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Thread: Singapore Also Can
05-20-2010, 11:25 PM #1837
S'pore Art Museum collaborates with Paris' Centre Pompidou
20 May 2010 1400 hrs
By Surekha A Yadav
SINGAPORE: Southeast Asian contemporary art is set to get a boost in the international scene, when it features in high profile exhibition next year.
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) will collaborate with the internationally renowned Centre Pompidou from Paris to present a new media and video exhibition - "Video, an Art, a History 1965 - 2010. A Selection from the Centre Pompidou and Singapore Art Museums Collection".
The exhibition will make its way to Singapore for the first time in May next year. It will run from 27 May 2011 to 18 September 2011.
Both museums signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Thursday.
The exhibition has travelled to seven cities but the Singapore stop would be the first time Southeast Asian art will be presented.
The exhibition was originally conceived to explore the largest history of video art ever seen, exploring the evolution of video as a creative medium since the introduction of video.
The collection currently comprises more than one hundred thousand video and audiotapes and 70 multimedia installations.
SAM director Tan Boon Hui says: "Singapore Art Museum and Centre Pompidou's collection will share equal billing on this exhibition and since their collection is literally telling the story of the history of video art.
"It gives us a chance to insert Singapore and Southeast Asia into their overall story of video art around the world."
Southeast Asian artists include Lee Wen, Choy Ka Fai, Dinh Q Le.
President of Centre Pompidou Alain Seban says: "It will bring together our collection and that of the Singapore Art Museum so it is going to be very much a co-curated show that triggers a dialogue between artists from Southeast Asia and the big names of international art in the field of video art." - CNA/jy
Centre Pompidou in Paris, France
05-21-2010, 11:39 AM #1838
Singapore's Special Envoy senses "good effort" by Romania on Ionescu case
21 May 2010 1701 hrs
By Satish Cheney
SINGAPORE : Singapore's Special Envoy to Romania has said he sensed a "good effort" by Romanian authorities in the hit-and-run case of former diplomat Silviu Ionescu.
Anil Kumar Nayar said this after he met officials in Bucharest.
Dr Ionescu is wanted in Singapore in connection with a hit-and-run accident in December last year, which killed one pedestrian.
He is now in the custody of Romanian authorities.
Mr Nayar and a delegation of legal experts went to the capital Bucharest on Tuesday to assist in the case.
Their visit ended on Friday, with the Special Envoy having met officials from the Romanian foreign and justice ministries, as well as officials from the prosecutor's office.
During a teleconference with Singapore reporters, he said details cannot be given as investigations are still on-going. But the tone and direction appear positive.
Mr Nayar said: "After talking to them, our sense is that in line with the commitment given by the Foreign Minister of Romania to Minister George Yeo, a good effort is indeed being taken so far to move this case forward in line with the shared objective, I think, of the two countries to make sure that justice is served."
The Special Envoy said that obviously, more work needs to be done to make sure the momentum is sustained, not just on the hit-and-run case, but in terms of bilateral relations as well. And in the coming days, there will be some exchange of information between both countries.
The Special Envoy also said that during the meetings, a keenness was detected in Romanian officials to visit Singapore and look at the facts. But he is cautiously optimistic that the visit will take place. - CNA/ms
05-21-2010, 11:50 AM #1839
Attractions of Asia's first river-themed park River Safari unveiled
21 May 2010 1254 hrs
By Mustafa Shafawi / Hetty Musfirah
SINGAPORE: Singapore will be home to Asia's first river-themed park, River Safari, in less than two years.
It will be the third nature-themed attraction in Mandai - after the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
Together, they are set to become a "must-see" nature-based destination in Asia.
"With its tropical rainforest setting and rich biodiversity, Mandai area provides a compelling contrast to the largely urban environment of Singapore, with the potential to attract five million visitors a year," said Senior Minister of State, Trade and Industry, S Iswaran.
And Wildlife Reserves Singapore is confident of its strong appeal.
Claire Chiang, Chairperson, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "This therefore provides a platform, for recreation, for edutainment, and for tourism, we are positive that it is going to add value.
River Safari is also touted to be the world's first and only river-themed park. It is expected to attract at least 820,000 visitors annually. The park is expected to be completed by the first half of 2012.
The park will cost some $180 million to build - $40 million more than the previous budget due to rising costs.
For an admission fee of $28 to $30, visitors can enjoy boat rides and soak in the freshwater habitats of famous rivers.
Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said: "Rivers such as the river Nile, Yangtze River, Mississippi, Amazon [and] even the frozen river of Tundra will be featured in the river safari.
"On top of that, we have two major theme park rides - white water rides where they can see Malayan Tigers, and the Southeast Asia habitat plus the Amazon slow boat ride where they go on a boat to see more than 20 different types of animals from the Amazon River."
The park will feature more than 300 plant species and 500 animal species.
These include creatures like the anaconda, electric eel and a 350kg mekong river catfish.
The animals are being brought in from various institutions through exchange programmes.
