Four reasons for Brazil's resurgence
Our writer lists the reasons for the Samba Boys' resurgence
(Miranda 2, Neymar 74)
1 THE MANAGER
Tite, appointed three months ago, was the man tasked to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor Dunga.
The new Brazil coach got the house spick and span in no time. Two wins in his first two matches have restored order back in the South American powerhouses.
After leading his side to a 3-0 away win in Quito last week - Brazil's first-ever win in the Ecuadorian capital - they downed Colombia 2-1 to move within a point of World Cup qualifying (South America) leaders Uruguay yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Tite's rapport with the supporters and the Brazilian media played a huge part in creating a feel-good factor to lift the spirits of the national team, who were still reeling from the 7-1 World Cup semi-final drubbing by Germany in 2014 and a calamitous Copa America campaign three months ago.
The 55-year-old worked his magic at Corinthians, with whom he clinched the Brazilian Championship in 2011, the Copa Libertadores in the subsequent year, and the Brasileirao again in his third stint at the club last year, to prove that he is more than just a savvy man with the gift of the gab.
Under Dunga, Brazil were a team of brilliant individuals. Tite managed to harness the artistry to turn them into a formidable collective force.
Brazil's disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign had far-reaching repercussions. Established players shouldered the bulk of the blame, and many of them were cast into the international wilderness.
The disappointment also created a toxic atmosphere of wanting to recapture their glory days too quickly, indirectly contributing an intense pressure to perform.
But Tite, armed with the almost unanimous backing of everyone in Brazil, has steadied the ship and lifted the enormous strain off his players. It showed in the way the team played their last two games.
The side were overflowing with confidence in their 3-0 away win over Ecuador, despite the match being played at a high altitude.
Yesterday morning, they displayed their resilience after Colombia cancelled out Miranda's early opening goal.
They kept plugging away until second-half substitute Philippe Coutinho set up Neymar for a superb deciding goal 16 minutes from time.
Tite said after the game: "I am very happy because the players will return to their clubs feeling the same or better as when they arrived."
Neymar's reputation, unlike many of his former teammates, wasn't tainted by the 2014 World Cup because he missed the semi-finals through injury. The country sees him as the weapon to launch them back among the elite, and he hasn't let them down.
Fresh from helping the Under-23 side to their first Olympic gold last month, he has been in superb form for Tite.
He scored the opening goal against Ecuador last week, and impressed again yesterday morning with an assist and the winning goal.
At just 24 years old, the Barcelona forward has moved level with legend Zico on the all-time Brazilian goal-scoring chart, with 48 goals in 72 appearances.
His winner, a clinical grounder into the bottom corner of the Colombian goal, summed up his qualities - opportunism, precision and wonderful technique.
4 EMERGING TALENT
The same side that started against Ecuador took to the field yesterday morning. The line-up revealed a promising crop of young players Tite is counting on to book their ticket to Russia.
Some are new, while some are simply given more chances to shine.
Gabriel Jesus, who scored twice on his senior debut last week, was kept quiet by the Colombians but the 19-year-old has shown positive signs that Brazil's long search for a No. 9 may end with him.
Marquinhos, 22, might have scored an own goal yesterday morning but otherwise he has looked reliable in the backline.
The stock of Casemiro, a 24-year-old defensive midfielder, is rising fast while Alisson, 23, can be optimistic of a long international career ahead of him in goal.
There were also solid, youthful options on the bench for Tite.
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, who provided the assist for Neymar against Colombia after coming on as a substitute, is still only 24.
Gabriel Barbosa, 20, who caught the eye of Barcelona before moving to Inter Milan last month, is also a raw gem tipped for the top.
With a right mix of youth and experience in the squad, no wonder Brazilian fans are feeling optimistic once more.
- Uruguay 4 Paraguay 0, Chile 0 Bolivia 0, Peru 2 Ecuador 1.
Types of mosquito-repelling plants
Swell in demand for mosquito-repelling plants
Nurseries say more people want mosquito-repelling plants
Plant nurseries are reporting an increase in demand for plants that are touted to have mosquito repellent properties.
Several nurseries The New Paper approached said that more people are asking about and looking for the citronella grass since news of the Zika virus being locally transmitted here broke late last month.
Sales and marketing director of Far East Flora Peter Cheok declined to reveal sales figures, but said the company had to "more than double the usual order" for mosquito-repelling plants.
