Latest News: 10 February 2021

1. Reported crimes rose 6.5% in 2020, largely due to 65% spike in scam cases

Singapore’s crime rate saw a rise of 6.5 per cent last year, from 35,115 in 2019 to 37,409 in 2020. However, the number of physical crimes fell to a 36-year low, with theft- and housebreaking-related crimes falling 33.1 per cent and 24.9 per cent respectively.

The overall rise in Singapore’s crime rate can be attributed to a sharp spike in the number of scams, amounting to over S$200 million lost. The number of scams rose disproportionately by 65.1 per cent, from 9,545 in 2019 to 15,756 in 2020. They comprised 42.1 per cent of all reported crimes in 2020 as compared to 27.2 per cent in 2019. If scams were excluded from the tally, Singapore’s crime rate would have fallen by 15.3 per cent.

From most prevalent to least, the top 10 types of scams were: 

  1. E-commerce scams
  2. Social media impersonation scams
  3. Loan scams
  4. Banking-related phishing scams
  5. Investment scams
  6. Credit-for-sex scams
  7. Internet love scams
  8. Non-banking-related phishing scams
  9. Tech support scams
  10. China officials impersonation scams

Among these, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has said that the top four types of scams are “of particular concern”, having made up 68.1 per cent of the top 10 scam types reported in 2020. In total, the number of cases for these four scam types jumped by a whopping 78.5 per cent compared to the previous year. 

The rise in online scams is attributed to the increase in online transactions carried out by Singaporeans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, criminals moved their illegal activities online and developed new tactics to target potential victims. 

Despite the increased crime rates this year, the SPF maintains that Singapore remains one of the world’s safest cities, quoting Gallup’s 2020 Global Law and Order report in which we were ranked first for the seventh consecutive year.

In order to combat scams in Singapore, the SPF launched a mobile application called ScamShield in November last year. The application (currently only available for iPhone users) works by filtering out SMSes and phone calls sent and made by scammers. An Android version is currently in the works. 

Additionally, the SPF urged businesses to implement anti-scam measures and precautions to keep their customers safe. They also emphasised the need for civilians to remain vigilant and aware of potential threats. 

2. Temasek Holdings CEO and executive director Ho Ching to step down on 1 October

Executive director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Temasek Holdings Ho Ching will be retiring. She is to be replaced by Mr Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, who will assume his position from 1 October. Madam Ho, 67, will be stepping down on the same date.

Mr Pillay will succeed her as Temasek Holdings’ CEO and executive director and will continue to hold his current appointment as Temasek International’s CEO.

In a media statement on 9 February, Lim Boon Heng, chairman of Temasek Holdings, said that the board had established an annual review since the 2000s,and that the succession of leadership was the board’s strategic responsibility. He added that Madam Ho played a key role in nurturing a strong leadership bench in Temasek, several of whom have gone on to CEO appointments beyond Temasek.

He also paid homage to Madam Ho’s achievements since her appointment as CEO in 2004, which included the establishment of platforms to support public and social causes, stating that Madam Ho would be “recognised for her unwavering commitment to build Temasek as a trusted steward, committed to the highest standards of integrity and governance.”

Madam Ho said that she has full confidence in Mr Pillay and is happy to be handing over the position to him, stating that she knew he would “take Temasek to the next level”.  

Mr Pillay said he was honoured to take on the new appointment.

“In continuing our mission to generate long term sustainable returns beyond our current generation, core to our success will be our commitment to build a better, more sustainable world,” he said. 

3. Singapore Airlines to defer spending of over S$4 billion on Airbus, Boeing planes

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will be deferring more than S$4 billion of spending on Airbus and Boeing planes after reaching agreements with aircraft manufacturers to delay deliveries. These agreements will see aircrafts ordered by SIA delivered over a longer period than initially contracted, with the delivery stream spread out beyond the immediate five years. 

Additionally, it will convert 14 of its Boeing 787-10 orders to 11 777-9s for its fleet’s needs beyond the financial year that ends in March 2026. 

These deferred spendings will allow SIA to recalibrate the rate at which it adds capacity to its fleet and align it to the project recovery trajectory for international air travel. 

According to industry estimates, international travel is expected to take until 2024 to rebound to pre-COVID levels. Thus, the airline will be cutting spending plans by S$2.2 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, S$1.7 billion in 2021-22, and by a more limited amount in the subsequent two years. 

Much like others in the aviation industry, Singapore Airlines has been hard hit by the pandemic. Just last week, it posted a S$142 million net loss in the third quarter as passenger numbers are still down by 97.6 per cent.

4. Fifth person on flight from UAE to test positive for COVID-19 is a Singapore Airlines stewardess

Five people on a turnaround flight to the United Arab Emirates have tested positive for COVID-19, one of whom is a 41-year-old Singapore Airlines (SIA) air stewardess.

On Tuesday, 9 February, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that all five have tested preliminarily positive for the more infectious B117 strain of the coronavirus. The Singaporean stewardess was among 11 COVID-19 cases confirmed by MOH on Tuesday, bringing Singapore’s total number of cases to 59,732.

The four other passengers, including a one-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, were confirmed positive for coronavirus earlier this month. 

MOH said that they have preliminarily classified the cabin crew member’s case as an imported one, in light of her recent travel history, and the possibility that she had been infected while she was on board the flight. It added that her close contacts have been isolated and quarantined.

The cabin crew received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on 2 February. MOH said that she could not have been infected due to the vaccination, as the vaccine does not contain live virus.

They added that it was “possible for one to be infected just before or just after vaccination as it typically takes a few weeks for an individual to build up immunity after completing vaccination.”

The air stewardess developed a loss of smell on 4 February but did not seek medical attention. As part of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s requirements, she was tested for COVID-19 on Sunday.

On Monday, her pooled test indicated a positive result for the virus, and she was brought to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to take an individual swab test and isolated. The swab test indicated a positive result the next day.

The cabin crew’s previous test on 22 January after another turnaround flight tested negative, and her serology test indicated a negative result, pointing to a current infection.

MOH said that the 10 other cases tested positive while serving their stay-home notices. 

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