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Thread: Singapore Also Can
04-21-2010, 10:22 PM #1684
S'pore banking system: Top 4
The Straits Times
Apr 22, 2010
By Gabriel Chen
SINGAPORE'S banking system has emerged from the global financial crisis as one of the Top 4 in the world along with Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, according to ratings agency Moody's.
Moody's Investors Service rated the banking sector in these four jurisdictions as having a 'stable' outlook with an averaged bank rating of B, one notch below the highest rating A.
Singapore banks have been more resilient than many global banks throughout the crisis, with limited damage to their asset quality, adequate earnings, and very liquid and well-capitalised balance sheets.
'Strong liquidity and capital positions have always been Singaporean banks' comparative strengths,' Moody's vice-president and senior analyst Christine Kuo told The Straits Times.
'Their asset quality and earnings were far less affected this time than during the Asian crisis because the corporate sector had entered the recession with a stronger financial position.'
The learning experience gleaned from the economic challenges following the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 also helped Hong Kong sail through the latest major economic storm and emerge relatively unscathed.
04-21-2010, 10:38 PM #1685
Over S$100m invested in RWS' first circus show, stars Jonathan Leong
Channel News Asia
21 April 2010 1548 hrs
By Dylan Loh
SINGAPORE: Well-over S$100 million has been invested into infrastructure and production costs for staging Southeast Asia's first circus spectacular show.
"Voyage de la Vie" opens at Resorts World Sentosa on 17 June.
And organisers say response has been encouraging, with the best seats worth $188 making up 60 per cent of tickets sold so far.
The integrated resort also unveiled the cast of its circus spectacular.
He made his name as the runner up Singapore Idol in 2006. Now Jonathan Leong is headlining "Voyage de la Vie" ("Journey of Life" in French), a reflection, perhaps, of the path he has taken.
Says Mr Leong: "It's been wonderful, fantastic. This is by far my dream job. I get to do everything that I'm good at, you know, I'm good at stuff like that - physical stuff. I'm a really outgoing, active, kind of guy."
He leads an international cast which includes Viktor Kee recognised as one of the best jugglers in the world, French trapeze contortionist Aurelia Cats, and Jarrett & Raja, the Las Vegas duo famous for their innovative illusions and magic acts.
As "Boy", Jonathan meets unusual characters symbolising his inner search for an adult identity, in what's been billed as an East-meets-West circus extravaganza.
Expect acrobatics and stunts galore in the 90-minute show.
Rehearsals for the first show in June have been demanding.
Says juggler Viktor Kee: "We start with the main training, warm-up, fitness, and then it could be a make-up, design, choreography of certain moments in the show, and then go to quick another hour to costume fitting."
This may be a circus, but with hopes of delivering something to rival international acts, you can be sure these performers won't be clowning around.
Singapore singer and songwriter Jonathan Leong headlines the international cast of Resorts World Sentosa's first circus spectacular show 'Voyage de la Vie'
Viktor Kee, regarded as one of the best jugglers in the world
Resorts World Sentosa' circus show 'Voyage de la Vie'
Last edited by Loh; 04-21-2010 at 10:47 PM.
04-21-2010, 10:58 PM #1686
Record 12.8m people use Singapore's sports facilities
21 April 2010 1945 hrs
By Patwant Singh
SINGAPORE : A record 12.84 million people used Singapore's sports facilities in the past 12 months ending March.
The Singapore Sports Council said this is the highest number achieved in the council's history, since it operated the first swimming pool in Queenstown in 1970.
More Singaporeans, like 45-year-old Ernice Sim, are keeping fit. She hits the gym three times a week - at the Sengkang Sports and Recreation Centre.
She said: "Despite being incapacitated, I still feel that should not be the barrier to keeping fit, and I have always put my mind on keeping myself healthy and strong."
Such dedication contributed to the healthy number of users of sports facilities over the past year - an increase of about a million from the previous year.
Sengkang saw the biggest year-on-year increase, among similar facilities in Singapore, with its numbers almost doubling.
Kenneth Hui, Chief, Sports Facilities Group, Singapore Sports Council, said: "In Sengkang, the increase ... from last year, which was 597,000 to this year's 900-over thousand.
"This is a new facility - it is easily accessible. There are also more facilities involved, rather (than) in the surrounding areas."
Tampines, Sengkang and Hougang are the top 3 most visited sports facilities in Singapore.
Tampines had 1.27 million users, up from the 1.1 million in 2008 - a smaller increase compared to Sengkang.
