it, says station commander
SINGAPORE: The commander of the Tuas View Fire Station, where full-time national serviceman (NSF) Kok Yuen Chin was pushed into a pump well and drowned, said on Thursday (Jun 13) that he had never seen nor participated in the "kolam" ragging ritual before.
Taking the stand in the trial against his subordinates, rota commander Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon and deputy commander First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, Major (MAJ) Huang Weikang told the court he had never seen a kolam incident before, although he knew what it entailed.
It means that "someone eventually will end up in the pump well", he explained.
MAJ Huang's subordinates are contesting a charge each of causing grievous hurt to 22-year-old Corporal (CPL) Kok by a rash act, by not stopping their men from putting him in the well. CPL Kok was pushed in and drowned, with officers retrieving his body 36 minutes after he fell in, on May 13 last year.
MAJ Huang, who was the fire station commander at Tuas View Fire Station from August 2016 to December 2018 and is now a senior fire investigator at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), said he had never been a victim of ragging nor been part of a kolam ritual himself.
He told the court he was not at the fire station on the fateful day as it was a Sunday and he was not working.
I WAS PUZZLED, SAID MAJ HUANG
"I remember that night, I was at home," he said, describing when he first heard about the incident. "At about nine plus, I received a call from (rota commander) Kenneth."
He said he wondered why Chong called him as it "was odd" for him to call him at night unless it was important.
Swallowing, MAJ Huang said: "I cannot remember his exact words, but he told me something along the lines of CPL Kok falling into the kolam and (how they could not) find his body."
"Initially, I was of course puzzled over why CPL Kok was in the pump well. And what did they mean (when they said) they could not find his body?" MAJ Huang continued.
"The pump well is very narrow, (it has a) circular structure, so I was confused by that statement so I probed further, asked him what happened again and I think Kenneth updated that he was trying to suck out the water to find him (CPL Kok)."
MAJ Huang said that the pump well is used to test that the pumps of the fire engines are able to draw water from an open source and use that water. The well was usually filled almost to the brim, with a barricade around it to prevent people from falling in, he added.
MAJ Huang said he told Chong to continue with the rescue operation as the former called his superior to tell him about the incident.
He then made his way to the fire station, while receiving calls from both SCDF headquarters' operations centre and Chong.
When he got there, there was "a lot of equipment all over the place", with officers standing around and paramedics attending to CPL Kok. CPL Kok was taken to hospital where he died, and the cause of death was drowning.
"THERE ARE STORIES WE CAN'T PROVE"
MAJ Huang told the court that if he had been in the control room when the term "kolam" was mentioned, he would have "definitely (been) more alert as to why in a celebratory moment there was the mention of the word kolam and what it might suggest".
When asked why he would have been more alert, MAJ Huang said: "I mean, these (kolam activities many years ago) are stories we can't prove, but it's at the back of the head that the guys in front of you - in a celebration moment ... they might do it ... to CPL Kok. They might put him into the kolam."
He added that if he had seen the men carrying CPL Kok towards the pump well, he "would have stopped it because this is an act of ragging and it's a dangerous act of ragging".
The men would have stopped, he said, "because it's an order".
MAJ Huang told the court that ragging "runs counter to SCDF's philosophy of caring for its personnel" and that NSFs who join the force are told about ragging and other common offences they might encounter.
Defining ragging, MAJ Huang said it referred to any action, physical or verbal, that could cause bodily harm to a person, whether or not the subject is willing.
He said he would not have left the scene when the men were gathered around the pump well, as Nazhan did, and instead would have asked them "What do (you) think (you) are doing here?"
There were anti-ragging posters placed around the fire station, in the dormitory as well as near the lockers as these were where groups gathered and where there could be a risk of ragging, said MAJ Huang.
He also said he would not have left the matter to those under him in rank, he said.
"They are already doing something I'm uncomfortable with, to delegate my responsibility to them might not be the best option for me," said MAJ Huang.
He told the court that he knew Chong to be "a responsible rota commander", hardworking and going out of his way to complete tasks assigned to him, while Nazhan was "quite involved in the rota" as he would be present with his officers even during physical training.
