Written By: Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), Emma Shuen Lee (21-O1), He Jizhao (20-U5), Lim Junheng, Jovan (20-O5), Martha Henrietta Soetedjo (20-U2), Ng Teck Zhong (20-E5), Tiew Zuo Yuan Richard (21-I2), Zuo Yuning (21-A1)
Designed By: Lay Kai En, Ashley (21-O1)
Welcome back to yet another installment of our monthly summary of the happenings around the world! This month, we are covering issues ranging from the conviction of Derek Chauvin to the record haul of cannabis and heroin seized in a drug raid by the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore (CNB) in two decades. Read on to find out more!
Renewed Protests in the US and the verdict on George Floyd Case
On 25 May 2020, an unarmed black man named George Floyd was killed by one police officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck and choked him to death. That event provoked outrage and sparked protests against racism all over the US and around the world. They come under one name: ‘Black Lives Matter’, igniting conversations about institutional racism and social injustice. As the pandemic worsened later into the year, other more important news overshadowed the continued protests. Nevertheless, when another black man Daunte Wright was killed in Minneapolis by a white police officer this month, anger among the US public once again exploded. The protests have yet to die down. To the public, they were furious at the police’s apparent failure to learn from George Floyd’s tragic death, demanding fundamental police reform to address institutional racism. Activists believe that though rooting out such systemic social issues can be extremely challenging, humanity must be bold enough to take action and improve the situation. Not only are the lives of a few black men at stake, but also the dignity of human civilisation. The crux of the issue is ultimately whether all people can be treated with the basic respect they deserve.
Discharge of Radioactive Water of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
On 13 April, Japan announced that it will release 1.25 million tons of treated wastewater contaminated by the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. This discharge will begin in about two years and take place over the course of 30 years. Japan claimed that the advanced liquid processing system will remove all radioactive material except tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is relatively harmless even in large quantities. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has backed this plan as such treated water is routinely discharged into the sea as a byproduct by nuclear plants all around the world. However, the responses of stakeholders have stark differences. The United States has backed the plan and thanked Japan for adopting “an approach in accordance with globally-accepted nuclear safety standards”. However, Japan’s neighbours have hit out. China raised “deep concerns” over Japan’s plan and condemned that Japan’s plan was “extremely irresponsible”, while South Korea expressed her “strong regret”. Meanwhile, many environmental activists and fishermen in Japan protest against this plan.
Taiwan Hualien Train Derailment
On the first day of a four-day Qingming Festival holiday, the Taroko Express, that was bound to an inevitable fate, was traversing at 78mph. This was truly a tragedy that would leave behind adverse consequences. There was an expected surge in the sales of train tickets during this period of high traffic with people flocking across the peninsula to visit graves of deceased ancestors. The TRA, Taiwan Rail Administration initially did not intend to sell standing tickets due to safety concerns. However, the detailed safety tests performed in May 2019 reassured TRA to expand their sales to tone with the overwhelming demand. On that fateful morning on 2nd April 2021, as the oncoming train carrying a total of 494 passengers attempted to avoid a collision with a misplaced flatbed truck partaking in the slope stabilisation project, it was derailed in the QingShui Tunnel. Unfortunately, the brake application was barely able to reduce the velocity of the train carriages, resulting in the high-speed collision that derailed the train off course. The aftermath of this disaster left behind a whopping 49 fatalities and over 200 casualties. The deformation of the train carriages revealed the devastative nature of the accident.
India’s Second Wave of COVID-19
Since the start of April, India has reported more than 1.9 million new COVID-19 cases. Due to the shortage of beds and oxygen, local hospitals have struggled to cope with the surge in cases, resulting in over 10,600 deaths. India had already overtaken Brazil to become the second worst-infected country, just behind the United States.
The rise in cases can be attributed to the introduction of mutant strains, vaccine hesitancy, and a failure to follow COVID-19 protocol.
In response to the flare up, Maharashtra, India’s wealthiest state and hotbed for infections, went into a lockdown set to last until May 1. Other states like Delhi have followed suit.
A second wave will drastically hinder India’s economic recovery. The shortages in hospitals have also created deep divisions between the central government and opposition-led state governments.
Heng Swee Keat Stepping Down as 4G Leader
On the 8th of April, Heng Swee Keat announced that he would be stepping down as the leader of Singapore’s People’s Action Party 4th Generation team and as the Finance Minister.