In fact, the sports council said the closure of some facilities for last year's Asian Youth Games did not have a major impact, as users went to nearby alternatives.
Swimming pools saw the highest number of visitors, with some 7.564 million taking a dip.
Second was the sports halls, which had 1.885 million visitors, and third was the ClubFITT gyms with 1.835 million users.
The figures reported covered those who paid to use the sports facilities. But Singapore Sports Council understands that quite a few use sports facilities for free, like the running tracks at stadiums. These numbers will be better reflected when the latest national sports participation survey is out next year.
04-21-2010, 11:37 PM #1687
Planting a Forest of Giants
The Straits Times
Apr 22, 2010
Southern Ridges to serve as a reserve for many species
By Grace Chua
IN FIFTY years, Singapore's Southern Ridges landscape will look much as it might have in past centuries.
The National Parks Board (NParks) has planted more than 400 slow-growing, giant trees across a swathe of land from Telok Blangah Hill Park to Mount Faber.
Yesterday, the Sembcorp Forest of Giants was launched at Telok Blangah Hill Park, with National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan as guest of honour.
The minister planted a Tualang (Koompassia excelsa) sapling, a South-east Asia native which can grow to the height of a 30-storey HDB block. 'This will be a living legacy that can benefit our population for many generations to come,' said Mr Mah.
The arboretum or collection of trees is sponsored by utilities and services company Sembcorp Industries, which gave $1 million to the NParks' Garden City Fund.
The sum will also support conservation and education projects.
Mr Mah (right) plants a sapling at the launch of the Sembcorp Forest of Giants together with Sembcorp chairman Peter Seah (left) and board member Goh Geok Ling as CEO Tang Kin Fei looks on. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN
04-21-2010, 11:42 PM #1688
DPM Teo says S'pore & China enjoy close relations
21 April 2010 2342 hrs
By Satish Cheney
SINGAPORE : Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday Singapore and China have enjoyed close and broad-based relations even before the establishment of diplomatic ties.
Mr Teo, who is now on an official visit to China, was speaking at a dialogue session with the China Executive Leadership Academy in Yan'an.
He said, "As a result of our mutual efforts, China and Singapore enjoy excellent bilateral relations. We have ties in trade and investment, foreign affairs and defence, training and education, arts and culture, and people-to-people exchanges.
"The flagship Suzhou Industrial Park facilitated many exchanges. From 2008, with the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project, we now also have close cooperation in sustainable development."
Mr Teo also extended his deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and victims of the earthquake in Yushu County in Qinghai Province.
DPM Teo Chee Hean in Yan'an, China.
04-22-2010, 03:14 AM #1689
Foreign Ministers of Singapore & Romania discuss Ionescu case
22 April 2010 1338 hrs
SINGAPORE : Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo has had a discussion on the Silviu Ionescu case with his Romanian counterpart.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the chance opportunity arose as both Mr Yeo and Mr Teodor Baconschi were waiting for their audience with Pope Benedict at St Peter's Square on Wednesday.
MFA in a statement said Mr Yeo expressed the anguish which Singaporeans felt on the case and emphasised the importance of justice being done.
Mr Baconschi replied that he was sympathetic to the feelings of Singaporeans and informed Mr Yeo that the matter was being given the highest attention by the Romanian authorities.
He added that Romania was pursuing the full legal course.
He assured Mr Yeo that justice would be done.
MFA said both Ministers committed themselves to good bilateral relations.
Mr Baconschi then extended an invitation to Mr Yeo to visit Bucharest.
The Singapore Court has ruled that former Romanian diplomat, Dr Silviu Ionescu, was indeed the driver of a car involved in a hit-and-run accident on 15th December last year.
The accident resulted in the death of 30-year-old Singapore permanent resident, Tong Kok Wai, and injured two others.
Dr Ionescu left Singapore on 18 December 2009, three days after the accident
04-22-2010, 04:17 AM #1690
These cases are always so sticky. I think every country has had a case like this, where a foreign diplomat leaves the country after breaking a law under the aegis of diplomatic immunity.
I understand the necessity of this tradition in international relations, but the victim's family and fellow citizens no doubt feel that the perpetrator will only get a 'slap on the wrist' at home.
However, the tone of this article is hopeful that full justice will be done.