"CPL Kok is a very good boy," he said. "You tell him things, he is very obliging, he will listen to you. He will follow instructions."
CPL Kok's father sat in the court on Thursday, watching the videos of his son smiling in the control room during the cake-cutting ceremony for his Operationally Ready Date, and being carried towards the pump well.
The trial is slated to run until Jun 21.
WELLINGTON: A New Zealand court stopped a murder suspect being extradited to China Tuesday (Jun 11), saying it could not send a suspect to a country where torture was "widespread" and "systemic".
The Court of Appeal quashed a ministerial decision to extradite Kyung Kim to China, saying to do so when there was a risk he would be tortured breached New Zealand's international obligations.
The 99-page judgement, which included a damning assessment of Beijing's justice system, comes amid huge protests by Hong Kong residents against laws allowing extraditions to mainland China.
Kim's lawyer Tony Ellis said the decision was a precedent-setting human rights victory.
"It is a judgement that has profound human rights importance which will resonate throughout the Common Law world, it is not just important in New Zealand," he said in a statement.
Kim, a Korean national who has lived in New Zealand for 30 years, is accused of murdering 20-year-old Chinese woman Pei Yun Chen while he was visiting Shanghai in 2009.
Kim was arrested in New Zealand in 2011 and Beijing asked for his extradition after giving assurances that he would not face the death penalty if convicted.
After a lengthy legal process that included two ministerial reviews, New Zealand in 2015 decided to extradite him - the first time it had agreed to a suspect being sent to face trial in a Chinese court.
But Tuesday's 99-page court ruling halted that process and ordered a third ministerial review, while raising questions about the Chinese legal system.
While the three-judge appeal panel conceded "a cultural shift away from torture in the PRC (People's Republic of China) is under way", it gave little weight to Chinese assurances Kim would receive a fair trial.
"Torture remains widespread and confessions obtained through torture are regularly admitted in evidence," the judgement said.
"It logically follows, we consider, that there are inadequate systems in the PRC to prevent torture."
It added: "Torture is illegal yet remains widespread because of cultural and systemic features of the PRC criminal justice system."
Other issues identified by the judges included political influence on the criminal justice system and the harassment of defence lawyers.
Kim spent five years in jail after his arrest and is currently on bail in Auckland.
His case will now go back to Justice Minister Andrew Little for review, although Kim's lawyer Ellis argued there was little chance of extradition given the "profound and important" questions posed by the Court of Appeal judgement.
8 including traffic police officer, paramedic injured in back-to-back accidents at same spot along PIE
SINGAPORE: A total of eight people were injured in a series of accidents that occurred at the same site along the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) on Sunday (Jun 9).
In a statement, police said they were alerted at about 11.15am to an accident involving two cars and a tipper truck along the PIE towards the direction of Changi Airport, before the Bukit Timah Expressway exit.
“Two motorcyclists had also self-skidded in separate accidents, at the location of the first accident, after it occurred,” police added.
The authorities said that after the traffic police and Singapore Civil Defence Force had arrived, another accident happened, with a car self-skidding at the same site.
"The car hit a 30-year-old Traffic Police officer and a 26 year-old SCDF Paramedic who were attending to the earlier accidents, and the two motorcyclists, aged 35 and 37, who were moving their bikes away to avoid obstructing traffic," said police.
Four others, aged between 25 and 69, who had been involved in the earlier accidents, were also indirectly injured by the impact.
All eight injured were conscious when taken to hospital.
The 44-year-old driver of the third car was arrested for committing a rash act causing grievous hurt.
A video collage on Facebook showed the traffic police motorcycle laying on its side behind two cars that had come into contact with each other. There was also footage of one of the cars skidding into another lane and colliding with the other car, as well as that of a man sliding across the tarmac after being hit by a third car.
SCDF officer who pushed NSF Kok Yuen Chin into well describes incident he has guilt, nightmares over
SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer who pushed full-time national serviceman Kok Yuen Chin into a pump well at a fire station, causing his death, took the witness stand on Tuesday (Jun 11).
Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, 34, gave testimony for the prosecution in the trial against rota commander and deputy commander Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 38, and First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41.
