Straight Talking Benigno Aquino III has ruffled some diplomatic feathers


July 30, 2010

Straight Talking Benigno Aquino III has ruffled some diplomatic feathers

by John Teo

NEW Philippine President Benigno Aquino III seems to have developed a reputation, after just weeks into his presidency, for straight talking. While that may be a welcome change to Filipinos tired of all the doubletalk and double dealing that pass for politics in the country, it may not go down too well in the arena of international diplomacy.

Already, Aquino has ruffled some diplomatic feathers by failing to acknowledge that Japan is in fact his country’s top aid donor.

Malaysia seems to be also at the receiving end of the Philippine president’s rather impolitic talking style. Asked if Indonesia would be roped in to assist in mediating the stalled talks between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, Aquino was tellingly non-committal.

In answer to a press question, Aquino said Indonesia, like Malaysia, would be considered for the role and he had to request either country if it would consider to take it on. His seemingly innocuous answer perhaps inadvertently betrayed partiality towards a strain in Philippine official thinking that has always viewed Malaysia’s role as mediator in the talks as “problematic”, often citing unresolved claims over Sabah as somehow compromising Malaysia’s neutrality.

That sort of answer also hardly appears to be a ringing endorsement of what Malaysia has so far done in mediating the conflict. We have brought both sides to the conflict not just to the table in tortuous negotiating sessions but facilitated their reaching a final draft agreement.

That draft agreement on ancestral domain was a breakthrough in incorporating provisions for substantive and real political autonomy for Muslims in Mindanao within the Philippine state, in contrast to the largely paper autonomy that the Philippine government conceded to the Moro National Liberation Front in an earlier agreement forged under Indonesian auspices, an agreement now little more than a farce in practice.

The Malaysian-brokered agreement was also widely acclaimed by the international community, as evidenced by the contingent of Manila-based ambassadors representing the Philippines’ largest aid donors and led by the United States that descended on Kuala Lumpur to witness the signing of the draft agreement; a ceremony which was aborted at the eleventh hour by a restraining order from the Philippine Supreme Court.

Malaysia has, in the interim and while the Philippines went through a change of government, not said or done anything publicly to indicate it is giving up on the mediating role, frustrating though it naturally is to have brought both sides this close to actual agreement only to see it come apart at the last minute.

It will be understandably disappointing for us that apart from not acknowledging what Malaysia has already done to help forge peace in Mindanao, President Aquino has in effect dealt us a slap by leaving open the option that Malaysia will be replaced as mediator. If at all he should publicly comment on the matter, he ought to have said his government would seek an agreement with the MILF about who should be the mediator for renewed talks.

Malaysia’s role as mediator or any other country’s, for that matter, is contingent upon a joint request from both disputing parties — the Philippine government and the MILF. Malaysia cannot take it on even with an official Philippine government invitation unless an invitation is also forthcoming from the MILF.

Now it seems Malaysia is being put in the uncomfortable position of having its impartiality as peace mediator seemingly compromised by loose talk, through no fault of ours.

Aquino has in recent days also stated that there is no going back to the aborted draft agreement and blamed his predecessor for foisting that agreement on the country, with less than honourable motivations to boot. There can, of course, be no telling if the previous administration cynically acceded to the draft agreement knowing full well it could not or would not sell it to the Filipino public at large.

The stance of the Aquino administration stands diametrically opposed to the MILF’s, in that renewed talks must now take the draft agreement as the starting point. And the MILF has publicly stated also that it will not agree to Malaysia being replaced as mediator.

Helping to forge peace in other lands is a noble and worthy cause which we should rightly pursue and persevere in no matter how frustrating and thankless it is. But lest we be seen to be overly keen to remain mediator or worse, to be regarded as partial to either one party, and to avoid being sucked into the treacherous undercurrents of Philippine domestic politics, we must scrupulously not move in any way until a renewed joint invitation from the Philippine government and the MILF is forthcoming.

Kejayaan Melayu di Singapura hasil usaha sendiri


July 29, 2010

BERITA HARIAN, Singapura

Kejayaan Melayu di Singapura hasil usaha sendiri

Top Malay General in SAF

PENCAPAIAN masyarakat Melayu/Islam Singapura adalah hasil usaha mereka sendiri – menerusi kerja keras dan kesungguhan – selaras dengan nilai meritokrasi.

