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An MP found guilty of racial abuse has announced he will stand down at the next election.

Bob Stewart, who has represented the London constituency of Beckenham since 2010, revealed his decision in a brief statement on X, formerly Twitter, which made no reference to the recent court case.

Following his conviction, the 74-year-old surrendered the Conservative whip while he considered a possible appeal.

He currently sits as an independent MP in the House of Commons.

Mr Stewart said in a post on the social media platform: “Serving Beckenham as its member of Parliament for 13 years has been an honour and privilege.

“I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has given me this opportunity.

“However, it is time for a new candidate, so I will not be seeking re-election at the next election.”

The geographical boundary of his Beckenham constituency is expected to be changed at the next general election following a review aimed at equalising population sizes across the seats at Westminster.

A new constituency of Beckenham and Penge has been proposed.

Earlier this month, Mr Stewart was found guilty at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court of racially abusing an activist by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”.

The former army officer, who served as a United Nations commander in Bosnia, was fined £600, with additional legal costs bringing the total to £1,435.

Stewart was found guilty of racially abusing Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei
The MP was found guilty of racially abusing Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei

The court heard the MP had become involved in a confrontation with a protester outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House in Westminster in December 2022.

He had been attending an event hosted by the Bahraini embassy when Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei shouted: “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

During an ensuing row, Mr Stewart said: “Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain.”

He also told Mr Alwadaei: “You’re taking money off my country, go away.”

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While highlighting Mr Stewart’s “immense positive character”, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said: “I accept he is not racist per se, but that is not the case against him.

“Good men can do bad things.”

Mr Stewart told the court he was “not a racist” and that it had been “extremely offensive” for the demonstrator to suggest he was “corrupt”.

Referring to the charge, he said: “That’s absurd, it’s totally unfair, my life has been, I don’t want to say destroyed, but I am deeply hurt at having to appear in a court like this.”

Mr Stewart had argued his “honour was at stake in front of a large number of ambassadors”.

The military veteran, who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969, said he is a “friend” of the Middle Eastern country.

A crowdfunding page set up by Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, to cover Mr Stewart’s fine and any further legal costs has already raised more than £18,000.

Mr Stewart joins a growing list of Tory MPs who have announced they will not stand at the next general election, expected next year.

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Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts




Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts

The Singaporean government released its updated national strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) 2.0 on Dec. 4, in which it outlined how it plans to embrace innovation and tackle the challenges coupled with the technology. 

Singapore structured its AI strategy into three distinct systems, consisting of ten “enablers,” which drive those systems and then 15 action steps to make the system work. It’s first AI strategy was introduced in 2019.

The updated plan’s systematic approach focuses on three main areas of its society, including what it calls “activity drivers,” “people and communities,” and “infrastructure and environment.”

Building a smart nation

Among the action steps is Singapore’s plan to develop new AI “Centers of Excellence” (CoEs) across companies operating in the country to foster “sophisticated AI value creation and usage in key sectors.”

The updated AI plan also has benchmarks of equipping governmental agencies with “specialized knowledge, technical capabilities, and regulatory tools” and “sharpening” AI proficiency in all Singaporean public officers.

According to the vision, Singapore plans to use its government capacity to create resources to support AI adoption in the public sector.

Additionally, it said it plans to boost its quantity of “AI practitioners” or local experts to 15,000 through scaling up AI-specific training programs and technology and AI talent pipelines, and that it “remains open” to global talent.

The report said that various tech training programs centered around AI development have placed over 2,700 individuals in “good jobs” to date.

Increasing compute

Singapore, like many other countries around the world, said it also plans to increase its computing capacity.

To do this, Singapore said it plans to “deepen” partnerships with major players in the industry, including chipmakers and cloud services providers (CSPs), as well as support local Singapore-based compute industry firms.

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It plans to implement its action steps over the next 3-5 years to support its ambitions in the AI sector.

Singapore follows other countries in its push to embrace AI. Recently, at its AI Safety Summit, the United Kingdom said it plans to invest 300 million pounds into obtaining and operating 2 AI supercomputers to boost its own footprint in the global AI race. 

OpenAI, one of the world’s leading AI developers, announced a partnership with G42 in Dubai to expand its reach into the Middle East region.

Meanwhile, the United States, one of the world’s top chip manufacturing hubs, has begun to tighten export controls targeting certain countries on its technology to develop and power high-level AI systems.

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