Singapore digest news (10.10-15.10)

Photo by Anna Smirnova

Singapore to review housing policies, leave measures to encourage more people to have children: DPM Wong

The Government will review housing policies and leave measures to better support Singaporeans in starting families, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said on Monday (Oct 10).
Speaking at a Forward Singapore conversation for social service practitioners, Mr Wong set out the direction for social policies on strengthening families, supporting seniors and improving social mobility in Singapore.

He also promised to look into retirement adequacy for the elderly and to make narrowing income inequality a key priority. On the issue of encouraging young families to have more children, Mr Wong noted that long wait times for new HDB flats and rising resale home prices are key concerns for many young Singaporeans.

To help parents better balance work and family commitments, the Government will also encourage flexible work arrangements and review leave measures.


Tech companies tapping artificial intelligence to treat and predict mental health disorders

Could the future of managing mental health lie in strings of code and predictive models? Behavioural health tech provider Holmusk is banking on that, partnering authorities in Singapore to develop a suite of digital tools for hospitals and clinics.

One solution the firm is looking to introduce is a “smart pill” to track when patients forget or skip their medication. How that works, is through a small, grain-sized biosensor embedded within the pill, and a sticky patch on the patient’s body that can detect when the pill is ingested. The technology is approved in the United States.

The firm has also developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model to analyse information from “notes-driven” mental health treatment or therapy.


Bus, train fares to increase by up to 5 cents due to rising energy costs: Public Transport Council

Bus and train fares in Singapore will increase by up to 5 cents from Dec 26 due to rising energy prices, the Public Transport Council (PTC) announced on Wednesday (Oct 12) after its annual fare review exercise.Adult card fares will increase by 4 cents for journeys of up to 8.2km and 5 cents for journeys longer than 8.2km.

The increase in concession card fares will be capped at 1 cent per journey to keep fares lower for students, senior citizens, lower-wage workers and people with disabilities, said the PTC. The fare hike is necessary to meet rising energy prices, which rose by 117 per cent last year, the PTC said.


Possible sighting of rare blood moon over Singapore on Nov 8

Skygazers in Singapore may be able to catch a glimpse of a rare blood moon next month, the result of a total lunar eclipse. The celestial sighting will take place on Nov 8 but it may be challenging to observe the phenomena.

The Science Centre Observatory said in a Facebook post on Monday (Oct 10) that the total lunar eclipse will begin with a penumbral eclipse at 4.02pm. This will then be followed by a partial eclipse at 5.09pm before a full eclipse at 6.16pm. However, these stages will not be visible as the moon will only rise at 6.46pm, said the observatory.

Members of the public are advised to head for somewhere with a clear view of the Eastern horizon, which is the opposite of where the sun sets, from 7pm onwards. The next two total lunar eclipses will only happen in 2025.

Source gets Singapore licence, second crypto firm to obtain approval this week, a cryptocurrency exchange backed by investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, said on Wednesday (Oct 12) that it had received approval from Singapore's central bank to offer payment services in the country.

The announcement came a day after crypto giant Coinbase said it had also received the same approval. This brings the number of crypto companies allowed to operate in Singapore to 18, out of the 180 or so firms who have applied for a crypto payments licence as of January this year., which was valued at US$14 billion in March, said in a statement that it views Singapore as an attractive location to grow its institutional customers and team.