Tiada bantuan khas mahupun layanan istimewa daripada pemerintah yang membantu memacu kemajuan Melayu/Islam di sini. Namun, walau perlu bersaing dalam sekitaran yang begitu sengit, masyarakat Melayu tidak mahu mencapai kemajuan dengan cara lain.

Dalam ucapannya di majlis Anugerah Jauhari di Hotel Shang-ri La semalam, Editor Berita Harian/Berita Minggu, Encik Guntor Sadali, berkata asas pembangunan Melayu Singapura sejak 45 tahun lalu adalah berlandaskan prinsip berdikari.

‘Kita tidak mahu disuap atau terlalu bergantung kepada pemerintah. Dalam erti kata lain, masyarakat kita menolak sikap menopang (crutch mentality),’ ujar beliau dalam majlis yang dihadiri lebih 300 pemimpin dan tokoh masyarakat daripada pelbagai bidang.

Turut hadir di majlis yang mengiktiraf Jauhari masyarakat Melayu itu ialah Menteri Tenaga Manusia, Encik Gan Kim Yong.

Intipati ucapan Encik Guntor itu ialah sebagai respons kepada teguran mantan Perdana Menteri Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, baru-baru ini supaya Melayu di negaranya tidak ditimpa nasib yang sama seperti Melayu Singapura.

Menurut Encik Guntor, komen sedemikian sering dilemparkan kepada masyarakat Melayu di sini, bukan sahaja daripada Dr Mahathir, malah sesetengah pemimpin lain di seberang Tambak.

Tetapi beliau menggesa masyarakat supaya tenang. “Masyarakat kita kini sudah berubah daripada 45 tahun lalu. Kita telah membangunkan identiti dan falsafah hidup sendiri yang berbeza daripada saudara kita di seberang Tambak.”Kita mungkin pakai baju yang sama, makan makanan yang sama, bertutur bahasa yang sama dan mengamalkan budaya yang sama. Tapi persamaan kita berhenti di situ,” katanya.

Beliau menegaskan bahawa Melayu Singapura pastinya tidak mahu dilabel sebagai malas dan manja. Lantaran itulah masyarakat Melayu bekerja keras untuk mengumpulkan sendiri dana bagi membina masjid dan madrasah, dan kini boleh berbangga sebagai pemilik bangunan-bangunan tersebut.

Menerusi usahanya sendiri juga, Melayu Singapura boleh berbangga dengan peranannya membantu anggota-anggota masyarakat yang memerlukan sama ada dari segi kewangan, pendidikan dan latihan pekerjaan.

Menurut Encik Guntor, komen Dr Mahathir itu mungkin merujuk kepada kuasa politik Melayu di sini. Namun, beliau menekankan bahawa Melayu Singapura tidak menyamakan kuasa dengan menghunus keris. Sebaliknya, Melayu di sini berpendapat ilmu itulah kuasa sejati.

“Anak-anak kita menghadiri sekolah yang sama dengan kanak-kanak lain dengan tujuan menerima pendidikan menyeluruh dan mencapai keputusan yang baik. Memang mencabar, seperti kanak-kanak lain, anak-anak kita tidak ada pilihan lain selain bekerja keras. Inilah realiti kehidupan di Singapura yang kita terima. Pastinya tiada jalan mudah untuk mencapai kejayaan” ujar beliau.

Encik Guntor akur walaupun semakin ramai Melayu yang kini memegang jawatan profesional, tetap ada sogolongan Melayu yang masih ketinggalan.

Walaupun demikian, beliau menegaskan bahawa masyarakat enggan menerima layanan istimewa kerana ia hanya akan merendahkan nilai pencapaian Melayu sehingga terpijak maruahnya.

“Meritokrasi ternyata sistem yang baik dan adil. Ia mendorong kita bekerja keras dan berbangga dengan pencapaian kita. Bagi masyarakat Melayu Singapura, kita tidak boleh memandang ke belakang,” ujarnya.

PKFZ: Tun Ling Liong Sik charged


July 29, 2010

http://www.malaysiakini.com

PKFZ Scandal: Tun Ling Liong Sik charged

Former transport minister Tun Ling Liong Sik is to be charged at the Putrajaya Sessions Court over his involvement in the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

Ling, who is also former MCA president, is by far the most prominent politicians to be nabbed for corruption in recent years.

Rumours of a very important personality (VIP) to be charged have sent dozens of journalists, included those from foreign wire services, camping at the court complex early this morning.