River Safari will also be home to the Giant Pandas from China when they arrive by the third quarter of 2011 as part of a joint collaboration with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
Each panda is expected to consume some 20kg of bamboo. And for this, different species of bamboo, will be planted throughout the enclosure.
When operational, the park will open from 9am to 9pm.
A minute's silence was observed at the groundbreaking ceremony as a mark of respect to the late Dr Goh Keng Swee, the brainchild behind Jurong Bird Park which opened in 1971. - CNA/fa
Artist impression of River Safari park
05-22-2010, 12:03 AM #1840
S'pore-China farm plans
The Straits Times
May 22, 2010
Temasek unit studying feasibility of jointly developing food zone
By Lee Yen Nee
SINGAPORE could gain access to a major new source of meat, fruit and vegetables if a massive new farming project in north-eastern China takes off.
At 1,450 sq km, the China Jilin (Singapore) Modern Agricultural Food Zone will be more than twice the size of Singapore and will produce everything from pork, beef and dairy products to rice, strawberries and ginseng.
The ambitious multibillion-dollar project is a collaboration between the Jilin city municipal government and various Singapore agencies.
Chief among them is Singbridge International Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, which yesterday signed an agreement with the Jilin Municipal Government to study the commercial feasibility of jointly developing the food zone.
The study is expected to take nine months to complete and if the project is given the green light, Singbridge and the Jilin municipal government will jointly invest in the food zone, which will take 15 years to build in three phases.
Singapore has yet to reveal the potential size of its investment in the project, but Jilin officials said yesterday that the Chinese expect to sink in a total of 110 billion yuan (S$22.7 billion).
A woman takes her pick from a pile of tomatoes at a stall in Serangoon Road. Singapore has yet to reveal the potential size of its investment in the project, but Jilin officials said yesterday that the Chinese expect to sink in a total of 110 billion yuan (S$22.7 billion). -- PHOTO: MY
05-22-2010, 01:11 AM #1841
Singapore navy testing unmanned mine-hunter
22 May 2010 1339 hrs
SINGAPORE : The Singapore navy is testing an unmanned underwater vessel capable of detecting and destroying mines as part of its modernisation plans, a report said Saturday.
The remotely-controlled mine-hunting vessel is able to operate at depths of 100 metres (330 feet) for up to five hours and hit a maximum speed of six knots, the Straits Times reported.
Electronic devices attached to the 2.5 metre-long vessel, which is developed locally, enable it to scan the seabed to detect and destroy mines.
The vessel is part of the Singapore Navy's drive to modernise its fleet using unmanned systems.
It will be able to undertake tasks "too dangerous and difficult" for navy personnel, the newspaper quoted Chief of Navy Chew Men Leong as saying.
The navy currently has two types of unmanned surface vessels in active service, but both do not possess mine-hunting capabilities, the report said.
Mine-hunting is important for the Singapore navy because the city-state is located near the Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. - AFP/jy
The Republic of Singapore Navy
05-22-2010, 01:37 AM #1842
Navy's role ever-expanding
11:00 AM May 22, 2010
by Zul Othman
SINGAPORE - The world as we know it is shrinking but the role of one of the smallest navies in the world - the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) - is expanding.
This was the observation Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral Chew Men Leong (picture), made during his interview with the media on Tuesday.
To illustrate his point, RAdm Chew, 42, said the RSN has been actively contributing to international challenges while cooperating with other countries in a bid to keep sea lanes open.
One example was the RSN's recent mission in the Gulf of Aden.
In that mission, 48 Singapore Navy, Air Force and Army servicemen comprising officers and specialists led the Combined Task Force 151 in the area.
They commanded more than 2,500 personnel and six ships from various countries including Britain, the United States and South Korea.
The group ended its three-month tour of duty last month.
A mission like this, RAdm Chew added, allows the RSN to make a meaningful contribution to maritime safety.
He said: "We also gain good sets of knowledge to work with a multi-national force and at times lead them ... this is an area the Navy will continue to make a contribution to."
Closer to home, the RSN is also working with regional forces in maintaining maritime security in surrounding waters to ensure that commerce and trade are not affected.
The training of its people is also a priority because "our people can step forward with a sense of shared values (while we) imbibe in our people the will to fight and rise to the occasion and take on the challenges head on".
To drive home that point, the seventh Navy Open House - which begins on Saturday and ends on Sunday at Changi Naval Base - will feature an interactive exhibition showcasing the personnel of the RSN.
05-22-2010, 11:48 AM #1843
The Straits Times
May 22, 2010
M'sian PM in town for retreat
MALAYSIA'S Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit Singapore from 23 to 24 May for a retreat with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said the Foreign Ministry on Saturday.
PM Najib will be accompanied by his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor. The Malaysian delegation also includes the foreign affairs, international trade and industry, transport and home affairs ministers.
PM Lee will host PM Najib to a welcome dinner. During the retreat, both countries will discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional developments.
Last edited by Loh; 05-22-2010 at 11:51 AM.