The two men are contesting charges of causing grievous hurt to 22-year-old Corporal Kok by not stopping the servicemen at the fire station from making Cpl Kok enter the pump well.
Staff Sgt Fatwa, who is currently on home detention while serving his sentence of one year and four weeks meted out in October last year, told the court that Cpl Kok was well-liked by the other officers and that he personally considered him a friend.
On the day of the incident, Cpl Kok was smiling when told about "kolam" or the ritual of entering the 12m-deep pump well, he said.
The prosecution showed a series of videos to Staff Sgt Fatwa that showed Cpl Kok smiling with a cake to celebrate his impending Operationally Ready Date (ORD) in a control room at Tuas View Fire Station on May 13 last year, along with videos of Cpl Kok being carried by a group of men to the pump well that night.
Staff Sgt Fatwa, who appeared leaner than when he was first charged in court over the incident, told the court that 1SWO Nazhan and Lt Chong were in the control room when Cpl Kok's cake-cutting ceremony and plaque presentation took place.
The video showed Cpl Kok grinning as the men laughed in the background, and he later gave a speech, which was not shown in court. Staff Sgt Fatwa said Cpl Kok told the group that he loved them and thanked them, and he received a plaque from Lt Chong.
When Staff Sgt Fatwa told Cpl Kok "come, go kolam", the younger man smiled and told him "no, Encik", a term used to address someone older and more senior in rank.
While the "teasing" was going on in the control room, neither Lt Chong nor 1SWO Nazhan said or did anything, he said.
Staff Sgt Fatwa said that while Cpl Kok was being carried to the pump well from the control room at about 9pm, he thought he would enter the well voluntarily "for sure".
LT CHONG TOLD GROUP NOT TO FILM
At one point in the closed-circuit television footage shown to the court, the group of about 10 men gathered near the pump well raised their hands and showed their phones.
This was in response to Lt Chong telling the group not to film the incident, said Staff Sgt Fatwa, who was unable to recall where exactly Lt Chong was at that point.
Clips shown to the court depicted Cpl Kok removing parts of his clothing and belongings, while Corporal Sok Leng also took off his boots.
This was because Cpl Sok Leng was a swimming instructor and a good swimmer, said Staff Sgt Fatwa.
Before 1SWO Nazhan left the scene, he is shown raising his arm near the well. Staff Sgt Fatwa explained that he did this as he was telling Cpl Kok to jump nearer to the edge of the well if he could not swim.
Staff Sgt Fatwa, who is due for early release in July, told the court that he did not know that Cpl Kok could not swim.
He also said that nobody instructed the group to stop the activity, and said that if Lt Chong or 1SWO Nazhan had told him to stop, he would have as they were his supervisors.
After he is shown pushing Cpl Kok into the well, following an alleged suggestion by co-accused First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh, the men are seen scurrying around and removing their boots.
WE PANICKED, I DOVE IN BUT IT WAS DIFFICULT: WITNESS
"We started to panic," said Staff Sgt Fatwa. "Because Cpl Kok didn't resurface."
He said he had not known the actual depth of the well, which was 12m-deep and measured 1.8m across, and had never seen the bottom of the well before.
He had not been inside the well at Tuas View Fire Station before, but said he had been inside the well at Jurong Fire Station as part of horseplay between 2007 and 2009 when he began service there.
The men who jumped into the murky water to look for Cpl Kok included 1WO Farid, Cpl Sok Leng and himself, said Staff Sgt Fatwa.
Sharing about his own attempt, he said he dove in legs-first and tried several times but could not find Cpl Kok.
The men used tools including a ladder, a lifebuoy and ropes in their attempts, and began drawing the water out of the well even as rescue attempts continued.
After some water was taken out, Cpl Sok Leng noticed a smaller hole at the bottom of the well. This was 6m deep, said the prosecutor.
Staff Sgt Fatwa then asked for breathing apparatus that the officers used for firefighting, and used it to dive into the water.
It was difficult without it, he said, as there was water pressure, discomfort in his ears and he could not hold his breath that long.
