What you need to know
The Malaysian government says the bill will help tackle violent extremism, but critics fear it gives authorities and the government too much power.
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Singapore: Nearly 80% of the people support to dismantle late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s former residence
Survey shows that the majority of Singaporeans support the decision to dismantle the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s former residence.
According to a survey conducted by the international public opinion organization, YouGov, on 1,000 Singaporean from December 9 to 11, 80% of the people support the demolition of Lee’s former residence.
Another 15% of respondents are against the demolition of the house. Among them, 75% of people believe that the house has high historical and cultural value, and it should be open to the public. The other 25% think, the house belongs to all Singaporeans and these are who should decide its fate.
Lee’s oldest son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and his second son, Lee Hsien Yang, announced in early December that they each would donate half the amount of the house’s market price to charity. More than 60% of the respondents agree with this decision, while 17% of people think they should donate all the money to charity.
Malaysia: The Senate passed the controversial security bill
In Malaysia, the controversial National Security Council Bill passed in the Senate on December 22 with no provisions being modified. The government says it will help tackle violent extremism, but critics fear it gives authorities and the government too much power.
Local media, Sin Chow Daily, reports that the National Security Council Bill 2015 will allow the National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, to declare “security zones" while giving authorities the right to search or arrest, without warrant, any individual “found committing, alleged to have committed, or reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under written laws in the security area”.
Critics fear that the bill may give the prime minister the power to declare martial law, and Malaysian civil rights organizations also protest against the bill, saying that it would violate human rights and democracy at any time.
On Dec 17, the European Parliament passed a resolution expressing concern about the bill and called for its immediate withdrawal.
Indonesia: 23 firms were punished after being suspected of causing a forest fire
23 Indonesian companies were punished after being involved in slash-and-burn land clearance that resulted in deadly forest fires that killed 19 people. Among them, three companies have been shut down permanently after having their licenses revoked. This is the first time the Indonesian government has revoked company licenses due to forest fire issues.
The environment ministry also froze the operations of 14 companies and said they face closure if they do not meet the government’s demands over fire prevention.
“We need firmer law enforcement so that this catastrophe does not repeat itself. It has been going on for 18 years but nobody has learned their lesson," said environment ministry official Kemal Amas. Authorities are working on restoring forests and farmlands.
Forest fires have caused heavy haze affecting over one million people. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have heard cases of infecting acute respiratory deceases. Indonesian government has spent a total of US$ 16 billion to extinguish the fire.
Translated and compiled by Vic Chiang and Eric Wong
Edited by Olivia Yang