05-22-2010, 11:33 PM #1844
Special Envoy senses Romania's 'good effort'
11:01 AM May 22, 2010
by Satishkumar Cheney
SINGAPORE - Singapore's Special Envoy to Romania said on Friday that he sensed a "good effort" by the Romanian authorities to move the hit-and-run case involving former diplomat Silviu Ionescu forward.
Mr Anil Kumar Nayar, who was in the capital Bucharest this week, was also "cautiously optimistic" that Romanian officials "will do their best to make their visit soon" to look at the facts of the case.
The officials "need to sort out some administrative and logistic details" before they can come to Singapore, he added.
Ionescu is wanted in Singapore in connection with a hit-and-run accident last December, which killed one pedestrian. He's now in the custody of the Romanian authorities.
Mr Nayar and a delegation of legal experts went to Bucharest on Tuesday to assist the Romanian authorities in the case.
Their visit ended on Friday with the Special Envoy having met officials from the Romanian foreign and justice ministries as well as officials from the Prosecutor's Office.
During a teleconference with Singapore reporters here, Mr Nayar said details cannot be given as investigations are still on. But the tone and direction appear positive.
"After talking to them, our sense is that in line with the commitment given by the Foreign Minister of Romania to Minister George Yeo, a good effort is indeed being taken so far to move this case forward in line with the shared objectives, I think, of the two countries to make sure that justice is served," Mr Nayar said.
The Special Envoy said that more work needs to be done to make sure the momentum is sustained, not just on the Ionescu case but in terms of bilateral relations as well. There will be some exchange of information between both countries in the coming days, he added.
As to Ionescu's whereabouts, Mr Nayar said they were told by the Romanian officials that the former diplomat is currently under detention for a 29-day period.
"We were told by the Prosecutor's Office that he is under detention. We don't think he is under house arrest. That means he is detained somewhere," Mr Nayar said.
(Unable to attach pic in this new system )
05-23-2010, 08:32 PM #1845
One star, 17 suitors
11:00 AM May 22, 2010
Sports School tight-lipped about coaches who have applied to train Tao Li
by Tan Yo-Hinn
SINGAPORE - Seventeen coaches are in the queue to train Singapore swim star Tao Li in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, after the 2008 Beijing Games 100m butterfly finalist parted ways with long-time mentor Peter Churchill last month.
While the Singapore Sports School - where Tao Li is a first-year student in their through-train programme with the Auckland University of Technology - would not release the names of the applicants, MediaCorp understands that they have applied for the post of senior coach at the school's swimming academy.
"Seventeen coaches have submitted an application and we are on track in our search for a coach to replace Churchill," school principal Deborah Tan told MediaCorp on Friday.
"We are happy with the quality of the applicants. An evaluation committee will arrive at an initial shortlist of coaches with the relevant experience, which will be further reviewed. Interviews will commence shortly after that."
Applications closed on Monday.
The selection process will not only involve the Sports School, but also other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, the Singapore Sports Council and Singapore Swimming Association (SSA). The new coach is likely to start work by July.
The school's search for a senior coach started earlier this month, with one of the requirements being that the successful person must have at least 10 years' experience with senior international swimmers. He or she must also possess a proven track-record of medal success at international meets in the 50m, 100m and 200m events.
Apart from preparing the school's elite swimmers for national representation at the SEA Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, world championships and Olympics, the person who is selected would also have to design and implement the training and competition plans, and work closely with the SSA's high performance team to advise and assist them in implementing development and elite programmes.
Churchill, who began coaching Tao Li in 2006, has returned to Australia after resiging from the job.
The swimmer felt she needed a new training programme and coach in order to make the step up to the London Games, as she was getting "too comfortable" with the Australian's routine.
The 20-year-old butterfly specialist is regarded as one of the Republic's brightest hopes for a medal at the London Olympics based on her performance at the Cube in Bejing two years ago, where she became the first Singaporean to reach an Olympic swimming final.
Tao Li, who had set a then-Asian record of 57.54sec in the semi-finals of the 100m fly, finished fifth in the final, clocking 57.99s. The China-born Singaporean first hit the headlines when she won the women's 50m fly at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha - the first Singaporean to strike gold at the Asiad since Ang Peng Siong at the New Delhi Games in 1982.
Tao Li is currently at a training camp in Hubei.
Last edited by Loh; 05-23-2010 at 08:36 PM.
05-23-2010, 09:08 PM #1846
A giant in our midst
05:55 AM May 24, 2010
by Lee Hsien Loong Prime Minister
May I, on behalf of the Government and people of Singapore, convey our deepest condolences to Mrs Goh and the family of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee on his passing at the age of 91.
Great leaders shape and influence the course of events through their actions and ideas. Singapore is a small country with a short history. But we too have had giants in our midst - men who have turned the tide for Singapore, and created a successful nation against the odds.
Dr Goh was one of our nation's founding fathers. In our formative years, he dealt with the most pressing problems of the day. But more importantly, he introduced sweeping initiatives that set the basis for the country's long-term prosperity and security. Without him, much of today's Singapore would not exist.
