Written By: Chao Fangning, Nicole (20-U5), Lim Junheng, Jovan (20-O5), Martha Henrietta Soetedjo (20-U2), Ng Teck Zhong (20-E5), Soh Iwin (20-E5), Young Wai Ming, Nicholas (20-E5)
Designed By: Leow Jia Wen Jolene (20-E1)
Welcome back to yet another installment of our monthly summary of the events and happenings around the world! Join us as we explore the events and issues that have shaped February to possibly be one of the more volatile months in recent history.
China and the United States’ Competition of 6G
If you have yet to experience using 5G networks yet, you must be baffled by the idea that the world’s biggest superpowers – China and the United States – are already scrambling to be the first to develop 6G networks. What’s the big deal, and why engage in such fierce competition? Well, the first developer will be crowned the creator of a new era of industrial revolution.
Tentatively, 6G networks are said to be 100 times quicker in speed than 5G networks and 10 times less likely to experience lags, engendering an epoch of technological advancement where we may get to see science fiction — such as flying taxis becoming a reality. Consequently, the battle for leadership over 6G development is more vehement than 5G, as evident in how it was considered by Chinese and Western policymakers ever since the launch of 5G networks.
Both China and United States governments are already advancing the developments of 6G, with the former kickstarting satellites to test out the transmission of 6G airwaves, and the latter creating The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, a group analysing the development of 6G networks.
NASA’s Science Rover Perseverance Lands on Mars
On 18 Feb, NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed in the Jezero Crater on Mars, which scientists believe was once filled with water and the site of a river delta over 3 billion years ago. This could suggest that any signs of microbial life could be found as fossils in the crater, which would help scientists in the study and search of a potentially habitable environment outside of Earth that has preserved signs of past life.
Furthermore, Perseverance has not only managed to survive what has been hailed as “the seven minutes of terror” – the most challenging robotic spaceflight to date, due to its self-guided descent and landing, but has also managed to capture a few high-definition photographs of Mars that are now on NASA’s website for everyone to enjoy.
NASA’s next step is on Mars to retrieve any samples collected by Perseverance within the next decade. Not only that, the rover also contains multiple experimental prototypes such as a miniature helicopter and a device that converts carbon dioxide on Mars to oxygen, which could pave the way for supporting human life on Mars as well as to produce a rocket propellant to fly astronauts back to Earth.
On 01 February 2021, the Tatmadaw staged a coup in the early hours and deposed of Myanmar’s democratically elected civilian leaders, including heads of state Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint, and handed the control of the country to the Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. In response, citizens made their displeasure clear to the Junta, organising themselves and taking their unwelcoming sentiments to the streets.
Despite assurances by Min that the military junta will hold elections in a year from now, many are not buying that story. To make matters worse, the junta’s actions and responses to the peaceful protestors further exacerbated their already declining reputation.
There are an increasing number of reports of the usage of forces, including live ammunition, which drew increased international condemnation. Internet disruptions have also become part and parcel of living in Myanmar, another attempt the junta is making to disrupt the organisation of protests.
Nonetheless, protestors, as well as a growing civil disobedience movement, have pressed on, and it is their hope that such efforts will produce some positive results, even if they are facing increasing risks of being targeted in a government crackdown.
Tokyo Olympic Committee’s President Made a Sexist Remark
The long-anticipated (and postponed) Tokyo “2020” Olympics has once again been met with issues. Apart from their need to delay the Olympic Games due to the ongoing pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic Committee – namely its President – was under recent fire for his sexist remarks.
The now former President Yoshiro Mori had made misogynistic comments during an executive meeting, mentioning that “women speak too much” during meetings. This statement was made alongside other unflattering and offensive statements, such as how they often “have difficulty” in speaking concisely, and how he had found it “annoying”. Following his inappropriate remarks, many outraged individuals took to the media to criticise his discriminatory views.
This carried on for a week, before Mr. Mori finally announced his resignation on February 12. His replacement, Seiko Hashimoto, took the reins on February 18.
This long-standing issue of discrimination and the gender wage gap has been prevalent in Japan, with the country ranking a dismal 121 out of 153 in the global gender gap index. Hence, many are looking forward to Hashimoto’s appointment, and the possible improvements such a change could make on Japan’s view towards women in working classes.
Budget 2021, with its theme of “Emerging Stronger Together”, aims for a restructuring of Singapore’s economy, combining measures to help families, workers, and businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis in the immediate future, coupled with measures to accelerate structural adaptations for the long term.