Most of them gathered at the lobby and main entrance of the courthouse. while a couple have stationed themselves in and outside the courtroom.

At 4pm, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail and three DPPs, including head of prosecution Tun Abdul Majid Hamzah, arrived in court without speaking to the journalists. The other two were Manoj Kurup and Dzulkifli Ahmad.

Ling appeared in court at 4.45pm accompanied by his wife Ena and two sons. He proceeded to sit in the dock.

It is believed that the charge is related to the troubled multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

Last November, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had recommended in its report on the PKFZ controversy that former transport minister Chan Kong Choy and former Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager OC Phang be probed for CBT (criminal breach of trust).

This was over the wrongful issuance of three letters of support by Chan and three letters of undertaking by Phang without Finance Ministry approval.

PAC said that it was informed by the attorney-general that the letters were implicitly a form of guarantee from the government to ensure that there would be allocations for PKA to enable it to meet its obligations under the development agreement.

PKFZ, a commercial and industrial project south of the capital, was conceived as a RM1.82 billion venture constructed over 1,000 acres.

However costs are now expected to balloon to RM12.5 billion, making the affair one of the country’s biggest financial scandals and a major embarrassment for the government.

Probes into the project’s financial records since then have revealed instances of corruption, cases of conflict of interest as well as breach of trust.

Ling is one of the very rare top politicians in Malaysia to be charged with corruption.

In 2004, former land and cooperative development minister Kasitah Gaddam was charged in the Sessions Court with corrupt practice and cheating, the first cabinet member to be charged with such crimes. He was freed by the court without his defence being called last year.

Another top politician who was charged for corruption was the late Harun Idris, the Selangor menteri besar from 1964 to 1976. He was slapped with a six-year jail sentence but served three years behind bar before being pardoned by the King in 1981 on the advice of then new prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

SARAWAK: NCR Land Issue Unresolved


July 29, 2010

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

SARAWAK NCR Land Issue remains unresolved

By Joseph Tawie

It took 47 years for the government to decide to survey native customary rights (NCR) land, issue titles and return the land to the rightful owners. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak allocated RM20 million to carry out the survey works.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud should have made the announcement instead of Najib as land matters come under the purview of the state. So, why did Najib make the announcement? And why did Taib refuse all this while to survey NCR land?

Najib made the decision last week after visiting Long Banga, Baram, an interior seldom visited even by Sarawak state ministers. He must have heard about the Dayaks’ grouses after he took over as prime minister last year. To learn more about their problems, he sent his Sarawakian minister Idris Jala to seek the truth. And based on Jala’s reports, Najib announced the decision.

It not only caught state government leaders by surprise, it also embarrassed them. But Najib does not seem to care; his federal government’s survival depends on solving the problem. To continue to occupy Putrajaya, he must win over the Dayak-majority parliamentary constituencies. There are 23 Dayak majority and Dayak-mixed constituencies.

The decision puts great pressure on the state government to survey the NCR land. It must show support and react immediately.Thus, the state government issued a press statement not only to concur with the prime minister’s announcement but also to say that Taib’s government has approved a new NCR land initiative.

“The initiative has been approved by the government in order to come up with a faster approach to provide security to NCR land and enhance the economic well-being of landowners,” Taib said in a statement.

“NCR land is an issue that is close to the hearts of our people. As such, this joint initiative between the state and the federal governments is to help the people create value to their idle land while at the same time addressing their concerns about the long-term security of their NCR land,” he added.

Up till that point, the state government not only ignored the cries of the Dayaks for their NCR land to be surveyed and given titles, but it also went ahead and grabbed the land and leased them to family members and crony plantation companies.

The government legitimised its actions by amending the Sarawak Land Code several times, and each time it made it very difficult for the natives to claim their customary rights over their ancestral land.

And the most devastating amendment to the Land Code was made in May 2000, especially to Section 5. Section 5 (a) (2) (i) was amended by substituting the word “acquired” wherever it appears in the subsection with the word “created”.

On the surface of it, the amendment looks innocent. But if you analyse it carefully, it is very destructive to the NCR landowners. Prior to the amendment, NCR land can be passed from one generation to the next — from father to son and his children’s children, and so on. The land that has been acquired by any other means by the family always belongs to the family and its generation.