Dr Goh was a nationalist and a strong advocate for independence from British rule. After earning his PhD in England, he worked for a few years in the social welfare department, while supporting the People's Action Party (PAP) from behind the scenes. In 1959, Singapore won self-governing status from the British, and General Elections were held. Dr Goh resigned as a civil servant to contest as a PAP candidate. When the PAP won, Dr Goh became our first Finance Minister.
Dr Goh soon discovered that the Government was almost broke, and expected a budget deficit of $14 million that year. Prudent and thrifty by nature, Dr Goh immediately introduced drastic measures to cut spending, including cutting civil service salaries. This was obviously unpopular, but Dr Goh stood firm.
When he delivered the Budget at the end of the year, he proudly declared that the Government had achieved a small surplus of $1 million.
He had drafted the speech personally, after secluding himself on the remote island of Raffles Lighthouse to concentrate on the task. Dr Goh set the tone for the PAP Government, which ever since has steadfastly upheld budget discipline and fiscal prudence.
A RADICAL, UNTESTED APPROACH
Dr Goh next turned his attention to jump-starting the stagnant economy. He decided on a strategy of rapid industrial*isation, attracting investments from MNCs to create jobs and exports. This was a radical and untested approach. It was contrary to the conventional wisdom then, that poor countries could achieve economic development through import substitution, and that MNCs were new colonial powers out to exploit impoverished workers in the Third World.
Key to the industrialisation programme was an ambitious project to transform the swamps of Jurong into a modern industrial estate. Dr Goh saw this as "an act of faith in the people of Singapore". He and his friend, Mr Hon Sui Sen, then chairman of the Economic Develop*ment Board, set out to develop Jurong with energy and determination.
The strategy did not work immediately. Investors were put off by the instability and mayhem created by the communists and their sympathisers. There were more troubles after Singapore joined Malaysia, and the federal government in Kuala Lumpur controlled the award of Pioneer Certificates (for tax holidays) to investors. Not a single application for Pioneer Certificates was approved during this period. Given these problems, Jurong made little progress. Cynics mocked the venture, calling it "Goh's Folly".
But after independence we left these problems behind. The industrialisation strategy proved its worth, and Jurong industrial estate took off. By 1968, almost 300 factories operated in Jurong, employing 21,000 workers.
Today, the Jurong project has far outgrown its geographical boundaries. Jurong Town Corporation was renamed JTC Corporation, because it was managing industrial estates all over Singapore, not just in Jurong. JTC Corporation has also spun off commercial arms, like Ascendas and JTC International, which have planned and built industrial parks and townships in many Asian countries. These successes have won Singapore an international reputation as a first-class infrastructure provider.
THE S'PORE DOLLAR LEGACY
Dr Goh pioneered many other economic institutions. He helped create the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), where he laid out the policies that produced a stable Singapore dollar and preserved the purchasing power of Singaporeans, not least their CPF savings.
Years after Dr Goh retired, I served as chairman of MAS. My task was to revise and update MAS' policies, many of which traced back to Dr Goh. We changed course very cautiously, always mindful of the good reasons and careful analysis that underpinned the original policies.
For example, Dr Goh firmly opposed allowing market players free rein to speculate on the Singapore dollar, say, by borrowing Singa*pore dollars in order to short the currency.
Our small, open economy depended too much on a stable exchange rate. MAS applied a very strict policy, famously known as "the non-internationalisation of the Singa*pore dollar".
By the late '90s, we needed to relax these restrictions, in order to grow the fund management industry in Singapore.
We did so in careful, incremental steps, over several years, loosening the implementation but never giving up the principle.
Beyond economics, Dr Goh helped to steer our nation through its difficult birth. His was often a backroom role, developing strategies and arguments to counter first the communists and then the communalists.
But his robust attitude encouraged the whole team to press on against seemingly unwinnable odds, eventually to prevail and create today's Singapore.
WRANGLING TALENT FOR SAF
Once Singapore became independent, we faced a pressing need to develop a defence capability and safeguard ourselves in a dangerous world.
Although Dr Goh initially knew little about military matters, he took on the heavy responsibility as our first Defence Minister, and built up the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from scratch.
Dr Goh took a personal interest in all aspects of the SAF. No detail was too small for him. I once followed him to visit a field engineer defence exercise. We passed one site where the troops were digging a large bunker. It was a hive of activity: All the soldiers swarming over the work site, hard at work. This did not escape Dr Goh's practised eye. He commented that the soldiers should have been divided up into shifts - one-third working, one-third resting, and one-third on guard. They should not all be working at once, and especially not to impress the minister.
Dr Goh understood that what counted most to the SAF was ability and talent. The SAF needed commanders and staff officers with the leadership qualities, intellectual abilities and professional competence to build and operate a modern, high-tech defence force. He created Project Wrangler, a talent management scheme overseen personally by the minister, to identify promising officers, and systematically track, groom and advance them to key command and staff appointments. He introduced the SAF Scholarship scheme to induct top talent into the SAF.
But he did not forget the older officers, mostly non-graduates, who had got the SAF off the ground: So, he implemented a programme to enable deserving ones among them to study for Master's degrees at Duke University in military history and strategy.