04-22-2010, 05:11 AM #1691
04-22-2010, 11:21 AM #1692
Forging stronger S'pore-China ties
The Straits Times
Apr 22, 2010
DEPUTY Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping on Thursday underlined their commitment to seeking stronger relations. Mr Teo, who is also Defence Minister, held talks with Mr Xi in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
'As this year marks the 20th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, China would like to work with Singapore to take relations to a new high and contribute to world and regional peace and stability,' Mr Xi was quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency as telling Mr Teo.
China and Singapore will mark the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties on Oct 3. Mr Teo said a range of events was being planned for the anniversary, Xinhua reported. Both leaders also stressed the importance of continuing bilateral exchanges in various fields, including defence and civil service.
Describing bilateral relations as 'robust', Mr Xi said China and Singapore should take a strategic and long-term view of bilateral ties and deepen cooperation, in the face of a complicated and capricious international situation.
Mr Teo, noting that Singapore and China are important trade partners, said Singapore was glad to see China's active and constructive role in world affairs. While in Beijing, Mr Teo also met top Chinese military leaders, according to a statement released by Singapore's Ministry of Defence on Thursday.
In his meeting with General Xu Caihou, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Mr Teo exchanged views with Gen Xu on the defence relationship between Singapore and China, including promoting bilateral and multilateral exchanges between Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Singapore Armed Forces
04-22-2010, 11:31 AM #1693
Japan backs Singapore's inclusion in G20
22 April 2010 2012 hrs
By Michiyo Ishida in Tokyo
TOKYO: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said Japan supports Singapore's inclusion in the Group of 20 (G20).
He was speaking to Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong who is on a visit to Japan. Thursday's meeting was the first between the two leaders.
Mr Hatoyama commended Singapore on its financial and economic development. He said he would like to see the city state play a bigger role on the international stage, through its participation in the G20 meetings.
Their talks also included the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held in Yokohama in November. They talked about free trade in the framework as the next step for the Asia Pacific region.
Mr Goh said the gathering of Asia Pacific leaders in Yokohama will be a good chance for APEC to review its progress and set directions for the future, especially as the region is just emerging from a global economic crisis.
Earlier, Senior Minister Goh met Japanese Minister of National Strategy Yoshito Sengoku and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima.
Mr Goh Chok Tong (L) shakes hands with Mr Yukio Hatoyama.
04-23-2010, 11:20 AM #1694
S'pore, M'sia make progress in efforts to improve links and connectivity
23 April 2010 2202 hrs
By Satish Cheney
SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia have made progress in several areas to promote links and improve connectivity.
These were highlighted at the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) meeting for Iskandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Singapore's National Development Minister, Mr Mah Bow Tan.
Also present were the Chief Minister of Johor, Mr Abdul Ghani Othman and Singapore Minister for Transport, Mr Raymond Lim.
The JMC reviewed the progress achieved so far by the joint Work Groups on Transportation, Immigration, Tourism, Environment and the Iconic Project.
The JMC has made significant progress in terms of enhancing connectivity between Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore.
On the transportation front, a One-Stop Service Centre in Johor Bahru has been set up for Malaysian and Singaporean public transport operators.
Another eight new bus routes between Singapore and JB will be launched.
Improvements to Cross-Border Taxi services are also being studied.
On immigration, the criteria for frequent traveller applicants for the Malaysia Automated Clearance System has been set at four times a month.
The Immigration Work Group also announced the implementation of 24-hour operations by Malaysian customs for all inbound and outbound lorries travelling through the Tanjung Puteri Cargo Complex.
The JMC also discussed several joint collaboration projects.
The Tourism Work Group agreed to adopt a themed approach in jointly marketing a dual destination experience with possibilities in sports, edu-culture and MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions).
The work group also shared the progress of the joint feasibility study to develop and market a transboundary, joint eco-tourism attraction involving Singapore's Sungei Buloh.
General view of the Causeway link connecting Singapore and Malaysia's southern state of Johor (background).
04-23-2010, 10:37 PM #1695
The Straits Times
Apr 24, 2010
Film-maker's first feature to debut at fest
By Wong Kim Hoh, Senior Writer
MAKING a debut feature film may be achievement enough. But to have that first effort selected for the world's most prestigious film festival - now, that is truly a triumph.
[B]Boo Jun Feng, 26, has accomplished that with his film Sandcastle.[/B] The movie - about a teenage boy who discovers his family's turbulent past during Singapore's formative years - will premiere at the International Critics' Week (ICW) at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
He has been walking on a cloud of mixed emotions since receiving the news earlier this week.
There is exhilaration.