In his communique, he adumbrated his momentous decision with the idea of a younger, future successor of his role being better fitted to run the country. As Heng is 59, the runway in his leadership succession would be “too short” when the time comes for someone else to lead the country.
Heng voiced his hopes for the future of political governance in Singapore: someone who is younger with a protracted runway, who can think and strategise multi-dimensionally and sustainably, and can take our country to the next stage in nation-building through bringing diversity and fresh outlook in Singapore’s political field.
Record Haul of Cannabis and Heroin Seized in CNB Raid
On 16 April 2021, Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) seized over 40 kg of drugs, including 23 kg of cannabis, and 16 kg of heroin, together with other illicit drugs. The drugs, with an estimated street value of over S$2.3 million, were found in the residential unit of a 22-year old Malaysian man.
This amount of heroin seized was the greatest since 2001, while that for cannabis since 1996 — over two decades ago. The drugs obtained were enough to feed over 12,000 drug abusers for a week. The raid followed another from just last month, when over 20 kg of cannabis was found.
The decades-long concerns regarding the proliferation of drug use and illegal cartels were intensified during the pandemic as these elusive organisations changed their modus operandi to avoid detection by authorities. Many countries have been known to implement harsh measures against drug use. A commonly cited example is that of Philippines President Mr Rodrigo Duterte — who has made his intolerance for drug trafficking clear to the world. The “drug war” in the Philippines has sparked controversy worldwide, with many protesting against the authorities’ use of violence as a form of deterrence.
While the situation is undoubtedly more controlled in Singapore, many local authorities have also heightened awareness measures to curb the potential spread of drug use.
We have now come to the end of this month’s summary. See you in May!
- Channel NewsAsia. (2021, April 18). Calls for US police reform at fresh protest OVER Daunte Wright killing. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/us-police-reform-protest-daunte-wright-shooting-taser-14646612
- Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore. (2021). More Than 40KG Of Illicit Drugs Seized; Drugs Sufficient To Feed More Than 12,000 Abusers For A Week. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.cnb.gov.sg/newsandevents/news
- China raises concerns over Japan’s plan to dispose of Fukushima water. (2021). Retrieved 21 April 2021, from https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3129228/china-raises-deep-concerns-over-japans-plan-release-fukushima
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- Lankes, C. (2021, March 07). How George floyd’s death reignited a worldwide movement: Dw: 07.03.2021. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.dw.com/en/how-george-floyds-death-reignited-a-worldwide-movement/a-56781938
- Lin, C. (2021, March 18). CNB seizes drugs worth almost S$1.7 million, INCLUDING largest SINGLE haul of cannabis since 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/cnb-drugs-largest-cannbis-haul-seized-heroin-14435108
- McGreal, C., Beckett, L., Laughland, O., & Ajasa, A. (2021, April 20). Derek Chauvin found guilty of George FLOYD’S MURDER. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/20/derek-chauvin-verdict-guilty-murder-george-floyd
- Sahelirc. (2021, April 15). India’s second wave of Covid shows no signs of slowing as country reports over 200,000 new cases. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/15/india-covid-19-second-wave-over-200000-new-coronavirus-cases.html.
- Shaw, D. O., & Kidwai, S. A. (2020, December 20). The global impact of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://thegeopolitics.com/the-global-impact-of-the-black-lives-matter-movement/
- SIM, W. (2021). Japan to discharge treated Fukushima water into the Pacific. Retrieved 21 April 2021, from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japan-to-discharge-treated-fukushima-water-into-the-pacific
- Sun, D. (2021, April 19). CNB seizes over 40kg of drugs, including record amounts of cannabis and heroin. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/cnb-makes-record-seizure-of-cannabis-and-heroin-since-1996-and-2001
- Tan. (2021, April 8). DPM Heng Swee Keat steps aside as leader of 4G team, setting back Singapore’s succession plan for next PM. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/dpm-heng-swee-keat-steps-aside-as-leader-of-4g-team-setting-back-singapores
- The New York Times. (2021, April 12). What to know about the death of daunte wright. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/article/daunte-wright-death-minnesota.html
- Writer, E. B. S. (2021, April 13). Top scientists identify 3 reasons behind the Covid-19 surge in India. mint. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/top-scientists-identify-3-reasons-behind-the-covid-19-surge-in-india-11618289785593.html.