Another officer who was in the well with him managed to enter the small, square hole and retrieved Cpl Kok. Together they brought him to the surface, but he later died in hospital.
WITNESS SAYS HE HAS NIGHTMARES OVER INCIDENT, FEELS GUILTY
When cross-examined by Lt Chong's defence lawyer Wee Pan Lee, Staff Sgt Fatwa admitted that he has recurring nightmares about the incident and suffered insomnia.
He also feels guilt over it and saw a psychiatrist, he said.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan objected, saying the defence lawyer was trying to diagnose the witness on the stand.
The lawyer also questioned Staff Sgt Fatwa about whether he would be able to recall the incident without the assistance of the videos he was shown, but Staff Sgt Fatwa insisted that he could.
The officer, who has been suspended, told the court that SCDF is "very strict on ragging cases" and does not tolerate ragging.
However, when asked if he considered kolam to be ragging, he said: "I'm not so sure about that."
Staff Sgt Fatwa, who has served in SCDF for 14 years, said there was one other kolam incident at Tuas View Fire Station that he recalled, on the last day of an officer's service there.
The trial continues this afternoon and is slated to run until Jun 21.
If found guilty of causing grievous hurt by a rash act, the commanders face a maximum of four years' jail, a S$10,000 fine, or both.
Other than Staff Sgt Fatwa, Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi has also been sentenced, receiving one month's jail.
The remaining officer to be dealt with is 1WO Farid, who is set for a trial.
WASHINGTON: The photo of Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron planting an oak tree in the garden of the White House symbolised the friendship shown by the two leaders.
But relations between them have since frayed - over issues ranging from Iran to trade - and the tree, a diplomatic source said this week, did not survive.
The French president offered the young oak to Trump on the occasion of a state visit to Washington in 2018, and the two shoveled dirt around it under the watchful eyes of their wives - and cameras from around the world.
It was a symbolic gesture: The tree came from a northern French forest where 2,000 US Marines died during the First World War.
But a few days later, the tree was nowhere to be seen, having disappeared into quarantine.
"It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US," Gerard Araud, then the French ambassador to America, wrote on Twitter, adding that it would be replanted later.
But it was never replanted: The tree died during its quarantine, the diplomatic source said.
SINGAPORE: A vendor has been fined S$4,000 for a coding error that led to the disclosure of the personal data of more than 400 national servicemen last year.
The vendor, Option Gift, maintains Uniqrewards, an online portal through which NSmen redeem credits and gifts given by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for their good performance during in-camp training or courses, or to celebrate certain events, such as the birth of a child.
In June last year, MINDEF and MHA announced that the personal data of 427 NSmen who had redeemed credits for two rewards programme had been sent to each other after Option Gift deployed an erroneous programme script to send out confirmation emails.
The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) in a report on its decision on Thursday (Jun 6) said that Option Gift had failed to conduct sufficient testing before deploying the programme script.
"As the administrator of the portal, the organisation had full possession and control over the personal data that the portal collects, uses, discloses and processes at all material times," PDPC said in its report.
"Accordingly, the organisation had full responsibility for the security of the portal, any changes to it, as well as the personal data processed by it," it added.
ERROR FOUND IN SCRIPT THAT WAS WRITTEN TO RECTIFY AN INITIAL PROBLEM
The PDPC report showed an Option Gift employee had failed to reset a service account password before its expiry, resulting in the NSmen not receiving confirmation emails for redemption requests submitted between May 22 and 24 last year.
To rectify the issue, Option Gift wrote a script to regenerate and send out the confirmation emails.
However, instead of sending the confirmation email to only one intended recipient, an error caused the script to send the personal data of the NSmen – including log-in details, delivery address, email address and mobile numbers – to each other.
The report stated that the first recipient of the confirmation email received the message that was intended for him, along with the confirmation emails for the other 426 recipients.
The second recipient received the email that was intended for him, along with the confirmation emails for the other 425 recipients, with the pattern continuing until the last recipient.
"This error resulted in the personal data of up to 426 NSmen being accidentally disclosed," PDPC said in its report.
PREVENTING A RECURRENCE
Immediately after the incident was discovered, Option Gift emailed the affected NSmen to apologise and ask them to delete all emails not intended for them.