NCR land could be acquired through the following methods:

  • felling virgin jungle and occupying the cleared land;
  • planting land with fruit trees; and occupying it;
  • using the land for a burial ground or shrines;
  • using land of any class for right of way; and/or
  • using any other lawful means.

Delaying tactics

Emphasis is on the word “acquired” which was substituted with the word “created”. This can result in the termination of customary rights over such land, as only the “creator” shall have such rights over the land. And after his death, the land shall be reverted to the government if the descendents are unable to provide proof for such a claim. Such a land will be known as “state land”.

No doubt you can claim the land, provided you can prove that your great-great forefathers created the

Bruno Manser: Laki Penan

rights over the land. The onus is therefore on the claimants. And very few people can prove it. They can depend only on “tuai rumah” (longhouse headman) or penghulus to be their witnesses. But the headmen and penghulus have been warned by the government not to simply endorse such land as NCR land or else they will be in trouble – their appointment can be terminated or they can even go to jail.

Bringing the case to court will incur large sums of money. Putting a deposit as required by the court will cost RM10,000, and what about the legal fees? Even if you have the money, it will take time for the court to make a decision; assuming you win in the High Court, the state government can appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Again assuming you win, the state makes another appeal to the Federal Court. The case of Madeli Salleh gives us the best example. All in all, it takes from 10 to 20 years for the case to be settled. This is the government’s strategy – delaying tactics.

All these are a great disadvantage to the Dayaks when the NCR land is not titled. Any time the government wants their land, it is difficult for them to fight back, especially when Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Sarawak’s second minister of resource planning and management, announced the government’s policy on land on June 16, 2005. He said “all lands not surveyed or any land not issued a land title, including lands under NCR, are government lands”.

As a result of this policy, the government has acquired practically all the good lands from Limbang to Baram, Bintulu, Miri, Sibu, Kapit, Betong, and Simanggang, and from Samarahan to Kuching Divisions. And all these lands totalling1,268,888.161 hectares have been approved or earmarked for plantation estates, according to the 2005 third-quarter reports of the Land and Survey Department.

The bulk of these lands are NCR land which are to be planted with oil palm, rubber, banana and sago. The majority of all these go to Taib’s family members and cronies.

According to the “Laporan Statistik Suku Ketiga Tahun 2005 Bagi Tanah Ladang” prepared by the Land and Survey Department in Kuching, Taib’s brother-in-law Robert Ganid has been given 16,000ha in Sungai Ensengai, Samarahan Division. It was approved in May 2004. The company’s name is Lambang Sinar Mas Sdn Bhd.

Narodeen Majais, assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s department, had his application for 16,486ha approved between March 1996 and February 1998. The application was made under a number of companies such as Pelita Nirwana Muhibbah (4,555ha at Tg Midin, Serian), Gedong Plantation (3,770ha at Btg Karang, Serian), Hydroflow Sdn Bhd (2,775ha between Btg Sadong and Sungai Simunjan and Gedong) and Indranika Jaya Sdn Bhd (1,906ha at Tg Embang, Simunjan).

Syed Abu Bakar Almohdzar’s companies — Melur Gemilang Sdn Bhd and Kumpulan Kris Jati Sdn Bhd — were given a provisional lease to develop 23,744ha between Sungai Simunjan Kanan and Btg Sadong.

Deputy Minister Alfred Jabu’s family members and cronies also received a provisional lease to plant oil palm. Utahol Sdn Bhd, a company owned by Jabu’s son, Gerald Rentap, was given approval to plant 6,900ha in Ulu Medamit, Limbang.

Jabu’s nephew, Robert Lawson Chuat, had been given a provisional lease to plant 3,665ha with oil palm at Batu Api, Betong and 1581.8ha at Tg Bijat, Simanggang. His company is Durafarm Sdn Bhd.

Henry Jantun, closely associated with Jabu, has also been granted a lease to plant oil palm in 2,873ha between Btg Lupar and Btg Layar, Betong, and 2,127ha at Tg Bijat, Simnaggang, under the name of Everherald Sdn Bhd. On top of that, his company had also been given 2,000ha between Betong and Simanggang for integrated farming.

The government also approved provisional leases to big companies like Bintulu Lumber Development Sdn Bhd, Sarawak Oil Palm Bhd, Tabung Haji, Saremas, KTS, Green Ace Resources, RH Plantation, Samling Plantation, and Shin Yang Oil Palm Sdn Bhd, to name a few.