It had a "few pots left" when TNP called earlier in the week. By Wednesday, it was stocking new plants.
Meanwhile, commercial repellent products are increasing using plant-based ingredientsas they are commonly perceived as "safe" and therefore popular among consumers.
Other mosquito-repelling plants include rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and lemon balm.
Ms Joeann Chua, director of Hua Hng Trading, a wholesaler for plants and landscaping materials, said sales for Pelargonium graveolens, commonly referred to as the "mosquito plant", were "higher than normal".
She said: "The plant gives off a citronella scent and is effective in keeping mosquitoes away from a small room or space.
"We are currently totally sold out and our current incoming stocks for this week are only enough to cover some advanced orders."
As the demand for anti-mosquito products surged, NTUC FairPrice placed an additional order for 175,000 of different types of insect repellents and insecticides.
They will arrive in batches this week and will be dispatched to its stores islandwide.
More than 115,000 anti-mosquito products were bought at its outlets from last Thursday to Sunday.
Chief executive officer of NTUC FairPrice Seah Kian Peng said: "We want to assure the community that additional stocks of anti-mosquito products are being sent to our stores and we will keep prices stable. There is no need to stock up as we will continue to bring in more supplies."
Haw Par Corporation, which owns the Tiger Balm brand, told TNP the sales of its Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent range has risen dramatically.
"We have been gearing up for the fight against dengue for some time, but the Zika epidemic caught us by surprise," its spokesman said.
"We are ramping up and have asked our factories to step up production urgently to meet the sudden surge in demand."
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CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION MEMBERS
- Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
- Justice Tay Yong Kwang, Supreme Court judge
- Mr Eddie Teo, chairman of Public Service Commission
- Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, former Speaker of Parliament
- Professor Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large
- Mr Chua Thian Poh, chairman and CEO of Ho Bee Land
- Mr Philip Ng Chee Tat, CEO of Far East Organization
- Mr Peter Seah Lim Huat, chairman of DBS Bank
- Mr Wong Ngit Liong, chairman and CEO of Venture Corp
Elected presidency: Proposed changes and reasons
The Constitutional Commission appointed to look into the elected presidency released its recommendations yesterday.
The bar for eligibility of Presidential candidates will be raised if these recommendations come into effect.
$100 million paid-up capital as an indicator of a private company's size and complexity
$500 million shareholders' equity, with a review from time to time to meet changes in the economic environment.
The current criterion is no longer relevant.
In the 1990s, only 158 of around 80,000 Singapore-incorporated companies made the cut.
As of March, the number of eligible companies has tripled, to about 600, with a minimum paid-up capital of around $431 million.
This shows things have changed.
It is better to use companies with a $500 million shareholders' equity threshold as they would be big and complex enough for their heads to have the requisite technical skills, experience and expertise in financial matters that make them suitable candidates for the presidency.
Shareholders' equity is a better proxy for a company's size and complexity as it reflects its current recorded worth.
A company might have had substantial paid-up capital at its inception, but its reserves may have significantly depleted over time if its growth stagnated and liabilities accumulated, the Commission noted.
Candidates in both public and private sectors must have served in the qualifying offices for at least three years
Doubled duration of six years
It takes time to acquire and hone the requisite skills. Also, the length of time one spends in an office can be an indirect indication of that person's success in discharging the responsibilities of that office.
No performance criterion for eligible private sector candidates
There must have been net profitability during the entire period that the applicant held the qualifying office. The company must not have gone into liquidation or entered any other type of insolvency process within three years of the applicant ceasing to be the holder of the qualifying office, or by Nomination Day for the presidential election in question, whichever is earlier.
This is so that those who qualify are capable of undertaking the tasks entrusted to the president. The Commission found this criterion unsuitable for public sector candidates.
Candidates need to be chairman or chief executive officer (CEO) of a company to be eligible
The terms "chairman" and "chief executive officer" to be replaced with a general reference, such as "the most senior executive position of the company, however that office may be titled".
As it stands, the current terms would mean that an individual can qualify as long as he has been the chairman or CEO of a company that meets the requirements, regardless of the actual nature and scope of his work within the company.
Some large companies may have non-executive chairmen who are not actively involved in running the company and are consequently unlikely to possess the necessary expertise or experience, the Commission said.