Option Gift also informed PDPC of the incident and offered the NSmen an S$80 gift voucher as a gesture of apology.
In addition, Option Gift has since introduced several measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident. This includes a secondary check on all future changes to the portal and enhanced review checks.
Improvements have also been made on the backend system to allow confirmation emails to be resent directly, and a new standard operating procedure to document resending of such emails.
Source codes now have to be reviewed by at least one other person as well as an application that will be used to detect bugs and vulnerabilities.
For failing to protect the personal data in its possession, Option Gift could have been fined up to S$1 million.
However, the commissioner took into consideration that Option Gift had voluntarily reported the breach and the company's full cooperation during the investigations, the PDPC report said.
It also noted that Option Gift took steps to mitigate the effects of the breach and corrective action to resolve system vulnerabilities.
“The commissioner has not set out any further directions for the organisation given the remediation measures already put in place,” the report said.
SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore's (NUS) Board of Trustees said on Monday (Jun 10) that it accepts "in full" the final recommendations made by the review committee on sexual misconduct, which were submitted earlier in the day.
The school convened the review committee in mid-April after undergraduate Monica Baey called for "justice" against a fellow student who filmed her having a shower at her hostel.
"The Board accepts the Committee's recommendations in full," said board chairman Hsieh Fu Hua in a statement. "We feel that the recommendations are informed, balanced and robust.
"It reflects our community's common desire for tougher penalties for offenders and greater support for victims, and for fostering an enduring culture of respect and support on campus."
The committee shared its preliminary recommendations last month, such as tougher penalties on offenders, including a minimum one-year suspension, a notation reflecting the suspension on the offender's transcript and expulsion for severe offences.
The committee also said it was reviewing the university's proposal for a dedicated care unit for victims of sexual misconduct cases.
A summary of the committee's final recommendations, which was disseminated to NUS students, staff and alumni on Monday, provided updates on these items.
There were 10 recommendations in total, the first of which was the aforementioned tougher penalties for sexual misconduct.
The committee reiterated the proposal for a minimum one-year suspension, which it elaborated cannot be overridden or removed by the Board of Discipline (BOD), as well as immediate expulsion for "severe instances or aggravated forms of offences of sexual misconduct".
It was also recommended that offenders have a notation of the length of their suspension on their academic transcripts, which can be expunged three years from the offender's date of degree conferment.
To guard against reoffending, offenders must also be certified fit by a counsellor and/or medical professional before they are allowed to return to campus after suspension.
In addition, a "no-contact protocol" would be established "to ensure that the victim and offender do not come into contact with each other ... for example, ensuring that they do not take the same classes or non-academic programmes".
In its recommendations, the committee said it supports NUS' plan to launch a new compulsory module, Respect and Consent Culture, which will begin in the 2019/2020 academic year.
"The Committee notes that the University will conduct first responder training commencing in June 2019 to ensure that all first responders know how to communicate and help victims. This would involve campus security officers, masters, resident fellows and residential advisers," said the committee.
On top of these, the committee also recommended that past cases on which the BOD had formally ruled and for which sanctions have been meted out, "cannot be reopened".
"Our recommended changes will form the basis of the University's tougher stance on sexual misconduct and discipline going forward," it said.
BETTER VICTIM SUPPORT
At least four of the recommendations were related to victim support.
In a bid to "give victims a greater voice in the disciplinary process", the committee recommended that they be kept up-to-date on the proceedings, allowed to fill a statement of facts before the BOD hearing, allowed to fill an impact statement and offer clarifications on it in front of the BOD, and given an avenue to request for a review of BOD outcomes in exceptional circumstances.
The committee also recommended that the BOD composition be reviewed to ensure adequate gender balance among members.
One of the recommendations involved the assignment of a care officer to each victim at the point an incident is reported, after the committee found that a single point-of-contact for victims had been lacking, "therefore risking a lack of continuity in victim care".
The care officer will accompany the victim in dealing with law enforcement, as well as support the victim through the disciplinary process and interface with other support units across the school.