This is why today we have a cadre of capable and committed SAF leaders who understand defence technology, appreciate the strategic context, and can make sound decisions on and off the battlefield to ensure Singa*pore's security.
Without such a team, we could not have built up, nor could we operate the 3G SAF, a professional and credible deterrent force respected alike by Singaporeans, partners and other armed forces in Asia and around the world.
I was in the first batch of SAF Scholars. Dr Goh took a special interest in us, and met us before we left for our overseas studies. He presented us each with two military classics: Sun Tzu's Art of War and Liddell Hart's Strategy: The Indirect Approach.
He had specially ordered the books, and inscribed them to each of the young second lieutenants, "wishing you a successful military career". Dr Goh's gesture showed both his grasp of strategy and security issues, as well as his keen interest in nurturing talent for the SAF.
THE LIVES HE CHANGED
Dr Goh's last ministry was education. Here, too, he introduced major reforms, leaving his imprint on a fundamentally changed education system. His approach was systematic, analytical, and results oriented.
Today, nearly every student completes secondary education, masters both English and a mother tongue, and attains standards of mathematics and science that are among the highest in any country. As in so many other areas, Dr Goh's work laid the foundation on which his successors have built, to reach greater heights.
With a creative mind and wide-ranging interests, Dr Goh had a tremendous zest for life and work. He would come up with new ideas every day for the civil servants to study and implement. Submissions to him frequently came back covered with corrections, to polish the language and sharpen the arguments, or sometimes demolish them.
Many young officers benefited from his guidance. Their careers and lives were changed by their interaction with Dr Goh, who more than once intervened at critical points to overcome an obstacle or to guide them in the right direction.
They included President S R Nathan, Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Wong Kan Seng, Mr Mah Bow Tan, and Mr S Dhanabalan, as well as Permanent Secretaries like Ngiam Tong Dow, Lim Siong Guan, Philip Yeo, and Joe Pillay, and many others.
Dr Goh was a hard task-master but also a teacher and mentor. He recognised good work, and would back officers who had done well. He promoted and appointed people on merit, disregarding seniority in order to get the job done. He would fight for their promotions, which were not always within his dispensation because he needed to persuade the Public Service Commission. He would stand up for them publicly.
I remember when I resigned from the SAF to enter politics, an Opposition MP filed a Parliamentary question which was obviously targeted at me. Dr Goh was then no longer the Minister for Defence, but he nevertheless rose in Parliament to defend me, and the integrity of Mindef's personnel and promotion system, in his usual robust style. Many other officers who served him had similar experiences.
Dr Goh also had a fun side to him. In Mindef, he became frustrated that directives from headquarters to the units were having so little effect.
As an experiment, he ordered a directive issued to all units that comprised nothing but the Bible passage on Noah's Ark. The directive made its way through the organisation - some units simply passed it on to their subor*dinate units for implementation, others filed it for reference, and only one person asked what it was for. Dr Goh wrote up the results into a paper, which he entitled Noah's Ark Progresses through the SAF.
CHARACTER AND COMPASSION
Dr Goh's writings and speeches reflected his depth of thinking and broad range of reference. He published three volumes - The Practice of Economic Growth, The Economics of Modernisation, and The Wealth of East Asian Nations. Many of the pieces are gems that remain well worth reading today, decades later. Those wishing to learn about economic management and governance in modern Singapore will gain much from studying them.
A whole generation of Singaporeans has grown up enjoying the fruits of growth and prosperity, because one of our ablest sons decided to fight for Singapore's independence, progress and future. Instead of pursuing a private career, Dr Goh chose to serve the larger good, and stayed in public service for more than 25 years.
Thousands have paid their last respects to Dr Goh this last week, in gratitude for what he had done for Singapore, and often personally to themselves.
The media have reported a few of their stories - the old lady who was visited by Dr Goh when the family was very poor; another lady whom Dr Goh had come across as a little girl weeping in school, and had comforted; the young navy officer who reported to Dr Goh after making a grave mistake, but was forgiven because he owned up.
These personal gestures and kindnesses reflected Dr Goh's character and compassion, which underpinned his enormous contributions to Singapore.
Singapore is forever indebted to Dr Goh Keng Swee.
(BTW Dr Goh was born in Malacca.)
Last edited by Loh; 05-23-2010 at 09:14 PM.
05-23-2010, 09:20 PM #1847
A nation says goodbye
Updated 07:10 AM May 24, 2010
by Zul Othman
SINGAPORE - He was, as Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew put it, "a slow developer" at college. Yet he rose to be Mr Lee's "troubleshooter" during Singapore's crucial formative years, taking on the toughest of jobs in Government and making the greatest impact, of all his Cabinet colleagues, on Singapore's future.
Yesterday, the late Deputy Prime Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee - who died on May 14 at the age of 91 after a long illness - was given a State funeral, befitting a founding father who had served over two decades in Government holding portfolios from defence to education and finance.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was among the foreign dignitaries who paid their last respects at Parliament House earlier in the day. More than 18,000 others had come to bid Dr Goh farewell as his body lay in State since Thursday.