There are also government-linked companies like Pelita (Land Custody Development Authority), Sarawak Land Development Board and Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority that have been given provisional leases to develop the land for the planting of oil palm.

Legal wrangles

Almost all of these companies have problems with the natives whose NCR lands are within the areas given to them. Besides mounting blockades, the natives are also suing them and the government. For now, there are 203 cases still pending in the High Court.

Who is actually to be blamed for the blunder? Surely it is the government because it has misled the companies into believing that the lands are state lands. Naturally these companies come in and pay their land premium; then they start to clear the land off trees, shrubs and thick bushes. In the process, they also destroy the natives’ rubber trees, fruit trees, and cash crops. Certainly the natives are furious.

Lodging reports with the police are useless because the police cannot take action. These companies are armed with provisional leases and claim to have the right to fell trees or fruit trees in the stated area. Although the natives claim that the lands belong to them, they are put at a disadvantage as they have no land titles to prove that the lands are theirs.

So confrontation begins between the companies and the natives. As land is their life, the natives will not bow to any pressure. Instead, they will resort to setting up blockades because the authorities have failed to help them.

In the meantime, they seek the services of legal firms with a view to stopping (these companies from encroaching their lands) and claiming damages. When some companies from Peninsular Malaysia know that there are such things as NCR land, they abandon the project and leave. But for those who think they have the right, they stay on and find themselves in court. So far the natives have won all the 20 cases that have been settled in the High Court. Many of these companies have spent a colossal amount of money paying lawyers, court costs, and compensations.

The courts have made it clear that NCR land should include “pulau galau” (communal forest), “pemakai menua” (territorial domain), “temuda” (farming land) and “tembawai” (old sites of longhouses).

“This decision was confirmed by the Federal Court when it decided the case of Madeli bin Salleh vs the state government in 2007, which was based on the Nor Anak Nyawai case in 2001,” said Baru Bian, a prominent NCR land lawyer.

“This is the land that they must survey and give titles to,” said Baru, who is the chairman of Sarawak PKR, pointing out that the state government has a different definition of customary right lands.

“What I want to hear loud and clear now from the chief minister is he will make an undertaking to the people of Sarawak to survey all NCR land. This is what we want to hear from the state government.

“There should be no political rhetoric. The Dayaks are rebelling,” he said, urging the government to allocate more money as RM20 million is insufficient to carry out survey works.

But there are questions that beg answers: Why did the government suddenly decide to survey all NCR land? Is it a political gimmick to win the hearts and minds of the rural people before the state election?

James Masing, State Land Development Minister, who knows the general thinking of the public, says that the announcement made by Najib is not a political gimmick. It is real, he said.

The BN government knows that the coming election is crucial and it considers the rural areas as its “fixed deposit”. Thus, it is no wonder that it made the promise to survey all NCR land. In the urban constituencies, it has more or less been confirmed that BN is in big trouble.

The natives have already made up their minds, especially those who have suffered so much over the last 10 years. And following rampant abuses of their NCR land, the landowners have realised the gravity of their problems and are united in their stand.

They have banded and formed the NCR Land Owners Association. This association works closely with Suhakam, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association and other NGOs. Together they are prepared to highlight their problems at international forums, including the United Nations.

And the opposition Pakatan Rakyat is certain to use the NCR land issue as its main topic in the rural areas in the coming state election. It has promised landowners that in the event of an opposition victory, NCR land will be returned to the owners. This is what worries Najib.

Mahathir takes on Anwar, Blair and the Media


July 29, 2010

Mahathir takes on his Detractors

by Aidila Razak & Richard Loo Wai Hoong @http://www.malaysiakini.com (July 28, 2010)

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad killed three birds with one stone when he delivered the keynote address at the Asian Bloggers and Social Media Conference this morning.

True to character, Mahathir who is a regular blogger, managed to hit out at several of his detractors albeit without mentioning names. On the receiving end was “a Malaysian politician” – evidently Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (left) – who was mocked in an example of how blogs surpass global boundaries.

Mahathir said that, with the advent of blogs, the foreign media appear to be having second thoughts about this individual.

“There is a Malaysian politician who is praised by the foreign press most of the time because (they) want to see a regime change in Malaysia,” he told an audience of about 200. Now they seem to be changing their minds (through) their writing in blogs about this person.”