'I've heard that the ICW is the best place to be for first-time directors,' says the film graduate from Lasalle College of the Arts.
Indeed, the ICW is where film-makers like Wong Kar Wai, Francois Ozon and Bernardo Bertolucci were first discovered. The competitive section also has a highly selective programme of only seven feature films and seven short films.
BOO Jun Feng, 26, is a film-maker whose debut feature Sandcastle - about a teenager who discovers his family's hidden past during Singapore's formative years - has been selected to screen at the International Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival from May 13 to 21.
One of three children of a civil servant and a former restaurant manager, Boo studied film at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the Lasalle College of the Arts.
Since 2004, he has made eight short films, and won awards locally and abroad. They include Keluar Baris (2008) which was shown at France's Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, as well as Tanjung Rhu, screened at the Berlin Film Festival last year.
Film-maker Boo Jun Feng is certainly not building sand castles in the sky. His short films have won awards here and abroad and his debut feature Sandcastle will premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
04-23-2010, 10:44 PM #1696
Hailed for making history
Apr 24, 2010
Her World honours first woman full minister and female Everest team
By Jessica Lim
IN THE end, it all came down to history.
When Her World magazine set about picking the Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever for its 50th anniversary, it received a slew of entries.
But after sifting through the nominees, it picked winners who would be remembered long after the confetti from yesterday's ball has been swept away.
For the Woman of the Year, the magazine picked Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, who gained a place in Singapore's history books by becoming the first woman full minister in April last year.
For its Young Woman Achiever award, the women's magazine picked the first Singaporean women to scale Mount Everest. It was the first time the magazine had handed out an award to a team.
This year's awards saw many outstanding candidates, but the eventual winners were a shoo-in, said chairman of the award's judging panel, CapitaLand's chief corporate officer Jennie Chua.
Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever award winners pose in this group photo. This year's awards saw many outstanding candidates, but the eventual winners were a shoo-in, said chairman of the award's judging panel, CapitaLand's chief corporate officer Jennie Chua. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
04-23-2010, 10:53 PM #1697
Record 2.82m visitors for National Heritage Board museums
23 April 2010 2227 hrs
By Shaffiq Alkhatib
SINGAPORE: A record of 2.82 million people visited the National Heritage Board's (NHB) museums in the last financial year.
This is about 200,000 more than the number of visitors in 2008.
Outreach figures also reached an all-time high with some 6.56 million people taking part in NHB's events between April 2009 and March this year.
The board said these followed generous contributions made by cultural philanthropists to Singapore's heritage scene.
It added that they made donations and loans amounting to close to S$11 million despite the recent economic downturn.
The philanthropists were recognised at the annual Patron of Heritage Awards ceremony held on Friday at the Asian Civilisations Museum.
They include organisations such the Singapore Post as well as the Mexican and Filipino embassies.
Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Lui Tuck Yew, said: "2009 had been a colourful and eventful year in our local cultural and heritage scene...community support has always been integral to the growth and development of the museums and heritage.
"We would like to thank the many individuals and organisations from all walks of life who had stepped forward with their contributions and enriched the cultural and heritage legacy of Singapore."
04-23-2010, 10:59 PM #1698
DPM Teo says China's security interests will grow with economy
23 April 2010 2228 hrs
By Wong Yee Fong
BEIJING : China's security interests will grow along with its economy and international involvement, said Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Friday.
Mr Teo, who is also Singapore's Defence Minister, said this at the end of a visit to China, during which he met senior political and military leaders.
As China's economic interests expand overseas, its security interests will also gradually coincide with those of other trading nations, said Singapore's deputy prime minister.
Mr Teo said: "If you see the way China deployed its naval forces to the Gulf of Aden, it showed that they too were concerned about the security of sea lanes, just as we and other maritime countries are concerned about the security of sea lanes.
"And I think in the process of such engagements and deployments, the PLA, PLA Navy in this case will learn more about how other countries, other navies operate ... and we will be able to find better ways of working together."
During his visit to China, Mr Teo met Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and senior leaders of the Central Military Commission and the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Noting that the two countries will mark the 20th anniversary of bilateral relation this October, both sides reaffirmed the importance of continuing bilateral cooperation in various fields, including defence and civil service exchanges.
The PLA also briefed Singapore's deputy prime minister on developments when he visited airforce units in Chengdu and Tianjin.
Mr Teo said China and Singapore are planning to hold their next joint exercise later this year. The first joint-exercise last year came in the wake of an agreement on defence exchanges and security cooperation in 2008.