Dr Goh's casket arrived at the Singapore Conference Hall at about 2pm atop an Artillery Gun Carriage towed by a ceremonial Land Rover and flanked by a military escort. The motorcade, led by family members, followed.
The casket was draped with a state flag, the highest honour given to a man in recognition of his services to the nation.
Dr Goh's only son, Mr Goh Kian Chee, led the eight pallbearers from the Police and Singapore Armed Forces into the auditorium followed by Dr Goh's wife, Dr Phua Swee Liang, and other family members. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra played a tribute to its founder and patron as Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam received the family.
During the solemn 90-minute ceremony, which started at 2.30pm, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recalled how Dr Goh as Singapore's first Finance Minister turned the economy around by introducing "drastic measures" that helped turn the Budget from a deficit of $14 million to a surplus of $1 million a year later.
In his eulogy, MM Lee paid tribute to Dr Goh as the man who made the greatest difference to the outcome for Singapore. The nation has now lost "a remarkable and outstanding son", he said.
As the tributes flowed, the words of two younger members of the family about their love for a doting grandfather, showed the warm side of a usually taciturn public figure. Many among the 850 invited guests, from ministers, diplomats, officials, military personnel and students, were seen wiping away tears.
In his eulogy, Dr Goh's grandson, Mr Goh Ken-yi, a 37-year-old bank officer, remembered how his grandfather would fall asleep while telling him a bedtime story. "Being the spoilt child that I was, I would nudge him awake and he would always continue despite his own fatigue."
Grandniece Marian Hui,15, described Dr Goh as "the epitome of consideration" - recalling how he once chose the cheapest entree for himself at a birthday dinner. "He did not want us to pay more than what was necessary. He was just happy to be there," she said.
President S R Nathan presented the state flag and four medals, including The Darjah Utama Temasek (Order Of Temasek - First Class), to Mrs Goh. At about 4pm, a lone bugle sounded The Last Post to conclude the ceremony. MM Lee went over to Mrs Goh and offered his condolences.
A final private ceremony was held for family members at the Mandai crematorium.
Retiree Osman Talib, 67, said: "Some of Dr Goh's policies may not have been popular but he helped shaped this country into what it is today."
05-23-2010, 09:31 PM #1848
As my troubleshooter, I gave him toughest jobs in Govt: MM
05:55 AM May 24, 2010
SINGAPORE - In the tumultuous years following Singapore's independence, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew considered it his "good fortune to have strong men" around him. And the late Dr Goh Keng Swee - his close friend and troubleshooter - was one of them.
"Of all my Cabinet colleagues, it was Goh Keng Swee who made the greatest difference to the outcome for Singapore," Mr Lee said at Dr Goh's State funeral, in a eulogy many had been anticipating - Mr Lee's first public comments on his long-time colleague since his death.
"He had a capacious mind and a strong character. When he held a contrary view, he would challenge my decisions and make me re-examine the premises on which they were made. As a result, we reached better decisions for Singapore.
"In the middle of a crisis, his analysis was always sharp, with an academic detachment and objectivity that reassured me. His robust approach to problems encouraged me to press on against seemingly impossible odds."
Describing Dr Goh as a "slow developer" who did not shine academically until he got to Raffles College, Mr Lee said they became "close friends" after they met in London in 1949-1950.
Dr Goh was then studying at the London School of Economics on a scholarship while the young Lee was preparing for his Bar finals.
"We shared a common view that we could run Singapore and Malaya better than the British colonial officials ...
"Together with Kenny Byrne, Toh Chin Chye and S Rajaratnam, we planned to build up a mass movement, to form a political party, win elections and take over from the colonialists," Mr Lee said.
While Dr Goh was "hopeless as a campaign orator", he was a man with a "formidable analytical mind", Mr Lee said.
Referring to Singapore's short-lived merger with Malaysia, Mr Lee noted that after two years of constant friction and two race riots, he had asked Dr Goh in July 1965 to negotiate "a looser re-arrangement for Singapore but keep Singapore within the Federation".
"He (Dr Goh) decided that the best alternative was a clean break," Mr Lee said.
Calling Dr Goh his "troubleshooter", Mr Lee added: "I settled the political conditions so that his tough policies we together formulated could be executed.
"I gave him the toughest jobs in government: The Ministry of Finance from 1959 to 1965 when economic survival was crucial; Ministry of Defence in 1965 when all we had were two battalions of the Singapore Infantry Regiment, that then had more Malaysians than Singaporean soldiers."
And when the British announced they would withdraw their forces in 1967, ?"I sent him back to the Ministry of Finance to deal with the loss of 20 per cent of our GDP with the withdrawal of the British military spending".
Mr Lee also spoke of how Dr Goh persuaded him to subsidise the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Zoological Garden, Jurong Bird Park, Sentosa, the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden, so Singaporeans could "have a feel for beauty and the arts".
Years later, when it was time for leadership renewal, "Keng Swee and Rajaratnam helped me to select and ensure that we had a team of younger men who would take over the Government without a drop in competence, drive or dynamism".