Thanks to blogs, he said, it is now known that “so-and-so has been involved in activities detrimental to the nation”.

Mahathir, who was escorted into the hall by Berjaya CEO Vincent Tan, again expertly dragged Anwar into the fray when commenting on the importance of telling the truth when blogging. He illustrated his point by explaining why he has not taken legal action against author Barry Wain, who had claimed that Mahathir ‘squandered’ RM100 billion during his 22-year tenure as prime minister.

“People ask me if I want to sue. The process of law is long and can go on for years. For example, (in) one case in Malaysia , a trial (is being) held up due to delaying tactics by a person concerned,” he said.

This is a likely reference to Anwar’s ongoing sodomy trial which has been stretched out due to several applications by the defence.

The only person with the ‘privilege’ of being named outright was former British prime minister Tony Blair (right), who was branded a “liar” for declaring war against Iraq.

“This liar was invited to speak on how to achieve things. He was paid RM1 million to tell (a group of ‘Malaysian achievers’ and) teach them how to lie,” he said of a pet subject.

Taste of his own medicine

The media was not left unscathed as Mahathir, often criticised for imposing media blackouts while in office, complained about “getting a taste of my own medicine”.  However, he claimed that gag orders in his time had been issued with “good intentions”, unlike those imposed by “others who have bad intentions towards (me)”.

Mahathir said he started blogging when he fell out of favour with “some editors” and that he is now “shocked” to know that even Israelis are reading his blog.  “I get some Zionists getting angry with me over what I say but they have a right to be angry, just as I have a right to be angry with them,” he said.

In supporting freedom of speech, Mahathir said the only thing that should be censored on the Internet is pornography.  This is because easy access to pornography has led to a rise in sex crimes in Malaysia, particularly among “young and excitable people”.

“Imagine a teenager seeing all this filthy pornography and he gets worked up, and the next thing he sees is an old lady or a baby and he needs to get rid of his tension.

“I went (in) to see (if the material is easily accessible) for my education. You put ‘sex’ in Yahoo and all types of filth came through,” he said, to much amusement.

More than 400 participants are expected over the two-day conference in Kuala Lumpur. It features discussions on freedom of speech and the legal ramifications of blogging.

Record 2010 Growth for Singapore’s Economy


July 29, 2010

Singapore’s Economy: Record high growth of around 15% in 2010

(AP) Singapore expects its economy to soar 15 percent this year after a record expansion in the second quarter that suggests Asia’s recovery from the global recession remains on track.

Gross domestic product for April through June grew 19.3 percent from a year earlier when the economy was shrinking because of the global recession, the Trade and Industry Ministry said Wednesday. The growth was the fastest since the government began releasing quarterly GDP figures in 1975.

The Ministry raised its forecast for the city-state’s economic growth this year to a range of 13 percent to 15 percent from the previous forecast of 7 percent to 9 percent. It also raised its forecast for export growth as global demand has stayed strong amid Europe’s debt and fiscal crisis.

“This should reinforce the view that fears from the eurozone crisis may be exaggerated,” DBS Bank said in a report.

Singapore, which has the highest percentage of millionaires in the world, is the first Asian economy to announce GDP results for the April-to-June quarter. The tiny island nation is often seen as a barometer of world demand because its economy – built on manufacturing and services like finance – is one of the most export-reliant in Asia.

Manufacturing in the April-June quarter recorded explosive growth of 45.5 percent compared with a year earlier.

“Growth was driven by a surge in the output of biomedical manufacturing, as well as a strong expansion in electronics underpinned by healthy worldwide demand,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Construction grew 13.5 percent while services expanded 11.4 percent. The opening of two casino resorts this year by Las Vegas Sands and Malaysia’s Genting have helped attract record visitors.

Tourists and locals alike are buying more. Mastercard said its cardholders spent 23 percent more last month from a year earlier amid the start of an annual nationwide retail sale.

The Ministry revised first-quarter GDP growth to 16.9 percent from 15.5 percent. The second quarter results were preliminary, based on data from April and May. On an annualized and seasonally adjusted basis, the economy grew 26 percent in the second quarter.

The economy will likely slow in the second half of the year as the U.S. and Europe battle high unemployment and fiscal austerity measures.”The momentum of the global economic recovery has moderated, although a double-dip recession remains unlikely,” the Ministry said.  Citigroup said it expects Singapore’s economy to grow 15.5 percent this year and 4.6 percent next year.