While we try not to put you off with confusing numbers, here’s a summary of the key points of the Budget:
- S$900 million Household Support Package, inclusive of:
- S$200 GST Voucher in cash for lower-income households,
- S$100 worth of CDC Vouchers for all households,
- S$200 top-up for each Singaporean child (under 21), and more!
- Support for Jobs, inclusive of:
- Extension of the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for hard-hit sectors,
- S$870 million for the aviation sector,
- S$5.4 billion boost for the SGUnited Jobs and Skills package, and more!
- Other notable details:
- Encouragement of electric vehicle adoption, with 60,000 charging points deployed by 2030, and S$30 million over the next five years for electric vehicle-related initiatives.
- Plan for a ‘greener Singapore’, with S$60 million for a new Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund, green bonds on public infrastructure projects, and commitment to more ambitious sustainability goals under the GreenGov.SG initiative for the public sector.
- GST increase between 2022 and 2025, and extension of GST to include imported low-value goods (impacting e-commerce).
The annual budget unveiling is an important part of the national development process, and is instrumental to help us understand how Singapore plans to move ahead towards a better future.
The New Chinese New Year?
This Chinese New Year (CNY) was slightly different from the norm. Families could only host up to a maximum of 8 visitors per household each day, lion dance performances were cancelled, company celebrations were ruled out – shouting auspicious phrases during yusheng was discouraged, and you still had to wear masks while tossing ingredients around. In order to prevent a festive spread of the new strain of coronavirus that had emerged last year, Chinese celebrations had to be kept to a bare minimum.
Of course, much strategic planning had to be done to ensure that Chinese New Year retained the spirit of rekindling with family. However, should the global pandemic continue on for the next year, the next two years, what would we foresee to be the new normal? Would people be willing to drop the tradition of giving physical red packets, and instead opt for digital ones? Could long-distance video calls ever replace the feelings of face-to-face interaction?
What used to be the prevailing tension between the Internet and past methods of communication is now resurfacing at the forefront of technological and social change. For the Chinese, there is a large emphasis on the sharing of human feelings to develop emotional relationships. If the human touch has to be largely sacrificed, then one can only hope that deep cultural roots are enough to sustain the traditional values behind this special occasion.
With this, we hope that our summary has provided you with an opportunity to keep up with the current news and happenings both around the world and locally. See you in March for next month’s summary!
References and Citations
- Hermesauto. (2021, February 12). Olympics: Tokyo 2020 CHIEF YOSHIRO MORI resigns over sexism row, But SUCCESSOR unclear. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/olympics-tokyo-2020-boss-resigns-over-sexism-row-but-successor-unclear
- Jozuka, E., Sharma, A., & Kobayashi, C. (2021, February 19). Seven-time Olympian takes over as Tokyo 2020 chief after sexism backlash. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/18/asia/japan-ruling-olympics-party-women-sexism-hnk-intl/index.html
- M. (2020). Jezero Crater – Perseverance Landing Site. NASA Mars. https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/mission/science/landing-site/
- Nasa’s astrobiology rover Perseverance makes historic Mars landing. (2021, February 19). The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/nasa-confirms-perseverance-spacecraft-entered-mars-atmosphere
- Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu KYI detained as Military seizes control. (2021, February 01). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55882489
- Paddock, R. (2021, February 12). Myanmar may TARGET free speech in effort to Stifle protests. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/12/world/asia/myanmar-military-protest.html
- Reuters. (2021, February 24). Myanmar faces more protests as Indonesia PURSUES diplomatic efforts. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/myanmar-faces-more-protests-as-indonesia-pursues-diplomatic-efforts
- Reuters (2021, February 20). Two dead as Myanmar police open fire on protesters in deadliest day since military coup. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/myanmar-coup-protest-mandalay-police-live-rounds-14243276
- Shirley Zhao, S. M. (2021, February 9). Bloomberg. Retrieved from Forget 5G, the U.S. and China Are Already Fighting for 6G Dominance: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-02-08/forget-5g-the-u-s-and-china-are-already-fighting-for-6g-dominance?utm_campaign=instagram-bio-link&utm_medium=social&utm_source=instagram&utm_content=business
- Tham, D. (2021, February 17). What you need to know about budget 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/budget-2021-singapore-jss-household-support-package-covid-19-14209224
- Xinhua News Daily. (2021, February 15). Modified Chinese New Year celebration in Singapore amid pandemic. https://www.shine.cn/news/world/2102154704/