"With his passing, we have lost a remarkable and outstanding son," Mr Lee added.
05-23-2010, 09:39 PM #1849
S'pore: Lowest child mortality
The Straits Times
May 24, 2010
PARIS - SINGAPORE is ranked first in the world for the lowest estimated rates of children under five who die each year for 2010, followed by Iceland, Sweden, Cyprus and Luxembourg.
In the United States - whose ranking has dropped from 20th to 42 since 1970 - the mortality rate is nearly double the European average. But the proportion of under-five children who die each year across the globe has dropped 60 per cent over the past four decades, according to a study published Monday.
In the last 20 years this salutary decline has accelerated, with the number of deaths among newborns, infants and one-to-four year olds falling from 11.9 million to an estimated 7.7 million in 2010, the new figures show.
That remains a staggeringly large number of young lives lost, many to preventable diseases and overwhelmingly in the world's poorest nations. A child born today in Chad, Mali or Nigeria is nearly sixty times less likely to see her or his fifth birthday than one born in Scandinavia. And progress still falls short of the trajectory needed to meet the UN's Millennium Development goal of slashing child deaths globally by 66 per cent between 1990 and 2015.
But the decline in under-five mortality is still an encouraging achievement, and suggests further progress is possible, the report says. Even at the current rate of improvement, there are 31 countries on pace to meet the UN benchmark for 2015, including Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia and Egypt.
All told, 54 of the 187 nations examined in the study are poised to reach the goal. In 1970 there were more than 200 under-five deaths for every 1,000 live births, the measure used to rank nations in this grim index. By 1990, that list had dwindled to 12, and today no country crosses the 200-death threshold, according to the study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
'One of the biggest achievements of the past 20 years has been this incredible progress in countries that historically have had the highest child mortality in the world,' said Christopher Murray, Director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and co-author of the study. --AFP
05-23-2010, 09:49 PM #1850
Phase one of Woodlands Waterfront opens
23 May 2010 1807 hrs
By Evelyn Choo & Lynda Hong
SINGAPORE : The northern region of Singapore now has a new leisure destination - Woodlands Waterfront.
And the park's launch on Sunday attracted some 2,500 people.
The park was designed with community-based events in mind.
Phase 1 opened up three hectares of the Woodlands Waterfront. The phased opening was by residents' demand.
"The project was actually planned in close collaboration with... input of the grassroots. Many of the facilities that we have provided were for community purposes," said Ler Seng Ann, group director of Conversation & Development Services with Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Although only one-third of the park area has been opened, the URA said the main features are already in place.
One is a playground that's not just for children. Youths can also seek thrills at the two-storey Skywalk and crawl through the playground's tree pods.
The waterfront park, which overlooks the Straits of Johor, will also feature a refurbished 400-metre jetty - a reminder that the park used to be occupied by warehouses.
The remaining six hectares of the Woodlands Waterfront will be opened by the end of the year, with features like the Catilevered Promenade, nature area, trails and green spaces.
When fully completed, the Woodlands Waterfront will be linked to the nearby Admiralty Park and the park connector along Woodlands Centre Road and Admiralty West.
The Woodlands Waterfront will also add on to 1.5km of the 150km-Round Island Route, which allows seamless strolling, jogging or cycling around Singapore.
Construction costs of the park and promenade amounted to $19 million. - CNA /ls
05-24-2010, 08:04 PM #1851
KTMB station in Tanjong Pagar to relocate to Woodlands by July 2011
By S Ramesh | Posted: 24 May 2010 1432 hrs
SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia capped a historic day in relations on Monday with agreement on a long outstanding bilateral issue.
After 20 years, both sides have arrived at a solution on the Malayan Railway Land in Singapore.
The leaders of the two countries agreed to move the station at the heart of the city centre in Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands Train checkpoint, near the border by the 1 July 2011.
The smiles said it all - of a retreat that has been fruitful with significant moves.
The centrepiece must surely be the issue of the railway land and lines, spelt out in the Points of Agreement (POA) signed in 1990.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: "Our focus has been developing our bilateral relationship at a time when we face many challenges in an uncertain and rapidly globalising world.
“There are many competitive alternative centres growing in Asia where we need to work together bilaterally in ASEAN and where we also need to clear issues which have been hanging over us for some time so that we can move forward and develop a win-win relationship.
“It is a matter for rejoicing. It is a good deal. Both sides are happy and this will benefit both sides considerably."
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said: "A year ago, when we met, we decided that we wouldn't allow outstanding bilateral issues to be in the way of developing and strengthening bilateral ties and move forward in areas where we could achieve common agreement between our two sides.
“With that positive mindset in mind, we have achieved much within a year starting with the officials from both sides who have been working very hard to find a common ground.
“Today is quite historic because we see now the light at the end of the tunnel with respect to an outstanding issue which has been lingering for almost 20 years."
Having waited this long, the next move is to move fast.
PM Lee said: "There is urgency. This matter really cannot wait indefinitely because it is already 20 years. And there are many development projects in Singapore which have been held up because the POA has not been implemented as it should have been many years ago."
