ST Explainers: Panama Papers, messaging apps and diabetes

All WhatsApp messages will now be accessible only to the sender and recipient.
All WhatsApp messages will now be accessible only to the sender and recipient. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

International news in the past fortnight was dominated by the fallout from the Panama Papers leak. The documents were from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialised in setting up offshore companies where the rich could park their assets. Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson had to quit after the papers revealed his family hid a fortune in offshore accounts while members of China's Communist Party elite were also implicated.

Beyond shady financial issues, our explainers spanned a wide range of topics, from the serious - a primer on diabetes which affects many Singaporeans - to the quirky: How to maximise your leave for 2017 and whether the weather really is hot enough to cook an egg on the pavement.

Panama Papers expose hidden wealth

The release of the Panama Papers, a trove of 11.5 million tax documents, caused an uproar on April 3. The papers, which date back nearly 40 years, reveal how the rich, the famous and the well-connected use offshore companies to hide their financial assets. Get a rundown on the papers and their implications with our explainer.

Among those named in the papers are eight of China's Communist Party elite whose family members used offshore companies. Find out more about those who are named in this listicle.

WhatsApp encrypts messages

Popular chat message app WhatsApp upped its encryption game recently with an announcement that all its messages will now have end-to-end encryption, making messages accessible only to the sender and the recipient. We compare four chat apps - WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat and Line - and see how they, and their security features, stack up against each other.

Singapore's diabetes problem

Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations, according to a 2015 report by the International Diabetes Federation, and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared a "war on diabetes" in Parliament on Wednesday. Here is a quick primer on the condition, from the types of diabetes to various methods of prevention.

MAS eases stance on Sing$

On Thursday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced a surprise change to its monetary policy, adopting a zero-appreciation policy for the Singapore dollar. Business reporter Marissa Lee explains what this means.

Long weekends next year

To end on a lighter note this week, it is never too early to plan your holidays. News broke on April 5 that 2017 will bring a bumper crop of seven long weekends. We show you how to maximise your leave allowance to turn it into 10 long weekends for that quick getaway.

Can you cook an egg on the pavement?

With no end in sight to the hot spell, we decided to test the old aphorism that the weather is so hot you could cook an egg on the pavement. Check out the results of the experiment at

Tulipmania at Gardens by the Bay

And if you just want to escape the heat, we suggest a visit to the Gardens by the Bay's annual Tulipmania display, which is on till May 22. Before you go, check out seven things to know about the flowers, from how it got its name (from the Turkish word for turban) to the different cultivars on show at the Gardens.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2016, with the headline 'ST Explainers: Panama Papers, messaging apps and diabetes'. Subscribe