04-24-2010, 07:54 AM #1699
Singapore's 'void decks' reflect racial rainbow
The Straits Times
Apr 24, 2010
SINGAPORE - STANDING in two rows with knees bent, 10 men slowly pushed their palms out against a slight breeze during a Chinese 'tai chi' martial arts session on the ground floor of a public housing block.
In similar places across the island, Malay weddings were taking place and Indian children shared playgrounds with kids from other races, including the occasional white boy or girl from expatriate families renting public flats.
Just a typical weekend in Singapore's 'void decks' - the shared open spaces under high-rise government-built apartments scattered across the densely populated city-state.
With more than 80 per cent of its ethnically diverse people staying in public flats - and foreigners now accounting for a third of the population of five million - void decks are an important part of daily life in Singapore.
Like blank canvasses on which Singapore's ethnic rainbow is painted, void decks host everything from weddings and funerals to romantic trysts and day-long chequers sessions that draw retirees from all ethnic groups.
'The void deck is a place for collective idling',' said Chua Beng Huat, a professor with the National University of Singapore's sociology department.
More than that, sharing the space is also part of Singapore's strictly enforced social policies aimed at ensuring harmony among the races in a region often torn by religious and ethnic strife.
Flats in every public housing estate are apportioned in accordance with Singapore's ethnic mix - 77 per cent Chinese, 14 per cent Malay and eight per cent Indian, based on a 2000 census - to prevent racial enclaves from forming.
Ethnic harmony is paramount to Singapore, which experienced race riots in the 1960s and is keen to avoid the tensions that periodically flare up in neighbouring Malaysia.
In two recent cases played up by local media, a Christian pastor was forced to apologise publicly for slurs against Taoists and Buddhists, while three Chinese youngsters are being investigated for anti-Indian rants on the web.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has used the void decks to underscore the need for ethnic tolerance, citing a rare incident that could have caused racial tensions to flare.
Lee related in a national day speech last August that families organising a Chinese funeral and a Malay wedding were in a tussle for the same void deck, but the situation was defused with the intervention of community leaders.
'If such an incident had been wrongly handled and you have a case which escalates into a racial or a religious conflict, then one case is bad enough,' he said.
A PLACE TO HANG OUT
FOR most Singaporeans, void decks are simply a neutral place to hang out and mix it up.
Wong Phui San, a 59-year-old retiree, takes a short bus ride to another district to play chequers because players there are up to his skill level.
'What else is there to do if I don't come here? This way I don't have to spend money. I'll only need to take the bus and I can spend my day here,' said Wong.
Weddings of ethnic Malays are often held at void decks on weekends.
Planners are called in to transform the space into a ballroom as the cement floors are carpeted, walls draped with long cloth and flowers, and a temporary dais is set up for the bride and groom.
'One main reason why the void deck is a popular wedding venue for the Malays is that it's cost-efficient,' said Nurdyana Lim, a Malay wedding planner.
The large scale of Malay weddings evolved from the village tradition of involving the entire family, long-lost relatives and neighbours to help out with the ceremony in the spirit of community, she said.
'They can invite more than 1,000 guests and not worry about having to spend as much as if they were to book a hotel ballroom,' she added.
Fitness buffs use void decks instead of paying gym fees.
'We like having the open space because even if we get more members, we will still have enough room to accommodate them,' said Bill Chan, a 34-year-old engineer who regularly attends tai chi sessions in one block.
Most void decks are equipped with stone tables, benches or bicycle racks and are situated near lifts and playgrounds.
Some are used to house childcare centres, convenience shops and senior citizens' corners equipped with a TV set, toilet, pantry and stone tables imprinted with chequerboards.
During funerals held by the ethnic Chinese community in the areas, a tented section hides the altar and the open coffin from view while sympathy wreaths are lined near the entrance.
Tables and chairs are provided for mourners who come to the wake, which spans three to five days.
On the last day of the wake, a funeral band trails the procession from the void deck to the crematorium or cemetery - with neighbours from across the ethnic spectrum often taking part.
Like blank canvasses on which Singapore's ethnic rainbow is painted, void decks host everything from weddings and funerals to romantic trysts and day-long chequers sessions that draw retirees from all ethnic groups. -- PHOTO: AFP
04-24-2010, 08:53 AM #1700
I'll be away on a week's holiday overseas and hope to resume with more updated news on Singapore on my return.
Thanks for your interest and support.
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