So the 1990 Points of Agreement has now been supplemented by new terms and conditions to maximise the potential of the Malayan Railway Lands in Singapore.
When the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB station) moves to the Woodlands train checkpoint by 1 July 2011, Malaysia will co-locate its railway Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facility there.
On its part, Singapore would ensure that there are bus services to connect KTMB station at Woodlands with a nearby MRT station for the convenience of train passengers.
Another key issue settled is the development of several land parcels linked to the train line.
Both countries will also set up a company known as M-S Pte Ltd by December 31 this year.
Malaysia will have a 60 per cent stake under Khazanah Nasional Berhard while Singapore will have a 40 per cent share to be held by Temasek Holdings.
This company will handle the joint development of three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands as well as another three pieces of land in Bukit Timah.
These land parcels could be swapped based on the equivalent value for pieces of land in Marina South and Ophir-Rochor.
Both sides will conduct valuation studies.
Prime Minister Lee will visit Kuala Lumpur within a month to discuss the land swap.
The transfer of the land parcel to M-S Pte Ltd will take effect at the time when KTMB vacates the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.
Mr Lee added: "Land prices have been moving over this last one year. You have seen the property market is quite active. That is the reason why we did not settle the land swap today. I wanted an updated valuation.
“On the basis of updated valuations, we will make them an offer and it is up to them whether they want to take the offer for the swap. It is substantial. These are very valuable pieces of land if they are developed.
“And that is why the POA as it was and even more now as it has been updated and rounded up is a win- win proposal for both countries because it enables us to develop the land.
“It enables M-S Private Limited to share in the upside of the land which is KTM land and I think enables us to move forward in so many other areas to cooperate and work together for mutual benefit without having this outstanding issue always there a question mark. If you can't solve this, how can you talk about new things?”
"So with the understanding we have achieved at today's meeting, we can more or less say that the POA agreement with some enhanced features should be finally put to rest particularly when PM Lee meets me in a month's time.
“The spirit and political undertaking is to find a resolution on a mutually beneficial manner so that both countries can benefit the finalisation of the enhanced POA agreement."
Both leaders also agreed the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station's passenger terminal will be conserved given its historical significance. It will also be the centrepiece for the proposed new development on this site.
The job is now in the hands of a joint implementation team.
It has to complete its work by the December 31.
For joint statement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat, click here.
05-24-2010, 08:14 PM #1852
Romanian representatives on Ionescu case to visit Singapore this week
25 May 2010 0008 hrs
SINGAPORE: Romanian representatives of the Joint Technical Working Group on the case of former diplomat Silviu Ionescu have indicated that they would be visiting Singapore this week.
A spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Monday that the Romanian Embassy in Singapore has informed MFA and the Singapore Attorney-General's Chambers of the visit.
The spokesman said Singapore is ready to accommodate the visit despite the short notice given by the Romanian side.
This message was relayed by Singapore's Special Envoy to Romania, Anil Kumar Nayar, when he spoke with the Romanian Foreign Ministry's Secretary of State Doru Costea on Monday.
The Romanian representatives plan to be in Singapore from Wednesday to Saturday.
MFA said the representatives would like to interview a list of witnesses related to the case of Dr Ionescu.
Singapore's Special Envoy also explained to Mr Costea that Friday is Vesak Day, a public holiday in Singapore.
"As such, the Romanian officials would have only one working day to carry out the requested hearing with the available witnesses," the MFA spokesman said.
"Special Envoy Nayar stressed to Secretary of State Costea that the Romanian representatives were welcome to visit during the scheduled dates of 26-29 May 2010, but that they should be prepared to stay for a longer period of time."
MFA said Mr Costea indicated that he would follow up with the Romanian Prosecutor's Office.
The ministry has also sent a Third Party Note to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, asking it to confirm the dates of the visit in order to facilitate the work of the Romanian officials in Singapore.
MFA is still waiting for a response from the Romanian side.
05-26-2010, 12:45 AM #1853
S'pore remains Asia's best
The Straits Times
May 26, 2010
SINGAPORE retained its ranking as the Asian city with the best quality of life, while Hong Kong lags rival financial hubs as it struggles with air pollution, according to a survey by Mercer Consulting, Bloombeg News reported.
Singapore ranks 28 among 221 cities, Tokyo is at 40 and Hong Kong is placed 71, the list shows. The cities are rated on 10 factors including infrastructure, political and social environments, and access to medical care. Hong Kong scored poorly on health concerns, said Cathy Loose, a Tokyo-based Mercer officer who helped compile the list.
'The government hasn't done very much to introduce green measures or reduce pollution,' said Loose, in an interview. The list serves as a compensation guide for expatriate relocation, Bloomberg said.
Hong Kong's air pollution was the worst on record during the past two quarters, sparking regular government health warnings. To address the problem, the government introduced a bill in April proposing a ban on idling engines among other steps, Bloomberg reported.
Hong Kong's effort to cut pollution and protect the environment trails even that of Havana and ranks just above Damascus, the list shows. Overall, Vienna retains the top spot as the world's best city to live in.
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