The committee also said it supports the establishment of the victim care unit, adding that care officers must have relevant experience in counselling, social work or psychology.
It also highlighted the need for a dedicated website providing information and advice for sexual misconduct victims, including clear reporting and support mechanisms like essential contact numbers and whistleblowing channels.
Additionally, the committee proposed that NUS streamline the number of units involved in the disciplinary process, as well as provide a timeline for such processes outlining when each stage of the process should be completed.
In early May, an email outlining measures to step up campus safety was issued to students by the school's senior deputy president and provost Professor Ho Teck Hua.
Among these measures were more secure shower cubicles, new restroom locks and at least 300 new cameras.
In its summary of recommendations, the committee said it "agrees that these tools should significantly enhance campus safety and security".
But the committee also said: "Beyond infrastructure and security, the Committee would like to reiterate the importance of imbuing a culture of safety and mutual care among NUS staff and students, particularly as to the issue of non-resident’s ability to gain unauthorised access to hostels.
"Safety cannot be compromised and everyone must be mindful to uphold and observe safety measures."
Mr Hsieh said that the board will conduct a follow-up review of the disciplinary and support frameworks in two years to ensure that they "remain effective and relevant".
He thanked students, staff and alumni for their contributions, calling them a "significant part of the review process".
"The University is committed to your safety and well-being, and with these new measures, we will build a stronger system that our entire community can stand behind," he said.
SYDNEY: Three Chinese warships sailed out of Sydney on Friday (Jun 7) after an unannounced visit that came amid a tussle for influence between Australia and China in the Pacific.
The show-of-force call by a frigate, supply ship and amphibious warfare vessel was planned but never announced by Canberra.
"That raised a lot of hackles," John Blaxland, professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.
"The ships arrived off Darling Point and other famous places in Sydney's harbour without people knowing in advance ... and with armed soldiers and sailors on the decks of the ships looking fairly aggressive."
They left for China under leaden skies in the early afternoon.
The warships had arrived on the eve of the 30th anniversary of China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Photos showed members of the Chinese community waiting at the navy wharf where the ships docked to greet the sailors.
"It was a reciprocal visit because Australian naval vessels visited China," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara this week.
"So it may have been a surprise to others, but it certainly wasn't a surprise to the government."
Ties between Australia and China hit a low last year when Canberra passed laws aimed at thwarting Chinese influence in domestic affairs and also over China's assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
Australia has offered diplomatic support to US "freedom of navigation" voyages through the South China Sea.
SINGAPORE: Singapore lawyer Jeffrey Ong who allegedly went missing along with S$33 million from engineering firm Allied Technologies, was arrested last week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police told CNA on Friday (Jun 7).
The acting director of Malaysia’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Mr Saiful Azly Kamaruddin, told reporters that Ong was arrested on May 29 by officers from the Royal Malaysia Police at a hotel in the town of Cheras.
He added that Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) had sought assistance to issue an arrest warrant for Ong, and the request was endorsed by Malaysian Court on May 29.
Following that, Royal Malaysia Police officers arrested Ong, with intelligence given from CAD, Mr Saiful said.
Ong was then “delivered” to the CAD on May 30, and he was brought back to Singapore on the same day, Mr Saiful said.
The update from Malaysia's police comes one day after the Singapore Police Force said that Ong had been nabbed with the “cooperation and assistance of the Royal Malaysia Police”, and subsequently charged with cheating.
Ong made headlines last month after engineering firm Allied Technologies filed a police report over an unauthorised payout of S$33 million from its escrow account - an account where funds are held while two or more parties complete a transaction.
He was charged with one count of cheating on Saturday (Jun 1). According to his charge sheet, he is accused of deceiving CCJ Investments Ltd into believing that it had entered into a loan agreement with Suite Development, when there was no such arrangement.
By this deception, Ong allegedly induced CCJ Investments Ltd to disburse a sum of S$6 million.
Of this sum, about S$3.3 million was allegedly used to refinance Suite Development's mortgage loan, and about S$2.7 million was purportedly deposited into the client account of JLC Advisors LLP.
A police report was filed on May 21 and Ong fled Singapore before investigations began.